#ClaireNotes – August 2017

There were two major things that happened during the month of August, one of which is probably the opportunity of a lifetime…!

#IamARTEMISIA

Hands down the biggest opportunity to date involving my blog is when I was asked by the Network of Young Women Leaders to take part in an exhibition in collaboration with the amazeball that is Steven Levi Vella called #IamARTEMISIA. For those who don’t know who Artemisia is, you can read her story here.

Being ong of the 100 ‘Remarkable Women’ that came from all backgrounds and occupations made me so proud of being alive in that moment. I also struck a conversation with one of my inspirations, Tamara Webb, who’s a popular local photographer/fitness queen, who was also part of the exhibition herself. Check out the selfie I took with her here!

 

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Retail no MORE!

I know what you’re thinking… wasn’t it just last month that you started working in retail? And you already gave up?! Let me stop you there: I haven’t given up. I needed some money to help me with my car lessons, which are soon coming to an end as I will be applying for both the theory and practical tests very soon, and the rest of the money that I was saving over the past several months is going towards the Car Fund (ie. to buy my first car!)

But a lot happened… I was working during the day from 8am til 1pm with children. Okay, so that’s only 5 hours for you, but imagine five hours of running after 6-year old children who think you are a zombie and so keep pretend-punching you all over your body to pretend-kill you.

Yeah. Thought so.

So after a month, I had to say goodbye to the staff I worked with, who were super nice and understanding about my situation. I explained that the day job had to take priority over the evening job because it could boost my full-time job résumé.

Dogs and Horses

If I had to describe Thursday 24th August on one word, it would be: HEAVEN. I had an outing with my students and two other classes at the Dog & Mount Services, located in Mosta and Marsa respectively.

Those who know me know I am OBSESSED with animals, especially dogs. I never had a dog as a pet, but my bestfriend has had around six during our 12-year friendship, and I get along with them really well (except for Satan, hehehehe), and 50% of my Instagram feed is dogs and baby animals, so… yeah.

Anyways, back on topic: we saw all the service dogs there, most of which were super nice, and then two policemen showed us some tricks… and I managed to take a few photos of the lovely dogs in action! The students enjoyed this a lot too.

Afterwards, we went to Marsa to visit the police horses in their stables… and I managed to feed two of the horses! And, while there, they had around five dogs (not police dogs, they were found roaming the streets and the Police there decided to keep all five!) and they were so friendly that none of the children were scared of them. They actually played with them the whole time we were there!


So this is what happened during the month of August! September is going to be a good one from what I can sense, so follow my blog and subscribe to my mailing list to hear about the rest of the months and my other posts!

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The Symptoms of Depression Nobody Talks About

Depression is often very misunderstood. Some believe it means simply being sad and unmotivated, when in reality, the symptoms of depression often have a way of infiltrating everything, from the smallest, most unsuspecting details, to the biggest, most significant aspects. And trying to explain this often feels like trying to hold onto water.

I did a lot of research on this, both as a curious person and a sufferer of mental health illnesses, which is why it took me over two weeks to publish it.

By opening the dialogue and trying to put words to these symptoms, we can continue to deepen our understanding and unveil the misunderstanding that leads to stigma. 

Here is what I found out:

