On Mental Health | Life Lately

Ironically enough, I didn't know it was #WorldMentalHealthDay today, because I've been signed off work, refusing to leave the house, and avoiding social media, whilst struggling with horrendous nightmares and panic attacks, for the past week.
It isn't the first time this has happened. 
It won't be the last

I have a psychology degree. I want to be a counsellor. I know, inside and out, all of the biochemical reasons people experience mental health conditions. 
I, of all people, shouldn't be ashamed to discuss my own problems. 
I can't come out today, I'm scared something bad will happen if I leave the house. 
I know I look rough, keep yawning, I haven't slept for 3 nights - the nightmares won't stop. 
I can't go for dinner with you unless I can see the menu at least a week in advance, or I might have to exercise for 5 hours when I get home, to balance it out. 
I can't watch the new 'Saw'/'Final Destination'/'Scream' movie, when I hear women screaming I hyperventilate.
Things I never said. Things I never had the courage to say.  

When I was 10, panic attacks; 13, an eating disorder; 15, social anxiety; 17, depression; 20, PTSD. 
Now? Recovery. Remission. The occasional dark day/week/month, where it all seems like a curse I'll never get to break. 
Now? I sit on the couch, cats in my lap, a dozen unanswered texts on my phone, from friends I'm lucky to have. A Twitter notification from the business account I'm blessed enough to have been able to start with one of my best friends. Emails full of exciting opportunities. An offer to do my Master's at one of the best universities in London. 
And still, this dark cloud, as I await a call from an outpatient referral service, so we can work out what's wrong with me, another time around. 

The thing is, I don't think I'm ashamed, any more - a little hesitant as to what the response to this will be, of course - a lot of 'real life' friends will see this link on my Facebook page - but life is good, and I am grateful for it, and I am dealing with my problems, as best I can. 
If you know someone who has been struggling with mental health, the best thing you can do is be there for them, be supportive, and try and encourage them to get help.
Head over to the Mind website for information on donating, resources you might need for those you love, and information on urgent help.
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Floral Letter DIY | Craft

a floral letter 'f' sits on a white sheet, with a branch of silk flowers just beneath it
Flowers are my favourite thing about the warmer months; nothing beats having a fresh arrangement sitting on your nightstand, or the gorgeous floral notes that greet you as you open your front door. 
Having said that, spring/summer never seem to last long here in London, and the first chill of autumn tends to move in pretty quickly, taking all the fresh flora with it. 
Luckily for those of us who can't quite beat the post-bloom blues, though, artificial flowers are making one heck of a comeback, at the moment, and the options are ever-growing. Whilst they'll never have that smell, they are a lot more versatile than their natural counterparts; which means those of thus who have the crafting bug (read: addiction) can have a floral fix in our decor, no matter the weather. 
I spotted these wooden letters on a trip to Hobbycraft a few weeks ago, and knew it would be the perfect home for some artificial blooms, but you could just as easily use an empty shoebox or old container if you wanted to. 
The other supplies you'll need are tissue paper and PVA glue to cover the outside (I used Decopatch papers and Matte Mod Podge, because I already had some going spare, but generic brands will work just as well), and some artificial flowers and dry oasis to fill the shape. (I got my dry oasis here and usually get my artificial flowers at a local market or from Hobbycraft). 
torn strips of navy, pink, and white Decopatch craft paper, sitting next to each other on a white sheet a wooden letter 'f' sits next to torn strips of navy, white, and pink, floral tissue paper, and a brush with an open pot of mod podge; the wooden letter is in the process of being covered
The first step is covering whichever shape you're filling, although you could always paint it or leave it plain. If you are using tissue, like I did, though, you'll want to start by tearing each piece into rectangles about an inch wide. Once you've done this, it's time to embrace your inner wannabe 'Art Attack' presenter, and coat the whole thing in glue before applying the strips of tissue however you'd like onto the outside of your shape. Just remember to coat the whole thing in glue to finish it, when you're done. 
a wooden letter 'f' sits next to a fresh block of floral foam, and a wooden book full of craft knives and attachments a wooden letter 'f' sits next to a fresh block of floral foam indented with the imprint of the letter 'f' from the wooden letter, and a wooden book full of craft knives and attachments
Once you've covered the shape, and it's completely dry, it's time for the fun (and messy!) bit - filling it in! The easiest way to do this for an abstract shape, like mine, is to press the shape into the block of dry oasis, as far down as it'll go, and use this as a template; then, all you have to do is use a craft knife to cut out chunks of the oasis to fit your shape!
a wooden letter 'f' in the process of being filled with dry floral foam, with chunks of the dry foam resting in the wooden letter the wooden letter 'f' filled with dry floral foam, and in the process of being filled with artificial flowers
Make sure you pack your oasis nice and tightly into your shape, so it doesn't go anywhere - as long as there are no huge gaps, you won't need any glue to hold it in place. Once it's all in there, it's time to get creative with your flowers: I opted to buy hydrangeas and azaleas, as there tend to be more small blooms on each stem, but this is obviously completely up to you, and if you're buying online, don't forget to check whether the stems are wire or not - I have wire cutters at home, but trying to separate blooms from their wire stems without these would not be a pleasant experience!
a wooden letter 'f' filled with white, pink, and coral artificial flowers, laying on a white sheet, and surrounded by leftover artificial flowers
As far as arranging the blooms, I recommend just picking a colour scheme, snipping a bunch of individual flowers, and going for trial and error - the great thing about the dry oasis is that you can take the flowers out and move them around as much as you need to, so just keep playing around until you get something you like!
Are you planning on trying this DIY? As always, feel free to get in touch if you do, I love seeing completed projects!
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Entry-Level Feminist: Must-Reads | My Bookshelf

