With a second lockdown in England well underway feelings of loneliness, anxiety and uncertainty are ever present. With the constant change surrounding us it’s no surprise that people are struggling with their mental health.
For some reason I’m finding this lockdown more challenging than the first one. This time round I’m feeling lonelier, more withdrawn and my mood is lower. On top of this the voice of my eating disorder is louder and even more aggressive. Things are spiralling out of control and everything feels really difficult to manage.
I want to remind everyone that we are living in unprecedented times and what we’re going through isn’t normal. We’re living in a world where there is a heightened sense of fear constantly surrounding us and a mist of uncertainty making the future seem scary. I want to reassure you that If you are struggling with everything going on at the moment you are not alone.
Life can feel extremely overwhelming at the moment, waking up everyday can feel like an unwanted chore and finding things to keep you busy throughout the day can feel incredibly hard.
But, as a society we WILL get through this. ‘Normal’ life will resume and we will be able to get back to work, hug our loved ones and live again. At the moment I understand how impossible things feel. I’m struggling immensely and I know I’m not the only one in this position. Hold on to hope, things can only get better.
Humans are people pleasers. We go out of our way to please others, we make plans even if it means sacrificing doing something for ourselves and we compromise our wellbeing to ensure that others needs are put before our own.
Constantly putting peoples needs and desires before our own can leave us stressed, anxious and exhausted. Our minds are forced into overdrive as we’re trying to please too many people all at once. Getting by like this isn’t a sustainable way of living.
To overcome the risk of burning out and becoming overwhelmed we MUST learn to say NO(something I find very difficult!!)
Far to often we say ‘yes’ just to be polite and give someone the answer they want to hear and we don’t think about the impact that saying yes has on us. We don’t think about the stress we’re causing ourselves. To change this we need to alter the connotations associated with the word NO.
We must recognise that saying NO is important. It’s not selfish, It doesn’t mean you’re letting people down and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It means your putting your own needs first and doing what’s right for you.
A huge part of recovery is being selfish and putting your needs before others. This is not possible if you constantly say ‘yes’ to everything and overwhelm yourself. Equally it’s not useful to always say ‘no’ to things. You must find the balance.
Finding the balance is tough but, it’s achievable. There’s no formula for knowing when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’ but, if we’re logical about it it’s easy. If saying yes is causing you unbearable anxiety and you’re having to change all your plans to accommodate others plans then say no. It’s not worth putting yourself through this for someone else’s benefit.
Be honest and kind to yourself. You’re only human. You’re allowed to not want to go out all the time. You’re allowed to say no and give no explanation as to why your saying it. This is your life. Take control and own it.
All of us have fears. These might be fears of the dark, of spiders of small spaces or maybe the fear of failure. But whatever you’re fear is, it’s real and relative to you.
I’m scared of many many things. I hate the dark, busy places and spiders. But that’s not what I want to write about. I want to share with you my ultimate fear. The one thing that absolutely terrifies me, yet the one thing that is inevitable. So, you may be wondering what is my biggest fear? And in simple terms my biggest fear is change.
I’m someone who craves routine and structure. I need to be sure that I wake up at the same time each day, have the same breakfast everyday, perform the same routine everyday etc. Not only does this mean that I’m rigid in my ways and lacking in spontaneity, it also means that the slightest change to my plans causes me to go into a spiral of panic. As well as changes to my daily routine causing me a great deal of worry I also immensely struggle with making decisions about my future as I know that this involves change.
I’ve just turned 18 years old so I’m at a point in my life where large changes are ahead of me. My education will change, my friendship groups will change, my treatment with mental health services will change and my way of living in general will change. And all of this terrifies me.
I could dwell on these changes forever and worry about what’s around the corner but, at the end of the day these changes are going to happen whether I want them to or not. It’s down to me to change my perception of these changes and view them as a new start. A new chapter in my life that isn’t dictated by worry, appointments with therapists and constant self doubt. This is so much easier said than done but it’s an essential belief that I must adopt.
If I want a future filled with happiness and enjoyment I must learn to embrace change. I must recognise that not all change is bad change and that change is an inevitable part of everyone’s lives. Maybe these changes will be the motivation I need to start recovering and challenging the demons in my head. And maybe these changes will open the doors that I need to find my way through life.
I don’t know what the future holds but it’s fate is in my hands and I must take control. Change is scary and daunting but it’s something that I can’t shy away from and neither should you.
