Friday, 20 October 2017

I'm Not Amazing

"You're so strong and amazing" 
"You're doing amazingly well" 
"You've been so amazing with how you've dealt with this"

Over the past year or so this is what I have been hearing. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for all of the support I have, I wouldn't be here today without it but it does get to a point where they're just words. 

I know I am guilty of just saying the generic "You're amazing" advice but like other people, in some situations I just don't know what to say. When does this supportive advice just become the automatic response? 

I am constantly having people tell me that I am strong and amazing but it comes to a point where I just can't even begin to believe it. Yes, sometimes I do feel like the strongest woman in the world and I do think I have handled things in a grown up manner, but how can I listen to someone saying I'm strong when all I feel is defeated and weak? 

I will be lying in bed crying my eyes out, with people sending me the most heartwarming messages telling me how wonderful and inspiring I am. If I was really strong, inspiring or amazing... why am I in bed sobbing until my face is blotchy and I've got snot bubbles blowing from my nose (you're welcome for that lovely image). 

I don't know why I'm like this. I don't know why I can't trust and accept what people say (I mean lets be real, I probably do know why). Am I alone in feeling like this? I guess sometimes what I say or do online is the 'better' version of myself. I might say that I have achieved a lot but what you don't see is the panic, anxiety and struggle I have had to get to that point.

So when you tell me that I'm strong and amazing, don't be offended if I disagree with you. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

"I felt dirty, I didn't feel like 'me' anymore."

A year ago today I became the girlfriend of a man (if you can call him that) who I thought, I was going to be with for a very long time. As you will know, I'm now no longer with this person due to their selfish and thoughtless acts. Since about the age of 12 years old I have really struggled with my confidence. I was picked on at school, called fat and ugly and that stuck with me for a very long time. Around April last year when I was going through another break up, I took it upon myself to change my attitudes and my body and begin to love myself. I accepted that I wasn't going to be the next Victoria Secret model, I accepted that I wouldn't have men falling at my feet, but I did accept that this was me and I loved myself.

When someone has been cheated on, they often seek for revenge or send hate to the person in question. However with me, I just did not have the energy to stoop as low as he did. We rarely talk about the other factors that come with being cheated on. Yes, we've lost someone who we loved and cared for. Yes, we've lost the future that we had planned and imagined. But, the main thing I've lost is my own self love and confidence. As I'm writing this, my eyes are beginning to tear up because at the moment I feel as if I'm never going to get that self confidence and love back. He has taken that away from me and that is one thing I will never forgive him for. He spent the last year telling me how beautiful I was, how lucky he was to be with me (which he definitely was)... even the morning after he slept with her, he was looking at me while I was looking at myself in the mirror and he was telling me how pretty I looked... knowing full well what he had done to me the day before. 

When I found out what he had done, I felt physically sick to think that I kissed and touched him after he had been with her... I didn't know where she had been and neither did he, he put my health at risk. Which makes this even more confusing for me because it was difficult for us to even sleep together because of what he has, yet he managed to jump into bed with her in a heart beat. That made me feel like I wasn't good enough, like I was doing something wrong and he can tell me time and time again that it wasn't my fault; but there has to be a reason for him to do what he did and I still haven't got an answer. A lot of people have said to me that this is a reflection on him and not me, which I'm trying so hard to believe but my mind does not want to accept that. 

For around a few weeks after everything had happened, I could barely look at myself in the mirror, I couldn't sleep alone in my bed and I had to have my mum sleep next to me, I could barely touch my own body because I felt like they were both on me... I could have endless showers but I'd still feel dirty. I didn't want to put makeup on for a while because all I could keep thinking was that this makeup was on my face when it had 'her' on it. I know it may sound stupid but I know that Rich, if you're reading this, you can definitely understand how this feels... I don't want to make you feel even more guilty than you already feel but the thoughts you've struggled with for a very long time, are now very similar to how you have made me feel. I am in no way saying that I'm suffering in the same way you do, because I've lived with you and I know how hard it is for you... but the same feelings are still there. I can accept what you've done with her because you were clearly very desperate for whatever you did with her, but I can't accept how you have made me hate every single inch of my body. 

I spent hours doing what I could to try and feel clean again. I scrubbed and scrubbed my lips until they were red raw, split and bleeding. I just wanted to get them off of me. My lips used to be my favourite feature about myself, now whenever I look at them, they just look dirty. When I knew every single detail of what they did... from the moment they got naked, to the point where they finished, all I could think about was where I touched him or where he had touched me a few hours after he had been with her. I scrubbed my body to the point it was painful to touch, I didn't feel like 'me' anymore, I lost a sense of who I am. 

I now get too scared to talk to guys and when they compliment me, it just makes me feel sick. I can't trust what they say and I feel like I'm being lied to all over again. I know I shouldn't hate all men for one man's stupid actions, but that is how I feel. It has made me feel vulnerable and lost. 
I'm now at the point where I want to love myself again. I want to spend time doing my hair and makeup and to leave the house feeling confident. I want to get to the stage where talking to a guy, doesn't fill me with anxiety and fear of getting hurt again. I want to wear things I wouldn't normally wear and just have fun with clothes, hair and makeup and just create a new 'me'. I am beginning to lose weight and feel a bit more confident in clothes, which I guess is one good step towards recovery.

It's time to get Sophie back...

If you have experienced something similar, please don't hesitate to comment on this post or message me on Instagram or Twitter. It'll be nice to know I'm not alone.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Student Stigma || WMHD17

With today being World Mental Health Day, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of mental health awareness and spotting the symptoms early. As many of you may know, I have recently launched a project called Student Stigma which has been funded by O2's Go Think Big. The reason I set up this project is to highlight the importance of student mental health. 

I feel that there is a lot of stigma surrounding students and their mental health. When I say that I'm a student who suffers with depression and social anxiety, I get the odd comment stating that what I am experiencing is just the 'normal' stress and worries that a student faces. Comments like this is the reason why Student Stigma is so important. I know that I definitely have social anxiety and depression and I'm sure my doctor agrees considering I've been backwards and forwards to her for the past couple of years now.

When a lot of people say the word 'student' they immediately think of university students, however we forget that children in primary school, secondary school and college are also students. The reason why I wanted Student Stigma to be for people of all ages, is because my 'mental health story' began at the age of 7 years old when I had my first ever panic attack. If you would like to know more about my story, you can either watch my 'Mental Health Story' video, read my story on Time to Change or my interview with the Guardian

At the time of my first panic attack, I was unaware of how I was feeling and what was happening to me however *luckily* my dad had experienced panic attacks before, so he knew how to look after me. If my family did not have the knowledge of mental health and illnesses, we would not have been able to see the early signs of my anxiety. 

One thing that I think needs to change, is the lack of mental health education in schools which is why I hope Student Stigma can allow me to go to schools and campaign to raise awareness of mental health. Being able to see the early signs of a mental illness can be life saving and it definitely makes the process a whole lot easier. Growing up can be a traumatic, exciting and a whirlwind experience for many children and young adults, so it's no surprise that many suffer with a mental illness later on in life. 

This is why I thought this would be the perfect day for me to encourage you to share your story and raise awareness! 

If you would like to share your experiences of having a mental illness throughout education, whether that be past or present, please join in campaigning with Student Stigma. Share your story, share your advice and chat to others! This is a safe place for everyone and especially for students who may need more education about mental health. 

Lastly, do not be dismissive of students when they say that they're struggling. Unless you have been in their situation, you do not know how tough it can be!