Tag Archives: Lessons

My Experience of Anti-Depressants: One Year On (Part One)

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Next month (June) will mark one year since I started on my anti-depressants and because one of the focuses of my blog is mental health, I wanted to discuss briefly on how I got to that point and in my post that will follow this, I’ll talk about how I have been feeling during this period while on them. I just want to put it out there; this is in no way a sympathy post, I personally think it’s important to talk about different ways we cope with certain situations in our lives and this is one of the ways I have been able to cope, and if we can encourage others to talk to professionals about how they are feeling, then the world will be a better place. 

(Just as a disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, I’m in no position to give out medical advice; this post is simply talking about my experience going to the GP and making the decision that was best for me at this period in my life.) 

I’m not sure about you but anti-depressants in my opinion, have never had the greatest reputation and I don’t really know why. I’ve heard them described as “numbing” and “short-term gain” which is two things they can do perfectly but for me, they have been so much more than that. I was recently listening to Dr. Phil’s podcast “Phil In The Blanks” and he was talking to one of my favourite people Dax Shepard. They were discussing going to the doctors and Dr. Phil said that quite a lot of general practitioners are very quick to subscribe pills and let the patient go. I’ve heard this a few times from different people, both in real life and on line, saying that when they were going to the doctors, they would listen to them for two minutes and put them on anti-depressants. Knowing that this was the experience for a few people I had heard, I was already preparing myself not to be listened to and being given pills.  

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Looking back, I couldn’t have been happier with my experience. I went and spoke to my regular doctor. I went over what had been doing as briefly as I could within a doctor’s allotted time slot and what was interesting with this visit was that they asked could one of the student doctors ask me questions to get a background on me before going into the appointment, and I was fine with that. It was a nice experience because it was an additional ten minutes, I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise so she had asked me why I was there today and why I thought I had been feeling this way. She asked me about past experiences so I was very open with what had been happening with me over the last few years; I also talked about going to CBT and I said that it had been amazing but there was still something just not right. I had been able to change most of my thinking patterns but my body wasn’t responding to those patterns sometimes. Once that was finished, I spoke to my regular doctor after the student doctor had told him what we had discussed and I already felt at ease about the experience. I was no longer worried that they were going to throw pills at me and be on my way. One of the main points he had asked me about my tiredness and I was completely straight with him, I told him that I can’t remember the last time I WASN’T tired and that’s completely true. Give me five hours, eight hours or twelve hours of sleep, I will still be tired. He was concerned about that considering I was still in my mid-twenties so when he asked me about my diet, I told him I was vegan and that’s when he suggested going on iron tablets and in my head, I rolled my eyes. It’s that classic vegan line, “Oh maybe you’re not getting enough iron” but I went with it because as much as I rolled my eyes, I probably wasn’t getting enough iron to be absolutely fair to him. He was very clear though; we’ll try the iron tablets for a few weeks and see if everything else lifts; and if it doesn’t, then we’ll look at something else. 

I left that day knowing that iron tablets weren’t going to be the cure all. Simply because I have been tired since I was around fourteen; and at fourteen I was eating meat, getting enough sleep and being a typical teenager so using the reasoning of my vegan diet, I just knew it was something more. However, I’m a woman of my word so I took my iron tablets, went back a few weeks later to get a few blood tests, and booked another appointment to see a doctor for another few weeks down the line while I was there. 

