journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

10 Weeks Away – UPDATE

I feel like I haven’t wrote to you guys here in forever! Life has changed so much since I last posted in May.

In June, I flew across the other side of the world to work at a summer camp for children with special needs in the United States. I have been working with children since I was 15 and special needs children since I was 16 and have enjoyed every minute. These children make me feel complete – they give me purpose; they bring hope and positivity every single day.

Now, travelling across the world has its own challenges. Homesickness. Unfamiliarity. Loneliness…but the positives made everything so bearable. New friendships. Self-discovery. Passion. Feeling like you’re doing something good… Summer camp made me feel like I belonged. I discovered so much about myself and put all my love into those around me. I felt whole – like I was home. I have found my place.

Summer camp has been the best experience of my life. I have grown in so many ways, met so many different types of people as well as cultures…and discovered that even the people you expect to have it all together find it difficult too…

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In the terms of updating you guys on my journey – its been nearly 8 months since I came off medication for mental health. To me, that number is incredible! After being on medication for 18 months…not relying on any is a big deal (even though its a struggle).

My anxiety has its ups and down. I don’t think there’ll ever be a day where I will be completely anxiety free (well at least not in the near future) and I am completely okay with that. Anxiety has become a part of me. Anxiety has been with every single memory I have – I know no different. Although anxiety can be a negative thing in so many aspects…I pondered on it for a while recently and realised that my anxiety shapes my personality and brings some positives.

My anxiety makes me overthink – which allows me to be prepared for everything that could happen (but usually never does)

My anxiety sends me into panic and stops me feeling safe – which allows me to avoid danger (a lot of the time) due to being over-safe and checking everything (such as making sure doors are locked and being ultra-aware of my surroundings)

My anxiety makes me hypersensitive to everything around me – which allows me to be sensitive towards others and notice when things just aren’t quite right.

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I have missed each and every single one of you. You think I don’t notice you but I do – every like, every favourite, every comment, every blog share, every follow.

I love you guys so much and pray everyday that you choose recovery.

You deserve it.

I’ll post soon – I promise.

  • – Sav x
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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Why I Became ‘Open’…

I haven’t blogged much this month and there’s a reason for that, but I am always so grateful to have the opportunity to encourage and inspire others who are struggling and to take up so many opportunities to change society. That is why I want to talk about the reason I first became ‘open’ about my mental health problems.

In 2015, I began working with the charity Fixers. Previous to this, I was completely closed up and private about my mental health problems. Around 2005 I started experiences more anxiety that affected my daily life. I became more withdrawn from friends, took comfort in being by myself and avoided anything that made me anxious. For years I kept my feelings and my thoughts hidden in fear that there was something wrong with me or that people would think I was ‘crazy’. It wasn’t until 2009 that my family found out there was something wrong when my self harm became apparent. However, that was only the icing on the cake and the majority of my thoughts and feelings continued to  be kept guarded. A few weeks of therapy and everything was done and dusted.

So why did I decide to open up about my mental health?

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I was forced. Now the word ‘forced’ doesn’t necessary need to be seen as bad. Yes, I was forced to open up about my problems because I had no other choice but opening up did bring some good things. As most people know, in 2013 I developed Anorexia Nervosa that was discovered in late August/early September of 2014 when I was unable to function or even exercise, and refused to eat or drink. As each year went on, my mental health problems got worse and more and more problems developed. It became increasingly difficult to keep everything hidden. Self harm intensified, my body image worsened, my Depression began to turn suicidal, and my Anxiety increased so much I was having panic attacks everyday that were hours in length. It was impossible to hide the fact that I wasn’t okay. In 2014, I began treatment for Anxiety and Depression and was referred to CAMHS after a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa. Like a lot of young people in Wales, I was failed by the NHS’s mental health service.

