Living with Anxiety

Hey!!

I started writing this 3 weeks ago. It wasn’t the planned post for today, but I noticed that the topic was getting me angry and I didn’t want to write in a place of rage so that post will have to wait. 

My anxiety is the calmest of my mental illnesses, sometimes I physically forget about it because I feel like I’ve made so much progress since I got diagnosed with it when I was eleven. However, my panic attacks are less controlled. Sometimes I come across my triggers and I can’t see, or breathe, or talk and I feel like I’ve got such a heavy weight on my heart and I can’t help myself. In my last year of university, I was having panic attacks most weeks, mainly after tutorial meetings where despite being ahead, I was overwhelmed with feelings of failure and stupidity. After lockdown began, my panic attacks became much more frequent and as the final submission dates crept forwards I couldn’t help regretting thinking I was good enough for university. Sometimes trying to explain that to people was the hardest thing, having ‘made it this far’ ‘why was it so hard to do the last two assignments’; but that’s the thing with my anxiety I can’t control when I’m going to feel useless and though I know it’s somewhat stupid I can’t stop it. 

My triggers come from my past experiences and especially ones surrounding education having grown up in a household of high achievers, it was difficult being the only person who wasn’t educationally bright. This means that in times where I put my brain to the test, I often underestimate myself and flashbacks of being told horrible things from teachers throughout school come back and haunt me. I don’t personally believe that past experience triggers will ever leave, and that’s probably what makes them even harder as if I don’t learn to control them then I will probably spend the rest of my career having panic attacks over the fear that my previous education could impact my chances of job hiring. But despite that I am learning that despite failing my A Levels; I have been accepted to numerous jobs, my undergraduate and postgraduate degree. So as much as I know I can’t just say GCSE and A Level grades don’t matter- I am doing pretty well without them. 

My anxiety is generally tame; I don’t really speak up out of turn, I don’t generally put myself in situations which make me uncomfortable and I usually have to hype myself up before something or I risk having a panic attack if things aren’t in my specific type of order. I’m a very organised person, my friends would always laugh at me because I would organise holidays, day outs, everything basically weeks or even months in advance. I didn’t really understand why I felt the need to do this, until I started to let other people take control or not plan everything and I noticed my anxiety heighten. Though I know I can be flexible if I have to be, I know I can’t push myself too much with that knowledge. I’m not a spontaneous person, I don’t think I ever will be. The most spontaneous I’ve ever been is deciding to go out two hours before, and I’d still be a ball of stress on those nights. 

I have learnt a lot about myself over the years, my insecurities stem from not feeling good enough, feeling used and feeling judged. I never felt that I was enough, I still don’t believe it most the time. I believe I am easily replaced, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing. Yes, I can be replaced, there is billions of other people on Earth and if someone finds something better either in relationships or friendships and I get left behind it happens. It sucks a lot but not everything is forever. I would be lying if I didn’t feel that some of the relationships, friendships or situationships I have ended up in over my 21 years didn’t feel like I was being used and not actually cared about. I recently worked out that I attract people who feel pretty insecure, I take their pain on as I don’t want anyone to feel that way therefore suffocating myself and they walk away with a new sense of freedom. This is toxic. I deserve better than this. But I don’t give myself better than this. Judgement is inevitable, no one is completely judgement free. I’d love to say I don’t judge anyone but of course I do in my head, I try not to act on my judgements though I know I have slipped up in the past but yeah people judging me is nerve-wracking. 

So, how do I deal with it? I am very good at acting confident and going home and crying to myself. If I am really anxious about something, I usually put it off, I’ll sit and cheer myself up instead. I find keeping a tight schedule, not necessarily sticking to it but at least having one and trying to keep to it does keep me in a much more positive place. I find breathing is so important, and that sound so stupid but learning how to control your breathing and grounding yourself. I tend to focus on one thing around me, this stops me from metaphorically floating away and ending up in a larger panic. I do genuinely advocate for crying. I don’t think there is anything that is genuinely more important than getting a good cry out the way, and depression forts. Depression forts are so important, that’s my happy place. In a load of pillows and blankets with Miranda or the Office (US of course) playing with some fruit and chocolate. Nothing I love more.

My anxiety is worse over my health, that’s actually where it hits the roof. I am a bit of a hypochondriac. I think the worst because then if it’s anything better I feel better. Over my three years at Plymouth University I went to almost every GP there was at least once for an appointment, blood test or ultrasound. I basically lived in the GP or hospital. When I’m ill I sometimes feel so out of control and out of place that not only does my head race, but my confidence drops as I feel like something major is wrong with me. I know it’s not true and I am just overreacting but even so I can’t help feeling that way. I know it is annoying to people around me, and I know it is very dramatic to be as cautious as I am, but I’ve left things before and the consequences were difficult. 

I am a woman with a lot of control of her life. I know what I want to do, maybe not specific jobs but at least the field. I know where I want to be, and I know how to get there. My health stops me. I want to be a mum, but I am infertile, the chances are minimal and that hurts me. I want to exercise and lose weight, my PCOS stops me, my chest is too big to exercise comfortably. My health stops me from living quite literally my best life. If my health didn’t get in the way so much maybe my anxiety wouldn’t be as hurtful as it is but I truly can’t help it. 

This is a bit different than where I was expecting this post to go. I’ve rewrote this so many times I forgot what the first draft even consisted of. I have more anxieties, but these are the ones most relevant to me currently. I’d just like to point out I do plan on writing about my PCOS and infertility later on but every time I’ve began I’ve ended up crying so that’ll be a while. I am coming back to London on Saturday after a much-needed trip away and my posts will be more regular than forgetting sometimes, I hope that tomorrow I get my act straight and put something up to post Saturday but can’t guarantee. Anyway, I’ll try and do another post on my anxiety another time going into more judgements and opinions of others. Thank you for reading !!!