  • Wanting to say what’s on your mind, but can’t explain it, so you just cry because you don’t even know what you’re feeling
  • The exhaustion is equally mental as it is physical. Mental exhaustion from having to apologize for who you are, from trying to convince yourself you deserve to be alive. The physical and mental exhaustion from living in general
  • The black hole felt in the core of being. It sucks in life, motivation, concentration, etc. It’s drowning in the the ocean in the middle of a tempest
  • Not showering, combing your hair, brushing your teeth or changing clothes for a long time. Basically, all hygiene just goes out the window
  • When having an episode but you are not so far gone, and part of your rational mind is telling you there’s no reason to feel that way, yet the dark part of your mind still won’t release its grip
  • You can see and take in your surroundings, but you don’t feel a part of it, as if in a dream
  • When you’re depressed, your ability to feel joy from the things you normally love fades, but the worst days are the days where you are so numb you can barely even feel compassion or empathy
  • Your aching body from staying still all day, whether from laying in bed or just sitting. People think people with depression are just lazy for doing so
  • Disassociation. When you are so depressed and consumed you are no longer yourself. It feels like you are in a videogame. There is no emotional connection to reality
  • When you are so tired you do not manage to get to places in time. It takes you a lot of energy to get up, get ready and go
  • Not knowing that something is wrong in the early stage, and hurting other people with your behavior, and this is of course not done on purpose. This results in people accusing you of the things caused by the illnesses you could not control
  • The amount of migraines you struggle with when you go through depressive episodes which makes dealing with everything a million times harder
  • Anger, agitation, irritability and the feeling of having little to no self-control. This often gets to a point where you cannot bottle it up anymore, and you go down a downward spiral over the simplest, smallest of things because you cannot manage your emotions. Basically, depression is anger turned inwards
  • Thinking depression will be passed on to your children, and you cannot explain this because it is not tangible. Fact: children are more likely to develop mental health problems if their parents experienced them
  • This one is for the ladies: your period reacts to your emotional stress level and depression can cause you so much stress because people don’t understand, your period sometimes either stops or it just keeps going and becomes super irregular and painful
  • You are not able to talk and voice your thoughts because depression makes you believe your opinion does not matter
  • Sometimes you think: am I just exhausted because of my sleep schedule? Or because my mind hasn’t stopped working or stressing for days? That constant need to rationalize your mental health makes the depression symptoms even worse
  • Preoccupation. Depression can make you preoccupy yourself with game apps and simple things I know I can do or change because I feel that I can’t change or control anything else in my life
  • Promiscuity. You get so down and depressed you just want to do anything to feel better, even though you hurt yourself at the same time
  • The internal frustration that you are too scared, guilty or embarrassed to speak out because there is still so much stigma and lack of services, and people who say they are there for you when actually they aren’t. So you just end up drowning in your own thoughts and your depression or anxiety worsens

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  • Paranoia. You think that people are getting annoyed with you and the awful symptoms
  • One minute you’re having fun with your friends and family, and then it hits you hard and begin to shut down without an explanation, nothing to have triggered it. Suddenly you have trouble enjoying yourself with people you are happy around
  • Foggy thinking, making it impossible to concentrate or remember anything
  • Gaining weight because you don’t know what else to do. Or the weight loss because you are just not hungry and don’t have the energy to cook
  • You’re guilty all the time. Hurting friends and family, lying about why you can’t do something or go somewhere, not going to work, staying in bed all day, not taking proper care of your responsibilities… It’s consuming and never ending
  • The uncertainty. You don’t know if you’re going to wake up in the same horrid mood, a worse or better one. Not knowing if one day you’re going to stop functioning. Not knowing whether you will be able to keep your job while keeping your head above water
  • Cancelling plans last minute, having your friends and family think you don’t love then when this occurs constantly
  • You don’t know if your thoughts are real of just effects of depression feeding you lies. You feel betrayed by your own brain and you’re not able to distinguish the true and depressive thoughts
  • The need to put on an act so everyone thinks you are OK, but inside you feel worthless. Sometimes you just want to shout that you are suffering and cannot cope, but you’re made to feel like you are not allowed to show weakness. The exhaustion and the physical pain caused by holding back tears because you have to appear to function well at home, at work and in social situations
  • Not knowing how to explain why you are depressed. People constantly ask you “What’s making you depressed?” or “Why are you depressed?”. It’s hard to keep saying that you have no clue. Because if you knew, you would have loved telling them and fix it, but it’s tough… you just don’t know why. You just are
  • Awareness. Awareness of all the things that are wrong, but the inability to fix any of it
  • The physical and emotional pain and weariness and feeling like you have to apologize for all of it. It’s exhausting!
  • Wanting to put yourself in dangerous situations. Depression isn’t always about laying in your bed, it also can be the urge to be self-destructive. People don’t talk about this because it’s a kind of a grey space. You’re not really suicidal, but you have a kind of urge to put yourself in dangerous situation
  • When you’re typically a super responsible, organized person, and you slowly feel all of it start to unravel. You start showing up late to work, falling behind on tasks, stop eating, start praying that your kids (if you have them) won’t notice and you put on that fake smile and try to keep it all together. Through tears and self-doubt, you pull through for them because they need you
  • Thinking you’re no longer in love with the love of your life. Becoming paranoid of them thinking they’re bad for you. It causes the partner to feel unloved, no matter if you still say ‘I love you,’ they can feel it
  • When every decision, no matter how small or big, becomes an insurmountable burden because of your indecisive mind. Then the guilt of having made a decision that always seems to be the wrong one. And then more guilt that makes you think you are useless to anyone in the world including yourself
  • Selfishness. You tend to isolate yourself and put your depression first, and the rest second. Depression takes the spotlight, and everyone and everything else is in the backseat
  • Constipation. Whether it’s because of something bad you ate, the medication or because all you do is sleep. It takes you weeks to start getting back to normal, and nothing prolongs the cloud in your head than feeling bloated and sick on top of lack of motivation and self-deprecation

