My Animals Make Me Feel Loved And Needed

Hello! Here’s a surprise blog! Blog uploads are usually on Fridays, but I thought I’d do an extra one this week! Today’s blog is a magazine article I published in a Mental Health magazine. It is called ‘My birds make me feel loved and needed.’

Friday’s blog will be about dissociation!

Now, let’s get into the article!

Being a pet parent is very rewarding in so many ways, and they always give you so much love and happiness back.

Animals have always been a huge help to me and my mental health. Taking care of my pets makes me feel like I’m actually doing something productive and good in life. I’m taking care of something that has so much trust in me. Pets are also extremely comforting, especially in the worst circumstances, and they’ve pulled me out from deep holes so many times. They provide you with good company and you can tell them anything and they will never judge you. People always say that animals know when something is wrong mentally or physically, and I can confidently say that this is the absolute truth.

I have seven pets, and every one of them provides their own way of making me feel better.

Fred, the ferret. He is the cutest little bugger ever with the sweetest little face and a beautiful white body. He is an albino ferret with red eyes, but he ain’t no demon! Sitting outside with him can cheer you up in no time as he is always running and jumping about (and knocking things over). He also has a habit of dragging his food bowl into his bed, which is quite amusing. Maybe he’s just fancying a midnight snack?

Zack and Jess are my two dogs. Jess is a jack russel, but I can’t quite remember Zack’s breed! Although, I do think he is a whippet cross. He’s a friendly giant who just loves being stroked and cuddled, and when Jess isn’t jumping all over him, he’ll lie down next to you on the grass! He’s an old boy, so the sun helps his achy bones. When he’s not being calm, he’s being crazy, and that always brings a smile to my face as he zooms around the garden with his long legs. Jess is a good girl too, even though she gets jealous rather quickly when the attention is on Zack and not her, which results in her charging towards you and making sure she becomes the new priority. She also loves strokes and cuddles, however not exactly a fan of sitting still for more than 2 seconds, so you’ll see her flying around the garden at top speed too.

Tabitha, my tabby cat, is my soulmate. I have already written a blog on her and how she helps me, but I can always mention it here too. She is always there for me whatever I’m feeling. Whether it’s my misophonia, my achy bones or my depression/anxiety playing up, she’s always there to sit with me and calm me down with her soft fur and gentle purrs. She’s witnessed me crying on many nights and has never walked away from me when those nights occurred. Instead, she sat next to me and if I was lying down, she would pad on my hair and then fall asleep on top of me, which always brings a warm and comforting feeling. She can be super funny too, zooming around the living room as fast as her chubby little body and short legs will allow her. She also loves rushing into the kitchen every time she hears the fridge open as she knows she’ll probably receive a sliver of ham or cheese, and if she doesn’t get that, she protests and ends up eating stray bits of food of the floor or, on a few occasions, drags her tongue along the kitchen counters while making sure I’m watching her.

Garfield, the ginger kitty, is so sweet. He’s much more calm than Tabitha, spending most of his days sleeping. He is also an old boy so he can’t keep up with Tabitha as much as he used to. Although, they do still chase each other every so often. He loves sitting or lying down next to me and purring, and he also loves headbutting me. Apparently headbutting is their ‘I love you’ language!

Romeo and Juliet are my two peach-faced lovebirds, and I adore them so much. They have helped me in separate ways to my other animals. My lovebirds were the reason I started going outside and fighting my paranoia. Travelling to the pet shop 20 minutes away has also opened up a friendship between me and the people who own the pet shop, which has really pulled me out of my shell! As well as this, I have met other people such as dog walkers on my trips out, and that has opened up conversation with those people too! When I first received my lovebirds, I didn’t think I’d be able to cope with their loud screeching, but three years later, I can’t imagine a life without them screaming. Juliet is also pretty funny too. She has a ball toy that has a bell in it, and she loves it to pieces. She always rolls it around the cage and rolls it towards Romeo when she feels like playing with him, and he usually rolls it back. It’s so adorable seeing them playing together.

My pets have helped me in so many ways, and I am lucky and grateful to have them!

Tabitha, my hero.

I have had my tabby cat Tabitha for quite a few years now, and even though she is getting on with her age, she still acts like a kitten, which just adds to her cute and charming personality.

When I bought her, I discovered that her previous owners had forced her to become pregnant when she was still young herself, and then they attempted to drown her. Fortunately, someone passing by had seen this and grabbed hold of her before calling the police on the horrid people.

She never used to purr when I first got her, and I suspected that that had something to do with the attempted drowning, though I was never fully sure.

Tabitha for me has been more than just a simple cat. Most pet owners understand that they become part of your family, they become your best friend. They can even become a part of who you are.

