Thursday, 7 December 2017

Dear A.D...

Dear A.D*,

Well, we haven’t been very well acquainted for very long, and for years I swore we never would be. I was intent on avoiding a relationship with you. I’d observed your connection with family members for years, and I had watched a marriage break down because you weren’t around anymore. That dependency terrified me. I swore I would always keep you at a distance. But in time I have been persuaded and here we are. I don’t know if I could consider us friends, quite yet, but it seemed fitting that I write to you anyway. In this stage of my life, I need your support. The first few weeks were rocky, I will admit. And I almost gave up on you. I am almost glad that I didn’t, upon reflection. But I worry you will give up on me, before I am better equipped to deal with the cracks that seem to have appeared in my head.


You make me tired. Everyday. But you also mean that I can to sleep, and you help me to sleep. You mean that I can face each day without feeling the temptation disappear or check out. You are a form of courage, in a way. Although I miss drinking, and sadly this is not an element of our friendship. It is something we can not compromise on, no matter how much I do miss it. Regardless, I am too tired. I am even more so as the days go on. Why is this? Perhaps because so much of my energy goes into letting you in. It goes into keeping negativity away and fighting off urges. So, I suppose that becoming tired is a fair and noble sacrifice to make. You, my friend, mean I can get out of bed. You make it, so I can get up, and operate normally. Whatever normal is. I suppose that having your support means that I can to perform, in a way I have never can do when I was younger. You make my depression more manageable. And I know that I panic much less when I have you on side. When panic does hit, you make the little voice that tells me to breathe that little bit louder.
Still, you concern me. Or rather, your effects on me concern me. I wonder about how many of my reactions are really mine. How many are things you have quietly suggested to me. I wonder how I have changed since my association with you began. I wonder if I have changed at all. I wonder if my feelings are just numb, or lying beneath the surface. Rather than dissolving. Truth is, I don’t know what is going on internally. It worries me that I am too tired to care a lot of the time. Even so, on occasion I am grateful for the break from myself. The numbness that you give me most days.  

My thoughts race quite a bit too. Sometimes it feels as though my skin is crawling, or is thrumming. Concentration is also hard to come by. And despite being tired, sometimes sleep evades me. Sometimes you are not enough to get me out of bed. Sometimes everything else is a bit too much. Sometimes it is simply enough for you to keep my head quiet whilst I lie there, and think. It is enough for you to be there, and for me to know that I have tried that day.


My dear A.D, you are somewhat of a comfort blanket now. I have tried going without once or twice. I am not ready to get through the day without you. And I’m only just now beginning to accept that as being okay. I’m realising that you are not an instant fix, and you cannot fix all the things that are wrong. You cannot fight off all the demons- only I can do that.  But you can buy me some space, and some time. I’m learning that self-love, and self-care can buy me even more head space, and more time. This includes talking to people and being honest when I am struggling. And I am trying.


For so long, I thought that needing you made me weak. That it meant I couldn’t cope on my own. But asking for help, and admitting that I needed you, is one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. And until now you have remained one of my best kept secrets. But there is nothing to be ashamed of. You do not make me crazy, just as you will not make me happy. You are as you are. I accept that. The majority will come from me.
Someday, A.D, I hope we will be friends. I hope we will gel better than we do now. However, I hope that one day I will be strong enough to leave you behind. But I want to remember you fondly. For now, I must stick with you. But I will remember that 'all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well'. Someday, I will be well.
I hope you are well, too.
Yours,
S
--------------------------------
*Anti-depressants.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Starting small, a note to self.

Okay. Hello and welcome once more, to yet another rough patch. Or as I like to call it, I feel like a depressed mess 101. Things aren't good right now. Well. That's a big statement. It hasn't been a good couple of days and I hoping it will be good again from now. I'm trying really hard to just accept the fact that I am sad, and this will happen. There is nothing wrong with me, and this does not make me strange or a mess or fucked up or all of the rest of the bad things I keep labelling myself with. I am just having a bad patch. And this is okay (maybe).

