Liebster Award

Thank you… bipolarlifebalanceliebster-award

..for the nomination for a Liebster Award which, for the uninitiated (like me), is an award that bloggers give each other, and by doing so get people to connect and interact with other bloggers.

The basic rules:

  1. Thank and link the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions given by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 5-10 other bloggers, who have less than 500 followers and link them.
  4. Create 10/11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
  5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

Questions – My Answers:

  1. What was the last lie you told? This morning I looked in the mirror and went “huh, I might have lost some weight”…?
  2. Who is your favourite super hero? Tricky! It’s either X-men’s Wolverine, or Iron-Man, I reckon. The former because “rargh testosterone fueled grizzly mutton-chops but also I am so tragic”, and the latter because he doesn’t have a super-power, he’s just rich and clever (like Batman, but less annoying)
  3. What was the first book to have a lasting impact on you? Oh wow, I have a pretty poor recollection of anything that happened more than a week ago, and now you want me to remember what I read as a kid? I remember reading a children’s encyclopedia that was given to me when I was about 4 or 5, that was pretty awesome. I guess that started my love of science.
  4. What do you see when you look out your bedroom window? On the one side, a beautiful view of my garden. On the other side, an equally lovely view of the A12 and the fields beyond it.
  5. What was your goal in creating your blog? I had designs of making it all proper and sciencey and
  6. EDIT: thank you, Beth, who pointed out that I clearly got distracted and wandered off at this point. However, I think that is a pretty strong metaphor about what my blog is about. I had good intentions but OH LOOK YARN AND A PUPPY…

  7. What has surprised you most about having your blog?
  8. How hard it is to post consistently. I thought, oh yeah, blog, I’ll just ramble endlessly and people will think I’m great, but unlike with other stuff (where you practice and get better), blogging is one of those things that seems to get harder the more you do it. For me, anyway.

  9. Do you have a best friend? What’s their name? I think it’s safe to say my husband Ben is my best friend. We spend soooo much time together, have rather a lot in common, make each other laugh a lot…I know it’s a really cliché choice, but it’s true, so what else to say?
  10. Who is your Hollywood crush? Eh, I’m not big on celebs. Hugh Jackman is just lovely though. And I love Gemma Arterton (are they Hollywood? Jackman’s Aussie and Arterton is British… I don’t understand the parameters)
  11. If you could choose to be famous OR successful…which would you choose? Successful. 
  12. How do you feel about answering questions like these? Fine. It’s a way to pass the time, and they’re not particularly invasive, so it’s kind of fun!

I nominate:

I toyed with this for a long time. I found 3 blogs that I could potentially nominate, and then hunted around for ages trying to find others, and then thought I found some, and instantly felt guilty about thinking about nominating them, because this concept didn’t seem to fit their blog. And then I thought, well maybe it doesn’t fit the blogs of the other 3 I had initially thought of.

In the end I circulated and argued myself into a corner, and deleted the list of three I had initially thought of.

And now I’m stuck.

Basically what I’m saying is: nominate yourselves. If the questions below appeal, inspire or intrigue you, come forward. Claim them. Announce yourself in the comments section and show me your blog. I’m all ears.

EDIT: thank you to The Beth Project for nominating yourself! It just so happens you were one of the Original Three I had in mind… ;)

My Questions

  1. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
  2. Do you have any siblings? Tell me a bit about them. If you don’t, do you wish you did?
  3. Did you have any hobbies when you were a child that you miss doing now?
  4. I like a lot of things that begin with B. What’s you favourite thing that begins with B?
  5. What’s your favourite book, band/artist, film and TV programme right now?
  6. Tell me about the best holiday you’ve ever been on.
  7. What’s your dream job? Why?
  8. If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?
  9. What is your proudest achievement?
  10. Who inspires you?



:)  Enjoy!

Business As Usual

I thought it was time for a general Life Update, because a lot has been happening, and failing to happen, and generally getting on with, lately.

