Thursday, 31 January 2019

Let's Reflect: 2018

Hey everyone!

I can't believe it's that time again already, the time to reflect on the past year of 2018. Naturally this post is a little later than it would normally be but that's okay!

It's been quite a rollercoaster, as usual arguably, a mixture of amazingly good times and some horrific times too. It's time to have a little reflection on the year of 2018!

This year has taught me a lot about myself if anything, I've honestly felt some of the lowest I've ever felt and still bloody here! Some days I don't see it but I'm a bit of a bad ass when it comes to my mental health. I need to improve how many of these days I have! There's been times where my own resilience and strength has literally surprised me and had me going "How am I doing this?". I think it's when other people tell me I'm doing well that it sinks in a bit more, even if I don't always feel it!
I experienced difficulties with my mental and physical health during 2018 which did make it very difficult to cope with, something I continue to hope I better in 2019!

In terms of uni, I finished Second Year with a 2:1 which I was super proud and pleased about! During the end of second year, I managed to do 2 presentations in 3 days which although exhausting, was a pretty good achievement! I feel like I've come so far in terms of presentations and actually confidently presenting (note: I'm not confident, I just blag my way through and try and sound as confident as I can!)

Once Third Year started, I actually did another presentation which went somewhat horrifically (I dropped my memory stick down the front of the computer and my lecturer had to actually call someone to come and unlock the cupboard to retrieve it.. awks), but my next one, I actually managed to get a First in and it was a debate which is actually more than just a presentation!! Obviously that was a massive shock to me as I was not expecting that to get me a first! Some of my other classmates who had also been extremely nervous like me managed to do well too which made me so happy too!
Second Year uni has probably been my most enjoyable year of uni, I did a lot more than I did in first year and I did enjoy it. Oh and I also got to see the Vengaboys at my Uni's end of term do which was a lot of fun!

Also let us not forget how amazing the World Cup was this year!! I had such a buzz for it and it happened to be the year England actually finished 4th!! We coincidentally had a heatwave during this time too, which is very unlike us, so generally it was a pretty fab time for us here! The atmosphere was insane, I do miss it!! Especially seeing as the next World Cup is in Winter 2022!

Another thing I've been concentrating on in 2018, has been improving my photography and generally taking more scenic photos. I've mentioned before on the blog that I love capturing beautiful sceneries especially sunsets and I've done a lot more of that this year which has enabled me to have a little 'sunset wall' beside my mirror in my uni house, the pictures actually make me feel very peaceful. I've been trying to improve my blog photography as well, which I've definitely enjoyed doing, being more creative with the photos I've taken has been a real step forward in bettering my blog and my skills!

One of my goals for 2018, was going to therapy, which was actually something I did this year, definitely, extortionately overdue. Although I don't know if it's helped me as much as it could have done, I feel like it did help me a bit and the fact I actually went and did it is huge for me. I actually spoke up about many things I've bottled up inside and my therapist was so lovely to me.

I also got my Spotify Unwrapped 2018, which was interesting enough to tell me I'd listened to 19 hours of Charli XCX during the year! That's understandable, as I've really gotten into her in the past year and a half. She's been dropping tracks throughout the year too which I've loved too. My most-listened to song was Millionaire by Kelis.

I also naturally really enjoyed Love Island and Strictly Come Dancing this year, was so happy for Jack and Dani! And Joe and Dianne were my favourites on Strictly and they did amazingly well too and I'm so happy for them both becoming a couple too!

I think generally 2018 brought a lot of thinking time both negatively and positively for myself and dare I say it, to quote Kylie Jenner 'realising stuff'.
I've realised a lot about myself this year and hopefully can take it on board into 2019.

2019 is going to be one big change again, which does give me fear right now, I want nothing more than to strive for happiness and control of my mental and physical health! 2018 has seen some moments which have tested my strength but I'm still here. I hope to gain more confidence in 2019, I haven't necessarily set myself any official New Year Resolutions as I don't want to pile too much pressure on myself, I have a few hopes/goals but the main thing is to try and be happy and more confident.

How was your 2018? I hope you've enjoyed this post and once again I'm so grateful for all of the support you guys have shown me this year!

If you fancy reading either my 2018 Goals or my Let's Reflect 2017 post feel free!
I'm also thinking of posting my 2018 Favourites soon too as I've drafted it up!

Love & hugs,

Claire xxx

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Blogging Return: Why I Took A Break

Hi everyone!

This is so weird to sit here and type into Blogger again. You've probably all forgotten me. I'm aware it's been quite a while since my last post. It's quite a long story..

I'm not entirely sure where this post is going, but I'm going to do my best to structure it! Hope you're comfortable and within reach of a cuppa or some biscuits!!

I mentioned in one of my summer posts that I'd been struggling during the summer, anxiety and depression was taking over me and it was reaching to me in new waves it had never done before.
I felt so low, empty and disappointed. Everything around me just seemed out of my reach and out of my depth. It was scary how much it progressed and how I felt.
Things that hadn't panicked me were getting to me, irrational scenarios and situations this way and that, were slowly eating me up.
It was impacting on me in all areas of my life, which brings me to my next point.

