It’s Good To Talk: Dealing With Depression

According to the leading mental health charity in the UK, Mind, ‘approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year’. Note: this isn’t 1 in 4 people during someone’s lifetime, this is per year. That’s a lot of people with a lot of problems. Although there is so much good work being done to support people’s mental health, and people are more openly talking about it, there continues to be stigma and a massive lack of education on the subject. Put simply, there’s still a lot of work to do in this field, and people still don’t seem to understand the scariest fundamental truth about mental health: not talking about it could kill you.

I have always had a good life. I’m not saying I don’t have my fair share of problems, but I do have a loving and accepting family and wonderful friends. I went to a good school, a good University, got a decent grade and I never had to worry about money in any real way. Essentially, everything I needed or wanted I had – I had no ‘reason’ to be depressed.

However, something was wrong. Unlike some, I didn’t have a definitive event or moment when I became depressed and I can’t remember when or where it really started, but I do know that I ignored a bunch of signals.  I started having regular panic attacks, to the extent I woke up one morning in the midst of one.  It probably should’ve worried me when I had one whilst picking up my gown on graduation day; on what was meant to mark one of my greatest achievements to date, I felt like an imposter in my own life.

After graduation my mental health got worse, and I was in perpetual state of denial. The thing was, I felt I was just being dramatic. I wasn’t ‘sadder’ than everyone else; to think that would be self-involved and stupid, and why was I thinking about myself this much anyway? I needed to stop being so selfish and arrogant and focus on someone else for a change.

As these thoughts would circulate in my head daily, I was becoming more and more apathetic, hopeless and exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Feeling that kind of emptiness is hard to describe, but for me it was being constantly, utterly, and negatively overwhelmed, while simultaneously, not quite being able to care that I was feeling that way. Doing anything seemed both impossible and pointless; I did (and felt) nothing.

Depression is often cyclical and as my mental health started to deteriorate the unhelpful internal dialogue began to impact my external world. The simple things like taking care of myself – my eating, my sleeping, my exercise, my appearance, my relationships, my flat – became a daily battle; sometimes it’d take me half an hour to put on a pair of tights. It wasn’t until I was actively thinking about whether or not I could successfully hang myself with my laptop power cord, that I realised I had a problem. Even I knew that it was a red flag when I started having suicidal thoughts.

It was then I went to the doctor and I was incredibly lucky, because I found one who immediately believed me. This is really important – if you are going through these problems and you don’t have a doctor who 100% believes you, find another doctor. You’re not crazy and you need someone to help you. Fortunately for me, I had a positive experience and was given excellent advice.

I was put on the anti-depressant, anti-anxiety medication Citalopram and, although my mental state was on the way to improving I made some incredibly hard decisions to maintain my mental and emotional health. At the age of 24, I quit my stable job, moved back to my hometown to live with my parents and, consequently, ended my relationship of four years (a relationship that I was convinced was going to end in marriage, kids, the works).  If my life were a building, it had been systematically torn down until only the foundations were left.

Nevertheless, although this decimation was painful, and I felt I had to re-establish who I was, I began to learn what was good for me. I gained confidence about how I could battle through my toughest days and begin to hope that tomorrow might be better. It gave me perspective: I now know what I want and need to prioritise to make sure I’m as happy and healthy as I can be.

One of the imperative elements of this journey was me actually talking about how I felt, consciously and continuously. Partly to not let negative thoughts fester in my head, and partly to make sure there was no denial in how I felt about anything. It would be a lie to say that ‘the more I talked about it the better I felt’, but it was – and still is – good to share my story with people. Three things consistently surprise me when I do:

  1. You’re never as alone as you think you are.
  2. You’re definitely more loved than you think you are.
  3. Just by talking you can really help others, or be helped by them.

The Mental Health Foundation states that ‘women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders’. I think it’s important to remember, as women, that strength is not defined by soldiering on and pretending that nothing is wrong.  Instead, it should be defined by creating a dialogue, supporting and encouraging each other, and – when we’re ready – sharing our stories. This is how I believe we can move forward.

