I Unfollowed My Mum To Get Over My Dad

You’d probably think that after my last post then perhaps I have an issue with my mother, but you’d be wrong. Despite our painful past, Mum and I can at least get along for most of the time, but yesterday, I decided to unfollow her on Facebook.

If you’ve read or followed my blog, you’ll know that I lost my father in March 2019 to Multiple Myeloma which progressed into Plasma Cell Leukemia and sepsis. It’s been a long and painful journey that has plunged my family into grief, together.

One of the biggest issues with grief is that nobody really knows how you feel. They say they do (and may even think they do), but grief is so individual because every relationship is individual. My relationship with my father was not just a father-daughter bond. It is the bond that he, a person with his own thoughts and feelings had with me, another person who is of biological connection, who also has her own thoughts and feelings. Unless you can be me, then you will never know or understand our relationship and so you can never understand the pain I feel inside.

Even for my family, grief has united us and it has divided us. Even if we are all grieving over the same person, we are all feeling our own individual grief, in our own individual way. My mother is coping with regular breaks in the Welsh coultryside and the energy and enthusiasm she finds in her place of work, my brother is now on medication and I grieve through mindfulness, awareness and through carrying on what Dad taught me about mental health and psychology, sort of like his legacy. For my mother, she has lost her husband, her lover and her best friend. My brother lost his role model, and I lost my rock and inspiration. Being a married woman myself, I also understand some of the emotions that my mother is going through. My husband is my world, and I too would be lost without him.

One of the most controversial areas with illness and loss is videos and photographs. Sometimes, particularly with cancer it seems, what we thing is benign illness at first glance is actually the warning signs of terminal cancer. If you’d seen the video of my grandfather coughing during a Christmas Day visit, you would have just thought he had the remains of a cold. If you’d seen the video of my father wincing with head pain, you would have presumed he was experiencing an intense migraine attack – but both men had months to live, and both men died of terminal cancer. After their passing, we can be left wondering what to do with these videos. Do we keep them to ourselves and not share their memory, or do we share them and the fact they suffered, or do we bin them in their entirety?

Yesterday, my mother shared a video of my father on her Facebook feed. In the video, my father is experiencing an episode of intense head pain as a result of the Multiple Myeloma. It’s an extremely sad sight to see, but it serves as a reminder that my Dad was ill, my Dad was dying.

My mother’s intentions were not strictly about her loss. Her intentions, as well as they may be, were to highlight the fact that sometimes what appears to be a benign symptom may be something as aggressive as terminal cancer. While I fully support what she was trying to do, there are two problems with her actions.

First of all, fearmongering in this way can lead to more and more people taking up valuable doctor’s time over something which really is benign. Cancer isn’t diagnosed from one symptom, it is a collection of several symptoms and the results of tests and biopsies. Severe headaches can range in cause from cancer to caffeine, and it’s unfair on viewers and medical professionals to lead anyone to needlessly jump to such dramatic conclusions to soon. If you have concerns then by all means get them investigated, but try not to worry about the worst until you need to.

Secondly, seeing this footage compounds my own awful feelings about my loss. Instead of allowing me to remember him for all of the good times we shared, it focuses on the pain he went through and the fact he died. Instead of keeping my head up and smiling on, I slumped against the refrigerator and cried. That’s not how I want to remember my Dad, and that’s not how he’d want me to remember him, either.

Unfortunately, Mum isn’t the only one, and my husband regularly receives calls from his father to remind him to remember his Mum on the anniversary of her passing. While it may be how the individual chooses to grieve, it’s important not to force your ways onto anybody else. As I said previously – grief is individual.

I understand that my mother is grieving and I understand that this is her way of processing her grief. I understand that she feels she failed my Dad and she doesn’t want anyone to make the same mistakes that she feels she made, I understand all of this. The trouble is, while I may understand that and wish well for her, it doesn’t help me process my own grief.

Unfollowing Mum was not an easy decision to make. I love her dearly and I love keeping up to date with the family. In a way, Facebook might as well be Familybook, and much of what we share is really so that the family can see what we’ve been up to. Unfortunately, as Mum has processed her grief, more and more of her posts have been mourning and some of them have been the unpleasantness of some of Dad’s symptoms. While I will always love her, support her and be there for her, for my own sakes, I can no longer be one of Mum’s biggest fans on Facebook.

Helen’s HSP Survival Guide – 18 Tips To Help You Cope!

Hello Lovelies,

I received a letter on SLOWLY last night from a lady who, like me, considers herself to have an empathic/highly sensitive nature. While she was in a bit of a slump, I realised that it’s not only her nor me that experience these lows. Unfortunately, all empaths and Highly Sensitive People are predisposed to extreme highs and lows that perhaps go with feeling more intensely than most people do.

In my relationship, it’s not only me that is an empath/HSP. My husband also has a highly sensitive nature and perhaps that’s what allows us to be able to have a beautiful, vibrant relationship full of adventures and new experiences. Unfortunately, with his ability to appreciate the finer things in life, he is also prone to anxiety, depression and feelings of overwhelm.