I have struggled with various mental illnesses through the years. Depression, anxiety, OCD. They’ve all been pretty hard to cope with. I even struggle with misophonia, which is a horrible and frustrating thing to live with. Misophonia is ‘hatred of specific sounds’. Similar to nails on a chalkboard, these sounds can range from people chewing, to people biting their nails, to people humming and etc. My misophonia can upset me a lot and at times, I’ve even pulled my hair out due to how upset I became.

Let’s start with this.

Tabitha probably has no idea what misophonia is, being a cat and all, but with practice over the years, she knows when I am in distress. When she sees me grabbing handfuls of my hair, she’ll make her way over to me and if I lie down, she will begin padding on my hair and purring into my ear. It’s almost like she’s saying ‘I got you. Listen to this purr instead!’

She’s padded on my hair and laid her head on top of mine when she’s seen me having anxiety attacks too, and it always calms me down when I feel that she’s there. She makes everything feel easier to manage, and when she lays down with me and cuddles me, or sits down on my knee, I feel so much better.

She has also sadly witnessed me sitting on the kitchen floor crying when my depression and/or anxiety have become too much for me. When she sees this, she comes over and ducks herself under my arms, meowing and sometimes even licking my face and headbutting my chin, making sure that I know that she’s there.

Tabitha, alongside my other pets, has always been one of the main reasons as to why I have never done anything regretful.

Who would be there to take care of her and pamper her if I was gone? Whose hair would she pad on if I was gone? Who would be the one to feed her bits of cheese from the fridge late at night because she caught them and wanted in on some of the action?

Despite Tabitha having a previously rough life, she still has so much love and so many funny moments to give, and even though she may act like a destructive kitten at times, that is what makes Tabitha, well, Tabitha. With that, I would never change her for the world.

Tabitha is my hero ❤

The affects of Covid

Since I am a UK writer, these affects will mainly be based on what happened in the UK!

Let’s start at the beginning-

Between December and March, a pandemic named Coronavirus began taking over the world, slowing down businesses and killing thousands in its wake. Over time, things became much, much worse.

Let’s take a look at Coronavirus and its effects on the world.

When Coronavirus arrived, the government created new rules. They stated that you must wear a mask, sanitize and wash your hands and social distance from others. Those who were vulnerable were sent letters from the government telling them to isolate. Companies that created masks, hand wash and soaps and hand sanitizers were much more financially stable than before, as more and more people were buying their products. This also means that these companies had to work twice as hard to make sure that their products were getting out into the world for those who needed them.

On the 16th of March in the UK, the government decided to put the UK on lockdown, including shutting down the borders, halting most public transport and cancelling everyone’s plans for the year. They also shut down schools and non-essential businesses, meaning people had to learn or work from home. This had social, mental and financial and even physical consequences.

Those who had to learn or work from home began missing out on vital interactions with other people, which took a massive toll on people’s mental health, including young children who couldn’t play with their school friends and older students studying for exams. Those who had to give up work due to health problems found life much more challenging and had to sign onto Universal Credit to receive benefits in order to survive through the pandemic. This affected those working for Universal Credit as they faced trying to support everybody who required benefits.

Many shops, especially small businesses, began closing. This also caused people to lose their jobs and face financial difficulties as well as struggles of finding another job due to no new jobs being posted because of the virus. Many people felt upset at their favourite places shutting for good and bosses and managers of these places also had the challenge of figuring out what to do next.

On the topic of closing, hairdressers also closed which brought on the whole saga of ‘Lockdown haircuts’, some not turning out quite as good as others.

Students who were currently studying for exams were faced with uncertainly and even frustration due to the government closing the schools, then opening them again and then continuing that cycle. This caused stress among students and even though they were okay with not going to school during a pandemic, they still faced concern over how they would complete their coursework and exams.

Relating to homeschooling, parents faced the stress of balancing work and taking care of their children, and many parents lost their jobs due to not being able to efficiently balance their new routine.

With homeschooling, parents had the added stress of figuring out how to help their children not just with their homework, but with entertaining them as well as making sure that they were getting exercise. This is where some parents became creative.

Some parents began building obstacle courses in their gardens for their children to complete, which gave the children exercise and a sense of accomplishment and a distraction from the issues in the world.

Other parents taught their kids how to bake cakes, how to garden and other various activities.

Poorer parents struggled to afford meals for their children, and so schools and food banks offered to continue providing meals for children and delivering them. Joining them, large supermarkets such as ASDA and Tescos began offering cheap meals for parents and kids in their cafes and other supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s also helped by donating extra food to food banks and to those struggling. Working alongside this, kind people volunteered in also delivering food parcels to people.

