I’ve debated writing this so many times. Not just in light of recent events that I’ll get into, but on more than one occasion. I’m not famous, I barely have a platform but I have this blog. I started writing this blog in the hope that by talking about topics others were afraid to speak about, I’d be able to bring light to things and let people know they’re not alone. All the times I’ve written about Mental Health it’s come from a place of understanding whereas in regards to Black Lives Matter, I’ve never had to face the prejudice, fear and racism. However I saw a beautiful photo yesterday that said “I understand that I will never understand, but I stand with you.”
With that I knew that despite the fact that I am just a little voice, I have one and it is powerful. If millions of little voices spoke up we’d make a difference. What good is a blog and a voice if it’s not used to speak out and talk about what’s right. So today I want to speak out and you should too.
So I’ve a bit of a fascination with researching crimes because I’m a massive weirdo so I went home and looked at the Wikipedia article about the murder. It was awful; I remember feeling so sad and uncomfortable reading about it. But Wikipedia articles are long and at 13/14 I was lazy. These days I could read for hours and even the most useless pieces of knowledge I need to know everything about but I was different then. So I say this because after reading about the crime I presumed the murderers - Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam would have never gotten away with a crime that was so obviously them. So I wrote down my answer to the “what happened to the people accused with his murder?” question as something along the lines of “they were found innocent” and then waited for the next lesson. So luckily being shy in school, when the teacher was asking about our answers to the questions I didn’t put my hand up when that specific question came up. Someone answered “they were found not guilty” and the teacher replied “correct”... Excuse me what?! I was so baffled. How were they found not guilty?! But I was definitely listening by this point. This is where our history lessons began about the Civil Rights Movement. The Movement began with Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white male. It is said that this remarkable woman thought of Emmett Till - the young boy who was so severely beaten and murdered in the most horrendous way, who’s killers had walked free. I assume you know a bit about this crime but if you don’t I’ll give you a brief overview but urge you to watch this video which goes into incredible detail (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j40ZhQJjA1k). If you want to claim that this is all history and not read it then you can take your ignorance elsewhere because this story is extremely relevant.
Emmett Till was a young boy, aged 14 who was staying in the South of America with his uncle and cousins in the Summer of 1955. A woman called Carolyn Bryant who owned a store alleged that Emmett had flirted with her (a statement she later admitted was a lie). This resulted in her husband Roy and his half brother finding and murdering this boy because he was black. It was not deemed acceptable for black men to flirt with white women but this was a child. They murdered a child. They were then acquitted by an all white jury. Emmett Till’s Mother Mamie made the incredibly strong decision to have an open casket Funeral because she wanted everyone to see what they’d done to her baby. The photos of Till are very easily accessible online and those photos alone were enough to ignite a fire in me 60 years later! Those photos that were plastered on News Articles helped Rosa Parks make a decision that helped start The Civil Rights Movement.
I was fascinated with this and I mean fascinated. But I think I still believed this was a thing of the past, in my head it was always that I was horrified about what Black people had GONE through, not what they were still GOING through.
I’ve always felt like I have no right to speak on such matters, not because of a way I’ve been made to feel but because I don’t personally the effects of racism. I’ve educated myself and I want to do more to help but what could I do? But then last week happened. Interestingly enough, the video I linked above about Emmett Till was uploaded and as I’m already subscribed I was so happy to see one of the true crime Youtubers talking about this crime. I listened to the video on one of my walks and I came back and asked my boyfriend if he’d ever heard about it. He hadn’t! I guess some schools didn’t teach Emmett’s story so I told him about it. It was only two days later I woke up to see influencers posting about George Floyd. I went and found the video and my heart broke. How could this happen again?! Why is this happening? I don’t understand the hatred. I was transported back to those Film Studies lessons when we learnt about Rodney King and was so hurt this was happening again, but worse. This video is of a man being murdered, and he’s being murdered and treated differently because of his skin colour. I’ve seen it before, I’ve seen people getting violent in public and being calmly arrested so why was this man killed like this. I couldn’t stop thinking about him and every day since I’ve seen this video, he’s been on my mind.
So then we get the ‘this is America’s problem’. NO IT IS NOT. This is all of us against the Racists. Just because you’ve not necessarily seen racism happen in this country does not mean it’s not happening. I’ve seen it, and I can assure you its happening. What angers me so much about people acting like this isn’t Britain’s problem is it’s white people saying it, you have no idea what it’s like to face racism, I myself have no idea but you only need to listen to stories and have respect for others to realise this is happening everywhere. So why did I bring up Emmett Till? Because nothing’s really changed!!! There are so many white people that know racism is wrong and wouldn’t dare be racist. They treat everyone as equal. But there are also still so many white people that are racist - just like in 1955. I wanted to speak about this last year, in a time when I felt nobody would read it and maybe I didn’t understand enough to speak about it. But then George Floyd was murdered and things changed. I see nothing but people speaking out about this, even Disney! And I want to be part of it. If there is one good thing that can come from this crime it’s the hope that people will start to demand change.
The prejudice in this world, still - is revolting. It’s scary. Women are still looked down on for being women, teenagers are still attacked for being gay and boys are still murdered for being black and we are not doing enough about it. When Pride is celebrated, people would rather moan about it instead of looking into why we celebrate Pride and what it represents. When a Feminist tries to explain her opinion, Men will laugh and think feminism is about wanting Santa to be a Woman or something absolutely ridiculous. When people protest about Black Lives Matter, people would rather say ‘well all lives matter.’ AND, I’VE HAD ENOUGH.
I’ve had enough of the ignorance. If you offend someone, you apologise, if someone identifies differently and you don’t understand it, have some bloody respect and do your research. It seems we’d rather moan about things instead of trying to understand it and when it comes to racism I can’t believe that people still don’t realise how disgraceful, vile and sickening it is that you think you’re better because you’re white.
So as the phrase that inspired me to write this today says, “I understand that I’ll never understand” and for that I am sorry. I’m struggling to find the right words to say because nobody should ever suffer that level of vile that is racism. I’m sorry that you’ve suffered for so long and that you go through something that is degraded. I’m sorry I was ever ignorant and if I ever said anything without thinking it through, like complaining I’m “too pale”, I’m so so sorry for that.
But “I stand with you”. I will support you, I will listen to you, I will educate myself continuously and I will speak out. When I have children one day I will educate them and make sure that they are raised to understand Black Lives Matter. All voices should be used to speak up about what’s right because you never know how powerful your voice can be.
I only hope that this makes some kind of impact.
HAVE COURAGE AND BE KIND. DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
I’m not sure I ever imagined I’d be writing a blog post like this, it’s definitely one of the weirdest pieces I’ve ever written. But since going into Lockdown I’ve really wanted to write something for people that are really struggling with their Mental Health. At this point we are almost three weeks in and a lot of people are at their all time low. I’ve always written blog posts in the hope that they help others - I had a fairly difficult time finding the motivation to do them towards the back end of last year and the beginning of this year because I was dealing with my own personal issues. But as someone who’s dealt with Mental Illness for a while and was extremely anxious going into this Lockdown, due to worries of a relapse, I feel like writing this might do me a world of good also.
I feel I should note that at the end of the day - I am just a human being who is going through all the same stuff everyone else is. I’m not a doctor, I’m not an expert, I know very little about this virus and how long it’ll last. But I know a whole lot about Mental Health and I’ve done a good few years of trying to cope and manage. I can try and offer advice where is possible and hopefully I can help someone.
