Tag Archives: thoughts

Sightloss stress and depression

Did you know that 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness?
Were you aware that there is a positive correlation between sight loss and depression?
I’ve been diagnosed as clinically depressed since 2015
Through the support of my partner Gary and my GP, I sat and talked candidly about my erratic mood swings, lack of energy, motivation and my constant exhaustion.
We talked at length about my symptoms and the options available to me.
I opted to go on antidepressants as I have previously had counseling.

Antidepressants aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. However for me they have been invaluable; they have improved all the symptoms I mentioned above, and most importantly for me it’s helped me focus on the bigger picture.

My deterioration in vision since the age of 14 has been a source of vexation and frustration for me.
I hated relinquishing control, having to ask friends and family for help, needing things like worksheets adapted and continuous hospital appointments.

I just wanted to be normal.

But I wasn’t.

I walked into people and inanimate objects, I would knock things over, not be able to read anything without a magnifying glass and so many other things.

I’ve always been a perfectionist so asking for help or embarrassing myself publicly always sent me into a spiral of stress.

Over the years this stress manifested into rage and because of this I pushed people away, or, pushed them to their breaking point.

At the time I genuinely believed my outbursts were justified and acceptable. I believed I had to fight: fight for support, fight to be heard and fight to prove myself.

There was always a reason, an excuse, a situation. I couldn’t see that my behavior, thought processes and even actions were out of control.

It wasn’t until I was at University studying psychology and having a truly fantastic network of friends around me that i recognised all of my grievances and anger were due to me losing my sight.
I still had my moments but they were few and far between..I would get riled up by the little things; dropping something on the floor and spending 5 minutes looking for it, tripping up kerbs or spilling my drink. everywhere.

I learned to laugh it off. Reminding myself that in the grand scheme of things they really weren’t such a big deal.

Yet as my sight deteriorated further and these menial things seemed to happen more frequently I realised I needed some support.

And that’s when I rang the RNIB counseling support line, and registered myself on the waiting list.

I wanted to talk through my problems, how to acknowledge my frustrations but not let it control me.
I wanted to know how I would manage with my impending sight loss and what techniques I could use to make my life and mental state healthier.

The waiting list was so long that by the time my first counseling session happened, I had already lost my remaining vision.

My counselor was fantastic,although I had lost my sight, and the worst had happened to me, she listened, emmpathised and talked through my anxieties and frustrations with me.

The counseling was invaluable to me and it wasn’t until the beginning of 2015 Depression decided to rear it’s ugly head again.
It took me a long time to acknowledge that I was changing and becoming angry all over again. It was always the small things: walking into doorways, pouring the kettle and missing my cup, dirty dishes and not noticing I wasn’t holding my cup straight so hot tea spilled over me and my interiors.

All those little things added up to one big thing: dealing with my sight loss.
This is why I started antidepressants,I was chemically imbalanced, so why not try chemicals to restore my balance?

I still have my down days, and that’s ok. It’s about acknowledging my stress levels and doing something about it.

Here are some ways I cope with stress:

  • Try your best to realise when you are in the midst of an angry outburst or thoughts.
  • Allow emotions to be present. Cry, scream, shout, But not at anyone. Be present in acknowledging the feelings, but don’t let them take over.
  • Don’t use expletives or negativity when expressing these thoughts.
  • Breathe deeply, and think only of what your breathing is doing.
  • Read up on mindfulness, and try putting it into practice.
  • Listen to music. Blast out one of your happy songs,
  • Distract yourself by making yourself focus on something small.
  • Exercise, it releases endorphins.
  • Text/ call someone. you care about.
  • Find a task that needs a lot of focus and thoughtfulness. Maybe like writing a blog post? 🙂
  • Watch something funny.
  • Make some tea, and enjoy the 10 minutes to sit and drink it.
  • Think of something positive. What are you proud of?
  • What are your passions? Find them and emerge yourself within them.
  • Smile! Yes, forcing yourself to actively smile, actually lifts your mood.

Constant stress can lead to depression so make sure self care is at the top of your priority list.
Depression is an illness, a brutal thought process that truly can take over your body and mind. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Establish your stressors and find a way to combat them.Only you know your triggers and only you can save yourself from stress.

Think positive, stay positive! 🙂

Sorry For My Absence

I’m sorry for my absence. I’ve been contemplating writing this for a while now. But i’ve been holding back.
The reason for this is that i’ve begun overcomplicating things in my own mind.

I started this blog to share with you the rollercoaster ride that seems to be my life. I wanted to share everything from the highs to the lows hopefully attempting to show that although having a disability sucks sometimes, there’s a lot in life for us all to be grateful for, and in my case, find the funny side of it all.

As more time went on I realised I didn’t just want to share my story but share other people’s stories too.
I wanted to be a platform for people to learn something new, become more open minded and even to be a resource to for those who may be seeking it.

I have a thirst for knowledge and a passion to educate and support others.I put my energy into creating content that I hoped would be of use to others, and put my own thoughts and stories on the back burner, until I thought they would be of use.
I’m open and honest on this blog and fingers crossed it’s somewhat entertaining…

But i’ve been overcomplicating things… I wanted my blog to be a resource, a platform, a network and a home to share it all.
I started my campaigns in the hopes of creating a community. I wanted to be inclusive of everyone; fromAutism to arthritis or cystic fibrosis to depression, right through to those that care for people with a disability.

