Void Fillers - Meditation

Monday, 27 March 2017

You breath in through your nose, out through your nose and you focus on the point between your nostrils and your mouth (the bit everyone coats in too much highlighter) and that's how you fix your life. Apparently. That's meditation, anyway.
I'm at a stage in my olympic stretch pool of questionable sanity where I'm willing to dive into just about anything else to splash some of the relentlessly overflowing deep end.
Go to bed with an amethyst under my pillow? Sure. Drink Turmeric in the morning? Dose me up. Go on a 10 day meditation course to simultaneously try and impress a boy I thought I was in love with for much too long and to stop myself from waking up with hot sweats of panic for no apparent reason? Sign me the hell up. 
So I did, I signed the hell up, drank the tea, brought my crystal, handed all form of communication to the outside world to an old woman called Virginia and promised to engage in eight hours of meditation for ten days under the teaching of a man called Roger, an eery copy of Bill Gates if Bill Gates had a Swiss accent. Oh and no talking, and no thoughts about sex, and no drinking or smoking or cowering desperately away from the things that make you deeply miserable. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

I arrived in Heddington, a village I imagine Americans to conjure when asked what the British countryside is, with the exact sort of first day of school nerves I'd dreaded. I was hungover and poor and depressed and as some sort of life default, heartbroken. (It's going well, isn't it?) But ignoring that, I'd arrived with a sense of determination that scribbled 'I swear to god if you don't know how to shut off your brain and float around a Pagoda by next Monday then you might as well not go on.' on the first page of a blank notebook, that meant in some sort of totally melodramatic way - this meditating thing had to work. I had also, like any self respecting 21 year old who had recently adopted 'poet' into her twitter and instagram bio, gone hoping to find love under a cherry tree having exchanged broken glances across a meditation hall so I could come home with purpose and sell the film rights to my new loved up, meditative life.
What I didn't want was to come home and write about realising peace or about how startled I was when I realised my true addiction to swiping notifications and my relighted realisation for Veganism. But here I am, much worse than Tommy on Tinder wearing a Singha Beer wife beater stroking a doped up tiger on his gap year ready to tell you about how I almost found myself and how heartily I recommend it as a form of void filling.

"Oh, another one of them, are you?" Smiled the taxi driver at Chippenham train station as she packed my case into the boot of her car and scrunched up the address I'd given her into the creases of her lids. "Not, like, really, though. Just, er, I've been sent here." I lied. "Sent here? Drugs or alcohol?""A boy."  I whimpered. She spent the journey as my new adoptive mother, soothing my near hysteria every time the satnav suggested we were edging closer to our destination. If I'd offered once to pay her double the fair to drive me back to the station and not judge me, I'd begged a thousand times.
We arrived and she sped down the gravel drive forgetting to unpack my city confidence and within minutes my phone was prized from me and locked in a tin safe. I made my monetary donation, pocketed a packet of Vitamin C capsules and accepted, slowly, that the next ten days were no longer, truly, my own.
I was shown to a chocolate box cottage that I was to share with 13 other ladies from Russia, Australia, India, America, Columbia and a tiny refugee community in Scotland. I felt the loneliest I've ever known- thrown into a silent sea of strangers, guessing their names from a shower rota with no idea that over a succession of emotionally exhausting days we would become an unconventional sisterhood that did everything to make sure everyone was alright. Strepsils, contraband cigarettes, tampons and all. Granted we'd all make questionable lay-ladies but we were to be a resilient and mad bunch of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds. Some of us were more committed than others.. but myself and a woman called Sarah curated a bunch of stragglers who I shared some of the most epic and hilarious adventures with. 

The first morning was testing in its total alien nature - I was given routine, I had places to be and I had to work out what people do before they go to bed and when they wake up that wasn't checking Twitter. 
The smell of heady indian spices floated from the kitchen at 3am and bustled us out of our beds to our first meditation sitting at 4:30am. We sat in six rows of eight facing a clock that told the wrong time and built nests out of yoga blocks and polyester blankets and pillows. This was to be it. This was now home. Back crunched, mind racing, remember to breath, remember to not think about remembering to breath, home.

The days that followed increased in anxiety as suddenly my internal commentary of skepticism dwindled away, it was much easier when I thought what I was doing was ridiculous and that everyone around me was weird but as I learnt the basics of meditation and grew relaxed with my fellow inmates, it all felt very real. It all felt like it was probably going to start working and that I was to accept that my way of life at home was about to get a kick up the arse to change drastically upon returning. Thankfully, before it did reach that peak, I met Sarah.

