Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year, Best Me

2015 has been an eventful year for me. I graduated from University with a 2:1 in Mathematics. I had to duck out of running the Market Drayton 10K, but I had the pleasure of witnessing my sister-out-law crossing the finish line and shared in her pure elation at her achievment. My parents moved out of our family home and to the other end of the country. I soon followed when I moved to London for a job a month after my graduation. I celebrated with my other sister-out-law when she announced that she was going to have a baby. Liberty's other half finally got down on one knee and asked my sister to marry him.

Of course it wasn't all happy. I suffered very badly with depression for a long time. Long distance and my depression put a huge strain on my relationship so it hit the lowest point it has ever been in the 6 years we've been together. Things only got worse when I moved and it turned out that my neighbour in my flat was actually crazy and my life felt like hell.

In my last post, I talked about how I finally decided to view my choice to leave London not as a failure, but as a win. My parents - especially my step-dad - worked incredibly hard to support me, and within a month and a half of making that decision, they have made it possible for me to now be living in my own house (well they own it, but I don't have to share it with anyone I don't want), in a much nicer place, with much nicer neighbours! I am so grateful to my parents for everything they have done for me: supporting me through difficult times, and helping me to now be in a place in my life where I once again feel hope and happiness about my future and the present.

I know that things won't be easy. I am now further away from Lampeter than ever, so my long distance relationship has gotten even longer. But it has also gotten so much stronger. With my emotions being more stable and happy, and a place to finally call our own that we can build together, I am pleased to say that I no longer have to use the phrase "the boyfriend" in my blog posts. Then again, I don't really like the word Fiancé... so for now, I am going to refer to my new Fiancé (blegh) as my Betrothed. Because I can. About time too!

As 2015 drew to its end, I have felt more comfortable and happy in myself than I remember for a long time and I want that to continue into the new year. So my goal for 2016 isn't for a "New Year, New Me". I just want to be the best me that I can be. To help me maintain that, I am going to set myself two monthly challenges - one based on physical health and one based on mental health. Keeping my mind healthy will help me keep my body healthy and vice versa, so I can take on all the new challenges that 2016 is sure to bring.

This month:

Complete 30 reps of my hip strengthening exercises every day: The main goal I am focusing on at the moment is to run the Market Drayton 10K in May and to hopefully do reasonably well in it. I haven't run properly in months because of knee pain caused by my weak hips, so the first thing to do to reach that goal is to strengthen my hips. A physio gave me this exercise to do everyday while I was at Uni last year. I did really well with it for a while, and even saw some improvement when doing the exercise, but as soon as I went back home for the Easter holidays I completely lost it. I want to get back in the habit again, so I am aiming to do the full 30 reps every day this month. To take the pressure off a little though, I am going to allow myself to call this a win as long as I average the correct number by the end of the month. I've set up a spreadsheet and everything to keep track of it all.

Write down one happy memory every day: This can be something big like completing a project at work, or something as small as enjoying dinner. The idea is to make the effort every day to think of at least one happy thing so that I know that not everything is bad. Writing them down means that I'll have something to look back and smile on too when I'm feeling blue. If I'm feeling too down and can't think of something good that day, I will just write down a good memory from another time to remind me that I have done good in my life.

I have a couple of big challenges this year as well. My mum has challenged me to complete the "50 things to do before you're 11 3/4" adventure scrapbook that she for some reason has. I know I've kind of missed the age deadline, but it's good to go back to being a kid from time to time. She's doing it with the kids as well, so it's an excuse for us to all go out together on random adventures.

My other challenges are to build a home with my Betrothed and to make a dent in planning our wedding! I am so excited to see what the new year brings, and hopefully being better at blogging all about it!

Happy New Year everybody.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the most confident person. I often suffer from low self-esteem, not believing I am good enough to do something, not believing what I do is good enough. I also don't like to stray far from what I know. So it was probably quite a shock to everybody, not least myself, when I agreed to a job in London. London that is far away from everything I know. London that is a large, scary city. London that is very busy and full of people. But I did it. I moved to London and started my first proper job.

On my first day, I had all of my usual nerves - what if I can't do it? what if they realise they've made a mistake in hiring me? what if I make a fool of myself? (along with my recently developed nervous throwing up, which I am NOT pleased has started). But my training went ok, and I liked the people there, and I very quickly started to feel settled in my work. I still occasionally get random thoughts of not being good enough going through my head, but I am perservering, and actually enjoying myself in my job. I have started doing things that contribute to the team and I think my Unit Leader and Mentor are pleased with my progress. I have gotten brave enough to move to the big table at lunch and actually join in with conversation there, instead of sitting by myself reading. I am doing well.

