My Mental Health

I’m quite nervous to write this, even though I shouldn’t be.

So this week is Mental Health Awareness week, something which is just so important. As a result, I thought I should talk about my mental health. 

I should say that I do not have a diagnosed mental health illness or anything like that; I very much appreciate the difference between myself and someone who has depression, or OCD, or panic attacks. However: it is vital for us to think of mental health as exactly like physical health. For example, a lot of people, at sometime in their life, suffer from an illness such as cancer or similar; these are serious and obviously require medical help. Compare this to mental health illnesses – it is exactly the same and I strongly believe that it should be treated with the same level of seriousness and respect.

But this is not what I’m focusing on. Think about your general physical health. For the majority of people, normally it is reasonably good. We all have bad days, though. Everyone suffers from the odd cold or sniffle or sore throat from time to time. Sometimes it’s not serious enough to disturb our day, but we might struggle through school or uni or work. Sometimes it can be serious enough to warrant a day off, or several, to give our bodies time to rest and to recover. Sometimes it is seasonal, for example many people, including myself, suffer from hay fever only during the summer months. Sometimes we get up in the morning and find ourselves saying to the people around us “I just feel rubbish today.” And that’s okay. Well, of course it’s okay, as we obviously cannot help being ill.

What we as a society need to understand is that mental health is not only relative to physical health, it is more or less exactly the same, and should be treated as such. Mental health is defined as ‘a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.’ so you can have both good and bad mental health. So why is it not as acceptable to say “I just feel rubbish today”, and be referring to our mental health? 

Recently, I’ve had lots of poor mental health days. It partly stems from exam stress, but it also stems from nothing at all, becuase it is perfectly normal to have bad days. Sometimes it is frustrating to not know why you are sad or anxious or stressed or feeling any other emotion, and I think this is what I have struggled with most over the past couple of years, but this is only natural, as natural as having a cold. And just as a cold quickly passes, I need people to know that the sadness will pass in time. Things will get better.

This stigma around the whole topic of mental health needs to be lifted. Young people need to be better educated on the topic of mental health, and this is why. To everyone who is suffering from a mental illness: you are amazing. You are strong. You are valued, and so is your mental health. But to everyone else: It IS okay not to be okay (and yes, I am quoting Jessie J lyrics!) Take care of yourself, particularly now that we are fast the start of exam season. Keep check of your mental health. If you’re having a bad day, let me tell you that it is completely and uttterly normal, but take action. If it is revision that is stressing you out, take a ‘mental health day’. Exams are very important but your health, and that is both mental and physical, should take priority. Do something for yourself. Read your favourite book. Watch an episode of your favourite tv show, maybe something that makes you laugh (I highly recommend Parks and Recreation!😉) Have a nice, relaxing bath. Eat some chocolate! Have an early night, as sleep is incredibly important. Listen to your favourite music. Do some mindfulness, there are so many apps to help you here which I find so useful! Talk to someone about how you’re feeling, a parent, a friend, anyone you trust. If you feel uncomfortable about doing that, write your feelings down. My journal has proven invaluable to me recently. 

Do whatever you need to do. But please know that you are not alone, and remember that even if you don’t suffer from a mental illness, it doesn’t mean your mental health is not important.

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #EndTheStigma ❤

#BloggersSecretSanta – Elm

So for my Bloggers Secret Santa, I got Elm:

If you are reading this, hi! Merry Christmas! I hope you’re having a wonderful day full of happiness and lovely things, and I hope this can add something to your day.

I wasn’t familiar with your blog before I got you in the Secret Santa, but after stalking your blog a little bit (oops, sorry!) you are already one of my favourites, and I truly mean that.

I just love your writing style, it really is so warm and kind; with every blog post, I feel like I’m having a conversation with a friend and they are just telling me about how they are. It’s so refreshing because I can tell that you’re being yourself when you write a blog post, which I absolutely love! 

One of the small touches you have added to your blog is a ‘who’s who’ page and I think that this is so lovely because I personally feel, as a reader, like you are letting me into your life. That very small touch does go a long way, and also I think it’s really interesting to read about all the people who are significant in your life. It might be something I consider adding into my blog in the future!

