Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen

Three weeks ago on this day…

Shebz was packing her last things before she were to leave for home the following day and then travel the world.

She came over, sat next to me and gave me a gift bundle, a ‘care package’. She did the same a year ago just before she left for her three month Asia adventure.

But this time I was given instructions. I could open one of the gifts there and then but for the rest I should open them throughout January.

After she left, I decided I’d open one every Sunday until the end of January. I thought it would be a nice surprise at the end of every week (of course I’d never expected January to be full of many other surprises).

Don’t get me wrong I love surprises more than anyone else, but maybe there were one too many I could handle… and anxiety kicked in…

After almost three weeks of living with someone else, I miss my own little home more than ever. A post coming soon on this.

But weirdly, Sheba’s gifts reminded me without a failure every week, why I’m doing this.

The first present she wanted me to open when we were together on her last night in Southampton was a vintage painting of Florence (Firenze). From the first moment my sisters and I stepped into this small, gorgeous city last September, we instantly fell in love and it’s one of the places I’d love to go back one day. My girl knows me too well!


It reminded me of one of the most amazing feelings in the world, falling in love with places, the magic of travelling. And it’s something I want to do more after I repay my loan and land my dream job.

The first gift I opened a week later, on the first Sunday I moved in my new place and I felt lost and out of place, was a little helping hand to start saving for more adventures. Already on it!

Adventure fund

The following Sunday, after a long, busy week and weekend catching up with friends, I was finally at home, time for some me-time. Although it’s not the same anymore. I really felt I lost my focus. The next gift couldn’t be more appropriate. The Little Book of Ikigai, the Essential Japanese Way To Find Your Purpose in Life. I cannot wait to read it.


The final gift I opened last Sunday. And I cried. Why would someone cry over a notebook?

Shebz and I love notebooks, we spent many of our lunch breaks in Paperchase browsing notebooks. It’s one of our things. One of our favourite little activities we love doing together. And God she picked the perfect one.


Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.

This is my mantra for February.

My old soul destroying habit of overthinking came back stronger than ever this week and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for days but I’m back on track, with a little help from my bestie and my family and loved ones.

So here’s to February! May be full of love, surprises and amazing adventures.





New beginnings Chapter 2: A week of surprises.

I’m staring at my screen for the last half an hour. I know what I want to write about. But I can’t put it into a series of words that make sense.

My mind wanders and the internal monologue begins.

‘-Maybe that’s how Broca’s aphasia patients feel like? They can understand but they can’t speak.’

‘-I know what I want to write about but I can’t get it out. Maybe my brain is temporarily damaged’.

‘-Don’t be silly. You are just anxious. All these changes lately…’

Back in the room. What did I want to write about?

The “non-typical January” trend continues. And a week full of surprises.

I’m now involved with two brand new projects within Academic Services, which for me is like taking a long breath when you finally reach the surface, after struggling to swim to the top. I made it over the water but I still need to swim to the shore. It will do. For now. I still have to do the important but repetitive and boring tasks, but every now and then I get to work on something I really enjoy.

Surprise no1: The City Nuffield Theatre tour

On Monday I was unexpectedly offered an exclusive tour of the new Nuffield Theatre right in the city centre and of course I couldn’t say No. It looks amazing. It was so much fun to walk backstage, have a sneaky peak at the dressing rooms, the theatre, the new restaurant and admire the beautiful views of Guildhall Square from the top floor. I didn’t take any photos as I didn’t know if I was allowed to, but trust me when I say it’s pretty impressive. I can’t wait until it officially opens.

Surprise No2: New colleagues, new team, new project

Last Wednesday, after a long day working on one of the new projects with another team for the first time, which I didn’t expect, I thought I was going to start much later in the year, I went home mentally and physically exhausted. The excitement worn me out.

Surprise No3: Home spa evening

So it was the perfect opportunity to try the bath bombs sent to me by Nisha, the lovely owner of a new local business, Sabão. My evening was transformed into a home spa magical night, just what I needed and after talking to Nisha, I found out that’s exactly what her vision for her little business is.

I’m so happy Nisha loved my post. It really means a lot for an amateur blogger who only does this because they love writing, like myself.

“Omg Eleni, I absolutely loved your review and your blog! Honestly i cannot thank you enough for your kind words! With two girls under 5yrs old I guess I didn’t see the potential of creating a mini spa at home and the way you displayed everything really brought home the reason why I started Sabao. Would you mind if I share the link to your blog on my fb and Insta too?

