Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year, Not New Me



So, just in case you didn't know, it's new years eve. Tomorrow morning is the start of the new you, just in case you didn't know.

I don't believe in the whole "new year new you" rubbish, if you really wanted to change that much would you wait until one specific day to do it? No. Just start when you feel like it. I feel like making a resolution generally sets you up for failure because by the 5th January everyone has caved and is either heading for the wine or the chocolates and that gym membership you paid for a mere 5 days ago is a waste of money. Most magazines are throwing all of the "get your bikini body" front pages at us, c'mon, you live in England, weight loss is not what you need in winter. We get about one week a year to get our milk-bottle legs out and the rest of it is spent wrapped in about 100 layers to make our awful weather almost bearable.

Eeee I should stop moaning on like an old lady!

On a more positive note, there are lots of lovely things I wish to happen in 2014 but I won't say them out-loud because then they might not happen. I think that's the way resolutions should be, secrets, then there is less pressure to keep them. If they happen YAY but if not noone will be able to tell you that you failed. So I hope all of your secret resolutions work out!

I will say one out-loud resolution: This year I will buy a new work shirt because mine is getting a bit ridiculous.

Hannah x

*Beth, you little angel, you know the crack...or at least you will at midnight :)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

15 Minutes Live - Just Like Heaven



Sorry for going a bit quiet, been mega busy! However, I come baring good news! At the beginning of November I was in Leeds with The Writing Squad and Slung Low Theatre for 15 Minutes Live, and now the radio plays are finished. Here are all of the plays on Push 3:


Definitely all worth a listen!

Merry Listening

Hannah x

Sunday, 8 December 2013

This Week



This week seems to have went on forever and has been really difficult for a number of reasons, so much so that I am out of words. I'm not sure I even know what I want to say never mind how to say it so I'm going to borrow the words of others in my current time of blankness.

"My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations." 
John Green - The Fault in Our Stars

People say that bad luck comes in threes but I'm telling you I'm probably closer to thirty-three lots of bad luck in the last 6-8 weeks. I'm just starting to wonder when on earth this streak is going to end, I'm hoping for a positive start to the new year because my little head is a bit crushed by it all at the minute. When I say I have no words at the moment I think it's because my brain is having a hard job processing everything that is going on at the moment. My head is worried about friends struggling with mental health problems who are just generally feeling life to be an upward struggle at the moment. The other half of my head is sad, I go to a lovely close knit church with my mam and this week an amazing woman, Christine, died; it came as a shock to everyone and her family are in my prayers at such a difficult time, especially how close it is to Christmas. I thought I'd share with you the bible verse from today's service, which seems appropriate in troubling times:

"Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."
Romans 5:3-5

My head is trying to make sense of so many things that it is actually making sense of nothing which, as a writer, I find very difficult. Usually I understand things or if I don't I can write for a bit and find the answers but as I said, I've got very little words of expression at the moment. At this time of year I am normally well into the Christmas spirit, my spirit normally starts in September! But this year I feel a little bit cut off from things and don't really feel like involving myself in much at all. Yes, I am still seeing my friends and going to work but it all feels like going through the motions and the fact that I can't actually explain this properly makes everything just hard.

“Did you ever walk through a room that's packed with people, and feel so lonely you can hardly take the next step?” 
Jodi Picoult - Second Glance

So, when you're dashing around in a blur of Christmas cheer this festive season spare a few moments to think about those who won't have quite as smooth a time this year. Those of you who fall into this category, you have my prayers. God bless.

"We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken."
John Green - Looking for Alaska

Hannah x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Clustering and Slipping Through the Net


Care clustering in mental health is something that I've been wanting to write about for some time and today my anger at the system has finally reached a level which warrants me ranting it out on here.For those of you who don't know clustering is a method of coordinating care in a way that mental health service users are compartmentalised into different groups in accordance with the characteristics they display. Basically, in order to receive treatment from certain areas you have to tick the relevant criteria, so what happens if you don't tick those boxes? You can't get treatment and slip through the net.

What we have here is a health system that raves on about early intervention at the same time as running criteria-led services; surely I can't be the only one thinking these are totally incompatible concepts? Two areas in which I think criteria-led services are particularly destructive are: eating disorders and addictions where a service user is also suffering with another mental health need.

There is tons of literature which support the need for early intervention in anorexia in order to increase recovery chances however, here lies a problem. Criteria-led services make this almost impossible, I wish it was enough for people who feel like they both need and want help to be able to access it and if I'm honest I think it needs to be that way. The state services are in at the moment you have to be almost at deaths door in order to be taken seriously. It has to be one thing or another: you either go for early intervention or you have people needing to tick boxes to fit criteria. Well you know what, funnily enough, people don't work that way. Not every illness is textbook but should that mean that they aren't offered the treatment and support they need? I think not. Imagine if you walked into A&E with a broken arm and were met with a Doctor who told you it wasn't quite broken enough because it hadn't broken the skin so they can't treat it until it's at that state? It's hard to imagine isn't it? That's because it wouldn't happen. So why is it okay to tell someone with anorexia their BMI isn't low enough to meet treatment requirements? It shouldn't be.

Which came first: the chicken or the egg; the substance misuse or the mental health problem? Does it really matter? Well, according to services at the moment, yes, it matters. Then BAM you end up with inter-service politics of mental health services not wanting to treat someone until they have dealt with their substance misuse problems; I don't understand why the "system" won't allow for both to happen efficiently side-by-side. If substance misuse and mental health are in fact synonymous with the chicken and the egg scenario surely to achieve ultimate recovery in both areas they both require addressing at the same time to avoid one constantly causing a relapse of the other? Instead however you get people trying to self medicate with illicit substances in order to cope with their mental health problems in a bid of self-help because lets be honest, this sort of treatment system lets people down.

Clustering and criteria-led services cannot possibly be a sustainable future for mental health care services; surely sometime soon people are going to start and realise that by trying to fit people into neat little categories they are letting the people who most want and need treatment down. This makes me genuinely sad because once someone gets into services there are some fabulously dedicated professionals working hard to support those in need; it's getting to that help that's the problem.

Hannah x

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Bus Blogging 3rd December 2013


This is my first post of my "thoughts on my way to work" series and it's related to last nights post on Tom Daley making headline news for coming out to be dating a man. I mentioned in the previous post that coming out as gay/lesbian/bisexual isn't going to be made instantly better just because it's splattered across front pages everywhere; that just shows it to be such a big deal when it would be nice for it to just be normal. This brings me on to what I actually want to say, you know what is sadly normal for young people? Hearing gay as an insult. My friend did a talk on "the gay silence" and other than it making me cry it made me think how impossibley difficult our society still makes it for the LGBT of our community. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've had my fair share of name-calling hurled at me but I guess I knew that once I got out of year 11 those people who had nothing better to do with their time would disappear and everyone else would grow up. The use of gay as an insult, however, hasn't disappeared, I still hear it at least once a day and still wonder how and why it is actually a thing? Most people are like "why do you care, you aren't gay" that's true, I'm not, but does that mean I shouldn't care? I hope not because after hearing the torment my friend had to put up with was enough to make me care more.
Hannah x

Monday, 2 December 2013

What's News?


