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.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Respecting a Person's Gender, Sexuality, and their Personal Choices

A while ago somebody I know came out as transgender at my school, and whilst many people congratulated them, there was a small minority of people who decided to bully this person. They subjected this person to threats, and even some quite horrible comments – one person had actually said to this person that "(they) are not transgender until (they've) had the surgery, and (they're) only saying that (they) are transgender for attention". Quite a few people stood up for this person, including myself, but in the end, the bullying had gotten so bad they had to leave the school.  This got me thinking: why do some people care so much about another's choices about their identity? If a person feels comfortable identifying as a boy or a girl, we don't maliciously attack them for their choices – but when it comes to people identifying as trans, or even non-binary, some people try to make them feel like their choice is wrong.  

I identify as non-binary; I go by the they/them/their pronouns. I don't feel entirely comfortable identifying fully as a girl, nor as a boy. Not a lot of people know that I identify as non-binary, as when I've told some people who are quite close to me, they've told me that I "can't identify" with the they/them pronouns because I'm either fully a girl, or fully a boy. Even though I've told them that identifying as non-binary makes me feel more comfortable as a person, their response to me was that "I'm never going to feel comfortable because that's how the world works." And they also mentioned that they're not going to use the right pronouns, which, of course, made me feel miserable. People seem to be making this big deal over one choice, me asking people just to respect something that makes me feel comfortable about myself is only small. The world isn't just boys or girls: gender is on a spectrum, and I think people need to realise this more.  

A person's sexuality also doesn't have a major, and detrimental effect on another person. We live in the 21st century, and, yet, we still seem to act like opposites attract each other, and nothing else matters. A person can love whomever they want, so why do we slander people if they express their love for another? I've mentioned before that I'm queer, and I have had homophobia directed towards me – although when I have stood up for myself, and presented arguments saying why we should respect everyone for who they are, they have backed down.  

Our world thrives on diversity, but we often suppress certain elements of it. If we truly want to live in a peaceful world, we need to start acting kind and respect each other's decisions. Honestly, if we do this, the world will a much better place. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Coming Out: Sometimes It Doesn't Go To Plan


Coming out is monumental for anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some people write letters, others bake rainbow cakes covered in sprinkles. How I came out isn’t nearly as well-planned or delicious. 

Early last year, I found myself falling in love for the first time. I didn’t see it coming. We’d been friends for a while, but literally overnight, something shifted in our friendship. I found myself on a crazy, passionate and utterly terrifying roller coaster with another girl.

Before her, I’d always identified as heterosexual.. But I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I’d never been curious.. With her, it became crystal clear that I definitely wasn’t straight.


She was witty, talented and beautiful. Sometimes I felt like I’d won a prize to stand next to her. Neither of us were ready to be out, but for the first time, I had to accept a side of myself that I’d ignored. 

Months passed and the more sure I became of her and our secret relationship, the more doubts seemed to creep into her mind. Eventually, she broke my heart.

At first, I tried to hide my heartbreak from my family and friends. It was 3pm on a Sunday when I knew I had no other option than to tell them - I wasn’t coping and I couldn't hide it anymore. Before I could change my mind, I stumbled into the kitchen and tried to tell my mum the secret that had been hanging over me for months. I choked on the words. For the next half an hour, she just held me until I could whisper what was wrong:

            I was in love with a girl.
           The girl had just shattered my heart.
           I was sorry for lying to her and dad and I hoped they still loved me.

What happened next is something we all hope  for. My mum smiled and told me whoever I decided to spend my life with would never stop them loving me. In fact, she’d guessed months ago and had been prepping my dad for the revelation. I went to bed that night knowing how unbelievably lucky I was. 

I came out to my friends next. Some were extremely hurt – they felt like I’d lied to them, and didn’t trust them. For a while, our friendships were difficult and rocky. I felt huge amounts of guilt because of this. Maybe if I’d come out ‘properly’, when I was ready and had planned to, they’d have taken it better. Despite their feelings, they still dragged me out for coffee, bought me bath bombs and told me it’d get better.

