Little Positives

In the rush of life and in the mayhem of everything, I feel like I sometimes – scratch that, always – forget that there are tiny little things I should be proud of myself for doing. It’s so easy to get bogged down with all the huge things you should be doing that we can forget that yes, we’ve done important things but there are also the things that others might overlook. They’re important too; they’re what keep me going.

I saw my Head of Year today and I cried until I felt too hollowed out for words. Seeing her wasn’t as helpful as I’d have liked it to be but she did say something really worthwhile: I’ve done small things recently that are positive. In the pit of negativity I’ve plunged myself into, there are ways of looking at the little bright sparks.

Here’s a list, for you, of a few things that you might not even think are worth mentioning. They’re obvious things but that’s the beauty of it: I’ve done them, I’m still here; I’m still going. That’s what matters.

1. I got out of bed this morning, despite not wanting to.

2. I keep up my skincare routine every day, even when I don’t feel like it, because I know it makes my skin healthy.

3. I read a page of my book for English and when I wanted to give up, I read another page.

4. I spoke to my friends this morning and didn’t make an excuse that I had to do work.

5. I replied to my Twitter messages.

6. I did a little bit of singing a few days ago, just to myself, and felt the smallest thrill of happiness like I hadn’t in a while.

7. I smiled at someone as they walked past; I didn’t even know them but it felt nice.

8. I had an idea for something I might write for the school newspaper and I’m planning to write it down.

9. I didn’t want to disappear much after I cried with my Head of Year.

10. When I got the urge to message someone who’s been messing with my head recently, I didn’t do it.

11. I’m writing this blog post.

12. I have a work plan for this evening – I have an objective.

13. I’m breathing regularly.

14. Things are feeling more real than they usually do.

15. I thought the words “I love you” and didn’t get scared.

If you can take a little inspiration from this; if you can be helped by this or if this makes things feel a little less like everything’s screaming in your head, then it will let me realise that words are as powerful as ever. This list won’t magically help but it’s done a little something for me and maybe, you too. Remember that you aren’t a superhero and every single little thing you do that makes you go “Oh, I’m still going” is worthwhile. Those little achievements are impressive because you’ve completed them and only you know what that means to you.

Don’t sweep over things just because they’re small. They’re still relevant; they’re still things you’ve done. Those little things are what you should be proud of yourself for. I’m certainly proud of you, for simply carrying on as yourself and doing the smallest things which build you up, day by day.

When you start to feel down, maybe have a go at creating a list like I’ve done. It helps to show yourself what you’ve achieved and how you can move forward.

Keep going. You’re not invincible but neither are you someone who gives up, no matter what you tell yourself. Small things can make you stronger, bit by bit. You aren’t stupid for cherishing the little moments. You should smile at yourself for them.

Love from Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

Advertisements

The Future is Alright | My Day at Warwick Uni

It came to me, as I was walking out of the English talk at Warwick uni, stumbling slightly with my eyes widened, that I had absolutely no idea what the future would hold for me. I realised then that I was far too terrified for it to be rational and that for the next 15 minutes, nothing would mean anything in a mantra inside my head and really? That was okay.

Let’s backtrack a bit to 7 AM. I’d woken up an hour before, feeling strangely energised yet exhausted; my dad and I hopped in the car on our way to the uni, the journey taking around two hours. Unlike when I travel with my mum, I didn’t feel tense and had intelligent conversation, punctuated by my usual listening to music. When I’d booked the Open day before, I’d spent about half an hour planning what I’d go and see. I double checked it, like I always do, and a curious sort of excitement grew: I’d been looking forward to Warwick for ages and most of my friends who went there said they loved it and that it was amazing. Of course, they were right.

We took a bus from the Park-and-ride service and it didn’t take long, the trees sweeping along the roof which I found funnier than I should have. We got there, got out and got pointed to the registration place. I said “Thank you!” far too enthusiastically to some helpful staff and then I took about a year to get my barcode up. That was… Significantly awkward. Once I was scanned, we walked into the campus itself and the day started. Surrounded by other students, the sounds and smells of food cooking out in the open and music, it felt so relaxed and smelled so much of greenery at one point that I almost forgot I was in a university campus.

The first talk was why we should choose Warwick as a university and I thought, for the first time, that a place felt right in a way. It felt vibrant, the way they spoke about challenging you to think critically and not just to get the skills for a job but to get skills which you would be able to apply anywhere, for the rest of your life. That’s what I’d want for a degree: not just a means to an end but rather, something that would be truly useful and something that would make me fall in love with learning. They managed, in one talk, to make me feel like maybe, I’d get that there. If I got in, that is, which isn’t an easy feat: I’ll sit on my hope for now but not too much. If that wasn’t enough, I went and spoke to the Disability Advisor and a Postgraduate student who set up a around disability awareness after that talk ended. โ  โ ฎ way they spoke about the uni made it feel welcoming. I saw the Literature Society, where I displayed a lot of excitement over the existence of it (I’d have been embarrassed if I cared) and found out that yes, there was a Writing society. Cue even more excitement. I spent about half an hour in that hall, wandering round and talk to a few societies to find out what kind of things were on offer, far more than I had at UEA or Birmingham.

