Wednesday, 3 May 2017

HIYYAAAAAAA, I'm Back Baby!


Hey guys,


So I've been AWOL recently. My bad. I've had a big ol' change of circumstance and environment which meant I have moved back home to Manchester and am now living with my parents and am looking for work. Again. 
But I'm back, and after a break in Turkey, I'm just taking a step back to sort out my priorities and what I need to do next, I'm back! And believe you me, I have so many thoughts that I cannot wait to get down onto paper or up onto the web. 


It took a while for me to see it as such, but coming back home and changing jobs was actually probably the best thing for me. Hindsight is such a valuable thing, because now, looking back, I can see that I should have done something about not being happy sooner. My environment meant I often felt anxious, which was stressful enough, but throw depression into the mix and friends... you have yourself a  problem. Because I was feeling tired, I was isolating myself and just getting myself through the day meant that I didn't have the energy, and stopped finding the time, to do any of the other things I wanted to do because I enjoyed them. 


I stopped writing, I didn't take enough care of myself and I got unhelpfully inside my own head. I felt like a failure, even when I was working my hardest. At the worst points, I'd sit at my desk and stare at my screen trying to stop the panic attack I could feel rising in my chest, like a living embodiment of the 'internally screaming' meme. I was desperate to not show anything through my expression because I knew that if anyone asked me "are you alright?" it would become clear that I wasn't. And even worse, I felt that if I admitted that, it meant I was being ungrateful. I had been given a fantastic opportunity, with a great team and with a great organisation and I didn't fit the role as I thought I would. I didn't want to say anything because not only did I not want to seem selfish to my friends who were still looking for work or who were also struggling, but I also didn't want to seem weak.


Honestly, I can be the most stubborn human in the world and I will want to stick something out because I want to prove a point or prove someone wrong. My anxiety makes me feel like people think I'm stupid, or that I'm wrong, or unimpressive and that 'they all hate me'. I've done so many things simply to prove that I could, or because I felt I needed to prove myself. Every one of those decisions was a bad idea. Not because what I was doing was bad necessarily, but because I was doing it for the wrong reason. The other side of my anxiety means that I don't want to let people down or leave a job unfinished or done badly. If I do something, I place 100% of my effort into it. Some call that high functioning anxiety, I call it bloody annoying. Yes, it means I give a lot, but if for some reason something doesn't feel right, or if my depression gets in the way, I can get stuck. I simultaneously want to do everything, and want to do it so perfectly that no-one could possibly be cross at me, and feel too useless to do anything right at all. It's exhausting. 



For example, I was cooking risotto for my family last week, and I knocked over a jug of stock which in turn knocked over a glass of wine, both of which were part of the recipe, and the liquid just went everywhere! All over me, all over the counter, all over the chopping board and the veggies I had prepped and I was so cross at myself, and embarrassed, that I burst into tears and cried for a solid few minutes before I even attempted a clear up. I hadn't had a bad day; I'd had plenty of sleep, no-one else was in the kitchen so no-one had seen me knock over the jug (and people only realised that I'd made a mess after I told them). I cried because I felt like an incompetent idiot in that moment, and like I was pathetic and clumsy and me spilling this stock suddenly became a metaphor for every stupid thing I'd ever done in my life ever and I hated it and I hated me aaannd ... I think you get my drift. My mental health just ran away with it, for no reason and completely out of the blue. It's stuff like that that's so hard to explain to someone who doesn't understand mental health problems first hand. To many people that response seems completely unnecessary and over dramatic. But to me, I was actually being relatively reigned in. 


I can't control how my mental health effects me as much as I want to. When I was at my worst, I tried to find control in so many areas. I took up habits that were ultimately bad for me, and developed behaviours that I hoped would make me feel in control of something, because there was so much I couldn't control. And it led to me hurting myself. I will always be affected by that time and even now, after I have given up so many of those habits and behaviours, I have developed others which indicate my desire for control manifesting itself in other ways (my GP recently diagnosed me with mild Trichotillomainia).  

