Lots and lots of reading

At the start of the year I set myself the challenge to read 50 books, so nearly 1 a week! I’ve been doing lots of reading, and have just finished book number 43. I really love reading and I think it has massive benefits for my mental health. I love being able to escape into a different world, and I always feel I learn so much from books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction. I also read on my Kobo e-reader before I go to sleep and have found this has really helped my sleep – I read until my eyes start to shut and then I can close the case and fall asleep. (Warning: this doesn’t work when reading a thriller – I have found myself still awake hours later because I just have to find out what happens!!)

So far this year, my favourite fiction books have been:

  • The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
  • Me before you – JoJo Moyes
  • Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman
  • Sweet little lies – Caz Frear
  • After the fire – Will Hill

And non-fiction:

  • Everything I know about love – Dolly Alderton
  • The life changing magic of not giving a fuck – Sarah Night

I am always looking for book recommendations, so let me know your favourites! I was also thinking about writing some book reviews, so let me know if that’s something you’d like to read!

Here is my current “to read” pile, and I also have “Get your shit together – Sarah Knight” waiting on my Kobo e-reader. Now the only decision is which to read next!


Ellie xx


Reading challenge: the halfway mark

I set myself the challenge to read 50 books this year. It’s a lot, but I read a lot so thought it would be doable! I am currently reading my 28th book of the year – I am just over half way through my reading challenge, and just over half way through the year… right on target!

I am taking book recommendations and trying to read things which I might not naturally pick up. I joined an online book club, so generally try to read the books they set, and then every time I hear a book recommendation I write it down, add it to my list of ‘to read’

I have a page in my bullet journal where I write down the book title and author, which month I read it in, and a star rating out of 5. I don’t think I’m a great reviewer though, as the vast majority have received 4 stars! (A few have 3 or less, and so far only 2 have got my 5 star rating!)

I wanted to make a list of some of my favourite books so far this year, and also to ask for any recommendations!

* * * * * * * *

My favourites so far (which I gave a 5 star review) are:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Obviously I’m not going to give any plot spoilers, but this was a beautifully written book with good pace. I could not stop myself reading it. I haven’t seen the film, so I didn’t know the story.

The way she builds the characters is incredible, leading you to form judgements and then throwing in a curveball that changes your mind here and there through the book.

I am looking forward to reading more of Paula Hawkins’ writing, she brought out a book called Into the Water in 2017. It’s going on my list!

* * * * * * * *

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I am gutted that this is Gail Honeyman’s debut book because I am desperate to read more of her writing. It really draws you in, I laughed and I cried and felt all the feels.

I have recommended this book so many times already (only read it in May), and started recommending it when I was only half way through, which to me is the sign of a pretty exceptional book.

When asked what the book is about, it’s hard to explain – it’s just about a woman and her life, but it is written so well, the character feels so real and it’s all so vivid. It’s the kind of book where you are completely immersed in the story, it becomes real, and then suddenly you come back to reality and realise you are sat on the tube and missed your stop!

There is a particular plot twist which I got to one night, I was almost falling asleep before I read it… AND THEN SUDDENLY I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO AWAKE IN MY LIFE! At this point I decided I would have to finish the book, as there was no way I’d be getting back to sleep any time soon.

* * * * * * * *

I have been reading a few mental health/wellbeing related books too this year, as I have an interest both personally and professionally in mental health. I like to read them so I can recommend books to my clients that I have actually read rather than just off reviews!

I am always looking for new suggestions of books to add to my list, so please let me know what you’ve been reading and can recommend!


Ellie xx

This Blog

I started this blog when things were bad, I was feeling low. I posted quite frequently, and built up a network of blogs which I read everyday. It helped me feel better when I felt low, and helped me get some perspective from people who really understood. But now I’m too busy to spend all these hours on WordPress. I still read the blogs that I follow, but sometimes it takes me a while to get to posts. Sometimes I don’t read every single post, sometimes I miss things. And I’m sorry about that, but I am still here, I’m still listening (reading.)

Now I don’t feel like writing that much. I feel like I don’t have a lot to say most of the time, which is to say I don’t have that much to complain about at the moment. It’s a good thing, but I don’t want to stop this blog. But it doesn’t really do anything anymore. I keep saying I’ll do this and I’ll do that, but I always procrastinate my way through things, so it takes a long time for any of it to happen.

