The Right to be Depressed

I’m gonna come out and say it…

I don’t always remember it, but I’m pretty lucky.

I grew up in a “Nuclear Family”, which is often referred to as the “cereal packet family”. It is so-called because of the use of this kind of family set up when advertising.

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For example – a breakfast cereal advert may focus on a father and mother in the kitchen one morning – the father dressed in a suit ready to go to work (the bread-winner husband), his wife preparing the children’s cereal for them (the mother as the primary care giver), with the son and the daughter (average 2 children who are both born to the same parents) looking anticipatingly at the amazing cereal they are about to experience!
The subliminal message from the advertising company:
This family is ‘perfect’ – and yours could be too… if you buy this cereal!

Now we know that this is, of course, just an advertising ploy, but generally people do make the assumption – even in these days – that a ‘cereal packet’ family is a happy family.
Lets not assume that is the case for all.
However, it was the case for me.

I was so lucky as a child – My dad worked as the bread winner for the family which meant that when it came to birthdays, Christmases, holidays… we didn’t want for much.
Although mum did work, my dad worked some long hours, so mum took care of us, the house, and provided the family with lovely nutritional home made meals etc.
Dad would ring the house phone from his car phone (welcome to the early 90’s!) for 3 rings to let mum know he was on his way home, and she’d have our family meal ready for him coming home.

We went on annual holidays – camping holidays, exploring the British coast, swimming, crab fishing, flying kites, building sandcastles.
When we got a little older we had annual trips abroad to various European destinations – Spain, Malta, Portugal, Greek islands… and more.

My brother and I had our own bedrooms and when I was 10, we moved to a larger detached house which gave us added space in our rooms as well as a spare room, and also meant no longer having to share a bathroom with everyone. My friends at school even expressed their envy at our amazing new home!

Growing up I was able to go on all the school trips I wanted, I enjoyed time with my friends and rarely missed out on anything.
Outside of school my friends and I were often at the cinema, visiting theme parks, or going shopping with our pocket money…

When I did well at school I got extra pocket money.
When it came to my GCSEs, my parents rewarded my grades with money.

I had a plan… I was going to be a teacher. I went to college with my sights set on following it up with University… however things didn’t quite turn out that way.
I spent more time out with friends and focussed on alcohol than I care to admit. Although I did get the first part time job I applied for to make money while I was still in full time education – I spent very little time thinking about my coursework outside of college.

After 2 years, I left college with nothing to show for it, other than some life lessons.

I landed a full time job and have been employed ever since, always landing on my feet through every redundancy.

I have worked for 11 years at the current company I’m employed by…. And have progressed during my time there.

After meeting at 20, and getting engaged at 21, my husband and I were married in 2012. Following years of support from my parents while we saved, we bought our first house.
We still live there now with our 2 cats. We live in the same town as both sides of our families and are financially stable.

My life is perfect.

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Except for the fact that it isn’t of course.

The above is my life as seen from the outside.
It doesn’t reflect the inside.
That’s not to say that any of it is untrue, because every word is fact. Nor does it mean that I had an extremely difficult and traumatic childhood, because thankfully I didn’t.

What it does mean is that there is more to my life than is seen on the outside.
Experiences and events are what shape us.

Mental Health issues are not as straight forward as they may sometimes be perceived.

Being depressed doesn’t mean that you hate everything you have, or that you’re ungrateful for it. It doesn’t mean that you hate the people in your life, or that you don’t appreciate them. It doesn’t mean anyone has caused it or let you down.
It’s more than likely that you don’t believe you deserve it. It’s more likely you feel so much hate for yourself that you find a reason that you shouldn’t have this as it doesn’t feel right that you have nice things or people in your life.

There is misunderstanding that if people are depressed then they are just being ungrateful for their life and the things they have.
That they need to ‘snap out of it’ and realise what they’ve got.
Yes, knowing that there is a lot to be thankful for can be helpful, but mental health issues are more complex than that.
Adding guilt won’t make someone more likely to recover quicker, quite the opposite.

