At the times of my most poor mental health I withdraw into my head. I no longer see myself as attached to my material body or in fact the material world. People appear robotic and “other”. My thoughts become so loud they drown out external sounds. I get my thoughts screaming at each other. This was a piece of my A Level English Coursework in which I attempted to illustrate this utter detachment that had occurred before a previous suicide attempt. It is weird, wordy and different to my usual content but here it is….

 

Reunited

It was the 21st of December and the darkened shop windows were lit only by the scattering of lights strung over the skinny frames of the dehydrated conifers. Laces tied, my shoes were looped around my neck and beating out of time to my stride against my chest. Though still not above ten degrees I was wearing only a cream skirt and summer blouse, the skirt of which was under constant threat of blowing up in an unexpected gust. When I reached the beach I placed my shoes down beside me and let my toes sink into the cool sand before making my way towards the water’s edge.

When I got there the white stampeding horses of earlier had calmed but the fierce burning of the cold was yet to be tamed. The now tranquil barrier at my ankles oscillated in the evening light throwing the dying sun’s rays into a frenzied dance upon my face. I looked down and noticed a woman staring back at me. Her features had been sculpted by sharp lines though they had not been drawn by laughter but by pain. Her lips had become a patchwork of scarlet fissures and the lingering remnants of a deep rouge lipstick accentuated by her permanent pursing giving her a general air of discomfort. She may have looked as if she was in preparation for a kiss or posing for a photograph but her cold eyes told a different story. I reached out to rescue her from behind the waves but as my hand touched hers she dissolved into a mess of muted colour.

I fumbled in the icy water trying in vain to retrieve her but all I found was one of my shoes. I turned to look down the beach and realised how far the sea had crept up the sands and swamped the beach and wiped away my footprints. The handful of wet sand I had found earlier inside the shoe was melting through my fingers and creating a satisfying splash as it hit the water. I followed its lead and slumped into the briny pool. With the water tenderly stroking me at the waist, at last I felt some protection from the overwhelming force of gravity and sat, wishing that the tides would take me with their next breath.

 

And she waited…

 

With her skirt now white in the moonlight billowing out around her she could have looked as if she was perched upon a cloud had it not been for the presence of a pale green carrier bag that skimmed its way along the shore. It may have been branded ‘environmentally friendly’ but someone had clearly failed to let the lonely sea-gull know as it attacked and shredded the plastic until it was wound a satisfactory number of times around its neck. Its demented shrieks would have surely been enough to warrant attention from someone had it not been for the buzz of the bass that spilled out from the busy night clubs and bars, a noise deafening enough for even the roar of the sea to be swallowed. The stars up above that should have speckled the darkness had been stolen by a layer of yellow cloud emitted from the large ominous lamp posts stood regimentally along the city’s many streets. Stripes of black interspersed the jaundiced outline, wheezed out by the factories close-by still coughing despite them sleeping.

 

And still she waited…

 

Her body was rigid with cold except for the occasional fit of shivers that engulfed her uncontrollably. The blue haze of her skin camouflaged her into the grey waters though the aura of pure clarity that surrounded her separated her from the transience of the rest of the city. Her long shadow was broken by the waves as the night drew on and the moon glided across the sky her shadow shortened and distorted into something barely recognisable. Her eyes glanced up into the dense blackness that separated the remaining stars and she wished that there was no light; nothing to torture her with her reflection in mirrors; no piercing gazes from those who she knows judge her; no shadows. Shadows turned those treasured stuffed animals into monsters and gave a sanctuary to the beasts under the bed. Shadows followed her her whole life taunting and bullying. They were always there to laugh when she fell and to push her back down when she reached for a helping hand. At the day of choosing she was assigned Lucifer as her guardian and his presence was now felt stronger than ever.

Suddenly she moved. She wandered into the waves and as she did she whispered ‘You can’t touch me now’ before she was swallowed into the watery depths.

