5 little coping mechanisms for when life gets you down

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I was supposed to spend the weekend just gone catching up on various stuff, blogging included, after a stressful couple of months but it didn’t happen. Since I’ve been blogging less, I’ve used social media less and I’ve gotten used to being detached from my phone and the internet more and I think that change will stay. It’s no lie that social detoxes do wonders for the mind and for anxiety. I’ve been ill the past week with some sort of virus and cough and stayed inside for 48 hours, so rather than stare at screen all weekend, we drove down to Worthing to visit Dan’s dad and had a lovely, fresh and airy little break. (Thanks @Dannyboyjnr for the photo skills displayed above).

We’ve managed to get on top of  most of our issues including living situation, home buying, car owning and storage issues in the past ten days, but it hasn’t been the prettiest start to the year. I definitely think adult life should come with harsher warnings, or even just a good sit down in a pub for half hour where someone tells you that things will get shit, then probably worse, then be really hard before they get better. Insert mum, dad, Hermione Granger, a wise cat – whoever you like.

These are the things that have got me through this irritating little patch of life and I can confirm they have all eased my woes for at least fifteen minutes, but some for much longer.

1) Walking

You cannot beat literally walking your worries away. The further into my twenties I get, the more I seem to want to go for walks. Obviously countryside and sprawling views of natural beauty would always be preferred, but even walking round the block or a longer way home from the station will do it. We blew away the cobwebs on the Sussex Downs on Saturday then spent Sunday morning strolling around Arundel and I feel a million times better for it.

2) Paying closer attention to sleep

I’m quite bad for letting myself get overly tired then having a casual 12 hour sleep marathon to try and fix it, but it doesn’t work for me. Being extra strict on bedtimes and setting alarms even on weekends (I mean, nothing before 8:45/9 because I’m not an alien) stops me from over-sleeping, which just makes me feel gross and lethargic and is all a bit sad.

3) A ‘three things to accomplish’ list for every working day

I’ve actually found work a relaxing escape from dealing with daunting admin and life decisions lately (no YOU need to sort your life out) and I saw someone on Twitter going on about hand-writing three things you want to achieve every day when you first sit down at work. I did every day I worked last week and a couple the week before and it’s quite nice, if not just because ticking something off a list is satisfying as hell.

4) Separation from the news

I can’t ever be that far from current events partly because I work in a press environment and partly because I just don’t like it, but a little bit of down time is good for the soul. The news is freaking mental 99% of the time at the moment, and when I’m not pulling ‘WHAT THE F’ faces I’m feeling sad about the state of the world, so time away from Twitter and news sites has been cathartic.

5) Eat better, feel better

Yeah, yeah, yeah I know, LAME. But as someone who doesn’t really have a bad diet anyway, I really notice the difference in how I feel physically when stress eating kicks in. Roaming the kitchen looking for anything carb-laden and chocolate covered has been a 2017 hobby of mine. I need to stop though, and I have mostly (apart from this weekend because cake and red wine and life) and when I eat well, I do feel a billion times better for it. Now I just need to dose up on willpower and I’ll be dandy.

How social media and blogging transformed my health anxiety

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I think I probably see at least two tweets a day with links to articles or blog posts singing the praises of the digital detox. Generation Y- the people who have a smart phone in their hand while in bed, in the bath or on the toilet (you’ve all done it). We use social media too much apparently. We stare at our glowing little screens for too long. We’re obsessed with other people. It’s bad for our mental health. It’s bad for our self-esteem. Probably all true to a degree.

I use my phone too much. I went to college in the rise of Facebook. I did journalism as a degree when the digital age was starting to thrive and print magazines were starting to die. “Sign up to Twitter!” “Start a blog!” “Learn about SEO!” I did a module at uni that required everyone taking part to set up a blog. This was 2010, and the first time I delved into WordPress and started getting my head around tags and catergories or trying to think about content someone- anyone at all, would want to read. Then I graduated and forgot my password.

Fast forward two years and I was in my first permanent job after uni, doing some web stuff, learning all about diabetes and dipping my toes into digital marketing. Oh and I also had crippling pains in my shoulders when I breathed and was waiting on endless referrals and seeing endless physios and rheumatologists and puzzled cardiologists who couldn’t work out what the sudden deterioration in my physical health was.

