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)

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.

PSA: I’m not OK.

I’m writing this from a dark place. I have to confess from the start; this isn’t going to be positive. I don’t think. I haven’t planned it. But I’m making myself vulnerable, thinking that possibly this might help someone. Of course, that someone may only be me.

Answer me this, how do you tell the people closest to you everything you’re feeling, all the screams from within your head which are starting to hurt you physically, without seeming to be seeking attention? I think it’s impossible. Opening up guilt-free and innocently is a myth. Bloody hell, I’m exploding from within. I have to show you.

So, here it is,


a segment of my whiteboard in my room (which I put up because I wrote this sort of stuff on my wall before – baby steps to improving behaviours). Here are tonight’s feelings: one serving of self-loathing with a side of guilt for being so selfish, garnished with temptations of temporary relief strategies. Why am I sharing this? Why have I posted this for all the world to see if they wish? Because I’m sick of being scared to admit how I feel.

I want to make this clear to everyone. Mental illnesses are constant, as I’ve said before, some days are easier than others but it’s continuous endurance. Every single day I am under attack from my own brain and it hurts me relentlessly. How do you explain that pain to someone else though? You can’t. That is the most terrifying part; no matter how you try to get it across, nobody else can understand the suffering inside your head. Not even those who suffer themselves. And I have to admit it, there’s not a magic “but” coming next, no sweet phrase of reassurance. Suffering from mental illness is frankly s-h-i-t-e: So Hard It Takes Everything. Always. It takes everything to will yourself to get up in the morning. It takes everything to try to want to keep fighting. It takes everything to hold back when your brain tells you to hurt yourself. It takes everything to remind yourself to keep breathing. (obviously you do that naturally but you get my metaphor, yes?)

I can’t pretend to be fine all the time. I need to admit that I’m struggling. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up (there’s your reassurance I suppose), it means I’m fighting harder than usual. And it’s tough.

But there’s my public service announcement, admitting I’m not very strong at all sometimes, admitting that for the time being I’m not A-OK, and confessing to those who care that I’m struggling. And I suppose the reason I’m sharing this with everyone is, as I said at the start, in the hopes that it might help just one person in any microscopic way.