Friday, 18 August 2017

Mental Health on Others

So I’ve talked a lot on this blog about how my mental health affects me – obviously because I can really only talk about my own experience but today I want to discuss how my mental health affects those around me, or rather how I believe my mental health affects others. Some may be true and some may be my brain just taking things further or making stuff up. So take this post with a grain of salt. I just wanted to talk about it as how mental health affects those around us isn’t talked about very often.

They get disappointed
Sometimes words aren’t spoken. Sometimes they are and it can become obvious that you’re disappointing people. Something which, in turn, often makes my Depression worse. Sentences such as “just eat it”, “just get over it”, or huffs and sighs are big neon signs that people are disappointed and frankly a little fed up.

They don’t understand
As much as they say they do, unless they have experienced something similar, they just struggle to comprehend what you’re actually going through. This especially happens when they downplay what is happening to you. “It’s just OCD”  “Yeah, I have to have my stuff tidy, I’m OCD too.”, “oh my god, do you really need to wash your hands again?”

They forget
We’re all human so it’s obviously fine, you’re not going to be in the forefront of their mind forever but sometimes they might stick their hand in your crisp packet or mention something really gross about germs or take you to an overly crowded place and just simply forget that it changes everything for you. They never do it to be mean but it can be the start of a chain reaction when it happens.

They worry about you
Maybe they say the words. Maybe they don’t but it’s just a look in their eye or constantly asking if you’re okay but it’s obvious that they’re worrying and just want to do what they can to make you feel better. Often feeling at a loss when there is nothing they can do, not realising that just by being there, they’re already helping.

They help you
Some people do and some people don’t and I think it really depends. I’ve had mini moments where I’ve done something outside of my comfort zone and no one says anything and it is the best feeling in the world because if someone was to point it out, it would make me feel uncomfortable. Other times people might let you take food from the buffet first or offer you hand sanitizer or open doors for you. Small gestures that mean a million to someone who is struggling internally.

They love you
This is the one to always remember. Even when people seem like they’re getting frustrated with you. Lately my mental health has been getting really bad – to the point where I am seriously considering upping my meds – and the one thing keeping me going is knowing that I have people who love me. People who will tell me that my brain is telling me horrid thoughts that aren’t true and will get fed up with you but won’t disappear either. Because they care, they worry. Because the love you, they just want to make sure that you’re okay.

So don’t forget that while it seems like you might be alone, you are never truly alone with mental health. I promise x



Friday, 11 August 2017

Getting Ready to Swim

If you've been following Safe Space for a while or been following my personal blog then you'll know that I've been struggling for the past few years and that due to it exercise went straight out of the window. Fortunately, I am pleased to announce that last week I finally managed to make it to the swimming pool - and I even managed to conquer 32 lengths before calling it a day! Needless to say I was pretty ecstatic after that swim.

But that's actually not what I want to talk about today - I'm sure I'll give you the low down on how my active-ness is coming along in a few weeks time. Instead today I want to talk about the Swimming Pool Changing Rooms.

For this swim I ended up going to a swimming pool that I had never used before and the very first thing I noticed when I walked into the changing room was that there were no individual changing facilities (that I could see anyway). Instantly I felt like turning around and asking for a refund. I did not feel comfortable and my anxieties flared up like crazy. The only thing that kept me walking into the changing room was the desire to swim. I just had to get past the beginning step.

The problem is that I have no body confidence. I barely like being naked in front of myself, let alone in front of a room full of strangers. And yet all around me women were standing with their breasts hanging out while they got changed. They were doing all of this while holding conversations with their friends too.

And it is something I have never felt comfortable with and yet I know quite a few swimming pools don't have individual changing rooms. I just don't understand how you could feel comfortable stark naked in front of a bunch of strangers? Obviously no one will be explicitly looking at you - I hope - but how is it possible to just let it all hang out there and not worry?

This is the catch for me.

I hate my body. I worry about my body. But mostly I feel awkward, ugly and hate everything about my nakedness. I have a zillion stretch marks from puberty and gaining too much weight too quickly. Plus baggy skin and rolls of flesh that just flop everywhere and I'm not even going to get started on my breasts but let's just say I love bras. I love covering up my breasts and holding them in place. No one wants to see my breasts free - I am sure of it.

So I guess I want to understand how it's possible to just be free to get naked and shower and change in a women only changing room. Is it something I can learn to get used to or is it something that some people are just good at?

I remember at secondary school when we had PE that some of the females in my year group wouldn't exactly strip to nude but they'd be happy to whip tops and skirts off and parade around in their underwear while I did that shorts on underneath skirt before skirt comes off sort of changing.

Was this where I went wrong? If I had just stripped down to my underwear freely as a teenager, would I be more comfortable in a swimming pool changing room today?

Honestly I have no idea and even more honestly, I'm not sure I ever want to be comfortable in that environment.

What about you? Are you like me or are you comfortable being naked around other women? And do you have any advice for me?


Friday, 4 August 2017

Thanks for the Memories

When one door closes, another opens.

There will always be light at the end of the tunnel.

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.

You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.

In case you are somehow unaware of the fact; break ups suck. Be they break ups out of a relationship or a friendship. Some part of your soul gets a little bit crushed and it can sometimes be hard to see a way out of the darkness that suddenly surrounds you.

Recently I let one of my friends go. That's the easiest way to describe it. Things between us had been strained for a while and after a lot of thinking, I made the decision that the hurt I was feeling, was not okay. I shouldn't have to feel this way. Friends should be there for each other, ready to shoulder us, to let us shoulder them, to protect us and to love us. Friendships should be easy. Yes, there may be fights and arguments but there should also be love and fun and happiness.

When that stops, when things turn sour, it's time to just move on. It doesn't mean that I no longer care. It doesn't mean that I regret my decision. But it does mean that I've decided enough is enough. It means that I realize that our friendship had run it's course and it was time to start on a new journey.

I know letting someone go is not easy. But you have to be willing to lose someone else before losing yourself.

