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My Aims, Distressing Content, And Stigma

30 November 2016 | Post A Comment

My mental health hasn't been that great the past couple of weeks and this is reflected in the content of my blog. When my mind is in a darker place, my content is going to go there too. 

This is because my main priority for All Things Beautiful is for it to be an authentic insight into mental health. With any work I put into this blog, honesty is at the very front of my mind and this is incredibly important to me. My second aim is to help people. I feel I can do this through my blog in a number of ways. I can provide comfort and hope that things can get better and I can give people an insight and understanding into mental health so they can either understand themselves better or better understand others, or both. 

My first priority can sometimes conflict with my second. I don't want my blog to become a depression blog. I don't want my loyal readers to read a new post every other day about how terrible I am feeling again. To make reading my ramblings worth your time, you need value. And insight is value, education is value. But so is hope and comfort. I think the second part of my aims for the site is sometimes being neglected with my focus on the first. Sometimes my being honest and open can be somewhat distressing or upsetting. 

When I write, I write from the deepest part of my being and I want the reader to be effected. 
If you are effected by my writing, I believe I am doing something right. But there needs to be balance, I don't want to just effect you with negativity. I want to make a difference to how you see the world and others in it.

Some days I wake up and I can feel my thoughts are in a better place and I can put all my effort into writing more uplifting posts like this one and this one and this one. They are among the posts I am most proud of.

I often get comments on how brave I am for sharing what I share on my blog. Exposing the depths of my mind to the internet does sometimes feel scary. But being in the depths of my mind is scarier. And by sharing I might help others, and I might help myself. And I have nothing to hide, I am not embarrassed by my mental health. I am actively trying to fight stigma. I think it is this attitude that has the power to beat it.

I wrote this post as an extension of what I discussed in last weeks newsletter but I thought it was important for my wider readership to understand too. If you would like a wider understanding of what goes into my blog it would be great if you could sign up below. I also include motivational challenges and quotes and I hope it's an email you will look forward to receiving every Sunday. 

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This Isn't A Happy Post

28 November 2016 | Post A Comment

Happiness has become this great ideal that we all feel inclined to strive for. We are taught to believe that a life full of happiness is the goal and it's placed on a pedestal as the ultimate emotion. We try to walk a path that leads to it and this becomes our focussed life mission. We want our days to be filled with it.

But I don't want to live a life full of happiness. I want to live a life that is full.

Life is the feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you're about to do something you shouldn't, or really should, do. It's the feeling of appreciation and gratitude of what we have, regardless of if it purely brings us happiness. It's the tears from listening to a piece of music that speaks directly to your soul. 

I want to feel completely overwhelmed by feelings of curiosity and fascination of the world. We should want to experience being utterly consumed by fear and then the feeling of falling into the release when we emerge from the other side. Life is about being filled with love and passion so powerful it literally takes your breath away. I want to feel my inside drop with that sense of immense relief at good news. 

We should strive for reaching an unburdened sense of peace and calm and accept feelings of indifference and contentment. We should allow ourselves to be engulfed by the reckless abandonment and freedom of life at night. We should want to know what it's like to walk into a room and feel confident and self assured and also how it feels to be uncertain and vulnerable. In order to appreciate joy we must know intense sadness, pain, despair and hopelessness. I just want to feel, as much as I can. 

I want to experience the intensity and vastness of human emotion so I know I have really lived. I want to feel it all. I am not interested in being confined to the believed luxury of happiness alone. 

If There Is No One There

26 November 2016 | Post A Comment

The eyes of my reflection staring back are no longer my own and the voices in my head sound less like mine. They are busy and shouting, deafening in their urgency. My breath comes in gusts and my heart threatens to break it’s cage. My skin burns with a thousand fire ants travelled from California with the sole intention of searing my flesh. I want to dig them out with my nails, it will feel like such a blissful release. 

I just want to be alone. Where I can give in to self destruction because it makes me feel better. 

I just want to be alone. Where my thoughts can hurt no one but myself.

If there is no one there to witness my suffering, would it really exist?

If there is no one there to hear me cry, am I really crying at all?