I just assumed it was something wrong with my joints and that some physio would probably fix it, but the longer it dragged on and the more symptoms that appeared, the more confused I got. Anyway, finally, months later and after one partial hip dislocation, I got a sort of diagnosis. “You’ve got a rare disease that we don’t know much about and we haven’t got the testing right yet, but you’ll be okay for now asking as long you don’t keep dislocating things and become immobile.” Okay so I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of what I got told, because there really isn’t much known about JHEDS- Joint Hypermobility Ehlers Danlos, to be precise.

Jolly good, I thought. I’ll just erm, go and continue life while my joints fall apart and wait for the day some lengthy research is finished so I can Google it?

I tried to do some research, typing in random words doctors had said and even turning to those live chat forums where an alleged doctor answers you. Like, who are these people? Why do they all look like stock image models in their photos and are they really there? I have some serious doubts, plus one chat led me to being told perhaps I ate too much food colouring. Legit, I’m sure.

Around about that time, my colleagues started receiving requests from the local council for us to contribute to their blog. The task fell to me and after writing a bit and delving back into blogging, I started to wonder if there was a blog out there for everything…and every health condition. This is the internet, where you can see micro-pigs ride around on turtles, surely there was something that could help me. It took less than hour to find several blogs that told the stories of patients who’s joints were breaking, bodies were bruising and limbs were hurting. You know in films where something falls into place and a light shines down like angels are using a torch or something? That was me, right then.

There were people all over the planet, not loads but some, writing about the same sort of condition that I had. People who actually understood, who hadn’t got the right answers from doctors and who had advice I could take on board. They knew how it felt. This also led me to discover the phrase ‘not rare, but rarely diagnosed.’ I was not alone, which was nice to know.

The blog discovery flipped a switch and I started searching Twitter. I found people who tweeted about connective tissue disorders. Imagine loving reality TV and selfies and drama more than anything and discovering the Kardashians for the first time.

It became clear that I needed to join this community. I wanted to do health communications/marketing as a job, and I needed support for my own health, as anxiety and stress was making me feel even worse than the pain. I needed the virtual pat on back and look of understanding these Twitter accounts could offer me. So I started blogging. I started tracking down people who had the same condition as me, or similar, and tweeting them. I sent them, very nervously and after much deliberation and hovering, links to my first blog post.

Looking back, I got a pretty overwhelming response.  People were so kind. People offered me advice, shared their stories, read my writing, shared it on and suddenly I had more Twitter followers, people were subscribing to my blog and I felt about 99.9% less lost and scared than I had several months before, leaving hospital appointments with just words and confusion.

To this day, the online community of rare disease sufferers, chronic pain fighters and fellow connective tissue lackers make me feel better. They make me feel confident I’ll get through bad days, they educate me and they give me a connection to people who understand how I’m feeling. There’s a line though, as sometimes too much information, perhaps not specific to you, can cause more anxiety, so I try to digest just the right amount.

It might not be ideal that we have phones glued to our hands and share everything we eat and wear on Instagram, but social media and blogging helped my health in ways I can’t even measure.

When did our 20s become the era of paranoia?

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I’ve read enough articles, lists, blogs and spent enough time on social media (believe me) to know that a lot of people in their twenties spend a massive proportion of their time worrying. Girls especially, but that might just be my skewed view as I follow more girls on social media, read women columnists more and generally get a lot of my material from blogs- predominately written by females.

I fall into the worrier category. I fall into it so hard I would like to put myself forward as team leader, get us all uniforms and arrange the Christmas social so we can talk about what we’re scared of over some gins and then get cheesy chips after. (Genuinely, I would be up for this).

I don’t know when it happened, it certainly hasn’t always been this way, but I literally spend my life paranoid and it’s mostly about health, money and other people. Having a chronic illness nestled within my body wreaking havoc doesn’t help, and I have plenty of very good, medically certified reasons to be worried, but I go beyond those. I just worry for worry’s sake. It’s pretty much my hobby now. But thanks to the power of the internet and very few thoughts being sacred, I can (sort of) relax in the fact I’m not alone.

My peers are just as paranoid as me.

