does it make me really shitty?

black crt tv
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If I curl up on the sofa

With the curtains closed,

Watching videos about books

And pretending there’s no life

Outside these few square metres,

Does that make me shitty,

A person to be hated

Or at least scorned today?

I have had a rule since I started my teacher training and then my ECT years, and that is to make it into work, no matter what. There will be exceptions made if I’m vomiting or need to spend a lot of time in a bathroom, but I am absolutely not allowed to skip a day because I feel anxious.

I have had so much time off over the last ten years because of anxiety and depression, just because life builds up and I’ve not had the skills to deal with it. I still struggle, but now that I have a job where people really depend on me, I make sure that other areas of my life will suffer before work does.

The rule is that every social situation will go out of the window before I need to take time off, and that has worked for two years now – and I’m super proud of myself for managing that.

However, that has meant that I’ve regularly let people down when I’ve been invited places and it really pains me to think that other people might hate me for my flakiness.

I can’t even begin to tell you how crushing the weight is as social situations creep nearer and how shitty I feel when I inevitably end up sending a hurried last minute text to cancel.

Part of me wonders what my life would look like if I could keep pace with everyone else. I’m proud of mastering the work situation but it hurts to think of the trail of people who don’t like me because I guess my behaviour is rude.

Are there any other flakes out there? Because I love you and I feel your pain. Stay strong, we’re not horrible people – we just need good people to help build us back up, not knock us further down.

Much Love

Rachel xx

five years on and am i any better?

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A bit of a personal one today because my sobriety birthday is coming around and that always makes me a little bit introspective. Next week I will be five years sober and that is massive, but I do wonder if my behaviour is any better than it was.

One of my big problems when I was drinking was that I would fear getting shouted at if I did something wrong. It often led to me waiting until the last minute to tell people that something was wrong and that I needed help. This obviously led to huge problems at work and with family.

And I’ve gone and done the same thing again this week. I really wanted to do a long run and to do that I need my dad to help me with transport as I can’t drive after all that running.

Anyway, I was worried he would shout at me for signing up because I feel like he might be fed up with watching me run to exhaustion. So, I didn’t tell him.

Now, the weekend has rolled around and I have found he has loads of things to do. I’m feeling anxious and ill because I’m worried everyone is angry at me and that I’ve wasted hundreds of pounds. This is just the most typical ‘me’ behaviour that I can think of.

I guess the fact that I recognise this is a problem and I am doing it a lot less means that I have improved. But I am still angry at myself and it always makes me worry that if I can’t correct this, would I also slip back into my old drinking habits just as easily?

I’m sure there are other people out there that find themselves in these cycles of behaviour, and I am sure the stakes are much higher in many of these cases. But I just wanted to share that it’s something I struggle with so badly, so if you are also going through something similar, I hear you. And we can absolutely do better… but we also need to be kind to ourselves and all of our faults.

Much Love

Rachel xx

take hold of it and bank it

money pink coins pig
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There is an old account, a dusty vault

Where truths and lies all sit in wait

For us to push in plastic cards and hit

Buttons in the hope the something good

Will come of our request.

But good stuff must be banked if we

Are to see returns on our investments

Made at times when tides are running high,

Because the tides will certainly run low

And then we’ll need to cast our eyes

On the words that seemed so little at the time.

When I was having therapy, I realised that a lot of the time, I cling onto bad comments that are made about me, and completely disregard the good ones. I know I’m not the only one that does this, but I did it in a really big way.

There was one particular session where the therapist complimented me and then, just two minutes later, asked me what she had said about me. I literally had no idea and it really upset me because it showed me just how terrible I am to myself.

Since then, I have always said that if something nice is said about me, I will ‘bank it.’ I will put it into an account that can be drawn on at tough times. I will undoubtedly had deposited bad comments too, but I must remember to put the good ones in.

Today, I was stressing a bit about how badly I thought that I was doing with the online lessons. And then I was having a chat to one of the teachers and she said ‘I’ve just realised that you haven’t even met these students that you’re teaching at the moment. That’s incredible, what you’re doing.’

