relapse and recovery

I’m a bit reluctant to write/post this – I don’t know which one I’m more reluctant to do really. But the thing that makes me want to write and post it is this: I have made it out the other end of this and that is what I need to keep showing whenever this happens. Plus it almost sort of detoxes the relapse out of my system to write it down.

Now, I am going to admit firstly that I had been drinking when I relapsed – I hadn’t had stupid amounts, but enough that I was having fun. We get the gist, yes? However, alcohol is a depressant so I have to be more careful around it. So, it was Friday night, I was out with my mates and I was having so much fun. Genuinely. But then something switched in my head and I couldn’t hold back the thoughts. Here’s the thing, whether people realise it or not, I am constantly fighting back negative thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all consuming when I’m on medication, but I do have to work at it every day to keep the suicidal and other such thoughts at bay. I have coping mechanisms which I have evolved over the past couple of years which work well for me, only on Friday night they didn’t. I was sat outside waiting for my mates to have a smoke and suddenly my brain turned on me. I didn’t deserve to be happy and having fun. I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I wanted to disappear because I couldn’t handle my own literal existence. Imagine that, not being able to cope with the fact that you are a living, breathing human being. I felt so dark. So, naturally, I left the club and went home. I had told some of my friends that I was feeling this way and, of course, they were concerned – if you’re reading this I’m still sorry for doing that to you. Walking home my thoughts just got worse and worse until eventually my inner voice was screaming “KILL YOURSELF” at me. (Now this next bit may be triggering so please skip to the next paragraph if you are easily triggered) I got home, found my sharpest knife and sat in my bathroom cutting my wrist until I collapsed from the pain. I was completely alone, crying and screaming, cursing myself and wanting it all to just end right there and then. And as I collapsed I truly thought I might have succeeded in killing myself, just for a moment.

A couple of my flat mates came back and found me in that state. Again, to them, I say thank you for everything you did to take care of me. What happened after my flat mates found me has overwhelmed me so much. I was in a strange hysterical state where I was calm, but inside my thoughts were still racing. I was sort of falling asleep but in a very negative mindset when two of my friends, one a very old friend, appeared in my room. The feeling I felt seeing these people surrounding me, four amazing people who were giving up their own time for me, was almost euphoric. I was being distracted by them so, although the thoughts were still there, they were being held back more. I want to specifically focus on one person, my old friend, I hope you’re reading this. The fact that he was someone who I had known so long, someone who has seen me at my worst states, and could easily just have forgotten about me once we moved to university to avoid all my ‘drama’ (haha, it’s funny because I study drama…), yet he came to see me. As cliche as it might sound, I was so touched by this. And, as all four of them sat with me, I felt safe for the first time that night.

I have realised that, despite what my illness might tell me, people do care. Depression might make you feel lonely, isolated, worthless and every other negative word under the sun – it sure has for me – but it is a bully. It is a liar. So is anxiety and every other mental illness. They are genuinely nasty things; they eat away at you like a tumour until you are so weak you cannot keep fighting them. But you have to hold on to the moments of light that come in the darkest times, I clutched at the support of my friends and held it tight to make it through the night and start a new day. And I woke up feeling so positive (in comparison to before) and thankful. Depression doesn’t often let you feel thankful, so we have to appreciate those little moments and, as I said before, keep hold of them. I suppose that’s the “moral of this story”, that positivity can come from the worst of times and relapse can help you move further towards recovery.

Am I worthy of anything?

I have to tell the truth and admit that my self-worth has plummeted. I was so positive, my medication has been at the right level, I was happy (ish), you know? Now, I’m just not. I look at beauty and I feel unworthy of it, even just a simple sunset. I’m not good enough, not special enough, not anything enough for that. I’m just. Just.

I don’t think I will ever be good enough for anyone. I mean my ex had already moved onto his new girlfriend before we had even broken up, that shows how sub-par I am. I might as well start on being good enough for someone, as in someone special. I have never truly felt like I have been good enough for anyone; even when I was in my relationship because I constantly have those voices in my head telling me and I wasn’t exactly made to feel worthy by the end. I look at all these other girls around me in clubs, all of my best friends, and I think compared to them I am a 2/10. They are easy-going, slim, beautiful, funny, charismatic – everything I am not. I’m going to lay it out there and say I let guys have me but then they want nothing more after one go. So, I am not good enough. I am an eternal disappointment. But how can I expect someone to be able to love me if I don’t love myself? And how can I be good enough for someone else if I’m not good enough for myself? And I will never be good enough for myself so let’s face that destiny then, eh?

