Saturday, 25 June 2016

Brexit: It's Not Me, It's You...

I woke up yesterday morning, happy and relaxed, in a little cabin on the outskirts of Pisa.    I popped on some coffee and headed out to the deck to scroll through the news and out what my fellow Britons had voted the day before in the EU Referendum before I made my way to the airport to fly back and face the music.  

Needless to say, I was very surprised to learn that the UK had, on the whole, voted to leave the EU.    Scotland overwhelmingly voted to stay, as did Northern Ireland, London (and my little corner of Gwynedd in North Wales), but we are, as always, outnumbered by English voters and, in this case, also the majority of  Welsh voters.   

The result and the ensuing panic in the markets and unknown future for the UK got me thinking about consequences for...well, everything really.

Brexit: It's Not Me, It's You...
What a view... 
I love being European, as well as Scottish and British and I'm refusing to give that up.   I don't need to be in the EU to be part of the continent of Europe, do I?   Switzerland still manages, right?   

I have noticed that the Italian press have been covering the vote very carefully in recent days and, it would appear, they're a *touch* upset.

As I stood in the queue at passport control (with the shiny, beautiful EU booklet I own), I was immediately alarmed by the Italian man standing behind who was making it abundantly clear, in his loud, angry voice, just what he thought of the UK's decision.    

It was like he'd been abandoned by his long term British girlfriend, even thought he knew the breakup was always a possibility.   Clearly, he didn't actually believe she would leave him until he heard the words: 'It's not me, it's you...'.   

His reaction was one of anger and bitter disappointment, so he made sure he let anyone with a British passport know about it by gesticulating wildly and chattering in his fabulously Italian version of English.    Also: he made his points in his native tongue, so there was a lot of 'Es finito! Es finito!' in his bilingual rant.   

Incidentally, he was on my flight back to Liverpool, so I hope he calms down before he lands as I think the the North of England was staunchly in the Leave camp.   He might want to keep his voice down later, lest he bump into someone who voted Leave because of all these bloody foreigners, coming here, spending their money, contributing to our society... 

Once I'd recovered from the angry outburst, I boarded the flight and the Pilot gave his usual update about weather and velocity and stuff.   He also let the 200+ people on board know that we were no longer part of Europe and that it was a very sad day indeed for us.   Nothing is more panic inducing knowing you're in a plane full of British people at the complete mercy of an angry Italian man.   

We tried desperately to placate him and soften the blow.   OK, Italy; we're sorry, but it appears it just wasn't working out after all.   We seem to have drifted apart somewhat and I just don't know how we can rekindle the flame.     We will always think of you fondly, though.   Even if we delete all our old photos of you from our Instagram and Facebook accounts now.   

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting this when I woke up this morning, but I'm fairly certain this wasn't it.  

Brexit: It's Not Me, It's You...
The fall out might be even worse than more expensive wine.   Heaven forbid.  
I had no idea that Italians (both of them) were quite so fond of us Brits.   They genuinely look like we've totally hurt their feelings.   Sorry, guys.    Please don't take it so personally, we just ditched everyone else, too.

If the price of Italian wine goes through the roof now, I won't even be able to drown my sorrows and drunk dial you after a few glasses to tell you how much I miss you...  

Te amo, Italia.   


Suz x 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Free Fridays: Dunfermline

Free Fridays: Dunfermline

Dunfermline is the largest town in Fife; situated in the west of the region.  It also used to serve as Scotland's capital city, a job now held by its close neighbour, Edinburgh.  Dunfermline is the birthplace of world famous philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, who emigrated to the US from the town in 1848.

The Carnegie Library, which bears his name, was built in Dunfermline after he gifted them $40,000 and returned to the town in 1881 to watch his mother lay the foundation stone.   Unfortunately, the Library closed in 2014 when building works commenced on a new Dunfermline Art Gallery and Museum, which is scheduled to open in 2016.  