Lockdown also prevented people from celebrating events such as their birthdays and so the internet stepped up, finding ways to celebrate random stranger’s birthdays. Kids who couldn’t have their regular birthday parties were surprised but excited when random strangers from their neighbourhood drove past their houses with balloons and signs stating ‘Happy Birthday’ on them. This was a silver lining to the Coronavirus. People came together, even for strangers, and this was also proven when people couldn’t see their friends, their family and even their partners. People supported them, in real life and online, and provided them with comfort and love.

Not being able to see our loved ones has had a huge toll on us mentally, and for a lot of us, we will never see certain loved ones again, and that is what Coronavirus has taken from us. Losing loved ones is hard enough, but during a pandemic especially without any support has made things ten times more difficult. To add to this, funerals were also cancelled and those that weren’t cancelled, there was a limit of 15 people or less to attend, meaning some people had to miss out on the funeral. Weddings were also cancelled, or there was also a limit of people who could go, meaning people also missed out on good events.

In 2020, 3 million people died from the Coronavirus and in 2021 people still continue dying. This has put a strain on a variety of people. Their loved ones, and essential workers who have worked hard to try and keep them alive. The high number of deaths has also strained funeral workers who have been overloaded with paperwork for coffins, burials and etc. The pandemic also quickly tore through care homes, killing hundreds of vulnerable elderly people and even those who worked at the care homes.

Those making situations worse were those who refused to follow lockdown rules and continued on with their parties. The government worked with the police to break up these parties and issue fines of up to £1,000 pounds or more for those breaking the rules.

Misinformation spread around about the deadly virus. An example of this is that people were stating that young and healthy people could simply not become sick from this virus as this virus only affected those who were unwell. However, this was disproven when healthy and young people began catching it and dying. However, that did not stop younger people from believing that they were safe and continuing on with their fun lifestyles. Even ‘Influencers’ bragged about their parties on social media which stirred up upset and anger in people.

Other pieces of information were exclaimed by people, stating that more people died from the bubonic plague and from things such as heart disease every year, so the Coronavirus was not as deadly and was simply not that big of a deal. This caused upset between many people.

While it was a fact that more people had died from things such as heart disease, car accidents etc, there were a few issues with making this point.

First of all, car accidents and heart disease do not spread, hence why so many more people were panicking when this new virus came to town. This, and the fact that there was currently no treatment or cure for the virus.

Second of all, even though more people have died from these things, that should not disregard the people who have lost their lives to this deadly virus. They are not just statistics, they are people who have families, friends and partners and should not just be considered a less-numbered statistic.

Other selfish people involved those who at the start of the pandemic, began stocking up on handfuls of hand sanitisers, masks, food products and toilet rolls, meaning people including the elderly and essential workers couldn’t get what they needed, which took a mental toll of them. One essential worker posted a video of her crying in her car, exclaiming that people were so selfish and that she had a long, exhausting day at work only to arrive at a supermarket and see that the shelves were empty.

Shops began rolling out new rules. People were now only able to take so much of a certain product, such as two hand sanitisers, one or two packs of toilet rolls and a limited amount of canned food and other items. Another rule was to allow the elderly and essential workers in first so they could get what they needed. Some people who were stocking up were also fined for their greed and inconsideration.

During this, some of those who were hoarding items were selling them for twice their price, including hand sanitisers, masks and toilet roll.

With the spread and panic of Coronavirus, shop workers faced double the exhaustion and double the assault. People took their anger and frustration out on them, especially if certain products were not in store. Shop workers also had to deal with those who were refusing to wear masks. The NHS faced more pressure than ever, searching desperately for beds to fit people into and trying to deal with the high number of deaths, as well as finding ways to rehabilitate those who were recovering from the Coronavirus.

‘We support our essential workers!’ became a huge message for the UK and at 6pm every Thursday, people would go outside their homes and clap for the NHS and other essential workers to show their support.

Essential workers worked tirelessly and risked their lives to support everybody they could, and thousands losing their lives in the process. They will always be remembered for their courage.

Scams also came about during this time. Thousands were receiving scam phone calls asking them if they would like compensation for having Coronavirus. Other scams involved people physically turning up to people’s homes and asking them if they would like to buy items from them. The elderly were the main victims in this.

Before tests and vaccines were completely created and ready to dish out, another scam came around with people arriving at other’s homes and telling them that they were from the NHS and that they would be able to provide a test or a vaccine right there and then. Unfortunately, some fell victim to this and became seriously unwell, some even ending up in hospital. The NHS sent out messages to millions of people explaining that they would never arrive at someone’s home and that any vaccines would be given in a clinic by professionals.

Lockdown brought on other problems too.

The rates of domestic abuse and child abuse were raised. Abusers had more control than ever and were able to keep their victims locked inside and away from people, using lockdown to their advantage.

