Keep your head up, keep your heart strong ❤

One of my favourite songs and a big dog walk is what was needed today. Heads been in a bit of a funk and I could have easily hidden under my duvet all day, riddled with anxiety and “the fear” but I’m so pleased I got out. 3 tired dogs, one tired jen, one clearer head.

Definitely earned my brew, packet of biscuits and my book

It’s the little things that make a big difference

J x

Baps, flaps and scars

Given the experience I shared in my second to last post, it’d be pretty ridiculous if I now told you that I’ve just done my first ever nude photo shoot right? Well, it is, and I did.

Now, let me set the scene; I’ve not just marched into a random studio and got my kit off with some babestation style poses being pulled off.  A very good friend and absolute hero of mine, Lord (yes Lord) Damian McGillicuddy who used to arrange photoshoots and workshops at a hotel I used to work at and for years we’ve been meaning to get together to do a “shoot”.  We recently got back in touch following my move home and he invited me on a roadshow to Ireland for 4 days where I’d be modelling in his seminars and if I wanted to, we could experiment with a private shoot.  The prospect of a few days away, getting some headspace and speaking to no-one who knows about my situation was extremely inviting!

So, before the final seminar I bared all – scars both physical and mental on full vulnerable display – and we experimented with some sexy natural looking shots; 50s style, black and white, boyfriend shirt, with a vibe that I didn’t even know the camera was in the room at all.

Yes, I completely agree what I’ve done probably seems completely mental given everything that’s gone on recently.  Most “normal” people wouldn’t go getting their baps and flaps out so liberally after an attack, but I’ll tell you why for me it kind of makes sense.

Some psychologists use exposure as a means of therapy for phobias i.e. fear of heights gets treats with visits to high places, fear of spiders a trip to the zoo, fear of jam go to tea room etc. Now the feelings I’ve been having haven’t necessarily been a fear but they’ve been a feeling of distance between my mind and my body; almost detached.  There’s also the elements of knocked confidence, anxiety and loss of control on my own life.  Like I said, I’ve known Damian for years and we’ve been meaning to do a photo shoot together for the past 4 years.  I’d feel pretty shit if after all this time, I was offered this opportunity and I had to turn it down because of the incident that happened in November.  That’d be another way for said incident to be affecting my life and another point to him.  What better way to stick two fingers up to the situation, grow some big girl balls and regain control of my life?! Plus I’ve never exactly been shy in a bit of nudity – boobs are boobs and a foof’s a foof. I’d hate for any more of my personality to be reserved and restricted because of what’s gone on. So….the little jelly tots came out!

The experience itself was incredible.  A lot more natural than I thought it would be, it didn’t feel weird and I didn’t feel awkward or vulnerable.  It’s not like plenty of people haven’t seen me and my bits in all their glory over the past few months anyway with all the doctors and nurses and police that have had a look.  Honestly, if I wanted this many people to see my bits I should have become a stripper! (you have to try and find light in a situation somewhere!) In all seriousness, after the shoot I felt liberated, empowered, extremely sexy and very emotional; something I’ve lost touch with recently.

Now I’m not advocating everyone in my situation runs to the nearest photographer and gets their bits out.  But I am a firm believer in there not being a rule book for dealing with any form of trauma or mental health issues.  To do whatever feels comfortable for you and whatever helps.

You’ll all be glad to know I won’t be posting the pictures on my blog – no-one needs to see my kipper and pancakes! I’ll be keeping the pictures for myself as a reminder of the strength I’ve had to do them when I’m struggling and probably show them to everyone I meet when I’m 90 – what I looked like “back in the day”.

One thing I will share with you though is a wonderful quote which I’ve picked up from Lord McGillicuddy himself as his favourite quote and was actually featured at the end of his seminars this week.  Something very relevant to how I feel and has been resonant with me since I first heard it – think it’ll stick with me for a while

On a serious note, I’d like to thank the Damian and his team for the opportunity to go to Ireland.  I found strength in me I didn’t know I had.  Damian’s an incredibly honest, wonderful, supportive gentleman; proper salt of the earth and I’m very lucky to be able to call him a friend. The past few days away has done me the world of good and given me a new perspective on moving forward.  Check out his other INCREDIBLE photography which is significantly better without my mug in……

J x




“I’ve got a bad feeling about this”

Just a weird observation, could be purely coincidental or it could be my brain has been trying to tell me something all along.

Travelling up to the lakes in november, I had an old favourite song from my emo days stuck in my head – the most prolific lyric being “i’ve got a bad feeling about this”.  That lyric then twirled round my head for the following few weeks, even with me when I went back to the hotel for the third and final time.  Just noticed now I’m home, it’s gone.

They do say once an emo kid, always an emo kid

REVIEW: Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

the_happiness_project_book_by_gretchen_rubinThe Happiness Project; Gretchen Rubin

Whilst this book isn’t specifically intended for or aimed at solving problems with mental health, I’ve found it to be extremely useful and has led to me trialing my own ‘Happiness Project’ or ‘Jen project’ as I’ve called mine.

