Life Update

Sometimes my blog feels a bit distanced from my present life which is a strange dynamic to work with and negotiate a lot of the time. I have talked so much about my past experiences on here that I have sort of left my current state fall by the wayside. It feels like there are many, many things going on in my life at the moment, so I am resorting to what I always do when there are too many subjects and thoughts and worries bouncing around off the walls of my mind…I’m going to write it all down. So, without further ado, here is a little life update of mine:

1. I got into my second year of Uni

I sort of glossed over this a bit on here to be honest but, yes, I will be going back to University in September. I averaged around the 70% mark for my end of year exams which really surprised me considering the mess I was when I entered the summer assessment period. However, the grades do not mean as much to me as the mental strength and progress it took for me to get through my first year and resolve to go back for my second. My mind went to some really scary and dark places throughout my time as a fresher at Uni and I pleaded with myself and others to just let me walk away from the stress of the whole situation. In the end, I got myself through a whole lot more than I ever thought I could do when I arrived as a terrified newbie in September 2017.

2. I have been rejected for more jobs than I can count

Being a student is expensive…well, to be honest, life in general is just expensive! So, I’ve been attempting to find a part-time job for ages. I have sent off my CV and completed questionnaires for jobs ranging from retail to copywriting to admin, none of which have been successful. It’s pretty disheartening to think that I do not fulfil the needs and wants of any employer I have applied to so far but I just have to remind myself that the amount of competition for each and every job is huge as thousands of potential employees are all trying to get the same job. Rather than think of myself as not good enough for any job, I’m trying to maintain the perspective that there are just other people better suited to those positions and there is another job out there which will be more appropriate for me.

3. I visited the Warner Bros Studio Tour

I went to the tour for the second time, however this visit was even more special as I got to see the Goblet of Fire feature which will finish in a couple of weeks. Props, costumes and sets which were used in the 4th Potter film were on display and I even saw the Goblet spit out Cedric Diggory’s name on a piece of parchment! The Studios are one of my favourite places in the world; it is breathtaking and surreal to step inside the Wizarding World.

4. I had a neck x-ray

I had a bit of a health scare in August after a went for a check-up at the opticians and they thought that they saw something irregular at the back of my eye. Many people don’t know that opticians can identify a whole host of health issues which seemingly have nothing to do with your eyes, so of course I was worried when I got this news and I was told that had to go for an urgent referral to an ophthalmic specialist. In addition, there was a worry that I might have had fluid pressing on my spine, so I was sent for a neck x-ray. Thankfully, the x-ray was all-clear and the ophthalmic surgeon discharged me as having only a minor issue which posed no health-threat to me.

5. I have started to make more healthy choices again

I started off the summer with a positive outlook on my health, as I was actively choosing to exercise, eat healthily and give myself a good routine. These things all started to decline and, as I got more frustrated and annoyed with my unhealthy habits, I just spiralled into worse ways. However, I have now got into the schedule of pre-preparing many of my meals and snacks which has allowed me to feel both organised and accomplished whilst also ensuring that I make more healthy choices. I have re-started going for long walks in nature which are beneficial to my mental and physical health by giving me a sense of peace and getting me into fresh-air.

CONTACT ME:

Twitter – @RyanBInNature

Instagram – @awalkwithnature00

5 Things I Pack To Combat Travel Anxiety

Airplane journeys can be very stressful experiences. Once you have made it through the rigours of airport security and finding your gate in the maze of identical looking passageways, you will probably already feel frazzled and at your wits’ end. Then, actually having to go through the experience of air travel is just another weight to put on your already stressed-out shoulders. There are certain things I make sure that I pack in order to combat the sort of travel anxiety which being thousands of feet up in the air surrounded by strangers causes! So, without further ado, here are 10 things I make sure to pack to try and keep myself calm:

1. Fidget/stim toys

I use discreet little toys such as Tangles or Fidget Cubes to help exercise some of my nervous energy which flying provokes. Being able to fiddle with these little toys allows me to pour all of my focus and concentration into using them which then distracts me from my anxious thoughts. Also, there is something about their familiarity to me which adds a certain comfort to holding them in my hands, almost like what a comfort blanket is to a young child I guess!

