Lots of learning, subluxations and theatre.

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It’s time for another week in the life. I’m definitely considering two posts a week so I can do more of these but still write the awareness raising, life lesson and inspirational posts.

Anyway lets begin.

Monday was a work day. That 9-5 life. The cases were certainly better than they had been over the last few weeks but not great so I got 22 grants. Not enough but I’m not defining myself by my work stats or any other type of grade or number. 22 is so much better than the 10 I’d been scraping! I went home after work, ate food and tried to work on a family specific training contract application.

Tuesday I started shadowing some of the harder cases although I don’t think I quite braved taking the mouse myself then! The “red cases” like the red boulder problems I’d love to be stable on by the end of 2020 are such a huge step up! Lots of cognitive power and stress and disappointment. But I definitely appreciated a chance to learn something new and to give my wrists and fingers a break from standard desk based tasks as my joints have been struggling this week. I climbed in the evening and not gonna lie it wasn’t the best session and it was hard to not feel deflated but I did what I said I would and took it easy! I flashed the new set V1s and 2-3s of the day and started projecting some “swirly’s” which I feel in my soul so hopefully I’ll have a chance to get back to them. I also did an advanced footwork class and did my first ever roof move (on a v7 to practice heel hooks). I also very much realised my core needs work and that is part of why I’m still struggling with overhangs despite my technique on them improving. But hey, after being largely bed bound for so long what can I expect?

Wednesday, I was running on not much sleep. I’ve been struggling with sleep this week. With a combination of nausea, pain and noise from the pub next door it has been hard! Anywho. I felt super ill when I woke up in the morning and the coughing fit I had caused my right ovary to act up for the rest of the day. However my energy improved throughout the day and despite my joints feeling dreadful I went climbing (yes again). There’s a womens group on, on a Wednesday night which I like going to as the people are nice, most of them are better than be and give me useful tips which allow me to be the best me and it gets me trying new things on the wall without feeling silly. This Wednesday especially was incredible. It was quite chill, we spent a while just catching up and chatting before warming up. There were some new people there and it was the first session after Christmas so a lot to catch up on! Not gonna lie, I didn’t do the 10 squat jumps we were meant to as my body just couldn’t. I would have collapsed. (Just a warning sign to the ME flare that later ensued. I accomplished two v2-3s that I had been struggling with, due to fear more than anything else and realised that actually if I commit, I can do those big moves. They look scarier than they feel! I also resent a v2-3 in a more technical and much easier way as well as getting another v3-4 with some help and support from the more experienced members of the group. That’s what? 7 v3-4 problems I’ve now accomplished. Mostly slabby but it’s start to reaching my goals despite chronic illness. My muscles were struggling hard on Wednesday. Those little legs of mine were just not okay. I think this is why I fell of a V1 that I have yet to conquer (at a low height) and partially dislocated my elbow because I was a tit and put my arm down. I (yes am a tit) and continued climbing on it, so to this day. My elbow is still not 100%. But anywho. Good session and I came out of it feeling so positive and uplifted and it just reminded me of why I love this sport so so much.

Thursday was another learning at work day. I think it was Thursday that I really started to find my confidence with these red cases. In the afternoon the ME flare ensued so I got home and binged spinning out, curled up on the sofa. I couldn’t sleep that night cause the pressure in the back of my head and the dizziness so another not enough sleep night but such is life.

