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

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

Where have I been?

General
(Top left = me at Grey Ball, bottom left = me in Europe’s certified worst nightclub, second right = me sunbathing, bottom right = me graduating, pic on right is me with my doge TOBY, who we love.)

Oh, you know. A little of this, a little of that. I just haven’t felt much like writing! I was WRUNG OUT with tiredness and emotion, come the end of my degree. There were nights out and days in and plenty of goodbyes. There was love and light and tears and early mornings and all kinds of things going on. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to say.

Anyway, the point is: I’m back now. Maybe you missed me (although I know the answer to this is most likely, probably not). Now the craziness of the EnD oF aN ErA is over, I can get back to *relative* normality.

My goal is to post 2 or 3 times a week! I promise to be more consistent (at this point you’re probably reaching for the “unfollow” button, I know).

Consider this tho, where else are you going to get such #realtalk? I’m spending the summer working in a pet hotel, where there’s EIGHTY EIGHT dogs (yes, you read that right). And many many other animals, including cats, horses, rabbits, and even occasionally, someone’s pet rats. Lol. I’ve already been munched on by someone’s dear little pony (apparently my fingers must resemble carrots) and fell in love with a fluffy akita called YUKIO (how cute is that!).

NB: the hashtags are (mostly) #ironic.

I also really want to tell you about my graduation day, cause that was hella fun, and I discovered that I am a lot less fun than my sister, who is eight years older than me and by rights, the one that should have been complaining about being tired.

I have soooo much to tell you, dear friends. There’s been kisses and near-misses and general drams and fun timez. (Maybe I’ll make some of it up, to make my life seem more exciting. Who knows?) I even did a bar crawl consisting of all 14 Durham college bars, and actually COMPLETED IT! I either am super enthusiastic, or want nothing to do with a night out. Call me fickle, but it’s the truth.

Omg also I got rid of like 99% of my belongings in preparation for my move to Croatia (Sept 13th, looking at you). IT FEELS SO GOOD. It was like The Purge, but with my things. Based on this, I’d quite like to brag about my #fengshui abilities.

I don’t know why I’m typing like I’m an American Teen in every tween novel ever.

Right now I’m on my way to LDN! For like the 3rd time in my life. I am SO not a city girl.

Anyway, next post will be on SUNDAY, and it will be about PRIDE! Which is why I’m off to the capital.

 

Also going to be posting soon body image and exercise and how much I love carbs and how bad I feel if I don’t exercise and why that’s a bad thing and oh my gosh I have so much to say! I also want to review a book I recently read, which was really weird, even though it’s a classic. Maybe you can help me shed light on it.

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My “Finding Nemo” dress

 

To end with some wise advice:

in this world, it’s either yeet or be yeeted.” 

Love,

Cam

 

Drinking out of a lightbulb

General

NB: I wrote this yesterday but fell asleep before I could post it…

Hello friends!

Today’s chronicle is written, I admit, slightly tipsily. I have been…DAY DRINKING. Now before you get all sniffy, it’s a beautiful day here and there’s a royal wedding going on, so why the heck not? Also I’m sad, gimme a break.

A friend took me to a very indie bar which is so extremely pretentious that guests have to know a secret code before being allowed in. And then you have to consult the satirical menu, which offers a self-effacing and self-conscious insight into the minds not only of the owners of the bar, but also into yourself. Should I dabble in a daiquiri? Bow to the bourbon? Who knows? Not I. Am I really so hipster that I would order….coffee from a secret bar? Overwhelmed by choice, I settled for a cheeky cocktail. Well, two. Actually three, if you count the can of Pimms I had from Tesco. Which probably explains why walking home turned into weaving home.

As I sipped my lemon-curd infused gin-based.. drink? (I have no idea what was actually in it), I considered my situation. Here I was, following fashions trends in a crop top and red trousers, enjoying a cocktail served in a lightbulb in a club so secret, perhaps even the owners didn’t know about it. The living embodiment of a hipster nightmare.

Is this really who I am? Someone who gets off on drinking fancy-ass lemonade from a toy milk bottle?

Actually, yes, yes I am.

The cocktails were great and I got quite merrily tipsy, and had to be refrained from getting a train to the nearest town with a Wagamamas (I am super craving it right now). Plus it felt cool to be drinking in an elite club out of illicit utensils, and on top of that, to be doing it in the middle of the goddamn day. The drinks had funny names, and it was all very aesthetic in the most pretentious, wonderful way. I think with stuff like this, you’ve either got to hate it with a passion, or embrace it for what it is: a nice bar which is a bit different and where they don’t skimp on gin measures.

Moral of the story: try something new today. For me, it was drinking very alcoholic cocktails out of a lightbulb at 3pm. For you, may I suggest an Irish coffee? A g&t as the sun sets? Or maybe something non-alcoholic. I’m a terrible influence, aren’t I? But you work hard, go treat yo self.

I should go now as I have to pack a suitcase; I’m leaving for Budapest tomorrow. I do not have great confidence in my drunk packing skills – do you think I’ll need my sequin jeans? Or a wetsuit? I DON’T KNOW. My suitcase is currently mostly full of eyeshadow palettes, so that might need rethinking.

