Self-love and body positivity

*CW: Mentions of body issues, food intake*

Dearest lovely readers,

Isn’t the weather getting lovely? I’m seeing more sunshine. I was actually able to go for a couple of walks after months of not being able to. It was wonderful! Hoping to get out again soon. Spring is coming. Now onto today’s topic…

The concept of self-love and body positivity are very important topics. Currently in the UK we are seeing a rise in eating disorders and body image issues, something I’ve always struggled with. Self-love is also at a low. Self-love comes many forms. According to the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation, they define self-love as a state of appreciation of oneself. It grows from how we treat ourselves and the actions that sustain us physically, psychologically and emotionally. It is about putting yourself first and not setting yourself on fire to keep others warm. Self-love is finding ways of keeping your well-being at the highest quality and priority. Self-love can mean different things for different people. It can take presence by caring for yourself and dealing with yourself compassionately. It takes root by truly loving every part of yourself physically and mentally.

For me self-love is shown in many, many forms. Ultimately, I tie myself to love through body positivity. I have some days where I can’t love my body, other days I caress it gently and see nothing but positives. I used to hate who I was as a person, but I’ve grown and now see the wider context. I never loved myself, and felt worthy of nothing. Now, I know I deserve better. I make time and space for my feelings, for my well-being, for me. Self-love starts by you accepting who you are, a declaration to yourself saying you will do better by yourself. It is about reacting appropriately to you and your body’s needs. Self-love is a radical act to see yourself holistically.

This is the thing.

Self-love is radical. In a world filled with media of people hating others, media and beauty industries telling you how to better yourself, it is radical to step out of that and see what it is you truly want and need. Self-love in a world of berating is a beautiful thing. It shows that there is more to be positive about, that propaganda and narrow minded views aren’t reality and that we are capable of more. That our unique selves are worth more than we are told.

Body positivity is thrown around a lot. I have brought it in with self-love because a lot of people equate self-love to our bodies, and yes there is more to self love but body positivity is important. Body positivity isn’t about shaming others, it’s about celebrating all bodies no matter the size or ability. Because no one should be concerned with what another looks like. We are all unique and divine regardless. Being body positive reduces shame as sizes and abilities become more accepted in the norm. And this is the right thing to do. It astounds me how so many people are okay mocking others for what their body may look like, I say to them:

Why are you so concerned? It’s not your body and it’s not your life.

Leave people be.

My personal story

My history is complicated. Following panic attacks occurring regularly at 10 I started restricting my food intake to cope, it lasted a few years. I ended up being so concerned over the space I took and developed unhealthy body image. I then started binge eating from 15 following my first breakdown as a teenager. My body shape has changed drastically over the years. And I had a preoccupation with it. People take it upon themselves to hate on me for my shape, assume I’m lazy and it’s my own fault. I have tried changing but will power limits itself eventually as it does for many. I didn’t care for my body a lot of the time, I didn’t love myself enough to care for it. I tried exercise but end up in pain. Then I read Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon and it opened my mind to the truth. I won’t lie, it was a healing read. Over the years, more from around 2019 I started to take better care of myself and find ways to heal years of damage. I am now of a higher weight due to medications but I have a lot of positive health habits. I am slowly healing. As I have tried to take care of my body and my mental health in more productive ways, I have learned to love myself. I see myself as a person worthy of love, respect and care. Some days are harder yes, there are days I don’t really want to look in the mirror. But that is just a part of it. Compared to 2018… I am in a far better position.

This is a call to love yourself, love your mind, love your emotions, love your body. You deserve it.

L x

P.S. The next few weeks will be focusing on a series of positive psychology posts 🙂

Why change can be good

Dearest lovely readers,

I hope you are taking good care of yourselves during these trying and conflicting times. Remember, this is a safe space. Take a moment if you need to.

Now, change is a bit of a funny topic isn’t it? It can be like an urge sometimes. To do something different, from a new hairstyle to changing careers or making changes for our health. Change is where something is different, altered or modified. Change in relationships can occur or states related to well-being. Change can be scary, unfamiliar, it can bring discomfort and fear. Today, I want to explore that a little bit.

