26 February 2015

The Eyes Have It


I am very weary of being critical of positive intentions; I am the first to despair over people taking issue with a small detail, and failing to look at the bigger picture. The furore over  the "no make-up selfie campaign", or the race row involving Benedict Cumberbatch last month, are prime examples of this. 

That being said, a combination of this brilliant Huffington Post article  by Claire Greaves, and my own encounter with NEDA posts this week, has drawn my attention to the worrying prevalence of 'low weight pictures'. While I recognise that restoring a healthy weight is a huge personal triumph - that the "before and after" is meant as a positive example for why recovery should not to be feared - it comes at a cost. 

We are trying to break that stigma which associates an eating disorder with a protruding ribcage or emaciated frame. For someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, even someone in recovery, they will look at that low weight photo and draw comparisons. Comparison and denial are both common components of the illness; the sufferer convinces themselves that they do not warrant help, or are not 'sick enough'. 

 I do not think your body offers the best indication of health. What does? The eyes have it. You can bundle up your body in baggy clothes, strain a smile and force laughter out of it; however, you cannot mask the eyes of malnourishment. 


In all the photos above I am at a higher weight than in the photos below. In all the photos above I am more entrenched in an eating disorder than in the photos below. The girl above had worse blood results than the girl below. The girl below was not 'recovered', but she was far more free than the girl above, despite that number on the scale being lower.


Even people who are recovered, and go on to speak of their story in the media, often refer to numbers in their accounts. I cannot help but feel this is a part of the illness still lingering. That saying they had x hospital admissions, restricted to x calories, or reached x pounds, is a subliminal way to validate the illness. You do not need an NG tube to be malnourished. Anorexia nervosa is not, in nearly all cases, the total abstinence of food. It is not that black and white. 

The media does not help things. I remember journalist Emma Woolf saying, in a talk at the University of Exeter last year, how a journalist once asked her for low weight photos. This epitomises the prevalence of a disturbing "seeing is believing" culture, regarding eating disorders. Just the other day I saw a Mail Online headline: "Emmerdale star Gemma Oaten reveals how bullying led to eating disorder which saw her weight fall to FOUR-and-a-half-stone". Read on and you learn that she was around 11 years old at this time. Of course, that is still a shockingly low weight, by no means am I lessening the severity. But the headline does distort. 

I will be the first to admit that, when I read the headline, I did drew comparisons, if only for a fleeting moment. Needless to say, relative to Diabetes numbers, weight is not as overwhelming a preoccupation for me as it is for many struggling with an eating disorder; if I felt this way, how must countless of others? When you are focusing on health, you cannot cling to sickness. At least not at the beginning; too much of your mind will still be dominated by a voice that, however perversely, craves it. 

The skeletal stereotype only exacerbates this.
photo credit: nedaawareness.org

Perhaps I am doing a disservice to many people who, like I said at the start, had only the best intentions this week, in raising awareness. Nonetheless, if there is one thing I have learnt, it is that no part of you should stay attached to a number.

When you die, what would you have your epitaph read? Name. 90 lbs. Or: Name. 90 life achievements. 

Things that were only possible to achieve, because you had the health to do so. That number will mean nothing, and it cannot give you anything now. It is something I remind myself of daily - sometimes multiple times a day - because the illness can so easily overwrite reason, in favour of ritualistic counting, comparing and self-criticising. 

Eating disorders can wreak havoc at any weight. Their severity is not measured in pounds. It hurts you mentally, and yes this can a dangerous physical impact, but attaching everything to a visual appearence is a misconception that needs to be challenged. 
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24 February 2015

I Had No Idea


I had no idea that food could become so tied to self-worth.

I had no idea that the a slice of bread could provoke tears.

I had no idea that I could not simply eat normally again; recovery is a long process that requires so much mental and physical strength.

I had no idea how quickly and unconsciously an eating disorder can take hold.

I had no idea that, despite reaching such a good place in recovery, it can take hold again. Recovery is not a linear process; it takes, on average, 6 years from onset to fully recover.

I had no idea that the mortality rate for anorexia is 20%, with only 40% reaching a state of full recovery. I am resolute that I will be in this 40%. 

I had no idea how deceptive and narrow-minded an eating disorder makes you.

I had no idea how much I could lose to this illness.

I had no idea that a mental illness could be equally, if not more, destructive than my underlying chronic illness. 

