Ten Reasons to Give Blood

Blood donation is vital to help treat thousands of seriously ill patients across the country every day – but new donors are desperately needed. I hope this article will help persuade you to register to give blood and help save the lives of others.

  • It saves lives!

The most obvious reason for donating blood is the fact that it helps save lives. Every donation can help save or improve the lives of up to three adults of six children, which is an awful lot considering that donation has come from one person. The problem is that only around 4% of the population who are eligible to donate blood are active blood donors – and with over 6000 blood donations needed each day to treat people in England, this is huge problem.

  • It’s good for your health!

Studies have shown that giving blood is actually good for your health; this is because it reduces the amount of iron in the body and reduces the risk of heart diseases. As a result of this, blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack as iron is being removed from their system while the blood is being taken out of their body, which can significantly cut the risk of heart disease.

  • It doesn’t hurt

One reason why someone may be hesitant towards donating blood is the fact that needles are involved in the process. While needles look very intimidating, their bark is a lot worse than their bite! You don’t actually feel anything during the ten minutes or so that you’re sat in the chair, if anything it’s quite nice to be able to sit down and put your feet up! For anyone that has had tattoos or piercings done, you’ve experienced a hundred times worse than this in the past – not to mention the fact that the needle is being used by a nurse who has used a needle a thousand times before so you’d definitely be in safe hands.

  • You only have to be seventeen to register

For the younger people out there; you can start donating blood as soon as you turn 17! There are certain things that you have to take into account when registering such as being in general good health, and weighing over 50kg but a questionnaire will be sent to you prior to your appointment which you’ll be able to fill in all the necessary information about your health. So if you are looking to donating for the first time, you need to make sure that you start either on or before your 66th birthday.

  • It’s quick

You may think that donating blood is a long process but in reality it really isn’t. Donating blood is a four-step process: you register, have a look at your medical history and a mini-physical, then you go on to the actual donation, and finally there are refreshments as a thank you for your good deed. Most of the time you’re in and out in under an hour, so it isn’t an all day job!

  • Some blood groups and types are desperately needed

Obviously donors are needed from all blood groups and types, but hospitals are in particularly in need of more people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities to give blood to give blood so that there is a supply of these blood types. Also at this moment in time, people with blood group O negative or B negative in the UK are desperately needed for donations so if you have come under any of these categories it’s especially important that people like yourself get registering.

  • One day it could be you

25% of people will need blood at least once during their lifetime. The list goes on and on as to why someone may need to be given blood but here is just a few examples: to treat medical conditions such as anaemia and cancer, to be used in cardiac and emergency surgery, and to treat blood loss after giving birth. As you can see, there are multiple reasons why blood is needed and at some point in your life either you or someone you know may need blood too.

  • Lowers the risk of cancer

Another healthy reason to give blood is that it lowers the risk of cancer. Studies have shown that consistently donating blood is associated with lower risks of getting cancers including lung, colon, liver, stomach, and throat cancers. Not only are you helping others by donating blood, you’re also helping yourself by lowering your risk of getting cancer in the future.

  • Can help you lose weight

According to a study done by the University of San Diego, approximately 650 calories can be burned by donating just one pint of blood. If you donate on a regular basis, this means you could lose a significant amount of weight. Donating blood shouldn’t be used as a weight loss tool though as you’d still have to weigh over 50kg in order to continue donating.

  • Free Stuff

If the idea of helping save and improve other people’s lives isn’t enough for you then you’ll be pleased to know that you will receive free refreshments such as tea and biscuits once you have completed your donation. You’ll also receive a blood donation card and a key ring after the first donation which includes your blood group that you can show off.

For more information please click on the following links:

NHS Blood Donation (UK)

American Red Cross (USA)

Canadian Blood Services (Canada)

Becoming A Blood Donor (Europe)

 

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Seven Months Smoke Free

It’s been seven months now since I packed in smoking. I thought I would take the time to write about how I’ve found quitting smoking, the pros and cons, and the easy ways I personally feel to go about quitting. I’m going to start off by saying if you’ve never smoked, you may be wondering why I’ve said “pros and cons” – surely there are no pros to smoking? I personally don’t think it would be right for me to completely bad mouth smoking, after all, for a few months I did find it enjoyable. What I also don’t want to do is bad mouth anyone who’s reading this who doesn’t want to quit smoking because at the end of the day people should be able to do whatever they want.

There’s a multitude of reasons why I decided to give up smoking. I was 18 at the time so I was finding it very costly, my addiction to tobacco in the year and a half that I’d been smoking increasingly got worse to the point where on some days I was smoking up to 40 cigarettes, I was also fed up of the smell that came along with smoking and how I had to constantly spray myself with deodorant to try to hide it. Like I said, there are a lot of reasons why I wanted to quit and I could spend ages just sitting here and listing them off.