Change can bring growth

The term “growth” tends to be quite malleable, it can mean different things to different people, so let me explain further. Changings jobs, relationships or habits might first breed discomfort but that is okay. We need to be able to move from our comfort zone in order to learn more about ourselves, to achieve what we really want, and find more awareness. The chances are, by testing ourselves, we grow. We move to a more authentic space in who we are. For me personally, my biggest change was starting therapy. I was lost in my identity, and had to face the discomfort of opening up without barriers, and I did for the most part. I was asked in the first session what I expected to come from therapy, and despite my knowledge, I didn’t really know how to answer. Session by session I let go of my layers and found myself deep in a phenomenon called post-traumatic growth. In essence, post-traumatic growth is a feeling of relief by letting go of past traumas. After a few months, I started to feel almost enlightened as to what I was capable of. I grew.

Change brings progress and opportunities

This is a big one. Sometimes, to get further ahead, we must actively seek change. Without it, we are not able to find ways to progress in a particular area of life. Change and motivation are required. Opportunities sometimes have to be sought and prepared for. For example, way back in 2016 I had to prepare for university. I sought out opportunities within the mental health community to boost what I learned and make change in society. Speaking out about stigma was a terrifying prospect. Thoughts came like, “can I speak my truth to complete strangers?” It wasn’t until I threw myself in the deep end did I learn how amazing it really was. I developed a new sense of confidence, I started making connections, I increased resiliency and climbed further than I thought I would. Completing university was difficult, as you know, that final year I was dreading trying to come up with a dissertation piece. But with guidance and preparation I created a unique research project that psychology has yet to really enter. Seeking out opportunities, whether they work or not, is good. It means we dare to reach out. It means we can gain new experiences, see the world a different way and find what enriches our lives.

Change allows you to build strength, flexibility, and adaptability

Finding yourself in the midst of change brings a myriad of actions and emotions. By finding your way through every thing that comes forth, you learn to be more flexible and adaptable. Without even realising it, you also build your tolerance, strength and resilience because of the changes. In a way, I was able to do this when working on my agoraphobia and behavioural activation. Through planning my days, and making goals, I was able to be more flexible in how my days looked, I adapted to leaving my home. I found strength in finding healthier habits. I still fall back in to a rut sometimes, that is how recovery goes but I am now able to withstand most changes that come my way. Likewise, in quitting alcohol a few years ago, I was scared about how my social life would look like and losing friendships. But through change, I was able to start going out for meals rather than meeting at the pub, I have far more meaningful conversations and contact.

Change really can bring the goodness out in life, we just need to prepare sometimes, or actively seek it. Don’t be afraid to mix things up, or contemplate what you might like to change. I haven’t always succeeded in my changes but that is part of the process.

Much love,

L x

All about grief

Dearest lovely readers,

How are we all? I want you to check in with yourself for a moment and take a breath.

Today I want to talk about grief. This may be a sensitive topic for some so I understand returning at another time. Grief can be very difficult topic and an even more difficult emotion to deal with. This is because it means the loss of something whether that is the passing of loved ones, pets/companions, a job or relationship. We all experience grief that is as unique as ourselves, given the current climate, I feel there is a collective grief occurring right now. So many of us have lost something in the previous couple of years and it is completely okay to be experiencing grief. If, however, it is taking over your life or you’re wondering if you need to talk to someone, please reach out to someone you trust and a medical professional.

According to Mind, grief occurs following bereavement and is the process we go through. They acknowledge that it can also occur from changes in circumstances. There are two forms. The first being anticipatory grief (when it is expected) and secondary loss (the struggle we have when thinking of the future given the loss or change in circumstances). I think knowing where we are at with our grief can be so useful in understanding the process a little more. When grief occurs it can take many forms and it is emphasised that there is no time limit on how long grief takes place for. There can be sadness, and shock, numbness, panic, and anger. If you lose someone to suicide, then there is a whole host of more complex feelings that arise and that is okay. There is support for everyone out there.