My #DisabilityQ&A took off, and I was excited to be sharing peoples’ stories, and i’m extremely grateful for those of you who got involved!

I tried my best to create the same enthusiasm with my other campaigns, as well as trying to encourage those with any #Disability to get on board with no avail.
I was disheartened somewhat but I had a million and one other ideas for blog posts that I thought would be interesting and useful. So I kept going.

Blogging not only became my passion, but it became an obsession. If I wasn’t writing content I was thinking of what material to use and researched it to make sure my facts were correct.
I joined in fabulous linkys, I had a tribe and I spent all my spare time talking to bloggers, reading their awesome blogs and promoting as much as I could.

I was having the best time, I was making new friends around the globe, learning new things and achieving what I hoped with my little corner of the internet.

But then I began to overcomplicate everything.

I was in a tribe that were all on a similar level to each other, constantly supporting one another and giving continuous encouragement and praise.
It was fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and kind bunch of people to be around.

But the further I delved into the blogging world the more I realised how technical things got.
I was knee deep in blog posts or conversations that revolved around stats, branding and monitisation.

I became interested in raising my stats; the prospect of working with brands who could help further my campaigns, give my blog exposure and in turn become the platform I hoped it could be.I thought I could really make a difference; doing reviews, giving talks and getting more people to share their trials and triumphs.

I was eager and excited at the prospect of doing something good: exposing other campaigners and my little blog being recognised for creating a community of support and resources.

So I joined blogging groups, blogging platforms that would connect brands with bloggers and even emailed PR’s and organisations to introduce myself and explained my ambitions for the blog.

And that’s where things became complicated.

I quickly realised that I was too niche for brands, PR’s and even organisations to want to work with me.
Review opportunities came in the form of fashion, kids accessories, beauty or luxury jewellery.
These reviews were not quite what I was looking for, and the odd time I thought I could work with a brand to review things from a disability standpoint I was stopped at the first hurdle.
“5000 followers minimum to apply”

I appreciate each and every follower and reader of my blog.I want people to follow me because they have a genuine interest in my blog and my campaigns.
I’m not a parent blogger, fashion or beauty blogger.
Although I have interest in fashion and beauty i’m not going to pretend I follow the latest trends… I have little to no knowledge of these things to even warrant blogging about them.

I was also getting nowhere with contacting PR’s/ organisations via email. The few times I was lucky to get a response I was congratulated for what I was trying to achieve but ultimately they did not have the time or budget to work with me.

At this point I was surrounded by fabulous bloggers acing it with stats, brand work and even getting paid work! I couldn’t be happier for my friends,but I found it increasingly overwhelming and at points unworthy to be in their company.

I wasn’t achieving what they were.

Even the bloggers I was reaching out to for my campaigns seemed no longer interested in joining them.

I became deflated and even at times frustrated… I was trying to make my blog into a place that was more about the community than it was about me.

Even though I had blog post ideas zooming around my mind and cluttering up my drafts; I started posting less and focused more on promoting the blogs myself and others had already taken the time to write.
After a while I slowed down on the amount of linkys I joined too.
I began to notice that unless I was one of the first people to link up, my posts I pretty much got ignored.
I used to spend hours reading and commenting on blogs and even sharing them over my social media, but the less often I shared or commented I began realising that people clearly weren’t interested in my blog.
It had become a: you scratch my back, i’ll scratch yours mentality…

Aside from the few people that genuinely enjoyed reading my blog, left me meaningful comments or shared my posts my stats dropped faster than an avalanche.

At this point I was done with spreading the blog love. I put 100% effort into my posts, and I wanted nothing more than to educate people who had little to no knowledge of disabilities and be a place for those with disabilities to find support and even new ideas.

By the time I had been in hospital for a week: after breaking my leg I wasn’t even sure if I should blog about it.
I’d become so wrapped up in wanting to be a space to share knowledge, ideas and experiences I thought people wouldn’t be interested in hearing my holiday dramas.

I began my blog to share my story, yet in my mind I feel it’s become something bigger than that.
I guess that it’s because I wonder often, what makes me so special that I should spend day after day talking about myself.
What is it that makes me more interesting than any other blind or disabled person out there?

And the answer is, there isn’t.

I’m just another blind person talking about their disability.

But it’s my space.

If my little corner of the internet can educate one person or give another disabled person a someone to relate to then i’ve done my job.

Stats, brands and opportunities are great, but this is no longer my focus.
Of course if a worthwhile opportunity were to come knocking, I would grab it with both hands.
But most importantly i’m grateful for my lot, and anything else is a bonus.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
– Theodore Roosevelt.

Me, My Operation and I

I had a call Tuesday morning to let me know that my surgery would be the next day, no eating or drinking anything after midnight, I needed to arrive by 07:00 and I would be told where on the list I was for my operation.

Gary and I managed to get lost; we rocked up to the reception desk to ask for directions, unfortunately the lady sent us off in the completely wrong direction and we ended up on the surgical ward… Through the use of a map and correct directions from the nurses we finally found the right building!

We were told that I was the first patient on the surgery list, woohoo! We filled out the last remaining paperwork, and I got dressed into my gown and stockings, I looked very fetching I must say!
I was wheeled into a waiting area and left their for about 5 minutes before the anaesthetist came to get me. Gary came in with me and we met Mr Khan, the surgeon doing my operation.
It was the first time since my accident that i fully knew what had happened: I had a displaced fracture of my Tibia and Fibula; they had crossed over each other, and my Patella had shattered and fragments were floating about in my knee.
Mr Khan would be putting in metal plates, screws, rods and wires along with artificial bone to reconstruct the knee. Without complications this would take around 3 hours.

