Typing on a keyboard

If, like me, you’re currently enjoying the delights of job-hunting, fear not. Updating your CV can seem daunting, but here are a few small things I’ve found can make all the difference.

Have a great intro

You want to start your CV with a short, snappy personal statement. Try to avoid clichéd words like driven, creative, hard-working and reliable. Think of it as your ‘elevator pitch’ – a brief overview of what you do and more importantly what makes you good at it.

Make it easy on the eye

A couple of easy ways of doing this are to use a sans serif font, keep your paragraphs short and justify the text. This keeps lines nice and clean, and makes the whole thing quick and easy to read through. Use the same font throughout and be consistent with the size you use for headers and the main bodies of text.

Mix it up

Don’t be overly concerned with having your experience in chronological order. For example, I have a section at the top for relevant experience, followed by the rest of my employment history. You can include any unpaid work as well. If you have a blog, regardless of whether it makes money, include it. Blogging shows a great deal of creativity as it requires so many transferable skills: design, photography, social media management, and of course, writing!

Keep it concise

We all know the rule of keeping your CV down to two pages, but it can be hard to know what to cut down. This is just a guide, but here is what I cut out of mine:

  • Hobbies and interests – there’s much argument over this, but I personally don’t like having mine on my CV
  • Jobs from over five years ago, unless they’re relevant to the job I’m applying for, in which case they go in my relevant experience section
  • I’m selective with my qualifications. I have both of my university qualifications, my A-Levels and then a summary of my GCSEs, rather than a list of all the subjects I took. I think at this point in my career no-one would really care, but of course if you’re applying for your first ever job it’s a different story. Keep extra courses you’ve taken limited to anything relevant or things like First Aid, which is always good to have
  • Unnecessary details about each job I’ve done. I keep it to key responsibilities and notable projects

Don’t get too personal

Personal details wise I only ever include my name, address and contact details. You don’t need to include your date of birth or any other information. Depending on the job you’re applying for you may want to include links (for example, to your blog) and Twitter handles.

References available on request

I had this on my CV for years, but it’s not necessary. Scrap it. It’s a given that you’ll be able to provide references.

 

 

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Bournemouth Gin Festival recently and I had a fab time with my lovely friend Amy.

The Art Deco glamour of the Pavilion Theatre and the soulful music of pianist Dan Burnett made the perfect setting for sipping on gin cocktails and eating street food.

Taquitos

I must admit I was a little bit overwhelmed by the vast selection of gins, and wandered around the room unsure of where to start. In the end we were tempted by the cocktail bar, and the awesome Sean mixed me the most delicious cocktail I’ve ever had.

  

Sean very kindly sent me the recipe for the Rhubarb Rumble. 

All you’ll need is:

50ml (double shot) of Edinburgh rhubarb and ginger liqueur
50ml Advocaat
50ml good quality, clear apple juice
A dash of rhubarb bitters and a squeeze of lemon.
Shake well and garnish with a rhubarb and custard sweet!

If you’re wondering what Amy had, she tried a Tipsy Rocket – a lovely sparkling cocktail that would be perfect to serve at a garden party or summer wedding!

All you’ll need to make this is:

50ml Adnams Copper House Gin
50ml good quality apple juice
Squeeze of lemon
Shake well together and pour over ice. Pour (from a height, I’m assured this isn’t just because it looks cool!) 25ml of crème de cassis directly into the glass and top off with a generous glug of Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon wheel and two plump blackberries.

Next up we decided to have a couple of cheeky G&Ts. I tried a Welsh gin called Dà Mhìle. “This one has seaweed in, seems right up your street” – Amy knows me well!

I can’t say it was particularly seaweedy (seaweedesque?) but it had a lovely flavour. We were given a pairing guide and I was really impressed that each gin came with its own recommendation for both tonic and garnish.

I was very jealous of Amy’s drink. She tried Poetic Licence’s Picnic Gin, garnished with strawberry and served with Fevertree elderflower tonic. It was basically summer in a glass.

I didn’t actually realise Fevertree did so many different tonics, and I absolutely loved the elderflower one. A lot of people don’t like the strong taste of normal tonic, so I think this is a lovely alternative.