So with that in mind, here are 18 tips that have really helped me cope with being a HSP:

  1. Write

I was advised to keep a journal as part of my therapy, but you know what? Writing is just something I do now. My dearly beloved calls me “Jane Austen” because I write, and I write, and I write a bit more! I love writing! And as an empath, you might, too. Buy a diary to keep your thoughts in, or try an online encrypted journal like Penzu.

2. Listen to music

This is one of my favourites and I find it best works if you really ‘feel’ the song. My current favourites include “Big Spender” by Kiana Lede, which is really upbeat and talks about having enough money not to be impressed by a guy’s wealth) and Sia’s “Unstoppable”, which talks about having to put on a brave face and not be seen as weak.

3. Breathe

This was a piece of advice my mother always gave me, just take a deep breathe in, hold it, release slowly. and repeat It’s simple, but surprisingly powerful.

4. Get out in nature

The practice of Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) has been a huge game-changer for me, and even just 30 minutes of walking through the woods can really help, I know when the weather is bad because I don’t go for my walks, and when I don’t go for my walks, I feel more anxious and restless as a result.

5. Get plenty of rest

Rest, even if not sleep, is so important to empaths and HSPs. We get exhausted easily, and exhaustion means our patience and good mood decreases. I personally sleep about 6 hours at night, with a half hour nap in the afternoon (bi-phasic sleeper). Although I don’t get my full eight hours, I usually find that I don’t need it. Most people need 7-9 hours sleep, so find what works for you.

6. Laugh often

This is so important because I find laughter really helps to relieve the overwhelming feelings that come with life’s problems. Not only does laughter help resolve stress, but it’s also proven to help combat anxiety and depression and decrease blood pressure. So laugh, and laugh often.

7. Eat well

It’s easy to live on all that’s not good for us, but if you’re diet is a steady flow of pizza, friend chicken and soda, you won’t be feeling great. Sugar, fats, salts and additives can wreak havoc on your nervous system, so do be sure to have the bad stuff only in balance and in moderation. Skinless chicken, eggs, green steamed veggies, tomatoes and peppers are all great, tasty things to be eating, too.

8. Limit stimulants

Caffeine, nicotine and drugs are all stimulants for a reason, they stimulate you. Your nervous system is frazzled as it is, and still you frazzle it with even more stimulation? Take a break and your body will thank you.

9. Drink the right stuff

Water! Lots and lots of water! We all know how this works, but if not, water helps to flush the bad stuff out of your body which leads to a calmer you. My favourite ways include fruit cordials (“squash”, here in the UK) and herbal teas. Twinings SuperBlend Calm is my current favourite and it’s completely caffeine-free.

10. Talk & share

Poor Matt. Poor, poor Matt. Talking and sharing can be great for empaths and you can often gain valuable insights from speaking to other people. Unfortunately for Matt, he usually has to listen to me whittle on for hours. Regardless, a problem shared is a problem halved, so you should always make time to talk.

11. Keep warm/cool

I am extremely sensitive to temperature changes and too much heat will make me feel panicky, while too much cold will make me feel tired and depressed. If you’re like I am, make sure you wrap up warm in colder months and flake off in the summer heat. A nice cooling fan and water mist can really help cool down an overheated nervous system.

12. Make time to unwind

Whether it be in a hot bath or with a good book, make some time for you. My treat is always a nice long, hot shower. It’s sort of a meditative practice, I imagine letting all of my troubles just roll off of me and down the drain. Whatever works to help you unwind, do it. Frequently.

13. Try natural healing

Massage, aromatherapy, relaxation tapes.. For me, I love ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. If you’re hightly sensitive, you may experience “the tingles”, too. They’re a great thing to explore if you’re looking for ways to feel calm.

14. Cut out toxic people (and triggers)

I’ve written a post before about ghosting and toxic people, but if someone is only adding negativity to your life, wave them cheerio. If they don’t add to your life, why should you be adding to theirs? Your time is far too important to be wasting on people who aren’t worthy.

In a similar vein, a therapist once told me “if you don’t want to do it and don’t need to do it, don’t”. I don’t like horror movies or action movies, so I just.. don’t watch them. If something bothers you and you don’t need to do it, don’t do it!

15. Make time for your hobbies

What’s that one thing you like to do, but just don’t seem to get time for? Well, now you can make time for it. If everybody else is entitled to time to bake, sew and play computer games, so are you!

16. Learn to say no

As an empath, learning to say no can be extremely difficult and yet it so important to do. We can get so bogged down in the wants and needs of other people and then end up wondering why we have no time for ourselves. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means that you recognise your own limitations. There is nothing wrong with that!

17. Consider therapy

I make no bones about the fact that I have been through therapy, several times, in fact. If you need it, therapy is a great tool to have available. You won’t lie on a couch why a therapist ponders over your symptoms and they won’t ask “how does that make you feel?” to every thought or memory you have. Therapists aren’t trying to help you unearth childhood traumas that might be behind an annoying habit, they are there to help you look differently at the thoughts you have been having, and to look at ways of changing your relationship with them. If you suffer with anxiety or depression, I’d highly recommend therapy over medication, any day.