Suicides were also higher due to depression and other mental health problems that were affected by loneliness, isolation and uncertainly. People with mental health problems felt hopeless and had thoughts that nothing would change for the better. The pandemic even heightened drinking rates due to more people buying alcohol from stores. This affected alcoholics and even created new ones, a pandemic in itself.

Those with OCD, health anxiety and physical health conditions were also affected, afraid of catching the virus for various reasons. For those with OCD and health anxiety, they feared the virus due to their debilitating fear of germs and becoming sick with an illness. For those with physical health problems such as COPD, they feared catching the virus as they were more vulnerable than healthy people and were at a higher risk of dying if they caught it.

Other issues arose during lockdown, people buying pets such as dogs in order for them to go outside and walk them, only to abandon them when they didn’t need them anymore. This put pressure on animal shelters to try and take in all the abandoned animals and find them good homes before time ran out.

In lockdown, people found ways to entertain themselves, which brought on a small silver lining. People began rapidly buying consoles such as the Nintendo switch and began playing multiplayer games such as Animal Crossing to pass the time and engage with people virtually as they couldn’t hang out in real life. People also completed things that they’d been meaning to complete a while ago such as completing novels and art pieces. Other people learned new hobbies and skills such as gardening and knitting.

People also kept fit while in lockdown, finding creative ways to exercise as gyms had also closed.

Zoom calls helped out with this, groups of people coming together to exercise with each other virtually. Zoom calls also helped teachers to provide their students with online lessons, much to the dismay of some students.

There was another positive to lockdown which was shown all around the world.

The air became less polluted, the sun appeared more and more animals began coming out of hiding due to the fresh clean air and cleaner waters. This proved that without the pollution from cars and other sources, the world is much more breathable.

Adding the last point, TV programmes were cancelled and programmes such as soaps only had so many episodes that they could release, meaning that instead of the five episodes a week, episodes were reduced down to just two or three episodes a week, much to the annoyance of many people who loved their soaps and other programmes. When these programmes began filming again, we seen a ‘new normal’. Actors were social distances and wearing masks during filming and even mentioning the virus during episodes. Despite the Coronavirus being very real, it was strange to see fictional characters discussing it.

With tests being created and vaccines rolling out among other safety measures such as social distancing and masks, all we can do is support those who have been affected by the virus, including those who are currently suffering with COVID symptoms, and keep our hope that our future will become much brighter and more safer in the end.

Mental health and hygiene

Today’s blog will be a short blog focusing on hygiene and mental health, and why those with mental illness may find hygiene hard to maintain.

Some people with mental illness may find it hard to maintain good hygiene. People who don’t understand may call this laziness, when in fact it is due to the lack of energy and motivation, especially as mental illness can be very exhausting to deal with on a daily basis, and some people with mental illness can also find it difficult to leave their bed.

Those who struggle to maintain good hygiene can feel shame, embarrassment and even guilt, especially if somebody points it out, for example pointing out how they looked like they haven’t brushed their hair or teeth.

Personally, when I was struggling with depression, I found it hard to keep up with brushing my teeth and washing myself. This made me feel very embarrassed, and some people may be thinking ‘Well why didn’t you just brush your teeth and get a bath!?’

I hated the feeling of brushing my teeth, it’s hard to explain, but it always felt gross to me, whether it was the toothbrush or the feeling of the toothpaste I can’t remember, but back then I didn’t brush my teeth as much as I should have, and that led to many toothaches and many tooth fillings.

As for bathing, I didn’t bathe as much as I should have either. Getting undressed, bathing and getting out to get dried and dressed again was such an exhausting process, and when I really needed to bathe, I dreaded that process and most of the time, I ended up putting it off for another day or two until I felt less tired.

Over time, my depression decreased. It’s a bit hard to explain exactly how this happened, but I think there was a number of reasons as to how I began overcoming my depression, but that’s a story for another day.

However, while I struggled with depression, I created myself a small ‘Hygiene bag’ for those days where maintaining hygiene seemed too exhausting.

Let’s talk about what was in it!

-A small brush

-Deodrant and roll-on deodrants

-A bar of soap. Washing myself using water from the sink was actually less tiring than getting a bath.

-Baby wipes. These felt so refreshing to use when I couldn’t properly wash myself!

-Gum and mouthwash. These felt like life savers when I couldn’t face brushing my teeth.

This might not seem like much, but it is what I needed at the time. You can add other products in too, such as combs, floss, toothbrush and toothpaste if you want to add those, cloths to wash your face with, razors (If deemed safe to use and won’t be used for any other purpose other than shaving) and anything else you think is important enough to add in.

To conclude this short blog, I have a message to two types of people who are reading this.

To those struggling with hygiene, whether it is due to mental illness or a physical disability, I see you and I understand you, and it is perfectly okay to struggle with this. You are not lazy and you are certainly not disgusting. You are trying.

