Monday, 13 April 2015

It's still okay not to be okay

Just over a year ago I wrote this post about my battle with negative mental health, something that I struggled with for the entirety for my first and second years at university, as well as spilling over into this year. It helped me make sense of what I was feeling and what was happening to me and so once again I turn to this space of the internet to untangle what is going on in my life and my mind.

It has been two months since I was discharged from counselling and when I began proudly telling all of my friends I was 'fixed', because in my eyes the problems I'd had were all gone. I had spent a year discussing and working on myself and my issues and being told I didn't need to do that any more was surely the sign that I was finally okay, finally happy. And for a while I guess I was. But slowly the cracks I had sealed shut started to break and those feelings started to come back. Not all the time and not quite like before but they are most certainly there.

I guess the reason I've found this so hard to deal with is because I have spent so long telling myself 'I am a happy person. I am a lucky person. I have so many reasons to be thankful.  I am surrounding by many loving and amazing people There are people who would kill for my bad days.' And yet I have these unsettled and unsavoury feelings that I can't shake. I had to remind myself that yes those things are true  You are incredibly lucky. But equally everyone has problems and it is wrong to compare them to anyone else's. As I always tell all of my friends 'if it bothers you its a problem, and that's okay.'

Sadness is a natural emotion We all feel it. Some very rarely, for others crippling and preventing them from leaving their beds. I'm lucky enough to have never suffered with depression but for me there is just a horrible unsettling feeling. Sadness comes in a wave and knocks me off me feet, sending me into a spiral that makes it really difficult to steady myself again. I've never had the greatest self confidence and as I become more unsettled this becomes worse. Not wanting to go out. Crying because I can't bring myself to put on any of the clothes in my wardrobe. And so I stop myself from doing things I love and hide away. I've got pretty good at forcing myself to get up and out and put on a smile but the crippling sense of discomfort remains. As I try to deal with that emotion and shield it from those I come into contact with, the loneliness emerges. I don't mean a fear of being alone, but a feeling of isolation from those around me through no fault of their own. The thought that perhaps if isolate myself slightly then no one will see the cracks. But then you're too removed to go back in. With my feelings of loneliness comes paranoia. A fear that I am a nuisance to any person that I come into contact with. That no one really wants to be around me. That everyone is laughing at me and making jokes about me. (Yes sadly my paranoia is that self centred). And when jokes are made taking them to heart and leaving everyone else lost. Then finally the thought that if I'm alone, I can't annoy anyone. Then the wave of sadness crashes again and the cycle continues.

But with all of these emotions comes an overwhelming feeling that I must hide them, for fear of being judged or becoming the part of harmless jokes and the implications of that. But someone once told me that sometimes all you need is 30 seconds of incredible bravery to do something amazing and to me nothing is more amazing that accepting yourself and telling everyone else to piss off if they don't like it.

My time in counselling has taught me how to recognise these feelings and although I still don't feel completely equipped to deal with them effectively, and I still make bad decisions about how to deal with them, they aren't totally debilitating any more. I get good days and bad days but there is always a slight 'buzz', like an annoying fly or a little dark cloud following me around a room. But most days are manageable and those that aren't... well I am still working on that but I have the tools to at least start. As with most negative health issues it can become easy to hide them from people, something I know I am definitely guilty of, and that can make it so much harder to deal with. And knowing that now has never been a more appropriate time to take my own advice: 'So next time someone asks you if you're okay, be honest. Don't say what you think people want to hear. You have nothing to be ashamed of.'

What I really want to say is that slowly I have come to learn that there is no 'fixed'. Whether you suffer from a diagnosed mental illness or simply a mental health issue it is okay not to feel 100%. And it's okay to admit that, even if you feel like you shouldn't feel that way any more. Take a deep breath and say 'you know what, I am just going to do my best today and that's all I need to do'. Although I don't feel it every day, and I've got pretty good at hiding or dealing with it, I've come to realise that negative mental health is something I am continuing to battle with and that is okay. And even after all the progress I have been able to make I've begun to accept it's STILL okay not to be okay.

