Health

Panic attacks: when they strike at the worst possible times

They say the exact causes of panic attacks are unknown. That they can occur for no apparent reason. Truthfully, I’ve noticed this myself. 9 times out of 10, the cause of my own panic attacks are completely unknown to me. That’s why, as well as being scary and pretty humiliating, they can be really frustrating. When there isn’t usually a direct cause, panic attacks can happen at the worst possible times. And that’s what, I think, makes them even harder to deal with.

 

One thing that helps me deal with my own mental health issues is being open about my experiences. I suppose it’s a way for me to vent and get it out of my system. Some of my own panic attacks have happened at the absolute worst times. (But when is a “good” time to have a panic attack, right?)

 

One example is when I had one on my first day of placement at a TV Newsroom. It may seem clear why it happened, but I was familiar with where I was having been on work experience there 14 months ago. But anyway, I was sitting at my desk practicing my editing and I was totally fine. Within literally seconds, I was tearful and my breathing had sped up. I was having a panic attack. All I was thinking about was how badly I must have come across. I didn’t want to give the impression that I wasn’t “up for the job” or emotionally stable enough to succeed in journalism. After all, I wanted to make myself seem as capable as I possibly could.

 

But everyone was so understanding. When I explained that it was a panic attack, they were all so lovely about it. Honestly, it made me feel less humiliated about the whole situation.

 

But that’s all you really have to do – just tell whoever’s around you what’s happening and, chances are, they’ll do what they can to help. In my experience, trying to stop a panic attack from happening because of the situation you’re in, or for any reason for that matter, never helps. Just let it happen – people will understand and bottling it up never helps. I suppose my big take away from my experiences is to just accept that panic attacks just happen and to not let them get in the way of what you’re doing.

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Feminism

Why the Suffragettes are still relevant in 2018

100 years ago, some women over the age of 30 were granted the right to vote. This was a huge step forward on terms of gender equality in the UK and women can now vote on the same terms as men. As a 21-year-old female who has voted in two general elections, two referendums and one council election, I am so grateful to the Suffragettes for all of their incredibly hard work.

But in 2018, males and females are still not totally equal. The gender pay gap is arguably the most prevalent example of this.

We’ve all heard about the most recent BBC gender pay row. It is unacceptable that such a huge company has been paying its female employees less than their male counterparts. But it’s not just the BBC that has been doing this – it is a problem that also exists in so many other companies across the UK.

Even certain attitudes towards males and females still differ significantly. This is particularly noticeable in the showbiz industry. There have been countless occasions in which women have been criticised for their weight, their clothes, their make-up (or lack of) and so much more. There have been cases in which males have experienced this but, in comparison to women, this has rarely been a huge problem for them.

It might be a century since some women first got the vote but the Suffragettes are still extremely relevant in today’s society. Gender inequality still exists in the UK and there is still a long way to go in dealing with it. I am sure the Pankhursts and the Suffragettes would continue to work hard to achieve full gender equality. And that’s what, I think, we should do 100 years on from women first having the right to vote.

Future

Re-adjusting to life in the UK

On Friday morning, I returned from my four months on Erasmus in Brussels and spent my first weekend back in the UK. I still don’t know exactly how to feel about being back – I’ve felt a mix of emotions.

Part of me is fairly glad to be back. Having my own room and bathroom and kitchen again is lovely. I’m really pleased to be surrounded my books again too! Even the small things, like not having to pay to do my laundry at the dorm, are pretty nice.

But inevitably, I really miss Brussels. It feels quite strange waking up in the morning and not being at the dorm. It takes me a couple of seconds to remember where I am again.

I knew it would be strange to be back in the UK again, but I also know that I have a lot to look forward to. I start placement tomorrow morning which will be both challenging and exciting at the same time. And there will definitely be opportunities in the near future for me to further my career in journalism and to allow me to reach my goal of being a foreign correspondent.

It may be hard for me to re-adjust to being back after so long but I’m sure it’ll get easier. I know I’ve got to focus on going forward in life and take the great things in my future as they come.