To those who don’t struggle with maintaining hygiene, I promise you, those who are struggling are not lazy and are not disgusting, and if anything, they need encouragement, not judgement.

Thanks for reading!

A HIV/AIDS blog

This will be a short but informative blog on HIV and AIDS.

To start off, let’s look at the definitions of HIV and AIDS.

HIV- Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV damages cells in a human’s immune system which weakens the immune system and prevents it from repairing itself. This opens the person up to infections and serious illnesses as the immune system lacks the cells it requires in order to fight off these infections and illnesses. If HIV is left untreated, this can lead to AIDS, an even more serious disease that can be life-threatening. 

HIV can spread from person to person through blood, breast milk and fluids through sexual encounters. However, despite HIV being a serious illness and having the ability to spread, if HIV is caught early enough, the person with HIV can begin effective treatment and can go on to live a long and healthy life with the potential of not developing AIDS. Early diagnosis is also important as it can reduce the risk of HIV spreading to others as it can become easier to control with the proper treatment.

The diagnosis of HIV includes finger prick tests and home testing/sampling kits, however it is advised that you see a doctor for an official HIV test. Symptoms of HIV include symptoms that are commonly associated with the flu such as a sore throat, tiredness, joint and muscle pain and swollen glands. Body rashes may also appear. 

AIDS- Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is developed from untreated HIV and can be much more life-threatening as the immune system is almost completely weakened, leaving open many opportunities for the person with AIDS to become hospitalised or worse. AIDS CANNOT spread from person to person as it the advanced version of HIV. Symptoms of AIDS include weight loss, diarrhoea and constant infections and serious illnesses due to the weakened immune system.

Now let’s have a look at the treatments available for HIV.

Emergency HIV drugs, also known as post-exposure prophylaxis drugs, can be taken if you think you have been in contact with someone who has HIV, for example, if you have had sex with them. This medication is taken for one month.

Antiretroviral drugs are the main drugs that are taken for when you have been diagnosed with HIV. There are many types of retroviral drugs that your doctor will discuss with you. These drugs work by preventing the virus from replicating itself, which gives the immune system time to repair itself, therefore preventing potential life-threatening illnesses and the development of AIDS.

Other treatments regard herbal remedies that some people rely on. However, these remedies are recommended to be used alongside scientifically tested drugs and herbal medicines also need to be discussed with a doctor as some herbal treatments can cause a negative reaction with certain medications.

Herbal treatments for HIV mainly involve milk thistle, however this has not been researched into enough to see how effective it really is, but it is said to help out with symptoms of HIV.

Other treatments involve-

-Vitamins and minerals and medical marijuana.

-Massages, yoga and acupuncture to help with relaxation and reducing stress on the body and the mind.

Moving onto stigma and discrimination-

The most common stigma of HIV is that only certain types of groups and people can get it. WRONG! ANYONE can get it! 

This was a huge stigma back in the 1980’s. Unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t understand how HIV was actually spread and they also believed that only gay people could have HIV, which largely increased discrimination and homophobia against gay people which included banning them out of clubs and even some healthcare providers refused to give them treatment. Many people believed that gay people deserved it purely for being gay, and they tried hard to avoid gay people, believing that HIV was spread much easier than it actually was.

People to this day still believe that only gay people can have HIV and people also say that those with HIV deserve to have HIV purely for the fact that they are ‘sleeping around and being irresponsible with sex.’ when that is just not the case at all.

Those with HIV, past and present, can develop a negative self-image of themselves and even believe some of the stigma, telling themselves that they do deserve to have HIV because of how responsible they have been. They become embarrassed and refuse to talk about their HIV, even going as far as to not consulting a friend, family member or doctor straight away for fear of stigma and discrimination, which is why it is so important that we spread the correct information about HIV and AIDS, and ensure that people are educated on this hidden subject.

A crime blog- The murder of Joanne Nelson on Valentine’s day 2005

Valentine’s day is a holiday that regards love, romance and companionship. Couples spend time appreciating each other and some even make plans for their future. Unfortunately though, this was not the case for Joanne Nelson.

On Valentine’s day in 2005, a 22-year-old woman named Joanne Nelson disappeared from her home in Hull which is the fourth largest city in Yorkshire.

Joanne Nelson was described as a loving and caring young woman. She was in a relationship with a man named Paul Dyson, who was 30, and they both lived in a house together.

On Valentine’s day morning, Joanne did not turn up to work at the local job centre, and there were no calls from her to let anybody know that she would not be coming in.

At 9pm, she was reported missing to the police by her boyfriend, Paul Dyson.

Following this, Paul Dyson was interviewed on TV, appealing for the public’s help and the hope of Joanne’s safe return through tears and sobs.

