Emma Violet

I've wanted to upload a blog post like this for some time. The desire to write this post intensified following personal, first-hand experience of mental health deterioration, which has been met by diminishing responses and harsh judgement versus the support and encouragement that was actually required. Despite the numerous 'mental health awareness days' and now even 'mental health awareness weeks' dotted around the annual calendar and a few significant, successful mental health campaigns, there is still so much misunderstanding and ignorance in our society when it comes to understanding and/or supporting those of us with mental health issues. I am sick to death of mental health being regarded as less important than physical health. The brain is one of the most important organs in our body, yet most of us neglect it. Taking time off for a 'mental health day' is not the same as taking time off sick because you have the flu or have a stomach virus. Why? Even someone like myself who struggles with 'Generalised Anxiety Disorder' and who gets excruciating stomach pain, nausea and feverish symptoms as a result of my anxiety would still feel guilty taking time off of Uni, unless, of course, the origin of those symptoms belonged to some form of stomach virus or 24 hour sickness bug (i.e. physical illness/cause). I'd feel much more comfortable looking after myself because of the latter reason, purely because physical health is more clearly understood and treated with far more empathy than mental health. 

I wanted other individual's experiences to feature in this post, instead of making this post central to me and my personal mental health experience. Participating individuals briefly describe some of the judgement and misconceptions they have had to deal with in their daily lives. They also provide their honest and raw experiences with mental health and what they personally believe would help them feel more supported by others. A few lovely, courageous people have provided their responses below, so please do be respectful and sensitive when reading their experiences. It's still not easy to be honest about your mental health, because even though mental health awareness has improved in recent years, there is still significant progress to be made. I hope that the accounts below provide comfort to those of you suffering with a mental health issue and if you do not have a mental health issue yourself, I hope this post sheds some light on what it can really be like for someone suffering.

** Please note that everyone featured has given permission for their Twitter username to feature in this post. If 'Anonymous' appears, this individual requested for their personal identity to be hidden.**

What have people said about your mental health that is negative or inaccurate? Have they acted a certain way that is unhelpful?

"One of my tutors constantly belittles me. One of my triggers is travelling through Manchester City Center to get to campus and she thinks me studying at home 'won't help myself' yet whenever I do I feel 100% better. I also have a hard time remembering things (side effect) and she constantly picks at me for getting the smallest thing wrong and makes me feel stupid for it. Another tutor dismissed my fear of travelling to London for a trip after the terror attack level was raised by saying "I'm 99% sure it won't happen" yet he knows I was in the attack and how it has affected me. They also never check if I'm okay after talking about terrorism or if the Manchester attack gets brought up in class. -" @tearsleftocry (Twitter)

"I've once been told that my anxieties and overthinking are just in my head and when I told my teacher I was stressed about my exams, they said it was only normal and that it'll all be fine regardless and they never asked me again. I felt as if it was inconvenient for them to be dealing with me?" - Anonymous

"When I tell someone that I take lithium they are usually taken aback because it has a bad reputation, when in reality it is an amazing drug that has worked wonders for me, it just needs to be monitored. You can't really have a negative opinion on something when you aren't fully educated about it. Also when people use bipolar/depressed/manic/anxious as adjectives when they clearly aren't any of those things. It can be triggering for people who do suffer with those illnesses." - @strawbs267 (Twitter)

"Luckily I haven't had a lot of very negative experiences with people, in regards to my struggle with mental health. The people I have chosen to confide in have often been most helpful and supportive. However, I do feel that within my specific culture, mental health is considered to be this 'non-existent' concept. Many friends of the same culture have often laughed when I shared my experience with them & told me to 'grow a pair and move on'. People often don't take it seriously and consider it to be a myth that can just be shaken off or brushed away. I think it would be wonderful to reduce this particular sense of ignorance, perhaps from lack of knowledge on the illness. Educating in a way that reaches more cultures and societies that are perhaps not as exposed or aware of the cause and effects of mental health. Therefore, I really do feel that technology & social media hold a significant power towards this. In a generation now where a lot of the world have access to some form of social site, it can be actively used in a positive way as a platform to share & gain realisation in subjects such as mental health, that have been considered a taboo for much too long." - Anonymous

"I mainly get negative comments about my health anxiety and social anxiety. A lot of people think health anxiety or 'hypochondriasis' as it's known, are people who are simply wasting doctors time, being dramatic etc. This is the one mental health issues that I have that I try to avoid talking about because all I get back from people is "that's drama" or "you do realise you're wasting doctors time" or "stop making things up". It's extremely difficult to hear people say those words to me, especially when they call me a drama queen as I'm not dramatic, it's my mental health that's creating it. I'd rather not have it and it just dampens my mood further and makes me reluctant to go out of my home fearful that if I have to deal with an attack or if someone mentions it they will think I'm just drama and get a wrong impression of me and I'm also extremely afraid of people's opinions or making myself look like a fool too which rolls into my social anxiety and prolongs all of my anxious feelings." -@tylerlhiggy (Twitter)