It is important to remember that no matter how much you are struggling or how overwhelming your symptoms may feel, you are never alone and you are worthy and deserving of help.

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Shein Wishlist

I am currently in London enjoying myself,
but I also want YOU to enjoy yourselves by reading a post!
So here goes! Be back on the 27th July!

Related post: Zaful Wishlist

Like I did with Zaful, I decided to create a wishlist from Shein, another website that sells fashionable yet oh-so VERY fashionable clothes, shoes and accessories. The links to the objects I chose for my wishlist are in order of the pictures.

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Photo credit goes to SheIn.com, as I own none of these (yet!)
  1. http://bit.ly/2vUKIor
  2. http://bit.ly/2uCEJoi
  3. http://bit.ly/2vBPbcR
  4. http://bit.ly/2uVcLPH
  5. http://bit.ly/2wIJHNF
  6. http://bit.ly/2hZtlNi
  7. http://bit.ly/2uUXCOs
  8. http://bit.ly/2vCkaWi
  9. http://bit.ly/2w3Ii7p
  10. http://bit.ly/2fFKcnt
  11. http://bit.ly/2uGPqC2
  12. http://bit.ly/2w6owXM

I decided to broaden my wishlist to not just articles of clothing, but also accessories. Usually when I search for clothes I search for simple, plain colours/patterns. But since it’s about time to start experimenting with fashion (I am 23 and not getting any younger), I also mixed things up with more colours and patterns.

The most you will see are florals. I am falling in love more each day with this print and have more floral printed clothes than I should have. I am also loving culottes, even though I am yet to own my first pair.

What do YOU like from Shein? Anything I should consider to buy? Let me know in the comments below!

Dim the Spotlight on… Chester Bennington [#3]

THIS IS A NEW SERIES WHICH CONSISTS OF ME LOOKING BACK AT ARTISTS I LOVE AND HAVE INFLUENCED ME THAT ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER ALIVE.


If the previous DtSo post was tough to write, then this one is a hundred times tougher. I found out about Chester’s demise during the Hamlet intermission last Thursday… so that’s one whole week of research upon research. I saved and bookmarked up to thirty – yes, thirty! – articles. Despite the fact that I knew about the singer’s turbulent past, I still wanted to base this post on more facts that you might not have been aware of.

Warning: A very long post is ahead of you, you’ve been warned.

