Surviving Life – Maintaining happiness throughout the struggle

There’s no way of denying that life can be realllll shitty at times. Most people experience a form of trauma at some stage of their life. It can be very overwhelming coping with some of the stresses that life throws at us sometimes. Personally, I have had my fair few stressful situations. But the one that affected me the most was living in poverty… below the breadline.

Now let’s not jump to conclusions, I’m not talking about poverty on the level of homelessness. I’m talking about this ‘first world’ level of poverty. The type that will have you sitting on a £1500 sofa, watching a £600 TV whilst discussing potentially losing your house and how to find money for food. I was raised in a single parent household; my mother an absolute grafter, was the provider for my brother and I. Most of my childhood and early teenager years I’d say we were doing okay financially from my perspective. It was when I started to hit 16/17 that things became a struggle. Becoming aware of adult level problems and losing the innocence of your childhood can be a massive shock to the system and some people struggle with this more than others.  When you are young, you receive gifts from your parents and you know… the food is just there magically. But you don’t fully grasp the blood, sweat and tears that a lot of single mothers go through to maintain their household and to put food on the table for their children. 

This is me in the middle with the dodgy hairstyle with my siblings and my dad.

So yeah… growing up is tough. The reason why I call it first world poverty is because from an outside perspective everything seems normal. You have a may have a car … the three-bedroom terraced house and even nice clothes. But did I have food to eat within that house? A lot of the time no. Could we afford heating during the winter? lol definitely not. It became a constant battle of putting money on the electric key and the gas meter only for it to go off a few days later and we sometimes had no way of finding money to put the electric on or the heating. I’ll keep it real there was times when we had to sell things in order to get a bit of money to tide us over. This type of lifestyle will rob you of all of your dignity especially if you are a proud person. There were many times when I would have to ask if I could bathe at my friend’s house and they would also give me food to cook at home so we had something to eat. Situations like this help to form the deepest of bonds between people. So, I’m sure you can get the idea… it was tough for a while. But despite living that kind of lifestyle, I don’t look back and focus on what I didn’t have to eat and the times when I could see my breath in the air, it was so cold in my bedroom.

The luxuries and gifts stopped coming and for a good few years we didn’t exchange birthday or Christmas gifts to each other. I think my family has been lucky because we do have a close bond. So having Christmas without presents under the tree never bothered me personally. But I can imagine for my mum it was hard because parents do feel a huge responsibility to provide for the family. But this is where the deepest lessons I have learned were formed. It was never a case of what didn’t I have… always a case of how can I work harder and bring more money into my household? 

Going through tough times and situations where you feel like life is just punishing you, that is the opportunity to discover yourself. These are the situations that tests your character and allow you to confront yourself. Happiness is something that you have to create for yourself. Can you be poor and be happy, 100%. It is about learning to accept yourself as you are when everything is stripped back… no distractions. You can develop unlimited potential within yourself. Let me clarify, my point is… the times when life is pushing up on you and you feel shiiiit. This is the type of situation that allows you to dig deep and get creative. You start to discover skills you never thought you had. And when you are short of money you have to get resourceful anyway. 

Resilience is a skill that will help to get you through these tough times. Being able to bounce back from setbacks and still see the beauty in your life, that is no small task.  After many losses and sets back, I have reached a stage where I have the ability to change my perspective. I never take an L, as every situation for me is the opportunity to learn, rediscover and adapt myself to the course that life has put me on. 

Here are some helpful tasks that can help you to change your perspective: 

Create a list of positives 

If you are struggling to see the positives of a situation, sit down and get out some paper. Write down your biggest loss, did you just lose your job or maybe a bad breakup. Now create some headings such as short-term benefits and long-term benefits. Once you have completed your list, keep it! You can always refer back to it when you’re feeling low or just need a reminder to slow down and gain some perspective.  


This doesn’t work for everyone as some people are more visual than others, but if this is your type of thing, create a detailed summary of what you want your life to look like in a specific time. One of my visualisations is a full fridge, I know that may sound weird but after going through the experience of being hungry and not having money to buy food. I need to have food in my house to feel content and secure.

There are going to be times that you feel like giving up and struggle to see the light at the end of tunnel but do not give up. Everyone is entitled to a bad day, and they will come. Lets support each other and continue to Rise! 

Remember risers, We never take an L !! 

L = Loss  

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Living with Anxiety

One of the biggest lessons I have learned through being diagnosed with anxiety is, a lot of people struggle to relate to mental health as it is an ‘invisible illness’. There’s no plaster cast or pack of medication that screams ‘I’m not well at the moment’. You will come across people who genuinely can’t grasp the issues that you are going through.

My journey with anxiety was a result of many years of unsolved trauma. I began to notice my behaviour changing, however I always dismissed it as personality changes as I was getting older. I was such a spontaneous person growing up and was always up to take part in most social events etc. But when I reached 23, I found myself declining almost every invite that was given to me. ‘I just prefer chilling at home’ I would tell myself. And as a result have missed out on major occasions that I still regret today. I didn’t even understand Anxiety at that stage let alone saw the symptoms within my own behaviour. I begun to feel numb emotionally. I remember describing it to my friends as feeling as if your trapped in a glass box inside your own body. You can smile and laugh on the outside but it’s as if the emotions don’t reach inside of you.

