ZOË BENNETTS

Friday, 19 May 2017

Exciting News!

Well I certainly didn't think that I'd take so long to write another blog post, but it's pretty safe to say that I have had a whirlwind couple of months. As you all know I was living in Nepal, volunteering as a teacher and did various other work whilst I was out there: what many of you won't know, is that whilst I was in Nepal I faced many personal hurdles and I actually ended up leaving Nepal just over two weeks ago. My plan was to head out to Southeast Asia on January 24th and not return until July 16th, however - as life has a habit of doing - some curve balls were thrown and I didn't feel healthy enough to remain out there for any longer. I am heading back out in two weeks to go to Thailand and continuing on to Bali, but I needed to come home. I wasted around £500 on flights that I did not board, but as I say: "there's always more money: health and happiness come first" and I was neither healthy, nor happy. There aren't words to describe how gutted I was to be leaving my Nepali family prematurely, but the support I had from everyone out there was incredible (I'm looking at you Basant / Jatak / Prenana / Sid / and of course, my spice girls). Thanks to the work I did in therapy last year, I was able to recognise the red flags in my behaviour and habits, and knew when I started slipping into old, dangerous ways, that I needed to be at home where I was around my family, doctors and the safest possible environment. Making that decision was extremely hard, but I'm so glad I had the strength to know that I needed to be back home. Since being home it's been non-stop where I haven't actually faced any of the reasons as to why I came back. However, after a particularly emotional morning on Saturday, I sat in my car, on my drive for over twenty minutes and just sobbed my heart out. I knew that once I stopped, everything over the past couple of months would hit me like a tonne of bricks, and I was terrified to face everything I had been bottling up and avoiding. I'm glad I let my guard down for a moment though, as it made me realise that I came home for very real and very serious reasons and jolted me into 'doing mode' of making relevant appointments, to get me into tip top shape for my upcoming trip.

Bhaskar, Shailaja, myself and Anila at Chora Chori.
Leaving Nepal two weeks before I was due to, was hard but I achieved everything and more that I could have hoped for when I made the decision to go out there. Anyone that knows me, or my story, will know that after last year and everything that happened, I made the decision to take a gap year. I didn't know where I'd go, or what I'd actually do, but I knew that whatever I did, I wanted to make a positive difference to peoples lives and I wanted to help people in whatever way I could. I wanted to make other people's lives better. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I made the most of every opportunity that presented itself to me and because of that, I now have some very exciting news.
As many of you will have read in a previous blog post (read here), I visited a particularly special charity called Chora Chori. The response I received from that blog post, was incredible and I would personally like to thank all of you who shared the post, donated, sponsored children or are currently fundraising for Chora Chori. I didn't think for a second, that my post would create such a response and I was so overwhelmed with the support of you all, so really: thank you. Because of this, I ended up revisiting Chora Chori and sat down with the team and expressed to them my interest in moving forward with them on a more permanent and professional level. After a meeting with the CEO and co-founder of the charity, Philip, last week, I am now running the newest social media accounts and working with Philip to hit the charities goals on different social platforms and consequently fundraising. I am so excited about this new chapter and what I can contribute to such an incredible charity. I feel incredibly lucky to have even visited the Chora Chori centre, let alone now be working for them, so that we can keep saving these vulnerable children from horrific conditions.
If you would like to donate to Chora Chori, then please visit our Global Giving page where donations to the project are eligible for a 50% match! If you have any fundraisers coming up and would like to choose Chora Chori as the recipient of the funds, then get in touch with me (contact me) and we can help you to make the most of the fundraising. Again, I want to thank everyone who responded to my initial post about this inspiring charity, as you wouldn't believe the difference it makes. Let us work together to give these children another chance.

The new trauma centre.

A bedroom, which means that they can now rescue more girls, as there is somewhere for them to stay.

Inside of the trauma centre.

The garden that the children worked on, outside of the trauma centre.

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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Being Human

It was this time last year that I was in and out of hospital, being monitored 24/7 because I tried to end my life and a year on, it's crazy to think how far I've come. Everyone tells me how they can't believe that I was ever in that place and that anything bad could have ever happened to me because 'I'm not the girl that that happens to'; that I laugh and smile all the time. Everyone tells me how strong I am and I know that I am but I also know how far I still need to come. Coming out to Nepal has been one of the most challenging things I've ever had to do and unfortunately, there have been many things going on at home that have been heartbreaking and so hard to get through, particularly when I'm out here. It's been way harder than I thought it would be, I'll be honest. There's this misconception that as soon as you leave your normal, everyday life, everything suddenly becomes sunshines and rainbows and you're on this constant high: this is incorrect. The first thing I've learnt since being here, is that even though I love my own company and am very independent, I don't think I'd like to travel alone again. Seeing the world is so much more special when you're doing it with someone you love. It's been an incredibly lonely experience out here at times: you feel isolated in the culture, you feel like everyone at home expects you to be happy and you don't want to appear ungrateful for the opportunity, you second guess all of your decisions, beginning with "why did I ever think this was a good idea?!" and so the list goes on. I've found it especially hard to be away from home these past three months, because there have been many hurdles to overcome, that would have been tough if I was in England surrounded by loved ones, let alone being out here away from everyone. As someone who finds an awful amount of comfort in speaking to others and venting, I've found the lack of that, incredibly difficult.