 

I felt her take her final breath and I knew she was coming to be reunited.

 

When I am With My Thoughts I am Most Alone

How Much of Me Is Left?

My face is swollen and I have a blood-shot eye.

Two of my knuckles are reddened and the rest of my hand is bruised.

My stomach is growling and my intestines are cramping.

I recently re-watched Girl Interrupted and I am angry at how it fails to represent the utter ugliness and devastation of mental illness. I am sat waiting to watch To the Bone that is coming out tomorrow and am ready to pounce and destroy it for glamourising mental ill-health on Netflix yet again. I am not delicately thin nor modestly pretty and I am massively under-represented in media and film that chooses to portray many peoples’ most intimate struggles.

So who can I truly identify with? I am not sure.

I am struggling to see myself in anyone in the mainstream media and also I am struggling to see myself in the future. I am in purgatory. I have lost my identity. I have lost my character.

My disordered eating has taken away my every day enjoyment and filled my time with stress and anxiety. My self-injury has destroyed  my clean skin and ability to be comfortable in in short sleeves.. My personality disorder has made me question if there is any substance to my character other than destruction and chaos.

I have come off an anti-depressant that I had been on for two years. I have noticed that I am more irritable, angry and withdrawn than I had been. Is this change just a sign of my true self- bitter and hugely anti-social? Has the darker side to me been masked by the drug for two years?

I want there to be a clear line drawn in the sand to help me identify if I am more than this ugly twisted-self I have become, or if I am an addict in need of antidepressants in order to function.

Food.

Me and food have always had a chaotic relationship.

As somewhat of a perfectionist, I am almost guaranteed to have some level of dysfunction when it come to all things edible. There is no set figure as to how much is just right for the individual and there is no real way to quantify health ie. a pretty perfect recipe for disaster.

Sure, BMI gives a vague number which will put you in one of three main and very vague categories. Body measurements are even more confusing. There is no way to achieve perfection so I guess I have instead always preferred to control and abuse food.

To make it clear, I have never received a diagnosis of an eating disorder though would hazard a guess that at various points in my life I would have met the criteria for one.

The reason that I have chosen to write about this, is that the therapist that I am working with currently won’t stop going on about it. It being food. I feel as if I am being ambushed. I love food, I hate food and unfortunately (as most humans are)I am reliant on food.

Food, food and more f***ing food.

This won’t be an eloquent post but shock-horror, I’m not particularly eloquent when it comes to my emotions either!

What I am attempting to do is to write down what I really should be saying to my therapist. I want to scream out that the motivation behind all of this dysfunction is not and never was to look like Kate Moss or any other model with stick-like proportioning despite the media chucking it down our throats.

It was certainly never a cry for attention or an attempt to get the love that I craved. When my eating was at its worst no-one had a clue. It went on like that for at least three years- unnoticed and destroying every part of me.

At school I would bunk class to puke in the girls’ toilets. I would act moody and have an awful attitude rather than risk my weak legs give way whilst doing a rigorous PE class. I was branded lazy and problematic. I preferred that then ever let anyone how I would cry in secret every lunchtime when it came to deciding whether or not to break my fast of three days.

I was not losing weight or putting on weight so how would have anyone known? But it does anger me that the therapist I am working with now is taking my attempt to lose weight so seriously. Were was that help and concern when I really needed it?

I sometimes question whether I’d be in a better place now if I had starved myself when I was twelve. Perhaps someone would have seen the pain and chaos and actually helped. Maybe I would not have been driven to more bizarre and risky measures.

I guess that I am really comparing and consequently invalidating my current and residual difficulties with food with those that I had over eight years ago. But I know that I am angry.

Not much has really changed.

It has been a while…

Things have come and gone since I last posted. I feel as if I’m not quite myself.