The problem that didn’t even register as a problem until afterwards started when I went to the “Applying to Warwick” talk. They spoke about Personal Statements and what Warwick specifically wanted in Undergraduate students and I started to tell myself, quiet but still insistent, that I didn’t have those qualities. I’ve barely started on my Personal Statement because I have no idea how to structure it, despite all the advice and so I panicked. I panicked a lot, a cold harsh feeling in my stomach but I shoved it back. I realise now that I do have the ability to structure it, to write concisely and in a focused way and that all I have to do is start but in that talk, it turned into a raging monster inside my head because it was too big, too much. That was another mantra I repeated throughout the day, “too many things, too much, too quickly.”

Accommodation, both discussed in the talk and seen by me when I went on a mini tour of it, was really nice. That filled me with no fear because I could see myself living there, with or without a Guide Dog; it was close to everything and the anxiety of not being able to drive was stopped because the campus is connected to places around it. The loneliness was negated, too, because there would be people and a nearby city (Coventry). Things weren’t registering as much in that talk but when I went to see them with my dad, thought I’d broken the toaster in the kitchen and found out the differences in the halls, I started to feel a lot better about it all.

After lunch, we had the Students’ Union Talk; it was nothing too groundbreaking. I liked how one of the people spoke about her experiences because it was refreshing to know that loads of different societies existed. Still, it was nothing I hadn’t heard when I was walking about before.

The most important talk was the talk on English and this was where things started to really get confusing in my head. On its own, the talk was great: four sections (English on its own, then with history, theatre and Creative Writing) were really well explained as to make it exciting; there were political jokes and the lecturers who did the talks were both hilarious and thought-provoking at times. Somebody who had graduated spoke to us, as well as another undergraduate talking about a program which encouraged secondary school students to go into higher education. I loved it, so why did I walk out of the talk feeling sick?

The abbreviated answer is that I don’t know if the writing part of it was something I wanted to do. I’d lost focus in that talk, zoning out as I thought about nothing; I was unable to concentrate on the words. The future seemed absolutely bleak to me then and I sat there, shaking with the knowledge that everything felt like it was meaningless and worthless and like I was somehow broken in a stupid way. It was more than me feeling just sad; I felt desperately worried at the sheer amount of uncertainty. I kept on thinking, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I good enough?” and although I knew I was, that second-guessing shocked me. I didn’t want it there, in a room full of people who loved reading and writing just as much as I did. For a while after that, I was very silent and honestly terrified because my apathetic reaction to the talk confused and upset me. When I went into the drop-in session afterwards and spoke to a student doing the course I wanted to do, everything felt better but I presented myself as quite uninterested, bored even, despite the fact that I wasn’t. I wanted to know but the excitement seemed to have been drawn out of me, somehow.

When I got home, I had time to think. Yes, I was feeling unhappy and not thrilled at the prospect then but now, I see what a great course it actually is. I love the university and people there were passionate about their subject and where they were studying. Only when I look back can I understand that although I can’t quite remember what was said in the talks, I know that I enjoyed myself.

Perspective doesn’t make it “all better.” Even for my more positive attitude, I still feel desperate and sad and very panicked, for various reasons. Things are looking up though, in at least one aspect of my life – the university aspect. My work ethic and personal issues are weighing me down but my future’s a little less scary. That counts for something, right?

Was it my fearful reaction to me being emotionless that marred the English talk slightly? Is Warwick really the right place for me? Will I have a definite idea of what I want to do in the future, without feeling panicked? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I think, though, that I don’t to know just yet. I still have time ahead of me.

Have you been to Warwick and what did you think? Do you know what you want to do in the future?

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

Alive with Ideas

Hii!
I have no idea where time’s gone. This week has been a blur: it was Monday, I blinked and now it’s Thursday. I’m so sorry for not posting in what feels like ages; I have no excuse!

Yesterday, something pretty amazing happened. No, I didn’t suddenly solve all my problems; no, I wasn’t swept off my feet by some dashing person (though that would be funny). No: I got really, really excited about work.

I’ve been getting pretty behind on all my subjects which caused me a hell of a lot of stress, not to mention the stress from all the work I have to catch up on from me being sick on Monday. I have to do a bucketload of history, Psychology and too much English to think of but strangely, positively, the English is the least stressful. You’d think it wouldn’t be: I missed my appointment for my coursework (that’s not even called coursework any more) because I was ill. I hadn’t done the preparation I’d needed to do but yet again, life proved me wrong. Everything turned out better than okay.

