Ten Things I’d Tell My Younger Self

I’ve been experiencing a little writers block lately. I don’t want to write shite anymore. It doesn’t feel good to publish blog posts that I don’t take any pride in. I don’t want to feel obliged to post something on certain days just to keep up with other bloggers. So I’ve decided not to continue churning out blog post after blog post for the sake of consistency.  I’m opting for quality over quantity from now on. 

With that in mind, yesterday I went on my IG Stories and asked my followers to suggest ideas for blog posts. I asked you guys what topics you’d like me to write about, what challenges your facing, what issues your struggling with. And as always, you didn’t disappoint.  My favourite suggestion was to write a post with advice that I’d give my younger self. So I’ve decided to write that one first. 

Having come full circle from self loathing to self love, my reflections on my past are inevitably tinged with sadness and regret. It’s not neccessarily a case of wishing I could go back and change things. But I can’t help but ache a little when I think of all the pain I put myself through, hating myself as passionately as I did. But hey, we live and we learn right?

So let’s get stuck in. Here are the ten things I’d tell my younger self! 

1. There is more than one kind of beautiful

I have news for you; you are actually really, quite beautiful. I know you’ll find this hard to believe. But the truth is that you don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful. You don’t have to have crystal clear skin, or sparkling white teeth. You don’t have to be stretch mark and cellulite free. You don’t need to be petite and graceful. You are beautiful just as you are. And I’ve got even more news for you; your body isn’t gonna stay the same for ever. In fact, it’s about to change in a BIG way. But you’ll still be beautiful. Because contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, there is more than one kind of beautiful and in time, you’ll learn that for yourself. 
2. Your body is not the enemy

You may find this hard to believe, but your body is the best friend you’ll ever have. Everything it does, it does for you. It will never leave you. It will never hurt you. It won’t cheat on you, or slag you off behind your back, or tell you lies. Your relationship with your body will be the longest realtionship of your life. You can never ever get away from it and vice versa. So invest in it, make it a good relationship, or you’ve got a whole lotta misery ahead of you.

3. You are valuable 

Ok so you may not be the most traditionally pretty girl in your group. You may not be the cleverest girl in your class. You may not be the most popular kid in your family. Yes, you can be difficult and you regularly challenge and test the patience of those around you. True, you can be high maintennce and tempermental. But you ARE valuable, just as you are. Never ever let yourself feel less than, or not enough. Remind yourself everday that you are valuable, because you are and always will be. 

4. Your sexuality is not wrong

Those butterflies you get in your nether regions when you see that boy you fancy, or when you watch Sex And The City while your Mum’s out of the house, there’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your body in bed at night. There’s nothing wrong with being curious and using the internet to find the anwers to your questions. There’s nothing wrong with day dreaming about doing the no pants dance with Him while you should be listening to your teacher. And guess what? Your friends are ALL doing the exact same thing! It’s all totally normal, so stop feeling so bloody guilty about it all! 

5. Do it for you, never for him

Don’t be bullied into doing something you’re not ready for. It won’t make him love you. It won’t make him hold your hand in public. All it will achieve is making you feel like shit. So don’t do it! If you want to have sex for the sheer shits and giggles of it, GO FOR IT! Get yourself on the pill and buy the biggest box of Johnnies you can find, and have at it girl! Sex is the bee’s knees,  but only when it’s about you! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Make sure he looks after you and your needs. Demand your orgasms! Trust me – they’re worth it. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s something you have to do. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not doing it. You’re not stupid so don’t fall for that shit. If you’re gonna do it, do it for you. NEVER for him. Ps: if he’s trying to bully you into it, DUMP HIM. He’s an asshole and doesn’t deserve your beautiful body.

6. If they don’t get you, they’re not your friends

A true friend is someone you can totally relax around and just be yourself with. They’re someone whose weirdness matches your weirdness. Their uncoolness matches your uncoolness. You can be goofy as hell around each other. You can admit to still watching kids tv just because you like it. You can admit to being afraid to have sex, or to having had loads of crap sex. You don’t have to hide anything about yourself from them. Because they get you. And if they don’t… I’m sorry babygirl but they’re not your friends. Move on, find real ones. Because there is NOTHING better than real friendship. 

7. Wear whatever you want

Fuck fashion rules! Fuck dressing for your shape. Fuck not wearing pink and red together, or only wearing the eye shadow colour that matches your eyes. WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT! Experiment with fashion. Wear weird shit that nobody else wears. Get it wrong sometimes and laugh it off when you do. Hold your head high! Be different. Be interesting.. Stand out from the flock of sheep in their O’Neills bottoms/rara skirts. And don’t listen to your parents. They haven’t a clue about fashion! 