Friday was an interesting one. Even more confidence on those reds although I was feeling so unwell in the afternoon that I was just like “no. I can’t.” Honestly the pressure in the back of my head and the dizziness resulting meant that I was close to going home sick because I had visions of another car park incident. Hilariously enough. I didn’t and then (more Hannah may or may not be a tit) I went climbing. Because of my elbow I took myself to awesome walls as being on an auto belay would minimise the chances of making it worse (no high impact falls. Just low impact collapsing in a heap when it gets you down). This was my first time on a rope and colourful holds for 5 years or so. MADNESS. But it was great (although exhausting). I think I just completely forgot how to rope climb at the beginning of the session so I was using my arms too much which lead to v quick “shit I’m done”. Nevertheless, I ended up staying for two hours and I don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard. I’m not exactly sore from it but at the time it felt harder than any climbing I’ve done for years! I flashed numerous 5s. There were 2 I couldn’t do, but I think because I was so tired by the time I tried them. I also on sighted a 6a and 6a+. For a first rope session in a while I think that’s something to be proud of. I very sloppily got up most of a 6b, that I probably could have done in two parts but I tried numerous times and got more solid at what I could do however couldn’t find a way around my lack of quad strength and the fact that I couldn’t push to much on the wall with my right arm due to my elbow. If I go back before a reset it’s a project I’m definitely coming back to. I also tried two 6b+s which I know I can do all the moves of in my soul but stamina and the unique difficulties I have with balance, struggling to feel my hands and feet on the wall as well as stability and power meant they just were not happening. I for whatever reason undercrimped? Is that a thing. I realised today that maybe that hold was meant for a toe hook so might try that if I go back to it. It was a good session but bloody exhausting. I am definitely a boulderer. I don’t know when that conversion happened. (Think I could also be a lead climber tho cause my issue with top rope is the rope gets in your way sometimes!) I realised if I am going to do the whole competitive paraclimbing thing there is a lot of work to do! Although it probably is better to compete this year as a practice run for when I’m hopefully stronger and have a chance of doing well so…. paraclimbing nationals at the end of the feb may indeed happen.

Saturday was HAMILTON! It was incredible. I mean it’s Hamilton of course it was. I really liked the Eliza who was on (don’t know whose cast right now in the west end soz). I mean I literally cried at burn. And then the tears just continued. If you know, You know. I also really loved Jefferson! He was great fun. And King George always is. My collarbones wearnt’t in place all day and my neck was feeling unstable but it was so worth it! Isn’t Hamilton always?

Today, I finished spinning out and asides from trying to make sure I have semi order in my flat I’m really trying to rest. I can barely stand up so not hard. But also is.

I hope you all had a good week! I will be back with another post next week.

Fear of getting back on that rope

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Yes. I am aware. We are becoming a climbing blog which is dangerous because I have v few decent bouldering pictures left and 0 rope pictures so stock pictures it is until I get new ones taken!

Anywho. This is highly related to mental health, chronic illness and why I boulder. For people who have followed me for a while you will know that when I climbed competitively I had anorexia. As I competed regionally, these were top rope competitions. I was a top rope climber and I did a little lead which I fell in love with instantly and need to relearn and find people to do so with.

Back in the day, climbing got very tied up with my eating disorder. How tight was my harness? Had I gained weight? Heck does my harness still fit me? People with eating disorders are also often perfectionists, very competitive and have to be the best. And here comes my I used to measure myself by a climbing grade.

But I used to beat myself up if I couldn’t do x climb as well as y. I literally pushed myself through beyond excruciating collar bone pain, two weeks after my injury to get up a relatively easy overhang climb because my partner did it easily and I didn’t want to show weakness. I then even lied to my climbing instructor about the pain because I didn’t want to show weakness.

Now climbing with multiple chronic pain conditions – yes I do push myself through excruciating pain. Yes I have partially dislocated hips, toes and shoulders on the wall. But that’s now. Now when I am also making an effort to be very self aware. And that’s okay.

But in 2014. It wasn’t and I recognise that now. A hobby shouldn’t turn into yet another facet of a severe mental illness.  So I stopped competing and 2 years later ended up exclusively bouldering.

Bouldering – (although I was still way more obsessed with that number than I should have been, meaning I didn’t practice my weaknesses) was a way to escape from that connection. It also took away the harness. Bouldering allowed me to love the sport again and find myself. Through bouldering I found my freedom.  I never thought I’d see myself as a boulderer. I still often catch myself resending a problem and realising I’m climbing like a top roper. But bouldering gave me that freedom when I needed it the most. Strangely I find bouldering a lot more social too!

So now here I am. More in love with the sport than I have been since I was 15/16 and anorexic. And I want to get back on that rope. If I can fund it. It is also an integral part of at least  one of my 2020 climbing goals and maybe a 2nd new goal since realising how much I miss competing.

But I have 2 fears. One is mental health related. Will getting back on a rope suddenly make it feel more serious again and make me take it too seriously and will I as a result, fall out of love. Am I in a place where I will take each day as it comes and not obsess about getting that grade? I think I am. But what if I’m not.

