January Playlist

Here are the songs I listened to most in January. Find monthly playlists from me on Spotify

Crash – All Tvvins

Released as a single in 2017.

Favourite lyrics: ‘There’s no right or wrong. How can there be when it’s the side you were born on is the side you are for?’

Synthy, ethereal and emotive.

Wilson (Expensive Mistakes) – Fall Out Boy

Record – M A N I A.

Favourite lyrics: ‘I hope the roof flies off and I get blown out into space.
I always make such expensive mistakes.’

A throwback to emo Fall out boy; at times both soulful and melodramatic while still keeping the pop punk tone that FOB are known for.

Bear Claws – The Academic

Record – Tales From The Backseat

Favourite lyrics: ‘Show me all your flaws, show me your bear claws. Go rip your heart out tonight’.

Indie pop with a chorus that makes it perfect for live shows. Check out the Facebook Live Loop version of this!

Run – Foo Fighters

Record: Concrete and Gold

Favourite Lyrics: ‘In another perfect life, in another perfect light, we run.’

From a mellow opening to thrashing guitar & Grohl’s screaming vocals, this is a Foo’s classic.

Trees – Twenty One Pilots

Record: Vessel

Favourite Lyrics: ‘I want to know you, I want to see, I want to say hello.’

Synthy with yearning vocals to begin with before building to a frantic climax that always gets the crowd shouting along at live shows.

(Performance starts at 1:38)

 

 

What have you been listening to this month? Let me know in the comments!

 

How I Care For Myself In Crisis

Crisis situations aren’t very common for me these days but once upon a time this was a regular occurrence. The most important thing I learned during that time is that I need a plan, I need to know what to do when crisis does strike. These are the things I do to try get back to myself during those times.

Tell someone – when shit has hit the fan, when Anxiety Brain is in control the worst thing I can do is keep it to myself. Sometimes, having someone who can think logically in that moment, on my side is enough and even when it’s not at least someone knows and can keep an eye on me.

Listen to something that calms me down – I like music whether I’m in crisis or not and I listen to music every day but there are particular songs that are helpful when I’m in crisis. A lot of these are from the record Vessel by Twenty One Pilots such as Trees, Holding on to You and Car Radio.

stepphhsays-holding-on-to-you-twenty-one-pilots

Remind myself that I will be back in control eventually – If I am in crisis Anxiety Brain is in control, not me. There are several phrases I repeat to myself to remind myself that I will be in control again: ‘This feeling won’t last forever’, ‘I own this’, etc. After all, no matter how bad it’s gotten in the past I made it through, I am proof that it will end eventually.

Attempt to watch tv or read a book – Something light and fluffy here, no horrors or thrillers. This is an attempt at distraction. I might read the same page twelve times or watch an entire show without being very aware of what just happened in it but it doesn’t matter. The goal here is to get out of my head for a bit, to break the cycle of unhelpful thoughts. 

Tell someone! – This is important enough to be stated twice. For me this really is the best thing I can do and if I can’t find someone I can speak to IRL then I’ll head online to find a friend or a community to talk to and help me feel less alone. As far as the internet goes, I’ve found Reddit, Instagram and Twitter to be the best places to find support and like minded people at any time of the day or night but be careful with the amount of personal information you share!

What not to do:

For me there are a couple of things that definitely don’t help when I’m in crisis – not telling someone, being entirely alone, forcing myself to do something that is causing me major anxiety at that particular moment, drinking alcohol, staying up all night. For me, these things will make my anxiety worse and it’s just as important to be able to recognise that, as it is to be able to recognise the things that help.

How do you deal with crisis? Do you have any tips or things that are best avoided? Let me know!

Need help? Want information? Click here

5 Books That Changed My Life

I’m a self confessed book nerd. I read every day and I read anything. It felt like Christmas when I found Kindle Unlimited!

Here are 5 books that changed my life!