He explained that this was a very serious fracture and a complex operation; I tried to crack a joke but he just stayed stoney faced, awkward turtle moment right there!
Mr Khan also stressed to me that because of the trauma to my leg I would now have OsteoArthritis in the knee for the rest of my life.
*Lucky me; now i’ll have 2 types of Arthritis! I don’t do things in halves do i?* 😉
The anaesthetist was very chirpy and friendly, we were cracking jokes while i asked him how long he’d been an anaesthetist?

Ct scan of a fractured Knee, the knee is displaced and splintered into 3 parts.

Gary was very nervous and worried as this was the first time he has ever been to theatre before, I could tell, and tried to be enthusiastic and show I was relaxed.
I told him to give me a kiss and that I loved him, then I settled and said it’s fuzzy i’ll be asleep any second.

The anaesthetist was very kind, taking my oxygen mask off so Gary could kiss me one more time, at this point i’d already drifted off…

*****

I came round from the anaesthetic in the recovery suite, The room was big, bright, air-conditioned and I had a monitor strapped to me checking my OBs. There was the hum of the machines and the bubble of nurses chattering.
I started to wave my arm; being blind and having a dry throat it was the most logical way to get their attention. A second or so later, a nurse came across and asked how I was? There was a lot of head nodding and thumbs up, I was too woozy to talk.

And then the pain hit… *Wow this is really uncomfortable! But I guess this is normal?*
“Could I have some painkillers please?”
“Yes of course, what’s your pain-scale like, 1 being good and 10 being awful?”
“7,,71/2”

The more time passed, the more and more uncomfortable I became. It didn’t help that I was getting hot and sweaty and my nose was extremely itchy, I kept having to take my oxygen mask off, itch my nose and fiddle about with it to try and put it back over my face.Finally the nurse noticed the muddle I was getting myself in trying to put my mask back on and offer to put the line up my nose instead. The relief was almost instant, I started to cool down and my nose was less itchy!

I kept asking for more and more painkillers, each time my ranking rating higher than the last time.
“The pain really should be subsiding by now, where is the pain?”
“My leg.” “It’s like I can’t feel the circulation, my leg feels like it has 3 blood pressure cuffs on it at the same time.”
“It is normal to have leg pain after surgery, and they do tend to wrap it quite tight to stop swelling.”
“But this doesn’t feel normal.”
“Wiggle your toes for me,can you feel me touching your foot?”
“Yes.
“You’ve got full circulation, your leg should settle down soon, i’ll give you a little bit more morphine before we take you upstairs.”
“Yes please.””Can you call Gary please?”
*I need a wee, i’ll just think of that instead of the pain…*

***

“OK Sassy we’re ready to take you to the ward now.”
“OK good, is Gary there?”
“Yes he’ll be waiting for you on the ward.”
“Thanks for your help, bye, have a good day.
“You’re very cheery for someone who is recovering from surgery!”
“Am I, hmmm maybeI am!”

I just laid back and tried to relax and the porters took me to the ward.

“Sorry, she can’t be on this ward, we’re full.”
“Oh, they told us to bring her here.”
“Well i’m sorry, I don’t know why they would, they know we are full.”
Sorry about this Sassy.”
*Oh but I need a wee*
Hey, I have a bed, i’m fine.”

Back to the recovery suite…

“We have to wait here until they have a space for her on another ward.”
“Oh right, let me ring around and find out what’s happening.”
“How long am I staying here for? Can I have some more painkillers?”
“I’m not sure Sassy it shouldn’t be too long. And we can’t give you any more i’m afraid.”
*It’ll be good to finally be on a ward so I can go for a wee*

I didn’t have to wait too long.

“OK Sassy, you’ve got a space on the ward now.”
“Yay, is Gary there?”
“Yes he should be.”
“Oh good!”

***
X-ray of fractured knee in which you can see the bone cracked and displaced.

Small talk between Gary and I and the nurse introducing herself to me…

“On a scale of 1-10 how much pain are you in?”
“9, 91/2.”
“That’s pretty high…”
“Yes it’s been getting worse as time passes.” “Can I have some morphine please.”
“You’ll have to wait a while, we don’t have your notes yet.”
“Oh god I really need painkillers! I need to stretch my leg”
“I’m sorry there isn’t anything I can do until your notes arrive.”
“Oh my god! It’s like 3 blood pressure cuffs on my leg at once! This is agony!!”
“I need to stand up.”
“No you can’t stand up.”
“NO I NEED to stand up!.”
“No sorry I can’t let you do that i’m sorry, you’ve just had major surgery and I need to look after you.”
“Well let me stand up, it’s the only thing that helps, i’ve been having this pain at home but it’s intensified!”
“You’re not allowed to stand up and i’m not going to let you.”
*OK I officially dislike this woman, get her out my face*
“Can you go see if i’m allowed morphine yet?”
“Yes, I can go do that “

