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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

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    Emily Beaumont headshot
    Emily almost died when her anorexia was at its worst (Picture: Emily Beaumont/Metro.co.uk)

    Anorexia is one of the deadliest mental illnesses.

    It is an illness that can have a devastating, lifelong impact – and in many cases it proves fatal.

    In recent years there has been a surge in awareness about the damaging influence social media sites can have on people living with eating disorders.

    Disturbing content that promotes and encourages dangerous behaviour can be found all over the internet, and certain social media platforms.

    Despite a drive to tighten regulations, the posters of this content are quick and adaptable – finding ever-more inventive ways of feeding their insidious messages into the minds of the vulnerable.

    Emily Beaumont, 17, knows just how damaging this content can be.

    She has spent the majority of her teenage years battling anorexia and self-harm, being repeatedly hospitalised and, at times, fearing for her life.

    She is desperate for changes to social media policy to be made and wants to prevent other young people from stumbling across dangerous online content.

    ‘My eating disorder began when I was around 13 years old,’ Emily tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘It started off with just trying to eat healthier and exercising a bit because I felt fat – even though I wasn’t. Then, when I started to weigh myself and saw the number go down, I felt proud of myself and like I was achieving something.

    ‘My weight carried on going down and I was eating less every day. My parents thought I just wasn’t well until we went to the doctors and I finally confessed that I was doing it on purpose.

    ‘I was down to my lowest weight at this point, so I was taken to hospital to be re-fed. This was when I was diagnosed with anorexia in 2015.

    ‘I began to gain weight, but I seesawed between anorexia and self-harm. I had many inpatient admissions for self-harm, tube feeding and numerous attempts on my life. It got to a stage where I had to be on bed-rest to reserve energy because I couldn’t even function.

    ‘At some points we didn’t know if I was going to make it through the night.

    Emily says that her condition was exacerbated by what she was seeing online. She says posts on Instagram caused her anxiety to spike and gave her the tools she needed to become even more ill.

    ‘Instagram is difficult for people with eating disorders because we can be extremely competitive,’ explains Emily.

    Emily with her mum Tracey
    Emily with her mum Tracey (Picture: Emily Beaumont/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘If someone with anorexia sees, for example, someone else who they perceive to be “more ill” than them, they will do all they can to beat them. It’s terrifying.

    ‘I have been there and I hated it, but there is nothing you can do because it’s the voice in your head telling you all these negative things and you believe them.

    ‘Instagram is full of eating disorder accounts and hashtags. For example, if you search healthy eating or something similar, somewhere on the page there will be hashtags of anorexia or other eating disorders.’

    Instagram say they work hard to protect users and remove this kind of content as soon as they are told about it.

    ‘Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the people who use Instagram,’ an Instagram spokesperson explained.

    ‘We have never allowed content that promotes or encourages eating disorders and will remove it as soon as we are made aware of it – either through in-app reports or the technologies we have to help us detect it.’

    Instagram warning
    Instagram show this warning if you search for potentially harmful content (Picture: Instagram)

    But Emily’s experience of witnessing posts like this before they were removed had a really damaging effect.

    ‘Once you’re on there and see these “perfect” people, you’re caught in the trap and it is incredibly difficult to escape,’ she explains.

    ‘There are triggers all over the internet and media for people suffering with eating disorders and I find it disgusting. I understand that you can’t get rid of it all, but something needs to be done to regulate it.’

    The ways that social media can intensify eating disorder symptoms are various. As well as the sense of competition and practical tips, Emily says she sees a lot of unhealthy images that masquerade as inspiration.

    ‘I have seen so many posts on Instagram that can be damaging to people with eating disorders’ such as hashtags on “thinspiration”, which predominantly feature malnourished girls.

    ‘There are many accounts which actively encourage anorexia. This is mind-blowing to me, because anorexia is one of the deadliest mental health conditions.

    ‘There are also accounts that people use to vent about their conditions. Now, I understand that we all need places to let our feelings out, but Instagram and other social media sites are not the place for that.

    ‘Especially where people are posting photos of themselves clearly on deaths door and uploading graphic content of self-harm.’

    For Emily, these posts were intensely triggering. As a teenager living in 2019, it is almost impossible to live an entirely offline life, but when Emily’s mental health was at its worst, the inescapability of social media was too much.

    ‘When I was deep in anorexia’s grasp, seeing these photos on Instagram really fuelled the fire,’ she tells us.

    ‘I was already very ill and seeing these posts not only made me feel worthless and fat, but they also gave me tips on how to lose weight and get away with it.

    Emily back in hospital
    Emily back in hospital (Picture: Emily Beaumont/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I was following all the hashtags because I was so deeply engrossed in losing weight to be the thinnest, I couldn’t help it.

    ‘Now when I see these posts, it does still affect me, but not nearly as badly as it did before.

    ‘They do sometimes make me feel like I want to go back to that, but I’ve learnt to ignore them and distance myself from that content that inevitably comes up.’

    So what is the answer? As it’s impossible to predict who will be affected by an eating disorder and at what point in their lives, an all-out avoidance of social media doesn’t seem feasible.

    Emily agrees. She thinks there needs to be changes, but that the onus is on social media providers and not the users.

    ‘I don’t think it would be fair for people with eating disorders and other mental health conditions to be forced to avoid social media completely, because there are so many benefits to social media, from communicating with friends to watching dog videos,’ says Emily.

    ‘But I don’t think that at the moment there is a “safe” way to use Instagram and other social media platforms for people with eating disorders. The damaging content is – from what I have seen -more or less plastered all over it.

    ‘Personally, I think that people should be mindful of the dangers and do their best to avoid any possible triggers such as “thin” hashtags and anorexia pages or accounts.

    ‘If they do find accounts like this, they should report and block them immediately. However, if a person feels unable to do this and is vulnerable, they should stay off social media for a while until they feel ready and well enough to return – like I did.

    ‘Most importantly, anyone who is struggling should get help to beat this merciless illness.’

    How to get help

    It is important that someone who is worried about themselves finds professional help and support as soon as possible.

    The first port of call when looking for help is the GP, and we provide a leaflet that people can take with them to the appointment to help them get a referral to a specialist service equipped to give them the care they need.

    We recommend talking to someone they trust about what they’re experiencing and asking for their support in seeking treatment.

    People can also get in touch with Beat support services on 0808 801 0677 or at help@beateatingdisorders.org.uk, where we can offer support and guidance about their next steps.

    Beat, eating disorders charity

    ‘It is important for Instagram to act in protecting young and vulnerable people from this content, because it can be deadly. Instagram needs to take more action to remove these posts, as I have reported some of them many times and they haven’t been deleted.

    ‘I could have lost my life to anorexia and I worry that many other people could be at risk due to social media platforms not regulating their content.’

    Of course, social media is one piece of an incredibly complex puzzle when it comes to the causes and triggers of eating disorders. The causes of eating disorders are not truly understood, but experts agree that there is a combination of genetic, biological and cultural factors at play.

    Instagram would fall under the ‘cultural’ umbrella – and while it may be unfair and reductive to pin such a complicated illness on social media alone, it’s hard to argue against the need for tougher regulation.

    ‘Social media is never the sole and direct cause of someone developing an eating disorder,’ explains Tom Quinn, director of external affairs at Beat.

    ‘However, some content on social media can be very harmful for people suffering from an eating disorder. So-called “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” content helps perpetuate the illnesses for people who are already suffering, and is widespread and easily accessible online.

    ‘We welcome recent increases in certain social media companies’ security measures to protect users from content that promotes eating disorders.

    ‘We strongly encourage social media platforms to do more to ensure such content cannot be posted, in the same way as they are now cracking down on images of self-harm.

    ‘It is important to note that most “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” content is posted by people who are themselves suffering from an eating disorder and is not deliberately malicious. Social media platforms should do more to direct affected users to sources of support.’

    Emily Beaumont with her puppy
    Emily is now back in full-time education (Picture: Emily Beaumont/Metro.co.uk)

    For Emily, recovery has not been a linear path. But now, back in full-time education, she is able to think positively about her own future. Something that didn’t seem possible at her lowest points.

    ‘My last major anorexia turn was last year, when I was refusing to eat or drink anything. I would freak out if I was in the same room as food as I thought I would absorb the calories and gain weight.

    ‘I passed out at home and I had to be taken to hospital by ambulance to be re-fed again. My blood sugars were dangerously low and we were prepared for the worst.

    ‘It was at this point when something finally clicked in me that I didn’t want to do this anymore and I began the very long path to recovery.

    ‘I am well on the road to recovery now. I don’t have much anxiety around food anymore and I have few self-harm relapses. I am in college now after not being in mainstream education since 2015, which is a huge achievement for me.

    ‘I find doing art extremely therapeutic and has helped me throughout my journey.’

    Over the past few months, Instagram has been working with experts to improve its approach to suicide and self-injury content – which includes eating disorders. They maintain that they have never allowed content that promotes or encourages anorexia.

    ‘We know that many people use Instagram in a positive way to get support or support others, so we allow content that discusses suicide, self-harm or eating disorders for the purpose of recovery,’ explained the Instagram spokesperson.

    ‘As a result of an ongoing expert review into our approach to all self-injury content, we are making some adjustments to our policy enforcement around eating disorders, including classifying more content as promotion, so more is removed.

    ‘This is a complex area and it is important that we act responsibly to get it right.’

    One thing that everyone seems to agree on is the complexity of this subject matter. There doesn’t appear to be a simple solution that will provide quick and effective protection for vulnerable young people.

    It is encouraging that Instagram are taking positive steps to improve how they approach this content – but for teenagers like Emily who are growing up with more online influence than any previous generation, the solutions need to come quicker.

    MORE: How do you know if you’re having a slow-motion breakdown?

    MORE: Anxiety and depression can affect the way you eat – here’s how to cope

    MORE: Working class, black men are being forgotten in the conversation about mental health


    Emily Beaumont headshotEmily Beaumont headshot

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    Shoppers have heaped praise on ASOS for photographing real? models at unflattering angles
    (Picture: ASOS)

    If you needed proof of just how desperate we are for real representation of people’s bodies, just look at how we’re reacting to a simple photo of a model sitting down in a bikini.

