Thursday, 22 February 2018

Having A Mental Illness Doesn’t Mean I’m Unemployable

As I approach my last few weeks at university the job hunt has well and truly begun. Perfecting my CV and head hunting anyone I physically can on LinkedIn, it is all becoming very real! 

One thing that is always playing on my mind, is the fact that the employers may look at my volunteer work with mental health charities and read my blog, and automatically think that I am ‘unfit to work'. Even though, under the Equality Act 2010 it states, that it is against the law for employers to discriminate against you, if you have a disability/mental illness. 

So, to any future employers reading this post, these following statements have either been said to me, or to others. This is why I am NOT unfit to work. If you are currently looking through people's job applications and wondering if they are suitable for the job, due to having a mental illness, please take the following into consideration.

“You won’t get out of bed for work, because you are always depressed and stay in bed”

Just because I have had the odd day off of university due to anxiety and depression taking over, this does not mean I am not able to get out of bed and go to work. You have had a day off for a simple cold or flu, does that mean you are going to have a day off everyday? No! So, why do people think it is so different for people who have a mental illness? Is it because you cannot always see the physical symptoms of our illness, because we usually hide behind a smile? Or, is it because there is still so much stigma? I will let you decide. 

“You won’t be able to handle the work load and stress” 

Anyone, regardless of their mental health being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, is going to get stressed. We are all still human! Believe me, I have been under A LOT of stress and pressure, even when my mental health has been at its worst! But, surely someone who can still overcome all of the stress and pressure whilst having a mental illness, is just as capable, if not more capable of doing a good job than anyone else! We are able to complete the work, whilst having dark thoughts telling us we’re not good enough, or anxiety ridden nights. Give us a chance! 

“You are letting your mental illness hold you back” 

Yes, this may be the truth sometimes, but that does not mean I have chucked my whole life away because of my unwell brain. If anything, sharing my story and speaking so openly about my mental health, has opened doors for me that would usually be closed! I am able to say that I have worked with Samaritans on a direct mail campaign. I have been featured in the Guardian and on BBC Newsbeat. I have filmed a documentary with the BBC, I have set up my own project and been funded by O2, and I have a lot more plans for the future!

By doing all of this, I have built contacts, seen first hand how campaigns are put together and strategically planned, I have shown my abilities to publicly speak, despite having social anxiety. I have also shown my creativity and have created a brand for myself. 

Employers need to stop having this warped view of people’s capabilities when they have a mental illness. If someone applies for a job and they say they have a mental illness, do not dismiss them. By them applying for the job, they have shown that they are capable and want to succeed in life. If someone felt that their mental illness would get in the way of a job, they would not apply for it in the first place. 

I asked on Twitter, how many people felt they were unable to disclose that they had a mental illness when applying for jobs, due to the fear of being rejected. Out of 55 people, 84% said yes! This proves that this stigma is definitely still there to some extent. 

Why should we feel afraid to show who we truly are? Having a mental illness has not held me back at all. I have achieved a lot in just the last year alone. So please, when you’re employing people, do not dismiss them when they disclose an illness. Do not label us as “the one who has... x,y,z” like we are the next episode of Friends. 

Give us a chance to show you what we are capable of, despite our brains telling us that we are not good enough! Having a job or even just being accepted for an interview, can be a big achievement for anyone. It may even be that little glimmer of hope, that someone with a mental illness needs. I am in no way saying that people with illnesses deserve some kind of special treatment, but I am fed up of feeling like I have to be someone else, in order to succeed! 

What are your views on this?
Have you ever felt like you have been looked down on, or rejected due to disclosing a mental illness? 

This is not a collaboration or sponsored post with Time to Change, but I thought it would be fitting to add the 'Employer Pledge' at the end of this post, if you and your company want to get involved!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Sharing The Love

With today being Valentine's day, I thought I'd do a little post about sharing the love around! I've only been in a relationship once on Valentine's day and I can quite honestly say, that I am much happier being single this year for it. To me, it is an over-commercialised (not to mention, made up) day. That might just be because I am a marketing student, so I can see it from a marketers point of view, but I really do not understand why we put so much pressure on ourselves to 'find a valentine'. That being said, I am not trying to s**t on anyone else's day, so if you want to enjoy it with your loved ones, then please do! I'm sure when I'm in my next relationship, I will be doing the same! 

Valentine's day is so heavily focused around relationships, but the day is about love; so why are we limiting it to just relationships. My friends and family have shown me more love and respect than any man has done (so far in my life). So in this post, I am going to share the love to all of the people who have been my absolute rock over the last year and throughout my life so far. 

My family. 

I honestly do not know what I would do without my crazy family. They have stuck by me through everything. From broken hearts, to university breakdowns, they have been there. My mum has always given me all the hugs I have ever needed and more. My dad has supported me with every life decision I make. My sister has been the perfect role model and never fails to make me laugh. Nathan has been the big brother I have always wanted. And lastly, my nan and grandma have kept me company and pushed me to do well in life. Without this love and support, I would not be who I am today. 

'Offline' Friends. 

