People who inspire me…

This is a little different to what I’d normally write, it’s going to be positive and mention the people who have inspired me to be the person I am today. It is mainly made-up of people I know, however, there are a few celebrities in here too. They aren’t in any particular order as all of this people have inspired me in equal amounts but in different ways.

Time to Change Young Champions

This group of young people (of which I am a part of) are a very inspirational bunch, they have all faced mental health issues, and other issues that life has thrown at them, and have survived. They constantly battle their own demons whilst trying to help others. A few of these young champions have become my good friends, I don’t know what I would do without Jodie and Rachel and their online and offline love and support. But all of these young champions are an amazing support network who work so hard to destroy the stigma and discrimination that is experienced by those with mental health issues.

Caitlin Moran

I said some of these would be people I haven’t met and unfortunately Caitlin is on that list. The way she stands up for women and what she feels is right is so inspirational, especially in a day and age where people are telling us we don’t need feminism anymore. She made me realise how important feminism is and has inspired me to stand up for what I believe in and shout it from the rooftops. Plus, she is also just flipping hilarious!

Joss- Time to Change

Joss is the involvement officer for the young champions at TTC. Having heard her own personal story, I can honestly tell you she is inspirational. She is so supportive of all the young champions and goes above and beyond to make sure we are okay, and are getting what we need. She is honestly one of these women who I would be happy to grow up to be like (not that I’m that much younger) but still. An amazing and inspiring women who is so committed to the work she does and all of the young champions.

Wayne- Stonewall/R U Coming out

I first met Wayne and a few years ago when I was on the stonewall young campaigner programme. He was so enthusiastic about what he was doing and he is still is now, not much has changed. His openness and honesty is inspirational. He is such a lovely person and so supportive of the young people he works with. He has such a passion for what he does and that is definitely something I admire. His commitment to the LGBT+ community is amazing, and so is his kindness.

Hannah Witton

Another person I (sadly) haven’t met. But again another great person. Her work around sexual education through YouTube is just brilliant as someone who didn’t have barely any sexual education at school, I can assure you I would have loved to have known about Hannah Witton at the time. She has inspired me to make sure that other young people don’t have the experience that I had and has helped me find ways that I can educate them without scaring them away. She is also a feminist icon, who helps support the LGBT+ community.

Alan

I feel like I speak about this man quite a lot, that is purely because he has had such an impact on my life. Alan was one of my teachers, now my friend, who supported me through school during the depths of my mental illness. But the reason I find him most inspiring is not about this, it is about his resilience and perseverance. Without going in to detail he had some rough times and worked so hard to get through them. He also couldn’t have children but he and his wife carried on trying, until eventually, they decided to adopt. He could have given up, but didn’t. His resilience is inspiring to me.

Growing Up with Domestic Abuse

TW

 

 

 

 

 

 

Between the ages of 0-7 my life was pretty standard, I lived with my sister, mum, and dad. We did move towns, but other than that, pretty standard.

When I was 7 my parents split and my dad moved back to our hometown, and that’s when things really changed.

My mum got into a relationship that turned out to be abusive. He would physically, sexually, and emotionally abuse her. He never laid a finger on me or my sister however, it had a massive impact on us.

This lasted on and off for about 5 years until he finally left.

Me and my sister were impacted both directly and indirectly by the abuse my mum suffered. One of the things that happened from this abuse was my mu developed anorexia, we watched her drop to a tiny weight, and then her attitudes towards food rubbed off on me.

I also now suffer from various mental health issues, but my anxiety was the one primarily created by the abuse I’ve witnessed. I can’t even bare someone raising their voice even slightly, the minute that happens I panic, my heart races.

I thought that all of this had stopped when my mums old partner left. However, recently similar things are happening with her new ( although hes been with her for years) partner. He had always been emotionally abusive to me, and he had been fairly emotionally abusive to mum. There was also a physical incident with his son.

But literally yesterday he was physically abusive to my mum.

The issue I have however, is that i see this as normal and feel like if I complain about this then I’m just making a big deal about things.

I just hope that when I’m older I don’t end up in a relationship like that.

Lesbian and Mentally Ill

So as it’s pride season I wanted to write a post to do with the links (if there are any) between my sexuality and me having a mental illness.

Only 30 years ago was homosexuality itself no longer considered a mental health issue. Some may still believe that being gay is a mental health issue.

