Universities (where the student population makes up the majority of the entire population, as is Durham) are eerily calm and quiet when exams come to a close. It’s as if every student has taken a collective sigh of relief as deadlines and exam rooms slowly become a distant (painful) memory. In the same breath, having finished my exams and handed in my final essays nearly three weeks ago now (goodness, has it really been that long?) I feel strangely agitated. Waking up in the morning to see my laptop screen still illuminated from last night, piles of books as far as the eye can see and not entirely recognising the tired, war-torn face I see in the mirror – after months and months of non-stop pressure, it’s very odd (not a bad odd) to find myself free. Reading that back I come across as an exam addict, this is certainly not the case and, don’t get me wrong, waking up on a lazy Sunday morning with absolutely nothing to do other than whatever I want is infinitely better than frantic typing and the pressures of word-limits. But, you know what I mean, I feel a bit lost.
Two weeks today, I will be a graduate. Four years of studying towards a final goal will be over – the goal will have been reached. I’m not entirely sure how I will feel as I process through the cathedral in my fluffy gown: nostalgic, elated, exhausted… a mixture of them all, I imagine. Considering the difficulties of the past few years, the one adjective I can be sure of is proud.
Hey, my name is Maddy… I feel like I should reintroduce myself it’s been so long since my last post… don’t look – it’s embarrassing. So, I started this blog at the end of last year when I was going through a very difficult time, pour en dire le moins. I found the process of writing all my feelings down (ok… typing if you’re going to be pedantic) almost therapeutic, and the fact that a couple of people found what I was saying remotely useful was an added bonus. To explain my absence, I entered into my final year of university last October, and, as you can imagine, it was a little overwhelming with the pressure of deadlines, dissertations and exams (can’t think of another ‘d‘ word). But, here I am, about 8 months later, out the other side :). My graduation is in a few weeks time, all very exciting, but a quick update on my mental health.
So, as I believe I mentioned in my last post, I finally plucked up the courage to admit that I needed help. I had suffered in silence for a good few years, and I reached the point where I simply couldn’t cope alone anymore. It was the best thing I have ever done. I think I will still be able to say that in 20 years time, because I’m not entirely convinced that I would still be here otherwise. I’ve spent the last 6-7 months on escitalopram (an SSRI anti-depressant/anxiety medication). Did it do all the work for me? No. Is it a magic pill? Certainly not… but in a world of eternal darkness, it acted as a very much needed lighthouse. I had a couple of falls at the beginning of the academic year, but, for the last few months, I have actually felt… good?! Don’t jinx it. It’s very unlike me to be positive. That being said, I’m hoping that this blog can become a little more positive, a little less anxious, and more about the person behind the anxiety. Moi 🙂
I’m currently trying to find some good meditation/relaxation classes or books – so if anyone has any tips – please let me know! If last year’s me could see me now… relaxation? Meditation? Who are you?! I know… but, one of the exercises my therapist gave me to try and cope with panic attacks (I won’t do it as it makes me look like a crazy person) involves clapping your hands and finding your happy, safe place. For me, it was my bedroom in my last house, fluffy blankets under my feet, surrounded by cosy pillows, looking out the window at the trees in the garden, the smell of winter (you know, that smell where everything is crisp and clean) and the sound of nothing, the snow falling outside acting like a wax seal on ambient noise. This is my safe place. To my absolute shock and surprise, it worked. I felt incredibly relaxed and calm, my heart rate slowed down, by hands weren’t shaking anymore, and I was back to myself. That being said, I want to give meditation a go to see if it helps me with my day to day anxieties (of which there are many). So do let me know!
As for what I’m doing now… well, I feel at a bit of a lost end! Having spent the last 8 months working non-stop, staying at university during holidays, writing thousands upon thousands of words, revising things I don’t completely understand – it’s all over. The end of your degree isn’t as euphoric as I thought it would be… no fireworks, champagne popping etc. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but I don’t know what to do with myself now I’m back home for the summer. So, I’m hoping to make it as productive as possible – learn a couple of new languages, learn some new skills, read a million books… I don’t want to waste the weeks away. Oh, another thing, all going well (touchons du bois croisons les doigts) I will be embarking upon an MSt at Oxford University in October (I say ‘all going well’ as I have to get a First, which is definitely not a fait donné). I’ll get to study a mixture of all the topics that I love – French philosophy, psychology, literature and feminism. I really can’t wait, something I never thought I’d say about academic study lol. Again, look at me now, fresher me!