So I’m just saying – I’m still here, but not as much. Just bare with me. I know there aren’t that many that read my blog anymore anyway, but for those who do, thank you for being there, it means a lot. Maybe when I have some time I’ll have more to say, maybe once I get on with this mindfulness (if I ever get round to it) then I’ll have more to say.

I don’t want to just disappear, but I don’t want to keep writing posts like this which just say that I don’t know what to say.

Finally caught up!

Ellie is finally back up to date with blog reading!! I managed to get nearly 2 weeks behind at some point and I didn’t want to miss any out, so what better to do on a Friday evening than read lots of blog posts? And then I thought I haven’t posted in a while either – I really want to sort this out!

I’m approaching 2 weeks since I arrived in Germany now and things are still going reasonably well. At times I miss home, S, friends etc. and at times all the new and different things can be overwhelming, particularly trying to understand and make myself understood in German, but all in all I’m ok, things are good.

But although I am a lot better than I was months ago, I know that I still need to look after myself. So tomorrow, I am finally going to start the mindfulness book which I bought a while ago. I plan to do it everyday (or as much as I can anyway) because I really do think the mindfulness helped me when I was doing it with A.

(Although actually, having said that, I’m going away from Monday – Friday so I won’t be able to write or do my mindfulness then!)

I feel like I don’t have much to say/write anymore and I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just tired from all of these early mornings, or maybe it’s because there’s so much in my head that it’s all jumbled up and I don’t know how to make sense of it all.

This is turning into a strange rambling post so it’s probably time to stop writing soon. Maybe I will try to do some creative writing over the weekend while I have time – maybe a poem or something.

One of those days

It’s been one of those days – unproductive, tiring and frustrating.

Today was a revision day. I have an exam on Tuesday and Wednesday. These 2 exams contain the most content out of all of my exams this year, and well done uni…they are on consecutive days.

This morning wasn’t too bad – got through a lot of statistics and I now have notes for all of that module – And better than that, I even understand most of it. The stats exam is on Wednesday. 

Then this afternoon it was onto social psychology. I find that module really interesting, and it was a lent term module so it wasn’t learned that long ago, I thought that would make revision ok, but I was wrong. Owl (friend from uni) came over and we were working together all afternoon and evening. She arrived at about 2:15 and didn’t leave until 9:15, we had about an hour break for dinner and were working solidly except that. But… we only got through one lecture. In 6 hours. So unproductive. My brain hurts, I don’t understand any of it and my concentration levels are shocking. 

Maybe I tried to do too much in one day. But that’s the only option. Today was one of those afternoons when you stop, put your hands up and say – right, it’s not working, I’ll write today off and try again tomorrow. But you can’t do that when the exam is the day after tomorrow. There is no more time. 

So now I’m stressed. STILL don’t know anything about social psychology and I have to learn the rest of the module tomorrow. Plus they want extra reading to include in the essay… are they crazy?! 

The stress is all building up and now I have a headache. I’m starting to panic and I don’t know any way round this. Tomorrow HAS to be a productive day, I have no choice. But the more pressure there is the more stressed I will be.

I need to calm down but I can’t. I really wanted to do well on this exam, I thought it was my best chance at a decent grade in these exams (except stats) and now I guess I’ll be lucky to scape a pass.

But to me there’s no point in passing a module if it’s not a 2:1 or first. A 2:2 or third is no good to me, so it may as well be a fail*.

I know I’m stressing myself out more by worrying, but that’s what Ellies do best – worry.

So I’m giving up for tonight. I want to give up entirely, but I can’t. I feel like in everything I do I have to do well, I have to prove I’m not a failure. I don’t know who I’m proving it to. Is it to the ex who made me feel like I’m not good enough? Is it to my parents who always push me to do well? Is it to S to prove I’m not nothing? Or is it to myself? because I see myself as a failure and all I’ve ever had to prove myself wrong on that is academic success.

Causal bit of self analysis there…

Anyway, I’m going to sleep and hoping to wake up with a bright and attentive brain, ready to learn all of the information in the world**.

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

*I know this is not actually true, blame my perfectionist tendencies. And what I really mean by this is that I can’t go into clinical psychology with less than a (high) 2:1.

