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)

dear you

So here’s the thing. It’s been almost a year to the day and I’ve come to peace with my break up. It sounds cliché, yeah, but it’s taken time and I actually want to reach the point that we can have some level of friendship. We don’t have any contact at all so I honestly could not think of any other way to try to do it other than just write this and hope the right people see it. I’ll make it as short as I can.

I’m not angry anymore, you might still be, but I hope you aren’t. I hope you’re at the same point as me where it’s a lesson learnt and some memories that will probably last a lifetime, but there is no animosity. Frankly, no strong emotion at all. I hope you’ve started afresh away from me; I can see now that’s what we both needed. I hope you’re well, I really do. I hope university is everything you imagined and, though I can’t get my tone of voice across on this, I genuinely hope your new relationship is happy and healthy. I’d like to hope that one day if we see each other we’ll be able to have a polite conversation and maybe even catch up, I’d love to know how your family are.

I suppose yeah, this is just my olive branch for peace. I admit I made some mistakes, I hope you can admit the same. I’m sorry.

Naturally this was a late night thought and I may immediately regret this in the morning if it backfires… I just hope not.

an in-depth study of eyeliner

I have a post-it note on my desk saying “WRITE ESSAY“, so naturally I decided to do a comparison of all my eyeliners and rank them according to their best attributes. Yes, eyeliner has attributes.

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So, first up is Eyeko’s eye do liquid eyeliner. This eye liner is perfect for beginners to wings or cat eyes, or for people who aren’t as bold with their wings. The tip of pen is like a felt tip and, though it has a fairly short life, it creates a very fine tip… Until you use it too much, and it gets stubby. But the solution to that is to cut the end of the pen, as though recreating the original tip. It is a thick black, not too liquid or washy so gives you a good clean line for a wing. This eyeliner lasts well; typically I could wear this for an entire day, maybe 16 hours, and it won’t have come off or smudged.

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Next is my ‘go-to’ liner, YSL’s shocking eyeliner. This liner claims to create a false lash effect and I think it definitely does; it makes your lashes look fuller because of the depth its deep black can create. The reason this is my go-to liner is because it’s very easy to use and creates a strong, bold, black wing which is my go-to eyeliner look. The tip of this pen is much longer and thinner than the Eyeko liner so you can create a longer, bigger wing easily as well.

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Third on the list is the longest-lasting eye liner, MAC’s Liquidlast Eyeliner. THIS EYELINER DOES NOT BUDGE. I have kept this eyeliner on for almost 3 days before, with no topping up, and it only began to fade after the second day. This eyeliner is like a tattoo for your eyes. It’s dangerous because it doesn’t come off easily, so you have to get your eyeliner right first time. I’m always hesitant to use this because, even though it is the longest-lasting and therefore ideal for lazy make up users, it is extremely thick liquid, almost like melted gel. And you have to wait for it to dry which often goes wrong because my eyes flicker somewhere and then BAM I’ve got eyeliner all over my eyelid. So for this one you need patience, a steady hand (which I really don’t have, so it’s a struggle) and lots of time. But when this stuff is done right it creates a very bold, fierce and clean-cut line.

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The fourth pen on the list is the one which served me best in its very short lifespan, it is BareMineral’s Lash Domination. This liner gives you such a good wing and is extremely easy to use but it dries out extremely quickly and, even for some of my friends, the lid pops off extremely easily without you realising. It is more liquid than most of the eyeliners I use but that makes it easier to apply if you want very fine lines.

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I don’t very often use pencils because I like the smooth line you can achieve with a pen but if I am doing a smoky eye or a softer look I will always reach out to these, Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils. These liners will blend with any eyeshadow you want to create a smooth transition; I particularly love doing this with the brown liner for my more basic looks. These create a very clean line, considering they are pencils, they are easy to use. However I would never use these to create a wing, they are far too stubby for that – no matter how much you sharpen them.

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Finally, I thought I’d note on how not all high-end products are good. All of the eyeliners I have mentioned are good quality from high-end brands but I have often been more disappointed by high-end products than drugstore products. This is MAC’s Penultimate eyeliner. I think this is possibly the most disappointing eyeliner I have ever bought and I spent £16.50 on it (at least, because I probably ordered it online and had to pay shipping). The colour is supposed to be ‘rapid black’ and yet here I am with wishy-washy black; it is a sheer covering of very thin black eyeliner. Two seconds later is has rubbed off as well. I had high expectations for this, based only on the fact it was from MAC, and I was extremely disappointed. I suppose the moral of this is go for quality over brand when it comes to make up. Of course, the higher end brands are more likely to produce products like foundation which are better for your skin. However, this is not always the case, so I am always trying new products to find the best one for me, cost-wise and skincare-wise.

This was a bit of a different post, in fact this was the sort of stuff I expected to be posting more often on here when I first created this blog. It’s what I want to be posting more of, but I’m not sure if people actually care and will read them. So feedback would be lovely. THANKS!

Manifesto for Mental Health 2.0

So I recently rediscovered all my old Tumblr blogs and, in the midst of my cringing and wishing I could delete the internet, I find this:

Feeling down?

