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

Finding that Pot of Gold

Over the course of the last week, I’ve been forced to re-assess my opinion about something which is relatively trivial but which has got me wondering about how much I miss out on in life because of my own opinions. I have been guilty of judging many books by their covers and in this case it was a store by its adverts and my own assumption of its reputation.

Last week I decided it was time to take the plunge and upgrade my phone to the new BlackBerry Z10 and I was going to be fussy and only get it if I could have it in white. Immediately this limited my choice of network but that was ok because O2 had it and that’s where I wanted to stay. That was until they refused to make me a decent offer to compete with what I found on the Phones 4U website. The problem was that I didn’t really want to use Phones 4U because in my head they were unreliable and provided shockingly bad customer service. However, I ended up with no choice and I was going to have to change to being on Orange as well.

I was wrong. Phones 4U were fantastic, their online chat operator helped me put my order in and then when Orange rejected me, Phones 4U advised me what I needed to do. Then, when Orange had given me the wrong email address twice and not bothered to reply for a further 2 days once I had been given the correct information, Phones 4U rang me again. Sure they were after my business but I’m glad someone was; I had money to spend and whilst Orange outright rejected my “Excellent” credit rating as not good enough, O2 simply weren’t prepared to compete to keep me. Thank you Phones 4U for swooping in and offering me exactly the deal I wanted on O2. My new phone is on its way.

The advisers I dealt with from Phones 4U were all fantastic, really friendly, really helpful and did what they said they would do. The advisers at O2 were ok but constrained by their internal policies of not changing tariff prices and the advisers at Orange were hugely variable. Orange staff seem to vary across the spectrum of rude and talking over you, through disinterested and finally ending up at helpful. Well, that got me. I thought the networks all delivered far better service than these high street shops and I also thought the networks would do better deals as I was going direct but that was wrong too.

You may be wondering why I’ve bothered regaling you with this gripping tale of the customer service I’ve received when you really don’t care that much, but there are two points to this. One is to rant and just put it out there one more time how rubbish I think Orange are and the other is to remind people that sometimes our preconceptions are wrong. We may think we know the lie of the land but actually it doesn’t hurt to go exploring with an open mind once in a while because we might just find that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. x

The Information Age of Bad Writing

PunctuationBefore I embark on this tirade against most people who use the internet, I feel I must preface it with an acknowledgement that I am not perfect and I know that I make mistakes too. However, that is not going to stop me ranting about the shockingly poor level of literacy we seem to have in the western world today which seems to stem not from poverty but from laziness.

To my mind, the internet is a good thing and the very fact that I am writing this shows that I am a keen user; I use most of the standard social networking sites, I shop online, I blog, I bank and I generally spend a good deal of time “browsing”. The problem I have is that the internet is possibly the most un-edited method of communication we have ever had. Not only do we have trolls shouting out abuse that they’d be far too scared to actually say to anybody’s face but we have the literal problem of a lack of editing. How many reviews have you read which are written in text speak? How many times have you seen the word “definitely” spelled as “defiantly” or “definatly”? This is just the tip of the iceberg…

When I was a school girl, my world was much smaller than it would be if I were at school today. Encarta was the goddess of computers and homework research, she knew something about everything. I mean an encyclopaedia in a computer, who’d have thought that was possible!?! The thing about it though was that it was edited, it was largely fact rather than opinion and the English in it made sense – words were even spelled correctly! These days kids grow up with literally no idea how to write; for every Dickens novel read by a child, they probably read 100 incorrectly spelled and punctuated comments on the internet. This wouldn’t be such a problem if they had parents whipping them into shape but we now face an era where stupid literally breeds stupid. If there is no role model for the child, they are unlikely to learn the correct techniques from external influences because there is simply so much rubbish out there.

