[Chatter] At Last, Let’s Talk About Depression.

I think over the last year or two I may have attempted to draft out this post four or five times. As I wrote this very first paragraph for this working draft, it was January of 2018. I knew I wanted to put this up eventually, and I felt like it was approaching the right time to do so. I also knew that I have always struggled to express the feelings (or lack of) in a proper way that feels like it’s doing my experience justice, so in order to get my words out on time, I started early.

Do feel free to grab some tea.

If you’re a friend I have directed to this post, it’s because I’m crap at explaining this in person or even over WhatsApp, especially when I’ve been caught off-guard on a Sunday evening. All this is just me talking about things I have always wanted to talk to you all about but never got the words right for. I hope none of you mind.

Here’s a Trigger Warning for Depression, Self-Harm and Suicide.

For a long time, I didn’t quite relate to the idea of needing a trigger warning (even if I understood the reason for it) but recently I have been feeling extra sensitive towards this topic myself. It’s not particularly graphic or anything, though. If you’re not sure whether to read on, I’d err on the side of caution and not continue.


Firstly, I may as well tell you what the symptoms of depression are. We can spot them together as I back-track through my life. Here it is, the DSM-5 criteria for a diagnosis of depression:

A. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either

  1. depressed mood or
  2. loss of interest or pleasure.

Note: Do not include symptoms that are clearly attributable to another medical condition.

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

B. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
C. The episode is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or to another medical condition.


The earliest recorded indication that I was depressed probably goes back to 2015 when I was still 17. In fact, it was on this blog because I had no other outlet. I’ve always written my honest thoughts on this blog, as bland as my life was, because it’s just not the same otherwise. To sort-of quote one of my old blog posts, pretending is draining. It’s the same reason that I love to share happy things with others and it’s for the same reason that I am a terrible liar.

So I was looking all the way to 2015, the first year of the blog and my first year of A-Levels (Y12), and life doesn’t seem bad. Mundane? Yes. Occasionally, I got angry, and I got stressed, but within what I thought were normal means for a student of Hell A-Levels. I went to work, I slept, I tried my best to manage everything and was failing. I was easily triggered, especially by my school reports, and I clung to my hobbies (and this blog) a lot as a means of coping.

My grades were suffering, and teachers were pulling me aside to ask me if anything was wrong. I said no because, at the time, I genuinely didn’t know. Some teachers thought I was just lazy and lacking effort (which I admit I agreed with). I mention Student Support briefly in this post from April 2015 from when I got sent there instead. They thought I was overworking myself and lacking in sleep (the latter being true). I didn’t feel this was the case as I simply was not getting anything done despite always being at my desk. I was stuck in this spiral of unproductivity, lack of sleep, and hating myself all in abundance. It was mostly hating myself, though.

For quite a while, I thought most of my issues were the fault of the school or the education system. Now, after lots of rational thinking, I don’t blame my school for my depression at all, because how could they have helped me out when I had no clue what was going on, mentally speaking, myself?

In October 2015 (the beginning of Y13 and my second year of A-Levels), I expressed a thought on this blog post about wanting to see the GP about my mental health. This means that I must have been thinking about it for quite a while, prior to that post going up. I had probably at least googled the symptoms and taken the quiz on the NHS site. Note the mental breakdowns (I think this means my negative emotions peaking and crying myself to sleep), and note the P.S. where I mention that I was finding it hard to concentrate. Yet at this point in time, I ended up not going to the GP about it.

I mentioned the breakdowns again in February 2016, talking about stupid school assessments, but this time more casually. I was getting the impression that this was a normal thing, that my feelings were not significant enough to seek help for and that this was part and parcel of being an A-Level student. My emotions were fluctuating, even then, but now it was so long ago I can’t really mention any specifics.

Later, I decided to include less of my feelings on the blog and more of what I was actually doing, so there’s not much there that shows what I was feeling until much later.

