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The Dark Months

31 October 2016 | Post A Comment

It seems like everyone is loving Autumn at the moment. Social media makes it sound like everyone is running through piles of leaves with the perfect berry lip, drinking hot chocolate and smelling like cinnamon. Everyone is instagramming pictures of dead leaves and I'm pretty sure pumpkin emojis are building an army and taking over all twitter handles. Autumn has become the 'cool' season, the season the biggest fashion bloggers rave about and all the lifestyle bloggers write about. 

I know I am one of them, I have fallen victim to Autumn's golden charm. But I think the thing with the colder seasons is that they require effort. You can't really enjoy a crisp Autumn walk without at least an hour of cold weather preparation and positive attitude building beforehand. An enjoyable evening needs the blanket level to be just right and a good book to make up for the mediocre hot chocolate you just pretended was amazing on instagram. I wrote the post '10 Things To Do This Autumn' to inspire myself to make the most of the season because without doing those things you can easily let the short days pass by in a rather depressing cycle. 

This time of year isn't always candles and fairy lights, sometimes its loneliness, darkness and cold. When you're living with a mental illness or are just having a bit of a bad time it isn't always easy to gather the motivation to enjoy the season, and that's ok too. Try not to get swept up in the idea that everyone is having an amazing time by the looks of their Instagram feed.

Despite all this I think I would still choose Autumn as my favourite season as it requires you to do the work to make the most of it. It makes you look for the beauty and then look for it again and you better appreciate it in the moment, because it won't look the same tomorrow. You have to wake up and inspire yourself to make the most of the day you are given even if the wind and cold is shouting at you to get back into bed.


"October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces" -J.K Rowling

Why I decided to go digital with my blog organisation

29 October 2016 | Post A Comment

One of the important things I needed to do when planning for All Things Beautiful relaunch was create an organisation system that worked. I knew I wanted to post every other day but for me this just isn't possible without a great system that I enjoy using and that keeps the content flowing. I've always loved print outs such as checklists and tables to fill out with a bunch of pretty coloured pens, but I am a perfectionist and as I was filling out one of the sheets for the 7th time with my bin slowly filling up with scrunched up pieces paper I had deemed 'not good enough' (spelling mistake, smudged ink, handwriting that became massive as I went down the page...) I realised this was never going to be productive. So I turned to my MacBook Air and properly linked my iPhone to the iCloud and tried to work out how I could use the two to have a fluid system that I could access wherever I was. 

This is what I did.
  • Utilised 'Pages' to create a content plan for each month with the topics I want to blog about, so as I think of a new post idea I can write it in the relevant topic for the month I want to post it. 
  • When it comes to planning the posts for the month I can create an editorial calendar on 'Calendar', filling in which posts from the plan I want to post on each day. 
  • I also use 'Calendar' to fill out when an essential task needs completing by. You can change the colour of the events so you can separate blogging and personal things. I like being able to see them both together so I know if I have a lot going on one week I can move blog bits around to fit in with it. 
  • I use 'Numbers' to develop a stats table so I can access it and work out where I am towards each goal and easily input information at the end of the week/month.  
  • 'Notes' can also be easily synced to your phone for recording sudden inspiration. Whenever you get an idea for a post or series you can jot it down and transfer it to your content plans later. 

I feel like there are so many advantages of using technology in the way that's most useful to you that it's a no brainer to choose it over files and paper and notebooks. Once you have set up a system that works the same way that you think and can be accessed from anywhere at anytime you'll be surprised with the difference it makes to how you blog and think up new content. 

If you're a blogger what do you use to organise and plan content? Or if you're not, how do you use technology to help organise your life? What have you tried that hasn't worked? I'd be really interested to know so feel free to leave a comment or tweet me here


"Organise your life around your dreams and watch them come true" - unknown

5 Things That Might Be Making Your Anxiety Worse

27 October 2016 | Post A Comment

I have suffered with anxiety and panic attacks for many years now. In that time I have built up an awareness of what makes me feel better and worse. I have found that it was often the things I thought I was doing to help my anxiety that were in reality making it worse. It's likely that if you suffer with anxiety and panic attacks you have probably done, or are doing some of these unhelpful things too, thinking they are helping like I did. It might be a good idea to just tackle one that you know you are guilty of and see if stopping it makes a difference. If you don't have panic attacks or anxiety but do any of these things it's probably still a good idea to stop them, and see if they make a positive difference to your life too. 