I had no idea the prevalence of eating disorders in type one diabetes. Diabetes UK estimates that 1 in 3 T1Ds will struggle with some form of an eating disorder. I had no idea, despite the prevalence, how little awareness there is of this comorbidity.

I had no idea how unnecessarily restrictive I was around food, as a type one diabetic.

I had no idea how great an impact my eating disorder was having on those around me.

I had no idea how truly strong and understanding my family would be, never giving up on me and tirelessly supporting me through both illnesses.

I had no idea the extent of the stigma surrounding mental health.

I had no idea how much I may have misperceived mental illness in the past.

I had no idea that mental health resources in this country were so under-provided for.

I had no idea how much the media propagates misinformation regarding diabetes management.

I had no idea how much the media, despite progress, still stereotypes anorexia and other eating disorders.


If I had no idea, than nor potentially do millions of others out there.



Please watch my video for #timetotalk on the importance of early intervention, which includes a call for greater mental health funding, specifically for eating disorders. I wouldn't be told to wait 3 months for insulin. An Eating Disorder was no more a choice than Type One Diabetes. While recovery does come down to personal actions, a support system is often vital for taking those first steps away from the illness. 

It is time to talk, but it is also time to act. 
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21 February 2015

Coffee, Coats and Quotes.

Featuring savoured espresso shots, thoroughly worn-in blazers and little life quotes to live by… this post may be seemingly lacking in purpose, but it does have a point. 


Seeing my little bubba's face never gets old. 



She might be three years old in June (and in dog years older than me, come August…) but in looks and personality she will always be a puppy in my eyes! Going back home to Bath more frequently this term, has allowed me to see a lot more of her, which I am certainly not complaining about.

It also involves seeing more of this...


I am so fortunate to 'live' in two truly beautiful Cities - Exeter is not one to be underestimated! 


Nonetheless, Bath just about edges it in aesthetic appeal - with georgian architecture, cobbled pavements and storybook side streets, it is the perfect postcard City. That being said, when it comes to a more specific form of beauty, Exeter might take the biscuit. The subject in question? Coffee.

          Boston Tea Party                                                   Devon Coffee                                                    Artigiano's

Exeter is developing a bit of a reputation for its 'cafe culture'. This is something I will dedicate a post to exclusively, in the imminent future - there is still one cafe left on my list, before I can do this! I thought Bath was good for smaller/independent chains, with Society Cafe, Jazz Cafe and Boston Tea Party all nestled in Kingsmead square.

Yet it pales in comparison to Exeter! While BTP also features here, and I do remain a loyal customer (my stamp card will attest to that), Artigiano posed strong competition. It is quite pricy, but the origin coffee they use is possibly second to none. Moreover, the coffee art does trumps BTP. Milk hearts are one thing, the Artigano leaf takes foam painting to a whole new level. 

A few stops East of Boston, there lies Devon Coffee, which up until last week I had never visited (largely due to my love for the former). However, earlier this week I made the bold decision to branch out. What unfolded was the start of a happy (and potentially expensive) new relationship.

photo credit: food-mag.co.uk

The cafe itself is so wonderfully rustic. The espresso aroma hits you as you enter, but it is in a comforting, rather than overwhelming, way. Then I saw the mug cosys - knitted sleeves to go round your coffee cup, the likes of which I have only seen before on Etsy… need I say more?

The coffee art was superior even to Artigiano, and as for taste - well I sipped. I smiled. I savoured. Price wise, it is cheaper than Artigiano and on par with BTP. Taste wise, it is very comparable to the former, thanks to their use of the same Origin Espresso coffee. The milk had been frothed to an even velvetier consistency, making for a rather perfect Cappuccino. I will definitely be returning! However, those Boston hearts will not be completely abandoned - variety is the shot of life.

***

So, yes - as far as coffee goes, Exeter is superior. But home is where the heart is; sipping on coffee in Bath's BTP, complete with my mum's company and cobbled stones outside, makes for a happy Sophie. Shopping trips also call for shop browsing, and a trip to River Island (not my usual first port of call) resulted in a couple of purchases. Given my latest stance against the High Street, upon discovery of the bargain barn (aka Ebay), this was quite a feat.

                                                                                                                         Blazer, £40     Top, £18     both River Island    

The daisy design of the right top is gorgeous and will go with anything; I also like the fact it has sleeves, so needn't be worn with my usual staple cardigan. Thankfully, the weather is becoming warmer, but this will keep off the remnants of the winter chill.