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This time around, I didn’t have my regular doctor which was fine, because you have to wait a few weeks for an appointment so at this point, I just wanted to speak to someone! My notes from the previous session had been on the system (albeit very brief) and I talked about being there last time and how I had felt so I had been put on iron tablets but I didn’t feel any better, I actually felt worse. She had checked my results and my iron had shot up dramatically which I was shocked at because many people think that if your iron levels are normal, you aren’t as tired (I’m living proof that this is not the case). We determined that this was something else and I spoke about how I had been feeling, and ironically during this visit, I had been told I was being made redundant just a few days before so understandably, I was still very emotional and I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons I was feeling worse (though not the only reason). I know all about self-care and looking after yourself so I stressed that I socialised, I looked after my body with the food it needed and the exercise it craved. There’s this huge perception online that you can cure “sadness” (or whatever you choose to call it) with good food and exercise, and while that may be true for some, it’s not always the case for everyone else. I sat in tears because I was tired; I had spent the first part of the year feeling completely miserable (and the first three months crying almost every day at little things). I should have gone to the doctor earlier, I know that now but I thought the sadness was go away at some point. We talked about the options and I had mentioned that I was currently going through CBT and while it was working great with some areas of my life, my head wasn’t able to catch up. She asked me how I felt about anti-depressants, and I raised my concerns. I told her that I was worried about being on them forever because I didn’t want to dependant on a tablet forever and change my hormones; it’s actually a huge reason I have never been on birth control, because I wanted to be in control of my body. I was desperate, I sat there in tears and told her that I thought I was depressed and I had thought it for a while but I never wanted to admit it. I had only ever mentioned the emotion “depressed” very few times in that time period because I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed. I had been in pain for a while but because I thought it was “just go away”, I waited and waited and it only got worse. She confirmed that this was more than being “sad” and that it was much deeper; she said the anti-depressants would be my best option for now and down the road we would review it.  

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After hearing the horror stories of others saying that GP’s just want to hand out pills and be done with it; based on my experience this was not what happened with me. I felt listened to, I felt like both my GP’s had compassion and it wasn’t being dismissed. While I didn’t feel like the iron tablets would do anything at the first appointment, I know now they just wanted to check that was okay first before moving onto to something else. No GP has ever sat me down and told me I have depression so for that reason, I don’t feel like I can say I have depression but I describe them as depressive episodes. Do GP’s explicitly say “I’m diagnosing you with depression” I don’t know so that’s why I don’t like saying I have depression because it’s never been confirmed to me, but I know it’s more than a sad phase. 

As I mentioned at the beginning, there will be Part Two to this post (because I didn’t think that this would end up this long) and I’ll be discussing how I have felt over the last year being on anti-depressants and why my perceptions have changed completely on them.  

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; I know it’s quite a personal post but I thought it was important to talk openly (or as openly as I felt comfortable with) about what has been going on with my mental health. It can only take one conversation to help and while I’m not the most open person on the planet, I still think it’s important to talk to someone you trust AND a professional. Have a great day! ☀️

Six Lessons I Learned About The Job Interview Process.

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After being unemployed for almost five months, I had my fair share of interviews and it was incredibly frustrating because I simply wanted a job, and I kept getting so close but just missing out on the opportunity or sometimes, it wasn’t the right fit. In today’s post, I’m going to share what I think are my best tips in order to come across the best in a job interview and throughout the looking-for-a-job process. 

Learn about the company. 

At first, I thought this was the most obvious advice but I have heard quite a few stories of interviewees going into job interviews with their possible employer, and when asked “What do you know about our organisation?” They have simply said, “Only what’s on your website.” As respect to not only yourself, but to your potential employer, you should do your research. They have probably filed through dozens, if not hundreds of people to offer you an interview, and for you not to do your research; that opportunity could have been given to someone else. Even if you don’t understand what the company does, you could say that you have looked online and conducted research, but you would like a better understanding of what they do. That shows that you are interested in learning more. 

Ask at least one question at the end. 

Asking a question at the end of the interview is advice I got constantly, from people in real-life to online resources and when you put it into practice, you can see why. Your interviewer hasn’t necessarily have a wall built up because there’s a change when you turn the tables on them. You don’t have to ask anything complicated nor should you make it completely personal but I think it’s important to ask something which is relevant to the company. I prefer to ask “What do you like about working here?”, “Where would you like to see the company in five years?” or “Is there anything on my CV you would like to ask me about?” This also gives you a little break towards the end, to take a breath and breathe, because interviews are nerve-wrecking and it’s nice to have that little moment of space while they’re answering YOUR questions. 

