Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

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

Wednesday (3)

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

Wednesday (3)

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!

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

It’s my Birthday today and I’m celebrating by having the day off from work!  Seriously, booking my Birthday off as annual leave has been a long-standing tradition which started when I was in primary school.

My birthday falls just before school half term and my Mum would never let me have my Birthday off from school unlike my friends Mum who aaaaalllllwwaaaayyyysss let her have her Birthday off if it fell on a school day.  I vowed then, when I was 6 years old, in the middle of the playground, on a damp October morning, when I had been made to leave my new Birthday toys at home and attend school, that when I was an “adult” and working I would never, ever, never work on my birthday ever.

As soon as the annual leave renews itself (in my current job it is every April that we get our new holiday allowance for the year) I book my Birthday off.  And every job I have had, it has always been questioned as my employers always think that booking off a day in October when it is the first week of April is a bit weird, but it is one promise that I made to myself that I vow to keep and so far I’m doing pretty good!

So, my plans for today?  Well, even though this will be published at 8am (UK time) I will probably still be sleeping (this schedule thing is totally amazing!) and plan on having a lie-in with Roxy until late morning.  I then plan on getting up and making myself a lovely fresh, proper coffee, toast and marmalade and sitting to enjoy it before opening my presents from my brother, his wife and my niece and nephew.  I will then get dressed and head to my local pet shop.  I got given a fish tank from a friend as part of my birthday presents, and I have a voucher to use so I intend to get some bits and pieces for it – gravel, lights, ornaments, bubble thing and get it all set up and running so I can add fish to it in a few weeks time.

In the afternoon my Mum and Dad are coming over so I shall spend some time with them, have a cuppa and maybe something to eat.  In the evening I plan on snuggling up on the sofa in my fleecy, fluffy jimjams and socks, with Roxy and a blanket and watching The Apprentice.

I may treat myself to a bit of a pamper and a bubble bath and read a bit of my book before getting to bed at a reasonable time!

Do you have any Birthday traditions?  I’d love to hear if you do, or don’t and why or how they came about so let me know in the comments!

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

Google informed me that it is Mental Health Week in America this week which coincides with my Words On Wednesday post where I wanted to talk about my mental health as I feel like I haven’t done an update in ages.

I’m still taking my Sertraline which the Dr prescribed to me over a year ago now.  My current dosage is 150mgs though I am currently wondering whether I should go back to the Dr for a review as I’m not sure that the dosage I am taking is enough or if the Sertraline is still the best medication for me.

I’ve been having sleep issues, again, recently, from hardly sleeping one day to sleeping nearly the full day away the next and I’m feeling constantly tired.  I’ve been putting this down to my shoulder pain but I’m starting to worry that it could be a dip in my mental health.

I do get more tired as the season’s change, the dull days and damp weather affect my mood quite a bit normally, so perhaps this is not something to worry about too much but maybe a visit to the dr would be a good idea.

I’m pretty lucky that I have close friends and family who I can talk to about how I’m feeling and that they check up on me regularly but I do urge you to pay attention to friends and family and to chat with them about how they are really feeling, especially as the weather changes.  So many people are affected by SAD and having a friend to speak with can help tremendously.

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that at the beginning of 2019 I left Facebook however I have now returned (as I revealed in My Blog is 1!!!!).  I have made the choice to return to Facebook after a lot of thought and deliberation, weighing up the pros and cons of what Facebook can do for me that other platforms can’t.

My reasons for returning…

  • I wanted to make a Facebook group for fellow bloggers to share their posts in, be able to network and interact with others and ask for advice or share ideas and opinions, the group is called Bloggers Brew, please come and join us!
  • Advertise Colourful Cactus Designs to the right audience.  As I am mainly doing graphic and logo work for bloggers, their social media and websites it made sense to advertise on social media.  I didn’t feel that Instagram, with its ever-changing algorithms, was the best fit for Colourful Cactus Designs (though I do share my design work there, you can check out the Instagram feed here) and Twitter seems to be a better fit for having conversations rather than any kind of advertising.
  • There are a few groups that I wanted to join that are most active on Facebook which offers help, advice and support on things I am interested in which are beneficial to me.
  • I want to see if having a Facebook page for my blog will increase my reach, this is more out of interest than anything else at the moment, however, the outcome may influence a few ideas I have for future blog items.

I am not really interested in adding many people to my Facebook, from previous experience I didn’t really gain anything from it.  This time, my return is purely to use it as a tool to further ideas that I have and for helping fellow bloggers.

Have you ever left a social media platform and then returned?  What were your reasons?  I’d be really interested in your thoughts and experiences so let me know in the comments!

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

In this day and age, there are so many pressures on kids to obtain good grades, get into college and university, find a career and make so many life choices but one thing that kids leaving education seem to be lacking in life skills.

Life skills are things like learning to pay bills, money management, how to cook for themselves, shop on a budget, mend clothing, carry out simple repair jobs, car maintenance, iron, use a washing machine, DIY, even things like time management.  These skills are becoming less and less learned and more and more likely to be outsourced to other people to undertake for them.

