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Turning up or turning in?

I’m 25 next month and honestly, I don’t quite know how to feel about it. After all, I spent my 23rd birthday in Venice and as soon as it turned midnight I grew very emotional and actually started to cry! It was a weird feeling, like I knew I should’ve been happy but, I kind of wasn’t…

I mean, is there a rule that states you must be happy on your birthday? We’re quick to say “Happy Birthday!” but when you think about it, are we really that happy about getting older or are we just happy that we have a day revolved around us, basking in lots of love and attention, and for the most part, receiving gifts?

Thinking about turning 25, I feel slightly bothered. It’s the first age that I’ve felt like I actually need to have my shit together. It’s the first age where it feels like there’s some sort of pressures attached to it. I should have my own place, I should have my own family and I should have a certain number of savings in my account or should I?

When I was younger, I thought I would’ve had all of the above by now, hell even married! But I couldn’t be further from any of those things and before now, it didn’t seem like much of an issue, but as 25 approaches, it feels like there’s a time bomb ready to start ticking when the clock strikes 12 on October 14th.

What’s even more alarming is that I generally feel myself getting old. I see rave/club events on my Instagram feed that usually, the younger me would be real excited to go too, that don’t even phase me. I no longer get the ‘FOMO’ feeling when I wake up fresh on a Sunday and watch Snapchat videos of nights out in raves and bars.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like a good bar, but I don’t feel like I NEED to be out as opposed to wanting to. Not to mention, if you’ve had a heavy night, the 3 day hangovers that has gradually crept up in recent years. When did partying more or less every weekend turn into every couple of months?

I feel the twenty to thirty age gap is a unusual head space to be in, especially if you’re like me and you have friends that are on complete different ends of the spectrum. I have friends that are pregnant or have babies, and friends that are moving out or saving for mortgages. Then I also have friends that are planning year long travelling trips with settling down being the furthest thing on their mind.

In our Snapchat group chat last week, we had a divided discussion when my friend explained that she went to the club and quickly wanted to retreat back home and snuggle with her boyfriend. My other friend instantly disagreed and expressed all the things that she loved about going out, from the getting ready process, to pre-drinking to finally being in the club and having a great time.

Now, I remember the last few times I’ve been out. I stood there watching everyone else have fun around me and wanting nothing more than to be in bed, in some comfy PJ’s, a cup of tea, cheeky joint and a movie. I felt guilty for not enjoying myself as much as I should and for being a party pooper but to be honest, my back and feet hurt, I was tired and the most important part is I just wasn’t having fun…

So I guess, how do we know when it’s time for us to pack away the dancing shoes and pull out the baby boots?

Teenaged me thought that I’d be 100% sure when the time was right, without feeling like I’ve rushed or didn’t think things through enough but I’ve started to realise that there’s actually no right way to tell if you’re ready or not, other than the activities that used to fill us with joy that we slowly draw back from…

I went to Thorpe Park last week and I had a blast, it was such a good day, but I can just remember having the worst headache from my head banging against the headrest on the rollercoasters. I’ve been to plenty of theme parks when I was younger and that was never something that I’d recalled until now as the thrill and adrenaline always took over any other thought, then it dawned on me, I’m getting older and just like theme parks, a lot of things that used to be fun, just aren’t anymore.

Does that mean that I’m ready to move on with the next chapter of my life?

Now the truth is, a lot has changed for us females over the years. We’re no longer expected to stay at home and watch the baby, we have more opportunities now, we work more and travel more, we want do and see more things and I’m extremely proud to be born into an generation where these things are normal.

It’s liberating to have friends that make their OWN money moves by aspiring to have successful careers and making their mark in society. We all know that it used to be a man’s world but slowly women have really stepped up and gained the recognition that they deserve and so with that in mind it makes it even harder for us women to either chose to be the working woman with no time to settle down or find that special someone and start a family.

The notion of having a house and my own little family makes me really happy, it does. But I LOVE to travel and always have. I have many places to tick off my bucket list and actually, I’d rather not have to do that by struggling to collapse an uncooperating buggy or lug around a changing kit that is hurting my shoulder.