I don't have many friends 'in real life' (meaning, people who are not part of the blogging world). But the ones I do have, are pretty special. 
My uni friends, Lais and Kerry have been with me from the first day of university. Listening to me nag about men I'm dating or having a go at someone for not participating in the group work. Whenever I feel a bit down, I can always count on them to cheer me up, whenever I step into the university grounds. 
Kate (Katie or whatever else you want to be called), has been there literally from day one (Well, week 2 of my life). We've grown up together as babies, to now fully grown adults (well, attempting to be adults). She has helped me when I've been so paralytically drunk, that I can't even walk to the station, to being a shoulder to cry on when life gets a bit too much. Words cannot describe how much I love this girl and I can't wait to carry on growing up beside her.
Nicole has been my friend for 16 years or so, and it is safe to say that we have made a lot of memories together. From her farting in my (then) boyfriends face, to crying at a sticker for hours on end in Ibiza (you had to be there). We've both had our fair share of s**t in life, but one thing we can always count on, is our friendship and love for each other, even if we do live hundreds of miles away from each other. 

'Online' friends. 

When I started blogging 5 years ago, I did not think that I'd meet some of my best friends because of it; I didn't even know that it was possible. When I joined Twitter, I'd spends hours talking to new people and making new friends. But when you take that friendship 'offline', it becomes one of the best friendships you can ever ask for. 

Macey, my lil American dream. We've been friends for nearly 3 years now (How has it gone that quick?). From sharing our love for Hobbie, to now crying down Snapchat to each other. You have been there for me through thick and thin. You've supported me during my school days and my transition into university. You've listened to me cry for hours about the next guy to break my heart. You've given me some of the best advice I have ever been given. You are so beyond wise for your age and you're adulting better than I am! I've seen you grown up into a beautiful, strong an independent woman. I honestly cannot wait until the day we meet! I will show you all of the best places in London and Kent, and you can show me the beauty of California! Here's to many more years of friendship! I love you Moo Moo! 

Mike, when I first met you in real life, I was a shy and timid girl who was hiding behind others. Oh how that has changed. A lot of people think you're a d**k and rightly so ;) but it's only when I got to know you, that I realised you had the kindest heart. We've grown a lot closer over the last year and I am so thankful for having you by my side through all of the crap that has happened. You're one of those friends who I can just spend hours chilling with, without the pressure of having to make conversation (lol we just sit on our phones). Whether you (and your cats) fall asleep on my bum while we watch Dirty Grandpa, or become my personal photographer in the chaos of London, you will always be 'that' friend who I can just be 'me' around. 
Rebecca Marie, aka my stalker. You came into my life when I felt at my loneliest. You were like my little glimmer of hope in my darkest of times. Little did I know, that glimmer of hope had been stalking/crushing on me for years! It is safe to say that our friendship is unique. From ass grabbing, to ugly selfies. I wouldn't want any other girl groping my ass in the middle of a busy event. You have been my rock and I would not be here today without you pushing me on. I love you! 

Shannon (Nuggs), I am pretty sure we are the same person. You make me feel less alone! You're equally as dramatic, bats**t crazy and an absolute p**shead, but that is why I love you. You're like my little cheerleader. Even though we are yet to meet, I already know that when we do, we are instantly going to become best friends (even more than we already are). Thank you for being the only one to see what I can see, and letting me become 'me' and not just someone else's shadow. I love you, as much as you love chicken nuggets!

Sarah, you have been like a big sister to me over the last few years. We may not talk much, but when we do, it is like nothing has changed. You give me the best advice and you truly are such a great role model for me. Let's make 2018 the year we FINALLY meet each other, please! I have your letter that you sent me, framed on my wall... but I'd happily change that for a picture of us, so GET YO BUTT HERE!

Georgie, I know we don't talk a lot, but you are an inspiration to me. The support you have shown me over the last few months, has made me feel less alone. You helped me pick up my tiara when it fell, you've shown me how to love myself for who I am and not let anyone take that away from me. Thank you for teaching me, how to be 'me'. 

This could honestly go on forever, but I'd spend hours listing everyone! If I haven't mentioned you in the post, that does not mean I don't love you, or that you haven't helped me... but, I'm sure you know who you are when I say 'thank you for being there for me and for loving me regardless'. 

Without all of this support, I would not be able to do the things I have done in my life. So, if you're single this Valentine's day... that does not mean you are alone. I have felt more alone when I have been in a relationship, than when I have been single. Surround yourself with people who care about you and spread the love! 

Happy Valentine's day!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Your Guide to Battling the Twitter Timeline

With Twitter being at the forefront of our daily routines, it's only natural that we all get engulfed in the 'drama' and negativity. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to say that everyone needs to be positive and friendly with everyone, but the negativity can get too much at times.

I have spoken about my views on social media in the past and how much it has affected me in both good and bad ways. Also, considering I want to work in social media, I naturally spend 90% of my time on it. But, I think we've all seen our fair share of negative tweets in the past week, and rightly so. It is not my place to say what has happened, but I know that a lot of people are seeing what I'm seeing; and if you're anything like me, it may have a negative effect on your mental wellbeing. 

