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10:32 a.m. - 2018-06-14
Nuts About You
So I caught two of the three squirrels that have been terrorising my roof terrace, destroying all my plants and just generally treating it as their playground/pig sty. They lived in my neighbour's roof and caused a ruckus, so he's grateful to not have to call pest control.

But I feel like a monster. The second one made these horrible noises and bloodied it's mouth trying to escape the cage.

I used a humane cage, I released them pretty much as soon as I caught them, in the beautiful moors, where they'll have plenty of food, protection from the rangers, and be together, out of the city. But still, I feel like such a monster.

I just want to catch this last one (even though I actually don't want to catch it at this point because I feel so bad about it) just so I can reunite it with it's family.

I dreamt there were baby squirrels who ate my quail eggs and I put them in a Tupperware pot with holes in. I need to get these damn squirrels off my mind.

11:49 p.m. - 2018-06-07
Anxiety
It’s an entirely strange thing, to recognise you’re anxious, recognise there’s no real reason to feel this way, but still feel a paralysing sense of anxiety nonetheless. Sometimes my brain enjoys arguing with itself.

10:53 a.m. - 2018-05-31
Energise Me, Please
One of the biggest things I have to battle against now is my energy levels. My mind is still as sharp as anything, and it's always whirring away in the background during mundane tasks - working out how I'm going to get things done that need doing, day dreaming about things I'd like to try, or simply figuring out where next to go with my writing.

But, between working near full time hours, keeping up with the Etsy shop and chores, gym classes three times a week, and writing every day, my body is feeling punished.

In the scheme of things, this isn't anything more than most people have to deal with, and significantly less than some, but between university, part time work, and then travelling, my body got used to doing things a certain kind of way - pretty much whatever it liked, whenever it liked, and at a very slow pace - for the last six years.

It's going to take some getting used to.

A few months back, (more like six) I was feeling so lethargic I went to the doctors, and it turned out I had iron-deficiency anaemia. Multiple surgeries + heavy periods + frequent blood donations. Three months of iron pills later and I felt golden. But now I'm feeling it again, and mostly I just want to curl up on my bed and nap all day.

I could go to the doctors, but I could also just buy some iron pills and save myself the trip. Guess which one I'm leaning towards.

In other news, diary, even though I'm at that stage of writing where I'm struggling a little and wanting to listen to that little voice that says, 'you can do it later,' I'm powering through. I'm going to make this story my bitch, I say to myself instead. Imagine maniacal laughter afterwards, if you like. I sometimes do.

8:05 p.m. - 2018-05-27
May is my new favourite month!
For ages I thought I'd forgotten the password for this account and then today, all of a sudden, it popped right back into my head. Kismet. I'm in the mood to write.

Life feels...good. Things have a way of working out - that's something I've always believed in, no matter how shitty my mood, or how rubbish my situation at the time, I always believe things will work out okay. And this has held true for the past six months or so. So true, I feel like, even if some things aren't exactly perfect (I mean, what is perfect anyway?), everything feels like it's slotting into the right pieces in my puzzle board.

It started small, maybe around October time last year, just one thing at a time and everything started to look better. I started taking medications to help with my moods, began managing to keep on top of chores for the first time in forever, and stopped letting things get to me unnecessarily, which usually resulted in me falling out with others and instead meant I started repairing relationships that had become frail.

I had an amazing birthday and Christmas - really got out and enjoyed myself, relaxed and had pure, simple family style fun. An escape room, bowling, a board game cafe and cards against humanity. A smorgasbord of amazing presents. It was probably the best Birthmas I can remember. I even had a pretty cool, low-key new years - spent with my brother, his girlfriend and his roommate at the sea front, watching the fireworks over the harbour with Moldovan champagne and a roasted marshmallow kit. I had no regrets - something that's so precious you don't even know.

Then after the new year I moved house (again) to an apartment owned by my brother, above the one he lives in. The area's not great, and I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I do, but I've really made it a home. I even have a beautiful roof terrace filled with plants - painted green, and with a swinging chair I love. I love being in the city centre, being able to walk to the shops or for coffee, or even the seafront. And I love having my brother downstairs, for Westworld marathons, his handy man skills, gossip sessions and BBQs.

