A Controversial View on a Controversial Subject

I can’t imagine a day when talking about suicide won’t be a controversial topic but once again it’s been thrown into the air as something people are openly discussing on the back of the recent passing of Peaches Geldof. There’s no current evidence that her death was a result of suicide but due to the Tweet she posted the night before, speculation seems to be rife. I’m not especially interested in discussing what happened to Peaches as I think rumours are rather disrespectful when somebody’s family are grieving. However, the wider topic of discussion that this throws up is something that is always going to be interesting to me.

Today in the office, a couple of the team started talking about this and then discussing how selfish it is for a mother of young children to commit suicide. While I can see their point, I popped my opinion out there and I’m popping it out here again to see if I receive anything other than shocked responses. My opinion, and I promise this is the honest truth, is that it is more selfish for someone who is that seriously depressed to carry on than it is for them to move on to whatever comes after the life we know.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting this is a decision that should be taken lightly and that human life should be wasted but I do believe that people who have spent long enough wishing they weren’t alive will never truly come back. I’m talking about those who can’t get through daily life without throwing the lives of all others around them into disarray. Essentially, I’m talking about people who are like my own mother was. For a good 10 years, (the entirety of the time I remember when she was alive) she wasn’t right. The tiniest things would cause her world to collapse; the sausages not being defrosted leading to hours of tears and anger is one of my earliest memories of such behaviour.

As a child, this is distressing. You’ve no idea what to expect from your parent, no understanding of why they’re so different to everyone else’s parents and no idea what it is you’ve done to deserve having it all taken out on you. Now multiply those confusing feelings by 10 years and factor in physical violence but also mixed with a huge amount of love and I hope you can start to understand why my opinion on this is the way it is.

How can one person love you so much and be the absolute centre of your world, pushing you to be the best version of yourself you can be yet also be the person that screams at you when the car won’t start? Or the person who cries and then screams and then slams doors, punches worktops and shouts at you because they spilled their dinner. It’s a very strange world to live in, is that and to be perfectly honest, life is a lot easier without it.

So, for those on the outside looking in at a world they have no experience of, I challenge you to say that it’s always better for a suicidal person to keep pressing on now that you’ve had a glimpse of the reality. Yes, when a mother leaves her young children, they’ll probably never get over it but they’ll probably also never recover from the damage she could inflict by sticking around for an eternity. So what’s best? My opinion is that every situation is different and requires a resolution unique to itself but sometimes, the controversial answer is the right one.

I’ll never change what the masses think but I’d like to at least challenge it so here’s hoping I’ve achieved that today! X


P.S. – All of the above is an extremely moderate version of real events, so if my viewpoint seems extreme, consider the words I haven’t written as well as the ones I have.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Can you believe it…it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK again. I mean how is it possible that a whole year has flown by since the last one, so much has happened!?!

This year’s theme for MHAW is physical activity and exercise and the effect that can have on mental health. For me in particular, I find this a challenging theme because whilst I understand the concept and the science behind it, I just don’t understand how you get started with the whole exercise thing. Some of us aren’t good at any sports and we hate running and gyms, so what do we do to start ourselves off from a point of sub zero motivation?

Well, I’ve spoken to many people about this now and they’ve all said it’s just about getting into it and once you are into it, it becomes like an addiction and you do notice that your mood drops when you stop. So it really is about getting over the first hurdle and making it part of your life. Here are some things you could do and then I’ll let you in on what I am going to do:

  • Walk to work / the supermarket / town – anywhere you would normally go in the car that it’s feasible to walk to. This way you are just building the exercise into your life and it has a point
  • Start on holiday; who doesn’t love a swim on holiday? Or what about a beach walk every day?
  • Make the dog walk a bit longer or up the pace
  • Get the kids involved so that when they play, you play – you’ll be surprised at how much exercise is involved
  • Start small and commit yourself to just a few star jumps or squats everyday and build them up over time
  • Join a class for an active skill you want to learn, e.g. tap dancing or yoga

Obviously those are just a few of many suggestions but I think they are all do-able and you should start to feel some benefit after a couple of weeks.

