Posted in depression, Health and Wellbeing, hopeless, mental health, Suicide, Uncategorized

Darkness Into Light

Image result for darkness into light

 

Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about an amazing event that I and thousands of others are taking part in on the 12th of May 2018. Darkness Into Light is a fundraising walk that takes place every year to promote suicide awareness and raise much needed funds for Pieta House, a charity that provides free supports for people who are contemplating suicide, have attempted suicide or have engaged in self harm. If you would like more information about this wonderful organisation or the Darkness Into Light events being held around the world, I will leave the links to their websites below.

Pieta House: http://www.pieta.ie/

Darkness Into Light: https://dil.pieta.ie/

If you are familiar with my blog you will know that I am very passionate about promoting mental health awareness, so it is a privilege to be able to participate in such

Image result for together in darknessan amazing event. To put things in perspective, Ireland is currently ranked 4th in the world for suicide rates among young men aged 18-24 (stopsuicide.ie), and Galway City was the 7th highest ranked area  in Ireland for female suicides between 2014-2016 (Central Statistics Office). In 2016 alone, there were 399 confirmed suicides in Ireland. Those were 399 human lives tragically cut short. 399 families who lost someone they loved. 399 people who the world didn’t get to help. 399 futures lost. For most of us, even 1 is too many.

Darkness Into Light is one of the small ways we can help to raise awareness, show our support and try to save lives. If you would like to help too but can’t take part in the walk yourself, I would appreciate it if you could sponsor my walk by donating whatever you can to Pieta House via the link here. Every cent counts and your donation will go towards saving lives and preventing suicide.

Image result for suicide
Image from beyondblue.org

Depression, self harm and suicide can affect anyone at anytime. It could be yourself, a friend, a colleague or even a family member, so please do what you can to keep services like Pieta House available to those who need it.

If you suffer from depression or have thought about harming yourself, I have left some links below with information that can help you. You are not alone and help is out there. Please reach out to services like Pieta House, they care about you and will do everything they can to help you.

 

Thank you in advance to everyone who donates, takes part, or just generally supports services like Pieta House. Slowly, we are all working towards a world without suicide.

I hope you all enjoy your bank holiday weekend! Please don’t forget to donate by following the link below!

Link to my Darkness Into Light fundraising page: 

https://dil2018.pieta.ie/fundraisers/valeriemckay/galway-city

 

Services if you are contemplating suicide or self harm:

http://www.pieta.ie/contact-us

https://www.childline.ie/

http://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/need-help-now/

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://www.crisistextline.org/

 

References:

http://www.nsrf.ie/statistics/suicide/

http://www.stopsuicide.ie/suicide-myths-and-facts/

Advertisements
Posted in depression, Health and Wellbeing, Needs, Uncategorized

8 Things I Do To Spring Clean My Body

Image result for healthy body healthy mind quote
Image from pintrest.com

No, I’m not talking about intensely scrubbing myself down in the shower!

I’m talking about a few things I have been doing recently to help boost my body internally. I always find that I feel a lot better within myself when I’m eating food that is good for me and treating my body well. I very much believe in the saying ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ so I wanted to share some of the things I do to try and have a healthy lifestyle. I hope you enjoy!

1. Try to get at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.

I’m not a believer in crash diets or juice cleanses. I think that just eating the right foods is enough to lose weight (if that is your aim) or to help your body to stay healthy. A big part of this is making sure you get your daily intake of fruit and veg. It is easier than you think to sneak in fruit and vegetables to your daily routine. I love taking chopped carrot and cucumber to work as a snack to munch on during my tea break. Recently though I have been making an easy, healthy breakfast smoothie that I have fallen in love with. I’ll leave the recipe below!

Breakfast Smoothie Recipe (1 serving)

1 large ripe banana

1 ripe pear

1 generous handful of spinach (fresh or frozen)

2 teaspoons of hemp protein powder

1-1 1/2 glasses of water

2. Turmeric Shots

If you are like me and get bloated easily, finding something natural to help aid in digestion can make you feel a lot better. I try to start the morning with my anti-bloating immunity shot. This thing packs a punch and is not meant to taste good! If you haven’t tried a turmeric shot before beware that your bowl movements can be affected for the first few days while your body gets used to it. I will leave my recipe for it below but there are loads online. Simply heat the water, add the ingredients and let them blend together. Once cool you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

Turmeric Shot

Image result for turmeric shot
Image from umamigirl.com

1 tablespoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of ginger

1 table spoon of honey

Juice of 1 orange

1/4 of a cup of apple cider vinegar

4 cups of filtered water

 

3. Drinking lots of water

This is one you hear all the time but it really does make you feel better. It helps to clear up my troublesome skin and I’m less hungry because I’m properly hydrated. If you think water tastes too plain try to add some lemon, lime, cucumbers, berries, whatever you like to give your water some added flavor.

4. Cutting out the added sugar

My skin is very reactive to sugar. If I eat too much added sugar I will break out almost immediately, not to mention I will feel sluggish after the sugar high. It is not easy to stay away from added sugar. Alcohol, fizzy drinks, sauces, salad dressings, sweets, yogurts, takeaways, they all have  a lot of hidden sugars in them! Every so often I try to go a full week (or more) with no added sugars just to give my body a bit of a break. Fruit can be a life saver for sugar cravings!

