Thursday, 10 October 2019

How to Stick the Fuck Up For Yourself: For Dummies...

I know I haven't been on top form recently in regards to spreading the word about mental health. For that, I want to apologise. But, I also want to stand up for myself. Before, all of my social media accounts were set to public - so I could promote my blog and offer support to even strangers.

In more recent years I struggled with this. I craved the idea of a private life. I was heading into a relationship and that is something I wished to keep private - and I'm not being funny but in the way I was so public, I couldn't even imagine a man wanting to be with me in fear of exposing them to the world of no secrets. I couldn't blame them really, it is certainly off putting.

But not only that, I had to do it for myself and my own mental well being. I've made a name for sharing my personal stories and struggles in order to help others - I still want to do so, only now I want to keep some of it to myself. I find myself wanting to use social media less, not only that, but my phone entirely.

I'm not sure I can even offer advice in this 'stick up for yourself' era because everyone that knows me well enough knows that I am... in the most polite term... a pussy.

I made my way through school with my stronger, more confident friends (like Amelia, for example) fighting any type of battle for me - she even broke up with my boyfriend and argued for me at one point. Looking back I can't quite believe I could expect that of someone, especially when I couldn't bare to do it for myself.

This year had a lot of twists and turns which caused me to finally stand my ground and be the 'bad bitch' I was telling myself I could be. I moved away from my hometown and moved in to a house share with friends. These people are no longer my friends. Well, one of them still is, ironically it's not someone who I spent the last 7 years growing a strong friendship with. It truly is funny how life works, isn't it?

As much as it is sad I have to remember that when you fall out of friendships, it doesn't matter how long you were friends for - some people were never really your friends in the first place. And that is okay.

I had to stand up for myself in a time I felt most alone, miserable and depressed. I hated my toxic living situation and even though it was quite clear that I was suffering, me moving out suddenly made me the worst person on earth.

Doing something to help my mental health and putting myself first made me a bad friend. In previous years I would've cried with guilt and anxiety, wondering why I wasn't good enough and I would kiss everyone's feet in order to keep them happy rather than me. Fuck that now.

I am not a bad person or a bad friend. People who treat me with respect will receive respect back and I will continue to put me first, no matter how selfish it may seem, as long as it's rightfully done with my mental health in mind that is all that matters to me.

Please don't be afraid to stand your ground. Life is far too short to tip toe around others or fear doing any wrong! Think of it this way - no matter what you do or how many arses you kiss, someone in the world will think you are in the wrong regardless.

Sticking up for yourself can be tough at first, but making small changes will lead to a much bigger picture - a life where you are stronger than your negative thoughts, and you stand in your power no matter how relentless other people can be. You influence yourself only.

Small ways you can stick up for yourself today:

- Be assertive. True assertiveness is asking for what you want, all while remaining respectful to others. Standing up for yourself doesn't mean you have to be a dick.

- Never beat around the bush, but be clear and polite. Make it known to people whether something is okay or not.

- Prioritise yourself, you come first! Be selfish because your needs always come first in your life.

- SAY NO. My biggest issue in life has been my struggle to say no. Even when I'd rather keel over than say yes, I'll say yes with a smile on my face. ''No'' is okay when it comes to your needs and mental health.

- Standing up for yourself doesn't have to be fighting with people all of the time - pick your battles wisely because some people are not worth the energy drain.

- Set some mother effing boundaries. Set the tone for how you want people to treat you - this means being kind, respectful and well-mannered... until someone does you wrong of course.


I am loving putting me first and being the brave, confident and lively person I've always wanted to be. I have plenty of kind and selfless friends to thank for that. Real friends who will only ever wish for my happiness - no matter what decisions I decide to make. Making such a big decision really showed me who was there for me and who would never be.

As always, here for anyone who needs it. Always.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

It's Time We Protect Our Men.

''Man up,''

''Pull yourself together mate, grow a pair of balls.''

