I’m not broken, I’m just a little bent.

Its been a whole year today since I first published a post on The Mighty telling people about my mental illness (which you can read here) and in that time I’ve realised a number of things. One of those is how incredibly hard I have been, and still continue to be on myself and how little self esteem I have.

When I was initially diagnosed with my mental illness, I convinced myself that I was broken. It is a feeling that hasn’t quite gone away and it is a feeling that seems to fluctuate at various times, depending on my head space, what else is going on in my life and what kind of medication I’m on.

Most of the time, I’m still convinced that since my brain isn’t quite as functional everyone else, that makes me different.

Fractured. Fragmented. Not quite right.

And yet everyday I’m trying to come to the terms with the idea that I’m not broken, I’m just a little bent.

I may have scars from where I tried to cut out all the pain and sew myself back together but that doesn’t make me broken.

I may take medication daily to increase my levels of ‘happy hormones’ but that doesn’t make me broken.

There may be an intense and overwhelmingly constant battle in my head between the depression and the anxiety but that doesn’t make me broken.

There may be days where I am incredibly hard on myself because I’m so incredibly unhappy but that doesn’t make me broken.

There may be times where I lack control and feel numb and have panic attacks that I can’t stop but that doesn’t make me broken.

There may be times when it feels like the pressure I put on myself is breaking me but it won’t. It will never break me.

Thinking of myself as broken makes me feel like I’m a piece of china that can’t ever be put back together quite right or used in the same way again. That’s not true – I will eventually be okay. Eventually my brain won’t work against me everyday. This may mean taking medication everyday for the rest of my life or making a regular time to check in with myself but that’s alright.

Sometimes I just really need to remind myself to be gentle. I am ill. I am hurting. I may be a little bent, but I am in no way broken. And I am recovering. I may always be bent, but I will never be broken.

I may not bend back into the shape I once was but that’s also okay. I don’t want to be who I was. I want to be strong and brave and happy which are some of the things my mental illness took away from me. And yet, at the same time, it is all the things recovering forces me to be.

So if you’re suffering from a mental health issue, or heartbreak, or grief – this is a reminder you are not broken, you’re just a little bent. And this pressure is making you stronger than you have ever been before. After all, diamonds are made under the weight of mountains.

-M x

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Best of the web: April.

Welcome to another version of ‘best of the web’ – a round up of the things I have read, watched, consumed and LOVED online this month.

The Newsletter: To Her Door by Mia Abrahams & Grace Jennings-Edquist.
I found this newsletter after they’d already sent out three issues so luckily I got to binge read a few issues before I had to wait a whole week for a new issue. As described on their website – “Inspired by the women of Australia, To Her Door brings creativity, feminism, politics, and current events right to your inbox. We’re dedicated to telling you stories that matter — and that you actually want to read.” The newsletter is the creation of the amazing Mia Abrahams & Grace Jennings-Edquist, who met in the 90’s. The two women have been in the media industry for a number of years and told media site Mumberella, they started To Her Door as they “wanted to create an inclusive space where Australian women could tell stories, discuss issues, ask questions, and pass the microphone around all the wonderful people who care about each other and the world around them.”
Click here to get all the goodness of To Her Door straight to your inbox.

The Music: Meg Mac’s new song, Low Blows.
Ah Meg Mac you absolute musical genius you. Meg is back with this absolute winner of a single after success of song like Never Be, Roll Up Your Sleeves, Grandma’s Hands & her cover of Bridges by Broods. The vibes are similar to her previous songs with her raw and emotional vocals really shining through. She explained to Triple j’s Ben and Liam this new song was all “about standing up for yourself”.
All in all it is a ripper song and I can’t wait to hear the whole album which is out 14th July. Listen to Low Blows yourself by watching the video below.

 

The Netflix Show: Thirteen Reasons Why.
*Caution for those who haven’t finished – contains spoilers.*
Okay so I am well aware that there is A LOT of controversy around this show but I enjoyed it. Sure it was bloody confronting in some parts and I skipped through all the rape scenes because they really upset me and the suicide scene made me really unsettled but aside from that I think it is great. It’s started a conversation around suicide that really needed to happen. I disagree with critics saying that it ‘glorifies and romanticises suicide’ because if you can watch that suicide scene and say it is anything but traumatic and violent there is something wrong with you. I do however agree that the show doesn’t offer the viewer any ways to get help except to commit suicide which I think is pretty unhealthy. I’m also not sure about the blame factor within the show. However as someone who suffers mental illness and has thought about suicide more than once, I think that this is something most people should watch and talk about. The people I’ve talked to about the show also agree and a few of these people also suffer depression. But don’t just take my opinion – maybe watch it and make up your own mind.
PS – this show also has an ace soundtrack. Check it out on YouTube or Spotify.