Love,

Your unsober pal,

Cam

IMG_5451

Friend of bad influence! Or maybe good influence. I haven’t decided yet.

 

Hello and welcome!

General
Hi there!
 
If you hadn’t already guessed, the inevitable has happened – and I have decided to start BLOGGING *everybody cringes.* As if I wasn’t embarrassing enough anyway (check out my Insta). Still, I remain shameless about my propensity to over-share online. If reading about my trials and triumphs makes even one person feel better about themselves/ their own life, I will have won. Also low-key, my therapist told me that most of my problems would be solved if I just wrote them down and thought them through, so I will also be testing that theory.
 
More so than being an anthropologist (the subject of my undergrad degree) or a veterinarian (the subject of my next degree – we’ll get to that), I have always been a writer. Someone once called me “fat and weird” for reading books a lot when I was a pre-teen, but my hobby did leave me with the ability to string together a few sentences in a way that’s easy to read. Who’s laughing now? Probably them, actually…
 
So what should you expect from avocamilla.com?
 
Food 
 
Food, glorious food! Yes, I’m a (mostly) vegan. BUT before you turn away in disgust, I promise you I am not one of those vegans. I don’t CARE if you eat steak three times a day or are a gluten-free milk-free Paleo pescatarian. As long as you don’t send me sausages in the post or something, we’re cool. I will not preach about veganism or anything like that. I will just share my reality with you! Which is, admittedly, mostly guilty bags of Malteasers and the occasional cheesy pizza. *gasp!* And some meals that are just cous cous and ketchup – I’m a student, let me live. Sometimes I do make nice food (or have it made for me), and when I do, I’ll be sure to share it. But me and my baked beans are probably not going to make it onto the #foodporn hashtag.
 
Fitness 
 
Ha! Ha! Good one, Cam. If you know me in real life, you’ll be well aware that I am super pale, sickly, dramatically asthmatic (no, seriously) and generally do not look like someone who is #bodygoals at any given time. Despite this, I love to run and to swim. I do my best. Occasionally, I dabble in yoga (at present, however, I am nursing a broken heart and am favouring more intense exercise as a form of REVENGE).
 
Rest assured, I suck at both running AND swimming (I didn’t learn to swim until I was fourteen), but maybe you can help me achieve some kind of fitness level or goal. We can encourage one another to get out there and get moving. I do think exercise is an important part of life, but as a normal person with a normal body you will not find me hanging out in the weights area sipping a kale smoothie because, well, I’m probably in bed with a slice of toast and a hangover.
 
Mental health 
 
Okay, this is where it gets a bit heavy.
 
I am someone who struggles with mental health problems. Throughout my teenage years, I had anorexia, which was incredibly debilitating. Thankfully, I got the help I needed and have recovered fully from that awful disorder. But it’s still something I talk about a lot and fight every single day – yes, I live a normal life and eat what I like, when I like (hence why I don’t restrict myself cheese or cake or chocolate if I want it), but the problems which anorexia developed as a coping mechanism for, still remain, and I struggle massively with body insecurity.
 
These problems take the form of depression and anxiety. Panic attacks, SSRIs, all that jazz. And sometimes it makes every day a struggle.
 
Mental health forms a big part of our media coverage today. But what is “mental health”? How do we know when it’s “bad” or when it’s “good”? And what can we do to not feel like crap all the time?
 
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some of them. Whether it’s books, or lifestyle changes, or quotes or websites or whatever, I hope to share what works for me. By letting you inside my mind, maybe you’ll see that you’re not alone, or be able to help a friend going through this stuff.
 
I am in no way qualified to give advice, so all I can do is share my experiences. Some of them are funny, and some are sad, but they’re all real, and from my heart. And if I got through them, you can too!
 
Travel 
 
I am fairly intrepid and I have some stories to share, mostly about the times I have visited Africa to spend my summers working with primates. One time I got hit in the head with a rock thrown by a chimpanzee! Also once I landed a drone a bit too near someone’s face. OOPS.
 
This September, I, a typical Yorkshire lass from the UK, will be moving to Croatia for SIX YEARS. From what I have described about myself, that seems crazy, doesn’t it! So I will definitely be posting about what it’s like to prepare to move away for such a long time, being an international student, and what life is like away from home.
 
Everything else 
 
I hope to share some of what I learn from my veterinary studies, as well as keeping up-to-date with anthropology. I promise to make it at least a little bit interesting, and not too gross. I’ll also be sharing music that is cheerful and uplifting, as I think music can do a lot to change your mood! Finally, I might share some of my fictional writing, some of which I’m quite proud of. Oh, and probably some “fashion” too. This will mostly involve me wearing brightly patterned shirts and grinning like a maniac because apparently I live in the 80s, despite the fact I wasn’t alive then. There’ll be some funny stories from university and from my family life, too. Plus I have a puppy, so watch out for pictures of him.
 
Anyway, enough rambling. I have a flight to catch. But I hope you are excited! I certainly am.
 
Love,
 
Cam
 
first post

It me! I was trying to show off my shoes but I look a bit silly instead. Still, you win some, you lose some.