My social media story

*CW: mention self-harm/suicide*

Dearest lovely readers,

We have, over the years, been inundated about the dangers of social media, others arguing “it’s not so bad”. We have seen the arguments rage on since it’s invention. Let me tell you, a bit of my story – this is not the whole story as one part from my young, naïve is difficult to share.

Like most my age, I started on social media very young, maybe around 11 years old. It was fun. I became bewildered at how easily I could make my own website, how easily I could change things and it started an obsession. As I grew older I was able to talk to my friends any time I wanted, I could share ‘fun things’, I followed “deep” pages sharing in my teenaged angst. I felt understood. I was obsessed with a game call YoVille on Facebook when I was around 13 years old. That game caused some real danger and I learned of the dark side very young, but without the true understanding of how the world works.

Around 15 I was on another site, WeHeartIt, which I liked because no one else I knew was on it, I could find pictures I loved. Unfortunately, safe guards around self-harm and suicide weren’t there and I saw many pictures which affected me.

I grew an affinity to ‘liking’ people’s things as a way of showing affection, or telling people, “yes, this is good content” and I didn’t really even realise it. But by the time I was 18, I started lessening what I reacted to, putting up less and less statuses. But yet, I would endlessly scroll, and scroll, and scroll. This was my life until a few years ago, I learned that I was part of (one of) the big Facebook scandal in which millions of people’s data had been took for the 2016 election. That was when I did my research. Whilst I still kept on scrolling, I started to see through the façade, I started to see more content that was harming my mental health.

I became one of those who would compare themselves, and felt inferior. I then started seeing a lot of media content that would enrage me but had no choice in whether I could see it or not. And so I quit Facebook. But then I still had Instagram. The exact same cycle happened.

I became addicted to seeing these that would embroil me in emotions and I just couldn’t stop.

Overall, yes I enjoyed posting things and connecting with friends to see what they were up to and yes, even getting the few likes I got. But yes, I also felt disheartened when I didn’t get many likes, I felt anger at seeing people’s views that didn’t match my own, I also felt pity for myself seeing how “far ahead” others got in life. Social media made me critical of myself and others. And that just does not par up to who I am. So I quit.

And I feel free, I relinquished those chains.

Ultimately, it is how we use social media that matters and when it starts to feel awful, that is the time to quit.

Much love,

L x

Seeking help in a crisis state

*CW: Discussion on suicide and suicidal thoughts*

Dearest lovely readers,

Things have been hard lately. I have had somewhat of an unstable week where suicidal thoughts and ideation have been prevalent. Now, suicide prevention has always been something important to myself because of my experiences, at the moment I am hoping to campaign in my community on this.

But this week I did something new.

This is difficult to say because suicide has become such a taboo and triggering topic, but how are we meant to reverse and normalised these kinds of conversations if no one feels they can speak out, I suppose it’s my turn.

I went on a very exhausting emotional rollercoaster within the space of an hour I experienced a good 3 emotional phases and this drains me quite a lot so much. It meant I spent nearly the entirety of the next day sleeping because of the exhaustion. My mind became serious but there was a tiny part that told me to hold on. I wanted to drink, I wanted to binge, I wanted to cause self-injury. Instead I turned on my laptop and waited my turn to speak to someone on a web chat crisis helpline.

Whilst I waited to speak with someone I was anxious and nervous with thoughts like ‘was I really so bad that I needed this kind of help?’, ‘Do I really deserve this?’

I then spent the next hour unravelling everything going on in my mind and my heart and by the end of the session I felt a sense of unity within myself, a warmth of an imaginary blanket wrapped around me to keep me safe.

I lasted the night.

I’m so glad that I reached out because these people truly heard me. It showed that kindness is in the world. That it’s ok and acceptable and I didn’t need to struggle alone late at night. The person on the helpline helped guide me to safer feelings and gave me strength. I know I can go back to them should I ever need to and this time more readily.

I have historical experience with suicidal thoughts but I never reached out to these helplines because I didn’t feel I was “ill enough”. I would downplay it to myself. Seeking help from a stranger online can feel so scary but it’s something paramount to be able to deal with your mind. I wish I had done something like this other times so that I was not alone and dealing with the thoughts and feelings that scare me most.

