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  • Maeve Waite

    Maeve Waite

    24 year old work psychologist, mental health advocate and future dachshund owner. occasional writer, baker and photo taker. posts have been featured on time to change and mental movement magazine, and I sometimes like to write all lower case.
    Oxford, UK

    Well, hello. It's been a while since I've posted anything on here (4 months to be exact) so I figured it was about time to add something to make the homepage look a little bit different!

    The main reason I've not written anything in a while is because frankly, I haven't really wanted to. I've had ideas for things but had zero motivation to write, and I suspect it's been because 2018 has been a particularly tough year. There have been long periods where I've just felt really low and run down, and it's not exactly the spur I need to write. I won't really go into it as it's not exactly fun to talk about, but I decided on this dark December Monday, that I didn't want this year to go out with a huge gap on this place. I didn't want to constantly remember this train wreck of a year for all its bad, when there have still been some really lovely and fun memories - funnily enough, more so after the big change of the year - so here we are. Go for your life.

    That time I went to Asia again
    In October, my best friends and I ventured over to Thailand, Singapore and Bali where we had a jam-packed, fun-filled adventure holiday, complete with cocktails, mosquito bites, and the odd bit of sunburn. I can't pick just one photo from the entire trip, so that's why it took you this long to get to this paragraph, but eventually I will put up individual posts so I can show off ALLLL the pictures!

    That time I went for cocktails on the roof
    Bar Elba near Waterloo in London has been one of my favourite drinking establishments this year. Its sister bar, Tonight Josephine, is also one of my faves, but Elba is on the roof, meaning you get a nice view, drinks, sunshine and street food all in one place, so it has the edge.

    That time I got my ears pierced again and went to the Botanic Gardens for the first time in about 20 years
    In May, my best friend Annie and I started our summertime celebrations early, by finally getting a second hole punched into each of my earlobes, wining and dining at Pizza Express, drinking more cocktails on a different roof, and by wandering around the Botanic Gardens. You just don't appreciate these places when you're a kid - but I was snap happy playing photographer all day.

    That time I went to Brighton again
    At the end of September my friends and I ventured south to the coast to see Brighton, one of my favourite places in the country. We spent far too long in the Photo booth shop, ate Mexican food, lost too many pennies in the arcade, and had a dance-off on the dance mats. All in all, a glorious day.

    That time I went to London and ate ice cream
    On what was one of my least looked-forward-to days of the year, I met my best friend in London and we ate ice cream, drank cocktails and vented. And it cheered me right up. Also, Milk Bar in Covent Garden is a delight.

    That time I saw Beyonce live again
    I know it's expensive, but I never regret a Beyonce concert ticket purchase. On The Run II was amazing and this was the night The Carters dropped their surprise album (woohoooo)...

    That time I went back to my roots
    Every year, the village near me hosts a summer carnival, and going back this year was needed. I always feel nostalgic when it's on, as I associate with family who sadly aren't here anymore. Still, a good day out and the fudge tent was enough reason to go anyways...

    That time I turned 25
    A quarter of a century old, and it's been quite the year to celebrate it on. My family have been my rock this year, and I'm very, very grateful.

    That time I went to Lisbon
    My friends and I had planned this for a few months previously, and it honestly couldn't have come at a better time. We had a great weekend exploring the city, visiting Sintra, and they even surprised me with an early birthday present of a boat trip around the whole place. Loved it!

    That time I took a photography course
    Photography has always been one of my big hobbies, and after saying it for a long time I got so bored hearing my own voice, I booked a course to try and get to grips with what my camera means. I loved it so much I booked another one on the same day, so 2019 will bring more learning my way!

    That time I got a job in (and nearly moved to) London
    Whilst this plan didn't entirely work out how I'd anticipated it to, I'm grateful for the experience. It let me get a taste of London life, commuter life (not my fave), and I worked in a fancy building that had this view so I can't complain. Maybe I'll return in the future, WHO KNOWS?

    That (/Those) time(s) I got a (/two) tattoo(s)
    Another thing ticked off the bucket list: I got a tattoo! Two, actually! Obviously I have plans for more, but they're expensive, these things! I have the above one on my finger, and a semi-colon on my outer left wrist, which is so small it's hardly worth picturing. I'll be getting it expanded and more in 2019!

