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My Mental Health Story – #WMHD

So today is World Mental Health Day. To be honest I kind of feel like every day should be mental health day. We should be aware and looking after our minds everyday, but unfortunately it’s one of those things we are still so reluctant to address. With that being said I’d like to think we’re getting better.

It’s like whenever have any problems with our mental health we put them in a box, shove them to the back of the shelf, let them gather dust and just hope they go away. They never do. I don’t know about you, but I know I’m certainly guilty of that. I try to ignore the problem until it stops being one. I’m trying to get better at not doing that. Last month I went on a couple of training days through work, and I was lucky enough to become certified in Mental Health First Aid. (Yes believe it or not, it’s a thing!). It’s actually a very good thing. The course taught us how to recognise when someone is experiencing mental health difficulties, or in crisis, and how to respond. It was so insightful, not only did it equip me with the resources to help someone in trouble, it also taught me a lot about my own mental health, and how to help myself.

One thing they echoed throughout the course is that we all have mental health. Just like we have physical health. It’s only when it turns to “mental illness” that we become cagey. There’s a lot of negative connotations associated with the term mental illness isn’t there? It’s like our brains default to all the bad things associated with it. It’s like we are afraid of being labelled. Mental health professionals always use the broken leg analogy to make sense of this. I know we’ve all heard it a million and one times, but it’s so true. If you broke your leg you’d have no hesitation about going to the doctor to get it fixed. So why the reluctance when we’re not feeling the best emotionally? How come we don’t talk about when we’re anxious? or lonely? or depressed? Why is there such a fear?

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I didn’t really suffer with my own mental health until I was about 18/19. I mean I had your typical teenage angst, but outside of that I was pretty happy go lucky.  I’ve spoken about this a hundred times before, so apologies if I sound like a broken record. Those of you who know me/read my blogs are probably familiar with this story already, but for the day that’s in it I’d like to elaborate more. I experienced a bad bout of depression the year before I started college. My drink was spiked badly the night of my 18th Birthday and it had a pretty bad knock on effect. I collapsed the day after as it never worked it’s way out of my system. It essentially caused a really bad chemical imbalance in my brain. Anyway, I was taken to hospital where they found traces of LSD and a concoction of other stuff, in what I can only assume was some hideous date rape drug. I’m still counting my lucky stars I never wandered away from my friends that night. I naively assumed at he time that afterwards, life would go back to normal. Only it was far from normal.

I was so low after what happened me. I was angry, sad, lonely, confused. I had this emptiness in my chest and stomach that I couldn’t account for. Things were so different. It sounds dramatic, but I no longer felt like the person I was prior to what happened. I felt it had changed everything about me, knocked all my confidence and made me a shadow of my former self. It was decided I would take a year out before starting college. Something which was never even close to being on my radar at the time.

I had to go on a steroid based tablet to restore the chemical balance in my brain. These tablets were not fun let me tell you. A long with putting you back together, they also make you pile on weight. And for an 18 year old girl who was used to being a size 8-10 it might as well have been the end of the world. So there I was. At home, about 2 stone heavier, watching all my friends move on and start college and feeling absolutely terrified of life.

I had never experienced such a lowly feeling before. It’s something my present self now comes to recognise as depression. I was depressed. As grim as it sounds, the only time I felt peace was when I was asleep. I’d dread waking up because that feeling would be there, waiting. Those around me kept telling me it would get better, but what did they know? They weren’t feeling like this. How could they possibly know? I honestly thought I was doomed to feel this way forever. Suddenly things that I had no issues with before were becoming an extreme source of anxiety. For instance, I’d fret about meeting up with a friend for days leading up to it. I’d worry about completely irrational things, like not having anything to say, or them thinking I was stupid. I started worrying about those close to me dying. I worried I’d never be able to go to college, that I’d become this lonely recluse.quotw

So, how did I get better? Tbh, looking back I don’t think those tablets I was on helped at all. I think they had a lot of undesirable side effects that actually proved counter productive to what they were trying to do in the first place. Nonetheless, doctors orders. I was on them for 7 months. Things slowly started improving when I came off them. In April of that year, a good friend asked if I wanted to go on an inter-rail around Europe. The ‘old Jess’ would’ve been jumping for joy. This new Jess? Cowering in fear! However, my family really encouraged me to go, so I did. I mean I was terrified, but it ended up being the best thing I ever did. I completely pushed myself out of my newfound comfort zone and it was the perfect medicine. I came back after the 3 weeks and the change in me was remarkable. I finally started to feel a bit like my old self. My spark was returning. I went to college two months later, joined the gym, made new friends and life slowly returned to ‘normal’.

