Saturday

101 in 1001 XXV


Hmmm... January has been a productive month in terms of blog content but not so much in terms of actually going out and achieving my goals. There's something about January that just makes me want to stay in and hibernate.  

#31 Visit Harry Potter Studio Tour

I took Leona to see Hogwarts in the Snow and it was magical! 

#96 Read 75 books (95/75)
I'm so proud of myself for reading a whole 7 books this month (and I worked very hard to get the last one completed on the 31st!) That's a whopping 2050 pages and I'm already at 14% of my 2015 target. Not bad, right?

And, erm, that's it. Not entirely the most successful month but I've got a lot planned for February! 

Smear for Smear // Do charity selfies help?


This week, I've started to see #smearforsmear pop up on Twitter and Instagram a lot. The idea is that you smear your lipstick, post a selfie and hey presto! Suddenly women everywhere realise they need to book a smear test. Only it doesn't quite work like that, does it? 

To me, this seems symptomatic of a recent trend for narcissistic self-promotion disguised as charity work, usually under the guise of "raising awareness". Just like the no make up selfie, supposedly to help raise awareness of cancer (because apparently we're not aware of it enough) and the Ice Bucket Challenge before it, again intended to make people aware of ALS, our social media pages are being flooded with people posting photos of themselves in the name of a good cause. Admittedly, there are benefits to this as both trends did increase donations to their respective causes but research also suggests only 10% of people taking part in these campaigns actually donate. Which raises the question- Why would people join in if they don't intend to contribute?

This becomes even more tricky when the issue doesn't lend itself to charitable causes and instead tries to push people into action like that blooming panic button campaign. Smear for smear is a great example of this. As a young woman over the age of 25, seeing some Hollyoaks actress with smudged lipstick is hardly an incentive to get tested. Do you know what is an incentive? Talking about it! 

It's as simple as that. Share your experiences. Discuss the procedure and reassure women that it's not as scary as you'd expect. From what I've seen, celebrities as well known as Rita Ora and Georgia May Jagger are posting their selfies but are not actually talking about their experiences. What does that achieve exactly?


///

So, with that in mind, here is what to expect from a smear test, based on my experience:

I got the letter in 2013, just after my 25th birthday but I totally forgot to sort it out until I started visiting the doctor regularly a few months later and he noticed I hadn't been screened. All I had to do was go to the receptionist, ask to book in for a cervical screening and she fixed a date. So far, so easy.

On the day I was admittedly a little nervous. However, the nurse I had was absolutely lovely and put me totally at ease. I had to strip my bottom half (I'd recommend wearing a dress as you can just hoik the skirt up and may feel a bit less naked) and lie on my back with my knees up, then let them fall to either side. 

I'll admit this bit was terrifying, but only because she had a lamp pointed down there and it was casting a huge menacing shadow on to the wall beside me, complete with a speculum longer than my arm span (it was just the effect of the shadow, don't worry!) She warned me that the speculum may be a bit cold, although it wasn't as it turns out, popped it in and then put the little brush in.

This is the bit that sounds horrible but I can promise you, it's not. It's about the size of a cotton bud so absolutely tiny and, by the time you're aware of the sensation, it's out again. That's it! She pulled the curtains closed so I could get dressed in privacy and then I was free to leave.

The whole process took maybe three minutes. In fact, my mum had dropped me off and was just sending a text before planning to meet me in the waiting room but I got back to the car before she'd had a chance to get out. A couple of weeks later, I called up and was told that everything was normal and that was it. I don't need to go back now until 2016, three years after my first screening.

I totally understand why girls are scared by the process and why they put it off for so long but you have my word that it is no big deal at all. I was surprised by just how quick and easy it was, and was so glad that I hadn't procrastinated and built it up as a big scary thing. If you're over 25 and you haven't booked your test yet, do it now! If it is terrifying and painful, I give you permission to tell me off (because I swear it won't be!)


