Let’s Talk About OCD

Image source: International OCD Foundation

With OCD Awareness Week running from the 13th-19th October I wanted to share with you guys my own battle with the disorder and use this post to educate people on a condition that’s massively misunderstood and, in my opinion, not taken seriously enough. 

I think I’m going to make this into a series of posts, starting with my story of living with the disorder, some thoughts on the term ‘OCD’, and maybe try to get a couple of people I know who also have it share their story, because the way it manifests itself is never the same between two people. So as a disclaimer, the experience you read about in this post will be completely different if you speak to someone else, they’ll have different thought patterns, behaviours, anxieties, and it’s not something that can be generalised.

If you’ve never heard Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) before, it’s a mental health condition that makes a person have obsessive, intrusive thoughts and fears, and compulsive behaviours. These thoughts are neutralised through repetitive behaviours or thoughts, which have a significant impact on the person’s day to day life. It should be noted as well that, although a “normal” person might also have these thoughts, the difference is that they can just ignore them, brush them off in passing. But someone with OCD can’t accept them as just thoughts, and they can spiral by attaching validity to them, thinking they will actually come true because they’ve thought them, thinking that our internal thoughts will manifest in the external world.

I could ramble on and on about what OCD is, but that’s not the purpose of this post. I’m here to talk about my story in the hopes that

a) It will help raise awareness of the disorder

b) It might make someone recognise abnormal thought patterns in themselves and seek help

c) Get people to stop uSING OCD AS AN ADJECTIVE …because that is the BIGGEST pet peeve I have.

 

Red Flag
At the age of 11 I was diagnosed with OCD as a byproduct of boderline depression, because I was being bullied at school. A bit much for an 11 year old to handle if I’m honest. As gross as it sounds I had started picking up bits of rubbish off the floor at school, and only at school, because if I didn’t I would be overcome with crippling anxiety that something awful would happen either to myself or my family. These thoughts would range from them getting seriously injured or dying, to just me upsetting them.

It would also take me stupid amounts of time to get from one room to the next in my house due to checking and ritualistic behaviours. Again, if I didn’t do these behaviours I thought terrible things would happen, and they would be entirely my fault. My Mum would get mad because I’d come home with my blazer pockets full of discarded sweet wrappers and papers, and I didn’t know why I was doing it, nor could I stop it.

 

Diagnosis
It wasn’t until my neighbour, who was a nurse at the time, suggested that I see a doctor because it seemed characteristic of a disorder I had never even heard of before. So we booked an appointment with my GP, who referred me onto a psychologist, who, you guessed it, diagnosed me with OCD. Granted I don’t remember the whole session because it was 14 years ago now, but I remember being given a booklet about it and a self-help guide to read over until a space became available on for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which took almost nine months to get.

By the time I got to the top of the waiting list I thought I didn’t need it because I had moved schools and, although the compulsive behaviours and negative thoughts still existed, they were manageable and didn’t impact my day-to-day living as much as before.

 

Back at it again
So let’s fast forward to five years later, where it went from manageable to flaring up again due to GCSE stress. The rubbish picking never surfaced again, thank God, but the ritualistic behaviours did and they were starting to get worse than before. It started with little tapping behaviours, like having to touch objects a certain way a number of times (four lots of four) or with a certain hand (left, because I’m left handed) but then it had to be partnered with thinking positive thoughts and certain words.

Words were labelled as good or bad, not because they had positive or negative meanings, but because even the most abstract word could be associated somewhere down the line with something bad happening. I find it really difficult to explain this bit to people who haven’t gone through it themselves, because how could a word like “pop” or “tick” be seen as bad? I would have a set list of ‘good’ words to recite in my head whilst doing each behaviour, but if one ‘bad’ word came along I’d have to start the whole process again. It got to the point where it would take me at least a half hour to get from my bathroom to my bedroom, from the door to my bed, and settled. It’s exhausting.

An example of my most anxiety-provoking situation, as my future therapist would call it, was touching an object with my feet. So if I were walking across my room and touched, say, a bag on the floor with my feet, I would have to go and do all of these counting behaviours and think positive thoughts. If I thought one ‘bad’ word I would have to start again.

But why? Because touching something with your feet is related to kicking something, and kicking something means you intend to do harm or that you’re angry, and I didn’t want to hurt or upset someone in this way. I wasn’t a bad person, I don’t like upsetting people, and I thought I would do this to my family or people I care about.