“Right she’s gone, help me get out of this bed.”
Long pause…

“Sassy you heard what she said.”
“Get me out of this bed now!!
*Gary doesn’t move but I do*
“I need to stand up, just for a minute. It’ll help release the pain, I know it will.”
“I’ve been explaining this pain to you over the last few days, and it’s completely intensified,why aren’t you listening to me?”
“I don’t want you to get hurt, or damage your leg.”
“I’m not going to get hurt, I just need to sit in the chair and pull myself up, and I won’t be putting weight on my leg.”
*Gary helps me get into the chair.
As I stand up, i’m in absolute agony, and have to breathe hard to not cry out.
Although it’s agony, it’s doing what I thought it would, and pushes the blood around my leg. The pain although intense starts to steady itself.
Once i’ve done all I can to release the pressure I move back onto the bed*
“I’ve got some morphine for you.”
“Thanks, can I go to the toilet please?
“You’re not allowed to weight-bare, but i’ll get you a bedpan.”
“What if you push me in a wheelchair?”
“”No, i’m not allowed to do that.”
“OK, i’ll have a bedpan then.”
At least 5 minutes pass…”I really need a wee, where is she?”
“I don’t know…”
“Can you check?”
“She’s with someone else at the moment.”
“Oh great, I hope I don’t wee myself!”
“OK, I have the bed pan, if you could just roll onto your side.”

I had already lifted my backside up and started pulling at y gown.
“Just lie down for me.”
“Oh, this is how i was doing it in the other hospital it’s easier for me.”

Fumbling with gown and getting frustrated

“Gary take this stupid gown off me.”
“Let me lower the bed for you.”
“No I don’t need it lowered?”

Gary undoing gown.

“Here, let me help you.”
“Please can you just leave us to it, I want this gown off and don’t feel comfortable getting naked in front of you.”
“It’s OK i’m here to help you.”
“Well I don’t want your help, can you leave please?””

She reluctantly exits the cubicle but constantly sticks her head in.

“Can you just leave me to it, you’re distracting me and I can’t concentrate”
“I need to make sure you’re OK.”
“My partner is with me, i’m OK.”

*This woman is absolutely useless, I don’t like her*

Even though i’m ready to burst, I sit there and, nothing…

“Have you gone yet?”
“No.”

Still nothing…

“How are you getting on?”
“I can’t wee…”
“Can I come in?”
“No.”

She comes in anyway…

“So you still haven’t been? You’ve been sat there over 10 minutes…”
“Can you just get out please?
“I just want to help you.”
“Just get out!!”
“There’s no need to be so rude!”
“Well you asked if you could come in and I said no! I need to do this in my own time stop hovering over me.”

Finally she leaves…

Still nothing…

Nope, nothing.
I try everything pushing, prodding, wiggling, and even getting Gary to rub my back with no avail.

Finally an hour later…

The tiniest trickle happens!!

“What?! I’ve been waiting all that time for that??”

But the relief is insurmountable.
*****

Right leg in a white cast from ankle to thigh

Lots of love, medication and a sandwich later, i’m finally relaxing as best I can.

The nurses do a change over, and it’s time for Gary to leave.
We say our goodnights and he helps me settle for the evening. I apologise for the outbursts and severe grumpiness, he accepts my apology and says he can tell how much pain i am in.

I didn’t get much sleep that night, mostly to do with the pain, but mores because my bladder decided to kick in and I couldn’t stop peeing like a racehorse until breakfast the next morning!




Please stay tuned for the final instalment of my accident and the chaos that ensues… 😉

Join My Campaign: Think of The Carers

Think of the carers.
We all know that carers are the unsung heroes of today society! They look after their loved ones with no thought of themselves, no rest bite, and very little recognition for all their hard work and effort.
Most people would say it’s all in a days work, especially if it is their child that they care for. But I believe they deserve recognition for what they do.
If you are a parent/carer of an unwell/ chronically ill/ sensory impaired or disabled person I would love to hear from you.

I would like to hear your side of the story; how the diagnosis made you feel, what it means for you as a person, and tasks you have to do on a daily/ weekly/ monthly basis just to support a person you love
This guest series is about hearing disability from the carers perspective, and I hope to raise awareness and understanding of all that you do.

If you would like to participate, I would love to have you! Please contact me on the following:
Email:
SassysWorld6@gmail.com
Twitter:http://www.Twitter.com/@SassyPant6
FaceBook: https://m.facebook.com/Thinking-Out-Loud-Blog-525815087584791

Much love, Sassy X

Are You Indirectly Discriminating?

Are you being indirectly discriminative?

The Equality Act 2010 says that indirect discrimination is:
“A practice, policy or rule which applies to everyone in the same way, but has a worse effect on some people more than others.”

Without realising it, we are indirectly discriminating…

How am I indirectly discriminating you may ask?

I will get into that very shortly but first I will give a brief explanation of what the Equality Act is.
The Equality Act 2010 was proposed as a way to combine previous legislation together to make a better stronghold on discrimination and support those who may potentially be discriminated against in the future.

There are 9 protective characteristics:
*Age
*Disability
*Gender Reassignment
*Marriage or Civil Partnership in employment only
*Pregnancy and maternity
*Race
*Religion or belief
*Sex
*sexual orientation
But for today we are focusing on disability.

Disability and Access to Websites.

The Equality Act at Section 21 includes the adoption of a single concept of the provision of a service which covers ; goods, services and facilities among other things.

While the Equality Act 2010 doesn’t expressly refer to websites the consensus has been that the reference to the provision of service does apply to commercial web.
You can find more information on the Statutory Code of Practice.
“Websites provide access to services and goods and may in themselves constitute a service; for example, where they are delivering information or entertainment.”

