Heads Together: My Experiences 

Hello again, 

Happy Tuesday – I hope you’re all having a lovely week so far… I don’t usually post on Tuesdays, but on this gloomy evening I decided to share some more ramblings with you. My schedule is a bit all over the place at the moment – it’s hard to resist the urge to type and type away when you have an idea or subject rotating around endlessly in your head.

I recently discussed the misrepresentation of millennials (you can find the link on my blog homepage) and the pressures of being young in today’s society, and the debilitating effect it can have on our mental health. The discussion of mental health is very important to me – I find that shying away from talking about it only adds to the stigma, and increases its reputation of being ‘taboo’, when it really shouldn’t be. As hard as it initially is talking about your struggles, I find that it has got somewhat easier to be relatively outspoken about my own…

I was recently following the London Marathon highlights as the mental health charity ‘Heads Together’ was the chosen Charity of the Year for it. I may be a few days late to discuss the event, but it gave me time to reflect on my own personal experiences with mental health, and debate whether I should share them on this blog. Like I mentioned on a previous blog post, I do fully intend this blog to be mainly for ramblings about fashion, but I think that in order to be successful, you should be honest with your audience – no matter how big or small…

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After I left college, I was faced with the daunting decision that many people my age are more than familiar with. To attend university, or not to attend university? In the upcoming months leading to the end of my college enrolment, I had a million doubts about it circling in my brain. I was unsure whether it was the course I wanted to enrol myself in after all, I was unsure whether I wanted to put myself in a learning environment for even longer, I was unsure of so, so many things. Don’t get me wrong – I love learning new things, but the thought of a learning environment seemed so incredibly daunting to me, and I’m still unsure as to why. Perhaps it was the fear of the unknown… I doubt I am ever really to know. Everyone seemed so sure of what they wanted, yet there I was, so unsure of my dreams, my passions, and how I wanted to pursue them. One thing was for sure – it seemed as if university was all or nothing.
I ended up deciding not to attend. To be honest, I can’t pinpoint an individual reason that stood out from the others, in my heart it just felt wrong. The only major downside was, was that I had no backup plan whatsoever. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

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This obviously left me with endless free time, like a never ending hourglass… the sand seeping through again and again as the minutes, hours and days ticked by. This meant plenty of time to think. And think. And think… overthink myself into an unexpected whirlwind of anxiety and irrational fears about all aspects of life. As the hourglass trickled the sand through, the worse my mental health got.

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I woke up everyday with a heavy weight in my chest and a never ending feeling of absolute dread. I was always on edge – as if something catastrophic was going to happen, but I couldn’t pinpoint what. I was at the bottom of the hourglass, being drowned by the sand as the weeks went by. This ultimately lead to depression – I locked myself away in my room each evening, feeling as if I was a burden to my family and friends… I was also dealing with intense hypochondria along with my anxiety, so that resulted in pretty dangerous and horrible eating habits, which I won’t go into too much detail about. Combined with a lack of appetite due to anxiety fully taking its toll, I dropped to an unhealthy weight, so not only could I feel this dark cloud above me, people could see the effects of it too…

I knew it was time to get help after a year of feeling the same way and realising that this was not going to go away on its own. So I sought medical advice from my doctor for about the fifth time… I had been dealing with mild anxiety from the age of fifteen, but it had always been dismissed as hormones, a phase, or some other drivel they could come up with. You have no idea how painful it is for a professional to dismiss your mental struggles purely because they can’t see it. It took an emotional breakdown from me for them to finally take me seriously after about four years of mentioning it… the stigma is very well and truly still there.

I was so embarrassed to be put on medication that I refused to start taking them for quite a while. I felt weak and stupid for needing a tablet in order for me to function properly and not be so scared to leave the house. Other people could do it, so why couldn’t I?

I eventually saw sense and began to take them, and the first three weeks while my body adjusted was probably up there with the worst few weeks of my life. The side effects were about as debilitating as the reasons why I was taking them. But, with the help of my boyfriend (if you’re reading this – I am forever grateful) I stuck with it, through the fatigue, nausea, and all of the other horrible effects that came with it, and continued to take them. I was stuck in limbo for quite a while before they began to take effect – but I soon realised that I was singing in the shower again, my relationship with food was improving by the day, and my sleeping pattern also benefitted, just to name a few positives. Therefore I was no longer ashamed to say that I needed a bit of help to steer me back on track – I began to feel like me again, and I thought I had forgotten who she was.

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Eventually, I managed to gain employment in customer service – something that had previously terrified me to no end. But it has done me absolute wonders; telephone calls with strangers no longer make my heart bump through my chest, I can cheerily converse with shopkeepers or other members of the public – I genuinely feel a whole lot better within myself, in so many aspects. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been shy and I feel as if I always will be – but these little things, no matter how small, make me so damn proud of myself, no matter how arrogant that may sound.

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During my struggles, I found therapeutic comfort through baking, and blogged about it for a while. While I still adore cooking up some lovely homemade treats (I’m actually eating a slice of cake that I baked as I write this…), my true passion has always been fashion, if you’ll excuse the rhyme. The confidence I gained from working with the public as well as help from my medication gave me the drive to begin writing about what I love the most. English was always my strongest subject in my school years, and now I feel so connected with it again, all because of this. When I get an idea in my head, sometimes I may quickly think, “honestly, how much can you write about a pair of jeans?!”, but when my fingers hit the keyboard, I am up and away with pure euphoria. Even if people weren’t interested in a post, it’s the sheer pleasure of producing something you’re proud of that motivates you to carry on…

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I must stress that I am not seeking pity or sympathy, nor am I putting myself out there as some sort of hero. I still have my bad days – we all do – and mental health is a journey, not a race, nor is it a competition. Whether you’re struggling a little or struggling a lot, you matter. People’s situations should never be diminished just because someone may have it worse. Everyone has a brain, everyone has health, and sometimes our brains get a little unwell. And that’s perfectly okay – acting as if it isn’t is what causes reluctance to speak up.

The phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” fits quite well here, as I do believe my struggles have made me the best person I could possibly be, so far. Having your own battles makes you so aware of the ones others may be facing and provides you with compassion and empathy. It reminds you to be kind. Always.

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I hope me speaking rather openly about my experience has somewhat helped someone… I may have gone on a bit, but if you’ve made it to the end I do really appreciate it. I mentioned before that I do realise that in life, you can’t always put a pretty filter on things… and it’s true. Poor mental health is one huge, ugly monster trying to consume us with all its might. But it’s up to us to stick together and take it down, because we can.

Thanks for reading | Lucy Violet x 

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