Things to Live For

Heyyy

I had quite a few messages after my last post from people apologising for stuff and honestly that was not my intent and I truly do not want or need any apologies from anyone. This blog is not my way of bashing anyone, it is truly just a way of speaking out about my experience and making a positive out of something which was and is such a negative part about my life. I couldn’t help but feel anxious that some people felt I was in-directing them when that was never my goal. So once again, I do apologise to anyone who felt guilty or any negative feelings after the last post, I didn’t mean it like that, and I mostly write expecting it not to be read so its mad seeing the viewers figures.

I also want to address something, I was going to do a post today about Generation Z and the power we hold through social factors in regard to racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and feminism. I actually spent all day writing that and I was almost at the end when my mother shared some concerns; whilst I do actively read, donate and share as much information as possible I am not a voice to listen to. I do not have personal experiences (apart from being a woman, and even then I am at privilege being white), and though I do believe one of the most important parts about being an ally is sharing and not just partaking in the cause as it is the ‘trend’ but because you truly care about equality throughout; I do not believe my opinion is truly needed at this moment of time. I would love to sit and write a piece on looking at it from my perspective but all in due time, right now is about taking a step back and listening to personal experiences of those. ACTIVELY listening, ACTIVELY reading and ACTIVELY sharing. Black people, Jewish people, Muslim’s, Yemeni People, Transgender people ARE NOT A TREND. They need equality. WE SHOULD ACTIVELY BE TRYING TO GET THEM THAT. (I know that there is more going on in the world and I am trying to better myself by keeping more up to date in world news from outlets other than the UK media as I know how biased they are, I suggest you do too)

Now onto today’s post; after I wrote my letter to 16-year-old me I actually felt so relieved. I don’t think I realised how the last five years had impacted me, like I knew it was hard but the list of things I’d change just kept coming to me. I’ve been seeing a lot of ‘Things to Live For’ jokes and trends on Tiktok and Twitter and I thought I’d share my list that kept me going and continues to keep me going.

  • Children. I don’t know if I’ll ever have my own biological children, but I will love them no matter what.
  • Wedding. I was going to ignore this one, but I know that young me would be slapping me right now, I’ve always envisioned the perfect wedding. I know what type of dress I want; I know what I want. But I also am happily single, it’s not tragic or sad or anything like that. I like being single, so if I don’t get married then I don’t. I am content with that. 
  • Career. I’ve had so many different ideas over the years ranging from hairdresser to lawyer and even to this date I have no idea what I am going to end up doing. I know I want to work with kids, preferably in a youth work or adoptive situation but at the rate my brain works in three months I might have changed my mind. 
  • Charity. I’ve always wanted my own charity in relation to mental health. I know that this is a main life goal of mine and for a very long time this was probably the only thing keeping me going. I want to be able to spread positivity through mental health and I wasn’t going to be able to do that from six feet under. 
  • Pets. Having grown up surrounded by cats, I still have 4 currently and I love them to bits, I’ve always wanted a little dog, so I definitely am holding out to having my own little chihuahua or pug.
  • Moving away. I’ve lived in London my whole life (minus university), it has too many bad memories. I need a fresh start from my trauma, and if moving up north is the only way for that to happen then that’s where I’m off to.  
  • Short-Hair. I always vocally said I’d never cut my hair short having seen horrific photos from being young, this is actually probably one of the only things on this list I’ve already done. Christmas Eve 2019 I left my house telling my family I was going for a trim and came back seven inches lighter. I am growing it back out now, but I’ll never say never again. 
  • Nails. This is probably one of my sillier things to live for, anyone who knows me knows I am OBSESSED with fake nails. I want to have got every colour possible. I’m quite a basic boring person and I mainly get pink’s or red’s, but I want to be more adventurous with my nails.
  • Travelling. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some truly incredible places at just the age of twenty-one and I think it’s because of that I just want to explore more. Problem is I am a massive snob, especially about hygiene (anyone who knows me knows I constantly have UTI’s from refusing to go to public bathrooms) so until I have a lot of money, I don’t see me travelling that far to be honest. 
  • New Years. For my 21st birthday I was lucky enough with a group of my friends to go to Berlin for New Years. Sitting there counting down to midnight I remember thinking this will be the best year of my life, imagine entering a year in your favourite European city surrounded by friends knowing your 21stbirthday is coming up. Since then I’ve just worked out that New Years is usually so miserable as I end up at home asleep by 10pm, I want to keep visiting places for New Year’s outside of London. Keep the magic alive for longer.
  • Money. For a lot of people (cough my sister cough) money is the number one goal. I wouldn’t even put it in my top 10, obviously I want to be comfortable in life and I don’t want to sit stressing about money but the whole money buys happiness thing isn’t true. I want a life where I am happy no matter what.
  • Friendship. To all my friends, my ex-friends, my future ex-friends I wish them nothing but the best. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up alongside some of the most amazing women and men, and truly they are going to do such incredible things. I wish happiness, resilience and love to EVERYONE who has taken a step alongside me in life. I remember you all, I may be losing my memory, but I remember you all. 
  • Change. I want to live in a world where everyone is equal. I want to live in a world where mental health is normalized and not stigmatized. I want to live in a world where I am not cat-called every time I leave the house. I want to live in a world which is ran by my generation and has the strength and courage of my generation.
  • Cody Simpson. I want to meet Cody Simpson. Enough said. I want to hug Cody Simpson. I want to cry about meeting Cody Simpson.
  • One Direction. I want one direction to come back. Please. PRETTY PLEASE.
  • Parents. I want to live in a world where I can help support my parents, they put me through education, and they continue to support me massively. I want to be able to treat them; they truly deserve it. 
  • Education. I want my PhD. I want to be a doctorate. 
  • Resilience. I want to continue to strengthen myself, I want to continue to be happy and I want to be able to bounce back from whatever the future has for me. 
  • Social Media. I want to be able to see a time where social media isn’t so competitive. Where women don’t drag women, and everyone lives happy lives not caring about how many likes it receives. I also want to quit social media, I’m terrified of being out of the loop, but it negatively affects me, and I want it gone from my life. Someday I’ll be strong enough to get rid of it. 