*****

Websites can be a double edged sword for those with disabilities. People with sensory impairments such as blindness may choose to shop online, but much in the same way shops/ buildings can create physical barriers, a website can present the same barriers.

Screen readers are software programs giving blind and visually impaired people a way to navigate computers, tablets and phones through audio feedback.
Problems arise when user interfaces such as buttons are not labeled correctly, tables are not configured properly and images have no alternative text. Also known as Alt text attributes.

Why is this important?

Imagine the frustration of browsing the internet and being denied crucial information, such as buttons with the Twitter logo only saying link, tables reading non stop from left to right and photographs only saying the word image.

So going back to the earlier question: how am I being indirectly discriminating?

By not labelling these interfaces/ attributes correctly, you are denying visually impaired people access to your website. Whether it is intentional or not.

So what can you do?

By adding Alt text! Adding Alt text is simple; when you upload/ edit a picture on your website, you should give a clear description of the image.
Example:
Brighton Beach with a calm sea and the pier in the distance

The Alt text reads “alt=”Brighton Beach with a calm sea and the pier in the distance” which will be read aloud on all screen reader software.

Likewise, if you are adding a text based image to your website, you need to include the original text of the image as screen readers cannot distinguish the writing/text.

Flowers with the caption "Smile, and the world will smile with you!"

The Alt text reads “alt=”Flowers with the caption "Smile, and the world will smile with you” which will be read aloud on all screen reader software.

Blogging and SEO.

so you’re a blogger and you bake a delicious cake, you’ve been told to include Chocolate Cake Recipe , in every image of your tasty treat. In order for SEO to give you better rankings you need to include the Title for every image caption, right?

WRONG!!

The caption/ tag area is for Alt Text descriptions. Blind and visually impaired users need to know what the image is about, and SEO will also penalise you for not doing this.
SEO sees this as spam. In order for you to get good SEO rankings as well as being lawfully abiding, your images/ photos should have a brief description.

Most blogs are being indirectly discriminative, and not just to visually impaired people. People with other sensory impairments, motor skill problems and cognitive issues may also be indirectly discriminated against.

If you are unsure whether or not your website or blog is indirectly discriminating, you can use these free tools below to check.
Please think about your potential audience before you hit publish.
Make sure your user interfaces are labelled correctly, images have Alt text and videos have a written translation of what your video contains, especially if it is a slideshow of images.

http://wave.webaim.org/
https://tenon.io/
https://www.squizlabs.com/general/html-codesniffer




 

References
https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/employment-statutory-code-practice
http://www.firstcovers.com/userquotes/111218/smile,+and+the+world.html
https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/helping-people-to-use-your-service/making-your-service-accessible-an-introduction
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/contents
https://www.w3.org/WAI/




My BML Experience Part 2

My BML Experience Part 2.

Saturday 25th June was the day of the BritMum’s conference a jam packed day full of talks, networking and seminars.

I set off nice and early to get into London for 08:20 plenty of time to get to the Brewery and meet the Tribesters before the talks began,

Or so I thought…

The guy who came to assist us stood there chatting for a good 5 minutes about getting the bus, because he used to live in Shoreditch… yet had never heard of the Brewery. I told him we weren’t interested in the bus he eventually took us down to the Circle Line; which just happened to be closed! Leaving us with no other choice but to get the bus…

When we eventually got off the bus, Google Maps decided to take us around in a bloody square before heading in the right direction.

Finally we reached the Brewery and registered. Ellie and I grabbed a drink and stood at the very back having a cuppa before attempting to find the Tribe.

They waved at us, but as a talk was going on I didn’t want to head into the crowd to get to them, so we waited until the lady had finished.

We sat down and the entire hall played pass the parcel; I won some chocolate buttons yay!

And this is when the chaos descended; it was all stations go, and apart from Plan The Happy, Ellie and I hadn’t spoken to or been properly introduced to the Tribe.

The Hub was brimming with people and walking into the space was like hitting a wall of noise; very disorientating to me. Very quickly after we entered the hub Nadia came over and said hello, and reintroduced herself, saying just to shout if we needed any assistance.
As we walked around Ellie told me the Brands and what she could see. – This is where I have to point out that Ellie too is Visually Impaired, she hadn’t been to the building before and hadn’t ever been to a conference either, so it was a learning curve and a shock to the system for both of us.

Ellie and I wondered around the stalls, and found other conference rooms: Vlogging and The Big Little Tent Festival, both rooms were busy but the staff were extremely friendly and explaining what their seminars would be about/ what they had to offer.

They certainly were interesting; having interactive games and equipment.

Our first seminar was SEO rub by Judith Lewis who has been using and lecturing about SEO over the past 20 years! She was very informative and quirky; unfortunately because there was so many questions she ran out of time but I will be reading the Powerpoint she created for the lecture.

A few things I learned:

The difference between follow and no follow links
* Too many bloggers are not using the Alt Text description properly, and essentially breaking the law (so I will be rewriting a blog post explaining this)
* SEO is great but a human perspective is always better
The next seminar we headed to was; how to moneitise your blog.
3 experts were there including Vicky from Honest Mum.
Personally I found the talk overwhelming, I thought we were going to learn the basics but Vicky gave too many stats instead of how to do things, in my opinion anyway.