That’s just an example of the sort of network of thoughts that I would spiral into, caused by behaviours that a “normal” person wouldn’t even think twice about. And it also got to the point where I couldn’t have other people touching my stuff with their feet either because that induced the same spiral of anxiety, and I would have to neutralise it with the compulsive behaviours.

Checking behaviours started to creep back in too, like checking the front-door handle 16 times (four lots of four) and keeping positive thoughts in mind, or checking and re-checking that the gas stove was off.

People with OCD tend to report that they blackout, where they try to remember something but start to doubt what they actually did or saw, or unknowingly create false memories. I felt this was the same for my checking behaviours, where I knew I had done them but couldn’t be sure if the gas was actually off, or if the door was actually locked, and I’ll go on later to say how I deal with this in the present day.

Even numbers have always been a bit of a bad habit for me, but it got to the point where friends would say things like “no because I’d have to give you two” and then laugh whenever I’d ask for one of their fries at lunch. I used to just brush it off and laugh along with them, but now that I look back it was kind of an asshole-move on their part. It goes hand-in-hand with people laughing when I say I have OCD, and them saying “what so do you clean a lot?” or “I’m so OCD too, my room has to always be tidy”. Again, don’t use it as an adjective or attribute your general cleanliness to a mental health condition. It invalidates the struggle of those who actually have to live with it.

I was in a relationship at the time and, despite there being many toxic aspects, one thing I could never fault him on was his understanding and support with all of this. He would wait patiently whilst I turned the light switches on and off, checked doors, or did my tapping rituals over and over again until they felt right. I didn’t need someone to tell me stop or that everything was fine, I just needed to work through it in my own head and not feel judged or watched.

 

CBT
Finally, I was put back on the CBT waiting list, and again it took nine months to finally see a psychologist. Now I don’t want to sit here and bitch about the NHS because I know it’s struggling and it’s disgusting how little funding mental health services receive (so I guess if anything I’m bitching about the government, sorry not sorry), but to this day my view is that CBT just wasn’t the right therapy for me. I already knew that my thoughts couldn’t cause harm and that these patterns and behaviours were irrational, even when I was in anxiety provoking situations I knew it, but I couldn’t stop doing them. I just think there were much better suited therapies on the NHS that could have been more effective in my situation. 

After my first therapist left the clinic 10 or so sessions in, I waited a couple of months to be reassigned to another, and it took a further 8 months to finally identify a coping strategy and reach a stage where my condition could be managed. It ended up being a strategy where I would delay neutralising a thought with a behaviour for 10 seconds, walk away, count to 10, and then if I still felt the need to do it then go back and do it.

It sounds so easy when you write it down but when your heart is racing and you’re thinking of all the bad things that will happen that will be your fault, it’s exhausting and it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to get myself to do, and I praise anyone who’s ever been through it too.

 

Where there’s one, there’s many
I finished CBT at the end of my first year of college, and although my intrusive thoughts and behaviours flared up from time to time, I could live with them and they didn’t interfere with my day-to-day living as much as before. 

Cue my unwelcome roommate, Mr Snuffles. In the November of my third year of university I started to wake up in the middle of the night to rustling sounds. At first I just thought it was the bag in my bin settling or bits of slate falling down the roof. Ha, I wish.

One morning I woke up to a Mars Bar wrapper half-way across my bedroom floor, even though I know I had put it in the bin the day before. That’s when I realised I had an unwanted guest of the mouse-variety living rent-free in my room. Turns out its pals were also living elsewhere in the kitchen, who our cat Jinx (read: neighbours cat who always came to chill with us) so kindly caught for us.

Looking back, I realised that since I was little I always had the fear of going blind by touching something dirty and getting it in my eyes, but it had never manifested itself into my OCD and become a problem. Until the mice arrived, because mice carry diseases and are unclean, and that will cause an infection, which will cause me to go blind.

See? Thought spirals. They get you every time.

I started to wash my hands more and more every day and couldn’t even touch my floor without having to smother them with hand-sanitiser straight after. It got to the point where it was painful to run my hands under water and they would start to bleed, but I couldn’t just stop doing it. I would exfoliate my hands every few days to get the cracked skin off and run them under freezing cold water because it was so soothing, and then coat them in moisturiser to help with the dryness.

I started to do it outside the house too, where anything that could be seen as ‘dirty’ or carrying germs might get onto my hands, then I’d rub my eyes before washing my hands, then I’d go blind.

