Posts Tagged ‘Don’t Lose Your Grip’

Work To Change The World

I’ve been career hopping for the last 6years… I remembered the moment when I decided to abandon my dreams and go in a totally opposite direction. I could just never figure out why I actually made the change.

Last Sunday that all changed. I had a penny dropping moment! It was huge and such a relief after years of feeling like a total looser but now that I understand it means I have to get out of this funk of dwelling around in circles and actually chose what I want for my future.

As a little girl I always believed that I could change the world and I really, really wanted to do just that! I found an artistic way to do that and help people understand someone else’s perspective and I was really good at it. But then my dad died and I made a lot of decisions during that period… a lot of them hurt the people around me and I started doubting that I was worthy of changing the world. Who says that my way is better? Who says that I know better? Who says that my vision was the right one… maybe I was more blind than everyone else put together… So I turned my back on the thing I loved and my biggest passion because I was scared that I would screw up the world.

I moved to the opposite side of the world and wanted to do something so implosive that the only ones my actions affected were the ones inside the building and I was just as affected by theirs but the rest of the world had no idea what we did or who we were and that was the way it was meant to be. I loved it… I loved not having the pressure of changing the world on my shoulders. You need to understand that since I was 4 years old, I wanted to make a difference and safe the world and this idea grew over time and eventually mutated into this insane amount of pressure that I was placing on myself… 15 years of dealing with this pressure and finally I got a break from it. Like I said, I loved it… well, for the first 2months that is. I started to feel something was missing but I still really liked the people around me and the fact that I could control this microcosm of a world we worked and pretty much lived in, so I stayed another 4years.

As a Gemini, I adapt and I work really hard to become the best at everything I do – I don’t always make it but most of the time trying is more than enough. I got a little lost in being the best and lost myself in the process. So one day I woke up and I realized that I wanted more than an awesome career; I wanted a life. Once again I moved to the other side of the world and started over. Yet another career that had nothing to do with previous ones…

Two years later, I still feel like a failure at this job (my directors and co-workers would disagree) and I couldn’t understand how I could be this miserable in my working environment and yet be so incredibly happy at night when I close my eyes. On Sunday I realized that even though my job doesn’t affect the world and I do not feel like I am superwoman for doing it, its mediocrity allows me to do something that is actually changing the world. I get to work with the amazing Chrisselle on a little project we call Don’t Lose Your Grip.

For those of you who do not know – DLYG is basically a support network for anyone who suffers from an eating disorder, mental illness or self harms. It is also a place for friends and family members of sufferers to ask for advice and be exposed to the experiences of others that can help them understand it better. We discuss all of these issues openly in the hopes of reminding each other that we are not alone. Ok, so I did not singlehandedly save the planet from a meteor that would have destroyed it or find a cure for global warming but I like to believe that through this project, we have made at least one person’s life a little bit better… and that’s pretty cool.

So yeah, my job sucks sometimes but as long as I get to be part of something as amazing as Don’t Lose Your Grip, then it’s a sacrifice I’ll gladly make.

Reason To Smile

It’s easy to get bogged down by the weight of daily life. Whether it is work that is piling on the pressure or family dinamics complicating your thoughts or simply just one of those days… we all go through it and often forget that we can change our outlook.

We have the power to adjust the way we approuch the world and if we choose to, we can see the glass as half full rather than half empty. But we have to choose to see it that way. Generally I try to approach things with positivity but when you are plagued with depression, it’s not always that easy. I think I try to over compensate for the depression by being incredibly hyper active in my positivity – when I can muster it up. This week I have been able to fight back against my depression with a little more results than usual so I am making the most of my positivity and hoping it will rub off on the people around me.

With that, we, at Don’t Lose Your Grip have decided to challenge all of our followers to kick start the day with a positive thought. There is a reason to smile in every moment, sometimes you just have to look a little harder… So be part of the positive energy and tweet out your #ReasonToSmile every time you log on to twitter.

Sending loads of positive energy your way

Not the end, just a helping hand

I was gearing up for another mental health #TopicsToDiscuss and thought it was fitting to discuss the UK bill that so many are excited about. It reached the 3rd reading in the House Of Lords.

This “order of commitment discharged” brings us one step closer to a world where you don’t have to be afraid to ask for help. Today, a Bill that will remove legislation that has been discriminating against those suffering from mental illness is a little closer to being set in stone.