Honestly I am so touch and over the moon you love the products! Xxx

This is exactly what I wanted affordable, high quality products which you can really treat yourself with that actually helps pamper your skin. I could never be as big as Lush because Essential Oils are so expensive on a mass scale. I’m just happy to help to get products into the right hands 😊 xx”

Surprise No4: Back into fitness

On Thursday I had my first PT session after Christmas. I was absolutely dreading it. And when my lovely student Personal Trainer messaged me to say we can start our sessions the following day, I was not mentally prepared. But it had to be done. With all the changes happening lately I let stress take over and the lack of sleep and appetite was taking it’s toll. I’m glad I went for it in the end. PT is not easy, but I love the adrenaline kick and I weirdly enjoy the pain afterwards, it makes me feel alive. PS I love my new leggings.


Surprise No5: In Sync even when miles apart

On Thursday after I came home from my PT session I voice messaged Shebz for a catch up. That’s our new thing. Voice messages. To hear her voice makes such a difference, it’s hard not to get emotional every time. But I absolutely love it. And on Thursday we messaged each other at EXACTLY the same time and it also turned out we had our PT sessions at the same time, mine in cold, rainy Southampton and hers in sunny and warm Guatemala. Isn’t it amazing how in sync we still are, even living thousand of miles apart? True love that is.

True love

Surprise No6: The busiest Saturday I had in a while

Last Tuesday I had no plans for the weekend. I hoped the flatmate would have been working and I would get the chance to have some me time. Two days later and it turned into Singing with Singforce, catching up with friends over coffee and a drink and delicious dinner at Bacaro, the Italian tapas place in town I wanted to try for a long time, with a new friend, all in one day.

Bacaro, Southampton

Surprise No7: The End of the F***ing World

On Sunday I was so exhausted it took me the whole day to catch up with the house chores and when I was finally done I just wanted to relax. My lovely friend Sofy recommended a new TV series currently on Netflix, The End of the F***ing World and I thought I’d put it on whilst having dinner. I was hooked from the first minute and ended up watching the whole series. If you love quirky, British, Dark Comedy, it’s a must watch. It was funny, sad, emotional, serious, dark and light, all in one and the brilliant soundtrack just made it even more amazing.

This week I’m hoping to spend more time doing the little things I enjoy, spend hours on my guitar, read a book, get back into my daily yoga routine I neglected, feel like myself again.

I’m still not used to living with another person, although my flatmate is lovely but there are times I wished I was on my own and I’ve been missing it a lot lately. I know it will get easier but there is a lot of going on at the moment and I’d love to spend a day or two just by myself, not having to be social or lock myself in my room. The little things eh?

Anyway, time for yoga with my favourite lady, Adriene.



Not waving but drowning…

Last Friday I attended an inspiring, thought provoking talk on mental health by Hugh Clarke, the Former Head of Counselling services at London Met and counselling Psychologist, as part of the CPD series of workshops run by the Southampton Learning and Teaching Institute at the Uni.

Hugh started the session by guiding us into a three minute mindfulness exercise. I’ll describe how I felt after the instructions below, in case you want to try it, I don’t want to influence you. Read all the steps first as after you close your eyes, you won’t be able to see the rest.

  1. Sit comfortably with your whole feet touching the floor and let your hands gently rest on your thighs.
  2. Close your eyes. What  can you see? Now focus your attention on your breath. Then move to the sounds inside the room. What can you hear? What can you smell?
  3. Now focus on the sounds outside the room, what else can you hear?
  4. Now move back into the room and pay attention to your body. How do your hands feel on your legs?
  5. Now shift your attention to your internal body. What did you notice? Your heartbeat?Can you feel your blood flooding through your veins at every corner of your body?
  6. Now gently open your eyes.

How did that feel?

I felt relaxed, calm and fully concentrated, ready for the talk.

Hugh continued with a question, how we thought someone who is about to take their own life may feel.

My first thought was relief. Relief and calmness, as they can now put an end to their suffering. Others said a sense of control, as this is something they have control of. It made us all think.

He then played us a clip of Stevie Smith, reciting ‘Not waving but drowning’, the poem that inspired the title of his talk.

and then showed us a picture of the infamous Landscape with the Fall of Icarus painting.

Landscape with the fall of Icarus
Landscape with the fall of Icarus

Icarus, based on my beloved Greek Mythology, fulfilled his dream of flying with wings out of feathers and secured with bee wax his father Daedalus made. His father warned him not to fly near the sun, but he ignored him, so his wings started melting and Icarus tragically fell and drown into the sea.

Can you see him in the painting? Maybe not at first. Everything seems normal, everyone getting on with their day and Icarus actually looks like waving, but he is drowning.

