Nowhere // Now Here: An Update

Two years ago, I returned home from work to my ancient, dust-ridden Japanese apartment. I shuffled out of my shoes and dropped my bags on the floor, & stepped out of the genkan into my kitchen. In front of me was the table. It was a good-sized rectangular dining table, pressed against the wall between the doors to my tatami rooms. It had a pale yellow cloth on it, which was always slipping. The left-hand side was occupied by my toaster oven, bought soon after I moved in in haste to experiment with baking Kit Kats. The right-hand side was covered by paper. At the bottom of the pile were important documents – payslips, city registration forms, the earthquake safety leaflet I never got around to filling out. The rest was all stories.

Amelia Starling Sanrio notepads

Half-finished journal entries, scribbled on post-it notes when I didn’t have my actual journal with me but needed to write. Torn pages with novel notes, story ideas, and snippets of song lyrics. Thin B5 notepads adorned with Sanrio characters, all full of garbled English and Japanese poetry, folktales, and musings about how the ocean looked whenever I sat beside it. Ink smudges, where I’d cried unexpectedly, when I hadn’t realised how upset I was until I’d picked up a pen and everything had come out. When I’d written about missing my family, and the wind running away from me, and things I’d lost. My stories, from both my life and my imagination, scattered.

I looked at them. For the first time in a while, I smiled for myself. It was like looking in a mirror, and reminding myself that I still existed. That after so much wondering who and where I was and should be, I finally got it.

“Words,” I said. “Words are my home.”

Here I am

Today I am writing this blog post whilst sitting on the floor of my room in Scotland. I am still surrounded by scattered paper. This time it’s on my yoga mat, which is annoying because I really want to stretch, but the squishy foam is so comfortable to spread my work out & flop onto.

I’ve moved around a lot over the past few years. Even before Japan, when I had papers all over the walls of my childhood bedroom, and in folders and on desks of various student houses in Winchester. I’ve loved and left many homes, and sometimes my heart feels heavy from it all. It took everything I had left to uproot myself and get here, to this grey city by the sea which sparkles in the sunlight and the rain. And I’m glad I did, because it is definitely the right place for me for now.

Amelia Starling

I’ve been thinking recently about where home is. Can I call this place home yet? When I am so happy here already, but have so little claim to it and it’s just another city on my list? And what is home, anyway? I always say it’s where you love, not where you live. But I’ve said ‘I’m home’ so many times in so many different houses and apartments, and it was true of all of them at the time. Now when I travel and people ask me where I’m from I say ‘Aberdeen’ because that’s where my journeys begin these days, but it’s not where I’m really from. And if they’d asked me a few years ago they would have received a different answer…

I look back at the papers on my yoga mat. Assignment drafts. Poems. Field notes. Journal scraps. I remember my Japanese kitchen table. I smile.

Over the years, I have changed. The Willow Web has changed with me, and doubtless we will change again. I’m not the same person I was in the past, and I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to grow and become who I am now. Writing has always been the one constant thing, which I’ve been able to take everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I am, so long as I have a notepad and pen in my hands.

Amelia Starling polaroids

The past year or so has been difficult. I’ve been shy, and scared. I don’t like to say much about my personal life online, so I’ve hidden my words away; kept them for myself, in these messy piles. I’ve felt ashamed to call myself a writer, because I have so little credentials to show for it. It’s time to change that. I’m working on getting my words off of those pages and into the world, so they can find their own homes.

So far…

I have kept a journal for over a decade, and have started sharing snippets from them on here and on Twitter with the hashtag #ameliajournals. I may eventually post some longer excerpts, if I find some which I’d like to share. These are just for fun, and to remind me of all the madness which led me to where I am now. Hopefully they make you smile, or ponder something you might not have done before.

Recently I have also been writing quite a bit of poetry, which is a surprise. Not sure how that happened, but it keeps happening and I like it so I will continue to post my poems on here, too.

Stories will appear as and when they are finished and/or edited. I have so many stories to share, from so many places. Brave, withering stories, as much a part of me as my own skin. Some which I wrote to heal myself, or change things I cannot in real life, some just for fun. Maybe readers will never tell the difference. There are also new stories, beginning here, now. About the North Sea, and rowan berries, and feeling lost and found.

