What do you wish you were taught at school?

A surprisingly regular topic of conversation among my social circle is how, as aspiring adults, we wish we had been taught about certain things at school (like mental wellbeing, mortgages and how to ask for a payrise) and how different our lives could be if we had been better prepared to navigate some of the nuances of adulthood when we ventured out into the “real world”. I was really curious as to whether this was something that other people thought about and, if so, what they thought our education was missing and so…

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I asked the Internet “What do you wish you were taught at school?”

And I picked out the duplicates from HUNDREDS of responses and compiled this awesome list of things you wish you’d been taught at school.

A couple of people did respond to some of these suggestions to say something like “tHiS iS a PaReNtS’ jOb” and I get it, I do, but it’s important to remember that not all kids come from homes where the parents are willing, able or equipped to pass this stuff on to their children; not all parents know this stuff themselves and some kids don’t have parents at all. I personally think that society works best when children are educated equally, so that they could move into their adult lives on as level a playing field as possible.

Exam results and grades are a good way of monitoring kids’ progress, but how useful are they really for the actual children and young adults? I firmly believe that schools should be preparing kids as much for living independently, functioning in society and navigating the workplace as much as they are preparing them for Higher Education and it seems that most of you feel as strongly about this as I do.

I’ve grouped the responses I received into 4 categories: Financial, Health & Wellbeing, Social Skills & Relationships and Misc. Also a giant shout out to the person who said they wished they were taught Defence Against the Dark Arts because… well just because really. Looking at this list, I actually think a lot of these topics (especially the communication related ones) could be started as early as primary (elementary) school.

Whoever is in charge of the curriculum (because nobody taught me that either) take note, we have some serious feedback for you.

Things we weren’t taught at school but wish we had been

FInancial

  • How to balance a checkbook

  • How the stock market works

  • How investments work

  • About different taxes

  • How to pay bills

  • What a mortgage is

  • How to pay rent

  • About credit ratings

  • Household budgeting

  • Self employment and related tax returns/expenses

  • How to start a business

  • Applying for loans/grants

  • Storecards and Credit Cards

  • Understanding interest rates

  • Debt education

  • Banking and different types of accounts

Health & Wellbeing

  • Mental Health Awareness

  • Self Care

  • When to seek medical advice

  • Sexual Health

  • First Aid (physical and mental)

  • CPR

  • Emotional skills (e.g. how to cope with failure)

  • Coping with Trauma

  • About the female orgasm

  • Reproductive health

  • Masturbation

  • Proper period education (including what’s normal and what isn’t)

  • Eating disorder education

  • Body confidence

  • Self Esteem

  • Puberty in both genders FOR both genders

  • Meditation and Mindfulness

  • How important it is to nourish your body

  • How important it is to rest your body

  • How to be kind to yourself

Social Skills & Relationships

  • Emotional literacy

  • Boundaries

  • How to behave in a workplace

  • How to deal with bullying

  • How to deal with bullying in the workplace

  • How to say no (in many situations)

  • History of different cultures and societies

  • Unbiased religious education

  • History of women

  • Sexuality

  • Consent

  • That sex can be recreational and not only for reproduction/love

  • The differences between abusive and healthy relationships

  • How to spot an abusive relationship

  • LGBT+ education

  • Gender studies

  • How to have healthy relationships

  • How to stay married

  • Empathy

  • How to be kind

Other

  • Basic plumbing

  • How to run a home

  • Different languages from a younger age

  • Basic engineering

  • Philosophy

  • Moral ethics

  • Basic cookery (that is practical)

  • How to apply for jobs

  • Basic Law for the country you live in

  • Politics

  • International politics

  • Public speaking

  • Meal planning

  • Basic DIY

  • True history (including the atrocities committed by our home countries)

  • Survival skills

  • Gardening

  • How to sew a button (and other Home Ec stuff)

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Well gang, what do you think? Is there anything else you’d like to have been taught at school but weren’t? Do you agree with the list? Do you think there’s a more effective way of delivering this kind of education without further burdening our schools? Are there any things you were taught but feel you could have done without? Are you a teacher? - if so, what do you think?

I read all comments and try to respond to as many as I can, so feel free to drop bits of your brain below - or come @ me over on Twitter, where I spend 99.99% of my day (because I was never taught any better…)

with love,

Anneli xoxo

Netflix & Chill: 10 Shows for Your Tough Days

When I’m feeling a post-anxiety slump or life is getting on top of me, I like nothing more than a good PJ day with my dog and a decent takeaway. It’s 2019 and I feel like Netflix has become a staple part of any kind of day spent indoors and I’m sure many of you, like me, couldn’t imagine life without it.


To celebrate the launch of Panasonic’s OLED 4K TV, they asked me “what are you favourite binge-worthy shows?” and, as someone who has relied on box sets to see me through some of my absolute WORST times, I was more than ready to give it a go.


10 Netflix* Shows to see you through the tough times:


1. Crazy Ex Girlfriend


I haven’t recommended this show to a single person who hasn’t LOVED it. The brilliant Rachel Bloom wrote the show and also stars as Rebecca Bunch in this satirical musical comedy. Doug, my dog initially chose this show (I kid you not, when he was a teeny pupper the show auto-played on Netflix and it was THE ONLY thing that would soothe him to sleep), but it turns out that Doug has some pretty solid taste in TV because, 2 or 3 episodes in, I became totally hooked. Seriously, I dare you to watch 3 episodes and not be sold.

Aside from the outrageous plot, the series will expose you to some of the catchiest parody tunes of all time and if you don’t know the UTI song off by heart by the end of series 1, then I don’t know who you are or what you stand for - or if I even want to know anymore. The show also tackles mental health issues head on in series 3 and manage to keep it comedic but also very real.

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2. Gilmore Girls

I am firmly of the belief that there isn’t a single one of life’s problems that isn’t answered somewhere in an episode of Gilmore Girls. In fact, even if I have found one from time to time, I’m sure that letting me sink into the small-town-America life that is the weird and wonderful Stars Hollow has been comforting and distracting enough to give me at least temporary relief fro the problem.

For those of you who haven’t seen it (why?!) it’s absolutely the most reliable box set for being heartwarming, uplifting and trigger-free. If you have seen it, who is your favourite character? (any answer that isn’t Kirk is WRONG.)

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3. QI

The BBC’s QI (Quite Interesting) has been a long time fave of mine. It helped me through some super tough times and is funny AND educational. It does make for some seriously annoying quiz moments though when you realise that a bunch of the things the whole world assumes to be true are absolutely NOT. Watch it for the banter between Alan Davies and my ‘real dad’ Stephen Fry, and later Sandi Toksvig, if nothing else.

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4. Jonathan Creek

I LOVE detective shows. I could probably have just listed a bunch of police dramas and detective shows and shut my laptop, but I really wanted to give you guys some options (because NOT listening to my recommendations is absolutely not one of the options available to you). So instead I have chosen my absolute number 1 must-watch detective show and it’s Jonathan Creek.

Most episodes are stand alone mysteries, with inventor of magic tricks, Jonathan Creek, deliciously unravelling the details surrounding a case, until he has worked out whodunnit and how. If you enjoyed the thought process of Sherlock Holmes, you will absolutely love this show.

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5. Peep Show

This show is addictive. I think I’ve watched Peep Show from start to finish 4 or 5 times now and it’s just pure gold. It’s relatable and cringey and uncomfortable and awkward and everything you now know me to be. I would honestly LOVE to share a flat with the main characters, Mark and Jez. Also, what a theme tune.


6. The Good Place

A fairly new addition to my list, because it’s a fairly new show but WOW this one is such easy watching, feel good, sweet TV. The plot is twisty and unpredictable, the concept is bizarre but brilliant and the cast are stellar - I can’t NOT watch Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al Jamil and Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop might be the biggest crush I had in 2018.

The show also brings you a whole new level of swearing, and who wouldn’t want that?  (Son of a bench)

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7. You, Me, Her

This show is a beautifully relatable exploration of polyamory and female bisexuality. It’s also seriously hot. You, Me, Her follows a married couple as they attempt to navigate the highs and lows of opening their relationship up to newcomer, Issy, who they’ve both fallen for. The show perfectly balances a gripping and interesting plot with honesty and awkwardness that all relationships encounter in one way or another.

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8. Miranda

This show seems to be like Marmite although I can’t understand why some people are so put off by it and I personally find it hilarious. I love the over-the-top farse style comedy and actually find Miranda uncomfortably easy to relate to. This show got me through a really tricky break up when I was younger - the utter ridiculousness of it is the perfect antidote to real life woes.

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9. RuPaul’s Drag Race

You haven’t lived until you’ve watched Drag Race. A good friend introduced me to this show and it has become one of my staples. The advice they gave me was “Start at series 4, work forward and then go back and watch the first 3” and they were so right about this - so I’ll pass that on to you now.

Keep your eye out for some of my favourite queens: Adore Delano, Bianca Del Rio, Aquaria, Ivy Winters, Alaska and PEARL LIAISON (who is just so dreamy, both in and out of drag) and please let me know what you think.

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10. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

This show is about 4 terrible people who own and run a bar together and it is hilarious from the off - it gets even better after Danny Devito joins the cast in series 2. I became so obsessed with this show that I spent one New Year’s Eve recreating the famous Chardee MacDennis game that the gang play and believe me when I say:

You should absolutely do this

You should absolutely NOT do this

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I mean both of these pieces of advice sincerely.

How about you? What are your go-to shows of choice? I had to leave loads of faves off this list and it made me v sad not to include some of them (Mock the Week, anyone?). If you have a favourite show for rough times and tough days, I’d love to hear it - please leave a comment below!

with love,

anneli xoxo

#Ad: This post has been paid for by Panasonic, but the content/ viewpoint is my own and has not been influenced in any way. I do not get a PPC commission from you clicking on the embedded link to their website and will not receive any reimbursement if you make a purchase, after being referred from my site.

* also worth noting that I am a resident of the UK and all of these shows are currently available on UK Netflix, but may not be available in your country of residence.




"I felt like I was living a double life - I knew the world needed to be different." - Cara's Story

When I saw that Cara was up for writing some guest posts for other blogs/websites, I knew I just HAD to snap her up. She’s one of my absolute favourite writers, campaigners and people. Not just because she’s so open and powerful, but also because she’s a truly wonderful human being. I was lucky enough to meet her back in November and I fell totally in love with her heart. It’s such a lovely feeling when people you meet online turn out to be just as fucking real and awesome in real life as you expected them to be, and that definitely was the case here. I could waffle for days about how incredible I think this girl is, but I’m just going to hand over to Cara now and let her speak for herself…


Cara Lisette: A story of Recovery and Resilience

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I have always struggled with the space I take up – I remember feeling acutely aware of my body and the size it was from a very young age and began comparing myself to others around that time. That was where my eating disorder dug its claws in, and by the time I was 13 in was out in full force. I became incredibly depressed as a young teenager and started self harming with an ever increasing frequency to manage it. I developed anorexia and went into full crisis mode. I was always an intelligent and academic child, but I started getting kicked out of school, drinking excessively, running away from home – I was in a complete tailspin and felt powerless to stop myself from what I was doing. Eventually, after many months, I only saw one way out. Death. At the age of 15 I made my first and only suicide attempt, which landed me in a psychiatric hospital for the next six months.

Although it was a terrible thing to have happened, it was also a complete turning point for me. I was in a place where I could get the help that I needed, and I met some of the most incredible, dedicated and wonderful nurses during that time. I left feeling like a different person – I didn’t self harm any more, I wasn’t as sad, I had hope for myself.

