Thursday 22 September 2016

And we're back.

Okay, I'm going to try to not be terrible at this again. It's good to be back on the radar! So much has happened since I've last posted so i'd better start trying to get everyone up to speed.

Hello! I'm still here. Yes I know I haven't posted in almost 12 months, yes I know I suck. I'm going to do better in future I promise! A lot of things have happened in the last few months, things that I hadn't totally come to terms with, so I found it quite difficult to write. However, in the next coming weeks I'll be posting regularly about the things I've been up to and sharing some experience with you all.

I suppose I should start with leaving De Montfort University in June. That was a tough choice and admittedly at the time I was completely unsure if it was the right one, considering I was pretty much on track to nail every class. I've spent a lot of time wondering whether I completely messed up, but the truth of it is that I was not happy. Sure, I loved my friends, I loved having my own space, I loved being part of my Acapella group, but I got to a point where I hated the city. I hated the best part of my course and I didn't see the point in any of it. I was miserable and paying £9000 a year to maintain that level of sadness. Pointless right? Seems like a no brainer, and yet after leaving and moving away to start a fresh in a totally new city, I couldn't shake this feeling that I had screwed up colossally.

Why? Why did stopping the one thing that was making me unhappy make me feel even worse? Because I had known nothing but the education system for the best part of my life, and I had been trained to believe that I had to have that education to be successful because otherwise I was nothing. I'd had it drilled into my head for so long that a degree was the key to my happiness, but being at uni depressed me. I felt like a failure for not "just getting on with it" as so many people advised me because "it would all be worth it in the end" but the truth was, I didn't even want it. I went to uni because my school made me fill out an application form  the second they realised I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life at 17/18.

 After leaving, there was an immediate relief, and then the fear of real life set in. For a really long time nothing had any purpose to it. I just existed. I switched off without realising. It was almost like I left everything that made me "Kershia". All my ambition, every goal. In my mind they were now unattainable because I had chosen to leave. I couldn't be excited about being in a new city, I couldn't be excited about being 21 and having my whole life ahead of me because in my mind, it was already over and I might as well settle for mediocrity. I cooked, I cleaned, I slept. I fell into a monotonous and depressed cycle and in my mind all I could think of was that everyone who had ever doubted me was right. I failed.

Depression sneaks up on you and it's a real bitch. You don't realise it half the time and that makes it so much harder to pull yourself up out of a slump. I stopped noticing all the good things in my life and eventually everything I saw was through a negative lens. Everything felt impossible. I had every opportunity staring me in the face and all I could think about was how much I hated being here, and how much I missed Leicester yet when I visited it didn't feel like home, not really. I didn't even see the effect that my behaviour was having on the people closest to me which meant that when I jeopardised my personal relationships, I didn't even see it.

It took almost losing the closest person to me to make me realise I didn't know who I was anymore. That I'd given up all of my ambitions for no reason other than I thought that's what I had to do to be happy I had become a different person, forgetting that actually I was still good at things even though I wasn't at university anymore. In that moment I decided that degree or no degree, no matter what was thrown in my way I would accomplish every goal I had set for myself. Sure, it might have been easier with a piece of paper that says "Hey, look at how good I can do this thing!" but it's not necessary. In realising that, I finally stopped the one thing standing in my way, myself. I am simply taking a different path to the same destination.

The biggest thing I've learned in the last 6 months is that it's not institutions that define you, it's not people. It's not relationships. It's not family. It's not disability. It's not mental health. It's your aspirations, the belief in your own potential and the realisation that in life you have limitless possibilities. It sounds corny, but when one door closes another door really does open. It just took me a little longer to find the next bloody door.

As always I'm contactable by email or Twitter @itsonlykershia to talk to anyone who has had similar experiences! Until next time!

Wednesday 12 August 2015

How do I cope?

After a really overwhelming response to my last post I wanted to say thank you so much to everyone that read it and messaged me with words of love and support. It really means so much to me and to think that there are other people who took something out of my experience is a really wonderful feeling. I've been in contact with people across the globe about my experiences, providing advice and support where I can and if anything I said helped even one person then I'm thankful I could be there. I've had a lot of people asking me how I personally cope with my depression, so I thought I should do a separate post with some of the little things that help me! Some of them are things I try and do every day, some of them every so often.

