Exams & Self Care

mental health

It’s that time again for many students exam season . As we all know exams can be very stressful and challenging and this can have a negative impact on our mental health. Sometimes we feel we have a lot of pressure to do well from outsiders. You may feel that if you don’t reach your targets or your not the best in your class you will have a higher chance of failing your exams. This can be hard as we are always told in school your grades affect what jobs you will be able to do in the future and what kind of career you will be able to have.

I feel that during this very stressful period a lot of us forget about giving ourselves a break and actually remember to be kind not just to others but also to ourselves. We are told a lot about taking breaks during our revision time but I sometimes find this hard as I’m not sure when to use it.

So looking back on doing my exams from doing my GCSE’s to BTECS I thought I would share with you some self care ideas you could do in between revision and your exams.

During my revision time I can get very distracted and find it hard to remember information.

To help me with getting less distracted and help me to ground myself I like to think of a letter from the alphabet and then come up with as many objects I can see beginning with that letter in the room I am in.

Or I like to do the 5,4,3,2,1 activity. This is were you think of:

5 things you can see

4 things you can touch

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 say one of your greatest achievements out loud

Sometimes you might just want to forget about the revision and just relax. I love to listen to my favourite music or maybe watch a video by one of my favourite YouTubers or a TV program.

If I have a longer break I enjoy taking my dog out for a walk in the fresh air and grounding myself in the here and now with nature.

You could maybe do some easy baking like a chocolate fridge cake. You could get creative and do some drawing or painting. You could make yourself a board with nice things others have said to you to help boost your confidence when revising for a tricky subject.

Another thing I like to do in between revision is go on websites such as Pinterest and look at lovely inspiring quotes and funny pictures of animals .

Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat regular meals. Listen to your body it is not a race everyone has different energy levels and study levels. If you are struggling with anything tell a family member, friend or someone you trust they can support you.

Please remember all that matters is that you try your best, we are not defined by our grades, you are worth so much more never forget that!

My Horse Riding Journey Through The Years So Far….

Riding for the Disabled Association

As some of you may know recently Riding for the Disabled launched their 50 Faces Campaign. I am very lucky and pleased to say I am part of for this campaign. So this got me thinking about how my horse riding and love for horses journey began.

The first time I sat on a horse I was terrified. I only managed a few steps and then just had to get off. You wouldn’t believe me now if I told you. I love going horse riding I look forward to my Saturday morning lessons like mad. I would ride everyday if I could! Going horse riding helps me to stay and be more positive I have found that horse riding and just being with the horses and ponies really does wonders to positively impacting on my mental health.

Just been out on a hack with King.

One primary school holiday I did try horse riding again with Camp Mohawk at a nearby stables to the centre. I remember doing a bit of trotting for the first time with a leader and our riding instructor. When my parents came to lead me around the hacks we would go on. After the summer holidays I decided that I wanted to do weekly lessons at the stables as I enjoyed it so much. At that stables I normally would ride Candy or King. King was a very naughty Pony!

One of my first lessons on Anya.

Whilst riding at this stables my mum came across Riding for the Disabled Association and put me on the waiting list. It was lovely when we got a phone call from South Bucks RDA asking if I would like to come for an assessment as I had been on the waiting list for a very long time. I remember on the way to the stables I was so excited but when I got there I didn’t want to get on. After a bit of persuading I got on and I’m so happy and glad I did. The first pony I ever rode at South Bucks RDA was called Barbie she was lovely by the end of the assessment I didn’t want to get off!

Charlie Girl

And that’s when amazing life changing journey with horses and ponies started. Since that first assessment I have achieved things I never thought would be possible. Horse riding has helped my self esteem and confidence massively. From doing The Countryside Challange and Dressage Competitions at Regional and National level, doing horse riding and horse care as part of my Short Course PE GCSE to meeting Princess Anne!

Rosette from The Countryside Challange 2011.

National Championships with Bonnie 2012.

