Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Do you have a word that you absolutely hate? I do. Its the title of this blog post. I can hardly bring myself you write it again. Its a word that makes me feel physically sick.


My flat mates at university think its so funny that I don't like it - so they chant it to wind me up. I think its a truly horrible word and should not belong in our dictionary. In fact, I hate it so much that at school, when the deputy head walked into our cookery lesson and said "Ooh, those look rather Moi-...."I shouted and threw my tea towel at her before she could finish her sentence. Thankfully, she saw the funny side...!

Am I being irrational? Do I need to perform a CBT downward arrow on this to get to my core belief about my feelings for this word?

Miranda Hart in Miranda often thinks about the sounds of certain words - the one I can recall that she mentions is "Thrust". Eeeeugh - thats horrible too.

I'm glad I have got that off my chest - but I am afraid I still really don't like the word Moist.

Monday, 30 January 2012

6 hours of TENNIS

I wonder if any of my readers were as gripped as I was to the television yesterday watching Nadal and Djokovic battle it out to win the Australian Tennis Open. I needed reminding that it was the middle of the night for them, as they endured a nearly 6 hour tennis match and I was contemplating what to have for lunch.

It amazes me how they managed to just carry on and on and show no sign of giving up until the end. Their bodies must have been so confused - what with it being the middle of the night and having hardly any rest/time to sit down from start to finish. These kinds of people are inspirational.

I thought the crowd were brilliant too - and nobody showed signs of wanting to leave half way through the match despite it being the middle of the night. The players can't just stop and go home so neither should the spectators! It takes real talent to hit the ball as hard and skilfully as they do - and thankfully there was not too much grunting!

I have to say - I was routing for Djokovic, it was the seventh time in a row that he has beaten Nadal, who at one point I thought had it in the bag. It was a battle of mind over body. Their tenacity, energy, determination and focus should be an example to us all.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Miranda and the Therapist

I very rarely watch television but I have just finished watching Miranda Series 1 and 2. The episode where she finds herself with her mother in front of a psychiatrist had me crying with laughter. Please watch this clip or watch the whole episode if you can (episode 5) - she gets herself in all kinds of trouble and the session hasn't even started. I don't think I was quite that chaotic at my first psychiatric assessment...!

I rarely meet people now who don't liken me to Miranda Hart. My mum isn't sure whether I should take that as a compliment (because she's worried that means she might be like her mother played by Patricia Hodge!) - but I do take it as a compliment because I think she is absolutely brilliant and everyone adores her (both on and off camera). Apart from having the same name as her and also being tall, we aren't really physically alike. But people do think we sound the same, have the same facial features and so on...so she could basically be one of my long lost cousins. I wish.

She is "what I call" "such fun"....bare with....

I'd rather be likened to her for making people laugh - maybe thats something I need to work on. I am definitely easily flustered, like the sitcom Miranda who you see in the clip above.

I dont think I trip over as much as her:

Miranda is currently in the BBC series "Call the Midwife" and once again, had us all screaming with laughter last Sunday night. It was the best tonic to get rid of that Sunday night feeling that signals the end of the weekend. I'll be tuning in again tomorrow and I can't wait. And I eagerly await the release of Miranda Series 3, which is apparently coming out in the Autumn of this year. 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

It's not just humans that get depressed...

This poor tiger lost her cubs to premature birth. She was diagnosed with depression so these little piggies were wrapped in blankets to help her cope. Her health improved and she now loves them as her own. They have emotions too!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Depression: the nutrition connection

I have been doing some research on Stress as my current essay title is '"Stress makes people ill." Critically discuss this claim with reference to psychological theories of stress and empirical findings.'

I came across this article on the link between Nutrition and Depression by Patrick Holford

There is no doubt about it - we, as a nation, are becoming more and more depressed and are badly affected by mental illness. Ruby Wax states that 1 in 4 of us are affected by depression. And the scary thing is - it's a problem that is not getting any better.

