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

London To Brighton…or more truthfully….London to Bletchingley!


It would be completely remiss of me not to begin this post by talking about the horrific events that happened in Manchester last week – events which I’m still struggling to comprehend. I went to bed having seen the tweets about an incident at the Manchester Arena and subsequently read “eyewitness” accounts saying that it was just a blown speaker…it was just a load of helium balloons, and figured it was just Twitter scaremongering. The next think I knew, Tom was waking me up and telling me 19 people had died. I lay in bed feeling utterly sick to my stomach in complete shock, like many of you I’m sure.

Manchester was my home for most of my twenties and like anyone who has lived there will tell you; it really gets under your skin and you never lose that love and pride for the place. Coupled with the fact some of my happiest memories as a child were at that arena, I felt utterly consumed by sadness. My Dad has stood in the exact spot many of those parents were standing in, waiting for me to come out of concerts. I’ve felt that utter elation of seeing my favourite pop stars in the flesh in that arena, I’ve left feeling on top of the world after months and months of waiting for that one night and the thought of those youngsters feeling that way and never making it home is just utterly heart-breaking. I can’t begin to imagine how one would go about dealing with such a tragedy; the injustice, the barbarity and the senselessness of it.

I felt like nothing else mattered last week, that everything paled in comparison to the heartbreak Manchester was going through. I was scared and anxious about the world and didn’t want to get out of bed for fear of something terrible happening. I wasn’t in the best place. But I knew that I had to somehow bring myself out of that dark place and do my charity walk for CALM. I felt guilty posting on social media about it and asking people for money, I felt that people would think I was being selfish and insensitive but at the same time I didn’t want to let CALM down by not raising as much money as I possibly could for them.

I signed up for the walk almost a year ago and it all came down to that one day – Saturday, and despite trying to remain positive, I knew before I even started that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to walk 100KM, I was mentally exhausted and as anyone with mental health issues will tell you, it really affects you physically too.


I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t do as much training as I should have. I had great intentions as I always do, but in reality they didn’t materialise to much. Yes I got in some good long walks and had physio on my failing ankle but I didn’t do enough strengthening or conditioning. Really, I should have never signed up to do 100KM, because quite frankly it was an impossible task for someone who isn’t exactly built for endurance. But of course, in classic Michelle style, I felt that I had to sign up to something that people would be impressed by, something that felt it would justify asking people for their money. Turns out, people who sponsored me didn’t give me the money because they wanted to see me walk 100KM, they gave me the money because they wanted to support the charity and would have probably given me the money for 10KM.

You’ve heard people say “all the gear and no idea” right? Well that was me. I spent a lot of money on things for this walk; trying to kid myself that with all the regalia 100KM would be easy peasy. Nah-uh. Turns out the more unnecessary stuff you have in your bag, the harder it is to walk as your poor shoulders just get weighed down.

Despite not feeling great I arrived at Richmond Park feeling a bit more positive – the adrenaline started to kick in a bit once we were faced with hundreds of other walkers and Queen blasting out on the speakers. However, that positivity was to be short lived…..

I went to the toilet to put my hat on – you know, just to check it looked okay, as you do. There was no mirror in the Port A Loo so I turned my phone on selfie mode, as you do. Nature called, as it does and I placed my phone on the side of the toilet, as only a complete idiot would do. As if in slow motion, my phone disappeared from view. Initially I thought it would have just fallen on the grass underneath the loo. Nah-uh. You probably don’t need me to tell you where it had fallen and you probably don’t need me to tell you what I had to do next…..let’s just say I was extremely grateful for having packed the hand sanitizer.

So, I embarked on the walk with no working phone and was utterly devastated. You see, I had saved lots of messages and videos on there to watch when the going got tough, I’d compiled special playlists and I’d promised to inundate my social media channels with inane selfies along the way. I’m one of those people that needs positive encouragement when I’m feeling like I can’t do something and the thought of having to do this walk without speaking to Tom, my parents and my brothers really upset me, so I think that was the beginning of the end physiologically for me.