The second thing I've learnt, is that life doesn't stop being life just because you're four thousand five hundred miles away from home. I still take my citalopram everyday, I still have days where I want the world and everyone in it to bugger off, I still have days that I want to squeeze everything out of it, I still have days where I love work, hate work, want to wear no makeup and look like a tramp and other days where I want to feel beautiful and make an effort. Just because I'm in a different country, I am no different. I have the same emotions, the same habits, the same triggers. People think that my life is exactly what they see on my Instagram, but there have been countless times that I've uploaded a picture of my 'amazing trip' and five minutes before, I'd been in tears because I want to come home. It's hard speaking to anyone at home about feeling this way because everyone wants you to 'make the most of the trip' and 'throw yourself in' and they tell you that 'time will fly by' and all of these are valid responses, however it can feel isolating when you know that your feelings are also valid. Of course I'm throwing myself in: I've lived with three different host families, done three different volunteering projects - teaching children and adults, helping at an orphanage and working at a dog shelter, I've lived in an ashram and did a detox that forced me to fast and then make myself sick and flush out my entire system whilst staying in silence for a day. I've white water rafted, I've rowed on pokhara lake, I've done a four hour safari, seen wild rhinos, attended a traditional dance show, I've visited rescued trafficked children, I've watched a hysterectomy be performed on a dog, I've seen a dog be attacked and have a chunk of its neck pulled off. I've experienced traditional birthday parties, Nepali New Year's Eve, holi, a full moon ceremony, I've been blessed and prayed for by sixty Tibetan monks and their Lama and welcomed as a part of a Tibetan / Nepali family in a local monastery. I've had dinner and spent the day with an architect, I've had lunch and spent the following day with a member of Nepali Congress, I've camped by a riverside in the middle of a storm, I've trekked the highest peak in the Kathmandu valley, I've sat on buses from 6:30 am until 4:00 pm. I've danced, I've sung, I've run through the streets in storms, I've fallen asleep drunk in a kebab shop in Thamel, I've laughed, I've cried and I've given this trip my all so far. I know how lucky I am to have the experiences I have, but I also know I've had them because of my openness to every situation I'm put into, so of course I'm making the most of it. Of course time is going quickly, but things can still be really bloody hard. I've had amazing experiences yes, but these experiences have also taken a lot out of me emotionally and mentally. I've seen things that, I honestly could never have even imagined witnessing; I've met people that have empty faces and horrific pasts; I've heard heartbreaking stories of the lives of children and of animals and it's hard to be engrossed in all of that and still look after yourself.
I feel incredibly lucky to have such amazing people at home that make me ache to come back, and I simultaneously feel lucky to have such amazing experiences out here. Travelling is incredible and has shown me how strong I really am, as I've been pushed and challenged in ways that, ideally, I wouldn't have to have been, but it can be really hard and can be extremely lonely. The girls and I often talk about how much we're enjoying our time, but how excited we are to get home and see our loved ones and we all share the same exasperation when everyone expects us to be on cloud nine all of the time. By staying here for four months, Nepal has become our home for this third of the year, so we still have the bad days and the good days, they just look slightly different to how they look when we're in our respective homes. I've just four and a half weeks left in Nepal now and I definitely feel ready to move onto the next phase of my trip and I'm not going to feel guilty about looking forward to going home or having days where I wish I was curled up in my own bed, watching Netflix and seeing my loved ones, because I am human, whether I'm in Milton Keynes or in Kathmandu.
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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Media in the Modern World

"What do you think are the most important media today and why?"
This question ignites an internal battle within me: the sentimental romantic, that believes that print magazines are the life and soul of the fashion industry and then the realistic millennial that knows that we live in an emedia dominated world. Perhaps if I wasn't writing this from Nepal, I may be more inclined to conclude that print is the most important media today, however the fact that I'm able to apply to university, from over four thousand, five hundred miles away, indicates that emedia is a force to be reckoned with. 
Each day I receive a 'Vogue Daily' email, updating me on everything from 'Emma Thompson on Hollywood's "Terrible" Anorexia Problem", to "The Duchess's Night at The National Portrait Gallery". Just by opening this email, I am immediately bombarded with headlines of what I need to know about in the fashion industry at the moment. I am just one of millions, that consume their media online, because of how accessible it is; as an audience we are active in what we are consuming when we're online, as we're purposefully selecting the articles that interest us, refining our search by using key words. Having said this, cookies embedded in most sites - let's face it, we all accept the cookie pop up on our mobiles; it's like a terms and conditions scenario: we tick the box to get to the good stuff - suggest 'similar' articles / websites etc. based on what we've looked at before, begging the question: are we still as passive as ever, consuming what the institutions want us to? 
Emedia also allows the audience to become their own producer. Bloggers have taken over the Fashion Industry, with the likes of Tanya Burr, Lydia Millen and Fleur Bell attending prestigious fashion shows and setting up their own beauty brands. Unlike print fashion powerhouses like Vogue and Tatler, you don't need a degree and experience up to your eyeballs, to get the opportunity to write when you're online. The internet is also uncensored, meaning there isn't an editor looking over your shoulder, pulling you up on that article that is too politically charged. The audience is able to write about and explore, not just the fashion industry, but a variety of industries and issues freely. 
Therefore, I believe that emedia is the most important media today, because we live in a world where fashion is no longer just about looking beautiful: fashion is being used as a platform to start conversations that talk about societal and political issues. Emedia provides a space for everyone to get involved. As an 'insignificant' memeber of the fashion industry, I'm able to express my views, opinions and insight into fashion, style and the politics within it, liberally. I think that due to the circulation and speed of emedia in the modern world, it is such a significant platform. I'm learning so much about how different cultures influence each others fashion out here in Asia, and I think being able to communicate that freely is extremely important. 
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Let Life Excite You


