Blame It On The Weather. No, Seriously, Blame It On The Weather #depression

Hey Hey Guys!!

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Depression is something that can change like the weather. Think I’m joking?

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a genuine illness. Not gonna lie, I’m not an expert, so I’m not sure if you would class it as a mental illness or a mood disorder, but it is classified as a varied form of depression.

So what actually is it. Well, the NHS UK website says this:

Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones. However, it’s not clear what this effect is. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel.

In people with SAD, a lack of sunlight and a problem with certain brain chemicals stops the hypothalamus working properly. The lack of light is thought to affect the:

  • production of the hormone melatonin

  • production of the hormone serotonin

  • body’s circadian rhythm (its internal clock, which regulates several biological processes during a 24-hour period)

It affects an estimated 2 million people in the UK, commonly affecting people between the ages of 18-30 and, like other forms of depression, is more common in women than in men. There is a lot of skepticism surrounding the condition, mainly because it can be difficult to understand how someone can feel depressed simply because of the weather. It’s one thing to say that you change your mind like the wind, another to say that you can’t face getting out of bed because it’s raining.

Symptoms include lethargy, insomnia, poor concentration, negative thoughts and mood, unwillingness to socialise, decreased libido and weight gain.

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This is what 12 million people across Europe are facing. Again, I’m not an expert, but as a sufferer, there are a few words I can impart on the subject.

There are days when the thought of having to choose one pair of socks over another seems like an insurmountable problem. Can you imagine the implications of going outside when it is anything less than radiant out there? As if were not bad enough that the world already seems like one of the blackest corners of hell; what if it’s raining as well!? The fact that the weather reflects damp, cold in your soul, preventing you from feeling the glow of all the good things in around you is just confirmation to the depressed side of your brain that there is nothing good out there to admire. That everything really is as horrible and out to get you as you suspect.

But if the sun is out…

Seasonal-Affective-Disorder-Infographic

I’m a total fire baby. I was predisposed, being a Leo (m’on the August-born troops!!) and if it is anything short of swelteringly roasty toasty, then I am inconsolably miserable. I’m talking, in tears, shaking, terrified of even the slightest baby’s breath of a draft. Lemme put this into context for you; I was in Ibiza during a heatwave and wore a cardigan. Yeah. So the fact that I live in BLOODY SCOTLAND, one of the coldest places South of the Arctic, is a hellish situation to be in. I don’t think people realise quite how many layers I wear on a daily basis. Maybe it’s a useful thing that I’m so skinny; all those layers don’t look so thick on a skelatal frame.

The past few days we have been experiencing a random heat wave and I know several people with varying forms of depression and anxiety who have (seemingly inexplicably) seen a lift in their mood. I swear, Blame It On the Weather! Being in the sun can literally feel like bands are being removed from your chest and you can breathe and in hail the sweet scent of real oxygen. Not just tolerate the stale air you’ve tasted recently.

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However you want to call it, Sunny Side Up, Everything’s Better on the Other Side, The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, Mr Sunshine, Light of My Life, Build Me Up Buttercup, Mr Golden Sun; attribute any cheesy song lyric you like, the summary is still the same – EVERYTHING IS BETTER IN THE GODDAMN SUNSHINE!!!!!

The irritating thing, is that it has not been sunny all day. It comes and goes. The problem with this is that my mood has been going up and down as well. Literally, the sun being out one minute means I’m relatively happy, not too bad, occasionally I’ll giggle. Then it goes behind a cloud. Maybe there is a smattering of rain. And suddenly that cloud burst seems more like hell is spitting like icy shards of glass at me, determined to extinguish that ember of happiness fighting to burn hot enough to light so much as a candle. It’s exhausting.

Here is a link to treatment advice on SAD as well as some lovely handy dandy websites for mental health issues. Seriously, i have used some of them and even the info you can get online these days isn’t half bad.

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Remember though; the sun can be thought of in the same was as those middle aged women/students think of booze – if it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, it’s mid day somewhere else! The sun is always up somewhere, even if it isn’t where you are. If you are a sufferer of depression or SAD, do the daytime version of what Oscar Wilde liked to do; instead of looking at the stars, look to the sky. See the sun, love the light, feel the glow.

Mind.org

NHS treatment of SAD

Samaritans

SSDD

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Holla From Uni

Aloha, Bonjourno Buenas Dias/Noches, Hi, Hello, Wassup, Greetings, Anaeyong hassaeo…

I am alive and guilty – I have been neglecting my bloggerly responsibilities but for good reason I assure you. That educational, unnecessary, expensive yet wonderful resource we call University has called me to its’ hallowed (… plywood…) halls once again and I have begun another academic year at Uni, rendering my time otherwise tied in things of a scholarly nature.

