Mental health – The stigma attached to it

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As today is World Mental Health Day, I thought I would take the opportunity to write about a topic that I have been wanting to get out there for quite a while. Over the past few years, the stigma related to mental health issues has slowly been decreasing as awareness of such issues have increased, this is not to say that the stigma isn’t still excessively present in our day to day lives or that it isn’t a huge problem for those suffering. This is something surprising to me as one in four people suffer of a mental health issue in one form or another, so why do we feel it is something to be ashamed of?

As a student I have realised how many of my classmates are suffering from anxiety disorders, panic attacks, bouts of depression and in some more severe cases of bipolar disorder. The effects of these problems are bad enough, but what makes it worse without a doubt is how we are made to feel that it is just in our heads.

Many a time I have found myself unable to get out of bed and socialise, feeling numb, empty and glued to my room. Having to explain this to a teacher who is expecting 75% attendance from you or to a friend who thinks you’re just being lazy or unsociable is one of the most frustrating parts of it, this is why myself and many others resort to telling people we are sick physically or make up any other excuse before telling them what’s really going on. I have also met many who believe mental illnesses are a way to seek attention, this is ironic as there is nothing a mentally ill person wants less than to “flaunt” their illness. A close friend of mine suffered from deep chronic depression and bipolar disease, accompanied by anxiety, none of her friends, including myself knew for months until she attempted to commit suicide, does this really sound like someone who is trying to seek attention?

Those who don’t believe in mental illnesses because they are not physical, need to understand how physically debilitating these can be, that things they don’t even think about, those with social anxiety are repeating in their heads over and over again. That unanswered text keeps them wondering for months what they did wrong instead of what the other did wrong, that strange handshake-hug combination that they gave their crush creeps up at night when they just want to relax, they hold onto words as if it was their last breath and mundane activities such as ordering a sandwich can feel like a huge task.

Those who suffer from depression have to put on a smile everyday even when physically standing is a chore in itself and self blame is a constant feeling that eats them up. Those who have ADHD are expected to produce the same results as someone without, and if not they are deemed stupid.

There are so many other mental illnesses that affect the way a person can function on a daily basis, yet there is so much pressure for them to function “normally” because if its not physical, it isn’t real.

We are in an age where we are technology reliant, anxiety riddled and patience is far from a virtue we all share, mental illnesses are becoming more and more common, especially within the younger generations, affecting their way of socialising and education. It’s time we stop treating mental illnesses as something negative and help those in need, whether it be ourselves, a friend or a family member. It is hard enough to deal with this alone, but to feel like you can’t talk about it makes the matter a lot worse, if you are suffering then reach out to someone, you will be surprised how understanding people can be and you never know who might be going through the same.

Below I will leave some helpful links for those who might need it, I will also recommend a book that can help you understand more about your condition:

Mental Health foundation

Mind Your Head

Mind your Head – Book 

 

1984 – George Orwell: Play, Playhouse theatre London

An incredibly well known author and with good reason, 1984, along with  Animal farm is probably one of his most significant works which to this day is considered a unique masterpiece, whether it be for his scarily accurate predictions of the far future or his timeless bleak representation of society. 1984 as a novel is a whole other world itself and one I will hopefully gather the courage to write about someday. However this post is specifically about the play adaptation in the Playhouse theatre in London.

 

Being somewhat of a theatre virgin (not counting disney related shows), I did not know what to expect of  1hr and 40 minutes of uninterrupted theatre on such a complex and chilling novel. To be honest, I didn’t think they could possibly do the novel justice or all the crazy feelings it transmitted to me and its many other readers. As TimeOut very eloquently put, this show is perfect for “anyone suffering of political cynicism” and how very true this was, as someone who has a serious case of this political cynicism, the play temporarily carried out my need to word and play it out.

The start of the show startled me, it slightly confused me for a while and it took some time for me to understand what was happening, I can only imagine this would be case even more so for someone who hasn’t read the book. As soon as I got the hang of it I was hooked, I could not take my eyes off the stage and my heart was racing with excitement, something that rarely happens at movies. Any empty voids left by the novel were excellently fulfilled by the performance and its ability to bring such a story to life so realistically, the actors were flawless and took on the characters better than I could have ever imagined.

Seeing the show live was magical and something I haven’t experienced with any movie adaptations of my favourite novels, it made it more realistic and made me feel a part of it. I came out of the show feeling ecstatic and wanting to share it with the rest of the world, I would have loved to debate the concepts of the show/novel with anyone at that moment. I would strongly recommend to read the novel before watching the play as you might not be able to appreciate it in the same manner, it is also not a happy play but a rather strong one with very shocking concepts and scenes. As for the physical aspects of the play it was aesthetically pleasing with a mix of special effects, videos and the entertainment of the actors themselves, not to mention the sound effects which again, I would not recommend for the lighthearted or jumpy.

