Supporting somebody with mental health problems

Mental health problems are something that are so underrepresented in our society; there are many issues with the ways in which we view mental illness and particularly how we attempt to cure it.

I’m not here to tell you how to live your life or provide you with some miracle cure – as much as I wish I could. However I thought – particularly on World Mental Health Day, it would be a good idea to write about supporting somebody with mental health issues. It’s widely known that mental health problems affect one in four people – so I think we should be raising awareness so that we can all offer support for people affected by this.

Listen – but allow them to share as much or as little as they’d like:

Never underestimate the power of listening, often getting out feelings or providing somebody with an outlet for their thoughts can make a world of difference. It’s important however to remember not to push anybody for information or ask them anything they’re uncomfortable answering.

Don’t try and diagnose: 

Naturally it’s easy to form an opinion, particularly if you have knowledge in the area but unofficial diagnosis can be damaging so it’s probably best to steer clear from doing so where possible.

Equally as important, don’t doubt or hesitate about what anybody is saying:

Questioning a person’s honesty is never good – particularly if they’re struggling.

Discuss wellbeing and helpful methods of staying positive:

Sharing ideas for maintaining a happy and healthy mindset can go a long way! If you have suggestions for wellbeing techniques then share them, they may provide someone with help when they need it most.

Try not to make assumptions:

Similarly to diagnosis, it’s important not to make assumptions about the cause of any mental health issues or what will help somebody to overcome them.

Be Patient:

Be patient and remember that this is like any other illness and takes time to heal. Never use the words ‘mind over matter’ or anything even slightly similar. 

Keep social contact: 

Even if somebody is shutting you out or finding it hard to keep in touch, try your best to remind them that you’re there whenever they need you.

Just be there: 

Sometimes everybody just needs someone to be there. Don’t worry about saying or doing the right thing – just be around, whether that’s sitting in silence together or being on the end of the phone. Make it known that you’re there for support whenever it’s needed.

When writing this I found these resources particularly helpful and feel as though they can help others too – head to Mind, the Mental Health Foundation or ReThink if you want to find out more.

If you’re struggling with a mental health illness, I hope you can find comfort in the knowledge that there is always somebody to turn to. I think I speak for many people when I say that I am always available for a chat, whether we are best friends, complete strangers or simply acquaintances – nobody deserves to suffer in silence and I will make every effort I can to make every single person on this planet feel hopeful and loved.

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to all of the broken hearted people

Heartbreak must be one of the worst things that a human can face, it’s an obscure feeling that completely consumes you. The person that has hurt you becomes everything, you see them in bars that you visited together, the mutual friends you share – their favourite breakfast option.

However, if you’re blissfully happy, you’re probably reading this thinking I’m an idiot. If there’s one thing we can be certain of it’s that we have all been there – and we have all thought that it would be the end of us.

LUCKILY because it’s so common to be dumped and depressed – there are many solutions to this problem. Often in the form of music, alcohol and if you’re sad like me, a lovely little poem. (If you haven’t already, check out Rupi Kaur, suddenly every piece of sadness you’ve ever felt will rear it’s ugly head and then magically dissolve away)

I’ve wanted to write something like this for a long time but was unsure that the tone would be correct, I think it’s always better to write things whilst reflecting on a situation, as opposed to in the heat of the moment. If you’re showing it to the public anyway.

So without further ado, here are my words of wisdom – my break up cheat sheet, if you will:

Find an album that you can relate to and listen to it as often as you like

If nothing springs to mind right now, borrow mine. Made of Bricks has gotten me over every crush, boyfriend and particularly upsetting deaths of favourite TV characters in the past 10 years. Get on board, you can never listen to Foundations too much.

But don’t forget these equally brilliant options – if you need to fuel your emotions. If you need a reminder that you’re a sassy Queen.

Spend as much time as you can with your friends & remember that they’re only trying to help you 

Naturally you’re going to feel upset when they are saying that the person you love isn’t worth your time, but you must remember that they’re your people and have nothing but your best interests at heart. AND in two months you’ll be agreeing with them.

Stop looking through old pictures, obsessing over memories shared and questioning what went wrong

You’re not helping yourself and you’re certainly not finding answers – so just stop. You’ll feel a hundred times better and deep down you know that too.

Pamper yourself

The most important thing you can do right now is find the version of you that believes they are fabulous. After all of the drinking, junk food and shower neglect of course. A friend of mine dyes her hair after break ups – it works. Give it a go.

Get a routine

Find a new routine that works for you, distract yourself when you need to and start doing things that will make you feel great. Appreciate the fact you have more time to yourself, see your friends and do the things that you love (especially if your partner didn’t really enjoy them so much.)

