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The winding path out of here

7 May 2018 | Post A Comment

Today isn't a bad day. I've been having some of these lately but I can't let myself get too excited. There's every chance I'll come crashing down tomorrow and I don't want to add any unnecessary height to fall from.

But sometimes when my mind isn't full of that one shade of black, it is very tempting to let my thoughts venture into the future and what it might be like to be burdened less heavily by mental illness.

This isn't easy, because I don't know any different. My thoughts have always been poisoned by OCD and it's friends and if I can continue to drag myself from their grasp I don't where that will leave me. I don't know who that will leave me.

It's so hard to imagine an existence where my OCD won't be triggered into overdrive multiple times an hour. I don't know if that is even a possibility. Is a future free of checking for exits and toilets and escape routes too much to ask for? Will I ever live without the fear of my next tumble into darkness and away from reality. Will I ever be able to experience an enjoyment that I am a part of instead of floating above in my world of alternate racing thoughts or that barren, numb nothing. Sometimes I wonder if there will be a future me who won't have to explain that small cut on my hand was just an accident, I promise.

When a mind has been lost to illness as long as mine the path through the darkness can never be straight but winding and complex. Each bend blocks the view of some strange unknown. If you sprint towards futile imaginings of what might be you will remain lost or fall. I suppose the only way out is one small step at a time taken with a sense of curiosity and hope.

April Reading Wrap Up

30 April 2018 | Post A Comment

If you have read this post you will know that books are a big passion of mine. I also love to talk about books to anyone who will listen so I thought I would share a monthly wrap up and review of the books I read that month and hopefully you will come across a book or two that sparks your interest. I got quite a lot of reading done in April which was helped by the #25infive readathon I took part in on Instagram where I read 25 hours in 5 days. Over the month I read 7 books with an average rating of 3.5 out of 5 and just one 5 star book.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris ***

I wanted to start the month off with a quick and easy book to get me going. A commercial thriller is something I like to treat myself to once in a while and this hit the spot. I got through it in a day or 2 and was eager to find out what happened. Whilst it had me gripped, the 'twists' in the plot are given up way too early and easily and I found the characterisation of the main characters poor so I didn't feel like I could give it more than 3 stars.  Jack wasn't a developed layered villain, just a straight up evil guy which didn't allow for much psychological suspense. 

A Closed And Common Orbit by Becky Chambers *****

This was definitely my favourite book of the month. A Closed And Common Orbit is the second book in The Wayfarer series and I enjoyed the first (A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet) just as much earlier in the year. The series is a fun sci-fi novel which is simply a delight. This is easy to read, fun fiction done well! The world is so immersive and the characters felt like my friends. It's a character and world focussed story rather than relying on plot, which is just how I like my books! I loved finding out more about the different alien species and really enjoyed the exploration into our own strange human ways of doing things and how they weird they would be to other species.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje ***

This is the story of a nameless burn victim of World War 2 and the unlikely joining of his life with a young nurse, a thief and a military sapper in an abandoned Italian monastery as the war comes to a close. The prose in this book is stunning and some of the scenes described are still etched into my memory with such beautiful detail. I can really see why people love this, in some ways I loved it. But that is where my love for this novel ends. I felt the pacing was off and the flitting between dreams and memories had no grounding and to me felt confusing and unnecessary. Some of the character's stories repeated themselves and started again at different points in time and I just couldn't connect with it. I think I might look into some other books written by Ondaatje to see if I can find the same beautiful writing paired with a story I can immerse myself in. If you have read this I would be interested to know what you thought of it.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart ***

After feeling a little disheartened reading The English Patient I wanted to go back to an easier read. We Were Liars is a book about a girl trying to work through her memory gaps of a particular family summer holiday to an island they visit yearly. I think I expected too much from this book, I wanted it to be sinister and full of excitement and suspense but it just fell a bit flat.