And it did. Happiness seeped back into my life. But this notion of not coming out 'properly', in the way I wanted, kept tormenting me. As the time passed, I started to realise something important. No, I didn't get to come out the way I hoped to, but that really didn't matter at all. In all of this, I had missed the most important point:

Coming out, for any reason, in any fashion, sets you free.



Tips for coming out:

  1. Beforehand, binge watch every gay or semi gay tv show – OITNB! The L World! Queer As Folk! When We Rise!
  2. Only come out if it's safe to do so - your safety is more important than anything else.
  3. If it isn't safe, bide your time. Make plans, start saving money, and know that one day, you'll be able to. 
  4. Don't let anyone pressure you into coming out.
  5. Expect to feel elation, followed by surrealism, followed by exhaustion.
  6. You might find it easier to come out to strangers at first, rather your friends and family. Don’t feel guilty – it’s a practice run.
  7. People will ask a lot of questions. Don’t feel that you need to answer anything you’re uncomfortable with.
  8.  If you’re like me and don’t ‘look gay’, you’ll have to come out again, and again and again. That’s okay – you’ll get super creative with your methods!
  9. If your family and friends truly love you, they’ll keep loving you, even if they struggle to understand it.
  10. You’ll find life is suddenly a lot lighter and brighter when you’re not hiding anymore.
Finally, don’t feel bad if you’ve read this blog post and you’re worried you won’t ever be ready. A year ago, I’d have said the same thing. You’ll know when the time is right.


         Advice Websites:
   

         
          Stonewall Youth





Monday, 24 April 2017

You Don't Have To Label Your Sexuality


I'm not gay, I'm not straight, I'm not bisexual. I'm a person who loves a person and that is all there is to it. I don't think anyone is really one thing because you never know who you are going to fall in love with. I'm not saying you don't know who you're attracted to but things and people change. I'm not attracted to body parts or the way you look. I like the way you make me smile and the words you tell me. The stories you have to share. The quirks that make you, you. There are people who define themselves as non-binary and genderqueer. I don't need to assign myself to loving a particular gender identity. People are just people.

My partner has a penis. If they had a vagina I'd love them all the same. It doesn't matter about the outside because I fell in love with the little things that make them, them. If they changed their appearance in any way they would still be them... right?

Saying this, if you label your sexuality and are comfortable doing so, there is nothing wrong with that and I think you're fine to. It's just that I feel like I don't need a label as I don't think any apply to me. I've always felt like I needed to pick a label but the truth is you haven't got to. Hopefully people will understand my view point just as I try to and perhaps do understand theirs. If you do label yourself, it only becomes a problem when you think you have to always be that label. Because you don't.

What I'm trying to say is that your sexuality does not matter and that you should just love whoever the hell you want to, regardless.


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Friday, 21 April 2017

Fashion Failure

I am not a fashion expert. It is one of the things that I am very, very aware of. In fact, I am probably the opposite of a fashion expert - whatever that makes me! It is the one thing about my personality that has always made me feel like I was lacking in the feminine department. Because girls love clothes and shopping, right? And I hated both of those things. I wear clothes because I have to but I never really know what to wear.

Yesterday I was watching a programme and a moment happened where a dress was made for the female teenager and she was happy with the dress but the grandmother refused to accept her happiness because she was crying for joy. Adjustments were made but still no tears. So the girl explains how she doesn't know who she is or what clothes she likes or how to describe who she is but that she loves x, y, and z. The next time you see her open the clothes bag, she physically cries of happiness. Inside her grandmother has created a pant suit of perfection and it is exactly what the girl wanted.

I have never felt this way.

I wish I have. I see things on the clothing rails and I love them but they aren't me. I love clothes on other people too, and love when they look super comfortable and lovely in them too. Always wishing that I could feel that way too.

But I don't.

Last summer I brought some dresses and I really liked them. I wore them out and felt happy that I was wearing dresses for the first time in a very long time. But deep down, I didn't feel comfortable in them. I know that I looked nice and I liked how I looked in them but I didn't feel like they showed who I was.

And I think the biggest problem is that I don't know who I am. I don't know how to dress myself because I don't know what my style is. I wear jeans and hoodies the most because they make me feel comfortable but as I am growing older, I feel that soon I need to ditch the hoodies because I'm too old. But once they go, where do I go from there?