I think that’s everything for now, although I’m sure I’m forgetting something. It feels really good to be writing again. Talk to you soon!
In an earlier post I spoke about how great candles are at helping me deal with anxiety or recover from a bad panic attack. I thought I would post about another amazing thing I’ve found that helps me cope when things feel like they are getting too much – bath bombs ! Up until a few months ago, I’ve always avoided bath bombs and shops such as Lush as I have extremely sensitive skin (like, super sensitive) so I figured I had to stay away. After a really bad day and a chat with a friend who suffers from panic attacks, I took the plunge and bought a bath bomb from Lush – and so began my love affair (a pretty expensive one at that). I thought I would mention a couple of my favourites which have been totally fine on my sensitive eczema prone skin, a couple of which have actually helped it too, and ones to avoid.
First up, The One That Started It All (any Friends fans ?) – Butterball(bottom left)
It’s pretty boring when compared with other bath bombs – don’t expect fireworks or rose petals everywhere – but it made my skin so incredibly soft and nourished. I could use this one every day and my skin would love me for it (wallet wouldn’t).
I think Honeybee is my second favourite. It smells delicious, not really like honey at all which is good because I can’t stand it, just a soft yummy scent. It does stain your bath if you leave it too long however so don’t hang about in there too long, I’ve learnt the hard way.
I was slightly horrified when I put this one in the bath only to see what looked like a bunch of leeches or twigs fall out of it (turns out it’s seaweed… duh) but it left my skin so, so soft within two minutes of getting in. The seaweed takes some getting used to though.
The best smelling bomb in the bunch. I can’t describe how good this one smells… it lingered on my skin for hours afterwards as well. I wish I could buy it bottled, it’s that good. Also there’s a little surprise at the end, but don’t get your hopes up 😐 the smell makes up for it.
This one was an Oxford Street exclusive, grr, but they got it in stock at my nearest Lush, yay ! It is incredible. The bath water goes such a deep, dark blue littered with sparkles of glitter – pictures don’t do it justice. Very beautiful, but not so good on the skin as you can probably imagine !
I love this one, in fact I just used my second one this evening. It smells lovely (that goes without saying with Lush bath bombs so I don’t know why I keep repeating myself) and turns the bath baby pink. The best part is that there is a soap flower that remains after the bath bomb has fizzled out which floats on top of the water and slowly disintegrates. Lovely. No comment as to whether it is aptly named.
AVOID if you have sensitive skin. It looked really pretty but it left my skin really quite sore which was a shame as I had had such good luck with the others. Definitely give it ago if you have normal skin, though, but avoid if you’re like me. No picture because that’s how much I hate it. Bad bath bomb, bad.
I did like this one – look how pretty ! But I don’t think it’s suited to sensitive skin. It didn’t break me out as such but it left my skin a bit dry. It smells so good though and the fizzing of blue at the end was unexpected. Very relaxing and takes aaages to dissolve which is nice too, as usually they’re gone within 60 seconds.
I think the picture says it all. It. Is. Beautiful. Although, I was half hoping that a baby soap dragon would come out at the end. The gold glitter is nice though…. not as nice as a baby dragon but… whatever. Fine on my skin, smells yum and I think it has popping candy in it as well. Def get it if you can !
Do you want to have a baaath booomb ? This one is a lot like Intergalactic in that it turns the water a gorgeous blue with glitter but isn’t so intense and harsh on the skin. I like this one a lot and will buy it again the next time I’m at a Lush.
I so wanted to like this, and I was positive when I saw the reviews and that it was made with babies and young children in mind. However, it really irritated my skin. I think it might have been the lavender, as I know it isn’t great for people with eczema. So sad as it’s so adorable (have a look on their website !)
Finishing with the fizz that turned out to be the biggest flop, the experimenter. It looks so exciting, and it is, at first, however I don’t think Lush took into account the colour that would emerge as all the pink, blue and orange slowly mixed together – grey, the answer is grey. It feels like taking a bath in murky water which isn’t the nicest. I wouldn’t recommend this one, unless you like grey baths. No judgement.