    ASOS is getting heaps of praise for showing a model sitting down with one leg lifted while wearing a bikini.

    Why? Because the model’s stomach rolls – a perfectly normal thing that appears when you sit down – are on show.

    That this is a rareity worth applause speaks volumes on just how distorted the presentation of bodies online really is.

    But it’s valid – most retailers and adverts won’t show a model’s rolls, wrinkles, or stretchmarks. That’s why this product photo feels revolutionary, despite the model still being standard size, blonde, and white.

    Shoppers have heaped praise on ASOS for photographing real? models at unflattering angles
    (Picture: ASOS)

    On Twitter, people have rushed to thank ASOS for allowing a model to show that stomach rolls are entirely okay.

    One person wrote: ‘woman with actual healthy human bodies *mind blown*’.

    Another said: ‘Thank u ASOS for these angles.’

    This isn’t the first time a brand has been praised for more realistic photos of women’s bodies.

    Missguided and Boohoo have previously received positive attention for refusing to digitally remove models’ stretchmarks, while a recent swimwear campaign was celebrated for featuring disabled women, body hair, and scars.

    Clearly we’re all ready for a bit more reality. Brands, take note.

    MORE: Plus-size woman uses makeup to turn herself into a ‘living art doll’

    MORE: Victoria’s Secret model hits back after being accused of being ‘too thin’

    MORE: New research raises concerns about the risk of body image disorders and depression in gym-obsessed men


    Shoppers have heaped praise on ASOS for photographing real? models at unflattering anglesShoppers have heaped praise on ASOS for photographing real? models at unflattering angles

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    Struggling to finish that novel you've had on the go for six months? Try using Canary Wharf's short story vending machines instead. Machines will print out short stories at the touch of a button onto eco-friendly papyrus paper at no cost, dispensing one, three and five-minute long tales. The idea is the brainchild of French company, Short Edition, which has already installed similar machines in France, Hong Kong and the USA. Stories are printed out on eco-friendly papyrus, and are free of cost. They'll cover a range of genres, including crime, feel-good fiction, and condensed stories from classic authors including Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens. The Stations, installed across the Canary Wharf estate this week, contain an exclusive story by award-winning British author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, that can be read in less than one-minute. The piece, titled Mr Robinson, takes the form of a ???whodunnit??? crime - not only what he is best known for with his Alex Rider novels, but also, according to the research ??? the nation???s favourite genre (19 per cent). Anthony Horowitz commented: ???I???ve always loved the challenge of the short story - creating a whole world in just a few pages. So I was very happy to write Mr Robinson for Canary Wharf???s brilliant new Short Story Stations. Here???s a whodunnit, complete with suspects and clues, that can be started and finished in just a minute. I hope it will entertain tube travellers who will know, at least, that they won???t have the frustration of having to get off before the end!??? Lucie Moore, Head of Arts and Events, Canary Wharf Group says: ???We???re all guilty of saying we???re too busy, but our research found that a staggering 70 per cent of us would rather get lost in a good book than get lost down the rabbit hole of social media. Our Short Story Stations provide the perfect digital antidote - a return to analogue scrolling. We hope Anthony???s brilliant new work helps people to fall back in lov
    (Picture: Sean Pollock/Cover Imagesvending)

    We’re sure you know the pain of sitting on public transport with nothing to read.

    Your eyes dart around for somewhere to rest. You try desperately to avoid eye contact with other passengers. You look at your phone, but it’s died, and your soul has passed on with it.

    Thankfully someone’s come up with a solution – other than re-reading the same real estate advert for your entire journey.

    In Jubilee Place, Churchill Place, and Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf, you’ll now find special vending machines.

    No, we’re not talking about replacing your reading with snacking. These vending machines aren’t for crisps and chocolate, but instead dish out short stories for commuters.

    Each machine prints out short stories in a range of genres, including crime, feel-good fiction, and condensed stories from authors including Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens.

    Struggling to finish that novel you've had on the go for six months? Try using Canary Wharf's short story vending machines instead. Machines will print out short stories at the touch of a button onto eco-friendly papyrus paper at no cost, dispensing one, three and five-minute long tales. The idea is the brainchild of French company, Short Edition, which has already installed similar machines in France, Hong Kong and the USA. Stories are printed out on eco-friendly papyrus, and are free of cost. They'll cover a range of genres, including crime, feel-good fiction, and condensed stories from classic authors including Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens. The Stations, installed across the Canary Wharf estate this week, contain an exclusive story by award-winning British author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, that can be read in less than one-minute. The piece, titled Mr Robinson, takes the form of a ???whodunnit??? crime - not only what he is best known for with his Alex Rider novels, but also, according to the research ??? the nation???s favourite genre (19 per cent). Anthony Horowitz commented: ???I???ve always loved the challenge of the short story - creating a whole world in just a few pages. So I was very happy to write Mr Robinson for Canary Wharf???s brilliant new Short Story Stations. Here???s a whodunnit, complete with suspects and clues, that can be started and finished in just a minute. I hope it will entertain tube travellers who will know, at least, that they won???t have the frustration of having to get off before the end!??? Lucie Moore, Head of Arts and Events, Canary Wharf Group says: ???We???re all guilty of saying we???re too busy, but our research found that a staggering 70 per cent of us would rather get lost in a good book than get lost down the rabbit hole of social media. Our Short Story Stations provide the perfect digital antidote - a return to analogue scrolling. We hope Anthony???s brilliant new work helps people to fall back in lov
    (Picture: Sean Pollock/Cover Images)

    They also contain an exclusive story written by British author Anthony Horowitz, called Mrs Robinson; a whodunnit designed to be read in less than a minute.

    All the short stories are free, so you don’t have to worry about rooting around in your pockets for spare change. You simply press the button, get a story, and take it with you to read on your train. Lovely, right?

    Anthony Horowitz said: ‘I’ve always loved the challenge of the short story – creating a whole world in just a few pages.

    ‘So I was very happy to write Mr Robinson for Canary Wharf’s brilliant new Short Story Stations. Here’s a whodunnit, complete with suspects and clues, that can be started and finished in just a minute.

    ‘I hope it will entertain tube travellers who will know, at least, that they won’t have the frustration of having to get off before the end!’

    Short Edition’s Short Story Stations are being placed in London’s Canary Wharf after success in France and Hong Kong.

    The idea is to get us to fall back in love with reading, making access to short stories as easy as possible so we don’t just keep our eyes glued to our phones.

    We think it’s a great idea for anyone travelling through central London. But we have a suggestion: can anyone who finishes a short story stick it to the window of their Tube or bus so they can spread far and wide? Commuters travelling through the not so central bits of London will thank you.

    MORE: Alert the authorities, this woman puts breadcrumbs into her tea for added ‘texture’

    MORE: There’s a new range of Harry Potter books that have been adapted for people with dyslexia


    New Vending Machines Will Print Out Free Short Stories For London CommutersNew Vending Machines Will Print Out Free Short Stories For London Commuters

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    Catrin is Avon's first model with a visible difference.
    ‘My first experience with visiting beauty counters in stores was disastrous’ (Picture: Avon)

    What do scars represent to you? Today, my scars are a beautiful reminder of something I have survived, a map of my battle.

    But falling in love with each mark on my skin has been a long, difficult journey that began after waking up in a hospital bed in 2013.

    At 19 years old, I was involved in a coach crash and my whole life was turned upside down.

    Getting caught in the fire of the vehicle, I was left with 96% of my body burned and fighting for survival.

    After 200 operations and many years of hard work and rehabilitation, I have overcome and accepted the physical effects of the accident. But the scars are a daily reminder that I am and will always be different.

    When I was receiving treatment for my burns in the hospital, I would read magazines to pass the time but never saw anyone who looked like me, just adverts that sold a very narrow view of ‘beauty’.

    My first experience with visiting beauty counters in stores was disastrous.

    I remember one particular trip with my mum, when I approached a beauty consultant for advice.

    The whole time we spoke she totally ignored me and addressed all her comments to my mum – it was as though I didn’t exist. The other assumption she made was that I wanted to cover up my scars, which was not the case at all.

    I began using my social media as an outlet to prove that you can live a happy, positive and fulfilling life with your scars proudly on show, despite what society says.

    I wanted to be treated as any other 20-year-old who wants to have fun with makeup and beauty products.

    We left the store quickly as it became clear she just didn’t know how to advise someone who looked like me.

    It was after this experience that I started to turn to social media influencers and YouTubers for advice on skincare and beauty instead.

    I would order products online so that I could play around with different looks at home and my confidence and self-esteem slowly grew.

    Catrin is Avon's first model with a visible difference.
    ‘This narrow perception of beauty represented by brands is completely unrealistic; these are industries that should be empowering women and making us feel excited to express ourselves’ (Picture: Avon)

    Once I knew what I liked, I felt confident to go into stores and chat to shop assistants.

    That confidence helped; they felt more at ease and understood that I wanted to express – to enhance my scars rather than hide them – so it was a better experience.

    Yet images around me of people looking ‘perfect’ still made it hard to feel beautiful.

    When I looked to popular culture, television and adverts for role models, all I could find were representations of women and beauty that were unrealistic and definitely unattainable for someone like me with a visible difference.

    I had lost so much of my old identity, including my appearance, and it only made me feel more isolated.

    This narrow perception of beauty represented by brands is completely unrealistic; these are industries that should be empowering women and making us feel excited to express ourselves.

    So, one day, I made the decision that this needs to change.

    I began using my social media as an outlet to prove that you can live a happy, positive and fulfilling life with your scars proudly on show, despite what society says.

    Meeting other people with visible differences online and through the charity Changing Faces made me realise that many other women and men have had similar experiences to mine.

    They too felt they were being encouraged to hide away, rather than celebrate their scars or skin conditions.

    Real beauty is being proud of who you are and having the confidence to express whoever that is. We need more brands to understand this and include models with all kinds of differences in their adverts and campaigns.

    When people talk to me about who my role models are, they always mention the amazing Katie Piper and Winnie Harlow as an example.

    While this is great, I look forward to the day when they can’t name just one or two, but have a whole range of diverse role models to choose from.

