Thursday, 3 October 2019

BBC Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out | Review

Jesy Nelson: 'Odd One Out' was initially aired on BBC One on the 12th September 2019 and takes the viewers on Jesy's journey of rehabilitation and recovery "as she opens up about abuse she has suffered at the hands of cyberbullies and its effects on her mental health".

It is always so inspiring to see individuals who live in the public eye speak up about their own experience with mental illness, I know that Demi Lovato has made a few documentaries throughout the years and I am always eager to watch a new one when it comes out. Having said that, I felt that Jesy's was different because she wasn't just sitting down and telling her story, we went on her journey with her, we saw her at her worst and at her best and it really opened my eyes into the online world and the effects of cyberbullying. 

Upon the programme beginning, Jesy explains why she is making the documentary and what she hopes to get out of it and amongst this she explains how her mum is terrified of her making it. Initially, I thought that her mum was ashamed of her daughter speaking up about her experiences with mental health conditions but I was so wrong, her mum didn't want her to make the documentary because she was worried it would fuel the bullies and make the bullying worse which can be a terrifying concept and probably stops a lot of people from opening up about their problems. Despite this, Jesy was determined to get her story out there to try and help other people who may be in her situation and I am sure that there has been hundreds of people who have benefited from seeing this hour long programme.

Jesy explains how her problems began when the singing group that she is part of, Little Mix, won the X Factor in 2011 and she was told that she had to have social media, something that she says completely changed her life. Every time she would post online, she would get messages upon messages of hate from trolls who would call her things like a "fat singing whale" and who would tell her to go and kill herself; words that can damage anyone's confidence and mental health. She got into the mindset of believing what would be said about her and she commented that "the whole world had an opinion of me, I was known as the fat, ugly one" and as this continued to happen she hit such a low point that she just stopped turning up to work as she couldn't bare to go out. 

One thing that I loved about this documentary was that Jesy didn't stay quiet about things that she believed in and she stated multiple times throughout the programme that "you cannot get away from social media and it is ruining a lot of peoples lives" which I couldn't agree with more; social media can be an incredible platform however, it can turn very negative, very quickly. It can be full of positivity one minute and then overflowing with negativity the next.. everyone has an opinion and nobody seems to be afraid to hide it behind a screen. 

Jesy explains how her brain started believing everything that everyone was saying about her and how somebody at work said to her that they thought she needed to go on antidepressants and she remembers thinking 'why should I go on antidepressants because of what other people are saying about me?' She adds that she doesn't think people realise the effects of what bullying and trolling can do to somebody. 

It is obvious that the bullying and trolling has had a massive impact on her life because throughout the entire documentary, she is constantly putting herself down and is always shutting people down when they try to give her a compliment which is so frustrating as a viewer because you just want to remind her that she is more important than somebody else's opinion. At one point in the programme she says how "I look like a witch" and when recording with the rest of the group she states that "I feel like I can do my bit better" despite reassurance from the rest of the girls that she did amazingly. In another part of the programme she said how she just looks shit and uncomfortable and then said how she just feels like a 'fat, ugly rat'.

The breaking point for Jesy was when Katie Hopkins called her fat and after this, Jesy got severely depressed and it spiralled out of control. It makes me so angry that somebody like Katie Hopkins, who has a following still has the audacity to constantly share her unwanted, invalid and offensive opinions which she knows is going to hurt other people. Jesy describes how she remembers thinking that she needed to make this go away and that she wanted to end her life and she attempted to take her own life, "when you're in that state of mind, all you care about is taking the pain away." She also added that she is so glad that she is still here.

Throughout the programme she also spoke about what social media platforms are doing about cyberbullying and trolling and some of them don't seem to be doing anything, at all. She said how she had tried to contact Facebook numerous times and they don't even respond to messages about hate.

"We live in a social media obsessed world now and it's scary because now kids growing up don't know any different".

Jesy also spoke about how the bullying has changed what she feels like she can put onto social media and how "I can't just post a photo where I don't look perfect". She also said how after losing weight that the thought of going back to the 'fat and ugly' one in the group scares her.