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Now, isn't that a lot more reassuring than a photo of smudged lipstick? Of course I'm not saying don't get involved with the Smear for Smear campaign but, if you do, share your experience. It's only by talking about it that we can really dispel the myths and encourage women to get tested.

Other posts

If you've written your own post on your smear test experience, please do send me a link. I'd love to create a whole list of honest recounts from bloggers so we can have a huge range of different experiences. 

Friday

FF CXXIII


I adore Louise's idea for a date night jarAmber has fantastic advice on staying safe as a blogger. Everyone should read it!Victoria stayed in the loveliest Warwickshire cottage! Toni has great advice for being productiveKerri's photos of Brussels in the snow make me want to go right now! 

Other Favourites
I love Jamie's ideas for blogging acts of kindness. (Thanks Lucy for sharing it with me!)
A free adult ball pond? Yes, yes, yes! 

I've been saying this for years and finally somebody agrees: Harry Potter is the biggest douchebag in the magical world! 

Book Review// Joey Essex Being Reem


Being Reem- Joey Essex
I'm not ashamed to admit that I blooming love Joey Essex! He reminds me so much of my little bro Myles, from the hairstyle to the ridiculous questions, that I can't help but think he's absolutely adorable! Rich bought his autobiography as a Christmas present and it was such a lovely, funny book to read. 

Of course, Joey hasn't actually written the book himself but can I point out how well he acknowledges his ghostwriter: "I don't know why she's called a ghostwriter. She's not actually a ghost, she's a real person! Anyway, she's sat in my flat and drank the cups of coffee I gave her and I don't think ghosts like coffee". Now that is how to thank your ghostwriter! YouTubers take note...

Speaking of ghostwriters, Lucie Cave, the writer of Joey's autobiography, has done a truly remarkable job of maintaining his voice throughout the book. I wonder how much of it is made up of direct quotes from their conversations as his humour, friendliness and downright ridiculousness eeks out of every page. I am happy to confess that I laughed out loud on several occasions and, so you can understand what was so funny, I have taken the step of reproducing two of my favourite extracts:

On Christmas: "I went to church dressed as Rudolph once. I don't know why. Reindeers are funny, aren't they? I used to get them confused with dolphins. I couldn't remember which it was that Father Christmas drove around in the sky".

On his ideal girl: "No tattoos (unless it was of a Furby)"

Throughout the book, whether talking about the loss of his mum to suicide when he was ten, to getting arrested for fighting, his sweet nature is apparent. Yes, I know I just said he got arrested but he really does seem like a very genuine, lovely man. He may not be the most intelligent person in Britain but he certainly seems to have a heart of gold. Including some of his fan's tweets in the back of his book was a nice touch and I'm sure they were all delighted to see their names in there! 
Overall, I found this a hilarious, sweet autobiography. The only problem I had was with the references to other stars of TOWIE that were, understandably, written on the basis of readers knowing the show. Since I watched the first episode and gave up halfway through, I didn't know who half the references were about. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Joey's life. 

Thursday

OOTD // 29th January 2015




















































Sweatshirt: ASOS
Dress: Primark

I'm so excited to finally be able to wear this sweatshirt in public! I bought it way back in May but it was too hot to wear at the time. Today was my chance to let it see the light of day. I absolutely adore how ugly it is and it didn't fail to put me in a great mood. I'm pretty certain this is going to be a staple of my wardrobe from now on!

Wednesday

Readathon 2015



Reading is one of my greatest pleasures in life. I read every evening but sometimes it's nice to just dedicate a huge block of time to snuggling up with a book. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited when I heard about National Readathon Day, where people are encouraged to read for the four hours between 12 and 4pm.

Since it was a cold, cold day, I cuddled up under the blanket with my copy of In Plain Sight, which was sent to me by Quercus. True crime is one of my favourite genres and this is a hefty tome, so I was really excited to make a good start on it. Sipping from a grande gingerbread hot chocolate (with cream) and with a lavender Diptyque candle lit, the reading conditions were perfect!