Keep a tidy room
My room is my sanctuary, It's my work space, the place where I like to relax, the place where every personal thing about me is kept. I spend 90% of my time in my room so it's important to try and keep it relatively clean and tidy. Suffering from depression can often make you feel like you haven't got control over a lot of the things in your life, for me having a clean room makes me feel like something is in order and that can often mean the difference between a good day and a bad day. Having a clear desk where I can sit and work rather than laying down on my bed means I'll also probably be more productive with my day rather than just browsing the internet for hours and that's something else that makes me feel good. Don't underestimate the power of a clean room!

Write things down
I find that when I'm feeling really low, it's good to get my feelings and thoughts down on a page. It doesn't really matter how you go about it, it can be random words, poetry, a diary, anything you like. I prefer to write letters. When I was young I started to write letters to a person I made up, I liked that there was someone I could 'talk' to that wouldn't judge me or comment on what I was saying. I like that I can just write whatever I want and once it's off my chest I feel a lot better for it. Often some of the inspiration for my creative writing comes from ideas I've jotted down about how I was feeling which in away is turning negative into something positive! It's 100% something I will continue to recommend to anyone who asks for advice,

Talk to people
I've learned the hard way that one of the worst things you can do when you're feeling low is cut yourself off from people. At the time it might feel like the best thing, you might think that you're a burden to other people or that other people can't be trusted. I tried very hard to push people away from me so that they wouldn't have to deal with me and my problems. You might not even realise that you're distancing yourself! I can't stress enough how important it is that you talk to other people. It doesn't have to be a huge group of people, it can be one friend that you occasionally chat to or meet for coffee. Have a person that you know you can talk to should you need to. I still find it hard to trust people with certain things but I'm learning that by trusting other people with this, you don't have to cope with things on your own and your feelings aren't so overwhelming. There are also websites like which allow you to talk to complete strangers about how you are feeling which might help if you're looking for a complete outsiders perspective!

Breathe deeply and count
This might sound a little silly, but it really helps me. Recently I had a day where every possible thing that could have gone wrong happened and at multiple points all I wanted to do was panic or burst into tears. Instead, I took a really deep breath and let it out slowly, counting in my head as I did so and repeating as necessary. Doing this helped me keep relatively calm all day and even though the things that were happening were bad, my reaction was certainly a lot better that it would have been had I not taken a moment to breathe. Having a history of self harm has taught me that being able to stay calm in situations where your initial reaction is to panic helps you make more rational decisions. Instead of reaching for a short term fix, keeping as calm as possible helps me think about a long term solution.

Get some fresh air
There is something about fresh air and natural light that makes everything feel a little better. Even if it's just opening the curtains and cracking the window open. If you've been hiding away in your room for a while it can really make a difference. Getting rid of any musty room smells and breathing deeply will do wonders, going out for a walk can really help too. Exercise releases endorphins which are a natural stress fighter so it can make you feel better! A ten minute walk can make you feel better for a couple of hours, it really helps! It might sound really daunting at first, especially if you don't like being outside around people, the idea is to start small. A 10 minute walk around the block can soon become an hour walking through the park. Baby steps are okay!

Challenge your own negativity
This is something I still find difficult, especially when things seem really bleak. The idea is to try and change the way that you think about yourself and about life in general and for a person who is depressed this is really hard. I've found that the first thing to do is to allow myself to be imperfect, to accept that those imperfections are okay. I tend to make unrealistic goals for myself and then when I can't achieve them I beat myself up about it and stress about it a lot because I can't do it or I've messed it up. I'm slowly realising that it's okay that I'm not achieving all of the big things right now, instead I look at all the little things I have achieved for myself and I allow myself to be proud and happy for those.Nobody is perfect, so try not to hold yourself to such high standards. People make mistakes! Don't feel like you should or should not be a certain way and then get frustrated at yourself for not meeting your own standards. Try and avoid labelling yourself based on mistakes that you make, You're not a failure just because you did something out of the ordinary! 

It can be really easy to diminish the positive when you suffer from depression. If something good happens, I often think about reasons why a good thing can't possibly be happening. If I'm praised at work for example, my intitial reaction isn't 'This is great someone appreciates me!' it's more like 'I think they're joking' or 'They're just being nice'. I'm trying really hard to have more self belief and think more positively about situations, For example, if someone looks like they're enjoying my company, then I like to think that it's because I'm good company, not just because they're being polite.