God, we need to sort ourselves out. Whenever I read a tweet from a friend who’s worrying about something to do with health or finance or any other young adult topic, I just want to reach over and whisper “don’t worry pal, me too.” That sounds creepier than I intend it to be. But if you are one of these worrisome people, please try and take a breath and lessen the teeth grinding and anxiety in your stomach, you’ve got some company. There are others out there right now doing all the things we know are bad for us- Googling symptoms, scrolling through unrealistic Instagram accounts, comparing careers to people older and much more experienced and staring at our banking apps and thinking ‘where’s the money gone?’

Exhausting though, isn’t it? As much as I want to take a chill pill and feel the way I felt when I was about 20 (which by default was tipsy, warm inside and free) and roam around like I’m indestructible and totally on top of everything, I just can’t. The paranoia and the concern have crept up and taken hold and they’re not just here for a sleepover, they want to stay longterm. Cute. NOT.

It hasn’t been all bad- it’s given me ambition. It’s made do things outside of work that create work that ultimately make me extra money, help me get contacts and help me grow audiences for things like this blog- all because I was worried I wasn’t doing enough career wise. People actually read this blog, which is still amazing even now, and people actually reach out to talk to me off their own back and tell me they like my blog- even more amazing. So yeah, in some ways, I’m kind of thankful for it, but there has to come a time when it stops.

There’s only so much time in one day, and wasting too much of it worried about every ache, pain, thinner looking friend or more retweeted article than your own will only result in a downward spiral of misery. And making other people happy above ourselves, despite the fact we’ll carry on doing it forever anyway, is no good. It’s just no good.

Worried about your fertility? About your chances of buying a house? About your liver? About those headaches you get? Your overdraft? Your credit rating? Not being travelled enough? Not going out enough? Not getting enough attention from certain friends?

The list goes on and it could just get bigger and bigger and evolve the older we get, or we can learn to accept, which as someone who hasn’t got to that point can contest to- it ain’t easy.

This era of worrying might pass, and who am I to even speak for people in their twenties, I’m only half way through. I just want to worry less and I think I could round up a small (or maybe world domination size) army of people who would like to join me in that. Throwing away youth on endless amounts of worry and paranoia sounds awful and I do not want to look back and realise that’s what I did. I want to do EVERYTHING and have a lot of fun while I’m doing it.

Let’s go start a revolution shall we? (Or let’s just have an early night and not Google ovary disorders for a while). Baby steps.

Wandering through your twenties doesn’t mean you’re lost

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Your mid-twenties are a bit of a weird time. You either aren’t where you thought you would be, or you are and you now want something else. Or you just have absolutely no idea about anything but things seem okay so you keep going with the flow (me) and hope for the best. Whatever your general feels are, you probably at some point have felt like you’re wandering in no general direction- it can’t just be me that constantly feels this way. (This is where I look for reassuring nods and shouts of OMG YEAH ME TOO.

It doesn’t apply to everything in life. I think you can have some aspects totally sorted, like having a good job that you like, or living somewhere you can see yourself staying, or being in a steady relationship, and still feel like you are aimlessly sauntering along, spending too much money on meal deals and communicating with people mostly via emoji. I mean, I quite enjoy a good WhatsApp conversation with my nearest and dearest using mostly sassy pink emoji girl and the happy poo, it’s 2015 after all.

I started to mildly panic at the start of this year that my life was okay, and there wasn’t one big thing that needed fixing, but that I had no direction. I think there was probably an evening where I laid in bed eating a 3500 calorie pick and mix from Wilkos while silently asking myself questions like WHERE? WHY? HOW? WHAT NEXT? Well I have no earthly idea tbh. I did throw together some sort of vague plan for the end of the year which I am sticking to- moving and saving, but that’s it. The wandering will continue until then, during this time and most probably after.

Despite having plans to aim for, I still have quite a big sketchy question mark that sort of floats around over my head like I’m a Sim. A Sim who’s being made to play chess to improve their skills and get promoted but they just don’t know why, and quite frankly, they don’t want to. I always thought my poor Sims would tell me to fuck off regularly if they could. Particularly Mortimer Goth. Anyway, Sims and question marks aside, it’s not all bad is it, this wandering business? If feels a bit daunting sometimes remembering how long ago you were a student, how long ago you were a teenager, how long ago you were at school and just how insanely fast life seems to be going. But still, it’s not so bad. The going away when you want, not knowing where you’ll be six months down the line, going travelling because you want to, applying to work abroad because you want to. Unsettled maybe, but it’s definitely not boring, and thank God for that.

