I don’t think this post needs much introduction. It’s a letter, not just to Lauren (who came up with the idea for this letter swap post), but to everyone out there who’s struggling right now. I hope you read these words and believe every one of them.

To Lauren, my friend,

I’m writing this letter to remind you that even though you struggle sometimes, you’re so much stronger than you give yourself credit for.

In our darkest moments, when we feel lost, weak, and worthless, it’s all too easy to tell ourselves that we don’t deserve the love and support we crave. I hope this letter reminds you that you deserve all of it, and so much more.

You deserve to be able to reach out to others for help

You are loved and cared about- I can’t stress this enough. You are allowed to be honest with the people you love, and tell them when you’re struggling. They won’t think any less of you. You are not a burden, so don’t do yourself the disservice of hiding your feelings.

If you need to, see your doctor or counsellor, and don’t feel for a second like this means you’ve failed.

You deserve support, comfort and love.

You deserve to let yourself cry, be silent, and heal

Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, and it certainly isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Crying is a part of healing, so do it openly and never apologise for your emotions. It’s OK to withdraw and spend some quiet time alone if that’s what you need. Your friends will understand.

You deserve to treat yourself with kindness

Allocating some time each day to doing something that feeds your soul is as important as eating, breathing and brushing your teeth. Make being kind to yourself a part of your routine, whether it’s reading a good book, taking a long bath, or watching some trashy TV. It’s not stupid or a waste of time if it makes you happy.

You deserve to ask for what you want

You are not selfish. Telling someone what you need, or asking for their help doesn’t make you a bad person. They will want to help you, and I’m certain they know that if the situation were reversed you would do the same for them.

You deserve to be gentle with yourself

When we’re not feeling well, whether physically or mentally, each day can seem like a battle. The simplest of tasks can seem daunting, and everyday situations may suddenly become overwhelming. If things get too much, take a step back, breathe, and tell yourself that you’re not a failure. You’re getting through each day, and that’s a testament to your bravery, courage and strength. If you focus on what you’ve achieved, rather than what you haven’t, you’ll realise that you really are pretty bloody amazing.

You deserve hope

Things will get better. One day you’ll look back on this moment and marvel at how far you’ve come. You might not believe it now, but please trust me on this.

You deserve happiness

Never forget that.

I know from experience how easy it is, in your lowest moments, to forget your worth. I only hope this letter can remind you that you truly are an incredible person, with so much to give.

Thank you for using your blog to spread positivity, promote understanding and help others to feel less alone.

You’re amazing and I feel lucky to know you.

Lots of love,

Melissa xxx

The gorgeous Lauren, and her letter to me, can be found over at Lauren Evie. We both take part in #talkMH (Thursday evenings at 8:30pm), a chat run by the amazing Hannah Rainey. You can find her blog here. 

Lauren’t beautiful letter to me.

I feel truly lucky to have met so many strong, incredible people who are using their blogs to share their stories and help to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. I would love to do more collabs like this one, so if you’re interested please let me know!

Sending love to you all. <3

I can honestly say that the first six months of this year were the hardest of my life. I was working from home in a job I found unfulfilling, and I spent most days feeling lonely and worthless. With no reason to get dressed or leave the house, and no-one to talk to all day, I felt like my life had no direction or purpose. Some days I felt so flat I didn’t have the energy to move, and even the simplest things, like eating, felt too difficult.

I had countless job interviews and spent months on an endless roller coaster of nerves, excitement, hope and eventually rejection. Hopelessness enveloped me like a thick blanket, heavy and suffocating. The longing I had for happiness felt like a physical ache in my chest, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t see a way to turn things around for myself.

I had failed.

The life I’d pictured for myself when I was younger was exciting and full of colour. Instead I’d reached 28 and was merely existing, my world a dull, muted landscape of drudgery and exhaustion. I hated the person I’d become. While once confident and spontaneous I was now withdrawn and afraid of the world around me.

I kept telling myself that one day I would look back on this time in my life and laugh at how silly I was being. I would wonder what the hell I was even worrying about. This was all just a blip, surely. As much as I told myself this though, I couldn’t quite make myself believe it. I considered giving up altogether, but was afraid of what giving up would even look like. I was paralysed by the fear that I would never move forward but also that I was starting to feel like I didn’t want to.

The path

I’d been defeated. My confidence was shattered, and each interview became a challenge not to break down and cry. I knew I was putting an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself, but I couldn’t stop. Applying for jobs became an all-consuming obsession.

I was struggling in my personal life too. Counselling took me down a difficult path that ended with the loss of two important relationships. The loss was sudden but at the same time felt like it had been a long time coming. The sense of betrayal however left me raw, confused, and questioning who I was as a person. It added to the feelings of worthlessness I’d heaped upon myself and made me want to rip off my own skin and become someone new.