1. Trying too hard to force away anxious thoughts- When your head feels full to the brim of negative anxious thoughts it is very tempting to put all your mental strength into pushing them away. This sounds like a good idea but often makes the anxious thoughts return with a vengeance. This is known as 'thought suppression'. When someone tells you not to think of something, it suddenly becomes the only thing you want to think about. You might have played the impossible game at school with the one rule that if you think of 'the game' you lose- it's impossible to win! Trying to force away the thoughts that are causing you anxiety is often counter productive and makes them worse. Try to accept the thoughts and gently allow them to come and go instead whilst trying to keep yourself busy with a stimulating activity that you enjoy. 

2. Avoiding all anxiety provoking environments and situations- If doing something or going somewhere causes you to feel very anxious or have a panic attack it makes sense to want to avoid it, you don't want to feel these things. The problem is that by avoiding them, you are reinforcing the idea that the situation is dangerous and should be feared. You should try to expose yourself to these situational triggers slowly, maybe ask someone you trust to come with you for support, but only at first, and then try it without them, slowly increasing exposure time.

3. Spending time with negative people- This doesn't necessarily mean avoiding people that make you anxious as that contradicts the previous point. But if you find yourself spending time with people that are always putting you down or talking about negative topics it could really do you and your anxiety some good to spend less time with these people.

4. Using unhealthy/illegal substances to cope- For about a year I used alcohol to cope with the difficulties I was facing. Short term, alcohol made my anxieties disappear and allowed me to enjoy life, without it I struggled more than ever and I developed a dependance. This dependance made me feel so much worse. If you find yourself using alcohol or another harmful substance to cope with your difficulties frequently it will almost certainly be making your anxiety and any other mental difficulties worse in the long run. If you have been doing this for a while you might need help to stop so I would advise getting help from a professional. 

5. Keeping your worries to yourself- No matter what it is you're worried about, telling someone you trust and who has your best interests at heart will make you feel at least a bit better. It's so easy to keep your anxious thoughts to yourself if admitting them scares you or makes you feel ashamed but I promise, they usually sound worse outside your head than they seem inside. If you can't think of anyone right now to talk to, send me an email to bethhinds59@gmail.com I'm happy to help.

How many of these do you find yourself doing? Which will you be making an effort to stop? 


"Anxiety, I will transform you into something useful and productive. I will not bow down to you" -Jaeda Dewalt

How To Make Delicious Peanut Butter Fudge

25 October 2016 | Post A Comment

Fudge is one of my favourites treats to eat and its really fun to make when you can get it right. This is the best method I have come across, it's really easy to get a good texture, even if you're new to making fudge and tastes heavenly. I would recommend investing in a sugar thermometer, they're really cheap and really help getting the temperature accurate. You can do it without but it's a bit hit and miss if you'll get the mixture right or not.

What you'll need...

500g sugar
1 tbsp. glucose syrup (can be bought in the baking section of most supermarkets)
150ml milk (whole is best)
150g butter
150g crunchy peanut butter

Line a loaf tin with cling film and fill a large bowl with really cold water. Heat all the ingredients very slowly on a low heat until everything has melted and dissolved. Brush the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to get rid of any undissolved sugar crystals as leaving them can make fudge grainy. Place the thermometer in the mixture and bring to the boil. When it reaches 116c quickly put the pan in the cold water and leave for 5 minutes. Then beat the fudge until thick with an electric whisk or a a hand whisk until your arm hurts too much to carry on and pour into the prepared tin. Leave until it is completely cold before cutting.

I told you it was easy! If you don't have a thermometer, you need a small bowl of cold water. When the fudge has been boiling for around 2 minutes, take a teaspoon of the mixture and place into the water, if you can mould it into a ball with your fingers it has reached soft ball stage and is ready to go!

Have you ever tried making fudge? Do you think you'll be having a go at making this? 

"Come now Harry, the Ministry doesn't send people to Azkaban for blowing up their aunts." - Cornelius Fudge 

A Torrent of Consciousness

23 October 2016 | Post A Comment
I wrote this post one night last week...

What shall I write about... I have been trying to force a post to come for a couple of hours now. I've realised that forcing doesn't seem to be the best technique for thinking up new content, it doesn't work. So maybe I just write, let my thoughts bleed. I could be clever and call this a stream of consciousness but a stream sounds too calm. Read if you want, leave if you want.

