Working 9 to 5: things Dolly Parton never mentioned

General, Mental Health

Good morning, friends!

Wow, it’s been a wild three weeks. Turns out that vet school doesn’t leave much (any) free time for doing things that are fun, like writing blog posts or sleeping. 

After speaking to various family members in a panic about my lack of time for myself/ exercise/ relaxation –  things that are very important to me as a highly-strung kind of person – the overwhelming opinion was that I need to

make time.

I shit you not! 

City of light (prose)

General

So this is it. Welcome home. Welcome to your new life. Welcome to the unknown.


The thing is, you packed your bags and left the country and said your goodbyes, but you didn’t really think about what you were doing. Where you were going. It was just another  link in the chain of events that string your life together. Just another brick in the wall.

But you got here, you made it and it was busy, so busy and yes it was strange but it was good strange, not bad strange, and you fit into the city like you fit into most places; without a struggle. This is home but not yet home. It’s home in the future, not the present.

Cities and strange places and strange coffee and strangers asking you all kinds of strange questions that you don’t understand and strange roads with strange drivers that come at you from the wrong side. A mistake, maybe?

Sounds you’re not used to – the last trams rattling through the city, car alarms in the night, children playing in the park. Car horns beeping all day long. Cigarette smoke and the smell of fresh bread.

And then – clean streets, lined with trees. Sipping coffee and cocktails in the rain. Dogs barking in the park, children playing. Interesting cafes and corners and nooks to explore. New spaces to discover. A bookshelf stacked high, a cake-stand to admire. My legs are getting stronger, day by day. I pace the wide streets of what I am beginning to think of as “my” city.

A home that wasn’t mine but is now, a bed that wasn’t mine but is now, a desk that wasn’t mine but is now. My photographs on the walls. My food in the cupboard. My washing on the line, my neighbours to observe. Space I am slowly fitting in to.

My life, stretched thin, seen through the looking glass. Dismal days of rain and work followed by sun upon sun upon sun. A vase full of sunflowers in my bedroom, like always.

I sit and draw, or I write, and let these golden days and final rays of summer sun flow through me. I try and think of the future, about how valuable these precious moments are, seconds before the scale tips once more and again, I’ll be learning. Striving. Academic pressure and all that comes with it. Change is good. Stasis is safe. How to choose?

A strange city, indeed, full of strange versions of myself that I can see only vaguely as manifest through the years.

Out with the old, in with the new. Sunflowers, like always. But growing, and rising, too.

C x

Flight mode: types of people at the airport and my travel tips 📦

travel

Travelling is, of course, the epitome of “fun.” Plane rides are meant to be exciting news for you, an experience of relaxation and enjoyment with the knowledge that for six or seven hours, you are expected to do no more than lie back and r e l a x.

Have you EVER tried to relax whilst someone in the seat in front of you has laid themselves almost horizontally in your lap? Or the person next to you is overly-ambitious with their allocated armrest space? Or the relentless pinging of the loudspeaker system telling you that the seatbelt signs are now ON…. no wait! They’re off again! And on again! And off again! Just as you’re starting to drift off, neck cricked at an unnatural angle and legs crammed into the footwell, then BAM, it’s the snacks trolley, and you can’t sleep through THAT. 

I do NOT, in any way, shape or form, find travelling “relaxing.” Airports suck, I always get spots and everything seems to be covered in a weird filmy haze of sleep deprivation and general confusion.

Want to buy a designer handbag? A suitcase??? (Who buys their luggage AT THE AIRPORT?) a special panini offer at 4am??

Also, the people in airports really freak me out. It’s like there’s this dividing line between those going Full Glam and those going Major Sloth.

Now, Full Glam individuals are easily identified by their thick make-up (to cover the dark circles and aforementioned airport spots), and usually high heels as well. They have their hair majestically twisted into ringlets or ironed straight, for that really casual, just-rolled-out-of-bed look. These people are usually smug, and should not be approached under any circumstances.

And then there’s the rest of us. The Major Sloth parade.

The bleary-eyed, deathly pale troops that have rolled out of bed at 2 in the bloody morning to get on this crappy plane when in reality, we wish we could just teleport. There’ll be a high percentage of pyjama tops and no bras, a stained sweatshirt and a hastily-packed rucksack. Some of us may have put mascara on in an attempt to go Full Glam, but it just makes us look like pandas, and smears unattractively in our undereye creases.