The YouTube Video: A Ted Talk called ‘How to get stuff done when you are depressed’.
Jessica Gimeno is an absolute QUEEN. She is 28 years old and deals with FIVE chronic illnesses. She is a health activist, writer and speaker and I have a teeny girl crush on her. She did a Ted Talk in 2015 all about her health issues and some tips for getting stuff done when you are depressed. It is excellent and everyone with a mental illness should watch it. I’ve included the the video below so you can watch it if you are interested. (Just watch it anyway).

 

The Article: Why Self-Stigma is the Most Dangerous Pitfall when Battling Mental Illness by Noha Medhat
I think I feel a theme in the last three recommendations – they’re all related in someway to mental health. This may be because this month I’ve started being a little more proactive with my recovery. Anyway, this article by Noha Medhat is incredibly interesting. It is about the dangers of self stigma when dealing with mental illness, and often how self stigma goes unnoticed – much like the mental illnesses we face. It is thought provoking, wonderful and a decent read. Here is one of my favourite lines from the article, “The essence of stigma is viewing mental illness differently from physical illness because of its nonphysical nature. And that’s a trap I subconsciously fell into for a very long time, with unfortunate consequences.”
Read Noha’s article here.

-M x

 

What have you enjoyed this month? Let me know in the comments below.

Exhaustion.

There is one overwhelmingly negative aspect to having a mental illness. This is obviously aside from the whole other range of negative things such as the multitude of symptoms of a mental illness, side effects that come from medication and ridiculously emotional therapy sessions. But I digress…

The very worst thing about mental illness is that it is exhausting.

The energy that it takes every day. The energy it takes to survive. The feelings of sadness and worry and that feeling that’s worse than sadness that you can’t quite explain that physically drain you. That anxiety that keeps you on edge and then sends you crashing down from the most euphoric high. The racing heart. The sweaty palms. The brain that can’t stop overthinking everything. The need to control everything and plan and go over every detail again and again. It quite literally takes the life from you.

But the most exhausting part? 

Pretending.

Pretending that none of this is going on. Pretending that your heart isn’t beating a million miles an hour and that you aren’t sweating through another shirt. Pretending that you aren’t thinking about something you said three weeks ago. Pretending that being surrounded by strangers and acquaintances and friends doesn’t terrify you still.  Pretending that you didn’t break down again last night. Pretending that you weren’t on the edge of hurting yourself for the first time in months.

The most exhausting part of mental illness is the mask you put on every single fucking day to hide your real self from the world, and really, to hide from yourself.

It’s a mask made up of so many different elements. It’s the makeup that covers up the sleepless nights because of the nightmares and panic attacks. The smile permanently pasted on your face to hide the fear of not being liked or wanted or loved.

It’s the mask that makes playing pretends so much easier. And for a little while I can trick my own brain into thinking everything is okay.

Playing pretend used to be fun. And now it is a part of my life.

But why should it be? Why do I need to present a perfect, happy, smiling face day in and out? Is it because I’ve been convinced by society that I need to hide things I am ashamed of? But what should I be ashamed of?

I am sick. I have a condition that affects the way my brain works. It might always be there but it does not have to define me. I don’t want to feel ashamed. I don’t want to play pretend. I don’t want to hide behind a mask that has been there for as long as I can remember. I want to feel okay about my mental illness and realise how strong and resilient and fearless it has made me, because if I can get through the darkest moments what is stopping me from getting through everything else? I want everyone else to understand that is okay not to hide and not to pretend and most of all its okay not to be okay.

Most of all I don’t want to be exhausted anymore. Because honestly, I am sick and tired of it.

 

Self care tips – the non cutesy kind.

When you go through a shitty time the first thing anyone will tell you is that you need to take care of yourself.

But what does self care really mean? I think people sometimes think that self care just means lighting some candles, having a long bath, drinking a glass of wine or going to a day spa (all of which are very nice) but for the people that are really struggling self care can mean so much more.

Sometimes I think we need to dig a little deeper than a Pinterest quote or a Lush bath bomb.

So if your feeling down, or if you’ve just had your heartbroken, or you are grieving here are some non cutesy self care tips. I hope they help.

