25.8.15

Stuck

Two and a half years ago I began my journey to corrective double jaw surgery, 18 months of braces pre op and 6 months of braces post op. A correct bite with my top teeth in front of my bottom teeth is what I should have now but I don't. I've written about this before, about how it has been a struggle to get my surgery, how my underbite has been affecting me, damaging my mental health, challenging me everyday but today, although having a breakthrough getting a meeting with a surgeon next week I still feel stuck.

You might be questioning why I feel stuck, its just an underbite but its more than that, its the control and power this underbite has over me. People have told me that I need to stop this controlling, I need to move on and get on with my life. So far this underbite has prevented me from perusing interviews to spend my summer working in America, redoing a college placement in order to continue as a community and youth work student, it has completely taken control of my life.

How do I take back control?  How do I move forward? How to I lessen the impact of this underbite in my life? How do I just forget abut surgery and just get on with my life? This has been such a huge part of my life for so long and I have got so close to surgery yet now I'm facing another long wait for surgery with might not even happen this side of Christmas. I feel as I have reached my limit and I just don't know how to move on right now? How do I get on with my life?

7.8.15

Good things come to those who wait

How do you deal with always being let down? How do you deal with people getting your hopes up only to have them destroy them? Do you accept it and move on with your life? Do you fight back even harder than before or do you just give up, finally let them win, let them take every ounce of fight, of drive, of energy that you have and just give up?

I have an underbite, that’s nothing new I’ve had it for years I also have braces which were phase one on my journey to corrective double jaw surgery. Most people don’t think it’s a big deal having an underbite and sure why would you? So what if your bottom jaw is out further than your top jaw? Who cares right? Well it’s not about what other people think it’s about you! It’s about how you feel about it.

I have been waiting for this surgery for a while now and I have known about it for many years but as I was still growing my treatment couldn’t begin until I was 18 years old. I’m 20 now and have had my braces on for 2 and a half years, I was only meant to have them for 18 months pre op and 6 months post op, I am still awaiting my surgery, a surgery which will change my life. I’ve been told a couple of times my surgery will happen, last summer, before the end of last year and then again I was told I would have it in July, but this time, this time I was that much closer. I had had my first planning meeting with the promise of another planning meeting in June and then hopefully my operation in July. It didn’t happen. I know I have to be prepared for the chance of my surgery getting cancelled on the day due to emergency cases, which is something I have accepted but I am constantly being told it is going to happen and then it doesn’t. Before it was a case that my teeth were not ready, there wasn’t much I could do about it that time but this time it’s due to a lack of surgeons. A lack of surgeons! Really! I was ready this time, soups made and frozen for after surgery, money to buy medication and pay the hospital bills and my hospital bag was just about ready to be packed but then of course it happened, I got the all too familiar news that my surgery was being postponed once again and that my surgery might, just might possibly happen before the end of the year.

Now I’ve fought my corner, I’ve made endless phone calls and my orthodontist has made endless phone calls but were now at the stage that there is nothing more I can do! I was advised to continue calling the surgeons office and so today I began once again my endless calls only to be told that they were unsure as to where the surgeon was and that he could possibly be on annual leave. How do you not know where the person you work for is? Surly you would be aware if he/she was on annual leave? Nevertheless I was once again left no closer to surgery.

People don’t understand the effects of having an underbite and of course unless you have experienced it I cannot expect you to. But it’s hard, it’s hard to live with an underbite. Yeah I have trouble eating some foods but it goes beyond that, it goes deep into how it makes me feel. Every time I walk out the front door I feel as if people are staring at me, every time I look in the mirror I feel disgusted by how I look, every time I brush my teeth I am reminded of this underbite. I just so desperately want to have a normal looking face and by normal I mean the way my jaw is meant to be, I just don’t want my bottom jaw sticking out so much, is that too much to ask?

I have nights where I cry myself to sleep because I hate how I look, I have days where I don’t want to get out of the bed because people will see my underbite and I have days where I just wish, I just wish I could move past this, move on with my life but I can’t, I don’t have the strength to move past this, not right now.