2. Mints

Mints are another great way to distract the mind from anxious thoughts and anchor your focus back onto you rather than what others are doing around you. You can use them for mindfulness practice as well, if that’s your sort of thing, because you can make yourself solely focus on the taste/texture/feeling of the mint in your mouth which can help prevent you from becoming scatter-brained.

3. Earphones

Listening to music is one of my favourite ways to combat anxiety in any situation regardless of my location, so it makes sense to use the same tactic against travel anxiety. Playing music in my ears can help me shut out the presence of people around me, making me less aware of the people surrounding me who I may otherwise be worried about. Also, if I can completely immerse myself in music, especially albums which I have listened to many, many times before, then I can lessen my concern about being sat in an aeroplane.

4. Harry Potter

Some people might find this silly or immature but frankly I do not care. Harry Potter things make me feel happy and the familiarity of the Wizarding World is a comfort to me. Don’t laugh but I have the soundtrack for the Prisoner of Azkaban on my iPad, I find the music from the Harry Potter films both enchanting and nostalgic and when I am anxious. I aim to convince my brain that I am safe and give myself space to feel calm, so Harry Potter is a good outlet for my worried brain.

5. A book

Whether fiction or non-fiction, books are a brilliant distraction as they give us the possibility of immersing ourselves in an author’s creation. Pouring over the pages of a good book offers an avenue into a world different from our own.

CONTACT ME:

Twitter – @RyanBInNature

Instagram – @awalkwithnature00

Why Anxiety Sufferers Are Misunderstood As Rude

During my course of CBT a couple of years ago, my therapist warned me that I probably come across as rude to other people whilst I am fighting off my anxiety in a social situation. In fact, she said that it’s likely I put people off and make them wary of me because they will view me as cold and distant. To a certain extent I can understand what she was saying, however I also maintain that people with anxiety should not be blamed for the way they appear during social interactions.

People who do not have experience of social anxiety can often misunderstand the internal workings of anxiety sufferers. For example, I fidget quite often during conversations and constantly try to avoid eye contact, so others can perceive me to be disinterested and aloof when really I am just battling to keep control over my mind as anxiety increasingly eats away at me. At other times, I have difficulty vocalising what I want to say; the words may be begging to be said at the front of my mind but they feel like they get stuck in my throat. As I panic more and more, I am unable to speak, my throat constricts further and the waiting words get squeezed so much that there is no hope of me getting them out in the air. Whilst all this is going on for me internally, the person awaiting my response in conversation may misunderstand me and think that I have nothing to say or believe that I have abandoned the interaction. Again, this situation ends-up in me being viewed as rude when really I am trying desperately hard to stay in the social situation whilst all my impulses scream at me to run away immediately.

I cannot blame other people for wrongly perceiving me as rude or distant because I display all of the normal signs of being exactly those characteristics. People judge each other on first impressions and keep those judgements in their minds for a very long time. The problem is that when I meet someone for the first time, my anxiety symptoms are often at their most extreme and pronounced. As a result, I come across as the most rude I can possibly be and, after that, I am condemned to glares across the lecture hall for the rest of the academic year all because of the disastrous first interaction I had with someone.

It’s difficult to conclude this post. If general society was more aware of the effects anxiety can have on the whole of people’s lives, then maybe these misunderstandings could be avoided and the pressure on sufferers to act okay when they are not could be eased. However, everyone has some measure of insecurities during social interactions, so we cannot pile all of the blame on people who become offended when they see the person they are talking to start to shuffle and look away into the distance.

I would love to know everyone’s thoughts about this topic and what people think can be done to ease the pressure on anxious people when they are in social situations.

Here is a link for information about anxiety and panic attacks if anyone wants to read-up on this further:

Mind – Anxiety and Panic Attacks

CONTACT ME:

Twitter – @RyanBInNature

Instagram – @awalkwithnature00

Gratitude List #3

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This week has been a bit all over the place. From coming out to riding a rollercoaster of dips and jumps in self-confidence, I’ve felt a lot of emotions during the last 7 days (when don’t I?). However, to put this week into perspective, I have decided to write-out a gratitude list to emphasise to myself the positive things I can take away from this week and to share the intention of shifting to a perspective of gratitude when life seems to overwhelm you. So, without further ado, here is a list of things I am grateful for which have appeared, surfaced or been re-emphasised in my life this week:

