Grief is something that affects us all at some point in our lives. And the sudden overwhemling feelings of loss, and the realisation that that friend, father, mother, beloved pet or grandparent is gone forever can be crushing.

I have found recently that people have different ways of dealing with their grief. For some, like my father, who go about their daily lives as normal, coping with their feelings of loss by keeping themselves busy and living their lives is the best way. Then there are those among us who vocalise their feelings, talk about them, cry about them, wear them on their face becasue the pain of loss is too much for them to hide. Then there are those like myself, who throw themselves into caring for the people whose loss is the greatest. I never feel as if I can grieve, for someone elses loss is greater than my own, it happens everytime, it was their mother, their father, their only parent, my sister only had my grandmother for 11 years, as opposed to my 17 years.

On Thursday we lost my Uncle suddenly, a middle aged man who just dropped down dead. The shock of it shook all of us, but my first thoughts were of my cousins, who had lost their father, and of my Aunt, who had lost her husband. And as we travelled down to take care of them, to console them and help them in any way they desired, I panicked. For how do you console someone whose loss is that great, is that sudden and all consuming. Then there was the guilt I felt for my fear, they had lost their father, their husband, and yet I was panicking on how to act and behave. But on arrival I learnt, all people need is someone to talk to, they do need your sympathys, but more than anything they do not want your pity. They do not want you to don black, stop everything and enter that all consuming grief they are feeling: that is what funerals are for. I learnt that the best way to help someone is to just be normal, don't treat them differently than you ever would just because they have lost someone. Yes, allow them to break down and cry and feel grief when they need to, but most of the time they need somone there to distract them from themselves and their thoughts. If they allow themselves to be eaten away by their own grief, then they too will fall into darkness.

Maybe one day, hopefully a long way down the road, it will be my turn to grieve and let other people help me, teach me that life can go on, not in the same way, but a new and different way. God forbid I ever loose a husband, and parent or a soul mate, then it will be my turn to grieve, and that is what family are for. But for now I am going to be here for my family, for my cousins who lost a father, my Aunt who lost her husband, and for my cousins Grandmother who lost her only child. That is where I am needed, and that is where I shall be.

Food Love|| Crab and Crayfish Risotto

One of my favourite dishes of all time has to be Risotto, and it is something that I have been cooking since I was 6 years old. We used to own a flat on the West Coast of Scotland, in a beautiful little ol' place called Crinan. We were able to get hold of a lot of fresh fish and seafood, in fact, we could see it being landed from our kitchen window! So in true testimony to our lovely little flat and my happy childhood memories, I recreated my ultimate comfort food, 'Crab and Crayfish Risotto'.

  • One large shallot (or two medium sized ones)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Arborio Rice
  • White Wine
  • 600ml or so of chicken stock
  • Mascorpone
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pot of white or red crab meat
  • Packet of cray fish tails
  • Parsley
  1. Finely cut the shallots and add to olive oil, sweat till golden.
  2. Put your stock in a pan and allow to warm through on a low heat.
  3. Add your crushed garlic cloves and cook for another minute.
  4. Add Arborio Rice (I usually add three handfuls per person).
  5. Coat the rice in the olive oil (add more if neccesary) and leave to cook, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan.
  6. After 5-10 minutes turn the heat on high and add the white wine (just enough to cover the rice). Fry off the alcohol, making sure the rice does not stick to the pan.
  7. Turn the heat back down and begin to add the chicken stock, a few ladles at a time.
  8. Watch and stir the rice and stock occasionally, again making sure the rice doesn't stick. Once rice starts to stick, add more stock, and repeat until you've run out of stock.
  9. Your rice should have absorbed the wine and stock and be a lot thicker in consistency. After you have added the last ladle or two of stock, contiue to cook and stir until there is just a little bit of stock left with the rice, which should have a gloopy consistency.
  10. Add around 125g of mascorpone, stirring until it is all incorporated into the rice.
  11. Finely great some parmesan and add 3-4 generous handfuls. You can add more if you want a really cheesy flavour, but this may overpower the crab. 
  12. Finely chop a few handfuls of parsely.
  13. Throw in the parsely, crab meat and crayfish tails and stir until incorporated. It is important not to stir too vigorously at this stage, as you do not want to break the crab meat up too much.
  14. Season to your taste and serve with a sprinkling of parsely.
This recipe generally serves around 4-5 people, and the quantities can be changed easily to cater for more or less people. The great thing about Risotto is that once you have mastered and found a basic recipe you like, you can experiment with flavours. I highly reccomend a Pea and Mint Risotto, just add frozen peas with your last ladle of stock and throw in some mint at the end.

