Discussion: What it feels like to have significant “fatigue” rather than just being “tired”

The medical term for tiredness is “Fatigue”. It covers basically any word that could be used to describe tiredness – from exhaustion, lethargy, and listlessness, ect. It covers both physical and mental tiredness. Often both impending into each other, if a person experiences physical tiredness for long enough, it will often create a mental tiredness too.

Many of us will suffer at some point, generally, with tiredness. A fatigue. Some people, unfortunately, with chronic fatigue. Statistically, globally about 10% of the whole population suffer from insane fatigue.

But I propose a difference needs to be made.

As someone who is now trying to learn all the correct medical, difficult to say & spell latin terms, for certain presenting signs and symptoms a person may experience; and as someone who is constantly, endlessly feeling run down fatigued, I now believe that there should be a huge difference between the definition that describes tiredness and fatigue. That tiredness should be tiredness, and fatigue should mean extreme tiredness.

I remember ‘just’ tiredness well. It’s like an old friend, a recent distance memory. Tired to me meant that when you woke up after 8+ hours sleep, you would feel somewhat refreshed. Ready to go! Tiredness means that when you yawn, you know you can continue on, perhaps slower than before but you can continue. Tiredness means even though you want to go to bed, you can still do your tasks. There’s a reserve there. Just like when your car’s low gas warning light comes on. You know you have a good few miles before you really need to get gas. That’s tiredness, you can keep on going, regardless.

Fatigue is a different ball game. Fatigue almost ruins your quality of  life. And it’s confusing as hell.

Many of my patients going through cancer treatments complain of tiredness, fatigue. They talk about it in past tenses; “I used to be able to walk Adrain’s wall, now the thought of walking any distance is overwhelming.”

The thing is, I can totally relate to that feeling of overwhelming fatigue. If you try and explain it to someone who is lucky enough to never experience this extreme tiredness, fatigue, they think it’s the same as normal tiredness. And it’s not. A lot of people actually think it’s a mind over matter thing, that you could probably feel less tired if you wanted to, and it’s really not.

What makes it more difficult in us being able to define levels of fatigue is that it can’t really be scientifically or chemically measured. And if medical science has taught me anything, it seems that we’re pretty much all about evidenced based practice in chemical numbers, rather than patient-centered-based-evidence in emotions, experience and feelings.

The thing is, there seems to be very little in combating extreme fatigue. Normal tiredness, you can sleep and more often than not feel better and re-energized afterwards. No amount of sleep relieves you of the tiredness in extreme fatigue. Extreme fatigue makes you feel like you’re being slowly poisoned, that someone is pushing your head down below water. That if you were a Windows PC, you would run like you were full of firmware & viruses; frustratingly slow and lagging, delayed in every thought and movement.

I think I’ve read a lot of research papers, and looked at and tried A LOT of things that are supposed to help with fatigue.  I knew I had problems when I started considering illegally trying to get a hold of some Adderall RX as one of the side-effects is feeling energized and less tired & concentration. I didn’t, mainly because of the apparently addictive qualities. I can’t be doing with that. But I would literally do anything just to get back to my old energy levels, or even just close to them.

The advise we offer during in clinical to our patients is, if you can do some light exercise, do it.  It’s the same advice in chronic fatigue, to keep active rather than let the fatigue consume you. This is tricky business though. The fatigue has already consumed you. Do too much, and you can end up setting yourself up for a weighty fall. Do too little, it doesn’t contribute all that much. And of course, the actual act of getting up and doing it sometimes seems more of a work-out than anyone would know.

I invested in sleeping apps to analyse my sleep. On  those lucky relatively painless, night-sweat-less nights I’m literally dead in my sleep. I sleep like a good baby. So I know I sleep well.

I’ve seen 3 different “healers”. I’ve done the whole positive thinking, in denial, ignorance, rest, unrelentless bed rest, routines, sleep. I’ve had Raki. Tried massage. Tried Physiotherapy (until he told me he wanted me to be re-evaluated). I’ve done some yoga. I’ve bought so many fitness & health apps, you wouldn’t believe.  I bought a Nike+ Fuel Band to motivate me to do more exercise, like running. I joined row-fit & hurt my shoulder even more. I try and ride my bike anywhere I can. All of this is hard because running up 2 flight of stairs makes me out for the count.  I changed my diet to include even more veg and fruit. I dropped soda (most of the time) and swapped it for tea. I picked up a specially imported Yerba Mate Tea for the caffeine. I tried multi-vitamins that changed my bowel habits, and energy drinks that just ended up making me sick. I even pretended to be a smoothie maker business to be able to buy 45 packets of frozen puree Acai Berry because in the UK you can’t buy it ANYWHERE. Just in watered down juice form and power and capsules. Apparently Acai Berries are a super fruit that has so many amazing qualities in them to make you feel healthier. There are other things I can’t even remember that I’ve tried. Most of them were in the USA because those dudes are craaazzzyyy over there with their alternative medicines!

And after all of this. I still feel like shit. I can’t even begin to think about all of the money and time I have wasted chasing all of these things, hoping and wishing that it would be the thing that would eventually work. I wish I could tell you that some of this made a difference. And perhaps I am being a lil’ too hasty here. I do feel a bit of an energy improvement after I’ve exercised, but it decreases fast soon after those hormones have disappeared, and the crash is sudden and very real.

