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

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.

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.

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.