being a tourist in your own city

The best way to explore the city you live in is to have friends or family from elsewhere to come and visit you…

Last weekend my two childhood best friends came up from Birmingham to visit me in Manchester, and in typical Maddie fashion I was panicking about planning out the perfect weekend for them, but really I knew they’d be happy to do anything so long as we got to have a good gossip!!

A trip to my closest coffee shop, Esquires, got us fuelled up on tasty salads and avo on toast ready to brace a very rainy and windy Manchester.

What was supposed to be a slow wander around the Arndale (I’m kidding, there’s no such thing on a Saturday lunch time) quickly turned into getting caught up in the Halloween in the City celebrations, surrounded by a marching band performing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and dancers on stilts dressed as all things spooky. Although slightly overwhelming, it really reminded me of the spirit of Manchester and the reason I fell in love with this place 3 years ago. I adored how busy it was, how wherever you looked there would be something else equally as captivating going on.

We walked around until the cold felt too bitter, and headed back to my place where we gossiped and listened to the busy roads around us but felt as cosy as could be in my new student room.

As evening fast approached, we braved the cold and made our way over to V Revs where we were greeted by the most extensive vegan restaurant anyone could wish for! I’ve been before hence why I decided here for the evening meal, but was still worried that my vegan bestie wouldn’t be as impressed as I was…boy was I wrong! Never have I ever seen someone so conflicted as to what to get off a menu, because she just had so much choice which is unheard of for the modern day vegan who loves to eat out but are usually restricted to a couple of choices. After much deliberation we ordered food, took in the d√©cor and got real life heart eyes over the odd dog that came in with their owner.

When the food arrived my vegan bestie couldn’t quite believe what she was eating was vegan saying she felt like she was cheating her veganism (she wasn’t – the whole restaurant truly is vegan!!). So I felt accomplished if I am honest!

The evening ended with all four of us cooped up in my room playing Manchester edition Monoply (obviously), and for the first time in a long time I lost…but moving swiftly on (not a sore loser I swear…).

Sunday morning with friends over means going out for brunch, right? We ended up in the same cafe as the day before, indulging in breakfast and coffee, feeling super cosy indoors despite the drizzly weather outside.

We took a walk into town and stopped by the Halloween in the City celebrations once again, this time it was a dog parade! From what we could see it was cute but I wasn’t wearing my glasses (shock), and then the heavens opened so we ran home instead and just had a big old chill out before it was time to catch their train home.

I loved having my friends here for many reasons. How bloody amazing does it feel to see two of your closest friends after time apart?! When they left I actually felt a little homesick, which is weird because generally speaking I don’t miss Birmingham, and for the most part whenever I’m there, I want to be back in Manchester!

Having them over made me make the most of a weekend for the first time in forever. My weekends usually consist of either being in Huddersfield or Manchester, getting uni and house work done, and getting a hefty food shop done. But taking time out this weekend, and still managing to do those things too made me realise that I need to start going out and enjoying this city that I’m living in, because in all honesty, I adore it here, and I won’t be here for too much longer which does truly break my heart.

What is your favourite thing about the place that you call home? Mine has the be the hustle and bustle of Manchester. For me it’s the one place that you can really make yourself into who you want to be, there’s no judgement and you can really live life how you want…

All the best,

Maddie

xxx

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World Mental Health Day 2018

Today is World Mental Health Day, in case you missed the thousands of social media posts filling up your feed today!

Part of me wanted to just silently nod toward it and move on, however I have now found myself sat in the study room with a big bottle of water, my laptop and a promise to myself to just let it all out.

I tend to say something every year about this day in particular, “look out for your friends” or “speak out”, but this year I’m going full unfiltered, uncensored ramble, because I’ve recently figured that exactly that works best for me. (sorry in advance ūüėõ)


I have had quite the battle with my mental health over the past ten years I’d say. I remember clearly the day I was diagnosed with depression, which came a number of years after I started to feel “not quite myself”,¬†and everyone close to me disbelieved it, with comments like “what do you have to be depressed about?!” being flung at me left, right and centre. But truly, what¬†did¬†I have to be depressed about? At the time I was in college, I’d found my people, studying a course I was passionate about, working with an amazing bunch of staff and I had a great social life. I think that was the moment when I realised that even if everything is seemingly ‘perfect’, you could still struggle.

That was 7 years ago, and I have been on and off medication since. Upon reflection, I’m not surprised that I wasn’t in a good place – I was in debilitating pain almost daily (thanks to undiagnosed chronic illnesses), and I was struggling with my eating (maccies fries and a large diet coke every single day for lunch for two years is not¬†normal eating, despite me truly believing that all was fine at the time). Oh, isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!