In the mere nine weeks that I've been here, some close to me and some close to people in my life, have passed away. I've seen children who have completely lost their childhood to imprisonment, starvation and abuse. I've seen children orphaned by death, poverty and abandonment. And during these nine weeks, I've felt the absence of the most special people to me, but I've also felt more love than I thought was possible. All of my experiences so far - the good, the bad and the ugly (98% I've been looking very ugly but I guess that's to be expected on two showers a week) - have made me realise how short life is. Even after trying to take my own life last year, it still didn't really resonate with me how special life is and how short it can be, meaning we must make the most of it.
I decided after getting ill last year, that whatever I did next, I wanted to help people: I wanted to do as much good as I possibly could and I wanted to make a difference - no matter how big or small - in people's lives. The funny thing is, is that now I'm out here and doing everything (and more) that I could have hoped to have done, it's my life that is being touched: my life that is being changed by the people around me. I've experienced kindness from strangers that I now consider family; for example, Basant, who I mentioned in a previous post, is our Nepal coordinator. If we have any problems, questions or queries, we go to him and he will sort it out; everything from treks, to visas, to where to go for dinner - he's the man! But beyond this, Basant has the kindest heart I've ever encountered. As soon as I arrived in Nepal, the support - beyond what is probably in his job description - I've had from him has been overwhelming. I've sat in his office and spoken about everything from my family, to my boyfriend, to his family, past volunteers and he even wrote out and recommended where to get my tattoo done! I see Basant like a family member and the gratitude I have towards him is immense. I feel incredibly honoured to have met such a humble, selfless, generous man. Basant is just one of the many people I've grown close to since being here and forming these connections with people, makes me realise how lucky I am to be able to meet such amazing people. 
On Friday I have to say goodbye to the children at the orphanage, and that, I am dreading. I've already said that I'm going to pop in on my birthday to bring cake and chocolate for them and I'll come and say a proper goodbye when I leave Nepal, but I am not looking forward to leaving them at all. I have every intention of coming back next year, or at the latest, the year after, but so much changes so quickly and the older ones may not be there anymore. I never thought that my heart could fit so much love within it (those days of being an 'Ice Queen' and 'stone / cold hearted' have gone) as I genuinely love the children at OCCED so much. There are some kids there that study so hard, work until they're exhausted and they won't get anywhere near the kinds of opportunities that I get and that makes me so sad. In a different life they would thrive and it's heartbreaking that there are some people out there, that get handed things on a plate and waste it - it's a slap in the face to kids like the ones I've grown to know and love. This, amongst other things I've mentioned, makes me want to live my life to the very fullest. I want to tell those that I love, how much I bloody love them!!! I want to do things I'm passionate about and I want to be able to have integrity the whole time. I want to fight the wrongs and celebrate the triumphs. My ex once insulted me by saying that I 'felt things too deeply' and that he'd 'never met anyone who was so excited by life' and mocked me for it, eventually draining any happiness or excitement I had for life, out of me. I now look back and realise that feeling things so deeply and being excited by life, are the reason that I'm doing everything I'm doing - they are the reason that I will achieve so much and live the happiest life, with the most incredible people. 
I think we all need to sometimes take a step back and look at the people we have in our lives, and tell those closest to you (having said that, they don't even have to be that close to you) how much they mean to you. One day, you may reflect and realise you didn't appreciate what you had. It's so easy to let special people go unacknowledged, but just remember that life is so bloody short and you should love with every fibre of your being, be it people, work, your dog, just live with passion. Feel things deeply and let life excite you - I know I am.
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Friday, 24 March 2017

Chora Chori

 
It's taken me much longer than I had intended, to write this post, however I've really struggled to put into writing what I experienced. Friday was possibly one of the most harrowing days of my life. I was invited by one of the English OCCED donors, Dot, to go with her to Godawari (the village that Robyn and Fin live in) to visit 'Chora Chori' an organisation that rescues Nepal's trafficked children from India. Prior to leaving, I knew that I was incredibly lucky to be able to have such an opportunity, but was slightly worried, as I have a tendency to feel things at such a magnitude, that there was a high chance that I would burst into tears (not cool or appropriate I felt). When we arrived at the site, I walked into a field that reminded me a lot of England; there isn't an awful lot of grass in my village and there's none in Kathmandu, so a field is definitely a treat! I was introduced to the three main people who work for Chora Chori: Anila, the woman that cares for the children and makes sure they study, eat etc; Shailaja, the woman that actually goes to these places and rescues the children, as well as going out to the villages where the parents live etc; and finally, a young man who helps to keep the whole organisation running. 
Right from the moment that I arrived, the reality of where I actually was and what I was about to see, made me nervous and already full of emotion. Shailaja began to tell Dot and I about the recent trip to India saving 33 children; I had read about the accomplishment in the Himalayan Times (Nepali Newspaper) but had also read that a boy had died, before the team got to him. I asked if this was in fact true and they confirmed this was, unfortunately, the case. They have virtually no details of the boy, only knowing that he was around eighteen years old and they were still waiting on the post-mortem results to clarify how he died. Due to the lack of information about this boy, they are unable to contact any family to tell them that their son has died. It is also unknown how long he had been locked away for.

On the green there were perhaps fifteen or so children running around or lingering near us and we were told that some of these children had been locked in rooms three stories high, so didn't know what it was like to be on a ground level and apparently had been saying "please let us play out here, we promise we won't run away, we just want to be outside".

Behind the green was two large buildings and then a construction site, with a half built building; it transpires that this building will be used as the girls dormitory and also as a counselling centre. Anila has a degree in child psychology so is due to lead the therapy that the children will undergo. Chora Chori is a temporary place for the children to stay before they move back with their families or get put into orphanages, but their concern is of how seriously traumatised they are. Some of these children stayed locked away for fifteen years, with some having to look after severely mentally disabled children. When I was being taken around and shown the buildings, a young girl ran up to me and hugged me. She was reluctant to let go, so I held her hand and she held it so tightly in return, following me wherever I went. When the children had food, she finally released my hand and sat with another girl - seemingly the only two girls there. They looked about ten years old or so and I asked Shailaja whether they were new and she simply replied "yes, they came back with us from India a couple of days ago. They were abused." Looking at the two young girls as I heard this, my eyes filled with tears and I tried to swallow back my emotion and smile back at the two grinning faces before me. For me personally, that was absolutely one of the hardest things I heard; these girls, have experienced the kind of thing that nobody should ever have to and my heart broke for them, for that is something that will take an awfully long time to recover from and there will be parts of them, in years to come that will still be so scared and frightened because of what they experienced. It will be hard to trust anybody.

 
The parents of the children have been contacted, however the responses are varied. Many of the families are extremely extremely poor meaning that some were themselves, involved in trafficking their children to India to provide more income. Many parents can't afford to look after, house and feed their kids, meaning that some parents don't want to take their rescued children back home. Some don't want their children for other reasons, mostly in the cases of step-parents. Other parents however, use everything they have to make it over to Godawari to see their child and take them home; apparently one of the boys parents came to collect him and all of them cried profusely, the connection and love between them, palpable. Despite these touching relations, the harsh reality remains, in that they cannot afford to provide for their child. In one case a thirteen year old boy was going back to his village where it was just his mother and four siblings. His father had left and remarried, so he felt as though he was responsible as the breadwinner; he knew that if he wasn't working out in India he would have to get a job in Nepal and that education wasn't an option. He would be earning around 2000 rupees and that would have to last the family of six for the entire month. To put that into perspective for you: 2000Rs = £14.93 - £14.93 / 6 = £2.49. That is £2.49 per person for a months worth of food, house, education, clothes, toiletries etc. And that responsibility lies with a thirteen year old boy that was trafficked to India and spent years locked in a room. The youngest boy is aged around five or six and his parents don't want him back. 
The experience only became more sobering as the children went to have their breakfast. Running to get their food and piling huge quantities of dal bhat and curry onto their plates, Shailaja explained that when they were locked up, they were rarely fed. Due to the irregularity of when they were given food, they would eat huge helpings in fear that they wouldn't have food again for a long time. They refuse to drink water when they eat as they know it will make them feel more full, when they want to eat as much as they can. They rush to get their food first, because when they were locked away, once the food was gone, it was gone and if you didn't get there first you would go without. This also was another opportunity for the children to get beaten, as amidst the scramble to get fed, the men would beat them because they didn't form a line. They are yet to realise that they will get given food multiple times every day and they won't get beaten. They go through a whole sack of rice between 38 children a day, because of how much they eat out of fear they won't eat again. 
 