What I do remember, though, is that during that school year we studied depression as part of the abnormal psychology topic, and I distinctly remember the lesson on diagnostic criteria – looking at the list of symptoms on the board and thinking ‘all of that sounds like me.’

Anyway, I finished my last year of school, and my A-Levels went terribly (I say that, but I didn’t fail any) and I decided to take a gap year. Despite this, life was not particularly awful – in fact, it seemed like a lot of fun judging from past blog posts. Things seemed okay. I was beginning to branch out with what I was doing whilst making time for my hobbies and, well, widened my horizons a bit.


In the latter half of March 2017, I booked my first appointment with my GP for my mental health. I thought of having this post up on the 28th, a year since the date of my first appointment. It would be the first of quite a few that spring/summer. To this day I am still incredibly proud of myself for doing the adult thing and picking up the phone. I was so terrified.

At the appointment, I wanted to explain things logically to my GP, but I ended up breaking down crying, saying something like ‘I don’t know, I just… I just feel so sad all the time’. The truth was, that was the first major step I had taken to do something about my depression and I felt the impact of the moment – I didn’t know whether any of what I was doing would help, but I knew it was important that I did something.

My GP asked me why I was having the emotions that I had (as opposed to the what of early 2015) and I replied that I genuinely did not know. Where earlier I was comparing my experiences with others and not finding my situation comparable to them, this time I was on my gap year and life really did not seem bad at the time. My depression was, and still is, very irrational of me considering my circumstances.

I went to see a counsellor. It helped a little bit, but not that much. I think most of the change in mindset afterwards happened by itself.


A month and a bit later, I was a week after finishing my medication and my next GP appointment was not for another two days. On the 14th of May, I was not in a good mood, and neither was my mom. We got into a heated spat about something very minor. I broke down in the bathroom, and I saw the open cabinet door with the pair of scissors in it.

Scissors are relatively very blunt compared to other sharp objects, so all I ended up with were some very red, raised lines, and the tiniest beads of blood. It took a lot of pressure and self-hate to make those marks at all, let alone draw blood. Had that been a razor (we don’t use hand razors in this house) I might have ended up in hospital or worse. I spent a lot of time afterwards looking at the marks on my arm, ‘trying to figure out what they mean’, according to a diary entry. The lines are unnoticeable now but sometimes I wish I still had a scar to remind myself always that things were worse before and better now.

However, I wrote a private diary entry in an old notebook after my shower, and that’s enough. This is how I can write about it now because I knew it was a new low for me, and one that I needed reminding of. In hindsight, I wasn’t ready to be without the antidepressants yet, and I noticed multiple times later on that if I didn’t take my medication for a few days my mood would crash pretty badly without any other obvious cause. Needless to say, I tried not to go without them again and scheduled my appointments appropriately for the next few months.


20180211125525_IMG_7703-03-01.jpeg

In September 2017, I started to evaluate my mood on a scale of +10 to -10. My average mood when I am depressed being around -3 or -4. In general, I was feeling much better. I actually hadn’t taken my medication for months at that point but I didn’t feel awful and I didn’t feel a crash as I stopped. I went out with some friends on the 9th September, and my mood was about a +7, according to my diary: “I felt so good. I can’t stress that enough, I’m so surprised by it.”

Then I managed to crash to a -7 which I now have pegged as ‘suicidal thoughts with minor urges to actually carry it out’. I genuinely wanted to jump out of a window, and I was petrified that I would. I couldn’t sleep and ended up writing in my diary at 2:20am, two hours after getting home, after breaking all sorts of rules. It took me weeks to climb back up from that -7. I thought it might have been the alcohol, at the time, but now I don’t think that was the case. It was at least the first time that I realised how sensitive my mood could be to change even if things were good.

