My recent eco-friendly changes (late October/early November edition)

It seems to be a habit of mine lately to spend a week or two not doing any blogging or writing on here, then get really upset that I’ve neglected my writing, plan my next post and then suddenly get distracted and never get round to it. It’s happening a lot recently with the stress of University and other weekly life occurrences and I wish I had a better schedule of writing but, it seems I’m stuck with this.

I wrote a massive post up the other day that’s currently sitting in my drafts where I talked about being more eco-friendly (no surprise there) and the mixed feelings of guilt and inspiration you can get from going on the eco-warrior side of social media and then a little bit about what stuff I’ve purchased or done lately (which I will get to since there’s some lovely stuff I want to share) but I don’t think I’m going to post it. It’s amazing how your mindset or feelings can change so fast. When I wrote the draft I was in a very guilty mindset of ‘I’ll never be able to be as committed as people who go fully vegan or fully plastic free, damn them!’ but over the past few days, I’ve come out with a more mindful feeling about it all and I feel like I can push myself a bit more in terms of being more eco-friendly or eating more vegan and that it will be an exciting journey instead of daunting.

Also, I ended up making my own little instagram to act as a diary of the changes I make everyday or vegan/vegetarian food I eat and my general journey into having a more eco-conscious and compassionate lifestyle. At the end of the day to really make a better change that promotes looking after our planet, it has to end up being a lifestyle change. Your routine needs to change and you’ll find yourself doing stuff everyday that you never did a year ago. If you’d like to follow it, it is here at @earthlingjourney. The name is a placeholder almost as I couldn’t really think of a great username but I felt it was a relevant way of looking at myself and my place in the world right now. I am a part of Earth just as much as all the animals, plants and other humans around me and I want to be someone who thinks more empathetically and with more wonder when it comes to the Earth. If you’re someone who hates the even slight mention of veganism or trying to use less plastic, I don’t recommend following it – but let’s be honest if you hate that at this point you must detest my blog!

So what lovely changes have I been making over the past month or two to be a bit more eco-friendly? Well here are some of my favourites!

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  1. My new plastic-free deodorant! I discovered this from the @brightonfrog instagram who runs a shop named FRoG (Friends of Gaia) and they are a Brighton based online store who sell many eco-friendly and plastic free products. Their customer service is absolutely lovely, they even sent me a cute postcard with my order! The deodorant I bought is the Earth Conscious Jasmine and Rose Natural Deodorant. The tube is made of cardboard meaning no plastic whatsoever! The deodorant is also paraben and aluminium free!
  2. No more makeup wipes! Now I’ve been using a flannel(I have two of these but I grew up with tons of flannels/face cloths in my parents’ house, I don’t know why I stop using them as a teenager) and Lush’s Ultrabland cleanser. This cleanser, although not completely perfect (which I’ll talk about in a second), instantly slides my makeup off and makes my skin feel very soft! It’s not vegan unfortunately because of the beeswax and I was very annoyed to find it’s not paraben free. However, because of this routine change, I am now no longer chucking makeup wipes away and contributing to landfill. When the tub is empty, I’ll be able to return it to Lush for recycling.
  3. Plastic-free shampooing saves the day! You may have seen my past review on BeautyKubes and I’m actually almost down to my last two kubes sadly enough! But using these little things have meant I’ve not used a plastic bottle of shampoo since my last bottle ran out and I mean to go on like this! I also really enjoy Lush’s shampoo bars which are also plastic free and I actually have ordered a plastic-free shampoo bar off an Independent store on Etsy. My hair feels super clean after every wash and nothing is going to landfill!

FRoG actually sometimes stocks both BeautyKubes and Earth Conscious products so definitely check out their website for both these products and many other amazing plastic-free and eco-friendly products!

I’ve also ensured I have two tote bags stuffed in my backpack everyday just in case I need them and I try to remember to pack my reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup with me when I go to University or out. I’ll share some more changes and products with you in my next blog post.

Thank you for reading!

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I want to be nicer to planet Earth

Is this almost a follow-up to my last post or a continuous stream of my almost never-ending anxiety about environmental issues, global warming, climate change, plastic pollution and such forth? That’s up to you to decide but as you can probably tell by now – yes, this is another post about my feelings on environmental related stuff.

I want to do better.

