Why millennials are struggling with mental health issues

opinion piece

In a world where we compete to look like we are living our best life on social media, how many of us can honestly say we are truly happy?

Putting on a false smile in front of the camera, teeth gleaming, hair blowing in the wind – all whilst having a panic attack, intense palpitations, sweats of bead building on your palms. Look at you. You’re a walking contradiction. Your 10k followers on Instagram believe you lead the perfect life, but behind closed doors you often have dark intrusive thoughts. Penetrating thoughts that lead you to believe that you are worthless, lazy and a failure.

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Whilst social media may heighten the pressure young people feel to portray a perfect life style, it is far from the only issue contributing to mental health declination. Just imagine being trapped at your parental home until the ripe age of at least 28, working the most tedious job because employers won’t employ you in the sector you desire to work in; due to lack of ‘’experience’’- yet no one will give you a chance to gain experience. £40,000 worth of debt just to educate yourself, which in turn seems pointless as no one will give you a break? Brexit talks heighten the air of uncertainty. Political misdemeanour’s (corporate manslaughter at Grenfell Tower) and austerity push everyone to the limit both financially and socially. Young males being stabbed all around you on a daily basis. This is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on.

Would you want to live like this? Choosing between having children or a stable career? Working full time and still not being able to afford decent food?

Sounds like a really messed up Hollywood film right? Because this is the reality of how most millennials are living right now.

I believe that our generation are struggling. It is not entirely impossible to succeed in the current climate; it just takes a lot of determination and discipline. But naturally we mustn’t forget that all these factors can contribute to a person’s mental state and well-being.  Life in your twenties is naturally a time of self-discovery, finding yourself and who you truly want to be. With these added societal pressures, both off-line and online, it can become overwhelmingly destructive for some people. Individuals will always have personal issues, and these need to be reviewed individually. However, at a time in your life where you yearn to progress and the system keeps beating you down, it is completely de-motivating for young people.

Unfortunately we cannot change politics, or at least the negative trickling effects it can have on us. But what we can change is our attitudes towards mental health. If you see someone updating a Facebook status stating how depressed they are, instead of calling them an attention seeker learn to see it as a cry for help. There have already been so many suicides this year committed by young people. Simple gestures and listening can have the power to help mental health sufferers. We have to keep pushing for change, more recognition, more funding for mental health services.

As fucked up as this system is, it is never going to beat me.  

Yours Sincerely,

Michelle (A struggling journalist pushing for a break)

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Why I love my BMW more than most people

opinion piece

If you know me personally; or if you follow any of my various social media accounts, you’ll be well aware of my insatiable car obsession. I totally get that to non car people I must look like a weird obsessive girl who is addicted to loud cars. To most people, a car is an A to B form of transport and a heap of metal. But to me, and many other enthusiasts, a car is so much more than that.

Let’s set the scene, you’ve had a stressful day at work. Generally you feel downtrodden, fed up with life so you return home and have a glass of wine to unwind. Fair enough right?

Well for me the drive home would be the relaxation. Here are the main reasons why;

1. It’s a passion

We all have our hobbies and passions. For me cars are just that, I enjoy looking at them, talking about them. Pretty much anything car connected makes me happy. And in life you need to channel whatever it is that makes you happy. My car has the power to turn a bad day into a good one, it’s a form of escapism for enthusiasts.

2. Connected history

Although it sounds so cliche, I feel like the passion for cars is in my blood. My grandad was a car dealer, who got murdered in 1989. My dad trained at Volkswagen in Germany to re build Beetle engines. My dads brother is a mechanic. My mums brother is a mechanic. I practically grew up with my parents jacking up their Golf on our driveway, tools and oil everywhere; swear words aplenty. Subconsciously I think this gave me the push to be interested in cars, and once I learnt to drive I never wanted to stop driving. Ever.

3. Freedom

In our modern capitalist world of working to make a quick buck just to survive. There aren’t many activities that give you a sense of freedom. There is no such thing as freedom in our society. But driving can really give you a huge sense of empowerment and liberty. I cannot describe the feeling of driving my BMW on an open road, roof down, hair blowing in the wind and nothing standing in my way. This is not a new concept. The same concept was explored in the cult film Easy Rider; which focuses on the Biker / Motorcycle scene in America.

