It’s been a YEAR since I attended the Blogcademy London in Shoreditch. I know, I know. Its been ages since I attended. I’d actually written something up back in February but never got around to posting it. For a while I thought maybe I shouldn’t post about it, that it had been too long and I sort of missed the timing boat– but I was wrong. Even a year later, The Blogcademy has left me with good vibes.
Last January! I’m in the back with the purple hair. ;)
The Blogcademy is run by three glamourous headmistresses, Gala Darling, Kat Williams (of Rock & Roll Bride) and Shauna Hader (Nubby Twiglet), who are just as lovely in person as they are in their many stylish photographs.
Not really sure my style does them justice.
I wasn’t really sure what to think when I signed up for their second London workshop. £500 is a hefty amount of money for a jobless student to pay. I ended up using Christmas money, money meant for clothes, and food money. I even had my own business cards made up specifically for the class. NO REGRETS.
In the end I’m really feeling like I got my money’s worth– but maybe not in the ways I expected. It is everything and nothing like you think it will be. They don’t skimp, they answer all your questions, are down to earth and even if you’re an old hat at blogging, you definitely come away with something.
It was actually the first time I had managed to properly get out of the house and act like a normal human being since the start my breakdown. Before the Blogcademy, I was sleeping in every day until 5 PM, I never went outside, had no job, and had fallen out with everyone I had previously been very close with in the UK. It was a really crucial first step in my recovery.
The course itself is incredibly informative and interesting. It was then that I realized that I had probably picked the wrong major for university– I hadn’t been this interested during a class in a long time. Even in my medication-induced fatigue, I felt refreshed! I was surprised at the great feedback I got– not only from the headmistresses, but from the other bloggers as well. So many people hugged me, and told me I was “very brave” for sharing what I do, that they loved my drawings and that I had made them laugh. It was really touching, and frankly made me feel that there was more of a point to this blog than I was even admitting to myself.
Oh and– Did I mention that I won “Best Blogger Face?” Scored some killer shoe clips– which I wore to death for the next six months. All for being experienced in taking myspace style portraits! I knew all those selfies would eventually pay off.
MY BLOGGER FACE.
The end of the workshop was highlighted by drinking entirely too much gin, and pancakes for dinner at the breakfast club with a wonderful few stragglers from the course. It was good. Really good.
At the end of the two-day course, I left with a couple of notebooks full of invaluable information for my blog, fresh ideas, a new outlook on my creative work, and an amazing and supportive community of fellow bloggers. It’s given me peers in a field that is almost entirely solitary, which I think is really the best thing I came away with.
I felt excited about life for the first time in recent memory– and I wasn’t alone.
Naturally, I was eager to recapture that magic when the headmistresses announced they were having a reunion of sorts at the beginning of September (lunch at Wagamama). It’s a strange and awesome vibe that leaves you inspired and itching to create. I’m not really sure I can put it into proper words. There’s just an energy that hangs in the air when you get that many enthusiastic creatives in the same space.
There’s me in the back with the white hair. You can see my arms! (And my eye xD )
If you can make it to their next workshop– DO IT. I couldn’t recommend it enough. Even if it doesn’t change your life, it’s a total blast.
For more info on the Blogcademy, visit their website. Also do check out Lucy J’s post The Many Faces of Blogcademy. I’m in it! (My whole face and everything!) Also just read her whole blog. All of it. It’s great.
♥ Kelly Cutrone’s books; Normal Gets You Nowhere and If You Have to Cry, Go Outside
♥ SHERLOCK, (and books that help you think like Sherlock)
♥ The Skinny Artist
♥ The Very Worst Thing’s Kawaii Baphomet drawings
♥ Feng Shui-ing my bedroom
♥ Ulyana Sergeenko’s style
♥ Puerto Rican comfort food
♥ Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
♥ These fluorite earrings my boyfriend bought me for Christmas.
(Apparently supposed to help with concentration. I may be wearing them, right now. Talk about a burst of energy.)
