Part 1 of my mental recovery: body image

Girl in a pink tshirt and jean shorts laying on the ground, covering her face with her hands.

Hello, dear readers! I have published a lot of casual blog posts on Dolls Have Hearts lately, however, today I wanted to talk about something more personal and reach out to those who are dealing with the same issue. I am not sharing this story for pity or just to whine, I am doing it as a promise to myself and you that I will get better.

I barely remember the last time when I felt comfortable enough in my own skin and didn’t worry about my jiggling thighs. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to when I was only 5 years old. At that time I was careless kid whose mind was not ruined by opinions of others. Fast forward 10 years later. Fifteen year old is full of doubts, constantly checking her stomach and thighs online, working out every day for an hour even if I am sore from yesterday’s workout. She felt guilty about every slice of cake, every ice cream and can of soda she had because in her mind there was this perfect version of herself with a perfect body and she had to be that version… Every time she had to wear shorts, this girl felt really self-conscious and though everyone was staring at her, judging all of her flaws and wondering – why the hell doesn’t she look like Ariana Grande or some other celebrity on the cover of Glamour?

Fast forwarding to this very moment, to almost twenty year old version of myself. I have made a promise to myself that I will get my confidence back and fall in love with the body I have, instead of focusing of some sort of perfect version of my body that exists only in my mind. See, the problem is not my body, it is my perception of it. I came to this conclusion when I not only reached my goal weight but even went few kilograms under it, yet still felt unhappy. Just few months ago I thought that I will have to live with distorted body image forever. All these celebrities with perfect bodies, Instagram famous fitness trainers and guys that bullied me every day for 9 nine years straight have fucked up my mind too badly… right? Wrong. I have talked about victim mentality and depression on my blog before and I refuse to keep that mentality for the rest of my life. That is exactly why I started breaking out of this mental cage now and started doing few things to recover.

My first step to recovery was starting to attend dance lessons. I know what you are thinking: “Yeah, that’s lovely but what does it have to do with your self perception? You are still working with your body not mind.” In a way you are correct, however, two types of dancing I decided to pick up are burlesque and pole fit. If you have tried any of these yourself or even watched them, you know how much bravery and strength it takes. Confidence and persistence is the key, and you have to be ready to get new bruises in the most random places every time you go to a lesson. Your body might be sore the next day and even few days after when you are just the beginner but those types of dancing definitely give me the confidence boost that I needed so much. One more thing that I noticed while attending dance classes – they are not only for skinny and fit girls who are already good at everything. They are for everyone, who wants to improve themselves, no matter if your stomach is perfectly flat or not, no matter if you have stretch marks or not.

My second step was writing down everything I ate in a day. I am not counting calories, however, I wanted to make sure that I get rid of the silly “overeating followed by starving myself” habit. I have added food log to my weekly spread, writing down what I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snacks. In food log I also track water intake in a day, just to make sure that I don’t forget to stay hydrated.

My third step was picking art journalling (again). I have used my art journal previously to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety, however, I quit using my art journal for a while just because I left it back at home. During this break without free creative expression I started to feel uneasy, so I bought new plain notebook and started putting my thoughts and feelings on pages in form of drawings and written text. It does not matter what type of mental health problem are you dealing with, art journal has given me huge relief pretty much every time.

These three steps are the only ones I have taken so far in my self-acceptance journey but I am proud of myself that I was brave enough to begin. If you are dealing with the same problem as I am, just know that you are not alone and you can get better. You are not stuck with one type of mindset for the rest of your life and you have the capacity to start making small changes today. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

P.S. I do apologize that I am publishing this post so late on Thursday night but it still made an effort to publish a post today and I truly put all of my heart into this. I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Love, Porcelain Doll.

 

7 major red flags you should not ignore in your relationship.

Brunette in white blouse and black skirt standing near stair railings

Hello, dear readers! If you have been following my blog for at least a month, you know that I recently ended a relationship. It took me quite some time to realize that being with this person recently started to make me very unhappy and nothing could be improved at that point. Even though our relationship ended with a huge and unpleasant blast, I wanted to make something good out of it – share the red flags I tried to ignore, so you do not make the same mistakes in a relationship if you ever notice them. The harsh truth about relationships is the fact that even though you have to fight for someone if you really love them, it takes two people to make it work. If one person is ready to make a sacrifice while other one is not – that will not work. Without any further intro, let’s take a look at seven major red flags you should not ignore in your relationship.

