Solo Travel with a chronic illness

 

So, a few weeks ago I had a moment of spontaneity – one that had been bubbling for a long time. I booked a 4 day trip to Berlin. Yes, I have an adventurous side and very much  have something calling me to do more travel. So I decided upon a short solo trip as a warm up for a longer or further afield trip one day because new York is a dream of mine but I also want to do the backpacking through Europe thing. This blog post will be discussing my experiences and lessons learnt.

First off, I should have maybe been less spontaneous – done more research into the hotel I was staying in and such and common scams in Berlin – although I did figure it out by myself. Whilst in Berlin I had no major problems. Getting lost, a little language issue but on the whole everyone spoke surprisingly good English. The heat was another issue, as for those of you following the news there was a “hell” heatwave in continental Europe the past week. But I was safe. I felt safe and it was amazing. I did more than I have done in years – it was liberating.

The first day I arrived mid afternoon. Navigated my way through Tegal airport – which on the arriving end was lovely as it’s so small. (Will say more on the departing end later). I then navigated my way to the hotel, checked in, showered and headed off to explore the east side gallery and Checkpoint Charlie.

 

The East side gallery is incredible -with a lot of incredibly powerful street art. I took a break half way through and sat by the river for a few minutes. I would say that this is the best part about solo travel with a chronic illness. Not feeling guilty for having to sit down and rest or move through a museum faster because standing still and reading is more taxing than walking. Just being able to be your own person. To be free…

The second day was the hottest but I somehow managed to walk the most I did on the whole trip because I am incapable of just sitting still. Honestly starting to wonder if I have ADHD because it’s a problem. Not just the sitting still either. I went to the Brandenburg gate, found some incredible vegan donuts, went to the dome and roof terrace of the German parliament. (This was the best experience of the whole trip). I also went to Urban Nation, which was a free art gallery in Berlin of street art from across the world. (Definitely a close second and well worth a visit. I absolutely loved the atmosphere as well as the art.) I then went back to my hotel to rest for a few hours and ventured to find dinner, at which point I also had a quick look round the holocaust memorial.

 

Had a lot of rest and left a little later the next day. On my third day I went to the topography of terror. This was a very moving experience and again I certaintly recommend visiting. I’m not really a museum gal but it was an experience to remember and I was captured by it. I then went to the cathedral on museum island. Museum island has some incredibly beautiful architecture and despite the many scam artists on the grass outside the cathedral I can see myself spending hours there just reading a book and enjoying the sun. (This is from the gal who can’t sit still). I then decided to make my way down to the Berlin wall memorial – just wanting to see the spikes rather than actually hand around and read the information as I really was not feeling well at this point and the fatigue was taking over. After public transport, I hired a bike through mobike and cycled round. I also had a little cycle through mauerpark. This was when I realised just how weak I am as the 3k cycle was incredibly difficult and slow even though I physically could not go any faster. But at the same time, it was liberating to be independent – to get on a bike and finally start getting those building blocks to be able to go on bike rides with family or group bike tours again.

Yes my legs were very cramped up and weak after this, my bum was also sore from sitting on the saddle. (Anyone else get that bruised bum feeling from a bike seat?) I had vegan currywurst for dinner and ice-cream for dessert. Berlin is fab for vegans.

 

My final day I made sure to get lots of rest in the morning. Not heading out as early as usual and promised to take the explorations slower as it was going to be a long day due to flying back that night. I went back to the cathedral with the intention of reading but actually ended up talking to someone. He seemed nice but I wasn’t 100% comfortable because it was an area where lots of scammers lied. So when he offered to walk to Tiergarten with me I kindly refused. I also made sure not to give away too much personal information – i.e by saying I lived in London rather than my actual town and not giving away my flight time.

After sitting there for what must have been two hours, talking and then reading some of my book, I went to Tempelhof as I still had some bike credit left to use and I thought riding along an airport runway  was a great way to do this. And it was – again didn’t stop to read information and just rode. I swear I nearly died and it took 36 minutes to cycle the 5k but I managed!

Finally, I headed to the airport, had a bagel for dinner and read some more of my book before the check in and security hell commenced.