The word 'feminism' is being thrown around popular culture, and in the media, a lot, lately, and it seems to be dividing a lot more people than it unites. Personally, I've referred to myself as a feminist since studying it during my A-Levels, but I'll be the first to admit that I'm not particularly educated on the subject; with the constant debate that seems to follow the word around, it can be a little difficult to know where to begin.

Naturally, I took to social media for advice on the subject, and, between Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, I managed to throw myself together a pretty comprehensive list of 'feminist reads', and, to save you the trouble, I've thrown together a quick list of the absolute 'must-reads' that really formed my 'feminism starter-kit'.

Bad Feminist | Roxane Gay: 
I knew I had to have this as soon as I read the synopsis on amazon; is it possible to identify as a feminist, but still have a shameless love of rap music, even when it dehumanises women? Can I be a 'good feminist' even though I love low-brow action movies, even when all the female characters are two-dimensional, at best? This book covers all of that, and more, as well as posing some questions I'd never even thought to ask: why do I even care if I'm likeable or not?
Buy it, here.

How to be a Woman | Caitlin Moran:
This is probably one of my favourite books, ever. Whilst I won't pretend to agree with everything Moran suggests (I like being hair-free, thank you very much), her no-nonsense approach to so many of the 'big issues' (as well as the smaller issues facing young women) is nothing short of awe-inspiring. 'How to be a Woman' is provocative, and forces you to start forming your own opinions and values.

Buy it, here.

Men Explain Things to Me | Rebecca Solnit:
This was a bit of a hit-and-miss read, for me; whilst Solnit made some very thought-provoking points and observations, it was littered with essays which felt a little bit...ethnocentric, I suppose. Highlighting the feminist values in the work of Virginia Woolfe, for example, is educating, but only really hits home for true Woolfe fans (which I'll admit, I'm not). I had to include it in the list, though, if only for the title essay, and the 'eureka' moment it gave me.

Buy it, here.

We Should All be Feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
'We Should All be Feminists' is an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 2013 Tedx talk of the same name, and explores why the word 'feminist' has become a dirty word in the current climate - and why it should be one we're proud to associate with. She highlights how much gender still influences much of our day-to-day lives, and references her own experiences, both in her native Nigeria and in the US, which is a real eye-opener. Whether you've seen the Tedx talk or not, I'd recommend giving this a read. 