There are many charities that can support you through grief, a primary bereavement charity is Cruse. They highlight that there is no ‘normal’ way grieve. It is common to feel anger or go over the details of the bereavement and have sleep and appetite changes and especially feel lonely. There are ways to circumvent some of this through exercise, sleep hygiene and podcasts. It is okay for grief to be intense at the beginning, especially on specific and special dates. Other ways of finding hope can be through yoga, or journaling, and mindfulness. It is important that if you are supporting someone going through this that you are there to listen.

An important thing to note is that, according to the Mental Health Foundation, grief right now might be compounded with restrictions on visits and seeing others. The changes right now can bring a lot of emotions to the forefront that are difficult to manage. We may experience physical pain and have a harder time of making sense of everything.

My Personal Story

Now, to be a bit more personal, my history with grief is complex. I spent years thinking I had an inability to feel grief. My first memorable loss was my great-grandmother at just 15 years old. I saw her suffering and it was anticipated, she had lived a good life yes, but I was close to her. I internally imploded after her passing causing my emerging traits of a personality disorder. When I lost my two grandparents in the span of 8 weeks I carried on as normal. I didn’t feel much which I felt guilt for. But after a few months, I started behaving irrationally. Grief was not the word I would have used in those moments to describe what I was feeling. Given the way personality disorders can bring unpredictable reactions, I would now say I grieved in my own way as a way of protection. Last year, in the span of 7 months, I lost 4 pets. This is when the grief felt more… natural I suppose. I lost my two guinea pigs which, as you know, were my companions since I had my last breakdown. When I lost Brenda, it felt like my recovery went back several steps and it has been hard finding my footing again. Because I adored them and trusted them, I shared all my emotions with them. I have cried I won’t lie. But I also felt my emotions instead of fighting them. I think that is growth.

All of this to say, we feel grief in our own way, and there really isn’t a right way to grieve. Fighting emotions and thoughts that come up only make things harder. I have had some wonderful family members and a partner to lean on over the years as I navigated these losses. It doesn’t get harder, but a little easier as time passes. Now, after therapy, I do miss my family members, I miss my companions, but it doesn’t rule my life. Right now, when in flare ups, I grieve my past when I was far more able-bodied. I miss not having chronic pain, I miss being more clear-headed. And it is okay that I recognise how my life has changed. I can feel so much more limited, even though I am not. I am learning to adapt and I think that is key here. We must learn to adapt with our changes and losses, it is possible. We must hold on to our love, and walk with grief rather than running away. It is not easy but I can guarantee you have the strength.

I love you all,

L x

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/bereavement/about-bereavement/

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/feelings-and-symptoms/grief-bereavement-loss/

Understanding grief

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/change-loss-and-bereavement

A humble return

Dearest lovely readers,

As 2021 gradually closed so much has happened. I am now ready to return to the blogosphere, the posts will probably be one every two weeks as I gradually return to the world.

First I’d like to discuss a little of the bad things that happened to me.

Since posting, my heart broke twice. I lost both of my guinea pig companions, first Blossom in September which was long and drawn out. Brenda the week of my birthday in December which happened so suddenly. Losing Brenda shuck me back a few steps in recovery, I was not ready. I also have become more estranged with my biological father through his actions – I’m not as surprised as it happened. He lives around 7 miles away and I haven’t seen him in over a year and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

However, despite all this drama, and upheaval much good came out of the year.

I saw my beautiful sister finally become a bride, and a great one at that. It was probably occasion of the year for me, she was radiant and seeing her so happy was truly wonderful and so pure.

I have found new volunteer work as a Recovery Coach which I’m just starting, it’s all very exciting!

I have decided to change my last name. Names are a funny thing, it’s essentially a sound that we recognise as “us”. And I’d like to explore the phenomenon in a future post. But my surname does not feel like my identity anymore so will be taking a surname in honour of my stepfather.

I have renewed my sense of self, finally love my body, have a determination to move out and find work later in the year. Once. My health problems have been sorted which I’m currently actively trying to do. Because we can’t stay stuck forever.

Mental health services are currently lagging but I’m trying my best to work with them.

So much is happening and to ensure I dedicate time to exploring all things well-being; here is a draft schedule of the topics to come:

Grief and well-being

Why change can be good

Name and identity

The concept of self-love and body positivity

Spirituality and well-being

I hope these topics sound interesting, if there is anything you wish for me to cover, comment or message me on the contact form.