 

 
 
When the children arrived to Chora Chori, last week, they were covered with lice - not only were their heads full of them, their clothes were also infested. They had scabies and because they weren't able to wash, welts and sores formed on their legs. Apparently the children described their legs as 'burning'. The child pictured below, isn't allowed to go home until he is fully treated.

The expressionless faces of so many of these children, says everything about what they've been through and the effect it's had on them. Chora Chori works to rescue trafficked children, like the 33 I met but they also donate to hostels where children are staying estranged from their families as their parents can't afford to care for them. In addition to this they have provided nine girls, aged around sixteen, with a house and give them 3000 rupees each for the month. These girls lost their homes and families in the 2015 earthquake, but Chora Chori are still ensuring that these girls get an education: an opportunity. If the girls didn't have this, they would have been trafficked for various different uses
 

Chora Chori receives no financial contribution from Nepal and relies on international donations to allow them to continue doing this incredible work. It costs just £34 to sponsor a child for a year. For more information on the organisation and what you can do, visit http://www.chorachori.org.uk. 

Emotionally drained, but inspired, I left Godawari a little out of sorts. Seeing and hearing what I just had, has given me an insight and perspective that I never thought I'd acquire and I can't say I'd even thought much about. Friday was just one of the many moments I've had in Nepal where I've realised how incredibly lucky I am and how there is so much going on in different places in the world that we are totally oblivious to. Sometimes it just takes a little courage to push yourself out of your comfort zone, to see incredible work being done and then you, yourself, strive to make this world a little better.  

 
 
 
 
 
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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Orphanage Work - Five Days In

It feels like it's been forever since I last wrote a post, but the past three weeks have been pretty crazy. I found out that there was a bereavement back home, so was trying to decide whether or not to come back to England for a week or so; then Sam was in hospital for three days so I ended up staying in the city for an extended period; and now, the girls have headed off on their trek whilst I have remained in Kathmandu. Now as you will know, part of my schedule in Nepal was to trek the surrounding 'hills' (they're actually 3000m so not really hills) of the Himalayas; the girls then wanted to extend the trek so that we would go up to Annapurna Base Camp. I was, initially, up for this - I wasn't hugely enamoured by it, but thought it would be a good experience - however, after trekking Namobuddha and Phulchoki (reaching 2700m) I categorically decided that I get absolutely nothing from trekking. The reason I came to Nepal wasn't for the trekking either, it was to help as many people as I could and when I was faced with the decision of either trekking for two weeks, or working in an orphanage during that time, I chose the latter. It was a hard decision because it meant that I'd be missing out on incredible views of the Himalayas and I wouldn't be with the girls, however I had to focus on why I came all the way out here and felt the orphanage work was an opportunity I couldn't miss. After speaking to Basant (our support system and coordinator out here) he arranged for me to stay with the supervisor of an orphanage in the city and said the money I'd paid to go trekking was being redistributed to my new host family to care for me and was being donated to the orphanage. Even hearing this, make me 100% sure of my decision. 
I arrived at my new host home on Sunday and met my host parents, Anjali and Jagat - Anjali is a close friend of Basant and his wife, as his wife also does charity work. I felt at home immediately, as Anjali was so welcoming and warm and her English is incredible. She explained to me that she used to run her own salon and that a couple of years ago, an English woman came in regularly to get treatments done and they got talking and it transpired that this lady was visiting an orphanage nearby and invited Anjali to come and see the children. Anjali was offered the position as supervisor when it became clear that the children needed discipline and routine; they were rude, they didn't listen to the sisters working there, they didn't study and therefore were failing school. Anjali sold her salon and began working at OCCED (the orphanage) full time, giving the children a routine and becoming a stable figure of authority in their lives. She also told me about her and Jagat's personal stories and reasons that she feels so passionately about working at OCCED; hearing all of this, before even meeting the children and seeing the orphanage, was incredibly inspiring and it was very clear that my host mother is an amazing woman.
I have been working at the orphanage for five days now and I've been struggling to find the words to describe this place and these children. Ranging from 5 years, to 19 years old, OCCED provides a home for around 31 children. Each day I find myself getting more and more attached to the kids there and I'm already planning on when I can next come back. I sat at breakfast this morning with the younger children and looked around at each of them; the youngest child, Suraj, I absolutely adore, and I looked at him eating his food and thought "how could anyone not want him?!" Suraj is five years old and is a 'pure' orphan - this means that he doesn't have any family at all - he was brought to OCCED by a policeman when he was three years old and no one is quite sure what happened to him, as no one claimed him nor could impart any wisdom on his story. Suraj's English skill, spoken, written and reading, surpasses that of any five year old I know in the U.K. He's so extremely clever, polite and kind, and I feel so sad for the parents that have missed out on seeing him grow into, such an already remarkable, little boy. It's proving extremely hard to form these attachments, not knowing when or if I'll see these children again and I've never wanted to adopt a child so much in my life: I can honestly say, that if I was older and in a different position, I would look into adopting Suraj! Yet he is just one of many children that OCCED cares for. The work they do is inspiring and I feel extremely lucky to be a part of it. 
Tomorrow I am due to go to a village to meet the men that rescued children being trafficked in India - I will also be able to meet the children as well. This will be a harrowing, but incredible opportunity for me. I knew that whilst I was out in Nepal I would learn things and experience different lifestyles, but being at the orphanage has given me an insight into a way of life that I never thought I'd be able to experience. 
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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day

 Today is International Women's Day and in Nepal this is recognised as a national holiday, so that means no school and no work! Yesterday in each of my lessons, I spoke to my students about inspirational women and asked them what women inspired them and why. After trying to explain to my class four that finding a woman inspirational, didn't mean being in love with them, I got answers ranging from their doctor to Mother Theresa and it got me thinking about what women inspire me, and why. So here they are:



