Sunday, 29 December 2013

Guest Blogging on Anxiety and Depression

Just a heads up to let you all know I've started guest blogging for The Red Falcon Project - a website with the aim of bringing people together who are struggling with mental illness, physical illness, homelessness, addiction, adoption, bereavement etc.

I'll probably do a post every month or so, and of course I'll let you know when posts go up. And if you'd like to contribute then speak to Jack, he'd love to hear from you.

My first post went up today, wittily titled, The Bi-Polar Opposites of Depression (haha). It has a little bit more of a background on me:

Depression comes in many different forms. It affects many people for all manner of reasons. But there is one similarity between all cases; it deeply affects your ability to be truly happy.
I have recently been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, yet I’ve struggled with it for the past two years. As it happens, my oldest and bestest friend has also been diagnosed with depression (must be contagious haha). However, our stories are polar opposites. Read More...

I'll probably post on here again soon, giving you all a break from my whining so you can enjoy your lives!

Monday, 23 December 2013

All I Want For Christmas Is.... To Want Something

As I have become more depressed, I feel as though I have become more philosophical. I question 'What is the point?' all the time. I don't know what it is that I want. I think about it all the time.

When I'm in a shop, I think about what I want to buy. Maybe I've gone in there to buy something in particular, a chocolate bar or a book. Maybe I'm just browsing. Either way there's nothing I want. Even if I'm in there because I need something, like a quick snack to keep me going, I always avoid buying anything. I really question the point and necessity of what I'm buying, the cost, the implications of buying, the effort involved (how long the queue is). Normally I don't get whatever I went in for. There's just nothing I want enough.

Ok so maybe I'm not materialistic. It saves me money so there's nothing to worry about. That's normal.

I don't want to party. I never really go out anymore, because I don't see the point. I'll spend at least £20 on alcohol, which will only make me feel awful in the morning, a good £20 on getting home... what has that accomplished? Usually the music is too loud to be able to speak to my friends, and its usually its either too crowded or too empty to enjoy. This list could go on....

Ok, so maybe going out is not for me. It used to be. I used to love it. I must have outgrown it. That's normal.

I don't want children. Yeah I am a bit young for it yet, but I think that the only reason I'd have a family is for purely selfish reasons. The world is overcrowded and there's a lack of jobs and food and homes. I don't think I'd ever earn enough money to support a family. What would be the point in bringing another child into it?

Ok, so maybe that's not for me either (yet). That's normal.

I don't know what I want to do. I've never known what I want to be when I grow up really. I've played around with ideas, but nothing has ever caught my attention for long enough. My job at the moment is ok, but do I really want to do this til I'm 70? (yeah, 70. Thanks to David Cameron for that one!) I struggle to get out of bed for it now. I couldn't cope with just 'living for the weekend' for the rest of my life.

What is for me? What do I want? It's not normal not to want anything!! 

What scares me is that I'm just not going to care anymore. I'm not going to want to want. I'm going to give up altogether. I feel that soon I'm not going to get out of bed. The only reason I do at the moment is because of routine. How long can routine last?

I'm sorry to be so awfully depressing right before Christmas. I hope all my readers have a wonderful, happy and relaxing few days. Merry Christmas x

Friday, 20 December 2013

Avoiding the Staff Christmas Party, Thanks Anxiety

Right now I should be at the staff Christmas Party, a posh, slap up meal and drinks all paid for at a five star hotel in Knightsbridge. Why the bloody hell aren't I there?

The way I manage my anxiety at the moment is like a marathon. I time myself to get through it. A working day (about 8 hours) is about as much as I can handle in one go. I could not face another potential four hours on top.

In addition, I'm still fairly new to the company and haven't made good enough friends with anyone yet who I could stick with if I was feeling out of place. Usually I find one person I feel safe around that I socialise with, so I don't have to do it on my own. At the moment I don't have that person, so I know I would feel particularly awkward having to make conversation with lots of different people I don't really know.

Recently, my anxiety is particularly bad (hence why I've told my GP), and I'm having trouble managing it. I know that putting myself in an unfamiliar situation would heighten the intensity of it, but I'd be stuck there until at least after the dinner. I know that I would panic about panicking and put myself into a really bad state of mind.

Getting out of tonight's party was not easy either. Everyone else was in a proper good mood and high spirits, and trying to persuade me to come. Tonight I made the illness excuse. 'What's wrong with you?' they ask. Well actually a bloody huge amount and you're only gonna make it worse, is what I feel like saying. But I have to shrug it off as some pathetic head cold. I have to be that unpopular person who fakes being sick all the time to avoid parties, which doesn't help the whole making friends thing.