I am really excited about what 2022 has to offer and I hope you are too.

Let me know how you’ve been.

Much love,

L x

[  ] the future[  ] Self-love/body positivity/fat acceptance[  ] A reflection of the year past[  ] Spirituality

Book review: The Sober Girl Society Handbook

Dearest lovely readers,

As a final post on alcohol awareness, I wanted to share a very little review of my favourite ‘quit lit’. I have been a fan of the blog Sober Girl Society formed by Millie Gooch for a little while. When I saw this book I pre-ordered!

The Sober Girl Society Handbook is a guide on how to quit alcohol, offering tips and advice as well as Gooch sharing her own experiences. The book immediately starts with experiences Gooch had been in, and immediately, it is relatable. She harnesses the power of humour to guide through “breaking up with booze” to “reaping the rewards” and “navigating the new normal”.

There’s a whole host of resources in the back of the book, sources of information and support.

The book contains a lot of information, but it is easy to digest and accessible to read, the chapters pace in a steady manner ending with summaries of “sober girl gains”. There are so many topics from alcohol and the body to the mind and wellness. It also covers relationships and how to cope as a sober person, and the option of being sober curious.

This book normalises sobriety, dispelling the myths. I honestly love it. So if you are curious at all, I recommend this book!

Much love,

L x

My life with Time to Change

Good morning to you, how are you?

There has been a change within my life, one that will be causing a transition in the coming months. Since September 2016 I have volunteered with social movement Time to Change as a Young Champion and alumni which has been in operation under Rethink Mental Illness and Mind for over a decade. As of March 2021, Time to Change will no longer be running as funding will no longer be available. Time to Change focused on reducing mental health stigma and discrimination and changing attitudes around mental health. They have interventions in the general public, employment and eventually in schools etc. for children and young people: which is where I was involved.

I remember Time to Change from the Stand-Up Kid days and knew that one day I’d get to talk about my experiences, at 16 I personally felt I had a lot to learn first. So at 21, I saw applications were open and sent mine on that day. I started out still loving the drink, unaware of who I was, still shy and filled with self-stigma. I will finish my time as a confident, outspoken, ambitious and knowledgeable woman. A woman who yes, has mental illness, but that is just one facet of my identity. I found a deep passion for mental health problems and it’s place in society.

I was trained to speak to others across the nation, speak my story of stigma and my experiences with EUPD among other illnesses, what hasn’t been effective and what could help in future. I spoke to my MP at the time and allowed for TTC the opportunity to speak in Parliament. I attended the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit and attended a reception at Downing Street. I have done a lot.

At first, I was so nervous in what I was doing, while I’m a good public speaker this was all very new. After a few long term dips in my mental health, and the team’s overwhelming support I started to feel so much more confident, I ended up wanting to take more on. I enjoyed doing the events, I was even able to join my partner on his events and it was always so wonderful to be able to watch him speak.

The team themselves are visibly passionate about what they do, they all have such vibrant personalities and each bring something unique to TTC. Their own skills and knowledge astound me, I feel I have found good friends in some of them.

But what I will take from my time with this amazing initiative is finding my family, in friends, in my partner whom I met there (I fell for him in the initial training weekend), in the sense of belonging and being allowed to explore what my mental health meant to me, finding great people at the centre of the cause. I will take knowledge of other people’s experiences, of learning what real boundaries represent, a new confidence and being able to challenge injustice. And so much more.

I think TTC represented so much good in this world, and I will be sad when it ends. But I know my activism will continue, I have a few big ideas churning.

All my love,

L x

My relationship with food: a history

Buckle up beautiful people, we are about to get personal.

*CW: discussion around food*

I recently talked about my relationship with food and now leaning into intuitive eating. I thought I would open up a bit and discuss more about my experience with this relationship. I have never really opened up about my experiences for fear of ridicule. But I think it’s time to be open.