Emma Watson: A.k.a Hermoine Granger, Emma Watson is the bomb. Not only is 'Harry Potter' one of my all time fave films, Emma has blossomed into one of the most inspiring women who - for me - seems pretty untouched by child fame. In her 2014 UN speech she said: "You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me, I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better." What Emma decided to do with her position as a 'celebrity', I think is incredibly inspiring; as I said in my NYFW post, I believe that when you're in such an influential position, I think you have a personal responsibility to do good with it. I try to be the best person I can possibly be and I have such a desire to help others and improve their lives, hence why I've made some of the decisions I have and why I'm out in Nepal, and seeing the likes of Emma Watson doing work like this, just inspires me to do more - to be more.  "I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights." I see everyday out here in Nepal, the inequality between men and women and it makes me appreciate a whole lot more how lucky I am to live in a country where, for the most part, men and women are pretty equal. Of course, there are still areas that need improving, but I know that I am not seen as inferior, because of being a female. Emma Watson advocates for the fact that men shouldn't be restrained by societal expectations and that being a feminist is about men and women being equal - not about being a man-hating tyrant. Her intelligence and how well she articulates herself is inspiring and she is definitely a woman I look up to. 




Leandra Medine: What. A. Woman. I absolutely adore Leandra Medine; her satirical wit, dry humour and impressive intellect, makes her the kind of woman that I desperately want as my best friend. The founder of 'Man Repeller' - a blog covering everything from runway fashion, to mental health podcasts - Leandra graduated university in 2011 with a major in Journalism, yet 'Man Repeller' (MR) was set up in 2010 and had already established a loyal readership, thanks to the likes of Refinery29 featuring the blog on their site. It's hardly difficult to understand why MR gained a monumental following, when you read just a few posts. Leandra innovated the term 'man repelling' whilst shopping in Topshop with a friend; at the time she had split with, her now husband Abie, and deducted whilst standing in line to pay, that her choice of clothing repelled men. Leandra told the Daily Mail: "Good fashion is about pleasing women, not men, so as it happens, the trends that we love, men hate. And that is fantastic." It's pretty clear that she is a woman, for women. In 2013 she published a book 'Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls' which is probably one of my favourite pieces of literature and also one of the most inspiring. Leandra Medine has stuck to her guns, well and truly; working in an industry like fashion it's so easy to get sucked into the formalities of wearing designer uniforms that look like they have permanent greyscale filters on them. Leandra believes in having fun with fashion and wearing what you want. In our society and being just eighteen, I have gone through - and still sometimes feel inclined - to dress for men: of course I want my boyfriend to think I look beautiful and when I was single, I wanted men to find me attractive, so thought by dressing a certain way, it would make me look desirable. What I've realised - and what I think Leandra is an advocate for - is that when you're wearing what you want to wear and what you feel comfortable in, you exude an air of confidence and desirability that no cleveage exposing outfit can quite match. Leandra has said of getting dressed in the morning that she won't wear anything she thinks that later in the day she will want to go home and change. I find Leandra Medine incredibly inspiring as her integrity in a tough industry is admirable. She's also just really really super cool.

 

Miranda Priestly: "But she is a fictional character!!" I hear you cry, yet ever since I first watched 'The Devil Wears Prada' at the tender age of eleven, I have been indescribably inspired by Miranda Priestly. 'The Dragon-Lady' instilled fear in everyone she came across, but do you know what she also instilled? Respect. As a successful business woman, she was just seen as an ice cold bitch, but the question was raised in the film: "If she was a man would anyone question that? No, they would just see how good he was at his job." That is definitely something that has stuck with me all these years later; Miranda Preistly was respected and was a hard business woman, that committed herself fully to her position as editor of 'Runway'. I have said since the very first time I watched the film, "I want to be Miranda Priestly when I grow up... just a bit nicer." I mean don't get me wrong, sometimes I think she was unnecessarily harsh in the film, but for the most part I viewed her as an inspiring and influential woman that loved what she did and viewed the fashion industry as far more than just pretty clothes, which is something that has always hugely resonated with me. So yes, she may be a fictional character, but for me she is a symbol of all the kick-ass women that put their careers first and aren't sorry about it. She inspired me eight years ago and still inspires me today.



My Mum, Grandmother and Sisters: My Grandma doesn't feature in the picture - sorry Grandma - but these women are probably the four most inspiring women ever. My Grandma has always supported me and she has been through so much in her life that I'm forever inspired by how strong she is and how much love she has to give. I know that if I ever need to hear kind and reassuring words, my Grandma will never fail to deliver - since being in Nepal I have relied on her (and my Grandad, but sorry G-dog you're not a woman) a lot and have always felt a million times better after to speaking to them. My Grandma inspires me to value my family and to love unconditionally without reservation, but to know my worth. My Mum and sisters... well there are few words to adequately describe how inspiring these women are. I am in awe of each of them, every single day. What they achieve and the people they are makes me feel honoured to know them, let alone have the pleasure of being their family. My sisters, although very different in their educational and occupational paths, both follow their dreams, work achingly hard and stay true to themselves. Abi, studying psychology at the University of Nottingham and heading to Sri Lanka to volunteer within mental health in June this year, forever impresses me with her hard work and determination. She has always been naturally talented in so many ways, but her commitment and discipline to achieving what she wants inspires me beyond words. Ellie, who's recently started a new job in recruitment, made the bold decision to leave school at sixteen - a decision I would have been to terrified to take, but one that she has always stuck by and never apologised for. My twin sister is probably one of the toughest women I know - she'll give you a bloody good fight and will always fight for what she thinks is right. Both of my sisters are kind, considerate and beautiful characters, but know themselves and what they deserve; neither will be walked over, or pushed around. They are my sisters by chance, but my best friends by choice. And my Mum... I honestly don't think there are any words to do this woman justice. Anyone that knows or has even just spoken to my mother will agree that she is probably the single most incredible woman there is. I am so grateful to have been brought up by such a strong, kind and brave individual; she has faced many challenges and has been in many positions that I can only begin to imagine how hard they were and yet she is still one of the brightest people I know. A room lights up when she is there and I miss her every single day I'm away, but I can feel her support always. Not only is she a extremely successful business woman, she's an amazing friend, mother, sister, daughter and human being. I am the person I am today because of her and I can only hope to grow up to be like her. My mum inspires me every moment of every day and for me she embodies 'Women's Day'. Thank you for being the most inspirational woman Mumma.
So there we have it: my Women of Women's Day. Here's to strong women: may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them. Happy International Women's Day.
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Monday, 6 March 2017

