If You’re Not Angry, You’re Not Awake or Everything I’ve Learnt about Anger

Pointless wars creating unprecedented amounts of refugees, whilst fat cats get richer. Homelessness. Food Poverty. Period Poverty. Brexit. Trump. If I allow my mind to spiral, the injustices of the world make me seethe. I went through a stage of ranting at pretty much everyone I knew. My favourite line was: “if you’re not angry, you’re not awake!” Usually said after a few drinks. Much more vehemently after too many drinks.

not angry not awake

My anger was making my mental health suffer. I felt helpless and useless and pointless. Then one day, I woke up and realised my anger had put me on a fast track route to nowhereville. Instead of yelling at people, trying to recruit them to become as angry as I was, I took a different stance. Before I launch into that…

A little bit about me

Mental health has been a big part of my life forever. My step-father was bi-polar as well as an alcoholic, and I grew up living with the fallout of his highs and lows. I don’t know if she was ever officially diagnosed, but I’d hazard a guess and say that my mother was depressed for most of my upbringing. It was too easy for me to slip into the “it’s all in my genes/environment I grew up in…” rhetoric. Which I did for many years.

After I left home (at 15), it took a full decade of hardcore partying, self-destructive behaviour, depression and two mental breakdowns before hitting rock bottom. This is when I made vital changes to the way I was living my life, in order to turn it around for the long term. My self-help book Become the Best You was written for others facing similar battles. Life can be hard. Really hard. Especially when we have the all-consuming responsibility of raising children to contend with. Which is why being angry at the world simply adds no value to anything.

What I do when I don’t feel okay

It should go without saying that our kids absolutely have to come first. Because if life inside our own four walls is failing everyone miserably, it really doesn’t matter what’s going on in the wider world. We become totally unable to help anyone. Including ourselves.

not angry not awakeAs tough as it can be to carve out ‘me time’ in the midst of tending to the needs of the family, recharging our tired batteries is vital if we are to cope with every day life. As a mum, certainly in my house anyway, the things I want to do are at the very bottom of a long to-do list. It took me six and a half years of parenting before I took 24 hours off for good behaviour. That was almost three years ago, and since then I have not felt guilty – in the slightest – for the odd long lunch or weekend away with friends. A little bit of separation from our darlings does everyone the world of good. Even if it feels counter intuitive.

Self-care goes way deeper than painting my nails or taking a bubble bath. My mental health gets replenished by feeling proud of my achievements, and helping others. Time spent working on my blog or books provides a fantastic boost. In the great words of Carrie Fisher, I’ve been turning my broken heart into art.

Three projects keeping me sane

I’m working with the very talented Maddy Bennett, to turn a blog post about my daughter’s autism into a kids picture book. The book is aimed to help siblings understand their autistic sister, and we’ve had brilliant feedback on it so far.

I took on my first piece of campaign management work for a company who make beautiful personalised books. The bloggers who were involved loved Librio as much as I do, and the CEO was super happy with our efforts. Rather than being only about their bottom line, this gorgeous company have good ethics by the bucketload. They’re building a brand to be truly aspired to, and it was a privilege working with them.

My novel When the Stars Weep – which is about motherhood, mental health, love and loss – is being submitted to would-be agents and publishers. Everyone who reads this book relates in some way, and enjoys it. I keep telling myself that JK Rowling got rejected around thirty times before finding an agent who believed in Harry Potter. It will happen, I just have to have faith.

By channelling my anger into my projects, I feel like I’m being useful again. Stories have the power to bring so much comfort to others, and ultimately that’s all us writers want to do.

Other ways to be not quite so angry anymore

Back to the wider world. Homelessness and poverty are very real issues for too many (approx four million working families here in the UK are affected). Where does being angry with our shambolic government – who lets face it, don’t give a flying fuck, otherwise it wouldn’t be a problem in the first place! – get us? Back to nowhereville.

not angry not awake

Although I hate the fact that food banks and hygiene banks have to exist, at least I can afford to donate to them. Yes I’d much rather see them close down because they weren’t needed any more, but that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

In a society that’s becoming more polarised by the day, the very least we can do is recognise our privilege. I appreciate that many of us are operating at almost full capacity, and it can feel like there’s no space left for anything but our daily grind. However, I don’t think it’s healthy to seek out kindling to fuel our anger. Surely, it’s better instead to find worthy causes to get behind? I’ve created an A-Z of UK grass roots charities if you’re in need of inspiration.

