Fight or flight

TW: discussion on suicide

I no longer know which one is which. I seem to want to do both at the same time.

It has been a while since I posted. Various reasons, mainly that I have been very busy moving back to our flat and my little baby is so active now at the end of the day there is not an awful lot else left in me.

I was mixed about moving back here. On the one hand it is our little space; we own it, and we have the room to just be a little family. Six months of living with the in laws is six months too long. It was making me ill in ways I hadn’t realised, undermining my authority and confidence as a mother, as a woman.

But within a week of being back that which I dreaded has occurred. Our neighbours are cunts. I do not use that horrid word lightly. If I have to listen to one more fucking Polish dance track at full pelt, shaking my furniture and pictures on the walls I won’t be responsible for my actions. It literally is driving me crazy. There are supposed to be noise laws and the police are supposed to come and take noise readings. Of course, in this poor part of Rotterdam, it’s never a priority. This has been going since 2pm – my family were told there was a party tonight just to let us know. Well fuck you wanker, my mental health and wellbeing of my daughter trump any boozefest you may have planned and I fully intend on having  my sweet revenge once your hangovers and comedowns kick in. As soon as our new speakers arrive. Wheels On The Bus at full pelt 7am anyone? I know my baby for one will love it.

We had to leave today. I was driven out of my home by some selfish twat thinking of their own self gratification. Same as most of humanity, no surprise we are so fucked as a species. The noise cuts through me like a knife, giving me such a strong physical reaction. I want to vomit with the intrusiveness of it all. This sound invading my personal space, my safe haven. I feel demented with it all, with the need to flee to the top of the nearest mountain (and I’d have a bloody long trek from The Netherlands to get there), warring with the descent of the red mist to do physical harm to those causing me this pain and trauma. It is all DH can do to stop me hurling bricks through their window when they refuse to answer the door, knowing that we are asking them to shut the fuck up. I dream of having a shotgun that I shoot through our ceiling, or smashing their door down with an axe and jettisoning the sub woofer (which we have repeatedly requested they move from the floor and put a towel under) into the nearest canal, weighed down by their super expensive stereo.

The problem is that these visualisations become close to hallucinations and in the moment I am so lost to my senses I can’t snap out of it. I feel so under threat by this plague of noise I am close to actually doing something illegal – and driven by my illness – in this case PTSD – I actually have no control over my actions. I actually want to die to make.this anguish in my head end. To make this noise stop. I am a suicide risk right now. My baby is safe with her daddy so I can go knowing she is in good hands. Oh how seductive that thought is. I am no use to anyone like this.

I went and drove my car up the road and sat in it for two hours today just to have some peace and calm. Only the need to look on my sleeping baby got me back into the hellhole that my home feels like. The noise amplifies in my head and I start to hear things that are not there, feel vibrations that don’t exist. I am plugged into Spotify, my own dance music on at full pelt to try and drown out the other noise. I almost wonder if I am in some way autistic, my extreme reaction to such noise being so distressing to me that, like my cousin with Aspergers, I need to listen to music with a headset on to face the outside world. Or in this case, be inside with the outside world sat right in my living room like an unwanted guest that refuses to take a hint and fuck off.

In between all of this is despair. How did my life get to this? I don’t live in places where such people live. I left that behind me so long ago. That’s why I worked so hard at university, got myself a career. Yet here I am, unable to change a thing because the mere thought of work leaves me feeling paralysed and we simply can’t afford to live anywhere else. Mental health is wrecking my life, taking my options away, leaving me impoverished both financially and emotionally.

I’ve taken two of the dreaded Quetiapine and I’m on the sofa waiting for them to knock me out. I hate them but I think I need them. I have to detach. I’ll review this tomorrow. I’m sorry this was so ranty. In a way I want to capture this so I can look back and learn from it when I’m not worried about someone falling through my ceiling with their overenthusiastic and undeniably shit dancing.


Hard work

I finally managed to get my mother on a plane out of here yesterday. It was the longest three days and not how I envisaged spending my daughter’s first birthday. Never again. A day in my mother’s distorted, over-critical and judgemental universe was very challenging. As was an afternoon of my mother in law’s usual overbearing manner towards my child.