I want to see others do better. But at the end of it all, the change I can make begins and ends with me. I can share petitions and news articles on social media. I can write down my feelings on it. I can then blog and publish those feelings like I’m doing right now online. I can slyly suggest more eco-friendly products to others or the benefits of going vegetarian or vegan in hopes that it might stick in someones brain but does all of that matter if I’m not working hard at the same time? Being good to the environment is an attitude that needs to be practiced regularly to really see and understand the benefits and at this point in time I would love to see some benefits, although it may take a while, maybe a year or maybe more. But to know I’m going out of my regular routine to practice a new one that is better to the world I live in, I imagine would be a really rewarding feeling.

But also the less selfish reason is that the world really needs these routines in humans right now. We are causing all of this destruction, all of these horrible changes, all of this dangerous weather and all this harm to other beings that just want to live as much as we do. I think sometimes we forget that we are in danger as much as other endangered animals. I think humans like to think we are indestructible or that we should just accept all of this because it’s inevitable. But we need to hold on to that glimmer of hope that we can change something. There is plenty of studies that prove there would be benefits if we acted in different ways. If we were to reverse the amount of plastic in the sea. If we were to use the land we use for feeding animals for agriculture for actually feeding humans. If we were to not let the world heat up anymore than it already is. Scientists keep trying to tell us that there is hope out there if we all worked collectively, it’s just sad a lot of higher-ups won’t listen. It’s even sadder that we rely on them and don’t realise we can make a change.

Tips we can all learn from

What things can we do to start off? We all rely so much on a life full of plastic, disposables, one-use products, high emissions and unsustainable food sources that it’s like a rollercoaster that would be painful to jump off without slowing down first. Going cold turkey never encourages or helps anyone. So I thought I’d compile a small list for myself and for others trying to turn over a new leaf to a more eco-friendly life. I wanted to go into detail for each of these but if I did I’d be here forever! If you want me to do individual blog posts exploring the transition of eliminating certain things or any product reviews please let me know in the comments!

  1. Stop buying small plastic bottled drinks
  2. Stop buying makeup wipes
  3. Cut meat down as much as possible
  4. Also cut out dairy.
  5. Litter pick
  6. Invest in package free shower/bath products
  7. Stop buying disposable razors
  8. Go on a clothes shopping ban for a month 
  9. If you want to shop, go secondhand
  10. Print less
  11. Use a reusable bag for your shopping
  12. Walk or cycle
  13. Pick up package-free produce 
  14. Fix broken clothes instead of throwing out

I could go on and on but I don’t want to make it so incredibly daunting that both me and you are too tired to try. If all of us could look into at least 5 of the changes on this list, imagine what amazing benefits we could be giving to the planet? Obviously at the end of the day your health, your clarity and looking after yourself and the people around you will be a bigger benefit and that’s why I will never preach to myself or others the idea of going cold turkey or spending tons of money on products or lifestyle changes that they are not ready for. But making small steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle? That’s always an amazing step and you should be incredibly proud of yourself.

Thanks for reading, if you’d like me to continue doing more personal posts on my transition into being more eco-friendly, any tips for people who feel trapped in a plastic-filled life or just recommendations of eco-friendly/cruelty-free products let me know!

Much love,

signaturejune18

Interesting sources that were originally tagged to some of the tips but I didn’t want to drown out this post with facts and recommendations! They may come back in future posts though!

Should everyone have environmental goals and resolutions?

So if you’ve been on the internet over the past day or two you’ve probably come across the news of the recent UN climate report or at least seen something hinting or referring to it. Although now it can be really depressing or just plain out heartbreaking to read through an article telling you what you already knew (things are bad, things need to change etc.), it’s a very important piece of news that everyone should clue themselves up on and take away something from it. The report essentially warns what could happen to our tired planet and state of living if global temperatures were to rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. An article summarizing the report states ‘Staying at or below 1.5°C requires slashing global greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.’ I very much recommend everyone looks into the report and at some articles which I will link below as what is unique about this report is that it tries to prove instances of what could happen if globally we were to invest into trying to change things for the better. It acknowledges what economic damages could happen when the temperatures increase but also that if we were to fight harder against climate change it would cause an economic boost. ‘A recent report found that a global shift toward sustainability would yield a staggering $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.