We have spell checkers and a wealth of tools at our fingertips allowing us to write something that vaguely resembles the language it is supposed to be yet still people get it so very wrong. What’s worse is that it seems to be okay to do this. Even people who I know are teachers write appallingly badly and they’re not writing in text speak, they genuinely do not know how to use apostrophes or what a semicolon is. If they don’t know that, however will we end this continual cycle of error-ridden writing? As somebody who loves to read and write, this concerns me. It concerns me on other levels too because this is a symptom of a much wider epidemic of laziness and this laziness seems to be getting worse rather than better. I don’t want to live in a world where it’s acceptable to have low standards, I want to live in a society that is proud and hard-working but it seems to be drip, dripping down the drain and unfortunately one of the things I love most seems to be escalating the issue. Sorry internet, I do love you but you seem to be allowing the lazy people to thrive and I’m not sure I’m keen on that.

I don’t know what I can do about this and the fact is it’s probably little more than writing this post and giving people I know friendly nudges that they might want to check their work but I had to say it. It was one of those things I needed to get off my chest and some encouraging words from a couple of my theatre friends gave me the final push I needed to publish this. I’d like to say I’m sorry if I’ve offended you but really, you’ve probably already offended me with your terrible writing so now you can consider us even. As for the rest of you, have yourselves a super day and I’ll be back soon with something more upbeat! x

Turning Negativity Into Positivity

Today is one of those days which forms one of those weeks, which is rapidly turning into one of those months when I just feel down. Blue, miserable, bummed; however you say it, that’s how I feel. Until yesterday, I thought everyone would know how I feel when I say that it just feels like everything is too much. Things I usually deal with suddenly feel too much. Then I told someone who isn’t really familiar with that feeling and I realised that maybe we don’t all get like this, it’s just the special ones of us who struggle day-to-day to get up and smile. Now you might be wondering why that little bit is relevant…well, it’s relevant because if other people don’t get like this, then it’s obviously not the standard human state and that means I can change it.

I’ve got a whole load of things I want to change and a lot of them are physical / health related and I already know they will take months, if not years of hard slog to fix but I’ve decided to look on the bright side. I must expend an inordinate amount of energy on negative feelings; not through choice but I’m not really putting up much of a fight either. What if I took even half of that energy and spent it doing positive things? Well, firstly I’d need to be very self-aware to catch myself in the act of feeling negative, but I am so that’s fine. Secondly, if I did all of these positive things, surely some of the things I feel blue about would start to get sorted and I’d have less things bashing around my head making me feel so tired and drained. In turn, that would then give me more energy to spend doing positive things!

So this is my Spring resolution; I’m going to take that negative energy and make it positive. It sounds easy but I’m sure it’s going to be quite tough at first and it’s going to take some working out to understand what I can do to actually make this a reality. I’m already on track though, check out my current examples of things I have done:

1.)    I am totally broke, anyone who is a regular reader knows I have a mountain of debts and I shop to cure my boredom and depression. Recently this has been bugging me more than usual and I keep feeling like I don’t have enough money to live within my monthly pay cheque and socialise even a little bit. Today I was stressing about this big time and getting mighty miserable about it, so I took action. I logged in to my online banking and checked up on where all my cash has gone. Before I knew it, I found I have spent £500 on shopping and socialising already this month because I’ve had a couple of birthdays and took my parents out for dinner, etc. £500. Let me say that again, £500. And I’m telling myself I can’t live on my salary??? Pah! I’ve got loads of money, I’m just not using it properly. Tonight, I will be enlisting the help of a certain someone to sort my budgeting out to make sure that next month I have change from my £500 and I’ve had loads of fun!

2.)    This afternoon I’ve been sat at my desk not in the mood for work at all, literally feeling soooooooooo low it’s unreal. My mind has been buzzing round and round in circles thinking about things I can do nothing about whilst at work and wishing for instant solutions I simply will not find. So I thought some more and decided that I wasn’t settling for that this Tuesday, I was darned well going to make my day better and the way I was going to do it was by writing. So here I am, chit chatting away to you about nothing more than the slightly weird thoughts in my head but it’s making me happy!