I have been feeling super poorly the last couple of months and have mainly felt like a zombie. A change in diet seems to have shifted the zombie feeling at least temporarily but I still have the full body of aching joints and muscles. This is not fun but I suspect that exercise might be the thing to help me out of it and help my body fight whatever this evil inhabitant is! So, my choice is the “start on holiday” option. I wouldn’t normally delay starting something for 3 weeks but I have a combination of late work nights and a theatre production to perform in which means the next couple of weeks are rammed. I’ll provide a full update post holiday, along with a plan to maintain the increased activity levels moving forward.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has used exercise to improve their mood or anyone who has a plan to do so – show us how it’s done!!! x

Jumping on the Bandwagon of Depression

Before I say my piece, I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that I do believe depression is a real illness and I do believe many people are afflicted by some form of mental illness at one point or another in their lives. I have no wish to detract from the severity with which people feel mental illness, nor the effect it has on their lives and the lives of the others around them. However, I do think we have a problem with mental illness and it’s not just our inability to talk about it.

A few years ago, mental illness really was a huge taboo and something that was very much swept under the carpet and kept off the radar. Then, as with most things, it became more commonly heard of and charities and support groups received the publicity they had so been longing for so they could really reach out to those who need their help. In my opinion, the trouble is we’ve veered off track and made mental illness fashionable. I’m not talking about the full spectrum of mental illnesses that stop people from engaging in meaningful relationships or that make it challenging for kids to do well in school, I’m talking about the “depression” which leads to people taking a few days off work here and there or blaming their social inadequacies on this so-called illness.

People are everywhere these days talking about depression and if that many people really are depressed all at once, we must have some sort of epidemic on our hands. But then I’ve met, known, lived with people with real depression and they didn’t talk about it every day and they didn’t behave like depressed people to the outside world; it was all hidden so only those closest to them could see it. Their behaviour also didn’t change rapidly from one day to the next as suddenly that new pair of shoes or that promotion boosted their mood, because these trivial happenings didn’t get through the depression to really impact the person underneath.

Now I appreciate that as with most things, there is a scale that runs from mildly depressed to suicidal but my question is whether the people at the very mild end are actually depressed. Are they really depressed or just a bit down? Did the doctor do the usual thing of handing them a leaflet about depression because they said they were struggling with their mood, so therefore they must have it? What about changes in lifestyle; diet, exercise, etc.? Did anyone consider what impact those have on a person’s mood? I’m guessing that no, these things were not considered because it’s fashionable to have some sort of affliction which means that if you get out of bed in the morning people should praise you. But in my experience, really depressed people usually don’t notice the praise and they don’t want the world knowing their weakness.

So who are these hangers on and what are they doing there? My worry is that people will get fed up. They’ll get fed up of feeling like they should support people who are just a bit down in the dumps and wonder why they ever cared about this mental illness stuff in the first place. There are genuine people out there with real mental health issues which severely impact their day-to-day life and they do need our help. So my plea is this; if you are a person who claims to be depressed and acts like a moody teenager when really you are just a bit down, please admit it rather than calling it depression. Other people really do struggle to get through life without support and it would be great if the kind-hearted, charitable people out there could focus on them, knowing that you will get over it in a day or two. x

Experiment: Acupuncture for a Needle-Phobe

It’s a well known fact and something I happily share with the world that I am scared of all things blood-related. This actually doesn’t stem from a phobia of needles but from a phobia of things making holes in my skin… this usually leads to bleeding! I don’t know why I am like this and logically I know it’s crazy but it’s there and it gets worse and worse the older I get.

On this basis, I’d never really considered acupuncture as an alternative therapy that would be right for me. However, I’ve been really struggling with my bloated tummy and stress recently and lots of people have said how amazing acupuncture is. Admittedly, most of the people I actually know who have had it, have had it for muscular-skeletal problems but I figured it was still worth a bash. This is not to mention that ALL of them said you barely feel the needles and they are far less painful than a vaccination. I figured it couldn’t be that bad so I booked myself an appointment; this is what happened.

