Words on Wednesday – Spreading Positivity

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You may have read yesterday’s blog post where I shared with you my mental health struggles that have been compounded by the coronavirus outbreak and though I am still struggling I have been finding ways to cope with the anxieties I have at the moment.

I spent a lot of the day doing housework, or more specifically, deep cleaning my bathroom.  I know that cleaning is not that high up on a lot of peoples “fun ways to spend time” lists but I find that it helps me a great deal, I can focus on what needs doing, how to clean and do the best job that I can.  I put some music on (if you are interested I listened to Greenday’s Greatest Hits and Gomez’s Bring It On albums), sang and bleached and scrubbed and mopped for a good few hours.

I also, after sending a few pics to a friend and having a conversation with them, I was inspired to use the virus isolation in a positive way.  So many of us are self-isolating and social distancing which can be hard for people, like me, who have mental health problems, but we are all doing incredible things at home to alleviate the boredom and finding ways to adapt to this new way of life. So, I created a new Instagram account (you can find it by searching @the_stay_home_club or by clicking here) which I want to use to share my own, and others, photos of fun things that they are doing while in isolation and staying at home.  I want the space to be a place of positivity, fun and full of inspiration, hints, tips and recommendations that can be shared with others who are in the stay home club.

I would love to see photos of things that you are doing while at home, whether it is the space you now occupy while working, what you are cooking, creating, how you are spending your time, what you are wearing (I’ve been wearing pjs and a hoodie much of the day), are you trying out something new (whether it is some kind of fashion, hairstyle, recipe or DIY), what sort of projects you are doing with your kids or even projects that you are doing, things you are watching, reading, listening to or playing, or something that is making you smile.  Anything that you are doing could inspire or help someone else and I want to help spread a little bit of positivity and inspiration to others using the powers of social media.  But, I can’t do this alone so I am asking for you to do a few things for me

  1. Come and follow me on Instagram, tag your photos using the #the_stay_home_club and @the_stay_home_club so I can find and share your photos*.
  2. Share the account on your social media sites and ask your friends to get involved.
  3. If you don’t have Instagram and want to share any photos please email them to me (colourful.life@outlook.com) and I will share them to Instagram for you**.

The more people that get involved the more positivity, inspiration and smiles will be shared.  Together we can make these scary and uncertain times a little bit brighter.

Will you help to spread a few smiles with me?

  • *credit will be given and your account tagged in any images that I re-post.
  • **I will add your blog handle or blog address to any images that you would like shared.  Alternatively, should you wish to remain anonymous let me know and I will just share them for you.

 

Words On Wednesday – Coronavirus

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I’m currently in self-isolation; I have a bit of a cough and a sore throat, which in normal circumstances would not stop me carrying on my normal life of working and going places but due to the coronavirus I have decided to play it safe and stay away from others.

It is pretty scary how quickly the virus is spreading and we all have a responsibility, not just for our own health but for the health of others in order to protect the more vulnerable of our communities.  This also means that we need to place a great deal of trust in the others around us that they will self-isolate if there are signs that they are presenting with that could be detrimental to our health.

I have really bad anxiety which has gotten worse as more and more cases of the virus has presented itself coupled with my distrust in others and also the panic buying situation.  Both my parents and my friends, along with seeing images on social media, have reported shortages of all kinds of items which are causing my anxiety to soar.  As a person that needs to budget and has a meal plan and a list of things I need to buy on a monthly and weekly basis the panic buying situation in the UK is not helping matters.  I budget what for what I need on a monthly basis and am unsure of what the availability of the things I need will be when it comes to shopping and am not sure of the availability of items when I go shopping.

These are scary times that we are facing and I urge you all to self-isolate if you have any of the symptoms and also not to panic buy, think of the person that surround you and show compassion and kindness to those around you.