The second is physical health related. Do I have the endurance? What will the payback be like? Now of course I recognise top roping will be easier on my joints than bouldering as no high impact falls or jumps. But what about my ME?

Now of course I don’t know unless I try. And yeah maybe it will be a waste of £9. Maybe the payback will be more than I can hack. Maybe I can’t even top the wall on the easiest of routes. Or maybe it will feel even more like coming home than getting back into the sport 6 weeks ago did.

There’s no way of knowing until I try. So even if I have to diarise it. I will take that leap. And I dare everyone reading this to take a leap too. With anything that has been scaring them but they also know, in their heads and they’re hearts that it’s what they want.

The people you find at the climbing gym and how this relates to the people you find when you have a chronic illness.

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Han 4 years ago, playing on a V0 for fun

The climbing gym is a lot like an actual gym. But with better music and a more social atmosphere. Nethertheless it can get quite intimidating climbing the lower grades when there’s burley men or women climbing grades above your max. (Mine is a V4 right now) Hilariously these are the people who are often the kindest. They may cheer you on when you’re attempting a difficult move or provide useful advice. Not in a nagging, one up on you way but because they recognise that everyone starts somewhere and collaboration is sometimes helpful.

There are then two types of people who are at around the same level as you. There’s the people you meet when your both working on the same problem. There’s a specific problem that I’ve been working on for two weeks and sent today during my lets send the most antistyle V1s in this gym sesh today. I got 4 of the 5 that I hadn’t yet sent. But hadn’t even attempted the 5th before today and I wasn’t feeling well and I got V3 to make up for it. So fair.

Anyway this STEEP problem I sent today. Nice holds and everything. I’ve had quite a few nice conversations whilst working on it. It seems no matter the height the crux is the same for everyone. An awkward across up, steep af move. It’s not hard. When you know how. But how is different for everyone. This is something I like about bouldering. I tend to boulder on my own – unless I go to a group coaching session or the women’s group at my wall as I find this a better way to get into the right headspace than if climbing with my closest friend or younger brothers.

I do like striking random conversations with people I’ve never met before. Especially when they’re nice people at your level and trying to do the same thing. It’s quite motivating and other people’s betas are always helpful if your just stuck.

It’s certainly one of the pro’s of climbing in a busy gym.

Then there’s the people who are at around your level and have already sent the problem your trying and just give unsolicited advice and not just one piece. One piece fine. Thanks. I’ll try your beta suggestion or think more about using that specific technique. I have no issue with one piece of unsolicited advice and will take it with open arms. I find it helpful even though often this hasn’t been the beta that worked it’s been nice to try new things.

My issue is those people who are not coaches and take it on themselves to try and coach you as if they have one up on you. No bbz. Focus on your own game. Of course, I’ll take your advice. I’ll think about it. I may even try your beta for that part of the problem and see what happens. But if it doesn’t work, I want the freedom to be able to stick to my own instincts without being insulted for it. These types of people don’t help when you already can get anxious about people watching you. I know it affects my game sometimes! We are all different people. We all have different bodies and different circumstances. Maybe my eventual beta for this final V1 (when I get it, if I get it) won’t be the most technical or the most graceful. And yes technique is so so so important and why I sent my first V4s in four years because I certainly can’t fall back on strength. It’s also why I sent that STEEP AF V1 I did today.

But and there is a big but. Asides from different bodies = different betas. You don’t need to use all the techniques in every single problem nor make an effort to do so. It’s about having a toolbox and unlocking what you need when you need.

I liken these people who give this sort of never ending one up on you kind of advice at the gym to people on social media or in life with/without chronic illness trying to give never ending advice about your chronic illness.

Those “have you tried yoga types.” or “My friend had ME and she had GET and got better.” I’m sure anyone reading this who has a chronic illness can come up with many others.

I think sometimes asides from a genuine desire to help advice like this be it in climbing or in health some people give advice like this due to an insecurity the person has and it makes sense. Coming from a very insecure person I get it. But it’s not cool and it can be really harmful (less so in climbing other than injury wise and getting more anxious and overwhelmed wise.) but in chronic illness life this sort of advice can be incredibly harmful. Both physically and mentally. It can leave you feeling deflated like your not trying enough to get better. At worst it can lead you to do something that causes a permanent deterioration.

AND THAT IS NOT COOL.