These kinds of charities, such as CALM and their helplines are vital in order to save lives, truly save lives, to show that suicide is not the answer. Their work is vital given hundreds of people give up their lives each week. This kind of conversation needs to be normalised in order to reduce the people we love becoming just another statistic in the eyes of others.

We need to be able to say suicide is not the answer, we need to be able to see people as they are and give them safety, that is paramount. We need to rid of the archaic stigma that suicide is self, that we have to be “ill enough” to seek out support. Let’s start today, because there is hope and light to move forward.

Much love,

L x

If you are feeling suicidal I hear you, please, please contact someone whether your local crisis team, Samaritans on 116 123, contacting Papyrus, texting shout to 85258, or using CALM’s helplines at thecalmzone.net

The power of small: Time to Talk Day

Good morning my lovely readers,

I’d like to take a moment for you to check in with yourselves, how are you doing? For many, January seems to have been a long, hard month, a difficult time for many. I hope you are all well.

Next Thursday is a special day. It is the final Time to Talk Day. For those whom may not know what TTTD is, it is a day ran by Time to Change encouraging everyone to have a conversation with people around mental health in order to end mental health stigma. It is the final one now that Time to Change is ending. The theme is “the power of small”.

I am enjoying this theme because it really does remind me of how powerful “the small” can be. Many are hosting online events or campaigning on social media. As I do not have social media I won’t be partaking on the likes of Instagram or Facebook.

The aim is to remind people that you don’t have to great gestures to make a change in someone’s life, simply asking a friend or a family member how they are doing can be just as powerful. For myself, I am going to be sending an email/letter to my MP in the hopes of being able to raise more awareness in the community and see if anything can be done to help those becoming unwell in my local area.

The power of small is mighty. We don’t have to focus on a specific day, we can live the power of small. Realistically, we all have small actions that set the foundations of our days, which can ultimately transform our life. Small is the foundation. You don’t start your morning without many small actions such as hydrating yourself, getting dressed, when unwell, these “basics” can make all the difference.

Sometimes we have to go back to our foundations as a way of building back up and to foster more positivity within us. Get to where we need to be. Those foundations are small, but they’re strong.

I try to remember that small actions mean a lot, I also try to embed it with kindness. Because if we are kind to one person, or five people, in our lives or strangers, in a week, we might help an awful lot of people that way. We give a sense of meaning and community to us and those around us by showing small acts of kindness, even just by checking in with them.

So I hope you have some lovely conversations this week, and may you have a wonderful week ahead.

All my love,

L x

An little open letter to 16 year old me

Dearest Me,

You are now freshly turned sixteen years-old and right now, you are exhausted. You are overwhelmed. You are frightened. And looking back it is so easy and visible to understand why.

Sleep is a rarity, food has become the one thing you can control again, you would much rather just leave this plane of existence, you are overwhelmed and lost in emotions, chronic emptiness and baffled by what you experience inside your head. You don’t know why this is happening.

You now spend your lunch in the library alone working on preparing for your exams. You think life just cannot get much worse.

As you grow, life is going to get messier, more complicated, more nuanced. You will struggle, there will be times when it feels as if it could not get any worse, then it does. I will not lie.

You will make questionable choices when it comes to love, you experience the thrills of a partying lifestyle, your social circle grows then shrinks to those who matter most to you, who truly lift you up out of your bad times. You gain your family’s wholehearted support.

As you grow, life is going to become a bit easier though. You get therapy, and meet some wonderful workers who give you hope about the system.

Where am I right now nine years later?

You have found the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, one whom respects you and sets your world on fire, who gives you the healthy relationship you deserve, and understands better than anyone what you go through. You are about to graduate university, which may be a shock given you thought you’d never get there. You have made some wonderful friends too. Your immediate circle is filled with true friendship. You find your faith system.

More importantly, you become happy and satisfied with life, you’ve learned how your illnesses work and what to do in order to quell their flames. We struggle, but we do not struggle alone. That is what matters.

My advice to you: live life, explore what needs exploring, we don’t know what the future holds, we will get to where we need to be when the time comes.

Hold on, dear one, because life is just beginning, and it’s wondrous.

All my love,

L x

The importance of a support network

Hello all. I am wishing you joy, contentment and good health right now.

First off, we recently have had an influx of new lovelies joining us and I wish to say welcome to an accepting place where I am honest about my experiences but also try to bring hope and positivity into the discussion. Please do join in, and I hope you settle in well.