Again, nothing was inherently wrong with my life besides my feelings. There was no ‘why’. I had exciting events planned and I was about to start at my university. There was a complete mismatch between my situation and my mood, objectively, and I think that lead to a dysphoria, a ‘state of unease or dissatisfaction with life’ that was really hard to shake off. When people ask me what’s wrong, there’s genuinely nothing wrong, and it’s hard to explain that I can’t control my mood fully even with all my best attempts to do so.

But I did write that night about how my parents can’t be blamed for things. That they worked their butts off and always did the best they could for their kids and that I felt bad they ended up with a crap daughter like myself. It’s strange, because I’ve never felt so comfortable with myself by my own standards but the moment that the other people I love are involved I’m not worth anything anymore. 

That feeling still persists from time to time. I’m working on it.


 

20180211125525_IMG_7703-02-01.jpegSince we are on a timeline, I want to also mention Jonghyun of SHINee as I’ve been meaning to say something about him, too. Never found the right words, though. He committed suicide on the 18th December, 2017 after a long battle with depression. He was a successful performer, y’know – world at his fingertips and all, and he still felt that way. He finished all the preparations for his new album, Poet/Artist, and he even filmed some variety shows. His album was released posthumously. It’s fantastic.

I can’t claim to know what he was thinking. From what I could tell, he had been planning it for a long time, all whilst thinking of who and what he loved and was leaving behind. As a member of SHINee and as a solo artist he knew he was very, very, very well loved, and still chose to make the decision to end his life. I think the album and what he left behind were all signs of that – that he cared so deeply for his family, his friends, and his fans. I think one of the few things that kept him wanting to be alive was just that.

That’s something I relate to. For me, I think my life is small and trivial, but my friends are my world. I would not want to wish the after-effects of my death on them, and if it means staying alive for them, then sure. I think suicide, in a sense, is selfish in that way (I’m not sure how better to word that). What I’m trying to say is, I think Jonghyun chose to end his life as a final act of self-care, and still he was thinking of those he loved by planning his album and his suicide. I am sure he has found his own happiness now.

Again, I cannot pretend I know him, and I just wanted to share some thoughts on my point of view, and finally get it off my chest. I didn’t realise it would shake me so badly. I cried reading the initial announcements on the news, and even weeks later I feel tremendously sad at anything involving him, like Lee Hi’s performance of a song he wrote. I haven’t been able to listen to the final track of his posthumous album yet. It’s a piano ballad. I heard the first few notes and noped completely out.


This brings us to roughly the present day. This section is actually the hardest to write, because I never feel like I have a proper grasp of my feelings until long after the time has passed.

However, I promise you that right now, as I finish up this post before it goes out tomorrow, I’m in a good place. Maybe a little muted, but good. Depression never feels like the kind of fight that is won. 

Most days I’m good. I have things I want to do, small aspirations, almost never a plan. My modal average day is no longer a -4, but more of a 0 or -1. In fact, the week of my birthday I was consistently at +4/5. That was great, and I long for more weeks like that.

Other days, I don’t feel good, but not bad either. On those days, instead of caring a little less, which can be good for me, I don’t care at all. All my emotions seem muted or absent. Sometimes, I ‘slip’ a little, back into that old pit of sad. Sometimes, I feel without purpose or just aimless, and I have moments of sadness welling up in my chest throughout the day. Sometimes, before I know it, a bad day has become a bad week – time can really fly when you’re depressed.

However, since last year I’ve been hyper-aware of my feelings and as such, I’ve been better at spotting these kinds of days and clamping down on them ASAP. I’ve found that the best way to do that is to have all the important crap started and sorted earlier so I can take time out for myself. Then things are mostly OK.

Although sometimes, my wrists itch, and it’s frustrating.

Even now, I have times where I doubt my experiences. How serious are my symptoms now? I am constantly comparing my current mental state to that of last year and I think it might prove counteractive eventually. For example, I often think ‘this can’t be that bad of a day. I have had worse. I have survived worse.’ It sounds pretty good until I remember that I have never been able to justify my awful feelings and low mood days and I’m not about to start. In reality, it’s ‘this is not that bad of a day, but I feel like crap anyway.’

