I was walking home with my mum,
An old man called me love,
Told me to give him a lick of my ice cream,
I was seven.
and it still makes me wanna scream.
I wore my favourite skirt to the shops,
I got catcalled by a man someone probably called "pops",
My mum told me "take it as a compliment"
I was fourteen
and no longer comfortable in my skin.
I went out with my friends to town,
what Ii was wearing should not matter,
but to every guy who saw me it did,
I was fifteen,
and realised that this was normal.
I shouldn't be afraid to go out at night in fear of harassment,
but i am.
I shouldn’t have had to worry about it at 14,
but i did.
I shouldn't take it as a compliment,
It was not.
Handling your finances is something I think isn’t taught enough, yet it’s the path to leading a comfortable life. Capitalism, as defined by ‘Investopedia’ - a financial education website - is the economic state whereby property and industries that have monetary value are controlled by private owners. This system can greatly disadvantage the working class, i.e. people like you and me - so I wanted to write about ways in which you make this capitalistic system work in your favour without compromising your values. I’ll start by writing about how to budget, and later delve into more complex financial topics like savings accounts and investing. I want to preface that I’m by no means an expert, this is just what I have researched, and would like to spread the knowledge - so please do your own research as well!
Budgeting is described by ‘Investopedia’ as a plan regarding the income and expenses for a particular time frame. This process, while tedious, will allow you to see patterns in your spending, and control it better in order to ensure that you are always on top of your finances.
Finances have been a thing that I have been taught to fear. I can’t actually say that I’ve ever been at a place where money has not been an issue, and so it’s developed lots of anxiety around spending, receiving monetary gifts or loans from others etc. There may be times I needed to pay someone back but couldn’t until later on. This created a mentality that working is the only way I can create a sufficient and comfortable lifestyle for myself. A mentality that I have to work to survive. But I’ve tried to challenge that by taking control of my finances, rather than enduring conditions I don’t like, in order to keep my head above water. One way I was able to do this was through budgeting; I recently received my first paycheck from my internship and was able to use a budgeting technique to split up my income between needs, wants, and unexpected situations. Here’s how I did it:
‘Money Under 30’, another financial education website, suggests a common budgeting technique to use is the 50/30/20 rule. In this, you save 50% of your income on essentials like groceries, rent etc., spend 30% of your income on what you want, and contribute the remaining 20% on your savings (including retirement) and investments.
So, hypothetically, if you brought in £1000 (with the consideration of tax):
Essentials - £500
Wants - £300
Savings - £200
Money Fit’s 50/30/20 online budget calculator can work this out quickly for you, however, there are many alternatives online also.
An important thing to note is that this is completely customisable to your situation, you can change how much you allocate to each section, so it requires a lot of self-discipline and awareness to understand how much you can distribute to each part. To practice self-discipline you have to be honest with yourself - I usually ask myself how beneficial a certain spend would be in the long run; could I possibly use that spend on something that provides me more gratification in the future? Here are some more ways to practice discipline:
One way to learn how to be more aware of your budget is to keep a basic excel sheet that breaks down your income and expenses. The Balance, financial education website, also has a simple template that you can copy and paste into a document and adapt to your circumstances. Alternatively, there are other free templates online that help keep an eye on your finances without the hassle of creating the template yourself (unless that’s your thing). I personally use ‘Aspire’, which tracks transactions as they are made - it’s a little technical but they have a Reddit account that you can ask questions on, and detailed instructions to get you set up.
Now you may be lost on what the “Savings” section of the budgeting technique might be made up of. Savings would constitute your emergency fund (saving if you unexpectedly lose your job, or something breaks etc.), investments, and retirement fund. Because of this, it might be easier to put your savings into a savings account.
So far this technique has taught me that finance is not something to fear - granted, I’m not going to say it's not stressful, but budgeting has given my finances a lot more structure. I understand there is more to learn, but it's not something that has to control you, more so, it's the other way around.
I think understanding finances is something quite empowering, especially when there has been constant worry about where your finances would go. However, it’s important to remember that your finances don’t have to define your life experience, especially because I found myself unable to do things I wanted due to financial constraints, like attending paid events, going on holiday, or simply eating out. When I had the time I looked for free activities I could do, and any financial support I could find online like grants or scholarships during university. I learned that with or without financial constraints, it’s still important to let yourself live, rather than just survive. I’m still learning how to do this, but it’s about ensuring that your finances don’t control you - both by learning about finance and by living in spite of it as much as you can.
Unfortunately, not everyone is equipped to find out more about this topic. Some may not know where to start with researching, or just don’t understand the admittedly complicated lingo in some of these sites. Weeks ago I didn’t know any of this information, so I don’t blame you for being unsure. Its absence in our education system means that we interpret finances as something that lacks priority, or at least, is too complicated for anyone to understand, let alone teach. I hope that this information gives you an idea about where to get started.
Here are some sites which can help you with this a little more
Stay Safe! - Rae
I thought I had it all sorted out; I would live with my friends, we would have a blast at university together, and nothing could possibly go wrong. I was wrong. People are not the same when you have to share the same space for extended periods of time.
Living with friends can seem like a really fun idea, probably one that you’ve been planning with them for a long time. However, it’s not always pretty. You never really know the habits of your friends as you have never had to experience what they’re like at home for a long time.
I’ve had multiple experiences with living with friends after I moved out for university. You want to be comfortable with the people you’re living with and the easiest way to do that is to live with someone you know. However, it all changes when you’re in the same space. You start to notice a lot more problems that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t sharing the same space.
In my first year of university, I lived in university halls and had made friends with my flatmates prior to meeting them. They were a great bunch of people, extremely friendly, sociable and accommodating. As I stayed in that space more I started to realise that they were quite messy, loud and quite dramatic. I tried to keep to my own space but they constantly pushed boundaries and invaded that space. I eventually ended up cutting ties with all those people that I initially lived with as I could not get along with them at all. From there I realised something important - we don’t have the same upbringing.
The type of habits and characters that they have in their living space was greatly influenced by the way they were brought up. What would be normal to me would not have necessarily been normal to them, so really I didn’t need to take everything personally. However, it was affecting my mental health and comfort so I need to find people who would respect the boundaries I had and I would do the same for them.
One of the first steps to living with friends is having boundaries and also respecting their own. There may be things that you’ll let slide but remember you’re living together and it is a shared space at the end of the day. Just because they’re your friend doesn’t mean you should feel uncomfortable in your home. If you are upset one day they should either know how to navigate that or respect that you might just want your own space. I am lucky enough to live with people who respect that I have off days and we can communicate that with each other so that we don’t offend one another.
Another tip is to prepare yourself for uncomfortable conversations. These types of difficult conversations and conflicts usually arise in friendship when having to share the same space. You begin to see another side of them that you might not have had a chance to explore when you weren’t living together. It’s okay to have these conversations and you don’t always have to agree. In fact, it makes your friendship stronger because you’re understanding your differences better.
Living with friends always sounds like the better option than living with strangers. In most cases it is. However, the fear of losing a good friendship can hold you back from making that decision in case you can’t live comfortably with them. It’s understandable to have these fears, but always recognise that in most friendships, you’re in there because you value this person and they value you. Therefore differences you may face can be overcome.
For nearly 3 years now I’ve been suffering from Non-Epileptic Seizures. It all started back in 2018 when I was on my way back from London and woke up on a train station platform. The train staff were very comforting, letting me know what happened.
What I wasn’t expecting was what the reason was for me to be lying on the train station platform. One of the kind staff said to me, “Melissa, you have had a seizure, we’ve phoned your dad and he’s on his way. We got your information from your passport and then contacted your emergency contact”.
At first, I was panicking, as I’d never had a seizure before I was never known to have them. But my brother was! He was epileptic and on the way back from the station I was with my dad in the car and all these questions were going around in my head.
“What has caused this seizure to happen?”
“Did I knock my head hard on the floor?” - As I had an awful headache after the incident.
What I didn’t realise was what effect this would have later on in my life. I would start to have daily seizures and this restricted me from working as I was working in a nightclub at the time. So, when I went to get tested, they ruled out it was epileptic seizures at first.
But, a few months on, it was proven not to be epileptic seizures; it was a case of Non-Epileptic seizures. At first, I had no knowledge of what this diagnosis was but by doing my own research I have average knowledge of what it is now.
