Hayley North

Sunday, 22 March 2015

It is okay not to be okay - anxiety and panic attacks.

So much greater

Before I go into writing this post, I just want to say this is an extremely sensitive and hard subject to write about and understand for myself and for others. I have re-written this over and over again over the last few months. Please be kind, help and support each other and I hope this helps.

Anxiety, by dictionary definition is the:

"feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome."

It is a common feeling that everyone experiences at some point in their lives, so when does it become a problem? When it starts to affect your everyday life, your thoughts and fears become unrealistic to the actual risk. You start to avoid situations that make you feel anxious, and you expect failure with daily functions such as work, school and social activities. Anxiety is something I feel on a regular basis, and it affects the majority of my life. 

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is a rush of intense psychological and physical symptoms. They often occur suddenly, and without any clear reason. They will usually last between five and twenty minutes, however it is possible to have one after another. Although it feels though you are in danger, they shouldn't cause any physical harm and they won't kill you. It is normal to become overwhelmed by fear and a sense of unreality, often seeming as if you are detached from the world around you.
The most common physical symptoms are:
  • Palpitations,
  • sweating or shivering,
  • shortness of breath,
  • feeling nauseous,
  • pins and needles, 
  • feeling tense,
  • chest pains, 
  • feeling disorientated,
  • feeling faint and dizzy (however, you shouldn't actually pass out.)
These symptoms are caused by your body going into "fight or flight" mode in response to something you think is a threat. Adrenaline is then released which causes your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up.

My Experience.

One day I started panicking, more than your usual feeling of panic. I genuinely thought I was going to die. I didn't know what was happening, this had never happened before. A few days passed and I was fine so I didn't say anything. Every now and again these attacks would happen. I wasn't sure what caused them, there wasn't any visible correlation, sometimes I'd be at school, sometimes at home, in the morning, at lunch, in the middle of the night. As the attacks started occurring more, I started to feel worse about myself, pushed my friends away and again, didn't tell anybody. One of my friends was going through something similar, so I educated myself for her sake. I was started to understand what an anxiety disorder was and each time I read about someone else's story, I felt like I was reading my own.

Cut to my first year of university, I had finally gotten out of the remote village I lived in and moved to the other side of the country. I was scared, but I was also excited, I thought that this would be the chance to leave all the crappy memories behind and start afresh. It started okay, I'd made friends, started classes, got a job, I hadn't had a panic attack in months. Then suddenly one night in my room, at 3 in the morning I woke up and had an attack. I never could pinpoint what triggered it and still can't to this day. I took the next day off classes and just laid in bed for hours. Since then, they started to occur more, I rarely went to class and the university started noticing. So I told them and I went to the doctors. After, what felt like, and encyclopaedia of self help material and talk of medication, I was put on anti-depressants. They left me in a depressed mess for around a month before I gave up with them and didn't go back to the doctors. 

Things in general got a bit better over summer, and although I was still having attacks they were manageable. Then the second year of university came round. Along came more stress and consequently more attacks, this time they got so bad I started to avoid certain situations. I had to force myself into uni every morning, I would get a few hours of sleep each night (if I was lucky) and a lot of the time I would get into uni, panic and just go home. Going out was a definite no, and the few times I did go out I couldn't let myself get drunk. I work in a nightclub which became difficult, I began to panic before, during and after work. It would only take me getting in between an argument to put me on edge. The first term I got through without it having an effect on my uni work. However in second term my work suffered and my grades dropped. That's when I spoke to my tutor again and went back to the doctors. This time, the doctor was brilliant, we had an in depth conversation and she referred me for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and counselling. Three weeks into my therapy I can understand the disorder more and I am starting to recognise the triggers, there's a lot of work still to do but I can see a way out of the dark hole I sunk in to. Six years on since my first attack I am finally receiving the help I need.

So what have I learnt from this experience? Here some advice from what my experiences have taught me.