18. Above all else, learn to love yourself

Your empathic, highly sensitive nature is a gift and a burden. Being sensitive means you’re more likely to cry and soppy movies, but you’ll also find extensive beauty where others don’t see it, and that’s a great thing! Instead of kicking yourself and wondering why you’re so damn sensitive, remember, you have a gift to connect with others and and an ability to see beauty in all kinds of situations, and that’s a trait that not everyone possesses.

Stay well and keep smiling, folks.

Helen xx



That was what started this post.

Sia’s Unstoppable.

Maybe it’s the Lacome perfume advert, with the white horse. I mean, just how much power is there in that advert? It absolutely stinks of it. But that song is really, really catchy, and if you love Sia as much as I do, then it sticks more than it stinks.

But, you see, reading the lyrics, I had a realisation, a revelation.

Oh my god, that song could have been written about me.

Pull up a chair, sweetie. Things are about to get real.

Sia’s Unstoppable contains talks about acting strong, it talks about acting tough and seeming invincible and powerful, which I do, but really? I’m a weak, insecure, vulnerable little girl on the inside.

True story.

When I was young, about 10 years old or so, my brother was an actor. It started off with him acting on tables at our weekend youth club, and then he sort of went BIG. Before too long, he was on the radio, he’d been on TV, he had an Equity card, he had a fan base and a following. My friends ditched me for him because he was cooler and more fun to be around, and me? I became nothing. I was inferior. Insignificant.

My brother was acting and earning pocket money, he was attending French cooking classes and my parents would lament over the delicious dishes he learned to prepare. My brother could sing and impress the family and I, meanwhile, was the shy, quiet child. I had nothing to offer, nothing to stand out and say “hey! Look what I can do, too!”

I blended into the background. I even became “Malcolm’s sister” at school and in the street. That’s right, dehumanized to someone else’s name.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love my baby brother dearly, but he is he and I had my own thoughts, desires, and feelings, I just felt like they weren’t as important as his. Instead of shining, I just learned to shut up and fade out.

My GCSE’s were the icing on this cake of envy and self-loathing. Because of my RSD, I got moved to a hopsital education unit where I only got 4 grade C’s and a B, despite being set for top marks at secondary school. Because he stayed at mainstream education, my brother walked out with A* grades, and that only added to my sense of insignificance and inferiority. Not only was he cooler and better than me, now he was smarter, too.

In many ways, this competition was exceptionally unhealthy. We had an “anything you can do, I can do better” relationship, and I knew he was better than me.

He got invited to sing at Christmas dinner, and I’d get asked to get off of the cat’s tail if I tried to sing. He’d get to play his didgeridoo, but I wasn’t allowed to get my hands on my very own drum set. Feeling like my brother was always going to do better than me or be better than me, I learned to be quiet and let him stand out.

For a long time, I was a very meek, depressed and quiet person. I didn’t have anything to offer the world, I didn’t have anything that I believed that I could do well. I was just.. well.. me. Small, weak, and inferior.

To be honest, I didn’t really feel noticed until my now betrothed came along. I suppose he saw something in me, and because of him and because of therapy, I came to be.

Yes, I’ve had therapy, I’m not ashamed to admit it. In fact, I highly recommend it even if you don’t think you really need it.

Looking back, I know that my family believed in me, too, I just felt outshone. My brother’s light shined so brightly that mine was dim in comparison. In the end, I got so tired of trying to compete for attention that I simply gave in and I stopped trying to be noticed. Instead, I coursed my own journey and did my own thing.

I developed my own writing style, and found that many, many of my readers actually liked it.

I developed my own takes on dishes, and found that my family actually like them.

I developed my own dress style, and now people are convinced that I’m cool and confident.

I developed wit, which people came to find charismatic and likeable about me.

I learned to help people through writing. I learned that my thoughts, experiences and insights could make a difference to the world and actually help people discover happiness through the senses rather than medication. I stopped focusing inwards, and focused outwards instead. I stopped writing about me and my thoughts, and put my time and energy into writing things that would help people on a journey to self-discovery. I’m now a sex-positive blogger and I’m also planning to study to become a life coach, if I can find a way.

You see? I didn’t need to be good at the same things as my brother, I needed to be me.

Which is why a moment last month shocked me. Sat in the chalet on Cornwall on a cold, blustery October day, my brother looked me directly in the eye and said,

“You know, I’m kind of jealous of you. I always thought I’d be the one who’d be married first but you know, you’re making it.”

Jealous of me?!

The very person that I was jealous of, is jealous of me, because I have the one thing he doesn’t have – I have love.

It still cuts me to the core to this day, honestly. I feel kind of sad for him. Not because he is a sad person, but because he is so loveable, so likeable, so.. warm, and affectionate, and somebody who would do anything for anyone, but he was jealous of me. It’s quite eye-opening, really.