The London Bridge attack occurred the day after I had travelled to the capital and walked that bridge. That same day I had also walked over Westminster Bridge. It wasn’t any different to how it had been before the first of the terror attacks struck the UK. It screamed to me how transient life is. It made me feel ashamed for the suicidal thoughts that had been racing though my head. Those people who lost their lives or who had had their lives changed because of these events had not wished it to happen to them.

I also received the news on Monday that a past colleague of mine had taken her life. I didn’t know her well. I don’t know how to feel about it.

As a result I have spent a lot of time thinking. And thinking is not always a great thing.

 

 

Change: I will not look back and regret

So I have been stuck at a cross-road for some time. Many people say about mental ill-health that “it is not a choice to suffer, but it is a choice to recover“.

I somewhat agree, but I want to express just how hard it can be to choose recovery when your whole psyche is programmed for self-destruction. It sounds bizarre, but somewhere inside this messed-up head of mine I am still trying to repress that bit of me that wants to press the big red button.

I guess that is exactly why my anxieties that caused my self-harm transferred onto alcohol. Giving up self-sabotaging is a battle. Alcohol is a battle. I wish that my tongue had never tasted it’s burning poison and that my brain had never experienced its inhibitve powers. I wish that I had never felt the rush of calm as I first broke the seal of my skin, but I do not want to look back and regret.

I hope to go forwards and succeed so that one day I will be in a position to make change. I am going to prove to Occupational Health that I am fit and suitable to study medicine as I genuinely want to help others in a way that I wasn’t always helped. My scars will not become a barrier to my success  but rather an alternative step-forwards on a more scenic route that I am taking to my final destination.

 

A Letter From 25 Year-old Me to Today’s Me

Hey you,

It’s five years on and I am still here despite some of your efforts. The world isn’t too bad you know. My scars have faded but not yet gone and my hair is slowly recovering from when you assaulted it with bleach and dyes too numerous to list.

I am still unhappy with my body, but instead of trying to change, I am now content and accepting of my dissatisfaction towards it. It may not be ideal but it works for me. You won’t always hate your scars. You won’t always get those looks and those questions because of them. And anyway, if you did, your sass and otherwise awesomeness out-ways your struggles, addictions and past. At the moment, I am on a mission to demonstrate that I am more than my self-destruction. I will not fall into the self-fulfilling prophecy of self-doubt and the gaping black hole where my self-esteem should be. I know that at the moment you need all the validation and encouragement from others to see you through but that will change.

A lot will change actually. Five years is a long time. You might even be qualified as a doctor, but I won’t say for sure as I can’t pass on any spoilers. But what I can tell you is that you will have times when you fall back again, but you will make it through.

A word of advise though that I would like to pass on, alcohol is not your friend and most people do not want to be your enemy. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat! 

I am so proud of you for giving life and medical school another shot, as both you and I know how much harder it is to pick yourself back up after having stumbled. There is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed, hold your head high and scream to everyone I FUCKING WELL DESERVE TO BE HERE! Because you do. We put the work in, and wether or not attempt two at uni succeeds, it will not reflect on your worth or potential.

Lots of love,

Older You xx

Finding a Box That Fits.

I’m having a Zoolander-like crisis.

I just don’t know who the hell I am.

I feel that by the age of 20, most people have an understanding of their sexuality. I’m still fucking confused.

I am still waiting for that day when I wake up and realise that I am X, Y or Z. I need someone to tell me if it is love I feel.

I think that I am attracted to women, but my brain questions “is that just because you have had bad experiences with men?”.

I know that I am attracted to men, drunkenly at least, but are my promiscuous behaviours in clubs just a way for me to feel that I am regaining some form of control when in the past I didn’t?

Perhaps I’m bisexual or just asexual. Please can someone enter my world and let me know! Heterosexual or homosexual or any other type of sexual I would be fine with. I want to find a true identity and a genuine romantic love.

I hope to not feel an outsider when my female friends talk about guys or a fraud when amongst the LGBTQ community. I need to start learning to be able to decipher my emotions and build a stable sense of self. I am going to invest my time into learning to trust my internal experiences and others so that in the future I will be able to have a healthy relationship.