It has left me angry and really exhausted. I can’t really write much for the next few days as I can barely put one foot in front of the other. Two rays or sunshine in this horrendous brain state that I am in is that we are moving home this week! And DH and I are having two days alone with each other. We are going to Rock am Ring. I am such a Dave Grohl groupie and am beyond excited. In a quiet, tired way. I will miss my baby awfully though. It is the first time I have left her overnight with someone aside from DH. So it will be a bit hard. But we badly need some time out.

So I wish you all a pleasant week and look forward to reading others’ blogs as usual 🙂

Blonde thoughts

I’m doing my hair again. Just sorting out my roots (I hope – I think I bought the wrong grade of lightener) and then it’s onto the red at long last. I hope it works this time. I haven’t enjoyed being a blondie.

It is really interesting watching how people react to hair colour. Right now I am the largest I have been in my life so I often wear tunic tops, leggings and dresses to cover problem areas. Or DH’s shirts work well too. Oh and it’s all black. So let’s just say I don’t wear the sexiest of outfits. Right now I am comfier when I hide which suits me fine.

So I’m amazed at the amount of attention I receive. I was out with the dog and the daughter the other day, waiting to cross a busy road. I’m not kidding – every third car stared. Mostly men, some women. I don’t think it’s even a sexual thing – just for some reason blondes get gawked at.

It’s not something I enjoy. I am not an attention seeker. I want to slope off into the shadows and work behind the scenes, not be out front grabbing the limelight. I don’t want to be noticed. I get a very physical reaction when I am given attention by anyone not of my immediate circle of DH, my baby and my dog. And it’s not a good reaction.

I’m going for fire engine red right now so perhaps I am making problems for myself. But I resent that something I am doing for me is then used to judge me and somehow people feel they have the right to stare. Or make comments, normally suggestive ones. Fortunately my Dutch is so bad so I’d say more – but fuck off seems to be universally understood at least.

How do you blondes manage it? The constant invasion of your privacy? It drives me mad and puts my paranoia through the roof. It’s made me a bit ill. And goodness it’s high maintenance. In order to look remotely presentable I am full on make up and straighteners every time I’m outside. And I can’t manage that always of course. Which then makes me feel like rubbish for not trying.

I’m really not attention seeking with my hair. I just love the different colours. For me. Not because I’m looking to get laid by a bunch of randoms. Or because I think it’s cool to look different. Or some other bullshit reason.

Can you tell my mother is coming to town tomorrow? What possessed me to ask people along to my daughter’s first birthday in a couple of days? DH and I should have found a cave a very long long way away to celebrate with her.

But that aside, my feelings on being blonde still stand as valid. Particularly when it distracts me from stuff I would rather not think about.


I touch on sexual abuse in this post so please don’t read if that will upset you.

Another day, another session with the psychologist. This particular day is granite grey, with wind and rain racing through the tunnels of the bus station, whipping everything in its path. That would also be me. But I like it. You can’t beat a good storm. It amplifies the gritty nature of where I currently live, all concrete and hard edges of unlovliness. Even the straggly looking trees lack colour. Post war architecture was not kind to this particular part of Rotterdam. Again though, it suits me today. I match my surroundings in emotions – unforgiving and temperamental.

I had one of those sessions where I sat and didn’t agree with what I was being told. To a certain extent. My bipolar and sexual abuse are being mixed up with my ability to parent and feel like a mother and they are all separate. In order for me to realise that it is normal to feel stressed, anxious and worried. All mothers go through this and my reactions are not based on my disorders.

Except when you have lived the life you live with abuse and bipolar actually your reactions are based on past experience. I can’t just turn that off. What happened to me has made me the person I am today and that in turn impacts on my reaction. And because of bipolar and abuse, those reactions are loaded with the weight of what I have done in the past and regularly come back to haunt me. There is no escaping it. I live it every day and at some point relive an aspect of my past every day, that either influences how I respond to my daughter or leaves me feeling like I’ve been punched in the stomach. It’s not that I want to have these thoughts, geez far from it – it’s that they appear at random. I can’t control them.

So I don’t agree. But when that happens I smile and nod and move onto something else because I do get benefit out of other things we go through. Perhaps I should argue the point. But I can’t be bothered. I have other things I want to address. And it is kind of her to want to reassure me that I am OK. And a timely reminder to me that no one knows everything. They don’t live inside the murk of my mind, so how could they get it? Doctors only go so far. The rest is up to me.

I have worked really hard to reduce the barriers I have up between me and my baby these last couple of weeks and it is slowly working. I find it very difficult but so rewarding.