For those who may not know, a support network is is a group of people that you are connected to, who help to support you through life. It could be family members, friends, support workers, people you can go to when you need them. For myself, my support network consists of my immediate family, a handful of friends, and my partner and that’s enough for me. It’s a group of people who I trust, who uplift me and inspire me when I’m feeling low and so much more. I have been relying extensively on my support network at the minute with everything that’s going on in my life.

They can act in small ways such as helping me with food or simply understanding that at the moment I am quite limited in what I can do, or it could be greater gestures such as taking me to appointments throughout each week which had been a fair amount at the end of last year.

Once upon a time I wouldn’t have dared to seek support in others, I thought I had to rely on myself because it felt like it would all be a misunderstanding. It could cause the greatest suffering to myself, opening up in a way that I didn’t feel comfortable with. But now, I have no qualms about seeking support because I know it will be there.

It can be hard personally because we are thought of in society that we should be individualistic.

Pulling our socks up and getting out there.

Doing what we need to do.

But I am here to challenge this notion. We only got to where we are today because of collective support, I’ll say that again, we only got to where we are today because of collective support, collective intuition, collective knowledge, collective strength and collective hope. So why is it that nowadays it is frowned upon to ask for help even in things such as our daily jobs? Why is it we who have chronic conditions be the reason to blame when we cannot pull our socks up and do what what society deems correct?

I dislike living in an individualistic society where I have to live under the court of public opinion that does not fit the narrative my life has took. I know of so many people who have tried to go it on their own and haven’t succeeded. I see it hurt them time and again, and through my previous work I learned that we cannot do it alone. It is simply impossible, there is always someone around who will help another individual, I firmly believe in that.

When I finally learned the confidence to speak out about when I needed help and what kind of help I needed, I was glad. I managed to gradually spread that to my few trusted friends, to my current partner and my family. While I can sometimes feel like a burden, I suppose this is all natural, I am grateful for all that they do for me. I feel no shame in asking for support, for encouragement, for love, for inspiration, for strength, for kindness: especially kindness. It is a basic human right to show others kindness, compassion and understanding; this is essential in a support network.

More importantly we all deserve a support network, we all deserve our little community that give us strength and clarity and hope among many other things. If you feel so isolated and like you have no one, I promise you there is someone and that someone will turn into many people who will be what they you need them to be. We cannot go through life alone otherwise what kind of life is it?

This is something I am passionate about. I am grateful for my support network and I love them all dearly. Although at times it may feel like I don’t deserve them, in reality I do, because I help them back and I won’t forever need help getting around the house. I might go through long periods where I do a lot other times a little, my life is uncertain right now now but having a support network grounds me and there are so many benefits to having us apart network. I say to you, you deserve the love and support that I have received and more.

All the loving-kindness to you,

L x

Positively anti-New Year’s

Hi all!

Today I have decided to let my partner write a post, he wishes to be known as L . Now this isn’t a rant about New Year Resolutions, it’s more of a look at bringing a brighter new year with something more fulfilling and positive instead of a focus on restriction and change, losing something. So without further ado…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Happy New Year everyone, I hope you are all having a brilliant start to a (touch wood) amazing year.

I have been asked by the lovely L to write a post and what better framing device would be the idea of a New Years resolution.

The concept is pretty common and to some extent we have all decided, in the new year, that something about us has to change.

My issue with this idea may minor but I feel the hit the crux of the concept.

  1. Oftentimes we stretch too far, the goal we set is unsustainable for a sudden change. Though it may start well, the inevitable petering out of high New Years goals is a frequent and well heard thing.
  2. Others may feel pressured to change because of the new year. The idea of “New Year-New Me” is everywhere and the idea that we must be forever changing or else we fall behind can be far too much for many.

So my solution? My idea is an anti-new years revolution!

Instead of something new, what is a something of the previous year that you appreciated? Did you start reading more? Maybe you have been drinking more water as of late? Maybe you have been enjoying cooking more and trying new recipes?

Instead of in stating something new, take something that made you happy into the new year. A continuation of yourself into the new year, instead of a pressure to alter ones self a continuation of what made you happy.

Last year I started reading again, I managed to get through quite a few books and I fell in love all over again with some old favourite reads. I wish to continue that into the new year, reinforcing a good habit and get a few more good reads reviewed.

Just an idea to consider, what anti-resolutions would you make? I hope you have a wonderful year everyone.

