Today marks World Mental Health Day, so I've decided to write a personal post opening up about my daily struggles and the methods I try to use to help me get by. I am by no means an expert on mental health issues, but I hope that by sharing my story, I am able to help at least one person.

Looking back, I have always suffered from low moods but it wasn't until my second year of university that I realised it was a bigger problem and one that I needed to stop suppressing. For an outsider you would have never guessed what was going on - I had just moved into a house with some nice girls, met my boyfriend and was pretty sociable, everything seemed fine.
I can't tell you what the catalyst was, but I found myself crying every day and soon started skipping lectures and seminars. When I would pluck up the courage to attend my uni sessions, I would be terrified of walking into the lecture theatre or I would run out of seminars because my chest would be extremely tight and I would quite literally run to the nearest toilets to cry - and because I didn't know why I was feeling the way I did, I became increasingly annoyed with myself.

On those days when I couldn't face university, I would be in bed in tears with my bedroom curtains drawn to a close. Just leaving my room to use the bathroom would fill me with dread and it was a chore for me to go downstairs to make a cup of tea, just in case I bumped into one of my housemates. I vividly remember a few occasions where two of my housemates would knock on my door asking for me and I wouldn't answer. I would hear them say, "Lola, are you in? Have you seen her today? Maybe she's not back yet..." 
Little did they know that I was in fact in, I was just laying in darkness with a million thoughts running through my mind. I wanted nothing more than to open my door and say, "yes girls, I'm here. I'm not fine and I need you." 
But I couldn't even face myself let alone anybody else.


I had many people around me but I still felt so alone and was in a way, ashamed of myself. I carried on like this for quite a while until one pivotal moment that made me realise that I needed help and a lot of it - leading me to book an appointment with my doctor. I was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety half-way through my second year of university, it scared the hell out of me as I didn't know anybody else going through it and had only ever heard of the negative connotations associated with the two. However, I was glad to finally have an answer for why I was feeling the way I did.

Treatment was extensive and involved many therapy sessions both with a university counsellor and a hospital therapist. I slowly but surely managed to get through the rest of that year as well as my final year.

I also actively sought help whilst studying for my master's degree. I had left my friends and family behind, moved to a new city and had to get used to a different university. I struggled again, but my previous experience meant that instead of allowing it to fester, I got help as soon as I noticed a decline in my mental wellbeing.


Nobody asks to suffer from depression and anxiety, they just happen to be a part of some of us. They are horrible conditions that unfortunately still have societal stigmas attached to them. Still, to this day I purposely don't share the extent of how I'm feeling in case of judgement, but today I have decided to open up. Opening up and sharing how you feel can be positive, you never know who else is going through the same thing and may find that you are not alone.

Some helpful points:

1) It is important to socialise. I know that when you're down the last thing you want to do is to see other people, but it's good to have a break and laugh with friends. I've been guilty of neglecting mine recently due to how I feel, but it's good to know that whilst not all may understand, there are a good few who do and are on hand to help. 
Find those people and stick with them - help each other.

2) Seek medical help. I know first hand that going to a doctor might seem like admitting defeat, but believe me, there is nothing stronger than making this move. There are some things in life that we can't cope with alone and mental health is one of them, treat it exactly how you'd treat your physical wellbeing. Doctors can also refer you to therapists who are able to offer a range of services.

It is important to remind yourself that you are worthy and that there isn't a problem too big that cannot be solved. You just need to find what works for you and remember that each bad spell is only temporary.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or any other kind of mental health issue - talking to someone is a step in the right direction. The following lists just a few services that offer help:

LF
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Photography by Yossy.
Ah, our twenties. The best years of our life they say, your 'selfish years'. Although as time flies by, I'm finding myself questioning my level of selfishness. Am I taking full advantage of it? Can I be more selfish? Can I be working harder than I already am? Should I be making the effort to go out more, having weekly brunches and after work cocktails with friends? Should I be spending more time with family?
All these questions play on mind on a daily basis and are the premise of the inner battle I face. The battle being, doing all that I can and more to achieve my goals (no matter the sacrifices) versus living my youth to its full extent.

This fear of mine isn't baseless, I always set myself high goals and often push myself physically and mentally to achieve them. However, this hasn't gone unnoticed and I am constantly told to slow down and to well, actually live life. Whilst I understand the concern, I worry about reaching my mid-thirties and looking back on my twenties with deep regret that I didn't work hard enough, so I keep going. But as life progresses, I'm also starting to worry that I'll reach a point in life where I'll look back on my twenties with great sadness that I didn't experience all that I should have.