Anyway, I’m sat in an airport right now, so I thought I’d share with you my tips for lessening this pain 

1. ALWAYS PACK A HAIRBRUSH. I REPEAT: ALWAYS PACK A HAIRBRUSH. Honestly if your hair is tangle-free, your trip is likely to follow suit. 

2. DON’T! Forget your headphones. Listening to the churning noise of the aeroplane engine is A. Boring and B. always makes me feel nauseous for some reason. Oh, and C. It’ll drown out the voices of the screaming kids/ snoring men around you. But don’t forget to remove them so you can ask the flight attendant for a large g&t.

3. Get as much sleep as you can the night before, if you have to get up early to catch your flight. If you can get 4 hours, you’ll probably be okay. Any less than that, and you’ll be bursting into tears when the check-in lady tells you to enjoy your trip.

I know that this is a hard one, but it IS do-able! E.g the day before I had to get up at 2am, I got up early so I would be tired and fall asleep earlier, and exercised during the day. Thus, by 9pm, I was all ready for bed!

Even if you don’t sleep on the plane, you can still try close your eyes and let your body rest, even if your mind doesn’t :). I find this comforting! 

4.  Starbucks is your friend. You need SUGAR. I don’t care if you’re on a diet, the only way you’re going to function is by ordering a large mocha-frappalappacino with extra vanilla syrup. It’s positively REVITALISING.* **

* But don’t overdo it on the caffeine, otherwise you’ll end up with, like, heat palpitations and stuff, and that’s not cool.

** ALSO don’t forget that healthy sh*t has sugar in it, too. So you can fuel up on orange juice or grapes or something. If you like. 🍋

5. I’m gonna say it – don’t eat too much! It’s so tempting to cronch cronch the entire time you’re travelling, just for something to do, but if you go overboard with it, you’ll just feel sluggy and bloated. May I recommend that you graze on light snacks, rather than a roast dinner, if you’ve got a long and arduous journey ahead of you?

My airport time is when I like to try out new snax, usually. That and BAKED GOODS. Mmm.

Anyway, whether you’re a Full Glam individual with sass and time to spare, or a Major Sloth who just wants a soft blankie and to lay down for a while, I got u. 

I feel your pain.

But the journey is only a small part of the trip, and you can recover usually after one night’s rest.

Those are my thoughts, written from Amsterdam Airport. I’ve already been travelling for 7 hours and I’m feeling pretty groggy.

However – adventure awaits!

^^^ This is a really nice playlist and includes a few songs about travelling! I’d recommend it for your journey 🙂

Love and nasty aeroplane coffee,

Cam

Boofs and Borks – My Life At The Kennels!

Animalz, Uncategorized

Ey-Up, pals. (As we say in Yorkshire).

Seeing as I’m only working two more days at my job in a kennels near my home, I thought I’d share with you some of my experiences.

First of all, this. 

 

This is how the noise of  that many dogs boofing and borking hits you at 8am every morning. That, and, well, the smell of them.

Overwhelmed, you stumble in and squint at the schedule. (It’s 8am. I am NEVER in a good mood.)

Whoever’s due to go home that day needs to be put out first. Right. You make your way down the parallel line of kennels, down the corridor until you find the right dog, trying to read your boss’ writing.

“Ah. There you are… Brick? That can’t be your actual name, can it?” Whatever. You take the dog out and hope for the best. (Turns out he’s actually called Butch.)

We have four outside fields at work, so that four dogs can be let out at one time. This means that we work in patterns of four – four kennels get cleaned in one fell swoop.

On that note – 

I mean, does anyone really like dog poo? 

Sorry, I had to say it.

I’m totally un-squeamish, having spent much of my life up to my ankles in horse/ dog/ monkey/ elephant, uh, dung. Clothes/ shoes/ person can be washed, no biggie.

But even I have to say, I have succumbed to the occasional retch at the stench coming from over fifty dogs left snoozing overnight, some with better control over their bowels than others.

Image result for dog poo funny

After all, you are there to look after the animals, you remind yourself, as you stare dismally into the brown river snaking its way under your feet. You wonder if insurance or advertising or something generally less hard on the nostrils would have been a better career choice.

