Why I am Over Comparing Myself To Myself

Hey Hey Guys!

Everyone is guilty of defining their own life’s according to the quality of the lives of those around us. What does that mean?

Basically, we spend way too much time comparing our own lives to those of the people around us. And we have to stop.

I am most guilty of comparing myself to… myself. It’s true what they say, that we are own harshest critic.

I find that I’m forever going over old ground. I’m forever critiquing my own life and comparing the me now to the me then. It’s awful! There are times when I genuinely feel like it’s ripping me apart, like the old me is desperately scraping at the new, gouging great ditches in me as I desperately pull myself away. But I have made a decision. I’m going to stop. Not stop trying to distance myself from my past. More like, stop trying to force myself to not be that person and just content myself with being the me of now.

The me from a few years ago isn’t the same person as the me now. There are vast differences to the point where I barely feel like I am the same person at all.

Be one with nature and one with your soul...

Be one with nature and one with your soul…

Over the past 4 years I’ve been dragged backward through hell by my heart strings and I’ve taken all of the people I love most with me. But I have changed. The experience has changed me. My mind has been through turmoil of a kind I never thought possible and in many ways, I still can’t believe all that has transpired.

I want to be honest. I’ve been a sufferer of a myriad of Mental Health issues since I was about 18. I am now 22. But I will never call myself a victim. Because that implies that I have done nothing about it. And as much as I also hate to admit it, it implies that I am entirely innocent in the continuation of my ordeal.

I have spent the last 4 years fighting for my life. Against myself. I’ve brought pain, anger, sadness and despair upon myself and those around me. It would be easy to blame myself, just as it would be easy to blame other people for my problems.

Mental Health is the same as any other illness. No one asks to become mentally ill, just the same way that no one asks to get cancer. I’ve described it this way to my dad, but he doesn’t really understand. No one wants to be ill, whether that be something visible or invisible.

And that is what Mental Illness is; it’s essentially an invisible illness, but with some very physical symptoms. People with mental illnesses can die, just the same way anyone with a physical illness can. Eating Disorders kill 70% of severe sufferers and I have twice, very almost, become a part of that statistic. I was “saved” with only hours to spare. Had I not gotten the help I did, then I would have certainly either died from mass organ failure or have killed myself. It wasn’t like I hadn’t already tried.

I don’t want to get into all the hairy scary details because honestly, I am trying to leave that part of my past where it is. It will always be a part of me and I will never be ashamed of what has happened to me, but I don’t want to dwell on my pain. Because doing that is no more effective than picking at a scab; it’s ugly, it hurts, it won’t make anything better and while there is a masochistic gratification in scratching at it, you are just making things worse in the long run, instant gratification isn’t everything.

So, here I go; my recovery journey: Round 2.

My new superhero mask for my new super powers of healing!

My new superhero mask for my new super powers of healing!

I hope you will join me on this journey. I would love to have you with me, be that as a sufferer of Anorexia or Depression or Anxiety, or just as someone who’s interested. I want to reduce stigma and show people that there is nothing to be ashamed of and that recovery is a journey we all must make. Join me! 🙂

See you soon!

Also, just for the banter, here’s a pic of me at Halloween! Off to the pub! I mean, to drink responsibly, of course 😄

Halloween 2015! I went as... absolutley nothing, a girl at the pub with glitter on her face, that;s who xD

Halloween 2015! I went as… absolutley nothing, a girl at the pub with glitter on her face, that;s who xD

SSDD

Radio Show Glasgow Adventure Time

Hey Hey Guys!!

Today has been a good day.

I had my first ever Radio Show, What’s Up With Gem?, on www.radiocaley.com, I got some life changing news and I saw (potentially) the love of my life. Yeah, y’all heard it! I’m making it  more than FBO; I’m taking that s**t to the BLOG!!

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

So today I have a lot to be thankful for. It all started this morning, early (too early for my student brain to get it’s tiny little temperament around, if I’m honest). My doctor gave me the news I’ve waited 106 days to hear. I literally skipped down the corridor from his office with glee that would make McKinley High School proud.