A Ladder Of Words And A Hole Of Thoughts

24 November 2016 | Post A Comment

I'm trying to write my way out of this hole. Use the words to build a ladder and leave the thoughts behind. They're too heavy to climb out and they fall to the bottom, scratching at my limbs as I try to escape. I'm making progress. I have an idea and I grasp on to it. The words are flowing, I am struggling to keep up. 

My thoughts on their own can't reach me but they're starting to climb on top of each other up the side of the hole like a growing dark mass. The stronger thoughts make it to the top and fight harder for my attention. 

The thoughts are beginning to shout. "You aren't good enough!" Because they are my thoughts, it's difficult to ignore them. "Your ideas are worthless!!" I try to climb higher away from them. I try to write about my thoughts in an effort to understand them but the words start to leave me. I can't make sense of them anymore and all I can hear are the screaming thoughts.

It takes all my effort not to fall back in. The strength needed to hang on to the words and carry on becomes increasingly difficult and succumbing to my thoughts becomes more inviting. 

I know my thoughts, falling back in to them is easy.

This Post Made Me Pull Out My Hair

22 November 2016 | Post A Comment

This is the post that has been causing me so much difficulty. I have been trying to write it for days and it won't come out right. Here is the heavily edited version that I desperately want to delete. 

I think what I am trying to say is that this is incredibly difficult and hurts me more than I can say. Please, try to understand...

This post has taken about 7 hours to write. Probably less than an hour of that time was spent writing, the rest was spent pulling out my hair. 

For about 10 years I have suffered with compulsive hair pulling, a condition known as Trichotillomania. I remember the day I started with incredible detail. The day that marks a rift between two sides of my life. The me that was free of this compulsive addiction and the me who is trapped and ruled by it.

For the first couple of years I tried everything to stop doing it on my own. I tried to count in my head and promise myself I would stop pulling once I got to a chosen number. This didn't help and just intensified how weak I was against my brain's compulsions. I tried to damage my fingertips so it hurt too much to pull. I recited silent mantras to myself over and over again. I repeated these statements to myself, whilst pulling, for hours. I sat on my hands, I constantly wore a scarf round my head, I tied my fingers together, I wore gloves. 

Once, for a couple of weeks I started picking at my scalp to relieve the urge to pull. I grasped onto this as hope of a replacement habit. Surely this would be better than constantly pulling my hair. But after about a week my head was constantly bleeding and I was getting severe headaches from scratching so deep and I went back to the pulling. 
In one desperate attempt I resorted to pinching the skin on the back of my hand with my nails as hard as I could every time I pulled, hoping I would relate pulling to significant pain and eventually stop. After a couple of days, the back of my hand resembled a mountain range and was red raw. I couldn't bare the pain of anything even touching it, so pinching was no longer an option. It wasn't working anyway. 

I have had months of therapy dedicated to the problem. I had to monitor time spent pulling and record my feelings at the time and what I was doing etc. This was impossible to keep up because it meant I was literally spending every second either pulling my hair, or writing about pulling it, whilst pulling it. Keeping blu-tack in my hands helped for a day before the strength of this distractive alternative wore off. Wearing a scarf wrapped tightly around my head helped at times when I was doing more involving activities but made me feel even more terrible about myself. 

The more I try to stop, the more overwhelming the urges become and resisting is impossible. Actively trying to stop causes all other areas of my mental health to get worse. My OCD gets infinitely worse. I'd rather spend hours pulling out my hair than deal with crippling OCD. When I allow it to happen and don't fight the urges I probably pull for around just an hour on average a day. I have had to accept this. 

When I am anxious, stressed, bored, tired, or on my own, I pull more. 

Throughout the years my hair has been a mess. My hair is always uneven. There were times at high school where big sections of my hair were missing or growing back. And high school kids aren't always kind. For a teenage girl, this doesn't do much for confidence or self esteem. 

Often when I start to pull my hair when I am on my own, I get stuck in what I have come to know as my 'bubble'. It gets impossibly difficult to break out of it the longer I stay 'inside' pulling. I usually can only stop if someone comes into the room and breaks it. This is so desperately frustrating and the amount of time that I can remain 'stuck' is terrifying. 

When I pull my hair for a while without stopping I will most likely get a bad headache. Sometimes the headache is severe and I am left crying in pain whilst constantly fighting the urge to pull more. I can only wait in despair for the headache to lift. 