Serve with bread (I have gone with some Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia ) and a glass of wine.

Tynemouth and OOTD

I look after my little sister everyday after school and througout the school holidays, and on Wednesday I took her to the Aquarium. She is keen to become a Marine Biologist someday and I thought it would be a fun and educational day out for her. I also dragged the boyfriend along as I couldn't pass down the opportunity to take some outfit photo at Tynemouth's gorgeous beaches.

After almost two hours in the aquarium, lots of pictures taken of fish, and learning all about stingrays I took everyone out to lunch at The Priory (where of cause I had a huge slice of cake and ice cream).

I love the beach, Tynemouth Village is just gorgeous, and I feel that I don't visit it enough. There are so many cute individual shops, and cafes, and the scenery just takes my breath away every time. I even braved the waves at around 9 o'clock on a cold Wednesday morning!

Now on to the outfit, I bought this dress from Pop Boutique around three years ago, and I feel like I don't wear it enough. I love pairing it with a stripey top to recreate the ultimate 60's vibe, and this roll-neck crop top from Asos is perfect. To complete the look I threw on my trusty Primark pumps and George at Asda coat.

Dress: Pop Boutique
Top: Asos (similar)
Shoes: Primark
Coat: George at Asda (similar)
Earrings: Fat Face

P.S. I got something on my dress and only just realised when I got home, so excuse the white stuff on the front of my dress. Also I thought after a year it was finally time for you guys to meet the boyfriend, so meet Andrew. He has no interest in blogs or fashion what so ever, but I am training him up to be quite the outfit photographer!

THRIVE|| Richard Layard & David M. Clark

As many of you who have followed my blog  for a while know, I blog a lot about Mental Health, and being a teenager living and coping with Clinical Depression and Anxiety. Recently I went to the Library in the search of Medieval History books (yes I am the nerd who revises for University before its even started) and in the 'New In' section I came across this book, Thrive.

Written by David M. Clark, a Professor of Pschology at Oxford, and Richard Layard, the world's leading labour economist and member of the House of Lords, Thrive argues and provides the much needed evidence for the need of better treatment for Mental Health sufferers.

As soon as I opened this book, I was hooked. Each chapter starts with a quote, either from an author, sufferer or person of notoriety, and the first quote of the first chapter struck a chord with me: 

·         ‘I was much too far out all my life. And not waving but drowning.’- Steve Smith ‘Not waving but Drowning’ (Pg 3). This quote brought me right back to my darkest days, to the days when I would cry that I was falling, drowning and nobody was saving me, not even myself. Back to the days where I would hide in the school toilets, sitting on the floor, crying, or vicariously cross the road not caring if a car hit me. Then the figures hit me, 'In rich countries Mental Illness accounts for nearly 40% of all illnesses. By contrast stroke, cancer, heart disease, lung disease and diabetes account for under 20%' and 'Roughly a 1/3 of families currently include someone who is mentally ill' (Pg 5). All these figures seemed to indicate that Mental Health should have an abundance of hospitals, treatments and funding, and yet when I had first got sick, the waiting list for a child psychiatrist was over 6 months, and as the book goes on to state, a lot of people do not get treated for over two years. 

        As you progress through the chapters, Layard and Clark begin to build up their arguement. Illnesses such as depression are felt in the same areas of the brain as pain, and if you had broken your leg, you would get seen within a few hours. In terms of funding, the cost of expanding treatments and providing enough Doctors would cost less then was already costing the government in benefits, lost days off work and crimes (all of which have heavy numbers of mentally ill people). And pumping out more medication is not the answer, well reasearched, effective thearapies, such as CBT which has over a 50% recovery rate are the way forward. I myself have received CBT, and the therapy provided me with life altering improvements. 

        Further more, we, as individuals and supporting family members need to break the stigma around mental health, help people to learn that its not their fault, and it is ok to have a mental health problem, be it depression, anxiety, post-traumatic-stress syndrome, ADHD, bipolar or schizophrenia. The book also states how we all need to step up and raise awareness, start fund raising and campaigns, as is seen with Cancer, Heart and Motor Neuron Disease. Together, we can truely make a difference to the millions who are suffering. With tragic recent deaths, such as that of Robin Williams bringing to the fore front Mental Health problems, the time has never been better to act. 
       I could not recommend this book enough, for a truely fascinating and factual read. And I thought to finish this post I would leave you with two quotes from the book, one from J.K Rowling (who has never hidden the fact she suffered from depression) and an 8 year old girl suffering from mental illness:

          ‘Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced…It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope’ JK Rowling (Pg 17).                       