My impressions of you from reading your blog posts (which are, by the way, incredibly interesting, not to mention funny): you are a very open and honest person; open and honest about many things but most importantly, yourself. This is such a great quality to have and I really wish I could be more like you in that respect. I can tell that you just love your blog and that you love writing for it. Your dedication is insane; sometimes I lose motivation for blogging but it’s clear you never do, I really admire your passion for your hobby.

Another thing I have noticed, and what I think is the most striking aspect of your personality from your posts, is that you are a truly, truly remarkable person. I mean that with all my heart. Yes, you have a disability, and you’re very open about it in your writing, but you don’t let that define you or how you are perceived in the slightest, and that is so inspiring to me. Also in your writing, you don’t try to pretend to be someone you’re not. For example, not every blog post is a positive one, but that’s okay. I’ve already used this word but it’s refreshing to see as I can relate to some of what you’re saying. Everyone is human, everyone has both high points and low points, and I feel that your blog is an accurate portrayal of what it is to be human. As humans, sometimes we’re happy, sometimes we’re not. And that’s okay. And that is why I have quickly fallen in love with your blog: I enjoy finding out about your life, but I also guarantee that every single person could find at least one post that they can relate to, and where they can understand where you are coming from.

You seem like such a genuine, lovely, warm, hilarious and kind person, and I’d love it if we could talk in the future (if I haven’t made myself seem very creepy/weird by stalking your blog, oops!) Again, I hope you have a very merry Christmas today, and a very happy new year. I really hope this has put a smile on your face!

Blogmas Day 7 – Festive Things and A Scary Experience

Me again!

Sorry I haven’t put up a blog post in a couple of days, it’s partly been because I haven’t done anything worth writing about, and partly because I haven’t been in a very good place/haven’t had the motivation. But I’m back now! So today…

I spent today, as well as yesterday, completing our welsh baccalaureate community project thing, where we basically taught a lesson to groups of year 7s and year 8s, my group taught the topic of peer pressure. It was okay, better than I thought it was going to be, but I’m very glad it’s over.

Today was very Christmassy; I helped to sell candy canes again at lunchtime, and after school I also went to the Christmas Fayre at my old primary school where my mum works. Plus, on the way to dance tonight, I had my first mince pie of the year! I think that I’m finally getting into the Christmas spirit but I’m also getting so anxious about how unprepared and unorganised I am – amongst all my usual worries of course😉

Another thing is that I got 63% in my physics mock, which I think is equivalent to a B. Whether you think this is good or not is subjective I guess, but I’m genuinely so happy with that (although I’m definitely looking to improve further before the January exam) because I’ve always struggled with physics and the result is so much better than I expected it to be. It also makes me feel a lot better after a really disappointing biology result – partly why I haven’t posted in a couple of days.

The worst part of my day was, without a doubt, dance, even though for the most part it was lovely as usual. I don’t want to say too much about this because it’s obviously personal to the individual, but tonight one of the dancers in the group had a fit/seizure in the middle of rehearsal. It actually happened last week as well, but this time we were all in the room when it happened. It was definitely one of the scariest things that I’ve ever experienced; it was so sudden (I swear I was just talking to her a minute before) and I couldn’t believe how violent the seizure was, it’s just something I’ve never before been exposed to. We all turned away after a minute  whilst my dance teacher saw to her, but I could still see her in the mirror. It’s something that I think will always stay with me.

So not the best day. Speak to you all tomorrow x

Blogmas Days 3 and 4 – I haven’t done much!

Me again!

I decided to just write a blog post about today and yesterday combined, and that still doesn’t give me much to say, as I really have done absolutely nothing this weekend. Sorry!

I didn’t work at the charity shop today, as I’m still in the process of recovering from being ill, I still feel pretty meh but much improved. I feel so bad for letting my manager down three weeks in a row now, as for the last two weeks I was revising for mocks. So there wasn’t even anything interesting to talk about there! 

Speaking of mocks, I only have two left – French reading and physics -which are tomorrow, and then they are over, much to my relief. French is okay really but I’m more than ready to absolutely fail physics, it’s by far my worst subject along with biology, I cannot digest the information! 