Then there was finally getting a new job - it's boring, repetitive, and the pay is not great. But on the flip side - everyone I work with is great - everyone. It's a seriously reputable company (NHS), I have a pension again, and the pay, while not great, is enough to live by. I work evenings (no early mornings) and always have weekends off! I can wear whatever I like, listen to music (or audiobooks, as the case has been lately - I've discovered a passion for interesting non-fiction), and my higher brain function can be strictly devoted to other things - like my writing.

I've been reading books again, by the truck load, and tackling tasks I've been meaning to for a long time (years in some cases) and actually finishing them! Scrap booking - crafting - clearing the place out and selling everything on - catching up on TV shows and movies - got my magpies tattoo - a ton of inane things I've always put on the back burner, always allowed to leak onto my todo lists, and then taken off in sheer hopelessness at getting myself to do them. Only now they're off the todo lists because I've finished them.

My candle making business does alright too, and I'm proud of it. Keeping it simple, and making a little extra.

Now, I'm taking body balance classes at the gym twice a week, and swimming once. I go to the movies next door when the mood strikes. I'm eating a lot better than before, and switching to decaf multiple times a day so I don't have a caffeine overload.

I wear brightly coloured clothes - sometimes I know I look beyond quirky, but it feels so fun to pick out my outfit every morning. I voluntarily wake up early, and spend time getting things done.

I have some more travel booked - Prague in October, Tallinn and Helsinki in March/April. I realised there's so much of the world still left to see, even if it's on a budget for the moment.

I'm writing my fanfiction again - only a few more chapters before it's finished, and I'm excited to start my next writing project. Really, genuinely excited.

So, yeah, life feels pretty good. And it's going to stay that way, because I'm changed. I'm changed, and I'll probably keep changing, things will always change, but I won't be changing back.

1:47 p.m. - 2017-11-04
Writing Again
It feels like too much time has passed since I wrote in here. Like I'm a different person, living a different life and I don't even know where to begin.

Like everything has happened, and at the same time, nothing has happened at all.

I had some amazing travelling experiences. So many of them. And I've learnt a lot about myself and what makes me happy...and what doesn't make me happy. I've learnt a lot about the world, and people, and life.

I'm in this place now, where I'm sort of happy with how things are, but sort of unhappy. Lots of sort ofs.

The point is that I'm working on changing the things that don't make me happy...maybe for real, for the first time in my life. But everything takes time, and patience, and optimism.

So, the first step is writing again. Here. To myself. On blank word documents and post it notes. In notebooks and on list pads.

Just writing. And seeing where that takes me.

3:33 p.m. - 2016-04-09
Travel Bug
I've been travelling for a little over a month now. Some days I feel like stopping; I feel a little tired, or a little homesick for the comfort of my cable knit blanket or fluffy dressing gown and the rain sprinkled sunshine I know is around every corner in Spring. But when I think about going home, really put myself there, I get this uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Dread.

I've never dreaded the idea of being in England so much. I have no logical reason to dread it. But just the thought of going back, whatever my situation, makes me feel like a cat that got stuck in a tree during a lightning storm and nobody thought to bring her down.

Travelling doesn't erase my bad or moody days - the days where I want to curl up under the duvet with a good book and a cup of tea and pretend I'm a hermit. No - they still happen, and I accept them. That's just another facet of my personality. I have always sought ways to isolate myself, and then rushed to socialise like a starving bear at a camp site. It's a cycle.

But it does somewhat lessen their occurrence.

I've seen more places, done more things in the past month than I had in the previous twelve combined. Probably longer than that. I've also been more self-reliant, more confident, and surprisingly, so much more at peace.

That's what travelling does for me - it calms me and inspires me. It shows me alternative paths, and opens up my mind to the possibilities. I feel like if I was any more laid back I'd be permanently horizontal. And not in a perverted way people.