I was drawn to the fab stand for Brockmans Gin (seriously, they have the sexiest branding EVER!) and ended up having a great chat with the lovely Pip, who gave me a sample of their delicious gin, infused with blackberry and blueberry. It was light, fruity and a perfect summer alternative to regular gin.

I’ve been a big fan of Conker gin for a while now. They’re a Dorset-based company and their gin was the first one I actually really enjoyed. So when I saw they were launching their own coffee liquer I was so excited.

I can’t recommend this highly enough. Conker describes it as ‘espresso-driven’ rather than the usual sweet or creamy coffee liquers most people would be familiar with. It would make an ideal gift for any coffee-lovers in your life and I imagine it would make a lovely Christmas-time tipple.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with Scandinavia, so obviously I had to try a Swedish gin. This (right) was Ragnarok, paired with regular tonic and garnished with…dill of course! Smooth and light, the delicate flavour of the dill complimented it surprisingly well.

The most triumphant moment of the night was, without a doubt, when Amy and I decided to try out the photo booth. Believe it or not, this was the best photo we managed (and we took A LOT!).

If you’re a gin-lover (and even if you’re not!), the Gin Festival is well worth checking out. Just make sure to eat a big lunch first – it’s impossible to make your way round the room without being lured in by the cocktail bar, or offered loads of free samples!

Ahead of my #TalkMH chat this Thursday, I wanted explore two of my favourite TV shows and look at how they portray mental illness.

Gilmore girls

As much as I hate to say it, because GG is my absolute favourite TV show, I strongly dislike how it portrays therapy.

In season 6, episode 11 (‘The Perfect Dress’), Rory is asked to attend therapy following her recent time away from college. From Lorelai’s initial reaction (‘I can’t believe you’re going to a therapist’ followed by a joke about the old cliché of therapists asking about your mother) to the actual session itself, nothing in this episode is handled sensitively at all.

The scene itself is an absolute farce, starting with Rory’s obvious disdain towards her therapist and ending with over-the-top crying. It makes me cringe every time.

Rory Gilmore crying

Afterwards, she calls Lorelai and opens with, ‘Guess who’s crazy?’

Huh.

I’ll forgive it though, because this episode first aired back in 2005 and let’s be honest, Gilmore girls was never particularly PC.

Fast-forward to 2016 though, and we have the revival episodes. *Warning: Spoilers ahead!*

Sigh. Where to start?

I had high hopes when Lorelai sensitively suggested Emily see a professional to help her through her grief. But then we get to the therapist who seems alright at first, but quickly becomes more and more ridiculous.

Firstly, can we talk about the obvious frustration and lack of empathy she shows when she’s rushing them out of their sessions?

And then, when she turns up in Stars Hollow (I’m sorry, why?!), bounds up to Lorelai (so unprofessional!!) and announces she’s auditioning for the musical, I couldn’t stop myself from sighing. So we’re supposed to believe that Emily and Lorelai were such difficult clients they drove her to give up her career as a therapist in favour of performing in small town musical? Sure. That makes sense.

Girl rolling her eyes

I feel like the therapy was used more as a comedic device than to drive the plot. Case in point: the infamous letter that Emily mentions to Lorelai that never comes up again. I’m not saying therapy can’t or shouldn’t be portrayed in a funny way, I just think the humour here missed the mark. And I was disappointed that we didn’t see the whole thing handled more sensitively.

That said, I liked that Lorelai continued to go by herself, and ultimately her sessions did lead her to somewhat of an epiphany about her own life.

Overall though, not impressed.

The Big Bang Theory

Now, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.

I know a lot of people don’t particularly like how Sheldon’s OCD is portrayed but personally I can relate a lot to him.

The rituals (knocking three times), the obsessive need for closure and to an extent his cleanliness, all struck a chord with me.

Sheldon knocking on the door

This is perfectly illustrated in season 7, episode 8 (‘The Itchy Brain Simulation’), when Sheldon likens his need for closure to an ‘itch on his brain’ that leaves him feeling uncomfortable and anxious. I can’t think of a better way to describe OCD. He urges Leonard to walk a mile in his shoes by wearing an itchy jumper. OCD is so difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it, so I think it’s particularly clever that Sheldon suggests mimicking it with a physical sensation.