I’m aware it’s not as ‘miraculous’ for everyone. But the point is, it does get better. It always gets better. People were telling me it would, but in my lowest moments I just couldn’t see the light. But it was there, it just took me a little while to get to it. And that’s okay. If you happen to be reading this and you’re feeling a little lost, or hopeless, please know you’re worth a whole lot more than you’re feeling right now. The voice inside your head is wrong, it will get better.

Looking back almost 7 years on, I am grateful for the experience. As horrible and all as it was at the time. It taught me a lot about myself and about life. We all go through dark times. I’m sorry for the incredibly cliché ball of cheese that’s about to come, but I think it really did make me stronger. I became better equipped to handle the different things life has thrown at me since. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means invincible. I just gained invaluable insight and perspective. I get the odd bad day like everyone else. I struggle with anxiety from time to time, but I do my best to keep a handle on it. I talk when I need to talk, I write when I need to write, and I cry when I need to cry. I just wanted to share this little story in the hopes that it might be a source of comfort to some who are going through a rough time.

Then again, I might be completely self serving and the world wide web might not give a shit. Either way, it’s out there. Look after yourselves.

~J

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Long time no see

Hello little old blog of mine. God, it’s been a long time! Not sure if I’ve been too busy to write, or too lazy. It’s probably the latter in all honesty, but I’m going to compromise with a combination of both.

I’ve missed writing my random rants and musings regularly. I’m going to make an effort to revive this more (is it too early for a new year’s resolution!?). The last time I posted it was in the wake of the Manchester terror attack. Sadly, just a few days ago America witnessed a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. 50 dead and 500 or so injured. I wish I could say things have changed on the terror front, but 5 months on the world is still as desolate as ever.

In more positive news, (depending on how you look at it), I’ve gained an extra year of life since I last wrote. So 24, how’s she looking so far? You may recall many of my posts last year were riddled with post college uncertainty. Well you’ll be glad to know, I’m slowly coming to terms with my newfound ‘adulthood’. I actually paid off my student overdraft last week, hoorah! All by myself, no help or handouts. That was a nice feeling 🙂 I wasn’t in huge debt or anything, but it was nice to be in a position to do that and to finally feel somewhat financially independent. Career wise I’m on to job numero 3. I know right, talk about all over the shop. It’s actually been a great learning experience and I can officially report that the 3rd time is a charm 😉 I’m a firm believer in going after what’s right for you and figuring out what makes you happy. So what if that takes you 10 different jobs?

I wrote a post back in March shortly after moving back from London. I spoke of my excitement about job number 2 and how it felt right etc etc. Let’s just say thank god it was only a 3 month contract. It’s funny how your intuition can be so off. I had a pretty lowly 3 months. The job didn’t live up to a single thing it promised whatsoever. So I found myself looking at other options yet again. I booked myself a TEFL course and decided that was my next move, get out, get abroad and teach English. I think I also wrote a post detailing those desires. But of course life got in the way once more, when my lovely other half landed himself his first teaching job in London.

The irony eh? His job ended up being 10-15 minutes from the area in London where I used to live. You couldn’t write it. At this point I felt a bit like life was taunting me. Throwing up bricks in the way of every plan I tried to make, laughing meretriciously along the way. So we were back in a long distance situation once again and I was facing that all too familiar feeling of What the fuck am I gonna do now?  Luckily I didn’t have to wait too long before another opportunity presented itself.  I was actually offered another job before I finished out my other contract.

I’m now working for an High School Exchange Year program with a company called EF. We bring in students from all over the world to spend a year living in Ireland and going to an Irish secondary school. I handle the social media/marketing side of things, as well as finding and screening new host families. It’s genuinely so interested and rewarding.

Finally I can say I’m working for a company I really care about and one that cares about me in return. In August we spent two weeks in Maynooth with 70 of our students who signed up to a welcome camp. The camp was designed to prepare them for their year in Ireland as well as combining lots of fun activities. While there was a bit of cabin fever, it was so much fun and it was something different. I mean how many jobs offer you the chance to spend a Monday afternoon milking cows and jumping into a bog with 70 international teenagers?

 

I get to travel a lot with it too, which is great. Right after Christmas we are taking some students to London for a week, and in April we’re going to Edinburgh. Which will be nice, seeing as I’ve never been! We also recently found out that all offices worldwide get to go to Cancun at the end of January. We’ve already broken out the sombreros..

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Okay I’ll stop gloating now.. all in all despite the set backs things are good right now. I fly over and back to London around once or twice a month, and on the weekends I’m not there Tom flies back. I mean it’s not a dream situation, but we made it work when I was there, so it’s only fair we make it work now that he’s there. We’ll see where the next adventure takes us in six months or so.