In the end, I read 230 pages which was below my target but still not bad, if you ask me! 

I'll have a review of this book in a few weeks' time, so keep an eye on my book reviews if you're interested in finding out my thoughts! 

Tuesday

Nails // January 2015 pt II


Since last time I went for the summeriest nails ever known to man...in January, I figured it would make more sense to have a winter theme this time round. Both of these varnishes are from a brand called Daisy, although I can't find any UK-based stockists. The minty blue is Air of Mint while the silver glitter is Silver Star. I do love a good accent nail!

Do they remind you a bit of Frozen? One of the girls at work is so taken with them that she nicked some Blu Tac off the display and stuck it on her nails so we'd match. Bless her! 

Next time, I think I might take along one of my own nail varnishes. I have so, so many but I never use them because I have all the nail-painting ability of a monkey with no arms. It will be nice to let one of them see the light of day! (The varnishes, not the monkeys...)

Monday

OOTD // 26th January 2015


Top: Primark
Leggings: Black Milk

Rich bought me these Black Milk Slytherin leggings last Christmas (as in, 2013) and, erm, this is the first time I've worn them. If I'm honest, I felt a little self-conscious in such garish leggings. Black ones, no problem! I wear black leggings every day but only under dresses. I can't exactly wear statement leggings with a dress on top, can I? They need to do the talking! But statement leggings and only a t-shirt with them? Scary!

However, I had a day recently when I had a revelation. Instead of doing my work slumped on the sofa in my pyjamas, why not get dressed and sit at my desk? The difference in productivity was amazing and these leggings were insanely comfortable! Not only that but actually wearing something put me in a much more active frame of mind.
It turns out, I quite like these 'ere leggings. Now to risk wearing them in public... 

Sunday

Review // Benefit Puff Off


I'm a sucker for cute packaging, so when I saw the first images of Benefit's new release Puff Off, it was love at first sight! As fate would have it, a few days later, a tube was popped through my letterbox which cheered me up no end! 
Puff Off is an eye gel designed to brighten up the under eye area and smooth away the adorably-described "puffies" (under eye bags to you and me!) through the use of the super cute iron applicator. To apply the light pink gel, just squeeze the tube and dot under each eye, before returning to smooth it with the iron. Be warned: The iron is very, very cold! Of course this is a positive as it helps soothe tired eyes but brace yourself! It's also really easy to use as you just glide it over the skin as you would an actual iron. Simple! (I wouldn't recommend gliding an actual iron over your skin!)

On application, the gel is cool and soft, quickly absorbing into the skin and creating a subtle shimmer. This light-reflecting quality helps to hide the appearance of, in my case, redness under the eye from late nights spent on the internet. I know, it's all rock n roll in my life! As it absorbs so quickly, it's easy to apply make up over the top or, if you prefer, you can apply over make up and blend with your fingertips. It also has a really pleasing floral scent. I adore scented products, but that's something to keep an eye on if you prefer your beauty products to be non-perfumed.

Although I don't get under eye bags or puffiness, so can't comment on the effectiveness of hiding them, Puff Off has worked wonders to disguise my tell-tale redness, making me look more alert and awake, even if I feel anything but! Besides, who can say no to novelty packaging that is practical as well as adorable?

Therapy Diaries // CBT Session 3


I'm almost halfway through my sessions of CBT already and that absolutely terrifies me! Luckily, I can see some real progress already so I'm hoping things will continue to improve.

I was a lot less nervous this week, since my last session was such a huge improvement on the first. I'd had a bit of a meltdown the day before, when I heard Ofsted were coming in, but this actually turned out to be useful as we based our whole session around this one event.

The Forms
I'm resigned to the evil that is The Forms now. Saying that, they do stress me out a bit since I can't remember what I put the week before. What if it gets a lot worse and she thinks I'm lying? What if it gets a lot better and she thinks I'm lying? My anxiety levels have stayed the same (the maximum of 21 points)- What if she thinks I'm lying? Actually, and probably predictably, the results were very close to my previous ones but slightly lower. From what I remember, my "depression" symptoms (in speech marks because I'm not actually depressed) have gone down by one point each session, which is definitely a good sign! The only area that showed up as worse was the one about fidgeting too much. This makes sense as my dermatillomania and scratching has returned full force this week. 

