Being Different: On Saying No To Alcohol – Ellie-Louise Des Baux

Featured, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Hi, I’m Ellie-Louise, a freelance writer and self-love advocate! When I’m not writing articles for my clients, you can find me writing for my blog, Ellie’s Entries, or practising yoga! Over on my Instagram (@ellie_desbaux), I talk a lot about self-love, body confidence and mental health, and what I want to talk about today ties into exactly that!

If you would like to see more from me you can check out my links here: https://linktr.ee/elliedesbaux

Before I dive into this article, I want to say a huge thank you to Chloe for this series and letting me tell my story! I can’t wait to read everyone else’s.

What makes you different?

Growing up I struggled a lot with my mental health and fitting in, so when my teenage years came about and everyone started drinking, I saw it as a safe haven for friendship and unity. I was finally deemed cool enough to be invited to parties. Unfortunately, a poor mental state and alcohol didn’t mix very well for me.

It’s like mixing red wine with vodka, been there, done that, I don’t recommend it! 

As the years went by I was labelled the ’emotional drunk’ and really didn’t understand what limits were. I didn’t know what to do. If I got drunk people, who didn’t know me very well, would complain about me being a wreck, but if I didn’t they would call me boring. It may sound crazy, but the latter scared me the most. I have always been the boring one, the one who didn’t dance, the one who didn’t take risks, I couldn’t chance it.

So, after years of regretting every night out and torturing myself mentally for the things I did or said when I was drunk – I decided to try and cut back on drinking. It didn’t happen all at once. I found it hard to visit old friends because it was easy to fall back into old habits and trips to the pub seemed alien without alcohol.

As I have grown and began to transform my mindset, I realised saying no to alcohol was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s still a journey and some people don’t understand but it was a big part of me starting to love myself and forgiving my past.

What is bad about why you are different?

From growing up in London and working in Soho, you quickly learn that everything revolves around booze. The drinking culture was out of control and sometimes I still crumble under the pressure. I couldn’t keep up with the drinking, as soon as the words left my mouth, ‘I don’t drink’ their faces paled and any chance of friendship was lost. I ended up leaving my dream job in London because of my anxiety and fear that I didn’t fit in.

Working there was great and I’ll always be grateful for the experience but the mainstream culture around drinking just wasn’t for me and you had to participate to survive in the industry I was in.

Soon I realised it wasn’t just London, but it was a human trait to enjoy drinking. At first, I thought maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I soon learned it’s okay to be different.

Something I’ve struggled with is that people find it hard to relate to me when they find out I don’t like getting drunk. Even though I don’t drink, I don’t hold any negative feelings towards people who do! It’s fun for many people and I hope my sobriety doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. I know a lot of people who like to drink but it doesn’t alter my opinion of them, there is so much more to us than if we like a drink or not.

The other struggle I have faced is sending mixed messages. If I go to the pub or it’s a special occasion, I might choose to have one drink. However, when I choose not to have a second or third, people think there’s something wrong with me and question me throughout the evening. They ask if ‘I’m sure?’ and say ‘I’ll have more fun’ if I drink.

What is good about why you are different?

Over the process of cutting alcohol out of my life, it has helped me practice keeping my boundaries. I feel healthier, I have a better relationship with myself and the things I consume.

When I go out, I know I have a choice and saying no is okay. I can now enjoy being my true self, without the regrets, self-hatred, and 2-day hangovers.

What is one thing you want someone to take away from this article the most?

My advice would be to do what makes you feel good! If following the crowd is not serving you, it’s ok to do your own thing! If drinking is something you’re struggling with, my biggest piece of advice is to remember you’re worthy without the alcohol.

You’re not boring, you’re a wonderful person and if anyone tells you otherwise, they probably just don’t understand. Stay true to who you are and what you want.

I also want to say, there is so much more to people than their drinking habits – we are all fantastic the way we are, alcohol or not.

 

A note from Clo

After a week break we’re back with a bang! A really interesting and insightful article from Ellie-Louise Des Baux! A huge thank you for writing this piece, I have really enjoyed it and hope others can learn from it too!

 

Does our society have an issue with weight?

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With lockdown going on I have seen way more fat-phobic jokes on the internet. It’s somehow more appropriate to joke about being fat and in turn ugly. I am fat. I was fat before lockdown and I will be fat after lockdown. It is not funny, and I will not lose weight after lockdown to fit peoples closed minded opinions on weight. My body is not your ‘post lockdown nightmare’. Many people have been taking this extra time to lose weight and get fit, which if that’s you then amazing! However, it does not give you the right to make other people feel small about their body. Lockdown has been incredibly difficult for many people’s mental health’s, so broadcasting your toxic views on how everyone should be losing weight now and making dramatic lifestyle choices is unfair. Jokes about ‘wearing a mask to stop you from eating’ and other jokes along that line are incredibly harmful to those struggling with eating disorders.

To be honest, our society has an issue with weight. Whether you are fat or skinny, society will have an issue with you.

Lately, Adele has had an incredible weight loss transformation. I have seen many say this is the ‘greatest accomplishment’ she has had. Which is frankly wrong. Adele has won an Oscar and 15 Grammy awards, which is surely a better thing to be impressed by… Adele was a great icon pre weight loss and is still an icon post weight loss, because her body has nothing to do with the music or things she has accomplished. To compliment someone’s weight loss can become very toxic because it encourages people to believe that smaller bodies are more desired by society. It is also to note that it is wrong to be criticising Adele for her weight loss which I have also seen on her Instagram comments. It is clear women can never win; be too fat and you’ll be made fun of, lose some weight and be too thin you’ll be criticised. I think the thing to take from it is the world will always critic your body, so the only opinion that should matter is your own. Leading on from this, I once said to a friend that she looked very slimmed, I hadn’t made a compliment or criticism, I had just stated it in our conversation, which I did instantly regret because I hate commenting on other people’s bodies. At the same time others of our friends had openly celebrated her weight loss… To which she confessed to me later that it was due to her being in a poor mental health place and struggling to eat. Had I complimented her on this weight lost then she probably wouldn’t have opened up to me, nor would complimenting someone on weight loss from depression be appropriate.  She had not purposely wanted to lose weight and was deeply struggling on the inside, so being complimented on this was draining her mental health further.  I do want to note it can however be supportive to comment on someone’s weight loss, but I do think it is important that the person has lost weight purposefully and for the right reasons. Make sure you have the context before the compliment.