For our English “Non-Examined Assessment”, we have to compare two texts of our choice on a topic of our choosing. I chose to go down the line of female empowerment in Moll Flanders and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (I’ve only read the second one). Typically, I haven’t done much research on the subject, just the books themselves.

On Thursday, after a series of emails between me and my English teacher, I agreed to go and see her at lunch. Instead of stressing, I didn’t let myself think about it much: I didn’t see friends that day though and spent the entire time “working” or trying to. When the time actually came, my head started buzzing with thoughts of what I’d say and how’d I’d say it. It was the first time – because I’d never been taught by her before this year properly – that she’d really get to see what I was like when I was passionate. She’d get to see a side of me that nobody, not even I, have seen in weeks.

I walked into the English classroom with something like lightness. Despite not really knowing what I was talking about, I wanted to talk about it. I knew that here, to her, I could express my opinion and be happy about that. It’s rare for me to ever do that; I often hide behind the opinions of others because I’m too afraid to show my own thoughts. Here, it was flipped on its head and although I feel quite disconnected from everything right now, then I felt wholly with it, connected and involved with the words I was speaking.

Essentially, we refined my idea into the way female empowerment may be controlled by their relationships with men in the two novels. I remember almost shouting “OH MY GOSH exactly!” when she said a particular point I agreed with to do with Lady Chatterley. I got painfully excited when I started talking about social context, like I never am in class. There, I’m quiet or harsh when I have a point but then? I was confident and I smiled. It was surprising for me because I’m not used to myself being enthusiastic.

After we’d stopped talking about my coursework, we spoke about other literature. I recommended a book to her, honestly squealed about Jane Eyre – would you call it fangirling? Did I fangirl with my English teacher?! By the time we were done talking, we’d been speaking for about half an hour (when it should have taken only 15 minutes) because we kept expanding on topics in a part stream of consciousness.

I forgot what it was like to feel like I knew what I was doing. I utterly neglected the fact of my mind, that it can whir and bring forth ideas like any other. She let me see, through her exclamations of “I love that idea!” that I’m not just a cardboard cutout of an English student.

Yesterday, I think I proved something to myself. I showed myself that I do have feelings, thoughts and worlds of possibility right at my fingertips. Unlike normally, I showed my real, unfiltered personality. Maybe it was only a small part of myself; maybe it was only for a short time; maybe it was only to one person. It doesn’t matter.

Don’t be afraid to show your passions to people. You aren’t stupid, sad or weird for getting excited about things that others might not get excited about. If your heart sings when you think about a certain thing – books, TV shows, things that make you happy – you can show that to people. Don’t hide behind what you think people will think of you because at the end of the day, these are your feelings and they are beautiful.

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

What I Can’t Say | A Letter

Last night, I had a dream that you actually cared about me.

When I woke up, feeling ill and shaking with something a little like fear, I cried because I realised the dream was just that – a dream. Over the next hour, it hit me that not only did you not care but there was nothing I could do to make you care. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it give a shit about the water, after all.

I could send you a thousand messages, do everything possible to get your attention but that’s what they call “attention-seeking”. I could tell you if I felt miserable in the hours when I wasn’t sleeping; I could let you know just how sad I’m feeling; I could tell you that when I spoke to you, it calmed something within me but no matter that it’s true, even if you believed me, you still wouldn’t care. There wouldn’t be much use in exhausting all avenues of communication if it’ll just go unanswered. It wouldn’t be of much use if it’d just make you hate me.

Now, I don’t think you hate me, just that you don’t care. We’ve gone through too much for you to hate me; you’ve said it countless times. However, the ceaseless paranoia I feel in the cavity of my stomach makes me believe that you just don’t care: that you’re tired of caring. It’s like all my attempts to talk to you, instead of bringing you closer, have pushed you away. Maybe it’s my fault, for being odd and scarily attached to people, but sometimes, it just happens.

You may think that I write this in anger that you wouldn’t care but the truth is, I’ve come to accept it. Yes, it breaks me a fair bit that the beautiful friendship I suppose we still had will be marred by me, where I constantly seek reassurance, but it’s part of things which I have to come to terms with. I’ll change that part of me but for now, I know that when I next speak to you, I’ll be filled with the terror that I’ll say something that’ll make things worse. That doesn’t mean I’m angry or resentful; it just means that I’m both scared of myself and of having direct proof that I’m losing you.

I’m a jumble of thoughts. I want you to care but I don’t want to show you that because I can turn into a pathetic mess. I don’t want to be misconstrued as attention-seeking when a small part of me wants a crying sort of assurance. In short, you make me become a juxtaposition, like I want to shove you away in case I screw things up but I also want to still have you here because no matter that you don’t care, I still care. Will that tear me apart? Perhaps but I must stop lying to myself and I have to stop pretending that I don’t have a heart.