5. Cutting out the caffeine

Image result for caffeine
Image from nutrientsreview.com

I’ve never been a crazy caffeine addict but I do enjoy my two cups of coffee a day and I am a big fan of green tea. When I do my week or two of cutting out added sugar I also cut all caffeine out of my diet. A lot of people don’t realize the amount of caffeine they drink can be harming them, and that is before you take into account extras like whipped cream, sugar and syrups. The equivalent of three cups of coffee is the recommended maximum amount of caffeine you should have per day. If you can’t cut it out, at least try to reduce the amount you consume. Remember, caffeine isn’t just in coffee! It is in regular tea, green tea, energy drinks and a lot of fizzy drinks.

6. Exercise 

This is by far the hardest thing for me. I can be quite lazy and unmotivated to do intense exercise so I at least try to get in a long walk or two during the day. Try not to sit or lie down for longer than an hour. Even if you get up and stretch every hour it will help. Maybe throw in some jumping jacks!

7. Yoga

Image result for yoga
Image from saludmovil.com

This is a new thing I have just started. The type I am doing is more meditative and stretching based which is why I didn’t put it under exercise. It is an hour and a half of pure me time that is also great for my body and mind. I always feel great after it and my body gets a good stretching out which feels amazing afterwards. I also find that I have a good nights sleep after it too!

8. Less stress more sleep!

Stress can harm you in so many ways, mind and body. Personally my anxiety isn’t great in times of stress and my neck, shoulders and lower back become tense and painful. I try my best to stay away from stressful situations or at least try to tackle them as best as I can when they can’t be avoided. Stress often affects our sleep which can put a lot of pressure on our bodies to perform without proper rest. So try to stay away from stress and get your 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Being well rested can make a huge difference!

Image result for stress and sleep
Image from patientslikeme.com

 

So those are some of the things I have been doing to try and keep myself healthy. Most of them are ones you hear all the time so I would be interested in any ideas you have for me to try!

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

-Vifa

Posted in depression, Needs, Psychotherapy

10 Things That Help My Depression

Image from hotelroyalhills.com

 

Hello everyone, I hope you enjoyed your Easter! Sorry I have been absent but I was off work for two weeks and wanted to try and spend the time relaxing.

So we can all agree that depression is the worst but I am always really interested to hear the things that people find helps them cope with it. As much as I find reading studies about the topic and what statistically has been found to help useful, I love hearing the different things the actual people suffering from depression do to help them feel better. Not only does it give me ideas for things to try but it also reminds me that there are things that help and that I will feel better.

So today I thought I would share 10 things that help me with my depression. Hopefully it will give you some things to try, though some of them I’m sure you have heard before and are sick of hearing about!

1. Exercise

Ok, so I know you have probably heard this one a lot. I know when my doctors and therapists have said this in the past I was like ‘Yeah sure it does, you just want me to be healthy and blah blah blah‘ but it honestly does work. It helps you to feel a sense of achievement and releases those happy hormones we so desperately need. When your mood is very low it can be really hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed, never mind getting yourself to the gym or out for a walk. I have gone weeks, even months finding excuses not to exercise when my depression was bad. It helps to start small. Try going for a short walk in the fresh air and work your way up. The more you do the more you will find your motivation return and your mood improve.

2. Clean and Organized Surroundings

Cute childlike drawing of a mother wearing her pinny and doing the hoovering up. Stock Photo - 6748464
Image from 123rf.com

It can be hard to quiet your mind when your surroundings are messy and unorganized. I am a bit of a clean freak and I find that I feel better when my apartment (especially my bedroom) is clean and clutter free. I’m not saying you have to get a toothbrush and scrub every inch of your house, but simply making your bed can make your space feel more organized. The actual task of tidying up can also be a good distraction from negative thoughts and like the exercise, gives you a sense of achievement.

3. A Good Shower/Bath

If I picture myself when my depression is bad, the image I see is of me in bed, in my pajamas, surrounded by takeaway not moving until work forces me to. I feel sweaty and disgusting and hate myself for ordering pizza when I have good food in the fridge. I find a good shower not only re-energizes me, but helps me to “wash away” the depression. I clean myself up, brush my very tangled bed head hair, put on clean clothes and feel ready to try tackle the world again.

4. My Evening Routine 

When I feel anxious or not very happy with myself I do two very simple things in the evening that help to calm me down. I light my lemon and lavender candle and drink chamomile (or any non-caffeinated) tea. I owe this to my Mum who gave me the idea and still tells me to ‘go light your candle and make yourself some sleepy tea (as she calls it)’ when she calls.

5. Calling My Mum

Relaxing drink tea, Cartoon, Drink, Flowers PNG and Vector
Image from pngtree.com

 

When I’m feeling down, sometimes just calling my Mum and hearing her voice makes me feel better. I don’t always tell her I’m feeling down as I don’t want to worry her, but just listening to her talk about her day and the news from where she lives in enough to take my mind off of things.

 

6. Mindfulness

I’m not always in the mood for it but I do find taking 10 minutes out to breathe and relax can help refocus my mind. I do a weekly mindfulness session at work and have the head space app on my phone for when I need it. Any sort of guided meditation can be helpful when trying to quiet out all the negativity in my head.

7. Psychotherapy

So it is no secret that I am a big advocate for psychotherapy. I see my therapist every couple of weeks to talk through whatever I want to talk about in that session. I will say that sometimes, depending on the topic, my depression may worsen afterwards as issues rise to the surface. I believe that sometimes you have to get worse to get better.

8. Medication

This is one thing I wish I didn’t have to do but know that I need to do. I was very reluctant to go on medication as I always thought it would make me numb or turn me into a zombie. I was glad to learn it isn’t like that in the slightest. All it does is help me to level my mood so I can focus on working though my issues as best as I can. It isn’t for everyone but if you are struggling, I suggest talking about your options with your doctor.