In all honesty, when shopping for clothes these days I mostly just look for things that fit and cover up my hideous skin and do my utmost best to find longer shirts to hid my "builder's bum" because I seem to have a horrible problem about keeping my trousers up. - I am someone who is almost always between sizes and belts help only so much.

So I'm hoping that one day inspiration will strike and I will know exactly what kind of clothes I want to wear.

But for now, I will cling to my jeans and my hoodies and hope that I don't age too quickly.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Last Year of My 20's


It's here. The final year of me being in my twenties. 

The last couple years, I've hardly noticed the age I am. Mostly because my age hasn't really been on my mind or if it has it because people don't quite believe my actual age when I tell them. Being sick since I was 22 meant that my birthdays weren't really celebrated like the used to be. I didn't go out drinking or clubbing like I did in my university years, I felt too unwell to do that or I didn't want to risk being sick afterwards. And as my IBD developed and became harder to treat, I was just too damn tired to want to celebrate. 

This year, well, I want to do something.


The thing is, I don’t know what.

I always felt pressurised to want to do something on my birthday, every year, since I can remember. And whilst sickness got in the way, I was glad I was too unwell to do anything huge and planned and ‘epic’. That specific pressure has gone – meaning that I don’t let it control me as much as I used to; a silver lining cloud to living with a chronic illness, I guess – but it’s been replaced with an age specific one.



NEXT YEAR I WILL BE THIRTY.


Thirty; when I was a young eighteen, felt like a million years ago. Slowly but surely, time ticked on and its next year now.

I feel the pressure to have my life together and settled down by then.

I feel the pressure to have a plan on what I am going to do and everything like that.

I feel some pressure to make a life with my partner now; it’s been five years already.



And whilst some of those things definitely spur me on to get on with my life – my new life now with my ostomy makes those things ‘achievable’ – the others make me sad.

I don’t feel close to thirty. I don’t feel or look my age. Why is that a bad thing, again?

Thirty seems to be the age when your life should be sorted and you’re working towards later life. But I’m only just now starting to find my career path. I am only just moving away from my family home. I am only just beginning my life with a new sort-of anatomy. For me, life is beginning now and it is not going to be sorted and settled by the time next year rolls around. But still, there is the pressure. It’s a dull throb in the back of my head. It mostly goes away but when it is right up there, causing me metaphorical pain; I listen to it. When I know I shouldn’t.

What is perceived to be ‘normal’ and ‘done by this age and time in life’ is bullshit. I spent my twenties unsure of myself and my life, then sick and wondering how on earth I was going to get my life back together again. I would compare myself and my lack of achievements to those of all my university acquaintances. It did not make me feel better, but it was a hard cycle to break. People kept achieving big life goals – marriage, buying houses, kids, new careers and promotions – and all I did was bounce from pointless job to pointless job with some stints in hospital in between.

What I do know now is that it takes some personal strength and resilience to stand up for yourself and not let other achievements get you down. You have plenty of your own goals to set and smash. You have plenty of time to figure things out, it doesn’t happen overnight, there is no quick fix. But! Hard work, determination and belief will get you far. They will help you go far.



And so what, if by the time I’m thirty I’m still not ticking all those big life goals?

I’ve got my own goals. Smashing them in my own slow and steady way.

It was the tortoise who won the race, after all.



Monday, 17 April 2017

Spring Clean Your Life

It’s that time of year again when the winter disappears and spring steps in to take its place. The time when people start de-cluttering their homes, re-sorting their gardens and as such, letting their lives have a bit of a fresh start - sort of like at new years but different. So today on Safe Space we are talking about how we recharge and refresh ourselves during this time of year. Or well… at any time of year when we really need it. Today, we’re going to tell you all about how we Spring Clean our lives.



