Georgie’s Story.

This is the first time I’ve really spoken about the thoughts I had about my body whilst being a teenager with Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome (KTS).
In a nutshell, I was born with one leg bigger than the other. I will go into more detail about it in a future blog post, or you can find out more by looking at my Instagram (listed a the bottom of this article!).

Growing up, I was constantly comparing my body to what I saw in films and magazines. Slim people who had symmetrical bodies were in my eyes “perfect”, as that was what t.v adverts and magazine articles always portrayed. Did I ever see girls wearing compression stockings or having different looking legs? Not. At. All.

All the shows and magazines I loved had little or no diversity: Teen Vogue, The Hills, The Devil Wears Prada, The OC, the list goes on! I thought; visually, that I wasn’t enough, as the media was sending me subliminal messages: my body didn’t make the cut. I did not have the “bikini body” I kept seeing advertised and articles written about. I went through a phase of doing sit ups everyday before school started because I believed that having abs would make me feel better about my body, and that it would draw attention away from my leg.

The closest thing I could relate to was Bethany Hamilton’s book -Soul Surfer- she’d lost her arm in a shark attack. She was determined to surf again despite missing an arm and absolutely embraced it. She was such a major source of inspiration, and still is. I absolutely loved the film adaptation too (worth a watch).

I used to love watching America’s Next Top Model. Which is kind of ironic really, because it was all about what you looked like and having this perfect “look”. I can’t for the life of me remember what episode it was but Tyra strongly advised a beautiful woman on there to have the gap between her two front teeth closed. And it made me really upset and angry. The lady was happy with her teeth, and felt that it was a characteristic which made her unique; yet there she was being pushed to have her teeth adjusted. And for what? Someone else’s idea of what is attractive, and on what they thought would sell. For a teenager to see that was in no way, shape or form okay. It was insinuating that my differences weren’t good enough and that I should change to fit someone else’s ideologies.

Fast forward to today…. Everything has changed, yet everything is still the same. We have been given an amazing platform to broadcast our thoughts and our ideas globally, all at the touch of a screen.

Teenagers are now exposed to social media. I see influencers are pushing to sell weight loss products to their followers (many of which are teenagers who are particularly vulnerable) claiming that by drinking a “skinny coffee” you will lose 5 pounds in week. They will then proceed to back this up with a before and after photo (posing and lighting works miracles people!). There they stand with their chiseled jawbones, abs of steel, pert breasts and perky bottoms. This would have taken hard work in the gym, a carefully planned diet and maybe even some cosmetic surgery; not a week drinking “skinny coffee”.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that I want to see more people confident with their own bodies; regardless of size, shape, colour or gender. And EMBRACING it. As girls – like my teenage self- will be seeing your photos (yes YOU with the 3.7 million followers) and be influenced by them. You want them to love the skin they’re in and empower their peers that it’s okay to be different.

To the people with a large following on social media; think carefully before you agree to that paid partnership with a fast track weight loss product. You are influencing millions of young minds, when most of them are already self conscious (like I was) of their bodies. Instead, encourage them to realise that they have so many assets which make them beautiful inside and out. They are good enough (and so are you!) just the way they are.

Instagram: @elknacc

Georgie @ TEWP x

Rachel’s story.

Mental health has always been a really taboo subject that people aren’t comfortable talking about or sharing with others. Many people feel ashamed or weak and scared that people are going to judge them for it. In the last few years people have been more open about mental health and it’s a really positive thing I think. It lets people know there not alone and that they can get through things. I’ve spoke about my experience before but deleted my old blogs and I wanted to start again. So I’ll share it again.

When I was about 9/10 my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and I was at an age where I didn’t fully understand but I understood enough that it was a really bad thing. I actually got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about 7/8 months after my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I won’t bore you all but basically with type 1 diabetes you’re either born with it or it’s genetic. But, I was 10 and nobody else in my family had it the diabetes specialists believed that I actually got diabetes due to the stress of my dad being ill. So 12/13 years ago is really when my mental health issues started.

My Dad beat cancer the first time but sadly lung cancer always comes bad and dying is inevitable. So in 2010 I lost my Dad quite unexpectedly, this was a really hard time and for the first year I kind of blocked things out and pretended everything was okay and it really wasn’t. I knew I was more nervous and a bit sad but I thought that was normal because my dad had not long died. What I didn’t know was that I actually had quite severe anxiety and mild depression.