I won’t bore you with a KM by KM account of the walk, but it was tough, really tough. I think I first cried at the 5KM mark when a lady on the street noticed we were walking for CALM and wished us luck saying she supported the charity. And I then spent most of the 40KM I managed to complete just generally crying. Crying because I was in pain from the hellish blisters on the tips of my toes (so annoyed as I had none in training), crying because I knew I wasn’t going to get to Brighton and I was going to let people down, crying because I couldn’t speak to anyone and crying because I wanted to prove myself wrong but I couldn’t.

I bowed out at the 40KM mark as I knew I couldn’t go on with the blisters and under the advice of the medics. I was heartbroken. I felt like the biggest failure and still do despite everyone telling me otherwise. You see the thing is, whilst I signed up for this challenge to benefit CALM and raise money for them to help them continue their amazing work, as anyone who does anything for charity will tell you (if they’re completely honest), there’s always a bit of a selfish reason behind it too. For me, it’s wanting to seek people’s validation, it’s wanting people to be proud of me and see me as strong. And because on this occasion I had to admit by quitting that I wasn’t strong, it felt like I was letting everyone down. I don’t like failing at things, and always give everything 110% because of that and I feel I didn’t and I’m annoyed with myself.

There will be many people reading this, who will be very annoyed with me saying all this as everyone has been telling me all week that I did fantastically and that I shouldn’t be disappointed in myself. But, we can’t help how we feel and I feel utterly disappointed in myself and somewhat humiliated after spending months and months telling everyone how I was going to do it. The fact the company running the walk made you feel like scum for not finishing it didn’t help either.

BUT and this is a big but, I raised over £2,000 for a charity that means a lot to me and that’s what I am trying to focus on. I know that money is going to go on to help so many people and potentially save lives and for that reason I should be proud. I desperately wanted to do something to help; the fact 12 men take their own life in the UK every day just horrifies me and I hope in some small way I have helped. I’m sure in time I will look back on last weekend and find the whole thing less painful and learn from the experience. I will continue to raise money for the charity and do my best to help, I’m just going to make sure that I do it more sensibly and not hurt myself in the process because that doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my friend Nathalie, who did the walk with me. I pretty much bullied her in to it all those months ago and she was a star throughout. Together we raised over £3,700 for CALM and I know I speak for both of us when I say that everyone’s generosity has meant a lot.

My JustGiving page is still open for anyone who would still like to donate


Mental Health Awareness Week


I haven’t written a blog for a while; mainly because I’ve been busy fundraising ahead of my walk for CALM in a couple of weeks time (there’s still time to sponsor me, see here!). Well that and taking 5 million pictures of my beautiful new niece, more of which later.

Anyway, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week so I thought it was a fitting time to get back into this blog malarky. Now, every week in my mind should be Mental Health Awareness Week but it’s very refreshing to see so many people sharing their stories this week and the media paying particular attention to it. It’s also great that it comes off the back of the London Marathon and the sterling work Wills, Kate and Harry did with the Heads Together campaign. It really feels like there’s some momentum with talking about our mental health problems becoming far more “normal”, I just hope it’s not a fad and the great work continues.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I’m currently in the throws of fundraising for CALM, a charity specifically aimed at fighting the stigma surrounding male mental health and reducing the number of male suicides in the UK. You don’t need me to tell you that there’s still massive strides that need to be made to allow men to feel comfortable talking about the intricacies of their emotions and feelings. It’s been hugely encouraging to see the likes of Rio Ferdinand talk so publically about the subject, especially given Rio in many ways is a stereotypical man’s man and one of the last people you’d expect to be so vocal about his struggles with bereavement.

