Breaking stigma after a negative press release…

Things happen that challenge everything we do, make us feel like our effort has been wasted and sometimes even leave us questioning our own intentions in life.

We go through every day with a perfect track record of getting through, a smile on our face and a hand to help others.

But sometimes life throws us a curve ball, it’s horrible but somewhat unavoidable. We are then left with 3 choices…

1: We can stand there and let it hit us straight in the face, knocking us backwards with little sight of what we’ve tried so hard to do.

2: We can dodge it, hide from the fear. No visible bruise from the hit but whilst letting it destroy us inside.

Or

3: We face it head on, we knock it out the way of our path and carry on regardless. Not choosing to throw it back at the perpetrator but instead using it as a way to propel our self forward in the direction we where heading.

this happened to Ben from ELFTs NHS Break the Stigma Campaign when he had a very negative experience with a local paper a few weeks ago. Doing what he does best and bravely sharing his own experiences and what he has been through to help raise awareness on suicide prevention day.

Unknown to him this interview turned out to be his worst experience since opening up about about his battle with my mental health problems and running the Break The Stigma campaign.

“I knew the article was going out in the paper on the Sunday, but I thought I would check to see if the article was online the night before, it was online, but as I started to read the article my heart sank, it was the most awful thing I had read, full of quotes I hadn’t said, things written about me that were absolutely not true, my deeply personal problems all garbled up making no sense to what I had actually been through, then having my mental health problems being described as me self destructing, not the fact that I was very unwell.

I was horrified that this awful piece about me was online, then I realised……this article full of things I hadn’t said with a picture of me was going to be delivered through thousands of peoples doors the next day. I can’t put into words how that made me feel, just that I became very unsettled very quickly, I had a horrendous night, but all my coping strategies kicked in when I needed them most and I knew I needed help, the motto I have always used with this campaign is “It’s OK to talk, it’s OK to need help” I needed that so much, so that is what I did, I went to the Samaritans drop in service as soon as they opened and spent 2 and half hours there, the support and kindness I received was incredible. I then went to my GP the following day and that helped loads too, she reminded me how far I have come these last few years, It then sunk in if this had happened a few years ago I would not have dealt with the situation as I did and asked for help so quickly.”

Ben did the best thing anyone could do in this situation and took choice number 3.

Seeing his post on Facebook after only seeing him in passing just last week broke my heart. How can such an amazing guy be subject of such a harsh act. Nobody has the right to change his past into an article it never was.

But guess what?!! He didn’t react in the way the stigma expected him too. Instead he used his willpower, positive coping strategies and support circle of people around him to get through. He not only showed himself how far he has come but also has shown others just how strong he really is… something only to be admired.

They say the strongest soldiers are sent to fight the hardest battles… and he is proof of this. I am so proud Ben can tell his story, I am proud of his campaign but mostly I am proud of who he is as a person!!!
Break the Stigma

Advertisements

America here we come!!

With less than 4 hours before we leave for America I can hardly believe we’ve made it this far…. Never in the three years of us planning and cancelling this trip did I ever think we’d ever get this close to flying. Our holiday we dreamed of – Disney Orlando Florida.

From mums many cancer ops/ procedures, Natalie’s spinal surgery, my Grandads heart attack and to top it all off my eating disorder, it has been a tough few years for everyone. We’ve faced a lot together and that’s not been easy, many tears have been shed, hands held and fingers crossed…. we’ve laughed, cried, screamed and been left feeling empty.!

This holiday has been our motive, the light at the end, the goal or maybe even the beginning of better times? 

It’s finally here. 

I haven’t let myself feel the reality that yes THIS IS HAPPENING, I suppose I’ve blocked it out filling my time with anything but planning. I’ve avoided packing until made to and had minimal input in deciding how to spend our days.

I’m desperately trying to remain positive but still fear its going to be ripped from our grip… 

But my family are my anchor in rough waters – and maybe we weren’t supposed to have it easy. Maybe it was this way because we’re some of the rare few who can handle these tough times and still carry on regardless. Maybe rock bottom will be the foundations in which we rebuild our life. 

Maybe this will be the holiday of a lifetime…
AMERICA HERE WE COME!
 

Body Confidence – Why it’s not all about change…

Raise your hand if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and been left feeling utterly deflated. Believe me you’re not alone, I have both hands raised too! Thinking about it I don’t really know anyone who is completely satisfied with their body, it’s either too big, too small, to short. Blotches, pimples, wrinkles and hair in the wrong places.