I think it’s absolutely essential for you to know that you are sacred, magical, and special, to nurture that truth and unleash it into the world. That’s right. I want you to fuck this earth with your energy. It’s about time we stood for something real.
I’m suggesting that what is real is you.
-Kelly Cutrone, Normal Gets You Nowhere
Today is the official end to the Christmas season, the twelfth day of Christmas having ended yesterday. This means it’s time to dust myself off and crawl out of my sparkly, merry cave. I’m back to work, the school year starts up again, and I seem to smell vaguely of mimosas and expensive cheese. Delicious, but stinky.
Smelly or not, I’m psyched.
Or how I spent 2013.
Or the year my life changed forever.
Or; my annual giant-ass New Year’s post.
I have been very insular this year.
I don’t usually go out on friday nights.
I’m down the pub maybe once every few months.
Sometimes I go days and days and days without ever speaking a word with someone else face to face.
I spent Christmas and NYE entirely in my own home.(albeit very, very drunk.)
When I first moved to London this would have made me miserable.
I would have felt like a supreme loser. There are probably a lot of people that do see me this way.
And you know what? You guessed it.
Those people can fucking fuck off.
I’ve spent a lot of my free time laying around, resting my weary old lady bones, dreaming, planning– thinking about creative projects for the future– remembering who I am as a person and dropping dumb societal standards to the wayside. For the first time in my life, I feel pretty fucking great. For the first time in my life, my base mood is not anxious, or sad or angry. It’s mostly okay.
When I moved here four years ago I could have never imagined that. It was still pretty unimaginable four months ago.
For once, I’m living for me and not for the approval of other people– and to think I was writing posts about suicide this time last year.
This is huge.
For 2014 I want to keep this mostly positive other-people-can-fuck-off vibe. Here’s some resolutions.
Here’s to you, 2014.
It’s the 1st day of September, which means its mix tape time. You probably weren’t aware of that.
I, like a lot of other girls I know, have this bad habit of focusing on boys who are bad news and not focusing on myself. I made a mix tape about it because I am obviously trapped in the 90′s. There’s a LOT of white girl rap on there. You’ve been warned.
So much to share, but it will have to wait.
Also I’m blonde now.
Nine months ago I had a nervous breakdown.
When I tell people I had a nervous breakdown almost a year ago, they seem to think that this is what I want to talk about.
It is the MOST boring thing to talk about. There is only so much conversation you can make out of “oh yeah, I was crying all the time” and “I sleep about 15 hours a day because I can’t get out of bed!” and “yeah, I don’t really have a great explanation for why I haven’t done my coursework, but I haven’t! Yeah I totally know this can affect my visa status.” and “I wish I still had the motivation to do things! Like bathe, or brush my teeth. That was awesome.”
I don’t know what else to fucking tell you, but I’m not going to lie.
I have not been okay.
I’ve spent the past three months writing an article for this blog about my nervous breakdown, explaining signs and symptoms that I experienced so that others could have some sort of point of reference. It was funny, and made me feel cool and strong– like I could prove to the invisible audience that was judging me that I was okay and I had moved on and learned to be this glamorous rich bitch.
I think I was the only one trying to prove this to, really.
I wanted to prove to myself that I was funny and cool.
Remember this bitch?
I had most of it written up from the first night I wrote the article, but I struggled with the art and I struggled wrapping it up into something succinct. The fact is, even though I’ve become a master of making light of my issues, there was nothing really funny or cool about any of it.
It was awkward and painful and really uncomfortable. I spent most days feeling ashamed of myself, feeling like I was emotionally bleeding out and drowning in the resulting ocean of feels that surrounded me.
It’s difficult to put into words, and frankly it’s often embarrassing to talk about. Even now. Sometimes especially now.
It’s also not really over. I am better than I was, but that is not difficult. Things were really bad for a long time.
There are sporadic moments of light and darkness. I feel like I’ve lived more in the past six months than I have in the past six years.