Buy it, here.
Don't forget to follow me on Goodreads (here) if you'd like a little more of a glimpse into what's on my bookshelf!
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2015: The Goals

a selection of Instagram shots from francescasoph (francesca sophia); francesca sophia and another girl pulling faces at the camera; a selection of ramekins filled with chocolate; the one republic band logo; a paella on a table, francesca sophia wearing a long pink maxi skirt with a black crossed crop top; two starbucks muffins on a plate next to an iced macchiato and a cup of coffee
Yep, it's another 'new year, new goals' kind of post. I'm hoping you all love having a nose at other people's aims for the new year as much as I do, and that you're not all sick of them, by now!
a selection of Instagram shots from francescasoph (francesca sophia); four shots, side by side, on a bar; francesca sophia and a friend pulling faces at the camera; a selection of barbecue meats and grills on a patch of grass; a shot of canterbury cathedral, two tacos in a box on a table; a palm tree over a beautiful pool.
2014 was a pretty amazing year, for me; it was the year I graduated, reconnected with old friends, moved back to London, and started not one, but two new jobs...and, frankly, it's been one of the best (and hardest!) years of my life. Having said that, I'm making it my mission to improve everything for 2015, and keep going upwards. The best way to do that? Goals, goals, goals!
a selection of Instagram shots from francescasoph (francesca sophia); a girl lounging in the sun in a blue bikini, her red hair over one shoulder; a selection of vibrant pink peonies in wooden crates; francesca sophia wearing an aztec print skirt in black and white, with a black tank top; two flutes of champagne on a table next to a bottle of moet and a wrapped present; a psychology degree from the university of kent; a selection of cakes and pastries on display at a shop.
Life Goals:
1. Settle on an actual career goal. Whether it be in psychology, or merchandising, whatever...just research everything.
2. Travel to 3 new places. Whether it's cities, countries, or towns, abroad or in the UK, make 2015 the year you see more. 
3. Spend more non-work time with friends. Working late nights and being on your feet all day can be exhausting, but you'll feel better if you make more time for the people you care about. 
4. Read 30 books. 25 is my personal record.
5. Start eating meat again. Being anaemic is tough enough when you have iron in your diet, let alone when you don't. 
6. Save 50% of your pay check. Having a little money in the bank is never a bad thing. 
7. Step out of your comfort zone a little more. Most of the time, that's where the best things happen. 
8. Start journaling. It'll be nice to look over your life, in a couple of years' time. 
9. Go to at least 3 gigs. And remember to save the tickets!
10. Take more photographs. Instagram, Polaroids, fancy DSLR pictures, it all counts. 
a selection of Instagram shots from francescasoph (francesca sophia); eight drinks sitting on a table at Cabana; two girls pulling faces at the camera; a glass with a sign reading 'every time you tip, justin bieber dies a little'; a girl pouting in front of a christmas tree; a christmas tree, lights glistening; a girl poking her tongue out at the camera.
Blog Goals:
1. Have a blog makeover. New domain, new banner, new design. 
2. Stay on top of blog emails. Working so much has meant that I haven't been able to dedicate as much time to my blog as I'd like, and I really need to manage my time a little better. 
3. Participate in #bbloggers and #lbloggers more. They nearly always clash with my work rotas or my travel time, but I can tweet on the bus home, right?
4. Branch out, into more 'lifestyle' posts. I already dabble in recipes, but I'd like to post a few more snapshots of the other things I get up to (when I'm not working, that is)! 
5. Start going to blogging events, again. See all the complaints about my work schedule. 
6. Get back into YouTube videos. I've dabbled a bit, on my channel, but I really haven't kept up with it, lately. Maybe 2015 will be the year of YouTube for me...!
What are your goals for 2015? Do you love reading over other peoples' goals as much as I do?
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