Just… breathe through your mouth or something. Get rid of it… pronto…

And it’s worth it, it really is, when you bring the dog in and it looks better in a nice clean kennel, in it’s fresh bed, with breakfast and a new bowl of water on the side. It makes the dog happy! 

IMG_1217

My pal, doin a smile for me! 11/10 good boy. 

They’ll have a quick perimeter check of their room and then come back to you, hoping for a quick ear scritch-scrotch before you move on. “Thanks for tidying my room, mom!” 

Therefore, it’s worth doing just for that. You stroke their silky heads and floppy ears and smile a bit, revelling in the feeling of having done something for another living creature that has contributed to the mental and physical wellbeing of that animal. 

 

 

 

So you stifle your yawns and wipe the sweat off of your temples and drag/ try and cling on to four dogs per block, your arms feel like they’re halfway out of their sockets and then you pick up two full buckets and try and tell yourself that no-one in the history of ever has had their arms fall off from lifting heavy things so just stop being a big baby, okay?

You throw down the water, you clean the kennel, you put the bed in, you fill up the water, you bring the dog back and swap it for another eager face who’s nose is poking out of the kennel front, wanting sO BADLY to be next because they just can’t hold in that pee any longer.

There was this lovely Labrador we had in, who was so high-energy and crazy and so desperate to go out: but he was well-trained enough that he would hold his pee until he had one paw out the door and then, about two feet from the nice grass, he would relieve himself with a sign and an ingratiating grin. Sorry mum, I didn’t want to pee in my room,  but I just couldn’t wait! 

A* for effort there, lil man.

It might not make the front pages of a national newspaper, but seeing my doggos and kittens (read: mostly chubby, grumpy old cats) happy and loved and looked-after (and yes, I think of them as “mine”, now) whilst their owners are away, makes me so happy I could burst.

Looking after animals is what makes me feel joy. I genuinely believe that it’s my life’s purpose.

But in the same way, working with animals isn’t for the faint-hearted.

It’s messy and smelly and high-pressure. If you mess up, the animal takes the toll of that, and that’s not fair.

You work so hard, and it’s not for yourself but for them. And you’ll try every day, to work harder, to give them a little bit more of your time and attention. Because they’re nothing but good, and you want to do everything you can for them.

You don’t change the world by taking care of animals, not always. It’s not all rhinos and elephants and “cool” stuff, though that’s often what is advertised. Sometimes it’s poop-scoopin’ and feeding and making sure the animals in your care are happy.

And that, to me, is enough.

Animals are – so good. 🙂

IMG_1086.jpg

This is my favourite dog from the kennels. Shh, don’t tell the others! She’s a real cloud and so gentle and kind. 

 

Love and lots of boofs and borks,

Cam

 

 

 

Accessible Anthropology

anthropology

Good morning, pals. I haven’t posted in a  while – but I’m getting there. Trying to make a habit of it I guess!

Today I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned the last 3 years with you, during my time studying at Durham.

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Sassy grad smile 😀 

I picked anthropology as my degree, mostly because it was fairly close to the top of the list of subjects available. (I’m only sort of joking.) Anyway, I had no idea what it was, and it looked interesting.

Anthropology, as a discipline, is recognised and categorised into four main branches:

  • Socio-cultural 
  • Biological or physical 
  • Archaeological 
  • Linguistic 

Now, I don’t want to get into the nuances of each field, right here, right now. I’m only going to focus on one topic.

My degree is in biological anthropologyBiological anthropology focuses mostly on:

Primatology:

Image result for brachiation

and Paleoanthropology.

Image result for human evolution

 

In my first year I was taught by a wonderful woman named Trudi. Trudi was pretty crazy, but provided the best possible introduction to a subject I previously knew next to nothing about.

Wearing a smock, she’d waltz into the lecture theatre and transport us almost immediately into a world full of bones and unsolved mysteries. She introduced us to the subject thus: 

Seven million years ago, the line between primatology and paleoanthropology becomes, well, slightly blurred.

What is a primate? 

Aside from being #mymates (sorry), primates are what we know as monkeys and apes.

What is paleoanthropology?