I was pondering what we were discussing and why I react the way I do when something isn’t just so. Or perfect. One theme that is recurring for me is perfection. Hmm how to put this.

I have felt throughout my adult life that everything has to be perfect. I am by nature a perfectionist and I have high standards for myself in terms of performance at work, socially. I set myself up for massive failure in this regard, of course. You can’t control everything around you. I am also pretty adaptable and that has helped in striving to achieve perfection back when I was working. I like results and achievements. I am very target driven and goal oriented. Which is OK at work I suppose but not helpful when dealing with a baby.

So what, loads of people are that way, you could shrug. Very true. But when you add in the reasons why I think the picture changes.

I remember my childhood as chaos. My mother wasn’t around as she was working. I was raised by my abuser. Even after she left, the chaos continued. No one ever helped us with homework, showed us how to organise our bag, how to get ready. A teacher pounced on my school bag and showed me up in front of the whole class about homework not done. I was so ashamed. I was eight.

I do, randomly, have one warm memory as a kiddy of my mum doing my hair. That was the thing we seemed to do together. We were left to fend for ourselves mainly, and by the time I was 11 and we were back in the UK we were pretty much on our own. No one to guide us.

It’s a pretty young age to be left to fend for yourself. No one was interested in what I had to do in my life. I was expected to get on with it.

So as an adult I am going about trying to organise everything in an attempt to come to terms with my past. Which is logical I think. But it doesn’t explain this extreme reaction I have to when she throws her food around and refuses to eat. Or when she won’t keep her socks and shoes on.

See, if you are a perfect little girl, bad things don’t happen to you. So if my daughter is a perfect little girl nothing bad will happen to her. Like being abused by a C word of the first order. And so it goes on and on.

In addition to my parents obsessing at us about their totally unrealistic need for us to always be perfect, there is something tickling in my memory about having to do everything spot on. I can’t grasp it. The problem with these memories of abuse is that they are like grey grease in my head. I see something in the shadows of my mind that echoes back in my current behaviour and I can’t bloody well get to it. Then I’m back to the need to control everything in an attempt to understand what happened and bring order to my mind.

But there is something to this perfect thing. I have that nauseated feeling whenever something about the abuse comes up. I need to leave this now and explore it more. Urgh. I have head melt.

Fuck this is hard work.

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It’s not Chariots of Fire

Not by any stretch of the imagination, but I did something today that I believe is the first step towards getting better. I’m on the right path now.

A full eight hours of sleep helped massively with my state of mind (I love my husband). But I have also been getting to the point where I am so full of self loathing that something had to be done.

We Brits are renowned for whinging and with good cause. We are a nation of moaning Minnies. If it’s not the weather it will be the awful traffic on the M4 by Chipping Sodbury (I am sure you can get to Chipping Sodbury from the M4 somehow), or the coffee is too cold or these new shoes are pinching too much or the buses are late or there are leaves on the line. It could be perfection, such as a train running to schedule, and we would still find something to complain about.

I’m no different. I had a draft post called Fat where I bemoaned how trapped I was in my body. Reading it now, it was a pity fest of epic proportions and I am glad I didn’t put it out there for the rest of the world to see. I am a rolling tub of lard and no longer can blame it on my thyroid, pregnancy or post pregnancy. My thyroid is ticking along nicely and a year down the line, that post pregnancy thing just doesn’t wash. I am out of reasons for doing fuck all apart from eat Nutella with a spoon. 

By the way, I am no Katie Hopkins about food and fat. DH has a huge problem around his weight and eating which is for him to deal with (and he is trying) – a combination of learned very bad habits and psychological comfort eating. But I love him for him and size doesn’t come into it for me. I don’t judge anyone else as I see it as irrelevant. I hate how hung up on bodies we are as a society and am frightened for my daughter in this regard.

Where it does matter to me is the connection between diet and physical and mental health. It’s all part of the same package – one affects the other.

Now, with mental health to contend with, I am aware I have huge issues with body image and food. So it’s not just my inbuilt cultural instinct to bitch on about my size that’s the problem. In a manic phase I become anorexic. I stop eating for months at a time. Two pieces of Nutella on toast a day or less is my sum total. I don’t need food. I binge drink, that’s for sure. But food becomes a poison to me. Then, when it flips, I can’t stop eating. Anything that comes into my path I devour mindlessly. I crave carbs and nothing makes that go away. I put all the weight back on and more.