It was such an off the cuff comment and it would normally be lost on me. But these days, I’ll bank it. Somebody said I’m incredible and I’m allowed to keep hold of it.

I think that we’re all wobbling all over the place at the moment, so if you haven’t heard it recently…. you are pretty incredible too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

how are you coping…..really?

cute children cuddling in armchair at home
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I felt those familiar pangs last night,

As the news filtered through

And the words rattled round

On a Twitter fed carousel

Built just to torture

The sensitive ones,

Like you and me.

I sat watching the TV last night and I felt that blind panic that I remember feeling at the end of March. There is something about an unscheduled press conference or announcement that makes me feel as though the end of the world is nigh.

I watch these things and I feel like I’m watching some weird apocalyptic movie, but it’s real ,and it’s terrifying. There was a time that I had no idea what that conference room inside No.10 looked like, and now I feel like I know it better than my own living room.

I did pick myself up after all of those scary announcements in March, but now that it’s happening again I wonder whether we’re all going to be so strong this time around? Maybe we will fare better? Maybe I’m just panicking about nothing?

I really just wanted to say that, although I know I’m not dying, I had that breathless feeling of panic last night and I was thinking of all the others out there who are worrying.

I understand and I just wanted to ask how you really are? We’ll all be OK but just say hi if you felt that shard of fear in your heart last night. I’m really sending out my love and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can have some sort of Christmas that is normal in just the smallest way.

Much Love

Rachel xx


this coming year i promise that

i’ll eat less chocolate, get more sleep,

i’ll be a lot less moody and

these promises i’ll keep.

Just a short one as I think about the end of the year and what next year might bring. I don’t know about you but I’m a tiny bit shit at keeping my New Year’s Resolutions. The amount of times I did Dry January with the intention of carrying on in the rest of the year is astounding. Of course, I did crack the drink problem eventually, but it took a lot more than a half arsed promise that I was making myself at midnight on 31 December.

Resolutions are so hard to keep and yet we beat ourselves up when we fail at them. I think that this year we need to promise to be a little kinder to ourselves. We over eat and over drink because we are stressed out and hating life. It is the immediate gratification that we are after and if we were a little nicer to ourselves we wouldn’t need it half as much.

This year, take a step back from the root cause. You may have an alcohol problem, in which case, go and get the appropriate help. But it may just be that you are pushing yourself a little too hard. Take your foot of the gas and you may find that you are only craving the drink at the end of the week rather than at the end of every day!

You can achieve so much in 2020 if you put your mind to it. But don’t stress yourself out by making some arbitrary goals at the end of this month. Follow your heart as the year progresses and see where it leads you. That marathon that you’ve always wanted to do might get done this coming year or it might not happen until 2025. Whatever the case, you will achieve SOMETHING this year and you should celebrate that as and when it comes.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

How to deal with the ups and downs of life (a couple of helpful tips)

I sometimes feel like I’m living more downs than ups and that can be a really difficult thing to deal with. But we’re all feeling this way and that is why life is so bloody confusing. It’s the fact that we watch everyone else and wonder how the fuck they are making it look so easy when they are looking right back at us and thinking the same thing. It’s laughable really, but it’s a truth that needs to be learned and accepted if we are to do anything great while we are here on earth.

There was a time when I was genuinely convinced that there was some kind of class that I had missed where everybody had a life manual dished out to them. I seriously believed that they all had this book that gave them a comprehensive set of instructions on how to do it right.

Of course, drinking to the excess that I did, didn’t make my understanding of life any easier, but I knew that if I could just get hold of that book, then I’d know where I was going wrong. I would know how to navigate life’s ups and downs without making the complete mess of it that I always did.

Now I know that this manual doesn’t exist and I have had to develop a set of my own rules. I see the rules a little bit like a seat belt that I can use on this rollercoaster that used to throw me all over the place, sometimes nearly leaving me on my deathbed. The rules don’t stop the rollercoaster from moving but they do stop me from flying out of my seat. (Crap metaphor, I know, but it fits with the ferocity of the feelings that I used to have back in those days).

