I Get Lonely Too….


I seem to always begin these posts with “it’s been a while” and once again, it has. Life gets in the way and all that. But I’ve forced myself to sit down and take stock this evening as the last few weeks have been somewhat surreal.

Firstly as a media volunteer for Mind, I was asked by Refinery 29 if I fancied having a chat about being young and lonely (mainly because I had just turned 33 and anyone calling me “young” was very much welcome). Recent statistics and studies around loneliness have discovered that those who identify as lonely are twice more likely to have problems with their mental health. This comes as no surprise as someone who has wrestled with loneliness most of their life.

I didn’t think twice about doing the interview, not because I wanted the world to know I was lonely and feel sorry for me, but because it’s such a taboo subject and one which rarely gets any column inches. As with most of the interviews I give, I didn’t really think it would garner much attention, but nonetheless I chatted with the journalist and felt happy to have helped.

But as soon as it was published the following day, I started receiving messages – on Twitter, Instagram and via this blog with people thanking me for being honest and resonating with my story. I felt so proud and it’s continued ever since. I’m still getting emails and it’s making my heart swell. It’s so hard to talk about being lonely and the fact people have felt compelled to get in touch is just wonderful. The downside of course being just how widespread the issue is, especially in London. Truth be told, I’ve found the attention quite overwhelming and as yet I haven’t managed to get back in touch with everyone, but I will, I promise. I started out thinking I would meet with everyone individually, but as someone who gets bouts of social anxiety and with the numbers rising, I think setting up some sort of group is going to be the best way forward. So if you have been in touch, look out for an email this week, and if you’re reading this thinking you’d like to join us (nothing formal with absolute zero pressure, just hanging out with some like-minded lonely people), please do get in touch.


Off the back of the blog, I was very kindly asked by Mind to join them for a panel event at County Hall to chat about the loneliness epidemic. This was a real honour and not something I could ever have imagined being invited to speak at before. With BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty keeping us in check, I was joined by Tracey Crouch MP who has been appointed Britain’s Minister for Loneliness, Claudia Hammond from BBC Radio 4’s ‘All in the Mind’ and award winning filmmaker Sue Bourne who made ‘The Age of Loneliness’. It was a lively debate with all of us bringing our own expertise to the table – something I was really anxious about was being the token “person with mental health issues” but I was treated with such humility and respect and Naga ensured I got my voice heard just as much as the others. The feedback was great and so many people came and chatted afterwards and said they ‘got it’, which is more than I could have ever asked for. My first panel…..done!

And off the back of the panel, I’ve been approached by more organisations to share my experiences and most excitingly, an author who is currently writing a book on loneliness. He’s asked me to submit an open letter to someone struggling with loneliness which is going to be published next year alongside others. As someone who loves writing, this is something of a dream in the making, I’ve always wanted to see my words in a book and if they can be words that could potentially help someone then all the better.

Oh and one last thing, I’m going to be on the ITV Lunchtime News tomorrow (providing I don’t get bumped by more pressing news like the last two times!), I’m in a bit of an anxious state, mainly because I don’t know what to wear, but very much looking forward to shining some more light on another very important subject; antidepressants. Wish me luck!!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow….


It’s been a while since I felt compelled to write anything on here and truth be told I’m not really feeling ‘compelled’ to but I’m trying to fill my evenings with more positive activities (read: I’ve been drinking too much) so here we are. And as people keep telling me, writing is cathartic.

It’s been a hell of a few months, and without going in to too much detail, some of the worst days of my life quite frankly. Some brought on by myself and some down to life just being quite unfair and shitty. But I’m not going to go in to that, those of you who know, know, and the rest of you probably couldn’t give a damn so let’s move on to today.

Today was one of those really (pardon my language) fucking awful days. One of those days where getting out of bed was utterly unfathomable as the black dog had a firm grip around my throat and was holding me ransom. And no I don’t mean my black dog Miley, I’d be more than happy to have her to wrestle with, I mean the less friendly black dog – depression. And anxiety. And sadness. And feelings of not wanting to be here. And everything else that comes in between.

Granted it’s not a new feeling but it’s new in the sense that my circumstances have changed and it’s now down to me, and me alone to climb out of that black hole. No-one’s going to come and tell me I’ll feel better if I just get up and shower, or if I eat something or if I try and verbalise what’s going on in my head. There’s no-one here to give me a hug or wipe the tears anymore and I’ll be honest, that’s a lot harder than I could have ever imagined it would be, but that was my decision (before anyone suggests otherwise).

