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They’re not you. They never will be. They’re not meant to be.

Hey Mum,

Sunday night, not long to go now.

I sit here still missing you. Knowing you’re not coming back. You’re never, coming back, not even for my wedding.

The pictures on the walls glare your smile, your eyes jump out sparkling, glistening, glowing. Are you listening to me? Are you watching down? You’re always around me but it’s not enough. Feeling you, is not enough. You’re not here. Today I got reminded of that in a not so pleasant way. Old memories snuck up and shook my vulnerable self.

I miss you dear mum. I get moments, days where I look around me, like a lost puppy, never physically lonely as I’m surrounded by loved ones but agonisingly isolated because you, you aren’t there. Sometimes I walk out into the crowd and I look at all the familiar faces around me and I look for you. Is it you? No. Is it you? No. Will I find it in you? No. The comfort doesn’t come easily. I look and I can’t get what I’m looking for. I yearn. I lust.

Losing you as a child takes me back to feeling like a child. The little girl in me is reaching for you, calling your name, sobbing it.

I’ve learned a lot in my struggle with my own mental health. In my grief from losing you. I get to stages where I think I’m nailing this horrific process, got it down to a T. Then it happens again. Back to lost little me.

Mum, I will write to you sometimes with love, sometimes with happiness, sometimes with pain and sometimes with anger but I will write to you. I don’t give up on people easily as those close to me will know, and I won’t definitely, give up on you.

They gave up on you, mum. They gave up on you. The system, gave up on you. The mental health system. Maybe you’re free in heaven (or the universe as you believed it to be) but your freedom left us imprisoned. Our hearts chained to a life sentence of ache, a feeling of brokenness. That’s what can happen when someone dies by suicide.

Years pass and sometimes we’re all smiles here without you. Sometimes we’re not. Sometimes we are angry. Why aren’t you here? Why am I late at night pondering such rhetorical questions that will never supply the closure wanted?

It’s the reality of your aftermath. Your memory. Bitter sweet, mum. Bitter. Sweet.

I may search for you among others, I may look for faces like yours, features like yours, hair, height, smile, sound, but I won’t find you.

Will I ever stop looking? Probably not. I don’t seem to want to. I don’t want to give up the fight I’ll always lose. The pain won’t go away either way.

I keep you alive whether it hurts sometimes or not, you’re with me.

I love you deeply. I won’t apologise for my anger and pain. I wish you didn’t experience such to take you away from earth, to take you away from you adorning family. We love you so much. So much, mum.

That’s it for tonight. Visit and be with me soon some how. Just make it happen.

Abs x

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Did it only just happen?

They say grief is always harder when significant events hit. Festivals, holidays, birthdays, babies…weddings. With 14 years of navigating grief experience I’ve had a mixed experience of this. Some anniversaries of deaths have hit hard and some birthdays have been blissful. Guilt seeps in and then dissipates back out.

As we grow, our grief grows too. Not necessarily in mass, but in learning. Development. Without making its process sound like a job specification, grief has its journey too. Does it have a life span? That’s individual. Does it have a destination? I’d say the same for that, too.

In my personal experience I’ve ranged from calling it ‘beautiful’ to ‘drowning and all consuming’ to ‘enlightening’ to ‘sickening’. It often plays tricks on you. Or perhaps they’re not tricks but just small spells of soothing stages. For example, there’s been many time’s I’ve felt I’d made peace with my grief, only to be struck down by it in a lightening strike shortly after. This doesn’t mean I didn’t have any peace with it. I need to cherish and hold on to that. I guess it’s all part of the human experience to dip in and out, go up and down, circle and swirl and not have a fixed state as such. Something I’m learning in my job from others around me, their wisdom and differing views on the definition of mental health and life experience.

Recently I felt like you only just died. I had the same sensations of devastation, anger, sadness and pain. I thought, how can this be happening when it’s over 14 years old. Until I reflected on the above. Those who haven’t been bereaved by someone so close (and even us who judge ourselves myself included) may not be able to identify. They may assume you should be ‘moved on’ to a specific point by now…or with hope, they have an open mind.