*Ahem* FRESHERS WEEK!! 😛

Ok, so I haven’t exactly been going wild with freshers but Uni has started again and it has taken up a bit of time trying to get into a routine that let’s me be some way to a functioning human being with time to spare. But I’m getting there.

There was an interesting stand at the Glasgow Caledonian University Freshers Fair (the Uni I go to, by the way, I didn’t just wander in off the street looking for something to do). It was to do with the Psychology Society. Now, I don’t study Psychology, but I am sorely tempted to join this society, purely because the guy behind the table refused to ralk to me til I looked like this:

me wearing the hat that was thrust upon me by a “psychologist”

Got lots of work coming my way in terms of freelance writing work so busy busy busy.

Speak soon!

 

SSDD

The Winds Of Change Smell Like Barcelona, Ottowa and Glasgow

The Winds Of Change

The winds of change are getting me all a tither.

The re-start of Uni is fast approaching (literally 2 weeks!!) and it has only just occurred to me that at long last things may be beginning to change in a very interesting direction for me. Instead of the stagnation I’ve been tolerating in certain aspects of my life of late it seems things are gonna be hotting up in terms of my education.

1185197_10151811904576480_934853721_n (1)I’ve never ventured to Barcelona but a couple of my friends are taking a few months there as part of an exchange for our Uni course. A couple more are already attending classes in Canada  (follow her here!!!!!). Things like, studies of Sex and Equality or something else awesome, which, for my pal who is a bisexual feminist, is the exact most interesting thing in the world for her!

 

What’s That I Sense?

Exciting things are potentially floating on the winds that are heading towards us. The thing is, I’m a little bit nervous. I’ve spent such a long time knowing this is coming and yet now that it’s finally here… There is doubt in me that I can pull it off.

wind

Sure, I’m well aware that there’s no point in comparing your life with anyone else’s, so I’m not going to. I’m comparing it to my own life so far. It feels like there has been this great chasm of flux for the past few months, one that grew out of the dark hole of hell and change that came before it. It was a period of relative calm for me to regain a bit of the control I lost and learn how to deal with it.

Yet while I’ve been doing that, my peers have been moving on to bigger and better things – literally! Granted, I was not ready for such drastic continental shifts, though I did move house, I guess, technically (if you could call it that), but as far as selfactualisation goes, I haven’t really been in any position to achieve it to the same standards as my friends. And that frustrates me.

Moving On

I guess this is a little bit of catharsis. Or perhaps a touch of narcissism. Examining one’s own faults is never something we find easy as people and yet we relentlessly punish ourselves with a constant practice of it. One persons success suddenly takes on another meaning and becomes a reflection of your own inadequacy. As pleased as you are for their success, as enthused and elated and over-joyed and excited as you are to hear that someone you care about is happy and satisfied by a job well done, there may always be that little niggle of jealousy, or perhaps disappointment, that your own triumphs seem to somewhat pale in comparison.

change

But now that may be about to change. I am embarking on a leg of my own journey that I have long been (re)preparing for and I think the only problem is that I’m nervous I won’t meet the bar my friends have unwittingly set.

That and the fact that the Uni computer system won’t let me bloody register yet!

SSDD

We Can’t Handle the Truth?

So, people can’t handle the truth? Really? Let’s investigate that, shall we??

Wise words, my good man, wise indeed...

Wise words, my good man, wise indeed…

People can handle the truth. People are designed to be able to handle anything life cares to throw at them. The question is, are they ready at the time to handle what’s being thrown at them.

There comes trying times in everyone’s lives and it is how we deal with challenges that form, not only our futures, but how we see ourselves as competent individuals, and how others judge us according to their own standards. Fair? Probably not, but that’s the way it is. People judge themselves more harshly than anyone else ever could. We are all our own harshest critic.

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And who’s to say that just feeling good about your decisions is enough to convince the world? The world doesn’t know your motivation. Doing something you deem admirable might make you feel good, but can you be assured that Joe Bloggs passing by will know the strength it took to achieve a thing they might see as trivial? That’s the hidden challenge of the equation – you are not only faced with your own moral dilemma, you are faced with having to accept the assessment of others, regarding how you handled it. And resist the urge to wrap you hands around their throats if they disagree with you.

Yet, the biggest struggle can be when your head is so full of other stuff that you cannot see that all important truth. It is now that someone else must be employed to help you see what your occluded mind won’t let you.

you have the truth in the palm of your hand, the question is, can you find it??

you have the truth in the palm of your hand, the question is, can you find it??