Have you seen the Netflix show Riverdale? 
There's a character called Betty who tries too hard to remain under control, she clenches her hands into fists so tightly that her nails dig into her hands and cut her palms. I really relate to that. I used to do something similar. It's like you are so full of some horrible emotion - or lack of emotion - but you can't convey the depth and strength of what you are feeling to anyone so they can't help you. Because you can't express yourself verbally it comes out physically - but you don't want to look stupid by making a scene so you do something self destructive. I get it. I don't do it now though, at least not consciously. And you shouldn't either. Trust me. *

*if you find yourself wanting to do something like this, or similarly
 self destructive please, talk to someone, find help or look up information on why you feel the need to do so and how to take to next step to recovery. 

I cried in the kitchen because I lost control of the vegetable stock and couldn't control the mess it made or predict where it would go, and I didn't know how to communicate that to someone in a way that made sense and couldn't ask for help without feeling pathetic. Part of what I didn't enjoy in my old job was being unable control or predict the moods of those around me. I didn't know how to express my anxiety and unhappiness in a way that wouldn't make me feel stupid or pathetic, so I felt like I couldn't ask for help. 

In no way am I saying it was the fault of anyone I was with. Just like how I wouldn't blame the jug of stock for being in the way of my elbow. I moved my elbow, it knocked the jug, it spilled. That's what happened. That is why it happened. Not because I'm stupid, or pathetic or whatever other horrible name that my mind calls me. So at work, I did my best, I found that it wasn't the right role for me, and when the time came I chose to leave. That is what happened. Of course there are other factors that might have contributed, but there's no sense or place for me to say that it was someone else's fault or a failing on my part. Because not to blow my own trumpet too much, but I'm actually quite smart, and I'm braver than I believe and I work hard. There were parts of that role that I really enjoyed and that I was really good at, but I still need to work on communicating how I am doing and where I am struggling. I need to be braver, and find the right way to be braver with my honesty and say when and how I need help. 

So that's what happened guys, at a point where it became appropriate, I made the decision not to extend my contract and come home. Stepping away from the situation reminded me that a step forward is still a step forward, even if its in another direction, I wasn't as stuck as I thought I was. Staying where I was would have been like deciding to sort out my risotto disaster by scooping up the spilt liquid with my hands and trying to get it back into the jug. No, what I needed to do was clean up, make sure who ever came after me could start efficiently and without difficulty and make plans about what to do next.



Now that I'm home I'm applying for other jobs, I'm making other plans; I'm applying for courses and I'm looking after myself a whole lot better. Of course I miss my friends and I miss Hull, and it was tough to make the choice to come home but I'm here now. It's not the end of the book, it's just the next chapter. I'm working on getting therapy to help me, but for now I'm happy to control mainly what happens in the kitchen and de-clutter my life. Obviously I need to find work, and I'm doing what I can in that respect, but I'm not obsessing about what I could have done differently. There's no point crying over spilled vegetable stock.
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Beastly thoughts...

So I've been absolutely shattered these last few days and when I've collapsed through the door, crawled upstairs and peeled of my coat and shoes, I then fall onto my bed and watch the crappiest and simultaneously brilliant TV series or movie I can find because it requires me to do absolutely nothing. And after a thoroughly exhausting and long work day, that's what I needed. I needed to just do nothing.

The other thing that for some reason has been playing heavy on my mind has been my future. As I've been lying in bed desperately trying to get to sleep I've found myself imagining, planning, and then eventually panicking about where I'm going to live, whether I will have enough money, whether I will see my friends, my family, whether I will be happy...

The movie I decided to watch most recently was Beastly. I'm sure you know the movie; a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a school in New York where being beautiful seems to get you ahead. As the movie progresses the now 'ugly' Alex Pettyfer is told by his tutor that "its not about how others see you, but how you see yourself."

Now I am all about thinking about the inside rather than the out and that kindness, goodness and justice should be sought wherever one can, especially over thinks like power, beauty and wealth. But something about that summary seemed too simple. It seemed to imply that the thoughts of others didn't matter and that you should be the centre of your own universe. Of course it is important to look after yourself, and yes I'm all for not giving a single damn about what someone thinks of me but only in certain situations.