It is actually about 3am when I write this and I’d like people to take away from this blog post that I write stuff like this in a midst of anxiety and as a strategy of coping but also not losing hope and also trying to progress towards tiny, tiny victories and changes which if were to increase on a bigger scale would help encourage others to be more empathetic and understand the dangers of climate change. I feel personally the sad truth is everyone is very aware of climate change and although there’s an unfortunate selection of people who believe it’s fake or a myth (and even more sadly some of these people are in power), pretty much everyone can see the effects it’s having on the world. But has it become a tedious burnout for people? I used to get so upset in high school when I’d snap at my friends for littering or overusing hairspray/aerosols and I’d just get answered with an apathetic ‘the world’s already fucked, who cares’. I care. You should care too. It’s also very popular to have no care now. To engross ourselves in nihilistic banter where we joke we ‘crave death’ or that there’s no point to trying to change. But as funny as the odd joke is, I don’t want to walk head first into demise as if that’s what I was born to do. When I get anxious about the environment it’s because I know how many people are affected. So many innocent people suffer because of something they actually have a very small control over.

One of my recent ways of thinking about the environmental problem is that I’m actually starting to realise who is at fault here. Every human has a responsibility at this point. However the massive, rich companies have bigger carbon footprints than a small neighbourhood of people. The companies who point fingers at their consumers and claim ‘hey! Seals are dying because of you! You horrible scum!’ but then through every outlet they have, whether it be chain restaurants, chain superstores, they barely even recycle a small percentage of the mass amounts of garbage they create. The ingredients they use to create their coffees, that some companies still don’t pay tax for, are flown over creating a horrible amount of carbon emission but they stamp down on you, the small consumer, and claim you are causing natural disasters by not bringing in your own reusable cup. It’s all a hectic mess of capitalistic hierarchy and although there is benefits and flaws to big chain companies taking eco-friendly approaches by banning straws or charging for disposables – we fail to see that there are so many huge corporations paying to get away with damaging our planet and then turning the blame around on people just trying to get by.

So am I saying don’t support Starbucks disposable cup charge or a plastic bag charge cause ‘hey it’s not my fault anymore!’. Hell no.  You still have responsibility. The statement that if everyone does a little bit to contribute to fighting against climate change and helping the environment things could change is definitely true. Every little helps and the more people vote with their money and express their need for change through consumerism and support or petitions, the more things will change but it will realistically be in tiny doses and in my head I’m just picturing my country. The responsibility grows when you look at more and more countries in perspective. But if you are like me and literally cry whenever you get anxiety about the state of the environment or climate change’s effects – remember to take a step back and realise you are doing the best you can. If you are sat there going ‘fuck it not my problem!’ or failing to acknowledge what’s going on, then I’d want you to reconsider your mindset.

So I thought if everyone made small environmental related goals or resolutions (like new year resolutions) would that change things gradually? On larger scales you’ll hear of companies and organisations undertaking eco-friendly initiatives and such – for example a company might suggest that in their staff kitchen they’re going to stop purchasing disposable cutlery and cups and invest in reusable kitchenware and that all staff need to clean up after themselves and this will be to minimize their plastic waste. It’s a very made up on the spot metaphor but roll with me – if every family, couple, household or single person took on a mindset like this would it be beneficial?

I stopped eating vegetarian a couple of months back due to personal reasons and at least twice a week I claim that I want to go veggie again because I know deep down that eating vegetarian has bigger benefits in the bigger picture than how tasty a bacon sarnie would be. In a conversation about the report I mentioned me and my partner actually decided we’re going to slowly try to go vegetarian again. I see that as my goal for the next month. I also have been telling myself over the past month or two to cut down on buying new clothes and makeup, that if I really want to treat myself to something I should look into supporting independent businesses or secondhand clothing or I’ve also made it a goal that when my shower gels I have left over run out I want to invest in a packaging free soap (probably from LUSH, I have my heart set on the Sleepy Naked Shower Gel) because that means one or two less plastic bottles in the bin!

So what would your goals be? If you were a parent maybe you’d set your monthly goal to have one day a week that all household meals were meat-free (Meat-Free Monday for instance) or if you were a student you could make it a goal that you’d take your thermos to class instead of buying a coffee on campus so no disposable cup would be used? There’s a lot of ideas to think of and it can help the idea of starting off small and working your way through adding eco-friendly and sustainable routines to your life, all in all working towards the fight to help our planet!

What would you make as your environmental resolution for October?

