Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Depression and anxiety

"If you're going through hell, keep going" Winston Churchill

Today the sun was beaming, I felt the warmth of the air touch my skin and the warm breeze blowing through my open hair. The sunny days makes everything feel so perfect; happiness blossoming throughout my body. I get the urge to wear my brightest red lipstick and go walking outside. The whole world is smiling - today depression doesn't exist. 

Depression and anxiety are very similar, they go hand in hand like they're close friends. Depression to me is a weight carried with us. Unable to shake it off, it's such a big part of people's lives, and such a secret at the same time. We always concentrate on the negative aspects of our lives and forget the positives like tunnel vision or a bright light in your eyes, blinding you from everything else. There are so many reasons and situations that people find themselves going through depression and anxiety, and not enough people want to speak out about it. It's something as a society that we seem to struggle with collectively, to open up that private side of ourselves, to expose an emotion that can be so vulnerable. Perhaps it's the fear of being judged or alienated. I wanted to write about my own personal experience of depression and anxiety, both as a therapeutic exercise for myself, but hopefully to persuade others that the things they are going through don't have to feel unique to them and that they don't have to struggle on their own. The internet has really changed the way that people can express themselves, both good and bad, to have a voice without showing your face. I just hope this will be a great medium to reach out to people who may otherwise feel isolated.

When I was really young, from the age of 5 or 6, I started to experience feelings of dejection. I was very quiet as a child, I never wanted to interact with other children much. My mum would give the other children that lived in the block of flats a couple of pounds to come and play with me, thinking I wouldn't know she had. She didn't like that I spent so much time alone, I never had a problem with being solitary. I played with my dolls in my own little world, a cocoon where I felt safe. My mum eventually took me to see the Doctor, who diagnosed me as anaemic. We went to visit my doctor because I would constantly tell my Mum I didn't feel right, I didn't feel good, not in a sick way but my general state. I wasn't happy and wasn't eating; I'd completely lost my appetite. I know now that what I was going through was depression. I suppose the Doctor couldn't diagnose a child of six as depressed, I mean it practically didn't exist then, let alone for a child! I didn't know what was wrong with me, and these emotions carried on throughout my childhood and into my adult life.

To cut a long story short, I grew up with my Mum, my Dad didn't live with us, he had a drinking problem, My Dad suffered with depression and spent any money he had on countless cans of beer (Breaker), and this broke our little family apart. This had a major impact on me. Obviously at that age I didn't know I was depressed. I just wanted my parents to live together and us all to love each other like the families that you see on the TV. I saw my Mum crying a lot and struggling with money, and I saw my Dad really drunk, being abusive and not himself. Don't get me wrong, when my Dad was sober he was the most loving and beautiful person, his smile would captivate the room, He was so clever, he could fix anything, but his addiction stole all of that from him and us. 

Depression has been a really big part of my life and I never tend to show it, or talk about it. After my Dad died a part of me did as well and took me to a point in my life where I was at my weakest. In recent years my depression is mostly centred around anxiety, the worry of my Mother (My Mum is going through dementia and that's a whole other problem in itself!). It does get easier and better though. Not everyday is the same and there are some days in the month where I will feel bad, and others where I feel great, and these are the days that I cherish the most. I have found many things that help me get through the bad days and make it easier on myself and I want to share some here to help you get through those bad days too…. I promise. Okay, so here we go!

The first rule of depression for me is never admitting that you're depressed when you're feeling down. By telling yourself you're depressed you are allowing the demon to win. So don't!

I always find that my busiest days are my best days - it's good to be busy. Walking has become a big part of my daily routine, and something I find therapeutic. I know on your down days the last thing you want to do is to get up and go out, but force yourself to do it..... go out and walk! All the fresh air and that fact that i'm just going about on my journey helps me escape my wondering thoughts, by wandering.

As much as you want to keep yourself to yourself, try and motivate yourself to go and visit friends. It might seem like such a difficult thing to do, but it really is good for you, and you'll feel refreshed after. This is probably the hardest thing for me to do, as I had isolated myself from a lot of my friends for so long, however it's really important to be able to talk; whether you want to talk about your feelings or just catch up and distract your mind. These small things are important, don't alienate yourself. and don't be afraid to talk! I know it's scary to speak about our feelings, and to think you might be judged, but you won't!

Writing: I have always written about my feelings, whether in a diary or in poetry. When I was at University I based my whole final project on my writing, it really helped me embrace my feelings, and be creative at the same time. I really enjoy writing: I can happily sit in a coffee shop with my notepad and pen and just write. It really helps our minds, sometimes it can really upset us, but I think that's a good thing, a cathartic outpouring. If you're anything like me and you like to keep hold of everything, finding your old diary a few years later and reading it back gives you real comfort. I really love it!