    For people with a visible difference, the beauty counter can be such an intimidating place to go, because most brands champion traditional ideals.

    I would like to see better training for people working in shops or stores so that when they are approached for advice by someone like me, they take the time to listen and understand what they want – just as they would for anyone else.

    MORE: We have to challenge the fashion and beauty industry to be more inclusive of people with visible differences like mine

    MORE: Woman who survived 96% burns has now become an Avon model

    MORE: I needed a vitiligo champion like Primark’s new model when I was a teenager


    Catrin is Avon's first model with a visible difference.Catrin is Avon's first model with a visible difference.

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    amber vittoria https://www.ambervittoria.com/
    (Picture: Amber Vittoria)

    A New York City based artist has created a stunning collection of work that focuses on the female body and concepts of what it means to be feminine.

    Amber Vittoria uses bright colours, organic shapes, and bold lines to depict women from a woman’s perspective.

    Highlighting physical features such as body hair and overly extended limbs, Amber creates abstract images of the female form and forces you to re-imagine what it is to be a woman.

    ‘The women in my life, women I pass by out in the world, and the women I read/learn about are inspirations for my work,’ explains Amber.

    In her career as an artist, she has collaborated with brands including K-Swiss, Gucci, The New York Times, and Instagram.

    Her latest work involves large fields of colour that are created on the computer, printed, and then the details are applied by hand with a Prismacolor brush pen.

    amber vittoria https://www.ambervittoria.com/
    (Picture: Amber Vittoria)
    amber vittoria https://www.ambervittoria.com/
    (Picture: Amber Vittoria)

    ‘A female form is a body that identifies as female; it can present itself in any way it decides,’ Amber tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘My aim is to dismantle the traditional tropes that fall under femininity; it can be defined however a person would like to define it for themselves. For me personally, physicality, strength, and movement, are feminine.

    amber vittoria https://www.ambervittoria.com/
    (Picture: Amber Vittoria)

    ‘My drawings are first created digitally, then printed on a laser-jet printer for texture, then have hand-drawn details applied with ink. My paintings are done on smooth surfaces (paper, primed board) with acrylic paint pens.

    ‘The goal within my work is to portray women as we are, not as how society deems us to be.’

    Amber’s work has been recognized by Print Magazine‘s New Visual Artists – 15 Under 30, It’s Nice That, Computer Arts, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, and Man Repeller.

    MORE: Vending machines print out free short stories for Londoners to read on their commute

    MORE: People are thanking ASOS for showing a model’s stomach rolls

    MORE: Teenager explains how Instagram and social media ‘fuelled the fire’ of her anorexia


    amber vittoriaamber vittoria

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    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo
    (Picture: Muji)

    The soothing neutral tones, the wafting scent of eucalyptus from a diffuser, the basic pjs.

    Surely we can’t be the only ones who’ve gone into a Muji store and thought: ‘I wish I could live here’.

    Thankfully, there’s a way to live in the world of Muji without spunking all your money on bedsheets or hiding out in the big store on Oxford Street.

    A Muji hotel is opening in Ginza, Tokyo this week.

    This isn’t the first Muji hotel. Last year the brand launched properties in Beijing and Shenzhen in China.

    But Muji Hotel Ginza is the first domestic hotel in Japan, the country where the company was founded.

    As you might expect, the hotel’s rooms are a minimalist dream – and exactly like the interiors of Muji’s shops. Think lots of light wood, neutral fabrics, and pared back detailing.

    The hotel also includes a Muji store, so you can shop any bits you want to take home with you, a restaurant, an art gallery, and a bar. The shop in the lower floors will act as a development hub for new services, such as selling produce from local farmers.

    Rooms are priced at 14,900 yen (£102) a night. Not bad, right?

    Take a look at photos of the interiors below and wish you were there.

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    Inside MUJI's Upcoming Ginza Hotel, Tokyo

    MORE: Tokyo hotel serves world’s most expensive burger for £700

    MORE: You can now buy a house for £16,000 from Muji

    MORE: Tokyo hotel serves world’s most expensive burger for £700


    SEI_60239267SEI_60239267

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    (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    Even cutting down your alcohol intake may not completely protect you from the health risks of booze.

    It might be time to go teetotal.

    A new study challenges the belief that a drink a day could be good for you, finding that even moderate drinking raises a person’s risk of stroke and high blood pressure.

    In the study, conducted in China, researchers tracked more than 500,000 people for a decade, looking at their medical history and habits with smoking and drinking.

    They found that alcohol increases risk of stroke by around one third for every four additional drinks per day. That bit feels pretty obvious – we know heavy drinking isn’t god for us.

    But the researchers also found that people who consume one or two drinks a day – which would qualify as moderate drinking – had an increased stroke risk of 10% to 15% compared to nondrinkers.

    So essentially, the concept that a drink or two a day is good for you might not be the case. The study found no evidence of alcohol having any kind of protective effect.

    The study’s authors say more research is needed into alcohol’s impact on heart attack risk, as there weren’t enough heart attacks among the participants to draw a conclusion.

    The researchers want their findings to call for stricter regulations on alcohol, and more awareness of the health risks of even moderate drinking.

    Senior author Richard Peto said: ‘The claims that alcohol has some magical, protective fix … has no particularly serious scientific basis.

    The alcohol industry is thriving and should be regulated in a similar way to the tobacco industry,’ wrote Shiu Lun Au Yeung and Dr. Tai Hing Lam of the University of Hong Kong.

    MORE: What it’s like to try to stay sober when you work in a bar

    MORE: Dry January: 10 best alcohol-free drinks to try from prosecco, beer and wine

    MORE: Mother’s Day cards to celebrate parents’ sobriety fight against ‘mummy drinking’ culture


    How many cigarettes in a bottle of wine?How many cigarettes in a bottle of wine?

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    (Picture: Chanel)

    If you want to turn some heads at the beach this summer, this is definitely the bikini for you.

    Chanel’s iconic vintage two-piece caused a stir when it was first unveiled on the runway debut of the brand’s Spring 1996 collection.

    The bikini became an instant classic, with the top made up of barely-there straps and two nipple covers emblazoned with Chanel’s unmistakable logo.

    It’s a stretch to call it a top actually. It’s closer to black dental floss. But if you’re after an unforgettable look – it will certainly do the trick.

    The micro-bikini is now available to rent from vintage shop El Cycèr. But the details of the cost are rather vague.

    First of all, you have to inquire on the website if you would like to rent the piece. And all we know is that rental costs 10% of the bikini’s retail price – but that price is unknown.

    Which isn’t exactly encouraging.

    If you have your heart set on this racy look then you might have to be willing to pay the big bucks.

    Mandatory Credit: Photo by Neville Marriner/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock (1044809a) Carla Bruni - 1995 Carla Bruni Model Paris Fashion - Chanel Show... The Ultimate Itsy-bitsy Teeny-weeny Polka Dot Bikini With Only Two Carefully Placed Dots And A Pair Of Pink Chanel Shorts. Fashion Models Pkt1581 - 103352 Carla Bruni - 1995 Carla Bruni Model Paris Fashion - Chanel Show... The Ultimate Itsy-bitsy Teeny-weeny Polka Dot Bikini With Only Two Carefully Placed Dots And A Pair Of Pink Chanel Shorts. Fashion Models Pkt1581 - 103352
    Carle Bruni rocked this look in 1995 (Picture: Neville Marriner/Daily Mail/REX/Shutterstock)

    But there are some restrictions: El Cycèr will only rent the bikini to people who are in the city of Los Angeles.

    You will also only get to keep it for 72 hours. But think of everything you could do in 72 hours. In LA. Wearing that bikini. The possibilities are endless.

    All we need now is for the bubblegum pink version to make a comeback – a design which was made famous by model Carla Bruni who teamed the tiny top with matching baby pink shorts and shirt.

    We’re almost certain we could pull of a similar look.

    MORE: Even moderate drinking raises your risk of stroke, finds study

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    MORE: I want to educate the beauty industry on how to treat burns survivors like me


    You can wear the infamous teeny chanel bikiniYou can wear the infamous teeny chanel bikini

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    Pic by Dilantha Dissanayake/Caters News - (PICTURED: A steaming boat full of naked adventurers made its way down a Staffordshire canal as they stopped for some fish and chips along the way. The Naturists, around 40 strong enjoyed the outing, looking through steamed up windows out to the raining countryside. Pic taken: 04/04/2019) - Dozens of nudists enjoyed a slap up fish and chip supper on a naked canal cruise without a single CODpiece necessary. The 40 nudists set sail down the Shropshire Union Canal in Stafford, Shrops, this evening [THURS] to show the public how fun it can be doing everyday tasks without any clothes on. British Naturism, a 50-year-old organisation boasting more than 9,000 members, set up the event after previously holding naked cycle rides, swimming sessions, dining and garden visits. SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: Dilantha Dissanayake/Caters News)

    Need plans for the weekend?

    Perhaps a naked fish and chips cruise is the perfect way to spend a Sunday.

    Don’t stress, if you fancy the idea you don’t need to buy a boat and learn how to batter your own fish. A naked fish and chips cruise is already in existence, and it’s pretty glorious.

    This week 40 nudists journeyed down the Shropshire Union Canal in Stafford, entirely naked while eating fish and chips.

    Why, you may ponder? To show the public just how fun doing things without clothes can be.

    We’re convinced.

    Norbury Wharf Limited teamed up with British Naturism, a 50-year-old organisation with more than 9,000 members, to turn their regular fish and chip cruise into a naked treat.

    Pic by Dilantha Dissanayake/Caters News - (PICTURED: A steaming boat full of naked adventurers made its way down a Staffordshire canal as they stopped for some fish and chips along the way. The Naturists, around 40 strong enjoyed the outing, looking through steamed up windows out to the raining countryside. Pic taken: 04/04/2019) - Dozens of nudists enjoyed a slap up fish and chip supper on a naked canal cruise without a single CODpiece necessary. The 40 nudists set sail down the Shropshire Union Canal in Stafford, Shrops, this evening [THURS] to show the public how fun it can be doing everyday tasks without any clothes on. British Naturism, a 50-year-old organisation boasting more than 9,000 members, set up the event after previously holding naked cycle rides, swimming sessions, dining and garden visits. SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: Dilantha Dissanayake/Caters News)
    Guests climbed aboard the 42-seater boat The Shropshire Star to enjoy a proper fish and chip supper with drinks from the bar.