I want to go on holiday to have a holiday and not have to worry about getting off the lounger every five minutes to entertain my child.

I want to go to a restaurant to eat and not have glaring eyes at me because my kid is screaming and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to shut them up.

I want to wear skimpy, low and minimal clothing without being judged for what I wear because I’m a mom.

I want to go to a festival and stay awake for 2 days knowing that I don’t have to come home at a certain time due to childcare.

I want to go on late night car journeys with my boyfriend and not have to worry about bringing the baby or not.

More than anything, I want people to feel that even without a house/baby/marriage, you have been successful so far in adult-hood and shouldn’t feel pressured into doing these things because you think that times running out, or it’s the right thing to do because you’ve reached a certain age.

As 25 is fast advancing, it’s only right I share a few things that bring me comfort in reaching this age:

  1. I have a new job upskill coming at the end of this year which will put me on an amazing salary.
  2. I am more sure of myself and who I am, more than I ever have been.
  3. I feel SO safe, comfortable and grounded in my relationship with Sam more than any of my past relationships, he is my best friend and boyfriend all in one.
  4. The friends that are in my life are here for a reason and the ones that aren’t well, lessons learnt.

This is your life, live it how you want to without any rules or exceptions! Be the best parent you can be or travel to the ends of the earth, none of these are the right way to do things, just your way.

None of us have our shit together and that’s the truth! Life is an everyday series of making mistakes, figuring things out and learning from those in a way that works best for you.

Looking back at my 24 years on this planet, I have achieved so much and I’m honestly so proud of the woman writing this blog today.

So smile, stop being so hard on yourself and embrace your twenties, because they won’t be here forever!

Thank you universe for your abundant blessings and lessons as always x

Libra season is here, and to all my Libra brothers and sisters out there, Happy Birthday, I love you all!

El x

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No, i’m not OK.

What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor and more unashamed conversation.

Glen Close

You may or may not be aware that this month, September is the month of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, with world Suicide Prevention Day being on Thursday 10th September.

The aim of this month, is to spread awareness, share resources and stories in a bid to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic.

I contemplated on the idea of writing this blog as I know that for the majority of people, suicide (well mental health alone) can be considered quite a daunting subject to touch upon, but then when speaking with a friend, she reinforced the idea, that the fact that society thinks mental health is “too much” of a topic to talk about, is more than likely the reason as to why suicide rates are still so high, which gives me even more ammunition to speak about this topic.

A few weeks ago, I had a close friend of mine come to me and tell me that they were feeling suicidal and contemplated taking their own life. In that moment the only way to explain how I was feeling was helpless. Whilst I was so grateful that they had opened up and shared the burden of how they was feeling, I didn’t want to say anything that was going to patronize them or make them feel even worse then they already did, and sure, there is certain things that you definitely shouldn’t say but ultimately there is no right or wrong way to talk about suicidal feelings, starting the conversation is what’s important.

It’s fair to say that we all know someone (yourself included) that has struggled with their mental health at some point in their life, whether that be a diagnosed mental health condition, a generalized daily struggle or through uncontrollable life events that make us feel mentally NOT OK.

It can be at any time, for any reason but the fact of the matter is because it’s not physically seen, it has been embedded into society that it’s not as important enough to talk about. IT IS. It’s just as, if not more important than your physical health.

Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. In simpler terms, it affects how we think, feel and act. Not to mention, it also helps determine how we make choices, communicate with others and handle stress.

It annoys me that there is still a lot of people that believe, that the people that really suffer with their mental health are in one category and the people that don’t (or manage to handle it well enough to feel like they don’t) are in another category! OK granted, some people do have more severe conditions that are more apparent to us that need to be looked at individually, however when it comes down to it, EVERY human being on this earth has a mental health that needs to be looked after.

We ALL have a mental state that fluctuates between mental well-being and mental illness that can change daily, weekly or when something in our life triggers it and NO ONE can try and tell you, how you feel.

It seems as though, the world at large applies so much unnecessary pressure to themselves in the hope to feel good everyday, when in reality it would be weird if this was the case. Just take a second to think about what you’re asking of yourself…

Life is hard and you believe that every single day you’re supposed to wake up and feel good? Impossible. Please understand that this a big ask and this sort of pressure, without everything else that life throws at us, is not needed.