  1. Your partner guilt trips you whenever they get a chance. Maybe you told an unsuccessful joke and they completely misinterpreted it. Maybe you got a little too drunk and kissed someone else when you were still in some an early stage of your relationship. Even though you were the first to recognize the mistake and apologized for it from all of your heart, they still keep mentioning it weeks, even months later at the most random moments. I am not telling you it is okay to say something offensive to your partner or cheat on them but everyone makes mistakes. It’s all about learning from them and forgiving, so your relationship can keep on evolving.
  2. Your partner is not capable of admitting that they hurt your feelings and apologizing about it. If you have to be the only one in this relationship, who apologizes and forgives in this relationship, it will not work. The longer it continues, the more helpless you will start to feel and the lower your self-esteem will fall.
  3. Your partner does not provide emotional support when it is needed, especially, if you suffer from mental illness (for example, depression). They get repulsed by your mood swings, think you are being over-dramatic etc, this is not going to work.
  4. Your partner does not show interest in what is important to you. All they do is complain about you two not having more matching interests while never asking more about what you are passionate about and why. Of course, you should show an interest in their hobbies, work etc, too.
  5. Your partner seems very different after “the honeymoon phase” in your relationship is over. Where did this sweet, caring person, who loved to make you scrambled eggs in the morning and cuddle with you for hours go? You will never know. Suddenly you ended up with a human version of grumpy cat, who finds all of your jokes expensive and 30 minutes after your arrival, hides in his room to play video games with his friends.
  6. Your partner is too concerned about long-term goals like having kids when you have only been dating for 2 months. Come on, this should not be a concern while you are still in your 20’s. It is not like your biological clock is ticking fast already.
  7. Your partner keeps making offensive jokes about you. It is alright to cross the line once in a while, we all make mistakes but if it is happening almost daily, that is one of the biggest red flags and self-esteem wreckers ever. Leave now.

I am not trying to be a blogger version of Taylor Swift but there are some things that I would like to add about my relationship before I end this post. Nothing felt right at the very end. Even when we went out for a dinner which was supposed to be a romantic gesture, I felt like I was sitting across the table from a stranger with who I somehow ended up in a relationship with. When I wanted to talk things out, he warned me that as soon I would start crying, this conversation would be over. I will not dive into details of this breakup, however, the moment when I realized it is really over was when I walked out of the door of his apartment in early morning hours. Before that happened, I was crying almost non stop for 4 hours while he was sleeping in the other room. I could not carelessly fall next to someone whom I broke up with and who felt more emotionally distant than ever. I waited until I had a chance to get into the first city bus and leave. In a movie, just when you are walking out of the door, your partner wakes up, runs out of the door and asks you to stay. Maybe even asks for forgiveness. If not, at least offers to help you carry your heavy bags to the bus station. However, life is not a movie. Even though he woke up, opened the door and asked where was I going, after my reply, he just nodded and said bye. This is how our story ended and, hopefully, it ended for good.

Until the next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

First two weeks in Bangor university – exciting life update.

view to bangor university from car parking lot

Hello, dear readers! Since I started talking my blog seriously at the beginning of 2018, I decreased the amount of personal blogs posts about my life quite a lot. Main reason for that was my excessive need to whine and talk about myself way too much in my just a little over a year ago. However, today I felt the need to share a little more about the university I have chosen for my studies because this is the decision I feel really happy about and it also might be appealing to most of my audience. Who knows – maybe I will even see you here next year just because you read this post?