Written by Rachel Foster

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How To Achieve Your Goals

One of my favorite questions to ask on consultation calls is this:

What would be an amazing outcome for you in a year?

People have great answers. They want to own their own businesses, make partner, find love, make six figures, have great sex, and learn to love themselves.

I bet you have dreams you’ve been thinking about for years but never achieved, too.

Why not? Because you haven’t taken massive action. And that’s the tool I’m going to teach you today.

Massive action means acting consistently until you get what you want, no matter what.

Most of us are willing to take a little action, some minor action, or occasionally some major action. We’re willing to try one thing, or three things, or maybe five things at once.

Often when we think about trying to achieve a goal, we’re already anticipating failure. One of my favorite coaching moments ever was when a client sent me her business plan with the question, “But how do I know when it’s time to give up on this?”

She was entirely serious, and I love the example, because so often that is how we approach our hopes and dreams. We expect they won’t work out, and we plan to fail ahead of time. Even as we try a little bit, we’re assuming we will give-up and trying to figure out when.

Massive action does not allow for the concept of failure. Because you don’t give up. You just keep taking action until you get what you want.

What I love about massive action is that it removes all the pressure of trying to figure out what’s the best thing to do, if you’re doing the right thing, and what you will do if what you try doesn’t work. You don’t ever have to answer those questions, because all you need to do is keep taking one action after another until you have the result.

Massive action removes all doubt and fear. There’s no reason to be afraid, confused, or doubtful. You’re just going to keep taking action until you have what you want.

When you commit to massive action, there’s no room for self-pity. There’s no room for sulking, blaming the universe, feeling sorry for yourself, or bargaining with yourself about how much effort you should have to put forward. The “shoulds” don’t matter. Fair doesn’t matter. What other people do (or don’t do) doesn’t matter.

Do you have what you want? No? Then take more action. That’s all you have to know.

If you commit to this principle, it will change your whole life, no matter what it is you want.

Want a successful business? Massive action.

Want to become an ultra-marathoner? Massive action.

Want to be a Supreme Court Justice? Massive action.

If you want a family, don’t go on five first dates and throw-up your hands. Don’t go on 50 first dates and throw-up your hands. Go on 500 first dates if you must! Massive action.

The beauty of massive action is that it shortcuts all the negotiation and mental drama you have with yourself about whether you have done enough. There’s no point to any of that, because you’re just going to keep taking action until you get what you want. All you must decide is what next action you’re going to take.

When you commit to massive action, keep taking action, and finally create what you want, you’ll feel invincible. It sounds so simple, and yet 99% of people will never do it. Be part of the 1%. I know you can do it, because I did it, and the only difference between you and me is that I took massive action in my self-coaching, my business, and my life.

Kara Loewentheil is a master certified life coach and is behind the hugely popular UnF*ck Your Brain coaching course and podcast. This post was previously featured on her website unfckyourbrain.com 

Feeling inspired? Let us know in the comments!

Beauty Basics: UV-Proof Skincare

We’ve all heard the scary stories and seen the shocking images of the damage that UV rays do to your skin, but have they shocked us enough? Hands up if you don’t really take sun and UV protection into consideration when buying skincare and makeup? Well, even if you aren’t lucky enough to live in a sunshine state, the British Association of Dermatologists say that we should be using sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 every day.

This is because even when it’s overcast and rainy, the sun’s two types of UV rays – A (longwave) and B (shortwave) – can cause serious damage to our skin (as well as causing skin cancers). Briefly, UVA is the more prevalent of the two and, because it penetrates skin more deeply than UVB, it is the one that causes the most skin damage in terms of wrinkles and ageing. UVB, on the other hand, is the radiation that is the main cause of sunburn. Both types can damage your skin all year round. And if you think that because you work inside you don’t need to be worried as much, think again – UVA penetrates glass.

But what level of protection is best? What do all the numbers and stars even mean? Well, the level of SPF (which ranges from 2 to 50+) shows the level of protection against UVB. For UVA protection, we look at the star rating that should be on the packaging; they range from 1 to 5 stars and indicate the ratio between the level of UVA protection and UVB protection. Yes, that sounds slightly confusing, but what it basically means is that for optimal protection you want to select a product with a high SPF and a high UVA star rating – the ones that offer both UVA/UVB protection are called “broad spectrum”.