8. The life plan is not your friend

Please. Stop. Planning. You are so clueless about what’s in store. Stop investing in these intricate plans to have this done by that age and be married by that time etc. Live life by the seat of your pants. Choose a college course that you think will be fun. Work hard at your part time job and save half your wages every week. Plan for the year ahead, but never beyond that. And just enjoying being young. There are some very hard times ahead, so just have fun now while you still can!

9. Don’t be a bitch 

STOP TALKING SHIT ABOUT OTHER GIRLS! That is bitchy as hell, and you’ll never know how much the things you say are hurting the people you say them about. They don’t deserve it, no matter what they’ve done. Don’t be so judgey. Who the hell do you think you are? GIrls need to support girls. Be on your own team. You’ll learn soon enough how hard it is to be a woman in this world, so don’t go out of your way to make it ever harder. You’re not a bitch. I know that. So just stop acting like one! 

10. Self hate isn’t worth it

Reality time. You cannot change yourself. Yes, you will change over time, but not deliberately. Life will change you, you’ll learn lessons and grow. The people in your life will change you, they’ll make you a better, stronger person. But you CANNOT change yourself. So please stop torturing yourself trying to. Get used to who you are. Learn to live with the parts of yourself you’re not too keen on. Remind yourself everyday that you’re basically a really good person at heart, and you’ll soon make peace with yourself. Because if you only take one thing away from all this, let it be this; self hate is not worth it. 

Sarah xo 

World Mental Health Day Stigma Smash! 

Today it’s WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY. Yay! So for the day that’s in it, I wanted to smash some stigmas that are heavily associated with mental illness in Ireland. 

Unfortunately I don’t think you guys want to read a twelve thousand word dissertation, and I don’t really want to write one to be honest, so I’m limiting the scope to the three stigmas which I think most urgently need to be smashed. These are stigmas that not only paint a horribly inaccurate picture of what it’s like to experience and live with mental illness, but they actually make a persons mental illness WORSE! So they really need to go. Like, now. Today if at all possible!

Stigma 1 – Suicide is Selfish

The belief amongst many that suicide is a selfish act is one I used to subscribe to (hangs head in shame at former closed mindedness). I thought that to end your own life, to put your family and friends through what can only be described as the most heart wrecnching, soul destroying grief imaginable was an utterly selfish thing to do. I mean, if you loved your friends and family you would never do that to them, right? Wrong!

It wasn’t until I began to have suicidal thoughts myself (shivers at the mere memory) that I realised the truth; for many people, suicide is seen as the right thing to do for the people you love. I can’t claim to speak for everyone who has ever had suicidal thoughts obviously, but there is no doubt that in my case my thoughts around suicide were completely based on the very certain conviction that I was damaging the lives of everyone around me. 

I wholeheartedly believed that my friends and family, my own daughter who was just five years old at the time, would be infintely better off if I was no longer around. Sure, they’d be sad at first and there’d be a period of grief and mourning. But in my mind at that time, I thought they’d get over it and go on to live fuller, happier lives as a result of it. 

That’s some dark shit, right?

So how does this make mental illness even more difficult for those going through it? Well it’s simple really. It makes people much less willing to talk about their experiences of feeling suicidal if they think they will be criticised for it. And if they don’t feel free to talk about their experience they can never fully recover. We need to stop making people feeling guilty for having gone through this. Instead of shaming them, we should be supporting and celebrating them and their courage.  

Stigma 2 – Depression is Just ‘The Blues’ 

If i had a euro for everytime somebody brushed off depression as a simple case of ‘The Blues’ I’d be on a yachy in the south of Spain right now, or at the very least I’d be writing this post on my very own rose gold MAC and not my daughters Lenovo tablet. 

Many people of a certain generation still hold the opinion that depression is just a phase we all go through, an inevitable result of the shittiness of life, and something to be just gotten over with a generous dose of tough love and a bout of fresh air. This is NOT TRUE! 

The symptoms of depression go above and beyond a simple bad mood or a period of consecutive bad days.  Insomnia, lethargy, weight loss, weight gain, mania, axiety, disappearence of sex drive, self imposed isolation, lack of personal hygiene, irrational mood swings, paranoia and about fifty other sympotms are associated with depression. 

It is NOT The Blues. It is a debilitating and life threatening illness. By brushing it off as anything less, we discourage them from seeking the help they desperately lead, and increase their chances of suffering in silence as their illness gets worse and worse over time. 

Stigma 3 – Medication is The Source of All Evil

Now this is a slightly trickier stigma to smash, but one that needs urgent smashing nonetheless. The notion that antidepressants and other medications associatied with mentall illness are bad is seriously damaging. 

During my depression, not only did I take an antidepressant for six months, but I also took a sleeping tablet every night for three months. Both antidepressants and sleeping tablets have a horrible reputation for being super addictive, and coming with a list of side affects as long as your arm. But by the time I’d gotten myself into the doctor, I was desperate. 