“There are people a lot worse off than you” – what does this even mean anyway? We’ve all heard the phrase, probably even said it at some point in our lives. Yes. This is true. But that doesn’t stop the pain we feel does it?

If someone cuts their finger it can really sting. We all know how bad a paper cut can be.
If we compare that to someone who has lost their finger, it doesn’t take the pain of the paper cut away does it? It doesn’t make us ungrateful for having a finger to cut in the first place.

And what if the person who lost their finger compares themselves to someone who lost their hand? Does it make it easier for them to cope if they think about someone else who has no hand, so they should be grateful they have the rest of their hand?

And what about the person with no hand comparing themselves to someone who’s lost an arm… it could go on.
It’s not about comparing ourselves. Everyone is different.
Everyone struggles at some point and that’s ok. It’s ok to struggle. It’s not about what you had or have. It’s about what you think and feel, and your ability to manage.

We don’t have to explain our issues, or justify or explain why we feel the way we do. There are a million reasons why someone may be depressed and a million reasons why they “shouldn’t be” – but they are.

We have the right to be depressed without owing anyone an explanation or an apology.

We have the right to be ourselves.

Great Expectations (Of Others)

Isn’t it nice when people show an interest in us? In our lives?
It’s good to know they are interested in how our lives are going.

But what about when we respond with something that they didn’t anticipate?

What if we are not up to the ‘right point’ in our lives that society expects us to be?

There are so many expectations for every stage of life… So many questions… So much judgement that comes with it.

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The earliest age I remember someone commenting on one of the first stages of my life was when I was about to turn 13.
My Aunty commented on the fact I was about to enter my teens and that now my life would be all about boys and having my first period – to which my mum corrected her that I had already had my first period. Of course I was already into boys too – so I guess first test passed!

Throughout my teens, adults wanted to know all about “do you have a boyfriend?” and “What are you going to do when you leave school?”
Meanwhile peer pressure pushed us into smoking, drinking, and comparing tales of sexual experiences.
There was a constant pressure to grow up fast and constantly focus on the future and where we were going rather than being in the moment and appreciating what we had.

So what happens when you reach adulthood?

Leaving school, it is all about the next stages – Uni and/or work/careers, meeting someone etc.

So, you get a job and meet someone and the next questions are all about where you are going next – the expectation to move out, settle down, get engaged.

Onto the next ‘stage’ – save for a house, get engaged, and save for a wedding (this is the point people start helpfully telling you what they think you should do or have for your wedding – despite it being your money going on the wedding).

And if you’re not at that point? Well that’s when the questions come:
“Do you not want to get married?”
“Do you have to save for a deposit – Could you not rent so you can move out sooner?” “Are you looking for a relationship?” “Whatever happened to ‘So and so’, I thought you two would have got married”.

The expectations are always there from others. The pressures of what you should do in your life and when.
It amazes me the lack of boundaries some people have at times.

I’ve known people to have opinions on, and comment on women in their 30’s who are single. I’ve heard comments on women who have children but work full time. Comments on stay at home mothers who don’t work.

I’ve been asked multiple times if I am going to have children now I am married. I have been asked outright if I am able not able to have children.

I had a friend who fell pregnant and gradually told work colleagues, only to be asked by one of them if the pregnancy with her husband was planned?

And when someone does have a child… they can be just out of the hospital before someone is asking “Do you think you’ll have any more?”

There is always more expectation and judgement… “I think it’d be nice if you had another so he/she isn’t on their own”

And if you have more children than people expect, again, comes the judgement!

Before we know it we have bounced from life event to life event living under the expectation of others!
And if we haven’t reached any of those expected life events, then what? We failed?!
A life without those means a life not well lived?!

Each person’s life is their own. They may want to meet someone, they may not. They may want to live alone, they may not. They may want to get married, they may not. They may want to have children, they may not.
And sometimes life takes these decisions out of our hands.

Stop pushing people. Don’t judge. Expect things from your own life not from the lives of others.

Live and let live.