I’ve got Fizzbanger and King of Skin left to try… does anyone have any recommendations of one’s they’ve loved ? Also, is anyone else excited for Christmas bath bombs ? 😀 😀 😀 😀 eeee
The majority of memories I have of my year abroad in Paris are painful ones which I avoid reflecting on, however, I was going through my photos on my laptop when I came across this ;
This is one of my favourite places in Paris. Similar to most big cities, Paris is busy and overwhelming, so when I discovered this little gem on my walk one Sunday, I was so happy. It’s probably a bit of an odd place to want to be since it’s in a cemetery (Cimitière du Père Lachaise) and could be considered morbid and sad, but I found it to be one of the few places I could breathe. I felt like I was on top of the world here (can you see the Eiffel Tower in the distance ?), and that all of the noise and oppression of the city laid far below me. The only noises I could hear were a few birds tweeting and the sound the wind makes when it rustles through the trees in Autumn. The ringing in my eyes subsided and my heart beat finally slowed to a normal pace. I could breathe again. Finally.
Finding this spot was a big deal for me. I’d been in Paris for a couple of months by this point, and my usual process of shutting myself off from the world around me had long been underway. Leaving my flat only occurred when I absolutely had to (lessons, for example), and despite living the dream of many people who long to visit Paris, let alone live there, I stayed inside my little apartment cupboard. There was nothing I wanted more than to open my front door, go down the four flights of stairs :|, and explore. To just flâner, with no particular destination in mind, breezing from once beautiful place to another, care-free. But I couldn’t. That Sunday, I finally built up the courage to visit this cemetery, which was only about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. It took me a long time to actually get myself out of my front door, and another 20 minutes to open the huge door to my building. I felt so exposed and vulnerable. Although spending days cut off from the world in my bedroom was sad and very lonely, it was safe.
I purposely left relatively early, while Paris was still in sleepy Sunday mode, so as to avoid the huge crowds. I encountered a few Parisians buying their morning baguettes (god do they love a baguette.. can’t say I blame them… they smell incredible N.B. Don’t visit Paris if you’re gluten free), kept my head down and made it to the cemetery. I always find it strange to see such a beautifully manicured and peaceful place in the middle of a built up city. It feels almost incongruous that these people are laid to rest surrounded by sky scrapers and council flats. It started to rain, but I didn’t care. As soon as I walked through the enormous stone gates, I hung a left (no-one else seemed to be going that way and I followed my instinct of avoiding people) and started my journey through the cemetery. A brick wall separated the solemn graveyard from the 100mph speed of life on the other side, but It might as well have been a million miles away. I felt safe inside the surrounding walls, like no-one could hurt me here. After an hour or so of walking around, I reached the point in my picture. The rain subsided and the clouds opened, as if just for me. I stood on top of the hill, the whole of Paris sprawled below me, and I felt in control.
I’m not sure how long I stayed here – a long time. It probably sounds so trivial, but I felt proud of myself. I was outside, outside of my safe place, yet I was ok. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t know my way around, that I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know where the little lanes lead to, or how far away I was from the exit. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t feel the need to constantly look at the ground or to be on my phone like i usually do when I leave my house. I was comfortable in my own company – I was enough…
Too many puns? Candles. Mmmm. I now realise that saying these words out loud makes me sound incredibly lame and sad, however there is no denying it. Candles are truly like catnip for me. Apart from being pretty and smelling lovely, that goes without saying, candles play an important role in my daily life. After a panicky episode (which is most days at the moment), the first thing I do when I get into my bedroom (after getting into my teddy bear dressing gown/pug onesie… yes I am 21) is to light my candles. There is something so calming about turning off all the lights, closing the curtains and seeing the flames flicker and shadows dance across the walls. I feel safe, comforted and relaxed. I don’t know about you, but after a panic attack I feel mentally, but also physically, exhausted. Sometimes it takes me a week to get back to feeling “normal” (whatever that means) and candles play an integral role in making me feel human again and not just a walking shell of a person. With Autumn and Winter now on the horizon (YAY !) I feel like burning candles is now officially acceptable and no longer frowned upon, so with no further ado, I thought I would write about some of my faves. Most of them are Yankee Candle, because they’re amazing, but I’ve also discovered a couple of other brands that smell simply divine. Please do let me know of any you like ! An anxiety sufferer can never, and I mean never, have too many candles.
First up is one of my favourites. It is a Stoneglow candle in the scent Leather and Cashmere. It was a bit of a splurge (I think it was about £15) but, my goodness gracious me, it smells incredible. When I saw the scent I was a little sceptical, after all, leather isn’t a particularly nice smell, and cashmere ? Since when does cashmere have a smell ? Anyway, point is, it smells luxurious, warm and homely. I’ve had it well over a month (burning every day) and haven’t hit the bottom yet. Definitely worth the money.