Of all the different mental conditions I've suffered and battled with, I think this has to be the most misunderstood. This is possibly the most embarrassing and frustrating. It is my most persisting and furiously determined struggle. I can not imagine a life free from it, free from it constantly tearing me apart. Maybe all I can ask for is for someone to understand. 


18 November 2016 | Post A Comment

I've tried to write a happy post. There is a half started post in my drafts entitled 'nice things' but I nearly threw my laptop out the window. I can't write about nice things because right now my head is not a nice place and I don't think it's possible for nice things to come from it. Mum and Dad, I wanted to write a nice post for you, I'm sorry.

My mind is a mess. It's been a mess for a long time. My mind is a house that has too many things stored inside and not enough storage. It's the type of house that no matter how many times you try to deal with the mess, it comes back, seemingly from nowhere. The burglar alarm goes off all the time at just the slightest breeze. The windows are broken and sharp at the edges. It needs constant scaffolding just to keep it stable. It's falling apart. 

Why are we given one mind and expected to live with it? Why was I given this one?

With a physical illness you are able to separate. With a damaged lung, you are not your damaged lung. With a damaged mind there is no separation. It is with me in all that I do. I am my damaged mind. 

Anxiety, depression and their many friends have been with me for as long as I can remember, they won't leave me alone.

Life hurts. The effort I put into it completely exhausts me. Every day is such a struggle. Why am I locked inside this constant cruel test called life without being given the right tools to beat it? 

Give me an illness I can understand, please, give me one I can explain. Let me swap my messed up head for a messed up body so you can tell me what's wrong with it and how it can be made better- if it can be made better. Give me an illness that can be seen. Please, give me something I can point to when people ask me why I am not working. Give me something I can escape from. Give me something I can hate so I can no longer hate myself. 

Rock Bottom

16 November 2016 | Post A Comment

I remember the first time I thought I had hit rock bottom. I was crying to my Dad, trying to explain how I didn't feel real anymore, but struggling to find the energy to summon the words I felt so strongly inside. I was having multiple panic attacks daily. I was exhausted and I was terrified. The only positive thought I had was that this was as bad as it was going to get. I couldn't possibly imagine a darkness or feeling of utter despair worse than what I was feeling in that moment.  I remember thinking "it's not possible for me to feel any worse than I do right now".

But it was possible.

I remember so clearly the minutes of terror and hopelessness as I sat curled in a ball in the school toilets, screaming as I tried to get the sound of the alarm out of my head. The moment I realised I was in pitch darkness and the alarm was a real fire alarm and not imagined was my new rock bottom. I had to summon the energy to stand up and walk out of the school building where I knew thousands of students would be stood in silence, waiting. Crowds were my absolute worst nightmare and when faced with the options of staying in a potentially burning building in pitch black or going outside to a crowd of people mid-panic attack, I chose burning building. When the teachers eventually came in to look for me it didn't take long for them to locate the source of the screams just outside the bathroom door. After it was all over and my mum had been called to take me home I remember thinking "at least it can't get worse than this".

It did, numerous times over.

My first night alone in my new flat after my parents moved away. I was far from stable enough to live on my own, I wasn't ready. But I was stubborn, I wanted to do it. I had been drinking all night to get to sleep and had woken up covered in vomit. The next thing I remember is lying in the bottom of the shower with blood dripping from my numb stomach whilst being pounded with freezing cold water. It wasn't the time for a motivational cold shower. I felt a crushing loneliness and despair. I wanted everything to be over, I felt beaten. I lay there violently shaking for what felt like an eternity thinking "surely, it can't get any worse". 

And it didn't. Things came terrifyingly close but I think that has remained my rock bottom. I don't expect it to stay there. I am fully aware that one day in the future could be worse than any other I have faced up to now. I can't imagine it, but then I couldn't imagine they could get worse before. 

The difference is, I now know I can survive it. I know because I have survived what I thought was my limit before and then survived worse and worse. And each time made me stronger. I could now survive my first rock bottom like a walk in the park. 

Surviving the worst and then worse again has given me strength I never knew was possible. Strength that I know can carry me through the worse again. The worst has pushed me to a place where nothing can touch me and now I can go to that untouchable place any time I want. 

