Book Review: Everywoman – Jess Phillips

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A lot of people scoff at the thought of going into politics. Even more so if you’re from a less wealthy background because it’s not what someone ‘like us’ does is it? Be prepared to completely change your mind and want to start a revolution of diversity and equality and it’s all thanks to Jess Phillips.

I picked this up after watching an interview with Jess online, I finally saw someone who I could identify with who works in our government. This book is much more than politics, this is about women, empowerment and just giving things a go! Previously, Jess worked for Women’s Aid, an incredibly important charity supporting women who need help most. Some of the stories were harrowing but show the fire behind Jess’s speeches in parliament, such as those about domestic violence.

From Mum guilt to just about getting through university Jess talks about anything and everything. That said, she also touches on some heartbreaking topics. There were many moments in this book that touched me but it was the parts talking about Jo Cox that really got me. Jo Cox was an MP in the UK, a rising star in the Labour Party, Jo was murdered for doing her job and being a compassionate human. Jess was a friend of Jo’s and I can’t imagine how hard it was going through such a horrific loss.

Not only is Jess a kick-ass MP for Labour, she’s a friend, a proud Feminist, a Mum, a Wife and, by the sounds of this book, the kind of person I’d want to have as a friend. This book fell into my hands when I needed it most. I was feeling like I was struggling as a woman, I was feeling a little beaten down by the world. Then I realised I can do this because there is so much to do! It really gave me the pick me up I needed.

I’ve recommended this to almost every one of my friends because it’s the kind of book that can and will start a revolution. Of course, I gave this 5 stars, I could not stop listening to the audiobook at every opportunity I had. I’m pretty sure I’ll not only be buying this as a gift for a few people but I’ll also be listening again very soon!

You're Doing Better Than You Think Mental Health Lifestyle Blog

You’re Doing Better Than You Think

Hey you,

Yes you, reading this for whatever reason. I’m going to tell you something that you need to hear right now. You’re doing better than you think you are. Hear me out. I’ve had shitty times in the past few years where I’ve felt like a giant failure, hey, at the time of writing this there are parts of my life I feel like I’m not where I thought I would be. BUT you are your biggest critic, I am mine and that’s not a terrible thing.

We do have a word with ourselves but think about what you’ve said to yourself. Would you say that to a friend about their lives? That they were a huge fuck up and things weren’t going to get better because they don’t deserve them. I know you’ve had those thoughts because I have to.

Sometimes the voices in our own heads take over our thoughts. They shout so loud with comparisons look what they’re doing, why aren’t you doing that? or perhaps you just think what am I doing? Am I doing what I’m meant to right now?

Last month I was in a funk, I was really struggling with myself. Well, I thought I was doing terribly, I’m not close to buying a house (are any 23-year-olds with student debt?), I’m not getting married and the books I’ve been working on for the past few years still aren’t finished. My mind was full of anxiety and self-doubt and just struggling, even though I was reminded by various people I’d been doing great and am still doing great in different areas of my life.

I didn’t write this to tell you how much better I feel. In fact, the opposite. This post doesn’t end with bragging about how wonderful I’m doing because that my lovely readers would be a big fat lie. I still have thoughts and days where I think I’m doing terribly. This was written to let you know that we all feel like that and chances are you’re not giving yourself enough credit.

You’re doing better than you think, you’ve got this.

What Mean Girls Taught Me

What Mean Girls Taught Me

Recently I saw one of the songs that will be in the Mean Girls musical which, should it ever come to London, I will be going to. You see Mean Girls was a huge part of growing up for me. Before Netflix (gasp) I would go to Car Boot sales and buy any and all movies that were deemed as ‘chick flicks’ and it all started off with Cady Heron.

I was in Portsmouth with my parents at the tender age of 11 when I saw this film, the cover looked cool. My Dad gave me the money, having no idea what it was about, and said to go pay. I was half terrified that they wouldn’t sell it to me because I was 11 and it was a 12. Ah, sweet, sweet innocence. But what did I learn from it…

The ‘freaks’ are the coolest people you will ever meet

I can speak as someone who used to hang out with the music/art/nerds. A lot of the time the creative people are the most welcoming and accepting, that’s what I’ve found. Just like Damien and Janice.

Stereotypes don’t have to be a thing.