If you're on a budget and have some time to spare, these are just a few of the great free attractions Dunfermline has to offer:

Pittencrieff House

Pittencrieff Park

Pittencrieff Park

Pittencrieff House
Bob the Squirrel
Pittencrieff Park: 
Pittencrieff is a public park that was purchased by Andrew Carnegie and then gifted to the people of Dunfermline. What a thoroughly lovely bloke.  It was tons of open space with many trails where I spent a happy hour wandering around, trying to convince a grey squirrel that he should come over and chat for a while.   When he refused and ran away, I decided to expend my energy in a more productive manner and walk down to the bottom of the park where I could look out across the Forth Road and Rail Bridges. 

Once you've exhausted yourself wandering, running, or squirrel chasing, there is a free exhibition entitled 'Magic of the Glen' on display in Pittencrieff House, which is within the park grounds.   In the Lower Glen area of the park, you can also see the ruins of Dunfermline Palace.   On the East side of the park, and just outside the boundary, is Dunfermline Abbey and final resting place of Robert the Bruce. Please note that, although great to look at and get some shots of, the Abbey itself has an entrance fee.   

The park is well known for the peacocks that live there and the Cafe located within the park's Glen Pavilion is aptly named after them.   

Abbot House: 
Located in the Heritage Quarter, Abbot House can be immediately recognised by its pink exterior.  The House has been standing on the site since the 15th Century and contains a fantastic museum, telling the story of Dunfermline's textiles industry as well as an alarming array of skeletons that have been dug up in its grounds over the years.   

In addition to bones, a very impressive 16th Century fresco, and a painted ceiling on the top floor that shouldn't be missed, Abbot House also boasts the Garden Cafe and Brew House.  The brew house produces a range of beers, including a gluten free range and a limited edition Haggis and Neeps bottle.   Trying that particular offering will take someone braver than me.  

St Margaret's Cave:
This isn't the easiest attraction to locate, due to its location and lack of signage.  However, the mystery adds to the overall experience. This is not a visit for less mobile visitors, as it's accessed down a steep flight of 80+ steps.  Once at the bottom, you can enter the tiny alter where Queen Margaret was said to pray and there's plenty of historical information to guide you along the way.  It is well worth trying to find and it won't take up too much of your time.  After all, it's not every day you get to wander around under a car park in the middle of a town, is it?

Andrew Carnegie House

Abbot House

Abbot House

Monday, 20 June 2016

My Essential Travel Reads

My Essential Travel Read - Title

I love travel books.  Aside from my usual crime novels, they’re the only things I read.   I am a bit fussy, though.  Although I'm fond of travel books, I do like something with a sense of humour about it. Something dry and turgid just won’t do it for me.  I just can’t persuade myself to read anything that doesn’t grab me, which probably means I’ve missed out on masses of titles that other travel enthusiasts have devoured.   This is the first part of a list of the books in my library that I've pretty much read to death: 

A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson:

This is not only my favourite travel book, but also my favourite book.  Ever.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it and it still makes me laugh every time.  Bill Bryson’s ability to make seemingly mundane daily details come to life is unparalleled, in my opinion.  A Walk in the Woods takes you through the planning and preparation stages, as well as the actual activity, of section hiking the Appalachian Trail in the US.  

The events that transpire along the way are comical and his observations about his fellow travellers (including his walking buddy) made me desperate to follow in his footsteps and set out on the AT myself (I eventually did….a little!)

There aren't enough superlatives available to describe my obsession for this title. I can’t recommend it highly enough.   All of Bryson’s books are outstanding, but this, for me, is the cream of the crop.

The Dark Tourist – Dom Joly:

Most people will know Dom Joly (as I did) from Trigger Happy TV, but he has also written two travel books. The Dark Tourist is the first of these, (the other being Scary Monsters and Super Creeps) and in it he travels to various ‘dark tourism’ spots around the world, including Chernobyl and The Killing Fields. 