This went on for two months or so and my mental health was once again quickly deteriorating. When I came back to uni after Christmas they had all seemed to disappear and my cleaning behaviours died down a little, but now that I’ve had had a problem with contamination once it’s never truly gone away, and I still find myself excessively washing my hands if I touch something I even think could infect me.

 

Australia
During my gap year in Australia my OCD never really flared up that much, probably because I was living that stress-free beach-everyday life…

 

Postgraduate
Throughout my Masters degree in -takes a breath- Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience I was also working a part-time job at uni. The course I was on technical-heavy and known to be intense, so for the year I was in a constant state of stress and had next-to-no social life until halfway through semester 2.

You see where this is going, right?

It took a month or so but my ritualistic checking behaviours started to come back in full force. These were the same as before: checking doors, the oven, etc.

I managed these throughout the year because what more can you do, I was used to it.

 

Present day
At the moment I’ve found checking behaviours to be more prominent in my day-to-day life. I’m that fed up with it now that I go around and take pictures of everything just to reduce the time it takes for checks, and so if I start to doubt myself later that I did them I can just refer back to the photos and neutralise the anxiety. This is called avoidance. I take pictures of them so I can avoid dealing with the anxious state that checking puts me in.

I shouldn’t do it, the same with how I shouldn’t try to neutralise bad thoughts with behaviours and positive thoughts because I’m just feeding in to the disorder, but I do it anyway.

Probably because I’ve lived with this thing for 14 years, that’s over half my damn life.

 

Sometimes I imagine being able to not feeling anxious in anticipation of leaving the house, knowing I’ve got to do my checks, or not constantly living in fear of getting contaminated and going blind.

But then I think, who would I be today if I hadn’t have been through all of this? How much has living with OCD shaped me as a person?

It sparked my initial interest in studying Psychology, and whilst OCD isn’t my research interest, it was still the driving factor to my now-passion.

I’m much more empathic to people with mental health conditions, knowing that everyone is fighting a battle regardless of whether you can see it. 

I’m conscious about the language I use. I don’t say “I’m depressed” I say “I feel low”. I don’t say “that gives me anxiety” (unless I’m actually talking about my OCD), I say “that makes me feel anxious”. And for God’s sake, I have the condition and I still don’t say “that’s so OCD” or “I’m a little OCD” because:

It’s not an adjective.

Mental health conditions are not an adjective.

I’ll go further into that in a future post, but it’s the main reason I never say ‘OCD’ the first time in a conversation, I’ll always say Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

 

And finally, it’s made me the hella strong person that I am today. Because I’ve had some really low moments not only trying to fight a battle within my own head, but also trying to fight a battle trying to justify the condition against people who don’t take it seriously, laugh about it when you tell them you’ve got it, or (have I already mentioned?) use it and other mental health conditions as an adjective.

 

Okay aaand breathe.

If you’ve made it through this whole post then congrats! I really hope this has been helpful in any way to anyone reading it. I could write a whole thesis on my experience but had to really miss out some details for reading purposes.

Some people don’t like talking about their mental health condition, and that’s okay, but if you ask me anything about mine I will talk for England because I want people to understand what it’s like, and to break any misinformation associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

If you’ve learned anything from this post, or have found it interesting, please share it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.

And if you have any questions, leave a comment or drop me a message. I’ll either reply directly or do another post answering them.

 

Until next time,
Liv
xox

Goals for my 25th year

25.

Twenty. Five.

Half way to fifty…

If you haven’t already guessed, I recently turned 25. Despite trying so hard to stay closer to 20 than 30 it was inevitable, and just like the New Year’s resolutions that I fail to uphold every year, I think of birthdays as a chance for self-improvement over the coming year.

For this year’s goals I’ve tried to look on the broader spectrum that could encompass a number of things, rather than super specific goals like “lose weight” or “eat healthy” (I do need start to do more of the latter of but let’s ignore that for now…)


1. Feel the fear and do it anyway
I first heard this piece of advice listening to a podcast with Jera Foster-Fell, one of my favourite Instagram influencers at the moment. Too often I find myself saying no because I’m scared of either failing, getting hurt, or avoiding the anxious feeling the situation creates. But I also think that if it makes you uncomfortable, do it. If it scares you, do it. So that’s how I’m approaching life this year, otherwise I’ll never grasp new opportunities to grow. And besides, being courageous isn’t about not feeling fear at all, it’s about -coming full circle here- feeling the fear and doing it anyway.