And if life can get worse than I ever thought was possible, what's stopping it getting better than I ever thought was possible?

"And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life" -JK Rowling

Life Lessons

14 November 2016 | Post A Comment

An old teacher taught me to keep going and to focus on the improvements, no matter how small they are.

My councillor taught me I'm braver and more insightful than I think I am.

My Dad has taught me that regardless of what I do I will remain loved. He has taught me to take pride in all that I do. 

My Mum has taught me to put other's before my self and to always be kind.

A friend taught me that anything is possible, you have the power to make things happen. She's taught me to live in the moment, to be free-spirited and to care less about how others might judge me. 

My boyfriend has taught me how to accept compliments, how to love and be loved and how to smile again. 

My sister has taught me to believe in myself and to have the strength to forgive.

A little boy taught me that I am able- "You can do it Beth, you're really good at driving, you're just even better at getting lost a lot".

A friend taught me to be excited by life.

My best friend has taught me how to be confident.

My Grandma has taught me to be strong and humble.

Someone I met at a beer festival taught me to think about my motive before I speak.

My favourite little girl taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to and sometimes I shouldn't cry because I might make her wet.  

My old dog taught me to be loyal to those who show you kindness.

A stranger taught me to not make assumptions, you never know the whole story.

My violin teacher has taught me that striving for perfection is unhealthy and unattainable. That talent is not everything, hard work is more important. He's taught me to spend as much time as possible doing what you love (and how to bow straight...).

Thank you to everyone in this post who has taught me so much and the many other people I didn't include. I want you to tell me in the comments, on Facebook. or by emailing me at some lessons that people have taught you in your life that have really made a difference.

A 'Good Day'

12 November 2016 | Post A Comment

On a good day, I wake up feeling groggy. It's a couple of hours before the drowsiness of my medication will wear off but my eyes don't sting and I haven't had a sleep full of nightmares. I head downstairs and get a healthy breakfast of natural yoghurt and granola and then have another, because my tablets make me want to eat constantly. I feel disgusted and make a promise that I'll start starving myself tomorrow. 

I get started on my to-do list for my blog. It takes me over half an hour to write it out multiple times until it's 'perfect' and then get started. After 5 minutes, I am pulling out my hair. I get stuck in the bubble that has become a comfort. The bubble has incredibly thick walls that have built up over 7 years of pulling. I get stuck inside and can rarely break free unless someone else breaks it. It's easier to pop from the outside. Inside, time becomes meaningless and thoughts disappear. This is a good day, so I manage to break free after 45 minutes and look down to see my desk and clothes covered in my hair. This is a good day, so I go and have a shower. The bubble doesn't work so well when my hair is wet. I have a shower and let the freezing cold water do it's magic. I can do this, I am strong.

After my cold shower, I get ready and head to the car to do the weekly food shop on my own. Something I can only accomplish on a good day. It takes a lot of energy to drive and I constantly battle the voice in my head that's punishing me for every little fault. I lift my foot of the clutch too fast, 'I'm an idiot', I miss a chance to pull out, 'I can't fucking drive'. When I finally arrive at the supermarket I wait in the car and count the people coming in and out the shop. I add the amount of people that go in and subtract them when they come out, when the number becomes minus, I take a deep breath and go inside. 

The bright colours, lights and movements all hurt my eyes and tempt my anxiety to rise out of control but I look at my shopping list to try and concentrate on what I have to buy. I listen to music to keep me calm or ring my mum to get me through. I feel like I need to leave at least four times because I convince myself that I am going to be sick. Twice I go to leave the shop only to tell myself I'm being stupid, again, and return. I try to dodge the alcohol aisle which brings another wave of anxiety and frustration. Keep going, don't look. The whole time I feel like a failure but I carry on, it will be over soon.  

When I get back to the house I put away the shopping and try again to tackle my to do-list. I try to keep my mind busy throughout, listening to music, podcasts or youtube videos. I try to start conversations with Rob and talk about lighthearted things because I want him to know that I'm having a good day. I try to concentrate but it's hard, inside my head I am fighting a battle to not over analyse and catastrophise every single thing he says. After about an hour or so of work on the blog, the hair pulling starts again. I tie my hair in a tight bun and continue to work until I can no longer cope with the head ache the bun has caused. 

