Realistic tips to survive freshers in one, relatively healthy piece.

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Credit: redbrick.com

Freshers is an vital initiation to uni life that will leave you with blurred memories, an empty wallet and a cracker of a hangover.

Mixing with new people, drinking more than ever and eating greasy takeaways will leave your immune system battered and with the classic ‘freshers flu’ that is bloody miserable, especially when you don’t have your family to make a fuss of you.

You’ll hear the phrase ‘watch out for freshers’ 13’ thrown around a lot because over the first few months of uni most freshers gain about 13 pounds (almost a stone). It’s so much more important to get involved and enjoy than obsess about your weight but sudden weight gain can effect your self esteem, energy levels and mental health so it’s worth being aware of.

Here I have put together a few bits of realistic and down to earth advice to help you survive freshers in one, relatively healthy piece:

1: Water

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credit: weneedfun.com

Might sound obvious, but its so important that you drink plenty of water, especially as alcohol dehydrates you (and so do the hungover cups of tea). Buy a water bottle and keep it with you all the time, in your bag or on your bedside table. I find that way I’m way more likely to drink the 2 litres you should be having a day.

Water helps with concentration, energy, alertness and prevent headaches as well as being helping your body get rid of toxins from alcohol. It makes your skin clearer and softer, and your hair and nails shinier. Really, water is key and it’s FREE.

Before going to bed after a night out try and drink a pint of water. Might seem boring but you will thank me in the morning when you practically don’t have a hangover! Also, if you are feeling a little too sloshed in the club ask for a glass of water and wait 30 mins before your next drink. It is so worth it instead of having to bail out early and miss the rest of the night out when you vomit on the dance floor.

2. Alcohol

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threesheetsblog

You will probably be drunk for most of freshers. It’s part of uni, and I am certainly not one to judge after my first year! Some tips: for pre-drinks, when you are playing drinking games don’t make your drinks too strong. If you are drinking spirits and you play with a shot of alcohol and the rest mixer, you will still be drunk by the time you go out and enjoy. But trust me, me and many of my friends have got dressed up for pre-drinks, started playing games and then ended up tucked in to bed at 11 with a sick bucket. Take it easy and you will last the night.

Don’t mix!!! Lying on my bedroom floor in second year with only my house mates hamster for company I felt so sick that I genuinely cried (and missed the whole house party). I got so excited it was my birthday that I started with prosecco, had a couple g and ts, accepted some shots from well meaning friends, had a cheeky can of beer in the garden. If you mix alcohol I promise you will feel rubbish. It makes you nauseous and will hurt your tummy, so you can’t actually enjoy yourself. So, choose a drink and stick to it. (Maybe don’t start with prosecco cos you’ll be skint by the end of the night)

3. Food

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credit: swanseabiz

Takeaways are expensive and absolutely packed with grease, additives and chemicals that will make you feel bloated, tired and cranky. I promise it’s worth cooking a simple meal in 30 minutes, as you have to wait for just that long for it to arrive. You will save money and you will feel 10 times better.

To save time you can get boil in the bag rice. Boil it for a few minutes then chuck it into a frying pan with frozen peas and sweetcorn, maybe an egg (just crack it in a mix) and you’ve got egg fried rice (a splash of soy sauce will finish it off). Frozen vege won’t go off and you can keep it in the freezer for emergencies, cooking in a few minutes and a life saver for your tum.

I also think smoothies are a god send. You can get a smoothie maker for 20 quid. Then for breaky shove some almond milk (much healthier than cow milk as doesn’t have hormones and contains more nutrients) into the blender with 2 fruits of your choice and some spinach (you cant taste it and it gives you a huge health boost.) If you like you can add a tablespoon of coconut oil and chia seeds or flax seeds. You have breakfast in 5 minutes and you’ve already had 3 of your 5 a day. You can even cut up fruit ready for the smoothie and freeze in portions so it doesn’t go off and it’ll give you an extra refreshing cold drink. My fav fruits for smoothies are berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries).

You can get other ideas for simple student recipes here

NB: when you digest white pasta it essentially has the same chemical properties as white sugar. It really doesn’t do anything for you. So, have it a couple times a week if you like but pasta and pesto every day (the classic student diet) will leave you feeling drained and won’t provide any nutrients to help you avoid freshers flu.