I have so many messages every single day in my insta dm’s asking me to promote weight loss products from skinny coffees and appetite suppressing lollipops. There is not enough money in the world to ever make me want to promote these products. This is because I would rather be eating HEALTHY and be FAT (omg shocker), than be using skinny coffee (which basically makes you poop yourself non-stop to be skinny) and treating my body poorly. There has been some people I know that have become ambassadors for these products, they will use the same stock photos of ‘results’ that the brand will send out to each ambassador. I have a mainly female audience online and I could never promote such a toxic way of living on any of my social media. To me, it is much more important to promote self-love and self-care to my audience. I regularly discuss with them how my opinion on myself has changed. I wish when I was younger, I had someone real to look up to and to take comfort in. Instead I followed lots of slim celebrities endorsing harmful products and showing off toxic ways of living. Leading me to lower the low self-esteem I already had. I think it’s funny that we assume that people’s weight is equivalent to the food style they eat. Some of my friends are slim while eating a considerable amount of junk food, with others like myself being fat while still eating a well-balanced diet. There are so many factors involved in weight (like genetics and metabolism speed), that an appetite suppressing lollipop isn’t going to solve my weight ‘issues’.

For as long as I can remember I have always disliked how my body looked, my whole life I have thought I was fat. That being fat was horrid and a bad thing (which it is not). When looking back at me aged 15 thinking I was fat and disgusting at a size 16 makes me cringe. It is weird to think that at a size 20 I am more comfortable with my body than I was at a size 16. Now at the age of 21 I have learnt the whole world will have an opinion on my body, but I like it and that is the only opinion that will matter. The obsession of my body has come from the environment around me. The media, school friends, family, everyone always has something to say on someone else’s body. When I was 16 one of my relatives gave me dieting pills on my way to work and told me I would be ‘happier’ and ‘liked more’ if I took them. Luckily for me my parents laughed at the idea when I showed them what said family member had given me. My self-confidence issues had stemmed from issues like this. Issues that other people had put on my weight. In all honesty, there is still days now where I wish I was skinnier, where I wish I didn’t have certain faults, but I remind myself that my body is my home. I could spend my whole life picking faults in my body, but I would lead an unhappy life. The secret is you will probably always find things not to like about your body if you spend your time looking for the faults. I am not going to say your body is perfect and the nonsense I used to tell myself. Your body keeps you alive and healthy, that’s it’s job. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I tell myself regularly that my body is keeping me alive, my heart is good, and I am kind, and that’s all that matters. Since stopping looking for my faults I am leading a happier life. I have lost the care of what others think and it has led me to change my whole outlook on myself. I eat what I want, wear what I want and be who I want. Just from one tweak in my mindset. It wasn’t an easy change, and the growth period was uncomfortable. I will always be growing to accept my body more and leaving behind the negative stigma that surrounded me for so long.

I put out a question on my Instagram which has 20,000 followers of which is a mainly young female audience saying ‘Do you think we live in a society controlled by body image?’ , after the 24 hours it was up it received 100% votes on YES. I then asked people to tell me their opinion if they felt comfortable. It was interesting that every single response was pretty much the same. The media has an issue no matter what size you are. Below is one response!

@Jazwillis stated ‘We most definitely live in a society controlled by body images – there’s not a day that goes by where you don’t see a half-naked beautiful body on our social media pages, which is fine. Bodies are art but we then start to compare ourselves to all those images. That’s where body dysmorphia comes into play – we pick at ourselves because we don’t look remotely like something that we’ve seen online when in reality we are more real and should be more accepted than what we appropriate as ‘normal’.

We continue to try and accept different body types but somehow comment sections still fill up with negativity and sly remarks are still muttered under people’s breaths. If we as human beings didn’t care so much about what we looked like or continuously compare ourselves to a certain size or shape, we’d be happier without a doubt. The image of perfection that we continuously see results in an unrealistic reality filled with defending our weight, promoting body confidence just for ‘the gram’ even if we don’t feel confident at all, extreme dieting & even surgery.

On a positive note, I do enjoy seeing more people genuinely speak up for different shape, sizes and race on social media. It truly is the growth that we need, and I can’t wait to see more of it.’

The issue with our society is it is so fixated on how people look rather than who people are. I sometimes wonder if I became incredibly skinny while having a horrid personality would I be liked more by society? Quite probably. However, I would rather be known for having a good heart and always doing right by others. Weight does not affect the person you are inside. Which is cringe and cliché, but the size of your body has nothing to do with the amount of love you can give another. Those worthy of loving you will love you at a size 20, 12 or 6.

So, to conclude this, whether you’re tall or short, fat or thin, remember your body is your home. There is no perfect body image, so stop trying to be it. If you stop picking faults in yourself and others, then the societies stigma will begin to change. We are the society and we have to say no to the constant negative chatter on bodies. Stop reading the negative tabloids on people’s bodies, because you feed the writer to keep posting more. Stop liking posts of celebrities and influencers who perpetuate obsessions with being skinny. Stop comparing yourself to others and start accepting you. We need to start speaking positively to family and friends about body image. Say no to those being negative about your body and stand up for yourself and others.

You are surviving this lockdown period and that’s all that matters. I am proud of myself for the person I am, and I am proud of you too. You are you, and that is enough for the world, no matter what weight you are.

 

All the love,

 

Queen Clo xx

BEING DIFFERENT: Being Biracial – Maya

Featured, Lifestyle, Mental Health, relationships, Uncategorized

Tell me a bit about yourself:

I’m Maya, I am 21 years old and I have just finished my undergrad in Psychology! As for my next steps I think I am en route into a career in teaching and later educational psychology!

I have a blog which I post on whenever I’m inspired by the world and people around me mayacuthbert.wordpress.com and I am on Instagram @mayacuthbert 🙂

What makes you different?