In addition to telling her story, throughout the documentary Jesy decided to try and get some closure on her issues and make changes to enable her to move past her trauma. Before the documentary, she couldn't even look at an old photo of herself from when she was on X factor and she explains how she has shut away the 'old Jesy' for such a long time because she just felt that she needed to be the new Jesy that everyone likes because everyone hated the old Jesy. She went to see a body image expert and explained to her that "I loved that Jesy and I've got to love every part of me".


Her boyfriend also appeared in the documentary and explained how he realised that Jesy had a lot of insecurities. There were times where she wouldn't physically let him see her without make up on and when he stayed over, she would get up at the crack of dawn to put on make up and then would get back into bed with the make up on. He added how she still won't wash her hair when he stays round because it naturally goes frizzy and that she is very self critical. 

"My trauma does really run deep and I may never really recovery properly", she explains how she needs to start looking at old videos and clips again to try and reconnect with her old self to truly be happy again. She hadn't looked at old clips because it was such a negative time for her, that she just wanted to get rid of it completely.

Towards the end of the programme, Jesy explained that eventually, she started to believe in herself which gave her the hope to continue and carry on, "I don't think that I will ever be the same again but what I do know is that I'm getting better".

"If I could give my younger self some advice it'd be that I promise you will feel happy again".

Overall, I loved this documentary, I felt that it really felt real and raw which is quite rare to see on TV, I loved how honest she was and how there was no holding back on anything that she had been through. I think that there needs to be more programmes like this one and I would highly recommend watching this documentary, even if you haven't struggled from mental illness yourself because it can really open your eyes to some aspects of the scary world that we seem to be living in.

"7 in young people have experienced cyberbullying and 26% of young people who have been cyberbullies reported feeling suicidal" (Ditch the label survey, 2019).

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Adapting to University Life with Mental Illness

Hello and welcome back to my blog. I thought that I would start this post with a little introduction about myself because it has been a hefty while since I last mentioned much at all about myself apart from the fact that I have struggled with mental illness for the last few years. 

My name is Taylor, I am 21 years old and I live in Norwich. I am currently a First Year Mental Health Nursing Student after spending the past year studying an Access to higher education course. I decided to study an access course because I had previously withdrawn from further education due to my mental health and I felt that I wanted to do something more with my life, I didn't want to be a waitress, earning rubbish money for the rest of my life.

When deciding to go to University, I knew that I wanted to study Mental Health Nursing but as I started my Access course and heard about courses that other students were applying for, I did debate changing to Midwifery or Paramedic Science but I had had my heart set on Mental Health for the past couple of years and decided to stick with what I knew.. I am already so glad that I did. I also knew that I didn't want to move away from home, my family are in Norwich, my boyfriend is in Norwich and I am one to get massively homesick so if I could get into my local University, that was where I was going and that is where I am currently studying. 

Considering that I am not living in student accommodation, my experience isn't the same as most students because I still live at home, I still have my own bed, my cat, my family close by and my job but as far as academics go, I have experienced the whole range of emotions within my first two weeks, as I am sure the majority of first year students have. I also am not one to go out and drink much but after the first day of University, I decided to impulsively go to a freshers event and it was such a good night, but I am so bad with hangovers that I doubt I'll be going out in a rush again.

The first week was strange, it was mostly all about introductions to the course, the campus and meeting a lot of new people. On the first day, we just had a tour of campus, on the second day we spent four hours straight in lectures with five minute breaks every hours and it really made me debate if university was even for me because everything that we were 'learning' about, I am sure 90% of the people within the lecture had previously been taught, multiple times. However, on the third day we moved over to the hospital site and did practical work of basic life support which was much more interesting than the day before.

Overall, week one was a bit all over the place and I wasn't really as pleased as I had hoped I'd be with what is going to be my life for the next three years. I think what didn't help is that I am on a new course because whenever new regulations come out within subjects like nursing, the course has to be reworked to meet new standards so even the lecturers didn't really seem to know what they were doing.