And that’s what happens in every day life. Signs of struggling and mental illness are not obvious most of the time.

Hugh went through staggering statistics on student and general population mental health in the UK. Some of the ones I noted down:

-There are over 250 labels used to stigmatise people with mental illnesses. Unbelievably sad.

Labels used to stigmatise people with mental illnesses
Labels used to stigmatise people with mental illnesses

-27% of students reported they struggled with mental health issues.

-77% of students who reported they dealt with mental health issues were suffering from depression and 74% struggled with anxiety.

-The number of students and the severity of mental illnesses they struggle with it’s been increasing year after year, now at its highest.

-A survey of a major UK university revealed that 40% of their students were ‘detached solos’, students alone and isolated.

The stats for the UK general population are equally sad:

-There’s been a 43% increase of use of anti-depressants.

-75% of people who commit suicide have never asked for help.

-For men under 35, the most common cause of death is suicide.

What’s causing mental illnesses? That’s of course a complex question, is not just one thing, and it’s different for each individual.

But some of the main reasons (other than the immediate family environment and upbringing): society, local economics, fragmentation, helpless resentment, the ‘Buffoon effect’ (e.g. Donald Trump), social media (comparison with others which can reduce self-esteem), tyranny of perfectionism, tyranny of the ‘should’ (we all suffer from this to some degree!)

Causes of mental illness
Causes of mental illness

So how can we help each other?

Develop supportive climates through empathy, spontaneity and equality. Be compassionate and encouraging. The sense of belonging, feeling valued and self esteem are vital. And of course emotional intelligence.

At that point Hugh ran out of time as we bombarded him with questions but emotional intelligence, contrary to general intelligence, can be increased throughout our life. Self-awareness, your relationship with yourself and others, recognising and controlling your feelings can all improve with practice. And that can benefit one’s life in so many different ways, I need a whole post for that.

Hugh intended to finish his session the way he started it. Practising mindfulness.

A 3 minute mindfulness exercise has been scientifically proven, not surprisingly, to significantly reduce stress (which confuses us and doesn’t let us concentrate, it makes everything blurry) as it focuses our attention to ourselves, to the present and our nervous system comes back to a calm, neutral state and we can think more clearly.

What a brilliant talk. I’m sure if we had more time we would have been there for hours.

I hope you enjoyed this. I definitely enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.





Lazy Sundays

I’m sitting on my sofa in my warm winter jumper, heating on, watching Sunday Brunch (I love Bradley Walsh, he is hilarious!) and browsing the internet for Christmas gifts and new wardrobe/style ideas.

After I was done with house chores yesterday I spent the rest of the day comfort eating, reading and watching Christmas movies on Channel 5.

I’m loving all the Christmas adverts out this week. My favourite is probably the Talk Talk one (it’s all about what matters most, family and watching Christmas movies on Christmas day snacking and cuddling with my sisters, our parents falling asleep on the sofa and Oscar the great lying next to us keeping us warm with his fur and occasionally trying to steal our food), closely followed by M&S (I love Paddington, watching it with the family at Christmas is one of my favourite memories). I actually had a sweet conversation on Twitter with M&S that made my day. The little things!

I feel calm, relaxed, rested. And you know why?

I stopped and took a break from all my week plans and obligations and spent my time dealing with all the thoughts and worries nagging me for weeks and treated myself, something I’d advise everyone to do.

I felt tired and drained all week, so much so that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. The cold made it even harder. But what was going through my mind was the real culprit.

First I was excited applying for a new job but as soon as I start composing my personal statement anxiety and self-doubt kicked in. Should I apply? Am I good enough?

With the help of a great friend who advised me how to link my skills and experience to the role and had a read of my application before I clicked ‘Apply’ I finally did it. Now it doesn’t matter if I get it or not because I know I did my best and that’s all I can do. First worry dealt with.

Co-incidentally I came across an interview Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn gave a while ago. It’s not hard to see why he is highly regarded and admired by many. At some point he talked about happiness. He only realised how truly happy he could be when he met his now wife. Before it was all work work work. Another example that success and money doesn’t necessarily mean happiness. It reminded me again to stop and appreciate the little things. Of course I want to have a successful career in something I love and I’d be over the moon when that happens but life is much more than that.

For about a month now my teeth have been very sensitive and I could not understand why which led to a train of worrying, terrifying thoughts. Since my NHS dentist was fully booked until January I bit the bullet and decided to visit my private dentist, although I don’t have much money left until the end of the month.