You’ll never read this and that’s why I can say all these things, all of the confused strands of paranoia and loneliness spilling out onto a screen. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe you do care but I don’t want to waste energy wishing. In time, you’ll prove to me that you care or that you don’t and then I’ll know. I’ll just have to wait and try not to lock myself into a loop of wild hope and crushing disappointment.

People stay in your life and people leave; people are there for a short time and a long time and often, you can’t predict what it’ll be. I couldn’t say what you’ll be to me in 5 years because you may have cut off all communication with me by then. It’s okay to do that but what I can’t deal with is this uncertainty: I know that you don’t care as much now but to what extent is still not known to me. Time heals all wounds, they say, but how much time are we willing to give each other?

If you do end up reading this, I might get a message telling me I don’t know you at all, that this just shows that I don’t understand you. To that, I’d say “I’m sorry but in order for me to understand you, you have to let me.” Or I may just leave it. You may say, “Why would you think I don’t care – I have a lot going on so I’m sorry for that.” Or you may never send me a message at all.

I’m not sad now; I’m not angry. I’m neither resigned nor hopeful. I’m just here and so are you and that’s, really, what matters. Beneath all the confusion and torn up thoughts, silent wonderings and spoken happiness, we’re still here.

I’m glad of that. Maybe, at some point, I’ll get my answer but if not? I’m still here.

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

Trying to Change my Mindset

Often, I set myself up for disappointment.

I prepare my mind for the worst case scenario: “They’re going to cancel on me”, “They hate me”, “It’s really, really not going to work.” I think and think until I feel an awful panic in the back of my mind that what I think will happen. Usually, it doesn’t. Usually, if something happens, it wasn’t what I was hoping for but it was close enough to it: it isn’t a completely hopeless situation because there’s still something left. That’s what’s bearable, when things aren’t great but they aren’t the worst and you can content yourself with that. Your mind hasn’t proved you right so yet again, you can tell yourself that what you thought was illogical and it makes shit more real.

Sometimes, when I hope for something, I really hope for it even if it’s far off. I think of a bad thing that could stop it from happening but I let my mind ignore that; I let it go because I know it wouldn’t happen. Either that or I think it won’t and so it builds like a beautiful dream inside my head. That’s when I’m most happy and least anxious, although looking back that happiness is a frail thing and I don’t trust it; it’s almost wild. That’s because when or if it doesn’t work out, when it doesn’t even get close to working out, I shatter and can’t cope.

My issue is that when I don’t fully prepare myself for a bad situation and it happens to me, I get surprised. I then get angry, telling myself that I should have known, that I shouldn’t have hoped because hoping is useless. I don ‘that allow myself to think, “Actually, this isn’t the end of the world because you can’t prepare for every eventuality.” I just tell myself that of course, it should have been expected – that person hates me, that they wouldn’t ever want to spend time with me and how could I ever think otherwise?

It’s unpleasant and unhealthy, sending me into a spiral of unhappiness. I give up, slowly letting myself believe everything is terrible. If you couldn’t tell, I’m very good at taking emotions to the extreme. However, I don’t do this all the time: I only do it with big disappointments or when something I’d been hoping for for a long time falls through. It’s not everything but it’s to exhaust me and because of that exhaustion, I hardly ever talk about it.

Now that I’ve given you an idea of what I think, I want to tell you that I hate thinking like this. Friends have repeatedly told me that a mindset change starts with me but I’ve always been too afraid and felt way too fragile to even begin to start picking myself up. Outwardly, I often act utterly unbothered (unless it’s very bad) but inwardly, I get used to the feeling of plans not working out and of that crushing sensation you get when you have no idea what to do now.

The solution is not to stop hoping for things. Hope should be a driving force behind what people do; it’s what holds you up and it’s healthy when you don’t rely on it. Neither is the solution to stop dreaming of things that won’t happen: it’s good to do that sometimes because having an imagination is great but I won’t let that take over my life as it’s done before. I have trouble enough distinguishing between whether I’m lying to myself or not and I don’t want to constantly feel that.

Right now, I don’t know what the solution is. I can’t put it in place straight away: yes, I’m sick of feeling disappointed and like I’m weak with it but I can’t make that magically disappear in a day. It’s going to take time and energy on top of the time and energy I devote to other things. It won’t be easy but I’m willing to try.

Perhaps it’ll take days, weeks, months or years. Perhaps I’ll give up halfway through or not even know how to start before. Even though I’ve done that before, it doesn’t mean I’ll do it again so I have to hold onto that to stop myself from disappearing into a well of hopelessness. That won’t do me any good.

If you’ve had a disappointment recently, remember that there is always something else to pick you up and to let you hope again. One disappointment isn’t the end of the world; ten disappointments after one another isn’t either. Don’t give up on hope and most of all, don’t give up on yourself. Only you can get inside your mind and tell yourself that even if this one thing didn’t work out, one day, something will.