🙂

~J

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Thoughts on Terror

Recent happenings in the world have left me feeling very angry and confused. I wasn’t going to blog anything about it, but I’ve found in the last two weeks it’s all I can think about. It might be somewhat cathartic to get it out, so here goes.

I am of course referring to the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London. On May 22nd Salman Abedi a horrific monster, detonated a deadly nail bomb as thousands of young people were leaving the MEN after Ariana Grande’s concert. 22 people lost their lives, among them 7 children, the youngest being just 8. Many more were seriously and critically injured. And for what? So one evil extremist could carry out a senseless attack under the influence of the most cowardly and despicable ideology.

A mere 12 days later, in London, 3 more monsters carried out yet another fatal attack. They drove a van into innocent pedestrians on London Bridge, before going on to stab and slash others at Borough Market. 7 people lost their lives, and some 50 others were again seriously injured.  As was the case with Manchester, the stories of the victims are quickly emerging. One woman, Chrissy Archibald died in the arms of her fiance. Another victim, James McMullan had been out celebrating the completion of a business project that he had dedicated all of his time to for two years.

What is exceptionally poignant about this, is the fact that these people probably expressed the same shock and sympathy for the Manchester victims less than two weeks before they met the same tragic end. I just cannot fathom it.

I spent 3 hours on Sunday evening, like many I’m sure, absolutely engrossed in the One Love Manchester concert. Ariana Grande’s sheer courage and strength in the face of something so awful was a source of comfort to many. The whole concert was such a beautiful display of love and solidarity. I am just in complete awe of this woman. She could have hidden away, she could have stopped performing for a very long time. No one would have blamed her. But she didn’t. Instead she brought some of the biggest names in music together in direct defiance to these evil atrocities. Even after another horrifying terror attack occurred on the eve of the concert, she still carried on. She spent the days in the run up to the event visiting her injured fans in hospital, and meeting with the friends and families of those who sadly passed away.  I mean what an incredible feat of bravery. If it were me, I honestly don’t know how I would pick myself back up.

The one thing we are hearing time and time again in the wake of these attacks is that we shouldn’t let hate win. And I agree 100%. The concert on Sunday night restored everything these vile jihadists do their best to extinguish, love, happiness and unification. Though everything is scary and uncertain, we can’t stop going about our lives out of fear. It’s exactly what they want.

With that being said, something needs to be done. Our solidarity in the aftermath of these tragedies simply just isn’t enough. It’s not enough for politicians to spew us the same rhetoric over and over again while we sit back and just wait for the inevitable. They are telling us hate won’t win, but at the moment it kind of is. So many innocent lives have been lost and it’s happening at an increasingly frequent and alarming rate. It’s not a case of if anymore, it’s a case of when and where. We are often told not to be angry. And I get where people are coming from with that,  “reacting in a similar way to these extremists is exactly what they want”, but I don’t entirely agree. At the end of the day all these cowards want to do is kill, and they are succeeding. So I’m sorry, but that makes me fucking angry.

What makes me even angrier is the fact that many of these attackers were known to police and intelligence services?! Members of Salman Abedi’s community had expressed their concerns over his apparent radicalization and extremist views to the police. Yet nothing was done. Salman was allowed to carry on as normal. Similarly, Kurham Butt actually appeared on a channel 4 documentary ‘The Jihadists Next Door’ which details the rise of Islamist Extremism in the UK. In the show, Butt was seen praying with a group of extremists in Regents Park, and fraternising with a man who warned that one day the flag of ISIS would fly over Downing Street. Other members of Butt’s circle expressed the views that homosexual’s should be thrown from tall buildings, Britain should adopt Sharia Law, and adulterers should be stoned to death.

Why channel 4 are even giving these vile creatures a platform is beyond me!  How are we allowing these dangerous groups to propagate? What’s more is it’s also been claimed that Butt was reported to anti- terror groups on two separate occasions. One neighbour seemingly reported him after she caught him trying to convert her children to Islam and radicalise them. I mean I’m no expert on these matters, but surely that’s a gross failure on the part of those who are supposed to protect us?

How are these people slipping through the cracks when their evil intent is so inherently obvious? Who’s bright idea was it to make a TV show highlighting these monsters, allowing them to brag, instead of reprimanding them for it? I just don’t understand. I get that in most cases these extremists can be hard to infiltrate, but turning a blind eye to the ones that are right in front of us, in my opinion, is unforgivable.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take away from the brilliance of the police and the emergency services, I mean the Met had responded to the attack in London in 8 minutes. That’s incredible. We just need more preventative measures. I’m not suggesting we close boarders or build walls or anything like that, but we need real action. Whatever form that comes in is up to the world leaders we’ve put our trust in. They just cannot continue to let us fall victim to attack after attack.