However, week two came around and we dived a bit deeper into the learning side of things. I am getting used to the ideas of lectures where you're just being spoken to for hours on end and expected to make notes on what you think will be relevant  Seminars also began this week which are field specific instead of including all nursing students, no matter their field. 

The main issue that I am having is the fact that almost all the studying that you need to complete, is so independent to the point that we're not given clear instructions on what to do, we have to find out for ourselves and they definitely haven't gone easy on us for the first couple of weeks, I have been assigned over 20 NHS online training courses, training courses from the University, independent learning, directed learning, group assignments and formative assignments. My brain currently feels completely fried but I am hoping that I will be able to start checking things off before I get another bulk of work to complete. At this point, if it wasn't for 'to-do lists', I would not have a clue what needs completing because in reality, I barely know even with endless lists.

Everyone on my course is really lovely and I have to keep reminding myself that we are all in the same boat, we are all getting used to unfamiliar situations and we are all probably wondering if we have made the right decision.

Lastly.. University with mental illness is difficult. I would class my mental health as currently being stable but there have been many tears, swear words, frustration and anxiety in just the first week; the stress is real but one thing that I have learnt is that the university has so much support available should it be needed (which hopefully it won't) which is good and a bit of a safety blanket that I have to remember every time I want to drop out, which has happened about 20 times already, but I will stick it out, at least until Christmas.

As I did with my access course, I will try to keep you updated with my progress as much as I can and I will speak to you soon.


Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Friday, 13 September 2019

My last Summer before the beginning of my Future


Somehow we are in September, already? I finished college at the beginning of June, leaving me with a three and a half month summer. Most people would choose to use this gap of time to travel, to embrace the good weather and to make incredible memories but for me, this summer was all about resting and ensuring that even without a structure, I can still maintain a stable state of mind. This summer has been strange, I haven't had an educational summer break in years and I am preparing for my life to change in a few different aspects; I am starting my career and university degree, something that I have only dreamt of, some of my relatives are expecting babies which is incredibly exciting and I am making the biggest step in my life yet of moving on, past my history and own personal struggles. 

There isn't too much that I can say that I have achieved or accomplished this summer but I have still been entirely busy. Preparing for university is stressful (and I'm not even having to move house), I have spent all summer filling in form after form, attending meetings, filling out more paperwork and spending a tonne of money on university, before even starting. I never even thought that there would be much more preparing to do throughout the summer as I had already applied to university through UCAS, I had already sorted out student finance, I had attended my interviews but oh boy was I wrong, those were the 'simple' things that needed to be organised. I didn't realise how much time, energy and 'faffing around' went into getting a DBS check, applying for extra support incase I need it, organising appointments and filling in forms for a health check, applying to various national and university nursing organisations, setting up my university online portal, consenting to this, that and everything else, opening a student bank account and even filling in forms for placements. It has been hectic to say the least and just when I think that I am finished, there's something else that I have forgotten to do. Having said that, I think I am almost there (thankfully).

Alongside this, I have been working part-time, trying to sort other family issues out, trying to spend as much time as I possibly can with my family and boyfriend before my time is even more stretched and ultimately distracting myself from the reality and anxiety that I am actually going to university.. in just over a week.

I have also had some lovely times, I have had countless family BBQ's which have been lovely, I went to a wedding which was exciting and I have also gotten back into watching TV series which is something that I rarely do. I have gotten so much into watching series that I have spent the summer rewatching the first six seasons of dance moms, thirteen reasons why and a few other mini series. 

I aim to continue to update my blog throughout my degree when I can but please be patient as I have no idea how busy I will be, but this is definitely not the end of my blog and I hope that you can all come on my journey with me.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Why we should be Preventing Suicide Every Day

I am sure that many of you are aware that World Suicide Prevention Day for this year took place on Tuesday 10th September. It is no secret that mental health conditions are on the rise due to many different factors in todays society but there is more awareness surrounding mental health than ever before and although they may be underfunded and staffed, there is more mental healthcare services available. However, Suicide rates are also on the rise, especially within the UK and I think we need to be talking about this topic everyday, not just on one specific day of the year which is why I purposely haven't published this post on World Suicide Prevention Day. 