I will be keeping some stories back to use as parts of bigger projects or to submit to other places. I’d also like to put together some collections of stories and poems in booklets, too. Probably PDF or some other digital format to begin with, but hopefully some physical ones as well eventually.

Amelia Starling journals

Support Me

Thank you for staying with me. Over the years I’ve watched my followers grow, and it’s been a pleasure to meet so many lovely people and learn from and be inspired by them. I am so thankful for all the friends which writing, blogging, and folklore have brought into my life. You are what reminds me to not give up, and that what I’m doing is worth it.

If you like my writing, then there are a few things you can do to help…

  • Follow me on Twitter @amyelize. This is the only public social media I use for writing and folklore-related things.
  • If you like my posts, please share them. I don’t mind how. Retweet, or share on other social media, or print them off & send them with a carrier pigeon to your faraway grandma in the forest (she’s a witch too, you know. She needs words to help her spell!)
  • Follow The Willow Web, either on WordPress or via email by filling in the box on the right-hand side.
  • If you have any feedback or comments, feel free to tweet or email me. I have disabled comments for old posts because of spam, and also because I am editing and adding to them. So please don’t let that deter you from getting in touch. I love chatting, and have met some beautiful people through the magic of the internet. Long may it continue!
  • I have also set up a Ko-fi page. No pressure, but if you like my writing, or find any of my articles useful, and you can donate something, I would be very grateful.

That’s all for now. On I go…

Love, light, & all brightest blessings ♥



Meinichi: Remembering and Loving, Forever

August 26th. From 2009 onwards, I am able to tell you what I was doing on this day every year. Every summer, for those twenty-four hours, I’m sixteen again and wondering how life can be so cruel.

In my hometown, the summer after high school is all about exam results, first jobs in beach shops, firework displays, and long walks home by the sea because you missed the last bus. Usual teenage stuff. What’s not on the list is to lose one of your close friends forever.

‘Cancer.’ Only six letters. Two syllables. Just another word in the English language, nothing more. But that is enough to destroy. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what Cancer was. I knew it was an illness and that it could be fatal, but I didn’t know what causes it or how it is treated. And why should I have known? I was young and healthy, and no-one I knew had been chronically ill before. It wasn’t part of my world. When Laura was diagnosed, I just assumed she would get better. Okay, it might take a long time, and she would have to go to hospital a lot so I wouldn’t see her in school as often, but then eventually she would be okay and things would return to normal.

I sent her letters, and messages on Bebo with pixelated hearts. We talked about all the things we would do when she recovered – sleepovers, day trips to London, and what colleges we wanted to go to. This Cancer business was just a blip; a mark on the present which would soon go away.

When I got the phone call, I didn’t answer it because it was a private number. Laura’s mum left a message and asked my mum to call her back. I thought that was strange, but didn’t worry too much. Parents talk to each other all the time, right? So I gave mum my phone and went back to Photoshopping pictures for dA and singing along to anime soundtracks. Then I got the second call to come downstairs.

When mum told me the news, I didn’t know how to respond. Is there even a correct way? I didn’t cry, or say anything. I just stood there in the kitchen, trying to make sense of what I had heard. Mum hugged me, and was stroking my back and saying ‘oh darling, it’s okay’ but it never is, is it? I think I was in shock. Mum told me I didn’t have to go to work that evening, that I should stay home and give myself ‘time.’ But I felt okay. I felt nothing. If I stayed at home, what good would that do? The shop was busy, & my colleagues needed me. So off I went.

Two hours later, it hit me. I locked myself in the staff toilets, then curled up on the floor and cried.

Melted candle

Six Augusts have passed since then. For every one, I have lit a candle for Laura and sat for a few moments to remember her, and tell the universe how much I love and miss her. For this seventh year, I’m in Japan. Here, death anniversaries are called ‘meinichi,’ which literally translates as ‘life date.’ It is customary to mark meinichi by visiting graves, temples, or shrines to pray and burn incense for the deceased. Shinto shrines are some of the most serene, inviting places I have ever come across, so finding one to do my annual reflection seemed like a wonderful idea.

At the weekend I was visiting Okayama, a calm, peach-filled city in southern Japan. I had a bike and a fabulous tour guide, who led me to Munetada Shrine. The entrance was on a bustling main road, but inside the peace I’ve come to associate with shrines was there nonetheless. I’m sure that torii gates are portals, because every time I pass through one it’s as though the outside world ceases to exist. Even the sticky summer heat seemed to relent.