I really wish I could go tonight, but I just couldn't. Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

#FoodBankDebate: How Long Can We Let This Go On?

In parliament today, our politicians, who are 'elected' to represent us, turned down the possibility of tackling the use of food banks by implementing measures to reduce the cost of living. This comes just a week before Christmas when an estimated 60,000 people will make use of food banks to feed their starving families.

Surprise, surprise, our 'leaders' seemed indifferent to this fact. Of course, you can't expect them to understand the real cost of living when they receive 11% pay rises and have a breakfast menu as cheap as this:

Our politicians are failing to understand the needs of their constituencies. Instead of facing the problems of national debt, they blame the vulnerable for 'scrounging', and use this as propaganda to justify for the removal and reductions in benefits, and the introduction of bedroom tax. It is these people who are being scapegoated that are finding themselves in need of emergency food.

Don't get me wrong, I think food banks are doing a great job, but they are only a short term solution. How long will it be before people start taking this matter seriously, instead of walking out?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

What Have You Got To Be Depressed About?

I have a great life. I have great parents and an amazing boyfriend. I have a job. We all know just having a job is good in society today. None of my family have died, nothing's gone hugely wrong. What makes me depressed is me. I hate myself. I regret everything I say. I cannot dare to read back over a blog post because I cringe. I cringe at word choices and I cringe at things I've covered. Why did I write that?

I couldn't even read back over the questionnaire that the GP gave me when trying to diagnose me.

Quite simply, I hate myself. I hate the person that I am. I wish I was somebody else sometimes. I particularly get down about my writing; I wish I could write funnier, or more poetically or come up with more creative ideas. I even regret simple things like tweets.

I cannot accept who I am.

Since putting on weight too, I have got really down. I used to be really active, but since I got injured playing rugby, I haven't been able to exercise too much because my foot aches so much. And then I got fatter and more unfit, and now I find it hard to just run. All those years of training have gone to pot. It will take me ages to get my fitness back up, and get me looking as good as I used to. Until then, I can't bare to look at myself in the mirror.

And I know I have a lot to be happy about, and I'm sorry if I'm being an idiot or over the top. I know I should count my blessings yada yada yada, but I can't. Physically. There's a worm in my brain that puts these thoughts there, and although logic says everything's fine, the worm doesn't let me think anything but those negative thoughts.

So yeah, that's what I have to be depressed about. Nothing.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

#PrayToEndAbortion is So 18th Century

It shocked me that the hashtag #PrayToEndAbortion was even trending yesterday. Unfortunately, the harassment of women seeking an abortion still continues in the world today.

While I respect that everybody has a different opinion, what I find most horrifying about Pro-Life Activists is their aggressive methods of protest. Outside every abortion clinic in the UK, Pro-Lifers stand armed with leaflets and banners, approaching often terrified and distraught women, telling them not to go through with their abortion. This is quite a scary thing for women and their families to face.

What is most daunting, is the fact that they are there every single day. This is disruptive to a woman's privacy, especially when you are having discreet medical treatment such as an abortion.

There are plenty of good reasons why abortion should be legal.

Most abortions are carried out before the fetus is able to live independently 

It is not until 26 weeks that a fetus can support itself outside of the womb. Most women have an abortion before the point, when a fetus is incapable of functioning on the outside. A heartbeat is just the way the fetus pumps blood and nutrients (from the mother) around its body. How can it be murder to abort something, which has not been born and is incapable of basic life processes, such as breathing?

Just because abortion is illegal, doesn't mean it wouldn't happen

In many countries where abortion is illegal, women go to extreme lengths to get rid of the fetus. Backstreet abortions are common in countries where abortion is still illegal. They are carried out in unhygienic conditions with unsafe, primitive methods, by unqualified people. In other cases, women may try to force a miscarriage, for example, by throwing themselves down stairs. Usually these methods do not stop the pregnancy, but do harm the mother.

Abortion is an option, it is not compulsory

Abortion is seen as an option. It does not rule out adoption, birth etc. It is the choice of the woman what she wants to do with her pregnancy. Some women couldn't cope with abortion, whereas others couldn't cope with giving a child away. It depends on the mother. Therefore she should have that choice.

The Human Population is booming anyway

In the UK in 2010 there was a baby boom. There is a severe lack of jobs, housing and food to support the world's largest ever population. To force more, unwanted children into the world is unnecessary. There is no reason why the choice shouldn't be there.