''Stop being a pussy''

Stop. Stop using the above terms to push your friends/family and strangers away. Did you know that men accounted for three-quarters of UK deaths by suicide in 2018? That is three-quarters too many.

Men get abused, men suffer from mental health issues, men have EMOTIONS. And it is about time that, we as a society, finally stop saying 'men do not protect us anymore', take a step back, and realise that it is about time that we protect our men. 

I don't want men to suffer in silence in fear of judgement. I want men to have the confidence to speak up about their feelings, whether it is to another man or a female, with ultimate trust and respect. It is no longer a case of being too 'strong, manly or tough', some of the most emotional men I know I consider to be the manliest in my life. Not only is it attractive to hold your own, knowing who you are inside and being able to have the strength to say ''Do you know what mate, I'm not doing so good at the moment.''

It's our job, as both men and women, to confront that sort of conversation with love and support. I'm not expecting muscle men to start stroking their best friends back of an evening. Just a simple conversation about why they are feeling that way, and what you can do in order to help them.

We have the make this movement permanent before we lose too many great men to drugs, alcohol, or the worst - suicide. I'm not telling you to forget about the struggles women have faced for years, I am asking you to recognise that the issues men face are often pushed to the side because we believe nothing can break them. There are plenty of broken men out there, some who you may believe are the 'hardest'. 

If you have a friend, family member or even a male colleague that hasn't been himself recently, perhaps he is quieter than usual or he might even be acting like a complete arse wipe... ask them if everything is okay and open that conversation. Even if they don't want to talk right away, let them know you are there if and when they need it. You will be surprised at how effective such a small simple step could change everything. 

It's no ones fault. We have always been programmed to believe that men are invincible, and that we don't need to check up on our male friends, because they would tell us if something was wrong, right? You are not a mind reader, especially when everything seems fine on the outside. There is no blame or punishment. 

Just remember to look after one another. And if any men are reading this blog, please know that I am someone you can open up to - stranger or not, if you need someone to talk to, vent to or just a chat, I will happily be that person.

Protect your men so that they can protect themselves. 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

It's OK to Put Yourself First - Even if You're an Empath

My empath ways have somewhat become very tedious within the past year.

They say an empath can easily pick up on other people's emotions, I drown in them. So much so, I refuse to surround myself with negative people because I instantly drop my good mood and unknowingly sympathise with their despair through my own emotions. It's insane to say the least, especially when the guilt of blocking out those people 'in need' attacks me.

This entire blog is based on looking out for people, being kind and giving love and support to those who need it. But, as I have grown stronger this year, I seem to have built a wall around my heart - not allowing those who do not deserve my respect anywhere near my empathetic mind.

It's a beautiful thing to want to be a good person - it's nice to put others first. But, it's even greater to put yourself and your own needs first - be a little selfish from time to time. I am slowly but surely learning that my own thoughts and feelings should be respected before I allow anyone else to absorb the empathy out of me.

I didn't even know what an empath was until I was told I was one. I realised I was one when I read that they 'filter the world through their intuition and have a difficult time intellectualising their feelings.'

There are many key traits that make an empath, but here are some of mine I am trying to overcome:

Incredibly sensitive

There is nothing wrong with being a little sensitive - I know what banter is and I know what it is not, but sometimes my sensitivity can cloud my judgement. People who are naturally empathetic quickly pick up even the slightest change in others energies. I will over analyse the way people speak to me one day and how they act the next and wonder what I have done wrong. Even though I know I haven't done anything. Empaths can “feel into” other people and have the ability to deeply understand their emotions, motivations, and feelings.

Instant intimate connections

I am very good at connecting with others - I make friends easily and I'm pretty confident in saying that you could put me in a room full of strangers and I will create relationships with at least a few of them. At the same time, a lot of people could probably say that I am 'too much'. Sometimes I can connect with people too quickly and intensely, and those people may not be able to keep up the pace. Resulting in me seeming overbearing or like I said, too much. 