I was at a family members funeral about a year later and I had my first panic attack. My face was as white as a sheet, I felt sick, I kept nipping my hands and I thought I was going o pass out. My mum decided she needed to take me to the doctors because this was more than just feeling a bit on edge and sad.

This was the beginning of the next 8 years I’d spend receiving mental health help from the NHS. I’ve tried it all psychology’s, psychiatrists, counselling, mental health nurse, therapy and even acupuncture. First I started with a counsellor who I actually ended up seeing for 6 years and about half a year into my counselling they decided I needed something a bit more. So I started a CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) course with a psychologist and as much as this helped me with new ways of thinking. My anxiety was too severe for it to actually work because even though I knew my thoughts were irrational I couldn’t stop them and I couldn’t stop my panic attacks.

I was fed up, drained, emotionally exhausted and angry at myself for not being “normal”. In a nutshell my anxiety made me scared of doing things alone, staying over night alone, getting on public transport, going anywhere that wasn’t familiar and being in crowded places. It was unbearable I was 19 and my mum couldn’t leave me for a night because I’d sob and asked her to stay. I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts and my huge fear of dying and suicide.

I’m still not sure to this day if I was ever fully suicidal or not I had thoughts constantly but I was scared of dying. Losing someone so close to me made me so aware of death and sometimes I felt so low I didn’t want to be here and having the control to end everything scared me. I remember the first time I ever felt this I was at a train station and I thought about how I could just jump in front of the train and all my sadness and pain would be over. Situations like this would play in my mind all the time I could just jump in front of a car, lie on the road, jump out someone’s car, take an overdose of my insulin and never have to deal with these feelings again. It got so bad that I refused to be alone or stay alone or do anything alone. I was constricted to my mums house, work, a pub round the corner and a few friends houses it wasn’t a life I wanted. I grew increasingly angry and frustrated with myself but nothing would ease my feelings and my life felt like it was truly at a stand still.

At the end of 2016 I met my boyfriend Calum who lived in Stirling at the time and it was so hard. I still feel bad now that he had to pick me up every weekend just to see me because I couldn’t get a train or bus alone. I was so dependent on everyone around me and I didn’t know what it felt like to be independent. My mental health started to take a bit of a toll on my relationship and Calum stood by me through it all which I’m so grateful for. I realised as well if I ever wanted a career or live with my boyfriend I’d have to leave Bonnyrigg and get out of my comfort zone.

So despite years of me saying I never wanted to be on anti depressants or any kind of medication I was referred to a diabetic psychologist and mental health nurse. None of my sessions ever really touched on my diabetes though. I remember the first time I met the psychiatrist my first words were “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not normal?” This overwhelming feeling of shame and anger had consumed me for so long I hated myself I resented the fact I didn’t think “normal”. He explained that I was normal that I just had really extreme anxiety and an inability to control my emotions healthily. He explained that the reason my anxiety wasn’t getting better with any other things I’d tried was because trust my brain was wired too anxiously to comprehend rational thoughts. So I accepted that I needed to go on anti depressants which was a really big thing for me because I always believed medication wasn’t the answer.

Anti-depressants changed my life. I can hand on heart say they were the best thing that ever happened to me. After trial and error with medication and doses I found the perfect one for me. It was like a light had been turned on in my brain and all the horrible thoughts were put behind a locked door. I started to do things on my own, I stayed alone, I started travelling from Edinburgh to Glasgow on a train alone and I could cope! The things I’d been so desperately scared of and sad about disappeared and I felt like I had a new lease of life. I even applied for university got in and I’m now studying my dream course and I moved to Glasgow with Calum. I am so independent now I don’t sit in the house sobbing and having panic attacks over things that scare me. I get up and I face them. Of course I still have days I’m a bit anxious and I’ll get the bus instead of the train because there’s too many people on a train but the point is I get up and I go.

Basically the point in this long winded post (v sorry if it bored you I talk too much) is that mental health is fucking terrifying, it feels like the worlds about to end and like there’s nowhere to go. But, there is it’s so cliche but it always gets better which takes hard work but it’s worth it all. I know it’s hard to open up and it’s hard to accept that you need help but trust me when I say people are so supportive. Friends, family and even the doctors who get such a bad name for mental health help. Without the NHS I dread to think where I’d be right now I might not even be here.

Remember make your mental health a priority, open up and give yourself all the love you need especially when you’re going through a shitty time.

Rachel’s blog:

https://racheljokelly.blogspot.com

Instagram:

@racheljokelly

Rachel @ TEWP x

New year, same fabulous me!