The fact is no one should go to a concert and not return home. No one should go out for a drink and have it end in tragedy. It needs to stop.

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Joys of Joy – A True Joy to Read

A couple of weeks ago I had just returned home to Kilkenny after a long working week in the Capital.  I settled comfortably into my nan’s sitting room, ready for the Late Late Show, our customary Friday tradition. The tea was brewed and our feet were up. First up Ryan informed us was a former Mount Joy prisoner, Gary Cunningham. I don’t know why, but almost immediately something piqued my interest. I just had an instant feeling that this man was going to have an incredible story, and boy god did he!

I was so drawn to Gary’s infectious positivity that night, that I couldn’t stop thinking about his story for a long time afterwards. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his book! It took me a while to track down a copy mind you (it was flying off the shelves), but I was thrilled when I finally managed to get one, ( a signed one at that!).

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I flew through the book over two days, I was so moved by Gary’s story, I felt it only natural to blog my response!

Let’s be honest, every one of us has a preconceived attitude when it comes to criminals and prisoners. More often than not our immediate reaction is one of disdain and disgust. Sure they are all only vile scumbags who deserve everything they get right? No. Not always. What I love most about Gary’s story is that he reminds us that we are all only human. We all makes mistakes. Every single one of us. Granted, some make bigger mistakes than others, but none of us are absolved. Now I am not condoning  or making excuses for any sort of criminal activity,  nor is Gary. On the contrary, it’s about highlighting all of the good that can come when you own up to those mistakes.

A few years ago Gary was sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison. He was caught by the guards with a supply of cannabis he was collecting for a ‘friend’. Gary was on a dark path and by his own admission, spiraling out of control due to alcohol and substance abuse. His time in prison was to become the life changing experience he so desperately needed. Instead of facing his time with intense negativity, Gary embraced his sentence and owned up to his mistakes. Many times throughout his book Gary talks about how his struggles with drink and drugs had rendered him an extremely selfish and destructive person. He was destroying his relationships with those closest to him, and caring for no body but himself. Little did he know that prison would become his saviour.

It was so refreshing to read a tale so brutally honest, yet so immensely uplifting. The story doesn’t glorify prison life at all. It doesn’t detail the horrors we have come to expect from TV Shows and pop culture, rather it gives a heart warming account of change and so much achievement.

While inside Gary coined the phrase ‘it’s not the time you do, it’s what you do with your time’, and did he do a lot with his time indeed! It was in prison where he discovered a love of writing, penning romantic poems for the girlfriends of fellow inmates, winning two Prison writing competitions and compiling the pages of the very book on our shelves today. Not only that, but Gary went on to set up a successful rock band, The Off#enders, recording many songs and putting on performances in other prisons.

The camaraderie that is brought to life in the pages of Joys of Joy is nothing short of incredible.  Particularly the special bond formed between Gary and his best friend ‘Fitzer’, who we come to learn has an absolutely incredible voice! I’ve since heard one of the band’s covers on Youtube and I can testify to this.  It really shows that there are decent men in the prison system who are willing to work hard to reform themselves and their past mistakes. Rest assured, Gary didn’t stop there, he went on to set up Ireland’s first ever Prison Committee, which became a vehicle for change and a way for prisoners and staff alike to voice their concerns.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Gary was a big inspiration to many of his fellow inmates, whether he realised it at the time or not. The friendships depicted in this book will honestly make you laugh and cry! It’s written in a very casual and conversational tone, which I love. You can almost hear the lads and all their ‘Dublingo’ in your head as you read, and this only adds to the honesty.

Aside from the other inmates, Gary met many more remarkable people in the form of the Prison officers and Teaching staff. Prior to reading this book, I was always under the impression that the staff in prisons just didn’t give a shit about the inmates. (I suppose that’s down to the copious amounts of ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Orange is the New Black’ I’ve binged watched over the years!). Now while there were some of that nature, I was surprised to find the majority of staff Gary encountered were in fact, the very opposite.

It was really comforting to know that there are some great staff in the IPS who genuinely want to help men and women like Gary, in their quest to better themselves. The bonds Gary forms with his teachers is amazing. We should applaud this people, because they are doing wonderful things and making such a profound difference. It’s not something we hear an awful lot about, and we should.