Sometimes I wonder whether or not getting this surgery is causing more harm than good. I cannot wait until the day I am brought into hospital for the 5-6 hour surgery but right now, the waiting, the not knowing, the constant disappointment it’s not doing me any good, if anything its making me feel worse, its making it harder to cope and it’s making things harder to face. Should I continue to let this take hold of me so much so that I revert back to self-harming because in the past my underbite and the lack of a surgical date have let to self-destructive behaviour. But how do I prevent it, dealing with my underbite on a daily basis take every ounce of my energy, it take every ounce of my strength not to self-harm and I right now am at the stage where I don’t know what to do anymore. Sure I can keep ringing and ringing but if people are unaware of where the surgeon is right now it’s not going to do much more.

Fighting this battle is much more than getting my surgery, fighting this battle will be an achievement for me, a sign of strength and a sign of resilience but with disappointment at every turn it is difficult to continue, it is difficult to feel like I matter, and it difficult to feel like things can change and that good things do happen.

They say good things come to those who wait, but how long must I wait?


1.8.15

National Girlfriends Day

Today August 1st , marks a very important day for us women, today marks National Girlfriends Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness and showing the importance of looking after not only our own health but also encouraging our friends to look after their health.

Looking after our health goes beyond a trip to the doctor if we’re feeling a bit under the weather or taking some lempsip if we have the flu, looking after our health involves mental health, physical health, our unhealthy habits, what we eat, exercising, pregnancy and so much more. A lot of people don’t know what to do though to look after their health, yeah we all know we shouldn’t eat junk food and we all know we need to get some exercise but do we all know how often we should go to the doctor or do we know what vaccines we need to get every year? I know I sure didn’t, and what’s even worse on my part is that I don’t do as much as I should to ensure my physical health as so much of my life has been spent battling mental illness that now as I have finally got things under control I am working on maintain my mental health that my physical health often gets left unattended to. Finding the balance between looking after our mental health and out physical health is something we all need to do! Weather its realising we need to spend a bit more time exercising or if we need to spend a bit more time talking about the stress in our lives finding the balance is key to ensure our health.

National Girlfriends Day is a way of ensuring us women know what we need to do to keep ourselves in tip top shape but it also helps us recognise ways in which we can encourage and support our friends to pay more attention to their health. We all have worries and concerns throughout life regarding our health but sometimes it can be less stressful if you have a friend on your side to go through it with you. I know if I didn’t have my friends with my when I was suffering the most with my depression my suicide attempts would not have just been attempts and the first one would have been a success.

It’s the little things that make a difference like reminding someone they should get a breast check or offering to go to the doctor with them even just a simple text asking how they’re doing today can make some focus more on their health. So if there is one thing you do today let it be to send a simple text asking a friend how they are doing or even head out for a walk with a few of your friends, let today be the beginning of your improved awareness of your health and let today be the day you begin to help encourage your friends to be aware of their health! Be sure to check out the infographic by Oscar Health Insurance in the sidebar for more information on the check-ups you need throughout your life. 

28.7.15

Failure

During my final year of secondary school I work really hard to ensure a spot on the Maynooth University Community and Youth Work course and after personal statements, written assessments, group interviews, individual interviews and achieving the right grades in my leaving cert I was lucky enough to get a spot, 1 of just 40. I was thrilled, over the moon, excited and looking forward to moving onto a new chapter in my life. I thought I had it all figured out, becoming a community and youth worker, get a job, a nice place to live and who knows maybe even move to Boston but of course not everything goes according to plan.

I made it through first year of college and had a pretty good placement which I loved every minute of and still today volunteer there, but then, then second year came along. Starting the year with another placement after two weeks preparation in college I struggled a lot to settle in, find a routine and to be honest I didn’t enjoy it all that much. It was a tough placement, conducting research which I had not previously done, moving between three different towns for groups and then of course there was the mental health aspect. Having just begun DBT and also begin the trial run off my medication the stress of my placement contributed to the downward spiral and the beginning of self-harm once again. It was a huge struggle to even make it through the three months of placement and someone even suggested I put things on hold for a while.