Last night I was having a fun night in with my friends, some food and some drinks having a great time. One of them had joined a dating app recently and I ended up making a profile for a laugh. When setting up my profile I discovered I don’t have any photos of myself since about June and even then it’s one selfie that isn’t horrendous but I’m not overly thrilled about it.

I knew I had been feeling down about myself recently but I had no idea how long it’s been since I thought of myself worthy enough to take photographic evidence of how I looked.

The past couple of months I’ve been working as a Christmas Temp in a well known, mainly womens, clothing shop. Every single day I’m working in the fitting room there is AT LEAST two separate women who take a pile of clothes in to try and leave with nothing but guilt and self hatred. It is heartbreaking to watch and no matter how honest I am with them about how amazing I think they look or how envious I am of their bodies, style etc they still leave empty handed and probably feeling worse.

Most of us believe the real time to beat the body blues is summer because of going on holiday and needing to wear bikinis or swimsuits so you don’t melt in the sun. In reality we fight this every single day. If its not a holiday, it is a night out, Christmas and New Year parties, weddings, work nights out, going for dinner… We are constantly fighting this and assuming everyone sees all the negatives we see in the mirror.

So from today I am going to make a concious effort to do something to feel good about myself as much as I can.

I want YOU to go buy that outfit you think you can’t pull off, don’t try it on cause we all know fitting room lighting is horrendous…buy it, go home and get done up then try it on and take alllllllllll the selfies and post that shit all over the Internet! Most importantly, feel good about yourself, you are not alone in how you feel about your body but the only people who can fix how we feel about ourselves is us.

Happy New Year when it comes but there won’t be a new me, I’m good as I am and so are you…

Happy Anniversary to me!

Happy Anniversary to Me!

In January, I will have reached a significant single girl milestone; I will have been single for a full year.

This is the longest I’ve EVER been single, since boys first came into the radar back when I was a teenager.

Dating nowadays seems like an impossibility.

Literally all of the seemingly ‘good ones’ have already been snapped up, and us single gals are left with, what seems like, the dregs of society.

In the past year, I’ve been on some pretty awesome dates, and some equally terrible ones. I’ve met incredible humans and true scumbags in, unfortunately, equal measures and have some hilarious stories that I share with the coupled up friends who are living their single lives vicariously through me.

I had that one date that was so bad I left after 33 mins. This swiftly became the measure that ALL other future dates would be measured against. A bar set so low that I may as well have put it on the ground.

I had that one date with a Navy Officer who made me laugh so much that I nearly peed a little.

I had that one date with the intelligent physicist that I thought went so well, but he never contacted me again.

I’ve not felt the ‘vibes’, I’ve been weirded out, I’ve laughed until I cried, I cried, I’ve had some fascinating conversations, some extremely dull conversations, I’ve flirted, failed to flirt and shared some excellent kisses. I’ve been ghosted, mildly harassed, and complimented.

It’s been a great year, and despite all the ups and downs, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

My advice to singletons reading:

– open yourself up to stepping out of your comfort zone
– Don’t take any bullshit from anyone
– Be the most authentic version of yourself
– Be kind, always

Lots of love,
Amy @TEWP

Dear Dad…

This is an open letter from a 20-something female to her dad. A letter I’m only ready to write now. But an important and hugely valid one no less.

I felt obliged and ready to write this because I haven’t heard any similar stories and I think putting this out there is going to be important to someone.

I still don’t know, Dad, if you realise that you are the root cause of my mental health issues. I don’t really know if you can even see to this day that how you treated me was wrong. By anyone’s standards.

As far as you were concerned, you were doing nothing wrong.

I mean, I’m yours after all, right?

It took me until I was in the (most stable) relationship in my adult life to realise that the way you treated me while I was growing up was totally inappropriate. The problem with growing up in the environment I did is that, you have no context to anyone else’s normality. Your environment is your environment and so it’s all you know.

The reason I want to write about the psychological abuse I endured at the hands of my dad while growing up is that I feel like the only stories I’ve heard or read are those of physical abuse. My experience never got physical… although that’s not to say I don’t believe it could’ve gone that way had the circumstances been right for him.

Looking back, from the age of about 5, it was clear to me and the rest of the family (I’m one of a few siblings) that I was the favourite. This was shown through excessive praise, grooming and extravagant gifts that my siblings weren’t to know about.

From as young as 5, I can recall my dad using inappropriate language to describe my appearance and the appearance of others to me. It was embedded in me from a young age that beauty was important.

I can recall my dad shutting me away with him separate to the rest of he family while he got progressively drunk, using adult language and preventing me from going to bed at a decent time when I had school the next day.