I am currently watching the 10 O'Clock news and a breaking news story is the fact that Tom Daley has came out to be dating a man. Towards the end of the show Daley's face was also seen to be plastered across the front of tomorrow's tabloids; reporters protesting how great this is for LGBT equality. How is that headline news?! The news had people wittering on about how brave he is and how it will make it easier for other young people to come out. Exactly what about plastering it as shocking headline news will make it easier. You know what would make it easier, making it normal. Dating a man should be just as normal as dating a woman. This is by no means a criticism of Daley; more a criticism of society and the media. What Daley did by making a Youtube video was normalise what he had to say; there was no big drama or spread in a trashy woman's magazine. There was just a man telling people he is happy to be dating someone and it doesn't matter if that someone is a man or a woman. Some people like men, some people like women, some people like both and some people like neither; that's just how it is, time to get over it.

For those of you who haven't seen Daley's video here it is:

Hannah x

Friday, 29 November 2013

Things I've Learnt From Emily Park


Emily Park is one of my best friends, our friendship is based mostly around tap-dancing penguins, fajitas and the fact that we are both unlikely hip-hop enthusiasts. I have meant to write this blog post for awhile and now that I haven't blogged in a little while is the time for it. So here are the things I've learnt from the one and only Emily Park.

1. Contrary to popular belief having a wardrobe of entirely white clothing is totally sustainable; even when you have a fajita fuelled life.

2. Just because a person owns 5 cats it does not mean that they will appreciate additional cat items. Cat items include: jumpers with cats on, cat calendars, cat pens, cat notebooks etc. etc. HOWEVER, unicorn horns for the current cats are totally accepted.

3. No matter how little time you have in your day there is always time for an emergency fajita break.

4. There are stringent criteria for people you can talk to on a night out, ones who look like Anakin Sykwalker and ones who are trained in restraint are two key types of people.

5. When you lose your cat and he eventually returns the only appropriate response is to lift him above your head and sing The Circle of Life.

6. It is perfectly acceptable for our friendship to be fuelled by the fact we have mutual anger about the way most things in the world work.

7. Unicorn is an appropriate colour adjective. It is most often used in the context of nail varnishes, as in the colour resembles a variety of nail varnish a unicorn would wear.

8. It is acceptable to get a McDonald's Happy Meal on your way home from a night out but you must put vodka into the drink...

9. There is no sadness that cannot be solved by DJ Flula videos.

10. Everyone needs someone to sit through 6 hours of hip-hop dance-offs with.

Bet you're all secretly jealous that she isn't your friend!

Hannah x

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Why Writers Read



I have been in a very "thinky" mood today which usually results in me over thinking literally everything in my life and I end up concluding imminent death, thankfully it wasn't quite that dire today. I got onto thinking about how I haven't really written much this week; sometimes I feel dried up on the writing front. This week I've kind of felt like someone has shredded my internal book pages so now all of the things I want to say are all scattered inside of me which is most frustrating. I talked to a friend about this and then decided on "Why Writers Read".

I think as a writer I read back over things (usually via my Inspiration Board) other people have written when I can't explain things to myself or I can't articulate it in the way I want to. It doesn't annoy me that other people have the words I don't, if anything I reckon it makes my book feel a little less shredded. I think to some degree I read with my writing head on because I'm somewhat angry that I can't fix together the words I want.

as said by Peyton Sawyer(:  im a lyric girl too.
Peyton Sawyer - One Tree Hill
A good example of me just being totally in awe of another writer and the way they explain concepts is the way the character Peyton Sawyer is scripted in TV Series One Tree Hill.

"I want to believe in it all again, art and music, fate and love, and I want to believe 
that I've made the right choices, and I'm still on the right path, and there's still 
time to fix some mistakes I've made. I guess I want hope."

So I guess when I read, I am reading for answers to the questions of my shredded up book.

Hannah x

Monday, 11 November 2013




I think I am a script writer.

Last night I had a Script Writers Anonymous Group (SWAG) meeting, a place for non-conformist writers* to go when they aren't quite ready to admit that they are Script Writers. A place where you can discuss your on-going prose issues, a place to moan about the fact that 95% of your prose is actually dialogue and the only bits that aren't are the "he saids/she saids". So after about 3 hours of writers problems I have concluded that yes, I am a script writer. So we decided to try and look at the perks of being a script writer over a novelist. One perk: script writers stand more chance of being able to to leave the house, even if it is to attend SWAG.

Hannah x

*note, writers only includes myself and Ben.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

15 Minutes Live - Slung Low Theatre Group


So this weekend I was in Leeds for 15 Minutes Live, a show produced by Slung Low Theatre Group but for it to make sense we need to go back three years to when I was still at school.

I was 16 and should have been revising for an AS Psychology exam but instead I procrastinated by writing, because I am a writer and that's what we do when we know we should be doing something more important. At the time of writing The Cure were the backing track to my life, no I wasn't trying to be all tortured artisty, I just like them, see other blog post. So I sit and write what I thought was short prose based around Just Like Heaven by The Cure. It was a stereotypical teenage girl soppy love story which I am totally not into usually but hey it wasn't Psychology revision and no-one else was going to read it. Think again Hannah, think forward three years.

So three years later that so called prose piece becomes a radio play thanks to The Writing Squad, Slung Low Theatre Group and fabulous editing by Jess Brown. It is bizarre to see what was a figment of my imagination performed but I am so grateful for how well articulated it was. Actors Jo Mousley and Ed Smith were absolutely incredible. Extra thanks to Ed for learning the songs and performing them perfectly. 

The Lovely Jo and Ed in Rehearsals
I am leaving Leeds a very happy lady this weekend.

Hannah :)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Writing for Mixtape Theatre


A couple of weeks ago I went to see Mixtape Theatre at the Dog and Parrot as part of Alphabetti Spaghetti's Brolly Season. It was so genius! So naturally when I got asked if I'd like to write for it I said yes of course. Today on my train journey to Leeds I thought I'd try and write the piece. Oh my goodness it is horrendously difficult. My head just became a jukebox of cheesy 80s tunes and I was unable to rehash any of them! I have eventually finished writing them after a few sing songs.

If you're around in Newcastle on Monday 26th November, head upstairs in The Dog and Parrot at 8pm and take the challenge to guess my 80s rehashed cheese!

Hannah x

Mixtape Theatre: Cuckoo Review


Mixtape Theatre: Number 1s 
28th October 2013
The Dog and Parrot Upstairs

Two Sides of the Same Song

As part of Alphabetti's Brolly Season Upstairs at The Dog and Parrot, a pub quiz with a twist, Mixtape Theatre has talented play-writes take classics and rework them into unrecognisable pieces of theatre. The short plays can be no longer than the pieces of music they are inspired by and can only use lyrics that are featured in the song. As a fan of music inspired work Mixtape Theatre was an event I couldn't miss and I definitely was not disappointed.

An explosive rehashed version of Lionel Richie's Hello sets us up for a night of well worked number ones, which it turns out I am very bad at guessing. My horrendous guesses are good for something though, showing how clever the scriptwriters are in that some of the original songs were more than difficult to pick out. My guessing picks up in the second half until shamefully I can't guess Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice and note it down as Superbass - Nicki Minaj; needless to say the coveted Golden Mixtape was not in reach for me.