Paleoanthropology is slightly more tricky. If we take “paleo” to mean “old”, and “anthropology” to mean “human”, then we get, well, “old humans.” And that’s basically what it is. Looking at how and why and when humans developed from primates.

Having established this, biological anthropology suddenly becomes a frighteningly broad area of study. It’s primates and evolution and a story with barely any answers.

Who am I? You ask, and I really can’t tell you. 

Perhaps you swung from the trees with Orrorin, 6 million years ago.

Perhaps you cracked nuts with Paranthropus, whilst Lucy sat nearby and made her tools.

Maybe you painted cave art with the Neanderthals in France, or made spears with Homo heidelbergensis in Germany.

It’s just…. we don’t know.

And that’s what makes the subject so fascinating!

In this series of short writings entitled “Accessible anthropology”, I’ll be explaining our evolutionary history as best I can. It’ll probably be horrendously biased and unfactual at points, but I’ll try to make it as interesting as I can.

Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t need to “make” it interesting. It already is!

Imagine thinking you only had one relative and then…discovering an entire, crazy family.

For better or for worse, we’re in this together.

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I have Australopithecus afarensis tattooed on me. 

Love and skeletons,

Cam

It Aint Easy… Bein Wheezy (please someone relate to me dear god)

fitness, General

Yes, you read that right.

No, I’m not trying to be funny, I’m actually Having An Issue.

Imagine being into exercise, just for a bit, right? Like, you’re really enjoying it, pootling along nicely, pushing yourself and feeling GOOD about yourself (it’s about TIME, y’all).

(I’m actually eating brownies as I write this so no I am not life goals yet.)

But then imagine your lungs just, like, not working? Filling up with phlegm instead?*

*(I didn’t say this wouldn’t be overly-graphic and gross.)

The problem 

As you’ve probably guessed from my many, many rants about this, I am asthmatic. I have been an inhaler-sucking, wheezy and incapable individual for, well, as long as I can remember. I don’t particularly mind having asthma – I’m used to it by now – but it can be so ANNOYING.

(E.g. when I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without stopping at the top to catch my breath.)

(OR MAYBE HAVING TO PAY FOR 4 DIFFERENT PRESCRIPTIONS JUST TO KEEP MY AIRWAYS OPEN.)

Anywayyyy *collects self*,  um, asthma is an inflammatory condition which affects a person’s airways.

In short, when I try to breathe, my lungs flip out and all the little tubes inside of them, start to swell up (see pic below).

bronchiole.gif

Do I need to caption this? Really? 

This has the knock-on effect of making it harder and harder to breathe. 

Currently, there isn’t a cure for asthma, but there are medications you can take, which essentially force the airways to relax, making it easier to breathe again.

Now, there are different things that can trigger this tightening of the airways. The NHS (link at the end of this article), clearly defines the most common triggers. But more simply, asthmatic conditions are usually the result of either:

  • allergies, or
  • exercise.

I am an allergic asthmatic, which basically means that whenever I breathe air, my lungs find something to complain about. (Seriously, ask my housemates. They’re all like Cam, how do u even function? Answer: I DON’T KNOW.)

Haha.

Cool.

Right?

IN THEORY, I shouldn’t be affected by exercise.

Sooo… why can’t I run 5k (AKA the shortest distance you can run properly), without sounding like a dyING GOAT? 

I swear to you, I pinky promise (and we all know that’s serious business), that I am fit, and active, and train different parts of my body/ muscle groups on rotation.

I am CONVINCED that my LUNGS are the PROBLEM, HERE. *Scowls at chest*. 

Asthma-Attack-Cartoon-Funny-Image.jpg

The solution ? 

Ummm… as yet, I don’t really have one.

I do set my breathing to my pace, from the minute I start running (breathe in for 2 strides, out for 2 strides).

I do warm up before setting off, as that kind of primes the lungs.

I do breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth (I have read that this is the best way to get nice, moist air into my lungs. Ew.)

And god knows, that I really don’t run fast.

Any advice, or sympathetic experiences, or exercises I can do to help would be much, much appreciated. 

I know it’s not really that bad, and I wrote this dramatically because, well, it’s more fun to write that way.

But it’s really disheartening when you want to make progress and you just… can’t find a way through. 

Running is my exercise-prozac. It’s my empowerment. I’d love to be able to call myself a runner one day.