  1. My ability to get myself new glasses which can support my eyesight and make me feel comfortable whilst wearing them.
  2. The abundance of dried fruit and nuts I have to make delicious vegan fruit loaves with.
  3. The supportive and welcoming LGBTQ community online which offers me a place to feel safe and be myself even when I feel rejected in my personal life.
  4. My bullet planner which makes me feel in control of the events in my life by allowing me to become organised.
  5. The person who cut my hair yesterday and made me feel good about myself whilst she got creative with shaving my hair!
  6. Ted, the dog I got to look after earlier in the week who is such a sweetheart, never fails to make me smile and tolerates the playfulness of my other dogs even when he just wants to have a sleep.
  7. The album After Laughter by Paramore which lifts my mood and evokes great memories from the last couple of years.
  8. The people who leave comments on my blog posts, these interactions make my day and I love reading and replying to them.
  9. My morning coffees – they are a short period in my day where I can just focus on doing one thing, relax and prepare for the rest of my day.

 

CONTACT ME:

Twitter: @RyanBInNature

Instagram: @awalkwithnature00

Am I Safe? The Fear of Prejudice

Some days I catch myself mid-thought,
Contemptuous in my assumptions
About the cruel masks people use to smile.
I think, ‘if they knew who I am really am,
They would cast their eyes the other way
Shake their head to rid themselves of my contagion’.
For, they do not know the cogs my mind is turning,
How my brain does not mirror my shell;
I am outsider to my own body,
A figure of revolted confusion, mingling,
Turning tables in their midst, under cover
Of darkness or the approach of a raging storm.
I am exactly as I seem if you know where to look.

Some poets and songwriters advise against describing exactly what it is that you have written about. They say that readers and listeners should come to their own conclusions about the contents of your art and that they should interpret it subjectively, adapting it to their own unique perspective. However, I always feel impelled to know what writers are thinking as they craft their pieces of work together, so I am going to break the rules and explain to you, as best I can, what this poem I wrote is about:

When people meet me in public, cross me in the street, glance at me across a supermarket aisle, they have no idea what is going on in my life. Some assume that I am female, especially if they hear my soft and quite highly pitched voice. Others assume that I am male because of the way I dress and attempt to present myself. As someone who is trans, I sometimes catch myself thinking about that stranger in the supermarket or in the street and asking myself ‘I wonder if they would hate me/be confused by me/judge me negatively if they knew that I was transgender’. Essentially, I wonder whether they would still glance at me nonchalantly or walk past me casually if they knew about my identity and who I truly am.

This is one aspect of how societal prejudice works. It sows seeds of doubt and fear in people’s mind. We question whether we would face repercussions from strangers in the street if they knew about our identity whether that be regarding our sexuality, faith, gender or many other things. Our worries about facing prejudice, which stems from the abuse we have seen online or experienced ourselves before, causes us to build walls around ourselves, as we divide ourselves away from people we cannot be sure are safe to be around. Being part of an oppressed group can, for this reason, be an isolating and anxious experience. Feeling safe is of the upmost importance but when you do not know who you can trust or you cannot gauge the reactions of people to your identity, it is difficult not to seal yourself off from the outside world simply as a precaution.

 

As ever feel free to reach out to me on my social accounts or drop a comment below if you are going through something similar or have any questions.

TWITTER: @RyanBInNature

INSTAGRAM: @awalkwithnature00

The Gender Tag / Coming Out

This is a really big post for me to publish, it feels like I am revealing a massive part of my identity to you guys which, up to this point, I have felt too scared to admit to because I was worried about what other people would think and being rejected. I thought that using a tag to do this would be an easy and simple way to ‘come out’ because it will break down my experiences into little chunks and make it easier for other people to understand me (hopefully). So, without further ado, here is my take on the Gender Tag (please be nice in the comments and if you have something judgemental to say keep it to yourself).

1. How do you self-identify your gender, and what does that definition mean to you?

I am transgender, female to male to be specific. Being a trans man means that I have felt suffocated in the body I was born into, everyday I have got up in the morning knowing that I have to live and function in a body which does not feel like it belongs to me and which I often feel repulsed by. The definition ‘transgender man’ does not however equal to me the criteria of toxic masculinity we see in society these days. Whilst I am a man, I will refuse to conform to the hyper-masculine stereotypes which are so emphasised in the media. Refusing to cry and suppressing vital emotions is not what being a trans man means to me. Personally, identifying as a trans man means that I finally have the freedom to be who I truly am without imposing boundaries and limits on my character.