"They said it was easy to control my own mind and how it thinks if I just tried hard enough. They didn't even consider emphasizing and imagining what I'm going through, it isn't just controlling my mind - it's my mind taking over no matter what I want or how I want to feel like. As much as a therapist can help you adjust to everyday life while struggling with your mental illnesses, it doesn't make them go away." - Anonymous

"I think the most common thing that people (friends, family) have said about my mental health issues is that it's not real. That I am simply overdramatizing situations and need to grow up. My parents would say that it's only the stress from Uni, the fear of what might come in the future, not "real health problems". In general, people close to me haven't shown much support except for my doctor and a few professors, who would come up to me after class to show me their supportive means. I learned to hide my anxiety and panic attacks from my parents since they witnessed one panic attack and decided to attack me even more while screaming at me for not being able to respond properly, only making the situation worse. Putting someone, who is suffering from a panic attack or severe anxiety, under pressure to respond, even if it's just a small text message, only makes the anxiety go up and your body automatically shuts down. Instead of pushing you to do something that only triggers your anxiety, let them breathe and do it in their own pace. People don't seem to understand that sometimes we just can't." - Anonymous

What would you like people to know about your actual experience with mental health i.e. symptoms, thoughts, daily/weekly struggles?

"I can't push myself too much with socialising and that isn't me being rude, it's just that I will literally explode if I am around too many people in a short space of time. Sometimes I have to remove myself from situations and get some air - again not being rude. I have to take tablets every evening which can be annoying if I'm out and about and I usually do it in a subtle way to avoid anyone staring. I like to think of my issues as quirks that I just have to deal with and I think it's good for other people to look at them in that way too - to be aware that sometimes a panic attack/a low mood might occur but to know that it will pass eventually and it doesn't define who I am." - @strawbs267 (Twitter)

"That it's not easy. Some days can be great but others can be literal hell, just because I seem happy one week doesn't mean I have 'got better'. I'm not putting anything on or exaggerating my symptoms, if it's more visible it's a cry for help NOT attention. My daily/weekly struggles are very different to the mental health you would have normally dealt with, so the smallest of things can trigger me or push me over the edge." - @tearsleftocry (Twitter)

"I want people to know that we cannot control our mental health. For me, I think I've been anxious my whole life even as a baby but I've only ever noticed the actual anxiety when I graduated from high school. My thoughts would start running and never stop, my heart beat would randomly increase and a lump form in my throat as if somebody was choking me. I'd get all shaky and everything around me would be too much to handle. Usually I'd have trouble with my stomach as well which would only increase the anxiety, start trouble with eating patterns and affect my mood in the long run. It's been three years since those symptoms first started showing up and it would be easy to say that every day is a struggle, but it's not to be honest. Some days are fine, some days are not fine at all. Every day is different. Nevertheless, I learned to deal with it better than I did in the last years. A huge part of the anxiety which leads to panic attacks and even depression is the feeling of not being able to have control over your own life. You're living a life that you think, is not your own because it is dominated by the constant struggles that make it hard for you to even obtain a normal social life. Your own family doesn't understand or doesn't want to understand, friends leave because they're sick of waiting and most doctor's I've been to just don't know what to tell you. You're pretty much alone with your struggles most of the time because society still doesn't see mental health issues as real issues. Just because someone looks happy and seems to be living the perfect life, it doesn't mean that they're not struggling with their mental health. Just because I can go to uni and to work, doesn't mean that I haven't just been crying my eyes out for three hours straight and barely slept the night before because of all the panic attacks and depressing thoughts that have been running through my mind. We're humans and we're masters in hiding what's really going on inside of us. If I don't want somebody to know what's going on inside of me in that very moment because I know that that person would not understand my mental health issues, I'm a pro at hiding them. And I'm sure most of us are, because we have to. Otherwise, we wouldn't be accepted in society. Everybody has different struggles even though they might suffer from the same mental health issues. For me, I can't go to the movies without freaking out because of all the people in the theatre, the darkness and the constant feeling of fear. I don't know what I am afraid of, it is just there. Calling people on the phone is practically unbearable. Driving a car? I'd start sweating and panting, shaking like crazy, not being able to calm down my thoughts. Already the thought of being behind a car again, makes me start to get anxious. I never had an accident, a bad experience in a theatre or on the phone, yet my body reacts like that. It's the little things that make it hard for us to go through a normal day because it's not something we chose, but something that simply happens." - Anonymous