Never have I ever felt so horrified going for a check up. But Tobi was lovely and re-assuring (although I held my breath when she said ‘just checking for any lumps or bumps’, a normal part of a check-up,  but I’ve been watching so many Stand Up to Cancer clips lately my overworking, crazy brain paralysed me with fear). Totally worth the money.

The cause of the problem: grinding my teeth in my sleep and I need one of those fancy mouth guards. At least I now know what is causing it and how to fix it.

I skipped salsa on Wednesday. I was exhausted, it was freezing cold and the week before I didn’t get to practise any of the steps we learned as most of the men in the group unfortunately can’t get the basic steps and I could not cope with explaining the basic steps again 1,2,3 5,6,7 or even simpler quick, quick slow, quick quick slow and that ladies always turn on the right within those steps not whenever and in whatever direction.

I’m usually extremely patient and understanding but with everything else going on in my head I just couldn’t do it. I may return next week.

I re-arranged my first hot power yoga session for next weekend so I could have a lie in and rest.

The only thing I stuck to all week was my daily yoga and music, my soul medicine. So much good music out there, it’s impossible to mention all the new gems I discovered, but I love Surround me by Leon, Does she Even know by Ider, World Gone Mad by Bastille and new Recording 135 by Leo (one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard), check my Spotify for more.

On Thursday night my sisters sang at a local bar in Nicosia to raise money for a local animal shelter, the one my sister volunteers for and I visited in the summer. I couldn’t be there but my parents (who are not very good with technology) managed to connect us. They didn’t realise everyone could hear them, so I got to listen to their hilarious random conversations, their out of tune singing along, so endearing, I didn’t realise that I could be seen when they accidentally added me as I guest so people tuning in had the chance to see me eating chocolate on camera, I chatted to the people I knew there, my sisters’ friends, and I got to watch almost the entire show live. Thank you mamma and papa!

Facebook live- Southampton and Nicosia
Facebook live- Southampton and Nicosia

If I could, I would have popped to Cyprus for a week to re-charge and recuperate but since I couldn’t, this was the closest I got to. On Thursday I felt I was there, my parents doing their thing, getting into hilarious situations, sisters singing and me cheering them on in the background. Just what I needed!

Finally, on Friday I celebrated the end of the week with lunch and laughs with my bestie and my lovely lady friends from work. Wonderful, warming ramen at Wagamama followed by take away delicious brownies from Coffeelab. Perfect way to end this week.


I’m rested and ready now for a busy week and weekend.

Have a lovely week everyone!





Every day is World Mental Health Day

What a Monday it has been. Emergency dentist appointment, fever, at some point I couldn’t put a sentence together, Monday Blues but also lovely comments and messages for my recent post on how I cope at work.

I started composing this post last night so it could be ready first thing in the morning, but I was still in pain and confused, I still am, apologies if I go off track. I get more sensitive and emotional than usual when I’m not feeling well and the recent death of an amazing colleague from cancer and my godmother being in the hospital for the last week made Monday extremely tough to cope with, it reminded me of what happened two years ago about this time, it’s hard not to worry that it might happen again.

Mental Health is a subject close to my heart and it’ll always be. I studied Psychology, as most of you know, which helped me debunk the stigma and myths around it. But that’s not the reason I’m so passionate about mental health.

Many of my favourite people were diagnosed and still deal with depression, anxiety, autism and other mental illnesses. And I’ve been there myself.

I went through hypochondria 3-4 years ago when my relationship was falling apart and had no support from anyone because I was too scared and ashamed to tell anyone about how paranoid I got and how I panicked every time I felt any ache. The only person I talked to about it was my ex-boyfriend who was going through depression. He couldn’t help me, he needed help himself, but I managed to get through it on my own.

And about a year ago, depression knocked on my door. To begin with I didn’t know what it was and how it happened to me. I spent the year before trying to get over a horrible breakup that left me struggling with my confidence, and grief, the first time in my adult life I lost a loved one so close to me in the most horrible way, that night scarred me for life, cancer really sucks.

I was emotional and sensitive bursting into tears for no obvious reason and I went out all the time, avoiding being alone at any cost because I didn’t know how to deal with it, which was lots of fun but it didn’t get me anywhere and it all finally caught up with me last winter.

My most read post to this day is the one I’ve managed to put into words and let out in the open how depression really felt for me, the most honest post I’ve ever written.

Thank you to all my friends and family home and away who helped me get through this. I’m doing much better now, the best I’ve been in years. I know how to recover and drag myself out of that hole, but there are some days that are harder than others. And it’s OK. Depression never really goes away, you just learn how to cope better.

Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability across the whole world. Staggering statistic by the World Health Organisation.