There are a lot of things I need to deal with right now, and there are a lot of things that are catching up with me. Some I am willing to do here, and admit here, and some I am not yet ready to talk about. But will probably do at a later date. This isn't me taking another break from blogging, but instead I am here to admit that there is a problem for me right now. More so for myself than anything else. And instead, I'm going to use this space to write about other things, rather than the state of my head. Like reading and university!

I am depressed.

I hate that word but that's what I am, right now. Reading that back, I'm thinking, wow. And I have already written myself off as pathetic or over dramatic. Hell, maybe I'm oversharing. But I'm taking this confession as a good sign and I am writing this because I am going to be okay again. I don't know when, but that's okay too. I have to stop putting so much pressure on myself and being ashamed of my feelings and thoughts. I'm taking this evening to attempt to be kind to myself, and do the things that I enjoy. I realised this week that I am really awful to myself. So far I have eaten properly, napped, baked cakes and I am running a bath. I've been making lists, working through some stuff, and cleaning up. I could not have done any of these things yesterday. I am smiling again. This is me starting small.

For the past couple of days I have been staring into space and lying in the same place in my bed. I have had a big, long headache, I have cried a lot. I have been numb, and yet in severe pain. I have not been myself and it has felt like I have been underwater. It's been shit and I hate this feeling.

Have I even been awake for the past few days? Who knows!

But I miss happy me. However, I have to remember that she is coming back. She's still there. This is not me, I am not naturally unhappy. And it is not my fault. These feelings are going to go away and I am going to be okay.

Other smaller things that I need to remember: asking for help is good. Not everyone is going to leave. I have some very kind and good people around me. I am lucky and very thankful.

I also need to stop saying sorry. I hadn't realised how damaging it was to constantly convince myself that I am a burden, that I am in the way, and that I always have something to be sorry for. It does not help me or the people around me.

Okay. This has helped! I will be back to discuss something more literature based before the end of the week, hopefully.

I hope you're all having good weeks. But if not, stay strong. You've got this.

Night night guys.

S.








Saturday, 21 October 2017

Meeting Holly Bourne- It Only Happens In the Movies (spoilers inc.)

Happy Saturday guys! This week has been a funny one. Not the best, I'll admit. But that's for a different post that I'll attempt later one. I did, however, get to meet Holly Bourne this week! This time, I decided to live tweet the whole thing. I had a brilliant time.

Holly Bourne's most recent novel came out this month and I only wish that I had read it sooner! I finished it this afternoon, and managed it in one sitting.

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents' relationship imploded her mother's been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn't mean things are easy. Because real love isn't like the movies...

The greatest love story ever told doesn't feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clich├ęs. Oh, and zombies... YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel (goodreads).


The evening began with a series discussion of whether or not nuns had bank accounts. Bourne had witnessed a nun paying, that morning, to use the toilets at the train station. Did nuns have pockets? Who knows but it made the audience laugh!

With the new book being about Romantic Comedies, it seemed only appropriate for Witten to begin with a discussion surrounding Bourne's relationship with the genre! She talked about the fact that romantic comedies are an acceptable thing to watch on a Sunday, when you're in your pyjamas. After all, she commented, you can't be a feminist all of the time? We all laughed and I couldn't agree more. I think that the romantic comedy is very closely linked to the idea of them being a guilty pleasure. I think there is a tendency to judge those that admit to linking romantic comedies, and they're definetly considered a gender specific genre. I had just never really considered the aspect that Bourne referred to; the notion of romance films as abusive.

Holly Bourne commented that females fulfil roles, especially with regard to the watching of romance films! I know I've definetly watched rom-coms and felt a tiny bit depressed because I'm not Mila Kunis, or haven't got Kate Hudson's (albeit delayed) good luck with men! However, Bourne regards Katherine Heigl as the opposite to the media constructed cool girl. I suppose that's right, but Heigl's busy life in 27 Dresses is something I enjoy watching. It gave me hope. I wish I didn't get sucked in to the trap of Hollywood and romantic comedies. Both Witten and Bourne briefly mentioned that 500 Days of Summer is 'the perfect deconstruction of the rom-com'. And this got me thinking; if I had the choice between watching something like Bridget Jones' Diary, or Pretty Woman, and 500 Days of Summer then I would hands down pick either of the first to. Why? I don't know. I am more drawn to happy endings. I think they're perhaps comforting, but maybe I'm just a soppy buggar! I'm not disputing the fact that 500 Days of Summer has a happy ending. Because it does, just with the protagonists falling for other people (sorry for those of you that haven't seen it)! And I liked the similarities in subverting expectations of romance that Bourne included in her new novel.

