GRIEF IS THE THING WITH TALONS​

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I haven’t written anything in months. The person I loved the most out of every single human on this planet was slowly slipping away, and nothing seemed worth writing about. The thing about getting older is, this starts to happen. I want it to stop.

The thing about grief is, it likes to sneak up behind you and catch you by surprise. Dig it’s sharp, spiky talons into you back as you automatically start dialling that number. It hides in a thousand things scattered around you, a thousand moments where you think ‘oh, I cant wait to tell….’ and remeber you can’t. It hits you again and again and again. Like a fucking tsunami.

I suppose the pain decreases with time, as your brain gets used to this new situation, without the person that has been there for every important moment in your life. My brain has been protecting me from the agony that is never being able to talk to this person again by shutting off the feeling of grief and sadness. It gets caught out though. when I accidentally glance across my room and see their jumper lying on my floor, and think, oh, why is it on my floor? and then I have to remember all over again.

A couple of people close to me have suffered devastating losses too. I imagine us floating in this stormy sea. Clutching on to each other. There are many, many people who haven’t sunk into this sea of grief yet, and they are holding us all up.

For very sad people, we laugh a lot. We laugh and we laugh and we laugh. It helps.

We make horrible, inappropriate jokes at horrible, inappropriate times.

They make us feel better, so we don’t mind.

I feel like people say it gets easier, and I don’t really know yet, because it hasn’t got easier. It get’s harder, because every time something good, or bad happens, I want to tell this person, and he’s not here to tell. I have to face birthdays and Christmas and graduation all without this person standing by my side. If I ever get married or get a job, or have my picture printed in the local paper, I won’t be able to call up my grandad and say, Guess what! and he won’t be able to tell me how proud he is of me, and how much he loves me. And I can recount the thousands of conversations we’ve had like this, in my head, but it’s not the same.

It’s never going to be the same.

But suddenly, I feel ready to talk about it. I’m not the only one who lost someone they loved, and I’m very lucky that I had this person in my life for so long, that they were so old when they died. It wasn’t a tragedy.

In some ways, I am a very different person to the girl who last posted. In many ways, I am the same. I like to think I’m a little bit less afraid of life. A lot braver.

THE CUP THAT CHEERS BUT DOES NOT INEBRIATE

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YES, I’m talking about TEA!!!

The last couple of days have been tough for many people. I believe her. However, I thought that instead of writing about my view on what has occurred, and how enraged/ upset I am, I’d leave that for another day and write about COMFORTING things we can all use to cheer ourselves up.

A cup of tea makes everything slightly better. Even in the worse scenario, having a cup of tea is better than being without one. This writer would like to point out that she DOES NOT condone the making of tea in a microwave, putting milk in a cup of tea in which the tea bag still remains, and pouring milk into a MUG of tea before the making of the tea itself. It is acceptable to pour milk into a cup of tea when the tea is being poured from a pot, however. The best sort of biscuits to have whilst drinking a cup of tea is undeniably chocolate digestives. Custard creams are the overall best biscuit, but the flavour does not complement a sip of tea in quite the same way as a chocolate digestive. Plain digestives are the devil’s work, and rich tea should be reserved for children and idiots.

In the Barrys V Lyons debate (a debate that divides, communities and is probably only understandable if you are from Ireland), Barrys wins, for me, but I see the merits of Lyons. I’m not fussy. If you are in the UK, Yorkshire tea all the way. Like plain digestive biscuits, Tetley tea is the work of the devil. NEVER drink tea in the US. NEVER. They have absolutely NO IDEA what a proper cup of tea is, and should not be let anywhere near a cup of real tea. They can manage herbal teas, and Earl Grey is a safe bet. It might seem strange to drink earl grey as an ordinary tea at first, but it’s definitely doable. I find its perfumed taste better suited to Afternoon tea, and special occasions, but it’s the only real option available.  Every American I have met has believed digestive biscuits to be a sort of laxative.

