A New Poem For Monday…

ROBIN. by Zoë Allard

She comes to visit me

Every morning when I wake up

She dances on the patio

Like she did when we were young

It took me a long time to notice

And I didn’t want to believe

That instead of going to heaven

She would rather stay with me

I watch her fly away now

But there is no goodbye

As she’ll return tomorrow

At exactly the same time

It gives me such comfort

That she will never go

Because she returned in feathers

So she could watch me grow.

2021 through fresh eyes…

I remember New Year’s Eve 2019. I had gone to a friends for a bit after work for some food and drink but then started filling a bit drained so went home before 10pm. I recall sitting in my room feeling a bit down about my lack of NYE energy because I always loved New Year celebrations, and I said to myself “it’s okay, I’ll make up for it next year and party hard.”

Well… little did I know then that life was really that unpredictable and it would not happen. But I guess we’re all on that boat, things were always the same and taken for granted until they weren’t options anymore.

(Dont be fooled though, I wasn’t down this year. I spent the evening having a hot bath and then binge watching the final ten episodes of Vikings so as New Years goes it wasn’t that bad!)

So what am I looking at doing differently for the new year? What goals have I got? Well, you have probably seen my previous post ‘20 things I learned in 2020’… how am I going to keep these lessons firmly going forward?

For starters I made a decision to cut all the negative energy;

Something I posted after 2021 began on social media.

I genuinely cannot be bothered with holding grudges anymore, or disliking people for whatever reason. It literally influenced things a lot more then I realised. For example, before Covid, if I was on my way to the pub to meet friends and one of them text me and told me someone was there that I didn’t get on with – automatically from that moment I am frustrated. I start overthinking how much they are going to annoy me, or might start on me or say something etc etc and that’s before I have even set foot in the bloody pub! So I have basically had about 3 overthought scenarios in my head, a mini panic attack and been riddled with rage before I have even got half way in the Uber and the person in question probably doesn’t even bat an eyelid at the thought of me. In fact, a fair few times these said people didn’t even do anything at all when I got there. Do you see where I’m going with this?

As I have openly expressed in quite a few of my previous posts, in my past I was a very bitter and cynical person. I’m not saying I was intentionally a bully or anything like that. I have never enjoyed hurting people. But we all have been through points in our lives when we enjoy bitching about someone else to make ourselves feel better haven’t we? For me, it was always jealousy. Whether it be looks, popularity or personality, or even something like – people would always defend them even when they were wrong, it was always that I would have something about them that I was jealous of and therefore it made me feel better to be negative about them. But all of this is just a constant overwhelming ball of negative energy that nobody needs on their shoulders.

Now I’m not saying be a mug and let people walk all over you. You don’t have to go up to the guy that two-timed you and hug him or go up to the friend who stabbed you in the back and ask them to go for a drink. But what you can do is move on mentally. Sometimes in life, we do not get closure from the things or people that hurt us. There are so, so many things that have happened to me in my life that have messed me up for years that I will never completely get closure on. So you have to do the next best thing, clear your mind of the negative feelings you have towards them, forgive and move on. (You don’t have to physically go up to them and tell them you forgive them, you don’t even have to see them if you don’t want to, this is just a way for you to move forward for the sake of your mental health).

The more you start letting go of the negative grudges, the more you will notice how little their actions get to you going forward. Trust me on this. And quite frankly, if the person in question does give you a hard time or acts like a childish idiot around you – that’s about them not you, let them crack on with their sad little lives.

I am also setting big goals for myself

I’m not really one for doing resolutions (or keeping them) but I think yearly goals are more realistic and also more motivating. Instead of saying “my New Years resolution is to diet and lose weight” you could say “I hope that by the end of this year I have found healthy alternatives to take care of my body.”

We beat ourselves up way too much on having resolutions that last a week, but we do all naturally sit there and think ‘by this time next year I hope I’ve done this’.

The thing is we forget half of what we hope for throughout the year.. our lives change in various ways for many reasons, you can never predict where you’ll actually be this time next year. This time last year I was just taking on a new role at work and writing was something that kept sitting on the back burner as a daydream. Now I’m doing 2 writing courses and planning out poems, short stories and novels.

It amazes me how much things can change for you in just twelve months.

With this in mind, I decided to write a ‘secret list’ of goals that I would like to achieve by the end of 2021. I then sealed these 21 things (see what I did there?) in an envelope which I will not open until 31.12.21. Why? Because to me, it will be fascinating to see if my hopes and goals A. Were met or B. Are even remotely the same.