Then, naturally, we turned to the topic of the conventional Bad Boy. The idea that one girl can change a guy that is happy 'play[ing] the field, and the field next to it'. Bourne states that she intended for her male protagonist, Harry, to be the ideal man'. He is supposed to be the bad boy, but with depth, that gives girls hope. I started to realise that these sorts of characters give women far too much hope. And it was with this thought that I started to see how badly I had been conned by this genre of films!

Holly Bourne gave one of the best, kinda speeches I suppose. She talked about the concept of the chase and I, for one, needed to hear it. Bourne stated the obvious; that love isn't chasing a 'carrot'. The chase is nothing to do with love. Instead, it a symbol of power. She suggested that if you're jumping through all these hoops to get somebody, then are you really going to want them in the end anyway? This really made me think. I've wasted my time on a guy so much this year, and I wish I hadn't because all it has done is make me feel sad. Listening to Bourne's thoughts really knocked it into place for me, but she'd only been confirming what friends have said to me before. To sum it up, she encouraged us to stop chasing people.

'There are loads of awesome people out there who will love you for who you are'.
-Holly Bourne.

Witten asked Bourne, finally, what she wanted her readers to take away from her new book? And she responded that she wanted them to consider what each of their ideas of a happily ever after was. That it was important to consider that a happily ever after wasn't always these media induced ideas. Instead, it was about who made you feel safe. Who didn't make your stomach feel sick. A happily ever after is with someone who just makes you feel okay. And yet I couldn't agree with Bourne more, when she said that you can only have your version of your happily ever after if you loved yourself first. I'll admit, especially after this week, that I am not very good at loving myself. But I will always always encourage others to do it. Somebody else can not love the entirety of you, unless you are capable of it first. Its something I very much wish I was better at, and it is the root of a lot of insecurity in all sorts of different relationships.

Following this, Hannah introduced two games; Think Quick, followed by Kiss, Marry Kill. Here are some of my favourites in tweet form!

I resent any negativity aimed at Mr Darcy!

Bourne and Witten also discussed writing. Holly described writing as sitting at home, and hallucinating. Then writing it down! The only reason it's not thought of as a legitimate sign of madness is because the stuff gets published. I thought this was a wonderful way to look at it. She also describes the fact that this is her first time writing full time. Previously, she had written on trains on the way to work. And as exciting as it was, she often found herself staring into space whilst sat in a towel, after a shower.

One thing I enjoyed was an audience members question regarding a couple of boys that were at her school. They often poked fun at her for being a feminist. Both Witten and Bourne, whilst being distressed that it was still possible that people refused to see the obvious inequality between genders, argued that sometimes it was better to look after yourself, than to fight. I think they are right- choosing your battles is just as important as fighting for what you believe in.  Bourne finished with the statement that 'you're a feminist- you are obviously kick arse'. I loved that.

She was so humble and incredibly funny. As I said, I finished her book this morning and I can now hear that in her writing. The signing was an absolute pleasure and I'm so glad that I went. The book is so so relatable too! Even more so than Am I Normal Yet! The whole divorce situation between her parents resonates so clearly for me. Especially the whole transferring of responsibility onto the children. It was awful and it made me feel very uncomfortable. And yet I didn't stop reading. The ending was my absolutely favourite and I hope to follow in Audrey's lead from now on. I don't wish to spoil anymore though.

If you haven't read it yet, hurry. It is well worth it and easily one of the best books I've come across this year!

Thank you Holly Bourne, for always making me feel a little bit more normal in the world.