2. What pronouns honour you?

He/him is music to my ears. Whereas I cannot be referred to as she/her without flinching. However, being referred to as they/them does not offend me, especially if someone does not know me and isn’t prepared to ask me my pronouns outright. Hedging your bets on they/them in my personal case is much better for me than risking misgendering me.

3. Describe the style of clothing you most often wear.

Quite literally every day I wear jogging bottoms, a baggy t-shirt (most likely Harry Potters  themed) and a hoodie unless it’s warm in which I case I drop the hoodie. On a daily basis, I wear clothing which doesn’t show my figure, meaning that I feel loads more comfortable in oversized items.

4. Talk about your choices with body hair. How do you style your hair? Do you have facial hair? What do you choose to shave, or choose not to shave?

In regards to the hair on my head, it is very short and I do the bare minimum with it. I literally just wash it in the morning, run a comb through it and let it dry naturally which does not take long at all. I do not shave, although I used to when I was at school because otherwise the other girls would have stared at me like I was a foreign species and the boys would have undoubtedly have had something/a lot to say about it (the atmosphere of my school was literally that petty).

5. Talk about cosmetics. Do you chose to wear make-up? Do you paint your nails? What types of soaps and perfumes do you use if any?

I never wear make-up. I used to wear it occasionally when I was younger because I thought it would make me feel more confident by allowing me to fit-in more but, in reality, it just made me feel more uncomfortable and like I was only doing it for everyone else around me rather than myself. I do not paint my nails, however this is more down to me being lazy and impatient because I can never be bothered for nail varnish to actually dry properly. I also do not use perfume because I am very sensitive to smells, so overpowering scents tend to just annoy me during the day. The types of soaps I use are usually quite neutral fragrances which do not linger long after using them.

6. Have you experienced being misgendered? If so, how often?

Yes, for the vast majority of my life I have been misgendered because I have not been comfortable enough in my identity to come out as trans, even though I purposely dressed in a androgynous way and attempted to present myself as masculine. On the occasional times that I have been referred to as a guy, it has made me really happy, although once I have spoken in my high to the person they become horrified for ‘mistaking’ me for not being a girl and I have to repeatedly assure them that I am really not offended.

7. Do you experience dysphoria? How does that affect you?

Yes, dysphoria is a daily sledge hammer which attacks my self-confidence. Sometimes it prevents me from leaving the house because I cannot bear being seen by other people and feeling their eyes on me. Dysphoria is very damaging to my mental health and general mood because it makes me feel disgusted by my own body and plunges me into self-loathing.

8. Talk about children. Are you interested in having children? Would you want to carry a child if that was an option for you? Do you want to be the primary caretaker for any children you have?

In all honesty, the idea of having children really does not interest me and it never has, I’m just not a child-orientated person and it has taken me a long time to not feel bad about myself for being this way. The idea of carrying a child is also not for me, especially as I would wish to to have a hysterectomy in the future.

9. Talk about money. Is it important to you to provide for a family financially if you choose to have one? Is it important to you that you earn more than any partner you may have? Do you prefer to pay for things like dates? Are you uncomfortable when others pay for you or offer to pay for you?

This question makes me cringe because it just screams to me of outdated tropes of nuclear families and gender stereotypes. Concern about money and paying for things just seems to me to be ways of enforcing your own power and dominance in a relationship which is an uncomfortable and weird thought. I really think that it can only be an insecure relationship in which someone feels the need to earn more than the other.

10. Anything else you want to share about your experience with gender?

It has taken me a very long time to come to a place in my life in which I feel even remotely comfortable with myself and my gender. I have experienced years of confusion and self-hatred but now there is a positive at the end of the story. I am proud that I have given myself the freedom and licence to be the person I know I am rather than self-imposing constraints upon my character and personality or following the caricature of male and female characteristics portrayed in the media.

 

If you have any questions or are struggling with anything gender related, although I am not an expert, feel free to contact me via the links below or drop me a comment.