"It's very easy to just throw everyone going through something under an umbrella & assume they're all identical in their struggles. This is simply not true, my experience with depression will be entirely different to that of another person. Sure, there are some common factors and symptoms that allow for a basis to relate on & help one another to overcome. But we do not ask to be thrown into a mental struggle and we don't want to have to live with it on a daily basis. But it happens & sometimes you just have to let it be, take it a day at a time and work to overcome it. So many of my days, for the past 2 years, have been spent in tears and self hatred. Days I can't take back, but you can't dwell on things that aren't tangible. Therefore, we can only look forward in a hopeful & positive light. It's what keeps us going & allows us to overcome everything that hinders us from being ourselves. Through my own experience & the witnessing of others, I know for sure how real the pain of mental health is. But I also know that every single person going through something can overcome & triumph and that's what makes human beings so special. We just have to be kinder to ourselves and left life run its course, everything will turn out in the end." - Anonymous

"I've been diagnosed with Bipolar type 2 disorder, generalised anxiety, social anxiety, health anxiety, psychotic disorder and OCD. I've been diagnosed with bipolar, psychotic disorder and generalised and social anxiety for 8 years and only recently diagnosed with health anxiety and OCD in the last year. I think many people these days do deal with some sort of mental health issue, but each individual is different and how they try to deal with it. When I was first diagnosed I was terrified of even saying I was diagnosed with an actual mental health disorder because of the stigma that was attached to it. In high school I always suffered from panic attacks and people started to catch on to what was happening to me (even before I knew what was happening to myself) and they severely bullied me and made rumours about how I tried to jump off of a train track when I went shopping one day etc. and it just got that bad that we had to take me out of school and for me to lose a ton of friends AND to be diagnosed with a mental health condition only worsened my loneliness and so for many years I'd just stay in and hibernate and if I ever went anywhere it was with my mam but even sometimes my anxiety (generalised and social) would even stop me doing that and so I felt trapped. It's only as I've gotten older and having to live with it day in and day out that I learn and find ways to cope with it. As I said some days are a massive struggle where I just stay in bed all day and cry and sleep and cry and sleep. I constantly have racing thoughts which can very quickly change to extremely depressive state. I’m always 100mph in my brain and it’s constantly overthinking everything. My mam has to keep my bank account card because my bipolar can make me want to spend impulsively (recently I got myself in so much debt so she has to have it now). She also has to hide any tablets or medications because my moods can change very fast to where I want to kill myself by OD (something I’ve tried to do 3 times in the past and ended up in hospital and then sectioned on the 3rd time) Sometimes it can change fast or sometimes it can last days, months or years. My anxiety is always constantly there whether it’s social , general or health I never get a break from anxiety it’s literally my worst enemy I feel dizzy all the time, constant migraines, feeling of detachment and derealization and if I’m not worrying about socialising then I’m worry about when I’m going to die, how I’m going to die (this is all down to my health anxiety) however I do find listening to positive upbeat music helps and also I try to workout even though some days I may not be able to because my mind and body are just that exhausted and I also find that reading a CBT self help book helps me! It’s always going to be there but It’s all about finding a way that works for you and keep staying strong." - @tylerlhiggy (Twitter)

"Over analysing situations definitely, comparing myself to others, believing myself to be very negative around people meaning I have to cut myself off because of it, lack of eating and sleeping, not being able to recognise myself and zoning out of situations and not knowing what is reality and what I've made up in my head." - Anonymous

What response would you find helpful from others when you're struggling? What should they know?

"I think the response I'd like to get from people is just their time to listen and to realise how people with mental health issues aren't just being drama queens or being selfish or feeling sorry for themselves. I think it's important for people who have mental health issues to not feel alone or feel afraid to speak to someone. Maybe a simple positive quote on someone's tweet or insta could help or knowing you're there to talk." - @tylerlhiggy (Twitter)

"I'm currently talking to my college counsellor and she is actually really helpful, I just wish she could offer me a bit more advice and solutions if she could. Recommendations of books or films of some kind which I could relate to would be good I think, also more in-depth lessons in colleges and schools and to not believe that being stressed is just 'normal'. - Anonymous

"It's always nice to know that someone else understands you and what you might be going through. It's common to be misjudged & I think we are all guilty of doing it at some point in our lives. But it's a mistake to learn from and to better the way we treat one another as a society. We all have more in common than we like to admit & it would be so much better if everyone were to see the common ground we do have. It would diminish any misconceptions and allow us all to be in a more open and inclusive state. We are often afraid to share parts of ourselves with others because it makes us vulnerable. But from recently being more honest about myself, I have found that vulnerability isn't a bad thing at all, it doesn't make us weaker in any way. If anything, it makes us strong, building courage and nobility with ourselves and the ones we care about most. It's a 'weight off of your shoulders' the moment you voice your struggles with mental health out loud. A problem shared is a problem halved, not in sense of burdening another with your pain. But instead creating a network of support & ease for them in turn to confide in you about themselves, their trials may be more similar to yours than you think. We all have a struggle & we're all in the same world together, so it's never too late to start being honest about it." - Anonymous