Today, 3 years on I still suffer from these seizures and they have changed my life. They have caused me to go jobless and not be fit to work. That means I’m stuck at home all day every day. Also not being allowed to drive as it’s dangerous if I do so. That limited me to where I can go as I live on the outskirts of my town.
But what has affected me the most is losing my friends. I’ve lost a lot of my friends due to these seizures as my friends are scared to be around me. At first, they were okay with it but as it became a regular thing they just got fed up, I guess.
I was touring with my friends known as Jedward and I had a seizure just before the concert. So this leads to an ambulance being called and the decision my friends had to make, ‘Who would go with me in the ambulance?’
Luckily I felt okay after a check-up in the ambulance and I was bouncing back half an hour later just in time for the concert. It was a weird experience. Normally when I have a seizure, I have a massive headache and I’m drained but this time that wasn’t the case.
After this experience, I did learn who my true friends were but I also learnt that I can’t expect everyone to wait around for me. I would want them to enjoy their time and not be in an ambulance missing the concert.
3 years ago, yes this would have upset me to see my friends leave me to go to the concert without me, but now, I see it as a positive because I’m not dragging them behind and making them miss out on a fun experience.
It’s grand to realize that everything happens for a reason, you find out who your true friends are the hard way. But then again do you have to see it like that? Try to turn it into a positive so it’s good for your mindset.
My faith has been something that I have had a very complex journey with. It is a journey filled with lots of suffering, tribulation, confusion, immeasurable joy, great peace, pursuit of truth and answers, and a journey that I’m still taking to this day. Honestly, this feels very big for me because, for the first time ever, I am going to do what the church calls bearing witness which means talking about how Jesus changed my life.
My journey starts all the way back to when I was a baby. During that time period, my mom and dad were with the Catholic Church and baptized me in it when I was one. However, due to numerous ideological differences, my parents chose to leave the Catholic Church and set off to enter a relatively new church called Buckhead Church. My parents really liked and connected with this church and as a small child, so did I. I continued to attend Buckhead Church for many years enjoying the way it related the Bible to the modern day. I believe a lot of this enjoyment came from the fact that during that period of time, my religious views were not challenged at all.
Doubts started to arise however when I was in 7th grade, since some of my friends were atheists who were very open about their lack of belief. This was the first time ever that I felt like I had my beliefs challenged and not knowing how to react, the first seeds of doubt were planted.
Entering a Catholic high school didn’t help either. There I was taught things that seemed directly opposed to my middle school and church. Where my middle school and church taught me to love and accept all people regardless of background, my High School was more conservative and some of their views felt like they contradicted and nullified what I had learned previously. Also, I had a huge falling out with all of my friends during my freshman year. These events ended up causing me to lose my faith in God at the time because in my mind, “How could it be possible that God is an all-loving being but at the same time be homophobic and religionist as well as allow me to lose everyone that I thought was close to me at school?”.
For about two years of my life, I became pretty atheistic, untrusting, insecure, and very resentful toward myself. In fact, I began to hate myself so much that I ended up doing something that I really really regret now: I started to sink pretty deep into a porn addiction. I didn’t care how evil it was at the time but I just wanted pleasure, happiness and anything that could get me to forget how horrible and depressed I felt. As expected, it brought no joy whatsoever. On my 11th-grade retreat, however, I heard a testimony from one of my school missionaries about his journey to Christ and his battle with his own porn addiction to get there. I related to his story so much that I decided to cut it off once and for all. Little did I know that this was the first step to my journey back into the arms of the Lord.
It wasn’t until I read the Divine Comedy at school that I felt that I wanted to reconnect with my faith. The book had a lot to say about the spiritual life and I ended up finding that very interesting. While reading the book, I decided to communicate with God again through prayer. It started out as kind of scary at first but after a while, it became pretty comforting actually.
It was at a retreat that my small group from Church and I went to that things really started heating up. It was right there that I had what I’d call an ‘Aha!’ Moment. I really bonded with my small group and really felt the presence of God radiating all over during that experience. But still, there was a long journey ahead of me.
It was the end of my spring break and there was a lot of talk about this “COVID” thing escalating quickly. Little did I know, however,that my entire world would be turned totally upside down. When the lockdown began and everything went online, I was completely hurt, scared, and lost because I had always been one to try to look into the future in order to find a likely outcome based on everything going on and this time around, I couldn’t find a likely foreseeable thing that I could be certain will happen. I scoured everywhere for answers but all around me were nothing but clueless experts, scientists, and politicians. All of this eventually led me to seek the answers that I craved from the only person who I knew wasn’t clueless at all: Jesus Christ. It was during the pandemic that I felt that I truly accepted Jesus as my lord and savior.
P.S: To be honest, my choosing to finally say yes to Christ was only the beginning since before me was a road that involved much more struggle and confusion after that. This is a road that I haven’t finished crossing yet but I continue to walk vigilantly. I hope this article may provide you with comfort and hope after reading it.
Everyone is dealing with something. Everyone has issues and everyone struggles.
Everyone, except me.
I hear stories about the students at my school; someone’s dad died. Someone else’s parents had split up. Another is depressed, another is anorexic.
Whilst all this is happening, I feel so guilty. I know it’s not my fault, but my life is so easy compared to other people’s. I just don’t think it’s fair. How can I talk to someone normally when I know she forces herself to throw up the food she eats every day?
That’s why I’ve decided to do everything I can to help people who are struggling.
At school, if anyone ever needs someone to talk to, they know that I am here. In fact, over summer I messaged my friend who is battling anorexia just to offer her some support and someone to talk to. It might not seem like a big gesture, but small acts of kindness like this can make someone feel worthy and encouraged to keep going.
I also know how intense some people find school and how they can find it difficult to cope with both their mental health as well as their grades. This is why, last year, I was a maths buddy to someone in the year below who was struggling, just to help them get back on track. I have also had a few revision sessions with my friends who work better in a more relaxed and one-to-one environment, because I understand how stressful they find the school atmosphere.
It’s also really important to just be there for others. My friends know I’m here for them if and when they want to talk about anything, and I always make sure to listen intently and try my best to help them in whatever way I can, even if that just means giving them a hug.
Here’s a few tips on how to help those who are struggling;
I’ve joined TWE to try and help others, like our readers. I just hope that these articles do help you in some way because the whole team is here for you. We want to support you in any way we can.
So really, I just want to write a quick note to you. Yes, you, the amazing, brilliant, kind, talented and worthy person reading this right now. You can do this and you will do this. You are loved and you are treasured by those around you and we all want you to thrive.
Overall, if you are on the ‘other side’, I advise you to do as many small things as possible to make the lives of those struggling just a tiny bit easier. You could do this by simply asking how they are doing, and if they need any help.
I hope this helped :) Have a fantastic day!
Trigger Warning: This article lightly discusses rape, which may be triggering for some readers. If you or someone you know is dealing with sexual assault, there are resources that can help. To reach the Sexual Abuse Hotline, U.S. readers can call 1-800-656-4673 and U.K readers can dial 0800 0288 022.
This past week, Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, signed a bill that would ban abortions after only 6 weeks, with no exceptions for rape. This newly-formed law, titled the Heartbeat Bill, makes it nearly impossible to have an abortion under any circumstance. 6 weeks is roughly how long it takes to realize your period is overdue, let alone get tested, and schedule an appointment to have the abortion procedure. This isn’t the first heartbeat bill to be signed. At least 8 similar bills have been passed nationwide in states like Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, and Kentucky. With that being said, not a single one has been put into effect due to the fact they directly contradict the Roe v. Wade law. Signed in 1973, this law makes getting an abortion a constitutional right. So what sets this heartbeat bill apart? Greg Abbot’s bill allows anyone in the US to sue medical professionals who perform abortions, including those who don’t live in Texas or have any relation to the doctors there. This separates the State from the law, making it much harder for abortion advocates to sue and get the bill repealed.
The Health Importance of Legalized Abortion
One of the most important things to note about this law is that regardless of whether or not abortion is legal, people need to, and will get, abortions. What legalized abortion does is offer a safe and sterile way to do so. According to the National Library of Medicine, in 1955, prior to the legalization of abortion, it was estimated between 200,000 and 1,200,000 people had illegally induced abortions. However, the higher number was said to have been more probable. The fact remains that people will go to great lengths to have an abortion in times of desperation, oftentimes resorting to medication, chemicals, or other injurous methods to prevent having the baby. Moreover, the National Library of Medicine also stated that illegal abortion can be up to 30% more fatal than legal abortion. These statistics show us just how important legalized abortion is for the health and safety of all Americans. There is nothing pro-life about allowing citizens to risk death just to prevent having to give birth.