I think that’s all of my main things to be honest. None of my goals consist of restriction or change to my character or self, because I don’t need to change. The personality I have now is resilient and passionate, a woman who has seen and been through her fair share of trauma but continues to fight all negativity. Be true to yourself. You only get one you, if there is life after death it is probably not as yourself. Manifest your future, shoot your shot and spread happiness. If there is one thing, I wish for everyone it is true happiness. I hope you all receive it one day. 

Promise I’ll plan my next post more, sorry!! Byeeee

Also the following post is a non-guilt tripping list of things to live for, it is probably the most impressive list I’ve seen and I truly am grateful I came across this tweet as I think about it quite often. If you need something to keep you going, read through.

My Depression Journey

Heyyy

I have been really struggling to write a blog post on anxiety recently, I begin writing and end up in a state of panic which ruins the rest of my day. I didn’t realise how much speaking about this type of stuff would trigger my memory and my ‘flight’ reflex. I have a tendency to run away from my problems, I don’t like facing reality and would rather push my feelings far down than begin to work through them. 

I first got diagnosed with depression when I was 12 years old, and as I said in an earlier post, I didn’t know what depression was and therefore ignored the diagnosis. I’ve always felt negative about myself; I was bullied growing up. The word bullying got so desensitized from the constant ‘anti-bullying’ campaigns the school would put on to make it look to parents that they knew what was going on in our lives when they had no idea, it lost all meaning. Most of my bad memories from high school are fuelled by these bullies, now I look back on it and I know that those people did it as they were insecure. Insecurity is a dangerous game, it makes us act in truly disgusting ways, but I can’t help but feel sorry for those who bullied me as they never won. 

There was a girl, I remember her name so vividly, but she never went to my school. She was a friend of someone who I was friends with, she was the first bully I almost lost to. I was young, I acted confident, but I would cry constantly, I didn’t have many friends especially not at school and I was really struggling with finding myself. This girl didn’t know me, but I was a threat to her, she was jealous of my friendship and she truly did act out of spite. If she remembers me, I’m sure her memories of me are just as negative as mine are of her. She was the first person who told me to kill myself. I was fourteen. That phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’; that phrase is truly bullsh*t. Words almost ended my life and I know others where it did. I genuinely believe I would’ve preferred someone to throw a stick and a stone at me than everything I heard about myself.

Some people reading this will not realize how much their words impacted me. I heard every single joke about my surname, I heard every single joke about my forehead (it is large, got to give you that I guess), I heard every comment on how ugly I was, on how stupid I was, how I would never find someone, etc. I spent years hating myself, picking myself up on every small mistake I would make as I was scared it’d be noticed, and I would be made fun for it. I spent so many years wanting to disappear, I actually wrote my letters to my family and friends. I’m so grateful they never had to find them or read them. 

I worked hard with my depression, I started finding my safe spaces and my happy places. I realised that swimming positively impacted me, I met so many great people through swimming and though I don’t speak to really any of them now I honestly don’t think I would’ve made it this far had it not been for them. So grateful. I started going to concerts, my parents will probably note this phase as the worst phase they watched me go through. I was ADDICTED to concerts, the thrill of it, the excitement, it was everything to me. My first concert was my favourite artist ever, Cody Simpson, I was 14 and it’s definitely in the top ten nights of my life. I had no worries, I was happy. After that all of my money went to gigs, my parents actually didn’t know where I was most the time though I’m sure they sort of knew I was lying about where I was. I made so many incredible friends, they really got me through the darkest stage. 

I got made fun of a lot for being ‘obsessed’ with these singers that didn’t know who I was. I really didn’t care. That was my safe space, if it wasn’t for Cody Simpson, I never would’ve become a ‘fangirl’ and I don’t think I’d actually be around right now. The community I became a part of truly saved me, I thought I was a lost cause. I hope that one day I will finally meet Cody and though I’m sure my anxiety will stop me I will get the chance to tell him that he saved me. My depression was bad, but music was the only thing that kept me going, I was addicted to the serotonin I would get from music.

I first supposedly ‘recovered’ from depression when I was 13. I didn’t really care. I thought that was the end of the word; I was 15 when three of my friends (from different fanbases) took their lives. I spiralled and then came the second diagnosis. Then came the second bout of depression, around this time was the most suicidal I’ve ever been. I failed mocks and started acting up in school because I had given up with myself. I didn’t actually think I would make it to results day. I had given up with wanting the best for myself. 

I was 17 when I got told I was ‘recovered’ again, I didn’t believe that it was true but with the diagnosis of my bipolar disorder it made sense that I always felt depressed even when I wasn’t diagnosed as depressed. The word ‘recovered’ lost its meaning. I was never going to recover from it, I could only hope that I would learn to live with it. 

Sure enough, the depression came back. I was 19. I gave up fighting it, I let into it and let it eat me alive. I physically spoke out about how the re-diagnosis meant nothing because I didn’t have it in me to fight it again. So, I didn’t. I am still depressed; I will probably always be depressed. But I am also happy, I have made it so far. I’m sure I will get told I’m recovered again, and I am sure that I will celebrate despite knowing it’ll come back. Life isn’t about the fight though; it took me years to understand that. My life so far has been such a rocky journey, apart from the deaths in my life there is nothing that I would change. I never gave up, no matter what happened, no matter what life through at me I never gave up.

My depression journey is not simple. Sometimes it eats me, and I can’t do anything. I sit and watch Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine Nine or Miranda for the ten thousandth time; sometimes I can go weeks without a low point but other times I can’t go a day without it being low. I believe there’s a reason why I am still alive, there is something I am meant to do before I can die. I look forward to that, and maybe one day I can be free from my depression but if not then I’ll cope. I am not a depression story; I am a twenty-one-year-old graduate woman with so many amazing qualities. I am more than my depression and I know that.

Debunking University: Is it really the best years of your life?

Heyyyy,

Before I get into this topic, I just want to say that I am so incredibly grateful for the support this blog is getting. I never ever expected to have so many views so early on, or even ever, and to know that the audience is wider than just in the UK where most the people I know are is incredible.