Then I managed to secure an item I have been hunting down online for a good fortnight now… a longline blazer! It ticks the boxes that Forever 21 (size) and Ebay (aesthetic appeal) both missed out on. I own two coats - one duffle and the other tweed - and a denim jacket. I consequently lacked an 'in between' - the length and style of a coat, but lightweight and thus perfect for entering spring. As with the top, it goes with dresses, skirts, jeans and pretty much every colour in my wardrobe too.

The top on the left wasn't a purchase, but I couldn't not try it on - my mum was also insistent on this, and slightly crestfallen when the actual style didn't match up to the sentiment! I love a good quote; it's the English student in me. Yet this one, in particular, really hit home for me. Expectation is often my downfall. Expectations of myself, and other people, make that risk of disappointment greater. Moreover, in both cases, I always find myself sat on the self-blame train.

Consequently, I have tried to remember this quote, in the last week. Namely not expecting too much of myself. When my blood sugar was low upon waking up the other day, I didn't push myself to go to my 9am lecture; I had two other classes later that day, and realised that to meaningfully engage with (appreciate) those would be nigh-on impossible, in a hypoglycaemic state. I could watch the lecture the next day online - that is okay.

In the past week, I have tried to appreciate things more. Appreciate those moments when my blood sugar is on-side. Appreciating the opportunities of my degree; I really enjoyed the reading last week -  The Star of the Sea - and am looking forward to planning the topics for my summative essay this weekend. I am studying English because I love it.

Finally, I am appreciating my last days as Online Books Editor for Exeposé. I hope to be successful in the upcoming election and be on committee next year, but again - expect nothing.  Appreciate the here and now.

Those little things do add up, and they do matter.


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19 February 2015

The Hypo Hangover

I wanted to do a little post on those pesky first-thing blood sugar readings. Every T1D will have experienced it. You wake up with one or more of several symptoms:


  • A searing headache. Those ones where you wonder if your pillow somehow morphed into a brick overnight. 
  • Unquenchable thirst - suddenly that cold tea from the night appear to you as God's nectar. This is also accompanied with that dry mouth, sticky-throat feeling. 
  • Blurred vision - these words on a page (last-minute seminar reading) might as well be written in morse code. 
  • Can't stop thinking about food, specifically? Carbs. Yet the thought of rolling out of bed, let alone standing up, is quite traumatic. 


Assumption: Hangover. Get over your pity party.

Reality: well, yes, it is a hangover, but not an alcohol induced one. Welcome to the blood sugar hangover.

photo credit: reddit.com
Or rather (much to the delight of my English student mind) the hypo/hyper hangover. Hyper hangover sounds quite oxymoronic, come to think of it… Like Eeyore on steroids or Tigger after a night out. 

On the subject of Winnie the Pooh, a low blood sugar diabetic would probably be quite enthralled by Pooh's honey hoard. Your mind goes into survival mode, and in the hypo situation this = glucose. I've had times where I've eaten spoons of jam on their own, in an attempt to get it back up. In that moment, everything becomes very black-and-white and you zone out of everything else!  

Now the hangover part is in reference to a low/high blood sugar first thing. This occurrence is particularly bothersome because, like the standard hangover, it really can mess up your day. Hypo recovery, in particular, can takes a good few hours. I woke up with a low this morning, and typing this now at 5pm still feel the effects! With highs, I find my 'recovery time' is quicker, but in that moment I feel a lot worse. For me with eating, it can also cause a lot more mental anxiety, which is far from ideal. But I always try to stay on plan, and not let blood sugar impact my decisions.

For the hypo hangover, I've experimented with a few things to try and amend it. I do find that breakfast straight away is a good option, usually cereal. I personally like oats and all-bran, as with other cereals I can get the dreaded bounce-back. But it still has the carbs to help get my blood sugar back up. I also find that green tea is a wonder for alleviating the headache - coffee can often only add to that jittery feeling! 

Finally, rest. I have missed classes before, due to blood sugar, and while this does induce such guilt… sometimes it is for the greater good. You are only human, and self-care should always come first. Running around will only risk your blood sugar dipping again. Give it time to get back to a normal level, and then continue with your day as best as you can. These things happen, but don't be hard on yourself. This is something I need to keep telling myself, too! 

How do you manage a hypo hangover? 