So I took an antidepressant every morning for six months, and a sleeping tablet every night for three. 

And guess what? The world DIDN’T end! In fact, my first nights sleep without my sleeping tablet was a full, undisturbed eight glorious hours. I had absolutely no problems at all coming off my daily dose, and I’m convinced that had I chosen not to take a tablet every night at 9pm for three months, I couldn’t have developed the really healthy sleep routine that’s still lasting today. And my antidepressants were no different. I have absolutey no regrets about using either, and won’t hesitate to go back for more if I ever find myself in that position again! 

Unfortunately most people live in real fear of both forms of medication, aswell as other forms of medication perscribed for mental illness. Because of this stigma, too many people avoid going to their doctor to seek treatment, and just endure hellish symptoms for months or even years on end. 

Ireland has a long way to go before our society swaps shaming of people with mental illness to supporting people with mental illness. Initiatives like World Mental Health Day are definitely a step in the right direction, as they encourage the discourse around mental health and raise awareness and understanding of one of the most important social issues of our time . Yes, there is still SERIOUS stigma surrounding all forms of mental illness. And yes, these stigmas are harming the mental health of our nation. But through social media and online campaigns, we WILL smash them. And once they’re smashed, hopefully sufferers of mental illnesses such as depression will finally feel comfortable to speak up, seek help and find their way to the road of recovery! 


Dramatic Weight Change; Time to Think About the Why! 

Some thoughts I’ve been having around weight loss and weight gain on my holiday… Musings, if you will! 

We tend to see weight as a problem, the problem. When somebody gains or loses weight, we look at that as the problem. But we never really wonder why. 

When somebody gains or loses weight rapidly, it’s an indicator of far more than the amount of food they’ve been eating. Sure, we often wonder how they’ve lost or gained it. We regularly speculate about their eating and exercise habits. We’re always very interested in the how but not the why

I gained about six stone in a ten year period. The how? I binged on shitty food. The why? I was battling self loathing and depression. If somebody lost six stone in the same period, the why is equally important. 

Why is that person losing so much? What’s going on inside their brains to result in such dramatic weight change? What demons are they facing? Are they sitting at home crying every night? Do they hate who they are? Are they having suicidal thoughts? Are they self harming? Do they have anyone to talk to? What help do they need? 

These are just some of the questions we should be asking when dramatic weight change occurs. But we never do. 

I wish my family would ask themselves these questions when they look at me, instead of always focusing on what I eat and how often I exercise. Maybe then, they’d realise that I am not my weight. Maybe then, they’d realise that I am more than just a number on a scales.

Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
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Responding to Fat Shamers… What’s The Point of Preaching to the Choir? 

I recently spoke on my Instagram stories about how a cousin of mine had fat shamed a girl on TV in front of me, and how upset it had made me. To be honest, the word upset is an under statement. I was enraged. 

Fat shaming others in front of fat people, is like slagging off blind people in front of other blind people, or taking the piss out of black people in front of other black people. It’s not acceptable. End of. 

Unfortunately, I felt too emotional at the time to respond to my cousin in a way that wasn’t agreesive, so I took myself out of the room until I felt calmer. Having had a bad temper in the past, I used to be a huge hot head pre-counselling, I’m glad that these days I can anticipate my temper and avoid losing it at people. But I do regret missing an opportunity to explain to my cousin how his comments made me feel, and why he should be more conscious of what he says in future. 

It got me thinking. What’s the point of my Instagram? Why do I post regularly about body positivity and self love? My followers know what those two terms mean. They follow me after all. I don’t need to convince them not to fat shame, or explain to them about how fat shaming makes me feel. I’m preaching to the choir. 

But what about the other people, like my cousin? Shouldn’t I be spending more of my time trying to convert them? Shouldn’t I be taking advantage of every opportunity to make the people who’ve never lived in fat bodies aware of the effect their words have on us? 

The answer to these question, obviously, is yes. So I’ve decided to start by emailing my cousin and explaining to him how his comments made me feel, in a way which will hopefully not come across as aggressive but will make him think twice the next time he fat shames, no matter who’s around. 

Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
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20 Things That Are Hard AF When You’ve Got Depression.

Last night I came across a post on Instagram which highlighted the glamorisation of the #selfcaresunday hashtag. It really made me think about the way we talk about self care, and I realised that I haven’t been very forthcoming when it comes to talking about the daily struggles I faced during my depression. 

So in the interest of breaking down the stigma around mental illness, here’s a fairly exhaustive list of the things that were hard AF for me during my depression. 

