We are looking in the wrong place 

Everytime my mum says ‘I wish I had legs like you’ I want to scream. I’m not meant to look desirable or nice or ‘perfect’. I’m not even meant to look healthy- and yes I do look healthy, but you can’t tell me that’s body dysmorphia when the worlds perception of beauty is so warped. 
Beauty shouldn’t be a concept based on looks. A look should never be desired. No one should be told to be smaller, bigger, more toned…. We shouldn’t be told to Contour out faces or straighten our hair. Beauty isn’t what we look like, beauty is accepting yourself. Beauty is kindness, selflessness, honesty. 

We can’t gain beauty by changing the way we look. We shouldn’t think someone else is more beautiful, or desirable, based on what they look like- and the fact we are taught this from such young ages, it’s disgusting. We are all beautiful so long as we are good people. We are all beautiful so long as we are willing to learn. We are all beautiful, not because we look a certain way, but because we are individual and unique. We are beautiful because we are ourselves.
I don’t want people to say ‘if I had toe body I could wear it’, because believing beauty comes from the way clothes fit or our appearance in general is wrong!!! We never find children ugly because they are true to themselves, they are accepting and loving and honest. 
We can be short, tall, slim, muscular, wide. We can wear make up, or not. We can have curly hair, straight hair, frizzy hair. We can have high check bones or rounded faces. We can be an hour glass, an apple, or no shape at all- these things don’t matter and a society that makes us believe they are is a society which needs changing. 
We live in an age where we never feel beautiful, because we are looking in the wrong places for beauty. Look inside! Look at who you are. The things you do, the qualities you process, your strengths and weakness- all these things, the things which are unique and personal to you, that’s where your beauty is hiding and you ARE beautiful! You are a beautiful person!!!
Stop trying to change your appearance and instead let yourself glow.

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Depression 

The lonliest place to be, is in a place you can not describe. A place where there is no light, no thoughts, no emotion. A place that you know inside out and back to front, and yet you can not draw a map to show others. It’s lifeless here and no matter how many seeds I plant, nothing grows. Yet by the day, I can feel my surroundings shrivelling away, making a nothingness even less. I know this place, yet I still can not find the words to tell others, or to even tell myself out loud. Because for some reason, the words in my head do not translate to any from the English language. I guess this place I am in, could be described as an isolated prison. One from which I can see colour, life, movement, yet I can not reach it for the walls around me are too thick. And from the outside, these walls that cage me can not be seen, as the human eye can not see past a smile. There is not much here, no sadness, no joy, no anger, no hope, no trust. There is simply a vast darkness of echoing noises, which are so familiar they become lost in the silence. I don’t feel distressed, for I know this place. I do not feel desperation, as I have made peace with my surroundings. I do not feel, for my mind has long gone, replaced with this prison I’m in. I continue, as I still remember the motions- but as for meaning in actions, there is none. You do not see where I am trapped, for a smile becomes an invisibility cloak, though I wish I could do the impossible: tell you, show you, let you in. It’s lonely here, a loneliness you can’t understand. There is no exit, no end. This is forever and you will never truly know.

Thoughts about weight

I think, sometimes, or at least I want to think. I’m a thinker and it driver me insane that thinking is so difficult right now. I’m the person who goes and asks the nurses at 3 am about how babies think (as my thoughts form words and babies don’t know words) or have conversations through a sleepless night about how we see colour or what the universe is expanding into. I’m the person who changes the mind of a whole class room who are certain happiness is self actualisation, that really happiness isn’t attainable and self actualisation is acceptance. I’m a thinker, I like thinking and more than anything else, more than anything else that I’m not able to do right now, I want to be able to think again. 

However I was just thinking about scales and weight and BMI. 

BMI was a calculation invented for an experiment to simply classify people into groups, not as a medical measure. So how can we accurately say what a body, what an individual should be? BMI doesn’t take into account a persons bone structure, their muscle mass, it is simply a formula made to group people together. 

 And weight it’s self is a reflection of gravity on a mass and everything has mass however small or large. Nothing can ever be  entirely weightless, because gravity  constantly interacts with everything that is and ever was. The thing is depending where on earth you are, or where in the solar system you are, your weight will be different. If you are in the top of a mountain you will weigh slightly less than in a deep valley. Weigh is variable, not only because what makes up our bodies is always fluctuating (water, waster, cells) but because it varies depending up in the gravitational pull in your location. 

