Recently I came across a post by Alicia from www.aestheticobsessed.co.uk where she blogged about her 2017 and broke it down month by month. (See her post >here<). I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and thought that I’d like to do something similar, as a lot of things happened in 2017 for me, and I haven’t quite managed to process all of them yet. Alicia’s was written in December, which makes a lot more sense, however, for me personally, April has been a time for me to look forward to the future, and a part of that is making sense of the past. So, without further ado, here’s a look back at my 2017:
Back in January, thepoppyraptor hadn’t even been born yet, and I was blogging perhaps once every three months under the name howtobeablog. I was living in my home-town of Bournemouth, with my parents, and had just been kept on at a local bookshop after being employed as a Christmas temp. Life was boringly normal, and I was simply plodding along, knowing I wanted to move out, but not really making any move to do so.
Favourite post: None, as none posted this month!
At the end of February, I forced myself to do daily blogging for a week, and that’s when I caught the blogging bug! I also became a key-holding supervisor at my work, which came with lots of new responsibilities, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Favourite post: Dry/Problem Skincare S.O.S
This was the month that thepoppyraptor officially started! After my daily blogging in Feb, I managed to keep posting at least twice a week all through March, which was a great achievement for me. I experimented with writing some beauty and skincare posts, and really enjoyed writing them. I also joined in with loads of blogger twitter chats, which I absolutely loved and I desperately need to start doing them again as not only do they really help with engagement, but it’s so nice to meet other like-minded bloggers to yourself. This was also the month where I started seriously thinking about moving out from my parents, having lived with them for the past year. An old uni acquaintance needed a new flat-mate in Cardiff and I prayed she wouldn’t change her mind, as she was known for being super flaky.
Favourite post: On Feminism. And Emma Watson.
In April, I officially paid the deposit and agency fees for a beautiful flat in Cardiff (that I’m still at now, a year later). However, there was no guarantee that my job would transfer me and the hunt was on to try and find a full-time job by the time the estate agents needed the reference forms back in mid-May. This was super stressful to deal with along with a full-time job, and blogging took a bit of a back-seat from late-April through to my move in May.
Favourite post: Product Reviews in <140 Characters #1
Somehow, the Cardiff branch of my work offered me full-time hours, albeit as a children’s bookseller, and I moved to Cardiff on the 22nd May with my friend. I was absolutely over the moon, and I have fond memories of a trip to IKEA to get furniture for the house. It was an incredible feeling to be living away from home again, and to have my freedom back. My last work shift in Bournemouth was a Saturday, I moved on the Sunday and I started my new job on the Monday as well as seeing a gig in Cardiff on the Monday evening – it was a very full-on weekend! However, I was really happy. I started doing Krav Maga classes with my flatmate, as her second job was as a women’s self-defence instructor.
Favourite post: Mental Health Awareness Week 2017//me
In June, I settled into my new routine of living away from home again. I only saw my flatmate on Monday and Friday evenings so I was mostly left to my own devices, but that didn’t really bother me. The biggest thing that happened was probably that I managed to be moved from the children’s department at work and started a new role as a Front of Store bookseller. This meant that I only worked at, you guessed it, the front of the shop, working with the new books. This is quite an important job within the bookshop, as the Front of Store is where you generate most of your sales as it’s where all the top 40 books in hardback and paperback in all genres are kept. As such, I’m expected to have a very broad knowledge of all genres, as well as always updating my knowledge as new books come out every single week! In other retail jobs I’ve had, ‘Front’ has always been the very worst job on the rota because you’re not allowed to do any task other than stand and greet people. Luckily, this role I have is very different and I’m basically responsible for the entire running of the section, from shelving to merchandising and, of course, selling and recommending books.
Favourite post: Getting My First Tattoo – & What It Means
In July, I went home for 2 weeks to look after the family dog, Digby, as my parents were off to Florence for a 2-week holiday. This was my first time back home since leaving, and it was very strange seeing my old bedroom completely bare. I didn’t really do much those 2 weeks except walk the dog, so it was a nice rest. At the end of July, I went out for a night out with the other ladies from the Krav Maga class, which was ok, until I began to get intrusive thoughts, which put a slight dampener on the night. From the end of July, my mental health began to decline again, after the temporary relief it had given me from moving day in May until this point. At the end of July, my flatmate dropped the bombshell on me that she had begun to date a 48-year old man (twice her age) and broken up his marriage. It was really difficult for me to comprehend that one of my friends could be this cruel, and I found this very hard to deal with. I also became terrified that she would leave the flat-share without warning to live with him, which she assured me again and again that she wouldn’t do, until at least May 2018.