Moving on isn't about not loving someone anymore and forgetting them. It's about having the strength to say I still love you, but you're not worth this pain. 

But I don't like dwelling on the negatives, so today I wanted to write a little post - which I'm sure this friend will never even see - that is about how even though we're no longer friends, I'm glad we were. I'm glad that I got close to you and that we got to spend some time together. I'm glad that we had fun and we had laughter, we had tears and we had hugs. Our friendship was a good one and one that helped me out a lot and one that I truly treasured - and in some respects always will.

I'm sorry that it's over now. I'm sorry that we couldn't make it work. But I know that where we are now is the best decision for us. I hope that the future for you will be bright. I hope that you get closer to the friends you have and create new friendships with other wonderful people who help to lift your spirit and keep you smiling. I wish you the best in life. I always have.

So thank you. Thank you for being my friend and for letting me share some time in your life. Thank you for spending some time in mine. We had some good times together that I will always remember fondly. And I will do that. I will remember the good times, not the bad times. Because I know we never meant to hurt each other. We did and it's done but maybe we can both just continue on with our lives now, learning to be better and loving others in a way we no longer can love each other.

Thank you for the memories.


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Acceptance

Hello, my name is Georgia.

I'm sixteen-years-old, living in London, and I'm soon to start my A Level courses (*weeps*). I like binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, badly dancing around to the Hamilton soundtrack and drinking all the tea that I can. Oh, and I'm also gay. I hope you don't mind that.

I was thirteen-years-old when I suddenly developed this crush on a girl in my Year at school, and I was terrified. This was my first major crush, and it was on a girl. I was terrified. I didn't know what to do or who to speak to. Homophobia was a very big problem at my school, and in some cases, it still is. I knew someone who was badly bullied at my school for who they were, they were thrown down the stairs, spat at, verbally abused, etc, to the point that they had no option but to leave the school. Seeing this frightened me, I was already being bullied by a group of girls in my Year, and if I went to somebody about my thoughts and feelings I feared that my bullying would worsen. So for two years, I pretended to be someone I was not, and it made me miserable. I was desperate to fit in. In this space of time, I dated a couple of guys, not because I had a crush on them, but because I still feared what could happen to me if anyone found out that I liked girls. I know that sounds unfair and selfish, but I was suppressing these feelings because then I could be seen as "normal" in the eyes of my peers.

A year later or so, I decided to talk to one of my friends about this crush that I had. He replied saying: "Well, you can't be gay, you've never dated a girl in your life. You're being silly". He then later added: "you might be bisexual". After that, he walked away, and never really spoke to me again afterwards. I nearly cried. I thought that I could trust this person, that they would give me helpful advice, but instead, they came off rude and spaced themselves away from me. It took me several more months to come out to my best friend, who was actually happy about who I was. This gave me some confidence about being proud of my sexuality, and I slowly began to label myself as gay. It was during this period of time where I came out to my main friendship group. where I had found that most of my friends were in the Community themselves. Then I found Youtubes, Dodie Clark, Miles Mckenna and MacDoesIt. All three of these YouTubers are in the Community, Dodie is bisexual, Miles is trans* and Mac is gay. The best thing that I found about these people was that they open about their sexuality and they celebrated that. Seeing this made me so, so happy because it inspired me so much. These LGBT* YouTubers allowed me to accept who I was at a much quicker rate, their videos were so inspiring to watch, and their positive vibes were reflected onto me the more I watched them.

Image result for lgbtSo by late 2016, I had fully accepted the fact that I was gay, and that fear that consumed me and controlled me melted away. For the very first time, I embraced my sexuality with open arms. So in December 2016, I came out to the girls that I had grown up with, and that I was close to. They were overjoyed. But other people started to learn about my sexuality. some didn't care...and others were not happy, let's say. After Christmas break, I experienced my first bout of homophobia. I was getting changed for my PE lesson, where it was only me, a few of my mates and two girls who never really liked me. When my mates had left the changing room, these two girls came up to my face and started to say some horrible things. They went on to call me a "dirty f**king gay", and some worse things, and then they shoved me into the pegs. I left the changing room quite quickly, and I sat in the hall with my friends. A little bit later on, I had a basketball repeatedly thrown at my by a boy. When my friend sprung to my defence, the boy said that he was doing me a favour as he thought he could "beat the gay out of (me)". Needless to say, I was utterly shocked by this.

Around April time, I had to write a speech and present it to the front of my class so that I was allowed to take my English GCSE. It could be about any topic, so I decided to write about my experiences with homophobia. When it came to presenting this speech, I was nervous, but I knew that people needed to know the severity of homophobia. By the time I had finished the speech, I had people come up to me telling me they never knew that homophobia was that big of a problem. My English teacher told me that she was proud of that speech and that I should be proud too. And I was.

If I could go back in time and tell 'lil ol' self that I'm an idiot for hiding from my true self, I would. I was miserable for those years, and now I'm happy with who I am. I get homophobic comments directed towards me every now and again, but I've learnt to ignore them. It took me so long to accept who I was, and if anyone thinks that they can make me feel any different, they are wrong. No-one, and I mean no-one will ever make me feel bad about my sexuality. I'd like to live in a world where homophobia was a thing of the past, and that it doesn't matter how a person identifies, but at the moment, that future is just out of reach. There is no reason to hate someone based on how they identify because, after all, we are all made of the same flesh and blood.


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Friday, 21 July 2017

You're a Weakling

You're weak. The weaker sex. Weak in mind. Weak in everything. You can't even open a bottle of water. Life is about survival of the fittest, weaklings don't survive. What is the point to you?

These are thoughts that have been whirring through my brain for the last few years. Despite the fact that I knew I wasn't well, despite knowing that my lack of strength wasn't entirely my fault, my brain liked to convince me otherwise. And the problem is that the longer my brain poked at me and told me that I was, essentially, a pathetic human being, the weaker I felt myself becoming. I didn't want to fight the voice any longer. I didn't want to survive much longer either.