Although I miss my Belgian second home so incredibly much, I know I also have a lot to look forward to.

Opportunities

Why leaving Brussels will be so difficult

It’s Thursday 25th January 2018. It’s my last day in Brussels on Erasmus. It’s now time to say bye to what has become my second home.

It hasn’t quite hit me that I’m leaving Brussels tomorrow morning. I suppose that’s a good thing – it means my last day here won’t feel quite so sad.

But there’s so much about my time here that I’ve absolutely loved, which will definitely make it difficult to leave tomorrow.

Of course, the best thing about having been here for four months is having met those amazing people I now call my friends. Every single one of them has made my stay here a million times better. We have travelled together, a few of us lived in the same place, and we all managed to have a laugh the whole way through. My international and Belgian friends are definitely why I always felt so happy in Brussels.

The city itself: what an underrated place. It might not be the biggest or most flashy city, but Brussels definitely has so much that makes it so amazing. From the Grand Place, to the Atomium to everything else in between, Brussels really has some beautiful places.

Having been in Brussels for four months, I’ve kind of made a life here. I had a sense of routine, places I always went and I felt so at home here. It’ll be really difficult to leave all of that behind.

Because of all this, having to leave tomorrow will be so hard. Having to adapt to my old life back in the UK will be pretty difficult.

But the one thing to remember is that I can always come back. Brussels really isn’t that far from the UK so it’ll be easy to do so. And I absolutely will be back.

So thank you, Brussels. Thank you for being such an amazing second home. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.

Home

What have I actually missed about the UK?

Earlier today, I realised that I’ll be going home from Brussels at the end of next week. It’s a strange thought considering I’ve been here for so long and my life here now seems normal. But I decided – in order to make going back just slightly easier – to think about some of the things about the UK that I’ve actually missed.

  • British humour

British people have, in my opinion, the best sense of humour. It’s pretty strange at times but I absolutely love it. We also have some of the funniest TV programmes. Gogglebox is absolutely brilliant, with ordinary people unintentionally saying the most hilarious things. Britain’s Got Talent always reminds me of how witty the British are – that’s why I kind of love it. While I haven’t watched it much, Channel 4 Does Countdown also makes me laugh so much – the jokes and anecdotes are simply fantastic.

  • Weatherspoon’s

A UK wide chain, it is actually one of my favourite places. It’s pretty cheap and you get the best food and drinks – what more could you want? Spoons definitely makes for a great night out. And I definitely have my fair share of… interesting… stories from nights out at spoons.

  • The Pound

I didn’t think it was possible to miss a currency but apparently it is. I’ve pretty much got used to the Euro – after four months you’d think so anyway – but using the Pound will always be far easier for me. Also, not having to pay bank charges will definitely be a bonus!

  • Discussions about how to make tea

Admittedly, this one is very stereotypical but it’s actually a conversation I’ve had many times. ‘When do you put the milk in?’ ‘How milky do you have your tea?’ ‘Do you teabag out before putting in the milk?’

Everyone does it differently and we all have different opinions about the ‘correct’ way to make a cup of tea. But just for those of you who may not know, the only correct tea-making procedure is as follows:

  • Boil the water
  • Put a teabag into the cup
  • Pour the water into the cup
  • Leave the teabag in for a couple of minutes until strong enough
  • Take out the teabag and put in the bin – by the way, don’t let anyone convince you that reusing a teabag is in any way acceptable
  • Put in a drop of milk and stir – but not too much milk. You have milk with your tea, not tea with your milk
  • Take the first sip of your tea and feel like nothing can get in your way – after all, tea makes you feel invincible

 

  • Old people talking about the weather

Another British stereotype is making small talk about the weather. I’ve never really understood why we do this but I’ve pretty much accepted it as a thing that just happens in the UK. But there’s actually something quite nice about some random old lady saying she hopes the rain clears up soon, even though the forecast says it won’t.