With that said, I didn’t really recover from any of my eating difficulties, and I spent the next 7 years oscillating between anorexia and bulimia. I had treatment in the community for anorexia twice and was last discharged in 2013, maintaining recovery on my own since that time.

I was doing well and I was back on track. I was working in mental health care and had decided that I wanted to become a mental health nurse like those who had looked after me in hospital. I was in college, trying to get the qualifications I needed that I never achieved in school, when I got hit by another bout of severe depression, but eventually I came out the other side and was lucky enough to be accepted to university to study for my nursing degree. Everything seemed like it was going okay, until my second year when I had a manic episode. I had an assessment with the mental health team and after answering a few questions, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Suddenly a HUGE amount of my life made sense – there is so much of my behaviour that adds up now over the last 15 years of my life. It was terrifying and horrible and upsetting, but also an enormous relief. That diagnosis opened up a whole new world of options for me including different medication, which has hands down changed my life. I had to go through a few different options and experienced feeling completely zombified on some and completely wired on others, but eventually I got the right combination for me.

I worked hard at uni and graduated with the highest grades in my year. I got my dream job in a team working with young people in crisis, and my manager is the very nurse who cared for me in hospital and inspired me to choose this as my career.

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Would I say I am fully recovered from anorexia? No, but then after so many years with it I’m not sure I ever will be. I don’t actively use any unhealthy behaviours, but that voice is still there sometimes – I’m getting much better at ignoring it though. And although I have had bipolar relapses, overall I am medicated well, I see the mental health team regularly and I am happy and healthy.

I wasn’t always this open, candid person I am today though. I spent years feeling embarrassed and ashamed of my mental health history, especially the fact that I had been in hospital. I constantly felt like I was living a double life and I was always paranoid that somehow somebody would find out and I would lose my job. However, when I decided I was going to be a nurse, I realised that I never wanted my patients to feel as I felt – I didn’t want them to be ashamed. And for that to happen, I knew that the world needed to be different. I saw a small but rapidly growing movement around me trying to fight stigma and discrimination, and I had an overwhelming urge to be part of it. After doing a bit of research and watching things from the side lines, I was lucky enough to join the team at Time To Change. I travelled the country sharing my story with people, and my confidence grew. A couple of years later I discovered Twitter and found this amazing community of people who felt the same way that I did, and that’s when I was inspired to start my blog. I realise I alone am not going to change the world, but being part of a huge group of incredible people who are makes me feel that I’m doing something worthwhile.

I don’t ever want people to feel like they can’t achieve things because of their mental health; that’s one the reasons I started my blog. If even one person hears my story and gains a little but of hope or self belief, then I’ve done my job.



Read more from Cara over on her blog (caras-corner.com), browse her Etsy Shop for cute finds and follow her on instagram (@carascorner) - seriously follow her everywhere. This girl is incredible.

118 Things to Try if you're Feeling Anxious

Sometimes anxiety gets the better of us - even if you aren’t living with an anxiety disorder, you will all have experienced anxiety as an emotion AND guess what?! That’s perfectly normal. Anxiety is an instinctive and important response to danger that was once a key part of survival and is pretty handy today. So just quickly then, what is anxiety?

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Well it’s your body responding to a perceived threat and flooding with adrenaline - it essentially prepares you for battle or running away (fight or flight). Pretty handy, huh? The problems start when your body is flooded with the adrenaline when there is no immediate danger (or at least you can’t figure out what has triggered it) and it happens so regularly that it starts to overwhelm us and affect our day to day lives. Anyyyyway, chances are if you’re reading this, you already know all this fuckery - but I do want to reiterate that you’re not abnormal if you’re experiencing this, it isn’t your fault and you are certainly NOT ALONE. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 of us have a disabling anxiety disorder*.

Seeing as it’s something that affects so many of us (nice to meet you, take a seat), I thought it might be an idea to put our heads together and pool our knowledge and so I took to Twitter (of course) and asked THUS:

What do you do to distract yourself from anxiety?

I know there are plenty of head on ways of dealing with anxiety and treatment methods that are tried, tested and pretty successful - but sometimes, mid-panic, all we can do is distract our little brains and hope for the best. If you’re trying desperately to take your mind off things, here are some tips and suggestions (from actual real life people, living with real life anxiety disorders - come fuck with us on Twitter, we’re nice!). Y’all came through!

118 Things to Try When You’re Feeling Anxious

  1. Watching YouTube

  2. Twitter

  3. Listening to Audio Books

  4. Eating Noodles (me, obvs)

  5. Riding a motorbike

  6. Having a nap

  7. Meditation

  8. Grounding Techniques

  9. Getting into nature

  10. Walking around a quiet shop

  11. Playing Candy Crush

  12. Epsom Salt Bath

  13. Lavender Essential Oil

  14. Colouring

  15. Jogging on a treadmill

  16. Writing

  17. Chamomile tea

  18. Cleaning

  19. Making handmade chocolates

  20. Painting rocks and hiding them around your local town

  21. Cutting the grass

  22. Breathing exercises

  23. Drinking water

  24. Having a snack

  25. Showering

  26. Working out

  27. Reading

  28. Helping someone without getting caught doing it

  29. Make videos on how you are feeling

  30. Make positive lists

  31. Using the “Calm” app

  32. Hiking barefoot

  33. Shaking your head

  34. Browsing Reddit

  35. Listening to music

  36. Running

  37. Computer Games

  38. Snuggling your pet

  39. Reflection

  40. Listening to the Pigletish Podcast (yay! thank you so much guys!!!!)

  41. Polishing glasses

  42. Calling family/friends

  43. Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast

  44. Singing to yourself

  45. Knitting

  46. Getting off social media

  47. Table Football

  48. Face masks

  49. Deep breathing

  50. Squishing soft things

  51. Repeating positive mantras

  52. Visualising your anxiety leaving

  53. Walking in the woods

  54. Watching a horror movie

  55. Watching the West Wing

  56. Standing in the cold

  57. Having a hot bath

  58. ASMR

  59. Deep breathing

  60. Yoga

  61. Making Art

  62. Watching your favourite TV show

  63. Going out for coffee alone

  64. Meeting a friend for a coffee

  65. Tai Chi

  66. Needle felting

  67. CBD oil

  68. Stretching

  69. Doing the chores

  70. Cooking

  71. Baking

  72. Crocheting

  73. DIY

  74. Editing videos or images

  75. Playing Glo Grid

  76. Watching a comedy

  77. Praying

  78. Lighting candles

  79. Making a nest

  80. Studying neuroscience (or focusing your mind in another way)

  81. Listening to radio 4

  82. Netflix

  83. Watching Friends

  84. Going for a walk

  85. Learning a language on duolingo

  86. Following @pigletish (awwww thanks @DeborahMcGuir20, I love you!)

  87. The sync your breathing gif (see bottom of page)

  88. Spending time with family/friends

  89. Volunteering

  90. Chewing gum

  91. Noticing your surroundings

  92. Accomplishing little tasks

  93. Eating dark chocolate

  94. Reading Laurell K Hamilton (fantasy romance)

  95. Playing guitar

  96. Building self confidence

  97. Giving food to the homeless

  98. Counting

  99. Blogging

  100. Writing about anxiety

  101. Making a donation

  102. Encouraging someone else

  103. Talking to someone you trust about your feelings

  104. Hugging a pillow

  105. Getting into bed

  106. Getting out of bed

  107. Reading articles

  108. Window shopping online

  109. Doodling

  110. Painting

  111. Drawing

  112. Taking a staycation in a local hotel (boujie)

  113. Rescuing a dog or a horse (honestly, you people are fucking fancy)

  114. Going to a restaurant

  115. Swimming

  116. Going to the library (nice!)

  117. Reflexology

  118. Acceptance

 
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There are some solid favourites of mine on that list (as well as some things I may try; I personally can’t imagine anything more distracting than rescuing a horse - do they mean adoption or like from a lake?). One thing I would say is that years of panicking has told me that it’s important not to try too hard to fight it, so while some people may be at home in a social situation or find comfort in a restaurant - during an anxiety attack is NOT the time to push your limits. It’s cool just to eat pizza in bed. Please try to work with your anxiety, not against it - pick your battles and build up your ability to meditate/exercise and practice mindfulness in your calm moments.

I’m so happy that so many of you made suggestions… also someone did ask me what I do if I wake up anxious in the middle of the night and I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again:

AUDIOBOOKS.

AUDIOBOOKS.

AUDIOBOOKS.

with love,

anneli

*Anxiety FAQ from Anxiety UK

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Blogging: How Do I Make My Money?

Recently I’ve been tagged in a fair few posts on Twitter by wannabe bloggers asking “how do you make money from blogging?”, so I thought I’d give you that sweet hot tea in the form of this article.

“How do you make money from blogging?”

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It’s a fair question right? And an important one at that. Hell, if you’re new to the blogging community and you’re looking up all starry eyed at some of your favourite “famous” bloggers, you might be under the impression that you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from sponsored content and paid-for extended stays in the swankiest hotels, but, unless you’re extremely lucky, you’re in for a rude awakening. A more apt question to ask your fave bloggers would be “how do you spend your money?” because blogging is expensive and knowing where to invest your cash (and where not to) is actually pretty damn important.

With over 360 million blogs on Tumblr alone, it’s fair to say that blogging is no longer a niche or specialist hobby and simply being “a blogger” won’t be enough to make you stand out. But hey, I’m not here to teach you how to blog - let’s face it; there are millions of people out there who are more qualified than me - I’d just like to share some deets with you about how I make my money and maybe save you some time skipping some of the many mistakes that I’ve made.

First of all though, a quick rant on how fucking hard it is to be a blogger in 2019 and why I think that is.


How fucking hard it is to be a blogger in 2019 and why I think that is.

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The press love us don’t they? tHeY jUsT LoVe uS. The main stream media like to lump bloggers under one big umbrella that paints us all as cold hearted, money grabbing, clout chasing hypocrites who push products we’ve never even seen on audiences that we don’t really give a shit about. And there are probably bloggers like that out there. There are HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of bloggers in the world and I challenge you to pull together that amount of people working in any industry and not come up with the names of at least a few of them who are both successful AND arseholes. C’est Impossible.

In the almost 2 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve interacted with at least 1,000 other bloggers online and they are certainly not the monsters that the media would have you believe. Sure, I’ve seen some people lying about their stats, I’ve probably unknowingly supported someone who has committed “follower fraud” or failed to disclose a #spon - but, for the most part, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a friendly and supportive community of hustlers, most of whom don’t spend 6 hours a day instagramming smashed avocado (and even if they did - you do you, boo).

It probably helps that most of the bloggers I fuck with are writing about mental health, disability, body positivity, equality, feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, chronic illness or some other form of social advocacy; and these are just not subjects most people looking to make a quick buck would touch with a barge pole. Most of the bloggers I’ve met became bloggers because they had something that they wanted to say, whether that be a campaign for change that they wanted to push or just a love for a particular topic. Some bloggers love writing, some love food, some love make up, some love journalling about their lives and inviting you in - most bloggers don’t make profit from their blogs - and the idea that they don’t care about their audience is complete bs.

“Influencer Marketing” is NOT a new phenomenon. Celebs and Magazines have been given gifts and fees for sharing their “favourite products” for years - so of course they don’t like it when a bunch of independents come in and take a slice of that pie, all while working for themselves. If you’ve spent months or even years following a blogger or influencer and you feel like you know them, like them and trust them - chances are you are right about them. Integrity isn’t easily faked and if someone was in it for the wrong reasons, you would have seen it by now. Most bloggers I know wouldn’t dream of recommending something they didn’t believe in to their audience; when you ARE your own brand, the buck stops with you.


