My Relationship with Facebook: It’s Complicated

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true, it’s more of a obsessive-need/hate relationship. Either way, it’s complicated.

I check Facebook every day, not even just once a day, several times a day. Not just when I get a notification on my phone, sometimes for no reason at all – in fact, most of the time for no reason because I don’t actually get that many notifications.

And that is exactly where my ‘obsession’ becomes harmful.

As someone who suffers with depression and social anxiety, and who has also moved around 300 miles away from practically everyone she knew, I desperately want social media to provide me with the social contact, love, care and support that other people get from actually friends they see as part of their day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, whether it’s down to age or something else, very few of my Facebook friends seem to engage with Facebook on a regular basis and those that do don’t seem to engage with me – it’s from this point that the little depression demon in my head starts running round in circles yelling unhelpful comments like “They’re deliberately ignoring you”, “Everybody hates you”, “No-one wants to speak to you”, “You’re annoying and boring” and other increasingly nasty and unhelpful things like that until I want to scream and shout and then curl up, cry and never show my face in public ever again.

Basically, for me anyway, Facebook is a depression enabler – it provides my depression demon with more than enough ammunition to totally destroy any small crumb of happiness or confidence I might have built up. A wonderful combination of images and status updates that show how wonderful everyone else’s’ lives are combined with an almost complete lack of interaction and much desired social contact for me.

I’d would like to point out at this point that my rational brain knowns that none of this is the fault of the people I know, this is all totally the result of how I (over)react to things. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, the result is always the same.

The only thing I have left is to seriously cut down on using the damn thing – which sounds easy enough but I have so far failed in this. Maybe because the occasional optimist in me always hopes that someone might have sent me a message but my phone has forgotten to update me (cos that happens all the time, right?). Maybe it’s just become such a habit over the years that I just can’t help myself.
I do go through periods of thinking it would be easiest to just delete my profile and never use it again – but then I don’t know if anyone would ever contact me again, at least while I’m still signed up then there’s a chance.

I’m sorry if this has been a bit of a whingy post, but it’s something that I needed to get off my chest. I also hope that if I write it down and make it public then I might actually stick to reducing my use and ending this damaging obsession.

Thanks for reading,
Love,

Graduation Day

Just less than two weeks ago I finally graduated from my PhD and brought 8 years of University to an end.

It was a lovely sunny day, although a little bit hot to be sat around in academic robes. The robes for PhD graduates from the University of Southampton are a delightful combination of burgundy and light blue, which made selecting an outfit a little difficult. I went with a very safe black dress with a simple crane pattern, from Monsoon (in the sale).

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I was pretty nervous before the ceremony – having to walk across a stage in front of a hall full of people, what if I fell over? Plus, when you get a PhD you have to kneel on a stool in front of the Vice Chancellor and they put the hood over your head. What if I completely misjudged the stool and ended up collapsing into the Vice Chancellor’s lap?

Yeah, I get a bit ridiculous and paranoid about these things.

Needless to say, nothing terrible happened. I walked up, knelt down, got my hood put on, had a brief chat with the Vice Chancellor and left. Now I’m 100% officially a Doctor and even have the certificate so I can go get my title changed on my bank cards 🙂

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It was a nice day, especially as my parents came down to visit and Pete got the day off work to be able to be there. In the evening we were also joined by my sister and her boyfriend for dinner, it isn’t often we get the whole family together like that 🙂

These past few weeks have been pretty crazy. A few days after my graduation we had to head up north for my cousin’s wedding, followed a few days later by my 28th Birthday. In addition, we’ve been trying to make some pretty big life decisions about moving home and our job situation, as I am still struggling to find work. So all-in-all it’s been pretty hectic and chaotic.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might have noticed that I have recently become an Instagram-er, as I got a new iPod for my birthday that can use Instagram, unlike my phone. I haven’t posted too many photos yet, but think it’s definitely something I could get carried away with! Find me by searching ‘betty_leopard’, and let me know if you use Instagram too, I’m very keen to find interesting people to follow.

Thanks for reading,
I hope you’re well.

Love

Betty

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Universal Letter Writing Week 8th-14th January

This week is Universal Letter Writing Week.

Image from morgueFile

A handwritten letter is a truly elegant way of communicating. Unfortunately, the past century has seen a relentless influx of new, more convenient, and speedier means of communicating – the telephone, fax, pagers, emails, text messages, social networking, skype. The Royal Mail is no longer an essential communication service, becoming an essential eBay delivery service (still very important!).
When you think about it, none of these new forms of communication really come close to the joy and excitement of a pretty, handwritten letter or card dropping onto your doorstep. Now, January might not be the best time to ask this question as Christmas can provoke a need to send letters and cards, but when did you last send or receive a meaningful card or letter? Just a name and generic greeting (Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas etc). doesn’t count, by the way. How did it make you feel?
I love receiving little cards, notes and letters in the post. When I graduated from uni and everyone went their separate ways back to their own home towns, my friends and I would regularly send each other cards with little doodles and messages, even though we also regularly communicated electronically as well.
A card or letter has so much more permanence than an email or text. It’s something someone can put on a shelf or keep in a special place to pick up and read when they need to feel loved. It’s something very personal, between two people, that can be decorated and made pretty, becoming more of a keepsake than just a form of communicating.

Letter Lounge (@letterlounge) is an organisation that aims to encourage letter writing. They host letter writing events, complete with pens, paper, cake and even stamps, where you can go along and take some time to write a letter to someone. They even post the letters for you, so it’s pretty minimal effort on your part!
It just so happens that there is a Letter Lounge event this week! If you’re in London on Thursday evening (6pm – 8pm), head over to the Tatty Devine shop on Monmouth Street and check out their Letter Lounge event. If you are running your own event, you can also get in touch with the people at Letter Lounge and get them to come along and set up shop!