We’ve all had the feeling; that almost deja vu like sense that something is missing, something is just not right. That feeling stops us seeing what’s really there. Hallucination is maybe too strong a term, but certainly, there is a cloud there. A veil, preventing the truth from being revealed to our desperately seeking minds eye. Does that mean we’re not “ready” to understand? Not necessarily. And that should be the decision of the individual. It shouldn’t be left to another to decide whether gently patronised is a better temperament than fully informed. Perhaps that individual who cannot see is not looking for pity, or sympathy, or compliments, or naive reassurance. Perhaps they are asking, pleading for help. Wanting another to act as their eyes in a time when sight evades them.

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Key to finding that all important truth in our lives is simple. To get into our own heads, we must first get out of them.

“…a simple trip to the beach can be all it takes to clear out heads and open out hearts, and write a new ending to an old story…”

We first have to want to get help.

“…there are those who got burned by the heat. they just want to forget and start over… while there are others who want this moment to last forever…”

But in the end, isn’t fact, better than fiction? No matter how bad life gets, it is never the best option to live in a fantasy, especially not one of ones own creation. As comfortable as you dream world may be, as easy and safe as you self-imposed bubble may appear, remember; your head knows all the pitfalls. There is no hiding in a land born solely from our imagination. Sure, it may seem to be a haven bathed in golden light and peace and only simple, easy explanations for everything, but – if the sun can shine in such a place, then that sun can cast shadows. And, given enough time, they will find you.

“…tans fade, highlights go dark and we all get sick of sand in our shoes… so we find ourselves looking to the future…”

It takes bravery to admit any truth. Let’s not forget that.

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SSDD

Are You Happy In Your Job? Neither’s America!

Are you happy at your job?

Think about it – are you really happy doing whatever you’re doing?

Phillip DeFranco’s Youtube video the other set me onto an interesting thing. A social experiment was conducted recently in America and it turns out the American dream ain’t all so accessible for 52% of Americans. That’s how many people were said to be unsatisfied in their job and that the “perks” of working in certain establishments, such as games rooms and massage parlours and free catered meals and casual Thursdays, beer Fridays, health care and dental and whatnot, are not enough to grant them overall satisfaction in their work. 18% said they were “actively disengaged”. Essentially these people are just slumped over their desks, buggering about, pressing a few keys then slipping off for a beer to take the edge of the boredom.

What makes me sad is that only 30% felt their job to be “actively engaging or inspiring“. In a population of millions, in a country apparently busting at the seams with opportunity and preaching happiness and fulfillment and all that overly positive Americanness, such a tiny number of people have actually found that.

What does that say about the productivity of such a vast country? If they can have the amount of influence that they do with only 30% of people actually doing any properly motivated work, can you imagine the madness that would ensue if the other 70% were engaged?? It would either become a world so overrun by sunshine and productivity that the actual sun would feel like an underachiever and find another solar system (assuming of course it isn’t an unmotivated working class American, of course, in which case it would probably just stop shining) or it would be complete carnage! War. Need I say any more? They’re already farting rainbows over there, who’s to say what could happen!

When_The_Sun_Is_Gone_by_artofkerem

Which made me think. This isn’t even the number of people who are not doing the job they want, that dream job that has everything they are looking for in a satisfying occupation – these are just the people who are doing a job, one to get by, get some money, get paid and go home. What of the people who got the dream job – then discovered it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?

I’m under no illusions. In a society so uncertain of its future, life seems to be filled with “just getting by” moments, people doing what they can for money to support themselves and their families – but isn’t that such a crap way to live?? Argue that life is full of winners and losers, people who get what they want and people who don’t and that it all comes down to whoever has the balls to go out and get what they want gets it, but I think that’s a load of bull.

happy accordion player

happy accordion player

That’s like saying those 52% of unhappy people never tried to achieve their dream. Maybe they did. Maybe it just didn’t quite workout. Maybe they wanted to make it as a street accordion player, but unfortunately, the public were more into skater haired street buskers at the time. Gutted for them. Now they sell insurance in a call center.