Year in review and looking ahead

Hello dear ones, how are we feeling?

I’d like to take a little moment just for you to check how you are feeling, take a deep breath and just settle in for a little read. I’d also like to thank you all, our little community, for all your support this year. I’m so thankful for those of you reading my posts, my thoughts on different topics, it’s been quite the year hasn’t it? Welcome to all the very new people too, you are most welcome here.

This is a bit of a stereotypical post I suppose but I feel like doing it anyway. This year has undoubtedly been hard, at times heart-wrenching, and chaotic, I could easily list and rhyme off countless miseries of the year. But I’m more about hope in this little space. At times it can be more powerful than sadness and fear, which a lot of people can experience at this point. A time when post festive season blues can kick in, or when it can feel daunting that another year is here. People online mocking those thinking 2021 will “magically” be better. But I say, what’s stopping it from being like that?

Now, I’ve pretty much kept you all up to date on what I have been going through but I thought it’d be great to just have a little summary post of things I have enjoyed, little moments, small wins and what I’m so looking forward to now in this new year.

I think one of my all time favourite moments of 2020 was when I was down at my partner’s and we spent a hot, sunny day on the beachfront, sat on a bench and watching innumerous dogs pass by. It was just such a wonderful time, where I felt carefree and I was with my favourite person. We were just sat there for over an hour, and I loved it. Christmas was also so, so wonderful and I got to take plenty of Polaroids to put in a new scrapbook, very retro. Much earlier in the year I got to present and do a bit of motivational speaking for the first time, rather than purely speaking my experiences. It was so much fun!

I am proud of a few accomplishments of 2020 including passing another year of university with flying colours, starting my final year. I have, this festive season, tried two new foods and really enjoyed them. Earlier in 2020 I also found I could watch certain foods cook without being so averse to it. These are huge wins on their own.

I have learned the true value of gratitude and been so appreciative of my aspects of my life. My strength truly has been tested like never before and I’m still coming out winning. As my dissociation got worse, I became so afraid, but with the help of others and through my own self-determination I’m getting back on track. Again, I’m very grateful for this.

So what’s ahead? Well, a lot. This will be the year I finally graduate, I am hoping to do my Master’s Degree if not finding a job in mental health. I will be moving out, across the country. I hope to do more volunteering. I will be continuing this blog. I will get answers about what is causing all my physical pain, I will be trying to get my body stronger. I hope to finally be able to have savings.

It’s definitely sounding like a lot for that. But for now, my goals for the first quarter are to focus on assignments, get a little workout regime sorted and eat a little better, have a small emergency savings fund, focus on deepening my connection to Buddhism and finding a new volunteering placement. Little actions with little steps are the key here. Of course, I will also hopefully create some good content for you here as this section of the internet has been so wonderful for me. I hope that is reciprocated.

I hope you are able to find some wins in 2020, and I hope you all have a magical year ahead filled with such joy, goodness and happiness.

Be gentle with yourself and take care,

L x

Post-Christmas

Hello all.

I apologise for the lack of posting last week, I was a bit unwell and burned out after a very difficult Friday, but I am now well-ish and back.

This week has gone well, I feel very appreciative of my mood being better. As the world knows, Friday was Christmas. I had doubts a few months back about what Christmas would look like and whether there would be joy. I was very glad to be proven wrong, this Christmas season has been utterly wonderful. My partner who is still here for a little while got to celebrate Christmas with my family.

Simply put, there was good food and very good company. I got some very thougthful presents and there was much joy to be had and some good entertainment. I ended the day rather relaxed. Boxing day yesterday, was a bit busy doing a few jobs that needed doing but we have more than relaxed today.

I am not going to list or show all the presents I got, that was a reason why I came off of social media, I don’t see the point. It was actually so wonderful to simply be in the moment, taking the odd polaroid picture to capture the day and be with those closest to me. I sent the occasional text to friends, it was bliss.

I dressed up a bit for the day, which I haven’t done in so long and felt nice. By 4pm I was in loungewear I won’t lie. I also managed to stay sober despite the temptations which is a massive win. I have also found two new foods I like this festive season. I am so proud of myself!

I have nothing but praise and thanks for this year’s Christmas; I am ever more thankful each year that passes.

How was your Christmas?

