health, Personal

Time To Talk – Mental Health Day

February 1st. It’s time to talk.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll probably have seen a few of my posts where I’ve talked about my depression and anxiety, or maybe you’ve seen my Instagram posts.

I no longer feel the need to hide or shy away from my struggles and I no longer feel embarrassed talking about the things I’ve experienced.

NEITHER SHOULD YOU!

I believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and cared for, to feel hope and happiness, love and laughter – especially on their darker days.

I don’t wait until February 1st to talk about this, I try and talk about it at least once a month because although each of us experience things differently, just one shared experience may help one other person in some way. However, February 1st is the big day to talk and it would be ridiculous for me not to be a part of that.


What led to my depression, anxiety and PTSD is nothing out of the ordinary, and in many ways I feel ashamed that it affected me so badly when other women have suffered far worse events that I ever did. Over time I have learned to accept that I was entitled to my suffering, because what I experienced was the worst thing I had, in my life, been faced with. You cannot measure how much suffering someone should endure based on what they are faced with. Some people are able to handle so much worse than others, some people crumble at the slightest thing. THAT IS OKAY. 

One thing you have to learn to do is do not compare your struggle to others’.

Your struggle is yours.

Your pain, your darkest days are not for others to judge or to comment on.

This is one of the toughest parts of dealing with my depression. Was accepting what had happened, accepting that yes, many people have dealt with far worse than I have, but that will not change the pain I felt or take away the experiences I had.


The most important thing about your mental health is not to suffer in silence.

I know what it’s like to pretend it doesn’t exist. Fake a smile. Push yourself into those social situations you’re completely dreading. Get dressed every day and pretend your life is absolutely fine, when all you really want to do is hide under the bed covers and cry for hours and hours.

You do what you need to do. If you need to stay in bed all day, eat pizza and doughnuts and cry, do it. BUT you need to be talking to someone. Whether it’s an online friend, someone on instagram, your mum, your best friend, a partner, a therapist, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse. SOMEONE will listen. Someone will want to support you and help you through this.

The harsh part about mental health is not everyone is equipped to deal with it. Not everyone wants to be around the ‘sad person’ or the ‘party pooper’. But dyou know what we say to them? Fuck it. Fuck it. and Fuck you. If people don’t even try and understand or support you, stay away from them. You do not need that negativity in your life. Believe me.

Anyone who truly cares about you will support you, be there for you, try and get you through your darker moments. Don’t get me wrong, no one can be there for you 24/7, and they won’t be, because everyone has their own life to get on with, but that does not mean that they don’t care. 

I was extremely lucky, after 2 years of battling it out on my own, I admitted defeat and went home to live with my mum again. I stopped working. I saw a counselor. I took time for me. My mum went to work every day, and on her days off she cooked for me, we went shopping, we watched movies. We cried, we cried a lot. I was awful. Miserable. I felt like I was living in hell and all I wanted to do was end it all. Without my mum, I would have done. I would not be alive right now if it wasn’t for my mum’s never ending support.

And I understand that not everyone will have that, and that makes it worse. But, whether you have one person, or 10 people, you will have someone who will help you.

Please, please, please do not go through your dark days alone. Okay?

Promise me. 


I don’t like to say I’ve been ‘cured’ of depression and anxiety, because some days it hits me like a tonne of bricks. However, in the past year I fought with my own self to become a better, stronger and more capable person. I faced my fears of going back to work. I faced my fears of starting something new (a teaching career) and I faced my fears by openly admitting to my depression and anxiety on the days when I needed to care for myself. I learned to put myself first. Before my shame, before my fears.

The results were amazing.

I lost weight for the first time in 3 years (a lot of it).

I made friends.

I started reading again.

(P.S. Reading Bryony Gordon’s ‘Mad Girl’ made me realise I could have a life AND deal with a mental illness at the same time. This woman changed the way I faced my depression. I owe her big time!)

I started working. And I absolutely love my job.

(Although mental health in the work place, in general, is a huge issue. I may blog about this separately because it’s so important.) But I still get the ‘tuts’ and ‘eye rolls’ if I say I need a day off / at home / self-care day. It’s infuriating. 

