Stories

I wrote a little something for The Huffington Post about my new found love of lemon curd. Lovely gorgeous lemon curd and my journey through picky eating to find it.

I never liked lemon curd when I was little, though the truth is I had never tried it. I was yet to discover the joys of tuna, brown sauce, green beans, mayonnaise, tomatoes, cold custard and spaghetti carbonara simply because I had decided I didn’t like the look of them. Besides, my little sister had decided she loved lemon curd and so the family foods were allocated. She would always have lemon curd and I would have Bovril. My Bovril later became Marmite as it was decided our household should “give up” Bovril for health purposes. The theory behind this I’m still not clear on.

xxox

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On and off for the last 10 years I have suffered with anxiety, which sounds fun doesn’t it?! I’ve actually only recently realised that it’s been that long, because for most of that I was walking around, going to work, getting on saying everything was fine when actually it wasn’t, it was a bit crap. To be clear, it wasn’t dreadful all day every day. I could go for weeks or months feeling alright and then it would creep up on me, seemingly out of nowhere and take over. 

I have had days where I have been shaking and felt sick with anxiety. I have cried in the toilets on trains and at work with it. A lot of the time I was holding it together as “fun, happy Sarah” whilst my mind was full of bad chat. I told myself I was rubbish and looked at everyone else being carefree and just getting on with it and wished I could be as good as them.

I would leave conversations with people I love thinking, “I’ve behaved so oddly they’ve probably changed their mind about hanging out with me.” I would meet new people and the sirens in my mind would go off that I was being weird and not myself and these people would know that and think I was ridiculous. Simple decisions became really tough. Deciding where to sit in a restaurant would be totally daunting and I was once found screwed up in a ball because deciding what to wear was too much. 

While one side of my mind was going through this, the other side would argue back “what did you have to complain about? Your life is amazing! How can you have the right to say you’re scared and you’re struggling?” which was remarkably unhelpful and made everything worse. The whole thing would repeat over and over and it became completely exhausting and very very boring. I was done with it and bored beyond belief with being rubbish. 

I never wanted to tell anyone about my anxiety because they might think I was a bit heavy or moany or ironically, boring. So I thought, “I’ll wait until I’m fixed and can be carefree and happy and normal all the time!” Turns out, this doesn’t exist. So I decided to stop trying to fight it and started to address it. I spoke to people about it. I told the people I loved about it and explained it. I found meditation and though it will always have to be managed, I’m now in control of it and not the other way round.

Writing this now I still feel guilty and tell myself there are people in a much worse position than me, people with “legitimate” reasons for their mental health conditions. But the truth is, it’s ok to say I’m not ok. If you feel scared for no reason or there’s a voice that’s telling you you’re rubbish and everyone else is fine or better, I want to tell you, you are enough. You are SO enough and you don’t have to live with feeling crap. 

xxoxo

I am THRILLED, delighted, honoured, chuffed and made up to help announce The Smile Challenge with Tetley.

As you know I’m part woman part tea, so the opportunity to work with Tetley is divine. They have got together with Smile Train, who are an amazing international charity that provide completely free cleft repair surgery and after care to children in developing countries.  Children with clefts often have trouble eating and speaking and can’t go to school or get a job because of it. An operation to fix it take about 45 minutes, costs around £150 and absolutely transforms that child’s life. They literally create smiles, it’s amazing work.

So The Smile Challenge is that you and I watch hilarious videos on a special website created by Tetley. It has some ridiculously clever digital software that watches your face and knows every time you smile (SO clever) Your smiles add to the totaliser (LOVE a totaliser) and Tetley are going to donate money as it goes up. The goal is to get to 1 million smiles.

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Even more clever is that there’s loads of playlists and the “realtime face and emotion tracking software” (incredible) knows if you’re not feeling one video in particular so offers you another one. If you’re not into wedding fails it might give you cute animals singing. This is an IDEAL tea break activity, especially if you know someone who’s feeling meh and needs to smile.