Multiple Revenue Streams

I’m not lucky enough (or talented enough, probably) to be paid for my words alone, which means that I’ve had to make dollar elsewhere. Money isn’t guaranteed when you work for yourself and the best way to make sure you can pay your rent and afford your noodles is to have as many income streams as possible. I’ve perfected my hustle now and can just about afford to toss some veg in with those noodles, but let me tell you - this is not a lucrative game and I am not anywhere near rolling in it. Here are some of the ways I have made money over the last 2 years.

DONATIONS

Yup. This isn’t a real proud moment for me, but a lot of my money has come from straight up asking for my followers’ support. Y’all have seen how much work I put in to changing the narrative around mental health and up until the last 6 months or so every single penny I’d made from Pigletish had come directly from you guys. I’m very lucky in that you have always been able to see the value in the work I do (even when I haven’t) and that some of you have even gone as far as to part with your hard earned cash to buy me a coffee and show your support. Thank you for keeping me in caffeine.

Patreon

Omg. My tribe, my oxygen, my people. My recovery from PTSD has been a road and a half so far and, along the way, I’ve met some angels - some of these angels have chosen to pledge a small monthly amount of money to become a pigletish VIP (very important piglet) and access content and updates that nobody else gets to see. This is the ONLY guaranteed income I know will come in each month, so I am eternally grateful to these folk.

 
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Affiliate Links

There are various sites where bloggers can become affiliates of certain brands - I personally have only ever shared affiliate links to 1 brand on my site and I’ve made a grand total of $7 from doing so. FYI - the brand was Amazon’s Audible and I would (and do) refer people to them all the time for free because of the difference audiobooks have made to my mental health. Some bloggers use affiliate links really well and can make some considerable cash from this, but I don’t think I’ve ever really fully committed to this way of making money and try not to advertise too much to people who are looking to read about ways they can improve or maintain their mental health.

Sponsored Posts

When I first started blogging, I spent a lot of time pitching to brands that I was super excited to work with to no avail - my stats and engagement were not where these brands needed them to be and I was faced with a whole bunch of polite but self-esteem-sucking rejection e-mails that left me totally convinced that I’d never make a penny from working with brands. Around midway through last year my stats started to snowball and brands started actually approaching me - and this week I actually accepted one - my first paid post will go up this month. The reason I’m actually glad that this happened later on in my blogging career is because it forced me to find other ways of making money and I didn’t start just pushing sponsored posts out willy nilly (it’s made me super fussy about the quality of brand I am willing to work with too and I am so grateful for it).

Public Speaking, Television & Radio

A lot of my money has come from public speaking, tv and radio - opportunities that are not directly linked to my website, but that have only come my way because of the work I do for mental health awareness. These might seem like unusual ways of making cash for a blogger who is extremely nervous about the spotlight, but where anxiety hinders; passion sure as hell helps - and I feel super bad ass when I’m talking about mental health, stigma and change.

Selling My Creative Work

Mostly my art. I’m lucky to have a very supportive audience who love my mental health awareness work enough to buy my art (or maybe they love my art). I’m pretty new to the world of art, but I do find it a really handy outlet. This is probably the income stream that is least related to the blog as I don’t even post about it on the site BUT I have only sold to my own followers and I wouldn’t be in the position I am with my audience if it weren’t for my blog so… kinda?!

MErchandise

Did I mention I have merch?!?! You can buy one of my cute “It’s OK to Talk about Mental Health” tees and make sure I eat for a few days. I’m just kidding - only buy the tees if you love them please, I’ll survive. But yes, I make money selling mental health awareness merch, like I’m a fucking YouTuber who ever made more than 3 videos or something. Seriously, who do I think I am?! I love the products and designed them myself, so it really does MAKE MY DAY when someone actually buys one. Get them here if you like.


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And there you have it, that’s how I make my money from blogging. I’m sure you’re all bLoWn AwAy bY mY HuStLe AnD cReAtIvItY, LiKe i aM aCtUaLlY sTeVe fUcKiNg jObS oR sOmEtHiNg… Anyway obviously the burning question that people want to actually ask is usually:

How much does blogging actually pay?

And like 1) mind your own fucking business - but also 2) I brought it up, so I’ll at least kind of answer.

Overall, I’m definitely operating at a loss - in the 2 years since I started blogging I have spent wayyyyyyy more money than I’ve made - BUT in the last few months, I have SCRAPED by (and I do mean scraped). I’ve had money for my bills and my food - and that’s due to your kindness so fucking THANK YOU, boo. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for people reading my blog and I’ve been in some dark places during my recovery so I appreciate you all so so much.

With all that being said, blogging, podcasting and working freelance fits around my recovery - rather than my recovery fitting around my work - and that’s the way I like it. Do you blog? If so, leave some comments below about how you make your dollar - I’d love for this to be a safe space for bloggers to talk honestly about money.

with love,

Anneli

The 2018 Round Up

Hi Guys,

2018 has been a MINUTE hasn’t it. I can’t believe the year is nearly over, it feels like it’s flown by - but also so much has changed for me over the last 12 months, and I wanted to write some of it down so that I can take stock and focus on what I’d like to achieve in 2019. There have been some amazing HIGHS and some really challenging LOWS, but I’m proud of the fact that I’ve made it through. Here’s my 2018 in a nutshell.

January

  • I welcomed in the new year with three of my favourite people, Sarah, Becky and my Auntie Clare. I promised myself that I’d put my mind first this year, a journey I’d already started in 2017.

  • I visited my GP to talk about my hallucinations and flashbacks

  • I jetted off to my all time Happy Place, Orlando - honestly this holiday was one of the highlights of my life.

February

  • I spent the first half of February in Orlando, specifically Universal Studios - which is my favourite place in the world and my ultimate antidote to all the stress and tension in life.

  • On February 1st, I celebrated 1 year of knowing Billie Geena, one of the funniest and cutest people I’ve ever had the good fortune of knowing.

  • I spoke to my GP about medication, he didn’t feel it would be the right option for me - instead we spoke about the waiting list I was on for talk therapy.

  • At the end of the month I was signed off from work because I found the pressure was getting to me, work was making my PTSD worse and PTSD meant I was no longer able to do my job as well as I should have. I look back and realise that my employer should have done more to support me, as I made them very aware that I was struggling, but it can’t be helped now.

March

  • I left my full time job for good in March, finding that the emotional freedom was refreshing - but that the financial pressure was almost equally tough on my mental health.

  • I started to become afraid of leaving the house, fearing that strangers (men in particular) would attack me. I stayed in close communication with my doctor in this time and was referred for a psych assessment.

  • On March 4th I relaunched the pigletish podcast (then “pigletish talks”) with an episode about the anxiety around online dating - where Sarah and I debated how mental illness affected our romantic prospects.

  • I also celebrated my 28th birthday (I low-key HATE birthdays)

  • Sadly in March I lost a family member, we weren’t close, but it was a result of his mental health and it was something I found really difficult to deal with

  • I had a panic attack, which I documented live on Twitter - including sharing multiple photos of myself crying, when just hours before I’d been uploading highlight reel selfies.

April

  • In April I started really turning my work in mental health awareness up a notch and started working regularly on the podcast, as well as trying to empower other people to speak up

  • I wrote a piece about taking care of our mental health basics - which encourages people to celebrate the “little wins” such as being able to leave the house etc.

  • I also had my first ever podcast guest, Jake Tyler; someone who had inspired me so much when I was at some of my lowest points.

  • I also talked to Antony Butcher, Rock Band Desert Storm and recorded a Happy Birthday Sarah 3 part special of the podcast that was split over 3 days.

  • In April I received an e-mail from Stephen Fry’s PA to say that she had tried to contact me, following my letter to Stephen Fry and that he was proud of the work I was doing.

May

  • In May it was Mental Health awareness week and I recorded daily podcasts to raise awareness for those living with mental health conditions, Sarah and I also featured on the awesome “Tag Me In” podcast.

  • Virtually unable to leave the house in Sheffield, I reconnected with an old friend from school and my maternal grandparents and started to spend more and more time in the small North Wales town I grew up in. I realised that, when geographically distanced from my abuser and the city in which the abuse took place, I found myself able to enjoy life beyond the comfort of my own home. I started going back to North Wales more and more and also took up running and walking barefoot - this was probably the period of time I was most focused on my recovery.

June

  • In June I shared a tweet about mental illness that got over 29,000 likes - it was my first experience of my content going “viral” and was pretty overwhelming. It also brought me a bunch of new podcast guests and online friends and really helped me build a strong support network online. It’s always comforting to know that I’m not alone in my experiences.

  • My offline world became increasingly difficult, particularly as I felt unable to leave my home very easily, and I found myself having to call the Samaritans to talk about suicidal thoughts in mid-June.

  • I started a YouTube channel about mental health and also set up a patreon so that people could subscribe to exclusive content.

July

  • Just days before the 9th anniversary of my mum’s death, Hattie Gladwell wrote a piece about my relationship with her and what it was like to grow up with a mum who had Borderline Personality Disorder in the metro. Even though I didn’t write the piece, I couldn’t have trusted any other journalist to handle this with as much kindness and thought as Hattie did. It was a difficult subject to talk about, but I knew it was important.

  • I made the decision in July to leave Sheffield and so handed in my notice for the house I was renting. I hoped that putting some distance between myself and Sheffield would help me get control over my life back.

August

  • I took a break from the podcast and did very little work on the blog, while I sorted out the move from Sheffield. I had decided to move to Cardiff, so I could be in Wales, but also be within a couple of hours to my Dad’s house - I’d been in Sheffield for 10 years and it had been tough being so far away from my family.

  • I featured on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on August 7th - I was talking about the rise in self harm in young women, you can listen to the interview here.

  • Leaving Sheffield was absolutely heart wrenching, and I felt the familiar call of the “spiral” and unfortunately indulged it. I had many drunken nights, my first sexual experience since being free from the abusive relationship (an ill-advised threesome) and relapsed into self harm. I shouldn’t have made ANY decisions while I was so emotionally turbulent, but unfortunately I’ve always been pretty headstrong and the people around me at the time didn’t recognise that I was having a breakdown and thought that I was just enjoying myself. This period of time left scars (some visible, some not) that set my recovery back even further.

  • I moved in with my dad for a couple of weeks and started channelling all my pent up stress and anxiety into art and I started painting again.

  • I found my PTSD was at it’s worst in August, and I struggled to find a way to trust the people in my life, which is one of the major symptoms - this is still something I am struggling with now.

September

  • In September, I moved to Cardiff.

  • I also went on a week’s holiday to Cornwall with my family, where we went to visit Jamaica Inn (the setting of one of my favourite books of all time) and I got to spend plenty of time by the sea.

  • I also started working on Series 2 of the Pigletish Podcast, which was launched in October.

October

  • I launched Series 2 of the podcast and also set up a self care challenge called #SelfCareTogether, which helped us all support each other in maintaining our mental health. The sense of community was truly wonderful and I can’t thank everyone who joined in enough - you gave me so much hope.

  • Unfortunately, my mental health was not in a good place in October, I don’t think I had recovered from August (maybe I still haven’t) and I found October really hard.

  • I also found out in October 2018 that I was shortlisted for Digital Champion at the Mind Media Awards - and that I’d actually BE IN A ROOM WITH STEPHEN FRY.