"Just ‘I’m sorry you’re feeling this way, let me know if there’s anything I can do’ is appreciated. Also encouragement that it will pass - even if I don’t think it will - because it always does!" - @strawbs267 (Twitter)

"Honestly, just acceptance would already be enough. If I knew that I could go to my parents or my friends or someone I love without being judged, that would be a huge success. Knowing that even if I have a bad day, I will not get kicked out of University for missing a school day or lose my job for being late would be a great relief too but that's never going to happen. This world simply needs to show each other more love, support and acceptance in order for everyone to live a happy life." - Anonymous

"Just be there physically. I don't need you asking me if I'm fine every 2 seconds of if I want any water. It helps to just stay quiet but to show you're present and you're there if anything (even) worse happens. It helps if you put one hand on my shoulder or just basically make sure I'm aware that you're around. It helps to calm someone in a non-verbal way. Talking just makes me, personally, cry even more." - Anonymous

"Do your research. Understand how difficult it is for people having to deal with these battles everyday. Allow me to feel how I do without feeling bad for it or feeling like a failure; I can't control how I feel so I shouldn't have to put myself down for something I can't control. Understand that it's not something that goes away after a few months, it can take years to go away if not stay with you forever. And lastly: I'm not being lazy, take a second to picture yourself in my situation and mind, then understand how a normal day to you is a battle for me." - @tearsleftocry (Twitter)

Useful Support Contacts if yourself or anyone you know is currently struggling with mental health (UK based):

MIND (Charity) Have a Whole List of Mental Health Helplines (CLICK HERE)

Some of which are listed here:

Anxiety UK | 03444 775 774 (Infoline, available Mon-Fri, 9:30am-5:30pm) | 07537 416 905 (Text Service)  (Help support individuals with a range of anxiety issues i.e. OCD, Panic Attacks/Panic Disorder, Health Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)/Social Phobia, Stress and more)

Beat (Beat Eating Disorders) | 0808 801 0677 (Helpline, open daily 3pm-10pm) | 0808 801 0711 (Youthline, open daily 3pm-10pm) | 0808 801 0811 (Studentline)

Bipolar UK | 020 7931 6480 (Bipolar UK are a charity that specifically provide support and information to individuals struggling with Bipolar disorder as well as their friends and family.)

 | The Campaign Against Living Miserably 
(Aimed at men between the ages of 17 and 35)

Samaritans | 116 123 (freephone) | jo@samaritans.org (A safe place for individuals to talk about any issue - note: you do not have to be suicidal to call or contact the Samaritans)

Papyrus HOPEline | 0800 068 4141 (Information and relevant support for individuals under the age of 35 specifically struggling with suicidal feelings and self-injury)

Take care of yourselves, 
Emma x

(P.S. You'll get through this, better days are on their way!)

We have all failed at something at least once in our lives (although I suspect the statistic of failures is much higher than just once in a lifetime!). It is so frustrating when we have worked tremendously hard to achieve a good grade or intensely prepared for that university interview for weeks or sometimes even months in advance, only to fail the exam or be rejected. However, failure is inevitable. At some point in your academic (and personal or work-related) life you are not going to achieve exactly what you want or to put it simply - fail miserably. 

I just recently missed out on being awarded a studentship by my internal school department, which I honestly found devastating. I thought that was the end of my academic endeavours and that I was never going to pursue a PhD. I felt like a failure, like I wasn't good enough to do a PhD, a stupid person... the list went on and on. What frustrated me the most was knowing I could do the PhD if I could fund it myself, but knowing I could only practically carry on at uni if I'm awarded a studentship. 

However, here was me thinking my department didn't believe I was good enough to be awarded a studentship, yet they have now put me forward for an external studentship that will offer me further opportunities and even a generous stipend in my future academic career if I am successful with my application! Sometimes things don't work out for a reason or they happen to teach us something. I'm now applying for a studentship that may be better for me and offer me more opportunities if I am granted it. Perhaps there is also something we could be doing differently? Or sometimes we simply need to fail or be rejected to realise that our whole world is not going to fall apart. We can and will move on with our lives. 

Literally just this evening I was inspired to write this blog post (so please do excuse any typos or sentences that don't quite make sense - I am exhausted!), and I have come up with a few suggestions regarding how to deal with academic failure. Some of these could apply to other types of failure too. I hope I can offer some comfort and advice for any of you needing it right now. 

1. Acceptance is key. Do not try to brush it off or act like you don't care if that interview or exam really was of personal importance. Listen to what your mind and body are telling you and allow yourself to feel whatever that emotion is: sadness, anger, frustration or hopelessness etc. It's extremely natural to feel disheartened and upset (sometimes even distraught) when something doesn't work out, especially if that something means a lot to you. So, accept the failure. There isn't anything you can do about the past now. That university interview or that major exam has been and gone. Focus on the present.

