Lying on my über-comfortable sunbed, kindle lying nearby, music playing through my iPod, sun shining down on me and surrounded by nothing except trees, grass, blue sky and singing birds, I thought right now was the perfect time to write a blog.

This afternoon I've been reading Katie Piper's second book, published in May 2012, four years after her acid attack. This book is called Things Get Better. I was expecting it to be a follow-up account of her recovery but it is a book about positivity.

The chapter titles are as follows:
1: Hitting rock bottom
2: Be a survivor, not a victim
3: Counting your blessings
4: Faith, belief and trust
5: Embrace the power of positivity
6: Facing your fears and phobias
7: Taking healthy risks
8: Laughing through the pain
9: Letting go and allowing yourself to move forward
10: Forgive and be kind
11: Goal setting
12: Believe in yourself
13: Leading a purposeful life: find meaning in all that you do
14: Getting help
15: Setbacks and plateaus
16: Getting stronger - and staying stronger

Just by reading the chapter titles, you can be sure that this book will be helpful, reassuring and positive, whatever your little (or big) problem(s) may be. If you are lucky enough to have no problems in your life, it's still worth reading. Just being reminded of little things like counting your blessings, taking nothing for granted and being kind is always a good thing.
Reading this book, most people will be able to relate it to something individual to them. As I'm reading it, I'm relating it to something I've been battling with for a year now... depression, which hit me suddenly and with no real explanation.
I was ashamed of it, for a time, but I'm not anymore. Mental illnesses aren't anything to be ashamed of. They're medical conditions. They can't always necessarily be avoided but they can be resolved, even if it takes years.

Whether you suffer from a mental health issue, or a physical illness, have lost something or someone or even just wake up sometimes to find that you don't really feel okay... There are ways to carry on, and carry on with a smile.

I won't try and give advice here because I'm not the right person to do so, but reading Katie's book made me think of the things that help me when I'm struggling. These things have also helped me the past week and a half with recovery from my surgery.

1) Love. I believe in love. Endless different types of love, but love all the same. Love for people: friends, family, even people you don't know very well. Love is such a powerful force present in this world and it is remarkable as a healing tool. My friends, family and (now ex) teachers really help. Not all the time... Sometimes it seems like nobody can help a situation, but most of the time. Just that little bit of love is a fabulous medicine.

2) Nature. I believe in nature too. That sounds ridiculous because we all know that nature exists as fact. But believing in nature in terms of how the sound of the sea or the sound of leaves rustling or the intricacy of a flower can blow my mind. Studying biology A-level has really made me admire nature... how clever it all is. How everything just works. And I often find myself being astounded just by looking out my window, how nature can make me feel peaceful and grateful.

3) Positivity. Something I'm not always good at seeking out. Too many days to count, I have struggled to see any point in facing the day. Everything was black, sad, empty. Reading Katie's book is already helping me understand positivity more and making me feel able to put it into practice as much as I possibly can. Changing 'can't's into 'can's and 'won't's into 'will's... Telling yourself that 'today might not be a good day, I don't feel happy today, but a good day will come and I will be okay soon'. Freeing yourself from negativity: negative people, negative thoughts, negative words and absorbing positivity, even if you don't quite believe it at the time, will really help.

One thing I've been inspired to do after reading the book is to make a list, at the end of each day, of the things that made me happy that day. Little things, bigger things, anything that I can feel grateful for. I know this idea has recently emerged in the world of social media with the 100 Happy Days Challenge. I started this on Instagram in April, posting a photo of something that made me happy each day but after 20 days, amongst revision and struggling with my mental health, I found that I couldn't find anything in my day that made me happy so I stopped doing the challenge. I should have tried harder... I would have been able to do it.
So, I've started it again, using the 'My Wonderful Days' app on my phone. I have confidence that my mindset will change to a healthier, happier one by doing this and putting in the effort to seek out the good things in life.

It's been a mere 12 days since my operation now and my recovery has amazed me. I've been able to eat pizza, curry & poppadoms, doughnuts, chocolate, bbq pringles... All those unhealthy things to try and re-gain the weight I've lost. Tomorrow I'm going to Jersey for the day with Sara which we booked about two months ago. This time last week, I didn't think I'd be able to go but my face is pretty much back to normal, my eating abilities have improved dramatically and I feel myself again. Already.

So those are some positives I can thing of right now. The other things on today's list are:
• phone call with my best friend
• starting Katie's second book
• lying in this gorgeous weather
• eating mum's delicious apple pie

Go ahead and write down some things that made you happy today. Try it every day. Let's see what wonderful things it can do.

Namaste x