    As you can guess, there was a strict no clothes rule on the boat.

    Organiser John Rodgers said: ‘A naturist environment inspires freedom, body positivity and has been proven to make people happier, improving mental health and wellbeing.

    ‘It is a positive family lifestyle.’

    If you are keen to ditch the clothes and give naturism a go, you can of course start with just wondering around your house in the buff, but there are also quite a few public events you can get involved in.

    Pic by Dilantha Dissanayake/Caters News - (PICTURED: A steaming boat full of naked adventurers made its way down a Staffordshire canal as they stopped for some fish and chips along the way. The Naturists, around 40 strong enjoyed the outing, looking through steamed up windows out to the raining countryside. Pic taken: 04/04/2019) - Dozens of nudists enjoyed a slap up fish and chip supper on a naked canal cruise without a single CODpiece necessary. The 40 nudists set sail down the Shropshire Union Canal in Stafford, Shrops, this evening [THURS] to show the public how fun it can be doing everyday tasks without any clothes on. British Naturism, a 50-year-old organisation boasting more than 9,000 members, set up the event after previously holding naked cycle rides, swimming sessions, dining and garden visits. SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: Dilantha Dissanayake/Caters News)
    A naked brunch 100ft above London is coming soon, there are multiple restaurants where nudity is encouraged, and if you really fancy going the whole hog, you can head to Jamaica for a stay at a swingers resort with a nude beach and pool.

    Or you can get in touch with British Naturism to see what they’re planning.

    The organisation regularly runs nude holidays as well as naked day trips with cycling, swimming, and more.

    If it’s the fish and chips you’re after, we’d recommend keeping the clothes on when you go to your local chippy, then stripping off at home to enjoy.

    MORE: Would you eat this 1,000 calorie ‘burger bomb’ that weighs a kilo?

    MORE: People are thanking ASOS for showing a model’s stomach rolls

    MORE: There’s a simple trick for getting a McDonald’s hash brown in your burger


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    Lady the cat who has been in care for 430 days. See SWNS copy SWCAlonely: Lady, one of the longest-staying cats at the RSPCA, is desperately searching for a home. The black and white cat has been waiting for someone to adopt her for more than 430 days, making her one of the loneliest cats in the UK. The five-year-old has been described as sweet, affectionate and playful by those looking after her in the RSPCA Suffolk East & Ipswich Branch.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    One of Britain’s loneliest cats is desperately looking for a home.

    Lady is one of the RSPCA’s longest staying cats.

    The black and white cat has been waiting for someone to adopt her for more than 430 days – making her one of the loneliest cats in the UK.

    The five-year-old feline has been described as being ‘sweet, affectionate and playful’ by those looking after her in the RSPCA Suffolk East & Ipswich Branch.

    When Lady arrived at the centre, she had sore skin, but after being put on a new diet this calmed down.

    Lady the cat who has been in care for 430 days. See SWNS copy SWCAlonely: Lady, one of the longest-staying cats at the RSPCA, is desperately searching for a home. The black and white cat has been waiting for someone to adopt her for more than 430 days, making her one of the loneliest cats in the UK. The five-year-old has been described as sweet, affectionate and playful by those looking after her in the RSPCA Suffolk East & Ipswich Branch.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    Lady needs a lot of attention, so those looking to home her will have to be someone with no other pets. She had a home for a short period of time but didn’t get on with the family’s other pet, so was returned to the shelter.

    Lady also needs outdoor space to roam and explore.

    Another lonely cat looking for a home is Twizzle.

    He’s been waiting at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for someone to come and adopt him for over 125 days – even though the average stay of a cat is just 23 days.

    Staff at the rescue centre believe the reason for Twizzle’s unusually long stay is due to him testing positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – a slow-acting and contagious virus that is most commonly transmitted by deep bite wounds.

    (Picture: Battersea Cats Home)

    Due to the contagious nature of the infection, Battersea rehomes FIV+ cats to homes with enclosed gardens to prevent cats from mixing with one another and potentially spreading the virus, a requirement that could rule out some potential owners.

    Although most cats who are FIV+ live a long and happy life with no health issues, in some cases cats can become unwell due to their FIV infection, so people may not want to adopt cats like Twizzle.

    Battersea’s Cattery Team Leader, Rosa Steele said: ‘Twizzle is such a lovely cat and it’s a huge shame that he has been waiting for so long to find a home.

    ‘He is an intelligent, playful cat and has a lot to offer as a pet. What better birthday gift could you give one of our cats than a loving new home?’

    Send us your cat stories!

    As the media partners of CatFest, coming to London on 29 June, we're excited to share loads of stories about brilliant cats.

    All cats are wonderful, of course, but if you have a story of a truly exceptional kitty, we want to hear it.

    We're talking about lifesaving cats, cats who've overcome challenges, kitties who've changed things for the better.

    If you've got a story to share, send us an email at ellen.scott@metro.co.uk with the details and pictures.

    To book your tickets to CatFest, do head over to Eventbrite.

    MORE: Glorious photographs take a look at cats from below

    MORE: If you think cats are ‘aloof’ and antisocial, the problem isn’t the cats… it’s you


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    Everyone's buying M&S gin & tonics because of Fleabag
    (Pictures: Marks & Spencer/BBC)

    Marks and Spencer have revealed that sales of its gin & tonic cans are up since being featured on hit BBC comedy Fleabag.

    And we’re not surprised. Everyone is obsessed with Fleabag. It’s all we want to talk about.

    The frank discussions about sex, the hilarious to-camera asides, the hottest priest we have ever seen. It’s no wonder that anything Fleabag features will turn to gold.

    ‘Sales are up 24% since its TV appearance, as even more customers get their hands on the iconic drink, perfect for on-the-go,’ said an M&S spokesperson.

    ‘This isn’t any G&T in a can, it’s an M&S G&T in a can,’ they added.

    ‘An absolute favourite with M&S customers, as well as the occasional vicar as seen recently on the hit show Fleabag.’

    The classic beverage first made an appearance in episode two of season two – where Fleabag was hanging out with Andrew Scott’s priest in the back room of the church after a sermon.

    ‘Do you want a proper drink?,’ he asked her. ‘I’ve got cans of G&T. From M&S.’

    Marks & Spencer gin and tonic
    (Picture: M&S)

    We’re not sure whether it was the tone of his voice or the look in his eyes, but suddenly, we all want a can of G&T from M&S.

    And really, there isn’t a wrong time for gin in a tin.

    On a train, in a park after work, on the beach, in the cinema – it really is a versatile little tipple.

    And with spring finally starting to make an appearance, tinned gin season is officially just around the corner. We can’t wait.

    MORE: You can now rent Chanel’s iconic teeny tiny bikini

    MORE: Muji hotel opens in Japan and it’s a minimalist dream

    MORE: McVitie’s has launched two new types of Digestive biscuits


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    Felix has been through a lot, but he’s even more loving than before (Picture: Kate Footer/Metro.co.uk)

    Felix the cat has experienced unbelievable cruelty from strangers – but he won’t let that stop his love for humans.

    He survived an attack with a firework that impaled his leg in two places, burned his side, and left him with significant trauma. Despite that, he loves to snuggle up with his owner, Kate Footer, and bombards strangers with love and affection.

    He’s been through a lot, but is still a cuddly cat who adores humans.

    Felix first came into Kate’s life when he was 12 weeks old. Kate’s ex-husband bought Felix and his sister Flora as a gift for Kate after IVF had failed four times.

    ‘He and his sister became my fur babies,’ Kate tells Metro.co.uk.

    Unfortunately when Kate and her ex-husband split up, she had to temporarily move in with a friend, the stress of which caused Flora to run away and get hit by a car. Felix grieved for a year.

    In November 2014 Kate woke up after a drink with friends and discovered Felix was wimpering and limping. He wouldn’t let Kate pick him up, which was out of character, and Kate immediately knew she needed to call the vet.

    When she lifted the cat into his carrier, she could see he was bleeding through his long black fur.

    Felix had to undergo surgery on his wound, wear a cast on his leg, and be placed on an IV drip for a week (Picture: Kate Footer/Metro.co.uk)

    At the emergency vet appointment Kate saw a huge wound along Felix’s side that his fur had covered. His leg was put in a plaster cast.

    The next day Kate took poor Felix to his usual vet, who took a proper look at his wounds and realised he had been burned.

    ‘He suspected a firework due to the extent of the injuries and where they were,’ says Kate. ‘The firework had shot backwards when it was lit and impaled Felix’s leg in two places which was why his leg was in plaster. Luckily it missed any major organs.

    ‘The burn on his side didn’t heal well so they had to operate on him, remove the dead tissue and sew him up.

    ‘I think he had about 25 stitches in the end.’

    He wore a cone for over a month to make sure he didn’t scratch his wound (Picture: Kate Footer/Metro.co.uk)

    The cat’s injuries were severe, and vets weren’t sure if he would survive. Kate had to wait and see how the following week went, keeping an eye not just on Felix’s physical health but his mental state.

    After injury cats can become vicious and aggressive as a result of the trauma, so Kate worried he might not return to his old, friendly self.

    Over the following weeks Felix went through a tricky recovery process.

    He had to wear a cone to make sure he didn’t lick his wound from surgery, and took 10 tablets a day to avoid infection.

    ‘He was so good, but he refused to let me put the tablets into his mouth, and he bit me,’ remembers Kate. ‘It was the first and only time he has ever done that.

    The cat needed ten tablets a day, which he ate up with Marmite (Picture: Kate Footer/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘He was so upset, bless him. Then he tried to lick my hand to say sorry.

    ‘I went to the vets to get advice on how to make him take the tablets and they recommended putting them in Marmite. He gobbled them down.

    ‘He now adores Marmite and any tablet he has to take I use that, he even has his own jar now!’

    At one point he was unable to walk, and had to be put on a drip at the vet’s for a week.

    ‘I thought that was going to be it,’ says Kate. ‘I was devastated. I went to visit him every day.’