Hard Helmets and Stretchers

Education is something that I've always been taught to value. I'll admit, I never hugely enjoyed school; I was academic and achieved good grades, but I wouldn't say that going to school excited me. It was only when I began more independent study, in sixthform, that I really loved my education. Sixthform itself, wasn't the best experience for me, but in terms of learning, I adored it. I wasn't able to achieve what I wanted to at the end of the two years, due to being ill throughout the second year and dropping two out of five subjects I was studying, but the older I become, the more education and the concept of learning excites me. Being out here as a teacher in Nepal has been a role reversal; I teach class six - aged thirteen and fourteen, class five - aged twelve and thirteen, class four - aged eleven and twelve and the Primary School teachers. I have never been challenged in this way before; not only am I speaking a totally different language to students of varying abilities, I'm not that much older than the kids and I'm at least half the age of most of the teachers. I remember the behaviour of children at the age I'm teaching, at my school and it's almost engrained in some of them to be troublemakers. I'm very lucky that, for the most part, my students are amazing and extremely well behaved. Today I taught my class six, poetry and focused on 'Love After Love' by Derek Walcott, which is my all time favourite poem and when I gave them the homework to write a paragraph on form, structure and language, I found myself desperately wanting to write an essay analysing something - anything!! 

Two class eight students presenting at the programme.


Shree Shringery (the school I teach at) is a government school, in which some of the poorest children in the community come to, as there is no cost of sending your child here. I've been here for six weeks now and have established some strong relationships with the students and have learnt about their home situations. There are some home conditions that have nearly broken my heart; we were told when we arrived that there would be some things that shocked us but that we couldn't change them, no matter how much it bothered us - we're just here to help. I don't think anything could have prepared me for what some of the kids have to go home to though and it's genuinely inspiring that they turn up to school each and every day. I reflect upon my own secondary school and I have always been grateful to my teachers for providing me with incredible education, but I don't think I ever really appreciated how much we had. I had a fully stocked art department, photography studio with a dark room, separate buildings for each subject, various different halls and different sports equipment, more computers than I could shake a stick at, an extensive library, a design and technology department that provided everything from soldering irons to sewing machines to ovens and I was at a state school. The other girls I'm out here with, either spent their whole education or part of it, in private schools so their school experience sounds completely different from mine again. When we compare our education to that of these kids, they are worlds apart.

The class five and six girls dancing at the programme.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a programme at the school in which we held a ceremony, officially opening the third floor of the upper school building, as it had been damaged in the earthquake. The chairmen and donors of the school came for the event and class four, five, six, seven, eight and ten danced and gave readings. The school was given computers and given ten thousand American dollars to keep working on and improving the school environment. It was a three hour event that was, for the most part, in another language but it was one of the most touching things I've attended. The fact that this school provides such incredible education and opportunities for these children; it provides beds and food for students in class ten so that they can spend extra time at school preparing for exams; it provides a safe place for all and it supported by so many. Most of these kids wouldn't have the opportunities that are made available to them by Shree Shringery and without the support and commitment of so many, it wouldn't be possible. 

The Principle Mudhav Sir receiving computer donations.

Although I'm a huge advocate of education and I adore learning and growing intellectually, being out here has really made me appreciate on another level, how lucky I am to have had, and to continue having, the opportunities I do. Today we had an earthquake drill which was probably one of the most harrowing experiences of my life; seeing ten and eleven year olds curl up underneath tables and seeing three and four year olds walking out of buildings with their hands on their heads, was just heartbreaking. They had to role play that a student had been injured and they brought out just one of the stretchers that they keep at school in case of an earthquake. I felt myself fighting tears as I watched these young children stand with their hands protecting their heads, teachers with hard helmets on and stretchers lying next to the rows of children, as it became horrifically clear that just two years ago, this wasn't a drill. It was extremely sobering for me, that there are so many things, living in England, that I have never had to think about. The children's constant energy, enthusiasm and desire to learn, inspires me to be the best teacher I can be and to bring as much to Nepal as I possibly can.
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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Put The Lighter And Pashmina Down!


Since the traumatising days of GCSE textiles, I can't say that I've had a deep interest in the design and textile side of the fashion industry. When I first began loving Fashion, I was enamoured with the clothes, fabrics and design process and by ten years old, my Grandma had bought me my first sewing machine and I'd made a pair of trousers for my Baby Annabelle. I continued to make dresses for my extensive collection of Barbies, as well as creating different textile masterpieces (or at least I thought they were at the time) as gifts for my family. As I've grown up, my interest has refined to the communication of Fashion and as my passion for this area of the industry has increased ten-fold, my interest in textiles has all but disappeared. This isn't to say that I'm not mesmirised by the works of designer powerhouses and intricate details of spectacular garments, but I just don't have the desire to work in this part of the industry anymore.



This being said, since arriving in Nepal I am constantly surrounded by incredible rugs, tapestries and pashminas and being in a different country - particularly one that is so far removed from your own - encourages an inquisitive way of being. Since the second weekend of being here and the 'is it real, is it not' debate over Sam's $60 "cashmere" scarf, there has definitely been a desire for me to learn about the textile industry here and to learn what fabrics are worth investing that little bit more into. (By the way, we've concluded that there is some kind of hair in Sam's scarf but we're pretty sure it wasn't worth $60 - we live and we learn!).


Nearly every store I walk past in Thamel, displays beautiful rugs, pashminas and other textile goods, but when I am surrounded by signs saying "Human touch me, I'm so soft" and I walk two metres down the street and see the same rug as I had seen previously, for a thousand rupees cheaper, one has to question what's actually being sold.

Nepal's major export is handwoven Tibetan carpets, which along with pashminas, are popular gift ideas for those travelling to Nepal. Having said this, handwoven cloth such as the intricately patterned 'dhaka' fabric, that is identified by its colourful geometric patterns and often used to make 'topi' hats worn by Newari men, and the red-bordered black 'patasi' cotton sari worn by Newar peasant women, are traditionally Nepalese and embody the country entirely. The modern Nepalese textile industry centres around rayon dresses produced for export.