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling – Ok, not technically one book but it’s my list and I’ll do what I want! I think most of us know the Potter story at this stage and many of us fell in love with it through JK’s books. She created such a vibrant, magical world full of complex characters and creatures that I couldn’t help but want to be part of it. I was totally enthralled with this series and I’m so grateful that my mam would go with me to order first editions and queue for every release. What really stayed with me from this series were the lessons about love, loss, friendship and hope. 

 

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – I first read this as a teenager when I was really struggling with depression and anxiety. A dear friend, at the time, had read it and thought I would appreciate it so she loaned it to me and I’m so grateful that she did. This book struck a chord right away. I could relate to Charlie in so many ways and as a result felt a little less alone during a time where that couldn’t have been more important. The format of this book appealed to me, it was the first book that I read that was written entirely as letters to an unknown recipient. Perks is a book about abuse, friendship, and not being okay. I go back to this one time and time again and I can’t recommend it enough.

stepphhsays-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-quote

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – Ah, the story of Catherine and Heathcliffe, a classic! A classic that I’ve never finished because I get bored after a few pages. You might be wondering how this changed my life when I’ve just said I’ve never read the majority of it. You see, up until this point I always finished a book, it didn’t matter if I wasn’t enjoying it, I was so stubborn that I had to finish it. This is the one that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Life is just too short!

 

The Tale Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – The Peter Rabbit & Friends collection was gifted to me shortly after I learned how to read. They are the first books I can remember reading by myself. I adored Peter Rabbit and his mischievous ways! I don’t know how I didn’t lose any of these because I brought them everywhere. I still have the cardboard box that these came in, though after two decades it’s well worn and held together with tape! Peter Rabbit inspired a lifetime of reading.

 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I read this as part of English Junior Cert and I was totally engrossed. I actually read it before school started that year and I still have that same copy. This was the first book that really made me think about racial inequality. It wasn’t something I had consciously given thought to before then and now I understand that I was very privileged to be in that position. Even though this book was published in 1960 it opened my eyes to the race issues that we are unfortunately still dealing with now.

stepphhsays-to-kill-a-mockingbird-quote

Are you a fellow BookNerd? What books have stayed with you or taught you something?

Mental Health or Mental Illness

​Are mental illnesses real? Is there a difference between mental health and mental illness? Does it have to be one or the other? Do we ‘suffer’ with mental health?

I’ve seen some discussion around this in recent months and I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit. There seem to be two main views when it comes to this argument. The first is that mental illness doesn’t actually exist but rather we’re all on a spectrum of mental health throughout our lives and should be treated as such. The second view that I’ve seen quite a lot of is that mental illness is very real, it should be treated with medication and if other people are saying they are having difficulties without a diagnoses they are being dramatic/they need to just get on with things/they should just man up.

I can only ever speak from the point of view as a service user, patient and someone with an interest in mental health so please don’t take my view as gospel, it’s just my personal opinion. I don’t fall in to either of the above camps. However, I think they both have some valid points. I agree that we are all on a spectrum of mental health but I think that mental illness is very much part of that spectrum and I agree that medication is often needed to treat mental illness but I don’t think it should be the only treatment.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding conversation about mental health and illness. We’ve gotten much better at speaking in statistics but we’re not so great at talking about the reality of either. Often times those who are struggling will carry that in silence for many reasons – fear of being treated differently, fear of a label, shame that they’re not doing better, etc. I think if we were more open to the idea of mental health as a spectrum this wouldn’t be such a big issue.

Here’s the thing – WE ALL HAVE MENTAL HEALTH. 

we-all-have-mental-health

We all have mental health and we all have it for the entirety of our lives, not just when times are difficult. I often hear people saying ‘I suffer with mental health’, is that the right way to phrase that? If we’re always saying we’re ‘suffering’ with mental health then mental health becomes something negative. It may seem like a trivial thing but when that’s all we’re seeing it becomes ingrained and before anyone has realised we’ve subconsciously associated mental health with something ‘bad’. 