So it might be a good idea if we just wander as much as we can, because looking back on the last few years, I’ve had a ball for the most part, and it’s all come about because I have pretty much just done things on a whim. I wish I could stop having waves of worry over my life and turning to binge eating and watching people fail at things on youtube (basically therapy).  I think most people will come over a bit panic-ridden and need a lie down with Bridesmaids and Cadbury’s finest selection from time to time, because getting older IS SCARY. But the thing about getting older is, you’re getting older (it’s science you see) and we might not be able to wander and be free as much in the future (let’s face it, we won’t). So let’s just take advantage of not knowing what the hell will be happening in our lives in 12 months. It might lead to really amazing stuff like travels, a whole new career, maybe even a puppy if you’re REALLY fortunate. Or maybe you’ll like, get married, have a baby, get a house and start doing real food shopping (no one panic, booking a holiday to Thailand and changing your bedroom colour scheme works too.)

Just because we’re wandering, doesn’t mean we’re lost.

Realising as you grow up that there’s a good reason ‘beautiful’ means something different to everyone

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I found the card in the picture above on the floor in a Subway when I was steaming drunk after my sister’s 21st boat party. I carried it home laughing like a maniac while eating three different kinds of cookie (dessert obvs). That is completely unrelated to what will follow, I just quite like the idea of it and I would 100% have bought it if I saw it in a shop.

Anyway.

The other day on the tube, where I can so often be found, I was listening to these school girls talk about who was the most fancied girl in their year. I felt like grabbing them and being like, ‘babes, seriously, don’t worry about this, because it will ALL change.’ When I think back to what I aspired to when I was 15 I get a horrible image of over-straightened hair, bright orange bronzer and far too tight clothes. I remember being envious of girls who everyone looked up to for being the prettiest and the most popular. In actual fact, it was more of who wore the most makeup and who played up the most in class for some laughs. As ridiculous as it seems now, back then it was serious, and it made a lot of people feel like shit. I definitely wasn’t one of those girls.

As soon as I left sixth form, and got started meeting new people at uni and got a whole new circle of close friends, I started to realise how different everyone sees beauty. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from a small town, or just because the majority of people conform at school, but I found it so amazing. I would look at people when I was 18 and think they looked stupid because they were different. This sounds horrendous as well, but I would never have looked at anyone who wasn’t a size 10 and though they looked good. As soon as I got exposed to a new world full of totally different people from different places, everything changed. I started seeing beautiful as being different and having enough confidence to leave the house without caring what anyone might think. I also began to look at people who were clearly very happy with who they were as beautiful regardless of their size or what their face looked like.

I am so, SO glad that there are millions of people who like different things and see beauty completely differently to others, it makes the world a much more interesting place. It’s also quite comforting to think you can be whoever you want and somewhere, someone in the world thinks your beautiful. I don’t believe there are that many people out there who don’t want to be considered beautiful at least sometimes. It makes you feel good when someone pays you attention and while I’m a lot less bothered about what people think when they cast their eyes on me now, it’s still nice to have someone find you attractive or pay you a compliment. It just is. I mean, not so much weird strangers on the tube who are close enough to lick you, but you get my point.

Beautiful nowadays revolves a lot around how many filters you can apply to it, how inhumanly smooth you can make skin look and how much you can alter yourself to look like what you think people want. Pretty depressing, no? Women aren’t going to stop wearing makeup, botox clinics aren’t going to be out of work and Instagram aint going nowhere, and that’s fine, just as long we don’t forget that these aren’t real interpretations of life. There isn’t one type of beautiful for everyone to aspire to, and thanks to that we live in a world where everyone can be beautiful. Hold tight young girls who feel constantly ugly because you don’t look like the plastics (Mean Girls references are still relevant right?!) because there will come a time when you look back and realise you were perfectly fine as you were.