The problem with Tegal is that it hasn’t adapted to the modern world. The need for in depth security after 9/11 etc and it’s still kinda stuck in the cold war. Looks that way too. Navigating the check in queue was difficult as it was right alongside and on the inside of a longer security queue for at least another flight. It also took a very long time to go through both despite not being that long. This caused my shoulder to dislocate, which I struggled to get back in for a while. But they are the breaks. I also found the airport staff very rude. Not really to myself but certainly to other people who were just asking questions as it wasn’t a particularly clearly signposted and navigable airport. Once you’ve passed security you only have a couple of vending machines, a hot dog stand and a duty free that’s about half the size of my bedroom. So, I am very glad I got food first.

Flight was fine. Wasn’t even sitting next to anyone so I had the extra space that I very much appreciate. I finished my book and listened to more of “the secret barrister” on audible. It was a more bumpy flight than I’m used to but no problems. Once getting off, had a little passport issue. It wasn’t scanning but eventually got my way back into my own country. Got my baggage and through customs which was no problem and after asking a member of staff got my way to the bus stop to get to the hotel.

This was where I had a problem. I don’t want to go into it because I’ve discussed it too much and it’s painful and traumatising to remember although physically I remained untouched. Lets just say when I heard the friend of this London based male say “lets knock on her door tonight.” I should have gone back downstairs and asked to change room. One of them knocked all night – clearly high on something and saying things that felt intimidating and scary. That sort of fear that makes you freeze rather than doing the logical thing and phoning reception to complain. I had zero sleep and despite having several bouts of diarrhoea, and having to breath deep all the way home whilst slowly eating packet of crisps and drinking water so I wouldn’t vomit I got out of that room at 7:10 AM.

We got home safe and sound but that’s definitely taught me some important lessons. Don’t freak and freeze. But also to trust my intuition. The second I felt unsafe on the same floor of them I shouldn’t have thought “Oh I’m just being paranoid”. I should have taken action and next time I will. It has knocked my confidence with being alone. I could have very easily been raped by his male who was probably around my age and sadly these things happen to some people in hotels.

I have also decided I would feel safer in hostels in female only dorms due to safety in numbers – although this is likely not a sensible health decision I will definitely look at it next time I travel. Although nothing happened and I didn’t get hurt it ns something that will stay with me for a while and honestly it just goes to show going abroad as a female isn’t necessarily more dangerous than staying in a hotel or just living your daily life in your own country. There are awful men everywhere, yes some countries are worse than others but it does, it can and it will happen everywhere. So the fear of being raped should not be a deterrent to solo female travel. With proper precautions and research I definitely recommend it and I’m looking forward to more.

It was overall a really positive and freeing experience. Just one that was tainted at the end. But that’s okay, life’s not all positive and there is a lesson in every experience. I can move on from the bad and if you dream of travel but have no one to go with, I highly recommend just going for it and taking that leap!

How to get a first in family law

Disclaimer: it goes without saying that this is not an exhaustive list and my only qualification to write about this is getting a first in family law. I am also going to try and avoid too much generalised advice and just let you know what I wish I knew before taking the module.  So let’s get started. 

  1. You need to consider the wider context – policy considerations, likely effect on the child, the political climate etc. Really consider this in essay questions and if you’re planning on thinking out of the box, problem questions too!
  2. Take a psycho-social approach to the law – You will likely have a lot of studies thrown at you in lectures or put on your reading list about things like the importance of contact with both parents, the impact and prevalence of domestic violence, the reaction of the criminal justice system to domestic violence and various other areas you will  cover throughout the course. It can be difficult to know how to utilise these and what the purpose of them is at the beginning because these are things that are not featured in many other law modules. But use them! Use them to back up a point, use them to help explain why the law is the way it is and if you have coursework critique them.
  3. The Welfare of the child is paramount – The welfare principle comes up time and time again in family law. Know S1 Children Act 1989 off by heart. Just do it. Even if you can use statute books in the exam. In revision notes make note of when it applies and which parts apply to help avoid confusion.
  4. Feminism – Feminist perspectives to the law are prevalent and easily applicable to the entirety of family law. If you have coursework spend some time discussing this where relevant and think about it for exam essays.
  5. Utilise a variety of resources – It can get confusing, but fortunately family law is well resourced. If you need to use a website meant for parents going through disputes just to get the bare bones then that’s okay. You can build up from that to get the knowledge base necessary for a first. Understanding is however key. You can know all the statute and case law but if you don’t know the reasoning behind it or implications of it you won’t get a first.
  6. Human rights – More specifically consider A8 ECHR and the implications that has on the law in that topic – could one argue A8 implications as a reason for reform?
  7. Case facts  – Okay I guess this is a more general one. They can be useful for essays to analyse whether the decision was a just one or to outright say how unjust the decision was but don’t get too bogged down with them. In problems remember that in many areas of family law each case is decided on it’s own facts. So don’t justify your conclusion based on a similar case. Stick to principles from the cases and apply them.