Munetada Shrine Okayama
Torii gate at the entrance of Munetada Shrine. Image my own.

Firstly, I went to the fountain and performed the cleansing ritual, tearai, which involves using a small bowl on a stick to wash your hands and face. From there, walked to the front of the shrine and tossed a coin into the donation box. Then I shook the rope to ring the bell, bowed twice and clapped twice to greet the deities, then sent them my thoughts. Please, send my best wishes to Laura. Let her know that I’m thinking of her still. Carry my love to her.

Munetada Shrine Okayama
The fountain with the wash bowls at Munetada Shrine. Image my own.

Another bow, and then I sat on a bench beneath a tree. I remembered her smile, and us singing to Hannah Montana songs. It struck me how much things change. Exactly seven years ago, I was just out of high school and unsure of my future. In the time since then, I’ve been through college, university, and moved to a foreign country. Before I moved, I met up with most of my other friends from high school; renewing bonds after years of growth and change. They’re all doing their own amazing things – studying, working, travelling. Some even have children of their own. We’re all women now, twenty-somethings taking on the world. But Laura will always be sixteen. I couldn’t help wondering what she would be doing, if she were still here. What would the last seven years have given her? Maybe we would also have sat in Starbucks, exchanging gossip over fruit coolers and Nutella cookies, before I boarded my plane.

Munetada Shrine Okayama
Donation box and bell ropes. Image my own.

Because of Laura, I have learned to not to be complacent, to be wary of any and all illnesses, and to live life to the full regardless. There are so many things she never got the chance to do, but in a way, we’re all doing them for her. I know I’m not the only one of my high school friends who keeps memories of her close by.

I don’t know where I’ll be for Laura’s future meinichis, but I know for certain that I will continue to mark them somehow for the rest of my life. Remembering her is an integral part of my summer. Maybe, if I have children, when I’m gone too each August 26th they will light a candle and say ‘mum used to do this every year. It’s a tradition.’ And so, like that we remember and are remembered. With flames and thoughts, bells and bows, and most importantly, with love.

Laura with her poodle, London

Goodnight, Goodbye: Why I’m Travelling Thousands of Miles for a Band

A couple of months ago, I phoned my mum to tell her I’m going away just before for Christmas. The first thing she asked was “where are you going?” When I replied with “Chicago,” she knew. There could only be one reason for me to go to Chicago in December. She started listing reasons why this is a bad idea, and I could see her points. Yes, it’s very irresponsible and spontaneous. Yes, I might be ill from the exertion of such a big trip, and yes I hate flying. No, I don’t have a lot of money. I know it’s already snowing in Chicago right now, so there is a chance our flight home may be delayed. Sorry, but I’ll have to see grandma and my niece and nephew for new year instead of Christmas.

But despite her reservations, mum gave me her blessing. Because she knows what this trip means to me.


When I was 15, I discovered a band called Kill Hannah. One of my friends sent me Crazy Angel, and I hated it. But I was feeling adventurous with music at the time, so I looked them up on YouTube and found Lips Like Morphine. I liked that one, and burned it to a CD to play in mum’s car. She liked it, too.

‘All the nights when I was scared, and when it got too weird, it was the songs that saved me’

A few weeks later, I found Scream. I don’t know what it is about this song, but I became obsessed with it. I played it in the car as well. Mum and I turned it up loud and sang. I knew that I had to listen to this band more, and so I bought my first Kill Hannah CD: Until There’s Nothing Left of Us. I imported the American version, because the UK one did not include Scream. That album went in a car as well, on repeat for weeks. I scrawled its lyrics over all my journals.

Some of my journals from the past few years. There’s some Kill Hannah in every one.


At 16, my life changed in several ways. By the end of the year, I felt like I had been hollowed out and didn’t know what to fill myself back up with. During this year, Kill Hannah released their third studio album, Wake Up the Sleepers. This joined all their other music to become my soundtrack. Kill Hannah were there when I left high school, they kept me feeling cheerful through a summer spent working nights in a gift shop, and they were there when fate stepped in and did the last thing I expected by taking one of my friends away. She was one of the strongest, brightest people I have ever known, and the thought that I would lose her had never once crossed my mind until it happened. That night, I cried through my shift as I served customers then went home and buried myself under my duvet with my iPod.

