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

Cheating on Facebook with Twitter

If any of you read my article on the Kettle Mag website the other week, you’ll understand my addiction to social networking websites- and if you haven’t, you should do here.

It’s a very personal account of the reasons I’m addicted to social networking site, but what it doesn’t cover is the positives of them. I guess that’s probably because I’ve only just started seeing that myself.

Now, currently I actively use Instagram (for pretty pictures), Facebook (for being nosy) and Twitter (for a million 140 character updates). Though I do sometimes overlap them- like posting some Instagram photos on Facebook and Twitter, I am more than aware that every social media website has it’s individual functions.

The main example of this is the whole Twitter vs. Facebook debate for me. People who link their Twitter accounts to their Facebooks, so that whenever they post a Tweet it appears on their Facebook feed. Not so bad I guess since many Facebook-loyal people otherwise wouldn’t see it and it saves you posting it a million times, but what about when you (like me) update your Twitter several times a day?

I used to get nagged about how many times I updated my Facebook status which is why I got Twitter in the first place.

But more recently I’ve seen many more advantages to the two social media websites. This is mainly from a professional and informal point of veiw:

Facebook is a private entity, by which I mean many people are far more likely to use this website to write about everything and anything. Uploading drunk photos from the previous night? You’d put them in a album entitled ‘University antics’ rather than posting them individually on Instagram. Need to write an essay to a friend- it’s more likely to go on their Facebook wall or their chat box because, in all honesty, how can you fit all of that gossip in 140 characters?

Even companies respond on Twitter

Even companies respond on Twitter

Twitter is a public entity. As in you can interact with celebrities, professionals and even Luke Friend’s hair (apologies for the X Factor reference if you’re a bit more cultured than that, but with over 4,000 followers it’s a business!) It can act as an introduction, you can learn more about them simply by ‘following’ them minus the stalking factor. I even know many lecturers at my university who are embracing Twitter to speak to their students and make them aware of upcoming events/valuable infomation.

Me, for example? I recently took my Twitter off it’s private setting since I realised the benefits of using it as a method of interaction rather than simply a tool to rant. This became especially useful when I had an article published in my student newspaper regarding the department of Social Work at the university having a book club. Within an hour the article had been retweeted, favourited and viewed by individuals not only with access to the paper copies available at the university but also by the online version in other universities. I had people ‘tweeting’ me about their thoughts on the article, and even had the author of the next book that the book club is focusing on, Lisa Cherry (@_LisaCherry), following me.

I can praise or critise businesses or individuals for their service on Twitter and have found that I am far more likely to get a response.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’ve finally given into the joys of Twitter. Though I still use Facebook, of course, I feel that I’m far more excited for any Twitter notifications that I recieve now rather than a simple like or event request on Facebook. Next step: getting to grips with Linkedin!

 

That Mood when… Well, you don’t even know!

So it’s been a crazy few days… fortnight since I last posted. Of course, my last post was about my success in my personal exile from Facebook. Looking back, that was a blissful seven days compared to the last fortnight. And the worst thing is, most of my dramas have come down to the hassle of social media as well but let’s not dwell on that.

America

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this already but I’m heading off to America. I’m going through a company called USA Summer Camps, which is part of Camp Leaders. Yes, before you ask, this is similar to Camp America but they are a seperate company.

So the other day I finally got my flight details confirmed: I fly from Manchester on the 30th May to New York! It’s just over seven hours, so not only will it be the furthest I’ve ever travelled, the longest I’ve spent away from home, but also the longest I’ve ever spent on a plane- and most likely the biggest plane too. So plenty of firsts there! Ironically, I’m just under 11 weeks away from leaving which is actually a week and a half less than how long I’ll actually be staying in America for. Not that’s a scary thought.

But back to the present, today I’m going to a “Prep Day” organised by Camp Leaders. It’s in Manchester this morning so I’m about to go for the train… Well, in a couple of hours. According to Google Maps, I’ll only need to walk 10 minutes before I reach it so let’s cross our fingers I don’t get too lost (directionally-challenged doesn’t quite covered my problems with getting lost!) At the minute I have no idea what to expect besides camp songs, and learning about everything you’ll generally need to know about camp. Since it lasts seven hours I imagine there’ll be a lot! That’s a bit scary too… But, of course, it all adds to the excitement in the end!

After this I have my Visa interview next month and then I’ll be in the final countdown. Wow, 11 weeks actually isn’t that long!

University

Apart from America, I also have to organise myself with university. Work, assignments, dissertations and post graduate applications… Everything really does pile up. We’ve just had the final warning for our last drafts to be in in just under a fortnight. I need to pull 4,000 words out of thin air (yes, I am over half way through before you start thinking I’ve yet to start) as well as completing my other essays. Easter’s coming up though so that’ll be two weeks of work and assignments.

Hence why I’m in the library at half 5 on a Saturday morning!

Fingers crossed.