The chances of you waking up every single day and feeling good is highly unlikely but that’s OK, like your physical health sometimes you can wake up and feel a little weak, tender or mentally exhausted and it’s perfectly normal when someone asks, to turn around and say “NO, i’m not OK”.

Yes, their facial expression may be a little shocked and they’ll probably hesitate on what to say next because the truth is, a lot of people don’t like to appear vulnerable and so they won’t expect you to come out with that, but that’s the stigma that we need to start breaking.

“No one notices when the strong friend stops being strong”.

As well as being aware of our own mental health and taking measures to look after it, we need to start being aware of other’s people’s mental health too, now more than ever. Honestly, i know that this is much easier said than done because like I stated earlier, it’s so easy to assume that your friends are OK because we can see how good their life looks from the surface and how happy they seem and so we don’t tend to pry too much.

It’s only when they’ve physically broken down to us, posted sad quotes on social media or sent us huge paragraphs that we tend to start acknowledging that something is up and even then, the way that we approach things needs to be explored differently.

Let’s run a narrative:

Your friend loses their job and starts to get behind with bills, they worry that they will lose their home, car and not find work for months. All these issues weigh heavy on their heart and push them into a spiral of negative thoughts which makes them fall into mild depression, which begins to make them feel as though there is nothing else to live for. You lost your job two weeks before and you tell your friend to “cheer up” because it’s “only a job” and “things aren’t that bad”, because when it happened to you, you “got over it”

First of all, you’re being a major a hole, but secondly you need to understand that although the same situation has happened to you, it certainly does not mean that mentally you’re going to process it the same. Like physical health, no two types are identical. So NO ONE, not your girlfriend, boyfriend, mom or brother can tell you, how you’re feeling, if you’re feeling it. You get it?

Society is the worst for this on men. Telling them to “man up” or “grow some balls” when they express how they’re feeling. Women idolize wanting a “strong manly man” that can “take care of us” and as soon as they show any sort of real emotion we deem them as weak and incapable. Do you know how damaging that is?

Did you know that 75% of all people that die by suicide are male?

The friend that came and opened up to me was a man and the respect that I had for him after speaking to me, grew tenfold. I felt so moved that he felt comfortable enough to open up to me about something that society projects so unspeakable to talk about, for men especially.

Guys, let’s STOP belittling people (men especially) for how they’re feeling and let’s start really listening and exploring as to why they are feeling the way that they do. Let’s provide a comfortable safe space for them to open up and provide them with the tools that bring them back to a place where they feel safe and let themselves be loved.

A few of the things that I find useful, that help maintain a positive mental health include:

  1. Be Conscious – Pay attention to the stress, anxiety and uncomfortable thoughts in your head. Stop ignoring the signs in the hope that “you’ll get past it”. When you do finally acknowledge how you’re feeling, stop beating yourself up about it and put healthy measures in place. Reach out to your friend, meditate, block the person causing you aggro, miss your gym class booked for the day, do WHATEVER you NEED to do, for YOU.
  2. Honest Conversations – People find it hard to open up when it comes to their mental health for the fear of feeling vulnerable, ashamed or being judged. Understand that your mental health is important and the people with your best interests at heart, care about you. Start to seek help without judgement or stigma and have an open, heartfelt conversation about your mental health.
  3. Listen to understand, not to reply – More often than not we ask our friends “How are you” and we expect them to say “I’m good thanks” as an automatic response. But when they say they’re not good, it can throw us off guard. Start to dig deeper and listen to what they’re telling you, don’t gloss over what they’re saying with a quick response because you feel you need to reply. They’ve told you they’re not ok for a reason so listen and reply accordingly. This in turn, will make them feel listened to, valued and hopefully offer more comfort for them to open when needed.
  4. Social Media Consumption – This is not real life, we can get too consumed with apps such as Instagram and Snapchat reminding us of the cars we don’t drive or the bags we don’t have, which build up negative emotions and starts to impact our mental health – If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the online world, take a break or switch it off.