EATING DISORDERS AND BODY DYSMORHIA
I see girls who obviously look beautiful sharing posts like ‘I’m putting so much weight on during lockdown’ and then a few minutes later they’re uploading photos and they’re probably still smaller than me and absolutely stunning. People are sharing their at home workouts and that makes you feel bad because maybe you’ve had an entire tub of ice cream that day. I know there’s nothing malicious in that but dealing with Eating Disorder recovery and seeing those sort of posts can be extremely damaging. I’ve always posted a lot, I’ve spoken about this on a few occasions, it’s often about validation and other times it’s about feeling good and wanting to share a picture or a post. This isn’t about trying to make people feel bad for posting photos - you shouldn’t ever feel bad for that. However for the people that have had a long history of Body Image struggle and Eating Disorders you also shouldn’t feel like you’re in the wrong for comparing yourself to others at this point, because times are hard and it can be easy to fall back into these habits. BUT for all the beautiful people that are doing this, here’s what I’ve learnt in my eight years of dealing with this. You are you and you is enough - comparison is a thief of joy. When I post a photo I’ve never once thought about how someone might want to look like me (I’m not sure why anyone would) but there might be. For some reason we’ve always struggled to see ourselves in the way our friends and family do and there is sadly nothing I can do to get through to my friends let alone myself but I do know that food could never hurt you as much as an Eating Disorder will. There was a point in which I managed recovery quite badly. I started going to the gym and working out at home, I ate good foods but I did constantly check scales. I logged my meals which wasn’t particularly bad and can help you to eat well. But if the app told me I’d eaten too much salt or gone over my expected calories for the day I’d beat myself up and not eat again. After I wrote my blog post on the matter I stopped doing that. So now I still eat fairly well but I also have a lot of chocolate and cheese and that’s okay! You are allowed to do that, of course eating lots of unhealthy, fatty foods isn’t ideal and it’s unlikely to make you feel good but we all have times when we do that. I still have days in which I don’t feel good enough or like I’m packing on weight and that makes me feel down. But I feel sorry for myself for a bit, talk to someone and then the next day I start again. There are an incredible amount of fun workout videos on YouTube, whether it’s high intensity or low intensity and they’ll hopefully bring you a bit of fun and make you feel good. But if you don’t want to workout then stuff it, you don’t have too! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for that, you’re beautiful the way you are and there a whole lot of people that think that of you even if you don’t. I can safely say I’ve not worked out once since going into lockdown, I’ve not eaten particularly badly but I’ve been having lots of fun eating pizza with a can of coke and watching good films. I know this is hard for anyone dealing with this and I ask that people think more sensitively in lockdown before they post a photo of themselves with a ridiculous caption of a pig emoji or something. We are all beautiful and need to look after each other. But hopefully a good majority of you are in lockdown with a loving support system who you can always talk too if you’re feeling like relapsing. If not then I mean this with all my heart that I will do my absolute best to help where I can. If you are currently suffering with Anorexia or Bulimia then I am so so sorry. I want you to know that I was you at one point and things got better. I know they seem like they never will and especially with being stuck inside. But with help they will. No weight loss ever felt as good as not staring at scales does. I still struggle from time to time but I haven’t made myself sick in two years and each day I get healthier and stronger. Even in this Lockdown I haven’t thought about going back to that point. There are so many people out there who will speak to you throughout this, I will link some of them here:
I absolutely hate writing about Depression because I wouldn’t wish this illness on my worst enemy. As horrific as dealing with an Eating Disorder is a lot of the feelings I remember of that time were those of depression and worthlessness. However when I’ve spoken to people about this Lockdown the fear of relapsing into depression has been the thing the majority of people have feared the most. With depression, once you’re suffering you’re stuck - it’s so hard trying to pull anyone out of a low like that. It is even worse knowing that you’re going through it and putting your loved ones through it with you, but you can’t pull yourself out of it. I put a lot of people through Hell with this illness and I’m lucky that I’ve still kept all those friends because I was a nightmare. I’ve never gone back into a low like it quite like I did when I was seventeen but I did have a bit of a hard time last year when I wasn’t a particularly nice person to be around, however it didn’t last the way it did a few years ago. Now I know what a lot of people are going through, the anxiety of the unknown can cause awful depression and fearing for loved ones. I can’t even imagine what the people who have a loved one with this horrible illness are going through and I only wish I could find the words to help you. People are devastated and people are broken. I know when I was going through the worst of my depression having something like Rugby to go too was a life saver, it gave me something to look forward too. People don’t have the escapism of sport at the moment which people may not understand saves lives. When I’ve gone through heartbreaks such as losing people, having friends that take me out and keep me distracted has kept me going and once again people aren’t able to do that at this moment and that is so upsetting. I know that so many of you are apart from your loved ones and whilst I’m extremely lucky to be living with my boyfriend, I’m extremely close to my family and being apart from them is so hard. I’m not about to undermine your sadness with a ‘at least you have face time’ and all that crap because I completely understand that it’s not the same as being able to cuddle someone you love. However my family and I set aside time on Sunday in which we have a long FaceTime call and it’s absolutely the best bit of the week. It gives me something to look forward too and we still get to laugh and be together even when we are apart. I think it’s important to have those things to look forward too and I know it’s not the same but please try to think that by being apart you are keeping others safe and you should feel extremely proud of that. Look forward to that day that the pubs are open and the sport is back and just think how incredible it’s going to be. The communities celebrating and your loved ones finally being safe. There isn’t a cure for depression and I know it’s an awful thing to manage but we are quite literally all in this together and so being kind to each other can do a world of good. Every storm that comes also comes to an end and there is going to be an ending to this awful time but for now please keep in mind the good you’re doing by staying in and keeping people safe. Absence does in fact make the heart grow fonder and so many people are going to be excited to see you and counting down the days till they can. I don’t want to sound condescending and I know there’s only so much that can be said but a permanent solution to a temporary problem is never the answer so please I beg you if you ever feel that way, speak to someone, speak to me. But know that you’re strong and you will get through this, we all will.
It’s okay to feel anxious in all of this, I mean this isn’t a situation people could have ever envisioned and therefore planned for. I’ve seen the jokes but It really is like an episode of Black Mirror and all this fear will be causing people a lot of stress. At this point, as I always do with anxiety I can only recommend that we take it one day at a time. All of this situation is beyond our control but even when the lockdown first started I imagined it would be a lot worse than it has been so far. I had images of police patrolling the street and me going absolutely insane whereas the reality is I’ve relaxed, read books, watched a lot of Disney films and taken a lot of time to look after my skin and me in general. To some it may be a lot worse than you imagined and I’m so sorry that you’re struggling, but every day we are another day closer to this being over and hopefully the worst of the situation is over if not soon to be over. The NHS are out here doing an incredible job and I have every faith that they will take care of our loved ones if the worst happens but think with the lockdown we are doing a world of good for so many people’s health. I know I’ve already said that over and over again but I just want to keep reiterating it so people know they’re doing an amazing job. My Nana is over 80 and extremely vulnerable, she was in hospital over Christmas with a chest infection that we were worried would become worse - however she recovered just like she’s recovered from cancer, a stroke and an aneurism surgery. She ended up in hospital the other day and my anxiety was awful as I felt like all my fears were coming true. However she’s doing lots better and is back home now, I still worry about her as I worry about all my family but at the end of the day I know I’m doing everything I can for her by staying home and I have faith she is strong. I know that anxiety is horrendous and everyone is dealing with it in their different ways but you are not alone. So many of us are going through this and right now all we can do is be here for each other and look after each other the best we can.
STAYING HOME AND GENERAL ADVICE
So finally I just want to make a couple of points and the main one is of course that I beg you to stay home. I’ve seen people use the excuse of their mental health as a reason to still go out and quite frankly it’s pissing me right off. As someone who’s dealt with Mental Illness for a very long time, I’m absolutely furious that you’re using that as an excuse to be selfish. Yes I’m anxious about being stuck in and yes I’m scared I might relapse into a depression or my ED but the thought of making someone else ill is what scares me most. So many people are separated from their loved ones right now and suffering with poor mental health because of it and yet they’re listening to advice and doing the right thing. My sister is currently in a different country to her husband, he is on his own completely and she has two children, and yet both of them are following the rules. Yes this is an extremely damaging situation for your Mental Health and nobody is ever going to dispute that. However the lives of the old and vulnerable are just as important as yours and you should be doing what you can to keep each other safe. If you are struggling please don’t go out, speak to someone. If you take advantage of your rights it only means that more people will die and this lockdown will go on longer. I don’t mean to scare people with that but sadly it is the truth. Do better okay, if you’re feeling down and desperate to see your friends think of alternative methods. My group of friends have Skype calls and have even done a quiz just to keep in contact, I haven’t done it yet as I’ve been sucked into Disney+ but I know it’s been keeping them smiling and it’s so easy to do this with Skype and House Party.
As someone that’s actually isolated with their boyfriend I felt slightly hypocritical saying I understood so I asked one of my friends if she could offer some advice as she’s apart from her boyfriend of 4 years. She said something that I founds so positive and wanted to include. She said that she found that trying to see the positives has really helped her throughout all this and trying to relax and do things that normal life might not allow her to do. She also said that “Time is a beautiful thing” and that she’s looking forward to the new appreciation she’ll have for the little things like going to work and having places to go. Finally she said something I loved, which is that when we finally get real life contact, the phones will be put away and we’ll enjoy being in each other’s company. I love that because I had an image of how life will be. It won’t be about posting on social media and taking photos. Twitter will be quiet, Facebook empty and I adore that. We’ll feel so happy that we can go into the shop normally and share meals with our Grandparents. I’m so excited!
