Thursday, 24 November 2016

Thrush Is The Devil

Raise your hand if you've ever convinced yourself you were dying only to discover you had a UTI, thrush or some other absolutely run of the mill ailment? At age 15 I ran crying to my mother, 100% convinced I had some form of vaginal cancer which turned out to be an ingrown hair. So much worrying and lost sleep over a hair that lost its way to the surface? 

Looking back I place the blame squarely on my education, or lack thereof, on personal and sexual health so that's what's up for discussion today.

Sex ed in secondary school for me was a brief run down through the stages of puberty, the biology of how a baby is made and some scary facts about contraception & STI's. The main aim of this chat seemed to have been the typically Catholic; 'sex is bad, don't ever do it or you'll contract AID's or get pregnant and die of the shame.' To be fair, I went to an all girls mercy convent so what else could I have expected? The idea of an adequate and comprehensive education on sexual health would probably make the school board shit themselves. God forbid we arm teenagers with such knowledge!

This post is essentially going to be a compilation of the things I've learned about my body (and just human bodies in general), mostly in terms of sexual health veering a bit into personal health. All the things I wish they'd taught me in school instead of making me learn the hard way that thrush is in fact, not fatal.

I'm gonna try sub-divide things as much as I can but there's loads of over lap with these things so bear with me* while I try get a handle on this!

Sex Education

The majority of us got the same starter talk when we were 6th class (or whatever the equivalent is where you're from, roughly about age 11/12). Boys & girls divided up to be told about wet dreams and periods respectively because the boys 'aren't mature enough to know about periods yet.'

Fuck. Off.

Give them a little bit of credit. How can you expect boys to mature at any rate at all if we perpetuate this bullshit? What about the boys who don't identify as male? I won't go too deep into this because frankly I don't feel well enough equipped but let's just all agree that the majority of transgender people know from a young age what gender they identify as so I can only imagine the distress this segregation of sexes would put some children through.

Boys need to know about periods too. They'll have loved ones who get periods so why not educate them so it becomes a normal fact of life for them too? Just because it's not happening in their bodies doesn't mean they shouldn't be taught about it. Personally I've never photosynthesised but they made me learn about that shit so why not let boys in on periods? Some of those boys will go on to be parents and there's nothing worse than a dad who's terrified of that time of month.

Same goes for girls learning about what happens to boys during puberty. No need for the hush hush attitude, just lay it all out on the table in terms that an 11 year old will understand et voila, job done.

Any tittering down the back of the class? Tell that kid to shut the fuck up and cop on. Sorted.


Hello darkness my old friend.

I genuinely thought I was on deaths door the first time I had thrush. It was another case of running crying to Mammy & having to book a doctors appointment. I was terrified so I delayed asking about it and it got really bad before I made it to the doctor and I had to get the antibiotics to make it go away. (Sidenote: I am NOT a fan of the speculum. No thanks. Not today Satan. G'way from me.)

Anyway, main point is; thrush is so normal but do they tell you that in school? No. Is that included in any of your sex ed lessons in SPHE? No. Should it be? Obviously.

You feel so gross the first time you get it. You're there thinking; 'shit, do I not shower often enough? How did this happen exactly?' Honey, you did absolutely nothing wrong. Not even close. Vaginas are magical areas that, like every other part of our body, have loads of harmless bacteria. Bacteria that's just doing it's thing, keeping everything healthy & clean. Sometimes there's a spike in population of a particular bacteria (candida) and that's what causes thrush. No correlation to cleanliness, promiscuity or any of that.

On that note, I'd also like to add that 'feminine hygiene' products are bad. So bad. The worst. Actual Satan. Vaginas aren't supposed to smell like flowers so fuck off with your 'feminine douches' and special fucking shower gel. If you use these products STOP. They are so, so bad for your lil lady garden. Vaginas are self cleaning so you don't need any of that stuff I promise you. This is another wonderful example of how the education system fails us all, no one tells you that your vagina just does it's own thing and it's perfectly happy doing so. Just let it be alright?


Perfect segway into this topic, discharge. No one tells you that you it's normal. No one tells you that it's just your body cleaning itself. If your underwear is clean at the end of the day then go visit your GP because that is not healthy my friend.


Typing that made me shudder. I hate UTI's more than anything, they're the fucking worst.

Again, just some bacteria was doing it's thing but then uh-oh, it goes up your urethra (or peehole, if you will) and makes a bit of a fuss and it stings when you wee. There's also just a lot of discomfort, pain & if left unattended you could get a kidney infection so sort that shit out pals.

Did they tell us about this in school? Fuck no.


Ok so seeing as I went to a Catholic convent for secondary school, there was never going to be an emphasis on sexuality but there should have been. Would I have figured my shit out a lot sooner had I known more about sexuality and the fact that it's A-ok to not be heterosexual? Maybe.