I try to stay away from saying that I am ‘suffering with mental health.’ I chat will simply say that I’m not well in the exact same at that I would if I had a cough or cold. A majority of the time the person I’m conversing with will ask me in what way I feel unwell and I have no problem telling them ‘I’ve been feeling down lately/I’m really burnt out/I’m overwhelmed with anxiety right now.’ Was it a bit odd to answer so plainly initially? You bet it was! There were a couple of times that the person I was speaking to seemed taken aback and maybe a little unsure about how they should respond but now it’s become normal for myself, my friends & my family. It’s important to challenge the way we speak about mental health and illness. Now, we speak about mental health in the same way we speak about physical health. It’s the equivalent of saying ‘I have a headache’. 

And that makes much more sense, right?

Mental health is not something that is inherently bad or good, it simply is. We all have physical health that is on a spectrum and we do things to take care of it – go for check ups, eat well, exercise. We all have mental health, shouldn’t we treat it in the same way? The reality is that the majority of us don’t, we ignore it until there is a crisis.

Maybe if we had a shift in attitude towards our mental health we would then treat mental illness and crisis differently? Mental illnesses are very real and they need treatment just like any other illness needs treatment. To say that mental illnesses don’t exist undermines the work of thousands. It takes away the relief felt by a patient when they finally get a diagnoses and treatment plan. Maybe if we treated mental health like physical health we would view a person with depression/anxiety/bipolar/etc in the same way we view a person with cancer/epilepsy/heart disease – with empathy and compassion, not fear, judgement and mistrust.

To me, it seems like we need to overhaul our attitudes. We need to recognise that everyone goes through tough times, that they may need emotional support but not necessarily require medication. We need to see that a majority of these people will not receive a clinical diagnoses but that doesn’t invalidate their experience. We also need to recognise that some people do have an illness, that they will receive a clinical diagnoses, that they need a treatment plan that is right for them and their experience is valid too.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

What are your thoughts? Do you think mental illnesses are real? Do you think mental health is a spectrum? Do you ltreat your mental health in the same way as your physical health? 

*World Health Organisation 

Need help? Want information? Click here

5 ways I practice self-care

Note: There is a difference between self care and caring for yourself in crisis. Personally, self care is all the things I do when I’m well to help keep me that way. They’re particularly helpful when I am having a bad day, I’m in a bad mood, I’m tired, etc. They are not the same as care in times of crisis and should never replace that care. If you need medication and therapy to help you cope with a mental health/emotional difficulty you should absolutely continue with those.

Last year ‘self-care’ became a bit of a buzzword, almost a trend but that doesn’t mean it should be brushed aside as something trivial. Looking after yourself is important so here are five ways that I practice self-care…
1. Reading – Firstly, I’m a nerd. I love to learn new things, it makes me happy. For some people active learning ends with school or college. For others it’s a lifelong persuit. I read to learn new things. I also read simply for pleasure, to escape in to a new world of live as someone else for a while! *An added benefit to reading is a book club and the community they bring either IRL or online – if you’re looking for an online group try the Rick O’Shea Book Club on Facebook, it’s full of lovely welcoming people who are always up for a chat and Rick hosts RSBC events around the country throughout the year too!
2. Spending time with loved ones – An hour spent watching Designated Survivor with my mam, a trip to Lidl with my dad for whatever gadget he’s spotted in the catalogue, meeting  a friend for a coffee and a catch up, going for dinner with my boyfriend. I can’t stress the  importance of this enough. To be surrounded by love & to give that back, to know that there are people who care about me and to spend time doing something I enjoy with people whose company I enjoy is so cathartic.
3. Spending time alone – On the flipside, I need time alone. As much as I love being with those I love, I also need time to recharge by myself. I’ve mentioned before that I am introverted and I think this would be the case even if I didn’t have social anxiety disorder. I need time to do nothing and I try to make sure that I get that time!
4. Having a bath – My favourite way to relax! Sometimes I combine this with 1 and read while I’m in there! No distractions, just chilling out. I like my water a little too hot, my bubbles mountainous and my fingers and toes resembling prunes by the time I get out! Bonus points if someone else thinks to run a bath for me or gifts me any kind of bath products. A million things from Lush are on my wish list, along with a bath tray!
5. Cuddles with my dog – For several years we had a revolving door of strays that my sister would bring home for a few weeks until a new home was found. Once my sister moved out the dogs stopped and I spent years trying to convince my parents to let me have one of my own. It took until I was 19 but they eventually caved! We went to Dogs Trust where there were loads of beautiful dogs looking for forever homes.