5 signs that tell you it’s time to end a friendship

I’ve droned on a lot on this blog about how important I find it to have good friends. By good friends, I mean friends you actually like and want to spend time with. Friends that make you feel supported and happy but you know you can rely on for the truth when you need it (that dress makes you look like roadkill, burn it. etc etc). It’s also good to have friends you miss when you don’t see them for ages. Missing people is important. You know like, “OH MY GOD I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN SO LONG HAS YOUR HAIR GROWN HALF AN INCH?”

It sounds obvious that you would of course have friends like this, but actually, it seems pretty normal for people to keep company with so called friends who they actually don’t like. I know people do it, because I see it all the time. I hear it from people who moan and say things like ‘well she’s my friend but I actually can’t stand her.’ Errrr….sorry? ‘Friend’ and ‘can’t stand her’ don’t belong together. My most shared post is about this, so I guess people relate.

You know when a friendship has gone bad. You just do. The prospect of seeing someone makes you feel anxious, unexcited and probably bloody miserable. You probably also put it off to the point you’ve moved onto medieval ailments and who’s likely to believe you have scurvy? You can’t be bothered, you have nothing to say and you worry about what they’ll think about your clothes or hair or that you have nothing impressive enough to tell them. You also suspect they want to see you partly to brag and make you feel a bit crappy.

In my friend culling experience, there are signs that tell you exactly when to pull the plug.

1) You feel anxious before you meet up. Why? Because they make you feel shit and you feel the need to impress when all you should be doing is eating too many carbs and laughing about that time you tripped over a dog and cut both knees. (That happened to me). You worry about them not messaging you, when actually you have nothing to say anyway. You probably also worry they’ll go away and talk about you after.

2) You don’t want to be alone with them. If you can’t happily lounge on a sofa with a friend one on one and at least fill half hour, why are you bothering?

3) Silence is concerning. You absolutely think OMG THEY DEFINITELY HATE ME. THEY ARE TELLING EVERYONE I AM AWFUL. Bet you have friends who you also don’t speak to for weeks but never worry about it? Yep. That’s a good friend.

4) You would definitely rather they weren’t joining in. Maybe you’re now only friends with them because other friends like them. I’ve been in situations where hearing a ‘friend’ is joining a social event has made me feel disheartened. You know that sort of heart sinking bitter disappointment you get from hearing a piece of news? A bit like when the milkshake machine is broken in McDonalds.

5) You just DON’T like them anymore.

It took me too long to realise the above mean a friendship isn’t working out. Working it out meant a happier but smaller friendship group and a happier me.

For everyone having ‘one of those days’

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So today is most definitely one of those days. What I mean by that is, I will be bloody glad when it comes to a close. I have a cold, I commuted on a packed tube then had to leave work four hours later as I was so sneezy and snotty, I have LOADS of work to do, I queued for 15 minutes in a shop to buy soup, I lost my tissues, ripped my tights BLAH BLAH BLAH. I mean I could go on to my woes of finding a white bra this morning but I won’t.

This blog post is not particularly about anything apart from how it feels on these days that just don’t go right and I essentially fancy a rant. I’ve been aiming to post everyday Monday-Friday because i’ve had really good traffic lately, but I couldn’t for the life of me write a thing yesterday. Instead I watched Parks and Recreation and ate crumpets.

Anyway, bad days: I’ve had tons of them in the last 6 months, for various reasons. Stress has basically become my full time partner in life, brining with it ecezema, exhaustion, bad moods, weird sleep pattern and a constant need to eat things that consist mainly of butter and sugar. It’s not been fun (but I have enjoyed eating EVERYTHING). It’s not been ideal. I’m trying really hard to de-stress myself and stop worrying about EVERYTHING, because omg, think of the most trivial thing possible and I can guarantee I worry about it. Yesterday I got concerned about kitchen tap looking a slightly different colour. Someone post me a life.

I’m quite evidently not alone here, I happen to have a few friends and colleagues with a lot going on at the moment, and we’ve just been ranting and raving and stressing and then laughing about it and then ranting again. It’s become the circle of life. You know how it is when nothing will go right and you have motivation of a flea? Well that is basically life right now. I’m not on a massive Debbie downer and about to paint my nails black and take a vow of silence or anything, but can SOMETHING nice and fun and easy just happen?