  1. Brushing my teeth
  2. Changing  my bed sheets
  3. Washing dishes
  4. Opening post
  5. Answering the phone
  6. Showering 
  7. Doing a grocery shop
  8. Changing my underwear
  9. Changing my tampons
  10. Hoovering
  11. Paying bills
  12. Getting my daughter to school on time
  13. Going to family events
  14. Brushing my hair
  15. Wearing deoderant
  16. Walking my dog
  17. Taking out the bins
  18. Cleaning the toilet 
  19. Doing laundry
  20. Putting clothes away at the end of the day 

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    5 Tips for Online Dating for Plus Size Girls 

    So your fat, single, and ready for a change? But how do you deal with the whole weight thing on online dating sites? Even if you’re body positive, it can be tricky. Trust me I know, I’ve been there. 

    This seems to be a challenge that many fat girls face. I’ve had lots of followers get in touch in recent times, asking for advice on how to be honest about their bodies online. So I decided to throw together a few tips for you ladies based on my experience. 

    1. Pictures Are Required 

    Twelve pictures of your lovely smiley face aint gonna cut it if your serious about meeting soneone. When I’m crusing an online dating app, I automatically disregard profiles that don’t include full length pictures. At least one picture of your body, head to toe, is required. No excuses please. 

    2. Don’t Be a Catfish 

    We’ve all heard of the dreaded catfishing phenomenon. Some of us have been victims of it. Don’t be that person! You may have been taught all your life to only use pictures that are ‘flattering’, but in the world of online dating honesty really is the best policy. If you take a snap and are thrilled beyond belief with how thin you look in it, don’t use it. Be honest. Be realistic. Be yourself. 

    3. Sell Your Self Love 

    Believe it or not, people are attracted to people who love themselves. Men in particular, who are so used to super self conscious women, find self loving women refreshing and sexy. Talk about this. Get it across in your profile. You don’t gave to say ‘my name is Emma and I have a beautiful fat body’. But you can say something like, ‘my name is Emma and I’m a self confessed chubby chick’, or ‘cutie with a booty’, or ‘plus size and proud’. Make sure the person reading gets a sense of your self love, they’ll love it! 

    4. Leave The Anger At The Door 

    Very often I get messages from followers, and it’s immediately clear to me that they’ve got some anger issues. I understand it. The world has been a bastard to you. It’s made you feel worthless, so of course you’re angry. But anger isn’t attractive. And it seeps out subtly in the words you use. Keep your profile positive and upbeat. You don’t want to appear bitter or resentful. That’s really not a turn on. 

    5. Open Your  Mind, And Your Heart

    There’s one thing that all fatties have in common; we’ve been beaten down. We’ve been taught, for our whole lives, that we’re unattractive and undesirable. But the truth is, we’re just a type. True, not everyone’s gonna fancy us. True, most people won’t. But there are lots of people who will love you for your body, not in spite of it. This can be very hard to accept. Especially for self love and body positivity newbies. But I promise you that it’s true! You’ve got to open up to the idea, so that when one of these lovely humans does message you online, you won’t immediately dismiss them. 

    Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
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    My Five Favourite Self Love Accounts 

    Following bopo accounts on Instagram is crucial to developing self love and body positivity. Why? Well considering the fact that these days most of us spend more time on our phones than off them, it’s no wonder that the messages we receive through our social media have an immeasurable impact on how we think and feel. 

    When we make the decision to start working hard to cultivate self love, a social media clear out is the best first step. Unfollowing/unliking accounts that make us feel bad about ourselves is an incredibly powerful thing. Often we feel guilty about this, as though we are somehow obliged to follow fitness bloggers, celeb chefs and models for motivation. But society has totally warped our understanding of the word ‘motivation’, and the truth is that those accounts do nothing except make us feel guilty, ashamed and inadequate. Goodbye! 

    It’s not enough just to unfollow and unlike these accounts though. We’ve got to replace them with accounts that promote self love and body positivity, and will have a positive impact on our thoughts and feelings. Luckily for us, there are countless accounts on both Facebook and Instagram in particular that provide just that! If anything, it could be argued that there are too many accounts that promote the same things, making it difficult to see the woods for the trees. 

    That’s why I’ve decided to share my five favourite self love Instagram accounts here: 

    1. @strutbymic

    I adore this account. Strut post and repost anything and everything to do with self love. They’re truly inclusive, boasting one of the most diverse pages that I’ve come across to date. I particularly love their celeb content that promotes celebrities who are blazing the trail of positive mental health. This account is an essential resource to anyone and everyone! 

    2. @effyourbeautystandards 

    This account was created by plus size model and bopo badass Tess Holiday after the hashtag (also created by her) took the internet by storm. It’s now an encyclopedia of all things self love, boldly promoting all kinds of beauty. The account is a shining light for the unconvential and the brave, and is a wonderful resource for those learning to love themselves. 