Theatre director Melanie Rashbrooke is onto a winner with this concept and the inclusion of both young writers and performers is a one which pleases me; giving young people a platform to show off their talents results in a funny, clever, well thought out evening of new theatre. Get yourself there on Monday 25th November, 7:30pm for a night of 80s classics like you have never heard them before. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Bus Friend


People never talk to each other in person, they send texts, tweets or emails. In social situations people put their headphones in and pretend other people don't exist. That's the way it is. Northerners are supposed to be more friendly but in my experiencee we still rarely talk to people in the queue for the bus for example. Today I had a lovely 20 minute chat with a man on the bus.
This old man taps me on the shoulder: "pet, are you loving your life?"
I reply with "yes" despite having had a rubbish day and ask him back.
"Wey yes pet, I never thought I'd see the day I turned 82."
This made me smile and I thought the conversation was over. Nope. He continued: "So, are you married?"
"Eee, no, I'm only 19."
"Ah, just a boyfriend then?"
"No, I don't have a boyfriend."
"Bloody hell, a beautiful girl like you, without a boyfriend. Never."
Again I thought we'd finished, no: "Well, they are only after one thing the most of them pet. I know because I was the same, that is until you find the one. When you find her it's all different, you don't just want that one thing, you just want her, nothing else matters. Just you wait. You're doing well, too many marry too quick, takes years off you!"
Then he talked for a little bit about "the one" and I had to get off.
"You enjoy your life darling. Life is wonderful. See you later."
I smiled my whole way home, more people should just talk to you.
I now feel bad because I don't even know his name.
Hannah x

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Eating Disorder Waiting List


Waiting for treatment within mental health services is something that really annoys me; according to the NHS constitution if you have a physical health complaint you have a legal right to treatment within 18 weeks of a referral being sent from your GP. Mental health problems aren't included in this; within Mental Health Services there is no "right to treatment" rules. You just have to wait and more often than not get more poorly whilst you are waiting.

Beat (Eating Disorder Charity) published a survey on waiting times within Eating Disorder Services last month and the results are shocking. Given the right to treatment within physical health services is 5 months, the survey concluded that 26% of people with an eating disorder waited more than 6 months for outpatient to start. Eating disorders have dozens of physical effects yet still because of it being as a result of mental well being there is no right to treatment. Following this 54% said they strongly agreed that they felt they weren't sick enough for treatment. Give someone who doesn't think they are "sick enough" with an eating disorder an extra 6 months to try and cope and they are surely to get more poorly, then they need more treatment. Early interventions are shouted here there and everywhere; if it isn't possible to be done why is it spoken about so much?

The survey also showed that 40% were told that their BMI is not low enough for immediate treatment. I am aware of someone that was told they "didn't meet the criteria for treatment". Do some professionals read books on how to make someone feel worthless? Telling someone who is crying in your treatment room about the situation they are in that they don't fit criteria will just push their self-worth into the ground. There is no need to tell them they don't fit criteria for a certain service, just ensure they have access to treatments that are appropriate.

The thing that annoys me about this is that there are amazing Doctors and Nurses out there that are fantastic at their jobs yet the rubbish ones always get the press. Contrary to what this might read like I have faith in the treating professionals it's just sad the lengths people have to go to in order to receive treatment.

For those looking for support in the mean time, I recommend visiting B-eat website, they provide brilliant advice and services.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Long Time No Blog


Hello Internet,

I realised two days ago that it had been so long since I last blogged, I am sorry, I am such a bad little blogger at the minute. I am trying to think up some excuses as to why I haven't blogged.

I have been trying to learn a TEDx talk which I performed on Tuesday night around the concept of body confidence in young people and how it is squashed by so many unrealistic ideals. I applaud people who regularly get up on stage because my nerves were through the roof, I can natter on for ages with someone in a coffee shop but talking on a stage terrifies me, but here I am anyway:

Photo by @Manikambo
I've also been script editing, so at least I have been being a good writer somewhere, just not on here! I have written a play which is going on in Leeds as part of Slung Low Theatre Group's 15 Minutes Live. The plays are to be performed live on stage infornt of an audience to be recorded for radio. The play I have written Just Like Heaven follows two friends on a journey of loneliness, loss and love with the help of a bit of music.

SECRET. I have a new script idea which I am trying to formulate but shhhhhh, I'm scared of ruining it.

That'll do for now, essays to be writing!

Hannah x

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Cheating is Wrong



I don't understand why people think it is acceptable to cheat in a relationship. Like seriously what is going through their pea-sized brain when they think that that is acceptable. It is things like these that make me angry at humanity. How can people even do things like this and expect people to ever treat them with respect again when they have rejected their partner in the worst way possible? If you aren't happy in a relationship end it; stop messing with people's feelings. What annoys me even more is when people do it when there are children involved? Why reject one person when you can act like your entire family don't matter. Idiots. I'm usually all for forgiveness but this is definitely a difficult one. Lies anger me. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Bell Jar


This weekend I went to a book group on Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. I have not read The Bell Jar. This should have been a ridiculous idea but it was actually really interesting to get people's views on it before I read it AND I wasn't the only person who hadn't read it.

So, in the workshop I read the first three pages of The Bell Jar and concluded that Esther isn't overly cheery. Someone brought up the idea of feminism, if I'm honest I didn't really see a feminist issue on these three pages. Yes, Esther acknowledges that women had few opportunities at this time but the fact is she had opportunity, the issue is the fact she doesn't care about the opportunities. Nout to do with being a woman. She had big opportunities but was too depressed to appreciate them, yes?

"I felt very still and very empty"

Obviously, at this point I have only read a tiny part of the book but I am honestly not seeing the feminist issue others seemed to also at this point. I'm seeing depression is capital letters. This is a person who has lots of things she should be enjoying but isn't, take out the pronouns and would you be picking up on the same things? I don't understand the need to make feminist issues out of gender neutral circumstances, people get depressed and at this point in the novel there is no reason to think it is a result of oppression.

For the record I am a feminist and I am now reading The Bell Jar.

Hannah :)

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Writing Community



I feel I've abandoned my blog again, SORRY! This weekend was Durham Book Festival so I've been a busy writing bee!

I'm so very thankful for New Writing North and the Cuckoo Young Writers programs for their continued support of my writing development. I'm not sure I would have kept up writing without their input because it is so easy to just give up if you haven't got anyone telling you it is worth it and this weekend has made me see that it definitely is worth it at the minute. On Friday night I performed (I am definitely a writer and not a performer) and it was nice to get feedback from people. It surprises me every time someone gives me a positive comment about my writing, I generally assume the things I write are pants so I am genuinely grateful for the people that encourage me to continue writing. Your encouragement makes a difference.

It was just nice to spend time with like-minded young people, people who share the same struggles with their writing and people with passion for writing. I have concluded that just because you don't shout from the rooftops it doesn't make your opinion redundant; it makes you considerate and it means you understand that's not the way it works.

I have had a nice weekend and I feel like a real writer again. That can only be a good thing.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

I am not a Vegetarian


I feel I should start this by clarifying the fact I am not a vegetarian. I both like and eat meat.

When I think about the concept of being a vegetarian I wonder why I'm not one; I wouldn't say I was particularly enthusiastic about animal rights I just think the fact we eat animals is a little bit weird. Like why is it culturally acceptable to eat some animals but not others, where did this come from. Making burgers out of cow = YAY! Making burgers out of cats, not so acceptable. So why can you eat cows? I am aware cow tastes nice, I am quite a fan of burgers but I also ate a mushroom burger recently which was really nice, as in instead of the beef there was mushroom instead.