I found a new enthusiasm for life.

I went on holiday alone.

I found a reason to feel alive again.


It isn’t easy. None of it is. Even without a mental health issue to deal with, everyone has bad days and none of them are pleasant. You’re not alone.

My message from this post is to please, please reach out to someone. Find the people you can trust, find a kind person on instgram (believe me, there are plenty!) and just talk.

If all else fails, I’m also here for anyone that feels like they want to rant, vent, talk to or share their worries – or even their positive vibes!

You are never alone.


#TimeToTalk


NHS advice for if you’re feeling suicidal here

Mind – A fantastic mental health charity that works nation wide to support people with mental health issues.

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health, Personal

Stressed not depressed

Firstly let me apologize for the slightly ‘down in the dumps’ topic, but then I’m being hypocritical really, as I like to remind people as often as I can that it is okay to talk about how you feel. Never apologize for sharing your thoughts. 

I’m stressing.

I’m stressing badly.

I feel absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of things that are racing through my mind every minute of the day. I don’t think I’ve had a decent night’s sleep in nearly 3 weeks and it’s drastically taking it’s toll.

I’m tired, grumpy, snappy and beyond emotional.
I keep welling up over the most stupid things.

This is what lack of sleep does to you.

But, what I have learned in the last year or two is that “one bad day, is not a bad life”. One day of hysterical crying, feeling like it’s the end of the world, doesn’t make it so.

It makes you human.

My depression has not come back. I am not depressed. I will not be depressed.

I am stressed.

And there’s a difference.


If there’s one thing I wish for myself, it’s to never have to experience the pain of depression ever again in my life. That feeling where you’re so low you’re breaking your own heart. I couldn’t experience that again and I truly hope that none of you do either.

However, if you are… REACH OUT AND TALK ABOUT IT. Promise me? Don’t do it alone.


Just lately I’ve been absolutely fine throughout the day, but the minute I get home I turn into an emotional wreck. I don’t want to hear any sounds, talk to anyone, do anything but lie in bed and cry. Or read, then cry.

Is anyone else feeling that way lately? Is it the weather? Am I not managing my time properly? I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong… Maybe it’s my diet? Whatever it is, I need to up my self-care game.



Things that have made me cry this week:

  • People thanking me for my work / help
  • Seeing all 12 of my students read silently for 20 minutes, with no phones or talking at all – their choice! and then ask to keep on reading
  • Finding out one of my students got a 5.5 on his IELTS and accepted into Cardiff (starting to well up now just thinking about it)
  • My students writing an entire page of homework, when 10 weeks ago they could barely write three sentences
  • Books. Always books.

I hope I’m not going crazy, but I really needed to put this out there.

I hope you’re not feeling this way either, but if you are, reach out!

xo

Food, health, travel

What to do when you’re in London for a medical check.

If you’re not in London for your own enjoyment, the chances are you’ve got to work around other arrangements, right? When I went to London for my medical check, I had to leave Bournemouth at 5am and the coach back was at 7pm – it was a looooooong day.

We walked from Victoria up to Piccadilly Square, then hopped on a bus because I just wanted to get up to Oxford Street. We stopped in Pret (my saviour) for a coffee and hot croissant – at 8am on a freezing cold morning, that was like heaven.

Thankfully Harley Street is only a 15 (ish) minute walk from Oxford Street / Regent Street.

LONDON

I waited the 50 minutes for Leigh to finish his medical, then he buggered off for coffee and smokes, whilst I had my medical. Once it was all over we were tired, hungry and not at all in the mood to sight-see. However, if you do go to London for a medical check you’ll most likely end up in a clinic on Harley Street – it seems to be the ‘health street’.