I go to bed tired.

Wake up in the middle of the night, tired.

Wake up in the morning, tired.

And I feel wussy talking about it, because what’s the big deal about being tired? Except when it lasts days, weeks, MONTHS. When it makes it hard to motivate myself to do anything, when I can’t work, can’t function, and can’t ever not feel tired. But writing this always feels therapeutic.

So, this is why I think it’s important that we understand that there are core differences between being tired, and being significantly fatigued.  And that we need to assess just how it affects others lives.  I know when my patients say to me, “I’ve been feeling so tired, so fatigued.” They’re saying to me that they just don’t feel like themselves. I get it.

And that’s what real fatigue does to you. It makes you question everything you was, and why you can’t be that person any more – the person who could multitask until 3am and get up in the morning and be totally cool about it. My old normal life is running current me into the ground.

And it’s not depression either. Because you’re not unhappy. You don’t feel sad. You just feel ridiculously tired. And when that fatigue really hits, you can’t even muster a word. You almost have to crawl home because you have no reserves left, you just have nothing left to give. And This is no exaggeration.

A friend said to me the other day about someone else & their tiredness, “I think maybe it’s a mind over matter thing”. And I flipped out, it’s a sore point for me. I tried explaining these thoughts of mine on a need for us to differentiate between tired and fatigue. And stand by it.

Because there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re not only letting yourself down, but letting down others, your friends and co-workers, because you can’t muster the energy and enthusiasm you owe them and owe your work.

In extreme fatigue you just end up asking yourself, how do I pick myself when I have nowhere else to go from here?

There’s no foothold, nothing to firmly place your hand upon to hoist yourself up again. How does one recover from extreme fatigue when all the above doesn’t seem to work or fails and there’s no support system in place that understands this detrimental ailment?

How do you start over again?









Trying to Understand Early Russian Formalism & the Smizz Life

1. ABSENTATION: A member of a family leaves the security of the home environment

Picture: It’s a few years ago. I left for America. I love America.  Except I wasn’t leaving home on my usual terms. I was feeling super run-down. I had been having nightsweats, bone pain, this insane fatigue that wouldn’t subside. The UK doctors told me it was just a “mono-style virus”, so I left for work & adventure. Except my boss in the USA was having none of me just waiting out the virus. She made me see a doctor, who made me see a haematologist oncologist, who then told me it looked bad & that I needed to go home & get it sorted ASAP.

I didn’t though. I thought that this guy is talking shit. I ran away from this statement. I suddenly felt the weight & value of time. I did a pretty amazing YOLO roadtrip visiting 3 coasts of America with friends, all with that thought in the back of my mind.



In my younger days, I studied Media Studies as one of my A-Levels (& got an A, of course). We looked at a crazy Russian Literary Formalist called ladimir Yakovlevich Propp who came up with something called Morphology of the Folktale  which basically looks at breaking up fairy tales into sections and 31 functions/options of resolution and narrative. His elaborate categorisations of classifications pegs plots points: tricky, guidance, rescue, ect.

Propp claims that you can shuffle any of these into constant rearrangements. They mark a moment where an action takes us in a different direction. It’s a nice way to to look at disruptions. He says everything proceeds from us loosing our place.




2.) INTERDICTION: An interdiction is addressed to the hero

We’re out of order and we’ve hardly begun. I was instructed to not stay in the USA and wait out what was happening to me. But I did.


3.)VIOLATION of INTERDICTION. The interdiction is violated (villain enters the tale).

The villain and hero here are both myself. The villain is an illness. A feeling of ill-health. A feeling that has slowly taken over and taken everything that was me. I was just in my early 20’s. I had never been properly sick. Sure I had colds and sore-throats, and sickness bugs – but this felt different.

I was a self-absorbed young adult with gritted determination to make it in the art world.  I had learned to be different, to try harder – no matter who I left behind. I had started to get just a tiny-lil bit cock-sure of myself. Just a tiny-tiny-bit. I had just got a prestigious artist residency at Site Gallery when I got hit.

I’d arrived somewhere without being invited.  Maybe I didn’t have the right to be in that place. Maybe that didn’t make it right that I fell ill, but maybe I wasn’t purely innocent either.


4.)RECONNAISSANCE: The villain makes an attempt at reconnaissance. The villain (often in disguise) makes an active attempt at seeking information.


There was no tricky. But there was deception. For months and months, and months, this illness  hid away. Making itself really hard to put a name to. To be recognised. But, it knows who I am. It knew I stayed up working until late, that I was fairly active. It fed on my inability to get rid of it.


8.) VILLAINY or LACK: Villain causes harm/injury

The illness took virtually nearly everything. I no longer can work all day and stay up.  It made me work less, sleep more,  which in turn made people forget about me, helped me to ruin my own reputation I had worked so hard to get. It made me bleed in places I never knew I could bleed. I have days where I literally feel like I might be dying, I catch myself looking super tired & worn-down in pain in a mirror & saying to myself: “I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok”. I’ve lost days, weeks, months of my life. I’m still  having pain which no one understands. This makes me feel alone.