I am told from a valid source (maybe not, they are vegetarian) that I do not necessarily need to eat meat to get all of my protein needs. It has been drilled into me that kale is brilliant, well, I don't like kale but spinach is even higher in protein and I am a spinach enthusiast! And according to my googling my mushroom burger may have contained more overall protein than a beef burger would have, who'd have thought it? So I'm not sure how I feel about people saying that vegetarianism isn't healthy, because lets me honest, there are lots of unhealthy not vegetarians so I reckon if you're gonna be a healthy person the fact that you eat meat or not doesn't really come into it.

Moving on from that I have some reservations about milk but only if I think about it too much. It just feels weird to drink when I think about it. If cows were the dominant species would they drink our milk (I don't know how that works for the record)? Like drinking another animals milk is just bizarre but if I don't think about it I can stomach it. I buy almond soy milk in the house but if I'm out I have no problem drinking "regular milk", I wouldn't specifically ask for soy milk because I don't think about it when I'm eating out, I assume that's because I don't actually pour it and see it so it isn't real. I don't buy butter but that is mainly because I don't particularly like it yet when I'm out, again, I'm not fussed about eating it. As for cheese, I love cheese and there is no escaping that. Cheddar, emmental, brie, feta, mozzarella, wensleydale, stilton. All cheese is good cheese.

Taking away the animal bit of vegetarianism, I just think it would be a lot easier for me to be what I call a "practical vegetarian". When I eat out I will eat meat because someone else is cooking it, however in the house it is easier to be a vegetarian. I am a very busy person and half of the time I can't keep track of my own diary so never know when I am going to be in or not therefore I never know whether or not to defrost meat, this is not an issue if you eat meat substitute because it doesn't need defrosting. Problem solved.

Practical vegetarianism is definitely the way forward. As for my mild milk complex, I have no idea what is going on with that. As for vegetarians, I think they just think more than the rest of us and that is not a bad thing. I am on the fence about the whole thing so when I start thinking more I will probably end up being a vegetarian.

Hannah x

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Wendy Cope Is Brilliant


I am not a fan of fanny about poetry; like honestly there is just no need for it most of the time. Contemporary poetry is definitely the way forward and if you are going to read any contemporary poet read Wendy Cope. Wendy Cope is brilliant! Serious Concerns is an epic anthology; I advise reading Bloody Men but my favourite of all Wendy Cope poems is Some Light Verse:
Some More Light Verse

You have to try. You see the shrink.
You learn a lot. You read. You think.
You struggle to improve your looks.
You meet some men. You write some books.
You eat good food. You give up junk.
You do not smoke. You don’t get drunk.
You take up yoga, walk and swim.
And nothing works. The outlook’s grim.
You don’t know what to do. You cry.
You’re running out of things to try.
You blow your nose. You see the shrink.
You walk. You give up food and drink.
You fall in love. You make a plan.
You struggle to improve your man.
And nothing works. The outlooks grim.
You go to yoga, cry and swim.
You eat and drink. You give up looks.
You struggle to improve your books.
You cannot see the point. You sigh.
You do not smoke. You have to try.
I am not going to witter about the poem and pretend I believe in pulling apart people's work to find out about them. I just love it in the moment I read it and I don't want to feel or understand anything more of its brilliance.
You have to try.
Hannah x

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Can't Sleep, Write Now


Hello internet!

I can't sleep so I thought I'd write. I have an idea for a few blog posts on explaining why I write so this of me making a note so I don't forget to implement them.

1. To Understand.

2. To Hope.

3. To Relieve My Mind.

4. To Relive or Immortalise things.

5. To Find Answers.

Watch this space.

Hannah x

Banned Books Week US


This week is Banned Books Week in the US so I had a bit of a think about banned books. My opinion: you've really got somewhere as a writer when your book becomes banned. Goverments ban books because they are scared of their ability to influence; they ban books that are risky, books that have big messages and books that challenge. The chances are that if your book is banned you have written a pretty good book and what better way to get it read than to ban it? People always do what they aren't supposed to.

My list of banned books that should never have been banned:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey

One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest was a book I first discovered in A Level Psychology. The book depicts the perils of psychiatry in the 60s and provides insight into the thin line between mental illness and well-being through the eyes of a half-mute patient. The book was banned in the 70s and 80s for its promotion of secular humanism, glorification of criminality and a pornographic nature. However, I think there is a lot to learn from the book, both in terms of progression in pyschiatry but should be valued for the depiction of secular humanism. The exact reason it is banned. Faith doesn't necessarily have to be seen in a religious sense; having humanistic values regardless of religious faith is definitely a positive. Also, the film is FANTASTIC.

Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

I'm going to assume all of you have heard of Alice in Wonderland so I will just describe it in one word: fantastical. The fact that it is a fantastical, innocent book for children makes it even more difficult to believe that it had been banned. The book was banned in an area of China in the 30s for showing animals acting in the same way as humans; definitely a somewhat bizarre reason to ban an amazing book.

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank

Of all of the books on the list of banned books The Diary of a Young Girl can probably teach us the most; her hope and sense of humanity despite being in utter turmoil is both admirable and enviable. The diary documents the two years Anne and her family spent in hiding in the Netherlands during Nazi occupation. Two reasons for banning the book are "showing Jewish people in too good a light" in Lebannon and in various locations in the US for sexually explicit references. It has to make you wonder about the people who ban a book which is ultimately about holocaust, segregation, humanity and growing up because it is sexually explicit. Madness. The Diary of a Young Girl is a must read for anyone.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men is a book most British teenagers are made to read as part of an English course. I was not. I just read it for readings sake and for a book of less than 200 pages it was quite a good read. Of Mice and Men is a novella about drifters Lennie and George as they go in search of the American Dream, exploring themes of lonliness, aspirations and finding companionship. But more than anything the novella explores mental illness, racism and love yet it has been banned for promoting euthanasia, sexism and vulgar language to name a few reasons. Of Mice and Men is a perfectly sad novella.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

I haven't finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower so this is probably a bit of a bizarre one for me to write about. However, what I have read is an honest coming of age story at its best. The epistolary novel follows Wallflower Charlie as he battles adolescence. The novel has been challenged for its depiction of sex, drug use and for being anti-family. Lets be honest, what teenager has a bumpless relationship with their parents; the rocky relationship is all part of growing up and The Perks of Being a Wallflower gives an honest impression of growing up. Read the book, watch the film, in my opinion both are great.

That concludes my banned book tour.

Hannah x

Friday, 27 September 2013

ASDA Costume Fallout


Most of you will have heard about ASDA's horrific selling of a Halloween costume entitled: Mental Patient. For those of you who haven't, here it is below:

ASDA have since taken the product off the shelves and made a donation to mental health charity Mind but what is more concerning is the fact that the costume managed to make it to the shelves in the first place. Exactly how many people must this have went through and not be questioned? What sort of country do we live in when this kind of discrimination is still seen in society? 1 in 4 people wear their very normal mental health costume every day; are they yielding meat cleavers? No, they are just like everyone else, you can't spot the difference. People have taken to Twitter to demonstrate this: Tweeting photos of themselves depicting the normality of their mental health.