My mum is my guiding light and sadly, with every second that passes, memories begin to fade. Sometimes the opposite happens and new ones materialise from nowhere or derived from subtle triggers. In one way and in one positive, it means I get to reinvent my mum. However I want her. Wherever and whenever I need her. Imagining her reaction and advice. Pretending she’d have all the answers. Recently I was reminded this wouldn’t necessarily be the case. I don’t mind. I have that luxury of imagination to use. If my heart is broken from the reality, the least I can embrace is that much.

I’m very lucky I have a handful of people around me who encourage me to be open, to share, who want to know about mum. Who will say her name. Who will keep her alive. Who won’t mind the tears and accept them as a normal emotion.

Many won’t want to talk about their grief and that’s okay. It’s individual and we all have the right to ours.

Abs 💛🌻

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Self Awareness vs Self Care

Evening all!

Two very interesting subjects in the title of this post…

They’ve manifested themselves out of interest stemming from others around the topics and my own feelings about the two which are heightened at present.

A big thanks to those of you who have written in and reached out after my #MHAW18 Stylist video which you can find here – I hope this blog helps with some of your comments and queries!

To anyone new I always write from personal opinion and experience so a reminder there is no claim of being an expert here, only my individual interpretations like usual business on this blog!

Firstly, let’s dispel the myth that to practice ‘self care’ you are in need of it as a result of a mental health problem. Self care stems from the very basics, and sometimes to keep a feeling of ‘wellness’ or on top of things in our often busy lifestyles, it’s essential, not a luxury, and not just a term for those identifying with issues to look after themselves. I personally think it’s a lovely term, albeit a bit flowery…I think for this reason in itself it has some stigma attached to it, but I love when I hear my friends using it so casually because it can be, just an important part of our everyday.

Now, there’s an important ‘Vs’ in the title, because I think a lot of the time (credit to many) we are often ‘self aware’ (another earnest term but with similar occasional annoying connotations) yet we don’t always feel able to best serve our own interests to match this with ‘self care’.

There are many ways this can happen and areas in which this relates to but for the purpose of aligning this post with the present (and keeping this piece a healthy length!) I’ll use just one of my own examples of this which I think many will relate to from those who’ve been in touch –

When things are going well (work and health wise, socially, mentally…) although busy, they feel manageable, you may feel a sense of ‘I can do anything. Let’s say YES to more in life!’ and you begin to keep adding to your schedules…you realise the thought of them are beginning to overwhelm you but feel you can handle it and keep on arranging…*cue sarcastic tone – “oh aren’t you doing well, being ‘busy’ (what a glorified term) keeping up (barely, beneath the surface it’s a tight one!) excelling at multiple areas of life (wearing yourself out to do so that bit too much) keeping on pushing yourself”…eventually you can guess what may happen. You become aware that things are going to be a bit much realistically to handle and juggle, flow will be unbalanced and you may feel you let others down as well as potentially yourself. Overwhelm. Yet, with this self-awareness, do we always act on the self care that could compliment it? Do we always take charge and ownership over what could help us? Or are we too busy wondering what others would think, experiencing feelings based on their reactions as well as ourselves? Ah, reaction. One thing I’ve noticed I’d like to work on is the ability to respond (in real time, not social media acceptable time) rather than, ‘reacting’ taking a step back, acknowledging, re-booting and so forth. For doing this will help to think before committing to a task/plan that may in theory sound great, doable, rewarding, enjoyable etc but could equally tip things over the edge. Also, think about how your network gets back to you when you put you first (you deserve it, believe me, you can’t pour from an empty cup as the saying goes). Do they respond to you (with compassion and empathy if you’re lucky!) or do they react? Do they take time to understand your perspective, listen with open ears and support in ways they can? Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in our own agendas for other people’s time we want when actually, we may need to consider the other in this. Have they reached out and told you things were tough? I personally praise and applaud this honesty, self awareness and courage and think we could all promote the basics that are needed sometimes such as self care and decisions that prioritise this. Supporters can also take note in how self aware they are too.