Ignore their social media channels 

Nobody wants to see the person they’ve broken up with moving on blissfully. It’s just a cold, hard fact of life.

Sidenote: If you are looking, remember that people only want to show the best of themselves online.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you have any contact with them if you are drunk

Even if you “feel great” and you “just need to tell them one last thing.” It’s stupid. You’ll regret it. Trust me.

Think about seeing other people, but only if you’re ready

Try not to rush into anything before you’re truly ready to, it might make you feel worse in the long run – and you could end up hurting somebody else.

Also, I learnt from a week of Tinder that sometimes it can be a confidence boost, often it’s just another thing that makes you question what is wrong with the human race.

Remember your self worth

Most importantly, you must learn to love yourself again. Don’t give away everything you are to somebody that can’t see you. Remind yourself daily that you have felt this pain before and you will get over it again. That if somebody is going to hurt you, they have never deserved you.

Basically all of the stuff that you think is nonsense when you’re happy – but you need to hear when you’re sad.

Just focus on getting back to yourself and look forward to the day you can scream I AM EVERYTHING and actually believe it.

 

 

 

 

How to stop pursuing the wrong people

We appear to spend our lives seeking one person, that glorious person that will comfort us when we’re ill and somehow still laugh at all of our jokes after ten years. That’s the dream, right? The old couple eating chips by the beach.

Unfortunately, our society is flooded with quick fixes and tricks to get into relationships. Maybe they’ll be the one and you’ll live happily ever after, realistically you’ll realise 9 months in that you have little in common, they’re not actually that funny AND you fancy the bartender at your local.

And yet we continue to do it, we subject ourselves to hours of scrolling through Tinder, rummaging through hundreds of creepy messages in the hopes that one day someone will openly post about you on their Instagram. True? Probably. Sad? Definitely.

But it’s not to worry chickadees because your friendly, local Claire Cross is here to tell you how to stop seeing these people (you’re welcome.)

Don’t rely on dating apps to find the one

I know that your friends, sisters’ best pal found the father of her children and co-owner of a country house in Surrey on Tinder – but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen to you. In fact, it could well happen – the possibility is absolutely there, unfortunately I doubt its Dan who’s bio reads “don’t swipe right if you’re just gonna friendzone.”

Stop ignoring red flags

You know the things that you tell your friends after the break up, the small instances that you brushed off at the time but now you’re finding yourself questioning why you ever continued that relationship. Yeah, those are called red flags and you should absolutely start believing in them. If your partner starts telling racist jokes or dictating what you should be doing: they’re probably not the one.

Small coincidences do not a good relationship make

So they have the same favourite film as you, they love dogs and used to be really into tennis as well. So do millions of other people in the world. Don’t get me wrong, shared interests are obviously a brilliant thing in a relationship but it’s important to figure out if they’re the only thing you’re relationship is resting on.

Ask yourself, do you have similar lifestyles that push your relationship forward and give you a means of enjoying experiences together? Or are they one of the thousands of people that love eating pizza in bed whilst watching Peep Show?

Don’t feel pressured to be in a relationship

We’ve all seen our friends and their partners being dead cute and thought ‘I’d like that.’ Obviously this is perfectly normal; this however, is not a reason to go looking for a relationship because it seems appealing. Ask yourself if the person you’re interested in is actually somebody you want to be with – or are they simply a comforting and beneficial friend to share hungover mornings with…

Location, location, location

Of course, you’ll occasionally meet someone in a club, they will have been dragged along by their friends – they want to go home and have zero interest in the pull. However, it’s more likely that you’ll meet the guy that spent pre-drinks telling his friends he’s gonna smash and dash whilst necking voddies and lemonade.

Stop trying to chase this guy, the chances of him actually dedicating any real time to you are slim – and let’s be honest, you’re probably not that into him anyway.

Question if it’s just lust

On that note, every now and then we are in need of affection and I’m sure we can all agree that sometimes that need clouds our judgment. Ask yourself, is he the one? Or was he the one at the time?

Don’t settle for less!

The next time you’re waiting by the phone for a reply, or spending hours asking your friends what his actions mean – remind yourself that you are fabulous. That although you might not have matching candle holders or anecdotes about long weekends in Greece: you are still brilliant.

No relationship status will change that, particularly one with a half-hearted 6/10 that spends his time bragging about doing body shots in Magaluf.

Reasons why voting is totally hip and cool

I am absolutely counting spoiling a vote as a vote with this. Just so we’re aware.