I’ve watched anger get the better of good people, and slay them

It’s scary and sad how quickly people spiral. How fast it happens to me if I let it. In the three days I’ve been writing this blog I’ve had a complete crisis of confidence, and deleted all the social media apps from my phone. They’re the first thing to go when the chips are down, and I find a one week break is a great way of pressing the reset button. I learnt long ago that too much Face-agram is not good for my exhausted soul.

In order to keep my own head above water I have promised myself a few things. Instead of falling down rabbit holes writing blogs comparing #45 with Pol Pot (still in draft, probably won’t see the light of day). Or being furious about the lack of school funding for SEND kids in my area (just not worth my anger). Or trying to figure out how anyone could possibly think Brexit would be good for the economy (can. not. go. there). Or a myriad other things that boil my blood, I’m going to breathe deeply.

And remind myself again and again that anger gets us nowhere, so I can try to help in any constructive way I can.

Gut Health and Fermented Foods Course: 31st March 2019 #ad

**Disclaimer: I am co-hosting this gut health and fermented foods course, which is why I am declaring it an ad. For my full disclosure policy, click here.**

Do you have a plan to keep healthy, especially over the colder months? If the answer is no, and you know deep down your diet could do with a bit of a kick up the bum, then I think you need my top three tips.

gut health and fermented foods

Eat mostly real food

Real foods are ingredients in their natural state – fruit, veggies, meat, fish, eggs, unprocessed dairy and plenty of probiotic rich fermented food and drink (more on that in point three). A real food diet essentially means making your own meals from scratch. I understand how daunting this sounds to many, but if you want to eat your way to better health, it’s absolutely non-negotiable.

Mark Sisson, author of the Primal Blueprint and phenomenally successful website Mark’s Daily Apple, advocates eating like a saint for 80% of the time and allowing ourselves 20% leeway. I started coming away from processed food and refined sugar in 2007, went paleo in 2012, and followed the gut healing GAPS diet in 2014. Nowadays I run at around 90% awesome diet, 10% leeway. As I’m insulin resistant, because of my PCOS, this works really well for my body. Everyone is different of course, and for many people 80/20 is optimum.

Be honest about your relationship with sugar

gut health and fermented foods

I don’t have all the answers, just my own personal experience. It took me going through the GAPS Intro Diet to properly ditch my sugar cravings, and I can now go an entire week without having anything sweet. No fruit, no chocolate, no naturally sweetened puddings, nothing. If we’re entertaining, or going to friends for lunch, I’ll make dessert (such as these brownies, or this caramel slice), but I don’t feel the need to eat sweet things every day like I did prior to 2014.

None of us are able to, or are going to want to, eat perfectly, which is fine, because none of us are perfect. We do, however, have a massive problem with the way society views food in the main. We were duped, and sold the idea that fat was bad. We were told for many years that we should be eating low fat foods because they were healthy. In actual fact, they are full of sugar and sweeteners, because when you remove the fat from food you also take away most of the flavour.

Of course, now we know that sugar consumption contributes to a whole host of health problems, but largely society is addicted to the stuff. So what is the solution?

Bombard your gut with fermented foods to help the good bacteria flourish 

The only way to know exactly what we’re putting into our bodies, is by getting in the kitchen and making our own food. There is no quick fix, but the good news is we can wholeheartedly reverse the damage caused by a poor diet with a great one. The way to make it enjoyable is to get into the right frame of mind.

gut health and fermented foods

Even when we are as time poor as most of us are, there are plenty of ways to incorporate healthy food into our busy schedules. They don’t get better than home made probiotics in the form of fermented veggies, kefir and kombucha.

