Things I’d tell myself at sixteen

I’ve been quite reflective recently and thinking a lot about my teenage years, particularly as my sister is fast approaching her 16th (!!) birthday. Now I’m in my twenties, and believe me that’s a rollercoaster enough, but I had a tough time as a teenager, it wasn’t easy but at the same time some of the best things happened to me. I think we all have a certain view of our teenage years. I don’t agree with people saying that it’s the ‘best time of your life’ but there are certain times I look back on fondly. So, here are some of the things I wish I told

I don’t agree with people saying that it’s the ‘best time of your life’ but there are certain times I look back on fondly. So, here are some of the things I wish I could go back and tell myself to just give me a bit of a hand and the things I’ve learnt.

School isn’t forever. 

My life was hell at school, sometimes it felt like it was never going to end but it definitely did and it was glorious.

You’re right to look forward to college, it’s going to be great. 

I lived and breathed for my college. I could do classes I wanted to escape the people who hated me. I used to go and meet Ali from his day with butterflies. It was definitely a good two year with some great friends.

Trust him when he says he loves you, he does. 

I’ve been with Ali for almost 9 years. I had such issues at sixteen that I wasn’t good enough, that he was going to leave me etc. I was a complete nightmare. I wish she knew he’s still around now.

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Don’t hate yourself, you’re not well. 

I was incredibly ill with depression at this point, I literally felt like I was going insane and ruining everyone’s lives. I wish I knew that it was all to do with an illness and not because I was a terrible person.

Others opinions don’t matter

Can not stress this enough!

You can have a great future!

 I didn’t think much about the future much, I couldn’t but I wish I knew that I could get there.

Keep singing, keep writing, keep being creative! 

There were more than a few times I just didn’t want to do it anymore, what was the point, why bother? It was going to do more for me than I thought!

Ignore your art teacher, you’re never going to impress her. 

Seriously, the woman had her favourites, I wasn’t one of them.

Talk to someone. 

Just talk about how you feel.

YOU.ARE.NOT.FAT

Seriously, I would shout this until I was blue in the face if I could. I really struggled with the way I looked and thought I was chubby but I really, really wasn’t.

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The house parties are going to continue, they’ll be some of the best memories of your life. 

Best. Time. Ever.

Think about uni, just think about it. 

I thought it wasn’t for people like me. Oh I was wrong.

Love yourself, cause you’re pretty awesome. 

Something I still need to remember at 22.

 

What do you wish you knew at 16? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Health Awareness Week : Where I am now?

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I’m a very open person when it comes to talking about mental health, I’ll share my ups and my downs and have been online for 3 years now in the hope that it will help others to talk. It’s been raised more than once whether I worry if being so open will hinder my chances of getting a job, something I’ve written about before. I’m a firm believer of using your past to enhance your present and not being ashamed of who you are. I write about mental health often because I refuse to be ashamed of this part of me and I know that it’s just one part of me! I’m so much more than one diagnoses, I’m a daughter, sister, partner, friend, writer, blogger, musician, book reader, former horse rider, world traveller, the list goes on.

I also think it’s important to take stock of how far I’ve come every now and again, because I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had. While I’ve been at uni I’ve learnt to deal with depression and anxiety, I’ve learnt methods to stop the thoughts before they get too much. I’ve had jobs that I’ve fallen in love with and have made me genuinely happy and excited to go to work, something I hope to continue. When I started university I wasn’t sure of myself, had very low self confidence and was so, so anxious. I remember trying to go out drinking in a club for the first time and being paralysed with fear, I came home and cried begging to be normal for once. Then in second year I went the opposite way, all my new friends went out a lot and go drunk, I hadn’t had a close group of friends like this so I did that too, even though I was going off of the effects alcohol. It took a long time but now I feel comfortable with myself enough to just tell people I don’t drink  to get drunk, it doesn’t make me happy in the slightest and the people who matter accept this.

When I look at the girl I was on my first day to who I am now I’m impressed with myself. I’ve overcome a lot to get where I am today and that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes have days where I’m low and struggling or nights where I can’t sleep because my mind is going 100 mph. With my sessions with my mentor, blogging, living I’ve learnt and am still learning ways to just live alongside my illness, just like anyone else with an illness would. For three years now I’ve tried to notice what makes it better, what makes it worse and when I just need to step back and breathe for a minute.

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3 years ago the thought of having to get busses and possibly getting lost was enough to send me into a panic attack, this was one of my ways to feel better, sending silly selfies to Ali to make me less anxious. Now I don’t even think twice about busses. 