So yes, my negative relationship with food started around 11 years old as a way of coping with all of the panic attacks I had and everything feeling so out of control and no one around me really knew what to do with me. I found the controlling what I let in to my body to be addictive and I spiralled so quickly it all feels like a blur today. I became incredibly fussy, I restricted what I ate a lot, I started learning tricks to look like I ate more than I did, I could flat out refused to finish my plate saying I was full or didn’t like a particular food. At this point it was never about my weight, just control. That was until I started secondary school.

I felt isolated pretty quickly and changed schools after the first half-term, I ended up wearing more and more make up and became conscious of my body to a new extent. I started weighing myself a lot. I started to worry about how much space I took up in this world.

Then I ended up in hospital on an unrelated reason, or what I like to believe to this day, I had already been anaemic once by this point and the doctors were very concerned at how little iron was in my blood and body. I had nothing in reserve. It was a little bit of a wake up call that I needed to eat.

It took a while and a few more iron tablets that were needed for me to begin eating 3 meals a day again. But I certainly couldn’t have a lot of variety in foods. The thought and sight of many foods made me feel sick and gross, polluted. Only last year did my psychotherapist suggest cibophobia and food neophobia. A fear of food, I had restricted and altered my mindset about food so much that it’s left me with a very irrational fear.

This continued, I put on weight and turned 16, after the passing of a family member I became unwell with emerging traits of a personality disorder and severe depression. Nearing the end of year 11 I started to once again control my food, except this time I binged. Whatever was cheap. I don’t want to think about how much money I have spent on food over these last few years, probably more than cigarettes. I became addicted to food and the brief numbing it would bring. I would skip meals in place of a binge.

At times I’d hate my body and try dieting and restricting, it would never last long. I had no respect of my body. Exercise became triggering and I would overdo it. And then binge. Looking back, I don’t understand why I didn’t love my body, I certainly wasn’t as “fat” as I felt.

Now here I am, at my highest weight and respect my body more than ever. I ended up, during lockdown, having at least one binge eat every single day until I realised I needed to change. Now, I am learning my hunger signals more and more each day. It’s been weeks since I have had a binge and there are no temptations to constantly buy snacks. I’m hoping as I fulfil more principles I become more open to trying new foods. It’ll take time but I’m prepared. My relationship is slowly healing and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.

If you are struggling with food right now, I see you.

Much love,

L x

Reflecting and what is to come

Good morning beautiful human beings.

I hope you all had an excellent start to your week yesterday, I certainly did with many small wins. I decided not to post on Sunday as it just did not feel right given everything that has been going on in the world, and rightly so. I spent last week learning, and reflecting, so much so my mental health was put on the back burner until last night.

So yes, I have consumed a lot of content, books, podcasts, articles and videos and did a deep dive into my “all or nothing” mindset, which can be quite debilitating, EUPD can be sneaky that way, I never see her coming. But the obsessive haze has lifted and I now am able to properly take care of myself and those around me again.

I just thought I’d try something new with the blog and let you all know what’s coming up in the next few weeks in terms of content and my proposed plan is as follows:

Sunday 14th June: Children and well-being

Sunday 21st June: How I deal with intense emotions in the moment

Sunday 28th June: Routines: the night

I hope these are of interest to you. Now, I have also been debating whether or not to create vlogs as well as blogs, if that sounds interesting please comment or contact me to let me know

Much love and happiness to you,

L x

Burned out and a poem

Good evening my lovelies! How are we all? I am afraid there isn’t much of a post today. You see, this one has burned herself out. It started with poor sleep, then overworking on a university assignment (though of course it never feels like it in the moment!). I have been out of shape and sleeping for half the day for the latter part of this week. I realised the night I overworked on Thursday that I’d soon be feeling the after effects. Lo and behold! Friday morning was not fantastic. I am telling myself, at least it wasn’t a shock to me and at least it didn’t cause a spiral. Though the idea of “at least X” is never helpful. I was planning away another Lessons post since that was well-liked last time, I hope to make a pack of them really. But instead, I leave you with a little poem I like. If you ever feel like you’d like a post of some of my poetry let me know! Susan Coolidge “Every day is a fresh beginning, Listen my soul to the glad refrain. And, spite of old sorrows And older sinning, Troubles forecasted And possible pain, Take heart with the day and begin again” Much love and happiness to you all, L x