4. Drugs

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credit: sluderlaw.com

I’m not going to tell you not to take drugs. That is your decision. But I just want to give you a couple of words of advice if you are set on taking them.

Firstly, never ever accept drugs from people on a night out that you don’t know, whether you are paying or they offer for free. In the lighter case they are selling you a paracetamol for 10 quid, don’t be a mug. More seriously, that lovely guy or gal could be offering you something more horrible and you could be robbed or worse.

If you are sure you want to take drugs ask a trusted friend if they know of a reliable source. Let a friend know that you are taking drugs that night so they can keep an eye on you and don’t go straight in taking a lot. If you really want to, take a very small amount to see how it affects you before proceeding.

Case study: my house mates in first year made hash brownies. They ate one. Didn’t really feel anything, so that had another. Still nothing! So, one chap ate a third.

When he finally felt the effects he was on the bus and started sweating profusely absolutely certain that there was a terrorist on the bus that wanted to blow them up, and he had to get escorted home and put into bed as he wailed, certain he was under attack.  This is an unusual example and weed is usually a chill out drug that actually has various health benefits (it’s not perfect but I would say it’s less harmful than smoking a cigarette) But seriously, take it slow.

5. Exercise

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credit: pexels

If you haven’t done much exercise before I know it can seem intimidating. But if you can push yourself to do a little exercise it is fantastic for your mental health, reducing anxiety and depression (really important if you are going through your first time away from friends and family).

It is also a really good way to meet new people and can be really fun. When I went to uni I wasn’t sporty at ALL. I joined the uni boxing society and ended up training various times a week. I had been so nervous to try it out, sure people would laugh at me but some of my closest friends ended up being boxers, we’d socialise together and I felt my body become stronger that I thought possible! Amazing for self-esteem.

Check out the different sports available with your uni. If not you could join a gym and work out a few times a week. If that’s really not your thing even choosing to walk 30 mins to uni instead of getting the bus could genuinely improve your quality of life so much (and you can save some money on the fare!)

I hope you found this article helpful, good luck with everything!

If you are interested you can check out my article that gives you advice if you are feeling unhappy when you start uni, and what you can do to change things. Check it out here.

Mansplaining, womansplaining, or just plain rude?

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credit: Kaye Blegvad

‘When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression’

I first heard that quote a couple of weeks ago and it really spoke to me. You see, I am a person who thinks a lot about women’s rights and I am occasionally met with quite hostile responses by some men.

I write about why we need feminism, the structural nature of violence against women, and I ask why only 12% of women think they are attractive (irish times) (and why we are made to believe our ‘beauty’ should even matter!)

I recently read Solnit’s ‘Men explain things to me’ in which she spoke about the concept (that she coined herself) – mansplaining.

Solnit was telling a gentleman about a book she had recently written and he smirked at her smugly ‘did you know a very important book was written on that exact same subject recently’

Yes. It had. It was her bloody book you patronising moron.

You know what hurts the most? That Solnit hesitated. An educated, experienced woman who had spent years researching for a book and she didn’t immediately realise this trollop would be talking about her book. She thought ‘oh god how did I miss that a similar book has just come out.’

You see us women are very good at doubting ourselves. In Jess Phillips’ fantastic book called ‘One women’s truth about speaking the truth’ she explained that a woman wouldn’t feel qualified enough to apply for a job even if she met more than 90% of the requirements. Men on the other hand characteristically apply for jobs where they don’t even meet 50% of the criteria.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Confidence is key and there’s no shame in being bold. But there is a reason why women are less likely to put themselves forward, and it comes from the structural ‘shushing’ and underestimation that we receive from a minority of our male peers, which hammers in the ideas that we are ‘frauds’ in the work place and don’t feel we have a right to ask for more, or even want it.

‘Mansplaining’ is a big part of this. Lily Rothman of The Atlantic defines it as “explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman”

Mansplaining isn’t the same as being patronising or rude. It is called ‘mansplaining’ because it is specifically gender-related, ‘rooted in a sexist assumption that a man will normally be more knowledgeable than a woman.’

The patronizing manner of mansplaining crushes any further dialogue.

This phenomenon is something that millions upon millions of women can identify with. It is something that women experience daily. We are constantly faced with the decision of biting our tongues to avoid conflict, or to speak up against the routine silencing of women’s knowledge, which is literally going on all the time.