Here’s hoping that maybe we (the asthmatics), can figure something out?

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 17.41.39.png

me, taking pics of my self for the ‘gram, even tho I’m being nebulised. maybe i should review my priorities? 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/   

( ^^ link to NHS page on asthma).

Love and wheezes,

(and I apologise for my ranting)

Cam

A busy day – is it a happy day?

fitness, Mental Health

This post has been brewing for a while now, so I finally decided to A) finish it and B) publish it. You might not agree with me, or understand where I’m coming from with this one, so bear with me!

If anyone has ever read any of the Just William books by Richmal Crompton, you might recall one chapter when William receives a birthday card with the immortal inscription: “a busy day, is a happy day.” Of course, the young boy thinks it’s rubbish, but it popped into my head as I was writing this and I thought maybe it has a ring of truth after all.

—————————————————————————————————————————————

In the weeks before I left university, I felt the first twinges of panic begin to curdle in my stomach. Leaving Durham. Going home. Having no structure, no waves of routine to tide me along. See, I am a creature of habit. I cling to what I know like a barnacle to a rock. As I mentioned in my last post, even when it comes to food I tend to follow the same general pattern.

(I’m aware that this makes me sound super boring and I swear I am not allergic to spontaneity or fun or anything BUT -)

The problem is, when I have nothing to do, I tend to slump into depression, or into a high state of anxiety. Looking at the empty days stretched out endlessly ahead is like staring directly into the abyss – how on earth am I meant to get through all those days, stuck inside my own head with nothing but my own dark thoughts for company? And with my impending move to Croatia on the horizon, looming threateningly in the distance, I have become almost frantic. I! Must! Distract! Myself!

Stillness and stability seem like the worst thing that could possibly happen to me right now. I try not to even have a moment alone with my thoughts, to the point where I’ll listen to an audiobook to fall asleep to, or always having the radio on in the car.

My anxiety is, like, through the roof right now. But I know that all I’m doing, by giving myself so many tasks, is fuelling it! 😨

I don’t know if wanting to avoid your thoughts, and the fear of the feelings that you know are waiting for a chance to creep in, is normal? 

I feel like a piece of thread, ducking and diving through life trying to avoid the inevitable tangle that I know full well is waiting at the end.

Please, don’t think I’m not trying to change this. I know that by, essentially avoiding the problem, it’s going to bite me in the ass eventually. But, and imagine me saying this like a petulant child, I just don’t WANT to. Who wants to actually sit and think about how depressed they are and then try to combat every single thought, like a game of mental whack-a-mole? NOT ME. It’s exhausting!

Maybe you think I’m crackers, at this point. What kind of weirdo is afraid of relaxing?

Yup, it’s me.

Stasis = negative thoughts. So in my lil brain, clearly somewhere along the line I have gone yup, well, the most logical answer to that is to NEVER RELAX.

Things I do to try and help myself 

  • Exercise – not only is it just good for you in general, but the endorphins released are a natural antidepressant, which boosts mood, and the physical strain forces you to relax afterwards.
  • Eating well – I’ve been trying to FUEL MY DAY with like, fruit and shit. Healthy body = healthy mind
  • Yoga – I don’t think meditation is a good idea for me just yet, as I think I need to calm myself down more generally before tackling something I know, right now, I’ll just give up on. So I’m approaching the whole thing slowly, by doing yoga videos (I like Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube!), where I can re-introduce the idea of mindfulness and peace, whilst doing something active.

Alternatively, this Could Just Be Me. I personally hate sitting on my ass all day anyway. But I think because I am so freaked out by the potential for a depression slump in the wake of this “free time”, I have gone into WARP SPEED over the whole issue.

If anyone reading this has any tips or advice, or similar experiences you might have had, please let me know your thoughts!

Love,

Cam

Things my therapist taught me

Mental Health

I am sat on a train and I just realised that it’s my SIX YEAR anniversary of recovery from anorexia!!! Yeah, baby!! In recognition of this, I want to tell you about the woman who changed it all.

 

My therapist is kind of my life idol. She was ACE. I met her when I was sixteen years old – broken, desperate, in complete despair with myself and my situation.  Even then, I realised, here was a force to be reckoned with.

The first time I met her, I got on the scales and she looked at me and just said: “why have you done this?”

