Perks of being Manx: Isle of Man TT

I’ve lived on the Isle of Man since I was three and yet it was only once I came to university that I began to appreciate the Isle of Man TT.

Now, I’d probably say that the Isle of Man TT is the marmite of the island: you have the people who love it, and the people who purposely book a two week holiday to France to avoid it.

You see, the TT literally overtakes the island for two weeks during the summer. And by ‘take over’ I mean the population is doubled with leather and helmets, the roads are rammed with motorbikes with foreign license plates and there’s a huge increase in the number of accents you hear in the pub– which is unusual in itslf considering the lack of variation when it comes to the cultures on the island to start with.

But there’s several problems with it as well, especially for the residents. First, the increase in accents also means the number of people in your local is going to trip– having an hour wait at the bar is never fun.

Second, the come-overs on their bikes simply love that our little island doesn’t have a national speed limit. While in the UK you’re restricted to 70mph, over here certain sections are literally unlimited. Though you’re supposed to translate as ‘only go as fast as you can control’, many read it literally.

There’s nothing good about 100+ mph and surprise cliff edged roads.

That brings me onto my third issue: the danger.

With my vague knowledge of the TT I don’t really know much about the history, but I do know that it is to this day the statistically most dangerous race in the world.

Take out the speed, you have wildlife to worry about!

But here it is again– two weeks of revving and beer. So let’s enjoy it while the sun lasts eh!

x

Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety

Firstly, apologies for not posting on Monday– it’s not good that my schedule has already gone down the pan so soon after making it! — but I do have an excuse.

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week. Someone of you might have seen the posts all of social media, some of you might not have even realised. But in my case I feel very personally about it so it’s something I like to pay attention to, especially since this year’s theme is on anxiety.

So why didn’t I write a post?

Well, like I said, anxiety is a very personal topic for me. I knew that would be my theme for my blog post this week and that hasn’t changed. I even started writing several different posts. But I really struggled.

If you check out my post My Four Post Confession: Trichotillomania that’ll explain why I feel so personally about this topic. But it’s not something I’ve exactly kept a secret, especially on this blog, it’s just not something I shout from the rooftops.

And that was my problem.

I have had trichotillomania since I was 11, and even at 22 I don’t feel like I’m an expert on the topic. Yes, I’ve researched it; I’ve tried and tested several methods to stop myself pulling; I’ve even checked out some of the communities on Facebook and Twitter to understand how other people cope with it.

But I know I’m not an expert so I feel like a fraud to offer people advice on the topic.

My problem though is people who do feel that they are experts.

I’ve seen people in these groups offering medical advice, despite the fact they’ve not even made it to university never mind completed a medical degree. I’ve even had someone turn around to me today and tell me that I didn’t even have the condition because I’ve not been diagnosed by a doctor.

That’s a blow after 11 years!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the need for this sense of community. Though I don’t post in them myself, it’s like the fitness groups I talk in; everyone needs a support network and after growing up being laughed at I know this all too well.

But there is a difference between offering some suggestions and telling people how to feel.

The worst thing is, a lot of these people are barely teenagers themselves!

Personally I feel that it can be extremely patronising and while the majority of the people on these sites simply try and offer comfort and an ear, which is always greatly appreciated, it’s easy to get shot down with such a fragile condition.

So my advice?

If you feel you have trich, or any mental condition, then yes do try and seek expert advice. Yes, there are methods out there to help you– whether it be medication, therapy or anything else. If your doctor, like many of mine, tell you it’s ‘just a phase’ and you don’t feel comfortable with this then get a second opinion. If your parents don’t understand then research it and explain it to them, same with if your friends. My own mother called me a freak for five years before a friend of hers explained what the condition was– and that was before even I knew what it was!

The worst thing you can do is listen to one person who tells you something negative and take it as fact. In the end it could just make you feel worse and I know from experience that feeling bad isn’t going to help you at all.

x

I’m Going to be HOW OLD?

So I’ve just realised that today mark’s eight months since I turned 22– which, of course, means that I only have four months until I’m 23.

Seriously, TWENTY THREE!

And the fact that this is causing me to break out in a cold sweat is worrying since I always thought the mental breakdown over my age would come on my 25th.

I dread to see what happens then…

But anyway, I’ll be 23. I remember when one of my friends turned 23 and we all laughed at him, being the naive 18 year olds that we were. Twenty three was old and by 23 you were expected to have a job, a life, on your way to getting engaged.

This guy was still living with his parents (and their bank accounts).