I am biracial, my mum is white, and my dad is black. Growing up, I felt different to a lot of the people around me, because aside from my brothers and my other biracial friends, there weren’t many biracial role models for me to look up to. I was brought up around my mum’s side of the family, and unfortunately didn’t see much of my dad’s side. My mum raised me to understand that I was going to be treated differently and I’ll always value her for being open and honest about race in the world, and as my friend Bev said, ‘she’s very woke’. She would always try and teach me about my Jamaican heritage as much as she could, be that through cooking traditional dishes, or taking me there- I could never, and will never, fault her for that, and I am so grateful to have had the upbringing I did.

Unfortunately, feeling different lies in the weird discourses there are surrounding being mixed race that you hear coming from other people who are not biracial. It is those discourses that highlight how you can feel different and almost othered by a lot of the people around you, without them even realising that it can impact you.

What is bad about why you are different?

Race was not something that played on my mind a lot whilst growing up. Having grown up in London, and being surrounded by a huge range of cultures, races and ethnicities, it just felt second nature, to have a friendship group where none of us looked the same and where everyone was accepted regardless of the colour of their skin.

I think coming to university has really opened my eyes to the fact that not everywhere is going to be like my school environments, where race is more acknowledged and spoken of. While university is multicultural, there are noticeable groups, in contrast to my school, these groups tend to be race based. My dissertation research confirmed to me that people will typically create friendships with people who share meaningful similarities, and an important similarity is race. I think it is awesome that this happens, because this can really help strengthen things such as racial identity, provide support and mutual understanding, but as a biracial person it can feel hard to fit in.

I’m glad to say that I have found my niche, my friendship group now reminds me of my groups at school, which is great, but initially it was tough. I understand that race is a sensitive subject, so I do hope I don’t cause any controversy, I am just talking about the things I have been through relating to mine- and I hold nothing against anyone.

I think in this day and age, people are really good at applying stereotypes to different races. This is something I have had to face, and it is so apparent to me. To others I have two ‘sides’ (my white ‘side’ and my black ‘side’) people seem to comment on what are actually just aspects of my personality, turn them into racial stereotypes and use them as points of criticism, where I am not allowed to be both black and white, I am always reduced to being either black or white by others. A couple of examples being that on multiple occasions I have been told that I am ‘too white’ because of how I speak, even a past partner had told me that I was too white – something he even considered trying to change within me, or breaking up with me over…I also remember once being told, when I was angry, that that was my ‘black side coming out’.

These comments, and knowing this is how people think about you, can be so damaging to your self-esteem, especially when these comments are from the two groups that make up my heritage (white and black groups), it really muddled up my feelings, and made me feel as though I was not going to fit in anywhere at university because nobody would accept me! It was even more frustrating, because in my mind, I am not either/or, I am a mixture of both and if I were to identify as one ‘side’ or the other I would be dismissing one whole part of me, and that doesn’t feel right.  Those racially stereotyped criticisms really hurt me- because I was being criticised for being who I am. After hearing these things about yourself, you almost start to question who you are… and I’m sure it might sound slightly trivial to some, but I do struggle with those thoughts of like ‘Who am I?’  ‘Where do I sit?’ but most importantly, why do we live in such a modern-day society where people, REGARDLESS of their race, are still implicitly judged based on how they look?

It makes you feel so frustrated because we are supposed to live in a progressive society, but those implicit stereotypes people hold about other races, really highlight how, yes, we may have come so far, but we have clearly not come not far enough.

What is good about why you are different?

I have learnt a lot about identity, race, and society, simply because of the colour of my skin, and my existence being due to the mixture of two cultures. I think this has really helped and will continue to help me manoeuvre through life and make the right decisions about how I go about things such as teaching my own children about who they are.

I love that I have not only one, but two cultures that I get to embrace and learn about, and that I have two places I can call home. I like this idea of duality, where I am more than one thing, and although it can be confusing to manage at times, it is awesome! I am not just black, I am not just white, I am both- ergo, I am mixed, and I love it that way.

I love that, although I occasionally do have those ‘who am I?’ moments, that I can now recognise who I am, what I am here for, and why I should be and love myself, with none of this having anything to do with placing myself within one of societies concrete sorting boxes.

I don’t have to force myself to fit in with any group, I will always find other people with mindsets like mine. I must say I love that about my friendship group, we are a huge mix of races, and yet, we have such open, honest, respectful conversations about race, even when we disagree we don’t argue… we listen, we pull apart our own and each other’s ideas and thoughts and we learn from each other! I wish everyone was like that, because if people could put their differences aside and objectively talk about the issues surrounding race that everyone faces today with such understanding, I’d like to hope that the world could be slightly different.

What is one thing you want someone to take away from this article most?

I saw a quote in a journal article when I was carrying out my dissertation research and it read ‘biracial individuals are both black and white, in a world that only sees black or white’. Obviously, it is important to remember, that there are other mixes that make up a biracial individual, but this quote resonated so well with me. I would love if society could have more open and honest conversations about the reality of race in the society we live in, and that instead of trying to organise everybody into a radicalised box, that we could see each person as their own individual identity, with their own experiences of race and their own ideas and views.

A Note From Clo

Thank you so much to the lovely Maya for this insightful post! As she mentioned at the start she does have her own blog which I highly recommend you checking out! She has been writing some amazing pieces during this lockdown, so it will be a great use of any spare time you have!

The Being Different series will continue again next Thursday at 9pm. As always if you would like to get involved please contact me on instagram at Queen.clo or via the contact me form on here!

As always, stay safe and stay kind!!

All the love,

Queen Clo xx

BEING DIFFERENT: MY DIVORCED PARENTS – MEGAN JENKINS

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Hey, I’m Meg. I am a 20-year-old theatre student and part-time Instagram blogger. (My Instagram is @megrosex). I also have a blog that I am currently in the works of reopening, you can follow it here https://megrosex.wordpress.com . I just want to thank Chloe for giving me this opportunity to be a part of this amazing series, I cannot wait to read everybody’s stories.

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WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT?