All in all, I could not recommend this play enough, especially to any Orwell or 1984 fans.

 

 

 

3 Modern fiction books you should read this summer

These are written in no particular order or ranking, just some novels that I thoroughly enjoyed this year and wanted to share. They’re all special in their own way so I couldn’t choose a winner. These three novels cover my favourite genres in fiction: Romance, Thriller and YAF.

  1. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins: I’m sure most of you have seen this advertisethe-girl-on-the-train.jpgd all over tube stations, social media and bookshops. Often compared to Gone Girl in its majorly confusing and highly unpredictable storyline, if I could use a book to represent the genre of mystery-thriller, this would definitely be it. The author tells the story through the different characters in first person, whilst also using extracts of newspapers and other mediums. I promise you will not be able to stop thinking about this novel once you start it (and I don’t often make promises).
  2. It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini: Now the subject of this book is one usually deemed as dark and educational or to be treated with immense delicacy, yes you might have guessed it – mental illness. Ned manages to depict the story of a regular teenager going through a deep depression in a heartwarmingly relatable way to anyone who has ever felt any form of depressiFunny_Story_fronton, which in one way or another, most of us have. He manages to place the readers in the mind of Craig Gilner, who to anyone on the outside just seems like a reserved, well rounded individual with impressive prospects. Despite of his successful academia, Ned feels overwhelmed and pointless, he struggles with normal teenage issues such as school, girls and drugs whilst living in an extraordinary world of his own which only the readers and a special someone get to uncover.
  1. Me Before you – Jojo Moyes: Much like The Girl on the Train, this novel/movie has been advertised like crazy over the past few months. As always when intereste9780718157838d in seeing a movie which is adapted from a novel, I rushed to read it before going to the movie. Finishing this book was not a hard task as I was glued to the pages for two days, this novel is somehow predictable, yet unpredictable (capisce?), yeah I guess not – just go read it! This novel is unorthodoxly romantic, tragic, comical and informative. I won’t spoil anything but definitely have some tissues and a tub of icecream ready because you’re in for an emotional rollercoaster.

 

Cosy bars/cafe’s in Madrid – Bares y cafeterias acogedoras en Madrid

 

Being one of the guilty few that did not have a good first impression of Madrid, I always kept trying to find that missing excitement of finding something new and wanting to share it with everyone. It took about 5 visits and two months into living here for me to find my home away from home in Madrid, I was about to give up hope because I could not seem to find the uniqueness that every other city seems to have.

I took it upon myself to start looking for reading cafe’s and cosy alternative bars where I can feel at home amongst the stress and busy life of the city.

LA Central – Bookshop Cafe

The first one I stumbled across completely by chance was LA Central, just one of the streets in busy Callao. The first thing you see as you enter is a beautiful layout of new recommended books and artsy fartsy novelty gifts, right next to the cafe area which is almost always extremely busy (with reason). The cafe is in a beautiful wooden space with an open display of some of their sweet treats and other baked goods. They offer a fantastic brunch menu but also smaller breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack menus. For any lover of tortilla I would recommend their breakfast offer of a slice of tortilla with toast and a  coffee, as well as their delicious carrot and cheesecakes.

Going up the beautiful wooden staircase the architectural design of the building does not disappoint, the first floor consists of novels, children’s books and comics (as well as notebooks, gifts and other novelty items). The second floor is the more cultural one, consisting of books that specialise in philosophy, sociology, politics, art, poetry etc…

In the second floor they offer a small reading room where you can sit down, relax and read your book of choice.

This bookshop is definitely the perfect breather from the crowds and noise, you will most likely find yourself spending hours there without realising.

Restaurante Ojala – Cafe/Bar/Beach (yes)

We’ve all heard it a million times – Madrid does not have beaches, unfortunate but it has other things to offer, right? The owners of Restaurants Ojala were clearly aware of this issue and decided to create a beach right in the centre of Madrid.

Now, the cafe and the aesthetics of the place speak for themselves, every detail being cared for – bright yet calming colours, beautiful lighting, original pieces of woodwork and what you’ve been waiting to hear about, the beach.

The main floor of the bar is breathtakingly beautiful and original with two different seating areas, going down the stairs you will find two other whole seating areas where the floor is entirely covered in sand and everyone is sat in low cushioned seats. The atmosphere is relaxed yet sociable.

You would probably think that a place like this would have an elevated price range but out of many bars in Madrid this is very fairly priced, especially for the quality of the food and service. For 10 euros you can have a full brunch which they offer until 8pm (see the pictures below) with many options for all types of foodies, including vegetarians like me. They also have a range of sandwiches, soups, burgers, hummus, nachos and so on. If you’re looking for something different in the city of Madrid but also want to eat and drink like a queen (or king) then Ojala is a must do.