I mentioned my best friends, well, this refers to any of my friends really now. I consider them my best friends but I have never felt like anyone would consider me their best friend. I am not a good enough friend for that label, I am not a good enough person. I try so hard not to be the way I am, I try not to be selfish, I try to be supportive and caring and I just fail. That’s why everyone ends up leaving in the end because they realise I’m not good enough in any sense.

I will never be skinny enough, nor will I ever be toned enough. I will never have the butt and boobs that everyone desires. I will never have a perfect face, I will never look as good as other girls. I will forever be the one with the worst sense of humour, I will always be the one who brings everyone else down. I don’t deserve the happiness I wish I could have and it’s only now I’m realising this. I end up left alone while others move onto better things. I will never love myself, so nobody else will ever love me. And I’m coming to terms with that.

I appear to hate my appearance

So, I get notifications on Facebook with memories from X years ago. One came up in the summer which knocked me back and I haven’t shaken this thought off since. It was a picture of me with my friend and one of my brother’s friends from summer when I was 14. I looked at the picture and thought to myself, “why do I not look like that anymore?” I look completely normal. I was sat there looking at this old photo of myself wondering why I wasn’t still that size. It’s fucked up because I thought I was obese at the time of the photo. Okay, so I wasn’t a size 0 in it but I look at the photo and I am definitely not obese. I’d say I was a healthy size. So, why did I spend that entire year hating myself? Why have I hated the way I look ever since I can remember? In a few years time will I look back at pictures of myself from now and wonder why I hated myself so much again?

I constantly look back at pictures of myself from late 2015 and early 2016 because that was my skinniest. I will sit there and mourn for the body I have lost, and in turn this makes me mourn for the deepest parts of my illness because it put me into that body. I have such an unhealthy relationship with my body because I would rather put it through hell to go back to being that skinny than look after myself. And yet I don’t even have the strength in me anymore to put myself through that at the moment. So, I eat. And I regret it because I’m longing for that Loveday to come back.

Why though do I look back at older pictures of myself and remember how awful I felt at the time and sort of laugh at my younger self for being blind to the reality of how I looked? I look at them now and I know I wasn’t as big as my brain (or other people lol) told me. Therefore, surely I should be wiser and understand that I have a dysfunctional and distorted perception of myself but I don’t. I get told constantly I don’t see myself for what I actually am, but I disagree. I see myself for more of what I am than anyone else because it’s a common known fact that you notice your tiny little details and flaws more than anyone around you does. So yeah, you might not see what I see, but what I see is more of a reality.

The bottom line is: I am fundamentally unhappy with the way I look and I have come to realise that I always will be because, even when I was at my lowest weight, I hated the way I looked. And what I’ve been thinking about everyday is whether I’m okay with that because it’s going to be my life – I am never going to feel good enough for anyone else, I am never going to think I’m beautiful, I am never going to be completely happy with myself. And I sort of ask myself, well, is anyone completely happy with him/herself? And then I think, how important is my appearance to me? And I realise it’s disproportionately important. I’m so angry that something so shallow means so much to me that I let it ruin my life. I’m angry that I can’t embrace the person I am, the way I look, because I live in constant fear that it’s going to be used against me again. I’m angry that I’ve grown up to be the person I am. Why do I detest myself because of the way I look? Is it ridiculous? I’m not making a new year’s resolution but I am making a wish, a late birthday wish, a christmas wish, a life wish – I want to be happy one day. I want to love myself one day so that someone else can love me. I just want to stop fighting these voices in my head and live peacefully eventually. Please.

Gender pay gap? Yes, yes. It’s a thing.

Look, we all know we’ve come almost a million miles in gaining equality for women in the past century. That’s indisputable. So, let’s celebrate that for a moment – WOO! Okay, moment over. Now, let’s face the fact that there is still inequality, lots of it. Now, I have to make a disclaimer – I am focusing on Western countries and using British statistics, so by no means am I claiming this is accurate for the whole world. Let’s face it, Eastern culture has even less equality (sorry).