Fast forward to right now, and I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve wrote about mental health with a clear head. In fact, this is the first time in 7 years that I have had a clear head, even if it still fogs up some times.

Which actually seems crazy, pardon the pun.


The past 7 months have been the most challenging for me mentally. 7 months ago, I broke down to my parents and told them about my eating disorder, and how hopeless I had been feeling. A month prior, I had gone to my GP (who was so bloody wonderful by the way) and had a very similar conversation which resulted in an eating disorder clinic referral…of which that resulted in a two year wait.¬†I remember so clearly feeling distraught, I had just, what felt like, told the world my deepest darkest secrets, the world promised me help, and then within a week it was taken from me as fast as I’d got it, which ultimately ended in me sobbing to my parents over a Chinese take-a-way a month later saying “I just don’t¬†like¬†food” (current me would be sooooo mad at past me for wasting Chinese food).

My parents, I adore them and I know that they love me and would literally do anything for me, even if they have a funny way of showing it – I think it’s just a parent thing!

My mom immediately researched where I could see somebody privately, and before I knew it I was in for an assessment at an eating disorder clinic, where I was accepted onto the program.

And, as they say, the rest is history.


The past 7 months have been the hardest of my life. I ditched everyone I cared about and loved and had to be 110% selfish and put myself first, and that was so fucking difficult. I am, however, very lucky to have the most incredibly supportive friends who allowed me to fly the nest, with a space promised for me upon my return.

I have had to dig up some real shitty things, relive the lowest of low moments in my life; face and fight my destructive coping mechanisms (still working on this one, I must admit), open up about my biggest regrets, the moments I am most shameful of and the shambles my life has been since my bad brain moved in and set up camp in my head, taking away sassy, sarcastic, bubbly, irresponsible, kind, loving and ballsy brain that was once there before. I like to think I am pretty close to getting her back though.


Facing your past demons, working through them and letting them go, is the most freeing thing a person can do, I believe. It is so fucking hard but the rewards way out-weight the feeling of guilt, regret and shame of the former you.

I am not the whole way there yet, but I am being realistic and taking each day as it comes. I have worked my ass off in therapy and in clinic with doctors and professionals teaching me how to free myself of my eating disorder and move into a new life.

For the first time in the longest time, I am truly, honestly, hand-on-heart so fucking proud of myself.


Having an off-whack mental health condition is not something to be ashamed of. I am thankful of all of my shame, guilt and past decisions, and I say that with all sincerity. I have learned so much from the person I used to be, and it will all be so valuable for the rest of my life.

I actually think that for the first time in my life, I am looking forward to living, which may sound utterly bizarre, but I have spent however long living in the shadow of the woman that I really am.

Poor mental health does not make you a bad person, it doesn’t make you any less of a deserving human being. When you are ready, put you whole heart and soul into recovery because speaking from experience, it is so damn worth it.


Now, in my case, I have a bit of work to do. I am currently within touching distance of being discharged from the clinic and I refuse to let it all be for nothing. I’m moving on with the things I have learned and I am adapting them to my every day life.

I am being realistic. I will still have wobbles, panics and set backs, but what I have learned over the past 7 months have best equipped me to move forward and deal with my demons.


Never be ashamed, wear your insecurities like a badge of honour and freaking own it. Reach out for help, demand help, don’t just ask. Remind yourself that you are¬†worth it and you¬†do deserve guidance and help.

I 100% owe my life to the medical professionals, family, friends, boyfriend, lecturers, strangers and other patients at the clinic who share a nod and a smile, who have seen me through the worst year of my life but more importantly, into what is becoming the best life that I can and will live in for the remainder of my days.

Speak up, speak out and never, ever be ashamed.


*I would also like to add that if you are struggling, eating disorder specific here, I could not recommend Beat enough. They were there for me to turn to when I felt like I couldn’t speak with anyone else, and have amazing support in the form of recovery information sheets, friendly staff on their helplines (which specialise in general, youth and student), their online web chats and all the information a family member or friend could need regarding what eating disorders actually are (I know this one came in handy for those around me who didn’t quite understand).*


Happy World Mental Health Day 2018, 

See you soon, 

Journaling Maddie 

xxxxx

Nobody Likes You When You’re 23

Yesterday I turned 23 years young and other than playing Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” on repeat, I have had a big long reflect on turning 23 and everything that comes along with it.

Typically, most people my age graduated from university a couple of years ago and are in big boy jobs seemingly smashing life, settling down with a partner, getting engaged and having kids. Honestly, I have no problem with what other people do with their lives, but in the same respect, I don’t see it as a guideline for life.