I grieved, as one would any loss, and in time found acceptance and closure. I realised that I had chosen my own family, and was in no way defined by my blood, or my past.

I even learned to be thankful for it, because it pushed me to make one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Blinded by sadness and overwhelmed by how lost I felt, I reached out in a moment of desperation to someone I’d always been afraid to ask for help: a doctor. I have no idea why I was so nervous, because he instantly put me at ease. He treated me with kindness and compassion, patience and understanding. He told me it was OK to cry, and offered sincere, gentle reassurance.

With absolute confidence he looked me in the eye and told me something no-one else ever had: ‘You will get better.’ This time my tears were of relief. I’d once asked my counsellor if she thought I was ‘unfixable’ and I think I’d started to believe that I actually was. I don’t think my doctor will ever know the impact those words had on me, and how much I needed to hear them.

He prescribed me Sertraline, and though I was scared about the possible side-effects and prospect of being on medication long-term, his words gave me the courage I needed to set those fears aside. He told me that there was light at the end of the tunnel, and for the first time I started to believe that.

That was five weeks ago, and I can honestly say I already feel a massive difference. Since then, I also landed my dream job as a social media executive for an exciting new company. I get paid to write, be creative and basically do the things I love. I’m surrounded by interesting, passionate people that I can talk to and bounce ideas off of. The office is buzzing with music and laughter and it’s everything that I’ve been missing for so long.

I feel valued again.

I can remember how it feels to have passion and drive, and I wake up in the morning feeling like I can’t wait to get to work. I have the freedom to build this role into exactly what I want and I’m SO BLOODY EXCITED about my future again. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have hoped for a job that’s more perfect.

It was scary at first, being forced to suddenly step out of the little bubble I’d carefully built around myself. Interacting with people again was overwhelming and exhausting, and I had one or two moments of panic when I questioned whether I could actually do this. But in those moments I took a deep breath and thought about all the things I’ve already managed to overcome. Slowly I started to believe in myself again.

I’m so grateful that someone else saw my potential, even when I couldn’t. My job has given me structure, purpose and a sense of worth again. I feel like I’ve woken up from a long, deep sleep.

SEA

Recently, after a lovely evening with one of my best friends, talking and laughing like we used to, she pulled me into a tight hug and whispered in my ear, ‘You feel like Mel again.’ Every day I can feel a little bit more of myself starting to come back and I’m glad others can see it too.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in these last few weeks, but mainly I’ve realised that I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.

When you’re struggling with depression or anxiety it’s so easy to see yourself as weak or worthless. You’re not. When the simplest of tasks feels like a steep, uphill climb, and every day feels like a battle, it takes a warrior to keep moving forwards.

Please don’t think for a second that admitting you’re struggling is anything to be ashamed of either. Another lovely thing my doctor told me was that coming to him for help proved how resilient I am. He made me feel strong at a time when I felt utterly broken, and I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am for that.

It amazes me that people can come in and out of our lives without ever truly realising the impact they’ve had on us. To my doctor and all the other people who have listened, supported and believed in me, I offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

I would like to thank myself as well.

Thank you for not giving up, even though you wanted to. Thank you for believing that happiness was out there and fighting for it with everything you had. Thank you for reaching out and seeking the help you knew you deserved. Thank you for realising that the right path isn’t always the easiest, and thank you for having the courage to take it anyway.

Thank you for showing the world what you’re made of.

XOXO

If you’re struggling, please reach out, whether it be to friends, family or your doctor.

You are loved and cared about, and things will get better.

Always remember, you’re so much stronger than you give yourself credit for.

 

Mr. Robot – 1.9 eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt

Let’s be honest, if you’ve watched Mr Robot you’ll know how much of a roller coaster ride it is from the very beginning.  But the penultimate episode of season 1 is where so many things that have been building up throughout the series come to a head.  Shit gets real guys.  And when Maxence Cyrin’s beautiful piano cover of Where is my Mind plays at the end (a cheeky little nod to Fight Club) I get goose-bumps every time.  That scene between Elliot and Tyrell is a perfect climax to all the tension that’s been building up between them.  Ugh, perfection.

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Star Trek (The Original Series): Operation: Annihilate!