Today has been a bad day. My brain feels clouded, I have no motivation, my patience has disappeared, the dark makes me scared, every noise makes me jump, I'm frustrated with myself, and right now, I hate myself. After everything I have fought and overcome I still get swept up in days like these and it just feels so terribly unfair. My hands seem to shake unless I am pulling out my hair. My body feels numb until I accidentally nick myself with some scissors and realise that's all I need, physical pain. But I shouldn't, and I can't, because I've promised. All the noises seem to be scratching inside my head, they hurt, but not in the way I want. My thoughts feel so heavy, so thick and so dark and the worst of it is that I know what it is that can make them light. I need only a sip. It's not true, it's just what I tell myself. It's never only a sip. And I can't anyway, because I've promised. 'Are you ok?' 'Yes, I'm fine'. 


Sometimes, I listen to music when I don’t feel here or real or alive. Or maybe it’s not that. Maybe I just don’t want to be here, or real, or alive, that’s easier. I should stop thinking now. Bury my head in a book that doesn’t hold my attention for longer than it takes me to read the same line over and over again. I should take my book and have a bath and try really hard not to drown. Make a cup of tea and try not to pour the boiling water over my skin. Put on some makeup, do my hair, don’t pull it out.

"What if we just need the bad days to really feel the good" -Me on a good day

The most efficient way to think up content and a walkthrough on how to do it

21 October 2016 | Post A Comment

With the relaunch of All Things Beautiful I wanted to really focus on content. I wanted to be ahead of my self by about a month so I didn't have the last minute panic of what to write and so I could keep up posting consistently on alternate days. So before launch day I needed to come up with a good chunk of interesting and inspiring ideas. When I need to get a big bulk of content ideas together I tend to go with this method which always works. So grab a pen and some paper because you're going to be writing lists and getting some ideas down.

First, list 5 topics or subtopics your blog covers and write another list of the types/formats of posts you could use such as wish lists, top 5..., favourites of the week, beginner guides, rants or advice posts. Now you should write five post titles for the first five topics you wrote using each of the formats you wrote for the second step. For example-

Beauty-
  1. My Christmas Wish List
  2. Top 5 Hairstyles for Back to School
  3. Favourite Beauty Articles of the Week
  4. Beginners guide to false lashes
  5. Why I hate (something beauty related)
Now do the same for each of your categories and you will have at least 25 post titles ready to go, how easy was that? Of course it can be better to come up with posts whenever you feel inspired but this can be more productive for when you just need to get organised and some ideas right now!

If you have a blog, let me know in the comments if you found this useful and how many post ideas you were able to come up with. Do you think you have a better way of thinking up content you could share with us all?

"Creativity is intelligence having fun" -Albert Einstein

A Letter To Alcohol

19 October 2016 | Post A Comment

Dear Alcohol,

It's been 85 days since we were together but it feels like so much longer. Without you my mind has felt a bit clearer and it's allowed me to have some time to think some things through, so much has changed.

First, I want to say thank you. Thank you for taking away some of the pain and loneliness, even though it didn't always last for long, you got me through many nights alone. Thank you for relieving me of my anxiety and showing me what I am capable of without it. Thank you for teaching me to be confident and giving me the strength to do the things I thought I never could do. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes it's good to say what I'm thinking, to not hold back, to be open and to wear my heart on my sleeve. Thank you for showing me who I can be.

You taught me all these things for which I'm grateful but for you, it wasn't enough. You started to want total control and didn't like it when there was even a minute I wasn't thinking of you. My friends and family loved you too, but you didn't seem to control them the way you controlled me. You wanted days and days of just me and you, and you made me think it was what I wanted too. You made me think that I needed you to be brave and strong and unworried. You started to take over my life and make me feel like I couldn't cope without you. You showed me what it was like to be free and then dragged me back down into a different kind of prison. It was like a game to you. But the laughter and jokes started to die along with a part of me and suddenly it wasn't funny anymore. You weren't fun anymore, and people didn't like being with us. But we were inseparable and though others could see what you were doing to me, I was still blinded by your fun and charming persona. 

You controlled my every decision, started every argument and stopped me from taking the medication I desperately needed. The time finally came when I'd had enough. I didn't want my life to be controlled by you anymore. I remember the last day we met like it was just yesterday. I was still under your influence but knew we had to stop. We had been given one too many chances and you nearly ruined everything. I nearly ruined everything. And so I gathered all the strength I had and poured everything I had left down the sink. I drank one last drop, a final kiss goodbye.

It's been so difficult. At first I felt so terribly ill and depressed. All I wanted was to be with you again. I think about you so much throughout the day and how easy it would be to let you back in to numb all distressing and negative thoughts, how comforting. And sometimes I just want to experience that reckless joy you used to give me so desperately, it hurts. And you didn't make it easy for me, I still see you everywhere, having fun with other people, melting their worries away like you used to do mine. But I feel sorry for you now and all your friends. Yes, I miss you terribly and I'm still not over you, but maybe I am beginning to not 'need' you anymore. 