Although the majority of the destinations have been witness to horrific crimes, Joly also finds the time to go skiing in the ever-popular destination of Iran.  No, really.  Take that, Telluride!  Despite the subject matter, it is an extremely witty and insightful book that will make you, somewhat against your will, want to buy some skis and head to Western Asia. 

Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools – Victoria Twead:

I found this while rummaging around Amazon’s travel section one day, looking for inspiration.   I read that Vicky was a teacher in England and that she dragged her husband out to live in the village of El Hoyo, Andalucía, upon retirement.   The move and subsequent settling in to life in a small Spanish village is so well written and paints a beautiful, and eventful, picture of their new lives.  

Since this instalment, Victoria has written a further three books in the same series: all of which are excellent.  This, being the introductory book, is my favourite of them all.

Finding Yourself in Seville – Steve Carter:

I stumbled upon this book after inspecting a B&B on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.  As I was looking through the guest information folders in each room, I realised that there was information about this, and another, book.  On chatting to the owner, Steve, it transpired that he had written both titles.  I bought Finding Yourself in Seville when I got home (and Love, Sex and Tesco’s Finest Cava) and loved them both.  

The former takes you through the story of a bad break up, where our hero, Andy, decides to make the break and venture off to Sevilla for a year of studying the Spanish language.  During his time there, he befriends some interesting characters and finds himself in some awkward positions.  This book always transports me back to my own time in Sevilla and for that, as well as numerous other reasons, I love it.   

Dave Gorman - Unchained America:

Let me just say for the record that my love for this book has nothing do to with the fact that Dave and I share the same surname.  That’s just a happy coincidence.   I love it because it’s a brilliant tale of road tripping across America.   I’ve done a fair bit of that myself and I can relate to the sights and sounds that are so wonderfully depicted throughout the book.   

The object of the trip is to travel from coast to coast without giving any money to corporations and dealing only with local, independent, businesses.  This involves not buying gas, spending the night, or eating, in any chain owed premises.  The results are fantastic and the book is full of hilarious stories, which are smartly conveyed to the reader. 

What are your favourite travel reads?

Suz x

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Last Minute Trip Planning

Last Minute Trip Planning
I’ve never been one for fanatical planning of holidays or road trips. If I’m being
honest, much of my planning is done at the very last minute. I have been known to
pick up currency on the way to board a flight, but I like to think of this as efficient
rather than useless, which is how everyone else seems to view it.
A couple of weeks ago, while dozing in bed, Les announced that he’d booked two
flights to Pisa. After waking up fully, I couldn’t recall whether it was a dream orLast Minute Trip Planning

I’ve never been one for fanatical planning of holidays or road trips.  If I’m being honest, much of my planning is done at the very last minute.  I have been known to pick up currency on the way to board a flight, but I like to think of this as efficient rather than useless, which is how everyone else seems to view it.

Last Minute Trip Planning
Yeah, this is NOT me.  
A couple of weeks ago, while dozing in bed, Les announced that he’d booked two flights to Pisa.   After waking up fully, I couldn’t recall whether it was a dream or whether it had actually happened.  Turns out; it had actually happened.    

Fast forward to a week before the trip and we had organised nothing.   With seven days left before we hit up Liverpool Airport, I finally conducted a half hour search of AirBnB and found an apartment that fulfilled my needs (Wi-Fi; kitchen with working stove/cooker; good location; balcony for drinking wine...).   I clicked ‘book’ and Boom: we had somewhere to stay.

Immediately after that, I ran through Pisa’s tourism information page and Pinterest, finding relevant articles about what to see and do while I’m there.  I have visited Pisa before, so this didn’t take too much time.  I then did similar searches for Siena and Florence; where I expect to take day trips, and made a note of all the sights I wanted to see.