A few things I learned:

On average gaining 10,000 page views per month is when brands/ sponsorships start to approach you.
* There is not set rule on how often you should blog. Write what you like, when you like.
* Be unique and authentic
* If you have worked with brands before, don’t be afraid to contact them to see if they have any other opportunities.
So although this isn’t the path i’m on with my blog, it was definitely interesting 🙂

We adjourned in the hub for lunch and managed to meet and catch up with: Dr Mummykins, Cuddle Fairy and Just Saying Mum. Unfortunately it was quite brief chatting to Dr Mummykins and Cuddle Fairy, but it was great to finally meet Just Saying Mum and have a chit chat; she is as gorgeous in person as she is in real life! Thank you also for seeking us out, and giving us a hand when we looked like lost souls!

After lunch we headed to the last session; How to work smart with PR, run by Alexandra Delf and Susan L. Schwartz.
This talk was extremely informative and very interesting;it was good to get the perspective of a successful blogger (Susan) as well as what to do and not do from the PR perspective (Alexandra).

A few things I learned:

Make each email personal and not blanket = it was interesting to hear the PR had never received a personalised email before!- Surely that’s just polite email etiquette? Apparently not!
* Don’ be afraid to contact PR’s but build a relationship first! Don’t just jump in asking for what you want! – Again, this baffles me as to why people think this is OK and not just rude?
* Your blog is your brand, if you want to make it so every little detail should support it as so.
*Gmail/ Hotmail accounts are seen as unprofessional. Oops!

after the seminar was over, Ellie and I went up to to ask a few questions. Who knows I may have some future collaborations on the cards! 🙂

Ellie and i met Inside Martin’s Thoughts; and Carla which I was really happy about! It was a chance meeting 🙂 so that made it all the better! I think between the 4 of us; we managed to put the world to rights a little bit! 😉
The keynote speeches were a mix of humour, sadness and thoughtfulness. There was definitely an eclectic bunch of bloggers 🙂
The party was held after the keynote speeches and Ellie and I found a few Tribal members; BeTA Mummy, Occupation:(m)other and Phil.

Last but not least was the BiB Awards 🙂 The Tribe managed to grab a few tables together 🙂 We screamed like banshee’s when Island Living 365 won the award for Fresh Voice!
I think we raised the roof! 😉
And if you are wondering; no I did not win the Inspire award, but I never expected to! I lost to the deserving: The Joy Chaser 🙂 it’s just a shame I didn’t get to meet you!

In my eyes we are all winners, being alongside such amazing writers who brings light into the darkness and educating others with their stories, and getting as far as we did; is just spectacular!
Big love to Cuddle Fairy, Steph’s 2 Girls and Downside Up! If you haven’t already checked out their blogs, please do!

Highs:

Meeting some of my favourite bloggers in person over the course of the weekend
* learning new techniques/ ideas
* Networking with PR’s
* The cake/ alcohol
* The company of my best friend all day 🙂
Lows:

Turning up late
Constantly losing the Tribe
* Half of them not introducing themselves to Ellie or I
* The wall of noise
* Missed opportunity to talk to bloggers I would have liked to.
Was it accessible to disabled people?
Yes if your issue is mobility based as there was plenty of seats and lifts.
Not if you have sensory impairments such as sight or hearing loss.

Would I go again?
At this present moment in time no.
I found 2 out of the 3 seminars worthwhile, and the staff / PR’s extremely friendly. But I went there to socialise; meet my Tribe and hopefully catch up with bloggers. Too many times it was just Ellie and I on our own surrounded by hundreds of people, with no one saying hello unless they already knew you by face/blog. I felt lonely and isolated from the Tribe and the people I hoped to spend time with

Thank you for the experience Brit Mums and for making me a finalist :))

If you went to BML16, i’d love to hear your experiences 🙂




Pandora’s Box

Standing on the precipice of existence ,
wondering if I can claw myself back from the abyss..
Emotions enveloping me,,
Thoughts and feelings suffocating my happiness, my love, my hope,.

Engulfed in the frustration and desperation
To be free, to b better, to be whole.

Each day brings a thicker layer of despair,
Zapping all energy
Stealing my smile, stealing my laughter, stealing my joy.

As a ray of sunshine breaks through the darkest cloud,,
The light penetrates the fog of my mind.

The tide begins to turn,
The pressure released.

I smile, I laugh, I am joyful
I feel happiness, I feel love;
I have hope.

Happy diaries #10

Hello Diary!

I am absolutely buzzing! I have so many great things to tell you!

I went to a meeting this week and was part of helping to make digital more inclusive for the blind and visually impaired! Especially for those who like me use screen readers!
I can’t tell you too much more at the moment but it’s being improved, and developing further.
But it certainly looks like there are positive things up on the horizon! 🙂

I only went and made the finals of the prestigious BritMums blogging awards!! Oh my I am so freaking excited!! I swear I didn’t think I was going to be made a finalist! There are too many amazing bloggers in my category and they really did deserve to be there! I woke up to lots of twitter and Whatsapp messages congratulating me!
I did scream just a little bit! 😉

I wrote my I’m Going To #BML16 post and have RSVP’d for the welcome drinks on Friday 24th, so if you’re going give me a shout!
I found out that I am on the 1st page of Google! If you type in Thinking Out Loud, you’ll see my little blog along side Ed Sheerans’ famous song; how incredible is that?!
It’s quite an honour really, especially as it is so hard to get onto Google as it is; nevermind the front page! He is one of my favourite artists!