Forgiveness comes naturally

A lot of the time, empaths see themselves in others. I can't help but always try to understand what people may be going through, so much so, I have given plenty of excuses for how people have treated me in the past. I am very aware of any emotional baggage that some people have to deal with, and why it might influence their behaviour to me, even if it is unacceptable. Instead of not allowing people to disrespect me, I will often find a reason/excuse as to why they are acting in such a negative way. 

Difficulty to say “no”

Saying no is rejection to me. I hate to say no, even when saying yes leaves me in the shit. The main reason as to why empaths struggle to say no is because they understand how painful it can feel to be rejected. Especially if someone is in need of help or support. This will often result in empathetic people taking on responsibilities without considering their own limitations.

A lot of empath traits are very similar, but ultimately it all ends in one struggle to overcome - putting yourself and your needs FIRST. 

I don't know why I find it so difficult to be selfish - a lot of the time my mind is very selfish, but my actions say otherwise. Recently I struggled immensely with moving house. I had managed to get my own place just in time for my tenancy I share with three housemates to end. However, because it was a few days out, I had the choice to leave when it ended and find someone to replace me, or pay DOUBLE rent for another month just to keep everyone else sweet. If everyone else had stayed, I could've found a replacement and had a much less stressful month. But, because everyone then decided to leave, the tenancy notice was extended for another month and although I was well within my rights to leave scot free, I struggled with my finances instead to benefit everyone else. 

A situation like this is my idea of hell. I wanted to be selfish, I wanted to pack my belongings and live my new life without a second thought but I couldn't deal with the guilt, even though I was seen as the bad person no matter what.

When you find it difficult to put yourself first, ask yourself this one very important question:

Would the other person do the same for you?

I fucking doubt it. 

Stop feeling guilty for how others might perceive you for putting your own needs ahead of theirs. It's not fair of anyone to hold such expectations over you anyway! Anyone who judges you for such acts of self care are NOT your friends or people you want in your life. Get rid of that toxicity asap.

Monday, 5 August 2019

I Am Enough - So Are You

Why do we allow other people or situations to make us feel so tiny?

I kid you not, every time I tell someone (whether they are a close friend or even an acquaintance) I feel low or upset over something or someone the response is always and always will be...

''But you're Shannon fucking Valentine.''

I think people believe I am invincible now I have seemingly 'overcome' my health battles. I'm not 100% sure on what that phrase means entirely, but it makes my confidence shoot through the roof and I am instantly reassured. I am Shannon fucking Valentine. I've overcome just as much negativity as the next person and I use it to try and make myself a better person at least. I want to help other people do the same, more than anything. Witnessing others become their true best selves gives me more happiness than the love of a man, money, or success ever could. That is success to me, and no one can take that away from me or my legacy.

Despite my new found confidence and self-love journey I can promise you it will all crumble within minutes if I feel even an ounce of rejection. I am independent, I pay my own rent and bills, nothing I could ever want is worth it unless I can get it by myself. No one will ever tell me 'You wouldn't have this if it wasn't for me'. I spend most of my time alone and I am more than okay with that. But, as much as I have grown and my mind has become so much more powerful, I still rely on others opinions to decide my true self-worth. And that makes me sad. 

As much as it hurts like hell, going through a breakup, not having someone like you back, or even falling out with friends - If they can't see your worth now please stop wasting your time wondering if they ever will. If they wanted to, they would have seen it from the beginning. It doesn't even need to be anyone's fault. You could have everything to offer, but that doesn't mean you are entitled to everything you might initially believe you want so badly.

You can not let set backs determine how worthy you are - because you are more than worthy for anything or anyone at any time. You just have to believe it. It sounds so incredibly cringe - trust me I know! But I will never stop repeating myself until everyone I know and love can see it for themselves. Write a list about everything you love about yourself... it could be two things or it could be ten things. Whatever makes you happy or feel confident - write it down.