Good night guys- have a lovely weekend!













Thursday, 12 October 2017

False nails are weird...

So yesterday evening I put some false nails.

Only a set that are a part of the Primark range- and I wasn't expecting much because they were so cheap. But I was pleasantly surprised. They looked really pretty once the glue had set (the glue was really weird though and had to be opened from the bottom! What's that all about!)! They were really easy to put on and my fingers looked so delicate and longer. So that was cool.

I was really happy until I decided I was hungry. So I've gone in the cupboard for some crisps and realised that my hands aren't used to these alien, unnatural extensions! I struggled with a bag of crisps. Then I struggled with picking the dog up. My hand felt like it was switching between non-existence and a state of fragility. It was not a nice feeling. In the end, I took the nails off in favour of some shorter ones, which I then forgot to buy.

A friend described me as a 'typical female' that worked at McDonalds- as soon as I got a holiday, I started doing my nails. I suppose he's right. But I repeat, they did look pretty.

That's all. I'll be back with something probably more serious than this, at some point this week.

Night all.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

'I am here'.

Okay, so this week featured World Suicide Prevention Day. I've mentioned before how much I love and appreciate days such as these. Any opportunity to erase or lessen the stigma surrounding mental heath and suicide is wonderful and will always be encouraged by me. I'm just really uncomfortable with how few days like this there are! Days like these make me feel very comfortable with myself, and the things I feel. I hate that the opportunities are so rare. I said the same thing when it was mental health awareness week but I'm going to say it again. It's as though there are these days and weeks throughout the year where it is more socially acceptable to admit that you're struggling with anxiety, depression, and similar conditions.

So this years theme was 'take a minute, change a life'. I thought this was lovely. It puts emphasis on the importance and significance of speaking up, and seeking help. But also on taking more time out to listen to people and support them. It kinda splits the role and I like that. Right from when I was younger and started to struggle with anxiety and self harm (the latter is more applicable to when I was younger), I have had some great people that have been prepared to sit and listen to me for hours if I needed it. I wouldn't have gotten through some pretty strange stages without them (that sounds lame, I know). And some of that advice has carried me through and improved my confidence now. I've said it before but I couldn't have imagined ever being this comfortable talking about things such as mental health. So I am very grateful to the few teachers that made time for me in high school, for my parents, a couple of friends and for Jennifer Niven. That support system was very much needed and integral to my own progress. So I cannot stress enough how important in general listening is. it is so important to make time for the people that you care about. But I'd say even more so with regard to mental health and suicide prevention in particular.

What I really wanted to write about tonight was being kind. I guess to yourself, and to other people. It seems daft to think that such small acts of kindness have the most impact on a person. But it is true, it's the little things. It's somebody checking on you to make sure if you're okay or somebody telling you to be careful on the way home or something. The odd smile whilst on a shift at work, or a brief hug. I don't know. It can be anything. But I know that other people can help and listening is a good thing.

I know that reaching out and asking for help is so so scary. It feels like admitting a weakness. I think it can sometimes come with the same shame that crying in public does. But there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. It is far easier to say that you are 'okay' when things are falling apart. But it is so so important to reach out and ask for help if you need it, and it is okay to need it. It is okay to be falling apart. It's not the best or more desirable feeling in the world. And yet it happens. I know that it's entirely possible to feel weak. But asking for help does not make you so. Reaching out is brave. Admitting you need help is brave. And yet on the flip side of things, it is entirely okay if you don't want to reach out and instead decide to curl up and stay in bed. Your preferred method of dealing with life is okay and nobody should judge you for it. But sometimes people can help.


I wanted to talk about being kind to yourself too. I suppose that there are some smaller things that you can do to be kind to yourself. You can do things for yourself and relax. That's something that gets overlooked I think. Okay, I get that it is really easy to get swept up in... life and that its easy to forget to care for yourself whilst being swept up in it. Things are busy. But seriously where's the harm in running a bath or watching a shitty dvd? There seems to be stigma attached to self love, sometimes. I am really confused by it, despite the fact that I don't practise loving myself enough and I know that. But nonetheless, it is important. I should take more baths and read more. Anyway, being kind to yourself is integral  and taking time out of your daily routine to do so is a good thing. I found this post not so long ago, on Instagram. I really like the concept of a person just needing themselves.

