Stepping out of the kitchen

Its been almost two and a half years since I wrote my first post, titled “Stepping into the kitchen”. A lot has changed since then:

  • I discovered an online community of people who understand me, who have mental health conditions and who have supported and helped me, even though we have never met. Many of whom have become friends.
  • Through these people and this community, I have come to understand my anxiety better and realise that I’m not the only one, not by a long shot!
  • I’ve made and tried various plans and strategies to help me control or reduce my anxiety. Some helped and some didn’t but I learnt a lot from the process.
  • I’ve pushed myself to do things that I was afraid of and I’ve ticked a lot of things off my bucket list.
  • Recently I managed to do one of the most major things on my bucket list, I reduced my medication and then came off it altogether. Its still early days, I’ve been completely off meds for about 3 weeks. So far its going well.
  • I’ve realised that although anxiety will always be a part of me, it doesn’t have to define me. I’m not just my anxiety, I have other interests and dreams and aspirations!

Which is why I’ve decided to step away from Calm Kitchen. I’m still going to blog and tweet but I’m going to do it on another blog. A fresh start. I’ll still post about anxiety and mental health but it won’t be my only focus. I’m going to rewrite my bucket list and keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

I hope you’ll join me at but if you don’t I understand. Calm Kitchen will stay online but I won’t be updating it any more.

Take care,

Hayley x

Is it too late now to say sorry?

Sorry for the Bieber reference but it seemed pretty appropriate. I’ve been wrestling with myself for the last couple of weeks and the song has been going round my head on a loop. Have you noticed that when a song fits the situation you’re in, you can’t get it out of your head? Maybe that’s just me…

I’m writing here today to say sorry to some people who have been dear friends to me, despite the fact we’ve never met. Sheena, Jase, Sarah, Alex, Rose, Felicity, I can’t name everyone but basically everyone who I’ve bonded with on the blog and on twitter. This apology has been a long time coming but I didn’t know to start, I’m still winging it now if I’m being totally honest… How can I justify disappearing from the blog for the best part of a year, only popping up on twitter every few weeks and then nothing at all since December? I can’t.

The last few months have been a total blur. Work was hellish. The stress, hectic long days and realising that the people I worked for had zero respect for me really wore me down. I seemed to lose all of my creativity and imagination and when I sat down to write the words wouldn’t come. Plus when I got home I was normally so tired I couldn’t even be bothered to go online, that’s not like me! So I stopped logging in to Twitter and the blog and weeks later when I changed my phone I didn’t think to sign in to those accounts, so I didn’t get any notifications.

So here I am months later, I left my job a few weeks ago (very long story that I am so not getting into right now!) and I’m starting to feel like me again. My creativity and imagination are slowly reappearing, although I am still struggling. It’s taken me a ridiculous amount of time to just write this much. I feel like over the 11 months that I was working in that job, I’ve lost a part of myself and it hasn’t come back yet. My friend S who I’ve mentioned in a few other posts, said she thought I’d lost my spark and positivity, that the job had slowly ground me down. I guess she’s right. I’ll get back to normal eventually right?

Anyway enough about all of that, it doesn’t matter. I’m here today to say I’m sorry for the disappearing act. I logged back onto Twitter for the first time this year to find a lot of messages, some of them six months old! I couldn’t believe that the last time I was on Twitter was November! I’m sorry for being a rubbish friend, I’m sorry for not staying in touch. I can’t promise that I’ll be online everyday or every week because I’m going through a few changes and nothing is decided yet (I hope to explain more about that soon.) But I hope to catch up and I hope everyone is doing well.

Hayley x

Time for self care?