And this is just one of the issues I have with my brain. Sometimes it can be a struggle to get out of bed. And one point it was because my body was physically unable, sometimes it is because my brain made it emotionally impossible for me to gather up the motivation.

Yet through it all, I still tried to convince myself that I wasn't that weak. Growing up, a lot of my personality stemmed around the fact that I was strong. Not mentally because I don't think I've ever been mentally strong. But physically. I was the one in our female only household who could open the tough jars, the one who could carry the heaviest items. I helped at school doing the things with the boys that some of the girls shied away with. My strength and my muscles made me feel less conscious of my weight. I wasn't just overweight I told myself, I was also overweight because of my muscles that made me strong and capable. 

I never wanted to be one of the men and I never wanted to be one of the strongest women ever, but I was proud of the fact that I wasn't weak. 

So becoming weak has definitely taken it's toll on me. 

It didn't occur to me until recently just how weak my body has become though. After being physically ill for over two years and still not doing much strength exercising, I am at a point where I can barely carry a handful of books without it hurting my arms. And it sucks. 

It occured to me the most when I was moving my furniture and my little sister who was always weaker than me was able to carry items effortlessly whereas I stood with arms shaking and sweat pouring out of my skin, barely able to keep holding on. 

And then on holiday when I went to Go Ape and didn't have the strength to lift myself up over some of the obstacles or even keep myself in a sitting position for a small portion of time. 

My physical strength has gone and it is going to take a lot of emotional strength for me to get it back up to speed. Now that I am feeling better - albeit that's a swinging roundabout at the moment - it is time for me to start getting my strength back. It's going to be a tough and long uphill battle. It is the longest time I've ever gone without properly exercising but I can do it, right?

So every day I am going to wake up and tell my brain that it is wrong. 

I am not a weakling, I am weak today but I will be strong again. You just wait and see.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Being a Mum with Birth Trauma Related PTSD

In a couple of weeks my son will turn six. It's a time of year that brings up mixed feelings for me. He got so big and he is growing so fast! I enjoy seeing and sharing in his birthday excitement: the joy of him opening gifts, eating cake, having parties with his friends and family, and being the centre of attention. But, it is also a time of sadness and reflection. It's normal, I think, to to be a little nostalgc on your child's birthday. I know people who do this; my Nana enjoys telling me each year about how she remembers the very first time she held me.
 
For me, it is different. My reflections are more specific: 
 
  • Midnight: this time 6 years ago I was in hospital
  • 11am: this time 6 years ago they took me to theatre
  • 11.08am: this time 6 years ago he was born
  • 11.12am: this time 6 years ago he took his first breath
  • 1.45 pm: I made it out of theatre
  • 24 hours later: I held him for the first time
 
Some years, the memories have been overwhelming, the nightmares in the build up to the event focusing on giving birth all over again but never getting my baby. Other years, I have obsessed over what I remember and what I have been told, and the gaps in my own memory terrify me. One year, I tried to hold my breath for the 4 and a half minutes it took him to breathe to see if it was possible (spoiler: is isn't). I can lose hours to just staring and remembering, or trying to; running the story over and over in my head until I make some sense out of it, or asking ridiculous questions of my husband. 
 
I suffer from birth trauma related PTSD. I promise that's a real thing. I've had many people suggest to me that PTSD isn't something you get from giving birth- after all childbirth is completely natural and wonderful and women do it every day. They do. But for some women it is horrific, terrifying and as far from natural as you could possibly imagine. I'm one of those women (if you want to read more about it, I've posted on my own blog here and here). 
 
I've been told that I shouldn't dwell on these things, as though it is entirely within my control. Being a mum with a mental health difficulty (particularly one surrounding your child's birth), seems to open you up to a lot of criticism and judgement (mainly from other mums). Because you are a mum you are supposed to be perfect, you are supposed to think all things related to your child are the best things to ever happen to you, and you are supposed to constantly feel #soblessed. 
 
I've had many people say to me:
 
  • You'd do it all again though, wouldn't you?
  • At least you're both alive.
  • You have a child now, this isn't about you. 
 
To respond in order: no, I would not; that's great but it doesn't change my feelings; I complained about that particular midwife. 
 
Let me be clear: I don't want to dwell on these things. I want to enjoy being a mother without the upsetting memories. I want to celebrate my friends' pregnancies without fearing for them; I want to celebrate births without feeling a stab in the heart of envy and grief for the happiness we didn't get; I want to not feel guilty and second guess all the parenting decisions I made in the early days. I want to be completely okay and happy with the fact that I will only ever have my one child. I want to not care what other people think about this. 
 
My child is one of the best things to have happened in my life, but his birth is the worst.  
 
 
I am learning to separate these things, and I wish others would too. 

----

I am Charlotte, Somewhere: wife, mother, cocker spaniel owner and someday Queen of the Universe. I can almost always be found with my face in a book and a coffee in hand. When I'm not reading, I also like writing, knitting, crafty things, baking, eating, walking, taking photos, watching traumatising medical dramas and nurturing a close relationship with my sofa and blankets.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Another Year Further Away

Friday it was my birthday. It's not often something I shout out about and so this post is an odd one for me. Personally I very much dislike being the centre of attention. I much prefer hiding away in the background and just nodding along rather than having everyone look at me. I like the parties and gathering with friends and family to celebrate but only when all eyes and attention isn't stone focused on me. I thought I might grow out of this as I got older but no. So instead I use my birthday as a day to just enjoy being me. Whatever that means. This year it means I am on the last day of my holiday and I am treating myself to food made for me, lunch with my family and then an evening meal out with a handful of friends. Because that is what I wanted to do. And that is the only thing about birthdays that I like.

It is my day to do what I like and everyone just accepts that. 

But that is not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about how I am now 27 and life isn't exactly going to "plan" and how I've come to terms with it - sort of.

