A series on self-love and positivity that will take place every week. Here I will chronicle how my week went with a question asked on the journal I bought in summer 2017 from Paperchase, and a brief idea of what is planned in terms of the blog, which will be added/crossed out when done.
My battle with mental illness began at some time in my preteens – don’t know the exact year or age – but I know for a fact that by the time I was in my mid-teens, I had the whole nine yards. What I also know is that by the time I was fifteen, I was already questioning my purpose for living, and whether I wanted to be alive or not.
I’m now 24 years at the time of writing this, so it’s been a few years since I was a teenager, but I still remember what it’s like to be young and struggling with mental health problems. It was hands down the hardest thing I had to endure in my life.
I’m no professional, so I won’t assume what you’re going through or say that I know, because I don’t know the details. But as someone who went through a bunch of crap, I wanted to write this for assurance: that it’s okay and you are not the only one because I’ve been there and done that.
Being a teenager with mental health problems (undiagnosed at the time but I was so sure of what I had) was the loneliest feeling ever. I was told time and time again that I was “doing it for attention”, or playing the “victim”, or being “crazy”. They also kept telling me I was “too young to know what mental illnesses were”.
Let’s get one thing straight: Your suffering is real, and if you ever tell me you are hurting, then
I will believe every word you’re saying
and I will believe your hurt and agony.
Your pain is real.
There are people who will be in denial (been there) or won’t understand what you’re going through. And I feel sorry for those who don’t get it. There will however, be people who get it, just like me and many, many others. There will be people who will listen to you and acknowledge your struggles.
When I was a teen I felt this unexplainable empty it of agonising sadness in my core. I didn’t know where it came from because I hadn’t suffered from any kind of trauma back then. I felt hurt and physically and emotionally heavy (to properly know this feeling, the song ‘Heavy’ by Linkin Park explains it down to ta T). That’s all I knew. I’d also go nights in a row of crying myself to sleep, or just lay awake contemplating ending my life. Sometimes both at the same time. I couldn’t explain the pain, but it seemed like a default thing for me to be in this kind of pain.
Despite all this pain, it took me years – over 10 – to reach out for help. I didn’t trust my parents enough to tell them when I first started seeking help from a psychologist. I only told them after several sessions. Whenever I did tell people about my treatment, they shrugged me off at first, telling me I seemed fine back then and I’m too young to know what depression and anxiety felt like, and that I didn’t fit in the physical description of a depressed person (whatever that description is).
But let’s be real: who knows you better than you? Not me, not anyone else. And who knows me better than me? Not you and not anyone else. We know when something about us is off. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, the feeling of numbness, mood swings, whatever your sufferings are: it is REAL and I know it is.
Getting help was the best thing I had ever done in my life. My biggest triumph. But I didn’t feel like it was at the time. I knew what to expect with my depression because it was predictable. But I wanted to learn how to live my life one way or another, and how to cope and get better. It was a pretty big deal, but it was scary as fuck.
Was it worth the risk? HECK YEAH! Because eventually, I did start getting better. I got the diagnosis I expected I had – depression and anxiety – and this helped me understand what was going on. With both a psychologist and psychiatrist by my side, eventually joined in by my family and small circle of friends, I fixed things and my life made sense once more.
What would I say to teenagers reading this who are struggling with mental health? You don’t have to do this alone. Suffering in silence is not an option. You have choices, some of which are difficuly and risky. I made those difficult choices myself, and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here writing all this. I’d be dead. I would have done The Deed.
You need to know that your life can change in the blink of an eye. Everything your thought you knew could be wrong the following day. Your life changes as time goes by, and you deserve to experience this change.
This is why I talk openly about my struggles, being able to help others not to repeat the same mistakes I have. Our journeys may not be the same, but I believe we all have something inside us that’s in common and by unleashing that, the world would be a better place.
So if you haven’t reached out, do so as soon as you can, befor eit’s too late. You don’t have to speak to a professional: a teacher, family member or friend would suffice. Hang in there, and remember the life you’re living now won’t be a clear indication of your future so do something about it.
If you’re reading this, consider it a victory: that you have lived another second, minute, hour, day, month, year. I hope you will be here to read this in years’ time, or even for your children to read it in their teens.
I believe in you. You are a survivor. You have PURPOSE. YOU MATTER.
If you our someone you know displays any symptoms of mental health problems, please contact your local suicide hotlines, which you can find below.
As a series, ‘Fact VS Fiction’ will be taking a look at several mental health problems or topics which interest me, and I will be weighing in on some facts and myths. These will be proven (or not) through research, experience and personal opinions. Click here to see the rest of the posts in this series.
I had so many things to do in April and this first week of May, it completely slipped my mind that it’s mental health awareness month. You may be a tiny bit aware of how important May is to me, and it is not just because of my very open and very public struggle with mental health illnesses.
