What to expect from a counselling assessment

Earlier this week, I attended my counselling assessment to ascertain what would be the best approach to my therapy. Having never had any experience of talking therapies before, I was a little nervous as I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, it was a much less intimidating experience than I'd anticipated! Of course, this is just my experience so it may differ from that of others', but will give you an idea of what to expect.

First, the man I saw (I'm not sure if he was a therapist, nurse, some sort of administrator or something else but we'll call him the therapist for clarity) asked me to fill in the questionnaire. This was a little annoying as I'd already filled it out once at my doctor's surgery and once online following an email request before my appointment. My therapist looked at my answers, clarifying some where needed, and diagnosed me with moderate depression and severe general anxiety. I explained that I don't feel at all depressed and I'm glad I spoke up about it as he said my answers may be reflected by the anxiety rather than depression, so we could disregard that element. 

One of the sections of the questionnaire was related to phobias. After discussing my fear of using the telephone and other social situations, he also diagnosed me with social anxiety. We then discussed my experience with panic attacks, and he asked me what brought it on and how I felt before and during the episode. After talking about my feelings regarding my anxiety in different situations, and a brief history of when my issues started, it became clear that it was brought on by feelings of being overwhelmed and fear of not meeting my own expectations. Having confirmed I was a perfectionist (which is actually where my horrendous procrastination comes from, I was surprised to find out!), my therapist explained that this is probably the root of a lot of my problems.

Once we'd got a greater understanding of my conditions and the impact they have on my life, we discussed possible approaches to therapy. My therapist suggested CBT would be the best option as it would also treat my dermatillomania. He recommended stage 3, which is the more intensive treatment, and on a one-to-one basis rather than group therapy because of both my social anxiety and the complexity of my anxiety-dermatillomania combo. He asked me to set goals to work towards during my therapy and explained that the waiting list is currently about 8 weeks. He was also very accommodating towards my troubles with the phone and wrote a note so the relevant people would know to contact me by email (after saying "They'll give you a call to.... oh, wait. That's not going to work!")

The experience was a lot less scary than I'd expected and I'm really glad I've taken this next step. I'll be posting about my experience with CBT when that happens too so keep your eyes peeled.

Camera Roll

After explaining how much difficulty I was having trying to think up a name for this series, I've just settled on Camera Roll since, you know, that's where the photos have come from. I have a notoriously bad memory so I can't for the life of me remember who suggested it but thank you!

In love with my hairpiece from Annabelle's Wigs// Gorgeous faces at Gerard Way's gig
Pikachu hats!// Cuddling with Rex. 

For some reason, there are also a bunch of Halloween photos I didn't feature in the last post and I have no idea why!

Meow! I'm a cat// Atmospheric pumpkins
More cat ears// Gore central at Thorpe Park

This beautiful face I paused on while editing videos// Poppies at the Tower of London
I finally met Megan at MCM// Spraying graffiti with Emsy and Sarah

My Harry Potter graffiti// The London Eye all lit up
South Bank at night// Houses of Parliament


Kaelah has some great tree decorating tips
Stephanie's photos from her wedding party are beautiful! 
Kirsty's photos from Croatia are stunning!
How delicious does Claire's white hot chocolate recipe look?!
Andini's post about the Woman Fashion Power exhibition is awesome.  

Other Favourites
Danny's post about finding your inner confidence is fantastic! 
This is the sweetest pregnancy announcement
How well do you know the words to A Whole New World? I knew them all. Whoop!
Ok, I cannot wait to ride the world's tallest rollercoaster in Orlando
Want to find out what my worst Christmas present was? 

Book review: Ian Brady and Myra Hindley- Murder on the Moors

By now, I think I've reviewed enough serial killer books to stop with the "trust me, I'm not a psycho" introductions. Of all England's 26 modern serial killers (yes, I know this stuff), these are the two that I know the most about and I have read quite a lot about the case of the Moors Murders. After being horrendously disappointed by the Harold Shipman book of the same publishers, I didn't have particularly high hopes for this. The introduction certainly confirmed my fears and was one of the most terrible pieces of writing I have ever read. (Funnily enough, the worst book I've read in my life was about Myra Hindley. What is it with serial killers and terrible writing?).

There is no author attributed to this book although, judging by the horrendously inaccurate use of commas, I assume it's Mel Plehov, the writer behind the Harold Shipman book. Somehow they manage to spell Hindley in three completely different ways within the space of 3 pages and repeatedly give Ian Brady the middle name Thomas instead of his actual name Duncan. As well as the erratic use of commas, misspellings and inaccuracies, there is also the problem with completely incoherent sentence structure. Here is a genuine quote for you, copied out word for word:

The way that so much pain, which doesn't diminish over time, could in a vile way provide a continuation of the sadistic pleasure, and reminder of his actions to the one living person who knows where the remains of the victims are.

That's not even a sentence! How did that get published? Did anybody proofread the book?

Luckily, the rest of the book is of slightly better quality. There are still basic errors but the majority of the facts are accurate and it's not appallingly written for the most part. The chronology is bizarrely inconsistent, jumping from the pair's imprisonment, to their trial and then to Myra's death back to her time in prison.