I truly hope that the positive thoughts can comfort you in this difficult time. Please take time to do things like read a book, learn new makeup skills, complete that game that work never allows you to play. And when you get bored of this find other things to do. I know it’s easier said than done but I’m here with you trying to find ways to deal with this. And yes some days are going to be harder than others but that’s okay because they won’t last forever. It’s okay to be scared, but it’s not okay to let your mental health deteriorate because that only hurts you. We’re all going to get through this and if you need anything you know my DMs are always open.
Stay safe, wash your hands and as always ‘have courage and be kind’
Alright so I’m tackling this.
I’ve been nervous to write about this for a while as its one of those topics that needs to be done justice.I always worry I won’t be providing people with the facts or enough information, with this being something I’m so passionate about I want to do it right. Every time I open up in a blog post, I work to try and normalise speaking out about Mental Health. The world we live in today is very different to the one some of our family members had to grow up in, a world in which mental health simply wasn’t discussed. If you dared say you were Bipolar it meant you were ‘crazy’. Eating Disorders were often perceived as ‘silly little girls’ who wanted to fit into size 6 jeans. Depression was believed to be cured with the words ‘cheer up’. Our understanding of Mental Health disorders has become much better over time and luckily for me, I live in a world where people are speaking out and see the old assumptions surrounding Mental Health as nothing more than ignorance. However, whilst we are starting to speak out and understand that these problems are part of an awful illness – there is still so much stigma surrounding the topic.
Well, lets just look back at some basic facts in History…Yep you read correctly,I’m that serious about this topic I’m bringing History into it. Joking aside, looking back at the attitudes towards mental health gives us an idea of how the negative attitude towards it started. For hundreds of years Mental Health was deemed punishable. If you admitted to having an illness the best thing that could have happened to you was that you were excluded in society. Things were really so bad that people believed it was sent by God to torture you, and obviously that meant people thought they were allowed to treat you in horrific ways if they believed it was God’s will. So we go back hundreds of years and the Mentally Ill were tortured and murdered. We would hope that this would have stopped by the 1900s right? Wrong. Last Century the Mentally Ill were forced into the absolute horrors of Concentration Camps by Nazis. Even after this the Asylums and ‘institutions’ we hear about in TV were still open as late as the 1980s. So I can assume that the majority of our parents were in their teen years or older in this decade, meaning a lot of them grew up only hearing about the negatives of mental health. Nobody was necessarily told they weren’t allowed to speak, it was just seen as ‘odd’ to do so and people simply didn’t speak about these things. I don’t know for certain of course, but when I asked loved ones they told me these things weren’t discussed and were seen as feelings that would pass. So enough of the History and on to the personal stuff...
So I’ve already spoken about how someone very close to me suffers with a particular Mental Illness and was in and out of hospital with it. When I was little I didn’t quite understand what was going on I was just told they weren’t very well. But I’d go and visit and they weren’t being sick, they didn’t look any different - so what did this mean? How could they be unwell? Well as I got older I started to understand. It’s quite heartbreaking to know someone you adore so much was going through something like that and couldn’t stand to be around you because of it. When this person went into hospital we didn’t really talk about Mental Health, so I think I felt like this was something they could have easily gotten over and there was no need to leave me to stay in hospital for so long... It wasn’t until I started to go through my own issues that I saw it this way.
So this generation is pretty amazing and understanding when I consider past attitudes, but even so there are still a lot of people suffering in silence whether they’re 40 or 14. People are afraid to tell their Parents. Parents are afraid to admit they’re struggling and that is why it’s extremely important that people fight to end this stigma. As I mentioned earlier, Eating Disorders are sometimes perceived as being the sufferers own fault. This is also true when it comes to Alcoholics. I’d like to think a lot of people don’t believe this but it was actually this ignorant opinion which made me blog about my ED in the first place. Being that unhappy with yourself that some would rather die than put on weight is not the choice of anyone. I’ve also witnessed firsthand what losing a loved one to alcohol is like and all I know is that five years ago, this person would have never said they were going to choose to be an alcoholic. I spoke out because I was sick of misconception and unawareness. That is why this topic is so important to me and why we must fight to end the stigma.
Just as an example, I have two very close friends from College that were there at the worst time in my mental health, they went through a lot with me and I’m not sure they completely understood it. They probably felt very frustrated at times and I know they were upset by it because I was different. However these two are still my closest friends to this day because when I am struggling I’m honest with them and they support me. We’ve broken that barrier and it’s normal to talk about now, they might not always know what to say but they listen and they’re there! They don’t make me feel crazy, they understand it’s an illness, they don’t expect me to get over it - they just offer the little things, walks, coffee or a nice message. They make sure I know I’m not alone and likewise. It wasn’t always like this but we’ve made it that way through patience and understanding the illness from two different perspectives. I don’t get angry anymore if they don’t understand; I don’t expect them to constantly message and check on me. I understand that sometimes it’s down to me to speak out. But this is easier for me because I’ve been speaking out for so long - a couple of years ago I would have been terrified at the thought.
What I want you to understand, if you’re going through this and you’re embarrassed to be seen as ‘crazy’, is that you are fighting an illness. You’re a human being and like everyone you’re not perfect - you’re battling something that so many others are going through. You’re not alone, you’re not the odd one out - you’re actually bloody brilliant. Things aren’t going to change overnight. There is still a lot of prejudice in this world, something we can only hope our Children and Grand Children won’t grow up with. We can understand that people grew up in a different time and their opinions haven't changed, we don’t have to agree but the only way we can get them to see things differently is by speaking out and normalising the conversation. Asking someone how they are is a question you should genuinely mean! I saw something online about asking people how they are mentally and how that should be asked more often and I completely agree! Ciaran and I ask this a lot, if we know the other one is overwhelmed with work, deadlines, etc... We ask how they’re doing and we want to know the truth. Lots of people grew up with a negative perception of people who suffer with mental health problems and whilst they may have to accept it as an illness they still see it as strange. Others may not feel they can speak out in fear they’ll be judged. But we’re working on it. So many people will be lucky enough not to suffer with one of these issues and if that’s the case then all we can ask is that you just show understanding. Don’t judge the illness, don’t degrade it, and don’t think less of someone. You have every right to speak to whoever you want but remember 1 in 4 people will suffer and, it could be that cutting a friend off when they’re going through a very difficult time may haunt you later if you start to go through something similar.
My real hopes here are that I’ve been able to do this topic justice and inspire people to help end the stigma. I’ve been able to speak about the history and look in detail at some of the mistreatment I would have got for speaking out 100 years ago! I’ve also been able to speak about my very supportive friends who I haven’t mentioned before but have been here for me through every single one of these blog posts. And I’ve been able to speak about my family and how their attitudes have change over the years too. And as usual Ciaran, who speaks out every single day and inspires me! I’d like to made it clear that so many people who may have been afraid to speak out 10 years ago are starting to see the illness as an illness and are starting to be honest and speak out and that’s incredible! Everyone is working together to end the stigma and it’s so important we keep doing so until the conversation is just normal.
I want to leave a couple of pages here with some brilliant blog posts and ways you can help support and end the stigma.
Thank you so so much for reading. I don’t say this enough but to the people that always read and have followed me on my old Twitter and still carry on reading, it means the world. To my friends who always read - I adore you. I hope one day this can make a difference to strangers and my words can inspire - so knowing this is being shared and read means the absolute world to me.
As always ‘have courage and be kind’ and together we can help end the stigma.
I wish you could see how well you’re doing - I know that everything seems like it’ll never get better right now, but it will.
Everything happens for a reason. The heartbreak, the fall outs, the arguments. Something about each and every down day will make sense. You’re going to make mistakes for the rest of your life and that’s okay. Stop believing that your mistakes make you a terrible person, you’re only human. People will forgive you for your wrongs and you will forgive yourself.
You spend so much time hating yourself and trying to be better for others when you’re so brilliant just the way you are. People love you because of who you are – people are happy in your company. You’re always there to talk to people when they’re down. Your friends don’t hate you, that’s your anxiety shouting at you. You love them and they love you. They protect you, they look after you. Walk away from the people that make you feel bad about yourself, walk away from the people that ruin memories you should cherish, walk away from the people that can’t be happy for your success. Don’t worry about what others think because in the long run, you’ll regret losing the good friends to the bad.