9. Being Near Water

Image result for nature
Image from gyfcat.com

Whether it be the beach, a pond or a river, being next to water seems to help me for some reason. I like to listen to the waves, the water hitting the rocks or the movement of water flowing in a river. The sound really soothes me and I always find myself drawn to water when my mood is low. Try reconnecting with nature in some way like going to the beach, walking in the woods or just watching the neighborhood birds.

10. Asking Myself Why I’m Depressed and Accepting My Feelings. 

When I say this I don’t mean saying something like ‘What have you got to be depressed about?‘ or ‘You are being stupid, you have nothing to be sad about‘. I’m talking about trying to find out what triggered your low mood. I gently ask myself ‘What is wrong?’ or ‘Do you know why you feel low right now?’. Sometimes I don’t have an answer and that is ok too. A lot of the time you can’t figure out what made you depressed that day so don’t beat yourself up if you cant work it out. Just accept what you are feeling and let yourself feel it. Even though you don’t want to feel this way, sometimes just accepting yourself and your feelings is enough. Cry if you feel like crying, scream if you feel like screaming. It takes a lot more energy to keep the feeling in than to let it out.

Related image
Image from filtercopy.com

Those are some of the things I do to try and help me cope with my depression. I would be really interested in some of the things you do or someone you know does. It is always good to share ideas!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

-Vifa

Posted in depression, hopeless, Psychotherapy, Relationships, Self-reflection

Needs

Image result for spring
Image from seamensmoving.com

Happy Tuesday everyone! The sun has started shining once more and the temperatures are slowly beginning to rise. I am cautiously optimistic that Spring might finally be showing up!

Today I’m going to do a bit of reflection about something I have learned about myself recently. I would be interested in people’s thoughts about it if you would like to share them. So here it goes….

I was at therapy on Thursday and a topic that comes up a lot whether you are studying some form of therapy, or if you are in therapy yourself, is the idea of ‘needs’. When you think of what you need your mind may jump to the things our body needs to live such as food and water, or maybe you will think of things you want such as love or family or even material things like a house and money. Sometimes it is hard to decipher between a need or a want or to realise that what we want can actually be a need.

Image result for need
Image from doncooper.com

I have come learn that I myself don’t like the term ‘need’ when it comes to my own needs. I care a lot about the needs of others and like to give them what they need, but turn that around and I hate the idea of ‘needing’ something from someone else. I don’t like relying on other people because I have it ingrained into my brain that they will just let me down. It is easy to come to this assumption when you have been hurt or disappointed by others in the past, but it dangerous when this assumption becomes fact to your brain. Asking for help, asking for the things that you need from someone else can become terrifying or just something you think is pointless. It can make you isolated and fearful of forming a relationship with others, not wanting them to get close enough to let you down.

Not only do I not like to ‘need’ things from others, but I also often don’t know what my needs are. My therapist often asks me ‘What do you need right now?’. Nine times out of ten I have no idea. My needs don’t enter my head. I could tell you what my brother needs or my mother or my stepdad, or my friends, but I have no idea what I need, because I don’t see my needs as important. You may think that makes me a selfless person which it doesn’t. I have selfish wants all the time, but not needs.

Not acknowledging my needs is a behavior I have picked up over time. I don’t blame anyone else for this behavior but I can see where it started and how  it continued to the point that I no longer see what I need. I need food, water, money to pay rent and bills, basic things to survive, I can acknowledge those things. Anything else like emotional needs are lost to me for now.

Image result for need
Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs from quora.com

To come to this realisation was quite painful in a way. To acknowledge that I don’t think enough of myself to know what my needs are seems very sad to me. I suppose it gave me a sense of hopelessness. If I do not know what I need to be happy then how can I ever achieve happiness? That is when I found my first and second need. I need to accept I have needs and that they are important. I need to find out what those needs are.

I think it is a good thing to sit down every now and then and ask ourselves what we need. Even if it isn’t obvious straight away, it is a good habit to think about it until we come up with an answer. To fulfill our needs is one of the basic steps we take to achieve happiness, but taking those steps are so important.

I think it will take me a while to dig down into myself and discover what my needs are. I think it will take even longer to accept that I may need other people to help me fulfill some of those needs. For now I am happy that I have taken the first few steps towards figuring it all out.

I guess what I wanted people to take from this week’s blog is that it is ok to need. It is a normal part of life and your needs are just as important as everyone else’s.  It can be hard to see that sometimes but you are much better off acknowledging your needs so you can do something about them, than to hide them away and let them build up. If we are to help the people we care about with their needs then we must make sure we are taking care of ourselves first.

Image result for need
Image from markmanson.net

I hope my little self-reflection gave you a little something to think about over the next few days.

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and take care of yourself!

 

 

-Vifa

 

 

Posted in Psychotherapy

Our Fear of Freedom

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

I hope everyone being affected by the cold, snowy weather is keeping safe today. I am lucky to just be getting a few bouts of snow, enough to have that childlike wonder and excitement, but not enough to have the adult fear of the consequences of the weather.

Image result for snow
Image from Joe.ie

I have been getting back into reading recently and found myself finally picking up Irvin D. Yalom’s Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy. I have been thoroughly enjoying it and have found myself looking into his theories of existential psychotherapy. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, ‘existential psychotherapy is a philosophical method of therapy that operates on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to the individual’s confrontation with the “givens” of existence’ (Yalom 1980). According to Yalom, these “givens” are the inevitability of death, freedom and its attendant responsibility, existential isolation and meaninglessness. 