I'm 24 and very rigid by nature, so naturally I have very rigid plans, I have planned to accomplish key milestones by specific ages - so whilst my peers are maxing out the carefree existence of their twenties, I'm sat here juggling far too many projects and only exhausting myself more and more each day. I think that is the problem with rigid plans and not loosening up with life, you become unrealistic and want everything to happen now... right now.  

Therein lies the problem and I know that I'm not alone on this one. We are part of a generation that has become accustomed to things being instant. Need a taxi? Get one instantly using an app. In a rush at the supermarket? Use the self-checkout. All these little aspects of life give the false identity of easiness. I see my peers saving and becoming homeowners, others travelling the world and then there are those that are quickly climbing the corporate ladder - that's enough in itself to make me want to push myself to my absolute limit in order to attain the same achievements now. It doesn't exactly make me happy (comparison is the thief of joy after all) and I tend to forget all the positive things that I've personally done or down-play them when they are relayed to me. This is why it's difficult to fulfil the selfish years because I am too busy trying to force the future into now, so I'm not living in the moment.

Lately, I have come to the realisation that I am in a place in life where I am old enough to want it all, but too young to have it all, and it's ok. Accepting this is making me slowly embrace the rest of my selfish years and the reckless abandon that comes with it. I am recognising that it doesn't it have to be one or the other - I can have my fun, enjoy life yet still work hard and keep my ambitions.

There we have it - it's great to be young and ambitious, but to want it all now can be damaging. It can cost you relationships, friendships and your health. It's ok to take advantage of our twenties, to make mistakes and revel. This is the one time in life where being selfish is encouraged, nobody wants to look back and have no fond memories to reminisce on. I certainly don't, so here's hoping that I get the balance right.


LF
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Photography by Yossy.
I'll admit that Budapest wasn't at the top of my travel list, mainly because I didn't know much about the city. However, after visiting a few months back, I realise that it is an amazing destination and one that should feature on everyone's list! From its stunning architecture, deep history, good food and a myriad of activities on offer - Budapest really is a traveller's dream. Oh, and did I mention how affordable it is?! 
It is often regarded as the cheapest European city destination and believe you me, your money definitely goes a long way here. 

WHERE TO GO

Great Market Hall (Central Market Hall), Vámház krt. 1-3

Great Market Hall, or Central Market Hall as it is sometimes known, is based on the Pest side of the city. As with most of the buildings in Budapest, its architecture is absolutely gorgeous (so even if you don't plan on buying anything, I'd suggest going just to see the overall beauty of the building). However, if you are feeling a bit spendy then you'll find yourself completely spoilt for choice as the indoor market boasts an array of fruit, vegetables, baked goods, deli food and multiple souvenir stalls. 


THE LANDMARKS

Fisherman's Bastion, Szentháromság tér
Fisherman's Bastion offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city from its Disney-esque terraces. You can buy a ticket on the day which not only enables you to gain access to the terrace, but also gives you entry to Matthias Church (another must-see landmark). 

Both locations happen to be in the same area as Buda Castle which again provides great views and can be reached by the infamous Buda Castle Funicular.

No trip to Budpest is complete without a tour of the Danube. It is Europe's second longest river and runs right through the city, dividing the Buda and Pest sides. There are numerous companies offering day and night tours, as well as lunch and dinner cruises, so whichever company you decide upon depends solely on what sort of experience you are after. 


WHERE TO EAT

Kiosk Budapest, Március 15. tér 4
For the tastiest club sandwiches and the best mojitos that you will ever have, Kiosk Budapest is the place to be! Located close to the banks of the river Danube, it is a stylish restaurant by day and a popular bar during the evenings. The menu is small but very reasonably priced and the accommodating staff are always on hand should you need any help.

Madal Cafe, Alkotmány u. 4
Madal Cafe has three branches around the city and its zen atmosphere is based on the peace philosophies of Sri Chinmoy. I won't lie, I don't know much about Sri, but I do know that Madal makes the best coffees and cheesecakes around. If you're a healthy juice lover, then you'll have no trouble in that department as they have a great selection of pressed juices and vegan snacks.

Head to Seasons Bistro if you're after a beautiful dinner setting, complete with a live pianist. Seasons is slightly more expensive than some of the other restaurants on the Buda side of the city, but it is completely worth it - the food is well done, flavoursome and well presented. Do note that it's a popular location so I suggest booking a table in advance in order to avoid disappointment.