I am not doing so well with living. I'm not going to go into it all again (I'm sure you are sick of hearing me complain about it...), but I have made the decision that I am not going to continue my contract where I am currently living. I actually have plans to move to Hayward's Heath, where my parents recently moved to, for the next 6 months, maybe more depending on where the boyfriend ends up doing his PGCE.

Ordinarily, I would think of this as a failure. I failed to live in London on my own. I failed to be away from my family. I failed to be a normal functioning adult.

Today I changed my mind.

I haven't failed.

I have won.

I have chosen to do what is best for me. I have chosen to fight for my life, rather than sit here being miserable and depressed. I have chosen to make a stand and do what I want for my life.

Everyone always tells me that to get over my depression I just need to look at the good that will happen in the future. But how could I do that when so much bad was happening to me now? After nearly 6 and a half years of being together, the boyfriend and I still ccan't live together and we keep getting into stupid arguments over nothing. I hate where I live. I often feel alone. I don't know how to get out of my depressive spirals down into bad places where my emotions turn themselves off.

Now, for the first time in a long time, I can see past the immediate suffering and look forward to the good things.

I am looking forward to being closer to my mum, step-dad and the tiddlers.
I am looking forward to being able to start training for the Market Drayton 10K, and what better way to do it than with a running partner through the woods?
I am looking forward to not taking the tube. Yes my commute will be longer and less flexible, but it's an actual train, so I will be able to read or listen to podcasts on my journey.
I am looking forward to being in a quieter place.
I am looking forward to going shopping with my mum, or looking after the tiddlers while she goes shopping.
I am looking forward to being in my own place, not having my life dictated by my fears of other people.
I am looking forward to starting my life again.

So yes, maybe I didn't make the most of the opportunities that London has to offer while being so close to it all, but that isn't me. I don't like to explore by myself. I like to do things with the people I love. I don't think that's a failure. What is a failure is knowing this and not doing anything about it.

So I'm doing something about it. I know it isn't just suddenly going to be easy. There is still the big strain of a long distance relationship, which is made that much harder by the difficulty of getting to and from Lampeter. We both struggle with the distance, but we are fighting hard to keep thngs together, to keep things good. I hope that by being more comfortable with myself and my life, I can help to make that distance seem a little smaller, and the countdown to when we can finally be together properly seem a little bit shorter.

I count that as a win.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A Decision

I do not deal well with confrontation.

An hour ago my neighbour came and knocked on my door to tell me that even though we swapped days a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't been respecting the cleaning rota.

Every Monday since I found out about the cleaning rota and swapped days, I have cleaned when I got back from work.

Apparently it wasn't good enough because my neighbour said to me "Babe, this kitchen is disgusting, how have you cleaned?" (As my sister-out-law said, Babe?! ew)

I tried to tell her that I swept the floor and emptied the bin and wiped the surface, but nope. Granted I didn't do a great job of it yesterday because I was still recovering from my zombie flu and didn't want to go all the way to sainsburys when I couldn't find the cleaning spray, but the other weeks I have done a more thorough job.

I also tried to tell her that people cook after I have cleaned, but she just said "you mean to tell me that all this happened from yesterday to today? The floor is shit and the surface and wall are sticky with oil". Apparently she doesn't know that students cook at odd times of the night, and aren't always the most tidy.

I said that I always tidy up after myself and she said if I didn't want to clean I could hire a cleaner, or they could always phone the agency and charge me for the cleaning.

After it was over I went in my room and cried for the next hour.

I do not deal well with confrontation.

I cannot live here. I cannot live with strangers or students. I need to find somewhere else, because it is not worth me feeling miserable. I am now even more terrified of going to the kitchen than I was before. I want to clean in my own time, be responsible for my own mess, not other people's and not get told off because someone else made a mess on my day. I need my own place.

Now I need to work out how to find it, and how to survive the next three months here until I can move out.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A New Obsession

Anyone who knows me knows that I quite easily get obsessed about things. When I love something, I really LOVE something. I will listen to the same song on repeat when somthing about it clicks with me. I will watch the same film over and over, I will think about my favourite scene over and over in my head. I talk excitedly, rapidly and very high pitched about things. Things like Disney, Lego, Once Upon a Time, that one scene in We Bought A Zoo where Dylan does his 20 seconds of courage, Anne Hathaway... the list goes on.

My most recent obsession revolves around a podcast I listened to during my last year of Uni - Serial. It is a podcast about an old murder trial in Maryland from 1990, where they arrested a guy named Adnan Sayed for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, on the basis of basically one witness whose testimony seemed to change every time he told the story. Adnan still insists that he is innocent - many people believe him, many people still do not. The podcast tells the story of the case and attempts to come up with a decision one way or another about whether or not he is innocent.