**I feel this is only a minor exaggeration.

Oh dear…

Today I started trying to make a revision timetable (I’m not sure why I’m bothering, I’ll never stick to it anyway!) 

I guess it’s good to have a plan though.

But it’s made me realise how much there is to learn – way too much!

For 1 exam, I can get away with learning 2 out of 3 topics, which is by no means easy but not quite so bad as learning the entire syllabus, but for others I have to learn EVERYTHING. There is an essay question (pick 1 out of 4) and short answer questions (pick 3 out of 4) meaning you can’t do targeted revision… damn!

I’ve made a list of the topics I’ve got to learn and it’s a bit daunting to say the least! And now I’m procrastinating by blogging instead of revising… oops!

At least most of my exams are quite spread out, so I guess I’m lucky there! 

And just think, come the 28th May I will be free from exams for over a year (because of my year abroad!) 

I am very thankful at this moment that I am feeling much better than I have been for most of this academic year. Although the amount of work seems daunting and scary, and my motivation levels are not as high as they should be, I am in a much better position now than I was a couple of months ago, and I think I can do this.

I may not be able to do as well as I want to, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I’ve had enough of letting depression beat me, and I feel like I can fight it. I’m so glad I’ve got my CBT as it really seems to be helpful (even if it does result in A LOT of crying!) so hopefully by the end of my CBT I will be feeling much better.

I know there is still a long way to go. For example last night I walked home from my friend’s house (owl) and got genuinely scared by a car park ticket machine! I jumped and gasped, thinking it was a person! The rest of the walk home I was hyper-aware of everything, and anxiety levels were high, who knows why! I felt pretty silly after, it (obviously) didn’t even move and it made me jump!! 

But overall things are pretty alright at the moment. And I’m back to blogging which is nice – I’ve really missed it!

I’ve caught up on a lot of reading but I don’t have the time to read over a month’s worth of blogs unfortunately, so there are some bits I’ve missed, but now I’m up to date, hopefully I’ll be able to keep up better now!!

Anyway, enough Ellie rambles for now… back to do some work I think!! 

Lots of love,
Ellie xxx

Busy being busy!

I still haven’t got back into my blogging routine yet as everything seems to be go go go all the time at the moment!

I currently have a friend staying with me for a few days, and then I’m off back to Lancaster for the summer term! I’m hoping then I will get into a routine and will be able to catch up with all of your blogs and start writing regularly again.

I suppose it’s a good thing that I’ve been busy. Busy doing some good things, and actually enjoying some things too! Things are definitely on the up, and I can’t believe how much better I feel than I did a few months ago (although there’s still a long way to go).

I had the nicest evening with the boyfriend the other day. We went out for dinner and then came home and watched lots of videos of funny animals (because we are that cool) and it was nice to just spend time together and chat and just be happy.

Today I have been showing my friend the sights of London – big Ben, Whitehall, Trafalgar square, Covent Garden, and of course – Oxford Street! And I managed to refrain from buying anything on our shopping trip! 

I’ve been putting off all the important things I should be doing at the moment, like CBT stuff and revision because they remind me that things are not all lovely and happy. Thinking about depression stuff kind of makes me sad because I remember that actually I’m quite a long way away from being “normal”/”happy” because I’m still massively affected by flash backs, nightmares, low self-esteem etc. but I know I need to confront these issues rather than hide from them which has been my method of choice for a long time – and clearly it hasn’t been helpful!

Just thought I’d do a little update. Very disappointed in myself for being so inconsistent with my blogging! I want to get back into the routine of reading everyone’s blogs each evening and writing everyday (or close to it) but sometimes life gets in the way!!

I’ll be back soon!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

Like a completely different person

I am back. Back in England, and back to my blog!

Everything has been go go go for quite a while so haven’t been around much at all! I have a lot of blogs to catch up with, which I’ll be doing this week – I haven’t forgotten about you all! 

I got back from Germany today. I flew out for a few days to stay with my friend (sheep) who is doing her year abroad this year, in the region of Hessen. We visited Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Wiesenbaden, as well as looking around the town where she is living (Bensheim). For the first time in a long time, I just let all my troubles go for a few days, and just enjoyed myself. It was great and this is the closest to relaxed I’ve felt in a very long time! 