Most people will experience some level of depression in their lives and you have to remember that you are not alone. That there is help out there for you. Coping with depression and anxiety is one of the hardest things we face, many mornings when you wake up and feel deflated, unable to face the world. I always try and focus on one day at a time and forget those dark winter mornings, where darkness blankets the streets and the heavy scent of winter is creeping up on us. You have to look forward to each and every day, good or bad. We have to face them all and this is the beauty of being alive. Be strong.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Breakfast Smoothies

"You can't be sad when you're holding a smoothie"

My obsession with smoothies -  I recently discovered that I have a gluten and dairy intolerance. I have suffered with dermatitis all my life and there has been tears, frustrations, inflammation, pain and itching for years! And it was all by chance that I made my little discovery. I decided to cut carbs and dairy out of my diet because I wanted to lose weight; pretty much everything I ate was wheat, carbs, and dairy. I went and bought myself a cheap juicer, in case I got bored after 2 weeks and It was just put at the back of the cupboard with all the other unloved kitchen appliances. But my juicer has changed my life; by removing an affliction that was a big part of every day and helping me with my weight loss at the same time. I wanted to share 5 of my most delightful breakfast smoothies that have helped me… okay. Ready, set, go!

Smoothie No. 1

Banana and Coffee smoothie:

Okay I know this might sound a little odd, banana and coffee. But trust me, this is definitely far from wrong, it's absolutely delicious. And anyone that loves coffee will adore it, because it gives you that early morning boost, and takes no time at all to make.


1 banana (frozen if you prefer)
1 teaspoon of your favourite coffee
1 teaspoon of honey
1/2 a cup of water or 1/2 a cup of almond milk

First add the banana into the blender. I personally use frozen bananas because I really enjoy drinking my smoothies cold. Now add the coffee, almond milk and lastly your honey and press that button. Watch it all come together and once you're happy it's all mixed and smooth, pour this delightful morning booster into your favourite glass or mug and drink. Tastes so good!

Smoothie No. 2

The Green Goodness:

This smoothie has been my go-to smoothie since I began my weight loss journey. Some days I will drink this smoothie for my lunch because it's full of goodness; spinach has quickly become my main ingredient in everything I eat. This smoothie is just perfect, and since I have been drinking it, it has even improved my skin and hair. How do I know this? I haven't needed to do my hair treatments as frequently to keep it in a good condition. All the ingredients really complement each other in taste: it's a winner! 


1 frozen banana (you can use normal ripe banana)
A handful of spinach
A handful of kale 
1 chopped carrot
1 cup of water

I pre-freeze and keep my bananas chopped up in a freezer bag. I add in one frozen banana, chop the carrots and they go in too. I then add in the spinach and kale; all these ingredients are fantastic to make you feel and look better. It doesn't take long to see the benefits. It is also a really good source of Iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Blend, blend, blend, and taste it! The banana and carrot both give a really nice sweet flavour, so don't be afraid..... it won't taste bad! 

Smoothie No. 3

A Very Berry Delight:

Raspberries: these little red rubies are really low in sugar, so they are great to add in to smoothies, and the tanginess of them really gives a refreshing taste. I'm really enjoying my raspberry smoothies - especially now that summer has arrived. You can use fresh raspberries, but personally I buy a bag of frozen ones and add a few strawberries in too. The concoction of both berries works so well and the deep red makes any glass look beautiful. As they say "you eat with your eyes" and this really does taste as good as it looks.


A handful of frozen raspberries
4 - 5 juicy strawberries (frozen if you prefer)
1 tablespoon of honey
1/2 a cup of water or 1/2 a cup of almond milk

This smoothie is very easy to make, no chopping involved, it all goes straight into the juicer. Firstly I put in all the berries, then measure my water, which is generally half a cup, and add that in with a spoon of honey for the lovely sweetness. And drink! It really is a great start to my morning. 

Smoothie No. 4

Totally Nutty Smoothie:

My nutty smoothie is a real treat. I am not such a peanut butter fan, which is clearly going to sound odd, as i'm writing a recipe that centres around it! But in this smoothie I really love it. Without the peanut butter the taste doesn't quite work, and once combined, it really holds all of the other ingredients together. This is a really wholesome smoothie too. The oats in it leave you feeling really sated, making it a really good drink for winter mornings. It reminds me of christmas markets, not to mention the smell is gorgeous! Go on, be daring and give it a go! 


