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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The definitive list of Skincare Ingredients

skincare, top tips

Suffering from a myriad of skincare ailments during my 25 years of life thus far has given me a natural interest in skincare, and ingredients used within skincare products.

Over the years I have experimentally tried various homemade concoctions and shop bought products in the search for perfect skin; ranging from grinding green tea leaves with Manuka honey and smothering the sticky mixture onto my face in a clumpy manner, all the way to using a £130 Chanel face cream, and actually being naïve enough to believe it would make me look ten years younger. I believe I have researched, reviewed, tried and tested so many skincare products that I have now become somewhat of a skincare connoisseur. What I have reluctantly realised is that informing yourself on ingredients is paramount to choosing the right skincare for your skins needs. Below I have compiled a list of what I have found to be the most popular and effective ingredients presently being used in skincare.

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A – Amino Acids – Formed to build Creatine, Amino Acids will support natural skin functions. Cells are stimulated to produce more collagen and elastin. This helps to maintain younger looking skin.

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types]

Vitamin A – Topical Vitamin A used in creams and serums is proven by dermatologists as anti-aging. UV Exposure and other environmental factors cause the production of collagen to slow down, consequently causing early signs of ageing. Vitamin A (and Retinol / Retinoid which are derivatives of Vitamin A) ‘’turn on cells’’ that are responsible for producing new collagen, actively fighting signs of ageing and blitzing fine lines (Canyon Ranch, 2018).

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types – Vitamin A can be drying, use sparingly on sensitive & dry skin types]

B – BHA – BHA is an acronym for Beta Hydroxy Acid. This is the structural name for Salicylic acid that can be used to fight signs of acne. Salicylic Acid gets through oil and helps to normalize pores, reducing the production of blackheads and spots. Don’t let the word ‘’acid’’ put you off (skincare acids are not the type that burn through your skin, thank goodness because that would be worrying!), BHA contains naturally calming and exfoliating properties, giving skin a rejuvenating glow.

[Recommended for Oily skin & Acne sufferers]

C – Caffeine – Being a stimulant, caffeine can offer anti-oxidant benefits to skin. It penetrates skin and is ultra-soothing.

[Recommended for those with non-sensitive skin as Caffeine can potentially be an irritant]

Collagen – Perhaps one of the ingredients we are more familiar with, but what does Collagen actually do for our skin? Collagen is a protein found throughout our body. It is produced naturally within our skin, and one of its fundamental functions is to provide elasticity. However, with factors such as stress, ageing, pollutants and UV damage affecting skin over time – collagen production can slow down. Using skincare products with added collagen will help to maintain the skins elasticity and firmness that we associate with youthful skin.

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types]

D – Vitamin D – When we talk about Vitamin D we generally think about UV Rays, However, Vitamin D oils and serums can be hugely beneficial to skin. Vitamin D helps to minimise acne, retain skins elasticity and lessen fine lines. UV Rays from the sun help the body to naturally produce Vitamin D; moreover if you live in a northern climate it is possible to develop a deficiency. You can orally take Vitamin D supplements, or search for skincare that contains Vitamin D.

[Recommended for Oily / Combination skin]

G – Glycolic Acid – Glycolic Acid exfoliates the skin, it is often used in toners / toning solutions. It helps to shed dead skin, giving a natural glow and radiance.

[Recommended for Oily / Combination skin]

H – Hyaluronic Acid – Ah yes the wonder ingredient that is absolutely everywhere at the moment! Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means that it is a moisture binding ingredient. It helps to keep skin plump, firm and younger looking. FYI – it is a naturally found compound in the body, which is also used (completely safely may I add) in lip fillers, hence the ‘’plumping’’ affect.

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types]

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M – Marula Oil – Marula Oil is essentially made up of many fatty acids. Because of this it has the potential to deeply hydrate skin, healing skin and improving elasticity. If used regularly it can improve skin softness.

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types / Particularly Dry Skin]

P – Peptides – When collagen breaks down, short segments of amino acids are formed. These are the tiny proteins and active molecules known as peptides. Peptides in skin care can provide significant anti-aging benefits (Mango Madness Skincare, 2018).

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types]

R – Retinol – Retinol is essentially a large dose of Vitamin A, used for anti-aging in skincare. Retinol, like Vitamin A, will boost collagen production – banishing fine lines and wrinkles. It is important to remember to only use one Retinol treatment at a time, and to use sun protection – Retinol can thin the skin layers by gently scrubbing away at dead skin cells. This can leave skin open to sun damage if you use Retinol daily for longer durations.

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types – Vitamin A can be drying, use sparingly on sensitive & dry skin types /Also recommended for Acne & Hyperpigmentation]

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S – Squalane – Often named as the replacement for Argan and Coconut oil, Squalane oil offers many benefits for skin. It is derived from plants, and the same oil is naturally produced in our bodies. Using it topically helps to main Squalane oil levels as we age. It is also noncomedegenic, which means it is one of the oils least likely to clog pores (Popsugar, 2017).

