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.