How are you doing?
It’s been a rough ride hasn’t it? I for one, can’t believe we’re in October and this shitshow is still happening. I mean, as much as I’ve got used to this world pandemic, I also have not got used to it at all and I am beyond fed up. I’m trying to see the positives in it, because for one, I suppose space is what I needed. I really don’t think I would have pushed myself forward on this writing career front if a giant pandemic hadn’t cut me off from my travel plans and given me no option. I get nervous you see? I feel like I’m not good enough, that they’ll be someone better – and so I guess you can blame me as well as China for this pandemic – because I’m pretty sure this virus has been G-d’s way of being like “EMILY – GET OFF YOUR ASS AND WRITE OTHERWISE I’LL CONTINUE PUTTING EVERYTHING ON HOLD” – so you know, sorry.
I also think my travels came to a halt at the right time. I was really homesick in Australia, and I was looking forward to coming home and seeing my family. I knew I needed to go back into therapy – because time away had given me the space to realise that – but time away was also giving me the option to avoid it. Continuing to live abroad and forget you have anything to deal with always seems like a better move then going to therapy and crying about your traumatic unresolved issues which you’ve buried so deep it’s going to need more than a shovel to dig it up. It’s just always simpler and less effort to be on an Australian beach isn’t it, then to work on yourself – but it’s good to do so. I know fully well, if I ever want to feel secure within myself, create a harmonious relationship with someone of value, then that’s going to depend on how much work I do in therapy – so for now, it’s good that I’m not able to return. I don’t want to give up on myself just yet when I feel like I’m finally making progress.
But here I go, chatting away.. This little post is not actually to do with Australia or therapy or traumatic, unresolved issues (phew!) but actually about what I watched on Netflix that made me feel great, or I felt really resonated with me in times of need. Why is this important? Well look, at this present moment in time, I can owe my reasonable state of mental health to endless episodes of Friends that I’ve been watching since BJ aka Boris J told us we were going into lockdown. I eased my worry and frustration watching Ross tell us all he was “FINE” when he was really as fine as I was feeling about the start of this epidemic – which by the way, was not fine. When we’re zoning out on our phones, and news seems bleak and endless, it’s good to watch something that can fill you up with an alluring storyline, fantastic acting and relevant topics. Sometimes, you just need to relax with a gigantic bar of chocolate – Galaxy PR team, this would have been your ideal time to sponsor me with endless, vegan chocolate that I could promote as an #ad here just sayin’.
The same happened with me when I was backpacking. You meet a LOT of great people who you can easily get on with, and then they introduce you to more awesome people, and then you go out and party the night away, or stay in and play cards and it’s all fantastic fun until you reach burn out day and you need time alone. Or more often than not, if it wasn’t just tiredness from being on the go the whole time, I was missing home. And then I had the days I actually felt low – and they were hard and sometimes I didn’t know what to do. It could be as small as leaving a group of great friends behind, alone by myself in a new hostel with people who didn’t bother making an effort chatting to me, and occasionally that made its mark. It was usually okay, I learnt slowly how not to let the actions of certain people affect me – but sometimes in a low mood, I needed to watch films and series that I related to. Sometimes I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, or where I was going and in the wrong mindset that can be stressful – but we know that in the right state of mind, that’s the most free-ing feeling in the world. I began to curate a list of films, documentaries and series that ignited something in my stomach and helped me remember that actually everything was going to be okay. It was, afterall, in those moments of stillness and peace and staying in the moment, that I made the closest friends, experienced the coolest places and had the the most memorable times. Whether you need something light, deep or just easy to watch on the days you don’t want to talk, have a look at the below and get lost in the story.
EAT PRAY LOVE
Yes I know, the book was meant to be better and this is such a ‘cliche’ film to add to the top of my list. Deal with it. It’s actually very good. By mere coincidence, this film played as I flew to Bali three years ago, on my first, mini, international solo trip. I’d lost my grandad and therefore was flying with a grief stricken heart and an absolute fear to be by myself. I watched as Julia Roberts battled with a divorce, moved to Italy to learn the language, flew to India to explore the culture and then ventured to Bali, where she finally let herself experience raw love. The film is based on the true story of Elizabeth Gilbert, who went on a solo expedition to find the true meaning of what life meant for her – and is not too dissimilar to when I moved to Spain to learn Spanish, waltzed off to explore South America, India and South East Asia. So I guess what I’m trying to say is yes, I am Julia Roberts. Don’t hate me cos you ain’t me.
INTO THE WILD
I remember being somewhere in South East Asia, and I felt a little lost. I’d been drinking a lot, up all night partying as you do when you’re in Thailand and having fun – but something was missing. It was great, but I was losing myself a little. The money I’d saved up to explore the country was being spent on endless shots of Tequila, I was waking up exhausted and going at it again the following evening. I was letting people who weren’t actually very nice get inside my head, smashing down my carefully constructed boundaries and in turn this made me feel insecure. Very occasionally, there were points I’d look at people laughing and joking and feel like I just didn’t belong – I can’t explain it. After about four weeks of having a great time, an incident which knocked my confidence was the escape I was looking for and I left the hostel to once again, get off the beaten path. What I found were incredibly kind, Thai people who saw me walking the streets looking for food, and invited me into their homes to cook for me. A lack of tourism during the season meant that the hostel I was staying at was empty – I slept on a mattress on the floor with a fan at night, and when I woke, the hostel owner took me out on his motorbike to explore the surrounding areas. I booked an Airbnb stay with a family the following day at a different location, with a lovely Norwegian man and his Thai wife and children. Their friends took me to local towns I wouldn’t have seen on a tour for sure, explored the local culture and eventually we found a wonderful cafe with some of the most beautiful views I’d ever seen. I digress,but for a reason.