Eat properly
I am still completely guilty of not doing this all the time. I often have little or no appetite or I'm absolutely starving and I want to eat everything in sight, however when I do force myself to eat at regular times I honestly feel a lot better for it. Finding the motivation to do so is difficult, but making sure you're getting vitamins and minerals in your diet makes you feel a lot better. Try and avoid skipping meals too (guilty again!) Regular eating habits can also make you feel like your in control of your life and that feeling is important when you're trying to get your life back on track.

Offer to help someone
Personally, I find that helping other people makes me feel better, it's part of the reason I write these posts! The idea that I'm doing something positive, even just lending an ear when someone needs to rant, makes me feel good. The idea that I've contributed to someone else's life in a positive way is an amazing feeling and in doing that you build trusting relationships with other people. If people feel like they can trust me, they tend to be there if I need them as well and that's really important!

Of course these are just a few of many things you can do to help yourself. I'm not by any means suggesting that you should attempt to fix it all on your own, I also had help from councillors and medication to help me start to feel better. These are just little things that help me on the road to recovery. As always, feel free to message me if you want someone to talk to about anything that I've talked about and if you have a suggestion for a post or something that you would like me to cover in more detail then please let me know!!

Monday 13 July 2015

It really will be okay.

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! It's been so long, I know. I hope that by the end of this post, you might understand why that is. As you know, my reasoning for writing these is so that I can share my personal experiences with you and as always offer help, support and advice to anyone who needs it. I there is anything I have learned in the last six months it's that there are some things you shouldn't face alone. As always, you can reach me via Email,, or via twitter @ItsOnlyKershia.

Hello my lovelies! *waves*, I'm still here! I suppose firstly I should give you all an update on what I'm up to right now before I get on to the reason behind this post. I'm still at University studying towards my English Language and Creative Writing degree, I have two years left before I graduate and get sent off into the world with my piece of paper that says 'I've done education! Employ me!' That and about £50.000 worth of debt, hooray student loans! I still work for KFC which I have now done for a grand total of 4 years and I've just about managed to stay on the sane side (though even that is debatable...). I'm still set on being a teacher one day, preferably to younger kids because I apparently have the patience of a saint when it comes to small children. I currently still help to run the University's Acapella Society, which stresses me out, takes over my life and drives me to insanity at times. I wouldn't have it any other way, I love every single one of the people in it and seeing them make great music makes it all worthwhile. Not only that, but some of them have become my closest and most trusted friends. Other than that, there's not much new with me, so I feel I should get on with this post.

The reason that this post is called 'It really will be okay' is because I have spent the last 7 months thinking that it won't be and wondering if I will ever get out of that mindset. To say that it was a really hard time for me is an understatement. Admitting this is scary, but I am very lucky to be here right now. On more than one occasion, I have thought about ending it all and on one occasion I attempted it and almost succeeded. Even writing that down in black and white is hard. I will never forget how I felt that night, to feel so lost, alone and scared of myself and yet feeling like there was no other option. I never want to feel like that again and I pray to god that none of my friends or anyone I love has to feel that way.

In January, I started to spiral out of control. My mental health deteriorated to the point where all I wanted to do was drink to forget that I was sad, for a while it made me feel better but doing so it made me feel worse in the long term. Every day became a struggle and mentally I was falling apart. I knew that around me I had people that loved me and yet I had lost so much and that was all I could focus on. The things I wanted weren't there anymore. I was an empty shell of a person, I felt nothing but pain and still tried to plaster a smile on my face for the benefit of the people around me. People would tell me that I was going to be okay and I wouldn't believe it. At first it was just horrible crippling depression, but then it got a whole lot worse.