I used to be far too concerned with pleasing other people and being worried about what they thought of me, When I was little I lied to try and make my bullies like me because I thought it would make me more impressive. When I was in high school I did things that I wasn't entirely comfortable or ready to do because I thought it would make me look cooler. As a young adult I starved myself and make myself ill because I thought if I looked thinner people might like me more. It got to the point where I gave so much that there was very little of me left to give in order to please or appeal to someone else.

My dad has always said I put other peoples needs and wants above my own, and I used to do this to such an extent that it damaged me. I could have turned completely the other way and made it all about me, like I have seen COUNTLESS people do which in someways I think is even more toxic. Deciding that you want to only do things that feel good for you right now is naive and selfish. Sorry to be blunt,but it's true, But instead I taught myself that its about judging the needs within that situation. So if I m tired, but someone needs my help or my time I have to decide am I the one in greater need or is this other person. It isn't always about me, but it isn't always about someone else either. I am not the centre of my universe, of course I am important, but what pushes me is not what I think of myself, or what others think of me. It isn't even what I think of other people. What motivates and pushes me is the relationships I have with people and how I think about them, myself and others on a wider scale.


Sometimes we all need to step back and look at things from a bigger perspective. And rather than looking what I need to do, or what someone else wants me to do, look at what I might do and how that effects both those around me and myself and address that need. Look to your future need, rather than the immediate. This last week I needed to rest and recuperate so that I could perform my best at work and still have enough energy to care for my friends and myself if needed. It isn't about how others see you, but how I treat myself and those around me. Ultimately, the way I fall asleep at night isn't because I know I will 'make it' or be rich or successful, but I fall asleep and dream safe in the knowledge that no matter what happens there are people who will care for me and who I can also care for and if all else fails I know my relationships are solid. That's where I find comfort, and I find those thoughts truly and wholly beautiful. 


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X

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Beating the Blues...

It's nearing the end of January. Christmas is long gone, we're all broke as hell and the news and politics of the world, much like the weather, makes you want to stay hidden under your covers and never, ever leave the safe warm snugglyness of your bed. But, alas, you do have to get up and go about your days and it's always around this time that people start to get a little blue. It happens every year. January 16th was blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year and, according to the Telegraph the bluest ever recorded so far.

I'm not going to lie to you. I am feeling it. I am tired. I'm stressed. I'm busy. Not unbearably so, but I'm feeling it. I've had terrible anxiety for the last week and a half and every day something happens that makes me want to curl up in a ball under my desk and nap my troubles away. But instead I have a coffee, have a quick mental pep talk and continue on. Once I'm home, of course I allow myself to have a rest and let go of the day. Yet still, that lingering feeling of heaviness clings on, urging me to give up, go home or get sad.

And I let it. I let myself feel sad. Not all the time and not too much, cause quite frankly no-one is that emotional and most times it would be incredibly inconvenient for so many people. But if I am sad, I let myself be sad. If I am cross, I let myself be cross. The same goes with stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness... I don't go sobbing and stomping and wailing about crying "woe is me my life is a mess" because I know I have so much good going on in my life. But when my depression and anxiety were at their worst I denied how
I felt. I hid it from the world. I was embarrassed and scared to admit how I really felt because I didn't think those around me would understand or care. I thought that my emotions defined me and I didn't want to be known as the severely depressed girl. 

It wasn't until those feeling came out in the most self destructive way possible that I realised that what I feel doesn't make me who I am. I have depression, and I have anxiety, but I am not just depressed and anxious. I am happy, and sad, and scared, and comfortable and a whole dictionary full of other adjectives. What I feel at one given moment does not define who I am permanently. Heck, it probably doesn't even define who I am for the rest of that day! 

How you feel is important. You need to acknowledge your emotions and reactions to things. But once you identify it, let it out. Let it go! (sorry I couldn't resist). Name your feelings, own it, work on it or work through it and learn how to deal with it again. That's what being healthy is all about. An athlete doesn't stop a sport completely if they pull a muscle. They stop, figure out the problem, rest, recover , stretch it out to test the muscle and start again. Your brain needs to work out using an entire spectrum of emotions. Sometimes it feels painful and you want to just give up, but don't. Please don't. Take it from me, at the point you feel like giving up that't when those emotions feel their worst and their strongest. But I am, you are, stronger than you could ever know. Keep going. Let it go. Beat the blues.