Trust your instinct, he will cheat, he will hurt you, but it’s okay. You will find the strength to walk away. The fact that you were treated in such an awful way does not define you. He cheats because he’s insecure not because you’re not good enough. Don’t go settling because you don’t believe you’re worthy of love. Walk away. ALWAYS Put your family first – the boy you think will be around forever won’t be. Don’t worry, one day you won’t remember his last name, because you’ve found the one. But don’t you dare lose that time you could have had making memories with your Nephews. Don’t pass up the opportunity to shop with your sisters. Stop complaining about your Parents. Every single one of them want the best for you because they adore you. You’re not going to get these days back, spend them with the people that love you and always will.
STOP WITH THE PRESSURE. Don’t listen to your Tutors, University can wait. Make sure this is what you want, get some life experience. Learn to drive, save your money. No exam is worth not eating for. Your grades do not define you, work hard but know that you won’t always pass everything with the best marks. Trust that not all those subjects are important. Your teachers aren’t always right, There are some subjects you’ll never need again. Take subjects and options that are important to you and not ones they convince you are more important. That reminds me, drop Computing immediately.
Stop comparing yourself to other girls. The minute you start this – it won’t end. You are good enough, the way you are is perfect. The figure you make yourself Ill to change is a figure others would love – I know I would now. You’re perfect. Know that people love you for your sense of humour, your compassion, the way you put others first. You know you’d never hurt anyone deliberately and so believe that you are a good person. The people that put you down are going absolutely no where so stop believing their invalid opinions.
Be confident. I know you’ve made a start but take that confidence and times it by 100. Go into every situation with a positive attitude and smile – you’ll thank me for this. Listen to your Mum. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this any further, everything she says is right so stop ignoring her advice.
Cherish those road trips, remember those days at the park talking crap, even laugh at the time your ankle got stuck in the basket swing and you were carried home. Keep listening to music, keep singing. Those songs will take you back one day – to the best days. Draw, just draw. I know you haven’t really thought of doing this yet but just do it, okay! You’ll never know how special those small memories were, you’ll never know how essential those hobbies will become. You’ll never believe how happy you were until it’s all over and those days are gone.
You’ve been stressed your entire life, stop it. Go to the counsellor, go to the doctor. Look after your Mental Health, you’re not crazy; don’t let anyone tell you that you are. These awful experiences you’re going through are happening for a reason – you’ll do a lot of good with them one day, you’ll help others. You’re battling a war every day, you’re fucking brilliant.
Gabi, things are going to get easier and then they’ll get hard again but know that every terrible day you’ve faced up to now you have overcome and you’ll continue to do so. You’re going to travel, you’re going to get on a long haul flight on your own. YEP you fly to America ON YOUR OWN. You’re going to get brilliant grades, you’re going to go on to do a degree you love. You’re going to do some brilliant things and overcome fears you never thought you could. But know, you’re going to get through it.
Lots of love
Two years ago around this time of year, I wrote my first ever blog post related to Mental Health and my absolute pain of a brain. I was that nervous about posting it that I contemplated it for days. I made sure most of my friends were online at the time so they were able to like it immediately. This was in hope that I wasn’t going to feel like everyone was judging or making fun of me. As I always say, I’m not a world famous blogger so I didn’t receive hundreds of likes and comments, but what I did receive was a lot of personal messages and a good amount of likes and shares that I felt like I was meant to be doing this. Sharing my experiences is hard because I know it can be seen as attention seeking or making myself sound like a grade A nutter. I am, however, learning that a lot of people have suffered and felt the same way I do. I’ve received messages thanking me for sharing my stories and people have shared their experiences with me. It’s an amazing feeling to know that your story resonates with so many others and that you’ve made a bit of a difference just through your words. I’ve written about Men’s Mental Health and SAD. But I’ve also been able to write about my Eating Disorder, Depression and Anxiety as personal experiences. Today I want to combine it all, I want to discuss why this one question, I’ve been asking myself for most of my life, has taken so much of my happiness away from me. It’s become the thing my depression, anxiety and eating disorder have all stemmed from. It’s that constant feeling of not being smart enough, pretty enough or funny enough and that constant comparison you have to make. It’s the question of ‘Why am I not good enough?’
I feel like this is one of those topics anyone can relate too and something everyone has asked themselves a few times in their life. This isn’t just for people who’ve struggled with their weight or self image because we aren’t just talking about looks here. We’re talking about all the negative things we think about ourselves that make us feel like we’re unworthy of happiness – whether you’re a boy or girl. I often start my stories at the age of 14/15 because that’s when my Mental Health got particularly bad. But the question of not being good enough actually goes way further back than that. I usually try to keep my blogs as short as I possibly can, but today I want to be as honest and thorough as I can.
From that point I was shy. I stuck to one best friend in High School and anyone else around me I was never completely myself with. I was so scared people would make fun of me if I said anything, so I kept quiet and they couldn’t. I always say I wasn’t bullied but I think it’s because I didn’t give anyone a reason too, I sat away from a lot of people and if I needed to sit with anyone I’d let them copy my work or just do whatever I could to stay in the good books. People were okay with me for the most part and so my confidence grew again by the time I was 13/14. I had a really big group of friends and I was starting to talk a lot more. I was also starting to understand makeup, even if it wasn’t particularly well. I started to feel less ‘ugly’ than I had. Unfortunately as I’ve stated over and over again, 14 started to become a troubled year for me. I’d never had a boyfriend and nobody had ever really fancied me - now before anyone starts with me about letting a boy’s affection define my worth, can we just remember that I was 14 and everyone was getting boyfriends and saying they were in love and I wasn’t! At 14 I felt like I was the most mature person on the planet and we all know I watch Disney films about 100 times a day and all the Princesses were getting married at 16! Jokes aside I was just feeling like nobody really thought I was attractive, I didn’t feel like I took photos like everyone else or I could do my makeup like everyone else. I just sort of felt inferior. It was around this time I started having a bit of trouble with my weight again, someone had made a comment that bothered me so much I was getting scared to go into school again. I knew there was no way I was getting any time off and with Year 10 GCSEs in the winter, I had no time to be avoiding lessons. I didn’t know how to handle my anxiety. All I wanted was to be better. Just good enough for someone, let alone myself. So I started making myself sick again and this time it was in secret and it wasn’t about staying off sick it was about managing my pain and losing weight. I’ve written a blog post about this that you can read here if you want to know more about that battle!
I’m aware this is already so long and I’m sorry - I’m actually writing this at twelve and I have to be up for University in five hours but it’s helping me so we’re going to keep going! So anyway I actually got my first boyfriend shortly after all these issues began. I’m always nervous to write about relationships in case they read these and don’t want to be mentioned or anything similar. But what I can say is that even though I was going through a tough time with my weight, this relationship did make me feel safe. I never really compared myself to anyone because for the first time someone really seemed to like me. This relationship lasted two years and it just phased out like any teen relationship does, but I think the issue is I only felt good enough when I had a boyfriend. Whilst together I wasn’t making myself sick as often, I didn’t pile make up on constantly, I didn’t feel the need to impress anyone. When it was over I felt like I needed someone else or I was nothing. I’d learnt to rely on another person, my worth was based on whether I’d been complimented that day. But the minute it was over all I could think was how could I be good enough if nobody wanted me? What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I loved anymore?
These problems stuck with me through every relationship. Unless I was in one I was nothing. It was made worse by the rise in social media. If people weren’t liking my posts then I wasn’t funny enough, if people weren’t liking my photos then I wasn’t pretty enough, if people didn’t follow me then I wasn’t popular enough. I had it wired in to my brain that my validation came from fake likes and a ‘You’re beautiful text’. Sadly this is still something I’m fighting every day. Counselling helped for a while but whilst we talked about my ED we never really discussed the route of the issue and all the things that he led me to believe I wasn’t enough. I didn’t counsel for long enough either.
Whenever a relationship would end I would feel like I’d be alone forever because who would want me? These are things that if I heard my friends say I’d lose my shit and not stop until they knew how brilliant they were, but not me. My only validation came from likes and compliments. However I started something that I am actually worse with now than I ever was before and that’s getting extremely angry when anyone does try to compliment me. It’s cemented in my brain that I’m awful and so, whenever anyone says any different I get annoyed because they’re ‘lying’. You’ll see it in replies to comments sometimes, if I get a compliment I twist it so it’s about them (something I’m only just realising at this moment that I do.) of course I say thank you and I appreciate the compliments but that doesn’t mean I believe them.