Talk it out or write it down.
Tell someone about how you feel. Tell them you feel overwhelmed or depressed or anxious. Tell someone you trust. Call Lifeline or beyondblue. There is always someone to listen no matter how small or insignificant the issue seems.
Sometimes it is hard to talk about something going on in our lives. We may feel like there is no one to talk too, that no one will understand or maybe you just don’t want to talk about it right now. In this case it always helps to write down your thoughts. Get a blank piece of paper and just VENT. Write it all down. Who cares if it doesn’t make sense? As long as it is therapeutic for you.

Breathe.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Slow. Deep. 4 breaths in, 4 breaths out. If you’re into meditation, meditate. Just do it. Taking a few deep breaths will calm your heartbeat and make you feel more calm overall.

Vitamin D.
Go outside and get some sunshine! If you can’t will yourself to go outside, even opening the curtains on a dark room will help improve your mood. Only 15 minutes of sunshine can increase our serotonin levels thus improving our mood.

Water.
Have a big class of water. Use it to regenerate yourself. It may seem like a small thing, but it always helps me feel so much better when I’m feeling crap. I also find having a mug of green or chamomile tea helpful. Both just make me feel so calm.
Your skin will also thank you for it!

Hygiene.
When was the last time you showered? Have you brushed your teeth today?  When was the last time you put on a fresh pair of underwear? The first thing that tends to slip when we’re feeling low is our hygiene. So have a shower. Brush your teeth. Get into a fresh pair of clothes. Then get back into bed.

Eat a healthy meal.
Put aside the family block of chocolate and prepare a healthy meal. You know the one, full of protein and greens and all the good things. I can guarantee you that junk food is not going to make you feel better. The action of preparing food will also make you feel more put together (it’s the act of achieving something!) You can always eat the chocolate later.

Say no.
I know, I know. This isn’t as easy as it sounds but sometimes the main reason that you are feeling so down and depressed is because you’re feeling overwhelmed. In this instance you really need to start saying no to things you really can’t deal with. Can’t bring yourself to go out with friends? Say no if you think it will help.

Do something you enjoy.
Take a day to do the things you love to do. It doesn’t matter if you do it alone or with someone just makes sure it’s things you love. Personally, I like to go for a long walk, read a book I’ve been putting off, visit a museum or art gallery and take myself out for a meal.

Switch off.
Take some time to log off social media. The constant comparisons, the light of the screen and the mindless scrolling is not good for your mental health. Don’t completely switch off from social media (unless you really want), just delete the app for a few hours or limit yourself to checking your phone a few times a day.

Get active.
This can come into the Vitamin D point or even in the Do something you enjoy point but I also think it deserves its own. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is go do some exercise. This might mean a walk, a run, yoga or a Kayla Itsines workout (whatever floats your boat!) Just 30 minutes of exercise can release so many good hormones and leave you feeling so much better.

De-clutter.
When I get stressed I clean, it helps calm me down and focus on something other than the anxiety rising in my chest. But when I’m feeling low, cleaning is the first thing I stop doing. For me, decluttering or cleaning an area in my house is one of the MOST therapeutic things I can do. So take a moment to tidy up a space. It could mean doing the dishes and wiping down the benches. It could mean putting away your floordrobe. It might just be sorting out the pile of mess gathering on the kitchen table.

Please remember these things may not work for everyone – they are what works for me. You may need to find your own ways of coping. You might be the kind of person who does find that watching netflix all day in bed is good for your self care (I am so jealous!) Self care is all about what works for you. 

-M xo

What things do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed? Tell me in the comments below. 

The best of the web: March.

I spend a lot of time online. As a Millennial, I’ve had access to the web since the early teenage years. A lot has changed since the days of racing home from school to jump onto MSN or Bebo (or Myspace if that floated your boat).

Now my social media consumption tends to take up most of my day. I wake up and check my notifications. I browse Facebook or Instagram while I eat breakfast. I read the news online when I get to work. I am constantly refreshing my email, my Facebook feed, my Twitter or my Instagram feed while I listen to podcasts or Spotify playlists – in between working in marketing I never seem to switch off from the great unknown we call the Internet.

So I thought… Why not do a round up of my favourite parts of the web each month? Here is an overview of what I loved consuming online in March!