However, something didn’t seem quite right.

Police brought Paul in for questioning and during this time, police, volunteers and even the army began a huge manhunt for Joanne.

During Dyson’s questioning, Dyson was showing signs of lying. His tears during the interview and the police questioning seemed exaggerated, one expert saying that it looked like he was ‘forcing’ the tears and the sobs.

Another thing that was noticed during this police interview were crescent-shaped fingernail marks on Dyson’s hands and thumbs, and when questioned whether he had hurt Joanne or not, he simply replied with ‘I loved her’. When he was pressured once more into answering whether he had hurt her or not, he admitted that they had both had an argument on Valentine’s day morning about house chores, mainly about loading the washing machine, but then he left the house for work and when he returned, Joanne was gone. Following this, he insisted that he didn’t hurt her. Throughout this interview, Dyson showed little eye contact.

The search for Joanne continued for over a month, and 40 days later on March 24th, a black bin bag tied up with tape in a Yorkshire woods 75 miles away was discovered.

Detective Superintendent Higgins found the bin bag in the woodland area and soon made an even more horrific discovery, describing that ‘A part of the bin bag looked shaped, like a leg was inside.’ Upon further discovery, the body was confirmed to be that of Joanne Nelson who went missing in February.

Whoever left her body in that woods intended for Joanne to not be discovered, at least for a long time.

An autopsy on her body was performed and they discovered that her cause of death was strangulation by another person’s hands. Her hands and feet had also been bound together by string.

Before the police could question Paul Dyson further, a confession had been made.

His own mother had turned him in to the police, telling them that Paul Dyson had confessed to a friend about the murder of Joanne, and being concerned, his friend told her about what Paul had confessed to.

Paul Dyson told his friend; ‘She is not coming back. I know that she is dead and gone.’

Backed into a corner, Paul Dyson finally confessed to the murder of Joanne Nelson and a timeline of her death was made.

On Valentine’s day morning, Joanne and Paul had gotten into an argument about housework, and in a fit of rage, Paul wrapped his hands around her neck and strangled her until she stopped breathing.

After this, he was seen in a local shop buying bin bags, rubber gloves and disinfectant spray. Some sources say that he also drove to his mother’s home to collect a garden fork that was likely used to bury her body, but other sources differ by saying that the bag containing her body was only dumped into the woodland.

After returning from his mother’s, he was very polite towards his neighbour, asking her if she had a good holiday and also telling her that he and Joanne were planning on buying a cat and were previously discussing what items they would buy for the cat. Everything seemed normal to the neighbour and even when the neighbour asked him if Joanne was doing well, he replied ‘Yes, she’s fine.’ However, this was all a show on Paul’s side.

When he returned to his home, he bound Joanne’s hands and feet with string and placed her body inside the bin bag before securing it with tape.

Paul Dyson then drove to Howden to fill his car up with petrol before heading 75 miles away to a woodland area in North Yorkshire before dumping Joanne’s body and heading home, later reporting her as missing.

After Paul confessed to the murder of Joanne Nelson, in November 2005 he was convicted of her murder and was sentenced to life in prison with a maximum sentence of 16 years before he was able to apply for parole.

The court discussed his sickening actions, describing him as an evil individual and mentioning that he had no issue with murdering Joanne as he had not called for help from neighbours, police or an ambulance.

Joanne’s parents said that they were ‘happy and relieved to have her returned to them, however they now needed time to grieve for their precious loss.’

Unfortunately, 14 years after Paul’s life sentence, in the year 2019, the family were to learn that Paul Dyson, who by that point was 45-years-old, had been moved to an open prison where he would remain there for the next 2 years of his maximum sentence. In the year 2021, he may be eligible for parole.

A cold and calculated man who had no qualms about murdering an innocent, kind and loving woman. A man who took part in police interrogations and TV interviews, playing victim all while knowing that he was the one who killed his girlfriend, Joanne Nelson.

A blog about jealousy

A new blog! An honest blog…

This blog was pretty hard for me to write. I admit to my flaws and my mistakes. I admit to how I used to be.

I’ve been through a few things in life that have mashed up my confidence and self-esteem.

For example, one of my boyfriends once cheated on me with his ex, which led me to believe all sorts of negative things about myself, including believing that I wasn’t good enough to be in a relationship.

It was a low point in my life, as were other problems I went through. The regular emotion of ‘jealousy’ quickly developed into a monster ready to pounce, always waiting for the right opportunity to overpower me and throw me into a pit that was hard to climb out of.

I became jealous towards pretty much everything, and this lead to the downfall of many of my friendships and relationships.

I became jealous over people’s success, over people’s wonderful partners, over people who had wonderful friends and even more so if they talked about going places with their friends. I became jealous of people who had good jobs and especially those who didn’t have a mental illness stopping them from having a job or going to college or university. I also became easily jealous of those who seemed to be successful and popular online.