According to Samaritans, in the UK there were 6859 deaths by Suicide throughout 2018 and the number of deaths from Suicide increased by 11.8% over one year. Within the UK, men are three times more likely to die by Suicide than woman are and despite the highest number of Suicides being of men aged between 45 and 49, Suicide rates for individuals under the age of 25 has increased by 23.7%, again over the course of a year. These statistics are terrifying, there are so many people not only across the country but across the entire world that are being failed by healthcare systems, that are too afraid to speak out and ultimately that feels that there is no other way out than by taking their own lives. 

I find it frustrating that deaths by Suicide are on the increase yet nobody seems to be trying to do anything about it apart from charities. Surely the government should be able to see that this is a growing problem and that our country is in the middle of a massive mental health crisis but apparently they have better things to spend their money on. As somebody who has been suicidal and has attempted to take their own life numerous times, I can't help but empathise with these poor individuals who have lost their lives but on the other hand, I am happy that they finally found their peace and that they no longer have to suffer but I also know the impact that Suicide has on other people and I have seen how it can tear entire families apart and ruin loved ones. I think one of the key messages that needs to be promoted is that if somebody ends their life by Suicide, they were not being selfish because when you're in a suicidal frame of mind, you often feel that your loved ones would be better off without you and that you'd no longer be a burden to them.

Don't get me wrong, World Suicide Prevention Day is incredible, it gets people talking about the subject and every year I feel that the world is becoming more understanding but I hate how on that one specific day of the year, everyone is sharing advice, facts, statistics and personal stories yet the following day it is almost forgotten, as though it never happened. It is like people feel that it is ok to speak up on an international prevention day but not at any other time when in reality, nobody should ever feel ashamed to speak up. I know that it can be so difficult to speak up, but mental health conditions are so common nowadays and mental health is everywhere, although there is still some stigma surrounding the subject, it is nothing like how it used to be and there is always a chance that your own advice or personal story could help or even save the life of somebody else.

For those who suffer from mental health conditions, there is always ups and downs and sometimes we have more manageable 'downs' and other times we feel that we have hit absolute rock bottom, but whenever I feel that I am at rock bottom I remind myself that I have been here before, that I know it can't last forever and that I have survived it before so I can survive it again. Obviously, this doesn't always work because I cannot explain how crippling and destroying mental illness can be and often, taking your own life does feel like the only option but if you make that decision then how are you going to know that things could have gotten better? 

We need to continue to talk and continue to allow people to feel that it is ok to share their problems with others, they say that a problem shared is a problem halved no matter how guilty it may make you feel. Let's continue to talk about suicide prevention throughout the entire year instead of just on one day, we never know who may need to see it and who could benefit from it. 

If any of you ever feel that there is no other way out, then please speak out, it is so important and you never know what may be right around the corner. You can talk to anybody, it could be a relative, a friend, a stranger or even a healthcare professional just please don't suffer alone. My contact details are always available on my blog if anybody ever needs a chat.


Keep safe, continue to speak up and remember that bad days can't last forever.

Useful contacts for within the UK:

Samaritans: Tel: 116123 (Around the clock), Website: samaritans.org
Mind: Tel: 03001233393, Website: mind.org.uk
Papyrus: Tel: 08000684141, Website: papyrus-uk.org
CALM: Tel: 0800585858, Website: thecalmzone.net
ChildLiine: Tel: 08001111, Website: childline.org.uk
Kooth: Website: kooth.com
YoungMinds: Tel: 08088025544, Website: young minds.org.uk
The Mix: Tel: 08088084994, Website: themix.org.uk
Maytree: Tel: 02072637070, Website: maytree.org.uk


Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

One step forward, Two steps back

There is nothing more frustrating than feeling that things may finally be looking up for you, for them to come crashing down, almost suddenly. I know why I am experiencing bad days at the present, I know what is stressing me out and what is causing me to feel bad but there is nothing I can do about it, especially when half of the stressful situations I'm experiencing are entirely out of my control. I am a worrier, I worry about everything whether the situation directly affects me or not, I care about people too much and I probably care about others wellbeing more than my own most of the time, but as frustrating as it can feel, I must remember that bad days are ok and are entirely normal.