Image result for love's executioner

That might all sound like complete gibberish to anyone who doesn’t have an interest in psychotherapy, but I wanted to talk about one aspect of it that I find particularly interesting. The fear of freedom and responsibility is something I think should be talked about more in society as many don’t realise that it is a fear that we all share. We may think we crave freedom, and on some level we do, but it is also a huge fear in our lives because of the responsibility that comes with it.

Have you ever noticed how often we start a sentence with ‘I have to’? I have to do the dishes, I have to go to work, I have to take the kids to school. These statements often end with ‘I have no choice’, but that is where we are wrong. We always have a choice. Yes, if we want money to pay bills we can go to work and earn money, but we don’t have to. We make that choice to go to work to earn money and pay our bills. We make the choice to find employment, to rent or buy a home, to have electricity and internet, to have children, to get married. These are all choices. Now you may say that you don’t have a choice, that if you don’t work you will become homeless and freeze to death. That is a possibility, but you are choosing the other option, the choice of not being homeless when you have the means to achieve an alternative, is still a choice.

We tell ourselves all the time that we don’t have a choice. ‘Oh I’d love to change jobs but I have to put a roof over my kids head so I can’t, I don’t have a choice’. ‘I want to leave my husband but I have no money so I don’t have a choice, I have to stay with him’. ‘I want to move to America but I can’t leave my parents so I have no other choice but to stay’. We all say that the choice, the freedom to choose is out of our own control but it’s not. We shift this responsibility to someone else, or even to the universe itself, because we are afraid of the responsibility for our own lives, our own choices. We want freedom but we are afraid of it because with freedom comes the realisation that we are responsible for our own lives, no one else. No one is forcing us to make the choices we make but we are too afraid to acknowledge this.

Image result for choice
Image from nationalcarersweek.com

It is a very tough thing to accept, this responsibility for ourselves. We love to blame other people for our circumstances, to shift the responsibility so we feel that it isn’t our fault. You may argue that there are some people who have their choices taken away. You may say for example, what about people who are born into a society that will kill them for being gay? They have no choice but to hide their true selves for fear of their lives. Though that is indeed a cruel and horrible situation, that person still has choices. They can choose to be open about their sexuality and face the consequence, in this case death. They can choose to hide their sexuality and conform to the social norm to avoid death. In many tough and horrendous situations the options are often not good, but they are still options. The choices are still there and the only person who can make that choice for us is us. We fight against this fact of life, against the responsibility for ourselves, to soothe our anxiety over our responsibility for our circumstances.

No one, not even Yalom himself, can truly and fully accept this fact 100% of the time. It is in our nature to deny it, but taking responsibility for the choices we have made and accepting that our circumstances have come from those choices, can be very healing. We all make mistakes, we may think that the choices we have made in the past were not the right ones, but we made them and here we are.

Image result for choice
Image from blog.hefce.ac.uk

Accepting our freedom does not mean judging ourselves or critizising ourselves, it means accepting ourselves and our past choices, the good ones and the bad ones. It means accepting where we are now and trying our best to take responsibility for ourselves going forward. It is a difficult thing to do but I think we would all gain a lot by trying it. The only person that can make me happy is me. The only person that can make you happy is you. There is freedom in that responsibility, we just have to choose to accept it.

I hope that wasn’t too deep and head wrecking for you all! Let me know what you think of this topic, I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on it!

Enjoy making snowmen and drinking hot chocolate in the snow!

-Vifa

Posted in Relationships

10 Reasons I Find Online Dating Annoying

Related image

 

Happy Valentine’s/Singles Awareness Day!

I hope you are all having a great week whether you are loved up in a relationship or, like me, being thankful for being single so you don’t have to rush around trying to shop for heart-themed gifts. In the spirit of the day I thought I would talk about the modern worlds take on dating. So grab some chocolate and be prepared for a bit of a rant!

So with the internet’s successful attempt at world domination, it is no surprise that almost everything we do these days requires us to go online. Though I have previously approved of my newfound ruler due to my love of social media, there is one aspect of this age of technology I find myself struggling to adapt to; online dating.

Image result for online dating
Image from profoundservices

I took a break from the dating scene about a year ago for the whole self growth and learning to be happy by myself thing. Though I was on dating sites during that time I wouldn’t say I was actively seeking a relationship and so wasn’t really using them properly. I have been wrestling with the idea of maybe trying to pursue a romantic relationship in 2018, but, the world of online dating is making me consider just becoming a crazy cat lady instead. These days dating apps seem to be the only way to meet a romantic interest. Long gone are the days of a person walking up to someone that they like the look of and starting up a conversation.

I was brought up during a time when online dating was seen as a desperate attempt for middle aged women to find a man, men to have casual sex behind their wives backs, and a way for scammers to trick people into giving them their life savings (thanks Dr. Phil). Though these may be unfair stereotypes, it was what I was brought up believing, so you can forgive me for feeling a bit nervous when the likes of Tinder, eHarmony and OkCupid started to come on the scene. I have been a serial “relationshiper” since my primary school days, when I would date boys and MAYBE hold hands with them if they were lucky. Casual dating has never really appealed to me, so I was very reluctant to go on these dating apps as I thought the majority of people who used them were looking for casual hook ups.  Though that may be true depending on what site you use, I found I was mostly able to sort through those looking for sex and those looking for something a bit more. Needless to say I appreciated sites like Plenty of Fish where you could actually state what type of relationship you are looking for.