The third type of day is the worst kind. I’m having a good day, and I am happy, and I’m laughing a lot. That’s good. But beyond that feeling of happiness, there’s a pit somewhere and I am still stuck down it. Is it a crap ton of self-doubt? Is it the sense of impending doom? Is it the feeling of knowing that happiness is more temporary than sadness? I hate that I am this stubborn in my sadness.

I have slowly become more accustomed to talking about my depression to my friends, especially the few I love the most because I know they worry about me and appreciate that they do, even if I don’t want them to. Whilst it’s so easy to let a bad day pass and pretend to my friends that it never happened, these days I can just tell them it’s a bad day.

Not all the time, though. I actually tend to rotate and tell one person each time, so they’re not all worrying about me at once.


20180211125525_IMG_7703-01-01.jpeg

On top of that… I’m twenty now. It feels like a happy little miracle. As I told someone one time, ‘my mental health got to a point where I genuinely did not think about being alive for this long. Like I wanted to get better but didn’t know what I wanted to live for.’

As a result of this, I didn’t keep any aspirations over the last few years beyond ‘I want to make it to the end of the day having smiled at least once’.

When I was 13 I had my heart set on writing. I still do, as it’s my Plan A (Plan Ambitious). That said, I wish I felt the urge to be writing regularly and this blog is the closest I am getting to my daily quota of creative writing. My Plan B (Plan Believable) is something more akin to teaching languages, working abroad or working in a field of psychology after I graduate. Perhaps even all three. My short term goals are to study well, save money, and successfully get a study placement in Korea. Heck, guys, I have GOALS. I have things I want to aim for! That’s pretty amazing!

I finally see that I have a life ahead of me. Isn’t that the most terrifying thing?

Thank you for reading this far.

Until next time,

X

[Chatter] A Quiet Evening

I’m sure it happens to a lot of us.

I’ve noticed recently that I go through these phases of being very talkative, oversharing and social, then feeling very very quiet and reserved, and wanting to keep to myself as much as possible. Even now, I don’t feel like writing a lot. I don’t particularly feel like doing anything, actually.

Last night, I was having a bit of an ‘off’ evening where my mood was really low for no reason. I was struggling to take care of myself and had finally pushed myself into the shower, and forced myself to do my skincare and brush my teeth. As a bonus I even body-buttered myself. But on these days I also feel this strong urge of not wanting to sleep, and it was past midnight at this point.

This is a rather regular occurrence for me, by the way. I usually just try not to work against it and take some ‘me’ time without guilt and, when sleep takes over, the feeling lessens in the morning and I can take things from there. These phases pass. I am working on a long post about my depression, for later this month. In writing it, I realised how much this blog helped to track my emotions, so I do want to be talking more about my own emotions here.

Anyway.

I took out my deck of tarot cards. I was partly inspired by Alice’s post here, where she had her cards read, because it got me thinking, and reminded me that I have a set of cards. Do check out her blog – I find it very fascinating to read about her experiences living in Japan as someone who wants to live there one day or at least study abroad in Korea.

I’m not a heavy believer of tarot and I am obviously not a skilled reader. If anything, the cards present more questions than answers. However, I like to use them as a source of ideas and reflection, and they sometimes offer a new perspective on a problem I have.

I’ve been meaning to invest in a Rider-Waite deck and may actually get around to it soon. My current deck is just a small introductory one my friends picked out for a birthday once, but I really like the small size and its design.

A card that represents a part of my past that may be influencing my present

10 of Wands

Wands represent energy, growth and personal enterprise. The picture on this card depicts a man carrying a lot of sticks. I think it suggests a heavy workload. It brings to mind the idea of taking on too many new challenges and not being able to handle them all. Also, as you all know, I keep a lot of hobbies although I am not active with all of them at the moment, and this card is also making me think of that.