It’s not an easy balance and I for one am still learning. I definitely fluctuate and go a couple of steps forward and even more back at times but let’s see what I can do to neutralise the scale.

Time to unwind now methinks. Keep speaking honestly, reach out to your support networks and have an open mind. We’ve all got our struggles, mental health issues or not!

I hope this has helped those asking about self awareness and self care, including how to support a friend. If we can try to be more assertive in what we need and try to not feel guilty for it this could really help but I know it’s not easy. We’re all on a journey…let’s keep learning.

Lots of love,

Abs 💛🌻

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Life, loss & love

Mum 🌻

Sharing my favourite ‘grief’ quote on this day that marks half my life without you.

Mum – “mum, mum, mum”. I miss saying “mum”, again. It’s been a bit hard to say that beautifully missed three letter word around wedding planning times because I realllllly wish you were around. I miss you so much. I really do.

The sun is shining beautifully today. You are shining.

I never know how I’m going to feel on ‘your days’. Birthdays, anniversaries. You can’t pick and choose these things.

I had a great day yesterday. I booked the day off as I usually would if it was a weekday (one of your days), but it was more to enjoy this bank holiday, the weather, be with loved ones and take in an incredible weekend I had the last one with some of my favourite people. A weekend you would have been at or involved in. Dancing away, celebrating with me. Which I’m sure you are, wherever you are.

This blog is an extension of a social media tribute to some lovely other mums I have had a long the way since losing you.

Despite how heart achingly awful it is, death is an inevitable part of life and loss is a huge teacher in one way, in fact in more ways that one. Bare with me, hurting, grieving people. A lot of beauty can come from it. Time is needed for healing. In grief, so much is learned. So, so much. Especially from exceptionally painful experiences when loved ones were so close to you.

You learn about yourself, you learn about the person you lost (you may spend time frantically trying to put puzzle pieces together on their lives or finding out things about them you now can’t ask them), you learn to cope, you build resilience, you learn to share emotion which brings about such pain and realise you can go on. You learn to choose how you might live without that person. As per the quote above.

Beautiful writing is made in grief. Beautiful music is made in grief. Bereaved souls have encountered something that will change their lives. The immediate aftermath may feel like your inner world has crashed, years after too, there’s no time limit or linear process, that belongs solely to you. I’ve learned to own mine.

You may find when someone passes people send condolences for the first few months, offer a hand, lend an ear or arms for a hug. You may be numb at this time. Then all of a sudden the support dissipates. And you’re still surviving, breathing your daily grief.

It’s not their fault. Life goes on. That’s another area grief teaches you about. But you will continue, you can continue, and ride it out. Like waves, it can come crashing like you don’t expect it too, but you learn to surf. Boy…do you learn to surf.

Let people know where you’re at if you can. Do you want to talk about the person? Do you especially not want to talk about that person? Let on, expand your support. Know that it’s okay, and that you are not alone.

I used to think so many aspects of my grief were ugly. ‘Guilt, anger, insecurity, lack of trust’, it felt horrible seeing them arise in myself, but over time I’ve learned to be accepting.

Death is a part of life.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this death, mum, is that I have confirmation and evidence that my love for you was blooming colossal, huuuuge, if it hurt this much to lose you.

In loving memory mum, keep shining down on us all. We adore you. We miss you. You live through us.

Love Abs xxx

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Happy birthday mum – 2018

Happy birthday mum 🌻

I miss you!

It’s 2018 now. You’ve been absent from planet earth for half of my life. So much has happened and somehow I got this far.

You were 28 when you married and I share that with you as I plan to tie the knot this year.

I like sharing things with you as it makes me feel closer to you.

A sad thing I share is a version of the deep depression you suffered with behind your giant smile and heart.

I try and be open with the reality of struggle I’m experiencing as I want to be here. I will ask for help. I need to get better. I want to live a life that is full.

I may be predisposed to mental ill health but I will carry on through the thick mud and live for those brighter days, the sheer love that family and friends show, the beauty that life has and can bring. The memories that can be made. The laughter that can be had, you know the type – where you can’t breathe easily because you’re laughing too hard or it comes out as silent cackle.