But are we even able to see the changes around us? Have we become so immune to the positive and comfortable in our misery that we have forgotten to look up and see that little glimmer of hope at the end of our collective dark tunnels? Maybe we have… maybe it’s just me… maybe it’s not too late to change…

Looking back on the last few years I notice the change within myself. Not just growth or that understanding that can only come with time but also my judgement towards myself. I was so afraid at first. That very first passing diagnosis that I brushed under the carpet followed by the secrets I tried to keep from myself and the person I created to manipulate those around me into thinking that I am fine. All of the times I couldn’t open up or even own up to the demons I were fighting internally. The times I hated myself for being so weak that I couldn’t accomplish the simplest of tasks. I remember the anger and the disappointment that I directed at myself and looking back at it now, I realize that I must have projected all of this onto everyone else out there suffering from a mental illness too.

But through my diagnosis and a million discussions with patient individuals, I have learned. I have come to understand that beneath it all I am still here. The fear of what others might think of me means nothing now that I know how proud I am of myself, of how far I’ve come. I now know that a diagnosis is not the end, but rather a helping hand. I wish I didn’t keep it hidden for so long and I wish that I could have been just that little bit braver and opened up a little sooner but I still got there in the end, so it’s all good. I believe that I needed to keep my friends at bay under the pretence that they will ‘not understand’ or judge me simply because I couldn’t deal with the fact that I was judging myself so harshly. They were always there for me, no matter how much I pushed them away… And by never giving up on me, they continuously reminded me that I am worth fighting for. On the days when getting out of bed was so much harder than anything else I have ever done, during those moments every kind word someone has ever uttered in my direction and every hug I couldn’t wait to get out of, gave me courage and the strength to not give up. I am glad that I have lived through all of the things life has thrown my way because I am a more understanding person for it…

I can feel the power that comes from your first wake-up-breath and I can see the beauty in a strangers smile. I can appreciate the little things that so many people take for granted because to me, they are huge feats. I can open up about all of the chaos hidden in the corners of my mind because I know for a fact that it gets better! No matter how frustrating or draining or numb this day has been, the promise of a reason to smile for tomorrow over rules the damage that was done to me today.

Sometimes all we have to do is look up and take a little step back so that we can see the amazing rainbow popping out from that dark cloud hanging over our heads…

Love Never Fails

I’ve been suffering from depression since the age of 7. But I didn’t realize this because well, I was 7 and back then people didn’t talk about it.

I barely understood emotions, let alone the fact that they affect each of us differently. I had a good home: both of my parents loved me; I had a dog; I got A’s in school and I had friends and played sport… but I couldn’t understand why I was so sad all of the time.

I tried to distract myself… by playing with my dog; always doing my homework and dragging my friends outside to play sports. It worked, sort of… I had enough reasons to pretend to be happy. I had enough excuses to hide my pain and fear behind smiles. But then I got a little older and at 14 I realized that all of my friends were in that constant giggling phase and how much it annoyed me. At first I thought it was just because it’s sort of annoying but then I realized it’s because I couldn’t. I couldn’t giggle or laugh out loud. I actually became one of those people who would substitute a laugh by saying “Ha, that’s funny”. I couldn’t remember what my laugh sounded like and to make it worse, all of the things that I was able to use as distractions were no longer working. Instead of giving me a momentary relief, they were just reminding me of the fact that I needed a relief from being me!  And so, I had to find new things to help me find or rather fake ‘happy’.

I changed sports; took up drama and debating and I was even a cheerleader for 3 days before I came to my senses – I have no rhythm and I am not flexible! I changed subjects and my career path and I secretly hoped that it would get better. It didn’t really. I mean, I had a lot of fun and made really amazing friends and experienced things that I will remember forever but when I was alone, I was still me and I was still sad and it still hurt.

But I was finally old enough to understand psychology and with the help of some older therapists I got to take a closer look into my life and figured out a few things that I could make peace with and let go and a few months after my 15th birthday I had an amazing revelation of forgiveness that helped me breathe a little easier. And for a while I was only sad sometimes. It was around this time that one of the therapists who’ve known me for quite a while mentioned to me that she noticed that was suffering from manic depression and that she wanted to help me. The thing was, I didn’t want to be suffering from manic depression and I was scared of what helping me would entail. So I brushed her off and said that she was overreacting and that I was fine.