When I was a naive teenager and we talked about THE FUTURE, I was always sure that at 25 I would have a child. Not the normal way mind you - I have NEVER wanted to be pregnant - but I imagined that I would have adopted by now and be all settled down and enjoying life and looking after a loved one. I also believed that I would be with a guy and that we would be close if not actually married. Of course, I was just sixteen and unaware of what would happen but all I can think now is how far away I am from those things happening.

So far away in fact that I'm starting to wonder if they'll ever happen.

I still want a child or two and I still want to adopt. But because I want to adopt and not just have a baby the natural way, I know that it will be so much harder to do. I will have to prove that I am a GOOD person and that I am financially stable and that I can keep a roof over their heads. I have to show that I am basically not going to fuck up the childs life. And doing all of this without a partner? Yeah, I'll have to work twice as hard.

And at the moment I am so NOT READY for that. As you may have read last week, I just moved back to my mums so I am certainly not able to provide a roof for a child. I am also working two jobs in two towns that are TWO HOURS away from each other. I can't exactly continue doing that if I want a kid. And I cannot even fathom being financially stable. In this climax where it is staggeringly hard to get a job with a decent income to cover the expenses of ONE person let alone TWO just seems impossible in this financial climate. And if I can't keep my own head above the water, I certainly don't want to bring a child into the mix.

So yeah, the kid or kids will definitely not be happening soon. At the moment I can't even forsee it happening in the next three years which is actually making me pretty sad to think about.

Then there's the partner. As you may know, I am an asexual. Which should not effect my relationships but it does but because I don't feel COMFORTABLE with the idea of being in a relationship. I've always told myself that I just need to feel more settled in my life and then I can focus on the other half but now I'm worried I'll never be settled but also that it has been SO LONG since I was last in a relationship that I won't be a good girlfriend anyway. I like my independence and freedom too much to even imagine someone else filling a room. I want to find love, I do. But I also feel like I don't need it to complete me. So I'm not exactly LOOKING. So who knows if that will ever happen. And then when it does, how do I let them down by admitting that I will never want sex. Who would want a partner like that?

So yeah, no marriage on the horizon either. (Although I also don't know anymore that I even want to get married anyway)

So none of my plans have happened.

I am 27 and I am living with my mum. I am 27 and I don't have a career. I am 27 and I have no savings. 

But I am also 27 and enjoying my independence and freedom. I am 27 and I have my own business. I am 27 and I am more or less happy. 

I am 27 and I have hopes for the future.

So I'm not where I wanted or expected to be but that's okay because I'm still alive and I'm still on a journey and I am sure that one day things will come together. Maybe not as I always imagined, but maybe it'll be better.


Friday, 7 July 2017

Moving House with OCD and Anxieties

If you've been keeping an eye on my twitter lately than you may have noticed that I recently moved house. I knew that this was going to be tough. As someone with OCD and anxiety, change is not easy for me to deal with. But I didn't quite realise just how difficult everything was going to be. I've been putting on a brave face in front of people, because even though I know my mental health does not make me weak, it still makes me feel weak. But in all honesty, this past month I have struggled more than I have in a very long time. It was enough to make me wonder if my meds weren't strong enough.

I want to say that one of the saving graces was that I was moving back to my mum's house but I think actually this made everything - mental health wise at least - that little bit worse. Because as much as I love my mum and my sister and my step dad, living with them is a very different thing. More than that, I know that they know I have issues but they're very much "get over it" people as opposed to "it's okay" people. Which is obviously difficult but totally fine because I know they love me. But living in that environment is quite different to living more or less alone

So my brain has had to get used to this and I'm feeling a bit better. Being in the house has definitely made me realise that if things get too much, I can just escape to my bedroom. While we do like to spend time as a family, we are all also very considerate to know that alone time is okay too. And this has helped me to calm my OCD and anxieties about moving home.

But with moving home also came getting rid of stuff. I really wanted to move from my shared flat to my own flat. Then I could have taken all of my belongings with me and it would have been fine. Instead I had to downsize. I moved from a fairly decent sized single (it could have fit a double bed in it) room into what is essentially a box room. It is literally a square room. The length of a single bed, the width of a single bed. This meant that I couldn't have all the furniture I once had. (Bed, bedside cabinet, desk, two bookcases, chest of drawers, double wardrobe) I now have a bed, bedside cabinet, one bookcase, chest of drawers and have since purchased some more plastic storage drawers - NO wardrobe). With less furniture comes less space to store my belongings.

And thus, for the last month and a bit I have had to go through everything I own and decide if I want to keep it or throw it away. And I know for someone without mental health issues this can be tough, so for me it was horrid. It took me longer than it should have because I kept having to stop to collect my thoughts and ground myself. Remind myself that it is okay to get rid of things. That they would be going to better places, potentially helping someone else who needs them.

In the end it took four trips to the recycling centre to get rid of all of the stuff I had to dispose of. Plus it has taken a lot of trips to the post office to send out book post to friends and bloggers and quite a few trips to charity shops to get rid of the rest. Heartbreaking isn't really a big enough word to describe my feelings on it all. I keep panicking that I've made a huge mistake. What if I got rid of the wrong books? What if I got rid of something I really need?

But aside from just the packing and chucking, there was also a massive issue with the actual move. As you may have noticed I took some of my furniture with me to my mums but I wasn't able to sort this on my own. In fact, I didn't really move any of my stuff on my own because ever since getting ill but strength has been sapped away from me. (more on that later, I'm sure), and so I had to enlist people to help. Which is normal and should have been fine, right?

Except it wasn't. Because watching someone else carry my things, no matter how careful they were with them, was soul crushing. My control was gone and I wanted to just sit and cry. I felt uncomfortable and lost. It was so, so difficult. It had to be done but I think a part of me felt like it was dying inside.

Now I have a room that is mostly finished. Most of the boxes have been unpacked and my things have been given new places to live and it feels like mine and me and I like waking up in the morning - and the cats being around is also definitely nice - but there's still a part of me that is devastated that it's not the place I woke up in for the last three years nor that it is my own new place.

As far as I'm concerned, I've gone backwards.