My therapist conducted a full consultation of why I was there and what issues I was having, etc. and then proceeded to check my pulses, etc. Yes, in Chinese medicine you have multiple pulses, not just the standard heart beating one. I found out some interesting things:

  1. My broad tongue means I have lots of “chi” (energy)
  2. This chi must be the bad kind because my pulses show I am lacking in most of the good energies
  3. My heart has negative energy (apparently this is not a physical heart issue, more an emotional thing)
  4. My gut contains damp heat…still not sure what that is!
  5. My energy type is fire – apparently this means I want to be liked and loved by everyone – I disagree with this one

I did learn loads of other things but the trouble was she was telling me during the needle process or afterwards when my mind was otherwise occupied.

So, on to the needles. Having seen the episode of SATC where Charlotte goes for acupuncture, I expected the needles to be really long and kind of sway in the breeze whilst they were in me. I was wrong. The first needle she got out, I didn’t see until it had been removed from me. She stuck it in my torso, just under the middle of my rib cage (I think this is where you compress for CPR). Bloody nora! Everyone lied! The blasted thing stung like hell and I could most definitely feel it there. After 10 seconds of stinging I was too scared and made her take it out… it continued to sting! OUCH! Do not do this!

After that petrifying experience, I was loathe to allow any more needles in the torso region so she stuck one in my thigh. This needle was thinner and I did honestly barely feel it, much more what I’d expected. Unfortunately though, I was too het up to allow any more so this was the only needle I braved. Instead, my session became an acupressure session; someone just pressing on me here and there is much more my thing.

Post acupressure (+ 1 needle), she re-took my pulses and apparently the energy change was for the better. Did I feel better? I’m not sure. At first I felt good but I think that was just elation that I had survived having a needle stuck in me. When I got home to an empty house I felt lonely, something that I honestly almost never feel. Then I felt depressed and bombarded the bf with tears when he came home. The following 2 days, however my gut was better than it had been for ages so who knows what happened!?! Maybe the tears were some of the negative energy escaping or maybe my gut was better because I was no longer worried about needles being stuck into me.

Either way, I now have to decide whether to go back this Wednesday. Has anybody else been through this? Can anyone vouch for it’s effectiveness? Your views are more than gratefully welcomed! Until next time… x

Are you getting enough sleep?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably have been through a least a short period of time when it seems almost impossible to fit sleep into your schedule; this may even be the norm for you. You have to work all day but you don’t want to miss out on the fun parts of life, yet you also need to fit in some exercise to compensate for sitting at your desk all day and suddenly, 24 hours in a day just isn’t enough!

I’ll give you an idea of the sort of thing I’m talking about… a few months ago I decided I wasn’t doing enough with my life, that I could work more to earn more, socialise more and get more involved with my hobbies, especially am dram. Suddenly I found myself with weekdays looking like this:

6.45am Wake up

7.30am Work

9.00am Finish that job and travel to the next

9.45am Start second job

6.15pm Finish work, travel into town for…

7.00pm Business meeting (3rd job – also had to grab some food here instead of dinner)

9.00pm Leave business meeting and head to audition

9.15pm Amdram audition

10.30pm Head home

11.00pm Go to bed – cannot sleep as mind is buzzing, end up with about 5 hours’ sleep

Since when is that a great way to live!?! Not only that but I also started packing out my weekends too and now often find that I can’t sleep at night because I’ve been so busy right up until bed time that I simply can’t switch off which reduces the sleep time even further.

What I should have been doing!

So what did I do? I ate more, mainly sugary, wheaty, naughty foods which made me more tired. I stressed more which made me more tired and I ignored it all, pretending I could do everything I wanted. What did that do? I’ve gained weight, gained wrinkles and frequently have a mouth full of painful ulcers. Hmm…not quite what I was hoping for! Don’t get me wrong, I have achieved a lot too and I’m happy that I have done so but it’s really time to re-evaluate. How can I manage my time better?