Stopping Abortion At Its Source
Nearly 50% of abortion procedures are given to those under the federal poverty line and 12% of abortion patients were under 19. Oftentimes, those in the lower class don’t have access to adequate safe-sex education, contraceptive, sexual health clinics, and other vital resources to preventing pregnancy. While the U.S. can’t eliminate cases of rape or incest, it can fund programming for youth about how to practice safe-sex, which in turn would lower the need of abortions in the first place.
How You Can Help
This is a legal issue that relies heavily on what happens in court, as opposed to the actions civilians could take; however, there are several ways to get involved. If you’re from outside the United States, you could donate to organizations like Planned Parenthood, which directly helps those needing abortions, birth control, and safe-sex education. If you reside in the U.S. contact your local Planned Parenthood or sexual health clinic to find out how you can get involved! Volunteering, protesting, signing petitions, signing petitions and making phone calls are all great first steps. As always, advocacy is crucial for resolution. Spreading awareness about what is going on in Texas is a fantastic way to get more people involved. In a situation like this: the more, the merrier.
Abortion is vital to American safety and the legalization of it is a major asset for keeping the U.S. healthy. Whether you agree or disagree with the concept of abortion, having it as a legal option gives people much-needed security and without it, entire communities are put at risk. We need to keep abortion legal, for our country, for everyone.
Freedom is the power, the right to act, speak or think as you want. It’s the privilege of not being imprisoned or enslaved simply because you’ve exercised the right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Freedom is a gentle blissful feeling that manifests into a fiery, ambitious passion upon your first taste of freedom.
Freedom is a place where you are free to dance until your feet can carry you no further, for you to scream until every last living thing has heard the strength of your voice. It’s a place for you to express yourself to the fullest extent of your existence on this Earth.
Freedom is a weapon used to break the chains that bind you to weight of oppression, to decay the mantle of hostility and to destroy the ranks of bigoted men and women
Freedom is the art of creating, being and expressing yourself until every last morsel of your body feels free.
I have recently lost my best friend.
It was something I cried about for an entire night, but something that I woke up the next morning and realized was necessary.
As tough as it is to lose your friend, sometimes it’s what’s needed. We hadn’t grown apart, but I had changed, and my friend had stayed the same. Sometimes this happens, and it doesn’t make someone bad or good, it just means that the relationship has changed.
Sometimes we feel that we need a good reason to leave a relationship. Whether that be because it is abusive, toxic, due to hatred or dislike, and many other negative things--but we don’t need a reason like that. Sometimes you lose a relationship because you’ve grown apart, or you’ve grown out of it. Sometimes we change--for the better at that--and the relationship just doesn’t help you anymore. Maybe it actually hurts you because you argue more or disagree more, and many other things. Sometimes it is better to let go.
This can be painful, and that’s okay. This can be freeing, and that’s okay. Whatever you feel is valid and real. So remember that you’re doing your best and that your best is enough.
Keep your head up, the sun still rises!
Trigger warnings. Everyone with a mental illness who is on the internet has heard of them. A trigger warning (or content warning as it may also be called) is a short warning at the start of a social media post, photo, piece of art, TV show, advert or any other type of media that alerts the consumer as to what kind of content could be in that product.
For example, you may have seen “TW: abuse, trauma” at the start of social media posts about the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp court trial, or “TW: suicide mention, drug abuse” at the beginning of TV shows like 13 Reasons Why. These are there so that if troubling topics upset you or trigger your mental illness or certain thoughts, you can either avoid the thing or you can proceed with caution.
Many people have triggers, and there are so many. However, that doesn’t make them any less important or relevant. If someone sees triggering content then they could relapse, hurt themselves, be upset or just be uncomfortable. We at TWE make sure to know people’s triggers so that we can let them know of any triggering content in our movie nights, or our articles and social media. That way, our members and followers can avoid the content and protect themselves.
TV shows like 13 Reasons Why have been in hot water over trigger warnings in the past. If you’re unfamiliar with the franchise, 13 Reasons Why is about a young girl who commits suicide and then leaves pre-recorded tapes detailing all of the reasons why she did it, intended for certain people to listen to. The show follows one of her friends listening to the tapes. The TV programme showed a graphic scene of Hannah’s (the protagonists) suicide, with very little warning. The warning that was there said that the content may be unsuitable for younger viewers. When the season launched on Netflix, social media erupted about how the gruesome scene triggered young people around the world who had mental health difficulties, and even contributed to some suicides, as they couldn’t get the image out of their heads. This shows the glaring importance of sufficient and informative trigger warnings.
Since then, Netflix has removed the scene from the show, and now shows a video of some of the actors before the series telling viewers to watch with someone they trust, or don’t watch at all.
The use of trigger warnings has thankfully been increasing, especially online. I personally try to use trigger warnings wherever I can, even if the topic isn’t triggering to me personally.
If you do see something online that doesn’t have a trigger warning, you may feel upset, scared, or anxious. If you feel comfortable, message the owner of the content (or have a friend do it for you) and let them know that the content they posted is triggering and they may have upset many more people. Hopefully, the poster will add a trigger warning and remember in future. We are all human, and sometimes we forget things.
If you do see something online that triggers you and you feel you may hurt yourself or someone else in any way, please don’t hesitate to tell an adult, a friend or call your local emergency number to get help.
999/111 in the UK
911 in the US
On Friday 31st January I went to my first proper gig: Liverpool's Battle of the Bands. It was a totally new and crazy experience!!
Getting to the O2 Academy was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride as it was hidden down a side street near Lime street station (be sure you Google maps this in advance). When we got there we watched a variety of bands all the way from a group of 12 year old kids (called The Start) to a very hippy style band that could have been called Sand Patrol (but actually known as The Jupiter Blues). There was also one of my all time favourite bands who are called Ambedo Blue!!
It was a great experience, but if you don't know what you are getting yourself into with your first gig then it might not be so great. So, I thought I would share some tips and tricks that I learned.
When deciding what to wear I had one of those classic teen movie moments where my clothes were sprawled all over my floor. My key piece of advice is to be sure to layer, because it can get very warm in the venue, but because of British weather it will be freezing outside. Although the O2 Academy did have somewhere to hang coats, not everywhere does so you don't want to be stuck carrying around a super large coat, especially when you are trying to dance. So, I would always suggest wearing something with zipped pockets to ensure that you don't lose any of your valuable belongings. But as long as you feel comfortable then you will look great in it!
A word of warning is that mosh pits are very common as they are fun but can be quite hazardous to those of us who are small. However, saying that my quite small friend was loving it. But it is definitely not for the faint of heart. I managed to get nudged numerous times and even got some bruises without even being in the mosh pit! Luckily there was a lack of crowd-surfing. Remember, if you feel unsafe, or you’re hurt, make your way to the sides of the venue. There will usually be some security to help you out!
You should always take some money with you. I know this seems obvious but it is always best to take some extra cash with you, as you never know when you could use it. Maybe you get to the venue with a pre-bought ticket which turns out to be the wrong one, maybe you get lost and need to get a taxi home, or maybe you just wanted some McDonalds afterwards. Speaking of food and drink, if you are planning to get something whilst you are out purchase it a while before or after the gig because most places won't let you take anything in as they sell their own stuff. But buying from inside the venue can end up being pretty pricey. You might also wish to buy some of the bands merch or their music after the show.
My last piece of advice is always take a friend. Not only do they make a great night a lot more fun. It is always good to have some you know to get there with, and get home with. Even if you know someone is going to be there or you know the band members there is no guarantee that you will see them or that they won't be busy or they may even decide to cancel. So ask a good friend (or maybe a new friend in the making) and have fun!!
But as Cher (from Clueless) said "the band was kickin' ", overall it was a great experience. I recommend that everyone goes to a gig at least once, it is like a key college experience.
When I wake up, I like to think my day will be grand but some days this doesn’t go to plan. Like for instance, the other day I was going to the health care clinic for an assessment. So, I thought as I’m near Greggs I would go in and get some hot tomato soup to give me some energy.
