Er… you'd like to do WHAT in the where now? Blush!
There may come the time when your partner asks you to do something that makes you feel nervous or embarrassed, totally turns you off, feels taboo to you, or makes you flinch with horror. It can be difficult to say 'no' to them without hurting their feelings, making them question whether they can be open with you sexually, or frankly panicking and feeling at a loss as to how to reply.
Sometimes it's difficult to tell whether someone is joking or serious about a sexual request. Ask them whether they are serious and if either or you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, suggest discussing this when you are both sober. Your reaction should depend upon your personal preference, the nature of the request, and how it is made.
If someone asks you politely and respectfully, and their request isn't breaking the law, then bear in mind that they have trusted you enough to ask, and that what's unusual or taboo to you might seem normal and enjoyable to them. Everybody has different sexual preferences, and it's normal for you and your partner to have different sexual interests and fantasies.
Is what they've asked for: A bit unusual, or just something you’re not into?
If it is a bit unusual or makes you blush, you could say that you'd like to think about it for a while, but that you don't fancy it right now, which will give you some time to gather your thoughts and perhaps find out more about the subject. If you are neither put off nor excited by the sexual request, but it's important to your partner, then you might want to experiment and try it once.
It’s important to make an informed decision, and that you take your instincts into account as well, and never ignore a gut feeling. If it is something you're just not into, clearly let your partner know how you feel. Don’t say 'maybe' if you really mean 'not a chance!' Think about how you might feel about it after and don’t do something just to keep someone else happy. If they care about you they will respect your decision.
Work on a compromise that suits both of you
Perhaps you might be able to negotiate a compromise that suits both of you. For example, “toe sucking just doesn't do it for me, but I'd love a foot massage instead”. If someone has a fixation, rather than a passing fancy, this may not satisfy them, but it's up to you to decide if you're happy to fulfill their request.
How to say NO!
Your personal preferences are as valid as anyone else's, and you have a right to say 'no' to anything that you don't like the idea of. You do not have to fulfill every one of your partner's fantasies. Here are some tips on how to turn them down gracefully:
It's time for a serious sit-down talk, or time to get the hell out, if:
Remember that the age of sexual consent in the Republic of Ireland is 17 and the age of sexual consent in Northern Ireland is 16.
Having sex can be a mixed bag of emotions at times. You can feel self-conscious, nervous, excited or maybe not ready so here are a few common worries and a few remedies that may help:
Remember that the age of sexual consent in the Republic of Ireland is 17 and the age of sexual consent in Northern Ireland is 16.
Cystitis is a very common infection of the bladder or urinary system that causes a burning feeling or discomfort when you pee. It affects up to 80% of women at some point in their lives, so everyone should know what it is and how to relieve the symptoms.
What causes cystitis?
Cystitis starts when bacteria enter the body through the urethra (a short tube that carries pee from the bladder to outside the body). Women are much more likely to suffer from cystitis than men because this tube is shorter in a woman's body than in a man's.
It can be caused by:
What are the symptoms?
If you constantly suffer from cystitis, ask for a full check up into the cause. Your doctor can arrange for an x-ray or do tests to check what's causing the attacks.
What treatment can I get?
How can I prevent cystitis?
We're all different. We come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, we like different things and we have different beliefs. And we also all have very distinctive body shapes and sizes.
What do you think when you look in the mirror? Are you happy with what you see or do you spend ages worrying about whether you look the way you ‘should’?
Don’t get hung up on your body, remember It takes all sorts to make the world. There are millions of different types of people so accept yourself as you are.
With all the bodily changes (and life changes) taking place during your teens and early twenties it’s easy to become obsessed with how you look. After al,l your body is going through a lot of changes during this time and all those hormones whizzing around can really affect your moods.
It can be really hard if you are developing faster or slower than your friends but remember that everyone develops at a different rate.
In the long run, it makes no difference when you start and it won't affect what you will be like as an adult. This body stuff is not a competition. Try to relax, and if you are really worried talk to your parents, friends or someone that you trust.
That's what makes every one of us different and special in our own right.
Make sure you don’t let others put you down or try to change you, they’re not you! They don’t feel what you feel. You live your life and let them get on with theirs.
Be happy in your own skin and enjoy being your own individual self.
Little things is a new mental health and wellbeing social marketing campaign from the HSE’s National Office for Suicide Prevention, and created in partnership with over 20 partner organisations (SpunOut.ie was one of them!).