If you speak to anyone with a mental health problem, they’ll tell you that it’s a very lonely place; such is the nature of having something wrong that isn’t visible and that’s so very different for everyone. You and only you can only ever really know what’s going on up there in your head and that’s true for the happy stuff too – we’re all alone to some extent in this life. I guess it’s about learning how to be our own best friend and learning what to do for ourselves when we need someone to be kind.

And whilst this morning was hideous and I still feel utterly depleted; I’m learning. I’m sat here having got through the day, whereas 10 hours ago I thought the world was going to swallow me up and I wanted to give in. It’s the hardest thing in the world when you’re in that tornado of despair and anguish but somehow you do always get through it. And it was nothing particularly revolutionary that got me through, but it was two things that I hold very dear.

My friends and the changing of the seasons (sorry, I know, but stick with me on this, it’s not as bilious as it sounds). I had some very heart-warming messages from friends at work that made me feel loved; one of which told me to go outside and get some air. Now this is always something this particular friend tells me, and I often roll my eyes thinking “he doesn’t understand, it’s not that simple” but today I took heed of his advice and funnily enough it worked wonders. A stroll in the sunshine through the park led me to a patch of crocuses just in bloom, which reminded me of my dear grandma, who adored this time of year when the bulbs came out. And I tried to think what she would say to me if she was here and came to the conclusion that without doubt she would tell me that I’m stronger than I think and that I should try again tomorrow and the next day and the next day and so on.

So, tomorrow, let’s be having you.




Stop crying your heart out….


I’m sat here in front of my laptop, desperate to cry. I’ve listened to all the songs that always make me cry and yet nothing. I feel like a pressure cooker about to blow and having a good old cry usually helps. But the Sertraline says no.

I’ve always been a crier. Happiness, sadness, you name it; guaranteed tears. And whilst at times it’s been a bloody nuisance (my brother’s wedding for example where I spent the majority of it looking like Alice Cooper), sometimes it’s the only way to get rid of some of the over brimming emotions. The physical sensation of crying your eyes out, for me, is cathartic. When everything is muddled up and hurting inside it feels good to release something, even if it’s only salty water.

When I went through a stint of self harming, it was that feeling of release when I cut my arms that drove me to continue doing it as difficult as that might be to understand. And it’s the same with crying, it’s a release. It might not solve anything and it might leave you with a banging headache but for those moments where you’re able to let go of your emotions, emotions that you have so desperately been trying to hang on to, it’s a relief.

Things have been quite difficult lately and I’ve been trying to steer myself away from the edge. My stress levels feel astronomical as does my anxiety and all I want to do is have a bloody good old cry. I’m sad, I’m scared, I’m annoyed and I’m tired. A good old uncontrollable cry would really help because breaking down and not-coping really isn’t an option right now, there’s too much to do and too many other people to think about.

It’s not too much to ask for is it? The ability to cry? I guess unless you’ve ever been on antidepressants and had them upped so that they numb things even further you might not really have a clue what I’m going on about. But if you have – it’s horrible isn’t it? It’s a weird sensation. I don’t feel like me. I feel like I’ve become a stone-cold heartless bitch. Why did I not cry at the clips on Celebrity Gogglebox for Stand Up to Cancer last week? I’m usually in floods before they’ve even started.

It’s unnerving. Is it me? Is it the drugs? What else are they suppressing? Should I just poke myself in the eye and be done with it?

It’s not right and it’s not okay…..


It sounds very clichéd, but all I really want to do in life is make a difference and help others. I enjoy seeing other people happy and pride myself on trying to be a nice person (admittedly this is easier said than done at times). I try and be a good daughter, sister, girlfriend, aunt and friend and be there when people need me. Helping someone ignites a real fire in me and helps me through some dark times.

But when I can’t help for reasons out of my control, it’s really fucking tough.

The last few months have been hard. Someone I love very dearly has been going through something that I thought I could help fix, but I can’t. And it’s made me question everything.

I have my own mental health issues and whilst I can’t always practise what I preach, I know how to give good advice. After 7 years of immersing myself in mental health, I know what can help and I know what support is out there. So I should be able to help someone who I know is desperately struggling right? But I can’t.

And why can’t I?

I’ll tell you why. Because the mental health system is a shambles.

Yes I knew it was failing but it wasn’t until I was on the other side of the equation trying to access support for someone else that I really understood how absolutely abysmal it is, especially in Wales. I suppose I have become accustomed to patchy services, jumping through hoops, brick walls and lack of support. Obviously I wish it was better for myself but I know I can cope with it; but it’s not okay when someone I love comes up against unimaginably terrible care. Especially when they fall in to one of the most at-risk categories.