I realise that my last post was back in March, an awful lot has happened since then and I just haven’t had time to post. Sorry in advance if this post turns really long and rambly. Here’s a quick list to bring you up to speed:

  • I broke up with my boyfriend. We weren’t together long and it wasn’t working out, at all!
  • I got a job! Finally =)
  • I started working 50 hour weeks for said job
  • Out of a sense of loyalty I continued to babysit K (a glowing reference from K’s mam helped me get new job)
  • Meaning I was working 62 hours a week (!)
  • Now my hours in new job have changed to 38pw which is easier but I’m still working long hours…

In all honesty… I’m finding my job tough. I’m coping with it and I am enjoying it (mostly) but it is having an effect on me. The weekends don’t feel long enough, I’m tired constantly and I’ve lost weight. The weight thing worries me because I lost a lot of weight when my anxiety got really bad in 2013. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of hard work to get to this point and I worry about going back to the way I was. Thinking realistically, I know that I won’t let that happen. If my anxiety started to get worse, I would make sure that this time I get help straight away and I would be honest about it. My new bosses know about my anxiety (more about that later) and I’m finding it easier to talk to my friends and family about these things, so I don’t feel so alone with it all now. I’m in a better place and I intend to keep it that way but the tiredness, aching muscles, stress and weight loss need addressing. I can’t prevent them completely because they are a consequence of working long hours but I’m going to try to reduce the effect they are having on me.

But first, here is how I ended up disclosing my anxiety to my employers. While I was searching for a job, I thought a lot about whether to tell prospective new employers about my mental health. I knew that it would put a lot of people off but at the same time I wanted to be open and honest. During my interview I wrestled with myself, should I mention it or not? My potential new employers were both medical professionals, maybe they would understand? But what was I supposed to do, just throw it into conversation, “Oh by the way I have a mental health condition, hope that won’t be a problem?” So I didn’t mention it and the interview drew to a close. They said they had one final question, was there anything either medical or personal that I wanted to disclose to them in total confidence?

… It was the perfect opportunity. I knew that I had to go for it or I would regret it. So I started talking, even though a voice in my head was screaming Is this wise!?!?! I watched their faces carefully, trying to gauge a reaction and they seemed unfazed. They asked me about my medication and seemed happy that it wouldn’t affect my ability to drive or look after the children. Obviously I got the job =) Just last week they asked how I was doing, whether I had been feeling anxious etc, it feels great that I can be open about it!

Now back to my current situation. I need to find a way keep my stress levels down, stop myself from losing more weight and make sure that I have a work/life balance… Not easy when all I want to do in my time off is sleep! So here is the plan for my next post:

  • Make a new self care plan. I did used to have one but it needs updating.
  • Make a Whole Life Grid. This was an exercise in Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. The idea is to create balance so that your whole life isn’t focused on one area, for example work!
  • Revisit the Bucket List. I haven’t looked at my Bucket List for a while. I want to see what I can tick off next! 

I will write my next post as soon as I can. I hope to have it done in a few days but I’m not going to set a deadline. I don’t want to put extra pressure on myself. Any comments/advice are welcome. I feel like I’ve completely neglected the blog/twitter lately so its nice to be back =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Book Club in April: Exciting Announcement!

Book Club is back for April and we have an exciting opportunity for anyone who wants to join us this month! We have been approached by the brains behind a newly released, illustrated book based on anxiety. They have very kindly provided us with an exclusive PDF copy for free. Everyone who takes part in Book Club in April will be emailed the PDF. This is a great opportunity to be among the first people to read the book and for the first time at Book Club, your kids can join in! This short illustrated book is suitable for all ages, so ideal if your children have anxiety or a great way to explain your anxiety to your children.

So what book is it? Well I’m going to release the name (and the books twitter account!) in a few days. If you want to be first in the know, DM me your email address on Twitter @CalmKitchen and I will email you the book on April 1st (Don’t worry if you haven’t signed up by then, I will continue to send the PDF up until Friday 17th April.) The live Twitter chat will be 5pm UK time Sunday 19th April (new day and time as many members couldn’t make Saturday evenings) The books authors will be interested in any feedback we can give them, both during the live Twitter chat and through our book reviews for those of us who blog them.

So to sum up, if you want to take part in Book Club this month for free (No need to go out and buy a book!) then send me your email address. Myself, Alex and Rose are very excited that Book Club have been offered this opportunity!

