#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

It's Mental Health Awareness week. I mean, it's actually Mental Health Awareness month as well. But this week is apparently the week. I don't know?

To celebrate this fact – not intentionally but coincidentally – I restarted my CBT sessions this week. And by restarted I mean finally found a new therapist after just over a month of cancellations due to my previous one unfortunately getting ill. 

Now I'm not sure if it's direct correlation, although it doesn't seem unlikely, but for those five weeks where I wasn't talking things through for 50 minutes every Tuesday afternoon, everything seemed to go downhill a little bit. I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that the thing designed to help had actually been helping, but, if I'm honest, I'd been feeling a little deflated about the whole thing. You see, I like quick fixes and (spoiler alert) there is no quick fix for these sorts of things. 

I didn't really want to go. Not because I didn't think I needed it (I definitely needed it)  but because I didn't really fancy talking about myself at all, let alone start from the beginning with someone new. But I did, because I'd made the appointment and god forbid I was going to make a phone call to cancel. I even changed out of my leggings and put on a nice dress so that I could at least pretend I sort of have my life together. Except I forgot to rub in my dry shampoo, so slight flaw in my plan there. 

I have to travel to a different venue for this one. I liked the old one because it was on the way home from work and not far from my house and it also played host to Physiotherapy and Pilates and Yoga classes, so I could walk in under the pretence that I was there for an hour of stretching instead. The new venue has a large sign outside signalling that, it is in a fact, a Counselling and Therapy Centre, meaning I must, of course, be there for counselling and therapy. 

This bothered me for all of 30 seconds before I realised that it really doesn't matter. It would be pretty ridiculous to write online about how we should be talking more about mental health, then worry about what a stranger in a car on the other side of the road thinks. Battling stigma and all that.

So that's what I'm doing now. Talking about it. There's no profound ending to this story, but talking more about mental health isn't limited to pouring your heart out about not being ok. It's about having honest and open conversations, and that means making it a part of our every day lives.

Instead of moaning about the traffic I got stuck in on the way home from 'an appointment', I should moan about the traffic I got stuck in on the way home from therapy. I – no, we – should give 'sorry I can't make do dinner on Tuesday because I have therapy' the same weight as 'sorry I can't do dinner on Tuesday because I've got the dentist'. 

So, whilst this story was about as interesting as me telling you that I booked a haircut for next week (I've booked a haircut for next week, BTW) it's just as worth talking about. 

Things from April

So April happened. 

Honestly, I didn't love it. I found it increasingly hard to actually do things I enjoy, and spent more time crying than I'd really like to admit. The plus side to all of this is that I spent a lot of time outside as a method of distraction. I think it even worked a bit too.

I've come to the conclusion that running and I don't see eye to eye, so I've done a lot of brisk walking instead. I spent the majority of my Easter weekend outside and away from my phone/the internet, which was kind of brilliant. I visited Corfe Castle and Swanage. I walked around Moors Valley. And I'm currently trying to simultaneously keep three different plants alive. I think the orchid is dying. 

Thanks to my lack of being able to enjoy said things I used to love, I've not opened Netflix in weeks. I just about managed to keep up with Girls, most likely because I find all the characters insufferable so I don't really mind too much what happens to them. Also the episodes are under thirty-minutes long. I did, however, manage to finish one book out of the many I've started and not been able to concentrate on. Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon. I would 100% recommend. In fact, I was so pleased I'd finally managed to finish something that I had a little cry post-read.

I also wrote a piece for The Olive Fox – a site which has some really great articles written by some really great writers. You can read my piece here, but I'd definitely urge you to take a look at the rest of the content too! 

Twenty-four

Today I turn twenty-four.

FOUR

Four-year-old me had a teddy bears' picnic. Now I'm not sure a four year old can actually show disdain, but some people turned up with soft toys that weren't bears (as stipulated on the invitation) and let's just say I wasn't impressed. There was also a dramatic game of pass the parcel in which a boy, who was highly allergic to peanuts, won a Snickers bar in one of the layers. 

SIX

I really liked fairies. I saw one once. I mean, yes, it was probably a dragonfly. But I was six and I saw one. It was right by the spot I'd leave letters for them and it flew right past my head. One came to my sixth birthday party too. She was a lot bigger than I'd imagined though. Grown adult sized even. But of course, she'd used magic so that she didn't get lost amongst a party of six-year-olds.