Come on kids, voting can be fun too! You just need to watch loads of BBC News and look at this funny man called Boris bumble around. I don’t mean to sway your opinion but I heard that this party leader has Snapchat L O L.

I know, I know, you hate me right now. I think it’s very important to point out that I am entirely kidding and despise the generic methods of engaging young people to vote as much as the next person. Is there anything worse than an Eton-educated politician that has never stepped foot into a Wetherspoons tell you that they’re “down with the kids” and aiming to cater for younger generations of people?

However, this does not change that fact that it is so important that we, as a group a young adults, make our vote. In ode to Buzzfeed, I thought it’d be best to break these reasons down into a list – because we all know that the attention span of 18-24 year olds is crap. Curse you Facebook, down with Instagram.

In all seriousness, if you haven’t already registered to vote and think that you might skip this general election that please peruse this list before making up your mind.

  1. We complain enough.

No Tea No Shade, but we do like to moan. Have you ever found yourself complaining about increases in student loan interest rates? Maybe you’ve been unhappy that the people that lead your country have decided to hurt innocent civilians in a bid for power?

By rejecting the vote, you’re silencing yourself. You’re telling the people that collate data for the Daily Mail that our generation doesn’t care. If you have a problem with the government, take action to change this. I understand that you may not agree with any political party, but we’ll get into that later.

  1. Change the stereotype.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of being tarnished with a brush that says that younger people are lazy and careless. I’m sick of my voice being interrupted because I’m in a certain age bracket that people associate with a lack of information.

The only way to bust this stereotype and be taken seriously within our society is to make a stand and show that we care. We’re can’t stand by and watch people with no idea about the life of a ‘millenial’ tell us what is best for us.

  1. Politicians work to please people.

I’m sure this does not come as a surprise but politicians are selling themselves, they’re essentially a walking brand desperately attempting to convince people that they are different.

If there is a presence of younger people registering to vote, they will make more effort to appeal to us. Even if they have no idea what we want or need from society.

  1. A snap election hasn’t happened in over 30 years.

A snap election does not happen every day. There is a big chance that we will live the rest of our lives without one happening again. This is literally a chance to be part of history; it’s a second chance at trying to push change.

  1. Not voting is not rebelling.

I often hear people say “there’s no point in voting because nothing will change” and it makes my blood boil. This literally translates to “I can’t be bothered” in my head. I completely understand why politics is seen as corrupt but by sitting back and ignoring it, you are not changing anything.

Registering to vote, going to your local ballot station and spoiling the vote will make a stand. If every person that has said to me that voting changes nothing in the past few years did this simple task – their voice would be heard.

  1. Policies affect you directly.

It may seem like the policies discussed and debated in parliament have no affect on you but they directly affect each and every one of us. Also, no offence but not voting because you’re unaffected by it is pretty selfish dude.

  1. Voting used to be exclusive.

People quite literally died for the right to vote. Refusing to vote is almost insulting to the people that fought tirelessly for their voice to be heard. I understand that in modern society it may seem futile and we’re often told that we’re unable to make any change but that is absolutely not true. If people take a stand and actually give their opinion, changes will have to be made.

  1. We’re an open-minded generation that needs to be heard.

I feel as though our generation is so liberal and accepting, so we absolutely need to get out there and spread our views – to ensure an inclusive and safe society in the future.

  1. Good ol’ technology can come to the rescue.

You no longer need to sit and read through manifestos or watch hours of debates. There are great websites available so all that you need to do is input your opinion on certain topics and you’ll be provided with results based on which party reflects your views.

This is one that I used and I was actually really pleasantly surprised with my results.

  1. Caring is COOL

In all seriousness, actually caring about our society and taking an active role in the government is ‘cool.’  I know that politics is corrupt and in many ways, it may seem like we’re tiny people that will never be heard but the horrid truth is, if we stand by and accept that as fact – we will never change anything. We can’t keep pushing these things to the side because of an age-old belief that we can’t make changes.

It won’t be easy but we can’t sit back and do nothing any longer. This is a second chance to actually stand up and have your say.

Click here to register to vote and you have full permission to laugh at me if we’ve all voted and nothing changes anyway.

 

 

 

SOS! My drunken self is ruining my life.

Let me count the ways in which drunk Claire just loves to annoy me…

Eating the best food 

Have you ever woken up after a night out and the cruel drunk version of yourself has eaten your entire advent calendar? I know friend, I know.

I love food. I love food more than anything else in the world. The thought of eating a giant bowl of spaghetti gets me through the day. Burgers get me through the week. What I’m trying to say is that if I’ve been thinking about something for a while, I’m very excited to eat it. So when I get home drunk and inhale it without a second thought, it really breaks my little sober heart.