Whilst I applaud anyone who speaks openly about their mental health, it always feels that bit more thought provoking when it’s a man as historically we’re told men don’t talk about these things. And yesterday I read a piece by award winning Dad blogger Jamie Day on his blog A Day In The Life Dad that felt utterly compelling. Not only is it frank and honest but it’s helpful; offering up advice to those who might be in a similar situation. So often you read pieces and they’re harrowing, but they offer little hope, which can be dangerous when you’re already feeling completely hopeless. It also felt that bit special as I follow Jamie and his beautiful wife on Instagram; they have the cutest children and a picturesque life in the country and he’s one of the last people I would have expected to have struggled with their mental health. Of course it’s important to remember that what we see isn’t always the full picture and anyone can, at any time in their life, be affected by mental health problems and it’s not a sign of weakness speaking up about it. So thank you Jamie for being so open.

In the spirit of openness, here’s little gambit on where I’m at with my mental health at the moment. Because I’ve been so busy recently, I’ve not really had much time to feel anxious or down but as it did last year, my birthday this weekend, was something of a catalyst for something of an emotional breakdown.

I recently became an aunty for the first time to the most gorgeous little monkey called Cara. And it’s safe to say that I’m utterly in love. I didn’t think it possible to love such a tiny little thing so much. I’ve been home a lot recently to spend time with her and every time I leave it feels like my heart breaks in two. Dramatic I know but there’s this physical feeling of sadness that engulfs me and lasts for a couple of days whilst I get back in to London life. It’s hideous. I cry my eyes out and my mind is just filled with her face  and it feels much like those all  encompassing feelings of grief when you’ve lost someone. And of course that’s ridiculous because I’m going to see her again in 6 weeks time, but it’s a very real, visceral feeling. I’ve always hated saying goodbye to anyone and often get tearful when I’ve had a lovely time and it’s over but those feelings I have after being home for a few days and return to reality are the worst. I feel everything all at once.


Tom described it perfectly as he was wiping my tears away on the train; and it somehow helped me rationalise it a little. He said that I feel things more deeply than most – when I’m happy, I’m delirious, but when I’m sad, I’m deeply sad. And that seems to be a good way of looking at it; a way of looking at it that makes me think that I’m not completely stir crazy. I’m just overflowing with emotions.



I haven’t written anything on here for a long time but I thought as today is Time To Talk day that it would be rather fitting to erm…talk!

It really is wonderful to see how many people now get behind #timetotalk; my social media feeds have been full of encouraging messages urging people to speak out and talk about their personal mental health issues or just mental health in general.

Whilst talking feels like one of the most natural things in the world – talking about your mental health really isn’t all that easy. As much as we are lead to believe that the tide is changing and the stigma surrounding it is disappearing; struggling with mental health is still a very lonely place to be. It’s important to remember that a tweet or a Facebook status pledging your allegiance to help fight the stigma is pretty redundant if you don’t actually DO something. And when I say ‘do something’ I don’t necessarily mean campaign, start a petition or join a march (although if you want to, please do!), I mean reach out to someone and have a conversation. It doesn’t have to be a conversation directly about mental health; take it from someone who knows, it can be quite off-putting when someone you barely know comes up to you and says “I didn’t know you were mentally ill”! But it can be as simple as a “how you doing?” or “fancy a coffee?”. The mere act of engaging with someone who might be struggling and showing them you are thinking about them and more importantly that you’re there, really could help make someone’s day so much better and give them that ounce of hope they’ve been searching for.

I’ve lost count of the times where a small act of kindness from someone has changed a really dark day into a really hopeful one. Kindness really is the greatest gift you can give someone, along with your time. Time is so precious these days with the fast pace of life , there’s never enough of it; so when you spend some of your valuable time on someone it really can mean the world to them.

And if you’d like to know more about how you can help support someone who is going through mental health problems there’s some handy info on the Time to Change website, Mind‘s website and on the Rethink Mental Illness website.


Keep calm and carry on

For any of you who have the misfortune of following me on any social media platform, you’ll have noticed my incessant pleading for money. Thankfully I’ve not fallen on hard times but signed up for another charity challenge. It seems that losing various toenails and damaging my hip flexors last time wasn’t enough to deter me.