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In 2015, I found fixers and met with my YPC Jenny who was amazing from day 1. I had a mission to prevent other young people going through what I had gone through. I wanted society to change. I wanted educational settings like colleges (who failed to help me or spot the signs) to become more aware of mental health and mental illness and I wanted the government to listen. I wanted the stigma to end. I began a journey of self-discovery and eventually made my film ‘Anxiety & Me’ which has been shown in schools and educational settings as well as being featured in the South Wales Argus and on ITV Wales. From there, I began talking about mental health disorders in order to help others struggling and to spread awareness and understanding to those who were oblivious.

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Opening up about your mental illness is said to be the first step in acceptable and recovery. Talking about mental health problems not only makes you feel a lot less stressed and relaxed but also encourages others to talk about mental health which in turn reduces the stigma.

Life is not easy, and God forbid it never will be, but being open in relation to my mental health problems did bring a lot of good, despite the bad.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

The Devastating Truth: Depression

Depression is often viewed as an emotion or feeling that isn’t really that serious. The true reality of Depression though is that it is a slow-moving killer that makes your original, happy personality turn silent and isolating. A lot of people who suffer from depression go on to commit suicide. Around 90% of people who have killed themselves have had Depression or another co-siding mental health problem. Even if people do not take their life if they have depression, the illness still makes them exist and not live. Life will become meaningless, exhausting and not very enjoyable.

Depression leaves you to reflect on your life as well as trying to reconstruct happiness, all whilst balancing feeling utterly alone. Depression brings along an entire stream of confusion, unhappiness, rage, grief, loneliness, exhaustion and physical illness.

The reason so many people do not talk about the raw truth of Depression is because Depression isn’t really talked about out loud. The raw truth is that it makes people uncomfortable. People who haven’t experienced Depression or any other forms of mental illness will question why a depressed person is sad in the first place or encourage you to simply ‘be happy and think positive’. The reality is that there isn’t always a reason why a depressed person is sad. Sometimes it just gets too much. No one has any reason to judge another person whose struggling, and for the person who is depressed, life is absolutely unbearable to cope with most of the time. No matter how much that depressed person is loved, they can still feel absolutely worthless.

When you have Depression, everyone else around you seems happy. They seem to have it all together and cope amazingly with everyday situations. If you’re suffering, you don’t want to take their happiness away by involving them in your problems. You isolate so that others around you can feel the happiest they can be without putting any of your problems on them.

Depression makes you unworthy of people, help and love. However, when you take a step back and view yourself at a different perspective, are you really a burden to others? All the things we can’t do in Depression set us free. Depression is a gut wrenching and isolating disease but people truly help. Having people around not only provides comforts but also support in the darkness.

No one suffering from Depression is alone.

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If You Know Someone Suffering From Depression

What you say to someone who suffers is important. Remember not to take it personally if they can’t or won’t open up to you. Compassionately reach out.

When they do open up, do not brush it off or ignore them. There is nothing for you to fix. Just listen. Sometimes, just knowing they are not alone will help them move out of the pain.

The goal of helping is giving people who suffer from depression a voice and allowing them to be heard. This pulls them out of isolation and helps them feel loved.

Reach out to them, be with them, listen to them.

This will and can save a life.

Depression is a disease of the heart, one that equals sadness.

Suicide is not reversible, but sadness, if it is caught early enough is.

With compassion, empathy and kindness to one another, we can reverse the disease. We can save each other with sympathy, honesty and love.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Suicide is NOT a sin

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of opinions on suicide. As a person whose been suffering with suicidal thoughts since the age of 11, I’ve had a good first hand experience of suicide. It often bothers me when people refer to suicide as a sin. I’m a religious person, but I believe God loves you no matter what you do. We are human; we feel, we make mistakes, we suffer. God doesn’t love us any less because of that.

