End of British Summertime

Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Today the clocks went back an hour, and at 5:15pm it was dark. It really is the end of summertime.

I'm not sure why I feel so reflective today but oddly, I do. Summer 2014 really has been a major turning point for me, and it is one that I will never forget. However, my thoughts have been with winter and more specifically Christmas for a while now. Maybe because I work in retail and I've been selling roll wrap for weeks, or maybe because I am an organised biatch who has been Christmas shopping for about a month now, but I really am looking forward to enjoying the festive season. I think if I'm honest, it's because I'm looking forward to embracing Christmas properly this year.

For an eating disordered person, Christmas is hell on earth. The food is a nightmare, and nothing else gets a thought. But, I'm not that person any more and therefore, food isn't an issue or a priority. Yes, I AM looking forward to mince pies, tubs of minature heroes, Christmas dinner, Baileys etc but more than that, I'm looking forward to enjoying it all without anxiety! I can't wait to see the look on my family's faces when they open their presents, teasing my dad about the crap toy he gets in the Christmas cracker, singing and dancing to the ridiculously cheesy Christmas songs that I love.. yes I can safely say that this year, I'm having my Christmas back.

I think Christmas needs that magical air about it for it to become exciting, and after a conversation with a good friend of mine today, I've realised that the magic I once possessed, got a bit lost. The magic we start out with as a child, usually vanishes in our teenage years when we become cynical, sensible or the nightmare teenager that our parents pray not to have. Although I know that I'm a very mature 20 year old, I'd not really acknowledged the sadness behind that until today. I was forced to grow up fast, resulting in lost childhood and freedom. I learned how to be responsible and to take life seriously, I gave up emotion (laughing and crying) because I forced myself to show the world that I could take care of myself. But with freeing myself from this eating disorder, I'm beginning to regain that magic, laughter and warmth. The behaviourist in me know that it is possible to unlearn these attrThe inner child in me that never once had a chance to live, needs to show her face again and take life less seriously - enjoy life again.

The festive season is the perfect time to regain that excitement for life again, and I think the dark nights, cosey fire and hot chocolate that I'm consuming, highlight how close Christmas really is.

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Free Speech

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Last night, BBC3 Free Speech was aired from a mental health hospital in London. I was a little late to the party, so had to watch it on iPlayer, but the audience used for the debate were 100 young people with experience of mental illness.

Firstly, I applaud the BBC for doing this! It was refreshing to see an audience made up of what you would describe as 'normal' people. Nobody looked ill and everyone who spoke, gave interesting, intellectual and thought provoking comments - I really hope that this alone has managed to open people's eyes to how mental illness is invisible and it really can happen to anyone.

Some of the topics covered were also very thought provoking, starting with 'Can you ever like your mental illness?'. This question is something I've never actually thought about so I was quite interested in the answers which were given. For me, I believe Anorexia can be both your best friend and your worst enemy. At the worst phase, you lose all of your friends and family because you isolate them, leaving you with only your mental illness for comfort. I guess at this point, you actually learnt to like your illness? However, in retrospect, I'm not sure it was me actually liking my illness.. more that I was so consumed by it all that I had no idea what I really liked, therefore proving that an illness is also your worst enemy. From the present day perspective, yes I like that I was so ill. I would not be the person I am now without going through what I have experienced. Despite not wishing it on my own worst enemy, I would not change it all for anything.

Another comment that I was extremely fond of, was that mental illnesses should be treated in just the same way as physical illnesses. We do not choose to get depression, anxiety or an eating disorder, just like we do not choose to break a leg or fall ill with cancer or diabetes. Controversially, I (we) believe I do have the choice as to whether we recover or not, which is perhaps dissimilar to a cancer patient. I do think that as soon as people starting realising that mental illnesses are illnesses and not choices, the stigma will reduce.

Hopefully, the BBC have now got the snowball rolling and other programmes tackle topics like these in a similar way. Obviously, I know I find it interesting but maybe people who are less aware will learn something and there opinions will change.
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

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'The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change' - Carl Rogers
Today I was reminded of why I am a Psychology student. Sat in a lecture, listening to the different approaches to personality is not a passionate interest of mine, but I am always intrigued by the humanistic approach and how it places value on the self, uniqueness and self-actualization. For me, this is one of the approaches I like the most and definitely try and apply to myself when I can.