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13 February 2015

Bookmarked: I Was Here



Two of my fastest - and most memorable - reads of last summer were Ava Dellaira's Love Letters to the Dead (spotlighted in a recent post) and Gayle Forman's If I Stay. Consequently, when I heard the premise for the latter author's newest release, and saw striking parallels to the former novel, I was intrigued. Then the book arrives, and on the back is an endorsement from Stephen Chbosky… I'm almost sold. However, it takes reading the work yourself to confirm this - I am someone who is staunchly opposed to adopting popular opinion as law (*cough* Wolf Hall *cough*) So, was I sold? In short, I turned the final page at 3:30am, having covered a good two thirds of the book in one sitting - not interrupted by a single tea break.  That is very telling. Yet the more specific deals of this literary transaction, shows why it is a book is worth purchasing. 

It centres the character of Cody, a teenage girl who, on the cusp of adulthood, sees her world upended by the death (suicide) of her best friend, Meg. I do feel writing "best friend" is somewhat of a disservice, for reading the novel it is clear that their relationship was more akin to that of sisters. This only makes the sense of loss, and unravelling compassion for Cody, all the more acute. In the aftermath of the death, it is also Cody who shoulders many of the burdens involved, namely going to Meg's college and rationalising all the belongings she left behind. 

My one criticism of the book is that the opening struggled to take off, and was teetering towards generic. I struggled to engage with Cody at the very beginning, and feared the book could be a regurgitation of YA tropes. Moreover, I also found it difficult to warm to the characters introduced at Meg's college, and I am a very character-driven reader. Nonetheless, my faith in Forman (and Mr Chbosky) saw me continue. For me the turning point came at Chapter 12, where a series of catalysing events commenced my  marathon reading session. 

The plot was this story's accelerator; nonetheless, ultimately it was Cody made me want to stay for the long-haul. She did remind me at times of Dellaira's Laurel, particularly given their situations in having lost a sibling (for Cody and Meg essentially are). However, as I warmed to Laurel this was a welcome similarity. The key is striking a delicate balance between focusing on the subject of the story - the death itself, and details of the person lost - but also giving life to the true protagonist. 

Cody stood her ground in the story; the novel contains frequent references to Cody and Meg's "symbiotic" relationship yet, the more I learnt about Meg, the more I found myself respecting Cody's differences. In response to Cody's questioning of "[is there] even a me without her?", by the end of the novel her narrative represents a resounding yes. Cody is real; her no-nonsense outlook and unwavering resolve are traits to be admired, and come into their own for the plot's climatic end. Nevertheless, the character I found myself most drawn to was Ben; far more than meets the eye, the synchronicity with his and Cody's backstories also provided a subplot that prevented the book being too narrowly focused. By the end, part of me did wish that more time could have been dedicated to this storyline, as I felt it would have allowed for more character development. While I liked Cody, I didn't fall in love with her as I did characters such as Chbosky's Charlie. 

It is, at times, a highly unsettling read - any convincing story on this subject inevitably will be, and Foreman's storytelling skills far transcend the majority of YA fiction writers. The more that Cody uncovers regarding Meg's death, the more disquieting it is. It didn't quite have the suspense of We Need to Talk About Kevin and Gone Girl, but it was enough to see me, at one point, physically recoil from the book's pages. This book does needs to be approached with caution; if you have been personally affected by suicide, either through the death of a loved one, or have yourself experienced suicidal thoughts, the second half of this book in particular could be highly distressing. Yet the author is very careful in how she approaches it, and any romanticised notions of suicide postulated by certain characters, are swiftly countered. 

This novel carried two powerful messages for me, which the Author's Note at the end also evidences. 

Depression Does Not Discriminate


This is a pervading message of many mental health charities and campaigns, yet carries so much weight in Forman's novel. Recounting her experience of writing an article about suicide, she describes how, during her research, she found she "kept forgetting [she] was reporting a piece on suicide". The basis for Meg's character, a real-life girl named Suzy, adds further poignancy to the story we receive in I Was Here. It is a sobering reminder that, no matter how full of life and light a person may seem, illnesses such as depression do not discriminate. 

As someone with experience of depression (both personal, and having heard other people's stories), I can absolutely attest to this. It always provokes, for me, the Perks of Being a Wallflower quote, where Charlie talks about pain as relative: "even if somebody has it much worse, that doesn't really change the fact that you have what you have". The following analogy used by Cody's mother is a prime example of why stigma regarding regarding mental health exists today:
"you had a pile of rocks, and you cleaned them up pretty and made a necklace. Meg got jewels, and she hung herself with them".   
Nonetheless, what Forman does stress in her Afterward is the importance of accepting help. This is something I am a strong advocate for; mental illness is not a choice, but choosing recovery can be. Whether this is through therapy (for which there are a multitude of avenues) or medication, addressing the illness as you would any physical condition, is essential. Just as with Cancer and chemotherapy, Diabetes and insulin or, to use the analogy Forman provides, pneumonia and antibiotics, it is accepting the medicine. It will not be a magical cure, but it offers a better prognosis. The alternative, one that both Suzy and Forman's Meg took, is the polar opposite of this.