Admittedly stigma against mental health has improved but this costume alone shows how much further we as a society have to go. We all have mental health just as we all have physical health and sometimes we get poorly. Break down the barriers and normalise it. Mental health isn't scary nor are mental health patients. If one sole good thing came out of this down right offensive situation it is that it has got people talking. It's sad that such an extreme thing had to occur for this to take place.

Continue the conversation. Fight the stigma.

Hannah x

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Shape of Fashion: Part One


The Shape of Fashion
ASOS Head Offices
18th September 2013
B-eat and ASOS

A debate on body ideals and representation in the fashion industry, The Shape of Fashion stimulated thought provoking debate thanks to introductory talks from those most closely involved within the fashion industry. B-eat is a charity which targets stigma against eating disorders; campaigns for improvements within services and provides support to those suffering from eating disorders and their families. For 24 years the charity has been tackling eating disorders to help set those struggling free and this year they teamed up with ASOS to battle the often triggering ideals represented within the fashion industry.

It isn't exactly breaking news that the fashion industry is heavily dominated by the slim white model but The Shape of Fashion has made me think of this in much more of a "which came first the chicken or the egg" way. Sophie Glover, Head of Technical Services at online retailer ASOS laid down the companies target audience as young women therefore the models they use reflect this. The majority of models being a size ten as this is the size they work off and their target audience, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I would challenge people who think otherwise. Obviously they also have models both bigger and smaller than a size ten but if you are targeting women of that size that is the best way to go about it; to show the clothes on these target women. The idea was challenged during debate in relation to the fact that the average women in the UK is a size 16; zero relevance I feel, that's not their target audience so I'm not sure why it matters? Nobody complains that Bon Marche use older women, well yes that is because they aren't trying to reach the younger demographic just in the same way ASOS are primarily targeting younger women.

I feel somewhat regretful in that I didn't bring up any of my opinions in the debate but I am a little bit shy in that respect so I am going to continue to write them here. Generally, I don't have an issue with catwalk modelling, as a health conscious person I believe there should be more controls in place in order to ensure models are both physically and mentally healthy. Providing snacks is a somewhat ignorant way to go about it, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink so to say, it just covers their backs in case things go down the pan. However, in terms of catwalk modelling, as highlighted by Carol Spenser during the evening, it isn't supposed to represent the norm in society. I mean how often do you see people with hair and make-up that outlandish on the street? You don't, catwalk modelling is made to look somewhat bizarre and there is something very hypnotising about it, it's impossible to take your eyes off these identical women trotting down the catwalk. It's a show, a performance but as said by model Georgina Wilkin: "It's what you're left with at the end of the day, when you shut the door. Anorexia doesn't stop when you have a day off." That is the bit that concerns me about modelling; the lack of support for these often very young women who are struggling with their relationships with their own bodies. That is where the fashion/modelling industry slips up.

Personally, I am rarely "triggered" by images in advertising; it is rare for me to really feel horrendous because I see a model who is slimmer than me or her boobs are better than mine or because she has a lovely toned bum. Generally, it doesn't affect me in that way but there are a lot of people I know of who appear to worship women in magazines and will embark on the new celebrity dieting. It is for that reason that I am passionate about diversity within modelling; I'm not expecting instant changes within the industry but it would be nice to get to the point at some point in the future where all shapes and sizes are represented within advertising. It would be nice for everyone to feel a sense of normality about their own body.

Hannah :)

Part Two to Follow...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

You've Made My Day


"You've made my day", I think that is a phrase that people don't say often enough. I know I don't say it as often as I should and that there are loads of occasions when I've been having an awful day then someone cheers me up but I rarely say "you've made my day".
Yesterday I went to London, I'd been up since 7am, went to uni for a lecture then hopped on the train down south. My train back up to Newcastle got in at 2am by which point I was tired, had an achey back and was feeling distinctly stressed with my life. I then got a taxi from the station and the driver was the loveliest person I could have hoped to come across. I just had a nice chat with him and felt better by the time I got to my house. But I didn't tell him this so now I feel bad. I don't even know his name. He brightened my day and doesn't even know it, I think if I made someone's day better I'd like to know. So, in future I'm going to start using "you've made my day" more often.
Hannah x

Hannah's Late Train Journey


I am on my way back from London because I've been to B-eat and ASOS The Shape of Fashion, which I will blog about tomorrow, I have uni tomorrow so I've had to get a ridiculous late train back. By ridiculously late I mean it gets into Newcastle at 2:17am. I have uni at 9am. This does not bode well for my appearance tomorrow, I think I'll call it the: feeling like I don't function anymore. So now because I feel like I can't sleep on trains I am blogging my late night thoughts.

My poor friend Bethan (bethanmayoakes.wordpress.com) is stuck with my text witterings because I have noone to chat to on the train. I say that like I would strike up a conversation if someone were to be sitting next to me, late nights don't stop me being English.

My brain is trying to formulate a plan of a session to do with 7-10 year olds based on Martha in the bible. It turns out 00:32 is not the time of day or night to be doing that level of thinking but given that it now has to be delivered today, technically, now is the only time of day to be thinking about it. I was supposed to go and buy things to make desserts with, the whole serving thing but I haven't had time. So instead I may have to donate my care package from my grandma and they can make foody sculptures out of the assortment of sweet foods. I honestly have no idea.

Staying with this theme of no idea. I have no idea why I have the ability to say yes to EVERYTHING. I can honestly say that I am the busiest person most of my friends know and it is all my doing. I just seem to volunteer myself for everything, so much so my brain is constantly whirring, constantly planning, constantly busy. I am forever trying to fit 48 hours into 24. I am so much on the go that I haven't actually cooked a meal in my new house. I have lived there for 12 days now. That my friends is the definition of "on the go". Somehow even though I am the busiest out of most of the people I know it still seems to be down to me to organise things or make the efforts; I would really appreciate not always being the first texter or the organiser. A little help goes a long way.

I am just generally frustrated tonight, mainly because I'm tired, my back hurts and it feels like my kidneys are crying or something so this is making me complain about everything. Some of it is rational though, I am very concerned about winter. Yesterday and today I have worn 4 layers of clothes and still been cold with achey joints. Last night I wore jarmies, a onesie and a dressing gown. This is not good given it is technically not winter yet. My poor little joints are gonna be knackered come February and my skin won't know what daylight is anymore. Anyone got any tips on not getting cold that aren't "eat loads then hibernate" because that is the current plan.
I am going to stop rambling on now.


Hannah x

Monday, 16 September 2013

Understanding Mental Health - Get Well Soon


When someone is poorly you tell them to "get well soon" yes? If so then why do so few people say it to people who are mentally ill because they too can "get well". So it may not be instantaneous but in all honesty does any form of ill-health lead to instant recovery. If someone breaks their leg their leg doesn't recover the second they get a cast off; they may still need pain relief medication and/or physiotherapy. This is no different to mental ill health, a person with anorexia may be hospitalised, resulting in weight gain but this doesn't mean the anorexia is gone, therefore they will continue having treatment in the same way the person with a broken leg does.