My blog has always been that place where I've felt safe and felt happy and felt some kind of positivity and ambition whilst writing it.
And suddenly, my safe place was being toxified by thoughts and worries I'd never had before, I began doubting my blog, doubting everything, freaking out with scenarios that weren't even rational.
Spam site blog views were stressing me out for no logical reason at all.
With everything that was going on, I made the decision to delete my blog. It absolutely broke my heart as I mentioned, my blog was my baby, deleting it meant I felt very lost and I remember feeling so disconnected not having it.
Looking back, I didn't feel like myself at all around that time, I was a shadow of myself, I was just a ball of fear and sadness.
I think one of the worst things that got me as the fact it had finally hit my blog as I'd never had that before. But because it was affecting my blogging and how I felt about it, I knew I had to delete it, take some time out and work on myself and focus on getting better. I knew that my content wasn't as good as everyone else's and just felt really stressed about every aspect of my blog, irrational or rational, logical or not, my confidence had gone.
Deleting my blog did actually give me a bit of peace because it was one less thing I had to freak out about but the delete did make me sad, especially as I was still watching all the other bloggers' achieve amazing things, do brilliantly creative posts and for me, it was another aspect of my life my mental health had ultimately taken away from me. I did really miss blogging but I needed to try and focus myself more and try and restore balance.

Starting 3rd Year uni was very tough because of that, all I could feel was negativity and anxiety. My emotions had hold of me and everything was just disappointing, underwhelming or unmanageable. I felt trapped in a constant horror movie. I'd also be really hard on myself too, because of the constant frustration with myself and also wanting to enjoy life to the fullest but there always been some form of negativity toxifying my mind. The second day of uni, I had a panic attack and couldn't leave for my lecture, which following on from how anxious I'd been on the first day, led to a struggle to attend and stay in lectures. Emailing my lecturers made it a bit easier as they understood what I was going through which made it a little bit better if I attended and felt anxious because if I needed to leave or anything they wouldn't be thinking I was rude or anything.

I know my mental health is something I need to work extra on. I spoken to Mind recently to try and help get myself back and the therapist working with me encouraged me to get blogging again. I think it's going to take longer till I actually begin to love myself and give myself as much self-love as I deserve, but hopefully one day I will get there. Being an emotional person doesn't help as I feel very intense emotions sometimes which can be harder to deal with, as well as worrying about what others think of me and if I'm letting them down.

On top of everything else I'd been dealing with, I've had some stomach problems which have gradually gotten worse over the past couple of years. I realise now it's something I've been experiencing for multiple years but have brushed off and not gone to the doctors for. I don't know if it's because my mental health has been worse in recent months to aggravate it but this made my other problems worse because I didn't trust my own body, I still don't know how to cope with that yet, how to manage my symptoms but facing up to my issues was so important.

So it means I've been struggling with the depressive thoughts of wanting to do things but anxiety & stomach issues literally struggling to even leave the house. It's been quite a confusing time for me. Feeling completely out of touch with your own body is a very surreal, confusing and frustrating feeling.

Even though I've focused on a lot of the bad stuff in this post, one thing which I think even I've picked up on myself, has been that I've been active in trying to work on these issues. I've been making an attempt at therapy to try and get on top of things, I've been fighting my corner to try and get others to listen to why I'm struggling which is something I've not really done apart from last year of sixth form when I pushed forward with my tutor over how I was struggling to sit in exams without having panic attacks and felt more comfortable at the back out the way from everyone else.

One thing I think I've decided in terms of my blog, is that I'm only going to blog when I am really happy with the post, I've decided to get rid of my blogging schedule because I never stick to it anyway, the pressure is something I don't want added to it. I did consider changing to Wordpress with a new blog name, but I decided against it at this point in time. I want my blog to be my happy place again and I aim to work for that again. I am a little gutted that I missed blogging during the Christmas and festive season as that's my favourite time to blog but I think I needed the time away to focus and re-evaluate my life a little. I did have a lovely Christmas despite missing writing.

The main thing I am working on is making sure my mental health and physical health is okay.
I truly want to get strong enough to not let things get in my way as much as they are now.
Over the past couple of days, it has dipped a little bit, as I still feel judged, which is probably something I need to work on, but it's tough!

I'm a fairly emotional person and I am a bit of a stresshead as well, I want to work on it though!

I appreciate if you've stuck around to read this post, or even stuck by me and this blog! It means a lot to me! I'm honestly so grateful for any support I've received over the years. Blogging does mean so much to me. The people who I've had support me has changed so much over the past 10 years even the past 5 years and the past 2 years. I'm very grateful for every single piece of affection or love or appreciation you guys give me, whether you're just a reader of my blog or if you know me personally.

Writing this post in particular and reading it back has been very hard, but thank you!
Love & hugs,

Claire xxx