Monique Bowley’s Newsletter, Monz Out Louder.
I have had an absolute obsession with Monz since I met her at last years Business Chicks 9 to Thrive event. She is funny, smart, beautiful, witty and my ultimate #girlcrush (as well as Zoe Foster Blake). Her weekly newsletter is a collection of her thoughts, her favourite podcasts, and some much genuine humour I find myself LOLing every time the newsletter it comes into my inbox. In last weeks issue (after Cyclone Debbie) she talked about the potential banana shortage and her love of bananas. So. Much. LOL.
Subscribe here. You WILL NOT regret it.

Big Scary on Triple J’s Like a Version.
I have been a Like a Version fan for as long as I can remember (my Dad is a Triple J listener from way back) and have found the songs featured this year to be somewhat… Lacklustre. And then Big Scary came into the studio. I loved the original AND the cover and I recommend that you listen and love it just as much as I did.
Listen to the original here and the cover here.

A blog post about honesty on Instagram from blogger Whiskey Tango Flat White.
I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and have been considering taking a ‘detox’ for quite a while now, mainly for my own mental health, but I still just can’t bring myself to do it. Then I read this post and really considered it again. The author of the blog, also named Maddie, really delves into some good points about how much of our ‘real life’ is shown on social media and how much of it is just the highlight reel. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with just showing the highlights and nor is this article. It’s more about questioning how to curate a social media presence that is authentic to ourselves and not just what other people want to see. Anyway if you are interested you can read the post here. 

Ed Sheeran’s new album, Divide.
I will admit this is a little bit of my own bias presenting here because I am slightly in love with Ed Sheeran but shhhh it’s my blog and I get to be biased. I have struggled to fault ANY of Ed’s previous albums and this one is no different. It’s honestly that great. There is a perfect mix of styles on the album from acoustic Ed through to kinda rappy Ed (yes I know rappy is not a word but I don’t know how else to explain it). There are the songs that make you want to cry like Happier and Perfect and then songs that make are so incredibly catchy like Shape of You and New Man.
Do yourself a favour and listen to it.

Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People podcast episode, Up All Night
My obsession with podcasts began midway through last year and now I am constantly on the hunt for new podcasts to listen to. I found this one after it was recommended in a blog post (I think this is right but I cannot for the life of me remember what blog it was on). The show is hosted by American comedian Chris Gethard and the concept of it is an anonymous 1 hour  phone call between Chris and the caller. There are no rules except that Chris cannot hang up (no matter the topic) and each call only goes for one hour.
I’ve listed to a few episodes so far and Up All Night is my favourite so far. It’s a conversation with a nurse who has just come off her shift and has been awake for 24 hours. I think I liked it so much because it is so raw and so honest and honestly, quite amusing considering some of the darker topics discussed.
Listen to the episode here. 

An article on Man Repeller about making friends as an adult.
This is an excellent article about friendships when you’re younger versus friendships as an adult, and how sad that difference truly is. Long story short it talks about how much easier and carefree friendships are in school and university (especially if you lived on a residence at uni like me). You are seeing your friends every single day, whereas when you reach adulthood its so much easier for friendships to slip. You have work, you have other commitments and honestly it is friendships that seem to go first. I think the reason I really resonated with this article so much is because I am at the stage of my life where I am finding it so much harder to keep up with friendship. It doesn’t help being 3 – 6 hours away from most my friends either, but I think most people will be able to find this article relevant. Read the article here.

-M xo

What have you been consuming online lately? Tell me in the comments below, I would love some recommendations! 

On the bookshelf: March.

One of my goals this year was to read more books. I used to absolutely love reading and would read a number of books a week. But then life happens and I went to uni and I forgot how to read anything that wasn’t a uni book or an essay. But now I am an adult with an adult job and free time and all that jazz. So, one of the first things I did when I moved to this new place was to become a member of the local library.

My goal is essentially to read a book a week. I didn’t quite achieve that during March but 3/4 isn’t bad. So since we are almost at the end of March here is a summary of the books I read over the last month and what I thought about them.

Happy Endings – Jon Rance.
I was looking forward to reading this book after I read the blurb on the back. It is about 4 people in their late 20’s – 2 couples – who are each battling with what they want from their life. Emma wants to be an actress. Her fiancee Jack wants to be a published writer, if not for himself, to save his relationship. Kate wants to travel before she turns 30 while her boyfriend, Ed just wants to settle down. The book is broken into ‘chapters’ each written from the perspectives of a different character.
As I said, I was excited to read this. I felt like the plot could go anywhere and it did – just not in the ways I was expecting (or really wanted). I was definitely a little disappointed by this one. It wasn’t so much the story line or the style of writing but the actions of the characters themselves. I got way too involved in their lives and was really disappointed in some of the character development. But then maybe that’s the sign of a good novel? I was so involved with the characters I actually got mad when they did stupid things.

