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Halloween 2017

Halloween is my absolute favourite holiday of the year! 

I normally celebrate Halloween by taking my younger siblings out trick-or-treating with my friend Mara, before coming home to watch scary movies, and topping the night off with a midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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Halloween 2013!

Given I’ve moved to uni and couldn’t feasibly come home, my first Halloween in York was a bit of a big deal for me. Unfortunately, none of my friends had plans, as most had 9am lectures or had been out at the weekend. Rather forlorn, I accepted my night would consist of cheesy Halloween flicks in bed on my lonesome, reminiscing about the weekend, when I saw my little sister Lilly and we carved a pumpkin and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas together.

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Our pumpkin! (Frame copyright held by Facebook, I sourced this photo from my dad)

I attended university in the morning. My seminar focussed on an assignment I seriously need to stop neglecting. #studentlife

I had an hour’s gap between the seminar and my training to be an Academic Rep for my course. (My role basically consists of feeding back students’ opinions to the staff running our degree). I picked up a falafel and sweet potato wrap and a cup of tea from the uni cafe. (The 20p discount because I used my own cup was a nice surprise). To fill the time left, I went to visit my friend Aneesa, as I knew she was running a stall in the SU to raise money for Islamic Relief.

As I chatted with her, I told her I was feeling a little blue that I had no plans to celebrate Halloween. She very kindly invited me along on her night out! I had a really fantastic night!
After I got home from uni, I headed to Sainsbury’s with my flatmates in a quest for fake blood to piece together a last-minute costume. Sainsbury’s were flat-out of fake blood, and I got roped into buying toilet roll for the house, which in hindsight I suppose i could have made into a mummy costume haha.

Luckily when we got back from the trip, one of my flatmates’ girlfriends kindly gave me her left-over fake blood. I delved into my wardrobe to piece something together, and don’t think I did too bad a job.

As I did my makeup (a skill I’ve been aiming to develop recently – thankfully my friend Liv taught me the basics when she came to stay on the 22nd), I danced around the room to spooky tunes, before settling down to eat a burrito and FINALLY watched Stranger Things Season 2.

At about 9, I met Aneesa and was introduced to her friends Nafeesa and Hasnat, and her sister, also called Nafeesa. They were all really lovely and we popped to SPAR for Fanta before heading to the house party. Nafeesa and I chatted for ages; she told me about her travels and teaching degree.

We eventually headed into town and danced away at Stone Roses Bar. The experience was somewhat surreal – all these people dressed fantastically as Harley Quinn, pumpkins, zombies, John Travolta, vampires, bananas, cowboys and mermaids, drinking cocktails and dancing. Another part of me wished that that was how everyone always dressed! Everyone looked amazing!

At about 12am, we walked down to meet Aneesa’s friend at the train station, before grabbing McDonalds on the way home. They all walked me home before heading back to Hasnat’s. (I was invited along but way too tired to face it!) It was really lovely being on a night out with Muslims as there was no social pressure to drink and we all had a really good time without having to get drunk.

After getting settled in bed, I fell asleep watching Miranda on Netflix. All in all, a very lovely way to celebrate my favourite holiday!

As today marks the first of November and I did a post at the beginning of last month, I thought I would reflect on my October goals that I set for myself now.

My fundraising for St Gemma’s isn’t going quite at the pace I would like, but I have gotten support from the Careers/Volunteering department at uni and had a meeting with Ashleigh (a member of their staff) today. Ashleigh made some great suggestions and has helped me devise a fundraising plan!
I’ve continued working hard towards my degree, and I’m super excited to start as an Academic Rep. Admittedly, I need to buckle down and sort out my assignments instead of procrastinating. I’ve also been busy with blossoming friendships, and spending time with Liv and my family. I’ve been trying to promote YNC as well.
October has been a really great month for me, and I saw it out having lots of fun. Bring on everything November has to offer!

-A x

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Rambling · Uncategorized

Hello October! – 2017

Today marks the first day of October 2017!
Next week I will have been at university a whole month, which is very exciting.