It doesn’t matter about our age, wealth, career, experiences: women get mansplained to all the time. It is about gender and we have experienced it for thousands of years.

Recently, someone commented on one of my blogs, complaining I was tarring all men with an unfair brush and said he experienced ‘womensplaining’ all the time at work. I’m sorry someone has been rude to him, and it really could be linked to gender, but I would argue that the term ‘womensplaining’ is laughable, and insulting to the millions of women going through mansplaining.

A woman can explain things and she can do it patronisingly. A women can be annoying and rude. A woman can be a pain in the arse.

You know what else? A man can be kind. He can be supportive, uplifting and inspirational. The vast majority of men are wonderful people. But the difference is that the small minority of men who do mansplain and underestimate women, are having a huge impact on so many people through their behaviour.

How many women have avoided using their voice because they knew they’d be laughed at and silenced? It chills me to think.

I believe that ‘womansplaining’ is an inappropriate term that goes to console men who don’t like hearing criticism and shoot back a counter word as a protective shield. Ironically, the men who are less able to accept the idea that women are disadvantaged in society, are the exact people that need to understand the reality.

Us women naturally question ourselves and doubt ourselves more than men, because society has taught us to do exactly that. A little boy will be told he’s showing leadership qualities when a little girl acting the same way will be called bossy.

A woman demanding justice in government is more likely to be called hysterical where a man would be called passionate. There is a systematic ‘shushing’ of women’s voices that needs to be addressed. It’s not just about a person being a bit rude, it’s about illegitimating women’s knowledge and structural disempowerment.

According to the Independent, ‘mansplaining’ can lead to men earning more than women and getting more promotions, and that’s something that all reasonable people want to avoid. (Independent)

The gender pay gap continues to thrive and that isn’t ok. This is largely because society has taught men to ‘overestimate their intelligence to a much greater extent than women” (American Psychological Organization)

I’m not blaming modern men, society has developed to silence women over thousands of years and many men are up to fight this just as much as women and LGBT+ people.

I am saying it’s not ok.

High status politicians and business people continue to be majority men, women continue to take on the majority of caring roles at the expense of their career and free time. We need to acknowledge that there is so much progress still to make, and that mansplaining is one of many means used to disempower and undermine women.

If this article has interested you, why not read:

Modern Slavery; an interview with a diamond dealer and the truth about your tech

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credit: weddingbee.com

I’ve always said if someone proposes to me with a diamond ring then the answer would have to be no. It would show that the person doesn’t know me at all.

2 reasons:

  1. For me, a diamond represents capitalism at its worse. Diamonds are bought relatively cheaply from the mines, and it isn’t until they are cut that they are worth so much. And where do diamonds get cut? Generally, in the West. So, as is classic with capitalist markets, the people working to get the product are paid next to nothing, the West buys it cheap then sells it for huge profit, making a few wealthy people in the West richer and richer whilst people in the mines have a daily struggle to survive.
  2. Then comes the slavery. Many of us have seen ‘Blood Diamond,’ a fiction film which explores the world of the diamond mines in Sierra Leone. It deals with very real and very serious issues. Blood diamond workers, also known as conflict diamonds workers, are slaves who work in diamond mines in areas which are controlled by rebel forces, who are against the legitimate government. The profits made from selling the diamonds goes towards weaponry and furthering their agenda of war, therefore leading to wide spread bloodshed. What’s more the conditions for slaves in mines are horrific. Many are kidnapped and tortured, beaten, raped, drugged and murdered. Many children are enslaved to dig for diamonds, particularly in African countries such as Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the Republic of Congo. According to the World Bank and the United Nations approximately 3 million people have died in relation to conflict diamond mining. To me it seems gross that a man, woman or child has bled, sweat and despaired over the sparkly gem that so many of treasure on our finger. Seems weird that it’s a symbol for love and commitment as the classic engagement ring.

So. I was surprised on a recent flight from Brussels to Madrid when I got chatting to the man next to me. We spoke about society, environment and politics and we had had similar views on a lot of things. He was educated and seemed kind and concerned about equality. After a while, he mentioned that he is a gemmologist, and sources diamonds for European companies..