It ruined me.

I had breakdowns, believing that I wasn’t good enough for anything and that I would never be good enough for anything. I felt useless, and at points believed it would have been better if I wasn’t here.

But I pushed through.

I can’t remember the exact moment I pushed through, or what caused me to keep fighting, but I did. Now, I have became so much better. I feel happy for people. I feel proud of people. I celebrate people’s successes and excitement. It fills my heart with love when I see people doing well in life.

Even though I still have low moments where I may feel a little bit jealous over someone’s wonderful relationship or super cool job, (Or the fact they can do certain things without being stopped by illness), I know that I am still doing well in life. I have amazing online friends, an amazing family, I have adorable and funny pets, I have a house, and I also have fulfilling hobbies and interests that keep me sane!

That’s all that matters.

Obstacles I have overcome

*A small trigger warning for these mentions:

‘The thought of work experience made me not want to live anymore’.
‘Anxiety has caused me to harm myself’.
However no graphic things are mentioned with these!

Living with mental health problems such as anxiety, OCD and depression, I’ve had many obstacles in life that I never knew I’d be able to overcome, mainly when it came to my anxiety.

To start off, my anxiety is a rollercoaster.

Some days, I feel great! I’m ready to go out there, and conquer the world. However other days, I just want to stay in bed and forget that the outside world exists.

I won’t discuss the graphic areas, but anxiety has messed with my mind to the point where when it came to work experience, I didn’t feel like living anymore. I was so afraid of embarrassing myself or getting something wrong, that I thought that not being alive was much better than facing any of those problems. Come to think of it, I did pretty well at work experience, and any issues I came across, I relaxed and smiled and at times even laughed at my mistakes, because we’re all human, and we’ve all made them, and anyone who casts judgement is instantly in the wrong, as I can bet anything in the world that they have also made mistakes before, and even regretted them!

My anxiety has also caused me to harm myself before, but again, I won’t go too far into that. Just know that I am still here, and I’m still fighting every damn day.

I once received a letter telling me that I had won an award for Health and Social Care and that I was to go to school and receive the award in front of a room full of people.

Now most people would be ecstatic at the idea of winning an award, especially if they were like me, and had never won one before. However, I glared at the offending piece of paper before storming upstairs and crying.

When I had calmed down, I contacted a teacher who I felt safe talking to, and she told me that I deserved the award, and everybody really wanted to see me receive it after everything I had gone through.

Taking a deep breath on the day, trying to calm my racing heart, I stepped onto the stage, and the room clapped, and I smiled. I smiled so hard as that award was given to me, and in that moment, I felt so proud of myself, that even the anxiety took a backseat!

Going on buses was also a huge fear of mine, but we’ll get into that in a minute.

Going OUTSIDE was a huge fear of mine. Even popping over to the shop, which was one minute away from my house, caused me severe panic and even paranoia. I felt watched by so many eyes, but over time, I learned that people don’t actually care about you as much as you might think, and so taking this knowledge, I tackled my panic and paranoia, and not only began walking to the shop, but also taking daily walks, and hell, even going into the busy town on my own!

Back to the buses, I was very fearful at ending up at the wrong place, and every bus journey my heart raced, my eyes staring out of the window to ensure that I was in the right place. By doing on the buses more and more, I soon overcome my fear of this, and now I absolutely adore going on the bus!

Talking about another small fear of mine. Calling people, and being called. Dear oh dear that was a nightmare and a half. I refused to answer the phone every time my mam told me the phone was ringing, and I know that definitely brought up some frustration in her, especially if she was busy. I also refused to answer the door, which again, probably didn’t make her too happy, but I was so paranoid back then. I’m glad that I have overcome most of this paranoia now though (Including the time I thought that there were cameras everywhere in my house, watching me!)

I remember being recommended to help out at a food bank. I loved the idea of helping poor and vulnerable people out, but it didn’t stop my anxiety from butting in and telling me all the bad things that could possibly happen. Needless to say, me and dad had a small argument as he didn’t quite understand my anxiety and why I was feeling and behaving the way I was. But, he and my mam encouraged me to push through, and so I attended the food bank, and even made a couple of friends there! It was definitely worth it going to the food bank once a month, and I’m really glad I did it.

To conclude, I have met many obstacles in my life, and overcame so many, and even though I still have a way to go, I know that the future holds positive things for me.

Distraction Boxes

Hello everyone! Today’s blog is about distraction boxes. I will be covering what they are, how they help and what I have inside mine!

Distraction boxes are boxes that contain different items that interact with different senses. For example, things you can touch such as stress balls or small teddy bears, things you can smell such as essential oils, things you can taste such as sweets and chocolate, and visually pleasing or calming things such as colouring books or wordsearches.