2. Happiness first

As someone who’s battled with an anxiety disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for almost 14 years now (time flies), I’ve been finding myself spiralling and getting into low states more often recently. To me, prioritising happiness means that I’ll do things and surround myself with people who contribute positively to my mental health, not holding on to toxic friendships, or continuously doing things that I know are making me feel pretty shitty about myself.


3. Feed the soul

I’ve always had a bad relationship with food. I binge, I feel guilty, I feel motivated to change, I get into a low state or stress, and I binge again. Instead of sitting here and saying “I’m going to eat so healthy this year!” knowing full well that’ll last a couple of weeks at most, I’m choosing to say that I’m going to try to fuel my body and soul with what feels right at the time and not hold myself to unrealistic expectations and restricting food I love. I think this could be the way that I build a good relationship with food, along with having my personal trainer hold me accountable and keeping me motivated (she’s a star).


4. Build better habits

This is kind of an umbrella for a range of things. From limiting phone screen time and avoiding getting stuck into blackholes of social media scrolling, to taking up meditation a few times a week and dedicating more time to my hobbies and interests, I need to start doing these things more often so they become a habit within my daily routine. I hope that in doing so I’ll be working towards goals 2 and 3 as well, contributing to my overall happiness and feeding the soul with these better, healthier habits.


5. Be comfortable with doing things alone

We’re all guilty of not going to watch a film we want to see or not eating out just because none of our friends want to do it. Getting over the anxious feeling of going out alone and not feeling judged or embarrassed is something I definitely need to work on seen as I’m –dare I say it– a grown adult.

…okay maybe I’m not ready to be a full adult yet but still! I’m sick of missing out on life (a bit dramatic) because I’m too afraid to be content with my own company in public.


6. Stop ruminating about the future

Uni lost my exam paper? No worries they’ll find it.

Car broke down in the middle of the Peaks? Eh it’s a story to tell.

I’m a pretty chill person when it comes to the little stressors in life, you know, the ones that aren’t life threatening or about money. But when it comes to uncertainties, that’s when I start to worry. Recently I’ve found myself ruminating more and more about the future, over aspects that I either can’t control or shouldn’t even be thinking about just yet. Constant worrying can affect your mental health and prevent you from enjoying the chapter of your life that you’re in right now. It happens so easily and it’s hard to stop once you start to spiral, but I think meditating and practicing gratitude for the present will help massively.

So there’s a couple of things I want to work on in my 25th year on earth. Notice how for once I didn’t say I was going to start blogging again and more often? Because we all know how that will go…

As you were
LG x

REFLECTING ON 2017: MY TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS

Well hello there! Remember me? I did say I was going to be very bad at blogging this semester, but I’ve come out of my Masters-hibernation to write this reflection because I absolutely love reading other bloggers’ posts about their yearly highlights, and I really enjoyed writing one last year for 2016, which you can read here.

2017 has been one hell of a year, starting out living in the southern hemisphere all the way in Australia, and ending it back home in Manchester. It was hard to narrow down the list to just 10 favourite moments and I could have rambled on forever about each and every one, but somehow I managed it, so sit back and enjoy my brief highlights from 2017 before we welcome in the New Year.

Getting onto/Starting my Masters degree
Both of these go hand in hand really, as getting onto the course in the first place was such a big achievement for me. I’m one of 18 who got accepted onto it and couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to be suffering doing it with. It’s a really intense and difficult course and everyone is so supportive of each other and we’ve all become super close (I guess mutual stress and pain brings people together???). I don’t think I’ve ever said on the blog what my course actually is, just that I’m doing one and that it’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced… Either way my MSc is in (take a breath) Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Au pairing
I wrote a post a few months ago about au pairing, and it is definitely one of my top highlights of 2017. I grew a lot as a person over those seven months, and it taught me that I can actually be a responsible adult when needed, and I’m capable of much more than I thought. Not only that, but I became so attached to Poppy and can’t imagine my Australian adventure without her.

Road trip through the outback
14 hours… 14 hours we drove from Orange to Adelaide, and was it worth it? Hell to the yeah it was worth it! I saw my first wild kangaroo, took pit stops in some proper rural towns, and got to visit my friend Toby in Mildura while he was completing his farm work. I also got photos at the NSW-Victoria, Victoria-South Australia, and South Australia-NSW borders which were such tourist moments but hey, it’s what I was there for.