Thankfully, I was born into a perfect family. I had a roof over my head, food at the table and the best mum, dad and brother a little girl could ask for. Growing up felt like a dream, from what I can remember anyway. But it wasn’t until I was about 6/7 that I realised things were different in my family. My mum had her own house and my dad had his. Growing up I thought this was the norm. I spent weekdays with my mum, with the acceptation of going to my dad’s on Wednesdays, and every other weekend I swapped between houses. I thought everyone did this, until I started going to friends’ houses, and seeing that their parents lived together. Then I realised, maybe that’s why I was the only kid in the class that got given two letters instead of one. I was confused, upset and uncertain about what was going on and so I started to question my parents. I found out that my parents had divorced when I was 4. I didn’t know what divorced meant at first, I thought it was something to do with me, but after my mum told me, that’s when things got different. I struggled with the idea of my parents not being in love, not being friends’ and not even wanting to talk to one another. At my mums, I would cry because I missed my dad and vice versa. I couldn’t come to terms with it. And then, the stepparents came along. It was nice seeing my parents with new people, but it didn’t feel right at first. I hated it in all honesty, I just wanted my family to be perfect like all my friends’. As the years went on, I struggled with it massively, but it was never something I brought up with my parents because they were happy in their new relationships, I wasn’t going to upset them and make them feel uncomfortable.

I was around 10/11 when the reoccurring nightmares started, it was constant, the arguments, the moving across the world, only being able to see one parent for the rest of my life. The dreams affected how I lived, I become a shy kid who didn’t want to put any feelings or emotions into the world. I hunched into myself, and although I had my friends’ I was the least enjoyable one of the friend group. As I got older and started to understand the world more, I discovered that people fall out of love. Although I know it still affects me to this day, my life wouldn’t be the way it is right now. Sometimes I do sit there and think about what life would be like if my parents were still married.

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WHAT IS BAD ABOUT WHY YOU’RE DIFFERENT?

I guess the worst thing about this is seeing my friends’ parents in love and together. It’s the anniversary’s, the wedding reunions’, the one house and one house only. People often say to me “but you get two birthdays and two Christmas’s I would love that!”. Well you know it’s great if you would love that, but I would much rather my parents still like each other. They can’t even be in a room with each other without the awkward tension. Imagine how my parents’ evenings, birthday parties and performances went. I sometimes wonder whether they’re going to sit on the same table as each other at my wedding, who will hold my children first and although depressing, I do question if they would go to the funeral of whoever passes first. I constantly feel like the middleman, they talk horridly about each other all the time, I don’t think they realise it affects me. It’s hard. Especially during this pandemic.

I came home before lockdown, my mum picked me up from university, I was over the moon I hadn’t seen her since Christmas. But then again, I haven’t seen my dad since Christmas… not knowing when I’m going to see him again is painful. My mum moved out of my home city to be with her new partner. I can’t exactly pop round to see my dad. And my brother, he moved in permanently with my dad about 10 years ago now, I miss him, he is like a best friend to me. In times like this, I want to see both parents. It’s a time we all reflect on the people we have lost over the years. My stepdad and my step mum. Both my parents first love after the divorce. both passed due to medical reasons. And I know they both miss them, but they’ve moved on. They’ve found new people and are happy again. I don’t think they realise it still hurts for me, I felt like I lost my second set of parents. I grew up with them from a young age and loved them both as though they were blood-related.
I don’t want to make this question to depressing but it’s my life, it has always been and always will be.

WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT WHY YOU’RE DIFFERENT?

I am not going to lie to you all, this is probably the hardest question to answer. I grew up fortunate, I had the life some children would dream of. I got two birthdays, two Christmas’s, two holidays a year. Some would call it spoiled but that’s what happens when you live at two different houses, celebrations must go on in each. I have also learnt that everything happens for a reason, and I am thankful for the life I have been given, I have made so many memories and met some amazing people who I will cherish for life. I have stepsisters and stepbrothers, stepparents and step-grandparents. But to answer a few people’s questions, no this doesn’t mean I have two of everything. I usually take things with me from one house to the other. But that’s it. That’s really the only good things that has come out of being different for me. I am 20, knowing what love feels like, knowing what it feels like to get your heartbroken. I know how the world works. Yet there is and will always be something inside of me wishing my parents never got divorced.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT SOMEONE TO TAKE FROM THIS ARTICLE THE MOST?

FullSizeRender.jpegRealise that it is hard for us. Whether it happened years ago or whether it happened recently. A child growing up with divorced parents is still hard. Many times I have had people say to me “at least you had both figures in the home”. Don’t compare your upbringing to mine. I had a moment where a friend who didn’t grow up with a father figure told me I was lucky; told me I am not allowed to be upset about this. It’s wrong. Life affects everyone in different ways. I don’t go telling people with non-divorced parents that they aren’t allowed to talk badly about a parent or talk about their perfect life. Like I said previously, there is a reason for everything. It’s okay to feel down about something that happened so long ago. Regardless of the issue. I just want people to know that they shouldn’t let people bring them down for their emotions. Everyone is different. no one knows your life except you.

 

A Note From Clo

Thank you so much to meg for this piece, it has been super insightful and I am so grateful for you!

Stay tuned next week for another Being Different article, and if you would like to be involved please do contact me!

All the love,

Queen Clo x

Being Different: Partial Deafness

Featured, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Hey guys!

Welcome to the first segment of my new blog series! During the current climate, I think it is so important to be aware of the issues those face around us. So I popped onto my insta and messaged some people to find out about their stories! This collection will be weekly uploaded at 8.30pm every Thursday for as long as I have articles for! If you feel you have a story to tell then please message me on Instagram at Queen.Clo or email me on chloeenquires@gmail.com !

What makes you different?

I had spent 20 years of my life pretty ordinary. However, life changed when I went on holiday to Zante last summer. During a paint party in a club, I got shot in the ear with a paintball gun. At the time I was drunk and apart from some slight ringing in my ear after the event, I felt fine. The next morning I woke up with the most severe earache of my life. As I was in a foreign country I couldn’t access a GP as I would’ve in England, so I popped to the pharmacy who gave me some ear drops. I was in severe pain all day and was struggling to hear out of my left ear. The next day the pain had become even worse with fluid dripping out of my ear, resulting in a trip to the doctors on the strip. These doctors sent me straight to hospital where they found I had a severe inner ear infection and upper respiratory infection. They drained my ear with lots of pink and green paint coming out. I was put on a drip of IV antibiotics and sent home later that evening. The doctors were unsure originally about flying home, but a check on the day of my flight showed my ear infection had decreased slightly. I was allowed to fly home under the guidance that it would be a painful flight.