When it comes to bars and club, Budapest is renowned for its ruin pubs such as Szimpla Kert . I personally did not enjoy Szimpla as much as I thought would - many people recommended it to me, but I found it far too busy and definitely a tourist trap. However, just a few doors down you'll find the Illegal Pub & Club, don't be put off by the name, it's a lovely little local pub with the friendliest staff. I'm not sure if my boyfriend and I went on a particularly quiet night, but it was definitely a much more chilled atmosphere when compared to Szimpla and the prices were a lot cheaper too.

 GETTING AROUND


Budapest has a fantastic public transport system including a very popular tram system, making it incredibly easy to get around the city. You could also walk around the city if you're staying there longer than a few days. However, if you find that you are unable to shake off that Uber addiction, download Taxify - it is the equivalent used in Budapest due to Uber being banned over there (oops)! The great thing about Taxify is that you can pay with cash, so there's no need to start adding your card to the app if you don't want to.

Budapest is a surprisngly great city and I now see why it is referred to as the 'Paris of the East.' If it's not on your list of European destinations, it definitely should be now.

LF
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Sundays, the day of 'rest' and also the day that fills many of us with dread as it heralds the start of a new work week and let's face it, nobody actually wants to get up early on Monday morning bracing themselves for another week of hellish commuting.
I'm not sure about you but when Sunday morning rolls around, I often myself laying in bed with a cup of green tea, musing over new YouTube videos and catching up on posts from some of my favourite bloggers. I find it to be a nice way to ease myself into the day and being inspired by pretty darn good content to get me through the upcoming week.

With this in mind and with my promise to regularly upload on Sundays, I have decided to create a series entitled 'Sunday Stories.' It will be a way for me to share with you all the things that I've loved, lusted over and sometimes, disliked (because you can't always love everything) over the week. I'm hoping that my new series will provide you with some inspiration in the same way that I find it through other creative content, as well as just being something for you to enjoy reading whenever and wherever you fancy it.

THIS WEEK...

THE ALBUM
I have something to tell you (pun most definitely intended), everyone's favourite sister act with a penchant for great riffs, awesome snares and killer style, are back with a new album and boy oh boy, it has definitely been worth the wait! Haim released 'Something To Tell You' on Friday and it is every bit as amazing as I anticipated. It's so good in fact, it has left me longing to be the adopted fourth Haim sister - not entirely sure how that'll work, but there's nothing wrong with a bit of wishful thinking. 
If you want to listen to music that will make you dance as though you're in an 80s flick - Molly Ringwald dreams anybody?! - you can listen to the album here.
STAND-OUT SINGLE: Nothing's Wrong.

THE VLOGS
My favourite vlogs this week come by way of two lovely ladies from Norwich - both of whom are named Laura (yes, this isn't lost on me either). When it comes to YouTube I've found that I'm not as interested in the platform as I once was and it has dawned on me that maybe it is because I need to subscribe to new channels instead of watching the same vloggers over and over again. That is why I love what both Laura's do with their channels - I seriously feel as though I'm having a casual conversation with friends when watching their vlogs and that to me is so important when watching YouTube videos, I love it when there is a sense of relatability and you the distance between viewer and content creator isn't glaringly obvious. 
This week both girls have been giving me major #housegoals (I'm aware that #goals isn't really a thing anymore, but roll with me on this one):
Laura W and her hubby recently became home-owners and moved into their very beautiful first home together, I've been following their journey on Instagram so I really enjoyed watching their moving vlog and seeing the end result. 
Laura S can usually be found making changes to her home and I love every interior choice that she makes - her office makeover in this week's vlog has got me looking forward to the day that I can have my own office and make all my interior dreams come true.

THE INSTAGRAM
I first started blogging way back in sixth form college rather sporadically mind, but one of my biggest influences back then and still to this day is the wonderful Emily Johnston from Fashion Foie Gras. Emiy's blog is great but I've found myself loving her Instagram profile more and more lately - I find the vibrant colours, stunning destinations and hoardes of gorgeous buildings so dreamy. Emily is the kind of girl you'd go for afternoon tea with and who wouldn't mind you getting all the shots for the 'gram that you need.

THE READ
I'm sure you will have all read the interview of the moment with Lucinda Chambers- ex Vogue Fashion Director. A no holds barred insight into the fashion industry, it is a refreshing piece on what to expect and what is to be expected in that scene. The interview highlights that as successful and as inspiring as Lucinda is, she still faces the same doubts and fear of failure as you and I - it's comforting to know that you're not alone in that sense. I can't recommend this read enough.

LF


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