    3. @chooselifewarrior 

    The wonderful Danni is an aussy girl who has quite literally changed my life. She was the first bopo account I came across on Instagram just over six months ago. But her account is about more than just body positivity, is about fat activism, which was particularly important to me at the begining of my self love journey. In addition to posting about fatphobia and fatacceptance, Danni is all about inclusivity and diversity. She’s an absolute sweetheart, super down to earth, devoted to her followers, and will be your friend if you need one. 

    4. @omgkenzieee 

    This girl. DANG! Kenzie Brenna, Canadian bombshell and creator of #cellulitesaturday, is a living breathing rainbow. I shit you not. Everyday she helps almost 200k people across the globe to love who they are, as they are. Kenzie’s message is a simple one, that speaks to people of all race, religion, weight, body type, ability, sexuality and whatever else. Her message of unconditional self love is so powerful, her unwavering passion and conviction shinning through every word and every image, that following her can only improve your quality of life. 

    5. @gracefvictory 

    Last but by no means least, is Grace Francesca, a plus size social influencer, presenter and author. This girl is my idol! On her Instagram account she posts about everything from body positivity and mental health, to women’s issues and current events, to plus size fashion and style. She’s probably one of the ballsiest women I’ve come across, and she’s just soooo likeable! Her account has shown me that fat chicks can be super stylish, trendy, and current too. Before following her my wardrobe was full of skater dresses and floral blouses. Now I’ve got more body con than anyone would ever need! For a daily boost of sassy self love, look no further!

    So that’s my five favourite self love accounts on Instagram! If you’re not following them, please do. I can guarantee that they will help you in your quest for self love just as much as they’ve helped me in mine! 

    xox

    Sarah 

    Are you struggling with body confidence and self esteem? Join The Self Love Sisterhood today to get weekly newsletters jam packed full of aweome resources and tools that you can use to boost your self love RIGHT NOW! 
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    The Bikini Body Bullshit 

    It’s that time of year again, when our social media becomes saturated by Bikini Body workouts, meal plans and ‘thinspiration’. I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it’s not something that I enjoy. Far from it. But given how pervasive the Bikini Body pressure is in society, I have to face facts and accept the reality of the world I live in. Right? 

    Wrong. I refuse to accept that there is any such thing as a Bikini Body, except perhaps in the case of a human body which happens to be clothed in a bikini. 

    What I refuse to accept is this; the notion that swimwear is a privilege exclusively bestowed on bodies that have reached a specific standard of beauty. 

    Here’s why: 

    1. Swimwear is not a privilege. 

    The idea that we need to earn the right to wear specific types of clothes creates and perpetuates the idea that some bodies are more worthy than others. What about the fatties, like me? What about the disabled? What about those with extensive scarring, or skin conditions? Those bodies don’t reach society’s beauty standards. But does that mean they are less valuable? No! 

    2. My clothing choices are my own. 

    When we judge someone harshly for wearing something we think they shouldn’t, what we’re really saying is that those people don’t have, or shouldn’t have, autonomy over their own bodies and their own clothing. We’re saying that they don’t have, or shouldn’t have, the right to express themselves the way they do, and that they should prioritise the comfort levels of others over the free expression of their own personal identity. 

    3. Society’s beauty standards are damaging. 

    Every year models get thinner. Every year thigh gaps get wider. Every year complexions become clearer, brows more defined, collar bones more prominent, hair thicker and glossier, skin more bronzed, bums perkier, lips plumper. Every year the standard rises further and further out of reach of the vast majority of people. What constituted as beauty in the 50’s is now seen as unhealthy, undesirable and unworthy. What will the standard be in ten years time? Will we require that people have an eating disorder just to try on a swimsuit in the changing rooms? And how many more men and women have to hate themselves into mental illness for us to take control of this rapidly spiralling social problem? 

    So… On that happy note, what can be done? Here’s what: 

    Put a bikini on your body. 

    Congratulations! You now have a Bikini Body! 


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    Five Things I’ve Learned About Self Love 

    This time last year I had just recently embarked on the most important mission of my life; to fall in love with myself. Like most people, I suppose, the idea of self love was completely alien to me back then, and I made all kinds of crazy assumptions about the concept. Since then though, I’ve come to understand self love for what it really is, and let go of the misconceptions I had initially, and being the nice guy that I am I thought I’d share them here. 

    1. Self Love isn’t Narcicism or Vanity

    Whoever coined the phrase, ‘she loves herself’ has done humanity a great disservice! Most people believe loving yourself is about thinking you’re better than everyone else, looking down on others and acting superior and conceited. This is soooooo not what true self love is about! Instead it’s a humble acceptance and appreciation of ourselves as we are. Funnily enough, self love even helps us to see the good in everyone around us, so if anything it boosts our opinions of ourselves and others simultaneously!