80s Movies

For anyone who doesn’t follow me on Twitter, is a new follower, or just missed it – for a while I have been doing regular Theme posts on Thursdays (#ThemeThursday).

The idea is that a topic is selected (sometimes with the help of my followers and sometimes my personal preference) and I post related tweets all day on that subject. This may be memes, gifs, article links, YouTube links etc.

Themes I have had so far have included:
• The Walking Dead (#TWDThursday)
• Game of Thrones (#ThronesThursday)
• Disney (#DisneyThursday)
• 90s Nostalgia (#90sNostalgia)
• Harry Potter (#PotterThursday)

…& many more!

Some of these were successful enough that I may have future repeats with new material and new followers included.
I will also be running #BuffyThursday again as it has to be cut short on the day unfortunately, so look out for that soon.

To kick off 2019 I decided to have my first #ThemeThursday of the year as #80sMoviesThursday (inspired partially by my husband’s love of 80s movies).

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As someone who was born in the 80’s, they were a big part of my childhood and I remember going to the local video shop with my mum to buy the Little Mermaid which was from 1989.

As a child I watched movies such as Back the Future, ET, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Karate Kid, Ghostbusters… I remember going on a school trip to see The Land Before Time at the cinema, and I remember other animations such as an American Tail, and puppet movies like Labyrinth. I remember being both entertained and yet quite disturbed watching Return to Oz (scared by the Wheelers for one).
I remember as a child I went to my friends house wherr we were unsupervised and she introduced to the movie ‘Dirty Dancing’, as well as being scared when we sat and watched ‘Poltergeist’ together.

Growing up I watched ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and learnt the secrets behind what made Freddie Krueger so scary (someone my older brother had always taunted me about).

I asked my Twitter followers about their favourite 80s Movies – running a poll (#SM80sMoviesPoll) and also asking them to comment their favourite movies and gifs.

Here is what some of them said…

@KrochetxKorner said “The Nightmare on Elm Street. I mean it’s a classic horror film, one of the very first I watched. I was born early 80’s so didn’t get to see it properly until mid 90’s, but I loved it from start to finish.”

@LivvieBrundle responded “oooh um… The Never Ending Story. The story is enthralling & thought provoking. it says a lot about innocence & imagination. The puppet/makeup fx are fantastic. The scene with the horse always gets me & the gmork, with those teeth & eyes… & words, is terrifying. ”

@donnafarrell43 replied with a ‘Dirty Dancing’ gif

@Carly_marie85 is also a Dirty Dancing fan “My favourite film since I was a kid! Obviously bcuz I thought Patrick Swayze was hot in this film! ”

@79_Alexandra is likes a lot of 80s movies, saying”There’s ALOT of really good ones so a tricky one to choose, but I will go with ‘The Breakfast Club’…The SoundTrack is pretty awesome (it’s in my car at the mo) and Some moments are Laugh out loud funny.”

What @PaHe56435751 likes about ‘The Breakfast Club’ is “This is a great movie which shows how we can get along even if we are really different from each other”

@MaddDawgDailey told me his favourite 80s movie is ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ “because it has pretty much everything u could want in an adventurous blockbuster movie. IMO it’s the darkest, most emotional and most engaging movie in the franchise and of all of the big selling 80s movies I’ve seen or in general. Plus it’s the debut of Yoda and has the biggest and most intense cliffhangers in any trilogy. “I am your father”? Nuff said. And while Han Solo’s death in Force Awakens was very sad, him being frozen will always be the hardest moment to watch in a SWs movie…”

 

You can check out some of the related tweets here:

You can also check out my 80s movies polls by checking out the hashtag on Twitter: #SM80sMoviesPoll

Whatever your favourite 80s movies is, it seems one thing is for sure – the movies of this decade were certainly appreciated by many.

What is your favourite 80s movie? Do you prefer another decade for movies?

The Millennial Life

How many times have we heard the negative things about ‘Millenials’?
They get such a bad reputation that even people who I know that fall under the Millennial generation try and deny they are a Millennial – simply because it is a label, and a lifestyle reputation they have no connection with.