As a kid when adults asked what I wanted to “be” when I was older instead of the generic ‘doctor’, ‘lawyer’, ‘firefighter’ responses, I nonchalantly answered “work in Poundland”…and no, my parents have never let me forget it.

Whilst I am yet to achieve my childhood dream of working in Poundland, I think 5 year old me was on to something with that sweeping statement of all my lifelong dreams being attached to being a shop worker.


 

Growing up, I had little to no expectations of myself. Not in like a totally self deprecating way but more so in the sense of “what will be will be”.

I was never really academic, I struggled but in the best part I just knew that I didn’t want to be involved in academia. I wasn’t dim or bad at school, I did okay in my GCSE’s, even if I did struggle to choose four topics, when all I wanted to do was music technology and music I ended up taking child development which wasn’t all that bad because I learned a lot about being an adult but I did have to take one of those screaming baby dolls home for 24 hours that has scarred me for life.

I left school at 16 and went to college to fulfil my passion of music technology which was by far the best two years of my life. All of my school friends were stuck in their uniforms still at the school’s sixth form attending 5 days a week where as I was in college 2 or 3 days a week in the middle of Birmingham wearing what I wanted, day drinking, meeting new people, going out and socialising whilst holding down my first ever job at a kid’s play area – that child development GCSE coming in handy!

After college I took a couple of years to work at pubs, my uncles sporting company and for music promoters in Birmingham. I had fun and worked hard but all my friends were at uni and I can’t lie, all of their social media posting gave me a serious case of FOMO.

But two years later I landed on my feet in Manchester, studying Events Management at a uni that specialises in music, and holy heck do I love it here.


 

Moving to Manchester always will be the best decision I made, it allowed me to be the independent little soul that I always was fighting to be, I met some incredible people and I fell in love with the city immediately.

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Taking time to do my degree and getting here a couple of years later than everyone else really doesn’t bother me any more. Getting to 23 you realise that everyone truly is at different times in their lives. I have friends with children, friends in full time employment in some really impressive jobs, some friends making it in the music industry giving me a glimmer of hope that in time, I will be there too!

Getting older doesn’t have to be, and really shouldn’t be, a set back at all. Growing older has just taught me that people work at different paces and it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to reach your goal, one day you will get there and the journey will be the most important and fun part!

So here is to living more in the moment, being mindful and present in the moment, taking time to be alone, because I’ve definitely learnt that me time is just as important as socialising, picking up old hobbies and discovering new ones!

Your 20’s truly are your golden years, everyone around you is at different stages and not one of them is winning this made up race at all. Take time, take chances and take risks because now is the time to be doing it.


 

My goals for myself in this next year are:

  • to be unapologetically selfish
  • look out for others
  • bring kindness wherever I go
  • have fun
  • network my way into a badass graduate job
  • make the most of my final year at uni, it’s the last chance I get to risk-free experiment, explore and find myself for the foreseeable future!

Let’s work on embracing ageing and all that comes with it, rather than cower away from it!

P.S: people do still like you when you’re 23, Blink-182 lied, I have the most wonderful bunch of friends who made my birthday very special:

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All my love, 

a slightly older, 

Journaling Maddie 

xxx

23before23 #11: Getting a Job

Finding a job to match up with my Summer plans was never going to be easy, to be honest, I thought it would be impossible.

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Although I’m not jetting off here, there and everywhere (a girl can dream though),¬†my other half is still up North working hard who I want to see as much as possible, and I’ve had a couple of other things planned which has stopped me from getting a full time Summer job. That, and trying to find someone who will only employ you for 3 months is bloody tricky!

 

Luckily for me, the firm that my mom works for has a lot of archiving that needs doing before November time and they employed me to basically spend my day in a room alone filing tens of thousands of pieces of paper.

 

I’m not going to pretend that it’s my dream Summer job, or that it is even remotely enjoyable (although working alone definitely has it’s perks), but it has definitely got me into the right mind set for finding work when living back in Manchester in September. That and I’m currently saving for some place to live, which may seem a bit crazy planning a whole year in advance but all of the money I’m earning from this Summer job is going straight in the moving out piggy bank, which is actually super exciting because it means that I will definitely be on my feet firmly to have somewhere to live and being financially secure in a years time¬†(oh adulthood, how I adore thee).¬†

 

Although I would love to be seeing more of my friends, and to be going to more festivals, I’m just focusing on how this job will benefit me in the long run and I’m very excited for future me!!