2. Stop letting your mind run wild and keep replaying the failure over and over. Our minds can be very vicious in tormenting us to pick apart a situation. These memories and thoughts are often very negatively biased and should not be trusted under any circumstances. 'If only I hadn't said that, they must think I'm a right idiot', 'I am so stupid, I can't believe I got that answer wrong', 'I'm just not good enough', 'Everyone else did so well, that must mean something is wrong with me'. Please don't listen to your mind, it is a very biased source of information. Imagine what you would say to a friend in your situation. I can guarantee you that you are going to be a lot more sensitive and positive about the circumstances versus how you've been treating yourself. Try to stay positive and don't let the extremely critical voice take over.

3. Seek help and advice from a friend, a family member or a teacher. They are more likely to be objective about the situation and supply you with the support you may need to move forward. It is difficult dealing with failure in isolation. Of course, do spend some time alone if you need to, but don't forget there are people out there who really do care and are willing to offer suggestions and support for the future. What is that saying? A problem shared is a problem halved

4. Focus on the future. This is probably the most important point amongst the others I have shared. When we fail, we really do learn something. This happens in the brain at a neurological level all the time in the form of 'errors'. Our brains constantly update information regarding our environment and surroundings based on when things do not go according to plan e.g. when we expect something to be the case, we learn nothing new, however when something went a lot worse (or better) than we had anticipated, we learn something novel and can update our internal systems for the next time we encounter such a situation. Treat this failure as an error. Identify what it is that went wrong. Did you leave studying until the very last minute? Was the study technique you were using not a good fit? For assignments especially, use the constructive feedback you are given to improve your grade on a similar piece of work next time. The only way I have managed over the years to progressively achieve higher grades is to learn from my mistakes and work on my weaknesses and failures. Trust me it really does work to set new plans moving forward and to not give up. I progressed from getting 43% (just a pass grade) in a statistics exam in my first year of undergraduate Psychology to now getting 91% in a statistics exam at Masters level! Learn from the past and work on turning those mistakes into positive achievements moving forward. 

5. Have some self belief and never give up. Do not be ashamed to retake an exam or to re-apply for a place at the university and course you really want to pursue. Just because you didn't get it the first or second time, doesn't mean you won't be successful on the third or fourth or even fifth try! If you give up, aren't you just failing even more by not pursuing something you love and feel passionate about? That exam might be tricky, but you can and will pass it. That academic interview was extremely daunting the first time, but perhaps next time you'll feel more confident about the situation and be more prepared for that intense environment. Keep going. Believe in yourself. You can make this happen. 

I hope this was somewhat helpful for anyone that needed this advice right now. I know I barely ever post on here anymore, but I would really like to get back into blogging when I have a spare moment. Please do leave any suggestions for future posts in the comments, or tweet me (@veramyfarmiga)/contact me on my instagram (emviolxt). I look forward to hearing from you. 

Take care,
Emma x

I'm currently sat at my new desk, in my new room, in new Halls, anxiously ready to start my Masters degree in Cognitive Neuroscience next week. If anyone had told me 3 years ago that I'd graduate top of the year with a 1st class degree in BSc Psychology and go on to pursue a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience I'd seriously struggle to believe them. I'm amazed that despite everything, I'm sat where I am today. 

"But how can you do a Masters so soon after graduating? You're mad!" 
"Aren't you afraid you're going to burn out?" 
"Is this just another excuse to escape 'real work' for another year?" 

I've honestly heard everything by this point. Some people have been really understanding and supportive, others on the other hand, not so much. However, I'm not staying in further study for anyone but myself. If you want to study and stay in education and you're fortunate enough to be accepted and/or can afford to do so, then please don't let people's opinions prevent you from taking the next step. It's really hard, but I like to think I am getting more proficient at ignoring other individual's views and focusing on what I feel is the right path for me. It is your life after all.

So I decided to stay on at my university to study an MSc for a number of reasons, some of which I'll briefly touch on in this post. 

The first is that I enjoy learning and expanding my knowledge, especially in an area that I am extremely passionate about. I love the idea of becoming an expert in a field and being able to share your knowledge with others. I also love the academic environment and studying. I do tend to over work sometimes and stress myself out over a piece of coursework or revision for exams, but in the end I all know it will all be worth it. I read something the other day that said something along the lines of 'working towards something you don't like is called stress, but working towards something you love is called passion'. Nothing beats the satisfaction of achieving amazing grades and graduating, honestly. I also get to drink excessive amounts of coffee and take plenty of naps which would be much harder to do if I had a full time 9-5 job. There's plenty of time to work with retirement ages on the increase after all! Oh and I can't forget the countless opportunities to buy and use new stationary and make pretty revision notes :)

Another motivator for returning, especially to the same uni, is the lovely Psychology department, which is filled with the most supportive, inspiring and lovely people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. Some of the people that have lectured me and who I have spoken to/submitted work to are leading researchers and experts in their field which I honestly find so cool. I genuinely fangirl a little every time I discover that lecturers in the department have ran an influential experiment or contributed towards a chapter in a popular textbook.  More specifically, my personal tutor is the main reason why I finished my undergraduate degree and did so well. She continues to believe in me when I don't believe in myself and she always offers positive encouragement. I am so happy to have her support for another year (and we're already discussing the possibility of myself pursuing a PhD so watch this space!).  

