Mental health week 2019 – body image

So in the UK this week it’s mental health week and this year it’s focused on body image.  Such a humongous topic and something that I think probably effects everyone of us in some way shape or form (no pun intended).

I have had my own journey with body image along the way, if you’ve read anymore of my blog you may have read about my low moments when I tried to make myself sick, this makes me so sad when I look back now.  Our bodies are so amazing after all and yet we can treat them so badly at times.

I am once again on my own journey with my body having just had two babies in three years it has changed somewhat but I have a new found respect for how amazing it is and I will never hate my body in the way I have previously.  I also have an autoimmune disease (ulcerative colitis) which demands I respect my body to feel well so I have no choice really, I have to take good care of myself.

I feel like the media has a lot to be accountable for for the unrealistic and unachievable goals it sets us, who are they to say what the most desirable body image is anyway?  I look around my local high street and how many people do I see who look like someone from a magazine, zero, that’s right ZERO!  Perhaps the people in the magazines are the unusual looking ones and not us?

Anyway I digress a little from OCD and I do have one incident from my past which I can remember quite vividly which involves eating and my OCD.

So when I was younger and my compulsions were really bad I had to do everything four times and I mean literally everything!  I remember standing in a local shop wanting to buy a bag of chocolate – like a selection pack with multiple bars in – now this is the sort of thing you would normally only want one of.  I stood there trying to decided which one to buy for what seemed like ages, every time I made a decision – I’ll buy this one – an OCD intrusive thought would come into my head and be associated with it – magical thinking OCD.  Long story short I ended up buying four of these bags of sweets – and probably spending most of my pocket money at the time on them – and then of course I had to eat them all too – so bingeing as a result of my OCD – the result of which, predictably was that I felt full, sick, guilty, ashamed and all the other rubbish that comes with eating too much and did it help relieve my intrusive thoughts, of course not!

This happened a lot to me over the years and so not only was my mind out of my control but also my body and it did take an awfully long time for me to stop eating in this way, my poor body.

Learning to love yourself is I think a life long journey but we must focus on the things which are amazing about ourselves and not the things which aren’t our best features.  If you’re someone who loves every part of yourself then you’re a very lucky person.  I think when you can realise that no matter what you do you’re never, EVER going to look like someone in a magazine then you can start to move on and accept who you are and how beautiful you are because no matter how much you diet or work out it is completely unachievable because:

  1. They’ve been airbrushed – they don’t even look like that!
  2. They spent like 3 hours in make up as well!
  3. They had someone come and do their hair and make up for them – I’d look amazing if I had that too.
  4. All models are different too, there’s no way you can be, white and Asian and Mediterranean and 6 foot tall and petite and have blue eyes and brown eyes and blonde hair and brown hair – no one can have all those things.
  5. No one gets it all, I promise.
  6. We are beautiful because we are unique, if we all looked the same life would be dull, dull, DULL!

Mental wellbeing is essential for your body and body image to be positive too, if you can get your head in the right place then the rest will follow.  On those days when you’re feeling low just take little steps towards making yourself feel calm, right down to the basics of breathing if necessary and don’t beat yourself up for the odd off day, we all have those I promise.

Stay Strong xxx

OCD – Week of Action

So this week has been OCD week of action in the UK.  I always wish I could do more to spread the word but I can be a bit hopeless at times.

This year I used the OCD week of action as an opportunity to finally tell all of my friends and family about my OCD.  My close friends and family have known for a little while but I’ve found it hard to tell everyone I know as people just don’t talk about mental health,  conversions just never go there.

I used social media to do this and I’ve got to say, what a relief, after the initial rush of fear/Adrenalin and nerves about what kind of a reaction I would get I then found myself feeling surprisingly free, like a massive weight had finally been lifted off my back after over 20 years!  In addition to this, I’ve actually received nothing but positive feedback so far, I’m not really sure what I was expecting but the positive response has been pretty encouraging.

It just demonstrates again how much of a bully OCD is, telling you constantly that people won’t understand and that there is something wrong with you, it’s just so important to talk.

So this is the message from today’s blog, to talk to someone if you are feeling troubled, I really can’t say it enough.  A problem shared is a definitely a problem halved.  The weight of hiding a mental illness can make you unwell in itself and I don’t think I even realised how heavy that weight was until this week.

Stay Strong xxx

Talking about mental health

Until today I hadn’t really thought that much about speaking about mental health issues. Yes it took me a very long time to talk to anyone about my OCD but now that I have I don’t hide the fact I have it.  However when I meet someone for the first time it’s not the first thing I like to disclose about myself and thinking back now, people just don’t talk about mental health AT ALL!  So with the exception of just coming straight out with it, there is rarely a natural opportunity to talk about it.  In fact to this day some of my friends still don’t know, just because the opportunity has never arisen to tell them.  This makes me sad, as it’s a huge part of who I am and there is an element of freedom which comes with people knowing.

So if someone was struggling with a mental health issue, any mental health issue, would they feel like they could talk about it?  I’m guessing probably not, this is a huge failing in today’s society which must stop.  Why are mental health issues such a taboo subject when such a high percentage of the population is struggling with them (probably even more then we realise)?

So how do we get people talking about mental health?  It’s a very good question.

Events such as Mental health week help to bring mental health into the mainstream and get people talking but this is only one week a year.

Maybe if someone famous is suffering the way you are, you could use them to lead the conversation in that direction?

Perhaps a general stat could help, ‘One in four adults in the UK is suffering with a mental health issue of some kind’.

You may be surprised once you start chatting who else is feeling the same way as you. We owe it to each other to get these conversations going, don’t let people suffer in silence!

Mental Health Awareness Week

So this week it’s mental health awareness week, it now feels even more fitting that this was the week I choose to finally start my blog and try to spread awareness about OCD.

The mental health foundation have a questionnaire on their website where you can find out your good mental health score, Mental Health Survey .  I was surprised after having taken it answering mostly ‘Some of the time’ – so not particularly positively overall, that I actually achieved an average (“Normal”) result.  I think this helps to back up what is becoming more and more apparent, that mental health issues effect more people then we realise, I believe the current stat is 1 in 4 people (Some Mental Health Stats).

It is very easy when you are suffering from a mental health problem to think you are alone and that no one else could be going through what you are.  When I first starting suffering I was only 11 and I had never even heard of OCD, I had no idea what was happening and it was terrifying.  The only way we can stop this happening to other people is to raise awareness.  This is why this week is so important.