Suicide is the biggest cause of death in young men in the UK. I was so shocked when I heard that for the first time. In 2017 suicide is the number one cause of death of our young males in this country. That’s incredible. It’s a modern endemic.

We live in a very privileged part of the world here in the UK. Infant mortality due to infectious disease is low in comparison to other countries. We live in a relatively safe place too, on a bigger picture scale but also in our everyday, we have health and safety down to an art. No longer are children and young men sent down the mine to work or at the rock face in the quarry and infections that once tore through our populous can now easily be treated. I get that as a group, young men in the UK are relatively untouchable. But they’re not, they’re suffering. Often alone, often in silence and it’s terrifying.

It’s terrifying because we are being robbed. It’s terrifying because it feels unbeatable. It’s terrifying because it could be any of us. Having suffered with depression and self harm I know how cruel and calculating it is. It convinces you that your feelings are not worth anything, that you as a human being are not worth anything. So when I see campaigns that shout ‘talk about it! Tell someone!’ I know it falls on deaf ears. That is such an important message and I’m not saying we shouldn’t encourage talking about mental health I just know that a person in the depths of depression doesn’t even think it matters that they feel like that. They don’t think they matter enough to tell someone.

It could happen to any of us. It’s almost like we feel protected from it because that was someone’s own actions and well our people just would never have any reason to choose to do that would they. But poor mental health can affect anyone at any time.

We need to be adamant about separating the illness of depression from the person. Why are we still using the phrase ‘committed suicide’? I suffered with depression as an adolescent and I say suffered because it was horrendous. I self harmed for a long time. When I went to hospital after a suicide attempt, the paramedic asked me if I’d been having boy trouble. 2 of the nurses told me I was such a pretty girl. I wished it was that. I wished it was as simple as that. What it was, was depression, an illness too big for me at that time.  “Hey why would you ever want to kill yourself, you’re so pretty!”

We had news of a young boy from our local high school taking his life this week. The community is in shock and grief is in the air. I feel so sad about it.

 If you are struggling with dark feelings just know that you are not your depression. You can’t see it but it’s a leech. A parasite you have to carry that nobody else can fully see, and when you manage to burn that thing off I promise you will see it for what it is.

There is hope. Don’t ever forget there is always hope even when it doesn’t seem like it. I know people say that all the time but you opened your eyes this morning there is hope. I am not depressed anymore and I can say how much I actually love life but you won’t believe me because you can’t understand that. Just keep opening your eyes everyday and know that there will be a day when you won’t feel like this anymore. You just have to stay round long enough to see it come.  

God loves you, and He sees you.

 

I’ve woken up this morning with a hang-over but I haven’t had a drink for at least two weeks. I’ve began to term it a ‘small group hang-over’. 

I don’t know if it’s an anxiety thing or if I’m just a bit strange but I get a lot of the same feelings after attending a small group as I’ve had after heavy nights on the town. When I say small group I mean anywhere where you get together with a bunch of people. There’s no more than 10 people and you might be at a connect group or bible study like I was last night, an evening class, a get together where you maybe don’t know everyone like a birthday or an ann summers party, anything along those lines. I would say I only suffer these after effects when I’ve been a part of a group made up of people I don’t know very well.

Basically I wake up the next day with all the stupid things I said right at the forefront of my mind. I feel like I talked too much and I just walk around the next day wincing either at having shared something that suddenly now seems too intimate or telling myself off for talking too much or just you know, saying something completely daft. And more than that, also berating myself for being so egotistical in spending time considering what I said so much! Last night it didn’t even wait until the morning to kick in, I had a dream that I was at said bible study group and had accidentally left it too late in leaving and was the last one left, scrambling to put my shoes on and race to my car as I had embarrassingly inconvenienced my hosts. What’s that about?! 

I used to go out a lot and drink a lot, most weekends, and I would have similar dreams then but they were slightly more surreal because in the dream I thought I was awake. I would dream that the people I had been out with were in my bedroom and I couldn’t go to sleep until they had left, often getting up to get dressed as I felt embarrassed being in bed. I always thought it was because of the alcohol but after my strange dream last night, maybe not. 

me blowing a bubble gum bubble and an empty wine glass

Every time I drank I would get a guaranteed hang over the next day, which is why I stopped drinking altogether for a while and now I only have a couple occasionally. A banging headache, nausea and vomiting were a given every time and furthermore, flashbacks of dancing like an idiot, or some stupid meaningless conversation over clouded by a general blue feeling and a promise to never again drink so much. 