‘Oh.’ I said. ‘How do you find a place for your social and political beliefs in an industry that’s so heavily linked to slavery and the abuse of the developing world by the west?’

Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but I do like to jump straight in…

Juan took it in his stride and smiled thoughtfully. ‘I guess they never made a Hollywood film about your iPhone?’

He had a point.

You see iPhones (all smartphones and laptops in fact) contain a mineral called coltan. Meanwhile, in the last 20 years, 7 million people have died in a civil war in the democratic republic of Congo. Today, members of rebel forces as well as corrupt government soldiers enslave children in the Congo to mine minerals essential to smartphones and other technology. (Huffington Post)

With Apple, it doesn’t end there. Once the raw materials reach Asia to be processed in factories the workers’ rights are just as disgusting. Apple uses a Foxconn plant, a factory which has been described as a ‘labour camp’ by local media. Here, so many workers were trying to commit suicide by jumping out of windows, that the factory responded by putting up suicide nets to catch them as they fell. Instead of reducing working hours that are 3 times the working limit or raising pitiful wages. Workers often sleep on factory floors and never get to see the sky. But we very rarely criticise Apple for that disgusting treatment of workers, even though the CEO Tim Cook has received $570 million worth of stocks in a single year alone. (Huffington Post)(Telegraph)

Then there’s your clothes. How many were made in sweat shops? I for one don’t know where all my clothes have come from. The convenience of cheap clothes off the high street is hugely integrated into my lifestyle.

Next? Food. King prawns are hugely linked to slavery. A recent guardian investigation found that supermarkets such as Tesco, Walmart, Carrefour and Costco has sourced Cheap Thai ‘king’ prawns which have been supplied by the work of violent slave labour. (Guardian)

Juan pointed out that though he condemned any slavery within the diamond industry, and elsewhere, that I was unable to criticise his choice to work in the diamond industry whilst I owned an iPhone and ate many common types of food, and shopped in many high street stores. Sadly, slavery is as integrated into human lifestyle now than it has ever been.

In fact, slaves are cheaper now than they have ever been. We can work this out by comparing the price of a slave to the price of land, grain and livestock throughout human history. Slavery is illegal in every country in the world but there are currently more slaves right now than there were in the entire history of the transatlantic slavery. (BBC) This can be through human trafficking and sex slavery, domestic labour, and people who are tricked into ‘jobs’ in farms or factories and then are not paid or permitted to leave.

Do you ever get your car cleaned at a hand car wash? Did you wonder why it costs only 4 pounds when you have up to 5 people simultaneously working on your car? And they’re mostly foreign, right? Passports stolen, without papers or with family threatened back home, they may not have another option.

Juan explained to me that in his professional opinion the diamond industry has evolved positively in recent years. With the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia all the biggest companies agreed to monitor and create policy for the rough diamond buying process. They now evaluate possible human rights violations to try and ensure companies aren’t involved in illegal activity such as money laundering. He told me that around 95% of diamond dealers and companies now completely refuse to work with blood diamonds. If they do, they are subject to strict international policy. This process is called the Kimberley process and you can read more about it here.

He thinks that the industry has a bad name due to Hollywood blockbusters like Blood Diamond and although it is never acceptable, there are so many industries in the modern world that violate human, animal and environmental rights. Industries such as the pharmaceutical, food, wood, mineral and textile industries have all got a lot to answer for. Juan tries to work within the second-hand market which gives him more peace of mind, and when he buys and sells within this market he feels he is contributing to create new jewels, meaning more jobs and good business for colleagues.

The conversation gave me a lot to think about, as I have always been so very anti-diamond, whilst checking my emails on an iPhone and popping to high street shops to cheaply update my wardrobe. Clearly, slavery is deeply integrated into modern society and we must do more to try and tackle this. Will it come down to governments tightening restrictions for big companies, or consumer choices forcing unethical companies out of business?

I suspect a balance between the two must be found. If you would like to know how many slaves are involved with your life you can do a quiz on slavery footprint, where you fill in some information about things your diet/lifestyle and it calculates how many slaves are working for you. Check it out here.

Currently, I’m feeling overwhelmed by all this information! If you have any ideas on how to reduce the slavery involved in your lifestyle, please write a comment on Facebook or below!

