Monday, 3 November 2014

ED's Story

I wrote this piece about my relationship with my 'Ed' a while ago. Personifying my mental illness made it easier to handle and after reading Ruby Tandoh's article about her relationship with food in Elle UK this month, I wanted to share my experience. 

Ed's Story

Ed had been my best friend, my confidante and my worst enemy for three years. He had been there for me when I was feeling the most vulnerable, the most alone. I was moving away from home and setting out on my own for University. Beyond the sights of my parents, Ed taught me about myself without interruption. I had had to hide him away before, lie about seeing him, now we could be together, just the two of us, happy.
Happy? Can you die of happiness? I didn’t think I could. Together we were invincible. We grabbed life by the throat and told it to listen to us, we knew what was right, we owned my future, we were in control. ‘We’ weren’t. Ed was.

The trouble started when I brought him home for Christmas to meet the family. I was still a bit ashamed of him but as with anyone you fall for, you’re willing to put them first, beyond anyone who had loved you in the past. He was all that mattered, my parents just didn’t understand. They tried to tear us apart, undermining him and trying to talk me out of my drunken romantic stupor but I couldn’t let him go. He was my lifeline and my security against the world outside that was intent on making me fail.

I was lovesick, metaphorically and literally. In reality, beyond the rose tinted glasses, it was domestic abuse. I was one of those scared women who felt that they couldn’t survive without their other half no matter how much he beat them, undermined them and told them they were nothing without him. I wrote poems to him, letters to him, proved my love at every opportunity; breakfast, lunch and dinner, sacrificing myself at the alter begging for forgiveness every time I felt I had been weak and let him down.

 I tried so hard for him. To be the person he wanted me to be, but it was never enough. I was always too fat, too pathetic, too weak. I never lived up to those images he flashed in front of my eyes every time I looked in a mirror, or a window, or a spoon as it hurtled towards my open mouth while he screamed at me that I wasn’t good enough and I never would be if I didn’t try harder.
The break up was long, emotionally draining, soul destroying. Every week I would have to face him and tell him why this had to end, why we had to part ways, it was heart- breaking every time. He would apologise and proclaim he only had my best interests at heart; he was trying to help me, to make me better. Sometimes the violence would return, he would shout that I was nothing without him, that I would lose control and fall into a black hole of despair and failure where I would curl up and die having never achieved my full potential. It was these angry confrontations that spurred me on.
Learning to go it alone, have faith in myself beyond him was my target but I kept missing the bulls eye. Every holiday I would return from university to check my score but it was never enough to win the trophy. I was still a failure, but this time I was failing on my own. Ed was always around the corner of my mind or hiding in the cupboard ready to reveal himself with open arms for me to run back into.

I would like to say there was an epiphany moment, a lightning strike or a knight in shining amour that gave this tale a peak, but there wasn’t, not really. It was lots of little sparks keeping embers aglow which finally smoked Ed out. One of those sparks was my little sister. She was my idol; brave, intelligent, beautiful inside and out. Every time I saw her, that spark would re-kindle. It was when she had to go into therapy during her exams because of Ed that that spark turned into a flame.  Another spark came along one night when my mother came to sit on my bed and cried because she couldn’t see me under the covers. To her I had disappeared. That baby she had fed and nurtured for 18 years was throwing it back in her face an becoming a shadow. She was losing her daughter; that was a flame.  A university tutor telling me I had potential, a friend telling me she loved me because of everything Ed was taking away, being able to say yes to facing the world alone; every time a new spark would ignite.

Ed died on a pyre, a martyr to the religion of perfection.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Little Fish Syndrome

Hello everybody!
 Life update time again.
Once again the pace hasn't let up and life has been shooting forward in that usual way so that when you look back, life has flashed before your eyes and you can't believe its all happened.
So here's the breakdown...

1) I Graduated....
We all knew it was coming, although at times it was touch and go. These three years really have been the toughest. Previous blog posts are testament to that. But hey, turns out it was worth it. I manged to walk across the stage in front of hundreds of people (plus more watching online) not trip, cry or throw up and receive my first class degree in History from the University of Nottingham.
Who'd a thunk it eh!
Multiple pictures, a lovely family meal, a gorgeous surprise and a last few cocktails with the gang at CocoTang's meant it was goodbye Nottingham University. Its been a blast! I will now take my piece of paper and be off. Gracias.

My Little Sister <3 p="">

2) I moved down to London
So what do you do with a First class degree in your pocket and a very limited savings account... you move down to London of course.
Okay so i'm not that impulsive I did have an internship lined up. But yes i'm now here in the big smoke; cue the title explanation...
So its been busy, I mean like really busy. I had this idea in my head that I would move down, not be able to find a job and have to move back home (being my classically optimistic self as always). Not the case.
The first week saw me going to 3 recruiter meetings, setting up 3 interviews, start a new full time internship and move into a new house with people I barely know. I don't make it easy for myself do I? That was the tip of the ice-berg.