Education should be inclusive so sexuality should be covered insofar as teaching young people about the the vast spectrum of sexual preference. Teach them about the Kinsey scale and how pretty much no one is 100% gay or straight. Save a lot of children an awful lot of emotional turmoil and upset by showing them from the offset that it's perfectly ok to be attracted to whoever you're attracted to. Preach equality and love.

Sexuality should also come into sex ed in terms of teaching everyone how to practise safe sex with a partner of the opposite sex or a partner of the same sex. It shouldn't just be about heterosexual sex.

Also tying into this topic; gender. It should also be taught that not everyone's physical gender matches up with the gender they identify as and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. No one should be alienated for their gender preference or sexuality and how do we breakdown stereotypes, minimise exclusion & misinformation? Education. Everyone deserves to be represented in mainstream sex ed.


This is a big one. Colossal.

Please, please, please take the following points into consideration when you're thinking about consent;
- No means no. There's no reading between the lines. No wiggle room. Not open to interpretation. It is what it is and if you hear your partner say 'no' then you back the fuck off. I don't care if you're just holding hands or if you're in the middle of actually having sex. Back off.
- Rape can happen to anyone so stop with the female focused rhetoric because it's not exclusive and it's bullshit. It happens to men too.
- I don't give a flying fuck what that person was wearing, what conversations have happened in the past, what kind of photos they've sent you, whether or not you've already slept with them. If they don't want to sleep with you, accept it and walk away. Do not harass them. Do not spread rumours. Do not call them a 'prude'. Do not force yourself on them. Walk the fuck away and get your kicks elsewhere.
- If your mates are harassing someone step up and tell them to cop on. Even if you're not partaking in the slagging, you're just as bad as they are for not telling them to shut the fuck up.

If you see something shady then step in and sort it out. Don't be a bystander while someone is being degraded or hurt or if their life is being ruined by some dickhead. Don't be that person.


Little bit more light hearted for the end. I distinctly remember my 'best friends' taking the piss out of me in first or second year for not knowing that I was supposed to shave my pubic hair off. (I hadn't even been kissed at this stage nor had I started shaving my legs so I couldn't have given less of a fuck about pubes to be perfectly honest).

I thought pubes were a sign of being a woman and being all grown up so I was pretty disheartened to hear that they're actually 'gross' and 'unhygienic'.

Anyway, main point here is that pubes are normal, natural & definitely not unhygienic. They're all yours to do with what you wish. I can guarantee no sexual partner worth your time is going to complain about your pubes or lack thereof. (If they do then I'm sorry to say that you're probably about to ride a 12 year old so step away.)
Pro tip; if you do choose to shave, use baby oil afterwards to stop the regrowth from being really prickly & uncomfortable.

Ingrown hairs are also common and if you're as unlucky as me, they could embed themselves deep enough that they wrap around the nerve and cause an abscess (which is the most painful thing I've ever experienced, -35/10, would not inflict on worst enemy). Best way of avoiding these? Going commando. Feels weird at first but then you grow to kind of like it? Just go commando at bed time and you'll see a dramatic drop in the amount of ingrown hairs, it's amazing!

I think I've covered just about everything I can think of for now but I'm open to edits if anyone has anything they'd like to correct or add! Comment below or drop me a line on Facebook bb's :*

*I've always been confused as to whether is 'bear' or 'bare' and I generally lean towards 'bare with me' but I googled it and I've been so, so wrong. 'Bare with me' is apparently an invitation to nudity so I'd be asking you all to undress. I apologise sincerely if I've ever inadvertently told you to get your kit off.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


I am a reason because it took me over a year to get an appointment with a psychiatrist through the public health system.
I am a reason because after one appointment with that psychiatrist I had to wait another 4 months to see a professional again and it wasn't even the same doctor.

I am a reason because I feel let down by my country, my government, my TD's.

I am a reason because my self harm scars are there for life.

I am a reason because SUSI wouldn't give me the grant I was rightfully owed because 'mental illness is not covered in medical leave.' They told me I 'was not sick enough.' They deemed being suicidal and dealing with issues of self harm as 'not sick enough'. Would this have been the case if I'd broken a limb?

I am a reason because I was scared to approach my new employers to inform them of my mental illness in case they thought that meant I wasn't able to do my job to the best of my abilities.

I am a reason because I struggle to sleep at night but I won't get sleeping tablets because I don't trust myself with them.

I am a reason because I feel like a burden all of the time.

I am a reason because I was labelled a drama queen by my friends, it was easier for them to belittle my emotions than help me.

I am a reason because my family was torn apart by my Uncle Michael's suicide.
I am a reason because my friend Cormac saw no other way out and took his own life.
I am a reason because the agony of watching friends and family grieve over suicide is unbearable.

I am a reason because I'm just another statistic in the system, I don't matter on a larger scale.

I am a reason because my voice is not loud enough to change anything so that others can get help.

I am a reason because I was applauded for losing weight, eating disorders don't count if you're not thin.