So, aside from covering ourselves up head to toe in a reflective colour (which, by the way, is bright or dark colours, not white) what can we do to protect our skin every day? Slather a thick factor 50 on our face and décolletage? But I hate being sticky. Leave the house before the sun comes up and only return after sunset? People will think I’m a vampire.

Luckily for us, the skincare and makeup industry have cottoned on to our desire for ‘smart’ products that provide the sort of sun/UV coverage we need while also providing that non-sticky/non-greasy/blemishes covered/I-woke-up-like-this dewy look we all crave.  If you don’t already use such products, what are you waiting for? Shop some of the top moisturisers, face suncreams and many-in-one makeup products below and feel smug everyday knowing you are looking great and protecting your skin in one fell swoop. If your favourite is not on our list, tell us in the comments!

Moisturisers (ideal if you don’t like the idea of a separate suncream step in your morning routine, but be aware that these won’t usually be water resistant)

Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Defense (SPF 50 plus UVA and UVB filters). It may not be cheap, but this moisturiser offers a lot of protecting-bang for your buck. It’s lightweight and oil free so it will moisturise your skin without feeling greasy. If you are serious about protecting your skin (and we all should be) then you should consider this an investment – future you will thank you.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Sun Defense (SPF 50 plus UVA and UVB protection). This moisturiser is at a slightly better price point and still offers SPF 50 protection. Like the Kiehl’s cream, it is oil free and lightweight so it should feel comfortable on your skin and it hydrates for up to eight hours.

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced (SPF 30 plus UVA protection). No7 is quite well known for its good quality skincare at more affordable prices. This moisturiser offers pretty good protection and has all sorts of useful things in it like anti-oxidants, serum technology and pro-retinol. It is also available in SPF 50.

Face suncreams (ideal if you already have a favourite moisturiser/routine but want to up your protection. This is the best choice for full protection)

Glossier Invisible Shield (SPF 30 plus UVA and UVB filters). “Sunscreen for people who hate wearing sunscreen”. This gel formula leaves no greasy residue and protects from the harmful UV rays as well as environmental pollution (which also plays a big role in skin damage – seriously, we are fighting an uphill battle). Also, it smells nice thanks to the orange peel oil #winning.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios AC Anti-Shine Matte Fluid (SPF 50 plus UVA, UVB and infrared protection). This suncream offers “exceptionally high protection” in the form of a lightweight, non-greasy cream. It’s non-comedogenic which means it won’t block your pores and lead to breakouts.

Soap & Glory Make Yourself Youthful Sunshield Superfluid (SPF 50 plus UVA and UVB protection). This offering from Soap & Glory is a handy little addition to your morning routine. It is a lightweight, invisible cream which includes vitamins C and E to offer additional protection against harmful free radicals and it even helps mattify your skin (so you’re not reflective).

Makeup (ideal for fans of the all-in-one routine or when you want to be extra safe)

MAC Studio Waterweight foundation (SPF 30 plus UVA and UVB protection). MAC is known for its cult beauty products and this foundation is no exception. This gel serum formula provides weightless protection while also minimising imperfections and providing all day coverage (p.s. they also do a concealer).

Rimmel BB Cream 9 in 1 (SPF 25 plus UV protection). How can a product be a ‘9 in 1’!? Well, because it primes, moisturises, reduces appearance of pores, conceals, smoothes, mattifies, brightens and (most importantly) protects against the sun.

IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream (SPF 50 plus UVA and UVB protection). This CC (colour correcting) cream is another type of all-in-one cream that provides concealing and coverage benefits while also offering protection against the sun’s harmful rays.

For the best coverage and protection, experts recommend using suncream underneath your makeup regardless of whether it has SPF protection or not.