In her fascinating book Cultured Food for Health, Donna Schwenk talks about the incredible health benefits to be gained by adding these three fermented food and drinks to our daily diets. Working in harmony with each other, they create billions of beneficial bacteria, and help with a multitude of ailments. These include: constipation, diarrhoea, acne, acid reflux, sleep issues, liver cleansing, adrenal support, candida, inflammation and food intolerance.

Knowing where to start when it comes to gut health and fermented foods can be overwhelming. Which is why myself and my very good friend Trish have created our comprehensive one day course. By the end of the day with us you’ll have learnt how to make kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, sour cream and a sourdough bread starter. We’ll feed you a nourishing, home cooked lunch, and there will even be the chance to sample home made cider from foraged apples.

Check out the flyer below for all the info, and email us to secure your place on the course. Spaces are limited and getting booked up fast! 

gut health and fermented foods

Countdown to Christmas and Win Prizes Daily with the Fantastic Services Advent #ad

**Disclaimer: I have written this blog to advertise the Fantastic Services advent calendar as part of my brand ambassadorship. I am not being paid to write this piece, but my services are carried out by Fantastic in exchange for my honest reviews. Please click here for my full disclosure policy.**

If you like winning prizes, you’ll love the Fantastic Services Advent Calendar

Why should the kids have all the fun on the run up to Christmas? Every day between the first and twenty fourth of December, head over to Fantastic Services and click on the numbered door on the calendar, for your chance to win a prize. Best of luck!

Fantastic Services Advent

Oh Christmas tree

Fantastic have taken care of my family’s Christmas tree needs for two years in a row. I wrote an extensive review last year, but to summarise:

– Complete a simple online form, which will take you approx. 90 seconds
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Fantastic Services advent– Fantastic will deliver your tree to your home (within the M25) on the day and time slot you choose
– Fantastic can decorate your tree, if you wish
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Let Fantastic take care of your Christmas pressies this year 

Anyone who read my piece on having a more eco Christmas knows how much I abhor pointless presents. Useful and/or meaningful gifts all the way here. And they don’t get much more useful than outsourcing your chores to Fantastic. I don’t know a single person who enjoys cleaning their house, or scrubbing their oven. Especially after entertaining over the festivities.

Fantastic are so more than just a team of cleaners though. They offer everything from house removals to furniture collections and assembly, to pest control, waste removal, handyman, gardening and so much more. You’d be hard pressed not to find something they could do in order to give your loved ones a break. I’m sure you would manage to put a smile on the grumpiest of grinches faces by giving them Fantastic gift vouchers on the 25th.

Exclusive discount and contact details 

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Turns Out (For Me, Aged 39) Early Menopause is a Lot Like Early Pregnancy

I’ve been convinced for the last year or so that I’m going through early menopause. This is also known as perimenopause, and can last for years. According to the medical world, the average age for women to go through the Big M is 51. Anything between 40-60 is considered within normal range, so at 39, it would appear I’m slightly ahead of the game. Now, of course, every woman is different, but for me, early menopause symptoms have been disconcertingly similar to early pregnancy. Here’s why…

early menopauseHormones

I have been ruled by my hormones since I started going through puberty. My periods were horrendous from the off. I’m not just talking a few cramps. I would bleed heavily, and pass huge blood clots. I would have to stay home from school several days each month, and lie on the sofa with my legs elevated.

Back then (1991) the standard response for girls with troublesome monthlies was to put them on the contraceptive pill. Yes, at twelve years old. No investigation into why it was happening, or any kind of natural remedy suggestions. Just pop these pills and forget about it. There are not enough facepalm emojis for how I feel about this now.

Goodness only knows what almost fifteen years on the pill did to my body, and is it any wonder my moods were all over the place? In all three of my pregnancies I was a lot more irritable than usual in the early days. Not surprisingly, PMT has always featured, but for the last year or so, I’ve averaged three days per cycle of feeling like a stark raving lunatic.