A majority of my goals are based around paying things off, starting to finalise writing pieces and send them off for competitions, get to certain points in my studies, read 100 books at least this year etc. But who knows where this year will go as well, we could get to New Year’s Eve and I could read certain parts of my life and think “oh god I don’t even care about that anymore.” It’s an interesting experiment for me!

I am also learning about self-compassion. I’m not sure if I mentioned recently or not, but I am reading a new book about Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff PhD. And it goes through how to show compassion to yourself like you would a friend and gets you to look at yourself differently, not beat yourself up etc. I’m only a section in but one of the first exercises she asks you to do is to pretend you are your own imaginary friend who loves everything about you and see’s your flaws as good things, and write a letter to yourself from this ‘imaginary friend’. I always find these sorts of tasks extremely interesting because they force you to look at yourself in a way you don’t do regularly.

I am going to publish a post review about that book when I have finished it and what I’ve learned from it so I’ll save the rest until then, I may even show that letter I wrote too.

I hope some of these things help whoever reads this to try and keep positive for 2021. I know it is really hard right now when we are still struggling with a pandemic and not quite seeing light at the end of the tunnel yet. But I truly believe we will get there, it’s just a case of when.

Personally, I am now looking at 2021 with a really excited attitude of just how much I can progress in the year. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be telling you how well I did with my goals 😉

20 Things I learned in 2020…

2020 was an interesting year for everyone to say the least. Across the globe we saw some very harsh realities, we witnessed a horrible pandemic that felt more like the start of a sci-fi zombie flick then it did reality, we saw horrific stories and videos of how black people are still being treated poorly in comparison to us, deaths were on the rise, we were locked away in our homes for long periods. It was definitely a year I would call different.

2020 as a whole most of us will be glad to see the back of and mark it as one of the ‘worst years ever’, it has been very hard to witness much positivity throughout the year. But I decided a couple of weeks ago to sit back and think about all the things that I can take away from this year in a positive way. So I decided as it’s the year 2020 I would come up with 20 things I learned from this year to make it a tad more bearable… not all of them are complete positives but genuine lessons all the same.

I’m aware I probably won’t be the only one who does this, but I thought it would be a good expression point for me so here goes:

1. Covid is not a permanent thing but for some people this way of life is.

Earlier this year, I purchased a film called “Five Feet Apart”, mainly because I saw it had Cole Sprouse in but also I thought the title seemed quite on-point with a lot of what we were going through with the early stages of Covid.

The film tells a story from the perspective of Stella. A seventeen year old suffering with Cystic Fibrosis, constantly in and out of hospital for various treatments. Will, a teenage boy who enters the hospital, has the same condition and they appear to have a very flirtatious atmosphere between them. But the issue is, CF patients can never physically interact with each other because of the risks (I genuinely never knew this until I saw the film!) so it turns in to a really emotional story. I found the story so beautiful I even sent copies to a couple of friends, but the film really made me realise how ungrateful I was being for just having a few months where I couldn’t go and hug people. CF sufferers have to worry about this sort of thing quite often. It really puts things in perspective.

2. You are never too old to do something you really want to do.

I know, I know, people say this all the time but how often do we take that seriously? I definitely didn’t. I spent most of my adult life secretly writing ideas for stories and poetry etc but never pursuing anything. On the back end of the year I decided to bite the bullet and enroll on a Comprehensive Creative Writing course. It has really helped me in many ways so far and really increased my confidence with putting some of my work out there. I have also met some great people (through WhatsApp not physically sadly) in a group chat for students and it’s all a mixed variety of ages all trying to do the same thing and it’s a great group to be a part of.

t’s never too late to work at something you’re really passionate about!

3. Short hair is much easier to handle

This one was one of the first things I thought of about 2020 and is not as sentimental at all as the other points in this post, but hey! It’s about things I learned right? And I learned short hair suits me better and is easier to maintain. End of.

4. Walks in nature are good for your mental health.

Pretty lake view from Rickmansworth Aquadrome, October 2020.

How many of us have taken more nature walks in the last year then we have our entire lives?!! It’s actually mad to think about but also one big positive I have found to come out of 2020. I suffered from emotional exhaustion back in the early months of lockdown, I got upset and nauseous trapped in four walls. One Saturday I gave myself a kick up the butt and went for a walk in the local woods and my goodness did I feel 10x better! We actually take for granted a lot of the time how beautiful nature actually is. I now try and do nature walks as often as I can, I’m hopeful this isn’t something that will die out once the world goes back to ‘normal’.