Though Leonard gains a better understanding of his friend’s struggles, he still teases him and calls him crazy. Rather than taking offense though, I applaud the show’s accuracy. It’s been my experience that people often can’t relate, so Leonard’s lack of understanding rang true with me.

In another episode, Sheldon’s girlfriend Amy tries to help him overcome his OCD, by encouraging him to start various tasks without finishing them. Challenging his compulsive need to see everything through is very difficult for Sheldon and I really related to his struggle. The strain is visible on his face and the episode ends with him doing the tasks again, this time to completion.

While some could argue that The Big Bang Theory stigmatises OCD, I would personally disagree. I think it’s great that the show is helping to ‘normalise’ OCD and bring it into the mainstream. More than that, I like that it doesn’t just focus on cleanliness, as of course there’s so much more to it than that. Anything that helps more people realise this is a good thing in my book.

It’s not always a perfect representation, but I find it relatable and at times very sensitively handled.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. If you can’t make it to the chat (this Thursday 13th April at 8:30pm) please feel free to tweet me, or leave a comment below.

 

 

Just a quick post to check in as it’s been a little while and I’ve got something very exciting to share…

I’ve just had my last ever CBT session!

It’s been a long old journey, with two separate therapists and many, many issues to work through. But I DID IT!

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen that I’ve not been very well over the last couple of weeks and that just after my birthday something happened that once would have been my worst nightmare: I threw up.

If you don’t know, I have HAD emetophobia, a fear of vomiting. At my worst, this phobia controlled my life, made me starve myself and turned simple things like eating in public into a massive source of anxiety. As is common with emetophobes, I am very rarely ever sick. But for some reason, that night I was.

And you know what? I was completely fine. I mean, I didn’t enjoy the experience, obviously, but I stayed calm throughout, cleaned up after myself and took it in my stride. That might seem small to you, but to me it was a huge achievement.

Since then my confidence has grown and grown. I now eat things with my hands at work, eat chicken on a regular basis, and a few days ago did something I honestly never thought I would be able to do – I ate a sweet without washing my hands first. I didn’t try to tip it in my mouth, or pick it up with the wrapper. I just plunged my hand in the bag and went for it.

The list of small victories like this goes on and on and I’m ridiculously proud of myself.

This time last year I was at my absolute lowest point. I honestly felt hopeless. It’s been a long, difficult road, with almost 40 sessions of counselling and a prescription for Sertraline, an SSRI. Now, I feel like a new person.

No, that’s not quite right. I feel like the old me is back. The version of myself that finds joy in things, smiles for no reason and has goals, dreams and drives.

I was almost bursting with happiness when I reeled off this list of achievements to my counsellor and she looked so damn proud of me.

I went in knowing it was likely to be my last session. I felt ready. I’ve learned what I need to be kind to myself, to support myself during difficult times and to listen to my rational thoughts rather than my obsessive ones. I’m still recovering, but I feel confident enough to go it alone now.

Right before I said goodbye to my counsellor she said

You did this’

‘It’s not easy, but you did this.’ I can’t tell you how proud that made me feel. Finally I believe in myself again. All that trust in myself I’d lost over the years (for one reason or another), is coming back.

I feel invincible.

Afterwards I walked to work in the sunshine and treated myself to a milkshake.

Elliot drinking Starbucks

I reminded myself of this scene!

I’ve got this. I’ve bloody well got this.

Recovery is possible. There is hope. I hope that I’m proof of that.

If you think CBT could help you, speak to your GP, who may be able to refer you to local NHS services. Or, check out the BABCP website, to find a private therapist in your area.

A while back I decided to do a Q&A and loads of you tweeted me lovely questions. Thank you so much to everyone who took part, I was so nervous no-one would ask me anything!

Erika (@TheWeInMe) asked,

‘If you could only choose 1 thing-one sentence of support-to say to someone struggling with mental illness what would it be?’

I would say that recovery isn’t a straight line. You’ll have good days and bad, ups and down, but in the end you will get better. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, whether that be to your loved ones, a counsellor, or your GP. You are not selfish for telling other people what you need, and it’s OK to not be OK. Be kind to yourself.