The Online Underworld  


Charities such as beat provide an
invaluable resource for those struggling.
The internet can be both life-saving and taking. With the ever-growing issue surrounding mental health funding (particularly the UK), the availability of support online can be even more of an important lifeline. I have found online resources - from websites such as Beat, to the blogging community, an invaluable tool for my own recovery; however, I have also learnt the necessity of exercising caution. For every 'recovery' tag, there is a 'thin' tag or a 'depression' one, and the former is at risk of being exploited, by those who use the latter.

I have never used or read any form of pro mental illness website, but I am aware of their existence. Fearne Cotton presented a disturbing, yet powerful, documentary on the prevalence of 'pro-ana' websites, and the need to address them. Author and Journalist Emma Woolf, meanwhile, herself a recoverer from anorexia, has condemned their existence; I saw her do so in person at the University of Exeter last year.

photo credit: huffingtonpost.co.uk
In I Was Here, Foreman uncovers the world of 'suicide support sites', which are anything but supportive in their propagation of suicide. This is the element of the novel that I earlier referenced in terms of approaching with caution. The book includes 'responses' from people advocating suicide, which are unsettling to read. Nonetheless, by including them in her story, Foreman brings awareness to their existence in a negative context, just as both Emma Woolf and Fearne Cotton have done. It is a disturbing issue that needs to be combatted. At no point did I feel these sites being glamorised in any way; on the contrary, they left me quite sickened and Foreman's Afterward is emphatic in its condemnation of them. The picture on the left was used for a 2014 Suicide Prevention campaign, and acts as a powerful counter to the pro-suicide rhetoric of choice. It may be your choice to die, but it is also your to live. To see that I Am Here  does not fall prematurely into the past tense. As Foreman writes in the end of her book "tell someone". Follow the advice you would, if diagnosed with any physical illness.

****

This is definitely a book to mark out on the shelf. As The Shock of the Fall did with Schizohrenia, it sheds light on an all-too-often misunderstood topic. However, subject matter aside the characters and story absolutely stand by their own merit. At times I felt the author could have gone further with character development, especially Ben, but overall this is not a novel to be pigeonholed in the 'YA Fiction' box. It more than holds its own. 

The book can be purchased here

A list of suicide prevention resources can be found here, and the Samaritans number in the UK is: 07845 790 9090. 
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9 February 2015

Time To Talk Video

This is my video for Mind's Time To Talk campaign, which took place on the 5th February. It encouraged people to spare 5 minutes to speak out on an aspect of mental health, thus raising awareness.

In my 5 minutes, I chose to discuss the urgent need for wider funding within mental health services, specifically outpatient therapy with regard to eating disorders. Mental illness hurts - it can be just as destructive, not to mention life-threatening, as an physical illness. 

Telling someone with an eating disorder to wait 14 weeks for therapy is not okay. Telling someone with severe depression to "hang on" for months on end is not acceptable. 

MPs can keep making all the pledges in the world, but like I have discovered with recovery, it comes down to more than intention alone. It is about ACTION. 


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5 February 2015

Reading Possibilities

For regular readers of my blog (that is, if you exist… I hope so!) my love for literature definitely weaves its way into much of my content. Whether it be motivation Frost and Rowling quotes, book-themed decor and apparel, or even my own writing… I am a book geek and proud. 


My degree, along with my position as Online Books Editor for Exeposé, has seen the humble written word take an even more central role in my life, yet it isn't something I talk about so explicitly on this blog. I think part of this is due to my vested interest with the Paper - I spend my days editing (and writing) for the Books section, so quite like to explore other things on here! 

Nonetheless, my tenure in this role is almost at an end, so I thought I would begin my foray into book content here - no time like the present. Without further adieu, here is my current list of comfort reads (click on the headings for links). These Books I have discovered in recent months/years that have really helped me, for different reasons, in having a more positive outlook with diabetes… 




Opening with a poet is a risky strategy, and could instantly lose about half my readers. However, I am a poetry girl at heart, and Robert Frost leads my bookshelf brigade of bright lights. Whenever I am feeling agitated, stressed or overwhelmed, his poetry is like a cup of warm milk or knitted blanket - the ultimate comfort. 