After this, we had our review of the previous session where she asked me what I had learned and seemed surprised that I could pretty much reel of everything she'd said in a neat, concise little package. 

The Analysis
Here, we looked over my homework from last week and discussed the major panic from the previous day. I was chuffed that she was very impressed with my homework. Apparently she would usually help her patients go through this again but it was obvious that I had the process pretty well understood. The therapist questioned me about my behaviours to get more information. I had cried to pretty much everyone and she asked "How long did you preoccupy everyone's time with your crying?" which made me feel awful. Shortly afterwards, she asked me how I felt about my behaviours and of course, I felt horrendously guilty for wasting everyone's time with my crying! In fact, as I'd only cried for about half an hour, before cracking on with work and staying until 9pm to prepare, she was really impressed with me. As she explained, everybody needs to cry sometimes and there's no point bottling it up. The most important thing is that I picked myself up and did something productive, rather than hiding from it. She actually said I'd dealt with it "perfectly", before back-pedalling when she realised she'd praised someone with perfectionism issues for being perfect. That's only going to feed my obsession with being perfect!

Since we didn't need to focus on behaviours as we were going to in this session, she turned her attention to my thinking and pointed out that I had a lot of catastrophic thoughts (I thought she was being dramatic but it turns out that's the official name of anxiety-riddled thoughts) and asked me to choose one of the many, many negative thoughts that I had during that time. I didn't even need to think about which one since I'd be crying to the headteacher saying "I'm going to let everyone down". I explained how devoted I am to my school and the surrounding community, which she said she found very touching. 

Next, I listed all of the emotions I felt at that time and rated them with a percentage according to how intense they were. She then asked me to return to the overriding thought of "I'm going to let everyone down" and instructed me to list the evidence to support that as fact and evidence against it while she photocopied my forms. When she returned, she was very surprised to find that, not only had I filled the form in, but I'd done it correctly (there's a reason why I'm telling you how impressed she was- I'm not just boasting!)

Using the evidence for, including work not being up-to-date due to my extended absence, and evidence against, such as the fact they would be made aware of my health problems, I had to come up with a balanced thought. After a little thought, I came up with "My work not being updated would usually result in a bad report for the school, but the circumstances mean they'll see me as an exception, not indicative of the whole school". 

With this balanced thought in mind, I went back to the emotion percentages and rated them again as if I had had these thoughts in mind at the time. Tellingly, the percentages were much lower the second time. My therapist then called me a "star pupil" before explaining the homework.

Homework
This week, I need to keep track of my catastrophic thinking and keep a thought diary with evidence for, against and a resulting balanced thought. I'm already practising and think I'm doing quite well!

Finally, she asked me to recap what I'd learned today and, again, I could summarise the session without any issues. She was hugely complimentary about how well I'd picked it all up.

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Now, it might seem like I was just boasting by going on and on about how well she said I was doing, but I did say there was a reason! My issues are very much brought on through my obsessive desire with meeting, and exceeding, the high standard that I perceive everybody to have of me. By praising me so much, I now feel that she expects me to be wonderful in every session and this puts pressure on me to not only deliver what she expects (which, in my mind, is a very high bar) but to continually impress her by doing even better. Of course praise is important but, in my case, too much is far, far worse than too little* Despite this, I'm really proud of myself and I'm looking forward to improving week on week! 



*Mind you, that doesn't mean stop giving me lovely comments...

Previous Posts:
If this post has interested you, you can read my previous post in the series below. Please do share with anybody who it may help as, from my experience, it's very scary to start talking therapies with no knowledge of what to expect.