I can be stubborn at times and so I struggled through my placement ignoring the negative effect it was having on my mental health, there were many days missed because I did not have the will power or energy to get out of bed, there were groups which had to be removed from my schedule and there were groups which I was merely just another body in a room, struggling just to engage in conversation with the young people. Nevertheless I somehow managed to make it through but only to find out when I was back in college that I had not managed to complete my placement successfully.
Due to the requirements I made the difficult decision to move to Applied Social Studies in order to continue on in college and also graduate with my class next year, the only difference is I will not have a professional community and youth work degree. Despite being happy with my decision I cannot help but feel like I have failed, like I am a failure. I feel as if I have failed the department, I feel like I have failed my family but most of all I feel like I have failed myself. I know what my options are and I know that I still have the options of becoming a fully qualified community and youth worker but it might just take a little bit of extra time and a slight change of focus but right not I am struggling to move past this feeling of failure.

How do I move on from feeling like I am a failure? Do I just accept it and move on? Do I dwell on it until I realise I may not have actually failed? Do I get angry about the fact that my mental health issues have once again begin to impact on my life? Do I take it out on myself? Do I forget about it and just drop out of college? What do I do? Right now I’m not really sure where I stand on this but right now I’m focusing on getting through my finally year, right not I just want to graduate and move on.

30.6.15

A letter to my mum


Mum,

We are fast approaching your 10 year anniversary. Can you believe that? I still remember the day you left us like it was yesterday and as hard as it is not to have you here with us now I am glad you have had your pain and suffering taken away.

I often find myself questioning things, like why you got cancer, why you died, why we couldn’t just have a bit more time with you and I always come up with the same answer every time and that answer is that everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason yet I’m still struggling to find the reason for you dying, why I was left without a mother at the tender age of 10 when I needed you the most. Everything happens for a reason but what could possibly justify a 10 year old having to watch her mother die?

I know it’s not your fault that you died and it certainly wasn’t your fault that you got cancer but when you died I couldn’t help but be angry at you. I couldn’t understand why you would leave me, why you couldn’t just fight for a bit longer but in truth I had lost you before you even died. In the weeks up to your death it was clear you weren’t the caring, kind, loving, unique mother you once were. What you had become was a frail, pain stricken women who needed her suffering to end. I see that now and I understand that now, my anger towards you is gone and I can only hope for your forgiveness for having so much anger and resentment towards you for dying.

I’m not entirely sure what my stance is on religion and to be honest it’s not something I have thought much about but I know you once had a special place in your heart for religion and I can only hope you have made it to heaven. I like to think that you’re somewhere right now with your mum and dad, hopefully looking down on me. I really do hope I have made you proud over the years despite all the pain and suffering I have caused the rest of the family.

There are nights where I lie awake crying because I miss you so much, wishing for just one more day, one more cuddle, one more conversation and a chance to see your smile just one more time. It hurts knowing that I will never see you again, never get to hold your hand again. It hurts knowing you won’t be there on my wedding day, knowing you won’t meet your grandchildren and most of all it hurts knowing that I will never get to hug you and feel 100% secure like I once used to.

You were my rock and you are my idol. I can only hope I will become half the women you once were. Still today I meet people who knew you and it brightens my day when I meet these people because I know that you have left an imprint on more than just your family and that you will never be forgotten!

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about you, where I don’t miss you and where I don’t wonder why you had to be taken away from us. Every day I look in the mirror and try and find similarities between our faces hoping I can be as beautiful as you. Not a day goes by where I don’t question if I am making your proud and if I am becoming the young women you once hoped I would be. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of your smile and feel your love rush through me and not a day goes by without me wish for my mother back!

10 years is a long time and soon we will be officially marking the 10 years since you have passed. It has been a hard 10 years and even now I am still trying to comprehend that it has actually been 10 years. Its hard to accept that you are gone, that you have missed half of my life but I know you are still with me, somewhere and always you are with me. I hope I have made you proud and I hope to make you proud in the future. You were truly a one in a million mother and nothing will ever change your uniqueness.