I am a reason because my teachers labelled it a 'phase' at a parent/teacher meeting.

I am a reason because 3 out of 4 of my immediate family are currently on anti-depressants or have been on them in the past.

I am a reason because needing medication is still seen as a weakness.

I am a reason because I'm crying as I type this.

I am a reason because I had to drop out of college due to my mental illness. I couldn't get out of bed most days. Every day was just breakdown after breakdown.

I am a reason because why would anyone bother asking for help when they're not going to get it?

I am a reason because budget cuts are more important than lives.

We are all reasons and we all matter. We shouldn't need to justify our own right to adequate healthcare. We deserve better from those in charge.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Let's Talk About; Self Care

Instead of making a bullshit resolution involving a gym or a diet, how about implementing a self care plan to take care of your mental health first and foremost?

Yoooo talk about a concise intro, now it's time to get shit done son.

What is self care? It might sound like a bad euphemism for masturbation and if that's how you look after your mental health then you do you my friend (not even gonna bother making a joke there, too easy). However, the general idea of self care is prioritising your own happiness and good state of mind over other things in your life. Self care is a huge part of my life and for me it's really important for keeping me in a good state of mind.

So you feel shitty for whatever reason and you want advice on how to feel less shitty or even actually feel good, my first question is; are you looking after yourself? That's literally the entire basis for self care (in my opinion anyways). Here are some ways to banish those shitty feelings, take a breather, relax a bit, sort yourself out etc etc.;

  • Have a bath - tell everyone at home that you're taking 30 minutes to yourself, run that bath, use that fancy ass Lush bath bomb and chill. Relax. Take a few deep breaths. The bath is a magical land of relaxation, embrace it.
  • Stop saving stuff up for important use - fancy hand creams, fancy wine, expensive stuff that you've decided to hide away for special occasions. In the words of some very wise people, treat yo'self. What is the worst that can happen if you drink a glass of that champagne with your spag bol on a Tuesday evening? Add a bit of special to your day because you're worth it, life is short and why the fuck not? Don't do this every day because then it'll lose it's magic but every once in a while, go mad. Do it. It's fun. You don't need a reason to be good to yourself so give a regular day some magic.
  • Don't apologise for anything that makes you happy - unless it's something that's illegal or generally frowned upon, just own it. I enjoy seeing dogs on the street and I like pointing them out to whoever's with me or, if possible, going up and making friends with dogs. It's fab and yeah a lot of people think it's a bit sad to get so happy over a little four legged animal but fuck them, dogs are great. It reflects more on the meanie giving you grief over your happiness than it does on you, they're projecting onto you. They're a sad, little person who's parents didn't hug them enough. Hug them and whisper 'get a life' in their ear, then walk off and keep going on your merry way.
  • Learn to recognise toxicity and learn to distance yourself - toxic people are unavoidable but what you can do to minimise their impact is try to distance yourself or if that's not feasible, put up your walls. Visualise all their bullshit as a physical substance emanating from them, visualise a wall around yourself and that substance bouncing off it and going right back to them. Sounds stupid but just try it and you'll see how it works.
  •  Don't take on other people's shit - everyone has enough of their own so don't burden yourself. You can be sympathetic without being empathetic.
  • Little things are key - I'm such a 'little things' person, it's genuinely uplifting to smile at the small things that happen during your day. Hearing your favourite song on the radio, finding a fiver in your pocket, not getting rained on while walking to work/college/school/the shops, rainbows, I live for shit like that. Start looking out for these little things, feel them good vibes.
  • Treat. Yo. Self. - I know I mentioned this above but this deserves a whole bullet point to itself. Have some spare cash this week and you've been admiring something in a shop window for a while? What's stopping you? It's ok to be frivolous every now and again! If it's going to make you feel good then it'll have a positive impact on your mindset, make yourself feel special.
  • Light a candle - ridiculous but for some reason this is a big one for me, my Yankee collection is ever growing because there's just something about candles that makes me happy and relaxes me.
  • Routines and rituals - there's something about the human psyche that finds rituals so very pleasing and I'm embracing that 100%. Making tea, getting ready for a shower, putting on my makeup, these are all things that I have a routine for and these routines give me so much peace and solace, I can't even begin to explain why. Start acknowledging your daily rituals, savour them, this is one way you can find happiness in your every day.
  • Meditation and mindfulness - self explanatory, all that deep breathing is bound to relax you at the very least. Go check out the Headspace app, 10 minute guided mindfulness sessions, a godsend if you are a busy human who might only have 10 minutes to spare. The guy who created Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, has a TED talk so he must be doing something right?

I think these are all the tips I can muster for the moment so if I think of more I'll be back with a revised version of this post. Try a few of these ideas, they're all so easy so you've no excuse! If you have any more things you'd like to add to the list, leave a comment below, tweet me (@EarthToNiamh) or go leave a post on the Glitter & Glory facebook page.

2016 is the international year of Get Your Shit Together so go forth and conquer kids xo