Sarah and I were drawn to each other from the get go. We started sitting next to each other at breakfast and would often choose to wrap ourselves up and brave the outside patio to drink our tea in the morning. For the first three days we managed to get by with just a smile. 
"SHIT!!!!!" She screamed, under her breath, as a run of hot water knocked out of the side of her tall tumbler glass onto her icy hand.
"SHIT!!!!" I screamed back, she was screaming! We're not allowed to talk!
"OH SHITTING HELL." We both settled on.
She grabbed my wrist and pulled me up and we power walked into the gardens, besides ourselves with giggles, to stand shaking in a bamboo tree. We had broken our noble silence and Christ alive was it the most liberating feeling. Our initial instincts told us to hug each other. 
We cuddled and exchanged stories, she was 47 and lived in Devon and was trying to suss a toxic relationship, I told her my current fate and agreed that whilst we probably shouldn't do this again, if we needed each other, this was our spot. 
We returned there most days, calculating our timing to a criminal degree, sneaking out biscuits we'd stolen from the larder at the back of the kitchen. I regretted in parts that I'd not kept silent but the warmth she gave me moulded itself in to a lesson of its own and I don't think I'd have got through each day without her. Other women cottoned on and before we had a chance to consummate that guilt with a trip outside of the grounds (also, totally forbidden), we'd built a den with garden chairs and pushed back the bush to allow for additional revellers. 
We had shape shifted the International Meditation Centre to the Broken Hearted Women's Club to St. Trinian's in a matter of days.

Meditating became more powerful. Thoughts and feelings I was scared would rise started to flash in my rested brain and I began to understand how to compartmentalise them, little flatpack boxes built themselves and ushered past anxieties to nestle inside of them, all I had to work out now was how to sellotape them shut and who the cheapest removal company was to come and collect them.

There is nothing more dramatically sobering than sharing pain and learning with others through what had to be mostly non verbal communication. As the gong rang at 4am every morning and we huddled into the meditation hall, swaddled in blankets and morning mist, we all took the time to check each other for glassy eyes and swollen, tear blotched cheeks. It usually took only one of us to be clawing at a particularly difficult day in our minds for the whole group to feel the weight of it and it was because of that we all had to muster up courage much more wantingly than we'd signed up for. 
Some days you couldn't stop yourself from laughing hysterically and others it felt unfair you had to leave your bed, but it was those extremes, such painfully full emotions, that had been missing from our normal lives, were making us so miserable.For the first three days I sat and begged myself to cry, I wanted it all to come rushing out of me so I could find some light to dish out when needed without the constant pull back of wondering when I'd admit to myself what was so wrong, but it took its time and when the tears did come it felt euphoric. I have never cried before in the way that I did after seven consecutive days of silent soul searching, it was ugly and snotty and unstoppable like previous tears but it was through absence of pain. I felt as though I was shedding all of the nonsense I'd poisoned myself with for so long, that with every heavy thudding chest pain I was releasing bad memories and that they were no longer mine to own. I was handing back the guilt and sadness sodden situations had gifted me as souvenirs for mine and others mistakes that I'd clung onto for so long.

Sarah didn't last the full ten days, she couldn't find the break of agitation, so she snuck out one evening leaving a letter under my pillow. I managed to catch her just in time, which was just as well, as her car wouldn't start and she had to call a friend to come and tow here away... without anyone realising. It was all more fodder for how mad what we were experiencing was and at the time felt like instant karma finally getting us back for nicking a packet of prawn crackers that afternoon. 
Her exit was the perfect time for me to crack on with the last few days of switching off but instead I leant that time to remembering that during my stay, I had made a glimmer of a suggestion towards the romance chapter I'd prayed for. The boy, D, in the kitchen. We had shared secret smiles and would face each other during dinner time, one dinner being the last two, both in the hysteria stage of the course, howling with laughter that reverberated around the dining hall until one of the volunteers came in to tell us off for breaking rules. On the final day we were allowed to speak to each other, which fell as a built up with anticipation, awkward hello and goodbye as he bowed his head into a taxi. I thought perhaps I'd get his details from Roger but he was quick to tell me he had gone to Burma for 17 days to finish his practice with the monks. Bugger. 