If, like me, you’re not in London, you can still try your hand at writing a letter or card and sending it to a loved one. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for pretty stationery, and this would certainly be the perfect opportunity to buy some! If I’m shopping on the high street, I like Paperchase for pretty cards and writing sets. But, truth be told, if I’ve got the time to get things delivered, Etsy is brilliant for unique and interesting cards and stationery.

Clockwise from top left:
Dandelion Writing Set. £2.50 for 10 sheets of paper, 10 envelopes and 10 address labels
Ava Zip Letter Set. £2.75 for 10 sheets of paper, 10 envelopes and 10 address labels
Lazer Cut Floral Cards. £7.00 for 5 cards with envelopes
Kista Note Cards. £4.75 for 8 cards with envelopes
Clockwise from top left:
Mini Note Cards: Japanese Kokeshi Doll. £2.33 for 12 mini cards (based in Utah)
Grey and Peach Note Cards. £3.99 for 4 cards with envelopes (based in Florida)
Four Owls Mini Letter Writing Set. £9.98 for 12 sheets of paper, 12 envelopes and 12 labels (based in West Virginia)
Bowls Letter Writing Set. £7.50 for 8 sheets of paper and 4 enveloped (based in London)

Of course, if you have the time, you could always make your own absolutely unique and personal stationery. All you need is some paper or card, some pens/paints/stickers/sequins/etc and let your creativity run wild!

All this, and I haven’t even started thinking about the right pen for writing with!
Can you think of someone to write a letter to? A Friend or Relative? A proper thank you letter for a Christmas gift? Or, if not, write a letter to yourself to open in a years time (or longer)?

Happy Letter Writing,
Love,
Betty
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New Year: 2012

This time last year I set out a short list of resolutions, things I wanted to achieve and develop during 2011 (here). Looking back over this list one year on, I’ve done ok, better than I expected anyway 🙂 This is a bit of a wordy post I’m afraid, but is something I really want to write about.

Reviewing my 2011 Resolutions

1. Lose Weight/Tone Up
Over the summer I put in a lot of effort and lost half a stone in about 2 months. While the amount of effort I’ve put in since has tailed off a bit, I haven’t put any of it back on, just lost a little bit of tone.

2. Invest in a more grown up skin-care regime
Well, I’ve written quite a lot about this over the course of the year (here). I’ve experimented with a fair few products and have found something that is certainly more suitable for my skin than what I was using before.

3. Make more time for the important people in my life
My efforts on this haven’t been wholly consistent. I’ve gone through phases in the amount of effort I’ve made, and overall probably haven’t made as much effort as I had intended 😦

4. Work on being happier/more confident and enjoying life more
My mood has fluctuated a lot this year, for various reasons, but I have definitely made significant efforts towards being happier and enjoying life more. Pete and I have made more efforts to do fun things together and I have really tried hard to stretch myself and do things that wouldn’t normally be within my comfort zone (eg. Blogger Meet!).

5. Work harder
This had probably been my area of least success. My dedication and motivation has taken a fair few hits at various points, and I think I’ve probably spent more time wishing I wasn’t doing a PhD than I have feeling positive about finishing 😦

So, that’s probably 3 and a half out of five? Could have been better could have been worse. But it’s important to keep focussing on the future, moving forward and continuing to better ourselves, not dwelling on the past and the things we could have done better.
Which brings me nicely to my resolutions for 2012. I’ve actually written a big long list of things in my ideas book, but I’ll limit myself to the key ones here.

1. Lose more weight/Regain my tone
I am very happy that I managed to lose half a stone this year, but my ideal weight is about 10 stone, which is still another half stone away. I’ve done it once so I am confident I can do it again this year 🙂
While exercise is going to be the biggest part of this (Gillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred), I want to improve my diet too, largely by reducing the amount of unrefined carbohydrates I eat.

2. Continue my efforts to be happier, confident and to enjoy life more
Again, I laid a good foundation for this is 2011, but there is more I can do. While money is always a limiting factor, I hope to get out and have fun as much as possible, with friends, family and Pete. I need to do at least one thing this year that scares me (another Blogger Meet could fulfil this one).
For the sake of minimising the number of resolutions, I should also throw making more efforts with the people I care about in here too. These people are so important and it’s too easy to forget this before you realise they’re gone.

4. Get more work published
In 2011, I had my first article published by an online magazine. I intend to get more work published, by the same magazine and, hopefully, beyond! Writing is still a career I think I might like to pursue, so I’ll need all the experience I can get.

5. Develop my skills
Specifically, I want to improve some of my craft skills, take a class on cupcake decorating and learn more about photography.

6. Leave Southampton
I have been in Southampton for more years than I care to think. It’s not a bad town, but after so long it seems a bit boring to me. I don’t want to be limited by location, there has to be somewhere better!!

7. Grow my hair
Well, it might be a bit overwhelming if all my resolutions were big ones! I’ve tried to grow my hair before and always got annoyed with it at that in-between stage. This year I really want to try and get past that. I might still want to go back to being short, but I at least want to try it longer 🙂


The prospect of an entire new year spread out in front of me, with so many things I want to achieve, is quite daunting. I am hopeful for a year of positive developments and making happy memories.
Have you taken any time to think about your ambitions for 2012? Whether you have or haven’t, I hope the year holds good things for you too.

Love,
Betty
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