Herbal teas are what I was raised on. Before they were widely available, my mother used to carry around a selection in her handbag. They don’t have quite the same quantity of cheer an ordinary cup has, but they do still provide an acceptable amount. It is vital that herbal teas are high quality, and that means that if they are not served as loose, they are in a high-quality tea bag, with large chunks of the herbs. They steeping time needs to be strictly adhered to. Java, Pukka, and Lilys tea are brands I recommend. Herbal teas are a great option if you want a caffeine-free tea, The above brands are also perfect for Green tea, which is not caffeine free. If you are a Rooibos tea drinker, Time for tea is the ultimate brand. I think that Rooibos tea has to be my favourite tea. While studying I can go through boxes of it. I try not to drink too many cups of normal tea because I can’t handle the caffeine in the amount of tea I want to drink and also dread tea-stained teeth.

If you are feeling fragile, go make yourself a cup of tea, curl up with a book. If you have far too much uni work to do to allow yourself the pleasure, go make a cup of tea and sit at a desk with a book (a philosophy book in my case). be cheered, without inebriation.

STUDYING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

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Studying when you feel like your soul has been sucked out of your body with a hoover is really, really really hard. Studying when your concentration is -5000 is also really really hard. Watching 15 hours of Million Dollar Listing is sometimes all the productivity a brain can manage when you are mentally or physically in survival mode.

I am a firm believer that if watching TV all day is making your existence bearable, until your serotonin levels get their shit together, GO FOR IT. But sometimes, this just is not possible and you HAVE to get that essay in/ sit that exam/ do your leaving cert. Well, fear not because I have, over the years, found some ways of making this experience bearable.

  1. YOU CAN’T PASS WHAT YOU DO NOT HAND IN. Something on a page is a billion times better than nothing, no matter how appalling it might be. It’s probably better than you think, but even if it isn’t it shows that you are making an effort. Tell your Tutor/ teacher/ institution so they understand and you don’t feel like you are completely alone, call your mum so she can tell you it actually is true, and every time you criticise your ability, repeat the above.
  2. WATER. Being hydrated makes everything a little bit easier and a little bit more pleasant. it also makes me feel productive.
  3. FOREST APP. Stops you using your phone for a length of time of your own choosing. Earn points and grow a tree in developing countries. Use it in your browser as well. It really really helps keep me on track and stops me wasting endless time in a black hole of social media, which makes the whole process a lot faster, and less painful. It does cost money, but I believe there is a UNICEF water version that is free.
  4. THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE. Actually changed my life. There is loads of information about it on the internet so I won’t go into too much detail, but its a system of study that is 25 mins concentration, 5 mins break. Even on really bad days, where I might only get 25 mins done, I actually achieve the same amount as I would if I had worked, unfocused, for an hour. It’s a really manageable chunk of time and can be used for any task (I use it also for tidying!)
  5. SPARK NOTES. It really isn’t necessary to always read the text, especially for the leaving cert or if its ancient. Likewise, loads of people have WordPress blogs about different subjects, often really specific which can be an excellent place to deepen your understanding of a topic.
  6. QUIZLET. I wish I had known about this when I was in school. It’s a website that allows you to make up your own flashcards and then tests you on them. If you study a language or a subject that requires knowledge of definitions, I would 100% check it out. You can even upload PDFs and it makes up tests, or use other peoples.
  7. WHITE NOISE. Sometimes, especially when I am reading a very dense text, music is a major no, but noise around me is distracting also, so I listen to white noise. I don’t think it gives me magic concentration power, but it certainly does something. My favourite is an Arctic icebreaker ship idling in a snowstorm, but having listened to it for 24 hours at this point I feel cabin fever so I need to branch out.
  8. MIND MAPS. You might have tried them already, and they probably aren’t for everybody, but mind maps help me actually figure out what I am thinking. My brain is probably a giant mind map. I use square ruled paper and Staedtler fineliner markers because I find colour coding my different branches really useful- it really helps me separate out my thoughts. Plus, the colours make me feel more productive and cheerful
  9. YOUTUBE. There exists a whole section of the internet filled with videos on studying. Usually, it’s kind of a vlog of a persons study day. I am not quite sure how I found this but watching one before I start work really motivates me. I have no idea why, but it fills me with a productive feeling.
  10. JUST ONE MORE LINE. I have a tendency to become so self-critical of what I am saying I actually can’t write/ work. Just writing ‘one more line’ over and over again is something that I use to change the voice in my head telling me everything that is wrong with the sentence I have just written, or how I don’t understand the sentence I have just read. Even if it isn’t coherent, or perfectly worded, things on a page get marks. Keep ploughing on and get things on the page, and you are going to get through it. The assignment/ reading/ essay/exam WILL end, and you can retreat back to whatever trashy TV you desire.