I will hopefully be travelling home at the end of the month to celebrate Halloween with my family. Halloween is my favourite holiday and I am super excited!
Let me know if you have anything cool planned for this spooky celebration!
I’ve been fascinated with Halloween since I was a kid, as according to some, it’s a time when the veil between the living and the spirit worlds is at its thinnest ~ooooh~

Death is something we as a culture seem to have a very complicated relationship with. One of my goals this month is to apply myself more to my fundraising for my Great Wall of China trek for St Gemma’s Hospice, where my grandad John sadly passed away in 2015. October is also Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness month, which is a rather taboo subject that needs to be discussed more. That said, I have little experience with this deeply emotional and saddening topic, so would suggest SomethingRosier or OneDayofWinter who have much more meaningful contributions when it comes to infant loss. It’s a horrible, heartbreaking thing, but it does happen and it NEEDS to be talked about.

My additional goals for October include continuing to work hard towards my degree, and making the most of the beautiful Autumnal weather going on currently. I aim to continue exploring my faith and identity, and to reach out to people more. I’ve been struggling to ‘put myself out there’ due to my anxiety. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Benj as he’s my rock and I feel comfortable with him. But this means I haven’t been pushing myself to try make friends. Last night, I went to the Student Union with some members of the LGBT society, who were all super lovely, so I am hoping to build a connection with them and start attending the LGBT society regularly as I’ve been ‘chickening out’ of going to meetings.

October is such a beautiful time of year, and I’ve very excited for the opportunities and adventures it has in store for me.

-A x

Rambling · Uncategorized

Moving to uni!

On September 9th I moved to York to start my university-career and I have been busy as heck since then!
That faithful Saturday was spent unpacking, and I had a sleepover with my friend Jas at her accommodation as none of my flatmates had moved in and I went too nervous to spend the night alone. I’m glad Jas took pity on me and let me stay with them haha.

On the 10th, my flatmates moved in and I spent some time socialising with them. They all seem really nice, which is relieving seeing as i’m living with them for the next year!
On the 11th, I went to my first lecture, which was very chilled out and mainly just ice-breaking activities and an introduction to the course.
I went for lunch with some of the girls after the lecture, and met one of them, Melissa, for drinks on the Wednesday evening of that week. I also attended my first Quaker meeting in York on Wednesday the 13th which was really lovely. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly!
On the Thursday 14th, Benjamin came to stay. I treated him to cupcakes at Crumbs Bakery for breakfast on Friday and we bought each other promise rings to celebrate our anniversary ❤ I had a short lecture at lunchtime, and afterwards, Benj and I joined my course peers and tutors at the pub as a ‘getting-to-know-you’ activity.

I spent the weekend with Benj. A text from Melissa triggered a spontaneous night out in Hull at Spiders nightclub. It was a lot of fun, and it was nice to have Mel to travel back to York with on the Sunday. Our bus was snazzy as heck, it had free wifi and a table. (Yes I’m very impressed by a bus!)
Monday the 18th brought with it a lecture, and a boatload of homework. I felt somewhat overwhelmed by how much work we had to do already, but I cracked on with it and got it all completed on Wednesday, before nipping across the Coffea (a cute cafe near my uni) for a brew and a chat with the lovely lady who runs it.

So far I am loving uni, even though it’s a bit chaotic. My course seems to be the perfect course for me, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m still finding my feet, but I’m settling in nicely.

Rambling · Uncategorized

What I’ve done this month – August 2017

Despite my best intentions to be more regular in updating my blog, I’ve been super busy this past month. So I thought I would post about what I’ve been up to since my last update.
As my last post shows, I spent the first weekend of August hanging out with Benjamin, my boyfriend. My month has consisted mainly of hanging out with Benj, working, and getting prepped for uni.
Highlights of August have included:

August 11th – I was given the day off work so I spent the day with Benj for his birthday <3. We hung out with his mum, gran and sister, visited a cute cafe and had a chippy tea. It was a very cute day celebrating my love turning 19 and he was super happy with his present: cereal, an umbrella and the new Cribs record. I had planned to keep the vinyl a surprise but being the Cribs Superfan he is, Benj was about to buy it when I decided to tell him I’d bought it haha.

August 15th – I spent the day at Harewood House with Benj and his family. As part of his birthday present, I bought him a penguin feeding experience. It was amazing to feed the cute lil penguins with him and spend time strolling through the historic house and gardens!