I have a bath for a couple of hours, again, wetting my hair to relieve me of my urges and attempt to read a book. Chances are the book is full of triggering topics, whether they're about mental illness or not and I spend most of the time fighting away my thoughts that are determined to ruin my good day. After a couple of hours in the bath, it's time to make tea. 

I wash my hands until they hurt after each time I touch packaging of raw meat. I wash the utensils I use to cook with multiple times throughout the preparation and when the water splashes the other clean utensils, I have to wash them too. Because today is a good day I try to not let this cause me too much anxiety although I am only too aware that carrying out all these washings is reinforcing my worries that I will spread the bacteria of raw meat. After eating I put up with mild to moderate stomach cramps for two hours until I know I am safe from food poisoning and the cramps magically disappear. 

I take my tablets and go to bed, trying to stay awake for as long as I am able to before the sedation takes over and I lose control again. Startled by every noise, I physically jump and then spend the next 3 minutes trying to calm down my racing heart. I try to relax. I am exhausted. Today has been a good day. 

"People say 'take it one day at a time'... Days were mountains. A week was a treck across the Himalayas" -Matt Haig

35 Things To Do When You're 'Bored'

10 November 2016 | Post A Comment

1. Go on a spontaneous road trip
A long car journey with the perfect playlist, good company and a well stocked glove compartment of snacks gets me really excited. If we get lost, even better!

2. Have a conversation with someone on the phone 
I usually hate the thought of speaking to people on the phone, it makes me really anxious so I try to avoid it. But if there is a close friend or family member I haven’t seen for a while, it can make their day to give them a ring and I usually quickly feel more comfortable and can relax into a good conversation.

3. Go shopping in a new city 
Going shopping in a beautiful city with lovely weather can make a great day out with stops at cafes, visits to bookshops and treating yourself a little.

4. Borrow some books from the library 
At a good library you can really take your time to go through the shelves and get some books you’ve meaning to read for a while. I think borrowing a book is always a good idea if you’re not sure what you think of a book and don’t want to commit to buying it. Without a doubt, it’s a perfect excuse to get lost in a maze of books for a while which sounds like a good way to spend time to me!

5. Write a bucket list
It could be a list of things you want to do in the next 10 years or everything you want to accomplish and experience before you die. And then start making plans to complete it!

6. Exercise 
If the thought of this fills you with dread then maybe start small. Get up and do as many star jumps as you can do, do a beginners workout, run up and down the stairs or go on a walk. If you're crazy you could go to the gym. 

7. Take a long bubble bath
Out of all the things on this list I think I am most experienced at this one. I've been taking 3 to 4 hour baths most days lately... But I've been getting lots of reading done and thoroughly enjoyed them! A kid's bubble bath is obligatory for overflowing bubbles and feeling like your reading in the middle of a cloud.

8.  Bake Cupcakes
You should definitely try out this recipe for amazing apple and cinnamon cupcakes. The cupcakes are really easy but are very unique and delicious so great ones to try out as a creative alternative to simple vanilla buns. 

9. Listen to music in the dark 
I love listening to great music. Using really good quality speakers or headphones in the dark is such an enjoyable experience. I feel like when you limit your senses to just one it enhances the whole experience and you can become totally immersed. 

10. Organise an area of your house
If it's your kitchen cupboards, or that drawer that you always just throw everything in, spend the next hour or so giving it a good clear out and put in place a efficient organisation system.

11. Get a piercing 
If I'm feeling a little lost or feel the dark cloud pass over me but have a real urge to break out of it, I usually feel compelled to get a new piercing. The pain and adrenaline boost often gets me out of it but probably isn't the most sensible idea in the world and I'm starting to run out of ear space... If you don't have any or many, I'd recommend getting some!

12. Watch a new film at the cinema
I'm usually rubbish at watching films and get distracted really easily until I've lost my grip on the plot and then give up or fall asleep. This rarely happens at the cinema as I feel obliged to really pay attention. I feel like it's a great escape from reality for a couple of hours and a good excuse to eat popcorn and sweets.

13. Watch a Disney film
This is an especially good option if you're feeling low. Try and choose a film from your childhood for lots of nostalgia.