I’m known for being a bit of a show-off, a bit of a braggart. I’m known for having confidence in the things I do and the things that I achieve, and yet, all of this has come from lacking confidence in the one place that I should have had it to start with- in myself.

I think, sometimes, the world thinks that I think I am unstoppable. I’m not, and I don’t. I’m actually extremely sensitive and I’m wracked with anxiety on a near daily basis. I’m a serial ghoster because cutting people out is easier than it is to call them on their shit. I cut people out readily for being a bad friend because now that I’ve built myself up, I won’t have anyone pull me back down. Where I am now matters to me so much that I am also extremely sensitive to criticism. I’d rather have no friends than have friends who criticize me, because criticism means that I’m not enough.

Not good enough.

Not smart enough.

Not pretty enough.

It puts me at risk of going back there again, and I won’t let anyone do that to me. I can’t.

My confidence is fuelled by fear. and I need to maintain control to avoid being inferior again.

I’ve built myself up now, together with a handful of people who saw me and believed in me, but my sense of self is still so fragile. It’s so fragile that deep inside, I still seek your validation.

But then, I think we all do, if we’re being honest.

When we stop measuring ourselves by likes, follows, and online friends, only then will we see that numbers don’t matter. When we realise that the only person we really need to love us is ourselves, only then can we ever be truly happy with what we have, and who we really are.

2 Powerful Phrases For Helping You Handle Intrusive Thoughts

Hello everyone!

I’m sure if you read my last post, you will be familiar with the guided meditation I mentioned, about a octopus and the bubble. Today I wanted to teach you two very simple but very powerful phrases which can also help you disempower those painful thoughts.

One of the hardest things with intrusive thoughts is being able to disengage from them. Once they enter our minds and begin to stress us out, there is no way to detach from them, no way to disengage from them. No way out until our brains decide to let go.

But what if I told you that there are some simple phrases that you can use to stop your brain before it starts? What if I told you that a few simple words can make it so that you don’t even have to try and disengage?

Phrase 1: So what?

When you challenge a thought with “so what?”, you are asking it what it means, what importance does it have? For example, if, like me, you’ve been on a busy train platform and you’ve suddenly thought “what if I jump in front of the train right now?”, the natural reaction would be to worry. But what if, instead of worrying, we ask ourselves “so what?” , what does it mean? What logic can we gain from this thought?

The answer is simple: If we jump onto the track in front of a train, we are going to die.

Our thoughts do not reflect our true desires, they are our brains warning us of the potential dangers around us.

Being near the railway line does not necessarily indicate that you want to jump onto the track (unless you are suicidal, in which case please talk to someone), it just indicates that you know the tracks are not a safe place to be.

We can apply it to almost any situation:

What if she/he doesn’t love me?

Do you need another person to live, anyway? That’s codependency, my friend. Discover yourself, be yourself and love you first. Never, ever give anyone else power over you.

That interview was stressful, what if I don’t get the job?

So what? Maybe it wasn’t the best job for you anyway, maybe there is something much better out there waiting for you.

Phase 2: I don’t know

One of the hardest things to accept in life is uncertainty. In an uncertain world, the one thing we all want is certainty and guarantee. We cling to the past, afraid of the future. We cling to what we know because we are frightened of what awaits us, but the truth is, we really don’t know, and we never will know until we try.

How did I know I could make clotted cream fudge? I didn’t. How did I know that I would find my strength after losing my Dad? I had to wait and see for myself.

When we accept that we don’t know, we give up the need for certainty and we embrace change. We welcome each day with open arms and a thirst for what’s new. You become curious about life and excited for each day. Instead of putting things into orderly boxes, you accept that sometimes things fit somewhere in between.

The  only way you’ll know, the only way you’ll ever have answers, is if you try.

How do you cope with inrtrusive thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

I Am Enough. You Are Enough, Too

Not so long ago I found myself in a complete funk over something a friend said.

I’m sure, absolutely convinced in fact, that the friend meant no harm in what he said, but nonetheless, I was in a funk about it.

He told me that I needed to blog more often if I wanted to earn from my blog.


As it was, I had written only two days before. Secondly,:-

  • 7th March, my Dad died
  • 3rd April was his funeral
  • In between those two dates I was tasked with a lot of preparation work for the funeral
  • On 24th April I contracted a spring cold from my husband and was bedbound for a week with dizziness, headaches and sinus pain

So forgive me if my output had been limited to maybe.. two posts.

At first, this comment made me feel like perhaps I shouldn’t be blogging. I felt like all of the people who told me that I have a captivating writing style were wrong. I felt like the very thing that I so enjoyed, I should just… stop. Give up, pack up and go back to working the vacuum. I felt like I had nothing interesting to say, nothing to add, nothing
worthwhile writing about. A bit of an overreaction? Maybe, but that was how I felt.

I got really down on myself that evening and my husband found me, sat on the bed and balling a tissue in my hand, pressing away the tears.

“You don’t believe you’re enough and you really should.”