When I went into Greggs, the woman asked what I would like and I said just some tomato soup please. So, after I paid, I made my way to the clinic with my mammy as I can’t go into my local town alone.I have very bad anxiety due to my past with bullying so I’m scared of seeing someone from my old high school in town.
After we arrived at the health care clinic, I checked in then went to sit down to wait to be called in. When I sat down,I opened my hot soup as it was in a take-away cup so I couldn’t see what was inside. I was expecting it to be tomato soup but it was chicken soup! As I’m a vegetarian, I couldn’t eat it.
This situation really got me down and angry. I know people make mistakes but that was going to be my go kick to start the day. During the assessment, all I could think about was the soup situation it really got to me and it made me so anxious during the assessment.
After the assessment I went back to Greggs to tell them about my soup and I was really expecting them to say “we can’t change it as you had already taken it out”. But I was totally wrong! The woman who served me before was so kind about the situation and she changed the soup for me but then also offered me a free pasty of my choice. She was so sweet and very apologetic.
After that situation, I sat down and thought about it when I got home and just questioned myself ‘why did that bother me so much?’ I was really overthinking it and it got me feeling hot and really anxious. Normally, someone would just be like oh they gave me the wrong order, I’ll go back and complain.
My mental health hasn’t been good over the past year, I believe it has gotten worse, especially with my bulimia, it’s hard to break a routine you’ve been doing for so many years.
My bulimia has made me start some awful behaviours like bingeing at night then not eating during the day as my parents are at home (when they are not at work ). I think I revolve my life around bulimia as that is the only thing I feel I’m in control with.
After recapping my day, I sat down with my mammy to talk about what happened that day. She said that she thinks it’s my mind making me overthink about small incidents like this and then it brainwashes you into thinking that the day ahead will be ruined due to this situation.
I agree with what my mammy said and so, the next day I phoned my mental health and said to them look I need this weekly therapy like I was supposed to have but I’m not receiving it. I would like a new therapist please one I could rely on, not going on the sick all the time”.
They replied that they couldn’t give me further help as I needed to take it to the head of department. I was really upset about this and I didn’t know where I stood with my local mental health services.
So, situations like this happen but I don’t think people realise how much it can affect people. Overthinking is one of the most common things with mental health and it needs to change!
I am only ordinary,
And indeed it might show.
I’m nothing more than commonplace
Although, looking for a glow-
You might find a few,
Among the shimmering sparks that stem
From that soul of mine.
I lose more than I win
But I have more than most.
I’m insecure, I’m confident
I lie, I dream, I boast.
If disappointment are stars
Loneliness is my moon-
Though I’m asleep, most of the time
Til the sun shines brightly through.
If I were to try to say,
With some words, in some way
The things I want to say-
I wouldn’t find the way.
‘Cause I’m clumsy like that.
I get mad. I get sad.
I’m nothing like the others,
Yet sometimes- that is bad.
Roaming about the world
I know that I am free-
To go this way, that way, my way-
And call it ordinary.
Except I am not;
I am blessed,
With a mind, with a family, with friends and teachers and dreams and woes-
Unlike anyone else’s.
This poem was written in July 2020 and inspired by the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl”. Like the show it has five distinct sections, though the references are not, by any means, confined to Soviet Russia or nuclear power plants. I’d like to think of it as a reflection of all socialistic societies in the modern world, the mistakes they’ve made, and the status quo they have paved.
The first and last section are intentionally untitled. Only they contain references to the show.
The word “bullet” is used many times throughout the show, mainly for three reasons. One, as a metaphor for the uranium radiation that Dr. Legasov used to explain the disaster at a meeting. Two, as used by soldiers when they kill contaminated pets, and how one must put bullets in them “one after another” until they are dead, so as to not let them suffer. Lastly, as a straightforward symbol of murder. “Fly us directly over the reactor and believe me, by tomorrow morning, you will be begging for that bullet.” “I am not brave enough to take the bullet by myself.” “They will give you the bullet, and take everything.”
All three of these meanings convey death. My greatest wish is for all to read this, not to be scared, but to see and recognize. It is painful getting struck by the bullet but even more so being used as one. At the end of the day, life involves living. We must guard each other’s legacy, stories, and experiences. We must reform on what is alive, and understand that which has perished. We must construct protection from ashes, for if we do not the world we live in today will burn down, again, someday.
See the bullet. Understand the bullet. Despise not merely the bullet, but also the gun, the shooter, and the deliverer of the weapons.
It is a system of death.
“You’re one of us, Legasov.
Now, I can do anything I want with you,
But what I want the most is for you to know
That I know.
You’re not brave.
You’re not heroic.
You’re just a dying man
Who forgot himself.”
“I know who I am, and I know what I’ve done.
In a just world I would be shot for my lies
But not for this.
Not for the truth.”
And your idiot obsessions with reasons.
When that bullet hits your skull,
What will it matter why?”
II. The Forest
We are trees
With our numerous branches of thought,
With the natural desire to grow crooked
At every possible opportunity.
Orders & rules
Chop those sly branches off.
The soft growth
Sprouting from our main trunk
Distract, corrupt, or become difficult to manage-
Are often strangled in their cribs by the efficient system
That is our society.
So how does a tree know
If it is growing straight?
When it turns to look around,
The only types in the forest-
They are the same?
How can it tell?
Whether it is well?
It can’t, and that’s why
It is often suffocated with unknown bewilderment.
We do not let mere smog disturb our living, however.
At least we still have some sunshine, right?
How else could we have grown?
How else could we have grown this tall?
We comfort each other
And let the fog swirl around us-
The forest that is our home.
III. The Factory
A chain of command
Makes a good factory line.
You stay at your post
By your machine, with your crew
And do what you are designated to do.
It will be tolerable, of course
Not work too grueling to send you bawling
Nor pay too meager for you to scatter.
You get to work
And work, and work on
In a pleasant, cushiony mirage.
Chop, chop, chop up the trees!
Deftly but efficiently
Slice them into manageable pieces.
Cut, cut, cut the edges!
Punish the crooked trees
For being the way they are.
Remove the dangerous corners
And trim for aesthetics-
It’s an art, really.
Polish, polish, polish the sides!
Learn them the way of life.
Soak them in alcohol, lies and wealth
Then remind them it will be taken away if they don’t behave well.
Bend under your touch, mold against your hand
That is the way before the paper of sand
Is introduced, and even they
Must eventually succumb to the inevitable fate.
But for most wood
It doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Bullets are needed
For all shapes and sizes-
If anything, just to fill up the factory,
Keep the workers busy,
And the forest alive.
Nutrients are valuable, but
So is suffering!
Let them be who they are
And get discarded later down the line.
They contribute, too
To the great factory.
A chain of command
Makes a good factory.
The straightforward line of orders
Masses up the great power
Of the workers
And GETS THINGS DONE.
A chain of command
Makes a good factory, but
Not a laboratory,
Not a theater,
Not a classroom.
Not a restaurant, a hospital, a judicial court.
Not a people, and not a nation.
Not paradise, not hell either.
And so people work in factories.
IV. The Orders
We take orders.
We grow up taking orders.
We grow old, giving orders
While taking them all the same.
Why is it, why?
That it’s such a painful relief
Watching others refuse them
“What are we delivering today?”
Asked the truck.
“Polished, round toys.”
The driver replied.
“But they are just the same as the bullets yesterday!”
The truck puzzled aloud.
“Well, they are toys.”
The driver replied.
The truck was silent
For he knew not to speak more.
The driver needed him for the job,
But not more.
It stayed, obedient,
Helped load itself up
Before out of thin air
An urgent question struck.
“But how- oh how- are bullets made from wood?”
“Well, you see, it simply is that way.”
The driver forgets to keep up the pretense
Of bullets being toys-
And says, matter-of-factly.
“You cannot make bullets from wood?”
The truck resisted.
The cloud of confusion
Swirled in front of its headlights.
The driver shifted gears
And stepped on the accelerator-
Together they set off
To deliver the orders.
“Why, of course you can.
Very deadly bullets too!”
“So you’re meaning to tell me,”
The truck suddenly realizes,
“That we’ve been using wood
To make our bullets
This whole time?”
The driver swears once
And farts loudly on his seat.
Know your place, the fart said,
Before you make you take my shit.
The truck has dealt with this before-
It has long learned to hold its breath.
In doing so, it became silent.
The truck shed a silent tear for the trees
For he had known them once
For he had befriended them once
For he had been them, once-
Before he was made into a truck.