See you around,

Beth


“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

10 Things To Do This Autumn

17 October 2016 | Post A Comment

Autumn is probably my favourite season. I love the crisp mornings, dark nights and the perfect excuse to get cosy with a hot chocolate and a book and just chill. It really is a season to be enjoyed and I've put together a checklist so you can make the most of this Autumn. 



I hope I am able to go on lots of walks in the coming months as me and my boyfriend have just moved into a new house in a really nice area surrounded by woods and fields. I also need to make the most of my new kitchen and make some treats instead of just focusing on what's for tea. What would you add to this list and what will you be ticking off this autumn? 

"October is about trees revealing colours they've hidden all year. People have an October as well." J.M Storm

OCD- A Constant Train of Thought

15 October 2016 | Post A Comment
(Facts in this post have been taken from ocduk.org)

Mental Health is being talked about more and more and the stigma is slowly beginning to lift. Celebrities and the media are talking more about mental illnesses and people are becoming more aware and feel more comfortable sharing experiences. Conditions like depression and anxiety are getting lots of publicity and thats amazing but some illnesses like OCD are still plagued with so many false myths and light-hearted humour that it's beyond difficult for true sufferers to get the help and understanding that they need. 

When I searched Twitter and Facebook for the term 'OCD' mentioned by my friends and the people I follow I was flooded with an endless list of trivial jokes and light-hearted references to the illness. A quick search for the term 'depression' and I find links to charity websites, quotes to help those who are depressed among just a handful of unhelpful or uninformed comments. Why is it that society's awareness and understanding of OCD is so far behind that of so many of the other big mental illnesses? 

In the UK 1.2% of the population has OCD. 50% of these people are said to fall into the category of 'severe'. It was ranked the tenth most disabling illness of any kind and yet people still think it's funny to share '25 things that will piss off your friends with OCD'. 

I think part of the problem comes from a confusion between those claiming that their personal quirks are 'a bit OCD' and the understanding of the extent of the real symptoms. If someone can't leave the house without checking they've locked the door, and then double check, just in case, they are a responsible, safe person, not a sufferer of OCD. If they can't sleep at night because they've already checked the door 25 times and still believe it to be unlocked, they probably have OCD. If you have a sudden thought or urge to jump in front of a train, that's called having an 'intrusive thought' and about 9 in 10 people have them (I think the other 1 is probably lying). An OCD sufferer would not be able to brush away these thoughts, thinking it meant they were suicidal and consequently avoid going to train stations at all costs because they truly believed they would jump. This would most likely lead to a belief that they have no control over similar things such as running in front of a car every time one passed. Someone with OCD is so consumed by their intrusive thoughts to the point where it completely takes over their lives.

I have OCD. At different points in my life the focus has been different and has affected my life to different levels of severity. When I was 12, I would go days without drinking anything. I deeply believed that if I did drink something, I would wet myself. My thoughts were completely controlled by this obsession and the compulsions that came with it for at least 2 years and it is still an everyday battle to fight them 8 years later. For me, OCD has also presented itself in ways so distressing and upsetting that I cannot face to write them down here.

Having OCD is not a fun excuse to organise your books, keep somewhere clean, or check for spelling mistakes. It destroys lives and absolutely needs to be taken seriously. 

I am currently reading 'The Man Who Couldn't Stop' by David Adam which is an incredible book with both personal and factual insights that I would highly recommend if you want to look deeper into the condition. This week is OCD Awareness Week so please join in and do something to help promote awareness of this terrifyingly debilitating illness. Please, share this post, share any post that spreads awareness, educate yourself and start a discussion with others. This is important and more people need to understand in order for those who suffer to get help. Please. 


"If you're going through hell, keep going" -Winston Churchill

Bran Muffins For When You're Bored Of Breakfast

13 October 2016 | Post A Comment

When cereal gets boring and you don't want toast, these muffins make a breakfast you actually want to wake up for. They are perfect especially if you find yourself in a rush in the morning and need something quick and easy. You can bake a batch on Sunday and have them ready for the week or keep the mixture refrigerated and bake when needed. You can keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks before baking so there's no excuse to not get organised!

Here's what you need:

3 cups bran cereal (bran flakes)
1/2 cup raisins
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup oil

1. Mix the bran cereal, flour, raisins, caster sugar, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl until well combined.

2. Add the eggs, buttermilk and oil and mix well.

3. Fill muffin cases and bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until they are golden brown. Fill the cases so they are 2/3 full to get even, perfect muffins. You can serve them warm straight from the oven or wait to cool. 