  • You can also hear me talking to Maddi Mathon about my PTSD on her podcast “My Bitter Insanity”

  • OH, AND I dressed my dog up as Ariana Grande and it was everything.

November

  • In November I shared project #CareLetters with you guys and you helped me spread some joy around the world.

  • I also spoke to the Time To Change Young Champions at “Story Camp”, where I met some incredible speakers, employees and young champions and stood up and told my mental health journey in a room full of people, for the first time ever (you can see some of the photos from the day, and some 2018 highlights over on instagram)

  • I also got to go to the Mind Awards with my friends and family and got to meet some incredible advocates and people, and BTW Stephen Fry called me his “old friend” in a room full of people. What. The. Fuck. Needless to say, I cried.

  • I also started working on my first ever collection of mental health awareness merchandise, which you can browse here.

December

  • Obviously December isn’t quite over yet (I can’t wait for Christmas to be out of the way though honestly), but so far this month I’ve been recording podcasts, meeting amazing advocates, filming videos, LAUNCHING MERCH OMG WHAT and preparing to host Christmas for my family.

I know some of these “achievements” are actually pretty big fails for some people (relapses, etc), but I’m proud of myself for getting through such a turbulent year and honestly I just hope that 2019 is less eventful…

So what can you expect from me in 2019?

Well, honestly - I never like to prepare you guys to “expect” anything too specific, because I’ve found that PTSD is very unpredictable and that my recovery should ALWAYS come first.

But, in the new year, I promise you will be seeing more videos, hearing more podcasts and seeing more projects from me. I’m going to be writing blog posts less frequently, but I’ll still be putting out content AND most importantly: I’m going to be re-focusing on getting my recovery back on track (hopefully that will include some professional support!)

What do you have planned for 2019? I’d love to know. Bonus points if your goals are self care/recovery related.

It's the most turbulent time of the year

Fuck. December is hard. I don’t remember it being quite this hard last year, but I know it was. I want to be one of those bloggers who cracks on with blogmas and has the energy to put positivity into the world, but I just can’t do it right now. It takes all my energy to roll over in bed and order my favourite takeaway (which I can’t bring myself to eat, by the way - Christmas is FUN!), I’m struggling to actually do laundry, let alone review advent calendars or host the #SelfCareTogether challenge I’d planned to. It’s an actual miracle that I managed to get anything done this month, let alone launch MERCH! - that isn’t even a plug, I’m genuinely surprised I’ve got anything done. I don’t have the energy to plug.

I know I’m being overly critical of myself, I’m minimising all my achievements in my head and stressing about the 2 or 3 negative tweets I’ve seen in the last few days (only 1 of which I know was actually AIMED at me, the others were bonus tweets for my anxiety to latch on to.) I’m telling myself that not following everyone back on Twitter who follows me, makes me a bad mental health advocate, that relapsing into a bad PTSD episode makes me a bad mental health advocate and that worrying about social media content makes me a hypocrite - because I always tell everyone else not to worry. I’ve spent days lying in bed convincing myself that I’m a bad daughter, a bad friend, a bad content creator, a fraud, an imposter, a fake. I’ve been worrying about the fact that I’ve barely walked Doug, I’ve had to delegate most dog mum duties to Sarah this week. I’ve been experiencing really extreme bursts of energy, although they’re few and far between.

None of this stuff is stuff I want to admit to myself, let alone the internet.

Friday was the first day I put on “outside” clothes, even though I’d reluctantly been for a couple of walks in my leggings and giant jumpers earlier in the week. I didn’t eat ANYTHING on Tuesday. Last week I didn’t brush my hair for 2 days. On Wednesday I had to lie in the dark, because it was the only way to stop my PTSD flashbacks, and that made me want to die because I felt like a crazy person. I spent 3 hours worrying about a video I saw that implied people who said they loved their audience were liars; I feel like I do love my audience - I feel I owe them my life - what does that say about me?

And then there’s all the shit I’ve been thinking about my mum that you can bet will rear it’s ugly head whenever I’m feeling vulnerable. I lost her when I was just 19 - in 2019 it will be a WHOLE decade since I lost her. I can’t help but feel I should have been allowed the guidance and nurture of a motherly figure these last few years. I have pretty supportive family and friends, but none of them can give me quite what I need from mum - and maybe I wouldn’t even know I needed it if I wasn’t deprived of it. (I’m aware this is pretty rambly).

You wouldn’t believe it from my social media, because I’m pretty forthcoming with words of love and praise - but I really struggle with being affectionate (or at least I have done since mum died and the abusive relationship probably didn’t help any.) It feels fucking lame to admit that when I stayed with mum even when I was 19, we often used to have sleepovers in her room, with our family dog, and that I’m really missing the hugs she gave. I pride myself in being a strong and independent woman, but GOD DAMN I could do with a hug every now and again, or a pat on the head, or someone to take my face in their hands and say "hey! it’s going to be OK!”

I say all that, but I regularly shun Sarah’s hugs. I guess I’m looking for a specific kind of love. It’s so hard to put blind trust in peoples’ agendas now that I have PTSD. Even my own Dad and my best friends come under scrutiny in my traumatised brains. I suppose because mum hasn’t existed in the same world as my PTSD, she is the one person who has been immune to this scrutiny. It’s such a lonely feeling to have blind faith in one person, and that one person be gone.

Last night Sarah and I watched Dumplin’ on Netflix and after a while my ears heard me saying “God, I wish I still had a mum.” before I even knew I’d thought it. Silence.

Sarah is a person who is very helpful practically, but she’s also a deer in headlights when it comes to emotions - particularly when they are mine. I know she cares of course, our friendship is coming on for 18 years now (wow - I feel old), but she isn’t a person of many words (or many listens, for that matter), through no fault of her own, so saying it probably left me feeling just as lost as before I had.

I know that when I was in my early 20s I would have dealt with this rough patch by partying to numb the pain, but I just can’t bring myself to do that now. I already know that it will feel worse if I do and I know how exciting the top of the spiral feels, but how quickly that it is lost to chaos. And more than anything, despite my flirting with suicidal thoughts, what I really want is to live.

Have you heard of #VanLife?

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My Van Life Dream

Hey guys,

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Some of you who follow me on Twitter, may already be familiar with my goal of embarking on #VanLife in 2019, but for the rest of you, here’s the tea.

I’ve always been a little bit weird (I like to think this is endearing, but I’m sure some of the people I know will disagree) and one of the ways in which I’ve been expressing my weirdness lately is in my journey to get rid of as much of my stuff as possible and focus instead on letting ALL my emotions hang out. In 2013-2016, I found myself in a relationship that was financially, emotionally, mentally and physically abusive - I refer to this period of time as “The Dark Years” and coming to terms with life post-abuse has been one of the most challenging and scary things I’ve ever done.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching, a lot of crying on the internet and a lot of focusing on making my life as much about myself, my twitter family, the people in my life and my dog as I possibly can. I’ve had to reevaluate what is important to me and learn to communicate complex feelings and ideas in ways that are comfortable for me and easy to digest for whoever is hearing me. It’s been a MOOD.

Success is usually measured in money and job titles and academic achievements, and it’s been hard for me to adjust to the idea of measuring my success in happiness, health and human connection - but I am working on it every single day and I really think that I have finally got it down (mostly). Of course life would be financially easier if I had a 9-5 and a salary, but finances aren’t everything and I wouldn’t be where I am today (or alive, actually) if I hadn’t started examining the way I think about the world and working WITH my brain, rather than against it, which has meant that I’ve had to learn to pay myself in kindness over money and spend time building a support network of like-minded people. That’s you guys.

I want to change the narrative around mental health and I’m doing this by blogging, podcasting and tweeting about my own experiences and sharing the stories of others. I hope that, along with the other awesome advocates who I’ve grown to know and love, I can help pave the way for others to talk openly about their mental health and have “scary” conversations with the people they love about how they are feeling. It’s a tall order, but I think we’re getting somewhere.

This week I spoke to BBC Politics about the access to treatment via the NHS in the UK (specifically how long the waiting lists are), which will be featured on their website (and TV) later this week - I’ll keep you updated. I know that several of the campaigners that I fuck with on Twitter and IRL have also been banging this drum in the media recently and the Mind Media Awards were an inspiring way of connecting with a whole room of people who are working towards the goal of changing the future for those living with mental illness - it’s so awesome to be surrounded by people who are fighting the same good fight. It seems like the world is finally waking up to the reality of the impact mental health problems are having on us humans and hopefully ‘the powers that be’ are becoming more and more limited in how long they can turn a blind eye to the issue.

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Right. Enough of that, let’s talk about vans.

It’s becoming more and more obvious to me each day that the best thing any of us can do to campaign effectively is to meet up and work together. I’m a big believer in turning up the volume by all shouting the same thing at the same time - and I think that’s the most powerful way we can reach as many people as possible. So I came up with a plan.

In 2019 my goal is to convert a van into a tiny home, pack up my belongings, podcast equipment, video camera, some cheese and, most importantly, Doug (my dog) and hit the road. I want to meet as many of you as I possibly can, your stories are fucking incredible and I want to share them with the world. I’ll be trying to talk to organisations, charities and advocates about mental health and spreading their messages and ideas - podcasting and filming along the way.

The community that we’ve built together online is at the absolute heart of pigletish - and it’s going to be so cool to actually sit and drink tea with you in person.

Last week, I invited Marcus from Ministry of Change over to play for a few days and he helped me hash out my ideas for the van - he actually lives in one - and alleviated a lot of my concerns about the practicalities (he answered all of my “stupid” questions, fed me apple pie and gave me a lot of advice on the actual process of converting a van). This week I’m starting to actually plan the journey from where I am right now (my sofa) to owning and living in a tiny home on wheels.

I’m totally familiar with #VanLife on instagram. I’ve lost many hours lusting over the highlight reels of cosy fairy-lit vehicles against stunning natural backdrops - and yearning for the freedom of a simple life. But it is more than an idyllic fantasy to me. I’m aware that I’ll have some sleepless nights and I’m committed to driving around frustrated, looking for a convenient parking spot; to me the van life is going to lower my expenses and give me the flexibility I need to take the work I do to the next level. Yes, I want to meet you all. Yes, I want to take some cute instagram photos. Yes, I want to be able to take my dog with me when I work away from home. Mostly though - I want to create important content that packs a punch and draws attention to the mental health crisis. Let’s do this.

If you want to access exclusive content, be the first to hear where my plans are at and get to chat with me and ask me questions - you can sign up to my patreon page and pledge $1 a month to become a VIP (Very Important Piglet).

I love you.

anneli

It's OK to talk about mental health

Accessing the professional support we need to improve our mental health is tough. Aside from the fact that asking for help in itself is hard, in the UK (and further afield) resources are already stretched and many who are asking for help in managing their mental health conditions are being turned away. Those who are offered help are often faced with long waiting lists; I’m actually on an 8-12 month waiting list now myself and the help I will be given at the end of that wait will come from a charity, rather than the National Health Services.

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1 in 4 of us are currently diagnosed with mental health problems

At least. That figure is likely under reported, as it’s made up of people who have visited their doctor in the last year and I personally know many people who are aware they are struggling, but haven’t sought out the help they know they need.

On top of the scariness of asking for help coping with our mental health, being turned away can make us feel even worse than we did before we asked in the first place. I know that what most of us ultimately want is to see more money and resources dedicated to mental health, but, while we can campaign for that end goal, there’s little we can do to directly affect the resources are out there. So what can we do in the meantime then?