La Bicicleta – Cafe

This place is the perfect mix between a bar/pub and a  workplace cafe, upstairs the quirky design concentrated around the bike theme will make you feel like a real city hipster, the upstairs area is usually very busy with people drinking at the bar and eating around the many tables. The downstairs area is more relaxed and spaced out which allows you to enjoy a good conversation or get some work done whilst trying some of their drinks or foods.

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Fabrica Maravillas – Brewery

This quaint little bar found on the streets of Malasaña offers a diverse range of craft beers fresh from the tap. The indoor design has a Scandinavian minimalist vibe to it which definitely adds to the coolness of the place. I tried the chocolate stout beer which to my non-surprise was absolutely delicious, it hardly tasted like beer at all and had some subtle yet pleasing hints of coffee and caramel.

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Healthy coconut bites

  One of my favourite flavours ever is coconut, I had some desiccated coconut around and decided to play around with some ingredients to see what I could make. The amount below made about 6 or 7 bites and the measurements were quite rough so feel free to tweak it to your liking. 

P.S they are REALLY filling and very addictive. 

What you will approximately need is:

– 7 medium sized dates, if they are not very soft you can soak them in water for about an hour for the best consistency. 

– 1/2 a cup of desiccated coconut

– half a banana

– tsp of raw cocoa powder 

Method: 

In a blender, blend the dates and the banana first and then add in all of the other ingredients. 

Once the mixture is a sticky paste, scoop them into your hands and make small balls, roll the balls into extra desiccated coconut so they are nicely covered (you can also roll them in cacao powder).

Place them in the freezer for about 30 minutes so they are easier to handle and of a better consistency. 

Enjoy! 

Little Ana x

Two quirky, yummy and instagrammable places to eat in Barcelona – Satan’s coffee corner & Bar Calders 

I recently visited Barcelona for a short holiday, one of my favourite things to do when travelling is finding amazing food and cool cafes. Before visiting I stumbled upon a website naming the best coffee shops in Barcelona, and number 1 was ‘Satan’s Coffee Corner’. Bar Calders is a bar owned by a family friend so naturally I wanted to visit and see what it was all about.

Satan’s Coffee Corner 

My first stop was ‘Satans Coffee Corner’  where immediately before entering I knew I would love it. Situated in the lively and artsy Barri Gotic, the decoration was minimalist with a lot of quirky sketches and a beautiful wooden inside space. The place smelt like good coffee and sweet doughnuts.

I wasn’t quite sure how to order as there were no visible menus or obvious counters – the place felt far too cool for normal humans. Eventually one of the staff asked what we wanted and so we ordered two coffees and a doughnut. Whilst we sipped on our delicious coffee, one of the staff members cooked in front of us what appeared to be some homemade miso soup. Just another cool unexpected thing this coffee shop had to offer. On the way out we picked up some cards that were on the counter as they looked quite artsy and funny, I still don’t know what purpose they had but they were definitely a nice souvenier. All in all this coffee shop exceeded my expectations and fulfilled all my hipster cafe dreams.

P.S The doughnut was heavenly.

Satans Coffee Corner

Bar Calders 

We came here on one of our last nights to end with what would soon be the best meal we had.

From the outside it just looks like your typical spanish bar with A LOT of people and a very cool atmosphere. Inside, this bar is filled with artworks mostly created by the owner. The decoration is colourful, lively and very interesting to say the least.

We were seated in the middle of the bar and were surrounded by busy, friendly tables that were enjoying the place as much as we were. The menu was overwhelming, the toughest decision of this trip was what to order (or what not to order), the options all sounded incredible.

We decided to get a mix of everything which involved some ‘brava chips’ (they were absolutely delicious), some quesadillas and the best bit of all – a green tea cheesecake with somewhat of a zingy kick to it. The dishes were absolutely delicious and carefully made with beautiful spices and garnishes. The price was very pocket friendly for any young travelers or anyone on a budget, the experience was priceless.

Super summer salad – quick and nutritious 

Now that the warm weather is just around the corner,  soups and hot foods seem less appetizing and salads are becoming more appealing. The problem with most salads is that they are not very filling nor nutritious enough. This salad is just perfect to fill you up and provide you with the nutrients you need.


This salad can be done in 5-10 minutes if the quinoa is prepared beforehand and cooled in the fridge.

Optional ingredients:

-1/2 a cup of cooked quinoa with only salt

– cherry tomatoes

– sweet corn

– spinach (cooked or raw)

– goats cheese

– olives of any type

– light dressing: olive oil, half a lemon, balsamic vinegar, oregano and pepper.