The western diet and lifestyle has a lot to answer for. We don't eat enough fish, fruit and vegetables and this is a massive contributor to the balance (or should I say imbalance) in the bio-chemicals in our brains. If you go back hundreds or thousands of years, humans were not depressed and didn't lead the stressful lives that we are today - and they ate good, nutritious food all the time. Even if you look at tribes and cultures in other countries, the number of people affected by mental illness is nothing like what we have - and its all down to their diet.

Now - I'm not saying we should all live like cavemen but I do think we all need to do something about this depression epidemic, and by that I don't mean take medication, which is now so easily prescribed by the doctor. 11% of people in the USA take anti-depressants. That is A LOT of people.

More people need to understand that health can be dramatically improved through Nutrition and other basic lifestyle changes. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Lipstick Connection

This wonderful post by Carrie Arnold on The Lipstick Connection has just been bought to my attention and I have to share it with you. As Extralongtail said "people 'get the wrong end of the stick' and assume that EDs are 'about' vanity, femininity and/or culturally-related constructs of 'beauty'"- they are NOT.

There is still much confusion and misconception out there about it all. The real answers to these misunderstandings is here at F.E.A.S.T 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Best friends

How do you define a "best friend"? I have just been listening to Sir Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2 play Best Friend by Queen, which has prompted me to write this post and I have been meaning to talk about this for a while.

My sister is only six and is forever telling me about her "best friends" at school - she seems to have a different best friend every day of the week. 800 million of us use Facebook to interact with friends/people we know. The average user has 130 friends - I have to confess I have far more than that, as do many other people I know. Are these real friends or just connections? And what does it say about someone who has thousands of Facebook friends or just a few? I think you can know a lot of people, but not necessarily call them all true friends.

I don't have a single best friend - but a few really good friends who I know I can call on for help at any time. I have become acquainted with many people having done lots of different things in the last few years. There used to just be school friends and home friends. But I went to three different schools, did a cookery course, did a PA course, am now at university and I have a very special, close group of friends who I met on the journey of recovery from mental illness (known as P-FINE peeps - more on that another time) - that's six categories. And that doesn't include "family friends" and home friends. It's very confusing because many school friends and home friends and other friends have now met and are at university together and I can't go anywhere now without someone knowing someone else, be it through home, school, college, university etc. For example, I went to school near Oxford and my brother went to school in Middlesex and he is now studying/socialising at Edinburgh university with girls who were two years below me at my school. God, its confusing. Hopefully you get what I mean. Basically - its a damn small world that just keeps getting smaller.

In a previous blog, I wrote about Kate Thornton and Megan Rafferty's documentary on anorexia. Well - it turns out I know Megan and her mum used to teach me. It doesn't get smaller than that.

I've always had to work hard at my friendships and sometimes find it hard to socialise - that's not because people find me difficult to "like" but I often get lost in my own world and I do enjoy my own company. My psychiatrist said I had traits of Aspergers syndrome. I think she might be right - thats only traits, not the full form of autism.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Kate Thornton and Megan Rafferty

I came across this documentary on Channel 5 last night. Wow is all I can say. It made me laugh and cry. Thank you to Megan (Twitter: @meganraff) and Kate Thornton and everyone involved in this documentary for bringing love and hope to everyone who still suffers.

I can't believe the Suffolk connections that I also have with Megan so maybe one day I will have the pleasure of meeting this beautiful young lady. Those who were filmed at Newmarket House whilst having treatment are also incredibly courageous. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Daily Mantra

God, Grant Me the Serenity to Accept the Things I Cannot Change, Courage to Change the Things I Can and Wisdom to Know the Difference

Depression, Eating Disorders and Stigma

"Depression is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign that you have been strong for too long" - I was so relieved to hear this quote, although I am not sure who originally said it.

I have had depression on and off for 6 or 7 years, although I've only known about it for 3 years - up until 3 years ago, people just told me to get a grip and cheer up. Cheer up, you say? Cheer up? God, if it was that easy, I wouldn't be in this state, would I? I had been to the doctor but other things were blamed for my unhappiness like low self esteem and homesickness at school - but these were not the cause - they just added to the problem. There were lots of triggers - its a chicken and egg situation. I'm not sure which came first.

Depression is a complicated mental illness and there's much more to it than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. It was reassuring to know that it is a genuine illness of the brain where the chemicals that make you happy were out of balance (well, that's my simple way of putting it!). 