Hope you will join us for Book Club in April,

Hayley x

Moving forward

Hi everyone! Just to let you know I am still here, pottering about. I haven’t posted in over a month because… I haven’t even got a decent excuse. A few weeks ago I had a very busy week and during that week I tackled a couple of things on my bucket list. The problem is I didn’t make time during that week to post about my achievements and then the next week I was really ill with flu and the longer I left it the harder it was to start. Now it’s weeks later and I’ve got LOADS to tell you guys about and I don’t know where to begin. So to bring you up to speed quickly I figured I would make a list, everyone loves lists right?

Over the last few weeks:

  • I ticked “Go to another concert” and “Go to the cinema” off my bucket list. The cinema one was particularly interesting because I was taking the child I babysit and this was the day that I got a cold, which later turned into the flu. So on top of being nervous about the cinema, I also had someone else’s child in my care and I was feeling a bit under the weather, both extra things to worry about! But it went great and I was proud of myself for coping so well.
  • I was ill for over a week with flu and sinusitis. I found this difficult because the flu made me very shivery/shaky, which is what happens when my anxiety gets bad. So every time I got really shaky my brain would decide I was having a panic attack and I would have to reason with myself that I wasn’t panicking, I was just ill. I managed this pretty well but it was exhausting! Especially on a night.
  • I went to another concert. Yep two concerts in less than 3 weeks! I still wasn’t quite over my flu but I was feeling a bit better. My mam asked if I still wanted to go and I said yes. The tickets hadn’t been cheap and I had been looking forward to it for months. I went but I couldn’t enjoy it properly, I just didn’t feel well enough and by the end of the concert I was struggling to keep my eyes open. By bed time it had all caught up with me, my anxiety went through the roof and I had a very difficult night. I learned my lesson, next time I will listen to my body.
  • The job situation has stayed the same. I suffered a couple of knock backs, the worst one was when I went to an interview, met the family, was offered and accepted the job and put the start dates in my diary. But there turned out to be a clerical issue which meant I couldn’t take on the job after all. The family was really apologetic (the issue was on their side) and I don’t blame them for it, it was one of those things that couldn’t be helped but it was still another knock back. I felt really down about it for a couple of days but I picked myself up and kept looking. No point on dwelling on what might have been.
  • I have started dating. Its still early days but going well so far and I’m having fun.

While all of this has been going on I’ve neglected my Happiness Project and Book Club. I’m trying not to worry about that too much because it couldn’t be helped but I’m sorry. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I want to continue. This blog has given me the opportunity to express myself in a way that I never could before. Through this site and Twitter I have realised that I’m not some weird freaky outcast, I’m just one of the 1 in 4 people who have a mental health condition and that’s okay. I have made some wonderful friends and I wouldn’t be at this point without their help and support. But on the flip side this blog has caused me to create pressure and guilt for myself. Pressure to post so often or so many times a week/month. Guilt when I miss a self imposed deadline.

So what can I do? My Happiness Project in particular has made me feel that I’m not doing enough or posting on time. This defeats the object, it’s called a Happiness Project for a reason. So I’m just going to admit that right here, right now, it’s not working for me. So I’m going to scrap it and continue working on my bucket list instead. I’ve made good progress there and the fact that I am now regularly going to concerts (at a certain venue, where I can choose and book the seating and I know I can handle the crowds. Little steps!) and starting to go to the cinema again, shows me just how far I have come. Restaurants don’t make me nervous anywhere near as much as they used to and I am so much more confident in my ability to cope with situations that can trigger my anxiety. I feel like I’m finally started to live a “normal life” and I want to push and challenge myself more and more. So I’m going to do that and I’m taking a step back from the blog and twitter.

I’ll still be posting here but it will be more on an “as and when” basis. I’ll be posting when I have something to write about, no more pressure to post on certain dates or so many times a week/month. I’ll still be around catching up with your blogs and I can always be contacted on Twitter. I’ll be spending less time on Twitter too but I’ll check in every so often and if you DM me I promise to reply when I can.