17.) BRANDING: Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf);

I was branded. I have no scarfs or rings but emotional scars & a few physical ones. Somethings have shifted under my skin. Emotions and lymph nodes. Things pressing on things which present as neuralgia or headaches or bone aches or passing outs. Swellings around memory, swellings around my intellect and pride which hurts.


14.) RECEIPT OF A MAGICAL AGENT: Hero acquires use of a magical agent

Through this struggle, my whole world view changed. I gained this whole new perspective, this whole new weight of the importance of empathy. Before, I now realise, I had little empathy – towards everything. I wasn’t a dick or anything, but I didn’t or couldn’t understand others plights – because I was so blinded by myself. I just understood the system that affected others, not HOW it made them feel & how that affects them.

am more thankful. It’s just not in the way that’s immediately assumed. I am grateful for the pain, because now I understand it better. I am grateful for the struggle, because I can be of more use to those in the midst of it.


29.) TRANSFIGURATION: Hero is given a new appearance

I used to only work in art stuff. Now you can find me in both the art-world and in healthcare. I wanted to re-train myself to work in healthcare to both give back, and to be the person who understands because I felt (and still do) misunderstood on how the villain really affected my quality of life. The central question I now ask myself is “What’s the relationship between caring and understanding?”




When I think about my life in these terms I see  all kinds of functions that I never asked for: struggle, challenge, trickery, frustration. There’s some fighting, and a lil bit of winning.  The gold-dust comes in the realisation of personal-growth and amazingly supportive friendships along the way.

The materials of my life, as memory recalls and deforms them, will always involve the villain: the stranger, the illness.

When I casually drop into conversation to people that I’m studying radiation oncology, as well as still working as an artist, and still feeling shockingly poorly, they look shocked. They think it’s a huge turn, or that art must not be working for me. But it’s not really. I sit in class, reflecting upon my own life like text. I feel like i’m still constantly shuffling together pieces of a puzzle i can’t see the edges to yet.

There is no function designated for this last part. Where the hero turns to studying healthcare & medicine alongside art to try and understand her own hurt and use it to try and help her to understand others hurt.





I could spend everyday like it was a holiday. I feel like I deserve to spend my life constantly on vacation. But you can’t. You have to return to normality. But this is hard. It’s hard to return to a familiar land, to return home, to do everything like you used to, when you no longer feel like yourself. Things have changed.



Explain A Patients Reaction To….

I look back on my life so far, and I ponder for a moment and wonder how I’ve got so far (yet also so far  to go). I reflect and think, yo, did that really happen? That was AMAZING! Or that was pretty horrific, why didn’t I see the difficulty at the time. Why was I such a dick, or why can’t I be as motivated as I was back then?

Tonight I’m writing this blog instead of doing revision for my last and hardest exam of Jan. I probably should be using my time much more wisely. I’m super tired and I feel like I should be asleep right now. I feel like my brain can’t take anymore information today – but it is indeed a revision past exam question which has made me want to write this post.

The said question in question is, “Explain a patients reaction to a cancer diagnosis.”  – it’s only worth 3 marks.

We’re taught that the patient can go through a myriad of reactions, and neither of them are time sensitive. They could happen instantly during the breaking news, during or months after treatment. We’re told that in the beginning most people are in denial, “There must be some sort of mistake?”  “Pretty sure that this is wrong, it’s not happening to me?!”  Some patients never stop being in denial, most come around. Guilt. Responsibility for others (What about my family/kids/parents what do I tell them?). Fight spirit. Depression. The options are really really endless. Everyone deals with everything in their own way.

This question brought back memories for me. I thought about when I first got told that it looked like I had a “Lymphoid Malignancy”.

Remember this? I bet you do:


I still – to this day – remember that day with crystal clear exactness that I’ve never experienced with any other memory.  I think its surreal-ness is what makes it stay with me.  And I think the above exam question – that the patient will also have the most crystal clear memory too.

Here’s my reaction to the above news. I feel like I want to share it, because I still – to this day – think about it daily. I think about how weird it was. Imagine being told you could have a fatal disease, 10000’s miles away from family & in the presence of your work boss? (My boss is now, as you can imagine,  1 of my closest friends). How disjoined my journey was afterwards. and the amass of emotion and questions that seems to have manifested itself into a whole new career venture. Pretty sure not every patients reaction to a cancer diagnosis is – I WILL BECOME A MEDICAL CANCER ZAPPER RADIOTHERAPIST RESEARCHER PERSON! But here’s part 1 of my crazy story.


After being asked what felt like a bazillion questions  such as, “You’re an artist, do you think you could have accidentally poisoned yourself with chemicals in your art materials?”, a super  thorough  physical  (much more attention to detail than we do in the UK) and some tests & bloodwork, I sat in an examination room with a pretty good looking doctor in a white lab coat (in America, Doctors really wear them – with their names on no less!?). I was wearing a broken gown, backwards. I felt really unprepared. I remember thinking that I wish I had shaved my legs better, not just up to the knee.