The campaign is aiming to make people aware of the little things that can help improve your mental health. The campaign was launched today and has three messages to share. They want to increase the number of people who believe and know that the following are true:
In order to help promote this campaign, Una, Alan (SpunOut.ie’s comms officer) and Robert have shared their experiences to help others. You can watch them below:
The campaign also sees the launch of the new and improved yourmentalhealth.ie, which has lots of resources for people struggling with their mental health but also includes an interactive map with support services nationwide.
So, what are the #littlethings? The #littlethings are acts of self-care that are proven to help us feel better and get through tough times. This is about you finding what works for you.
When news of promising young Dublin footballer Shane Carthy’s battle with depression broke earlier this year, the outpouring of support and understanding from the entire Gaelic games community was simply astounding.
Following the shock of Galway hurler Niall Donohue’s tragic and untimely passing the previous year, the GAA community took the opportunity to rally around one of its elite sportsmen, and demonstrate how attitudes towards mental health are changing for the better in this country.
Having already secured All-Ireland medals at minor and senior level with his county, Shane was playing a pivotal role with Dublin’s Under 21 side in their quest for the 2014 title when his fine run of form was abruptly cut short at the semi-final stage.
Given his dominant performance in April’s Leinster final against Meath, many eyebrows were raised at the cultured midfielder’s absence from the panel to face Cavan two weeks later. On the eve of the 21s’ final matchup with Roscommon, the reason for Shane’s withdrawal from the squad was made public - he had been hospitalised after suffering from depression.
“There were rumours that I was injured so we just wanted to clear that out of the way. It probably showed people that it is ok not to be ok. Personally I didn’t understand the whole stigma behind it. It’s like anything else - if you’ve a broken leg, you go to hospital and get that fixed, I just thought in terms of I had a broken mind, so I’ve to get treated for that,” says DCU student Shane, who will line out for the college freshers team this year having already returned to action with his club Naomh Mearnóg.
For him, football had always been a release, and despite suffering internally for quite some time, the demanding routine of training and matches for an intercounty team acted as a distraction from the problems Shane was experiencing.
“I was constantly busy, and it was keeping my mind off things rather than sitting down and being in my own head, so it was nearly a good thing in a way that I had those distractions. But then over the last while it got that bit more difficult, and that’s when it all came to a fore.”
Although still in the recovery process, Shane is gradually becoming stronger and stronger in his outlook since leaving hospital in the middle of June. Despite admittedly being in a bad place at the time, he was still overwhelmed by the sheer level of compassion directed towards him by the public.
“It was massive, I tried to keep myself away from it at the start, but you couldn’t exactly with all the papers and everything being in front of you… It was very heartening,” he admits.
It’s an experience that the 20 year-old won’t forget anytime soon. But far from attempting to bury the memory of such a difficult ordeal, Shane sought to get a physical reminder of the lessons he’d learned about himself with a tattoo of a semi-colon on his wrist. What’s that got to do with depression, you might ask…
“A semi-colon represents a sentence where an author could have ended, but chose not to. In this case I’m the author, and the sentence is my life.
“I do have bad days like everyone else does, and I look to that knowing that I have been in a bad place, that I’ve come through it, and that it will get better,” says the sports science and health student, who is content to take things slowly for now before possibly looking at a return to the county setup around December or January.
Smoking isn't a cheap habit. In fact, it can cost quite a lot to buy cigarettes so some smokers prefer to roll their own. These cigarettes are known as 'rollies' or 'roll-ups' and have become increasingly popular.
There is a perception that smoking rollies is not as bad for you as smoking regular cigarettes. However this is false as rollies contain the same amount of chemicals that regular cigarettes do.
They’re often seen as being a healthier and cheaper version of cigarettes, but the fact is that roll-up cigarettes contain 7,000 toxic chemicals. Many of these chemicals are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and poisonous.
Here are just a selection of the chemicals that make all tobacco products toxic when smoked:
Researchers have found that rollies can be often worse for you than smoking regular cigarettes. Here’s why:
Whether it's rollies or traditional cigarettes, the health benefits start right away when you quit smoking:
Being a young person can be super stressful. Everybody needs little things that help to reduce the stress in their day-to-day lives. Smokers know this as much as anyone. When confronting a tough or stressful situation, the first thing many smokers do is reach for a smoke and light up.
Everybody knows that smoking may seem to momentarily relieve stress, but in the long term, it sends stress levels through the roof. But when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, all you want is for the stress to subside a bit, and it’s easy not to consider what the long term effects of that are.
It’s understandable to feel that way. Life can be stressful, and it’s totally reasonable to want to take measures to relieve that stress wherever you can. But let’s establish this fact before going forward; smoking is making your stress much worse. This is just a fact. It’s making all sorts of dangerous changes to your heart rate, breathing, and the chemicals in your brain that determine your mood, and all of this contributes to major long-term stress increases.