It really is as simple as that. I hope you try out the recipe and let me know what you think! And also, what measurements do you prefer to see in recipes? I like cups because they are so much easier than weighing everything out but what do you prefer?


"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!" -Lewis Carroll

My Experience on Anti-Depressants (Citalopram)

11 October 2016 | Post A Comment

I first went on antidepressants when I was about 17. I had been battling depression for about a year which came with a host of other difficulties as is usually the case with mental illness. At the time I was put on Citalopram I certainly wasn't at my worst. I had been worse and I was going to get worse but I was at a place where I had the strength to give them a go. The terrible irony with depression, anxiety and other mental difficulties is that the thought of taking chemicals to treat these conditions usually makes them worse to begin with. Your anxiety is raised with the fear of what these tablets are going to do and your depression feels worse because you feel beaten by it. The tiny pill in your hand seems to scream "you couldn't fight this on your own, you have failed'. At least this was the experience for me. 

The first day I felt nothing but heightened anxiety. The second I felt extremely dizzy and unwell. By the third I was in hospital and had lost the ability to move. 

When my legs first started to fit, my dad quickly phoned for an ambulance and tried to keep me calm, as if he was trying to keep a fish from swimming. If I tried to stop my legs from shaking my muscles screamed in pain and allowing them to shake was uncomfortable, exhausting and terrifying. Apparently the paramedics came in minutes but of course it felt like hours. After convincing them that yes, I was having a panic attack but no, it's not 'just' a panic attack I was finally carried to the ambulance. 

For at least six months after I was in hospital I would have a panic attack every time I heard an ambulance whether it was in real life, on the television, or something that I imagined to sound like an ambulance. The sound of sirens still sends my heart racing and causes my skin to prickle and heat up. Just another thing to add to my list of things I have deemed 'dangerous'.

They got me a bed and said they needed to take bloods, quickly. I had a really bad phobia of needles. Once they had found me a more private bed with curtains around as a barrier between the Saturday night drunks and my terrified screams they came in with the needles. I turned the music up louder in my ears and told my mum about my favourite scenes in Harry Potter, anything to take my mind off what was going on. By then my whole body was fitting and my skin felt like it was on fire and I couldn't help but think how they were going to get the needle into my shaking arm. When I thought it was all over I was flooded with relief only to be told they couldn't get the vein and I had to wait while another 2 nurses came and tried. The last one took some blood and finally left me to rest although warned me that it may not be enough. I think I waited about an hour and in that time my muscles had stopped fitting but were beginning to tense up and I had an intense pain in my neck and the worst feeling of pins and needles over my entire body. A doctor came back in and told me what I'd been fearing, they hadn't managed to take enough blood. 

There have been countless occasions in the years that followed where I have found myself trapped on that hospital bed in the cage of my terrifying mind. As if enduring the event the first time wasn't enough. The mind can be cruel.

By this time I couldn't move at all. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to go somewhere far away. I walked up and down the same staircase in a holiday villa in Spain over and over again, the same way I had countless times before to get me through hour long panic attacks in school. Eventually my mind slowly drifted back to my current reality of the hospital and the tear-stained faces of my parents. "It's over", they said. A few hours later, I was able to stiffly move my limbs and refusing a wheelchair, I slowly walked back to the car, held up by my parents.

I have only flashing images of memories from the following days. It felt like my depression had spread past my mind and had infected my body too. My muscles took it in turns to cramp up, I couldn't stand up to brush my teeth without my legs cramping and fitting, I couldn't do stairs without someone helping me and I couldn't dress or wash myself on my own. When all I wanted to do was cry, my tongue and throat would cramp up and I would be left trapped in a panic of pain with the tears forcing their way out of my eyes, inside I was screaming with the excruciating unfairness of it all. My fitting legs wouldn't let me sleep and my tongue and throat wouldn't let me eat. I felt stuck inside an eternal hell, an internal war between my mind and body. 

The doctors think I probably suffered serotonin syndrome and although my body had recovered within a week, my mind would take more time. 

My difficulties with mental health have been persistent and have continued to come and sometimes go, presenting themselves in different forms with different faces and I have come to realise that they will always make up a part of what makes me, me. A couple of months ago I felt a strong feeling like it was time to try medication once more. Although I was terrified I listened to what I felt my mind and body was trying to tell me and started the journey again.

