Music saves

Until fairly recently, I was rather impartial when it came to music. I mean sure, there were bands and artists that I listened to, but I wasn’t really bothered.

I went to a James Bay concert a few weeks ago with a friend. It was in this little outdoor venue in Manchester, it was packed, and the atmosphere was electric. I remember I’d had a really shitty few weeks, but there was a moment during that concert when I was so purely happy and grateful to be alive. It was incredible.

I guess, more than anything, that concert on that day with that atmosphere, reminded me what it feels like to be young and stupid and free. I felt more alive than I had in months and it gave me such a buzz.

The first supporting act for the concert was a band named Joseph: a group of 3 sisters from Portland, Oregon. I didn’t expect much, but they were amazing. As soon as I was within range of wifi, I’d downloaded their album and had their next record on pre-order. Their sound was calming and pure and simple. It was beautiful.

It was a grounding, pure and unexpected experience that gave my mental recovery a real boost, and gave me a bit of much needed perspective. External circumstances such as anxiety, for example, had almost stopped me from attending such an out-of-my-comfort-zone type of scenario, but my God, am I glad I went.

I guess what I really want to say, is that the artists I saw, or the music I like isn’t really significant at all. But being around likeminded people, surrounded by electricity and positive vibes was all I needed to remind me who I am, or at least who I want to be.

H x

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I’m fine

Today I woke up with a rather unusual perspective of my situation. No circumstances have become any less shitty overnight, but maybe I’m not that ill.

I’ve come to realise that I am able to somewhat ‘control’ my ED, in that I can eat ‘normally’ in social situations, and sometimes I can eat regularly for quite a few days and only feel moderately shitty. So that’s okay, right?

I don’t know what I’m trying to convince myself of here, but I guess that’s the whole point. I’m not sure whether the whole social aspect of an ED is allowed as some sort of a personal protection of the disorder itself, as a way of making sure nobody finds out, a way of stopping people from worrying. These situations often feel freeing because for a moment I feel like my old self again, without the restrictions or the counting. Completely internalising the guilt is very difficult though, and the repercussions that follow such behaviour are imminent, as always. But I guess I look for those little social moments for a bit of breathing space. I know I’ll have to make up for it later, but somehow, that moment of freedom is worth it.

This method of escapism is, however, fucked up by the hell that is anxiety. Social situations scare the shit out of me, and I avoid eating around people that I’m not 100% comfortable with, and/or those that make me nervous. It’s a balancing act, and one I’m still trying to master. I’m not ready for people to know the truth yet, because I’ve barely begun to accept it myself, and I’m terrified of the judgement that will follow.

The thing is, my weight loss is becoming more noticeable, but not yet to the point where too many concerns are being voiced. I accept comments as compliments, whilst simultaneously feeling sickened by my undeniable sense of achievement. The level of perfection can always be improved. There are always smaller jean sizes, more pounds to lose and less meals to be had. I think that’s the worst part, the part that scares me the most. I can’t deny the fact that I’m a total control freak, so the infinite levels of perfection I could attain, may mean I’ll never stop. What if I can’t stop?!

Some days really are better than others. Some days I can wake up and don’t notice the grey so much, I can laugh, sometimes I can forget why my brain is always racing, and why my heart beats faster with every trigger. Some days it’s easier to pretend, and the smile isn’t so difficult to paint on. Some days it just takes a particular person or activity, and some days it takes nothing at all. It’s cliché and it’s so cringe, but it really is a hell of a rollercoaster, and an unpredictable one at that. Other days are horrific. Other days getting out of bed feels like the worst thing in the world. Other days there is nothing that can help, you’re a prisoner within your own mind, and it’s dark, and it’s lonely. But these ups and downs make me feel guilty. I bet there are so many people out there that are way worse off than me: I still have the occasional good day so everything must be fine, I just need to deal with it and surely I’ll be fine?

