International Women's Day 2019 Blog

Quotes To Celebrate Women – International Women’s Day 2019

Happy International Women’s Day!

I’m so proud to be a woman, of the wonderful women I surround myself with and those I admire from a distance. So, why not celebrate it with words of wisdom from badass women. Here’s 8 quotes that I loved!

“Know what? Bitches get stuff done” – Tina Fey
Sylvia Plath
“Girls are not machines that you put kindness
coins into and sex falls out” – Sylvia Plath
“Don’t let anyone speak for you,
and don’t rely on others to fight for you”- Michelle Obama

” I’m a woman phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, That’s me.” – Maya Angelou
“No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor.”
– Betty Friedan
” I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I will now exert to leave you.”
– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
” I feel like young girls are told they need to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullsh*t. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princes, I’d be a warrior princess. Definitely.”
– Emma Watson
“I’m tough. I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes a bitch, okay.”
– Madonna

These are just some that I absolutely love, what are yours? Let me know in the comment below!

My Top 10 Mental Health Reads

MHAW18 – My Top 10 Mental Health Reads

 

Seeing as it’s Thursday I decided that instead of my usual review, I would share with you my current top 10 books about or featuring mental health. I was really hard to decide on the final 10 but I think I have a pretty good selection.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
This is one of my favourites books of all time. I read this when I was a student and it just connected on a level I haven’t before with any other book. The plot focuses on Esther a young woman in her early 20s and her descent into mental ill health.

Am I Normal Yet – Holly Bourne
I love Holly Bourne’s YA work and Am I Normal Yet was a great start to her spinster trilogy. Looking at OCD, how to open up to the people around you and the process of recovery. Full review right here.

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
Matt Haig was on the verge of committing suicide, now he’s a best selling author. To get from one to the other he needed reasons to stay alive. This is a beautiful and brilliant book which changes lives. I wrote all about it here.

My Lovely Wife – Mark Luckach
There are very few books I’ve read from the perspective of a partner who has to watch their loved ones go through mental illness. A truly lovely and honest book. You can read my review here.

How Not To Be A Boy – Robert Webb
I’m so in love with this autobiography. This isn’t just about Webb’s life, it looks at death, gender stereotypes, sexuality and toxic masculinity. I raved about it here.

Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
I listened to this as an audiobook and fell in love. Not only does Bryony talk about serious topics such as depression, alopecia and OCD but she also makes you laugh. I’m a huge believer in laughter being a great healer. You can read my full thoughts here.
Nina is Not Ok – Shappi Khorsandi
This is the first YA novel I’ve read looking at alcoholism in a young person. I went through so many emotions reading it. A tough but important read.

Ariel – Sylvia Plath
I know, I know Plath again BUT her poetry is incredible. This is a beautiful collection and Plath’s last before her suicide. The imagery, the emotion. I can’t get enough.
It’s All in Your Head – Rae Earl
Confession, I’d never read anything by Rae Earl before and this was a great place to start. This is part manual, part memoir and wholly excellent. I loved this and it would benefit anyone and I highly recommend it.

When We Collided – Emery Lord
This is a wonderful YA novel which isn’t obvious it is about mental illness at the beginning. This is mostly about friendship, love and healing. Two teenagers, a summer and a beautiful novel. Full review here.

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

Self Doubt and Creativity

I love Sylvia Plath, back when I was at university, not knowing who I was or what I was doing (although that’s still ongoing). There is something about Plath that spoke to me in so many different ways, but there is something she knew well. The fight between self-doubt and creativity.

I’ve always found myself to be a creative person, writing stories and poems since I was small, singing, acting, dancing. When you’re young, for many there is no such thing as self-doubt, you dream and you do, that’s it. It’s only as you get older that a voice pipes up in your mind, not of hope, but of doubt.

For the past few years, I’ve had my heart set on writing a book, my laptop currently full of ideas and different starts. I have poems and song scrawled in notebooks at mine and my parents. I can’t help but have these ideas come into my head and keep going. That said, they remain unfinished and I know why. That little monster of self-doubt creeps in eventually and makes me want to get rid of it all!

With all this in mind, I want to get rid of my fear. I want to break free of my self-doubt and internal criticism. So, I’ve started just writing and not reading over it as soon as I finish. I’ve also been listening occasionally to the audiobook of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

How do you help yourself when it comes to self-doubt and creative fear? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday Seven: My To Be Read Pile

Now it’s getting colder and days curled up in blankets are more acceptable I thought I’d share some of the books on my To Be Read (TBR) pile. There’s a lot more than this, but these are some I’m planning to finish in the next few weeks.