1 frozen banana
1/2 an orange
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
1/2 a cup of oats
1 glass of almond milk or water

Firstly, as you may have gathered, I put my frozen banana in first every time. I then cut half an orange, peel it, and remove any pips inside. Add the orange to the juicer; the tanginess and the sweetness of the orange in the smoothie makes it taste really good. I then add in my oats. You have to be careful though if you are trying to be gluten free and check the back of the ingredients. Sometimes oats can be contaminated with wheat, barley and rye. I always get mine from the ''Free from" aisle just to be sure. I then add in my cup of almond milk, or if you prefer, you can use a cup of water - both taste equally good. Lastly a tablespoon of peanut butter and blitz it! This smoothie is also fantastic just as a dessert by making it with less fluid. It's honestly really tasty, all you peanut butter lovers will adore it! 

Smoothie No. 5

It's A Date:

My final smoothie.....and I'm so obsessed with this smoothie! It's got all my favourite ingredients and they all work really well together. The subtle hint of spice from the cinnamon is there on every sip you drink, with the sweetness of the dates in the body of the drink. Dates are high in fibre, so drinking this first thing in the morning is really beneficial for your body. The cinnamon helps balance your body's blood sugar levels too. I think anyone that drinks this smoothie will fall in love with it.


1 frozen banana
1/2 a cup of blueberries (doesn't matter if fresh or frozen)
3 - 4 stoned dates
1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon powder or to taste
1/2 a cup of almond milk

Put in your frozen banana, berries and dates - make sure you have de-stoned your dates - you don't want to break your juicer! Now add in the almond milk and the cinnamon. Mix it all together, and once it's smooth, pour this very tasty smoothie into your glass. All the ingredients really work nicely together; I know they're a strange mix..... but sometimes the oddest things go together. 

I hope you can try all my favourite smoothies and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. 

If you're in the South of France profiter de votre boisson. But if you're in a wet England, wishing that you were, enjoy your drink!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

My mum the OAP

1986: this was the year I was born. I grew up living with my brother who is 5 years older than me and my mother, who is 46 years older than me, in a council flat in Leicester. I've decided to write this blog because in recent years I have really struggled to talk to my friends about my mum, or having a parent who is an OAP while you're in your 20's. Women having children in their 40's is so common these days and I don't think women understand the consequences that this leaves on their children in later years.

I didn't have a shit childhood, far from it, but not the best. I'm saying not the best because I'm comparing it to my friends. Their parents would take them out most weekends: strawberry picking, cinema, day trips (you get the gist). My mother was barely able to walk up the stairs and we never had a car which didn't help either. I remember 3 O'Clock, when it was time to get picked up from school. My friends thought my mum was my grandmother and I never corrected them. I saw how youthful their parents were and I felt almost embarrassed to tell them, though very ashamed not to correct them. Like I was lying and might go to hell for it!

My mum and I have never had a strong bond, though I have always been very honest with her. She is very old fashioned in her ways, and I've got to say that her being an older mum did impact on my brother and I in good ways too. Her teaching and values about life, people and education were always very structured; she always told us to behave in a very respectful way, and I have always loved that about both of my parents: their good old fashioned morals.

I'm 29 years old now and my mum's going through dementia, and has been since I was 25, which is a slow process that's never easy. My mum also has osteoporosis of her lower spine, which is extremely difficult as she can't walk much anymore. She can only walk with her walking stick or zimmer frame and she can't leave the house or cook for herself anymore. These things are never going to get better unless there is a real miracle. My mum is 75 years old now and life only gets more worrying and stressful: we have to think more of the worst rather than the best. I lost my father at the age of 17 and since then my world shattered. I never thought death was real until one of my parents left me; the thought of never seeing them again is a really dark and horrible emotion, and now that I'm 29 and my mum's health is getting worse, that nostalgic feeling has come back stronger.

I am going to just put it out there: Women having babies in their 40's are selfish! They have no idea how it's going to pan out. The last thing you want to do in your 20's is have a parent going through dementia and other health problems. You want to be able to go for coffee and cake with them, shopping and even talk wedding plans! These things are just day dreams for me. I've wanted to write about my experience for a long time now but I was too afraid.

My life revolves around my mother now: appointments, appointments, appoitments! Last week my mum was in hospital because she forgot how many tablets she had taken in one day and ended up taking extra painkillers for her arthritis, which left her feeling very confused, drowsy and slurring her speech. I wasn't sure if what she was experiencing was a stroke; I was so afraid. I thought that's it! I've lost my mum! For the few days my mum was in hospital, everything felt like it had slowed down, gone silent and I didn't like it one bit! These are things that women who have children in their 40's don't realise. I'm currently trying to get my mum to go to a daycare centre so she can spend a couple hours with other people she can interact with, which may even help her. But my mum will get anxious and at the last minute decide she can't go. There are days when I feel like running away from everything because i'm just afraid, but these feelings are momentary. There are days when she is feeling better and she laughs, looks happy - those are my favourite days with her.

Writing this blog has made me feel a really strong sense of relief. I have finally done it! Spoken about something I keep very personal, though I'm not technically speaking, but this is definitely the next best thing.