5. Sometimes you need a new outlook on your experiences.

Any one who actually knows me very well will probably tell you I am a bit of a negative Nancy! I spent most of my adult life looking at the negative side of things in life and always huffing and puffing like ‘oh that’s just my luck – it never goes my way anyway’, ‘who’s gonna fancy me and wanna stay with me anyway?’ Etc etc. And well, it really didn’t have a good effect on my mental health either (duh!) but I also found that the more I was looking at things so negatively, the more it naturally became more negative. Over the last few months I’ve been reading up a lot about meditation, spirituality and getting in tone with the universe and one of the main things you find they frequently say is that you attract what you give out. I have now started trying to see things in a more ‘logical’ way (easier said then done when you have anxiety) and finding that sometimes there are positive outcomes to even the most negative experiences.

6. It’s surprising the support you can get when you are open with people.

I have started being a lot more open about myself and experiences (you can see examples of this in a lot of my previous posts) and honestly, the support and feedback I’ve had from people has been amazing. I was always worried I’d get judged as an attention seeker or something negative, but I have had good responses from so many people and some things I’ve spoken about others have related to as well, the conversations never would have happened had I not been open enough about things. It’s true what they say: it’s good to talk.

7. Punk Goes Pop is very therapeutic.

Honestly, it will put you in such a good mood. And some punk covers are better than originals. If you haven’t played some punk goes pop full blast at some point in your life, I highly recommend it!

8. Reading is the best escapism.

I used to love reading books and then over the years I really slacked at it because I was ‘too busy’ (scrolling on social media no doubt). During this last year I have really thrown myself back in to the book world and my god, I never want to be without it again. I’ve really under appreciated how good getting lost in a good book is.

9. Small Businesses are amazing

How good was 2020 for small businesses though?! We really learned this year how much sweat and effort goes in to making a small business work and I don’t know about you but I found some amazing gems in the last year from small businesses I never would have looked twice at before the pandemic.

10. I have taken way too much for granted.

One thing I have always been aware of, is that I do come from quite a spoilt background. I grew up never wanting for anything and was very used to getting my own way. But the last year has really taught me just how lucky I am in a lot of ways, not just in relation to money or presents. Even though I bitch about it, I am lucky to still be able to live in my parents house (I will move out soon Mum&Dad I promise!), and various little things we don’t give much second thought to because it’s just what we have.

Other people aren’t always as lucky or fortunate as you are, so it’s important to bear this in mind.

11. Poetry is beautiful

I have loved getting thoroughly back in to poetry again, both reading/discovering and writing it. I still have a lot to learn in all areas of writing but really, nothing tops that feeling of expressing your feelings or emotions into words to form a poem.

12. Appreciate your friends. Always,

Always make sure you remember who stuck by you. Your friends stick with you by choice. Nothing tops a person who chooses to be by your side even when you’re at your worst.

13. Finding my identity was easier said then done, but I got there.

If you have read my ‘Social media life lessons’ post then you’ll know what I’m talking about here. If not, then in a nutshell: I spent a lot of time trying to be someone I was not, for the sake of fitting in and impressing other people. Recently I have allowed myself to take a step back and re-evaluate who I truly am and what I like/don’t like etc.

Nothing is worth trading your personality for.

14. Self-Compassion is important.

People mistake self-compassion as arrogance, but it’s not. I have only recently started reading about self-compassion and have recently purchased the book of that title by Kristin Neff (I haven’t finished it yet though), but self-compassion is all about common humanity and self-kindness. I will most likely to a full blog post about this when I’ve finished the book. But what I will say is I did a test on it from the book and my scores of self-compassion were really low!

“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – Ru Paul.

15. How someone acts with you is a reflection of THEM and not you.

I spent way too much time caring about how people treated me. I also learned in recent years that me being negative and mean around other people was down to me not being happy within myself. So it’s an important thing to always remember. If someone is mean to you, instead of getting upset just think to yourself that they probably don’t feel very good about themselves, and move on.

16. It is good to be kind.

It is amazing how positive being kind to someone or receiving kindness from someone else can make you feel.

17. Rejection and Failing is okay – at least you are trying.

I don’t really need to put much background description to this. It’s all in the title. If you fail at something or experience rejection, at least you’re trying. It’s a lot better than never trying at all and daydreaming what if’s. Trust me.

18. Online Dating is NOT the way. Anymore.

I don’t want to offend anyone who has met the love of their life on dating apps or who has had luck on there, but from my 5-6 years (at least) of experience on dating apps. They just aren’t what they used to be. In the last year in particular it’s just been an ego boost. Most people (including me on certain occasion) have just used it to cure some boredom. No decent conversations or meet-ups were formed. No-one takes it seriously any more.