It's funny what you come to learn about yourself when you're alone for huge tracts of time. It's taken me 29 years, but I finally realised how brave I can be. A couple of friends called me ballsy for setting off on my own - but I know a lot of people do it, so it didn't seem all that brave to me. But it is - it takes courage to pursue your own wants and needs, and especially to do them alone, unguided, with no security for the future, and no one to lean on. I'm brave, and I like it.

In other news:

I've lost 49 lbs now. It felt great to hit my 1/3 way mark and keep on going. I try not to think about any of it too much (for me, obsession can be a dangerous thing) - I get the scales out once a week, I swim whenever I can and I eat mostly low fat protein when I'm hungry. When I eventually stall, I'll try to keep the attitude positive and work my way through it. Because being this weight might not be what I want, but it feels a damn sight better than what I was.

Mum has decided to spontaneously come out to the US and meet me. I'm actually really looking forward to some mother-daughter time. Though, that might change if the lectures about what I'm doing with my life start up again. When I leave Cody I've got to drive to Bozeman to pick her up - we're staying in a cabin by Yellowstone for a week before slowly heading back to Seattle - through an alpaca farm in Idaho, just because.

I've been planning some more travel too. I kind of want to sit down and map it all out properly, but travel planning is so time consuming. For now, I'm definitely going to Sicily for a few weeks in the sun, about 12 days after I get back. Then from there I go straight to Ireland for a little 8 day GoT themed road trip. And then on to a 2 week tour of Costa Rica. Sloths - I just want to see as many sloths as a person can!

And...I've finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a year long round the world flight ticket, and get the working holiday visas for NZ and Australia. I'm not as opposed to working a menial job if it means I'm somewhere exotic, so to speak.

I do wonder though, if I'll be ready to go home by the time the year's up...

2:53 a.m. - 2016-03-08
Canada's barren lands? Don't tell me I'm flying over those!
I'm writing this 36,000 feet above the ground as I hurtle into space. Okay, not really - I'm on a plane flying somewhere over the Atlantic or Greenland or whatever ice-bound land we cross on this long-ass hop across the pond to Seattle. It's been three and a half years since I've been to America so I'm a little excited – I've rather missed England’s bigger, friendlier and slightly eccentric, younger cousin.

But more on that later. First up – as of last Tuesday I've lost 33 lbs! It's been seven weeks since the operation tomorrow, and everything seems to be going great. I can pretty much eat anything, though I try to stay away from a lot of starchy stuff because it makes me feel bloated after a few bites, and I up my protein intake whenever I can. My portion size is smaller than child size (think half a starter plate or three/four snack sushi rolls), and I struggle to eat the three meals a day I'm supposed to, but I'm getting there. Breakfast is a bugger ‘cause I'm just not hungry until lunch time and if I have a coffee it fills my belly. I'm finding it fairly easy to make healthy choices though, and not feeling at all deprived. Go me!

I swim three times a week now too, and I can definitely feel it making a difference. Bonus - I've gone down two clothes sizes so I got to take a whole new wardrobe away with me. My boobs look so much better now – how vain is that? But I'm serious – I keep looking at parts of my body that are starting to change and it makes me grin. Like my collar bones. I love my collar bones.

In other news – I can see! 20/20 vision unaided for the first time ever. I still nudge non existent glasses up my nose, but I'm working on that. The whole lasering of my eyes was a quick and peculiar process. Pressure, which was horrible, seeing the flap of my eye move across my vision like a wave, which was freaky, the smell of burning mushrooms (not sure if this is a projection of my hatred of mushrooms on the situation) and then uncontrollable tears. A few hours later I was as right as rain.

And in the spirit of this whole changing my life for the better vibe I've got going on, I got my eyebrows permanent makeup tattooed, so I now adore my non-patchy, pretty eyebrows. And I got a fringe for the first time in my life (bangs if you're American) which at first everyone was so dubious about, even the hairdresser (though I'm sure I've already mentioned it [very hair proud here] I have extremely curly hair and this is a curly fringe) but damn, I love it. Everyone loves it. And it's nice to have another sign that I'm changing, feeling a little more like my old self…or my new self.

So two surgeries and two cosmetic procedures (ish) down and I'm not regretting anything.