Big  ♥,

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Final Year: What I Wish I'd Known

My whole time at University I've listened to final years complaining about how much work they had and how easy we had it. And you know what... they were definitely not exaggerating. Final year is a minefield of deadlines, trips to the library and pre-exam all nighters. With my final semester at University starting tomorrow (WAAAAAAH)  there are a few things I wish I'd known or should have listened to when people told me.

♥ Not knowing what you want to do with your life is completely normal. Even if you've just spent almost three years trying to work it out.

You can't do it all. Something has to give and you have make sacrifices.

♥ At the end of the day you are there for your course. Don't let anything else get in your way.

♥ Getting a 2:1 is great but getting a 2:2 won't end your life.

♥ Organisation is key.

♥ Going out is a treat and a rarity. Mainly because a hangover as a finalist is far worse than the ones you had as a fresher.

♥ Do allow time for fun or you'll drive yourself mental

♥ Apply for jobs early. Most grad scheme applications close. 

♥ Start thinking about your Dissertation early. It catches up on you.

♥ In fact just think about everything early. That way you never get stuck behind.

♥ But most of all... It's your final year. Your final chance. Use it well.

Big ♥,

Thursday, 29 January 2015

What to Write?

I love blogging. It has always been something that has brought me so much happiness and really focused my thoughts, but I found that as I student I just don't have the time to put into it that I used to. You get so caught up in life and making the most of your student experience that sometimes there isn't any time left for anything else.

But yet I still have all of these views and opinions that I want to share with people. (And sadly my flatmates don't always want to listen to me rant about all of the things that anger and upset me in the world around me). Sometimes I feel like I have so many things I want to say that I don't even know where to begin. My drafts box has hundreds of blog post titles I've typed and then left empty because I've been so overwhelmed at the thought of trying to process my thoughts, and turn them into something worth reading that I can't even start. But more than that, quite simply put: I compare myself. I look at what others are writing and how eloquently they put across their views and it makes me shrink back and eventually decide that what I am writing isn't worth anyone else reading anyway. Not when someone else is doing it seemingly better than me anyway.

So I thought write a diary. That'll be the answer! But I already know my own opinion and how I feel about all of these issues. How am I meant to try to change all those big issues that I dream about if I keep all this knowledge to myself. No one can read my mind and pull those thoughts out onto a page but me. And no one else will have an identical view to me. Our thoughts are all unique and that is why it is so interesting to see what others have to say. Because we know that no one is exactly the same as us.

It would be wrong to let an opinionated nature be wasted when everyone has something to bring to each debate or discuss. And it would be wrong to let yourself get in your own way and make yourself feel inadequate. We are limited by the walls we build around ourselves. So this is me knocking down that wall and letting myself know I can do whatever I want and write whatever I want, whether that's about politics or lipstick. It just takes a bit of belief.

Big ♥,

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mexico: Two Weeks In

It's been exactly two weeks since I landed in Mexico for my month adventure volunteering at various projects along the Western Coast and I've learnt more about myself and my abilities during that time than in my entire time at University so far. Quite simply; it's been amazing. 

Everyone always says that you should go traveling to 'find yourself' and I had never realised how true that was until I came here. This past academic year has been one of the hardest but most amazing of my life, and although I felt a sense of achivement overcoming all those obstacles during that period, I felt lost with where I was meant to go next with my life. I was questioning how I felt about myself, my relationships with others, my future. I didn't know myself anymore. But now I really think I'm starting to.

For anyone who is not aware I am volunteering here in Mexico with the charity 'The Seaver Foundation' for four weeks at four seperate non-profit projects: A children's refuge, a street project, a children's summer sports club and a disability day care centre . All four projects support children who have been abandoned, abused or orphaned. Many have traumatic pasts and suffer disabilities, social and behavioural difficulties, meaning they need more support than other children. The projects are all extremely short-staffed, but manage during school time when the children are out during the day however, throughout the Summer holidays, the volunteer team flies in to offer a range of wellbeing enhancing activities. My main base has been the day care centre where I have been helping with physio and massage as well as running activities such as decorating canvas bags and music and dance. I've also been putting my degree to use and doing some child centred evaluations at the orphanage. This involves asking the children their opinions on the volunteer experience using basic psychological testing, as well as conducting observations during activities or play, something that really sets this organisation apart! You could tell the children love sharing their views and enjoy the one-on-one time.