I’m genuinely really sad about having to leave Belgium – I’ve become pretty attached to the place. But there are definitely some great things about the UK that I have to look forward to. And I most definitely am looking forward to them!

Politics

“Sh*thole Countries” – Why we need to look beyond national stereotypes

We have all heard about Donald Trump labelling African countries, as well as Haiti and El Salvador, as “sh*tholes.” The UN described him as having been racist, a reaction that was echoed by the African Union. Even the Vatican said Trump has been “particularly harsh and offensive”.

Honestly, Trump was absolutely sickening in his behaviour. It is shocking that the President of the United States, one of the world’s most powerful countries, would even consider saying something so awful. It’s not like America doesn’t have its fair share of issues to deal with. But sadly, I can’t say I’m surprised by Trump. He is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the most sickening people out there.

But his comments prove that we really do need to look beyond national stereotypes. A country may have issues but there are always positives. There are incredible people from every country, even the nations classed as “sh*tholes” by Trump.

I want to take Yetnebersh Nigussie as an example of one of those incredible people. From Ethiopia, she is an extremely hard working human rights lawyer. She has faced discrimination herself, because of the country she is from, for being young and for being a woman. She works tirelessly for females’ rights and to change perspectives on disabilities. She is quoted as saying: “Focus on the person, not the disability. We have one disability, but 99 abilities to build on.”

What makes Yetnebersh’s achievements even more amazing is that she is blind. She is blind but her extremely positive attitude has let her grow into the success she is today.

Yetnebersh is just one success story of so many to come out of a developing country. She proves that there really are positives to these nations – she is, after all, one of those positives herself.

So Trump can make appalling comments all he likes, but he can never take away the brilliant work of amazing people such as Yetnebersh Nigussie.

Society

The 5 misconceptions about bisexuals that annoy me most

In many countries around the world, including the UK, the majority of people are tolerant and open to learning about those who are different. Especially in the last few years, we have seen more rights introduced for various groups of people. The LGBT community is no different – more and more countries have legalised equal marriage, a huge step for same sex couples. But there are still too many misconceptions about some groups of people. As a bisexual, I have absolutely noticed this. These are the five things that get on my nerves the most:

1. “Bisexuals need to have dated guys and girls to know.”

Wrong. Someone knows they are bisexual when they find they are attracted to both guys and girls. And that’s when they decide to date people of both sexes. After all, no one finds out they’re straight only after having been on their first date.

2. “Bisexuals are more likely to cheat because they have ‘more options’.”

No. No we’re not. Being bisexual has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s morals. If a bisexual truly loves their partner, regardless of their gender, they will not cheat on them. Honestly, this is the misconception that infuriates me more than any other.

3. “Bisexuals are indecisive / desperate.”

It sounds obvious, but we can’t help who we’re attracted to. And it sounds obvious because it is. So being Bi does not make you ‘indecisive’ or ‘desperate’ – it means that we are attracted to someone whether they are male or female. Simple as that. There really is nothing else to it.

Also, bisexuals are not attracted to every single person they ever see. Think about it, are straight people attracted to every person of the opposite sex they’ve ever looked at?

4. “Surely you’re ‘more gay’ or ‘more straight’?”

Firstly, that’s very presumptuous. I personally don’t mind being asked about my bisexuality but not if you’ve already made assumptions about it. Yes, some bisexuals are more attracted to one gender and some are more attracted to the other but some may find they are attracted to males and females equally. It really does just depend on the person. So don’t phrase your questions like you’re telling someone how they feel.

5. “It must be a safe way of coming out as gay.”

Absolutely not. Being bisexual is simply not the same thing as being gay or a lesbian. Anyway, if someone comes out as bi but were actually gay, chances are that they’d have come out as gay in the first place.

So these are the five. I know that, as society (in the UK anyway) is becoming more aware of different groups of people, these misconceptions will begin to fade. I just hope that, when people are unsure about things, they actually just ask instead of making strange and untrue assumptions about them.