Anxiety and depression are two things that often go hand in hand and I have suffered with both for as long as I can remember. Given the way that I was treating myself in terms of abusing alcohol and distancing myself from people, it was only a matter of time before it came back. It was gradual at first, if I felt an attack coming I would very quickly leave the room I was in (though in most scenarios, I was alone) and lock myself away until I had regulated my breathing and stopped myself from shaking and crying. Even now, I can't begin to tell you how horrible it is when that happens. I felt like I was about to pass out because I couldn't breathe. As time went on they became more frequent and I had to take time off work because it would happen unexpectedly. They became a massive burden and yet I still couldn't see a way to get over everything that had happened. I thought a lot about home, about the people that I had lost. I still don't regret the choices I made a year ago, but it sure hurts knowing that the people who you need probably aren't giving you a second thought,

Eventually I started spending a lot of time with certain people, trying to learn to trust people and open up about how I was really feeling. At first it didn't work. With my anxiety through the roof, it meant that my best friends saw a side to me I never wanted them to see. I felt weak, pathetic and somehow even more alone. I didn't want to be treated differently because I was screwed up and even though I was promised nothing would change, it did. I don't blame them for it at all, in a way it kind of made things easier. It meant I didn't have to hide so much anymore, since they had already seen the mess that I was. Still, even with friends around me, I didn't think it was possible but I got worse.

This is definitely the hardest part of this post. Those who have read the blogs before this or know me very personally know that I've struggled with self harm before and it scares me to see this finally written down, but I fell back into old habits and started to take all of the sadness and hurt out on myself. To me it became a way of punishment. I felt like I deserved to hurt after all the hurt I had caused to other people. It also became a way of control, it was an outlet that allowed me to vent my feelings without hurting anyone around me. It was a release, the pain and the act itself would calm me down somehow. At my lowest point, where I felt I was losing it completely I had this way of reminding myself that I was in control of my pain, and at the time, that felt good. I'm glad to say now that I don't feel the need to do that anymore, and hopefully I never will again. The reminders of this point in my life are still there, and won't be going away any time soon. At first, I was ashamed of them, but I'm not so much any more. I've learned that nobody should be ashamed to admit that they've struggled, to say that they have hurt. In sharing this with you readers, I feel like a weight has been lifted. I'm not proud by any means, but I won't be ashamed either.

During the time that all of this was happening, I missed a lot of university contact time and deadlines.  I had begun the year doing well, getting 1sts and 2:1s in everything that I had submitted. Realising that I had a talent for what I was doing, believing in my own potential. Once I got ill, that all went away and I couldn't bring myself to go and continue doing what I loved, I missed so much I worried that I was going to be made to leave and in that moment I realised I wasn't ready to give up on what I loved. I wanted to be here, I had something to fight for. After much stress and conversations with important people, I was told that I was being allowed to repeat my second year beginning this September. It was like I could breathe for the first time in months. I vowed to myself in that moment that I was going to do everything I could to get better and finish what I came here to do.

Since that day, it really has been a long uphill struggle, but then I suppose it would be when you're coming back from being so low. I'm back in Uni, I work hard, I write more because that's a better outlet when I need it (and of course, I love doing it!) I'm seeing someone new, another scary step for me. things are finally going right and I can finally say, I'm happy. I'm not confident enough to say that I'm completely better, I do still have days where I find things hard, but I'm getting there.
There are a lot of people that deserve more than just thanks for what they have done in the last few months. They quite literally have saved my life. They know who they are and I will never be able to tell them enough how happy I am to have them, how much I love them, how grateful I am that they never gave up on me. Thank you for not letting me sink when it was all I thought I wanted. Thank you so much for helping me through and showing me that there are other opportunities to be happy.

Please, if any one of you has read this and is going through any of this stuff, I can not stress this enough. PLEASE seek help, you are not on your own. I know it feels like that but I promise you no matter how down you feel now, It really will be okay.

Sunday 22 March 2015

The crazy life that is, university.

It occurs to me that in all the time I've been Blogging I haven't done a single post about University life. Which is ridiculous because at this point it's one of the things I know best at this point. For me, uni has been one of the most challenging and incredible experiences so far and I dread the day I have to say goodbye to it all. So, I made a list of some of the things I've learned about university life!

1) Freedom ruins your sleeping pattern. When I got here I was able to get up at 6.30am every single day without fail regardless of what time I fell asleep and still be a fully functioning human. Now, I struggle to get up before 10.30am. When I was a fresher, there was a 90% chance I wouldn't actually see the morning at all. Since I had the freedom and flexibility of more free time and a completely different timetable to the one I had been used to my entire school life, it became really easy to slip into the habit of having '5 more minutes' in bed. 50 times.