Now onto the topic, I’d just like to first of all say this is my opinion. I can’t comment on other people’s experiences because I’m my own person but what I can say is my opinion is definitely shared by a lot of students I have met and spoke to. No one ever told me prior to university how it would affect me, or even what university consisted of; as far as I was aware PRIOR TO JOINING university was about the nightlife and the work would be easier. That’s not true. It couldn’t be any more from the truth.

I always wanted to use university as a fresh start, how I saw it was I deserved a fresh start after everything I got put through during school. I was not a good student and receiving my unconditional from Plymouth University was a sign to me, it was finally my shot to move out and on from the past. I had people I knew down in Plymouth already and did ask about the night out scene, I got told it was very rave-y and most the clubs were very drug-fuelled. I don’t do drugs, never have and never will so finding that out terrified me. I knew I’d never be peer-pressured into anything as I am strongly anti-drugs (for myself) but I still didn’t want to risk feeling outcasted before I even got to university. My best advice is don’t just look up what is the best university for your course but look at the city and find out if you will be comfortable there for three years.

I was never a clever person, as I always say my sister has the ‘book smarts’ and I have the ‘life smarts’. I was made for living and I have a lot of common sense, sorry Cayley you really don’t have any. Therefore, choosing a university based on grades or league tables wasn’t even a way of thinking; I applied for five universities which with my predicted grades I could not get into. I received 3 offers and 2 unconditionals off a personal statement which I didn’t write by myself; I truly believe I got into university on a fluke, but I took that and turned it into fate. I was terrified, my school never did Sociology, so I actually had no prior knowledge of the topic. I turned up and I immediately knew I was going to have to work my a** off to compete with the other students. 

Choosing a course was very difficult for me, I knew I wanted to be a psychiatrist and that I didn’t want to go to university. I told my head of sixth form this and he told me to go for Sociology, I didn’t realise that for the exact job I wanted I was doing the wrong degree. It took me a year and 2 months to find out that I was doing the wrong degree, I was broken. But I carried on, I looked at other career routes that would be possible and tried to ignore the fact that my dream job had just been ripped from me. I know that I should’ve done the research myself, I do know it is partly my fault, but I also know I wouldn’t have gone to university had I not been told this was the only way into that job. Please if you read just one thing about my blog, DO YOUR RESEARCH. You do not want to regret it down the line, it’s heart-breaking. 

Lectures. Go to your lectures. I am such a hypocrite but trust me when it got close to the deadlines, I regretted it. I used to not go if my friends weren’t going too, as I would feel too anxious to sit alone, trust me I regret that so bad. I wish I’d done more to help my degree, but I genuinely didn’t take it that seriously. I think I got too hooked up on the fact I was away from home that I forgot about the education part of why I was away from home; that and my extensive list of health problems over the course of university which left me hiding inside a lot. 

Nightlife. Before university I was a huge lightweight, one double vodka lemonade was usually enough for me to be tipsy and I generally avoided clubbing as I was not keen on being in a room with a bunch of sweaty people. University changed that; in my three years I can count the amount of times I missed a night out I was invited to on one hand. I learnt that to enjoy clubbing you need to have a good group around you, all of my friends at university had such good vibes that clubbing was just so much fun. I should really advocate that drinking yourself to oblivion doesn’t solve anything and can be very regretful, but at the same time that would be very hypocritical of me. Just be safe with whatever you do. Also, you don’t need to get drunk every time you get out, I’ve got so many memories of good nights out where I’ve had two drinks maximum. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say some of my funniest night out memories come from being quite intoxicated, once again just be safe and watch your drinks (there are some really vile people out there who will spike you and it’s so scary please watch out).

They don’t lie when they say you meet your best friends at university. They don’t lie when they say you work out who your true friends are when you go to university. I moved 4 hours away from home and I kept in constant contact with my friends, I was doing weekly check-in’s with majority of them making sure things were definitely good. When I got re-diagnosed with depression, I stopped calling people and I noticed people stopped speaking to me, rarely would I get a message first especially not one asking how I was doing. I realised I had very little true friends and cut off my one-sided friendships, that was hard especially at a time where I felt so lonely and down. I met some amazing people at university and though I don’t expect I will stay friends with them all there are a few who I hope to keep forever. 

The people you meet in freshers rarely end up being your friends 4 weeks down the line, your flatmates don’t always work out but if you are lucky you end up meeting your best friends and making the most incredible memories. Moving so far away from home it wasn’t as simple as if I was feeling lonely, I could go home or visit my mates; they lived pretty far away from me and same with my family. Luckily, I met some incredible people but not everyone gets that lucky. The best advice I could give regarding this is go to a university away from home, get that freedom but don’t make it impossible for you to get home. If things go downhill you will need to get home, I can’t even imagine how much money I spent on last minute train journeys. I luckily could afford it but not everyone is in that position. 

So, all in all, university was the best years of my life but looking at my life that statement doesn’t mean much. I entered university anxious and I left still insecure but so confident; I have the most amazing friends out there and I know for a fact that I cannot shot alcohol. University was the worst years of my life too, I battled with numerous health problems, physio for my knee, two relatives’ deaths, a friend’s death, re-diagnosis of depression and some other things which are very much hidden away. I wouldn’t be the woman I am without these experiences; I wouldn’t be the woman I am if I hadn’t spent countless nights crying to myself or drowning my trauma with vodka (trust me IT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA). 

To anyone beginning university, honestly, I wish you the best. I hope you have all the positives of university with none of the negatives. Girls always travel in packs, don’t leave a vulnerable girl behind EVER; watch your drinks also. Unfortunately, disgusting people breed around students whether it be students or not and they take any chance they can. Don’t feel pressurized into anything; drugs, alcohol, sex or anything. If you don’t want to do it. Say no. Get out of the situation. I know it’s hard but look after yourselves. The world isn’t as rosy as schools tend to portray it as when pushing students towards university. 

Anyway, hopefully my next post ends a little bit lighter than this did. I’m trying to keep to a schedule of posting but I’m currently quite busy sorting other things in my life out so I’m trying my best to get things out every other day but can’t promise anything.