RDA massively helped me when I was getting bullied. The horses and ponies are like my best friends and I trust them more than people! When I went horse riding I could just forget about the things happening at school. I felt safe and it is a place where I can focus on what I can do and it’s not about what I can’t do. I love all the horses and ponies at RDA with all their different personalities. I have grown a massive bond with the horses and ponies at RDA I call them my Saturday morning pets! The bond between horse and rider is so beautiful, unique and powerful theirs nothing else quite like it!

RDA isn’t just a place where I go riding every week it’s a family. All the grooms and volunteers are amazing without them I wouldn’t of been able to achieve what I have! RDA changed my life and continues too I don’t think I’d still be here if it wasn’t for the RDA. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

To find out more about the RDA visit: https://www.rda.org.uk

Want to meet all of The 50 Faces visit: https://www.rda.org.uk/50-faces/

Down On The Farm Update: Meet George

life

Recently on the farm we have said hello to some a new addition to the family a goat called George.

When George first came to the farm he was very shy and didn’t really like people going near him or being touched. He enjoyed his own company so was put in a separate field for a bit, away from the other goats; but next door to them so he could watch them from a distance.

George was also a bit chubby as his previous owners liked to spoil him. At the beginning he was a very fussy and picky eater and wouldn’t eat anything off the floor. Now though he loves to eat what the other goats eat. I recently gave him some spinach which he loved however we still need to work on getting him to eat off the floor as he loves to be hand fed best of all!

He does have a couple of problems with his coat such as bald patches and lots of dry skin. So he has his own very special grooming brush that not any of the other goats can use. Through working with him one to one he has grown in confidence massively. I enjoy grooming him getting rid of excess dry skin and dust out of his cot. By doing this George is now more trusting around people and likes to have a bit of attention and fuss. Which I love. I also find grooming him very relaxing myself.

He can now live in the same field as the other goats Erik, Molly and Dolly. Erik and George do sometimes have play fights together as they both want to be leader of the group. They can be like school boys fighting in the school playground. But somehow to George’s disappointment Erik is still head goat and likes to keep him in check and tells him off every now and again.

It’s been lovely to get to know George and I enjoy working with him. I can’t wait to work with him more and watch him grow.

Body Image & Peer Pressure At School

mental health

This week is Mental Health Awareness week, the theme this year is Body Image. The way bullies treated me through my school life really had a massive negative affected on my mental health and how I saw myself compared to my peer group . It still affects me to this day.

Growing up at school with a disability was very hard for me . I looked different from my peer group as I wore a leg splint on my right leg . I couldn’t wear girls shoes as my splint couldn’t fit into many shoes at all sob I had to wear boys school shoes. I remember their came a time when I had to wear trainers to school and I got picked on a lot because my peer group didn’t understand why I could wear trainers and they couldn’t. I’d get called a teachers pet in class all the time.

I remember I would get bullied because of the designs I had on my splint other kids would say they were childish.As well as calling and shouting out words down the corridor when they saw me from “cripple”or a “spastic” to telling me they would cut off my legs. The bullying from wearing a splint got so bad I decided I wouldn’t wear a skirt to school so that my splint wouldn’t show so much. But of course when it came to summer and the warm weather other girls would bully me for not wearing a skirt but instead still wearing trousers like I did in the colder months. I remember this one time when I took off my splint because sometimes it would rub so much and my foot would be red and sore and another student told me they would break my leg so I wouldn’t need to wear a splint. When I came home at the end of the day I would wish I didn’t have to wear one in the hope the bullies would stop. I just wanted to feel accepted and normal.

Unfortunately the bullying didn’t stop their I was also bullied for having curly hair . At school I remember it was really fashionable to have straight hair, however mine was curly. I remember I used to think I was friends with these’s other girls who were popular. They would pour hot and fizzy drinks in my hair and tell me it was shampoo and that I needed to straighten it. But when I did straighten it they would always say it wasn’t straight enough. Having curly hair really affected me for a very long time but now I am on a journey to loving my natural curly hair but that’s a whole different post in it’s self.

