Rules of Engagement: What they don’t tell you in the bridal magazines.

Growing up I had an unreal expectation about getting married. I always thought that when the time comes I would be an expert on what I wanted and that it would all come together perfectly. Well, I had been planning it in my head for years. And then I got engaged!

Don’t get me wrong, the buzz of the celebrations and excitement of finally talking about my dream wedding had me on a high for weeks. Straight away I asked those closest to me to be bridesmaids, sending each other ideas from Pinterest became our main method of communicating. But then the well wishes faded and reality hit.

From the moment that ring went on my finger people asked, “have you a date set yet” and twenty other questions. Thinking about venues, guest list, dresses, bands, photographers, makeup, hair, invitations and table plans consumed me. Now, planning a wedding is difficult at the best of times, but when you are a final year student the added stress just makes the fairy tale image disappear. Important moments that I had dreamed off my whole life were over-shadowed by deadlines. My employer assuming that because I was getting married I would need more hours. And at first, this was my belief too. But after a few weeks of burning myself out I had to put an end to that too. And that’s when another stress factor appeared, money.

How do you pay deposits for venues, bands, photographers etc on a part-time wage? It seemed impossible. It finally got to the stage where I didn’t even want to talk about the wedding. I lay at night thinking about money, deadlines, dresses and 100 other things. It became overwhelming and was affecting my state of mind and mood. The one moment in my life that I had dreamed about since I was a little girl was ruined. I became irritable, emotional and lashed out at those close to me. I even blamed my other half for being selfish and asking me to marry him just because his life and career was stable. Even though deep down I wanted nothing more than to be married (and was probably hinting about it for months).
Then it hit me, this expectation us girls have of the perfect day from magazines and films is unrealistic. Anything worth having isn’t easy, just like a university degree. From talking to other people about their wedding planning, I know now I’m not alone in these thoughts and feelings and understand that nothing in life is perfect, especially not people. So now I have taken the pressure of myself and am enjoying being engaged. What is the point in stressing about the best day of your life, enjoy the moment.


Lisa Corrigan is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Facebook  

Dealing with depression and anxiety-A letter to someone who “worries about nothing”.

I was overwhelmed and blown away by your honesty and openness when talking about your struggle. I thought I knew you inside and out. Your accounts of your fight to survive triggered a feeling of guilt and shame. Shame that I couldn’t ‘pick up’ on the signs and support you like a best friend should. To me, that day was just like any other, a few laughs and the typical rants about our daily lives. Laughing was far from my mind once you spoke those three little words; “I CAN’T COPE”. Three little words with such significant meaning but that are used so often in everyday life it devalues its meaning.

Once you began to explain how you felt it suddenly all made sense. Your need to be out all the time, wasn’t to do with you ‘having a drinking problem’-it was so you didn’t have to be on your own with your own thoughts. You being late to work every single day wasn’t because you were ‘lazy’ but because you struggled to get any sleep the night before. Why didn’t you talk to me before? Was the only question I could ask out of fear of saying something wrong. Here is when I got a true understanding of why you didn’t want to talk about it before-people just don’t understand or don’t know what to say. They think you are just ‘worrying about nothing’ or ‘you are just stressed out’. Even people normalising depression and anxiety by saying things like, ‘I’m going to take a nervous breakdown’, when something so trivial happens in their lives. I too am guilty of this.

The mental health foundation states that depression is the main mental health problem worldwide, with anxiety disorder close behind. This asks an important question- why is depression and anxiety still so stigmatised? Why do people feel ashamed to talk about their mental health? The way we pre-judge others and your daily struggle with depression and anxiety inspired me to do this blog. In the hopes to inform others of the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety and not to judge people based on these symptoms.

AWARE states that the main symptoms of depression are;
• Loss of confidence and low self-esteem
• Tiredness and lethargic
• An unusually sad mood
• Difficulty sleeping
• Loss in appetite or eating more
• Feelings of guilt
• Wishing you were dead

AWARE is a fantastic charity that focuses on depression and is Northern Irelands only charity to do so. It offers support groups where you can talk to people who know exactly how you are feeling. It also allows for your family and friends to get a better understanding of depression, so we can support you like we should through your daily life.

To get more information on the signs and symptoms of depression and where to access AWARE’s services visit:

If you could do one thing in life, be kind, you just never know what other people are going through.

Lisa Corrigan is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Facebook  

‘Twas the week before Christmas.

The run up to Christmas is a funny thing. People complain about how early Christmas adverts appear on TV and how shops are already selling Christmas stock straight after Halloween. But Christmas day still manages to creep up on you suddenly. Through my years working in retail I have concluded that there are two types of Christmas shoppers; 1) Those who remain calm and finish shopping weeks in advance. 2) Those who leave it to the last minute and panic buy. Which one are you? If like me, you are the latter then you will understand the sheer panic and chaos that occurs the week before Christmas. It is now just over a week before Christmas day and I haven’t bought as much as a card. The dread I have knowing I only have one available day, ONE, to buy all my loved ones the perfect gift.

So, what are the things that make you and I dread the thought of shopping a week before Christmas? Well first of all the crowds, the dreaded crowds. Shopping at the best of times is enough to drive the calmest of people up the walls. Add in Christmas and panic buying and it’s a recipe for disaster. People rushing to get the last descent items on the shelves with no regard for the other poor souls standing in their way. That brings me to the second most dreaded aspect, stock. All that is left is stock that no one would want to buy. The usual gift and novelty sets that sit out the back in warehouses and are only used to fill the shelves. Trust me I know from experience! And where are all the good offers? You see, it is my belief that organisations know about us panic buyers and use this to their advantage. They know that at some point we silly fools need to buy gifts for our loved ones and here is when they put their items back up to full price. Why can’t black Friday be everyday in the run up to Christmas?

As I am some what of a pro of last minute Christmas shopping I have complied a list of my top 3 tips that makes the process a little less stressful-if that’s even possible.
1. Lists, lists and more lists.A5
Before stepping foot into a store, I do a search of their website to see what they have to offer. Then after selecting the gift I check to make sure it is still in stock. This process might take a while though as most items are out of stock, so allow yourself plenty of time to do your research. And don’t forget to pick backups in case your item is out of stock by the time you go to the store. Then and only then will I begin my shopping.

2. Be practical
I know most people like to go shopping and make a day of it, go for lunch maybe a drink or two. And that’s fine, but remember to always dress appropriately. Don’t wear your finest high heeled boots-think comfort. Panic buying is essentially a sport and you wouldn’t turn up at the tracks in boots, skirts and form fitting trousers would you? Oh and the heat. You wrap yourself up in layers of material, scarves, hats and gloves only to walk into a store and BAM, 50-degree heat smacks you right in the face. This makes for uncomfortable shopping and angry, fed up shoppers. Not a good combination.

3. Take in reinforcements
Having an extra pair of eyes (and hands) can make all the difference. I usually take my mum with me who comes in handy for my indecisive moments. Mums always have the best advice, right?

And done! You can then come home, put your feet up and wait for grateful faces of those close to you as they open their presents. Oh, and swear that next year you will be more prepared and start your shopping in October. Never happens! Only 365 days left until the next panic buying. Now pass me a mulled wine…..


Lisa Corrigan is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Facebook