Book club fizzled out during February for several reasons but it will be back in April! Myself, Alex and Rose have an exciting opportunity for anyone who wants to join in with Book Club next month, more details about that coming soon!

I think that just about wraps everything up… So thank you for reading my ramble and I hope everyone understands why I am taking a step back.

Take care,

Hayley x

Book Club Reviews: Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway

The first month of Well-being Book Club went really well =) The book was Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. A group of about 10 of us read the book and discussed it online throughout the month. The live twitter chat saw us sharing and reviewing our favourite chapters. Many of us also blogged our thoughts about the book. So here are all of the reviews in one place. If I have missed anyone out I’m really sorry, please send me the link to your post and I’ll add it!




Anxious Tinkerbell


 Feel free to browse through the reviews and if anyone wants to join us, this month we are reading Sane New World by Ruby Wax.

Take care,

Hayley x

Happiness Project: February

January seems to have passed in a blur! Before I talk about this months resolutions, here is how I got on last with months goals:

  • Sing in the shower. I did this and I’m going to continue with it! It sounds silly but it did make a difference to my mood.
  • Act more energetic. I had a good go at this, even though at times I really didn’t feel like it!
  • Smile and laugh out loud. I kept forgetting about this one but I tried to be more smiley whenever I remembered!
  • Be generous with thanks and praise. I forgot about this one a lot… Must try harder!

I know I am a couple of days late with this post, sorry about that! My resolutions for February are based around personal growth. This month I will:

  • Work out how to use my sewing machine. I have a sewing machine that I managed to break. But I think that if I read the instructions properly I can untangle it and get it working again!
  • Learn car care. Confession time, I don’t know how to change a tire and I only just know how to check the oil. I’m going to get my dad to give me a crash course in car care.
  • Join a class/group. Because it’s always good to meet new people or learn something new =)

Those are my resolutions, what are yours?

Hayley x

Book review: Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway

Well-being Book Club got off to a great start this month! We were reading Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers.

Feel the Fear

I had read the book before, over a year ago and then I found parts of it very useful. I have changed a lot in the time since I last read the book and upon reading it again, I found it even more relevant and useful! I guess this is because I had the chance of a new job, the hours and responsibilities scared me a bit but it was the perfect job for me! I have delayed writing this post because I wanted to be able to confirm whether or not I got the job. The answer? Erm, I don’t know, doesn’t look like it… But that is a post for another day!

One of the chapters that I found most thought provoking was the one about taking responsibility for ourselves. Do I always take responsibility or do I give up opportunities for fear that it will make my anxiety worse? I’ve definitely been guilty of that in the past but I’m trying to change that. Here are a couple of quotes that really spoke to me:

The knowledge that you can handle anything that comes your way is the key to allowing yourself to take healthy, life-affirming risks.

Taking responsibility means figuring out what you want in life and acting on it.

I also really enjoyed the chapter on saying YES to your universe. It made me realise that I can say yes to my anxiety. That doesn’t mean that I am going to put up with my anxiety or stop trying to progress. It means that I can accept myself as I am, while continuing to move forward and “acting as if I count”, another interesting idea from the book.

Another idea that I will be taking from the book is the Whole Life Grid. I wanted to make one and link it to this post but because my job situation is still uncertain, it made sense to wait until I know what is happening. But once everything is more stable I will definitely make one.

To sum up, there are lots of interesting ideas and exercises in this book that are definitely worth trying. The book helped give me the confidence to attend the job interview, so it appears that this time it hasn’t paid off but it gave me a boost. I’m experiencing for myself a “No lose decision”. I got confidence, experience, the knowledge that I can handle interviews and that I’ll be able the job, once the right one comes along. That is the the main thing I am taking from this book:


Hayley x

Well-being Book Club: February Poll

Its hard to believe that January is nearly over and it’s time to vote for the book that we will be reading in February! This time we are setting the poll for 24 hours as 7 days felt too long last month. The poll will end at midnight.

Below is a list of the book suggestions we have received with a link to their Amazon page, so you get a feel for the books, look at reviews and see how much they cost. When you vote there is no obligation, if the winning book doesn’t appeal to you, you don’t have to buy/borrow it. We are keen to keep this fun and pressure free!