       'Make me have a Mum and a Dad that love me and to start my horrid life AGAIN and not have so much sadness in my life’ Eight-year-old girl'. (Pg 213)

Top Five Reads #4

 1. Will Grayson Will Grayson- John Green & David Levithan John Green has many talents, and writing teenage 'coming of age' novels is certainly one of them. This novel sees John teem up with Mr David Levithan, whose work I haven't particularly read but I can vouch for in this book. The story follows the lives of two teenagers in Chicago, who both share the same name, Will Grayson. After some ups and down and in betweens the two eventually meet and share their lives together. Heart warming and funny, I highly reccommend this book.
2. Medieval England- Edmund King  Recently I received my A Level results and was offered a place at York University to study History. So in true Hope form, I have borrowed some historical books from the Library in order to swat up for my first term of Uni. This particular book starts with the 'Battle of Hastings' (1066) to the 'Battle of Bosworth Field' (1485). I would only reccommend this if you are a History lover like myself!
3. Thrive- Richard Layard & David M. Clark This book is amazing, so amazing in fact that it is getting it's own post on Hopes Gone, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Thrive is a factual book all about the problems of Mental Health, and the lack of funding and healthcare available. Some of the figures and life stories in here are truely outstanding, and I could not reccommend this book enough.
4. The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix For fans of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared this book is for you. Raphael Ignatius Phoenix is going to kill himself on his birthday, on 1st January 2000. An old man, Raphael is tired of his life, but before he kills himself he relives his life, including remembering the 10 people he murdered. Poignant and sometimes saddening, this book is a moving and thought provoking read.
5. Bake I have been on holiday for a while now, and with my Mum away and me spending most of my days looking after the home, my little sister and Dad, baking provides some much needed escape. My little sister got me this book for my 18th Birthday and it is filled to the brim with cake, cookie, bread and desert recipes

August Summary

August seems to have come and gone extremely quickly, and as September rolls on I have a lot of planning, packing and document sorting to do before I head off to Uni.

August has been a somewhat quiet month for me, I said good bye to one of my oldest friends, who has gone to Honduras for a year to teach English with Project Trust. I am so amazed by her bravery and independence, and I wish her all the best of luck for the next 11 months (if she's reading this, which I doubt, she has little internet connection). Me and the boyfriend also had our first little holiday away, to Edinburgh to see the Fringe Festival, and we stayed in various hotels, with one of them, the Crowne Plaza being almost too fancy for me to stand in. We traveled First Class on the train on the way back, and let me tell ya, once you go First Class on East Coast, there's no going back, they had free food, and lots of it, I am talking an endless supply of Banana and Butterscotch Cake!

Other then Edinburgh, things have been pretty quiet, my Mum went off to work in Japan and I was left in charge of the house, my Dad and Sister. So the majority of my days have been filled with cooking, ironing, cleaning and entertaining my little sister. I took my little sister on a day trip to Tynemouth to visit  Blue Reef Aquarium, she wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up and it was so lovely to see her face light up as she saw all the sea creatures, I even taught her how to use my camera so she could get lots of fishy snaps.

I can't wait for September to really begin, and although I am terrified to be leaving home and starting the next 'chapter' in my life, I can't wait to experience loads of new things and meet lots of new and interesting people. I am also thinking of starting a You Tube Chanel, as it is something I hope will give me a little more confidence in the up and coming weeks, let me know if you think this is a good idea in the comments below!

Blogs I am lovin' this month:

  • Thumbelina Lillie Megan is as lovely as she is gorgeous, and she recently created the brilliant and inspiring #ProjectBareAll, which is just amazing, and you can see mine here.
  • A Little Opulent This Lifestyle Magazine has it all, from post about books and movies, to great beauty and life tips. And to top it all off it is gorgeously presented!
  • Beauty Crush I am more then a little envious of Sammy and her gorgeous curls (if only my curls looked like that...*sigh*). If you are in need of some great fashion tips and insight, then look no further, Sammy is the girl/blogger for you.
Favourite posts from Hopes Gone: When does your Illness define you?OOTD: Darccy London Jacket'The Big Day'- A Level Results

Weigths and Measures

Growing up as a child I had a lot of 'Puppy Fat'. I was never a skinny kid, and often when we look back at family pictures people remark on the little pot belly they never would have imangined I had. But as I reached the age of around 12, the puppy fat began to drop off, and I got thinner and thinner. What my parents and friends didn't quite realise yet, was that I wasn't just naturally loosing my puppy fat, I was starving myself.