We are surrounded by a society where body shaming yourself is more socially acceptable than saying “wow I look amazing!” without being seen as boastful or arrogant. Walk into any news agents and you will see a shelf filled with magazines continuing to perpetuate highly unrealistic expectations of both men and women, despite years of controversy.

From the fashion industry to the workplace, we are constantly facing backwards representations of ‘ideals’ which continue to influence our daily life style. If I think about my average morning I probably spend 75% of my time focused on covering up my imperfections with makeup, thin hair with extensions and recycling my outfit millions of times before I go out still feeling dissatisfied.

For someone who is recovering from Anorexia body image is something I battle with frequently. Having had to gain weight in a 6 month hospitalization last year just to restore my physical health managing this drastic change still affects me daily. I find looking in full length mirrors incredibly difficult and knowing it can ruin my day or even set back my progress by weeks – I try to avoid them at all costs.

This avoidance isn’t healthy the same way compulsively body checking isn’t either and it’s questionable why I’d give a sheet of glass such power over me… Recently in therapy we covered the topic of perception being the mental representation one creates. Naturally, I was sceptical – believing it was a hoax just to make me feel better.

But then my therapist said this to me…..

“Look at the wall, it’s just a wall, right?….Now notice that tiny grey scuff and quickly turn away”

I did just that, wondering what an earth he was on about.

“OK now turn back and try to look at the wall as a whole without noticing the mark”  

I couldn’t.

See, this is what we do to our bodies, we scan over them viewing each perceived flaw until this is all that is left. Scrutinising the size of our forehead, nose, thighs or stomach until we are internally labelling ourselves “one big mess’’.

But surely this could be easily changed with surgery or a simple diet?…

WRONG in fact this fuels the obsession itself.

In my experience I have spent years trying to change certain aspects of my shape and body. I devoted so much time, becoming so miserable, yet never once despite all the weight loss did I ever look in the mirror and see anything other than what I wanted to change. It’s a toxic cycle that no amount of surgery, dieting or covering up will ever permanently fix. It’s like trying to make a Bull Dog look like a whippet – inhumane and certainly impossible.

What we need to do instead is to learn acceptance, find out the route of what is making us reflect badly. Is that image subject to distortions from a lack of self-confidence, overwhelming emotions, attitudes influenced in childhood or maybe just that overdue assignment. We should tackle this first because how you feel on the inside is what truly reflects in your eyes.

Body confidence for me has never come from trying to achieve the “perfect”. It’s more of a combination of self-love, compassion and embracing the reasons you were given it… Now that I understand living is more that just existing in physical form, I am dedicating my time to believing it and slowly gaining back what I lost to my illness!

…Apologise to your body and let the healing begin….

I’m Struggling, I’m Human.

It’s only human to have bad times. 

This last week for me has been exactly that. No, I’m not going to write a post pretending everything’s just ‘fine’ because that would be giving a glossed picture of recovery.
See, the truth is the aim of being positive is still just a relative concept. Even those with years of practise can not always determine unexpected fluctuations… 

Shaky moments are perfectly normal! 

People who seem to have it altogether still have rough patches. With good intentions effected by fate it leaves us no choice but to get on the train at the next station.

For me reminding myself of something I read whilst inpatient really helps me to put things into perspective and give me the courage to carry on. With the passage striking me on a personal level I really wanted to share it with you all….

“Picture yourself when you were five years old. In fact dig out a photo of little you at that time and tape it to your mirror. How would you treat her, love her, feed her? How would you nurture her if you where the mother of little you? I bet you would protect her fiercly whilst giving her space to spread her itty bitty wings. She’d get naps, healthy food, imagination time, and adventures into the wild. If playground bullies hurt her feelings, you’d hug her tears away and give her perspective. When tantrums and meltdownss turned her into a poltergeist you’d demmand a loving time out in the naughty chair. From this day forward I want you to extend that same compassion to your adult self.”

I do not intend on sharing how it related to me but would l love to know if it impacted you in anyway… please let me know! Now, have the best week possible and keep moving forward.

Bright Monday!

A message for the world, your going to have a great day!

The third Monday in January is often called ‘Blue Monday’ and is billed as the most depressing day of the year by the media. The highest suicide rate is today, but hopefully this can change!!

With campaigns naming today “Bright Monday” this year help us break this trend! 

Need inspiration? Here are four easy ways to join in this activity:

1 – Wear bright clothing on Bright Monday – anything from a colourful shirt or tie to brightly coloured socks.

2 – Call a friend – Check in on someone you may not have spoken to in awhile, or who you think may be struggling. Make a cup of tea and get chatting!