If you keep these in mind, they will definitely help you succeed in this module. Family law can get very overwhelming but it is certainly doable and it was probably my favourite module in final year.

If anyone wants advice relating to other modules you may take in law school leave a comment! And if anyone has more family law advice please feel free to comment!

From 2:2 to 1st

Passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law, and of life – Elle Woods

Earlier this week I received my overall degree classification and my final year module results. And well… the title says it all. I got a first. Very much feeling like Elle Woods right now despite perfectionist me trying to get me down because some people get higher firsts. Yes I need to learn to be easier on myself. I am mentally and physically unwell and a first is more than enough! But anyway, in light of the progress I have made throughout my degree I thought I’d discuss a little bit of my journey and give a few useful tips getting the undergraduate degree you deserve. This will be aimed at law students but a lot of it will apply to many disciplines.

So a came out of first year with a 2:2 – albeit a high one because my strengths lie in exams. And back in the day there was a huge difference between exam me and coursework me. Now that difference is only marginal – but still there. Exams are my strength. For some coursework is there strength. There are a few tips that arise from this point.

  1. If you know your better at coursework before going to uni select a uni that offers a lot of coursework for your course – I think for my uni it was 60/40 for my class. Which is quite high for a law degree. If exams are your strength then maybe select a more exam based.
  2. If you don’t have this luxury – which I know I didn’t, then find it in your first year and really play to it. Take exam based modules if you have the choice or if coursework is your strength, take coursework based modules.
  3. Work on closing that gap – ask your lecturers what they are looking for, what you need to improve. Read books around your course in the holidays and refer back during the year and make sure you are away of the mark scheme at your institution and what it asks of you.

In first year I was a very busy gal. Yes I worked hard with my degree and I wanted to do my best but I was also doing a lot of other things and dealing with some terrifying and debilitating health issues which I will not discuss because just thinking back to the levels of pelvic pain and myriad of other symptoms is too much.  In my first year I had two jobs, spent 6-15 hours a week doing drama related activities, debated, attended poetry society and catholic society. I did a short course in advocacy, spent maybe a little too much time in the pub, had movie nights with my friends and went to the gym 3-6 times a week.

I was for the first time ever truly living my life – maybe as a distraction from the worry about my fertility levels and also because I very much like to seize the day if the opportunity to do so arises. Hilariously, I also applied to switch to theatre and got accepted. I made pro and con lists and couldn’t decide. But the day before I had to make a decision the judgement on the Charlie Gard case was handed down and it captured me.

It was then that I knew.

I was going to persist with the study and hopefully one day, the practice of law. That is still the case. I’m planning on working for a year because I need a break and then going on to do the BPTC. I would also like to go into law academically at some point because, just like Elle Woods, I learnt to love law.

2nd year I started off trying to be as busy as I was in 1st year, despite my chronic fatigue having got worse over the summer and still very much being symptomatic with suspected endometriosis and dealing with fibromyalgia – which I think I developed towards the end of my first year.

I was on two committees, had a job, dabbled in model UN and the climbing society. I also walked to and from uni.  So it was no wonder that despite working really hard that in my first piece of coursework I only got a 53. (And it was trusts law which I really did not understand, didn’t even answer the question – as I realised once I got feedback.)

All the meanwhile I was getting progressively more ill so I cut back. I had my degree, my committee responsibilities, many GP appointments, transvaginal ultrasounds, gynaecology appointments and blood tests and that was about it.

And what happened? I took that feedback from the 53 and on the next piece of coursework (EU law) I got 73. And it wasn’t a fluke. I got 73 in my land coursework and 68 in my tort coursework.