Moreover, with the increasingly large population of students graduating university each year, especially in a degree programme such as Psychology, it is becoming extremely difficult to actually get a job related to your study. I know that I do not want to go into retail or sales or a job that I am not going to reap any satisfaction from and that miserable prospect genuinely motivates me to keep going. I want to be able to utilise my degree and work upon it instead of leaving it at uni and never touching it again.Yes, it will still be tough even after doing an MSc to get a job, but at least it is something that differentiates me from many other Psychology graduates. 

Related to this, I am gradually warming to the idea of staying in academia, even beyond a PhD, to become a research assistant or potentially a lecturer. The idea scares the hell out of me and is going to be a very hard goal to reach, but I'm also not going to sit back and not give it a go. Not trying is much worse than giving something a go and finding out it isn't right for you. Hey, you never know, I might be lecturing to a large group of students one day (terrifying!) and if I do ever get there and I do enjoy it, then I know I've made the right decision. I like to help people and I think educating individuals and teaching them new things is kind of special? (Now I probably sound really crazy and lame, sorry). I find a lot of my lecturers inspiring, so it would be amazing to have the same impact on a student like myself one day.

So, this is it. Two years worth of work in one year. I'm not going to lie, I have been experiencing a lot of self-doubt about my decision to stay on and I'm very anxious that my mental health is going to interfere a lot with my studying again this year. It's all pretty overwhelming right now and I'm hoping I'll settle a little once I've started classes. However, I just keep reminding myself that I got through a whole 3 years of undergraduate study and achieved so so much more than I could ever dream of. We have to challenge ourselves and do the things that scare the hell out of us. It's called living. Don't live your life in default mode. 

I'll probably write another few uni related posts or even film a few YouTube videos if people would find that useful (I've been uploading quite a lot on my channel lately btw). Just let me know what you'd like to see and whether you'd be interested in that. I think I'll also end up writing a follow up post to this one in September next year when I've hopefully completed my Masters degree. 

Take care, Emma x

(Twitter - @veramyfarmiga ; Instagram - @emviolxt ; YouTube - Emma Violet)

Zoeva Rose Golden Vol. 1 Complete Brush Set | £110 
This collection contains 15 gorgeous brushes: 
103 Defined Buffer Brush 
106 Powder Brush 
109 Luxe Face Paint Brush 
112 Face Curve Brush 
127 Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush 
129 Luxe Fan Brush 
142 Concealer Buffer Brush 
226 Smudger Brush 
227 Luxe Soft Definer Brush 
228 Luxe Crease Brush 
230 Luxe Pencil Brush 
234 Luxe Smoky Shader Brush 
310 Spot Liner Brush 
317 Wing Liner Brush 
322 Brow Line Brush
& a beautiful brown/rose gold Zoeva makeup bag   

I'd been looking at purchasing these brushes for a few years, but could never justify investing just over £100 on a set of makeup brushes. However, after the stress of final year university exams, I simply needed to reward myself with something after working incredibly hard all year (I don't even feel guilty anymore because I've ended up graduating with a 1st class degree and achieved the second highest grade in the year!). I decided enough was enough and it was time that I actually owned the Zoeva brushes I had been pining after for a very long time. 

Being honest, I was a little worried that they wouldn't meet up to the high expectations I had pre-assigned them, and although I do have a minor issue to comment on, overall I am incredibly happy these particular brushes sit in my Ikea pots alongside my other brushes! 

First of all, they are rose gold which is just my aesthetic anyway. More importantly however, is the variation of brushes you receive when you buy this collection. You get 7 face brushes (103, 106, 109, 112, 127, 129, 142) and 8 eye brushes (226, 227, 228, 230, 234, 310, 317, 322). Basically there is a brush for your every need! The brushes have such soft bristles which is perfect for any of you who have sensitive skin like myself. I really despise brushes that feel scratchy on your face or eyes, but from the brushes I have used in this collection so far, I have not had that experience at all. I haven't used many of the face brushes yet as I tend to apply my foundation and concealer with my beauty blender, but the luxe face paint brush (aka contour brush) and powder brush applied my makeup really precisely and didn't pack too much product on either. Although I haven't used the luxe fan brush yet, I can predict that this brush will apply highlighter like a dream.