I don’t think we should condemn our prisoners. The truth is not all of them deserve to rot in a cell. I am sure there are many who disagree with me, but I urge you to have a little empathy. You only have to read Joys of Joy to see that so many Irish Prisoners are working so hard to be better people.  As I said before, we are all only human. Joys of Joy is raw, it’s real, and every single one of us should read it before we are so quick to judge.

 

** You can purchase Joys of Joy from all good bookstores nationwide, or alternatively you can order it from the Liffey Press here **

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Why I Believe Choice is Important

So I usually refrain from posting things of a ‘controversial’ or political nature. There’s no concrete reason for this, I guess it just comes down to the fact that most of our social feeds are littered with this kind of stuff already.  Article after article of Trump indulging his inflated ego, horrific images from the devastating war in Syria, sometimes it just becomes too much. So naturally, I try to keep things pretty peachy.  Oftentimes we just want to hide away from ‘the issues’, and that’s okay. For a long time I found myself avoiding the news, because it was always ‘bad news’. It’s always something horrible, another terrorist attack, a murder, a natural disaster. It’s very seldom good news is it?

But we can’t bury our heads in the sand all of the time, and I’m starting to realise that. If you have something to say,  you should say it. If you have a strong feeling towards something, express it. If the trailblazers of the past had stayed silent, we wouldn’t be where we are today in a number of areas!

Lately in Ireland, the major issue up for contention has been Abortion and repealing the current eighth amendment. Amidst all of the activism and campaigning I’ve seen, I’ve largely stayed silent on my views. I did write a post a while back advocating that both sides should respect one another’s views, and I still stand by that. This morning I read an article that has inspired me to share my thoughts in a more comprehensive way. You dear reader, might not care or agree with what I’m about to say, but again, that’s okay.

The article I’m referring to was by student Midwife Lucy Kelly, and you can read it here. In the article, Lucy explains how working in an abortion clinic changed her opinion on the matter. Now I assumed from the first few paragraphs that this was going to be another self righteous piece condemning the ‘selfish women who murder their babies’. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. Lucy explains how in fact, the opposite occurred. Working in the clinic made her inherently more sympathetic towards the women who make these heart wrenching decisions. Her words really struck a cord with me and I just felt so compelled to pen a response.

“The thing about pro-choice is that you are stepping back and admitting that actually, you have no say in this situation. This is not your life. This is not your pregnancy.This is not your experience.”

I cannot echo these sentiments enough. I have friends and acquaintances who are pro-life, (some of which may well be reading this) and I respect their views 110%. But what I cannot understand for the life of me, is why anyone would ever want to restrict another person’s choice? I mean I mightn’t necessarily have an abortion myself, but I would like to have the choice. You never know what your circumstances may dictate.

Why are we so reluctant to give the women freedom over their own bodies? Why are we blatantly disregarding their fundamental rights? Why are we allowing women to be labelled as criminals? Where is the empathy?

The truth is no one actually wants to have an abortion. It’s not something any woman takes delight in. I can only imagine it is one of the most painful experiences one would ever have to endure. The argument that if legalised, abortion would be used as a method of contraception is quite frankly, ludicrous. Not to mention downright insulting. No one in their right mind is that irresponsible. Whenever I see that reasoning thrown about I cringe to my very core.  I mean honestly, what self respecting woman is going to wake up one day and say “fuck it, I’ll just get an abortion if I get pregnant”. I would like to think as human beings we are not that hideous.

      “The thing about pro-life is that you are promoting the rights of an unborn fetus you              know nothing about, and diminishing the autonomy of a live, grown human being who          you also know nothing about”. 

The eighth is not protecting anyone in this country. Rather it is fundamentally harming the women in our society. I read a contrasting article by a woman who chose to continue with her pregnancy, despite being told that her child would not survive a minute outside the womb. I commend this woman for her tremendous, brave and incredibly difficult decision. She remarked that she was so ‘happy the Eighth Amendment was in place. It not only protected [my baby’s] life and mine, it ensured we both received the best standard of care throughout my pregnancy and after’.

Here’s my bone of contention. The Eighth did not protect this woman. She made a decision. There was nothing stopping her from making this decision. Ironically, if another woman was in this situation, the Eighth would have hindered her decision to choose a different option. See where I’m going here?

Personally, I could not have continued with this type of pregnancy. I couldn’t carry a child for 9 months knowing that there would be no life at the end of it. I’m sure many other women feel the same, and this is why choice is so so important. To the women that don’t agree? The funny thing is, you have a choice.