FACT – While half of individuals who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition, research shows that 90% experienced symptoms.

As it is Suicide Prevention Awareness month, I would encourage you all to PLEASE help promote awareness by sharing images and posts on your social media accounts. Use #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree.

Whilst I know writing this blog is not going to help build huge confidence in those that suffer with a mental health condition to speak out, I at least hope that me writing this helps someone to become more conscious of their own MH and of those around them.

Let’s normalize the topic of MH and suicide and help break the stigma!

Take care of yourselves and others.

E x

If you are struggling at the moment or know of anyone that is struggling, please I encourage you to either speak to family members, friends, ME – Insta DM (Link at the top of the page) or contact the following charities:

Unless it says otherwise, they’re open 24 hours a day, every day.

Samaritans – For everyone
Call 116 123 (Free from your phone)
Email jo@samaritans.org

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight
Visit the webchat page

Papyrus – For people under 35
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 9am to 10pm, weekends and bank holidays 2pm to 10pm
Text 07860 039967
Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Childline – For children and young people under 19
Call 0800 1111 – The number will not show up on your phone bill

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Losing Friends and Finding Love in Lock-Down.

Life as we know it, completely changed earlier this year due to a Pandemic that none of us could predict. The world came to a sudden halt and outside life was no more. Like most people I guess, “lock down” really put a lot of things into perspective for me and forced me to come to terms with thoughts that usually out of the house are quite controllable. We were asked to stop what we are doing and to become conscious within our present environments, thus teaching us to be grateful for what we already have. Wearing face masks to get outside essentials, zoom meetings to our managers/colleagues and seeing hand drawn rainbow pictures for the NHS quickly became the norm.

At first the concept of staying in your home for 3 weeks seemed like an awful idea or the best thing since sliced bread depending in which category you fell into and as this got extended due to a very confused and conflicted Bozza, inside life for me started to feel like hell to pay.

I work taking calls for Citizens’ Advice and whilst the idea of waking up late and not having to commute to work filled me with joy, the whole idea of WFH began to feel really draining. Months on, I was moodier than I had ever been, my anxiety had gotten a lot worse than usual and I had used up all of my annual leave just so i didn’t have to take calls. PLUS my up-skill for my new role at work had been pushed back and I honest to god hated the guts of Rona and everything it had caused.

Things quickly started to go from bad to worse when I had a fall out with one of the closest people to me and we couldn’t see a way past the situation. Everything felt so hard to deal with and I started to believe that “Lock Down” was one of the worst things to of happened to me (I’m sure as hell I wasn’t the only person thinking this). I mean, ok yeah I still had a job unlike the majority of people either being made furloughed (a word i’d never knew existed since lock down) or redundant, but that didn’t mean that made WFH any easier.

Friendship breakups are the worst, even more so than actual breakups I think, you have all those thoughts about what if your mutual friends stop speaking to you or what if you see them out and it’s really awkward? I think we take friendships for granted, especially in this day and age, we become so comfortable and dependant in them that we think they are always going to be there and so i didn’t really know much of who i was outside of this friendship, i felt like i’d have to re-create myself and friendship circles from scratch and that thought was exhausting.

At the beginning of lock down, I reignited a flame with someone from my past,(through socials of course) we had really hit it off before but due to working abroad we hadn’t had the chance to persue anything. The rate at which things were progressing between us was fast and I wasn’t here it for it initially due to not long coming out of a nearly two year relationship which did absolutely nothing for me, but little did i know this fast moving (i don’t know what you’d call it) would turn out to be one of the best relationships i had ever been in.

Although my head space wasn’t entirely back to it’s usual positive and chirpy self, my now boyfriend did everything he could to try and speed up the recovery (along with my other friends – Amanda, Leah, Tanya – thank you). I felt like I didn’t really have much of a friendship group per say as I had friends from different social settings but I noticed that as i became more vulnerable with my friends about the situation they welcomed me with open arms.