Then I got an email from Scotcampus (shout out, by the way!! Follow them dudes on twitter!!) saying that they would like to meet me for an interview for an internship! At a magazine! A real one, not just one that is online! I was about this excited last time this happened, with Source Magazine pity that one didn’t quite go as planned…

Then I had my first show on Radio Caley! Well wasn’t that something! Honestly, it was great. I’ve been on the radio before but I have never hosted my own show. Now, I have one every Tuesday! On my way to Uni (where the studio is) I passed by a girl busking. But she wasn’t just busking. Oh no, she was busking my first song!! FLEETWOOD MAC, GO YOUR OWN WAY!! This lovely lady was playing it 🙂

Lovely Busking Lady

Lovely Busking Lady

I saw a man playing a violin while on a tightrope… so that was a thing… (see above) Pretty standard practice on Buchannan Street, to be fair…

I bumped into an old friend on my way to the studio (which was lovely) then I got to present my show with one of my best friends as a guest, which was such a relief! He’s far more technically minded than me and fixed all my little (*ahem* potentially disastrous *ahem)* technical hitches without a thought. Which I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to do without him. Because I am so technically challenged it’s legendary. ( The tech guys in uni won’t let me borrow equipment without a tutors’ say… I try, guys, I really do…)

On the show there was a major topic I wanted to discuss. For the past 4 years I’ve been heavily involved in the Mental Health services of Scotland, mainly as a patient, but also as a volunteer. It’s a subject close to my heart because it’s affected not only me, but my family and friends, as an extension. I’ve been going through what my dad describes as “a little blip”, but what my psychiatrist would probably call “the reason he has a job“.

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I’m not sure I’m 100% comfortable revealing exactly what I’ve been going through, but I’ve hinted at it in previous posts. My point is, though, that this is Mental Health Awareness Month an I am a survivor. I’ve been through the worst (twice) and now, look. I survived. I’m back at Uni. I’m (hopefully) going to be interning at a magazine. I’m on the radio. There were only 5 listeners but still! That’s 5 people who I hope have been enlightened a little bit, amused, heartened or even just mildly entertained. If one of those 5 got any kind of enjoyment or education from my heartfelt statistics, then I consider that, job done.

What could have, and with my luck might well have, been a catastrophic black hole of a day, was actually something rather wonderful. I’m cherishing this day because there are so few like it for me. There are so few days when things actually go relatively to plan. So often there is something that plagues me, that s**ts all over everything, no matter how hard I try. I neglect self care because if I don’t love myself, then I can’t be disappointed when I receive no love in return.

Keeping it real

Keeping it real

I don’t seek attention, I seek to attend to others. But now, maybe it’s my turn. Maybe I will get the chance to be happy. So I’m going to work hard to make that happen.

SSDD

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.

images

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

The World’s Largest Ball of Wool and Getting Crafty

Hey Hey Guys!

I took a little trip this afternoon with a friend of mine, her mum, gran and pup pup (miniature schnowzer, Kiwi; I hate dogs but that little thing is a darling). We just got in the car and said, “So, where do you want to go today?”

The fact that we just took off, drove in a direction with the vague intention of locating a coffee somewhere picturesque was so… freeing.

I’m usually that super uptight cretin that has to know exactly when we are meeting and exactly who will be there and exactly how close a blood relative of yours was dying that meant that you were 6 and a half minutes late… Sorry, friends… But it was a lazy Saturday. Sure it was grey outside but we had 4 wheels and a radio. The country roads of coastal Scotland are a heaven for those with itchy feet but no intention of really going anywhere. One of the things I love about where I live is that you can simply drive to the middle of nowhere, take in the scenery and call it being somewhere.

We ended up in a little pocket of creativity known as West Kilbride; a hub of arts and crafts and apparently Scotlands’s official craft town! Who knew! We’re all knitters and chrocheters, but now we have been inspired to take up peddaling and spinning yarn on looms and… pretending to be Sleeping Beauty or something… I dunno, but it was a lovely place anyway.