    Slowly but surely, over the course of two months, Felix grew stronger, healthier, and felt more like himself again.

    Kate adopted a second cat, Florence, to keep Felix company, and they quickly became firm friends. Felix likes to chase his new sister around the house and lick her face while she’s sleeping.

    He went right back to loving cuddles with Kate, and is just as friendly with strangers who come into the house.

    Felix has put on a little weight and is more timid than before, but he still loves cuddles (Picture: Kate Footer/Metro.co.uk)

    Felix is a touch more timid, and gets startled by loud noises. He’s terrified of fireworks.

    The cat also has a new curfew to keep him safe and comfortable, with Kate making sure he’s in the house by 5pm every day.

    ‘He is much more clingy,’ says Kate. ‘He is more soppy than ever.

    ‘He loves his garden. He doesn’t go far since his accident, and usually just stays in my garden or my next door neighbour’s garden.

    ‘He loves nothing more than lying in the sun, and eating is his other favourite thing in the world!’

    Kate calls him a miracle cat (Picture: Kate Footer/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘He is very much about routine and comes downstairs every night about 10pm and meows at me telling me it’s time for bed.

    ‘His nightly routine is to lie next to me on the bed. I have to put my hand out and he puts his head on it and goes to sleep. He stays about an hour then goes into his own bed (he has many, one in my room, one on the landing, one in the lounge).’

    Felix has also put on a bit of weight since the attack as he struggles to exercise, now weighing around 8kg.

    In spite of what he’s been through, Felix is still the sweet, loving cat that brightens Kate’s days. She calls him a miracle cat, and proof that trauma can be overcome.

    ‘They never caught who did the terrible thing to him but I’m so very lucky to still have him in my life,’ Kate tells us. ‘He’s my best friend.’

    Send us your cat stories!

    As the media partners of CatFest, coming to London on 29 June, we're excited to share loads of stories about brilliant cats.

    All cats are wonderful, of course, but if you have a story of a truly exceptional kitty, we want to hear it.

    We're talking about lifesaving cats, cats who've overcome challenges, kitties who've changed things for the better.

    If you've got a story to share, send us an email at ellen.scott@metro.co.uk with the details and pictures.

    To book your tickets to CatFest, do head over to Eventbrite.

    MORE: Matt the cat sitter has been living rent-free in London for two years

    MORE: Pregnant stray cat goes to the same house every day to get someone to take her future kittens in

    MORE: Kitten tries to play it cool by sneaking out the room after getting head stuck in McDonald’s bag


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    What it feels like to confront a traumatic memory if you have PTSD Picture: Ph?be Lou Morson Phebe
    (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson)

    Most of us have heard of post-traumatic stress disorder.

    The condition was first recognised in war veterans but it can be caused by a number of traumatic experiences, such as a car accident, an assault, or a near-death experience.

    There is another form of PTSD that is less well known: complex PTSD.

    Complex PTSD is a type of post-traumatic disorder that comes from experiencing trauma at an early age, or trauma that lasted for a long time, rather than just one single event acting as a trigger.

    Most frequently, CPTSD affects people who’ve faced long-term physical or emotional trauma, such as sexual abuse, repeatedly witnessing violence, or being kidnapped.

    It’s thought that someone is more likely to develop complex PTSD if the trauma occurred at an early age or lasted for a long time, they were harmed by someone close to them, escape or rescue were unlikely, or they have experienced multiple traumas.

    Complex post-traumatic stress disorder can cause some additional symptoms alongside usual PTSD signs, including difficulty controlling your emotions, feeling very hostile or distrustful towards the world, constant feelings of emptiness or hopelessness and feeling as if you are permanently damaged or worthless.

    It also includes feeling as if you are completely different to other people, feeling like nobody can understand what happened to you, avoiding friendships and relationships, and dissociative symptoms such as depersonalisation or derealisation, as well as suicidal feelings.

    CPTSD is lesser known because often PTSD is used as a blanket term, despite the additional symptoms of CPTSD. It’s also often misdiagnosed as borderline personality disorder (BPD).

    Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, said: ‘If someone has experienced a traumatic event (such as being a victim of assault, or being involved in an accident for example) and has been living with distressing symptoms for over a month afterwards, they should see their GP who can refer them for specialist help.

    ‘Complex PTSD shares many of the symptoms of PTSD but usually develops following exposure to an extremely traumatic, harmful or threatening event or series of events (such as torture, prolonged domestic violence or repeated abuse in childhood).

    ‘In addition, people with complex PTSD may experience problems in managing their emotions, constant low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness and persistent difficulties in maintaining relationships or feeling close to others.

    ‘People with complex PTSD may also need more long-term, intensive support to feel better. The treatment you are offered may depend on what’s available in your local area.’

    If you think you may be suffering from CPTSD, it is important that you go to your GP to get a better understanding of your symptoms and receive diagnosis and treatment.

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

    MORE: One in 13 people will experience PTSD by the age of 18, new study finds

    MORE: Five people open up about what it’s like to experience PTSD


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    Can I please get illos of two people sleeping on separate sides of the bed back to back? and any other ideas you have for sexless relationships @ellabyworth Metro illustrations Ella Byworth
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    According to a new study by Healthista, one in five women have refused to have sex with their partners even though they’ve wanted to, due to IBS.

    The research commissioned by Alflorex the probiotic, which polled 1,600 UK women aged 25-65 found that bloating, in particular, had stopped women from wanting to reveal their bodies to a new partner.

    A further 20% of women said IBS has stopped them from getting intimate at all due to the bloating, flatulence, tummy cramps and constipation caused by the condition.

    Dr Simon Smale, consultant gastroenterologist and trustee of the IBS Network, says that many of the women he sees are seriously affected by their symptoms.

    He said: ‘Many women I speak to feel that they can’t hide their bloating or flatulence and many I see are deeply distressed by their symptoms.

    ‘As a result, women are often worried about the effect on of their gut symptoms on their relationships but I speak to their partners and they’re much less worried about any of that.

    ‘Often, the men are more like, “Well, everybody farts. I fart, it’s certainly not a deal-breaker for me”.

    ‘We all strive for a sort of intimacy in our relationships and that is difficult for women when they’re worried about passing wind or that they might lose control of their bowels.’

    ‘I see so much of that in my clinic and it’s terribly distressing for my patients, it thwarts intimacy because they can’t let go and enjoy it, they’re so worried they might pass wind or worse at an inopportune moment.’

    Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome:

    The main symptoms of IBS are:

    • stomach pain or cramps – usually worse after eating and better after doing a poo
    • bloating – your tummy may feel uncomfortably full and swollen
    • diarrhoea – you may have watery poo and sometimes need to poo suddenly
    • constipation – you may strain when pooing and feel like you can’t empty your bowels fully

    IBS can also cause:

    • farting (flatulence)
    • passing mucus from your bottom
    • tiredness and a lack of energy
    • feeling sick (nausea)
    • backache
    • problems peeing – like needing to pee often, sudden urges to pee, and feeling like you can’t fully empty your bladder
    • not always being able to control when you poo (incontinence)

    NHS

    According to the study, the most embarrassing part of the condition for women is farting, affecting 35% of the women studied.

    This was followed by bloating, which causes shame for over 17% of women.

    Almost 30% of women have held in flatulence for so long that it resulted in pain.

    Dr Smale continued: ‘The embarrassment about flatulence is cultural.

    ‘We know a third of people with IBS are men, but when they have been questioned in the past, flatulence is much less of an issue.

    ‘Men think it’s funny whereas women find it distressing; they think everyone can smell it. That’s much more about society’s expectations than anything biological.’

    ‘Wind usually results from the fermentation of sugars in the large bowel that then produce gas, which is perfectly normal.’

    Though IBS is uncomfortable and can cause a significant amount of pain for the sufferer, it is important to know that it is incredibly common.

    According to BUPA, two in 10 people in the UK have the condition, and get episodes six times a year or more.

    You can develop IBS at any age, though it’s most common to get symptoms between the ages of 20 and 30 – and it affects more women than men.

    If you think you may be suffering, it is important to see your GP so that they can discuss options with you, from medication to diet and lifestyle.

    It can also help to be honest with your partner, especially if your symptoms are prohibiting you from getting intimate.

    You don’t need to feel ashamed, and you certainly don’t need to make yourself feel worse by avoiding the toilet and flatulence out of shame – your health is more important.

    There is nothing embarrassing about farting and pooing – we all do it.

    MORE: Teenager fed up of her IBS being dismissed paints her pain to make her illness visible

    MORE: Three best friends pose together in their underwear to celebrate their stoma bags


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    (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    Each week we get people to anonymously tell us about their drinking habits as part of our series, Spill It.

    We’re talking to people all over the UK (unless anyone volunteers from abroad in which case we’re going international) about how much they really drink. Not how much they tell their doctor they drink, or a rough guesstimate – but the unvarnished boozy truth.

    This week we’ve got a 39-year-old lawyer from London, who we’ve called Charlie.

    Friday

    I finish work around eight and then get a cab home. I live twenty minutes from the office. When I get back my husband has opened a bottle of Barolo which we share. We have some cheese and fresh bread and talk about our days, then we watch an episode of a French drama (he is fluent, I am semi-fluent and working on it).

    Saturday

    We both take spin class on Saturday morning, then we spend the afternoon finishing up work from the week. In the late afternoon we have a massage at home to relieve stress and then head out to a dinner party.

    Our friends live in Farringdon. We bring a petit Chablis and the last bottle of the Barolo.

    I drink two glasses of champagne which isn’t as dry as I like, then a glass of Chardonnay and finish with a large glass of red, which is nice but needed to be decanted.

    Sunday

    On Sunday morning we run together, along the river. Then we get home, shower and go to brunch.

    In the afternoon I prep for the week, iron my shirts and answer my emails.

    My husband makes dinner – a simple fresh tagliatelle with ricotta and spinach. We share a bottle of rosé because it’s still light outside.

    Monday

    I leave for the gym at 6am, at my desk by 7.30. I don’t stop until 3pm when I have a black coffee and some nuts.

    By 7pm I’m exhausted so I call a car to go home. My husband and I watch an episode of Dirty John (I can’t face French this evening).