Reach out to someone.
For a long time I thought this was something I just had to get on with, but its not. There is so much help out there, in so many different forms, you just have to tell someone. If you're not ready to go the doctors, just tell someone. That could be a family member, friend, teacher, your boss, anyone you trust. You may be able to get some help through your school, most schools, colleges and universities have counselors on site. It's amazing how much just talking about it can help.
    Don't expect everyone to understand straight away.
    I know which friends I can rely on. There are always going to be those people who will be your friends when you are happy, but when times get tough, they are nowhere to be seen. It doesn't necessarily mean they are always bad people, they might not understand the situation. However, it is also okay for you to not surround yourself around people who have a negative impact on your life.

    Don't give up.
    If one thing doesn't work, don't give up. There are so many forms of help, whether it's counselling, therapy or medication. When you go to the doctors ask for information on all of your options. It took three doctors for me to receive help that seems to be working for me. 

    Understand your triggers.
    Try to recognise your triggers, where do you feel most anxious? Is there a specific time of the day, or a place you avoid? Once you recognise them, re-introduce yourself bit by bit into that scenario. This is what I'm working on at the moment with therapist.

    Realistic goals.
    Set yourself reasonable life goals you want to achieve and make sure they are goals you truly want to reach. Use it as an incentive to beat the anxiety. For me, I could see that my work in university was being affected, so I'm using my future career in fashion as my incentive.

    Educate yourself and people around you.
    This one is more for the friends and family, read up on anxiety disorders, try to understand what it is! Education about mental illnesses is the most crucial aspect of losing the stigma surrounding them and giving the people that suffer the support to overcome it.

    You will be okay.
    There have been times where I genuinely thought I was going to die whilst I was having an attack. You need to try to remember that you will be okay, try to focus on that phrase when you start to feel anxious. You will be okay!

    If you are reading this as a panic attack sufferer, please remember that you aren't alone, anxiety is very common and you can stop it. It may take time to get over and although it is extremely terrifying, it will not kill you. Don't allow it to affect your self-esteem, these panic attacks do not define you. You are still that beautiful, brave person that you were before you started experiencing these. Stay strong and fight. 

    If you are someone that knows a sufferer, the most important thing for you to do is try to understand. There are so many resources to explain all the aspects of anxiety which can be found online, in books, at the doctors. Make sure you are there to support the individual, reassure them that they will be okay. If they are having a panic attack, don't ask loads of questions, listen to what they need and just be there. Stay calm, get water, and sit down with them. (This is from my experience.) 

    If you are just someone reading this without any experience of the above, just stay educated. You never know when you will be around someone who suffers.

    Even if sharing this helps one person out there then I will have done my job. Stay happy. 

    Ps. I've left a couple of links of posts that I found useful.

    listening to: calvin harris ft. haim|pray to god

    Friday, 13 March 2015

    What is it to be beautiful?

    We all live in a world obsessed with beauty and what is means to be of a certain gender. But what is the definition of being beautiful, and who defines the ideals of gender identification? Surely beauty is subjective, expressed in a variety of ways across different cultures.

    Jessica Yatrofsky, a photographer and film-maker from New York also believes in these ideas. Her work challenging the way mass media portrays the subject of beauty. Her raw photography undermines the institutionalised conceptions of masculinity and femininity. Her book I Heart Boy presents an 'erotic softness and quiet confidence', through the young, nude subjects expressing all their beauty openly. To see more, check it out here.

    The upcoming release of I Heart Girl is a similar notion to its successor, but this time focusing on femininity. The study of real women is described to be unadulterated and raw. Most of the imagery showing naked women celebrating their bodies for what they are. It refreshing to be reminded that beauty is found in so many different forms. i-D caught up with Jessica to talk about I Heart Girl, here is the article that made me fall in love with her work.

    Go check out some more of Jessica's work, including her films collaborating with Shaun Ross, Brooklyn Magazine, Jean Paul Gaultier and many others.

    listening to: soak|sea creatures

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015

    Stand to Attention - Innovative Tailoring

    Hey everyone. Today I thought I'd share some of my design work with you! This is probably the first outcome I actually am genuinely proud of and excited to show, hopefully you will all like it too!