GIANT BALL OF WOOL!!

GIANT BALL OF WOOL!!

There was a gorgeous wool shop in town. We were drawn to it by the MASSIVE BALL OF COLOURED WOOL hanging outside the door. It was just… interesting, and a little bizarre. It tickled my funny bone so I took a pic and inside, was greeted with some of the softest wool I’ve ever felt, made from Alpaca! Can you say luxurious!? Clothing made out of that would be like getting stroked by… well, I’ll let you fill in the blank there 😉

Georgeous Antique clock

Georgeous Antique clock

Eventually we found our coffee and cakes in a cafe in Sea Mill. It seemed to literally pop up at the side of a road with nothing for miles in any direction. It simply seemed to be there and expect people to find it. Which they did. Considering we never passed any houses, the place was a pleasantly bustling little heaven from the biting cold wind blowing off the salty Clyde. Nothing like a crisp breeze and the lure of mediocre coffee to drive you off the road.

Well, that was my Saturday. Til next week! (When I am predicting I’m going to need a serious sleep coz it will be at the end of my first week back at Uni…)

Follow me in Instagram!

SSDD

Happy New Year!

Hey Hey Guys!

Very briefly, some best wishes from yours truly. No long winded, sappy crap about 2014 being the best/worst year of my life and how 2015 is going to be the best year yet, for everyone!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Just this:

  • Do the thing that scares you.
  • Whatever happened in the past is part of you and denying it is naive and will stop you learning valuable lessons.
  • You are what the world has made you, but that isn’t all bad.
  • Look to the future and look to the stars.
  • Set yourself goals, not resolutions. You are more likely to achieve the things you want to. Life is forever changing anyway, try to be flexible with it.

“We are all laying in the gutter; only some of us are looking at the stars”

– Oscar Wilde

Cheers!

SSDD

Reconnecting With the People That Matter

Hey Hey Guys!

Travel is exciting. But it has a down side.

my parents and I

my parents and I in Barcelona

It’s been 4 months since I saw one of my best friends. Since I came home just over 2 weeks ago I have tried my best to get back in touch with all the people I’ve missed most since I left, which hasn’t been easy given, you know, people having lives and all that.

And one of my lovely ladies has been particularly elusive given that she works every hour of the day and never takes a break. But today, we had a wee lunch date! As soppy as it might sound, but when i say that 4 foot 10 little lady walking towards me, I really felt happy. I have felt this way another three times since I landed back in Scotland. The first time was when I saw my parents coming towards me as I waited in the airport lounge. Granted, my grin was likely to have been marred somewhat by the frigid air blowing in from outside, but the sentiment was the same.

The second time was when the knock, knock, knocking on my door, a week after I got home, announced the arrival of two of my other best friends. I was dressed in all my glamour, bobbin’ robin pyjama bottoms, no make-up and messy bun, of course. 😉 When you see friends like that, you cannot fake the grin that pastes itself on your face, nor the rosy glow that flushes your cheeks.

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The third was when my best friend at uni and I caught up. The first thing I did was laugh at how much I missed her Northern accent and, other when she broke the news that her radio show was being cut (R.I.P Fred McCauley show!!!!!) I didn’t stop laughing til I realised I wouldn’t be getting another hug from her til after the New year! Noooooooooo!! (Love you Lambie 😛 )

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So when I saw said friend today, it was much the same feeling. I knew she has been working hard, knew her beloved dog had been sick, yet here she was, with me, and it was lovely.

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Super thoughtful Christmas present!

Ew, whipped cream... dat Carrot Cake though!

Ew, whipped cream… dat Carrot Cake though!

Present exchanges and several hours of gabbing and puppy adoration later (her dog was sick but is back being a bundle of joy again! This coming from someone who hates dogs…) and we both had other places to be. Life is a pain sometimes.

But seeing her today made me realise something. That is me, now. I have seen everyone I care most about since my return home. I have reconnected with the people who have stayed in touch with me, despite the ocean of distance that separated us for so many months. Just in time for the new year.