First thing’s first… my blog is turning TWO YEARS OLD this month! The blog that has helped so many of you beautiful people with your struggles and in return gave ME hope. I am so proud of keeping this up for this long. To be honest, there were times where I wanted to give up altogether.
However, having many people contacting me here or on my Facebook page about how much I’ve helped them get through their problems by sharing my own, and also asking for more advice and about my treatment and therapy, which brings me to the next point!
May will mark the last (!!!) therapy session with my psychiatrist after 2+ years. He has been my greatest helper in all of this, up there next to my mum, boyfriend, best friend and YOU GUYS! Yes, you reading this, you have helped me, because you kept me going for the past 2 years. So thank you all so much for being there for me!
It looks bright, big and beautiful. Later this month I will be announcing something very big happening in mid-June in my home country and it involves yours truly! I wasn’t given a lot of details as of yet but I will for sure let you know because ALL LOCALS will be able to attend this event so wa-hey!
Below you will find mental health-related posts from my blog for your own perusal. Make sure you read them with an open mind and heart. Love to all!
Hello everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful day! Today is yet another one related to mental health. This time round, there won’t be any words, just photos, as sometimes one picture says a lot more than me. This post is aimed to raise awareness for mental health. In Malta, the Richmond Foundation works towards ending the stigma surrounding mental health while also helps those suffering to recover. Their contact information is found at the end of the post.
As I always say, if you or any one you know if showing symptoms of mental health problems or is talking suggestively about it, then please seek help from professionals, be it your family doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. But most of all, stay strong.
THIS IS A SERIES ON MY BLOG WHICH CONSISTS OF ME LOOKING BACK AT ARTISTS I LOVE AND/OR HAVE INFLUENCED ME THAT ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER ALIVE. THEY MAY NOT HAVE NECESSARILY DIED DUE TO THEIR MENTAL HEALTH ILLNESS/ES, BUT DURING THEIR LIVES THEY SUFFERED FROM ONE OR MORE.
Depression is often very misunderstood. Some believe it means simply being sad and unmotivated, when in reality, the symptoms of depression often have a way of infiltrating everything, from the smallest, most unsuspecting details, to the biggest, most significant aspects. And trying to explain this often feels like trying to hold onto water.
I did a lot of research on this, both as a curious person and a sufferer of mental health illnesses, which is why it took me over two weeks to publish it.
By opening the dialogue and trying to put words to these symptoms, we can continue to deepen our understanding and unveil the misunderstanding that leads to stigma.
Here is what I found out:
Wanting to say what’s on your mind, but can’t explain it, so you just cry because you don’t even know what you’re feeling
The exhaustion is equally mental as it is physical. Mental exhaustion from having to apologize for who you are, from trying to convince yourself you deserve to be alive. The physical and mental exhaustion from living in general
The black hole felt in the core of being. It sucks in life, motivation, concentration, etc. It’s drowning in the the ocean in the middle of a tempest
Not showering, combing your hair, brushing your teeth or changing clothes for a long time. Basically, all hygiene just goes out the window
When having an episode but you are not so far gone, and part of your rational mind is telling you there’s no reason to feel that way, yet the dark part of your mind still won’t release its grip
You can see and take in your surroundings, but you don’t feel a part of it, as if in a dream
When you’re depressed, your ability to feel joy from the things you normally love fades, but the worst days are the days where you are so numb you can barely even feel compassion or empathy
Your aching body from staying still all day, whether from laying in bed or just sitting. People think people with depression are just lazy for doing so
Disassociation. When you are so depressed and consumed you are no longer yourself. It feels like you are in a videogame. There is no emotional connection to reality
When you are so tired you do not manage to get to places in time. It takes you a lot of energy to get up, get ready and go
Not knowing that something is wrong in the early stage, and hurting other people with your behavior, and this is of course not done on purpose. This results in people accusing you of the things caused by the illnesses you could not control
The amount of migraines you struggle with when you go through depressive episodes which makes dealing with everything a million times harder
Anger, agitation, irritability and the feeling of having little to no self-control. This often gets to a point where you cannot bottle it up anymore, and you go down a downward spiral over the simplest, smallest of things because you cannot manage your emotions. Basically, depression is anger turned inwards
Thinking depression will be passed on to your children, and you cannot explain this because it is not tangible. Fact: children are more likely to develop mental health problems if their parents experienced them
This one is for the ladies: your period reacts to your emotional stress level and depression can cause you so much stress because people don’t understand, your period sometimes either stops or it just keeps going and becomes super irregular and painful
You are not able to talk and voice your thoughts because depression makes you believe your opinion does not matter
Sometimes you think: am I just exhausted because of my sleep schedule? Or because my mind hasn’t stopped working or stressing for days? That constant need to rationalize your mental health makes the depression symptoms even worse