A card that represents the present situation –

Temperance, reversed

The image depicts a woman pouring something from jar to jar, amongst vines and a tortoise and a hare. It reminds me of how I like to be busy (the hare) but also need time to take it slow, like with my talkative and quiet periods (the tortoise).

Temperance means self-restraint. In particular, voluntary restraint or self-moderation. Mine is upside down, which could mean the opposite, or it could emphasise the normal meaning. To me, it means something is abnormal here. Am I too controlled or too uncontrolled right now?

I’m not fully sure what it could be referring to as there isn’t anything, in particular, I have been practising extra restraint or freedom in. Perhaps it could be about my mood, which is often out of my control and definitely was last night… but I find that to be too convenient of an interpretation, perhaps.

A card that represents an issue of the future

the King of Swords.

The picture depicts a king with grapes and a fox.

This card represents independent judgement and rationality, two things I can lack at times. Swords represent interaction, communication as well as intellectual pursuits, so I usually take the meaning in the context of work and study. This card suggests that I might improve in these aspects or that opportunites will arise in which I can, and this will be something that challenges me in the future.

A card that represents what can be done in the present to prepare for the future

2 of cups, reversed

The picture depicts a boy and girl holding a wine on which cups rest. SIGH. Cups in general represent the emotional and relationship side of life. I assume this card means relying on others for emotional support. This card could also be advising me to keep things light-hearted with a focus on relieving tension.

So, these were just a few things for me to think about and pass the time with. I’m always a little surprised at how applicable these can be and what I can learn from these despite not reading seriously.

Have you ever had a look at tarot card reading?

Until next time,

X

[Chatter] Re: Exams

Hi everyone!

If you’re doing A-Level mocks or modular university exams, then exam weeks are upon us and I wish you all luck! Some of you have probably even finished now so I hope they all went well. My own exams start just as this post goes up and end on Friday.

Exams have never been my strong point – let me point you to the gap year that resulted – but I think I have ways to manage now. I tried to put in a little extra effort as soon as possible to account for the inevitable week-long slump (which happened. I think it’s passed. I sure hope so). Luckily my course is assessed through a variety of methods (compared to exams I love a good essay) and although these exams are still 75-85% of their respective modules it’s still a bit of weight off.

I’ve been sleeping less well recently. Some nights I just struggled lying awake, other nights I genuinely had to chant ‘bed, bed, bed’ to myself whilst still scribbling down a couple (okay, another paragraph) of words. It’s revision guilt. It happens. I never feel like I’ve done enough. I never really feel ‘stressed’ in the same way that others do as I feel so calm even now, but then I worry about not being worried.

The only way I have found to help combat that a bit is to go do a chore or something I’ve been putting off. Shake things up. Move around. But I’m even struggling to get my skincare routine done. I’m still scribbling down notes for some reason. But anyway… I usually get to bed in the belief that the next day will be better. That’s the mindset to keep.

But it’s so, so important for me to get nine/ten hours sleep and I’ve only been managing 7 on average. I would say 7 is recommended for a barely functioning Swanna, but nobody wants that. 8 is pretty good because I feel less like crap. If I only have 6 my immune system also doesn’t do too well and I will suddenly catch a cold (which I am generally pretty resilient to. I used to be that kid that was never ill.)

As a result of all that, I think my general mood took a hit but when I think about it my mood does do a bit of a consistent dive before my period starts anyway… Since getting treated for depression I’ve remained hyper-aware of how I am feeling and what contributes to major or concerning changes in my mood and I have been putting things in place to help with that.

So, if you have an exam, have you planned an after-exam treat yet? It was actually meant to be the Paramore Birmingham concert, for me, but due to timings that ended up being actually right before my exam week (!!) but my current treat is Pierce Brown’s book signing at the end of the month. No doubt I’ll find a way to get food or buy something nice immediately after my last exam too! But yeah, I always plan some kind of event and keep it there, set in stone. Make it a lil special.