But what is ultimately worse is that the move has been so stressful and soul wrenching that I don't know when I'm going to be ready to do it again. I know I have to because I do not want to live with my mum forever but as much as I don't want to still be there a year from today, I also don't want to have to go through all of this again in a few months time.

For now, I guess I just need to wait and see how it goes. To try and just let myself get settled in the place I'm in and go from there.

I still don't feel okay within myself but maybe one day soon I will be.


Friday, 23 June 2017

Sweating All Over the Place

Hey... did you guys notice that it was pretty hot in England this week?

Even if you weren't in the country, due to our national notoriety of complaining you probably heard about it. But hey, we don't get heatwaves very often so we're allowed to complain, right?

Did you also know that when the weather is hot, our bodies get hot and then this weird thinks happen where water just comes pouring out of our pores? You know... we sweat

You may find this a bizarre concept, especially if you are female because as females, it is not socially acceptable to sweat. This is not something we do. We are ladies

Yuck.

This is what I want to talk about today and maybe it's just me but I have noticed while growing up and definitely this week that talking about how much I'm sweating is considered not socially okay. Like, as a female I should just deal with it and be y'know, proper about it all.

But I noticed that as my male colleagues had to wear more clothes then us - oh double standards, how you suck - it was perfectly acceptable for them to sweat. 

But it's more than that really

Because a male can be sweaty on the back or under the arms and while it's not exactly nice, no one comments on it. But if as a female you have visible sweat patches, it will always be pointed out. ("Oh, aren't you wearing any anti-deodorant today?", "Best go change your top if you can") [Also notice how this is most often a female talking to another female?!?]

Why is this?

It is a natural process that happens to all humans so why do women get treated worse when they visible sweat or even mention sweating in a conversation. It was hot and simply sitting in a chair in my non-air conditioned room made me sweat like crazy but to admit it out loud felt massively taboo and it has irked me a little bit.

So here's my statement to the world.

THIS WEEK I SWEATED OUT BUCKETS OF WATER.
And that is totally okay by me. 

Do you feel the same or am I just being pernickety?


Friday, 16 June 2017

A Year Later...

This time last year, more or less, I officially came out of the closet and so today to celebrate #Pride2017, I wanted to write a little something about how my life has changed and not changed since I posted this post last year.

For the most part, nothing much has changed - as it shouldn't. I still have good friends. I still go to work. I am, essentially, still me.

But also, there has been quite a lot that has changed. Mostly for the better too! Yay!

The one thing that I can definitely say with absolute certainty is that I do not regret coming out last year.

In The Past Year:

The Good:
  • I have felt more comfortable in my skin. Knowing who I am inside and why I am the way I am has really helped to make me feel more comfortable on the outside. I may live in a society obsessed with sex but I am not and that is totally okay.
  • I find it easier to talk about my asexuality with other people - including strangers and work colleagues! Recently I've brought it up to a few of my new colleagues just casually in conversation and if they already know about it they let it slide but I did have one person ask and she was totally cool with my response. I educated someone about it which was fantastic!
  • I find it is easier to ask if conversations about sex could not happen around me. Not that I dislike talk about it but sometimes just thinking about my friends having sex makes me feel a bit uncomfortable! - Sorry guys!
  • There are a few more fun in jokes with my friends which makes me feel more included and happy - which is never a bad thing.
  • When I got so little judgement, it made me feel safe and happy. My sexuality is my sexuality and at the end of the day, if it doesn't affect your way of life, why should you judge? 
  • I've been trying to read and watch more books and shows with good ace rep. I've not been hugely successful yet but hopefully one day!

The Bad:
  • I still sometimes feel like there is something wrong with me. Why don't I want to have sex? Should I just do it to get it over with? I know these are mostly silly thoughts but society doesn't always make it easy to be "different".
  • I still struggle to see myself in a relationship with anyone because I am overly anxious about the sex side of things. I don't want to force someone to not have sex but I would also want someone to be faithful to me so how would that ever work?
  • I have recently been thinking about being a teenager and remembering that I used to want to be a nun because even though I was an atheist, I knew that as a nun it would be socially acceptable not to have sex. I still don't think it's truly socially acceptable and that hurts inside.
  • While I have come out to the internet, my friends and colleagues, I have yet to be able to face my family with the news. As far as I can tell, they just wouldn't understand and just assume I hadn't found the right person yet or that I would feel differently once I'd had sex. And I just don't want to feel so disheartened by those who are that close to me.

So it's been a rocky year but I'm hoping that those bad points will, at some point in the future, disappear entirely. 

The one thing that has not changed and will never change is that I am PROUD to be an ASEXUAL.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

We are strong against terrorism

We are all born into this world without being knowledgeable: we are brought into this world without being spiteful and we are certainly not quick to judge others. It is only as we begin to grow into adults where we learn to become prejudice, even cruel to each other. Rather than being compassionate we, as humans, tend to show more hate in certain circumstances. In light of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London, I thought that it would be important and appropriate for me to write this post.

The Oxford Dictionary describes terrorism as "the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims", it is a way of dividing people to perhaps control them. Terrorists want to create widespread fear, but from the recent attacks, the UK did the contrary: we united together in hope. Whilst both attacks have caused much grief among families and friends, people in Manchester and London came together to help those in need. In Manchester, strangers were offering victims a place to stay for the night, and taxi drivers helped families look for loved ones who were at the concert - in London, people tried to save the lives of those who were either hit by the van or were stabbed. If we had let fear consume and control us all, we wouldn't run into danger helping those who are injured. These 'terrorists' think that they can divide us, weaken us even - but we stand strong. I think that this was especially highlighted in the 'One Love Manchester' concert that Ariana Grande held in memory of those who were unfortunately killed or severely injured in the attack. Even in London, everyone came together to hold a moment of silence for those who were unnecessarily killed in the London Bridge attack. Seeing people unite together brought hope back into my heart in this dark time, and hope, as well as love, is all we need - not hate.