Catching My Breath

I’ve started to run. Not far, not fast, not consistently, but more than I did before. As someone who has experienced panic attacks, I have realised that running was more challenging than it was before.

Not because I am unfit and carrying more weight surprisingly. It is my brain and it’s ability to panic that has tied lead weights to my ankles and bound my chest too tight. I am having to learn how to breathe again and become comfortable with a pounding chest and rapid breaths.

I had never thought this would be the challenge that I would face. But from this, I have realised that my thoughts are more powerful than my physical abilities. I am going to take this new-found wisdom and re-motivate myself to give my all to therapy. I am going to have to make myself vulnerable in order to confront my beliefs that have held me back for so long.

Small Steps 🚶🏻

After recieving my first pay packet from my new job, today I’ve indulged in some retail therapy.

Fuck-it! I have put on a stone and a half (9-10kgs) since Christmas and as a result I have done my usual thing of hiding away from people and mirrors. To put it another way, going to a large outlet centre on a bank-holiday was kinda terrifying.

With my twin sister who is recovering from anorexia in tow, I felt more self-conscious than ever. “Oh dear!” she would exclaim, “they don’t do a UK size 4”. So I treated myself to two perfumes that were ridiculously reduced to under £10 and also to a running top and leggings.

Yes, it wasn’t a huge amount and you are probably thinking “why the hell is she telling us this?!”

Well my friends, I haven’t engaged in more exercise than a two-mile stroll into town for the last six months. I have been reluctant to, since my latest attack/ self mutilating episode directed to my arms. I finally found a long sleeved running hoody that was within my price range and I actually wanted to cry with joy. It is beautiful.

Summer Shines and the recent London Marathon have inspired me to re-discover my inner athlete. Fingers crossed that I can keep it up into June!

*Trigger Warning* Pictures of Self-Harm scars.

This post is a tricky one to get right. I want to get it out there that I am not of the opinion that people should have to cover-up scars but I do; I can’t deal with the potential questions and wandering eyes. Rather than stress over a long-sleeved top that might ride up my wrist a little too high when reaching across a counter, I like to utilise my make-up bag.

For readers in the UK, camouflage make-up can be requested as a prescription through your general doctor or accessed independently. There is an amazing charity called Changing Faces who provide free individual sessions at specific locations where they can teach the art of applying such make-up and colour testing for your skin. I highly recommend doing this if you can.

You have to be realistic in terms of how much these products can do. As much as their coverage is amazing, they will not be able to flatten scars or remove them completely.

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I have decided to show both sides of my arm as my under-side has more keloid-like scars as opposed to the upper-side. So here goes…

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The process is simple and accessible to even the make-up avoiding beings out there. Using specially designed camouflage products are often more effective as they last longer on the skin, offer a greater range of colours and also do not leave marks on clothing when applied correctly.

To achieve the coverage that I did, I first applied the lighter of my two creme colours all over with the sponge to provide a base and even my skin tone. I the used the darker one on the upper side of arm.

I then went on to use a small brush to apply a greater coverage to the larger scars in a cross-hatch pattern and in the creases at the edge of the scar before blending out.

I left this for five minutes to set before adding to bits that I had missed then generously coating with the loose powder.

The loose powder needs to be left for another ten minutes before being brushed away and then you are ready to go! You can purchase water-proof fixing sprays to make it last longer or for areas, such as your hands, that may be more prone to water-exposure. Mine can last up to three days providing I leave it alone.

I hope this will prove to useful to a few or provide relief to others who were otherwise planning on boiling in their long-sleeves and trousers as summer approaches. It has been amazing since I have been able to cover my arms but I want to emphasis that make-up is no alternative to self-acceptance and professional help.

6 Tools and 15 Minutes | When Time Doesn’t Heal Quick Enough