So in amidst this mix of random food chaos was, in the past, my check and balance. And that was exercise. I have exercised regularly for as long as I can remember. I used to train long hours at swimming as a child and then as a teen walked a good two hours a day just to and from school (who does that these days? Such good exercise!). As a student I hit the gym to battle the bulge and managed to get to a good weight. Then in my early 20s I started running.

My mother has been a runner for many decades now and still runs half marathons in her sixties. I didn’t run because I wanted to be me not her. But then I decided that was silly and put on a pair of trainers and off I went. I think that running, above all else, has helped with the stability over the years before my diagnosis, more so than anything.

I have gone from regularly doing half marathons to barely being able to walk up a flight of stairs. I wanted to try out fell running it looked so cool. Now I am scared of going somewhere unfamiliar, let alone up and down Mount Snowdon for a race.

Then I got really sick around five years ago and moved here. I picked it up again and then ran in lunch breaks and before or after work. Sure, lithium makes it harder but not impossible to lose weight. I didn’t get any larger because I started medication. Then I got pregnant. And then we moved. So always an excuse.

I tried to run in Scotland. But in the grip of such severe postnatal depression I felt every agonising minute I was away from my baby for. I also pushed myself too much – I wasn’t even three months postpartum when I was out trying to lose weight. My body was still wrecked from pregnancy and a very difficult labour. Looking back now I realise how ill I was and how dangerous things were. But when you are in the grip of it – and hey exercise is good for you right so it can’t be a sign of something bad? – it’s impossible to see and get out of.

Then the crash came and I was so ill. We left and came back to The Netherlands. Life became a misery of putting one foot in front of the other, just to get through the day. It had been this way for a good few months until something in me snapped yesterday. I decided enough was enough.

I tidied up all our stuff so our room was lovely and neat, blogged a bit about what I wanted to achieve yesterday which I did 🙂 and that really helped. Some good sleep also bought clarity. Oh blessed sleep!

But really for me this is it. No more excuses. I am tired of being this shadow of a person, this half-being that operates in the background. I don’t want to feel like an observer in my daughter’s life, unable to participate and letting others make decisions for her I should be making. I need to shake this sense of detachment, that I am just watching whilst everything happens around me. It’s my choice. It won’t be easy. There will be setbacks. But I am prepared to try.

It’s not just because I’m whingy and British – it is genuinely harder to get exercise regularly when you struggle with your brain. Also ladies don’t rush back into your size 10 jeans straight after labour – give it time. Enjoy your baby. You’ll know when it feels right to work out again.

Twenty minutes today is all it took. And I felt glorious. I was knackered after a combination of walk-run but I have still this lovely feeling of having done something positive. I’ll never be a Roger Bannister or Paula but that doesn’t matter.

I plug myself into my music, plonk shades on and off I go in my own world. It gives me a break. I think through so much. And when I finish I have a sense of achievement.

I looked absurd today as these trainers are stupidly expensive but look horrible. I had DH’s shorts and shirt on as all my stuff is in storage. My norks are enormous as I couldn’t breastfeed and haven’t really shrunk since pregnancy and I had to stuff them into a substandard sports bra (DH is being despatched to storage later today to get my stuff). Gawd make sure you have a good sports bra! I managed but you know…..


There’s a pic of two essential parts of my therapy. One is far cuter than the other, and I’m looking forward to taking him to the beach to do long runs again like we used to. I’m cautiously excited about the future again. That can only be a good thing 🙂

What did I do next…

Well I did all of it aside from my hair. I figured out I wouldn’t have time to do it properly in my defence. And aside from a slight altercation with an exploding bag of crisps at the checkout of the supermarket, I managed pretty good. Time went so fast. The world did not end as I felt it would when I started doing stuff. Nothing bad happened. It may sound dumb but that’s a big deal for me.

So it was an achievement. And I even had a nice walk with the dog to meet my goal of getting a bit of exercise every day.

And my goodness Inquisition is a beautiful game. I’m so excited to get going on it again.

Hair pics will follow. I hope it works (gulp).

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It’s just me and my dog….

Or it will be when the in laws vacate their apartment to go to this big family party. Not long to go. DH has already left to attend it and see all his cousins, with daughter in tow.

What should I do with myself? I have tidied up and done all the laundry, went round the shops already and poochie has had a walk.  I find I have a few hours of spare time ON MY OWN for the first time since, really since before I gave birth.

And I am not quite sure what to do with myself. This spare time is weighing heavily on me.