But really, there's nothing else for me to do but keep doing what I'm doing – keep working at getting healthier and fitter, and keep enjoying the side benefits as they reveal themselves (like having lots of excess belt on my airplane buckle!) And also, keep working on increasing my self confidence and pride – my new online therapist is helping me with that. She's totes cool. Like an American version of my mum at times, but nicer.

All my belongings are packed away in storage. Before I left I completed everything on my todo list – I got myself so organised it should be my middle name. Maybe it is. I even discovered my credit score has risen and I was able to open this awesome gold account with free usage abroad – can you say confidence boost or what? For so long I had money issues – tons of niggling debts and had to keep finding ways to do what I wanted or get what I needed by cutting corners (not in the illegal sense). But now I'm debt free, I have everything I need, and a strong bank balance to support me at this transformative stage in my life. I don't just feel debt free. I feel free.

And here I am, flying to the US for three months to do whatever the hell I feel like. I'm not planning each day - I'm just going to live and love every day and see where it takes me. I'm thinking of it as living my life mostly as normal, but in a strange place so the options of what I do with my time are vastly different and more appealing!

Which now gives me time and space to focus on writing again. Please, please find a way to focus on writing again, Rach!

10:58 p.m. - 2016-01-27
My Milk
I’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits of taking a leap of faith (not in the religious-y sense, as while I respect that, I don’t roll that way). And surgery (as you do). Bariatric surgery was my leap of faith - probably shallow, but true – my, ‘If I do this there’s no guarantee it will work, it might make me even more unhappy, it could wreck my life yada-yada-yada, but if I don’t at least try it then I’ll never really know, will I?’ conundrum. So essentially, I’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits of having had surgery, now that the surgical part is all over and done with (at least for my poor, bruised stomach – I’m pretending my eye laser surgery happens minus the laser part). But apparently not the hard part – my surgeon delighted in telling me he’d got me through the easy part and now I was in for the hard slog at home.

He didn’t mean physically of course (though a time will come when my weight loss peters out, no matter how healthily I’m eating and what exercise I’m doing, then it will be uber hard) – the three nights I spent in hospital were the worst there. Mostly delirious days filled with pain killers, injections – in my shoulder, my leg, my stomach, you name it (thankfully I am not needle shy) – lots of anti sickness meds, quite a bit of dry heaving, and only being able to stomach small sips of milk. Oh and sleepily watching E4 – I barely remember what was on, but I think The Goldbergs and Melissa and Joey were a pretty big feature. Fond memories.

Now I’m at the end of the eighth day of my ‘liquids only’ fortnight – discovering that creamy soup makes me feel sick, the vegetable drink I bought trying to be good makes me feel even sicker, and the only things that seem remotely appetising are milk, milkshakes, protein shakes, yogurt drinks, very milky coffee and some fruit juices. Oh, and beef broth seems to satisfy my lunch time craving for something savoury. The best thing I’ve found? Yoplait’s Petit filous strawberry-banana yogurt drinks – they even have Minions on the bottle, which makes me happier than it should.

But for the most part it hasn’t been too bad (nobody who has found the post-surgery period extremely tough strike me down for that) – I’m not hungry in the same way I was before. I get a little stomach rumbling, but no sick-y feeling in my throat. And when I do get that strange heart burn/stomach pain hunger feeling every hour or so, I slowly sip on a little cup of liquid and I’m golden. I am having dreams about mashed potato though. Mashed potato and gravy and chicken and veg all blended together. Mashed potato and cheesy beans and veg. Mashed potato and tuna and veg. Scrambled eggs. Rice pudding. Mashed banana and custard. Ocean pie. Semolina. Actual yogurt.

Can you tell the transition from liquid to blended diet is going to be the highlight of my year? If not, then my tone hasn’t been conveyed strongly enough. MASHED POTATO.

I have a plethora of meds to take still – including codeine which makes my head all fuzzy but stops my stomach hurting (like AT ALL – though I’m not willing to test this theory by poking myself). I’ve been weaning myself off them the past few days in an effort to be a bit more ‘with it’. And in a few days I’ll be able to drive my car again (secretly I’m going to try tomorrow) – I really wanna go see The Fifth Wave so the cinema will probably be my first stop, even though that’s pretty lame. I don’t have the energy to do much really, which isn’t all that surprising.