Now to get the same effects except for the physical ones I don’t drink, I just sign up to every small group meet going! You would think I would shy away from them considering I almost know I am going to feel like an idiot all the next day but on the contrary it’s as if I can’t resist. The thing is I actually really enjoy them at the time. Getting to know people on a deeper level that I might not usually get the chance to get to know otherwise. I like to be part of a group that could possibly be support to someone who might not get that elsewhere. I particularly like studying and taking classes. And when I get home I feel OK it’s just the next day things pop into my head and I think to myself ‘I am never going to speak in a group situation again.’ I always do though, a few days later when it’s passed me by and I have better things to think about. 

There’s always those people who will sit silent through an entire class never having the confidence to say their opinion out loud, and I wonder if this small group hang over is a similar thing just in reverse. I’m too gobby to keep my mouth shut at the time but as I get older I’m questioning how worthwhile my contributions are and how contrived they are as well. Am I speaking honestly in those situations? Or is my good girl complex kicking in and I just want to say the right thing? Is that why I feel funny about it the next day because I feel disingenuous? I can’t tell but it’s something I’m thinking about! As Eleanor Roosevelt once said…

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do.”

I love that quote! It’s definitely one I need to remind myself of more often. What do you think, is it an anxiety thing? How do you find small groups – like or loathe? 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

I have always had leanings toward the macabre. I would say I probably think about death more often than the average person. Like when brushing my teeth – ‘My teeth will probably be the last remaining part of my physical body’. 

Strange Thoughts

I enjoy a peaceful walk around a graveyard, reading the headstones, imaging their lives and families and funerals. I’m intrigued by the way death is dealt with in different cultures. If I’m ever at the hospital you can guarantee I’m looking at every porter cart wondering if there is a body being transported under our noses. It’s a bit weird I suppose, but I think most people have these kind of thoughts from time to time they just never mention it.

women of dia de los muertos

The Day of the Dead

In Mexico they have a festival called Dia De Los Muertos  ‘The Day of the Dead’ you have probably seen the painted skulls associated with it as they have become very popular. The festival is recognised by UNESCO as a notable part of the cultural heritage of humanity and has its roots in Catholic tradition. It’s all about remembering family and friends who have passed and far from being spooky, the festival is a celebration of their lives. Families put out a table of the person’s favourite food and items and there is a big street carnival. People go to visit their family graves; it is an annual celebration on Nov 2nd across Mexico and anywhere that has a Latino heritage. The whole thing really appeals to me. To set time aside to think about and remember lost loved ones is good and healthy but more than that it seems like a nation-wide acceptance of death. It’s like saying every one of us has lost, let’s come together and celebrate the time we had with the people we love and thank them for going before us and laying our foundations.

candles

Celebrating Life

I can imagine families really come together to share stories, kids who never met grandparents get to hear about them and grow up with an understanding of long reaching familial roots. There is nothing like that in the U.K that I have seen. In fact I have spoken to two women my age (34) this last week who told me their mum died within the last year. What struck me was the way they said it, it was a quick sentence in amongst other information almost like ‘I only say this to say that’. What a humongous life changing statement, ‘my mum died last year’ and for some reason, in our culture it’s like we’re not allowed to talk about it in polite society. How much I wanted to hug both these women, how strange it would have been if I had and how sad it is that we are so inept at publicly dealing with the issue of death.

Hidden Death

I read a brilliant book not long ago all about death and how we tend to deal with it in modern society. The author had worked in funeral parlours, and aside from a few grim chapters around the practicalities of embalming it was a great read. She explores the idea of how and why we are so committed to keep death hidden and the lengths we go to, to do so. Birth and death happen around us every day yet both are really taboo subjects. I find that really interesting.

 

Thinking of starting a blog, or written your first post and wondering how to get people to read it? I’ve joined up with 6 other current successful bloggers to help you. Here are 7 insider tips for writing and maintaining your lovely shiny new blog. Happy blogging! 🙂 

Use your Voice. 

Write as yourself – write in your own voice as you would talk in real life and let your personality show through. People talk about finding your niche, the truth is, YOU are your niche – your voice, your opinions – no one else is you and no one else thinks exactly like you. Use that to your advantage by showing readers the real you.

Debbie from My Random Musings has loads of blogging tips and advice over on her blog and is also a fiction author.

Help your Reader. 

Create Useful or Helpful Content – Some really successful bloggers primarily use their blog as a journal, charting everyday life etc, and that works well for them. But personally, I would rather write, and read, posts that focus on either a specific topic, are opinion-led, thought-provoking or helpful to readers. For example, if you switch up the post “An update on my baby’s weaning.” to “Ten Steps For Easy Weaning” it becomes much more interesting and useful.  

Laura is a big mental health advocate and writes a lot about PND and anxiety among other things over on her blog The Butterfly Mother 

Don’t Get Caught Up

Remember why you started – It is so hard to not get obsessed with stats and followers to the point where it can completely take over. I went through a phase when I was constantly checking how many people were reading my blog or getting upset if I lost followers on social media. It took me a while to realise that this is not why I started blogging. I started because I wanted to document my girls life. I started because I wanted something for me. I started because I love to write. When it all gets too much (and it will at times)  you just need to remember.