First thing that I noticed when I arrived to Bangor uni – there is a sense of community. There is always someone, who wants and is able to help you. It does not matter, if you can not find the right building, feel overwhelmed by your lectures or have mental health problems – you can reach out for help and actually receive it. In my previous school almost no one really cared about helping those students, who were struggling. Oh, you can not pass the test in Math class and can not make it to the office hours of Math teacher? No one cares, it is your problem. Sense of community and great support system is one of the things everyone should look for in their university and Bangor university definitely offers that.

bangor university main arts building

Lots of social activities for different types of students. It does not matter, if you enjoy partying several times a week, chill movie nights, pole fit, football or singing. Bangor university offers a wide range of societies, sports clubs and different events for every taste. Unlike in my previous school, I have noticed that I do not have to feel left out just because I am introverted, have different hobbies or do not feel like drinking several times a week. Since I came to Bangor university, I picked up few interesting activities that I would like to continue in the future, too. So far it is Dog walking society and Pole fit that have captured my heart completely but I am looking forward to see what else I might be interested in.

Stunning location is another huge pro you will not experience while studying in big cities like London, New York, Tokyo etc. Bangor is a small city (although some even prefer to call it a town) that had a population of over 18 000 people in 2011 and most of them (more than 10 000 ) were Bangor university students. Only few days after arrival most of us were introduced to Bitch hill which lead up from Pontio to Main arts building and Cardiac arrest hill which leads up to St Mary’s village. I, personally, do not find those hills terrifying as long as it’s still autumn not winter and I do not have to carry heavy grocery bags up the hill.

Bangor

Although I have been in Bangor only for two weeks now, I have found my favorite spot in this small city already. If you ever come to visit or plan to study here and want to get your daily cup of coffee, Yugen coffee-house is the best place to go. Unlike Starbucks or Costa that offer watery, tasteless coffee, Yugen coffee house has speciality coffee that every true coffee lover will appreciate. To those, who are not true coffee lovers yet, let me tell you a secret. If you want to make sure a certain coffee shop has great coffee, order black americano instead of cappuccino or latte. If coffee tastes rich, without the hint of burned coffee beans, you have found the right place.

With that said, I will end this post here. I know that I already am publishing this post one day too late and Thursdays are my busiest days, so starting from next week, I will publish a blog post every Friday. Studying Creative & professional writing while running a blog is basically like giving yourself one extra assignment. It feels good to practice as much as possible but at he same time – writing is exhausting. Believe me – it’s not about being walking around in your PJs all day, dumping all the mess you have on your mind on paper and then carelessly submitting it. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

Expectations vs reality – what it is really like to run your own blog.

laptop, flowers, magazines and phone on on white wooden table

Hello, dear readers! I am publishing this blog post one day later because Fresher’s week turned out to be incredibly exhausting. If you have experienced it, you would understand. It is a week of countless meetups, city tours, parties and on top of that, if you are an international student, you have to open bank account, get National Insurance Number and find a job as soon as possible. So now you know the struggle. Even without that, running a blog is not an easy task, especially if you are a student or have non blogging related job, so you have to find a balance between these things. Looking from the bright side – these struggles inspired me to write this blog post that a lot of other bloggers can relate to.

  1. Expectations: I am always inspired to write new blog posts and my head is buzzing from new ideas. Reality: I feel like I have nothing meaningful to share with the world today and I am scared that what I post today might be just a bunch of useless crap.
  2. Expectations: I will write every blog post few days before publishing it. Ideally – I will have several posts scheduled and ready to publish, so I do not have to worry about my blog every second of my life. Reality: I wanted to have proper social life just like all of my friends, so I forgot to put some time away for blogging. Today is the day I have to publish new post but I have nothing.
  3. Expectations: Social media marketing is fun and effortless. I love using Twitter and Instagram anyway! Reality: Why am I loosing followers? How often should I post? This picture only got 26 likes… What am I doing wrong?
  4. Expectations: Blogging is easier than regular job. All I have to do is write content. Reality: Blogging includes researching, planning posts & writing them, social media marketing, networking, commenting on other blogs, finding opportunities to make money, reading about how to improve your blogging & social marketing game and more.
  5. Expectations: I will write one great blog post and get 100 followers, 78 comments and 138 likes overnight. Reality: Few of your very first posts might get only few comments or none at all and growing following is hard work. Staying consistent, using social media the right way and constantly improving is the key.
  6. Expectations: If I will have 10 000 followers, I will be able to make decent money. Reality: Numbers do not matter, if only small part of your followers are engaging with your posts and buying your products. 
  7. Expectations: My posts will and have to be perfect from the very start, otherwise people will not like my blog. Reality: Everyone has to start somewhere. Your content quality will improve as you write and you can always go back and edit it.
  8. Expectations: I do not need to promote my old content anymore, people will just stumble upon it because I’m already being consistent and posting new stuff. Reality: You need to promote all of your content. Do not share only new posts, promote old ones here and there, too. 
  9. Expectations: I will succeed in blogging without defining my audience and blog topics. Reality: No one wants to read a blog that is “for everyone” and writes about “everything”. Get your shit together. For example, your audience is 20 to 30 years old females. They are interested in career related posts, self-improvement and relationship tips. Go!
  10. Expectations: I will take a few days long break from posting on social media and get well deserved rest. That will not impact my views at all. Reality: After three days of not posting on social media, daily blog views dropped from 50 to 5 . Damn it!