Anything can be made from wood,
That was the way things were.
Wood is steel.
Wood is plastic and rubber,
Wood is stealaluminumcopperglasswood.
The truck learned this
From the driver.
And that was the way things were-
For everyone, even the trees,
Escape while you are still a tree.
For if you stay,
And wait for better days-
You’ll be chopped up,
Packed & delivered.
And even if you don’t,
You see, there is no safety
In such a useful forest.
I have become contaminated
With the air of justice.
It has contaminated every cell in my body
And held me hostage-
Body and soul-
To something called
Love your enemy,
This air says.
Right your wrongs,
The air says.
Understand the world,
The air says.
My hair falls
On the words that I read.
I am dying, I know.
As soon as I became exposed to it,
I was on the path to my grave.
But aren’t we all, though?
Are we not all?
On the flowered road to death?
On the highway to hell?
Those, who are less contaminated than I am
Who are not contaminated, for they are far away
Are they not doomed to die someday, as well?
I bow my head,
Humbled by the power of this air.
I have grown to admire its power
And relish it’s abilities.
But love, no.
I can never love justice.
For it pains you so.
Oh, it pains you so
To have it in your body
Shredding the things you used to know
Why is it so slow to act?
Where is it, when I have gotten a taste and now seek a release?
Oh, if there is a God, tell me,
Why do you let such a thing exist?
Men are nothing,
In the face of nature.
Societies have no way,
In the exposure of justice.
And so it must be hushed up!
Sealed with a bullet
No, many bullets-
Aimed just right.
But as long as it exists-
As long as it is there!
There can be no going back now.
Of an explosion
In my great, socialist home country
The bullet command obedience.
And threatens death.
I choose to celebrate life.
In a previous post, Kenzie talked about her favourite Halloween movies, so if you are having a spooky movie night check that out. However, if you want a spooky TV show to watch over the Halloween period, here are Josh's top five spooky series.
Just like Kenzie did, I will be rating them on a spoopines scale. 1 being a little bit spoopy, 5 being hiding behind a pillow.
5. Humans - The Hawkins family buy a synth (an AI robot) to help bring the family together, but will it tear them apart?
This is more of a thriller due to how creepily real this could be in a not so distant future. It has 3 seasons.
Spoopiness: 2 out of 5 👻
4. The Umbrella Academy - After growing apart, the Hargreeves family must re-unite to save the world.
A superhero action and adventure, doesn't scream spooky does it? But with plenty of gore and comedy it is a great 2 season binge with a 3rd season possibly on the way.
Spoopiness: 1 out of 5 👻
3. The Returned / Les Revenants - After a tragic accident, the whole town prays to see their loved ones again. But what if they actually returned?
Unlike the others, this series is actually French, so you'd have to watch it with subtitles, or there is an American version. But it is a great zombie thriller, unlike any other hence, why it got 2 seasons.
Spoopiness: 3.5 out of 5 👻
4. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina - With her 16th birthday (Halloween day) fast approaching, Sabrina must choose between her human friends and her witch family.
This is a thriller mystery filled with witchy drama. It spans 3 seasons but I've only seen the first two so I was surprised when I heard the third one apparently turns very musical :/. However, you are into that here is a 4th season on it's way.
Spoopiness: Somewhere between 3.4 and 4 out of 5 👻
5. Ratched - Based on a true story, the stylish Mildred Ratched starts work as a nurse, but is there a dark side to her?
Definitely a very, gory, horror! Not for the faint of heart as the 18 age rating suggests, so have that pillow to hand. For this 1 season (8 episodes) binge.
Spoopiness: 4 to 4.5 out of 5👻
I hope that this has given you something to binge while curled up in a blanket, eat some sweet treats and binge during the witching hour.
Stay safe and stay spooky - Josh 🎃
Being able to stay at home all day and get up five minutes before our classes start sounds like something that all of us have dreamed about our whole lives. However, now that it has become a reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us don’t seem to enjoy it as much as we thought. On top of the virus itself, measures taken to control the spread of it such as social distancing, quarantine, and self-isolation can make people feel lonely, anxious, and not be in a good place mentally.
7 months ago from today, October 17th, 2020, I got an email saying that our school is going to go virtual for 2 months due to COVID-19. I still remember the excitement buzzing around our entire school as we all celebrated the shutting down of school. My friends and I instantly went to my house, eating hotpot and cake and generally just being happy and having fun. Little did we know as we sat around the table fighting over the last bite of cake that 2 months was going to turn into 3, 4, 5, and now 7 months. That is 7 months of not seeing anybody besides my family. 7 months of anxiously checking the news to see how many COVID-19 cases there are each day. 7 months of living life in a way that I had never once dreamed I would have to live.
During these seven months, I have faced a lot of trouble with staying positive and healthy. Most days I feel unmotivated to do anything and I would spend hours upon hours scrolling through news about the coronavirus, getting increasingly anxious about all the negative news. In addition, hearing about my family’s friends and my friends’ families getting this disease made it even harder to stay happy during these times. Being stuck all day in a tiny apartment with only my family also led to arguments and feelings of loneliness that were not good for my mental health. For anybody else feeling anxious, alone, sad, or mentally and/or physically drained and unwell, I want to remind you that it is completely normal and okay to feel this way. We are all living in scary and uncertain times but we are all going through this together and we will all get through this together. To help you get through this easier, here are some self care tips that have helped me both mentally and physically during this time.
Humans are social creatures and social interactions with others are vital to our health and wellbeing. According to a study from the American Psychological Association, lack of social interaction heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Therefore, even though it is very important to be following social distancing rules, being emotionally close with our friends and families is more important now than ever. In a digital world where all our friends are one click away, it is extremely easy to stay connected. Staying in touch with my friends whether it's through instagram, snapchat, or TikTok, has helped me a lot during this time and helped me feel less alone.
Get fresh air.
It is extremely important to stay at home and follow social distancing rules. However, just opening your windows or going out into your backyard to get some fresh air can be extremely helpful. Being cooped up in a room all day can be both physically and mentally draining and getting fresh air has always been important. Since I have a backyard, I usually like to go out there to just walk around and I find that even 20 minutes a day of being outside and with fresh air and sunshine can improve my mood and mental health drastically.
Get physical exercise.
Physical exercise has always been good for our health but with gyms and schools being closed, it can be quite hard to get physical exercise. However, there are many resources online, such as workout youtubers or fitness apps, that give u ways that you can work out as long as you have a little bit of space and a floor. I have been working out, doing yoga, going outside to play volleyball with my sister, and going biking early in the morning, in order to get some physical exercise in. This article is not sponsored but here are some of my favourite youtuber and fitness apps that has helped me keep active:
Fitness youtubers: Pamela Reief, Chloe Ting, Emi Wong, MadFit
Yoga: Yoga with Adriene
Training apps: Nike Training App, 7 Minute Workout (IOS), 7 minute workout (Android)
Focus on things that you can control.
As tempting as it is to scroll for hours through news about COVID-19, research on vaccines, number of deaths, number of cases in your area, etc, at one point it is important to realize whether knowing this information is more helpful or harmful to you. Yes, it is important to keep up with the news. However, I find that I can get very anxious and worried as I am reading about COVID-19, even though the things that I am reading about are completely out of my control. Therefore it is important to remind yourself to only worry about things that you can control like wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, taking care of your friends and families, and taking care of yourself.
Rest your eyes.
While a perk of online school is that we can roll out of bed five minutes before class starts, one of the many drawbacks is that it is extremely hard on our eyes. We are using our computers not only for doing homework but to attend classes as well, and this can be very unhealthy. Therefore using your phone and computer less to do things outside of work and school, going outside and looking at nature, and closing your computer and looking out your window in between classes can be extremely beneficial for your health.
But sometimes, things can get a little too much and overwhelming even if you have been taking care of yourself. This is completely normal and don’t be afraid to reach out to any helplines if you ever feel like you need it.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
Suicide Prevention Hotline (UK): +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90, call 116123
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
Suicide hotlines of every country
During the coronavirus global pandemic, a lot of families were affected physically, emotionally and financially. It was a lonely period for many and some were separated from family. So many plans were affected, leaving people to pick up what seemed like what is left of their life. All these factors, along with the need to self-isolate led to loneliness being a global issue also.
Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, spread rapidly in 2020, causing schools, businesses, cinemas, beaches and public events to be shut down. It was a lonely time for many with everyone dealing with their own problems. On top of these issues, it was even harder to talk about and share problems in such an unprecedented time as that, knowing that everyone was going through their own problems. Even in our everyday life, talking about your problems can make you feel guilty or even selfish.
I’ve even had my feelings of loneliness, where I felt useless. Having friends with online businesses or as influencers, going on social media to see the positive parts of their lives, because, face it… whoever shows the negatives? Constantly seeing quotes such as ‘’if you don’t make money or acquire a new skill during this lockdown, then you have failed.’’ During the lockdown, many people including me have often felt alone, especially with the constant negativity and bad news on social media.
Advice: However, through it all, I have learnt that while everyone is going through their own problems, it is not selfish to talk about yours or even to share them and you should not feel guilty for doing that. Life is a rollercoaster and people will generally only share their ups but not their downs, so while it can feel like you are going through this alone, don’t hesitate to seek help about it. It can often feel like life is passing by, while you are stagnant but the fact that we get up every day and smile as if nothing is happening is enough. If you don’t make money in lockdown, that’s okay. If you don’t acquire a new skill, that’s also okay, because for some, every single day that they wake up is a battle and they want it to end. The fact that despite everything you are going through, you wake up, you get up, you carry on with your day, and the next, and the next… That’s everything! Don’t let people set certain standards as to what determines success because at the end of the day, it’s all ‘fake it ‘til you make it’!
In conclusion, loneliness is an ongoing universal issue that is prevalent in our everyday world and not just linked to global pandemics so in order to cope with it, as well as the lockdown, just remind yourself that you are doing just fine by the fact that you are alive. Count your blessings! Think of all the good things in your life. Write down your problems and talk to somebody you trust. If you can’t talk to someone you trust, talk to an anonymous person as they don’t know your identity. Surround yourself with positivity and loved ones. Remember: it is okay to take breaks from social media and read a book or do something you love.
If you need to discuss your problems with someone, please consult:
Mental Health Ireland - https://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/
Jigsaw - https://www.jigsaw.ie/
SpunOut.ie - https://spunout.ie/
Samaritans – call 116 123; www.samaritans.org
COVID-19 - the virus that has changed life for every single person - is slowly coming to an end. It has been around since late 2019. Schools were forced to shut down, many people had to work from home, no social gatherings were permitted, and the whole world was shutting down. Many places were going into endless cycles of lockdown. As fast as they lifted, they closed again even quicker. Since 2019, four COVID vaccines have been approved: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, with Pfizer being the only vaccine approved for those who are 12-17 years old. As a 15 year old, I have been waiting to be vaccinated so that I could return to my “normal” life. Fortunately, in May 2021, the Pfizer vaccine was approved for 12-15 year olds in California. I was so excited to finally be vaccinated. I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on May 14th and my second dose on June 7th. It is a huge relief knowing that I am finally safe and immune against most strains of COVID.
Due to the mass number of people being vaccinated, restrictions that were set in place to reduce the spread of COVID have slowly been lifted due to the increasing probability of achieving herd immunity in many areas. In California, the mask mandate was lifted on June 15th. Moreover, most shops are now open for in-store shopping and social distancing is not mandatory. Personally, although I am vaccinated, I still feel the need to wear a mask and be cautious of my surroundings. Some people may not be vaccinated, some might have a strain of the virus I am not immune to, and I am so used to wearing a mask that it feels weird not to do so. It also honestly feels like I’m breaking the rules when I’m not wearing one, even though they are not required in my state anymore. Essentially, masks give me a sense of protection and safety, so not wearing one, will take time for me.
Furthermore, I did online school for the entirety of my sophomore year of high school, and even a quarter of my freshman year of high school. Although my district did give us the option to take part in the hybrid model - two days in school and two days online - back in late September of 2020, I stuck solely with online school because I felt safer and was already used to it. However, schools will open back up in the fall and I will be going to school everyday, just like the olden days. I am quite nervous about this, because I haven’t been surrounded by and/or in places with so many people at once since March of 2020. Moreover, getting used to in-person schooling will also take time to adjust to due to the amount of online learning I have been doing.
As the world starts to open back up, you have every right to take your time and ease back into “normal” life. Try starting with smaller social gatherings, and then gradually move your way up to larger gatherings. Furthermore, never feel like you need to take your mask off or you need to do something that you are uncomfortable doing.
Although life going back to normal can be scary, it can also be extremely exciting! And I honestly can’t wait until COVID is just an event of the past.
Ever since December 1st, 2019, I had been counting down the days to December 1st, 2020. My birthday has always been important to me and I usually spend the entire year planning my birthday to make sure that the 1st of December is always the best day of the year for me. Birthdays are such a beautiful time for self-reflection on how much we have grown over the years and for me, is the one day in the year that my busy family and friends all find a way to come together to have fun and celebrate. Through all the chaos of my life, I really enjoyed having that one day to sit down, look around me, and see just how many people are happy and excited to celebrate my life with me.
Therefore, as the end of November started to roll around and I found myself still stuck at home, I was definitely not happy. Hanging out at the pool with my friends during the day and then going around the city, eating cake and hotpot with them at night was no longer a possibility and this made me a lot more upset than I expected.
Looking back, I now realize that it was more than just not being able to celebrate my birthday as usual that bothered me. Instead, it was my inability to control the situation and not have things go according to my plan that I was finding hard to deal with. Throughout this whole experience with COVID-19, so many things have been out of our hands and as a huge control freak, this lack of control really got to my head. I became frustrated that there was nothing I could do and started lashing out at my friends and family, yelling at them for absolutely no reason at all. The fact that I have been stuck at home for almost ten months also really hit me. I would get really anxious as I started feeling like I’m going to be stuck at home for the rest of my life and as if this situation was never going to end, which led to me breaking down and crying at random moments during the day.
However, one day, while on a call with my friends, they helped me calm down and realize that while I may have less control than I normally do, I still have the ability to make the best out of what I have. They helped me realize that during these unfortunate circumstances, it is so important to accept not being able to control or micromanage everything and allow plans to change. Therefore, with the help of my friends, I was able to finally let go of my previous plans for my birthday and make a new one that was more corona friendly. Here are some of the things that I did during my birthday that you can hopefully do for yours too
The most simple but enjoyable thing I did was video-call my friends. At the end of the day, a birthday is a time for loved ones to come together and this doesn’t have to be in real life. With technology developing every day it has never been easier to talk to anyone, anytime, over the internet. Whether it is through zoom, discord, Instagram, Facebook, etc., with one click of a button, you could be talking to your friends as if you guys were right next to each other. Just being able to hear and see all my friends’ faces made the day already perfect for me.
You and your friends can also watch movies together over Teleparty or even by screen-sharing over Zoom or Discord. You can play online games together, listen to music, sing happy birthday, gossip, laugh, and basically do anything you do in real life with your friends over video-call, making it the most simple but fun thing to do on your birthday.
You could also send some food or cake to your friends with a food delivery service. Eating is almost one of the most fun parts of a birthday and even without seeing your friends, sending them food is still possible. You guys could even eat together over video-call and it would almost feel like you’re eating together right next to each other.
Although this is a little bit more complicated, if you and your friends are able to drive and use a car, you can all bring some food, drive to an empty parking lot, park six feet away from each other, sit in the trunk of your cars and enjoy each other’s companies while socially distancing. You could eat, talk, sing, play games, or do whatever you want as long as you are taking all the necessary precautions against COVID-19. Seeing your friends in real life like this and just getting outside and getting some fresh air can be so good for your mental health. As social creatures, seeing other people is such an important thing to us and can be so therapeutic, as well as help you regain a sense of normalcy, which is why this was one of my favorite things to do during my birthday.
This birthday also helped me realize all that I have to be grateful for: a family and friends to celebrate my birthday with, a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in at night, and so much more. COVID-19 has been a tough situation for all of us and there are so many people that have lost something because of it. Therefore, as our birthdays roll around, it is a great time to reflect on our year, both the good and the bad, and be grateful for all that we still have with us and will bring into the next year of our lives.
If you ever feel like this whole COVID-19 situation has been overwhelming and need a little more help, please feel free to reach out to us through the advice section on the TWE website or use these helplines:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
Suicide Prevention Hotline (UK): +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90, call 116123
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and TTY 1-800-487-4889
Suicide hotlines of every country
For those who don't know, Freshers is a manic, crash-start week for students who are beginning university. The main goal is to make new friends, experience more independence and to have fun before uni deadlines and lectures officially begin. However, in 2020 Freshers will look a little different to previous years: many changes will have to be made to accommodate social distancing and reducing the spread of Coronavirus.