Adelaide Fringe Festival
The Garden of Unearthly Delights was undoubtedly one of the most, dare I say it, instagrammable places I’ve ever been to. It was an incredible display of weird and wonderful lights and decorations, and pop-up bars and stalls had been derived from all sorts of things such as buses (yes, buses) and big-top tents.

Melbourne trip
Ah, Melbourne. Although Sydney was the place I called home, Melbourne is the city that holds my heart. Back in April I took a week-long holiday there and stayed with my Aussie friend, Issy. She took me to an AFL game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected, introduced me to a cafe dedicated entirely to bagels, and we road tripped along the Great Ocean Road. Her family were nothing but kind to me throughout my stay, and I’m so grateful for their hospitality that week. My friend Josh also took me on a tour of the city that included Hosier Lane, which was so cool, and I reunited with some friends I met in Sydney that I hadn’t seen in a while. At a time where I had been quite homesick this trip really cheered me up because, where Sydney is more like London, Melbourne is basically Manchester but with better food and better weather.

Boomtown
In August I experienced my first proper festival, and what an insane 5 days it was. Everyone I spoke to whilst there mentioned that I had picked an intense festival to start with, and, well, they weren’t wrong. Boomtown Fair is basically another city in itself, with different sectors and districts divided into Uptown and Downtown. Each year provides another chapter of its ongoing story, and there are actors all around the site playing out theatrical roles that make you feel like you’re actually living in this spectacular, made-up world. Another highlight from it was that I got to see Skindred live, who I’ve been a fan of since I was 15, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Glasgow Pride
During our annual visit to see the fam, Mum and I went to Glasgow Pride in the city centre, and it was nothing short of fabulous. Whether you were in the parade itself or just a spectator like we were, the whole day had a great atmosphere to it and I know we’ll be doing it all again next year.

Getting a job
After getting onto my MSc, my biggest worry was how I was going to fund my living expenses for the year, as my tuition fees take up my whole postgraduate loan. At the end of August though I got offered a part time job working for my University and I absolutely love it. Although working 20 hours a week alongside a full-time Masters is bloody stressful, I’ve never had a day where I’ve woken up dreading going to work, and I know that if I survive the next two semesters doing both then I’ll be a stronger person with a crackin’ CV.

Getting a car
I’m so in love with my Mini and extremely grateful for it. It’s improved my social life so much because I can just drive round to friends’ house without having to worry about walking around Fallowfield alone at night, and because I don’t drink I can drive to our local pub to hang out with my fave surf pals when they make last minute plans.

Tenerife and falling in love with surfing again
Although I vowed that I would never spend another Christmas in the sun, this year I spent it in Tenerife with my Mum. I’m so glad I went, not only because it was a nice break from the freezing cold English weather, but also because as part of my Christmas my Mum paid for me to do a surf school while we were there. I started surfing two years now but since the UMSC 2016 trip to Fuerteventura I’ve only been doing it every so often. Even in Australia I only surfed a couple of times, so I’ve not really improved much since I started. I also get quite anxious before getting in the water because my upper-body strength is basically non-existent and I always fall behind the group when trying to paddle out. Cue Tenerife and Kontraola Surf School! I spent the majority of my holiday in the water with the most amazing and supportive instructors who will always hold a special place in my heart. Surprisingly I was fine with paddling out back and over those two weeks I improved so much, with Miguel and Victoria teaching me how to turn properly and almost cutback (read: try to cutback but wipe out on rocks). I injured myself a lot over the week but hey, no pain no gain, right? I feel like I really needed that trip to make me fall in love with surfing again and get my confidence back up in the water, and now I’m sure as hell ready for Portugal in April with UMSC.

 

So there you have it, my top 10 highlights of 2017! I understand it’s quite a lengthy list, especially the last highlight, but amongst all the negative things that might have happened throughout the year it’s important to focus more attention on the good, and to continue doing so in 2018.

 

Until next year!

Liv

xo

TOP 7 LAZY DAY HALLOWEEN FILMS

Is it really that time of year again? Is it almost Halloween?! Aside from Christmas it’s my favourite seasonal holiday, with pumpkin carving, fall colours, an excuse to eat copious amounts of sugar (not that I need an excuse for that) and cosy nights in binge-watching all my favourite spooky films.

I’ve never been a fan of horror films (even though I went to watch IT the other week, but Stephen King is the exception to this rule) and I don’t think I ever will be. Instead I prefer family Halloween films that don’t give me nightmares after watching them and that I can enjoy in any mood.

