Friday, 28 August 2015

My Summer In Pictures

Well summer is almost over - hasn't it flown by? I wanted to share my summer in photos like I did last year; however as I moved house to Dorset I do not have that many but I have chose a select few for you to browse. I won't go into too much detail about each photo - I want you to enjoy the pictures not the text! But if you have any questions about where/what the photos are about feel free to ask!

Here's to summer 2015!

Summer butterflies in Dorset

A very tired, messy Emily devouring a Pizza Express after a 6 hour train journey to Durham.

My first American pancakes

Best breakfast ever?

A very windswept photo of my sister who was rowing on the river in Durham - shortly after this I took over rowing and nearly killed us both! 

A Custard Cake that I made for my dad's 50th birthday. It was fantastic.

Three of my closest friends enjoying the view in Portsmouth after a day at the beach.

My closest friend swinging her heart out after a very wet and cold picnic in the woods.

Cute coffee shops and me are the perfect couple.

A day out with the family visiting the umpteen National Trust house this summer.

A striking sunset on the M4 on the way to Wales.

A perfect Eton Mess.

Me and my sister, in another National Trust house - but look I chopped my hair off!

Bird watching in rainy Wales

A seagull trying to show off the on lookers in Mumbles - Wales

Although my friends aren't exactly Nigella the love and effort that they put into this cake almost brought me to tears. (It did have a Welsh dragon on the icing but there was a table disaster!)

My families first day in Dorset - we weren't all jumping for joy like my brother!

The river that runs past my house - otters are a common sighting.

Windswept Jurassic Coast

This is in the local supermarkets carpark! (We are spoilt here in Dorset!)

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Building an Adult: Self Harm

I always planned on writing another 'Building an Adult' post; however I was struggling to come up with topics - it is not because I don't have things to say (trust me I do!) it was more because I was avoiding certain topics, self harm being one of them. Self harm is a difficult topic for me to cover because it is so personal and is still very much a big part of my life. I am writing this post with a trigger warning - I will not delve too deep into certain topics; however I am going to cover as many bases as I feel comfortable writing about.


When people talk about self harm the first thing that they think about is teenagers cutting up their wrists with razor blades or scissors; however there are many different ways that people self harm and many different reasons why. I can count more than ten people that I know self harm or have self harmed in their life time, the majority of them are girls but self harm is not gender exclusive. I know people who have self harmed because they suffer with personality disorders and people who have self harmed 'because other people were doing it'. Whatever reason they are doing it for it is a very serious thing and someone who self harms should not be ignored because you think that they are attention seeking. 

As I said you can self harm in a number of ways and for many different reasons. Self harming does not just refer to 'cutting' but can also refer to bruising, makings yourself sick, pulling out hair, picking at skin, scratching etc. I first became aware of self harming when I was 12 on an internet site that was aimed towards 8-12 year olds. On this website there were often very explicit conversations about people cutting and how they did it and why - as I realise now, it wasn't the best thing for a 12 year old to be reading. Still, despite my knowledge about self harm I didn't have any experience with someone who self harmed until I was in year 8 (that is the school year for children between 12-13). During this year I had a friend who manipulated me and frequently blackmailed me by using her self harm as a weapon. She would tell me that it was all my fault that she cut and that she would tell everyone what I had made her do if I didn't do x, y and z for her. She would frequently send me photos of her cuts and after a while it really began to have an effect on me. 

I was 13 when I first self harmed. I never cut my wrists (mainly because it was an obvious place and I was so ashamed) but I would do other things to myself. I did it to punish myself - I thought myself to be a disgusting person who was destroying people's lives one day at a time. AS a result I used to scratch my legs, my arms and used a pair of scissors to damage my skin in one of the most awful ways. I also really began to pick at my skin. I would pick spots and scabs and bites - the whole thing was made worse because I have the skin condition Dermatographic Urticaria so my skin would remain red, swollen and sore for a while. It also wasn't helped by the fact I scar if anything damages my skin - the things I did to myself (although faded) will probably be with me forever and I hate it but I have embraced it.

Stopping self harming was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. To regain the control that I had lost was so difficult but I was determined. I had realised that this was not the right thing to be doing to myself and that I should be respecting my body, not abusing it! To stop myself doing it I cut my nails short and filed them. I also would draw things on paper if I felt the urge to scratch myself and I threw away all of my razors and began using my mums electric razor for the time being. I also ditched the friend referred to above and it really helped. I needed to have control back in my life and that meant making decisions that may be hard but in the end they worked out okay.

You can relapse though and I did. About a year maybe two years ago I fell into the deepest depression that I have ever been in. I had fallen out with someone really close to me and the guilt just hurt me so much. I blamed myself completely for what had happened and just went numb. I used self harming to feel again. It didn't really work (in fact it didn't work at all - all it did was make me more unhappy and feel even worse) but it opened this hole inside of me so I fell back into the routine. This was harder to break because I was so depressed but my friends helped me - although none of them know about my self harming their support and the help that they gave me when I was feeling down made me less and less dependant on harming myself and hungry for control and freedom again. I stopped hurting myself in that way but when I am really stressed I do still pick at myself - this is a really hard one to break because I can do it anywhere and it is going to be a lot of work to break this cycle but I am determined to do so. 