I definitely think it’s a case by case thing, this type of surgery. All types, probably – but what do I know?! My friend who had the same procedure approximately 13 months ago spent two weeks basically sleeping and sipping water. She was like an invalid. She also told me she didn’t exercise until the eleventh month (wtf – I will NOT be doing that). But she’s lost nearly 11 stone. I knew it would be different for her – not to be unkind, but she was a lot unhealthier than me, and she has more to lose. If I lost 11 stone, I’d be under weight for my height (being tall has benefits, ya’ll).
Bravo to her though, for getting herself to where she’s at. For anyone reading this thinking I’m under some illusion that the next year will be easy on me, I’m totally not. But I’m actually a pretty resilient and positive person. Capricorns are supposed to be pessimistic – I never got the memo. I can always see a way through my problems, even when I’m feeling cack and being a whiny bitch.

And having surgery has in some ways already increased my confidence, as strange as that is. Aside from the fact I’ve lost 15 lbs since 6th January (which in itself makes me very happy), I never envisioned I’d be so…okay with doing this thing. So level headed about it. I’ve always been quite a capable person, but right now I feel like I could do anything (not literally – I don’t know how to shoot a gun or dance a waltz, but I’d probably give both a go). But this was a big step in a good direction and I’m getting through it better than I thought I could. More importantly, I feel like for the first time in a year or so I have a purpose. Something tangible to concentrate on for the foreseeable future (and something to tell people when they piss me off by asking questions).

I’m one of those people who dreads the kind of casual questions people always give – the ‘what are you doing with your life right now? What are you up to?’ sort, that seem so harmless on the surface but when answered honestly can be embarrassing or complex or tiresome. My answer is always a little contrived, because the truth is one of those things most people get uncomfortable about. Hell, they make me uncomfortable about it and I’m following a dream here.

I say I do freelance proofreading (which I do, when I feel like it). Saying I’m trying (and dying) to be a novelist, and no I haven’t started writing yet because I’m still getting my head around all the research (and hell no, I don’t want to have to explain every facet of the plot to you– and I definitely don’t want to know about your second cousin who’s writing a novel right this second either) is HARD. On top of that, saying I’ve sold my gorgeous, newly decorated apartment so I can fund doing the things I’ve always wanted to do in order to change my life for the better and be happy – like having bariatric surgery, eye laser surgery and travelling the world (whilst, yes I do realise the housing market is really tough these days and I’m damn lucky, but you know, having a house doesn’t make EVERYONE happy). Well, I’m not immune to those ‘wtf’ looks, you know?

People can be exhausting. At least for the moment, my family and friends are satisfied with the fact I’m concentrating on getting healthy and being happy, even if my kind of happiness makes them worry about the purse strings and whisper phrases like, ‘not being realistic’ and ‘unemployed’ and ‘we just worry’ and best of all, ‘living in a fantasy world’ – (my fantasy world would have better mashable food, just saying).

Though, on the flip side, it’s also brought around some strange and funny conversations. Like this one with B after I explained the whole procedure back to front.

B: “So how are you staying motivated?”

Moi: “What do you mean?”

B: “Well, I’d want to eat solid food, and talking about things that I’m finding hard usually helps. So do you talk about it with someone?”

Moi: “I just told you I can’t eat solid food because I could perforate my newly healing stomach that’s full of stitches – I don’t need to talk to someone about it, I just don’t do it.”

B: “Yeah, so how are you staying motivated for that?”

Moi: “I COULD PERFORATE MY STOMACH.”

I don’t know if it was my explanation that got her, or if the idea of not eating solid food just confounds people. It was a little like a phone convo with my Grams post op.

G: “So how long can’t you eat for?”

Moi: “Properly? Six weeks. Liquid diet for 2 weeks, blended/mashable for another 4.”

G: “What? You can’t eat solid food for six weeks?”