Pro-Choice does not advocate murder

Women who have had abortions do not feel they then have the divine right to go around committing murder. No-one ever has or ever will.

The fundamental difference between Pro Choice and Pro Life is that Pro Choice allows women the option. Options differ greatly between each person's circumstances, and what they believe. Pro Choice allows religious extremists to give birth or adopt, as well as those who are not in a position to give birth the opportunity to abort. This 18th century attitude that forces its beliefs on everybody should be a thing of the past.

Friday, 13 December 2013

There's Only New Music So That There's New Ringtones

My dad is that typical old fart who complains whenever I put the radio on, saying, 'music was better when I was young.' The thing is, I agree with him.

The majority of music in the charts is passionless, manufactured noise, exerting no creativity whatsoever. Obviously the main offenders for this are the likes of One Direction, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift etc. but even a lot of the more 'indie' stuff is dull.

I'll start with the obvious. Earlier this year The Saturdays released their song, What About Us.

This is an upbeat, club-type anthem, lyrically about a partner who will not commit.

Whatcha doin to my head?/Should be here with me instead/What about those words you said?/What about us?

The way they perform this song is wildly different to what is said, proving how insincere their performance is. They are dancing around having a great time, while what they are saying is the sort of thing that would make most girls angry or upset.
There's also the meaningless lyrics that feature in most pop songs nowadays.

Whatever the weather/We gonna be together

Like you'd ever break up with someone because it's raining. 

But that's understandable from a manufactured pop group. What is really scary is the lack of current bands who are not offering any real alternative. There's bands like The-very-middle-class-1975 who prance about singing about sex and girls but not offering a real insight into teenage life.There's You Me At Six who sound like every other American Rock Band ever; they're unique factor being that they're from Surrey. I won't even go on to mention the sexism and homophobia present in the whole hip-hop industry, and is there anything to talk about EDM-wise?

I much prefer going to gigs for bands that are independent, unsigned or up-and-coming. These kids have so much more passion and spirit on stage. I recently went to a gig in a pub and saw a fantastic band, On Mercury, who owned the stage with so much energy. I have never seen anything like it. They played their own instruments (yep, no karaoke) and wrote their own songs too. Yet their audience was a handful of regulars.

But it seems the minute a bit of money and a record deal comes, a band's creativity and energy dry up. Forced to write album after album, global tours of shows every night, it's surprising they manage to write anything at all. The great thing about the Sex Pistols was that they had one album, they made a difference, inspired everyone, and then went their own separate ways. Obviously we would have loved to have had a bit more from them, but would it have meant anything once that moment of anger at the music industry had gone?

Let me know what you think... Am I old before my time, or do we need some new talent to take the music industry by the balls?

Monday, 9 December 2013

This Blog's About To Get Personal: I have Anxiety and Depression

Since I was a kid, I have had serious anxiety issues. I only recently found this out, and today the doctor confirmed it. She also confirmed something I didn't really intend on talking about or want to admit: that I also suffer from depression.

She also said that a good way to help get over it is by talking about it. She prescribed me counselling and said (knowing that I was into my writing/blogging etc.) that I should write about it on my blog. However, telling my parents and people close to me is a lot harder. Its funny but I've gotten so used to keeping it all bottled up that I can't let it out.

I told my boyfriend earlier, because I thought that if I were to blog about it, the worst place he could find out about it is on here (being as we have each other on twitter). So I told him. I tried not to make too big a deal about it. He was OK with it.

I missed the perfect opportunity to tell my parents earlier. I'd told them I'd gone for blood tests a few weeks ago and that today I was getting the result. I only told them the bit about me being anemic (yep, have anemia too!) but couldn't get the rest out. Then I realized it had been too long since the doctors was mentioned and would then be well awkward if I bought it back up (haha classic anxiety). Luckily, there is no way they'll find out about it on here, so I can get away with this post.

So how did I manage to tell the doctor and not my own parents?

Basically, I've had this anxiety for so long I panic about having it, if that makes sense. I know the symptoms and when I feel those pains (whether they're to do with anxiety or not) I start to panic. One of the worst symptoms of it is a bad stomach ache, which can sometimes lead to diarrhea. When I feel any stomach cramp, period pain, indigestion etc. I really fear the diarrhea bit, especially if I'm in a place where I can't access a toilet etc.

I've managed to deal with it my whole life: doing breathing exercises to calm myself down, trying to get out of the situation etc. But since starting work and being out of the house for 12 hours every day, it's got really bad. Couple this with my feelings of depression have made it unbearable.