I left those ten days feeling new. Feeling as though the feelings I'd felt previously, whilst normal and necessary, didn't have to tarnish everything, the angst and sadness was all but chemical misery and potential poetry - it just needn't be forever, even though it often feels like it might be, I know now to remind myself it doesn't. Sure as hell I missed drinking, the bar on the train home was the first to receive some damage, but it was my phone that hurt me the worst. The pocket grab every time I got up to do something, thinking in internalised Tweets, wondering what events I'd been invited to on Facebook... what if I had a Raya match that was about to expire??? It was much more relentless than the thought of having a glass of Malbec and a Marlboro light. I thought drinking was my worst habit, it is after all a physical addiction, but it turned out that not only was it not that or simple self indulgence, it was being so reliant on my phone for a momentary pick me up, for not allowing myself to feel things without distraction.
I meditate twice a day still and long for a month I can justify ten days out to go back.
Turn your bloody phone off for a bit. Learn to meditate. Give your brain a moment off from all the distraction so it can master your pain into teaching.

Void Fillers - Miso Sad Soup

Monday, 13 March 2017

It's me, Charly Cox, your friendly neighbourhood manic depressive, back on the internet!
I've dealt with depression for the best part of my adult life, the plight of mood swings and sad strung showers, the galaxies of carbon coloured fog speckled with high reaching stars that suggest that maybe it's not forever, the lying, the embarrassment, the anxiety, the sleeplessness of it, the void.
The void is my least favourite flavour of depression.
It's the bit where your brain feels lazy, it's too tired to feel sad.
Your heart is too heavy to beat too fast, your appetite isn't here nor there, everything's just a bit bland and my god it's boring. When will it bloody end?
I write this to you, from exactly there, the void, working out how to fill it.

I've got quite good over the last few years learning what works, what definitely doesn't and what helps season even the most seasoned pro's sad salad. So I wanted to revisit and share the recipes, the books, the musicians and the artists - the snippets of overheard advice and the prescribed bits humanised, in hope that it might get me out of this rut and help anyone that's slumped in a similar stupor.

This is the first 'Void Filler' and the first recipe. It's simple, it's delicious, it's quite a good baby step.

Last year I made the soul crushing decision to quit chicken nuggets. I loved chicken nuggets with a gargantuan heart I've never pressed against another human, ever. It was immeasurably difficult.
But slowly, once my McCravings subsided, I began a process of radically changing the way I thought about food.
I am a particularly talented emotional eater, I'm the cookie monster of a potato waffle and white bread sandwiches stuffed with pasta and baked beans variety, desperately trying to fill a void.
Instead of plugging it, that expanse of terrified emotion would always grow larger and more complex because I'd hate my body more and more, my skin would erupt with craters and I'd feel exhausted from carb overload.

So I learnt to cook.
I got excited about food and what it can do, I read up on ingredients that 'scientifically' make you happier and, just like nearly every other white middle class girl on the internet, I'm going to tell you - my switch to a, gulp, mostly vegan diet... was revolutionary. Ironically, 'clean eating' was the dirtiest thing I used to be able to think of and now in a measured way instead of becoming something I always hated, it's helped to stop me hating myself at all.
I'm not restrictive, I'm just mindful of how I'm feeling.
If I'm in a good place - a potato waffle, a whole bar of Galaxy and a chicken nugget isn't going to spark a chemical imbalance, but if I'm edging towards darkness, I know it's not going to pull me back from it either. (Friendly side note - I am militant about vitamins etc. etc. etc. when I am sad and don't recommend chucking yourself in head first if you know you're not prepared for the slog because it could make you feel worse. This isn't me screaming MEAT IS MURDER it's me nudging you in the ribs across the table with a glass of wine in my hand smiling 'Mate, did you know mushrooms and their selenium and vitamin D overload might make your brain fog a bit less shit?')

Cooking has become this fundamental piece in my mental jigsaw, the sense of achievement when you master a dish, whether you have the stomach to eat it or not, is a satisfaction I've often found quite difficult to attain from anything else when all I want to do is stay in bed.
Miso Soup in its silky, hot and salty richness, was the first thing I began with and I come back to it often.
The health benefits are teetering on decadent for someone who doesn't feel worth nourishing and that's exactly why it took to be a form of afternoon meditation I obey when I start cry-watching daytime TV in my pants.
The process is mesmeric, soothing, there's little mess, there's little instruction, there's very little to it but a shit ton to take from it, like a giant hot ladle of it.
It fixes hangovers and heartbreak and in the right Anthropologie bowl - makes a great instagram that suggests you've got your shit together and haven't been back-flat-on-the-floor, toes-swaying-in-the-air, screeching to Dido 'White Flag'.