I was also sat in the room with the doctors colleague (who was also a qualified haematologist dr) who also happened to be a friend to my boss, and my boss from my American summer camp job.  I usually hate people going to the doctors with me. In fact I do all my doctor-y, hospital stuff alone. I don’t know why. I guess I don’t like people being present when I tell an almost stranger  about the real pain and symptoms I try to hide or down play in real life. I ultimately don’t like feeling vulnerable in front of others. But both – the doctor friend & my boss, asked if they could be present during my consultation and who was I to say no? After-all, it was them who made me go and who were paying for it.
So, here I am. With my boss, of all people, being told that it looks like cancer. I remember how the doctor built up to it. He gave me the positives first. My bloodwork looked pretty good, normal. My boss, sat behind him against the adjacent wall wearing a thick yatch-like-J-Crew meets Old Navy cardigan, but facing me, put 2 thumbs up in the air with an American style movie smile. I smiled back acknowledging. In my head, I was about to curse that I knew this was going to be a complete waste of EVERYONES time & money. That it was indeed a virus or just “all in my head”.

Then the doctor said,”… but it looks like Lymphoma… a cancer that effects mostly young people. It’s really treatable, and easy to fix. It’s just it could be time sensitive.  If it’s aggressive then we could have a problem.” I looked straight at my boss who had no clue how to react, thumbs still sort of mid air between celebratory and disbelief. I remember kind of swinging my legs under the chair like a child, sat on my hands. Feeling kind of shoulder shrugg-y.

The doctor recommended me to go straight home back to the UK and get it sorted (you know, cuz I wasn’t insured for Cancer. Bummer.) All 3 of us left the examination room, went in a lift and left the hospital without speaking a word.

The day was over-caste. It began with heavy rain. I was wearing my super cool raincoat with a picture of Colorado on the inside lining and my multicoloured grey H&M wool jumper.  My boss tried making me eat a breakfast burrito. I wasn’t hungry & I also had stolen 2 bananas from the dinning hall before we had left for Boston. I left the uneaten burrito in the car.

We leave the hospital grounds, get to the road near the parking-lot & make small talk about parking in Boston & payment for parking. My boss’s friend-doctor and my boss  wished each other good bye. I thanked the doctor guy. As soon as he was gone, as I watched the lift doors shut, my first words were – whilst staring at the bottons with floor numbers on in the lift in the car-park: “You know that I’m not going home, right?”
The shock of hearing that I might have something that could end my life – especially if time sensitive – was something my mind couldn’t really grasp. In denial didn’t even come close.  I’m not even sure that a “life”, as a seperate entity really exists. Maybe I’m a kid who lives with their mind racing ahead into tomorrow more than I should, but that night I couldn’t stop thinking about all the plans and dreams that I had that might never be.  I felt as if I had wasted huge amounts of time in my life, and that I had to have a second chance immediately.

I convinced my boss to divert our route via an artshop where I spent exactly $38.38 cents on a bunch of my fav drawing pens and sketchbooks – I also pretended to be a student for 10% off. Later on, we stopped off at a bookshop on our 3 hour drive back to camp. I mean, how could she deny a dying kid their last wishes? I bought a pretty great art magazine, and my boss bought me an iced-chai-tea-latte from Starbucks. We talked about pretty much everything else BUT my potential impending doom. When my boss brought it up, I was pretty blunt that I wasn’t going home.  She would say, “Well, I don’t know about that Sarah Smizz.” I would have no discussion about it. I felt like if I did have cancer, that another 6 weeks wouldn’t make much difference, and  if I didn’t have it, then what a waste of everything. And then that if I did have cancer I was going to endure some hardships  so I wanted to make sure that I had to live my life hard and fast. I thought that this, after all, could be my last summer in the USA. Ever. Last summer ever.

That was part 1.  Other posts reference my crazy disjointed journey of illness and let’s be honest, I will probably write about it again.

Fast-forward to right now. I think we have to live fast, stay lucky. Try to be better. Work harder. Always put family & friends first. Money is circulated. Time is spent. There’s never enough time to learn everything. oH-wEll. Mistakes are made. Lessons learnt. Collaboration is key. Always be ready for an opportunity even if it doesn’t arise. Ask for help when you need it. Sleep is GOD. Illness is a bitch. It will rob you of everything for a moment – whether it’s the flu, gastritis or cancer. Stay true. Smile. Be cliche. Instagram.Help others.

I’m left wondering if my story above would have got me 3 marks in my exam?

Smizz’s Top 10 Movies of 2013

This year has been hard, like REALLY hard to pick out good top 10 worthy movies. I’m not sure what’s happening out there – but this year has seen a whole-lot of a bunch of  films that were just kind of “Meh”- They were enjoyable, but did it give me any food for thought, or awe inspiring writing or cinematic technique or emotion to deal with afterwards, did they play with genre  or make you think about how far we’ve come or where to go as a human race? Nope. Not many did. Maybe I just didn’t see the ‘right’ movies, but I’m hoping that 2014 will bring some great ones! However, here’s some that did stick with me.