2) There's only so far you can go just blagging it.  I'll be honest, I did no revision at all for my GCSEs and next to nothing for my A levels. In hindsight that was irresponsible sure, but I have never been a person that could stare at books and force myself to remember facts and figures. If I am studying a subject I love, I'm very good at remembering things about it, for my A levels that's exactly what I did. I didn't revise for anything and I still got better grades than I was predicted. In first year of Uni, you can kind of get away with that sort of thing too, a lot of my first year language classes were on things I had already covered at A level. It made freshers that much better knowing I could be reckless and pass! In second year, I quickly realised that I would have to buck my ideas up and do a lot of extra research and reading, how else was I going to get any better? If you want to succeed in your subject, the best thing to do is read things from the people who already have.

3) Yes, you should definitely drink that. Students are the most insane people to drink with. Ever. On my first night out here a guy downed an entire bottle of Vodka on the bus to the venue and I could see by his face that it certainly wasn't anything close to his first drink. I have no idea where that guy is, hopefully he's still alive... I'd had drinks and been drunk plenty of times before coming to Uni, but I had never seen so many people let their hair down and go crazy before and it made me feel so young and free! You are only young once, now is the time to live life and do the crazy stupid things that you won't get away with when you're older. If you're playing a drinking game and you're the one necking the dirty pint which may or may not contain milk, saliva, Guinness, washing up liquid and a few floating Cheerios, just do it. You get one shot to make a total prat of yourself with a bunch of people doing the exact same thing, and it's not the worst thing you could be doing!

4) Family means more than just blood ties Since being here I've met so many incredible people that have made me feel special and wanted and have supported me when I have truly needed them. Being thrown into a flat with 9 other complete strangers was terrifying and I never would have thought I'd be as close to them I as am now. When I came here I was a shy girl with few real friends and now I'm surrounded by the best friends I could ask for. Don't be afraid to join a society either, you'll find you meet people with similar interests and hobbies and it's a great way to make friends. My society is my life now, I can't imagine not being a part of it and not knowing all of the talented people I get to share it with.We're so incredibly close knit and I'm thankful every day for them.

5) Welcome to the Library It's going to happen without a doubt, you will procrastinate for too long or you will totally forget about that deadline in three days time that you haven't even planned for yet and you will temporarily move into the library. 24 hour library hours are a god sent gift to the student that repeatedly procrastinates. (Me, I mean come on, I'm blogging not working!) I can not count the number of times I've bought 6 cans of redbull and spent 15 hours typing frantically and trying to make it look as though I really did draft the work 4 times instead of two. Fortunately, I'm only a second year so I don't permanently reside there yet, but next year I can say goodbye to my social life.

6) Experimental cooking Towards the end of the month, when I blew two weeks budget on a dominoes, I start to run out of money and haven't got all that much food in so I start to try strange and sometimes wonderful things with the few things I have left. Pasta mixed with Dorito salsa, or boiled in water with a beef stock cube in it. Rice mixed with ketchup in a toastie. Adding Chilli powder to everything because it needs flavour. You will try some weird combos and you'll find some that you actually like. A balanced died isn't a thing many students manage to keep to, so be prepared to try some bizarre things!

7) Some things aren't forever, and that's okay. When I came to Uni I had a boyfriend and to this day he is one of the most amazing people I have ever been lucky enough to know. I was sure that we were end game, that I would spend my life with him and I thought without a doubt that that was what I wanted. In January I realised things had changed and that I had bigger wants and needs, I still to this day love him very much, but not in that way anymore. For me that was a scary concept because all of a sudden I'm back in the dating pool which I haven't done since I was 17 and that was with an entirely different bunch of people. Slowly I'm learning how to embrace being single as a student, it's fun and crazy and at times a lot of fun. Don't be afraid to embrace single student life!

8) It's okay to cry sometimes I can not count the number of times I've cried since coming here, as a person who hates showing emotions in front of people, it was something I found (and still find) really hard to do. Whether it was work getting me down, relationship trouble, running out of money or even if I just really missed my Mum, my flatmates last year helped me see that it was okay to cry with them, because we were friends and they wanted to be there for me. There will be times where Uni gets overwhelming, it's a totally new situation and you can find yourself feeling very alone. It's natural to feel emotional about things and it's okay to cry!