Suicide is NOT a sin. It isn’t. It makes me so sad that so many people regard suicide as a sin so bad that it cannot be forgiven. A person who thinks, attempts or dies by suicide are hurting so badly that suicide seems the only option. How it is right to regard suicide as a sin when it is the result of a person suffering so much that suicide seems the only way? I’ve been there. At 11 years old, there was no other possible option. Suicide plagued my every thought. I was crying all the time. I despised myself completely. The world didn’t seem like a safe place to be. Attempting to take my life that day does not make me any less of a person than someone who has not thought about or attempted suicide.

In Exodus, suicide is referred to “a grave sin equivalent to murder”. I disagree. Murder is in no way the same as suicide. How can they even be compared to each other? Murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of a human being by another. Suicide is the act of intentionally ending your life. The difference with these two acts is the person behind it. Murderers are criminals, who often sadistically plan out the murder of another human being for days, weeks or months before the act. People who die by suicide are not criminals, nor are they sadistic. I would not compare myself to a murderer, nor would people who know me. Of those who die from suicide, more than 90 percent have a diagnosable mental disorder. These people are struggling. These people often have mental illnesses, or suffer extreme abuse and bullying or hardships in their life. These people struggle every single day to just live here on this earth. In no way is Suicide a sin. I’m not saying that I haven’t sinned before, because I have, but suicide is not my sin. For 7 years I have struggled with suicidal thoughts and attempts but that does not make me any less in the eyes of God.

I wanted to write this blog post because of my recent experience with religion calling suicide a sin or a mistake. I want to let you know that your mental illnesses do not make you any less than those who do not have mental illness. You will not go to hell for suffering with suicide, or mental illness. You are human, you are loved, you struggle, but you also feel joy. I believe in God and church is a huge part of my life. Many people in my church are accepting of mental illness and do not see me any less in the eyes of God, but some churches do teach that suicide is a sin.

Please, do not refer to suicide as a sin. So many people in this world are affected by suicide in some shape or form. Please educate yourself on mental illness and suicide before making a judgement.

“Mental illness is like a war. You either win or die trying.”

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Dear Society

I found this poem on tumblr and couldn’t help but share it to you all. Society has a big impact on people’s views, opinions and thoughts. It helps shape stereotypes and judgement which really doesn’t help those who suffer from mental health problems. The poem explores how society impacted one girl’s decision to submit to social recommendations and how eventually it made her lose control and take her own life.

You told her if she wore that dress,

she’d be the prettiest of all,

you told her she should wear high heels,

because she needed to be tall.

You told her how to cut her hair,

and how much skin to show,

you told her exactly what to wear,

“trust me because I know!”

You told her if she wanted boys,

she had to change her ways,

you told her to wear make-up,

because plain skin’s not okay.

You told her who she could love,

that anything different was wrong,

but you made her feel secluded,

like she would never belong.

She hated wearing dresses,

and she couldn’t walk in heels,

she couldn’t live to your standards,

and all of your ideals.

So you told her what she felt,

was the furthest from the truth,

she couldn’t be depressed,

because she was in her youth.

You told her she was a freak,

that she never would fit in,

but then you told her nothing,

as she pressed a blade up to her skin.

And once she had decided,

that you would tell her nothing more,

you wish you’d told the truth,

as she collapsed onto the floor.

She didn’t need the make-up,

that just being her was fine,

she could wear what made her happy,

that she could not be defined.

Then when you came to realise,

that she never knew you cared,

you wish that you’d have told her,

the world was better with her there…

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

A Letter to Myself When I Was Diagnosed With Anorexia

Dear Savannah,

I can see that life is hard. I know you are confused, lonely, isolated, and have a severe hatred for your body. I know that you struggle to get dressed everyday because you think you look so bad in everything. I know you haven’t long turned 16 and you still feel like you’re 8 years old and haven’t figured out the world yet. I’m so sorry life hasn’t been easy, and I’m sad to tell you that it will get so much more worse before it starts to get better. I don’t know how long it will take you to truly become happy, and even then you won’t completely understand the world, but life does get better sometimes. You cried so much the night before your 16th birthday because you were so afraid of getting older and becoming an adult. I’m sorry you had to feel this way. I’m sorry that you cry yourself to sleep and damage yourself so much in order to feel something other than darkness.