Last Minute Trip Planning
Right, I'm ready!  Let;s go!  
By this stage of the game, I have friends who would have suitcases packed; routes planned and sat navs programmed, while I’m all over here like: ‘mañana, mañana’.    I see no point in causing myself unnecessary stress before a holiday so that I spend most of my trip trying to unwind.  

Plus, I quite like the whole unknown quantity of my holiday and have no interest in military type planning.  I like to go with the flow and realise that the things I might want to do a month before I go are very unlikely to be the same when I actually get there.   Apart from frequenting my local bar.  I *always* want to do that.    There's something romantic about the notion of aimlessly wandering around Italian streets, finding little places that you didn't know existed and never would have if you hadn't done very minimal planning before you arrived. 

Last Minute Trip Planning
This looks nice.    Ooh, and there's a bar next door.  Who knew?
My packing consists of a few dresses, vest tops, flip flops, money, passport and my trusty Priority Pass, so that I can relax in the airport lounge for a few hours before I board.     Apart from that, if I forget anything, I generally find it's nothing I can't pick up when I reach my destination.  And besides, I LOVE trying out foreign toothpaste - it's one of the many joys of travelling.    I'm not even kidding.

So, as I write this, I'm sat at the dining table, cradling a cup of coffee and pretty much ready to roll jump in the car and head North to Liverpool to spend the day doing, well...clearly I don't actually have anything *planned*, so we'll just have to wait and see what the day brings.

Are you a maniacal trip planner; somewhere in between, or completely relaxed?

Suz x 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

South Stack Lighthouse, Anglesey

Before we moved to Wales, I bought a regional calendar for LT as a little Christmas gift.   The photos were beautiful and three separate months were dedicated to Anglesey.   In particular, September 2015 depicted the lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island.  And I wanted to see it.   
However, we were blown slightly off course (not by the wind, but rather by our lack of direction) and ended up discovering South Stack instead.    We were not disappointed at the glorious weather, or the views.

South Stack Lighthouse was constructed to ensure safe passage of ships travelling from Dublin to Liverpool, via Holyhead.   It was completed in 1809 and is some 90ft high.   It sits on a tiny island, overlooking the Irish Sea, with the South Stack Cliffs providing a dramatic backdrop.  The Lighthouse is managed by Trinity House and is open on a seasonal basis.
South Stack Lighthouse

There is a choice of two car parks (one for the main lighthouse entrance and Kitchen), and one before this, which allows you to take in the cliffs and then wander along the trails in order to reach the Lighthouse ticket office.   On a good day, and if you’re fit enough for it, the bottom car park is a great place to set off.   Also, the cliff edges are just that: cliff edges.   There are no barriers and it’s pretty much a certain death experience, should you lose your footing and head off for an unintended look at the rocks below.   

Prices are £5.50 for adults, £4 for seniors and, £3 for anyone under 16.    There are 400 steps down to the Lighthouse and, as well as climbing to the top (more steps, people!), you can enjoy the former engine room and exhibition space.    The area is a real haven for Birdwatchers and, although I didn’t see many on my trip, I did spot this lovely Puffin.*   He was exceptionally well behaved… 

South stack puffin

*This is not a real Puffin...

A little way along the cliff tops is Ellis Tower.  Entry here is free and you can climb the stairs, grab yourself a shot of a telescope and wave to the good people of Dublin.

If all that wasn't enough, South Stack has also garnered a top five Ghost Rating from a book entitled 'Haunted Britain' (cue creepy music...), which claims the property is haunted by the ghost of John Jack Jones, who was lamped on the head by a rock when trying to make his way into the Lighthouse during a fierce storm in 1859.   Triple J's father, Double J (John Jones) also died at the Lighthouse, although his cause of death is unknown.  

I decided not to hang around for too long as I am rather accident-prone and wanted to live long enough to see some of the other sights in Wales.  
South Stack

Steps at South Stack

South Stack lighthouse

Suz x 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes

One of my favourite things about road tripping is the ability to blast out music in my car and screech at the top of my voice.   It's a fabulous way to unwind.   