That’s when I realized that my hiding techniques needed to be updated. I filled my schedule to the extent where I would pretend to have watched TV shows that my friends are talking about when in fact all I did was spend 15min reading TV guide between all of the other activities… Thinking about it now, it seems really crazy but to me, it was the only way I could ensure that I had no time to think by myself or about myself. The distraction was great, ok not really. It stressed me out a lot! I was so busy all of the time and never slept more than 3hours a night and as productive as that part of my life was, just thinking about it exhausts me. And when High School came to an end, that’s when my little plot went up in smoke…

I was really stressed and lost and couldn’t figure out how to ‘be normal’ or at least calm.  I spent a summer getting back to family and nature and that was pretty cool. I found a couple of reasons to smile and it made the bad times seem not so bad. And then my grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 Cancer, my dad died, my life changed and I moved to London. I started a new life and hoped that I could run away from my depression. That didn’t work… As much fun as my new environment was, depression was creeping back in and this time its hold was a lot stronger than ever before. When I finished studying I started to see my life flash before my eyes and I was that confident that I was where I needed to be anymore. So, there I was: lying on the bathroom floor hoping that something would happen and magically it would all make sense again; that everything that I had been through would not have been for nothing; that I was strong enough to go back and face my life. Sadly that was not even close to what my mind wanted. I would spend days not sleeping and then crash by sleeping for 30hours straight. My eating habits were, well erratic to say the least and getting out of bed was a massive effort let alone getting out of the house. I did have a few friends who never gave up on me and kept dragging me out. I’m really thankful to them, because without it I would not have been able to make it through those years. But just like before, none of those mini distractions were able to ‘fix’ my depression and the thoughts that were stuck playing on a loop in my mind…

So once again, I changed my surroundings and moved to the other side of the world. I thought that maybe simpler would be better and that if I could just go back to the basics, everything else would make sense again. That’s not exactly what happened. Instead I just had way more time to myself and the loop of negative thoughts in my head just became louder. It was also during this time that one of my friends committed suicide. This rattled me a lot! More than most of the people in my life realized. See, to me, she had so much more to live for than I believed I did. And I was so close to the edge myself. Push the thoughts of ending all of it out of my head was getting harder. If Lacey couldn’t cope, what chance would I have of living a happy life? Or even just surviving?

But once again my friends came to the rescue. One simply talked to me about his problems and allowed me to realize that I was not completely alone in my misery, plus it gave me the opportunity to put my painful experiences to good use by giving him a little bit of advice. Then there was Chrisselle, after everything that she has lived through, she managed to turn it into something productive. All of her pain and anger channelled into making a difference. This life saving difference goes by the name of Don’t Lose Your Grip.  It saved my life. Chrisselle saved my life.

Not only did I have a way of coping with the loss of a friend and a reason to give a positive meaning to this pain but I also had something to do when being stuck in my head got too much. And one day as I was talking to all of these people on the DLYG twitter page, people who were also going through the things I was feeling, I realized that this was a great opportunity to talk about our fears and fight stigmas publicly. One thing lead to another and that’s how #TopicsToDiscuss was born. It’s an open platform that allows all of us and the DLYG followers to share their views and opinions on everything from Mental Health issues on Monday to Eating Disorders on Tuesdays and Self Injury on Wednesdays.

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about these things openly and honestly but the way I see it, if we don’t, who will? We have the opportunity to educate those who have experienced our thoughts by sharing the thoughts we have kept secret for far too long. Occasionally we ask questions we do not even have the answers to and every once in a while someone new will join the conversation and we’ll be able to change their negative perception of mental health or eating disorders or help them see beyond the scares of selfharm. That, to me, is a victory.

Every conversation we have brings us one step closer to an accepting world. One without judgement.  One where love never fails…

Be Kind To You

Last week I launched an impromptu challenge to all of our twitter followers. The concept seemed simple enough: write something positive about yourself down on a piece of paper and then stick it to your mirror…

Nothing complicated about that right? Well, not really. Have ever really thought about it: thought about the things that you think about? Thought about the way you see yourself? Thought about all of the times that you judge yourself? Well when it comes right down to it, there are way more negative thoughts floating around inside our heads than positive ones. This needs to stop! We need to get rid of these negative leeches but by doing taking this challenge with our followers, I discovered something. A big flaw in my strategy… You can’t just push the negative thoughts aside or magically find positive ones, it takes work and time.

