BOYCOTT LOVE ISLAND PLEASE

In the last two summers I have written two blog posts about Love Island; one completely slating it for the trash that it is, and the other seeing the entertaining side of it. So, now we’re in the middle of a new season it is time for another post. Only this one will be different, this one will be even angrier than my first post despite not having seen a single episode of the new series… because people have died because of this show. And it is still being aired.

I want to start with the facts, the harsh and upsetting truth to explain why I have boycotted Love Island this year, which is that Sophie Gradon, Aaron Armstrong and Mike Thalassitis all killed themselves as a result of the show. Now before you start shouting me down, claiming it wasn’t the show that killed them but the ‘fame’ or whatever else, ultimately those three people would not have been thrown into the positions they were in if it weren’t for Love Island. The fact that Aaron Armstrong was even a bloody contestant on the show and yet the damage it did to his girlfriend in turn caused so much damage to him is heartbreaking and incredibly concerning. How does Jeremy Kyle get axed after one suicide but Love Island keeps going after three suicides? Because Love Island makes ITV more money; it sucks the entire nation in and turns love into a game, making you believe you need that Love Island water bottle if you want to be happy.

What I find increasingly worrying is the number of ‘proper’ adults watching the show. I am so shocked by how many of my friends’ parents watch Love Island religiously while their children boycott it. My parents’ generation, in my opinion, should know better than to get hooked on such a toxic show. How is it toxic, you may be thinking, let’s cover some bases again like I did in my last two posts (Here and Here):

DIVERSITY. Um… what diversity…??? The fact that the only dark-skinned, black woman has been ‘dumped’ from the island and the token ‘plus-size’ contestant is barely bigger than a size 12 is depressing. The girls have had work done, some obviously more so than others and there is a distinct lack of wobbly bits which just make it unrealistic and upsetting. How many people are looking at their own ‘bikini body’ in comparison to the Love Islanders’ bodies and wishing they looked different? How many young girls’ self-esteem are we damaging and do we have to keep damaging until we wake up and realise what we’re doing?

ENTERTAINMENT VS REALITY. Okay, so why is it entertaining to watch other people get mugged off and rejected on TV? Why do we enjoy watching people cry as their very new relationships get ripped apart by a random new person entering the villa? I think it is absolutely crazy that these people think they love each other after knowing one another for a few days… but I can fully imagine what the heightened environment would do to their perspective on life and love. A day can feel like a week in the villa, and those who stay in the villa from the beginning until the end will most likely forget aspects of their life outside of the ‘Love Island Bubble’; so obviously she thinks she loves him and they will live happily ever after outside the villa… but bring reality back into the picture, give them expectations and responsibilities and it will all come tumbling down. The reason it (excuse my language, I’m angry) fucks with their heads so much when they leave the villa is because they suddenly have this audience watching their every move and very quickly have to return to reality, but their reality has changed. These people used to be ‘nobodies’ in comparison, now they are judged for everything they do. What they wear, how they speak, who they’re seen with, what they advertise… it’s a minefield which they have to try to navigate with no preparation at all. A person in the villa could think the nation love him/her, only to be ‘dumped from the island’ (I hate that expression) and discover that everyone hated him/her. This person can now sit at home for hours reading everything anyone has ever written about him/her on the internet… They can begin to believe the horrible things they are reading because, let’s be honest, if hundreds or even thousands of people were claiming you were a bitch, or a slut, or a fuckboy, or just a horrible person, you would start to believe it too eventually. Ultimately this show changes people’s lives forever, whether they expect it or not, and it is designed to entertain you. Aspects of the show are planned and staged. You are not watching a reality, but your opinions of the contestants are shaping their new reality outside of the villa based on the one hour of carefully selected clips from their 24 hours in the villa and that is not fair.

Okay, so some of you might say, well, they’ve chosen to go on the show so it’s their own fault. But in response to that I ask, would you say it is a person’s own fault for getting skin cancer because they went out in the sun? No. We make choices without knowing what the long term effects might be. Nobody can predict the future and unfortunately I think a lot of the contestants on Love Island are just hoping it will give them a better future. Nobody would enter a show knowing it would make them suicidal in the end. These people just aren’t aware of how powerful social media is. Nobody really is. Social media influences everything and if we read that Georgia (random name) is a ‘homewrecking slut’ (random phrase) over and over again on Twitter, we’ll be intrigued, maybe even watch Georgia on TV and then join the Twitter army against her, adding fuel to the fire than will inevitably engulf Georgia’s life once she has ‘left the villa’ or whatever.