Thanks for reading,

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Articles:

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/10/9/17951924/climate-change-global-warming-un-ipcc-report-takeaways?__twitter_impression=true

https://www.vox.com/2018/10/8/17948832/climate-change-global-warming-un-ipcc-report

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/10/how-to-understand-the-uns-dire-new-climate-report/572356/

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

 

Current Game Wishlist (Winter 2018)

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about books, cruelty-free products, skincare and discussing mental health and how to deal with anxiety and such. That’s probably the main basis for my blog and what I aspire to share on here. However, I. freaking. love. video. games.

I’ve done one or two posts about video games before and mentioned my favourite games and characters, plus if you know me in person you’ll know how much video game related merch, consoles and games I own (I own way too many games on steam I have yet to finish, it’s a problem). I’m lucky enough to have had a year’s experience doing an apprenticeship practicing game art/3D modelling and my partner and housemates are all studying game design, so I’m surrounded by countless outlets of different games, consoles and styles which makes me happy because video games have given me years of enjoyment and happiness. Some games have even been great at reducing my anxiety and keeping me stimulated when I feel at my worst.

However it is kind of disheartening, especially if you even spend a minute on Twitter, being a female gamer sometimes. With the rise of stories of particular big name game studios turning out to have very toxic, male-dominated, sexist hidden cultures in their staff or studios firing female staff mainly on the basis of keeping a minority of their fans (the not-so-nice ones that form a mob and guilt their supposed ‘favourite studio’ into firing staff because they say they’ll stop playing) happy, it can be very daunting and upsetting but alas not surprising. 63% of women in a 2012 poll reported being called derogatory names during gaming and I’ve experienced and seen first hand female gamers being questioned on their hobby. You get women being accused of ‘liking games just for attention’ – do you really think we save up our own well-earned money to buy games and consoles just to impress someone else? These ridiculous, sexist assumptions need to stop.

So when it comes to buying and playing games now, it can be tiring to try to ensure I’m contributing towards decent studios but also not falling for the rampant act of pushing girls out of online communities and ‘male-dominated’ games. Girls should be able to enjoy whatever damn games they want, be able to play competitive online games without getting disgusting comments and should be able to express and bask in their hobby on their social media without being questioned. Go girl gamers!

So to bring a brighter side to my repetitive rant, I thought I’d share with you some incredible looking games that have been popping up lately that I am dying to get my hands on at some point!

Two Point Hospital – Two Point Studios and SEGA

If you played Theme Hospital growing up, this game is pretty much its higher quality successor. Two Point Studios was founded in 2016 by Ben Hymers, Mark Webley and Gary Carr. Carr and Webley had in fact previously worked for Bullfrog Productions (the original creators of Theme Hospital) and then went on to work for Lionhead Studios (best known for creating the Fable series). Two Point Hospital released at the end of August this year and since has been really basking in positive reviews on Steam. It is essentially a simulation/sandbox game where you create a hospital in the style you want, and as more patients arrive with strange diseases (some of my personal favourites being 8-bitten, light-headed and denim genes) you have to try to manage your hospital, your staff, your money and your patients as efficiently as possible. The absolute buzz of these kind of games is getting everything working smoothly and fine-tuned but the different level specifications and limits keep you glued to your computer for hours as you want to unlock everything and experience all the daft humour that comes with it. At the moment Two Point Hospital is available on Steam for £24.99, I’m not sure if it has any plans to release on consoles!

Steam Link

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Ooblets – Glumberland and Double Fine

Ooblets is an upcoming indie game made a pair of lovely people called Rebecca and Ben and together they’ve name their mini studio creating Ooblets – ‘Glumberland’. The game hasn’t got a set release date so far, but from the teaser trailers and images online, I know I’m going to be all over this game. For one, I absolutely adore cute, low-poly style game art and second, Rebecca and Ben describe Ooblets as ‘an upcoming farming, creature collection, and town life indie game inspired by Pokémon, Harvest Moon, and Animal Crossing’ – now that is literally three of my favourite games of all time put into one sentence! All my life I have loved relaxing games where you can customize your character and world to make your game feel like it’s personal to you and I also love farming games where you have set stuff to do every so often and it ends up putting you into a very dreamy, absorbing routine-like state (that’s such a weird way to describe it but if you’re a big fan of Animal Crossing you’ll get what I mean!). The game is said to have a ‘bustling town’ full of different characters and you can also join Ooblet Clubs! Everything about this game sounds very exciting and I can’t wait to see what the Glumberland duo continue to add to what already seems like a lovely, gorgeous game! You can wishlist Ooblets on their steam page and they also have plenty of links to social media, discords and a patreon to support them over on the game’s website!