So in the lead up to the 31st I’ve put together a list of my favourite seasonal films that I never get bored of and always dedicate time for on a lazy duvet day. After writing this list I realised that the majority were released before I was born, but hey, I love a good classic.

 

Hocus Pocus (1993)
A true classic. I feel like I don’t even need an explanation as to why I love this film so much. My housemate and I watched it again yesterday to get us into the Halloween spirit and it certainly worked, I mean, I’m writing this Halloween post aren’t I?

The Addams Family Values (1993)
I’ve loved all things Addams Family since I was a kid. When I was younger I wanted to be Wednesday Addams, and now as an adult Morticia is the absolute Queen. It’s a family classic you can enjoy at any age and any time of year.

Halloweentown (1998)
Even though it’s part of a series the first film is definitely the best, and although it’s was made by the Disney Channel I’ll still scream it from the rooftops that it’s one of my fave Halloween films.

Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
I’m a sucker for all things Tim Burton, and the great thing about this film is that it can be enjoyed from October all the way through to Christmas!

The Lost Boys (1987)
I don’t know how many of you will have heard of or seen The Lost Boys but if I made a list of my favourite films regardless of genre or time of year this would be on it (and not just because a young Kiefer Sunderland is easy on the eyes). For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s about two brothers who move to California, where the eldest befriends a group of vampires and the drama unfolds from there. By no means is it a teen-vampire film, so I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for an old classic to watch this spooky season.

Casper (1995)
You can’t have a Halloween movie list without the big dog (or little ghost) himself. Again, a timeless film for all ages that will bring a nostalgic feel to your night.

The Little Vampire (2000)
Both my Mum and I loooove this film! It’s about a boy who befriends a family of vampires and tries to save them from a sleezy hunter and help them on their quest to become human. My description doesn’t do it justice, but it really is a good family comedy that I’ll be making my kids watch one day.

 

So there you have it, seven of my favourite films to watch during the Halloween season. I understand these types of films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but horror films aren’t mine either. Plus these films will make you feel so nostalgic about your childhood, aside from The Lost Boys maybe, and that’s a feeling that I absolutely love.

Until next time

Liv

xo

23 THOUGHTS FOR TURNING 23

Okay first of all, holy crap I’m now 23. I’m closer to 25 than 20… And yet I feel no different than when I turned, say, 19. I’ve definitely grown as a person since then, but I still can’t cook, I still get my Mum to ring up the doctors/dentist/opticians to schedule my appointments, and evidently would still rather have a dog than a boyfriend (because Huskies can’t break your heart, right?).

I’ve read a ton of these kind of ’25 things to do before 25’ or ’20 thoughts on turning 20’ posts before, and I always thought it would be fun to do one myself when my birthday comes back around. So to celebrate my new-found OAP status (at least amongst my friends) I’ve compiled a list of 23 things that I’ve learned over the past few years and will be keeping in mind from now onwards.

 

  1. There’s no place like home. Dorothy really knew what she was talking about.
  2. Everything is temporary. My cousin said this to me last year when I was feeling homesick in Oz and it’s really stuck with me since then.
  3. Just eat the damn chocolate bar. I know I want to lose weight and be healthier, but depriving myself of things I love just makes me miserable.
  4. Listen to your body. Yes eat the chocolate bar, but learn to love it in moderation. I need to start realising when my body is telling me to stop, and nourish it by eating healthier options.
  5. Travelling solo will make you a stronger person.
  6. Keep asking questions. Some people find it annoying that I ask so many, but hey, that’s their problem to deal with, not mine.
  7. It’s okay not to be okay.
  8. Everything happens for a reason.
  9. You can say no to things without having to justify yourself. Sometimes all you need is a night at home with a cup of tea and the boxset of Friends.
  10. Don’t stress so much about the little things, especially those you can’t control. I’ve gotten pretty good at being more laid back this past year by asking myself “will this matter in 5 years?”
  11. Learning not to be insecure about my body is taking longer than I would like, but that’s okay, I’ll get there eventually.
  12. But on that note, I’m probably not as big as I think I am.
  13. People actually like freckles. I hate hate hate my freckles (but love them on other people) even though everyone else says they’re cute.
  14. Trying to hide that I have a heart and * gasp * have actual feelings is exhausting, and I’m done with it.
  15. Stop saying sorry so much. It’s such a Northerner thing to do, and I’m a very polite person, but if they bumped into me or something happens and it’s the other person’s fault, I’m no longer apologizing! I’m also going to stop apologizing for the things I enjoy.
  16. Quality over quantity when it comes to friends.
  17. Learn how to be comfortable with your own company. Travelling solo definitely taught me this, because you’re not always going to meet people straight away, and sometimes you might want to do something that no one else is interested in.
  18. Exercise!!! My goal over the next few months is to become as physically fit as I was this time last year, and I want to take on Tough Mudder next summer, which means the gym is going to be like my second home this year.
  19. Learn to cook, for goodness sake just learn to cook, otherwise you’ll end up like me; 23 and still living off bagels and Heinz tinned soup.
  20. Don’t feel guilty for spending money on experiences.
  21. A smile goes a long way.
  22. Make an effort every day, especially on your bad days. I find that it improves my mood even just slightly if I at least feel good about what I look like/what I’m wearing on an off-day.
  23. Forget what Blink-182 said. People will still like you when you’re 23.