Within 15 minutes you will find

  1. The Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street.
  2. Madame Tussauds on Marylebone Road
  3. The beautiful Regent’s Park
  4. London Zoo – although if you’re short of time this definitely won’t be an option!
    and of course…
  5. Oxford and Regent Streets

If you’re hungry, you will find about 15 Pret, McDonalds, Subway, etc however

If you’re a fan on Mexican food you do not want to miss this place
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL on Baker Street – it’s basically a subway-style restaurant for Mexican food. Burritos, Nachos, Quesadillas and more!

mexican food in london

and another one of my favourites, but quite pricey, is Joe and the Juice. (also on Baker Street) which is a really chilled out, funky smoothie cafe. I first found it in Stavanger, Norway and absolutely loved it!

smoothie shops in london

Let’s face it, in London, you’re never too far from anywhere.

We went to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, which was absolutely mental and we walked through as quickly as possible. It was lovely, but far too busy.

London Hyde Park

One place I 100% recommend is this beautiful chocolate shop and cafe called Rococo – their main store is in Belgravia on Motcomb Street and they serve the most amazing hot chocolates! You can choose from different flavours and you even get a massive marshmallow to dunk in! Hands down the best hot chocolate I’ve had in my life.

London's best hot chocolate

And of course you are close to Oxford Street, Regent Street, Harrods and everything else that London has to offer, but if you’re waiting for appointments or x-rays you won’t be able to stray too far from the clinic.

Let me know if you think of any other ideas I could add to this post!
Thanks xo

Claire in China, health, travel

Getting a medical for the China Z visa

In case you haven’t been following my blog, I’m heading out to China in a few weeks! This is my second post on my ‘move to China’, the first of which can be found here

My final step before the school in China could apply for my work permit was having a medical check here in the UK… I spent hours and hours trying to find a cheap and simple solution to this but unfortunately there isn’t one.

If you’re in the south like I am, head to London.
If you’re in the midlands or up north, you can go to Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and a few other big cities.

Those of you moving to China are quite likely to hear different stories, just as I did, which could be any of the following:

  1. You don’t have to do it in the UK, just do it in China
  2. Just go to your local doctor and they can sign it
  3. Go to your local hospital on the NHS and they will do it
  4. Sign it yourself, no problem
  5. I will get you a fake copy, just pay me some money
  6. I will get you a fake document, for free, because I’m nice!

How many of these sound ‘legit’? Let me tell you, number 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are not.

Your local GP cannot sign a form saying you have had an x-ray if you haven’t, your local NHS hospital will not fill out the form for you, they will send you to a private hospital or clinic.

Number 1 is a tricky one because each province can decide whether or not the employers require a health check in the UK. Some of them will allow foreigners to have one in China on arrival BUT in two different situations someone told me I wouldn’t have to have a health check in the UK, then they spoke to their agency and government contacts who then told them I would have to have a health check in the UK.

Believe me, it is so much easier to just bite the bullet, pay the £350+ and have the medical done and dusted in one day. If you go to a private clinic that specialises in visa medicals, they will know what you need doing, they will do it and they will sign (and stamp!) the form for you.

After weeks of trying to find a way around this, we found Doctorcall, on Harley Street, in London. They offered a 10% discount if you booked and paid upfront via their website and we had an appointment within a day (December 30th!).

If  you need the Foreign Medical Form – you can find it here

We turned up a little early and sat in the waiting room, the place was deserted as everyone was on holiday! but each medical only took about 50 minutes. The standard procedure for the medical is this (the order will probably differ depending on the clinic):

  1. Pulse check
  2. Checking your heart beat
  3. Checking your ears and eyes 
    (the above are pretty much what happens when you see your GP)
  4. ECG – Where they attach patches (electrodes) to your chest, arms and legs, which are hooked up to a machine that can read your heart rate and rhythm.

    A very standard procedure but the one thing I really hate about these things is having to sit half naked whilst they do it. I hate not being dressed, in any situation.

  5. Blood test – ouch! No one likes these anyway, right? Be aware that some clinics will charge you extra if you don’t know your blood group. Doctorcall did not charge extra, thankfully.
  6. Eye sight – checking your sight and colour recognition. Pretty much like any standard eye-test you have at your opticians.
  7. Urine sample
  8. X-ray – now some clinics will have their x-ray clinic in the same building, Doctorcall doesn’t and we had to walk about 10 minutes down the road to the London Imaging Centre – they were extremely professional and we were in and out within 20 minutes (for both of us)

That’s about it really. It’s an absolute pain-in-the-neck if you don’t live near a clinic but trust me on this one, just get it done. By the time you get to China you’ll have made the money back within a week or two.

