10 things I have learnt in my second year at university

Here is what I have learnt in my second year at university:

1. It is up to you what you take from the set readings and research – if a section does not feel relevant to your angle, skip it over! The readings are full of so much detail that you should only read what interests you, the rest will feel like a waste of time. You decide what you want to take away from your degree, and that doesn’t have to be every detail. You will kill yourself trying to remember everything.

2. Your real friends will not stop being your friends just because you don’t see each other as much. It will always be the same when you see them, no matter how long it has been. Your real friends will also support you, whether your decisions are stupid or not (though they might recommend against sending certain messages, but you’ll do it anyway). And they’ll be there to help you pick up the pieces when it all falls apart.

3. You need to do a weekly shop and actually cook for yourself. You cannot live off Deliveroo and Dominos. Go on BBC Good Food, get a cookbook, cook with your mates – just bloody cook!! You don’t have the money to order food every day. (I’m still working on this one)

4. Despite how hard they can be, long distance relationships are so worth it for the right person.

5. Hoover your room, make your bed, clean your desk – you will feel as though a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

6. Wake up in the morning, even if you don’t have a lecture. Don’t sleep in every day until 12, you lose half the day which could be spent doing productive things.

7. It’s okay to have some days when you can’t get out of bed though. Wallow in those days so that the next day you wake up ready to start again. Watch Disney films, get your friends over, acknowledge the feeling and address it.

8. You don’t need to go out in order to have fun. I’ve had my best nights this year at home, laughing with friends. Going out is great once in a while but you’re getting old and you can’t handle the sesh like you used to.

9. Tell your friends you love them. Tell them you’re thankful to have them, tell them how much they’ve improved your life, because who doesn’t want to hear how happy they make someone?

10. Look after yourself. Shower. Brush your teeth. Do your make up. Style your hair. Get at least 8 hours sleep. Love yourself. Nap. Go outside. Exercise. Just remember to keep living for yourself, do what makes you happy. You are the one thing in life that you can control, so take control of your life and live it well.

It’s my name for a reason…

I am content. So content. And when I’m with my friends, I am happy. When I am with my boyfriend, I am happy. When I am with my family, I am happy. I am able to feel happy and it has taken me a while to recognise that. One of the questions my doctor asks me at my check ups is ‘Are you able to enjoy things to their full extent?’ and historically my answer was NO WAY. I couldn’t. I hadn’t learnt how to cope with the ‘bad brain’ and it would frequently get in the way during sixth form and my first term of university. But I have grown with my illness I suppose, by that I mean I have learnt how to live with it (and my medication is definitely at the right level at the moment). I understand myself a lot better now than I did a year and a half ago when I started university, which obviously is a natural part of growing up; but when you’re figuring yourself out whilst coping with mental health problems… I just couldn’t recognise myself for a long time because my illness would turn me into someone I wasn’t.

The thing that I had to change was my perspective, or the eyes through which I live my life you could say. I began looking at everything through a mind of gratitude, I took time to think of the wonderful parts of my life, even on the worst days. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy and sometimes my moments of gratitude are as simple as missing an old friend and letting them know. Sometimes my moments of gratitude can remind me of aspects of life which aren’t good. But I am always left feeling positive because I think of every reason I have to be thankful. A part of me wishes I was religious because I could be thankful for God then, but I can’t force myself to believe in something which I just don’t so I guess I look at the world from more of a spiritual perspective… that sound w*nk but it’s the best way I can describe it. I’m thankful for the amazing people in my life and the positive spirits they have brought into my life. And what I seek from the world is love because I sort of believe that’s what we’re here to do: love one another.

So now, I’m here. I’m stable. (I never thought I’d say that). I’m content. And when I think about the love I have around me I am happy. Ultimately, my name is Loveday so it was inevitable that would always I thrive off love.

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)

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.