I don’t even know where to start, so let’s take it back to February 2017…
I was working as a housing support worker. Great job, but very low-paid. There is also difficulty in the support worker field to really progress and go anywhere, as people tend to stay in their organisations for several years. I also felt like I was underselling myself: I’m creative, studious, and like pushing myself, however at my entry-level position, and doing the things I was doing, made it easy to feel very dissatisfied, and soon my mental health took a turn for the worse. I recall one day, sitting on the bus, my stop came up to get off and go to the office, and I just couldn’t leave my seat. I sat there and started to cry, and ended up in a faraway part of London before going home without calling anyone, not my manager or any of my colleagues. So in February of this year I started looking for Masters courses on things that I could do that would lead me to an actual career, instead of just moving from job to job. I knew that money would be an issue, so I also looked for jobs that paid well and were flexible working so that I could still earn money whilst studying. Prior to graduating in 2014 from my undergraduate degree, I was planning to do an MA in librarianship or information science, but I got sidetracked heavily. Now, in 2017 and miserable, librarianship was on the table, alongside social work and counselling. At the time I was considering my options for all three.
Unfortunately, finding a job that is flexible and still pays well is difficult. My only option at the time was to find a very unconventional job that would allow it. I decided to go into massage therapy. In March 2017, I left my job to begin my course at the end of that month and finish in June. My husband had also left his job to pursue plumbing and he worked part time. I gathered that by September, I would have already been earning good money, would have been able to get onto an MA course, and be studying. It didn’t work out that way. Firstly, there was an administrative issue with the college I signed up to, so the course was postponed to May, which I hadn’t saved for (thankfully, my mum gave me money following her voluntary redundancy at work, and my husband and I basically lived off this money for most of the year). By the time I finished the course, which was at the end of August, I had no money and was unable to get onto a course. We ended up leaving our “cosy” flat to move in with my father-in-law, but the room was in disrepair so much of September was spent knocking down walls, painting and plastering, getting new carpet, and a whole bunch of other things.
By this point, I was becoming increasingly sad and despondent, I had missed the deadlines for any courses, and I had not received any massage bookings with the company I worked for. I hate being broke with a passion, and it made it worse to see everyone around me doing really well and being able to enjoy their lives in a way that having money allows. So, I’m back to living in a room, although this time I’m not alone. I have an amazing husband who is doing everything to ensure we both remain happy, and who is trying his hardest to be a qualified (and chartered) plumber. I’m so proud of him.
Finally, this month, I received massage bookings, so something is moving at long last. I’ll have to apply for my MA for next year’s intake, but I am leaning towards my first love of librarianship.
So what does all this have to do with Cocoa Vegan?
I have an unhealthy relationship with food: I comfort eat. Also, when I’m down, I don’t feel like cooking or making recipes, so motivation to keep up the blog was low. The worst thing however was my relapse into dairy–I mean, big time diary. Even though I’m trying to lose weight (gained by contraception. For the love of God, AVOID hormonal contraception), I found myself–and keep finding myself–binging on chocolates and dairy-based sweets. I even bought a mac-n-cheese lunch from Pret A Manger last week (with kale, mind you. Still, my first time eating cheese in several years). I’ve been binging like crazy. The other day I bought two Kinder eggs! It’s a madness. I’m slowly trying to get myself into a healthy state of eating (for a while when we moved here there was no available oven or fridge so we ate out a lot and skipped meals), and also weaning myself off this mentality that food should be a comfort blanket for whenever I feel down. Binging is such an unhealthy habit.
Over the next few days, (new blogging schedule of Mondays and Fridays and some weekends), I’ll share with you some of the things I’ve been eating, the restaurants I’ve been to, and even the “bad stuff” I’ve started eating again. I can’t talk for all vegan/vegetarian bloggers, but I know that I myself have always struggled to be completely, 100% dairy-free. At this point in my life I would say I’m virtually back to eating dairy again, due to all this chocolate! I had made a lot of gains, but I’m back to square one. Hopefully this will reassure anyone out there who feels like they’re the only one who struggles with lifestyle changes: veganism isn’t some rainbow-plated, buddha-bowl lifestyle full of dancing kale, mason jars and goji berries. Not everyday laughing in a field; sometimes munching malteasers in a dark corner.
Also, I’m happy to report that I’m mentally not in the same place as I was in February, or even towards the end of September, when my binging was at an all-time high. I retreated into myself during those days, didn’t feel like talking to friends too much, and had very little motivation for anything. Thankfully, I feel like my old self again, and I’ll soon be sending off my MA applications, and I’ve sent off a lot of job applications as well, which is something I just couldn’t mentally prepare for a few months ago. I also have a mentor, I volunteer one day a week, and I’ve begun to network and build up my confidence again. For anyone who feels like they’re just stuck and lost, and that their life is moving nowhere–don’t give up! We can do this, together.