So with that in mind, let’s have a look at some real ways we can keep our stress at a bearable level. There are healthier, cheaper, better ways of fighting stress that smoking. Here are our top picks:
Like so many others I reached a point in my life where I was so preoccupied with trying to find happiness I would have done anything to attain it. It was not that I was sad; it was what almost felt like a profound realisation that no one else had. I felt like I held the truth of the world, and that I being a minister of this truth gave it the justification to let it take over my life.
I knew the truth of reality, and that truth was that we are all alone, that no matter what we only have ourselves to rely on. That is the truth of reality. But so often the truth itself lies and that is the real truth of depression - the truth lies. We ponder these existential questions every single day and it doesn’t seem to bother most, but to a depressive who has nothing but their thoughts, emotions and a distorted reality to rely on these are the single most important questions in which an answer must be sought. This article is not supposed to be an anatomy of depression, but rather a narrative of how I had come to lose my identity and it was in the aftermath of my depression that a new one was forged.
Depression is a profound insight; it is in this insight that we search for meaning in life. In searching for meaning we so often look outwards, yet it’s looking inward to your own experience of trauma where meaning will be forged. You need to recall the tragedy of depression and fold it into a powerful story of insight, a tale of great endurance and an anthology of how you came to triumph over adversity.
I was 19 when I first had depression; it lasted for over a year. And in that time I lost almost everything, I lost my savings, my confidence, my romantic relationship broke down, I lost friends, and I almost lost my life on one occasion. I did not understand what was wrong with me, even though close friends pleaded with me to seek help I did not. Instead it festered and lingered, and the beast eventually went into hiding after a year. Sufferers like myself, will understand how the mask of appearance can be so tiring. Social settings can be exhausting. I just didn't want to leave my bed.
Two years later I was rejected from two masters courses because of results gained in my second year of college of which 30% went to my final grade. This was the year I was sick. I was in a job that I hated, selling computer software, in a relationship, which was faltering, and living almost alone in an apartment just too far outside the city to walk to it. Time went on, and I fought with myself for just under a year again as I spiraled into a far more suffocating depression at the age of 22 and it too was to last for almost another year.
I remember the day that I really reached out, as a 22 year old I did what anyone would do - I sought the comfort of my mother. I phoned her that day and I said, “Mom, something is very wrong, I am very sick, and I really need to talk to someone."
Over the course of the next few months I was to delve far back into my childhood and face the demons I had avoided over the past few years leading up to that moment. I started to write again, which I had not done since I was 18. I started to paint again, to draw, to express my emotions and deal with years upon years of pain and suffering through therapy.
Halfway through my therapy I stopped taking my medication. I had no semblance of what it meant to be me, and I couldn't help but question whether the medication I was taking was making me more like me, or forging a new me with medication.
I applied for college once again and while I waited for the yes or no, I also worked on getting the cap on my grades from second year over turned. I spent a year correcting the damage that the 19 year old me did to himself. But I forgive him for that.
In my depression, I tried to forge meaning from it, and it shaped me as a person. Depression helped to shape my personality today and I am forever grateful for it. I worked to build a person from almost nothing after it broke me down over the course of 3 years and I finally sought help. It was in working from the inside out, rather than the outside in which I had tried to do on many occasions, that changed my perspective on everything as I had tried to do so many times.
It made me realise that despite the hardship I had to endure, it allowed me to treat a sickness within me that would have got worse had it been left untouched. Of course, I am not saying that depression is a good thing since it is quite the opposite. Rather what I am saying, is that if we can try to realise that there is a reason for it, then you can try to get better.
It is through adversity that we shape our identity, and meaning comes pouring from it. We could go through life without all the confetti filled evenings and strawberry sunshine mornings and still have identity...but we could not forge an identity without our misfortunes.
When you are sick, you are sick. When you are sad, you are sad, and when you are melancholy then it’s ok to be so. It’s important to accept that negativity in your life and try to learn something from it. On the other side of it now, I am back in college and I have had depression and I am still here.
When I opened the acceptance email from my University, I sat on a chair outside where I read it and instantly I began to weep. I cried because after 4 years of fighting a depression I had finally corrected at least some of the damage it had caused. It was in those moments as I wept, that I became thankful for the experiences that had shaped me and shaped this moment. I was thankful for the times I felt impossibly tired because it made me stronger. I was thankful for the times I felt unable to deal with life, because it made me more resilient, and I was thankful for the time that my life almost ended, because it has allowed me to turn a grim story of depression, into a narrative of strength, insight, and triumph over adversity.