And for the first time, I realised, I didn’t really know.

She had this dyed orange-y, fire-y hair that was long and bright, and wore kind of boho-y clothes that looked liked they’d been snatched up at some market in an exciting, exotic country that she’d just finished visiting. She’d swish into her office with a mug of peppermint tea, or a bottle of Lipton’s ice tea, and say “right! Let’s get this over with!” and point to the scale for my weekly weigh-in (I never looked at the numbers). Some days she’d scowl at the number, and grimly mark the chart with a red pen, and some days she’d be pleased, and congratulate me on what I can only presume was my increasing weight.

 

A vegetarian for twenty years, she said she’d given it up recently in order to save her health, as she had an autoimmune disease and trying to stay healthy on all fronts was just a bit too much. But, as she said, she’d done her bit, which is more than most people do in a lifetime. That was seriously refreshing to hear. A chilled-out attitude to food, to life in general. No pressure to be, or to live a certain way. Just to be yourself.

 

Some days I’d fade pale-ly into her office and just sit there, staring at my hands, feeling numb, nothing, nada. I’d get on the scales and they’d reflect how I was feeling – empty. Sometimes she’d sigh and chastise me, on the days when she thought I needed tough love, and some days she’d let me talk about something else, or show me pictures of her two cats, and I’d feel relieved that today I didn’t have to dredge up how lonely and lost I was feeling, how much I just wanted to vanish into nothing.

She was herself with me, not like I was a student and she was the teacher, more like she was my concerned older friend who knew exactly how I was feeling. She was funny and smart and kind to me, even when I was being completely unreasonable. She made it seem so simple. Like, how did I not understand that this wasn’t the answer?

 

For example, I’d say, “I do not want to eat because I’ll get fat.”

And she’d say: “why do you think eating will make you fat?”

“Because I’ll lose control and spiral”

“But if I weigh you every week, and you eat what’s on the meal plan, how will that happen?”

“It just will!” This was my petulant mantra.

We had this conversation All. The. Time. After a while, I realised how dumb I sounded. Of course I wouldn’t lose control. I was in her hands, and as long as I stuck to the plan my weight would go neither up nor down, for as long as I needed to get my head straight. It was safe. I was safe. But putting your trust in someone else is hard, and she understood that.

 

Or –

 

“Why do you want to be thin? Why does that matter?”

“Because it just does. Then I’ll be pretty, and people will like me.”

I remember her pulling an exasperated face in response to this, every time. “But”, she said, “I think I’m pretty, and I have friends, and I’m not thin.”

I didn’t really have an answer to that. Maybe it was just me that thought that was the way I needed to be, to achieve everything I had in mind.

 

I learnt pretty quickly that the problem really wasn’t the food, or even the eating of it. It was the other stuff, the issues that had caused my anorexia in the first place, that needed sorting more than anything. So sometimes, for weeks on end, food wasn’t mentioned at all, perhaps. Instead, we talked about school, my friends, my family, my genes, and tried to untangle my cerebral cortex, which had seemingly tied itself in a knot.

 

Like a kitten playing with a ball of string, we batted issues back and forth, played with them, chucked them around a bit. And slowly, like the playful kitten, I grew and learned and rationalised, and finally understood that my tangle of yarn was just a thread, that with patience and kindness, could be untangled.

 

The way I see my own situation, looking back, is that it was a divergent, twofold path. Down one road was the actual, literal disordered eating, and down the other, were the causal factors.

 

The disordered eating, to some extent, mattered less whilst we looked and understood the issues surrounding the subject. We put it on hold by agreeing a 4kg bandwith of average weight I could bounce about it, whilst following my meal plan. It kept my weight high enough to stop me being admitted to hospital, but low enough that I wasn’t freaked out. I came to trust this plan, and to cling to it tightly for almost two years following the start of my therapy.

 

(This is what it looked like:

 

AM: 2 slices of toast with butter and honey.

Snack: flapjack 150 cals. Smoothie 100 cals.

Lunch: Cheese sandwich. 2 slices of Soreen (malt loaf) with butter. One piece of fruit.

Snack: 200 cals (usually Belvita biscuits)

PM: 500 cals of dinner.

Snack: 200 cals of pudding, usually a slice of cake or a yoghurt.