So, we’ve adjusted the challenge. Basic psychology reminds us that you can’t change a habit (which is what thinking these negative thoughts is- a habit) You have to replace it with something else. So the revised challenge is to start by admitting that you are thinking negative thoughts and then re think the thought while looking for a positive silver lining…

Yes, ok… it might seem idealistic but why? Why can’t we take back control of our thoughts? Why can’t we fight to be positive? I don’t see any reason why we have to allow ourselves to stay trapped in this sucky circle of destruction. Yes, I know that sometimes we have mental health issues or even physical issues that can contribute to our negativity but that doesn’t mean we get to stop trying… it is still your life, no matter what!

So here’s the logistics

Step 1: Write down the negative thoughts that have gotten stuck in your head, on a piece of paper and stick it to your mirror. This might seem counter productive at first: why would you want to be reminded of the negative thoughts? Well, you don’t want to be reminded of it but you still have to admit to it to yourself before you can start working on changing it.

Step 2: This is crucial!! You need to take a second and re-think that negative thought and finding a silver lining to that dark cloud. Once you have thought of a less negative way of seeing that particular feature, write it on a piece of paper and stick it OVER that negative thought.

Yes, that is the challenge… Get rid of the negative thoughts in your head by putting them on paper and then replace that negative thought with a positive one: first on paper and then in your head and your heart.

This isn’t always going to be easy. This isn’t something you can do for a day and suddenly be fixed. This is just one more step we can actively take to get our lives back get control back.

Are you up for the challenge? 

Be the change

It’s been a while since I’ve dedicated a post to Don’t Lose Your Grip (the charity my friend Chrisselle started) so I thought I’d give you guys an update.

Firstly, our website is currently experiencing some domain issues and therefor most people can’t access it but we’re working on it and will let you know when http://dontloseyourgrip/chrisselle.com is back in action.

But more importantly, we’re all doing really well and happy with the direction that Don’t Lose Your Grip is taking. But before I talk about the future dreams we have for DLYG, let me fill those of you in who haven’t heard of Don’t Lose Your Grip yet.

Basically a year and a half ago one of our close friends Lacey Crawford took her own life. Now I can sit here and list all of the reasons that lead to that moment that she felt so hopeless that she committed suicide but that’s not going to bring her back. So instead my dear friend Chrisselle Mowatt started this organization where we are trying to change the stigmas that promotes judgment. Every Monday at 8pm UK time we are using Twitter as a medium to discuss everything about self injury (aka cutting aka selfharm). On Tuesdays at 8pm we shift the topic to Eating Disorders including EDNOS and every Wednesday at 8pm it’s Mental Illness. Because eating disorders can be considered as a form of self injury and has mental health implications; because self injury is considered by some as a symptom of mental illness and because mental illness can include insomnia or depression which generally leads to a loss in apetite… well you get the point, it’s all very closely linked and some have even grouped it under mental wellbeing or mental health and for this reason we also have a combined #TopicsToDiscuss on twitter every Sunday starting at 12:00.

We ask the questions everyone else tip toes around; our amazing followers share their own real experiences and fears and the hope they have built up during their recovery. Basically we’re an over tweeting gigantic support group. And everyone is welcome as long as they agree not to judge… Trust me, we’re really good at standing together so play nice.

It can get pretty serious sometimes and that’s one of the reasons we also open up our direct message door to all of our followers. Sometimes it’s too hard to talk to the whole world and you just need 1 person to listen. There are so many people out there scared to get help; being turned away because they don’t fit the perfect criteria yet… no one sees that asking for help is not the first thought on our minds, it’s generally somewhere in the middle, somewhere after we have tried to convince ourselves that it’s not happening to us; that we spend years trying to deny the fact that we are in trouble before we build up the courage to ask for help… To be turned down at that point can be devastating! But life has evolved and we have this amazing new tool called ‘social networking’ and it’s about time we step up and use it for more than gossip or discussion about Justin Bieber’s hair…

You can’t be serious all the time though, I mean the world is depressing enough we need to find a way to focus on the positive. That is one of the reasons we do an #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competition every Sunday – Thursday where our followers nominate the songs that inspire them during the dark moments and the 5 finalists that they voted for goes onto a poll on our FaceBook page. Plus, music can help us express what we are feeling before we even know what exactly it is we are feeling. Music can bring a variety of people together like no other medium. Whatever you are going through: someone else has also been there and they probably wrote a song about it.