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Upon arrival, back in England, I took a trip to my GP who told me to continue to take my antibiotics but that the infection seemed to be improving. A few weeks passed by and I could not shake the non-stop ringing from my ear. Several specialist doctor appointments later and I was diagnosed with Tinnitus and High-frequency hearing loss in my left ear. This means that all day, every day I have ringing in my ears. A few more doctors appointments later (with many months passing by) and I was given hearing aid maskers, which help to reduce the effect ringing has on my ear. At a follow-up appointment, it was found that I had the same issues in my right ear which I may have had all my life but never noticed, so now I have hearing aids in both ears. I tend to forget to wear them some days because they’re still a new thing for me, but I am slowly getting used to them.

What is bad about why you are different?

I think the worst thing is that new people cannot always see that I wear hearing aids, and so do not realise that I cannot understand them. In the current pandemic, face masks make life incredibly hard. A lot of the time I will rely on lip-reading to understand what people are saying to me. The face masks are a barrier for sound too, so people talking comes across as a muffle to me. It’s frustrating to have to keep repeating to people that don’t know me that I am partially deaf and can make me feel quite insecure. I worry that people grow tired of me asking them to repeat things and talking to new people can make feel anxious.

People also tend to forget that I struggle to hear so will try to talk to me when I am not looking at them. If you’re talking to me from different angles then I stand no chance of a) knowing you’re talking to me and b) hearing what you are saying. So I tend to have to constantly remind people I cannot hear them. If you ask family and friends they’ll probably tell you that I talk loudly and have to have the television on loud. Both are annoying to other people, but it is not something I can help.

The Tinnitus makes me quite irritable and has an effect that I will not be able to go into deep periods of sleep. I have a box that produces white noise to lower out the ringing. In times of stress or quiet, the ringing becomes louder and is overbearing. I have to try to make my brain not notice the constant hearing that goes on. The best way to explain this feeling to people is if you have ever been to a concert and experienced ringing afterwards, that is a mild form of tinnitus. I have that but constantly, there’s no chance for a break from it and it can be incredibly suffocating.

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What is good about why you are different?

When people are being incredibly annoying or mean I can turn my hearing aids off to ignore them, which is always a pro. If the conversation has grown boring, then there is always an escape route of saying sorry I don’t understand you because I cannot hear.

It has lead me to not take things in life for granted. I have a newfound appreciation for my other sense and it has allowed me to see the positives in situations. For although in Zante I lost my hearing, I still had an incredible time with friends. The support my friends and family have given me over the last 10 months has been incredible. They have had to make changes to help me, in group situations my friends have been making sure I do not get lost and have not grown tired when I have needed them to repeat things. It has taught me that every bad situation always has a positive.

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What is one thing you want someone to take away from this article the most?

I am trying my best to adapt to the changes life has thrown at me, so I want people to know they need to be patient of me. That life isn’t easy for everyone and simple tasks can be harder when you cannot hear.

Thanks for reading!!

All the love,

Queen Clo

Sexual Assault at Universities: let’s start the conversation.

Uncategorized

I paid £9,250 a year to go to university to LEARN. A considerable amount of money to live and socialise in an environment which is unfortunately unsafe to many. Over my three years at university, it has become the social norm at universities for someone to have their bum squeezed on night out. It’s a censored topic quite often worldwide that shouldn’t be censored.  It’s uncomfortable because it happens regularly and so many people have adapted it as a normal behaviour so we become desensitised to it. For instance a bum squeeze we don’t necessarily associate things with sexual assault. Sexual assault isn’t just rape, it comes in many different forms and we should not stand for any of it.

The official definition of sexual assault is:  ‘Sexual assault is when a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or when a person, male or female, touches another person sexually without their consent. Touching can be done with any part of the body or with an object. Sexual penetration is when a person (male or female) penetrates the vagina or anus of another person with any part of their body or an object without that person’s consent.’

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It is about time that universities and student’s union step up to support their students. There needs to be a development of how students can report assault when it happens and the further support they receive. I have spoken to students who have dropped out of their institutions following sexual assault and have been neglected by their universities. Some had even communicated that they were made to still live in their room that the assault happened because they did not want to press charges to the police. Earlier this year my best friend and I had enough of sexual assault being the normal around us. We put flyers around the university and kept an anonymous campaign. The posters featured emojis of the peach and the aubergine. While the response was mainly positive from the student body and it started many conversations, there was still a negative reaction. That it was unkind of the starter to have chosen such emojis. Instead of people developing conversations about making a change they picked faults in the posters. Picking faults in the posters are easier to do than to actually comprehend that there is a real issue at hand.

It’s a sad world we live in where we still will blame the victims of sexual assault. The movement like MeToo has allowed communication to start but now it’s time for real change amongst student bodies. There needs to be awareness spread. After starting our campaign, I felt very supported by our student body. The Instagram we created gained 1500 views in the first week, had over 300 followers and 100s of shares on people’s stories (including staff members!) We then realised working together with our university would allow real change to be created, we suggested many ideas to our university, but they seemed to be ignored. What turned into what we thought was the university working alongside us, was actually tarnished when they then took down our posters and threw them in the bin. We had spent considerable time and money making these posters for them to have been torn down to protect the universities image.

Still to this day I do not know who to go to at my university if I have been assaulted. However, it is important to remember to communicate with someone. You are not alone and there are many people around you that want to support you. You have a right to feel safe at university. Sometimes it is scary to get the police involved and this leads people to be lost with who to turn to. If you are sexually assaulted and need some advice immediately this website linked is a good place to go. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sexual-health/help-after-rape-and-sexual-assault/

We tend to forget in these situations that there is usually a third party, a bystander. If you’re a bystander, please remember you can use your voice to protect others and check if the party involved is okay. See something, say something. We need to work together to support each other, whether you know the person who was assaulted or not, be there to help them. I hope that universities become a safer environment and that we all begin to support the safety of one another.

Students should feel confident and comfortable that their university will support them in these situations. I hope that universities around the country and world begin to step up their support. It’s time we allow all voices to be heard and protected. Remember to tell someone and know that you are not alone.

We’re starting the conversation. We are here to raise awareness and educate the students so that we can create a safer university. It is now time for you and your universities to take ACTION.