So with so much going on what have I learnt so far? I'm a lot more able than I think: I really worry about my abilities. I'm often putting myself down and saying 'Oh no I could never do that!' But when I put my mind to achieving something I can do it, even if it takes a little longer than I hoped. And with that all in mind... It's okay to be wrong: if you don't ever try you'll never know all the amazing things you are capable of and for some people the fact that you even tried is more than enough. I want to travel: I always knew I did. But I have never been more determined than now. Hearing stories from other travellers in the hostel has ignited the fire in me to really get up and do something about it this year. I'm finally going to make plans to see all of those things I wanted to see. And whereas before I would never have even dared consider going alone, now I feel really confident in my ability to make friends and be independent. Something I never thought would EVER happen. It's okay not to do what you expected: I am a planner. I make plans. And when I stray from those plans I get confused and stressed and don't know how to react. But working in the environment I do is all about being able to adapt and create an activity then and there, or even forget the one you have and use your time to help wherever necessary. And even in a much broader sense it's okay not to have your life planned out. I set an expectation for myself of where I thought I would be by the time I'm thirty and before this trip the idea of not reaching that goal frightened me. But now I can see all the other goals I can achieve even if I have to push that one back a few years. And you know what... that's okay. Any progress is good progress: It can be so fraustrating to come back to work after a few days off to see that a child you've been working with is almost as stiff as when you first started or has a complete lack of concentration again after working on it for a week. But it's so important to remember that even if their arm can stretch an extra 1inch than when we first started or they can concentrate 30 second longer, then that is progress. It's those little steps that make the difference.  The littlest things can make you happiest: You will never believe this more than the look on a child's face when they make a nice drawing or when somone really makes progress with their physio. They are just so happy. Those little things: creating something to be proud of, learning something new, getting to sit and learn something new about someone...  Those are the things that should make you happy and create a positive life. Small things can have a big impact and it's important to remember that.

I left the UK with a little apprehension and I'll be honest, I wasn't really sure what to expect. The thought of living with 12 other people you don't know that well for a month is daunting in itself. And when you throw in how you'll be feeling after working each day and the effects of the sun and heat it can become a bit overwhelming but I can honestly say although I am exhausted it has been one of the best experiences of my life. Seeing the children's faces light up when we go to visit is unlike anything else and seeing the progress made by everyone at the daycare centre, not only physically but their confidence and watching them open up to us has truly been a blessing.  We only have a month to make as much of a difference in these people's lifes as possible and with so much planned I feel confident in our abilities and enthusiasm. And even if I can't meet all my goals, if I leave here having left one person with a positive memory to cherise it will be worth it. I can only hope I am positively affecting these people's lives as much as they are affecting mine.

Big ♥,

PS. If you want to hear exactly what I've been doing each day then have a look over on my Instagram (@VousSouriez) where I have been doing daily updates 

Monday, 14 July 2014

MUA Shimmer Kisses Bronzer

MUA Shimmer Kisses Bronzer* in Shimmer Kiss £3 - Superdrug |

I'll admit when this first fell onto my doorstep I didn't really think much of it. I'm not one to really use shimmery products and the four individual shades didn't really excite me. So when I was looking for a highlighter in a hurry the other day finding this was a bit of a disappointment... but then I swirled all the colours together!

The subtle peachy shade this creates (on the far right) is right up my street and looks great when my skin needs a bit of a perk up. The shimmery white shade is also handy for popping in the inner corners of my eyes when I'm out on the go. (No need to chuck in a full eye shadow kit!)The chunky packaging isn't to everyone's taste and although it makes it harder to fit in my make-up bag it does mean I stand less of a chance of breaking it! But with it only costing £3 it's hardly breaking the bank to have to replace it...

