Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!!! 🎃 I am currently covered in sparkles and dropping sequins everywhere... Will reveal all tomorrow!


Hannah x

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Professor Green's Suicide and Me


For anyone that didn't watch Professor Green: Suicide and Me, where were you?! Go and watch it on BBC iPlayer now.

The programme was aired on BBC3 on Tuesday, and followed the rapper Professor Green as he tried to uncover the truth behind his father's suicide. It mainly explored suicide in men, focusing on the statistic that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 years old in the UK, and that shockingly over 80% of suicides are committed by men.

As you know, I have a huge interest in mental health, and I also suffer from suicidal thoughts. It was actually of great comfort to me to hear that other people are unfortunately in the same place, as I have felt the way that the people were describing - including feeling dead inside and like others would be better off without me.

I think that Professor Green was so brave to explore his father's death so publicly. The programme is very emotional and thought-provoking, but one of the most honest portrayals of suicide that I have watched. I hope that it makes people understand that suicide isn't selfish, and that someone doesn't kill themselves to hurt others - they must be in a really bad place to do it. And hopefully it will also help people to support loved ones that may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, or help those that have lost someone to understand why they may have done it. And I guess the least the programme may do is help challenge the stigma around suicide.

I'm having a real hate-on-me day today. I'm hating how I look, my body shape, my personality, my lack of money... So I had a good old chat with my mum, who always knows what to say to me to make me feel better. I love you Mum!
Stay positive, work hard, make it happen.



Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Guest Post: The link between physical disability and mental health


I have been in contact with Kate about writing a blog post for me for a while. She writes her own blog at kateeveleigh.wordpress.com and her posts are always beautifully written, so I was excited to read what she sent to me.

Kate decided to write about the link between physical disability and mental health, as she is affected by both, and I found it incredibly interesting to read her post, both as a medical student and someone interested in mental health. I felt like I learnt a lot and now have a little more knowledge on the subject, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!



I have Cerebral Palsy, a neurological disability I have had since birth, which alters the command pathways in the brain and causes muscle tension and involuntary spasms. I use a wheelchair and require support from a Personal Assistant to do most daily tasks, such as using the toilet and shower, and preparing food.

I also have depression and anxiety, which was formally diagnosed about 9 years ago, although in reality, my symptoms began much earlier. I also have a history of self harm.

I attended mainstream schools throughout my childhood, and as a result, I was always encouraged by my family to participate in activities in the same way as a non-disabled child would – activities like Brownies, football, and going to friends’ houses, and as I got older, going shopping and going to the pub. Whilst I appreciate all the support my family gave me, and don’t disagree with their approach, it highlighted that I was “different” and emphasised the need for extra planning – things like making sure the places I went with my friends had wheelchair access – which was incredibly frustrating, and probably contributed to my depression.

I was determined that I wouldn’t be defined by my disability, and for a long time, I treated my physical disability and my mental health as separate entities, refusing to admit that the two were connected. When I attended counselling, I’d focus on “micro” issues, such as arguments with my parents and exam stress. These were important to me, but they were part of a much deeper issue – my difficulty in coming to terms with my disability and its implications on my life.

I have alluded in part to the frustration I feel when certain things prove more difficult for me because I have physical limitations. This manifests itself in the classic symptoms of depression; for example, anger, low self esteem and anxiety. An example that would encompass all these symptoms is waiting for a bus. I don’t drive, so I’m reliant on public transport, and use the wheelchair spaces on buses.  For the “average” person, waiting for a bus might be mildly irritating. However, because I am often prevented from getting on the bus, especially if there is a pram in the wheelchair space, I find waiting for a bus can cause anxiety. I am worried that if I can’t get on the bus I will be late. I get angry at the bus driver who has refused access, often to the point where I am unable to think rationally and lose control of my actions. My anger is so severe that I cannot see a solution beyond forcing the driver to let me get on the bus and getting to where I want to go. It doesn’t occur to me that texting my friend to let them know I am running late would be an acceptable solution, because my low self esteem means that I think that if I am late, they won’t like me and won’t trust me to organise anything else again and therefore this will jeopardise our friendship.

My physical disability has made it difficult for me to find the right treatment for my mental health conditions. In my teenage years, I voiced concerns that I had depression, but these were not taken seriously, as the psychologist I saw at the time said that as my low moods were always “triggered” by external factors, such as an argument, they were not sufficient to be labelled as depression. More recently, although I have a formal diagnosis, it has been difficult to find medication which is suitable for me. Many of the conventional anti-depressions have side effects such as muscle tension, which aggravate the spasms caused by Cerebral Palsy. It is only in the last month or so that I have been prescribed medication from a different family of anti-depressants that does not have these side effects.