This time around I’m taking on the London to Brighton challenge with my friend Nathalie (have a look at her reasons for signing up here she’s one brave lady). We’ll be walking continuously from London to Brighton; that’s round about 60 miles in 24hrs. A doddle, I think you’ll agree.

Whilst I still support Mind wherever and whenever I can, I’ve decided to fundraise for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) as their fight is one that needs as much attention as possible. It also felt right supporting a smaller charity as I know only too well now that I work for one, how difficult it is to compete with bigger, far more well known charities.

CALM strive to give men an outlet to talk about how they’re feeling. They offer support and information for those men who are struggling and have no-one to turn to or are too embarrassed to speak up. You don’t need me to tell you that suicide rates in the UK are staggering. But what you might not know is that 75% of suicides in this country are men.

Historically men have been told that showing emotion is a sign of weakness – big boys don’t cry. There’s a certain notion that men have to be strong and resilient to be a proper man. These sorts of stereotypes are wrong, their unhealthy and most of all they’re the reason many men don’t seek support when they’re going through a tough patch and why so many lives are lost unnecessarily.

I can’t attest to ever having had suicidal thoughts; but that’s not to say that I haven’t come close. I’ve felt that crippling sense of loneliness, that black hole of resentment and that overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. I’ve teetered on the edge of thinking that no-one cares, no-one loves me and that no-one would miss me. It’s quite honestly the worst feeling in the world and I’m quite certain that if it wasn’t for certain people being there for me and helping me when I plummeted into that huge abyss that is depression I would no doubt have ended up one of those staggering statistics.

No-one should feel like that. No-one whatsoever, but least of all a man who feels that he can’t be truthful for fear of having the piss taken out of him. I have a younger brother who is soon to be 17 and I don’t want him growing up in a society that ridicules men showing emotion. Like many his age, he doesn’t talk about his feelings and it scares me that he would one day feel like he had no-one to turn to. And that’s the reason I’m doing the challenge – to say it’s okay to talk, it’s okay to not be okay and there are people out there that can help. People like CALM.

As little as £7 can pay to man their helpline and save a life. It could be a friend, a boyfriend, a father or a brother. Don’t let them feel alone. Don’t let them suffer in silence.

If you would like to donate and help CALM tackle the problem of male suicide, please visit my page; every little bit really does help.

Panic On The Streets of London


I’ve toyed with the idea of writing this post for a few days; the fear of people reading it and thinking ‘get a grip’ always overtaking the want to be completely honest. However, as I’m sat here with 10 minutes to spare before I’m called in for my counselling session, where we will inevitably talk about it, I’m going to share something that happened last week.

I’ve talked about he fact I’m currently undergoing some bereavement counselling to help me namely deal with the death of my gran and the huge sense of loss and sadness it has left me with. Intertwined with that though, is this severe daily worry that something is going to happen to someone I love. Whether that be Tom, my Mum, my Dad or one of my brothers; I’m constantly on edge thinking something awful is going to happen and that one of them is going to die. It sounds awful I know, but these are very real thoughts in my head and any time I get a call I’m not expecting I fear the worst. I have this palpable sense of utter panic and dread that comes over me whenever I see something remotely related to death or loss and I picture losing one of them. In a round about way I know where it has stemmed from but it certainly hasn’t got any easier the older I have got.

With this in mind, I like to make sure I check-in with people. I speak to my mum twice a day to ensure everything is okay at home and like most couples, Tom and I exchange texts during various junctures in our working day. Problems however arise when I get unexpected calls – they quite literally put the fear of god in me. I always assume it’s bad news and enter into periods of shallow breathing and a thumping heart until I’m reassured otherwise.

Last week I was helping to manage a residential conference in Nottingham. As always, when one of us is away, I sent Tom a good morning text and jumped in the shower. I returned to no reply and decided to give him a ring. No answer. It was 7am, he was probably in the shower too. He’ll ring back I thought. I proceeded to dry my hair, persistently checking my phone. Still nothing.