Dress appropriately. 

Dressing appropriately can be a tricky one sometimes because if it’s smart casual; it’s easier for men (I believe) than women. I’m not saying you have to go out and buy yourself a brand new wardrobe but dressing appropriately for the job you have applied for, will come across to the employer that you are taking an interest. I wouldn’t turn up in a pair of trainers and tracksuit bottoms but I’m not going to turn up in a pair of heels that I can’t walk in either, in order to seem professional because it might have the opposite effect. 

Bring your experience into your answers. 

You can Google as much as you like about a certain job role, but if you can’t describe on how you would either handle a certain situation or how you have tackled a similar situation before, it can be hard to persuade employers. They’re looking for experience and I know it’s tough if you don’t have any but you can usually think of something in your life where you have been in charge. For example, if you’re coming out of school and straight into a job, you can use your role in a team for coursework to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of being in a group and how you would handle it differently next time. If you volunteer, you can talk about some of the issues that can come up during this, or if you’re coming from another role, you can talk about taking on the responsibilities in that job and how you were able to take control. 

Show your personality. 

I remember some of my first interviews and while I don’t think I necessarily did a bad job at presenting myself, I know the reason why I wasn’t at the top of their list. I was too tense; I was too concentrated on the answers I was giving and I didn’t give myself time to think about the answers. I constantly had a dry throat and one time I was so nervous, I had the bottle of water poured into the cup before the interviewers even said “There is water there for you if you need it”. You can bet, I felt really embarrassed at that moment. I was starting to get through to the interview stage more and more so that enabled me to feel better about going in each time; it helped that I had a really nicely presented CV that was colourful but not too over the top, I wanted it to reflect my personality. In my interests, I wrote (amongst others things) “eating vegan pancakes” and “drinking all the tea”; now that might not be appropriate for certain jobs but I wasn’t applying to be a doctor or a lawyer so I felt that was suitable. You can be qualified for a role but companies most of the time are also looking for someone who is going to fit into their work environment and be a team player so by showing your personality in a really fun but professional way, I believe it helps in a big way. 

Have standards. 

Having standards for yourself is something that can be quite hard to balance out especially if you are unemployed and you simply want a job. A problem I had when I was going through this stage, and my boyfriend disagreed with me at the time, was my standards. Now, I’m not saying that I was looking for all the money in the world and thinking I deserved that, because that wasn’t the case. It came down to money and while you might think (and my boyfriend even said this) “I don’t think you’re in the position to be picky about a job when you don’t have one” Fair enough point absolutely but I’m not willing to work for less than what I know I’m worth. I’ll give you an example; there was a job interview I went to that wasn’t very close to where I live so it would require four buses a day so instantly, I was thinking about the commute time and knowing how the Northern Ireland public transport system works, sometimes it’s not on time so you have to factor that in. Another thing was that is was minimum wage; now let me say that I don’t think there is anything wrong with minimum wage but my previous job was higher than the minimum and I also had to think of how I would survive on that. I have my own house which is rented so I have to pay someone each month, I have bills to pay, I have a little kitty to feed as well as myself and I also have to take care of other things around the house. Minimum wage wasn’t going to cover me and at the time, my boyfriend said “it can be something until you get a permanent job” and yes, that’s a perfectly fine point but why would I waste my employers time and more importantly, my own time training up for a job that I wasn’t planning on staying at for less than I could afford and adding in transport costs to that too. It didn’t make sense to me, and Scott disagreed with me greatly on this, but now I’m glad I stood my ground with my point.  

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Would you agree with me? What would you advice others to do in a job interview? Let me know either on my Twitter, my Instagram or let me know down below! Thank you so much for reading, I really do appreciate it! 

My Solo Experience With A Personal Trainer.

As a woman being very interested in fitness, I realised I hadn’t shared my one and only experience of having a personal trainer. It was around three years ago so I wasn’t as knowledgeable about fitness as I am now but I was willing to give it a go. That’s what today’s post is all about. 