Preoccupation. Depression can make you preoccupy yourself with game apps and simple things I know I can do or change because I feel that I can’t change or control anything else in my life
Promiscuity. You get so down and depressed you just want to do anything to feel better, even though you hurt yourself at the same time
The internal frustration that you are too scared, guilty or embarrassed to speak out because there is still so much stigma and lack of services, and people who say they are there for you when actually they aren’t. So you just end up drowning in your own thoughts and your depression or anxiety worsens
Paranoia. You think that people are getting annoyed with you and the awful symptoms
One minute you’re having fun with your friends and family, and then it hits you hard and begin to shut down without an explanation, nothing to have triggered it. Suddenly you have trouble enjoying yourself with people you are happy around
Foggy thinking, making it impossible to concentrate or remember anything
Gaining weight because you don’t know what else to do. Or the weight loss because you are just not hungry and don’t have the energy to cook
You’re guilty all the time. Hurting friends and family, lying about why you can’t do something or go somewhere, not going to work, staying in bed all day, not taking proper care of your responsibilities… It’s consuming and never ending
The uncertainty. You don’t know if you’re going to wake up in the same horrid mood, a worse or better one. Not knowing if one day you’re going to stop functioning. Not knowing whether you will be able to keep your job while keeping your head above water
Cancelling plans last minute, having your friends and family think you don’t love then when this occurs constantly
You don’t know if your thoughts are real of just effects of depression feeding you lies. You feel betrayed by your own brain and you’re not able to distinguish the true and depressive thoughts
The need to put on an act so everyone thinks you are OK, but inside you feel worthless. Sometimes you just want to shout that you are suffering and cannot cope, but you’re made to feel like you are not allowed to show weakness. The exhaustion and the physical pain caused by holding back tears because you have to appear to function well at home, at work and in social situations
Not knowing how to explain why you are depressed. People constantly ask you “What’s making you depressed?” or “Why are you depressed?”. It’s hard to keep saying that you have no clue. Because if you knew, you would have loved telling them and fix it, but it’s tough… you just don’t know why. You just are
Awareness. Awareness of all the things that are wrong, but the inability to fix any of it
The physical and emotional pain and weariness and feeling like you have to apologize for all of it. It’s exhausting!
Wanting to put yourself in dangerous situations. Depression isn’t always about laying in your bed, it also can be the urge to be self-destructive. People don’t talk about this because it’s a kind of a grey space. You’re not really suicidal, but you have a kind of urge to put yourself in dangerous situation
When you’re typically a super responsible, organized person, and you slowly feel all of it start to unravel. You start showing up late to work, falling behind on tasks, stop eating, start praying that your kids (if you have them) won’t notice and you put on that fake smile and try to keep it all together. Through tears and self-doubt, you pull through for them because they need you
Thinking you’re no longer in love with the love of your life. Becoming paranoid of them thinking they’re bad for you. It causes the partner to feel unloved, no matter if you still say ‘I love you,’ they can feel it
When every decision, no matter how small or big, becomes an insurmountable burden because of your indecisive mind. Then the guilt of having made a decision that always seems to be the wrong one. And then more guilt that makes you think you are useless to anyone in the world including yourself
Selfishness. You tend to isolate yourself and put your depression first, and the rest second. Depression takes the spotlight, and everyone and everything else is in the backseat
Constipation. Whether it’s because of something bad you ate, the medication or because all you do is sleep. It takes you weeks to start getting back to normal, and nothing prolongs the cloud in your head than feeling bloated and sick on top of lack of motivation and self-deprecation
It is important to remember that no matter how much you are struggling or how overwhelming your symptoms may feel, you are never alone and you are worthy and deserving of help.
THIS IS A NEW SERIES WHICH CONSISTS OF ME LOOKING BACK AT ARTISTS I LOVE AND HAVE INFLUENCED ME THAT ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER ALIVE.
If you don’t know who Audrey Hepburn is, then where were you all your life? She was dubbed the most beautiful woman year after year. And, well, look at her!
This is the person in question in the late 1950s. Now you recognise her? Perhaps you might know her from this photo then…
I have seen her most popular movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which is where this photo is taken from, just last weekend and… wow. I can see why people loved her. Her energy, charisma and chemistry on camera with her costars was undeniable.
What some might not know, however, is that behind the cameras, she battled clinical depression and a speculated (therefore not diagnosed) eating disorder.
Let’s get on with it shall we?
A teenage Hepburn bravely ran missions for the Dutch resistance and dramatically escaped from Nazi soldiers herding her off to a labor camp by hiding for a month in a rat-filled cellar, living on scraps.
Although she binged on Belgian chocolate as a youngster, her wartime near-starvation drove Audrey Hepburn to “resent” food: the beginnings, of an eating disorder that would affect the wafer-thin actress for the rest of her life.