I started to get back to my usual self through things like my friend’s coming round for Netflix and chill nights’ (visa versa) and I started being invited out for nights out such as cocktail nights or to house parties which I usually never would. Within a few weeks, the fearful thought of not having anyone to confide in or go out to eat with started to completely diminish with this new found love and respect that me and my friends now had for each other.

The past few month’s of lock down have been an absolute whirlwind and I started it in a really negative way which has now transcended into me seeing nothing but the good in things. I used break down in the afternoons because i thought i was a bad person for letting this friendship go but now I’ve learnt that it needed to happen. It needed to happen in order for me to be grateful for the friendships that i already have and was taking for granted, it needed to happen for me to learn that setting boundaries are OK and whatever the outcome will be, will be. It needed to happen for me to understand how loved and valued i am already from people and in turn start to love myself more which has only helped to strengthen my relationship with my boyfriend. It needed to happen for me to grow as a person and understand that life happens so embrace the unpredictable. I think that’s definitely something we can all learn from corona if i’m completely honest.

I guess what i’m trying to summarise as a message in this blog is that things happen sometimes that are beyond your control and as much as you try to fight against it, it’s going to happen and there is nothing you can do about it.

If lock down has taught me anything it’s:

  • Boundaries are important – I recently learnt this from talking to one of my friends Jess. She highlighted how important it was for me to set boundaries for myself and for other people. If no boundaries are set then people are going to continue to get away with things that you have made them so comfortable in doing. Boundaries set basic guidelines on how you want to be treated and if people can’t appreciate those boundaries, then i’m sorry but the long and short of it is, they don’t appreciate you. Now take that as you will but sooner or later, it will hit you in the face like a big wet fish so if you don’t already have some, set them. If you are naturally a people pleaser like myself then this is something that you may struggle with but in order to keep relationships, healthy, happy and respectful mutually there may be some boundaries you need to put in place.
  • Have an open heart and open mind – One door closes and another door opens, just because you can’t see what’s behind the other door right now doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to like it. No one likes heading into the unknown and sometimes life is going to push us into a path that doesn’t look as clear as we’d like but that’s OK. Have a open mind that things are going to be alright regardless and open your heart to trust that the universe is closing the door behind you for a reason and guiding you to one that’s going to fit your purpose slightly more.
  • Be Grateful for what you already have – If i didn’t have my other friends around me whilst I was feeling how I was feeling then i can’t even imagine how lonely i’d have felt. You don’t realise how therapeutic a girls’ night in is, just to vent, reminisce on old times and laugh until your belly hurts over a glass of Malibu Strawberry Spritz. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I took my other friends for granted before but as i sit and write this, i’m understanding how much they actually mean to me and i’m going to do everything i can to show them this moving forward. SHOW the people that you have around you already how appreciated they are and how grateful you are to have them in your life.
  • Love yourself first, ALWAYS I’ve always wondered, why when someone loves me the way i’m supposed to be loved, why do i get the sudden urge to run for the hills? Why do i feel like I don’t deserve the love that i’m being offered? I pondered on this thought for a while and it started to annoy me so I did some research on it and it turns out, it all starts with the relationship that we have with ourselves. I know it sounds insane, but hear me out… If you don’t love yourself enough, when someone else comes along and shows you how to love, the concept feels foreign and strange and you don’t quite believe that all that love can be for you. So when we don’t love ourselves enough, we do the opposite, we settle for things that we shouldn’t because we don’t love ourselves enough to know ANY better.

The love that the world has shown to each other because of quarantine has been beautiful, from the sharing of new online businesses whether that be sprinkle cake or weed cake related, to the weekly claps for the carers on a Thursday evening at 8pm. This pandemic has been totally surreal but there is also some beauty in what it’s created. I just hope that this love is something that we can continue on with and give to one another when times aren’t so hard too. We’ve shown that we can do it, so why does it only have to be done in times of hardship? Why isn’t this love something that we can give to one another all the time?

Now when I look back in hindsight and think how this Pandemic has been for me, in my honest opinion, if i take everything into consideration in terms of, finding love (through a relationship and friendships), setting boundaries and learning how valued I am in my already existing relationships, lock down for me truly was a blessing. An unexpected, very peculiar blessing, but a blessing nonetheless.

E x