Currently I’m at Gary’s family for the Bank Holiday weekend, it’s been absolutely lovely! I had my first ever Indian head massage; it was absolutely glorious!
We also went out for dinner and drinks with everyone which was also lovely.
We went to a food and drink festival type thing, where we tried a tornado potato; essentially its a thinly sliced potato wrapped round a stick and deep fried, it reminded me of crisps.Gary and I shared a white chocolate doughnut, pretty tasty, but I couldn’t eat a whole one.
And probably the best bit was going to the cheese stand and getting to taste random flavours; curry cheese being one of them. Still not sure what I think of it, it was certainly strange. We did buy Chilli Dutch Edam, very yummy! I was good and didn’t have any alcohol!

We also had a BBQ in the sun, it wasn’t as warm as the rest of the weekend but it was great. To spend it with the whole family 🙂

Gratitude List

I have to thank my fantastic readers, without them voting for me in the BiBs, I wouldn’t be so ecstatic and grinning like a loon all week 🙂
Family – again I am so grateful for your support, giving me support, feedback and encouragement with this blog, thank you again Francis for rallying for me, I love you so much!
* Gary – Where would I be without you my love? You encouraged me to set up this blog, give me something to focus on and drag me out of my depression, but more than that you have been my rock throughout this journey; my technical support, my devils advocate, and mocking me when I act like a loon for getting where I am with my little blog!
Friends – from home, Uni and online you have also supported me, not just on my blogging experience but in life in general. Big love to Life Of A Blind Girl, you are such a gem, and I look forward to finally meeting you face-to-face over the Summer!!

The amazingTribe! Ladies, I am so grateful to have found you; you’ve made my blogging journey all the more special, and even helped me find perspective when I couldn’t find it myself! The sad part is I can’t even thank you properly because you aren’t all coming to #BML which I am beyond gutted about! Lots of hugs, cake and alcohol shall be consumed!

Sunshine – you are my literal and metaphorical ray of light, when you come out to play life just seems brighter somehow!
* Music- you’ve helped me through when i’ve had my down moments this week But more often. When I’m in the best mood, music picks me up further and makes me feel like i’m on cloud 9

So that’s it my Diary!
I can say it’s probably been one of the best weeks of my life!

Let’s hope the positive mood keeps me going throughout next week! 🙁

Until next time!

Anger Is The Sheild, Depression Is The Dagger

As depression rears it’s ugly head I am left with 2 choices; let it control me, or try my best to control it.
I’ve noticed patterns in my behaviour of late that used to smother me like the heat of a sauna. But this time i’m aware and ready to fight back.

I have one gigantic trigger: my sight loss.
That’s where it all began.
That’s where it all stems from.
But it’s slightly different this time. This time I think it’s a chemical imbalance. I have come off my anti depressants.
When I was put on them, I was given a 6 month course, but I kept cashing in more prescriptions as I didn’t feel ready.
But I decided that enough was enough, I wanted to at least try.
I couldn’t tell you the exact date I stopped taking them, because I didn’t want the placebo effect hitting me like a tonne of bricks, as well as the potential chemical imbalance I was going to be facing.

I’m not saying i’ve been perfect since coming off my anti depressants.I had a few down days, some of which lasted longer than others.

But the slap you in the face moment happened early morning last week.

I was sorting out breakfast for Gary and i; firstly I spilt the water all over the sides (actually not uncommon as we have a shite kettle!), and then I started putting away the dishes from the night before. and almost every dish I pulled out was dirty.

I lost my shit and started raging at Gary.

He came over to me.; told me to put the dishes down, and not to worry, it was only dirty dishes.

“Only dirty dishes?! I spent fucking ages washing those dishes, and yet they have shit all over them!!!
What’s the point of me washing them if they aren’t going to be clean?!”

At this point Gary enveloped me in a big hug, and rubbed my back soothingly.
” It’s just dishes Sassy, it’s OK.”

I wanted to shout again, but his calming presence soothed me. Right there and then I knew this was my not so friendly friend depression.

This is the point where I admitted to Gary I hadn’t taken my happy pills in a while, because I wanted to come off them.
He had his reservations about me just stopping them, but said he’d support me in whatever I chose.

I think he or I made a joke about the crazy train starting it’s journey again.
I have to point out here, that a lot of our relationship revolves around,lots of dark humour, which other people would find unnerving or offensive. But that is how we deal with things 🙂

When Gary had left for work, I got on the phone to the Tribal ladies and confessed my psycho bitch fit.

They too were also very supportive, giving me suggestions, virtual hugs and kind thoughts.
In all honesty I was truly embarrassed at my outburst, and sad that it had happened, and I knew in order to deal with it, I had to be honest with the people I care about, and not try and hide it/ palm it off like I used to.

That same morning, a new member of the family arrived into this world, and it instantly lifted my mood.

Being open and honest with Gary, my friends, and myself as well as hearing happy news gave me the oomph to realise I HAVE to focus on the positives, but be honest with myself and others if things are going downhill.

So, how am I going to try and keep my psycho bitch fits at bay?
*Try your best to realise when you are in the midst of an angry outburst or thoughts,. Feeling incredibly numb and withdrawn.

*Breathe deeply, and think only of what your breathing is doing.

*Go cuddle Gary. 🙂

*Talk to Gary, he’s bound to say something to cheer you up.

.*Read up on mindfulness, and try and put it into practise, when not in a low mood. It will get you better equipped for when you need to do it.