The masculinity of violence

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photo credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/685462005754608020/

I just popped into the bank to put some money into an account, and it ended up being a bit of a weird and uncomfortable experience. I breathed a sigh of relief as I left the hot July streets of Madrid and felt the cool whir of the air-conditioning touch my sweaty little face. I walked up to the machine.

Hey’ an angry voice said a couple of inches from my ear. I looked up in surprise to see a man of about 40 years old staring directly into my face. ‘I was here first.’

‘Oh,’ I said, genuinely surprised. ‘I’m sorry I didn’t see you’

He scoffed and elbowed me aside to get the machine.

Hey’ said a less angry and more bewildered voice, also male. It was another customer in the bank. ‘There is another machine right beside her.’

Clearly, I hadn’t pushed in after all. Man 1 mumbled something inaudible with his back to me. I repeated, ‘there’s another machine just there.’ Man 1 looked me up and down and raised his eyebrows, to show me he didn’t give a toss whether or not there was another machine, and he started using the machine he had pushed me away from. I stood there for a couple of minutes in surprise before I walked to the second machine.

Man 2 opened his mouth to say something but I shook my head at him, and smiled to show it didn’t matter. I didn’t want to ‘cause a scene’ as us women are so often accused of doing when a man exerts power over us.

Man 2 and I left the bank at the same time and he looked quite upset. ‘He was just a dickhead.’

‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘but I don’t think that would have happened if I wasn’t a girl.’

This is a small example of a man who belittled me and made me feel I had to back down, even though the tension was caused completely by him and was not my fault. He created a problem, and then made me feel that I had to keep quiet in order to keep things running smoothly.

But you know what? Billions of women are biting their tongues and smiling at a billion stupid little things every day, and it really does get quite tedious.

What’s the big deal? Perhaps you might ask. This guy was rude, but has it really got anything to do with gender?

I would argue that yes, it absolutely does. You see, I am reading a book at the moment called ‘Men Explain Things to Me,’ by Rebecca Solnit and it is really helping me see the big picture when these small aggressive acts take place.

In her chapter called ‘The longest war’ she explains the masculinity of violence, something which no one really seems to be talking about. For fear of being called a feminazi bra burner? Perhaps. Solnit explains that there are many lovely and kind men who are allies to women. For example, Man 2 could see that something wasn’t right and he spoke up and tried to help me.

However, there is a very clear and serious link between masculinity and violence against women that needs to be addressed. Solnit explains that there is ‘a pattern of violence against women that’s broad and deep and horrific and incessantly overlooked’ and that ‘violence doesn’t have a race, class or religion, but it does have a gender.’

She explains that nearly all the perpetrators of violent crimes are men. That doesn’t mean that all men are violent. Most aren’t and many also suffer violence, though it is generally at the hands of other men. Of course, women also can be violent but the statistics do tell us that in the cases where women are involved in violence, particularly that against men, the consequences are not as grave and it rarely leads to serious injury or death. What’s more the majority of men who are killed by their female spouses are actually done so in self-defence

As Rebecca explains violence is all about exercising control over another person, showing them that you are more powerful than them. So, it is a serious human rights issue that a woman is beaten by her husband every 9 SECONDS, in America alone. Of the 2 million women that are beaten every year, 145,000 require overnight hospitalisation.

Violence is a form of control, and murder is carried out by men a shocking 90% of the time.

Like I explained, not all men are violent. Most men are kind are good and allies to women. However, it cannot be denied that violence is intrinsically linked to masculinity and if we don’t address this head on I don’t see how we can ever make progress towards a safer world for all people.

It does matter that the man in the bank pushed me away from the machine, because he was taking my power away. And, like society has taught me to do, I bit my tongue and smiled to avoid conflict, rather than recognising what he was really doing to me. He wasn’t really being rude in the bank, he was really showing me that he believed he had the right to control me and hold power over me.

Solnit explains how this kind of toxic idea that has been created in our society leads to the same death toll as for 9/11 every 3 years. But the women being murdered by men is a war on terror that we aren’t having. What’s more, this is a trap that not only disempowers women, but also traps men. We cannot really be free until we address this structural power dynamic which is effecting us all.

Thank you so much for reading. I really recommend reading the book ‘Men explains things to me,’ which was very enlightening, accessible and short. You can get it on amazon here

You turned me inside out

 

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Many different men have claimed to love me,
Caressed my curls and held my body close.
But you’re the first of them to ever know me,
Sifted through a thousand fakes to find me.