Plus, is a day out in London really so bad? I’ll be blogging about things to do nearby the clinics in London later… so check back for that.

 

I hope that’s helpful for some of you, please let me know if I’ve missed anything or if you’d like to share your experience!

xo

health, Personal

Dealing with a break up, the healthy way.

So, you’re dealing with the after-math of a break up, right? How’s it going? Are you throwing all evidence in the nearest bin? Are you throwing things across the room? Crying yourself to sleep each night? Or are you on the other side of the table? Partying, celebrating, being ‘you’ again?

Whichever side you’re on, it’s not always that easy in the following days, weeks or even months after a break up and the most vital piece of information is this:

Treating yourself well during the post-breakup period — whether you initiated the split or were on the receiving end — is a must.
Huffington Post

You matter. You are important. You will get through this.

My top tips for dealing with a break up would be:

1. Treat yourself.

Ladies: Get your nails done, get a hair cut (or at least go to the hairdressers to have them wash your hair – it’s amazing how relaxing this can be), have coffee with your friends, buy yourself a new outfit or handbag, treat yourself to a nice lunch in your favourite cafe or restaurant.

Remember: You don’t need someone else to make you happy, you can be happy by yourself.

Guys: Hair cut? Why not?! Enjoy the tv without fighting over the remote. Enjoy watching the football / basketball / rugby with your mates. Grab a beer or coffee with friends.

Spending time with friends and family is important as they will be there to support you and, hopefully, help you look forward to the future. Be with people who don’t care if you cry hideously or need to express your anger or upset about the situation. You can’t shut away your emotions and the best way to express yourself is with those who you can trust and will not judge you.

2. Don’t dwell on the past and look forward.

You broke up for a reason and it’s time to move on, okay? You don’t have to hate the person, you don’t have to be nasty. You can move on positively. Learn from the relationship.

Although you’re unable to alter the past, you can always learn from your mistakes. If nothing else, lessons can always be learned from a failed relationship.

Zoe Griggs via Thought Catalog

I know some people stay friends with their exes – and this isn’t something I do, because I don’t think it helps you move on (unless you have a child together or perhaps work together, situations obviously play a big part in this situation).

It’s perfectly okay to look back and be happy about the good times you had together, but don’t ignore the issues you had. There are obviously reasons you broke up and you have to remind yourself of them and that your relationship wasn’t working out. If you’re not objective you’ll struggle to move on.

finding closure

 

I know it’s hard. You’ve lost, maybe, your best friend, someone you thought was your soulmate or partner for life, but this happens. It can happen at any time in your life. After 50 years of marriage, after 50 days of going out. You’re not alone and it will get easier.

If you’re not throwing everything in the bin, I suggest you find a box or a folder to put everything in. Whether they’re cards, presents, receipts or movie tickets. Put them all together in one box and put it under your bed, in your wardrobe or somewhere else out of sight. One day you will, hopefully, look back and have happier memories of the time you two spent together, but right now it may be upsetting to go through those memories. Certainly don’t replay days or moments over and over again.

3. Stay active – get moving and be healthy!

It’s so easy to stay in bed and cry all night, or watch Netflix in your PJs and cry all day. Don’t. The odd afternoon or evening is perfectly acceptable and it’s most likely going to happen, but don’t let this be a daily occurrence. It absolutely will not help you. You have to get moving!

Keep telling yourself you’re going to hit the gym? Now’s the time!
This is the perfect opportunity to keep yourself focused on something else, something that will benefit you greatly in the long run too.

Get yourself to the gym, pool or even work out at home – jumping jacks, squats, skipping, hula-hooping! Whatever it is, get those endorphins flowing!

It’ll help you build your confidence, maybe make some new friends AND it gives you the chance to put yourself first. There are some additional tips here at Fitness Republic.