Long story short, i've now been offered a permanent graduate trainee role which I have accepted and am awaiting confirmation for.
In the meantime i'm still attending interviews I had previously set up in order to make sure i've made the right decision and helping out a fashion designer friend in my "spare" time. phew!
So back to the title. All this busy-ess, this awesomely, amazing busy-ness, has obviously been accompanied with exhaustion and drunken crying phone calls home.
I have termed this phenomena 'Little Fish Syndrome';

As a little fish in the huge ocean they call London, I am subject to one of two phenomenon. I am either trying to swim against the tide, using all my strength to stay my course and not get swept in the opposite direction, or the tide is on my side but it's pushing me faster than I can swim.  I felt this was a particularly apt analogy as it also fits with the idea that I am at the start of the rest of my life; a graduate, plankton, bottom of the ocean food chain and surrounded by bigger fish that will gobble me up or sweep me aside without even raising a fin. It's friggin' scary folks.
However, I am learning to surf the waves and on my own too because i've stopped the anti-d's (Hooray!) all is good in the mental-hood.

3) The Internship
So the whole reason I've been able to come down to London is due to the amazing Charlotte at GlamUK offering me an internship as an editorial assistant. It has been amazing! The people are great and I've been doing what I love; writing, messing around on social media and chatting non-stop about trends, fashion and food.
Today my first two pieces got published;
 ....with others scheduled to be uploaded over the next month.
The pride I feel knowing something I have written is on a site as established and widely read as Glam is amazing to me and has really boosted my confidence and self-esteem.
So big shout out to the Glam Team! Thank you for making me feel so welcome. Thank you for wanting me to stay on a little bit longer and allowing me to continue to learn and grow. I'm really going to miss you all come the end of August. *sad face*.

All in all, a busy few weeks. Its been hard keeping a level head when I've been riding this roller-coaster but i've managed it. I'm proud of myself and, as a knowledgeable friend said, 'London is my Oyster' (like the card geddit!?)
Little fish I may be but I am channeling Nemo and bossing it. I'll continue to grow, avoid being eaten and learn to swim with the tide.
Just keep Swimming..

Peace and Love x 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tri-Campus Games- Ningbo, China 2014

So after three years of university, the end of exams and a dissertation all handed in it was time to end it all with a bang.
The Tri-Campus games is an annual event held at one of the three Nottingham Campus's; UK, China and Malaysia. This year the amazing girls on my History Football team nominated me to go along with 70-odd other sportsmen and women from Nottingham University to represent the UK in Ningbo, China. 
Other teams included;
Men's Football (Best bunch of lads one could ever hope to meet!)
Table Tennis (Men and Women)
Tennis (Men and Women)
Squash (Men and Women)
Basketball (Men and Women)
Ultimate Frisbee (Awesome sport)
So on the 6th June 2014 70-odd UK Tri-Campus athletes, support team and coaches met at Heathrow Airport excited to begin what was to be the best ever 10 days.

Day 1
A 12 hour flight to Shanghai & 3 hour coach journey to the Ningbo Campus left everyone groggy, smelly and hungry and yet that all paled into insignificance when every so often the phrase 'Guys.... we're in China!!!' was heard and the smiles just couldn't have been any bigger.
After sorting out room keys, meal cards and staring in horror at the wooden beds sans mattress we were to sleep on we all made our way to a cafe for Lunch and had our first experience of the language barrier. Even pointing didn't seem to be universal. Tired and hungry we settled for what was put in front of us but the frustration subsided when the food was so yum!! The huge portions led us to question how the Chinese remain so skinny and it was only later we found out you're meant to share dishes in China which explained the poor waitresses confusion when a rabble of UK student all ordered separate dishes. 

Heading to the sports hall for our first briefing we covered the agenda for the week. Excited, Chinese, Malaysian and UK faces were to remain plastered on for the whole week.

 On the way back we bumped into a Farrowese international student called David who was to prove an indispensable tour guide and adopted UK team member throughout the trip. After beers on the football pitch with the Football girls and boys getting to know each other, David took us all to a street-market just off campus.... surreal amazing food and the best start to our Asian adventure. When we finally got to bed the wooden beds felt like a cloud.

Day 2 saw us waking bright and early at 8am and heading to a breakfast of steamed Vegetable bun and Congee (rice porridge). This was followed by a causal training session with the girls which turned into a sunbathing session... training in 27 degree heat and 70% humidity or working on the tan?? (no brainer)
(Yes the Congee is Purple... no i do not know why)

 The Lad's eventually joined us for a kick-a-bout followed by an afternoon filled with 'getting to know you' games alongside the Chinese and Malaysia teams ending with a water-fight.

...and a trip to the Zen Garden...

 ...we met up with everyone else and headed to the opening ceremony. We were all blown away. Parading in to music and following the Flag, we genuinely believed we were the stars of our very own mini-Olympics. The Chinese hosts put on a stunning show of Chinese dragons, geisha's and ...cheerleaders(?) followed by a firework display that just kept on going.