“I decided to master food; I told myself I didn’t need it,” Hepburn said of her war years. “Of course, I took it to an extreme. I forced myself to eliminate the need for food.” For years after, she suffered survivor’s guilt, haunted by images of friends and neighbors being dragged off to die.
More on this later.
Love and Depression
While she went on to fame and an Oscar in such movies as “Roman Holiday” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” she was trailed by depression as a result of several miscarriages and her failed marriage to actor Mel Ferrer.
Also chronicled in the book Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait is her affair with a then-married William Holden, whom she dumped after finding out he had undergone a vasectomy and would never be able to provide her with children. Her second marriage to Italian psychiatrist, Dr. Andrea Mario Dotti, was short-lived, a victim of Dotti’s incessant philandering.
The ED that wasn’t?
One of the biggest sources for the rumor that Audrey Hepburn suffered from anorexia and possibly even depression is her youngest son, Luca Dotti’s, Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen (excellent book with personal insights, by the way). In this book, he states that for much of her life she was very underweight, weighing only 88lbs. He also said that she had very strange eating habits, that were part of her disorder.
Wolders, Audrey’s last partner before she died, totally dismisses the claim about Audrey being anorexic by saying that it is “absolute bullsh_t, she had a good metabolism.”
Even Audrey’s second ex-husband Dotti, a psychoanalyst who specializes in these types of eating disorders, agrees with Wolder by saying she always maintained a “healthy but disciplined diet, based on her youthful training as a ballet dancer.” – Source People Magazine 1994
Up until Luca Dotti’s book was released, most people thought her slender figure was due to her intense ballet training. Ballet dancers are usually slim and slender, and often have boyish figures. It was not unbelievable that this was a natural result of the training and exercise that Audrey Hepburn went through in order to become a dancer.
As said above, as a child, Audrey was known for her love of chocolate. She was said to have loved Belgium chocolate so much that her mother had the kitchen staff hide her favorite treat. Audrey herself was even known to have said that chocolate was her one and only true love. It is hard to believe that a child who loved chocolate so much would grow up to be naturally thin. As several people, have pointed out, at the very least Audrey Hepburn had a strange relationship with food. While there is little concrete evidence that she was anorexic, she certainly had some known strange behaviors when it came to what and when she ate.
Reasons that prove Hepburn was NOT anorexic
Her closest family members, two sons, two ex-husbands, and last recent partner who spent time with Audrey the most claim that she was not anorexic
Her close friends and people who she hung out with on the sets of movies claimed that she always ate pretty good portions and had a good appetite, especially for spaghetti
She was a ballerina. In other words, she was an athlete. This is not just some hobby of hers, she trained to become a prima ballerina as her career
She was very energetic and didn’t complain about having chronic fatigue, which a lot of anorexic people complain about having
And that’s basically it!
Did Audrey Hepburn have an eating disorder? And why do you think so?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂 See you in the next one
THIS IS A NEW SERIES WHICH CONSISTS OF ME LOOKING BACK AT ARTISTS I LOVE AND HAVE INFLUENCED ME THAT ARE UNFORTUNATELY NO LONGER ALIVE.
This is quite a difficult post to write; I’ve had to do a lot of research on the matter and I was quite surprised with what I found about the comedian’s untimely death. My earliest memory of his acting was either in Jumanji or Mrs Doubtfire when I was still a child.
The assumption was the Robin Williams ended his life due to struggles with depression, which he was known to have dealt with when he was still alive. And I will repeat again: this was the assumption.
In a recent interview, Susan Williams, Robin’s widow, revealed that he was actually struggling with dementia with Lewy Bodies – also called Lewy Body dementia. While making the loss of such a beloved individual no less tragic, this does throw a different light on matters.
So what is Dementia with Lewy Bodies?
Dementia with Lewy Bodies is not as common or well known as depression, or the more familiar forms of dementia, most obviously Alzheimer’s disease. However, even among the grim spectrum of neurological disorders and mental illnesses, dementia with Lewy Bodies is a particularly nasty condition.
The most likely people to develop dementia with Lewy Bodies are men, aged early 60s to 70s. Sadly, Robin Williams fell right into this category.
So it wasn’t depression after all?
As Susan Williams said, if Robin Williams had depression at the time of his death, it was one of countless other symptoms he was dealing with. A look at the very brief summary shows just how all-consuming dementia with Lewy Bodies can be.
But depression and dementia with Lewy Bodies often occur together, as is the case with most dementias. This is entirely understandable; it would take someone of superhuman mental fortitude to not let such a diagnosis affect them very deeply. It’s like depression with anxiety: they often co-occur together.
We will never know exactly what Robin Williams was thinking when he opted to end his own life, and at this point it seems disrespectful and more than a little sinister to keep asking about this. However, given the number of things dementia with Lewy Bodies can put a person through, accusations of “selfishness” now seem more unwarranted than ever.