Welcome! Honest Lies is the personal site of a 26 year old graduate electrical engineer living in the UK. Covering every day life, books and various other randomness. Read more about me and the site here.

The One With No Betta Fish

Betta Fish

Alfred, Betta Fish

Yesterday I buried my eldest Betta fish.

I admit that usually I would dispose of my fish in the trash, as I feel that although callous it’s the most responsible thing to do and I don’t have access to a private garden to bury them anyway. But Alfred, my eldest Betta, I took home to my parents to bury him in their garden. He went next to Theo, my youngest Betta, who passed away just over a month ago. It feels pretty rubbish to have lost them both, to see the empty tanks, to feel like maybe it was my fault, did I not care for them properly? 

Alfred was my first Betta fish purchased in August 2016. I blogged about the experience of buying him here. He was a veil tail Betta with a red body and bluey purple fins and flecks of silver around his gills. At first I had him in an undersized 19L then I moved him into a 24L in which I put a chunk of gorgeous mopani wood and stuffed it full of fake plants, each chosen carefully so it wouldn’t tear his long fins. He was a gorgeous fish and full of personality. When I was in the room he would watch me, swimming up to the side of the tank to stare at me. When I approached the tank he would  swim up to the side of the tank and, if I got too close, he would flare at me. He would build huge bubble nests. He loved frozen bloodworm and to eat tiny flies that I would catch and chuck in the tank for him. I had to be careful about placing my hands in his tank for too long as he would stalk and attack me. He bit me a few times! Really, he was grumpy and ill tempered but he was my little dude and my companion for three years. His feistyness and his weirdness and all his antics filled me with joy.  But, not so much in recent months. His death was a long time coming and I am grateful that he made his third ‘birthday’. Truthfully, I have been watching my little dude suffer terribly for a couple of months now. I honestly don’t know when or how he got sick, but I definitely noticed it during the end. His stomach swelled up and his beautiful fins turned raggedy and he couldn’t swim properly. My little dude who would beg for food multiple times a day (see: him staring at me and swimming up to the side of the tank when I approached ) would only come out for food every few days and he would struggle to eat it, struggling to keep himself afloat for long enough. It was painful too see. I feared he had dropsy and, knowing that it was likely fatal even if treatment is attempted I did my best to keep him comfortable and happy until the inevitable happened. But it was hard. And then I went to London for a few days for work and when I came back I couldn’t see him. The next day I found him and he wasn’t moving. I told myself he was just resting. But the next day he hadn’t moved still and I knew. I feel so guilty that I don’t know when he died. I was so busy that week, have been all this month and the last, I didn’t pay enough attention and I lost him without knowing when. I feel stupidly sad too. It took all my courage to get him out the tank and I could barely look at his limp, rotting body. 

I thought after Theo died I would be better able to handle it, but I wasn’t.

Betta Fish

Theodore, Betta Fish. The red marking on his head is the wound he developed.

Theo was my youngest Betta fish. I bought him on a whim as blogged about here. This was also in August, but a year after Alfred. I put him in the same 19L as I had Alfred until I could eventually get him set up in his permanent 24L. I also put a nice chunk of wood in for him and lots of silky fake plants. I had rainbow gravel in his tank, the better to show off his colors. He was a stunning fish. He was a metallic blue crown tail Betta, with red and purple shifts on his fins and around his gills. He was a gentler fish than Alfred, sweeter. He rarely flared at me and he would get so excited when I approached the tank. I could trail my finger in the water and he would follow it. I would play with him like that, making him chase after his food in a similar way, and he seemed to enjoy it. He never attacked my hands like Alfred. He was fussier and preferred his Betta food though he did not mind the occasional bit of bloodworm. He tried to build bubble nests but he never became very good at it (they would disintegrate quickly). One day I noticed he had a small wound on his body. I didn’t think much of it, I figured it would heal. I tested the water just to be sure and the chemistry was fine so I figured I shouldn’t worry about infections. Of course, it got infected. It didn’t heal, he became weak and reclusive, barely eating. At one point I thought he had died because I found him lying on the bottom of his tank, motionless, but when I went to collect him he darted away. I never really knew if he was dead or alive, he was so still and hidden away during those final weeks. In desperation, seeing him still alive and clearly not dying and probably suffering, I bought an anti bacterial (methylene blue) and tried to treat him but it didn’t work. And eventually he passed away. I took him back to my parents and buried him there. He didn’t even make his second birthday. It killed me a little. I felt sure, still feel sure, that’s it my fault somehow.

