Well here I am. The big 3-0.
There were times last year where I wasn’t even sure I’d make it to this birthday. And I’ll be honest, this is absolutely not how I’d envisioned I’d be spending it – in quarantine without my friends and family around. I’d planned to be in Italy with my boyfriend, experiencing the joys of Italian food and the beautiful coast, and at a spa with my mum and a cocktail bar with my friends when I returned. So, as this is a milestone birthday and one that isn’t going to be one of my favourite memories, I thought I’d look back at some of the best times of my life.
Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines. I was so petrified but they are the most beautiful, serene animals.
The first time I shared my mental health story at a little school in Kent. I felt like a weight had been lifted and I got the most beautiful note from a girl in the class telling me I am a ‘good person’ which I still have to this day.
The ‘crazy shark’ in Cyprus, which is basically like a rubber dinghy attached to the back of a speedboat. I don’t remember ever laughing so much in my life as I did then.
Trying on all my grandma’s clothes with my sister when we were little. She was not impressed but we thought it was hilarious.
Meeting Matt Haig at the World Mental Health Summit in 2018. He was every bit as lovely as I’d hoped he would be, and I have a terrible quality photograph to prove it.
Winning a national nursing award (Outstanding Student Nurse of the Year) in 2017 after almost missing the interview because the email went into my junk folder. The award came with a £1500 scholarship and that’s how I paid for my placement in the Philippines the first time I went.
Playing a massive boys vs girls hide and seek in Portugal with my friends
The first night with my boyfriend in my very own house
Getting to dress as a pin up girl at my first proper modelling job. It was the first job I’d been paid for and I felt like such a celebrity getting my hair and make-up done all nicely!
My friend at Glastonbury finally buying new warm socks and dropping them straight into the mud. I have never laughed at someone’s misfortune so much in my life.
The day I moved into my flat to live on my own. It was a big step and I was so excited to sit in my own space and just be.
Horse riding in Bali. I got up early one morning and walked around to a tiny little stable on Gili Trawangan. The guy that worked there popped me up on a horse, grabbed his own and we went for a long canter on the beach. It was amazing!
Going to see McBusted in Birmingham with my friend and getting so drunk I woke up in the hotel room with fairy wings and a black afro wig on.
Telling my mum I was staying at a friends house when I was 15 and ending up at a party at a quarry having woken up next to a bonfire in a shopping trolley. This memory is a little bit hazy I’m not going to lie but I had a great night once I’d woken up and got my second wind.
The first day I brought my cat home as a baby and he climbed in the footwell of my car then threw up on my door mat
Finally sneaking into the Rabbit Hole at Glastonbury (through a real secret entrance, not the one everyone in the queue thinks is the way in) and getting into the VIP area with loads of famous people by making friends with a man in the queue for the toilets playing the bongos.
Delivering a presentation about mental health awareness through blogging and social media at the Time To Change Story Camp.
My first Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend where I came home from work and he was waiting for me in my flat having covered it with balloons and rose petals.
Getting on the shoulders two really tall Australian guys at Download Festival and seeing Rage Against The Machine the year after the got the Christmas number one. When Killing In The Name of finally came on the atmosphere was insane, it’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Jared giving me the mic at a (hed) P.E gig and me rapping so perfectly that he gave me a free tshirt afterwards.
Being offered my first (and dream) nursing post while I was crying in the library writing my dissertation.
Being a bridesmaid at the wedding of one of my best friends last year.
The night my boyfriend and I started seeing each other at our work Christmas party in 2011. I agreed to go back to his flat but made it clear that there was going to be no funny business and spent the night looking through his fridge and book collection, before making him put headphones in so he couldn’t hear me go for a wee, starfishing on his bed and drunkenly snoring so loudly that he couldn’t go to sleep. Not sure why he stuck around after that but he did!
Winning a writing competition when I was 5 and spending the money on a plastic Pegasus. I had to write a letter about what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I chose the sun.
Riding my pony as fast as I could through a massive open plan field and doing cross country jumping.
Winning Fashion Arts Student of the Year at college for designing a dress that depicted the battle with anorexia. It was black and white to represent the rigid thinking style that many of us have, and had some common ‘anorexic’ thoughts and statistics printed onto it. I also made another dress out of tabloid newspapers.
Going to Wales for a long weekend with my friends and everyone getting drunk and swapping clothes with each other. We used to go every year and have the absolute best time.
Being collected early from primary school by my mum to find out that I was going to London to see my idol Britney Spears. I had a binder of information about her and all her lyrics that I took with me because I was the worlds biggest Britney nerd.
Meeting some beautiful kids in a little Cambodian fishing village who followed me around tracing all my tattoos with their fingers.
Making it onto TV with my friend for drunkenly stealing a man’s hat while wearing pipe cleaner moustaches at Wildlife Festival, and then bumping into the man whose hat we stole at Glastonbury a few weeks later.
So, maybe this birthday isn’t exactly what I’d hoped it would be. And maybe, after spending the first half of my 29th year in a severe anorexia relapse and the second half of it in treatment, I am ready to say goodbye to my twenties and close the door on this chapter of my life. Despite many difficulties over the years, I have had a pretty damn good life thanks to all the amazing people in it who have helped me to form these incredible memories and so many more. A lot of my teenage years were awful but the experiences I have had in my twenties have made up for that and more.