Half an hour passed and I started to panic. Tom is pretty much surgically attached to his phone (he has to be for work), so the rational thoughts of he’s left his phone at home or it’s in his pocket on silent just didn’t wash with me. I knew he just wouldn’t go to work without speaking to me. Something had happened. And then my body went into sheer panic, I couldn’t breathe. My heart was beating out of my chest. I felt faint. I felt sick.

I started visualising him in hospital. I started visualising him run over, electrocuted, unconscious, murdered; you name it, I visualised it. I checked Sky News as I visualised him on a tube in the middle of a terrorist attack. Now, I know all this may sound incomprehensible to some of you but I can’t begin to describe how real it felt. All the while ringing and ringing him with no answer. With every ring, my fear heightening.

I ended up convincing myself that he was dead and that this was the only logical explanation. I then felt the very real pangs of loss akin to those when I had a phone call to say my gran had died – the feeling that I was never going to see him again. There was a very real pain in my chest at this point. How could I get to him? How could I say goodbye? How could I live without him? How could I possibly go on without him? I went from 1 to 100 in a very short space of time and all the feelings of panic and loss I’ve ever felt all came flooding back.

And then the phone rang. And I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you who it was!

But in a way that didn’t matter, yes I knew he was safe but all those feelings of loss and death had entered my head and weren’t going to budge. And that’s why I wanted to share this with you. I wanted to try and highlight how a seemingly ridiculous worry to some, can actually cause a huge amount of physical and mental trauma that can be felt for days afterwards.

Fix you


If you’ve read some of my other blogs you’ll know that I recently underwent a programme of CBT to try and help me manage my anxiety and depression. The therapist decided that despite 6 years of being told I had depression it might be PTSD that I’m living with. Long story short, she referred me to a bereavement specialist who would see me for more intensive counselling. As we all know, waiting lists for such services are huge so I was told to expect an appointment in 6-8 months.

Whilst it sounds like a long time, I was quite relieved. Weekly sessions are intense especially when you have to go into work afterwards and put a brave face on. It throws up a lot of things you might not have thought about before and for a time it made my symptoms slightly worse; so I was looking forward to a rest from talking about all the convoluted thoughts in my head.

No such luck.

I had a phone call on Friday to say that a space had come available on Monday evenings and it was mine if I wanted it.

This was unprecedented. Never have I been on a waiting list that didn’t exceed the predicted time, let alone turn 6 months into 4 weeks. And never have I been a given a set appointment that meant I didn’t have to take time off work to attend. The stars had finally aligned!

But of course my happiness was short lived as the anxiety of talking about my anxiety kicked in. I didn’t much feel like getting into the deep and dark thoughts that haunt me especially as work is insanely consuming at the moment and fatigue is at an optimum high. Do I really have time between meeting with florists for a fanciful ball and fine tuning guest lists for an event at the House of Lords to be grappling with my overwhelming fear of death on a weekly basis?

Not really. But, and it’s a big but (see previous blog!) this is not just for me, this is for Tom. This is for my family. This is for my friends. And I owe it to them. I owe it to them to figure out why I can’t enjoy every moment with them for fear of thinking something terrible is going to happen. I owe it to them to figure out why I picture them dying and spend a lot of my time worrying about them dying. I owe it to them to learn to live in the present and not be a burden all the time.

So with that thought, I left work today with sweaty palms, a throbbing head and a tight chest. With every bone of me telling me I couldn’t do it, that it wasn’t going to help. Panic engulfed me at the thought of having to once again talk about my parents’ divorce, my gran’s death and my illogical fears.

Yet, as soon as she opened the door and welcomed me with a big smile it all melted away and I purged, cried and purged some more. We might have only spent an hour together, but I feel completely comfortable with her. I feel like I can tell her absolutely everything without feeling embarrassed or silly; I trust her implicitly. Akin to dating someone, I always feel you just know when you know with counsellors. And I know.

She might not be able to fix me or cure me or rid me of all my worries but I’m hopeful that she’s going to help me work through things and learn to enjoy life a bit more.

