The Speech I Will Probably Never Speak

I am here to speak about something that is very close to my heart, mental health.  Most of you listening to this that know me, or even consider themselves close to me will not know the reason this is so important to me, because I have always been afraid to say it out loud.  But, the reason I care so much about mental health awareness is because for a long time now I have been suffering with depression and anxiety.

Looking back, I can say I have been suffering with mental health issues since I was 13 years-old, I am now 19.  The reason I never reached out to anyone around me wasn’t because I didn’t have a loving amazing family that I thought wouldn’t support me, it wasn’t because I didn’t have friends, it was because I felt ashamed.  I was considered a high flyer, I came top of many of my classes at school, I had lots of friends, I had goals, it seemed to others like I had everything in my life together.  But, in reality, I felt like I was drowning.

From year 10 to 11, two people I was close to died suddenly and two others who I had a less close relation with also died, and although those deaths didn’t have a direct impact I still felt their effects.  All of this happened in less than a year giving me little time to process, and I began to feel like everyone was dying, and I started to question the meaning of life itself, what was my purpose, why was I here?  Throughout all of this I tried to act strong, knowing that my parents were struggling with these losses too and not wanting to worry them that I wasn’t coping.  I knew everyone in life lost people, so I felt like I didn’t have the right to grieve in front of others because I didn’t want to bring them down or bore them with my problems which I felt were inconsequential. 

This resulted in me bottling up my feelings to a ridiculous capacity.  I went to school everyday with the knowledge that I had to smile, laugh and act happy around my friends so that they wouldn’t see my cracks.  I wanted them to believe I was perfect, and because they didn’t really want to see anything wrong, they didn’t.  I became an Oscar-worthy actor, able to function through my worst days, able to laugh out loud when I was positively sobbing inside. 

It was the evenings that got me, I became so used to squashing my true depressive feelings down so far that whilst around others I could almost forget they were there.  But then, inevitably, I had to be alone at some point.  It was then that the horrific feelings of self-hatred and self-worthlessness would attack and overwhelm me to the point I would often have panic attacks so severe I would hyperventilate and, on occasion, hallucinate.  I was able to keep this from my family under the persona that I was simply hard at work on coursework, or these attacks would happen in the middle of the night meaning that no one would notice anyway. 

It was at this point that I began to suspect that there was something wrong with me, I didn’t know much about mental health issues back then, all I thought was that if you were mentally ill you also had to be clinically insane.  And so, it followed that I began to think that I was crazy, medically crazy.  This in itself was psychologically damaging because I began to doubt that anything I thought was valid, I retreated into myself, no longer participating in debates at school or offering my opinion because I believed that everything I thought was undermined by the fact that I was crazy.  This only fuelled the fire of my thoughts of self-worthlessness.  I was spiralling, and I felt I had no one to turn to because I was afraid I would-be put-on medication or thrown into a mental hospital.  I didn’t want to be treated any differently, but I knew my friends would never look at me the same if I told them I thought I had schizophrenia, so I held them at arms-length.  I know there are probably others out there that went through that too, a belief that they were insane, and that is why it is so important we have a rise in awareness for mental health.

I just didn’t want people to think that I was weak, because I thought I was weak.  I didn’t want people to think I couldn’t cope with situations that everyone in life goes through.  Because I hated myself, I expected that if others saw the real me they would hate me too.  It was this mindset that, in the words of Wentworth Miller, meant I navigated everyday in a ‘survival mode’ of pretended happiness. 

That’s not to say that I didn’t feel happiness, I did.  It was just that after every happy moment I would find a reason to hate myself in that situation, or to criticise that everything was always going to get bad again, that I would never find a permanent happiness.  My good points were great, my low points were depression.  And, it was with the realisation that it was my depression and anxiety that was making me feel this way that allowed me to understand where these thoughts were coming from. 