I am okay now and you can be as well. It is going to be hard but trust me - if you are strong enough to admit that it is a problem you are also strong enough to beat it.


Self harming is not okay but it also is not something you should be ashamed about. If I hadn't felt so bad about self harming I think that I would have got the help I needed. If  you currently are cutting I want you to throw away your razor or your scissor etc. If you throw it away now you have got that control back; however if you do do this and then you relapse don't feel bad about it. Self harming does often become an addiction and they are hard to stop. People may not think about it like that but it can be as hard as giving up drugs as you have become so dependant on it to take your pain away so a relapse is completely understandable.
Self harming has become such a taboo subject and people are so ashamed to talk about it. Even the thought of writing this was an issue for me because I was worried what my parents would think or my friends but realistically it doesn't matter. I haven't self harmed in years (if you ignore the picking but even then the amount I do this has decreased dramatically and no help is going to stop me from doing it) and not talking about it isn't helping anyone at all. Maybe me talking about it will encourage someone else to talk about their experience and help someone and then they talk about it and help someone else.... We need to break this taboo and talk about it. So many people self harm inso many different ways. By ignoring this subject or just thinking about cutting when self harm is mentioned is not helping anyone at all. 

So what should you do if you self harm? I can't make you stop, no one really can - it has to be stopped by you because you are harming yourself. But I want to tell you that you may self harm because it feels like a relief but this lasts a second and then you have to deal with the scars and cuts for a long while. It is never going to cure any problems, instead it will only create new ones that may be even worse than the ones you are facing now. To throw out that razor or to stop banging your head against walls may seem impossible to comprehend but trust me, your life really starts when you begin stopping. Why should you let that little voice of yours have the control? It's your body and you should try to love ever little bump, spot, stretch mark and scar - it may take a while for you to do so but breaking a razor isn't going to make anything better. Trust me, please.

Talking to someone about self harm may be impossible - I don't think that the words would leave my mouth but you do need help so maybe don't cover up your injuries and when people notice don't lie. If you can't say anything just let the silence speak for itself. I cant tell you what will happen next but I promise you that whatever follows will help you to stop and may give you the confidence to seek more help from professionals. It mayn't seem like it at the time. It may feel like you did the worst thing possible; however you have started to get the ball rolling and things will go from there.

If you have scars what can you do? Well there are things that you can buy but I'd say the best thing to use is bio oil. It is expensive and doesn't really work on old scars but it will work to fade newer ones. Stretch mark cream will also help but moisturising but it may still take years for them to fade but every little helps You can get lazer treatment but even that scars so what is the point. Use natural things on your skin but careful around the areas you have damaged. Avoid exfoliating.

I know that this blog post isn't going to change a lot but I think that if people begin to talk openly about their experiences it may start to. I know that you may feel trapped in a cycle of self harming and it may seem an impossible thing to break; however every step that you take to becoming clean feels like a weight off your shoulders. I wish you all well with your journeys and please feel free to ask me anything and I will try to help you.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Brilliant YA books that you probably haven't heard of

I read a lot. I read well known books but love to branch out and read lesser known ones as well. A lot of these books are fantastic; however they are often over looked for some reason so I thought that I would share a selection of these lesser known novels in hope that you may find a book or a writer that you love.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

This book has won a number of prizes so you may have heard of it; however I am still yet to meet anyone who has actually read it. The novel is about two teenage boys, Ari and Dante who find each other when they have no one else. The novel explains how their friendship grows and how it alters their relationships with their family. The author explores what it means to be a teenage boy but also what it meant to be Mexican growing up in 1980s America (this was an intresting issue that I hadn't really thought about before). Despite being set a number of years ago the struggles that Ari faces are very similar to a number of teenagers today and it is a very relatable book regardless of gender. You will become emotionally attached to Ari and Dante (although I didn't actually like Dante for the majority of the novel). My advice is to pay attention to what is being said, Sáenz is very good at adding subtle things that really add to the plot - I only noticed them the second time around.

I would recommend this book to people age 14+ because although the language itself is not too challenging some of the themes are and may be misunderstood by anyone younger. Also there is quite a bit of swearing at times.

Severed Heads and Broken Hearts: Robyn Schneider

This a story about love and friendship. The main protagonist is a boy called Ezra Faulkner, a teenage
boy who is still recovering after a car crash that shattered his knee, ended his athletic dreams and dramatically altered his life. Then a new called named Cassidy Thorpe joins he school and they embark on their first proper teenage romance and a very complicated friendship. The book is not a fairytale though and Schneider shows how up and down a teenagers life can be. She also explores how one event can change several peoples lives, even those you expect the least.