The Crimson Petal And The White by Michel Faber ****

Before I started reading this I somehow underestimated what I was undertaking, this is a Victorian historical fiction with 800+ pages full of prostitution, death and scandal. I really enjoyed the narration of this novel, it opens with the voice of the omniscient narrator guiding you through the story. "Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them. This city I am bringing you to is vast and intricate, and you have not been here before. You may imagine, from other stories you’ve read, that you know it well, but those stories flattered you, welcoming you as a friend, treating you as if you belonged. The truth is that you are an alien from another time and place altogether." I felt like this narration was forgotten slightly as the story progresses and it felt a little jarring each time it reemerged which was a shame. I did love the characters and I am a huge fan of Faber's writing in this book and The Book Of Strange New Things. Hopefully I will get to Under The Skin next month.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb ***

I have been eager to get into a new (to me) epic fantasy series and after hearing so many amazing things about Robin Hobb's series I thought I would give her first series a go. Unfortunately I don't think this is the series for me. I felt like the character's fit pretty snuggly into the typical tropes for a coming of age fantasy novel and it didn't leave me feeling very excited. I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters and I never felt absorbed in the world. My biggest problem was the first 100 pages. It was the slowest, dullest start to a book I have read in a while and I'm glad it did finally start to pick up as I would have definitely struggled to finish it. I think I will continue with the trilogy and give it another chance and will definitely read her second trilogy which I have heard to be a lot better. 

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari ****

Late last year I loved Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus is the follow up, a look into the future of our species. Harari is an excellent writer. He conveys complicated ideas in such an approachable way, he writes with sincere patience and a passionate desperation to be understood. I love it. The deduction of one star is due to some overlap between Homo Deus and Sapiens which although necessary, I didn't find quite so engaging. If you are interested in humanity and want to explore it in a very wide, engaging and accessible way you just have to read both these books!

What did you read in April? Please leave me a comment if you have any recommendations for me, I am constantly on the look out for new books!


16 April 2018 | Post A Comment

I love books. I love the physicality of them, the smell, the feel. The weight of a precious story lying unread, a silent secret waiting to speak.

Reading is about discovery. It's the transportation through space and time which allows you to see the wonders and cruelties of the world through another's eyes. It's exploring cultures and experiences so apart from your own and finding out vastly different ways in which it is possible to live. It's discovering new ways of thinking about things you never even knew you could think about. 

And in reading we can also find comfort and familiarity. Reading is the quiet excitement in finding yourself in the words or thoughts of a character in the pages of a book. I remember the connection I felt with the unnamed narrator in Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier as she reacted to certain situations with the same thought pattern that I would. Read until you find that character who thinks with your thoughts and speaks with your voice and you have found a book that feels like home. 

"That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet" - Jhumpa Lahiri 

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Cicero

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive" - James Baldwin

My Vegan Story

14 April 2018 | Post A Comment

For the first 20 years of my life, I loved eating meat, I was a huge fan of a roast dinner on a Sunday, I was chocolate obsessed, I drunk milk by the gallon and my first choice at a restaurant was always steak or burger. Growing up, family meals always centred around meat and like most of us, I didn't question it, it was just what you eat. 

But leading up to a year ago I gradually felt a sense of unease around eating animals and started to question what we have all been taught to be normal. I started to think about the obvious double standards we have in this society around which animals we chose to eat and exploit and those we love to love. I remember being curious of the national outrage at the possibility of horse meat being found in certain burgers whilst this same nation eats 2.6 million cows a year. Most of us in Britain are disgusted by the thought of people eating guinea pig or dog in cultures where this is just as acceptable as us eating hens and sheep. My family had recently moved to the Yorkshire Dales and surrounded by the lovely calves in the springtime I found myself wondering what went on to produce so much milk. What happened to the male dairy calves? How do the farmers make the cows produce so much milk? Why aren't their calves drinking it?

As I searched for answers I was horrified by the truth. 

My first year vegan has, in most ways, been easier than I could have imagined. I have a new found love for food and now, the food is actually good for me! I enjoy fuelling my body with foods that humans have evolved to thrive on and that fight diseases rather than cause them. I no longer crave any of the foods I used to enjoy and I have been excited by the many vegan alternatives that didn't involve such terrible suffering. 

I have also found it extremely difficult. Not in terms of expense (it's cheaper) or effort (it's easier) but being exposed to this dark, hidden side of our society is heart breaking. Knowing what is going on behind closed slaughter house doors is devastating and it's hard to accept that I contributed to it for so long. I struggle with accepting that so many people would rather stay blissfully ignorant than face up to what is going on. 

This isn't meant to be a post where I beg you to turn vegan, I am sharing how I came upon this lifestyle. But, if you are interested at all in finding out more I urge you to watch this one video. It is all recent footage from the uk. Watch this one if you are from the US. If you have any questions at all or want any advice, I would be more than happy to help.

This is my vegan story. Maybe yours will start today?