I hope that this is a sign. I hope that this is a symbol that these are the people I am going to travel into 2015 with, hand in metaphorical hand, no matter whether we bring in the bells on Hogmanay together or apart. I’m not really one for the whole, new year, new me, business, but I’m hoping that it’s going to be a new year, same people to share it with, kind of deal.

I have made so many new friends this past few months and I hope that I will encounter many of them again in the future. But I have also missed the connection I have with those I left at home. I have been with my best friends since I was 5. They are a stirling group of gals and I wouldn’t replace them for the world.

We have seen each other through the elated highs and most proud successes. We have stressed over every exam and bitched about every teacher. We got drunk together for the first time and held back hair when the times that came after went a little too far. Boys had no secrets and every outfit for first dates was a group decision.

They held my hand when I literally thought I was going to die and we have no secrets. I want to share the rest of my life with them because they have saved me and brought me back from the brink when I was on the verge of my sanity. It’s a bigamist marriage, of sorts. Each one of them is a gem and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

20140812_195430 greer jill and gemma jill and greer

Love you ladies.

SSDD

Studying in Barcelona – Part 1 – ANTICIPATION

SO I spent the past couple of months studying in BARCELONA – y’know, just casually, no big 😉

And I thought I would share my experiences here. I haven’t got a set number so I’m just going to be posting them as they come to me. This first one was actually published on the wonderful site of Soapbox Press, who kindly let me write a few articles about my travels. So here it is, the first post about my adventures in Spain – ENJOY!

Also, check out Soapbox Press! 😀 http://soapboxpress.co.uk/

This was 5 minutes from my flat. For real

This was 5 minutes from my flat. For real

Growing up and growing old come with a myriad of choices and expectations. And I  am going to be delivering you with a series of articles about how some of these choices have affected me.

Towards the end of high school you have to decide when to leave school; whether to go to University or college or just to get a job and work your way up; if you go on to further education, where and to study what; if you should move out; if that thing with that guy was just a party thing or if he’s actually the one… the new responsibilities are endless and the choices you make now can affect your entire life.

I am in my 3rd year of a Multimedia Journalism course at Glasgow Caledonian University. I decided to take a deviation of the academic route by going to University (the “academic” thing) but doing a degree that would allow me to be be creative as well as learn (the “artistic” route).

Since I was 15 years old, I was determined that I would make it to University. I had always been a hard worker and my grades were good. But I knew that the competition for a subject such as journalism was fierce, so I got my hand into as much freelance and work experience as I could and when crunch time came – I made the cut! From 800 applicants, I was one of the lucky 36 to be accepted.

A huge part of picking your University id working out if the options it offers are right for you. What services and opportunities will it provide to get you where you want to be, and if you are not sure yet (as so few 16-20 year olds do) then what can they suggest to you that might help guide you onto a path.

What attracted me to GCU was the chance to travel abroad in the third year. And, after five years hard graft, I am headed to Barcelona!

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. The process has not quite been everything I dreamed it would be.

My fanciful teenage mind had romanticised the whole process. Over the years of anticipating this event, I had not thought about the landmine of paperwork, red tape regarding funding, ‘I’s to be dotted, ‘t’s to be crossed, meetings and consultations to be had, more e-mails than the internet can surely handle, sent across two countries and endless arguing with faceless officials who’s job seems purely to put up as many road blocks as possible. Whew! It’s exhausting even to think about.

But as of Tuesday 9th of September, I am off to Barcelona. The flat is booked, the room mates and I are ready to move in and, on Friday 5th of September – I am still not packed. But I will be, when the time comes.

To conclude this first piece, my main comments are these.

It has been a long, hard road to get to this stage. I have had to work extremely hard to get to this point, overcoming personal struggles as well as fighting off competition to be able to get here. It will be fun, right?

I certainly hope so, because seeing as this is my first time with responsibility for my own place, and I have to live with two boys for the next four months, I am terrified!

SSDD