I feel bad because it was a big family party and I should have gone. I know I am not well right now but still, I know DH would have liked it if I were there even though he went specifically with the intention to give me a break.

I shall tell you what I want to do. And then I will report back and see if I ended up doing any of it.

1. Move the Xbox into the living room so I can upload Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 into my Keep. And then, at long last, I can have the Inquisition exactly the way I want it. I stopped midway through to replay both of the earlier games as the story just wasn’t right otherwise and it was upsetting me. The old games were on our old Xbox which is now somewhere in Xbox heaven. Then set everything up so I can game later.

2. Get a shower. I like being clean and showering every day but it has been such an effort recently. It’s also tied in with…

3. Do my hair. Which requires me to bleach my roots and then attack the whole thing again with Directons Vermillion Red. I couldn’t afford Manic Panic this time round so I hope this works. Let’s hope it doesn’t go pink again. I am fed up of being blonde. I don’t suit it and that was never the intention. So back to trying to do nice things for myself like enjoy my hair colour.

4. Snuggle in bed with the pooch and start losing myself in Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’m a huge fan of RPGs and especially fantasy. And this game for me is the ultimate experience. Bring on my love affair with Cullen hehe. I’m a sucker for a good old-fashioned love story. It’s like my favourite historical romance rolled up in the best fantasy story and the closest I’ll ever get to living it out.

I want to skip 3. Actually I want to skip all of it and just get into bed and not move. Everything is such a monumental effort at the moment. And I am sucky in the afternoon so that doesn’t help. But I did stand there and look at the washing up – only a few things – and have a panic attack at the thought of doing it. I had to go and lie down rather than clear up. The thought of putting a sponge in my hand seemed like a step too far.

When did such simple things become such hard work? I was thinking that living with a mental illness is like doing  laundry. It is something you have to plough through, something you really want to avoid doing and it seems never ending.

So with that cheery attitude, let’s see how I get on! I know I will feel better once I have done my hair. I just need to do it. Fingers crossed 🙂

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Alcohol – The Cure for Social Anxiety

This is a very thought provoking and excellent article. I come from a country where it’s almost a rite of passage into adulthood to begin to get legless at a very young age indeed. I was 14 when I first got drunk (to this day the smell of Southern Comfort turns my stomach). It’s also ingrained into British culture, going to the pub, meeting friends, grabbing something to eat. Weekends away hiking with various pub stops along the way. Drinks after work almost every night. Weekends out to the club, doing shot after shot of tequila. And this would be after a day on the beach drinking beer. And as I got older, cook dinner for friends and bring a bottle. Have a glass of wine when I got in. Once in a while is fine. For me, this was turning into every day around a bottle.

My life revolved around alcohol. When I was manic I wouldn’t eat. I dropped a huge amount of weight and my calorie intake came from booze and my staying power from cigarette after cigarette. I don’t actually know how I held a job down, looking back. I would never have called myself an alcoholic but I was on the slippery slope. I never needed a drink to get through the day but boy did I look forward to the one I could have as a reward for making it through.

What I didn’t realise at the time was the crippling paranoia and anxiety I had the next day was caused by alcohol. I would wake up and not be able to physically move as I was bombarded by all the supposedly hideous things I had done the night before. Wave after wave of self – hatred would hit me, making the anxiety even worse.

It wasn’t till I met DH, who has never had alcohol aside from once and hated it, and moved to a country where alcohol is not so ingrained in the fabric of social life, that I realised I had a bit of an issue. With my dependency on it to have a good time, and not being able to cope the next morning. Between living here and then being pregnant, I don’t think I have had a drink drink for nearly two years. The two times I did I was a walking ball of paranoia the next few days – it didn’t just last one day.

These days, I do enjoy the odd glass of very good red or white wine. I have a weakness for New Zealand red in particular! I do notice that, even after one glass, it makes my mental health problems much worse. I wake up and I cannot breath I am in the grip of such severe anxiety. So is it worth it? For me, not really. It means I can squander those extra calories on something else 🙂

800 Recovery Hub Blog

Social anxiety is the fear of  situations that involve interacting with other people. It is also worrying about being negatively judged and evaluated by others. This disorder is chronic and causes problems in almost all areas of a person’s life.

Since alcohol can reduce stress, it is a quick and easy solution ….