 

Journaling Maddie 

xxx

23before23 #9 Going to a New Place – A Day Out In Halifax

As much as I would love to be on a plane to a hot country, sunning it up and exploring a tropical island, that just isn’t the case!¬†Instead I am making the most of exploring the beauty of England this Summer time.

 

Just 20 minutes away on the train, it’s odd that I’ve never thought to visit Halifax before now!

 

Halifax is a little West Yorkshire town, known for the Piece Hall and it’s beautiful historic architecture.

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The Piece Hall

Stepping off the train, the Piece Hall was at most a five minute stroll away, and was striking to set my eyes upon when we turned the cobblestoned corner. The majority of the day was spent pottering around the Piece Hall, weaving in and out of all the little shops.

 

Loafers is a coffee and record store, basically mine and Max’s two favourite things under one roof, so that was a great start for us! There was also a teeny baby sausage dog in there too which made the whole situation even better. After a coffee and listening to some records, we moved on around some of the other shops, mooching around, looking at some beautiful vintage clothes and the homeware pieces of my future dreams, before popping off to a cafe for lunch.

 

 

The Deli had a great range of food (there were so many tasty veggie options too which was great!) and drinks, so we stopped off there for some lunch before heading back out to look around the rest of the shops.

 

 

A definite favourite shop of mine was The Yorkshire Soap Company. The soaps, candles and other sweet smelling products were so beautifully displayed, I just wanted to bring it all home with me! Max picked up a Mango and Lychee candle that smells so divine even when it’s not burning.

2aba7c0b-a64c-4b45-9c6a-232d599cee81Gin Lane Shop was another obvious fave as Max is a gin fiend! We browsed some bottles and had a really great chat with the guy who worked there who was super clued up on all the different gins that they stocked.

 

Underneath the shop, they also have a bar where they serve the gins that they stock upstairs, so naturally we had to give it a go!

 

Sat out in the sun that decided to peep out for a short while, I tried a Rhubarb Gin with elderflower tonic and Max went for Manchester Gin’s Violet Liquor coupled up with Mediterranean tonic, which tasted just like parma violets, so if that’s your thing then I’d definitely recommend for a trip down memory lane.

 

 

We of course couldn’t leave the Piece Hall without popping into the old-timey sweet shop¬†Spogs and Spice, jars stacked high of all the traditional sweets you could imagine from your childhood.

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Finishing up in the Piece Hall, we weren’t quite ready to go home just yet, so wandered into the town centre where the cobbled streets are littered with shops, but also some lovely independent finds too.¬†We ended up having a mooch around a record store which had such a good range of genres (of course, Max didn’t leave empty handed!) and was lovely to just have a good sift through.

 

 

The Piece Hall is a perfect day out for anyone and everyone, and I think that’s proven as when we were there, the place was full of people of all ages, kids with their grandparents, young couples, big groups of moms, dog owners and coffee lovers.

 

I would so highly recommend planning a day out there, especially in the sunshine because the building truly does glisten in the heat of the day!

 

Journaling Maddie xxx

June 2018

June has just involved a whole lot of back and forth between Manchester, Huddersfield and Birmingham but I wouldn’t change it at all!


The month kicked off with Toby Burton’s EP launch at The Parish in Huddersfield. Toby is the first artist that Max and I worked with for In Session so we naturally wanted to go and show our support. The gig was great and we picked up one of his EP’s, although you can listen to it on Spotify and I’d really recommend it because he is such a talented songwriter and performer.

The following day Max and I got the train into Leeds to spend our Wagamama’s voucher and have a wander around the record stores. There was a cute dog on the train back so obviously that day was a 10/10.


I went home and started a new job, just a Summer job picking up a few hours here and there at my mom’s office doing odd jobs and filing, but it’s been keeping me busy whilst at home which is always a plus.


Jumping in the car with Max’s parents to spend a bit of time with them in Huddersfield was lovely, before getting on the train to Manchester to see Taylor Swift at the Etihad. Honestly I’d never been a big fan of hers but seeing her live has changed my opinion highly! I happened to go by chance, but if you ever get the opportunity to see her I would beyond recommend it and I’m looking forward already to when she next tours again!

Back to Huddersfield the following day, I spent the beautifully sunny afternoon with Max and Peter, having a drink in Greenhead park and a good chin wag. We also walked by Max’s new house that he’ll be moving into next month so it was good to get an idea of the area he’s living in.

Once again, back on a train to Manchester, this time with Max, to see Haim at the Apollo, and it was incredible! I saw them last in 2014 at Glastonbury and I was obsessed, so it was amazing to see how much they’ve changed (for the better) over the years. They played a good amount of their old songs too rather than just the whole of the new album so that was refreshing!