To me my sexuality and my mental illness and mental health are connected quite a bit.

When I was 15 I was “outed” as gay to most of my school, after this I began experiencing symptoms of mental illness. It started with me just feeling low for a prolonged period of time and then I began self-harming. After this my mental illness really developed.

The similarities continue between these two things in others ways as well. For example, the reactions I received from my family were pretty similar.

When I finally got the guts to come out to my mum she told me that I was making a big deal out of nothing, and that I couldn’t be sure that I was gay. When I told my mum that I was experiencing mental health issues she said i was making a big deal out of nothing and that I was probably making it up.

When I told my dad I was gay he was very over the top about the whole thing, the same as when I told him about being mentally ill.

Another experience I had was with my Dr who said that one of the reasons I was feeling so awful was ‘because I didn’t have a boyfriend’, she said this even though she knew I was gay.

With both of these topics and parts of my life there is still huge stigma surrounding them and it will be a continuous fight, however, I know I wouldn’t be the same without them.

Love,

Abz xx

 

My Teachers Saved Me…

My teachers saved me…

The first time I started experiencing severe mental health problems was when I was in year 10. I turned round to my teacher, A, and said “what is the point?”, and that’s when I first started opening up about my problems.

After I asked him that question he sat with me for two hours asking me why I asked that question, and then trying to make me feel better, by answering it in a way that wasn’t too miserable. Since then I began to build up trust with him, and spoke to him more and more about how I was feeling.

Another one of my teachers, C, was just as amazing, I started talking to her about things, about a month after I had been “outed”, the first thing I did was come out to her. I was worried about what she was going to say, she just smiled at me, said it was okay, and gave me a hug.

Both A and C were the first teachers I had properly opened up to, although they had a duty of care, meaning at times they did have to forward on what I said, I still felt like I could trust them.

I told A about my self-harm first, and although I knew he’d have to pass it on, he was still very nice about it and willing to talk to me about it. The key thing was that he was calm about it and not panicked.

I had a similar incident with C when I was in sixth form where one of my injuries was bleeding, and I went and told her, and she dealt with it calming and kindly, she didn’t blame me.

At home, I had a very rocky time trying to talk about my mental health, my mum would quite often have a go at me for self-harming, so to have someone who wasn’t judging me and was supporting me, it meant a lot.

A was the first person to suggest to me that I may have some mental health issues and he encouraged me to speak to the school counsellor about it. However, it was only after an attempt on my life two years later that I actually began to get help from mental health professionals.

But regardless of this, if I didn’t have A and C up to that point then I wouldn’t have made it that far to begin to get the support.

Even after I started to receive this support, they were still there, and I began to get more help from other teachers, during year 12 and 13 H began to help me and her firm attitude made sure I passed the subject that she taught me, which made me feel slightly less useless.

During my last year of sixth form my head of sixth form became very good at dealing with me, a lot of the time I’d just go into his office, have a cry, and then walk out fine. Even if he didn’t know what to say (which was quite often) he would just find something that he knew would make me laugh and then I’d feel better, even if just for a moment.

The last teacher I spoke about was my singing teacher S who was just so great at listening to me and finding the perfect song to reflect how I was feeling at the time.

The most important thing about all of them was the fact that they listened, they may not have always known what to say, but quite often that didn’t matter, just them being there to listen was all I needed. They also always made sure I was safe, and they never panicked, even when I was at my worse, they never did (well they never showed it).

I know that not all teachers are like this, but mine were brilliant, and definitely helped make up for a family who didn’t really know or accept what was/still is going on.

The best bit for me is that they are still there for me now!

Thoughts on Recovery

I have had a diagnosis of a mental illness since I was 16, although I’m sure I have had mental illnesses way before this time. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 16, I was diagnosed with EUPD at 19, and then an eating disorder at 20. I am now twenty, so my last 4 years have been filled with diagnosis’ and doctor’s appointments.
One of the biggest things you face when you a diagnosis of a mental health issue is recovery. It’s the first thing that gets thrown at you. Let’s have therapy to help your recovery, let’s give you this medication to aid your recovery.
Don’t get me wrong I take medication, and go to therapy but this isn’t to recover, this is to live.
Your friends and family might say ‘Well a diagnosis is the first step to recovery’.
But what if I don’t want to recover?
I don’t want to recover.
The definition of recovery is ‘a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength’. I don’t think I ever had a normal state in which I can return to.
When I was 15 and I started experiencing the deepest depression, I said to a teacher ‘I don’t remember what I was like before I felt like this, how am I ever going to recover?’
Even in the early days I associated recovery with being who I was before.