The Eighth literally forces women into sub ordinance. It is just unfathomable to me that there are people who would vote against choice, in this, and every other situation where abortion is a viable option. To quote Lucy again:

“The idea that women are incompetent and unable to make sound medical and life decisions is as barbaric as beheading peasants for stealing a bowl of stew. The idea that a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy is a failure, or made a mistake, is completely ignorant. And the idea that you, as an irrelevant third party to this woman’s life, gets to have a say on what is morally or medically right for this woman and her family, is just plain arrogant”.

You might be asking then, when is it a viable option? and this is where so much of the debate lies. People are afraid of the term ‘abortion on demand’, because it invokes a fear that women are going to be aborting babies en masse. It becomes problematic when people start chiming in with their personal opinions of when and why abortion should be allowed. For instance, I was asked  recently do I think people should be allowed to abort children if they have Down Syndrome or other mental/physical retardations? I’m aware that this is something that’s happening in Iceland and other places at the moment.

Honestly? In this instance no, I wouldn’t agree with someone aborting for that reason, nor would I do it myself.

My immediate reaction is “that’s awful”, but does that give me the right to judge another person’s decision to do that? Does it mean we shouldn’t legislate for abortion because some might choose to terminate in this instance? It becomes very messy very quickly when we start conjuring up different scenarios. The fact of the matter is none of us really know what we would do in these situations until we are in them. And if and when we are? I believe we should have the widest availability of choice, even if we mightn’t agree with some of those choices.

So put simply, yes I do think people should be allowed abortion if they feel it is the best option for their circumstances, whatever the reason. It’s not for me to take personal offence to. Bottom line, we need very clear legislation and we slowly making our way towards change.

Last week the Irish Citizen’s Assembly voted on 13 reasons for which they feel a termination should or shouldn’t be lawful.  Here is a quick glimpse at some of the results:

  • 89% voted for women to be legally permitted to abortions if there is likely to be a foetal abnormality likely to result in death, before or after birth.
  • 80% voted that there should be no restriction on termination even if there was no risk of death shortly before or after birth.
  • 64% of the Assembly agreed that termination should be allowed without restriction as to reasons.
  • 72% of the Assembly feel socioeconomic reasons should allow a woman to gain an abortion. But 50% stated a termination in this case needed to take place before 22 weeks.

These results are really interesting to see. I’m glad the Irish people are so open to change. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with regards to a referendum/new laws surrounding abortion, but I can only hope the outcome will be positive.

To sum up, I’ll leave you all with one final quote from Lucy:

“I  am with these women. I’m with her. I’m with her whatever choice she makes and I trust her to make the right choice for herself and her family.”

I am with her too.

~J

 

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Little Thoughts, Big Dreams

There’s been a pattern to a lot of my blog posts of late, and it seems to be one of finding myself. I’ve talked a lot about my post college life, my struggle to adapt to ‘the real world’, gaining jobs, quitting jobs, moving countries and so on and so forth. There’s no denying it’s been a pretty chaotic time, and I’m constantly having to remind myself that I’m not even a year out of college yet!

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last number of months though. I’m discovering new aspects of my character almost every day. I’ve been surprised to discover that things I thought I would enjoy, I really don’t! It’s true the saying, you really don’t know unless you try.

Lately I’ve found myself with a yearning to really make a difference. I know that might sound a little cheesy, but I just have this strong desire to give back in some way. (Don’t worry, I won’t be turning into Mother Teresa anytime soon!). In my early years when ‘big people’ would ask me what I wanted to be, I always responded with a confident assertion of  ‘ a teacher and a best selling author’. I liked the idea of being able to help people, and impart some sort of wisdom.

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In my later years I abandoned any desire I had to become a teacher entirely. (Still holding out hope for the best selling author, mind you) ‘Not a hope in hell’ I’d scoff. Why would you want to go through 18 years of education to end up back in the very place you spent the best part of those years trying to escape? My present self realises that perhaps this thinking was a bit naive. I mean it is different, you’re on the other side of it as such. It’s not really the same.

I suppose you’re wondering where I’m going with this, well I guess the answer is I’m not really sure, but that’s the fun of it. I’m not vehemently opposed to the idea of teaching anymore. In fact, I find myself thinking more and more about it. So much so that I’ve enrolled in a TEFL (teaching English as a Foreign Language), course. I’ve always loved the English language, I’ve had a fascination with words and stories for as long as I remember. While a lot of my friends were out pucking around a sliotar, I was most likely found under a tree with my nose in a book or making up stories, reciting them to anyone who’d give me an ear. (I wasn’t the weird kid, I swear….).

