What’s Another Year?

Hi everyone!

I realised it’s been over a year since I wrote anything on here. I have wanted to because a lot has happened, I just haven’t been able to find the words to share or I haven’t felt like it mattered in the grand scheme of things. I do want to share things with you guys more often though, but I’m not in a place to make any promises. I don’t want this to be any sort of life update post, but I’ve had some thoughts some of you may be able to relate to.

Over the past couple of months or so, I’ve been feeling pretty good. I’ve been feeling as close to normal as I think I can get, which has been great for me. I feel it’s given me a taste of how life “should” be and it’s given me hope that maybe I really can get better one day. However, a positive thought rarely comes alone in my head. It usually has a tail in the form of a negative question mark. What if, what if, what if….. So naturally, this time is no different.

The one thought which has been looming in the back of my head for a little while now is “am I making this all up? what if I’m not really sick after all? what if I’m just imagining the effect the meds have on me?” but I’ve mostly managed to let it pass like a cloud and not pay too much attention to it and go about my day and not let it bother me. Sounds good, yeah? As we all know though, nothing lasts forever – good or bad. A day or two ago, the dark cloud that is so often used to illustrate depression, started making an appearance again, and my first reaction was one of gratitude, strange as it may sound. Because when you’ve been living in a bubble of normality for a while, you start believing that your normal is the same as that of people who don’t have to deal with the same issues you do, but as we go along in life, of course, we learn that everyone has their own battles to fight. This is great for some time, until you realise that it’s not the version of “normal” you’ve come to know.

– But why would I be grateful to feel depressed? you may ask.
I was grateful because to me, that meant I wasn’t making it all up, that the meds have actually been working for me, and that I really do have battles left to fight. For this very reason, I also felt a sting of relief. I’ve mentioned before that I’m grateful for the person my illness has turned me into, and I stand by that. I believe it makes me more open to other people’s views, more empathetic, accepting and understanding, as well as more appreciative of the little things in life that we so often take for granted. This has also been a huge contributing factor in my journey to self-acceptance as well, which I think is one of the most important journeys we take in this life.

My next move will have to be to figure out a plan of action to deal with this, because despite my experience with anxiety and depression, I don’t have all the answers. I still have a lot to learn, and I’ll do my best to let you all know when I do figure out how to tackle this particular episode.

Until then – take care, stay strong. Whatever you’re dealing with, you’ve got this, and you’re not alone. x

Small Steps…

Hi everyone! *waves*

I hope you all had a good time over the holidays. Now that that’s all over though, a new year is on the go and for many of us that means it’s time to get back to normal routines. I also hope you all had a better start to the year than I did, although being sat on the bathroom floor crying in the middle of the night is practically as good as it gets, am I right? 🙂

It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here, which is becoming the norm for me, but I will try to update more often. Anyways, to sum up the past few months, I’ve ran my first half marathon, had some good times and a few crashing lows. After a visit to my GP, I had my meds increased and walked away with a referral to a psychologist, with whom I had my first session today. The session, I thought, went really well and for what I think is the first time, I wasn’t nervous about it which is a big sign of progress for me. This could be because I’ve done these first meetings a few times before or because said psychologist had already received some info beforehand through the doctor’s referral, but mainly I think it’s because I had already decided I would be as honest as possible and tell her as much as I could. I really feel a difference in myself regarding my depression, anxiety and all that other shit. I don’t care as much as I used to about what people think, and that feels pretty damn good. Even if I get down for whatever reason (or no reason at all) I’m not ashamed to admit it. The fact is, people will have an opinion about me (or you) no matter what, so it’s really none of my business what they think.

To give you one example, on Christmas Eve, I had a rather bad panic attack. It had been building up for a bit, although I was generally feeling good that day with the family and my other half. I stated generally that I was starting to feel dizzy but didn’t think much of it as it was warm in the room and we’d all had a lot to eat etc. I then had a warm and fuzzy, happy feeling rush over me which I was also happy to let everyone know. I literally felt so happy I could cry in that moment. It didn’t take long for this feeling to build up into the old familiar feeling of sheer panic and I just had to leave the room to be alone. My other half followed me downstairs and tried his best to help. This included getting me a glass of water and (sad as this may sound) my mum. They both stayed with me until I felt well enough to rejoin the rest of the family and I was able to be completely honest with them, which I think helped me a lot. My brother, aged 16, also walked in and started playing his guitar which distracted me a bit. As he came in he (naturally) wondered what was going on and my mum tried to play it down and said something along the lines of me being a bit stressed out, at which point I went “no, why not just say it as it is – I’m having a bit of a panic attack, but I’ll be fine” – he accepted it like I had just told him it was raining outside.