Seeing so many people connect to a song is the best way for us to prove that everyone out there suffering in silence are not alone. You are not alone! We have been there and it does get better…

We hope that we can use music one day to help raise money for charities dedicated to helping EVERYONE. We hope that one day we won’t need to schedule a conversation to allow people to discuss these very important issues with those around them. We hope that those who have received help will pass it on and support others who also need it. Basically, we still have faith in humanity and are tired of waiting for the world to change. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

If you have ever suffered from an Eating Disorder or even so much as considered self harm or if a simple thing like getting out of bed in the morning feels like the hardest thing in the entire world to accomplish then you are very welcome to join our #DLYGfamily. If you’ve never personally experienced it but you’ve seen the signs in those you love, join our cause and show everyone suffering that you care and that you are aware. If all of this just seems too foreign or out of your comfort zone, then please join us and allow us to help you understand that these things do not define us, they are just a little part of us.

Today I’m not okay

Remember that day, when you asked me if I was ok

I said I was fine and honestly I felt perfectly alive

But I said that the day would arrive

When I wasn’t alright and then I’d come to you

Well that’s today… Today I’m not ok

 

I just don’t know if I know what to say

In all fairness I should be fine today

Nothing really logical about all of this

Yet I can’t keep the tears inside

My emotions: a rollercoaster I’m too tired to ride

But it finds me anyway, nowhere left to hide

 

Remember that day, when you asked me if I was ok

I said I was fine and honestly I felt perfectly alive

But I said that the day would arrive

When I wasn’t alright and then I’d come to you

Well that’s today… Today I’m not ok

 

Don’t know how to get this conversation underway

It’s been so long since you asked me if I was ok

I’d like to pretend I don’t really mean this

Maybe if I ignore my feelings they’d recede

Suppress and depress seem to be on the same speed

Scribble thoughts, crush them and throw away the seed

 

Remember that day, when you asked me if I was ok

I said I was fine and honestly I felt perfectly alive

But I said that the day would arrive

When I wasn’t alright and then I’d come to you

Well that’s today… Today I’m not ok

 

I’d like to sit here and pretend everything’s just gay

Somehow my imagination won’t let me stay

Have to face my demons; to deal with this

Can’t do this on my own this time

Been holding my head above water as I mime

‘I need help’ but can’t seem to ask out of rhyme

 

Remember that day, when you asked me if I was ok

I said I was fine and honestly I felt perfectly alive

But I said that the day would arrive

When I wasn’t alright and then I’d come to you

Well that’s today… Today I’m not ok

 

The veil of sanity I created can’t veto the doom ray

Ready to lighten the load right where I lay

Must start somewhere and the score is this

Incapable of letting it slide any longer

Have to fight my battles and hope I’ll get stronger

Please take my hand and show me how to conquer

 

I need you today because today I’m not ok…

I belong

Ever had one of those days where you wake up and just feel so uncomfortable in your own skin? Well I’ve had a lot of those days in my 23 years but lately I haven’t even had those thoughts during the times I was sad or gloomy.

I truly belong here. I am exactly where I need to be and where I want to be and I am happy. That may sound like a cliché of a half baked thought but when was the last time you could actually say that? When was the last time, you felt so comfortable and confident in your beliefs that the rest of the world just seemed to make sense? You know that one moment when everything bad that has ever happened to you, fades in comparison to your current happiness…

But as I sit here in my happy little bubble, I can’t help but see the people around me who are still struggling to realize they are amazing and they are worthy of everything good! Even my little baby cousin has to grow up in this world that is designed to tear us apart and make us doubt who we are. I’m not going to pretend that I believe this happiness is going to last forever or that I will never feel down but see: I have hope. I hope that it will last. I hope that if it doesn’t I’ll still remember this feeling and know that I got here once and I can do it again… So you, wherever in this messed up world of ours you find yourself right now: you deserve to be happy! You are worthy of this amazing feeling that I want to share with you.

Believe me when I say that every pain we go through and every overwhelming moment that seems like it’ll destroy us leads to happiness, you just have to look up once in a while and focus on the beauty rather than all of the darkness. “You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in” ~ Arlo Guthrie. It really is quite profound: if you don’t have those terrible and depressing moments, you won’t be able to appreciate the happy moments when they come along.

The greatest thing about living is that we get to experience such a vast variety of emotions and thoughts and random moments, no matter how challenging the day gets it is precisely those moments that make us human and show us our true strength. So I want to extend a huge virtual hug to every single one of you! It does get better! Life is worth living! And happiness is worth fighting for!