Distraction boxes aren’t for everyone of course, but personally, I find them super useful because they have been able to help me greatly when I have felt upset or overwhelmed and in need of a distraction. I am really happy with how my distraction box has worked out.

In my distraction box I have:

-two wordsearch books and highlighters

-A puzzle book

-A stress ball in the shape of a llama

-A stress ball in the shape of a cat

-A fidget spinner that has two ends both shaped like paws

-A light up glitter ball that when lit up in the dark, it looks like thousands of fireflies or moving stars are on the walls and the ceiling and the floor

-Two nice smelling lip balms

-A little box with water in it and two little colourful plastic birds floating inside it

-A fidget cube

-A small notebook that I can write my thoughts and feelings down in if I really need to and pens

-A tangle toy

-Stress teddies (an orange fox, a hedgehog, a dog teddy, a regular small teddy bear and a blue cat)

-Stress balls in the shape of fruit that smell really nice (A peach, a strawberry and a watermelon)

-A thing I got from the aquarium that is similar to the bird thing, but it is a plastic tube filled with water and has plastic fish floating inside it)

-Tissues

-Hand creams

-Stickers

These are the things that I have in my distractions box, but you can put anything you want in yours! There are some really good distraction box ideas on Pinterest but making a distraction box can be trial and error until you find what exactly calms you down and makes you happy.

Thank you for reading xx

What my mental illnesses have taught me.

I have depression, social anxiety and generalised anxiety disorder and OCD. Here’s what my mental health conditions taught me.

Both of my anxiety disorders have taught me that fear is a liar. Nobody is judging you, especially strangers, you’re not going to be ran over by the car zooming past you, nobody is going to come up and stab you, it is your anxiety telling you that these things will happen. I always look at my anxiety as a scared 7-year-old, telling me ‘Don’t go to this place. I’m scared!” But I have to tell this 7-year-old that there is nothing to fear, and that we are going to the event or doing something whether they like it or not. The only way for me to battle my anxiety, is to face it and tell it that we are doing it and it can’t stop me, because there is nothing to feel afraid of, and that we’re all here for the same reason. For example, months ago, I was asked to volunteer at a food pantry. I was petrified and on the edge of not going, but with a push from my parents and the people at the food pantry, I went. Everyone at the food pantry was there for the same reason, to provide help to those in need, and by going, I met my new friend, Anya.

My depression has taught me that you have no idea how people are really feeling or what is going through their mind, and what challenges they are battling. That’s why you need to be kind to people. My depression changed me to where I’m much more compassionate and thoughtful, and it has made me realise how mentally strong I really am and how I can get through hard times. A hard lesson I had to learn while suffering bad depression, is that I am allowed to lower my expectations, I am allowed to write less words for my story than I had planned, I am allowed to not talk to anyone if it was to overwhelm me and I am allowed to create my own boundaries if it means I feel protected and comfortable. Relating to this, I have learned not to compare myself to other people’s mental illness journeys. Some of us can do things while others can’t, and some of us can’t do things that others can, and that’s okay. Just because we can ‘function’ better than others doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the right support, care and treatment. Also, relapses are part of the journey, and relapses don’t equal failure and that all of our hard progress is gone. We are allowed to relapse and we must be gentle to ourselves and others who relapse. We need support and care, not shame and guilt.

My OCD has taught me that anybody could have anything going on in their mind at any moment, and we’d have no idea. My OCD causes me to have scary and upsetting intrusive thoughts, and I used to think that I was a horrid person for having those thoughts, but I know that my thoughts are not my choice, and I am allowed to lose control of my mind, because I know that I would never partake in those thoughts. In fact, my intrusive thoughts attack what frightens me the most, such as losing my parents and horrid imagery involving eyes or nails and jumpscares, which can cause me to physically jump. I also have intrusive thoughts on other things which I don’t want to include. I believe that intrusive thoughts are not as talked about, because they are horrifying to talk about and we fear that other people may see us as ‘freaks’ or something else that is just as upsetting and degrading.

All of my mental illnesses have taught me that I am vulnerable but I am allowed to be open and reach out for help, and that doesn’t equal weakness. It has taught me that I am allowed to create boundaries for myself, and if others don’t like that, then they don’t have to stay. I cannot force people to stay no matter how hard I want to, but I have made some amazing friends online who have stayed with me for a long time, and I love them so much. I become happy in order to keep others happy, because I know what it feels like to feel sad, to feel forgotten about and to feel that no one cares about me. Everybody deserves someone who makes them feel wanted and remembered, and I want to be that star that everybody looks to for direction, because many people have been that star for me already. Now it’s time for me to return the favour.