That was my husband’s advice, to me, someone who writes about mental health!

I don’t think I’m enough, you don’t think you’re enough, we all don’t think we’re enough, and you know why? Because society tells us that we aren’t enough.

How many of these can you relate with?

  • Not smart enough
  • Not attractive enough
  • Not thin enough
  • Not funny enough
  • Don’t work hard enough
  • Not cool enough

And more..

Sometimes these comments are recent, or sometimes, like for me, they happen in childhood and take years of dedication and hard work to get rid of.

So let me tell you something, let me tell you something that the devil on your shoulder doesn’t want you to hear.



Please don’t change a thing about you!

If you want to lose weight or go back to school, do it for your own goals, do it for something or somewhere that you want to be, to further your career or be able to run in a marathon. Do not EVER do it because you don’t believe that you are enough.

Because somewhere out there, someone is doing exactly the same thing to themselves, wishing that they were more like you.

12 Ideas For Coping With Anxiety & Depression

All of the ideas in this post are entirely from my own experiences and are 100% commission-free!

And not an antidepressant in sight.

1. Bach’s Rescue Remedy

I cannot advocate these enough. Legal and safe, Rescue Remedy gives me a sense of calm and clarity, rather than the groggy, half-awake state like something like benzodiazepines. If all you want and need is a touch of calm and reassurance, I strongly recommend Rescue Remedy. Also, the pastilles just look like little jelly candies, so nobody will know you’re calming your nerves.

2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

I realise this here is going to be controversial, but I found Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT Therapy) to be a great help for me once I researched and practiced it away from a none-too-useful therapist. Analysing my thoughts rather than just talking about them helped me to understand my triggers and to treat myself with the same compassion and support that I would give a friend.

3. Being close to water

Be it the fountain in my garden, the ocean, the stream.. if I can hear water, bizarrely my anxiety eases. Close your eyes and just listen to the flowing water. Try to imagine your stresses washing away in the flow. With a little practice, its surprising how well this works.


ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, can be a great tool with anxiety. An estimated one in 10 people experience ASMR, or “the tingles”, a pleasurable tingling sensation which is triggered by certain sounds including crinkling, tapping and hair brushing. Whilst not everyone experiences it, for those of us who do, it can be a great temporary relief from our negative, anxious thoughts.

5. The “HALT” technique

Used for mental health and addiction, HALT is an abbreviation of the 4 biggest causes of relapse – Hunger, Anger, Loneliness & Tiredness. When you can identify the trigger, you can do something about the problem. Hungry? Have a snack. Tired? Take a nap. Do not underestimate how well HALT works..

6. Exercise

I’m not even talking about a huge, pain-staking blow-out at the gym. A ten-minute walk, 20 minutes on a bike, whatever, it’s up to you. Exercise burns off that jittery feeling which is crucially what anxiety is. Your body is in “fight or flight” mode and you’re sat there doing nothing. Get up, move and burn it off. You don’t even need to do much. Jog on the spot or do 20 star jumps. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it and your body (and mind) will thank you, too.

7. Swimming

I’m adding this one to my list separately because it’s exercise, and then it us not. For me, swimming is as much a meditation as it exercise. When I swim, I like to imagine that I’m sweeping all of my worries behind me as I swim forward. Try this powerful visualisation and see.

8. Touch

Never, ever underestimate the power of touch. Cuddle therapy exists, massage therapy exists and for good reason. Touch releases oxytocin and serotonin that allow us to feel safe and allow our minds to relax. It is said that a 3-minute hug can reduce or even cure depression, so cuddle, cuddle, and cuddle some more!

9. Grounding

Not like your mother used to do! Grounding is one of my favourite techniques which works similarly to mindfulness to bring your focus back to the present moment. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, focus on 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can feel, 2 things that you can smell and one thing that you can taste. Still anxious? Repeat the exercises with different answers for each of your five senses.

10. Distraction

Some therapists hate this because it’s more about running away than it is about tackling the problem, but sometimes it’s just not possible to start doing your therapy homework. Draw, write, listen to music, play with a pet, do whatever it takes to feel a bit calmer again.

11. Peppermint tea

A concoction suggested by my mother uses 2 drops of alcohol-based peppermint extract with a little sugar (or sweeteners) and warm water. Peppermint oil has a wonderful way of clearing the mind, calming the nerves and bringing about a sense of ease. Plus, it’s the perfect reason to have a mint humbug a day – sounds good to me!

12. Essential oils

Yep.. I know.. more hippy stuff, but they work! Like all others, lavender is my favourite to calm a racing mind, but peppermint helps to clear the head and lemon or orange do great to boost the mood.

Which ones are your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

A Guide To Your Authentic Self

Until very recently, I followed a Youtuber (who shall forevermore remain anonymous) who taught me a lot about fighting with anxiety, and identity. I was inspired by this young lady, I was motivated by her courage, motivated to change, until one of her most recent updates – she was quitting.