Remember to look after yourselves and prioritise your mental health over your mental ability. There’s nothing that worries me more than people who survive off three hours of sleep (if you’re reading this, you know who you are!).

Until next time,

X


Days since last buying lipstick: 21
Lipstick worn today: Maybelline Creamy Matte in Brown Sugar over MaxFactor lipliner in Red Rush.

Battle of the Hydrocolloid Patches

 

Hydrocolloid patches have been quite popular as of late as a great way of treating open pimples if, like me, you have a really bad habit of popping them or you’ve had some old pimples come to a head and stuff.

Amongst the AB community, the CosRx Acne pimple patches hold a high place of esteem for many people, but for those who need to use them really often it might not be the most purse-friendly patch. I think if I used them as often as I truly needed them, I’d have no money come payday. Simple as that.

That was my motivation for actively searching for alternatives. Both of the ones I found are not intended for use on spots, but they’re still hydrocolloids.

CosRx Pimple Patches

These come in a sheet of 24 round patches, with 9 large ones, 10 small ones and 5 medium ones. These cost £4 separately on Jolse’s site whilst they cost about £12 for a pack of four sheets.

These are the thinnest patches of the three and by comparison, the most translucent and a good choice for wearing out if you need to. These also must be ordered online as they are from a Korean brand, so if you are not comfortable with ordering online this could be a no-no.

Compeed Heel Blister Bandages – Medium (There doesn’t seem to be a large)

The Compeed Blister patches come in a little plastic box of five oval-shaped patches, as these were designed to stick to the heel. The instructions state not to ever cut them, but I have… The patches are thinner around the sides and thicker in the middle of the patch, but the entire patch is sticky. They are stickier than CosRx’s patches.

You can find these in Boots and Superdrug for about £5, but at the discount toiletries store in my local shopping centre, it was £3.24 or something, so it’s worth having a look into places like that to see if they sell them.

Boots’ Blister Bandages

With Boots’ pack, you get five patches, three that look about the same size as the Compeed ones and two Jumbo sized ones, and a pack costs £5 for theoretically more area of patch. The Boots stickers consist of a hydrocolloid centre and outer rim of sticky plastic. Without the sticky plastic the hydrocolloid isn’t going to adhere well to the skin – and renders most of the patches useless in that aspect. A shame, really, and with that I am effectively ruling them out of comparison. I think I’ll only use mine up if I get a full-cheek breakout, or even better, actual blisters!

So basically the rest of the review is on the other two options.

Visibility – I think the CosRx ones, because they are so thin, would be better for day use as they are thinner and less noticable. The thinner sides of the Compeed patches may also do as well but looks a little uneven, and the patch is less clear.

L-R: CosRx Master Pimple Acne Patch sheet, Compeed Heel Blister Bandage, and Boots Blister Patches in small and large.

Adhesiveness – I find that the Compeed patches stick far better than the CosRX, but the Compeed does hurt a little as I’m peeling it off. The CosRx ones, I’ve mentioned, are thinner so better for day use as long as I’m not sticking them around the mouth, because they don’t stay stuck if I’m moving that area of my face all the time. Also, the Compeed is so adhesive I once put it on some pimples at a head, and I basically broke the pimples when I peeled them off.

I would be worried about putting the Compeed patches on for long periods, i.e. putting them on for hours and replacing them again and again, because they stick a little too strongly and might irritate the skin. I’d say they’re good if you’re indoors during the day, but after using them I’d either leave them unbandaged overnight or replace them with CosRx patches which are less painful. I say this because I feel that the patches do an alternate day job of stopping me from popping and scratching at my pimples (I just press on the sticker instead, ha) and I do this far less often at night, of course.

All in all, I think both the Compeed and Cosrx patches have their uses, but I don’t think I’d recommend the Boots bandages for spot-healing.