If you see yourself giving this type of advice, then please think before you speak. I get that you may think your helping or doing a good deed or are insecure or whatever but just think before you speak.

On climbing and chronic illnesses

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I’m not sure if this is going to be a little bonus post this week or my first post of 2020. But I feel inspired so I’m gonna write it.

I’ve been climbing since I was 14 and at my peak I could do a 6c+ (font) which is a V5? Anyway I started as a top rope climber and did some regional competitions as well as a bit of leading before moving exclusively to bouldering in 2016. This was a big move because bouldering was my nemesis before hand because it was scary and I found equivalent grades felt impossible. It was also my first introduction to really steep terrain, which still to this day I am hopeless at although definitely improving. However, I also found something in it which was so rewarding. See I like a challenge. I also found it calming. A break from the stress of A-levels – which at the point I was behind on due to ME. And slowly but surely I got up to my peak bouldering grade being a V5.

Then life happened. I had a really horrendous endometriosis flare up which caused an ME/CFS relapse (doctors have actually said this) so I barley climbed for a year. Tried to get back into the sport at the beginning of my second year at university and I could still boulder a V3 with relatively little effort. I then ended up largely bedbound for two years and here we are now.

I have been climbing properly again for a month. Bouldering exclusively although once I get my stamina up and I have some more money I’ll go down to the local awesome walls and get myself on some autobelays to test out my stamina and maybe push the grades but we shall see. I’ve said in my previous post that I’m climbing at V1-V3 level – with V3 being my peak/if it suits me, I can probably do it. Since coming back I’ve had to focus a lot more on technique because I have no strength. Yet I’ve got myself up overhangs. I’ve worked and I’ve worked, and I’ve worked some more.

Not just on specific problems or techniques but also on thoughts towards myself. I’m something of a perfectionist. I am also someone who struggles with not being the best at everything. Now I was never the best at bouldering but not the point. Coming back means that I am very much the worst. Or not the worst but not great. I have had to accept that, and not beat myself up over it. We all have our own journeys and my journey is a comeback. A journey to hopefully coming back better. I know I lacked some technique, some old pictures of me make me cringe. It’s about building on that – growing and hopefully becoming physically stronger as well. I always say comparison is the thief of joy and slowly but surely, I am learning to not beat myself up because x can do that blue easy and I can’t even start. And that’s the same with everything. There’s a lot of potential comparison in life – with grades, with stats, with weight. And with a chronic illness it’s hard to believe you are enough and you are valid. But you are. If you know you’re trying your best then you are enough. (And that doesn’t mean killing yourself trying. It means listening to your body)

Since bouldering again – well today actually. I realised, and all the cogs in my brain finally clicked, that I can tell how my body is doing. Yes, I have climbed through extreme pain but it’s about knowing what and why. Is it likely to cause an injury or a flare up that just doesn’t make it worth it or not? With bouldering I am slowly learning when to push and when to not. Or I hope so! Today (well won’t be when this is uploaded) I had a not so great session. I didn’t see at much progression as I have been over the last few weeks and my body was struggling because HSD was interfering with my elbows meaning slots of slabs were out and ME/POTS were causing my legs to feel incredibly weak and me to question my hands ability to grip. I could feel that, and I knew. So instead of pushing it too much and stress I decided to see what I can do. I got up two V1s (allegedly) that are so not my style and I had been trying to do for weeks. I got up a V2/3 that I have been trying since last week and it was such a shock because although I had attempted to route read the whole thing at some point, when I did it I was so focused on this one move that I was struggling with that I kind of figured out the rest on the spot. I also did a V2 on some steep terrain and did so effortlessly once I got the first move. I spent the rest of my session trying some things and seeing how far I could get. I breast planted into the wall (yes quite literally) and got further up some of the more difficult v2/3s for me and further up a v3/4 so all in all not a waste of time.

I’m very bad at assessing how ill I am based on symptoms because I could feel dreadful and have it only be cognitive screen scaring fatigue or it could be actual fatigue. I don’t know the difference. Being able to climb means my body has that time to give me subtle signs, telling me when it’s not coping with life.