CBT Session 1
CBT Session 2
CBT Session 3
CBT Session 4

CBT Session 5
CBT Session 6

Saturday

Sponsor Shoutout: January


As I said at the beginning of the month, I'm really putting all my effort into being a fantastic sponsee in 2015 and beyond. Things have got off to a great start with a whole bunch of new sponsors for me to introduce you to! 

Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes
Well, first of all, that blog name calls out to me immediately. Shoes? Yes! Travelling? Yes! Luckily, Kelly is pretty fantastic herself! Just read her about me page for proof: her personality shines out of it (and I really want to see her passport now!). I have such an itch for travelling right now, and Kelly is only fuelling that. Her little sister's photos of Flamenco dancing in Spain are wonderful, as is Kelly's 10 reasons to visit Egypt post. If you're thinking of travelling at all, Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes is the blog to check out!

Nomad Seeks Home


When I visited Diane's blog, I nearly cried. The reason? She's just recently been blogging about her time in Orlando which is essentially my home. However, don't let me tears put you off! She is a huge Harry Potter fan (always a plus in my eyes!) so of course her post about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter extension is fantastic! I'm doing my best to not spend this whole introduction crying over Florida, so I also recommend you check out her adorable new kittens! So blooming cute! 


Vanessa's Whimsical World

If you're more of a beauty blog fan, Vanessa's blog is the one for you! Whether it's reviews on Lush Christmas products (a girl after my own heart!), first impressions of Too Faced palettes or a peek inside bloggers' favourite My Little Box, there's something for all beauty fans! Vanessa's reviews are clear, well-written and she injects her personality into all of her posts. Definitely one to keep an eye on! 


If you fancy seeing your own blog on these pages, there's still time to take advantage of my 20% January discount! Check out this post for all the details.

FF CXXII


Ok, so it's more like Saturday Favourites this week. On Wednesday afternoon, we received the call to tell us that Ofsted were coming in the next day. Cue frantic panicking and long, long days! School opening hours were increased to 6am- 9pm although the first train doesn't get me to work until 8 (I live a long way from work- a 2 hour journey!). Nevertheless, 8am-9pm days are still a hard slog so, understandably, everything else went out the window. Luckily everything went perfectly well, I had very positive feedback from the inspectors and hopefully we won't need to go through it again for another 5 years! 
Becky's post on editing Instagram photos has finally convinced me to use Afterlight.
Toni's workspace is my dream! 
The story of Amber's grandmother's book is beautifully poignant. 
Kaelah's spring dress is perfection! 
I was already excited about Viva Glam Miley but Katia's post has made me desperate for it! 
Lucy sure knows how to dress for rainy days!

Lynsay's retro living room is everything I want mine to be! 

Other Favourites
Victoria's tax advice for bloggers is so helpful!
A whole host of lovely bloggers, including 
CarrieOlivia and Lucy are holding a bloggers' market next weekend. What an amazing idea! 
I've created a huge list of London's most Instagrammed restaurants to visit.

Friday

Book Review: The House of Mirth


The House of Mirth- Edith Wharton
About a year ago now, Beth sent me some books, including The House of Mirth, and I've finally got round to reading one of them! Sorry it took so long, Beth! This was one of the first published novels of Wharton's, a three-time winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, released in 1905. It tells the story of Lily Bart, a beautiful socialite who lives an independent, rather hedonistic life of gambling and socialising with men. However, when her fortunes take a turn for the worse, she is forced to find ways to pay off her debts and live a more frugal life. As her friends shun her due to this disgrace, Lily struggles to cope and begins to question the direction her life is taking.
Although I warmed to Lily straight away, due to her sassy nature and stubborn refusal to bow down to the whims of others, I did find it difficult to lose myself within the novel. Much of the writing was dry and repetitious, making it hard for me to connect. It's beautifully written, I admit, but perhaps a bit too flowery with not enough substance to really captivate me.

However, The House of Mirth is an interesting insight into American society of the early 20th century with all its politics regarding stature and wealth, old money vs the nouveau riches and the importance of honour and dignity. The women in the novel are malicious and snide, whereas the men are sleazy and dull. Only Lily shows any hint at being a three-dimensional character, which is indicative of the importance of appearances in this era. 