Why? Because she felt that people were misusing her videos and, because of that, she was quitting. There was an uproar. A complete and utter backlash. But, you see, my problem wasn’t  that I felt cheated by what she had done, my problem was that whilst teaching us to be authentic, she hadn’t been authentic to herself. In a way, I felt sad for her.

Make no mistake, there were times I have been inauthentic, we are all capable of it and we all tell small white lies to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. The trouble is, the only person who really suffers because of your inauthenticity is yourself.

Take, for example, that sweater that Aunt Bev knitted you that which you really, really hate. You can still turn it away and be kind. Instead of saying “It’s great, I love it!” and feeling secretly resentful when you are expected to wear it at every Christmas party, you could express your gratitude instead, and still be honest about the reasons that it’s not for you.

“Wow, thankyou! You know, I’m a little unsure because green washes me out a bit, but thankyou! I really appreciate the gesture!”

You see? By expressing your gratitude for the gift, you are being authentic in your receiving the gift, and yet by explaining why you may never wear it, you are being honest (and thus, authentic) also. If your Aunt Bev then wants to accuse you of being an ungrateful pig who doesn’t appreciate her hard work, well, then that’s her cross to bear.

Sometimes, authenticity upsets people. Let me tell you, I know that I have relatives that would give their right arm to see me in a flowery pink summer dress, skipping down the garden path and giggling like the young lady that I’ve become. Well, I haven’t, and I won’t. Not only would doing so make me feel very uncomfortable, it also wouldn’t be authentic.

Not so long ago, I broke up for a time with my authentic self. Convinced that my choice to wear black really did mean I was depressed, I tried other colours. While I might have occasionally felt feminine and chic, there was something tugging in myself – I wasn’t being authentic, at all.

I am a black and denim girl. I live for rock band t-shirts and jeans and my hair, a natural brunette, is usually dyed with a hint of red. I match it all off with a silver-smokey eyeshadow and pale lips. I have a playful, rebellious, tomboy nature. That’s me, that’s who I am. That’s authentically me.

Before I started my blog, I had to ask myself a question. What did I want to do, and why was I doing it? The answer which came to me was simple, I was trying to help people, and I was doing this because I have been on my own adventure and I wanted to help people by writing about it.

When you are authentic to yourself, you walk different, you talk different, and you notice the people around you who aren’t authentic to themselves. Someone who is authentic does not care for fitting in, they just exist. They are them, and you can love them or you can hate them. They are not followers, they are ringleaders. An authentic person can make quick decisions based on their own wants and needs because they know their own wants and needs. If you don’t know what you want and need, how can anyone else help you?

Quite often, authentic people fall foul of those who want us to conform to their ways. The world is full of insecure people whose validation exists entirely on the agreeability of others. Other times, we meet those (usually the older generations) who have a wealth of wisdom to offer, and expect us to follow in their footsteps. It is important to show respect to those who may know better than us and to thank them for their input. However, it is up to us to decide what and how much (or how little) of their advice we heed.

Authenticity is not a destination, it is a choice. It is pursuing our own goals and interests, our own journey in life. It may not be for everyone and we may be criticised heavily for whatever we decide. Know that that is okay, you will meet others like you along the way. You reserve the right to engage with those who support you in your goals, and disengage from those who bring you down.

Authenticity can also be selfish, yet it need not be. Authenticity can be refusing to attend a church service because it doesn’t conform with your beliefs. It is not, however, being plainly rude or spiteful to those who still wish to attend.

So to you, if you have found your authentic self, I say well done and a huge congratulations. Be whoever you want to be and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. To those of you who are still yet coursing your journey I have two questions to help you;

Who are you, and why do you exist?

Product Review: Blurt’s BuddyBox- An All Round Good Idea, But With A Few Caveats

I ordered August’s BuddyBox Lite as a one-off from the Blurt Foundation at the end of July. As someone who writes about mental health, it seemed like the ideal subscription box for me to get into.

About Blurt: The Blurt Foundation aims to help raise awareness of and support people with depression. They do this by distributing books, materials and treats to help promote compassion, awareness, self-help and fun activities for people in times of need.

A little on me: I was born with “endogenous depression”, or more simply, depression from birth. Although my depression is not historically severe, I am prone to occasional bouts of feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, stress, anxiety and tearfulness. I do experience occasional episodes of suicidal thoughts, though with a friendly ear and a cup of tea, I am usually able to get through the toughest days just fine.

The BuddyBox: I ordered August’s “The Captain Of My Ship” BuddyBox Lite, which promises “at least 3 products”, priced at £12.00 . I felt that this was ample enough to give me an idea of the quality of these boxes, without compromising too much money if it all goes horribly wrong.

The days before: When you check out, you’re energetically informed that your BuddyBox will be shipped on the 9th of the next month, when all of their shipments go out. However, on the 9th August, a little email pinged into my inbox to tell me that my BuddyBox had been delayed because of some issues with the box suppliers. and my box will now not be shipped until 12th August. While it’s generally understandable that things like this happen, I felt like some sort of concession would have been nice. Free shipping on your next order? 10% off of your next box? There are always ways to keep your customers happy without severely compromising your aim and, as a first-time customer, I had to wonder how often hiccups like this happened. By this experience alone, I would not be ordering from Blurt again.