 

 

Liv

xo

EXPLORING MELBOURNE: THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD

When I was planning my trip to Melbourne, I didn’t think I’d get the chance to do the Great Ocean Road, considering I didn’t have a car and didn’t want to rent one and do the trip all on my own. Cue Issy asking if I wanted to drive it with her. Of course I said yes! The road itself stretches along 243km of Australia’s south east coast from Torquay to Allansford, and was built by soldiers returning from World War 1.

Although the majority of the day was spent with an overcast sky, the views along the coast were so beautiful that the weather didn’t dampen our spirits.

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There was no way I was going to embark on this road trip and not stop off to get a picture at its famous memorial arch. Every person I know who has done the Great Ocean Road has taken the same photo, but hey, I’m a sucker for cliches.

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Along the way we stopped off at Urquharts Bluff, a beach hidden from view off the main road. Seen as we were the only ones around it was nice to just take a minute and bask in the peace and quiet away from the city, and the sun even made an appearance for the brief time we were down there.

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As Issy had to work that evening and we had set off quite late in the day we only made it as far as Lorne before heading back to the city, but not before stopping off at a pub on the main street for an early dinner. If we were doing this trip over a couple of days, which I would definitely recommend, I would like to have gone for a surf in Lorne, but instead we just settled for watching an ongoing lesson from the warm, dry confines of the pub.

Ideally I wanted to go as far as the 12 Apostles, which is around a 3 hour drive from Torquay, but I’ll just have to make that a priority for the next time I visit. Although a plus side of heading home early? RAINBOW ICE CREAM!

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Until next time,
Liv
xo

 

BREAKFAST AT HUFF BAGELRY, MELBOURNE

One thing I could eat every day for the rest of my life? Bagels. I went through an obsession in my second year of uni where that’s all I would eat, so imagine my excitement when Issy took me to a cafe dedicated entirely to bagels in Carnegie, Melbourne. Her Mum brought some home every morning for our breakfast which was super nice, and although I’m a picky eater and usually stick to plain or wholemeal, the onion and poppyseed bagels were my absolute favourite.


It wasn’t until my penultimate day in Melbourne that we actually sat in to eat. At first I thought, ‘how many bagels could there possibly be?’ and ‘will they only do bagels on their own? Or will there be proper breakfast meals with them?’. As we walked in the queue was already huge and there were no free tables in sight, but it didn’t take too long for a space to become available for us. I was spoiled for choice with the menu, ranging from sesame to blueberry and choc-chip bagels (I didn’t even know the latter two were a thing), alongside classic breakfast meals such as scrambled egg, a tuna melt, and a ‘Summer Brekky Bagel’.


Although the onion and poppyseed had been my favourite all week, I opted for the scrambled egg with a sesame seed bagel and an English breakfast tea (spot the Pommie). Even though I went with a simple option, it was still bloody delicious and kept me full for hours thereafter.


I was so sad to leave Huff Bagelry behind, so I’m hoping there’s a bagel cafe somewhere in Manchester that I’m yet to discover or someone gets the bright idea to open one themselves asap.

Until next time,
Liv

xo

EXPLORING MELBOURNE: HOSIER LANE

Hello hello! Now that I’ve got wifi back I can share with you all my little adventure to Melbourne a few weeks ago. I had heard countless times that Melbourne is way better than Sydney and that once I go I’ll ask myself why I stayed in the latter for so long. Now that I’ve actually been there I can say that this is 100% true. I really don’t know why it took me eight months to go visit the place, it stole my heart in so many ways and I wish I could have stayed there longer. This is the first in a series of Melbourne posts so I really hope you guys enjoy reading about what I got up to.