I started sixth form the day after her funeral as a sad, anxious mess. Kill Hannah were there then, too. Keeping me awake at 7am when I got the bus each morning. Keeping me sane through the times when I just couldn’t stop crying, when I couldn’t sleep, and when I pulled all-nighters to finish essays. Wake Up the Sleepers went in the car, too. On shopping trips, when I missed the bus and needed a lift, on spontaneous drives along the coast road.

‘Let’s slow dance to our own heartbeats’

Kill Hannah: 2010 tour poster


In 2010, I went to my first Kill Hannah show. When I saw them announce a UK tour, I had to go. My older brother made this possible by offering to drive me and a friend to Birmingham and back. From my hometown, it’s a 6 hour round trip. I will never stop being grateful to my brother for volunteering for that journey! We plied him with food and petrol money and off we went.

We queued outside the venue for two hours. Despite being May, it was freezing. We had no coats, because we are hardcore gig-goers. 

Lead singer, Mat Devine, wore feathers on his head, and Doc Martens. And he held a panda, because why not.

They played Scream. I screamed. Then a crowd surfer went past and kicked me in the head. It was awesome. They also played a cover of Just Like Heaven by The Cure, a song I didn’t know at the time but I will never forget the atmosphere when that acoustic guitar music began.

I bought American Jet Set from the merchandise stall. It went in the car on the way home. We didn’t get back until 3am.

‘And I’m not running anymore, I’ll stand and face it all, I’ll fight for every breath until there’s nothing left of us’

After Birmingham, I joined Kill Hannah’s street team, the Kill Hannah Kollective. I logged on to their website, and instantly received messages from other members. These messages quickly grew into friendships. For the first time in my life, I was part of something. I was astonished how so many people from all over the world had come together just because of a band, and how much love and support we were able to give each other. Apart from a group to promote Kill Hannah, we are a support network, a little corner of the internet where no-one is ever alone. The KHK never give up on anything, ever. When things got tough, I repeated that to myself. Although small, the KHK are an army. I received a KHK wristband in the post as a gift from one of the Generals (yes, we had military rankings! I was the Lt. Colonel for UK East) in 2011 and never took it off. I’m still wearing it now.

This video for the song Home was made by a KHK member, and it says so much more about the strength of the KHK than I ever could. Also, the last clip? That’s me!

I also started reading the lead singer, Mat Devine’s, blog, the Raccoon Society. Not all the posts are live anymore, but it was a community where you could write in and chat to other people and Mat would answer questions and give advice. I loved his style of writing, and how he was able to help so many people. It inspired me to start blogging, in the hope that maybe I could someday do the same. Recently, Mat published a book called Weird War One: The Antiheroes Guide to Surviving Everyday Life which has the best of the Raccoon Society in it. If you’re looking for something to cheer you up, sort you out, and make you smile, then go ahead and read it. You’re not the only lonely heart out there.

I bought For Never and Ever, their first studio album, from eBay. It went in the car. On Christmas day in 2010, mum and I played New Heart for Christmas. By now I knew about New Heart, the Christmas gig Kill Hannah do every year at the Metro in Chicago. I was desperate to go, but when you’re 17, have little money, no confidence, and have never travelled alone before, just going to the next town is a big enough deal never mind a whole other continent. But I consoled myself with the thought that one day I would be able to make it. I put it on my bucket list.

New Heart 9 at Chicago Metro, 2012

‘It looked like the perfect day, in photos we were smiling’

In 2012, I returned to Birmingham to attend another Kill Hannah show (this time driven by my parents, who then drove straight to London afterwards and booked into a travel lodge so I could go to the show in Islington the following night. More eternal gratitude!) This time, I got to meet my online friends and together we paraded through the streets with a banner. I remember how we each held the edge as we walked, so the design could be seen by all. We wanted everyone to know who Kill Hannah were, and what we stood for. I held my head up and smiled at onlookers, fearless, unbreakable.

Kill Hannah, the KHK, a toga banner, and a lot of Skittles. Birmingham 2012.