4. Loyalty / reliability

My car is never going to argue with me. It doesn’t upset me, anger me or let me down. It’s always there for me, whenever I want to escape my reality (fuel gauge depending) I think this is one of the biggest reasons people fall in love with their cars. The sheer fact that it is so much more loyal than any human you’ll ever encounter.

5. Networking

Through my love of cars I’ve been able to meet some great friends. Car forums and car groups on social media allow like minded people to discuss cars. I’ve formed some amazing friendships through the use of these. We all live in different parts of the country, but our love for cars unites us.

Some people may zone out for this part; but there are also specific reasons why I’m in love with my BMW 125i. So it’s a straight 6, 3 litre configuration and it’s naturally aspirated. I’m a purist when it comes to the N/A versus Turbo debate. Don’t get me wrong I’ve driven some amazing Turbo cars, but in terms of reliability and maintenance naturally aspirated has got to win the vote for me I’m afraid. Plus I get zero Turbo lag.

My car has the N52 engine, which is deemed as one of the most reliable engines BMW has ever produced. The straight 6 has shaped BMW history, and I can now see why. It sounds great when you put your foot down, it’s balanced, and it’s durable. You have enough power to put down when you want, but you can also drive sensibly and have a total sleeper. I love being able to switch between the two.

I’ve also got a thing for RWD. I love having over 200 bhp, and knowing that when it’s wet I’ve got to have total control and discipline so that the back end doesn’t kick out. I can’t imagine owning a FWD car. Where’s the thrill!?

Considering that the majority of newly built vehicles have turbos as standard. This type of N/A car is going to become very rare in a few years time. I never thought I’d say this, but I have absolutely fallen in love with this car. Every time I drive it I fall in love all over again. So until my bank balance can stretch to an E93 M3 (V8 NA), my baby isn’t going anywhere.

How to stay motivated as a freelancer

opinion piece, top tips

It’s that question that we all dread at family functions; if you’ve studied a subject and are now working a ‘normal’ job until you are able to get into what you want. Then you’ll fully understand.

‘So what’s your new job then?’

‘It’s an admin job. ‘

It’s at that point they stare at you with both confusion and dismay. But you studied journalism, aren’t you working for the BBC?

Anyone who studies / studied any of the subjects that come under the diverse umbrella of ‘creative industries’ will understand my struggle. Creative industries are highly competitive – and experience based. Meaning, if you are not funded by financially supportive parents it can be very difficult to enter such an industry. Often, journalists are expected to complete several unpaid internships before being able to compete for an entry level job.

Sometimes I feel real low about this. I feel like a failure because I’m not where I want to be. But it takes time. I write, I write as much as I possibly can. On top of my blog that you are reading right now, I’m also doing a freelance internship at The Beauty Guild Gazette (pictured the latest Easter issue).

Which is the most read beauty trade magazine in the industry. But when the stresses of life and your day to day admin job hit you – it can be difficult to keep your sights on how well you are doing and how far you’ve come.

Here are my top tips for any freelancers in any of the creative industries:

1. Networking is key

Networking is going to be your best friend. If you are socially inept now is the time to re think your strategy. Most of my best opportunities to write have come from chance meetings at blogging events. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to meet the right people who can help you. Remember, social media is great – but maintaining and creating a real life connection with someone is sometimes priceless.

2. Don’t lose focus & keep practicing

Set yourself a goal to keep yourself in check. For example ‘I’m going to publish at least one blog post per month’. This helps you stay on the right path, and will keep your focus in the forefront of your subconscious mind. Otherwise, when you are juggling a normal job and a freelance career – it’s easy to get comfortable in the normal job as it becomes a routine. Writing, as with most other creative practices are talents that need to be practiced in order to be maintained. Every single time I write my passion is reignited.

3. Lower your standards

I mean this in the sense of, not expecting to graduate become to editor of Vogue magazine. Of course, we can set our sights and visions high and this is a positive attribute. However we must also be realistic, or we set ourselves up for failure. Have the highest standard of goals, but by realistic of when you can achieve them. You’ll find by comparing yourself to others or setting unrealistic goals only makes you less motivated. Think about your goals and focuses with a logical mind. As previously mentioned, you’ll also need to be willing to do a lot of work for free.

Never give up on your dream.