Cerebral Palsy is not a progressive disability; that is, the prognosis and symptoms do not change significantly over time. As a result, it is important that the treatment I receive helps me to deal with the emotions that surround my disability in the long term. So far, I have yet to have therapy which has done this successfully, although I have tried counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I believe this is partly because my anxiety is mostly based on very practical fears; for example, the idea that my Personal Assistant will not arrive for their shift, or I won’t be able to find a taxi to the station after a football match and will miss my train. Therefore, the techniques I was taught in CBT are not as effective for me, as there is evidence that these events could happen, as they have happened before, so looking at possible outcomes in more detail emphasises the negative possibilities rather than reassuring me that my worst fears are unlikely. However, my circumstances are personal, and I would not want to discourage anyone from trying CBT if it is recommended to them.


At the moment, I am seeing a psychiatrist who is helping me to find medication that is useful and I am looking into the possibility of starting group therapy sessions. I am also attending wellbeing classes, where I am (slowly) learning to meditate in the hope that I will be able to respond to situations more mindfully in future. My psychiatrist has recognised the link between my physical disability and mental health in saying that I use a lot more energy to overcome problems, and eventually my energy will run out. I don’t feel I can summarise the situation better than that, and I know my recovery will take time, but with the help of my family and friends, I am hopeful that I can reach this point one day.

You can read more from Kate at https://kateeveleigh.wordpress.com/ or follow her on Twitter @campbellscat.https://twitter.com/campbellscat.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Kate for writing a very enjoyable post for me. I am always looking for people to write guest posts for my blog, confidential or not, so if you're interested please email me at hannahvenables19@gmail.com or tweet me @hannahev19.
Success usually comes to those that are too busy to be looking for it.
                              - Henry David Thoreau



Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Zuso launch


Tonight I was invited to go to the launch of Zuso, an online women's clothes boutique set up by two high school friends. The name Zuso comes from the Greek god Zeus, hinting at its masculine roots, as both founders are male. The owners state: “Our mission is to give girls a fresh new bold direction of clothing; we are hand-selecting brands from across the globe to create a new alternative cool fashion. The Zuso Girl is a smart well-kept independent woman, with a bit of bite.”


As soon as I entered the venue at The Old Blind School on Hardman Street, I knew it was going to be a fun event. I was immediately handed a goody bag and shown to the cocktail table, which were provided by The Old Blind School and tasted amazing. I also loved the candy wagon, with free sweets to pick at as we were looking at the clothes and socialising.


I had a look at some of the clothes that Zuso stocks, and was extremely impressed. The brand is aimed at younger women with a smart and contemporary style, stocking unique brands such as Lavish Alice (of which I fell in love with this dress), Ginger Fizz, Girls On Film and Ono Uno.


One of the main reasons that I was looking forward to this event was to check out The Old Blind School. It is a new gastro pub/restaurant that was previously a school for blind children and has always looked so interesting when I passed it. And I wasn't disappointed - the old school has been filled with some stunning decor, with lots of exposed light bulbs and brick work. The high ceilings and old architecture add to the charm of the building - I will definitely be going back soon to check out the food in the restaurant.


It was the perfect venue for such a cool up-and-coming brand!


Zuso offer free UK delivery on all orders, but the best part is, if you are in the Liverpool area and order before 4pm, your clothes will be delivered the same day! If that's not great service, I don't know what is. 


About halfway through the event, the models took to the floor to show off some of Zuso's new collection.


The A/W collection is unique and exciting, and worth looking at if you want to find something special. The prices are fairly expensive, but the clothes are such good quality and unlike anything you could get elsewhere on the high street.


Ellie Phillips, the TV and Juice FM radio presenter, was the host for the night, and wore a gorgeous jacket from Zuso's collection.


The models looked gorgeous - I was in awe of how perfect their make-up looked!


Everyone at the event seemed so glamorous, whilst I was trying my hardest not to spill my cocktail on anything or stuff my face with too many cupcakes...


...But I did have a great time and enjoyed learning about a new brand and catching up with a couple of people. I would like to thank Chic PR, Zuso and The Old Blind School for inviting me!
Do more than just exist.