Talk about your mental health.

Talking about our mental health is not just OK; it’s important.

I’ve spent the last two years talking about mental health and mental illness and, while at time that has been tough, it’s also been beautiful and cathartic and therapeutic and energising. I’ve learned so so much. I’ve made connections with people online that I would never have met, if I hadn’t started voicing my recovery. I’ve turned some of those online connections into beautiful long distance friendships and have been fortunate enough to take some of those relationships into “real world” offline scenarios.

I’ve found people who have truly understood me and who have opened my eyes to what’s really important in life - the world we live in and the people we share that world with.

If I’d never started talking about my mental health, I would never have found a way to channel all the negative feelings and thoughts that were trapped inside me. They would have consumed me, but instead I have been expressing them and letting myself be freer than ever.

I’m still scared sometimes.

Believe me when I say “It’s a process.”. There are still days now when I feel like I MUST be the only one to have ever felt a certain feeling or thought a certain thought. There are still times when I think that something I say is going to be too much information, or that it’s going to finally be the thing that sees me alienated and isolated. I talk about mental health ALL THE TIME, but I’m still scared. I’ve just grown to learn that talking about it is far more important and far bigger than the fear that would be holding me back.

You are not alone.

There are people in your life right now who are ready to listen to you and, even if they don’t understand everything that you’re going through, they’re going to WANT to understand. Please never underestimate how important that is. It’s pretty scary to start having brand new types of conversations with people in your life, particularly about stuff that’s personal; but that’s BECAUSE it’s so important to you. The people who love you and care about you want you to be OK, they want you to be your happiest healthiest self.

Sure, there can be miscommunications and misunderstandings and sometimes our feelings can get a little muddled and crossed with each other; but the answer isn’t to give up on expression altogether. You’ll find the answer while you keep working on communicating. We’re wayyyyy more complex than animals, right? We have the ability to communicate really complex thoughts and feelings, but we still have to practice before we’re pros. It’s better to “say it wrong” than it is to not say it at all. And the person you’re saying it to might be the very person who helps you understand what it is you’re feeling and why.

That little voice in your head that tells you that you’re all alone and that you’re the only person who feels the way you do is WRONG. The people in your life deserve the opportunity to be closer to you and to know what you’re going through and to help you where they can. When you talk to them, you don’t just unburden yourself, you also show them that you’re a person who believes in talking and that you’re a person who can also be talked to.

You are loved.

And when you start talking to the people who love you, you give them the chance to show you just how loved you are.

Start with the good stuff, the good stuff is important.

I love you. Thank you. You’re important to me. You always know just what to say. I’m proud of you. You’re such a big support to me. You’re so kind. I’m always here for you. I’m thinking of you. I will always be here for you. you’re going to be OK. You’re my favourite. You’re the best at that. You make me smile. The little things you do really make my day. You’ve got such a good eye for detail. You’re so good at that. Shall we go for coffee? Let’s spend some time together. I enjoy hanging out with you. You amaze me.

The trickier stuff will come with time…

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A lot of the time I feel afraid… I struggle to deal with… Sometimes I feel disconnected from… These things trigger strong reactions in me… I’m trying to work on… I’m going to ask for help with… I’m going to talk to my doctor about… I’ve been reluctant to talk about… I think I need to explore my feelings about… Could we talk about some stuff I’ve been struggling with? I’ve been feeling down lately… I think I’ve ignored my feelings about… I’ve been trying to learn how to express… I’m not sure how I feel about… Could we talk about… I’d like your support with…

I really believe that surrounding ourselves with support and open communicating is the key to finding meaning in the world and losing our meaning is dangerous. Your people will keep your grounded when you lose yourself. Please keep talking.

with love,

anneli

p.s.

If you’re ready to talk about your mental health and to show others that you’re ready, please consider buying one of the mental health awareness tees I’ve designed and supporting my campaign work.

I fell in love yesterday.

And I fell in love again today. And I will continue to fall in love every single day, until I stop meeting people like you. 

Earlier this week I had a telephone conversation with a mental health advocate who has also lived through domestic abuse and it brought on a HUGE realisation. I couldn’t believe that through all the interactions I’ve had with the mental health world (and the rest of the world), this was the first time I had spoken about domestic violence with someone who had also been in an abusive relationship. HOW WAS THIS WEEK THE FIRST TIME?!!! 

It was HUGE. 

While talking on the phone I felt so much love and warmth and affection and respect for this beautiful human being who, like me, had survived an encounter with the kind of person that words don’t exist to describe. I fell in love with her. 

Yesterday, I recorded a podcast with Sean Jones. Sean is ex-military and also has PTSD. Despite our trauma being totally unrelated, we WERE traumatised, and the way our symptoms and triggers have manifested and presented themselves was uncannily similar. I was fucking tongue tied because one of the ways PTSD gets you is that it makes you disconnect from your peers. I was so shocked that I was getting the chance to speak with someone who finally understood me.  I fell in love with him.

Today, I had the absolute honour of speaking at the Time to Change Story Camp about my mental health story. The speaker before me was Paul McGregor and he spoke about the loss of his Dad among other things. Looking into the face of someone who understands something that has impacted you so much and hearing their story come from them, out of their actual mouth in front of your actual face is so fucking powerful. So obviously I fell in love with him. 

 

And then it was my time to speak. And anxiety does not mix well with standing in front of a room full of people and telling your story, believe me when I say that. But I looked into the eyes of all the Time To Change Champions who were sat in front on me. 

 

And I realised something. 

This is so much bigger than me. 

 

My my nerves were overridden by how important I realised it was to say what I needed to say and to use my voice. Although I could have ran out of the room and never looked back (and BELIEVE ME a part of me wanted to), I realised that I NEEDED to speak my truth. And I fell in love with you all.

When I talk about “falling in love”, I don’t even mean romantically (although if you’re on bumble, HMU). But friendship really doesn’t do justice to the feeling that is invoked, when people come together to talk about REAL SHIT that has affected them. It’s a bond that runs so much deeper than that. I’m going to call it love. 

 

I realise that every single one of you has your own story to tell, and that you’re on your own journeys and that they are just as important to you as mine are to me. 

 

If we’re unlucky, we live our lives from our own perspectives and we only ever experience our own successes and pain. 

 

If we’re lucky, we get to see a part of someone else’s experience, we get to truly connect with people who are different to us and people who are similar. And if we’re super super lucky,we get to spend a moment in a room full of mental health advocates who are ready to harness the power of their own stories and use them to change the world. 

 

So, with all that being said, THANK YOU.  

Thank you Joss, Jodie, Nicole, Peter, Cara, Paul, Sean and to every single young champion who was there today. You are all more than welcome in my inbox and in my life. 


Let's Talk About Masturbation

Hey Self Love Club,

You know I like to talk about stuff that we’re told we shouldn’t talk about and here I am doing it again - this time tackling the slightly snigger-inducing topic of masturbation. I’m here to tell you that it’s natural, normal AND that it totally counts as part of your self care routine.

Before we get started though, I need to take a moment to address someone specific and say:

DAD. DON’T READ THIS POST. JUST ASSUME I’M OK*.

Alright, now that’s out of the way - let’s get into it.


Although it isn’t a particularly comfortable topic to talk about, and certain related topics (like porn) can cause mass debate (see what I did there?), the fact of the matter is that masturbation is totally normal and that it’s OK that you do it. In fact, I’d argue that masturbation is the safest and most reliable form of sexual release - and we all know that orgasms release the good stuff (dopamine!). So I am going to go ahead and say that masturbation is not only normal, but actually BENEFICIAL.

Dopamine is one of the brain’s neurotransmitters (a natural chemical that transfers information between neurons) and it is the chemical that helps us recognise reward and pleasure. Dopamine is an important part of keeping your mind and body working well and can affect your mood, memory, sleep and even movement. Low levels of dopamine have been associated with affecting our ability to sleep and worsening our attention span. It’s a seriously powerful chemical and one that we associate with pleasure (as in food and sex).

People make all sorts of wild claims when it comes to masturbation.

Do you remember hearing in school that masturbation can infertility or mental illness or blindness? Because it most definitely can’t. It won’t make you impotent  or cause your bits to grow, shrink or change colour either (unless you are going at it with some food colouring, in which case, I’d really love to know why). In fact, most (if not all) of the negative side effects to having a personal fumble are psychological or social issues - rather than actual physical problems.

Masturbation can cause guilt, feelings of shame and, if overused, it could even start to creep into the rest of your sex life. Obviously. But that isn’t to say that it shouldn’t be enjoyed (nay, encouraged) as part of your daily/weekly/monthly/whateverly self care. So let’s look at some of the benefits of getting off with yourself.

Some of the benefits of getting off with yourself

  1. It reduces stress

  2. It helps you get to sleep

  3. It helps you sleep BETTER

  4. It boosts your concentration

  5. It can reduce pain

  6. It lifts your mood

  7. It releases tension

  8. It helps you explore your own sexuality in the safety of your own hands

  9. It helps you get to know your own body

Not to mention - 10. You are entitled to sexual pleasure. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO SEXUAL PLEASURE. Enjoy your fucking orgasm and shake that shame away.

Now with all that being said, I do have one or two suggestions to help you enjoy a care-free wank:

  1. Do not watch any dodgy porn (obviously it’s a given that you shouldn’t and aren’t watching anything illegal, that’s not what I’m talking about here.) Trust me when I say you’ll feel way better afterwards if you refrain from watching anything that’s going to fill you with disgust and self hate. Believe me, the only time I’ve ever felt any kind of post-masturbation regret is when I’ve been tempted by a hot thumbnail into territory I wouldn’t usually venture into. But also:

  2. Watch porn! It can be really hot. Porn can be especially great if you’re not sure yet what gets you off and you want to try out some new stuff without actually trying it out. (spoiler alert: women watch porn)

  3. Make sure you are actually alone. Unless “your thing” is getting caught and “your housemate’s thing” is catching people in the act, make sure you definitely have some alone time to crack one out (why am I talking like this?!), because ultimately this is about relaxing and enjoying yourself - not about having lengthy awkward conversations with your loved ones about boundaries.

  4. Do not kill your buzz. I should really be talking about relaxing your mind and letting yourself get really into the moment here, but I’m not. I’m actually suggesting that you don’t KILL YOUR VIBRATOR. I had a trusty vibrator called Jonathan and I was truly devastated when he broke. Sex toys are there for your enjoyment, but if you rely on them too much, you could be left feeling pretty lost without them. (tip: if you’ve named him and started referring to him using personal pronouns, then you are definitely too attached.)

  5. Don’t overdo it. I’m seriously telling you to wank your little brains out here. Go do it. But also, leave some time in your day for enjoying other stuff too, like friends and chocolate and playing the guitar.

  6. Don’t send stupid fucking pictures of yourself masturbating to people who haven’t told you they want to receive them.

Final Thoughts

Obviously it’s up to you whether or not you masturbate and I understand that some people choose not to, but if you do want to practice this totally safe form of self care, please stop worrying about it. You’re allowed to be a sexual mammal. You’re allowed to have orgasms. You’re allowed to wank yourself to sleep.

I just realised that this is the first post I have ever written that I don’t want you to leave me comments or “you really helped me” tweets about and I’m starting to feel a little bit British and repressed again.

Thank you for reading,

Happy Wanking.

*I truly apologise if you’re related to me in any other way and you didn’t get the joke and kept reading, but I do sincerely believe you only have yourself to blame.