    2. Self Love isn’t Selfish or Self Centred

    Another misconception is that self love means prioritising yourself over the needs of others. It’s understandable that people make this mistake, but it is a mistake. Self love means taking diligent care of yourself, so that you can function more efficiently and easily. Someone who prioritises self love eats well, sleeps well, makes good use of their time, cuts out parts of their lives that drain them of their energy, and frees up time to spend with the people they love. They become better parents, better friends, better employees and employers. Who doesn’t benefit from that?

    3. Self Love isn’t a Destination

    I remember when I was in counselling for depression and learning to love myself. I used to get so frustrated and moan to my counsellor that it was taking too long to learn to love myself. I couldn’t wait to get where I was going, to arrive at self love. After all, it sounded like such a beautiful place. But what I didn’t understand was that self love isn’t a destination. Imagine self love as a never ending spectrum, with no end in sight. You can never love yourself enough. You can never be kind enough to yourself, or show yourself enough compassion. You can always love yourself more than you do right now, and you’re never finished learning how to do it.

    4. Self Love isn’t all Manicures and Massages 

    Thanks to  Instagram and the endless array of hashtags that accompany images of pampering days, meals in fancy restaurants, retail hauls and pretty, pink, peonies, many people believe that self love is all about treating yourself to the things you want. Unfortunately that’s not true. Believe me, I wish it was! But self love is about hard graft. It’s about knuckling down with your thoughts to understand yourself more. It’s about dragging your tired ass off the couch and into bed an hour before you want to. It’s about finding the courage to stand up to your boss, or your friend, or your partner that’s been taking advantage of you. It’s about getting the hell out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to finally treat yourself better. Sure, buy yourself the peonies, but don’t think that it means anything other then the fact that you love peonies.  

    5. Self Love isn’t Linear

    This is so true of mental health in general. Everyday is different, every moment is unique. Some days I love myself more than others, and there are some hours when my self love is higher, or lower, than it was an hour before. It isn’t a case of finding self love one day, and then just having it for the rest of your life at a constant, unchanging level. I still have mornings when I wake up and have to consciously choose to love myself. And I have mornings when I wake up positively bursting with self love. Everyday is different and it can be a bit of a rollercoaster. 

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    Depression Myths Busted! 

    It’s the final week of Depression month on my blog and over the month I’ve covered the different types of depression, the side effects and symptoms of depression, and the treatments available. So what better way to wrap it up than by dedicating week four to dropping some truth bombs and busting some myths! 

    Depression is Just The Blues 

    The biggest and most widely held of the myths, this attitude is a serious problem in Ireland. Depression is not the blues! The blues are a temporary reaction to normal life events. The blues don’t lead to big weight loss or gain. The blues don’t cause people to lose jobs and relationships. The blues don’t contribute to suicide. Depression is a mental illness. The blues is a phase. End of. 

    Suicidal Thoughts Are Attention Seeking

    Most people who are having suicidal thoughts aren’t going to be too keen to share that information around. However, this doesn’t mean that if and when a person does make the incredibly brave decision to tell someone that they’re having suicidal thoughts, they should he dismissed as attention seeking. Over the past month I’ve been blown away by the amount of my followers who’ve experienced this during their own struggle with mental health, and I can’t help but wonder if being treated that way when I confessed about my suicidal thoughts to my doctor would’ve made me more likely to follow through with them. 

    Suicide Is Selfish 

    I have to admit that this is something I used to believe. But it’s bullshit! Only when I started having my own suicidal thoughts did I realise that suicide can actually be the ultimate act of selflessness. For me, I believed wholeheartedly that I was holding back the people I loved, that my own daughter would live a fuller, more successful life without me. To me, not taking my life would’ve been the selfish thing to do. Of course I know how illogical and irrational those beliefs were, but it’s opened my mind to just how warped our thinking can become in depression, and how a seemingly selfish act can actually be a very loving, very selfless one. 

    Antidepressants Are Evil

    Another really common misconception, most people still see antidepressants as the enemy. More bullshit! Antidepressants don’t dull your senses or mess with your concentration. They don’t turn you into some sort of brainless zombie. They don’t automatically double or halve your body weight. You won’t immediately take your life the moment you come off them. Like any other medication, it can take time to find the right antidepressant for you, and you may have to deal with some temporary side effects while you find it. But if and when you’re on the right one, you can live a full and happy life with the exact same level of functionality as anyone else and zero additional health risks. Antidepressants are not the enemy. Stigma is. 

    Depression is Just An Excuse For Smelliness 

    This infuriates me. Yes, many people who are depressed struggle with personal hyigiene. Yes, I once went two weeks without a shower. Yes, I smelled. But I also locked myself into my apartment for those two weeks and hid from the world. I didn’t run around full of the joys of life, waving my steaming pits in the air while everyone around me dry heaved from the stench. If you have a colleague in work, or a friend in school, or a brother at home who smells, but otherwise they seem completely happy and healthy, they’re just smelly. If you think that depressed people are just smelly people, then you’re an asshole. 