Everyone always bangs on about how important it is to talk and reach out when you’re feeling low. But no-one ever mentions the difficulty in actually getting someone (a professional) to listen and do something when you do. Plucking up the courage to talk about something so personal when you have hidden it for years should not be met with a door slammed in your face. Yet it frequently is. 4 times to be precise in this case. 4 times someone asked desperately for help and were turned away. Do you think if they went with a broken arm they would be met with the same disregard? Do you think they would be told “there’s nothing I can do” and sent home to fester for months and months, every day getting a little worse? No. Of course they wouldn’t.

To stand by and see someone treated so unjustly is heartbreaking, especially when you know there is very little you can do about it because it’s happening all over the country. I want more than anything to take the pain away but I can’t because the help and support needed to do this just isn’t there. And that’s really hard for me because I have never wanted someone I love to go through what I have gone through, but they are and I feel powerless.

It’s made me feel not only heartbroken but angry. I’m angry the shift that has seen more and more people talking about their mental health has been met with no real improvements to the services available to them. The first crucial hurdle people have to get over when they feel ready to reach out for professional help is getter higher and higher. And whilst I appreciate this isn’t the case everywhere and that it’s not necessarily as black and white as I make it seem; GP’s are failing those with mental health problems. Every time they turn someone away who is experiencing low mood/anxiety etc. they are running the risk of setting that person back a long way and making them less likely to access support in the future. They either need more training or there needs to be a proper referral system where you get seen by someone with a mental health specialism. Or at the very least you get signposted to local services/charities etc. that can help whilst you wait. They should not be sending quite clearly vulnerable people out of their surgeries with nothing.

I try and do what I can to raise awareness and help various mental health charities out but sometimes I really feel like it’s pointless when the system is failing so badly – what is the point in getting people to speak out when the help isn’t there? Of course I know that we have to keep fighting in the hope that something will change but when I’m constantly met with stories of people taking their own life because of lack of support It feels utterly hopeless. Surely there is no stronger indication that something is in absolute ruins when people would rather no longer be here than be subjected to it.

What is it going to take to make people realise that drastic improvements are needed? Improvements that actually make a positive impact on the lives of those people who are being failed every day by our mental health system.

If anyone has the answer, please do let me know.

There goes the fear…..


I’ve no doubt mentioned this before, but I don’t really drink anymore which means I don’t really go out-out anymore. I still go to gigs and stuff but my days of getting extremely drunk are well behind me thanks to the fact it plays havoc with my mental health and it takes far too long to get back on an even keel.

That said, there are odd occasions where I have the urge to go back to my old ways and have a night of debauchery – and this Friday was one of those nights. My friend Jema and I had it planned for quite a while and I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. Bands, booze and a dance floor; the perfect night out. And because they don’t happen very often anymore, I really built it up in my head – one night of letting my hair down and just forgetting all my silly anxieties and worries was very much needed and I was determined to enjoy every second.

Thankfully, I did and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time – special mention to the sublime Yala! Records lads for playing all my favourite indie classics and even allowing me to belt out a bit of Celine Dion. Jema and I pretty much spent the whole night on the dance floor flinging ourselves around in the most ungraceful manner and loved it.

As always I didn’t really adhere to my plan of not drinking too much – double vodkas seemed like the best idea and I dread to think how many we bought (the joys of contactless). The more I drank the more the old feelings of anxiety and lack of confidence came so of course the most sensible idea was to just drink more. I was admittedly very nervous before we got there – knowing it would be full of very effortlessly cool people, (who unlike me hadn’t taken four hours to get ready only to hate how they looked by the end of said effort) but I persevered and everyone was very friendly (of course I felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb all night, but hey what’s new there).

So yeah, alcohol. It’s a real shit. It lulls you in to this false sense of security where you feel more confident under its spell, then it stabs you in the back with a large dose of humiliation and self hatred and you spend the rest of the night tessellating between the two. Oh god did I say something stupid? Did I embarrass myself? Were people laughing at me? Etc. And if that wasn’t enough, it makes you drop your phone and smash the screen!

It’s taken me a couple of days to get over the hangover – both physically and emotionally. Yesterday was a bit of a void and I felt like I was standing on the precipice of  an existential crisis; but thankfully I pulled it back and didn’t completely fall to pieces.

I really did have so much fun and that’s the annoying part – the comedown afterwards. You spend months waiting for a night and then it’s gone and you feel like you’re never going to have fun again.