1.) Stories We Tell

A documentary that I’ve only just seen, to sneak in high at number 1, this subtle, heartbreaking documentary masquerades as a straightforward family memoir about Polley’s long-dead mother. However, “Stories We Tell” gradually becomes something else, an inquiry into the nature of memory and reality, a love letter to Polley’s English-born dad (who narrates the film), a puzzle box with unanswerable questions about how we become who we are at its center. Polley’s touching documentary wallows in greatness both in cinema and emotion.


2.) 12 Years A Slave

Steve McQueen has created another masterpiece. Unsettling and formally rigorous, Steve McQueen’s fact-based tale of a free black man sold into slavery in the 1850s puts America’s darkest secrets on screen for the first time. 12 Years A Slave is so good it makes “The Butler” look extremely poorly made. It’s dark and raw, it exposes everything, without sugarcoating it. Beautifully shot and edited, the film features moments of tension, heartbreak.

It’s noteworthy that a British director has become one of the few filmmakers to delve deeply into this subject, and the combination of John Ridley’s powerful script and McQueen’s directorial skills has inspired exceptional performances from the entire cast. Their dramatization of Northup’s experiences is both riveting and uncomfortable to watch, as the film depicts the perverse nature of a society that permitted such a barbaric system. Hopefully it will reach a large US audience, who will learn how a privileged Southern elite cruelly exploited their fellow humans in order to acquire greater wealth for themselves. Masterful.


3.) Philomena 

As someone whose heritage lies in Ireland, and whose grandparent was raised by nuns and spent years and year working as an advocate for the rights of adopted people and survivors of Irish Magdalene Laundries, I’m always prepared to be either underwhelmed or angry at the film industry’s ineptitude with subjects like this (and lots of other subjects to be honest!). Steve Coogan deserves utmost respect for producing and writing this film (and let’s face it, needed this from his poor movie based on Alan Partridge earlier this year). His script is excellent, consistently witty and engaging on the surface whilst spinning many more layers beneath the surface which became unconsciously stirring. Faultless acting, always engaging. A gentle, funny, heartbreaking and unforgettable film – no matter how far from its “true story” it might be.


4.) HER

Theodore Twombly  is letter writer #612 for the company “Beautifulhandwrittenletters.com.” He essentially spends his days crafting poetic, poignant, and personalized communications for other people’s relationships. You can’t find a more dynamic and compelling story about the human connection and where we’re headed as a society. Johansson’s Samantha is sexy, open-hearted, sympathetic, witty and loving – — and guess what,  she’s also the operating system on Theo’s computer, in Spike Jonze alternately wistful and whimsical near-future rom-com, a lovely and slightly troubling vision of utopia. This is probably the best of Jonze’s career so far, and maybe deserves higher praise and wider distribution that it’s currently getting. (Also, whoa, that moustache).


5.) The Place Beyond The Pines

This is a strange movie. A movie of a story of trashy criminals and dirty cops evolving into one about fathers and sons and life.   A life is not just about your life but those you affect and those you leave behind for years to come. he film went for editing and filming styles to echo the characters’ situations and actions. You can guess what that would look like when Gosling is racing through the forest on his motorcycle. But as we approach the more expansive ending, there are some beautiful shots of the trees lining Schenectady’s countryside roads. That works particularly well with Cooper giving a remarkable performance of Avery constantly coming to grips with his life.

It could have been tightened up a bit, but “The Place Beyond the Pines” isn’t telling a quick story. It’s telling the story of multiple lives, of death, family, love, honour and obedience. Employing overall themes of revenge, ambition, and what it means to be a father, and a son.


6.) Short Term 12

20-something supervising staff member of a foster care facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend. Contrary to its title, the effects that Short Term 12 leaves you with are anything but short term. In what has become one of the most personal films of 2013, it’s extremely hard to write a review for them.  Destin Daniel Cretton creates a film which the characters render the deepest and darkest corners of your heart, while never being melodramatic. It’s  a real gem, that totally caught me off guard.


7.) Before Midnight

Years ago, before doing education through #hashtags was a thing on Twitter, in my 3rd year of Art School we used to host E-Crits. Each week one of us in class would host a crit on MSN (yes, MSN and this was even after MSN was a thing) – this was an E-Crit. Like an online reading/seminar group. Extra credit of course. I did something on space, architecture and skateboarding and revolutionary potential based on an essay by Henri Lefebrve.  My friend Jamie made us watch Before Sunrise which was in 10 minute clips on YouTube at the time and we was to discuss that. I’m not sure what we really discussed. However if it has been Before Midnight, I’m sure the e-crit would have been lively full of studious observations of amazing character development and dialogue.

Before Midnight is the 3rd sequel part to Before Sunrise, and Before Sunset, and comes in 9 years later! This film is easily the best film of the franchise so far. Packing an emotional and euphoric punch like third-installments like Toy Story 3 do , films that have a close-nit relation to their predecessors but saving all the masterful speeches and epiphanies for the viewer to indulge in their finales. The film doesn’t take any cheap shots with every scene constructed from real emotion and feeling incredibly authentic and genuine. There are long takes for the viewer to be present whether it’s in an airport conversation between Jesse and Hank or at a lunch with in the beautiful valleys of Greece or even in a hotel room where a man and a woman share intimacy like older lovers typically do.