I wouldn’t call myself an online dating expert by any means, but I think I have enough experience using these sites to know that I am not a fan online dating. Though I have accepted that I will probably have to keep using these blasted sites, I have also accepted that I will probably never like the experience (though it isn’t really the sites fault, more the process of using it). So here are the ’10 Reasons I Find Online Dating Annoying’

1. Using them makes me feel shallow.

With the way most dating sites are set up, it is very hard not to judge someone completely on their appearance. I know there are probably a load of nice guys with great personalities that I’m swiping no to, simply because I am not instantly attracted to them by the one or two photos they have put up. I could be passing up on a great person because their selfie skills are sub-par!

2. The “Popular” People.

Image result for popular
Image from the movie Mean Girls

This is something I know annoys other people. Your main photo should be of JUST YOU. I don’t have time to spend an extra five minutes trying to figure out which person you are amongst a group of 20 GAA players, or a group photo of you and your 10 closest pals who all look weirdly the same. You have friends, awesome! Throw in a pic of you and your mates as well as some solo pics and I’m sure I’ll be impressed at your social skills, instead of frustrated trying to figure out who I’m talking to.

3. The ‘Lone Photo’ People.

Everyone has that one photo that they think they look a million bucks in. Maybe you are right and you should definitely include it in your profile but don’t let it be your only photo. Sure, I’m guilty of putting up a few photos with a few filters on them but I always make sure to have at least one photo of me as my usual not filtered self, so you have an idea of what you’re actually getting. First dates are awkward enough without showing up and realising your date’s profile photo was probably taken 5 years ago and they have shaved their head and grown a beard down to their knees in the meantime.

4. The people who don’t fill out their bio/profile.

Look, I’m not expecting you to give me your life story but please show some signs that you have a personality! The only thing saving me from my first complaint is the opportunity to read a bit about you. Don’t just put your snapchat ID (I will assume you are looking to send dick pics and want “sexy” pics back) or a one liner that says something along the lines of ‘just ask!’ or ‘not sure what to put here’. I’ll let you in on a secret….NO ONE KNOWS WHAT TO PUT THERE. Just show you put in a little effort and tell me a bit about what you do and what you are interested in. I am waaaaaay more likely to message you if I can talk about something I found interesting on your bio/profile.

5. The Posers.

Yes you have a nice body, maybe even a six pack, good for you. This doesn’t mean your profile pics should just be photos of you half naked and trying to attempt the “smoulder look”. Now if you are just looking for a hook up sure, go right ahead, but if you want something else then put a shirt on, this is not a Twilight film and you are not Taylor Lautner. If I see this I automatically assume you are just looking for something casual.  Being happy in your own skin is a great but maybe show it off in another format….

Image result for taylor lautner twilight
Image of Taylor Lautner from the film Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2

6. The ‘Hi/Hey’ People.

So you want to send someone a message, great! I know it takes a lot of courage sometimes to message someone you are attracted to. Your courage will go to waste 9/10 times if all you send is ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’. ‘Hi how are you?’ is slightly better but still not great. Most of the girls I have talked to about this will get at least ten ‘Hi’s’ in a day. Unless we are really attracted to you we are most likely going to ignore it. No effort has been put in. If we have filled out our profile (and shame on us if we haven’t) pick something you find interesting and find a way to work it into your first message. Even something as simple as someone mentioning on their profile that they like rugby, you could say: ‘Hey I really liked your profile, what rugby team do you support?’ or if they mention they like movies you could say ‘Hi I see you like movies, what are your top five? Seen any good ones recently?’ BAM a conversation has begun!

7. Dick Pics EVERYWHERE!

This one is pretty self explanatory. Put it back in your pants.

8. The Rules of the Game.

Don’t reply straight away, talk for a while then disappear for days, only reply as quickly as they reply, don’t let them know you are really interested, since when does dating have so many rules! Ghosting, fishing, whatever you want to call it, it is so annoying! I never liked the fact that some people treat dating like a game, but with the introduction of online dating it seems to have gotten even worse. If you are busy just say so! If you are attracted to the person, tell them! If you want to reply, just reply! I’m all for a bit of a chasing but come on. In my opinion, honesty is the best policy when it comes to relationships so starting one off by abiding by all these rules is a waste of time and silly!

9. The First Date.

Why First Dates & Marketing Are A Lot Alike, Betsy Kent, Be Visible
Image from bevisable.co

As far as I’m aware, no one likes first dates. They are nerve wracking and awkward and can often become a disaster. If you are one of the lucky ones, sparks will fly and it will lead to a second date. A mediocre result is that the date was nice but you didn’t find yourself attracted to the person so you awkwardly part ways and wish each other the best of luck (and maybe make the false promise that you will stay friends). One of the worst outcomes is of course you land up on a date with a psycho but that is a whole other blog. No matter what outcome you get, that first 15-20 minutes can be brutal. The worst part of getting result 2 or 3 is that you know you will have to go through it all over again…….

10. The people who say ‘you are too picky’.

Yes there are lads and ladies out there that have impossible standards when it comes to online dating, but I really don’t think I’m one of them. I have four main things on my checklist for a potential match:

 

  1. I have to be somewhat physically attracted to them.
  2. We have to have a few things in common.
  3. They have to have a job or be in fulltime education.
  4. They have to want a relationship.

 

To be honest I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Some might judge me for the third one but I think it is a reasonable request for people in my age group (25-35). As for the others, there is no point in wasting both of our time if I’m not going to be physically attracted to you. If I get on well with someone and am not 100% sure if I’m attracted to them, I’ll at least go on the first date to check as sometimes you need to meet the person to really know.  I think the others are pretty self explanatory.

