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!

 

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