Have any more tips? Please leave them in the comments! If you use any of these and it actually helps, let me know too!

Untitled.

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I haven’t really had anything to say for a while. But today, I found out that someone I followed on WordPress for years has passed away due to mental health issues.

This person did not receive appropriate and dignified care.

This person is dead because they did not receive appropriate care.

This person was a couple of years older than me and had so much to contribute to this world.

I have been suffering from a fear of speaking out about mental health, because of certain things that were said to me, by somebody.

Claire never let this fear hold her back from telling the truth. Claire was probably the main reason I started this blog because nobody was really talking about the reality of suffering from mental health issues in Ireland that were terrifying and ugly and didn’t have a nice recovery story at the end.

There is a crisis and people are dying and it’s almost like everyone is in denial. There are people working with adults and children in the mental health system that should be nowhere near anyone vulnerable. I know because I have interacted with them. Yes, there are great people too, under enormous pressure. But, unfortunately, it’s not enough. And it just takes one mistake in someone’s care, at the wrong time, and that person is gone forever.

Claire died in a hospital, where she was supposed to be safe and looked after.

Enough.

DO YOU EVEN LIFT BRO??????

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This week, roughly three months after I walked into the weight section of the gym for the first time, awkwardly stood around feeling intimidated in various different places and then left with a 5kg dumbbell to pretend that’s what I came for, I hit my second goal (the first was to be able to bench the barbell) of goal weights in benching, squatting and deadlifting. I am officially a strong bitch.

I decided to write about this a) because I am very very proud, and b) because I’ve noticed a couple of girls doing the same awkward stand. The weight section is a very male-dominated section. It smells like an actual armpit sometimes. There is usually a ratio of 10 guys to every girl. Some of these guys are lifting the combined weight of my whole family (of six) without breaking much of a sweat. It is loud, there is grunting, and the always present fear that someone will tell you what your doing is wrong (has never happened).

The day I forced myself to feel supremely uncomfortable and completely out of place to actually use the weight section, was one of the important decisions I have made (not actually joking). The endorphin rush it gives me makes me feel high. My self-confidence (which has always been in the gutter) has risen to possibly head high. The most miraculous thing for me is that I am no longer obsessive about what my body looks like. Yes, being on medication, and having the contraceptive implant and possibly changes in diet have changed my body. My stomach is not flat. It gets quite bloated during the day. I genetically have thick thighs. I genetically do not carry weight on my arms.  Due to weight lifting, I have dropped three to four clothes sizes, but I feel like it is a nice bonus rather than a goal reached.  I actually haven’t lost much weight, but I think the fact that I have gone from being able to squat only my bodyweight to squatting 45 kg for four reps means I have gained some muscle.

I haven’t really been properly committing to going to the gym as regularly as I want to be. I have also been eating a lot of processed foods, and high fat and sugar foods that really do not agree with my body (hence the bloating). The whole reason I got into lifting was through watching youtube videos of girls who lift. It is incredibly inspiring to see the transformations that they have gone through. It always seems to be a reflection though, because I guess who wants to post a video of them before a gymshark sponsorship is imminent?

I suppose I have no self- preservation instinct because that’s what I am going to do. From this week on, I’m going to film my fitness journey, as it is happening. From the actual, almost beginning.  If I, a person who spends longer in the dark watching Netflix than a modern day Gollum can do it, so can you.

Don’t forget to follow & like this post to feed my need for validation!

STRESS

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I want to scream because I am so FUCKING stressed it is physically manifesting myself in a sharp pain in my tonsils. I also had the terrible luck to feel some weird heart palpitations while sitting on the train next to a woman reading a newspaper article entitled ‘why all chest pain is serious’.

I hate being open about how I feel but January- April are the hardest months for me because I see no good reason to live through them (in Ireland it’s cold, wet, grey and miserable) (in uni it’s exam season) and this year I have no money to go away for the summer which is the only thing that gets me through the above.