Ultimately, what I want to say is this:

  1. Love Island sets unrealistic body image expectations. Girls, you don’t need surgery or injections or anything to look good. Appearance is superficial and ‘goodness’ comes from within. You could meet the best looking guy in the world but he might have the personality of a slab of concrete and no moral compass.
  2. We need to stop judging and harassing these people on social media because all it is doing is hurting them. We have to think in the rule of three when speaking: is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If what you want to say/post does not fulfil two of these criteria, don’t say it or post it!!! The most important to be aware of is necessity because, although it might feel necessary for you to post that ‘Emma is a horrible, fat cow’ (random name again), it is definitely not necessary at all, nor is it kind and frankly it’s probably not true because Emma is probably a human not a cow.
  3. We need to stand up to ITV and say ENOUGH. By watching the show you are putting money into their pockets for what? For people to commit suicide after leaving the villa because they can’t cope anymore? Capitalism can be a great system for creating wealth but, when it overlooks the wellbeing of people to maximise wealth, is that not a sort of breach of human rights? When did money become more important than people? Where’s the balance that we need? Why are we encouraging these businesses to exploit actual human beings for money?

 

Over and out x

#BoycottLoveIsland

Love Island 2018 – have I been converted?

I have a love-hate relationship with Love Island because, until it was put on Netflix, I had never properly watched it but I was very against it. I even wrote a blog post about it here and, having reread that, I still agree with a lot of what I said. The difference this year is that I understand why people watch it for entertainment – it is entertaining, I can’t deny that, and you do get hooked onto hoping certain couples work out and whatnot. The show has also handled sex much more sensibly this year, introducing rules after the chaos of last season. However, I still have some issues…

The GIRLS – this has been posted about everywhere already but, there is NO body diversity among the women on the show. All of them are slim, toned, no ‘wobbly bits’ and have probably had work done; which is fine but where are the curvy girls, or the ‘normal’ girls? I get it, attractive people make more people watch, fair enough, but the fact that the only diversity is that Samira is mixed-race is appalling in my opinion.

The GENERAL SHOW – I know I said it was entertaining, and it is, but it’s also sort of brainwashing us… I read a tweet last night that bothered me.img_4436.png

This bothered me because, yes the way Adam behaved was not on, but you can’t just brand every guy that is remotely similar to Adam as someone to be avoided. We also have no idea what Alex might do, he could prove to be exactly the same as Adam, or worse. My point is, every single bloody person is different so WHY do we compare people and assume everyone of a certain appearance or background will behave like one person…

At the end of the day these people have known each other just over a week and we, the audience, know them even less than that because we see snippets from just 1 hour of their 24 hour day… We do not know what these people are truly like, so don’t go idolising one and demonising another because you don’t know what goes on if the cameras don’t show you.

I mean, I’m literally watching Love Island now as I write this and I love it, so I don’t want it to stop but I think people, especially young girls, need to know how unrealistic the entire show is.

Unpopular opinion: I like Eyal

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.

Are we, the student minority, silenced?

According to a study by the Adam Smith Institute, eight out of ten universities are left-wing. And, though it can clearly be argued that right-wing are the majority by simply looking at the government in power, left-wing are definitely the majority within students and young-adults.

What frustrates me is that right-wing supporters are seen as homogeneous, while it is perfectly believable that one might be only slightly left-wing as opposed to an extreme communist. Yet, if I admit to being right-wing, the assumption is made that I am a fascist and a racist. (Plot twist: I’m not)

I am a centrist – however I definitely lean further towards the right; I might even go as far as to say I am a small side step to the right from centre. I liked David Cameron, I hate Jeremy Corbyn, but I was a Milifan (bring back Ed) and I don’t think Theresa May is the best prime minister we could have by any stretch of the imagination. I am NOT a Brexiteer. I think Donald Trump is a ridiculous person to be leading the most powerful country in the world, however it is undeniable that in some ways he has made America great again – just look at the statistics.

I could make the unfair assumptions about left-wing supporters that are made about right-wing supporters but that isn’t fair. Yes, if someone tells us they support UKIP we are bound to question exactly why they do. But if they provide me with a valid reasoning, for example changes in taxes or the greater support for the NHS, I can respect their opinion and understand it. That isn’t to say I’m going to suddenly support UKIP, but I am able to see why they choose to. But if I went to a Corbynite and said I am a Tory, immediately harsh assumptions would be made about me, let alone if I claimed to be a UKIP supporter! Right-wing supporters are not all bigots, they are not all racists, they are not all homophobic, they are not all sexist, etc. That’s not to say none of them are,  but equally there are bigoted, racist, homophobic and sexist left-wingers.

Let’s focus on bigots. Controversial line coming up, but in my personal opinion, I would say left-wing students tend to be more bigoted than centrists or mild right-wing students. There seems to be an identity attached to being left-wing that involves being loud, angry at the world and extremely opinionated with no leeway for changing their minds. We’re all angry at the world at this point. Look at it. Nothing seems to really be going right. Haha punny. But the hostility left-wing students thrust out there is only making the world a more bitter place to exist. I understand being left-wing, I agree with some of their policies, and I don’t believe all left-wing people are judgemental and whatnot by any means – I am speaking generally based on personal and social experience.

I, among many others like myself, have been afraid to admit my political views. Because, what if I get branded a spoilt, racist, bigot before anyone has even heard what I have to say?

 

 

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.

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.

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.

anxiety, episodes, attacks, panic.

