Tuesday, 7 January 2020

And Now I Am 23...

Me on New Year's Eve!

Today is my birthday. I am 23 today.

I don't particularly like birthdays. If I had a summer birthday, I would probably like it more. But being born a week after New Year's Day means that I often do my reflecting and make resolutions on my birthday instead.

So, the 7th of January has become my official start of the New Year. When reflecting on the previous year of my life, I normally think about the things I haven't done rather than what I have done. 

I haven't published a book yet. 

Or even finished writing one yet. 

I haven't got lots of money in the bank. 

I haven't become that successful person I envision myself as.

This year is especially hard for a couple of personal reasons. It would be really, really easy for me to slip into that depressive state like I do every year. The state I end up regretting every year.

So instead, I'm changing my tradition. Today, on my 23rd birthday, I am going to think about all of the things I have done over the past year:

  1. Went to therapy and actually got something out of it
  2. Went to a creative writing group and did my first ever poetry reading
  3. Took my first solo trip and had a great time in Paris
  4. Started my Masters degree
  5. Got a job at Waterstones (and I'm being kept on this time!)

This exact time a year ago, I never would have imagined that I would be this mentally strong (thanks, therapy!), this responsible for my own thoughts and feelings, and this settled in life. I have a schedule again, goals to work towards, and I am learning new things about the world every day. 

So, in honour of my New Year, here are my resolutions:

  1. Travel
  2. Continue to heal from the wounds that 2019 left
  3. Be fiercely grateful for the good things in life, however small
  4. Be loving to myself and others

Now, I'm off to go and watch Six the Musical! Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Ways to use Amazon less this Christmas!

I have made a pledge this Christmas to NOT order anything from Amazon.

I know what you're saying...


I thought that too. Over the years, I have relied heavily on Amazon to provide me with presents for friends and family over various Christmastimes and birthdays. But I wanted to try to use the site less - you know, because of the whole not-paying-their-taxes and poor-working-conditions thing. 

I have bought around half of my Christmas presents, and have not used Amazon for a single purchase. How did I do that? Well, here are my tips for an Amazon-free Christmas:

1. Use your local high street 

Our high streets are dying, and we are the only ones who can save them. There are brilliant cheap stores such as Home Bargains, B&M, Primark, H&M, New Look, and so many more which stock some brilliant items for Christmas gifts. You don't have to go to the expensive stores when you go to the high street! Pick a few cheap stores and have a look around before considering buying the same things from Amazon... you'll be surprised how much you can get.

Here is a video from The Geordie Grandma showing you how to fill a stocking on a budget:

2. Support smaller companies

I'm guilty of wanting to buy big brands for myself and other people. One of the biggest appeals of Amazon is that you can get brand name items, like technology and clothes, for a cheaper price tag. However, by pledging to support even just one smaller company or creator, you can do a lot of good!

This year, I'm supporting a great vlogger and teen mum Mia Jeal by buying a piece of her merch. I've been watching her for a few months, and all of the money goes towards supporting her and her adorable baby Mabel. The £20 from her t-shirt means a lot more to her than £20 would to a massive company like Amazon.

3. Buy from and donate to charity shops

Charity shops are not just full of used items from someone's attic. Most charity chops nowadays have brand new items as well as lots of clothes and toys in great condition that other people have donated. There is a real mix of stuff, and you'll be amazed at how much you can pick up. Plus, the items will be a fraction of the price compared to Amazon!

Whilst you're at it, maybe think about donating a few items to one of your local shops, whether that be something you've had in your house collecting dust, or a brand new toy if you have a bit of money left in your budget. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Even if you can't promise to completely forget about Amazon, buying a just a few things elsewhere can really make all the difference. 

Leave a comment if you're pledging to ditch Amazon this Christmas!

Thursday, 10 October 2019

My Year in Breakdowns

Around this time last year, I got my perfect job as a bookseller in Waterstones. I was fully aware that it was only a seasonal position, but I wasn't prepared for my reaction to being let go at the end of January. 

I have struggled with my mental health since I was a teenager, and have been on medication since I was 17. So, as you can imagine, I've had a few breakdowns before. 

This one was different.

I lost all sense of purpose in my life. I had graduated university a few months before, and after deciding to take a year out to work, I was left without any schedule or tasks to complete. I applied to multiple jobs, and all either rejected me or didn't reply at all. 

Then, something scarier happened.

My OCD evolved. 

My obsessions have always been easy to track. Work, school, the number 4, and a few other things. But suddenly, without any warning, my brain began to worry about my physical health.

I was convinced I was dying.

For anyone who has OCD, you will know what I mean when I say this thought consumed every waking moment of my day, to the point where I couldn't even bear to get dressed because I would be scared to look at my body in case I found something that shouldn't be there.

This, added on to my usual daily obsessions, destroyed my life.

The only thing I wanted to do was to pack a bag, get on a plane, and never come back. 


Seeing me struggle, my mum knew we needed to take action. I have had therapy on the NHS before - and though I adore our national health service - it was not a success. I had to wait 6 months or more even for a phone call assessment, and I knew I couldn't wait that long.

Then, my mum had an idea. She knew about this women's centre in our city that offers counselling, so I emailed them with my story. The next morning, they replied with an appointment for the next day, and after meeting my therapist she scheduled 12 weeks of sessions, and suggested since I was into writing that I join the women's creative writing group.

This women's centre changed my life.

Every week, I had a schedule! Creative writing on Wednesdays, and therapy on Thursdays. I was still applying to jobs, but slowly the interview offers starting coming in, and slowly the need I felt to run away and jump on a plane subsided. The women in the creative writing group were of all ages (from 30 to 80!) and even though I was the youngest, I felt so lucky to be there and listen to the lives of all those wonderful women. We even had a real lecturer from one of the city's universities teaching us. 

In this 12 weeks, I applied and got into my Masters degree, got a new job, wrote thousands of words, did my first public poetry reading, and made friends from all walks of life.

I still have bad days. I still wonder what if I had got on that plane? even just for a split second. 

But I don't want to run away anymore. I want to run towards all of the opportunities that I have been so grateful to receive. 

My mental illness does not control me. With the help of therapy, new medication, and my family, I am able to control my mental illness in a way I never thought possible at the start of the year. 

And you will be able to do the same. I promise. If you are struggling, reach out, because you never know who is there to help until you search for them. 

My name is Hannah, and I have anxiety, depression, and OCD. 

My name is Hannah, and I am a Masters student, writer, daughter, sister, and girlfriend.

I am not defined by my breakdowns.