14. Start a blog
Start a blog and you'll never be bored again. You won't understand until you start but once you do, a million and one things will be added to your to-do list, there is always something to do and the connections and engagement you gain will make it all worthwhile.

15. Make a fort
At the beginning of my relationship with Rob, when asked the question 'what do you want to do today?' I often replied with the answer 'let's make a fort!'. And we're still together, so maybe that's the secret to a lasting relationship. Either way, building a fort is always a good idea. Gather your blankets and create something amazing!

16. Play a board game
Getting a couple of friends round and hosting a games tournament is the recipe for a night well spent. 

17. Eat at a new restaurant 
It's easy to stick at the same restaurants you know you love but next time you dine out, try a new one. Even better, go for a new cuisine you haven't tried before. 

18. Go out for milkshake
If you can, go to one of those heavens dedicated solely to milkshake and choose the milkshake of dreams.

19. Write lists
If this post doesn't give it away a little, I'm a huge fan of the list. I write lots of different lists through out the day. Goal lists are my favourites but they are also a great way to get organised. 

20. Research a topic you know little about 
Maybe you heard someone mention something that sparked your interest or you want to understand a topic better that has come up on the news, whatever it is, research it. You can learn about anything you can imagine on the internet or even better, pick up a book on the subject for a good overall insight.

21. Put together a reading list and start reading it
I shared my Autumn reading list here and am slowly making my way through it. Going through a reading list is very satisfying and is a good way to focus your reading.

22. Do something that scares you
Start out small, do something that makes you a little nervous. Then go bigger. Quit your job and follow your dream even if it terrifies you, travel on your own, talk to your crush. Go out and do something now.

23. Make a new playlist of your favourite songs on Spotify
Make your ultimate get ready playlist, a playlist that helps you sleep or just a playlist full of your all time favourite songs. Check out my playlists here if you like.

24. Arrange a trip
Whether it's a night away, a trip to the coast or a week long holiday abroad, get a trip in your calendar with your favourite people and start looking forward to it.

25. Make pancakes
Whisk 100g sieved plain flour, 2 eggs and 300ml milk. See how many times you can flip them and laugh when they fall on the floor. Add nutella, maple syrup, lemon juice and sugar.

26. Go shopping just to try on clothes you would never normally chose
You don't even need to buy them. Have fun trying on fashion looks you would never pick out and be surprised with what styles suit you!

27. Collect and count all your loose change 
There's probably a lot of loose change collecting under the sofa, in coat pockets and the footwell of your car. Collect it all together and see how much you can make.

28. Write about a traumatic or negative experience
You can keep it to yourself or share it with the world. Writing about a bad experience is a great way to come to terms with it and turn it into something positive that can help you as a person. I wrote about my traumatic experience on anti-depressants here.

29. Do something kind for someone else
It can be small, or it can be big. Try to help someone out who is in need or repay someone for kindness that they have shown to you. 

30. Paint a wall in your house
Pick a statement wall in your house and paint it yellow to make you feel happy when you look at it, blue to bring a sense of calm or any other colour you fancy.

31. Deep clean your house
Get on some comfy clothes and spend the next couple of hours deep cleaning the house or your bedroom until it shines and smells amazing. You'll feel such a sense of achievement and want to invite everyone you know round to your beautiful place.

32. Organise a party
Don't wait until a birthday or big celebration, have a party for the sake of having a party. 

33. Break a bad habit
If you have a habit you've been trying to break for a while you might need to think of a step by step plan to beat it. A good trick is to try to replace a bad habit with a habit that is less detrimental.

34. Practice a musical instrument or begin to learn a new one
There are so many benefits to learning a musical instrument. Try a couple and see what you like. You could even try to teach yourself some simple chords on the guitar or learn simple pop instrumentals from YouTube on the piano. 

35. Play hide and seek
Find someone to play with you and then find them again in a game of hide and seek. Do it in your house or even better, outside or in Ikea for hours of fun.

I planned on making this post 100 things to do when you're bored but this is definitely long enough! I challenge you to do one of the things of this list now, which one will you pick? What things would you add to the list?

"When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting." Jon Kabat-Zinn

Brexit, Trump and Rising Above

9 November 2016 | Post A Comment

Like so many others, I woke up this morning shocked and fearful. Not just fearful of Donald Trump but fearful that so many people voted for him.