So those are the things that annoy me about online dating. Do you agree? What annoys you about online dating? Do you love it or hate it? Let me know!

 

-Vifa

 

 

 

Posted in Children's Mental Health, Uncategorized

Think Before You Speak

 

Image result for children mental health
Image from mentalhealthtips.xyz

‘Think before you speak’ is something we hear from a young age but it is advice we often ignore.

It is Children’s Mental Health Week in Britain this week and I really wanted to write a blog post about it as it is an area I am very passionate about. Research in the UK has suggested that ‘Three in four mental illnesses start in childhood, with 75% of mental illnesses starting before a child reaches their 18th Birthday’. Furthermore, ‘75% of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment’. (The Guardian 2017) To me this is unacceptable and something needs to be done. There are many topics surrounding this issue that need to be spoken about but I thought I would share one of the biggest things I have come to realise affect our emotional stability as we grow.

I am not an expert in this subject by any means, but I have been fortunate to learn about it through briefly studying Child Psychology and Psychotherapy and I think the more people that are aware of it the better. The area I want to discuss is the language that we use around children.

More and more we are learning that ignoring/repressing our feelings are harming us in very real ways. We often ask ourselves why we do it, why we don’t feel comfortable expressing and talking about our feelings, why we struggle to control our emotions in a healthy way. I think one of the answers to this is that we are told to do so from the moment we are born.

When a newborn child cries, it’s parent’s first reaction is to try and soothe it. One of the most common ways people do this is holding the child and saying something along the lines of ‘shhhh it’s ok, don’t cry‘.

When a toddler throws a tantrum over not getting the toy it wants and hits the other child playing with it, again a parent want’s to calm the child and will often tell them to ‘calm down‘ or they will become angry with the child and say something along the lines of ‘don’t you dare‘, ‘don’t hit your friend‘ or ‘don’t throw a tantrum‘.

When an older child comes home crying from school because someone calls them a name, again, a parent will try to soothe them by saying something like ‘don’t cry‘, ‘you don’t need to be upset‘ or ‘it doesn’t matter‘.

When a teenager is screaming at their parent because they wont let them go to a party, the frustrated parent will often scream back and/or say things like ‘don’t raise your voice at me’, ‘what are you upset for, it’s just a party’ or just ignore them and tell them to ‘go to your room’.

Image result for emotions children

It may not be immediately obvious but there is a pattern here. Though we don’t mean to, we are dismissing our children’s feelings and emotions, or worse, telling them not to feel that emotion. This blog isn’t meant to make anyone feel like a bad parent, or to tell you to never discipline your kids, it is meant to make you re-think the language you use around your children when they are expressing a feeling.

I took part in group therapy for a while last year and one of the most common themes that came up was that some felt it was unacceptable to show certain feelings around their parents growing up. One participant suffered with anger issues and felt that during his childhood he was always told that expressions of anger such as shouting were “unacceptable”. Another participant felt that crying was a sign of weakness to his parents or even a “woman’s thing to do”. Another person felt they always had to be perfect because they didn’t want to be like their sibling who had tantrums and got into trouble for it a lot.

Though parent’s mean well when soothing or disciplining their child, I think a lot of them don’t realise how much of an effect what they say has on their children’s mental health. Again, I am not here to tell you how to raise your child or to criticize your parenting skills. I simply want to show you how small changes in what you say could have a big difference in your child’s mental development.

The key thing I feel is to never say ‘Don’t feel (emotion)’. By doing this you are unconsciously sending the message to your child not to feel, or that feeling certain emotions is wrong. Instead it is very important that you let them know that the feeling they are having is valid and normal. Take the earlier example of the toddler throwing a tantrum. Instead of saying ‘don’t hit your friend‘ or ‘don’t throw a tantrum‘, try saying something along the lines of ‘I understand that you are angry because you want the toy and that is ok but it is not ok to hurt another person. Why don’t you apologise to your friend and we can talk about why you are angry together.’

I’m not saying that this exact conversation will stop the tantrum or make the toddler forget about the toy. The important thing is that you are acknowledging the feeling, letting them know that having that feeling is ok, and trying to get them to express that feeling verbally with you. You are still making the toddler acknowledge the bad behaviour (the hitting) but not dismissing the feeling that caused the bad behaviour (the anger).

The same thing can be done with the upset child who was called a name. Instead of saying ‘don’t cry‘, ‘you don’t need to be upset‘ or ‘it doesn’t matter‘, you could say something like ‘It is ok to cry when you feel upset, I’m sure what happened hurt your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it and see if we can come up with a solution together‘.

In this example, you are again acknowledging the child’s emotion and letting them know that crying is a valid response to feeling upset. You are also not dismissing the importance of the event to the child by saying that the event doesn’t matter. Instead, you are teaching the child to accept what has happened, talk about it and see if there is something that can be done.

Image result for mental health
Image from the See Me Video Campaign

Little adjustments like this in any situation where a child is trying to express an emotion can make a huge difference on how they handle their emotions later in life. Remember, it is important that you as the parent practice what you preach. By seeing a parent deal with emotions in a healthy way, the child can learn by example. If I child sees their Mother or Father trying to hide emotions, it is quite possible that they will copy this behaviour. Children, especially very young children, idolize their parents and will try to copy what they do. It is important to recognize your own reactions to emotions and ask yourself if you are dealing with them in a healthy and constructive way, only then can we successfully teach our children how to handle their feelings properly.