Admittedly this was not all sunshine and rainbows. My mental health in 2nd year was appalling because of the pill I was on at the time. Cerazette I hate you. I started self harming again, attempted suicide. But hey atleast I got good grades.

Going into exams I was determined to keep this up. So me and my concentrate revision guides and Q&A’s got to work.

Just want to put a disclaimer here – do not rely on revision guides too heavily. They are useful to supplement your own work and  resources, to clarify areas you don’t understand and to improve exam technique. 

And my exam results were as follows

  • Tort: 74
  • Trusts: 77
  • Land: 76
  • EU: 69

Not too shabby at all and certainly more than I expected.

So after summer we go into third year. This year the workload was higher as we had a dissertation on top of the 4 modules. But we had choice over our modules and our dissertation topics.

Now I got really unwell with my ME/CFS and suspected POTS over summer so third year, gonna be honest. I only had my degree. But this is not be saying that you should have no life to do well. I was in a unique situation. Of being pretty much bedbound, and not very functional even in bed at the end of the summer but being too stubborn to take a year out. And I did have some life – just not as much of a life.

I spent time talking to my flat mates, had 7 theatre trips and other things happened.

But for the most part is was study, rest, attend medical appointments and apply for grad schemes (+ the interviews I had associated with that).

My health has honestly been a laughing matter this past year. I’ve managed to improve my ME/CFS drastically although I’m still probably on the mild/moderate borderline. My nausea is no where near as bad as it was in first term. But my joints are horrendous (Yay HSD), my fibro pain got a lot worse and I spent 2 months working my way up to the maximum dose of gabapentin. Which helps. But it made me really anxious and paranoid which I just deal with tbh, my mental health is still a lot better than it was in 2nd year.  Suspected endo and suspected POTS are much less of an issue but my skin is causing all sorts of issues.

But there we go. Life goes on.

I would say I learnt to love law in 2nd year but in my 3rd year I really developed that passion for law. Which I think can make everything more frustrating because suddenly it matters so much more. I absolutely chose the right modules.

It’s that passion that I believe really helped drive my success and allowed me to work the hours that I worked, despite so much going on health wise. It was no longer about just getting the grades because I need the grades. I was, for the first time, doing my degree for me and only me and because of that I wanted to do the best I possibly could.

In terms of revision it was a lot of recall, a lot of colour. I made PowerPoints for essay plans and colour coded problem answers. It was extra research where I felt it was needed or where I was just genuinely interested and it was tactical emails to lecturers, asking specific questions on things that were likely to be relevant to the exam that I needed clarifying. I asked about the structures expected of us and clarifications on the operation of specific parts of statute, sentencing guidelines and case law. It is also important to not underestimate the benefit of talking with your peer group about specific topics within your modules. And in relation to coursework lots of research and thinking. Thinking about the question, the wider context and the merits of the research itself. Again talking to your peers and getting people to proofread is helpful here.

So third year finishes and results are as follows

Coursework

  • Children and the Law: 73
  • Evidence: 73
  • Sentencing: 73

I was a consistent bunny.

Dissertation

  • 80

Exams

  • Children and the Law: 75
  • Evidence: 73
  • Sentencing: 75
  • Family: 86

I was a successful gal. In terms of academic achievement anyway. Not much else. But we have provisional job offers, we’re waiting to hear back from interviews and I’m meeting with someone about some volunteering on Monday.

I also want to note that I am not naturally intelligent and I really struggle with reading comprehension. I never expected these results and it was REALLY hard! Now I’ve finished discussing the journey I’ll end this post with useful tips and try and link a few useful resources.

  1. You need to peak at the right time! Third year is the most weighted year at most uni’s – don’t burn yourself out! Pace yourself. Take first year to get involved in all the things.
  2. If you don’t understand ask for help.
  3. Look after yourself. You won’t reach your full potential otherwise. This means trying to sleep atleast 7 hours a night, taking time to calm down. Go for a 10 minute run, do some yoga or pilates. Try to eat a balanced diet.
  4. Don’t become too isolated!
  5. Switch up your study space.
  6. Practice makes perfect.
  7. Extra research is a must – if you can go beyond the reading list that is even better – but you do not need to read everything on the reading list. If it says it’s optional, it means optional. Utilise them for coursework, seminar preparations  or when looking at specific exam questions.
  8. Attendance is key. Especially seminars but I also found it necessary to attend lectures as I focus more in a lecture than when just listening to the recording in bed.
  9. You do you. Comparison is the thief of joy. Please do not succumb to it. I know it is hard, I know law school is a breeding ground for comparison but you will save your self a lot of tears if you don’t succumb to it.
  10. Your lecturers will try to psych you out. Which makes sense. If you want to be a lawyer you need a thick skin. Be prepared!
  11. And finally, enjoy it!