I personally would much rather wait until I meet someone in the flesh and can then establish whether I am attracted to them or not. Online is easy to fake. However, with that all being said I have also made a recent decision to take a break from it all in general. I recently got a 2021 writers planner to plan out my writing goals for the year and with all of that and a new writing workshop class I’m going on I do not have time to mentally exhaust myself over a man.

I think the main thing I learnt from it was that you can’t keep pushing for something that isn’t there. And tinder and those kind of platforms are kind of doing just that, you’re on there for the sake of meeting someone (yes, I know with lockdown there was no other way!). I prefer to think that at some point in the future I’ll meet the right guy in a normal setting and it will all go from there. But until then, I’m out.

19. There is always someone worse off than you. But it is okay to feel how you feel.

Yes, we all experience emotions in different ways and some may not be upset by the same things as others. There will ALWAYS be someone who has had a harder time than you, and it’s horrible for them. But we can’t keep feeling like our feelings are invalid just because someone else has more ‘to be sad about’. It’s just about putting across your feelings in the right way, so you don’t make someone else feel like their feelings aren’t genuine. But people think different things about their own self worth. It is okay to feel however you wanna feel about anything. Don’t let other people dictate to you how you should feel.

20. Don’t waste your entire life on what pays your bills.

Now this is different for everyone, some people have jobs they absolutely love and will happily commit all their time to. Others do not. But you need to have the right balance in your work and personal life. Yes, overtime makes you look good and you might be the champion employee of the month but, you need to make sure that you are always giving set time to yourself and your personal life. Especially if you’re working from home and it’s hard to separate the two.

(I am not saying you all need to hand in your notices or tell your boss to naff off, it’s just about making sure you have balance. If you don’t: it can really damage your mental health. And could result in your performance at work being effected. So make sure you always try and have breaks for yourself and make me-time a thing.)

So that was very long, if you read through all of this then I really, REALLY appreciate you. I hope that this entertained you to read like it did me to write.

To everyone : I wish you the best for 2021, let’s hope we can have more fun, see a way out of this pandemic & learn more valuable life lessons.


The ADHD, Social Anxiety Puzzle

Puzzles can generally be frustrating things can’t they? As fun as they are, you always find yourself getting irritated at the loss of a certain piece or when you just can’t seem to figure it all out and get it all to piece together. You may even end up throwing a strop or tantrum over it, or giving up on completing the puzzle all together.

I feel that suffering from ADHD and Social Anxiety is a bit like a puzzle for me. Every one is different, and I’m sure I’m not the only person that experiences both of these (along with an added slice of hypothyroidism, general anxiety and depression) but we all handle it in different ways and believe me, it’s a struggle.

Social Anxiety is where you can overthink social interaction and events. It varies from person to person but some cases of it mean the person might not want to go out at all unless they are physically invited to (as they feel you do not want them there otherwise) and some get shaken or nervous overthinking every thing that is said and done during a social activity. Also an overwhelming general fear of socialising with new people.

ADHD is a medical condition called Attention deficit hyperactive disorder. It effects your concentration and self-control. Your attention is limited and you have more difficulty being focused. You can also be very fidgety, and with hyperactive behaviour thrown in it can be a very difficult disorder to deal with.

I didn’t get diagnosed with ADHD until I was in my 20’s. It wasn’t commonly investigated back then. Generally, everyone just thought I was a little shit and I was not very clever. I do sometimes question how different my life might have been if this had been picked up on in my childhood. If my grades would have been better, if I would have been medicated, would my future have planned out differently?

Now that I have gone in to the definition of those two conditions, imagine what it’s like to have both going on in your brain at the same time. I basically overthink every single aspect of my day to day life.

Having anxiety constantly makes me go back to overthinking conversations I’ve had with people, how I have behaved in front of others etc. But having ADHD also means that I am impulsive and have no filter what so ever. Sometimes this can be seen as a positive, because most people will have a genuine idea of how I’m really feeling because I can’t think up a lie before I open my gob. But more often than not, having ADHD is not such a positive thing.

I have made a fool of myself many, many times. With men, saying the wrong thing in front of friends, putting my foot in it unintentionally etc. For the first few times, I was bummed but it sort of blew over. But now because there’s been so many mishaps with this, my social anxiety has gone beyond peak level. I have a horrendous fear of meeting people full stop.

The internet makes it easier to pretend. It’s easy to hide behind a filter and follow random people and like their photos without ever having to let them experience what you’re like as a physical human being. But even social media gives me panic attacks at times because I overthink what strangers may think of something I did online.