Continue reading Dim the Spotlight on… Chester Bennington [#3]

Zaful Wishlist

I am currently in London enjoying myself,
but I also want YOU to enjoy yourselves by reading a post!
So here goes! Be back on the 27th July!


My mortal enemy right now? Shopping. Trying to save up for a car (including gas expenses, insurance and in case something needs to be fixed) is really hard, especially when you’re also saving up for travelling, and have to buy medications almost every 2-3 weeks.

But all this is a-changing: I have juggling two jobs (more on that here) and saving up as much as I can. In fact, last I shopped was to buy breath spray, which I needed. But a girl can dream right?

So I created some wishlists to help motivate my money saving, starting with Zaful. I browsed all the website, which took me almost all morning, and I narrowed down the things I loved to 12, which are:

zaful wishlist pic
Photo credits to Zaful. I own none of these (yet)!
  1. http://www.zaful.com/long-sleeve-buttons-tiny-floral-maxi-dress-p_292705.html
  2. http://www.zaful.com/off-shoulder-pineapple-embroidered-top-p_290784.html
  3. http://www.zaful.com/floral-cold-shoulder-wrap-dress-p_278086.html
  4. http://www.zaful.com/12pcs-fancy-gradient-color-taper-angular-makeup-brushes-set-p_282162.html 
  5. http://www.zaful.com/multiway-floral-wide-leg-palazzo-jumpsuit-p_283435.html
  6. http://www.zaful.com/chunky-frame-round-sunglasses-p_252894.html
  7. http://www.zaful.com/skinny-cartoon-adventure-time-print-gym-leggings-p_223447.html
  8. http://www.zaful.com/vanity-makeup-organizer-p_242010.html
  9. http://www.zaful.com/slimming-ombre-yoga-leggings-p_291431.html
  10. http://www.zaful.com/letter-bowknot-cold-shoulder-top-p_290719.html  
  11. http://www.zaful.com/striped-tube-crop-top-and-high-slit-pants-p_285528.html
  12. http://www.zaful.com/high-neck-high-waisted-bikini-set-p_292532.html

I decided to broaden my wishlist to not just articles of clothing, but also accessories. Usually when I search for clothes I search for simple, plain colours/patterns. But since it’s about time to start experimenting with fashion (I am 23 and not getting any younger), I also mixed things up with more colours and patterns.

The most you will see are florals. I am falling in love more each day with this print and have more floral printed clothes than I should have. I am also loving culottes, even though I am yet to own my first pair.

What do YOU like from Zaful? Anything I should consider to buy? Let me know in the comments below!

Summer Must-Haves // 2017

I am currently in London enjoying myself,
but I also want YOU to enjoy yourselves by reading a post!
So here goes! Be back on the 27th July!


denim skirts

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There’s different ways you can wear this wardrobe staple throughout the year, but the best accessory for summer is definitely a plain white t-shirt (scroll further down) and beautifully tanned legs.

off-the-shoulder tops

Probably one of my favourite trends I can never wear because of my big… assets. Maybe someday I will have the guts and small assets to wear these tops. The bonus is that you can wear these with anything.

denim jackets

I probably have over four denim jackets in my wardrobe – one of which is vintage Levi’s – and I wear each one of them with different things. And if someone tells you not to double denim an outfit, go triple denim (is this possible? Anyone?)

backpacks

I probably have more backpacks than any other type of bag. Not only are they cute, but they are also very spacious and good for travelling (you gotta look good for the locals you know!). Will I be buying more?… Don’t test me.

bodycon dresses

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Because of the bumps and lumps I call my body, I cannot wear these without looking like a jelly twisted with a piece of rope all around. But I love looking at these and they’re nice for a date night, a BFF bonding date and so much more.

soft shorts

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Perfect for girls who have thighs like mine or cannot  tolerate denim shorts stuck to their body because of the heat. You can wear this either with a smart or a casual outfit. Many materials and colours to choose from!