The film is breathtakingly accurate and precise in capturing the love and relationship of couples, it will and should be studied by film schools and writers for years to come.  Everything’s better with maturity.


8.) Spectacular Now

From the writers of 500 Days of Summer (one of my favourite movies!), which we all know wasn’t just your average love story, comes a seemingly average love story in The Spectacular Now. But it isn’t very average, and that’s the beauty of it.  It’s a heartfelt story that distills all of the beauty, tenderness, and apocalyptic bleakness of youth into a 95 minute love story that portrays teenagers in the most honest way since the films of John Hughes.

Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber make this a surprising tone piece, one that is more concerned with the loquacious behaviour of teens rather than the raunchy behaviour. The film showed how one’s addiction to the bottle can compromise their life.  Much of the film operates on deep, character emotion, so attaching an ending that neatly packages things up would’ve been a complete contradiction to the film’s focus.

This is an important movie for teenagers, and a well deserved kudos to actually making something that is full of substance and never trivialises real life.


9.) We’re The Millers

I know what you’re thinking, how on earth did this get into ANY top 10 list of the year? Are you serious Smizz? Well, perhaps it was how off guard this movie caught me with how good I thought it was! I went to the movies expecting some shit, but I wanted to see some empty-leave you feeling a bit better-shit anyways. But what I got was not only the feel good factor I was hoping for but much more!

It’s not a gold mine of comedy by any means, but it did the job it told us it would do: Make us laugh and give us a fun ride. They really brought together a dysfunctional family and did it in a way that allowed for some suspension of disbelief. A lot of comedies nowadays have those hit or miss scenes where you either laugh, or you just can’t suspend your disbelief. We’re The Millers is pretty much a compilation of those kinds of scenes that hit just the right tone to pull it off as funny, clever and it just kinda grows on you.  Ultimately, a solid comedy and that’s worth noting!


10.) This Is The End

Although ‘This is the end’ does not have the greatest storyline in the history of film, it is a very inventive movie in its own way. It was at times self-indulgent, absolutely bizare, and even lazy. There’s still something about this movie if it appeals to your sense of humor. I wouldn’t say the plot is non-existent, but it certainly isn’t developed enough to pay much attention to it. The movie is rather a collection of gags with typical American humor, which is exactly what you would expect from anything created by the duo Seth Rogen-Evan Goldberg. This is the End’ contains a fair amount of satire on the posh world of show-business and it’s enjoyable seeing all the actors and actresses not taking themselves too seriously and playing themselves as sometime extremely unlikable characters.




I think about the blanket of care I have received over this past year. And it astounds me. It really genuinely amazes me that I never knew it existed for me, until I needed it to.

My friends & Family have all been amazing and supportive. My colleagues.  Strangers. People on Twitter. Doctors, and nurses & everyone else working within the NHS. Everyone has been amazing.

I feel super proud to be part of a system that looks after me, and I feel super lucky to have the friends that I do. And I have no idea how to thank everyone individually, and sound 100% grateful and genuine about it? I hope it translates, but I dunno if it does?

So I put it out there? How would you like to be thanked? What’s the best thank you thing/moment that you’ve received/had? Share with the Smizz!  Can a thank you be too cheesey? or too much? What are your thoughts. I don’t want to over do it.


Trying to Help to try and Fight The Good Fight!



Hi friends!

Let me tell you a story.  Just over a year ago, I read “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by the awesome Haruki Murakami, which inspired me to want to challenge myself to run a half-marathon. I made a tumblr blog, and bought a book on how to run a Marathon for non-runners, and even bought some proper work-out-shorts. I was deadly serious about it. The book convinced me if I had the motivation & strength to do that, not only would I be healthier and fitter but also I would miraculously become more organized, and get a way bigger drive & work ethic. But I never found out if it did that.

I fell ill with the same thing I’m still trying to shake off, & just participating in life in a normal capacity feels like enough of a work out. But! It IS still something I want to do by this time next year.

So in true-baby-steps, I’m doing the Cancer Research UK Race for Life again! In part to get me to my challenge that’s delayed by a year, but  mostly  because I want to run & raise money for everyone who has ever been affected, in any way, by cancer.

It’s been a tough year for me, but my whole perspective has changed because of it. I’ve never felt more loved in my life than I do now,  and I’m constantly humbled & grateful to be loved & supported by you my amazing friends & mom & bro.

It’s been a lot of needles, needles, needles, horrific burning & vomiting allergic reactions to MRI & Angiogram dyes, spontaneous nose-bleeds & bruising, painkillers that resulted in days of lost memories, a-everyday-all-the-time feeling of  being hung-over & jet-lagged at-the-same-time, bone ache, drenching night-sweats & 14 hour sleeps a day.  I am not sure about all that will come next. But I do know emotionally I have been changed. I find myself being hypersensitive to others struggles, both in health and in life in general. Every single experience is heightened. I notice things that I never even saw or cared about before. I’m constantly inspired by you & others to be a better person.

People have shared with me so many personal stories of fight. My mom had to fight it in 2000, some of my friends relatives have been diagnoised with this terrible & unjust disease recently. And now it feels even more personal. Even though it’s not. But it is.