I once deleted Tinder because I accidentally super liked someone who was a mutual friend, I basically spent all day freaking out thinking that the guy was going to laugh about me to the mutual friend or send me some mean message and make me a laughing stock. Why that automatic thought occurs I’m not sure, but my guess is due to the bullying in my past, this now makes me assume everyone is always going to see me as a negative. But In hindsight, the guy probably just did what most people do when they see someone they don’t fancy superlikes them and has a giggle about it on their own and swipes left. No harm done.

Social anxiety really doesn’t allow you to be logical too often though. And ADHD always overpowers me when I am out at social events, it is hard to not have a filtering process and just say and do dumb shit around people. The social anxiety generally plays out afterwards. I’ll go home and then lay in my bed and rethink every single action and word that happened. If one person even gave me one slightly funny look or disagreed with something I said, it will play on my mind for a long period of time. Then it brings the pending fear of seeing that person again in another social event. Once you have that mindset that the people you socialise with have a problem with you, it is very hard to break out of it.

So this is why I describe my disorders like a puzzle, I spend each day piecing different bits of each disorder together to try and make a big bright picture which makes me happy about the conditions I have. I always see all this stuff about self-love and acceptance of who you are but it can be very hard to do so when you are easily disliked for things you’ve done that are beyond your mental control.

Because that is something people don’t physically grasp with ADHD. We can’t control what happens with it. It’s easy for people without the disorder to sit there and go “it’s just an excuse so you can be a little shit and misbehave”. Trust me, it’s not. I don’t know about other ADHD sufferers but I would love nothing more than to not have a lack of filter and be hyperactive so easily. It’s also actually rather offensive to accuse someone with ADHD of making excuses. Imagine as a woman if you suffer from PMS or get hormonal when you’re due on… imagine how annoyed you get when people bitch about it but it’s something you can’t control. Well, that’s how I feel about my ADHD outbursts.

I’m not sure if the Covid-19 pandemic has been a positive or not for the above, because I can’t go out and socialise. But my fear is it is actually making the anxiety aspect ten times worse with the lack of interaction with people, it might make me more anxious when the time comes to go back out there. Also, I fear my ADHD is going to multiply from excitement when I’m out and about again.

I’m still trying to manage both of these things and try not to let them overcome me too much. My people skills and filter still needs a fair bit of work but thankfully I do have friends in my life who get me. It’s just the meeting new people thing I am useless at. But, I am learning to accept this big brain puzzle as part of who I am. The right people will understand it and help me through it. It is very hard to not care about what other people think of me when I have these conditions, but I’m working on it.

Poetry & Prose corner 3

Take me to the Place.. (ZA)

Take me to the place,

where the words don’t hurt

Where I am whole on my own

And don’t struggle to smile.

Take me to the place,

where I no longer cry..

Where I am always loved

And don’t shiver at my looks.

Take me to the place,

Away from my head

Where there’s never darkness,

And I’m surrounded by light.

Take me to the place

No one else knows,

Its our little escape

With just your hand in mine.

Take me to that place,

You don’t really know..

But one day you’ll find it

When it’s no longer a dream

And well have this forever

Just you and me.

Social Media Life Lessons.

So, as part of a recent assignment on my writing course, I had to write an article as if I was pitching it to a magazine. As I don’t have any writing experiences to rave about yet and the magazine I wrote this for have stated that they prefer to accept articles from people with some background. I’ve decided to publish it here instead. So here it is, the lessons I learnt about social media and the effects it has on my mental health…

It was another sleepless night in my room, as I lay there staring at the dark ceiling in deep frustration and insomnia. I then did the most common thing anyone can do – I went on my phone. Despite reading countless documentaries over the years, about how addictive social media has become in our lives, and even purchasing a book earlier this year called ‘How to Break Up with your phone’ which had a whole first section that blew my mind about scary addictive facts, I still did not think I had any sort of problem.

Then a couple of months ago, I tuned into the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Experiment’. This documentary opened my eyes to how much I scrolled through my phone and had a serious addiction problem. My morning routine was always the same. The first thing I would do when I got up: scroll through Instagram and Twitter. It wasn’t even for anything specific, just a general nosey window into the world. Into what strangers I would probably never meet think about current events, the latest gorgeous selfie my friend might have posted, the usual social media expectancies.

 Initially I believed that I had broken my social media addiction a year ago – when I made the decision to permanently delete Facebook. It is a fact that Facebook is not the community it used to be, and I always found Facebook an extremely negative environment, constant negative comments on each other’s posts, people sharing group posts that they had not even fact-checked, it was awful. So, I made the decision to remove that area of social media from my life in November 2019 and never look back. I always thought Instagram and Twitter were better platforms, in some ways they are, but over the last few months I noticed that I really had a problem with how much time I spent on them.