The truth about getting lip fillers

opinion piece

I feel like people just give you that judging look once you proclaim that you’ve had lip fillers. It’s that disappointed / shocked look a disapproving parent gives to their child when they prefer chocolate over fruit. Why would you want to change your lips? Don’t you think of the consequences? What if the fillers do permanent damage? I have been asked the above questions, and probably much worse. This post isn’t about justifying modifying your looks, I simply wanted to de-myth some common misconceptions that are correlated with lip fillers. I can also offer my personal experience and advice for those who are considering lip fillers.

Common misconceptions and the truth

1. ‘You’re so young, what if you cause permanent damage to your lips!?’ 

Rule number one – lip fillers are not permanent. Depending on how you care for your lips after your procedure, they can last between 6-12 months before the safe substances used dissolve into your face. So, assuming you didn’t like the results – it shouldn’t be too difficult to conceal / rectify or even wait until the filler dissolves completely.

2. ‘Don’t they use dangerous / harmful substances?’ 

The short answer is no. The aesethtic industry has come a long way since silicone was used for breast enhancements. Science continues to change and innovate, and lip fillers are completely safe. Typically lip fillers use Juvederm which is a Restylane facial filler: it consists of  hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring sugar found in our bodies. When it dissolves into our bodies, it causes no harm or adverse side effects whatsoever.

3. ‘What if you end up like Pete Burns?’

To be completely and utterly honest, this one is down to personal preference. There are a lot of people out there, who will ask their aestheticians to continue inserting lip filler – even when they are advised against it and told it will look unnatural. These people are the reason why the general public tend to think that getting lip fillers makes you look ridiculous. However, I am proof that you can get them and continue to have ‘natural’ looking lips.

What is it really like to have lip fillers?

My personal experience with lip fillers (I have only had them once, and been longing for more ever since) was nothing short of great.

The first thing you need to check is that you are using a legit and registered aesthetician. I would recommend Harley Street practitioners generally, or a reputable company that you can easily research beforehand. Often, Wowcher has amazing deals for lip fillers; and they work with reputable practitioners.

Secondly, I picked an amount of lip filler that I was comfortable with. 0.5ml for my first insertion, and the results were pouty yet natural.

In regards to the actual injections, they are tiny and you will have a numbing cream applied to lips before your procedure. I won’t lie to you, the numbing cream doesn’t numb. When the needle is dragging through your skin you can feel it. It’s uncomfortable, but it certainly isn’t intolerable. Your surgeon should make you feel comfortable, you’ll be laying down (probably with your eyes firmly closed!). And because I only had the smallest amount available injected into my lips, it didn’t take too long either.

The recovery is simple, so long as you keep the area clean and moisturised the results will last longer. You are advised that bruising and swelling can occur afterwards; but I was lucky in that sense. My lips healed well and I was very satisfied with the results. It has been around one year and a half since I had lip fillers, and only now I can see the effects have disappeared completely.

It’s a worthy investment if you plan and execute the procedure sensibly. Like anything in life, a little often goes a long way.

How to survive the festive period with depression 

opinion piece

It was at that moment that time stood still. Laying limply in a bath full of water which had long gone cold, still. Physically weakened by your own mental state, moving is not an option. Staring blankly at a blank wall, thoughts full of angst and pain. Angst and pain. 

Photography Credit: Nikita Campbell


If you battle depression or anxiety; you will be familiar with this situation, and these bleak feelings. The bad periods come and go, but I have noticed the festive period can be particularly challenging. 

Photography Credit: Nikita Campbell


It’s a time of year where we are expected to be appreciative, grateful and ‘happy’. What if we can’t keep up the pretence? What if we truly aren’t happy? Society at large and the media don’t cover this. This Christmas I found myself at an all time low, I can’t quite distinguish what was the root cause. I fear it may be a build up from what I can only describe as a very harrowing year. 

How can you make it through the period of happiness when you feel like utter rubbish? 

Don’t get caught up in the hype. I think one great tip is not to get caught up in the hype surrounding Christmas. We must remember it is a commercial holiday, with targeted advertising to sell products. It’s almost too easy to browse social media, or any media advertising and see these perfectly constructed images of how Christmas should be. Whether you are religious or not, we can all agree it is a good opportunity to be grateful for what we do have. And not think about what we don’t. 