4. Take care of yourself!

I’m sure this goes without saying that you need to be kinder to yourself – maybe you don’t feel like eating, perhaps you can’t sleep…

Eat SOMETHING – Eat toast and peanut butter. Eat a banana. Eat pot noodles. You have to eat something. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, especially if you’re not sleeping. Don’t constantly pig out on pizzas, chocolate and beer because that will not help you, even if you think it will.

Sleep – If you’re up half the night overthinking, you’ll exhaust yourself. It’s perfectly reasonable to nap in the day if you need to, but make sure you are sleeping. I know I have barely slept in a week. The bags under my eyes are practically suitcases and my headache hasn’t yet gone away. It’s to be expected.

Read – Quotes. Books. Self-help articles. Whatever keeps you from completely breaking down. Do it. I often read through my ‘mindfulness’ books for advice on how to keep calm, how to look after myself. They work a real treat!

Personally, Pinterest is my go-to place when I’m feeling down because of the never-ending amount of quotes. Positive quotes. Break up quotes. Happiness quotes. Motivational Quotes.

Even now, I’m on Pinterest trying to support myself with ‘break up quotes‘ and listening to my ‘Moving on’ playlist I made on Youtube a few years ago.

Write – I always find writing helps. Write about how you’re feeling in some way. If you’re blogging, writing in a journal, trying out poetry, it doesn’t matter. You don’t even have to share any of these words but believe me, they help cleanse your mind. It’s like an escape. A release of emotions through the pen (or keyboard). However, don’t use this opportunity to slate them on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram because all it will do is make you look like the bad person, not them. Remember, you’re trying to move on positively.

Self love. Self care. Make yourself a priority.
You do what you need to do move on, but be kind to yourself.


These are just my pieces of advice and of course, there are hundreds of way to take care of yourself, to get over someone, to move on from a relationship. However, you have to start somewhere and this is my ‘go-to’ list.

I’ve lost my best friend, my ‘wifey4lifey’ tag no longer means anything, my engagement ring is tucked away in my jewelry box and yes, I’m crying myself to sleep most nights.

I’ve tried to clear my social media accounts of our photos, deleted him from Facebook and un-followed his blog. Deleted his number and email. Cleared my phone of our photos and silly moments.

What happened is for the best, for both of us, but it still hurts and undoubtedly will do for a while. We had lots of fun and I will keep many of our memories close to my heart, but as I said, we broke up for a reason and now it’s my turn to toughen up and move on.

 

healthy food
health, Personal

How to keep yourself happy in January

It’s a new year, it’s a dull month, we’re all broke, we’re all trying to stick to our new year’s resolution, right? January can be a real bitch.

So the question is, “how do I keep myself happy when times get tough?”
It’s a tricky one because no single idea works for everyone, and we all struggle in different ways. Even people who are able to give the best advice to others.

Remember my previous blog posts about Matt Haig (you can read them here and here)?


Not gonna lie, am finding January a bit hard this year

In just over two hours he has already received over 100 tweets from people sharing support, suggestions and also messages of agreement. I’m included in that. January, you’re being a bitch.

So, what can we do?

Ways of staying positive

1. Surround yourself with supportive people

Honestly, this is one of the biggest reminders I have to tell myself. On days where I want to crawl under the covers and cry for hours on end, it’s those days where I need to self-care the most. I (almost always) prize myself out of bed, put on some make-up and get a plan in action.

Sometimes, your friends aren’t free and you need to find another way of meeting people. I find that a familiar cafe helps, or a local restaurant where you know the staff are lovely. This saved me in so many ways when I was struggling with depression. I’m vocal about my issues and people often know when I’m not okay – the amount of times I went to a favourite place and the people I knew made me feel better almost instantly is uncountable!

positive_quotes

My example: Yesterday, I was due to go into work and get my handovers, observe a lesson, and all I wanted to do was stay at home and cry, mope, feel sorry for myself. But where would that get me? I worked too hard to go backwards.

Being back at BEET was wonderful. I didn’t even expect anyone to really notice me but I had such a warm welcome. I had hugs, surprised faces, so many questions about my plans and even my students were happy to see me. I could’ve cried, I was so overwhelmed.