Depression affects one in four people - that's 25% of the entire population. That's a LOT of people. I get angry when I hear about the stigma associated with this illness. It's a clinical illness, and just because you can't "see it", it doesn't mean its not there. 

It can affect anyone - rich, poor, famous, royal, young, old... I salute Ruby Wax for writing Losing It - a show that tells us about what she went through. It was laugh out loud funny at times, but let me tell you: there is nothing funny about Depression. Ruby also gives a poignant account of her struggle with mental illness. Also - this is good to watch.   Andrew Flintoff has bravely spoken about his battle with the illness too.

A friend of mine has just bought this page to my attention and I think it is brilliant. I have not listened to the podcasts yet but will do so ASAP. Prof Mark Williams is an absolute genius in my eyes and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy is a very exciting and worthwhile route to pursue for help with depression. 

I also get angry when I hear of the similar stigma that comes with eating disorders such as anorexia - I've had that too. "Doing it for attention" is the classic line. Do you really think people wish to starve themselves? You don't choose mental illness, just like you wouldn't choose cancer or a broken leg.

I eventually got help. That's another story.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Separation Anxiety....from our phones!

I enjoy reading the London Evening Standard newspaper, which can be grabbed for free from any of the people giving them out all over the city. This article caught my eye in yesterday's "freeeee staaandard"...

"The sheer stress of separation from my iPhone" - I've noticed we are all becoming more and more stressed without our phones near by or without signal to send and receive messages/email/tweets etc. Apparently "More than a third of adults admitted to feeling stressed and unhappy when their phones were inactive..." I have to confess - I hate it when my phone is unusable but I certainly have not heard "phantom vibrations" or had genuine separation anxiety like those whom Lucy Tobin writes about in this article. Nor is my phone in my pocket or in my hand from the moment I get up in the morning to last thing at night. I can walk down to breakfast and leave it upstairs. Many of my friends simply can't do that. I used to spend train journey's with my iPod in one hand and a magazine in the other. But now, I am glued to my phone - tweeting, texting, emailing, facebook-ing and now BLOGGING!!

The older generations just didn't have the technology to do all these things. In years to come, my 6 year old sister won't have heard of a phone that isn't "smart" and letters and faxes are already a thing of the past. It won't be long before people will be admitted to The Priory Hospital, Life Works and other treatment centres, suffering from "internet addiction disorder". Lucy writes that we all show signs and symptoms of this "disorder". We can't go out for dinner with friends, go to the theatre or cinema or in some cases, have family dinners at home without the faint sound of vibrations of a phone in someone's pocket, which is followed by everyone quickly checking to see if it was theirs.

The sad truth is that its a problem that is not going to get any easier.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Life Clubs

I have spent the most lovely and fascinating evening with Nina Grunfeld at Life Clubs. This is a weekly workshop that is meant to inspire life changes. They run all over the UK and Canada throughout the year. Nina set it up in 2004 and hosts her own club in Westminster, London.

This week the workshop was all about Life Circles. We had to draw a big circle, and in that circle draw another circle which represented ourselves - and around that plot other circles which represented parts of our lives which meant something to us. These could be family, home, friends, jobs, colleagues, illnesses etc. We did one for now, one for this time two years ago and one that we hoped would represent us in the future. Everyone's circles looked different - some had a few large circles all spread out, some people's were joined together.

I was intrigued to find that the circles that I drew were so different now to two years ago - this made me realise how much my life has changed since then - for the better! Each of the blobs/circles were less chaotic in the current life circle to two years ago when life was a mess and I didn't know which way to turn.

The workshop always starts with a Balance Chart that we fill out to assess where we are, at that moment - how we feel about home, work, family, friends, fun, relaxation, creativity, spirituality etc and from that we can see which part might need a little more work.

This is fun, affordable help and allows you to develop your personal awareness and perspectives by building on your social and emotional intelligence and communication skills. 

I can't recommend it more highly.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Help is at hand...