Back in June, I was confident that Britain would vote to Remain. The vast majority of people I followed on Twitter and were friends with on Facebook voted remain as I did and were vocal about how strong they felt about it. On the morning the results were announced, I was shocked that Leave had won, along with all those who had felt strongly about remaining. Who were these people who voted to leave? 

That morning, I had to buy some milk and biscuits on my way to work. I stopped outside the most convenient shop which happened to be an Asian owned corner shop. As I walked in, the two men behind the till immediately stopped talking. The way people do when they have just been talking about you. The silence was filled with the sound of the radio discussing David Cameron's resignation and the result of the Referendum. As they stared at me awkwardly, I found myself apologising to the men, "it's ok, I voted to stay." Their faces showed obvious relief and they continued the conversation they were having before I entered the shop. It was clear, that as a minority in England, they felt attacked by the result. 

With the EU Referendum the racism and prejudice was more subtle, it was masked by other issues. In this Presidential Election, the bigoted fascism is what Donald Trump and his campaign represented. "When Mexico send it's people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists" "The beauty of me is that I'm very rich." " I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I'm more honest and my women are more beautiful." "The point is, you can never be too greedy." "I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist."...

With Brexit causing 'a lasting rise in hate crime', it is distressing to imagine what effect a racist and misogynistic president will cause. 

Who were the winners of both of these votes? Selfishness, ignorance, and naivety. Selfishness that led people to put their worries on immigration and national pride above the lives of humans. Ignorance that prevented the priveledged from empathising with minorities. Naivety that allowed people to believe that by leaving the EU, money would actually go where the lying politicians said it would go. Naivety that led me to believe that the opinion of my timeline and friends who I respect represented the general public. 

These events have exposed so much about society. The inherent greed and narrow-mindedness of so many. An abusive racist businessman wins over a qualified woman. Multiple serious accusations of sexual assault and rape do not always ruin a man's career. People will believe anything. Hate sells, fear sells, extremism sells. 

We cannot lose hope. Let today's result make you angry, let it make you passionate, let it make you focus on the issues that really matter. Fight against everyday sexism, everyday racism, everyday homophobia- every day. Be educated, be aware, most importantly, be kind. 

"The best way to not feel hopeless is to stand up and do something' -Barack Obama

My Views On Male Birth Control

8 November 2016 | Post A Comment
It took me a lot longer than I'd like to admit to find a stock photo to fit this post. Thought about using a picture of an injection but searching for the right one nearly made me faint. I've looked at 1000s of stock photos of men doing all sorts of weird things and finally settled on this one. Let's pretend it symbolises looking out in wonder at all the imaginable possibilities of male contraception...

News on advancements in male contraception have been coming up in the media quite a bit recently. With headlines like 'Birth Control Shots For Men Prevent Pregnancy, But Cause Mood Swings And Depression' it's easy to see how it could anger some women who have been suffering with these side effects along with so many more for years. 

If a contraception method is likely to cause negative side effects it should be well researched, documented, publicised and warned against. The pill has had me bleeding heavily for weeks with intense cramps, and excruciating twisted cysts on my ovaries, where I couldn't move without crying in pain and electric spasms going down my legs. I also suffer with mood swings and depression and am aware that this is likely worsened by the pill. This shouldn't happen to anyone. 

I am far from being alone, almost every woman has a story to tell about how the pill or other hormone altering method has effected them negatively and often traumatically. 

We need to keep talking about contraception and doctors need to be more explicit in their warnings for the side effects that they cause. Women need to be aware that even if they don't experience noticeable side effects whilst taking the pill it can cause long term problems or problems when you decide to come off them.

Get educated on the options for birth control for you and be informed on what you are doing to your body. I am still on the mini-pill at the moment and am not discouraging birth control, just encouraging awareness. 

I think the news on the birth control injection for men is a great step in the right direction. It's really positive for introducing more options for men to take the pressure off women having to always have the responsibility. More importantly it's opening up the discussion about the side effects to birth control and what should be acceptable. If a male alternative is stopped because it causes bad side effects, the options for women and the side effects they cause need to be seriously questioned. 

I've seen tweets from women saying it's about time men suffer with birth control too. I think this is the wrong way of thinking about it. What if it's about time no one suffers?