9) Adulting is hard As a student I'm in that wonderful in between place where people treat me as an adult but I'm not completely sure how to do half of the adult things I should know. I don't know how to pay bills yet, I don't have a full time job, I still love watching kids cartoons and playing Mario Kart. Thinking about it now, being a student is like being one step up from your average teenager, with a lot more sex, alcohol and strange life choices. However, I can also see the difference in myself as a person from before I got here and now. I learned that some people can't be trusted, I learned that in order to be an adult you have to take responsibility for your own actions and live with the consequences of them. I learned to stop taking crap from the people who made me feel low, I learned to talk to people, I learned that love is confusing and messy and fairy tale romance isn't real life. Most importantly, I learned who the people I can rely on are, the ones I can call at 3am when I'm a drunk and emotional mess.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

What is the right thing?

This post may not make much sense to a lot of you, it also may not be my best writing and it may seen a bit jumbled and confused and for that I apologise. Its because I'm using this post as a way of trying to organise my own thoughts as they come. I'm hoping that by the end of it I'll have a clearer idea of the decisions I need to make.

Someone once told me that it isn't the choice that we fear, but it's the outcome. I never really understood that until now. When you find yourself in a situation where you have to choose between two paths it's difficult. You could be happy with either choice in the beginning, but in the long term how can you possibly know how that choice will turn out? We try and predict the outcome of things. I've been trying to imagine conversations in my head about how things will go to the point where they're almost perfectly scripted. But having conversations in real life isn't like that, we don't get to choose how other people react and what they say and this only makes the choices more confusing. If we could just assume correctly it wouldn't be difficult, but we can't and it leaves us sort of blind.

Since we can't rely on other people to make these decisions for us and we can't predict any outcome we have to consider things that we can't always rely on. Our emotions. How we feel in our gut about something or someone is usually the only thing we can rely on at this point. Our emotions leave us vulnerable and they're raw. We don't necessarily like them either, which is how we know we can trust them. They're unavoidable and they're it's something we don't have a choice in. After we work out how we truly feel and after we admit that to ourselves, then we can start to decide what the right choice to make is.

If someone turned around and asked me what I thought the right thing to do was, I could answer them in a heartbeat. If someone asked me what I truly feel the right thing to do is, I can't say that I'd react in the same way. I have a tendency to try and ignore my emotional attachment to anything. A lot of the time I pretend that I don't care so much about anything even though deep down I know that I do (and so now does everyone reading this..) I don't like to get emotional, I hate crying and feeling things that I don't understand. Emotions terrify me so I shut them off. It makes it so much harder to work out what to do. I worry sometimes that If  really open up to people, I wont be able to stop. I pride myself on being a person that is there for everyone else, I don't like the thought of needing people and I try and deal with everything on my own. I guess that could be making it ever harder for me, I hate the idea of going to someone and asking them to talk it through with me. I don't like the thought that in that process I may admit something to another person that I hadn't even admitted to myself yet.

I believe that it's human nature to want to do the right thing. By this, I don't mean doing what is morally right, I mean doing what is right for ourselves which sometimes means that we have to be a little selfish. We want to make the choices that will give us the best outcome. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where it's really hard to determine which path we have to choose. I'm in one of those situations right now and I can safely say that it's not easy.

'Real integrity is doing the right thing knowing that nobody is going to know whether you did it or not' - Oprah Winfrey

Thursday 31 July 2014

What is love?

A lot of people describe love as something that can't be controlled, an invisible force that pushes two people together for no particular reason. The may call it fate or destiny. It's never questioned. Nobody ever wonders why it happens, it's just assumed that hat's the way it is and we can spend our whole lives with a person and still assume our love for them is something that we can't control. In some cases I accept that this is really true. But I think if we look at the broader meaning of love, we can question whether it really is this invisible force, or something a lot simpler.

For me, love is about appreciating what is good about another person. It's about appreciating the aspects of them that a lot of people might not see. For this reason I believe love can be a choice. You can create it. If you focus on the good in another person (yes, everyone has some good in them) then you can learn to love them. We can choose to love something unconditionally without even knowing if it is real or not. Look at faith and religion. Look at how many people devote themselves to their faith and love their Gods, through choice even if around them people are saying that they shouldn't believe because there are so many flaws in their faith. Nobody has forced that view upon them, nobody can make them believe and love something but themselves. The same thing works with people, you can choose to black out the bad in someone completely, you can devote yourself to a person even if other people are telling you that you shouldn't. You choose to love that person regardless of what everyone else says.