And I’m still shuddering with embarrassment but I’m realising the message I had back then is still applicable now; in fact, maybe even more so now. So, I’m going to rewrite it. First, go read that one. Have a good cringe, really, you can laugh as much as you want at me. Then come back here and read my Manifesto for Mental Health 2.0.

You probably know my story by now, you probably only read these because you feel your have to when I share them on Facebook, but for whatever reason you’re here I hope this might help you in your future.

(Here’s where I previously went for the tough love approach and decided to be graphic – not this time, I’ll save you from that.)

If you want to self harm, including but not limited to cutting, scratching or burning, you know what? In that very moment, that might be all you can do. So, don’t beat yourself up. If you live with suicidal thoughts and you simply make it through the day you’re doing better than you could be and that should be commended.

I was right when I said self harm was an addiction and that it can progress, so much so that it becomes attempted suicide; but it’s like drinking, as long as you keep it under control its okay.

So, next in my original Manifesto for Mental Health, I told a very graphic story about the terror suicide causes. And, though that story is the harsh truth, it’s not what people in that mindset need to be thinking. (I also put loads of random phrases in bold to try to make it more ‘impactful’ in the original).

In reality, anyone considering suicide needs to be gently reminded of all their reasons to live, not the way they will ruin things if they don’t live, because they will already be feeling as though they don’t have a choice.

The length of the effects of suicide were correct, but again when your mind is in that place you’re not thinking rationally. I would never have believed my family would still care 2 months later at my darkest point.

I’m cringing again at everything I wrote when I was, like, 14.

I think I wrote this thinking I knew so much more about mental health than I did so I couldn’t fully understand how it truly feels to be in that place.

Then I go on to address eating disorders which, at this point, I had had no real experience of at all. I think I explain the basis of anorexia pretty well, standard. But I just stop there. As if there aren’t other eating disorders.

I think I actually described the psychology (at least of my own experiences) behind the eating disorder pretty well. You do feel like you need to be punished for eating, in some way. And people do look at you differently and you can’t not notice that. (I hate using a double negative but that was the best sounding way to phrase it).

I then went on to explain as though I had come through some massive recovery journey that “it all gets better”. But that’s not true, for some people it might not get better, but it just might also not get worse if they’re lucky and they’ll learn to live like that. So, maybe from each individuals perspective it does always get better.

The rest of what I wrote made me cringe too much.

I just thought I might rewrite my manifesto, you know, keep it up to date if it’s going to be on the internet forever (because I can’t seem to delete my original Tumblr so it’s been immortalised).

mental health awareness week – an honest review of myself

Well, it’s mental health awareness week and I thought, rather than pretending to be uber happy in some “look how far I’ve come” post, the best way to raise awareness of mental health issues is to be honest.

And, seeing as the theme is ‘surviving or thriving’, I’m here telling the truth and admitting that in some ways I am thriving and in other ways I am not, I am simply surviving.

Let’s take my appearance for example. I’m eating. I’m eating more than I feel I should, I’m snacking, I’m binging. But I hate the way I look; I look in the mirror and see ‘FAT’ plastered all over it. I want so badly to be skinny but I also eat way too much and I’m too tired to get to the gym most days and I don’t even know why I’m so tired because I’m sleeping well. But I do know why I’m tired; I’m tired because of my depression, it does affect me in the same way any other illness like flu might. And I’m in this cycle because I hate myself and the way I look, so I eat my feelings, literally. It’s horrible and it’s what I need to work on at the moment. At least I can recognise that.

I have phenomenal friends; there are genuinely some incredible people in my life, however there are also not so incredible people in my life. And I have been learning which is which since coming to university. There are people I can just ‘be’ with, we can just sit in my room and mellow out and not need any words. There are people who give me the best laughs of my life. There are people who make me feel important. So yeah, some fantastic people. So, I just have to focus on those instead of the not so fantastic people.

I feel the happiest I have been in a long time and yet also, at times, the emptiest I have ever felt. Most of the time, I’m happy; I think for once in my life I really, truly am just happy. And I can admit for the first time publicly, I am happy on my own. I am content. Content is the best word to describe it because happy does still feel a little too strong of a word to describe myself. I think that’s possibly why I notice the emptiness more, because I’m embracing the fact that I am on my own. I’ve learnt to realise that emptiness, though bad in itself, isn’t always the worst in the world. It can be moved through, you have to admit to yourself that you are lonely, and question what you need to do about it. If, when I ask myself why I feel lonely, I am able to actually do something about it, I will. But, if it’s out of my control, you just have the ride through that wave of emotion. There’s no point fighting it because you just won’t win if there is nothing you can do about it. By “nothing you can do about it” I mean when the loneliness goes beyond just wanting to be in someone’s company, or you can’t be in someone’s company, etc. So, I just go with my thoughts – it’s mindfulness – I have the thought, acknowledge it, and then do what I can with it.

Sometimes it is hard and, right now, some aspects of my mental health are a lot harder than others; but it isn’t all bad. Like I said, for the first time I can honestly say I have moments where I feel true, genuine happiness, even if they are fleeting moments sometimes. For the first time since being ill I can see real hope.

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.