Oops, that’s more than one sentence.

Joe (@themanicmedic) asked,

‘If you had control of all the penguins, how would you take over the world?’

I love this question! I would command the penguins to do a giant flash mob to ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain. This would undoubtedly be the cutest thing ever, and would eventually become the most successful viral video the world has ever seen. With the vast amount of money I would make from this, I would start to solve the world’s problems one at a time, and quickly be elected Prime Minister. My cabinet would be the penguins, and we’d travel the world together using the power of sheer cuteness, whimsy and joyful dancing to bring peace to every nation.

Laura (@lauradavis_96) asked,

‘What and when were you diagnosed with and how did the diagnosis make you feel?’

This is a tricky one as I’ve never really been formally diagnosed. I’ve always known I have emetophobia, but didn’t really know I also had OCD until my counsellor suggested I might. I was in denial initially, until I realised she was right. Having a label for it and a better understanding of what I was going through was actually a huge relief. Throughout counselling, everything clicked into place and I realised that I’m not alone which was a huge comfort. Finally I understood myself better, which is definitely the first step to recovery in my opinion.

When I saw my GP he didn’t officially diagnose me with anything, but he prescribed anti-depressants. I have also been prescribed beta-blockers for anxiety. So to an extent, as far as my doctor is concerned, I have depression and anxiety.

Depression is a serious illness so I’m careful not to throw the word around lightly. To be honest, I’ve always wondered whether it was just a series of very shitty events that made me feel the way I did, rather than an actual medical reason. All I know is that my medication is helping me and that’s all that matters.

Hannah (@hannahrainey_) wondered,

‘What is your greatest achievement? Something you’re really, really proud of yourself for?’

To be honest, surviving last year and coming out of it stronger than ever. I sought out the help I needed, took some huge, scary steps and put myself through a lot of pain, all the while learning to trust myself to do what’s right for me. I learned to put my needs first and gained the strength to open up to those around me.

I learned that the right course of action is sometimes the hardest, but in the end you’ll only come out stronger than before.

I’m proud of Geek Magnifique, and the amazing people I’ve meet through blogging. I’m proud of myself for following my dreams and landing an amazing job.

But most of all, I’m proud of myself for not giving up.

‘If you could have dinner with one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?’ 

– Rich (@RichBiscuit21)

It’s a tough one. Probably my Grandpa, as I never got to know him, but I’ve been told he was the loveliest man.

Possibly my Dad, to try to right some wrongs and repair our relationship.

Or maybe Louis Theroux. Because, well, Louis Theroux. *Heart eyes*

Charlie Brooker is also very high on my dream dinner party guest-list as I reckon we’d really hit it off. I think we have similar views on the world, and I’d love to pick his brain as I think he’s an absolute genius. He’d be amazing to chat to, and he suffers from emetophobia like me, which makes me like him even more!

Kat (@thekatway) was curious to know,

‘Who made your profile picture? And what good things have come from being a MH advocate so far?’

My profile picture (below) was made by the supremely talented, and wonderful, @AlohaLolaCards – check her out!

Cartoon image of me

The best thing about being a MH advocate is when people tell me I’ve helped them. Knowing that I’m helping people to feel less alone is a wonderful thing, and I feel honoured to have met all the incredibly courageous, inspiring people I have through blogging.

Mel (@melreylaw):

‘Do you ever get comments from people who think social media jobs are easy? What’s your response?’

I definitely get a lot of, ‘So what do you actually do? How is that a full time job?’ as people just imagine I’m sitting on Twitter all day. I explain that there’s a lot of planning and strategy that goes into it, and that my role encompasses many other things, for example writing blog posts and email marketing. To be honest, I’ve learned it’s easier just to say I work in marketing! Less questions that way. That or I joke that I’m a ‘professional tweeter’ and have a laugh about it.

And finally, another lovely question from Laura:

‘Name five things you’re grateful for.’

  1. My friends and family. Of course this includes my wonderful husband!
  2. Having a home and stability.
  3. Doing a job I love.
  4. Animals.
  5. Pizza.

Puppy eating a slice of pizza