I never make it the same way and Deliciously Ella need not quake in her Birkenstocks over this recipe but here's a dish that I make for myself when stuff gets too much. This helps to fill the void.

  • 4-6 Mushrooms (of your choice) (it's good for your sadness so adjust measurement dependant on feelings)
  • Brown Miso Paste
  • A handful of rice noodles 
  • 1 large spring onion
  • 3 handfuls of Kale/spinach/leafy green stuff (it's good for your sadness so adjust measurement dependant on feelings)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Coriander 
  • Sesame seeds
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cubes of tofu 
  • Soya sauce
  • Ginger
  • Sesame Oil
  • Salt/Pepper/Hot sauce
Chop the mushrooms, tofu, garlic and spring onion, throw it in a saucepan with a teaspoon of sesame oil and let them soften, stick the kettle on - have a cuppa in one hand and mix a jug of miso paste (a hefty tablespoon) in the other with enough water to cover what's in the saucepan. Pour the miso stock over the mushrooms, tofu, onions and garlic and chuck in the rice noodles and leafy greens as well as the grated ginger, soya sauce and then some Worcestershire sauce (trust me on that one), in whatever amounts you think tastes good. Coriander and sesame seeds on top once served if you're up to it. Most of the time I'm not. Go back to the sofa, put Dido on pause and enjoy.

How do you fill the void? Let me know in the comments below and let's help each other out. x

For the love of god do not put veet on your face

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

I'm usually quite sensible with keyboard shortcuts.
I've grown from amateur 'CNTRL C' to graduating millennialism with an extensive and proud knowledge of four button photoshop wizardry.
I used that knowledge in vain last night, throwing out a 'CNTRL F' with little to no caution to the wind on a friends vlog to search for my name to see if anyone had mentioned me in the comments below.
They had. It was moderately horrific.

I'm used to the 'she's fat', 'her laughs irritating', 'I'm not homophobic but she does look like a lesbian' jibes - they tickle me more than they taunt me because the lack of originality is so tiresome that it does all just feel like a bit of a lame joke.
As though my comfort had a scent, someone had clearly sniffed out they'd need to find a more creative dig.
They dug, they found, they posted.
'Christ, I was so distracted by the bird who looks like Bradley Wiggins.'

I'd never really noticed the two sizeable furry face carpets that trailed much longer than the tips of my ear lobe.
Unsurprisingly, of all the places to find self consciousness it hadn't been at a perfectly natural piece of my hairline.
But I inspected it, twirled it, mentally measured it and after a thirty minute trawl examining other girls faces at a profile angle (and then my own with a picture of Wiggins placed next to it) the idiocy started to eat me up in a way I'm usually fairly competent at batting away.
I couldn't forget it. I tried, I really did, yet it spiralled into a much longer time of wondering how many other people had seen me with my hair up and sniggered or worse, gagged a bit.

I then committed a sin equally as cardinal to reading about yourself online.
I put a thick slick of Veet on my face to veto the aforementioned issue.
You don't have to imagine too tryingly as to how that worked out for me.

Initially the thrill of such a definitive and ill advised bit of hair removal reminded me a lot of the time my best friend aged six fought with a razor as a rebellious infant in a bid to shave both of her eyebrows off. I loved the progressiveness of it. I thought she was way ahead of our time. Maybe I'd recapture that.
Forgetting that I was also six at the time...
And she didn't have to go to work the next day...
With no eyebrows.

I had to go to work today with two scratchy acid marks that were no longer carpets but abrasive doormats.

What lunacy. 
The lunacy of feeling the need to spot a totally inoffensive part of someone's body and make a public derogatory comment.
The lunacy of letting an anonymous idiot haunt you.
We all make mistakes but two that are pretty easy to avoid are one: being a prick online and two: finding weight in comments that are only there to rile and not nourish you.

The main lesson learned from this is as ever:
Putting any sort of  emotional or physical action towards what people think of you on the internet is not healthy. Not healthy for your frazzled off follicles or indeed your psyche.
The other lesson, for the intention of which I write this piece solely:

For the love of god do not put Veet on your face. 

Is internet dating turning us into gross monsters?