What’s so great about this whole situation, is it shows what amazing support I’ve got, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I know I’m one of the lucky ones in that sense, but it’s taken me a lot of time, work, pain and tears, to get to this point. I’ve had to wrestle with myself, my fear of being judged, the feeling that no one cared and there was no point. I’m still working on being completely open, but I’m a long way from where I used to be, and that’s what matters. Fuck you, depression. Fuck you, anxiety. I may still stumble into you, but I’ve got this.

I’m Still Here!

… In case you were wondering 🙂

It’s been a while, but right now I felt a need to write. For some time now, I’ve struggled almost daily with some fairly intense anxiety. Some of it completely out of fuck knows where, but I have had a few things going on which I don’t want to get into detail about at this point. On several occasions, I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out why and how I can make it get to fuck. I’m not sure, but I think this has been a contributing cause to my mood dropping to shit levels as well, especially for the last couple of days.

However, after watching this video http://youtu.be/G-TMxq8cE3Y (do check out this guy’s channel, he’s awesome), I was reminded of something – sometimes trying to fight our issues, be it depressive thoughts, bouts of anxiety, intrusive/repetitive thoughts or whatever, in fact, makes it worse. Trying to make sense of something that frankly doesn’t make sense, just isn’t worth the little energy I have these days. This doesn’t mean I’m just going to do nothing and feel sorry for myself, but rather acknowledge that how I’m feeling is part of how my life is at the moment, I CAN and I WILL get through it, but more importantly, I will (hopefully) have learnt something from it when I come through on the other side.

The reason I’m writing this isn’t wanting sympathy or anything like that – far from it – but I am hoping it will reach someone who is going through similar issues and think they’re alone, just to say “you’re not” and “I’m here for you.”

I also think it’s good to allow myself to be vulnerable and sometimes I need to show myself and others that it’s ok to do just that when we feel the need.

This brings me to my next point. I was talking on Skype with a very good friend of mine last night. We’ve both been dealing with some shit times lately, but at the end of the day we’ve always got each other’s backs. I’m quick to praise others for their strength in hard times, but being there for someone when you feel like you’re barely holding it together yourself takes some real fucking muscles, let me tell ya! I guess I need to get better at applying this to myself the way I do others, because it is most definitely a two way street. One great thing last night was that during this call, I didn’t think twice about being open about how I was feeling. The words “I feel like I might cry” or similar were uttered more than once, I could feel my voice breaking at times, and he was nothing but supportive all the way.

People like this, who somehow make the bad times seem manageable and the good times even better cause they’re happy for you, truly make life easier, and I’ll always be grateful to have someone like that in my life.

I’ll leave you with this – whatever you’re dealing with, I can assure you (almost 100%) it’s better out than in. Dare to open up. Dare to be vulnerable.

Until next time x

In This Moment

My view right now is my pillow and the white wall next to me. I’m lying face down on the bed. This is just another one of my particularly bad days. It’s like a wave of increased consciousness of the indifference depression often brings with it, has washed over me and I’m drowning. Everything hurts. To think, to breathe, to be. I’m not trying to make sense of what’s happening because I’ve been here before, more times than I care to remember. I know it won’t last forever, yet every second feels like an eternity.

This is one of those times where part of me would like to reach out to someone – anyone – but the sickness in my mind tells me there’s no point. My energy to try and explain just isn’t there because how can I explain something I don’t understand myself? Besides, I don’t want to bother anyone with what goes on in my perfectly flawed, fucked up mind.

On the flip side, I know they would try to understand and do their best to help if I did talk, but at this moment, I’m not sure I can be helped. All I can do is endure because I’ll be damned if I ever let this bitch of an illness defeat me.