 

By the way, I still kind of mindlessly stick to this routine. I think I did it for long enough that it’s sort of ingrained in me now! I like my #snacks tho)

 

Tackling food fears is easier than you might think. You just have to eat the damn food. And see that nothing bad happens when you do. Understand how much better you feel, how it helps you. Prove to yourself with every bite that this isn’t wrong, it’s something so simple you don’t even have to think about it. That’s not to say it isn’t difficult. Even now, I hate eating big meals in the middle of the day, as it throws me off for the rest of the afternoon. I don’t like crisps because they’re oily and salty, and therefore equated with “bad.” It’s a dance – one step forwards, two steps back. Maybe this week I realise that I have depression, and that’s why I starve myself, but with that realisation comes self-punishment, and I decide I won’t eat my morning snack any more. How is that rational? (Hint, it isn’t). Or maybe I manage to go out for a coffee, in public, but something at school hurts me badly.

 

I could never be an eating disorder therapist because damn, it’s hard to argue with someone that’s convinced that peanut butter is the end of the world and that because they ate a sandwich made of crust pieces on Tuesday (which are bigger than normal pieces and therefore more calorific), that they shouldn’t eat dinner on Saturday.

 

My therapist showed me how stupid the whole premise was. So what, something has happened at home that has made me upset, so I’m going to declare war on salad? That’s just crazy. Why not just sort the problem out instead, and carry on eating like normal?

 

Like dude, chill out. You did crappily on some homework aaaaand you’re dealing with it by doing sit-ups in the middle of the night? How on earth is that going to help? Talk to your teacher instead! Do it again! Take charge of your own happiness!

 

Okay, I’m nearly done. But here’s some of the things that I learned from her that I will never forget, that made me who I am today.

 

  • Be SELFISH! Stop living for other people, at their mercy. It’s your goddamn life.
  • Marks and Spencers do the best nibbles.
  • At the end of the day, calories are just…calories? As long as you get ENOUGH of them, per day, it really doesn’t matter what form they’re in.
  • If you like something, you can do it all the time… make it happen. For example, she religiously had a cold Lipton’s ice tea for breakfast, every day.
  • Write your thoughts down. It’ll clear your head, and you can learn a lot about yourself from it.
  • Exercise, who?
  • Friends and food are two of the most important things in your life.
  • There is ALWAYS, ALWAYS a solution.
  • Cats are fab.
  • If something sucks, or is toxic in your life, drop it like a hot potato. And then eat a hot potato to make yourself feel better.

 

One of her treatments for me actually included going out for lunch, so I could get used to eating in public (another big fear which we’ll tackle some other time). I think that’s hilarious, and kind of cool.

 

She went to Grey College, Durham, which is kind of why I picked it. I wanted to be as strong, as sassy, as rational as she was. She made me into this person full of life, who wanted to live, and I admired her so much for that, that I still try to emulate her, six years later.

 

So thank you, therapist, for sitting with me for hundreds of hours, for showing me true catharsis, and changing the path of my life forever.

 

(and thanks to my family for making me go in the first place!)

 

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Would I have been able to be a vet if I was still sick? nOpE! ps this is my dog i love him

Pride!

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Good evening, pals!

I am writing this post in a very unhappy state – namely, I feel like I am being punished for some unknown misdemeanour by being put in the seventh circle of hell, A.K.A the packed 6’o’clock train from London to York, which has no air conditioning and is full of people who just want to FIGHT with one another about this fact. Jeez Karen, can’t you just shut up and drink your complimentary bottle of water?


 

This weekend has been a special one. I went with my cousin, who is more like my younger sister, to PRIDE in London!

To those of you reading this who are like, “huh?”, pride is an enormous day of parades and celebration through the centre of London (and many other cities have them too!) in which LGBTQ+ individuals can celebrate their way of life, be it their gender, sexuality, sex, and many other things in that category.

Now, you might notice I am being careful with my wording (something that’s rare for me). This is because I do not identify with any of the aforementioned categories. I went along to show support for all those who do identify in this way, and to join in the celebration of the wonderful diversity and uniqueness of the individuals that make up the world we live in!

Phew. I really hope that wasn’t offensive in any way! It wasn’t meant to be at all.