August 17th – August 17th was the dreaded A level results day! I’m really proud of myself for achieving B, B, C in my A levels! To celebrate, I went to Spoons with Benj and a few friends, before we all headed back to mine for tea and fig rolls B) It ended up being really quiet – of the twenty people invited, there was just me, Liv, her boyfriend, Liv’s friend Hannah, Isaac and Benj. But it was really nice to hang out with them, listen to music and chill. I couldn’t think of a nicer way to celebrate the end of A levels.

August 19th – I slept over at my lovely friend Katya’s. We watched crazy Russian movies, drank and had a good laugh. Miss her lots.

August 22nd – I spent the day in York with Benj, as I had two job interviews there. (Unfortunately I didn’t get the jobs!) But we had a lot of fun. We scouted out some great cafes, and Benj was given a free coffee by the owner of a small cute cafe near the YSJ campus so it’s now a firm favourite.

We set off early in the morning in order to be there on time. We snooped around lots of shops and I bought a cute new jumper for uni. After spending the day in York, I was worn out so we got the train to Leeds at about 5. Due to a ten minute delay, we missed the train home, so Benj treated me to sushi whilst we waited for the next one. He’s an angel and I’m lucky to have him.

August 24th – I went out for a meal with my family to celebrate my brother’s awesome G.C.S.E results.

August 25th – I went on my first proper “night out”. We had prinks at Benj’s mate Arran’s house, before heading into Leeds. By 1am, I was tired and ready for my bed haha. Turns out I am not a big club person!

My month has been a lot of fun, and a lot of prep for uni next month. My August days have been filled with packing, working my butt off, and making the most of the summer. Next month brings with it university, independent living and I’m sure, the opportunity to create many more fantastic memories. All I can say is BRING ON SEPTEMBER!
A x

Rambling · Uncategorized

My weekend – August 4th-7th 2017

As a result of working full time and being uber busy getting ready for university, my blog has been neglected a little bit recently. So I thought I would write a post about what I’ve been up to this past weekend as a little update!
I had the day off work in Friday so I met my lovely friend Tom for lunch after waving goodbye to my parents. (They went away on a romantic break to Barcelona this weekend). It was really nice to catch up with him! We also did a spot of shopping and I got some bits for uni and part of Benj’s birthday present.

After a few hours with Tom, he walked me home and I picked up my bag as I was going to a party Benj was hosting. We got the train together and chatted about friendships and how special it is to have someone who understands you deeply. He headed home and I got the bus to the city centre. As I suffer with anxiety, house parties full of strangers are not my idea of a good time! It was my first time meeting a lot of Benj’s friends and they were drinking (something which generally puts me a little on edge). Luckily, they were all super friendly! And perhaps more luckily, when I panic-induced-texted my friend Liv, she was free and offered to come to the party with me. (I thought she was in London so hadn’t invited her). I am so grateful to have that lil bean by my side. She’s always there when I need a rant, and was super supportive of me on Friday.

As I said, Ben’s friends were all really nice so we stayed up late mingling. I was super tired at work the next day but it was definitely worth it. After work, I came home to a letter from my friend Katya! She included a bracelet from Sheffield Pride as I wasn’t able to attend with her. A sweet present from such a sweet friend! Ben arrived at mine for about six and watched TV whilst enchiladas cooked in the oven and I finished up my work from an online course I’m doing. (I’ll be blogging about it later when I complete the course!) Looking over at him watching Rick & Morty as I typed made me reflect on how lucky I am to have someone so laid back, supportive and loving by my side.

We ate our enchiladas and watched Kiss The Girls. It’s a really good film! It was weird seeing a “young” Morgan Freeman though. Afterwards, we curled up in bed, a lil’ freaked out because of the nature of the film, and chatted til we fell asleep.

I had work on Sunday and sold lots of pretty flowers! My mama picked me up after work and we had a catch-up. I ate tea at hers and discussed gender and the future with my brothers. I got the bus over to Benj’s and we snuggled. We watched the Blues Brothers whilst cuddling the cat. So many people have recommended the film to me and I can see why! It was a feel-good film with lots of great music. The absolute babe Carrie Fisher also features which makes it a win with me. The plot of the film and the nonchalant attitude of the protagonists made me reflect a lot on my own attitudes and spiritual beliefs. I’ve been researching Quakerism recently and feel drawn to it. A lot of the beliefs held by Quakers align with my own. It’s been amazing finding something structured that helps me. I’m hoping to attend a meeting when I go to university as I’m currently too busy with working to attend 😦

I stayed over at Benj’s Sunday night. We woke up, had cuddles and breakfast, followed by a quick shower. We had been wanting to go to Yorkshire Sculpture Park for a while and I was so excited we finally getting to go together that I actually turned down Ben’s offer to make me a cup of tea. (Anyone who knows me well knows this is a testimony to how giddy I was!) We set off, grabbing a picnic from Sainsbury’s between buses.

