Hi, Friends, I’m Back

As I sit here, watching Jeremy Kyle on catch-up TV, with a mushroom and ale pie cooking in the oven and a cup of tea in my hand, I couldn’t shake the guilty pit that was building up in my stomach. My beloved blog, where have I been? All of my lovely readers, I’ve treat you so badly. Don’t for a second think that this came easily. Every single day I think “Is today the day? Do I have time?” and since Valentine’s Day, the answer has always been no.

Blog Stock Photos Camera and Flowers

I have reasons though, so let me explain.

I’m in the final two months of university. As you can imagine, all of my deadlines and exams have come crashing down. That’s not my issue though – I work so well under pressure and I’m great at what I do. The work isn’t the problem. What I’m struggling with is the lack of passion I have left for the whole degree and any prospect of going into this field of work after graduation makes me feel sick. I hate it. Believe me, it’s incredibly difficult to put your heart into working hard on something when you hate it so much.

Silver lining? I realised what I actually want to do for a living. I’ve always known, but I didn’t believe it would be possible. I want to be a photographer. Always have, always will, and I finally think it’s in my reach. I remember debating whether or not I should study photography at university, but I was met with laughter. Being easily influenced by other’s opinions of me, I gave that dream up. However, last year, I set up my own portrait studio at home and I’ve been steadily and happily growing my clientele ever since. I love every second I spend with a camera in my hand. The problem is that I have a hard decision to make – follow my dreams and make very little money after graduation, placing a lot more pressure on Matthew to get a job that supports us both, or follow my degree’s career path, be incredibly unhappy and make a lot of money. Happiness or money?

During my year in industry at university, I spent my time as a software developer for a company that builds software for the fire service. The work was fine but the environment was soul destroying. I broke. My whole mental health was shaken and I’ve never been the same since. It’s been over a year now and I still fight daily. Honestly, I don’t think I could do that again. This is horrible to admit, and I’m sorry, but I wanted to die. I’ve never felt such pain. I’ve been getting better and I don’t want to go back to that dark place.

If I didn’t experience that, without a doubt, I’d be happy running and dancing and bounding straight into a graduate developer role after university. However, I now know better. On the other hand, if I didn’t have a fiance, a home, two precious fur babies, a wedding on the horizon and if I had a bed to return to at my parent’s home like a lot of single students, following my dream would be a piece of cake.

Yeah, there’s a lot going on in my head right now. I won’t know which path I’ll follow for a few months yet, so I can’t imagine I’m suddenly going to be back like nothing happened, but I’ll try. With me in the process of creating social media channels and a blog for my photography, my entire social media presence is soon to increase. Maybe that will influence me to write more often, too. I hope so!

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I’m massively sorry that my reintroduction to this sweet little blog was such an unhappy one, but sometimes the truth needs to be told. Getting something off your chest is always a sure way to make yourself feel a little bit better, and I sure as hell don’t feel that guilty pit in my stomach anymore! Honestly, one blog post later, I do feel a lot more excited to be back (again).

How have you been?

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You can read my previous post here.

How I’m Improving My Sleep Hygiene

Me and sleep aren’t friends. We haven’t had the best relationship for around 6 years now but, as I’m getting older, I’m becoming less and less able to bounce out of bed in a morning on 3 (or sadly, sometimes way less) hours sleep. To try and improve this, me and Matt have been making a real effort to manage our sleep hygiene – and no, that’s not whether or not you’ve had a bath before bed! Your sleep hygiene is the habits and patterns you practice nightly, that are helpful towards improving your night’s sleep.

Improving Sleep Hygiene

I’m grouchy in the mornings (you probably already guessed that I’m definitely not a morning person!) but, when I’ve had no sleep, I’m a completely different person. Working on improving my sleep hygiene has been absolutely vital to my sanity, my relationships with everyone around me and my health – you’d be surprised what insomnia can do to your skin and hair!

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So, how am I trying to improve my own sleep hygiene? Here are my five tried and tested tips for a good night’s sleep:

Make your bedroom an irresistible sleepy kingdom: Black out curtains, shut your bedroom door, fresh bedding, your favourite ‘bedtime’ scent – think lavender mist or, my favourite, Lush’s fairy dust. These are all going to help make your bed seem inviting, even on the worst nights when you just know you’re not going to get any sleep.

Maintain a regular bed time: Try and trick your body’s “internal clock” into thinking that you have your shit together. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (including weekends!) is going to really help create a consistent sleep schedule.

Don’t eat too late: However tempting it may be to cook yourself some chips at midnight, they aren’t going to settle in time for you to comfortably go to sleep.