So let me hit you with some F.A.C.T.S (Fucking Awful, Crazy, Terrifying Statistics). The average gender pay gap in 2017 between employees of all ages in all full time occupations was 14.1%. (I should probably state now that all the statistics I provide are averages found in government research.) Culture, media and sports occupations face an average pay gap of 35.9%. This should come as no surprise if you saw the leaked pay of BBC employees. Now, some people argue that it’s a different argument for the BBC because popularity and fame has to play a certain role in the salaries, which to some extent I agree with. However, let’s take BBC news readers as an example, no offence to them but I wouldn’t say people get excessively excited when a specific reporter is on the 10 o’clock news. The 3 top paid news readers are male, earning from £400,000 to Jeremy Vine’s higher band of £749,999. The first woman comes into the table at number 5, which seems good, and it’s Fiona Bruce earning between £350,000 and £399,999. Fair play to her, you go girl. But then the rest of the female news readers are capped at £200,000 to £249,999 with Victoria Derbyshire being the next highest paid female after Fiona, in 12th place. Now, I may be mistaken but I don’t think gender plays any role in how the news is presented, and yet almost all the female news readers are in the bottom bracket of the salary. To use another example, let’s look at Clare Balding. We all know Clare Balding and frankly if you don’t you must live under a rock. Clare Balding is the 96th highest paid BBC star. I’m sorry but I think Clare Balding is pretty popular, she’s pretty well-known; so if the BBC have to also take popular demand into account, I’d expect Clare to be a little higher on the list…

On a different note, let’s look at the difference in pay gaps in various age ranges. It didn’t surprise me at all to learn that the younger generations have smaller pay gaps, for example ages 18-21 have an average of 6.7%. I think this is because the opportunities for promotions, pay rises and everything else haven’t yet come to workers at this age, so at the base of it the genders start equally. It’s only when women go on maternity leave, when they fail to get or even apply for the promotions which men will inevitably get, that the pay gap widens. The pay gap in workers of 60+ is 18.4%. Now, we cannot deny that this gap is a result of previous inequality and that, sadly, many women of that generation may be so used to being paid less than men that there is less argument against it from them. Let’s break it down even further and focus on specific jobs. In health care professionals aged 60+ the pay gap is 45%. This is shocking as, for most people, these are their last years of work when they are trying their hardest to earn whatever they can to better their pensions. So, the female health care professionals are being practically robbed of a better pension, based quite frankly purely on their gender. I can’t tell you what the pay gap is for health care professionals aged 18-21 as it is not available for whatever reason, but the pay gap in ages 22-29 in this field is 13.9% which is vastly smaller than that of the older workers. Are organisations taking advantage of the fact that older generations are more accustomed to the pay gap? Are they using historical cultures to save money cunningly? As a whole, the health sector pay gap is 27.9%, one of the highest of them all. And yet, this is, for the most part, a public sector and the average pay gap in the public sector is 14.3% compared to 17.1% in the private sector. Why is this relevant, you ask? It’s relevant because there are far too many people looking at statistics individually and not combining them to find where certain fields of work are really abusing the pay gap. You might look at the pay gap among sectors and think, rightly so, that private sectors are more guilty of unequal salaries. But that doesn’t mean that the public sectors don’t have worse pay gaps in certain fields of work.

Is this making sense? I’m writing this and confusing my own brain a little bit so I don’t blame you if you’re baffled. I know I’ve simplified this a lot but that’s because you’d be reading an entire dissertation if I put it all into one post. It’s a very complicated thing, the gender pay gap, because in some cases it can be purely coincidence that a woman is paid less than a man for a similar job, dependent on circumstances and whatnot. However, when a man and a woman do exactly the same job, there can be no excuse for paying the woman distinctly less than the man. But alas, as much as some may deny it, certain companies still do this despite the laws in place and their moral compasses (which I have come to the conclusion that they must lack because how can you have one if you think women deserve less than men for the same job purely because they have a vagina between their legsSorry, I’m getting emotional about it, blame my hysterical womb! You see, I’m giving you all these numbers because I know people prefer facts and figures to opinions and emotions. So, take this cold, hard evidence and I will not place my emotions on top of it. But believe me I’m emotional about it. It is ridiculous. Sorry, emotionally unstable woman speaking, I know we’re only here to be looked at, not heard. I know our opinions aren’t as valid as men’s, I know, I know. What? Am I being outdated? Well, since we’re still living in an outdated world when it comes to gender pay, why not play the role?

letters and words

So, when I was younger I used to write letters all the time, especially when I was angry or upset. I remember writing these emotional (or at least I thought so at the time) notes to my parents when I felt like I wasn’t being listened to properly or when I felt angry about something. I’d leave them on the landing outside my room so that my parents would find them when they came to make sure I was in bed. I would literally write “I feel so unloved and I feel like nobody cares what I feel” – it seems ridiculous now thinking back because I had an amazing childhood at home so let’s not make any assumptions that I had some traumatising childhood, okay? Okay.