    Tuesday

    I have a lie in until 7.45 and get to the office at 9. I have a client lunch which means I drink two glasses of Pinot Grigio. Not a very good wine.

    I had intended to go to the gym after work but am too tired so head straight home. My husband is out with friends so I watch an old episode of The Hills and do laundry.

    Wednesday

    Spin class before work, work, client dinner. Two glasses of something really vile which pretended to be Prosecco.

    Thursday

    We are going to the countryside for a long weekend! We get the train from Paddington and arrive a few hours later.

    Husband and I play scrabble and drink gin and tonic on the terrace at the hotel. It’s cold but just so nice to be outside.

    Friday

    We spend the morning on a long walk. Then we have a pub lunch (one pint of ale which was quite odd) and spend the afternoon in bed. Perfect Friday!

    Units recommended by the NHS: 14

    Units Charlie drank: 26.2

    If you’d like to take part in Spill It, get in touch by emailing Rebecca.Reid@metro.co.uk.

    MORE: Spill it: What a 22-year-old student drinks in a week

    MORE: Spill it: How much a 45-year-old mother drinks in a week

    MORE: Spill it: How much a 37-year-old financier drinks in a week


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    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CLODAGH MOANE WHO WAS DIAGNOSED WITH LIPOEDEMA) An avid swimmer claims doctors accused her of 'secret eating' when a rare condition saw her pile on eight stone of fat - no matter how much she exercises. Clodagh Moane claims she feels 'trapped inside someone else' and is in constant pain from the rapid fat buildup in her body. The 20-year-old began putting weight on her legs and arms two years ago, seeing her shoot up seven dress sizes and balloon from 11stone to more than 19stone. KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    Clodagh was dismissed as secretly overeating (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    Clodagh Moane, 20, was accused of ‘secret eating’ when a rare condition made her gain eight stone despite regular exercise.

    Two years ago Clodagh began putting on weight on her legs and arms. She quickly increased seven dress sizes and went from 11 stone to more than 19 stone.

    That was despite regular swimming and hitting the gym five days a week.

    Concerned by her sudden weight gain, Clodagh tried every diet she could – but nothing worked. When she went to the doctor she was accused of secretly eating as they couldn’t understand her increased size.

    Doctors also dismissed her weight gain as due to polycystic ovary syndrome, but medication didn’t slow the weight gain.

    Clodagh says: ‘I went to the doctor about it and they made me go and see a dietitian because they just thought I was overweight and I didn’t want to admit it, even though I was telling them I shouldn’t be overweight. It was really frustrating.

    ‘A few of the doctors made really unprofessional comments about it as well. One said “you need to be honest about it, do you just like having a few pizzas?”. I was fuming.

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CLODAGH MOANE PICTURED BEFORE SHE DEVELOPED LIPOEDEMA) An avid swimmer claims doctors accused her of 'secret eating' when a rare condition saw her pile on eight stone of fat - no matter how much she exercises. Clodagh Moane claims she feels 'trapped inside someone else' and is in constant pain from the rapid fat buildup in her body. The 20-year-old began putting weight on her legs and arms two years ago, seeing her shoot up seven dress sizes and balloon from 11stone to more than 19stone. KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    Clodagh before she started gaining weight (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘I was going to my doctors so they would tell me what was wrong and for them to try and make me out to be this horrible, lazy overweight person when I was doing everything I could possibly do to diet and lose weight.

    ‘It’s really, really upsetting.’

    Clodagh spent 18 months trying to convince doctors that her weight wasn’t the result of her diet, before finally being diagnosed with lipoedema, a rare condition that causes a buildup of fat in the legs, bum, and arms.

    The condition has drastically affected Clodagh’s confidence.

    What is lipoedema?

    Lipoedema is a chronic condition that causes buildup of fat in the legs, thighs, arms, and buttocks.

    The feet and hands aren’t affected, which creates a ‘bracelet’ effect just above the ankles and wrists.

    It can also cause pain and soreness, with easy bruising. The condition can worsen over time and lead to issues with mobility.

    ‘The way I have to describe it to people is like I am trapped inside someone else,’ says Clodagh.

    ‘That’s the only way I can describe the way it feels. I just don’t feel like the same person at all.

    ‘I show people pictures of what I used to look like then and they can’t believe the difference.

    ‘Looking at me now it’s hard to believe I was ever that small but I was smaller. I would always be tall but I was also quite slim. For it to be this extreme now is just so weird.

    ‘I always used to go to the gym every night after work five days a week. I would do cardio, swimming, all the usual. I really enjoyed doing it – I still do, but I can’t go now.

    ‘I’d love to go. But now I’d be there for five minutes and not be able to do anymore [due to the pain].

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CLODAGH MOANE'S LEGS NOW AFTER LIPOEDEMA LEAD TO ABNORMAL GROWTH OF FAT IN HER CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITION LIPOEDEMA) An avid swimmer claims doctors accused her of 'secret eating' when a rare condition saw her pile on eight stone of fat - no matter how much she exercises. Clodagh Moane claims she feels 'trapped inside someone else' and is in constant pain from the rapid fat buildup in her body. The 20-year-old began putting weight on her legs and arms two years ago, seeing her shoot up seven dress sizes and balloon from 11stone to more than 19stone. KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    Lipoedema is a chronic condition that causes buildup of fat in certain areas (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘I’ve literally done every single diet you could possibly think of – all the shakes, everything. I was doing weights at the gym to try and change things up a bit.

    ‘It was really frustrating when I wasn’t getting results because I was doing everything right.

    ‘It’s painful, every single day. Every single day is just awful. Even just walking up the stairs or downstairs I could cry it’s that painful.

    ‘I’ve got painkillers prescribed to me by the GP just to take the edge off a little bit but I’m also having to have sleeping tablets at night now because I just can’t focus.

    ‘The pain and uncomfortableness all the time makes it so hard to switch off and think about anything else.

    ‘I can’t remember the last time I hung out with my friends because I just don’t want to go out. It’s changed everything for me.’

    After being refused surgery to remove the excess fat on the NHS, Clodagh’s family is now fundraising for the £70,000 needed for the six operations she requires to remove fat from her arms, buttocks, and legs, and the fat overhang on her ankles and wrists.

    PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CLODAGH MOANE AFTER SHE STARTED GAINING WEIGHT DUE TO AN ABNORMAL BUILD UP OF FAT CELLS IN HER LEGS, ARMS AND BELOW HER WAIST) An avid swimmer claims doctors accused her of 'secret eating' when a rare condition saw her pile on eight stone of fat - no matter how much she exercises. Clodagh Moane claims she feels 'trapped inside someone else' and is in constant pain from the rapid fat buildup in her body. The 20-year-old began putting weight on her legs and arms two years ago, seeing her shoot up seven dress sizes and balloon from 11stone to more than 19stone. KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
    Clodagh is now fundraising for surgery (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘Without raising the money or being able to get it another way it just feels like it’s going to put me in deep debt for the rest of my life,’ says Clodagh.

    ‘I’m worried about it. It’s deemed as a cosmetic procedure because it’s a form of liposuction that we need to have. The NHS don’t see a reason to fund it [for me].

    ‘I went to see the surgeon for my consultation and she said it’s one of the worst she’s seen at my age because it’s progressing quite rapidly.

    ‘If I don’t have the surgery, I won’t be able to walk before my 30th birthday because my legs will get that big. I’ll be in a wheelchair. That’s really hard to deal with.

    ‘A lot of people think it’s just an excuse I’m trying to use for being overweight.

    ‘It is quite hard to understand what it actually is but I feel like I have to explain myself to people because I don’t want them to just think I’m overweight and not doing anything about it. I have to explain myself all the time.

    ‘It’s like if someone has hit you and you have that throbbing on your skin, it’s like that constantly all over. It’s like my whole body is a big bruise. It’s that sort of pain – I’m really tender.

    ‘Even if I bump into something or rub my leg it’s painful because it’s that sensitive.

    ‘Having these surgeries means everything to me. People ask me if I’m nervous or worried about it, and I’m just not. I just need it to happen.

    ‘I’m struggling to cope with it at the moment, so for it to be as soon as it can, that’s the only thing I’ve got keeping me going.’

    MORE: A guide to complex PTSD – the lesser known form of post-traumatic stress disorder

    MORE: I spent years battling the government for disability benefits I’m entitled to

    MORE: Fitness influencer who has broken her bones 200 times won’t let his disability hold him back


    Woman accused of secret eating when condition made her put on eight stoneWoman accused of secret eating when condition made her put on eight stone

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    Caption: Why I'm quitting teaching Picture: Ph?be Lou Morson Phebe
    (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson)

    If you’re lucky, you had one teacher at school who changed your life for the better.

    Maybe they introduced you to a subject that’s now your passion. Perhaps they empowered you to believe in yourself.

    Or they might have gone above and beyond to show you genuine kindness. Those are the sort of stories being shared over on Reddit, after someone asked: What’s something nice that a teacher has done for you?

    Some are small and sweet, others are truly powerful gestures. Have a look at the best responses below.

    1. ‘On the last day of school I was helping my art teacher clean up for the summer. She knew i was rather poor growing up, so she gave me all the leftover paper, (some really high quality bristol board and watercolor paper) all of the leftover prismacolor pencils, tons of paint brushes, and other various art supplies.’ – vicarious124 

    2. ‘Just the other day I tried to buy a bottle of water and didn’t have enough money the teacher noticed, passed me the bottle he just bought and bought another.’ – rustymiura

    3. ‘Answered my questions about some math problems at 9pm, right before my final. Dude was at a family dinner and did the working out on a napkin.’ – Cpkaitie 

    4. ‘Back in grade 10, I was walking back to school alone at the end of the lunch period. One of my teachers just happened to turn a corner and wind up walking directly next to me on the way back to school.

    ‘We had a nice 12 second conversation before realizing that we were going to have to walk for at least 10 minutes in the most painfully awkward silence that’s ever existed because I’m awful and can’t hold a conversation to save my life.