The crew take on a weird race of parasitic aliens that happen to look remarkably like pancakes.  So much so that I successfully found out the name of the episode by searching ‘Star Trek pancake alien episode.’  A childhood favourite.

pancake alien

Friends – The One with the Two Parties

It’s so hard to narrow Friends down to just one favourite episode, and of course for a soppy old romantic like me, the Monica and Chandler proposal might seem like an obvious choice.  Another solid contender was The One with the Video Tape, as it’s so cleverly done.  But I actually chose a slightly more serious episode as I feel like it handled Rachel’s struggle with her parents’ divorce really nicely.  We have a touching moment of bonding between her and Chandler, and I melt when he gently moves Rachel from his arms into Ross’.  So sweet and lovely.  Plus the logistics of the two parties and trying to keep Rachel’s parents from running into each other makes for some great comedy.  Also, this beautiful moment:

Joey kiss Mrs Green

Gilmore girls – Friday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Again, it’s impossible to narrow it down to just one episode.  I’ve chosen this one for three reasons:

  • Friday night dinner. This is so well-done, and I feel like the director let himself get really creative with this scene.  It’s over the top, almost theatrically so, but the dialogue as always is fast-paced and witty.  Plus the POV camera angles put you right into the chaos of all the different arguments going on at once.  It’s an interesting technique used to great effect for the first time in this episode, and never again after.friday nights
  • Lorelai’s fantastic and (for some reason) British impression of her mother. ‘Alert the corgis!’ Makes me laugh every time.
  • Emily: I only wished I’d remembered to call her a cocktail waitress.
    Lorelai: [gasping] Oooh. That’s my mother’s version of the ‘c’ word.

The Office – The Job

I think this pretty much sums it up.

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The emotion.  Dreamy sigh.

A close second would be the episode where Jim enlists a friend to masquerade as him and convince Dwight that Jim’s been Asian all along.  I love all of Jim’s pranks on Dwight, but that has to be my favourite.

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Parks and Recreation – Halloween Surprise

Because I had to get a proposal episode in here somewhere and this is undoubtedly one of the best.

proposal

LOST – Man of Science, Man of Faith

Our first look down the mysterious hatch.  THE NUMBERS!  So much intrigue.  This is easily one of my favourite episodes of LOST, though I was originally going to go with the episode where Jin and Sun die.  But I didn’t because, y’know, I’m not a monster.

Jin and Sun

No YOU’RE crying.

Brooklyn Nine Nine – Halloween II

Jake attempts to pull off another Halloween heist, this time the Captain’s priceless watch.  A clever episode with a fun twist.

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Star Trek Voyager – Twisted

I don’t know why but this episode has always been a favourite of mine.  A strange phenomenon wreaks havoc with the ship and turns it into a weird twisting labyrinth.

Voyager twisted

Sabrina the Teenage Witch – Pancake Madness

I’m ending this list on an absolute high, obviously.  I can’t decide what makes this episode so great, whether it’s the ridiculous song about pancakes being the answer to the riddle (which I’m physically incapable of stopping myself from singing when I eat pancakes), Harvey’s terrible singing of said song, or the giant syrup bottle Sabrina hallucinates when she’s having pancake withdrawals.  Oh yes, that’s right, the premise of this episode is Sabrina developing a crack-like addiction to pancakes (those pancakey bastards up to no good again!).  Also, the syrup bottle’s name is Mrs Mapleton.  10/10.  Absolute genius.  Watch now.

pancake madness

 

I was so excited when the lovely people at Bluebird Tea Co. contacted me to offer me some samples of their lovely new summer teas.  I’ve never been to one of their stores (you can find them in Brighton, Bristol and Tunbridge Wells), but I’ve heard good things from lots of people, including Zoella, who has raved about them in several of her vlogs.  I have to say, after trying some of their teas I can see why!

Never one to miss an opportunity to eat cake, I asked my lovely friend Julie if she’d like to have afternoon tea.  She went all out with lovely finger sandwiches, delicious homemade lemon and blueberry cupcakes and some tasty fresh fruit.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, right?

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Bluebird’s new flavours include Sangria, Strawberry Split, Red Velvet (OMG!), and Jelly and Ice Cream.  I was kindly given Sangria and Jelly and Ice Cream to try, but the other two sound incredible as well (I’m definitely ordering some of the Red Velvet!)

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I tried to get a bit arty with the tea leaves, though I’m not sure it worked too well.  But seriously, look how pretty they are!

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What I loved about the Sangria tea was that you can really see all the ingredients, in particular lots of lovely big chunks of dried fruit.  And it smelled absolutely gorgeous too, very citrusy and fresh.  It contains hibiscus, apple, rosehip, orange peel, coconut, pineapple, cardamom and lime peel.  I could definitely smell the orange and pineapple, and it made me think of summer holidays by the sea, and lovely warm balmy evenings.  I thought it kind of also smelled like jelly babies, but Julie wasn’t so sure!  Both teas can be enjoyed hot or cold, and we decided to try this one hot.