YSP was so pretty! Benj and I strolled around hand in hand, encountering lots of sheep and fancy art. To make the day even more perfect, I petted two extremely cute doggos and we saw a cat chilling in the woods. We had a cute picnic and took lots of photos. #HipsterCoupleGoals

We bought some postcards to send to my Aunty in America, and in reply to Katya’s cute letter. I felt super sad saying goodbye to Benji even though I will see him soon as the past few days had been so perfect. (Forgetting to take my meds Sunday morning probably didn’t help – whoops!)
I was rather grumpy and tired when I got home but Benj persuaded me to go to a yoga class and I’m so glad I did. Because I’ve been so busy recently, my yoga practice has also been impacted and I haven’t managed to get to a class in a few weeks which has definitely affected my mood. My normal practice is Ashtanga but I felt a bit daunted by that, so I went to a Hatha class to ease myself back into yoga. I felt so much better for going! The class pushed me but I was also super proud of myself for a) going when I felt so down in the dumps, and b) achieving some quite tricky poses even though my practice has gotten rusty. I’m hoping to get myself to a Yin class tonight 🙂

I better get off to write my postcards! I hope you are all well and please get in contact if you feel so inclined! I will be attempting to update my blog more regularly. – A x

Mental health · Uncategorized

The truth about prozac

“Prozac”, like many forms of antidepressant, is a very controversial medicine.

Late last year I was prescribed fluoxetine (to give it its medical name). (Prozac is a brand name, and like ‘hoover’ has come to refer to various vacuum cleaners, ‘prozac’ refers to fluoxetine, which is made by many different brands. The brand I was taking was actually called ‘prozep’ until I changed to a gelatin-free form).

And the truth is this medicine has saved my life.

It’s as simple as that. The best way I can describe being on SSRIs is like after you have a cold for a long time with a constant blocked nose, and then you are able to breath clearly again. I was not suddenly happy, or magically ‘fixed. But I felt ‘normal’ again – life was manageable, instead of being a whirlwind of emotions. Prozac gave me my life back.

But the truth is also that this medicine has also made some of my friends feel ten times worse. If you’re reading this as someone potentially trying fluoxetine, please don’t let “horror stories” put you off as they affect the minority of people. If the medicine doesn’t work for you, an alternative can be found. Your health takes priority.

Prozac can have nasty side effects – luckily my only side effects have been nightmares, but they are infrequent, and the benefits outway the cons for me. However, for some people, the cons are unbearable and that just means this medicine isn’t the right medicine for them. It’s not possible to say whether the insomnia I suffer with is a side effect of the prozac or just a continuation of the insomnia I suffered with prior to taking prescription – but this leads me to add that many “side effects” are listed due to the technicality that they can’t be ruled not to be side effects. For example, bulimia is listed as a side effect despite prozac/prozep being used to treat bulimia, this is because the disorder may still occur in the patient despite being on medicine, and it cannot be decisively concluded if prozac is causing the disorder due to it being taken by the patient. So that doesn’t mean prozac causes these disorders, just that it doesn’t help everyone with their mental health problems in the same way it has been helpful for me.

I am a little bit scared about the day I come off fluoxetine as it is ‘addictive’ medicine. But I have also made peace with the fact I may never come off it; There’s no shame in taking medicine if I need it to help me function. The past week has been very rough as due to administration issues, I was without my medication for 8 days. (And you could tell.) My poor boyfriend had to handle a lot of my mood swings and irritability, which could have been my mental health problems that were not being managed by medicine, or could possibly have been withdrawal symptoms.
If you are on antidepressants it is so so important you take them regularly!

