2018 Q2 Round-up

As I’ve mentioned previously, this year I’m investing in myself. And with every investment, you need to assess the returns regularly. My second quarter has been one of development and gratitude.

  1. Doing more of what I love. I’m still reading regularly, though I’ve been reluctant to write recently and as a result the book reviews have been put off. I’ve not written a blog post in 3 months – massive failure on my part. But I’m correcting that now, and am feeling inspired to keep at it. I’m currently reading the first GOT novel, gifted to me by my uncle. I want to see how many of the series I can get through this summer. #WinterIsComing
  2. I’m taking small steps with practicing mindfulness and Hindi.
  3. I still can’t ride a bike, but summer is the perfect time to learn!

Other updates:

  • Earlier this year I split with my partner. I was worried about the adjustment to single-life but now a few months have passed and I’m proud of how we’ve both moved on from the break-up.
  • Work-wise, I’ve also experienced a change. I no longer have to trek to Surrey every day, and am overjoyed to have moved offices within my role. Thanks to my shorter commute I now have more energy and time to spend on the things that matter most.
  • Something I’m proud to have made progress on is sustaining relationships with close friends and family. I’ve made more of an effort to meet up with friends I rarely see, and stay in touch with family members. It’s easy to get caught up in the mundanity of work-life, living for the weekend and watching it fly by. But it’s important not to let the everyday distract you from these key connections in your life. I’m happy to have got this one goal down and looking forward to seeing what Q3 brings…
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Q1 2018 Round-up

At work we analyse the year in quarters. Perhaps the corporate world is consuming me, but I find this to be a useful way to breakdown the year and reflect on personal progress.

“But what about the seasons?” I hear you say. The effects of climate change have destroyed our traditional seasons and left us in an eternal winter. It’s almost April but Spring is nowhere to be seen…

For anyone who’s interested on doing their own personal quarterly analysis, the year is as follows:

Q1: Jan – March

Q2: April – June

Q3: July – Sept

Q4: Oct – Dec

This year I’m treating myself as my own private venture by investing in my physical and mental well-being. I’m using my 2018 goals as a starting point. Let’s see how I did:

  1. Mindfulness – So I haven’t meditated fortnightly like I planned. But I have been much calmer this year. I feel more relaxed than I did last year, and when I find myself in stressful situations focusing on my breathing has helped.
  2. Learning how to – nada. But there’s plenty of time to work on this, and I can make this a priority moving forward.
  3. Doing more of what I love – Part success. I’ve read 1 book a month, though I failed to review each book. I’ve been writing more often and exercising once a week.

 

Other personal updates:

  • Finances – I’m starting to get better with budgeting and have so far been on track with my financial goals for this year.
  • Travelling – I’ve planned a number of city breaks to see more of the world and learn about other cultures. I’ve visited Naples and Istanbul this quarter. (Istanbul was on my bucket list and exploring the city gave me a new lease of life).
  • Relationships – Nurturing relationships can be the hardest but most important part of our everyday lives. I’ve distanced myself from friends who breed negativity, established new friendships and spent more time with family. I’m also finding more time to enjoy my own company.

 

The year’s only just begun but already so much has changed. Looking back at the last 3 months, the failures and successes, I know what I need to work on for Q2. Here’s to a profitable second quarter…

 

Contraception Woes Part 2: The Coil

I have a friend who swears by the coil. Her recommendation of it, along with my GP’s description made me want to try it. I knew the Pill wasn’t for me, maybe this would be better? ‘It’s what all the young girls are trying these days’ apparently…

Unfortunately it wasn’t for me. After exactly one month I had the coil removed, due to the adverse effects it had on my body. During this time I wondered why I had inflicted this upon myself. It got me thinking about how and why women have to deal with what I call ‘contraception woes’. We’re given very limited information and end up experimenting on ourselves looking for something that will have the least side effects. I wrote this piece not as a deterrent, but because my month on the coil was scary af and reading someone else’s experience would have given me some reassurance at the time.

The coil is a T-shaped device which is inserted into a woman’s womb to prevent pregnancy. There are two types: copper coil (IUD) and the hormonal coil (IUS). I tried the IUD TT380 Slimline, which is inserted into the womb and lasts up to 10 years (if it’s not removed, dislodged or infected). In comparison to the Pill, after insertion the coil isn’t something you need to remember. It’s there doing it’s job and you don’t have to worry about it. I chose the copper coil over the hormonal coil because its said to have no effect on your hormones. I wanted something that wouldn’t mess with my emotions the way the Pill did.

My GP explained the process to me beforehand, the pain and the possible side effects. I was told to take painkillers and rest after the insertion, but I wasn’t prepared for the immense pain which consumed my body that day, and everyday after.

