Monday, 20 May 2019

The Reality of First Year

It really does feel like only yesterday when I moved into my university room and waved good-bye to my parents as they left me survive in the student world. But now first year is over,  I guess it is onto second year now (if I pass).

There is so much hype around going to university everyone boasting about how it is the best years of your life, maybe I am doing it wrong. Yes, I love my life here in Bangor but the actual university side of life here has been quite daunting. 

Leaving Friends 
This was probably the hardest for me. I have always had a safety net of friends with me whatever club or school I have moved to, I always followed people. University was the first time I was plummeted into a lonely abyss where I knew no-one in the first few days. I was lonely and envied my friends from home who looked like they were having the time of their lives in freshers, I guess I was jealous. I left many friends from home but gained many new ones. I found people I knew and found out how amazing they are as friends. They took me in and made me feel included and we have shared so many moments together both drunk and sober. I cannot wait to move in with them next year. 

The Socials
Guaranteed I am not the average university student. I do not enjoy going on club nights out and this year I did not apply to be in any society's, so I guess my first year has been what many people would describe as 'boring'. I do wish I joined some exciting and unique society to meet new people but maybe I will try that next year? I have not been to a club in university since Halloween and to be honest that really does not bother me. I would much rather have a Netflix night in with a Domino's. My kind of socials involves being with my friends at a bar, stuffing our faces with food and just chatting utter rubbish. 

The Work
This has been the hardest aspect of university for me except for the loneliness. Toward the last year of sixth form my mental health and education did not mix very well and this has been the case this year as well. I struggle with the motivation to do my work, with my anxiety preventing me enjoying particular elements of my course. Yes, I have not been to all of my lectures, not because I was hungover after a night out but because I could not bring myself mentally to go. I learnt that giving yourself a break and not being hard on yourself for needing time off was ok. The mental strain of university is not what most first years talk about but it is definitely tough to deal with.

Leaving Home
I have always been rather independent but in saying that I rarely went away from home. When I was younger I always got homesick and cried for my mum. But as I got older I liked my own space. I enjoy having my own space to call my own (even though it was a tiny box room). I feel like I have grown a lot as a person living on my own. I feel more like an 'adult' even if I am not very good at it. I never really missed home, I am not very far from it in reality, but still I would like to think I have succeeded in living on my own without dying.

All in all it has been a rollercoaster year, I will not lie there may have been slightly more downs than ups but I would not take this year back for anything. the first few months I struggled more so trying to get into a new routine and adapting to the university life, but it got easier and I enjoyed it more and more. I have grown so much as a person here in Bangor with the help of the people close to me here and I hope to continue to grown throughout my remaining years of university.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Reality of an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders come in many shapes and sizes. It is always regarding a persons hatred towards their body, turning them towards self destructive tendencies. It is a way on control, when the person feels like they are spiralling. It is a voice inside their head leaving them blind to what is actually going on.

Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating and Orthorexia to name a few.

All are eating disorders, all are very different, all evolve around control. Eating disorders are not something someone choses and it is not as easy as 'just eating a cheeseburger', or to 'eat normally', eating disorders are a routine to the person suffering with it. Everything revolves around their food. Plans with friends revolve around their meals. Strategic planning and manipulation comes with eating disorders, ways of hiding food, planning meals to the hour, skipping meals or avoiding situations that involve food. It is an isolating experience where you feel alone. 

Anorexia. The condition where a person quite literally starves themselves to death to achieve the ultimate goal of being skinny, but once it starts the person does not realise when to stop. They are never skinny enough in their eyes, no matter how many times you tell them that they look ill or too skinny. They want to see their ribs poking out because to them that is beautiful to them it is an achievement, they have warped sense of what real beauty is. All they see in the mirror is someone not good enough, a fat figure staring back at them, never skinny enough. The voice in their head tells them they should eat less and less. Even once a person is weight restored, the voice may still be there. It is a constant battle inside your own head. One voice telling you to not eat the pizza, for the fear it will make you fat, the other telling you it is okay and that you are stronger than your eating disorder. It is like a tug of war, however which side you let win every day is your choice, but you have to let your own conscious be stronger, not the voice of ANA and then overtime the voice will quieten.

The reality of Anorexia is that you are tired all the time, no clothes fit you properly, you fall out with your family and friends, you lose your period and your hair can fall out. No, it is not glamorous. 