I really enjoyed listening to this podcast, right until the end where they completely copped out and made the decision that they didn't know if he was innocent or not. It was rather an unsatisfying end, but I still found the whole thing very interesting. This podcast became very popular, which meant that it another podcast, which I recently discovered, has followed on from Serial. This podcast is called Undisclosed. This podcast looks at Adnan's case from the perspective of an attorney. Instead of putting together a narrative, it just lays out the facts of the case that have been discovered. What I really like about this is that you start to see more where the holes in the State's case are, and how everything fits together (or how it doesn't fit quite a lot of the time). It is like a giant puzzle, and I love puzzles.

Undisclosed isn't just about telling the story of Adnan. It looks at the case as a whole, so you get a better picture of the events that happened around the time of the case. It also gives updates as to what is happening currently with trying to get a retrial.

It isn't just this case that I have been interested in. It may be slightly morbid, but I find unsolved mysteries and murders absolutely fascinating. Well, not even just unsolved ones. Just cases that have a weird twist, or required a lot of effort and digging to solve. Something that was a bit of a puzzle. Last year I watched the movie Devil's Knot with my sister. I was hooked all the way through, but she found it really boring. There was no action or anything, it just told the story of trying to solve the case of the murder of three young boys. Slightly different, but I also like watching crime shows like Bones and Criminal Minds. However, it is the things about real cases that just hold something more for me.

I'm finding it really hard to actually put into words what I find so intriguing about these things. It isn't exactly to with the people, but it kind of is (helpful, I know...) I think it's partly just the whole process of piecing together the events and actions of everyone involved to get the full picture of an event. Completing the puzzle of something that you could otherwise know nothing about. I don't know, but whatever it is, I have become obsessed.

Unfortunately, I have already listened through the backlog of both Serial and Undisclosed, so now I have a big empty hole to fill while I wait for the next episode to come out. If anyone has any suggestions for more podcasts, tv shows, movies, books or websites that might look at anything vaguely similar, I would appreciate it! I need something to spur on my new hobby.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015


Last week I started my new job in London. That's right, London. London is the last place I ever thought I would accept a job and move to. I am very definitely a small town country bumpkin. I like peace and quiet and small things, which London very definitely is not.

I have surprised myself by settling into the routine of working in London quite well. I've sorted out how I'm getting into work every morning. Not quite decided how I'm getting back each night yet, although judging from today's journey, I think I might try to stick out the Hammersmith and City Line. I was hesitant to before because it doesn't run as regularly and reliably as the Central line, but the Central line gets so crammed I end up waiting the same amount of time to get on a train anyway. Hammersmith is at least more comfortable to travel on. I have yet to work out how I will deal with tube strikes being on - this week's were thankfully cancelled. There is a direct bus route, but I'm not sure what time I should get it so that I'm not late and it won't be too busy. I'll have to just see how that goes as and when it happens I guess.

The thing I'm not settling so well into is the actual living in London. London is so expensive, so I'm currently in a flat share - i.e. living in a room. The flat is quite nice, my room is nice and big, and it is in an ok area, but I am really not enjoying it. Mum keeps telling me to treat it like I'm still at Uni, which kind of makes sense. I want to make her proud and show her I can just get on with it, but the problem is, this is exactly the bits of Uni that I hated. Living with strangers, who have different lifestyles to me, that I will never see enough of to truly be comfortable around. I need a lot of time with people before I can feel at ease, part of my anxieties I guess. It makes it very difficult for me to relax when I really need to be. I get scared to go in the kitchen in case someone sees me. I don't want to speak or sing because the walls are so thin I feel like everyone will hear everything I say. I get tense about the thought of having to go cook food or use the shower. I am really not coping well with it. Everyday I have come back from work and wished I was just at home. I don't know what to do about it.

A leaving present from my little sister to make me more excited about London

I really wish that I was more of a people person, but right now, all I can think about is how I am not built to share houses like this. I want to be in my own place, where I feel safe and comfortable, and can relax and enjoy myself. I'm not sure I will feel that here. Of course what I really want is to be able to finally live with the boyfriend, but we have at least another year before that can happen. I still think that there is something better than this arrangement out there for me somewhere. I'm just not sure how to find it.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

July Challenge

Last month, I set my self the challenge of looking after me. I have definitely improved my sleeping patterns; I now find it much easier to wake up at 7.30 and haven't had to nap during the day for a while! I (mostly) eat three meals a day, and my wardrobe is nicely sorted out to make it easier to get to all of my clothes. I haven't done as much exercise as I would have liked; I kept forgetting to do my stretches. I have, however, been for a 5 mile cycle ride with the family and gone for my first run for months. Well, run is a strong word. My step-dad has described it more aptly as "joggling", sort of half jogging, half walking and wobbling all over the place. It was quite a successful run though, no knee pain and it actually felt really good. I have plans to complete a Couch to 10K programme, which is supposed to take 14 weeks, but I may take longer than that to make sure I don't strain my knees too much. I have plenty of time until the next Market Drayton 10K though! Over the month I have done several things to help with my future as well.

