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. 

‘You only cry for help if you believe there’s help to cry for’

‘You only cry for help if you believe there’s help to cry for’ Wentworth Miller

I never understood the suggestion that mental health, depression, anxiety, feeling suicidal etc. are a cry for help or attention seeking in some way.  For me Wentworth Miller’s quote rings completely true, I felt that nobody could help me, so why would I reach out to anyone as the only thing I would gain from that would be becoming even more of an outsider than I already felt I was. 

It was more important to me to hide what was really going on, so that people would assume I was fine.  I wanted to deal with everything behind closed doors, hide my shame, hide what I thought was my failure.  I had always come across as the strong one, the one that was never phased by anything, I wanted people to continue to think that so badly it got to the point where I was almost living a double life.  The things that were going on in my head were concerning, and definitely suggested a need for help, but I just couldn’t.  I couldn’t admit that something was wrong that maybe I was mentally suffering, it would have been an acceptance of weakness for me, I wanted to believe that if I could just keep pretending that I was fine, that I would be.  Like some kind of strange Halo Effect. 

Needless to say that didn’t work, and I ended up eventually seeking help and talking to someone about the thoughts I was having.  This was after almost 5 years of struggling in silence, and even then it took me almost 6 months from having decided to talk to someone, to getting myself into that room.  Even now, I haven’t been able to muster up the courage to go back, even though a part of me desperately wants to.  I still struggle with those feelings of shame, of being a failure because my brain seems to slip into depressive thoughts so easily when all I want is to try and be positive.   That’s why I have this blog, it’s my outlet, my alternative to talking about it vocally, because that’s still such a difficult topic to broach. 

So, don’t assume that people who are struggling with mental battles are seeking attention in any capacity.  You don’t know how long they have been suffering, you don’t know how much courage it might have taken that person to simply get to where they are.

Be kind to all and you won’t mistake the good ones for the so few that are faking. 

Liv x

Panic and anxiety attacks

What are you doing, why are you here, they are going to judge you, what are you wearing, they are going to wonder where you’ve been, they’ll notice that you’ve been crying, they’ll notice you’re not eating, they’ll notice you are eating, you look a mess, you’re life’s a mess, why does everyone hate you, why do you have no friends, why are you lying to your friends, people think you have no friends, why do you smile when you want to cry, you have so much work to do, why are you so tired, you have no money, you’re an embarrassment, you’re stupid, no one will ever love you, you’ll be alone forever.

I think a lot of people wonder what it feels like to have a panic attack, I used to have them a lot in secondary school and 6th form, and I don’t think that I am exaggerating when I say that I often felt like I was dying.  The majority of mine happened in the middle of the night, usually when I was lying awake plagued by dark thoughts, consistently coming one after another, but feeling as though I couldn’t at all control where my mind was going, it often felt like I was losing my mind.  It was then it would usually start, I began to notice the early symptoms and I think that only served to make them worse as I would start to panic about having a panic attack, oh the joys of anxiety. 

It would usually start with feeling hot and cold at the same time, like my core was on fire but I was still freezing, then the pins and needles would set in, beginning in my hands and moving its way up my arms.  It was the frantic beating of my heart that would really scare me though, I felt like my entire body was jumping with its intense beat and rate, as though it felt my body was doomed much like my mind, and it was trying to escape.  When this sets in it is like nothing really makes sense anymore, I’m never fully aware of where I am, often trapped in the confusing thoughts of my mind.  I know once or twice the panic attacks led to hallucinations, almost like stress dreams but I was awake, the one I remember most distinctly was when I was convinced I had somehow pushed my Mum’s entire business off of a skyscraper, I promise it was scarier than it sounds. 

I never really worked out what exactly caused them, I know that I was very unhappy towards the end of school, and I’m sure that added with the stress, and the insecurity of my friendship group at the time, all contributed to it.  I can only be grateful that I rarely experience them now, or that they have filtered out into smaller anxiety attacks, which although are still unpleasant I find easier to manage, it’s more of a mind over matter situation for me now.  If I become afraid or anxious about something irrational, I know I just have to force myself to do it, force myself out of my comfort zone, even if I’ll hate myself for it for the moment, I know it’ll be fine in the end.  Sometimes, it’s just a case of taking myself out for a walk, putting on some upbeat music, so I can clear my head and put things in perspective, and remind myself that putting the bins out is not something to get anxious about.  That’s the thing I think most people forget, anxiety isn’t just about social situations, for some people, its not about that at all, sometimes it’s the most menial tasks that trigger you for no reason at all. 

At the end of the day though, we just have to do every little bit we can to try and overcome it, small victories to some people can be big for us, so as long as you’re doing your best, you’re doing enough. 

Liv

Is depression a symptom of society?

Everyone my age has experienced sadness, everyone in the world has experienced sadness, but when, at what point does that become depression?  I never know where the line is, if there even is one.  I’d hope for most people that’s a question they never have to ask, but I think that in our present climate that would be a naïve impression to have.  You might think me pessimistic, in fact I hope you do, because that probably means you’ve never suffered depression, but for me, I think most people have at some point in their lifetime. 

I was told once by a teacher at my secondary school, that everyone would experience depression at least once in their lifetime.  I remember being horrified that she could make such a claim in front of 15-year olds, little did I know I was on the brink of falling into that void myself. 

There has to be a reason, that we are all so discontent with lives that we should highly appreciate.  I happen to believe it is our relationship with the world around us.  Greed has the gotten the better of us, society was born to judge us, change us, alienate the real us.  When you feel like you can’t just be an unfiltered version of yourself, when you need to put on a pretence for the ‘social’ world, you lose the real you, and when you lose that part of yourself that makes up your identity, what do you become other than a blank slate for society to write on? With this brings its own problems, because society has no definition of perfection, it is riddled with contradictions and impossible standards that no one can attain in their real lives.  So where does that leave you?

It left me unfulfilled, uncertain, lost, without purpose, without passion.  I only wanted others to like me, but when you are in that position you aren’t living for yourselves but for other people, often strangers that can have no care for your true wellbeing. 

I tricked myself and everyone else into thinking that that was okay when really, I was at the lowest point of my life, and no one saw the signs, how could I have expected them to, when I didn’t even know myself well enough to see it?

The point is though, I did come to a realisation, that I didn’t want to live for other people, I wanted to have my own agenda, I wanted to be someone unique, something new, something no one else could be.  The simplest way of achieving that, was to become the person I always was under all the pretence, to become open about my feelings, about what I went through behind closed doors.  I set myself free from what I saw as the constraints of society, all the stigma, I told myself not to care about it.  That’s not an easy thing for anyone, and I have in no way achieved that completely, but although I still have bad days, and depressive ‘episodes’ I no longer feel ashamed, or feel I have to hide it. 

Liv x

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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!