Look, I wasn’t good before I met you,
Nor bad, just lost and acting all the time.
You turned me inside-out so hard and fast
The webs of my lies caught the light.

You turned me inside out and back to front.
I coughed up a sea of hurt and deceit,
Choked on filth too sticky to drink
Like an ex-smoker chokes up thick tar.

You know I have broken hearts before,
Watched them hold on tight as they begged for more.
I was so very lost before
You found me on that dark dance floor.

What should I say?! How to support a loved one with depression.

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What should I say? How should I say it? Should I say anything?!

Dealing with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety is bloody hard work. It’s physically and emotionally draining, and we often feel like we are alone in the world and no one understands us. It is also really tricky for our friends and family to know how best to support us when we are having a hard time. Quite often we have family and friends who love us and really want to help, but who feel powerless to do so (or accidentally say something that can make us feel even worse!)

I really struggled with managing depression as I grew up, and it was particularly hard on my mum. My parents are fabulous people who love my socks off, but I understand that it is so difficult for our loved ones to know how to support us too. My mum felt a real sense of guilt related to my depression. After all I was just a little girl, a child. She felt it was her responsibility to keep me happy and healthy so when I started to struggle with mental health the powerlessness was difficult for her to cope with. (She did a great job by the way, long live mum)

Obviously each individual is completely different and will express their feelings in different ways, but I just wanted to put together a few pieces of advice for anyone who is struggling to support a loved one with mental health. Off we go!

  1. Don’t lose sight of yourself

Firstly, don’t let somebody else’s problems drag you down. I myself have struggled with mental health, but I have also found myself in the position where by trying to support somebody I have let myself get dragged down in the misery pit with them. Offer support, let them know that you’re on hand, but don’t promote a relationship of dependency where you feel you are trapped and overwhelmed what is being asked of you.

Signs to look out for: If somebody threatens to hurt themselves if you don’t see them/call them, GET OUT. This is an abusive relationship/friendship and as much as you care for someone you can never allow someone to manipulate or abuse you. It is important to be there for your loved ones but you can’t make yourself poorly or unhappy by trying too hard to help them. At the end of the day, a person with mental health issues needs to want to help themselves. You can drive them to appointments, make a cup of tea on a sad day… but you should not sacrifice your own well-being in a misguided attempt to FIX somebody. (Secret: you’ll never win that game) They can only ‘fix’ themselves, through medical support and their own internal journey.

  1. Listen, don’t preach

More than anything, someone who is hurting just wants to know they aren’t alone. Questions you can ask that give a loved one the chance to express themselves include:

How are you feeling?

Is there anything I can do to help?

What do you need in order move forward?

These are helpful questions, and by explaining our feelings to you, we will begin to understand them better ourselves. What we don’t need to hear is.

‘Come on cheer up’

‘Try to think about something else’

At least for me, if someone tries to change the subject or avoid discussing how I feel, I feel silenced. It can be a very lonely feeling and more than anything when I’m sad I just want to know I have an ally.

‘I hear you and I’m sorry that you are sad’ is a perfect and valid response, you don’t have to offer an answer (in fact PLEASE DON’T) just let them know you love them, and you are sorry that it hurts.

  1. Give reassurance

As I mentioned before, depression is a really lonely feeling. We tend to feel very alone in the world and can’t see our own worth or believe that the people close to us really find value in us. Do not underestimate the power of some verbal reassurance.

‘I love you’

‘You mean so much to me.’

‘You are kind.’

Stating simple and reassuring facts is important. It might seem obvious and that we already know, but when we are feeling worthless it’s really hard to believe that we matter to someone, and hearing it is an important step to healing.

  1. Know the warning signs

Finally, know the warning signs for suicide. Did you know that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK? (Guardian) It’s really important to look out for signs of mental health problems in friends, colleagues and acquaintances. This NHS article briefly talks you through the warning signs to look out for. It suggests that ‘if you notice any of these warning signs in a friend, relative or loved one, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.’ If you find that prospect overwhelming, you could offer to go with them to a GP appointment or direct them to a support group like The Samaritans.

Please advise anyone who really believes they are at risk of suicide to call 999 (UK), where the handlers are trained to respond appropriately.