Eating disorders make the person suffering isolate themselves, they think everyone is working against them. Time and patience with someone suffering from any one of these conditions is the only way a person will recover. Get them the help they need, even though sometimes they will not want it. Sometimes they need to come to the realisation themselves that they are killing their body. Recovery is possible as I have shown it. Yes there are days when I still battle and I do not know how long that will go on for, but what I do know is I do not want to go back to the shell of a person I was all those years ago. Now I try to love myself for who I am and the body I was given.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Reducing Your Plastic

Hi, yes I am studying marine biology and yes I am going to blab to you about saving the marine environment.

You are probably sick of hearing about your plastic usage nowadays, seeing as there are countless adverts and news articles on how they are polluting our planet. The reality is that plastics are in a way indeed killing our environment.

As a population we consume 245 million tonnes of plastic per year, with the overall cost of plastic pollution costing around 4.7 billion in that time (GESAMP, 2015). Not only is the issue in the greenhouse gases released when plastic eventually degrades, but also the effects plastic pollution is having on our animals, especially our marine organisms. A number of species are consuming the plastic packaging that has been dumped into the oceans by fisheries and the public themselves. They mistake its identity for a food source, for instance plastic bags are known to be consumed by turtles who mistake them for jellyfish. Plastic bags contain Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) that are toxic for animals in high concentrations and can as a consequence lead to eutrophication further up the food chain therefore may even be harming ourselves without us even knowing. Also, animals like sea birds and other organisms are becoming entangled in parts of the packaging debris that floats along the surface of our oceans. This debilitates the animals and can lead to death, having catastrophic effects on our marine ecosystem and animals populations as a whole with certain sea turtle species numbers declining by up to 95% of their original population. If nothing is done this problem will just continue to escalate further.

The issue of plastic has become more widely known and this has led to many attempts being made to reduce our overall consumption as a planet. Many reusable alternatives are being produced with shops and restaurants being seen to scrap plastic usage all together and opting for more wholesale options where you bring your own bags and containers for produce.  Little steps can make a difference, whether it be you just taking a reusable cup to a coffee shop (which can save you money as well) or even taking your own metal straw rather than wasting the plastic ones. Also cutting the plastic packaging that comes on cans to hold them together or the rings off the long life milk sealers will prevent animals becoming trapped in them. Not being lazy is what will make the impact, make an effort to save our planet. Yes, it may be tedious to carry a reusable cup, straw or bag with you day to day, but the difference it will make is worthwhile. Please do not litter on the beaches or streets, find a recycling bin to reduce landfills. Taking part in beach cleans can really help your local council, it will protect the marine animals and also help to improve the appeal of your local beaches.

In a nutshell there are many things you can do to help, because in order to help combat the growing issue of plastic everyone needs to get on board. Realistically one person is not going to make a difference, everyone needs to take a step to reduce their plastic usage including you.

Friday, 12 April 2019

The Reality Of A Panic Attack

Anxiety is a term a lot of people use lightly in todays society, sadly becoming more common than people may think. People associate anxiety with hyperventilating or not being able to control your breathing when you are anxious and though yes that is technically what anxiety is to some people, I have learnt that anxiety is a lot more complex than people may initially think.

For some it is becoming quiet and withdrawn in a conversation because it simply becomes too much to interact with.

For others it is biting their nails uncontrollably, fiddling with something or pulling at their hair without even realising it.

It may be becoming agitative or blunt because they don't know how to cope with it.

Or having to abandon a situation because it is too busy or loud.

For me it is breaking down in uncontrollable sobs until I can calm down or anxiously biting my nails in social situations or when I feel uneasy. I get anxious when I feel like I am losing control of a certain situation. Anxiety for me comes in many forms, it comes in waves and goes. Sometimes it is worse, other times it is easier, but there are ways to manage it.

What can help
Going for a walk
Listening to music
Take deep breaths
Put on a good movie
Surround yourself with people that you are comfortable with
Removing yourself from the situation that is making you feel uneasy
Do not be to harsh on yourself

Anxiety comes in many forms it is not a clear diagnosis or a clear symptom. The stigma surrounding someone saying they have anxiety is meaning people are going unnoticed, being told they are just 'being silly' and to just 'calm down', but for most it is not that simple.

Anxiety is not something to go unnoticed and it can be managed.