One other massive thing that affected my body confidence growing up was having facial hair. I got bullied loads because of it, not just my peer group or other students in different years but also by some members of staff. Bullies made my life miserable. I began to feel scared just at the thought of having to go to school and knowing people would laugh and point. Walking down the corridors or going to the canteen for lunch was so horrible and scary I was always on edge. Other students would shout at me from down the corridors and call me names like Frida Kahlo. I remember this group of girls who threatened to pour acid on me if I didn’t get rid of it. Other students started to try and make rumours about me; I would sometimes just hear people laughing at me as I walked past as I was trying not to make eye contact wishing the ground would swallow me up.

Harnaam Kaur photo from Instagram.

One of my helpers was really lovely and tried to help me. I remember the day she told me one day about a lady called Harnaam Kaur. Harnaam Kaur also known as the bearded dame is a body positivity warrior and activist. She has a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of 16 she decided to embrace herself for who she is. She stopped removing her facial hair just because others didn’t like it.

Harnaam really helped me to not feel like a freak and that I wasn’t alone. Bullies made me want to end my life. With all the horrible things that happened to me at school. However Harnaam helped me to stay true to myself. I now get rid of my facial hair but because I want to not because I feel I have to in order to please others!

Though what happened to me was horrible I am now on a never ending journey with trying to be more body positive as well as building up my self -esteem, confidence and self worth.

Find out more about body image: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/body-image-report/exec-summary

Makeup Model at Iver Makeup Academy

life

Recently I was a makeup model for students studying at Iver Makeup Academy. I thought I would share with you my experience of the day. The workshop for the day was makeup for different skin tones. For the day I was modelling for a student called Tillie, during the day the students had to complete two makeup looks assignment briefs.

The first look the students had to do in the morning was a very natural makeup look more suitable for the daytime.

I found it really interesting to see how Tillie did my foundation as I find looking for the right foundation in shops such as Boots or Superdrug really difficult as most foundations are either to dark or light for my skin tone. I learnt a lot about how I can create a more flawless foundation look by using different coloured and different tones of foundations in different areas on my face. For example I need to put a more orange tone foundation under my eyes so I don’t look too grey or shiny under my eyes.

In this photo I have a more natural foundation lightly applied to my face. Tillie also applied a pink toned blusher to the apples of my cheeks, a little bit of mascara to my eyelashes to give them a bit more volume and a lip balm to my lips.

Finished look for the more natural makeup look.

In the afternoon the students had a brief to do more glam evening makeup look. The looks they needed to create had to feature a smokey eye. They had to work with the first look they created and turn it into an evening makeup look.

Tillie decided to give me a gold and purple smokey eye I was so pleased as gold and purple are my favourite colours and I like the way the two colours work together. She then gave me fake lashes then added a thine line of eyeliner to give the look more of a glam feel but also to help give my eyes more definition.

The gold and purple smokey eye.

Here Tillie is using a cotton bud to help get my lipliner into the corners.

The finished glam look!

Model and Makeup Artist.

I really enjoyed working with Tillie for the day and hope to work with her again soon. She is an amazing MUA in training, Checkout her Instagram account @thebronzerbandit to see more of her fantastic work!

Guest Blogger My Dad: How Riding for the Disabled has helped Bryony

Riding for the Disabled Association

Bryony started with the South Bucks branch of Riding for the Disabled (RDA) from the age of 8. As her Dad, I’ve got a lot of pleasure seeing how they have helped her overcome some of her problems whilst riding.

But before we get into that, I must confess that sometime in the last century I was also a keen horse rider: my mum had a horse called Blaze and, given her back problems, I became Blaze’s main rider for a few years. I mucked him out (sometimes), I prepared him for shows and won a few rosettes at the local Pony Club Events.