Monday, 26 October 2015

Physical vs mental illness

Today I woke up with a pounding headache behind my eyes that slowly spread down my neck and into my temples. And did I worry about taking a day off for it? Of course not, I wouldn't have been at all productive.

And yet, when I'm having a bad day with my depression, which is 100 times more often than feeling physically ill (I'm quite robust), I always feel guilty for taking a day off for it. Still. After 7 years of suffering with depression and writing a blog post about taking mental health sick days. And filling in an absence form and writing 'depression' as my reason can sometimes make me feel like a fake.

However I do feel like it's becoming more normal for me to tell my supervisors and teachers that I had to take a day off for my mental health. I also think that because of that, I am getting more support and sympathy, which is definitely a plus. And you know what, sometimes it makes me feel good when I write 'depression' on an absence form and see the person I hand it to look at it - I feel proud that I can own up to struggling, and know my own limits. More often than not they will be genuinely sympathetic towards my illness too.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that there shouldn't be a disparity between taking a day off for physical or psychological reasons. You shouldn't feel guilty for taking time off for the good of your mental health. In fact, I felt like I would have been more able to go in today, whilst suffering with a migraine, than when I have a low day - which just goes to show the effect a mental illness can have on your motivation and well-being.
Give out what you most want to come back.



Sunday, 25 October 2015

My picks from the 2015 Boots Christmas gift guide

Okay, it may be a little bit early... But I am already so excited for Christmas!!! I love everything about this time of year, and the lead-up to Christmas is one of the most exciting few weeks ever. I'm sure I get even more excited each year - perhaps because I'm away from home and appreciate having those two weeks off to spend with family and friends, eating and drinking and enjoying life.

Boots always bring out some amazing gifts each year (and an incredible sale on them after Christmas!), and I always make sure I pick up their Christmas catalogue and go and look at the gift aisle in the shops. So I thought I would put together a few of my own picks from this year's gift guide...




Sony ZX310 AP Headphones (£29.99) (or £14.99 version, without the microphone) 



Seventeen Ultimate Collection (£20 at the moment, RRP £40)

So writing this list has made me even more excited for Christmas - apologies to my housemates, who get the brunt of my early festive-ness. Can we just put our decorations up now?!

Today I have literally stayed in bed all day until this evening - and it has been heaven. I've just slept, ate, and watched Netflix. Bliss.
Never regret anything that once made you happy.



Saturday, 24 October 2015

Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the illuminations


Blackpool is only just over an hour away from Liverpool, so my friends and I decided to take a trip there this weekend. We booked to go to Pleasure Beach, Blackpool's theme park, in advance - so it only cost us £18 with student discount. I had been to Pleasure Beach a couple of times before and loved it, so I was really looking forward to going again!


The weather wasn't great today but because of that the park was relatively quiet: great news for us as we got onto the rides really quickly! We managed to get on every ride that we wanted to, and the longest we had to queue was for the Pepsi Max (or The Big One as it's called nowadays), one of the tallest rollercoasters in the world.


There have been a couple of new rides created since I last went, the newest being the Red Arrows Skyforce ride, which was really fun. We also went on the new Wallace and Gromit ride, which took me back to my childhood - I came away really wanting a fat cuddly sheep toy.


The park was open until 8pm today so we got to go on a few rides twice, including my favourite, Infusion. Infusion is a rollercoaster that has loads of twists and turns and upside-down bits and gives you a huge adrenaline rush.


I really like Blackpool Pleasure Beach as there are loads of different rides - the park isn't only rollercoasters (although there are plenty of these too). The park is also fairly small so you don't have to do much walking from one ride to the next, unlike Alton Towers. Some of the rides are really old and rickety, like the Grand National, but I think that just kind of adds to the Pleasure Beach's authentic charm.

At about 7pm we were all feeling cold and tired after being soaked on Valhalla, the Viking water ride (amazing), so we decided to leave Pleasure Beach and grab some fish and chips to eat, which was the perfect way to end a day at a seaside town.


We then walked a little down the promenade to see the famous Blackpool Illuminations, before jumping in the car to view the rest. They really are very impressive and are apparently the biggest free light show in the world at six miles long - I would definitely recommend a visit if you get the chance.


I have had a really great day but feel exhausted now. Blackpool is a really fun day out if you are looking for something different to do, and Pleasure Beach and the Illuminations are two classic attractions that are must-sees.
Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tries, and a touch that never hurts.
                         - Charles Dickens