Mum, this year, and it’s only February, I got that frightening taste of what it could be like to be in such distress that your mind becomes foggy and your vision blinded and you wonder how you can plough through.

This year. This year. Also known as by family and friends as my year. The year where my inner child was supposed to be jumping for joy at wedding excitement, the year of a new job that was everything I could possibly wish for on paper, the year I would look to purchase my first place with the love of my life. This year.

This is how I know, this is how I know, that mental ill health is not a choice. For who would choose such turmoil? It is not always in your control.

What I can do is try my best. Coping mechanisms, medication, talking therapies, family, friends, art, writing, time, love, exercise, nutrition, sleep, rest…

I miss you so much and my suffering can be as painful that I often want to be with you mum. Hold your hand wherever you are and be together.

I’m not ready yet though. I have my life here to live first. I know I have a lot more to give to my fellow loved ones in the here and now. I know that somewhere, somewhere, I will find that light in my belly and let it shine again.

I love you with ALL my heart. I miss you with every possible inch of me.

Today, mum, I’ll start the day with a cup of tea and a dark chocolate Mcvities biscuit…your favourite.

I will be with my family. We will toast you. I will have a massage (I heard you were the best beautician there was! Oh how I wish I was old enough to have experienced one from you before you departed!).

Mum, on your birthday, I hope you are at peace wherever you are. I send a virtual hug.

I ask in return for guidance of some sort. I have some incredible women around me but nothing is filling that hollow hole that is sore and cold where you are missing, nothing will replace ‘mum’.

Be here with me in some way mum, make it happen.

I love you forever,

Abs x

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There are differences between #empathy, relating and trivialising. #mentalhealth #mentalillness

Hello and a happy new year. How lovely is this card from my dear friend Jodie!?

I’ve been quite quiet on here as I’ve been struggling which is usually when I’m able to write the most, but it felt too ‘band wagon jump like’ in the midst of other Christmas and New Year blogs.

I often write to mum around Christmas and new year. Fill her in. Tell her how it’s been. How she’s still missed. How she’s still needed. How she’s still loved by sore heavy hearts. It’s a time people reflect on growth or challenges overcome. I couldn’t this time around though. I knew the year that was approaching was supposedly, ‘my year’. ‘Our’ year for me and the hubby to be. The year of the wedding. The year of the new job. How could I possibly be sad? Hmmm.

My anxiety and very low mood flared up in the festive season and that ‘first week back blues’ thing people made a fuss of? Well, that hit hard. Those memes galore that flooded your social media accounts only touched and humoured what I felt like I was going through. Thick mud and fog before my eyes.

It’s been a long while or so it seems since I had a panic attack and twice now it’s risen right to the top of my throat bursting at the seams, lusting to come out, but it got caught some how and resembled a choke and stomach wretch instead. How pleasant.

I’m making a really conscious effort though at times, to be a bit more real when answering ‘how are you?’ when I have energy because, well I am part of the movement trying to get people talking without shame (which I still at times struggle with) and I don’t always want to wear a mask, even behind a phone screen.

It’s been interesting the responses that have come. The unsure replies. The dismissive and head straight on to a new conversation types. Those who I believe intend well but blur lines between empathy, relating and trivialising. The ‘everyone gets that. We all just have to get on with it’. The ‘but you have nothing to be sad about. It’s your special year!’. Luckily I haven’t had any of the typical, ‘There are people out there much worse off’ which I sadly think is probably a very common response to those suffering.

I think some people may be (in their minds) trying to ‘make you feel less alone’ by jumping in with their own examples or minimising your experience when perhaps what they could do is simply give you space to express what you need to, offer empathy and be non judgemental.

Trivialising or explaining how you’ve felt something similar but you ‘got/get on with it’ can be unhelpful and lead the other to feel that they’re weaker and unable. That they should be able to manage. However, it is important people know that it is actually strong, to be talking about it, reaching out, support seeking, or just simply being, when your mind is working against you.