If anyone is looking for some of the best help and advice with Eating Disorders, look no further than Charlotte Bevan and her blog - in particular this post:


and she has many links to other blogs/forums which will open your eyes to it and allow you to hear the truth to what its all about. The right help is out there - avoid the fluffy, wishy washy stuff - this is serious.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Dr Sarah Ravin - you have made my day...

I have done a LOT of reading over the last few years on Eating Disorders, Depression and general mental health issues in order to help with my own recovery. But clearly not enough! I only just came across Dr Sarah Ravin who seems to be top in her field, or should I say in THE field that is mental health.

She describes the term "Mental Hygiene" brilliantly here:


I find this a fascinating term and I am looking forward to reading more from Dr Ravin. Everyone interested in mental health should take a look at this website and blog.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Good Morning Prime Minister!

I often love visiting Portobello Road/Market in Notting Hill, London on a Saturday morning. Residents in the area probably hide and double lock their front doors as thousands of tourists and curious shoppers flock to see what bargains they can find. The smells, sounds and sights all fascinate me and I love just walking up and down capturing it all.

This morning - I was delighted to walk past the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, with his three children in tow. I hope he was able to enjoy a leasurly Saturday morning spending time with his family, as any father/husband would want to do. However, it can't be easy with such an important and demanding job running the country. I don't think his wife Samantha was with him. I heard someone say "Good Morning, Sir!" - the poor guy can't even take his children shopping/out and about and not be bothered by "Jo Bloggs". It made me smile though. I think the PM, the man that said hello to him and I were the only British people on the entire street. If only more British people enjoyed these hidden gems in London like David Cameron and I did this morning. I have nothing against the tourists - they are doing our economy some good but more Brits around would be nice too!

Friday, 6 January 2012


It never ceases to amaze me how much we all rely on Social Networking nowadays. In five years, I have gone from not having Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to not being able to cope for more than a few hours without ANY of them. What on earth is going on? Facebook has become my number 1 method for contacting people - this is partly because I am convinced that most people in my phonebook don't bother to tell me when they have changed their numbers so they are probably all wrong, but my connections on Facebook are all "correct" if that makes sense. I have never wanted to follow the crowd and I certainly remember saying that I would never get Facebook - but it didnt take long for me to become one of the many hundreds of millions who now connects "socially" with others online.

Facebook was swiftly followed by Twitter, which again, I didn't think would ever have to come across, but it's also become a MASSIVE way for everyone communicating with one another. I heard from a very reliable source that the first announcement that Bin Laden had been killed was via a tweet...and from that word spread like wild fire and the news had gone around the world about a million times within half an hour of the first announcement.

I was encouraged to join LinkedIn in the summer of 2011 (last year!) when I graduated from Oxford Media and Business School as an Executive PA. We were told to get our names out there and make connections with people on a business/coporate level. So I did - and this is a third page that I manage on a regular basis.

I discussed Social Media Marketing with my aunt in August 2011 when I was working for her (as a PA/helper). There's no doubt about it - marketing a business like hers via Facebook/Twitter and other similar social networking sites is a really good idea mainly because its a free way of telling the world about you. However, she pointed out that although it's free - she has to spend her very valuable time managing/updating these pages - something she would be unable to do regularly because her head is in so many different places - and I agree with her. It's hard enough just keeping the actual website up to date, let alone everything else. It's all very well connecting with people on all these social networking channels, but how can even the businest people keep up? For instance, Piers Morgan and Sir/Lord Alan Sugar must be two of the busiest businessmen in the country, but how on EARTH can they tweet at the rest of the world as much as they do and continue with their daily lives? The answer is that they probably don't and someone does it for them but apparently their Twitter pages are genuinely them. I'm not so sure and had to "unfollow" them both because they were clogging up my newsfeed with their childish banter.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Lets start at the very beginning...

Maria said in The Sound of Music, "Lets start at the very beginning, a very good place to start..." This is my favourite film of all time, and as this is my very first blog, it is only appropriate that I also start....at the start!

I've always wanted to write a blog having learnt about it on my PA course at Oxford Media and Business School and I am keen to follow in the footsteps of Charlotte Bevan, whose blog inspires me so much. However, I didn't think anyone would be interested in reading what I have to say....but only time will tell!