Pick this up if you want an easy read and as the title suggests, a happy ending.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – E.Lockhart.
I don’t really know what I was expecting after reading the blurb of this book because it doesn’t reallllly give anything away but I think it kind of live up to my expectations. I wanted to read this book after reading We Were Liars, also by Lockhart. I absolutely loved it and loved Lockhart’s writing style. I will start off by saying this book is no where near as good as We Were Liars. It’s actually described as a ‘feminist novel’ which I don’t think it really lives up too. In fact, Frankie doesn’t seem like a feminist to me. She kind of just got more annoying and stubborn as the book progressed. And the main thing she does is follow the boys around and try to get their approval and get them to let her into their society. That is not a feminist character.
So after I’ve pointed out the negative parts there are actually two reasons why I like this book. One: it was witty. Frankie is a smart character who just really puts her mind towards the wrong things (like trying to prove herself to the males of the society).
Two: it isn’t filled with all the usual themes of a YA novel. There is a little bit of her relationship with Mathew but the main focus really is about Frankie’s obsession with the all male society at her exclusive boarding school.

Once again, an easy read but nothing to jump through hoops to read.

Breathing Under Water – Sophie Hardcastle
Another YA novel here. Breathing Under Water is Hardcastle’s debut novel and is incredibly raw, gut wrenching, and just really emotional overall. It follows the story of twins Gracie and Ben who were born nineteen minutes and eleven seconds apart (Ben being the older twin). Ben is the ‘golden boy’ – rising surf star and the one all the girls want. Because of this, Grace has always kind of blended in the background which is a pretty key plot point.
The blurb gives you are a really obvious clue that some kind of tragedy is going to happen and it is kind of easy to guess it is going to be something to do with Ben since the book is written from Grace’s perspective. I won’t give it away but basically it shows us Grace’s decline after the tragedy and her battle to find herself again. Once again, it was an easy read but the thing I liked most about this novel was the development of Grace’s character (as much as I didn’t like it in parts) and how beautifully emotive Hardcastle’s writing is. I think the themes within the book are relatable for some people, especially those who have found themselves struggling after a big life change.

-M x

What books did you read in March? Let me know in the comments below. 

5 things I’m loving right now.

Earrings from Kingston Jewelry . I first discovered Kingston Jewelry thanks to Leigh Campbell‘s Instagram  (lifestyle editor at Huffington Post Australia). The pair that I bought is featured above and they are just beautiful. I love the bluey-purply colour theme going on. I also wear a lot of black, white and grey so it is a great way for me to inject some colour into my style.
So pretty, so unique and so fun! Just be warned, they sell out in a flash.

This podcast episode from The Merrymaker Sisters. It’s called ‘because… cake (the body image episode)’. Carla & Emma (the mastermind behind The Merrymaker Sisters site) talk about their own issues with body image and really go deep. For someone who suffers with body image and trying to control my eating and exercising  this episode was so relatable. I listened to it and found myself agreeing to everything these girls said. I laughed, I cried and I cried some more. It is a must listen to anyone experiencing body image issues.

Another podcast! This one is a No Filter episode where Mia interviews PR queen Roxy Jacenko. The podcast delves into a lot of topics including Roxy’s no bullshit attitude to life, her husband going to jail, her PR empire, her breast cancer battle, her plastic surgery and her kids. It’s intriguing, its inspiring and it will make you think twice about your opinion of Roxy. I definitely suggest giving it a listen.
Podcast link here.

Hand cream. I was honestly a never a huge user of hand cream when I was a teenager. I think I thought it was something for older people. But damn, I was missing out! I am honestly obsessed with hand cream since I started working. I use it 1-2 times a day and I love how much softer my hands look. I now have a number of hand creams floating around including this Body Shop one in my handbag, this Glasshouse one on my bedside table and this Natio one on my desk at work.

Go-To Skincare Face HeroThis stuff is bloody A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It’s a face oil and according to the website it “deeply hydrates, soothes, revitalizes and completely protects the face against bad guys trying to make it unhappy.” And it honestly does. I generally use it at night time after I shower and cleanse and occasionally put it in my daily moisturiser if my skin looks like it needs an additional perk up. You can buy Face Hero via the Go-To Skincare website.

– M x

What are you loving right now? Share them with me in the comments below.