In all honesty it’s not like I’ve got anything to worry about. My entire life I’ve been ‘too old for my age’ and when I hit 20 I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life of coure but I felt like a 20something.

I’d wanted to be a 20 something since I stumbled across a blog using the term.

20somethings didn’t have the lack of independence that a child did, or the negative connotations that being a teenager held– no, a 20something could do what they wanted, when they wanted. We’re encouraged to make wild decisions, to go travelling and partying, to find yourself without the constraints of a family.

So why does it feel that that freedom is disappearing?

Even though I’m still a 20something, I’m starting to realise that it might only be the ‘early’ 20somethings who can do that. By early I mean those pre 25 year olds. The rest of us need to be settling down, having kids, getting a career and buying our first homes.

Considering my diet consists of supernoodles and take aways, I better do a helluva lot of growing up in the next two years!

Postgraduation Problems: How to survive an alnighter in the library

If you decide to study a postgraduate degree, most of you will quickly come to realise that eventually you will have the joyful experience of spending the night in the library.

And I hope this isn’t due to being kicked out of your accomodation. Or, if you’re like me, you end up there in a very drunk state*

No in most cases you’ll be in a mad panic to get those final assignments completed. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are not enough hours in the day when it comes to assignments, though might just be due to my procrasination skills!

Personally I’ve always prefered the library at night. I’m lucky enough to have access to a 24 hour library and given how busy it gets during the day, especially with deadlines approaching, at night is often the only time I can get some peace and quiet.

Even the Quiet Room isn’t quiet with this craziness going on!

My weekend beats yours.

My weekend beats yours.

So I thought I’d treat you novices to my expert tips to surviving an alnighter and hopefully they’ll help you make it to sunrise:

  1. Write a to do list. I enjoy breaking these down into priorities (say, the assignment which is due in the soonest down to that dreaded dissertation which might not be due in for another month).
  2. This carries on from number one, but I also break my time into slots.Typically I’ll dedicate an hour to 90 minutes to an essay before a. moving onto the next one or b. giving myself a break. If anything it helps the time go quicker and I get to make sure I attempt everything.
  3. Give yourself a break and log out of social media until those breaks. I guess these are really two tips but I read somewhere that it takes your mind 15 minutes to get back into academic mode after browsing Facebook (I have no idea if there was factually correct but it stuck with me) and I also find that once I’m on Facebook, two hours will pass and I’ve not even opened the essay!
  4. Bring snacks. This might seem obvious but an alnighter is typically going to last a good six hours or more, you will get hungry and this should not justify going home because if you’re anything like me, going home at 3am means you’ll go to bed.
  5. Keep moving. Like on an airoplane or in a cramped car, staying seated for long periods of time will destroy your spine and legs– I don’t mean literally but I’ve found myself incapable of walking after sitting at a computer for five hours! Take a wander, go and look for that book that you need, go to the vending machine.
  6. Reward yourself. Whether at the end of the night or at intervals, but it’ll help keep you motivated. I generally watch something on BBC Iplayer after I finish an essay because it takes my mind off that essay and gets me ready for the next one.

No, writing a status about being in the library does not count as work.

Of course, there’s plenty more I can say but everyone will have their own preferences. Ideally, you won’t be having to stress about an assignment which is due in at 2pm yet you’ve not started it by 9pm the night before– but it’s most likely that you will at one point.

My biggest problem is prioritising the ‘easy’ essays and finding myself under pressure when I realise that the more difficult ones are due in first.

There’s nothing appealing about being in a building with about four other people in and a security guard, never mind watching the motion-sensor lights switching off in other areas indicating that they’re empty and you’re alone.

But university students have suffered through alnighters for years before us and it’ll be a tradition which will carry on for many years after us.

You can do it!

x

(*in my defense I had a badly sprained ankle and there was no way I was capable of walking home).

So I Crashed and Burned

For anyone who’s read my blog before, you might have guessed that I’m struggling with my postgraduate degree. The workload has meant that I’m resorting to alnighters in the library to write about topics I don’t fully understand and in all honesty, it is stressful.

But I don’t mean to complain, most people going through university will feel like this. The obvious answer is to get organised, to stop procrasinating and to get on with it– that’s what the wonderful British taxpayers are paying for.

Well today I finally crashed.

I don’t mean literally but I took the hardest mental hit I think I’ve had since I came to university. Now, I have anxiety so I’m used to waking up and just feeling lousey. Most of the time there’ll be absolutely no reason for it so I’ll force myself to get out of bed and go for a walk to clear my head, or I go to the library and throw myself into my assignments.

I refuse to let myself mope around.