Louise
I definitely use this time of year to actually clean - throw away things I don't need anymore, donate clothes that don't fit, find new homes for old books, organise the space in my room better - but when it comes to spring cleaning myself; it's abit more difficult. Whilst rearranging my room can certainly help clear my head, I also try and use Spring as a new start. I don't really like NY and it's pressurised attitude for a "new year, new you" vibe. My birthday falls in Spring, so I look back on my past year and see how I can improve. I also reflect on what I have achieved. It might not be huge things but the small things have value too. This helps me refocus on the next couple of months.
I make lists on what I'd like to blog about, what I'd like to do, things I wanna see or places I want to travel to. I find time to read and rest; because who knows when they next get the chance to! I usually throw some baking in there too; it's all hungry work.
What is helping me focus this spring time is moving out and away from home and relocating for a new job. Nothing like that 'pressure' and excitement to help you really clean.



Faye
I very much believe in the expression, tidy kitchen, tidy mind, because every time I clear my room, I feel rejuvenated and refreshed, ready to tackle whatever is next on my to-do list. But I am also a busy person and so actually tidying my room does not happen as often as it should. Meaning that I often actually have a very messy room and a very messy mind. I’ve never really been the kind of person to use a time of year to re-fresh my life but this year I definitely have. I’ve got a new job, cleaned my room, tidied my bookshelves and am actually trying really hard to re-prioritize and re-organise my life so that I feel better both mentally and physically.
I don’t really have any tips on how to do this. For me I have just been looking at what is most important to me and focussing on those things first, letting things that I maybe haven’t looked at or done in a long time to be “let go” as such. It’s a new notebook and a plan to try bullet journalling, a physical to-do list that I can continually tick off. It’s also been an actual spring clean of my room so that I can feel more open when I am in my room. But who knows if it’ll actually help?
All I can say is that the one thing I love about spring is going outside. I love being at one with nature and this, this always makes me feel happier and “fresher”.



Lily 
Winter is my least favourite season and Spring my favourite so I always find there’s a massive shift in my mind-set around this time of year. I start to realise how messy I’ve let my room and life get. I definitely feel better, re-charged and more in control with a tidy room, and everything is neat and has a place or is thrown out. Something I do periodically to ‘spring-clean’ although I’d say I do it about once a season is go through all of my books (there are a lot) and get rid of any I have no interest in anymore or the ones I don’t like and give them to a charity shop so they can find a better home. As someone who is a massive introvert, re-charging for me absolutely means spending time by myself. Whether that’s a long walk, sitting in my room watching YouTube videos or parks and rec, I absolutely have to have me time. I find with Spring and Summer I tend to be in situations, whether on holiday or staying at friends, where I’m surrounded by people a lot more than in Autumn and Winter and so finding that ‘me time’ is essential, otherwise I’m a horrible grumpy mess. Despite being a city girl at heart I do love going out into nature during Spring – there’s something about the sun and the birds and the blossoms that really revitalises me.



Kate
I think it’s fair to say I’m stressed or worried around 90% of the time. Quite often, I just need to down tools and step away from everything to reassess what’s important. I’m a real believer in feng shui, so the first thing I do is remove any items that trigger negative thoughts or memories from my personal space. Fresh bedsheets and a furniture switch-around will follow. I love to fill my bedroom with fresh flowers - usually two or three bouquets - you can’t help but feel happy when you look at them. Finally, to recharge, I just do things that make me happy. I go to the gym or for a swim, take day trips and sing along to terrible music with my best friends, have a deep bath filled with Lush products, plan my next big holiday abroad, and drink rancid vegetable juices until I feel sick.



Georgia
When I’m stressed I tend to grab a glass of herbal tea (usually peppermint) and a blanket, and I just sit back on my couch and try to relax. Sometimes, I quite like to binge-watch shows on Netflix, just so I can take my mind off of some things. However, I also like to meditate, the breathing exercises help me calm my nerves and it helps me focus.

Recharging, however, I take a nap and afterwards, I drink some more herbal tea.



Charlotte
Life in Charlotte land can get very hectic sometimes. I try to take a small chunk out of each week, sometimes even each day, to have some relax time. Time to give myself a little break. I made a relapse box a while ago, which I use mainly for times when I’m getting distressed and need to focus on something to stop the thoughts becoming out of control. The box is full of stuff that makes me smile and stuff I can do to calm down. Recently i’ve started getting the box out more regularly, so that it gives me a chance to wind down and have a breather. I take out the strawberry tea and pop the kettle on. I put the CD, which is forever being changed, into the stereo. I look at all the pictures of good times with friends and family. I lay out the colouring book and pencils. I spray the raspberry mist around me. It’s nice to just take some time out for yourself. This helps me to think more clearly and then I can start to plan things and make positive changes.