I felt this insanely powerful connection with the protagonist of this film, a young man called Christopher McCandless who becomes increasingly low, depressed and disillusioned with societal expectations, and life in general after finding out he and his sister were born when his father was married to someone else, out of wedlock. Wanting a totally new life, untarnished with materialism, he donates all of his savings to Oxfam, destroys all personal identification and credit cards and adopts the name ‘Alexander Supertramp’, setting off for a new life amongst nature and the wilderness, keeping everything a secret from his parents. The film follows his journey and the people he encounters whose lives he enriches, whilst he continues to hike to Alaska. I won’t spoil the rest, I was hooked on every scene and felt an immediate resemblance with the feeling of disappointment at life. With the hardships I’ve had to endure with a disabled dad, and the need to escape after my Grandad died and my father, I owe my travels the reason I’m stronger than ever before, finding that much needed tranquility whilst on the road with a backpack.
I love Spanish and I found a great way of getting to know the language properly was to watch Spanish films and series. One of my favourite so far is Valeria – but I’ll warn you, it’s not for the faint hearted. Described as the next ‘Sex and the City’, this is probably one of the hottest series I’ve watched – think INDESCRIBABLE sexy as hell, Spanish men (and also very good looking Spanish women if you’re interested), hilarious scenes, failed romances, struggling careers and the challenge of trying to navigate life against the beautiful setting of Spain. Are you sold yet? Valeria follows the lives of four best friends and their varying lifestyles and I found this an incredibly uplifting and funny series to zone out to, sometimes laughing until I cried, and other times crying until I laughed. I just wouldn’t recommend watching it with your Mum – because the amount of BJs in there is a joke – and I’m not talking about the Boris Johnson kind.
This film is entirely dependent on whether you’re in the right country for it to be available on Netflix. If not, you can find the film on another website and stream – using the power of Google search. I have always found Inside Out great on a day I’ve felt low or anxious (or both, because there’s nothing quite like a double whammy is there). It’s an animated film which is both funny and easy to watch, depicting the emotions of ‘Fear’, ‘Anger’, ‘Joy’, ‘Disgust’ and ‘Sadness’ as walking, talking animated figures, which come to life when 11 year old Riley feels them. When Riley moves state with her family, she experiences these emotions at different times, and it’s a clever way of seeing how they combine to make us feel differently, and that in turn made me feel better and less isolated from the world.
And yet ANOTHER film I found some kind of personal connection with – despite the fact I’m not married, probably won’t get married for another 70 years and am not estranged from my father. A high flying executive gets left at the altar and ends up taking her honeymoon with her father who has not been there for her. It’s a feel good comedy, touches on raw emotions and you get to see how their relationship eventually develops. Like I said, I don’t know why I connected with it but it was a great watch. Plus, Sean Rogen is in it, so it’s bound to be a laugh.
I watched this series with a good ol’ German friend – who doesn’t speak to me anymore which is a shame because SEASON 3 IS HERE, so we should totally get together and watch it for old times sake right? So, if you’re reading this MEINE GERMAN FRIEND, how about the next time you visit London, don’t be a silly German willy, get in touch and we grab some popcorn and watch the latest series. If not, because let’s be honest, he’s blocked me for life, I am totally down to watch this again with any of you too! Each episode focuses on different, personal lives and the challenges that come from it, with an all star cast featuring the likes of Orlando Bloom (mmm) to Dave Franco (mmm x 20). From a young couple looking to ignite some fire into their relationship by inviting another woman, to middle aged dating and working out how to keep the sex life alive when you’re married, this series is touching and hilarious at the same time. And in case I haven’t mentioned it? SEASON 3 IS OUT – so I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. Watching married couples work out their sex lives apparantely.
THE LAST SHARMAN
I’d actually added this to my list of films to watch after I finished backpacking South America. I’d met a lot of people who had ventured to Peru to take part in an Ayahuasca ceremony – an ancient, hallucinatory ritual. Some admitted to me about their previous mental health issues and how Ayahuasca is meant to be a transformative experience, others simply wanted to do something incredibly different. I’ve heard mainly positive reviews from this ceremony – although, it involves hallucinations and purging whilst in the hands of a Sharman, and some stories and that’s not for me personally. One fine, dreary day, I was looking up Netflix documentaries that speak openly about mental illness and chanced upon this one. It was fascinating, emotional, scary at times but hopeful, as you learn about James Freeman who was at such a low with his incurable depression that he decided to give life one last shot with Ayahuasca. The results, and his journey afterwards of this plant medicine is nothing short of miraculous. Please be aware that if this is something you ever wanted to consider, you must DO YOUR RESEARCH. I personally wouldn’t take part – I’ve heard horror stories involving death with ‘fake’ Sharmans who simply want your money and tourists who fall for their ploys whilst messing with the hallucinogenic plant – but as always, there are positives and negative stories. Always be careful.
HOW TO GET OVER A BREAKUP
What’s this I hear? You’ve gone through a breakup? You want to practise some Spanish? You want an easy, funny, uplifting film in a different language with English subtitles focusing on how you can rise above it? Something relatable? Well GOOD THING YOU CAME TO MY PAGE. You’ll be happy to know ‘How to get over a breakup’ does just that. Whilst living broken-hearted in Peru, a copywriter writes a blog about her life as a single woman – and it blows UP. I watched this when I was sad, because hey I’d just got broken up with – and it was great fun. Give it a try!
Well there’s my complete random round-up of films, documentaries and series that cheered me up in different ways when I was down in the dumps. Whether you’re at home, or still managing to travel amidst this pandemic, choose one on the list and let me know what you think! Also, if you’ve got any Netflix recommendations PLEASE let me know – I’ve got into the habit of watching way too much Friends and my brain needs a break…but were they on a break?