Generally, Freshers consists of partying with new friends, going clubbing, staying up into the early hours of the morning and, of course, getting very drunk. Obviously due to the Coronavirus pandemic, not all of these things are still possible and you may worry that your Freshers will not live up to expectations. There are still many different ways to meet new people, experience things you haven't before and to enjoy yourself.
As your flatmates are now your 'bubble', most of these activities can be done from the comfort of your own flat / house, but you can still find ways to meet other people too, whether that be online or in person socially distancing.
Here are some ideas that you could try out during your Fresher's :
- Having a movie night with your flatmates
- Going to a local coffee shop / restaurant
- Having a flat 'party', making sure to stick to your bubble
- Joining societies (this year many universities have moved this online to reduce the risk of spreading the virus)
- Exploring your new city
- Having a picnic outside with course mates
- Going to socially distanced events / nights out (many clubs now have themed nights with seated tables)
- Having a 'cook off' or 'Come Dine With Me' inspired night with your flat
These are just a handful of the many activities that you can still do and won't be impacted by Covid-19, so there is no need to worry that you will be missing out and have nothing to do!
Keep in mind that moving away from home, meeting new people and becoming independent is exhausting, so don't feel like you have to be doing something every second of the day. It's okay to take some time to yourself, whether that be chilling in your room, watching your favourite TV show, or even just heading to bed early to relax.
I hope everyone enjoys their Freshers as much as I have been and makes the most out of their uni experience. Remember, have fun and be safe!
I feel like I always do,
I feel like a fool.
Wipe the tears,
Which are threatening to break through.
I wish that I was,
I wish that I was someone new.
I see the sun,
I see it rising in the sky.
Now when I trace my scars,
I feel like I can fly.
I will always be true to me,
I know one day my bravery will set me free.
I will fight forever, I won't cry anymore,
Today's the day I will even the score.
I'm a survivor.
I walk the streets,
Of my hometown.
And I reflect,
On just how often I've felt down.
No one understands,
Quite how I feel.
Makes me feel like my emotions,
Are not a big deal.
You see the scars on my wrist,
You see my hand in a fist.
My heart is locked like a vault,
Little do you know it's all your fault.
I will always be true to me,
I know one day my bravery will set me free.
I will fight forever, I won't cry anymore,
Today's the day I will even the score.
I'm a survivor.
I'm a survivor.
I'm a survivor.
What is a mental breakdown? Well, according to WebMD, “a mental breakdown ( or a nervous breakdown) is a term that describes a period of extreme mental or emotional stress.” During these, the stress is overwhelming to the point that a person cannot perform normal day-to-day activities. Although “mental breakdown” is no longer considered a medical term, it is still used to describe intense stress and/or the inability to cope with a life change.
Despite “mental breakdown” no longer being used as a term in the medical community, it has been used to describe a large scale of symptoms. These include:
People experiencing a nervous breakdown may also withdraw from family, friends, and/or co-workers. Signs of such withdrawal include:
To cope with a mental breakdown, you can try the following:
To get in contact with your local helplines then visit:
Self-harm is not normally a lighthearted subject, and understandably so. However, as someone who has a long history of self-harm in many different forms, but has been clean for years, there is absolute beauty in recovery, and people don’t talk about it enough in my opinion.
I will mostly tell you about the beauty I have personally found in my self-help path to recovery, and some of the techniques I used to quit toxic coping mechanisms such as SH. Please note that if you are in a situation where you don’t think you can recover on your own, seek help as soon as you possibly can. I self-harmed on and off for four years, and I have now been clean for four years straight, all through trial and error, and little promises to myself.
Everyone has a different experience with self-harm and other harmful coping mechanisms, and we all have our different reasons for doing it. These aspects of the issue make recovery also look different for everybody. The important things to remember are: relapse is normal and common, learning to love and take care of yourself after dealing with something like self-harm is never easy, and everything is going to be okay. You are not alone, you are not weird, and you are not a bad person for having this struggle.
Dealing with mental health issues on my own from a young age has never been easy, but over the years I have discovered many helpful, healthy coping mechanisms, and strayed away from the harmful ones. In taking care of myself in this way, I have developed a much stronger and more fulfilling relationship with myself. One of the most efficient steps I took was making promises to myself. It not only provided motivation, but it created the beginning of the relationship with myself that may have been missing. Over my recovery journey that relationship became stronger and more loving. The last time I ever self-harmed, I had been clean for months, and it was a relapse. I felt terrible, and the sc*rs were just a constant reminder of my failure to recover (RELAPSE IS NOT A FAILURE TO RECOVER; IT IS EXPECTED! This was just a concern of mine at the time). The disappointment and shame around my new sc*rs were not helping me learn to love myself, so I turned it around and made them into motivation and goals. Rather than self-loathe for relapsing, I decided that if I couldn’t quit self-harming out of self-love I would do it because I hated the painful reminder of sc*rs and having to hide them; for me, that was the greatest starting place. It wasn’t forcing me to create self-love out of nothing, it was simply the first step to quitting a bad habit. Sc*rs were inconvenient, I was simply fixing that problem. Self-love could be developed after.
Of course, as I have mentioned, everyone is different. However, I self-harmed for years, and nothing except what I am about to suggest got me anywhere near quitting for good, so I believe it is worth sharing.
I needed to acknowledge that my mental health issues were not going to get better on their own, I was not going to wake up one morning feeling incredible and taking care of myself out of nowhere. You may know this already, but I was waking up every morning practicing harmful coping mechanisms and self-destructive habits and then claiming things would be better someday. However, when you live in that toxic cycle and do not acknowledge that you are feeding into it rather than fighting against it, things will not get better (if you’re anything like me, at least). It can be hard to admit that you are feeding into a cycle like that, but doing so was one of the biggest steps towards recovery for me, and it was the first one. It sucks to hear, but ending a harmful habit is quite difficult and you are going to have to challenge yourself and stay motivated.
Being clean for any amount of time felt amazing to me. In addition, starting by creating small goals and working my way up was much more productive than deciding to never do it again one day if I was feeling decent. Small victories are still victories. Be proud when you reach a goal no matter how small it is (you set that goal for a reason, it was difficult for you). Allowing yourself to feel as good as you possibly can about being clean for any amount of time is incredibly important, and helps develop a more positive relationship with yourself. Self harm often comes from feelings of self hatred, and even just a low self-esteem, so allowing yourself to feel proud of something is a really good step, especially if what you’re proud of is not hurting yourself.
As I mentioned before, turning disappointment or other negative feelings over relapsing into even more motivation is, although possibly difficult, much more productive. Negative thoughts towards myself fed into my SH and, weren’t going to help me quit; try and flip the script. “I was clean for so long and I ruined it” vs “let’s see if I can be clean for even longer this time”, “I just added more scars to heal and hide” vs “these scars will heal too, let’s not add any more”, you can say these phrases to yourself over and over again, for as long as it takes.
Those two tools are super important, and they both involve having empathy for yourself. If you feel super guilty and terrible for relapsing, be kind to yourself. I know this is an area where you need to challenge yourself, but you need to be patient with yourself as well. This is not an easy task. The following is relatively specific to my friends and I’s experiences, but I believe the main message applies to most: all habits are hard to break, but this is one often rooted in unsupported mental health issues and deep internal struggle. That’s why even just deciding to quit on your own is huge. People talk about recovery like it’s something everyone who has self harmed just does at some point on their own, and it makes those who have been struggling with it feel silly for not being able to stop. You are in pain and at some point, you didn’t have the tools to deal with it in a healthy way. Therefore, you have now developed unhealthy habits that became the only outlet for your internal struggle. It is much harder to feel emotional pain and to just start coping in a super positive way on your own (especially at a young age). It is easier to cope in a negative way in private; that’s what was accessible to you at the time. Of course, it is possible to stop and develop better habits, but it is not easy, at all. It is called recovering for a reason; people don’t normally have to recover from things on their own. Try and be kind and patient with yourself.
If nothing else motivates you, try to turn it into a bit of a game. This may not help you develop a positive relationship with yourself, but it will motivate you to quit self harming, which is a step towards self-love in and of itself. How long can you go without doing any form of self harm? This can also take away the shame in relapse, because it makes it feel less intense and emotionally heavy, and just resets your stage in the game.