I would say that this book can be read from the age of around twelve. Looking back on it I can not remember any particularly 'adult' moments so you are all in the clear there!The writing style is fairly chatty so it is very easy to understand (if not a little annoying) and it is only 335 pages long so not too bad!

Hurt: Tabitha Suzuma 

This book is hard hitting and comes with a massive trigger warning. It follows the character Matheo Walsh who was a champion diver for Britain then an event happens that completely changes his life - for the worse. Matheo finds it difficult to connect with his friends, girlfriend and compete in his diving competitions. The whole affair is made more difficult by his demanding parents who expect perfection. Suzuma explores who traumatic events can ruin a life and force then to change everything they do.

This book should definitely be read by people age 15+. It covers issues and topics that will not be fully understood by people younger and could potentially upset them. It also has some graphic sexual scenes and some uses of swear words. It is a fantastic novel; however it IS upsetting and those who may be affected or triggered by novels should avoid it.

Hate List: Jennifer Brown

I am fascinated by the phycology of those who commit school shootings and this novel explores the
aftermath of one through the eyes of the offender's girlfriend, Valerie. Valerie wrote a hate list with her boyfriend that listed all of the people who upset and annoyed the pair. Nick (the shooter) then took the list and planned of killing everyone on there for revenge. He managed to kill a few and number a lot more before being stopped by Valerie. Hate List is the story of what happens next, the friendships that Valerie creates and loses and the struggles of having to rebuild yourself after such a traumatic event.

This book is not explicit as it doesn't have many scenes of a sexual nature; however there is the occasional swearword.  The book is about a school shooting though so the topic may be quite upsetting even though it is not in too much detail - Brown tends to explore the emotional effects instead of the physical ones. I would say that mature 12 year olds could cope with the subject matter as the book is not too complicated.

Heart-shaped Bruise: Tanya Byrne 

Oh this book is a fascinating concept. It is about a girl who is in the psychiatric ward of an English prison. It is written in the form of notes and journal pieces and flits from the present to the past, explaining what happened and why she is in prison. Emily, the girl, is clearly unwell and is focused on getting revenge for her fathers' own imprisonment that left her with nothing. This quickly becomes an obsession and she creates a fake identity to hurt and do anything she can to get back at the person who took everything away from her. This whole matter quickly becomes more complicated as Emily begins to fall in love with someone and it alters her plans completely.

This book may have a few swear words but there are virtually no sexual scenes. Obviously there are some disturbing scenes (she must have done something to end her up in prison!) but it is nothing that a 12 year old couldn't handle. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Music Monthly

I am so sorry that I have been so MIA over the last few weeks - it has been a hellish time surrounded with boxes and GCSE results but finally now everyone has begun to calm down and I finally have time to sit down and write again (yay!).

It has been about two months since I wrote my last Music Monthly so I thought that is was about time for a new one. A lot of these songs have been discovered by one of the latest Spotify service - Discover Weekly which I eagerly await every Monday. If you haven't listened to it yet I would suggest that you take a look - it really is a good update!

Artist One: Hudson Taylor

I found this band after clicking on their song 'Chasing Rubies' accidentally and I am very glad that I did. Since then I have fallen in love with two of their other songs - Battles and Care. I listen to them all the time; however I do prefer the versions that aren't on their album 'Singing for Strangers' (or the ones that aren't on the Spotify album!) My only issue with Hudson Taylor is that after a while their songs begin to sound quite similar so I like to break them up by adding them to a playlist. 


Artist Two: Novo Amor

Novo Amor (also know as Ali Lacy) is a Welsh artist who produces some of the most beautiful and moving pieces of music that I have heard. It is all very Bon Iver and I LOVE Bon Iver. He doesn't have very many songs out at the moment but the ones that have been released are so wonderful. My favourite ones are Weather, Welcome to the Jungle and Callow. His music is the type of music that you lie down and cry whilst listening to it. It is also the type of music that is perfect for moody car rides in the rain. 

Welcome to the Jungle

Song One: The World Should Revolve Around Me: Little Jackie

This song is a really good feel good song (you may need it after listening to Novo Amor!) and I think it is perfect to help get over someone. The lyrics are clever and funny and every time I listen to it it just makes me smile. I haven't explored Little Jackie's other songs yet but if this song is anything to go by she is B.R.I.L.L.I.A.NT. It is a bit sweary at times though so if you don't like songs like that then maybe this one isn't for you.


Song Two: Freaks: The Hawk in Paris

I recently went through a massive Pretty Little Liars phase and managed to watch all six seasons in a record amount of time. This song is from one of my favourite scenes which I would explain but I wouldn't want to ruin it for someone who is still catching up. It is a strange song but it is just a song that you can turn up really loud and it makes you feel like you can do anything (I listened to it whilst playing Candy Crush and I completed four levels straight so that proves that this is a power song). Don't expect complicated lyrics like the ones in the song above, I think it just repeats about two verses but it is a brilliant song that you must listen to!