    That time my friend came to Oxford and I had perhaps the best cocktail of my life
    If you've not been to The Alchemist, go and have a Solero. Like a Pornstar Martini with white chocolate foam (whipped cream) on top. HEAVEN.

    That time I went to Cambridge and felt like a sort of traitor
    I joke, but having grown up with Oxford on my doorstep, it was a bit weird to suddenly find myself in Cambridge and yes I realise that's a very middle class thing to say. Still, I got the 'tour' and burgers with my friend Rob, and I got trained in ASIST so it was all good fun!

    That time I went for a meeting for work in the countryside
    Perhaps the 6 hour round trip for that short a meeting wasn't the best use of my time, but being out of London, in a place I didn't really know, for a little while was laaavely.

    That time it felt like Christmas
    This one's a recent one, but we had our annual family party the other day and all the lights were on, and everyone was happy...I love this time of year.

    That time we got crafty for Mind
    My friend hosted a Crafternoon for Mind this year where we raised money whilst making our own Christmas decorations. Needless to say, it was glorious and a lot of fun, and now I have filled even more spaces on my Christmas tree.

    That time I saw my first real-life reindeer
    Why it took me 25 years I'll never know.

    That time I went to the most Christmassy pub in London...and ate pad thai
    I had no idea the only food you can get at the Churchill Arms in Notting Hill was Thai food until my friend told me. It was very good and very festive.

    That time I went to Dublin
    God knows how long I've been wanting to visit and yet we as a family never managed it in our near-yearly trips to Ireland, until now. I loved it and I want to go back ASAP. I also bought another thing with my name on because I'm 25 and the novelty still hasn't worn off.

    That time The Ivy gave us free champagne
    It was because the service wasn't great, but hey it felt fancy so cheers!

    That time my best friend and I went and watched one of my favourite Christmas movies with a hot chocolate and a bean bag and sweets after a very Christmassy day
    See above.

    M x
    . Monday, 17 December 2018 .

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    . Tuesday, 21 August 2018 .

    This is one of those 10pm vents, so sorry if it comes out a bit unorganised. I've been open about my struggles with my mental health for a little while now, and I've always tried to be one of those people who listens and tries to understand without judgement when others are going through something too.

    I'm passionate about fighting stigma against mental health, and I'll always encourage people to talk about it and share their experiences if they want to.

    I never want anyone else to be in the same position I was when I first started struggling - alone, confused, and scared. It's a horrible feeling, and particularly if you struggle with depression and/or anxiety, your brain has probably convinced you of any/all of the following:

    • no one else cares
    • you'll only worry someone
    • people will judge/hate you for it
    • you'll be seen as 'ill' and treated differently

    It's isolating, and that's the way these illnesses work: to cut you off from all your resources - and that's one of the hardest parts of recovery; ignoring these thoughts and opening up.

    I've been lucky and even flattered that over the years, a lot of people have felt comfortable enough to open up to me and be able to talk about what's bothering them. I'm glad I can be a listening ear when they need it, particularly if they feel they can't talk to anyone else.

    Unfortunately, I've also had people over the years who have 100% taken advantage of my help, and perhaps to an extent, I've let them, whilst dealing with my own issues. I've had a lot of people want my advice or me to listen, but absolutely don't want to return the favour. I've had people shoot me when I'm down and then suddenly come back around when they want something. It feels like crap.

    I've felt used and hurt, and ultimately, like I couldn't really trust anyone. It's only then intensified those isolating thoughts my illness tells me - that people don't really give a damn. I know this isn't true for most of the people around me, but for the odd few, it is. I've worked hard on this, and so I've distanced myself or cut them out. It's draining and it's painful, but the negative effect on my own mental health is not worth it for someone who doesn't care, or who is actively using/making things harder for me.

    So, even if this goes against everything I've been taught, and even if my brain is telling me how selfish I am and how unkind this is, and what a bad person I am, I'm sticking to it - I cannot be anyone's therapist anymore.

    This does not mean I do not care. It just means I can't fix things for people. I can listen and try to understand and signpost, but I cannot take it away for good. Working in mental health has taught me a lot over the years and maybe this is why people feel more comfortable coming to me (?), but I am still not a trained therapist. All I can do is try to point people in the right direction, and then, it's up to them to work. I'll still support, and listen, but that's all I can do.

    The reason why I'm taking this new stance is because of the above. Because too many people have taken advantage of my help, and frankly, because I need to focus on my own recovery - particularly now, after some big changes in my life. Whilst I love what I do and I love that I'm involved in mental health, sometimes it all just gets too overwhelming.