There is no hurt like waking up to see a few lashings of BBQ sauce on a plate that once held such delight.

Drunk texting 

I’m that girl that decides to avoid any awkward situation or confrontation…until I’ve had a few drinks. I will then proceed to send you mass amounts of babble describing exactly how I feel and why I think you’re a knob. Is it irritating and embarrassing? Well yes, yes it is. But I know you’ve all done it too so you can’t judge me.

Telling people overly nice things 

This may sound like a perfectly normal and lovely thing to do but unfortunately I’m weird. I constantly find myself telling people incredibly over the top things that if I heard from a stranger, I would purposefully avoid them for the rest of my life.  Examples include “I saw your dog on Instragram and actually cried” and my personal favourite “I feel like you’re probably meant to be my best friend, let’s hang out.”

Over the top dancing that’s supposed to be comedic but really, really isn’t  

At the time I think I’m hilarious, then I wake up the next day and realise that people always remember the drunk girl that was air-spanking her friend in the middle of the dancefloor.

Making friends with complete strangers that I’ll never talk to again

My contacts list and the notes on my phone are full of random names and numbers of people that I know for a fact I will never bump into again and if I do, I will probably ignore because Hi I’m socially awkward sober Claire, oh you met me when I was drunk? That’s brilliant. Nope, you don’t have to tell me what I was saying. I’m good, thanks though.

The funny thing is at the time I am SO happy to be talking to these people and I almost always end up going to my friends after and saying the words “I just made a new friend, we’re going to go to Brunch tomorrow and sing our song at karaoke.” Okay maybe not those exact words but you get the jist.

Ruining my shoes 

The amount of discarded alcohol and mud that gets on my shoes while I’m out baffles me. Why is it that when we get drunk we become these creepy, overly affectionate creatures that are no longer able to control their limbs? Stop stepping on my foot, stop spilling beer on my shoes, they are my BABIES and I love them too much to see them die like this.

Forgetting vital info 

If you have something really important to tell me, do not do it when I’m drunk. I’ll wake up in the morning with snippets of it in my brain – but never enough to actually remember the specifics. Just enough to annoy me for weeks afterwards.

Throwing everything everywhere

Every now and then the drunk version of me is actually very considerate. She’ll leave all of the important things I need from day-to-day in a neat pile for easy access. She may pick me an outfit if I have work the next day. Heck, sometimes she even showers in preparation for my inability to get up in time.

Unfortunately, more often than none, this is not the case. Most of the time I wake up confused and very, very late. My keys are in the kitchen, my purse is in the loo and my phone is SOMEWHERE in my bed. Now not only am I running round trying to find something unstained to wear to work, I’ve lost everything, I’m stressing out and I don’t even have time to think about the fact I’m going to be sick within the hour.

Making plans that I don’t want to do  

Cycling from London to Paris in two weeks? Great! Going to a rave in Newcastle that requires us waiting in the freezing cold for hours before we can catch a train home? Count me in!

Or more realistically… “We should definitely go for brunch tomorrow, I’ll be up and out at midday, definitely. What even are hangovers anyway?!?”

Drunk Claire probably would do this stuff, drunk Claire is fun and up for anything because wooooo jagerbombs. Unfortunately, sober Claire is a sensible and boring old soul that knows for a fact that if she can’t even go to brunch, there’s no way she’s cycling to Paris. Sorry friends.

Giving away surprises 

I can’t keep a surprise on the best of days, literally can’t handle it. I just look at the person, smiling like a maniac and repeat to myself “don’t say anything, don’t say anything.” Chances are, if I know something that I can’t tell you, I’ll completely avoid you for my own sanity.

THAT IS until drunk Claire storms in, arm around a complete stranger that she insists is her best friend and inviting you to the Go Ape daytrip she’s currently planning. All before saying “oh wait, never mind that’s the day of your surprise birthday party.”

The Definitive Stages of Living Without the Internet

I think we all have to admit that the internet has become a huge part (if not taken over) our lives over the past decade and we rely on it so much that when it’s gone everything just feels different – and much more difficult.

Over the past few weeks I have been relying on re-runs of Friends for entertainment – and it’s got me thinking about the varying stages of missing the internet;

The End of the World

You’re all moved in to your new house; you’ve made your first cup of tea and unpacked the ton of toiletries from past Christmas’ – now you can finally relax and start to feel at home. You pick up your phone to check Instagram and as you look at “3G” at the top of the screen you remember – you haven’t set up the internet.