Resources for law students:

And I am sure there are many other nuggets that you may find and I have found along the way. I just wanted to pinpoint the main and more universal resources.

Hope this was helpful and if anyone reading has useful tips and/or resources please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Perfectionism

 

Perfectionism.

Those who don’t understand it think we are just obnoxious, cocky or full of ourselves. Or they think that to be a perfectionist you have to actually always be perfect – always be actually reaching those unattainable goals that you set for yourself.

But these things are not true.

To my knowledge there are two types of perfectionism – a type that is positive and makes you strive for more, without neglecting your mental health and the more harmful type. The “bad” perfectionist, as I shall term it, sets unattainable goals, never feels good enough. Often suffers from anxiety and is at risk of burning out and developing chronic illnesses.

We are put of from starting or continuing things because we feel as though we are not good enough and so they are not worth it. We set unattainable goals and have to be the best.

A first isn’t good enough. You need marks in the 80s and 90s just because other people can. Doing your job well isn’t enough. You always feel inadequate and have to be perfect.

It’s actually soul destroying, mentally and physically damaging.

As a perfectionist it is very difficult to switch off, take time out. To not reply to that email instantly. It’s difficult to not feel like you must be constantly working – to the extent that even the most basic forms of self care get neglected.

An important thing to note here is that perfectionism doesn’t manifest the same way. It’s not necessarily being perfectly neat and tidy, valedictorian, involved in 1001 projects. People can be perfectionists in different aspects of life or it may just manifest differently in different aspects of a persons life.

It’s also fair to say that perfectionism is prevalent more so in some professions than others. It’s fair to say many barristers are perfectionists, many surgeons, many professional ballet dancers.

And, awareness needs to be raised. It can be a huge problem for some. It needs to be seen as such and the warning signs need to be identified.

Learning to accept that things take time

Patience is a virtue

I don’t know who said that originally, but it is something that is always said. Especially to someone whom does not have patience as one of their strengths.

I am not a patient person. I expect everything to happen instantly, fall into place instantly, be instant.

But that’s not life, that’s not reality. Not for the most of us. Reality is you don’t finish your degree and bam start work. Security checks take time, DBS checks take time. Hey, the start date may not be for a while.

Things take time, and that’s okay! Don’t feel bad for things you can’t control and don’t let anyone make you feel that way.

I’m currently in this awful place of waiting. Waiting for a temporary job to start – providing I get the references and DBS. A job that I’m not actually well enough to do but I just need something so desperately and it’s something enjoyable that I would happily volunteer to do. Waiting to hear back from a graduate scheme that I’m really passionate about, which starts in October.  Waiting to hear back for a paralegal position and waiting for security checks for another provisional offer. (Although haven’t been given anything to sign yet and that ones all v vague as to start date). And the all important waiting for the module results.

And that’s okay. It’s stressful and it’s difficult but that’s okay.

In times like this you just need to take each day as it comes and seize the day! Really just appreciate the life you’re in and find opportunities for yourself. Spend time doing the things you enjoy and see what happens.

I find that makes it a lot more enjoyable and stops you falling into that – watching an entire season of friends in a day trap. Although, I do like to watch it whilst I’m doing other things.

If you have some savings take a short holiday – somewhere not too far away. I’m going away next week and honestly now praying someone doesn’t just email me like “here’s a job, start now.” Because I have plans for those four days.

A welcome break. An adventure. Call it what you will. I like to call it a bit of both.

My first time solo travelling. Yes I’ve caught planes alone and stayed in a different city alone, but never have I been to a country, where I can’t speak the language alone.

Plan your future. I feel uncertainty gives you a lot of time to think. Like me knowing that in my head and my heart I’m a barrister so if I’m going to self fund a vocational training course it should the BPTC. Not that I’d turn down an opportunity to become a solicitor. Maybe I should have thought of this last year and applied deferred but oh well. We’re thinking this year. Actually I’m thinking I might seriously go for it – once I have a stableish living city. An end of the country would be helpful right now.