Sunday, 16 April 2017

I'm a Feminist and Poud

Hi, I'm a feminist. 

It's not a dirty word, nor is it a bad thing to be. Actually being a feminist is one of the things that can define me the most of the time, and I don't regret it - I'm quite passionate about feminism. At my school, I've done various presentations at my school, and I've written a few guest posts on various blogs about being a feminist. 

I think I first started being a feminist when I was eleven-years-old, where I began to notice that quite a few of my peers in my year began catcalling the girls that were in my classes. When I started to speak out against it, I was laughed at because people in my year thought it was wrong for a person to do this kind of thing. There was a point in Year Seven where the girls were told that it was "wrong" to wear trousers rather than skirts, and even now the girls in my year are given detentions if their socks are above their knees because it makes us girls "look like whores" (as one senior teacher had said). I've spoken out against this, and my protests have been shrugged off. 

Whilst I became vocal in favour of feminism in school, I've also seen gender inequality in the news, and in the streets. Seeing this happen annoys me, it's the 21st Century, and yet, inequality is still happening across the world. 

The oppression both genders face is unfair: girls are often forced to live up to female stereotypes, and it's the same with guys. We need to stop seeing gender as black and white, and more of a spectrum. 

I am a feminist because everyone deserves equality, and I am proud to fight against the oppression.

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Friday, 14 April 2017

Feeling the Pressure

As mentioned in my previous post, I've just started at a new job with added hours and an added commute and I was sure I would be able to sort it all out. Sadly the first week - two weeks? - have been really stressful - more than I thought they would be. Essentially, I was sure I could deal with a few less hours a week but it turns out the first two weeks have been more of a struggle than I realise. But what I wasn't expecting was the guilt and anxiety wrapping itself around my throat when I realised how little time I had. 

I had evenings where I needed to do so much work and then ended up too tired to actually do anything but sleep. And then the work piled up and it all just made me feel worse until I felt stretched far too thin. 

Add to that the fact that although I have only reduced my hours by 3 hours at work, I've also reduced it by two days and it's hit me how much a difference being in more days make - even if those days are only a few hours long, it was still time to get stuff done and to contribute to the team. I am 100% sure that I will get used to the change in hours soon but for the first two weeks it has definitely been a little bit of a shock to the system.

So what have I done to combat this feeling?

Well, on Wednesday I had plans in the evening but I ended up forgoing the plans so that I could stay in and get some tasks completed so as to lift some of the burden currently weighing down my shoulders. It's not a brilliant plan as I cannot keep just cancelling on people or changing plans at last minute but it has helped me get through the week.

I also prioritised my own to-do list into what was the most important things to do.

Namely my PR work came top of the list, then blogging, then reading. I also need to remember that I am not to feel guilty if I cannot read as much as I once did or blog as much as I once did too - anyone notice the time this post is going live? In remembering to remove the guilt, I can relax in the evenings and sleep without worrying about what I'm not doing instead and that in turn will make this transition a little easier - I hope!

Fortunately it's the Easter Weekend now so I have a few days off to get all of my personal life stuff back into balance and I can start next week fresh and ready. I technically won't be working a full week now until the second week of May but I have other plans in the meantime but here's hoping I can either keep on top of things or at the very least stop feeling so guilty for getting a little bit behind.

How do you keep on top of things and/or stop feeling guilty? I would love to know any tips you may have! Comment or tell me on twitter!



Monday, 10 April 2017

Three Years Single and Finding Happiness

Disappointing looks, arguing and angry words are all I remember now. Ask me for a good memory and you'll get a blank expression. It's not that you were a bad person; it's that I was getting more ill as each day passed. My judgement clouded by a dark haze. Maybe you just didn't love me enough to save me from self destruction. Maybe you thought leaving was the only way to help.

When I woke up one day and found that I had been blocked by you on pretty much everything, it was a massive kick up the bum. I needed you to leave to see what was going on. I could of got on the bus and come over but what use would that have been? You didn't have the guts to tell me "it's over". I decided from that point, that I was going to get myself better. I didn't need a partner to validate my self worth. I needed to find myself.