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(Photograph from Pexels.com)

I had been at the gym for around a year and a half at this point and I wasn’t very close to the weights section at all. I was into cardio more than anything else; I had spent a year before I started going to the gym, working out in front of my TV so the cardio was nothing new but I wasn’t exactly pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t on the look out for a personal trainer but up popped a post on my news feed from a new training facility that had opened up a few miles away from me and to celebrate the opening, they were offering a discount. It worked out that it was only costing £10 for four sessions, which I thought was a bargain so I signed up. 

The woman who was my personal trainer was nice but was a little forward with me. We went through my diet and she seemed impressed with the majority of it; at this time I wasn’t vegan or vegetarian but I was gluten free and that limited my options severely. Now, I might not have known a lot about nutrition back then but even I knew that telling me that I shouldn’t eat carbs after 7pm was silly. I was still living at home so by the time I finished work, went to the gym and got home, it was after that time. I was told that the best meal for me would be chicken and vegetables. I wasn’t too overweight at that point and I simply wanted to lose a few pounds, so I wasn’t looking to drop a few stones. I still thought that the plain boring meal was excessive, I didn’t think that would work. 

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Our first training session was very different but I didn’t expect anything less because I had never done a personal training session before. We started off with our warm-up of course and then we had a mix of cardio and weights. That wasn’t a problem; the problem I had was the heaviness of the weights. I know when something is too heavy and these were, but she told me that I wasn’t used to them. I woke up sore the next day, and the next, and the next. It got to the stage where I couldn’t keep my arm straight for over a week, it really hurt and I had to walk around my office looking as if I was wearing an invisible bandage. I sent her a message a few days afterwards saying that I was really sore and I was told that I wasn’t used to the weights and it would be fine.  

I was dreading our second session to say the least, and I don’t remember a lot about it. I remember complaining about my arm and I really couldn’t believe that it was “getting used to the weight” I felt as if it was really hurt. I think we lowered the weights slightly but it was really tough. I also remember her asking me what I was going to have for dinner that evening and I said I was thinking of having sweet potato and even before I finished the sentence, she came out with “Oh no no, no carbs after seven, remember?” That infuriated me and I said that I would have some vegetables instead, but I think I went home and had sweet potato anyway. Again, I woke up the next day and the day after that, sore as ever. I sent her a message on Facebook letting her know that I didn’t think personal training was right for me so I wouldn’t be keeping up the sessions and she seemed fine about it. I had paid for the four sessions but I didn’t mind losing the other £20 because the pain I was in, was not worth the money to keep going. 

IMG_20170725_072959_792(Back when I first started running over a year ago.)

This entire experience put me off personal training for a long time. I didn’t like being given a limited diet to eat off, can you imagine if I had have been more naïve and stuck to it for a long time? What if I really thought that carbs after 7pm doesn’t work? It’s scary to think that information like this is being put out there. I also didn’t like being in that much pain, and believe me, from my very few weight exercises I had done in the gym back then, I knew the difference between brief muscle pain and pushing it too far pain.  

I believe the majority of personal trainers are out there to do good, I really do. I have been to a number of different group classes with different PT’s and they have been great but there are a small majority of trainers out there who are giving out horrible advice and that could put a dampener on the good guys. If you are interested in going to a personal trainer, my main advice would be do your research first! Find testimonials, read their reviews, find out about the work that they do (to see if it fits your goals) and consider their pricing (to see if it fits with your budget). A cheap offer might be convenient but is it too good to be true?  

I’m not against personal trainers at all and I believe the majority do fantastic work but if it is something you are very interested in, I don’t believe it’s something you can just find online in a few minutes. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post and if you have any experiences like this (or good ones too!) then pass them onto me because I’d love to give them a read. 

What I Learned About Myself During Unemployment: Reflections (Part Two)

In my last post (which is linked here) I talked about the negatives that I faced when I entered into unemployment during the Summer. Thankfully today’s post is slightly more upbeat with the positive things I learned about myself during this period so that’s what I’ll be discussing in this post. 