And because I never relax, when I do get some time off, where I don't stress, I just come down with colds and flus and other illnesses. So I had to do something about it. I couldn't just sit in work anymore without it happening.

I had to tell the doctor, but the nature of it makes it embarrassing to tell anyone else. So I'm just going to leave it for now.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Rest in Peace, Nelson Mandela

It's funny but I never really thought Nelson Mandela could die. I'm half expecting him to resurrect on Sunday, or a constellation bearing his resemblance to appear in the sky. Legend is banded around a lot nowadays, but that is what he was.

What is most impressive about his life is that he managed to fight for his belief for so long, despite being mistreated in prison, with so little rights. So many would have given up. I probably would have. And even after all that, not only did he get out of prison and continue to fight, but he became President of South Africa. And after all that, he forgave.

Mandela was willing to give his life for equality, and in doing so it made him infinite.

"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Is Tom Daley's Sexuality A Big Deal? I Don't Think So.

Yesterday Tom Daley came out as bisexual, and announced his current relationship with a man. I think it's great that he came out, and will be a great model to other young sports players who are gay. It's great that he is happy and the reception from the public has generally been very accepting.

However, I don't agree with the media circus that has surrounded it. On ITV news last night, it ran alongside some shocking stories including the Helicopter Crash in Glasgow, The Italian Woman who had a forced abortion, and the murder trial of Lee Rigby. What it felt like was that Tom Daley coming out was as shocking as these other stories. When really, coming out nowadays is not such a big deal in most situations.

A few years ago, one of my childhood friends came out as gay. I completely took me by surprise, but what was actually more surprising was how little it mattered.

When I was a teenager, coming out seemed like it would be a huge life changing move, a massive step and something that would change the way people perceive you. And while does change your life in the way that you feel completely honest with yourself, a lot of the time, it doesn't change the way people see you.

I think my friend would agree with me when I say the whole thing was completely anti-climactic.

After the initial 'Guess what? I'm Gay' moment, I completely forgot. I felt bad, like I wasn't being supportive or bothered enough, but to be honest, nothing had changed. He was still one of my best friends. Literally nothing changed. I couldn't care less who he fancied or fell in love with, he was still him. Life went on.

What I think is important to say to any young person who is afraid of coming out, is to say that most of the time there's not such a huge fuss. Most people are generally very accepting nowadays, and this whole media circus doesn't reflect that. It's a completely normal thing, in fact, it happens Daley (haha).

What do you think? Is it a good thing that all there's been huge public attention? Or is it a bit dated that the media still report stories like this? Let me know by commenting at the bottom of this post.

Congratulations to Tom and his boyfriend, and I hope they have many very happy years together.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Reality TV is the Modern Day Colosseum

Recently a couple of my friends appeared on Snow, Sex and Suspicious Parents. They were girls from my uni rugby team, who were approached and asked to be part of a new BBC Three program. They got an all expenses paid skiing holiday to Tinges, on the basis that their time there was filmed. They had a great time and did just what I used to do; drink too much and misbehave. Nothing on that program was out of the ordinary; it looked like great fun.

The episode was aired on Tuesday at 9pm, and hundreds of people tweeted about the programme in the hours after it went out. It was crazy to see my friends being talked about and judged by the whole of twitter.

They recieved some great tweets, people wanting to be friends with them, be on holiday with them. It even inspired some to join a rugby team...

That was lovely. The fact that their holiday was promoting the small sport of Women's rugby was a great thing. However, many of the tweets weren't as nice...

It was hurtful to see such horrible tweets said about people that are close to me. I think people forget that there is a real person behind the remarks they make. Luckily, I don't think my friends are too bothered, but some people could be.

Reality TV targets vulnerable people, and can often draw attention to many of their insecurities. I stopped watching the likes of Big Brother, The X Factor, I'm a Celeb many years ago for the same reason. Too many young people and mentally ill people are being paraded around for the world to see for the purpose of 'entertainment'. 

I believe that this sort of car crash TV is designed to keep the public from caring about each other, from supporting each other against this sort of manipulation and corruption that comes from the government and the media. This is the sort of stuff that prevents revolution, and prevents ordinary people from uniting against those in power. As a result, I don't believe we have have enough trust and compassion for each other to put a stop to it.

This sort of thing is a very clever tactic, but how long can it last?