Words on Wednesday

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I have signed up for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge, a blog challenge that starts with a topic of your choice beginning with A on the 1st of April and ending with a Z on the 30th April (skipping Sundays!)  I took part last year and really enjoyed it so have decided to participate again this year too!  I have a theme all ready to go and am drafting my introduction post this week to be ready for the last day in March!

I love a blog challenge and have tried my hand, so far, at Blogtober, Blogmas and Blogging from A-Z.  I am considering taking part in NaNoWriMo this year instead of doing Blogtober and Blogmas, or maybe even doing all 3 but that’s a long way off!  I love that these challenges can boost the sense of community, encourage us to support other bloggers/writers, introduce us to new blogs, push our skills, encourage us to write better and more engaging content, learn more and have fun along the way.  Another great thing is that it gives us the freedom to try something new with our blogs without the commitment of making a full change, we can test things out, see if we like them and if ourselves and our readers like them we can use them in the future, the same goes for trying something and then it not being as successful as we thought it was, we can drop it for the time being.

Are you taking part in any blog challenges this year?  Let me know in the comments as I’d love to know your thoughts on blog challenges and the ones you do (or don’t!) take part in!

 

Words on Wednesday – A Catch-Up!

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I feel like I haven’t done a catch-up post in ages, and thanks to not having internet for a while I haven’t…. but, I am back today to share with you what I have been up to for the past few weeks.

I gathered a few friends for another Crafternoon a few weekends ago and we had a really lovely time being taught cake decoration by my friend Jez.  We had a brilliant time and raised some funds for Mind, a mental health charity (you can read more about Mind here).  If you would like to donate, you can do so via this link to my JustGiving page.

There were 5 of us in total and we got to decorate cupcakes that had been baked by Jez with different coloured butter icing and piping bags with different nozzle attachments, we then got to add all manner of different embellishments to finish them off!  I was really pleased with how mine turned out even though I hadn’t really thought about design and just wanted to try all the things!  Lol!

I bought some sparkly gin that I enjoyed one evening, it was raspberry trifle flavoured but wasn’t sickly sweet and was lovely with tonic water!

I bought some flowers that were on clearance in my local Tesco, it was the anniversary of my Grandma’s passing so I wanted to take some flowers up to my Grandpa and her grave, I ended up buying a few bunches for myself too!  They had been marked up at £10 per bunch but on clearance, they were only £2.70 which I thought was crazy as the buds hadn’t fully opened or anything.  It took them nearly 2 full weeks to fully bloom.

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The weather has been really crazy here, lots of storms, high winds, rain, hail, sleet and snow.  Luckily none of the snow has stuck but lots of places have been affected by really bad flooding.  Roxy and I have spent a lot of time snuggled up and staying in, away from the bad weather.  I did treat myself to some icecream one evening and we sat and watched a few films together, Roxy is an excellent inspector of empty icecream containers!img_7221

Aside from that, I have been working on a few projects that I might reveal soon!  I have a few different plans and ideas that I want to work out and see what happens first though!

What have you all been up to?  I’d love to hear any news you may have or anything you have been up to in the comments!!!

Words On Wednesday

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I don’t really follow the news but one headline and news story really caught my eye – the death of Caroline Flack and it made me feel so sad, for her, her family and her friends.  I don’t want to start speculating about what happened but it really got me thinking about how we all act and carry out our day to day lives.

It is so easy for us to formulate negative thoughts and opinions about others by what we read, see and hear, and it is even easier for us to voice these thoughts and opinions via social media, emails, text messages and in day to day conversations, and it is really easy for us to agree with others when we hear their points of view.  We forget that the subject of these opinions is a human being who has thoughts, views and opinions of their own, along with a life we know nothing about, a story of their own to tell, fears and dreams loves and hates…

This negativity towards another human being is strongly seen in the media against famous people but so many of us have had negativity aimed at us, whether it is physical or emotional, written or spoken, and yet we still continue with sharing our own thoughts and opinions about others.