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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Why experiencing culture is always a priority.

There are many important things in my life. My family, my friends, my faith, my job... wine. But amongst these things there is another great passion which I always try my hardest to maintain and drive forward. My craving for culture. I get that this may sound snobby but, for me, culture feeds into every other part of my life. I mean of course it does. Everyone is surrounded by culture; their own and the culture of others around them. Recently someone asked me 'does Hull even have culture?' and rather then simply just rolling my eyes (because yes or course Hull has culture, and its a fascinating one) I explained how "everywhere has culture, you can't escape it, there is always something to widen your experience and diversify your mind". 


The dictionary defines culture in two ways; the first as 'the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively' and the second as 'the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.' Basically - wherever there are people, there is culture and there is culture in many forms. And everyone, therefore, experiences culture. 


The world is so full of culture in fact that some struggle to accept them all. The bigotry, hatred and division that the world sees so often comes down to a lack of acceptance towards a different form of culture to another. Race, gender, sexuality, language, size and class all contribute to culture, as they should, and often these things come through in the artistic displays you might associate with a cultural celebration. But culture takes so many forms and is where people find their identity.


Hull's 2017 City of Culture so far has been phenomenal. I have seen the city centre busier than ever before and everyone I know, plus some others I don't have their eyes on this city and are asking what's going on. But the best thing for me so far, has been the discussions fuelled by the events that have been organised so far. People are learning and thinking about Hull more than ever before. People who have been living in Hull longer than I've been alive are looking at their home from a whole new perspective. They are witnessing and experiencing the collective culture of so many people who are just like and also nothing like them. That is the power of experiencing culture, you place yourself in the place of another and see the world in a whole new way. That is why I will always consider culture a priority. Not just because it feeds into my own identity, but it teaches me about the identity and significance of others.






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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Loss and Life After It

This week I received some truly horrible news. I was informed that a good friend of mine had died over the Christmas season, that she had got sick and died shortly afterwards. It's always horrible when a loved one dies, but her death was so out of the blue, so sudden and that stung. Her death was unexpected, and the loss I felt was just as sudden. A few days on, I'm still sad, still shocked and I will miss her so so much.

But it got me thinking, loss is everywhere. Loss of loved ones, loss of time, loss of money. Loss is often at the root at most of our most traumatic and stressful periods. Theft - the loss of property, sickness - the loss of health, betrayal - the loss of trust. Loss effects everyone. At least in one capacity or another.

How we respond to loss tells us a lot about ourselves. With loss, comes grief and grief can be expressed though denial, anger, bargaining or depression and eventually one hopefully finds acceptance. Right now, I guess I'm at the bargaining stage; I'm doing other things, focusing on something because I don't want to think about the loss I feel. And there will be other people who deal with their feelings of loss in another way, which is okay, as long as that loss isn't always regarded or remembered as negative. 

Now, I am not saying that my friends death isn't a tragedy, because it absolutely is, but the times I spent with my friend, the laughs we shared, the joy, the stress, the quiet moments of kindness, they were wonderful. Although I may feel sad now, as it is only natural to feel, I can also be happy that I got to know her and that I am able to call her my friend.

After loss, life continues on. And for some that can seem brutal, harsh, but time doesn't stop. Loss is natural. But with loss, comes something new, and sometimes better, after. One may not see it at the time, but looking back you can see how you learned, adapted, changed and grew from that place. 

I will always miss those I have lost, and there are many other losses in my life that if I think about them too intently still cause my grief. However, with so many of these losses I can also see what I gained. I will miss my friend, but I will never forget the time we had. I feel so fortunate to have known her, and I will remember her and cherish her friendship always.