Cady wasn’t one stereotype or the other. She could rock a short dress but also had a brilliant brain. She wasn’t above petty school politics, she fell right into them just like all of us did; if you say you didn’t you’re lying. People in this film made mistakes.

Changing yourself to fit in is never a good idea

Do I need to explain this one…

Don’t believe rumours

Ok, ok, we know that Coach Karr is an exception to this. The film made me realise people gossip and rumours go around. You can’t stop that. The teenage years are full of this shit so it’s best to try and ignore it. Fun fact waiting to go into my General Studies (read luck of the draw) exam I was informed that someone had been told I was pregnant with twins…news to me.

Everyone has their own shit going on

Do I think Regina George was evil? No, probably not. From Caddy’s worries that she was a ‘homeschooled jungle freak’, Janice’s tough girl attitude masking her being rejected, to Gretchen wanting to stab Ceaser. Every person in that film has their own issues, just like in real life.

I still quote Mean Girls on a regular basis even if it has been years since I’ve sat down and watched the film myself. There is just something in that film that I think anyone who has been a teenager just gets. That being a teenager isn’t sunshine and rainbows, people are shitty and school is shitty too. Oh and teenage girls can be awful to each other, truly awful.

What did Mean Girls Teach you? Let me know in the comments below and you go Glen Coco!

 

MHAW18 – The Round Up

Well, what a week it has been! After writing all week about different aspects of mental health I’m so pleased with the response. I’ve been amazed by the responses, the number of people reading, it’s been amazing! That said, I know that not everyone checks in every day with my blog (it’s ok, I’ll forgive you) so here’s a round-up of this weeks posts!

Welcome to MHAW18 

A big welcome to the week and a heads up about what I’m planning to do with it.

Does Therapy Work?

One of the big questions in the community is about therapy and whether it works, so I decided to talk about it and why it’s good to talk!

10 Ways To Support Someone With A Mental Illness

It can be really hard to support someone who is mentally ill. So I’ve put together some tips on how to support someone with a mental illness and what might work for you and them.

My Top 10 Mental Health Reads 

Of course, I was going to talk about books! I’ve picked 10 reads I thought did it right when it comes to mental illness.

I Have, I Am – Talking About Mental Illness 

I’m really interested in the terminology we use to discuss our mental health. This post was to discuss that and how we relate ourselves and our illnesses.

How Am I Doing Right Now? 

My own personal post about my mental health right now and how I’m doing. I try and write one of these every year just being honest about how I’ve been doing, what place I’m in right now.

I’ve enjoyed writing and getting to know more of you this week. We have to remember that this week is excellent but mental health awareness needs to carry on. It needs to be spoken about without shame or stigma.

Thanks so much for reading!

MHAW18 – How Am I Doing Right Now?

Hey everyone!

Well, it’s been a little while since we’ve done this.

As you might have noticed I’ve written about mental health all week and I thought it was only right to talk about my own health right now, because I feel comfortable doing so at this point.

As a short backstory, I’ve lived with Depression and Anxiety since I was a teenager and it is always a case of ups and downs. A little while ago I posted about being in a funk and what had been going on with me but I hadn’t really followed up on how things have gone since then.

I am happy to report that as of writing I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve come out of that low and am feeling much more in control, I’ve also had some great personal news. I’ve been taken on permanently in my job after having a contracted job for 6 months so that was a HUGE relief.

I’ve also gone back to my old medication because the new type made me feel awful. I had terrible insomnia, low mood and heart rate issues so I decided that wasn’t the best idea to take those.

Right now, I’m cautiously optimistic. Things seem to be going well, I’m working my ass off but I’m enjoying it. Things will still rise and fall in regards to my mood, they have been for nearly 10 years and I don’t doubt they will for the rest of my life. I’m feeling positive though. My mental health may make things a little harder but I’m never letting it beat me. I’m going to take it one day at a time.

With all that in mind I still have days where I struggle. Where moving from one thing to the next feels like the biggest effort and I’m not sure how to carry on. Days when the light just seems to go out. I’m not nieve enough to think that because I’ve had a good week or two that these dark periods won’t come back. They do and I try my best to get through them until they pass. It is a very up and down life, but it’s my life.

Don’t forget talking is key! If you’re struggling make sure to talk to someone whether that be someone you love or a professional. You deserve to be heard and you deserve to be healthy.