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types]

V – Vitamin C – We all aware of the health benefits of Vitamin C, as it is often recommended to fight to common cold. But did you know this Vitamin is also a powerhouse for skincare? Due to its anti-oxidant properties Vitamin C helps skin to fight off any oxidative stress. Results show that over time Vitamin C will help your skin to enhance its natural defence system.  Vitamin C is also great for anti-aging.

[Recommended for Anti-Aging / All Skin Types] 

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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.

It’s her own fault…

opinion piece

I recently read a blog post from an anonymous female who had been raped. It was such a powerful blog post, it reduced me to tears; not only that, it reiterated through my mind for the rest of the day. Until it pushed e to a point where I thought, people need to be aware of this. It struck a chord because actually some of the scenarios she described are what women are expected to go through without question.

I’ll give you a personal example; this is rather shocking and morbid, nevertheless if it helps raise awareness I’m willing to share the story.

I was 17, maybe 18 when I decided to first start taking driving lessons. There was a small local driving school which I had decided to use as they were cheaper then the AA.

He seemed rather charming at first. ”C’mon take a seat, don’t be nervous Michelle”. He made a conscious effort to offer me several hot drinks (I had no idea this was a ploy to deliberately ensure I later on needed the toilet), and kept asking if I understood everything he explained. After the lesson as he was driving me home he said he needed to stop at his parents house quickly which was en route. He explained they had gone on holiday and he needed to pick up the post for them. I mean he was a qualified driving instructor for goodness sake, had he just been anyone I wouldn’t have gone in this house.

Initially I said no it’s ok I’ll just wait in the car. But he insisted, and said ”Are you sure? Are you sure you don’t even need to use the toilet at all?” Then I thought, actually I do need the toilet I’ll go really quickly. So I walked in and he led me upstairs, he showed me his old bedroom . To which I politely nodded. When I came out of the toilet he looked like a demon, something had changed in his eyes. ”Can I have a kiss?” he asked, half sounding like he was joking, half sounding angry.

I said ”No, I want to go home now.” At that point I could not have felt more vulnerable I turned to run out the house as I started to think anything could happen to me right now. No-one knew I was in this house.

I turned around to walk down the stairs, but he grabbed and yanked my hair and pulled me back so hard that I didn’t even have time to react.

”I’m just playing with you Michelle, what’s wrong?” He said with a glazed over look in his eyes.

The whole way home was spiked with silence. I didn’t say one word. Call it shock, fear, disgust, anger. I could not breathe one word.

I didn’t tell my parents, I didn’t tell the police. I blamed myself because I willingly went into this strange house with him. But looking back now, I so wish I had reported him because Adam the pervert who is in his mid fourties probably with a wife and several children, is still free now to strike again. And maybe the next victim wouldn’t be as fortunate as me to escape.

There’s a lot to be said from a positive perspective in regards to feminism; we have come a long way since, say, 50 years ago. But in my eyes, there are still some fundamental attitudes which have a long way to go.

Attitudes which we are inherently expected to just sit down and accept; attitudes which are wrong from the get go. And it’s funny that so many men have this attitude, without realising actually a woman raised you. You married a woman, and one day you might have a daughter.

”Boys will be boys”. No, no they will not if you raise them correctly. We have to stop making excuses for sexually forceful behaviour. I’m sure 90 percent of women have experienced a situation where they are saying no, but a man is being persistently forceful. Why can they not respect you saying no? Personally I think there are a number of reasons. One being that for some men it’s not about the sex its about the domination, about seeking an authoritative position as the ”strong alpha-male”. Only he’s willing to do it at our expense. For others,  maybe they are extremely sexually frustrated. Who knows, but the difference between us and animals is that we distinguish between emotions and feelings; and we have this great thing called speech which allows precise expression of thought. So it’s not that difficult to understand someone saying no, and furthermore it’s not even rocket science to have self control to stop.

What’s even more frustrating is the ignorance of some men to try and justify this behaviour. ”But she’s a slag anyway” , ”If you dress like that what do you expect”, ”She enjoyed it though so it’s not rape”. Even if you see a female sauntering down the road butt naked, what does it say about your character if you force someone into doing something against their will. Regardless of what they wear, or their sexual promiscuity. These elements are irrelevant.

Without being too depressing or revealing any details of my personal life; I will confirm that I know people, and I have been in situations as mentioned above several times. It mentally scars you, and that is also why I am able to comment and assume this attitude is so widespread.

I’m not accepting these attitudes and as women we are expected to put up with this, and live with the trauma which we are consequently scarred with after being in situations like these. Everyone needs to be aware of this ignorance and spread the word like wildfire. Because I do not want my daughter to be prematurely sexualised because of misogynistic, forceful attitudes; nor do I want her to be taken advantage of by any male.