Forget that – who is to say they’ve even decided what they want to do with their lives and are just trundling along at half speed til they can work it out. I’m 19 and I’m currrently trying to work out what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of my life. There are times when I think “well Gem, you’ve made a royal balls up of your life so far, what are you going to do about it??” Terrifyingly (though not altogether unexpectedly) the general response from that voice in my head is either silence or… “…fuck if I know, you control the legs in this situation, you work it out!” Yeah, coz the voice in my head is extraordinarily rude, by the way. Should probably have a word with it about that actually…

try again! never too late to rock the street XD

try again! never too late to rock the street XD

So now I’m wondering; what can the people represented in that awful stat do about it? Can they do anything? Go back to that accordion and hope the market’s changed? Get a hair cut and conform for the sake of a taste of success? How do you even measure success. I think it’s personal. If you are satisfied then surely that’s a job well done? You might not have millions in the bank, but you will be rich in spirit.

From the sounds of America, this whole appearance of total contentment in life is a facade, a nation wide pass time of pretence and self disillusionment. Maybe they should take a look at a happy busker, an old man and his accordion. A guy who took up the art again after years wasted in a desk job, having given up on the dream of his youth ; chances are there are holes in his shoes and a couple of missing buttons on that old thing, but I’ll bet there’s a smile on his face. Because he’s made it; he’s playing to his audience. Whether they listen or not is irrelevant – that little bugger with the cool hair has gone home… I hear he sells insurance now…

SSDD

Doing The Things That Scares You

Doing The Things That Scare You…

Not always the simplest of tasks, is it. By their very existence, a thing that scares you isn’t something you’re going to be readily willing to do. The question is; why?

The answer may be, evolution.

By challenging the things out bodies repel we are forcing them into situations they would otherwise avoid entirely. From this, we are growing, adapting, learning. Whether we survive or not is in the hands of our own inherent abilities, or lack there of, and our willingness to defeat the obstacle in front of us.

Defeating an obstacle might not be as simple as whipping out your Samurai sword and slicing and dicing some monster, or calling upon your Knight in Shinning Armour (yes, capitals, why give him a real name if he is robed in shiney things??) to slay a beast in your honour and rescue you and offer you a lifetime of unconditional love in return. Not all things in life can be Disneyfied.

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Are you a Samurai, or are you waiting to be saved? …

There are things that scare us that can’t be seen. There are also things that others can see that we can’t, and that can be scary.

Epilepsy-ScotlandFor example, in a couple of days, my friend is going to bungee jump for Epilepsy Scotland . You can’t see epilepsy, but for a lot of people, the threat of a fit is something they carry with them on a daily basis. She is 19 and doing a bungee jump (!!) so help someone else feel less scared. As excited as I know the lucky bitch is (I would LOVE to do a bungee jump and she’s a bit crazy so i know she would too!!) I’m pretty sure she is going to be shitting bricks before it. I am not fooled by your calm and ginger demeanor Lambie, no I am not – I saw the twitch when you told me you were doing it!

That mad nutter on the left is Gillian, the other is me :)

That mad nutter on the left is Gillian, the other is me 🙂

Now for a flattering one... ;)

Now for a flattering one… 😉

Then again, Doing The Thing That Scares you can be so much more. It can be a challenge you have to face every single day. Yet it is a good thing to challenge our fears. Sometimes the mere act of questioning a fear can save your life. To acknowledge that something terrifies you is the first step to defeating it. Otherwise, it’s just a part of your life, a feature that refuses to move, like a stain, ingrained from years of neglect, left to fester til it is indelible and indistinguishable from the rest of you. And who really wants that? Who wants a dirty great mark, marring the colourful, bizarre and wonderful path that is your life?

Living in fear is not way to live. Sure, grey is a colour. But what kind of journey would life be if that was all you saw? There are things that have to be black and white, like your morals, the law and so on, all to avoid chaos and anarchy (not meaning that I don’t support free will or that I’m a communist or a dictator or anything, but I do believe we should live to some degree, under a set of rule – just so long as those rules don’t begin to control you entirely).

control

control

To live in the shadows of something is unnecessary, when the means to defeat the darkness is already available to you. You are the key. Face up to the challenge, face up to the fear. Combat the terror. Hold a spider, look down from the top of the tower, eat that slice of triple chocolate fudge cake.

taken from Sally's Baking Addiction

taken from Sally’s Baking Addiction

 

Take baby steps. “Once bitten…” isn’t a phrase for no good reason; if the spider bit you the first time, maybe don’t start with the Black Widow. If you once fell from a 20 storey building then (aside from being a medical marvel and quite frankly, a magician) maybe begin with something lower. If you quake at the sight of food, start small, a biscuit here, a sandwich there. Baby steps.

see things from a different perspective...

see things from a different perspective…

Or you could go all Herculean and raise the bar well above your head and not falter. Go from hospital bed, poisoned and ill to Arachnid Master, Spiderman! Not only look down, but leap off the tallest floor (though this time, might I advise a rope, harness, or very large crash mat). It’s medically inadvisable to go from eating nothing to everything at once so that might be silly, but make the change – fat free to full fat (or as I’ve heard it described, “extra moist, rich, decadent, with an honest chocolate taste and a smooth velvety crumb…” “…Death by Chocolate…”) 

My point is – do not let fear rule – or ruin! – your life. People deserve better than that.