I even remember vividly my Mum popping her head round the door in tears and pleading with my Dad to let me go.

But it was Dad’s way or the highway.

This language and I guess “grooming” continued into my early teens and beyond.

I remember when I first got blonde streaks in my hair at about age 14 and he compared me to “Jenifer Anniston when she looks hot”. I remember trying to continually meet this standard. At that age, all I wanted to do was keep up the high standard and continue to impress. I craved his attention and validation. Looking back, he created that in me but like I said earlier, I didn’t know this was not normal because it’s all I’d known.

I remember when I was 11, we heard the song “She’s the one” by Robbie Williams and he talked about how that would be his song about me.

He managed, throughout my early teens to continue this sort of control and exercised it in all manner of ways to suit himself. My most vivid memory is getting my first boyfriend at age 16. I couldn’t have been more excited to introduce this special person to my family… but telling my Dad is something which I’ll stick with my forever.

I said:

“Dad, I’ve met a guy! He’s 17 and he’s so lovely”

His response was:

“I just can’t get over the thought of his rat claws being all over my daughter’s body”…

In that response alone, you can almost hear the control. Or at least the emotional control. I also remember telling my Mum I’d lost my virginity and Dad sitting perched on the end of my bed that night sobbing and explaining that he’d lost his girl.

I felt like I was no longer of any use to him. I felt like I’d never impress him in the way I used to.

My Dad left my Mum for a younger woman when I was 18 and we’ve had a strange relationship ever since, really. Throughout the years since I turned 18, I’ve felt intense rejection over and over. Even the odd time when I have gone to meet him, I’ve made sure I got really dressed up but would go home to my husband upset and feeling inadequate.

To this day, the relationship is strained. I don’t know if he even realised that the ways he treated me would be classed as abuse. They are what have led to me having mental health difficulties and I know that because I explored all of this intensetly via regression when I spent some time in a psychiatric ward earlier this year.

Fact is, my Dad is a loner. And a narcissist.  Having his first daughter gave him something to really craft and take ownership of. I’ll never forgive him for tainting my childhood but I don’t think I’ll ever stop seeking his approval no matter how bad that persistence is for my mental health.

He’s blood and, it’s just the way I was conditioned.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience at the hands of a “loved one”. This has been extemely therapeutic and I hope that if you relate to any of the things I covered, you don’t hesitate to explore these things further.

Anon @ TEWP x

 

Life with an invisible illness.

So…

Living with something that people can’t physically see is very difficult as people who look at you will think ‘she looks fine, what is the problem?’
Sometimes I know people think I am lying, especially in past jobs where people comment ‘you were fine yesterday and now you are suddenly poorly, you just look tired’… I used to get a lot of eye rolls when I say I’m not feeling well. One employer didn’t even believe I was in hospital when I was taken unwell after a rapid change in my health because I had been in the day before and was happy and smiling, just because I look that way does not mean I am not in pain and seriously tired. My invisible illness is Cystic Fibrosis, this means I can be taken poorly suddenly, CF is unpredictable and means I am always pretty tired and I can be in pain a lot along with many other things that people can’t see.
However, people with invisible illnesses ignore symptoms and tell themselves they are totally fine because society has made us believe if you physically cannot see what is happening then no one will ever believe us, why would they when they cannot see how we feel and could never understand unless they have physically experienced it themselves. I turn to telling my fellow cfers how i feel because honestly that is the only people who will ever understand.
My tired is different to the average persons tired, so when you tell someone you are knackered the response you will probably receive is ‘same’ which is frustrating!
Having an invisible illness has affected my anxiety, it honesty blows it through the roof knowing no one gets it and most of the time no one really believes you.
My pain isn’t the same as a headache that a paracetamol will fix but with pain, unless you can see blood everywhere or a dislocated joint it’s not taken seriously in everyday life.

Living with something people can’t see is one of the most frustrating things to live with, even more frustrating than the actual illness itself sometimes.

Sometimes, I want to sleep for days but because you cant see how I feel and how my body works overtime I get labelled lazy and no fun.
Sometimes, I want to hide away from the world because I feel genuinely alone and judged.

I don’t know what it is like to feel ‘normal’ just like most people don’t know what it’s like the be ‘different’

Take the time to listen to what people with an invisible illness are telling you and how they feel, because it’s super hard to talk about without feeling judged, being questioned and being disbelieved.
Imagine shouting something from the rooftop you had to deal with but no one quiet understood and you can’t even show them or compare it to something they may know.