I love you to the moon and back,

Love Siobhán xxx

26.6.15

Display or Disguise?

As someone who used to engage in self-harming behaviour I am now left with marks all over my body, marks which will remain on my body for the rest of my life. These marks were once something which I looked forward to seeing, something which I felt I needed in order to get through the day and something which I wanted but now, now this is not the case and these marks are for life.

I try very hard not to let my past define but it is hard, how can I not let it define me when the pain and suffering which I experienced is written all over my body in the form of scars? Lines from my knees to my hips, from my stomach to my chest and from my wrists to my shoulders. Lines which symbolise a time in my life where I experienced nothing but pain, I struggled to see the good in each day and a time when I was ready to take my own life in the hope of finding some peace and removing myself as a burden to my family.

These lines aren’t just any lines, it’s clear they are scars and it is clear that they are scars from self-harming, I can’t hide that fact, it is obvious what they are! But I’m letting them control me, I am letting my past keep me from moving on. For fear of being judged and ridiculed I hide my scars as much as possible but I can’t hide them for the rest of my life. Yeah from time to time I will wear a t-shirt without long sleeves, when I’m competing in athletics I will wear my singlet without sleeves and if I am too warm I may roll up my sleeves or take off my jumper but then things get awkward. Then people begin to stare and it is clear what they are staring at. I try hard not to let it get to me but it is hard, very hard. What’s even harder than dealing with judging me and staring at me is knowing when it is ok to not cover my scars.  I question wheatear its ok for children to see my scars, it is ok for me to expose young people to self-harm so early in life, even if they are not aware of what the scars are from?  And is it ok that I am lying to them when they ask what they are should they see them? 

When I volunteer with an organisation and even in my job I am usually open and honest about my previous self-harming behaviour and two out of the three organisations I volunteer with have told me not to tell anybody who asks that it was self-harm. Is this right? I know that really young children will not understand self-harm and for my own benefit more than theirs I usually make up a story nut for older children, for young people, for people who know what it’s from should I really avoid using the term self-harm? Should I make up a story? It’s like I’m being forced to be ashamed of my past, like it’s something to be hidden and if I continue to hide it am I not feeding into the stigma surrounding mental health? And it’s more than just being ashamed or feeding into the stigma it’s the lying about what my scars are from. I spent most of my teenage years hiding my scars and cuts and lying about my self-harm and I don’t want to go back to those old habits and again it goes beyond that, it’s the trust I have built up with young people and to lie straight to their face, what kind of youth worker does that make me?

I still have a long way to go in fully accepting my scars but being told not to admit to what has caused my scars limits me that bit more from accepting them. I understand the damaging effects a person seeing scars like mine can have should they be experiencing self-harm but when I look at myself, when I move beyond all my scars and really look deep down I see what I have accomplished, how far I’ve come and I see that I didn’t let my mental illness and self-harming destroy my life completely and I see that I gained back control. Sometimes I feel if a young person can see I came out the other side then it’s worth not covering my scars, even if it only gives them a glimpse of hope that things can and really do get better.

6.3.15

Young People in Ireland: What's behind the stereotype?

As a  youth worker (currently a volunteer youth worker) it is important to ensure young people are given the chance to be heard. It is important that negative stereotypes associated with young people are challenged and that young people are given the chance to have their say regarding these stereotypes, what they think about the stereotypes if any that have been imposed on them and how they themselves challenge these stereotypes and their overall opinions regarding stereotypes.


Interview No. 6







What’s your name? 
Melody B
What age are you?
20
Where do you live/ where are you based?
Dublin
What stereotypes has Irish society put on you as a young person today? 