Love,

Chloe

MHAW18: I Have, I Am – Talking About Mental Illness

For tonight’s post, I’m talking about language, specifically the language around our own mental health. How many time’s have you heard someone referred to as ‘Bipolar’ or ‘OCD’ as an identifiable trait? I can guarantee that it’s happened quite a few times. Years ago, as a teenager, I was even guilty of it myself before I became more aware.

Here’s the thing whether you, or someone you know, has Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Anxiety or any other mental illness it is an illness. By describing someone as their illness it takes away from them as a person. You wouldn’t say that someone is Cancer, because it’s an illness they have, not their own personality.

This is mostly used in a negative way and it really makes me think about why we talk this way about mental illness. I think that, in part, it is because we know that most mental illness impacts our behaviour in some way and so it’s how people process the changes. That doesn’t make it right but, it’s just a thought.

I also think that when we can separate an illness from a person it becomes much more manageable. Saying ‘I am depressed’ makes it sound like it has consumed you, that is all that you are. It can feel like that, believe me I know BUT you are more than an illness, a word. The same goes from the people you love. If they are ill that’s not the reason you love them, that’s not why they sparkle for you. Whatever impact the illness has on them that is a small part of them, even if it may become larger from time to time.

By saying I/They HAVE Depression, Anxiety/OCD etc it shows that this is just something they are dealing with. That it’s not a solid identifier, nor should it be. This isn’t a naggy post to get mad and tell everyone off it’s just something to think about in a week of awareness.

How do you feel about this? Let me know in the comments below!

MHAW18 – My Top 10 Mental Health Reads

 

Seeing as it’s Thursday I decided that instead of my usual review, I would share with you my current top 10 books about or featuring mental health. I was really hard to decide on the final 10 but I think I have a pretty good selection.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
This is one of my favourites books of all time. I read this when I was a student and it just connected on a level I haven’t before with any other book. The plot focuses on Esther a young woman in her early 20s and her descent into mental ill health.

Am I Normal Yet – Holly Bourne
I love Holly Bourne’s YA work and Am I Normal Yet was a great start to her spinster trilogy. Looking at OCD, how to open up to the people around you and the process of recovery. Full review right here.

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
Matt Haig was on the verge of committing suicide, now he’s a best selling author. To get from one to the other he needed reasons to stay alive. This is a beautiful and brilliant book which changes lives. I wrote all about it here.

My Lovely Wife – Mark Luckach
There are very few books I’ve read from the perspective of a partner who has to watch their loved ones go through mental illness. A truly lovely and honest book. You can read my review here.

How Not To Be A Boy – Robert Webb
I’m so in love with this autobiography. This isn’t just about Webb’s life, it looks at death, gender stereotypes, sexuality and toxic masculinity. I raved about it here.

Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
I listened to this as an audiobook and fell in love. Not only does Bryony talk about serious topics such as depression, alopecia and OCD but she also makes you laugh. I’m a huge believer in laughter being a great healer. You can read my full thoughts here.
Nina is Not Ok – Shappi Khorsandi
This is the first YA novel I’ve read looking at alcoholism in a young person. I went through so many emotions reading it. A tough but important read.

Ariel – Sylvia Plath
I know, I know Plath again BUT her poetry is incredible. This is a beautiful collection and Plath’s last before her suicide. The imagery, the emotion. I can’t get enough.
It’s All in Your Head – Rae Earl
Confession, I’d never read anything by Rae Earl before and this was a great place to start. This is part manual, part memoir and wholly excellent. I loved this and it would benefit anyone and I highly recommend it.

When We Collided – Emery Lord
This is a wonderful YA novel which isn’t obvious it is about mental illness at the beginning. This is mostly about friendship, love and healing. Two teenagers, a summer and a beautiful novel. Full review here.

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

MHAW18: 10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

When a loved one is struggling with a mental illness it can be hard to know what to do and how to help. For me, when I’m on a low I don’t even know what I want sometimes! There are some things, however, that you can do to help. I wanted to share them with you.

Listen

Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen. They don’t need actions or solutions just someone to listen to how they feel and why they might be feeling it. It’s really that simple. Having someone listen to you can make such a change to a person’s day.

Don’t assume you know or understand 

Mental illness may have a set of symptoms but it is a truly personal experience. From experience, someone else thinking they know what you’re going through and trying to guess, rather than listen, is frustrating. It is so, so important to see this as a personal struggle not just a set of symptoms. Depression isn’t just sadness, Anxiety isn’t feeling nervous these are real issues.