On the other hand, I have delved into the eye brushes quite extensively and I absolutely adore the soft definer, luxe crease and luxe pencil brush! They make blending eyeshadows and creating smoky eyes so much easier for me and now that I have used them, I wouldn't be without them. I also love the wing liner brush for applying powder to my brows as well as a dark shade to my upper lash line to add definition to my lashes. Overall, I have generally been loving these brushes and would go as far as saying that some of them in this collection are my favourite makeup brushes of all time. 

Nonetheless, I do have one gripe with these brushes. They shed kinda too quickly, especially for the amount of money you invest in them. Obviously you can expect all brushes to shed over time and perhaps lose their shape, especially after washing them several times. However, my Zoeva brushes seem to be much worse at shedding in comparison to others in my collection i.e. I haven't ever had this issue with any of the Real Technique brushes I own and these are also soft/good quality. Admittedly, it appears to be the face brushes that shed more than the eye brushes, but I was very disheartened to see hairs beginning to separate themselves and be close to falling out of the brush heads after one wash. It could have been the way I handled them when I washed them, but like I mentioned before, I've had some of my RT brushes for years, washed them the exact same way and never had this issue. It makes me quite worried to use some of them because I feel like the bristles are too delicate and easily 'sheddable', which is not ideal when their sole purpose is to apply makeup! I know I am not alone in saying this, as others who own and use these brushes have complained about shedding, especially with the face brushes. That being said, I do believe the benefits outweigh this small disadvantage.  

I'll continue to use them carefully and hope that they do last as long as I'd like them to, especially as they apply my makeup incredibly well. Shedding and high price aside, these brushes are a welcome edition to my brush collection and I am so happy that I bit the bullet and invested my money in them. If any of you have Zoeva brushes, what is your opinion on them? Do your brushes shed more than you'd expect? Alternatively, if you don't own any Zoeva brushes, I'd love to know which brush or collection is on your wish list?

Take care, Emma x   

These last few months have been horrendous. 
I don't want to go into much detail about some of the things I have been experiencing lately. Mainly because everything is a bit of a mess in my head and I'm also not the best at talking about my health. So, writing this blog post is a very new and difficult thing for me. I decided to bite the bullet and write it anyway. If you are reading this, then I must have somehow found the courage to click 'publish'? I sort of have two main reasons for wanting to write this blog post. Firstly, I wanted to talk about this shitty time partly as a way of getting things off my chest, because things have been really hard. Second, I hope that sharing my recent experiences with others who may read this post can find comfort in knowing they are not the only ones who struggle.

So what has been going on? Well, in a nut shell - I feel like utter crap. There were multiple signs that my mental health was deteriorating quite rapidly a few months ago. I didn't think too much about it at the time, as I didn't want to make things worse by focusing on the negativity. But then exams reared their ugly head. Now, for people that do not have mental health issues, exams are still considered to be a major stressor and often provoke short term feelings of anxiety. If exams negatively affect people with relatively 'stable' to 'normal' mental health, you can imagine the detrimental impact exams can have on someone who already experiences, generalised anxiety, panic attacks, mild PTSD and crippling depression on a daily basis. It must be nice to feel 'back to normal' when exams are done, no more stress or panic or that horrible feeling constantly gnawing at the pit of your stomach. For me personally, all of those horrible symptoms stay, they are potentially just slightly less extreme?

I wanted to share some of the symptoms I've experienced this year as a consequence of added exam pressure (final year university exams to be exact). Exams have always made me quite ill, but I have never experienced the overwhelming pressure this badly before. Let me make this clear: I don't want sympathy for what I am about to say, I just genuinely would like to know if anyone else has experienced this and if they have any tips on how to manage mental health better around exams so that your health doesn't get into the state mine was in (and currently still is).

I couldn't sleep or eat properly. That wasn't so bad, as I deal with that quite frequently anyway, it was just slightly worse than normal. I would often have to pace around my room to get rid of the excess adrenaline - again, not so bad, something I do often, but not ideal when your thoughts are racing at 101 miles an hour in your head, making you feel like you are losing control of everything. My stomach was horrendous, I couldn't lie down because the stomach acids would burn the lining of my tummy and also travel up to the back of my throat, which didn't help with sleep and was embarrassing in exams when it would make the loudest, most gross noises imaginable. I also had on and off fever for 2 whole weeks, at least 4 times a day, and these spells would last for 20 minutes at a time. These moments were so bad I had to lie down because the room would start spinning and I'd feel like I was going to pass out. There was one exam my tutor had to drive me home from because I was too weak to walk properly. With this next symptom, I'm going to be very literal and kinda gross here, but this is the 'non-romanticised' and ugly truth of what some of us with anxiety go through, which gets even worse when there is a large stressor i.e. exams. I had to be near a toilet at all times because I was literally shitting myself. Anything I ate wouldn't stay in my stomach for very long at all, perhaps 15 minutes max? I had no control over my bowels at all, which if you've never experienced it, is completely disgusting and mortifying. If I wasn't in the bathroom because of that, it was also due to the many waves of nausea I experienced throughout the day. There was a lot more that I was also dealing with, however I think you get the gist. I was very poorly. I didn't want to share these things for sympathy or attention - so please don't feel the need to accuse me of doing so. It's just been an extremely difficult time for me and this is my outlet. If any of you have experienced similar 'side effects' of exams mixed with mental health, I'd like to know your experience and if you've found anything that makes things even the slightest bit easier to cope with during this very overwhelming time. It would be helpful to know some of these things for when I pursue my Masters degree next year.