The coil is inserted through the cervix, which is opened slightly, and then placed into the womb. The pain of insertion was the most excruciating pain I’d felt in my entire life. She told me my cervix was opened 3mm, a fraction of the size required for childbirth. Luckily it was all over very quickly, but I was in complete shock and once the device was firmly inside me I suffered severe cramps for the rest of the day.

But it was in. I’d gotten through it, right?

I had chosen the coil knowing that it might change my period flow. According to the NHS “your periods can be heavier, longer or more painful in the first 3 to 6 months after an IUD is put in. You might get spotting or bleeding between periods.” I knew what it felt like to have irregular bleeding after my first attempt with the Pill. It couldn’t be worse than that…?

“Most women who stop using an IUD do so because of vaginal bleeding and pain, although these side effects are uncommon.” (NHS)

I bled heavily everyday.

Two weeks into the coil and I started bleeding heavier than I’d ever had on my period. I started to leak through my clothes. The first day it happened I was on the tube, commuting home from work. I was in so much pain I felt faint, and I felt a heavy release downstairs. I was confused. I was wearing a tampon but I felt wet…

When I finally got off the tube I rushed to the loo to find I had severely leaked through my tampon, pants and trousers.

I was in shock and felt disgusting. I’d never seen so much blood there before. And it didn’t stop. Everyday the same thing would happen. Strangely enough it always happened around 5pm, and so rush hour became my gush hour. Another occasion I was out having Nandos with some friends when I went to the loo and saw my trousers were stained once again. Tampons became useless. After that I started wearing nighttime pads during the day. But even then, they filled up so quickly I had to change them every 2 hours just to make sure I wouldn’t leak again. I was constantly worried about the amount of blood leaving my body and whether it would spill over.

On top of that, I was in agonising pain. During a normal period I have pretty bad cramps and body aches. I know what bad cramps feel like. But the pain I experienced on the coil was completely new. Sharp pangs would strike randomly during the day. Long and intense. The irregularity of the pain would always take me by surprise. One minute I’d be thinking it’s finally working, I’m ok today, then the cramps would hit back like

BAM. SURPRISE BITCH. ME AGAIN.

Sometimes I wondered how I was going to get through the working day without curling up in pain under my desk. It became harder to concentrate and I was struggling to cope. I started taking stronger painkillers like co-codamol – but you’re not meant to take these for longer than two days and nothing really helped anyway.

Nevertheless, I didn’t want to give up on the coil. It hurt so much going in, and I knew women suffered from spotting in their first month – but this?! I was hoping it would fade away after a few weeks but the pain was agonising and the heavy bleeding made me feel weak and abnormal.

When I explained the frequency of my pains and the level of bleeding to my GP she advised we take it out. Sadly it didn’t hurt any less on the way out as it did on the way in. She checked the device over, there was nothing wrong with it. It was in the correct place and wasn’t infected, it just didn’t cooperate with my body.
After it was removed I cried, in pain and relief.
I know the coil works for some women, but it took a lot out of me that month, physically and mentally. I wasn’t prepared for the havoc it wrecked on my body. I thought taking control of my fertility and trying a different method of contraception was a good idea. But after 3 months and 3 failures I’d had enough. Enough bleeding, enough pain and enough misery. Eventually I returned to the traditional method of contraception, condoms. I’d advise anyone thinking of changing their contraception to really consider whether it’s necessary and what you’re willing to go through for it.
If something works for you, stick to it.

Contraception Woes Part 1: The Pill

Last year I decided to take a leap of faith and change my method of contraception. I was 22, in a committed relationship and tired of using condoms. Contraception has a unique impact on us all but I hope that sharing my experience can help other women looking for advice…

I was always apprehensive of the pill, the side effects terrified me and though I knew lots of young women who had tried it, I was completely put off.  Acne, weight gain and mood swings were just some of the side effects I’d heard of. Once I spoke to a GP about it I found out the full list of possible side effects (just reading it is enough to change your mind), and that it effects women in different ways. As someone who suffers from bad PMS, I didn’t want that getting worse, but was told it could possibly improve my mood swings.

At the time I didn’t have a steady GP, I just saw whoever was available when I needed an appointment (the wait time is so long as it is). I was cautious of the pill, especially after it was found to have links with depression. But I wanted to be in control of my fertility and my sex life, so I decided to try it.

I had no idea how many different types of the pill there were. If the first one didn’t suit me, the GP said I could simple try another. I was prescribed a combination pill called Levest, made with oestrogen (ethinylestradiol) and progestogen (levonorgestrel). The combination of hormones oestrogen and progestogen in the pill were said to have less impact on PMS symptoms. I had to take the pill at the same time every day for 3 weeks, then take a weeks break to have my period.