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

[photo by Dunja Opalko]

Oh poor, dwindling, non existent and depressing love life - how you keep me young and alive.
Your tantrums that turn from do-or-do-not dinner dates to where-the-F-are-my-dinner-invites enthral and entice me.
Or they did, when either of those were complaints to worry about, now it's much more complex.

There are many things that infuriate me at the moment and they culminate to a long list of lustlessness that the thought of welcoming anything into my life, man or indeed fluffy tailed dog, leaves me feeling on the most part- nonplussed.
Leading that loin leashing pack of date defying destruction is the app Raya.
Up until two months ago Raya was the name of a beautiful friend of mine that I'd always imagined to run around the forest singing to butterflies and writing poetry under an apple tree.
Now, sadly, Raya is known to me as the name of an exclusive dating app that has an algorithm which analyses your instagram following, creative career and good looks.
For the conscious majority of my post adolescent life (it's only been a year, take it easy) I like to think I've lived with strong morals and a sense of self that is as complimentary and kind to myself and womankind as possible. This version of me dissipated when it heard about Raya, conveniently.

I have always professed I prefer personality to looks and that I'd never judge a book by its cover (I still stand by that, even more so after writing this) but this app really caught me off guard and like the cat I was curious and hoped the creme I caught could be Harry Styles wanting to fall in love with me or something vaguely tantalising to cheer up the fact I've not had a date since November.

I applied for Raya with very little knowledge of what could ensue other than a friend of mine ending up going on a date with that girl who was in Kick Ass and an article circulating that Zac Efron was 'probably' on it. Any sort of probability for me was enough.
'Excellent,' I thought 'The opportunity to date someone who didn't go to High Wycombe Grammar School and is now a BT engineer.' Cruel and crass yes, true and honest, also yes.
I paid my £5.99, stuck myself on the waiting list and waited... three days.
Three days and £5.99 is a lot less time and money I've spent sitting on the Soho House membership list and arguably, I'd be doing exactly the same thing there but with an expensive glass of wine, so I didn't really care. Moral obligations now only a PO code on the end of a Paypal invoice.

Upon acceptance I hoped to find exactly that. A hoard of Joe Jonas' messaging wanting to fly me to California for a weekend of dinner, kissing and talking about how great and masterful our social influence is on the world...or whatever a first date with him is supposed to be like. (I did genuinely swipe past Joe Jonas, it was less exciting than I'd hoped.)
But instead I was left feeling like the ugliest little chipolata sausage that nobody wanted to prize out of the package and BBQ. I felt scrutinised and unfunny, chubby and unintelligent.
I felt, unsurprisingly in a sea of Z list celebrities, very normal.
A normal girl that should be swiping past Dan from High Wycombe Grammar that wants to talk about his long hard day wiring broadband boxes.
To be fair on Dan, he probably holds much better chat than any of the 'cool creatives' with nigh on 1.5million instagram minions that I'd matched with or even better than the unheard of DJ's and the ex baby daddy's of boy-bands makeup artists. It really was dull. If you want 'Netflix and chill' I'd rather you asked upfront so I could decline politely instead of having to decipher a wrongly quoted Oscar Wilde line that likens my uploaded selfies to that of a 19th century heroin.
In fact, why had having 30 thousand instagram followers suddenly given me a pedestal to stand on that suggested I was miles better than Dan? That me and all these other guys, stood on our self-crafted pedestals embellished by some tech-smart men in silicon valley, would have better conversation or more in common shouting at each other on our platforms than Dan and I might have had sat in a pub in the Chilterns? We are all just sacks of thoughts and desires, after all.

The level of egotism I'd grown was gross and almost unfathomable for a girl who's always been incredibly self-conscious and never felt worthy of even accepting a drink.
Now I was this weird ring leader whipping boys into my digital den expecting them to think I was just as funny and as cool as their actress counterparts and take me on holiday and when they didn't I was probably mentally slagging Tinder Dan off for not trying hard enough.