One day, you’ll be happy. One day, someone will love you and maybe it’s not the person you won’t now but now is not forever. It’s okay to dream and hope and wish, even when they don’t work because those hopes are part of you. Don’t let that fade away.

How do you cope with disappointment?

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

How I Write my Blog Posts!

A long time ago, I said that I’d write a post about, well, how I write posts. (It kind of makes my blog feel self-aware and now I’m creeped out). Finally, I present you with this mismatched pile of ideas so that you can get a look into how I write and what I do to get the best blog post possible that I’m satisfied with. That’s why I say “form” because there’s a lot more work than just writing the words. Usually.

This post is inspired by Jasmine and another one by Smiling Dreamer. If you haven’t read their blogs before, DO IT because they are such amazing people AND I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!

Inspiration

Usually, inspiration comes to me from a random thought I have in the middle of the day. Whether it’s to do with my personal life, the people around me or something poetic I’ve heard or thought of, it makes my brain spin in a whirl of ideas. If I know I’ll forget it, I write it down on my computer (I wish I could write in a blogging notebook, honestly). However, I’ll usually be thinking about it all day, formulating little ideas from that first snippet of inspiration. It’s a literal mind map.

Planning

For very long posts or posts that I find especially difficult to write, I do a lot of planning. The posts like that are ones about events I’ve been to, very emotional posts or posts where I give advice to you because I’m LITERALLY AWFUL. I write down initial ideas, often phrases or words that I really want to include. After that, I organise it into vague paragraphs (because I’m a disorganised child and never stick to it). When I’m done with initial ideas, I check through it and add anything else. (God I wish I had a notebook because I can’t use one)

Actually Writing the Thing

After I plan it, I spend about 5 minutes thinking about how I want to write it. It’s to organise my thoughts mostly but also to not stress myself out. I write below my plan – hardly ever in the WordPress editor itself unless I’m feeling rebellious and just want to write. When I write, I usually write constantly until it’s done; if I get distracted I’ll stop writing. When that happens, I come back to it later in the day when I’m in the mood to write. An important thing is to never force your words out: make sure you’re enjoying the writing or if not enjoying then you’re enthusiastic about it. If blogging turns into a chore, you may end up feeling unhappy with your finished post because it’s not what you wanted to write. (I wrote write too many times and now it doesn’t feel like a word)

Proofreading because My Grammar is Terrible

I never used to proofread but ever since I realised that I loved writing more than I loved most things, it’s become an important step in the way I write. Embarrassingly, I’ve made some painful spelling mistakes in my old posts that I didn’t even notice so now, I use spell-checker to catch the big mistakes. Then, I proofread once in depth and then once to check that it flows nicely and actually sounds intelligible. The worst thing is publishing and realising that you’ve written a run-on sentence that sounds horrendous when you read it back to yourself. Whilst I’m at it, I add any formatting like headings and italics in the editor because although I can’t see it, you guys can and I want to emphasise some words or make things organised. If you don’t proofread then don’t worry; it’s not an essential part of blogging but if it makes you feel better then do it! I think blogging should be doing what you want rather than following too much advice that you don’t actually think will help.

Tags and Categories and All That Jazz

I think this is one of the most important steps for me personally because it means more people interact with your work. After I’ve put my post in the editor and formatted it, I get into the tagging part. Call me shallow but getting comments really makes me happy and tags means that more people are likely to enjoy your writing. I usually do a lot of tags (but no more than 12 or so because it doesn’t appear on the tags themselves if you do more than 15 plus categories). I also categorise my posts so that they’re more organised and if readers look at my blog itself, they can actually find things without trawling through pages of blog posts. I’d get bored, too. Also, because I’m paranoid, I check the spelling of tags twice just in case I overlooked it the first time.

Sharing is Caring Right??

I publicise my blog to Twitter so that it posts automatically: I usually add a message to the tweet that’s either supposed to be funny (it never ends up being) or it explains a tiny bit of what the post is about. As well as that, I write excerpts if the beginning of the post doesn’t summarise the post itself. I only started really using excerpts recently so I’m still figuring out how they work. Someone help me???

Publish!

Is it just me that gets mildly terrified when I publish a post that’s particularly personal? I also get a bit worried if I’ve worked hard on it and it turns out to be crap. However, if I have worked on the post for ages, I know I’ve put my all into it and there’s nothing more I can do. Well I mean, I could write for a billion hours but there’s that little thing called life…

Although I say I have a long process, I don’t always stick to it. It no longer stresses me out when I don’t; I’ve learnt that flexibility is really important and that if I change my routine a bit or leave one small step out, it doesn’t make me a bad blogger.

If you write posts in a different way, I’d love to know about it! Everyone writes differently so it’ll be really interesting to see how you do it – or if you don’t have a system.