So let’s talk about the reason I’m worse now than I have been for a while and how I’m trying to help myself. This is the part I feel everyone will be able to relate too if you haven’t already and it’s something I’ve only briefly mentioned. I was cheated on and for the longest time I was far too embarrassed to mention it. It seemed like everyone except me knew and I had it in my head that everyone was making fun of me. I ignored all the obvious stuff including constant Snapchats from other girls and I think I tried to be naive to it all because I didn’t need another reason to doubt my worth. The thing is, when someone is looking in your eyes, telling you they love you and they wouldn’t ever hurt you, you’ll believe it because you love them. You have to be ready to leave toxicity, but when you don’t feel like you deserve better this is extremely hard. I’m not just talking about Cheating here either, I’m not going to lie and say this person was constantly cruel because they weren’t but they were incredibly narcissistic and said things that made me feel bad about myself. I’d become so reliant on this person that I didn’t feel like I could leave despite being unhappy. I’d also put on weight and felt like nobody would look twice at me. But then I met someone who helped me see my worth, not because they appreciated me but because I’m actually pretty brilliant. I found courage inside me to leave.
I’m not here to say you need a relationship to feel worth it, I’m discussing my experiences and what helps me. But I also admit I’m still struggling. Some days I force myself to write the things I like about myself, on my bad days I’ll say there is nothing I like about myself. But I’ll be reminded of all the little things I’ve done, like a time I made a good joke or the time I made a difference. These little things help because I’m unable to say I have no good qualities. What I do want you to know is that you are enough. I’m telling you. I don’t care how awful you think you are, you’re not. I know that as someone who is struggling it probably seems as though I have no leg to stand on, I’m going to have to start listening to my own words, but as long as I’m writing about my experiences I refuse to let anyone else believe that they unworthy of love. Spending every day worrying you’re not thin enough, muscly enough, good looking enough, smart enough, funny enough or just plain good enough – It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to deal with. But you’re not alone, everyone has probably dealt with this at some point in their life whether it is through a bad breakup, a low grade or a job rejection, it’s easy to feel like you’re not enough. If anyone saw Jesy Nelson’s documentary recently you may have seen the conversation she had with the counsellor. She was made to see her beauty and brilliance. She was so obviously loved by her family who saw how perfect she was inside and out, as well as her boyfriend. Even though she struggles with not loving herself, she is loved and shown all the wonderful things about her. You may not feel like you’re anything like her because you aren’t famous or you’re not in a relationship. You may not have hundreds of friends or a huge family to tell you you’re special but we’re all human. You are you and you are perfect.
I feel like this was a particularly long post and I still have so much to say. I wish I could end this post with a comment about how much better I am and how I don’t compare myself to anyone because I know I’m special. But I can’t – like everyone else I am learning to deal with this. But I’m definitely doing a lot of reading about what I’m going through as well as speaking out about my feelings. I’m beginning to see that this is part of being ill and it’s not my fault I’m dealing with this. Just like it wasn’t my fault I was cheated on, or it wasn’t my fault I was so desperate to be liked or it isn’t my fault I’m struggling. It’s not your fault either; you’re pretty damn special if you’re coping with something as horrific as a battle with your own brain. As always my messages are open to anyone who wants to talk, I just hope whoever needs to hear this knows that you are incredibly brilliant and whoever you are, that is enough.
As always, have courage and be kind.
Before I start, this is a lot more personal to my feelings than some of my previous posts have been. But I also feel as though a lot of people will be able to relate. Depression, Anxiety and an Eating Disorder are things I’m learning to live with and recover from. I’ll have good days and bad days but like any other illness I think it’s important to talk about it. I started blogging about Mental Health when I finished counselling, it was a way of still talking about it but my friend and family were able to read about how I’d been feeling. When I noticed others had been reading and relating I felt proud. I wanted to keep writing and speaking out loud so others knew they could do too. Reading blogs and watching videos about peoples recovery made me feel as though I wasn’t alone, because I'm not. However talking about the courage to get help seemed like a blog post in itself, and that's what I wanted to write about today. So this post is about speaking out and recovery and being able to speak out during that recovery.
Remember that help is always out there and it’s OKAY to tell people you’re not well.
I’m not well, but that’s okay because with the right help I will be. Five years ago I would have never had said that – I felt hopeless and like no matter what I did I’d be stuck in that place. Sometimes I go back to that place and have some pretty crappy days. But nobody would know that... I recently sent one of my friends a message. I asked if she minded listening to me, not necessarily for advice, but so I could talk to someone. I told her everything I’d been feeling and going through recently. She told me that she genuinely wouldn’t have had any idea because on social media I looked so happy. I’ve obviously made it very clear that I’ve had my issues throughout the last few years. But sometimes people think I’m doing well on days I’m doing terribly, because I’ll write a sarcastic tweet or post a photo of me smiling. I’m fairly good at telling the people I care most about when I don’t feel great but sometimes I lie and pretend everything is fine.
This is one of the issues; a lot of people do suffer in silence because friends don’t think to ask if they’re doing okay because they 'seem fine'. That doesn’t mean their loved ones are in the wrong, it’s just a matter of fact unfortunately. I always bring it back to the fact that you never have any idea what someone is going through. So your ‘banter’, might not be that harmless when someone is at their breaking point. I see people share their opinion online or make harmless comments about sport and someone chooses to respond with something personal and nasty. I could rant about this all day but here is the point I’m trying to make... If you choose to write something personal about someone, making fun of their appearance, opinion, etc... and you post that to your hundreds of followers and they like it and join in with the hatred. You may have just pushed someone to a really low point, this doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to disagree or respond but there is no need to make that response so cruel. This comes in to play when people talk about their Mental Health online or advocate for it. If you reply calling that person an ‘attention seeker’ or bring up ‘this one time when *insert person* said something wrong’ as a way of trying to disregard the advocating they do for Mental Health now, you may be adding to the reason people don't feel confident enough to speak out.
This year I’ve done great things, I’ve been to Disneyland Paris, Miami and Barcelona. I’ve been to more gigs than I could count, and I even got to watch my beloved Wigan at The Nou Camp. I won’t deny that on the photos of me in those places I am smiling, I look happy - I was extremely happy. These memories are ones that stick with me forever...
But what those photos don’t show is the girl with body dysphoria, she had to take 100 photos prior, getting increasingly more upset that she’s ‘put on weight’. The girl who still checks the scales every day. The girl who’s still battling the thoughts of her Eating Disorder because it doesn’t go away. People just think it’s gone and I don’t struggle with it anymore... I do.
You don’t see the girl who sometimes feels out of place in a big group, that sometimes feels like she should stay in or away because nobody likes her, that her laugh is annoying, her voice, her presence. The anxiety that nobody wants you around. I have great friendships, how could I POSSIBLY have Anxiety?
You don’t see the way social media can affect me when things turn personal, when sly comments are made, when I feel like I’m stuck in a toxic high school environment that makes me scared to even be on it.
Recovery is hard and I think because for a long time I looked great people didn’t realise I was battling my Mental Health every day.
I didn’t speak out about it but I am now because that’s okay.
In a world where your appearance is mocked all over Social Media and Instagram influencers are more popular than ever, it is easy to fall back into relapsing behaviours. When I started University I had to quit my job and could no longer afford the gym. With the money I do have having gone into holidays and tons of unsuccessful interviews I fell out of my routine. I was no longer able to buy the healthier foods I’d been getting and couldn’t go to the gym anymore. I wasn’t able to exercise as often because I had one week animation projects that meant I was working until 9pm most days, and then up again at 5am the next day. I put a bit of weight on again. But having seen how healthy and good I looked last year I took it harder than I ever had before. It was the smallest amount of weight but I notice it every day. You see Eating Disorders they never really go away and living with one is like living with the devil on your shoulder every single day! I changed earlier this year, I was too anxious to take photos because I saw the weight gain, my skin got bad because my diet changed so drastically and so I became too anxious to leave the house. I started living my life on Twitter and finding gratification through likes. I was lucky to have a Boyfriend who pushed me to still do things and a Sister who brought me over to Miami when I was at my lowest. I started getting affected by things online and getting involved in stupid arguments. I got into bed and was shaking most nights and not sleeping till 2/3 because I was so heavily affected by the negativity and the anxiety that everyone hated me... This may sound crazy to you because it really is, but that’s just one of the many negatives of Mental Illness – crazy Gabi just being crazy.