So you see, whilst I might not be working any miracles, I’m already using some of my negative energy to find positive solutions to my problems. Yes, those are two fairly minor examples and it’s not always that easy but it is day 1 of this resolution and my change in mindset is already making me feel happier and more like I can overcome the mountains I see before me; I’m just going to do it one molehill at a time! If you have any great tips for turning bad thoughts into good ones, I’d love to hear from you! Happy Tuesday people 🙂 x

Friday Lust

Hello friends!

Friday Lust is back! I’ve been a bit poorly this week so I decided to cheer myself up with some online window shopping and it’s led me down a new path I never thought I’d consider. I’ve ended up looking at trainers! Yes, trainers. Last weekend I went on an unexpectedly long walk and realised my boots just weren’t that comfortable and wished I was the sort of person to rock trainers on a weekend. Now trainers are historically pretty un-fashion friendly but I’ve seen soooooo many cool pairs on the high street recently that I figured there must be a pair out there waiting for me. Then I discovered NikeID and now I am in love and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy; I’ve designed a pair I really, really, really want and really, really, really can’t afford. Here they are:

Nike Air Force 1 High Premium ID - £175

Nike Air Force 1 High Premium ID – £175

Just look at that! Animal print plus pink, plus the hard edge of the black and it’s all in one shoe! OMG!!! I’d have to sell all my other shoes and wear them every single day to get them but the longing I feel for these right now is beyond a joke! Watch this space for me advertising the sale of everything I own on eBay 🙂

Happy Friday my little shopper friends x

Internet Dating: The Real Deal?

HeartNot so very long ago, had you asked me about internet dating, I would have said that I had no problem with it but really couldn’t see how anybody could find someone they even wanted to spend more than 3 dates with, never mind a forever partner. These days we are literally bombarded with adverts for different dating sites, especially around Christmas and New Year when we’re most vulnerable and you can sign up for anything from a harmless sploshing session to looking for your future spouse. It’s pretty clear how the sites at the more sexual end of the spectrum work, they just let you know that there are people in your area who want the same thing and help you find them more easily than the trial and error method of bumping into people in bars and clubs. What attracts more scepticism though, is the sites that proclaim they will help you find “the one”.

Have you even decided what “the one” looks like on paper (and maybe even in the flesh)? Will you definitely know that it’s them when they send you the first, tentative opening message, something along the lines of: “Hi, you look hot, you sound normal. I am hot and normal too, promise. Please message me back…please…did I mention I’m normal and hot? Please, thank you, please.” What makes you decide which messages to reply to and which to bin straight away? I can’t tell you the number of moronic messages I replied to on PoF because I gave them the benefit of the doubt; “they might be dyslexic” or “not everyone is good at writing / selling themselves / communicating with other humans”…WTF!?! If somebody spoke to me like that in a bar, would I really give them any of my time??? Quite frankly I would not.

What about the great, interesting messages from people who have clearly taken the time to read your profile and send you a tailored message but look less than ideal in their pictures? Do you reply to those? Really? Majority binned by me but yet I’d say I go for personality over looks, clearly I don’t know myself as well as I thought! So how do you find anyone worth your time when you’re as fussy as most of us are, responding to the idiots with no personality and deleting the great guys because they had a bit too much of a bald head or they were only 5’11 instead of 6’3?

Well, the answer is, I think internet dating is just like dating in the real world…you just know. You “meet” someone and they might not be 100% perfect at first or you might have some questions but you keep chatting and suddenly you realise that the person is pretty awesome and definitely worth meeting again; this time face to face. Before you know it, you’ve ended up in some kind of a relationship and it all started with a tentative “hello” over email. Something about the tone of their message and the style of their profile just caught your eye and you could relate to it, in the same way that someone’s laugh or smile might grab you in a bar so you gave them more time and it paid off.

So now I say that internet dating is great because you can get to know lots of people at once and there’s none of the awkwardness when you don’t get on, you just stop chatting to the person without having to make crazy excuses or climb out of toilet windows.  When you do meet someone you like though, it’s just like normal dating because you simply move it from online to real life. Really there’s no difference between internet dating and meeting people in bars, both require you to plough through a lot of rubbish to find the diamond but when you do, you’ll know it! x