On a different type of medication my experience has been both similar and different and something I will talk about in a future post. I don't want this post to put people off trying medication as I know it is incredibly helpful for some and my next post on it will be more positive. I've decided to publish this post to help sort my feelings of the experience finally in my head and to share my experience and urge you to not take the decision to start antidepressants lightly. I also wanted to acknowledge that I came out the other side of this experience and was able to try again when the time was right. 

This happened, it was awful, and it was real. I did it, and became stronger because of it.

"You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering it rather than allowing it to master you." Brian Tracy

My Autumn Reading List

9 October 2016 | Post A Comment

Over the past couple of months I have really been struggling to read, when my mental health is low I seem to lose the ability and the words just don't sink in. I have been getting used to some new medication which has had some horrible side effects making any sort of brain process next to impossible. During the past week or so I feel like the brain fog is finally beginning to lift and I get windows of time where I am able to think clearly and reading a book becomes a possibility. There are so many opportunities to get cosy with a book in Autumn that I hope I actually get through this list and make the time to read and that my mind allows me to. Some of these books are on the darker side and perfect for a late October night and some are books that I have just been meaning to get to for a while. I'd love to know if you've read any of these books and what you thought of them.

(photos from Amazon and books linked in bold where you can buy them)

Daphne Du Maurier is one of my all time favourite authors with 'Rebecca' being one of my favourite books. I love to get lost in her descriptions and let them take me somewhere else. I haven't got round to reading Frenchman's Creek but I read some of her other books around this time of year so I'm confident this is going to be a good cosy read. 

I tried to read House of Leaves this time last year when I had less control of my mind and it completely terrified me and made me feel so anxious. Although it was awful, it must be a sign of a good book to make you feel something that real. If you buy one book this Autumn let it be this one! I'm going to attempt it again this year and hope the medication I'm taking that that helps me sleep will also hold back the nightmares...

Another book I have started and not finished is The Girl On The Train. After all the hype for this book and comparisons to Gone Girl, I started reading with high hopes and was left disappointed and put it to one side. I've watched the trailer for the film and it does look really good so I'm going to give it another go so I can then watch the film.

The Secret History has been a book I've wanted to read for a long time with the length putting me of a little. I have heard lots of good things about the plot and characterisation so I'm hoping to really bury myself in this one.



Last year I read 'The Book Of Strange New Things' by Michel Faber and completely loved it so I am excited to see if I get absorbed in the same way with The Crimson Petal and the White. They seem to be very different with one dealing with an alien missionary and the other a victorian prostitute. I'm interested to see to what extent Faber's style and voice of characters carries through. 

A couple of months ago I was in a bookshop with my boyfriend and he asked me to pick a book (best question ever??). We didn't have much time so I quickly grabbed The Perks of Being a Wallflower after deciding it's probably the book I've been meaning to read for the longest time and for whatever reason have never got to. I'm interested to see how the child narrator is written compared to others such as in 'Room' and 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time'. I am also yet to see the film adaptation so look forward to watching it after finishing the book.

I have been intrigued by Did You Ever Have a Family since it was long listed for the Man Booker 2015. It seems to be a steady tragedy with beautiful prose and I can't wait to find out more. 

'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath was a book I have actually managed to read recently. The mental health of the main character was something I could relate to so closely it allowed me to slip into her thoughts with relative ease as if they were my own. This was a slightly unsettling experience but I was entranced in her writing and raw portrayal of mental illness. I am looking forward to seeing how she handles similar themes in her poetry and getting a closer look into Plath's unstable mind with her collection Ariel.

What books are you hoping to read in the coming months? Let me know in the comments or on my social media linked in the side bar under my picture. I'd love to know and perhaps add them to my own list to read. 

"If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one's chances of survival increase with each book one reads." -Sherman Alexie

The simple thing you can do that will drastically change how you approach struggle

7 October 2016 | Post A Comment

After several years of battling mental illness I have developed a need to challenge myself and I'm obsessed with proving to myself that I can do things. I also get urges to do extreme things and get a thrill out of allowing myself to feel out of control and using my mental strength to get through it. Sometimes this can be positive and gives me the strength to do something I have to do or will get me through a difficult situation I can't avoid but sometimes it isn't helpful and I've ended up doing stupid or dangerous things. My favourite way at the moment to deal with these feelings is to get a spontaneous piercing. I have a fear of needles and hate having them but theres little chance of death and no one hates me for doing it so it seems to fit the bill even though I am starting to run out of space on my ears... I need something I can do that releases the self destructive urges and challenges me without being too stupid or dangerous. A cold shower doesn't solve all my problems and it won't solve all yours but it puts me in a position of discomfort and pain where I can use my mental strength to get through and I think it could really help you too.