I know how evil an Eating Disorder is and how it destroys your brain, I am so eager to help others struggling with eating disorders not for my own gain but simply because NOBODY deserves to live with that. But trying to help others is sometimes a lot for someone who’s still recovering herself... You see a girl, she seems happy, she has a boyfriend, she has a nice figure... I see a girl that’s not good enough. I am still in recovery and I’m learning to deal with that voice, I know some of my habits are unhealthy and I feel as though I’m strong enough to snap out of them, the people closest to me see that too and they remind me of how far I’ve come. But that doesn’t mean the thoughts aren’t there and the sadness and self hatred isn’t gone. That’s why I speak out; I want to make this normal. I want people to feel as though they can talk about the things they may believe sound crazy. I want people to know they aren’t alone and speak out or get help before it’s too late.
I may see someone who isn’t good enough. But I also see someone who is strong, someone who spoke up and someone who wants to help others with her words.
People live forever with a physical illness or injury. They know when to take their medicine, they know what to do if that injury flares up, they take time to take care and mend said injury/illness.
Now people like me, we live forever with mental illness. Sometimes we have to take medicine ourselves, we need rest and time alone often. We may not be showing any physical signs of illness - we may not make ourselves sick, we might not be having a panic attack at that moment and we may not be harming ourselves. But our brain may be fighting those urges because it is still healing.
So I ask, why is it okay for someone with a physical illness to talk about being unwell? But when people want to speak out and say they don’t feel well because they’re suffering from a a mental illness it’s still seen as not real.
Well I’m speaking about it now, I’m not making myself sick anymore, I can manage my panic attacks fairly well and I don’t ever hurt myself. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel those feelings of sadness, loneliness and panic. I’ve been in a fairly low place for a few month now, which doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed the good days. I have enjoyed the good days because I’m strong and I’m recovering. I'm speaking out because this needs to be seen as normal, people who are going through a rough time can still have good days. Does that mean they're any less sick? of course it doesn't. Just like when you go to work with Flu that doesn't mean you're any less unwell. We need to speak out to break this stigma.
I was lucky enough to be taken seriously when I spoke out and I was put into counselling. But recently I went back to the Doctors and they put me on a waiting list and gave me some tablets, I felt really hurt about not being taken seriously and it became clear to me why so many people don't speak out. So here I am writing a post about why it's so important to speak out because doing so saved my life - but I'm fully aware that Doctors aren't always able to give us the help we urgently need. My messages are open to anyone and I truly mean that. But I am also leaving the numbers of helplines you can ring if you're in need of urgent help or just someone to talk too...
If you click HERE it'll take you to the NHS website in which all the helpful numbers are. People are often too afraid to ring what are perceived as Suicide Helpline numbers,but I can assure you these people are great if you just need someone to listen to you and guide you.
I apologise if this blog post has been scattered, There are a lot of things I wanted to try and get into this post. Writing from personal experience can sometimes lead me off on a tangent. What I want people to know is that help is out there, maybe not in the form of personal counselling but through helplines, blogs and videos. Never stop fighting your battle, don't give in to someone as morbid as Depression or someone as miserable as Anorexia. Keep fighting, keep speaking out, keep getting help and one day you'll win.
I’ve wanted to write about this for the longest time. It is truly something I have always felt needs to be spoken about, but as a young woman i was concerned I wasn’t going to be able to speak well enough on behalf of the men who are struggling. As I write this I’m personally not in the best place mentally, but when I’m at my lowest, uplifting others and trying to make a positive difference is all I want to do. So if I can do just one thing right by speaking from the heart to raise this issue then I am happy. In England alone, 1 in 8 men have a common mental health problem and yet so many of them are suffering in silence... I’ve always hoped writing about Mental Health so openly would be a way of helping to break the stigma, and that’s what I’m hoping to do here! Whilst this topic doesn’t affect me in the obvious way, it does in another. It’s time to break the stigma surrounding Men and their Mental Health.
Boys grow up being told ‘big boys don’t cry’ and then as they grow up they’re told ‘Men don’t cry’. When a man cries they are automatically ‘emasculated’ by other men - they are reduced to the likes of sayings such as ‘don’t be such a girl’ or ‘you’re a baby’ and even sometimes the homophobic slurs. I’m not going to discuss my annoyance and sickness regarding ‘girl’, ‘baby’ or ‘gay’ being used to offend, because that’s another blog post. This is simply a fact, these for some reason are ‘insults’ with negative connotations of weakness for men and it seems to be one of the reasons they’re afraid to show emotion.
I think about all those years this person so close to me suffered the extreme lows. There were days he felt hopeless and like nothing was worth living for, but he kept it quiet! Men feel they’re supposed to be so tough and strong all the time. It has always broken my heart so much, even more so than my own mental health struggles do. Luckily for me, I am growing up in a time where I feel I can confidently write a blog post about my Anxiety or ED, because people seem to have started realising this is an illness. I also feel that as a Woman, I’ve not been looked at or made fun of for being weak or less of a Woman for asking for help - whereas unfortunately some Men still are.
Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 in England and Wales. Please just let that sink in for a second. In a country full of awful car accidents and terminal illnesses that seem to take some many of our loved ones, Suicide is the bigger killer of Men. Your Boyfriend, your Brother or your Best Friend is more likely to take their own life, then any other tragedy. I feel as though this is because so many of them do not feel as though they can find the strength to ask for help. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of amazing men who have spoken up and are still struggling daily because they’ve been put on a wait list - that’s also part of the problem. But I’ve read a few blogs from Men and spoken to many, they always seem to outline the problem as starting with the fact that they struggle to verbalise their personal struggles a lot more than Women seem too.
Before I wrote this, I spoke to my Boyfriend about the topic. He’s had his fair share of Mental Health problems over the last few years - But now he deals with it with so much strength and courage. He was brave enough to ask for help when he was feeling very low, he was brave enough to go to the doctors and he is brave enough to talk about it so openly now - which is one reason I will always be in so much awe of him. But I mention this because he has had his fair share of problems with the social media world. These issues have made him unwell and made his anxiety ten times worse. He’s not someone who becomes bothered by people winding him up or anything of the sort but he is someone who gets very protective of me and protective of his friends. I’ve already shared a lot about him personally, so I won’t go into detail about that, they aren’t my stories to share. But I’m mentioning him because I want to make it clear that Ciaran, my boyfriend, is well and truly through and through ‘a lad’. He’s utterly obsessed with all the stereotypically ‘lad’ things, Football, Rugby, Cars, his mates... but he’s also able to speak openly and say he’s not very well today or he’s feeling anxious. He’s not afraid to show emotion and he wasn’t afraid to ask for help because he knows that being unwell never made him any less of a Man. Obviously I think he’s brilliant because I love him but the reason I tell you all this is because, when I think about all the Men I know who’ve struggled with Mental Health issues, he’s the one that stands out to me because he’s a bit of an inspiration. I wish all of the men being told to ‘man up’ knew it was okay to speak up. like he did.
I’m not someone who’s had to deal with the hardships of everything I’m speaking about. But I am someone who understands Mental Illness and I’m someone that got help. WE NEED to break the stigma surrounding Men’s Mental Health and let them know it’s okay to speak up, because people are taking their own lives. Please ask for help, please don’t suffer alone. And please, to all the Men out there - don’t make each other feel weak for asking for help.
As always ‘have courage and be kind’.
There is a certain irony to me writing this, considering it’ll be posted via the internet and then shared on my social media accounts... However I used to read posts like this a lot and knowing that someone felt the same way was comforting. I write about mental health to normalise it, to stop the stigma. That is why I’ve always been and always will be so open about it, because for goodness sake it is an illness. Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders they are illnesses that I, and a lot of others, are learning to manage - with the right help. Writing about any struggle I've faced has always acted as therapy for me. As I always say, if this helps just one person and someone can relate to it then that is all I could ever hope for.
I’m not sure where to start with this because I’ve been using Social Media since I was a child, this must be where the problem began. I’ve already spoken about the effect it had on my personal body image but the effect it had on me mentally goes a lot deeper than that. I think my addiction to Social Media first started when I first made a Facebook account. For a while it was the only Social Media I had, I don’t really recall what I used to post on there - I mostly remember moaning about School. It wasn’t until I was one or two years in that I first noticed people were being bullied on there. For the longest time people have talked about others behind their backs because nobody really has the guts to be awful to someone’s face. But with Facebook it was so easy to indirectly post about someone. You would log on and see a girl posting a photo and within a minute or two there would be another jealous girl writing a status about her, body shaming and making her feel bad about herself. This was always the case, they never had the 'balls' to tag the girl they were picking on and they most certainly weren't going to say it to her face. This made me incredibly fearful - my anxious little brain has always made me feel like people don’t like me or someone is talking about me (this, by the way, is an awful way to live) and so I stopped posting because I was terrified someone would say something and I’d think it was about me. I sort of gave up posting on Facebook, I was doing the normal healthy thing and going out with my friends, genuinely living in the moment and everything was great. Then along came Twitter and Instagram...