If you are feeling depressed and are interested in taking medication, why not check out my blog which explains mental health meds.

Thank you and I hope you found this helpful!

From Infidelity to a Greasy Takeaway: How to Cope With Regret

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When I was at university, I had a lovely boyfriend. He was kind and clever, and we had a blast. One day, I cheated on him.

During several weeks of moping around in my dressing gown, refusing to eat and sobbing, I thought I could never learn to like myself again. I had always been judgmental of infidelity, and had a ‘no excuses’ regard for people who’d cheat on their partners. I no longer regret what I did, because it taught me some of the most important things that I’ve learned on the roller-coaster that no-one told us growing up would be.

  1. Appreciate the lessons learned

Like I explained above, being unfaithful to my boyfriend was the ‘worst’ thing I’ve ever done. I broke a social convention big time, and I hurt someone that I care about. But you know what? I will never do it again. The experience has shown me that it is never worth it, and I’m glad I learned it when I was 20 and not when I’m married and have kids. Clearly, I needed to learn that temptation isn’t worth the consequences, and better sooner, in a uni relationship, than later. Besides, the fact it happened clearly shows that I wasn’t happy in the relationship. Looking back, as kind my ex boyfriend is I don’t think we were very well suited. I had been unhappy for a while but in complete denial because I was scared of acknowledging it, and then in the end it all kind of exploded. I’m glad that it happened because it forced us to confront the problems in our relationship and sit down and talk about whether we really wanted to be together… it turned out that the answer was no and it meant we could stop wasting each other’s time and focus on ourselves.

Finally, it taught me not to judge other people. Previously I had been quite up on my high horse about some things… including infidelity. I really looked down on people who had cheated on others. But you know what? To hell with that. I have no right to judge others and being in the same position I’d previously looked down on just showed me that you never know the details of anyone’s situation or feelings, and that looking down on others is ugly and small.

  1. Put it into perspective

My second piece of advice when you’re feeling regretful of something is to put it into perspective. Close your eyes, take a breath and ask yourself ‘Am I going to care about this in 10 years’ time?’ If the answer is no, let it go right now and save yourself unnecessary pain that won’t even be a concern to you later on in life.

  1. Give yourself a break

Have a bit of self-understanding! It’s very unlikely you purposefully intended to harm anyone, we all make mistakes. Sometimes, things go wrong. Be glad you feel bad, it’s your body’s natural way of adapting and changing to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. The most anxious and regretful people that I know are in their teens and early twenties… sometimes you do just have to put things down to youth. Sadly, there is no ‘how to life’ manual that comes flying out with the placenta after you’re born. We are all just doing our best to navigate the world on the experiences that each of us have had. You don’t get to judge or look down on anyone, and that includes yourself.

Recently I was crying my eyes out to my parents. I was really struggling to come to terms with the fact I’d upset one of my friends by being a bit thoughtless and I couldn’t stop punishing myself. Mum and Dad gave me cracking advice as ever:

Mum: ‘Oh Rach, I was unbearable to be around until I was at least 25’
Dad: ‘I’m pretty sure I was an obnoxious twat until I was 30.’

You see?! We are just learning, and that’s ok.

  1. Get it together

My final bit of advice is to take a nice deep breath, and get your shit together. If you don’t reign in your overreaction to something that probably wont matter in the grand scheme of things, you are going to spiral into a bad place.

Example. I’m a vegetarian. A few months ago I got absolutely sloshed on overpriced, sickly sweet cocktails. Where did I end up? With a 6 pack of chicken nuggets in McDonalds. I woke up the next day feeling RUBBISH. My tummy was cramping because I wasn’t used to meat, I had a ratty hangover and I felt like such an idiot for letting a greasy Mcdonalds get in between me and my lifestyle choices. But I had another choice to make. I could despair and say, ‘OH WOE IS ME I’M SO BAD, I SHOULD JUST GIVE UP AND EAT MEAT ALL THE TIME.’ Or I could say ‘oops, my bad, let’s get back on track.’

Life is so so short and you  can’t waste your precious time beating yourself up or hurting for the mistakes you make. The past is over, and the future is uncertain. Cringe aside, you only have the present to live and enjoy. Please don’t ruin the most important thing you have by giving yourself a hard time.