Social media is one of the most powerful platforms that exists in the modern world. It’s a space that provides us with the opportunity to interact with others whilst also allowing us a to share our lives with a wider audience. Despite these benefits of social media there are however growing concerns about the impact it has upon peoples lives.
Studies have shown that prolonged use of social media does increase an individuals risk of developing anxiety, depression, low self esteem and eating disorders. I want to explore why this is the case and share my views on why social media needs to change.
As a consumer of social media myself I’m aware of the content circulating amongst users. I’m aware that there are constantly adverts promoting us to change the way we look. I’m aware that there is a lot of conversation and images surrounding peoples appearance. I’m aware that lots of what I see presents peoples lives as perfect. I’m also aware that a lot of the images on social media present the female body in an unrealistic way. It’s the combination of all of these factors that create the perfect conditions for our mental health to suffer. If this continues there will be a major mental health crisis.
The most concerning element of social media is that content promoting weight loss, diets, cosmetic surgery etc are shared with everyone. Just the other day I was scrolling through Instagram and an advert for weight loss tablets popped up. As a sufferer of an eating disorder this content was extremely triggering and unpleasant. These types of adverts are present on all types of social media regardless of the users age. Essentially this means that children as young as 13 (the legal age at which children are allowed to use social media) are being exposed to harmful content encouraging them to change the way they look.
The root problem is that social media it’s constantly telling us that we’re not enough. It’s constantly feeding us adverts telling us how we can and should change our appearance in order to be happier, it’s telling us that in order to get the most likes on our photos we must edit and distort them so we look prettier or thinner and that we must only share the best bits of our lives so that people respect and admire us. However, all of this is unrealistic. It’s not actually achievable. It’s fake.
The truth is that a lot of what we see on social media isn’t real life. Everyone has bad days. Everyone has days where they feel rubbish about themselves. So ignore the adverts telling you to be thinner, to be more tanned, to loose more weight and ignore the photo shopped images. Lets change the conversation and embrace who we really are. Encourage others to stop painting unrealistic pictures of what life is. It will only end with more people falling victim to a horrible metal illness that will eat away at them everyday.
If you’re struggling with what you’re seeing on social media I urge you to limit the time you spend on apps, manage your content effectively and only follow people who make you feel good about yourself.
What would you say if someone asked you where you wanted to be in 10 years time? Would you say that you wanted to have your own house? Be in your dream job? Have your own family? Or would you ask for things to be the same?
When I think about where I want to be in 10 years time I hope I have a career in the media industry, have my family all around me, but most of all I hope that I am happy and healthy.
Right now I’m neither happy or in a healthy place in my life. I’m constantly stressed and anxious about everything.
The reality is that if I want to have a future full of happiness and health I must fight for it. I need to realise that I’m going to have to work really really hard to get better. It’s not going to be a quick or easy fix, it’s going to be a battle but one worth fighting for.
If you want a future bursting with happiness and positivity and you’re not in that place now, fight. Fight for the life you want. Fight for freedom from the negative voices in you head. But most importantly fight for you and your future. I believe in you!
Just last week I overheard a couple in the restaurant I work in commenting on my weight. They were mocking how thin I was by using phrases like ‘she looks so gaunt’ and ‘she must be so cold’. These comments really upset me and made me feel really insecure and embarrassed for the rest of my shift. Experiencing body shaming like this has encouraged me to speak out and provide some understanding about what body shaming actually is…
According to Google the definition of body shaming is ‘The action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size.’ Although this captures what body shaming is in its literal sense it forgets to mention how detrimental to an individual comments about ones body can be.
Many people believe that body shaming only exists when you call someone ‘fat’ or ‘overweight.’ But the truth is it’s not that basic. The issue of body shaming is much more complex than this.
The reality is that body shaming doesn’t have a particular criteria. If you’re negatively commenting on someone’s body, whether that be about judging someone and saying they look too fat or too thin, then that’s body shaming. Anything that involves a derogatory comment about someone’s body its body shaming.
A lot of people don’t realise that calling someone too thin is also not ok. You never know what a person is going through. I’m battling an eating disorder and the people that commented on my weight really didn’t help how I feel about myself. They didn’t realise that what they said has stuck with me and will stick with me for the foreseeable future.
Next time you think about making a nasty comment about someone’s weight please don’t. It’s not helpful or beneficial to that individual. It’s the complete opposite.
Ultimately body shaming all boils down to using your words kindly. Speak respectfully to others and don’t make them feel worthless. Like I’ve said before, always choose kindness.
Recently I’ve been thinking about how people growing up in our society think that it’s ok to speak to other people with no respect, kindness or compassion. I’ve realised that people can be truly nasty in how they speak to one another and it makes me feel so sad and angry.