 After an hour of photo op's we headed to a house party at David's for tri-Campus beer-pong and our own getting-to-know-you activities. 
(Here I should point out that the motto of Tri-campus is 'Friendship through sport' while this is true... I think 'Friendship through alcohol' would have been equally apt.)

Day 3 Let the Games Begin
Starting with a pork bun and watermelon (The fruit was amazing) for breakfast the girls and I headed to the sports center to cheer everyone on. After the Boys' match we had more beers on the pitch which developed into a night of drinking games with the lads which proved to be the BEST getting-to-know-you activity and the source of continued hilarity and banter for the rest of the trip.

Day 4- Match Day UK vs. Malaysia
The day was a steady 28 degrees, and after a quick trip to the physio and a pre-match lunch/tactic sesh the girls were pumped and ready to go. Butterflies in my stomach and a lump in my throat I was so nervous. So many people came to watch us but with Holly the Hippo (Men's football team mascot) cheering us on we won 1-0....

Cue our first big night out in the city.
I don't think many of us knew what to expect. Multiple tequila shots in a bar called candles and a bouncy dance-floor in Nova (an Ibiza style club)  led to a love of 'the strip' which was to see many funny moment and result in many a hangover for the next week.

Day 5
After rolling in at 4am the night before its safe to say there were lots of  green faces standing by the coaches at 7:30am the next morning waiting to be taken for our day of 'cultural experience'. The whole day was spent looking round an old village and garden center type place and was accompanied with a soundtrack Karl Pilkington would of been proud of especially when it came to the lunch. While i'd always been a big fan of seafood, I was in my element but some of the lads (bless em') just wanted a burger... they had to settle for coco-flakes that Fran (the girls captain) had bought that morning. After watching a frankly surreal street performer in 32 degree heat, watching pigs jumping through fire and wincing at a tightrope-walking goat, it was time to head back.

(The Bridge of Happiness)

Back on campus Zoo ( fellow girls football player) and I sat in the sun and had bracelets made for us by two little girls; with big smiles and roller blades on they were always speeding up to greet us over the next few days giving us hugs and trying to sell us lemonade. 
The evening saw Zoo, David and I take a moped trip to Chinese Tesco. Live shell-less tortoises and frogs, questionable dried meats and really cheap alcohol meant that was the most accurate cultural experience of the day.

Day 6- Match Day UK vs China
Big game, the decider... adrenaline pumping, a miracle happened... I scored!! Highlight of the trip I beamed and almost cried as I was spun around my Fran with the rest of the girls jumping on us. I think we were all pretty shocked after winning 2-0 we watched the boys win 5-1 in the afternoon which set the stage for another big night out in honor of Sam's (Men's football captain) 19th Birthday. With a double football win we were going hard.

This time in Candles we were joined by the staff and again on to Nova which just got weirder... free watermelon then at 3am music stops, big screen  comes on and the World Cup appears followed by everyone sitting down to watch. Bizarre

Day 7
After another late night we spent the day sunbathing on the football pitch, with games over we regaled the night's stories, laughing at the pictures and at each other hangovers. At the closing ceremony we received our gold medals, a proud moment.

Naturally, such an occasion required another night out. Remember that scene in 'Lost In Translation' when Tom Hanks and Scarlet Johansson go to a Karaoke booth? Well KTV was kind of the same thing but in a VIP, with free beer, free food and free entertainment (i.e. us). I'm not going to pretend a lot of this night wasn't a blur; a crazy, funny, amazing, technicolor blur but I do remember it ending with street food and no voice the next morning.

Day 8
Learning Ultimate Frisbee cleared the hangover as did the amazing noodle place David took the girls and I too outside of campus.
 Little Aladdin's cave gift shops wet our appetite for more shopping and so the girls headed to the Mall for some retail therapy in preparation for out last night out... and i was worried i could keep up with the freshers anymore.. I gave it my best shot. After a sports bar, private members cocktail bar and (of course) Candles it was another early morning return.

Day 9
Waking up with a heavy head and street-food induced ickyness, it was the prospect of more shopping which got me out of bed. It was market day. Trinkets and cheap clothes galore saw the last of our yuan being spent on gifts for loved ones.

A de-brief in the coffee shop back on campus reminded us just how lucky we had been to come on this trip .
The Tri-Campus Games has been the single most eye-opening experience of my life; an education. I like beer now (the girls were proud), we can officially call ourselves international gold medal winners and I have made friends who I will always have shared amazing memories with and who will hopefully share in many more.

This trip opened my eyes to travel. I want to see more, experience more. I feel like I can graduate now with all these new experiences and memories helping me along. This trip showed me that i'm capable of conquering nerves, trying new things and meeting new people giving me a final boost, needed after a tough three years. Thank you to everyone who made this experience unforgettable.

This post is dedicated to Team UK.

Peace and Love x