So here are a few little ways in which I try to keep myself safe when I’m on that up and down journey and my knuckles are white with the effort from hanging on for dear life.

  • Repeat the words LET GO AND LET GOD. Handing everything over to a power greater than myself is always a comfort. It’s the loss of control that is scary so hand it over to something bigger than yourself.
  • Remember that another person’s opinion of you cannot harm you. I often find I’m so emotionally hurt by what somebody says that I forget it can’t do any physical damage. It cannot kill me and it only has the power that I allow it to have over me.
  • Somebody else’s opinion is often a reflection of their own insecurities. If they are being horrible to me it’s because something in their own past has been dredged up in them. That has nothing to do with me.
  • Knowing that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. There are not many things in life that last forever. A bad feeling, or a crappy situation will normally pass. I often try to think if I will remember what is happening in five years. If the answer is no then it’s probably not worth wasting too much energy on.
  • See life as a story or novel. You can’t have a good novel without there being a chapter or two where the main character goes through some shit. Without this the novel is going to be a little bit boring! So if you find yourself going through some difficult days or weeks or months, then think of it as only a chapter or two of your life and look forward to the upward curve when you will get your happily ever after.

I hope that some of these are useful to you. I know that shitty times in life are hard to get through when everyone around you appears to be doing so well. But know that they will be dealing with their own problems in their own times and you just need to stay in your own lane, get your head down and look forward to the brighter times that are already on the horizon.

You are loved and you are special and you just need to relax and breathe and smile like you have it all under control, because that’s all that those other people around you are doing.

Much love

Rachel xx

Motivation (a poem)

I think motivation is such an interesting thing. I sometimes lack it so much and then I beat myself up. But should I do that? I think that sometimes we need a rest and we need to appreciate that. Sometimes it is actually OK to just sit in front of the TV and relax.

I’ve always struggled with the idea that I’m allowed to rest; always thinking that I have to be on the move. Even when I’m sitting watching TV I like to have the laptop on my knee or to be doing some crochet. I always feel as though I need to be creating and I wonder how healthy that really is?

On the other hand, it’s sometimes really fun to back out of things at the last minute because you just can’t be bothered but it can become a bit addictive. You do it once, and then twice and then before you know it you’ve paid for a month gym membership and you’ve not been even once.

So once again it’s all about finding that balance. Finding that sweet spot where you’re not being lazy but you’re also not burning yourself out. This is obviously something that’s really hard for people who struggle with addictions because life is all about the extremes.

I am still trying to find that balance and funnily enough, writing a blog is helping. When you commit to putting up one post a day you have to do it. I don’t need to write a novel, but I’m doing something every day. Normally I’m the kind of girl who starts running and then decides to do a 100 mile race or starts swimming and then trains to swim the channel (I kid you not!) Then when I’m not feeling it, I won’t swim for three years and the idea of getting myself to the pool is enough to make me feel sick.

I’m sure that most people just struggle with actually getting out of the door for that run and I can completely sympathise. The advice I would give you is to take a deep breath and just do it. Nine times out of ten you will feel so much better when it’s done. But do be kind to yourself. Ask why you want to do what you’re doing; what’s the motivation behind it? Are you doing it because it’s going to benefit you, or serve the community, or are you just doing it because you want praise or more money to spend on something mindless?

With that in mind, here’s a little poem for all of us who struggle to find motivation from time to time.

I know that I should really do some writing,

If my career is to have a chance that’s fighting.

I know a session at the gym is due,

I want to go; I really, really do.

But when I try to leave this sofa,

I realise I’m becoming quite the loafer.

I can’t be bothered to find my kit,

I tell myself that I’ll get moving in a bit.

What I need is a cattle prod,

Because we all know I’m a lazy little sod.

I know that if I did a wee bit more,

My body, my career, my freakin’ life would soar.

If I’d just write, or run, or even play some tennis,

I could be like Rowling or have the abs of Ennis.

Your advice sucks!