Steam Link | Ooblets Website

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Donut County – Ben Esposito and Annapurna Interactive

Much like Ooblets, one of the first things that admittedly drew me to Donut County was it’s low poly, colourful, cute game art and environments. Donut County, made on Unity and developed by Ben Esposito, is a game with a goal very eloquently stated on the website as ‘Meet the locals, steal their trash and throw them in a hole.’ Already I’m sold. Donut County is a casual, indie game where you play as a cute but cunning raccoon named BK and his app that creates holes in the ground. BK ends up swallowing the whole of Donut County and his best friend Mira and other residents of the county demand answers as to why BK has gotten them stuck 999 feet underground! The concept is absolutely hilarious and bizarre but the gameplay itself is so satisfying! My only experience with the gameplay so far is watching someone play it on Youtube and it looks absolutely worth it. The characters are all so unique and well designed, it has hilarious humour in the ‘trashopedia’ (which you can look at when you’ve finished a level to see what ‘trash’ you swallowed in your hole) and also the soundtrack is incredible! Donut County released on the 28th August on Steam, PS4 and iOS and I can’t wait to try it!

Steam Link | Donut County Website | Donut County Soundtrack (definitely listen!!)

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So that’s my top three games I have on my wishlist right now! I can’t wait to hopefully download Two Point or Donut County because they look so fun, and it’ll be exciting to see anymore development on Ooblets! I could go on with some of the games out soon or recently announced (especially after last night’s Nintendo Direct) but I’d be here for ages! I definitely recommend having a look at these games because you’ll be supporting some incredible creators! Also p.s Annapurna Interactive if you ever see this – I’d definitely be first in theoretical line for some Donut County merchandise!

I hope you enjoyed reading this and feel free to share any games you’ve wishlisted recently or are looking forward to in the comments!

Thanks for reading

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A chat about suicidal thoughts for National Suicide Prevention Week

What I’m deciding to write about today is a period in my life that I was lucky enough to endure, make careful decisions and survive to become who I am today. It was scary for me in the time it happened and it’s, honestly, scary to have to bring it up again. In writing. Online. But you’d be surprised the reality of the situation and how common it can be for many people.

Suicidal thoughts isn’t a vivid, harsh costume or mask that will be pain-painstakingly obvious to everyone else. You’ll never meet up with a friend and be instantly clued into how they’re feeling at this exact moment. Sometimes it may be more easy than others, but depression and the severity of symptoms can be invisible and the only way to communicate how someone feels is through talking.

Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone at any time

The funny thing to me, personally, about this time in my life is that it was meant to be a period in my life where everything should have been exciting, it should have been fun and things should have been going my way and I should have maybe been kick starting up a whole new ray of confidence inside myself. The complete opposite is true. My mental health hit, what I’d consider, it’s rock bottom. The first few months of University I had a spiral of depression, PTSD, anxiety and self-destructive behaviours that took me so long to get out of. Even today I’m still affected by this period in my life whether it be self-hatred thoughts about how I acted and questioning and regretting constantly what I could have done differently.

A lot of things went wrong for me in my first week of University, this would then eventually lead onto me skipping class, sleeping through the day, not sleeping at night. Things got worse and I found myself pushing away friends, not going into work, being rude and disrespectful to important people in my life, drinking excessively until I couldn’t feel or remember anything, impulsive money spending. My mental health was like a dripping tap that just kept drip, drip, dripping every little reason to be happy. I was ruining myself with self-destructive behaviours and ruining everything around me because I felt this was who I was meant to be and that it’d be fine because I felt maybe soon I’d be gone.

That didn’t obviously come true. I’m still here.

What happened is a personal story, but what happened on the day in a way makes me weirdly thankful for my anxiety. I ended up having a panic attack in work because the thoughts were too much, they felt like daggers in my chest and I could still feel the voice somewhere telling me ‘I don’t actually want this’ so I knew I had to try and get help. I ended up rushing out mid shift and taking myself to Samaritans. A lot of my bad days around this period of University is starting to slowly blur into a weird, fuzzy memory now which I’m grateful for because it makes the healing a lot easier, but I remember visiting Samaritans so vividly. Their building is so quiet and so bright. All the members of staff there are very calm and do want to help you in any way they can. There was a lot of forces that helped me decide it’s best to carry on but physically getting the bad thoughts off my chest and realising what they meant helped me so much. I can’t remember what I did after visiting there but I’m glad I decided to carry on.