I've been stereotyped into many categories, I've been 'emo' a 'rocker' and especially a 'fangirl' at one point but then biggest one is that 'big bubbly girl'.
Looking beyond that stereotype who are you? (How would your friends, family, and yourself describe you?) 
Most girls and boys whom are happy with who they are and have a giddy sense of humour know what it's like to be the 'big bubbly person of the group' it's just something that happens. I've been put into many stereotypes but that was probably my main one. Though the bubbly personality has nothing to do weight or height I am bubbly at heart, and happy, I believe in positivity and karma, I'm not very religious any more, which is just something I accept. I'm very caring, I'd do anything for my friends and family. I'm very stubborn at times and moody though, I am only 20 and still trying to find who I am, but I think I'm a good person at heart, I believe I am, and even when I have my moments and mess up I do try and fix it.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy writing and singing (even if I'm not the best singer in the world) playing video games with my friends. I also love helping people with problems! I also love blogging, and playing around with make up, going shopping even if it's just window shopping and just chilling with my friends and watching movies, the typical things.
How do you contribute to Irish society? (Any small thing, what do you hope to do in the future e.g. college courses which will allow you to contribute to Society). 
In college I'm currently studying media/journalism and I'm nearly finished, I don't want to do the typical journalism thing, I don't really know what I want to do with this degree, somehow I hoped it could go into psychology. I really want to help in some way with mental health issues and helping people. Since I love it! I've done numerous things to help raise money for charity but I really want a job which will help people in some way. I've always thought in the back of my mind midwifery or mental healthy nurse but I've never had the courage to pursue that. I suppose I'm just on a journey trying to find myself. I am only 20, but I don't want people and their stereotypes and negative ways of thinking to effect my ways of thinking or finding myself!
What would you like to say about stereotypes imposed on young people in Ireland?
I would like to say to society as a whole, and I'm talking to myself when I say this too, as I am part of it. We all need to chill out, that's a loose term. But we spend more time online and judging people then we think. I am a good person, and I believe I help my family and friends and most of society are good people, but there is always that part of us that will judge no matter what, even if it's an outfit a celebrity wore, or someone you don't necessarily have a good relationship doing something silly, that may make them happy but we let out negative thoughts suppress our humanity sometimes. I think it takes time and effort as an individual to stop and thinking before we say things. Maybe in the future stereotypes and judging will have died down, but I don't think it will happen any time soon. I've vowed to myself to think before I speak and work on myself and what I say and do and I think if everyone did the same it will pass on and on and eventually maybe the world won't be such a negative place! I believe in negative moments, not negative people. So I think society has its negative moments but it also has it's good moments, like people coming together and helping out in poor countries, or when a world event happens that destroys homes and society does do a really good job most of the time, it just has it's negative moments and I don't think that will go completely, at all, but it may tone down in the future!

27.2.15

Young People in Ireland: What's behind the stereotype?

As a  youth worker (currently a volunteer youth worker) it is important to ensure young people are given the chance to be heard. It is important that negative stereotypes associated with young people are challenged and that young people are given the chance to have their say regarding these stereotypes, what they think about the stereotypes if any that have been imposed on them and how they themselves challenge these stereotypes and their overall opinions regarding stereotypes.




Interview No. 5





What’s your name? 
Aine L
What age are you?
20
Where do you live/ where are you based?
Galway
What stereotypes has Irish society put on you as a young person today? 
The only stereotype I can really think of is nights where I don't drink. I don't usually drink and I feel that because of that people presume you're quite 'innocent' or harmless and that you're not really into fun wild things.
Looking beyond that stereotype who are you? (How would your friends, family, and yourself describe you?) 
My friends and family would describe me as extremely outgoing and bubbly- have often said that even when I do drink it's nearly pointless because my personality doesn't change- unlike most peoples.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing?
I love typical young person things ie hanging with friends, watching movies, listening to music - I really enjoy trying new things too.
How do you contribute to Irish society? (Any small thing, what do you hope to do in the future e.g. college courses which will allow you to contribute to Society). 
I've done lots of charity work in the past, the most recent thing being helping kids read and do their homework in a disadvantaged school, I hope to contribute by doing more things like that and to some day become a kids presenter.
What would you like to say about stereotypes imposed on young people in Ireland?
I think there are a lot of stereotypes surrounding young people and drink that give everyone a bad name.