I hope this blog post gave you some ideas to try and help the emotional education of the children in your life. Everyone’s mental health is important so it is imperative that we all try and support each other when we are struggling. Being a parent is the toughest job in the world so remember to check in with yourself and your own mental and physical health. The best way to look after the child in your life is to make sure you are at your best so take of yourself and remember, there is no such thing as the perfect parent.

I have left some links for you to check out if you want more information on children’s mental health. I hope you find them useful.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

 

-Vifa

 

http://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/children/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-children-and-young-people

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-38483120

https://www.theguardian.com/mental-health-research-matters/2017/jan/20/12-statistics-to-get-you-thinking-about-mental-health-in-young-people

 

 

Donate Money « Justice For Children
Image from clipart-library.com
Posted in Uncategorized

My Favourite CBT Exercise

Image result for cbt
The Cognitive Model by therapistaid.com

CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) is a popular form of intervention for people who struggle with certain mental health issues. It is generally a short-term form of therapy that deals with a very specific problem you are having. It tries to help you to understand your own thoughts and feelings and how they influence your behaviors. It is often exercise or “homework” based so you can write down and identify some behavioral patterns.

Though the main therapy I receive is not CBT, I have done a few CBT exercises throughout the years, and there is one that has always stuck out to me. I thought I would share it with you since it doesn’t take up a lot of time and you might find it interesting! It is mainly used for people with depression and/or anxiety but anyone can do it. It is quite simple; all you need is a pen and paper.

The Exercise:

  1. Get your piece of paper and draw a line from one side to the other.
  2. Mark the end of the line on the left hand side with the number ‘1’ and the other end of the line on the right hand side with the number ‘10’.
  3. Think about your mood right now and look at the line. With 1 being the most depressed/ anxious you could ever imagine feeling and 10 being the happiest and most fulfilled you could ever imagine being, think about where you would place yourself on the line right now and give it a number.
  4. Once you are happy with the number you have chosen, think of the number above it i.e if you selected the number 4, think of the number 5. Think about what it would take for you to go from your current number to the number above it. What would need to happen for you to get there? Are there people who could help you get there? Can you take any steps today to get yourself there? You can jot down some thoughts in between the numbers.
  5. Once you have done Step 4 look at the number 10 on the far right hand side of the line. What would your life look like if you were there? What would you be doing? Would you have a career? Where would you live? Would you be travelling? What would your relationships with other people be like? Make sure your number 10 is realistic and achievable (time travelling, married to celebrities, ruler of the world type things should be avoided!) Write down some thoughts about what your life would be like at number 10.
  6. Once you have done Step 5, write down what you could do in the next few days to start moving towards the number above the one you are currently at. Then look at what you can do in the next few weeks etc. Write down what you need to do.
  7. When you are happy with your plan to get to the next number, think about your number 10. Write down what you could do in the next week, month, and then the next year etc to get you to your number 10. Make a promise to yourself that you will take at least one step, no matter how small, this week to start moving towards your number 10. Remember you can include talking to someone who you think can help you get there!

 

1_____________4____5_________________10

 

Image result for feeling lost

 

It may not sound like much, but this exercise really helped me to focus and figure out what I wanted out of life. It made me realise the career I wanted and within a week, as I had promised myself, I had taken a small step to work towards that goal.

If you are feeling lost, unmotivated, or hopeless, like I was at the time, I highly suggest giving this a try. It really helps you to find a small bit of direction in your life. Even if you don’t know where you are right now, it should at least help you to find where you want to go and help you to forge a path to get there. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself when thinking about what you need to do to get to your number 10. Slow and steady wins the race, so try to figure out small daily/weekly steps you can take to make you head in the right direction.

I hope you found this useful or at least a little bit interesting! If you did it, let me know what you thought of it, and if it helped!

 

-Vifa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Patience is a Virtue

Related image

 

Little by Little

One step and then another,

And the longest walk is ended;

Once stitch and then another,

And the largest rent is mended;

One brick upon another,

And the highest wall is made;

One flake upon another,

And the deepest snow is laid.

 

Then do not look disheartened

O’er  the work you have to do,

And say that such a mighty task

You never can get through;

But just endeavor, day by day,

Another point to gain;

And soon the mountain which you feared

Will prove to be a plain.

‘Rome was not built within one day’,

The ancient proverb teaches;

And Nature, by her trees and flowers,

The same sweet sermon preaches.

Think not of far-off duties,

But of duties which are near;

And, having once begun to work,

Resolve to persevere.

                                                                -Anonymous

 

A copy of the above poem was given to me by a friend and colleague as she departed to another job. It is currently pinned to my notice board at work, always in sight, to remind me the value of patience.

The proverbial phrase ‘patience is a virtue’ is, in my opinion, one of the truest statements ever said. In our current modern world, everything is instant. You can search for information and have the answer back in seconds with a quick internet search. Almost everything we could ever want is just the click of a button away. Why wait in a queue when you can order what you want online and have it delivered to your door? Food, clothes, furniture, conversation, it is all available at lightning speed online. So why wait for anything? Why do we need patience in this fast-paced world we have become accustomed to?

Patience is a virtue. It comes in many forms whether it is waiting for the cheese to melt on chips, waiting for your child to learn that screaming won’t get them what they want, or waiting for yourself to work through the stages of grief. Patience is needed but often hard to put into practice. I find that it isn’t patience with other people or things that we have the most trouble with, but patience with ourselves. We grow up wanting to become an adult so badly, waiting and waiting, impatient for the freedom that comes with being independent. We dream of getting the college course we want, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect partner, the perfect children. When adulthood finally comes around, we expect what we want to happen instantly, like our internet searches. Eventually the reality hits in; we have to be patient, we have to wait.