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IMG_20160617_150151 Blue kettle

It had a wonderfully fresh and tart flavour, and really did taste as vibrant and fruity as it smelled.  It wasn’t unpleasantly sour like some fruit teas I’ve tried, and we found it didn’t need any sugar.  Gorgeous, fresh and summery, this one was definitely a hit!  I look forward to trying it iced, I imagine it’s very refreshing.

So next we tried Jelly and Ice Cream, which I must admit I was more excited about of the two.  This one contains Rooibos tea (which I love!), coconut, strawberry, hibiscus, apple, elderberry, rosehip, vanilla, cornflowers and pineapple.  Doesn’t that just sound incredible?!  Smell wise, it didn’t wow me like the Sangria did, but oh my gosh it was delicious!

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We had this one iced, which we did simply by straining the tea over a cup of ice cubes.  It can be drunk with or without milk but we decided to go without.

Oh. My. Gosh.  This was divine.  So smooth and sweet, you can really taste the vanilla and strawberry.  It’s not too sweet though, and like the Sangria, it’s packed full of flavour.  So often I’ve bought fruit teas that smelled wonderful but tasted of nothing.  You definitely don’t need to worry about that with these teas.  I could really pick out all the lovely different fruit flavours, and it was a perfect balance of tart, sweet and smooth, just as you’d expect from jelly and ice cream.  A perfect drink to serve at a garden party or picnic, and a huge thumbs up from me.

After that, our lovely civilised afternoon took a bit of a turn when this little delinquent decided to gatecrash.

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Meet Mr T, Julie’s pet tortoise! Isn’t he sweet?

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I had such a lovely afternoon and the teas were a big hit.  There are so many other amazing sounding flavours I’d like to try, so I see a rather large order to Bluebird Tea Co. happening in the near future!  Julie was a big fan as well, and we both agreed that they’d make a lovely gift for any tea-lovers in your life.

Thank you so much to Julie for putting together such a gorgeous and Instagram-worthy spread.  And a big thank you to the lovely guys at Bluebird Tea Co. for sending me my very first blogger mail!  Being sent free tea- I’m living the dream, right?

Check Bluebird Tea Co. out here.

Those of you who are local to Bournemouth may be familiar with the veritable Valhalla of sugary treats known as American Fizz on Wallisdown Road.

Dave and I have been known to spend far too much money on American sodas (root beer for him, grape soda for me), Twizzlers, and Pop Tarts in every flavour under the sun.  They also have tonnes of amazing savoury snacks, condiments, and of course the indescribably delicious Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese.  If you haven’t tried it, trust me, it’s MAGICAL.

I mean, just look at it. ALL the heart eyes.

This gif should come with a NSFW warning. It’s basically pornographic.

This time I picked up some of my tried and tested favourites, as well as some new things.  And then proceeded to roll around on the sofa like a walrus and eat my yearly allowance of fat, salt and sugar in one evening.  Good times!

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Grape Crush

Now I’m normally more of a Twizzler kinda gal, but much like the shelves of Doose’s market after movie night at the Gilmore house, American Fizz was a Twizzler AND Red Vines-free zone.  Not to be deterred I went for these, swayed largely by the fact that they were grape flavour.  Seriously, why do we insist on having boring blackcurrant as a flavour in the UK?  Grape is so much better, sort it out UK candy manufacturers!  These did not disappoint.

Pancakes and Maple Syrup Jelly Belly Beans

I’m always a big fan of Jelly Belly beans, but these were in a league of their own.  My new favourite jelly bean flavour?  The maple kind. (And no, I will never stop finding that dog video hilarious).

Maple Bacon Pop Tarts

Um…so I don’t really know what to say about these.  I couldn’t resist buying them out of sheer curiosity and they (perhaps not surprisingly) were absolutely disgusting.  I’m pretty sure even the dog in that video would not be a fan.  Kellogg’s, I have some serious questions.  Namely, whose idea was this, and what were they thinking?  At any point did no-one think that perhaps bacon flavoured icing was a step too far, and maybe it was time to put a stop to the madness?  Did anyone except me actually buy these?!  Answers please!!

evil taste

Swedish Fish

I’ve always been curious to try these.  Their website assures me that they “taste like fruit, not like fish,” which is good to know, and their slogan is the delightfully nonchalant “try some if you want.”  I do want.

Combos

These are hands-down my favourite American snack.  We bought the pizza ones (the best flavour, IMO), but we also grabbed a pack of the Buffalo Blue Cheese (which sadly didn’t last long enough to make it into the photo!).  Eat these NOW.  Thank me later.

happy eating

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts

Kellogg’s, you are forgiven for your bacon-flavoured atrocities.  These are sublime.

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Are you a fan of root beer, or do you (like me) think it tastes like Listerine?  What are some of your favourite American snacks?  Is there anything I should definitely try next time?  Let me know in the comments below!