t-shirt dresses

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The comfiest kind of dress out there.. You can team them up with heels, boots, tennis shoes, sandals… you name it! If it’s plain, add patterns, and the other way round. Win-win.

peasant blouses

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This summer has seen the comeback of the peasant blouses. Most of them have embroideries with patterns and colours.

stripes

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If anyone ever said that this trend is going out of fashion, they are absolutely wrong. A trend that was inspired by the nautical style, it has been in and out of style over the years, but has stuck over the last few years.

white tees

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This timeless trend dates back to the Footloose days, and has been a trendsetter ever since I knew what fashion and style meant. Pair with classic denim jeans and white trainers and you’re perfect.

crop tops

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Subject to many controversies, yet we still love them. Should women with a bit of pooch round the mid-area wear them? I personally think that anyone can wear anything they want s long they feel comfortable and confident in their outfits. And there’s mini different types of crop tops you could wear.

florals

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I hope florals never go out of fashion because I love them. Colourful, big and bright are three things I wish my clothes were more of (I’m trying, don’t judge me!). I own a few floral printed items of clothing but I am still struggling to go full-mode floral like the first photo. But I will… someday.

Things Only People Who Work in Clothes Shops Understand Too Well

After a two-year absence from the retail scene, I have returned to earn a little side cash for my Mustang (or, you know, something of that sort). I’ve done retail for three years in two different shops, and I have seen numerous shite happening while I was on duty.

These are just some of them…

 


Getting annoyed when your friends make weekend plans and you have to turn them down because you’re doing the closing at 8pm. Again.

"No, I can't get off early."

Being asked whether something is on sale when it obviously isn’t.

"Oh it doesn't say it's on sale? Well it's probably not on sale then."

“Oh it doesn’t say it’s on sale? Well it’s probably not on sale then.”

“Does it show a discounted price? No? Use your head, ma’am.”

When customers pick something up and don’t put it back in the same place.

How very CONSIDERATE of you.

How very CONSIDERATE of you for giving me something to do.

The importance of making sure every hanger is facing the same way.

And that every row of hangers is evenly spaced.

And that every row of hangers is evenly spaced.

The very specific pain you can only understand if you’ve been on your feet for more than 8 hours straight.

When you’re asked to explain the returns policy and you’re like, “SURE I’D LOVE TO READ YOUR RECEIPT TO YOU.”

Just don't buy things you don't want, OK?

Just don’t buy things you don’t want and we’ll both live.

The art of using a folding board correctly.

And then lining up every shirt perfectly.

And lining up every shirt perfectly, and in size order.

When a customer tells you to enjoy your weekend, even though you’re very obviously working instead of enjoying.

When a customer says, “You must be exhausted!” and you’re like, “YEAH, NO SHIT.”

When a customer comes out of a changing room and you have to tell them they look great even when they don’t.

Um, maybe if it were opposites day.

“That floral top with bright colours and studs all over is so in, ma’am!”

Being handed a shirt that someone has just tried on and left makeup all over.

Hating Christmas by Dec. 1 because you’ve been surrounded by decorations for MONTHS.

If you see one more set of flashing lights...

 

If you see one more set of flashing lights…

Not to mention never wanting to hear Christmas music ever again.

And then being asked to wrap all your family’s Christmas presents because, you know, you’re so good at it.

Damn you, gift wrap.

Of course, the only thing worse than Christmas is January sales.

When people take 1,000 items into a changing room and leave 999 of them scrunched up in a pile on the floor.

 Or they hand them to you thinking you have nothing better to do.

The moment you’re about to take a break and suddenly the shop is full again.

"JUST LET ME EAT."

 

“JUST LET ME EAT IN PEACE.”

When all you want to do is sleep but all you’re allowed to do is greet.

"Hey! Welcome! Have a great day!" Bleurghhhhhh.

 “Hey! Welcome! Have a great day!” Bleurghhhhhh.