My depression has never gone away but eventually after that period in my life I was lucky enough to meet one of the best counsellors I’ve ever had and she was able to help me cope a lot better with my depression, PTSD and anxiety. I learnt to take responsibility for the things I did wrong during my ‘bad time’ but not let them take such a heavy hold on my life and to work on ignoring the bad thoughts, the self-hatred and work towards looking at life more clearly and with more optimism. I feel talking to her and working with her was my physical proof of why being able to access help is so important.

Suicide affects everyone

In 2015, according to Samaritans, overall there was 6,188 people who died of suicide just in the UK. Their statistics also show that the age groups with highest suicide rate per 100,000 are anyone, regardless of gender, in the 45-49 age group. (1) There is also a study online conducted by the University of Manchester, into suicide in children and young people who shows the majority of deaths they included in the study were male (70%) and that ten common themes in suicide by young people include experience of suicide, abuse, neglect, bullying, academic pressures, physical health conditions, alcohol/substances and mental health. It also discusses that around a quarter (27%) of the people in the study had expressed suicidal ideas in the week before they died. (2)

I believe this statistics shows how important it is we need to listen to people and that we all damn well need to get better at it. The truth is a lot of people suffering from severe depression and suicidal thoughts don’t want to talk about it. It’s draining and stressful and nothing is more terrifying than admitting to anybody close that we aren’t satisfied with living. You might be able to tell through the whole post I’ve even skirted around saying I’ve had those feelings because it’s a horrible feeling to live with. I’ve been lucky enough to get past that feeling, to get help and to move on but some people aren’t so lucky and in the UK year by year it’s getting even more difficult to access help. People are either sent home because they’re not ‘in danger enough’, the waiting lists for counselling are months long or people have to pay extortionate amounts and travel long distances to get help (4). These blocks in the road make it so difficult for people struggling with suicidal thoughts. When someone is at that point and feels that way, they deserve good help. It takes a lot of courage and bravery to ask for help and talk about how you feel so when you get sent home or just told measly rubbish like ‘go outside more’ or ‘think more positive thoughts’ it is literally a kick in the teeth, punch in the guts and then some.

Guilt and being condescending isn’t a way forward

You’ve seen the posts on Facebook. You’ve heard that one relative or person at work who says these ignorant things. Telling people that suicide is selfish and that people who do it don’t ‘think of the people around them’ and that they’re cowards is not helping anyone in the slightest. The scary truth is if someone wants to go through with it, they have a huge chance of doing so. Being condescending and ridiculing them is not helping.

A mental health study in the UK reported that 51% of adults who felt stressed also felt depressed and 61% felt anxious. (3) When the majority of people in the UK are suffering from a mental health issue, diagnosed or not, why are we still being mean? Why are we still making jokes about suicide, making jokes about overdoses and using the deaths of celebrities to shift blame and make clickbait tabloids. Sure, whenever National Suicide Prevention Week and other national awareness days come along, a large majority online now will discuss that we need to erase the stigma of suicide but what we also really need to do is be more respectful as people. Take suicide more seriously and take the people, our loved ones, our fellow colleagues, friends, classmates way more seriously if they come forward saying they don’t feel good. Everyone deserves the chance to reach out for help and try to work their way past these dark feelings. Everyone should have the right to access free, useful mental health help. The statistic in suicide in young people for children who didn’t get to access any service is the highest number for a reason.

The sole thing I think everyone needs to take away and consider on National Suicide Prevention Week is that we all need to fight harder against the people who are trying to strip us of our mental health services. Being able to access counselling could be the one thing that sets somebody who is at their lowest off on a journey of healing and recovery. We all need to take the topic of suicide more seriously. Suicide is never and will never be something you just hear about in young people, celebrities and online. It’s a very real deal that can affect anyone of any gender and age.