The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

Mind Whispering by Tara Bennett-Goleman

Exercise for Mood and Anxiety by Michael Otto

Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time by Michael E. Addis

Sane New World: Taming the Mind by Ruby Wax

Mindful Compassion by Paul Gilbert

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression by Miriam Akhtar

The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters

Calming your Anxious Mind by Jeffrey Brantley

Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life by Tara Brach

Making Friends With Anxiety by Sarah Rayner


Poll Closed. The winner was Sane New World by Ruby Wax

Remember 3 votes per person and you can vote for your own suggestion. Results will be announced Monday. I’ll be putting up a post of reviews for Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway sometime in the next few days. If you have a review, tweet/message me the link @CalmKitchen and I’ll add it to the post. There’s no pressure to write a review and if you do it can be as long or short as you like, we want to keep Book Club fun and lighthearted!

Take care,

Hayley x

Stressy sleep deprived ramble

The title of this post says it all really. I cant sleep and I’m feeling really stressed. Once again this has to do with my job, Boss and the sweet kid that I don’t want to upset. When I first started this job in April, it really helped me with reducing my anxiety. Sure I got messed around a couple of times but I loved, the job, the kid and the fact that I had a bit of money coming in again. Over the summer things started to go downhill, you may remember a couple of near hysterical posts back then. Things have gradually got worse since then and now my job has gone from helping my mental health to steadily chipping away at it. The kid I look after has done nothing wrong, it is all Boss. Lying, failing to pay me on time, making things up constantly, I can’t take it anymore! A couple of weeks ago I felt really fed up and when Boss got home I know that I acted more coolly towards her. I wasn’t rude and didn’t say or do anything I shouldn’t have but I wasn’t as warm and smiley as I normally would be. I’d had a really bad week thanks to Boss and that night, when on top of everything else she had got home late, I just couldn’t be bothered to pretend that everything was great. I know that Boss picked up on this. How do I know? A few nights ago kid seemed much quieter than usual, then she asked me if I was going to leave her. I was shocked and asked her where this had come from…

“Mam said soon you might get fed up with me and go and work for another family.”

I tried to reassure kid without saying that I would never leave, I didn’t want to lie to her. She wanted me to promise so in the end I promised her that I wasn’t going anywhere soon but that one day she wont need me anymore.Unfortunately even that promise is one that I know I cant keep, for the sake of my mental health. I am furious at Boss. I didn’t say anything to her but I cannot believe that she would say those things to kid to guilt me into staying! Today I should have been looking after kid but I got a text to say that her gran was looking after her as kid is going away tomorrow with her school for a few days and gran wanted to spend some time with her. I didn’t mind. Then I got a frantic text from Boss asking if I had a rucksack that kid could borrow, it turns out they’ve lost hers. I did have one so Boss and kid came to my house to pick it up. My parents were also there, they know Boss quite well, so as everyone came into the living room Boss was chatting to my parents. Kid came up and hugged me, looking all concerned and asked if I was feeling better. I was a bit confused and told her I was fine, at which point she called over to her mam, “Hayley’s feeling better, she can look after me tonight!” Boss very quickly covered it up and told kid her gran was going to help her pack for her trip.

Just to clarify, there was nothing wrong with me and Boss had apparently invented an illness which she told kid meant that I couldn’t babysit tonight. I’m so angry! Kid was worried about me, Boss shouldn’t lie to her like that!

I really don’t want to upset kid but I have to leave, sooner the better. I have been feeling so stressed, I have been losing sleep and over December I have lost 8 pounds. Not good, especially over Christmas! I have been looking into other jobs but so far nothing has worked out. A couple of times a “perfect” job has came up, I’ve contacted the family and they have decided that they don’t need a nanny after all. Other times I don’t get a reply at all. Every rejection is making me feel more hopeless. I just pray that something comes up soon.

Thank you for reading my ramble. Hope I made sense. Any advice welcome.

Hayley x