The Comparison Thief

Over the last few months where the pandemic has been keeping us locked away to keep each other safe, social media has pretty much been the only place many of us can keep in touch. It has also been the window we all need to fake major parts of our lives for the world to see and get the attention we crave.

Again, I never thought I had an issue with social media. I believed I was perfectly fine with who I was and how I looked. But the pandemic opened my eyes in lots of ways. With less time spent socialising with other people or being out, I had more time to spend aimlessly scrolling through my two social media platforms and acknowledge just how negatively it made me feel. As someone who spent much of their life being bullied for how she looks, and her irritating hyperactivity (which was later diagnosed as ADHD in my 20s), I had spent every waking moment of my life caring what other people think: How people perceive me. Whether I’m pretty enough, or likeable. It also does not help when you socialise with some of the most beautiful looking women with great personalities!

The problem was that I cared so much about how I was perceived that I had become over the years, a very bitter and cynical person. I held hatred and grudges against people for way too long, I always saw the negative in things. Made negative comments about people I was envious of. You know how they always say ‘people who speak badly of you are just compensating for their own insecurities’? Well, I was those people.

It took me a long time to see it, but that was me. I acknowledged that this was who I was, and this enabled me to grow as a person. However, I found myself still having bitter envious thoughts while using social media. To the point it was becoming a natural obsession. I would post a picture on Instagram and obsessively keep checking back every four minutes to see if it had any new likes, it did not matter that Iliked the picture and that is why I posted it. If there’s not enough likes then it means absolutely nothing. I was craving validation from everyone on social media, even complete strangers. I would post a nice selfie that got on average 40 likes, but then a day later I would see a post from my more popular, beautiful friend, and see that all the friends we mutually know that didn’t like my posts always liked hers, and I would have this bitter twinge in my stomach, this complete bitter notion of ‘why is she better than me?’.

The thing is, when you have been battling low self-esteem your whole life, these thoughts will always come naturally to you. I know I am not the only person here who has felt like this either, I think the issue we have with social media now is that this is a lot more common. There are memes everywhere on a regular basis being shared about how likes should not validate you and you should stop comparing your dark days to another person’s highlight reel, but we still do. It was on this sleepless night while scrolling through these app’s at 2am that I decided to remove social media from my phone for a month and see what I could learn.

Real Life Lessons

The first few days of the 4.5-week experiment were hard. I realised just how much I had been addicted to the use of these apps. One morning, about three days in, I had put my facemask on to walk to the station because it was freezing, realised that it was a handy tool to have to keep you warm in the winter and my first initial thought was ‘If I had twitter, I could have tweeted that’. I recognised this thought straight away and re-addressed to myself that I didn’t need to post everything on social media.

But the first week and a half was more difficult than I suspected. I then decided to set myself some goals to pre-occupy my time from social media. Being a bookworm and someone who is always dreaming of being a writer, I used to moan about not having time to read all my books or have time to write. But what I learnt when I didn’t have social media to fall back on was that I had plenty of time available to me, I just chose to use it on something pointless. In the few weeks without those two apps, I read six books. Before I started this break, I think I had read around five books in total since January! It amazed me how much time I had to read, and the limits were endless. It just goes to show how much we can use social media as an unnecessary escapism from real-life.

Identity Issues

One of the most important things I had learnt from my break from social media, was that I had cared so much about the opinions of others, that I had slipped away from my own identity.

I wanted to be liked so badly and ‘fit in’ that in the last couple of years I started to try and be more ‘girly’, but not in the girly sense I was used to. I started buying more feminine patterns and the kind of clothes you see in boutique stores that all the girls are wearing. Let me tell you, a lot of that stuff doesn’t particularly go well with someone who has half of their porcelain skin covered in gothic and nerdy tattoos.

The more other people noticed my posts with more girly appearances, the more I tried to fit in to it. In my time away from social media I realised how much I depressed myself when I looked in the mirror. I was the opposite of everything that I liked. I am the girl who always likes eyelash extensions and bold colour lipsticks, my clothes were always red and black – my favourite colours.

But I was starting to pose around in floral jumpsuits and cream knitted dresses and all I learnt from that was that it was not me, and I was unhappy. So, I did a clear out of all the stuff that was not me and went back to my ‘gothic’ roots. What I learnt as well was when I looked in the mirror and thought I looked good, because I wasn’t posting a picture on Instagram for validation, I felt good throughout the day. It is amazing what not seeking validation can do for your mental health.