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Which is why I now find myself toying with the idea of teaching my beloved language abroad. Not only is it a chance to travel the world before I get tied down in a career, but it’s the chance to really make the difference I’m after. I’m not out for self-gratification, it’s more about doing something meaningful, something I believe in,  while I figure out what it is I actually want to do with my life! I guess the good thing about my college degree is that it’s so broad. It’s both a blessing and a curse. In one way it’s difficult to figure out where I ‘fit in’ and thus what I’m ‘qualified for’. But on the other hand, I’m not pigeon holed. There’s an array of areas I can venture into and try my hand at.  I’m realising what it is I like, and what it is I absolutely hate, and that’s an exciting experience. So why not keep learning? Why not keep exploring?

As many of you know, I can’t stay in one place for too long! With Sweden, Barcelona, and London all conquered destinations,  I’m itching for another notch on my belt! Who knows where my TEFL venture will take me? 

I’ll keep you posted on the upcoming adventures 😉

~J

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My Never Ending Series of Unfortunate Events – A Collection of ‘Jessisms’.

So the other day while casually pondering life (ya know, as ya do), it occurred to me that I’ve had some pretty weird and unfortunate shit happen to me over the years. Now I know we all have our wacky experiences and encounters, but I’m starting to think that I have a significant amount more than others. After 23 years, and countless inputs from friends and family, I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘it’s just something about me.’  Apparently ‘I just have that ‘look’ (whatever that look is I’ll never know).

I’m just a recipe for disaster. A walking calamity. A magnet for mishaps. Quite a while back, I decided it might be a fun idea to compile a list of what I like to call my ‘Jessisms’, or in other words my own personal never ending series of unfortunate events. I’ve had this blog saved as a draft for some time now, and I’ve been slowly adding to it as my propensity for misfortune continues.

(Before I begin I must point out that most of these instances weren’t actually my fault, and therefore the circumstances surrounding them should not solely be put down to, clumsiness, stupidity, intoxication, or the colour of my hair).

Without further ado…

Being bitten in Coppers:

This is probably the most bizarre of them all. So there I am on my 19th birthday, minding my own business, enjoying my suddy and red to the gentle sway of Nicki Minaj in the basement of coppers. Utterly Sophisticated. When then, out of no where some middle aged bald guy runs up to me, bites me on the shoulder, and runs away. Next thing I know I’m being fussed over, your man is ‘goin to get the absolute shit kicked out of him,’  and there’s talks of tetanus and A&E in case the creature drew blood. Luckily he didn’t. Probably not surprising for coppers, but still unfortunate nonetheless.

Getting caught in the clothes line: 

It was a grand summers evening, and being the model child that I am I decided to hang out the washing for the fam. It was back in the too-young-for-a-job-days, so doing the housework would get you your 20 euro for the week. Which looking back is kind of bordering on the lines of child labour, but anyway. I had set out with great intentions, only the next thing I know I find myself literally stuck to the line. My long hair had betrayed me by getting deeply entangled in one of the pegs. The only thing I could do was stand there helplessly and hope someone would rescue me. A good forty minutes later my sister arrives back from my nan’s and sets me free. I have had a strange aversion to clothes lines ever since.

Being put in a strangers car by my father:

(Here’s looking at you Tom Keogh).

I regret to say that this one actually happened. It was around about 5 years ago, before my driving days. My dad was giving me a lift to the bus station, as I was heading back to college. All was going well, it was a seemingly inconspicuous Monday morning. That is until the car broke down less than half way through the journey. It wouldn’t have been so much of a big deal, if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a test that day that I couldn’t miss. If I missed the bus I missed the test. The car wasn’t budging and there was no one around to come to our rescue. So what does my dad do? Stands out in the middle of the road and attempts to flag down oncoming traffic. He then starts pleading with random strangers to take me and my mortified self to the bus station. Next thing I know I’m flung into a car, case in tow, with a woman called Ann and her two kids. Ann kindly threw me out at Waterford bus station some twenty minutes later, after the longest and most uncomfortable silence of my life. On the re-telling of this story my  Dad always says, “well didn’t ya make the bus?”. Yes Dad, I may have made the bus, but I can assure you my pride did not. (Also, she could’ve been a psycho killer, but whatever, “sure I made the bus”).

Accidentally using ‘Intimate feminine wipes’ on my face

Okay now this was just deceptively cruel. Who even knew such things existed? Again, not my fault. The culprits in question were bought for me under the illusion that they were, in fact, normal facial cleansing wipes. A similar incident happened shortly thereafter, when I used my nephews  “nappy rash” cream on my face. A serious dupe for sudocream let me tell you. I’ve now come to the conclusion that I need to just give up on facial products in general.

Drinking my own contact lense:

Some of you may remember this one from Facebook.