Don’t suffer in silence. I believe that loneliness is a silent killer; and anyone who will be alone on Christmas (unless it’s by choice), should try their hardest not to be. You can also help relatives who will be alone by visiting, picking them up or even a simple phone call – it can make someone’s day, contributing to their overall mood. If family are too far away, talk to friends. Failing that, if you get into a real depressive mood you can always call the Samaritans suicide helpline at any time on 116 123. 

Don’t overthink. I have recently come to the realisation that my own brain is my worst enemy. I over think absolutely everything, and work my mind into a stage of anxiousness. I think this can be the case for a majority of people who have any type of mental health battle. Although it’s easier said than done, I always advice finding a release. For example, for me writing is a therapeutic activity that I enjoy. It keeps me busy and inspired. Find your activity and revert to that at times of need. 

Finally, I just wanted to make the effort to say that if anyone is reading this and is having a rough time; I would be happy to talk to you if you need. Don’t suffer in silence. Get in touch. Together we can raise awareness of mental health issues, one case at a time. 

Are commercial brands like Neutrogena suitable for sensitive skin? 

opinion piece

*Disclaimer; I am not a trained cosmetologist or scientist, opinions included within this post are based on my own experience, skin type, research and opinion* 

I know I have previously mentioned all of my hundreds of skincare concerns, however I am going to reiterate for the sake of this post. My skin seems to incessantly hate me, for it doesn’t matter how much time or money I spend trying to love it – it still misbehaves almost instantaneously. The main problem is that I have suffered with acne for the last 10 years, meaning my t-zone is naturally full of oil. I was taking accutane for a year to treat my acne (a very strong drug used to treat cancer and other ailments). This drug severely dries out your skin, so now I have both permanently oily and dry skin. Oily overall with dry peeling patches. So not ideal really. 

Over the last few years, I have tried and tested a myriad of skincare brands and products. And there seems to be one thing in common with a majority of them.  They are super stringent on sensitive skin, and consequently cause an over production of sebum – making any skin issues worsen. You see, if you strip your skin of its natural oils, as a defence mechanism your skin will start to product more sebum (oil). An over production of sebum is what causes acne. This is counter productive to treating your oily skin problem, as you are in fact adding to the issue. 

If your skin feels tight after your skincare regime, you may be using a cleanser containing alcohol. Or simply over cleansing. A lot of drugstore / commercial brands use alcohol within their face washes and toners. 

I recently attended a press event for Neutrogena, where I received these skincare products in my goodie bag:Using these products just emphasised to me how there is an entire branch of the skincare industry misadvertising. If we take the above cleanser as an example, ‘gently cleanses..’ – there is nothing gentle about this cleanser I can assure you. I have attempted to use this cream wash and it totally dried out my skin. It contains alcohol AND salicylic acid. Now, although salicylic acid is known for its acne fighting properties. What these advertisers often don’t mention is that prolonged use can dry and thin skin, and cause excessive dryness. The combination of these two ingredients plus a whole host of other chemicals makes these products very drying. There are also websites where you can check if a product contains irritant ingredients, this is helpful as you can check before investing. It’s important to remember that some of these ingredients are necessary, however try to choose products with less harmful amounts of these irritant ingredients. 

I’m sure that these products may be suitable for those with less sensitive skin. However the fact that some of the ingredients are harmful to skin, rings alarm bells in my mind. 

If you do have sensitive skin, I would avoid brands that make products similar to this. Remember to check ingredients before purchasing. Here are some other tips to stop you from over-drying your skin; 

1. Limit chemical exposure 

If you can, try to cleanse with a plain oil or water. Of course you can use a gentle oil or make up remover to take off make up beforehand 

2. Tone it down 

A lot of toners are stringent and drying. They often contain perfumes, alcohol and salicylic acid. Check the ingredients, and remove them from your skincare regime 

3. Creamy dreamy 

Invest in an appropriate moisturiser for your skin type. Especially for over night moisturisation, this will help to repair skin and leave it replenished in the morning 

The conclusion is that you must be over careful when purchasing skincare products. Always check and research ingredients – and be aware of what your own skin can handle and needs. Every facial wash out there is going to emphasise how brilliant it is – we must learn to read between the lines. I think as consumers we can often become lazy, and we trust certain brands because they have a huge reputation. This does not necessarily mean that they always have our best interests at heart. Products are produced on a mass scale to make money. Sometimes, you have to stop and think about what exactly you are choosing to lump on your skin. 