    I don't think we should ever expect someone untrained to take on board all our issues because you still don't know what they're going through. I absolutely don't think you should unload on someone unless you'd be prepared to do the same if the situation was reversed. But that's just my opinion.

    I don't really know how to end this except to reiterate again - I do care, I just need to look after myself too. If I can't help myself, I can't help anyone with anything! We are allowed to be a little selfish sometimes!

    M x
    . Tuesday, 24 July 2018 .

    As part of our trip to Lisbon, we took a day out to the town of Sintra, which is about an hour out of capital, in the mountains. It's home to various palaces and historical sites, including the famous Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. Despite the weather, it really was an amazing day up in the mountains...but bladdy freezing!

    We used the hop-on hop-off bus tours to get around - as it's pretty far to walk amongst each landmark, and we only had limited time! It wasn't too expensive, and it was so convenient whilst giving us control over what we could go and see.

    We wandered through the pebbled streets, stopped for a crepe, climbed big hills and walked around what felt like a very small rainforest, and it was amazing. The weather, not so much. We were told that Sintra has its own micro-climate, so be sure to pack waterproofs...

    If I have to recommend two places to visit, it'd be the Quinta da Regaleira and Pena Palace. Regaleira is a beautiful old estate, which has its own gardens, lake and is home to some of the most amazing plants! It's actually a UNESCO site, and what's basically the Portuguese version of an English country estate and one of the must-dos there is the incredible Initiation Well (below). As someone who's ok with heights, but not heights with edges, there was only so much time I could spend up here!

    Pena Palace is used for many state occasions in Portugal, and is known for its beautifully bright coloured walls...which unfortunately were mostly covered in cloud during our visit. Still, it made for an impressive atmosphere! I can imagine you get a pretty decent view from up here, but unfortunately we couldn't see a thing :( apparently you can see it from Lisbon too! Another UNESCO site, it looks like a colourful Hogwarts/something out of GOT and sometime I'd like to go back and see it in better weather!

    A very short but sweet trip to Sintra, but I'd like to go again and explore more - apparently the lighthouse by the beach is beautiful!

    If you've enjoyed this post, please give it a pin :)

    M x
    . Thursday, 19 July 2018 .

    I'm at the point in my life now where one thing I've realised that's so important to do, is to reassure people that whatever they feel is valid. It's ok to feel pissed off/angry/fed up/confused/happy/sad etc over whatever it is, even if someone else can't get their head around why.

    A lot of times when speaking out about my mental illness, I've been met with anger and annoyance, or even complete indifference. It's made me feel like my feelings didn't really matter, or that they only caused pain and annoyance, like a burden.

    After a while, this begins to seep into the rest of your life. I felt that if nobody really cared to listen to what I felt, why should they care about what I have to say? And so, I became known as a quiet girl, often with the word 'conscientious' written on my report cards at school. Being conscientious isn't a bad thing, but I came to resent it, because that seemed to be the only word to describe me. I knew there was more to me, but I didn't feel comfortable to be myself, or to be honest about my feelings.

    Things changed when I met my ex-boyfriend 7 years ago. While things didn't work out for us in the end, I'm still grateful that I could say at least for a short time, I had someone who paid attention to me without trying to offer advice or solutions that hadn't been asked for. I had someone who listened fully without judgement and sometimes, that's all you need. Therapy helped me for the exact same reason, and if I could afford to have a session every week, I would.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that now I realise how so many of us - those with mental illnesses and those without - probably underestimate our own feelings because we feel they'll be rejected or laughed at or brushed off like they don't matter. Any feeling you feel is valid because you felt it. It doesn't matter how much people will put you down, call you crazy, laugh at you, shut you out, or even just how quickly they'll change the subject - your feelings matter.

    This culture we have of brushing over everything - the British stiff upper lip especially - is rubbish. When we degrade feeling, we make it harder for those who can't cope with their feelings to reach out. We might even lose people for good.

    I don't ever want someone to feel as I have done because it's not true. It's easy to tell you to ignore what they say and 'you do you', but when you need help, that doesn't help. If you feel you can't talk to anyone about the most hidden of feelings - write it down. Journaling has become so helpful to me these last few months and I'm sure it's prevented so many anxiety attacks.

    One last time then: feelings matter, even yours.

    M x