The Perfectionist killed her brain… (and how she began to save it)

Featured, Lifestyle, Mental Health

I lead a life that is filled with a lot of expectations. Expectations that I push on myself. My whole life my parents have always told me that my best is good enough for them, but my best seems to never be good enough for myself. While it seems unlikely to people around me, I am low key a perfectionist. A lot of the times my perfectionism is what leads me to my failure. I want every situation in my life to be perfect and when I feel like it’s not going to happen, I sometimes will quite literally RUN from situations. If I don’t run, I self-sabotage or tell others I don’t care. It’s a weird defence mechanism I’ve picked up. Where if I tell others, I don’t care enough then in turn maybe I truly won’t care enough. If I know something isn’t going to be how I pictured it, I’ll just pretend I don’t give a shit. Not only do I set bars high for myself, but I also set bars high for how I think others are going to treat me. The bar that I set for others means it makes me constantly unhappy and filled with loneliness mixed with disappointmentIMG_2467

An example is, I’ve had shitty friends in the past and so when it comes to birthdays, I always plan something big, but then when people bail, and plans go to shit I pretend I don’t give a shit about my birthday. It’s a big lie. I love birthdays! I think birthdays are a day you truly should feel so loved, but some of my recent ones have been filled with more heartbreak than love. Last year I was quite literally bricking it for my birthday. I planned different things for home and for my other friends, but it scared me how easily others will ruin the perfect birthday I’ve created in my head. Despite some hiccups, I had an incredible birth fortnight and made memories that will last forever. It leads me to wonder why I crave perfection. I know nothing in life is perfect but it’s so hard when everyone around me seems to lead these perfect lives.

I think I write about love a lot on my blog, and this is one area of my life that scares me. I don’t have love from a guy, I haven’t for a very long time, and it scares me that I may never find the perfect guy for me. What if I’ll spend the rest of my life craving guys who won’t want me and never fulfil the perfect life I’ve created in my head. I go for guys I can’t have because it hurts less when they are not the perfect person for me, it’s like I allow myself to pre-hurt, before they actually hurt me. I have an intense fear of abandonment., I have lost a lot of guys I have dated, but I’ve lost a lot more friends. This leads me to be fearful of relationship because I think that no one will stay due to me being imperfect. If I have a crush on a guy, I become obsessed with how I look because I fear if I don’t look perfect then they won’t want me. I like to push guys I care about away in fear they’ll see the perfect exterior I show to them is a lie. It scares me that all my friends are dating guys and girls that seem truly perfect for them. While I know they all have their ups and downs in relationships, it makes me feel like a failure. I can’t seem to get a guy interested in me long enough to want me, and so sometimes I’ll kill relationships before it arises in fear they won’t be perfect. Sometimes it feels like I am truly alone in the world and I’ll be perfect for no one.


I set unreal expectations on myself on how to be a perfect friend, which leads me to burn myself out quite easily. I have had many friends come and go in my life. Situations that some I couldn’t control and some I could. Which means I tried my best to do everything for everyone and then worry when I don’t succeed in the million tasks, I’ve given myself. Truth is no friend is perfect: everyone ends up saying a bitchy comment about a friend or bailing on plans. It doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. Sometimes we expect too much from our friends because we’d do everything for them, but that’s an unfair mindset for both parties. You’ll lead yourself into a lot of heartbreak if you expect everyone to have the same heart as you. I’ve learnt instead of trying to be a perfect friend, to just be me. To be there and to care but to not put pressure on me. When a friendship does end, I’ve learnt instead of being hurt, to take it as a learning curve and know that I still have many other incredible friends who love and support me.

Why am I writing this you may be wondering? Well, when I started writing this, I was sat on a plane on the way home from my first girls’ holiday. I booked this holiday about 11 months ago and during those 11 months I hyped it up into a holiday it could never have been. I thought the holiday would cure some of the sadness that has haunted me the last university year, I always feel happiest in the sun and just wanted the sun to cure me. While I had some amazing times on the holiday, the down days had been bad. I got taken into hospital after having a very bad inner ear and respiratory infection, which has now resulted in me having double hearing aids. It crushed me because the ‘perfect’ holiday had slipped away, and I felt like it was my fault. I couldn’t have factored in that I’d get sick, but it made me regret the earlier nights that I’d came home early from nights out in the week instead of staying out partying with my friends. I kept telling myself I had plenty of nights to get super drunks but putting them off lead me to miss them. I don’t know what I was expecting from this holiday and I don’t think it would’ve ever been perfect, but I can’t help the feeling of failure. That I somehow failed myself and ruined a holiday. Don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed some parts of the holiday but I’m also sad that the things I looked forward to most were not what I expected.

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Now you may be reading this and thinking ‘ah but if you’re a perfectionist you JUST want to do a good job at everything, so what’s the harm in the issue?’ The issue is whatever job I do will never be good enough for myself because there are always ways it could have been more perfect. Maybe I could’ve taken less time to complete it, maybe there are more aspects I could change to make it perfect. There’s always a maybe that could make the situations ‘better’. Meaning my best will never be good enough… Any feelings that come with accomplishment are sabotaged by my brain telling me that things could’ve and should’ve been done better.

So I decided to find out about how to stop letting my perfectionist habits kill my brain and this below is what I learnt:

One thing I noted was that I say ‘should’ a lot. Should is a horrible word that adds too much pressure on us. Like I should have a boyfriend now, I should be happier, I should have a better grade, I SHOULD be better. Truth is I shouldn’t be anything than who I am right now. Instead of dreaming my life away with unreal expectations I need to be accepting all that happens currently and be grateful for it. This last few months I began to remove the word should from my vocabulary, and it has allowed me to live in the moment more.