So who are these ‘Millennials’? Generally a Millennial is classed as someone who was born between the early 1980s to the mid to late 1990s.

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We are a generation who were raised in a time where it was still ok to play in the street and ride to the park, but where we had an array of TV shows at our finger tips on Sky TV or Cable; A generation who adapted quickly from the adjustment from video cassette movies to DVD players; The first generation to perfect their text typing speeds. We grew up in a world where Beanie Babies would one day be worth something, Pogs were banned in playgrounds due to them being a ‘gambling concern’, and where we were amazed that we could teach Furbies how to speak. In our childhood, the biggest worries were knowing who loved Orange soda, memorizing the lyrics to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and remembering to feed our Tamagotchis so they didn’t die!

With the introduction of the internet and home computers becoming the norm, we were also the first generation to excel at online communication – waiting for someone to finish on the landline so that we can use the old dial-up connection to join chat rooms, log onto MSN Messenger and perfect our ‘MySpace’ layouts.

We had it all. We had everything. And we were reminded of this.
In the UK, growing up we had exams around every corner – SATS every few years, GCSEs, A-levels… We had the best opportunities and we were expected to succeed and being constantly tested to see how we performed.

We are expected to succeed academically so that we can succeed in our careers – so that we can excel and be the best we can be.
We are expected to have some kind of recognised profession co tributing to society – Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers.

Without the qualifications, will people want to employ you? Yet with the qualifications but no full time work experience, will people want to employ you?
I have seen so many examples where people have walked out of University with degrees and ended up working alongside those without qualifications – working sometimes for a higher wage for their degree and sometimes not. Those with a degree of course, still having to pay off University debts so being on the property ladder is not something they can even consider whilst in their 20’s.

The house prices these days make it terribly difficult for people to get their step on the property ladder. A study from the financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/81343d9e-187b-11e8-9e9c-25c814761640 looked at the cost of housing, while “incomes have faltered”.

There are, of course, those who are fortunate enough to have parents who can help them out financially, to help them onto their first step (for me and my husband our support came in the form of us both living with my parents while we saved – something which is becoming increasingly common in millenials in order for us to be able to afford our own homes).
There are those who are unfortunate that can afford to get onto the housing ladder due to an inheritance following a bereavement – something else which happens less due to the longer life expectancies.

We are faced with the challenges we learnt from the lessons of previous generations where pension schemes can’t always be trusted and you need hefty deposits to purchase homes.

Women are expected to work full time, have careers and still manage a household. There is still shaming from previous generations if homemade meals aren’t cooked. There is still a judgement from previous generations when it comes to hired help in the form of cleaning companies – and this is for the ones who are fortunate enough to be in a position to earn enough to have that as an option.
Men are also expected to work full time and have a career and expected to be a ‘modern man’ – contributing to household chores.

Women are stigmatized whatever choices they make it seems – if they choose a career, why are they not having children? Or why is someone else taking care of their children?
If they choose to be a stay at home mum – why are they not working to provide for their children? Why are they not setting an example for their children?

Who adds to the stigma Millenials face? Well for one, The Media. Compared to previous generations, there has never been such an overwhelming media presence – News 24/7 – News on the TV, in Newspapers, Online. The Media have to make stories to feed the demand.
Social Media also has a massive role to play – playing the comparison game on Facebook is not productive and negatively affects our mental health.
As we are the first generation facing this lifestyle, we are the ones who’s mistakes will be learnt by future generations.

More of the issues Millennials face can be found in this interesting post about ‘quarter life crisis’ https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/dec/30/me-and-my-quarter-life-crisis-a-millennial-asks-what-went-wrong

It discusses the pressures we are faced with and how it impacts us mentally and is an interesting read.

While we as Millenials are very fortunate, we are constantly referred to as the ‘snowflake’ generation – when the truth is that we are like many other generations – we have benefits previous generations before us didn’t, but there are also challenges we face that other generations were not faced with.

My view is that every generation can learn from the previous, and that in a time when we will be living longer and become a world of multiple generations, we should each respect our similarities and differences.