Favourite post: The Invisible Illness//Mental Health Awareness
In July and August, I started getting regular, and bad, panic attacks, which prompted me to go to the doctor. I started taking antidepressants for the very first time in my life, and they were difficult to get on with at first. I first took Citalopram, which was absolutely godawful, and then I tried Sertraline, which I’m still taking now, although at a much higher dose. I posted a picture of my first box of Citalopram on Instagram, and was overwhelmed by people’s kind words and thoughtful advice. This gave me the confidence to write about my mental health journey on my blog in July, which again was very well-received. In August, somehow, my mother came across that post (>here<) and we had a very frank phone call where I was honest with her about all of my mental health issues over the years, and that I was now on antidepressants. It felt a lot like progress.
Favourite post: Home
Honestly, September passed without much incident. I had decided to do Blogtober so started planning my posts for it. Me and my flatmate went to Homesense to get fun Halloween decorations on the 30th September and I went a bit crazy, buying about £50 worth of pumpkin and skull decorations after seeing Zoella’s autumn inspired homeware haul on Youtube. We then spent the evening of the 30th creating Halloween make-up looks, which was incredibly fun. However, this was the last time I would ever see my then-flatmate, despite the tenancy ending in November.
Favourite post: The Women Behind Britain’s Most Popular Names
October was super busy and super fun. First of all, it was Blogtober month, and I threw myself into my blog, managing to post daily almost through the entirety of October. I dedicated a lot of the posts to spooky-themed ideas such as horror novels or spooky things to watch on Netflix. This started up an interest in the supernatural that I still have up to this day, although it does seem to get more exacerbated if I’m in bad mental health place. Secondly, I was suddenly given the opportunity to work at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, which was INCREDIBLE. My old store manager from Bournemouth remembered me and specifically phoned my manager to ask if I could work at Cheltenham for a week and it was so, so amazing. I was put up in a hotel (all expenses paid) for the 10 days I was there, with a daily room service allowance. I worked various shifts over the week and met some incredible people, both festival staff and authors. I was able to meet the writer Matt Haig, which was an absolute highlight of my life. I already cannot wait to go back to Cheltenham this year and hope to be able to go for the entirety of the festival this time too, instead of the final week!
Favourite post: Scary Book Review – Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
I had a week off work in November and went to visit my friends in Manchester and York, which was great fun. Sadly, with less than 2 days to go until the end of the tenancy, my flatmate dropped the bombshell that she would indeed be leaving the flat to live with her older boyfriend. This was INCREDIBLY stressful for me as I felt I had to move out before Christmas. We signed on as a month-to-month tenancy, which unfortunately left the ball entirely in my flatmate’s court, as whenever she emailed the estate agent to say she wished to leave the tenancy, our 30-day notice period officially began. She informally agreed to pay the rent until the end of January, but I no longer trusted her after the past few months, and knew I had to make preparations fast, in case she dropped me in hot water again. She didn’t seem to care that she could easily render me homeless, as I had no support network at all in Cardiff, and I was very hurt by her actions, as I had believed she cared about me as a friend.
Favourite post: December Goals (yet another time that Alicia gave me inspiration for a post!)
December remained stressful, as my living situation was very much up in the air. Thankfully, at the end of December, my grandmother offered to pay the other half of my rent so I could stay in the same flat for another 6 months, and my father agreed to be my guarantor, which I also needed before renting the flat by myself (because apparently a full-time job isn’t enough to rent a £650 a month flat?!?) I didn’t receive any presents over Christmas, instead asking my parents and grandmother to give money towards my rent or utilities for the first few months of 2018. This was a particularly hard sacrifice, as my parents were going to buy me an expensive camera for blogging/vlogging for Christmas and it was so hard to make the sensible decision and instead ask them to give me money towards paying the deposit for the tenancy renewal on my flat.
Favourite post: Label
2018 so far…
Perhaps unsurprisingly, after the stress of the last few months of 2017, January this year was very hard for me, in terms of my mental health. New Year’s Day, I was so sad that I couldn’t get out of bed and called in sick. I then began to experience intense paranoia and intrusive thoughts throughout January, which then became a deep depression and chronic insomnia which culminated in me wishing to end my own life. I ended up self-certifying sick off work for a week and going back home to re-build my sense of self, which, luckily, I was able to do. I spent the next fortnight rebuilding myself, slowly. Then, at the end of February, I got my dog, Morrigan, from a family who didn’t want her. She’s done absolute wonders for my mental health – I no longer feel alone and I simply don’t have the time to wallow around in self-pity or self-destructive behaviours! As the end of April approaches, I’m cautiously confident that I will continue to rebuild my mental health in the months to come and work towards moving into a doggy friendly flat back in Bournemouth at the end of the summer.
Phew! And that’s it! It seems a lot can happen in a year. Thanks again to Alicia for the inspiration to write this! See y’all real soon. P.