Even before I started smoking, I was intrigued by it. I always wondered if it was so bad for you, why roughly 9.4 million adults in the UK smoke cigarettes. When I eventually did try a cigarette for the first time, I thoroughly enjoyed it; each puff I took made me feel light-headed and relaxed. When people ask me what it’s like to smoke a cigarette, this is the reason why I tell them the truth and say I did get satisfaction out of doing it – If I were to respond saying how terrible it is and how much I hate it, they’re going to know I’m lying and may seek a second opinion in one way shape or form. After a few months though the nice feeling I was getting from smoking was slowly disappearing. Unfortunately it was too late though, I was already hooked.

As the nice effects were going away, I found myself smoking more and more to try to get that feeling back again. In hindsight, I would’ve saved myself a lot of money and done less damage to myself if I attempted to call it quits there and then, but I carried on with it. I eventually did attempt to quit, but the problem I had been that my friends smoked which meant I couldn’t get away from it. Also, I really hated college and smoking was the only thing I had that made going in more bearable. This made quitting very hard, even with the use of nicotine patches. Every few weeks I’d try and quit but I always wound up with a cigarette between my lips again.

Fast forward to October 2015; college is done with but I’ve been diagnosed with depression and am determined to make some changes, one of which is to pack in the smoking. I went and bought nicotine patches, used /r/StopSmoking on Reddit to read other people’s experiences, I made the decision to stop hanging out with my friends who smoked until I felt I could go out again and not crack. Not being at college certainly helped as well since I was at home 99% of the time and didn’t feel like I needed to light up a cigarette in order to make my day better.  At first I found it very hard, every time I saw someone with a cigarette it’d make me want one too; perseverance sums up quitting smoking perfectly. While I personally found it very hard, one has to remain strong to get through it.

If we fast forward again to May 2016 you’ll find I haven’t smoked a cigarette in seven months. The nicotine patches are long gone, I have more money in my pocket, my breathing has improved dramatically, and there appears to be no sign of me doing a U-turn by going back to smoking. I’m happy now, there’s no reason for me to smoke. I’d be lying if I told you that I never think about smoking anymore because I do. When I’m at the pub and I see people smoking, it brings back memories from when I’d be in the back of a pub puffing away on a cigarette while chatting to my friends. With that being said, a thought is all it is – smoking has very little to no control over me now.

So what are the pros of smoking? Please bear in mind that this is from my perspective, other people will obviously have different answers. I found the pros to be that it relieved me off stress for a brief period of time; I also found it to be quite a sociable thing to do – my friends and I would go to the pub and smoke while having a drink, we could also debate for ages about what the best brand of cigarettes were or if straights are better than rollies etc. Another thing I liked about smoking was that it gave me something to do if I was waiting around or if I was bored.

However, the list of cons is longer for me than the list of pros is. While it gave me something to do if I was bored, I found as I was trying to quit that doing things like walking into town while listening to music very difficult without having a cigarette in my hand. I also found that my breath and clothes would absolutely stink of smoke which made me quite self-conscious about what people might think about me. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times but the cost of smoking really had an impact on me; as an 18 year old, I couldn’t really afford to be spending £8 a day on cigarettes. There was also my health to take into account – not everyone who smokes is going to get cancer, but do I really want to risk it? It had an effect on my breathing and I was developing a nasty cough because of it. While there were pros to smoking, the cons certainly outweighed them in my opinion.

Nowadays there are so many ways one can go about quitting smoking. The first bit of advice I’d give to someone trying to quit though is to ask yourself if you’re 100% ready to quit, you have to be determined otherwise you’ll end up back to square one. I found a good way to find out if you’re ready to quit is to write down the pros and cons of smoking for you personally, if there’s more cons than pros, you’re ready. I also used an app on my phone to help keep track of how I was doing; there are loads of apps out there for Android, iOS, Windows etc. but the best one for me was *Smoke Free. Some people suggested to me that I should give e-cigarettes a go but since I wanted to break the habit completely I went with nicotine patches instead. There’s also nicotine gum and tablets available on the market if the patches don’t sound so appealing to you. For those of you in the UK, the NHS has *Stop Smoking Services that can be used to help quit and you can also get a *free stop smoking kit.

Everyone is different; some people like smoking and don’t think of giving up, but there’s also people who tire of it and decide they want to pack it in, it’s up to each individual to decide what they want to do. For those of you reading this that want to quit, I hope you’ve found what I’ve had to say useful, and in general I’d like to thank you for reading what I have to say regardless of if you’re a smoker or not.