Written by Ciara Gigleux

Why Having Big Dreams Can Be A Little Scary

I am sure that most of us have at least one dream or goal. Maybe it’s to get a degree, start a business, make a name for yourself in your chosen career…whatever it is, I bet that at some point it has scared you. Why do our dreams scare us? Why is it that in one moment we can feel crazily excited and motivated, ready to take on the world and do whatever it takes to make the dream a reality, and in another moment feel the doubt creeping in – this probably isn’t going to work, how could I be good enough to to do that? – and see all the hurdles and hoops that you’ll have to get through along the way?

You can picture what it is you want in your mind, you know who you want to be and where you want to go, and you have some idea of how to get there, but sometimes it can feel like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff; you know it’s time to jump but you can’t quite bring yourself to do it.

Fear of failure, fear of not living up to your own (or others’) expectations, fear of ridicule. But what if we stopped focusing on the ‘bad’ possible outcomes and start thinking about the great ones? The amazing possibilities and opportunities that may come your way if you just believe in yourself and take the leap. Yes, maybe it’s a leap of faith – but aren’t most things in life?

So what if you fall down? You’ll get back up and try again.

This is exactly what I have been telling myself for the last few months.

I first had the idea for She on my daily commute to work. Like a lot of women, I have BIG dreams (and possibly a bit of an overactive imagination) which means I am constantly doing whatever I think I need to do to get where I want to be. In this mighty quest, I really derive a lot of inspiration from anecdotal evidence – blog posts, websites, podcasts, interviews – usually by women who seem to be kicking ass and who seem to speak right to my soul. I find that by hearing that other women are going through the same things as I am, having the same doubts and insecurities, it makes me feel like I am not alone.

Another source of inspiration is magazines – or at least they used to be. On a few separate occasions I have found myself in the supermarket staring at the wall of women’s magazines and not one of them had the content that I was looking for. I wanted proper articles I could get my teeth into that talked about the stuff I wanted to hear – how to advance in your career, how to build your reputation, look at this woman’s trajectory and here is how she did it, this woman did it her own way and you can too. I was sick of the endless fluff, the articles about diets and exercise that made me feel like crap and the lack of relatable content. I wanted to know about issues affecting women and what one can do to help, I wanted to feel empowered and proud to be a woman. In short, I wanted more substance. When I need inspiration, I look to Instagram and to the many female bloggers and vloggers I follow who tend to be girls just like me, who I feel I can relate to because we are all going through similar things.

I was on the train and had just finished reading a piece on a well-known website about having the guts to start your own business. But the piece was short, too short to impart any real inspiration or advice, and as I sat there thinking “BUT I WANT MORE“, I thought to myself “why not do it yourself?”. Suddenly, like a lightbulb, I knew that’s what I needed to do. What followed next was a rollercoaster; one minute I was elated, frantically scribbling down ideas and plans, the next I was overcome with a feeling of despair – isn’t this just like what someone else has done? Why would anyone want to get involved? Don’t I need to have loads of money to set something like this up? Why would this even work? What if it doesn’t work?  Everyday I would have this battle in my head – on one shoulder was my optimistic dreamer of a cheerleader, on the other was Negative Nelly.

It would have be so easy for me to listen to Nelly (she’s a bit of a regular) but instead, this time, I didn’t. I fought back and told Nelly where she could go – yes this may not work and I may fail. And in putting myself out there on the Internet and on Instagram I cannot do this anonymously so people will know it’s me failing, but what if it does work? What if I can create a platform for women like me who want ‘more’, who could really benefit from having a community of like-minded women to lean on for advice and inspiration?

So I took the leap and here I am. I really hope you’ll join me.

Ciara

Millennials and Tech – Are We Really Digital Natives?

Reader, I’m a millennial.

I don’t think I’ve ever come up against a term so useless. But of course, that’s what a millennial would say.

Nevertheless, I am a millennial. Moreover, I’m a millennial with tech issues.

We live in a world which often moves at breakneck speed. We have 24-hour news services sending us breaking news alerts round the clock, on subjects as diverse as mass shootings, political sex scandals and Beyonce’s twins. Communications technology has changed so drastically in the last decade that if you’d told me in 2008 Twitter would a) still exist in 2018 and b) become a major platform for political campaigning and analysis, I would have laughed in your face.