As for tv related stuff, I’m so happy that Scarlett won I’m a Celeb tonight, she’s so deserving, even though I would have liked Joel to win. I genuinely believe they both have very bright futures though. But also.. SAARA IS IN THE X FACTOR FINAL!!! I still cannot believe it, she’s come such a long way, and I’m indescribably proud of her! I’d love nothing more for her and Matt to be standing there at the end in the final two, and then for Saara to win (which actually seems quite possible) but right now I’m just so happy she’s in the final, no one is more deserving!

Well I’m so sorry, that was incredibly boring and uneventful. I hope you all had a great weekend, and speak to you all tomorrow!

Blogmas Day 2 – Candy Canes and The Best Night Ever

Me again! A more positive blog post today, thankfully!

It didn’t start off too well though, I woke up still very ill with the prospect of two more mock exams. But it wasn’t too bad; sociology actually went so well, the best of my mocks so far, and music was half decent, whilst I think I messed some of it up, the essay question was a dream.

I spent lunchtime selling candy canes which we eventually deliver to a person of their choice (it’s basically the ‘you go Glenn Coco’ scene from Mean Girls) to raise money for our prom and our yearbook. That was fun, and me and my friend agreed that collectively, we would contribute a lot to the money raised, by buying candy canes for ourselves, how sad😉

But tonight. Tonight was just amazing and I struggle to find the exact words to describe it. I went to a Christmas party at my dance studio which was organised wonderfully by a career of one of the members of the disability dance company (which I have been  a part of now for almost a year, that’s insane). So I donned my Christmas jumper (it says ‘Express Your-elf’ by the way):

I could not believe that over 40 people were there, most with a disability whether it is mental or physical, as well as some family members. There were so many people I’d never met before, and when I arrived, some anxiety began to creep up, but then I was absolutely fine, more than that even. I had such a laugh with my amazing friend, whom I would have been lost without tonight; I cringed at his party dancing even though he is in fact a dancer, and we sang our hearts out to what we agreed was the best Christmas song, Fairytale of New York – that has always been my favourite but after tonight, it’ll be forever special to me.

There were times tonight where I stepped back, looked around and wanted to cry with happiness that I’d stumbled across the most warm and inclusive environment I’d ever been in. Dance is my passion and it is how I became involved in this, but I realised that this goes beyond choreography and ‘5,6,7,8’. It is about love and friendship and kindness and resilience and strength and inclusivity and collaboration. This whole experience is something which will stay with me for the rest of my life. 

No one could ever understand how special tonight was. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so content. See you all tomorrow X

P.S. – I’m now listening to my entire Saara playlist on a daily basis. She’s singing All I Want For Christmas is You and a reprise of Chandelier tomorrow! Buzzing x

Blogmas Day 1 – Illness and Exams

Happy December everyone! This is day 1 (of 31, hopefully!) of my new Blogmas series. I will try to put up a new blog post every day of December, in the style of a diary if you like, just updating you on what I’ve been up to that day. I hope you like these blog posts – just warning you that I don’t have the most exciting life at all!

So whilst I wished I could give you a happy and cheery 1st of December post, that isn’t really the case. Whilst I felt very happy to open the first window of my Lindt advent calendar this morning, today has been pretty rubbish. Sorry.

I’ve been so ill all day today, and as I’m writing this, I’m in bed with a blocked nose and a pack of tissues by my side. I’m at the stage where I would just stay off school but my illness has unfortunately coincided with my mock GCSE exams. Today I had three exams, making this the actual worst day ever. I had English Lit in the morning, which I actually feel went much better than expected, followed swiftly (with only a 5 minute break in between) by French listening, which was so so. The positive, and one of the highlights of my day, was that we had a French lesson straight after and I had a full blown discussion with my French teacher about The Missing finale (which was last night and absolutely incredible!). It was great, I actually forgot I was talking to a teacher!

Then I had a Welsh exam in the afternoon, a subject which none of us are really good at to be honest, and that was also much better than expected, so overall quite positive. I went home and did minimal revision due to me feeling like death. I had a chippy tea and comforted myself with my favourite ever episode of Friends, a particularly hilarious episode of Miranda, and I’m a Celeb (so happy that Larry is gone!). I also received a review copy of a book today which I’m super excited to read (I may post my review for a day of Blogmas..)