The stress of upcoming exams and multiple essay deadlines bring out the worst in me. Surprisingly, library gremlin me is not the worst in me. And although I turn in to Usher 4’s resident sociopath/ bridge troll this me is not that bad. This me does not do it alone because I have my best friends beside me,  ready to bring me to brunch if I start to actually lose the complete run of myself.

The worst me is the perfectionist, obsessive me. Ever try to write not one, but THREE essays of 2,500 words each when the voice in your head is telling you that every single word you write is not good enough and you need to do better, but actually there is no point because you never achieve anything anyway?

It’s really, really SHIT.

And it makes writing even more time consuming and even more difficult. To the point where I am so mentally and physically exhausted that I end up having to take naps every two to three hours.

I can’t even enjoy watching Netflix or reading because I feel guilty for taking time off when I have done so little work. I end up just half watching Youtube videos, half reading notes.

It’s gotten to the point where I am imaging how much better random YouTubers would write my essays, which is actually mad.

I AM NOT EVEN IN MY FINAL YEAR YET.

ya gals going to have to learn how to do something about this before I actually enter a stressful, deadline-filled year.

 

NEW YEAR RESPAWN

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The New Year. The magical moment in time you get to kill your old self off and respawn, but hotter, more intelligent, richer and stronger. Maybe this is the year you make you millions, or lose 20% of your body fat and gain only muscle. If, and only if you spend forty quid a week on protein shakes and supplements, you will magically transform into your best self, a self that’s completely mentally sound, surrounded by important friends, never looks ugly in the morning and never, ever says stupid things you regret later.

If you are single, this is the year you love yourself so much the handsome, wealthy, completely compatible partner falls into your life. Someone who never stores, or says mean things when they are hungry/stressed/drunk, and always buys you the perfect gift. If you have a partner anything that is mildly irritating or not perfect, like the way they leave wet towels on the bed or don’t notice the washing up, will vanish.

If only you work just a little bit harder, buy just a couple more things, think a little more positively, realise success is a mindset, be a little more PERFECT, then all this can be yours. It’s really just because you are not trying hard enough that you wake up with puffy eyes, and eat too much Chinese and walk out of bathrooms with your dress tucked into your tights.

This is the year I work really hard and everyone loves me and I get sponsored by multi-million dollar companies and reach 300,000 followers on Instagram and look like I have a vscco filter over me, but permanently and in real life. And suddenly I will start getting firsts in college and I will be famous enough to release my own line of Korean sheet masks with MY FACE printed on them because everyone will want to be me.

I will never feel lonely, when my phone glows on my face late at night, in a dark room, while I scroll through pictures of other people who have what I will have when I try harder. My phone won’t be an iPhone 4, because I will be able to afford a new one, and it will probably be the iPhone x and I will have two of them.  And my pictures will be the ones other lonely, sad girls scroll through when they should be asleep and I will be drinking champagne, at a party, surrounded by admirers and purchasing my first home, a small, 200,000 square foot penthouse in central London, or possibly even somewhere boujee in LA, funded entirely by these people buying Fit Tea with my affiliate link. And they will never even know I actually call it shit tea and refused to even have it close to my lips in a post. The brand lets me have it in my hands because they know its shit tea, too.

I won’t spend days lying in bed, feeling ‘low’ because I will be traveling to Bali to take a course in healing yoga, and I wot be on any meds and I won’t ever be sad because its all due to how I have learned to attract negative energy or possibly the fact my diet contains grains but don’t worry! You too will be able to change your life just like I did with my online coaching course/ ebook. Just make sure you can pay for it! I will be accepting pay pal, but unfortunately will not be able to offer refunds at this time. Not even if my recipe books leaves you with rickets because your body is so malnourished and my online coaching puts you in a psych ward because I am not a medical professional.

I will talk about my past because having a past makes money, and people want to know there is a slim chance of achieving what I achieve. Maybe I can advocate for mental health while keeping my size 00, 5’8 body by living in a constant calorie deficit and maybe doing speed but oh wait, I forgot, I don’t NEED to do that because I think myself thin I am happy I am happy I am happy.

Like video game character, brutally peppered with bullets in a fake WW2 battle, I rise out of the dust. But better.