Hospital visiting is awkward, there is no other way to describe it. You go to visit your grandma after she has had a heart attack for a couple of hours and you are expected to talk to them for the entirety of these couple of hours. It is an artificial situation. That is no different to visiting someone in a mental health setting, people use the excuse "we'll I don't know what to say", are you trying to tell me that you plan what you're going to say in a physical setting? No, therefore it is, yet again, just the same!

I'm sorry your brain is poorly. Mental health is still hugely stigmatised, there is no denying it, I don't understand why people think it is some form of choice though. A mental illness seems to be somewhat devalued against physical illness, why is it that it is acceptable for any part of your body to get poorly but as soon as it is your brain it is not acceptable?! The brain is in charge of lots of stuff, if anything having a poorly brain has a MASSIVE knock on affect to so many other parts of your body and tat should be acknowledged. A poorly brain makes for quite the bumpy journey.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you know someone suffering from mental ill-health send them a card, visit them, ask them how they're doing.

Hannah :) x

Back to University


Hello Internet!

I go back to uni tomorrow which should mean I blog less, I'm hoping that doesn't happen though but I'm just forewarning in case.

I'm determined to focus this year at uni so I've been doing some mental health related reading recently on recovery which is making me remember why I love what I do.

Here's hoping I keep up the blogging!

Hannah x

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Stuck In Edinburgh


So today I have been a little bit stuck. My mam makes me really paranoid about missing my train so I got an early train so that I didn't miss my Edinburgh-Newcastle one. Well, I did not miss the train so then I was in Edinburgh between 7pm and 9pm. There isn't a whole lot you can do in that time given that most places are shut and the fact that I was lugging a suitcase around. So I took some photos. Here they are (I apologise for the selfies!):

Looking good Edinburgh!

Hannah x

I Love Scotland


For those of you who don't know me: I have an unhealthy obsession with all things Scottish and have realised that this blog has been going for quite some time now and I am yet to do a post on how much I love Scotland. So here we go.

I am not sure how and when this love for Scotland started; I went to Edinburgh quite a few times when I was little to the zoo and whatnot but I wouldn't say I was 'in love' with it then. Although I am quite the fan of the penguin parade at the zoo (I hope that still exists).

The Scottish love may have properly started when I went to Loch Eil for my Outward Bound Course; I guess that was when I saw the beautiful aspects of Scotland despite the fact that it rains A LOT. Things I love about Scotland:

Good People from Scotland:
My friends Emily and Jennifer are Scottish and they are the loveliest of all people!
Biffy Clyro are Scottish and they have delightfully awesome songs.
Andy Murray is Scottish and he plays a well good game of tennis.

Pretty Places in Scotland:
Scotland is home to my favourite places to have ever spent the night and that is on the shore of Loch Treig (do lochs even have shores?!).

Loch Treig

I saw the Harry Potter train go across the Harry Potter bridge (Glenfinnan Viaduct) whilst in Scotland.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city; I mean it is big yet still manages to be cute!

Only in Scotland:
IRN BRU ON DRAUGHT! You don't get that in England; I can't ask for a vodka Irn Bru in a bar or ask for Irn Bru with my McDonalds meal. Catch up England!
Would a nightclub go crazy when a remix 500 Miles by The Proclaimers comes on (yes that song has been remixed!).
I have had a tan once in my life and that came from Scotland. Who would have thought?!

I figure I love Scotland because I am yet to have a bad Scotland experience; unless you count the time a sheep came into my tent but I like to pretend that never actually happened. Also, I am edging ever closer with my quest to become Scottish, last night someone thought I was from Glasgow. YES.

Hannah x

p.s. I don't like bagpipes. English at heart it appears.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Understanding Mental Health - Eating Disorders


So a few days ago I did a "Time to Change" related post and this is the second post in my series of mental health posts. A huge part of the Time to Change campaign is that you don't have to be an expert to talk about mental health, so here goes.

These are my top five eating disorders comments that annoy me:

1. But I've Seen Them Eat

Well yes, you may have seen them eat but that does not mean that they do not have an eating disorder. You have to eat to stay alive, so providing they are alive which I am assuming they are, yes, they will be eating

2. It's a Vanity Thing

It is quite clearly not a vanity thing, when you think it through properly vanity isn't even in the same post code as eating disorder. Why if it is all about vanity are these people with eating disorders somewhat shunned or forgotten about; if it was vanity they would be flaunty their bodies all over the shop; when reality in an eating disorder such as anorexia there is a huge amount of concealment. Both social concealment; body concealment

3. They're Sizest

Being sizest implies you are preaching dislike for a size that is not your own. Correct me if I'm wrong but if you have an eating disorder more often than not you WILL NOT want to discuss appearance. AND it is not other people's bodies you are having difficulties with; it is your own. Have a little tact when accusing people of being sizest; people are fighting big hard battles with themselves never mind starting a fight with others.

4. Just Eat Something

Bloody hell if it was that easily done do you not think it would have been done?! Someone breaks their leg do you tell them to walk on it? No, so why should this be any different? Support them just the way you would support someone physically poorly; they deserve it! Throwaway comments such as "just eat something" aren't really going to help the situation for anyone.

5. It's Self Inflicted

SERIOUSLY?! What is this lunacy?! SELF INFLICTED?!?!?!?!? Did you ask for the flu you got in winter? Or that allergy you had to strawberries? Or the fact you've had asthma from infancy? NO. So why is it suggested so often that people with eating disorders asked for them? Eating disorders are horrendously traumatic, nobody would want it for themselves? They are both physically and mentally destroying in every way possible; they are disorders not to be wished upon even your worst enemy.

I could go on forever on this topic, these are just a few things I've heard being thrown around.

Hannah :) x

A Question of Size


I am quite a slim person, I'm not going to pretend I'm not. I am a size 8, 5 foot  6 and 9 stone. So it is fair to say I've been subjected to the "you're so skinny comment" quite a few times in my nineteen years. What even is that?! Apparently just because I am slim it seems to mean that I can't complain about my body in the way someone who is a shed of a pound bigger can. WHY?!

I DO NOT LIKE MY THIGHS. DONE. Somehow I am made to feel like I have to love every bit of me just because most of me is little; well do you want to know something? That is not the case. I don't like my thighs because they are proportionately bigger than the rest of me making it harder to buy jeans. Also, I nearly always wear tights because my thighs are very "corned beef-esque"; by that I mean that they are all motley and I think it looks awful. Yet if I join in a body hating conversation with this I am more often than not told to shut up. I'm sorry my thoughts don't deserve the air time because I am slim. Right?

Secondly, being slim is not a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Try being a 30AA bra size, I don't really mind having little boobs until I have to buy a bra and then it becomes a problem. I have the same bra in an assortment of colours because it's the only one I can find that isn't part of a "my first bra collection" for 10 year olds or has padding to make your boobs visibly 3 sizes bigger, they aren't that big so what is the point in me trying.

Add these two things together and you get a problem in the form of bikini. If it is possible for me to find a top half that fits it is adorned by a gazillion ruffles to disguise how little my boobs are. This would be fine if they didn't assume you had no bum too; so the bums are covered in ruffles too. Exactly what mine does not need.

I'm sitting writing this with full fat Irn Bru, a Greggs sandwich and a sugar strand donut. Apparently the fact I can eat this and still be slim is something to be criticised for too. I admit I don't eat this all of the time but if I want a donut I am going to have a donut.