In a couple of weeks, you’ll have to fight so hard. Harder than you’ve ever fought before. Harder than you can imagine right now. I know you don’t see that you have a problem, and that Anorexia is making your life so perfect, but how wrong you are. In a couple of weeks, the college tutors who you’ve grown to disagree with will sit you down and explain that they’ve noticed a problem. They’ll tell you how others have voiced their concerns about your eating habits and how much weight you’ve lost. You’ll plead and cry and have a panic attack when they start to call your family. When they tell you they think you have an eating disorder, you won’t be shocked. You secretly knew this all along didn’t you? But all you could do was push it back because restriction and addiction were the only things keeping you happy. I’m so sorry that sitting in that room with so many people against you will bring you immense pain. I wish you didn’t have to go through that, but you will.

When the doctor tells you that you have an eating disorder but that you could ‘still lose a few pounds’ to meet diagnosis, all thoughts of recovery will disappear. You’ll feel defeated, drained, not good enough. You’ll become immensely motivated to stop eating altogether, even drinking and will go straight home to exercise. Please don’t be unmotivated when one person throws you off. There will be people in your recovery way better than that doctor. Please remember that the extreme restriction and excessive exercise will kill you if you continue. You’ll come so close to death before things even turn around. Also, remember that water doesn’t have calories and won’t make you fat. You’ll believe that a couple of times during recovery but its not true I promise.

Don’t be discouraged. Recovery won’t happen overnight. You’ll relapse a couple of times and refuse to lose Ana’s mindset. You’ll become depressed and severely suicidal. You’ll go on medication and then come off. You’ll meet friends and lose friends. People will be judgemental. Life won’t be kind to you. You’ll struggle more than succeed, but you’ll make each day simply by breathing.

When you start to recover, you’ll realise God put you through this struggle so that you can reach out to others. Your Anorexia will bring you to meet new people who understand you. You’ll become an advocate for mental health and those you love. Heck, you’ll even write a book or two! You’ll try so hard to get your voice heard and will impact so many people by doing so. Use your struggles to always plough ahead and reach out to others.

Your life and happiness is not centred on how thin you are, I hope you remember that as you grow and life changes.

I hope you learn to honestly express your emotions some day but for now, please breathe.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Turning Love into Life

It’s very easy to lose touch with reality sometimes, or be totally unaware of everything that goes on around you. The exhaustion I’ve felt over the past couple of weeks is indescribable. I’ve been physically and emotionally drained, not even wanting to leave my bed. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but things have been difficult.

To get out of bed, to get dressed and to even leave my room has been such a big task, and a lot of people who have gone through mental illness will understand what I mean by this. But today, I feel slightly proud of myself. I got out of bed, got dressed and actually made it church. Despite all the anxiety, all the emotion and extreme exhaustion, I sat in that theatre and absorbed every single word our pastor said. It was all about being the greatest person you could be. That instead of feeling bitter inside when someone else’s life is going great, you feel happy for them and work on being the best you can possibly be.

I’m not the strongest person in the world, or the most considerate, or the most open minded. I’m not good at social situations, or people in general, and this stops me from doing so many things. I’m not the greatest person in the world, but I’m the greatest me I can be right now.

Life with mental illness is incredibly hard. It seems as though everyone around you is going on with their lives and you’re there in your own little bubble – totally ignored, isolated and confused. Confused on how you ended up this way or how you just can’t seem to grasp life like everybody else does. How are they so happy? That’s what you think.

My church are happy. As a community, they are happy. They are giving. They are strong. They have hope in every single person, and for that I am so grateful.

I hope I am able to someday put love into life and create something for myself that will not only benefit me but will benefit so many other people around me.

One day at a time.

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