I had briefly met one of the victims of the Manchester attack at an event in 2016. Her name was Georgina and she was eighteen-years-old when she had her future taken from her. When I found out that she was one of the victims, my heart broke - and it broke even more after more victims were announced, especially when the youngest victim was eight. All of the victims had their futures taken from them in an awful attack that shouldn't have even happened, may they all be resting in Heaven
peacefully.

But this leads me on to another thing: Islamophobia. More and more people have started to become more malicious towards Muslims, as there has been a sudden rise in prejudice against them. Just because one is Muslim, doesn't mean that they are a member of so-called ISIS or that they are a terrorist themselves. They are ordinary people who do not deserve to have insults or violence directed at them - and as Rameza Bhatti from Huffpost states "just because this man calls himself a Muslim, and probably has a beard, doesn’t mean that he is practising Islam. Just because he cries “Allah is great” before committing a bloody attack, doesn’t mean he represents (her) religion". We should all try to eradicate this prejudice against Muslims because Islam does not mean terrorism. 

To sum up, we all need to unite together in these dark times to show these 'terrorists' that whilst their attacks are immoral, we stand strong together unafraid. Be safe and be aware.

I think it is also appropriate to include this song by Todrick Hall, as I think it sums up my main feelings about terrorism, and it fits in with the message of this post.




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Friday, 2 June 2017

I Feel Like a Woman

Over the last week I started reading The Gender Games by Juno Dawson (I'll be reviewing it on my blog on Monday so keep an eye out!) and as I was reading, I was suddenly overwhelmed with thoughts and thus I decided that I needed to write them down, which is what I am trying to do in this post here.

This is NOT a review of the book.

This is NOT a comment on any of the contents in the book either.

It is merely a post that was inspired by the book. Because as I was reading it, it felt like someone was talking directly to me and telling me things that I needed to hear, for years. It is everything I have known deep down but haven't really been able to put into words myself.

And that is how I feel about being a female. 

In my bio it says: "for a large part of my life, I've felt different from the majority of the female population" - this is still so true and I wanted to use this blog to explore these feelings. And then I stumbled across this book and it suddenly makes sense.

I have always known very firmly that I am a woman. There is absolutely nothing inside me that wants to be a man.

BUT

I do not feel like a female.

And as Juno Dawson explains much better than I ever could, what I mean by this is that I do not feel like the society construct of a female. I do not fit in with the terms that are used to describe being feminine.

- girlish
- make-up lover
- emotional
- sweet
- cute
- likes dresses and skirts
- likes fashion
- likes gossip

And so on and so forth.

Instead I like to believe that I'm not exactly boyish but I do believe I have a lot of "male" qualities to my personality.

But these things are only male qualities because society says they are. They are not what actually makes you a man.

And thus I feel a little better within myself. Because maybe I won't be accepted by society but I am accepted by my friends and I now understand myself further. Having male quirks to my personality doesn't make me a man or even make me close to being a man, it simply means that I am who I am.

And I'm pretty much okay with that.

So thank you Juno for helping me to realize that there is nothing wrong with me - or anyone else for that matter.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Knowing Your Limits

They say in order to grow you should be testing your limits, pushing yourself forward, outside of your comfort zone.


But what is there to be said for knowing your limits?

For me, limits have been a tricky business these last couple of years. I couldn’t ignore my diagnosis of my chronic illness, but I didn’t want it to hold me back either. So, I would test just how far I could go without it rolling out a huge STOP sign in the way of my plans. And whilst I was on medication; that was sometimes higher than at other times. But, I learnt quickly – especially when I was under the weather, under pressure, or even just in a low mood - I would feel the full brunt of my disease holding up the STOP sign earlier than I’d anticipated.

I would test myself. I would see how far I could go. I would try and see how much I could take before the risks were outweighing the benefits. And this is something I would continue to do for years. It would be my way of playing a little game with my illness, to be so determined to not let it hold me back. But, in reality, I needed my disease to kick off and tell me to slow down or stop. I needed to control me in that particular way.

Why, I hear you ask?

I needed limits.


Whilst being on medication and without any surgical intervention; my limits became the symptoms that my disease was angry: Fatigue. Lack of appetite. Bad bowels. Joint pains. Nausea. Sickness. Depression. Not all of these things were solvable by pulling back and slowing down; they were big signs that my disease was planning a big attack in the near future, but me listening then, I would buy myself some time.

The tiredness, the fatigue; that was the worst. And it still is now; after coming off medication since surgery, I have to say, I still get the fatigue hit me like a sack of anything.

But in the years between learning to cope with my illness and present day post-operative, I’ve taken some good advice: SELF CARE.

By practicing self-care, I know where my limits safety are. I know where I feel most comfortable and where I am most at ease. It is where I can do what I am capable of and some of the extra things I like doing: like blogging, alongside something such as working. It has been about balance and compromise. It has been a listening and responding aspect on my life I never really considered much when I wasn’t chronically ill. That is one of the silver linings of being ill, I suppose.

Lately, I’ve been ignoring my limits. Which has meant that, despite all my good intentions and well laid plans, I’ve burnt myself out abit and gotten into a mess. And this particular mess has been a partial blockage. I’ve come out the other side realising that my current lifestyle needs some alterations so that I can continue to do what I love but also do what I need to do too. It is not something I feel fantastically happy about – admitting defeat is something I hate doing – but! I know it will help me fulfil my working life potential. I have realised too that making mistakes whilst living with an ostomy – and mine is not even a year old yet – is part of this new life as an ostomate. But being a good, proactive and resourceful patient has helped in more ways lately, than ever before.

So, knowing your limits... that’s important as pushing myself beyond them.



Friday, 26 May 2017

Turning 25: 25 things I Wish I'd Known At 15

In exactly a month's time, I’ll officially be a quarter of a century old. 


Over the years, i've lost track of how many times I wanted life to come with instructions (or a rewind button!) Since neither of these things exist... yet... I thought i'd write a brief list of things I wish i'd known at 15.