Those are ten main struggles that I have faced in my blogging journey. Could you relate to any of those? If so, drop a comment below. Also, if you would like to see more “expectations vs reality” type of posts on my blog, please let me know in the comments. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

The ultimate packing list for university freshers.

Brunette in white shirt, black shorts and black knee socks sitting on the counter and drinking tea from a white mug.

Hello, dear readers! Finally I have some time to sit down with a cup of tea and my laptop in my new dorm room and share useful bits of information with you. I usually publish one blog post every Wednesday but this Wednesday was the day I had to move into halls and figure out some of the most basic stuff. And until that I had bags to pack, boyfriend to break up with, parents to say goodbye to and last meetings with my friends in Latvia. Leaving Riga at first felt a little bittersweet because I really got used to the city with its variety of events and my workplace with its colleagues. However, soon after arriving at Bangor, I started to feel like I am in the right place. Even though I do not know where every store is located and I am not familiar with all university buildings, I do not feel homesick at all. Fresh start is just what I needed. New place, new school, new friends and new, improved version of myself. So because of the whole university theme, I decided to share my packing list for uni. If you are just packing right now or have already arrived but think that something might be missing, check it out.

Documents and paperwork:

  • passport or/and ID card
  • acceptance letter from uni
  • arrival pass for halls
  • flight ticket

Bathroom appliances:

  • shampoo
  • shower gel
  • liquid soap
  • deodorant
  • hair brush
  • 2 hand towels
  • 2 face towels
  • 2 bath towels
  • tissues
  • hair removal cream
  • epilator
  • wash bag

Kitchen:

  • potato masher
  • 2 big plates
  • 2 small plates
  • 2 cups
  • 2 glasses
  • 2 bowls
  • cutting board
  • pan
  • 2 kettles
  • universal knife
  • kitchen utensil kit
  • 2 sets of cutlery
  • tin opener
  • corkscrew / bottle opener
  • 2 kitchen towels
  • dish washing liquid
  • paper towels
  • few dish washing sponges
  • lidded food containers
  • oven gloves
  • reusable plastic water bottle
  • thermos

Healthcare:

  • painkillers
  • multivitamins
  • flu remedies
  • basic first aid kit

Bedroom:

  • mattress cover
  • set of bedding (pillow, blanket, pillow cover, sheets, blanket cover)
  • throw blanket
  • potted plants
  • laundry bag
  • clothes hangers
  • photos of friends & family
  • fairy lights

Study related things:

  • basic stationery
  • bullet journal (or planner)
  • pad of lined paper
  • few notebooks
  • dictionary (if needed)
  • post-it notes
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • paper clips
  • A4 folders
  • sleeves / folders
  • backpack

Electricals:

  • mobile phone & a charger
  • adaptor plug (if you’re going from UK to US or EU or other way around)
  • laptop & charger
  • USB memory drive
  • multi plug extension lead
  • headphones

Miscellaneous:

  • large suitcase
  • umbrella
  • earplugs
  • small sewing kit

I did not include clothing packing list because it is different for everyone, depending on what country are you going to. However, pretty much everything else is mentioned above. If I forgot to add something important, please mention it in the comment section. Also, before moving in, do some research on your university webpage to see what things are already provided in your dorms and what are not. Other than that, I am wishing you lovely start of the new school year and successful continuation of it. Moving to a new city and especially new country can be very stressful and overwhelming but remember to take it one step at a time and use your bullet journal or planner to make tasks more manageable. Now when I am in university, too, I plan to post more school related posts on my blog, so look forward to that.