Recently many of my days have sadly been filled with a heavy weight of negative and intrusive thoughts and I’ve been wearing a cloak of anxiety that feels sewn to the skin. This is not because I am not grateful. This is not because I am not looking forward to my year ahead. This is just me describing my mental health and I am not to blame. We don’t pick our times to struggle, or perhaps we wouldn’t at all.

A big thank you to my partner who inspired this blog post and responded to my difficult time with active listening skills that would put the inventor of them as a concept to shame. Compassion so beautiful I’ve never received it that organic before and for the gift of his time and patience. He pointed out that not everyone will understand and reminded me how loved I am despite my inner dialogue wandering how that could possibly be.

Thank you to all those around me that have actively been there in presence or through other means.

You make this world a better place and the universe sees your kindness.

Abs x

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Understanding the uniqueness of an individual and their #therapy and / or #mentalhealth treatment journey.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed (‘experienced’ is probably a better word) a substantial ‘spell’ of living without anxiety and lows. How great is that? I mean, I’ve had a few, but so does everyone. It was manageable and wasn’t debilitating in the excruciating sense I’m used to.

Old me used to believe that these mental health problem free times were just temporary. That I’d always go back to depressed and anxious me. Hence why I referred to it as a spell. Part of me still thinks it may be, just that. However, my mind set and possibly beliefs, are changing. I think it’s a result of experiences, therapy, and family support. If you’d read the article someone wrote about me (though it reads in first person) in Stylist, you’d probably think I believe that a strong part of my experiences of anxiety and depression are inherited or passed on due to my maternal and paternal mental health history. Suicide is rife and there’s some diagnosed and non diagnosed mental illness/issues involved. I also (some may say strangely) feel somewhat paradoxically comforted by my similarities in sharing some of the distressing experiences my dear mum had. Despite the intense pain, the crisis, the hurt, the deep sadness and the aching heart and chest, I felt connected with my mum through these horrendous feelings.

Now, I’m not saying it won’t come back. I know very well any inkling of feeling (normal levels of) low or anxiety and I quizzically and nervously wonder if it’s the full blown bouts coming back for a spell or for good. Yet, somehow, my optimistic and I think more rational side of my brain, is beginning to think that no matter what, I’ve learned some darn good tools to look after myself for when these times may appear and stick around.

For ages in therapy, I’d often wander and question my therapist, is this working? Still, week upon week I suffer. (This was only a couple of months ago I had this conversation). I experience intense low. Paranoia. The negative side of my brain was jointly in charge with anxiety and together they reigned. I was also so very sceptical of CBT and it’s only after it having been explained to me and talked through a few times, do I see the light with it a bit. I can actually use those techniques. I think this is really important to note, here. I feel the same about counselling from when I was a child. We aren’t always going to ‘get’ the purpose or function of mental health treatment first time round. Some might, and whoopie do for them. They usually spread light and fairy dust around others raving about it (and in some way I guess they should, and genuinely, that’s great news) yet it can either make YOU feel you’re a hopeless case when even though you know everyone is different you still question why YOU can’t get the hang of it. This could feed your poor sense of self worth and esteem and fuel your lack of confidence. Or…if you’re prescribed the same treatment and hear it works for someone else, you may become cynical and a tad arrogant staying stubborn (again, perhaps rightly so at the time for you, I’ve been there) in the belief that it just doesn’t work for you. Having come through the other end…a little bit…I would say it doesn’t hurt to be a bit open minded about it all. I guess this goes for all therapies, medication and attitudes toward recovery.

We are all unique at the end of the day. We will all experience treatment if not similarly, then differently, and that’s okay. Also, don’t time limit yourself. I was famous for, “Yes, but I’m an adult now and I should be and know better. I understand my mental health why aren’t I getting better. Yes, I get what you’re saying and I’m fully self aware and we’ve been talking through this sh*t for long enough so why aren’t I over it by now?!” This happened again. And again. And you guessed it, again. In therapy. I’d judge myself for not being ‘fixed’ yet. When in all truthfulness, I think I’ve realised that perhaps, the length of time it’s taken/ing me, is in fact, right for me. I’m still learning and I’m going to continue to. I’m in no way writing that I have the * Magic * answer and I’m cured (I won’t join the fairy dust sprinklers just yet and I don’t think I ever will – maybe that’s the wrong analogy as it’s too nice – who wouldn’t want fairy dust!? But you know what I mean!) What I am acknowledging is, that we all have a different journey when it comes to therapy and or medication and how we view it.