Something in particular that has been on my mind lately is the concept of letting things go. So I suppose that this can apply to not judging yourself or being too hard on yourself. I'm not saying being depressed, and feeling sad/anxious or staying in bed is necessarily the best thing. But I do think that it is okay, and it is important to cut yourself a bit of slack if you can. You are not letting yourself down by taking some time out or behaving in a way that seems reasonable to you. Sometimes you have to put yourself first and there is never a wrong time for that decision. So whether you are sad or not, try to either lessen or let go of the negativity that you aim at yourself. I guess what I am saying is that there is no good to be found in putting yourself second.

I guess that not being afraid of let go is really important. And letting go is a luxury I think I've been depriving myself of for too long. I hold on to too many feelings and emotions, surrounding myself and others. But I think I'm afraid of letting go of people too. I know that there are a few people that are still in my life that sometimes cause me a lot of unnecessary heartache. So why have I not walked away? I don't know. Because I have not yet mastered the art of just needing myself. I have convinced myself that I need this other person and maybe in some aspects I do. I know that I like having them around, and that I would miss them if they were gone. I don't know. Thinking too hard about letting go really hurts my head. Because what is the criteria for letting go? I think, although it is complicated, it is a good idea to let go of things that hurt. That do not help a person grow positively. I am having to learn, with the help of friends and family, that change is as good as the rest.

Long story short, what I am trying to say is make decisions surrounding you. Reach out to people if you think you need help. Reaching out, and wanting to be heard is not an act of cowardice. You are so brave for reaching out, or for not reaching out. You are brave for dealing with any form of mental health condition, I think. But at the same time its important to remember that it is okay to rely on people. And remember the small things like taking time out for yourself. It's important to remember the importance of things like chocolate, cookies and food. Sometimes, I think that even admitting you are not okay is an act of self love.

And god, please remember to be kind to others. Listen to them. Pay people compliments! I don't understand why compliments aren't given more. Be sensitive, is the last thing I want to say. Sometimes people are struggling more than they care to admit, and more than they are willing to show. Be mindful and be kind.

Okay, I'm going to end on probably the worst piece of advice. It gets better, no matter what. My favourite author shared a post on facebook this week about preferring 'I am here', over 'I was here' and I couldn't agree more. You're not alone.

I hope that you all sleep well and appreciate this post (I have been writing this thing for a whole week due to working). See you soon guys!




Monday, 4 September 2017

Small Victories (and a killer headache!)

Okay. I am back. I know that I said I would be pretty active after my last post. And honestly I did have every intention of practically living here. But I've been trying to keep my house clean, and I've been working six days a week since I last posted. It has been tough and tiring. I think I'm okay. Just very tired. I have my managers course next week and I am both excited and nervous.

But for now, I am curled up on the sofa under a fluffy blanket. I am having trouble sleeping again. I guess I should include a recap after my last post confessing my continued period of extreme sadness. There are good days and bad days for everyone, I suppose. There are some days that I can feel everything very separately and I can distinguish happy from sad. These are the good days. The bad days are the opposite. But this week is a good week. I’ve hung out with Chels, watched some films and tomorrow is my day off. I am finding that if I don’t think about how I’m feeling too much, then it is easier. I know that I will dip in and out of sad and anxious spells for a while, but I also know that it will always pass.

It's now midnight. Midnight used to be a lonely time, but it's nice having an empty house and watching television till whatever time I like in the morning. I am numbing my brain this evening with Sex and the City. It's an odd film.  Time passes incredibly quickly in this film and in all honesty, it's trash. But I can see why it might be comforting sometimes. Okay, moving on!