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As in my last post relating to this subject, I talked about how I have learned so much but I wanted to talk more in depth about the four most important lessons I have taken away from this.

I exercised more.

Exercise has been a huge part of my life for quite a few years; I’ve been a part of a gym for about six years and I’ve been participating in yoga for around two or three years (but that has dropped off the radar for me as I explained in this particular post). As well as becoming a runner too, I like to think I am an active person and I knew that this was the perfect time to get as much exercise in as I could. Now, I didn’t go every day and I wasn’t running as much as I could have, but to have the freedom to go to the gym or for a run at any time of the day, was quite nice. I started riding my bike more that my Dad’s wife gave me so that gave me the freedom to cycle further than I would probably walk or run realistically. I also fell in love with HIIT workouts (which I’ll link here) and that’s added lots of variety to my gym workouts which has given me a new boost of life in terms of exercise. 

I became more focused on my writing.

I realised I was able to become more focused on my blog for this period. I don’t plan to take blogging full-time but it was nice to be able to sit down for what felt like a full work day once a week, and plan out blog posts in a calm space. I usually wrote two in one day which is quite something for me and because I was in a different environment rather than my house, I felt more creative and it enabled me to write more. 

I realised it was a blessing in disguise.

I was told that “it could be a blessing in disguise” by quite a few people and I wasn’t sure if they were right. I very soon after that realised they were right because I realised I needed the break. I took holidays from my job just like everyone does but I never felt like I was on holiday. I felt the constant worry that I hadn’t planned something right or that I hadn’t done enough before I went off on my leave. Once I didn’t have any of that to worry about, that constant anxiety went away and I guess I didn’t realise how much of an impact it was truly having until I didn’t have it anymore. I gave myself time to adjust to the changes and once I knew, I was well and truly adjusted, I was able to work in small changes to my life when I did feel stressed, knowing that I would be able to handle it whenever I did get overwhelmed again. That included bringing meditation back in after not doing it for a while, journaling with daily affirmations and listening to podcasts instead of music. 

I had time to figure out what I wanted for the future.

It also gave me time to think about what I wanted to do with my career; being in the mid-to-late twenties is definitely a weird time because I feel like I’m running out of time even though I know I have at least forty more work years ahead of me. For that reason, I think it’s okay not to know completely what I want to do but the break has helped me look into future education plans that may help me further down the road. 

I’ve learned so much during this period of my life, good and bad but these were the main points I wanted to cover because they were the most powerful to me and I thought they would be relatable to someone going through something similar. Thank you so much for reading today’s post, I really appreciate it! 

What I Learned About Myself During Unemployment: Reflections (Part One)

This past Summer, I was made redundant and I learned quite a lot about myself during this period of unemployment, positives and negatives. I’ve decided to split this post up into two parts so today’s post will concentrate on the negatives and the next post (which I’ll link here when it’s live!) will focus on the more positive notes.

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In terms of my work history, the only other time I have been unemployed was for a period of about three months from when I finished college and when I started my previous job, but because this is under different circumstances, this is very different. I’m not used to having so much time on my hands and as much as I used to say “Oh, I don’t have time to do everything I want” you’d think that I would absolutely love having all the time in the world to do all my tasks. I had so much I wanted to do but because I had so much going on in not only my head but externally, anxiety kicked in and the first few weeks that I was off, I struggled to get out of bed if I didn’t have something planned for that day.

Instead of running you through every single thing that I learned (because we’d be here for a while) I thought I would talk you through the four most important things I have taken away from this experience. More importantly, what exactly I have learned about myself:

I became more attached to my relationship. 