I have sociology and music exams tomorrow which I’m not looking forward to at all. Can we also pray to the gods that I wake up feeling better, as tomorrow I’m meant to be going to a little Christmas party with the disability dance lot, and I’ve been looking forward to it all week so if I have to miss it I’ll be beyond gutted. Fingers crossed for me! See you all tomorrow X

P.S. – I’m in bed listening to my Saara Aalto playlist and she HAS to win X Factor in order to redeem this shambles of a series (her and Matt for the final two please, although I also love Emily so I don’t know). She is honestly one of the most incredible vocalists and performers I’ve ever heard and seen in my life. No one deserves it more than her!

Equal Pay Day

If you are a working woman, from today until the end of the year you will be effectively working for free. That sounds ridiculous and pay day still falls every month but it’s true, due to the ever present gender pay gap.

Just let that sink in.

The gender pay gap is currently 13.9%. For every £1 a male takes home, a female takes home only 81p. So for the final 50 days of the year, as I said woman are effectively working for free, and they are also effectively working without payment for 1 hour and 39 minutes of each day. Yes, this time last year the pay gap was at 14.5%, so there has been progress, but hold your applause. Do not celebrate this. According to a recent report from the financial consultancy firm Deloitte, at the current rate of progression the pay gap will take almost 53 more years to close.

At this point, it will have been 99 years since the implementation of the Equal Pay Act.

As a young person and a female in today’s society, I simply cannot sit back and let this happen. I will not accept the fact that it will take until I am almost retired and no longer working for me to be paid the same as a man for doing the same job, just because I am a woman. How is this at all fair?

Yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I believe in ‘girl power’, I like the Spice Girls and all that comes with that phrase. But in no way do I hold the view that woman should be given better treatment because they are superior to men. This is far from the truth. I remember that when I was younger I owned a book (which was pink, by the way) called ‘Girls Are Best’. At that age, I may have been swept up in a revolution and absolutely believed that girls were the better sex – in every single way. It’s not at all correct but the book itself was empowering, one thing which stuck with me was ‘it’s called his-tory, why can’t it be her-story?’ It was campaigning for equality and that is what I’m talking about here.

In the UK, we currently have a female prime minister. I’m not very familiar with Theresa May’s career, but I assume that as a woman, in particular a woman within politics which has generally been considerably male dominant, she could empathise with the issue at hand. This is why I am calling on Theresa May, or anyone who has the authority to do something about this, to make a change. I’m not stupid – I know the system is more complicated than that, but is it really that complicated? I know that we can’t click our fingers and woman are instantly paid the same as men, but when it comes down to it, surely the issue is not complex and up for debate? It’s equality.

I have talked about equal pay, and I feel very strongly about it. However, what worries me more than the pay itself is the reason why the gender pay gap still exists. I write essays in sociology about how the Equal Pay Act of 1970 has changed the world of work for women but have things really changed that much in the 46 years since then? We may say our attitudes have changed but our society is still stuck in the age old stereotype that men are the superior sex and women are just not quite as capable as them. Maybe this is why we still have the pay gap. Maybe people still believe that it is justified.

In the future, I want a career, and I am prepared to work for it. But I demand to begin on a level playing field. I cannot accept the fact that I will be paid a lesser amount of money than a man doing the same job as me, simply because of my gender.

Because my gender does not define my worth and I will not let it do so. I am so proud to be a girl but I am also a human being and human rights include equality, and this is still not apparent in today’s society.

I want to tell my children or grandchildren stories about when there used to be a gender pay gap and I want then to laugh at ‘silly old mummy or grandma and her funny made up stories’ because equal pay has been around for so long, there is no reason for them to think that there was ever any other way of living. At this rate of progression, it will most likely not happen and that makes me terribly sad.

Some incredibly brave, strong women fought hard for Equal Pay over 46 years ago now. It is an absolute embarrassment that today, they have still not truly been given it. I don’t want ‘progress’, I want equality.