Not necessarily.
An extremely soul destroying aspect of mental illness is its unpredictability, often robbing you of the good days, with the imminence of the bad. I’m learning, slowly, to accept that, to try and make the most of each day, and enjoy the good ones while they last. I’m getting better at finding the positives, and hopefully, one day, I really will be okay.

H x

The tip of the iceburg

I won’t sugar-coat it: I’ve had a really shitty couple of years. They’ve been a whirlwind of emotional results days, loss, grief, falling in love, learning to drive, and moving out.

As anyone who has ever suffered with a mental illness can tell you, they can be unpredictable, long-lasting and really fucking scary. As a complete and utter perfectionist, I’d say I’ve been dealing with OCD for almost my entire life. My mum was diagnosed with cancer when I was 15, and she lost her battle last year. Preceding and throughout those years, I also developed crippling anxiety and depression, alongside, and most recently, an ED, all whilst refusing to acknowledge the loss of my mum.

I’ve been seeking professional help for just under a year now, and it’s been one hell of a rollercoaster. My friends have been my lifelines, with one in particular being there for me night and day. I’ve tried a number of medications, along with a plethora of self-help methods and I’ve also had a number of counsellors. I’ve never been the sort of person who was comfortable sharing such personal details about herself, so I found speaking to a doctor, and counselling in particular, extremely difficult. I had CBT alongside counselling and it was really tough, and honestly, pretty unhelpful. I’ve promised myself that I’ll find a new counsellor when I return to university in October, because I’m determined to really get myself into recovery.

That all being said, talking really does help, once you find the right person. I was really lucky in deeply connecting with a friend; she understood particular events due to personal circumstances, but she also just understands me. I don’t know what I would’ve done or where I would be without her, and for a long time, she was the only person I was comfortable confiding in.

I’m currently taking daily medication for my anxiety and depression, but I’m yet to officially acknowledge my ED with my doctor. I’m a work in progress, but I’m getting there, and I know roughly which direction I need to be heading in. I can say from experience that mental illnesses make everyday struggles unbearable, so their effect upon traumatising events, such as familial loss, are truly debilitating.

But, I’m okay. As much as I wish I could be a different person, or look a certain way, or flick a switch to fix my brain, I’m okay. I’m surrounded by the most wonderful friends a girl could ask for, and I’m getting much better at reminding myself that this pain is only temporary.

H x

 

You’ll know when you’re ready

Mental illness is often romanticised, as well as heavily stigmatised within the media and online. As someone who has suffered with several mental illnesses for a number of years, I know how hard it can be to talk.

The stigma, and this inescapable need to be so fucking perfect is suffocating, and makes discussing your flaws even more debilitating.

I have anxiety, depression and OCD, but until yesterday, I hadn’t told anyone the full story.

I would say I have 3 really close friends that I trust. They all knew different degrees of what I was going through, but I was yet to disclose everything. Yesterday, I was reunited with one of my best friends after about 3 months apart, and I knew I was ready to tell her everything. We went for a walk, and I got it all out, and we were both a bit emotional, but I can genuinely say it was one of the most freeing experiences of my entire life. I don’t like to think of it as “sharing the burden”, because that makes me feel guilty, but knowing someone was aware of everything I was going through was really empowering.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, give yourself some time. For me, I needed to understand and somewhat accept what was happening in my brain, because talking about it makes it real, and that’s really scary. Even after at least 8 years of friendship, my friend still surprised me with how loving and supportive she was. But ultimately, keeping everything to yourself is suffocating, and it’s okay to ask for help. I guess I’ve learnt that the hard way.

H x

Hello: an introduction.

Welcome to anonymous ramblings, a judgement-free outlet of self expression, in an attempt to cope with everyday life.

I begin this blog as a platform for self-reflection and most importantly, telling the truth. I plan on using and updating this page whenever I feel it necessary, as a kind of therapy and/or escapism. As I get more used to this whole blogging business, I’ll be sharing my personal experiences, in the hope of helping other people along the way.

Who knows where this blog will take me, but I’m excited to find out.

H x