Now, I am in the process of making small changes: budgeting better so I can drop the additional job; blogging in a lunch break so I don’t need to do that in the evening; picking up my reading hobby so that I can relax with a book before bed instead of Tweeting whilst watching TV and online shopping all at once. You see, there is a fine balance between doing enough and doing too much, you need to work out what is right for you and what gives you that sense of accomplishment whilst also making sure you don’t age prematurely and stick with it! For extra motivation, remember that people with crazy sleep schedules are meant to be 3 times more likely to be overweight…

I’ll let you know how I’m feeling in a month, see if I’ve shifted my social jet-lag and I’d love to hear how the rest of you juggle these crazy lives we lead! x

The Empty Space You Never Knew Was There

This gloriously long bank holiday weekend just gone, the bf and I were once again dog sitting, however this time it was not my parents’ delectable Miniature Schnauzer, it was a friend’s Beagle. Meet Harry:

Harry - Such a Handsome Boy!

Now I have to admit that compared to the Schnauzer, Harry was a handful. He jumped all over my furniture, left muddy paw prints on my leather sofa and left fur EVERYWHERE! (The Schnauzer doesn’t malt at all!) That’s not even mentioning the walk we went on with said Schnauzer when Harry disappeared into the woods for a good 10 minutes – just long enough to make my dad and I panic that we had really lost him. I could also mention his vile bottom activity, vomiting, stealing other dogs’ toys, keeping us awake at night…but you get the picture!

However, he was so happy to see us every time we entered a room; he snuggled into me on the sofa and generally looked so adorably cute at all times that he had a really calming effect on me. The Schnauzer also has the same effect – and he’s a puppy so has that cute puppy innocence going for him as well.

Both dogs get away with murder and thoroughly mess up my life whilst they’re here but they’re so worth it. As soon as they go I feel sad enough to cry, like someone has stolen part of my core being. It really makes me wonder how I get by day to day without a dog to lavish my affection on and how people live without animals in their lives.

So there it is; the empty space I never notice until its filled. Until I have a lifestyle that lets me fill it, I’ll just keep on dog-sitting as and when people are happy to let me. If you’ve never had a dog, I seriously suggest you go out there and spend some time with one, they are just awesome! x

Good Old Fashioned Fun (With the Girls)

Somehow, despite pay day having only just been and gone, pretty much everyone I know seems to be totally broke and I am definitely at the helm of this pauper-style living! With that it mind, it was time to get creative on the weekend just gone as there’s nothing worse than spending a whole month of weekends doing nothing because of a lack of funds. So, the girls and I decided to spend Saturday baking and watching movies; proper girly fun, the good old fashioned way.

Since gluten and I don’t seem to get on very well at the moment, I found a recipe for gluten-free cupcakes (and then amended it slightly) and off we went.  The recipe I stumbled upon can be found here; we doubled up for the first batch of 12 so they came out huge and then made another batch of 12 on the recipe sizes. We also added some xanthan gum and baking powder to the mix to make sure the cakes weren’t crumbly and that they rose enough.

Well, the first batch were pretty huge and consequently quite hard to ice so we were glad we made the second batch smaller! With the actual icing mix, we ended up adding a fair bit of icing sugar as well as we couldn’t get the mixture firm enough to be able to sit on top of the cakes. We then piped the icing on amateur style, (no nozzle, just a bag) and got round to the fun part of decorating those bad boys! Check out my amazingly edited video of us in full on piping action!

Bare naked cakes

Piped and ready to go

Some of our best work

All of our beautiful babies!

As you can see, we got a bit carried away with the decorating. We started off quite refined, creating sophisticated little numbers and then we went wild sticking on a whole array of sweets and decorative bits! It was brilliant fun!

The cakes themselves are not as moist as my friend over at Cuppies and Cream makes but they weren’t dry which is great considering they are GF. We also made one batch with lemon icing which I really love, a pretty good effort considering we were first-timers. Now however, my thighs are approx. 6 times the size they were last week because I’ve eaten so much cake!