Since coming back I have learnt to not measure my progress by grades or colour of climb. But rather to measure it on the skills I’m developing. On my ability to deal with specific types of holds or parts of wall. I really want to improve my overhang work and eventually my roof work as I have always been useless at these things. I also want to be able to dyno although I tried dynoing something as someone told me too and actually got closer to the move by being static… In terms of specific holds I want to get more confident on volumes and slopers as these have always been points of low confidence with me and my old wall didn’t really have volumy climbs so I haven’t had much exposure.

It’s way more satisfying to measure progress in that way. The final thing I have learnt is to just try things. Even if they’re outside your current grade range or look a little scary, it doesn’t matter if your not able to top it – just getting yourself used to the different hold types and movement types is an important step in pushing those grades. The caveat here is be careful and don’t risk an injury. I know I can’t crimp anymore because I have no strength and my fingers are unstable as is. Instead of trying to kill my fingers I’ve been mindful. If my fingers start hurting, I ease up. If I really want to try that crimpy problem and the crimps are too much, I’ve been trying to find creative ways around them. Just trying things is fun and it’s also a good way to show progression. If you can get further up something marginally outside your grade range than you could the session before, that feels good. That’s the reward of bouldering.

As with the last post the pictures are old! But hoping to go for a family and closest friend sesh whilst I’m home for Christmas and I’ll be taking it easy but hopefully we’ll get some fresh pics!

Working, Climbing and Endo Flare’s

Disclaimer: All climbing pictures are of me in 2016.Seeing as last weeks week in the life went down so well I thought this weeks post should be another week in the life, so without further ado lets start.

Monday came, as Monday always comes. I had work cause 9-5 life so of course I did and blew up some balloons and did some more shadowing. I also noticed that I was feeling a lot more settled than I did last week, which was nice. I cancelled by BT contract and ordered a data dongle (which hilariously got delivered home home) I had climbing in the evening as a signed up to a technique coaching which was really chill and a really nice refresher of all the things I know but are really hard to put into practice once your on the wall and panicking. I also pushed myself put of my comfort zone and achieved things I wouldn’t have been able to do when I was stronger a few years ago because they would have been so far out of said comfort zone. I used to do V5s on slabs but put me on an overhang and no. Now I’m a consistent V1-3 (almost). It makes me really happy to see how much I’ve come on just in a few weeks really! I’m not amazing but I’m improving and trying my best and that’s what matters.

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Tuesday we won fourth place for our decorations at work. I did more cutting, more shadowing and we had a few snowball fights. My endo pain was really bad on Tuesday and not in that sort of majorly overcompensaty way but in that I’m kind of overcompensating but also very easily irritated and if you know me well enough very much showing it. I came home roasted some veggies tried the quorn chicken fillets which are the closest thing to chicken I’ve had without actually being chicken. Blew my mind. When looking to try and empty my dropbox I found my graduation – realised just how cringe I look just before I go up the 2nd time. Deffo not TV material nor photogenic. I then found it funny that me. Me of all people graduated top of the class. If you think about it, I spent most of first year unable to sit through 30 minutes of a class without beyond excruciating endometriosis pain cause it really affected my bladder at the time. I then relapsed into ME and ended up largely bed bound. It was thanks to my uni being so helpful and moving me to the centre of campus for third year that I could attend any lectures atall. I fought through severe pain, pain I cannot deal with now without getting close to losing it. I’m honestly so proud of myself. I may not have a graduate job but that’s okay. I know I will one day.

Wednesday was hell on earth. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to at work cause of where I was sitting and my assigned reading took an hour. With the extra reading I assigned myself another hour but it was v boring and v slow although I was fortunate enough to get told to go home early and being the team player I am – I posted a letter on my way home. I feel like my line manager is a bit too touchy feely false nicey. But I don’t know. Such is life. I seem to attract people like that. Like seriously so I’m used to it and I’m happy and once I start doing actual work I’ll be happier. My endo was causing some kidney pain in my right kidney (well presumably cause the patterns of pain) and my left ovary and I partially dislocated my right ankle on my way home. I went climbing and we did some dyno work and I tried campusing for the first time! It was very fun although I have no upper body strength so had to rely on swinging alone and as a result couldn’t get far. The campusing also caused my endometriosis to flare and lead to some intense pain from kidneys down.  I also did two blues (so like V2/3 ish)  that I couldn’t do on Monday and I did them with ease. Funny that isn’t it. Also story of my life. Can’t do something one day, flashes it the next.