Yes, scales are standardised to a measurement, but how is it possible to make sure every scale/weight in the world is exactly the same? No matter ho much you try, there will always be small, tiny, variations. 

So not only is BMI a load of rubbish for more reasons that one (it wasn’t made for medical purposes, it doesn’t take into account muscle mass or bone density….) but weight in general is unreliable. We are more than a number, a number that varies and fluctuates.  We are people. We are people with personalities, good and bad qualities. We are people who are growing, changing, adapting to the world around us. We are people who have lessons to learn, mistakes to make and a universe full of infinite possibilities to offer. The world we live in puts such emphasis on weigh; it has almost become the most important and talked about measure in society- but what about kindness, love, gratitude???
You are more than a BMI. You are more than a number. You are a person! Don’t let numbers decide your happiness. Don’t let numbers, that at one time in history dos not exist dictate your future. 

What I have learnt

I’m not recovered, I don’t even think recovery is a concept I believe in. However over the years that I have battled with mental illness, I have grown. I may not be ‘recovered’, but I’m certainly not where I was. I’ve learnt a lot in recent years and I wanted to briefly share what I have discovered….

We are responsible for our actions. We may not be able to control a situation and sometimes it’s easier to blame our behaviour on someone or something else, but regardless we are in control of our own actions. We always have a choice in what we do. But saying that, we are not always responsible for what happens to us as we are not in control of other people’s actions. If we go through life always making justifications – “I did it because x happened”- rather than accepting that we made a choice, we will never move forwards. We choose what we do and in doing so we must accept the consequences.

To move away from a place of self-hate we need accept and forgive. We need to allow the past to be the past and let go of the pain which keeps us trapped in disorders. But most importantly it’s essential to forgive ourselves. If we keep holding on to the anger of the pain, the idea that we are to blame or that we need to be punished, we will always stay trapped. And the truth is, we deserve to be forgiven, regardless of the underlying cause of our illness. We didn’t choose to become ill and the likelihood is that we weren’t responsible for whatever caused us to become ill- whether it be because of a life event, genetics, circumstances, or even a mistake- we have already suffered, we don’t need to cause ourselves more pain by holding on to an idea which isn’t correct. We are not purposefully causing harm to others, we are not bad people. Forgive yourself. There is no reason to keep on holding to the idea you are undeserving. Forgive yourself and leave the past in the past.

You have strength. We may believe we are weak for struggling, but the struggle in its self comes from having strength. If we weren’t battling, it wouldn’t be hard. No, the use of any maladaptive coping mechanism isn’t ideal, but you are still finding the strength to cope in some way. You are strong for surviving up until this point, even if there have been many bumps along the way. You have the strength to continue and you have the strength to change. To be ill is not a weakness.

No one is all bad or all good. Every person is capable of both good and bad. We all make mistakes and do things wrong, but these human traits do not make us bad people. Other people might do or say something which leaves us feeling a negative emotion, this doesn’t make them a bad person. A person can be good and do things wrong and often mistakes come from a place of caring enough to try.

Things will change. We are fluid, we are constantly changing without even meaning to. At times it might feel that this fight is endless, but times will come when it’s easier. You haven’t always been ill and even if you are suffering from a chronic illness, there will be times when it can be under control and managed. As you travel through life, the more you learn, the longer the periods of stability will be, until the point that you can live a healthy life. Although nothing ever stays the same, we have to choose to make changes in a positive manor and grab hold of the glimmers of hope. We get to decide if we keep making the same negative decisions or whether instead, we do something different. Life changes, nothing stays the same, allow yourself to adapt with time.

Sometimes all we can do is fake it until we make it. You might not like yourself. You might not want to live. You might want to lose weight. But if you focus on your positives, commit to life and limit disordered options, eventually these commitments will become as second nature as the disordered path of thinking you currently have. Don’t let an illness and maladaptive coping be the only option or commitment you make. You haven’t always been ill and therefore it’s possible not to be. If a bully is constantly telling the victim a certain message, the victim will believe it eventually even if it’s not true and the same is true with positives. It will take time and it doesn’t mean you have to avoid what you are feeling, but rather we should be kind to ourselves as we would be to others. Tell ourselves a truth we don’t believe and eventually we will. You are worthy. You are good. You can succeed.