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For Lindsay 
1994 - 2016 
X

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Sunday, 8 January 2017

Made In Hull - Welcome to the City of Culture

City of Culture 2017 is well underway, and I am so proud to see Hull getting the coverage that it so richly deserves. In with a Bang brought Hull 2017 into the limelight and it hasn't stepped out of it since. This city is buzzing with energy and people can't seem to stop talking about all that's happening in Hull. The main subject on everyone's lips for the past week has been the first main instalment for 2017's first season; Made in Hull. A spectacular event with projections as well as visual and audio effects throughout the city centre. Check out the Hull 2017 social media pages for more shots if you didn't get to go yourself but do keep an eye out for the upcoming events. It was a great night out and at points was incredibly moving. There wasn't a person around me who didn't seem to enjoy it.

It was so great to see so many people in Hull and everyone I've spoken to has something positive to say about it. It truly has been an exciting start to the year. I'm so excited for the year ahead.

Check out my pictures below and stay tuned for some new, exciting things happening this week.










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Sunday, 1 January 2017

Goodbye, Hello - a new years post

Many people will see this year as a stain in history for so many reasons. The political and social controversy, the new and ongoing wars, the natural disasters and the loss lives that affected so many of us. Of course other people have so many things that will also have contributed to their opinions of this year and will therefore be glad to see the end of it. I'm sure many of you have seen the "2016 - horror movie" video that's floating around Facebook and if you choose to see it from that perspective then yeah, 2016 was a pretty crap year. 

However, when I look at my year (as in what happened to me or what I did this year) 2016 wasn't terrible. I graduated, with a 2:1 in a subject I love, I've been the happiest and most confident I've been in a long while, I got my ideal graduate job working for Hull 2017 throughout City of Culture, made amazing new friends and grew in ways I didn't know possible and therefore learned a lot about myself. Yes, the year has been challenging and there have been times I have been sad and sometimes even scared for what the future may hold, as I know many other people have too, but we came through these things. We came out stronger and like in all scenarios of significant change it became an opportunity to learn. Looking back, the past can be a useful tool to see how we could do things differently. Every year has highs and lows, and it might feel like 2016 was a whole lotta low, but there were highs during the year too, you just have to take the time to remember them, no matter how little they may seem compared to everything else.

As I have mentioned before, Little Victories are the ways I chose to look back on what had gone before in order to find something good in what felt to me like a whole lot of bad. So I am choosing to do that for the past year. And as well as looking back, I'm taking time to look forward to the year ahead.

New Years resolutions have never been a thing that sat well with me - the whole "new year, new me" crap just seems to belittle the person you were literally the day before. I'm all for self development but to set challenges that are unrealistic results in an unhealthy thought process. You don't INSTANTLY need to become someone new and 'improved' because the numbers on the date have changed. You are still you, and you are great as you are. If you want to change something then go ahead, but don't punish yourself. I guess my whole angst around this comes from peoples attitudes to fitness or loosing weight in the new year. Again, its great if people want to get healthier, in fact I want to get healthier and improve my fitness and I would encourage others to do so too. BUT, so often I hear people say they want to "loose weight fast" or they want to look like someone else. That's where I start to worry. You will always look like you, and development takes time and hard work. There isn't an 'easy' fix and honestly you shouldn't feel like you need to fix yourself. 

Don't look back on the year and look at the negative, instead know that change is possible, you can learn from it and you should take each day at a time. To have goals is wise and I would always encourage people to set them, I have set goals myself for the upcoming year. But I would also encourage people to be aware that plans may change and therefore so would your goals, and these changes could effect your body, mind, career, relationships and or your finances. We as a whole seem to place so much emphasis and pressure on change, in both a negative and positive way. As 2016 ends, a year when change caused so much distress for so many, and 2017 begins, and so many are looking to change as a thing they have to do, I think we need to remember change isn't always bad, and neither is it always good. Change is inevitable, we can't control it. What we can control, is how we respond to it.

So as this year ends, remember the good along side the bad, and look to the new year with hope but also with the expectation that it too won't be perfect. Take each day as it comes, be good to yourself and try your hardest in all that you do. You got this. Make 2017 a year to remember and remember all that you can. Thank you 2016, but its about time you were over. Bring on the happy new year.



Happy New Year :) 


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