From the age of 12 till around 16 I would eat just one meal a day, and maybe a hand full of peanuts. I made my own lunch for Middle School, and I would just pack a slice of bread, or a handful of peanuts or peas. Even though the weight was dropping off, and I was no longer a chubby child, I still couldn't see myself as thin. I would spend maybe half an hour every day looking at myself in the mirror and spinning around and around trying to see myself as skinny, when all I could really see were rolls of fat and 'wobbly bits'.

I always ate in front of my parents, and I never starved myself to the extreme, just enough to feel the familiarity of hunger pains I had come to enjoy. I hated the feeling of being full, I would rather have thrown up then be full. I could just about manage to eat a big meal if my parents took us to a restaurant, and on the weekends, I would always eat slightly more as my parents were watching.

Then I reached high school and people were telling me how skinny I was, and I liked it. More than that, I felt proud of myself and the new skinny figure I felt I had worked for. I began not eating anything till I came home for tea, and as I developed closer friendships in high school, they began to notice. They began to notice my lack of lunches, my remarks on someone who I viewed as not skinny (but actually were a size 8). They drew some figures for me, one of a slim person, and one of an even slimmer person, and would ask me whether I thought they were fat, and I always would. They then began forcing me to eat, sitting with me inside an empty lunch hall making me take bites of a cereal bar whilst everyone else was outside, or even one time physically picking me up out of my chair and shoving me to the lunch queue.

At the same time my Mum began to notice I was looking a little too gaunt. She would force me onto the scale and threaten me with a lard alternative if I didn't eat a reasonable amount of dinner. One thing I could stomach, and craved, were cakes and ice cream, and she would buy me my own tubs and trays of cakes to eat. I began to improve, as I knew I was skinny, and although I myself couldn't see it, I knew it had to be true, otherwise people wouldn't keep telling me. And then, when I was 16, this boy liked me. Once I had my first boyfriend, I began to gain more confidence and started eating small meals, no longer just one a day, I could fully master a £1 pick a mix again, and although I still felt sick consuming large amounts I was no longer as tired or drained as I had been.

Then I got sick, in a whole different way. My boyfriend dumped me and I felt very alone. I couldn't handle all of these feelings swirling inside me and that doubt I had about whether I was fat began creeping back. Whislt being treated for clinical depression and anxiety I was asked to place myself on a sliding scale, with a fat person at one end and a thin person at the end, and I refused to. I remember saying that I couldn't place myself on the scale cause I didn't know what he was asking, everyone was different and they had different bodies shapes, and I viewed my body shape as wrong, and the main reason I was fat. Eventually he gave up and moved on to the more dangerous, darker thoughts.

Then one day I had an epiphany, food was tasty, cake was extra tasty, and I felt as if I had wasted 5 years of food heaven and had to make up for eat. Now I consume 3 meals a day and a snack, and some days I will eat continuously. I love food, and whenever those thoughts that tell me I am fat creep in, I try to shove them aside. Sometimes of course it is hard, I try not to look at my body in the mirror too much, and I sometimes find myself wearing baggy clothes cause I feel I am too large, or look too fat, but if I have those days, I just go out for a run, or a long walk, and I feel as if I am doing something healthy with those thoughts rather than starving myself again. I have even learnt to except that I will always have large boobs and an ass, no matter how much I wish I didn't. Everyone has different body types, and we just have to accept what we are given.

Recently I have been going through a 'fat' phase again. Thinking I can't wear skimpy summer clothes and not letting my boyfriend look at me or touch my bare stomach. But this time I am taking active control. I am continuing to eat healthy sized portions, and the occasional slice of cake and cookie, but counteracting it by actually doing regualr excercise (something I am notoriously bad at). I am learning that weight isn't a good measure, as muscle weighs more than fat, and due to my regualr excercise I am actually developing muscles, which means that naturally I will weigh more. I am also learning to ignore clothe sizes, where as before I would cry and starve myself if I had to buy a Size 10 skirt, now I acknowledge that certain styles recguire larger sizes to fit my body type.

Gone are the days of crying in Hollister cause I didn't fit into a pair of size 0 jeans (and I apologise again to the male shop assistant who was confused by this irrational outburst). I am learning, and trying to love myself. And for once in my teenage life I am actually healthy, no longer gaunt, or tired and actually able to run up a hill without collapsing, although I do currently sound like Darth Vader when I come in from a run.....