1. If you use the internet to self-diagnose, Google will insist you buy a gravestone for your mild        
    headache.
2. Don’t even try to wear high heels – your ankles will fail you.
3. Panic attacks pass. Even when they feel like they won’t, they always end.
4. You shouldn’t have to convince someone to want you in their life. Walk away.
5. Fish is rancid - why on earth do you keep trying sushi?
6. Stop buying so many books and never getting around to reading them!!!
7.  Don’t believe the whole ‘first year doesn’t mean anything’ mantra at uni – use it to get a leg up, go      to academic support, while everyone else is being scraped off the floor at Ocean nightclub.
8. Stay up-to-date with politics. And always vote. Women died so you could vote.
9. Don’t walk by a homeless person without offering to buy them a drink and something to eat.
10. Trust your gut. It’s usually right.
11. Never let someone make you feel like a doormat for being kind.
12. There’s nothing a bubble bath and a new book can’t fix.
13. You’ll feel younger and more naïve at 25, than you did at 15.
14. There is nothing wrong with being tee-total.
15. Write a six monthly bucket list – make sure you complete it.
16. Waxing is expensive and more effort, but it doesn’t cause really painful abscesses.
17.  Quickest way to get a guy to leave a room? Talk about periods (or, my friend Hannah’s method,          afterbirth).
18. Don’t eat at dodgy looking restaurants – you only have to look at food near its sell-by date to be          ill.
19.  Life rarely goes to plan – the more you try to control it, the more wildly it’ll veer off course.
20. Travelling is incredible.
21. Learning how to swear in different languages is fun.
22. If you’re unhappy in life, make radical changes – try new things, make new friends, leave a stale         job…
23. Don’t ever give someone the power to make you question your self-worth.
24. Tell your family and friends you love them every day.
25. You definitely won’t be married or have kids by twenty five. The very thought makes you feel ill!


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Doing Long Distance


 A couple of weeks ago, I started a new job.
And not just any job; one I was so damn excited to get and actually start. But it meant moving away from home. That was a messy feeling in my head for weeks, which included moving all my patient care for my IBD and stoma as well as packing and getting my head around being away from home. I haven’t done that since I lived at university and my year abroad in Canada. Both those times fill me with great memories so I have high hopes that this big move will fall into that category in time.

Not only am I moving away from my family but I am moving away from my boyfriend.

And it wasn’t until this weekend – the second weekend I haven’t seen him as I usually would if I was at home still – I realise we are doing long distance.




I haven’t done that in over eight years. My boyfriend whilst I was at university studying lived quite far away but we spent our weekends together. These days, I don’t have that luxury or that amount of energy to travel all the way home. Plus, we now both have commitments to work and it’s just tiring being back at work after over a year away from it all. I find myself having a lot of mood swings; going from feeling on top of the world to wondered what on earth I have gotten myself into here. But that latter part passes and I feel okay. Most of the time, I am doing okay. I just need the distractions.

My boyfriend was a welcomed and wonderful distraction whilst I was sick, whilst I recovered from surgeries, whilst I suffered, whilst I grew up and got my confidence back. He became my number one fan and I became his biggest supporter in what he was doing, what he would achieve. So now, without him, it is a new feeling. Something I haven’t felt in years.

There is no comparison between my other big relationship and this one. This one has the longevity and the commitment I need and have always wanted. I couldn’t imagine going through what I’ve done without him by my side. It hasn’t always been easy and it’s never been perfect, but it wasn’t meant to be, I don’t expect it – or either of us – to be.

But long distance makes it feel so much like before. I am trying to remember how I survived going longer periods of time without my boyfriend back then, but I can’t. I think I’ve locked that relationship away in my mind, to some degree. But how did I do it? How did I keep it going for as long as I did, when I wasn’t as busy as I clearly am now? How do I keep my relationship going with 100 miles between us and weeks apart because of our schedules?

Advice welcome.

This new job and the opportunities it is hopefully going to lead to is my choice and sometimes I am half regret moving so far away from my boyfriend. He was a huge part of my life back at home, but I am not there anymore. I feel like I need some distance from us sometimes, or at least I did feel like that. And now I have it, I don’t want it. But, I’m sure I need it. We don’t get given what we have unless we could handle it. And I have dealt with what life has chucked at me so far, why not this?

Is this a silver lining?

Is the opportunity to really discover how strong our union is?



Sunday, 14 May 2017

Exams and My Low Self-Confidence

I have extremely bad self-confidence. This is something that I rarely like to talk about but I feel like I should do more. Cut a very long story short, I was bullied quite severely in Year 7 because I had a pixie cut (yes, I am aware that seems like a petty thing to be bullied over, but it happened), and because I was one of the shyest in my year at the time. I was emotionally and physically bullied to the point that when someone compliments me, I won't believe them. 

I've recently started my GCSE exams (GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education if you didn't know), and my first was Drama - one of the subjects which I want to continue studying for A Level. For this exam, I have to put on a thirty-minute play that fits into a theme that the exam board sets, and perform it to an external examiner who comes in and marks me on the spot (I am in a group for this exam). In short, I was given the role of the main character which meant that I had this very long monologue to learn. I was fairly nervous about this monologue, I didn't think that I was good enough to perform it, nor even be the character that I was assigned - so most of the time in rehearsals I would ask if we could skip the scene where my monologue came in. 

As my Drama exam got closer, I started getting more nervous over my monologue - whilst I was the main character, I had the least amount of lines meaning that the majority of my marks will come from this monologue. To study A Level Drama at my choice of Sixth Form, I need at least a B+ or an A, and I convinced myself that the way I was performing my lines was at a D, maybe an E grade. I started to get worked up over this monologue because I knew I wasn't good enough to be this character, and my marks were going to be non-existant. 