Next up are my cute little candle holders. I love getting small tealight candle holders, as I nearly always buy a small version of a candle before I cough up a lot of money on a large jar to make sure I like it. The little white ceramic house and copper (yes copper !) The World is Your Oyster candle holders are both from a shop called Dunelm and cost about £4 each. My other candle holder in this picture was £5 and from a shop called The Lemon Tree which is a cute kitchy shop located in my nearest town, although I’m pretty sure it’s a chain. Can you tell I’m a sucker for the copper trend ?
Next up is a bunch more smaller sized candles as I had never tried any of these scents before. Each Yankee Candle and Village Candle votive costs around £3, and I bought the mini jar on the left as it was reduced (£6 I believe). Ok, so, I may have got a little carried away candle shopping the day I bought all of these. I was feeling particularly christmassy (even though it was the end of August), so I got a few christmas themed scents. My fave has got to be Candy Cane Lane, which smells like mint chocolate chip. If any of you have ever had a Costa Coffee mint choc chip creamy cooler, just imagine that but warm and melty… can you smell it yet ? It smells edible, the same way that Laura Mercier body creams smell edible. It’s not though, just to clarify ! My other Christmas candle is called Christmas Pine which smells exactly as described – you know the smell that permeates your house once you’ve put up your tree ? For me, it’s the smell that truly defines Christmas. Next, I got Silver Birch. Again, I don’t know what a silver birch tree smells like. If the candle is anything to go by, it smells pretty amazing. It’s a hard one to describe – it smells earthy and woody. A bit like sandalwood. My final Yankee Candle is Moroccan Argan Oil. Oh my god. This one is probably my favourite Yankee Candle, so much so that I have asked for the huuuuge jar for Christmas. It smells so warm and cosy, yet not sickeningly sweet or overwhelming. It’s like a cuddle in a jar. My last candle, rain, smells fresh and uplifting. It doesn’t smell like rain per se, but I’ve already used it all up, so that pretty much says it all.
Finally, my newest batch of Yankee Candles. Are you sick of candles yet ?! I got all of these candles at a discounted price, which is always pretty exciting as I love a bargain, and I will definitely be repurchasing some of them. Let me begin with my fave – you can’t see it as I started burning it as soon as I got home before I had time to take an artsy instagrammy picture, but it’s sitting in the votive holder on the right and is called Egyptian Sands. It. Is. Amazing. I think it’s my candle of the moment. It smells like sandalwood, which is a really musky smell, kind of like a man’s cologne (one of my favourite smells). It’s absolutely delicious and I’ve already run out so, another one for the christmas list. Next up is Fireside Treats, one that I have had before and loved. It smells like roasting marshmallows, sweet but not overly so, and very comforting. A great one for transitioning from Summer to Autumn. Pink Sands is another lovely one, it smells a little like Egyptian Sands but a touch sweeter. I haven’t started this one yet so I will let you know ! I also got a box of 12 little tealight candles in Beach Holiday which is a lovely refreshing scent that feels like a breath of fresh air (plus they were only £3.50 for all of them !). Saving the most beautiful one for last, my large two wick candle in Egyptian Cotton. Much akin to Fluffy Towels or Baby Powder, it smells like freshly cleaned laundry that’s just come out of the tumble drier. Is there a better smell ? It’s clean and fresh, plus it comes in a lovely two wick jar. What more is there to say ? I believe it cost £11 instead of £16, which is still pretty expensive for a candle in my opinion, but I know it’s going to last forever. Both of the candle holders are also from Yankee Candle and cost £3 each. These are super handy, I use them every day and they also look adorable.
Speaking of candle holders, I thought I would quickly mention these three, all from Yankee Candle. They look especially beautiful when i burn tealights in them as the coloured glass is slightly transparent, so gives off a lovely coloured glow. Also, the bunny one is just adorable. I mean… come on. It’s a bunny. Technically it’s for Easter but I use it year-round. Each cost around £4.
For those who have made it to the end, I do hope you found this helpful ! I can’t recommend strongly enough how helpful candles can be for easing stress. It might sound silly, but it’s definitely worth a try if you are struggling with anxiety and want to find a way to heal your mind and body after a bad day. Give it a go and let me know 🙂
As the title of this blog would suggest, I suffer from anxiety. I’ve just got back home from an appointment with my psychotherapist, and as strange as it feels talking about something so intensely personal, I feel like I need to talk about this.