I feel sad now, to see my empty Betta tanks. And my confidence as a fish keeper has taken a hit. Maybe I am not good enough at this, maybe I am too busy, away from home too often. My main shoal of fish are OK, although I am even having some trouble with their tank, just the icing on the cake. 

Having pets can be really hard. Their lives are so short and watching them degrade and then die can really be quite painful. 

However they bring so much joy too. I guess that makes it all worth it in the end. 

I miss my Betta fishes but realistically they weren’t going to live very long and I really tried to care for them and give them a good life. I think they were comfortable and happy fish living their best life. I really tried to give that to them.

Will I get another Betta? Mostly likely yes, I just need some time…and also to figure out how to prepare the tanks to accept a new fish without making them sick too. You can’t use cleaning chemicals on or near fish tanks which makes sterilising and cleaning a bit of a question mark at times…

The One With Too Much Stuff

I have finally bought a double bed!

You may recall (or maybe not, I’m not judging) that one of my finance goals was to buy a new bed. I have been sleeping on a single bed since forever and both bed and mattress I was using were in fact those I used as a child following my move from a cot (note: my parents didn’t believe in children’s beds. I went from cot to a single bed with a sideboard to keep me from rolling out, then just the single bed.) I loved that bed, which my dad built himself, but its small, and the mattress was probably once firm but now offers little support. I am stoked to finally own a double bed, although unfortunately I won’t be getting a new mattress alongside it as my finances don’t stretch that far yet.

I am doing much better financially then I was, but I am not yet entirely reformed. I am doing my best to reign my spending in and up my savings but progress is slow. I still find myself too influenced by social media, this culture of consumerism, and in boredom or stress I do like a good shopping binge. It’s …not great. I have also come to realise though that one of the key issues, and where I am truly leaking money, is on food and I am not sure how to go about challenging my unhealthy, somewhat disordered relationship with food.

One thing that has helped to control my spending is that, as part of preparing my room for my new bed, I have been doing a lot of rearranging of stuff and decluttering and it has made me realise just how much stuff I have amassed. How on earth did I manage to live in a dorm room, when I’ve managed to pack a two bedroom flat to the brim? Where did all these things come from? Why do I have so many t-shirts? So much makeup, when I hardly wear it? So much expired skincare? So many useless papers? I feel slightly embarrassed by how I’ve expanded my stuff to fill out all my space, how I’ve let myself spend my salary on all this stuff, which just expires or sits there or gets squeezed into a drawer and forgotten about. Look, I’m not minimalist, I like a bit of clutter, but I think I’ve crossed over from organized ‘aesthetic’ chaos to just…chaos. Decluttering and organising my room has been stressful and slightly overwhelming. I find it difficult to let go of things. It pains me that a lot of it can’t be recycled and will end up in landfill which also makes me not want to get rid of it. I attach memories to useless things and pine for them, can’t bear to let go of them. Again, embarrassing. But on the flipside, when I now find myself browsing online in a fit of boredom, I do find myself thinking – do I even have space for this? I have been asking myself “do I want or need this?” which helps, but this additional question is also very useful and adds an extra layer of scrutiny. Even if I can convince myself I’ll use something, once I realise I will have to store it and add it to the pile of stuff I am currently organising I find myself put off the purchase. I don’t want to deal with anymore stuff I realise. I think about that item being thrown out, ending up in landfill probably, if I can’t make use of it after all, and that guilt also stops me.

(If only I could think about food the same way.)

But anyway, as I change my thinking and try to control my spending, I find myself with more “extra” money each month which I can squirrel away. As such, I have been putting money into my savings each month and I’ve nearly hit my first savings goal even. I’m still relying on my credit card far too much, but I’m proud that I bought my new bed with my debit card not on credit, as I am trying to keep big purchases like this to debit, to ensure I feel the weight of them and I properly evaluate if I can afford the thing right now. (None of this I’ll stick it on the credit card and pay it later, which basically gives permission to think about it later!)