Support them with small steps

Sometimes something that might seem small can be a big deal. In my worst times, I struggled to leave the house to go to the shop down the road. I physically couldn’t leave and when I did I had anxiety attacks. So my amazing boyfriend helped with the smaller steps. First, take a shower, then put on some clothes, then put on my shoes etc. It was long and frustrating but we did it and later that afternoon popped to the shop. I do the same thing with close friends with things such as blood tests. Small steps matter!

Let them know you’re there without forcing them to open up 

People will open up when they’re ready. Trying to force it from them will probably have the opposite effect. Just letting someone know that if they want to talk or hang out, you’re there is a big help.

Don’t try to ‘fix’ them 

Don’t listen to Coldplay, people with a mental illness aren’t broken and recovery has to be something the person wants for themselves.

Treat them as the person you know they are 

The person you know is in there, they might just be hiding. You can still make jokes, ask them to go places. They could say no 99 times but that 100th time they might feel well enough to go. It let’s them know that you still love and care for them.

Ask what they need 

It could be someone to just sit with in the quiet, someone to eat with or just being that voice at the end of the phone. Asking them what they actually need rather than guessing makes things a lot easier in the long run.

Swot Up! 

There’s so much information out there to help you understand what your loved one is going through. Read personal accounts, watch documentaries, listen to music. You might not be living it but you can try to understand as much as possible.

Be there 

It really is as simple as that. Just being there for someone.

Be a champion 

Mental illness is something that we need to talk about and even if you’ve never lived it you can be a champion and continue the conversation.

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

MHAW18: Does Therapy Work?

Let’s talk about Therapy. Does it really work?

Now, I’m not talking about laying down, a leather sofa to a stony-faced psychiatrist, sorry to burst your bubble but I starting talking therapies on and off almost 10 years ago and it’s never happened. Not once. That is a Hollywood myth, or something you don’t get on the NHS, either way not something I can tell you about.

I know that it’s not for everyone but for me, I’m pretty sure it’s got me to where I am today as a person. Working through my thoughts, problem and general mental health with someone who’s qualified and has to tools I didn’t was crucial. It was just a chat every week. I’d speak about what I felt I needed to and when appropriate try to break things down. It cleared up so much in my own head.

I don’t understand the stigma around talking to someone to try and sort your shit out. Surely that would make us better as people? To talk about things that are going on in our brains.  That said, I completely understand that it’s not for everyone. For some people, they need to work through things in another way and talking isn’t for them, which is fine.

That said, we need to acknowledge that for people who it does help it is vital and that’s where things have fallen down. A year and a half ago I was put on a waitlist because things were going pretty badly in my personal life, I’d had a lot of change and wasn’t doing so well. I’m still on that waiting list even though I feel like I don’t need it anymore. That is not only mind-boggling but also disgusting. I had a support system and wasn’t in crisis but sometimes I get frustrated, what if that wasn’t the case? But, that’s another blog post.

What do you think about therapy? Is it something that’s helped you or not your cup of tea? Let me know in the comments below!

Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week 2018!

So, a few days ago I realised that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and had to get a plan together, quick. You see, mental well being is so important to me because I haven’t always been in the place that I am now (here’s a whole post about my story from last year).

Ok, but why?

I think we need to talk because being mentally ill can be really lonely and make you feel like you’re the only person in the world who has these feelings. I promise you that you’re not. This is your brain goblin, stay with me here, that likes to take over your brain and make everything look and feel terrible. It is lying to you, it loves to lie to you.

So, what’s going to be happening over here 

I’m going to write a post about mental health every single day of the week. Yep, that’s a thing now. I want to talk about things to make others more comfortable and open. I’m going to be talking about whether I think therapy works, how to support someone with a mental illness and how we talk about it and ourselves. It’s going to be a full ride of information, emotions and more. Honestly, I could write about it forever but this is just a tiny portion of the internet.

I just want to get people talking and if they’re comfortable, sharing. It’s such a personal thing that gets turned into a political agenda. I’ve been at the point where I thought there was no coming back, I’ve been on a huge high where I thought I was cured forever and it was never coming back (lol, no). This is just what I think, what I’ve felt and hopefully, this week can help someone else as well.

So get into the comments, start talking and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!