For the pill to sync with your monthly cycle you have to start taking it on the first day of you period. After the first week when my period should have ended the bleeding didn’t stop. I waited another week, still no change. Concerned, I managed to get a telephone consultation – with a male doctor – because nothing else was available. He told me it was completely normal and I should continue taking the pill. It was almost a month of bleeding by this point, and he just said that it happens to a lot of women and is to be expected. I’m sure he would have felt differently if he was bleeding downstairs for a month…

Luckily, a little while after this useless conversation, I got an appointment with a very intelligent and lovely female doctor, who is now my official GP. When I explained the side effects the pill had taken she immediately said I should try another pill which may be more suitable.

I moved on to Yasmin, another combined pill made with oestrogen (ethinylestradiol) and  progestogen (drospirenone). The irregular bleeding stopped and I was thrilled. But the high was short-lived as I started feeling more melancholy than usual. This pill made me more emotional and simply unhappy.

The side effects of both pills made me feel down, whether it was purely psychological or due to anxiety over the constant bleeding. My libido dropped and I felt like crap. But this was supposed to make me feel good and in control of my sex life, right?

I was disappointed with the pill, and after speaking to my GP I decided to try another form of contraception: the coil.

*To be continued…

Advice on travelling with your partner

During 2017 I’ve been on 4 trips with my partner, the last of which was my first experience of travelling. I was anxious before the trip, being together for such a long time and with limited access to our friends and family back home was bound to cause arguments. Who knew if we’d still be together when we got back? Long story short, we did and we learnt more about each other along the way. I’ve made a list of tips based on what I learnt while travelling with bae:

 

Plan ahead

Plan your trip out in advance. Things don’t always go to plan, but at least if you both have an idea of the things you want to see and do before you’re abroad you can make the most of your trip and your time together. Not to mention it will help you calculate the cost of activities abroad, so you’ll get a better idea of how much money to take.

 

Money

Keep your money separate. Two sets of wallets are better and safer than one. Whether you split the food bill, or want to treat each other, keep your money separate. Treat your money the same way you would if you weren’t abroad. Money is a source of conflict, and having two separate wallets shares the responsibility and means there are two pairs of eyes watching the holiday expenses.

 

Trust

If you don’t trust your partner, don’t go away with them. It seems pretty obvious, but think very carefully before agreeing to go abroad with someone. Do you feel safe with them? Are they reliable? Are they responsible?

 

Compromise

There are bound to be things you don’t want to see or do that your partner does, and vice versa. Compromising on holiday can be annoying, but it’s how relationships and holidays work. Unless you’re planning on travelling alone, you’re gonna have to compromise from time to time.

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Check on each other

Something as simple as asking whether your partner has packed their passport can be a lifesaver. Don’t think it will undermine them, checking they have the basic things they need before you fly is considerate and can be a crucial reminder. Basically, have each others back.

 

Language

Take some time to learn basic phrases in the language used at your destination, and encourage your partner to do the same. It’s useful for both of you to be able to speak to locals; it’s fun, you’ll learn something, and won’t be so isolated. It can also get you out of sticky situations e.g. if you’re lost or if one of you gets sick.

 

Don’t over do it

Literally. There’s no better time to have sex than when you’re away with your partner, but it turns out there is such a thing as having too much sex. Doing it everyday is great but will leave you both feeling sore after a while. Don’t expect more of your partner than is physically possible and don’t feel pressured to do it if you can’t one night. Take care of your body first, pack: lube, condoms and body lotion.

 

Arguments

Arguments are bound to happen, let’s be honest. Don’t blow it out of proportion or think your trip is ruined. Couples fight at home and abroad. Trips with your partner aren’t all romance and fine-dining. Travelling is a real test of your relationship, be prepared!

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Other than that, remember the basic rules of relationships:

  • Listen to each other, be considerate of each other’s feelings
  • If things go wrong, don’t blame each other, remember you’re in the same situation and can get through it together
  • Take some down time if you need to, travelling can be exhausting, but first and foremost it’s meant to be fun!

Keep an open mind and enjoy yourselves!

 

Reflections on 2017: Shortcomings & Goals

New Year’s Resolutions aren’t for me. I can’t remember the last time I made one, or know anyone who has ever stuck to one. This year I’m setting myself some goals based on what I think are the most important and realistic areas I’d like to improve on. When we reflect on our shortcomings it’s easy to be overly critical and diminish the things we’ve achieved. Be kind to yourself, take some time to accept any shortcomings you think you’ve had this year and turn it into something more positive. #personalgoals

 

  1. Mindfulness

My temper has become even shorter this year and it’s something I have been trying/failing to tame. I want to work on being more peaceful next year and stressing less. Mindfulness has been proven to lessen stress, aid mental health and physical well-being. It may be the thing I need to find my zen. I attended a mindfulness session at work and really loved it. Everyday stresses, especially surrounding work and my commute are things I can work on for next year. I am scheduling in meditation once every two weeks in 2018 as a step in the right direction.