My skepticism took a break when I matched with a guy whom was in a band I'd adored for a good while. I'd always imagined we'd get on well but front row never seemed to be the right time to propose a drink or rattle on about my favourite books. This was it.
I endured twenty four hours of sarcastic grief, a lost sense of charm that swam alongside the nonchalance of a fourteen year old boy who'd just discovered his penis.
Whilst my exploits on Tinder and Happn had been mostly uneventful, they were always seemingly sweet and good intentioned, no one had ever told me they liked to 'put a pipe on their exhaust and sit in their car' for fun to see what sort of sadistic reaction it'd gain.
I started to miss being asked if my dad was a thief, if it hurt when I fell, or even something as brash an unimaginative as 'you're fit'.
Jesus wept, what a depressing sort of nostalgia.
Nearly as depressing as re-sorting my photos on the app wondering if the ones I'd uploaded weren't saying enough about my personality or attracting the right kind of guys.
It's a wonder I'm not seeing a counsellor about this or that anyone of our generation has an iota of self esteem that's not completely and utterly insane.

It's not that all guys on Raya are arseholes, I wouldn't know, I've only spoken to a few.
But churning anyone with an ego big enough to sign themselves up for 'premium dating' (admittedly myself included) into a pot of other egos, batting each other off on social following, good looks and what sort of ex reality star freelance work they do isn't going to bring out the best in anyone.
It's enticing, it's the most rough traded and nonconstructive compliment you could give anyone to download. 'Here! You're famous on the internet! Keep away from the fans and the riffraff! By the way an algorithm has decided that you are passably good looking and your social statistics are sexy! Now procreate!'
It's like going to the popular kids party at school, it sounds great but it's desperately depressing and inflated on the inside. I'd know, I held a few of them, with the deepest and utmost regret to my sanity.
Sure, it's not brilliant being recognised on a dating app (it's only happened to me twice, both times just as mortifying, alas not life ending) but 'Plenty Of Fish' for plenty of Youtubers is a solid step on a ladder of elitism that holds no benefit to anyone. Truly.

The conclusion I come to is more of a farewell and a lengthened sigh, instead of throwing my keys to Hollywood over my shoulder and running Adidas Original clad back to Tinder, filled with revive for good ol' Dan and the other Tom's and Jack's who he went to school with, I've decided to digitally deliberate no more.
No more terrified first liners, no more angling lists of pictures of myself looking 'sexy and coy but the kind of girl you'd want your mum to meet', no more bullshit that literally only leaves you feeling like aforementioned chipolata and still dateless.

See you at the bar, I'll be flicking my hair the old fashioned way.

What AM I Wearing?

Friday, 29 January 2016

Jacket - Topshop // Shirt - Zara // Jeans - Marc By Marc Jacobs // Shoes - Adidas Originals Stan Smith
[Pics by Dunja Opalko

"There are only two people I can imagine wearing something as ridiculous as that and it's you and- oh, no, it's only you."
An overly supportive pal uttered upon watching me and my Big-Bird-Meets-Enviromental-Activist get up sashay into the room (one does not walk in mustard feathers, one sashays, obvs.)
Do you know what's so great about wearing such loud clothes? You can't hear overly supportive pals who don't 'get it' over the top of them. 
Could I be wearing any more colours or textures? No.
Do you really want to give me a massive cuddle and stroke my patches and ruffles (oo-er)? Yes.
Which sort of settles this sartorial safari really, doesn't it?

The not so anonymous Alcoholics

Monday, 25 January 2016

Photo by Dunja Opalko

I like drunk me. I am the mad, chatty, adventure seeking aunt that parades around your house at a Christening with a straw sailing in a bottle of Cointreau.
At dinner with friends it's 'I dunno let Charly pick the bottle,' or 'of course she's ordered another drink!'
Comments of which I've always worn on my claret stained lapel as though they are shiny merit badges of my fun, sociable nature.

I stood proud to be the last one to bed, the last one at the bar, and the last person in Tesco on a Wednesday night panic buying a bottle of £6.99 reduced from a tenner just in case. Just in case of what I've never been sure, but that just in case always managed to explain itself enough for the bottle to be opened.