Me vs Anxiety

Some days are worse than others. I’m not going to lie, the last few days – today especially – have been fairly bad. As many of you undoubtedly know, anxiety can be a real bitch when it hits you, and a few days ago, it caught me completely blindsided. I’ve learnt over the last few years that a big trigger for my anxiety is people. I’m a bit of an introvert. I love people, but in small doses at a time. Throw too many into the mix, or even better, people I don’t know that well or professional relations, and bear witness to a stressed out, anxious mess. What I often do, is I withdraw, whether it’s into myself or physically remove myself from the situation for a while, but that’s slightly beside the point.

I’ve had a busy few days, and the other day I was driving back and forth between appointments and meetings as well as random run-ins with acquaintances. I’m pretty sure the anxiety started to set in before all this, however I’m also sure all these events helped feed it.

I’ve always thought I was, if not good at, then definitely able to hide how I’m feeling when I don’t feel right, if I wanted to. Being made aware of the contrary has also given fuel to the anxious fire that has been raging in me over the past few days.

Back to the present. Today was without a doubt, the worst day I’ve had in a while what my anxiety is concerned although I am feeling better as I’m writing this. I value honesty very highly, so that’s what you’re going to get here – it took me three attempts just to get out the door today. I know that’s not bad compared to what many others are going through, but for me at that moment, it felt like a knockout. I felt defeated, if only temporarily. I don’t see myself as anything special, but that’s exactly why I want to share this. This is what a lot of people go through every day, so I guess from that perspective I’m lucky. Well, as lucky as someone with a mood disorder and anxiety can be, I suppose.

I feel I’m starting to ramble on a little here, but if there’s a point to this, it would be to not give up on yourself. We will all have times where we feel defeated, or like we can’t possibly get through something, but the feeling of accomplishment we get when we do (even if not necessarily there and then), is absolutely priceless. It’s what reminds me that however knocked down I may feel, I will never be defeated.

A Love/Hate-Thing

I’m back, everyone! As you may have noticed, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. For the past couple of months, I’ve been so wrapped up in my university work and placement (which I’ve now passed!), that I haven’t had the capacity to focus on much else. Now that I’m done though, I’ll have a lot more time to write about things that don’t involve nursing, and even though I have enjoyed it, it feels good to be able to do things because I want to and not because I have to. So there you have it. That’s my main reason for going AWOL the past 8 weeks.

Another is that although the past 8 weeks have been good performance wise, I have spent at least half that time feeling really low which in turn has caused a lot of anger at myself for not being better – not feeling better. I’ve had a lot of things I’ve wanted to write, but I just haven’t felt like there was any point. A few weeks into my placement, I got to a point where I felt like I had to do something – I couldn’t let things go on as they were. So I made an appointment with my doctor, and told him everything about how I’d been feeling – about how I’d been feeling depressed on and off for the past 10 years or so, and about the anxiety. Long story short, he recommended I try an antidepressant, which I’ve now been on for two weeks. I might get back to how that’s working out later down the line, but that’s really not what I wanted to get into today.

Something I’ve been thinking a bit about lately that I do want to touch on, is how I view my depression. It’s a bit like a love/hate thing for me. That might sound strange to some of you, but stick around and hopefully you’ll see what I mean.

Obviously, when I’m in the middle of it, it’s like I’m living a nightmare. It feels like all life has been sucked out of me and I merely exist, not knowing how long it will last this time, or if I’ll ever be free from it. Little things that usually make me smile don’t affect me, and the bad jokes that usually leave me in stitches, are just a bunch of meaningless words. I feel nothing, but at the same time, there’s this intense pain that leaves me unable to see the good things in life. That’s the harsh reality of it, for me at least. You might experience it differently, but chances are you’ll be able to relate anyway. If you’re not familiar with these kinds of feelings, you might think it’s all dark and hopeless and not be able to imagine it actually having a positive side too. But guess what? It does. To me, anyway. For me, the good days make it worth enduring the bad ones.

A friend of mine asked me recently “You know those days you get sometimes where you just feel amazing? Is it worth enduring the bad times just so you can experience that?” And for me, the answer is simple. Yes – of course it’s worth it! The good days are what makes me want to keep going. They are what makes me see that even if I do feel like shit, or nothing at all sometimes, life still has a lot of amazing things to offer that I want to be a part of. To a certain degree, life really is what we make it (apart from the things we can’t control of course) and for me, experiencing the devastating lows that come around at the least convenient times, makes me more able to appreciate the good times and the times where getting through the day seems just a little bit easier.

The fact from my perspective though, is that dealing with the lows doesn’t get easier with time. However, I do believe we build up a little more strength every time we go through it so that we’re better equipped, if not prepared, to handle it next time it comes along.

Guest Blog: “Me and Paul Hartley”

For this post, I’ve been lucky enough to have author Paul Larkin (@paullarkin74 on Twitter) share a personal story from his own experience with mental health issues. Here it is:


Me and Paul Hartley

There was a time when I thought I had the answer. I’d been unsure of myself for about five months but today was the day where I was sure I was thinking clearly. Anxiety, depression, night terrors and feeling worthless were all part of my daily diet then. It’s irrelevant but I will tell you anyway, that day I thought clearly was November 15th 2008, a Saturday. My football team wasn’t playing until the Sunday and so I had a free day. I was living in Buchanan Street in Edinburgh and the day started pretty uneventfully. I’d got up, had a sliced sausage roll, went in the bath, went out, put a football coupon on, had a pint in Robbie’s Bar (first time since I had been barred out of it in 2000 but that’s another story), left, went to Greggs, got an Egg Mayonnaise sandwich and went home, sticking in a Sopranos box set as I sprawled on the couch. I sat watching the show and feeling my mood plummet, these weren’t just dark clouds, this was lights out, good night and God bless. At that moment one of the characters in the show, Johnny Sack, said “You wanna commit suicide? Pills are a lot easier” and that made sense to me. So I put on my jacket and walked up to Tesco on Leith Walk. It was cold and dark by now. Apt. I walked in past the ever observant security guard, bought two bottles of Evian water (love that stuff) and four packs of Ibuprofen so I could go home and kill myself.

There was a freedom washing over me as I walked past people on the way back down Leith Walk that early evening. I maybe even smiled at a few women, a change from the previous five months where I’d barely made eye contact with anyone. I got back in, took my jacket off and put my water on the kitchen bunker, the pills stayed in my pocket and I sprawled back onto the couch, a barely adequate red, second hand, two seater.

Freedom was in my pocket, boom, over, gone, dead.

As I looked up I saw my son in a photo on the wall, then seven, and remembered something. He was coming to my house to watch our team, Celtic, on TV, against Hamilton on the Sunday. I started to think about that, where else would he see the game? In fact, with me dead, he won’t be interested in the game, will he? And then I thought back to when my father died. I was 24 and could barely handle it. How the hell would a seven year old be able to cope? So in a minute of rare bravado I leapt up off the couch, got the Ibuprofen out of my jacket pocket and flushed the lot down the toilet.

The next day I walked five miles to pick up my son, brought him back on the 16 bus and we had a good day at my flat. The heating cloaked the place like a marathon runner gets upon finishing a race, the food was good and the football was non-stop.

Celtic won 2-1 that day, Paul Hartley hitting a screamer in the 86th minute that sent me leaping off the couch and my son leaping out his skin probably unaware that I was celebrating more than a winning goal.

The bit I didn’t tell you is that in between The Sopranos advice and the Hartley wonder strike, I wrote. I started to turn the negatives that had got me to this awful place (my mental state, not Buchanan Street) into positives and started a cathartic process that goes on to this day and in this blog and helps me every single day, sharing.

Thanks for reading and thank you Paul Hartley.

Mental Health Q&A!

So I finally got around to actually finishing this post, apologies for the delay. Although I didn’t get a lot of questions, I did get some good ones, so without further ado, here they are!

What is the best advice you have received on dealing with mental health issues?

– The best advice I’ve received…this is a tough one! I’m not sure if I can go with just one thing on this, but I’ll try. I guess what’s helped me the most, has been something along the lines of “you’re having a bad day/week/month/whatever, not a bad life” – this is a great reminder that whatever I’m feeling at any moment is temporary, and given time, it will pass. It’s one of those things that have made me look back at other times I’ve felt low or anxious or just generally shitty, and realized that “yeah, I did come out of it eventually” and even if it’s hard to see it when I’m in the middle of a ditch as I like to call it, I know somewhere deep down that it’s true.

As a wee side note, I’d like to throw in another piece of advice that I’ve found helpful, and that is the fact it’s OK to feel like shit sometimes. I feel like these two go together, because when we feel low or anything else is bothering us, knowing these feelings are acceptable can help us not beat ourselves up about having them, but rather give ourselves time to deal with them.

I think we, as people, are always looking back or looking forward. Where’s the moment? When was the last time you smelt the roses?

– I think this is a great question which most, if not all of us can relate to! It’s a tough one though, because with the busy lifestyles many of us lead in today’s world, we always have so much to worry about, whether it’s realistic or worries we make up. Whether it’s what people thought of what we said or did in a certain situation or how we’re going to act around specific people, even if there’s realistically nothing to worry about, we can always count on our minds (especially for those of us with anxiety or mood disorders) to give us something! Being mindful of what’s going on in the here and now might sound easy enough, but for a majority of people, I think, it’s something that takes time and practice to master. In my experience, meditation is one thing that can help with this. The moment is right where we are, we just have to allow ourselves to feel it.

As for the last time I smelt the roses – I choose not to take this too literally, because I don’t stop and smell flowers all that often. What I do however, whenever the view allows it, is look up at the stars at night. I find this has an incredible calming, as well as grounding, not to mention humbling, effect. I also (try to) always take notice of what’s around me – the smell of the air, how it feels, what’s really going on around me? I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

How to deal with homesickness?

– This isn’t something I’ve had a lot of experience with, but just off the top of my head, I’d say the best thing you can do is probably to focus on the positives of where you are, and what you can do to make yourself feel good while you’re there. Even write it down if you want! Also, if you’re missing anyone specific, although this one can swing both ways, giving them a call and see how they’re doing might help.

What methods do you use to try and relax when having a low/angry day?

– Great question! Just to start on a wee sidetrack here, this is so much easier to answer when I feel good than when I’m low or angry, so I don’t always think/manage to do these things, but I’ll give some examples of things I KNOW are helpful.

  • Going for a walk/jog/run.
  • Play guitar!
  • Listen to music – it’s amazing how therapeutic this can be!
  • Write it out – seeing the words black (or any other color) on white can help identify why I’m feeling low and uncover triggers I didn’t realise were there, as well as releasing some of the pressure that tends to build up.
    • A wee side note; occasionally, I’ve taken a piece of paper, wrote down everything I was feeling at the time (get all the shit out of my system!!!), then scribbled angrily all over it until I could no longer see what it said. Ripping it up into little pieces works too. I haven’t actually done this myself (but I will if I ever need to), but if it’s cold enough to have a fire going, throw it in there and watch it burn! Tell those feelings to fuck off.
  • Watch a funny film or TV show – laughter really is great medicine at times!
  • Yell or scream! Or generally just go bat shit crazy (I’d say this works best when there’s no one around to judge, haha)
  • Meditate! Not the easiest thing to do when you’re agitated, but really effective if you can get yourself to focus, even if it’s only for a minute or two.
  • Draw something. Anything! Whether it be random lines on a piece of paper, splashing colours onto a canvas or trying my hands at a specific motive – anything goes!
  • Paint my nails – sometimes just adding a bit of colour to things can make a big difference.
  • Go and see friends or family to talk things out, or talk about anything but how I’m doing, all depending on how I’m feeling that day.
  • Go for a drive. Preferably with loud music. This usually helps clear my mind, especially if I’m feeling anxious.

That’s it for this time! Hope some of this helps you. Thank you for your patience and thanks for reading!



It took me a while, but I managed to get up this morning. As I write this, I’m sitting listening to some music, thinking I should be well on my way to uni already, but the fact is I’m not. Not yet. My chest feels like someone is continually stabbing at it with a sharp blade riddled with anxiety. It’s all a bit overwhelming if I’m perfectly honest. I wish I could hide away inside on days like this, and in reality I guess it is an option, but I would just feel like I was letting myself down if I did. I’d feel like I was giving in to this beast that has taken hold inside me, which would make me feel even worse. I also know that, given time, this will pass, but I still have a long way to go in terms of being able to control it. How’s that for honesty on an early Monday afternoon?

I look at the time. 12.30. It’s more than it should be by the time I’d planned to be out the door. Fuck it, I’ll feel even worse if I rush myself. So what if I’m a little late or miss part of the lecture? I’ve been through it all before anyway. Not that that’s an excuse, with exams coming up soon. My anxiety level’s rising. Fuck. Deep breaths. At least try to get some control of this before you go, is what I tell myself. What’s the worst that could happen?


It’s now 8.45 pm and I’m still feeling a bit uneasy and light headed. I got to uni eventually. Driving helped keep the anxiety at a certain distance – having music on so loud it drowns out your own thoughts is good like that. While I was walking from my car, my thoughts somehow wandered towards what I was wearing. This may not seem relevant, but let me explain. I’ve been walking around in a hoodie that has “The best revenge is bettering yourself” printed on the back. The significance of this quote in relation to what I’ve been thinking and feeling, suddenly struck me. If we see anxiety, or anything else that affects our thinking, as something (or someone if you want to personify it) that’s caused us pain and distress, it makes perfect sense. Well, it does to me at least. Whether you view it as something you want to get back at, or you just want to kick its ass really hard, then bettering yourself seems to me like the best way to do just that. It sounds really easy when I say it like this, and I know it’s way easier said than done, but we have to start somewhere, right? The great thing about this quote, however, is that the way I see it, it’s open to interpretation. Revenge in itself is a simple enough idea, but when it comes to bettering yourself, there are many ways to do that, and it all comes down to how YOU see it. For me, getting out and doing things when I’m feeling anxious or low or just don’t feel like it for some reason, is definitely one step on the way to achieving it, and today that was exactly what I did. Eventually.

Why Should I Care?

Change happens through making an effort, and it’s hard to make a real effort with anything if you don’t really care about what you’re doing.

For the last few weeks, my days have more or less consisted of trying (and mostly failing) to see a reason to get up in the morning, and thus ending up sleeping until early afternoon; fighting with myself and thoughts which have been everything but good for me, including heavy self-harm urges (although I haven’t acted on them, that is still scary shit); not being able to sleep at night (and feeling a lot worse because of it); eventually getting a few hours of sleep in the early hours of the morning, and repeat. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

For a long time I’ve also told myself I wanted to get better, to feel “normal” again. However, I realised something (and this is just my opinion, you can disagree all you want) – to really want something, you have to actually care about it. That, I think, has been my main issue for the last few weeks – I haven’t felt able to care about anything – almost to the point where I couldn’t give two shits if I lived or died. Now I’ve reached a point where I’m sick of feeling like I’m stuck in a ditch, not knowing if I’ll ever get out. I want to change the way I’ve been thinking, feeling and affecting others. I need it to change. Along with this, I’ve also realised I actually do care about these things and how it’s all connected, not to mention those around me. They’ve been on my mind quite a lot lately, and how my low moods affect them. When I’m really low, I often feel like I bring people down just by being around, and although many have assured me that’s not the case, I’ve still had that little sting of guilt for not being more sociable, happy, chatty or whatever, but you know what? That’s okay! How I’m feeling is, for the most part, my business, and if I think being around people will make me feel even a tiny bit better, then that’s what I’ll do. If they’re my friends, they’ll give me space to feel however I feel at that moment and maybe try to make me feel better. If not, to hell with them – they’re not worth my time. A little digression there, but the great thing about those real friends, is that even in times where you don’t care about yourself or anything else, they still do. Take a moment and think about that. They still love you and care about you even when you’re not yourself, because they know you’re still in there somewhere, even if you don’t believe it at the time.

Another thing which has helped a little in keeping me from completely drowning in my own mind has been the knowledge that these feelings (which I’ve previously described here) are temporary – it won’t be like this forever, and although it’s taken time, I think it has made a difference. The biggest thing for me though, has been the aforementioned realisation that I’ve just gone along with the flow of it, thinking “it’ll pass, like it always does,” without really believing it or genuinely caring if it were true or not.

So to sum it all up – why should I care? Why should YOU care?
– Because that’s how we can start to make a positive change in our lives.

I feel like I have to add that if I had read something like this when I was at my worst, I probably would have shrugged it off as bullshit and/or thought something along the lines of “ah well, good for them, but why the fuck should I care?” For this reason, I hope you, if you’re struggling at this moment, at least try to take something from this, and I know you’ll probably not believe this (although it’s 100% true), but I do care about you and how you are doing.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts – whether you agree, disagree, think it’s all bullshit, or have other things that have helped you – leave a comment below or send me an e-mail!