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

The Story of a Life

I don’t know what to title this. I don’t know if I can give a title to all my conflicting emotions. Whatever this ends up saying, it’ll be simple words for a complicated story – not my story – that I feel like I need to tell. I don’t know who else is going to tell it but I want to, anyway.

I don’t want to ask you to do something but if you could, would you read to the end of this? This is the story of a woman I barely knew; this is the story of someone who appeared to have such little hope left but this is a story that, for all its unhappiness, needs to be told.

My grandmother on my father’s side came to England in her early twenties, shortly after she married my grandfather. It was the 60s and she, coming from Sweden, knew a bit of English and learned it from the television. She’s deaf, with her hearing having got worse throughout her lifetime. But this is not her story. This is the story of someone she knew.

My grandma went to work in translation. It was her first job in England and there, she met a woman called Inga-Britta. Her boss, Inga-Britta was also Swedish and at some point in her life, whether before or long after she met Grandma, she became deaf as well. They were friends and as first friends often do, they stayed in contact. They had known each other for over 50 years.

I won’t say much about Inga-Britta’s life. I don’t feel like it would be respectful to her or the people she knew to reveal the details, like it’s some kind of thing to be whispered about. It was not a happy life by any means but it was a life, the little I know of it. She had a son who passed away; she had friends; she had my Grandmother and a woman called Beryl, her next-door neighbour called Joan. I won’t pretend to know her likes, dislikes or anything like that. All of what I know has been pieced together over the last few years.

Long ago, perhaps 10-15 years ago, she moved into a care home. She had dementia but she could remember Swedish, a little English; she knew my Grandmother but not my dad. For years, she’d been ill, in and out of hospital but it was what it was and she carried on. She’d forget key details about her life but she always remembered my Grandma and I suppose it was because it was an old memory.

I grew up hearing her name, from my Grandma going to visit her and then, later, my father and I going to see her. My dad used to go to bookshops and ask for large print books (her sight deteriorated) and whenever they had them, he’d take them to her. It was memories like that that made her stick in my mind: she was my dad’s “Auntie Inga-Britta” and that was how it was.

One day, we went to see her and brought books, a lamp which my dad helped put up on the wall and some biscuits. I held her hand, smiled at her and listened to her talking. Although she forgot who we were halfway through, it was okay because it was Inga-Britta and she was there. My grandmother had explained to me that would be how it would be. That’s the last memory I have of Inga-Britta; it’s one of my only memories aside from remembering Grandma and her speaking Swedish.

Yesterday evening, she died. It wasn’t unexpected; she had been ill for months, getting worse. I only found this out after I heard but my grandma had gone to see her, holding her hand and talking in Swedish even though she couldn’t hear. Grandma told me that herself, that it was sad but that it was the best thing under her circumstances. It would have been more cruel for her to keep living and she’s now at peace, whatever peace is. She died peacefully, in her sleep I think and whether it was a nurse or a staff member, she always had people holding her hand.

I cried, partly out of shock. Inga-Britta was someone who I thought, perhaps naively, wouldn’t pass away for years to come. She was always there and awfully, when she wasn’t, it made me realise the sheer mortality of myself. I cried for that and Cried for her and I suppose, Cried for the people who’d never be cried over. Even though she wasn’t one of them. Even though I had little right, not knowing her or them or the stories of anyone.

I am sad. I’ve been unable to concentrate, from a mix of strange grief and contemplative silences. I almost feel like I’ve got no right to mourn her when I only knew her as Inga-Britta, my grandma’s friend.

The tragedy for me was not in her passing but rather in the life she had before it. It was okay, true, but it wasn’t something happy or joyous. It was sad and it was a life in a sea of lives but to me, it means something. To people, it may be just an old woman who had dementia, who passed away peacefully but to me? She was Inga-Britta, just that, and she was a friend of my Grandmother’s.

I want you to understand something. Everyone has a right to grieve; everyone has a right to be sad over a life of which they’ve maybe, only, seen a corner. I may not know anything about Inga-Britta really and perhaps I’m making awful assumptions, telling a story that isn’t real but to me, it was and is real.

This was not a story of someone who fought. This was not a story of someone who gave up and was weak. This is a story of someone who just was. There will always be stories like that and that’s okay.

I’m sorry if this has affected you in a negative way. I’m always here to talk and listen if you’re grieving.

There are some stories – some lives – I’ll never forget. Hers is one of them. I hope, in some way, you’ll remember her too if only in snatches of thought.

From Elm

Pretend Until It’s Real

I’ll pretend like I’m okay

For you, until you stop noticing

Because you are sick of my shattered smiles

My wide eyes barely focusing.

I’ll pretend as if I think you care,

Not like your sweet words hurt, cruel

Because they must be that – sugar on bland paper

For who’d be there, looking for me,

The little broken fool?

I’ll pretend like you’re a beginning,

A song inside a harmony

When all you ever gave me

Was a hopeless string of endings.