To Conclude:

  • I can wear CosRx without many noticing, as it is clear and thin. Compeed is thicker and less clear, and very noticeable when on skin.
  • CosRx is less adhesive than Compeed and will fall off if around my mouth area where most movement happens.
  • Both absorb about the same amount of product.
  • I get more patch area for the price with Compeed.
  • You can get away with using Boots patches at night but I get far less moneys’ worth.

For an everyday usage I’d recommend the Compeed but I like to have some CosRx just in case I need the transparency – I just buy and get through it a lot less.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed today’s review.

Until next time,

X


Helpful short-link to this post: http://wp.me/p5Blh9-Bv

Reflection: Summer Holidays 2015 (Part 1)

After writing a reflective post on my Psychology Summer Project, I realised that I really liked writing it and it gave me a chance to think about things. This reflection of my summer is split into two parts: Part 2 is about my Summer Job at Clarks and Part 1 is about everything else, which makes it more depressing…

I spent all of my summer holidays working part-time for two places. The first was at my Mom’s nail salon. Normally when I go up there I answer the phone and do the little odd errands like setting up the Soak-Off bowls or making tea, but recently I have been practising the art of doing actual acrylic nails. This involves using a special brush to dip into nail liquid, then the acrylic powder, than quickly manipulating it on the nail to create a smooth layer. This was really difficult, although I did make a lot of progress in one week.

As the store began to get a bit busier as all of Mom’s clients went on holiday, I began painting nails, mostly for Mom’s new colour wheels as well as my own nails. I learnt how gel polish works (it’s like magic, like woah) and tested out unusual and unpopular colours.

The only downside is that I did get paid something along the lines of £2.70 an hour, below minimum wage, but this doesn’t include transport (hitching a ride with Mom) and food money. Plus my parents never did pay me before so I consider this a promotion. Plus they’re my parents.

On the other hand, I had my part-time summer job at Clarks which paid much better. It was back to school season, which means parents are coming in for their kids’ new shoes for the upcoming school year. Depending on how busy it was and what roles we were allocated to that day, I measured little feet and big feet, and fitted shoes for a lot of those feet. My experiences at this job will all go in the second part to this post.

In the middle of all this was A-Level Results Day. My AS-Level grades, despite the support and reassurance from plenty of people, were disappointing to me. However, at the same time I pretty much expected this based on my unproductive attitude towards my work all year. I am surrounded by plenty of friends who seem like they doss the entire year away and then gain As at the end of the year and it has only really sunk in now (I became properly aware of this last year during GCSEs) that I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE THAT CAN DO THIS. It’s a very frustrating thing to know, as even my brother can do this. Like, what happened with me. (I understand there’s supposed to be a question mark but it’s a very flat question so I thought a full stop would suffice.)

So, this year I will probably be retaking a number of exams in order to pull my AS grades up. I am only certain about one exam so far, which is Chem2 (I did well on the other two units and flunked this one). For the other subjects that I’m taking this year I did equally okay + badly on all the exams so it is up to my discussions with my teachers to decide which ones I do, eventually, retake.

I am not feeling anything towards this school year. No nervousness, no excitement, absolutely no positivity, nothing apart from not wanting to return to that Hell. There is a little thought at the back of my head which is telling me to kind of make the most of what I have and do the best that I possibly can from here on out. At this stage, I have no long-term aspirations – I just want to get through to the end of the year in one piece (same as last year, and I barely made it), get onto a Psychology course that is ideally in a university not at home, but no more than an hour and a half away, and then see where to go from there.

There are plenty of more frivolous dreams that I would love to chase up, such as writing (this blog is my idea of keeping up with that. I am also considering a separate blog for short fiction.) and living in Japan and improving my artistic skills. I meant to do all that this summer. There is been small progresses in world development and Japanese Grammar but even more recently I have been so exhausted without much energy to spare for anything.