A non judgemental approach to how someone is getting on is key.

I want to highlight the importance that if you have ‘come through the other end’ or are a supporter of someone going through treatment, please try your best not to impose your views on what you think is right for them and where they should be by now. It’s not helpful or therapeutic. If they ask for your advice, that’s a different ball game. Just think about the terminology you use.

One blessing I count is that I think not one of my friends or family have ever tried to tell me how far I should’ be in the process. Or what I should try and how mindfulness is the answer to all things in life etc. It may work for you, but it doesn’t mean you need to enforce it on someone else or criticise if they can’t get to grips with it. Real Mindfulness wouldn’t allow for that anyway, but it’s a misused buzz word and an example of what can happen when someone else finds ‘the magic cure’. I went to an evening recently where someone said essential oils are the future! I mean, I love lavender oil as much as the next person but it’s not the leading treatment in my eyes! It may be for that person though, and that’s okay.

I’m proud of where I’m at right now with regards to it all. I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’ll try and keep an open mind to how I navigate the ropes of coping mechanisms when things aren’t great.

I’ll hope the same for others too if they’d like.

Abs. 💚 x

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#BodyPositivity #BOPO #ED #recovery #mentalhealth 


Okay.

I don’t imagine this will be an easy post to write. Usually I write pretty quickly as I just type what’s in my head. I wonder if I’ll publish this post or whether I just need to write. Or whether I’ll send it to the author who inspired me. Who knows? 

Most of you know I sparingly write about my battle with a couple of ED’s or ‘disordered eating’ sometimes I refer to it as. Hey, I can barely even type the words. I’ve carried more shame and self stigma with them than I ever had for anxiety and depression. I’m still not even there yet – to be fully open and maybe I never will be. Here’s some baby steps though as I know it can help others. I’m giving it a go. For any other of those ‘half in the closet’ type people suffering, this one’s for you. 

Earlier this year I was in group CBT (cognitive behavioural) therapy course for an ED I still can’t even admit to (note – my language is wrong here, there’s nothing to ‘admit’ – there shouldn’t be shame – I still have a long way to go). I thought parts of it helped but after reading the incredible book from Megan Crabbe aka @bodyposipanda – I really wish my group and I were enlightened to the ‘body positivity’ movement as part of this supposedly healing and helpful process. I sincerely think body positivity should be acknowledged and even the community consulted upon when designing these seemingly non co-produced (sooooo important – big believer in the power of lived experience expertise) courses that are prescribed to ED sufferers. This is my opinion, of course. Also based on a group for a specific ED so I can’t talk for all! 

I was scepticle about the concept I’m not going to lie. I look at a few ‘BOPOs’ (Body Positivity peeps) on social media and I think wow. Go them. They’re awesome. I’m not them, though. I’ll jump on that wagon when I get to a physical place I want to be. Low and behold there’s a whole chapter in Megan’s book titled ‘I’ll do it 10 pounds from now’. It was really educational on diet culture and how for so many years it’s been deeply ingrained and dictated to us how (especially women) we should look. Body positivity promotes self love at any size. At any health status. The latter being really important actually and something I think being new to it quite a few people may struggle with. We’ve been taught ‘Health’ = looking a certain way. As our outsides represent our insides. Wrong. 

Pre BOPO judgemental me would not get to grips with that latter part. I was guilty of, “but surely that’s not healthy”. BOPO teaches and preaches that we are ALL worthy (and damn straight we all are) of self love. Life’s too short. So many judgements are made and myself included have a long way to go with adjusting that mind set. There’s definitely a few influences that has shaped mine and I’m sure there are many in common with what may have shaped yours.  

I’ve struggled with eating distortions since the age of 13 as I wrote about for B-eat eating disorder charity here.