1. I am now the proud owner of my first ever rejected paper! Yes, it was my first ever submission to a journal, and YES I know this happens to EVERYONE, but I still have The Sad (fyi the paper is a redrafted version of my dissertation study exploring stress experienced by ambulance dispatch staff).

2. The proposal for the larger study, which was hoped would incorporate my PhD, was submitted for grant monies. That, too, was rejected, and that decision is much harder to come to terms with. My supervisor is quietly confident that the feedback was positive and, with some simple amendments, could be resubmitted. In the meantime, I am exploring my options.

3. I made some wool! See? Happy stuff happens too.

I don’t have a proper niddy noddy. I use a piece of driftwood I found on Sizewell beach, and that works fine for me for now.

4. Ben is still hunting for permanent employment. This has been a rollercoaster of emotion. Please all be keeping fingers crossed and that.

5. Flossy has “sub-clinical asthma”, which basically means she doesn’t have asthma, but sometimes when it’s cold/hot/dusty/damp, she does a lot of reverse sneezing which really freaked us out until we found out what it was. She still does it, but now we can tickle her chin until she swallows and that seems to make it better.

6. <other negative event removed due to it being a point of contention with some friends, needless to say this event has caused considerable inconvenience and hemorrhaging money>

7. I still haven’t written up my qualitative study about knitting, in the hope to submit THAT to a journal, but given that Point 1. just happened today, I’m not really in the mood right now.

8. One of the nurses (I have two) in my team at work is on holiday until MARCH and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to explain to her patients that I am Holding whilst she’s away that No, I’m not a nurse. No, I’m not clinically trained. No, I can’t give you specific medical advice. Yes, in this situation I am about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Look, most days I know that what I AM good at (psychological support, talking therapies, and Actually yes my active listening skills are a big deal, and I bet you weren’t expecting a 26 year old with blue hair to be quite so erudite and understanding and at times actually profound. I realise this sounds ridiculously big-headed, but it is what I do well. I think I’ve earned the right to be proud of skills I actually do possess), but when someone with metastatic cancer is asking questions about their specific anti-emetics and shaking a blister pack FILLED TO THE BRIM with what could be Smarties for all I know in my face and asking me why they put the wrong pills in and which ones are they and can they take them out…. Well, um, I could GUESS but I think that’s generally frowned upon, so I ask the GP, but then couldn’t we have cut out the middle man and why am I here again…?
Not every day is like this, but some days I honestly feel like all I’m saying is “how are you getting on? Oh, lots of specific questions you say? Well, have you tried asking your doctor…”.

9. Other work related thing is that I think about death a LOT. Please don’t get worried about that (I have quite a philosophical view of death and dying, and I find the concept of dying a lot less depressing that the concept of existential isolation, hence a certain level of social detachment and limited emotional stamina (there is a longer blog post in there somewhere)) but it has lead to a lot of circular internal arguments which are quite exhausting.

10. To regain some focus, I downloaded an app for the Pomodoro Method (thanks Sam), and actually, it’s been very helpful. I think I still have to unlock some of its potential, but I’m going to try out a few other apps, and who knows, maybe there’s a blog post in that, too.

Right, to round off, some blog clichés to restore some of your calm (I know this post has been a bit… uh?… so perhaps some familiar blog memes will comfort you) –

what I’ve been listening to:
a lot of alt-J
little else besides… am I late to the party? You can see what else I listen to over on

what I’ve been reading:
Robin Hobb – The Fool’s Assassin  SUPER stoked that Hobb has started the next Farseer trilogy. And it’s making me revisit the earlier books to recap
Russ Harris – The Reality Slap I’ve been doing a introductory course to ACT (a style of therapy I’ve blogged about before) and it is SO NICE to get back into the Harris grove. I love that his writing style is so conversational, and not stuffy or la-di-da
A lot about dementia because it’s a gap in my understanding. And because cancer is predominantly a disease of the elderly, and dementia is predominantly a disease of the elderly, there is a proportion of my patient group that have co-morbidities, that I currently don’t feel I have a deep enough understanding of. Educate yo’self.