I realise I am in a privileged position and I do not fear another episode of depression but nor do I welcome it. It has become a cornerstone of my understanding that I will learn something from it. And although it will be tough, I will come out the other side of it. It would be impossible for us to go through life experiencing torment and lamenting depressive episodes if it had no meaning for us. With meaning we can endure great pain if we can just see that it has a purpose. As students of adversity we need to retell the trauma of depression, fold it into a story of insight, a tale of great endurance and an anthology of how you have come to triumph over your own personal adversity.
Every year, over 100 Irish people under the age of 35 die of undiagnosed heart conditions. Although scans are readily available, many people are willing to gamble their health on the idea that they’re probably not that one person in 500 who has a potentially life-threatening heart defect.
Back in 2002, Martina McGuire was that one person. Having just arrived home from her family’s annual trip to the Dublin Horse Show on the 9th of August that year, 17 year-old Leaving Cert student Martina was blissfully unaware of the trauma that would be visited on her family by her untimely passing.
“She was perfectly healthy. We came home on the Friday and we all went to bed around 11:30/12 that night. She was meant to have work at eight the next morning, and I remember waking up to my mam running up the corridor shouting ‘Martina, you need to get up, you’re after sleeping in’, and it turned out that Martina was dead in her bed,” remembers Martina’s sister Mary, aged 12 at the time.
As it turned out, 17 year-old Martina was suffering from a rare genetic heart condition which caused her to pass away in her sleep without warning. Originally, doctors had little idea as to the cause of her death, but when a cousin of Mary’s was struck by a heart attack (which thankfully she survived) in Australia a few years later, the family decided to get tested in case they were similarly at risk.
After getting the all-clear following heart screenings in America that summer, Mary was eventually convinced to get further tests when she returned home in July.
“I remember [after a few tests] they sent me away with the monitor for my heart activity, and when I think about it, it was stupid really, but all I cared about was a house party in college that night,” says media graduate Mary.
“I took it off and posted it back the next day, and a month or six weeks later I got another letter to say ‘come back up we want to talk to you’, and the doctor recommended that I get fitted with a defibrillator because I have Long QT Syndrome.”
Effectively an elongated beat within one of the heart valves, Mary’s Long QT Syndrome can potentially cause her to go into cardiac arrest if she comes in contact with certain everyday medications, such as painkillers and cold and flu tablets. Now fitted with a defibrillator which drastically reduces her chances of running into complications, Mary is glad she got the opportunity to check her heart health before it was too late.
“When I got told I had to get fitted with a defibrillator, my automatic reaction was to cry, thinking ‘oh my God this is the worst thing ever’, but it’s really not, it’s completely fine, I don’t even realise I have it,” says Mary, who can still do tough exercises like crossfit despite her condition.
“It’s such a simple test. It’s painless, there’s no needles involved they don’t have to take your blood or anything like that, you just get wired up to machines and do a walk on a treadmill or something, it’s so easy for people but the effects are huge- it can save so many people’s lives.”
Although very few suffer from Mary’s condition, it’s never a bad idea to get your heart activity checked out. Take a look through the links for screening options below for more information on how you can get screened.
Irish Heart Foundation: Sudden cardiac death
Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY): Cardiac screening tests
Mental health is a huge issue in Ireland today, with experts estimating that over half of young people will experience a mental health problem by the age of 24.
On top of that, around 300,000 people are believed to be suffering from depression in this country at any one time, and reports released just last week indicated that the number of suicides here reached an all-time peak in 2011 compared to records from previous years.
So, what can you do to help? Mental Health Reform want you to sign their petition which calls on the Government to ensure that funding is maintained at a decent level for mental health services.
They’re calling on the Taoiseach and ministers to allocate an extra €50 million to community mental health services in next month’s budget (according to the organisation’s figures, funding for mental health services dropped by nearly €200 million between 2006 and 2012!)
Mental Health Reform works to educate the wider population about issues affecting people’s mental health. They also promote other bodies that speak out about such topics, and encourage the State to supply adequate services and funding to meet the needs of our communities and people of all ages.
Eating out and going for lunch or dinner with friends is a great way to catch up and socialise. With family gatherings and birthdays, it’s pretty hard to avoid eating out and it can be tough to deal with if you’re trying to eat healthily. And that’s why we’re here with some suggestions on how to make the best choices when you go for that cheeky Chinese or takeaway!
Some content thanks to Safefood.eu.