3 – Dress up your workspace – print off colourful images or decorate your area with some new plants, print out a quote, a joke, or a photo that makes you smile, or set up a small bowl of fresh fruit on your desk.

4 – Brighten up someone’s day – offer to make a hot drink for a colleague you haven’t spoken to recently, get some biscuits in for your team or pay someone a compliment

Keep in mind; one bright word can change someone’s entire day or furthermore save a life…

Thank you to my beautiful friend Lily for the inspiration behind this post! She’s a true fighter and I will never let her stand alone…

New Years Resolutions…more harm than good?

Well Hello 2017,                                                                                                                         page 1 of 365

As I shut the chapter of 2016 I find myself reflecting on this year as a whole. Its been filled with plenty of highs and lows, successes and learning points but introspectively I have certainly discovered a lot about both myself and indeed others.

You see we are all in a state of constant growth, be it physical, mental or spiritual. And with yet another NEW YEAR setting in it brings yet more opportunities. In this post I thought I’d focus with a strong topic of conversation at the moment… New Years Resolutions.

As many attempt these today some will find they will last till February whereas others only all of a few days. I mean setting a goal too last a whole year, yet hasn’t been achieved in the previous is pretty hard going…. And leaves me questioning is it really worth it?

Personally, I have not made a New Years resolution this year because in the past I hated how they made me feel when I “couldn’t” live up-to my own high standards. I mean for starters, they were always unbelievably unrealistic and sometimes even became obsessively unhealthy.

It has taken me many years to reach this conclusion and realise that these ‘resolutions’ have actually caused me more problems than help. This is why instead I have decided this year I will devise three alternative promises to myself.

1) “I promise to Love Myself no matter what.”

We cannot truly enjoy happiness if we are not at peace with ourself. Our relationship with ourself is the most important one we’ll ever have, and is the one which allows us to be there for others and be appreciated as the person we truly are.

2) “I promise to Let Go of any and all negativity IN me and around me.”

To let go of negativity means to let go of all that is holding you back from emerging into your truest self. You must let go of past pain through realising it has only made you stronger. You must let go of toxic relationships that are preventing you from being who you are. You must let go of fear by facing personal challenges. You must let go of limiting beliefs by opening your mind to learning. You must let go of bad habits by replacing them with positive alternative. You must let go of self judgement by loving yourself. You must let go of sadness by adding a conscious dash of happiness in your life. You must let go of all that doesn’t nourish your heart and soul.

3) “I promise to make everyday my best day yet.”

To fulfill this promise you must make sure that you live everyday like it was your last. You don’t live with regrets and “should’ves”. Instead you seize every moment and cherish the memories.

Make yourself these three promises and your future self will thank you, for like those above, your heart will tune in and create pathways you never thought possible. All those tiny resolutions will fall into place effortlessly if you just make space for it by letting go and loving yourself.

 

I’M FINALLY BACK!!!

Well, I’m finally back after nearly three whole months without a blog update… 

And if I’m honest I wish I had a good explanation for my absence but it’s down to poor time management and making the most of every opportunity.

So what have I been up to?

  • Well as of friday I have been discharged from CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health service) and transitioned to the Adult eating disorder team and CMHT (community mental health team)- which I will talk about in a later post.
  • I’ve been on the interview panel for CAMHS
  • Celebrated my 18th birthday by going out with my family, seeing bastille in the o2 thanks to my sister, having a house PARTY (which I never imagined would happen earlier this year) and just spending it with those closest to me.
  • I’ve been on my first night out, which after a lot of previous anxiety around situations involving any type of socialising or alcohol I can well an truely say I have fought through the worst of it and am now ACTUALLY ENJOYING MYSELF.
  • I have bought myself a little red car, ran the battery flat, had to be jump started at school and nearly drove down the motorway the wrong way. (pretty successful in my eyes)
  • Visited my Best Friend at Uni and stayed with her in Birmingham.
  • I’ve done a week of work experience at the Hospital in the cardiology department, watched a operation, and visited the children’s ward I was once on.
  • And now I have completed my first term of school, missing zero days and so far achieving my goal of making this year count. I have helped out in a place for students to go who struggle with the playground at break and lunch – which I really enjoy because it gives me the chance to use some of my experiences to help others.

The last few months have been filled with a lot of wonderful moments and considering I have significantly struggled with some aspects of my mental health recently I can well and truly say despite of it I have tried my best to keep going and participate in everything I possibly could.

“I think suffering from mental health has made me realise that good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience and the worst days give you a reason to get better”