Resources:
Free Stop Smoking Kit

Smoke Free App (Android)

NHS Stop Smoking Services

Nicotine Patches

My Experience with Depression

Since October of last year, a lot has changed for me. After ten long years I finally admitted I had a problem that I needed to get help for.

The problem was that I kept having break downs, I wasn’t eating, I was barely sleeping at night but sleeping throughout the day, I became very reclusive, I had no motivation to do anything, constantly worrying and over thinking about things, feeling down a lot of the time, as time went on it got to the point where I was putting my life at risk. I could be here all day listing all the problems that I had. After years of experiencing this, all it took was one little breakdown before college for me to finally seek help for these problems that I was having.

My mum booked me a doctor’s appointment and I went down there with my aunt and uncle. I was worried because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had been to the doctor’s a year before but he was no use, but this time I was seeing a different doctor. When I met the doctor, she was really nice and I basically told her all the problems I’d been having and where I think they might’ve stemmed from. A few weeks went by, I had to have a blood test to see if there were any underlining problems, which there wasn’t. The doctor diagnosed me with depression, prescribed me 20mg of fluoxetine and recommended I give bereavement counselling and therapy a go.

The antidepressants had some pretty horrible side effects to them, and after four weeks the doctor upped my dosage to 40mg instead. The severity of someone’s problems doesn’t reflect on their medication dose. There are people out there with moderate/severe depression who are on 20mg, and there are people with mild depression who are on 60mg. It’s just about finding the right amount since everyone is different. For me though, 40mg of fluoxetine has been doing the trick. The tablets don’t make you better overnight, it was a good three or four months before I started to feel the effects, you just have to stick with them.

I gave the bereavement counselling a go. The first few sessions were very hard since I’ve always been a shy person, and my social anxiety certainly wasn’t doing me any favours, especially when the sessions involved me talking for an hour with very little input from the counsellor. The great thing about counselling is that you can talk about anything, literally anything, and the counsellor won’t judge you, they’ll just listen. I’ve been having this bereavement counselling since early November, but recently the counsellor told me he doesn’t think I need him anymore since the chats about bereavement ended months ago. So in a couple of weeks’ time, I will be having my final (hopefully) bereavement counselling session.

A couple of months after that doctor’s appointment, I had my first therapy session. I’m still currently doing the CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and it’s been a big help. I’ve been stuck in my own little ways for so long; the therapy is helping me see things from different perspectives. Just because I think I’ve done something wrong, or I think someone thinks negatively of me etc. doesn’t actually mean it’s true. I’m not sure how many more sessions I’ll be having, but already it’s been a massive help.

Like I said, a lot has changed. I dropped out of college because it was making me miserable and it wasn’t something that I thought would benefit me. However, I’ve packed in smoking, been smoke free for six months. I’ve been going out a lot more, feeling optimistic about the future. I’ve put on weight (it’s a good thing, but I’m gonna need to buy more trousers). I’m passionate about the things I love again. I had my first job interview a few weeks back, and it went well. I’ve also been doing things such as donating blood, I also plan on spending my first few pay checks doing charitable stuff like helping dog rescue centres (buying food, toys, blankets etc. for the dogs), buying toys to give to children’s hospitals and hospices, I want to do something to help cancer patients and the homeless as well but I’m not entirely sure how to go about that yet.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been easy getting to where I am now. They say things have to get worse before they get better, and that’s certainly been the case with me these last seven months or so. At the start I was very impatient; I didn’t feel like anything was changing which led me to doing some stupid things. I began drinking in my room almost every day for a good month; I’d even attempted to hang myself a couple of times. I didn’t feel as though anything was going to change. Luckily, I overcame all this and a short time later I started to feel better.

I’m still on the medication, and I still have regular doctor’s appointments but I feel like a completely different person now. Things are definitely looking up for me but as I’m not Superman though, I haven’t been able to do all of this by myself. I’ve received a lot of support from my family, my friends (mostly), and from the professionals that have been treating me.

The reason why I wanted to post this is because for those people reading this who are going through a similar situation to me, I wanted to say that things do get better. For those people on here who feel they may have a problem, while it feels scary, the best thing to do is seek help. Stuff like this doesn’t go away, as I learnt, it only gets worse over time. Life may seem hopeless, but things can change for the better, there are loads of services available for helping people like myself. I can’t speak for anywhere else, but in the UK, all the help I’ve received has come from the NHS.

If you’ve got to this part, I’m assuming you’ve been reading along. I know this has been quite a long read, but I’m hoping it’ll be some use to someone on here.