From August 2013 till September 2016 I was single. Three years. Before that I had two serious relationships. In those three years people would feel sorry for me. They'd ask why I didn't have a partner. Friends would suggest I should find someone. The whole world seems to be obsessed with who's in a relationship and who's not. There is so many beautiful things in the world, but all we seem to focus on is having a girlfriend or boyfriend. Why can't people be allowed to be happy on their own? Why is it so important to be in relationship? There's too many pressures on people already without being made to feel like a loser for not having a special someone.
It was a difficult period, but at the same time it was just what I needed. I needed to be on my own. I needed to focus on getting well and looking after myself. I found who I was in those three years. I'd always felt like I needed to rely on people to be okay. Once on my own, I realised the only person I needed to be there for me, was me. My friends are a massive support but the only one who can pick you up off the ground is yourself.

I became such a different person as those three years passed and I overcame some challenges in my life due to my mental health. I was able to grow into a strong confident woman who could do things for herself. I made new friends and moved out of my childhood home.

I'm now in a stable and happy relationship. Things are going wonderfully. Getting myself better and giving myself the space to breathe in those single years, helped me to be ready for a relationship again. The right person came along and I just went for it. We've been together six months now and it's just so nice. I haven't acted the way I would of done all those years ago because I have been taught to better manage by mental health and not let it rule me entirely.



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Friday, 7 April 2017

Dealing with Changes With Mental Health

There are some people who deal with change easily. Whatever life throws at them, they just deal with it and get on with it and it barely affects their life. These are the type of people who welcome change as it makes life more interesting and intriguing. It makes them feel like they are actually living their life rather than just being alive. I used to be one of those people.

It feels weird to believe this of myself these days. To remember that I used to dive head first into adventure without knowing anything about what might be around the corner. Because it is something that I find almost impossible these days. Changes now feel overwhelming, terrifying, and cause me intense anxiety issues.

After primary school, I went to secondary school on my own and everything was fine. After secondary school, I went to college on my own and it was good. During secondary school when I was just 15, I went to Denmark without an adult and with just three friends. After college, I went on a gap year to Canada with just my brother and five strangers with me. It was the first time I had ever been to Canada. After Canada I went to university on my own and threw myself into new activities I had never done before, such as Waterpolo and Journalism.

I craved change in the past. I hated it when it felt like my life was still and not moving anywhere. I needed to try new things and go different places and live life to the fullest.

I’m not sure when it changed. I wish I knew so that I could go back to that day and shake my past self. But now change terrifies me. Eating in new restaurants fills me with anxious worries, going abroad seems like something I will never be able to do again (unless it is to a country I have been to before and can orient myself into something familiar but new places is a big no-no). Trying a new activity seems daunting and bizarre.

Change is no longer easy and is something that I have to really gear myself up for. This can sometimes take me a long time just to make a decision and even then I might back out before it comes to pass. As happened last year when I kept agreeing to meet new people in new places to try and be social and meet people and always cancelled the day before due to not dealing with the anxious feelings that coursed through my veins.

So, if you follow me on twitter or on my personal blog, you might know that I actually had a very big change happen in my life this week. I started a new job. But not only that. I started a new job in an entirely new city – two hours away from where I actually live.

Now as you can imagine, this has not been easy for me.

It actually took me five days to accept the offer for which I am entirely grateful to the employer for still keeping aside for me while I took the time to decide. I then had four weeks to get used to the idea of everything.

Those four weeks were full of planning and organising. They were also full of anxiety and panic. I had moments when I wanted to go back on my acceptance. Moments where I was sure that I was making a huge mistake and that I would hate both the job and the city and my life would be entirely ruined – naturally.

There was also excitement. Something different was going to happen in my life. Someone had seen me as worth investing in. Someone believed in me.

And I think that is what really helped get my anxious thoughts in order. That and having the most amazing friends and family around to help keep me grounded but to also continually remind me how wonderful this opportunity is and how proud they were of me, and all that wonderful good stuff that filled me with hope and that bit of strength I needed.