I’ve been inspired by crazy wonderful people I met over the Internet, became addicted to boozy milkshakes from The Diner, watched the sun rise over Angel station, had some of the best sex of my life, had my heart broken, stopped trying to sleep at night (vampire hours), queued up in soho overnight for record store day despite not owning a record player, gone for drinks with pagans, had pancakes for dinner with people I’d only met the day before, watched real magic happen, got my 28 year old best friend consistently carded for cigarettes with my adorable baby face, started working out regularly for the first time in my life, had the most enjoyable birthday of my life– ALONE, attended the blogcademy (so good), and learned not to be afraid to smile at strangers.
None of these things have been constant, but they do give me hope for the future. I spend a lot of time just trying to forge ahead and not be haunted by the past.
It doesn’t always work.
I have made a royal ass out of myself for a good portion of it, and burned more bridges than I would even care to admit–some out of negligence and some out of self preservation. I have spent a lot of time alone in my flat just trying to stop feeling so fucking overwhelmed. I stared at the walls, I danced, I sang, I wrote a lot of fiction, I sometimes made burgers at 3 AM. They were delicious.
I can tell you right now that my breakdown is not over.
But it might be the best thing that has ever happened to me.
photo sources ? x x x
Today is the last day of July–which means that summer and the year are both more than half over. It’s been about 81F on average most days, with 100% humidity more often than not. I wouldn’t mind it so much–but there’s practically no fucking air conditioning in this country. Or ventilation. Or deodorant that actually works in the heat. The minute I step outside, I turn into a drippy, stinky, grumpy puddle of a woman.
This has driven me to be more than a little nocturnal. Even as I write this, it’s about 6AM, and I haven’t slept yet. I’m not sure I’ve even been awake for more than 12 hours, but I’m not really sure I mind. Early morning in the British summer is delicious. I hate it when people use flavour adjectives for things other than food as it makes me nauseous, but I can’t really find another word that describes the feeling I get.
Thunderstorms have been rolling in almost nightly as of recent, usually making an appearance around 1 or 2 AM, leaving sunrise (around 4:30) feeling cool, crisp and smelling amazing. English air smells a bit sweet, even in the city– and especially in the summer.
My bb Robyn at RobynCarlaDanielle.com made a summer mix tape a couple of weeks ago, and as a sucker for playlists I made one of my own to reflect my own summer. Its been a summer of cute boys, romance drama, cocktails, weird club nights, my birthday, new friends, the royal baby, self acceptance, strawberries, and Wimbledon. ❤
Make the most of this next month, yeah?
It leaves a lot of us feeling a little drained or sad. I know I do. One of my favorite coping mechanisms is to make mixtapes that reflect my feelings or make me feel a bit better.
This one is a bit of the past month and a half. (There’s a bit of pop.)
Hope the holiday didn’t drag you lot down too much.
Today is the last day of the year!
It’s probably been the most difficult, most tumultuous, most exciting, and most productive year of my life. The past couple of months have been about the end of many things. It’s been really rough. I’m not at all where I’d want to be, though people around me have been praising me for the “great strides” I’ve been making.
I don’t really feel it.
Christmas hit me like a ton of bricks, and I’ve been in a really familiar place since then.
Truth is, I think I’ve really been hiding out from something.
It’s something I’ve been afraid of for a long time– Five years maybe?
But the impending New Year has given it a sense of urgency that doesn’t completely make sense to me.
I’ve tried to prepare for it. I’ve sat by the sidelines and watched people I love jumping in.
When I look into my future, it’s not that it doesn’t look bright.
I don’t see anything. Just this terrifying, all-consuming nothingness.
It’s really hard to get out of bed in the morning if that’s all you see on the other side of that door.
I felt really sorry for myself.
It wasn’t fair.
I’d been through a lot, things were really difficult for me and I didn’t get anything from it! Meanwhile douchebags around the world were getting married, having babies, being successful and immensely popular, rolling around in money like motherfucking Scrooge McDuck.
Where was MY happy ending? Why was all of this happening to ME? Why couldn’t I have the things that I wanted?
I was pretty bratty about the whole thing.
It generally made me miserable.
It made the people around me miserable, too.