The following evening was spent in A&E due to my worst endometriosis flare up since my surgery last September. It was a bit disheartening that this has happened again, however the doctors were lovely and very understanding, I was prescribed a lot stronger pain relief and they gave me a clear plan of what to do if this pursues.

A few days of bed rest was made better by meeting up with Max, Chris, Henry and Matt after a training day for their new job (suddenly ruined by me being sick in the toilets *classy* and having to go home).


Back to Manchester again but this time to walk across the city with some amazing people for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. The weather just about held dry, and it was just lovely seeing everyone again and being able to raise some money and awareness for a really important cause.

You can find more information as to why we did this walk, and donate money too, here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ibd-warriors-walk-it-manchester-2018


We had a chill few days in Huddersfield, Max took a couple days off work too which was really lovely as we got a proper chance to have some us time and relax a little!

Our 4th anniversary rolled around and we celebrated with a lie in, a walk into town fuelled by coffee, and an evening date night at Lala’s Indian (incredible, 10/10 would recommend).

The following day was spent pottering around The Piece Hall in Halifax, but I’m going to do a whole other blog post on that so keep your eyes peeled for that coming soon!


I went back to Birmingham but only two days at work before going to the caravan in Bournemouth with my parents and Lady. This was Lady’s first time at the caravan, but also her first ever trip to the beach and seaside!

(It should be noted that I’m currently writing this in 30 degree heat, on the veranda of the caravan with a beer in hand – cheers!)

She has been so good, I was worried at first because she’s so nervous around other dogs, but I think as it’s a whole new place to her she’s just focussed on taking it all in rather than crying at other dogs haha.

The weather has been incredible, as previously mentioned, so each day has been spent trying to get out and do stuff as early as possible to avoid being out in the heat of the day, chilling during the middle of the day then going to the beach for a walk in the evenings.

Honestly I wasn’t sure about coming away, as much as I adore spending time with my parents, like every twenty-something, I need my space too, but this has been a perfect combination of the two which has been very pleasant and not at all suspected.


My month ended the best way possible, Max came home for the weekend and I got to see Erin and Gina too! It’s so difficult trying to find time to see the girls, as they live here and for the past two years I’ve not left Manchester for longer than a week (until now). But even now that I’m back we all still have so many commitments, Gina is smashing it at work and Erin is somehow balancing working full time and being in a really cool band, playing festivals all Summer! So it is really treasured when we do get to spend time together, especially because it is so few and far between.


It wouldn’t be a monthly without some faves so here goes:

Album / Playlist:¬†My role at work means I basically lock myself in a room for hours on end sorting files, which can send you a lil stir crazy as I’m sure you could imagine, so I needed some motivational music to get me through, and the album I am constantly going back to is “Death of a Bachelor”, which is a massive revisit, however the more I think about it, it’s definitely in my top 5 albums.

Song:¬†Although June has been the month of all months for new releases, The 1975’s new track “Give Yourself A Try” was top of my priorities and it did not disappoint!

TV / Movie:¬†I binged hard¬†on TV this month after all of my deadlines were out of the way, but my favourite has to be Hollyoaks, it has covered so many important topics these past few months and it’s amazing to see the hard work and dedication put into portraying them excellently and accurately.

Place:¬†The caravan, it’s the home of a million of my childhood memories and I love being in my 20s and still enjoying it and making more memories!

Memory: Taking my gorgeous doggy for her first seaside holiday.

Accomplishment: Getting into the swing of having a job again!

Journaling Maddie x

23before23 #8: Raising money for a good cause

Earlier this year I asked for donations to Endometriosis UK, but if you missed that, I basically did a mini series all about educating people who were clueless about the disease, and if you want to, you can have a lil read right here!

However, last week I walked with a great bunch of people in order to raise awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis. When I first started talking to my friend Amy we were discussing our chronic illnesses (casual, as you do), and she opened up to me about her ulcerative colitis, something that I had never heard of before! She opened my eyes to something new and seemingly terrifying, I got told what to do if she went into flare up and all the likes of that, however she wore it like a badge with such power, and I really admired that about her!

Last year a small group of us did the walk and it was great fun despite the rain (it was in Manchester though so what did we expect!), and we raised some money and awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

This year the team grew and we all pulled together and travelled to Manchester for the day to walk 5K in order to raise some awareness and money!

The money already raised is mind blowing, but there is never enough or a cap on these things, so if you wish to, any last minute sponsors and donations will always be greatly appreciated, and can be made via this link right here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ibd-warriors-walk-it-manchester-2018

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Journaling Maddie x