Here’s the problem: things have changed so fast that there are vast number of millennials who, like myself, often cannot keep up. There are two very different halves of my generation.

And women are at a particular disadvantage.

We are hailed as the first generation of true ‘digital natives’. This is a bit of a misconception and, of course, it’s largely a Western reality. Most of us in the West can relate to Dolly Alderton’s frankly exasperating story of going on holiday to France only to sit in the B&B for most of it chatting on MSN. I never really got to take a family holiday overseas when I was young, but I do remember a New Year’s Eve exchanging MSN messages with my best friend until my mum shouted at me at 23:45 to spend some time with her.

Most of us have a good grip on online social media, because, during our adolescence, they were marketed to teenagers as cooler, more private alternatives to using the home phone. Akin to the musical and cultural freedom felt by baby boomers who had portable transistor radios, online services like MSN, MySpace and Facebook gave us our own space to experiment, cultivate and express identities largely away from parental influence.

Yet, in terms of actual digital skills – the kind which help through university and career progression – did we really learn that much?

Our teachers were operating in a system which knew it had to change, and fast, if kids were going to have any hope of functioning in a digital, globalised world. Unfortunately, teachers were often ill-equipped to teach us about coding, content creation and online safety because they were learning along with us. My school did not have a class on coding, and since I was at a relatively well-off state school, I doubt very much that less wealthy schools did either.

There is a divide in the millennial generation, even between those born in the early nineties versus the mid-to-late nineties. When I was leaving school, they were just implementing a student laptop system for junior high schoolers and thinking about more productive digital classes.

I am in that unfortunate group of millennials who missed starting my career when it was not necessary to know more than how to use email, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for most jobs, but arrived too early to make use of the educational opportunities to learn new digital skills. This might have been no big deal in any other era aside from the one we live in. Yet those millennials who began their careers before the 2008 global economic crash had a plethora of opportunities which no longer exist, and they got to take them with only a hint of how much the internet would affect the modern job market. Current job listings comprise a vast number of technologically-focused roles which did not exist before 2010.

This is not to remove agency from women who fit into this group. There are plenty of women who do succeed in tech, although not at the rate we should be. Most of the tech women I know are self-taught, or had to make the effort to seek out opportunities to learn beyond school and university because in many institutions we are not taught the value of digital literacy and coding until halfway through our job search.

Only 20% of tech jobs are held by women. One only needs to look at the deluge of sexist behaviour in Silicon Valley to see that tech is a notorious boys club. In an Observer list of gender problems in tech, it was revealed, amongst other eye-opening statistics, that:

  • Women own only 5% of start ups.
  • They earn only 28% of computer science degrees.
  • Only 7% of partners at Top 100 venture capital firms are women.
  • Women under age 25 in the tech industry earn, on average, 29% less than their male counterparts.
  • Women hold only 11% of executive positions at Silicon Valley companies.
  • In the high tech industry, the quit rate is more than twice as high for women (41%) than it is for men (17%).
  • In 2016, venture capitalists invested just $1.46 billion in women-led companies. Male-led companies earned $58.2 billion in investments.
  • Women receive lower salary offers than men for the same job at the same company 63% of the time.

74% of young girls express interest in STEM fields, so something is clearly going amiss here. The discussion of that subject has been, and will continue to be, the focus of multiple books and articles, so I won’t discuss it too much here. Yet the combination of a technological learning gap during adolescence and the cultural barriers around the tech industry combine dangerously to keep women out of careers. There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that for women of colour, the picture is even worse.

This is not just a Western problem – in fact, in the West we are lucky to now have access to a range of programmes to teach girls how to code, to subsidise digital skills lessons for university students, and to be able to at least know a few people who could teach us the ropes when it comes to coding or other digital skills.

Globally, the divide between the digitally literate and illiterate is finally having an impact on international policy. The UN now has a global framework to measure digital literacy with a list of competencies including the fundamentals of hardware and software, communication, safety, digital content creation and career-related knowledge and skills. While looking at the list, I noticed gaps in my own digital literacy, even in the career space I inhabit as a freelance content creator.