Does this post get a thumbs up, or a thumbs down? Let me know by commenting below.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Bring Back The Bus Conductor


I recently received an email from TfL proposing to stop all cash payments on all London buses. I think this is a stupid idea because the cash option should always be available if need be. Oyster Cards have meant that a great deal of waiting time has been cut down now people do not have to pay to board, and only on very rare occasions do I see people paying (usually when they have insufficient funds on their card). This means that journeys are very rarely delayed because of somebody needing to pay, and if they are, it is only by a few minutes.

As a young woman, who uses the bus to get home late at night (usually a little worse for wear) sometimes I find cash payments useful in case I have forgotten to top up. At this time of night, it is hard to find a shop or station that is open late where I can top up, and wondering about looking for one can be dangerous. Having the option to pay as I board has saved my skin on a few occasions, and I'm sure it will in the future.

If TfL really are worried about the increase in journey times through cash payments, surely they should bring back the bus conductors. The driver will then be able to concentrate on driving and the conductor on the well being of the bus and its passengers. Not only will they be able to take payments, but also would act as a deterrent of anti social behaviour. A few years ago I was randomly attacked by a few teenage girls on the top deck of a bus, and I'm sure if there had been a conductor on board, this would not have happened.

It would also create a huge amount of much-needed jobs across the capital, that really could help improve the lives of many Londoners.

 Is the return of bus conductors a great idea or not? Comment below and let me know what you think!

Friday, 15 November 2013

Russell Brand Has Aired What We Were All Thinking

In 2010 I voted for the first time. I saw that the two main parties had nothing to offer me. Everything the Tory party offered was worrying, even scary, and Labour seemed to have no clue what they were doing, with poor old Gordon. I think, for an 18 year old, this was a pretty fair evaluation. So I voted for the Lib Dems. I wanted to make my vote count, but I wasn't happy with the two main parties. One of their main policies was something that appealed to me, being as I was about to start uni; the scrapping of tuition fees. Plus, Nick Clegg seemed to be a pretty good leader.

When the results came in, I couldn't believe the party I had voted for actually had a huge say in who won the election. I was sure they would go with Labour. That was what their voters would have picked, if they had the choice, surely? Yet they went with the Conservatives, that was greatly under-representative of their voters. And as the coalition Government has progressed, not a single policy that I voted for has been represented. It seems that at the first whiff of power, Nick Clegg has sold himself out.

What is the point in my vote, if the party doesn't even stay true to their word?

In Russell Brand's recent interview with Paxman, he has raised a very important issue. What is the point in plowing through with a system that doesn't work? We need change. If we don't make this change, things are going to get worse. Something radical, like really massively radical, needs to be done. A boycott of the vote could be a start, but could also lead to something quite dangerous too, if not enough people participate.

What we need to do is act, in numbers. Huge numbers that represent us, huge numbers that they cannot ignore. We need to look past the uneducated political propaganda that we are being served. The constant lies about 'scroungers' and 'layabouts' are turning us against ourselves, to prevent us from sticking together. We can't keep being blinded by these small gestures of 'good will' to keep us all happy, such as equity loans for first time buyers. It isn't good enough. There needs to be a complete overhaul in the way things are done, and none of the three main political parties can offer us that.

People turn out in force to vote for the winner of the X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and I'm a Celeb. We can use that power to do something good, that will benefit the lives of our future generations. It won't be easy, but we have to starting fighting, for ourselves and each other.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Egg On My Face

Unlike everybody else, when I was younger my parents did not celebrate Halloween with us. Their reasons for this is because it means nothing to them and only exists for large companies to make money. Which is fine. If they don't want to celebrate it, they shouldn't have to.

However, the notion of Halloween forces itself upon those who don't want to be a part of it. Like Christmas, the shops fill themselves with Halloween related crap that will be binned on November 1st. That I can understand, businesses are using the opportunity to make money. That I can forgive. But what annoys me most is that an essential part of Halloween is the Trick or Treating. 

People come to your house, knock on the door and expect an answer and some chocolates/sweets. If not you're a spoil-sport and your house gets egged. When I was younger I did go trick or treating with friends once, and there was an element of dislike to people who refused to open the door or give you sweets.

'A bag of sweets only cost a pound!' Trick or Treat-ers say. 'Don't be so boring.'

This pressure makes people feel awkward about not having anything to offer, or for not opening the door. However, I believe people should not have to feel like that in their own home. They should not have to worry about their participation in a holiday that means nothing to them. 

If you want to celebrate Halloween then that's fine; but do so in your home and with others you know want to get involved. But forcing a celebration upon others that don't want to by approaching their property is just not fair.