There is no time line to life. Often illness leaves us feeling left behind and maybe it is true that you aren’t at the same point as others around you, but that’s ok. This is your life and your journey will take you different places. It doesn’t mean you are a failure, that you are unlovable, and that you might as well give up. It means that you should learn what you can from where you are right now to take forwards in life with you. Maybe you haven’t got a degree, maybe you aren’t in a relationship, but that’s ok, because you are learning lessons unique to you. You don’t have to do anything at a set time, opportunities are always available so long as you are alive.

No one knows what they are doing. It’s common for people to be afraid of growing up, getting older, the future, responsibilities, new events in life. In actual fact, everyone, even those who aren’t ill or have had a ‘normal’ life are afraid. Nobody knows what they are doing, but that doesn’t mean we can avoid moving forwards. There is no handbook to life, there is no guide telling us how to ‘adult’ and there is no one single correct way- we just do it, even if we don’t know what will happen, or what we are doing. If we keep our mind open and take it day by day, there is no reason to be afraid because we will survive. We have survived till now, we can survive the unknown.

Think before you act. Sometimes the intensity of a situation may impact on our ability to make rational decisions. If your initial idea after an event is to do something negative, to avoid the situation, to reinforce your negative core beliefs- don’t do anything. Don’t withdraw, don’t cancel an appointment, don’t harm yourself or whatever else, just keep going as you were before, or do nothing at all until your thoughts calm down and you can think clearly again. Emotional situations impact upon everyone’s cognitive ability, so sometimes it’s best to wait before doing anything in response. Take time to stop, to slow down, to breathe.

I could probably write a whole book on things I have learnt and what I believe others need to know. But then again, I don’t want to give away all the answers, because some things we need to work out for ourselves. And when the time is right, you will!

Exam results

At the beginning of exam seasons, a charity in Leeds called ‘Shout Out  Leeds’, published a blog I wrote on how your best is enough….so I though that as tomorrow and next Thursday are A-level and GCSE results days (respectively), I would share with you the link, as I feel the message is important regardless of where we are with out educational journeys.

Your Best is Good Enough.

However, I also wanted to  share a bit of my own story in this post, in the hopes it will ease any anxiety, guilt, disappointment or thoughts of failure which may accompany exam results- regardless of what grades you receive.

I sat my GCSE’s in the summer of 2009. I hadn’t been to school for coming up to a year, had spent 6 months in inpatient treatment and to make my stress that little bit worse, I was discharged from hospital the day before my first GCSE was due to be sat. I had more than enough reason to not get the grades I aimed to get, but when I opened my results I was filled with disappointment. they weren’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough- none of those thoughts were accurate, I had tried my best, whilst putting my health first and that WAS what mattered most.

I went on to 6th form and in true megan style, I was sectioned 6 weeks before my a- level exams were due to start. when exams came around and was decided I was to physically poorly to be able to do my exams and I was crushed. What was the point in recovery? everything I was working towards, my whole future was stripped from me in one swell scoop.

But, now I am 23. And this September I am planning on going to university, after returning to education last year and gaining the qualifications needed. Yes, most of my friends have their masters by now, however at 18, further study wasn’t what I needed. I needed time to experience life. Time to work out how to survive. Time to grow into myself.

At 18 I felt the world might as well end. Now at 23, I’m glad I wasn’t able to go to university 5 years ago, because although life hasn’t been easy or straight forwards, I’m now at a stage in my life where start to work towards my dreams once more and actually succeed.

You are not defined by exam results. Whether you didn’t get the grades you wanted or that you were unable to sit exams this summer, its going to be ok! You are more than a few letters on a piece of paper. Education will ALWAYS be an option that you can return to at any point. What is important thought is you health, your kindness, your resilience, you courage and your ability to grow.

So good luck for tomorrow ( or next Thursday) and whatever your results are, be proud of yourself.  You did the best you could in that moment and that’s all that matters. So regardless, treat yourself with some kindness and remember everything happens for a reason. Yu have options which extend much further that a few letters on a piece of paper.