The two best things in the world are tea and laughing, and that’s a fact. If you’ve got a brew and someone makes you laugh it can change your day, I actually think on occasion it’s changed my life. So get on the website, match your face up with the super clever face finder thing and have some laughs. There’s also special packs of Tetley Everyday in the shops. Tea and laughing, I’m in love with it.

xxox

So it was A Level Results this week and if you’re feeling like it was all rubbish and you don’t know if you want to go out tonight let alone go to university I have written a little something about what it was like to get my (awful) results and what a bloody dreadful time it can be. The good news is it will be FINE. Everything will work out because it always does.

I was honoured when We Are The City asked asked me about my experiences of university and getting my results. They are a website and community which supports women in their careers and their site is full of incredible stories and interviews with amazing women and covers loads of different jobs.

Here’s a little bit of my piece with them and you can read the whole thing right here love.

The day I got my A-Level results was bloody awful. I was the first year that they had changed from good old fashioned A-Levels to new fancy A2s and no one really knew what to expect. I got my worst case scenario and walked past happy girls posing for photos with their envelopes for the local paper. My conditional offer from Warwick was out of the question and I was put firmly in the direction of clearing.

I promise you everything will work out and will be glorious lovely, hang in there xxox

We went for lunch on Saturday and as soon as I sat down and dived into the bread basket, I said to June “did you hear The Archers last night?!” June hadn’t heard it so I had the excitement of explaining that Helen had finally told Anna The Lawyer, the truth about what happened the night Rob got stabbed. My brother George, who’s never shown any interest in The Archers before now, saw my excitement and said “what’s all this then?”

If you don’t listen to The Archers basically Helen has been in an abusive relationship for over two years with Rob. Evil Rob. Over that time we have heard him slowly taking over every aspect of her life. He started controlling what she wore and how she looked. He stopped her driving and stopped her seeing most of her friends. He knocked her confidence to the point where she was too nervous to make decisions. Though he has slapped her once, he’s not continuously physically abusive towards her. It’s more subtle and controlling behaviour, the sort of thing that is harder to explain but terrifying. In fact the law now recognises this as “coercive control.” The Cedar Network defines it as “a pattern of behaviour which seeks to take away the victim’s liberty or freedom, to strip away their sense of self.”

So after lots of shouting at the radio and the intervention of Helen’s friend Kirsty, Helen was going to leave Rob. We were so pleased. But on the night she told him he turned on her, put a knife in her hand and said the only way they wouldn’t be together, is if she killed herself. He said “You’re nothing without me Helen. Nothing.” Bloody awful. It was at this point that Helen’s 6 year old son Henry, ran in. He was scared of the shouting and Rob went for him. To defend Henry and herself, Helen stabbed Rob twice and also cut his wrist. She was arrested, has been in custody for five months and the trial started on Radio 4 last night.

It’s been a massive storyline for we who love The Archers, but it’s become part of something much bigger. Helen has become a poster girl for this kind of abuse and Polly Neate, who is the chief executive of the charity Women’s Aid, says “From February last year to February this year we saw a 20% increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which we think is in part down to the ‘Archers’ effect’.” As it says on The Helen Archer Rescue Fund page, “For every fictional Helen, there are real ones.”  People have been tweeting pictures of them having a cup of tea with the hashtag #solidaritea. It’s the show solidarity with Helen and other victims of domestic abuse.

One brilliant listener, Paul Trueman has set up a Just Giving page for The Helen Titchener (nee Archer) Rescue Fund, with money going to Refuge. It’s currently at £135,000 and has the most amazing comments from donors. They are also selling “Free the Blossom Hill One” tshirts, tea towels and tote bags. Blossom Hill is the cottage where Helen lives and who doesn’t love a new tea towel?!

If you don’t listen to The Archers this is the IDEAL time to get into it. The trial will be incredible and it’s just generally brilliant anyway. It’s on every night at 7pm, apart from Saturdays (when they’re all out on the razz) or you can listen like I do on the podcast while you brush your teeth.

xxox