The point of all of this was just to say it isn't all sunshine and butterflies being slim; it comes with some hiccups too.

Hannah :)

Friday, 13 September 2013

Cuckoo Review: Bowie


I was in Tyneside Cinema when I fell back in love with Bowie. In fact, it was the same time I was falling in love with Stephen Chbosky’s ability to make sense of the world through the eyes of a tortured teenager. Yes, I am talking about the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Bowie’s Platinum Collection has been on my iPod for years but that day I heard ‘Heroes’ in a way I’d never heard it before.

The majority of the songs on my iPod exist solely to block out the crying kids on the bus or to motivate me through a morning run but, every so often, on comes a song that grabs my attention and I live through that song for its few minutes. Heroes never used to be one of those songs to me; I mean yeah it’s a good song and sure, I like Bowie but that’s all it was to me – just good song.

There was just something about the reject teenagers flying through tunnels, one standing in the boot of the truck whilst the Bowie track Heroes played that made me get it and everything about it seemed to make sense in that moment. It became about the freedom of youth and the endless possibilities you have in your life; nothing can stop you for going for what you want.

When Bowie sings, “We can beat them forever and ever/ Oh we can be Heroes/ Just for one day” I get the elastic band feeling; it’s like someone ties an end of elastic around your insides and the other end to the speaker then twangs it like they are playing of guitar. I knew I had got ‘Heroes’ for the first time.

So thank you Stephen Chbosky for writing Bowie into your beautiful story because it helped me find the need for Bowie.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Bus Etiquette


I spend a lot of my time on buses and the time I'm not on a bus I'm complaining about them. Right now I am both on the bus and complaining on buses.

1. Just because you smoke it doesn't give you the right to get on the bus before me despite the fact you arrived after me!
2. If you aren't planning on sitting on the seat at the bus stop do not bother standing in front of it, some of us would like to sit down.
3. Why, when the bus is already running late does the driver still wait at a stop?! Fair enough you are running on time or early but when does this happen?
4. Being elderly doesn't mean you can arrive later and get on before me; I don't object to giving my seat up if you are struggling but my joints are awful too.
5. Why would you eat a tuna sandwich and cheese & onion crisps on a bus OR a kebab?! Smell pollution!
6. Your free OAP bus pass is effective from 9:30, don't act like you don't know this, you do. You have an ENTIRE day to go out! I don't have an entire day to get to work/uni.
7. Buggies. There is space on the bus for one buggy and one wheelchair. Therefore one buggy should be allowed. If there is already a buggy on either: fold yours down or wait. A baby/toddler can get out of a buggy but you can't just 'get out' of a wheelchair.

I think I need to learn to drive.....

Hannah :)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Suicide Prevention Day


Young People and Suicide

Today is suicide prevention day so I thought I better do a little blog post on it and given that I am a young person I thought I'd write it about young people specifically. Every adult was a young person at some point in their lives, some want to forget it, some act like they were never young and some simply forget what it is like to be young. More often than not all young people want is to be taken seriously, be that when they tell you they love their boyfriend of 2 days or that they want to become a vegetarian because they are going through an animal loving "phase" or in the case of this blog post that they simply feel depressed with suicidal ideation. In line with this more than half of adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood and a huge proportion of them weren't treated sufficiently at the time.

What I am trying to say is LISTEN and TALK and TRY to understand. If you don't understand at first this does not make it an acceptable reason to brush off their mood as just a thing of puberty. No. Puberty is different.

Another thing which is different is self harm. It is estimated that between 1/12 and 1/15 of young people have deliberately self-harmed. This is not the same as a suicide attempt but it doesn't mean it is not serious; bloody talk about it! Don't inflict shame on them!
Suicide is very serious, even the thought without the action itself and it knows no concept of age discrimination. Around 6.2% of 16-24 year olds have attempted suicide at some point in their life time so let us stop pretending that it isn't happening and attribute all thought of it to puberty and TALK about it.

Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

Hannah x

*statistics used were found at Young Minds
**I am no expert

British Science Festival - Science and Cosmetics


Last week I had all good intentions of going to loads of things at British Science Fest in Newcastle but because of a multitude of reasons my good intentions went a little bit down the pan. HOWEVER today I managed to get myself to a lecture on science and cosmetics by Des Tobin, lecturer from University of Bradford and it was well good.

Mostly, I learnt lots of cool things about our bodies that I wasn't aware of before and that extended beyond the mass of fake daily facts I see on my Twitter feed. Tobin is a fantastic speaker, I'm not going to lie I've been to quite a few lectures in my short time as a student that resemble bed-time stories: the content is interesting but their voices are like lullabies; this was most certainly not the case with Tobin's lecture. A clearly very very intelligent man Tobin breaks up what should be slightly overwhelming knowledge with his casual tone and fact throwing in: "by cell count us humans are 90% bacterial cells" and the fact that humans are the best of all sweaters (of the BO causing variety, not the warm over-clothes), sweating up to 10 litres a day.

As a pale person I sometimes have what can only be described as a "hair complex", by that I mean I am very conscious of how visible for example my arm hair is because I am so pale and it is so dark. So it was reassuring to hear that every person has the same number of hair follicles (4/5million), so we are just as hairy as each other and the most dense area of hairiness is the tip of your nose. Who would have known. Once explained it seemed stupidly obvious, from birth every part of us lengthens and therefore makes the hair follicles more sparse in those areas. So there you go. Hairy noses.

I do a lot of complaining about how much money things like the beauty are worth even though I am conscious to the fact that I am funding a small portion of it. BIG STATISTIC TIME. It is estimated that in the UK the beauty industry will have grown to £1.26billion. That is quite a big number. Flaming heck! Too add to this confused annoyance I have for the "cost of beauty", the retail cost of a product is around five times as much as its cost of manufacture. Still in with this cost of beauty theme, I sometimes hear adverts and think "really, you can actually say that" or "yeah right, that is a load of rubbish". Cosmetic companies are very clever on this front, they can technically only claim to  alter appearance but not actual physiology so they just go crazy on the adjective front to make us fall for the products. Clever.

For the animal rights activists amongst you, I learnt something I was not aware of today. Recently, a law has been passed which means that at no stage of manufacture can cosmetic products be tested on animals; this includes the testing of an ingredient for a product. Very impressed by this for the sake of the happy bunnies out there.

If I was to say I had learnt one main thing in this hour or so lecture it would be this:

We are all seduced by the personal care industry and sometimes that is perfectly okay.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Busy Hannah


Hello Internet :)

Today I had planned to write a decent blog post but that idea has gone out of the window and it's only 9am. So instead I am bus blogging about my busy-ness.

I am on my way into Newcastle firstly to pick up train tickets to go to Stirling next week which is exciting. I'm going to stay with my friend Emily who I haven't seen in a few month so I'm missing her. I met Emily at my Outward Bound Classic Course (there's another post on that) last July/August, we're still in touch and really good friends.

After I've got my tickets I'm going to a Changemakers session called Aspire which is working on the ideas and values we gained at last weeks residential. I will blog about this afterwards.
When I've finished my Changemakers session I am moving into my new uni house which is very exciting but internetless at the minute. Yesterday was busy too but I managed to pack up everything I own in about three hours which I deem impressive timing!

