Spot the Signs along with partnership organisations are commemorating the 16th World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September by requesting people in Hertfordshire to dedicate their cycle ride miles between 1st -17th September to suicide prevention.

How does the campaign work?

People are encouraged to Sign up, Cycle and Send the miles that they have ridden into Spot the Signs to see how far Hertfordshire can cycle using the hashtag #HertsWSPD. These will all be added up and sent to the international Cycle Around the Globe page.

This awareness raising campaign is free to enter and aims to prevent suicides by inviting people to talk about the importance of mental health and suicide prevention. Prizes are up for grabs for the people that cycle the furthest during the campaign and anyone is able to get involved.

Emma Paisley, Senior Project Coordinator of Spot the Signs and Save a Life campaign said:

“Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a suicide, communities have an important role to play in supporting those who are vulnerable. World Suicide Prevention Day is an invaluable opportunity to highlight the importance of mental health.

Spot the Signs and Save a Life is the Hertfordshire suicide prevention campaign and our vision is to make Hertfordshire a county where no one ever gets to a point where they feel suicide is their only option.”

I just wanted to give you a little update, as there have been some developments on the book front.

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, my publication date has been pushed back to late November/early December. Everything is fine on my end (despite the odd occasional Twitter meltdown and moment of self-doubt), and in a way it’s kind of a relief that I’ve got a bit more time. I’m certain that this will be for the best.

So, this means that 1) I’ve had to move my book launch party to January, and 2) I’m no longer going to have a stand at the Wellness and Beauty Expo. Because, well, without a book to promote it would just be me and a sad little empty table.

But, I’m still going to be a speaker at the event (EEK!), so if you fancy watching me squirm on stage for half an hour, gesticulate wildly and ramble about my recovery journey, book your ticket today! There will be other, much better, speakers than me there, I promise.

So that’s it. You can still pre-order my book, and I only hope that the extra time and work going into it will pay off. Here’s hoping it will be worth the wait.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me on this journey so far. It’s been tough at times, but your kind words of encouragement have helped immensely.

Laura Crow, 24, has suffered from OCD since she was 15. At her worst, she was consumed by a compulsive need to check locks and turn lights off, which left her unable to leave the house.

Writing Greyhounds helped distract her from the debilitating effects of her illness, and she found herself writing mostly in the early hours of the morning – when her OCD was at its worst.

“It distracted me from the compulsive thoughts and rituals that become so bad in the evenings,” Laura says.

“I’ve always felt drawn to the past, epspecially the 1940s and soon I’d developed a whole set of characters and a story that had to be finished. People in a time of crisis – at breaking point – resonated with my state of mind.”

Cast in front of Spitfire

Greyhounds is set in a small village during World War Two. As the war rages around them, a group of residents attempt to put on a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry V, to raise money for their local Spitfire fund.

Following two successful runs in 2017, the play is set to be performed at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Laura plays the part of Katherine, a young woman with a gift for spotting numbers and patterns. She struggles with social interaction and adapting to change, which leads others to think of her as strange.

Laura wanted to portray the strength and resilience of someone who doesn’t fit in because of their ability to see the world differently. This, she says, is a feeling that many who struggle with their mental health will likely relate to.

More info

When: 3rd-18th August, 8:15pm
Where: Edinburgh Fringe, the Space on the Mile
Contact: itslauracrow@gmail.com

Geek Magnifique book cover

 

It feels so surreal saying this, but my book is available to pre-order now. My ACTUAL BOOK! What?!?

I hope that sharing my story brings understanding to those who haven’t experienced OCD or emetophobia – and hope to those who have.

“What might you have seen if you looked at Melissa Boyle as a young child? Loving parents, smiling child, happiness. At least, that was what you saw from the outside. Inside, there was poison; constant change, conflicts with her parents, and an abuse that never really ended.

As Melissa grows, she becomes foul to the creature of anxiety, which manifests itself in emetophobia; a fear of vomiting. She grapples with this, with her history, and the fears she now has.

Geek Magnifique traces Melissa’s path through life, through the recovery of therapy, to where she stands tall today.”

I’m probably going to get very emotional writing this.

If you follow me on Twitter, or have read some of my older posts, you may know that I was in a bit of a crap place last year. I was having counselling, a relationship breakdown pushed me to see my GP and start taking antidepressants, and my life just wasn’t looking how I wanted it to. But by the end of last year I’d started to turn things around for myself. I finally found a job I loved, as a social media executive, and I’m so grateful for my time at that company. It helped me realise my potential, challenged me creatively, forced me out of my comfort zone and showed me just how much of a difference working with great people can make. I made friends there, both human and canine, and genuinely used to look forward to Monday mornings. The office felt almost like a second home to me and I still miss it sometimes – more on that later.

I went into 2017 feeling excited about the future

I normally hate New Year’s Eve. I don’t know why, but it always makes me feel a bit miserable. NYE 2016 was different though – I was happy with the way things were going and had so much to look forward to. Quite honestly, antidepressants were making the world of difference to me as well. I felt energised, fired up and unstoppable. I felt motivated and finally after a long, long struggle, like myself again. I knew the upcoming year was going to be an exciting one, for many reasons. Of course, there have been some unexpected curve balls and low moments, but I’m proud of myself for coming out the other side of those challenges stronger than ever. So here goes, my highs (and lows) of 2017 so far:

Copenhagen, January

My in-laws very (extremely!) generously treated me and Dave to a trip to Denmark for Christmas. We had such a wonderful time, stayed in a beautiful hotel, ate incredible food and did loads of sight-seeing (including a very wet, chilly river tour!).