Currently, I am missing not travelling a little. I so want to go somewhere. I am trying to focus instead on day trips I can make around my local area and the fact that I am going up to Scotland in September-ish- but I do feel like I’ve lost part of my identity. Who is that girl who lived abroad in Malaysia, who traveled to Japan and South Korea alone, who dreamed of solo European trips (and started out on that with a trip to Hamburg)? I used to go places and do things, all by myself, and I have become a bit of a homebody. Still, I am keeping it in mind that travel is a privilege, that I now have more leave (from work) for mental health days and long weekends, that I still have so many places in the UK I haven’t been. It’s not the same as traveling abroad, but if I keep saving then I know I will be able to afford a big trip somewhere, eventually, but without it affecting my savings. (My trip to South Africa last year was difficult for me financially, and I felt it for the rest of the year. I don’t want that when I start travelling again.)

I am focussing on my goals, focussing on the long term, and slowly but surely making small but visible changes. And having already bought my new bed on debit with no issues, I can feel content that I am finally seeing the results I want due to this. I am still very determined that this is the year I sort my finances out.

The One With The Forest


My family are a long time supporter of a certain UK woodland charity. My father bought a membership in my name when I was a little girl, and as part of that membership a tree was sponsored in my name in a local wood. We went to see that wood back then – there were no plaques or anything to mark the sponsorship of course but still I thought of it as my wood. Back then the saplings had only just been planted and it wasn’t really a wood just yet. Yesterday, I went to visit my wood for the first time in a long time, and was amazed at how the trees have grown and filled out, that field of tiny saplings transformed into dense woodland. It was so very different from how I remembered it, which was as small and sparse. It was amazing. And a remarkable reminder of the passage of time. (I wish I had a picture of it then for comparison, but I don’t think we even had a digital camera back then!)

The Thursday before last, my father phoned me. He said he had some good news and proceeded to let me know that my sister’s boyfriend had asked him earlier that day for permission to ask my sister to marry him. I probably shocked my dad by not responding in joy, but in bursting out into tears at that news. I have known for a while that this would happen, wanted it to happen because I knew how much my sister wanted it, but still there is something like grief that formed as I felt my sister moving further and further away from me. The fact that it was actually happening immediately overwhelmed me. My sister, my best friend, and the person I trust and love the most in this world, would get married and start a family of her own and where could I fit in? It’s already so hard to see her, she is always so busy, and I have missed her. Don’t get me wrong I was happy, but also fearful. I struggled to explain my reaction to my dad without giving too much away, trying to protect myself and keep my most ugly feelings unspoken, and in the end laughed it off, made some stupid joke or the other. My father swore me to secrecy – only he, my mom and myself knew and needed to know so that my sister wouldn’t find out. We spent a week waiting and wondering when my sister’s boyfriend would do it and desperate to tell someone, anyone.

This weekend I went home. My sisters cat was staying at my parents as my sister and her boyfriend are, in fact, away. I wanted to see the cat and yes, I wanted to be with my family. It was my sister’s birthday on Sunday and I was sure that the proposal would happen this weekend. I thought we should be together when it happened? I don’t know why. Saturday passed by uneventfully, lazying at home with the cat after a long , boring and thankfully uneventfully trip down to my parents. On Sunday, the weather was on the edge of a storm but we went out anyway, to my woods, for a lovely refreshing walk. It was a little damp and muddy but beautiful out there. My wood is very pretty.

My mom was grumpy and my dad talkative and the cat all over me and I was having a nice time. But I was still wondering what was going on with my sister and it was weighing on me.

Sunday afternoon, around 5pm, my sister sent though a picture of her left hand with a beautiful diamond ring on it. We were all pretty amazed that it had finally happened, having started to wonder if my sister’s boyfriend had chickened out. Relief, happiness, excitement, took over. We phoned my sister and her boyfriend to get the details (my sister’s boyfriend surprised us all by how perfect his timing was and how smoothly he did it. It sounded like a beautiful proposal.) Then my mom and dad started phoning family and friends to get the news out. My parents were overjoyed. I was very happy too, but again there was that shadow, that feeling of being left out, left behind.