Do you sometimes need a reminder that you are strong, brave and can get through struggle? There are definitely some real benefits of doing a cold shower challenge that everyone could get something out of it. I've found this is something that you can do on a morning that cements these positive affirmations that we try to force on our selves with real evidence. Maybe if you can prove you can stand through a freezing cold shower for a couple of minutes without getting out, maybe you could do that thing you've been scared of doing, maybe you can fight some of your own self doubt. Before you think I am completely crazy let me explain and then feel free to think what you want.

The thought of a freezing cold shower on a morning is a pretty painful idea, it's not something you want to do and it takes a significant amount of courage and positive energy to get through. Imagine starting the day by successfully doing something you think is too difficult and discovering it's not as bad as you expected. Now imagine how much easier it would be to apply this thinking to real life situations in your day knowing that you have already proved to yourself that you are resilient, determined and strong. It is a safe way to actively change the way we approach uncomfortable or difficult situations.

The temperature and the duration of the shower could be the same but the thoughts beforehand can change the entire experience, "I don't want to do this, this is going to be horrific, I'm going to freeze to death!" Vs "I can do this, this is going to be invigorating, I'm excited to see how far I can push myself!". Once you can see how much difference your mindset can make to the outcome it suddenly becomes something you can apply to difficult real life situations.

It turns out a cold shower in itself is actually pretty good for your body too. If you need more persuasion check out these scientifically proven benefits of having a cold shower in the morning-
  • Stimulates weight loss
  • Improves immunity and circulation
  • Boosts fertility
  • Can aid recovery for depression
  • Boosts recovery after exercise 
  • Improves hair and skin
  • Reduces stress
  • Increases alertness
  • Wakes you up
  • Helps you sleep better
Now I'm pretty sure that you're the crazy one now if you don't try it! Do you think this technique could be helpful to you? Please try it and tell me about your experience, I would be so interested to hear if it also works for you.

"Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery and I promise you something great will come of it" -Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

A moment of happiness and the happiness of a moment

5 October 2016 | Post A Comment

I just felt a moment of happiness. It came in a wave and I didn't recognise what it was at first and now I can't remember what it felt like but I know it was there. It totally took me aback, it was a feeling so foreign it quickly turned into something close to fear. Then I realised I had felt the same feeling before, lifetimes ago, in summer when I was six and in Christmases when Santa was real.

'Reasons To Stay Alive' by Matt Haig is probably the best book you could ever read if you want to try to understand depression and anxiety. I felt so much relief when I first read it as it normalised so many of the feelings that terrified me, it made me realise that I wasn't alone. It also vocalised so many of the feelings that I was struggling to explain or understand. Sentence after sentence I would sigh in relief, this is what I've been trying to say all along.

I have 3 copies of the book. One is new and unread and I like it because it's shiny and smells nice. One is the one I give out to people to read. And the other is the one I read first and read again and again. It is twice as thick as the other 2 copies, with pages folded all over the place and a couple of pages scrunched up because they spoke to me so loudly and so I can quickly get to them when my head is a mess.

One of these pages is 183. It talks about passing moments when things don't feel as bad. "I had another this morning. I was lying in bed just wondering if we had any cereal left. That was it. It was just a normal thing, and it lasted over a minute". I remember reading this the first time. As I read it I felt the 'lightness' that Matt talks about. It wasn't happiness, but it was a moment when I didn't feel buried under a pile of anxiety and despair, the pile was lifted and for just a moment I felt hope. I scrunched up the page in an effort to forever remember that moment, to remind myself that hope can exist in a moment and that sometimes a moment can last a long time. Today I am looking back on that day and realise the similarity in the moments I felt then and now. Yet this one of 'happiness' is miles away from that moment of 'lightness' years ago. Back then 'lightness' seemed all I could hope for, to wish for happiness would be greedy, it would never happen. But I was wrong, it happened, just then. And if a distance so far can be traveled in those years then maybe I am finally going the right way.

"Depression lies, but depression itself isn't a lie" -Matt Haig

My September New Music Playlist

3 October 2016 | Post A Comment

I think I constantly have music playing. It gets me through the day and I love nothing more than a solo night time car journey with my favourite songs playing louder than the voice in my head. These are the new songs I've been listening to this month. I have a very varied music taste so it's a bit of a mix but I hope you find some new songs that can give you something new to listen to and make you feel something. 


Florence Welch has such an amazing voice that makes you believe everything she says. Her new song 'Wish That You Were Here' is so honest and raw I probably cried the first 10 times I listened to it. I've also been listening to her most recent album 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful' on repeat and I swear it's perfect, I don't know how I hadn't heard it before. (Lucy, if you haven't already listened to it, do it now, i promise you'll love it!) My favourite song on the album is definitely 'St Jude', there are a couple of lines in it that just get me so hard every time. 'Delilah' is definitely a close second. 