What I love about Shannon fucking Valentine:

- I love having big green eyes, they make me feel hella CUTE.
- I love that I want to make others feel happy.
- I love showing acts of kindness and making my loved ones feel appreciated.
- I love my long healthy hair and the fact I can now enjoy it without hiding behind it.
- I love that I give everything to people - even if they don't give anything back - because I know I put my heart into it and lost nothing. I will never be left with 'what if'.

It is a long old road to self-love, but once you're there you'll be so pleased you bought a one-way ticket. You have to be there for yourself - support your needs and nourish your thoughts with positive and uplifting behaviour. Take care of your damn self and do things you LOVE. Concerts, drawing, writing, walking, running or even just talking about how you feel. It all goes hand in hand when you want to make improvements to your life. And, in turn, yourself. 

It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or feels about it because the cold reality is you can't trust anyone to have your best interests at heart. You have no idea what anyone is really thinking so you might as well pay attention to your own thoughts instead! Growth and gratitude is all you need. 

Don't ever let anyone question your worth again. I've let people make me wonder for years why I was never enough when I was in actual fact overqualified for what they wanted/needed. Nothing wrong with that. You can't expect everyone to always choose you. You have to choose yourself.

Choose yourself every time.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

The Toughest Yet Most Rewarding Year of my Life

The title of this blog is a powerful but very truthful statement to make.

In 2016, I gained two stone practically over night due to a liver condition that was shutting my body down. It didn't work anymore, and in turn, my brain stopped working too. Everything was quickly turning to shit and I had no idea what was going on. I've never felt so low before.

In 2017, I was miserable and alone. Lol. I isolated myself and spent most of my time alone - I hated the idea of anyone looking at me or giving me the time of day. I HATED who I was with a passion and that makes me really sad. I could barely give eye contact without feeling like the recipient was judging me.

In 2018, I thought I found 'love'. Who knew that I would've been better off remaining single for a 5th year instead. But, at the same time, regardless of what I went through, I am so much stronger for it. It taught me what I deserve and what I certainly do not. It helped me look after myself and stand up for myself when people treat me poorly. I also moved out of my family home, which at first was great but I soon felt completely alone and distant again just like the previous year.

This year, despite the past trying to haunt me, everything has changed. For better and for worse. But mostly better. I have my own place in my hometown, where only I pay the bills and I have the first and last say. There is no one telling me ' You wouldn't have this if it wasn't for me' or 'You need a boyfriend or a fiance or children to live happily.' It's mine and I have never felt more proud or independent. I never thought I would have any of the things I have now just a matter of years ago. 

I have transformed myself and have never felt so confident. I don't quite know what has come over me but I'm dressing how I have always wanted to dress, regardless of my weight or how I perceive myself in the mirror. Then again, those obstacles are no longer a struggle because I love who I am and how I look. Finally. Not even just physically, emotionally I am almost everything I wish to be. Kind, caring and sincere no matter how many people try to make me bitter.

I have met people who are now going to be in my life forever. Regardless of their title, I want them forever. It's incredible how much people can change you and help you grow despite the little amount of time they know you. I feel happy with where I am right now.

I finally realise it's okay to put myself first without worrying about what negative people will think. If they can't be happy for you or support you then they do not deserve your time or effort. I have let go of people I clung on to for YEARS, knowing that I should have cut ties so long ago. It feels great to know I only have people I want and who want me in my life.

While I haven't had to deal with similar struggles like previous years, this has been the year of growth for me. I took all of the bad and turned it into positive lessons. I still have bad days, but I deal with them much better now - I look for the good and for the opportunity to learn from it.

It doesn't have to be the be all and end all. Shit happens but it's how we deal with it that matters and what makes the means for change. The first half of this year does not have to ruin the second half. I am welcoming August with open arms. You should too.