CF is like having a hangover and the flu, constantly… just without the stale booze scent.
It still doesn’t make total sense in your head right? It’s not right and like ‘oh yeah suuuuure’
Imagine having the flu and no one believed you so you HAD to continue your day like normal and not rest? How frustrating is that? You just would not want to do it at all.
That’s mine and many others daily struggles.
I used to not talk about it at all because if the fear of people not believing me and people not inviting me out anymore or not wanting me around them because they just didn’t understand.
That is such a lonely feeling, make everyone around you feel welcomed and let them know you’re willing to learn and listen.

If someone has an invisible illness, chances are they barely talk about it so if they do , it’s kind of a big deal.
It’s like that saying don’t judge a book by its cover.

If you suffer with an invisible illness, please never feel disbelieved and don’t ever feel upset or stressed about it – explain to work, your friends and your family your frustrations and ask them to ask you any questions, don’t feel shut out and like it’s pointless because your health needs to be understood. If the person you are explaining it to isn’t willing to listen or give you what you need then it’s THEIR problem, they are ignorant. It is not your fault.

It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay to help others and it’s okay to talk about what is going on.
Most invisible illnesses come as a package of serious pain, tiredness, sickness & plenty more! So don’t question if someone is lying or make a comment that may hurt them because it’s already stressful enough.
Mental health is also invisible as well, so LISTEN and BE THERE for people.

I have learnt to cope with any negative comments people may have or people upsetting me by cancelling what they say out with a positive thought and also telling myself ‘it’s okay, they just don’t quiet understand yet! the important people in my life understand and are there for me, there is’t enough space in my life for ignorant people’
Always remember your health comes before ANYTHING. DO NOT PRESSURE YOURSELF TO STRESS OVER ANYTHING OR ANYONE especially those who do not listen.
TALK ABOUT IT!
It helps and you feel better when you talk about it to the right people.
Remember, empower each other always, support everyone in your life and help them talk openly about things, don’t be one of the people that ignored it so people talking openly hide away from talking about it.
You never know what anyone is truly going through, it’s free to be kind.

I hope this blog post has helped people understand and helped others cope, my inbox on insta/email is always open for listening and helping no matter who you may be!

Ells xx
@thelifeofellie.blog – instagram
https://www.instagram.com/thelifeofellie.blog/

Post Natal Depression and me. You are not alone.

2014 – the year my partner and I decided we would try for out first baby. I had always wanted to be a mum so this was the most exciting time for me and at the end of October 2014 a pregnancy test was positive. We were both over the moon, I could not believe I was going to be a Mum! In July 2015 I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. It was the best feeling in the world.

6 days after giving birth, I woke up with a horrible, anxious feeling in my stomach and I started to cry and could not stop. I felt awful. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, i’d just had a baby so why was I feeling so sad? I rang my mum who came over to my house more or less straight away. I called my midwife who came over too. She said lack of sleep and being a new mum was the cause and that it would get better. The doctor said it was ‘new mum syndrome’ and that it would settle down.

I felt like an awful Mum. I found it hard when my baby cried. I felt like I didn’t love my baby enough.

Where was this instant bond everyone talked about?

Every morning I was woken up with this horrible, anxious feeling in my stomach and uncontrollable crying. I had my midwife/health visitor round everyday as I knew there was something wrong with me. I went back to the doctor who said it sounded like Post Natal Depression which I think I already knew. I was given Citalopram and told that it would take 3+ weeks to start to take effect.

I also started seeing a psychologist but this didn’t seem to help me as I didn’t have the answers to their questions. They asked ‘why do you think you feel like this’ but I did not have an answer. I did not really know why – I could not think of anything that had triggered it, it would have been easier if I could have.
By May 2017 we decided to try for another baby. I weaned off my citalopram as I had been feeling ok for a while so I thought I was ready. End of August 2017 another positive pregnancy test once again brought excitement.

A week later the horrible anxious feelings and endless crying returned. I didn’t want my partner to leave to go to work. He said I should go see my mum so I wasn’t sitting on my own. I remember getting ready to leave and standing at the back door of my house crying cos I didn’t know how I was going to go outside. I eventually went out but I think I was struggling not to cry most of the way. I was off work for 12 weeks. This was prenatal anxiety.

I got put back on Citalopram throughout my pregnancy and am still on it today.

My advice to any mums feeling like I did is to seek help as soon as you feel something is wrong. Go out for walks even of its a short one. Talk to someone – your partner, your family, a doctor – anyone.

You are not alone.