This week has been tough. On Monday I ended up having the biggest anxiety attack I’ve had in months. For two hours I struggled with my thoughts and my fears and the panic. I ended up driving to my mums house so that she could calm me down which led to further fears about what I would do when my mum wasn’t 30minutes down the road. But I got through it and I knew that underneath it all, I was just struggling with the change about to occur.

Tuesday was actually okay. This was actually the first day of actual change in my life but I managed to get through it easily enough. Wednesday came with a few blips and my heart raced a few times and I struggled to sleep in the evening. Not to mention I got stressed and a bit snappy as well. Fortunately, those I snapped at where very aware that the next day was the day of the big change so let me get away with it without too many repercussions.

And then yesterday. Yesterday was terrifying. But I planned and I prepared and I did everything I could to make sure I felt as comfortable as I could, including arriving at the job 15 minutes before shift started. And then the new job started and I met what seems like a very friendly and welcoming team who I am more than sure I will really like working with. I was shown the building I’d be working with and fell in love so very completely. I was also shown a few of the things I would be doing on the job and I knew that I could do everything I was asked and that I would most likely enjoy it too.

So now I still feel a little anxious about my next shift which starts tomorrow but I also feel better too. Because I did it. I made a change in my life. This is just the start. I have some more changes to make in the next few months but now I know that I can just get on with it when it happens.


I simply need to feel the fear and do it anyway. 


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Changes, Welcomed Changes


I’ve always been known as someone who doesn’t do things by halves.

Some examples?

-          I have the most progressive disease my Gastroenterologist has seen.

-          In a three-month period, my colon disintegrated but I didn’t present with a flare up of IBD!

-          My GYN surgeon removed a tennis ball cyst off my ovary which should have been causing tons of problems, but wasn’t

-          When I got sick, I was really sick; without much indication.

See? Didn’t I tell you?

Things for me come all at once or not at all.

I am currently sat doing not much because I cleared my to-do list to have a couple days of down time. Why?

Well, in a couple weeks I start a new job. Almost 70 miles away from home. And this weekend, my OH and I go there to find my rental property for the first six months.

All the scary, big, life changing feels, right?

Thing is, I could have found a job closer to home. I could have found a job which would mean me and my OH could have lived together next year. I could have found a job that was just a job nothing more. And that would have been me, this time last year; pre-surgery, pre-ostomy. I would have settled for a job because it was money and I needed money. It was low risk, low responsibility and it was just a means to an end. I’ve felt like this about many jobs in the past; always thought it was safe to take a job I didn’t like because who would want anyone to work for them who was chronically ill, unable to show true commitment?

But it’s not me now.


The last six months I have felt incredibly well. I wasn’t expecting it and I admit, it was beginning to freak me out; I’ve never been that well with my Crohn’s in all the years I’ve had it so far, I hadn’t expected surgery to be so… life changing. So, by being so well, I’ve pushed myself. I’ve worked hard on my own blog, reached out to people and sought opportunities I would never have dreamed of before. Admittedly, I’ve had the free time to be flexible and explore these opportunities, and finally, it’s all paid off.

My job offer was 40% luck and chance and 60% recommendation and me, in all my gutsy glory.

I don’t mean to be big headed, I hope this does not come of like that, but jeez I still can’t believe it, all of this is happening and its happening to me.

So, in between all the stress of finding a place to live, moving to a new part of the country, starting a new job – it’s been 14 months since my last one, yikes! – I am incredibly proud of myself. I am internalising all of that so that on my first day I don’t bolt – panic and lose all confidence. And to anyone else, this is just a job and it’s not a big deal but it is to me. I have worked hard since surgery, whilst recovering, I’ll add, to figure out my plan; of what I hope to have my life be. It’s a solid picture now, instead of the blur it used to be. It’s filled with a house, my OH, some dogs and plenty of food. And it feels achievable for the first time in five years, since the diagnosis. Things finally feel stable, when I once felt so unsure about my life, myself and what I was actually doing. I don’t question things these days, my mellow attitude comes from – I hope – of years of learning to live with a chronic illness.

And maybe this will change if I get sick again – which is a possibility, a chance it could happen – but I am hopeful my ‘new’ attitude doesn’t falter if it does.

I hope this change, this welcomed change, is going to stick.