I had to go back home then and I had a long journey. The trains were disrupted so I had two changes to make, including a walk to another station, then my final train was delayed, arriving late, then sitting in the station for ages as they couldn’t find the driver (!!) And then, driver located, sitting even longer due to signalling problems. We finally set off about 45 minutes after timetable and the journey was long. I got into my city at 9pm, bored, fed up and thoroughly exhausted. I picked up fast food and then scarfed half of it huddled on a seat in the station, then booked a taxi home. I was so glad when I finally got home, just before 10pm. I know public transport is safer, but next time I need to go home I am driving. I feel like I spent the majority of my weekend travelling rather than with my family and cat, and it was very costly to use the trains too. Anyway, I tried to sleep but couldn’t and woke up late and thoroughly unmotivated to go to work.

I admit to maybe a schmidge of jealously – my sisters life is panning out so differently and so much better than my own. Again, that dark shadow, that feeling of being left behind.

But it’s mostly the loss that gets me. My big sister has a life all of her own now, has for a while really, and a huge part of that is separate from me. I know it’s normal and I try to accept it but I miss her. We have always been close. And I have always needed her. But more and more as the years pass I am having to learn to live without her, without her support, without her propping me up. I realise, too late, how dependent I am on her. I don’t want to be needy and annoying but I realise, too late, that I can’t help it. She is my everything. Now she is engaged and I am so happy for her, because she has wanted that for years and I am so happy she found someone nice who makes her happy and whom she wants to spend the rest of her life with. But I am also sad and filled with a complex sense of loss. It’s been a long time since we were children and so much has changed. I have found adulthood difficult and I am feeling so very untethered with my family far away – all of them , my parents, my sister, living in the same area but me in another city – and so…left out. I wish I could talk to my sister about it, I long for her reassurance, but I don’t want to rain on her parade, so I keep it to myself, I will keep it to myself. Like so many other things, honestly. Its very strange being so close to my family, but yet so far.

The One With The New Year

Happy new year!

The first week back at work has been difficult for me, and it was not even a full week as I started on Wednesday. It was a shock to the system to have to get up, get ready and go sit in the office for eight hours. It was a little difficult to concentrate; I felt completely out of it. The office was very quiet and it felt odd and only added to the sense of unreality of it all. A Where am I and what on earth am I doing sort of feeling. I missed lazing in bed and eating too much and doing very little else besides.

Anyway, I was thinking of whether I should do a 2018 year in review or make some goals for 2019. In regard to the review, there is probably little point; I think 2018 passed somewhat in a depressed haze, with moments of joy such as my big trip back home (to South Africa) in February, my staycation in summer and a trip to Scotland with my dad too. (This I sadly forgot to blog about. We had limited connectivity there and I somewhat enjoyed switching off, enjoying nature and spending time with my father.) There were a few smaller things too, off the top of my head I think about a weekend spent looking after my sister’s cat, fun weekends with my sister, and a lovely relaxed Christmas. But the whole being depressed and anxious thing followed me around and filled up the majority of the year, the empty spaces around holidays and fun weekends, the bit with real life and the daily grind, I struggled. I felt very stuck in my sad, anxious and self-critical mindset and am still working my way through that.

Looking forward to 2019 I know that everything will not be magically ok, but I was thinking about what I could do to improve things. I was thinking about the things I would like to achieve this year. I think these goals would look something like this:

Continue to tackle my Anxiety and Depression – keep seeing my therapist, engage with my treatment, take my medication regularly, and do things that will make me calmer and feel more in control (read: less procrastination and panicky self sabotage).

Build my savings and pay off my credit card – continue to work on managing impulsive and emotional spending, basically. Also- continue to work on identifying the difference between need and want, and then really think through my purchases why do I want this and how will I use it. I want to have a proper emergency fund!

Buy a new bed – buy a double bed in particular. I have been sleeping on the same single bed since I was a child and I am also ready to move to a double bed, however I am having some trouble commiting to spending this much money on something I technically don’t need (I have a functioning bed already!) and am also stuck on the logistics of it (Can I manage to make a bed up myself?) If I managed to succeed at the above savings goal though, I’d love to go ahead and get my new bed.