What I know, and what I want others to know, is that having a mental health condition doesn’t make you any less of a person. Actually, I think what I’ve had to go through has made me a better and stronger person. The hours in A & E when I was a kid checking the bullies hadn’t broken my bones, the sneers from other kids because I was ‘fat, ‘ugly’, a ‘slut’ or ‘couldn’t sing'(none of which were true but to a 15 year old it hurts), the kids who would find my blogs leave comments and then try and embarrass me in class, the fact it was better for my health for me to study from home, the fights, the bruises, everything else they tried to do,  ALL OF IT. People ask if I wish it had never happened, I’ve gotten to the  point now where I think if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be the strong, smart, independent woman I am today. If this didn’t happen it might not have triggered my illness, sure but I choose to look at the positives. Being honest and open about my life and experiences has meant that I’ve met incredible people, made amazing friends, won awards, it’s all about what you do with a shitty situation when you’re well enough.

I had rough times, times where I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel and I wondered what was the point. I never want to feel that way again and that’s what drives me. I also want other people not to feel alone and if my blog can show one person that your diagnoses isn’t your life then I’ve done what I wanted to do. Mental illnesses are annoying but they don’t mean that you can’t have a life, it might have to pause for a while but that’s ok, when you’re ready you can take baby steps to put it all back together again.  Right now I’m feeling ok, a little anxious because I don’t know what the future holds but I just remind myself nearly all 3rd years feel that way. All I know is that I’m going back to Basingstoke a different girl to the one who left, one who’s 100% stronger and more kick ass.

Why I won’t be a teacher any time soon

So as you know I’ve been busting my butt at my teaching placement for the last few weeks but I haven’t been writing about it really at all, the simple reason is that there isn’t much to write about. The simple reason isn’t the only reason though. I realised today that although I love working with kids and encouraging them, right now teaching isn’t for me. I’ll never say never but it’s not something I’ve set my heart on doing, I’d much prefer to lecture later in my life when I’ve learnt more or even become a teaching assistant because I like that one to one experience with the kids but spending time doing lesson plans and levels and talking about exams, it’s just not me. 

I think that it’s more me to be stuck in with the kids and being able to help the ones who struggle and watch them grown rather than worrying if 30 of them are going to make the grade this year. Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed it and I absolutely adore all of the staff I’m working with but this isn’t the careerer for me. Maybe it’s just not my thing, maybe it has something to do with my past but in the last few days I’ve been thinking very hard about what I want from my twenties. I only have 3 months left of being a teenager and then I’m supposed to hit my delightfully messy twenties. I want them to be as happy as they can be after trudging through my teens but I’ve also found out that I want to kind of let them run and see what happens. I work damn had at uni but I want to have fun just like everyone else and why can’t my 20s be fun! 

After that, who knows I might come back and want to become a teacher. I want some kind of life behind me before I go and try and teach kids about life because that is what school should really be about I think. I used to love the entertaining teachers who had more to tell us than just their day to do life, and a lot of young teachers do it. Some take gap years but I want longer than that, I want a job that I find interesting and I’m passionate about and right now that’s not teaching. 

So let’s just see where this is going to get me….

Friday night cup of tea and thinking

I’m spending my Friday night sitting in Ali’s flat, watching Emma Blackery on YouTube and contemplating making myself a cup of tea. I don’t know why but despite my plans to go out and drink tonight I really didn’t want to.

I don’t know what’s got into me today. I woke up feeling shit, I picked up a bit but there are things going on at the moment that just make me upset. Things on one side are going really well, I’m so lucky to be mending friendships that have been unraveled in the past few months, understanding myself and academically I’m doing better than I ever have in my life. Then one thing can just piss me off and upset me.

If I’m honest I’m finding my school placement really hard. I haven’t spent time in a school since I was 16 and even then I was hardly there. For me school wasn’t anything I enjoyed it was a battlefield, it was hard. The school itself is lovely, the staff are brilliant and the kids are still slightly wary. The problem is that a secondary school was the place that I was at my lowest, I still get down thinking about it sometimes and every now and again one of the old nightmares may flare up. It’s horrible waking up from those when I’m on my own, I suppose that’s what’s had me thinking about it a lot really. The nightmare was a few days before I started placement which I suppose highlighted the fact I was nervous about it.

While I’m working and doing the experience I’m realising more and more I could never teach in a secondary school as a job. I don’t like the feeling of it, the way it runs, the memories I have myself. It would be the same in any school. I love visting schools, educating them in diferent ways but to be there day in, day out? I can’t do it because this is the thing, your own experiences never leave you. I worry about my sister all the time, even though she is such a different kid to the one I was. She’s smart, she’s funny and she never has any problems standing up for herself or making friends and I absolutely love it. I love that she is that way and as strange as it sounds I wish I was the little sister who could look up to her because she’s bloody brilliant.