Next, quit comparing ourselves to everyone else. Nobody on this planet leads a perfect life and everyone is facing their battles. Some people I thought lived the best lives, actually were struggling just as much as I was. Stop comparing your behind the scenes to people’s edited and perfect life they show online. News flash: very few will share the bad parts of their life on the internet. I share some of mine, but I don’t share the nitty-gritty, simply because I don’t think that’s what people need to know about me. I’m a sucker for thinking that just because someone looks better than me in their no-makeup selfie means they lead a better life than me. They don’t. Your self worth is worth more than other people’s social media lives. If you’re struggling, in particular, with comparing, take a social media break. Sometimes I’ll take a week from Instagram and I have seen how much better I feel in myself. Social media has ruined some of our generations, I am telling you now the pictures on my Instagram are not how I look every day. I will take between 20 and 100 shots to get the ‘perfect’ Instagram images. The pictures I post I will scrutinise myself because I don’t think it is good enough for my followers to see. Truth be told none of you cares if I look a little chunky or if my pose is ‘awkward’, but the worry that I am not posting the perfect feed did lead me to be stressed. Now, while I’ll still take many shots, I post photos that I like of myself, even if they aren’t Instagram Perfection. Just remember as you scroll through the feed tonight that people will have spent hours on that photo, even their ‘woke up like this’ selfie.

Change your stance on your expectation. This is hard because if you’re anything like me you’ll give yourself incredibly high standards for what you want from life. This leads us to kill our self-worth when we (or others) don’t get to them. Instead of having our expectations as absolute goals, make them a guide. So that means if you don’t reach it there is less disappointment. If there a goal, just because you haven’t got to it today, doesn’t mean you won’t achieve it in the future either. The only true absolute goal is to prioritise self-love and continue to grow to be the best version of yourself.

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Fight the inner voice that makes you question your achievements. Just know that what you have achieved now is the best you could have done in this state you’re in. I used to think for so long that when people said just do your best, that it meant the highest grade, but doing your best actually means do as well as you can in this situation. I got an A in my GCSE maths exam, which was my best then, if I resat it now I would 100% get a better grade, but that is because I have 5 more years of maths knowledge since then. Justify your actions to yourself by reminding yourself that whatever you’ve achieved is amazing and is one step closer to something even better. When I didn’t get the GCSE results I wanted no-one is going to ask me about them once I finish university this year. Lose the thought of you can always do better and replace it with thinking the things you have achieved currently are incredible.

Learn to say the word ‘No’. ‘No’ scares me and I’m not sure why. However, saying yes to every situation leads me to do an average job for everyone, instead of a good job for select jobs. Remember when saying no you do not need to justify yourself afterwards.

I guess this was a lot of rambling but what’s new on my blog. This next year I want to learn to accept the events of life for what they are and stop overthinking them. Which is going to be harder than I’ve made out it to be. I’m going to learn that perfection isn’t going to ever happen and that I should roll with what happens. I can’t change the way people treat me or how life treats me but what I can change is how I approach situations. I can change the craving of perfection and instead crave situations to bring me some happiness. After all, happiness is far more important than a ‘perfect’ life.

All the love always,

Queen Clo x

 

 

 

A letter to those who are strong but struggling

Featured, Uncategorized

The mind can be a scary place to live in, it tells us every day that we have to be strong. That we have to keep fighting. It tricks us into thinking we shouldn’t be weak. It tricks us into wanting to fight our battles alone. In reality, fighting our battles alone is a sign of weakness. Life can be tricky and it is okay not to be okay. It is okay to put up a front, so others don’t worry if that will get you through the day, but it is not okay to do this permanently and avoid our problems. Avoiding our issues makes us feel a lot worse about ourselves.

I think a big thing to remember when suffering from anxious thoughts while also being a strong person is remembering that life won’t always be this scary. Just because things are scary doesn’t mean you aren’t strong either. I remember for so long that random little things scared the crap out of me. With the right support and kind of a fake it till you make it attitude I managed to pull through. Trust me losing anxious thoughts was not an overnight process and it took a lot of work, but I got there eventually. I still have bad days and I still struggle to do the simplest things some days. But it’s fighting through the anxious thoughts and remembering you are in control. When your anxiety makes you freak out and tells you the whole world is a scary place, remember it is scary but you are capable of creating solutions. You are capable of breaking through and one day you will be free of your thoughts.

To the one who is strong but is absolutely petrified of never finding love. I feel ya. In my whole life, I have had one boyfriend and let me tell you, it was a disaster. Dating is horrid and quite frankly I am scared I’ll be alone forever. If someone asks me how dating is going I will 100% joke and say that I love being single because that’s the strong girl inside of me pretending I don’t care. While I love some areas of being single, I also hate it. I hate the feeling that I am going to die alone and that I am undesirable. In my heart, I know that when the right person comes along I’ll be everything for them, but it is still hard to pretend the setbacks don’t hurt. People will come and love you, then leave as if nothing happened. It kills you but you have to keep your strength. People nowadays don’t seem to stay around, they just flirt, let you catch feelings and then leave. You have to use your strength as power and move through every ending. I know as a strong person I wear my heart on my sleeve but it does sometimes mean I break my own heart. I break my heart by imaging what could be, and they have no idea. No idea how deeply I care for them. I guess it’s learning to let others in, no matter how strong you are it is important to communicate your feelings and not be scared of the consequences. On the same note, I went through a stage of dating people for the sake of it to try to mask the feeling of being alone, and it was the worst thing ever. In the end, I felt even more hopeless at love and felt broken. So if you’re dating for the sake of it, it’s truly not worth it. You will find the right person but it will take time. Keep your standards high and keep loving yourself while you wait.

I sometimes feel like I don’t belong. For example sometimes when at work I feel like an outsider. That everyone around me is best friends and I’m just there. I sometimes feel that I’m disliked and while I know this isn’t the case, it’s hard to let that escape my mind. If you feel like an outsider too, remember that you are placed in places for a reason. You have a purpose and while sometimes it may be hard to see why to know that there is some reason you are there. If you keep focusing on not feeling you should be there, you miss out on the enjoyment of being in the place. I find work can be hell sometimes but really there are many small giggles and friendliness that I feel along with every shift. It’s remembering that although sometimes I don’t feel like I fit in, that a lot of people in the store probably don’t either and that there are still opportunities to form friendships with others to feel like I do. For my whole life I have never ever fitted in and to be honest I always thought of it as my weakness. In reality, the fact I never fit in is my strength. Don’t force yourself to fit the social norms, you being different may feel like the worst thing in the world but really it’s what makes you loveable.