Traditional 'dhaka' fabric in Lubu (the town along from the village I live in).





Pashminas are loved for their lightweight, yet warm quality and are a centuries-old standard in the Himalayas. They are woven of the fine wool of the 'changthangi' goat of the high Himalayas and were traditionally carried down by traders and woven into rich cloth in way-station settlements. Workers now, spin the thread and weave the fabric on special wooden looms, often combining with silk for luxury, a beautiful sheen and durability. 

 

In the 1980's carpet exports from Nepal were generating a third of the foreign currency earnings; for an industry that began as a self-help scheme for newly arrived Tibetan refugees, it didn't do too badly. However, the industry has been hit hard by Chinese competition and scandals about child labour, but despite not being the industry it once was, carpets remain a huge part of the Nepalese economy. Modern carpets are woven from a blend of New Zealand and Tibetan wool; standard carpets feature a ratio of 40 - 60 knots per square inch, while the best have up to 100 knots. The carpets are either woven in private homes, or in factories where the workers sit side by side weaving together, following patterns drawn on graph paper. The hours are long, in order to meet tourist demand. The finished product is trimmed to accentuate the contours of the design and then is immersed in a chemical bath to soften the wool. 



I definitely feel more informed on the textile industry in Nepal, I just wish we knew this before Sam started burning her pashmina to test if it was real!
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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Political Slogans At The Ready; We're Talking NYFW

As London Fashion Week draws to a close, I am still getting up to speed with the antics of New York Fashion Week, and what a lot there is to catch up on! The sensitivity of America's political situation at the moment, set NYFW up to have some of the most politically charged shows we have ever seen. For me, this ignites so many fires of interest and passion that blaze away whilst I watch each model sashay down the catwalk, every one delivering a different message that pieces together a perfect puzzle of meaning for the designer.
I have always firmly believed that the Fashion Industry is the single most influential industry. Fashion is influenced by religion, culture (both of which I am discovering more and more about), societal issues, politics etc. and this is something that was made very clear at New York Fashion Week. I think that as an industry with so much influence, there is a responsibility of every single person within that, to try and make a positive difference in the world. The volatility of the political climate, that has seen Donald Trump become President, Brexit and the Syrian Refugee crisis, just to name a few, has resulted in designers like Prabal Gurung and alice & olivia to make political statements in their Winter / Fall '17 collections. It's refreshing to see such clear statements being made, with complete abandon of the concept of just making pretty clothes. Jeremy Scott, Moschino's creative director, expressed that we have to 'fight for everything we believe in' and this fight seems to be lacking in many political figures, whilst the public are making their fight clear.
Photo source: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/amp.timeinc.net/instyle/awards-events/fashion-week/new-york-fashion-week/prabal-gurung-after-party%3Fsource%3Ddam
 Just today, British MP's and the general public are slamming Theresa May for her, what is described as 'desperate', invitiation to Donald Trump for a State Visit, one in which was extended just a mere seven days after his inauguration. Alex Salmond (former Scottish First Minister) made his feelings - and I believe the feelings of most of the UK - very clear in stating "To do it (invite Trump for State Visit) in the name of shared values was stomach churning. What exactly are the shared values that this house, this country would hope to have?". I can only hope that our Prime Minister had a moment of weakness, rather than genuinely wanting to dance with the Devil.
Photo source: http://www.thefashionspot.com/runway-news/735771-designers-get-political-new-york-fashion-week/
Many say "it's not our President, it has nothing to do with us" which is up there with statements like "I didn't vote because it wouldn't have made a difference" in terms of the lack of social responsibility that makes my blood run cold. Trump may not be our President, but rest assured, his decisions will impact us tremendously. Whilst Prime Ministers shy away from this 'fight', it excites me to see so many political and social statements being made on the runway. Well done NYFW, you give me hope and it excites me that the Fashion Industry is finally exploiting their position as an industrial superpower to make a real difference. 
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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Don't let the bastards get you down...

A week ago today I said goodbye to my favourite people ever, to explore what the world had to offer me and I have never felt so far out of my comfort zone as I did that evening. Everyone was asking how excited I was but I struggled to be excited as I genuinely didn't know what to expect. On the plane I felt calm and completely balanced: I wasn't anxious or upset or 'excited', I just felt like what I was doing was right. Funnily enough, despite asking myself why I thought this was a good idea many times this week, I have always had this really settled feeling of being completely sure of myself, which I've never felt before.


Being here, only a mere seven days, has already made me self reflect hugely and made me consider many things. In the short time that I have been here, I've made decisions that I was too afraid to make before but everything seems so clear now that I have stepped back from my day to day life. The distance forces me to be selfish and encourages me to question what I value most and, consequently, what decisions I need to make to create the life that I want. I'm indescribably lucky in that: I am able to spend four months in Nepal becoming completely engrossed in a community and culture; being accepted into a family; teaching children who value their education immensely; seeing everything Nepal has to offer, whilst getting closer to three amazing girls. Then after four months of that, I get to spend over two weeks exploring Vietnam with my boyfriend, who I adore, and then, I go to Thailand and Bali for a month and a half to volunteer, explore and have fun. And to top it all off, after six months of adventure, I get to come home to the most special people ever ever ever - I genuinely feel like the luckiest girl in the world!


Seeing the culture here in Lamatar, gives one so much perspective on their own life. For example, today I taught three lessons which I wasn't supposed to do, but the children were just so enthusiastic about the fact that Sam and I were there, we didn't need a lesson plan for it to work. When our schedule of teaching was being made, the headmaster allocated an hour at the end of the day for us to teach the teachers English - there is such a sense of wanting to better yourself, but not in a narcissistic, material way. They genuinely just want to provide better education and be able to communicate in English on a more advanced level. There is no superficiality here which was something I was craving back home: the fact that I can go out in socks and flip flops and not be considered weird, makes my soul so happy!! But the honest simplicity of lifestyle makes you question how the western culture of "needing stuff" has spiralled so uncontrollably. I mean don't get me wrong, I unnecessarily bought two jackets before coming out here (I'm no martyr) - I like pretty things as much as the next girl - but I've always known the value of money and being out here really draws into focus what is important.