After a couple of years of experiencing those problems, I went through a break up (yes I know I’ve mentioned this before lol). On top of dealing with that I was made redundant from my dream job and my friends and I had decided to give up our house that we was renting and move back in with our parents. During this time, I started to feel so uncomfortable within myself. I would wake up and feel worried for no particular reason, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then came the physical symptoms…. waking in the middle of the night with heart palpitations, my arms would go numb and tingly and I begun to clench my muscles subconsciously.

I’ve always been a bit of a worrier with my health so you could imagine I was freaking out at this stage. I decided to go to the AnE department (dramatic I know). After many hours waiting to be seen. The doctor on duty explained to me that all my tests where normal and that he believes my symptoms where a result of stress and anxiety. To hear that… honestly it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve always felt that I was a strong person (whatever that means) but hearing the doctors discuss my options. I couldn’t help but feel like I had failed myself.

The weeks following the diagnosis I visited my GP to discuss options to help relieve my symptoms. Luckily, a friend of mine had recently gone through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and recommend I give it a try. So walking into my GP office I was already equipped with the information about the CBT. The first thing my GP said to me was ‘okay we can put you on a course of anti-depression tablets’. This really bothered me as I felt I had to deal with the route cause of my Anxiety rather than the symptoms so I pushed for the CBT and was able to get a referral. The therapy helped me a lot and I will write another post explaining it in more detail.

That diagnosis was 4 years ago now and I have since learnt to manage my anxiety. I’ve summarised my go to methods for coping with anxiety below:

Breathing: Once I learned how to control and manage my breathing I was able to prevent anxiety attacks from occurring.

Meditation: Similar to the breathing techniques I use meditation as a way to process my emotions and to unwind when feeling stressed. There are many guided meditation apps available that will help you out if your new to the process.

Communication: I am very lucky that I have very supportive friends around me. Talking to them about my feelings helped me to process my emotions. They didn’t laugh at me or dismiss my irrational thoughts, they helped me explore them and talk myself out of the anxious feelings.

Anxiety is something that you may live with for the rest of your life. But don’t lose hope, there are so many ways that you can manage the symptoms and feel in control of your life again. I will go into more detail in future posts about the specific type of anxiety I suffer with and how that affected me.

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Education Uncategorized

Developing relationships within schools between staff and students

There was a time in my career when I was going through a bad break up. Usually I was good at separating personal issues from my work but it was a vulnerable time for me. I had a registration /tutor group at the time and I’m sure they had to started to notice that I wasn’t myself. Valentine’s Day came around and it was time for me to go and start the lesson with my class. As I walked into the room, they had a massive bunch of flowers on the table for me and a card. I opened the card which was from them all and it read… we will appreciate you always. This simple gesture literally made me cry… another thing that I don’t make a habit of at work. Lol. I was so overwhelmed by the kindness of these teenagers. Some of whom I would frequently be in disagreements with regarding their behaviour. When I eventually left that role, they gifted me a scrap book. They had all wrote messages in the book and I was really shocked at some of them. One even said although we have had our disagreements you taught me that my way is not always the right way’. And I thought wow, the life lessons I gave to them actually sunk in. We both learnt from each other during the time I was at the school and they had taught me to be more patience and how to navigate complex issues with young people. And I shared my knowledge with them, sometimes it was a lesson in CV writing and how to assess your own skills. And other days it was supporting them while going through tough friendship problems.

During my time at secondary school, I developed a close bond with a few of my teachers. I suffered from a traumatic experience when I was in year 9 and my tutor, English teacher and Sociology teacher were made aware of this. Not only did they support me through this journey, they also helped to build me back up and realise my full potential. I felt comfortable to approach them when I was feeling vulnerable. Fast forward 14 years and I still keep in contact with the same teachers and they continue to offer me words of wisdom to this day.

Reflecting on this made me think about the relationships between school staff and their students. It has literally been drilled into my head that a gesture like that is hugely inappropriate and that we as staff must try to maintain our professional distance at all times. Don’t get me wrong, we need a certain degree of protection as staff and also so do the students. But at what point did we as a society stop prioritising our children’s emotional needs and need to form relationships. All throughout early schooling, teachers play quite a nurturing role in their students’ lives. They would certainly put their arm around a crying child. But what we see currently is an education system that is quite frankly, dominated by the academy institutions.

Children need support and stability and as teachers and school staff we spend a lot of their time around them. When will we start to support healthy attachments between school students and staff? Schools have high staff turnover which makes it harder for the students to build relationships with the multiple staff they come into contact with. When will we start to treat students as children instead of professional colleagues? I do believe that if staff and students were able to build a more meaningful relationship then students would have more accountability for their actions towards them. 

Schools are fundamental to the development of young people and also families. We need to focus on building a system that supports the connection between schools and their students. The question is…. how do we achieve t