Byeeeee

ALSO HAPPY ONE DIRECTION 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY. I’ve been in my Harry Styles top all day listening to them basically hoping for some content which is yet to come. 14 year old me is quaking at the suspense.

Letter to a 16-Year-Old Me

Dear 16-year-old me,

You make it to 21. This letter actually comes from 21-year-old you. You are alive at 21. 

Some advice for coping with what happens over the next five years:

  1. Live in the moment. Collect the memories. Don’t spend so much time held up in the past or looking at the future. You miss so much. 
  2. Keep swimming. It was the only sport that kept you in shape, it was stupid to quit. You will regret that when you try on a dress for your 21st and you have a breakdown in the changing rooms over your ugly body.
  3. Stop checking in on people who don’t check in on you. It’ll hurt at the start but trust me it’s for the best. Half the people who claimed to be your friends ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS. 
  4. Trust your mum when she says someone is bad for you. It may feel like she is controlling you, but she is right. Not everyone wants the best for you, some people want to see you crash and burn. 
  5. Don’t sl*g off plastic surgery. You will end up begging your parents to let you get a breast reduction. You will look like a hypocrite. 
  6. Don’t put off medical things. If you need to go to the doctors, go to the doctors. Don’t listen to your sister who says you go too often. Things do go downhill. Way too quickly. 
  7. Spend as much time as possible with your family, your friends come and go but your family is always there. You will regret it down the line.
  8. Stop putting expectations on your birthday. You will spend every birthday crying to yourself, it becomes a tradition. Get used to it. 
  9. Study more. School grades didn’t matter as much but if you’d worked harder maybe your degree would’ve been a higher classification. Yes. You go to university.
  10. Go on as many nights out as humanly possible. You will miss them when the clubs shut. Hangovers are temporary but memories are forever. PS: don’t drink vodka lemonades in the club, you don’t like the taste of the lemonade and it leads to a lot of throwing up OR JÄGERBOMBS.
  11. You will lose your memory; it’ll suck but it’s a symptom of the depression. Take as many photos as possible, write down the good days. You will thank yourself for that in the future. 
  12.  Get your heart broken once. You officially have feelings. It hurts, it really sucked. But you handle it well and you bounce back. 
  13. Go to as many concerts as you can, they are still your favourite thing 5 years later. They are still your safe space. They are still your happy place. I hope that never changes. PS: Don’t drink before Post Malone. You will not remember a concert you paid £150 for. The guy wasn’t worth not remembering the concert, he wasn’t worth the hangover. 
  14. You might never have kids. Prepare for that. 
  15. Boys will try to use you for your chest. You are more than two balls of fat on your chest, ignore them. Don’t take it to heart, boys are stupid. 
  16. Speak out about your diagnosis. It’s scary but it was worth it. 
  17. Don’t feel pressured into losing your virginity, it happens when you are 19. People will assume and say nasty things, ignore it. Virginity is a stupid concept anyway, nothing changes. 
  18. Accept that you cannot control the future. The sooner you accept that the less you will cry. Hold out hope though, it’ll be worth it. 
  19. Don’t miss your train. You will sit and cry outside the train station and then have to do arguably what is worse than a walk of shame back into your flat kitchen. 
  20. Take coronavirus seriously. You will look like an idiot later on.
  21. Answer the phone to her. Nothing is more important than that phone call. It was not just a catch-up. It was not your fault. 

But even without these tips you are okay. You are 21 (and a half) and you are a university graduate. You are about to begin your postgraduate degree, you are happy. Life is rocky for the following five years, and I expect it will be all the way through for ten years at least. But you are happy. That’s all you ever wanted. You got it. You have your low moments, but you are happy. I promise you it got better. 

This post was a bit different but within all the advice I could give myself, I hope other people find comfort in realising you cannot rewrite your past. I accept and understand that. I know how I would change it; I have twenty-one ways in how I’d change the last five years. But I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for all of those things. They shaped the woman I am right now. I couldn’t be more grateful for that if I tried, and trust me I have tried.

Coping with Familial Grief and Loss

Heyyy

The plan was never to post two posts in one day but considering the circumstances today was the best day for this post. This was actually the first post I wrote and over the space of three weeks I have literally stripped it bare. Anyone who knows me personally will know I am currently out of the UK visiting my family after the passing of my Grandma in March. I’m not a good person at coping with grief and loss so there isn’t much advice to be given from me, but I hope that in my experience comes some positivity. 

I first lost someone when I was four years old, it was my Grandad. Considering how bad my memory is I can’t believe I can still remember him but the memories I do have are so vivid I genuinely don’t think I will ever forget him. I was angry for so long, I physically hated him for dying; for missing my big moments, my growth and just not even being around. It took me fifteen years to finally let go; I stood in the Remembrance Garden of the crematorium screaming, crying and letting it all out. I don’t remember much of that day apart from screaming “you were supposed to stay, you should’ve seen me grow up and you died. And there’s no happy ending, this f**cking sucks”. The worst bit about being angry about someone is when you know you can’t get over it, my Grandad isn’t magically going to sit in front of me and apologise for leaving or dying. It was swallowing me whole, and I didn’t think I’d be able to breathe ever again. In October it’ll be 17 years since he passed, I will still cry and I will still miss him but I will breathe and I will continue to make him proud because that’s all I can do.

When I was at my lowest points I remember thinking if I am going to grow old, I want it to be quickly. I didn’t want to stay young; I didn’t want to be a child. I wanted freedom. I grew up too quickly, I took advantage of time and I messed up so badly. My Mormor (my Grandma, I’m half Finnish so that’s what I call her) passed in March. She was ill for a while and I was a terrible granddaughter. I had so many opportunities to be a better Granddaughter, but I put money ahead of family; I went through a stage where working was more important to me than taking at least a week out to come visit my Grandparents and other family members. I don’t have many regrets, but this is my biggest one. She was an incredible woman, she truly loved us to the end and fought till her last breath. She was so proud of the fact I was at university and about to graduate, I knew how proud she was of me for it. Although I am glad, she’s no longer in pain, I just wish I would’ve had longer and maybe she would’ve then seen me finish my degree. Coronavirus stopped us coming out for the funeral, so I didn’t really deal with my grief. I still haven’t, though considering tomorrow is the memorial I am sure it’ll hit me like a train.