Around three days before the exam, my group, and the others, did a whole dress rehearsal to parents and teachers, and this was one of the first times I performed my monologue in front of an audience. I was terrified. Thankfully, I had a chance to run through my monologue with my teacher, and whilst she told me that I would get a fantastic grade from the way that I've performed it, I couldn't see how she could think that. In the dress rehearsal, we got to the part where my monologue came in, and I was shaking. I said my lines as best I could, and walked off stage, concluding the performance. From what people have told me, my monologue was great and I should be proud of myself. I would stand there as people were saying this to me, and I would think only negative thoughts about myself because I knew that there had to be some way of performing it better. 

The day of the exam I was a mess, I was shaking, nervous, and I couldn't think straight. I was trying to think of ways to improve myself from the time I got to school, to the time of my exam, which was thankfully in the afternoon. It got to the point that I had a panic attack - and it took twenty minutes for both my Drama teachers and my friends to calm me down. They were all trying to say to me that the lowest grade I might get would be an A, but I sat there, shaking my head, as I tried to explain to them that my acting is terrible. I was fine with my basic lines, as they were mainly one word, but it was the monologue that was stressing me out the most. 

Then the exam came, and my group was the first to perform. 

As we were all performing, I was trying my hardest to be this character. I thought that I was doing pretty well, and when I looked over to the examiner, they were scrawling down notes, and I hope that they were all nothing but positive. 

I went backstage right before my monologue and I had to give myself a pep-talk (yes, this may have been a silly thing to do, but this was my last chance to get the grade that I wanted). I walked out on stage, delivered my lines, and waited for the lights to go down. And, as soon as I said my last line, I could hear crying from the back of the Drama Studio. The moment that the examiner left the room to mark my group, my entire class came running up to me, some of them were in tears. This, of course, made me and my group cry too. 

All of this made me realise something: I should believe what people say to me more. The way my class acted after I performed my monologue gave me some sort of wake-up call - my Drama teacher was right after all, I did perform my monologue well. 

I guess I had to write this because I needed to get this off of my chest. And even though I have to take about twenty more exams, I feel just that little more confident that I can smash these exams and get the grades I want in August. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Being a Bridesmaid

So a couple of weeks ago now I was a Bridesmaid at my sister's wedding. This is something that I have both been incredibly excited about and also incredibly nervous and anxious about. Excited because I wanted to do my sister proud and help her make her wedding day be everything she wanted it to be, nervous and anxious because even though it wasn't my day, I was a) sure people would be looking at me, b) I would look so different to the other bridesmaid (my other sister) and the maid of honour (brides best friend) that I would stand out and ruin everything, and c) I would not fit in to the bridesmaids dress.

As it was, the dress fit - albeit I didn't last the whole day in it and I had painful grooves in my skin for the next few days afterwards so point c) was absolutely fine. Point b did happen and it did make me feel uncomfortable but no one actually said anything which was good. And Point a also happened but everyone only had good things to say.

What I learnt from being a bridesmaid is what I want to discuss today.

  1. I am not okay with my body. I have written a post about this before but it really came to light at the wedding that I am not happy with how I look. I do not love the skin I am in.
  2. I am envious of everyone for looking absolutely stunning. I spent the day looking at both my sisters and my mum in their amazing dresses and was so incredibly jealous of how beautiful they looked and how awful I felt I looked in comparison. 
  3. Weddings are very different to how they look in the movies but the one thing they always get right is that often something always goes wrong. In the case of this wedding, the table plan wasn't laid out exactly right...
  4. Weddings can be fun. They're a celebration and a perfect opportunity to wish the bride and groom a happy life ahead.
  5. It is difficult to stay awake until midnight when you're one of the only people not drinking alcohol.
  6. Weddings are not great places to meet new people, despite what I've heard...
But lastly, the biggest thing I learnt (although I sort of already knew)...

I do not want to have a wedding.

I'm not even sure at this stage if I want to get married but if I do get married, I don't want a wedding. There is absolutely no way I could have that much attention on me. Or that much stress. I know some people might be upset with that so I might have a party if the time comes but I just do not want a wedding - and certainly not a traditional princess wedding like my sister had!

So I think I learnt quite a bit. The whole day was absolutely lovely and I'm so happy for my sister and my new brother-in-law. But I'm also quite glad that it's all over...


Sunday, 7 May 2017

On Feeling Left Behind.

I’ve talked a bit on here about my decision at 19 to drop out of University and then at 20 to enrol again at a different one. Long story short, I dropped out of University after only one semester because my mental health got really awful really quickly and I couldn’t cope living on my own, with the pressure of assignments over my head and nobody I was really close to yet to talk to about it. I worked for a year and a half at a couple of different jobs, and started University again somewhere else on a different course in September.

So, I’m 21 and just finishing my first year. It’s gone okay. University definitely isn’t what I’d call the best time of my life as it is for so many (at this point I actually in some ways preferred working full time in customer service … only in some ways though), but I’m coping and getting decent grades and have some good friends. I have no current plans of dropping out, and the end of my first year is within reaching distance.

However I’ve been feeling a bit shit about my whole situation recently. My Facebook feed, made up predominantly of people around my age group, obviously, has been filled for the last week with pictures of people handing in their dissertations and final papers, I’ve had conversations with many friends about graduation dates and going out into the world. And I guess I’ve just been feeling left behind and feeling rubbish about myself for not being in the same position they are.

Now I know on a level this is silly. Even if I had stayed at my original degree, I wouldn’t be graduating this year because it was a four year course (I would actually currently be in the USA on a year abroad right now, and to be honest I’m kind of thankful I’m not). I know that my decision to leave and take care of my mental health was the right one for me, and that taking care of myself is the first priority. I know that there are loads of people who take years out or drop out and go back after a few years. I know all these things, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling rubbish about myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy for my friends and I know I’m where I need to be. But there’s this feeling that as my friends are embarking on their Masters or going to work abroad or just out into the working world that I’m being left behind a bit. I won’t graduate until I’m at least 23 or 24, and even though I know I’ve had experiences they haven’t had and it’s not my fault, it just feels a bit crap sometimes. I know I shouldn’t compare my experiences to others, and despite all these rubbish feelings right now, I know in the long run I’m on the right track for me.