    ‘She instead said “well… See ya” and power walked the ENTIRE way there so she was constantly just out of acceptable talking range for the entire walk. Woman was a hero.’ – bitterbear_

    5. ‘My family didn’t have money for a field trip and she paid for me.’ – BiLbO_BaGginz05

    6. ‘Visited me when I was in the hospital. Held me when I cried at a former teachers funeral. Gave me food like every morning when I forgot to eat breakfast.’ – Swammybabe

    7. ‘Not me, but a group of teachers did the right thing.

    ‘In high school there was one girl that was ‘that’ girl. Not too bright (but sweet), poor, dressed badly and messy (sometimes smelly). The one many people picked on.

    ‘As a practical joke, her class decided to vote her to be on a Homecoming Maid for homecoming ceremonies. It was a really cruel thing to do.

    ‘A group of teachers got together, got her fitted for a dress, all the dressings and got her hair done and ensured she had the nicest convertible car to ride in during the parade. She ended up having a blast.

    ‘Kudos to the teachers.’ – MeGrendel

    8. ‘One of my teachers literally went in a dumpster to get back my test that she accidentally threw away!’ – crimpythunder66

    9. ‘We had a health teacher in high school who gave us all her phone number and told us we could text her with any question anonymously and she would give us an honest and informed answer. She stuck to her word and was a very helpful resource as a teenager.’ – rachjo1024 

    10. ‘My third grade teacher Mrs. Hunsaker was the first person to notice that I was washing my hands a few times every hour and that my OCD was getting out of control, causing my hands to crack so bad from the frequent washing that my knuckles were bleeding.

    ‘She put a bottle of lotion next to the sink in the class room so I could put lotion on my hands after washing and help prevent the dryness.

    ‘She did countless other nice things, but this one sticks out because it was the first time that I realized what I was doing wasn’t normal, and the way she addressed it and other issues I had that no one at home was noticing at the time was phenomenal.’ – Not_a_crazy-cat-lady

    Ecoanxiety Electricity power save eco money anxiety disorder mental health body mind Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe
    (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

    11. ‘I called out of a class because I was super depressed. The day I showed back up he was waiting with a bag full of candy. After class we sat and talked.’ – AbuBee

    12. ‘My wife is a teacher. It was nice of her to marry me.’ – abeartheband

    13. ‘In ninth grade, there was a single teacher who saw me as something other than lazy or stupid, she was my English and Literature teacher.

    ‘She noticed I would draw comics and monsters in my notebooks during discussions and often asked me after class what book I was reading, would suggest others, and gave me “extra credit” assignments where she challenged me to write a short story based on a prompt or give an analysis on a character in one of the books we read.

    ‘At the end of the year, I had the highest grade in the class (my only A+ in any class) and she told me the school was letting her go because they didn’t appreciate her teaching methods.

    ‘She said she was going to try to be an author and told me that I had the creativity and talent to do the same. She was awesome and is what inspired me to pursue a career as a writer.’ – Kringles

    14. ‘I had this one teacher that I had for four years straight in elementary, the nice thing they did was not giving up on me in one of the toughest times in my life. I didn’t know how to read by the third grade, but thanks to them they encouraged me to keep trying and I’m proud to say that they’re why I’m who I am today.’ – LettuceMan27

    15. ‘Back in fourth grade I made a passing comment to one of my teachers about my difficulty falling asleep. I didn’t perceive it as a huge deal, but she really did.

    ‘She and a few other teachers worked together to try to find something that would help me fall asleep faster. They settled on giving me an audio recording/CD of the first chapter of a random science book.

    ‘The CD didn’t help too much except helping me nearly have a textbook memorization of the different biomes, but the simple and very visible act of my teachers all banding together to help me sleep better and subsequently do better in school really encouraged me to actively search for a solution.

    ‘At the very least I began to see my insomnia as a legitimate problem. It made a big impact on me, seeing teachers that actually truly care.’ – Cubs1081744 

    16. ‘She bought me a full month’s shopping because she knew my family were struggling. One of the best people I’ve ever met.’ – poptart-therapy

    17. ‘In 5th grade, there was a morning where I had absolutely nothing to eat. At this time, we didn’t have any breakfast alternatives or anything. My teacher sat me down and since she didn’t have any bowls, gave me a coffee filter full of Cocoa Puffs. One of the kindest people I’ve encountered.’ – MyUsernameTaken2

    18. ‘The school bought a new tree but needed it to be planted. My biology teacher asked me and one other kid (who I didn’t know) to go out during class and dig a hole for the tree to be planted in.

    ‘So we did and thought it was great that we were digging holes instead of being in class.

    ‘We began talking and slowly discovered that both our fathers were terminally ill. It was a nice moment to connect with someone else that was dealing with something similar.

    ‘It took me years before I realised that my biology teacher knew of our situations and had specifically picked us out to dig that hole.’ – swiftap

    19. ‘My biology teacher found out that I liked a guy in the class and had a surprise seating chart change the next day… I was sat right across from him.’ – eokjinshusband 

    MORE: Cat who survived being attacked with a firework overcomes trauma to trust people again

    MORE: The responsibility to end period poverty lies with government – not teachers


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    (Picture: ASOS)

    Recently we wrote about ASOS’s announcement that they are cracking down on their returns policy to stop fraud.

    While there was some good news – that the return period is now longer – the brand also announced that they would be taking more notice of those who repeatedly order and return an excessive amount of clothes, to prevent fraudulent activity.

    They said: ‘We also need to make sure our returns remain sustainable for us and for the environment, so if we notice an unusual pattern, we might investigate and take action. It’s unlikely to affect you, but we wanted to give you a heads up.’

    However, they did add that this is generally a very small percentage of people – recognising the act as more than what the most loyal of customers would buy and return.

    They continued: ‘If we notice an unusual pattern of returns activity that doesn’t sit right: e.g. we suspect someone is actually wearing their purchases and then returning them or ordering and returning loads – way, waaay more than even the most loyal ASOS customer would order – then we might have to deactivate the account and any associated accounts.’

    So, how can you make sure you aren’t blacklisted when returning new clothes?

    Women's clothes hang on a rail in the headquarters of Asos Plc in London, U.K., on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. Asos Plc, the U.K.'s largest online-only fashion retailer, last month reported a 45 percent increase in third-quarter retail sales, with growth accelerating from 37 percent in the previous quarter. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
    (Picture: Getty)

    Well, ASOS understands that some items just won’t work for you and you’ll want your money back. In most cases, returns will be totally fine.

    Acceptable reasons would be if the clothes don’t fit, or if you simply don’t like them in person compared to what they looked like on the website.

    As long as the item is still in its original condition, ASOS accepts the returns for free.

    If you return an item requesting a refund within 28 days of receiving it, they’ll give you a full refund by way of the original payment method.

    If you return an item requesting a refund within 29 and 45 days of receiving it, they’ll give you an ASOS gift voucher for the amount equivalent to the price you paid for the item.

    They don’t accept returns for unwanted items after these return periods.

    To make sure you do get a refund, you need to keep the item clean, and if it contains a hygiene strip, it must not have been removed.

    This means you definitely should not wear the item before returning – which would count as fraud. If you liked the outfit enough to wear it out, but not to actually buy it, you shouldn’t be returning it for a refund.

    Completed customer orders sit in a trolley ahead of shipping at Asos Plc's distribution warehouse in Barnsley, U.K., on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. Asos, the U.K.'s largest online-only fashion retailer, said it plans to more than triple revenue as increased spending on warehousing and distribution enables it to support an even bigger customer base. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
    (Picture: Getty)

    ASOS says: ‘Of course, it’s fine to try an item on like you would in a shop, but please don’t actually wear it.

    ‘If an item is returned to us damaged, worn or in an unsuitable condition, we won’t be able to give you a refund and we may have to send it back to you (and ask you to cover the delivery costs). All items are inspected on return.’

    To make sure you aren’t looked as suspiciously, make sure you are using ASOS in a reasonable way – which comes under its ‘fair use’ category, where they explain that if you are to order and return an exceptionally high amount of items, you may become subject to having your account, and any associated accounts, deactivated. AKA: banned.

    Which would pretty much be the end of the world for fashion fans.

    So essentially, as long as you are using the site in an honest way – and not ordering and returning a bunch of items incredibly frequently, you should be all good.

    Metro.co.uk reached out to ASOS for further comment on what counts as suspicious activity, but they were reluctant to give away any specifics – so we can’t put a hard number on how many returns would be too many.

    They said: ‘There are a number of factors that we take into consideration, but we won’t be disclosing those specifics.’

    Just be wary, sensible, and enjoy wearing your paid-for clothes (as long as they actually fit, of course).

    Oh, and maybe don’t post photos of yourself on the ‘Gram wearing clothes you sent back because they ‘didn’t fit’.

    MORE: People are thanking ASOS for showing a model’s stomach rolls

    MORE: ASOS is selling an outfit designed by Beyonce that makes you look like a baseball


    ASOS has plans to blacklist serial returnersASOS has plans to blacklist serial returners

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    (Picture: Erin Aniker/Metro.co.uk)

    Depression doesn’t take holidays.

    The big bastard doesn’t even understand that people take – hell, need – holidays, and will follow alongside, packed up inside your brain ready to crap on your sunshine.

    With British people officially ranking among the most depressed people in the Western world, chances are fairly high that you suffer from depression yourself or have a loved one who does.

    As Spring has sprung, you may be planning a holiday with someone managing their depression this year and it’s important to remember that just because you’re away from the everyday lives you lead at home, depression hasn’t taken a break.

    I am clinically depressed and currently on holiday ‘freelancing remotely’. I have been less than thrilled to discover that even when you’re medicated, ‘therapised’ and on a boat in the tropics with the people you love, you can still absolutely feel worthless and want to be silent and alone in a dark room and die. Just as if someone had a broken arm before they went away, depression is not likely to fix itself just because it’s near a beach bar.

    Hannah* has had similar experiences to me, and says that depression has impacted her holidays. ‘I never have as much energy as everyone else,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Even if I’m having a good time, living a different lifestyle for a few days can be very draining.’

    LeAnn* agrees: ‘When I’m on holiday I still cry. I still have suicidal and destructive, intrusive, negative thoughts. I still sleep too much. I still need time alone and silence sometimes. I still feel like the world is a dark, scary place – despite the sunshine and smiles around me.’