But I now know that is not realistic and is not what I want.

With the common cold you can recover completely, with a mental illness it can be a lot more difficult than that.

Your experiences during time of mental illness can be traumatising, they can change you forever.
It’s really difficult.

However, I see it like this. My aim is not to recover and be who I used to be, I don’t want to recover that way.

I want to learn to cope with how I am, I want to begin to love who I am now, and I want to continue to develop.

Trying to be who I used to be is not helpful, so I don’t want to recover, I want to grow.

Signs I’m Coping

Signs I’m coping better…

I have a mental health issue that will always be there, so I will never be fully recovered. However, I know that I am coping with things in a much better way and I’m learning to live again.

So below is a list of reasons as to how I know I am coping a lot better than I was:

  • I’m smiling; I can tell I’m smiling more as my face can start to hurt, which obviously implies I wasn’t smiling much before.
  • I’m talking about it; I talk about how I’m feeling and I’m fairly open and honest about my mental illness. Talking about it has been a massive thing is trying to help me feel better.
  • I’m eating; as soon as my eating goes wrong, then I know I’m not mentally my best. But as long as I am eating enough and not overcompensating for it then I know I am doing well.
  • I’m brushing my teeth; I know it’s a grim thought me not brushing my teeth twice a day but when you feel like rubbish it’s the last thing on your mind.
  • I’m showering; same as above.
  • I’m getting out of bed; my worse days are when I lie in bed all day, so any day I do get out I see it as an achievement.
  • I’m going out; when I say going out I don’t mean clubbing. I mean something as simple as going out of my room into my kitchen or going to the uni shop.
  • I’m socialising; at my worst I just don’t talk to anyone and instead isolate myself which in turn makes me feel worse, so as long as I’m talking to people then I am coping.
  • I’m sleeping; when things get bad I don’t sleep, which then makes me feel even worse. But if I sleep then I feel better and if I feel better I sleep better.
  • I engage; I engage with what I’m doing, I feel, I interact, I live.
  • I LAUGH; rather than being numb and dazed, I have enjoyment and laugh.

I wouldn’t be where I am today and be able to write this post if it wasn’t for the amazing family, friends, teacher, and health professionals, who have helped and supported me and made me realise that things do get better.

‘I’m being pulled in a new direction’…

A couple of days ago, I found out I had got a place In UWE to study Children’s Nursing.

Ever since I was young I knew that was what I wanted to do. However, when I went to apply through UCAS last year I was told not to apply for it, and instead applied for Philosophy (which I do enjoy), and was hoping that I would enjoy it so much and not miss the idea of nursing. However, this didn’t happen, instead I really struggling doing what I was doing as I didn’t enjoy it.

So, I decided to apply for Children’s nursing and I got in.

I had a few bad thoughts about it though. I was thinking that I should have done it at the beginning considering I had already resat a year of 6th form. However, I know that I was not in a good enough place mentally to do it back then.

I also thought that people would think of me as a failure as I’ve decided to move back home and study in a fairly local university as opposed to 200 miles away like I was previously. However, I know the reasons why I am living at home and It’s not because I can’t cope living away (or else I wouldn’t have lasted the year in Liverpool), It’s because the university is the best for the course and because it works out cheaper to live at home. Also, I’ve now realised it doesn’t matter, I don’t need to prove anything, as long as I am doing something good and that I enjoy.

So my message for you guys is to do what you want and what you feel is the best thing, regardless of other people’s opinions.

Love,

Abz xxx

Change Happens

*First off I just want to put a little warning up here. Although this is a positive post it does mention the times when things weren’t so positive, the beginning bit may be upsetting*

 

I feel the need to write this post for several reasons, firstly, it is a direct response to something that happened to me recently, secondly, I need to get a few things of my chest, thirdly, I want to send a message to other people that things get better, and finally I want to remind myself how far I’ve come.

Up until roughly four/ five months ago, I was self-harming nearly every day, I was having chronic suicidal thoughts, and had an horrific relationship with food and my body. Eight months ago, I moved over two hundred miles up north from where I grew up to go to uni.