The point to this story is that the thing that prevented me from starting recovery and finding healthy coping mechanisms was my paralysing fear that people would find out about my secret.  But, when I finally worked up the courage to confide in someone, to share the weight with someone it was an amazing feeling.  I’m not saying it’s easy, it took me two years from the point that I decided something had to change to me actually telling someone about what I was struggling with, but once I did the knowledge that someone was truly there for me was amazing. 

I had confided in a girl I lived with in my first year of university, and I remember the morning after she sent me a message saying that no matter what she would always be there for me, that I could always talk to her about anything.  This moved me beyond words and meant more than she can ever understand, because I had never had anyone say that to me before.  I finally felt like I belonged somewhere, where someone knew the real me and accepted me for it so readily and so naturally.  I cried out of happiness for the first time in a long time.   

Although I am still working on getting professional help, and I have a long way to go in terms of recovery, I am telling my story to show that even if you feel, like I did, that no one is there for you, and there is no one you can confide in, there is.  There is always someone, and if there’s no one there right now, you will find that person that you can rely on.  I went through a long period where I truly believed I would be alone in terms of friendships forever, with no one I could count on.  That feeling of loneliness is one of my biggest battles, but it starts with talking to someone.

The battle against depression starts with talking to someone, because no battle can be fought alone. 

Fairytale


Everyday is just the same, a monotonous type of fairytale
Where nothing happens out of the ordinary and everyday is kinda dreary
We work at school and then we work for our bread
Until eventually we die when we have nothing left.
We only get one life and yet it seems very few of us live it,
We conform to the status quo with barely a query,
An unquestioning bunch that can’t think for ourselves,
We let the elites make the rules because it has never been down to anyone else,
A life robbed of fun because of the focus on safety,
And technological inventions that take the fun out of everything. 
Want to go shopping?
Sure, what shall we order?

Don’t be like everyone else, break the mold.

Love, Liv x

Sadness without explanation

I have never found depression an easy topic to talk about, I still feel as though people won’t believe me, or they will assume that it is a cry for attention, when in reality it was the complete opposite. I would have done anything to make sure people didn’t know how unhappy I was with my life, because I had no specific reason for feeling that way, so how could I expect people to understand? I don’t blame people when they don’t, I barely understand it myself.

I found this short diary entry from February 2017, when I was going through a rough patch and couldn’t quite convince myself I was worth it. Perhaps this will give an insight into how my brain was working at the time.

Diary entry February 2017:

There is a saying that ‘life gets you down’ because life is tough. We all know that. But what do you do when there is nothing in your life to get you down, but you feel that way anyway?

What do you do when you feel so sad inside and yet so numb and empty at the same time?

My resolution was to talk to somebody about it, but I don’t want to talk about it, because voicing it means that I have to accept that this is real. And it also means that I have to try and explain it, and I honestly don’t even know where to start.

It’s sadness without explanation, therefore it is sadness without solution.

How can anyone hope to understand, when I can barely understand it myself?

How can I feel so alone and yet be sat in the middle of school with hundreds of people about?

Today I wanted to get help rather than run away, but again I am at a loss as to how to ask for it. There’s a hand around my throat that stops me from voicing the words, but perhaps that’s a good thing, too much would change if I was to talk about it, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

Normally, I’m not a negative person at all, I have a pretty positive outlook for the future, and strongly believe that if you work hard enough at anything then you’ll be successful in some capacity. In those times of depression though, it was incredibly difficult for me to stay in that mindset, and I was even more stressed about ensuring other people didn’t see that, most importantly my family, because I didn’t want to also bring them down.

In reality though, when I finally was able to talk to someone, it made such a difference, and allowed me to come to terms with what I was dealing with, and how I could better myself.

Boredom is dangerous

Boredom is dangerous.  It won’t be an extreme sport that kills me, a stupid drunk mistake, or being kidnapped in a third world country.  It will be boredom.  As reckless as it might sound, I’d rather take risks, feel adrenaline and not have the thoughts of ‘what if…’, always playing in the back of my mind.  What if what?  What if we lived a little?  Today’s society is all about risk assessments and health and safety.  