We can but try.

Does my bum look big in this?


I did vow when I first started writing this blog that I would try and bring a bit of humour and as yet I haven’t really delivered. So with that in mind I thought I’d write something about one of my biggest anxieties, that is, in the grand scheme of things, pretty ridiculous.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a post about my sizeable backside (translated as; my big arse) and the daily insecurities it brings.

It all started when I read a text a friend sent to another friend at secondary school which said “is lorry arse there?”. Knowing full well they were referring to me, despite their resignation, my complex began.

We can’t have been much older than 12 or 13 at the time and I’d never really given my appearance much thought. There wasn’t the same pressure that now engulfs teenage girls to look a certain way then. But this comment really seemed to light a spark that still burns today as I’m standing here on the train; self consciously yanking my top down for fear of the person sat behind me judging my ample rump.

A chubby, spotty, bushy eye browed teenager I most certainly was but so were all my friends so it didn’t seem to matter. But as soon as I started thinking that other people might be judging how I looked, I ran into a spot of bother.

I went through a phase of fainting and being sick on a daily basis; on the way to school, in school, you name it. I still don’t really know how it started but in hindsight I do think it had something to do with insecurities about the way I looked. I didn’t really tell anyone at the time, but the more I was sick and didn’t eat the better I felt as I started losing weight. And I vividly remember aforementioned friend telling me when I wore a pair of very tight stonewash Levi’s to a subsequent no-uniform day that my arse looked great. God it felt good.

Whilst the likes of J-Lo and The Kardashians have since made big bums fashionable it’s still most definitely something that blights me. It’s sad to think that a part of my body causes such great anxiety but it does and I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people. And whilst it sounds a bit frivolous, it can at times be really debilitating and tear jerking.

And boy does it make shopping difficult. Everything is judged on whether it makes my bum look big. Even handbags. And don’t even get me started about jeans. It’s nay on impossible to find a pair that fit well on the arse and waist. It’s a true case of first world problems really. Walking also has its problems. Whether it be walking out of room or walking past a group of people. I sometimes hold my breath as the thought of their scrutiny whilst I’m stationary let alone moving is overwhelming. In fact you’ll be hard pressed to find a picture of me where I’m side on too, the fear of ever being captured with it anywhere other than firmly (pardon the pun) behind me, unthinkable.

I mean of course I know that 99.9% of people haven’t given my arse a passing glance let alone a thought and that it’s not exactly on par with Kim K’s but I can’t help but picture that text in my head and wonder whether everyone thinks of me as ‘Michelle with the fat arse’ and instantly sit down or lean against something.

How to lose friends and alienate people…


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friends and how my mental health has affected my friendships over the past 5 years. It may be an old adage, but the notion of going through a hard time and therefore finding out who your real friends are is a very true one. As anyone who has struggled with depression and anxiety will tell you – not everyone understands it and not everyone sees it as a real thing and this can have a real impact on your friends. Some will rally around you, have the patience of saints and just be there for you, some will shy away not really knowing how to treat you and some, will quite frankly, just be dicks.

My circle of friends has never been huge and definitely  curtailed in the last few years and whilst at the time it isn’t very pleasant and adds to the feelings of hopelessness, in hindsight it was a positive thing. It means I now only surround myself with people who ‘get it’ and people who aren’t going to make me feel guilty for not being up to going out or for cancelling plans at the last minute. Getting out of bed and showering can be hard enough some days, no-one needs the added pressure of having someone take offence and be bitchy when they can’t make it out for a drink.

When I think about my friends and the people that I thought were my friends, there’s always one instance that sticks in my mind. As with most memories I have it’s not a particularly happy one but it is an important one that proved pivotal.