I’m trying to tackle this awkward life phase with plans. I love plans. I’m basically a planning machine much to many people’s despair, but I love it so I don’t give a shit. Tonight for example, my oldest friend is coming over and we will drink tea, Watch Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, google nice bikinis and I will exfoliate my gross nose. Sexy. The rest of the weekend I will spend at home with my mum, instagramming my dog, eating and doing a lot of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I also have really fun plans for next weekend to look forward to and I might even go wild and get a haircut. Life.

The thought of all of these things take the edge off. I mean, I do have a tissue stuffed in my nose right now and I am about to drink raw ginger, but ultimately, the bad day will end. For everyone else having an absolute shocker, plan something nice and make a cup of tea. I know that’s the most obvious, basic advice ever, but tea and good thoughts will look after you.

Happiness: A good place to start is with yourself

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The quest for happiness is real. It’s everywhere. You don’t have to look far, particularly online, to see ways that people are trying to be happier. Dieting, wardrobe overhauls, taking up hobbies and exercise, finding ways to feel better about life in general. We’re all at it. And we document it extensively. We Instagram it and tweet it and show everyone what we’re doing. HIYA LOOK AT ME AT PILATES BEING SPIRITUAL AND CLEANSING MY SOUL TO BE HAPPIER. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person.

Chances are, putting a photo of your lovely flowers online and hashtagging happiness, won’t actually improve your mental health. But we all know that deep down, because we are not idiots.

Everyone wants a piece of happiness and rightly so. A lot of time when I read about people trying to change their lives to be a bit more blissful, it’s usually centred around things that involve or please other people. I feel like there’s this big, fat missing point that you can’t be really happy unless you’re happy with yourself. You can’t force happiness into any old situation you might happen to be in. You can’t fake it or just pretend. It makes sense right? If you are generally, honestly really happy with the way you are and the way YOUR life is, then surely that’s the most important thing?

A couple of years ago I thought happiness could be found in being skinnier. Before that I thought it was found in being the same as everyone else around me at that time, liking the same music, wanting the same jobs, getting as drunk and going out as much as them and just feeling accepted. Last year I thought it could be found in keeping up with my friends. Earning as much, saving as much, moving house, getting promotions. All it did was make me feel exhausted, inadequate and pissed off. Like, angry at life. Angry at myself. Angry at all these people who in actual fact I love, I was just trying hard to keep up with. I wasn’t remotely happy with myself, I was just trying to do what everyone else seemed to do to be happy. I mean, when you actually write it down, it makes it seem really, seriously lame.

I don’t know how to be eternally happy with myself. I don’t know how to stop feeling like I need to compete with people or keep an eye on what my friends are doing constantly. I don’t know how to combat negative energy and make it irrelevant to me. I don’t know how to do any of it and I don’t know anyone who does, but I like to think I will one day. What I have slowly come to know though, is that when people aren’t happy with themselves they constantly search for reassurance and approval, it’s draining. It’s negative. It’s not what I want for my friends or anyone else and definitely not for me.

I am about as happy with myself now as I ever have been, but there’s still a way to go. That goes for a lot of people I’m close to. They are in good places, but  we definitely still have lessons to learn and bad habits to shed. It’s pretty easy to tell when someone’s faking having the best life ever. I mean, I could post a photo of me looking absolutely thrilled at work eating some kind of superfood salad in expensive clothes and some money thrown around me for good measure. But I won’t, because a) I’m not insane and b) It’s so far from the truth of my life. Instead of aiming to copy what the masses are doing to feel happy, I think we all need to concentrate on number one. I would be okay with someone aspiring to my happiness if it truly came from me instead of some unrealistic ideal I’ve latched onto.

For my friends with anxiety, and partly for me

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A few years ago I thought anxiety was just temporary nerves. I thought it meant someone was nervous about an actual physical event like a job interview or public speaking or medical examinations. They are the sorts of things I associated with anxiety. You fear, they happen, you move on.

Well fast forward to now, end of February 2015 and I know anxiety to be something very different. I don’t have anxiety. I may have had bouts of it in my life, but on the whole, I wouldn’t say I suffer with it. I can’t therefore, go into great detail about how it works and what it feels like because what the hell do I know? Well, I do know one thing, which is not as insignificant as I originally thought: I know that helping out someone who suffers with anxiety is no mean feat. This sounds a bit ‘hooray for me, what a hero I think I am’ but seriously, it’s really bloody important.