    I looked at the destruction of war, both physically and mentally, and really wanted to get a feeling of chaos and entrapment across in my work. However I also wanted to turn something so horrific into something more beautiful. I first looked at artwork that resembled a chaotic atmosphere to me and came across Cy Twombly. His work consists of large brush strokes intertwined with each other, creating these interesting almost graffiti-like types pieces of artwork. I was mainly interested in a piece called 'Jedi'. I also looked at 1940's military and utility wear, as my tailoring influence.
    First concept page, including images of destruction and a Craig Green outfit.
    My camouflage colour scheme, influenced by the artwork by Cy Twombly 'Jedi' and an image of military wear that was very influential to my work.
    From Twombly's artwork I developed my colour scheme. I chose a number of colours from 'Jedi' and placed them into a camouflage print I had made on illustrator. I reworked this print over and over and over again, until I reached my final print (which I am happy with apart from one mistake!)

    I then took apart the military jacket, looking at each aspect I liked and disliked and looked at how I could change them. I looked at different epilet shapes, different pocket shapes, different ways of finishings etc. I designed over 100 outfits placing the pockets in different places, dropping the shoulders and making it asymmetric, each one being more developed each time.

    Along with the designs I made 8 toiles testing out different sizes and styles of sleeves, pockets, revers, collars, basically every aspect of the jacket!

    Alongside our collection, we also made a half jacket where we were taught all the technical aspects of both bespoke and manufactured tailored jackets.

    Final outcome
    My final jacket was chosen as one of the ten jackets to be put in the exhibition in the university, which I am extremely proud of as I feel that this was the first time on this course that I had made something well enough to place in the favourites of the year group. I received an A (which is equivalent to a First) for my jacket however was brought down by my sketchbook meaning overall I achieved a B (2:1). Still super happy though!

    Major thanks to my lovely friend Chloe who I forced to model for me! As I am always looking for feedback on my work please feel free to tell me what you think.

    listening to: kodaline|honest

    Tuesday, 27 January 2015

    Agi & Sam

    On the back of London Collections: Men, I have been inspired to start a series of my favourite current fashion designers. Recently I have being doing a great deal of company research through university about brands and designers due to my placement creeping up very quickly!

    Agi and Sam are a duo of menswear designers. Agi studied Fashion Design at  the Manchester School of Art, whilst Sam studied illustration in at the University of Lincoln. Both designers gained experience with designers before collaborating to create this brand. Agi trained at a Soho based tailors before spending a year on the menswear McQueen team. Sam developed his practice of colour, production and fabric whilst he was producing print for designers like Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld and J.W Anderson.

    Their trademarks consist of bespoke print and strong colour concepts. 

    “With a strong emphasis on entirely bespoke print and humour, we believe that fashion should never be taken too seriously. We also endeavour to sit firmly in the middle of brands that fear creating something different and those which push collections too far.”

    They seem to be part of the "gender-bending" theme present at LC:M this season. Alongside Shaun Samson replacing slogan tees with slogan aprons, is A&S, using oversized mittens with a likeness to oven gloves. More recently with the twist of the #freethenipple campaign, Rick Owens showing #freethepenis at Paris Fashion Week. In my opinion with the next wave of feminist society emerging, this is a very clever move made by a group of designers.

    Agi & Sam's AW15 collection is inspired by schoolwear and construction, with the whole show presenting a childlike feel. The jackets turned inside out revealing the inner manufacturing. The linings of coats and trousers taking the frontstage spot in the show. Distinctive colour blocking used in a innovative manner. 

    The garments ranged from duffel detailing on wool, graphic knits but still keeping with tailoring aspect very much present within the Agi & Sam brand. They twisted the tailoring concept by totally removing a good proportion of patterns.

    A navy, grey and orange palette is brings the collection to life, with an interesting use of lego covering the face polishes off the runway show perfectly. All in all, my favourite collection shown at London Collections.

    listening to: paolo nutini|pencil full of lead