*Listen to music. Blasting out one of your happy songs, and squawking terribly along with it, always helps improve your mood.

*Distract yourself by making yourself focus on something trivial/ insignificant.

*Do exercise, I’ve almost forgotten how this word is spelt, never mind said… it’s been so long!

*Text/ call someone. Even if they aren’t free to talk at that moment,writing it down will help to clear your mind.

*Don’t use expletives or negativity when expressing these thoughts. That always gets you ramped up even more.

*Find a task that needs a lot of focus and thoughtfulness. Maybe like writing a blog post? 🙂

*Watch something funny. Stand Up always makes you laugh!

*Make some tea, and enjoy the 10 minutes to sit and drink it.

*Think of something positive. You know, like you’ve been shortlisted for the UK’s most prestigious blogging awards!

*Smile. Yep, forcing yourself to actively smile, actually lifts your mood.

*Allow emotions to be present. Cry, scream, shout, But not at anyone. Be present in acknowledging the feelings, but don’t let them take over.

*If all else fails, and you are at home: SLEEP. That will shut the stressy bitch up, and hopefully it’ll improve your looks! Beauty sleep and all that 😉

*Last, but no means least. Read this blog post, and remind yourself, the train to crazy town has already departed… No point trying to chase it now! 🙂

*****

As you can probably guess, this is a list from me, to me. I now have something officially in writing to come back to if necessary.

*****

Depression is an illness, a brutal thought process that truly can take over your body and mind. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I chose to take myself off anti depressants, because I want to. And see where mindfulness and positive thinking will get me.
If I need counselling or to go back on them, I will.
Admitting you need help is never a weakness. actually it’s the complete opposite!

My way may not work for everyone, it might not even work for me. But as I feel that I truly am in the happiest place i’ve ever been in my life, I want to see if I can channel that positivity into my daily living, instead of relying on my happy pills.
I will know within myself if it’s an emotional anchor, and not a chemical imbalance anymore.

*****

Since I began this blog I always said I would be truthful with myself, and give my readers that honesty.
Being able to talk openly about all disabilities candidly is my goal.
If I want people to accept disability as another entity, and not a thing that should be shunned or silenced, then I need to show my true colours. That way I feel I am doing the right thing.

If you are not in the best place right now, reach out to someone, or write down your feelings.

You are never truly alone, even if it feels like it.
Big hugs to you all 🙂

❤️ If you enjoy my ramblings, and think for one crazy second, that somehow I deserve to become a finalist in the prestigious Brilliance In Blogging Awards (BiBs) I would love your vote!
Simply click this button below and it will take you straight there!
All you need to do is put:
Your Name
Your Email Address
Thinking Out Loud, in the category of INSPIRE
Please and thank you.
you wonderful human being! ❤️

BritMums

Much love, Sassy x


Bright vs White: The Cane Debate

Bright vs White.

There is an interesting debate in the visually impaired world as to whether a cane (the long white metal object used by visually impaired people to get around safely), should stay white or be colourful to represent a persons’ individuality.

Here are the arguments I have come across:

For:
* People should be allowed to show their individuality.
* a cane should be seen as an accessory as well as an aid.
* Visually impaired people will feel more comfortable using a cane if it is coloured.
* Those that already own a coloured cane have received compliments on their colourful/ sparkly cane.
* If having canes in different colours encourages children to use them, adults/ parents are more welcoming of it.
* Having a coloured cane extinguishes the prejudice of the stereotypical blind person.
* People are too busy in their daily thoughts that they barely pay attention to a person using a cane in the first place. – Changing colour would make no difference to the public’s ignorance.
* People recognise the cane for what it is, and the action in which it is used.
* Coloured handle/ grip and ball, but the main part should stay white. It gives individuality while still being a universal symbol.

Against:

  • White is the Universal colour of canes to represent to the public that a person has limited or no vision.
  • White canes with red strips signal visual and hearing impairment.
  • Changing the colour would then not distinguish hearing impairments either.
  • Having different colours means the public will not know what each colour represents, this can therefore confuse the public.
  • The public can barely differentiate between a standard cane and a red and white one.

A white cane is part of the universal symbol to the public, it is also part of the highway code. If the colour were to change, would drivers take notice, and respect the person?
If the highway code says to respect a white cane,, to change it could potentially make the blind person liable, not the driver/ foot passenger, if an accident were to happen.
* Visually impaired people may not get the support from the public, that we sometimes need.
If it were to change, would the public be aware?
Public may not be as ready to offer help because they see it as a cool gadget/ accessory.

Looking at the arguments for and against, it all seems to come down to personal preference, whether to accessorise a cane or not essentially it’s a case of what each person deems as a priority.
Do they want to look snazzy, safe, or both?




Personally if there was an option of changing the grip colour and ball/ tip and keeping the body of the cane white, I would probably go for that option. For me I am an individual, and it would be nice to show my individuality, with something I see as an extension of me.
However I do not agree with having coloured canes as a whole. Maybe for young children first learning to use a cane but I believe that as the white cane is a universal symbol,, it should stay that way.
I do agree that generally the public are too caught up in their own busy lives to really notice that you, as a visually impaired person, are even using a cane. But to me, white is the brightest colour, can be seen the furthest distance away, and is also the most reflective.

What would you choose?
Individuality, accessory or just plain and simple safety?

I would love to know your thoughts in the comments!

Much love,
Sassy x