But while the few photos I have are of show events, my memories are quite different. I remember the togetherness of riding him over a round of small jumps with no saddle and no bridle (although I don’t remember how!). And my best memories are of sitting on his back revising for my “O” levels while he grazed on the grass in our small paddock. The type of togetherness that can bind man and animal, or, in this case, boy and horse. I didn’t have a lot of friends at school and Blaze was probably my best friend that summer.

So I can easily understand how the RDA has helped Bryony, how it continues to help, and hopefully help in the future. Her 45 minutes every Saturday morning are one of the top highlights of the week as she becomes a very different person. She becomes much more confident and self-assured, almost literally discarding her other issues as she gets on her horse at mid-day on Saturday. Her horse, whether it be Mabel or Billy, senses that Bryony is in charge. The horse may be led (usually by Hazel), but Bryony is definitely the boss. Her concentration is evident to us, her family, but we see something others don’t. We see that the issues and concerns that are very visible for most of the week are simply not there once she is riding. No-one is threatening her, or making fun of her, and that is clear from her appearance and confidence on the horse. I can’t remember when we last saw her have a fit on the horse, whilst she continues to have such episodes at home when she is not on a horse. Maybe it is the girl/horse relationship, maybe it is the nurturing and care of RDA staff, or more likely it is both of these. As Bryony puts it: the RDA is a second caring family to her and that’s an amazing thing to have when one is six foot up in the air on a very strong four-legged animal!

Bryony started this blog last year and we both hope that while it helps her, it can also help its readers, and can help others discover the pleasures – and very real benefits – provided by the RDA.

The Disabled Blogger Tag

disability

If you are a regular reader of my blog or follow me on my social media platforms, you will know that I am passionate about talking about disability. I want to help raise awareness of living with a disability but also help others who have disabilities too to feel not alone. I also want to show others that we might be disabled but we are still have lots of things in common with able bodied people. After all what is normal?

Image from Canva.

I decided to start a blog as I already had an instagram account called defeating disability which I used to document my life though photos. I then decided that I wanted to write about my experiences and thoughts this then lead onto me creating defeating disability the blog! My first ever blog post was last year back in May 2018 and it was about The Riding for the Disabled Association.

Image from Google Images.

I did intend to talk about my disability online from the beginning as I first started defeating disability on Instagram. The first ideas for starting a blog was because I wanted to share my experiences with living life with a disability and show others just because someone maybe disabled that doesn’t mean they can not achieve want they want and that we all have hopes and dreams for our future disabled or not. As well as this around the time I started the blog I was looking into supported living so I wanted to document my experiences with going and living in supported living. Showing others that a future is possible and that a future comes in many different shapes, ways and sizes.

Image from Google Images.

Yes, In the beginning I wasn’t sure if writing about my disability was a good idea because I wasn’t sure how it would be perceived. But now looking back I am so glad I did because I have been able to help other disabled young people . From writing and talking about my disability I now get quite a few messages from people saying that they now are beginning to see that not all disabilities are visible and that if someone comes out of a disabled cubical that doesn’t mean they are ” faking ” being disability.

Image from Google Images.

I get quite a few comments now from people telling me when they read my blog posts they now have a bit or more of a understanding about what it is like to live with an invisible disability daily.

I don’t just talk about disability other topics included Mental Health, Performing Arts, Life ,Recipes and lots more. I have some very exciting new content ideas I hope to use soon!

Image from Google Images.

This is definitely an area I need to work on! I like to lots of photos and pictures in my posts to help break down my writing I also like to use photos that help to illustrate what I’m writing about.

I enjoy blogging about my disability because I am able to share my experiences and this can really help others with disabilities to feel not alone.I also have had messages from people who have disabled relatives or friends saying some of my posts have really helped them to understand more about things disabled people can face and live with on a daily basic . I love writing about my experiences with Riding for the Disabled and how this incredible charity has helped me for many years and continues to help me. I have had messages from lots of people saying that by reading my posts about RDA they now want to do horse riding lessons which I think is just amazing! I enjoy also raising awareness for invisible disabilities.