Going forwards…

My social media break taught me a lot, and of course, I do still use it and post a selfie or a tweet. But what I do differently now is remind myself to be kind and that likes don’t make you more attractive. Of course, there is still the odd moment where I get that jealous twang when I feel like I can’t look as good as someone else or be as popular, but when I have that twang, I just take a breath and move on.

 It is okay to be jealous time to time, it is a natural feeling, but what we need to do is acknowledge that we should not have to feel that way and move on. I also find that complimenting other people’s posts and achievements makes me feel better about myself also. It is true what they say, being kind can do wonders for your mental health.

So, when I use social media now, I make sure that I remember that I am posting things because I like them, and it does not matter what other people think. Being true to yourself on social media is the best thing you can do.

PTSD & Dating…

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition caused by a traumatic experience. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, feeling very anxious and difficulty sleeping.

So this entry is an interesting personal piece I wanted to write about, it may be a bit lengthy but it’s something I really want to address and talk about. As someone who has experienced this scenario. For personal reasons, I am not going to go in to full detail about the ‘events’ as I don’t want to upset anyone I know or open up a new can of worms. But here it is..

I had a horrific experience happen to me when I was in my late teens. It was something I went through with some people I barely knew and it was a few multiple things that happened that have traumatised me years later.

The interesting thing about PTSD, is that it isn’t always immediate. Sometimes PTSD can creep up on you later in life when you don’t expect it to…

When the trauma initially happened to me, I walked away from the event partly blaming myself and a bit shaken but I didn’t really react to it in any way. In fact, I was quite open about my experience with lots of people like it was some normal day-to-day thing and had a good couple of years of enjoying life like things had never happened.

The PTSD lurked it’s head when I started having proper relationships with men.

Before I’d hit the age of 21 I had only really had brief relationships with men. As in you call someone your boyfriend for a week or so and then have a rowdy drink-related break up and that’s that. It was in my 20’s I started going into the long relationship process. It was then that I found that what had happened to me was now starting to have a negative effect on my life. Not only was getting close to another man giving me flash backs and insecurities, but I had also developed a psychological physical condition as a result that meant I struggle to get intimate with a man. It’s not impossible, it’s just a process that takes a lot of time and patience.

PTSD is something I hadn’t really heard of until I acknowledged something was wrong with me because I couldn’t just jump into bed with my boyfriend like most ‘normal’ girls so I sought medical help.

It was then that I learnt about the effects of PTSD. After multiple tests and counselling over the years I was advised that there was nothing physically wrong with me and it was all psychological. When I got a copy of a referral letter sent to me from a medical professional, they spoke about me suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from an event in my past. I initially thought they were being over dramatic as I always thought PTSD was a much more serious situation, you always see in films and TV shows about people having it from wars and they’re all sitting in corners crying and having the shakes etc. I wasn’t like that. But the further research I did in to it, the more I realised how complex, like many mental health conditions, PTSD is.

Adjusting to the condition that I had and understanding the effect it would have on my potential relationships wasn’t the real issue I had though. The dating aspect was the part that was physically and emotionally difficult.

The problem is, without trying to be sexist here, men do naturally expect sex and intimacy quite early on when they meet someone. Sometimes on the first meeting even. (I do completely get that women out there are like this too, but I’m a straight woman so my experiences are only with men). When you are a woman with PTSD, specifically in relation to events involving men, this is an awful predicament to be in.

Doctors and nurses kept telling me “the right guy will understand and support you”. But sadly, we live in a generation where people are much more fussy and are more sexual beings than romantic (from what I’ve found anyway), so even in events where I thought the right man was understanding, the truth is they weren’t. At all.

Now, I am not going on to a massive rant like ‘all my exes are dicks’ etc. They all had good and bad qualities, as I am sure they would say about me. But in each relationship, I learnt how much issues with intimacy can effect the other person. Not that I agree with every reaction they have had (one ex told me he thought I was faking it and was just frigid, one snapped at me one day out of nowhere for not getting laid and another drunkenly told me he’d rather me be dead because of the lack of sex) but I have to have some empathy as well in this situation. People in this day and age are very sexually active individuals, and sex is important to validate a relationship. Men get horny. They have needs. To them, I was out of order for not trying harder to make them happy.

I spent many months in tears over the situation that I am in, and how exes reacted and blaming myself for something that was beyond my control. I have had many sleepless nights over it all. Not to mention, the amount of anxiety I experience when I start chatting to a new man hoping for something to develop. There’s always the panic attacks of ‘when is a good time to tell them the truth?’, ‘what if he’s only after one thing?’, ‘how can I put this across in a way that he would still want to be with me?’.