It is the above quote that sent my mind into a spiral of thought because it is undoubtedly true. I am definitely feeling the pressures of third year already - the overwhelming amount of work to do combined with what feels like a short supply of time - and along with stress brings out those unhealthy coping mechanisms that we all have in one form or another. However, it is only when I accept that those mechanisms are my way of coping, rather than brushing them under the carpet and ignoring them, then I can acknowledge and change them.

I am also beginning to think that my rigid way of thinking is becoming more flexible because I am starting to accept myself. The fewer comparisons I make, the more time I spend looking after myself. It may seem selfish but it has meant I am more happy and content. I know what is right for me, and accepting this has meant I have been able to make changes for the better. It has also meant that my outlook on what 'recovered' looks like, is far different to how I initially envisaged it. I no longer believe that recovery just stops when we declare ourselves 'free', but more that we always continue to grow, develop and change.

Of course, change isn't always easy to accept, and changing traits we don't like isn't the simplest of things to do. However, if we allow change I believe we lose a huge weight of negative, destructive energy and it is possible to become the person we want to be.
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World Mental Health Day 2014

Friday, 10 October 2014

Today is World Mental Health Day, and it's something I've seen trending over twitter all day (and week actually). I felt quite honored to be mentioned in certain tweets and I love that as a community, there are many people myth busting, trying to decrease stigma and generally raising awareness. I love that people are talking to each other about mental health, offering people an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on - it's definitely a step in the right direction.

However, for me today is a day that could have gone by without me even knowing about it. Part of me is ashamed to admit that but actually, most of me is rather happy. I'm too busy living, to have to time to get involved. I think for me, and I've said previously, getting involved in mental health awareness is a way of clinging onto unhealthy behaviours and means I still be attached to 'safety', without it becoming destructive.

Even though I'm contradicting myself and I'm actually writing about today, it's more to write about the one thing that still annoys me. How as a society, mental health and physical health are separated. We all have both a mental and physical health but at the end of the day, health is health. It all equally as important, and the sooner we understand this, the less time we waste prejudging people. Just like I can break my leg tomorrow, it is just as easy for you to be struck with depression. It's so important to take care of our brain as well as our liver, kidneys, heart etc. Looking after ourselves seems to have become something many people find difficult or not worthy of, yet I cannot think of a logical explanation as to why this is acceptable. We need to learn to take time to look after our brains more, as I feel we definitely neglect them.

So, my mental health is actually pretty good right now. How is yours?
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I Hope You Dance

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Recently, I heard from my old EDU therapist. We exchanged emails about my trip to Thailand and how well I was doing, and she told me that she was extremely proud of me. She told me to listen to a song, so all I want to do is leave the lyrics on here because they have really touched my heart.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance. I hope you dance.
I hope you dance. I hope you dance.
Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance, 
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. 

Dance, I hope you dance. 

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Hello October

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

I think October is my favourite month of the year. I adore the sunshine beaming down on the trees, highlighting the autumnal colours. I love seeing conkers as they remind me of the days I spent with my Dad and brother, collecting millions only to throw them over the fence as we didn't know what to do with them any more. I love that it's now perfectly acceptable to come home from Uni at 4pm and immediately change into pyjamas, drink hot chocolate and burn my 'Fireside Treats' candle. Yes, I do love October.

It's only Wednesday, but as far as Uni goes, my week is over. I am quite fortunate of my job at the moment, as having 5 days a week purely for Uni work seems a bit unnecessary right now. However, I'm sure as deadlines creep closer, I shall cherish all the time I can get. My time at Uni this week has been productive though - I have been introduced to new modules and I'm very happy with the content that I shall be learning. I have also been to two successful meetings, one with my dissertation supervisor and one with my personal tutor. I already feel raring to go with my dissertation now, which may seem very over prepared but I hate stress, so it's definitely right for me.

I have been met with a few doubts this week but have been overwhelmed by how kind people have been to me. Comments including how well I look, and how I'm glowing would have previously caused anxiety, but now I am embracing the compliments and actually feel proud of them. Not to forget how awake and alive I feel. I am no longer struggling to concentrate in lectures, and stayed up laughing and dancing with my housemates to some old yet brilliant tunes. Who'd have thought I'd be yee-haaing to 'Cotton Eyed Joe' at 11pm last night? Either way, that's how I want to remember my final year of Uni!
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