If you’re someone who does everything for everyone else and wonders why no one does anything in return. Pause what you’re doing and reevaluate. Reevaluate whether you do these task for others for your own happiness or because you feel you have to. Sometimes when you decide to be strong you put others feels before yourself. It’s time to prioritise yourself. Take a breath and remember that while it’s okay to do things for others, you shouldn’t feel you have to. Learn that it’s okay to put yourself first for a change and you deserve all the love that you willingly give to others.

I think it’s so hard to try to be strong all the time and while sometimes your strength may be an act, soon it won’t be. Soon you will realise that you don’t break as much as you used to, that you don’t cry about the small things and that life is getting on track. Eventually, you will see these issues as learning curves and not the disasters they feel like right now. The scars you have will remind you that you fought bravely and you have (and will) always be strong. But remember that showing your sadness is no form of weakness and it is always okay to ask for help.

Each and every day is a new day to bloom, we grow and we learn for all the experiences we face. While you may be struggling right now, life will get better and as cliche, as it is you just have to hang in there. You are strong and keep going! Remember my Instagram is always a place to talk if you are feeling alone.

All my love always,

Queen Clo xxx

Love Island IS NOT Reality

Lifestyle, Mental Health

I am the biggest optimist who loves LOVE. So, I immediately fell in love with love island. There are many things that I’m not too keen on though…

When I first started watching love island a few years back I was in a poor mental health state, and really disliked my body. In magazines there were nothing like me and I could get over that because magazines were full of celebrities. However, a villa full of ‘normal’ people broke my self-esteem a little because I didn’t look like the normal person ‘should’. I have stood at a size 18/20 for a long time, partly cause I’m chunky but partly because I’m very tall too. When looking at love island there is no one who is as chunky as I am, they were all very pretty petite women which I couldn’t relate to. I read recently that love island bosses said the reason there was no bigger girls is that they want people to fancy each other… I as a big girl can assure you while I am still single, I have had many people fancy me regardless of my size.

Here’s me in a bikini last year in Florida. For so long shows like love island made me think my body was not a bikini body. Adverts on trains even showed me I could lose weight to gain the perfect bikini body. In reality, we all have a body, and we can all wear a bikini, therefore news flash we have bikini bodies. So while mine may not be what the love island bosses find attractive to look at, I know I’m proud of it. So, you know what, fuck you love island bosses for thinking that boys on the show wouldn’t fancy me. Remember, body confidence is embracing your body and not changing it to meet other people’s standards of beauty. There is no perfect body.

I hate that the world thinks it’s okay to scrutinise people on how they look and act on the show, we forget it is edited to manipulate what we think of the people, and we fall straight into the bosses hands. It’s important to remember that these are real people and when they come out they can see all your mean comments. So just remember if it isn’t kind it’s not worth tweeting, your few favourites, and retweets are not worth destroying someone else’s self-esteem. While you may say well they put themselves up to this by signing up to the show, you’re wrong. They sign up for fun (and maybe to get a little famous), they don’t sign up to be bullied. Let’s remember the tragic deaths of previous love islanders due to depression and anxiety, we never know what is going on inside someone else’s life, so remember always be kind. Also when we are unkind about the way people on the show look, it proves the love island bosses right and will push them further away from added real bodies to the show.

Some days, I feel so single, but it’s important to remember that love is hard to find. The people on the show seem to fall in love in under a day which in the real world is very unlikely (but not impossible). In the real world we don’t spend every hour of every breathing day with a guy or a girl we think is fit. So while you may think it’s taking ages to get the one, know it’s normal for love to take time. I have been single for pretty much my whole life and sometimes there feels like there is a pressure to be in love. It’s taken me a long time to accept there is nothing wrong with me for being single. Sometimes hard to understand that it’s okay to be single, but know while you’re waiting and enjoying life the right person will come!

Let’s enjoy this season and all it has to entail. Let’s hope for more ‘bevvy’ boys and girls, and that maybe, just maybe it may become more inclusive!

All my love,

Queen Clo xx

Positivity Scrapbook

Mental Health

A few months ago I was sat in my friend Kirsty’s room, she was scrapbooking for her degree and I was lying on the floor with nothing to do. It hit me then that I did not have any real hobbies, and so thats when I decided, I take soooo many photos but never do anything with them. So I copied Kirsty’s degree coursework and started my very own scrapbook. When I spoke to my therapist she suggested that I make a ‘positivity scrapbook’ and include quotes to make the pages feel more comforting during sad times. I got my friends to pick quotes and I also picked some that I loved.

I think it is very important to capture as many moments as I can,  I enjoy photographing my friends and I enjoy looking over photos of happier times. I like to take photos on my phone and on my camera. For scrapbooking it is quite important that the photo has a high quality so it does not print blurry, sadly your phone just doesn’t get the quality that cameras do. My favourite type of cameras are Mirrorless Cameras, I am currently dreaming over this Panasonic Mirrorless Cameras.

A key section in my scrapbook is my freshers pages, a time I experienced some real highs and lows, you can read all about them here . The cutest page of this section has to be my school disco one, purely because I loved the outfit I wore and my lovely friend Meg helped make the title look super cute.

Photos are important to me because they capture moments that I want to remember forever. One of my favourite sections of my scrapbook has to be my Christmas time pages, I wrote about the photos in more detail here, but below is my favourite December double spread page! Firstly my Christmas Eve night out, we made our costumes just before the social (a hot glue gun may have been up there with the top purchase of 2018) and has to have been one of my favourite nights out of the year. Secondly, is my Edinburgh double spread. I visit Edinburgh every other year to visit family, but have never been at Christmas time. It was filled with the cutest markets and Christmas lights, which really put me into the Christmas spirit (a spirit hard to be in as a retail worker). I didn’t realise I could fall so in love with a city, but Edinburgh will forever have my heart. Who knows, maybe one day I will live there…

This scrapbook is almost finished and on bad days it is helpful to flick through and remember happier times. I can gurantee I will continue to scrapbook as it brings me a lot of joy. I even have my own little craft box now, filled with everything from lollipop sticks to tissue paper. It has been one of the greatest hobbies I have ever picked up.

Here are some more of my favourite pages or cutest pages:

I am vain so have some of my favourite photos of myself in opps😉

Was ironically very difficult to photograph the scrapbook pages!

All the love,

Queen Clo xxx