I’ve been in my current relationship for almost a year and a half but at the beginning of the relationship, I was very straight with the fact that I wasn’t planning on seeing my boyfriend all the time. When I moved out on my own, I became very independent and I didn’t want anyone to take that away from me. Not that I think having a boyfriend takes your independence away of course, but I didn’t want to feel like I was constantly leaning on someone because I thought that I didn’t need to. Since I found out about my redundancy, I started to see Scott on a daily basis and while he doesn’t mind at all, it’s something that I noticed straight away and I wasn’t happy about it. I love seeing him but going from someone who was okay with seeing her boyfriend a few times a week to feeling vulnerable on a daily basis and needing that comfort, was really hard for me to grasp. I felt like I was turning into someone that I didn’t want to be. My self-confidence had taken a turn and it wasn’t all to do with my career, it was a build-up of other personal life issues.

My sleep routine went out the window. 

I had prided myself on working on the perfect sleep routine for the last few months and it was going perfectly. I had really worked on it because it’s not so easy to go to sleep at 10pm from someone who for years had went to bed between midnight and 2am. But then I didn’t have something to go to every day, I made plans but I didn’t have daily plans that meant I had to be up early each morning so that made it so much easier to fall back into my old ways, it was too easy in fact. In turn, it’s also made it hard to fall asleep, something which I have never had to deal with. I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat; whether that’s on the sofa, on a bus or in the cinema so for me not to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, was very odd.

I REALLY struggled with the bad days. 

The bad days were really bad days and I struggled dealing with them at first. It began months before when I struggled getting out of bed for work but now that I didn’t have that, it was a cycle of sitting up in bed and my head telling me that I couldn’t do it, so I lay back down. That routine happened quite a lot the first month. Over the course of the second month, I gave myself one day a week to let myself do nothing and I didn’t feel as guilty anymore because I had scheduled it. I still get my bad days but they aren’t as bad as they used to be because I know how to handle them now.

The realisation of how much I depended on a plan. 

I have always been a planner and all three of my previous are based on this particular point; I realised that I depended on a plan so much more than I thought. I’m not the spontaneous type; I like to know where I’m going, who I’m going with and what we are doing in advance, it’s the type of person I have always been. I try to “go with the flow” but I don’t believe it’s in my human nature (or maybe it is and I’m not willing to change). Not having a plan prompted me to become more attached to my boyfriend, to fall into an unhealthy sleep routine and have constant bad days; all because I didn’t plan ahead. It all makes sense doesn’t it? I like to know what I’m doing and if I don’t, then I worry that I have wasted the day because I didn’t fit in an activity or two. That then leads me to feel like I failed and I need comforted, so it’s no surprise that I felt extremely overwhelmed with the extreme change.

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Thankfully over these last few months, I have become much better at changing all four of these points. I no longer depend on my boyfriend as much (even though I can’t stay away too long from his amazing dinners), I now get myself up early no matter how late I stay awake and even if I lay in bed, I’m still awake. I still have the odd bad day but I find them easier to combat if I give myself small things to do and making a plan is now second nature to me again because I love planning out my week on a Sunday to make sure I at least have a few things going on during that week. Having something to look forward to; whether it’s my coffee shop day, a planned run or even going out for food shopping, it’s something that has really helped me mentally.

Thank you for reading today’s post, it’s a situation that I’m glad in the end, I was put in because it’s given me a lot of time to think and I believe that’s what I truly needed.  

What I’ve Learned From Being A Vegan For One Year.

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The magical first day of the year marked my one year anniversary of becoming a vegan. Over the last few months, I’ve written a number of blog posts about my vegetarian story and why I became vegan but today’s post is about what I’ve learned over the last year transitioning to this lifestyle.

Research is key.

I have always been the type of human who researches to the point of no control. I’m very heavily interested in finding out the maximum amount of information about a subject I’m interested in and veganism was no different. Now, thankfully I have scaled down my researching skills because I don’t have time like I used to, but I wanted to be well informed about what I was taking on. If you have read my other vegetarian and vegan posts, you’ll know that I cooked vegan meals for quite a few months so I wasn’t exactly going in at the deep end with Veganuary. Admittedly, I looked more so at what foods I could and couldn’t eat, and what little secret ingredients I had to keep an eye on rather than the animals issues surrounding veganism. I did over the next few months start to look into this.