It also provides a soundtrack to your holiday and I have many play lists inspired by the numerous trips I've taken across the US, Scotland, Wales, Australia, etc - which, when played back, reminds me of of big cities, one horse towns, or whatever was happening at the time I heard it on the radio.   This immediately takes me back to my travels and the happiest times of my life.   

These are the tunes that are ingrained in my mind and what spot on earth they remind me of:

Jason Mraz - I'm Yours

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - I'm Yours

Every time I hear this it takes me back to my soft top car and the winding roads and endless sunshine of Maui.    I first visited Hawaii in 2008, on the first day of Obama's Presidency, actually, and the island of Maui was a thoroughly happy place, with their new President plastered all over the newspapers and a massive sense of pride amongst the local people that he was one of them.   
If you're a Republican reading this, I apologise, I know you think he's not really American at all.   You would be wrong, though, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story??   I'm kidding...I love you guys, really.    

Anyhow, this song must've been out at the time and was ALL OVER the radio in Hawaii, as I imagine it was across most of the world.   It has such an island feel to it that it was the perfect soundtrack to my road trips around the island.    

John Mayer - Free Fallin'

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - Free Fallin

I adore this Tom Petty cover by John Mayer almost as much as I love him.   I first heard it when I got tickets to see him at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on a humid summer night in 2007.    

Mayer asked his fans to choose his encore and this is what they came up with.  They're a very clever bunch, they are.     

Now, whenever I hear the song, it takes me back to summer in Canada, when I sat out in the open and sang along to all my favourite songs.   I also had an argument with three girls who were standing (in the seated area) right in front of me, whom I promptly told to sit down or go elsewhere (they were spoiling my entire view), but I try not to think of this particular incident too often.   Although, I'm obviously totally thinking about it now.

Barenaked Ladies - One Week

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - One Week

This reminds me of both Glasgow and the Grand Cayman.    Maybe it's because they're so similar, I just don't know....   I jest, or course.   Glasgow is so much better.

I first travelled to Glasgow's famous Barrowlands Ballroom to see BNL when I was...lets just say, much younger than I am now.  They were fabulous and, as always with Glasgow concert crowds, the people in the audience had just as much fun as the band on stage.

I also heard this live again in 2008, when I booked up for the BNL  Caribbean Cruise for my 30th birthday.   Unfortunately, I ended up with Norovirus for most of the trip, but managed to crawl out of bed to see the band perform on the deck.    They. Were. Amazing.

Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert - We Were Us

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - We Were Us

This reminds me of the first road trip I went on with LT when we travelled through 10 Southern US states over the course of 2 weeks.     I had gradually forced him to share my love of country music over the previous couple of years, so I knew we'd be searching for a country station as soon as we picked up our hire car.

I ADORE Miranda Lambert, so this was a new one, even for me.   I vividly recall this song being on the radio as we drove through the beautiful, sweltering avenues of Savannah, Georgia, baking in the heat and trying to find some cool air under the willow trees.    

I love Savannah, so it's lovely that this song takes me back there every time I hear it.   Which is a lot.   

Little Big Town - Day Drinkin'

My Favourite Road Trip Tunes - Day Drinkin'

This song immediately transports me back to the tourist madness of Sieverville in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.    I recall it well because I love the band, but initially hated the song.  

It was obviously a popular hit at the time, so it was on the radio a lot.   The more I drove around Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and supermarkets and stores around Sieverville, the more I heard it.    The more I heard it, the more I liked it.   

Now when I play it in the car, I wonder if I'd had too much Moonshine in TN as it's a great country song...and it's about drinking alcohol during the day.  What's not to love??  Exactly.

Do you have any songs that transport you back to a specific time and place?