When what we want doesn’t come as quickly as we had hoped we have a terrible habit of losing patience with ourselves. We start to blame, berate and bully ourselves for the imagined shortcomings we have that are holding us back. Why didn’t I save more money? Why am I not learning fast enough? Why did I make this decision? Why didn’t I see this coming? Why can’t I get a high paying job? Why can’t I afford to buy a house? Why can’t I do it? Why is it working out for everyone else? There must be something wrong with me. I must be stupid. I must not be trying hard enough. I must not be good enough. I’ll never achieve anything.

We are so quick to convince ourselves that there is something wrong with us. In a world of social media where we only show our successes, it is easy to think everyone else has the perfect life and that we are getting left behind. It is easy to think ‘what is the point?’ and give up. Just because something isn’t easy and takes time, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. We need to slow down and remember that good things come to those who wait. Focus on the little steps you can take every day to work towards you goals. Don’t knock yourself down because others are achieving their goals faster than you. Why should we expect the journey to achieving our own goals in life to be the same as someone else’s? Every life is different with its own unique experiences, how could our journeys possibly be the same?

The beginning of the year is a time for fresh starts and new goals. As you continue into this year, remember to be patient with yourself. Whatever promises you have made to yourself for this year make sure they are realistic, and what you really want to do. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a slip or aren’t doing as well as you thought. Don’t berate yourself for not doing as well as someone else. Try to focus on the steps YOU have taken to achieve your goals, no matter how small they may seem.  Life is not a race, so be kind and patient with yourself this year, as well as remembering to savor every moment instead of letting your mind race off ahead of you.

 

Wishing you all the best for this year!

-Vifa

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Allegation

Image result for justice

I wasn’t going to write about this topic because it is getting a lot of attention at the moment, and rightly so. I think some of my thoughts surrounding the matter are quite controversial, so I was originally going to keep quiet. However, keeping quiet is what led to issues like this going on for so long, and staying silent just because I’m afraid of backlash seems silly considering the circumstances. No one will ever 100% agree with what you say, but it doesn’t mean it is not worth saying. This topic hits home for me a lot so I ask that you be respectful, as I have tried to be, if giving a response.

In this blog post I will be sharing  some of the thoughts I have been having about the #TimesUp movement, and the sexual abuse and harassment allegations currently taking over the entertainment industry.

First of all I would like to say that any person who has come forward after being sexually harassed or abused is a very brave person. To have something like that happen to you and then re-live it as you tell someone about it must be a very difficult and upsetting thing to do.  I commend anyone who has done it. You are an inspiration to others and it is thanks to the strength of people like you that others feel strong enough to come forward. No one, male or female, young or old, should have to feel objectified, scared or threatened anywhere in the world including their work place, home or on the street. The recent allegations have brought to light just how bad an issue this still is, but at least it gives us hope that we are now trying to make a world free of harassment, abuse and silence.

Though the #TimesUp movement is something I support, there is another side to all of this, a side I think a lot of people are afraid to talk about because of fear of upsetting or disrespecting true victims of these awful crimes. From the moment the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to light, dozens of other allegations against people in the entertainment industry have also surfaced. Though it is sad to think we still live in a society where men and women can be manipulated, abused, threatened and silenced because of the abuse of power by others, there is another harsh reality that we must also face. This reality is that there are some twisted, sick people out there who put forward false allegations.

These people not only ruin the lives of the people they accuse, but they also undermine the truth of those people who have genuinely come forward with their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. In my opinion, these people are just as bad as the true predators that commit these horrible crimes. When sexual harassment and abuse is truly reported and the person is convicted, there are still no true “winners”. The attacker’s life is rightly ruined because of their actions and the victim has to live with what has happened to them for the rest of their lives. However, when someone is falsely accused and even proven innocent, that allegation follows them for the rest of their lives. Despite not doing anything wrong, people still wonder if it was true, still look at them differently, still think of them differently. Though innocent, they can still get a life sentence.

My goal when talking about this issue is not to try and silence victims of sexual harassment or abuse, or convince you that they are liars. My goal here is to talk about how false allegations, especially of this nature, can be life-ruining for those accused. Due in part to the momentum behind the #TimesUp movement, a lot of brave people will come forward with their true stories about their terrible experiences. For their bravery I hope they are rewarded with justice. However, there will be a select few who will make false allegations to get their 15 minutes of fame, to get pity and attention from others, to get revenge on someone they dislike, whatever their reasons. By doing this they could ruin the life of a good person and call into question the true allegations brought forward by true victims.

 

All I ask is that when you next see an allegation in the media, stop and think about what you are hearing/reading. I ask you to remember the lives of the people involved in the allegations, both the accuser and the accused. I ask you to remember that in our mostly democratic world, people are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.

We live in dark times, but slowly we are trying to better ourselves. For every rapist, terrorist, murderer, abuser, and silencer, there are ten of us that choose love, hope, kindness, gentleness, inclusion, understanding and laughter. There is hope for us, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. To achieve a world that is safe for future generations, we must stand together and fight for something better. We just need to make sure we are not sacrificing innocent people along the way.

I have left some links below for anyone who feels they have been the victim of sexual harassment or abuse. I implore you to use them. They will listen and they will do their best to help you, you just have to take the first step.

-Vifa

Rape Crisis Ireland: http://www.rapecrisishelp.ie/

RAINN (US): https://www.rainn.org/

Helplines (UK): https://www.itv.com/thismorning/rape-helplines