The LGBTQ+ community is most well-known for the controversy it has caused in the past,   and indeed, the issues that are still very real in the rigid, sometimes outrightly unaccepting world of today.

Case in point – on Thursday night I went to see the cinema screening of the play “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”, in which the central character (Jamie) faces his own struggles with acceptance, as a male Drag Queen in a working-class Northern environment. I would like to mention this film as I not only A). REALLY ENJOYED IT (it’s so so so SO funny and uplifting!) but B). was able to gain an insight into some of the real struggles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, every single day.

I’m not a total stranger to issues surrounding gender and sexuality, though. As an anthropologist, I studied modules with names like “sex, reproduction and love”, and “sex in public places” – to some extent, I am aware of the literature and conversations happening, based on this enormous area, which is sometimes fraught with conflict and contrasting opinions.

So the parade is kind of like an enormous signal to the world – this is real, it’s happening, hop on board with it.

But let’s not get bogged down too much in the politics of it all, (this is a #happypost) as the parade is, first and foremost, a celebration of LGTBQ+ communities and groups!

And boy did it live up to this!

It. Was. HUGE.

Like,

ENOURMOUS.

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People were just crammed into Oxford Street like I cram my clothes into my messy, untidy drawers. Overstuffed, is the word I would use. With flags everywhere and support signs akimbo, it was like being in a world full of brightly coloured, chattering parrots. Actually, some people even had wings on, so there’s that similarity too.

The energy and the light of it all, the vibrancy of the colours and the glitter of the drag queens just brought a smile to your face.

People in short shorts and platform Converse and lots of lycra and with crazy hairdos pranced and danced and marched their way down the centre, blasting music out of huge speakers and throwing freebies into the crowd. These ranged from free condoms #staysafe, kids, to packets of sweets and stick-on crowns.

Support in the parade came from all kinds of companies, people, and places. The Queen’s marching band played a rousing version of the YMCA, all the while looking stone-faced straight ahead at the music clipped to the end of their instruments, whilst the Army roared up in a tank, followed by a crowed of people dressed in mildly disturbing leather outfits and covered in chains. I will not dwell on this.

Every time a new group, bearing whatever sign it was, the crowd would go crazy. Yelling and screaming and high-fiving and dancing like crazy. As well they should! What a wonderful day: watching all these hundreds of groups go past, openly declaring their support and spreading love for a cause and a community that is often the brunt of much hate.

We didn’t stay for all of the parade, as I had one of the worst experiences of my life, right there on the sidelines. (TW: I’m about to mention my period).
White denim skirt. Surprise visit from “Aunt Irma”. D I S A S T E R.
LUCKILY, my cousin had an enormous pride flag with her, which I fashioned into a kind of sarong whilst I ran through Topshop trying to find something black, and at leat knee-length.
Moral of the story is – always carry spare trousers??? Who even knew this was a thing??? I am kind of traumatised now.

Back to the original point of the post, which was pride.

Lately I have been binge-watching “Queer Eye”, which is a new show on Netflix. It focuses on 5 gay men (The “Fab 5”- they are, indeed, fabulous), and their mission to give a spiritual, physical, and mental makeover to someone nominated for their love of jorts (jean-shorts), terrible facial hair, or inability to move out of their parent’s house. It’s possibly the most cute, wonderful, funny, and uplifting I have ever had my eyes and ears blessed by. Seriously. I have cried so many happy tears watching that show. So pride, and gay culture in general, has been on my mind recently.

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Queer Eye isn’t just about the makeover, though. The guys talk in depth about their experiences with coming out, being openly gay, being religious, and talking to family members etc. It’s a very interesting, honest, and sometimes heart-breaking insight into this way of life.

One of their (the “Fab 5”)’s main points they make in the show, is to reinforce the idea that love is love, no matter what form it takes.

There are so many different types of love, and ways to love, and I’m slowly having my eyes opened up to them, in one way or another.

So what I wanted to say, that after all this, going to pride myself and being in that wonderful, accepting atmosphere, is that I felt nothing but oodles of love on that day, emanating from every single person at the event.

Love is love, people, and I think we, as a whole, need to start saying it like a mantra!

Love is love, no matter what form it takes. Why bully others for being loving, when love is the substance of life? IMG_8824.JPG

On that note, I shall depart.

All my love, to you, specifically you reading this,

Cam