It arrives: My Blurt BuddyBox arrived to me on 14th August. Initially, I was confused because I knew that it was coming in, well, a box. Instead, my box had been shoved seemingly unceremoniously into a grey plastic postal bag and shipped to me only a few days before. Again, I failed to understand the the need for the extra plastic and, as someone who is trying to reduce her use of single-use plastic, this seemed in excess. Even postal health snack distributor Graze uses less single-use plastic than this!

First impressions: With the grey plastic bag now gone, I was greeted by some pretty nautical artwork on the box sleeve itself. Each side featured Blurt’s web address in a white , unobtrusive print and “BuddyBox” in a swirly font on top. It advertised the company without demanding your immediate attention, colour me impressed. The box itself, however, is simply plain cardboard.

What’s inside: With the lid removed, I was presented with an equally attractive postcard with a quote from Socrates. While the intention was great, the back of the card was plain- no personal messages, no guidance, nothing. Slightly miffed at another lost opportunity to feel like a valued customer, I tossed it to one side.

Inside the box was the most beautiful, nautical tissue paper that I think I have ever seen- a powder blue paper delicately printed with light blue ships’ wheels. If I could just have a box of that tissue paper to use to wrap gifts in, I think I’d be very happy indeed! Holding it all together was a sticker seal with the same seagull as was drawn on the postcard. The same seagull  who, for the entirety of that afternoon, I’d dubbed Simon – after Simon the Seagull.

The contents: The contents of my box started to slip out before I could photograph the paper and I had to tuck them back in to keep things in order. With my technical difficulties out of the way, I slowly and delicately peeled back Simon (mindful of the tissue paper that I oh so wanted to preserve, of course) to reveal 2 books, a pamphlet and a packet of “Sea of Uncertainty”. The books and contents were as follows:

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  • 365 Ways To Be Confident – I gave this book a read through. However, as someone who is generally quite confident (even if occasionally a little blue) I didn’t feel this book really best suited me. Instead, I gave it to my husband , who struggles a lot more with his self-esteem than I do. He was exceptionally grateful for my generosity and absolutely loves some of the ideas in this book.
  • The Self-Helpful Series, Workbook 1: Getting to grips with who you are– Make no mistake, this book really moved me and it was the one I kept for myself. It asks you various questions, like what you like, what you don’t like, who inspires you, who (or what) annoys you. Towards the end, it asks you to list your limiting beliefs, then take a black pen and cross them out because they are no longer true for you. This exercise moved me to tears and made me begin to see that I am beautiful, I’m not hopeless, and I can be more and I can do more.  This book is also printed by Blurt Foundation themselves and feels good quality.
  • Zine” pamphlet– This little pamphlet has made it to my “emotional first aid” box (which I will write about another time) because it’s really helpful and supportive for combating one of the biggest burdens in my life – the fact that my mother thinks I am autistic. As many (or probably more than) people who knew me back then know me now, and nobody, not even my doctor, will utter such an idea. Unfortunately, now that my Mum has been given this idea when I was a child,  she wants me diagnosed and she wants supported, as any mother would surely want for their child. For me, I refuse because I don’t believe that I meet any (or many) of the descriptors and I instead match the markers for being gifted and sensitive. That’s fine! This little pamphlet taught me that as long as we accept each other’s opinions and don’t try to force our views on one another – fine.
  • The Sea of Uncertainty from Mapology Guides: I get what this little map was about, but I was rather perturbed by it arriving wrapped in plastic. My initial thoughts were that it was something edible or something with small parts, so to find that it was really just a mental health map (a good quality one, mind you) that was wrapped in plastic seemed a bit pointless to me. A lot of the information on this map I knew about already, but I kept it anyway, just because it’s not always so easy to think about the obvious at times of high stress.

Final thoughts – the pros: 

  • Some of the resources are really informative and helpful, even for some people who feel like they’ve sort of got a foot in the door from previous therapy sessions, like I have.
  • The packaging is attractive and the running theme throughout the box makes sure that nothing looks garish and out of place.The hand-drawn artwork is a nice touch, too.
  • Even if one of the books wasn’t suited to me, the fact that it wasn’t personalised meant that I could gift it to someone who would appreciate it and use it. In my case, my husband.
  • You definitely do “break even”. Just to test that theory, I scanned the barcode on the back of “365 Ways To Feel Confident”, fearing that it might have been a discounted book that had failed to sell and was there for going for pennies. However, I found two listings priced at around £7 for this book, which leaves an allowance of £5 for the other contents and packaging which seems pretty reasonable. Given this, I’d definitely say that the BuddyBox was value for money.