When I was about 15 I thought I was in love for the first time – even now I’m wondering whether that really was my first experience of love because I almost still think it was. I told myself I had loved him since I was like 14 and I felt completely downtrodden when we didn’t work out. This was when I was 16. I mean, what does a 16 year old know about love? Yet, I wrote myself a letter to open when I was 18, which I did. The letter described how I felt – obviously it was all very cliché, but I think I truly did feel that way at the time and I shouldn’t belittle that. I wrote down all these intense emotions and thoughts I had that I didn’t feel like I could share verbally. Just like I did when I was little and wrote letters to my parents.

Even this year, only a couple of weeks ago, I had an awful night and ended up writing my flatmates a letter. This letter was pretty much me trying to explain why I had been behaving so erratically and apologising for everything. Again, this was a situation where I felt like writing it all down was a lot better and more eloquent than saying it out loud.

So, clearly letters are very important in my life. I suppose I see this blog like a long letter I’m writing to the world in various snippets. And it has got me thinking about the future of my letters. Rewind a couple of years and I’d have told you I wouldn’t make it to my 18th birthday, let alone my 19th. I couldn’t have seen myself leaving school and making it to university. I truly thought I would be dead by now, in fact long before now. And yet here I am. Still breathing. Still living. Still writing.

So I’m going to be honest now. This might hurt some people to read, and that’s not my intention at all. My intention is always to be as candid as I can with everyone who reads this and to show every angle of mental illness, the good and the bad, the rose-tinted, the bleak, everything. The truth is, I still think eventually I will be dead. And I don’t mean in the normal sense. I think there is only so long I can be ‘strong’ for (I put that in inverted commas because I’m not sure how strong I actually am). One day I will break and lose this battle. And, as I have been thinking about letters, I realised what my last letter will be. A letter to everyone, a letter explaining why I had to go, a letter begging for your forgiveness and telling my family to keep going no matter what. It will be a letter because I can never say what I write, the words end up stuck in my throat, but when I write they flow out of my fingers as though there is some muscle memory of it all. So, I will write and keep writing until my last letter because that’s how I get my words out best.

my problem with #metoo

This is going to be controversial. I can be sure of that. So, I am going to first put in place my disclaimer:

I know that sexual assault and the rape culture within the media and film industry is a problem. I do not deny that there are disgusting, disrespectful people (not only men, but women too) who have and even some still will assault other people both physically and verbally in any manner, but in particular sexually. There is no dispute about that, and I have the deepest sympathies for anyone, famous or not, male or female, who has had to endure anything of the sort from anyone. Especially when said person, for example Harvey Weinstein, had a position of authority and control over their victims to make them feel more vulnerable and less in control of themselves. Please bear my disclaimer in mind when reading the rest of this.

Here is my problem. Too many people can now falsely accuse notable people of sexual misconduct or other such behaviour. We live in a world where people do disgusting things in fits of anger and everything is instant. Now, I’m not saying we should just immediately assume every victim is making up their story, nor should we assume every accused person is a criminal. The difficulty is, people throw around these habitual argumentative phrases such as, “let’s all believe in the innocence of a white good looking male and discredit the woman’s testimony as always” and “no one ever believes women, this is why we don’t talk”, and these call upon every discrimination that we so violently hate in society nowadays. In particular, sexism and racism. We are all turning so firmly against “the white man” because he must be a criminal based on the way we, as a society, push for equality in everything.

Now, this argument of mine could become far longer if I go into exploring my view of ‘feminism’ vs. ‘Feminism’ and why that word is completely antiquated and should be, because of how far we have come in getting women equal rights already, called ‘equalitism’. But let’s not. Let’s save that one for a rainy day. Let’s just look at the way society is now. Frankly, we live in a world where nobody can keep themselves whiter than white (what an ironic saying in these times…) and everybody slips up, whether it be big or small. Yes, sexual assault is more than just a slip up. Yes, there are boundaries to draw the line between human nature and unforgivable behaviour. However, nobody is a saint. Saints do not exist. Human nature dictates that, no matter who you are, you put your survival needs ahead of anything else when it truly comes down to it. It is only when there is an imbalance in the chemicals that human nature can begin to shift, which I think must be the case for assaulters. I truly don’t believe anyone can be of sound, sane mind and believe that sexual assault and rape is acceptable at any time. No. I’m not excusing their behaviour at all. I am simply saying, we need to understand the intensity of the world we live in, especially for people in the public eye.