I feel like it's been too long since Lady Gaga has released a new song. 'Perfect Illusion' has that Gaga vibe I've missed and makes me want to go back and listen to her old stuff which I don't really think she can beat.

The beginning of WALLS is the sound of my heart waiting for Kings of Leon's new album out in October. I am in love with the steady build up in this song that sounds like it's constantly on the edge of something bigger that never really amounts, leaving a feeling of unsettlement and a need to listen even more intensely. The relentless drum beat in the background carries the stripped back vocals leaving behind a song of honest beauty that forces itself to be heard again and again. 

I first heard James Arthur's new song turned down in the car whilst chatting to a friend and couldn't help but catch a few Ed-like lyrics and guitar and had to turn it up. James' voice is beautiful and I'm so pleased he's come out of the X Factor winner's hiding place with this song. 

My guilty pleasure is Pentatonix, their songs are infectious with their tight harmonies and creative arrangements. I was so excited by this new collab with Dolly Parton. The reinvention of this classic peaks at 1min 15 and takes it somewhere totally new and exciting.

'Okay' by The Piano Guys (who I have loved forever) is possibly the cheesiest, most uplifting song I've heard in a while. The lyrics are pretty cringeworthy but it might just be the best song you could listen to whilst cleaning the house on a sunny morning, starting your day off with a surge of positivity. 

The next couple of songs are going to give you the same feelings as the previous song and I can't help but listen to them with an internal smile. They sound like a final wave goodbye to summer days and ice creams and I think you're going to love them. 

To be honest, I didn't know who Jasmine Thompson was before, but she knows how to sing beautiful songs. You'll be singing out loud to this in your car after just a few listens pretending you're in a music video, or maybe that's just me? 

Another catchy one from Ellie Goulding. I hadn't realised that I had been listening to the remix of this for quite a while and not being that in love with it, this version is loads better and just as catchy. 

Bon Iver creates such magical music. '33 "GOD"' is so entrancingly ethereal and quietly enchanting, littered with samples and vivid imagery and ideas creating a masterpiece that demands to consume and transport you for 3 and a half minutes of brilliance. (Dad, listen to it in the dark)

I hope you got to the end of this post, it was longer than I expected. I throughly enjoyed disappearing in to the music in this post and I hope you can do the same. 


"We had what we wanted: your eyes. (When we leave this room it's gone)" - Bon Iver

Where I've been and where I'm going...

1 October 2016 | Post A Comment

It's been such a long time since I sat down and wrote a post for this blog. This is really not easy, I've been trying for the past hour to start and the words just won't come. I'm finally ticking through my endless list of things to do before I relaunch the site but I've been putting off the most essential task. Create content. Let's see what comes out. 

When I first started this blog in April 2011 I was 14 and full of enthusiasm for this new world I had discovered of blogging. I kept it a secret, very few people in my real life knew about my blogging life. I loved keeping it separate and having somewhere I could go that was easy and frivolous and so apart from my real life that was quickly slipping out of my control. In the next couple of years my mental health rapidly declined and life was becoming increasingly dark and terrifying. Yet I kept blogging about my 'favourite' lipstick or new shade of eyeshadow that I didn't even have the energy to wear. Whilst All Things Beautiful continued to be my escape, as time went on my frustrations grew and I felt like a fake. How could I carry on blogging about such superficial topics whilst being entirely consumed by an illness that felt so much bigger and deeper than anything my younger self could possibly have the courage to write about? 

My posts became less frequent, in turn my feedback and interaction with the blogging world  became less and so I gave up. 

It's been over a year since I last blogged properly. In that time I have healed massively from the previous traumatic years of growing up. Some things also got impossibly worse. I've faced difficulties that at times I truly thought I wouldn't survive. But I did, and I still am. I am infinitely stronger and more independant than I ever thought I could be and I finally feel ready to return to my old passion. And to return to it with honesty and integrity. I am going to blog about the things that have almost destroyed me and how I have built myself back up. I am going to do this for myself, because I believe talking about and sharing our deepest sufferings helps us heal and I am going to do this for you, in the hope that in sharing some of my struggles you can relate and perhaps find hope. I might even talk about my new favourite lipstick, because now I actually have the strength to get out of bed and put it on. And I am not going to hide, this isn't a secret. 


"Something will grow from all you are going through. And it will be you," -Unknown