Although it sounds cliché words DO hurt. People DO have feelings and how we speak to people DOES impact them.
You only have to look at the news to see how damaging words can be. They are powerful and if filled with ammunition can be extremely detrimental to our mental health.
So today I urge you to choose kindness. You have the freedom and choice to decide how you want to use your words. So please please please choose respect, kindness and compassion. It costs nothing to be kind.
I think that the scariest thing about recovery is that it’s in your hands. Nobody else can do it for you. You are the only person who can bring about change. For me this is terrifying. I don’t feel strong enough, brave enough or powerful enough to overcome the Demons in my head. But, I can’t let that stop me.
For me recovery seems impossible right now. I feel weak, tired and beaten. But, deep down I know that if I want to live my life and achieve great things I need to stand up to my illness and get rid of it once and for all because, if I don’t it will continue to take so much away from me.
I have no idea how to go about recovery. There’s no rule book or set of instructions to follow in order to get better. And that is daunting and scary. But, recovery comes in many shapes and sizes and is different for everybody. And that makes sense because, if it was the same for everyone then getting better would be easier. We could all follow the same steps and achieve a state of recovery quicker. Unfortunately it’s not that easy.
Recovering is going to be hard and it is going to be painful and difficult and distressing and so many more things. But it will also be the most rewarding liberating joyous experience once you’ve achieved it. Imagine a life where you’re not stressing about what you’re going to have for your next snack or what you’re going to eat when you go out for that meal with a friend or worrying about your appearance or stressing so much about anything and everything. Imagine that…
That life is possible, that life is within your reach. You are brave strong and resilient and can achieve anything you put your mind to. Nothing about recovering is easy or straightforward. It will probably be the most confusing journey you’ll ever go on but it will make you so much stronger.
Don’t let your illness define who you are any longer. Take control. Embark on your journey. You CAN do this!
Today I found a letter that my sister wrote for me a few years ago. In the letter she wrote about how she wanted me to get better because she hated seeing me sad all the time. 3 years on from the letter and my mental illnesses have a stronger hold of me and and now dictate most areas of my life, so I can’t imagine how she feels now.
It makes me so angry that my mental illnesses don’t just affect me but also my family and friends. It’s not fair. I don’t want them to continue living in constant fear about the consequences my actions will have on my future. And I certainly don’t want my sister, who’s only 14, to have to give up her happiness to try and support me.
So, from now on whenever I feel particularly bad I’m going to try my best to think about the impact of my actions on my family. Right now I don’t care about the way I’m feeling so I don’t want to get better for me. Instead of giving up I’m going to choose recovery for my family.
Even though I’m not recovering for myself at the moment it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy. All the resistance will still be there but I will have a goal to achieve in order to reduce my families worry about me.
Please remember that there isn’t a set of instructions to follow in recovery. If you can recover for you that’s great but if you can’t that’s also great. It doesn’t matter how you achieve your goals in recovery it’s actually achieving them that counts.
At 17 years old I should be living my best life and going out and having fun. Instead I’m at home either studying or stressing out about EVERYTHING! It’s sad seeing all my friends enjoying themselves whilst I’m at home feeling rubbish. It’s taken me a while to realise that this way of life is not sustainable…I need to learn how to live and not just exist.
When someone pointed out to me that I’m merely existing I was taken aback. I acknowledged that my life wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t doing what my friends were doing but I was getting by. Yes, I wasn’t happy everyday or itching to get out of bed every morning but I was functioning. And then it hit me. I’m literally just functioning. I’m doing the bare minimum to get through each day.
Realising that this is what I’ve been doing for so long has terrified me. It’s made me doubt the trust I have within myself because I feel like I should have noticed it sooner. Regardless of this fear I’m still struggling to figure out how to live. The obvious thing to do would be to go out of my comfort zone and meet up with my friends and to be a bit more care-free…if only it was that simple!
At the moment I’m not too sure how to overcome this situation. In time I hope that the support I’m getting today will enable me to challenge my beliefs and share my experience with others to help them and to show that change is possible.
Getting to a point of being able to live again seems impossible for me right now. I’m not going to suggest that it’s going to be easy for myself or anyone else (because it’s not), but I understand that my brain needs time to rewire it’s thinking processes. I don’t want my life to be defined as someone who just existed. If you’re sat reading this and feeling like you’re not living your best life take a minute to evaluate if there’s anything you can do to overcome this so that you can reach your full potential and lead a happier life.