    Ok, so this isn’t much fun (it’s not fun for us either, babes). What can you do that’ll be helpful towards your loved ones while you’re on a trip with them?

    Counsellor Sandra Dean says that a balance of communication is absolutely key (and I agree, for what it’s worth).

    (Picture: Erin Aniker/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘While you are away, try to find a balance between looking after the other person’s needs, understanding if they are not able to do some planned things or need a little more time to do them, while not asking them continually if they are OK,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘People with depression often feel like they are a burden on others, so try to just be yourself with them and have fun. If you are OK, it will rub off on them.’

    This sounds pretty spot-on for me, alongside allowing a person to go off and spend time on their own without insisting that you come along or asking too many questions about it. On this trip I’ve already had to ‘go to my room to stretch my back / nap / do some work emails’ etc, as a mutually understood phrasing for ‘I need to go and cry in the dark’.

    ‘From a companion, I need someone who understands that if I say I can’t do something (like going out for dinner one evening) then I genuinely can’t do it, and not to pressure me into going,’ says Hannah. Word.

    Danesh* has been with his partner for years, and tells Metro.co.uk that they have a series of preparations that they go through in order to make a trip away as stress-free as possible.

    ‘We do go on holiday together but it is usually short breaks – less than a week,’ says Danesh. ‘Anything more than that can trigger a lot of anxiety in the build up.

    ‘We plan as much as what we are going to do before we go there; we look for places we want to visit, places we want to eat, and we search the area near where we are staying so it feels familiar when we get there – this means there is less chance of her being overwhelmed by the new surroundings.

    ‘We also set aside free time, where we just wander around but there is no expectation on that and it is always followed by a planned thing.’

    LeeAnn says that all she needs from her holiday pals is some understanding. LeAnn sounds very reasonable. “

    ‘I only go on holiday with people that know me and I’m comfortable with,’ she tells us. ‘They don’t need to be an expert, just give me space, encourage me to take my meds, show me funny videos and don’t make me feel guilty for having a mental illness, I’m trying my best.’

    Essentially what everyone here is saying is to address that the depression exists, talk about it, and make flexible plans that won’t be overwhelming. Depression makes you feel like an awful burden who should’ve been sent straight to oversized baggage with no return, so treating it with normality will help.

    While I’ve been away I’ve mentioned that my ‘brain is flaring up when I’ve been particularly low, which seems to help my lucky plucky holidayers understand that it’s not something I’m in control of, and it is an illness.

    Danesh actually sums it up better than I can (thanks for doing my job, mate): ‘People are afraid of depression, they think it’s contagious or that if they do the wrong thing it will make it worse but it is no different to looking after someone with a cold or a broken leg.

    ‘Until we look at depression as being no different from any other illness then we will never help people who have it. It needs to be brought out of the shadows and seen as something that is everyday and common place.’

    If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, you can find a qualified local counsellor in your area with Counselling Directory. Mental health charity Mind also offer counselling services, and you can call The Samaritans on 116123 (UK and ROI). The NHS even have a little quiz you can take. If you can, visit your GP for further advice.

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

    MORE: What to know if you're dating someone with depression

    MORE: How to break up with someone who has depression


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    Welcome to Strong Women – a weekly series that aims to redefine what it means to be both strong and female.

    In the media and in advertising we are overwhelmed with images of a singular kind of woman; young, slim, white, able-bodied – but the reality is that you can be any age, size or race to be fit, healthy and love your body.

    It’s so important for women to see a diverse picture of strong women – particularly when 75% of women say that fear of judgement puts them off being active.

    We want to change perspectives, challenge the social norms and remind women that you can strong and active regardless of your appearance.

    Sharlene Gandhi takes a holistic approach to fitness that includes her body and mind. She loves yoga but says the world of mainstream fitness is whitewashing the traditional practice.

    Sharlene Gandhi doing a yoga pose
    Sharlene says she is normally the only brown woman in her yoga class (Picture: Sharlene Gandhi/Metro.co.uk)

    What does being fit mean to you?

    I have never really considered myself to have a relationship with fitness, but rather just with my body and with my health.

    With that in mind, being fit to me is basically being healthy, and being healthy is an offshoot of being happy.

    Being healthy and active to me is about making sure that I am comfortable in my skin, but also that I am giving my body ample nutrition and mental stimulation in the form of physical activity. I love the feeling of sweat, as horrible as that may sound, because it’s a sign of having achieved something!

    I’ve always exercised in various forms throughout my childhood and my adolescence, but funnily enough never acquainted any of my forms of exercise with ‘fitness’ – that was a world I subconsciously thought was reserved for another type of woman – it was just a world that I did not want to be part of.

    Being healthy to me is a long-term commitment to my body, my mind and my soul. I want to still be hiking up mountains and doing shoulder-stands at 80, and the way to do that is to start now.

    Brands don’t realise the extent to which their clothing is made for the skinny, white woman – and making the same clothing in a different size is not going to solve the problem.

    Not everybody wants to wear a sleeveless top with a racer back and skin-tight leggings – especially not those of us doing yoga, hiking, dancing or swimming in sweltering heat.

    The issue with fitness becoming such a mainstream industry is that everything has started to look the same, and it really takes a good amount of effort to find loose-fitting clothing – it seems the main aim of fitness clothing is to look good in it, rather than it being functional and comfortable for the wearer.

    Most dancers will tell you that a tight-fitting piece of clothing is just restrictive, not flattering. We need space.

    Tell me more about your relationship with yoga – what do you love about it?

    I was a real non-believer in yoga and meditation when it first hit the UK – I thought it was a short fad that would pass. Seven years later, clearly not.

    Yoga is one of the few forms of exercise I have tried that really encourages you to not only listen to your body, but also to your mind.

    Are you in the mood to push yourself today, or do you want to take it easy? Whatever the answer, it does not matter – as long as you’re comfortable in your own practice, it’s down to you to set your goal and motivation.

    Sharlene Gandhi doing a yoga pose
    Sharlene things brands need to do more to provide diverse fitness apparel (Picture: Sharlene Gandhi/Metro.co.uk)

    With time, you automatically find that your body becomes a bit looser, a bit more supple, a bit more flexible and can reach around to the nooks and crannies you thought were impossible. The process takes time, a different amount of time for everybody, and there is no rush to get there.

    I have so far only been to one yoga class that was taught by someone of South-Asian origin, and she was probably the best teacher I had ever come across. She chanted in Sanskrit throughout the class, which in itself was enchanting and relaxing.

    Having grown up doing an Indian classical dance form that often also includes Sanskrit singing and chanting, I feel quite emotionally attached to practices like yoga and traditional meditation.

    Yoga is also supposed to be hands-on and your guru is supposed to help you become more comfortable in your postures. I often find that with ‘quick-fix’ yoga classes, teachers are detached from their students and studios often overfilled to the point of discomfort.

    The difficulty for me stems from the fact that yoga has been turned into something it is not – what I like to call the LA-fication of yoga has changed it into a gym-goer’s dream, when it’s actually a holistic exercise that stimulates the mind just as much as the body.

    In some of the classes I attend though, the mindfulness has been sucked right out in favour of squeezing in just one more stretch or back-bend or posture.

    I don’t necessarily find it difficult being the only brown woman in classes, but I do find it saddening that people of colour are increasingly seeing yoga as something that isn’t for them anymore, largely because of the wider fitness culture that has swallowed yoga under its wing.

    I like being the only brown woman in class – I’ll often say my ‘Om’, ‘Namaste’ and other mantras a little bit too loudly to make sure everyone around me knows that I’m pronouncing it correctly.

    Why do you think of yourself as a strong woman?

    Strength comes in a lot of different forms, I think. I’m still working mine out and to be honest, I think I will be for a long time.

    Part of my strength comes from being headstrong, which means doing what I want to do and not doing what I don’t want to do. An easy example is refusing an alcoholic drink, especially if I’ve got some form of physical activity planned the next day.

    People often underestimate how difficult it is to say no when everybody around you is saying yes, or vice versa, but I’ve found real power in knowing what I want to do and saying it out loud.

    I wouldn’t be a strong woman without so many other strong women in my life who I look up to: my mother, my sister, my two grandmothers, my aunts, my female cousins, all of whom have carved out incredible careers in difficult circumstances. My female friends, for continuing to challenge me but knowing me better than myself. And of course, all of the inspirational women I meet along the way who continue to spur me on.

    Sharlene Gandhi holding a surf board on the beach
    For Sharlene, true fitness is about both body and mind (Picture: Sharlene Gandhi/Metro.co.uk)

    Aly Raisman, captain of the US women’s gymnastics team at the London 2012 Olympics, will forever be the one woman that I fell head-over-heels in love with from the moment I saw her in her element.

    Raisman was an incredibly supportive captain to her younger peers, always smiling and cheering them on.

    My favourite moment of the Olympics – and perhaps ever – was when she performed her near-perfect floor routine and cried before she’d even landed her final jump, knowing full-well that she had smashed it out the ballpark.

    Seeing young, sporting women achieving their dreams on a global stage brought 16-year-old me to tears – I can’t say I then began to pursue any of my sports on a world championship level, but I certainly was, and still am, endlessly inspired by Raisman’s hard work.

    Why do we need to change perceptions about what it means to be a strong woman?

    Being a strong woman rarely comes without the add-ons: bossy, aggressive, stubborn, rude.

    It seems that women can’t just be ‘strong’, they have to be strong with a caveat. Personally, I’m the stubborn kind of strong – and I’ve grown to like it a little bit.

    This is why the perception of strength needs to change. Our strength doesn’t need to be masculine, assertive, or self-centred.

    Our strength can simply be in inspiring other women, and bringing those around us up with us.

    Our strength can be talking to or smiling at somebody when they’re having a bad day.

    Our strength can be our ability to overcome obstacles.

    Our strength can be emotional.

    Our strength can be whatever we want it to be, and we should learn to celebrate this diversity in strength.

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘People with scars suffer in silence and are forced to hide away’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘I used cycling as an escape from grief – but it brought me back to life’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘We lost everything, I was suicidal. Signing up for an Ironman saved me’


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