This one is a hard question for me as I feel that they all my blog posts have a powerful message to share. But if I had to choose I’d probably go for:

1. How horse riding helped me through getting bullied ( TRIGGER WARNING) – This blog post is about how horse riding helped me to keep going when I was getting bullied at school and just wanted to not be here anymore.

2. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover- This blog post is all about living with an invisible disability.

3. A letter to the education system- This blog post is all about the struggles I have had trying to access higher education with a disability.

Images from Google Images and Instagram.

I think that their are starting to become more disabled Bloggers and Youtubers entering the community but I think we still have along way to go. I think more brands and companies could work more with disabled Bloggers and Youtubers for example by dong more collabs. I think that disability still needs to be represented in the media more as we are part of society.

Image from Canva

Sometimes I may find it hard but I try and find inspiration from other bloggers or I do sometimes like using websites such as Pinterest to look for ideas. I will always try and write about just normal things I do as I enjoy sharing what I’ve been up too I can sometimes relate it to a disability storytime .

Image from Google Images.

I think that blogging about disability can help to change people’s perceptions however I think blogging about disability can also help others to understand the challenges disabled people can face.More importantly I think blogging about disability and not making it a big thing can show others that the disabled community has more in common with them as they may think!

WHO DO YOU TAG?

I tag anyone who is a disabled Blogger/YouTuber who wants to be involved with this tag created by blogger Elin Williams who is behind the disability and lifestyle blog “My Blurred World”.

Spending Time With Lily

life

Fun walks out with Lily.

Recently I met my support worker’s Mixed Border Collie called Lily . When I am with my support worker I can choose what activities I would like to do with them. As the weathers been so lovely and sunny recently I decided I wanted to meet their dog as I had heard so many great things about her.

I also decided I wanted to meet her as I was feeling upset about things and I know spending time with my pets and other animals really helps to lift my mood backup again. I find that spending time with animals really helps me to feel good about myself as I feel that animals don’t judge me and just accept me for who I am and all they want is your love and care.

Enjoying the river.

I decided I wanted to take Lily to the river as it was a really lovely warm sunny day. She could enjoy herself but still keep cool by playing and spending time in the river trying to talk to the all the ducks and a couple of swans.

Watching me about to throw the stick.

At the river I enjoy playing fetch with her throwing sticks for her constantly and seeing her leap about in the water to get it . Splashing everywhere and everything in sight; but still keeping nice and cool and in the process.

I’ve caught it!

Lily going for a swim.

The next time I was with my support worker I was feeling really tired due to having lots of seizures. So I decided I wanted to just spend time at home in the garden enjoying the amazing warm weather. Together we decided I would love to just spend some time with Lily in the garden.

Once we got Lily and showed her the garden she was running around everywhere wanting to explore everything! She even tried to go into the fishpond thinking it was her own personal mini swimming pool.

I’ve caught the ball!

I enjoyed playing football with her. She made me laugh so much because she wouldn’t drop the ball but she wanted it thrown again. I think she might need to work on her drop command a bit more!

My Ball!

Look I’ve got the ball!

Lily practicing her sitting command whilst waiting for fresh water.

I really enjoyed my time playing with Lily and I look forward to playing with her even more sometime soon!

The House Of Extraordinary People TV Programme : Why I Think Shows Like This Are So Important

mental health

The House Of Extraordinary People Channel 5. Photo from https://www.whatsontv.co.uk/events/house-extraordinary-people-channel-5-18-mar-19/

The House Of Extraordinary People is a three part documentary on Channel 5. The show follows 9 people with unusual appearances which challenge the views on what “beauty ” is and it really means in today’s society. They live together for 10 days confronting public prejudices and facing their own biggest fears but giving each other support throughout the whole time.

From getting jobs at restaurants interacting with members of the public to going for a spa day and letting spa staff do beauty treatments on them. As well as doing a bit of speed dating.