This, ladies and gents, is why having the right people around you is so important. I always thought I could manage the world on my own, I pushed everyone away thinking I needed no one, and that is half the reason why I’ve struggled when I have, because I’ve been alone. The colleagues and friends I have at BEET are invaluable. I cannot explain the ways in which these people inspire and support me, despite only knowing them for 6 months. Walking through that door almost feels like home.

2. Eat well. 

I know every book and blog post about health and happiness tells you this but it’s true. Sure, go ahead, eat a pizza, eat a chocolate cake, eat whatever you want, but is it kind to your body? Will it make you sick?

I struggle with dairy products these days and I’ve tried to keep my diet as vegan as possible but in all honesty, I’m failing. When I’m having a bad day I grab a pizza or a box of malteasers, have a Dr Pepper or some other junk food. It doesn’t help.

I feel bloated, nauseous and uncomfortable.

However, whack together a plate of avocado on toast topped with chillis and lime juice – I’m in heaven. Drink plenty of water, lay off the alcohol (or at least consume as little as possible), enjoy a cup of coffee… Keep your body happy and your mind will appreciate it.

healthy_eating

3. Rest.

Another point that is reiterated time and time again, but it’s completely true. Taking time to rest and relax is vital. If you’re feeling down, angry, irritated, will a big night out help you? No, probably not (Nor will it help your bank balance). Will a long bath and an early night help? Maybe, hopefully. It does for many of us.

It’s okay if you need an extra hour, or three, in bed. It’s okay to stay in your PJs all day. It’s okay if you need a time out. Listen to your body when it’s telling you to slow down. It knows what you need.

Take time to be mindful.
Mindful breathing. Mindful writing. Mindful walking. Appreciating what you do have. Yoga.

I find that writing down how I feel helps me to understand myself better as I can see the words on the page. It helps me think about how to move on from what I’m feeling and perhaps why I’m feeling it, if it isn’t an obvious issue.

4. Allow the struggle.

This may sound a little odd, but you can’t always be happy – right? You have to learn to accept your true emotions without suppressing them. If you’re having a bad day, it’s perfectly okay to cry. Whether your a girl or guy. Cry your heart out if you need to. I learned a few years ago that trying not to cry only makes it worse in the end. You must accept your emotions.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re feeling anxious, scared, upset, heartbroken or any other emotion – Feel it. Allow it to exist. Find a way through it. Move on from it.

“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”
― C.S. LewisThe Silver Chair

“I have been crying,” she replied, simply, “and it has done me good. It helps a woman you know, just as swearing helps a man.”
― Horace Annesley VachellThe Romance of Judge Ketchum

“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.”
― Kripalvanandji

I’m no psychologist, doctor, or expert of any kind, but what I do know is how hard it is to struggle every single day. Years of depression and sadness and anger. Bitterness, jealously, despair – all of these nasty, negative, destructive emotions that consumed my life for years. I had to fight it like hell. It gets easier, if you work at it, it really does.

I would never want to see someone struggle and I only hope that by sharing parts of my own life and advice, I can make a difference. Even if it’s just to one person.


What do you do to stay positive and look after yourself?
Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

Lots of love xo

health

New Year New Me? No. New Year, Continuing Me.

Let’s be honest guys… how long does that ‘new year, new me’ crap last? A month? Maybe two? The only people it really works for are those who are truly determined to make a change. I’ve seen one girl do that in the last twelve months and she inspires me a ridiculous amount! If you don’t know / follow her… you need to. Her name is PAULINE! 

Her blog is full of travels, coding, work outs and daily events but this woman is working on her self every single day. How she does it I don’t know, but she’s amazing. You can follow her blog HERE

I’m not a new me this year, nor any year to be honest, but what I am going to keep working on is my health, fitness and weight loss. I’m determined to do more this year and in all honestly, I was doing really well until December, and then I got lazy as sh*t.

For January I’ve found this little workout sheet (via Pinterest) and I’m going to try and follow this (but doing a few extra crunches than the plan), plus add in some lizard crunches and flutter kicks. I’m also going to try and run at least once a week, but I’m not sure how I’ll get on with that.

workoutplan