A Clash of Kings – George R.R. Martin 

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It’s been a while since I finished the first Game of Thrones book so I thought it was time I should get stuck into the next one in the series. After all, Winter is coming.

Shrill – Lindy West 

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A fab feminist read, because I always need a good book from a kick-ass woman on the go.

The Wicked and The Divine: Rising Action – Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrator), Matt Wilson (Illustrator)

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This is one of the weirdest graphic novel series’s that I read and I’m SO excited, can’t wait to get this read!

Hello Me, It’s You –  Anonymous, edited by Hannah Todd 

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I requested this from the publisher, mostly because I’m interested in what other people would say to their younger selves. I really hope this is as good as I think it’s going to be.

Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer

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A young adult novel that has something to do with Sylvia Plath? Sign me up!

In Order to Live – Yeonmi Park 

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I don’t know a lot about North Korea. I’m hoping that Yeonmi’s account, which I’ve heard only good things about, can teach me about what it’s like for the people.

Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan

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I’m always interested in reading other people’s accounts of their lives with mental illness. Susannah’s book was recommended to me on Goodreads.

What’s on your reading list? Let me know in the comments below!

Harry Potter Spells Tag!

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I found this over on my friend Becky’s new blog (check her out here) it combines three of my favourite things, Harry Potter, books and fun tags. So, here we go! Remember I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

  1. Expecto Patronum – a childhood book connected to good memories

 

Lola Rose – Jacqueline Wilson

This was the first time I met an author I really admired and got a book signed. It was the first time I saw an author as a real person and she signed in pink pen. Pink. Pen.

2. Expelliarmus – a book that took you by surprise

How to Be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

I tried reading this initially when it was first released, but I was too young to get it and thought she was a bit mad. I read it again last Summer before starting a Writing Women class and it changed my life and made me embrace feminism. I never thought it would become one of my favourite books.

3. Prior Incantato – The last book you read

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. So freaking good.

4. Alohamora – A book that introduced you to a genre you hadn’t considered before

Star Wars Moving Target made me realise I might like Sci-fi and give it a go.

5. Riddikulus – a funny book you’ve read

Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling. Kaling’s second book was MUCH better than her first and had me in stitches.

6. Sonorous – a book you think everyone should know about

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

I cannot describe what this book means to me, or how much Plath means to me as a writer. There are few books that deserve the title of classic, but The Bell Jar really, really does.

7. Obliviate – a book or spoiler you would like to forget having read

The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult, that spoiler was incredible.

 

8. Imperio – A book you had to read for school

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Most people hate the books they’re forced to read, I on the other hand fell in love with TKAM. It started my love for reading novels about and based in the civil rights era and the treatment of African Americans.

9. Crucio – a book that was painful to read

I’m choosing to see this in the light of a book that was so GOOD it put you in pain emotionally.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green.

My heart still hurts. Still.

 

10. Avada Kedavra – a book that could kill (interpret as you will)

 

Maestra by L.S. Hilton

Sex, Scandal, Murder. Don’t give this book to your Nan, could induce a heart attack.

As always if you’d like to do this tag then go right ahead! Drop me a link in the comments as I’d love to read your responses!

Image from Pinterest.

My Top 10 books featuring Mental Health

I love reading about mental health, I love characters who feel real to me who can educate others about all the different experiences. My Mum once asked me if it made me more depressed to read about others and it really doesn’t. On a bad day it might be a little bit more difficult but I’ll put the book down and do something else and go back later on. When I read these books I feel educated about other illnesses or other symptoms, I’m reminded that this is just a PART of a person, not everything about them and I feel comforted, like being in some kind of family of people who understand. One day I aim to write my own book about mental health, I have ideas for both fiction and nonfiction, but I’ll let you know more about that when I manage to start it! The books listed aren’t in any particular author but I loved them all and they each taught me something. Enjoy!

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The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

As my regular readers know I absolutely adore Sylvia Plath, so much so I wrote my Undergraduate dissertation on her work (see here if you want to know more!). Plath is known as much for her suicide as her work, which is a sad fact. The Bell Jar, however, was focused on Plath’s younger life as a college student who’s confused to say the least and the impact this has on her mental health. Few novels have spoken to me in the way this one has, one of my ultimate favourites, written in a time where women couldn’t speak about mental illness, but Sylvia defied them all.

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Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Haig’s book is recent but now well known. This book is for not only people living with a mental health condition but also for their loved ones. The tone of the book is refreshingly honest and open, imagining conversations between past and present self and really showing you that life is worth living, even if it tries to kick your butt. See my review here.