The lilting structure of his work; the at once unembellished and yet beautifully crafted lines themselves… it quite simply works. On so many levels, it is the ultimate catharsis and affords such a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of life. If you haven't read Frost, put it on your reader's bucket list!



I discovered Katherine's writing when I was doing research for my Creative Writing journal last term - my poetry project was based on chronic illness, so her accounts of diabetes struck a chord with me. Nonetheless, topic aside Katherine is truly a brilliant poet, and I am so happy to have These Brief Moments on my bookshelfShe is the author To Love a Diabetic, which has been widely circulated online and is a must-read for anyone touched by diabetes - this could be a family member, friend, or the person themselves.


There is quite a bit of diabetes poetry out there, if you search hard enough! A particularly brilliant collection is No-Sugar Added, a series of 39 poems released through Diabetes Hands Foundation. There is no linguistic mastery that can rival the power of experience - these poems are real, moving and provocative, but also stand strong in terms of the writing itself. 


Love Letters to The Dead - Ava Dellaira

One of my favourite reads last summer - I had high expectations after the Stephen Chbosky endorsement on that back cover, and I wasn't disappointed. The story follows Laurel as she tries to come to terms with the death of her sister May - discovering how to live when everything seems to have fallen apart. 

Without wanting to be heavy-handed on the  cheese it was, like Perks, one of those life-affirming books for me - when I closed that final page. I learnt things when I read this; or, rather, I was reminded of them. For example, the realisation that we are not "transparent" - we have to open up to people if we want them to know what we are thinking and feeling. Additionally, that we have to take charge of our own life, not wait for something to magically come along and change it for us. 

photo credit: pinterest.com
Yes, at times it can seem quite "quote-heavy" - one of those books that a few of my cyclical peers would describe as "made for Tumblr/Pinterest"... I'm not such a literary snob. You can run the risk of condemning something on principle, but in my eyes this can often be at a grave cost. In instances such as this, it takes the form of reading gold. At the end of the day, I have put down many 'classics', without taking away a single line of significant meaning. If you like Salinger, Plath and Chbosky, with a dash of John Green for good measure, read this book!



So I do talk about this book. A lot. People are probably desperate for me to shut up now, but allow me this final appraisal… I love it. Quite simply, I read it and fell in love with a character, a story, a myriad of quotable lines - affirmations that have stayed with me three years on and no doubt will continue to do so. The quote below is just one that I think will resonate with anyone who feels their personal struggles invalid - I know I have, all too often.

When I have struggled more with both diabetes and the eating disorder, I have often reprimanded myself for being 'weak'. I do believe that having a positive outlook is essential; you cannot stay buried in a pity party pit forever - that will get you nowhere! But it is okay to be upset, angry, drained, exasperated - whatever emotion you want to feel. Allow yourself to feel.

Charlie is one of the most captivating narrators I have ever come across. There is a quite paradoxical, yet striking, mixture of innocence and understanding in his narrative; the 'wallflower', he sees things as they are, and some lines hit you like an avalanche in the truths they possess. I will never stop singing the praises of this book, nor ever stop waiting on tenterhooks for Chbosky to write another novel!


You can find further bookshelf staples in my Reading Possibility Amazon booklist, which can also be found in my sidebar!

What are some of your comfort reads? 
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1 February 2015

Spare a Rose


I heard about the Spare a Rose, Save a Child campaign through Kerri Sparling's blog; the principle is to take the value of the 12th rose in the traditional Valentine dozen, and turn it into a donation for IDF's Life For A Child programme.


I am so fortunate to be in the position I am. I have had access to thousands of pounds worth of free medical care on the NHS, including my insulin pump. Yet so many across the globe do not have this; the life expectancy for a child with diabetes can be as little as one month.

It does not need to be this way. Spare a rose and help a child to blossom for a little longer. Don't let the thorns swallow them up prematurely.

In 2014, the campaign raised $27000. This year, it hopes to reach $50,000, thereby saving a further 700 children. You do not have to be part of the DOC to donate. Diabetes is not exclusive, or temporary - it penetrates everyday lives, 24 hours a day, but it can be managed to ensure the people affected still have that chance for life.

As Kerri finishes her post: "flowers die. Children shouldn't". Nor do they have to.


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