Peaks and Troughs


I had a shitty day yesterday but today is hopefully not going to be quite so shitty so I thought I would break my silence and write a blog.

The last few months have been tough. The disappointment of not finishing my charity walk hit me hard and has taken me a fair while to compute. Added to that it’s been a pretty intense and emotional time elsewhere in my life too; not to mention planning a wedding, changing jobs and moving house having all been thrown in to the mix too.

Life is full of ups and downs, there’s no denying that, but sometimes I feel like I have zero resilience and am unable to get through the tiniest amounts of stress and trauma whilst others seem to sail through them. I guess that’s where the problem is; comparing my reactions to others. It’s not particularly helpful.

My anxiety has been through the roof and manifesting itself in a much more physical way. Hot sweats, dizzy spells, nausea and palpitations have all made a return to daily life as has the social anxiety that has plagued me in the past. I go to bed and I awake with this fear that something terrible is going to happen. Every unexpected phone call is met with the sheer panic that it can only be bad news. It’s not a very nice way to live to be honest and pretty damn frustrating as I was starting to think I was over the worst of my mental health issues.

It felt that at 32 I was starting to become more resilient, more confident and more logical about my worries and anxieties. But of course, that’s not how mental health works – we have good times and we have bad times. We have times where we’re able to climb that mountain and times where we’re unable to leave the house. And of course life’s path takes its twists and turns as it does for everyone, and some of those periods take longer than others to pass.

I took the difficult decision of returning to my doctor to discuss the feelings I’ve been having. Not an easy decision as even after 7 years of seeing doctors about my anxiety and depression, I still feel this overwhelming sense of failure every time. I sat in the waiting room with sweaty palms, short of breath and wanting to flee. But I didn’t. I told him what had been going on, the various triggers I felt had contributed and against everything the little voice in my head was saying; asked for some help.

He decided that I had a lot going on which made me feel a little better (someone validating that it’s okay to feel the way you do is very powerful). Talking through the options, we decided that I would increase my tablets and have some form of counselling again. I knew before I went in there that this would be the likely offer given there is no magic wand, and off I trotted with my prescription.

I didn’t tell the doctor but I was devastated. Devastated that the hard work I had done the year before in halving my dose was now redundant. I’d failed yet again. It always feels like the easy option taking a tablet, even though I know it isn’t, but there’s something in me that feels weak relying on a tiny white pill every day. And the fact I was going to be even more dependent on them filled me with sheer anger and embarrassment. But of course I know that there’s limited treatments available and that short term it might help while I’m struggling. So I’m taking them and awaiting a counselling appointment…..although I’ve been told the waiting list is a year.

If I’m honest I can’t really say 6 weeks on that I’m feeling any better as such, all I can say is that I feel a bit numb and vacant. I can’t cry and that’s a problem for me because I am most definitely a cryer and sometimes a cry is what I need, but it eludes me so it’s is a really weird sensation. I guess I could say that they have surpassed my emotions a little in that I feel a bit less, again a weird sensation, and not one that I can really say I’m wholly comfortable with, given the long term implications. But for now, I have to give it a go. I have to do something. And this is something.

My other something is throwing myself in to wedding planning and organising a really great day for all our loved ones. Granted it has its ‘why can’t we just elope?’ moments but having it to look forward to is a real help as is knowing that everyone is looking forward to it. It’s a goal that I’m setting myself – being well for the wedding and being able to enjoy it without the fear of anxiety getting in the way.

An open letter to The Maccabees….


It’s not often you stumble across a band or an artist that from the moment you first hear them, they grab hold of your heart and cement themselves firmly in it for the rest of eternity. That’s how I felt when I first clapped eyes and ears on you guys.

I was living in Manchester at the time, in my first year of training to be a nurse. It wasn’t going well and I spent most of my nights at gigs desperately trying to make someone with a guitar notice me. You see that’s often how a love affair with a band starts for a girl; you fix eyes on the floppy haired blue eyed guitarist and that’s it. And admittedly that’s how it was – the fact you made exceptional music which seemed to speak to me in ways nothing ever had before was a bonus.

There were the typical nights after gigs where I’d drag my friends over to one of your DJ sets,  pluck up the courage to speak to you by sinking copious amounts of vodka and be bowled over by how down to earth and lovely you all were; taking the time to talk to a very awkward and shy girl.