Not long after being there I met someone, he was lovely, or so I thought, however, I had never had a relationship with a guy before, and for me it was scary. So, I never made it official, however he kept saying how we were together. Eventually I caved in and said we could take it slow. Things didn’t feel right though, and then one night I went out with him and group of friends. The whole night I repeatedly asked not to be left alone with him, and I wasn’t, until I had gone back with him and friend to his, and she left me with him, things didn’t end well. The worst of things didn’t happen, however, what did happen wasn’t good.

However, I forgave him. My first example of people changing. I don’t think he meant what happened that night. I spent a whole lot time blaming myself, however, I know now it’s not my fault. It was his. I then spent a lot of time hating him for everything he did but I realised the only person that was hurting was me, so I forgave him. I honestly think he and I changed from that experience, my first example of people changing.

The biggest example of this is that I am better than I was. I have gone through some of the worst experiences in the last 6 months, and being away from my family didn’t help that. However, it has changed me massively and made me so much stronger survived.

It’s been six years since all this started. And now it’s pretty much non-existent. Now I’m not saying things are perfect for me, because I guarantee that if someone who didn’t have mental health issues had my mind they would still think there was a lot wrong. However, I’m the happiest and strongest I have ever felt. I feel balanced, and the only way this has all happened was by me sticking through the awful bits.

Stay strong,

Love Abz xx

(TW)A Brutally Honest Blog About Suicide (TW)

I Tried to Kill Myself …

*This post is going to contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

The first time I tried to kill myself I was 16. It was a couple of weeks into sixth form, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had spent the first few days of sixth form in a daze. I went into school, and walked out at the end of the day but not really paying attention to anything in between. This just kept getting worse, I was still self-harming from the summer holidays but I had then started doing it during school.

After two weeks of being at sixth form, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, and I took an overdose.

I had gone to the shop in my lunch break and bought paracetamol, and then took them all when I got back to the school. I felt relieved that I had done it. The rest of the day I just walked round feeling a bit more “out of it” than usual, but I sort of felt happy.

When I got home I went straight to bed. And slept for a bit until dinner.

I ate the tinniest bit of dinner and then my mum noticed something was wrong I told her was just feeling sick.

It got to about 8pm and then I started to panic, I didn’t think I actually wanted to die, but at the same I couldn’t think of any other way.

I distinctly remember setting alarms for 11pm, 2am, 5am, and then 7.30 am. I did this to make sure I was still alive.

When I got up in the morning I told mum I was still ill.

Then I decided I needed to tell her. I waited until my sister had gone and then went downstairs. I stood next her in the kitchen until she realised something was up.

I told her what I did and was met with an hour of shouting and crying. I told her I didn’t think I needed to go to the doctors and then went to school.

When I got there my tutor told me off for being late, but obviously, she had no idea what had happened.

The next few days I was pretty thankful to be alive.

But this carried on for a while.

I continued taking overdoses, risking things by taking more and stronger types of tablets. I took them at school and at home. There’s part of me that wonders what the teachers thought when I was literally walking round like a zombie after taking so many. This went on through the whole time I was in sixth form.

I was lucky though, because I’m still here today.

It’s a hard battle but one I continue to fight.

Keep fighting

Love Abz xxx

“Too fat for an eating disorder” 

Yesterday I had a mental health assessment to help me access some support now I’m not at home. I’ve had these assessments before and I was fairly apprehensive about it. 

Thankfully, the women I saw was lovely and very helpful. The outcome of this appointment was a refferral to the eating disorder clinic. I was shocked. 

I grew up with an anorexic mother. I knew from a fairly young age what an eating disorder looks like, well I thought I did. 

The stigma surrounding eating disorders quite often makes people think that you have to be anorexic in order to have an eating disorder, however this is not the case. 

Since I was about 12 I have had a maladaptive relationship with food. One that has caused me distress and happiness, however I thought my behaviours were normal. If I was feeling rubbish about myself the instant solution was to not to eat, or it was to eat a lot. Both of which unhelpful and unhealthy behaviours that later lead me to feeling worse. 

Although retrospectively I can see it’s unhealthy, I still can’t believe that I have an eating disorder, because I don’t look like I have one. 

I guess I’ll just have to learn that there is no such thing as being too fat for an eating disorder. 

Love Abbie xx