What I am angry about is that I believe that all this will do now is make more men (and even women) turn against ‘feminists’ (or ‘equalitists’) due to the storms of abuse that have and still will be thrown at innocent men, especially white men, about sexual assaults. It will also make those people who believe so strongly and passionately about this that they hurl this abuse at innocent bystanders, purely because they are angry at the world and human nature for being the way it is quite frankly, even more abusive. Abuse is never the answer to abuse, is it? I am scared that more and more women (or men) will come forward and falsely accuse these “white, privileged men” of rape or similar things in a fit of rage. Think about how easily you can sometimes send a text in anger, or spit out some hostile words at someone or about someone. In this day and age, with social media, it only takes one second for something to move across the entire world and make headlines. I can’t imagine a situation where I would ever falsely accuse someone of that behaviour, to such an extreme that I could ruin their entire lives and have them end up in prison. However, equally, I cannot imagine ever believing it would be okay for me to force myself upon a person and sexually assault them without consent. And yet, people do believe that that is acceptable behaviour. So, I believe it must work for both sides.

We live in a far from perfect world, full of far from perfect people, living far from perfect lives. Of course, victims of assault of any kind should speak out and get the support they need. Of course, nobody should ever assault anyone. Of course, nobody should lie. But we cannot guarantee any of that. We cannot force human beings to be this ideal, every person has different wiring in their body and we are far from understanding the true depths of the complexity of the human brain. So, for now, we have to accept that this world is fucked up. And all we should want to try to do, is make it that little bit less so by being fair and honest.

us.

I probably won’t post this. Or if I do it will be very impulsive and I won’t want anyone to talk to me about it because this is probably the most vulnerable I could be making myself. But maybe I will post it because someone else somewhere might feel the same and be reassured? I don’t know. Maybe I will just post it because it feels silly to spend time writing it and do nothing with it, especially when it could make a difference to someone’s life. I guess.

I’m hurting tonight. A lot. I miss him. I miss you. I’ve come home and not a night has gone by where I haven’t lay in bed remembering what it was like with you next to me. I sob; I don’t wail or cry properly, they’re just little whimpers because I don’t want to expend that energy on you. I hate you just as much as I love you. My brain is full of memories of “us”. I can’t remember a time before “us” existed but now I’m living in the post-“us” time and I hate it. I would give anything to go back in time and have one more day. Or at least change the way things ended. We used to say we would always love each other, even if we weren’t together. I know I still do. I think I can say I will always love you. I just hope the type of love it is will change, so that I simply love the memory of you. But for now, as much as I shouldn’t, as much as I wish I didn’t, as much as people might think I’m mad for it, I love you still.

I can’t help but wonder whether you lie awake thinking about me sometimes, whether you regret how things turned out. I have all these questions I want to ask. Do you remember how excited you got when I first messaged you after the “K”? Do you remember the passion we had? Do you wish you’d tried harder? Do you wish we had broken up sooner? Do you miss me? Do you still love me? I wonder whether you’re sleeping with someone else, whether you’re falling for someone else. Do you say the things to her that you said to me? Does she make you happier than I did? Do you compare her to me? I could so easily answer all those questions from my point of view but I think that’s pretty obvious. I can’t stop these questions whirling round my head and I wish you could just answer them all for me. Most of all I wonder whether we can ever be “us” again.

Maybe I feel all this too intensely and people will read this and think I’m ridiculous because, what does an eighteen year old know about love? All I can say to that is if this isn’t love and heartbreak then I never want to fall in and out of love because this hurts plenty enough. But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not wallowing 24/7. I’m moving on. Moving on is easy. I have moved on. But moving on doesn’t mean the love disappears. Moving on isn’t the same as forgetting. I know you don’t love me anymore. You have made that clear. And I think that’s what makes this even harder. Because you forgot about me within a week, even a day. You moved on before we had even broken up as far as I’m aware.  And I’m so angry at you for that. I hate you for that. So intensely. But like I said, I hate you as much as I love you. So, I fluctuate between anger and sadness mostly when I think of you, which doesn’t happen too often anymore. But when it does, it’s a tsunami and it drowns me in the emotion. Tonight it’s sadness. Next time it might be anger. I can’t wait until I reach the point where the memories become distant enough to be fond. For now, though, this is it:

I will never stop loving you. Nor will I ever stop hating you. I will never forget you. Nor will I ever remember you as the kind person you once were, only the stranger you turned into by the end. I will never not want you. Nor will I ever need you again though. I will never love anyone else the way I loved you. Nor will I ever let anyone else hurt me the way you did.