‘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

https://www.instagram.com/the_olive_blog/

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. 

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.

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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.

An Adventure to Guatemala

As the title suggests my trip to Guatemala in July 2019 certainly was an adventure, and one I will never forget.  In the picture above you can see that written on our t-shirts is the slogan:

 ‘I don’t need therapy, just need to go to Guatemala.’ 

I think that nothing had ever struck me as quite so true.  Perhaps it was being in a third world country based in an area where people lived in such poverty I had never seen before, and yet they were the kindest, most welcoming and generous people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, that put into perspective the problems I myself thought I faced.  My mental battles though, seemed to fade into the distance as I found we would have such a significant positive impact on these local people, and surrounded by other volunteers that shared my viewpoint on life I finally felt that I had found somewhere I was meant to be.  This only sought to solidify my goals in becoming a humanitarian aid worker in a charity. 

I was involved in a turtle conservation project in a small community on the pacific coast in Guatemala, but it was so much more than it sounds.  Alongside everyone in the community we built a hatchery for the turtle eggs and painted educational murals in Spanish on the walls of the main building, informing people how they could help with conservation efforts.  Everyone was so eager to get involved, young and old, it was for their village, and it was their project and we felt privileged that they trusted us to take direction on it. 

It was not just the volunteering that made me fall in love with this country though, but the general beauty we were surrounded with, I have honestly never felt so free.  I was half way across the world in a country where no one knew me, totally alone, and yet I felt the opposite of lonely.  Surrounded by nature, volcanoes, mountains and the beauty of the coast, surrounded by people that like me, had given up a portion of their summer to volunteer, I found peace. 

In truth though, it is in moments like these that I feel like I can be unadulteratedly me, no games, no lies, no putting on a façade.  No one knew me, so what was the need to be anything other than me?

Perhaps that was why I felt so free, and why I was so sad to leave, because we had had some amazing and some truly crazy times, because I was able to let go, to stop worrying for a change, to let loose and do things that give me adrenaline rushes and made me feel alive and young, like we’re supposed to. Like, for example, skinny dipping in the ocean with guys me had met at a beach party. 

I’m definitely not suggesting that your risk your life in any way, but it felt good to do something crazy and made me realise we (or maybe just me) worry far too much about everything, and it was incredible to do something without thinking at all.

So, I guess my advice would be, if you’re feeling trapped, or like you’re unsure as to where you fit in, then do something meaningful, go somewhere different, and figure out where you want to be.  I raised all the funds for this myself, anyone can do it.