I appreciate you

In the last year I’ve come a million miles when it comes to my mental health. This time last year I wasn’t even sure if it was a good idea for me to stay at university, I genuinely was a bit of a danger to myself. I didn’t look after myself and I didn’t love myself. Now, here I am, still learning how to look after myself and love myself, but in the strongest position I’ve ever been in. And that comes down to a few things, the first being my ‘vice’ which those close to me know about (it has changed my life, for the better). But another reason I’m so much stronger now is because of the amazing people in my life: my friends. All of you, those from home, those in Exeter, those thousands of miles away. So here’s to you guys:

I am so grateful for the positivity that you bring into my life. Thank you for making me laugh when I feel like crying. Thank you for calling me just to say hi. Thank you for updating me on your life so I don’t feel like I’m missing too much! Thank you for showing me parts of myself I never knew existed and teaching me to like myself. We’re working on getting to loving myself, but without any of you I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you to all my girls at home for having my back since day one – we march together. Thank you piñapple. Thank you Pat. Thank you to the weirdos I get to call some of my new best mates, I’ve only known you a year but I feel like I’ve known your messi-selves forever. Thank you to the good eggs that I live with for making our house feel like a home, I know I’m not the most useful housemate but I hope I provide entertainment? Thank you to the best thing that came out of my break up; every cloud has a silver lining. Thank you d**g-mother, you helped me transform my life.

I could go on and on. There are so many more people I want to thank, even those who might not consider me a friend. You’d be surprised how much of an impact one interaction can have. I suppose the purpose of this post is to make sure my friends know they’re appreciated, but also to remind others to think about the people in their life and what a difference friends can make. Write a list of who/what your grateful for. Tell your friends how much you appreciate them because everyone deserves to feel the love!

(I would also like to thank my family but that’s an entirely different post to be done one day)

crazy

I take 9 pills a day. Why do I take 9 pills a day? Is it because I’m crazy? Maybe I’m crazy. And you watch those films about crazy people in crazy homes and you think wow if that’s crazy and i’m crazy then…am I that crazy?

But what is crazy? Does crazy actually ultimately lead you to a happiness? And people more ‘normal’ than you have reached that happiness a bit sooner than you have? It’s like another birth.

So maybe that’s where I am right now. In that in-between place we call ‘crazy’ where you’ve emerged from the darkness.

In-between is an odd one. Because both ‘in’ and ‘between’ can be used in place of ‘in-between’, so why do we say both?

Where was I?

Oh yes,

Pills and craziness.

(Granted one of my pills is a contraceptive)

But then what is crazy?

So, the more ‘normal’ people are just trying to help you get to that happiness but the demon at the other end is trying to pull you back.

The thing is, if the darkness is the origin that means it’s the main power source. So, at all our cores is that darkness. And you’re just ahead of me, you people who aren’t ‘crazy’. If I’m crazy, that is.

I’m going to explore this world called ‘crazy’ in a series. If I’m here I might as well take a look around.

a message about self harm

Okay, so let’s start this off with a massive disclaimer saying this is NOT for attention. This is a PSA to educate people so that others don’t have to keep facing this issue. Also a disclaimer to say I have the best parents and brothers supporting me and this does not reflect any of their views towards self harm at all – they have always been the most understanding and caring people.

Self harm of any sort, whether it be cutting, scratching, burning, fasting or purging etc, is not attention seeking. People who put themselves through that pain regularly are not doing it for kicks. They are not just crying out for help. Sure, sometimes it might be a cry for help as well, but it goes far deeper than that.

The difficulty here is that I cannot speak for other people, so the only real way I can explain this would probably come across as attention seeking in itself. But I’m not going to tell you a personal story which could be construed in that way, I’m just going to explain the general mentality behind self harm. Obviously I cannot cover every detail and these things won’t apply to everyone but I just hope this will open some people’s eyes to the truth behind self harm.

Some people self harm as a release, in order to let out emotions such as sadness, anger, and even in some cases a level of joy. Without this release they can feel trapped, suffocated and scared. Some people self harm to punish themselves and, mostly, this is due to low self-worth which will only be lowered if they are then accused of doing it for something as silly as a bit of short-lived attention. Others self harm to try to feel something, anything, because they have reached an extreme of numbness. And some self harm because that’s just how they cope, and there doesn’t have to be any other reason behind it.

At the end of the day, if you’re self harming instead of committing suicide, you’re that little bit stronger than you could have been and the last thing you need is someone accusing you of doing it for attention. I’d far rather use that as a coping mechanism than give up entirely on life, wouldn’t you? So, why do people make us feel like childish attention seekers when in reality we’re doing everything we can to get by? You are not helping the situation at all by accusing us of just wanting attention, there is no beneficial outcome of that.

Yes, some people do it for attention, for some it is a cry for help. But it is by no means fair to make the assumption that it is attention seeking over a genuine emotional coping mechanism, that is like making the assumption that all people with lung cancer have smoked. Yes, it can be the case but it is not always right and it is unfair on those who don’t fit the assumption and are belittled for it. Eventually, those who do it for attention tend to get the attention they needed and stop, or they admit they were doing it for attention. Whereas those who self harm for the reasons I have mentioned above or any other reason tend to continue beyond just ‘getting that attention’ from people about it. It is not a game of look at my arm of cuts, or look how my teeth have rotted from purging, or look at the cigarette burns on my hand. These signs are not there to be showcased, they are just there on our bodies and we don’t need you to doubly point them out to us and then go on to assume it has all been done for attention. So don’t make that assumption, please. Don’t think that if you come over and give us attention about it we will all magically be cured and never self harm again because that’s not how mental health works. No two brains are the same.

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.

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.