TEN

At ten, I thought it might be nice to be an author. Not simply a writer. An author. I was going to write books. I put the book writing on hold for my birthday though and had a disco. I didn't particularly like discos. I'd even been to a few I'd actively disliked. But everyone had a disco for their tenth birthday. So I had one too. Because at ten, you want to fit in. And, actually, I didn't hate mine. I came to the conclusion – probably around the time we started a conga line surrounded by balloons in a rented hall – that I might have quite enjoyed it.

EIGHTEEN

I was going to be a journalist. Or at least that's what my UCAS acceptance offers told me anyway. I hadn't realised that I didn't actually want to be a journalist yet. All I really knew on my eighteenth birthday was that I was very drunk from the plastic bottle of vodka and orange that I'd snuck into the pub, ignoring the fact that I was finally old enough to buy my own drinks. That and it was raining a lot outside. Which was weird because it never rains on my birthday. 

TWENTY-TWO

I woke up to the first few bars of Taylor Swift on my third morning in Disneyland Paris. The day before, a giant rabbit smashed my phone, but it didn't even bother me because I was spending four days with my best friend in my at-the-time favourite place. I'd also just started a new job. In Marketing. In a real office with nice people and shiny Apple Macs. I liked twenty-two.

Today I turn twenty-four... 

I say I like reading, but what I really mean is I like buying books and starting them but never finishing them. Or re-reading the same books again and again, because I like knowing how they turn out and I hate surprises. 

I also like buying dresses that I then send back because the sleeves aren't quite right, or it's five centimetres too short or, god forbid, it creases. I'm not picky though.

I like birthdays less than I used to. 

There's a part of me that likes to think that maybe I did see a fairy that day. I haven't written a book yet, this blog is the closest I've come. I realised I didn't want to be a journalist whilst studying to become said journalist. So I left. If I've progressed in at least one way since the age of ten, it's getting good at not doing things I don't want to do. Some people call it stubborn. They are correct. 

 

Postcards

Last Saturday morning I was sitting on a train scrolling through Twitter, mainly as a distraction from the group of probably-somewhere-between-eighteen-and-twenty-year-old men, who were obviously still drunk and clearly hadn't yet been to bed. Apart from the one who had apparently been lucky enough to sleep on the sofa. I know. I heard it. The whole train heard it, they were loud enough. 

But anyway, I was scrolling through Twitter, making the most of the intermittent signal, when I came across a retweet that I haven't stopped thinking about since. It was a picture of a postcard and a caption that had me at "We are young enough to keep going." 

The tweet belonged to Postcard From the Past described, in 160 characters or less, as "Fragments of life in real messages on postcards from the past." 

I always know when I really really like something, because I'll want to tell everyone about it and share it everywhere. Which I have done. In fact, I might even break my usual Facebook radio silence and share this one to the 200 or so people I went to school with and haven't spoken to since. That's how much I like this.

It's brilliant. It's story-telling in such an intriguing yet simple way. It leaves room for the imagination, and appeals directly to the overly nostalgic side of me. It's also made me cry. On two occasions (and counting). 

Thinking about it now, I can't remember the last time I sent or received a postcard. I kind of miss it. Trawling through the racks of cards. Trying to pick out the best Greek cat or donkey to send back home. Contemplating the price of foreign stamps. Deciding that maybe you're better off just posting them once you're back home because there's only four days left of your holiday and it'll never make it in time anyway. 

But  – and here's the part where you need to forgive me for reading too much into this – you can't fit many words on a postcard. And you can't fit much on Twitter either. Maybe that's why they work so well together. You have to get the point, or alternatively leave it vague and kind of odd. Either way, it makes a great story. 

I'm probably really late to the party. A quick Google tells me that the internet had this covered back in 2016, but I've still not watched this year's Broadchurch and I'm so far behind on Made in Chelsea, so it's in-keeping with the theme really. 

Maybe I'm overly sentimental and maybe crying multiple times at an image of Mudeford Quay and the words "We waved to some tiny figures on the pier – hope it was you" is a little excessive. But it's also brilliant. 

Other favourites include: "I've fallen in love.""Typical Caroline.", "You couldn't get any further away from all the mess we're in." and "She's drunk and I'm having trouble handling her at present."

@PastPostcard