We walked up a massive hill in Bensheim, and you can see for miles around from the top. It is very quiet and peaceful there, and I couldn’t help thinking that it would be a good spot to do some writing!! I hope that I can find somewhere like that wherever I end up on my year abroad next year! 🙂

I was talking to Sheep a lot about how things are, and she said when she thinks about how I was at Christmas, it was like I’m a completely different person. And it made me think. And it made me realise, I’m feeling more like me. And so maybe it’s true – recovery sneaks up on you, and it’s gradual, very gradual. But *touch wood* things are getting better.

Sure, I still have down days, I still have moments of high anxiety, but they are not every day anymore (at the moment anyway) and so I’m going to enjoy these better times while they are here, and try to remind myself of them when I am feeling low. 

Now I’m back I’ve got to get on with some work – I have a lab report to write and lots of revision to do. It’s not going to be easy or fun, but right now, I feel like I can do it. And that’s a huge change in itself! Also, seeing how happy my friend is on her year abroad, and spending some time in Germany made me feel more optimistic for my year abroad, and now I’m quite excited (still terrified as well!) I was surprised that I could understand a lot more German than I expected, and even managed a few conversations myself which was good practice! 🙂

I really need to start doing my CBT homework too… I am meant to spend about an hour each evening reflecting on thoughts/feelings/behaviour, but I’ve been so busy that it has escaped my head for a couple of weeks!

I find myself wondering why I am feeling better. Is it the medication? Is it the CBT? Is it a combination of the two? Or is it something different altogether? After a lot of consideration, I came to the conclusion that I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m feeling better, the cause for that doesn’t particularly matter.

I’m not completely better. I’m not under the illusion that there won’t be more down times, and I am not claiming that I am miraculously no longer depressed, but things are better, and that’s progress. It will be interesting to see how things are now I’m back at home, and then when I go back to uni. I am going to try and write my blog (and in my little CBT book) often so I can see how things change over time.

Going to get some sleep now, and I’ll be back tomorrow.

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

End of term!

By some miracle it’s here… the end of term!

I didn’t finish all my coursework – had to get an extension on 1 essay, but managed the rest.

This week I had to hand in a lab report, a project and a language portfolio, do a german presentation and a statistics exam… so I’m pretty glad that I managed to do all of that, even if I couldn’t manage the essay as well.

And now it’s the easter holidays. Back to London tomorrow, for a month of “holiday”.

Unfortunately I can’t really take much time off, there’s this essay to write, another lab report and revision to start… but term 2 of year 2 is done, and for now at least I am going to take a bit of time for myself!

So tomorrow I will start playing catch up with reading blogs. I may not manage to read every single post, seeing as I’ve missed LOADS, but I’ll try 🙂

I have quite a lot of write about, like my CBT session this week, anger, relationship stuff and general stuff that’s been going on, but I’m too tired right now.

Tonight, instead of going out with my housemates, I decided to stay in my (nice warm) house and watch Don’t tell the bride on BBC iplayer, relax and get an early night.

I am proud to say I didn’t give in to peer pressure and subject myself to another bad night out. But after the last time when I ended up running out of the club in panic, I decided it would be more sensible to have a night in (even if that makes me boring).

So looking forward to reading everyone’s blogs, I’ve really missed WP while I’ve been away!!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

One week to go

Thought I’d check in as I haven’t been blogging so much recently, like I said, too much work!

Hope everyone is doing ok here, and once I am done with my work I will catch up on all the posts I’ve missed.

There is 1 week left of term. This time next week, I should have: handed in 4 pieces of coursework, done a german presentation, done a statistics exam and finished all lectures/seminars for 2nd year…

It’s going to be a close call and I don’t know if I will get all of that done. But I’m going to give it a damn good try. I decided I’m sick of not being able to do my work, so I’m ploughing through anyway. I probably won’t get as good grades as I am hoping for, but I’m doing my best, and right now, my best isn’t fantastic but that’s the best I can do.

I am saying this cautiously, as I don’t want to jinx things, but things seem to be looking up. I am still having lows, but also having days that are ok, good even, this week. The psychiatrist said that once I start feeling better it will be gradual, there will gradually become more good days and less bad days until ta da – you’re better!

There is definitely a long way to go before I feel better, but progress is being made. I don’t know if it’s the CBT, or the medication, a mixture of the two, or that this week has randomly been a bit better, but the point is there is hope, and things will change.

I’ll be back soon!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx