Book Reviews

A Court Of Thorns And Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

Another book series by one of my new favourite authors 🙂

A Court Of Thorns And Roses is book one in a trilogy, which is centred around Feyre.

The story starts with introducing Feyre and her life with her two sisters and father in their small cottage in a small village. Feyre’s father is a single parent who has recently lost their future throwing them into a life of poverty.

Feyre is the youngest sister, and also the hunter-gatherer of the family once things get hard. Literally. Feyre ventures into the nearby woods to hunt for food, and to try to get money from selling the pelts of her kills.

One day in the woods changes Feyre’s, and her families, lives forever.

Feyre becomes ensnared into the world of Fae, living beyond the ominous “wall” separating the human and the Fae worlds. In the Spring Court Feyre has many surprises as she finds herself experiencing things she had never thought possible and had given up on.

Just as Feyre had resigned herself to the fact of losing her life and family, she discovers a whole new life waiting for her.

Just as I did with Sarah J. Maas’s Throne Of Glass series, I found myself reading this book in any spare moment I had – even if it was literally just a minute here and there. I don’t know what it is about her writing but she hooks me in every time!

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars!

*featured image taken from sarahjmaas.com

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My Mental Health Journey

The Truth

I want to help people. I want to help myself. I want to change the world, for better. Cliché right? I want to be the person that everyone comes to, not necessarily because I know everything (no one can know everything), but because they have faith in me and my abilities, and feel comfortable and not scared or intimidated to come to me for help. I want them to know that I actively want to help them, that it honestly gives me joy to the centre of my being helping others, and seeing them grow, whatever and however it may be.

I want to make the world a better place. There are so many ugly things going on in the world every single day. And from where I am sitting, the cause? People, and the way they treat each other. I honestly feel like every problem in the world is caused by, and could be fixed by, the way that people treat each other. If people legitimately treated others the way that they wanted to be treated, stopped to consider what others may currently be going through, or thought how they could positively impact others’ lives, the world would be a more beautiful place. Sure, you have those whom are genuinely “bad” people who don’t care either way, but perhaps if they had been given a chance, had had positive influences and opportunities in their lives, how different would they be?

I want to make myself better. A better human being. A non-medicated, happy, healthy human being. Someone I can admire. Someone I can be proud of.

But the truth? The truth is I am hopeless. Right now I can’t even figure out how to help myself, let alone those around me, let alone the world at large!

Don’t get me wrong – I will continue to help others around me as they need it, and as they ask for it. I am one of those people who will be so exhausted and so worn down, but still put others before my own needs. Some people view this type of personality as a good thing, some view it as a bad thing, personally the jury is still out for me on this one. I get so much joy helping others, but sometimes I am still giving when I have nothing left and wear my self down.

The truth is, right now, I can feel myself spiralling. Down, down, down. I have felt like this before. On and off for honestly 12yrs. I will seem to be ok for a few years and then bam! Seemingly out of nowhere, things will either start piling up or I will just out of nowhere I will feel overwhelmed by nothing. The anxiety that starts as the random nasty thought, that then progresses to anxiety, and then tears on through to full blown paranoia….

And then the self harm starts. Or I start drinking. Or I take more pain killers than I should, more often than I should. I contemplate what would happen if I doubled up on my anxiety meds. Or I start pushing people away. Or I do the opposite, and become obsessed with becoming close friends with people who are currently just acquaintances… Or I go the other way again and start questioning the motives of everyone around me, do they mean what they are saying, why are they doing this, what are they saying to other people etc. Or a combination of multiple of these.

And whilst I recognise the whole way through that my behaviour and thoughts are completely erratic, irrational, crazy, harmful to myself and others, and completely unhelpful, I cannot stop it. I cannot stop myself. And then I drive myself even more crazy hiding my instability from others. Because I then have blind terror over what will happen if others realise how completely crazy I am. Its like when you drop something, or someone else drops something, and it feels like everything is going in slow motion, like an accident; you can see it happening, in minute detail, but you can’t do a single thing to stop it. Its like you are a paralysed spectator to your own life.

So then I feel like a complete hypocrite for wanting to help others. How can I help anyone else if I can’t even help myself?

 

My Mental Health Journey

When You Feel Like Your Life Is Spiraling Out Of Control, You Cling To Any Form Of “Control” You Can….

Sometimes you get overwhelmed. Sometimes it might be for an hour, or for a day, or for a week. Or it might be more long term. Months. Maybe even years, if you can hold out that long. I dont know that I could.

When you feel like your life is spiraling out of control, you cling to any form of “control” you can. Literally any; some of it might be almost “healthy” – you might get your nails done, or your hair done, you might change your wardrobe, you might start studying, start eating healthy and exercise, change your job, or get a new car, hell you might even move.

Coz having any form of control is better than having none right? No matter how small, or  insignificant it may seem. Getting that makeover, moving, buying new things, new diet and fitness routine, it makes you feel better. It makes you feel grounded. It makes you feel less worthless. Less useless. Stronger. More in control……. And less like others are dictating your existence in this world..

But then you have the “unhealthy” control attempts (situation dependent); you might get a tattoo and/or a piercing, you might start self-harming, you might irrationally cut people out of your life, you may start substance abuse (either in the form of drugs or alcohol, or both), you make take “health and fitness” too far and become anorexic or bulimic or exercise to the point you make yourself sick, you might start extreme sporting or doing dangerous physical activities. The list could literally go on forever.

This is another post that is being written over multiple sessions. Some posts are just so personal, so important, I feel like I need to get it perfect.

And I also don’t know how good a job I am doing of that right now…

Feeling like your life is spinning out of control is scary. Its so overwhelming that you sometimes feel like you can’t breath. You feel like you are getting crushed from the outside in. Or sometimes even from the inside out.

The logical part of your brain may even be able to rationalise that things will be ok. That you do have options. That things don’t last forever. That you do have support around you, and people who care about you and want to help you.

Unfortunately none of that helps the feeling of being so overwhelmed you feel like you are drowning.

And perhaps even worse than this? Is the “knowledge” that if one of your problems, possibly even two, was solved that you would feel…. Back in control? Like you caught enough of a breath in your lungs to push your body to the surface towards the sun? Like rather than tumbling head over tail down a steep cliff face you are putting one foot in front of the other and tackling that mountain to happiness, and winning?

But what do you do to get yourself out of this hole? Because sometimes you can sit back, and make a list of all of the rocks dragging you to the ocean floor. And from there you can try to work out what you can do to ease those burdens. And maybe you can only see the solution for one. Or maybe two. Or maybe even all of them if you can manage it. (And good for you if you can!!!). I guarantee though even if you can solve one problem you can feel worlds lighter. It may even surprise you, the thing that seemed the hardest might be the easiest, and vice versa.

If you can’t see an out though? If you can’t see through the forest for the trees what then? I seriously suggest reaching out. Talk to someone. Anyone. Friends, family, even a professional if you need to. It can be hard when you are in the middle of something to see perspective. And sometimes you honestly need external intervention to pull you out of your current funk into something happier and healthier.

I found myself in this overwhelming funk quite recently. Which obviously prompted this post. I was drowning. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like there must be solutions to every single one of my problems, but I couldn’t see a single one, and even the hint of one had me running so much faster and further away with the irrational thoughts that I would probably just make it worse.

So how did I get out of it? I am still one foot in one foot out of it at the moment. But I am one foot out of it. And that is what I am currently focusing on. I am almost out of it. And this time, I didn’t pull myself out. I have been pulled out. I have had external help, and I am being pulled into shore on a life raft.

You do feel empowered when you are able to pull yourself out of your funk. Or at least I know I do, every time I do manage to do it. I feel empowered, and strong, and invincible. But you know what else? When I need help I don’t feel the opposite of these things; I don’t feel weak, or helpless, or useless. Asking for, and accepting, help requires you to be strong. Admitting you need help is not a weakness, it is a strength.

Human beings are so diverse. And I don’t think thats an accident. People are good at different things. No-one is good at everything. Just as no-one is bad at everything. You may have times when you feel like you are good at nothing; but I promise you that isn’t true.

 

Random Thoughts and Ideas · Uncategorized

Marriage Equality in Australia…

So this is a hard post for me. I dont even know if I will end up finishing and posting this. Or if I do, whether it will be in one sitting..

I have been “sitting on” this post for days now already. This is an issue that really hits home for me.

I believe in true love. I know, it sounds cliche and maybe just plain dumb. But it is the truth. If you have read any of my previous blog posts about my childhood, you know that my parents got divorced when I was a baby. You would also know that my “father” also isnt my father.. What I havent really previously touched on is the fact that from the ages of 4-8yrs old I was basically raised by my nan and grandpa. When my mother left my social father she moved her and I to another state. Then when I was close to 4 and getting ready to go to school my mother moved us in with my nan and grandpa as she preferred the schooling system in this state.. She then began working fulltime. Being a single mum good on her right. Her work ethic is amazing. And I did inherit that from her, and I am 99% glad of that lol. She also worked a lot of overtime. Again, good for her right trying to get as much money as she could. I didnt grow up in child care of with a babysitter, I was safe and happy with my grandparents. And I honestly wouldnt trade that time with them for everything in the world. They loved me so much. And they were my world. I’m not going to delve any further into my mother here, as this is actually about my grandparents. Again, I feel like I am digressing from the topic, but stick with me I swear it is relevant. And the best way I feel I can express how I feel about this..

I grew up wanting the love they had, for myself. And the older I got the more that desire grew. I wanted what they had. (And at this stage my eyes are welling with tears… My grandpa passed away two years ago. He was truly a beautiful soul). I wanted that love that could handle any obstacle that life threw their way. They never had serious, lasting fights (honestly, it was amusing – they would literally huff at each other, tell each other they were cranky, and after a few minutes of silence they were good to go!!). They built a life together, in every sense of the word. There was marriage, children, grandchildren, holidays, houses, cars, pets. They believed in each other, supported each other, encouraged each other. When we were in the hospital on my grandpa’s last day, my nan broke down and said that she didnt know how she was going to be able to live without him. That without him she would be lost. Their love is true, honest to god, soul mate love.

I honestly thought I would never get that. I would never have that beautiful love. I would never find someone who loved me like that. Who 100% loved me for me. Who accepted me for me. Who was always there. Who I would fall asleep next to every night, and wake up next to every morning. Who I would build a life with. Do all the wonderful things my grandparents had done. Get the house, get married, have kids, have holidays, support each other, and love each other no matter what. Find my soul mate.

And then I did. My partner… There are inadequate words in the English language to describe how much my partner means to me. How much better my life has become since we have gotten into a relationship.

My partner makes me want to be a better person. My partner actually does make me a better person. Makes me want to achieve more, and helped me do more. Lifts me up when I need it the most, makes me see the good in situations, drives me to reach further and farther than I ever thought possible.

Because of my partner I have travelled to every continent in the world, something I never thought I would do because I was so engrained that you can’t afford holidays and a mortgage growing up with a single parent home and money being tight. Because of my partner I am currently doing a degree at university, something I never thought I would do because I didn’t finish high school due to all the teenage drama that happens and I couldn’t do it anymore. Because of my partner, I have the dream that I can do what I want to do and make the world a better place through working for something that matters, and through compassion and understanding of others.

Because of my partner I can go to sleep every night with a smile on my face. I can wake up every morning knowing that I am loved. And that I love in return. We are building a life together. We have done so much travel, and have so much more planned. We are currently living in our second home, after upgrading from a small house to a house we can have a family in. And we are going to have a family.

Yeah we will have to go through the IVF process. It will take time. Potentially a year just to find a donor, let alone conception time and then the pregnancy itself. And it will also cost money. Potentially more than 10k per baby. But they will all be worth it. And I honestly cannot wait. I cannot wait to raise beautiful children with my beautiful partner.

And I also cannot wait for the day that my partner, my fiancé, is my wife. Because she is it. She is my soul mate.

My Mental Health Journey · Random Thoughts and Ideas

Everything You Have Ever Heard About Bullies is Right

We all know the cliche sayings; “They are just bullying you because they are jealous of you”, “They only bully people because they have low self-esteem” etc.

How many of you have heard these, or similar, sayings? Probably most of you, if not all.. And how many of you that has had these sayings said to them thought “Yeah right, whatever”, accompanied by a roll of the eyes and possibly a shake of your head? Again, I am going to guess and say probably most of you, if not all.

But, I say this with 100% sincerity, they are both accurate, they are both correct. Again, I can almost hear the collective sigh as you read this. But bear with me on this, because I dont say it lightly; bullying is a real problem in society, across most age brackets and in all different forms and levels of severity.

I have, like most people unfortunately, been a victim of bullying. I am currently 28, and I honestly still get it at times.. Yes, at 28. If you are in your teen years reading this I with great sadness inform you that even though you age through years, not everyone matures and “grows up” with age. Whilst kids and teens can be cruel, adults can be just as cruel. I wish it werent the case, but in my experience, it is true.

By why would that bully be jealous of me? What do I have that they dont? They have everything in life and I dont. And on the list goes; they are prettier/skinnier/taller than me, they have nicer hair/eyes/skin tone/complexion, they are better than me at sports/maths/literature skills/people skills and popularity, they have more money than me/my family, they have a better job/house/car/spouse than me…. Human envy has no ending. But see how easy it is for your brain to point out how and why they are better/better off than you?

So is it really that much of a stretch to think that others have the same thought processes and journeys that you do? That you can look at them and see good things about them and their life, even if they have an “ugly” side, that they are currently displaying to you. Different people have different ways of dealing and coping with different things. Some people unfortunately use putting others down as a method of making themselves feel better. The theory behind this? If they make you feel like crap, its easier to make you feel even crappier (like wearing you down, the more they push you down the quicker and easier you go down), and when they cant pull themselves up they find it easier to push you down. And when your down, they are up, right?

Depending on the bully, and your relationship to/with them, you may or may not know what about their life isnt so perfect. And it could be any of the things I mentioned above. Or it may be something else entirely, something else I havent even thought of. But this is the important thing – you dont need to spread or increase the level of hatred that exists in the world by then feeding on what they are bullying you with, and responding to their bullying by bullying them back.

As well as being the important thing, its also the hardest thing. Believe me, I get it. It is all to easy for us to listen to what they are saying; we are our on worst enemy. Seeing our own flaws and imperfections and faults is second nature. So when others tell us that we are inadequate we just believe it. Whether its straight away, or whether it eats away at us.

We also have the fight or flight instinct. Which means that another natural response is to become angry. Which also then increases our chances of lashing back at them in a self defense move. But you know what? That makes it harder, makes it worse. Because you then activate their fight response, and around in circles it goes. And goes. But where does it end?

It will take practice, and I feel that it is easier when it is an ongoing issues (due to the re-occurrence), but you can let it go. You can let it not affect you. And once you get to that point, you will feel so at peace. And maybe you do this by recognizing that their life isnt perfect. That they have flaws. That they have things that are unhappy about with themselves. That they arent perfect beings. So long as in doing this you DONT then become the bully yourself. This isnt about doing to them what they are doing to you by throwing it back at them, but by reassuring yourself that whilst you arent perfect, neither are they. 

Or, maybe, when you are having a good moment, on a good day, you can sit and write yourself a reminder list of all the things you like about yourself, and all of your successes. Or start the list and build upon it as time progresses. And it could be anything. A physical attribute, and achievement, even how you felt when you helped someone else. And draw on that positivity in these times. Remind yourself what you are proud of, what makes you happy.

And let their negativity just float past you. Like cars on the other side of the road to you; it approaches you, you see it, and then it is behind you.

And remember, this will take practice to master. You wont get it the first time, but if you practice, you will get it.

On a last note – if you need help, ask for it. From friends, family, loved ones, professionals. There are so many resources available to those who need help. It is never ok for people to make you feel any less of how amazing you are.

My Mental Health Journey

Scars On Top Of Scars…

So, today… I have been thinking about this post all day, however now that I am sitting here to write it I am drawing a bit of a blank. On what to say. And how to say it. So I will just type and see what happens I guess………..

So, today, I met a girl. And her mother. I spoke to them for less than 5 minutes, probably. I was at work. The girl, at a guess, would have been 15-17 years old. And she was nice. And her mother was nice. Anyone reading this is probably thinking yeah ok whats so special about that?

This is where my breath catches. Where my stomach turns upside down and knots itself. And the more I think about it, it makes me want to throw up. It makes me sick and upsets me so. It makes me want to cry. I cant tell whether the urge to vomit or cry is stronger at this point.

You see, this beautiful girl has scars on top of scars. On every inch of her body/skin that I could see. Which was both of her arms from the mid-upper arm down, her neck/top of her chest that I could see from her shirt collar up, and even her face.

Not just any kind of scars. Most of them were pink or purple in colour. Thick. And layered and criss-crossed over the top of each other. As I said, on every inch of her skin that I could see. The cause of these scars? Self harm. Cut after slice after cut. Even on her face. She was wearing makeup, but you could still see the slices on her cheek….

The amount of pain that this girl is in to have inflicted herself so badly over time truly breaks my heart. A lot of people who cut (or I guess self-harm in general) will do it on parts of their body where no-one else can see it. I was like this when I was self harming years ago as well. Why? Because when you are truly in that amount of pain you are not doing it for “attention”. You are doing it because of the pain that you are in. And you want it to stop. And its stupid, but it does help. I dont know why. In the short term at least, anyway.

But this girl has obviously surpassed that level. By miles. And thats what hurts me. I have, dealing with the general public, over the past maybe 2-3 years seen an increase in the amount of people I have seen with self harm scars. And being a past self-harmer myself there is no judgement coming from me aimed towards these people. But these have all been past scars. This girl today. She has so many scars, but so many of them were fresh cuts too….

Now I am not going to judge this mother, I dont know their circumstances. But I can say, when I have children, I will do everything in my power to try to help my child/ren be happy and healthy. Obviously my first go-to would be to help them myself. But if that didnt work, I would seek outside sources. Whatever I needed to do. Counselling, medication, meditation, etc. And if that didnt work? Honestly, I would look at options to have them in housing with nurses and psychiatrists available around the clock. I would rather have my child hate me and be alive, than commit suicide and lose them forever. Even if they come out alive and recovered and still hated me, I could at least sleep at night knowing that I did what I could to give them a chance at a happy and healthy life.

All I can honestly say is I hope with my entire heart that this girl is getting the help that she needs.. My fear for her breaks my heart.

I'm a sperm-donor baby

Dear “Father”

This is a letter I have been wanting to write for awhile. And maybe after writing it and posting it on here I will get the courage to actually write it and give to you.

Dear “Father”,

I am going to start this by saying; how dare you think that this whole thing is because I finally know the truth. That you aren’t my biological father. How dare you think that I am that shallow that the fact you are not biologically related to you means I feel the hurt I do. Because that has nothing to do with the way I feel towards you anymore.

You want to know what is?

Your behavior. I just went to type my entire life. But, I will allow you that fairness. Lets say since I was 18 months old. When I was so sick in hospital I died four times. That I was so close to slipping into an irreversible coma. (The biggest thing that saved my life? My mother. Shouting at doctors that she knew there was something wrong, that they had to listen and look at me). And those months when I was hospital, and mum was practically living there too, where were you? You cheated on my mother. You left us both. When we needed you the most you left us both. And I want to know why. I will never ask you because I will never be able to trust that anything you say to me is the truth, But I want to know; was your thinking ever “not my child, not my problem?”

Once I was better mum moved us to another state. She never tried to stop you from seeing me; she told me that and I believe her. And yet you never made any attempts whatsoever to be in my life. And then mysteriously when we move back into the state all of a sudden you want to be father of the year? Wtf is that shit? Another question I want the answer to, that again I will never ask for fear of being lied to, did you just do it to look like a good father? So that people in your life who knew I existed, but not the truth, would think that you were a “good dad”?

Because I feel like if it was love, then you wouldn’t have treated me the way you have? Surely? Never showing up to spend time with me when you said you would when I was a kid. Letting me down time and again.

And then introducing the girlfriends, then one wife, as I grew older. Not that there were lots of girlfriends – only two, one of which you are married to now.. But. They always came first right? It was never what I wanted or needed, it was what they wanted or needed. The first girlfriend, the only time you “stood up for me” or was “on my side” was when we were going camping, and I left my pillow inside by accident. We had to go back, thankfully only like 2mins after we left, and in my haste to get it I ran inside, tripped, and had to get stitches in my leg. I was 10. The gf and her kids were complaining about the camping trip getting cancelled, but you said no that I couldn’t go so it would get post-poned until I was fully healed. Not when she hit me. Not when she starved me. Not when she verbally abused me or excluded me. But when I needed stitches because I fell over.

And the wife. We’ll just stick to the worst. As prior to that she was wonderful to me. She kicked me out of home when I was 15. Because she had been told a lie about me. And rather than asking me she assumed it was the truth. We went through a week of being screamed at or being ignored, before it was a mutual kick-out/I had my bags packed to leave.. She forbid me from having any form of contact with my step sisters for like 8 months. Over christmas. Over birthdays. And did you stick up for me? Of course you didn’t. Even though you knew what was said wasn’t true, that what was happening wasn’t right. You did nothing.

And not that I am that shallow type the materialistic side of this matters; but I dont remember the last birthday or christmas present you gave me was that cost more than say $20. In her naivety my youngest step sister, that is 10yrs younger than me, told me one christmas you stopped at a petrol station to get cash out at an ATM because you had forgotten to buy me a present..

That was obviously before I actually stopped getting invited to christmas and family lunches/dinners. After everything I think thats what hurts the most; the fact that I was never thought of. That I was forgotten about. That I was so far off your radar that you could hold a family gathering and I wasn’t even a blip.

And the cincher? The icing on the cake for both my intolerance of the way you treated me, and the tip over for mum to finally tell me the truth about my own existence? You, coming into mine and my girlfriends home, asking ignorant and homophobic questions about our life and relationship. Asking which of us was the “guy” in the relationship. Which of us “wore the pants”. Or “made all the decisions”. The fact that you couldn’t understand that we are in a relationship, that we are in love, that we are partners – which seems to say a lot to me; that you dont understand what it means to be partners, to be equals.

And what do you even know about my life? The amount of times I have had to tell you where I work. What I am studying. Foods I dont eat. The list goes on. I bet you don’t even know what my favourite colour is?

But yes. Please. Continue to think and say that I have pulled away from you because I am shallow. Because I am the one at fault. That you are the victim.