Then I can train as a Barrister and go into academia later. I don’t know what money with because we all know I’ll end up trying the whole legal aid bar thing.

I quite clearly have big plans which, hopefully I’ll have the spoons to put into place. To set the wheels in motion and make it happen.

And, what I’m saying is it’s okay to take it slower for a while. It’s necessary actually. Especially if your suffering from chronic and/or mental illnesses.

It’s okay to not have it all figured out. And maybe, just maybe. If you take time out, take it slower – you’ll see new things, appreciate simpler things and realise new things.

So maybe, patience really is a virtue.

 

Feeling useless

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Do you ever feel so useless that the slightest critique gets to you?
Do you ever have such low self esteem that everything feels like a personal attack?

Or is it just me?

I don’t know why but I have no self-esteem. I constantly feel like I am of no value, a burden… useless…

I get over it at times. I feel great. But it’s still underlying and lingering in the background.

I feel unaccepted in the things I do.

The decisions I make.

I feel trapped – like a bird – desperate to fly but not given the space to do anything.

Maybe that’s why I just booked a holiday to Berlin even though my life’s so uncertain right now…

So I can fly. So I feel less useless.

So I can explore, be independent and grow. To escape from the toxic environment I am in.

Recovering from low self esteem is a long winding road. It’s certainly not linear.  But it is possible if your given the right space and time to heal.

Sometimes it won’t feel possible. If you’re going through a vulnerable patch but it is! And if your experiencing this, you need to keep going. Keep pushing yourself and putting yourself out there and it will get better!

 

The one where I discuss loneliness and always feeling like an outcast

Essentially more of Han moaning about her fam to get the point across, also I’ve been watching friends, which explains the title.

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I’ve been noticing it more as I’ve got older and since I’ve matured into an adult in my family. That not being included in anything, not being listened to and not being heard. I’ve also noticed it in committee meetings, in friendship groups. When it comes to it no one ever hears what I say and I feel invisible.

And that’s it. That’s my life.

And then one wonders why I have mental health issues the way I do. Why I feel like no one cares. Why I struggle to make friends and talk to people.

Why I just feel so incredibly alone…

Especially now I’m seeing my brothers be listened to and included.

I wonder…. I wonder what it is that wrong with me.

I was inspired to talk about this because I ended up going to my nans this morning and now deeply regretting it. Thinking it would only be a couple of hours and now realising it’s taken up the entire day. At least all the energy I have to do useful things due to my ME/CFS. I had plans. But I went because… well I felt like I had to.

To go to not feel rewarded or valued and be intentionally left out. To not be included in any conversation. To now realise we’re staying for lunch and there’s nothing I can eat because I have to be plant based due to health issues.

I ate dairy yesterday and still regret it today because it genuinely feels like it just stays in my stomach forever.

To not know when we can go home so I can work on my interview prep that I have planned and after having been dragged on a dog walk I doubt I’ll have the energy to read, process information and write.

I can’t be the only one to feel this way. The only one to just not fit in…

The only one who just does not get on with there family full stop but until a job comes it’s way in a formal manner cannot do anything but live with them.

The one who desperately tries to please everyone but it’s never enough….

And I need someone to talk to. I think everyone needs someone to talk to if there in this situation. They need to feel loved, accepted, cared for. And society needs to help facilitate this. Going back to my previous post this may be a situation where social media is a force for good. But we also need real people in the real world to talk to.

I think this is why many people who report similar situation end up in abusive relationships… because it’s so easy to get sucked in and give the benefit of the doubt if you’ve never felt loved accepted or listened to.

Us more than ever, need safe spaces. Need an out, need options.

Need unconditional love. And at the very least – like minded people to talk to. To lessen the feelings of loneliness.

We need hope and faith that there is always and out and it will get better. At some point it will. Maybe not now and maybe not forever.

We need to see the light. To understand it’s not because it’s something wrong with us. And it’s also not our fault.

I find because of my experience I put a lot of blame on myself.

But anyway. I’m aware this post had no structure. I just want everyone to think. To think about what they could do to those of us in society who don’t look lonely but are. I want everyone to remember that they can’t see what happens behind closed doors and to look for warning signs.