Lack of periods and sore boobs

For some very lucky ladies, their periods stopping will be the first indication of the menopause. A friend of mine, who is 52, said the only symptom she had was not having a period. I knew I’d never be so fortunate. Having suffered with heavy bleeding for almost thirty years, I always thought their absence would be 100% welcome. However, my first missed period came with sore boobs and sent me into a proper tailspin. The irrational voice inside my head was yelling “you are way too young for the menopause, you must be pregnant,” while the sane one shook their head knowingly. My husband and I are far too careful to be accidentally making babies. Well, mostly, anyway.

Apparently periods can come and go during the peri days, and you’re not officially classed as menopausal until you’ve gone an entire year without one. During the change they can be erratic and cycles can get longer. For me, my super heavy periods haven’t been nearly as heavy. I said to a friend recently that it feels like they are drying up. When they do appear, I only properly bleed for one day. Which compared with the past – four or five days of heavy bleeding and two days of light bleeding – adds weight to my theory.

early menopause

I’m not going to lie, a completely absent period is nerve wracking at my age. Why is it akin to early pregnancy? Well, there is a urine test you can do to measure your hormone levels. After you’ve peed on a stick, you can confirm the results with a blood test via the GP. Sound familiar, mamas?

Other noticeable symptoms

There is a huge list of symptoms and body changes that could be accounted for because you’re going through early menopause. Among which are: hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, lack of libido, mood swings, anxiety, abdominal weight gain and needing the loo more often. These are all things I have been going through intermittently this past year, but also ticked all the boxes between my three pregnancies.

Pretty much the same health advice applies to the menopause as other conditions which affect our mental health. Don’t drink too much. Exercise regularly. Eat sensibly – avoiding refined sugar and processed food as much as possible. Thankfully I have been avoiding these things for many years, so I’m hoping this is helping my cause. You can check out my paleo recipes here if you like.

There are also various supplements which are recommended. I wrote a piece recently about naturally lowering cortisol, which you might find useful. For a more comprehensive piece about alleviating symptoms the natural way, check out this brilliant post from Dr. Axe.

early menopauseFuture gazing

I believe living with chronic stress has triggered early menopause for me, so it probably doesn’t come as a shock to hear that all these changes have put me in a reflective mood. Prior to having children, I said I’d have two or four. Kids in odd numbers just felt like a bad idea. After having three kids in four years though, I knew I was done having babies. Every now and then I’ve pondered the what ifs, but ultimately I am confident that more children in this particular family would be a terrible idea.

So I’ve come to three conclusions of late

  1. Davis number four will wholeheartedly be a fur baby.
  2. I refuse point blank to be scared of the menopause. In fact my current frame of mind is very similar to being told I was infertile at 27. I don’t take this shit lying down, trust me.
  3. I’m ready for the big M. It’s rather apt that it’s come early for me, as so much else in my life has. I certainly will not be missing my periods, and who knows, I might even fare up better hormonally after it’s all over? Stranger things have happened I guess.

Are you going through or have been through early menopause? Do you have any pearls of wisdom to pass on? I’m opening up comments on this page for anyone wishing to leave one. Big hugs ladies, let’s keep the conversation going! 

The Poverty Bandwagon

There’s a lot of noise being made about people jumping on the so-called poverty bandwagon. Apparently lots of highly successful, super affluent people had a tough start to life. Apparently they experienced poverty. Apparently they know the pain associated with the breadline. I say apparently because I am not them and cannot make comments on their lives. I can only talk about my own experiences and views on the world.

Poverty is no joke, and is all too real for too many. According to leading charities, 14 million people live in poverty in the UK. That’s approx. one in five of the population, which is made up of eight million working-age adults, four million children and two million pensioners. Eight million families living in poverty, where at least one person is in work. Think about that for one minute.