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There are too many cooks in my life - and none of them are me.

People don’t always understand your goals, hopes and dreams; particularly the people you are closest to.

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It’s very easy to have an opinion on someone’s life if you care about them, it’s difficult to see past the practicalities of life and see the other important factors like ambition, passion, mental health, wellbeing and emotions. These are factors that are just as important when making decisions. And here’s the thing:

Most other people don’t understand you.

This might include some of your family and friends.

How could they? They haven’t lived your life.

It doesn’t mean they aren’t important to you or vice versa, but they don’t understand.

How many times have you tried to have a conversation with someone only to become frustrated when they can’t see your perspective? How much more painful is this when it’s someone you love?

Here’s the other thing:

I haven’t made a decision for myself since I met my abusive ex.

Wow. That was tough to admit. I simply do not have the confidence to make decisions anymore, without the approval of other people first. It’s painful and it’s damaging and it’s left me living a half life.

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Maybe it’s because I’m naturally dominant, but I’ve become incredibly submissive. Maybe it’s because I can’t bear to lose any more people that I love (and love isn’t something I take can take for granted anymore) but I can’t seem to give myself permission to follow my heart anymore.

There are too many cooks in my life - and none of them are me.

Stop persuading people and start showing them.

I should never have given as much influence to people as I have. Recovering from an abusive relationship is difficult - and this is simply another thing I need to regain control over. Nevertheless, I am a grown ass woman.

I’m a woman who had to grow up pretty fucking quick, while watching her own mum make suicide attempt after suicide attempt. I’m a woman who lost her mum at 19 and had to cope with that completely alone. I’m also a woman who survived a physically, mentally and financially abusive relationship. I’m very capable.

I need to stop needing validation.

If you’re feeling like this today too, come chat with me on Twitter. I could sure use some company. Also, please remember that energy and time are precious resources - use them to achieve your dreams; not to persuade others that your dreams are valid.

This is your one chance on earth to build a life that YOU love. So build it.

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the REAL reasonS you shouldn't be signing up to BetterHelp

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There has been a lot of talk about “affordable, private online counselling” service BetterHelp over the last few weeks - and a lot of this has been because some of your favourite YouTubers have been talking about it. With over 100 big YouTube accounts promoting BetterHelp to their audience and receiving an alleged £200.00 per referral (yes - PER PERSON), it’s no wonder that the service is surrounded by a load of confusion and controversy:

How can a service that claims to be “affordable” justify charging the amounts that they do?  What responsibility do they take for the quality of the service they offer? Is online counselling effective? Why are they so keen to deflect the controversy as YouTube Drama?

Buckle up.


Online counselling is NOT a substitute for Face to Face

BetterHelp is the world’s largest e-counselling platform and, according to their website, their mission is to make counselling accessible, affordable and convenient. Accessibility, affordability and convenience are subjective and hard to measure, but let’s assume that we accept that BetterHelp was created as a way to improve access to counselling.

I do not believe that online counselling is an appropriate substitute for face to face assessment/treatment and, thankfully, the people at BetterHelp agree with me (at least in some cases). In the FAQ of their website, they say this:

The professionals who work through BetterHelp are licensed and credentialed therapists who were certified by their state's board to provide therapy and counseling. However, while the service may have similar benefits, it's not capable of substituting for traditional face-to-face therapy in every case. Please note that your provider won't be able to make any official diagnosis, to fulfill any court order or prescribe medication.

If you’ve ever had a sensitive or difficult conversation via text, you will know that it’s INCREDIBLY difficult to convey emotions, thoughts and feelings properly. For one thing, tone and intent are harder to get across AND it is also subject to the interpretation of the receiver. I’ve been in many situations where text conversations have gone awry for this reason alone. The quality of conversation being had would vary so much depending on the communication skills AND state of mind of both parties involved.

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I know that, in this “digital age”, there’s something appealing about the convenience behind texting a counsellor - but having ALL OF YOUR COUNSELLING be text and phone based is pretty similar to whatsapp-ing a picture of your mole to the doctor and accepting a diagnosis based on that.

I think it’s very important that people don’t trivialise mental health (their own or otherwise) and, before turning to a service like BetterHelp, you speak to your doctor and have a proper assessment - don’t fall into the trap of believing that your are “seeking help” because you have signed up to a service like this one. Proper face to face treatment first and foremost, please. I know it can be scary.


They don’t provide Mental Health Services

Any mental health services provided on the BetterHelp platform are provided by third parties. The service BetterHelp provides is limited to providing the platform through which you communicate with counsellors. In their terms and conditions it specifies that you should not make mental health or well-being decisions based on any information given to you in the counsellor services and that they take no responsibility as to whether or not the counsellor services are relevant, correct, useful, satisfactory or suitable to your needs.

They also stipulate that they are not responsible for your relationship with your counsellor and say this:

You agree, confirm and acknowledge that you are aware of the fact that the Counselor Services are not a complete substitute for a face-to-face examination and/or session by a licensed qualified professional. You should never rely on or make health or well-being decisions which are primarily based on information provided as part of the Counselor Services. Furthermore, we strongly recommend that you will consider seeking advice by having an in-person appointment with a licensed and qualified professional.

BetterHelp is NOT SUITABLE for people as a substitute for treatment of mental illness.

The service they DO offer is pretty vague.

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Some of the things BetterHelp claim that they “may be able to help” with are matters that “interfere with your happiness”. And, while they specify some areas that some counsellors they work with specialise in (including trauma, eating and addiction), they also acknowledge that it isn’t suitable for anyone in crisis, who is at risk of self harm, has a severe mental illness diagnosis or is a minor.

They don’t employ the counsellors or accept responsibility for the conversations their users have with the counsellors, so what do they do?

Well, when you sign up to the service you accept these terms and conditions and also accept that BetterHelp do not actually provide medical help, mental health services or other professional services, but rather that they provide the facility through which others can provide you with “counsellor services”. Beyond maintaining the platform and its functionality, it is unclear from the website what BetterHelp are responsible for, but their terms and conditions are very thorough in absolving them from accountability when it comes to the actual quality of counselling you receive.

BetterHelp are primarily a service that match you to a counsellor.

BetterHelp is NOT affordable.

I started the Sign Up process on the site to find out 1. How much the service costs and 2. How up front they are about these costs.

I answered the 33 pre-sign up questions (it’s a pretty standard mental well-being questionnaire) and made sure that I answered them truthfully. Bearing in mind that I am someone with PTSD and that self harm is a risk factor for me, I was interested to see whether or not I would be able to use their service (reminder - they say it is NOT suitable for people in my circumstances).

Guess what? I was able to sign up (subject to those pesky Ts and Cs of theirs of course.

After verifying my e-mail address, I was invited to say whether or not I had preferences in my counsellor (including gender and - surprisingly as I am not religious and they now know this - a Christian counsellor). I selected “female” and “non-religious”, before being faced with a lengthy questionnaire where I get to select various expertise levels across different topics including things that were worryingly serious, such as trauma, abuse and anger management. Ugh. I chose trauma, anxiety and sleeping disorders.

Finally, after a couple more steps, I am told the price. It’s $65 per week (that’s £50.56 per week - over £200 per month.)

£200.00 per month is well out of most people’s price range and - MOST IMPORTANTLY - that would get you a weekly face to face therapy session.

This is an outrageous price to charge.

Needless to say, I stopped the sign up process there. I wonder how many spam e-mails I’ll get…

“YouTube Drama”

Very briefly then, I’ll say that BetterHelp have been keen to point the finger at the various YouTubers who have been criticising their services, while defending the integrity of the YouTubers they’ve been sponsoring. It seems as though they are keen to add fuel to the fire here, implying that there’s a us vs them thing going on between YouTube stars who support them ad YouTube stars who don’t. In fact, they actually did point out themselves that the “controversy” has brought them more sign ups.

Unless you’re pretty into watching YouTube (like I am), there’s probably way to much backstory at this point for me to bring you up to speed - but I’ll point you in the direction of the PewDiePie video (below), where he sums up pretty well I think. (honestly there’s a hole of BetterHelp videos you could fall down at this point). Felix (PewDiePie) has come under fire repeatedly in the media for controversies in the past, but he has been consistently mature and careful when addressing mental health issues (or at least in the year or so I’ve been watching).

It’s also worth noting that, while Felix says he thinks YouTubers should take the time to research what they are promoting, it is BetterHelp that he points the blame at.

In Conclusion

I’m not saying that there isn’t room for a service like BetterHelp in the world; I can see potential in the service as a substitute for say… life coaching? But I remain totally unconvinced that a text based counselling service is appropriate as mental health treatment.

 While it’s becoming totally normal to uber your taxi, tinder your date and deliveroo your food; I won’t be extending that informality to any service that could potentially save my life. 

I did try some e-mail based counselling in 2009, following my Mum’s death - it was offered to me through the university I was attending and, while the counsellor was lovely, there simply wasn’t enough communication to make a difference - it’s far too easy to keep counselling at the back of your mind, if it’s email based. Taking care of your mental health should be a priority for you, not something that should be as thoughtless as booking an uber.

If you are sure that online counselling is right for you (and you’ve spoken to your doctor about this), find a service that is similar, but that isn’t BetterHelp. Given the confusing and conflicting information that they have on their own website, I very much doubt that they will take a responsible approach when helping you manage your mental health.


P.S. if you like my work and want to support me, please consider buying me a coffee.


A podcast announcement...

A biggie.


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Hey guys, this week the podcast changed in a way that was sudden, unexpected and unplanned. For this reason, I’ve decided that (rather than forcing an episode) I’m skipping a week and resuming next Tuesday. Believe me when I say that I am sorry and that I HATE missing a week so soon into series 2 of the podcast. I’m going to try to explain what’s happened in this post… but honestly, I’m not sure how much explanation I actually have.

I had planned an episode to talk about online bullying, uninvited DMs and triggers of the internet, but when I sat down with Sarah to start recording - something didn’t quite feel right.

This podcast is about speaking up about mental health and mental illness and about giving you guys the chance to share your stories - it isn’t about me telling someone else’s truth. But what I will say is this:

Sarah has made the decision to stop co-hosting the podcast.


I wish I had more insight to give, but I just don’t know the full ins and outs of it myself. Once I understand it, I’ll share it with you. I know that Sarah hasn’t been coping very well for a while now - and from what I can gather she doesn’t feel up to putting her energy into something like this at the minute.


I’m supportive of anyone making the decision to put their health and happiness first and, as someone who lives with Sarah, I can tell that she needs to make some changes right now in order to improve her mental health and recover. I’m grateful that I have such supportive listeners because I know that this is something you’ll understand too.

We did actually try to record an episode still, but it was roughly 1 minute after she’d told me this was happening - and neither of us have had the time to process yet.

Although I now can’t create an episode this week - planning, researching, recording and editing all take A LOT of time - I am 100% still going to keep making the podcast and I’m just hoping that you all continue to listen and show me the amazing level of support that you have.

the new pigletish podcast artwork (thank you to Claire at Aloha Lola for the caricature)

the new pigletish podcast artwork (thank you to Claire at Aloha Lola for the caricature)


Sarah and I always knew that eventually she would step back from pigletish, but just maybe not so suddenly and certainly not mid-series. Mental health is complex though and there’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed and needing to focus on you.

I’m sure this isn’t the last you’ll EVER hear from her on the podcast, but for now it’s toodle pip from her. I’m also sure, like me, that you’ll be wishing her the VERY BEST with her recovery. We love you, Sarah!