Anxiety. I feel like the word has been thrown around a lot lately by many people, from bloggers to Youtubers, and that the world and his wife now claims to suffer from clinical anxiety. Whilst I strongly agree that it is nothing but positive that the stigma attached to acute mental health has been largely ousted, or is at least on its way to be, I feel as though it is used too generally. Crippling anxiety is not feeling a little bit overwhelmed when stuck in a lift or feeling a bit uncomfortable in a busy room – I feel like this is normal for most people to feel this way – but it is something that impedes you from living a normal life.
I am by no means an expert, and I wouldn’t ever claim to be. I can only talk from personal experience. I have suffered with anxiety and depression for over 5 years now, however it is only in the last few months that I have sought professional help. For a long time I told myself it will get better by itself or it’s just a part of who I am and something I need to learn to live with. This approach, however, resulted in the problem escalating to the point where I no longer have any friends to speak of and a trip to Sainsbury’s is simply out of the question. If any of you out there can relate to this, then do not ignore it. This is the most salient point I can make from my own experience and mistakes. Maybe if I had sought help years ago, it would never have got to this point and my university experience would not have been, for the most part, ruined. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Just because you can’t see you are broken on the inside doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t be fixed.
I find it hard to believe when Youtubers or beauty bloggers claim they suffer from anxiety. Maybe this is unfair, and I’m sure that it can manifest itself in many different ways from person to person and that everyone’s experience is different, but for most anxiety sufferers, talking into a camera to thousands, if not millions, of people on a daily basis borders on the unthinkable. For me, just walking down the high street or taking the short walk from my dorm to my lectures is agonisingly painful and something that fills me with dread, let alone doing it with a camera pointing in my face narrating my every move. Call me cynical, perhaps I am, but I feel it is important to draw this distinction between feeling a bit nervy to suffering from real, clinical anxiety. It is not something that should be trivialised and made to seem harmless and easy to deal with – because it isn’t.
I’m not sure I feel quite ready to share my own personal experience with anxiety and depression, a lot of which I have never voiced aloud, but I definitely want to in time.
Can you smell that ? The smell of salty fresh sea air filling your lungs and seeping into your pores. There are few places in the world where I feel calmer than by the sea. Looking out into the distance, toes wriggling in the wet sand like a child… It truly feels as though anything is possible… that all of your troubles and worries melt away with every reliable and relentless lap of the water. Sidenote, look at those marshmallows omg.
So… the first blog post… (tumble weed). Like most people starting a blog for the first time, I find myself unsure of how to begin. I’ve never written anything like this before, although I have long admired (and envied) those who have the ability and courage to spill their inner most thoughts and feelings, no matter how trivial or intensely personal, onto pen and paper (well… you know what I mean).
There seems to be something so freeing, at least to me, in releasing any pent up anger, sadness or frustration, or perhaps simply expressing wonderful happiness, rather than bottling it all up inside to fester. This has long been my approach to life – keeping it all inside so as not to bother anybody around me. I am a serial liar and I have become an incredibly talented cover-up artist over the years (not a good thing, I know) but the last thing I want is for anyone to worry about me. I have started about 20 diaries over my 21 years, all of which lasted a mere few entries before I got bored, didn’t like my handwriting, or just wanted a new pretty notepad. Is there anything more exciting than a new notepad ? Fingers crossed somebody agrees with me on that one.
I never truly appreciated the value of writing. Of writing for me and for nobody else. Of not worrying if my punctuation isn’t exemplary, of not caring if I haven’t used the most sophisticated word in existence. Writing isn’t abut being read, it’s about the cathartic experience of writing. This being said, that is my aim with this blog. It will probably be that nobody ever reads any of this rambling except for me – and that’s ok. More than ok. I wanted to create my own little space in a corner of the internet where I can be me – the real me. Where I can express myself without fear of being judged or laughed at, where I don’t have to hide, and where I don’t have to use a pen (because let’s be honest, a keyboard lends itself a lot better to these sorts of uninterrupted, unedited and visceral expressions of emotion… it’s also a lot easier on the hands).
So, here goes nothing. The start of something positive and therapeutic, something I will stick to (that’s the plan anyway). That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.