What I’ve been watching:
Rubbish! on telly, that is. I watch a lot of crap, because it’s background noise and movement whilst I sew/spin/knit
Great British Sewing Bee What the hell, Alex?? Can you not finish ANYTHING on time??
YouTube videos galooooore I seem to have developed a real Thing for moody interpretive dance to modern chart hits, executed with minimal costume, set or props. HOW CAN YOU NOT CRY AT THESE

All the feels.

And that’s it!

Finally, a little disclaimer: yes, I realise I’m not a Jolly Blogger (“zomg ALL THESE WONDERFUL THINGS”), I’ve given it a go, but really, really false for me. I’m a Whinge Pot, it works for me. I have always been a big BAG OF WHINGE and honestly, I think it’s just how I process things. I am not looking for comfort or sympathy or pity, I just need a space to go WHAAAA and then get on with Business As Usual. Nothing is particularly terrible right now, I’ve just been bottling, and that is noooot working. So welcome back, whingey me! Did you miss me? :P


Do we need a Digital Detox?

When I’m doing boring jobs on my own, I like to listen to podcasts and radio programmes (usually Radio4. Contrary to popular belief, I am not 40+ years old). So yesterday, when I was patching holes on the seats of the Land Rover (affectionately known as MSV Pressure Drop) I plugged in, and stuck on some Digital Human.

Photo included simply because you ain’t gettin’ no other visuals for this blog post

I listened to several old episodes (the patching took a lot longer than hoped. Ugh) but the one that really stood out for me was “Detox“. In this episode, our enigmatic host Aleks Krotoski explores the growing phenomenon of technological addiction: our increasing reliance on gadgets in our everyday life, our very real anxiety when we leave our smartphones behind (come on, we’ve all been there), and even, yes, counselors and retreats for “switching off”, quite literally.

So what’s the deal? Can we be TOO connected? Yes we all like our gadgets, but is it really a big deal? Well yes, it can be.

The most immediate thing that springs to mind is the problem with being “always on”. This is particularly problematic for people who work from home, and struggle to demarcate their work- and home-lives. Successfully leaving work issues at work at the end of the day is difficult enough (not just taking work home with you, but also just worrying about work issues, known as “work-related rumination”), but with the addition of smartphones and superfast broadband (which, gods willing, I will have by the end of the week – there is life in Suffolk!), switching off from work is even harder. It becomes easier and easier to “just quickly check your emails” as soon as you wake up, or “accidentally” still be working on quarterly reports for clinical commissioning groups at 7pm.

And you know what else is really bad about being constantly connected? You can spend hours, and hours, and hours…. doing absolutely nothing. At least when I go on a reading binge or a knitting binge, I am still being productive. But tech? I could say that I browse Pinterest or Bloglovin’ or YouTube as “research”. But if I’m honest? I’m faffing. I’m looking at way too many pretty pictures and it hardly ever leads to anything, ever.

Tech has been blamed for a lot of things: poor attention span, deteriorating social skills, blurred work/life boundaries… But can it be on par with other pathological addictions? Well, the neuroscientists say: probably. Techno-addicts experience the same dopaminergic response that drug addicts get hooked on, and much like gamblers at the casino, faffing on the web offers similar interval reward schedules in casino payouts (which make gambling addictive). We browse a looooot of crap on the internet, but there are nuggets of gold in there, and if we keep browsing, we might come across another…

But tech has also revolutionised the way we live. I can talk to my dad in Kabul and it doesn’t cost me a penny. I can access all of my files from anywhere (as long as I have a wi-fi connection…) even if I don’t have my own laptop with me. I can connect with people all around the world, and I can look smart by linking to loads of other articles and sources with minimum effort. I can’t imagine a world without tech, but I can see how it is a dangerous beast that must be treated with respect. But digital detoxes?

What are your thoughts? Have you ever done a “Facebook Fast“? Do you think this talk of dialing down the digital is hogswash?