Love,

L x

25 lessons

Good evening all,

So I love my lessons it seems. Yesterday was a big birthday (for me), I turned 25, I have had 7 additional years I thought I’d never see. Though I’m still young, I have learned a lot already, I’ve seen a lot of life in such a short time. I turned a quarter of a century, in the middle of a pandemic, it was my first sober birthday since 16 and probably my last one in my hometown (for a while at least). Yeah, that’s big for me.

So I thought I’d do a small post, just sharing general life lessons I have learned so far, it’s mainly a reminder to myself, should I ever forget. Something to reflect on as I get older.

1. Life can throw many, many terrible things at you, sometimes all at once (think 2014, L)

2. You don’t have to have everything figured out by age 18.

3. Following on from 2, plans will never go exactly according to your schedule.

4. Everything is impermanent.

5. You will see both the wondrous and awful nature of humans at some point.

6. There are over 7 billion versions of reality and what life should look like on this planet.

7. If you don’t want to experiment or “go wild” because you’re ‘young’, then don’t.

8. Live life according to yourself, and no one else.

9. There are extremes to every view and thought in this world.

10. Always seek help where you need it, in any given situation.

11. You’re going to mess up. That is an inevitable fact. No one leaves their life without making mistakes.

12. Don’t be afraid of having an opinion. It’s how you find your values.

13. Don’t be afraid of conflict. Though do not seek it out.

14. Violence is never the answer.

15. Set goals and dream, but be prepared to be flexible.

16. The future is never guaranteed, but certainly seek it out.

17. Sometimes being curious about the future is enough to find your way there.

18. Everyone has something to contribute.

19. Try your best to be compassionate, understanding and empathetic.

20. Communicate.

21. There is always something fun to do.

22. Don’t procrastinate.

23. Life has its meaning.

24. Everyone has strength.

25. Always, always keep going.

Much merry love,

L x

Reflections on November

Hello all my lovelies,

If you read my posts you know I love a good reflection. So I thought, why not reflect on a tumultuous month such as November?

I will be honest, November is a month I am struggling to remember giving that my mental state is not at a decent capacity. There were definitely some atrocious days but I can’t say it was all entirely bad and these words have such strange meanings, I guess the correct version would be it was a hard-hitting month.

So I have a couple of topics in mind, let’s take it that way. I think rounding up with all the things that cause stress would just make this a very depressing post. While I’m not for toxic positivity I do think I need to be realistic.

So, let’s start with relationships. Relationships are often a foundation of how we cope, they are apart of us. Having at least someone to back us up can make all the difference. I can happily say I have had no problems with support and positive relationships during November. My family may not have understood what I was going through, but they checkeup on me and helped where they could. Whether that’s taking up additional chores from myself or feeding my wonderful guinea pigs: and they gave me respect. My partner was fantastic, he was essentially my sounding board and while I tried to be a good partner to him, he was very respectful when I couldn’t give 110 percent all the time. So no complaints here!

I guess health would be the more contentious issue. I will be straight up honest and say that my GP he was of no use during this time, I understand that there are many stresses going on behind the closed doors (I’ve seen what happens as a GP receptionist). But I have come to find out that when I asked for my antipsychotic back and he made no mention of my circumstances to the psychiatrist it essentially was “can L have her antipsychotic back?”, so I’m glad I took it upon myself to write a letter about my mental capacity when I was more lucid. I would like to let you know that I have since gone it back until my telephone assessment with the mental health team in a couple weeks time. They were shocked at how I have deteriorated and quite unsure as to why my GP did actually take me off it. So I am happy to say I have been sleeping for the first time in many weeks.

With physical health, I’m not further forward until I have MRIs and the next rheumatology appointment but I have since purchased a support to help me sit properly, knee braces and a cane to walk better. They do help so that is also a bonus and I haven’t gotten physically worse which I really count as a win.

University! What a bonus. It’s been a really positive one, because I got back my first assignment results for my final year at 72% and 78% which I am quite happy with. I have feedback that is constructive and can use in the next assignment to hopefully improve upon. My tutor who will be helping me on the research project in particular has been so supportive and understanding which is really just refreshing so I know, should I falter infuture they will be there to ensure that I take care of myself.

November felt truly terrible in the moment but this is why reflection is important. You gauge the true impact of each moment and my reflection has shown me that yes it was awful but I had a pretty successful November, that’s my takeaway and I think it really puts things into perspective.

Wishing you all my love,

L x