Luckily my list of familial grief isn’t long. I don’t think I would be able to cope considering how I refuse to deal with my pain. Over the years I have received a lot of advice to deal with grief and honestly the best advice is ‘get out of the angry phase’. Do whatever it takes to stop being angry. It’s okay and NORMAL to be angry but it can physically break you to be SO angry at someone who is dead and can’t respond to your anger can have big consequences. Unfortunately, death is inevitable, but as I grow older, I really hope that I work through my emotions quicker as leaving them to burden my growth only messes things up more. My favourite thing to do now is reminisce on memories that I have unfortunately forgotten, remembering the love I have for them both and my family who is still alive. I’ve always loved the concept that on your death bed your favourite memories snap in front of you, and my life from now onwards is dedicated to filling that concept with as many good and loving experiences as humanly possible. Losing someone is one of the hardest things you have to go through, but just remember you are not alone. Keep your head up and how loved you are, not only by other people but by yourself.

This post genuinely left me having a breakdown throughout, I still have a lot of things to work through myself including at the memorial tomorrow, but I hope that when they look down on me they are proud of the woman I am and am continuing to become. If you are struggling and feel like you don’t have anyone to speak to, my socials are linked to this blog and I am literally free most the time. I will always make time to help. 

To my Grandad and my Mormor who I would love to envision reading this from wherever they are. I miss you so much. I’m sorry I was angry, I’m sorry I took advantage of our time together and I’m sorry you don’t get to live my future alongside me. I’ll do you both proud though. Always. 

Class of 2020

Heyyyy

I had planned on putting this post up two days ago, but I have been busy spending time with my family and keep forgetting till I’m tucked in bed about to sleep. I’m currently away on holiday so my days are very peaceful but sometimes filled meaning time generally gets lost and I forget about my commitments. So therefore, I had to edit this again, it isn’t really specific to mental health, but it is about the best three years of my life and I do want to quickly congratulate any class of 2020 graduates. We didn’t get the graduation we deserved, but we all did amazing.

July 16th, would’ve been my graduation day had Coronavirus not ruined my summer, so in light of that I just thought I’d have a little look back on what got me this far. 

When I left London on the 16th of September 2017, I actually placed an internal bet on how long I would last at university. Having been terrible at education prior to university I genuinely didn’t think I would cope with it; I didn’t enjoy clubbing and was a terribly embarrassing lightweight. My first term of university gave me a first in my assignment, I learnt how to drink, and I realised I thoroughly enjoyed clubbing. So, I kept going and despite what life threw at me over the three years I kept going.

I never wanted to go to university, I didn’t think the debt would be worth it and had I done the research myself I probably never would’ve ended up at university especially for the course I ended up doing. That being said I did thoroughly enjoy Sociology and I am so grateful that through it I have been able to look at things differently through economic, political and social lenses. It really opened my eyes. 

When Coronavirus ruined my final year, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I thought that just maybe in a regular year I’d work the summer part-time and figure out what was next for me. But I didn’t get that option, the job field is tight and especially as I didn’t do exceptionally well the chances of me getting into a good job were so thin, I had to make decisions quick. I chose to go back to university and do my masters, I didn’t really want to do it straight away because I was exhausted but now that I have it firmed, I’m genuinely so excited to begin my new adventure up north. 

I feel for the Class of 2020 having been in it myself, university students got no support, no financial support (shouldn’t be paying full tuition for zoom lectures- that’s not right) and unless you are lucky future plans are at a hold. 27,000 pounds at least to finish and graduate in a year which is ultimately going to lead to a recession consisting of job insecurity, smaller salaries and just a general smaller job field. The Class of 2020 has been royally screwed over, and though I am biased I feel for them. Graduation ceremonies have either been postponed or cancelled, and though I know there is more to a degree than the cap and gown- usually that marks the end of a degree but chances are I’m going to be closer to the end of my postgraduate degree before I walk the stage for my undergraduate. 

Class of 2020 deserves so much more than they got, I can’t be the only one who expected Summer 2020 to be the best summer of their lives. But for now, that summer is somewhere in the future. So, as I mourn what would’ve been one of the proudest days of my life and wait for the rescheduled dates to be released, I put on hold my future to live through a global pandemic that ruined my plan. 

PS: I don’t think we should attack people for being upset over stuff Coronavirus ruined for them just because some people are dying over stuff. This has the same bad energy as telling someone to stop being upset as people have it worse. You have every right to be upset over something you’ve missed, or your future being undetermined. 

Promise my next post won’t be like this, byeeee.

PPS: I do have an idea to talk about mental health and university, speak about the pros and cons and just the overall experience but it is yet to leave the title page so it’s still in writing stage.

Living in a Global Pandemic

Heyyy!!

Once again thank you so much for the positive comments, I had so many messages and despite feeling quite overwhelmed with my emotions recently writing this blog has been taking a load off my shoulders and making me happier. Like some people know, I’m currently on holiday on an island off of Finland visiting my family and balancing writing and editing with wanting to spend as much time as possible with my family is proving quite difficult but I’m happy to be a bit sparser whilst I’m abroad. I literally have a list of thirty titles typed up ready to be written in depth, but I thought clearly about current climate and decided speaking about the current climate made sense. 

I still remember clearly January 31st when I was in Wetherspoons having lunch with my friends after being at the doctors in the morning and my friend turned to me and said I’m so worried about coronavirus, like with my asthma I’m high risk. I honestly thought she was overreacting; I was like don’t worry it won’t come to the UK and it definitely won’t affect us. I was ill a lot of February and subsequently missed a lot of university and didn’t really keep track of the news or what was turning into a widespread of coronavirus. I was so wrong. I came home in March after the news of my Grandma’s passing and I knew that the same week my flatmates were travelling up so we could go to Magic Mike and Lewis Capaldi in London. I still didn’t really know what was going on with coronavirus and thought my parents were overreacting telling us to lather up on antibacterial gel and stay away from masses of people (despite going to a concert with thousands of other people). So being the idiot I am I just carried on with my day to day life pretending this virus didn’t exist- I didn’t want to miss Lewis Capaldi to be honest (he was insane! Thoroughly recommend seeing him live!!)