The reason I was placed in this precarious situation is I found out my medication had gelatin in (something I’m not okay with consuming) and had to faff about getting veggie alternatives. I was very peeved that no one had informed me that my medication contained gelatin (but also annoyed at myself for not checking the ingredients). My medication was initially handled by my dad, so I wasn’t aware of the ingredients, and only recently actually read the box. (Always read contents before you take any meds kids – Lesson learnt!). The pharmacist I spoke to also implied I wasn’t told that the capsules contained gelatin as “all capsules do” so it’s common knowledge (that I was not aware of.) I’ve luckily been able to source an alternative I’m happy with taking so for the foreseeable future, taking a dose of fluoxetine is as much a part of my morning routine as having breakfast and brushing my teeth. It’s helped me immensely, and countless others. There should be a push for more medication to help those suffering from mental health issues, as as I have outlined, fluoxetine isn’t a “cure” and does not help everybody.

I truly hope we can tackle the stigma about mental health and medication, so that one day, my being on SSRIs is viewed no differently to me taking medicine for a physical illness and maintaining my health and wellbeing in other ways. I also personally hope that medication also moves away from using animal produce unnecessarily.

Sending love to all my mentally ill babes, medicated or not. Please seek help when you need it! Although I cannot help, I’m here to listen if anyone wants to get anything offrom their chest! -A x

 

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York meetup – July 2017

On Monday I met some of my housemates for the first time! We’ve all been chatting over Facebook since being allocated the same accommodation at YSJ, so nine of us met up for a day in York. (We won’t all be sharing a house, but will be living in the same accommodation, as it’s sort of like a row of terrace houses).
To my delight, everyone is super lovely and it calmed my nerves about moving in. I am now so excited for September!
Early Monday morning I traveled to Wakefield to meet Lauren. She drove us to York. We parked at the YHA we were staying at and had a pleasant stroll along the river to York city centre to meet the others. In true English fashion, we met Clare, Holly, Daisy, Phillipa, Tony, Mónica (who is Spanish) and Thomas at Gregg’s.
We all introduced ourselves and had a pleasant stroll around the open market, the Shambles and the Disney store. I am in love with all the cute things in the Disney store!
We mooched outside the store for a while chatting and I got a really bad craving for ice cream so suggested it to the others. We got ice cream from an ice cream parlour and munched it on our way to everyone’s favourite cheap-and-cheerful pub-chain Wetherspoons. 

We spent a few hours chatting in Spoons before heading to YSJ for a look around our accom. It looks really nice and I will be happy to call it home in September!
Following that, we strolled around York for a bit, stopping for a drink in a few pubs and buying snacks from a Sunday-roast take-away. At around 7, Clare, Lauren and I walked the others to the train station and had a big group-hug goodbye before nipping to Sainsbury’s for snacks and heading to YHA York. Strolling along York with a very tipsy Lauren was very funny, and it was great to spend time with just those two as I will be sharing a house with them come September.

After checking in, we went to the youth hostel bar for another drink and played a round of pool. We stayed up a while chatting and playing “Never Have I Ever”. Clare and I got ready for bed at around 11 but Lauren, self-proclaimed party-animals made mates downstairs and stayed up drinking til 3. Although she did hang out with us in the room for a little while which was really nice, Clare and I had to rely on each other for support as we started mortified as one another as a lady we’d been having a pleasant conversation with started taking her clothes off mid-conversation. (I’m all for body-positivity but nearly naked strangers isn’t my cup of tea, especially when they start undressing whilst having a chat with you.)
The bed was a lot comfier than I was expecting, and the Youth Hostel really exceeded my expectations as it was really good quality, which i wasn’t expecting given we’d only paid £13 each for the night. Drinks were cheap too which is always a bonus!
I woke up the following morning and got dressed as the other slept. We got ready and checked out, and the bartender informed us Lauren had been up til three but had stayed in the hostel as promised. (I made her promise to stay on site – I’m a killjoy only because I care haha).
We walked back along the river into York for breakfast. We had full English breakfasts (mine was veggie) at Bailey’s cafe, before going back down to sit by the river and chat.

Lauren and I saw Clare off at the train station before walking back to the car and driving home. She kindly dropped me off at my house. We will hopefully meet up again before September but they all seem really lovely.
I’m so glad everyone was so friendly and easy-going. It was great meeting Tony, a fellow enby, as well, as coming out to new people is always daunting and I sort of followed their lead as I wasn’t planning on telling the group but they did first and reacted well. Thank you Tony for letting me ride your coattails haha.

If everyone is as sweet as they seemed, uni will be awesome! I cannot wait for September!
Uni will be brilliant and I’m lucky to have met amazing people to share my experience with!
A x