I want to talk about panic attacks. Or anxiety attacks. Whatever you want to call them. The reason I want to do this is because, certainly for myself when I first started suffering from anxiety attacks, I had no idea what was happening and wasn’t aware I even had any form of anxiety. I’m going to explain my personal experiences of anxiety – they may differ to those of others – but I hope this might help people realise that anxiety affects a lot more people than we think. You might have had a panic attack and never known.

I have two types of panic attacks. One of them I don’t really label as a ‘panic attack’ because I don’t feel like I’m panicking so it feels like mislabelling. However, the first definitely is a panic attack. It is caused by my social anxiety, which I am happy to say I have managed to get very much under control over the past few years. My social anxiety is triggered by unfamiliar public journeys alone. So, basically, if I have to get the train to somewhere I have never been before on my own I get anxious. When I was younger I physically could not take public transport by myself and would not go out unless my mum/dad could give me a lift. I could not even take taxis – and taxis are still something I find very difficult at times. The anxiety would also get bad if I felt remotely threatened, for example if I was around drunk strangers, or frankly (sorry for the stereotype) strange men.

So this panic attack, how did it manifest itself? I’m going to use an example of when I was with two of my friends (I wasn’t even alone) at a train station in winter. It was about 6pm, so not late, and we were getting the train to meet one of my friend’s mums for dinner. We had to walk down an alley type thing to get to the station and it was dark because of the time of year, I felt slightly on edge. I wasn’t panicking at this point but I could feel my palms were sweaty and my heart rate was very slightly faster than usual. All of a sudden some drunk men stumbled towards us and one started pissing practically on us. They shouted things, though it was unclear as to whether they were aiming their proclamations at us or just the world around us. Immediately my heart rate doubled and I was gasping for breath. We kept walking towards the station. We realised these men were also walking to the station now. See, I can safely say now with the benefit of hindsight that these men were not following us and didn’t actually have any interest in us. But in my head, in that moment, I was telling myself something else. “They are going to rape you.” “They are going to grab you and take you away.” “They are going to kill you.” “You are going to die.” These thoughts whirled around in my head and I could not keep them at bay. Suddenly there were tears running down my face, only I wasn’t crying in my usual way. They were just tears of fear, no sobbing or wailing, I simply and truly believed I was going to die in that moment so I was crying in terror. I was stood on the platform, with my two friends sheltering me, genuinely believing the thoughts in my head. I was shaking, unable to breathe evenly; I could only mutter single words at any one time. Eventually the train came and we left the drunkards behind, but my anxiety remained. For the rest of the night I was quiet, still shaking and my heart rate was still too fast. Now my brain was telling me those men were going to find me. I felt as though I was suffocating that entire night, it took a long time for the panic to subside, and it only really did when I went to sleep.

The second type of anxiety attack I have is caused by my general anxiety. The example I will use here is a sensitive one, which I find pretty hard to write about because of the circumstances, but it is the best example I can give. It was late at night and my ex-boyfriend and I were in bed about to go to sleep. I can’t remember what it was but we fell out over something, it was no doubt stupid but it felt so important in the moment. The reason I don’t like to call these episodes anxiety/panic attacks is because I don’t feel anxious in the traditional sense, I’m not panicking about anything. They just are what they are. I felt this heat surge through my body, almost like the feeling you get when you’re really angry at a person, except I wasn’t angry. This heat filled my whole body and I began to want to rip off my skin to cool down. I was sat bolt upright in bed and holding back tears. I cry a lot so I try my best to refrain wherever possible. My eyes were stinging and I was beginning to hyperventilate. We kept arguing, he got more frustrated as I feel deeper into my episode. I began to get angry at myself, a livid monster was inside my head telling me to stop. “Just stop.” “STOP.” “You are bad.” I was just angry. I cannot explain why this happens, I don’t understand why my brain immediately turns to self-loathing but these bullying thoughts start and I can’t stop them. Suddenly I started hitting myself on the head. I smacked my head with my hands over and over again, causing myself as much pain as possible. I started pulling at my hair, wanting to rip it all out. I wanted to get out of my own body. I felt possessed. It was as though my spirit was trying to escape the prison that is my body.

My episodes happened quite frequently towards the end of my relationship. It is only since the break-up that I have realised the trigger was him. That we just weren’t working anymore. But that’s a different story. There were other ways my anger towards myself manifested itself in my episodes – sometimes I would bang my head against a wall, sometimes I would cut myself. I don’t think people really associate self harm with anxiety attacks; it is generally thought to pair with depression/bipolar/BPD/etc. I think anxiety is often overlooked as a mental health problem because it’s not omnipresent. However, if I can make just one person realise that they are not weird or messed up, that simply they experience mild anxiety (or any other extremity of anxiety), so that they feel more self-aware, then I am doing my job here. It’s ridiculous that people feel ashamed of the emotional sensations they feel in certain situations. Anxiety is our body’s natural defence mechanism – think about fight or flight. That response is entirely based on our anxiety. It’s just that when you label something with “anxiety” it suddenly has very negative connotations. So let’s embrace all that. We should be proud that our brains are intelligent enough to have this safety net in place just by human nature. Wow. I love the brain.

Cool. I’m done now. Hope I haven’t rambled too much. Have a nice day!