Watching this documentary really helped me to feel more self confident in myself and I wish shows like this were more around when I was at secondary school. By watching this documentary it made me feel that I am not alone and that I’m not such an outsider. Throughout my school years I was very badly bullied because of my disability and the way I looked compared to other girls in my year. Other students made me feel like a freak. Going through all of this everyday at school and sometimes on social media made me want to end my life.

At school I felt that I had a lot of peer pressure from the way I dressed to how I had my hair or the shoes I wore to even who I was and wasn’t allowed to speak too. Otherwise I would be dropped out of what I thought at the time was my friendship group. I think even now the level of peer pressure for young people has grown massively and it will continue to do so and the pressure will get worse.

This documentary really helped me to celebrate rather than hate the things that make me unique. I think that documentary’s like this one should be shown to students in their lessons as I feel it could really help to build up confidence and self love. I also think this would help children and young adults to realise that we all come in all different shapes and sizes and we all can look different and that shouldn’t be frowned upon.

I think children should be taught about how everyone is different and beautiful in their own way at primary school as I feel this effects more younger children than we think. I also think that if children go through bad experiences because of how they or others feel about them or see them can have a huge negative impact on the child’s life many more years down the line.

Throughout my life I have had low body confidence, low self esteem, low self worth to name a few. Their were times I wished I looked more “normal” that I fitted in or that I looked like the girls in magazines to celebrities I thought were really pretty. I just hated the way I looked I found it hard to look in the mirror everything I saw on myself I hated and I wished I could change it. I feel if documentaries like this one was shown to me by school I would have understood more and believed that their is no definition on what “beautiful ” is because we all have different ways we see beauty in ourselves and others.

Lastly this show has helped me to really embrace myself for who I am on the inside it’s not only about the way we look on the outside. I believe more documentaries like this one should be made as I think it would help people of all ages with their own mental health.

Communicating With Colours

mental health

When I am at college I sometimes find expressing my emotions to others very challenging. As I can feel threatened in this environment due to my past experiences at school with being bullied. The bullying affected me so much doctors diagnosed me with PTSD. To help me process and communicate with others I sometimes use communication aids to help me express myself in ways I feel safe and comfortable to do so.

To help me communicate with others I have done Lego Therapy with my support staff but also in small groups with other students. Lego Therapy is all about trying to identify your emotions by putting a colour to it. For example my happy colour is yellow and my safe colour is green. I use Lego because sometimes I might be feeling more than one emotion so we stack the Lego bricks onto each other.

Lego helps me because in the past whilst doing this with other students I have had to do our whole week in colour. By seeing my week visually using Lego has helped me to understand that my emotions can be mixed and that is ok. Doing this has helped me to identify why I might be feeling upset and other emotions during the week. Talking it through with colours makes me feel more relaxed in sharing how I maybe feeling to others. By dong group sessions it has helped me to understand that I am not “silly” for feeling some emotions as others can feel similar emotions to me in some situations.

By using colour I have been able to cope better with my feelings and thoughts rushing around in my head at 100 miles an hour. Sometimes when this happens I don’t know what’s going on.However if I can find a colour that best describes how I am feeling this can help to slow down my thought process into a more manageable way and it becomes less scary and less overwhelming for me.

I use this to also help me to tell others how the voices I live with are making me feel. I have coloured circles attached to my bag which I take with me all the time. Each circle is a different colour with the emotion it makes me feel on it too. So if I am out and about and feel I can’t tell someone how I am I can show them the coloured circle I am feeling. By having the circles with me makes it more discreet when out and about as I don’t need to get Lego out.

I find using this resource also really useful after I have had a seizure as I can find it very hard to communicate with others because I find it hard to speak or I am hard for others to understand.

I am now able to use this if I need to when I’m out and about with support workers, my family and friends. Using Lego has helped me a lot in understanding emotions and that it is ok to have mixed emotions!