Ultimately, I found the book difficult to read, more so as Lily's life spiralled out of control. As it progresses, the writing becomes more and more bleak, ending wih a sense of unresolved depression. Although I didn't particularly enjoy it, I do appreciate a novel that doesn't wrap everything up with a neat "...and then they lived happily ever after"! 

Wednesday

Therapy Diaries // CBT Session 2

In my first therapy diary post, I explained how I felt really miserable after coming out of my first session. Luckily, the second session was much more positive!

The Forms
The first thing we did was fill in another one of those forms. I think I pretty much have to accept that I'm going to complete one every week. At least it seems like a good way to track my progress. The frustrating thing is that it's split into two sections- one for depression and one for generalised anxiety disorder- and many of the symptoms apply to both. So, for example, I lose my appetite and have trouble sleeping when my anxiety's bad but, because this is on the depression part of the form, I end up scoring moderately high for depression. I can 100% say I am not depressed although on paper it looks as if I am. Although it's frustrating, my score for anxiety is so high (as in, the maximum) that my therapist isn't paying much attention to the depression scores. 

After filling in the form, she gave me last week's to compare and was very confused because, although I'd told her I'd had a worse week, the previous form indicated that I was much better. When I looked at it, I realised that she had handed me a form belonging to- and named with- a different patient. Can't say that really set my mind at ease!

The Analysis
In a funny way, things worked out pretty well for this first real session. Earlier in the week, I'd had a horrendous day of panic attacks and had needed to take a couple of days of work to recover. Although this was horrible for me, of course, it meant that we had a very current situation to analyse.

My therapist produced this sheet of the Padesky 5 aspects model and we began filling it in together. The Situation box involved filling out exactly what happened with the facts- where, when, who with etc. That led into my thoughts but it's important to distinguish this from feelings, which comes next. When I was completing these two boxes, she really pushed me to delve deeper with questions such as "and what would that say about you?" In the end, we reached a breakthrough as I reached "that I'm not good enough". As my problems stem from perfectionism, she said that we'll probably find this is the root cause of most panic attacks. Finally we discussed the physical sensations and behaviours- what I actually did (Sit down, cry and go back to bed). 

Once the whole form was complete, we looked at it together and she encouraged me to find links within the boxes. I discovered that the thoughts I have "I'm not good enough. I'm going to let people down. I'm going to fail" lead to my feelings of being flustered and frustrated at myself, which further exacerbate the negative thoughts. This leads into a downwards spiral into the physical symptoms of a panic attack and all three- thoughts, feelings and sensations- contribute to my behaviours. 

This was a complete revelation for me! When I first saw the 5 aspects model, I thought it would be impossible to separate the big ball of panic into these separate elements but, once I had, it became very clear where my problems are.

The Goals
When I'd reached this point of enlightenment, my therapist asked me to look at the sheet and explain what I would change if I had a magic wand. I said I would make the thoughts more balanced to prevent the thoughts/emotions cycle as I figured I can't change situations but I can change the way I view them. Apparently this is spot on and she explained that we will work to change my thoughts so they're more like "This might happen but that's ok because..." rather than "This might happen and it's going to be a complete disaster".

She then told me that the other area we'll work on is behaviours and suggested we start here as it's easier: Even though I have the scary thoughts and the mental/physical symptoms of a panic attack, I need to push through and do the scary things.

At this point, we made a list of everything that scares me and hopefully I'll be able to do some of those things (such as watch Edward Scissorhands without fear) before too long. 

Homework
After a quick review of the session, in which she asked me what I'd learned, she asked me to keep a panic diary over the week. Essentially, every time I get panicky, I fill out another of the 5 aspects models to break it down. 

This week, I'm actually feeling really positive. I think I can see how it will help. My only concern is that I now have 6 weeks left and that doesn't seem like long enough to achieve anything long term. We'll see though! 