Moi: “Yup.”

G: “And you can only have liquid for the next two weeks.”

Moi: *eye roll* “Like I said.”

G: “Surely you can have a bit of porridge?”

Moi: *silence* “I don’t know what kind of porridge you’ve been eating, but the kind I have is NOT LIQUID.”

An even better one was our discussion about my incisions a few days ago.

G: “How many incisions do you have then?”

Moi: “Only four – they’re pretty small too. I don’t think they’ll scar very badly.”

G: “Oh yes, the skin’s very elastic you know. Take the vagina – women have babies all the time and the skin has to stretch for them, and then it goes back to relatively the same.”

Thanks, Grams. I definitely wanted to be talking to an eighty-year-old about stretchy vaginas, as if I wasn’t already well-aware of what happens when a woman gives birth naturally *shudders*.

This is me for now – to anyone who reads this, I hope I haven’t put you off your food! Ha-ha.

10:50 a.m. - 2015-12-16
Late to the party again.
I should have been born 29 years ago today, but in my usual fashion I was late for the party. Eight days late.

Every time Christmas approaches I get ridiculously happy - I also get a little crazy. My tree looks like a rainbow threw up on it, though I happen to like my style. My cards all went off two weeks ago, including silly hand drawn pictures or messages. My presents are all wrapped and under the tree...all ribbons and bows after hours and hours of excited shopping...and I may have gone a little overboard In the gift buying department.

Hogfather is all cued up to watch. Crackers are waiting to go to my mums. Christmas jumper languishing on its hanger.

I'm also sending a secret box of happiness to Howie. I don't even know how to express how happy it makes me that we're back in touch, but I couldn't resist the idea of making him smile.

I've been trying to do a lot more of that lately - smile. Think positively. Look at the bright side. Make the most of things. Try and make other people smile. Used to sound like the irritating drivel of overly happy people to me, but I'm finding it in my own way.

Like the fact Lewis won't be around this Christmas. Usually I'd let that weigh on me for a long time before reluctantly accepting it and having that shadow of missing someone throughout the holidays. Feeling like it was second rate because I couldn't share it with them. This time it feels okay - the world doesn't stop turning because it's Christmas Day. He's got to work and he doesn't care about it, so neither should I.

I'm coming to realise that Christmas is what you make of it. So if I want it to be magical, I just have to make it that way. The same goes with my birthday - I need to stop bemoaning the things that disappoint me, the inevitable forgetfulness of loved ones because it's just too close to Christmas, and just make it what I want it to be. I've always loved having a Christmas Eve birthday, especially as a child, and being disappointed for such petty reasons means I spoil my day for myself.

Only one more year in my twenties. I'm going to be celebrating the fact and the hope that it's going to be a transformative year.

Strangely enough, this month has been about more reunions than the one with Howie. I finally got in touch with Lorna again - and it's a little ridiculous how much weight was lifted off my shoulders afterwards. I'd been under the illusion that she might hate me, be glad we haven't spoken and feel ever so thankful that the last remnant of Daniel's paternal family was off her radar. But I should have known better really - she's still the kindest and nicest person I've met and instead of it feeling tense and awkward, it was great. I can't believe my littlest brother is eight though - where the hell does the time go?

I also finally, finally paid Jamie back the money I owed him from college. Not even sure why it took me this long - possibly because he sometimes (read 90% of the time) drives me nuts with all the God babble (like when I asked for his address to send the cheque, how he felt the need to tell me that I shouldn't have my tree up yet and launched into a religious spiel - seriously, feck off, you know I'm an atheist). But it's done now, and I can stop feeling guilty about it.

Guilt is such a wasted emotion. Half the time I'm not even aware of why I feel guilty, I just do. But it's nice to clear away some of that anxiety. It seems to me that the only way to rid myself of it is to figure out the problem and fix it. Sounds simple, right? Not always. But I'll get there.

Anywho, for anyone who actually reads this, Merry Crimbo! I'm going to make more of a concerted effort to get my thoughts down on this digital paper, so I may even be back before the big day, but if not - I hope everyone has the kind of day that warms your heart!

 

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