I don’t really know what this is about, I don’t know why I’m writing. I suppose it’s just a way for me to understand when I feel like this. I’ve been restless, annoyed, happy everything today. I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend I honestly want to curl up, not do to much and then take on the world again starting Monday.

Teacher Training

Tonight was my first teacher training session. I was pretty nervous when I turned up, I had no idea what to expect and I wasn’t sure I would know anyone who got through. My nerve calmed down a fair bit after a surprise visit from Ali, not because of any romantic gesture just to borrow my tape measure but either way it was nice to see him. I got there about 20 minutes early (talk about over eager) but thankfully I wasn’t the only one I started chatting to some of the other girls and found out I wasn’t the only first year on the scheme. As Kingston is so good to us we were all offered a hot drink and biscuits.

The session was 3 hours long but it was interesting. Within the first 15 minutes our confidence was already being build up by the team we were working with and started making jokes where we could. I was pleasantly surprised to recognise some people I already knew as well as some people I had been interviewed with. The evening overall was fun and I was pleased that we learnt about so many different factors in educating children and I learnt new things.

Throughout the session though I was fighting with myself. For this scheme I’ll be teaching in a secondary school, somewhere I vowed not to go back to. I had more than a pretty rough time at school and tonight I felt some powerful emotions, even if I didn’t let it school. After going over policies and responsibilities schools have towards students I was slightly shocked to realise just how wrong my school were. The lack of support I had throughout my education I assumed had been normal but now I see that it’s not. The senior staff had a duty of care and they obviously didn’t fulfil what they should have. As I sunk into a deeper state they all looked the other way, done the bare minimum and left me to it. There were a handful of members of staff who cared enough to get  me through, I still try and visit the LSU (learning support unit) sometimes to let them know how I’m doing and say thanks, they cared and they didn’t have to. If I see some of my old teachers in town I’ll say hello and just let them know they made a difference. As for the others? I’d love to prove them wrong, I’ll got back with my degree and just say ‘see I wasn’t as useless as you made me out to be!’.

I guess what I’m getting at is that tonight made me realise I was failed and I want to make a change. I might not end up becing a secondary school teacher but I want to do something to change the lives of young people. I don’t know how yet, teaching?, writing?, performing? I have no idea yet but I think this is going to be good for me, maybe in those 15 days I’ll make some kind of difference.

When the past catches up with you

It was inevitable that at some point in the next few years my past would crop up. I didn’t think the time for this would be in a playwriting workshop that would completely throw me. I was speaking to a friend the other day about things in your past that you could hide at university after becoming a new person and she told me it was harder when unexpected things made you stumble. I found this out in my Creative Writing lecture this afternoon after the topic of bullies came up and the victims. We were supposed to write about our school and write a scene based on it. I had already started to squirm and decided I wasn’t writing the exercise, I wasn’t even going there. It got worse as the lecture went on as descriptions of school days came to light, what the bullies did and I could feel dark mood spreading. People started to laugh at the ‘antics’ finding the mental abuse funny.

Needless to say I left that lecture, I just couldn’t handle it. Quite frankly it’s not funny, it damages lives and can cause suicide. All the little tricks that were played never ever leave you. I know that because it’s still in my damn mind and it still makes me angry. I feel like maybe I should spit ball all those who laughed in the lecture, hide their notes before an important exam, create lies about them or just make them feel useless? Because that people is what it does to someone when you bully them because that is when it’s not funny.

Ask my Mum how she felt when her daughter would hysterically cry and beg not to be sent to school. Ask Ali how it felt watching me struggle for years with how I felt about myself. How about you ask my little sister if she understood why I was so sad when I came home from school. Funnily enough when you bully someone it doesn’t just take over their life but it takes over the lives of the people who love them too.

All this said I don’t hate the people in my lecture, I don’t believe that they are bad people but I was upset. I’m sure if they knew it, wouldn’t have been as funny but that is my whole point. Why should your perceptions change because someone is in the room, surely you should just find it awful in principle?

I’m going to try as hard as I can not to dwell on this because I have been doing so well in getting over my past. I’m finally trying to talk about things and sort out my feelings. Luckily I had a very special friend in that lecture who understood and helped get me out as soon as she could, and for that I am grateful.

It’s just a thought for you guys, although I know many of you will understand why I feel this way.