I’m going to be honest with you…

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For those interested, this one is a post revealing myself in an incredibly vulnerable light. I feel that sharing what has shaped and influenced us is one of the most effective ways to enable people to feel they can relate to what somebody is going through. Social media tends to mostly show the highlights of people’s lives, all the good stuff, which is fine but not realistic. People easily become hung up on the idea that their newsfeed is full of peoples’ ‘perfect’ lives. We are shown the surface and rarely what happens underneath. I want to talk about some of the things I’ve been through, involving mental health, relationships and emotions. I’m touching on some quite personal topics too, so if you’re nosy, you’re in the right place! So… without further ado…

It was around the age of 14, that things started to feel hard. I was researching a lot of dangerous things and posting some dark content on my Tumblr page. I created a ‘thinspiration’. This was a series of booklets that I put together that would mean I wouldn’t gain weight. I had punishments written down, a list of 0 calorie foods, exercises and even a piece of writing I’d found which told me why I shouldn’t eat. It would insult its reader, create self-loathing, it was aggressive and I listened to every word it said. My figure has always been something which I am conscious of (although I am slowly learning to love some parts of it) and it was something I felt a deep desire to have intense control over.

I’ve always been a worrier. My Nanna would’ve been able to tell you that from the first time I experienced getting cramp and thought I’d never have feeling in my foot again. Alongside worrying, I’ve always been the type to ‘care too much’, if there’s such a thing. I hated the idea of letting people down or making people feel sad and I’d be very hard on myself. 2011 was the year when I first self-harmed (for those of you who have noticed the butterfly on my wrist, it’s a symbol of recovery and was my first tattoo). This is something that never really leaves you; you just gradually learn how to control your urges and think more rationally. I have a document that I wrote up over the course of 3 years that I would add to every now and then. Nobody has ever read it, except me. It reveals exactly what was going through my head during that time, with themes including paranoia, worthlessness, self-harm and a lot of explicit language. When I was in 6th form, I started to see a counsellor, which was fucking terrifying… but it helped. Temporarily.

The state of my mental health has come in ebbs and flows over the years. In 2015, I went to see a doctor and was given medication but that was about it. No explanation of any other options or what the medication would do. I refused to take it. I hated the idea of not being in control of how I feel. Fast forward a couple of years and alarm bells start ringing. This year, I have a lot going for me and I realised my mental health was deteriorating further, to a point I felt I couldn’t go on living every single day with such a struggle. I currently suffer with depression, anxiety and intrusive thoughts. In May, I visited my doctor (a much nicer lady!) and I was given Sertraline 20mg. I was on this for 6 weeks. It didn’t suit me at all. It’s important to tell you that people react differently to medications so what didn’t work for me, may have worked for others! But my experience on them wasn’t a positive one. I felt worse, irritable, suicidal, I had a constant dry mouth, I wasn’t going to the loo properly,  I lost my appetite, I felt sick. Bottom line is, they just weren’t for me! So, off I went, back to the doctor. I’m now on Citalopram 20mg. I’m feeling ok. I’m laughing more. I’m more rational. It’s still early days though and this is definitely just the start. I still have bad days, bad weeks, bad nights. I still battle with my head more often than you may think. But less than I did. I’m in the process of organising counselling sessions, which I’m actually looking forward to. It makes a huge different being able to sit and have someone tell you that what’s going on is completely fine.

I think a key factor which has influenced my mental health is the types of relationships with people that I have had. Being completely honest, when I like somebody, I really like them and I find it difficult to stray away from that. I’ve liked a fair few guys in my time (I even went through a phase questioning whether it was just guys I liked or if I liked girls too). I’ve liked people I’ve worked with, people I’ve been to school with, people I’ve met abroad, people I’ve met online. I’ve also wasted a lot of time. I’ve had my heart broken by the same people over and over again. I’ve waited for people that never had any intention of being with me. I’ve been completely cut off. I’ve been left for other people. I’ve been selfish. I’ve had a relationship with a guy who wasn’t very nice to me at all, verbally, emotionally and physically. I’ve been through phases of not wanting to be with anyone at all (which actually, was a very important phase to go through). And now, I’m in a very loving, understanding relationship with the guy I fancied at school when I was 15 years old. My point is that each heartbreak, each abandonment, each time I’ve been fucked over and each time I’ve fucked up too, all of these experiences have shaped me as a person. I know what I’m worth and what I deserve and don’t settle for anything less. It’s allowed me to realise exactly what it means to be loved and how that is shown. It’s allowed me to be patient and to expect the unexpected. You never know how your deal of cards are going to play out, but that’s what life is. That’s why we do the things we do. It all leads you to your final destination, to where you are meant to be.

And then there’s my incredible friends, new and old. God, if I can teach you anything from this post, it’s to please appreciate your friends. Don’t ever leave them on the sidelines because they are some of the most important people in the world, for such a variety of reasons. I’d be nowhere without mine.

This year has been a crazy one so far. With my final diagnosis, a new relationship, a new job, finishing the most challenging course and developing relationships with new friends, it’s been constant, exciting and exhausting. It’s been a test. I’ve opened up a lot. I’ve shared things that go on in my head, but nowhere near all of it! I’m hoping that people can understand there’s more to a person than first meets the eye. I want to remind you that everyone has a history, whether they want to share that with you or not. That history, however, is not that whole person. They are a collective of all of their experiences. Acceptance is something that we all need to strive towards. Celebrate people’s differences, acknowledge what people have been through and view each other holistically.

Be kind always. Love with all of your heart. Be true to who you are. Accept that your history is just that and it’s yours. Never apologise for the person you have become because you’re pretty damn incredible. I promise. X

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