Which brings me on to Twitter, wonderfully toxic Twitter. I first started using Twitter when it was brand new so maybe a year or two after I made a Facebook account. This of course means it was before I started using Instagram but I had to put that paragraph before because I have a lot more to say about this website. I have always used Twitter for Rugby. If you’re reading this you probably know me and therefore know Wigan Rugby is my life. Twitter was used to meet other Wigan fans, to generally talk about Rugby League with people and without a doubt I have met some of the greatest people ever through that site. I was also incredibly amazed when I was younger that all these musicians, bands and actors I liked had Twitter accounts that I could directly reply too! This was a crazy revelation at the time but with this comes nastiness. I recently spoke to three of my closest friends about Twitter, I told them I wanted to give it up because it was making me ill, (something I’ll get into in a minute). None of them have Twitter accounts, they’ve all had them in the past but have stopped using them now - one of them told me he was really put off with the way it was used to hurl abuse at famous people so easily. This is the same for all social media platforms as it’s just as easy to throw abuse on Instagram,but the first time I remember seeing it was Twitter.
I could go on and on about the idiots that seem to get a lot out of throwing abuse at Celebrities on the Internet. But on this post I want to talk about how this has directly affected me and the people I care about.
I hate the person Social Media makes me! Now it's easy to sit there and say, 'well don't go on it' or 'well don't be a bitch on it'. You would be saying the right thing but that's the problem. Social Media is so addictive that we keep getting sucked into the ways of it... In the last few years I stopped arguing with my friends because we're not 16,17,18 anymore and therefore aren't children that argue on the internet. But let me tell you about fan bases and fandoms.
A few weeks ago my Sister, who is also a Wigan fan and with whom I’ve spoken about my issues with social media, posted something. She talked about grown adults that are fans of sports teams, online, who post about mental health then abuse Players, Coaches, Fans and Referees. She made an excellent point and I am seeing this everywhere. Everything seems to be a contradiction - you have girls that like tweets one minute about how bad cheating is and then the next seem to be trying to steal someone’s boyfriend. Or teenagers that use their past experience of bullying for likes then do the same to others. Then we have, as she pointed out, grown men who post about Mental Health but then go on to hurl abuse at other HUMAN BEINGS. This could simply be because their team lost!! I don't doubt for a second that these men probably do have Mental Health issues, like I don't doubt these teenagers have suffered with bullying. I even admit that these girls that are after other people's boyfriends are probably really insecure and unhappy... But none of this is okay!
I've been upset with a score and called someone something in anger, what sports fan hasn't? But with Social Media it seems easier and we get obsessed with trying to be someone we aren't all for validation.
All of this waffle about Twitter is because I need to make it very clear what kind of person Social Media can make people and why it’s affected my mental health so badly. Once again I’ve met some of the greatest people ever through it, I've also seen older men pick on younger girls, I’ve seen people that are able to give but not take and in response to someone get personal. And I can’t go online these days without seeing someone attacking someone’s appearance for no reason! The other day I saw a girl quote a tweet with her opinion, nothing rude - she didn’t need to respond but she obviously felt like she had something to say. The person who wrote the original tweet responded by attacking her appearance. It was so unnecessary but what was worse was that tweet had thousands of likes. Twitter seems to be full of that, it is hilarious at times but generally everything seems so mean on there and you get dragged in to liking it all. With sport it's easy to post things you don't mean because you do get angry at the other fans and the referees and even your own players - I delete stuff at times because I think 'woah that was unnecessary'. It's such a toxic environment and one we all get sucked into because we're addicted. The 'banter' is absolutely fine but the minute it gets personal, that's when you need to take a massive step back and think about why you just said that.
So I’ve gone on for ages and I could keep going. I didn’t even get into the role social media played in my Eating Disorder or the part it plays in the rise of suicides over the last few years. But I’m afraid I’ll lose you... if I’ve not already... if you’re still here than thank you so much for not thinking I’m completely mental.
Just be kind, stop being a massive bellend about everything because you can hide behind a screen - that is the only appropriate ending I have to this post. There is a lot of bad stuff happening in the world right now and a bit of kindness even if it’s on the internet, goes a long way.
Make sure you’re happy in real life and not just on Social Media.
Ps. So sorry I wrote so much, if you read it all I genuinely appreciate it so much <3
We’ve reached the most wonderful time of the year, a time to spend with loved ones, a time to eat excessive amounts of food and a time in which everyone is happy, right?
Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year and it is usually a time of great joy for most people. But what about those who have unfortunately lost a loved one around Christmas or are spending their first December without someone? Or what about those of us suffering with Eating Disorders and Depression? I don’t mean to put a downer on your Festive spirit by any means, in fact this will be my first Christmas in a long time ED free. However Mental Health at Christmas is something I wish more people would understand and that’s why I felt obliged to write about it... or bore you all with another blog post, if that’s how you see it.
Following that Christmas came 2013, I talked about 2013 as a year in my last blog post about Bulimia and so I won’t go into too much detail. But to put it simply I was 15/16 and putting enormous amounts of pressure on myself to do well in my GCSEs. I was either binging and purging or under eating - I struggled quite a lot that year. However in that same blog post I skipped a few months and didn’t go into detail about, how to this day, I still consider the Winter of 2013 to be one of the worst times in my life - particularly Christmas. If by any chance my Sister is reading this I can see her getting frustrated about me saying that, because my Nephew was born in November 2013... It’s not like it was all bad, he was definitely the biggest joy in quite a hard time.
Depression is one of those awful things you can’t really explain, you don’t quite understand it yourself and you’re desperate to ‘snap out of it’ like everyone keeps telling you to. But it doesn’t work like that and it’s hard and so frustrating that some people can’t understand that you’re not choosing to be sad. When I think about THAT Christmas I can just remember feeling alone. It was the first Christmas we spent with my late Great Aunt Nan in which she had just started suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This made it hard to be around her and was something that got harder for the next few Christmases, simply because she wasn’t herself anymore. She passed away this October and even though she wasn’t physically with us on Christmas Day for the last two years, this’ll be out first Christmas without her at all. I’ve got wonderful memories of my Great Aunt at Christmas, she used to bring me brilliant presents and tell us stories about her amazing travels that year. I wasn’t as close with her as my sisters were but spending Christmas without a loved one is hard regardless. Thinking back now, I do genuinely believe this is one of the reasons I struggled so much In 2013. It was becoming apparent that we didn’t have many Christmas Days left with her, but also as she sat there with us, she didn’t say much or tell us too many stories because she couldn’t necessarily remember much... I’d also just gone through my first breakup, which I mean is hilarious now, considering I was 16 and felt like I was suffering the biggest heartbreak ever. But I genuinely was quite heartbroken at the time considering I had spent Christmas 2011 and 2012 with him. I don’t know, it’s really hard to pick what it was that made that Christmas hard, that’s one of the difficult things about this illness because you can’t give a reason as to why you’re depressed but this continued to happen for the next four Christmases.
But, that brings us to Christmas 2018....
I’ve talked about beating my Eating Disorder this year and I’ve discussed how I’m managing my Mental Heath generally. I’m not saying I’m absolutely fine now by any means because I do still struggle with my weight and my insecurity, but this is my first ED free Christmas *pops party popper*.
If you’re suffering this year, I can genuinely say, I know how you feel and I’ve been there and lived it. I know how it feels to sit in a room full of family members and still feel lonely. I know how it feels not wanting to eat a thing, but wanting to eat everything at the same time that you feel disgusted with yourself. I know exactly how it feels to feel empty and hate yourself for it, because “it’s Christmas”. I know how frustrating it is that people can’t understand why you’d be sad when you could just listen to Shakin’ Stevens constantly. I also know the heartbreak of losing a loved one around this time of year and doing Christmas without them for the first time. It’s hard to give advice on this topic because everyone’s Mental Health is so different. I’ve not necessarily had it worse or easier than anyone because we suffer in such different ways. I just ask that you please take it easy on yourself this Christmas - you’re not alone and this does get easier. Four years ago, I couldn’t have seen this far into the future - I probably didn’t think I’d ever have a Bulimia free Christmas. But here I am, genuinely happy, and even on days when I feel I’m putting on weight or getting urges to make myself sick, I wouldn’t dare.