I thought I’d share because it was such great fun and I’d really recommend getting back to basics with your friends when the pennies are tight. Do as they did in the old days and fill your time without using computer games, Facebook or the TV and you might just surprise yourself in just how much fun you can have! x

Sweatworking: Coming to a Gym Near You

I have just read this post about business networking now taking place at the gym and had to share – how many people can you really see getting into this? Have these guys seen the state of most office workers – chain smoking, biscuit eating, boozy fatties most of them!

Sweatworking: Coming to a Gym Near You.

What do you all think??? x

1 Month Down, is it Really Going to Happen?

Wowser, how quickly has January disappeared!?! It feels like I blinked and missed it even though there has been quite a lot going on in my life this last month. As I am so determined to achieve the goals I set myself this year, I thought I’d best undergo a little tracking session and see if I have managed to make any progress. If I don’t check now, soon I’ll be sitting here in June wondering how I’m going to fit it all in to 6 months. Here’s my progress:

  • Weight 9st7 (or less) by March – somehow have managed to reach 10st…oops!
    • Umm, still at 10st despite quite a few changes to the diet. I have a very poorly gut at the moment so I can only hope this will settle soon and help my weight loss
  • Weigh no more than 9st at the end of the year
    • As above
  • End the year with £3,500 credit card debt or less (fair chunk to pay off to reach that!)
    • Epic fail! My car added £650 to this for it’s MOT. Instead, I will be saving to pay off a chunky old loan this time next year
  • Read 10 new books
    • Not yet started but did finish a book today which was started in 2011. I have book no. 1 lined up and ready to go so hopefully this time next month I’ll be back on track
  • Star in at least 1 theatre show
    • Auditions in a couple of weeks :-)
  • See 12 theatre shows
    • This one is super fun. Have so far seen an amateur show at my local theatre (Neverwhere, was awesome) and went to see Cirque Du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday which was spectacular!
  • Spend 3 weekends away with the bf
    • I blame him for the lack of progress
  • Eat in 6 new restaurants
    • January = poor month = not much eating out = fail
  • Leave the country 3 times
    • Trip to Budapest booked for July, super luxury as well :-)
  • Exercise for at least 1.5 hours per week (up from 0 hours)
    • Simply put…not done this! I have however started Aqua Fit once a week but made one class then was too late for the next. Back on it this week but it’s only 45 mins per class :-s
  • Make my eBay store self sufficient by June (i.e. have enough profit to buy next lot of stock)
    • Sales have started picking up this week with the arrival of pay day…phew!
  • Have a trip to NY booked in (actually have at least deposit paid)
    • This one’s for later in the year
  • Make and try 3 home made beauty products
    • Nada! Have however inherited a heap of non home made products from a friend who is emigrating. The pile of products I have in reserve is MASSIVE. I will use them all though…eventually!

So as you can see, I have made fair progress in some areas whilst failing in others but nothing is a lost cause yet and I’m hoping I’ll have a bit more time in Feb. to dedicate to my goals. I still feel like these are achievable and that’s the most important thing. How are you all doing with your goals? x

Low Calorie Cakes

At the moment I am on a bit of a health kick, partly to lose some weight but mainly to feel a bit better. I’ve been really suffering with a bad gut, bad skin and feeling exhausted for a good 4-6 months now so I’m trying to do something about it. What I’ve found is that I am absolutely fine with eating loads more fresh fruit and veg. but I still crave naughty foods and need to snack several times a day (I eat loads!). So far, I’ve been struggling with this and have resorted to crisps and chocolate on quite a few occasions which obviously is not really helping any of the causes.

As diet success seems to be mainly about being organised, I got myself organised this weekend and made some more of my delicious lemon and poppyseed muffins. They’re gluten free, sugar free and dairy free as well as being low GI and tasting nice…amazing! The recipe is sat over on my other, somewhat neglected blog so here it is: http://candidafree.wordpress.com/muffins/ . Just thought I’d share in case anyone else is also having trouble sticking to their diets :-) x