Associate your bed with sleeping (and sex): I used to read in bed, watch films in bed and just chill out in bed on my phone. I got used to being cosy, without the prospect of sleep. Avoiding all of the above has helped associate the act of getting into bed with going to sleep.

Avoid naps or nap early: I confess, I’m a napper. For the worst part of a year, the only sleep I had was during a nap in the afternoon! After that, I kind of got into the habit of napping… They’re definitely a bad idea if you’re trying to start up a sleeping pattern!

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These tips have massively helped me improve my own sleeping pattern, so if you’re having difficulties of your own, I do hope they help you out!

Do you have any other tips?

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You can read my previous post here.

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills

Just Keep Swimming

This morning, I woke up with practically every possible common ailment forcing its way into my system. On top of a terrible night’s sleep, I did not wake up happy. The day only got worse and worse from there. I felt as if sadness was completely suffocating my core and I knew that I’d be stuck with it all day. When I’m sad, all of those buried thoughts and feelings rise up to the surface. I have to write them down today. I think it’s about time.

I’m completely embarrassed and nervous that I’m attempting to put these thoughts and feelings into words, but here goes…

Just Keep Swimming

 

Today marks the start of my final week at work. I’ll be heading back to university very soon and I just can’t wait. Frankly, this work placement has been the worst thing I’ve ever done but, I’ve got to admit, I’ve learnt loads. The experience I’ve gained will undoubtedly benefit me in my final year of university but that will never make up for the damage this year has had on my mental health.

Despite what work decides to believe, it wasn’t at all their fault that I broke into tiny pieces  – it was a combination of lots of little things that pushed me into a very dark place. When I started my placement, I was so excited. I felt as if I’d achieved something great by being accepted onto the course. I expected this would be the most exciting year of my life! Maybe if I was stronger I would have been okay.

The office environment very quickly began to make me feel claustrophobic, trapped and lonely. I was nervous of my colleagues. I wasn’t used to being in a strange environment for so long. I was completely uncomfortable. All of those emotions were making me beyond stressed. Then, as the nights quickly became darker, leaving work once the sun had set completely wrecked my confidence. I was terrified. I’ve always been scared of the dark. I began to dread leaving the house.

Things only got worse. I’d leave work with chest pains from the constant nerves, anxiety and stress of being away from home. I became paranoid. I was adamant that I was going to die whenever I left the house or, if it wasn’t me in trouble, my cats would be burning alive in a house fire. I started inadvertently clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth, leaving me with a constantly locked jaw. My hair started falling out in clumps. I saw everything as a threat. I’d imagine somebody breaking into my home or the office with a gun. I’d be sure that the man walking behind me was going to stab me. Everywhere I went, all I could see were possible ways to die. Even in my own home, I’d be unable to walk from room to room unless Matt checked nobody was there. I was a mess.

In the end, I stopped sleeping because the nightmares were unmanageable. I developed completely irrational obsessive compulsions that I’m still unable to shake, I wanted to die, I couldn’t be alone and I was to frightened to leave the house. For months, I was utterly broken and terrified. I didn’t know what was happening to me.

I ended up getting help, but that’s a different story. I left work for a while and, with Matt by my side, I tried to get better.

Eventually, I had to decide whether I wanted to return to work or to leave and pretend it never happened. It would feel like such a waste of a year if I didn’t return so I did, with high hopes and a giant bag of nerves.

Although my mental health had improved massively over the period of time I wasn’t at work, the environment I left had become bitter. I ended up returning to a group of hostile colleagues who didn’t have a pleasant word to say to me. Instead, they chose to ignore me completely. When I was young, I always used to dread going to school because I knew I’d have to face my bullies. At work, I feel exactly the same.

I can already taste the relief of walking out of the office on Friday afternoon. It’s almost overwhelming. I’m completely ready for a new start.

“When life gets you down, do you wanna know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.” – Dory, Finding Nemo.

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Now, breathe. 

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

5 Things I Need To Stop Caring About

You know all of those negative thoughts, opinions and questions that hover around the back of your mind? Well, I’m having a clear out.

It’s Saturday night. I’m dressed in the cutest silky pyjamas, drinking a beer, and contemplating whether or not I should sleep soon. When I remembered I was 21, not 81, I started to wonder why is it socially frowned upon to be introverted when you’re young? I quickly got over it because I’m happy and, once I decided to not care about that anymore, I started to think about what else I need to stop caring about.

5 Things I Need To Stop Caring About

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1. I need to stop caring about achieving the “perfect body”.