I’ll pretend like I don’t think of you,

Teeth bared, a tiger, a glow

In the dark. When really,

I’m breaking into shards as I know

It’s too late for love.

I’ll pretend as if my tears are pretty

And turn them into the only love story

That applies now. The only one

You’ll never see.

But I won’t pretend like you ever loved me,

Like I’m a second glance in a window

Or a fire lit bright:

That ended, I decided,

When I pretended my mind was right.


This is a weird poem which I wrote when I was having a bad day in terms of mental health; I often have moments where I get paranoid that I’m pretending to feel things and that I’m lying to myself. To make myself ackknowledge that, I wrote this poem; it’s both a way of exploring my mind and understanding that sometimes, pretending and faking isn’t a good way to try and deal with everything.

I hope, in a way, this can help you like it helped me.

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚

Anxiety tag – Collaboration with Larissa!

Hi guys!

It’s Elm and I’m ridiculously excited to be collaborating with an amazing blogger and friend of mine, Larissa from this blog – we’ll be doing the Anxiety Tag! I’ve also posted on her blog.


Hey everyone, I am Larissa from the blog Lifeoflarissablog.wordpress.com and I am guest posting for the lovely Elm. I am 17 and have just gone in to year 13, I enjoy blogging about school as well as mental health, lifestyle and my thoughts. I want to be a lawyer when I am older and so I will be blogging more about my journey to university as well as my love of murder mysteries and Mun.

1)When did your anxiety start?<
t started when I was very young. I have always been a shy and quiet person but bullying early on made me retreat into my shell even more, it made every day social situations more difficult.

2)What symptoms do you have?<
t can vary but when I feel anxious I usually have a very fast heartbeat, I find it difficult to breathe/ move, I can feel dizzy too.

3)How do you control it? I am going to do a full blog post on my blog about this but mostly through green tea and theanine capsules (which is in green tea). I also find taking time for myself and doing things I enjoy calms me down a lot too.

4) Have you ever tried yoga/meditation/acupuncture?<
have found that acupuncture has helped me so so much, it helps me to feel more relaxed. I enjoy doing pilates when I feel very stressed after school or in the holidays, it is a great activity to do in a revision break too.

5)Does it impact on your everyday life?<
y anxiety tends to be worse in term time. I feel very anxious around school because of the stresses of work, university application and crowds of people. Some days are worse than others for no reason at all but my anxiety is better when I have less lessons and more free time by myself or with friends.

6)Have you made any changes to your life because of anxiety?<
have had to find differing ways to control my anxiety. I have also learnt that it is important to face your fears but also realise it’s ok to stay within your comfort zone too. Also, you have to realise who to confide in regarding anxiety as some people will not help you through it at all.

7)Do any foods make your anxiety worse?<
ot that I know of but possibly fast food. I can’t eat lots of fast food because of my gluten and dairy allergies but eating chips tends to make me feel bloated and more anxious.

8)Has your anxiety changed with age?<
have learned how to control it more with age. It has also changed with age, as when you are younger you care less what people think. As life becomes more complicated when you are older, you have to take on more responsibility my anxiety has got worse.Also, as I have left behind friends along the way too I have found it more difficult to deal with anxiety.

9)Do people in your life understand your condition? My family find it difficult to understand, some of my friends understand and others don’t at all. However, I also have some friends who do not understand it at all but try to be there for me in any way they can even if it is just going out for a coffee or having a chat in a quiet room.

10)What is your best advice for their struggling with mental health issues?<
would say that talking to someone about what you are feeling is so important, you can’t keep these feelings to yourself. I would say to take every day as it comes and try to figure out your own ways to control your anxiety. If you need help go for it but make sure you have researched a range of different options first!<
his is a good website to check out!! ๐Ÿ’ญ

http://anxietynetwork.com/content/social-anxiety-questions-and-answers

As well as the NHS website too!!

I hope you guys enjoyed this post and it was beneficial/ interesting to some of you guys

Larissa xox

Parties, Dogs and Getting my Life Together | A Life Update

The title of this post is probably a bit odd but honestly, it was the first thing that popped into my head to summarise what’s been happening for the last week. In my typical disorganised style, I’ll be updating you on the hopelessly boring life of Elm. Apologies if you fall asleep.

Knowing me, I’ll forget what happened this week – and a lot did – so I’ll write it down for myself, too. I’ve missed chronicling my cringy exploits for you to laugh at. I should start doing it more often. So, here we go: I’ll start from exactly a week ago.

Last Thursday, I went to a party in London where I only knew one person. It sounds like a stupid idea but really, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done, as is most of my spontaneous and adventurous plans. It was my friend Silva’s birthday: she’s a girl who goes to school in Dorset and who contacted me a few months ago about me going to speak at her school – you can read more about her here. I went into the city by myself, met her and all her friends and went to her house. Not only was she lovely (and her puns are something special) but all the people she invited, as well as her parents, made me feel so comfortable that I forgot to be scared.