P.S. I do apologize for delayed post this week but from next week my posting schedule will go back to usual. Until next time on Dolls Have Hearts!

Love, Porcelain Doll.

 

Life after antidepressants: the truth.

Book, coffee cup and white square plate with a pink doughnut

Hello, dear readers! If you have been following my blog for quite a while, you might remember my previous posts about panic attacks and depression. If not – here is a quick recap. I have been on and off antidepressants for several times since I was twelve. For quite a while I was on Zoloft which should have made me more calm and not so emotional but made me feel suicidal instead, even though I never really considered taking my own life before. Later my therapist changed my medicine and prescribed me Venlaxor which had to increase my productivity, energy level etc. I ended up feeling like a sleepy, emotionless robot instead, who could not focus on anything. In June 2017 I realized that I am done with medication, it made things worse instead of making them better, so I decided to quit. Not right away because you can not just stop taking your medication without experiencing terrible withdrawal, so I gradually decreased the amount until I finally stopped taking it. Am I proud of my decision? Yes, I have not swallowed another pill ever since. Is my life struggle free now? No. And that is what I wanted to talk about today.

Living with depression and not relying on medication is still tough. Some days seem good enough: I am spending time with my friends, laughing and enjoying the moment. On other days I feel empty, unproductive and just want to sleep, hoping that one day I will wake up but it is not how things work. Even for those, who do not suffer from depression, some days are better and some days are worse. Now, imagine, how it feels for a depressed person. Good days might be just as good but bad days are worse. Sometimes those bad days follow one after another. I can barely get out of the bed, even making myself a cup of tea seems like too much work. I would rather stay in bed and keep sleeping because that is the only activity that does not require energy and any emotion. On my bad days I feel helpless. Going grocery shopping and cooking is too much work, I would rather starve for a little longer. Going out to see my friends takes too much energy and effort. And… are they even my friends? I hate that in adult life it is normal to talk to people you call your friends just once a week or less. In my eyes that makes them turn into acquaintances. Friends are those, who are with you through good and bad times, not those, who you resist to call because you feel like such a meaningless person in their lives.

Since January of this year something terrible has been happening to me. Or I should probably say that something happened and I have been living with consequences ever since. Someone that I just started seeing and getting to know, really let me down. He lied to me about something very serious and then had the nerve to tell me he has nothing to do with it and it is all my fault. We have not talked since and I was left alone to deal with the situation. I am still dealing with it. Still feeling anxious and getting panic attacks because of it. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and it sucks to feel alone in this situation. I have talked to my family and few of my so-called friends but it still hurts. It feels like physical healing is way faster than the emotional one because I am still crying about it until this day. Maybe in the future I will talk about this even in depth but right now I am just not ready for this.

So I keep living: breathing, writing and trying to function like a normal human being. Sometimes I fail and sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I spend most of the day in bed with my laptop or simply sleeping. Sometimes I get out of bed, go to work, meet my friends and actually manage to be quite productive. I have not given up. As long as I am breathing, I am still trying. Sometimes I fail to take care of myself and get drunk or sleep all day but that is okay. Living without being on medication is not easier but it is worth it overall. Even if I do not write or play the guitar every day, I am still more inspired to do it than, for example, two years ago. Even if I do not feel happy every day, at least I have emotions instead of the dull, empty feeling that was caused by antidepressants. Even if all I can manage to do in a day is do my laundry, cook some pasta, shower and clean the bedside table, it is better than sleeping all day and not caring about my surroundings.

This is my recovery – it is messy, unpredictable, with its’ ups and downs but it is happening. If you are in a similar position right now, you are not alone. Stop being too hard on yourself. Stop expecting fast recovery but know that it gets better.

Love, Porcelain Doll.