We saw the Queen of Denmark!

The amazing view from our hotel.

Definitely DID NOT giggle at this.

We feasted on Gordon Ramsay’s delicious eggs at the airport.

We spent most of the holiday as a family, but Dave and I did go out for one date night, which was so lovely. It was close to our 10 year anniversary, so we had a cheeky toast. We went to Sticks ‘n’ Sushi at the top of the Tivoli Hotel, where the food was unbelievable, and the view from the rooftop bar so breathtaking it brought me to tears. An incredible night.

I also enjoyed eating ALL THE PICKLED HERRING, admiring the very handsome concierge (who had, quite honestly, the most incredible cheekbones I have EVER seen), and trying Finnish gin (amazing!) and smørrebrød.

We visited the most beautiful department store (sorry Debenhams, the Danes have got you beat!) and I bought so much weird and wonderful Scandinavian candy. The plan was to film a video of me and Dave trying it all, but I chickened out so have just been tweeting #ScandiCandy updates. I haven’t been brave enough to try the salty liquorice yet though…

Another funny little highlight of the trip was when I approached the very grumpy-looking man at border control, who eyed my passport very suspiciously (seriously, I was starting to sweat), for what felt like hours. Finally, he looked up at me, smiled and said, ‘Boyle, right? Any relation to Susan?’ before chuckling merrily at his own joke.

My blog

This wee little corner of the internet has opened up some amazing doors this year, and helped me meet so many great people. I’ve recorded podcasts (terrifying at first, but I feel like I’ve got the hang of them now), written for Metro, eaten A LOT of free pizza (arguably a career highlight) and enjoyed meeting so many people from the MH blogging community at the #TalkMH meet up in April. Perhaps most excitingly of all, I’ve been offered a book deal. I know, it’s crazy right? Who knew, when I started this little blog back in May 2015, where it would lead?

Losing my job

Right, it’s time for a low. Nothing could have prepared me for the awful moment my boss took me into the meeting room and told me I wouldn’t be carrying on with the company. I listened numbly, trying to make sense of his words and not really believing them. I made an impassioned, tearful plea, unwilling to accept what he was telling me; it was so sudden, so unexpected. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. The following day passed in a blur or tears and feeling very, very sorry for myself. Two days after I was let go I went back into the office for my final day. I packed up my desk, spent most of the day playing table tennis, and cuddled Maggie for about 10 minutes while crying into her fur (I still miss her, so much).

Maggie and Me

My colleagues were lovely; they got me a card, gave me loads of hugs, took me for a coffee at lunchtime and for drinks after work. I left knowing I’d made some great friends. I’d never experienced working somewhere I really loved before, and the pain of losing my job was honestly akin to a break-up. Removing myself as admin from our social media accounts felt like changing my relationship status back to single. I still get a little pang of sadness when I see posts of my old colleagues at the office. The couple of months afterwards were a truly shit time. I ate a lot of crap food and sherbet Dip Dabs, and put on a stunning amount of weight. But then…

Getting a new job…

In July, after several interviews, a few promising opportunities and a bit of freelance work, I finally found a job as a copywriter. Sadly though, it took all of about five days before I realised it wasn’t going to be the job for me. I had a decision to make – stay and try to stick it out, or quit before they’d invested too much in me. I went for the second option. A social media position in a company very similar to my last one came up, and it seemed like a sign. Two interviews later and the job was mine.

I felt awful handing in my notice so soon after starting, but I knew I had to do what was best for me.

…and then another one!

I’m back where I want to be, working in marketing again. I love it here – the people are great, the job is exciting and I’m so glad I took that risk.

Welcoming Marty and Plum to the Boyle family

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll definitely have seen at least one or two (hundred) photos of my beautiful kittens. They’re a pain in the ass, but I love them so much. When I’m all snuggled with Dave and the cats on the sofa, I genuinely can’t believe how lucky I am. Or when Marty wakes me up in the morning with a little nose kiss and snuggles under the covers with me – MY HEART. They bring me so much joy.

Marty and Plum

Cornwall, July

Dave and I rented a gorgeous little house on a farm, with two of our best friends and spent a few days exploring Devon and Cornwall. We went back to the Eden Project, celebrated Julie’s birthday, took many trips to Morrisons, hired a pedalo (much more hard work than you’d think!) and ate loads of great food. We also tried our hand at herding sheep, with surprising success!

View

The view from our cottage.

Moving house

You might remember, a long time ago, I announced that we’d found our dream home. Well, it turns out, not quite. In fact, the second house we came very close to buying didn’t end up being our dream house either, despite having a perfect little Wendy house in the garden for Josh. But you know what they say, third time’s the charm. I couldn’t be happier in our new home, it’s honestly like a dream come true. I’ve turned it into a bit of a Christmas grotto, as I always planned to. Sadly, we had to do away with the second Christmas tree as someone couldn’t quite contain himself.

Marty in the Christmas tree

Closure

Some pretty big stuff came to a head this summer. I was able to finally close the door on a huge and horrible chapter of my life; it was a strange feeling. To an extent I found closure and acceptance, though there is still a slight, simmering anger beneath the surface that won’t quite fade. I know this is all very vague, but I will be delving into the whole mess in my book (damn, that feels so weird to say!). For now, all I will say is that it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and I am ridiculously proud of myself for keeping a cool head and getting through it like a damn boss.

So there we have it

What a year! I’m so excited see what 2018 brings…and to kick some ass!!