I know that I need structure within my life in order to maintain a positive and healthy mindset, but that isn't always possible. I am currently halfway through a summer break after finishing college and before starting University. I try to work as much as I can to maintain some sort of structure, but I can't work constantly and I'm no longer used to having so much spare time, which gives me more time to think. 

Staying busy is essential because despite having a mental relapse, I don't want to let things escalate to the point of relapsing into old habits that I had. I worked so hard to stop those habits and I do not want to put myself through it again, I don't want to allow my mindset to escalate so quickly and badly that these become a part of my life again and I feel that recognising this is an essential part of preventing it from happening again. 

I know that once I have overcome the initial anxiety of starting University and have settled in, that I will start to feel better but it is filling the gap in-between which I am finding difficult. I know that I can get through this, I have done it numerous times before but it has been a while since I have sunk this deep into sadness that I am struggling to accept that this is my life again and that I am having to take difficult steps to ensure that I will be ok again. 

It does feel as though I have taken one step forward and two steps back, but that is life and not everything is a breeze, there are obstacles that need to be tackled and worries that must be overcome. I will get there eventually, I am sure I will, it'll just be a bit rocky for now. I know that I have overcome worse in the past, so I am sure that I am strong enough to do it again, I just don't want to, it's completely draining, but what other choice do I have?

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Monday, 12 August 2019

Everything I look forward to learning as a Student Mental Health Nurse

I have just over a month to go until I start my degree in Mental Health Nursing and I am feeling all of the emotions. Part of me is looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life and I can't wait to start my career but the other part of me is nervous and I can't help but question if I am making the right choice, if this is definitely what I want to do and if I will even be able to do it. Having said that, there is so much that I can't wait to start learning about and I feel that after many years within mental health services, I may have a slight head start. 

It's no secret that Mental Health Conditions are on the rise and although I don't expect university to be easy, I think that Mental Health Nurses are in desperate need and therefore, I don't think I could have picked a more rewarding career, suitable for me. Despite going through rounds of treatment and therapies myself, I don't know the science behind them or the structure of them and I am excited to learn about the different types of therapies, why and how they work and what conditions each therapy is most suited to.

Secondly, I look forward to having the opportunity of working in different settings because although Mental Health Nursing is predominantly focussed on Mental Health Conditions, there are so many different aspects and settings that I could be placed in, whether they be an adolescent community service, an inpatient unit for dementia or a forensic unit. I won't know what setting I want to work in until I have had a feel of them whilst doing placement at them and although at the minute, I feel that I would want to work with either children or within forensics, my choices could completely change.

I also look forward to working on placement which I have already slightly touched on, I am looking forward to learning hands on, to being able to help vulnerable individuals and to having no two days the same. I think that placement will be hard, there will certainly be challenging aspects to it but I think that I am as ready as I will ever be.

Next, I am looking forward to widening my knowledge on Mental Health Conditions, side effects and treatments. I feel that I personally already have quite a good understanding and knowledge of this, but I am looking forward to learning in depth about each condition. I am probably looking forward to the classroom aspect of the degree just as much as I am placement as I know that I am interested in the subject, and I think that there will be very few times where I find myself getting bored.

On the other hand, I am equally looking forward to learning about other aspects of Mental Health that I have very little knowledge on such as drugs, alcohol and forensics. I think that these subjects will be very interesting and will really open my eyes. I think that I will find these topics just as, if not more interesting than the things I already know.