5 signs you are in a toxic friendship 

opinion piece

There are numerous songs written about the pains of heart break. Losing the one you love, the emotional and physical side affects of people’s worlds seemingly falling apart. However when it comes to friendships, we have more pride. When you break up with a good friend, you act as if you don’t care. When really, it can be just as painful as any relationship break up. We’ve all been there, having had a best friend that you thought would be around forever. Things change and people move on. But how do you arm yourself from falling victim to a fake friend in the future? 

There is no sure fire way to tell a friends intentions, especially at the beginning of friendships. Naturally over time peoples true colours will shine through, until then keep your guard up and your observation on point. 

Over the years I’ve come across many friends and acquaintances; a diverse range of people. It’s difficult to correlate any similarities in my individual friendships with these people and why they turned out to be so fake. It’s hard to pin point. Moreover, there are some similarities that I have noticed. If only I had been warned in hindsight I may not have wasted my time with such individuals. Below are my 5 main signs that your friendship is not as rosy as you anticipated. 

1. It’s always on you 

This is one of the more obvious signs, but it doesn’t always show in long term friendships, as people can get complacent and comfortable. If you feel within your friendship that the effort is one way – maybe it’s time to stop trying. Frankly, if someone who is part of a generation of people who walk around with their phones glued to their hands (sorry to stereotype millenials) can’t find 30 seconds in their day to message you; Perhaps, really you ought to accept that they don’t care as much as you do. 

Wasting your time chasing someone who isn’t interested in spending their time with you can be draining, and demoralising. The only way to stop this is to either approach your friend and discuss how you feel, or simply to stop making the effort. The way in which your friend reacts can often be a sign of how they view / value / don’t value your relationship. 

2. They are severely selfish 

Don’t get me wrong, your twenties are the perfect time to be utterly and completely selfish. And I get that. There’s levels to selfishness though – the trick is to tell who is around because you are of beneficial use to them? And who is around you because they genuinely enjoy your company? 

The reasons why your friends want to meet up, why they want to see you. Will often be a huge giveaway if their subconscious intentions are pejorative. For example: if a friend only contacts you when they need something from you, this pattern will emerge with clarity after the passing of time – try to nip it in the bud to avoid further hurt. 

3. Going with the flow 

If one of your friends seems passive in conversation, they could just be genuinely shy, or they could secretly hate you but despise confrontation? Alarm bells should start ringing in your mind if this person who is supposedly close to you, cannot express an opinion when they conversate with you. That portrays that they either don’t agree with something about you, they are secretly jealous or they talk about you to others. Of course, we can’t spend our lives being massively paranoid – we wouldn’t trust our own mothers. But if your friend exhibits a few of these traits, there could be some underlying reasons why. 

4. Misery needs company 

Good friends will contact you whenever they can, within reason. If you only hear from a friend when they are down, it could be that they just want you as a shoulder to temporarily cry on. This is fine as friends will help each other through tough times, the problem arises when this particular friend no longer has an interest in you when circumstances in their life become happier. This is pretentiousness. This is an example of narcissism. They need you to stroke their ego when things are not going smoothly, when all is well you get dashed to the side like an unwanted child’s toy. 

5. Enjoy the party 

We all go through chronological phases in our lives. The entirety of life is a learning curve. Most people at some stage have a phase of partying in their life – no matter how regularly they go out or how wild they are they enjoy the party scene. The party scene is great for temporary thrills. Sometimes it’s difficult to see amidst the alcohol fuelled nights out and drug binges who your true friends are. Stop partying and see who’s still around? Who wants to actually know you as a person when you become ‘boring’? 

Friends should be around regardless. Regardless if you want to get smashed everyday or you chose to read a book in the library. Why should it even matter? You accept diversity within people, and you accept them for who they are. 

If you have a friend who exhibits more than one of these traits towards you, then you need to seriously reconsider your friendship. It can be difficult and awkward to confront these things, but, as with most things in life – honesty is the best policy. Talk through how you feel and how it can be resolved. Otherwise just leave. Go and get yourself a better, loyal friend who’s there for life. Not just the parties or the good times. Forever friends.