And the cons:

  • First and foremost, obviously, the box was delayed with no compensation or discounts. This doesn’t do much to make first-time buyers feel confident about future transactions.
  • The amount of plastic – At a time when we’re supposed to be reducing how much single-use plastic we generate and Greta Thunberg is sailing the Atlantic on a carbon-neutral vessel in aid of climate change, I couldn’t help but think about how much plastic this box carried, and how much plastic is being produced for better mental health. There were two pieces of single-use plastic for my order alone, so however many orders Blurt Foundation received, it’s producing at least as many pieces of single-use plastic, doubled.
  •  Finally, there is no obvious information about whether or not your empty box can be recycled. My gut instinct said yes, and the fact that the recycling guys seemed to agree with me, then I would say that theory checked out. However, this information isn’t obvious anywhere in the box and people may err on the side of caution, leading to more of the packaging needlessly ending up in landfill.

Overall, would you buy this box again?

I was initially frustrated with Blurt and the fact that I felt almost disregarded and fobbed off by their email about packaging suppliers. However, much of the content of these boxes is informative and helpful. I think I would buy a Blurt box again, on the proviso that they reduce or eliminate the amount of single-use plastic involved with these boxes. There really is no need for a cardboard box to be shipped inside a plastic bag!

What rating would you give this box?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Good value overall, minus a few hiccups. It loses a star for the delays and needless plastic!

Do you know of a subscription box which is aimed at or helps improve your mental health? Let me know in the comments!

Housewives Get Stressed And Lonely, Too

Dear Friends,

I wanted to write a short reminder for you all about the importance of recognising and supporting us housewives. All too often we are overlooked, and the consequences can have an effect on everyone.

In my family, mental health has a profound affect on us all in some way. My Dad struggled with hypochondria, my mother suffers with generalised anxiety and depression, my brother struggles with depression and even my husband struggles with anxiety and depression. I myself struggle with anxiety and panic attacks and so in one way or another, it is extremely important to me in many, many ways.

From about 12 years old, anxiety became a part of my everyday life. For 8 years, following a panic attack, I myself became a hypochondriac. After that, it became OCD and a fear of sharp knives. I was so afraid that I would stab someone that I threw all of my sharp knives away. On my wedding day, I cried because I was sure I’d kill the man I’d just married (he’s still very much alive!) and I thought I’d go on a killing spree with the cake knife. The power of the mind, hey?

For the past 5 years, I’ve struggled regular bouts of suicidal ideation. It always comes from a place of feeling out of control, as though I have more work to do than I have hours in the day and no time to look after myself. I look at myself in the mirror, 8 dress sizes bigger than I used to be, hair disshevelled and dry and acne and dark rings decorating my face, and I sigh. I used to be so slim, so pretty, whatever happened to me?

Trying to get myself back on track is a lot harder than it should be, no, it’s almost impossible. By the time I’ve walked the dog, washed the dishes, made my husband’s lunch for the next day, cleaned the kitchen, tidied the lounge and bedroom, run the laundry and given the toilet a quick scrub, the very last thing I want to do is to work out! Self care might stretch to brushing my hair and clipping my fingernails, if we’re lucky. Sadly, very few people understand how much I try to achieve, and that can leave me feeling like a worthless failure as a result.

Because of chronic pain that flares up and settles down almost as often as the weather, a lot of managers and employment agencies find me too ‘unstable’ to be employable. After a gruelling two years of trying, I gave up and resigned myself to the fate of a housewife.

For a long time, I’ve loved being a housewife. My husband goes off to work and I maintain the home, it has a cute, traditional vibe about it. Over time though, I found that the pressure mounts up and a woman really is expected to have it all in order, so I’d get stressed when-

  • I’d steam mopped the floor, and 10 minutes later it was covered in muddy pawprints and boot prints
  • I’d wash up, and by the evening most of the dishes were back on the side, dirty, to be cleaned again.
  • I’d walk the dog, and by 2pm he’d recovered and wanted to play as soon as I sat down
  • There are birthdays and Christmasses to prepare for, and guess who normally shoulders that responsibility? Moi!
  • I order the groceries online, and time spent making sure I remember 5 types on sandwich filler and what week we’re on (we have a rolling 2-week plan), I’ve lost at least two hours of my day

And more

Being a housewife is tiring and it’s thankless, and on top of that you’re supposed to be pretty and picture perfect, too. It’s no wonder women rebelled 60 years ago!

Being a housewife (or house-husband!) is also incredibly lonely. For some, their only companionship is a young, babbling child. For me, he’s a 4-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, who cares more about the gulls he can hear outside than he does about whether or not I’m feeling cold. When your partner is full of conversations with colleagues and you’re left grateful for a visit from the postman, it can leave you feeling rather left out. We are the silent workers, the homekeepers, the forgotten-abouts. We get the socks washed and paired up and the hot meals cooked, so you don’t have to.

Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people, it affects stay-at-home parents and disabled and unemployable people, too. If you know someone who is home alone for a lot of the time, please, please give them a knock and talk to them for a few moments. You never know what dark and isolating thoughts they maybe having.

Keep smiling, folks.

Hugs & kinky cuddles,

Helen xx