 

SSDD

Lent (4)

All has been well so far, this being the 23rd day of the Lentathon de-caffeination experimentation.

 

All except for the slight wavering of my resolve when I had an accidental whiff of Starbucks Christmas Special Coffee. What are the chances that work decides to whip put the fancy coffee maker that’s been gather dust in a cupboard, unlooked at and unloved for many moons, right when I cannot give it the care and attention it deserves?

It was the super special Christmas coffee they brought out this year, covered in a cute little design which, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with coffee or even beverages of any sort. But still, it looked cute even in March.

It was the warm red of Santa with a white snow base and little wintry figures dancing about on it, like snowmen who had made friends with scarf clad red breasted robins and such (because that’s so obviously the way life happens).

I saw at work that the kitchen has acquired a fancy new coffee maker (a curious purchase, considering there is only two, perhaps three people in the whole building who actually drink the stuff) and so I inspected further. Beside it lay the packet of joy!

I took a tiny sniff that turned into a deep inhalation after I had established it was granulated. Mmmmmmmn… ground coffee beans have a far stronger scent than regular instant coffee, and Starbucks especially has a lovely rich smell, so much so that it feels like you are tasting it! It’s the next best thing to actually drinking the stuff.

I’m terrible, I know. I don’t allow myself such improper contemplations anywhere other than right here; this is my little piece of self indulgence.

I’ve wondered about getting a job at Starbucks actually. The coffee shops in the area already seem over staffed as it is, though of course I would never wish for them to become less so because anybody with a job is doing something right or being smiled at by luck. It beats being smirked at by that fickle bitch and being without one for no reason – other than the less than gracious disposition of something out-with your control.

Anyway, I would like to get a job in a café or a coffee distribution centre of some kind. I think even just learning about the different drinks and how to make and serve them to a customer satisfactory level would be interesting.

Because, it is one thing to make one for yourself and quite another to charge someone £3.80 for the pleasure of having it made for them. I feel that if I had the know-how myself, maybe I would be less reluctant to hand over my (fairly) hard earned cash for it. Coffee is over-prices in café’s especially the ones that are, or feign to be chic.

Sure it tastes a lot better coming from someone whose job title is Barista and it’s somehow thicker and more luxurious to drink – but that’s because they use what we call cream, and nothing so pedestrian as regular old fridge milk, but I won’t tell if you won’t.

And there is something quite continental and cozy feeling about having coffee that’s not made from home. But essentially, a lot of coffee shops, especially the cheaper ones, are just in it for the money. So you are most likely to be drinking the same old thing you would normally be if you were to drink it in the house.

Other than long hours, there doesn’t immediately appear to be anything particularly challenging about pressing a couple of buttons on a sophisticated, shiny machine, pre-programmed to make a perfect cuppa every time. The only real skill seems to be remembering to whip the cup away at the right time before it overflows, yet still filling it half way up with froth so that the customer doesn’t realise you’ve conned them until they are half way through their Partially Filled Tall De-Café Latte with Unexpectedly Extra Froth. By then, it’s too late to take it back and it’s Cheeky Barista – 1, You – 0.

These were my thoughts until I watched Singaporean blogger Xia Xue, also know as Wendy, trying her hand as a barista in a coffee shop in aSingaporeshopping mall for her YouTube channel.

She was taught only one full order, a specialised coffee and a pasta dish, all to be made and served quickly, professionally and entirely from scratch. I was truly surprised at how complex the whole thing was. A bit of a rigmarole to be honest. If it’s going to be that much of a mission, I don’t think I’ll be ordering what she was making any time soon!

Despite this, I just really like the atmosphere you get in a good coffee shop or café. How you can feel like you’re in a lively city when you’re surrounded by the scent of hot drinks and accompanying treats, the sounds of clinking dishes and chattering people of all ages, how the sound of tables and chairs always seems muffled, regardless of the surface they’re on or the material they’re made from. All of this, and you could be sitting in your tiny little town, in your local tea room or just the caf doon the front. You could be chilling with your Small Low Fat Super Skinny Latte, a Large Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream, Mini Marshmallows and a shot of Syrup, an Expresso or a cup of Tea, and yet, a good coffee shop will always leave you with that same feeling of contentment.