Mum of 3 Natalie writes about her busy life as a mum at Meme and Harri

Get Organised and Plan

Get organised and consistent! Keep a notebook or some way to take notes, with you at all times as you never know when inspiration for a blog post might strike. Plan well in advance for things that will send you off track (such as school holidays) so you can stick to your posting schedule.

With the tagline ‘memories from the madhouse and more’ you know Natalie is great at planning to stay on top of things and produce great content regularly over at My Chaotically Eclectic Life

Keep your Reader in Mind

Know your audience and write with them in mind. When I am writing my blog I usually try to visualise the people I am writing for: you can see who your audience is from Google Analytics.  I often think of a few friends (who are the right age, gender, stage in life) who would be interested in what I am writing about and I try to write as if I was talking to them.  I find this helps my writing as I am directing what I am saying at real people, but to keep a little distance there I pretend that they have brought a friend or two along that I’ve not met before so I explain things fully.  If you want to branch out your audience a little start including a man in your imaginary audience (if most of your readers are women) or someone older or younger or with different interests.

You can find loads of new food inspiration over on Erica’s blog A Little Luxury For Me

Remain Accessible to all

You may have your target audience in mind, but many people, including those with disabilities, may stumble upon your website.

And this is a chance for you to be as inclusive as possible.

Alt text is the blank area for you to give your reader a visual representation of what is in your photo or image. Many bloggers unknowingly believe that it’s for keywords within your post. This is the most important tip I can give to anyone: describe your images, photos memes and pins so you’re blind and other disabled readers can be included and not confused.

Award nominated blog thinkingoutloud-sassystyle has been shortlisted for the Health Unlocked blogger award 2017, Sassy herself is blind and she writes to raise awareness of disability including mental health.

 

Thanks ladies for sharing your expertise and wisdom. My top tip is:

Don’t be Shy! 

Join lots of blogger groups on Facebook. This is where you will garner info about linkys and good places to share your content. Don’t just sit back and wait for people to read your posts, you might be waiting a long time! Promote wherever you can. Get over your shyness early on and appreciate your creativity. You write for people to read it so don’t be ashamed to promote it!

Go get ’em tiger! Blog, eat, sleep, repeat. Welcome to the community! What’s your top tip for newbie bloggers? Share below, you never know who you may be helping. If you found this post helpful, share it! Thanks very much. 🙂 

Today I have eaten half an entire cake to myself, put away all the washing and vacuumed twice. Today my daughter started juniors at a new school after 6 months of home-ed.

She was so excited, and counting down the days until school started. I was counting backward to see what we could fit into our last days of summer together. She couldn’t wait to wear her new uniform while I complained about the uniformity of uniform, and the polyester content. She was excited to meet her new teacher while I pondered if she might know about learning rather than just teaching. She was excited to meet new friends while I questioned if she would feel able to be herself in a peer group. Urgh I could go on and on but basically, she was excited, me…not so much.

So here is my cathartic list post of things we are saying goodbye to now home-ed is no more for Beg.

  1. Home-Ed meets and Facebook groups. The first groups I’ve ever joined where I felt I fully fit in (because literally everyone fits in).
  2. Feelings of freedom. Hello school rat race.view from big pit south wales
  3. Empty parks, empty national trust properties, empty castles and beaches. Goodbye elderly crowd we could bump around with in these places. Eating sandwiches on benches and going slow together.
  4. Sleeping when we want even though she generally kept to the same bedtimes as that suited her now we have to wake up when the government tells us to (allow me some slight mellow drama here please I’m having a cathartic moment).
  5. Bumping into other home ed families we don’t know and saying hi because you’re the only two families at the museum in the middle of the day.
  6. The possibility of holidays outside of term time.
  7. 6 hours of her day missing all the parts where she comes up with an amazing idea or a really interesting philosophical question. When her eyes light up and she says “Hey Mum, do all animals have tails?” And we spend the next week naming animals and discussing their tails.
  8. Home ed discounts. Thanks Cadw it was fun.Caerphilly Castle
  9. Wearing whatever she wants.
  10. Goodbye no pressure to learn (or rote repeat) things she has to know so they can measure her teacher’s performance. Goodbye no pressure overall.mum and daughter wearing a tutu

There are 10 things, I’m sure I will think of many more but I’m off for a good cry now! Bye bye home ed. It’s been real.

Are there any other things you would miss about home ed that aren’t on this list? Are you wondering why then we decided to go back to school? So am I! No I’m not, just kidding, there will be another post about it up soon. Comment below and let me know what you love most about home-ed.