I’m the type of person that needs to be doing things all the time, that needs to be busy and active.  Recently I’ve realised that the days when I have no plans, when I don’t see anyone outside of my own house, where I spend the majority of it curled up in bed, gives me far too much time to think about how I’m so fucking lonely. When in reality, I’m not at all, it just seems that there is something wired into my brain that makes me feel that way, and when I’m all alone I am unable to convincingly persuade myself otherwise. 

I have to do things that are productive and interesting, it seems where a lot of people are afraid of change, I crave it.  I want to do crazy, stupid, impulsive things, just for the rush, so I can feel like my life is interesting.  So maybe, when you look at it like that, I am just an adrenaline junkie that probably is going to meet their end doing some extreme sport…

 If I take a deep interpretation of death though, I feel like even if boredom is unable to physically harm you, if you’re permanently bored then you’re hardly living at all.  Life is supposed to be exciting after all, the world is what we make it, or so they tell us. 

What I find hard though, is how to keep my mind active all of the time, sometimes when my mind is not entertained, I find it so hard to keep all my thoughts contained, I pace my room trying to think of some way to enjoy a day without plans or friends.  It only takes one day of overactive overthinking to put me right back in that insecure place where I forget all the positives in my life.  It’s in that way that boredom is dangerous to me, it may not be physically harmful, but it can be mentally. 

It’s ridiculous to think that in a world so full of opportunities, so full of campaigns to be fought, and stunningly beautiful sights just waiting to be discovered, that boredom is even a thing, but perhaps boredom is, more often than not, coupled with laziness.  Sometimes, we all get in that frustrating place where we are bored out of our minds, but at the same time we have no energy or resolve to do anything about it, or do anything at all.  I’ve decided for my own mental health I can’t be like that anymore, I need every day from now on to have a purpose.  It doesn’t have to be a big one, but I think if I know that I have a reason to be there in that day, to be present and not just caught up in my head, then that will help ease the boredom I seem to be plagued by. 

Fitness Journey

My mat says ‘Positive mind, Positive vibes, Positive life’

I have always been a very active person, but I have never been paticuarly sporty or athletic. I’ve always been very average when it came to PE at school, and never really wanted to take part in any group sports because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough, which of course meant I never gave myself the chance to get good. Now though, I am trying to focus on getting fit, not only for my physical health, but also mentally.

Fitness has become a really important part of my life, it enables me to clear my head and really allows me to de-stress. I have a really active mind, and it’s often difficult to find ways to keep entertained, or even to keep up with everything that’s going on up there. Excercise has become a really great outlet for all of that, and gives me such a sense of euphoria afterwards.

I have started to do Pilates and Body Balance on a regular basis, which is a really tranquil excercise that allows me to find a peaceful moment, where I’m not really thinking at all, just focusing on the movements and stretches, and getting lost in the calming music.

This fitness has had a really positive impact on my mental wellbeing, allowing me to de-stress and put things in perspective. Therefore, I have decided to monitor some of my progress in flexibilty and balance. I am not currently flexible at all, but I’ve given myself a goal to improve, in the hope it will motivate me to continue!

These pictures give you an idea of some of the stretches I will be doing and the level I am currently at, so follow my progress on here and instagram to see how I get on!

First Year of University

Everyone tells you that the first year of university will be the best year of your life, and in many ways it is.  However, in some ways it is also the most difficult. 

What is so often neglected to talk about is also the sheer amount of change that happens all around you, and how sometimes it becomes overwhelming.  There are a lot of things to juggle, making friends, going out, trying to organise your timetable and find classes whilst exhausted (and most probably hungover and coming down with freshers’ flu), all while trying to make a good impression on the people you’ve been told are going to be your life-long friends. 

I don’t mean that to sound scary, because freshers is so much fun, but it’s okay to also feel overwhelmed, unsure and a little scared about it all too.  I think the expectation that first year will be the best year of your life sometimes makes it all a little harder to deal with, because you might feel like you’re doing it wrong if it’s not as perfect as you thought.  I guarantee you you’re not. 