Finally, I look forward to being able to give service users advice and support which may help them to hold on to a bit of hope, no matter what they have gone through. I know that for me, some of the members of staff that I have met throughout the years within services have been the most helpful to my recovery.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Thursday, 4 July 2019

I have a Level 3 Qualification.. | Access to Higher Education Diploma Update

I am not sure where the past twelve months have gone, but they have certainly flown by and I am officially the proud owner of a Level 3 Education Qualification.. well, I will be once I get my certificate. My year back at college is completed, I actually finished on the 12th June, so I have spent the past three weeks working and desperately waiting to get my results back and now that I have them back, I thought that I would do a summary of my year. 

I decided in the beginning of 2018 that I would like to go to University to study either Mental Health Nursing or Psychology but I didn't have the qualifications to do so and I just didn't think it would ever happen as I had a quite negative experience with education and I couldn't even imagine going back to do my A Levels. It wasn't until somebody that I knew was doing an Access Diploma that I realised that I didn't need to do a lengthy two year course to get a place at University and after looking into the courses available near me, I decided on one; Access to Healthcare Practitioners which I applied for, got a place and have now managed to complete.

An Access course is completely different to any form of education that I have experienced before, it is intense, it is time consuming and it is stressful however, it is only for nine months and everyone on the course is above the age of 19. My specific course was mostly focussed on Science as most healthcare practitioners rely heavily on science to be able to do their jobs. I hate Science, I find Science so boring, it really has never been my subject but I told myself that this was my last chance to get a Level 3 qualification and I was determined to complete it. With Access courses, it is less about preparing you for your exams and more about preparing you for University. On the access course, if you miss a lesson, your tutors aren't going to hunt you down, if you'd rather study outside of the classroom then that is ok and it is quite a relaxed way of learning. My course was only for three days per week, two of which were fairly long days but it worked for me. 

Another thing that I struggled to adapt to was the grades as this is a diploma, so everything is marked as Pass, Merit or Distinction and to make it even more confusing was that there are 60 credits to the course; fifteen were unmarked so you couldn't get higher than a Pass and 45 were graded. Instead of all of the exams being at the end of the year, each unit was divided into eight weeks and we would have around three units that we were learning at the same time. I surprised myself when I got Distinctions in my first two exams but this also meant that in my head, I had to get distinctions and I did actually manage to get a Merit in one exam which felt like the end of the world but I only needed Merits to get into University so in reality, it was fine. Overall, I managed to get my 15 Ungraded Credits at a Pass and out of my Graded credits I got 42 at a Distinction and 3 at a Merit which looking back on, I am pleased but I still am a bit annoyed that I messed up one of my exams. For my Conditional Offer for University of East Anglia, I needed to get 36 credits at a Merit and 9 credits at a Pass plus my 15 ungraded credits so I have gotten what I need and I am now just waiting for the confirmation to come through which will probably be in August.

As far as attendance goes, we all know that I am not exactly great at keeping my attendance up and it did slip in the last full half term of the year and I did only attend for 53% of this half term. This did cause my overall attendance to drop dow0n to 80% however, I did get the grades that I needed so I don't think my attendance was a massive issue and compared to at Sixth Form, 80% for a year is a miracle.

I did find the Access course fun, I liked how it was only for three days of the week but there was still a huge workload and we were meant to at least be matching the same hours outside of college that we did within college. It was tough, but it was doable and there was options to ask for an extension if it was required, I am pretty shocked that I didn't need an extension for anything as some of my submissions were very last minute.

I think what helped me the most throughout the year was that nobody; staff or students knew my background and I therefore felt that I was quite free to get on with my work myself, I wasn't constantly being asked if I was ok and it made it a lot easier to just get on with it, I knew there was support if I needed it but I managed ok and I think that just having a structure really benefitted me. 

Other than receiving my certificate and formally being accepted into University, I have fully completed the Access course and in just over two months I will be starting a course in Mental Health Nursing at the UEA.. scary! Who'd have thought that I would be going to Uni? Certainly not me but I can't wait to start training and to eventually be able to help others who have been in similar situations than me.


Thank-you for reading, Tay x
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