Gretchen spends the book, month by month over the course of a year seeking to improve different aspects of her life; money, work, love, children, friendships, passions and more.  Each aspect she takes in turn and breaks down into smaller key changes to her daily routine or to the way she reacts to situations as she goes through the month.  Then at the end of each month she continues with all of the new changes she’s made as well as setting the goals for the next aspect of her life.

The book is incredibly easy, funny, and touching to read with a lot of really good tips and thoughts to reflect on.  The main points I’ve picked up from the book are cherishing the little moments that so many of us take for granted and often pass us by as we live in a world of auto pilot.  It encourages you to think about how your happiness and your actions affect those people around you; family, friends, children and at work.  It also draws attention to how just the smallest of adjustments to your daily routine, or tweaking how you would normally react in a certain situation can really have a big impact.

Gretchen is beautifully eloquent but not in an intimidating way; the book is accessible and enjoyable.  A lot of uplifting and enlightening quotes are splashed around the pages; many taken from the many books shes read in the name of research and some fantastic little memorable truths which she has developed on her own quest.

Whilst the book is fantastic -she’s incredibly organised in laying out all of her plans from the start which I struggle to find realistic – things that might be a problem or an issue at the start of the project may actually sort themselves out without any need for specific action, or new issues may have arisen that hadn’t been taken into account.  She’s also done her research on the topic, A LOT of research.  All of the books she read to help her understand and discover her happiness are listed in the back of the book, which is great for future reference but is a little intimidating and for the average Joe would be an extremely timely thing to go through before embarking on your own project.  The book is fantastically engaging and relatable, but there are a few times in the book where I get almost smell a whiff of smugness on the pages, as though she’s a little too proud of her happiness and her wonderful life.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book.  I’ve even written down the things I’ve learnt from it and want to use myself in the back of my ‘Head Journal’.

I think anyone who’s having a tough time with their mental health for whatever reason should read it.  She really focuses on the little changes we can make daily that make the big difference, which is certainly something anyone can easily give a go.  The book in it’s own way is a course on mindfulness; teaching the reader to let go and live for the moment.  You feel a great sense of motivation reading, wanting to get started on your own version of the project.  The biggest things that have resonated with me are to take time to develop my passions – something I’ve pushed to the back of my priority list over the past few years, to make an effort with people, be generous with my time as well as my money in order to be rewarded, and to not be so expectant of praise and enthusiasm of others.

This really is a fantastic little book.  I’ll certainly be dipping into it for little happiness boosts for many years to come

5 foods that can help with anxiety and depression

teacher dreamer traveler and believer

A little while back a friend of mine sent me this link and it is really interesting that what we put into our bodies by the way of food can contribute to our well being. Click the link below to see how oily fish, raw cacao, chia seeds, acai and hebal tea can help with anxiety and depression.

Peace and love Sammi xx

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27 Life Changing Lessons to Learn From Eckhart Tolle

One of the very few numbered lists of things that has actually proved useful and uplifting, rather than involving cats in compromising situations or life hacks.

Not only a really good read to make you reflect, but its very resonant with the steps I’m currently trying to take in my own self care program, following similar lines to what I’m reading in a lot of my literature at the moment.

Can see Eckhart Tolle is going to be my next self  help book being bought

Going Natural

Since my initial “depression” diagnosis last march, the care I’ve received from the NHS (both personal and medical) has been anything but steady and consistent.  Given changing cities during recovery didn’t help but I’ve managed to clock up 4 different GP’s, 2 different therapists, 3 different anti-depressants, 3 different sedatives, 2 different beta-blockers and a partridge in a pear tree.  To be honest, I’ve had enough of whats felt like one long painful experiment.

I don’t feel at all as if any of the doctors I’ve seen have REALLY had my best interests at heart.  During my initial diagnosis, my lifestyle, diet, general health, and other medication I was on were not taken into account.  I recently found out the contraceptive I’ve been on for 3 years shouldn’t be prescribed to someone experiencing depressive symptoms due to the hormone levels in the pill, these symptoms can be aggravated – surely something that should have been picked up in my initial assessments.  One doctor even joked to “not take all my tablets at once” as I walked out the door, with notes about overdoses on my file sitting right in front of him.

The amount of different medications I’ve been switched on and off has left me mentally and physically exhausted.  I’ve never felt so unhealthy – my skin and general fitness are worse than ever and I’ve never had such horrid vivid dreams and sleepless nights.  The way each doctor has been so quick to dish out tablets has been shocking, almost just as a quick fix to keep us quiet and see us on our way.  You wouldn’t fix a broken leg with a plaster and the same approach should be given to mental health

I’ve had enough of this level of care now.  My new course of CBT starts in 5 days and I’m excited to see how it goes.  I’m also stepping up my own self care significantly.  Monitoring my anxiety and depression daily with a diary, careful diet, omega supplements and introducing exercise, as well as introducing ‘mindfulness meditation’ to my routine.

I’ve been reading a couple of books on tackling depression the ‘natural’ way and other options to explore than tablets:

Depression cure

Mindfulness; practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world

Both offer excellent advise and help put all of the ruminating/warped thoughts into perspective and in a way offer their own kind of cbt.

I’m excited to get stuck in and throw out the tablets.  Will be liberating to not feel jaded any more and to have full control over my own care and recovery.  How well I’ll stick to it and how well it works will be a test of time…

Stay safe

J x