Correct. Occasionally unwinding with alcohol isn’t necessarily dangerous if your doctor approves. The problem is that once you start drinking, you can build a tolerance to the de-stressing effects of alcohol. This

Social Anxiety Association Learn more at the Social Anxiety Association website.

can make anxiety and stress even more difficult to cope with.

According to Healthline: At first, drinking can reduce fears and take your mind off your troubles. It can even help you feel less shy. You might experience a boost in mood, and the overall result is relaxation. In fact, the effects of alcohol can be similar to those of anti-anxiety…

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Every year, between 11-17 May,we help toraise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues.

Sinceour first Mental Health Awareness Week backin 2000 we have helped generate public debates around how anxiety, sleep deprivation and exercise can impact our mental health.This year we’re talking aboutMindfulness.


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A driving playlist – my top 10!

F**k the election, the backward country I come from and a pox on Cameron and his ill-thought-through promise on an EU Referendum that could see me separated from my husband and daughter, not to mention my benefits ending. Tonight I am not going to worry about how to master Dutch in a year when weighted down with this illness so I can get a Dutch passport. Tonight I am going to lose myself in the world of awesome music and, I hope, bring a few of you with me.

In the period of what I can only describe as our online courtship, DH and I swapped top 10 lists on all sorts of things. Who were the top ten hottest guy/girl actors, best films, best TV shows, and of course, best tracks. It was a really fun way to realise how compatiable we were, discover new bands and just have a bit of fun insulting each other (I have an unashamed Britney and KP girl crush whilst he is devoted to 80s power ballads). From all of this came a playlist which to this day we call The Playlist, made from deciding which songs we liked to drive to. It has by far surpassed 10 songs now and could easily see us halfway across to Poland if we played it nonstop.

Indeed, out of all the things in the world that there are to choose from, I do believe that one of the most fun, and sometimes quite tough!, choices are what songs would make your top 10. In just about anything. To ease the agony of indecision, it is fortunate I can make as many top 10 lists as I like and combine them all into one happy, mishmash of music courtesy of Spotify and YouTube.

Music evokes strong emotions and memories I thought hidden, buried for good. It also brings great pleasure, being ridiculously happy, laughter, relaxation and peace. I can rage to it when I’m mad, I can get a bit buzzy to it – and dammit I’m not going to let the bipolar take away that nice music bzzzzz. I love it when YouTube throws up a tune I’d forgotten, and when Spotify takes me to an artist I would never have heard of before and I get to discover them.

But sometimes there are only certain songs, in certain places, that will do. And one of those times is in the car. In fact, there are so many brilliant songs to drive to it pains me to try and make a list which is restricted to just ten songs. But I’ve had a go and I thought it would be fun to share. I am sure there are classics I will have missed and you will remind me of it and I will curse myself for not listing it. I think as well I’m gonna have a top 10 songs to drive to and a separate top 10 albums to drive to.

So please find below my top ten songs to go vroom vroom (and in no particular order because to rank them that way is too hard for me to choose).  I hope it provides entertainment, amusement and a reminder of good times – even with mental illness we can have fun sometimes 🙂

I’d love to hear what all of your top 10 songs to drive to are too – please do let me know!

I begin with some honorable mentions from mine and DH’s playlist – Bryan Adams – Run to You, Bohemian Rhapsody by the wonderful Queen, Dire Straits – Money for Nothing, Tom Petty – Won’t Back Down, pretty much anything by Foreigner, Manic Street Preachers (so nearly made the cut), The Cure, oh so many. There would be 100s more but I think they really do deserve a mention.

1.Through Glass – Stone Sour

I was a late arrival to Stone Sour. I also had my head elsewhere for about ten years so didn’t realise that it was a Slipknot side project. DH changed all that and more when we met. I heard this song on his iTunes for the first time and was in love immediately, not just with him but the band. I also played this song nonstop when I drove to work every day, particularly sitting in traffic which I spent an awful lot of time doing. For the record, if you ever need to go there, avoid the A13 between The Hague and Rotterdam at rush hour, unless you like a view of everyone else going nowhere. But this song always helped 🙂

2. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Metallica

The Black album was a pretty formative one in my teen years. It saw the final transition from indie to full blown metal goddess – or at least how my sixteen year old self positioned herself. Never does this song sound as good as in the car. Unless you’re seeing them live then it’s pretty good too. Fooking love these guys I do. And if you are in a particularly angry mood like I was the other day, even better. Metallica at their very best. Particularly the hair. Not sure Lars could cut

3. We are the People – Empire of the Sun

I just love this group. They also make beautiful videos. In an era where music has truly become bland – thank you to the Minajes and Lil Waynes of this world for blessing us with earache – these guys just exploded with this tune. I heard it and was very wtf I have to hear that again. It was just so different. And on a long cruise from A to Z, there’s nothing better to keep you company than this Aussie duo.

