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.



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!


Social Media: Keeping work and play seperate

Considering social networking began in 1995, it’s only recently that it’s boomed into life. And it has quite literally boomed. In 2008, Facebook had 34 million users and now they’re boasting over one billion users, 618 million of which are active daily. Digital Marketing Ramblings also points out that other social networking websites also boast huge numbers such as the professional site LinkedIn having 200 million, the photo sharing site Instagram claims 100 million users and Tumblr with 170 million.

Considering I come from an island which has the population of 80,000 those numbers are pretty unbelievable.

But something else is coming into play now. That’s the use of social networking websites and your employment. Earlier this year it was reported that 56% of employers check social networking sites when considering an applicant.

Of course, I have touched on this before in Social Networking Sites: the bain of my life but it wasn’t until recently that it really hit me. I got my contract for my job in America through my email and one of the conditions was regarding social networking websites: 1. All pages had to be switched to private and 2. nothing regarding the employer or place of employment could be posted online.

Now I’m not going to claim this is completely outragous, by now I’ve began to come to terms with the matter of privacy. Since I’ll be working with children, there is the potential of parents Googling who they’ve left their children with- admittedly, I think I would do the same thing. And ok, I don’t really consider this when I’m posting my tweets and statuses.

But when you start reading stories like how one professor chose to argue the possibility that the Sandy Hook tragedy wasn’t as bad as it was protrayed on a public blog you start to realise the potential damage there is in posting your opinion.

Another Achievement Unlocked: Facebook-free Week



After my complaint about social networking websites a few posts ago, an aim for 2013 was to go without Facebook for a week (as well as Twitter but that’s a whole other matter). So, I’ve just achieved it. I deactivated my account on Monday night, and reactived it this morning. Though I deleted it for personal reasons as opposed to simply staying off it for a week, it worked out quite well.

Firstly, I think the fact that I didn’t deactivate it with the target of a week without it actually helped with the “withdrawal”. Now, of course, Facebook isn’t an drug as such but you quickly realise how much you use it without realising it when you have no access to it. For myself, as soon as I wake up in the morning I’ll check my phone. This will be for notifications I would have gotten during the night, emails, new texts or any missed calls. After this I’ll click on Facebook and scroll through the posts I missed, then similarly with Twitter and then I’ll get up. Some people do yoga, some read the morning paper… It’s a ritual. But then you wake up and you only have Twitter to browse, and Instagram which became very useful! Procrasination becomes a lot more difficult. It was the same in the library, or those awkward moments when you’re sat on your own in the pub and pretending to browse your phone.

Though, I guess I can’t really claim to know if I got anymore work done during this time either!

Apart from that though, the biggest thing I missed was not having instant access to my friends. On chat you know when a friend is online, and you know when they’ve read your message, so I’ve become accustomed to that instant gratification. Unless you use WhatsApp, you don’t get that on your phone. Texts can go for hours without a reply. And I’m not a massive fan of phonecalls unless it’s a conversation as opposed to a quick question. There were also small minority of friends who I could only speak to through Facebook for various reasons and this was something I hadn’t quite considered when I deleted it.

On the otherhand, it was quite a nice experience. I never once asked another friend to browse Facebook for me, it wasn’t an urge I had throughout the week despite the fact they would constantly be on it around me. I “fraped” a friend which was amusing though I couldn’t keep track of the feedback! The friends who use other websites such as Twitter would generally update this more regularly and similarly with Instagram if they had any photographs so I still had access to their “online lives” as such.

And anyway, when I reactived it I was instantly in a bad mood after seeing somethings which I had been blissfully unaware of beforehand. Though I can’t blame Facebook for that, it’s my own nosiness…

Social Networking Sites: the bain of my life

Hi, my name is Jade and I am a social networking addict.

I guess the majority of people reading this can admit to that as well. Whether it’s the joy of “checking-in” on Facebook, stalking on Twitter or endless browsing on Instagram there’s countless websites now which can offer us the joys of “social networking”. Personally, I’m a compulsive checking-in person, as are the majority of my friends so it’s easy for anyone to know where I am at any point of the day.

If I had any stalkers I’d be making life extremely easy for them.

I have a friend, however, who’s one of those construstive social networkers. He’s got a Twitter and a Facebook account, both of which essentially revolve around his love for interior design. Similarly with a friend on a phsychology course. Both of these have their own websites, blogs, and all of it is full of these topics. Both of these friends now have solid foundations for that dream career and wow, has it helped them out a lot. Both have had new job offers based solely on these sites, and one has even been offered several tv appearences.

You’d think that would encourage me to think a bit differently about my own profiles.

It did, I privatised everything. And now I’ve deleted my Facebook. I’ve set up a new Twitter account which will revolve around current education issues, (@jade_kneen) though I’ve yet to get to grasps with the concept. I’m picking back up on this blog which, though not entirely education focused, will enable to continue writing which I love doing- hence my dream of going into research. But ultimately, I am a nosy person, again a great reason for going into research. I use social networking sites to find out the latest gossip, to talk to my friends, to make plans. I don’t see this as a crime. This makes it all the more scary though when you hear more and more about these things endangering your career prospects, when potential places of employment are requiring to log onto your private accounts during the interview.

It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had my job threatened by my Facebook. I was 17 at the time and I’d lost my phone for the day, to find it on my bed and with five missed calls from work. By this time work was closed, and since I had a few collegues as “friends” on Facebook I’d decide to write a jokey status about getting fired. I got the response I’d expected, and one explained that they’d wanted cover so I knew it was nothing serious- and like I’d said, I’d lost my phone so I wasn’t avoiding work. Then I went in for my next shift and the assistant manager confronted me about the status. I didn’t have her on Facebook, apparently someone had passed on what I’d said. Though it was a joke, it wasn’t until something happened a few weeks later that I realised why she’d been so annoyed with me posting on Facebook though it was nothing to do with me personally. More recently I found out that a collegue, in a different work place, had pre warned my manager that I would be taking an opportunity to work in America which would mean I would be off for several months. Again, I had posted it on Facebook out of excitement but since I didn’t know any set dates I’d chosen to not tell my boss until I could be specific- now when I do explain I know I’ll be questioned why I didn’t let him know sooner. Admittedly these two scenerios have made me a lot more weary of what I post on Facebook, and I make a point now of using it more to make sure only to put on what I want specific people to read.