I've been following a bit of advice over the past month and not setting hard and fast rules for myself. I have got to say, it's easier. I've been putting less pressure on myself and that has helped so much. But I have taken some time out and my feelings have settled to the steady level that I am used to. Perhaps not always happy, but I am not currently occupying a void. I feel as though I can feel things right now, and okay sometimes I would like not to. But the alternative is kind of a weird numbness in which I feel everything at once. (Crazy, right?!) I would like to avoid that state of being that resembles a constant headache, thank you. But anyway, I think the most important thing is to remember to give yourself credit for even the little things. It's important to remember to reward to small victories. I went shopping this week and treated myself to some new clothes, underwear and other things. Why? Because I felt like it. It felt good to not question whether or not I deserved it.

So I guess that's what I am here to do today, discuss small victories a little bit.  Okay. What I really want to write about was some of the things that I liked about this month. I feel pretty good right now (with the exception of this killer headache. Seriously- ouch!). So lets make the most of that whilst it lasts.

Okay, here goes nothing:

In the month since my last post I have been running a couple of times. Running always helps and I would recommend physical exercise to anyone who is struggling with mental health or feeling negative. I've stopped running the same route too and have been wandering around the surrounding forest. The other day I went early, and sat on a hill half way through. Getting out of the house is good for a person. The other day, I ran in the rain. And I took my hood off. I ended up with a little bit of a cold afterwards and it looked like something out of a silly romantic movie. A tad pathetic. But I like the rain a lot and I've never ran through it before.

(why is this headache spreading down my face. help)

I finished a book! Reading has been really slow for me this year, despite buying and downloading books really regularly. But finishing a book was a small victory and it made me happy. I'm probably not going to hit my reading goal for this year, even though it's only September. But I'm gonna cut myself some slack- it has been a long year! I still have a bunch of University books to buy (and start my dissertation planning).

Okay, I am really uncomfortable with saying this. And I hate that I feel bad for saying it. But one of the things I am happy about this month is my waist line. I can't work out if I've lost weight or put it on. But I am okay with my figure right now and just 'okay' will do for me. Oh and I also dyed my hair myself for the first time. I am kind of proud of that. I feel pretty happy with myself. Which is strange. And I think I will always have the unhealthy habit of putting myself down, I think. I'm used to it. I don't know that either and I hate that this has become a pattern for me. But I'm working on it. I am not as down on myself right now as I usually am. In the spirit of self love, here is a dodgy picture of me that I actually quite like.

The point I've been trying to make is that I've been trying, and I'm not sure why I needed to write that. However, it felt good to acknowledge myself a little bit. There are still loads of things I need to work on- the whole not letting people walk all over me being pretty high on the list, still. But trying will always be enough. I wish somebody had told me this even six weeks ago. I'm never going to be prepared for the next little blast of those feelings. And of course I still get day to day anxiety. God knows when that will go away. But I am tyring to be kinder to myself, to be brave and force myself out of bed, and to smile.

But here goes nothing; the point of this strange post that is full of rambling is to say that I feel a little bit okay again. I feel awake, rather than sluggish and drunk-ish. Or I am starting to. And this feels good.

I've learnt also and realised a lot of things in the past month, and I have been writing lots in the drafts section. And my next post might be on loving people and things, and letting go. But I think the most important thing I've realised is that nothing is more important than myself. Not even the love of somebody else. I think it’s really hard to put yourself first, but I’m giving it a go! I wish more people, including myself, appreciated themselves more. Especially when feeling as utterly shit as I did a few weeks ago. Why don't we acknowledge getting dressed? Or going through the day without panicking? Eating three meals in a day? Or even just getting out of bed? Why are these not as big as achievements as running marathons or getting good grades, etc? Amidst the rambling, what I'm really trying to say is to remember to be kind to yourself. It helps, more than you'd think.


I'm going to leave you with this lovely tweet I saw the other day from Matt Haig. I really love his twitter. Right now, I kinda feel like an organised mess. But reading this, I was thinking about why I sometimes feel like a mess. Because I am anxious. Because I am stressed or tired. Because there is something on my mind. But these things are always going to be there. I am coming to the conclusion that perhaps I am too hard on myself. I am not saying you should praise yourself all the time, and be happy constantly. That is pretty impossible. However, I am saying that sometimes it is okay to be a mess and to recognise that there is something wrong. Reflection is a good thing. And so is mess.