Explaining myself isn’t always necessarily.

I quickly learned that I had to judge certain people very quickly when the subject of veganism came up. There’s a saying that goes like this: “You’ll know when someone is vegan because they will tell you.” In my experience, the fact that I’m a vegan has been brought up more by others than it has been by me. I’m really fortunate that the people that I choose to surround myself with, are genuinely interested in the subject and if they ask a question, they’re not doing it in a cruel way to make a joke out of it. I don’t mind answering questions about this way of life to people who are genuinely interested but I’ve learned that some people just want either make a joke out of it or are simply looking for an argument. It’s up to you how you handle those, I walk away because the way I see it is, it’s me living this life, not them.

I became more creative with my cooking.

There’s nothing more satisfying than cooking a meal from scratch when you know exactly everything that has went into it, because the majority of the time when you take the time to cook a meal, it works out healthier too. I was vegetarian for almost a year before I became vegan so I was mainly cooking vegan meals for the most part, so I knew what my staple meals would be. My boyfriend is a meat-eater and he loves cooking too so he would say himself that it’s helped him improve his cooking skills because he has had to find new recipes so they can be suitable for me. He has made lasagna, spaghetti bolognese, falafel and sweet potato burgers, just to name a few and he has said that you don’t lose any flavour with a meal just because it’s vegan.

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(This Christmas was my first Christmas as a vegan and it’s very safe to say that my boyfriend knocked it out of the park with what he served.)

I became more open minded.

From practising meditation on a daily basis, incorporating affirmations into my mindset, looking into the minimalist lifestyle and looking further into issues that surround the meat and dairy industry; I have become a more open minded person who is willing to educate herself. While not everyone will understand what you choose to do with your life; whether that is a different lifestyle to them or why choose to meditate, you have to take a step back from other people’s opinions and decide if they matter. Most of the time they won’t. You’re living your life, they are living theirs, and there’s nothing wrong with educating yourself more on subjects you are becoming passionate about or simply interested in.

I became more comfortable calling myself a vegan.

For the first numbers of months, I was very apprehensive about calling myself a “vegan” for two reasons. I didn’t feel like a vegan, yes I changed my diet to a vegan diet but I was still trying to figure out what household products, cosmetics and bath products to transition to so while I was going through that, I almost felt like a fraud saying I was something that I wasn’t. Over those next few months I realised that I’ll never be perfect, I’ll never be a one hundred percent vegan and no-one can be, it’s impossible. What is possible however, is trying your best because as cheesy as it sounds, we’re all learning at the end of the day. My second reason was, vegans sometimes get a bad reputation. You know what I mean; the one who preaches at you every time you eat meat, the one who judges you when you’re sitting in a restaurant, the one who will sit and tell you how you are hurting the environment and the animals, and the one who, will eventually have no friends if they keep acting like that. I don’t believe I’ve ever been a “preacher”; most of my friends and family eat meat and it’s really at the bottom of my list for me caring about that. As I said before, if people let me live my life, I’ll let people live theirs. It’s really that simple. Who am I to jump in and force my opinion down someone’s throat who might not necessarily want it? For those two reasons; learning that I can only improve myself and educate myself day by day, I became more comfortable with calling myself a vegan rather than just saying I eat a plant based diet.

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Being vegan, as cliche as it sounds, has become more than what I eat; it’s a large part of how I live my life and the last year has opened my eyes up to new people, new opinions and given me more of a sense of not caring what people think when it comes to this subject in particular. I hope you enjoyed today’s post and over the next few months, I’ll be sharing more of my vegan journey so I hope you take the chance to read those too.

If you’ve missed any of my posts related around food, they’ll be linked here:
How and Why I Turned Vegan
Becoming A Vegetarian
What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style
So what happened after Veganuary?