    Depression Can be Cured With Exercise 

    This is possibly the worst of a bad bunch. It’s true that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin, and it’s also true that exercise produces  serotonin. But like all mental illness, depression isn’t some black and white scenario with a quick fix. It’s often caused by a chemical imbalance which exercise can correct, sure. But more often than not its roots are infinitely deeper and counselling is needed to teach the patient how to rewire their brain to combat old destructive thought patterns and encourage new, more positive ones. Claiming that exercise is the solution belittles the patients struggles and is incredibly disrespectful. Don’t do it. Ever. 

    So that’s it for Depression Month on my blog. It’s been a great way to begin my Mental Illness Monday feature and introduce some information on mental illness to my content. Thank you so much for reading my posts and taking part in the conversations! Next month I’m tackling anxiety, which is something that affects so many of us but is still hugely misunderstood. So as always, get in touch with me on Instagram (@sarah_tyrrell_), Facebook or Snapchat (@selflovewsarah) if you want to share your experience with me. 

    Sarah x 
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    The Symptoms of Depression – What Does Depression Look Like IRL?

    Today I wanna talk about the symptoms of depression. What is living with depression like? How does it manifest itself? How can it affect our lives?

    The truth is that depression can present itself in different ways for different people. Some people experience a huge increase in fatigue and sleepiness, while others experience insomnia and manic energy levels. But the general symptoms and side affects  are fairly predictable for most people.

    Here’s how my depression played out:

    For months on end I was irritable and extremely quick to lash out at my loved ones. As a result, I fell out with pretty much everyone in my life. I became more and more isolated from the outside world, choosing to stay home alone day after day, night after night. I found it impossible to muster any kind of enthusiasm for anything at all. I experienced crippling lethargy, going weeks at a time without showering or cooking a single meal. All cleanliness and hygiene went out the window. I lost every ounce of pride and self respect I’d ever had. I felt I was worthless, so what was the point in pretending otherwise? It was a little bit like encountering a domentor in the Harry Potter movies. I felt as though I’d never feel happy, or laugh, again. I ate to punish myself, binging almost every night on so much sweets and general junk food that I would eventually vomit, burst into tears and stuff more into my mouth in an attempt to distract myself from what I was feeling (although many people find the opposite is true during depression, and lose their appetites completely). I couldn’t make even the smallest, most insignificant decisions. When my phone rang I would panic (even if the screen showed that it was my best friend calling) and cancel the call. I felt so little worth, of so little value, that I eventually began to think that I was getting in the way of the happiness of others, including my own daughter. I rationalised the idea that if I was gone, she would have a greater chance of living a full and happy life. Sure there would be grief and sadness initially, but I convinced myself that in the long term everyone would benefit. My outlook on the future became bleaker and bleaker until I couldn’t imagine ever feeling anything other than my depression. I believed wholeheartedly that I would be depressed for the rest of my life, impatiently waiting for the sweet release of death. Towards the end, I began to fantasise about taking my own life.

    Pretty dark stuff. It still amazes me that I found my way out of it tbh. 

    Now I should be clear here and mention the fact that not everyone’s depression will last as long as mine did, and if they’ve managed to get treatment for the illness in the relatively early stages they’re unlikely to experience the depths of depression that I did. It certainly isn’t the case that a person can only be classed as depressed if they haven’t showered in two weeks, or if they’re fantasising about suicide.
    The truth is that depression can be incredibly subtle for a very long time. Looking back now I can see that I had been depressed for years. The symptoms began very slowly, so much so that I didn’t really notice them, or just chalked them down to a bad week or a stressful event. But going unchecked for as long as it did, my depression built up steadily until I could no longer deny it.

    So that’s what depression looks like, but how can it affect your life? Well if you’re experiencing similar symptoms to mine, it’s pretty easy to see how you could lose your job, your partner, your friends, fall behind on your debts and other finances, and gain or lose weight. In fact, if you’re experiencing those same symptoms, fair play to you for even having the energy to read this post. The real difficulty is in the indecisiveness that depression can cause. I remember feeling so utterly overwhelmed by the tinniest things that I would just lock myself in my room and go to sleep. I ignored my bills for months until I had built up thousands of euros worth of debt. I ignored my rent too, for months, until my landlord finally threatened me with eviction and I had to go begging for a loan from a family member. I ignored my depression itself for so long that it’s no wonder it got to the stage that it did.