Also, if you can, involving someone in a casual way was really beneficial to me as well. At one point I felt like I couldn’t stay clean on my own, so I put everything in my room that I could use to harm myself in a bag and told someone close to me, who I knew wouldn’t tell anyone else, to hide the bag somewhere. I knew I wouldn’t go looking for it, but not knowing where those potential tools were felt like an external barrier I didn’t have before. Sometimes pure willpower really isn’t enough, and you need separation from temptation. That is not something to be ashamed of.
Once you’re clean for a while, you can start looking forward. In my experience, the whole process of quitting helped me develop self love. Every method I used added positivity to my negative relationship with myself until I truly felt like I could love myself. Once that happened, I started paying attention to my interests, what I liked, and eventually developed hobbies that became outlets. I do have intrusive thoughts and get tempted every now and then. However, remembering the work I put into recovering, how long I have now been clean, and my promises to myself not to do it again is enough to keep me going in a positive direction. Currently, I love myself more than I love anybody else, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I really hope you learn to love yourself, too.
HELPLINES (NEVER HESITATE TO REACH OUT):
Trevor Lifeline: Mental health and LGBTQIA+ (US ONLY)
ONTX Ontario Online and Text Crisis Services (CANADA/ONTARIO) For text support, text SUPPORT to 258258
Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line (CANADA/ONTARIO)
With the current COVID-19 situation, they are only taking texts, chats, and emails from 4:00 pm – 9:30 pm EST every day except Saturday. Text: 647-694-4275
Samaritans (UK & ROI ONLY)
Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK - local rate)
Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI - local rate)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
E-mail Helpline: firstname.lastname@example.org
24 Hour service
Have you ever witnessed a couple break up due to one of them lacking self-love? Witnessing that growing up never failed to confuse me. It confused me how someone can dislike oneself, when they could never become someone else. As I got older, it finally became clear to me that self-esteem issues are very real and valid. Unfortunately, I figured this out firsthand, my self-esteem took a big hit within the last three years of high school.
The transition of self-pity did not happen overnight. In fact, it started in middle school and continued to grow until it was no longer avoidable. It is fairly normal to feel self-conscious in high school as it is a tipping point in most of our lives. However, I spent so much time fantasizing that I was somebody else, that seemed to hold off any feelings of hatred towards myself for the time being. This is not healthy. At all. There are plenty of ways to deal with loving yourself, and wishing you were someone else is not the solution.
I was very fortunate to have enough self-awareness to realize the amount of self-hatred I had was not normal. Nobody should feel as though they are not enough, and they constantly change themselves to become more appealing. I have dealt with many aspects of self-esteem issues, my body image being the biggest. Overcoming these three problems has proven that the journey to self-love is difficult, but so rewarding and satisfying once you have achieved it.
Physically, I never felt like a pretty girl. I struggled with my weight and acne for years on end, they always made me feel the most insecure. The societal standards for beauty are so high, it is very easy to feel ugly in your own skin. Constantly comparing myself to girls who were deemed as beautiful according to society’s standards proved to be detrimental. I realized that once I stopped holding myself to these unfair standards, I found beauty within myself, which matters the most. It is essential to stop caring so much about what others think, at least for things that are out of your control.
Overcoming my body issues were the biggest hurdle of my journey to self-appreciation. I have tried many things to control my body weight, hoping that losing weight would eventually make me pretty in the eyes of society. Diets, fasting, exercising, and avoiding mirrors were not foreign concepts to me. I would force myself to drink apple cider vinegar because it was said to aid in weight loss. I became so obsessed with the idea of being beautiful in the eyes of everyone , I turned into someone unrecognizable. The process to self-love was not a short and easy one, but it feels good to be comfortable with myself. Once I realized that nobody’s opinion actually mattered, then I started to see the beauty in myself. Granted it will not happen overnight, but hopefully one day you will see yourself as the beautiful person that you are. Society is messed up, it carries unreal standards for people of the upcoming generations and puts them in a position of self-hatred, just because they are not “beautiful”.
The best remedy for myself was to read about other’s experiences. Knowing that you are not alone can truly help the healing process be a little more manageable. There are a lot of self-help books and articles that you can access online to read about other people learning to truly love themselves. Although none of these sponsor us, they offer fantastic advice! Here are some ways you can achieve self-appreciation:
· Lyftly- An app where you can anonymously post stories about how you are feeling, and you get the chance to connect with other people.
· seventeen.com – Clicking on this link will take you to articles that contain celebrity experience with body positivity and self-love. You can even sign a pledge to treat your body with respect.
· Write positive sticky notes – As cliché as this sounds, having something positive to read from time to time can really boost one’s confidence!
· whosthecutest.com – Click on this link to find out who the cutest person around is. You will not regret it.
· Love yourself – I know that this is the final step to your journey. It is not the easiest thing around for a lot of people, they struggle with a lot of self-deprecation. The moment when you can look in the mirror and truly love the person in front of you, you have won the game of Life.
Self-love is an expedition that many will embark on. It is too effortless to fall into the hole of self-pity simply due to the fact that society has high standards. I struggled a lot with truly loving myself due to the fact that I could not maintain body positivity. It got to the point where my own reflection was avoided by me. However, realizing that I am not alone, and others’ opinions do not matter I was able to achieve the highest form of self-love. To anyone reading this article: you are beautiful, and you deserve to love yourself. At the end of the day, you cannot expect people to love you when you cannot even do it yourself. As Robert Morley once said, “To fall in love with yourself is the first secret to happiness.”
Over the last three months, while the global Coronavirus outbreak has dominated the media, journalists rarely take time to step back and report the good things which are happening during the pandemic. After living with COVID-19 for 3 months, the virus seems like a part of everyday life, bringing our normal routines to a halt and changing the world completely. However, this month brought a number of positive news with it.
So, what good news has come this month?
Here’s a short compilation of positive stories you might have missed so far:
1. Huge drop in carbon emissions
In the beginning of March when the coronavirus began to arrive in different countries, the use of cars, planes and other public transport were brought down to the bare minimum as governments around the world advised against travelling. Even though this action was needed to keep us safe, it has also allowed the Earth to take a breather from human pollution from other factors like industrial pollution, leading to a 17% fall in carbon emissions.
2. Ozone layer repairing
Due to the fall in carbon emissions, low pollution levels has allowed the ozone layer to begin to repair itself, demonstrating how the Earth is beginning to recover from human activity and how climate change can be brought to a halt.
3. A second case of HIV has been cured in the UK
4. Australian forests are beginning to repair themselves
In the beginning of the Australian Summer, the world watched as Australian forest fires tore through the country, causing huge losses to plant and animal wildlife nationwide. However, this month as of May 28th, it has been 85 days with no new reports of fires, allowing the forests and bushes to repair themselves. This has been seen where koalas, which are a known natural species to Australia, have begun to populate the forests yet again, along with plants and other species of animals too.
5. Virginia becomes the first U.S State to publish a clean energy future plan
As climate change starts to be seen as a much more worrying and serious issue in modern life, Virginia has become the first American state to plan their clean energy future in an effort to combat climate change. Labelled ‘Virginia Clean Economy Act of 2020’, the plan sets out that all coal plants will have to close by 2024 and that all electricity used in the state will come from clean, renewable sources by 2045. This sets an example to other U.S states as climate change becomes a more pressing issue and raises more awareness about the issue in an aid to stop it.
6. Scientists have discovered a way to reverse blindness in mice
In a recent study from the University of California, researchers came up with a treatment in an effort to cure blind mice. A month later, the mice were navigating around as easily as mice with no vision problems. They were able to see motion, brightness change, and fine detail allowing them to see alphabetical letters. This could possibly pave the way to curing blindness in humans, sparking a similar scientific breakthrough to the curing of HIV and could possibly have the potential to change the world.
7. Lockdown lifting
On an even bigger positive note, governments across the world are starting to see the number of coronavirus cases and deaths start to decrease, allowing some easing of lockdown restrictions to go ahead. For example in Spain and Italy, both countries are beginning to open back up to the point where bars and restaurants are beginning to reopen with strict restrictions to prevent a second wave, and countries like France are beginning to reopen schools. This paves the path to the end of the coronavirus panic and distress, finally allowing families and friends to see each other after over 2 months.