We need to start being kind, not just to ourselves but to each other, when someone speaks derogatorily about another we need to be the one to challenge those views rather than just agreeing.  We need to stop sharing stories about others that may or may not be true and we need to stop and think before we say anything.  There are 2 sides to each story and unless we can see both sides and understand the full picture then we really can not judge someone else.

Today’s culture means that we see things daily, and often things are shared on social media repetitively, especially sensationalised news items, and we believe them to be true, but we need to step back from this and think about the person involved in the story and the impact these stories have on their lives. The less we share these kinds of items or buy papers or magazines that print negativity the less we are feeding the beast that is so harmful to us all.

It would be brilliant if there was no kind of hate or negativity in the world and the only way we can do that is to be kind to each other.

Rest In Peace Caroline.

Be Anything You Want But Always Be Kind

 

Words On Wednesday

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I have had lots of success with obtaining things second hand, either for free or for cheap from places like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Ebay and have spent time perusing things for sale or free on local Facebook groups too (its a secret hobby of mine!) but I’m starting to see, more and more often, some things which, when selling an item, are big no-no’s.  Here are a few examples

  • “First to view will buy”.  Surely this is asking for a ton of people just coming to view then saying “nah, sorry, not really interested” and messing the seller around.
  • “Used but good condition”.  I have no problems with this statement if it is true but some of the items are so used they really should be taken to the skip.
  • “Might need a clean”.  Then looking at the accompanying photos and the item is disgustingly grubby.
  • “Pet and smoke-free home”.  All well and good when the attached pictures include a pet sitting in the background.
  • “A few scratches”.  Scratches?  It looks like it has been run over by a dumper truck!  (I was looking at mobile phones and it was clear the screen was totally smashed!)

While these things are big no-no’s they have taught me something when selling items online and here are some of my top-selling tips

  • Make sure the item is clean and in good condition – would you want to buy it?
  • Take clear photos of any damage or wear and tear.
  • Be honest – if you have pets or smoke then don’t advertise that it is from a smoke/pet free home.
  • Look at other similar items and price accordingly.
  • Take photos in natural light and include any accessories that you are selling with it.
  • Be clear and concise in your advert –  don’t waffle.
  • Respond to any messages about the item as soon as you are able.  There is nothing more frustrating for a prospective buyer to not get a response or get one that is late.

Have you ever sold or bought anything second-hand?  What have your experiences been like?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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I’ve been listening to the audiobook “How the Pill Changes Everything” By Sarah E Hillwhich is a book about how the contraceptive pill can affect you as a person, from how you think, fell and react to things around you.  It has made me think, in depth, about myself and in particular, my mental health.  One of the points raised in the book is how the pill can change how you deal with stress and anxiety, sometimes it can have a numbing effect on these things or in other cases it has made these things worse.

I have been on some form of contraceptive since I was around 18, not just to avoid pregnancy, but to regulate my periods, which were somewhat haphazard, all over the place and never regular.  Back then, I never really thought too much about the effects it could have on me aside from a mention of the possibility of putting on weight but the other, less talked about effects on mental health and general wellbeing were never bought up and I never even thought to ask about them as they were never common knowledge.

My first round of anti-depressants was prescribed to me at the age of 22 when I was put on Seroxat.  I was tearful a lot of the time and was experiencing anxiety attacks, hardly sleeping and felt like my mind was constantly on.  I took the Seroxat for around 3 months then came off of them because of the negative press around the medication.

After that I was around 27 when I was prescribed another anti-depressant though I can’t remember the name of it, and now, I have been taking Sertraline for the past year.

Since listening to the book I have realised that there is a link between these periods of anti-depressants and taking the pill.  I have no idea whether they are truly linked or if I have just created a link from listening to the book but it has made me think a lot about the contraceptive pill and how I have been feeling emotionally.