Yes I indeed happened to drink my own contact lense. I’m not proud of it, in fact it still haunts me to this day, almost exactly two years after it first occurred. It wasn’t a sick dare or anything, it was just something horribly and disgustingly unfortunate. You see, anyone with contact lenses will understand the hardship of taking them out after a night out. Sometimes you surprise yourself and manage to store them perfectly in their little containers of solution. More often times than not they can end up glued to your eyelids, left to shrivel on two plates, or in this instance floating in glasses of water. Now you can see what happened next. I’m drunk, I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m thirsty. I innocently reach for one of the glasses of water beside my bed, and well you get the rest.

Capsizing in the waters of Slovenia

Now this one was a genuine near death experience. Not being dramatic. So I’m on an inter-rail with a group of friends, and we decide to do something other than destroy our livers. That something turned out to be white-water rafting. Very adventurous of us altogether. Let me set the scene. So we’re looking sexy in our wet suits as we embark our vessel. (Which was basically a blow up floating boat, and not a raft made of sticks like I had originally imagined/secretly hoped). Our instructor ‘Yuri’ was quite the man, and ensured us we were completely safe as we navigated our way through Slovenian waters. All was going well, until all of a sudden the boat capsized. Before long we were all being flung rapidly downstream. At first we found it amusing, but after Yuri’s frantic screams of ‘this is fucking serious,’ we were in full titanic mode. The water was fairly shallow, so me being me, think ‘ah sher it’s grand I can just stand up and sort of walk back’. Disaster. Of course I’m flung back straight onto my arse and dragged across rocks, dodging trees, and screaming for my life along the way. What made me think I could walk against a rapid current, I’ll never know.  In the end I somehow managed to swim back to the raft, oar in hand, exhausted. All I could do was lay there like a wet seal and wait for the others to be rescued. Tragic stuff.

Being asked on a date to Mcdonalds by a Dublin Bus driver:

Now I know some of you might not view this as unfortunate per se, some might find it flattering. But picture the scene. It’s 11:34pm. I’m en route home from a late shift and I have to be up and back in work at 7am. All I want to do is peacefully disembark the bus and fall in to bed. I press the buzzer and I approach my stop. The bus driver seemingly innocent, turns to me and asks in the thickest Dublin accent “Dya wanna go ta Mcdonalds?”  Still genuinely not sure if he was asking me on a date, or if I looked like the type of person who frequents McDonalds. Either way I stared blankly at him, shook my head politely, disembarked the bus and ran for my life.

Wearing my leggings inside out to work:

Now I must stress that for 6 months straight I had to endure the pain of 7am starts, something my former college student self wasn’t accustomed to at the time. (My present self is now peeling herself up at 6.30am). Anywho, after my early rise I then had a bit of a bitch of a commute, so naturally these types of mishaps were bound to occur…weren’t they? Nonetheless, after my usual ritual of crying into my cereal at the foot of the stairs, I set out for work. I got on the bus, put in my earphones and tried to avoid the oncoming plague of other passengers. Only then did I happen to look down and realise that my leggings were in fact inside out. Facing an hour long commute and a further 10 minute walk to work before I could rectify the situation, there was nothing I could do. Fortunately I wasn’t the strangest creature on the bus that day.

 Being abandoned by my ‘friends’ in a dyke:

 When I was in primary school we had a dyke (which is basically a washed out ditch/trench like thing), that ran along the back of the school. Of course we were forbidden from going near it, but that never stopped us. I remember coming to school after spraining my ankle in a separate unrelated trampoline incident. I was on crutches, but my friends convinced me to come out to the dyke anyway. Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, I agreed. Next thing I know I’m being lowered into the dyke crutches and all. It was all fun and games until  someone got wind of one of the teachers coming. Everyone fled, leaving 10 year old me alone in the dyke to navigate my way out with my crutches.

Being run over by a bike in Sweden:

I think I’ll let the below speak for itself on this one. I did legitimately have a stalker in Sweden btw, but that’s a post entirely of it’s own.

Chipping my tooth on a pole in Barcelona:

Not intoxicated, just blind and laughing too much. I probably reacted a little too dramatically when this one happened, but in fairness it was one of my worst fears realised. I thought my whole tooth was gone. Plus, I hadn’t long shed my braces, so it was pretty upsetting. I did however, get to rock the ‘London Look’ for a few days.

At this stage, I think I should probably start wrapping this up! I am aware this post is probably quite long, but it has only just scratched the surface. I mean I could probably write an entire book filled with my misadventures, perhaps one day I will. For now I will leave you with these short anecdotes, in the hopes that you enjoyed reading them just as much as I enjoyed re-telling them!

As Mr Lemony Snicket himself once said:

 What might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey.

~Jessie