However, my main problem with the writing is that, although we can all agree the crimes were horrific and abhorrent, the author loses sight of professional distance and ends up becoming far too emotionally involved. Phrases such as "both these people personify the word EVIL" (capitals included) and "women around the world still hate her, hate what she represents, and hate what she allowed to occur" reveal a sensationalist bias which makes it difficult to find any credibility. 

For anyone who is interested in finding out more about the Moors Murders, especially Myra Hindley, I'd recommend steering well clear of this sensationalist account, seemingly published only with the motive of easy money-spinning, and instead try the far superior One of Your Own by Carol Ann Lee. 

Sponsor Shoutout: November

Pink Confetti
Nicola, the blogger behind Pink Confetti, is incredible. She is both a teacher and a police officer (and is very open about her career dilemmas) but has also recently undergone jaw surgery, documenting the process to help others who are going through it. It's not all hard-hitting posts on Pink Confetti, though. You can also expect lots of book reviews, beauty, fashion and trips to amazing places like Iceland. Oh, and Nicola's blog design is really cute!

Beth Tinkerbell
Beth may be becoming a regular on my sidebar but I don't think I could ever run out of lovely things to say about her! Recently she's posted photos of herself in her (adorable) Olaf pyjamas as part of a Children In Need Bloggers' PJs campaign and made her own Lush gift set for £10. If recipes (especially veggie gluten-free ones), beauty and books are your thing, check out Beth Tinkerbell. I count her as a friend too, so that's a good reason! 

Lipsticks and Lashes
Gemma, of Lipsticks and Lashes, is a superwoman! As well as juggling two jobs, she is a carer for her mum, runs a small jewellery business (Pearl Divine) and still found time to blog every day in October! Whether it's an honest post about her life as a carer and the realities of every day blogging, or beauty reviews and motivational messages, Gemma always writes from the heart. I also love the cute garden-effect she gives her photos! 

#SimplyBeReal Moments

I am so excited to share this with you! A couple of weeks ago, the lovely people at Simply Be contacted me to ask if I would like to be involved in their #SimplyBeReal campaign, reflecting the fact that fashion doesn't always go to plan. Rather than moping in our embarrassment, the campaign is a way to use those real moments as a funny anecdote to share with others and Simply Be have teamed up with a number of talented illustrators to depict these moments. 

Straight away, I knew the moment that I wanted to share because it is still something that makes me laugh whenever I think about it. As you may know, I am a primary school teacher and I work very hard to develop a supportive environment in my classroom where every member- children and staff- are almost part of a family unit. We are loyal to every member of the class but also share jokes and tease each other.

One day, when I was wearing an outfit much like this one, I was working with a group on a reading activity. Most of the class were quietly reading while I listened to my group read The Enormous Crocodile. I was encouraging the children to think of words to describe the crocodile and gave them an example: "Big, fat tummy!"

From across the classroom, the most mischievous of my boys shouted "Miss! Are you talking about yourself?" After that, "chubby" became a class injoke, and when the children left my class in July, I even got cards thanking me for "being a lovely chubby teacher"! 

After sharing my real moment, Simply Be told me that they were asking Anke Weckman to illustrate it as she has a childlike quality to her drawings. I checked out her website, loved her style and couldn't wait to see the illustration. However, nothing prepared me for the most adorable illustration that was sent over. Are you ready?
Isn't it amazing! It actually looks like me and I love all the little details, like the crocodile book cover. The way she has captured the friendly, fun environment of my classroom is incredible. I absolutely love it! (And wouldn't a personalised illustration be a fantastic gift for a teacher!)

I'd love to hear all about your real moment, and don't forget to use the #SimplyBeReal hashtag to share it on social media!

I wrote this post in collaboration with Simply Be in exchange for the personalised illustration.

Ask Her Friends Bloggers' Pick: November

For November, the theme of the Ask Her Friends Bloggers' Pick was "experiences". As well as picking two experience days, I also chose three gifts to get your creativity flowing.
1) A relaxing spa day to chill out and let your mind wander.
2) Create your own perfume with a fragrance-making workshop.
3) I've always wanted to learn calligraphy so this kit is perfect!
4) Scribble down creative ideas in an initialled notebook.

5) Who doesn't want to bake some yummy cookies?

As well as all the great experience gifts, which also include afternoon tea, meet the meerkats and sushi making, the Ask Her Friends blog has some great suggestions on how to package these gifts. I love the idea of a favour jar

As always, you can win a £50 Ask Her Friends voucher by voting for your favourite selection on the Ask Her Friends panel page but there are also two extra vouchers up for grabs, worth £60 each.

If that wasn't enough, Ask Her Friends are offering two discounts: £10 off each £30 spend with bedbug10 and £20 off a spend of £50 with bedbug20. There are only 20 vouchers for each code so get in quick! Vouchers cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, and only one voucher is available per household/email address. Perfect for starting your Christmas shopping! 

This post has been written in collaboration with Ask Her Friends. 
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