I think, the thing that worries me most is that I have been prescribed the contraceptive pill without too much fuss or much questioning from the doctor to ascertain whether the pill is the right form of contraception for me and that I have willingly taken the prescription, collected the medication and taken it without much thought about what it could be doing to my mental health.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so let me know in the comments!

Words On Wednesday

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Is enough being done to support employees who have mental health problems?  This is one question that has arisen since attending the HPMA Awards Ceremony last week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how well people with mental health problems are supported in their employment.  When I was signed off by the doctor back in September last year with stress, anxiety and depression I had to phone my place of employment on a weekly basis to update my manager on how I was feeling and how my treatment plan was going.  I was already experiencing stress and anxiety and this seemed to cause me further distress as part of my illness meant that I was getting over-anxious and finding it difficult to talk to anyone.  Couple that with my Aspergers which makes it difficult for me to vocalise my thoughts and feelings and get nervous about phone conversations and I was in a really difficult space.  I understand that my employer needed to know how I was recovering but when I was seeing the doctor on a fortnightly basis and being signed off for a fortnight at a time I did feel that the level of contact expected of me was a bit much at times.

When I returned to work I was introduced back to the working environment on a phased return which was a really good thing to get me used to being back in a working routine in the office and to test the waters with how I was feeling.

Now though, I feel like I am on my own where it comes to my mental health.  Unlike a lot of illnesses and other medical problems (like a broken leg for example), I will not fully heal and suddenly be better.  I have days where I am feeling brilliant, weeks when I am good or ok and then there are times that I really do struggle.  I have days where I have to drag myself to work and fight to stay for the day rather than run home and sleep.

Those bad days are the worst.  People often think that because you have managed to get to work that you must be fine and expect you to continue with your work as you had been on your good days.

The alternative to going to work on a bad day is to phone up and take a day off as a sick day.  I have not done this as I have no idea how to explain to someone that my mental health is such that I really can not face work.  I am also aware that the sickness policy is such that 3 sets of absence act as a trigger for a sickness review where a meeting with my line manager would take place and my “illnesses” discussed.  Any additional absences trigger further warnings until eventually you are dismissed from your job.  The policy for sickness may differ from place to place but for my last 4 jobs the same policy has been in place.

The big question is, should mental health be treated as a sickness under the sickness policy?  I’m not sure that it should be as it is something that has varying degrees of being ok or not.  I think that there should be an understanding between employer and employee with regards to mental health, and taking a day off because of mental health should be allowed, not be taken as a sick day, annual leave or as unpaid leave.  I think that employees who are either on medication or under their doctor or mental health worker should have some kind of special leave granted for when things become too overwhelming.

I can see that special leave for mental health could be abused by an employee but I feel that if it was monitored correctly then people would not need to take days off here and there.

More could be done by the employer too, whether it is having regular “check-ins” with their employee just to see if all is ok when the employee is in work, or just noticing if the employee has changed, for example – becoming more withdrawn when they used to be chatty, getting less work done than before, if they appear to be getting more stressed out…

What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to have conversations with you in the comments about this.

Words on Wednesday

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Do you ever feel like there is not enough day to your day?  This past few weeks, even with planning my time I have been feeling like I don’t have enough time to do everything and that I need more time at the end of each day to get everything done.

I feel that I am seriously in the catch-up zone…I need to catch up on blog posts (I have loads that I have planned to write but not yet gotten around to), responding to comments and e-mails, housework, reading, laundry and a load of other little things.

I know it is nothing major that I need to catch up on, and most of it can wait until another day, but I really hate being behind with things, especially when I try to plan things out so well.

I don’t think it has helped that my shoulder is still painful, or that I feel pretty tired when I get home from work either.

I have managed to finish my logo design for the work competition and I even put together a PowerPoint presentation so I could explain how I came to my final idea.  I am also halfway through getting Willow’s journal ready to send her (she won my giveaway!).  I have also been keeping up with Blogtober and also Inktober too so all is not lost!

Do you ever feel like you are playing catch-up?  How do you manage it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!