 

2. Learning how to:

  • Ride a bike
  • Ice skate
  • Speak Hindi

These are 3 things I lack confidence with. I can’t ride a bike and was scared of falling off when I tried earlier this year. I’d love to ice skate but have no balance and am embarrassingly clumsy. As much as I want to, I’m worried I’ll hurt myself. I need to overcome my fears next year and just go for it, though that’s easier said than done.

My family speak a mixture of Gujarati and Hindi but my knowledge of it is pretty basic now. I told myself I’d visit India once I had a good grasp on the language. As Hindi is the most widely used language, I’ll start there. I surprised myself with how quickly I picked up Spanish phrases once I took the time to learn before I went to Cuba. As with any goal, it’s all about determination. This is a goal I’ve been struggling to achieve for years. I gave up learning Gujarati as a teenager, as an adult I need to persevere. Alternating the weeks of meditation sessions I will practice Hindi for one hour every fortnight. I know it won’t make me a master of the language, but every little bit helps.

 

3. Doing more of what I love

A number of hobbies have fallen by the wayside this year as my work and social life got busier. Next year I hope to have a better balance between work/friends/love/family and me-time. I’ve stopped reading. I am always thinking of things I want to write about but never find the time. I’ve stopped going to the gym. I’m creative but never draw anymore. All of these little things that make me happy have been sidelined but I plan to make them more of a priority next year. So shall it be written, so shall it be done.

As a minimum…

I will blog every fortnight – once I get an idea it has to be written that week or else be scrapped.

I will read one book per month, and write a following review.

I will exercise twice a week.

 

There’s no point in getting down about what we haven’t done this year, accept your shortcomings and set yourself some goals. My ultimate goal is to have a healthier mind and body. I want to learn and continue to grow as an individual. Whatever your goals are, be honest and kind to yourself. Look forward to the new year and all the things you can achieve.

 

Wishing you a very happy and successful new year

x

Reflections on 2017: Personal Growth & Accomplishments

2017 has been a struggle. It’s been the most difficult year of my life but at the same time it’s been a year of personal growth. As the year ends there are bound to be things we wish we could have done, or regret doing, but we can’t change the past. All we can do is learn from the year and look forward. I’m taking this time to reflect on my achievements and encourage others to do the same.

Things I’ve achieved this year:

  1. Leaving my family home.

The biggest and most significant change in my life has been my living situation. Those closest to me know what a struggle it’s been, and those that don’t don’t need to. I’m incredibly thankful that after years of living in a toxic household, scared for the safety of my mum and distraught over what felt like a hopeless situation, it’s finally over. Though the move has been a massive adjustment with its own set of problems, having a home that I feel safe in and where I know my mum will be sleeping soundly without any disruption from my father is a huge step for my family. Last December I wanted to kill myself because things had gotten so bad it felt like there was no way out. It wasn’t easy, but we’re here and I’m truly thankful to be here.

 

2. Securing my first real job!

At the start of the year I was working part time at a job I hated and was desperately looking for work. We’ve all been there. I had just graduated from my Masters and I could’t even get an interview, just rejection after rejection. I was recommended for a job by a close friend and at the time I was so depressed I had no self-belief when it came to the interviews. I had 2 tests and 3 interviews before finding out I got the job! I was shocked to say the least. I’ve been at the company for 8 months now and I really love my job and the people I work with. I was lucky enough to attend my first conference abroad in October and the experience gave me extra confidence in myself and my professional expertise. Work can be stressful but I’m really looking forward to the new year and a new set of #careergoals.

 

3. Taking a chance on love

At the start of the year I did something I never thought I would do, I went away with my partner. This might not sound radical to some, but for me going away with someone was a big deal. Not only does it require an extreme level of trust, it’s also a big commitment. For someone who is pretty uncomfortable with commitment, it was kind of scary. Relationships aren’t all roses, and neither are holidays. I went solely on instinct and feeling and I’m so glad I did. Not only did I get to visit a beautiful city (Budapest), I did so with the most amazing partner. He brought out the adventurer in me and we’ve had so many incredible trips this year it doesn’t seem real when I think about it. With crazy strict parents I was never allowed to sleep round friend’s houses, let alone leave the country. Going away with my partner allowed me to grow as an independent adult, and as a girlfriend. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and my relationship through our travels together. I can’t wait to see where 2018 takes us.