There are times I’ve also loved my body. Not for the right reasons though. People often comment on my shape – “Hourglass.” “Lovely and curvy ‘but not too much’.” “Suits you because you are tall.” I grew up thinking these were nice things. When actually, my body can be whatever it wants to be. I don’t have to scrutinise what I eat. Restrict. Binge or exercise for the purpose of a ‘figure’ that is built for others or my own false sense of approval. My body does more than represent the way I look. It looks after me. It enables me. It functions. It holds organs.  I am aware my weight fluctuates and like the book says – we all have a rough set point weight we end up being around naturally and it’s okay. Whatever that is. Except I’ve been taught to think it’s not okay. I’ve had comments about it. I look ‘well’ if I’ve lost weight. I ‘need to lose’ when I put on. Well, no, actually. I don’t need to do anything except accept. Accept me for me. 

As a girl, correction, woman, who only months ago ran up to a family member tears at the rim of her eyes, sharing that I hate my body so much I have to cover it with all the duvet even when I’m hot and bloated when I’m in bed because I don’t want to, correction, can’t bare the thought of seeing it or even feeling it, I can say that BOPO is important. It is needed. And that EDs are real. They are mental illnesses that deserve to be taken seriously. It’s not always about body image. It can be so many things and people need to educate themselves. 
As the girl who is in awe of some of the way people in her circle are open with their body, getting changed without leaving a room. Wearing things I didn’t think we could/should because media tells us only certain shapes should wear those. I’ve never thought I could have that freedom. As the girl who was fixated on the eating habits of others around her because an ED controlled most her thoughts. As the girl who is definitely not there yet but strives to be and will try and retrain her mindset. 

I urge you to think before you judge or speak about the physical appearance of someone else. Or your own for that matter. 

There’s enough shit in this world without us having to go around putting down others  based on the twisted messages from media giants and passed down negative and unrealistic ‘ideals’ from older generations. 

Here’s to BOPO and body autonomy. 

💫 x 

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#Wellbeingatwork #WMHD17

It’s World Mental Health Day!
Having worked in different mental health charities it’s usually a day that leads other awareness days with various campaigns to get the universe talking and thinking about mental health. Each year there is usually a theme involved and this year it’s ‘Wellbeing at Work’. 

I’ve been contributing to feedback about workplace wellbeing for a while now where I’m at and in my previous work place I created a ‘Wellbeing at Work’ reflective space initiative for my team. We did monthly meditation and shared openly. Innovation is important and we need to champion the voices of those who may be struggling with their mental health. After all, being able to work with a mental health problem is not always a walk in the park. I started out part time and as I got older and realised the cost of living a life I desired combined with the expectation of me from society, I aspired to work full time. This may be ‘normal’ to many. Of course. It’s a given. “Work hard, play hard!” they say. You’re labelled if you don’t. Whatever that label may be, there’s a strong chance stigma is behind it all. 

I remember the first time I went full time. 2 part time jobs it was that made up full time hours. A 2 day and 3 day post. I was overwhelmed. Anxiety caved me in and I was very, very low. I didn’t last long in the 3 day one. I was given 2 weeks off to ‘recover’ and make a decision as to what I wanted to do. My 2 weeks off to recover were mostly spent catastrophising and feeling like an automatic failure.  (I know, I know – failure comes with learning and resilience but at the time it made me feel like that as a whole person. Not just my work self). I spent evenings calling Sane Line for emotional support and Samaritans in the day time. I didn’t want my family to think I was struggling. I was ashamed.

Many don’t realise there’s a lot of reasonable adjustments out there that can be requested to support people with their mental health at work. From flexible hours, to working from home, to meeting amendments and more. WRAPs (Wellbeing Recovery Action Plans) are also available. The problem is, sometimes we struggle with self stigma. Which can affect our ability to ask. Or worse still, workplace stigma. 

I know I for one self-stigmatise/criticise and fear workplace stigma even if it’s all in my not so well head, it still feels real to me. 