I've ruined a lot of drinks for myself, vodka is the December of 2012, white wine is the February of 2014, rum is the mornings of 2010, but red wine seems to have stayed faithful to me throughout.
It's nurtured me in time of need and it's smacked me on the back with congratulations when I've succeeded.
It's chased cheese and confessions and beautiful moments between friends and has been the solder on the clasp securing those friends as best friends.
Until I woke up.
Until I woke up nearly every day in the last few months of 2015 with the sinking regret that I'd sunk enough bottles to call a friend in New York and admit I had a problem.
The regret I live with now is not that I'd been so candid but that I can't remember a single word we'd exchanged in that phone-call or in any previous phone-calls that month because I was blind drunk.
For him in that moment and beyond I am eternally grateful, I should've been met with a disgruntled sigh and a pissed off demeanour but from the little that I remember, I was instead met with the voice of someone who said that I was brave, that I was worthy and that I was capable of getting through this. An unwavering emotional intelligence that I'd be nowhere without.
I was balling my eyes out and afraid and suddenly glaring a light over my love that was no longer a quixotic utopia but instead a dirtied anxious alleyway with walls I didn't know how to scale.
Admitting I had a problem almost felt like I was giving up my favourite part about me- being the fun one. Slowly out of the slurred I realised I was 'fun' at parties but didn't recall drinking alone as I did ever being 'fun'; it was snotty, depressing, scissor marked numb.
It wasn't 'fun' googling 'how to get more drunk without alcohol' nor was it 'fun' having people notice I'd replaced the vodka in the kitchen with water because I'd drunk it all and was too embarrassed.

Initially I was attempting to block out this strange feeling in my body that I refused to register as depression, which seems idiotic for someone who knows they suffer with mental health issues.
But self medicating always seems sensical at the time or else so many of us wouldn't be doing it, wallowing in it, injecting it, snorting it, swallowing each and every last drop, even sadistically half enjoying it.
It's like someone telling you that you could step outside and feeling the grass under your feet is the best feeling in the world but not being strong enough to leave your house to see it and painting your carpet green instead to see if you could experience it the same.. You think it'll replicate what you're looking for but in reality it just leaves you in a huge mess and is ultimately incredibly stupid. Nobody wants paint on their carpet, particularly not the person you're living with, who coincidentally also doesn't want to be living with an alcoholic.

Over Christmas my doctor had increased my dosage of medication to a somewhat terrifying amount after reading an email I'd sent to her wasted at 4am; another cry for help.
It felt strange that during my ritualistic approach to drinking (at its worst, two bottles of wine, maybe some brandy, probably a gin and tonic) every evening, these nights started to crack tersely from feeling incoherent and blissed out to a heightened awareness that what I was doing had potential to be a much bigger, scarier, difficult problem if I continued to pursue it with the passion that I pushed with.
There was a spattering of clarity. I grabbed hold of it. Placed it out in front of me and decided to confront it.

Living in a shell that tried to swim upstream oarless against a sober current was difficult and floating mercilessly along a red wine river felt calmer. As though that action no longer felt like a choice but an easier survival, giving up my evening fight to mellowed out seemed an obvious and action-less ritual. It is now lying on my sitting room floor in the pitch black, eyes squinting at a half dimmed screen with a migraine so heavy it feels like it could hollow out my left eye I realise that my 'non choice' from the night before has left me unable to choose anything other than the decision to stop being so frivolous with the way I look to preserve my sanity.
Intoxicating numbness only paves for a much more shattering reality. It's very hard to do anything that performs self love with a hangover let alone with a gaze that's constantly flirting with an unopened bottle at arms reach. I have loved drinking for all of my adolescence but I have fallen out of love with it upon the realisation that it's made me find it impossible to fall IN love with myself if I am to continue waking every morning as I do, I think it only fair I do with the decision to not hate myself as much as I did yesterday. otherwise, really, what's the bloody point?

I'm now attempting to create a much healthier attitude.
Every evening I ask myself if I could face a hangover the next day, if having one glass of wine really will only be just one glass of wine. What, in that moment, is compelling me to pour a drink? I wake up every morning with a decision to do or to not, a frame of mind that had escaped me for so long and I am making a conscious effort to reclaim. It by no means has been easy but I am confident that it's worthwhile. My friends and doctor are aware and have agreed to give me a wake up call if and when it spirals again. But for now, each day as it comes, slightly happier than before, slightly less inebriated than the last. 

What AM I wearing?

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Top & Skirt - Topshop // Knee High Boots - Kurt Geiger // Necklace - Accessorise // Jacket - Nick Grimshaw x Topman
[Pics by Dunja Opalko

For when your tinder match is taking you somewhere niche in Dalston and you want to get your legs out without freezing your nipples off. Knee highs and leopard print don't have to be all that Kat Slater when you've got delicate jewellery.
"It's getting a bit chilly!" He'll say.
"Do you want to borrow my jacket?" He'll say.
Nah, you've already borrowed one off the boys in this Nick Grimshaw x Topman bomber, 'cos you're incredibly 21st century and don't need a man to keep you warm. Just one to design your outerwear.  

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