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Brave Girl Eating- Harriet Brown

Memoirs like this appear to be few and far between, while we’re used to reading memoirs from survivors of eating disorders it’s uncommon to read the perspective of the family around them. Brave Girl Eating is written by a mother who is watching her daughter starve herself to death, it’s about trying to understand and support her while dealing with her own emotions and caring for the rest of her family. An incredible book I could not recommend enough.

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It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini

The first YA novel in this list, Vizzini really understood what he was writing about and how to portray it. The best thing about this novel is the way in which recovery was written about and how people hide their illness. Lovable characters and a great ending too. Read my review here.

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All of the Above – Juno Dawson

This novel really reminded me of the importance of friends in the face of mental illness. I’m a firm believer that having friends who have been mentally ill is one of the most precious things, having someone that understands and has been through what you’re going through is such a relief. Dawson takes us on a rollercoaster of emotions with this novel I laughed, I cried and I loved all of the characters. A definite must read.

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The Time In Between – Nancy Tucker

Nancy’s memoir of life with an eating disorder was both charming and fascinating. I also admired the fact that she refused to use numbers in the memoir, as she didn’t want it to encourage anyone else with an eating disorder, she is very mindful of this. The book goes through not only Nancy’s fight and recovery but also the reasons behind her eating disorder as she understands what they are. Wonderfully written and well thought out too.

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The Skeleton Cupboard – Tanya Byron

Another memoir that shows a fascinating perspective. We often forget that mental health professionals are people too. The novel follows the now well known Tanya Byron’s early years training to be a clinical psychologist dealing with the reason she chose this path, her patients, supervisors and the emotional hardships of doing this work. It made me really think of all the people working in mental health and appreciate all that they have to go through.

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The Illustrated Mum – Jacqueline Wilson

Wilson never shied away from dealing with difficult subjects in children’s novels. The Illustrated Mum was my first encounter with mental illness in literature, of course I didn’t really understand at the time but I just accepted that the Mum was poorly. That was that. The older I get I realise how heartbreaking this book was and how much it might help children with mentally ill parents to know they’re not alone. Dolphin and Star’s Mum has tattoos all over her body, a big temper and the girls manage as best as they can with her various moods, as an older reader I now understand that the Mum has Bipolar Disorder. These kind of books teach kids about different people and situations, I think Wilson’s books made me the empathic person I am today. Even as an adult this is worth a read.

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Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic – Carrie Fisher 

For my last two I have included Carrie Fisher’s memoirs. They’ve had mixed reviews on amazon and goodreads but personally I loved them. Carrie talks openly about shock therapy, the influence her childhood had and the life she lived alongside having undiagnosed bipolar disorder. The best part though is Carrie’s humor, I like it when people can still have humor talking about mental health, because we’re still people and it’s about knowing what’s appropriate. The only downside to these is that they’re short, I’d love to have known more BUT these were also used when Carrie went on tour with them so I understand. Either way for me humor is vital in defeating low days and Carrie certainly has a lot of it!

 

 

 

Going, going, gone- Goodbye Dissertation

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If you are following me on any social media, Twitter, Instagram any friends I have on Facebook I now apologise for the avalanche of dissertation related posts for the past few weeks. It really has been my life, every minute I had ‘free’ was spent on my dissertation, reading, editing, re-reading, having a meltdown, carrying on and finally submitting!! Yes today at about 2.30pm I finally handed in my printed and bound dissertation and it felt so good. So, so good.

It doesn’t mean I’m finished, I have two more assignments to finish and submit before everything is done but I do feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I know for a fact I handed in looking exhausted and I don’t really care about that because I am absolutely exhausted! I’m hoping that the next two essays don’t leave me working until 3am (they’re a lot smaller) and so I’ll just feel better.

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THE selfie I’ve been waiting to take for three years

I’m in two minds about whether, if I started my degree all over again, I would take a dissertation again if I had a choice. Looking back on this year and the stresses and strains I’ve had because of my health and my body I would probably been better doing two special studies, but hey ho it’s done and dusted now. Sylvia Plath will always hold a special place in my heart, hell I think I could even write a book on her if I wanted after all the research I’ve done for this! I mean I’m not going to, Sylvia is now just for pleasure reading. On that thought, ah pleasure reading, the TBR list is piling up now!

Honestly, I just feel so happy that it’s over and yes there are niggling little thoughts but I’m pushing them aside. It’s done, it’s over and there’s nothing I can do about it now. Buh-bye! Thank you to all of you who have commented on blogs, liked them, sent me messages on Instagram and Twitter, it feels like I have my own little support group when I’m struggling. So now, onwards and upwards, I’m halfway through submission and come the 3rd May it will all be done!