Is someone quieter than usual, on the contrary are they being more needy than usual, are they acting out at school, grades dropping, self harming. Are they placing blame on themselves a lot, or making any other concerning statements? Less active on social media?

Keep an eye out on things and take action. It doesn’t have to be huge. It can be as little as just reaching out. But I do hope those in power to change things take action. Build awareness and programmes in the community to help us feel included.

Those of us left out. Left behind. Misunderstood. We deserve more.

Social media: Is it a force for good or does it harm mental health?

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Social media and it’s impact on us as individuals could honestly make up an entire dissertation or three. But today I am going to try to discuss social media and it’s impact on mental health, on community, on broadening horizons in one- hopefully not too long blog post.

First I want to say that the negative mental health effects of social media depend on mindset, on personality, on self-esteem. If you’re competitive, a perfectionist, have low self esteem social media, especially certain forms of social media will not be good for you. If you’re an empath you may be more negatively affected by it than others and may need to take more of a step back at time. To take care about what is appearing on your feed and really curate it to suit you.

In these cases seeing how much more successful everyone else is, seeing others balance 101 projects and still get 85s in their law exams hurts. It hurts, because most of us aren’t that “successful.” I put it that way because success does not have one definition – but society makes us feel that way. And I think when you see people being the person you wish you could be if it wasn’t for x, y or z it hurts.

Because yes. You can be anything you want to be – I truly believe in that statement to a point. But it shouldn’t be taken too literally.

I would love to be able to be a full time activity leader again because it would give me a summer job. But I can’t – it would objectively destroy me unless I was to solely do arts and crafts, movie nights and language games. But I don’t have that choice! It’s all or nothing.

When you take what is meant to be motivational too literally, when you compare yourself social media can be so harmful. Which is why It’s so important to check yourself and if one person is causing too much harm unfollow them.

One platform I find particularly damaging is Facebook. Because at least on my Facebook and indeed it’s intention is to only have people you know in your “friends list”. I get hurt when people don’ recognise my achievements as much as they recognise others. If I post to say I got a grade no one would care but other people even if they got lesser grades get hundreds of comments. And it’s not like it’s because it was harder to get those grades. It’s just the way it is – it’s the algorithm, it’s the amount of real friends, family they have.

It makes me feel incredibly alone…. especially when mutual friends comment but fail to comment on my post.

God that sounds self centred. But it’s why I am trying to use it a lot less. And eventually not atall because it is not a positive influence on my life. And I can’t make it  be.

Social media can however also be a force for good. A unifier. A way to connect with similar people whom you would not have otherwise connected with. It can make you feel less alone if you’re disabled and unable to get out of the house to see people much. If you have mental illness.

It can be a place for empowerment and broadening horizons. For finding new opportunities. It can too be a force for good.

I think it’s just really important to be so careful with how you consume it. So it stays that way.

Dealing with family

Family. You either love them or hate them, or maybe it’s a bit of both.

This blog post will be about dealing with family and the difficulties there, especially if, like me you are unfortunately graced with family whom you aren’t all that close to be that for any reason.

Speaking for myself it stems from an emotional neglect and medical neglect with I keep on blaming myself for.

So many years went by with my parents not knowing me at all. Where they didn’t have the time for me, didn’t support me the way I needed them to and didn’t accept me for me. And now – living with them again. Well I can’t say it’s easy.

Now, my current position means I am definitely not one for giving advice in negotiating and managing relationships with family. But I do hope the rest of this post may help give anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation some solace.

You are not alone. I know I feels like it. I do. I know emotional abuse, neglect, or any other negative family member can cause you to feel incredibly alone. It harms your development and the harm will never leave. But you are not alone. There will always be someone you can talk to – there are phone lines, there’s 7 cups of tea. So even if there is no one in the real world – you are not alone.

I know it sounds corny but it will all work out in the end and everything happens for a reason. Yes the harm is long lasting and there will be nights you spend in tears, having flashbacks. If you have younger siblings, yes this will hurt when they are being treated better than you are.

But I promise you. It will work out.

And if anyone ever needs to vent you can always DM be on insta @Spoonielivingfree. 6595526295_7fa79fd6e7_z