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If this post has interested you, you can read my previous post in the series below. Please do share with anybody who it may help as, from my experience, it's very scary to start talking therapies with no knowledge of what to expect.

Previous posts:

Monday

OOTD // 19th January 2015



Jumper: Ebay
Dress: Topshop
If you could create The Perfect Jumper for me, this would be it! It's fluffy, it's pastel and it has a motherlovin' My Little Pony-esque unicorn on it! Kitsch and completely childish, it's the greatest thing I have ever owned!

I actually bought it a few months ago after somebody on Twitter (I can't remember who) sent me the link, thinking it would be perfect for me. I can't remember the exact Ebay shop I bought it from now but there's a few of them listed on eBay under "unicorn jumper" (example here). Although they're sold as one size, luckily the fit is supposed to baggy so I can squeeze myself into it! Perfect!

Sunday

Therapy Diaries // CBT Session 1


I started my CBT sessions for anxiety a couple of weeks ago and thought it may be helpful to keep a record of what happens in each session. My post on what to expect from a therapy assessment seems to have helped quite a few people, and I'm sure a lot of people are as nervous about starting CBT as I was!

Session One
Unfortunately, there was a mix up of the times and I ended up arriving half an hour late. It was nobody's fault but one of the things that really brings out my anxiety is being late, so I was extremely nervous. Although my therapist didn't tell me off, she kept referring to the time and I ended up feeling guilty about the situation. It was probably this that immediately got my defenses up and led me to view the session in a negative light. It's a real shame because I was actually really excited about getting started and tackling my issues.

There were other instances that annoyed me- She did a double take and started to say something when I was a teacher, before setlling on "Oh... ok". Why is that so surprising? What was it that she decided against saying? I regularly felt that she was judging me, which didn't make things any easier.

In this session, I started by filling in another one of those blooming forms that I hate so much before she asked me to briefly fill her in on my problems. Then came the "Tell me about your childhood" part. This was particularly frustrating for me because I felt like I knew exactly what she wanted me to say. I trotted out the story of my parents' divorce and my dad's departure to Liverpool knowing full well that she was thinking I'm an open-and-shut case.

Just before the end of the session, after telling her about my childhood up until the age of 11 (it was only afterwards I realised she hadn't asked me anything about my adolescence, which is where most of my major problems originated), we had to come up with some future goals. At this point, she annoyed me by saying "We don't have a magic wand. We can't just make it go away". I knew this very clearly and felt like she was being a little partronising. In the end, I just said what I knew she wanted to hear, without actually believing it: "I need to accept that I'll never be perfect and my best is good enough".

When I came out, I felt much less positive than when I had gone in. I was left with a feeling of being judged, patronised and like the whole experience was going to be detrimental to my mental health.

Luckily my second session was much better, but I'll be posting that in a couple of days' time, so look out for it! 

Other Posts
If this post has interested you, you can read my previous post in the series below. Please do share with anybody who it may help as, from my experience, it's very scary to start talking therapies with no knowledge of what to expect.

CBT Session 2
CBT Session 3

CBT Session 4
CBT Session 5
CBT Session 6

Saturday

4 ways to support fellow bloggers



Why should I support other bloggers? Isn't that counter-productive? Actually, no. It's very, very productive in fact. Some people worry about "too many bloggers", but you may be surprised to know that there's no blogging quota. There's enough room for all of us. Shocking, right? The good news is that the more you support fellow bloggers, the more support you're likely to get in return.

Picture the scene: You ask two bloggers for some help. One replies but the other ignores. Whose blog are you more likely to visit in future? Who are you more likely to connect with? The helpful one, of course. So if you support fellow bloggers, it's probable that they'll remember you and help you in return. 

There's also the fact that you can make some incredible friends through blogging. Typing away at a keyboard day after day can be quite lonely, especially when nobody really seems to understand what you're doing. Blogger friends will be able to celebrate or sympathise with you and create a valuable support network. 