So, I thought I'd put together a little 'guide to battling the Twitter timeline'. (This is a lighthearted post, but you never know, it may help).

The mute button is your best friend. 

This is hands down the best feature that Twitter have ever introduced. I use it pretty much everyday. I know for a fact people have muted me and that is fine! The main thing to remember, is that your timeline is YOURS. If you're seeing Tweets that you don't want to see, then mute! It's the perfect way to keep your timeline 'tidy', without having to break up friendships with people. 

Block that b***h!

Again, there is nothing wrong with using the block button. Social media opens you up to the whole world and it can be a very vulnerable place. You are literally laying your cards on the table for the world to see. Regain some of that power over your timeline, by blocking anyone who is either causing you upset, or just simply someone who you do not want following you. Remember, you are not obliged to let everyone know every detail about your life. You still have the power to 'hide' from certain people. I have blocked people in the past and still do now, purely because I do not want them to see my content, or they have a negative effect on my mental health.

Try to ignore. 

I know how easy it is to become engulfed in the 'drama'. It's normal, we all do it. But, obsessing over it and making it your life is not healthy. I know people who will try to create 'drama' for amusement. Some people do like to create something out of nothing. But, if it is beginning to take over your life, or just simply your timeline, IGNORE! By getting involved, it can escalate and get turned on you. It's nice that you either want to stick up for someone or support someone, but sometimes getting involved publicly, can cause more harm than good.

Think before you Tweet. 

I have been guilty of not thinking before I Tweet and it usually gets turned back on me. Once again, this is something that we all do, so it's ok! But, sometimes taking a step back and asking yourself "Would I be offended by this if someone else Tweeted this?" is the best thing to do.

Take time out!

It is perfectly ok to sign out. Take time away from Twitter and focus on you. Live in the moment and don't feel pressured to share it with the world.

So, that's your guide to battling the Twitter timeline!
Again, this is a lighthearted post and not directed to anyone. I think we all need reminding that, it is ok to take control of our social media. 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

5 Reasons Why I Am Basically Bridget Jones

As I neck my glass of red wine, I sit here thinking 'this is it, I am literally Bridget Jones'. And, do you know what? I am perfectly ok with that! Most people see Bridget Jones as the definition of a human car crash. Me? I see her as a strong, independent woman, who messes up sometimes but always picks herself back up (with help from a bottle of wine of course).

So, I thought it would be fun to list the reasons why I am basically Bridget Jones. Maybe you can relate?

1. I get carried away way too much. 

This one is definitely a big problem for me at the moment. After dating someone new for the past month, it is safe to say my mind gets the better of me and I start worrying. Don't get me wrong, I can have fun but I'm a girl... it is what we do. Right? RiGHt? 

2. I often turn to vodka (or any other alcohol on offer). 

If the tiniest thing goes wrong, vodka is always the answer. It not only numbs the pain, but it makes me proper flirty. What could go wrong? *Spoiler: A lot. 

3. I don't know when to hold back my emotions. 

I mean, I did have therapy for a few months! 

4. I am a socially awkward mess. Even in bed. 

I do have social anxiety so I guess I'm 'allowed' to be a bit of a mess, but I genuinely do wonder why/how people find me sexually attractive.

5. I am always going to be a bit podgy. 

I don't think I'm ever going to be the next Victoria Secret model, and that is ok! I love my body. I love me...

Can you relate to any of these?
Please reassure me that I'm not the only adult who is a total shambles?
Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

'Why can't I rewind to when my life was ok?'

Do you ever sit there and think 'yep, this is it. My life is finally ok'. No? Well, me either!

A year ago, my life seemed pretty perfect. I thought I was happy, stable and planning my future. Turns out I was miserable, isolated, unstable and the future I had planned, was not going to exist. Fast forward a year on, I can now only see how unhappy I was because I am now out of that situation. This all proves that we are maybe never actually *that* settled. 

That however, does not stop me thinking, 'Why can't I rewind to when my life was ok?'. 2018 is the year of big changes for me. In 8 weeks time, I officially finish my formal lectures at university, with only months until my graduation day (where have those 3 years gone?). I am already applying for jobs. I am back in the dating game and just generally having fun. But there's still that uncertainty of life and what it has planned for me. 

I wake up everyday with a pit of anxiety in my stomach, which is something I had not had for a while. I am constantly worrying about what is coming next, like waiting for a jump scare in a horror film. 'Am I saying the right thing?', 'Should I have sent that message?', 'Will I get a job when I graduate?'. EVERYDAY. It is tiring and I know it is never going to end. Life is full of uncertainty. 

Basically, what I am trying to say is that, life is never going to be stable. Even the times when I thought my life was stable, it turns out it was far from it. Life will never be plain sailing. There is always a wave to ride over or storm that will drown you. BUT, if you take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, or even second by second; life will work out. 

Hang in there. In the words of Ronan Keating, 'Life is a rollercoaster just gotta ride it!'