Carry on ‘locally’ travelling – this year I did go abroad once, to South Africa at the beginning of the year. However my other trips were a ‘staycation’ to Northumberland and I also spent a few days in Scotland with my dad. I would like to not go anywhere abroad this year, in line with above savings goal, but definitely still travel a bit. I am contemplating another staycation, am definitly going to Scotland with my dad again, and would like to explore my local area more – I started doing this but as depression took over I…stopped. I have a mental list of gardens, abbeys and areas of countryside I want to go to and I’d like to really commit to going out and seeing them this year. I can’t keep hibernating indoors, wallowing in my depression, after all. And if I explore like this, it should hopefully help me not feel like I’m missing out by not going abroad.

Become better at organising and managing my digital backups (and well, making them in the first place) – I have developed a fairly ok system for my paperwork over the past couple of years, next I want to develop a system for my photos and other important bits. I have sort of started but very half heartedly and my harddrives are still too messy for my liking. I also need sort out all the photos on my phone and get them backed up. (Does anyone else find themselves with a huge “Camera” folder of unsorted pictures just floating around your internal storage/SD card and clogging up space? Just me?)

Of course, nothing is set in stone. Who knows what 2019 will bring and if events will allow for the above to happen. But these are the things on my mind, and these are the intentions I’ll start my year off with. If I start well, hopefully I can end well no matter what happens.

The One With Christmas

Christmas has been strange this year. My father is in South Africa right now which left my mom, my sister, my sister’s cat and myself to celebrate by ourselves.

I finished up work for the year on the 20th, and on the 21st I spent a lazy day in my flat doing far less chores than I should have. The next day I went into town to meet my mom, who I had managed to persuade to come visit me to help me clean up the flat for the new year, and keep me company on the drive back to my parents house. My mom and I spent several hours shopping, then went back to the flat to clean and organise. Sunday, more cleaning and organising before a (thankfully) uneventful drive back. There were a lot of cars on the road but fortunately no traffic and we made good time. (I still can’t quite get used to motorway driving, feel nervy and on edge, so my mom was welcome company.) We needed a few more food items for Christmas, so we stopped at the supermarket on the way, which maybe we shouldn’t have done as it was heaving with people. We ended up queuing down the aisle for a till. It can’t be much fun to be working in retail at this time of year.

Once we had our items we could finish our journey home. The next day was lazy, spent waiting for my sister (and cat) to arrive. Finally, Christmas day itself was much better than expected. We opened presents, then my mom made lunch and I made dessert. My mom put in a lot of effort to get everything right; my dad usually does the cooking on Christmas day. Lunch was delicious and overly filling, as it should be, and we had to squeeze pudding into our pudding stomaches, which is also how it should be. (I successfully made an apple crumble, a simple but effective dessert.) After lunch we all just relaxed and boxing day was much the same. I have not left the house, have been living in my pajamas, and have eaten far too much chocolate and biscuits. Am still doing so, if I’m honest. It’s been nice. There has been minimal arguing and we even spent some time playing games with each other without it ending in bloodshed. My dad meanwhile has had a great Christmas with his mom and siblings. I feel happy that he managed to do that, and happy with how Christmas turned out here, but I did miss him and I worry he will worry that we had a better Christmas without him.

My dad comes home tonight and we will have a mini Christmas again, giving him his presents and receiving ours from our family. I’m excited to see him.

The days are somewhat blending into each other, time ceasing to matter so much when you have nothing to do and nowhere to go, but I am faintly aware that the end of the year is approaching and with it, the return to work. I am not sure how I feel about either. This year has been terrible, with my anxiety still awful and the added bonus of the return of my depression. A lot has been happening this year, especially in work, and it’s been tough. I know that the new year is no magic switch, but I wish for a 360 change. One moment everything bad, but then suddenly! The year changes to 2019 and everything is better. There is also a big part of me that wants to stay frozen where I am, in my parents house, being looked after by my mom, living in my pajamas, not leaving the house and having no responsibilities. I know this is childish.

I hope you all had a pleasant Christmas if you celebrate, or a pleasant winter break otherwise.

PS. I renewed my domain for another two years today. I was contemplating not, but I still like my little blog and am willing to see how far I’ll take it (I am definitely past the “10 years blogging” mark, so basically myself and my blog are a bit of a dinosaur by this point. Oh well. This has always been my random little corner of the internet and that is how it shall continue on.)