Except this morning I woke up and just burst into tears.

Crying isn’t part of my normal routine, I do the sulky bitch face brilliantly but I don’t cry unless I’m drunk. The weird thing was that I just couldn’t stop. The best way to describe it is that I actually felt like my world was ending, I guess kind of how I’ve felt with serious break ups, but nothing had happened to cause it.

Well, I had had a pretty bad night out last night and I was hung over but that’s not exactly news.

So I did what any rational twenty-something girl would do, I ran back home.

Now my problem here is that I’m from the Isle of Man and I go to university in England. There’s 100 miles, a train and a sea for me to get home. So it’s not something I would often do; in fact I’ve been home twice in the past two years.

So you can imagine mum’s shock when I text her telling her I was getting the boat that night. Immediately she phoned me up:

What’s happened? What’ve you done?

(Yes, thanks mum!)

But as soon as she heard me crying she quickly accepted I was coming home and put the phone down… And then got my little sister to phone me up to find out what was the problem.

What’s happened, mum said you refused to tell her anything? You can’t be homesick, no-one would be that desperate to come home.

Like I said, it was a big deal for me to randomly go home.

But I did. And I’m slightly annoyed with myself because I’m always the one saying that running away from your problems doesn’t help; and in all honesty even at midnight I still feel horrible.

But I’ve decided that if anything is going to fix this it’s some time with my dog, some island scenery and some home cooked roast dinners.

Though if I do find a magic cure I’ll be sure to pass it along.

x

International Best Friend Day

Whenever I see celebrated holidays like International Best Friend Day, I can’t help but be doubtful. I mean, I join in but I generally don’t see them as little more than a ploy from social networking websites* to boost usage for a day– I mean, how many people really celebrate National Cheese Day on the 4th June?

Anyone brought the wine? source: http://wwwcheesestorecedarhurst.com

Anyone brought the wine? source: http://wwwcheesestorecedarhurst.com

Though admittedly we are a nation which is all up for jumping on the St Patrick’s Day bandwagon as a excuse to stay in the pub all day so I guess it’s not entirely unusual.

Anyway today I clicked onto Instagram and came across an interesting hashtag: #nationalbestfriendsday

I love any excuse to browse through my old Facebook photos and create a picstitch (and also any excuse to procrasinate) so I immediately got to work on looking through the images.

Friendship’s important, I’ve come to realise. I’m not close to much of my family anymore so I enjoy the company of my friends at university, but with everyone graduating and moving I’m starting to appreciate the friendships which last through that. But then I was struck with one problem– who do I consider my best friend?

The answer has always seemed simple to me: my oldest friend who I’ve known since I was three and first moved to the Isle of Man. But I guess that’s not the case anymore, we’re not as close in the typical sense of the word. I mean, you have people who hang around with the same people every single day– you don’t invite one without the other, and if you never see them apart. Well, I guess I’m describing certain girl friendships but still…

I’ve had many of those kinds of friendships in the past, but I’m the kind of person who feels suffocated with that kind of constant attention. So I’ve come to be bit more of a ‘hanger – on’ with a variety of other friendship groups. That way I can mix things up and I have the ability to bond with people without feeling tied down I guess… Yes, I guess the commitment phobe in me is beginning to emerge.

So there was no way that my picstitch would be focused on a single person. Instead, I looked at the people I valued the most for many reasons and eventually came up with this.

(Inter)national Best Friends Day

(Inter)national Best Friends Day

Now, you might notice something in the caption of that picture: International Best Friends Day. Later on I decided to research a little about this holiday– like I said, I generally assumed they were social media antics and not of any significance in the real world.

Well, apparently I was wrong (that’s a rare occasion!).

International Best Friends Day has been recongised by the UN as the 30th July. So no, not today but I realised how significant it was on a personal level and I also noticed something else: coming to university has granted me the opportunity to mix with people I’d probably never meet otherwise.

No, I don’t mean those from rich families who I wouldn’t generally mix with.

The top photo in that picstitch has a variety of cultures in it including Romanian, Lithuainian as well as French. Not only do they all speak far better english than I do, but they have taught me so much about different countries and allowed me to gain an appreciation for travel and people.

Even since coming to university, where England counted as a holiday; I finally got a passport and visiting Ibiza (yes, it counts!) and spent a summer in America. Though it might seem like nothing to many people, in the past two years that’s more than I’ve travelled in my life!

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see some more– and one day I’ll fufill my dream of seeing Rome and Greece.

x

(* except National Hug a Tall Person Day, I know people who take that very seriously!)