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As a result we sported the sleep deprived Han on Thursday. And v nauseous and ya know when you start getting those contraction like pains in your uterus. That was me. But I had log ins at work. Worked numerous cases and asked if I needed to go home more than once but did I actually go home early? Nah. The thing with being chronically ill is that it can always get worse. And what then? Working full time with them is about utilising those sick periods and sick days carefully. And do you know what, it’s a balance I need to learn to strike. I’ve been working full time (different roles) since August and not one sick day yet, I plan to keep it that way although what with me wanting a gyne referral and a laparoscopy it won’t. And the nature of chronic illness in general is that it won’t. But a     girl can dream. I got home, tried to get some nutrition in me and then felt beyond unbearably sick so didn’t move all night. It had fortunately eased before sleep time though because otherwise it would have been another sleepless night.

Friday I didn’t feel great when I woke up and wasn’t sure if it was PEM from the climbing sesh on Wednesday starting or just my ME being it’s usual self and interrupting with my mornings. We had a team pizza lunch at work which was nice and I definitely established that my ME symptoms were PEM throughout the afternoon. I literally came home. Napped. Got up to get food and ended up stuck on the floor. So yah PEM.

Fair to say I then didn’t get out of bed until 10am this morning! I’m currently in the library to upload this and do some application work then I’ll go back home and rest and probably make Christmas cards to keep me occupied as I don’t think I’ll be well enough to read the challenging book I’ve started and I only decided to make xmas cards today! With 4 days to go. Yes I know my stupidity.

One more climb before Christmas! Likely Monday after work as the climbing bug has hit me hard again. And I would miss it too much otherwise. Will take it easy if I’m half as pre-syncope like as I am today but gonna go!

Happy holidays everyone. I’ll be back next week with the big 2019 post!

AMAZING REALISATION AND DAMN YOU ED FOR MANIPULATING ME ONCE AGAIN!

CLIMBING. CLIMBING. CLIMBING.

HAVING A LITTLE SET BACK AND I MIGHT BE COMPETING IN WALES IN TWO WEEKS IF MY DAD SAYS YES AND IT SEEMS IM ONLY GOING BACKWARDS!


Ok previously I thought. No I knew the reason for my current going backwards was my weight. Fat doesn’t help you get up the wall and ED said I needed to get skinny again or I’ll never beable to climb as high as a dream. Oh but how come people much heavier than me can climb? With a lot more fat than me ed? HOW ED? That’s what I relised today. There are many factoes contributing to my current lapse. 

Has my climbing got worse? Yes. Has my technique got worse. yes? Am I less focused/ less commited? Yes!

And here is why. 

  1. Exhaustion! Ok it doesn’t take a genious to work out that if your not sleeping as much as you need to your not going to performe to our best. I have been sleeping in a lot lately jut out of an inability to tay awake. I constantly feel axausted. Recantly I have started trying to  sleep 8 hours a night but I can’t seem to get to sleep and if I o then I wake up uring the night and/or have slightly bizzare and horrible dreams which mess with my mind. 
  2. Nutrition, nutrition, nutriton. Relating to my lack of sleep ina way, I find it as an axcuse not to have breakfast. I am currently struggling with my eating disorder a little and I’m not really eating meals just random snacks and even then I’m finding it hard to eat. This ofcourse has an impact on my focus level and climbing ability. 
  3. Recant run of inury’s This is rather self explanitary.
  4. I have a cold. Idk this might affect my climbing ability.
  5. Exam stress. I’m so worried about not passing these exams and failing that not only am I not revising because im stressed and I currently can’t escape to my room cause no laptop and theres no space on the desk downstairs but the stress is having an effect on my focus levels.  

So how to deal with this and get back on track?

  1. I need to work out a schedule. Like  9:30 bed, 7pm: revise till 9pm 4:30pm: Workout…. And draw it up so it’s set in stone.
  2. I need to calm down about the exams!
  3. I need to start meal plans again! *cries* Oh but not your average nutitionist set meal plan! MY OWN MEAL PLAN! (For breakfast and lunches anyway and maybe snacks. My parents prep my dinners.)

Ok I’m going to revise now. Once I’ve cleard this damn desk. Bye!!!!!!