Suz x

Monday, 13 June 2016

Dealing With Depression

I've suffered from depression, on and off, for my entire adult life.  It's not something I tell many people, but it's also not something that I'm ashamed of.   In a sense, my struggles with depression have made me the person I am and, although I hated that for many years, I no longer do.    It's something I live and cope with, well at times and poorly at others, but it's there and I think it always will be.  I also suffer from GAD, but that's very much something that's come to prominence over the past 10 years. 
I've gone through countless tips and tricks to help me cope with depression and anxiety; some of which are OK and some of which, when I'm at my lowest, I haven't a hope in Hell of finding the wherewithal to even attempt.   And that's what depression is for me - something that takes away my motivation and happiness and replaces it with a sad woman who can barely get out of bed.  In saying that, I have become a master at hiding this from most people; particularly people I don't know very well, or people that I don't wish to alarm (friends and family).    

I like to be 'normal' around most of my friends and family as taking about depression can make me more depressed.  Who knew??   Spending time with my family and friends is generally a time when I can forget about everything and have a good giggle with my sisters or spend time teasing my Mum and Dad.   And it's difficult to beat that for a bit of free therapy.  

I understand that everyone suffers in a different way, but these are the things that I find useful.    I hope you do, too:

Dealing With Depression: Parties
You'll find me by the food, making friends with someone's dog, wondering how early I can leave.  
Friends, Parties and Group Meetings:
I can be completely anti social and I'm the first to admit it.   I tire very easily and hate being in a crowd.   I particularly hate being in a crowd with people I don't know.    Situations like these make my anxiety spike and I spend most of my time desperate to pull a fire alarm (or maybe start an actual fire) in order to get home.

I will actively avoid training at work with people I don't know (my idea of what Hell must be like), parties with strangers (just kill me now), and large gatherings of any type of human (dogs, yes.  Humans: not so much)    I know I don't like it, I know it doesn't matter how many times I do it, and I know it's not a reflection of the people I'm with. It's just me.   

What I DO like, however, is little groups of awesome people, or one to one chat.   I'm still not much of a sharer about my mental health issues face to face, but I can communicate via email (and blog, apparently) and this is a way more comfortable way for me to divulge information.     If I'm feeling particularly horrible, I think nothing of snap chatting a friend who is aware of my depression (I love you, LK) and making light of the situation.    I would NEVER pick up the phone and do it.  I'd rather keep it to myself.  

Tip:  Surround yourself with loving friends and family (preferably mine) and never, ever take notice of anyone who thinks your depression makes you 'weird;, 'selfish' or 'rude' because you're not a complete extrovert.   Ditch them now - they don't (and won't) understand you.   

Dealing With Depression: Time Out
Me escaping from too much people-ing
Time Out:
This can be a difficult balance to reach.   Sometimes, being on my own for too long can bring me down and sometimes being with other people has the same effect.   Whatever your situation - listen to yourself.   If you feel like you can't handle a situation - get out of it.  Life's too short to acquiesce to the wants and needs of others at the detriment of your own health.    Pardon my French but Fuck It.

It's YOUR life, YOUR time and, without being a complete sociopath, do what makes YOU happy.   This is particularly important to people who suffer from depression because we often need more encouragement and time out to get ourselves through the days.   

I love being on my own and I always have.   My Uncle once sent me a Christmas card with a dormouse on it - and all these years later I realise that he had me sussed out from the start.    

I try to take time out through the day, even if it's just 10 minutes away from my desk; a quick walk at lunch; some incredibly loud singing to Chris Stapleton in the car on the way home; or just a wander round the garden.   It all counts...and it all works.   

Tip: Take a break.    Dance round the house, sing at the top of your lungs, and learn to love your own company.    Not being surrounded by people all the time doesn't make you odd, it makes you awesome. 

Dealing With Depression: The Little Things
Me disguising myself in my car so that no one recognises me when I'm belting out Tennessee Whiskey at the traffic lights
The Little Things:
I can't stress this one enough.   Tiny little, inconsequential things that others might take for granted are often the things that turn my day on its head.   This is true in both a positive and negative light.