TWITTER: @RyanBInNature (I recently changed my Twitter handle by the way)

INSTAGRAM: @awalkwithnature00

Unpopular Opinions Part 2

I’ve decided to write a sequel to my first ‘Unpopular Opinions’ post because I enjoyed the response to my last one so much. It’s really fun to share your thoughts with other people and find that they agree with you when other people have always told you that your opinions are weird and odd. So, without further ado, here is my second post of my Unpopular Opinions and please leave comments about whether or not you agree with me down below!

1. I find yellow to be an annoying colour; it’s so bright and loud that it feels invasive and blares at you from across the room.

2. I hate champagne and proseco, they’re supposed to be celebration drinks but their taste is enough to put a dampener on any good news.

3. I think sliders are the worst footwear creations since Crocs, if nothing else I’m worried that people are going to slip out of them whilst going down the stairs and fall over.

4. The majority of premium range, expensive cars look repulsive to me, I much prefer the look of normal, everyday cars.

5. For me, Urban Outfitters is massively over-rated and overpriced, I just do not see the appeal.

6. I think greetings cards with glitter on them should be banned, I hate the stuff when it explodes out of the envelope and little specks of glitter hang around for years, stubbornly refusing to leave every orifice of your home.

7. I do not particularly like the taste of avocados, I find them bland and wouldn’t go out of my way to cook with them.

8. A6 notepads are little wads of frustration, you may as well try to cram what you want to write onto a post-it for all the space an A6 page gives you.

9. The first Divergent film is great, the others I found quite disappointing especially considering I loved the books so much.

10. I prefer to go to colder climates on holiday when I go abroad, warmer climates just make me grumpy!

11. I hate it when people criticise fan fiction and fan art, people being creative in whatever form should be encouraged rather than demeaned.

 

Ace and Down On The Ground

My emotions do not work for you

My emotions do not work for you,
My ‘type’ is not seen in films,
Or lauded by proud relatives.

I’m the dog-eared piece of a jigsaw puzzle;
Incapable of slotting-in beside another.
Your risqué quips make me sick,
A brush in the corridor makes me flinch,
The fibre of their collective being collides,
Scratches and irritates mine.
I am not a fairytale –
There will be no family portrait for me –
I smirk and frown to hide my doubt
And hope the spotlight never falls on me.

Infantilised as an Adult Who Cries to be Heard

People look at me
And see a distorted child’s face –
My 19 years reduced to a pittance –
As judgement gleams from their eyes.
So they cast their words over my head
Towards a more responsible set of shoulders;
One made of more than me,
Seen as a more reliable focus for information.

Will I ever grow to be seen
Above the ledge of suspicion and mirth?
My mangled sentences are viewed as tired ramblings,
Pouring from the mouth of one juvenile
Who cannot yet sit at the table,
Nor meet the eyes of the rest of them.

After enough eyes pierce your heart,
Minimise you down to a pitiless size,
You can see yourself in the mirror of their face,
Become the infantilised ghost they haunt you with.
Shame begins to creep over your hunched frame
As you look-up through hooded lids,
Blowing another candle from a wounded birthday cake.

CONTACT ME:

Twitter: @IssieLouH

Instagram: @awalkwithnature00

The Harry Potter Tag

No amount of Harry Potter magic in your life is too much. Recently my mental health has been quite up and down and, as silly as it sounds, the wizarding world of Harry Potter always allows me some escapism, even at the age of 19! I love retreating into the fantastical world of Hogwarts and diverting my mind from the negative thoughts spiralling around my head. So, today I thought I would complete the Harry Potter Tag in a bid to spread some magic and light to other people’s lives.

*I believe that this tag was created by Cassie over at ZombieGoddess Beauty, so all credit to her*

1. What house are you in?

I am a very proud Slytherin! Whilst some people find my house controversial, I firmly believe that not all Slytherins are evil or necessarily drawn to dark things. We are resourceful and cunning but we can chose to use these qualities in any way . Also, being ambitious (which is another house quality) does not have to be a shameful attribute. Striving for the things you want in life is very important for self-fulfilment.

2. What is your patronus?

My patronus is a buzzard according to Pottermore (which is a bird if you were wondering). I’m not sure what to say about this really, except for that I think having a flying creature for your patronus is quite cool, especially in a visual sense.