This Christmas is my first unemployed Christmas in three years and that probably sounds terrifying to some people. But being a student and finishing my first semester with three 1sts and a 2:1, being able to have a proper Christmas holiday with my very wonderful family and equally as wonderful boyfriend is the best present ever.
I wrote this mostly for people that don’t understand Mental Health and are getting irritated with a suffering family member, or because they don’t know what to say to them. I can’t make you understand Mental Health, I do my best to educate people when I can but I’m literally 21 and don’t understand my own illness sometimes... But please, you don’t know what people are going through this time of year. Stop being so nasty to everyone, especially retail assistants and people in the food industry, I mean you shouldn’t be doing that anyway, EVER. But you really don’t know if that ‘slow’ waitress is suffering from an Eating Disorder this Christmas, or if the ‘sad’ Shop Manager is spending his first Christmas without his late wife. I know the holidays are stressful but please, “in a world where you can be anything, be kind”. You have no idea how appreciated your kindness is to some people at this time of year. If you are spending Christmas with someone who is recovering from and ED, don’t sit and stare at them whilst they eat, don’t call them out for leaving food... There is only so much you can do, but your love and support will help them through. This goes for people with Depression too, be patient with them and be kind.
Mental Health doesn’t just go away at Christmas and that’s okay... You’re doing your best and that’s good enough. There are so many people you can speak too, including myself, if you’re having a particularly low time throughout the Festivities. I promise it’s going to get better the minute you allow yourself to get help. It is the strongest thing you can do and considering you’re already dealing with a Mental Health issue, you’re already a pretty tough badass.
I’m going to leave a website link down below with all the numbers you can call if you’re suffering this Christmas.
Be kind to others and be kind to yourselves, I hope I haven’t bored you too much.
Have a wonderfully Merry Christmas everyone and a very Happy New Year.
A year and a bit ago I wrote a post called 'A Desire To Be Perfect'. I remember exactly how I felt when I was writing it, it was a feeling of sadness I wouldn't wish on anyone. My oh my how I've grown.
Never in my life did I think I'd be at a stage where I could openly talk about any of this and say 'I got through it' and yet here I am doing so. Before I properly start, this post deals with Eating Disorder struggles, I would therefore recommend you don't read this if you're triggered by that. Having said that, this is a recovery story and will hopefully keep a positive tone overall.
You don't necessarily need to go back and read my last post, as I only briefly touched on the topic of Eating Disorders to avoid being asked questions. I know that by talking so openly about all this I'm putting myself at risk of losing a lot of people. I found an amazing quote today "When we break our arm, everyone runs forward to sign the cast. When we say we have depression, everyone runs the other way." But despite how incredibly nervous I am to be posting this, something is telling me I need too. If this helps just one person then that is all I could ever hope for.
Here goes eh...
People link Bulimia with 'binging and purging’; I wasn't so much one for binging. I just sort of restricted my food until dinner, after that I'd go away and make myself sick. It's just shameful to look back on and also very scary. Such a negative self image was pushing me to practically kill myself and I didn't seem to care... We never had scales in our home so I can't tell you how small I went, I don't think I was ever less than a size 6 but I certainly wasn't healthy. We really need to fall out of that habit of saying 'but she doesn't look like she has an eating disorder', 'she doesn't look depressed', 'oh she smiled so she's okay', You really have no idea what demons someone is fighting! Around the time I started my GCSEs, all I could think about was food. I can remember I'd crave the burgers from the Rugby stadiums we went too; they were all I could think about all week (they aren't even that good...)
The problem was, I was thinking about food so much because I wasn't eating any! I'd put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to get good GCSE results and so the anxiety of that made it hard to eat. I cut back on the purging massively but I'd gone to the other extreme of hardly eating... Summer came, Wigan won the Challenge Cup, I went to Disneyland and spent around ten weeks with my friends, I didn't really have time to think about food and my weight. I was happy again.
Throughout College I started to suffer really badly with my Mental Health. I look back at the person I was and I don't know her but I know her pain. If you've ever been through depression you know how hard it is to explain what it is that's going through your head. I wanted to be alone but I hated being lonely, I would get angry if my friends were living their lives happily because I wasn't. I couldn't really remove myself from my little bubble of self hate and self destruction. Insecurity got the better of me once again but this time it seemed so much worse. Eventually I got the help I needed and for the first time ever I opened up about my Bulimia. I did eventually come out of that really dark time, I got better at fighting through my hard days. Sadly that feeling of not being good enough remained...
In the last three years after leaving College I've had some really good days and some not so good days. Not long after I posted my last blog post I started to overeat. I'd never been anything more than a size 8 but my clothes were beginning to feel tighter and I didn't feel comfortable wearing anything cropped. I fell back into this horrible habit of comparing myself to everyone, particularly Instagram Models and Influencers. I started heavily editing pictures to look thinner and became scarily obsessed with losing weight again. I'd never been on a diet or joined a gym, I just wanted instant results so I of course made all the wrong decisions... I had put so much pressure on myself to lose the weight immediately that my old self was making me do ridiculous things.
This is the first time I've admitted to the fact that I did this so recently. I hate that I've put my body through this and I've definitely had my fair share of nasty side effects, but I could sit here and live in regret or, I can learn from it and try to help others. I'd spent a week restricting and making myself sick after meals, I woke up for work one Saturday and I felt weak. I forced myself to go in but my chest hurt, I was short of breath and most of all I was just so hungry. I went home poorly that day and it was then that it hit me just how much I'd been putting my body through. I knew I needed to change.
Change is exactly what I did.
First of all, I had to change my mindset massively! I know for a fact that 17 year old me was in a state of such bad depression that she refused to believe she was capable of changing. She was certainly at a point in which she believed nobody could possibly feel worse than she did. That's the thing though, I've since met people who do have it worse... A lot worse. I've watched people fight battles so much bigger than mine. When I took a step back and looked at the way those amazing people were living their lives, it got me thinking... Why am I living my life worrying? Surely life is too short to be sad. Life is definitely too short to be harming my own body because I don't like the way I look. I mean how ridiculous is that?! God made me the way I am and for that I should love myself.
Body confidence has become so important to me, two weeks ago I reached my ideal weight and for the first time in years I looked at myself and felt amazing! The fact that I did it the right way, by going to the gym and taking care of my body makes me so proud.
The other day I wrote something about how nice it is when people notice you've lost weight but I was wrong... Recently people have been noticing that I look healthy and most importantly happy, that is the best feeling.
In 'The Desire To Be Perfect', I talked about how I missed being happy, mostly how I missed that feeling of a no worry childhood. The minute I started to believe everything happens for a reason, and told myself not to stress over things that can't be controlled, was when I started to feel that happy child within me again. Please believe me when I say no matter how much you're struggling right now, you are going to get through it! You may need to get some help along the way, counselling definitely helped me in managing a lot of my anxiety and depression.
But here's the thing, You don't need to be scared of getting help, you should be more scared of living your life like this. You need to be willing to fight to recover. Okay yes, you're going to have some really bad days but that's nothing compared to the good that's coming...
I think I knew I'd made it out of this the other day when my friend Nadia looked at me and said, "I wish I could take you back three years, just so you could show your past self you now and tell her she's going to be okay."
That was exactly what I needed to hear, I don't think she knows how happy that actually made me! She's right though, I am a different person and it's because for the first time since the age of 15, I feel free! Free of all my pain and free of an eating disorder.
I tend to neglect my blog these days, usually because it takes me a good few days to write something I'm proud to post. For the first time since posting it I read back that very sad blog post... I was first of all annoyed to find I'd made a typo in the middle of it, but I was mostly just hurt cause I remembered how awful I'd actually felt. I'm not posting this for any form of attention, but I got quite a big response from people after last time, mostly very sad people. It was a mix of what Nadia said and knowing the response I got last time that made me feel like I needed to tell people it gets better. Addressing my disorder in full has been very therapeutic and completely freeing, the fact that I'm putting this out there is proving to myself how much I've grown... I've admitted to things I've not really talked about and finally I'm ready to put it all behind me. As I said before, if this helped just one person, that is all I could ever really hope for.