Unfortunately, yesterday (day six) I found out that a woman very close to me, passed away; because of my travels I wasn't able to say goodbye nor will I be able to attend the funeral and this woman was honestly the most incredible person. I remember her saying 'don't let the bastards get you down' when I was struggling at sixthform a lot and now that is something I live by. My love always has been placed with people rather than things and losing someone you love just illuminates further, how short life can be and that when it comes down to it, those jackets / designer bags / shoes etc. aren't going to be what I'll think of; it'll be where I've been and who I've spent my life with. It's strange that so much clarity can be found when you step outside of yourself and what you're used to. Perspective is everything and being here is just opening my eyes to so much and I can't wait to see what the next fifteen weeks have in store. 
For Aunty Elaine x
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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Real Talk - #WorldMentalHealth365

So yesterday was 'World Mental Health Day' and I woke up this morning to some lovely posts on the old 'gram, hash tagged '#WorldMentalHealthDay' and I was like "shit, I've missed my opportunity to do a post on the importance of mental health" and thats when it hit me. Like with any of these 'days' dedicated to something or someone, they're nice in theory, but why are we setting aside only one day to acknowledge something so serious. I've seen countless posts highlighting that 1 in 4 people suffer with mental illness, so why do we only speak up on one day of the year? This realisation that, actually we've got a serious problem - not in the illness, but in the ridiculousness of a world where Donald bloody Trump is a serious contender for American Presidency, people still aren't talking about Mental Health.
So with this in mind, I've decided to speak out about my own battle with mental illness - a battle that not many know about, because, admittedly there is shame surrounding what I suffer with, however I know that I have nothing to be ashamed of.
Depression and anxiety can be incredibly lonely; I thought that time would heal the wounds that had made me ill in 2015. I had battled with mental illness previously: I was eleven when I began self-harming and suffered with suicidal urges, it was then that I was sent to CAAMHS. I was passed from psychiatric nurse, to counsellor which was traumatic enough for a young person. It was only when I was thirteen that I decided I didn’t want to be ‘ill’ anymore and supressed (although at the time I thought I had overcome) everything I felt and suffered with. Before this year I had seen a total of six different counsellors, nurses and therapists, all to help me battle mental illness. Of course, last year I was terrified of going back to that dark place, which I had thought I would never go back to; I changed my lifestyle completely, in a desperate attempt to ‘get better’ without anyone else’s help, yet I found that each day was harder than the one before.
In April 2016 I fell extremely ill and was in and out of hospital due to an attempt to end my life. I was given various tablets to make me sleep, to calm me down and one to knock me out for 24 hours; these tablets didn’t work and I was erratic and dangerous. I don’t remember much from that weekend, but the parts I do remember are terrifying – it’s a place that I never thought I would get to. I didn’t see a future and I didn’t want one; I just wanted it all to stop: to stop thinking, to stop the nightmares, to stop hurting, to stop being. The only thing more frightening than feeling pain, was feeling nothing at all. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel and the future that I had once been so excited about, stirred no emotions, no feeling. I remember thinking that I couldn’t be helped and that my life was over. I was given the option of being hospitalised or having the support of a home care team and I chose the latter; the support and help I got from the Acute Home Team (MK Hospital) was exceptional and I owe them my life during that time. It was in that April that I found the strength to go to a doctor and contacted a therapist; it was then that things changed.
I had been in an emotionally abusive relationship with a man double my age; he lied about everything: who he was, what he did, where he lived – everything. He was controlling, nasty and hurtful and made me believe that I deserved everything I got. I was also bullied in Sixth Form twice within a couple of months. I was depressed and suffered with debilitating anxiety, where I’d have up to three or four panic attacks a day. When I went to therapy I thought that I would learn how to handle my anxiety and discuss the abusive relationship I had been in, but nothing could have prepared me for the journey that I have embarked on.
It transpired that everything that I was feeling currently, lead way back to childhood trauma and a psychologically abusive relationship, that had shaped my core beliefs and my rules of living. I had convinced myself that I was a horrible person, that brought out the worst in people and everyone would be better off if I was dead. I started right from the beginning to understand why I felt the way I did; why I had such low self-esteem; why I wanted to die. It was then that everything began to make sense: I remembered and recalled memories that explained so much of my adult behaviour. It was incredibly hard to revisit painful memories and there was so much anger, it physically hurt sometimes, but this was where the magic happened. I was made to challenge my core beliefs and question my unhealthy behaviours, making it clear to me that there was another option; that I didn’t have to self-harm. My therapist, gave me the confidence and support to delve deeper into my past and research psychological theories that would help me to understand that negative childhood relationship and why I was feeling the way I was.
I’m pleased to say that after seven months of therapy, I’ve just had my final session. I see a future and more importantly, I’m excited about it. I have come so far and I feel more secure in myself and who I am, than I ever thought I could be. Sometimes, you have to hit rock bottom to start getting back up. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my bad days: I still wake up sometimes and can’t bear to face the world, but I now have the strength and the tools to get up, each and every day and know that I am worth the effort and I deserve to live a happy life. Therapy has given me the tools to know that if I ever begin to feel the same way I did last year, I will be okay; I know what works for me and that even if I take steps back, I’ll never be in the same place I was in April.
I deferred my entry to Northumbria University to study Fashion Communication for a year, to go travelling and in January I am going to Nepal for four months to teach English to children in Kathmandu Valley. Whilst there, I embark on an eight-day trek of the Himalayas, three days’ white water rafting and Chitwan Safari. I am then travelling to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Bali and will be returning home at the end of July 2017 before heading to University in September. Not bad considering I didn’t see a future, all of seven months ago, hey?
Mental illness, manifests itself in so many shapes and forms and you never know what is going on behind the scenes in someone else's life. This conversation about mental health shouldn't be assigned to one day and then be lost amongst the next 364 days - we need to talk about what we're suffering with and know that it's okay. There's nothing to be ashamed of and there is so much help out there, you just have to ask; it doesn't matter how bad things get, you can always get better. When I began to be more open about my anxiety, I was overwhelmed with support and I learnt that so many of the people I spent every day with, suffered with anxiety or some mental illness - something I would never have thought was the case. It's only when we begin talking that we realise we're all in the same boat: if 1 in 4 of us suffer with mental illness, then the likelihood is that we're all going to have been touched and affected by it in some way.
So everybody, lets get talking; please share this with as many people as possible, because the conversation needs to start now!
#WorldMentalHealth365
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