3. What is your wand?

My wand is alder wood with a unicorn hair core, 10 inches long and quite bendy. 

4. What would your boggart be?

Probably me as a deeply miserable old woman. As someone who suffers from mental health issues, there is always a worry in the back of my mind that my problems will stay with me all my life and that I will never be far from depression and anxiety. The idea that I would spend my whole life in that state is very frightening to me.

5. What position would you play in Quidditch? 

I think I would be a Beater. I would not like to be a Seeker because that entails too much pressure and attention from the crowd. Being a Keeper might make me jealous of my teammates because they would be able to fly around a lot more than me. Also, I don’t think I would have the speed to be a Chaser whereas a Beater would quite suit my fiery nature.

6. Would you be a pure blood, half blood or muggle born?

I could imagine myself as a muggle born because I am usually the odd-one-out in a lot of situations! I am quite an awkward person as well which would correspond with the awkwardness of being the only one in the family with magical ability. I’m not sure what my fellow Slytherins would have to say about it though!

7. What job would you want to have after graduating from Hogwarts?

Running my own magical shop in Diagon Alley sounds like a nice prospect! Perhaps I would run a shop in my retirement after serving as an auror during my employment years. Catching Death Eaters and other dark figures would be very satisfying and give me a chance to prove all those Slytherin stereotypes wrong.

8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you chose?

The Invisibility Cloak has always greatly appealed to me. As a very anxious person, being able to hide from certain social situations sounds great to me. Also, with the Invisibility Cloak I could investigate all sorts of forbidden places which would make for great adventures.

9. Favourite book?

The Prisoner of Azkaban. As this is the book where Harry, Ron and Hermione are in their Third Year, we see them as having matured (to an extent) for the first time and we get an insight into their emotional complexity, especially with Harry in regards to the death of his parents.

10. Least favourite book?

The Chamber of Secrets. I could not bare the character of Gilderoy Lockhart, so reading through scenes with him made me cringe and squirm furiously! However, it goes without saying that I still love the book.

11. Favourite film?

Again, I would say The Prisoner of Azkaban. It has everything in it that I love about Harry Potter films. Also, this film is the first time we see Sirius Black who is my favourite character and the scene where he flies off on Buckbeak’s back is iconic!

12. Least favourite film?

I would have to say The Chamber of Secrets again. Every time Lockhart’s face appears on screen, I groan!

13. Favourite character?

Sirius Black, I love that he is so complex. His family background is really interesting considering that they rejected him whilst he was still young because he diverted from their Pure Blood fascination. His courage and willingness to fight for what is right, his passion for being a good godfather to Harry and the injustice of him being imprisoned for a crime he did not commit all make a really intriguing character for me.

14. Least favourite/most hated character?

Lucius Malfoy, he is portrayed as spineless and incredibly passive, especially in the films. Whenever he has a task he is unable to do his own work, he never stands-up to people, his snobbery is infuriating and his son is endlessly miserable which is partly due to his dire upbringing.

15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

This changes quite often for me but at the moment it is Remus Lupin who comes to mind. His lessons were imaginative and engaging for his students. His own story about becoming a werewolf at such a young age and facing social stigma because of it is another intriguing strand to his backstory. Also, the fact that he was one of the infamous Marauders helps my liking of him!

16. Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

Delores Umbridge, although Gilderoy Lockhart comes a very close second! Umbridge was endlessly evil and her torture of those who opposed her was shocking. She had an answer for everything and constantly found a way to legitimate her actions. Also her bright pink outfits along with her cat saucers, which lined her walls, were horrible.

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?

I thought that a lot more attention could have been given to Harry and Ginny’s relationship to be honest. Their connection wasn’t developed enough for me and did not sit naturally in my mind. 

18. If you could save one character from the final battle who would you save?

I think it would have to be Fred Weasley; he was so young and the other half of George who could never conjure a patronus again after his twin’s death. Whilst I think that Lupin and Tonks deserved so much better, I couldn’t save one without the other and at least they had been given the chance to live a life before they died.

 

I tag anyone else to do this who needs a little more magic in their life at the moment!

CONTACT ME:

Twitter: @IssieLouH

Instagram: @awalkwithnature00