HELPLINES UK:

  • Samaritans: 116 123
  • CALM (for men): 0800 58 58 58
  • Papyrus (for people under 35): 0800 068 4141
  • Childline (for children, under 19’s): 0800 1111
  • Switchboard (for LGBTQ+): 0300 330 0630

NHS Website:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/

SOURCES:

  1. https://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2017_Final.pdf
  2. http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=37568
  3. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-stress
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/20/help-mental-health-problem-five-stories

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Anxiety Battles

Anxiety has consumed a lot of my life in the past year or the past week or past month, maybe, honestly at this point – I can’t tell or remember the difference. It often feels like the same miserable, self-pitying feeling you get when you have a cold. When you’re full of the flu and your nose is blocked, you lie there in bed surrounded by tissues with the stark realization you didn’t damn well appreciate what it was like when you didn’t have a blocked nose and sore throat. Except at the moment I feel like I’m stuck in an occasional limbo of nostalgically looking back to whenever I felt full of confidence, hope and positivity. I earn some days and nights for the last time I went outside and didn’t have intense paranoia about random possible scenarios that had a 1 to 1000 chance of happening or harrowing discomfort whenever a stranger looked slightly in my direction. The nauseating bubbles in my stomach or the tension headaches from staying up with my mind buzzing of ‘what ifs’ and ‘hey what if this happens?’ or ‘what if this thing you think negatively of yourself is true?’ is so draining and not in the way where maybe I’ll get a good nights sleep when I finally hit the pillow because lately it’s been at least an hour or two sometimes before my mind will calm down enough to let me sleep.

Now you’re probably thinking, hey Helena where are you going with this? Is this meant to be a story of anxiety struggles but something marvelous has happened and it has a happy ending? Is this a set up for a post to give advice about anxiety where you act as if you know how to handle it when really you’re probably the least tactful person when dealing with your own anxiety? Is this really a sneaky review for something? Honestly, this is just a chat. From me to computer screen to whoever may feel like reading. If you’ve made it this far, I commend you. The past few nights and especially after watching a video on Youtube, which I’ll mention in a bit, I’ve considered expressing my struggles, my aspirations, my ideas and my hopes and goals a lot more through my blog. It’s almost egotistical in some senses but maybe this will benefit me, maybe this’ll benefit someone else, maybe there’ll be one word or phrase in something that I word-vomit onto this blog that could speak to someone. Two of my current goals in life that I feel that I, honestly, need to do better at is – a) Looking after myself more and b) Looking out for others and helping others more.

Kindness and empathy are two traits I think are so important in day-to-day life and in the world we live in at the moment. I absolutely adore reading stories of people doing random acts of kindness, people setting up charities and movements that they personally run to help others, people creating art and media to inspire others and reflect a positive mental attitude. It’s something that gives me hope and lately I’ve needed hope really badly. On some nights it feels like I’ve been housing a nocturnal, pessimistic demon in my brain who likes to send my brain into a spiral as I’m trying to sleep and the funny thing is, is how I don’t feel I’ve ‘given in’ to this demon at all because deep down I want so much good for the world, I want to be an activist, I want to create things, I want to actively work towards helping others even if its small things like smiling at someone or being there for them when they feel a bit down, or making people baked goods just to see them smile – I want to do better, I want to be the ‘change you wish to see in the world’ and all that cliché, but the catch is my anxiety is almost weighing me down with opposing negative thoughts. Because of my anxiety I feel so much fear, distrust and fatigue. I feel so nervous around other people, I feel so nervous about doing new things, I feel so nervous that going out of my comfort zone will end up with me hurt, people I love hurt or embarrassment or a bigger knock in confidence. Sometimes I feel like I do not trust anyone and my anxiety makes me think everyone is out to get me or doesn’t like me unless proven otherwise.

The video I watched that randomly stirred a new feeling of being absolutely sick and done with this anxiety was weirdly a Markiplier video. Now if you don’t recognise that name, he’s a big youtube name who does gaming videos mostly but has also done quite a lot of charity work and I believe is working on an interactive project? I’m not engrossed enough to know completely but essentially the video I watched is Mark discussing ‘pain’, what some of the worst ‘pain’ he’s been in his life has been and how it’s changed him and changed his perspective. What stuck out to me is how he talked about after having quite a horrible doctor during painful recovery after surgery how a lot of his family were telling him to sue but he talks about how he never wants to be a ‘revengeful’ person even if he feels like he can be quite spiteful. He talks about how if you only ever use anger as a release for stuff, it’s going to be very toxic and damaging to yourself and it spoke to me because lately, especially during at university, I’ve had so many occasions when either things have gone wrong, people have upset me or taken advantage of me and all I’ve felt is anger and stress. Both at other people and then after trying to teach myself to understand other people’s perspectives and take responsibility, I’ve been angry at myself and when you get to that point, there’s never really any letting go of that completely. So now, yes I’m pissed off at my anxiety for how much it’s drained me and taken over my life, my perspectives and my attitudes towards things, but I want to teach myself how to not get so stressed about things, especially when they go wrong.