In the past, I’ve envied flat tummies, skinny legs, curvy legs, little boobs, big boobs, short ladies, tall ladies, tanned, pale and everything in between. Like everything in my life, I’m undecided. I don’t know what’s perfect because there’s no such thing. I’d just like to be healthy. I want to run up the stairs and not need to take a ten minute breather. I wanna look at my naked body, full of confidence, and whisper “you go, girl”.

2. I need to stop caring about what other people think of me.

Worrying about what other people think of me has altered my life massively. Sometimes, it’s like I live two different lives – my home life, with my true self, and the fake life I live when I’m around other people. No wonder I love being cosy at home so much.

3. I need to stop caring about being the “best”.

This is going to sound really petty, but I don’t like losing and I don’t like it when people are better than me. I’m a terrible person, I know. Since I was really young, I’ve pushed myself to do better and better. Be better and better. This made damn sure I got amazing results in primary school, secondary school and college but, as I get older, it’s toxic. I can’t relax without an overwhelming sense of guilt swooping over me. Pushing yourself to be the best is great and everything, but not if it’s making you unhappy.

4. I need to stop caring about likes.

I regularly share snippets of my life on my blog and social media platforms and, yes, I get bummed out if they don’t get any love. Is that normal? I’m not really sure. Nobody should feel like they’re worth any less just because only a handful of people ‘liked’ their Instagram selfie.

5. I need to stop caring about what other people are doing.

Comparing yourself to others is just the worst. It can turn a proud and well deserved achievement into an unrealistic punch in the gut. “Oh, you won an award, did you? Sally got three awards and I heard a 12 year old achieved this last year” says my brain. It shouldn’t matter to you what other people are doing with their lives. Everyone is different. If your first car is a £300 banger from down the road and your friend got a brand new mint coloured Mini Cooper for her birthday, that’s fine. If other people your age are spending their money on lipsticks and shoes but you want some new curtains for the living room, that’s fine.

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Do you need to stop caring about things, too?

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

I’m Too Honest

Let’s face it, I spend the majority of time with my wonderful, loving fiancé and I’d have it no other way. This awkwardly means, though, that those cute “in” jokes, silly voices and conversations full of total honesty accidentally seep into the real world when I least expect it to.

Like, at work, for instance.

If I’m not with Matthew, I’m probably at work. You’ll find me tapping away on my keyboard in my little corner of the office, with my heater on (yep, even in July), trying to maintain the balance between being professional and being introverted. After taking time off work at the beginning of the year because of personal stuff, it’s taking a hard while to adjust to this whole… being outdoors and being around “strangers” thing again. Sure, they’re my colleagues, but I don’t know them and they don’t know me.

I sometimes forget that I’m not all cushty at home, sat with my best friend and my two kitties. Random thoughts will come to me, and they just come out… If I was with Matthew, this obviously wouldn’t be an issue – he loves my random babbles and I love to babble, we’re a team. Instead, it’ll be something like “I really cannot wait to go home” or “you know what, I can’t actually remember what I did this morning”. Harmless, right? Nah, they’re like poison comments around the office. They exude ungratefulness, a lack of care for the job and a lack of comradery when all I meant was “God, I’m tired, poorly and I want my bed”. Get a grip, Morgan, this is the real world, I hear you moan. Believe me, I’m bloody trying.

I haven’t yet managed to rebuild my filter for the real world and it’s going to get me into trouble.

Hopes and Dreams

Stock image: Rekita Nicole

There are so many perfectly harmless things I sometimes catch myself about to say out loud, and I think, should I? I guess I get along with my work colleagues (for someone who dislikes groups of people, anyway) and, if we didn’t work together, I wouldn’t even hesitate to tell them things of this minute calibre. Yet, because this year is pretty competitive it feels as if everything would be used against me. If I told somebody “this has been the worst year of my life”, it would always come back to bite me in the arse. So, I don’t.

I need to remember that not everybody is my friend, not everyone cares what I have to say. I need to remember that not everyone is as much of an open-book as I am.

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How are you today?

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

Bravery and Blood Tests

Today, I surprised myself. I let a nurse stick a needle into my arm and take some blood. I faced one of my fears and I did something that, 6 months ago, I would never have dreamed of going through with… I came out of the nurse’s office in a little bit of shock actually – was I really just that brave? Did I really not even freak out or cry?

Feeling Brave Pretty White Roses

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Since school, I’ve been frightened of needles. I don’t know whether this fear came from the nasty, emotionless school nurses who gave me my injections in that dusty school hall or the nightmare-inducing time my dentist missed the correct place to jab me over and over and over again until I’d swallowed enough anaesthetic that my throat became numb. They both probably contributed. Either way, needles have sent shivers down my spine, made me feel dizzy and closed up my throat with fear for as long as I can remember.