Looking out for other bloggers not only gives you more support in return but also helps foster friendships and community. Who doesn't want that?




1. Share the love!
There are so many different ways to share blogs you love but it all centres around the same thing: Tell people about them! Every Friday, I publish a list of my favourite blog posts from the week (you can read them here) which is a great way of showcasing bloggers you love. I have a list of my favourite bloggers on my New Reader page and I often retweet posts. Other ways to share the love include adding their button in your sidebar, tweeting links to others, sharing posts on Facebook or Pinterest and good old-fashioned word of mouth.

2. Communicate

I'm pretty sure all bloggers will know how fantastic it feels to get a comment, tweet or even an email with some kind words. If somebody is doing something you love, tell them! Don't be afraid of what they think, because I guarantee they'll be over the moon. You don't even need to send something akin to One Direction's fanmail. Just a "Hi, how are you? I really enjoyed your post on..." is enough to make a blogger beam.

3. Help out
Similarly, if you see somebody looking for help, and you can provide it, dive in. If they're hosting an event, retweet the link. Perhaps they have a question and you can answer it. Maybe you know somebody who would be the perfect person to help out and can point them in that direction. As I said at the beginning of this post, if you can help a blogger out, they're more likely to help you in the future. Not to mention the warm glow of just generally being a nice person. 

4. Click on their ads
This one is a little controversial but it's something I do a lot. I've disabled the ad-blocking software on all the blogs I follow and every time I visit, I click through on an ad. It costs me nothing and it puts a little bit of money in their bank account. The same goes for affiliate links. If I know I want to purchase something from Etsy, for example, I'll go through a blogger's affiliate link first. It's absolutely no hassle for me but it can make all the difference for the blogger. 



Reach out to a blogger you love right now. Tell them why you love them and share the love! Help other bloggers and you'll reap the benefits of good karma, as well as supporting your favourites. It's win-win all round! 


If this post has been helpful for you, please do share on Pinterest or with your own blogger friends. Let's all support each other!

Friday

FF CXXI


Such a magical photo of Vicki! 
Andini's photos from Cambridge are stunning.
I adore Toni's new kitsch blog design!
Libby has drawn me, and written some lovely words, and she is insanely talented! 
You need to see Amber's snow queen coat!
Kaelah's office space is gorgeous! 


Other Favourites
This post title tool is amazing for inspiring new post ideas. 
Olivia has written a wonderful post on why it's ok to earn money blogging
On a similar note, Amber has five questions to ask before becoming a full-time blogger.
Helen's post on 10 blogging myths is fantastic. 

Book review: The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz


The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz- Denis Avey
The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz is the true story of an English soldier, Denis Avey, who found himself captured during WWII and was sent to Auschwitz as a prisoner of war. From his vantage point, he saw first-hand the horrific treatment that Jewish prisoners endured and hatched a plan to swap places with one of them. It is this part of Avey's story that gives the book its name, although I found this quite misleading.
Avey swapped with the Jewish inmate, Hans, overnight on two separate occasions. In the evening, the two men swapped clothes and imitated each other, repeating the process again a few hours later, once morning had broken. Although this is obviously an immensely heroic and brave thing to have done, it seemed odd to title the book after a very minute part of Avey's story. The majority of the book leading up to the swap is about Avey's life in the British Army, most of which is centred around his time stationed in the desert. Of course he has done great things and there are certain events that need retelling but, unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily equal a great book. Much of the narrative is repetitive and banal, such as the repeated references to Avey preparing for bed underneath the tank. 

There has been much controversy over the legitimacy of Avey's story. I have no reason to doubt him and the reunions of individuals towards the end of the book prove that at least some major points are true. To me it seems that most of the doubts are cast around the swap itself, as so little detail is recounted compared to the minutae recorded throughout the desert post. 
Denis Avey had an incredible career in the army and was truly a wonderful man for serving not just the country, but humanity, in the way he did. His stories need to be told, and I'm very glad they have been. I'm just not sure if an autobiographical book was the best approach. 

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