Being angry is completely valid. Being upset is completely valid. When people hurt you or let you down, you have every right to be upset. What I wish to learn though is how to make that passage or journey after something like that so less stressful and draining. I want to learn how to not let stuff like that be extra building blocks for the walls my anxiety puts up. I want to learn how to feel something, feel the feelings I am allowed to feel as a human, but then communicate with people who care about me and take the steps and responsibility to not let it break my confidence down but instead learn from it, distance myself from the pain and carry on. I don’t want anxiety to be my definition or control parts of my life.

So I don’t really have any happy ending or resolution for all this but that’s kind of how living with anxiety can be, isn’t it? Some times you will actually feel a release or something will happen and you’ll be told by others how much ‘better you’re doing’ and you think ‘Wow, I’ve done it, I’ve beaten anxiety’. But the reality is sometimes it’ll come back and come back hard and honestly that’s what I’m going through right now. I hope maybe as time goes by, I’ll be able to figure out how to live with it and accept it.

 

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What is writing to me?

Writing is a pain in the arse.

Writing, to me, is feeling absolutely overwhelmed even though your mind is completely empty. It’s feeling like you’re in a fight with your brain because you can’t find the words you want to put out there. It’s fighting with your brain because you feel too stupid to articulate what you want to say. Fighting because you’ve been itching for hours to do the only thing you thought you were good at. It’s the writers block that has been going on for days, for weeks, for months. It’s feeling that now you haven’t been able to write anything for a day, you probably won’t be able to write anything for a week. It’s feeling like the person who wrote stories when you were younger is not the same person, because you can’t pull out the motivation or imagination that was able to create so much back then. It’s having a white, blank page glare back at you for so long that the screen warps and it feels like the icons and buttons are laughing at you. It’s watching the word count flicker back and forth as you dislike what you wrote five minutes after finally typing it out. It’s frowning so hard and tapping at your skin in hopes this will force words out.

It’s envying the people who didn’t struggle with the class coursework, it’s feeling like you might not have the capability that everyone else has. It’s worrying that you’ll never be able to move anyone with your writing. That your prose will never give anyone goosebumps. That your poetry will never make anyone’s heart throb. It’s watching words repeat and getting sick of them. It’s trying to bring new words into your vocabulary and second guessing yourself because you’re not sure they fit well. It’s like having a puzzle dumped in a moving river and trying to gather it all together but losing parts one by one as they get pulled into a whirlpool full of everything you’re stressing about. It’s laughing at your own metaphors because anybody with common sense could think of a better one. Writing is feeling like everything you want to say and everything that comes from the heart is dissolving as soon as the idea even passes your mind. Writing is feeling there’s no point to even note your idea down because you’ll instantly find flaws in it.

But writing is also the best skill I have in my life.

Writing is therapy. It’s finally unscrewing the overflowing, pressurized bottles inside and letting all the bubbly mixture pour away into a delicious mixture. It’s knowing that sometimes the words you manage to scrap together will flow beautifully and sit comfortably just like the feeling of sitting in front of a cosy fire in the winter. It’s finishing a long piece of coursework and feeling satisfied because you did that. You put all your heart and soul into it. Writing is getting the anger out. It’s letting yourself breath, it’s unfastening the frown in your eyebrows and letting your hands exercise. It’s distracting yourself from the defeated feeling, it’s distracting yourself from the stressed feeling. It’s proving to yourself that you’ve gotten better and stronger than you were when you were younger. Writing is having people tell you that they love your writing. It’s having people tell you that something you wrote related to them hard. It’s seeing your poetry at an exhibition, it’s your tutor telling you that your ideas would be publishing material, it’s having people tell you that they can’t wait to see you become the writer you’ve always wanted to be. It’s sticking at your blog for three whole years through heavy depression, through manipulation, through bullying, through bad jobs, through the low confidence. It’s knowing you have proof to show you survived and that you kept doing what you loved. It’s living life and seeing beauty in a sweet coffee you had on the commute to work or the song of a gorgeous bird making you smile on a walk home. It’s keeping all these feelings, these memories, these glimmers of hope and knowing one day you’ll be able to express them in so many different ways whether it’s a poem, a children’s book or a blog post.

Writing is knowing you have a voice and using it for great things.

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