(Blogmas Day Sixteen) 8 Life Lessons 2016 Taught Me

Welcome to Blogmas Day Sixteen! There’s just one more Blogmas post left now!

So today’s post is Part Two of my 2016 series. If you’ve missed Part One, you’ll find it right here and that was Blogmas Day Fifteen. This post focuses on life lessons I learned this year, and I’m going to be completely honest, this is my most personal post to date on the blog. It’s very open and honest, and you might see it as a negative post but most of my life lessons I learned from the year, came from negatives experiences. That’s just the way it worked out.

Sometimes life is shit.

Yep, there I said it and let’s be honest, we all think it. Life is truly shit sometimes. People will drag you and make you feel like shit. Everything will become too much at times and you won’t know what to do. You’ll want to just crawl into bed sometimes, not talk to a single person and just sleep. You have to be your own positive influence in the end and teach yourself how to find the balance between letting yourself be upset and picking yourself up again. I understand that for everyone that is completely different and is a lot easier said than done.

People make mistakes. You are human.

Ever done something you regret? Ever done something you wish you could take back? Ever done something that you still makes you upset and want to block it out of your memory for good? Congratulations, you’re a human being! Learn from your mistakes, understand why you made them or why they happened, but never allow your mistakes to be held over you like you’re the only one to ever have made them.

Your past does not define you.

I have a past. You have a past. Your next door neighbour has a past. Your boyfriend or girlfriend has a past. We all do, and again, that is totally okay. Regret your past or embrace it, that’s up to you but at the end of the day, you have to move on from it. If you’re ashamed, you have to tell yourself that you aren’t that person you used to be; you’ve changed, you’re working every day to become a better person and that’s better than doing nothing about it at all.

Therapy was the best investment I have ever made.

I have been going to therapy for just over a year now and it truly is the best investment I have ever made. Everyone’s experience is different but mine was life changing and eye opening; I learned more about myself than I ever thought I could. I learn in every single session and I bring that experience into my every day life. Therapy was there for me when I was having the greatest days riding on Cloud Nine and it was also there when I felt like I couldn’t cope. I owe so much to this year to my counsellor and how she has helped me through the good and bad times.

Crying does not mean you are weak.

One of the most important lessons I learnt in therapy is that crying does not mean you are weak; crying is your body telling you have something to let out and let go. You build up so much emotion and so much tension, where else is it meant to go? It’s natural to cry, don’t be ashamed of it.

Heartbreak is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I went through a break up this year, not something that I decided to share a lot on social media. It broke me into a million pieces, it was really really hard. Now don’t get me wrong, I used to be engaged to a guy I was with for six years so this wasn’t my first relationship (It was only my second) but this relationship was nothing like my previous one. Nothing can prepare you for the heartache (pre and post break-up), the constant stream of tears, the flowing stream of thoughts of blaming yourself and the what if’s, absolutely nothing can prepare you. It’s hard, it sucks (I really wouldn’t wish it on anyone) but you learn more about yourself than ever before after it.

Friendship is so important.

My friendship group this year became rock solid for me in the past six months and I am beyond grateful for everyone who has been there for me. I gained a new best friend, Leonie has become my rock, she’s the best ❤ (and thank you for reading my blog Leonie!), Toni and Andrew have listened to my stories over and over again along with lots of tea, Caoimhe was there to comfort me with nights to Pizza Express and a tearful night over Indian food and finally Eoin, who I missed so much and I’m so glad to have back in my life again. Never ever underestimate your friends and how much of a positive influence friends can have on your life, in the good and the bad times.

You will be okay.

No matter what you’re going through, you will be okay. If you miss your bus, if you go through a break up, if you have a horrible day at work, if you feel like you can’t cope with what life throws at you, you will be okay. When you’re going through something at the time, you don’t believe it. You think that you’ll feel this forever and that it will never go away, trust me, it really really does become better.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post, it was quite a big one for me and despite how it looks, my year wasn’t all bad, but at times I definitely felt like it had completely defeated me.