I lost the longest relationship I’ve ever been in, and then the love of my life, one of my closest friends (three different people, fyi), my dream job, and contact with people who I really looked up to.
Which of course just meant I felt even more sorry for myself.
Recently I’d gotten really low. I stopped getting out of bed. I slept all day and stayed up all night.
I felt dead inside.
I was at the end of my rope, and really starting to feel hopeless.
I texted a friend of mine really late one night, in tears, my text reading, “I wish I was dead.”
And then it hit me.
No, I don’t.
My fear of the future has gotten me to this place, and by giving into it– I’ve lost SO MUCH.
Yes, that’s terrible but– why am I still doing this to myself?
Why am I approaching my depression from the perspective of a victim?
Why am I focusing on the things I’ve lost, the people that have “wronged” me, and not my own future and happiness?
Why am I asking myself what to do about my depression instead of asking what I can do to make myself happy?
Because I’ve been afraid to let go.
I’m afraid it won’t get any better.
It’s okay to be afraid, as long as you don’t let it keep you from moving forward.
In 2013, that’s all I want to do.
Even if sometimes you’re not sure what’s out there.
It may not always be easy to stop feeling sorry for yourself, get up and go–but you’re the only one who can make you happy.
I hope you have a happy New Year!
If this New Years has you feeling like I was, please don’t hesitate to call one of the following hotlines. There’s always hope.
08457 90 90 90 Samaritans (UK) 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US)
One of my own personal Christmas traditions is to make a wishlist way too late for anyone I actually know to buy anything for me and post it up on the internets to share with all my friends and family.
I used to get a lot of shit from some people I knew.
Every single one of my wishlists over the years can be broken down into three basic parts.
First, we have the Reasonably-Priced-Items-That-I-Will-Use-Every-Day-Forever.
Angelic Pretty Trick Cat button set ¥1,050/£7.72, Angelic Pretty Marshmallow Dot Eco Tote ¥2,310/£16.97, Drop Dead Salem Iphone Case £15, Drop Dead Sweet Knees leggings £25, Deceptions Tentacle Gauge Earrings $25/£15.87, Galaxxxy Sexy Cat-chan Sweater$45/£27.85
Angelic Pretty The Magic Angel Boston Bag ¥10,290/£75.60, Cute Lou Bat Blouse €95/£79.54, Black Milk Revenge Of The Burned Velvet Maxi £77.16, Jeffrey Campbell Zidler Hi Boots $264.95/£163.96, Betsy Johnson Too Too Parfum $62/£38.37, Yummy Cupcake Plush £48
These items are dangerous. They have a lot of appeal– but I can’t ACTUALLY afford them. This instills the desire even more, and may lead to splurge buying as a result of ridiculous glamourous fantasy scenarios where I’ve told myself I need them to live/breathe/be happy. (I blame tumblr.)
….I may sometimes have the same amount of money it takes to buy them. (You know, because it’s meant for things like bills, and groceries, and living.) What’s worse, because they’re “high-end” items, the usually end up not fitting, being incredibly uncomfortable or completely usesless, and thusly– used a lot less.
Or I’ll try to force myself to use them.
Angelic Pretty Fluffy Kitten Cape ¥20790/£152.75, Vivienne Westwood Armor Ring £185, Baby The Stars Shine Bright Mellow Chiffon Blouse ¥13440/£98.75, KTZ Cow Boots £560, Iphone 5 £529, Angelic Pretty Picture Book Dress ¥24,990/£183.61, A REAL UNICORN £££?????
I try not to look at these around people.
Chances are I won’t be getting any of these things– I’m probably better off, but a girl can dream. Here’s hoping you all get what you want for the holidays! ♥
Merry Happy, everyone! ♥♥♥♥
[Much love to Allie of Hyperbole and a Half]
November was rough. On the bright side, Halloween this year was DEFINITELY better than last year. That’s not really that hard to do, but it was nice.
I have spent the last month, alone, on an emotional roller-coaster.
…Well, it’s more like an emotional hole.