"When men are oppressed it's a tragedy, when women are oppressed it's a tradition. Both should be a tragedy" Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Procrastinating - Lists, Music, Matt Haig and Facebook...

6 November 2016 | Post A Comment

I woke up this morning determined to write lots of new posts. I'm writing this on the evening of the third Thursday of October, I've only managed a couple of sentences on a new post. I've got through bits of admin, tricking myself into thinking I was getting things done when they didn't really need doing at all and spent the rest of the time mastering the art of procrastination. I've been doing it quite well. But procrastinating is always fine and good until you look at the clock and realise how much time you have spent not doing what you were supposed to be doing. And then I had my first idea of the day, write about today's adventure around the web in a post. This might be procrastination's worst nightmare, being turned into something productive and worthwhile. 

I don't know how but I got stuck on @yukikosakamura's instagram for a good chunk of time this morning. They don't have many followers but they should have more as their posts are list heaven. I now want to follow all list accounts on instagram and I've discovered it's a massive wormhole of pleasure. Ironically one of the photos was a list on how to stop procastinating, so I promptly stared into space for half a hour waiting for some writing inspiration to happen. 

You probably already know I am a massive Matt Haig fan, I've talked a lot about his incredible book 'Reasons To Stay Alive' particularly in this post. I just think his views on life and level of thought is so fascinating and I'm in awe of his ability to translate them into the written word so beautifully. Cue a couple hours lost in his blog. I'd argue this was time well spent, in fact, I'm fairly certain. I was going to pick out a couple of his posts I'd encourage you to read more than others but I can't, read them all. 

I've also listened to all songs ever released by Kings of Leon and confirmed to myself that they produce amazing music. Please grab some headphones and listen to anything by them. Their new album WALLS is incredible but I can't stop listening to their older stuff. 

Between completing small tasks I pretended were important I often found my cursor (can it still be called a mouse if you use a trackpad??) drifting to my Facebook tab. As far as I am concerned any time scrolling through Facebook that isn't to do with promoting my blog is time wasted. I'd like to petition for the banning of all memes in the name of adding years to millions of Facebook user's lives. Good idea?

If I've learnt anything from writing this post it's that 'procrastinating' has that middle 'r' in it, who knew? And it turns out writing about procrastination is a good way to beat it! How have you been procrastinating today, did you find yourself anywhere interesting?

"Imagination only comes when you privilege the subconscious, when you make delay and procrastination work for you" -Hilary Mantel

5 Tips For Being in a Relationship With Someone Who Has a Mental Illness

2 November 2016 | Post A Comment

I know that being close to someone who has mental health difficulties can be very hard. Not because I have experienced it much myself but because I've seen the faces of my family when they don't know what else to try and the face of my boyfriend when I've done something stupid to hurt myself, again. It's difficult for families, it's difficult for friends but I think it can often be most difficult and consuming for those who find themselves in a relationship with someone who is mentally ill. I think most people who suffer with their mental health understand that those who care about them are doing their best. We appreciate you, we understand that you are trying and that sometimes you won't get it right, and that's ok. I've put together a list of some ways you may not have thought of to help the person you love.

1. When they are having a bad day, nine times out of ten, it's not your fault- Try not to obsess over the reasons why, try not to worry about what you've done wrong or why they seem distant. If you really feel like it might be something you've done, ask them once and believe them.

2. Give them space- If you feel like everything you say is annoying them, you might be right, but only because they are feeling so anxious or depressed, everything is annoying them. This is probably a good time to let them know where you are if they need you and give them some time to themselves. 

3. Reassurance- Someone with a mental health condition probably has low self esteem and they are probably not very good at believing their own self-assurance. If you want to help, try to remind them that they are loved, important and safe.

4. Listen- Even when they don't make sense and you don't understand, take the time to ask questions and really listen to the answers.

5. Be open about your own problems- Mental illnesses can make people selfish. You probably find yourself asking your partner how they are doing more than they ask about you.  But when they do ask, be open. You need caring for too, and they probably care about you more than you think. It will also give them some much needed time away from their own difficulties whilst they are focussing on yours.

Have you ever had to care for someone who is mentally ill? Do you have any other advice for others who might be struggling? 

"It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” -Stephen Fry