But unfortunately, even on this day and age, mental health is not taken as seriously as it should be and so many of us are scared and ashamed to ask for help or tell anyone in case they think we are crazy or weak. There is still stigma around it and not enough support.

I’ve written about it before. Over and over.

If your chest hurts the first thing you do is go to the doctor. Why should it be different when your heart and soul hurt so much you can feel the pain in every inch of your body? Why should it be different when you can’t think clearly and your mind is so messed up to the point you can’t sleep for days?  Why should it be different when you can’t get out of bed in the morning and find it incredibly hard to stop crying and get out of the house?

I can go on and on but my message is: every day is mental health day. We should take care of our mental health the way we take care of our physical health.

Every day is mental health day because we fight our fights daily, whatever they are.

My warmest hug and love to all.





The most honest post I’ve ever written…

I’m going home tomorrow. It’s not a holiday. No I didn’t get the chance to have a holiday in many other countries other than Berlin and Edinburgh last year, those were holidays. This is not. It’s home. It’s home for a thousand different reasons. I grew up there, I lived most of my life there, my best friends and family are there. The people I probably need the most right now, but I can’t be around  because of distance live there. Because I refuse to give up, I refuse to do the easy thing, move back home to have my support network, so I can stop trying and free fall into this black hole. Which is the easiest solution when you are struggling.

I need to go home every now and then to stay sane. I need to remind myself that there are people who love me for who I am, people I don’t have to pretend I’m happy in front of them, because they know me too well. People who’ll give me a hug when I need it, because they know when I need it. People who will re-assure me and make me feel good about myself. As much as you can try and re-assure yourself, you still need that from other human beings, no matter what.

For a while now I’m not feeling well. I can’t put my finger on it (it’s not because my best friend went away, although of course I miss her), but I know I’m not happy. I’m not unhappy, but I’m not happy, not most of the time. I feel stuck. I feel trapped. Trapped in this vicious circle. The less I do, the worse I feel and the worse I feel the less I do. And I don’t know how to get unstuck.  And sometimes however hard I try by making jokes, making people laugh, making a fool of myself (if only people knew that some of the things they say to me in jest actually hit home), I can’t hide it. It’s getting harder and harder to hide. I know some of you noticed and you often ask me if I’m OK. Which I find very sweet and touching. Thank you for caring.

And is getting worse. Some of my friends, I haven’t seen for months (I love you and miss you all, I really do) because I find it easier not to get out and not try. I know people give up on you after a while but I find it easier to just be by myself. Things I used to enjoy I find hard to do, like singing with my colleagues and friends or driving.

I feel I lost my magic marbles and I’m not even sure where to look for them.

I still manage to go to work, although I struggle some days. But at least I haven’t given up completely. Work is one of the very few things that actually keep me sane (most of the time). And that’s why when I worried about my job a while ago, I knew I had to be re-assured that I’m not going to lose it, that I’m not going to lose one of my last life jackets. I’m so lucky I work with some amazing people who keep me going.

It’s so difficult, I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to pretend you are OK when you are not. I don’t think people realise how hard it is for me to make any decision, even simple ones like what to have for dinner, how hard it is to get out of the house, to interact with other human beings, how even the smallest thing like losing a tooth can affect me hugely. I don’t think they realise how my confidence has hit rock bottom, because I manage to hide it well most of the time by overcompensating.

But then what to do? I do not want people to worry and feel sorry for me. So I put my fake smile on and get on with it as best as I can.

I can’t self diagnose but I know where all the signs lead to. They all lead to the big black dog.  I know I need to do something about it before is too late. But is bloody hard. Is even harder when you live on your own, and the people who know you the best and can really help you without asking, because asking for help is not easy, are a thousand miles away. And I don’t want to worry them. And I don’t want to move back either.

I’m not giving up, not just yet.  I learned a lot, especially the last couple of years.I’m scared and I worry about myself and about my family, no matter how much I try not to. But when you struggle, you struggle, no matter how aware you are of the irrationality of it all. Acknowledging your thoughts are wrong doesn’t necessarily mean you can fix them in an instant.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. But I know not many will admit they do. Sending you all my love and I hope we all make it to the other side.

So there, is all out in the open now. And I already feel better for sharing.

I’m saddened and a bit scared with the terrorist attack in London, but  I’m happy  I’m going home tomorrow to see my loved ones, be surrounded by my favourite people, enjoy the sunshine and be happy for a week, until reality hits me in the face. I hope this break will give me the push I need. Or not. Only time will show.

I love you all x


PS I want to thank Donna, Suzanne, Sarah, Helen, Louise, Jamie, Chris and Andy, thank you, you know why.