Hurrying to Google (thank god for smartphones) you start to scroll through various internet deals – JOIN BT FOR £5A MONTH* *plus £20 line rental AND GET A £50 SAINSBURYS VOUCHER – you feel disorientated, you can’t think without Wifi, Google is suddenly something confusing and hectic as opposed to your old, reliable friend who has the answer to everything. You settle for Virgin Media because a man in the street yelled at you about it 4 months ago so you eagerly dial the phone expecting to be connected to the World Wide Web within the hour!

That’s when the news hits. Two weeks. You have to wait two weeks for the people to come and give you your life back. You ask desperately for any way around it – threaten to go to a different company only to find out it’s the same waiting period, finally you accept the harsh truth and try and live your life without the internet.

Awareness of the Obsession

You’re starting to feel better about the situation and beginning to accept that things aren’t so bad without trusty Wifi when you begin to realise just how much you rely on it. A simple conversation with your housemate about who voices Mike Wasowski becomes a seemingly endless debate that would have once been settled in an instant. You find yourself rummaging through your old and dusty DVD’s to settle the argument when it hits you. You once had a whole world of information at your fingertips, now you have a bunch of film inserts and a list of things you must remember to look up.

Having no idea what people are talking about

It’s actually becoming refreshing not to scroll through a bunch of codswallop about the lives of your acquaintances but the Instagram stalker in you can’t help but feel jealous when people are talking about “that thing she posted on twitter” or the “hilarious video everyone is sharing on Facebook.” The worst thing is you know it’s silly, you know if you saw it you’d have little to no reaction – maybe you’d snigger lightly if it REALLY tickled you but the truth is, you don’t actually care – yet for some reason you’re dying to see the slightly provocative picture some girl who’s a friend of a friend of a friend’s posted.

Searching for Wifi

At this stage you’ve memorised the exact opening times of every public library, Wetherspoons and Starbucks in your local area and you’re constantly trying to find enough hours in the day to go and browse the web but it’s just not the same. Let’s face it, if you’re not lying in bed watching embarrassing things on Youtube then what’s the point of even having the internet?! You sulk home feeling defeated.

Accepting and appreciating its absence

At this point you’re halfway through a really great book, you’ve made plans to do various crafts in the evenings and you’re getting to bed at a reasonable time. You start to realise there are plenty of activities you can do without the internet and actually begin to enjoy life without it. You’re present in conversations, you’re finally working on your garden – maybe it’s not so bad after all! Now you’re wondering why you cared so much about it in the first place and the wait doesn’t seem so long anymore.

Getting it back

The day has arrived, the internet suppliers and general life savers are in your house – you’re minutes away from endlessly browsing through clothes you can’t afford and knowing the complete filmography of Leonardo DiCaprio. Everything is plugged in and ready to go – you open your laptop and type in the password, carefully pushing every button individually. You’re connected.

Confusion about what to do with it

You’ve checked your emails, scrolled through Facebook and googled your list of unanswered questions. You sit staring at the screen, what did you even use to use this for?! You’re thinking about what to do with all of this information – maybe now is the time to take an interest in Marine Biology. Give it a quick google and view a million results that seem like a mixture of words you’ll never really understand. Reluctantly you turn back to social media and begin stalking through people’s profiles again, watching ridiculous videos and thinking about your next upload to Instagram.

Reverting right back to becoming a screen slave

You’ve just finished your tenth Ellen interview and you turn back to social media, it’s only now that you realise its ten o’clock and everything got set up six hours ago… Thinking back over the past month and how productive you’ve been feeling, you question what you’re doing and decide to cut down on internet time. With complete certainty that this is a resolution you’ll carry out, you continue to scroll through Rebel Wilson’s twitter account – the cross stitching can wait until tomorrow!

Graduation

Yesterday marked the official ending of my time at University and entrance into the real world. Walking across a stage in front of hundreds of people (150 tops) felt like a strange ritual, a journey into adulthood. I turned to the woman next to me and practically begged she’d give me the power to teleport or just let me run away screaming. Naturally she said no and I was plunged onto the stage – a process that was actually a lot easier than I’d imagined. It was nothing more than a twenty second blur in which I stared manically at a complete stranger who has some significance within my University.

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And that was that. The end of seventeen years of education.

It all seemed rather anti-climatic, my whole life I have been working towards something – making it to the next level of education and now I’m free to do whatever I wish. I don’t know what I expected when I got to this stage – most probably a sense of confidence about the future.

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grad1

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grad 2

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Overall graduation was a really lovely day, I got to wear an uncomfortable yet very funky hat and see loads of the people I love. It felt great to celebrate the past three years of work and even better to know I wouldn’t have to write something academically for a very long time (if ever.)