I have been eating more healthily and have noticed a positive correlation between the fattening foods that I eat, and the spots on my face (besides the hormonal wave). My mom is on a strict diet and she’s been making more of everything so I can have a go – almost no carbs and definitely no fats, more veg and more meat/low-fat dairy, i.e what a good, regular healthy diet [almost] looks like. This was interrupted by a brief stint of having McDonalds twice in one weekend and my face hates me for it.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen an increase in energy level and my mood plays a bigger part in this than I thought. Yesterday I was irritable or even downright bitchy and it showed early, in my walking speed. The morning walk that day took an hour, whereas this morning, I was feeling positive and more determined to do something better with my life, and finished my walk in forty minutes.

I wasn’t planning on rambling for so long about my health as it was so recent, but school hasn’t started yet so in my eyes (which can see grey clouds out of the window) it is still summer. Kind of.

X

Free Graze snack box! (Review and code)

(Scroll down for a friendcode for a free box, as well as your 5th and 10th if you decide to continue your orders! You have to give payment details but it’s really easy to stop orders if you want to.)

(Disclaimer: I was not paid or anything. I just ordered my free box and I’m giving an honest review of my experience.)

Graze are a snack company that deliver healthy snacks (although they have a treat range too) to your door. They are often doing ‘free first box’ deals, and whilst I know that we should always be cautious of online deals (my dad got duped once), my curiosity got the better of me and I ordered my free box (I am a sucker for freebies). I ordered it on Wednesday, they packaged it and sent it off on Thursday and it arrived on Saturday… so, pretty quick!

(Sorry, US residents, but as far as I know they deliver nationwide in the UK only!)

The boxes are conveniently letter-box sized so that they are delivered with your post. I chose to order a ‘light box‘, where all the snacks chosen are under 150 calories… surprisingly, the selection was still big.
   

The snacks they send are usually a random selection based on your ‘try’, ‘like’, ‘love’ or ‘bin’ ratings. All the snacks are set to ‘try’ by default (you shouldn’t be picky with things you’ve never tried) but if there’s something you really really despise then you can ‘bin’ it, but if you want it in your next box there’s an extra ‘send soon’ tick box!

In my free box, I received the Banana/Hazelnut Bread with their Afternoon Tea Infusion (a tea bag) , the Veggie Sushi Plate, the Rhubarb and Custard and the Roasted Pistachio Nuts. They’re not all what they say in the titles but the graze website does list the things in each mini-box in full so you know it’s not real custard or salmon sashimi.

I can tell you all now, that as I type, three out of four snacks have been demolished and I am munching on my sushi plate. I’m the sort of person who eats almost everything, so the format of these boxes with the surprises and the healthiness is my thing. Unfortunately, my sister can’t eat half of the available snacks because of her specific nut allergies, so if you also have nut allergies you’ll probably want to avoid these snacks.

At full price, this is £3.99. Graze also do loyalty offers and things that make it even more affordable than it already is. Plus we ran out of snacks at home so the free delivery to your home makes it very convenient. I will probably be buying from Graze again, just not that often, and only when I need to or feel like trying something new.

X

P.S. I have two kinds of codes available. One is the reward code, for 1st, 5th and 10th boxes free (this brings down the price to around 2.79 per box if you buy 10 boxes!). Here’s a special link with the code: https://www.graze.com/uk/p/XUANV6QCU
(I get a reward for this one, so it’s win-win.)

The second code is for a £5 voucher. This pays for your first box and about £1 of your next, or just £5 off a sharing box (worth £15). I don’t get a reward for this one but it might be more convenient for some of you. Plus I have only two of these and it’s only valid for 1 person at a time. If you’d like this one, email me here: twentyswans@gmail.com and I’ll reply with the code. It’s first come, first serve.
P.P.S. Remember to stop your orders if you only want the one free box, or payment will be taken for the next one!!!