It is a constant vicious circle. That I experience over and over again. Every time I meet someone new. And I constantly have those awkward conversations at family or friend event parties. People always asking me when I will end up with someone, not realising how much of a trigger that actually is. I can’t really explain that the really nice boyfriend everyone liked is no longer with me because I’m apparently shit at giving him what he needs.

The one thing I wanted to express from this post is that people really need to bear a lot of things in mind when it comes to dating other people. Boundaries are extremely important. You need to be honest with whoever you aim to date about your intentions.

I would also like to express a very important fact here that no one seems to appreciate often enough:

No matter who you are with or how serious you are, how long you’ve been together, what they wore that night or that they said they would earlier… YOU NEVER EVER HAVE ‘RIGHTS’ TO ANOTHER PERSON’S BODY. THAT PERSON’S BODY IS THEIR OWN AND ALWAYS WILL BE.

If someone is having issues getting intimate with you, or has reservations about certain things, respect them. If you can’t, then quite frankly you are an arsehole. And I address this to men and women because I have heard women also state on many occasions that they’re holding the rights to have intimacy whenever they want with a guy and badmouthing them when they don’t get it. It’s not always that black and white guys, show some respect.

This story doesn’t currently have a happy ending. I’m still single. Still always dating the ‘wrong guy’. But I am growing as a person from my experiences, I’m trying to handle this all in my own way. The one positive thing I have got from the past experiences is that now, if a guy gets moody about my boundaries, I leave. I no longer hurt myself physically and emotionally by trying to please someone because I am so desperate for someone to just love me for more than just my body. And the thing is, everyone should have that respect for themselves. Know what your worth. The right people are going to also know your worth. And respect it.

Poem & Prose Corner 2…

Here is a little something I wrote about unrequited love… it’s not based on anyone in particular, this is just an experience we are all too familiar with throughout our lives and I felt the need to write about it….

Unrequited by Zoë Allard

I have wanted you forever

You’re in my thoughts from day to day

All of these romantic things,

I hoped that you would say…

When I wake in the morning

I look around the room

I think of what could happen

If I were not just to presume..

And as I sit and contemplate

It took so long to see

That the one you want to be with

Was never to be me.

Poem & Prose Corner 1


I want to feel something,

Any feeling would do,

Even if it’s the bad one’s,

I feel when I think of you.

It makes me feel nothing,

Except some numb and fixed state,

To not depend on it’s actions,

I guess I will have to wait.

I find it rather alarming,

As I sit here in the still,

That one day I will no longer depend on,

This tiny old white pill.

And here is the start…

Where to begin? I’ve made this little corner after a really shit 2020. The pandemic screwed me up physically and mentally, as I am sure it did many people. As someone who has battled mental health problems since as far as they can remember, the pandemic definitely didn’t make things any easier. But there was a plus side to this pandemic, right? This whole Covid-19 situation has made a lot of us sit back and re-evaluate a lot of things: How we’ve taken all the normal day-to-day things for granted, How much we love our friends who we barely got to see, Things could be worse, the list goes on. But one thing a lot of people have been questioning, myself included, is what we’re doing with ourselves.

Enter October 2020, after being put back on sertraline by the GP’s and having many MANY months of up and down anxious feelings.. I finally bit the bullet and decided to enroll finally on a comprehensive writing course. Writing’s always been something that I’m very passionate about. I write pretty much most of the time, whether it be journal entries (yes, I have one of those), poems, random ideas for stories, short stories, I figured giving myself a kick up the butt after decades of wishing I could would give me the boost I needed.

It’s going okay so far, my tutor gives good feedback to my stuff. But I also needed an avenue to write about stuff which is where I came up with the idea for this blog. I want somewhere that I can just post about everything and anything. Crap poems I’ve written, day-to-day thoughts, mental health related stuff, who knows. No-one actually has to spend all their time reading this if they don’t want to. I write as much as I talk – which is a lot. But if you do read this, thank you, and I hope you enjoy it…

If you’re wondering why I chose the name of this blog… it’s because it was the closest description of how I feel right now that I could think of. I am working on positive attitudes and outlooks and a lot of people who work with me or hang around me describe me as a hyper/happy/bouncy person, but deep down I’m a cynical individual. (A lot of the reasons why I’m so cynical is because of numerous negative experiences I have had, but we’ll touch on that some other time, maybe.) and as for the 35 part… well, that’s how old I’ll be in May 2021 so I just figured why not.

More updates soon.