After my week in London things escalated very quickly and travel bans were placed stopping the travel to my Grandma’s funeral and my university shut giving us little to no resources or hope for finishing our degrees. On the day the library shut, 23rd of March, I jumped on what was my last train from Plymouth to London and left with so much uncertainty and fear. Lockdown was announced as I was jumping from tube to tube in Central London trying to get home as quickly as possible; and when I got home, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. That first night marked one of my biggest panic attacks over the years. The thing is, and it’s really not the universities fault, but university students were given no support. A zoom call to go over slides isn’t the same, two weeks extra on a deadline doesn’t mean anything when you can’t get hold of resources, safety nets mean nothing if you don’t understand the modules. I cried most days; I didn’t think I’d ever finish my dissertation (and other essays); even with my strict schedule I still didn’t believe I would actually pull it off.

My mental health dropped, I stopped looking after myself and focused on typing my essays. I was eating horrifically, my skin flared up for the first time in 4 years (which in turn made me more insecure) and my panic attacks were so often that between March 23rd and May 15th I had 7 days where I hadn’t cried. I had support and I’m so grateful for my family and friends who genuinely are probably the only reasons I got through lockdown. I have a very low immune system, so I was told to shelter and keep myself to myself as much as possible. This didn’t really help my mental health and feeling very claustrophobic, having little to no privacy and not having an outlet to get my feelings out without offending my family was extremely difficult. I didn’t want to lose it and say hurtful things but constantly being watched over was draining me. I had so much pent up stress that I would struggle to focus and found myself using unhealthy coping mechanisms to pass the time of the day. 

I got myself into countless arguments as I was appointed ‘lockdown police’, but in a time of life and death I couldn’t understand how many people were stupidly meeting up with friends or leaving the house unnecessarily. My mental health means I pretty much rely on spending time with friends, doing stuff and keeping myself busy so being cooped up with none of that AND COPING without breaking lockdown to see my friends I couldn’t get why other people couldn’t understand it. I had huge anxiety surrounding my own health and being a carrier of the infection, the thought of which genuinely led me to many anxiety attacks. I drank quite a bit of alcohol at the start of lockdown to calm myself, and it wasn’t till two weeks back that I realised my glass of wine was my first drop of alcohol in a month, something which I didn’t think was possible. The turning point was waking up with one of my worst hangovers in months, throwing up countless times and not even leaving bed till dinner despite having been stuck in lockdown with no reason to be that drunk in the first place. If I did one thing during lockdown, I am most proud of it was to stop drinking excessively and frequently- something as someone who admittedly did use alcohol as a coping mechanism through university, I didn’t think it was possible.

So, what did lockdown teach me? Despite all the panic attacks, breakdowns, low moods and tears I completed my degree and recently found out I got a 2:2 overall (a grade I’m not best pleased with but considering my situations I’m proud I even finished). I stopped drinking so much, I spent some much-needed time with my family, I focused on my mental health and worked through a lot of stuff that was dragging me down. I also got rid of some pretty toxic people in my life, which in turn actually led to me being happier in general. Lockdown taught me a lot and tomorrow is what would’ve been my graduation if coronavirus hadn’t happened (another post coming- if I finish and begin writing it) and I hope that when I do return back to London in August I maintain the state of content I am currently in and hopefully love myself and my life a bit more.

Thank youuuu for reading, there wasn’t much advice but if I could give a little bit of wisdom- CUT OFF THE PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T CHECK IN ON YOU DURING LOCKDOWN. If they didn’t bother when they literally had nothing else to do, they are not worth your time. Live a happier life, it’s better to have less friends but them be good friends than keeping dead weight along with you. Also, as I mentioned I had a eureka moment at dinner tonight and I am hoping to finish another post for tomorrow. BYEEEE.

Being Diagnosed

Hey!!

I had so much positive feedback from beginning the blog, it made me so happy and I finally feel like I definitely made the right decision. I want to begin with discussing diagnosis, for me I was diagnosed with my mental illnesses throughout school and therefore writing about it without mentioning how education escalated my problems is impossible. I recommend to anyone if you are ever unsure about your mental health, just go and speak to a professional; even if you don’t deal with it immediately knowing the diagnosis and then moving forward is the easiest way.

When I was diagnosed with anorexia, I was stick thin, I remember looking at my body and feeling huge. The people who I was ‘friends’ with would tell me my thighs were huge when I could literally hold the entirety of my thigh with one hand. I would refuse to eat lunch and often throw away my sandwiches, fruit and vegetables so I didn’t have to explain to my parents that I wasn’t eating. I was a generally sporty child, despite being horrific at sport, and would overwork my body throughout the week to stay ‘thin’. I guess the problem wasn’t that noticeable as I was a very tall child, I still stand quite tall at just under 5ft11 but at such a young age having such long limbs it isn’t shocking why my weight wasn’t a red flag to so many people. Having been diagnosed at such a young age, I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t want my parents or family to find out because I didn’t want them to force me to eat. 

What came next was the anxiety and depression, when I was in year seven, I made the stupid error of trying to change who I was to fit in. I went to a high school with no one from my primary and thought I could reinvent myself and maybe things would be okay. My first memories include a lot of crying, LIKE A LOT OF CRYING, becoming obsessed with chocolate and realising that I wasn’t as smart as I thought. In primary I had some of the highest SAT results, and upon entering my high school I assumed that I could carry on being close to top of the class. I was HORRIFICALLY wrong and in most classes I sat at about a C/D standard. By this age I had finally started speaking to a therapist and with the realisation I was dumb I began comfort eating AND I would eat a lot. Most days I would go through ten chocolate bars and sweets as if it was nothing, I became obsessed with the high I would get from eating sugar and in times of anxiousness I would find myself shoving chocolate down my throat.