Before the show, I got to attend a meet and greet. Pretty much all I remember of this is giggling and my brain going ‘rhgfuigsj dh wdh dkjdhbkjsx’ because I was meeting this band, these people who had produced this music that had become such a huge part of my life. I remember giving Mat a paper raccoon, and lots of Skittles. Then we had group photos, before we were whisked away to queue for the show. We got spots at the barrier, and the sound of our combined voices singing Nerve Gas was enchanting.

I bought The Beauty in Sinking Ships and The Curse of Kill Hannah afterwards. They went in the car on our late night drive.

In Islington, I attended their sound check and felt all tingly when they played Hummingbirds the Size of Bullets. Such beautiful, allegorical lyrics. That concert was one of the best nights of my life. Mum got to go, too. And we managed to drag dad along, even though it really wasn’t his thing! We stood at the back and danced, before I reclaimed my spot at the barrier with the KHK.

Sound check in Islington, London 2012

Later in 2012, I started university. On my last night in my hometown, I sat on the beach with my dog wearing my brand new purple Doc Martens. I took a photo, and captioned it with a Kill Hannah song.

Kill Hannah Last Night Here
Last Night Here

Kill Hannah were played when my new housemates and I made dinner. They went on my wall when my American friend sent me a signed poster from New Heart. When I moved house and was afraid to sleep in a strange, dark room, I put their songs on shuffle beside my new bed.

‘Universe, wrap your arms around me. Make me strong, so I can take on anyone.’ Lyrics from Why I Have my Grandma’s Sad Eyes

‘Be my love, and race the dream together’

Also at university, I met someone. He had never heard of Kill Hannah, and as you can imagine I soon changed that. I lent him all my CDs, and he fell in love with their music at the same time as he fell in love with me.

When I saw the announcement for this year’s New Heart, I figured it was no big deal. It was just like any other year – again I didn’t have to means to go, but perhaps next year I could when I’d found a job and some stability. Then I saw it said ‘final show,’ and the last 7 years of my life crashed in on me. All those moments, memories, and lyrics. All that time daydreaming and thinking ‘one day.’ The thought that I wouldn’t ever be at New Heart made me feel ill. Even more, that my partner and I would never get to see them together, I’d never get to be with my American KHK friends, and that I wouldn’t get to say goodbye.

My partner took one look at me said ‘we’re booking a flight.’ And then we did. And this is one of the most insane things I have ever done. ‘You’re going all that way just to see a band?’ people keep asking. Yes, yes I am. But not just a band. I’m going because teenage Amelia needs to. The dream of attending New Heart kept her sane, and I can’t rip that away from her. I’m going for my partner, so he can see them and we can sing to Crazy Angel together. It’s one of my favourites now. Also, I get to visit a new place and talk to online friends in the flesh instead of through a screen for the first time. Two of the most important things to me are travelling and people to travel with. Because of Kill Hannah, I have both of those. This is about so much more than music.



I’m not going to get all dramatic and be like ‘this band saved my life.’ Maybe when I was a teenage emo kid I would have said that, but now I just want to say thank you. Kill Hannah gave me a purpose, an escape route when I had nothing. Without them, life would have been harder, and I would have missed out so many wonderful experiences.

‘Stick to the dream and don’t ever give in, even when you’ve got nothing to lose and no way to win’

Saying goodbye to Kill Hannah will be saying goodbye to a big part of my life. But I still have their music, and I am sure that no matter what I end up doing it will be a part of my future. Even after the band have gone, I can’t stop being KHK. We’ll fight for our dreams, until there’s nothing left of us.

(WUTS tour poster from Midlands Rocks, New Heart image from Alex Savage, Kill Hannah image from Metro Lyrics)

Writing With Trichotillomania

Image you’re doing something you love. A project, hobby, reading a book, playing a game, anything. But then there’s something in your eye. Or, you think there is. Your hand automatically tries to remove it, prodding around in the sticky tear duct. You blink and find that it’s gone. But you can’t move your hand away. Your brain screams ‘no! no! no!’ But you can’t hear it. You stand up, pace the room, hands shaking. Tell yourself to calm down, that everything is fine, that you’re strong, and you can beat this. Sometimes you do.

The other times…

The merciless desire to grab your hair becomes uncontrollable. You have no choice. Just one. One won’t make a difference. The sharp tug and twinge of pain is satisfying. The eyelash falls to the ground. You don’t make a wish on it; you spent your allowance many years ago. You watch it land and feel better, but now there’s another. Next to the space created by one you pulled out. It feels odd now; exposed. Two won’t make a difference… Oh, oops. You missed it, got a different one instead. Better try again…

A rare kind of selfie. Image my own.