 

10 red flags you should not ignore in your new workplace.

man in a suit, sitting at the table and having a phone conversation

Dear readers! My life has been kind of hectic for the past two or three weeks and the main concern of mine has been work. Before I was so worried about being unemployed that I did not realize that being employed but working in an emotionally abusive environment is worse that being unemployed. Today is the day I realize I can not tolerate it anymore and the things that have been happening to me are not normal. Why am I sharing this? Because I do not want you to go through the same unpleasant experience I went through. Learn from my mistakes. Let’s begin!

  1. You get promised unrealistic salary, comparing to average salary in the industry. In this case I am talking about waitressing. In Latvia average salary of a waitress is 590 euros, according to website algas.lv . When I saw the advertisement and went to interview, I was a little surprised that I got promised 1000 to 1500 euros monthly, if I do my job well, however, at that time some people told me that such salary might be realistic in a capital city, especially, if I work in an area which tourists visit quite often. Turns out I was wrong – most waitresses do not earn that much, especially, if they are working only 15 days a month or less. Life lesson – check average salary in the industry in your city or at least country, if possible.
  2. You start the job with no previous experience, get promised training but never receive it. It is still a mystery, why I have not received the training they promised me about two weeks ago but it is what it is. Just another shady thing in the mix.
  3. Your boss talks shit behind your and your coworkers’ back. Major red flag that I foolishly ignored at first. I thought that maybe someone is a really bad employee and deserves all the bad words that were said about them but… no. If your boss is badmouthing a certain person behind their back, she / he is probably doing the same to you.
  4. You get promised a certain work schedule that is never made or made without you having a say in it. Even though waitressing is the type of job that ignores your brother’s birthday, national celebration or something similar, schedule has to be made. If it says in the contract that next month’s schedule is made in the previous month with signed agreement of all employees and it is not, that is just another red flag. You deserve a boss, who respects your time. When you work, you are all in. When you visit your family or rest, you deserve to enjoy it instead of stressing out about being randomly called in to work.
  5. You have toxic colleagues. Waitressing is one of those jobs where teamwork is incredibly important. However, in a way it just like playing basketball – if someone in your own team sabotages or ignores you, successful teamwork is impossible. Besides – if your colleague is telling bad things about your to your boss, you are in trouble even more.
  6. Your boss is constantly criticizing you. This time I am not talking about constructive criticism which actually improves the quality of the work. I am talking about the type of critique that lowers your self-esteem, increases the level of stress and decreases your ability to work. In my case I was too stressed that I started to suffer from panic attacks again which made me incapable of doing my job as well as I could. (To know more about how it feels to live with a panic disorder, read this post.)
  7. There is no equality in workplace and rules constantly change. One day I was supposed to use the tray, another I was told not to use it. One day I was supposed to answer to phone calls, on another it was forbidden to do so. My colleague can do whatever she wants, break as many glasses as she wishes, be clumsy, slow and fuck up stuff, and get away with it but as soon as I make a mistake, I am repeatedly told, how much I suck at this job.
  8. Your boss and/or your colleagues do not want to help you, if you do not understand or can not find something. For fuck’s sake… Do you want me to succeed at this job or make a fool out of myself? Without any previous experience I am doing the last one because you deny your help whenever I need it. So what, if it is my fifth day at work and I can not find toothpicks? Be a decent person and help me, instead of looking down on me.
  9. Employees change often. If it is not even your second week yet and you have seen more than one person leaving and new, naive people coming in place, it is a bad sign. Even worse, if the place you work for a looking for employees for months but can not  find dedicated ones.
  10. Your boss is never open for new ideas. “We have always done it this way and that is it. Changing something is not necessary and will not work.” It does not matter that at some point you are excited to make improvements in your job, you are too young and dumb to offer valuable ideas.

I could probably dig up some more red flags that are quite common not only in my workplace but also in many others but I will not. Let’s stop here. The next thing that I have to do today is take a nap and then go to the city centre to quit the damn job. I have pride, I know my worth and I will not let anyone make me feel like I am less than. And neither should you. If you have noticed more than one of these red flags in your own workplace, I would suggest you to reconsider working there. If you are putting all your time, energy and effort into work and it still is quite bad, quit it. Your mental and physical health is something valuable and no amount of money can buy it back once it is damaged. Take care!

Love, Porcelain Doll.