One of said moments that particularly sticks out in my mind is at Jabez Clegg after your headline set at the Academy as part of the NME Tour. Boozed up, I bounded over to Orlando and proceeded to tell him that he totally mesmerised me and that I loved him, to which he very kindly gave me a hug and made me feel anything but a stupid drunken girl. And then there was a similar night in Liverpool at The Shipping Forecast, after the sweatfest that was Liverpool Academy. I repeatedly tried to engage in conversation despite not really being able to string a sentence together due to nerves. Felix and Hugo both took the time to chat despite the room being full of far more exciting and coherent people. It meant such a lot; so much so that it’s quite hard to put it in to words. But anyone who has loved a band and been lucky enough to have a conversation with them and not leave feeling like a complete fool will know. 

And that’s a knack that you’ve never lost; that ability to make each and every one of your fans feel special. Many bands would have called it a day by releasing a statement and that would have been it. Not you. You’ve gone out there and played the farewell gigs and said a proper personal goodbye. You’ve even painstakingly put together a programme with mementos from your 14 years, had a photography exhibition and played an intimate gig in aid of the MS Society. You didn’t have to, but you have and I know it’s been very much appreciated. You’ve made your fans feel like they matter and that they deserve one final show and that’s something quite special. Respect isn’t something that a band always offers its fans, but you’ve always shown it in bucketloads.

Music very quickly became even more important for me when I went through some dark times, struggling with my mental health. I no longer went out to lots of gigs and I no longer had any confidence whatsoever to speak to anyone. And whilst it wasn’t a happy time it did mean I saw you in a whole new light; you were no longer just the good looking boys who made my favourite type of music and I no longer felt the need to elbow my way to the front or throw myself at you every time I saw you.

The shift in my personal life and the loneliness I was feeling saw me become obsessed with lyrics and finding lyrics that conveyed how I was feeling when words escaped me. I found great affinity in so many of your songs and when the noise in my head became too much to bear I would turn to you. Your tours would give me something to look forward to when there was little else to live for. The thought of having one night of sheer happiness at one of your gigs could keep me going for months on end and that’s probably my biggest fear now you’re leaving; never feeling that sheer euphoria at a gig again. Even this weekend at 32 and very much now one of those people that stands at the back at gigs and nods their head; I was compelled to jump around like a crazed teenager. There’s always been something so empowering about being at one of your gigs, it’s like hanging out with your best friends, all sense of self consciousness goes because you know that everyone around you is equally impassioned.

I left nursing and started working in music and spent lots of time interviewing bands and reviewing gigs and I quickly realised that the kindness and down-to-earthness you oozed wasn’t necessarily a common occurrence when it came to bands. I had the misfortune of interviewing some that left me feeling utterly worthless. And then I was given the opportunity to write about your tiny gig at Sound Control in Manchester in support of Given To The Wild. It was a special gig for many reasons, not least because it was such a small, intimate gig, the likes that never happened again as that album so rightly propelled you in to the next realm and bigger venues beckoned. The joy I felt getting to wax lyrical about you, my favourite band, for other people, was something else and one of my proudest moments still (despite the fact I’m pretty sure it was only ever my Dad who read it). I always hoped that one day I would get to interview you too, and would regularly bombard your PR (and get various editors to do the same) with begging requests every time you came up North but sadly it was never to be. My foray in to music journalism came just that bit too late as everyone was clambering to get a piece of you by this point and a regional entertainment website writer just wasn’t going to make the cut.

One of the many things I’ve admired about you has been the way you’ve done things your own way. It feels like everything you’ve ever done has been very organic and in no way contrived whatsoever, even down to your artwork and merch. You’ve never been the average indie guitar band complete with gobby frontman and outspoken views on everything. You’ve always been the nice guys, the guys who just let the music do the talking. And it’s telling that every single person I have ever spoken to and every single person I have ever heard talk about you, from guitar techs to friends to people who have toured with you, they have all said that you’re the nicest bunch. That sort of reputation doesn’t come from nothing. And being nice in an industry that doesn’t necessarily always appreciate it is why you have the legions of loyal fans you do. Fakeness doesn’t stand the test of time, humility does.

And while I of course wish you would continue making albums for years to come I feel like this is the perfect ending to your story. Going out on your own terms retaining all the poise, grace and love that you’ve always had and with a extraordinary back catalogue that will be revered for  years to come. We could never have asked for more.

You’ve seen me through some of the hardest times but you’ve also seen me through some of the happiest times and will continue to do so. I just hope that we too have been there for you in some small way along the journey. You inspired us and paved the way for so many bands, showing that it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to be nice. But most of all you’ve ensured that no-one ever forgets that Latchmere’s got a wave machine. 

Thank you for everything – these are tears of joy, not woe x