Later, you drag yourself over to a mirror and force yourself to look at the damage. The ugly, swollen gap on your eyelid. Feeling that you’re a disappointment, and that everyone will notice and think so as well. You look back at the thing you were doing and don’t have the courage to carry on, in case another attack comes. What once brought you joy, now you hate. You’re a failure. You feel sick. And you know that tomorrow you will have to steel yourself to face this same fight.

This is my reality.

I have a compulsive behaviour disorder known as Trichotillomania. I’ve struggled with it for as long as I can remember; hair pulling is just something I’ve always done. I don’t know when or why it started happening. I didn’t even discover the name ‘Trichotillomania’ until I was 17. When I was a child, my parents didn’t think of it as anything more than a habit I would grow out of. As a teenager, I grew weary of everyone telling me to ‘just stop it!’ or ‘you really need to grow some eyelashes’ as though lacking them was an immense flaw in my character. Like I needed them to be normal and accepted. No-one, myself included, understood why I pulled my hair out in the first place and why I couldn’t stop doing it. Reaching my wit’s end and turning to Google, it didn’t take me long to discover that I wasn’t alone and that I had an genuine medical condition. I burst into tears of relief. I wasn’t a freak. I wasn’t the only person in the world who suffered like this. I could FINALLY give people a reason. There wasn’t anything wrong with me, I just had Trichotillomania.

Artwork by Sharp Pencil Studio, for the Trichotillomania awareness campaign HelpMe2Stop.

The liberation which came with learning this improved my confidence. I began to talk more about my hair pulling, and slowly become less ashamed of it. Even so, many people still didn’t understand it. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to recognise situations which may trigger an attack. I can go for days, sometimes weeks, without pulling, as opposed to when I was younger and would pull every day. But the urge always returns eventually, and all the progress I’ve made can be destroyed in an instant. I’ve accepted that I will never be free of it. Trich is so integral to my life, I can almost get defensive about it. I hate it, but at the same time, it’s a defining part of who I am. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have hair pulling attacks.

Of course I was bullied at school. Other kids would ask me why I didn’t have eyelashes, and I’d shrug and pretend I didn’t know. If they caught me pulling they would laugh and whisper behind my back. One time in class I heard a boy behind me murmuring to a new pupil about the girl over there who pulls out her own hair. The new guy sneered in disbelief, but then later on he saw the evidence. Another face watching me like I was a circus attraction. Those bullies used to upset me, but now I pity them. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so narrow-minded. To not even think to ask someone if they’re okay, to just automatically decide to taunt them because they’re different.

Trichotillomania notebook
Messages I write to myself on the inside covers of my notebooks. Image my own.

When writing, if I pause I’m always courting an imminent attack. Sometimes Trich makes me feel worthless, like I’m never going to get anywhere because I physically do anything. By its very nature, Trichotillomania erodes your self confidence. Its makes you believe you’re ugly and that no-one will want you. On bad days, I find myself avoiding peoples’ eyes during conversations for fear that they will notice. I can’t bear to look into someone else’s eyes, because then I can see them seeing me. But I love writing, and I will keep fighting for it no matter how many times I lose. Eyelashes are now my currency. They’re the price I pay for each article I complete, all the positive feedback I get on this blog, and all the stories I tell. All of those things are worth the cost. At university, I steeled myself enough to walk into seminars after Trich-y days and share my work with my classmates. None of them laughed or judged me—they just wanted to see what I had brought to workshop! Those wonderful people taught me that what I have to say, my words I continue to write, are more important than how much hair I have. Every. Single. Time.

Another note. Image my own.

If you have just discovered Trichotillomania, then I’m going to ask you a favour. If you notice someone you know pulling out their hair, go up to them. Speak kind words. Ask them how they are. Compliment them. There is enough pain in this world. We do not need to create more by judging each other, or feeding the misery our own minds can already give us.

If you also have Trichotillomania, then fair greetings to you, my fellow comrade. Look in the mirror. Smile. Write ‘don’t pull!’ on your hand every morning to remind yourself. Be brave. Keep fighting. Keep being you.