The theme of 2017’s global literacy day was ‘Literacy in the Digital World’. Recent data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) showed that 750 million adults (two-thirds of whom are women), including 102 million young people, cannot read or write a simple sentence. Immediately, this makes the world of digital knowledge and content creation inaccessible to 750 million people. As of July 2017, only 51% of the world’s population has regular access to the internet. Access statistics obviously differ according to geography with African, Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asia-Pacific nations at a disadvantage – and yes, women are still worse off since 12% fewer women use the internet than men worldwide, and this rises to a 25% gap in African nations.

In the West, and in a more acute sense globally, access to careers, economic development and social mobility are at risk due to poverty, generational differences and gender barriers. For women, the next step is to empower ourselves as best as we can to make space in an industry which lacks diversity. Where that cannot be done, national, regional and global government services have a responsibility to ensure that people, particularly women, can start to overcome their disadvantages through widespread computer and internet access.

So, looking to start? Girls Who Code, CodeAcademy and Skillshare provide affordable (mostly free) services to improve your digital skills. To donate to the global effort for an inclusive digital world, check out the Good Things Foundation.

It’s time to tell the tech industry the boys club is over.

Written by Ellen Macpherson

Do you code? Do you want to learn more tech skills? Let us know in the comments!

The Edit

Welcome to The Edit, where we round up our favourite fashion picks of the month. All of the clothes featured in The Edit are from brands who have committed to sustainable, ethical and charitable fashion. That’s why you’ll see pieces from H&M Conscious, Mango Committed and ASOS Made in Kenya, along with other lesser known brands that are dedicated to making clothes to make a difference, both to the environment and to women.

This month we feature pieces from Ninety Percent, a London based label that distributes 90% of its profits to charitable causes and makes most of its products from sustainable materials; H&M Conscious, a capsule collection made from organic and recycled materials; Mata Traders, a fair trade clothing company whose products are made by artisanal women in India and Nepal; Mayamiko, an ethical and sustainable brand whose clothes are made by women and girls in Malawi; the ASOS Made in Kenya collection, a partnership with the Kenyan social enterprise SOKO; and Sézane’s DEMAIN collection, a capsule collection whose profits go towards improving access to education for children around the world.

Top left to right:

ASOS Made in Kenya kimono £50

Ninety Percent asymmetric stretch jersey top £35

H&M Conscious girlfriend regular jeans £34.99

Bottom left to right:

H&M Conscious Lyocell paper bag trousers £29.99

Sézane DEMAIN chanson d’été swimsuit £93

Mayamiko Nellie bubble crop top in lake shells £25.20

Mata Traders Studio dress in slate $89

H&M Conscious denim shirt dress £24.99

Let us know what you think of our picks in the comments! Do you feel inspired to shop more consciously?

 

Welcome to the very first issue of She!

I say issue because my initial intention when I came up with the idea was that I wanted to create a magazine – something that is probably much easier said than done. So, I compromised and decided that a website would work equally as well, if not better. And here we are, about two months since I first had the idea and I am so proud of what has been produced in that time.

I firmly believe in the importance of female empowerment – whether it is with regards to fighting for gender equality, becoming informed about important issues or simply having (or developing) the confidence in yourself to know that you are capable of anything.

That’s where She came from; this belief that, as women, we should be helping to build each other up, rooting for each other and championing the important issues that affect us. Only through doing this can we hope to empower and inspire girls and women everywhere.

This first issue is packed with inspiring and thought-provoking content spanning career, wellbeing and lifestyle topics, along with our first book review and Spotlight essay piece. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy our first issue; She is for all of us so please share with your friends, follow us on Instagram and, if you are feeling really inspired, write a piece for one of our upcoming issues – see how you get can involved here.

Now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital that women speak up and take their seat at the table. I hope that She will be a source of inspiration to you to start using your voice and to take your seat. I hope we can build a community and lean on each other for support and motivation. Let’s start now.

Ciara

Founder and Editor-In-Chief