The intense fury that builds up inside you as a customer pays exclusively in coins.

Especially if they put the coins on the table instead of in your outreached palm.

"I'm not diseased. You can touch my hand."

When an item doesn’t scan and the customer jokes that it must be free.

"What an original joke. I have certainly never heard that one before. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL."

“What an original joke. I have certainly never heard that one before. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.”

Finishing your shift at 6 p.m. and having to rest instead of drinking with your friends.

Feeling close to tears every time you’re asked to put together a window display.

People who are “just looking”.

People who are “just looking” two minutes before the shop closes.

"No, honestly. Take your time. It's not like your casual browsing is affecting my evening plans. OH YEAH IT IS."

“No, honestly. Take your time. It’s not like your casual browsing is affecting my evening plans. OH YEAH IT IS.”

When someone asks you to get your manager and you’re like, “Oh sure, I’d love to get my manager.”

"Because I'm obviously not capable of dealing with your very difficult problem myself."

“Because I’m obviously not capable of dealing with your very difficult problem myself.”

When a customer tries to use a discount voucher that expired three years ago.

"Can you READ?"

 

“Can you READ?”

Or worse, when a customer tries to return something that has very clearly been worn.

When you don’t know whether the card machine’s being glitchy or the customer just doesn’t have enough money.

"I'M SORRY, I DON'T ENJOY THIS ANY MORE THAN YOU DO."

FINALLY being given a weekend off, and being called at the last minute to cover someone else’s shift.

Like why. Why.

Dim the Spotlight on… Robin Williams [#2]

THIS IS A NEW SERIES WHICH CONSISTS OF ME LOOKING BACK AT ARTISTS I LOVE AND HAVE INFLUENCED ME THAT ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER ALIVE.


This is quite a difficult post to write; I’ve had to do a lot of research on the matter and I was quite surprised with what I found about the comedian’s untimely death. My earliest memory of his acting was either in Jumanji or Mrs Doubtfire when I was still a child.

The assumption was the Robin Williams ended his life due to struggles with depression, which he was known to have dealt with when he was still alive. And I will repeat again: this was the assumption.

In a recent interview, Susan Williams, Robin’s widow, revealed that he was actually struggling with dementia with Lewy Bodies – also called Lewy Body dementia. While making the loss of such a beloved individual no less tragic, this does throw a different light on matters.

So what is Dementia with Lewy Bodies?

Dementia with Lewy Bodies is not as common or well known as depression, or the more familiar forms of dementia, most obviously Alzheimer’s disease. However, even among the grim spectrum of neurological disorders and mental illnesses, dementia with Lewy Bodies is a particularly nasty condition.

Put simply, Lewy Bodies are lumps, known as aggregates, of misshapen protein (of the type Alpha-synuclein) that occur in nerve cells (neurons) of people with certain conditions, most often Parkinson’s disease, and but also (obviously) dementia with Lewy Bodies. Cells as complex and important as neurons produce a bewildering array of proteins, to aid in the necessary functions and form the delicate cytoskeletal structure in place to maintain everything.

The most likely people to develop dementia with Lewy Bodies are men, aged early 60s to 70s. Sadly, Robin Williams fell right into this category.

So it wasn’t depression after all?

As Susan Williams said, if Robin Williams had depression at the time of his death, it was one of countless other symptoms he was dealing with. A look at the very brief summary shows just how all-consuming dementia with Lewy Bodies can be.

But depression and dementia with Lewy Bodies often occur together, as is the case with most dementias. This is entirely understandable; it would take someone of superhuman mental fortitude to not let such a diagnosis affect them very deeply. It’s like depression with anxiety: they often co-occur together.

We will never know exactly what Robin Williams was thinking when he opted to end his own life, and at this point it seems disrespectful and more than a little sinister to keep asking about this. However, given the number of things dementia with Lewy Bodies can put a person through, accusations of “selfishness” now seem more unwarranted than ever.