It was my birthday on the 4th, and I spent a lovely day relaxing in the sunshine with family. I got some really nice gifts, including the first two series of Once Upon A Time (my boyfriend knows me so well!) and a really thoughtful gift of a bodyclock alarm from a family friend that will definitely help with my depression and sleeping when it comes to the darker months of winter. My mum took me shopping to buy what she calls "power clothes" to get ready for interviews. She bought me a nice suit and I had a really good time spending the day with her.

After my birthday I was supposed to be going to Portugal with Liberty to have a little holiday and spend some time with our father. Due to work commitments, he had to cancel, so we spent the week doing other things together. We went to Warwick Castle - purely for research purposes, honest - we picked up the boyfriend's sister from Uni and incorporated another shopping trip at the same time, and spent lots of time blitzing our way through Lego Lord of the Rings.

On 25th, I went with my mum back to Coventry to pick up the rest of my stuff, clean the house, move out and pick up my results. I took her to the Bread Oven on campus to get my favourite sandwich, a brie and salad baguette, and we ate it in the Piazza in the sunshine while we waited for the time to collect my results. It was beautifully symmetrical because we ate sandwiches from the Bread Oven in the Piazza on the open day I went to before I joined Warwick. It was a really lovely day, made better by the fact that I got a 2.1 for my degree!

The next day was spent at Alton Towers with the boyfriend, Liberty and her other half. It was brilliantly fun, and we even managed to convince the boyfriend to go on Oblivion. He was so scared that me might have passed out on the ride, but he survived! Just about... And I bought him the picture from the ride to keep as a trophy and proof that he was on it so he doesn't have to ever go on it again. I strangely enjoyed it this time, and I enjoyed the other roller coasters much more than I ever have previously. I think Liberty is right, once you have been on Oblivion, nothing is ever as scary as that. I didn't even cry this time!

I also have had some success with my job hunting. I haven't gotten a job yet, but I applied to Metaswitch, a company that I have liked the sound of for some time, and managed to make it through to the first round of interviews after completing an online aptitude test. The day of the interview I was so nervous that I was actually sick first thing after I woke up, but I managed to survive the day of travelling to London by myself and doing my first real interview. It was a really tough day, and I didn't make it through to the next round, but it was a really valuable experience. I have since applied for another two jobs, and have set up my own "Job finding process".

That brings me onto my July challenge. I have been looking for jobs in Software Engineering, but I don't have a great deal of experience with coding. I have been doing some online courses on Codecademy to try to learn some of the basics. It has been fun, but I learn best when I have an actual project to work on, so this month I am going to build a website. Liberty wants one for a mad project she wants to undertake, so we are going to do some designing this weekend, and hopefully I can start to put something together. This will also help towards my job search as I will have something concrete to talk about in terms of experience. Wish me luck :)

Sunday, 31 May 2015

June Challenge

Considering I've just finished University, my June challenge should probably be something along the lines of "get a job" or at least "find a job that I want to do". However, I don't feel like I am quite ready for that. That isn't to say I won't be trying to find a job over this next month, but I have decided that first I want to look after myself.

The last few months have been very stressful for me for many reasons. I haven't been eating or sleeping very well, and I've just been exhausted all the time. So this month, I want to try and get back into a healthier lifestyle. Here are some of the things I want to do:

  • Sort out my sleeping pattern. Recently I have been really bad at just sleeping away half the day. I hate doing it, and it stops me from feeling productive, so I am going to start getting up at a reasonable hour and that will in turn make it easier for me to fall asleep at night.
  • Eat three meals a day. I am terrible at eating breakfast, but hopefully the getting up at a reasonable hour will make this easier. Actually, I'm just pretty terrible at eating. I tend to just sort of forget to feed myself... 
  • Set myself targets of things to achieve for the day. This will include productive things like helping mum clear out stuff from the house to make moving easier, more fun things, but also still productive, like writing songs or learning coding, and also treats to reward myself for a good day.
  • Exercising. It has been such a long time since I've done any running, and I really want to get back into it. I need to strengthen up my hips some more I think, but I'm planning on making a training program for myself for the next year so that I will be well trained enough to participate in the Market Drayton 10K next May. There is no way I am missing it again next year! No doubt I will do some random gyming and swimming to keep Liberty company as well and to add some variety to my workouts.
  • Wear more of my clothes. I apparently have loads of clothes, as I found out when Charlie tried to make me throw them all out during our sort out the other day. I wear like 3 outfits regularly, so I am going to start wearing some of my other things.
That's all I can think of at the moment. My hope is that in being happier with myself in general, it will make me less scared and more fighting ready to move onto the next step of grown up life!