I’ve always planned to eventually take the podcast and blog up a notch and put my energy into travelling to meet other mental health advocates and awesome people and, while I’m sad I don’t get to have Sarah podcast with me once a week anymore, in a way it does give me the kick up the ass I need to make this stuff happen. There are no excuses anymore, I’m coming for ya!


Oh, just some kind of related notes - while I’m here

1) No, I’m not looking for another co-host right now - this came as a huge shock to me. Although with hindsight (perfectly clear and yet useless), I should have maybe foreseen this and prepared a little bit for it; I truly didn’t see this coming and all I can do now is learn from it. If this changes, I’ll let you know.

2) I am processing this news - and while I know some of you might have questions - I don’t want to be reminded of all the answers I don’t have as I try to get my head around it myself. And yes, I am upset about it - but I am rooting (routing?!) for Sarah and want her to be happy. With her permission, I will keep you up to date with how she’s doing - and obviously now is the time where she needs me as a best friend and not as a co-host.

AND 3) In next week’s episode, you’ll get the chance to meet the mental health professional that I’m working with on the podcast from now on* - I’ve been wanting to put certain questions to an expert for a while now, so that anything unanswered in an episode can be properly addressed (rather than having just me speculate about it and potentially share misinformation). I’m happy to announce that I’ve found the sweetest and most perfect person to help with this part of the show - she’s called Molly Scott (go follow her on Twitter), she has a BSc in Psychology and MSc Forensic in Psychology and she’s a Gryffindor (giving you ALL the important details, haha!) and one of the nicest easiest people to talk to - YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE HER.

*this actually WAS planned and is totally separate to Sarah leaving the podcast



So… that’s it. That’s the news. Again, I’m sorry that we’re missing a week BUT I hope that you’ll understand.

I love you.

Learn more about the podcast HERE

When it's OK to slide into my DMs - and when it definitely isn't

The fact that this needs to be said is pretty disappointing!

When it’s OK to slide into my DMs:

  • to be friendly and say hi!

  • to ask a question/give feedback on one of my blog posts or podcast episodes

  • to tell me that you’re struggling (I can’t give 1 on 1 advice on mental health issues, but I can listen)

  • to show some love and support

  • to ask about the work I do for mental health awareness, or find out if we can work together

When it’s not OK to slide into my DMs:

  • when I’ve not replied to the 78 messages you’ve already sent

  • to reduce all my accomplishments and hard work to random compliments about my looks - NOT that I think this is nasty, but it does perpetuate the idea that my value lies in my appearance - it’s 2018, let’s move away from this please.

  • when I’ve expressed vulnerability and you decide to make your sexual advances

  • when I’ve not expressed vulnerability and you decide to make your un-encouraged sexual advances

Seriously. You’re not invited. Fuck off.

When it’s OK to slide into my DMs:

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When it’s NOT OK to slide into my DMs:

(PG edition)

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There are plenty of times in life where it IS appropriate to send a sexy message - approaching a stranger on the internet, mid-panic attack, is absolutely not that time. The more vocal I am about panic attacks, the more messages stream in. The more I am struggling in that moment, the more forward the messages are.

I think there IS absolutely a problem with vulnerable people being preyed on, both online and off. It’s absolutely NOT OK to hit on someone mid panic attack. I don’t accept that any of the messages above came in with good intentions - those are the non-explicit messages that I feel comfortable sharing - they’re the tip of the iceberg.

I know that most of you will feel uncomfortable knowing that there are people out there who are taking advantage of the vulnerable. These messages were all sent to me personally; unfortunately I’m hearing similar reports from other female bloggers more and more often. I’m sure that this isn’t exclusive to women, I’m sure there are men out there who have had to deal with similar bullshit.

If you have previously “slid into someone’s DMs” in this way, then stop. It’s really that simple. This is not the approach you should be taking. Think about whether or not you’d say it to a total stranger on the street, then re-assess whether you want to say it online. I, for one, can’t wait until Twitter verifies all accounts and this kind of predatory behaviour can no longer be anonymous.

USING MY PANIC ATTACK AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO STRIKE UP A SEXUAL CONVERSATION IS PERPETUATING RAPE CULTURE.

It’s frightening to speak out about inappropriate messages - particularly if you’re already feeling vulnerable and/or the person who is sending you these messages has a large following or is well regarded. You don’t have to publicly share the messages, you can report accounts through Twitter and/or the police. You have the right to create a safe space for yourself and other people online.

You are not alone.


Thank you to every one who has sent a kind message (to me or anyone else) of support or love, when they have needed it most; believe me when I say that you make the world go round, especially my world - you’re awesome.

How to choose hobbies that help your mental health recovery journey

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Hey guys,

Thanks for all of your support lately. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I had a really tough time of it last week. I was really moved by all the nice messages of love and encouragement you sent me (particularly on Twitter, y’all know I love a Tweet); it always blows my mind a little bit how total strangers can be the most awesome people. Seriously. Why are you so awesome?

In prep for a project I’ve got launching, I wanted to talk to you about hobbies and how they fit perfectly into your self care regime. To start things off, I wanted to share a short post explaining my relationship with hobbies, why they’re important AND how you can find the perfect hobby to help you along with your mental health journey.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again for the people in the back: ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT IS NOT AS EASY AS IT SHOULD BE.

Not that you should let that put you off reaching out for help, you need to be on the train to get to your destination after all. Mental illness is just the same as any other illness, it needs to be properly treated for us to recover. If you’re struggling, you should know that it’s not just OK to reach out for help; it’s also very important and it might just save your life.

You can and should speak to your doctor about your mental health, please don’t wait until you’re at crisis point.

While you’re waiting to be assessed and/or waiting for treatment, there are many things you can do to help yourself. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the phrase “self care” by now, but it’s so much more than just having a bath or meditating; it’s a way of life. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the idea of self care, here’s a quick refresher.

Self care is the name for the actions you can take (by yourself or with others) in order to protect, maintain and improve your health, wellbeing and wellness.

Health is health. Don’t neglect your mental health.

Like all lifestyle changes, incorporating self care into your daily routine can be tough. Rather than a sudden surge of activities; it’s far better to establish smaller, long-term habits. I find that the best self care activities fall into one or more of the following categories: mindfulness, distraction, social, investment and indulgence.

Sound tough? Well, it really doesn’t have to be. If you’ve been following along with some of the #SelfCareOctober Challenge, then you will know that many self care activities are tiny steps in the right direction and some of them are even things that many people would take for granted. The REALLY GOOD NEWS is that while you explore the world of self care, you might pick up some awesome new hobbies that tick all the boxes.

Finding a hobby

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The awesome thing about a hobby is that it’s usually something you enjoy/are interested in, which makes it an easier habit to maintain than one that you ‘know is good for you’ but hate doing. I’ve had so many hobbies over the years, one of them - writing - I am doing RIGHT NOW.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times - particularly when my health is bad, when I find it hard to muster up the energy for even my favourite things, BUT you can bet your ass that the moment I’m feeling even a teeny bit better, I’ll want to get right back to it. If you’re hobby is something that actually helps your health and wellbeing in the first place then you, my friend, are onto what-I-call a winner.

If you’re at a bit of a loss as to what to throw yourself into, here are some of the most common ways to turn self care into a hobby:

  • Gentle Exercise (whatever you’re able to do, I favour a hike or a stroll - but have been known to gym on occasion too)

  • Less Gentle Exercise (if you can channel your energy into something that rewards your directly with serotonin, it’s got to be good right?)

  • Art (this isn’t necessarily a hobby that is cheap, but if you enjoy it it’s well worth investing in some materials and focusing on creating something meaningful)

  • Writing (any form of expressing yourself is truly worthwhile)

  • Gaming (yes, I’m counting gaming. Along with reading, I think this is one of the most valuable forms of escapism)

  • Reading (see above)

  • Relaxing (yoga, meditation, walking your dog, taking a bath, etc etc)

  • Crafts and Making (p.s. if you make bathbombs, hook me up)

  • Textiles (sewing, knitting, crochet are really good for both distraction and mindfulness. and you might end up with your own business, go get em!)

  • Cooking (a lot of time, effort and skill goes into cooking and you benefit from the process AND the nourishment at the end)

Do you have an ‘unusual’ hobby?

Let me know in the comments below, ESPECIALLY if it’s one that helps with your health or wellbeing.

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I have some pretty exciting news coming up over the next couple of months - including the launch of a HUGE mental health project that I’m very excited about. If you missed it, I’ve also been shortlisted for the 2018 Mind Charity Awards this year, in the “Digital Champion” category, which is pretty cool. Thank you for continuing to support me and please keep talking about your mental health. I couldn’t do this without you!


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Did you know that I also host a mental health podcast, where I chat to guests about their mental health journeys AND raise awareness for people living with mental illness?

Click here to listen to the Pigletish Podcast

Why I went away *TRIGGER WARNING*

 Hey guys, 

 after a short social media break, I am back (at least for now). Thank you so much for the messages you have sent me while I’ve been away. I’ve felt a lot of love and it’s made my return to the internet very bloody easy. 

I am determined to put my recovery first and not to cut any corners, so I am easing myself back in - but I will be getting back to all of you EVENTUALLY.  

I have included a post below that I wrote on Thursday last week. I had been feeling unwell for a couple of days but on Thursday I REALLY hit rock bottom.  

 I think I always did know that I’d be sharing this post with you, but it is a bit scary sharing it so soon - so I’d ask that you are gentle and respectful of the seriousness of how I was feeling and how many others still are.

I do talk about suicidal thoughts in this post and it is not suitable for anyone who may be triggered by this. 

trigger warning

This post contains thoughts of suicide and self harm (specifically cutting). If you think these topics could trigger you, please do not read the post and just know that I am sending you a lot of love. Thank you for supporting me.  

 With all that being said, please also excuse the grammar/spelling and underuse of caps in this post. It was written on my phone, and it has been a long time since I used uppercase letters on my phone because, despite being a hot mess, I am also a hipster. Please respect my culture. 

 Also, I am reluctant to edit something that was written in the throes of so much emotion. 

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i wonder if anyone can tell that i’ve only come to homebase so that i don’t self harm.


*


i woke up yesterday with brain fog - and thought it might be down to the two glasses of prosecco i drank the night before. i woke up this morning with suicidal thoughts and knew that it was not.


i’m gonna go right ahead and reiterate a fucking MASSIVE trigger warning right now - if you aren’t in a safe space mentally (and maybe even if you are) and self harm is a trigger/risk for you, then i am sorry but this really isn’t the best post for you to read. try my open letter to stephen fry instead.