Big ♥,

Sunday, 13 July 2014

101 Things in 1001 Days | #2

So sadly I didn't finish my last attempt at one of these... But it's almost a new year (academically speaking) so I thought I'd make a new one and really start doing all though things I've always wanted to do. I'm in a totally different mind set now and I want to make all of the amazing goals and ideas I've had a reality.

the aim: complete 101 tasks in 1001 days. 

start date: 7th July 2014
finish date: 1st April 2017
number of tasks completed: 3/101

red text = finished with completion date
green text = in progress

1. write a letter to myself to open in 10 years time
2. sleep under the stars
3. complete my degree
4. go vegan for a week
5. go glamping
6. go to hampton court flower show with mum
7. got to the henley regatta
8. go to a spa with mum
9. get a tattoo
10. find and reach my 'happy weight'
11. go skydiving
12. go and see a chelsea match with my dad
13. go to wimbledon
14. milk a cow
15. ride the circle line the whole way round
16. plant a tree
17. expand my vocabulary by 100 words (0/100)
18. sing karaoke in a bar
19. have dinner by candlelight
20. make homemade pasta
21. go skinny dipping
22. kiss in the rain
23. make cake pops
24. grow and cook my own vegetables
25. ride in a hot air balloon

26. learn to skate board
27. ride in a helicopter
28. go to a film premiere
29. do exercise regularly (8/7/14)
30. learn to belly dance
31. do yoga/pilates (7/7/14)
32. see the northern lights
33. travel alone somewhere
34. watch all of the lord of the rings films back to back
35. perform with my brother
36. send a secret in to post secret
37. try epilating
38. spend an afternoon reading in the park
39. learn how to alter clothes
40. go paintballing
41. fast for one day of ramadan
42. visit a food festival
43. leave 10 anonymous post it note messages in borrowed books [0/10]
44. learn to play an impressive sounding piece on the piano
45. create a budget and stick to it
46. drive a car round a motor racing circuit
47. visit an ice bar
48. give 5 'i saw this and thought of you' gifts [0/5]
49. visit 3 uk cities i've neevr been to before [0/3]
50. send someone flowers, just because

51. send 10 people letters, just because [0/10]
52. redesign my blog to make it something i'm really proud of
53. buy a new bed
54. attend a show at london fashion week
55. try absinthe
56. write a list of things that make me unhappy and burn it
57. do a 5k race and run the entire thing (no stopping)
58. learn to pole dance
59. workout with a personal trainer
60. fly first class somewhere
61. create something on a pottery wheel
62. take part in operation beautiful
63. hand in an assignment a week early
64. kiss someone at midnight on new years
65. join a gym/exercise class and actually go (9/7/14)
66. go fruit picking
67. build and light a bonfire
68. leave a bunch of flowers on a strangers gravestone
69. learn how to write my name in chinese
70. see cirque du soleil
71. make a patchwork quilt or cushion
72. cook 10 recipes from pinterest [0/10]
73. take a road trip
74. complete the 30 day shred
75. buy something from a shopping channel

76. learn to knit
77. attend a midnight showing of a movie
78. participate in a protest
79. start a saving plan for my nose
80. be an extra in a movie or tv show
81. make some handmade cards
82. say no to 5 things i don't want to do, but would normally agree to just to make people happy
83. get out of debt
84. attend a future cinema event
85. learn how to use photoshop
86. get eyebrows done professionally
87. attend a taping of a tv show
88. be a zoo keeper for a day
89. learn to drive an automatic car
90. go to glastonbury
91. learn to like/tolerate beer
92. buy a world map to stick up and cover in pins
93. complete my gold duke of edinburgh
94. go to the ballet
95. go to the horse races
96. make a gravity defying cake or a rainbow cake
97. turn my favourite quote into a piece of art
98. go inter-railing
99. do 100 press ups
100. swim with dolphins
101. on day 1001 start a new list with anything I haven't completed and some new goals

like the idea? make one too and link yours below  ♥

*see the original post here*
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