If you search #poverty on Instagram you’ll find over half a million posts. I honestly don’t have the words to articulate how I feel about this, but perhaps that’s part of the problem? Can everything in life really be summed up with a catchy, SEO optimised, Google friendly hashtag?

poverty bandwagon

Poverty and dysfunction don’t have to go hand in hand

I have spoken about my dysfunctional upbringing since my very first blog post on here in 2013. I never talk about my childhood to jump on the poverty bandwagon, or stay relevant. I talk about it because it still affects my day to day now. I do not know a single person, not one, who escaped a traumatic childhood without war wounds. How deep the scars run varies, but no-one gets away scot-free.

We can stick our broken pieces back together. We can have all the counselling in the world. We can write until we own the word catharsis. We can do everything in our power to break self-destructive behaviour cycles. Ultimately though, whether we like it or not, our past is a part of us. Making peace with it will help us heal, but it won’t erase the memories of it.

Dysfunction stems from not dealing with our demons and allowing them to overtake our lives. Dysfunction occurs regardless of the size of our bank accounts. None of us are immune to negative cycles turning into serious dysfunction. It’s up to us all to be self-aware enough to either stop things spiralling out of control, or admit when things have spiralled and seeking help.

Some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve had the privilege to know throughout the years have been dirt poor. Poverty doesn’t stop you from being a good, kind hearted person. Just as money doesn’t stop others from being mean spirited and unkind. We all have a moral compass and can choose to tune in or out to it.

Poverty certainly doesn’t stop us from being the best parents who ever walked the planet. Love is free of charge, after all.

poverty bandwagon

Lack of financial wellness

In April 2008 I had to declare bankruptcy. At the time it was a truly horrendous experience – degrading, humiliating and soul destroying. However, it forced me to take a long hard look at my relationship with money. Toxic doesn’t come close. No-one had ever taught me about financial wellness. I had zero idea of the impact on my mental health that being in debt from the day I could legally have a credit card would have.

Had I not gone bankrupt I might still have ridiculous and snobby views on buying things second hand. These days pretty much everything I buy comes from charity shops or selling sites. I’m not ashamed for my kids to wear clothes that have been kindly passed on to them, and they love knowing their friends wore it before them.

When I was a kid we had loan sharks who preyed on those with little cash to lend small amounts of money at extortionate rates. Nowadays they are on almost every high street in the form of pay day loans. I’ve often wondered how many are being kept in poverty because of them. That’s a whole other blog post though.

poverty bandwagon

Poverty is not glamorous 

Whilst I have never experienced living poverty as a parent, living through it as a child was very valid. Yes it was a different era, but no electricity or food in the cupboards on a regular basis was pretty tough going. Sleeping on floors at fifteen years old. Being exploited working underage. Having dirty old men ply me with booze and try to take advantage of me every week. Do I honestly think these things would have happened if I’d come from a “nice and wholesome” middle classed family? I doubt it very much indeed.

Right now, today, I live a comfortable life. I don’t have to stress about where my next £10 is coming from. Whose to say this will always be the case, though? I am all too aware that falling into poverty could happen to most of us. I’m not setting up a hashtag, or going on a crusade, but I will continue to donate to women’s refuges and food banks and hygiene banks. I’ll still take food to homeless people and carry on trying to help in any way I can. Be it spreading the word on social media about a crisis campaign or not buying Christmas presents and donating what I would have spent.

Great things can happen when people put their heads together

Scotland recently announced they would make sanitary products available for all students, let’s hope the rest of the UK follows suit. This incredible initiative would have never happened if girls and women had stayed silent about their situation, and carried on putting up and shutting up month after month.

There are success stories all over the internet. Of people who experienced temporary poverty and turned to their local community for support. When communities help their own, it builds lasting foundations. It helps get to the root cause of problems, so cycles can be broken.

There are some absolutely amazing people making noise for those less fortunate, in a non-patronising, non-IG filtered way. If you honestly want to help, start by opening your eyes, and taking a proper look. This A-Z guide of grass roots charities is a great place to start.

If you want to do something good, don’t jump on the poverty bandwagon with second hand stories and tenuous links. It pisses people off, and takes away from the truly needy. If everyone has had it “really really hard”, then how do we know who genuinely has?

**many thanks to Unsplash.com for the gorgeous, copyright free, free to download photos**

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