Some people very close to me, who I love and see or speak to practically every single day of my life, have anxiety. They’re very different people and feel it in very different ways, but it’s there. That anxiety has come to have quite a bit impact on my life, because for a long time, I just didn’t get it. I got a bit frustrated with people, and started to think ‘why can’t they just snap out of it?’ That sounds harsher written down than it felt in my head, because I wasn’t angry or hurtful about it, I just didn’t understand what the problem was. I wanted them to do more and enjoy things and socialise and meet new people with me and I didn’t get the big deal over things I don’t think twice about.

Now though, I get it.My few close loved ones who suffer from this condition don’t need to snap out of anything. They don’t need to be pushed or prodded or continually reminded about it. They just need time. The best thing you can give someone as a friend is a time. I can’t give them professional help or personal experience advice or much else that I wish I could. But I can let them get on with it, be there when they want me, help out if I can, be a hand to hold or voice on the phone (or whatsapp, because who actually phones anymore?) or a partner in gin drinking OR just let them totally blank me out for a while. These people have helped me with my shit, even if they don’t know it and now I want to do it back.

Seeing what anxiety can do from the outside looking in has made me a much more patient friend and I guess this an apology to those people that it took me so long. This post probably doesn’t make all that much sense and in the grand scheme of things, not many people will read it, but since writing has become therapeutic to me in a really weird time of my life, I felt compelled to write about my lovely friends.  Mental health is a weird one, and who am I to write about it when I have never personally been hugely impacted by it? Well mainly I’m a friend who now gets it and I hope that everyone who doesn’t yet can join me soon.

Girls, be nicer to other girls

Girls go through a lot of crap. I’m not saying boys don’t either, but as I’m not one I can’t really comment. After 24 years of being a certified female, it’s increasingly obvious that girls need to be nicer to other girls. I am not obsessed with feminism and I don’t look into every situation and think ‘this is unfair to women’ but that doesn’t mean I don’t openly disagree with bitches bitching at each other and being just generally very bitchy. We can sympathise with each other and we have vaginas, which really do throw up some problems men can’t always relate to, so why is there so much negativity and so little help?

It’s not all about having a vagina in common, obviously. We need to stick together a bit. At a time when emotional support has been important to me and my wellbeing, I’ve realised how much girls can knock each other down. My friends are all lovely and luckily I get the good kind of support I need, when I need it.  It’s no great secret that social media and indirectly trying to make people jealous of you happens all day every day in this day and age, but my God, give each other a break. I have friends who are so badly affected by self-esteem issues that they hide away and avoid social situations, let alone looking at Instagram.

I saw on Twitter this morning a lifestyle blogger who I really enjoy and markets herself as ‘plus-sized’ tweeting about vile abuse she receives from people online. When I looked through her replies and Instagram comments, it was probably 90% women. It’s awful. Online bullying is vile, and I know friends of mine with big personalities online have suffered from it. I’ve also witnessed, on nights out with big groups of girls, how much some people play up to making others feel bad about everything and anything they can. It might be a short-lived boost to your own self-esteem to feel better than someone, but in the long-term really, what do you get out of it?

I mean come on, the struggle can be very real. We have to fight a lot of battles- periods, hormones,  career worries, babies, birth, weight problems and so many other things. CYSTITIS. OMG CYSTITIS. Without really nice friends that can relate to all manner of bladder issues and help me with advice and support, my bladder would probably have ruined my life last year. That’s just one example of the many things that come up daily in life that I know I need a fellow female to chat to about, or make me feel better about. A lot of the time it isn’t problems that are exclusive to girls, it’s just nice to have another girl to stand alongside you and say ‘I FEEL YOUR PAIN.’ It shouldn’t get to the point where I don’t want to post a bikini photo on Instagram in case I make someone feel bad and think people might think I am showing off because I look alright in this one and so subsequently not posting it. Let’s just take five minutes to think about each other and be a little bit nicer, eh?

I need the girls in my life and I’m absolutely sure I’m not the only one.

girls