Friends, this is for my mom, my family, for you, your moms, your family & friends and everyone elses friends & family. F___K Cancer, y’all. I hope you will help me raise some money for Cancer Research so that they can continue to help to provide support & care  to those who need it, & provide research into life saving stuff!

Everyone who donates, will receive a drawing from me. (Although I suck at mailing them out!). Even just £1, the smallest amount you can donate, is by no means the least important.

I hope you guys will help me! You can sponsor me at my page here:

Thanks for reading! Much love & super thanks for your help & support!
To belief & survivorship!
Your friend, Smizz! 🙂

See ya 2012, Aloha 2013!

2012 was the best year of my life so far, believe it or not. The new year always makes me real nervous because I dunno if i can handle the anxiety of living up to great stuff happening. I can be a bit of cynic. Great things can’t last forever, right? But all I can do is hope, and work hard. Keep my eye on the ball and take chances.  Here is to REALLY hoping that my prognosis for 2013 is even better. Thanks for helping make it so, you guys.
Each year I do a blog setting what I want/would LOVE to happen in the year ahead. It seems to kind of work. Who knows whether it would have happened  anyways or by writing it, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy or indeed if it was because I took the time to write this  list and it’s magic! (so taking no chances on anything). Here is my new list. It’s pretty much the same as last year with some re-thoughts. But I can’t stress enough my main goals are to:
WHAT I WISH WISH WISH for in 2013: Keeping the same values/wishes/hopes/resolutions as last year:
  1. That my mom, bro, nan and friends are all super happy, heathy and that NO ONE DIES! Including ME! But I would die instead of the above people if it has to come down to that.
  2. Last year I asked for a job  that I enjoyed. I ended up getting at least 3!  However EVERY single job  i have (i have quite a few)- the hours are uncertain. Sometimes I have loads of hours, other times it can be literally weeks/months with hardly anything. So thank you 2012 for an amazing job year;  PLEASE New Year help me find these golden eggs of opportunity and help me reach my potential. Help me make GREAT/BETTER impressions at the places where I currently work. Let me move small mountains. Please find extra hours for me. Please find me more amazing opportunities. Let me be BETTER. WORK HARD. Even more so, PLEASE provide me with opportunities to help others and to make a positive difference! Esp. if it falls into a job role.
  3. TRAVEL THE WORLD AGAIN PLEASE!  I love meeting new people, and every experience adds to my thoughts, and work. If I can make new friends and keep it sweet and in touch with my great friends -new and old – this will be awesome on its own!
  4. Make extra time for friends, make sure i actually see friends who live else where. Don’t let money define this.
  5. This year I need to be more motivated. Be more time-focused. Less TV and more drawing. More blog work updates, less scrawling through the Facebook time-line. This is also very, very do-able if I just organize my priorities too! I need to make more great art-works rather than just research and develope ideas that never get shown.
  6. I really really hope that i can make a positive difference this year, help others that need it, and make the world a place i’m proud to live in.
  7. More teaching opportunities PLEASE! This is a must if i want a chance at achieving number 6!
  8. As with any artist, any exhibition/residential/print opportunities no matter how small or little they may seem all adds to the endless cannon of critical thinking and art practice!
  9. I have this application (which is kind of secret), which if i get accepted onto, will make a SIGNIFICANT change in my life. It will provide me with the platform to help others who really need it. The chances of me actually even getting an interview are SLIM, like SUPER TINY. But please year 2013, i know YOU know that I can make a difference to others, provide exceptional care without exception. If i can get accepted onto this program, it will be a miracle and a 2012 dream come true. If not, then I guess I’m destined to try again or try for something else similar. But here’s to hoping!
  10. I just want to feel normal again. Like not have bone ache, or nightsweats, where i could get up in the morning and not feel insanely hungover despite not actually touched alcohol in weeks. I want to not feel SUPER tired for NO reason anymore. I want to be fit, i want to be healthy again, i just want my body and health back from circa 2006 (that was a good year ha!)

Thanks 2012 for a dope year, 2013 I know you’ve got my back. Here’s to hard-work, game changing, trying to stay focused, fighting against the ordinary daily events, challenges and finding ways or re-focusing when things might not work out exactly as we might want them to. TO FRIENDSHIP yo!

This much I do know: (reflection on 2012 & life in general)


2012 has been a year of awesomeness but a huge steep learning curve for me. Things started off amazing. I got the SITE Gallery Residency, met some awesome people, and I quit Coca-Cola, I still had my bookstore job and things felt good.

But I started to feel really unusually tired, and worn down. I brushed my shoulders off & blamed the no drinking coke thing, started to drink it again to reverse the supposedly effects, and ignored what my body was trying to tell me: that something wasn’t right. I started getting incredible bone ache around my left side of my body-specifically my shoulder, and drenching night-sweats. I lost over 1.5 stones in weight (that I had somehow put on a few months previously) without even trying! I got nosebleeds regularly for no reason, had an enlarged spleen for a while, lost my appetite, lost my get-up-and-go. I kept up with work, and took any opportunity open to me, but I slowly lost my connection with a whole community of people because I couldn’t make it to their exhibition openings and such – as I felt so poorly/tired. Which sucked more than anything.

