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!!!