So, when my doctor told me he’s booking me in for a blood test, I obviously freaked out a little. The idea of someone poking a foreign object into my fragile little veins disturbed me. I only had to wait 4 days, so the dread didn’t drive me completely mad. It did work me up a little more though. When something freaks me out this much, I tend to avoid it. Crowds, heights, tight spaces, noisy places… I keep them off limits. That’s pretty much the basis of my personality but, importantly, it’s something I’m working on fixing. This wasn’t something I could just avoid though!

Despite the looming needle, I had a lovely morning. I had to take the morning off work so I could go to the doctors and, with him in between his degree and PGCE at the moment, Matt could come with me and hold my hand. I wasn’t as spooked as I thought I would be.

Honestly, the entire process was completely fine. I’ve never had a blood test before so I didn’t know what to expect but my nurse was fantastic and she made me feel so comfortable. I had a tight band around my arm, I felt a tiny, sore little prick and then a weird gushing feeling… but it didn’t hurt. She’d already began to fill the second vial before I even clocked on to what was happening!

I know it seems like such a simple thing to be so happy with but I’m so proud of myself. I thought my fears would get the better of me and turn me into a sobbing pile of patheticness. It’s such a big deal for me. Matt was so proud of me too. “You didn’t even make a noise” he said, because I’m sure we both thought I’d squeal or yelp or something. He even bought me some beautiful white roses to cheer me up and to tell me how brave I was! What a sweetie.

Feeling Brave White Rose

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How are you today, friends?

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan

Photographs are my own. © Morgan Mills.

5 Tips For A Better Morning

I am not a morning person! Me and mornings have never got along but I knew if we didn’t fix our relationship soon then it would last a lifetime. That wouldn’t be good! Just to add insult to injury, I’m a terrible sleeper too. So, when I don’t get to sleep until 4am and I’m having to wake up for work at 6am… yeah, you can imagine that’s not going to go down well.

Tips For An Better Morning Alarm Clock

Recently, I’ve been trying to make a point of improving my sleep pattern and my morning routine. Good news, it’s working! I’ve started ignoring the urge to stay up to do something more fun than sleep (which is basically everything else) and I’ve forced myself into bed at a reasonable time. Now, even if I’m laid awake for a very long time, at least I tried.

Slowly but surely, my bed is becoming so much more inviting. It’s mostly down to my new morning routine and my focus on trying to make both bedtime and morning the best it can possibly be!

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Here are my 5 tips for a better morning!

Leave yourself enough time:

It sounds counter productive, I know. Giving yourself less time to sleep surely couldn’t make your mornings easier… but I completely disagree.

Rushing around in the morning makes me so miserable and it sets me on the path for a super bad day. Instead, I set my alarm 30 minutes or maybe even an hour earlier than it needs to be. That extra time gives me room to wake up slowly with a cup of tea. I can even fit breakfast in too.

Go to bed earlier:

It’s a bit of an obvious one, but your sleep hygiene is the key to a good night’s sleep and, in turn, an easier morning. For a very long time, I put off going to bed because I had terrible insomnia – it seemed pointless to try if I knew I wouldn’t sleep anyway. That was such a bad idea though, and eventually it made me poorly.

Recently, I’ve been making early nights an essential. It feels fantastic to wake up after a refreshing night’s sleep, so it’s worth a try.

Plan, plan, plan:

I think this one is definitely the most important thing to remember if you’re after an enjoyable and easy morning. Plan everything in advance. Everything.

Choose what you’re wearing for work and hang it on the outside of your wardrobe. Make your lunch the night before when you’re making your tea. Decide what you’re having for breakfast if it’s not something you can prepare in advance. If you’re a fan of breakfast smoothies, freeze individual portions of cut fruit so you can shove them straight in your blender each morning. It’s so simple but it saves you so much time.

Tips For An Better Morning Poached Eggs Breakfast

Make your bed a cosy place:

If you make your bed the comfiest and most inviting part of your home, then you’ll definitely be more eager to climb into bed at night. By doing so, you’re giving yourself a good start on the path to a pleasant morning.

Cushions. Cushions everywhere.

Give yourself something to look forward to:

If you’ve got absolutely nothing to smile about in the morning, it makes it very difficult to wake up. I had a huge problem with this last year. I couldn’t think of anything to actually look forward to!

Now, me and Matt are making an effort to make mornings a proper part of the day, rather than simply something you have to get through to begin your day. On Monday’s, we wake up an hour early so we can catch up on Game of Thrones before work. Some mornings, we play on the Xbox before even starting on getting ready. Our morning smoothies alone are something to wake up for because damn they’re delicious.

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What are your tips for a better morning?

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You can read my previous post here.

-Morgan