Change isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be unexpected and unpredictable.  There will be amazing high points, but you have to expect that there will be low points too, just like with everything, and then you can make sure you look after yourself until things inevitably get good again. 

Another thing to bear in mind is that, whilst it is true that you make some of your best friends at university, this does not necessarily mean it’s immediate.  So, don’t worry if you struggle to find your perfect friendship group in the first few weeks, or whole first semester even.  For me, my friendships changed so much and so rapidly all throughout first year, and it was only by the end of second semester that I felt I really knew who my close friends were.  Although struggling to find where you stand with friendship groups isn’t something people generally openly talk about, I think you’ll find it’s something a lot of people feel in that first year. 

That’s not to say I didn’t have such a good time, because I really truly did, there is such a wide range of diverse people to get to know, and I’ve definitely cried more tears of laughter just this year than the rest of my entire almost 20-year-old life combined.  It’s just I think too often people say their first year at uni was the best year of their life, just because that is what is expected.  Personally, I have a feeling year 2 is going to be just as epic, if not more so. 

So, if you’re off to university this autumn have an amazing time, good luck, and don’t worry if it’s harder than you thought.  That’s normal!

Just remember sometimes the expectation that something is going to be the best thing ever, makes it a little harder.

Polluted planet, polluted mind

POLLUTED PLANET; POLLUTED MIND

When our planet is dying
When our people are getting fatter
When suicide is a leading factor
Of death in first world countries

Do you think maybe there’s a link?
And maybe that’s our connection with the environment?

But if nature is our miracle cure,
Stop throwing rubbish on your mother’s floor.

Olivia.

Check out my instagram account below too!

Coming out

You probably clicked on this because you think I came out as gay. Not so I’m afraid, although I called it ‘coming out’ in my mind because I feel like there is nothing else that I could liken it to.

I’ve lived my entire 19, almost 20 year old life bottling everything up inside, and although that didn’t neccessarily stop me from doing all the things I ever set my heart on, it also didn’t make it easy, and ment I had a lot of low points when I felt totally alone and misunderstood. I’m a very deep thinker, and sometimes I can get lost inside my head, sometimes I wish I could stay lost in there forever, because it often feels harder to face realty than what goes on up there. I think the main thing that I struggled with, and soemtimes still do, is that I feel very different to everyone else, a bit of an outsider. I struggled with how I’ve always seemed to see the world from a very different angle than my friends, even from a young age, and it made me think perhaps there was something wrong with me, and it made me question why anyone would want to be friends with me, because I wasn’t like everyone else. I overthought every small interaction, and that led to me being insecure, and prone to depressive thoughts.

For the majority of my life I never told anyone how I felt, not even my family. Until I finally got the courage to sit my Mum down and tell her how I was really feeling. I’m going to preface this by saying that I have very loving and supportive parents, I didn’t say anything to them because I didn’t want them to feel guilty, and I was also afraid that it would be like I had somehow failed.

It is perhaps an understatement though to say that my mother was shocked, and she said some things that she probably regrets now, because she does love me and support me in everything. The one comment that sticks in my head, is she told me ‘I think you want to be depressed.’

See, it’s not always plain sailing when you tell someone you love, something shocking, sometimes they don’t know how to react, and so they react in the worst possible way, initially. Emphasis on initially, because after a long chat, my Mum began to understand where I was coming from, and immediately started to list roads we could take to help me, just like Mums do.

I don’t blame her for reacting the way she did, I know it’s confusing to hear someone tell you that there not as okay as you thought they were. She later wrote me a message to tell me that she would always be there for me, even if she didn’t fully understand, because I was her daughter, and nothing would ever change that.

I think I’m writing this entry because it’s important to know that sometimes we have to be prepared for people to misunderstand, but we have to be patient and make them listen until they do.

Although it’s scary, it’s also such a weight off my shoulders to know I have my parents there for me now, in a way they couldn’t have been before. Family is one of the most important things in my life, and I know that now more than ever.