One of the main things Melbourne is known for is its crazy street art, so of course I was going to visit its most famous street and see it all for myself. Hosier Lane is just a short walk from Flinders Street station and Federation Square, and is lined with the most spectacular pieces of graffiti. Street art is widely celebrated here, which was refreshing to see, and the pieces of art were insanely good, making a once-normal laneway into an outdoor exhibition.

Just off Hosier Lane is Rutledge Lane, where not only are the buildings covered in graffiti, but also the wheelie bins that line the walls. Of course there were a ton of tourists (including Josh and I) walking along and taking photos, but it wasn’t so busy that I couldn’t stop to take some of my own and appreciate just how wonderful my surroundings were.


It was so nice to see graffiti art be appreciated as actual art, rather than just vandalism that makes a place look scruffy (which was most definitely not the case), and if you’re looking for things to do while you’re in Melbourne then Hosier Lane should be at the top of your list.

Until next time,

Liv

xo

STRAWBERRY PICKING @ BEERENBERG FARM

Good morning/evening wherever you are in the world! Aside from Fringe Festival, strawberry picking at Beerenberg Farm was also on my to-do list whilst in Adelaide. I had been told that this farm, located just outside the German town of Hahndorf, produces a really well known jam brand in Australia, and that it attracts a ton of visitors keen to pick and fill their punnets with the tastiest strawberries for themselves.

As a backpacker I wanted to see what fruit picking would be like, even if it was just for lesuire and not for regional work with the pressure of time and making money. This was a super fun way to try it out and made for a good day out away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Entry to the strawberry fields cost $4 for an adult, free for children, and your punnets are weighed at the end, costing $9 per kilo. This works out to be more expensive than just buying them from a store but then you wouldn’t get the experience of picking them yourself right from the plant. Plus you can choose the best looking ones and Poppy came out looking like a serial killer from the amount of strawberries she had shoved into her mouth along the way.


It was so much fun hunting down the biggest and most vibrant strawberries, although I couldn’t do it all day long as it would kill your back! It didn’t take us long to fill our punnets to the brim, so we made our way back to the shop by the main entrance to pay and I couldn’t resist buying a jar of homemade strawberry jam to take home.

If you decide to visit Adelaide head to Hahndorf to explore the town and go strawberry picking yourself, or if you know of anywhere near your town that offers the experience, give it a go!

Until next time,

Liv

xo

ADELAIDE FRINGE FESTIVAL: THE GARDEN OF UNEARTHLY DELIGHTS

Hello hello! Last week Sophie and I embarked on a 14 hour road trip through the Aussie outback to Adelaide. It was a super fun week and I got to see a city I had never originally planned to visit. I had a list of things I really wanted to see and do while we were there, and Fringe Festival was at the top of that list.

Full of energy that was not at all dampened by the rain, the Garden of Unearthly Delights was the perfect set up for carnival-like venues and quirky stalls.  The street leading up to the entrance had been blocked off so no cars could pass through, so the sidewalk was full of outdoor seating for bars and restaurants, whilst the road itself was packed with people making their way to the Garden. Down one alley a pop-up bar had been put together using the scaffolding attached its neighbouring building, which looked so cool and definitely deserved a 10/10 for creativity.


As we walked into the Garden itself, the lights dangling from trees brought a magical feeling to the place already. Instantly I noticed the British double decker bus that had been turned into a bar, and an old single that was now a thrift store. Once again, top marks for imagination. The same can also be said for the rest of the venue. Every food and drink stall brought its own unique design, including Mojitos being served from a decked out caravan. I couldn’t resist buying some freshly cooked donuts from the hut next to the big top tent, and when I say “some” I mean 6. Whoops.

‘Market City’ offered a variety of shed-like shops selling clothes, handmade crafts, and Henna body paintings. I bought a super cute dream catcher for $15. It’s small enough to fit neatly in my suitcase or hand luggage when I fly home, but I would have gladly bought the larger version if travelling with it wasn’t an issue.

The Garden of Unearthly Delights wasn’t just food and drink stalls, there were ticketed shows and sideshows going on in all the venues scattered about, but I was happy just wandering around the garden itself.

Although Adelaide’s Fringe Festival has now packed up for the year, I would definitely recommend visiting during their 2018 season whether it’s to go and watch their performances or just bask in the wonder that is the Garden of Unearthly Delights,