“I’m not good enough”, “I don’t deserve to be here”, “they’d be better off without me”, “They’ll think I can’t do the job”, “they’ll think I’m rubbish”, “I’ll fall behind”, “I’ll let others down”, “they’ll think I don’t deserve and shouldn’t be here”, “they’ll want me to leave”. 

👆🏻Me. Most times my mental health goes on a downward spiral. 

I was having a conversation just the other day with a friend where the familiar question formed as to whether work was affecting mental health or mental health was affecting work – as living with mental health problems, sometimes it’s really hard to tell what way round it is. 

The worst part about all of this is that we may not talk about it. It’s become more acceptable to talk about ‘Burn Out’ but more as a risk to an organisation if someone were to ‘burn out’ rather than a risk to the individual’s mental health. 

Feeling isolated on top of what you are already are experiencing can add to the turmoil. Even if you have one or two trusted folk to confide in, try and let it out, you don’t need to suffer in silence. Managers and leadership in a workplace should be working toward understanding and best practice when it comes to managing staff who are experiencing poor mental health at work. It may not be easy to have faith in support but it’s worth a try. You do deserve it and you are so worthy. 

I know this blog refers more to workplace wellbeing and self employment will differ but do reach out. Whoever that may be to. 

✨Have a very good World Mental Health Day ✨wherever you are in the world 🌎

Uncategorized

The Lonely Reality. 

Hello,

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I went back to the feeling before my first ever post where I couldn’t bare the thought of people reading what I wrote but then I realised it’s up to me how and if I share my blog and what therapeutic purposes I utilise this platform for. I also remembered the ever so important impact of when I share these thoughts and feelings through words, just how much it can help break down the isolation for others struggling and offers empathy, hope and peer support. Everything I stand and fight for. 

Living with mental health darkened times can be, ‘a lonely reality’ despite the many struggling with it.

Being a smiley and friendly person, I definitely don’t appear how I feel at the moment. The countless conversations I’ve had today. “How are you?” “Yeah I’m good/okay thanks how’s you?”. It’s such effing bollocks. Excuse my French not that I particularly care much right now. Going through a bit of an angry spell too, yay. It really is though. We all know it. Sometimes I’ll be sure to say ‘ okay” thanks’ instead of ‘”goodthanksbut more than often I’m caught out. Especially in scenarios where ‘being more real’ is not an easy option. People don’t have ‘time’ to hear my stuff. I might not always have ‘time’ to hear theirs, but I guess it really depends how we encapsulate and define time. If anyone was really in need and as for loved ones, of course – time would be made. 

Luckily in writing, (and my vow in this blog to be as honest as I can) I am able to fully articulate how I feel however the hell I want to. 

“Write.” My therapist said. And so here I am typing on my screen (not quite her preferred method of me writing!). Letting it out. 

Things are a bit rubbish at the moment. There are some lovely things happening in my life don’t get me wrong. Really exciting things. That make me warm, giddy and bubbly inside! It won’t deter this dark smokey grey fog in my head though. 

“Challenge the negative thoughts” they say. And I do try. When I’m able to, I acknowledge and think ‘wow, how negative. It’s hard to escape from though’. It’s like wading through mud with a limp, headache and not to mention a mighty huge back pack. 

That’s just the depression side. There’s anxiety too. Chipping away at my chest causing spikes of discomfort, even if I’m having a not particularly anxiety inducing conversation with loved ones. I seriously wish it would just DO ONE. Leave me ALONE. There’s the paradox though. The ‘lonely reality.’ I don’t want to feel ‘alone’ in this. Yet having such a seemingly different happy exterior to my crying interiror is already a pretty lonely place to be. 

I’m tired. So tired of this. It physically manifests and drains my energy. 

I’ll keep wading through the mud though. 

Thank you to the loved ones who see through this shiny hard shell. The ones that hold my hand through it. Keep holding. Keep squeezing. I need the healing energy to support me through this. Here’s to the ones that love me through the good, the bad, the ugly. When I don’t feel deserving of it, you have no idea how much it means to me. I’ll try and believe I’m worthy. 

For anyone reading struggling too, you’re not alone. I feel you. 

Abs x 💛