First of all, her house is huge and actually has a hot tub. I’d brought a swimming costume for the hell of it and it was great because I didn’t feel self-conscious about the idea of showing that much skin. I think that not knowing many people really helped with that, although throughout the evening I made friends such as a girl who shares my love for LGBTQ YA books, a girl who’s been trained as a sniper and a guy who honestly owns a lake. I sang at the top of my voice, had painfully deep conversations within 15 minutes of speaking to a girl and got dehydrated at one point so that I nearly fell over. It ended up with me sitting on a sofa at 3:00 in the morning, singing my heart out to a Taylor Swift song with 3 people I’d known for a grand total of 9 hours. Because it was so late, most of us stayed the night (someone slept in a cupboard) and in the morning, I was driven back to the station by Silva’s mum with another girl. It was honestly fantastic and, unsurprisingly, has increased my confidence: it turns out that I’m able to be myself around people who didn’t know me before.

Friday was spent recovering and I can honestly say I did nothing that day apart from complain about how tired I was. I’d got about 3 hours of proper sleep and couldn’t really interact with anyone without yawning. Saturday was a little more eventful: I went into London, yet again, for a meeting on a campaign in which I’m involved. The other two people that were there are amazing and before we got into organising anything, we had a 10 minute conversation about the woes of school (as I always do). It was great to meet up with them again and hopefully, we’re going to get the campaign underway: I can’t reveal too much about it because of anonymity. After that, I went home to my dad’s house and exhaustedly read some of the book that I was supposed to read for English ages ago. Oops… Sunday was pretty much the same as Friday: dreadfully boring with no excitement at all. I mean I wrote a post but that was about it!

Monday was the day of my mobility lesson. If you didn’t know, I’ve been having some mobility lessons over the summer – learning routes round my local area because I’m blind and had not much independence until now. My mobility officer is amazing (the amount of times we go off topic is brilliant) and she works with Guide Dogs, the charity, because at some point I really want to get a Guide Dog of my own. One of my best friends, L, has one and you should really go and check out his blog because it’s amazing. Anyway, it was what I thought was my last mobility lesson with her on Monday and we went to a bust depo, explored a bus, talked to two bloody lovely bus drivers and got driven around town. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a while, dealing with the confusion of the public who saw a nearly empty bus driving past, having conversations with the bus drivers and wandering around. After that had ended, I spoke to my mobility officer and I may be able to get a Guide Dog sooner than I thought!!! As you can tell, thinking about that makes me so so happy because it would be a huge step forward for me, confidence-wise.

One time, I’ll write a whole post about why I really want to get a Guide Dog. I think it’ll really increase my independence and give me a lot more confidence which is, at the moment, the main thing that’s blocking me from doing a lot of things. However, it is a long process and isn’t as simple as saying “Oh hello, here’s your dog, byee!”

On Monday evening, I prepared for school which was to be the next day. I had a bit of a cry that night because I was honestly terrified, not of school but of the coming year as last year was so shit. Even so, on Tuesday morning I got myself up and spent a while getting myself ready because I could feel the nerves getting to me. Sadly, it was a bit of a pointless day: we went in at 11, had a half an hour assembly and then an hour of form. We then had a barbecue to welcome the Year 12s which was run by our Student Reps (two of them are Wren and Red). I loved it but I don’t know if it was worth me going in, although I caught up with Pine who I hadn’t seen all summer, Wren, Red and my other friend Swan. The day ended with some of the Student Reps doing the Cha Cha Slide and Wren and I catching up and having one of the deepest conversations I’ve had in weeks. That bit was fabulous!

It turns out that I’m not at school until next Monday, where my timetable starts properly. Because I’m now allowed to have my Guide Dogs mobility officer instead of my local one, I’m going to organise which day I’ll have a lesson on. That’s made me feel a little more productive but still, over the last two days, I’ve had nothing much to do. All the work I’m supposed to do seems a little pointless: I know I have to do it but I can’t get the motivation to do it. I’m almost at a loose end but the thought of getting back into a routine, despite the bleakness of everything, has helped me through things.

At some point this weekend, I’ll do the Psychology work and English work that needs to be done. I also need to sort out a couple of worrying things to do with both my mental health and with some of my friends: it’s mostly trying to alleviate some awful paranoia I’ve been feeling. I just need to try and get as much negativity out of my life as possible because I get enough of it from my own mind anyway.

All in all, it’s been a hectic week. From parties to screaming over my new timetable, from periods of complete inactivity to hours where I’ve been reading non-stop and from thinking that I’ll never be independent to having that door thrown open again, things aren’t too bad. I’m honestly a little disgusted that I didn’t update you on it sooner; I’ve been painfully unmotivated recently as I mention in every single conversation.

How has your week been? Let me know in the comments!

From Elm ๐Ÿ™‚