4. West Coast – Lana Del Ray

My daughter was born in a heatwave just as this song came out. I spent so many days and nights of the first few weeks just driving around in the car as that was the coolest place for us to be. Then we’d get DH from work and we’d drive off to some amazing beach on the coast and find a spot for all of us to sit. This song is all about sultry, hot steamy summers to me.

I think Lana Del Ray is awesome. And sexy. And very talented. Why does she get such a hard time and so much abuse? Her songs are from the heart and really hit the spot with me at key points in my life. I nearly put Video Games on but I think this one has better memories attached to it.

5. Tennis Court – Lorde

Love this girl too. This is the same story as Lana’s tune above. And she’s a Kiwi and I have a very big soft spot for that part of the world. I listened to these two songs constantly last year. I loved the feeling that I was driving round exploring with my beautiful baby in the back. I felt so complete. What I love about Lorde’s stuff is that it is different (it is a bit of a theme with my taste in music really). But this has such a different sound. If that makes sense. And it’s good to drive around to as well. I can vouch for that.

6. Pretender – Foo Fighters

There is only one celebrity I would ever get my boobs out for at a festival and that’s Dave Grohl. I may even get my chance at Rock am Ring this year.

Oh oops, sidetracked. Just Foo Fighters. And Dave. Nothing else to be said.

7. My Curse – Killswitch Engage

KSE make beautiful metal. This song is particularly poignant for me. When I was in my darkest place ever, having just left my husband and halfway round the world with no money, no job, no friends, nothing, deep in the grip of a manic episode punctuated with liquid black running through my head and no clue at the time how ill I was, my friends in Europe all sent me songs and bands to listen to, to help me power through till I could get on the plane home. And this band was one.

It was instrumental in helping me rediscover my love of metal music, submerged for years after trying to fit in and be someone I wasn’t. I embraced it with open arms. And when I got home  I played it louuuuuud in the car. M4 back to London I think it was. And they are pretty good live too. If I ever have the courage to share this blog – my friends who introduced me to this band thank you – you know who you are.

8. One Slip – Pink Floyd

The Floyd. I could probably pick any of their songs and it would be appropriate for any self-respecting top 10 list. I have been a fan since my brother drove me home one Christmas just after he passed his driving test and played Division Bell nonstop. I know there’s a lot of fan blahblah about when Roger Waters left but actually I think A Momentary Lapse of Reason stands on its own as a classic. A very 80s sound, but it still sounds so cool. Particularly when you turn this song up full blast and hit the outer lane 🙂

9. Dakota – Stereophonics

Ah man. There are several Stereophonic songs worthy of this list but this has to be the one. This song makes me feel a hot breeze blowing over me whilst zooming along a country road somewhere. All my twentysomething summers rolled into one courtesy of the very incredible Stereophonics. Now, this song I listened to nonstop at a particularly good point in my life. I had just bought my own flat, own car and managed to get my first fundraising job. It was admittedly with the ex but we were mainly living separate lives even back then so I don’t remember the impact so much. I used to take that little car everywhere, this song blaring. I do remember a long, long hot summer, lots of bbqs with friends, and a sense of pride in my abilities. And just having a good time. It was a good few months, that year 🙂

10. Fire – Ferry Corsten

So here’s the thing – a random choice perhaps on a rather guitar-based list. But I love house and trance. And I love running to it. And I really like driving to it. And I couldn’t not have one with a Dutch DJ on could I 😀 and one from Rotterdam no less! I have the longer version on Spotify – actually I do all my dance tracks. I can run for hours (well maybe not right now but it feels like). This song has taken me around many a half-marathon. And taken me to a half-marathon. I will never forget the feeling of excitement I had, like I was proper North when I saw the Angel of the North on they way to the Newcastle Half Marathon. This song was playing at the time. And the proper North thing is a bit odd seeing as I went to university in Bradford which for the majority of the southern half of the country is some wild place beyond the Watford Gap. But this song, along with a whole  host of other dance tracks, took me all over the country.

Thanks for listening and reading 🙂