*


I say i woke up with suicidal thoughts but, strictly speaking, that’s not true. i woke up with thoughts of cottage pie leftovers and working through my blog related emails.


i didn’t start the day with a shower - just a coffee and a tana mongeau video. i half thought about watching some netflix, but thought i better crack on.


doug (my labrador) knew something was wrong before i did - i could tell this because, when i sat on the sofa, he didn’t try to stand on my head. he sat quietly at my feet and chewed on a leftover fragment of bone.


i had leftover cottage pie for brunch and then abandoned doug and lay back down on my bed. i opened my laptop and shut all the tabs in the browser other than my mailbox. 478 unread emails. IN A WEEK.


once again, i realise i have a to do list longer than my legs. i realise that i need a pa. i realise that i’ll never have the money to pay for a pa because i literally can’t do any administration work. i wonder if i’ll ever be able to do life like a real grown up.


i haven’t been for a smear test. ever. i was with my abusive ex when i turned 25 and should have gone for my first, but looking after myself wasn’t a priority. it has since grown into a balloon of fear surrounding the fact that going means making an appointment and waiting for results that i am scared will be bad news because i have put it off for so long. i haven’t even fucking registered with a gp yet in cardiff.


thinking about doctors is incredibly triggering for me. i do worry a lot about medical things, but only in abstract. actually GOING for tests, check ups and procedures has never really been too bad for me. and contrary to how i used to feel, i am no longer all consumed by the fear that i have all the conditions under the sun. maybe because i’m on the edge and right now THIS SECOND i am in way more danger from my mind than i am from the rest of my body.


thinking about doctors is triggering for me because it reminds me of all the conversations i’ve had over the last 2 years; all the times i’ve asked for help; all the times i’ve had to relive the very worst moments of the abuse i survived; all the times i’ve jumped through their hoops, only to be told that i’ve been sent through the wrong hoops and i have to go back to the beginning.


the deep anger and frustration i feel is too heavy for me to carry and i become increasingly claustrophobic. i feel totally fucking trapped in my life. i’ve never wanted to get out more. i just want to hit escape.


i was never suicidal before i was beaten and bullied and traumatised by my abusive ex. i had an anxiety disorder that i managed through self care and now i’m lost in this hellish system that i just don’t know how to navigate anymore. i don’t have the energy to explain to these doctors and various other professionals that SEEING AS I AM LIVING WITH UNTREATED PTSD every single time one of them lets me down or turns me away or passes me on, i feel like they are siding with my abuser. How do they not already know that? Aren’t they supposed to know that at the very least i need to be handled with care?


Am I really the first victim of domestic abuse that feels like this? Surely I can’t be.


i realised that I had absentmindedly locked myself in my bathroom and that i was in danger.


i have a history of self harm and, although i’m no regular anymore, it is only a couple of months since my last relapse. i forgave myself so readily for the last time i cut myself, but it feels so incredibly shitty and sad to relapse when you’ve come so far and achieved so much and i really really don’t want to fall like that again.


(trigger warning: graphic - scroll down if necessary)


the thing with self harm is that it produces an overwhelming sense of release and for me that release comes only when i see blood. for me, when the urge hits i feel like my blood is literally boiling and bubbling over and that i can’t contain everything that’s bad inside me AND the boiling blood and so (a bit like a geyser) some of it has to be let out.


it is all consuming.


for the first time in my life this urge is accompanied with the knowledge and foresight that i don’t want to deal with the aftermath of the self harm. in the past, this has always been such a huge impulse and i’ve just gone for it. for some reason today was different.


i don’t WANT to have to deal with the clean up. i don’t WANT to have to dress the wounds. i don’t WANT to have to wear long sleeves for weeks and live with the fear that one of my friends or family will see and that they’ll worry. i don’t WANT to explain to people that the fact that i HAVE cut means that i’ve released those bad feelings (in the WORST POSSIBLE WAY) and there is nothing to talk about now. i don’t want to deal with the stares of strangers.

 

(  /end of graphic description)

 

i’m suddenly very very scared. please, god, don’t let me self harm.


i head back to the laptop and think that busying myself with the emails will curb some of these urges. but as i click through my inbox (mostly deleting stuff without reading it by the way - useful!) all i can think about is that there are so many objects in this house to fear in this moment in time.


the urge to run away is overwhelming. what i want is to escape but, seeing as it is myself that’s scaring me, running away means somewhere in between dying and disappearing forever.


these are not thoughts i want. i stare myself down in the mirror; mentally saying “pull yourself together.” and then watch my own eyes start to cry.


oh fuck. what is this? why am i in so much pain? i don’t want to be in pain and i don’t know what triggered me.


i have no time to figure it out though because i realise that if i don’t do something i’m in serious fucking trouble so i chuck on yesterday’s clothes (seriously the only clean thing about me is my knickers) and some shoes, grab my headphones and i’m out the door.


i walk. i make the decision to listen to some taylor swift and i have no idea why. it’s not that i dislike her music, i’ve just never been into it either. i keep walking.


i pass a guy at the end of our road, who works there and is always about, and he smiles at me. do i look different today? i wonder. can he tell i am suicidal? i smile back.


now i start walking with a split agenda. part of me is walking with the end goal of walking for as long as it takes to walk it off. part of me is looking at the flyover (about 2.5 miles dead ahead) and is focusing on some darker objectives.


crucially though, and this is important, i do not want to die. i want to get away from these feelings of rage and fear. the suicidal thoughts come because, in the moment, they feel like the only way to get out of a bad place - most people who feel suicidal don’t actually want to be dead.


i actually love my life. i have awesome friends, the most loving and caring family and the best dog in the world. i’m really proud of myself for how far i’ve come in recovery (so far). i have lots of things in my life that i enjoy. and if you asked any of the people who know me, particularly sarah (who i live with), they’d say that i was almost annoyingly positive.


it’s very rare that i’m not singing either the harry potter theme tune or the muppets tv show song. i’m usually the “come on, we can do this” girl, when one of my friends is having a bad day. i’m certainly regularly bounding around the house WITH doug, while sarah pretends to be exasperated that there are basically two labradors. i really do feel deeply happy - to my very bones.


i suppose my point is, that someone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self harm isn’t necessarily “sad” or “negative”. in fact, the only guaranteed thing about them is that they need help - and that you should ALWAYS ALWAYS take it seriously.


fearing the busy roads that lie ahead, i duck into t k maxx. i methodically walk every aisle of the shop; picking up items and inspecting them as i go. i gather some great christmas gift ideas. i text sarah “i’m not ok.” i continue my walk around the shop.

shop after shop goes by, until eventually i find myself in homebase; well enough to wonder whether or not people can tell i’m not well. hmmm.

I chose to share this with you because, despite feeling like I had hit my lowest point, despite the fact that - at the time - this felt like one of my biggest failures; I look back NOW and I realise that this is one of the biggest successes of my recovery journey and here’s why:

1. I am fucking ill. I can’t STOP my symptoms existing. I can learn to recognise them, which I did.  

2. For the first time in my life EVER, I had an intense urge to self harm, recognised the danger and managed to avoid it. This is HUGE for me. My urges come few and at between, but I have ALWAYS succumbed to them.  

3. I avoided being alone and focused my attention on something other than the intrusive thoughts.  

4. I expressed myself through both writing (which to me purges the bad feelings) and then later in the evening through painting (which soothes my mind.) 

 So there you have it. Sometimes a successful day is just a trip to homebase. 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this log and messy post. I really do appreciate all the love and support you give me.   

 

I’ve been blogging for 18 months now and it’s the first time in a looooooooong time that I have been nervous about sharing a post ❤️ 

 

 

#SelfCareTogether - October Self Care Challenge

Hi there,

So many of you responded to the tweet about my idea for running a self care challenge throughout October, so I decided to plough on and get my shit together. I’ve never hosted anything this big on social media before, and I know many of you haven’t ever participated in this type of “challenge” before either - which I think means it warrants a post explaining the deets. Here I am. Hi!

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Why are we doing this?

I’m guilty of not spending enough time on self care (at least not consistently) - and I think it’s really important that I sort that out ASAP. I’m also hearing from you guys that you’re finding it just as tough to get into a self care routine of your own - so what better way to do this than together?

I’m hoping that by following a set list of tasks to complete and by chatting to each other about the obstacles we encounter and overcome, we’re able to hold each other accountable and provide each other some much needed support. I’m at my best when I’m with you lot, so forgive me for making you tag along.

Also, we’re doing this because I’m actually excited to get to do something WITH YOU - it’s such a shame we can’t all be geographically closer and spend our days together, I’m so pumped that I’ll get to share this with you all.

What is #SelfCareTogether?

Good question. At the minute #SelfCareTogether is a hashtag that I have created for the purposes of keeping us all on track for the self care challenge. I suppose what it becomes in the future will depend on what you make of it now…

The challenge will start on October 1st (this coming Monday) and span the whole of the month. It consists of self care related tasks for us to complete (1 per day), which are manageable but are designed to push you a little (otherwise what’s the point).

It isn’t hardcore - if you miss a day or find a challenge triggering that’s totally cool and OK with me, it doesn’t mean you can’t just join in the next day at all. What’s important is that you’re making time to care for yourself - sometimes that does mean doing stuff you don’t want to - but I think you’ll surprise yourself with just how much of this list you can achieve. Let’s take it day by day.

How do I join in?

There’s no need to sign up, fill in any forms or do any admin whatsoever - you simply join in!

While there’s nothing stopping you from playing along and keeping that entirely to yourself, I think that the fact we’re doing this TOGETHER is a big part of why it’s going to work.

Ultimately, what you need to do is follow the list of daily tasks and post about your achievements using the hashtag #SelfCareTogether (bonus points for photos, but they’re not necessary). I’m going to be chatting to all of you using the hashtag every day and sharing my fave posts with my followers, so feel free to tag me in your posts on Twitter or Instagram.

Is it necessary to share photos/selfies?

Absolutely not. Share whatever you feel comfortable sharing, a tweet will suffice.

Is it free?

As with any of the content I create, it’s totally free. If you do want to show me some support and can afford to, feel free to buy me a coffee (tea, probably) - it always brings me a smile, but it’s absolutely not necessary.

What are the daily challenges?

Now you’re talking. I’ve split the month into 4 weeks (+3 days because October is loooooooooong), each focusing on a different aspect of self care.

Week One is all about getting the basics in place and making sure you are making the time each day to actually do something self care related. Monday’s task is to leave the house - something incredibly important and that you should be doing every single day (I am OK with you only making it as far as your doorstep, but get that fresh air into your soul).

Week Two is mindfulness and wellbeing and all about appreciating what you see, what you hear, what you feel etc. I’m looking forward to making myself have some quiet time, something I’m really bad at remembering to do.

In Week Three we’re focusing on social and support, making sure that we’re getting stimulation, human contact and reaching out when we need to. This is low-key the week I’m most excited for, because it means spending more time with YOU (my fave).

Week Four is about investing in yourself - we’re going to be trying to learn and create and spend time with ourselves, which is a really important aspect of self care. The more you invest in yourself, the more appealing caring for yourself and spending time with yourself becomes.

The full list of challenges is at the bottom of this post, but feel free to save these cute graphics on your phone as a reminder but also as a way to let other people know about the challenge (please post them to your social media - and help raise awareness).

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Here’s the full list of daily challenges. Don’t forget to use #SelfCareTogether on each post and to tag me on twitter @pigletish and/or instagram @pigletish_

Week One: Self Care Basics

  1. Go outside

  2. Eat something nutritious

  3. Venture further out

  4. Shower/Bath

  5. Life admin

  6. Social media cleanse

  7. Focus on drinking enough water

Week Two: Mindfulness & Wellbeing

8. Read something

9. 15 minutes of peace

10. Listen

11. Find a quiet place

12. Look up

13. Focus

14. Meditate

Week Three: Social & Support

15. Join me for a tea

16. Reach out to a friend

17. Be in public

18. Talk to a stranger

19. Spend time with a loved one

20. Push yourself

21. Join in with a conversation

Week Four: Investing in Yourself

22. Do something you’ve been putting off

23. 30 minutes of “me”

24. Be creative

25. Exercise

26. Learn something

27. Set some goals for tomorrow

28. Achieve those goals

Bonus Days

29. Indulge

30. Relax

31. Reflect

I’m so excited to have you come along on this self care journey, hopefully we can get some really healthy habits underway and have fun while we do so. Thank you so much for being a part of this

- Anneli