Hey all! This post is going to be pretty different to what I normally write about. In fact I didn't even plan to type up something like this for a while, but something triggered it. On Saturday it was 'Worldwide Mental Health Day'. It's frustrating that a day has been labelled this, purely to bring awareness, when something like mental health should be spoken about on a daily basis and just because we can't see it, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Most people have suffered some kind of mental illness in their lifetime and many people close to me are suffering from it now.
I'm going to talk about what I have experienced, what I think triggered it and how things have changed or how I have overcome certain obstacles. But I do have to say that we are all different and if something worked for me, it may not work for you. This post is purely to show that this blogger isn't a robot who can post all these fashion posts and everything is faberoony. We can all go through rock bottom phases, so this is my story.
I'm not afraid to admit it, but I was an overweight child. I liked my food and hated exercise. That was that. I did get bullied for it and I felt insecurities at an early stage. It's hard not to feel insecure when you are 8 years old and having to go straight to the adult section to find clothes. I was lucky to be able to fit into age 15-16!
But I had a growth spurt at 12 years and that gave the appearance that I lost weight, to the point where people were complimenting me (when I hadn't done anything different!) Around about that time my Mum was on a diet and she always loved the dance mat (remember these?) I enjoyed using it and we had also had a trampoline which I loved using. Thats when the over exercising began.
Through my teenage years I over-exercised and watched what I ate. I never starved myself, but the guilt that I felt if I didn't do a workout made me feel like a failure. I loved feeling in control and it didn't matter how crap a day was, if I did a workout, it made me feel a hundred times better. I always exercised at least six hours a week, and the most I ever exercised in a week was nine hours. I would turn down social events to exercise and it didnt matter what exercise I did, or what time it was, I was always determined to exercise.
When did this stop? Probably when I met Matt and I guess over time I didn't feel the need to exercise as much and my addictive personality shifted onto other things. I still love exercising but I definitely don't feel as guilty and I feel more relaxed about it.
2. Parents Separating and Oniomania
Certain 'friends' at school made me dread getting on the school bus but I think what made me hit rock bottom was that my parents separated when I was 17. I'm not going to say who was in the wrong because I think both sides could have prevented it. I remember the day my Mum told me, I skipped sixth form and went straight to town to spend whatever money I had in my account. I felt too sick to eat so I did what I enjoyed best - shopping.
The spending went out of control over the years. Working at Topshop didn't help. I was buying something every day and was always going overdrawn in my account (I've been blocked on paypal banking because I kept going into the minus - eek!). Spending would give me some sort of euphoric high. I would spend because I was happy, spend because I was sad, spend because I could. Even when I knew I was going to become overdrawn, I would push the thought to the back of my head and 'worry about it later'.
I guess this is where my addictive personality came in. If I saw an item of clothing that I fell in love with, I would have to buy it straight away and if it was out of stock, I would travel the country to find it. I travelled an hour and a half one time to pick up an item that was in Bristol.
Looking up the symptoms and my mum getting sick of bailing me out each time I ran out of money, I came across the term Oniomania. Thank god I never resorted to stealing because that's something I'm so against, but I definitely lied to my Mum and Matt about how much I would spend.
I did go to my doctor about it (no joke!) and she suspected I had bi-polar because over-spending can be a symptom. I did speak to a psychiatrist to be tested and he didn't think I had bi-polar. Still to this day I do wonder, because that was one persons opinion. But I do think that when you are diagnosed with something, your symptoms can become worse subconsciously, because you have an excuse to act a certain way if that makes sense? That's just my personal opinion and I would not apply this to everyone who's been diagnosed with something!
How did things get better then? I guess time and blogging has saved me a little bit. Time because things have needed to heal and it takes time to accept things. Blogging came along and I guess my addictive personality has shifted onto that. I earn my money bit by bit instead of in one chunk at the end of the month, so that stops me from splurging it all in one go, and I find blogging as a whole so rewarding that I don't have the urge to spend! When my parents split and I was working at Topshop I felt like something was missing and wanted to feel in control of something. Shopping was just a quick fix but that never solved the problem. With blogging I have been able to progress and call something my own. Something that I can work on and see develop. Not sure where I would have ended up otherwise!
Oh and before anyone asks 'Why didn't your parents just take your bank cards away'? Don't get me wrong even the doctor suggested that. But that would be like taking drugs away from a drug addict. You can't do it straight away. I guess things changed; luckily before it got stupidly worse.
3. Anxiety when Matt went to Uni
A year after my parents split, my boyfriend then went to Uni. We had only been going out for two years and I always stuck by his decision of wanting to go. During the first two years of him being at Uni was when I suffered panic attacks and paranoia. I knew he had to go out and socialise but it made me feel physically sick. If he went out, I would stay up and wait for him to get back into his halls because I couldn't comfortably go to sleep. I always trusted him, but I guess I never trusted other people. With my parents splitting and Uni being somewhat of an unknown, I didn't have very many positive thoughts and my heart would sink if I knew Matt was going out in the evening. If he didn't text back whilst being out I would freak, and would DREAD what Facebook would be like the next day if he was tagged in anything. I look back and feel stupid that I acted like that, but I guess the TV doesn't put Uni life in the best spotlight and I basically thought it was going to be some massive slutfest ha!
So what changed? Time helped massively. I saw Matt on most weekends which helped, but I was still over-spending at that time (which helped keep me sane). Keeping busy always helped and I guess I had a supportive boyfriend, parents and a small handful of awesome friends who were always there to listen to my worries.
I have been on and off anti-depressants since the age of 18. I don't always like the concept of them, because I guess I would hate to be addicted to them. I do believe they can help if you are on the right ones, but finding the right ones can take time. I have felt too tired on some anti-depressants and other side effects have appeared months down the line, so I've then needed to come off them. I have been on anti-depressants whilst blogging because I let the pressure get to me. I get a buzz when I collaborate with a brand, but I worry too much and always worry about how long it will last, or if things will ever go tits up! You don't get paid when you are ill, or when you go on holiday. Working for yourself is rewarding but my gosh it is stressful!
Right now I am not taking any medication and I'm trying to fix what holds me back the most and thats my tiredness. I am tired all the time and can literally go back to bed after a large cup of coffee. I have had blood tests and they all came back normal. Right now I am using ASMR videos to help me get to sleep and I think they are really helping!
I believe in the saying, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'. Things can't be fixed overnight and I think it's down to your frame of mind and time. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us! Who knows what's going to happen in the future, but all I can do for now is be aware of what can trigger me to hit rock bottom and to try and avoid things repeating themselves. Things can obviously be better but looking back and typing up all of this does remind me of how far I've come and if I can conquer mental illness then YOU CAN TOO!