Once again, I was too young to understand what anxiety and depression meant, so it didn’t faze me. I fell out with a lot of my friends throughout high school and felt alone a lot of the time; I had two constants throughout school and even to this date they are the only two true school friends I have, and I am so grateful for them both. My depression was easy to hide, I would act fine and happy all day to go and cry myself to sleep every night. I remember reading through some people’s opinions of me on those anonymous askfm sites and just thinking I wish I wasn’t around; I remember hearing and reading people’s opinions of me calling me vile, ugly, etc. on a daily basis and just thinking I was never going to get over feeling so worthless and useless. Guys were interested in my body and not my personality, frequently the guys I was texting would ignore me in person around their friends but be begging attention on texts. My insecurities grew and grew.

I’d just like to say that I wasn’t a saint, I had a lot of hateful opinions and I did some stupid things that I truly hope people have forgiven me for. When I was sixteen, things changed. After completing my GCSE’s whilst grieving the loss of three of my friends and dealing with some really toxic relationships and falling short in grades I finally began to realise how important my mental health truly was. I began speaking out and drifting away from those dragging me down, I finally spoke to our Headmaster and asked to do my first ever talk on Anxiety and Depression admitting to a full assembly hall that I do indeed have both and it is normal and it’s normal to not feel okay. 

I finally felt like I could handle things. I wasn’t doing amazing at school, but I was finally not letting my education define me. By the time I was 17 I had spent over half of my life hating myself, hating my body and feeling constantly insecure. I had finally lost the weight HEALTHILY and it was a turning point in my confidence; I started speaking to a guy and I was in such a good place. Then came my bipolar disorder diagnosis, I broke. Looking back on the diagnosis and understanding what it all meant I can see that all of the symptoms were so obvious but at the time I was convinced they’d made a mistake. I have always had varying mood swings, my times of depression lasting months and manic periods less frequent but noticeably different to just slight happiness/joy. It affected how I saw myself and I lost almost all the confidence I had just gained, leading me to the loss of more friends, the guy I was speaking to choosing someone else and a general low place.

My journey isn’t perfect, my time in education had a huge impact on my self-confidence and I have spent ages since learning to love myself again. I spent most of my youth trying to hide my mental health problems so now I find it difficult to sometimes show that side of myself despite no longer being ashamed. My journey isn’t reliant on some letters on a piece of paper, some nasty words people said about me or a medical diagnosis but how I learnt to pick myself up and carry on through everything I’ve been through. I love who I am now, I still have bad days (more like months but bad days sounds better) but I’m learning how to control that and trying to turn my future into something bright.

I really do want to post more advice, tips and stuff like that, but I felt like before I could get into that I kind of needed to introduce myself and my journey, so this is kind of what is happening at the moment. I have a lot of ideas brewing and I hope in the upcoming weeks and months I can put my suggestions to reality. Thanks for sitting through this, it was a bit longer than anticipated. 

Welcome to my Blog!!!!

Hey!!!

My first blog post! I don’t know whether to be terrified or excited to be honest. My name is Emily, I am twenty-one years old and I have several diagnosed mental illnesses. I have struggled with a vast array of mental health problems since the age of eight, and to this date I’m still working through so much that I unknowingly swept under the metaphorical rug. This blog is going to be a lot of my own personal experience, how I coped and how I use my experience positively rather than letting it drag me down. I will aim to put trigger warnings on anything that could be deemed triggering, but I apologise in advance if I miss something. 

It took me a long time to decide whether this was a clever idea or not, knowing my intentions in future social care careers and to adopt I had to think long and hard whether writing about something as stigmatized as mental illness is going to affect my future, as much as I’d love to say the stigma isn’t there it unfortunately still is. But as I see it, speaking out about mental illness and normalizing the diagnoses are the only ways to beat the stigma. I don’t want to stay silent when I have so much to say which could genuinely help, because in turn then does that not just make me as bad as those looking down on those who are mentally ill- as you can imagine it took a lot for me to decide to go through with this.

I have dedicated the last five years of my life to purposefully speaking out about mental health, raising awareness and shutting down stigma from those around me. It took a long time for me to be honest about my mental health to those around me, in school there always seemed to be an elephant in the room surrounding mental health which in turn made me think that I was the only one struggling which I later found out was completely wrong. It wasn’t till I was seventeen did I actually tell people, in front of a school assembly- I’m still not sure how I did it to be brutally honest. So, after nine years of battling and recovering from anorexia, battling anxiety and depression I had finally made the first step into a more supported future. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I am incredibly lucky that I was met with little resistance and instead had some of the most amazing friends supporting me who I am so grateful for. Then came my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and despite how open and confident I had become I was knocked. I was so embarrassed; I couldn’t get my head around the fact I had a personality disorder and for the first four months I cried daily looking into ways to ‘beat’ it as if it was some type of cold.

Fast forward to me now, I just finished my undergraduate degree in the middle of a global pandemic and have begun to work through most my trauma with little to no support which I didn’t think was even plausible. I still have bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety; but I am not ashamed of that. If anything I’m proud of that, yeah my life sucks a lot of the time and I’ve had so many curveballs thrown at me in the past thirteen years that I don’t particularly remember a time where I wasn’t weighed down with guilt, grief or pain but I’m content with my life right now. My journey to content has been long-winded and I’ve lost and found myself more times than I can count; but I’ve also received some of the best support which I hope to pass on throughout these posts. The road to learning to love yourself is long and can test you in so many ways but it is important to remember that no matter what YOU ARE A PERSON, you are NOT a diagnosis. Your mental illness(es) DO NOT DEFINE YOU.

So, welcome to The Depression Pit, a name which pretty much describes what my room and life looks like every time my depression takes over but also a self-coined term to represent the fort I make when I need to cry and watch Miranda. This introduction took me forever to type because I don’t like explaining myself, but I have so many ideas banked for future blog posts that I’m so excited to see what happens.

Thank you for reading this far, the next one will be more interesting I promise! If you have a WordPress account, you are able to follow my account which should (hopefully) give you reminders when I post!!

Byeeee!!!