The dog we came home with is a Collie crossed with, well, something? He’s been an absolute joy. He never fails to put a smile on my face with his antics. He’s cheeky, he likes his comfort and he rests his head in my lap when he wants something. He’s perfect. 

Meet Dobby.

stepphhsays-dobby

Why do you do to look after yourself? Share your tips, you might help someone out!

Mental Health & Illness Charities/Support – Ireland & UK

Need help? Want more information?

The following are Irish Mental Health or Illness charities/support services.

Don’t be afraid to contact someone or do some research – it’s why they’re there.

IRELAND

Mental Health Ireland – ‘MHI’s aim is to promote positive mental health and wellbeing to all individuals and communities in Ireland.’ A fantastic site for information, MHI even provide training to the public. MHI have Mental Health Associations around the country that you can contact for info or volunteer with.

Aware – ‘Aware undertakes to create a society where people affected by stress, depression, bipolar and mood disorders are understood, supported, free from stigma, and are encouraged to access appropriate therapies.’ Aware’s services include Support Mail, Support Groups & Support Line as well as online courses, group education and school based courses. All of these services are free.

Samaritans – ‘We offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you. You don’t have to be suicidal.’  Samaritans offers a phone support line for anyone who needs to talk. This a non judgmental space, the volunteer you speak to won’t impose their beliefs on you and they’re available every day, no matter the time.

Jigsaw – ‘The National Centre for Youth Mental Health. There to ensure that no young person (age 12-25) feels alone, isolated and disconnected from others around them’ Jigsaw has ‘hubs’ or drop in centres around the country. Here, young people can access support from trained staff, short term counselling, advice and information about other support services that may be of help to them. To find your local centre click the link!

Your Mental Health – ‘YourMentalHealth.ie is a place to learn about mental health in Ireland, and how to support yourself and the people you love.’ This HSE website provides a list of services, real life stories and a wealth of information. Your Mental Health are the folks behind the prominent #littlethings campaign.

See Change – ‘See Change is Ireland’s national programme working to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland…working to create a disruptive, community driven social movement to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems.’ See Change brings together 70+ organisations to work towards a common goal. On the site you’ll find sections the Green Ribbon Campaign, blogs from See Change Ambassadors and Mental Health in the workplace and lots more.

Pieta House – ‘We support people and communities in crisis by providing freely accessible, professional services to all.’ Pieta House have 12 centres around the country where service users can access support for issues around suicide and self harm. A doctor referral is not needed and the service is free. There is also a Freephone helpline and text service available. Pieta House are the folks behind ‘Darkness Into Light’ one of Ireland’s biggest mental health fundraisers that takes place every year.

A Lust For Life ‘A Lust For Life is…an Irish wellbeing movement created to transform how we talk about and treat mental health.’ ALFL aims to get us talking about our mental health and encourages mental fitness. This site is great for tips, articles and research around both mental and physical health. ALFL along with Pieta House are the folks behind #SoundEffect & The Little Book Of Sound.

UK

Centre For Mental Health – ‘We change the lives of people with mental health problems by using research to bring about better services and fairer policies.’  A fantastic site for information.

Mental Health Foundation – ‘Dedicated to finding and addressing the sources of mental health problems.’  Lots of information presented in a very user friendly way, clear guides and explanations.

Together‘We believe that people experiencing mental distress can direct their own journey towards improved mental health and to living independent, fulfilling lives. Our role is to give people the tools and the support to achieve this.’ Here you’ll find community, acommodation and criminal justice support along with along with research & guides.