I hope that you are all okay, and if you're not I hope that you know you will be soon.
I really am going to be around a lot over the next few days- I have so much to say!

Have a great day guys.

xx



Friday, 1 September 2017

Back to Hogwarts Day!

Happy September guys! It's been like a month since I was here and I am sorry! I'm going to post again tonight so I'll probably explain better here! But as it's back to Hogwarts day, and the start of the month in which I return to university, I thought it'd be fun to do a Harry Potter themed post! I cannot believe how fast this summer has gone. I haven't had many days off from work so summer has passed me by quite quickly. But I go back to university in 27 days and I am very happy (and anxious!).

So I decided I'd write some university tips (and nobody will probably read them but hey, I tried!) I remember how scary my first year was. I don't think it'll ever be easy to start university but it's beyond worth it.

Here goes nothing:

1. Always attend class: I miss class a couple every year due to working. There are always going to be valid excuses for missing the odd class. And yes, anxiety is a valid excuse. But if you can, try to go to as many classes as you can. It helps. I know you can find the notes online but nothing beats the extra information that your lecturers can provide.

2. Always be up to date with your reading (as best you can anyway!): I work full time alongside my degree. So I find it hard, despite my best efforts to complete all of the reading on time. But I do 90% of it. Nobody is ever going to recommend a text to you that you don't need. Everything that is suggested is there to help.

3. Make use of the university resources: Sometimes you will have to buy books because your university might not have them. But sometimes, the library can be damn helpful and it saves you some money.

4. Accept the inevitable fate that you will cry. And you will panic; probably. I mean I imagine some people get through uni stress free. But I find it hard. I panic a lot, and I fear failure. And I know plenty of other people that are prone to such things. It's really important to reach out and ask for help. From friends, family, university counselling system, and even your lecturers sometimes. Everyone will want to help in some way. But please, don't put yourself down for panicking. It's normal and its fine. You can do it. It just means that you care- which is a good thing!

5. Use your lecturers. If you need help, ask. I didn't go to my lecturers for anything in my first year. By the time second year rolled around, I practically lived in the office. One of my lecturers started referring to me as 'Jane Austen', because I was in there so much and had a huge love for Austen. Other times he'd simply greet me with 'oh, not you again'. But I wasn't afraid to ask for help anymore. The English Department at my university is probably the most supportive and helpful departments I could have had behind me. I am very lucky to have them to work with. However, I know that visiting your lecturers are scary. But even the scariest of lecturers aren't that bad. Once, my lecturer wrote that she had 'expected better' from me, on the bottom of my assignment. I was terrified. But I went to see her, and she put my mind at rest. They are there to help, and it's very unlikely they will ever send you away.

5. The people that tell you uni is easy? they're liars. But I am a firm believer that anything that is worth having, will never come easily. It is well worth the work. Nothing is more satisfying to me than seeing the sleepless nights, and the temper tantrums I throw, pay off in the form of a half decent grade.

6. Take one essay at a time. It is so easy to get swept up in everything that goes on at university all at once. Sometimes it helps to take one step at a time, and try to keep a clear head.

7. Work. I don't know what to suggest with this point. I recommend part time work, I think. If you absolutely have to. But I worked full time throughout my second year and it is hard. Unless you absolutely have to. I'm going to start my first few weeks of my final year on six shifts a week, and as much as I like a challenge I also appreciate sleep. Your physical and mental health must come first. Otherwise everything becomes ten times harder. You are so much more important than working yourself silly in whatever capacity this may be.

8. Try your best. This is all anybody can ever ask of you. You simply cannot do anymore and it will always be good enough. Don't ever let anyone tell you any different. Be proud of yourself, as long as you worked hard.

9. And finally, try and enjoy yourself. It's meant a be good few years and a chance for you to make some good friends. I can honestly say I have enjoyed my first two years, and I have high hopes for the final one.

Right, I'll return with another post either tonight or tomorrow morning! I hope you're all well!

Good night!