I know that the title of this post doesn’t sound particularly patient, kind or loving but I think that some of us introverted folks need to say it a little more often. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if a tonne of extroverts need to say it more too because it doesn’t really matter what our personality type is; most of us just want nothing more than to fit in and feel loved.

I do think that advice from friends and loved ones and work colleagues and all manner of other people can be so useful and its always worth taking it on board rather than dismissing it all immediately. BUT, there can sometimes be a tendency to rely so heavily upon advice that we end up refusing to listen to the most important person of all: ourselves. Remember that we are the ones that need to live with our decisions and so our gut instincts are normally quite useful as they are giving us an idea as to what direction to take to make us most happy.

I decided to write this post because it’s a topic that has been playing on my mind a lot since getting sober. I sometimes wonder who I’d be and where I’d be if I had listened to my own little voice that exists in my head rather than worrying what others thought or what they ‘expected’ from me. By the time I had gone down the drinking rabbit hole, I didn’t seem to have any idea how to listen to my own instincts. I didn’t trust myself because my confidence had reached such a crippling low and that’s such a scary place to be.

I have tried to pick apart what led to my problems with trusting myself but here’s what I feel that I have pulled out from it all over the past three years.

My early life was dominated by sport and as a swimmer and student my days were rigidly structured. I loved the disciplined lifestyle but something in my brain went pop when I reached 18 and I ended up running away to London and doing all the drinking and partying that I could handle. I then made my way to South Africa, met my ex husband and got pregnant. He left me after two years of marriage and I was left with a baby that I didn’t know if I even wanted. My life felt like it was in tatters and it was the first time that I had ever listened to my own advice. I had gone totally off the rails and I vowed that I was never going to do it again. From then on I didn’t trust myself and I ran every big decision by my parents for the entirety of my twenties. I became like a child again and that continued until I got sober over a decade later.

And now I look around myself and can’t help thinking that my life would be so much better if I’d just dusted myself off and tried again. I definitely need to have toned it down a bit, but I could have learned and grown like a normal human.

I know that it’s useless to spend too much energy on this wondering, but it has made me think about the advice I would give myself if I could talk to that very frightened young woman.

First and foremost I would tell her not to be frightened. No matter what has happened over the years, I’ve always landed on my feet and this would have continued to be the case even if I’d been a bit more daring and tried things my way. And if things did get really bad then I’d just dust myself off again and start over, just as I did when my husband left us.

If I could do anything differently it would be to try and use my creativity more. I’m sure that there are a lot of airy fairy dreamers out there, just like me, who struggle in the 9-5 corporate world but they slog it out because that’s what they’re expected to do. The advice given to everyone is to get a boring job and just suck it up. It’s well meaning advice because parents and friends don’t want to see you poor and suffering, but it is still really sucky advice because it’s bound to make you unhappy.

So I want to ‘advise’ you to listen to yourself. You will probably get it wrong a few times and if you’re anything like me you’ll probably get it spectacularly wrong, but at least you’ll only have yourself to blame. There’s nothing worse than a plan gone wrong and then feeling bitter towards the person who told you to do it.

And you may not make it in whatever your heart desires but wouldn’t you rather die trying that grinding away at the office because your mum told you it was a safe bet and God forbid that you should go against what she says?! And what if you do make it in that thing that you’re dreaming of? What if you do suddenly find yourself getting that book deal or winning X-factor or gold in the Olympics? Could you live with yourself if you were miserable in a job you hated when you could have had that moment of magic, if only for that moment?

I’m not saying that the 9-5 office job is bad and if that provides you with the fulfilling and happy life that you want then you should absolutely keep going. You are already luckier than the vast majority of people in the world if you are quietly content with your lot because you are happy. But don’t do something because everyone around you says that it’s the right thing to do. Do the thing that gives you satisfaction. You might still have to do something to top up your income but if it means taking a pay cut to go part time and write that book you’ve been meaning to write, then why not?

Have fun out there peeps; it’s meant to be a pleasurable journey!

Rachel xx

What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?

Erin Hanson and Winnie the Pooh