Having a good sing on the way to work is one of my favourite ways to blank out my mind and give my brain a rest. I crank my music to the loudest setting and sing until my throat hurts.     Getting a lovely email from a colleague or friend during the day is also something that makes me smile.   Seeing LT when I get home, or sharing stupid stories with my Mum and sisters is guaranteed to make my day brighter.   

I'm also doing more reading at the moment, which is helping me to quiet my mind.   I've thoroughly enjoying it, too.  I suffer from insomnia, so I listen to audio books in bed every single night and it's something I've come to look forward to.   I can happily bound upstairs at 8pm, jump into bed, and cuddle up to the sound of a gruesome murder or two.    Seriously - you should try it.  

Tip - don't stress about doing too much.  And DON'T feel guilty when you can't function in the way you think everyone else does.  Find something small that makes you smile and do it.  Then find more things and do them, too.   And never, ever stop.   

Dealing With Depression: Hiding
Blending in to the background isn't always a bad thing - but it can be sometimes.  
Don't Hide it (all): 
I already said that I don't often chat about my depression and this is partly because I don't want to dwell on it and partly because it's so difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced it.   

Regardless of how open you are as a person and how much the people around you know about your mental health issues, do, at the very least, speak to your Doctor.   It doesn't have to be a full blow by blow of how you're feeling, but simply just a short conversation every so often to update them on how you are and discuss any treatment you might benefit from.

Don't struggle with it on your own - you'll find it even more isolating to cope with and it genuinely won't help you.   Find someone, ANYONE, to tell about it and I promise it'll make you feel better.  Medication from your Doctor won't automatically make you feel great, but it will make you feel more able to cope with depression on a day to day basis.

It's only been in the last year or so that I've found a friend who is open about her depression and, when she describes it, I realise that we're exactly the same.   This doesn't make for a gloomy friendship - anything but.   I can't tell you how much better I feel to know that someone else is having a shitty day for no particular reason or has dragged themselves out of bed crying and don't know why.    

I'm not saying I LIKE that my friend suffers - I hate it, but I do so much appreciate how she feels.   And this makes me a better friend.   I tell her the things I think she needs to hear, because they're the same things I want to hear.    And she knows where I am and that if she doesn't hear from me for a few days, I'm not being rude or ignorant - I'm being me.     You can't buy that kind of understanding.   If you have someone you can confide in - do it.   Now.

Dealing With Depression: Friends
Find someone who understands - like your dog, for example.   
Don't Rush It:
I often make myself feel worse on my bad days by thinking I'm lazy or worrying about things I need to do that I can't bring myself to start.  Over the past couple of years, I've gradually learned to let it go (no singing, please...) and be a bit more relaxed.  

If I'm having a bad day, just getting through work without crying in the toilets or becoming the office mute is a win.    If I can't bring myself to go for a run or clean the house when I get home: who cares??   I can do it the next day. Or the day after that.   Or NEVER.   Because it genuinely doesn't matter.    What IS important is that I'm fit and healthily, not whether I'm a size 8 with clean plates.

Don't get me wrong - I still do this from time to time, but I am getting better at not beating myself up about it.   

Tip - Accept that there are days that you're not so much in control of your feelings.   Accept and it go with it.   You know you have good and bad days, so get through the bad ones as best you can and try to understand if there was a trigger point.   If so, work on that.  If not - don't sweat it.   There's no point of adding to your depression by getting yourself down about the things that you can't cope with on any particular day.   

If you're like me - these days will pass.  Sometimes it happens overnight and sometimes I can go for a few weeks with the same feeling.   It's exhausting enough just getting through without being hard on yourself.    Think of the advice would give to a friend and take it on board yourself.   

Do you have any tips for dealing with depression and anxiety?  What are the things that get you through the bad days?

Suz x