As previously mentioned I had a stint of self harming when I was first prescribed antidepressants. In my mind it started out relatively innocuously, but soon spiralled into something more serious and my arms were in quite a mess. I tried disguising them and hiding them for a long time but the humid Manchester summer made that quite difficult. At the time I wasn’t really seeing many people, I would make excuses and just spend my time at work or locked in my bedroom. As time went on I plucked up the courage to tell some people; people that at the time, I trusted. Weeks went by and I didn’t really do anything, but a bank holiday came around and a friend suggested I go out with her for a few drinks as a friend of ours was DJing. I’m not sure how it came about but I must have felt a bit more confident as I got dressed up and went out; parts of my arms were on show but it somehow didn’t matter. I remember feeling excited, I had some cocktails and was looking forward to seeing people after weeks of being shut away. We went to my favourite bar and met up with some other friends and my friend who was DJing. I remember going over to speak to her, she already knew about everything that was going on so I felt comfortable, and then, she grabbed my scarred arm and said “god, you’re such an emo aren’t you?”.

Everything seemed to change after that one comment. It made me feel like a freak. And I think that was one of the last times I ever spoke to her. I’d sort of looked up to her before that; beautiful, successful and popular she seemed to have it all. She’d always been really kind and I thought she understood, but the expression on her face when she grabbed my arm is something I will never forget.

I don’t blame her for what she said, I’m sure many people said worse, it was more the disappointment and shame she made me feel. It was the disappointment that someone I thought was my friend didn’t see how much effort it had taken me to even be out of my bedroom that night. In fact I don’t really look back on my last year in Manchester very fondly. It was the hardest time for me and the most lonely of times and the fact that I only have one real friend (lovely Lou) to take from it all speaks volumes. When it came down to it, all those people that I thought were friends weren’t and I blame myself a bit for that as I went through a period of just wanting to be in with all the cool people and threw myself into social circles that I wasn’t necessarily comfortable in. But, I’m a firm believer in life being a learning curve and it made me realise that it’s far better to have a small group of fabulous friends that you can count on than lots of flimsy friends who never really give anything back.

If you have a friend going through a hard time and living with anxiety, depression or any sort of mental illness; be kind to them. Be patient and really think before you speak. You can say something in a fleeting second but the scars can still be there years later.

The whole picture


Today’s been a day for panic and anxiety – nothing new there I hear you cry! But rather than the physical panic attacks or the anxiety about an event it’s been a sheer blind panic about how people perceive me and how I come across online and in my communications; Facebook exchanges/Instagram/texts/Whatsapp/Twitter etc. I’ve painstakingly gone through my interactions over the last few days and cringed. Whether it be  incessant posting and hashtagging, or comments I’ve made that I deem witty but others, well, don’t; it’s all made me feel a bit pathetic and desperate.

I’ve said this before; social media is great but when you mix it with a dose of anxiety, paranoia and general ‘feeling like shit about yourself’ it can get a bit difficult. No matter how many people say they don’t, we all compare ourselves to others online. We all try and portray the great and good in our lives; the arty and the fashionable, but when we see other people’s pictures/posts etc. we forget that they are in fact a skewed take on someone’s life and not, pardon the pun, the whole picture.

And then there’s the issue of writing something that, in your head, is really witty and cool that actually isn’t and the other person doesn’t get it so you have to over-explain with something equally un-witty and a plethora of emojis. Sometimes this is played out for everyone to see or worse still it’s in one of those wretched conversations where you see a “read” sign but no reply and you find yourself fretting about whether said person now thinks you’re weird/stupid/unhinged.

I also find I do that thing where I post because I’m feeling a bit down or a bit lonely – the thought of a few likes or better still a comment; seeming like the answer to everything. Some sort of validation.  But again usually it results in no interaction which results in more feelings of hopelessness and self deprecation and so on and so forth.

I long to be one of those people that are really breezy online, someone that doesn’t analyse every single word in a text or a message (and generally make ridiculous assumptions) and not feel the need to document every moment in my life with a picture (and copious filtering, amiright?). I long to just be able to go; “hey, I’m feeling a bit rubbish, fancy a chat?” rather than posting a Guardian article about someone else feeling that way and suggesting it’s “a good read” with the hope that someone might pick up on my subliminal messaging.