THEN, on Saturday I am going to a young writers group in Newcastle which is always good. I'm going to try and drum up some people to perform their work when Cuckoo Young Writers take over Empty Shop for Durham Book Festival, again more exciting things which I will write about when I get the time and the internet.

For now though, byeeee! Have a nice day!
Hannah :)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Understanding Mental Health


I feel like recently all I've done is try to explain mental health to my Mam; she doesn't understand it and I think that is probably the case for a lot of people which is why Time to Talk is such an important thing, maybe if people started to understand mental health it would be less stigmatised.

These are probably the top 5 things I have discussed with people I know recently:

1) Telling someone who has depression to 'cheer up' isn't going to change the fact that they are depressed just like you wouldn't tell someone with a broken leg to just 'walk on it'. 

2) Just because someone isn't a size zero does not mean they don't have an eating disorder.

3) OCD is not an adjective you use whilst tidying your house....that is not OCD. 

4) Eating disorders are not based around vanity nor are they self-inflicted or a choice.

5) Young people suffer from mental health disorders too; it is not always 'just puberty'.

I think this might be the start of me blogging more about mental health; firstly addressing the five things above. You don't have to be an expert to have a conversation, pledge to start yours now at Time to Change.

Hannah :)

Monday, 2 September 2013

Amy Winehouse: A Beautiful Singer and a Beautiful Woman


I propose some background music while you read: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojdbDYahiCQ

Amy Winehouse was arguably one of the most targeted women by the media for her 'wild lifestyle' and her presence as an apparent bad role model to young fans. I don't care about all of these 'bad' things; I care that she was an amazing artist and that should be enough.

Artistry is expression at its finest, be it emotional confession or a preach for change; just as Lennon wrote: "Imagine all the people, living life in peace" and Jackson sang: "It doesn't matter if you're black or white" Amy Winehouse's soulful declarations of self will form her legacy and when all criticism fades.

As the first British woman to win five Grammys Winehouse should have been praised for her song writing and performance achievements however even this resulted in controversy. Some, even saying she shouldn't have been awarded them because of her battle of substance abuse, how on earth could something like that even be justified. In what way does that take away her achievements; she took drugs BUT she still wrote and performed fantastic songs that deserve all of the credit in the world. 

Amongst the chaos the media made of Winehouse they rarely reported on her positive impacts of society. I wonder how many people would put her down as a supporter of charities such as Teenage Cancer Trust, Oxfam and WaterAid, to name a few or know that she worked with to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Amy in no way shyed away from her struggles with eating disorders or substance abuse; she used these in her music a way in which any good artist would because that's what the creatives do: they use their writing, art and music as an outlet for their internal struggles. Music is a powerful way of opening up the soul and Winehouse's music exposed her at her most vulnerable but I'd argue that this vulnerability shows strength beyond belief. I hope that people will learn to see passed her somewhat ragged exterior and that her legacy will be purely attributed to her successes.

"He walks away, the sun goes down
 ...........my tears dry on their own."

Dental Embarrassment


I don't really mind the dentist, I have braces so I'm now used to being at the orthodontist often but today I had to go to my family dentist which resulted in what can only be termed as "dental embarrassment".

Nowadays when you go for a checkup you have to fill in a mile long medical and family history just for them to give your teeth the once over which seems a little over the top if I'm honest. So here I am flicking through my previous quiz answers to check nothing has changed, when I come across the question: Do you suck mints daily? I had previously answered 'no' at my last checkup. Well, my wardrobe has this in it now:

As a woman with an almost 2kg tub of mints I most definitely suck mints more than daily. I drink lots of coffee and eat 2 mints per cup so I don't smell of it.

For some reason I felt incredibly awkward about notifying my dentist that my mint eating habits have changed, like she'd have me checked into mint eaters rehab. So I left it. What is wrong with me?!?!

For any of you wondering my teeth are fine despite the mint habit.

Hannah :) x

What to Drink Where - Newcastle


I blame my mam for me having coffee shop snobbery for a very young age but she has taught me well on the coffee front; so I am going to impart my coffee shop knowledge onto you.

Coffee Trader

I am a fan of supporting local, non-chain businesses. In coffee trader you should drink a hot-chocolate. The one with lots of cream with a flake on-top. It is the fixer of all problems.


Now to totally go against what I have just said, I am still a Starbucks fan. Particularly the one near Haymarket Metro in Newcastle. That is a nice Starbucks. I propose that in Starbucks you drink a Caramel Macchiato, be it hot or iced. Either is nice. HOWEVER, if it is Christmas please drink a Gingerbread Latte.

Caffè Nero

Caffè Nero is another chain shop that I only appreciate one branch of. If going to a Caffè Nero in Newcastle you have to go to the one in Fenwick, it is on the lower ground floor, which is cosier and I'm not really fussed that I don't get phone signal there. I advise drinking an iced latte with some form of sugar syrup in it (I usually have caramel). Also, when I go here I'm always with my Mam and have to half a muffin with her, we either have a raspberry and white chocolate or a blueberry, both are equally as nice.

Back to supporting local businesses. Cafe de Vie is well cute! They have the nicest hot chocolate ever, I am quite the foam enthusiast and their hot chocolate HAS FOAM. IT IS LUSH (Geordie moment of the day). They also do a very nice Amaretto Latte which I recommend trying. 

There is no longer an Esquires in Newcastle (replaced by Costa!) and this makes me sad. So to appreciate Esquires I have to be in Durham now which is annoying. Esquires is another place to drink hot chocolate, they do lots of varieties. The 'orange hot chocolate' is the one to go for, think liquidised Terry's Chocolate Orange. I do not recommend their iced coffees though, stick to hot chocolate.

I am not so enthusiatic about the drinks here because every time I think about Olive and Bean I just think of their immense sandwiches. But usually to accompany my lovely sandwich I drink a lemonade variety-they serve lots of kinds.

That concludes Hannah's coffee tour, notice I didn't mention Costa, I just don't go there. Not a fan.

Hannah :) x

Thinking About Self


Who am I?

That is a pretty big question, which, when asked I would happily just answer with "Hannah" and that would be it, however I embraced the opportunity to think properly about the question. What actually makes me who I am, because I am not "just Hannah". I've left my answers the same as what I initially wrote on the spot:

When I was typing this up I realised something quite big that I didn't write. I didn't mention anywhere that I suffer from Hypermobility, which is probably quite a big bit of my life as it causes an inconvenience a lot but I wouldn't define myself by it. It isn't something that should get in the way of things I want to do, just because I have chronic pain doesn't mean I won't climb a mountain. 

Hannah :) x

Values of a Leader


The weekend away with Changemakers has made me into much more of a 'thinker'. By that I mean thinking about the whys, such as:

- Why do I think ............... is important?
- Why do I even want to be a leader?
- Why do I want to make a change?

Thinking about these questions has made me self evaluate in a much more positive way than usually, rather than picking out flaws within myself I have thought a lot about how I can utilise my positives in my leadership. 

The personal answers to the questions above form my values which I want to lead with (I will come to that later) but looking at these questions within a group setting makes the question "What is a leader?" a lot smaller and despite the fact that a leader is a million and one things they are skills which naturally, we all posses but need to nurture in order to flourish as a leader. 

What Makes Up a Leader?

What is a leader?