Do you remember that scene in Homeward Bound where the dogs are trapped in that muddy hole beneath railroad ties and it’s too slippery to get out and it’s really sad and dramatic?
That’s where I was.
At the bottom of that hole was my bed, and sometimes my laptop.
(Usually whining to my close friends who unfortunately lived on the other side of the ocean DAILY. They helped me deal a lot with the initial pain of my situation, and how I felt about myself, but nobody really seemed to be able to help dig me out of this hold I’d dug for myself all the way across the Atlantic.)
Sometimes I would get out. Sometimes I would have excited bouts of creativity and energy and manically run around trying to catch up on the coursework I missed.
It wouldn’t last very long.
I got sick a lot. I had a hard time getting out of bed. I had a hard time sleeping. I got the flu. I got tonsillitis (AGAIN). I injured my hip implausibly (standing) thanks to an invisible physical disability I have.
The people around me stopped wanting to listen to me.
I don’t have very many close friends in this country, that’s not to say I don’t have any friends… I just don’t feel particularly close to a lot of the people I know. A lot of them have their own lives and I don’t really feel like I fit. I don’t feel comfortable most of the time. My support network is small, and weak, with many holes in it.
This has really been one of my big issues since I moved here. I didn’t have much in common with my course mates as I’m 6 years older than most of them, American, and couldn’t seem to find any real common ground with them.
I know many lovely, awesome people, but when I socialized with them, I often felt left out of conversation or lonely, or I sat back and watched as everyone had a great time doing something I wasn’t particularly interested in– and I felt sorry for myself, which just shut everyone else out and made everything worse.
I sank back down and I stopped trying to force myself out.
All the time.
I stopped wanting to go out or do anything, I ceased to function effectively as a person and eventually I stopped feeling guilty about it.
I also stopped feeling like a loser for not being out at a pub somewhere with a bunch of people who don’t really seem to care whether or not I’m there.
Other than still being really ill, I stopped feeling bad about it. In fact, being away from people was really comforting.
I started to think a lot about why I was here.
What had I wanted when I came here?
I came to England to study and escape an emotionally abusive relationship and a dead-end job, make new friends and hopefully live this awesome glamorous dream life in London.
Most of that didn’t really happen. I sorta just helped royally fuck up my personal and professional and academic life now because someone treated me like shit a few years ago and I’ve never managed to move past it– and then I beat myself up about it for a long time. I spent so much time looking back and being afraid that I couldn’t handle much of anything.
I started to think about this a lot.
I eventually wanted to stop thinking about this, and started wanting to do things again.
I started to remember things I liked and wanted to do before I stopped wanting to do things ever again.
An overseas friend reminded me that even though I was in a rut, I had specific goals.
It was crazy how suddenly this insurmountable pile of things that was wrong with my life was just a list of things I could tick off at the end of the day. This lifted the weight from my chest, and instead of feeling bad– I started looking at life in a more practical sense.
Life was suddenly column a or column b. Things that helped me, or things that didn’t. Things that I could change, and things that I couldn’t. Suddenly… life started feeling more possible.
Eventually? I stopped crying.
Not to say that I can’t cry, or don’t cry at all, or things aren’t hard, or even that much better, but I don’t feel the need to mourn my life anymore– and I refuse to beat myself up about any of it. I don’t want to do that anymore.
I’ve spent a lot of time this past year trying to pick myself back up. I bought Gala Darling‘s Love & Sequins, and her Radical Self Love Bootcamp. I bought The 4 Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz and actively tried to follow the teachings in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. None of these I ever really finished. I didn’t have a real motivator to keep it up, and I still don’t.
Just being introspective doesn’t solve my problems, and I’m not sure it solves anyone else’s. I have so many amazing things I have left that I still want to do, including finishing my course. Which is why I’m chronicling everything here.
Things have started to ease up a little bit, I’ve begun taking care of myself, getting organized, and actively seeking out people I already know who I’d like to be closer to– and I’m putting myself out there to connect with people. I’m putting the phone down. I’m in the moment. I’m open t o new experiences and new friends.
…Mostly on the internet.
Well, it’s something.