Take this scenario. A man and woman have been married for 10 years and the marriage isn't working out anymore, they divorce, but they remain really good friends. Do they still love each other? Their relationship might have broken down yes, but does that necessarily mean that the love stops? At the end of a marriage different things can happen, the couple can decide that they still love each other and have a mutual understanding that although they feel that way, they've chosen to end the marriage but continue to love and respect one another OR the two parties can go at each others throats and decide that they don't love or want each other in their lives anymore. OR one party can choose to love the other party regardless of the fact that it's clear the other person doesn't feel that way.

If a friend does something to annoy you, you can still choose to love them rather than fall out with them over it. If you have a fight with your parents you can choose whether you love them or not afterwards, it's not a case of 'I have to love them, they're family' rather a 'I'm choosing to forgive them and love them again because....'. Love is a choice. It's a decision you make every single day, you can choose to continue to love someone, or you can decide that you can't or don't want to love them anymore. You can choose to keep seeing past all of their flaws or not to. More often than not, the imperfections to a person is something that is missed the most. I for one know that I miss the way that he leaves his clothes on the floor or the way he would curl up and kick me out off bed by accident. I know that no invisible force makes me feel that way, but rather the way I chose to see an imperfect person in a perfect way. It works the other way too. You can choose to let someone love you or not. I know that personally I have a lot of boundaries up when it comes to letting anyone close to me, but I chose to let myself be loved by someone and I chose to let them get to know me and get close to me. I chose to let my friends know me as they chose to let me know them. All of it is a choice, love is not an emotion or a feeling, but an action and a choice.

Monday 14 July 2014

Social anxiety is not just 'being shy'...

I've had this blog in mind for a while, but never quite managed to structure it quite right. Hopefully, this will give some of you that aren't so aware an insight to what Social anxiety actually is and maybe how to help people deal with it.

It's very easy to miss the signs of social anxiety in a person, or dismiss anything that you can see as them just being shy. With friends who suffer from social anxiety disorder I understand how difficult it is for them to do every day things like going to the shops or sitting in a classroom. I also understand how hard it is when people just think they're being antisocial or rude when they choose not to go out or be a part of the group. Social anxiety isn't just feeling a little bit nervous around people, it can be an intense and overwhelming fear over the most every day occurrences that make life hard. People affected by it might also fear doing or saying something humiliating in public. Social anxiety can disrupt normal life in various ways. Relationships between people can be difficult to establish and in some cases between friends they can be strained. It can be hard to concentrate at school or work for fear of doing something embarrassing or feeling uncomfortable with the number and proximity of the people around you.

The signs of social anxiety include low self esteem, dreading every day activities such as working or even speaking on the phone, fear of criticism and avoiding eye contact with others. In many cases, a sufferer can feel like they're going crazy or feel like people are constantly looking at them. Substance abuse is common with those desperate to eradicate any sign of nervousness. Panic attacks are also a symptom of Social anxiety, people can be so overwhelmed and scared in social situations that their emotions build up. They can also have physical symptoms like sweating, nausea and heart palpitations. People with social anxiety can often suffer with other mental illnesses like Depression, GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder), or PTS (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to help people who suffer with social anxiety, including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), supported self help, antidepressants and psychotherapy.

It can be really easy for people who don't know the signs of social anxiety to say things that are hurtful without realising. Sufferers don't want to hear 'What do YOU have to worry about?' and 'Stop being weird', because it's hard enough for them to come to terms with let alone trying to explain to other people. People who don't understand what social anxiety is can say, 'Pull yourself together or you'll look like an idiot' which just makes the sufferer feel worse. Possibly the worst thing that can be said is 'It's all in your head'. Yes, it's a mental illness. Yes, it's in your head and it's not physical, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. It doesn't mean it doesn't hurt people. Saying that is like implying that the illness doesn't even exist or isn't important, which is just plain ridiculous. I can't stress this point enough, MENTAL ILLNESS MATTERS. Ignore the people who say otherwise, they clearly don't have a clue.