I was one of the oldest when I was in uni and I watched the students who were younger than me (by around 15 years) struggle to cope with day to day life, from managing money, shopping on a budget to managing time when it came to juggling uni work, part-time jobs and a social life.

It was sad to see in a way.  But is the education system to blame or is it the other adults in those kids lives that should be more hands-on in teaching these skills?  I think it should be the responsibility of both parties.  Parents are under a lot of financial strain and many need to work and may be too tired when they come home to teach these skills so the education system should have a part to play in teaching basics.

I used to have home economics in school (I believe it is now called food technology…) where I was taught how to make pizza, fruit salad and some sort of rice salad but we were never taught how to cost out these meals per portion or how to create a full meal to feed a family, it has taken me a lot of time and effort to get to where I am now.  I was lucky though that my Grandma and Mum would spend time with us kids in the kitchen teaching us how to make lasagne, pasta sauces, roast dinner, and so many other meals.  Other kids are not so lucky.

When I was growing up, my brother and I always had chores to do around the house, from dusting and hoovering to washing up, laundry, making the beds and all sorts of other jobs so we learned a lot that way.  We also helped my Dad when things needed fixing and gained loads of knowledge that way too.

I hope that something changes for the kids of tomorrow as I think that they are being put into a vulnerable position by not having a skill set that includes a certain amount of life skills.

What do you think about the skills that kids today have?  Would they benefit from some kind of life skills classes?  What do you think they should learn?  I’d love to hear about your thoughts in the comments.

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

When did people become so obsessed with being internet famous?

Did it start when the likes of Kim Kardashian and Co shot to fame, or the rise in social media influencers, or even just YouTube being so accessible and easy to use?

I overheard a conversation where a mother was talking to another mother about her daughter’s lack of interest in college work or getting a job, working towards a career as the daughter “really wants to be an influencer on social media and is happy to sit at home posting videos day in day out.”

In some ways I get it, I really do, especially when you read of the money some people have made, and the careers some have carved out for themselves, though, when you look at the work that these people have put in to get where they are, its much more work than I do in my day to day job.

I have been thinking about the conversation I overheard, and if I was young now, being an influencer may seem like a totally legitimate, and easy way to make money while being famous as well, posting pretty pictures on Instagram and running a YouTube channel where I talk about my latest shopping purchases, but is it sustainable?

The internet is full of people trying to make a fast buck and be the next Kim or Khloe, so much so, nearly every other image on Instagram seems to be some kind of promotion to get me to part with cash, affiliate links run wild on blogs that are really not that well written in the first place, it’s such a saturated market that it will be hard to succeed.

I also feel that this kind of “career” is not very sustainable, the money coming in is not steady and you are working from day to day to hit some sort of target in order to bring in enough money to survive.  I know how much I need day to day and having to worry about how I am going to make it is not for me, I like the security that my day job gives me.

You may like to think that you are your own boss, but you are at the mercy of companies letting you promote their goods and to your audience, for them to buy the products using the links you provide.  If you say something that others don’t like these deals could be taken off the table and that’s your career over.

And what happens when the next person comes along who can do everything better? Do you get dropped and forgotten about like a bit of old litter?

I can’t help but think that this obsession with being “Internet Famous” is unhealthy, surely a lot of it is a popularity contest of sorts that could do more harm than good in the long run?

What do you think about being “internet famous”?  Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your views

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I’ve had the tv on for a fair amount of time over the past few weeks, partly as background noise and partly to fill my time when I have been unable to do tasks I want to because of my injured shoulder.  In that time I have seen a large number of adverts, which is what I want to talk about today.

Does sexism still exist, especially in advertising?  From all of the adverts I have seen I am pretty sure that the answer is yes.  I’ve seen adverts for weight loss aids, healthy eating plans, skincare in the form of facial treatments to shower gels and moisturisers, haircare, clothing, shoes and accessories, these adverts have predominantly featured women and been aimed at women.

Advertising seems to be one market that, should an alien being watch, they may come to the conclusion that women are obsessed with their looks and not much else.  All of the women I know or have met, at any stage in their life, are a lot less superficial than the adverts will have you believe.  Women have hobbies and interests, some like to go running, camping, to gigs, motorbiking, gardening, others may be the main fixer of things, researcher, reader, gamer, so why do these kinds of advert still exist?

From my general experience, men have skincare concerns and may want to take better care of their skin (shaving aside), men shower and use shampoo, some even use conditioner, men may want to lose weight or eat more healthy, men buy clothes, shoes and accessories so why are we not seeing an equal amount of this kind of advert being targeted at men?

It’s no wonder that women feel under pressure to look a certain way, buy into the latest fashion fads and spend so much time in the bathroom either getting rid of hair or covering up the ones they do have with another colour.  And it is no surprise that so many women have body hangups when we see this kind of advertising day in day out.

Are we ever able to escape this nonsense without having to get rid of our televisions, avoid magazines and cancel our internet subscriptions?

If you have any thoughts on anything raised here, let me know in the comments!  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this!

I wrote a similar post a while ago about targeted advertising which you can read here.