Great work:

But I carried on working, regardless. Thanks to the amazing Doc/Fest crew, I got another chance at being their resident artist – and they recommended me to draw a TEDx talk in Sheffield, which got me my new part-part time job in London that I started in November!  Drawing a TEDx talk was a dream come true, and continuing to work with Sheffield Doc/Fest is one of the best-things ever.  My role on the Gravity Lecture series at Sheffield Hallam University has grown substantially. And I feel equal to my colleagues, where my ideas are often pushed forward. Which is insanely awesome. Even gaining some teaching opportunities – which I never thought would happen unless I did a PhD.

The “Unifying diagnose”: 

I went back to America to work for the YMCA for my 3rd year in a row. That place is now like family. It was here where people were pretty concerned about my mystery illness that my UK doctor had said was just “probably a mono-style-virus”. They made me see a specialist in haematology & oncology (despite me not wanting to) who told me that “a unifying diagnosis is a lymphoid malignancy”. Yeah, pretty hardcore stuff.

In denial  I carried on ignoring all these signs. Against doctors orders, I continued to work & do our legendary roadtrip from coast to coast in a month. But things became apparent on my roadtrip, that this was probably no virus. I left it until October to go back to my GP with a cough I still have, Taychicardia, & some lumps and all the above symptoms, and 2 months later I started fainting, and getting blinding white spots in the bottom half of my vision, i flunked my field of vision test at the Opticians when my actual vision is fine, and now my immune system is completely compromised. I’ve picked up pretty much everything that’s going around. The naro-virus, I just have to look at someone with a cold and I find myself full of snot. My tongue also looks like i’m diseased and i’ve had a  numb big toe for about 6 weeks now – which i think is in part due to what i’ve been taking medication wise.  It still hasn’t been disproven that I don’t have cancer. But, at least I’m sort of being treated with something at the moment. I  have Christmas off and go back in January for more tests, treatments & hopefully a clearer view.

What it revealed & what I’m learning from it:

This illness, whether as serious as predicted or not so serious, is humbling and extremely revealing – it has forced me to survey my life- perhaps super early than i would have- with an unforgiving eye. There are some shameful, lazy, hurtful, and weak acts in there. Everything I thought was important, suddenly seemed kind of unimportant. Everything I thought was unimportant, became important. I read a book about a guy diagnosed with cancer who said “If I live, who is it that I intend to be?” I read this and found that I too had a lot of growing up to do.

Even now, I was pissed off and taken aback when I went to see my hot GP about 3 weeks ago, about the blinding spots in my vision, who then freaked out  with me for changing my appointment with a specialist because it clashed with a work commission (ironically for the NHS). I said, “But you don’t understand, this is important” (This being Money firstly, and reputation secondly, getting more work thirdly) he said and quite aggressively for a GP, “No, Sarah, I don’t think YOU understand…. You need to put yourself first sometimes.” He was right. I don’t understand. I don’t understand why I’m still not back to normal health, and I still haven’t learnt my lesson that there ARE more IMPORTANT things in life than money, or fitting into what is socially acceptable. Dare I say it, that, you know, MY life/health is important. Reader, YOUR life is especially important.

I didn’t think people even cared about me. Until this year. I’ve witness kindness and amazing generous acts. Even from strangers. A woman who I met in the airport line, scrambled against the line at the end a plane journey to give me her card, told me to keep in touch and offered to do a bone marrow drive in NYC if it turned out I needed one.

But the one thing I am exceptionally grateful and humbled by is my friends. I keep saying it, but this is because i feel like I might have taken them for granted, or not shown them my appreciation until now. Friends are supposed to be there for you in tough times. But these guys are everything and more! They are my mirror back board. I wouldn’t have done ANY health thing if it wasn’t for them telling me to get myself checked out, or the doctor needs to know about this, ect. Even when there are moments of doubt and somewhat fear, they are there.

It made me realize that I need to make more of an effort with keeping in touch or caring about the needs of others. My art or resume won’t keep me warm at night. And if all of that ended, what would I have to show for it?

So here I am, I am trying to make every obstacle an opportunity. Doing something amazing takes so much effort and risk. Trying to fight against the inertia is wicked hard and tiring but it is ultimately the fight that counts. I’m asking myself what is meat and bones important?

I’m still figuring out stuff, but i know i see more beauty now than I ever did, I take care of my body way more now even with limited energy reserves. I try and keep and document my life just incase. It helps me see if this is what I want my life to look like. I know in 2013, I’m going to give back, help others in need. I’m going to work so much harder, I’m going to get up earlier, go to bed earlier, waste less time (harder than it looks!), i’m going to be kinder, I’m going to learn new things, I’m going to try and not let anyone down. i am going to be a better person, a better friend, a better friend to world whilst remembering it is the FIGHT that COUNTS.







Here’s to wishing everyone a super awesome holiday & to an incredible new year! 2012 has been a phenomenal adventure, in which I discovered what an amazing support network of the most generous & kindest & awesomest friends I have. I’m the luckiest Smizz alive! Thanks guys for making 2012 a winner, and helping me out healthwise. I’m grateful & blessed to have you all.