Doom and gloom aside, what I have learned from this experience, is despite how unwell I have been and how unbearable these past few months have been - I've somehow managed to get through it. I have no helpful 'advice' or 'tips' on how to cope with having significant mental health issues alongside important exams, purely because I just don't know how I managed to get through these 6 final year uni exams. It seemed impossible to keep going at times and I felt throughly despondent and apathetic. However, having persisted, I am quite proud of myself (well, I'm at least trying to be). I just kept making those small tiny steps towards the end goal: finishing my undergraduate degree. I think having a subject I'm extremely passionate about and truly care for helped immensely, as well as the support and encouragement from a few significant others around me.

All I can say is, whatever you are going through at the moment, please do not give up. Take those small tiny steps each day and they will get you to where you wish to be. There will be setbacks and obstacles in your way, which don't make the little step journey as straightforward and easy as you'd like. Nonetheless, you are flexible and can adapt that journey. You can take small steps around, over or under those obstacles that will still lead you to that end goal. How do I know that works? Because that's what I've done and will continue to keep doing. Like I said, if any of you have any tips or would like to talk to me about exams and mental health, then you can either leave a comment on this post or tweet me @veramyfarmiga on Twitter!

Good luck to any of you who still have exams, you can do it. But do please remember that your health comes before anything else.
Take care,
Emma x


Issues | Julia Michaels

Waves | Dean Lewis

It Ain't Me | Kygo (Selena Gomez)

I Would Like | Zara Larsson

Follow You | Bring Me The Horizon

The Wire | HAIM

Starving (Acoustic) | Hailee Steinfeld

Lights Down Low | MAX

Be The One (Dillistone Remix) | Dua Lipa

Spring | Moose Blood

What are your favourite songs at the moment?
Take care, Emma x

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well. 
Today's post is a Q&A collaboration with Katie ('blossomandaisyy'). We both asked our followers on Instagram to ask us questions that we could answer in a blog post. Katie has a really beautiful and aesthetic blog that is beauty, fashion and lifestyle related. Her posts are genuinely so lovely and easy to follow and I particularly love the lifestyle theme of her posts she has uploaded so far this year. Both Katie and her blog honestly deserve a lot more recognition, so please make sure you pop over and visit by clicking 'here'. There will also be a blog post for you to read with her answers to the same questions listed below. 

Note: The brackets contain the Instagram username of the person who asked each question. Thank you so much if you did comment on either mine or Katie's post!

Q: How has your 2017 started? ('gracexkate')
A: Challenging and frightening, but also headed in the right, positive direction. 

Q: What inspired you to create a blog? ('xxbandobsessedxx')
A: I wanted a creative space on the Internet that would allow me to express who I am and connect with people that have similar interests. Also seeing how other bloggers had designed their blogs, the high quality pictures they took and the amazing posts they created was really inspiring to me, and I just knew I wanted to do that. As much as I love YouTube and filming videos, having a blog holds a special place in my heart because I think I'll always be far superior at writing in comparison to verbally expressing myself. 

Q: Favourite beauty brand? ('theaveragegurlx') 
A: Ohhhh this is tough... maybe either NYX or Urban Decay.

Q: When did you start wearing makeup? ('floralbeautyguru')
A: I think I started wearing makeup when I was 13/14, but didn't start doing it properly (as in a full face of makeup) until I was 17.

Q: Best childhood memory? ('helenarenzulli') 
A: When I used to go over to my grandparents house practically all of the time and play games with them. I treasure these memories now that my gran is no longer here (technically more than one memory, but these are the best I have ~ I also have a pretty crap memory). 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? ('floralbeautyguru')
A: Hopefully in a full-time job that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning! I also hope that I will have passed my driving test and feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car. 

Q: Future job you hope to achieve? ('blondeblogger18')
A: Either something Psychology related or becoming a writer. 

Q: What are your 3 hopes for your life? ('bundleofsurprises')
A: To be successful, to be loved/respected and to manage my health issues more positively.

Q: What is your biggest achievement? ('myblurredworld') 
A: I'd like to say getting half a million reads on my story 'Signed Anonymous', although coming top of the year with the highest grade for Psychology at A Level comes a very close second!

My question for anyone reading this post is 'Where is your safe place?' ~ you can either leave it in the comments below or tweet me @veramyfarmiga !! 
Best wishes, Emma x
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