    I think that part of the reason why there is still such stigma around depression is the difficulty people have with understanding it. So many of the symptoms, when seen on their own, can be easily mistaken for ‘the blues’ (a temporary reaction to life events that will pass naturally). You might notice that your boyfriend is extremely tired all of the time and has no energy to do anything anymore, and chalk it down to a stressful time at work. But when we can identify all of the symptoms together, it becomes crystal clear when a person is dealing with the blues, and when they’re suffering from depression. Unfortunatly we tend to hide our symptoms extremely effectively. I wasn’t going around telling everyone that I met that I hadn’t showered or cleaned my apartment in weeks. I didn’t greet people with, ‘hey how are you, I want to die’. I hid it so well that nobody my life had a clue, and that just made it all the easier for me to ignore.

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    Three Things I Wish Thin People Understood 

    I’m not one for ‘thin bashing’. In fact if I’ve learned anything at all from body positivity its that all bodies are subject to impossible beauty stanards. Buuuuut… As a fat person, I have experienced discrimination at the hands of thin people, a lot. So I’ve put together this post to highlight the top three things I wish thin people understood about fat people. 

    1. Fat People Deserve Respect

    I can’t speak for every single fat person on the planet. But I can say that through the body positivity community I’ve met and formed friendships with a lot of fat chicks, and we all have one thing in common; the experience of being disrespected because of our size. 

    If I had a euro for every time someone has  made a disrespectful comment about my weight, well let’s just say my wardrobe would be a lot fuller. Everyone from so called friends to parents, colleagues and even complete strangers have made snide comments to my face in the past. 

    I was once in a River Island store, perusing for a present for a friend, when a snooty sales assistant marched right over to me, intentionally looked me up and down and said ‘we don’t have your size’. 

    On another occasion I was in the smoking area of a nightclub when a lad started shouting ‘heffer’ at me at the top of his voice. 

    These are just two examples taken from well over a dozen that come to mind when I think of being humiliated and disrespected in public places. There are so many more I could choose from.

    But I want to know at what point in history did mankind make the apparently unanimous decision that fat people didn’t deserve respect? When did our thinking shift from the idea that all people deserved a basic level of respect, to one which was based on size? And also – where were all the fat people when that decision was being made? Why was it made by thin people? When did thin people decide it was acceptable to treat fat people this way? And why is it still an acceptable form of discrimination when almost all other forms have been outlawed? 

    Thin person – you don’t need to think I’m beautiful or want to get in my pants. You don’t need to approve of my choices or my life style. But I demand you’re respect, because you have always had mine even though you can be a real asshole! 

    2. Our Health is None of Your Business 

    This really gets my goat. Do I walk around with a sign on my head that says, ‘please question me aggressively about my health’? No I bloody well don’t, but it seems that I may as well have one. 

    There is something about fatness that makes thin people think they have the right to cross a line, a line that they wouldn’t dream of crossing with another thin person. Have you ever heard a thin person ask another thin person if they’re worried about diabetes, or high blood pressure? I certainly haven’t. But these are questions I face regularly. 

    If you’re answer to this is that the health of fat people costs the state millions every year in hospital care etc., then why don’t we ask thin people about osteoporosis (a very common result of lifelong thinness) or the wide scale and long term joint damage caused by regular running? We don’t question rugby players about the constant trauma they are causing their bodies, do we? We don’t interrogate people as they walk into their local gym about whether or not they’re taking necessary precautions to avoid injury, do we? 

    No, we do not. And this is because those people aren’t fat. We only feel we have the right to invade a persons privacy and demand extremely personal information about their bodies if they’re fat. But the truth is that my health is none of your business, and yours is none of mine. 

    Thin person – please stop asking me about my health. Have I ever asked you about yours? Can we just establish some boundaries for Christ’s sake? Or would you like me to start asking how regular your poos are? 

    3. Don’t Assume We Want Advice 

    If you’re a fat person, you’ve probably learned to do the smile and nod and raised eyebrows thing every time a person offers you some ‘friendly’ diet advice. It’s a skill we all learn at one point or another, how to appear interested and grateful when a thin person starts preaching to you about how to lose that weight. 

    The ironic thing is, the thin person usually thinks they’re doing us a massive favour. Because after all, we’re fat so we’re probably stupid and the advice to eat less and move more (on which every single diet/weight loss plan in history is based) will be revolutionary to our poor uneducated and ignorant minds. My eyes are hurting from rolling so much. But the truth is that when this thin person (and let’s face it, only thin people preach about diets) starts raving to us about this diet or that diet, what they’re actually saying is that we need to be different, we need to be more like them. 

    The person offering the advice does not have our backs. They are not interested in our happiness. They are not concerned about our health (otherwise they’d be asking us about our sleeping pattern, stress level, bowl movements, etc) (also see point 2 – our health is none of their business!!). They are simply telling us to conform. 

    Advice should only be given when asked for. Is that not a universally known truth? Surely everybody gets that? Apparently not. 

    Thin person – please stop advising me. I neither want nor need nor appreciate it. And with every piece of unsolicited advice you offer I am edging closer and closer to punching you in the face.