Rethink Mental Illness – ‘We believe a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.’ Rethink can provide accredited advice & information to anyone affected by mental health problems. They also provide support groups and services and they campaign nationally for policy change.

Mind – ‘We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.’ Mind campaign to raise awareness, promote understanding and improve services. They also provide advice and support to anyone who needs it.

The Versatile Blogger Award

The lovely Abby over at For All That Wander has been kind enough to award me The Versatile Blogger Award – Thank you Abby! 

The Versatile Blogger Award aims to recognise those blogs that stand out for being a little different, for doing their own thing, for blogging with enthusiasm and passion. It’s by bloggers, for bloggers. If there is a blog you enjoy why not honour the owner by nominating them? We could all do with a bit of positivity and love! 

For more info & award buttons visit The Versatile Blogger Award

The rules are simple – Should you choose to accept please include the following in your post: 

  • Link back to the person who nominated/awarded you…and a ‘thank you’ wouldn’t go amiss!
  • Include the rules so that the person you’ve nominated/awarded knows what they should do.
  • Include 7 facts about yourself – let people get to know you! 
  • Include a list of blogs you would like to award/nominate and link to them (the usual list is 15 blogs but less or a few more is fine, no panic!)

7 Facts About Me

  1. I can’t swim – I did swimming lessons throughout primary school, didn’t get anywhere with them!
  2. I listen to music every day & love going to gigs. My current favourite bands are Panic! at the Disco and Twenty One Pilots – I’m always up for chatting about them or other artists and I’m always on the look out for a new band or song. Find me on Twitter or check out what I’m listening to on Spotify
  3. My dog is everything to me – His name is Dobby, he’s a Dog’s Trust pup that I got 6 years ago. He never fails to make me smile – more on him in a later post!
  4. I have a thing for stationery, cups, candles and bath products. I’ve entirely too many of all of them and it’s gonna stay that way.
  5. I left school without sitting my Leaving Cert but went on to get 3 other certificates and a place in college –  It wasn’t straightforward and there were a lot of false starts but it goes to show that final school exams aren’t everything and there are other options out there.
  6. One of my favourite things is spending time with my parents, siblings, nephews/nieces – Several years ago both of my parents were quite ill and it really made me appreciate them and every moment we have together. As a family we make an effort to get together to do things. The best times are usually during the Summer when we go to a beach or park with the kids and celebrate my mam’s birthday at the same time 🙂
  7. This is not my first blog – I had a very basic blog several years ago, a sort of online diary. I ended up deleting it because I was worried about what people who I knew IRL thought of it. Now, I don’t care haha

 

Stepphhsays-versatile-blogger-award-nominees

* A quick note – In keeping with the spirit of my blog I want to be clear that if I have nominated/awarded you and you don’t wish to nominate/award someone else that’s perfectly okay. It doesn’t change the fact that I think you’re awesome and that you deserve this!

  • RocketteQueen – Aoife is killing it with posts about alternative fashion, cruelty free beauty and thoughts on life. My fav!
  • JasminsWorld – Jaz is blogging her way through her final year of uni.
  • LoveKatieLauren – Check out her positivity series, it’s fab!
  • TooManyRedheads – A blog about family & parenting . I don’t have children but still find plenty of life lessons and useful info here!
  • WrittenBySJSmith – Sam is a fellow book lover, blogging her way through life.
  • HelloBexa – A student & lifestyle blog…and someone whose love of sweet potato fries might just rival mine!
  • TheFashionDiet – Sarah is a young Irish blogger who is passionate about all things fashion & beauty.
  • IBlogTheFashion – Here you’ll find content that is mostly focused on fashion but lately Holly Louise has been doing more lifestyle posts & sharing a bit more about her life which I am loving.
  • LifeWithKtkinnes – Books & food galore! Katie is also one of the bloggers running @BloggersTribe on Twitter.
  • ChloeMetzger – Fellow Potter nerd, feminist and mental health advocate.

Guys, I love your blogs and think you’re fab, thanks for doing what you’re doing and sharing it with the world!