AM

 By now most of you know I’m involved with Chrisselle’s project Don’t Lose Your Grip and I strongly urge all of you to get involved to.

Unworthy confessions of a bully

So earlier today [much earlier] Chrisselle posted something about being bullied most of her life and it made me realize that now is the right time to share something I’ve been meaning to for a while.

Firstly let’s just define bullying as doing anything that breaks someone down and makes them feel less than worthy. Now, by this definition, we have all been guilty of bullying at one stage or another, what’s worse is that most of the time we don’t even realize it… we’ve become so focused on self preservation that we’ve completely forgotten how to be compassionate and care about those around us.

I’m sure people have said mean and hurtful things to me, but somehow I really don’t remember most of them. There is one I remember and well, I haven’t really spoken to my once favourite cousin since then. As for the rest, my mind has wiped it out, as a defence mechanism, about 5 seconds after they said it. Maybe it was that fact that I’ve always had a solid family support and surrounded myself with amazing friends, so it really does take a lot to hurt me. My friends always say that if someone wanted to insult me they’d have to put it on a huge neon board with spinning wheels and flashing arrows pointing at it or else I just won’t notice it.

Partially this is because I tend to believe the best in people, so when you say something that could potentially offend me, I tend to explore every option just to dig the compliment or well meaning thought out of your insult. And I’ve pretty much been comfortable with who I am since I was 6 years old. Obviously I went through a bit of confusion when I was 14 but that didn’t last long and again right after my dad died when I was 19 and wondering if my choices really were my own or simply just what was expected of me. As it turns out I’ve always lived by the same 4 rules I made on the play ground when I was 6 and the people who didn’t like it either removed themselves from my life or got removed by…uhm… unforeseen… fists.

The point of this post is not to brag about how perfect my life is but rather to confess. I’m pretty sure I was a bully at school. It’s not like I intentionally set out to hurt people or anything like that but being comfortable in your own skin has a way of making the people around you feel less than worthy simply because they haven’t found that confidence yet. And I remember being 12 years old and knowing exactly where I wanted my life to go and very above the pathetic “look he’s wearing billabong” crap. There’s this one moment I won something [ honestly cannot even remember what, was probably a math-olympics or long distance something] and I was surrounded by all these kids asking me questions and being all excited and I remember looking up and way over there on the slopes my 4 closest friends were sitting… Just sitting there patiently waiting for me to work my way through the crowd and at that exact moment I remember wishing I could just duck under this group of kids and just be with my friends, the ones who’ve always liked me not just when I win stuff.

My friends were awesome but we were all very different and had our strengths, I like doing a lot of things so more often than not, I would end up beating one of my friends, even if it was just 1 mark on a science quiz. I remember feeling incredible guilt over this during grade school and high school, which is why I started tutoring and it helped me feel like I was sharing my knowledge so I didn’t have to feel guilty for knowing stuff. This is not really where I intended this post to go but this is my defence mechanism kicking in; I don’t know how to say what I want to say without potentially losing any amount of respect you may have for me, so I attempt to bore you into not noticing my confession.

So here it is: whenever there was a fight [physical or verbal] on the play ground [even during high school] someone would come to call me and obviously I’d run towards the fight. In the beginning I’d break it up or simply just through myself in between the punches [being a girl and all, it had a tendency to stop the fight immediately] then I’d talk to them and all the rest. But in later years I didn’t even have to say or do anything, if they saw me coming they would disburse or even just the treat of me coming would end the fight. I don’t know how that happened. I don’t understand why they were so terrified of me. I can list the 3 physical fights I’ve been in, in my life and how that may have changed people’s perception of me or how I never backed down from a challenge or how I have the pain threshold of an African Elephant but ultimately I don’t think any of these things would explain why people feared me or had photos of me in their closets that they were throwing darts at.

My oldest friend came up to me once when we were about 11 and said: “I’m not your punching bag” And to this day, those words still haunt me and I still feel that sharp pain meets utter disbelief. To me it was a game and I didn’t think twice about it but to her, I was crushing her. I still admire the guts she had to say that to me. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not like she had to be afraid of me beating her up or something, but at that age you have a very set circle of friends and if you fight with one it disrupts the entire thing and you could end up spending your breaks alone. I hadn’t realized that I was hurting her and simply by having the guts to tell me that I was making her feel less than worthy, I stopped. As in: immediately, that very second! My friend was way more important to me than any game and we changed our friendship circle too. Which I was really happy about because they were running it like it was a monarchy and everyone had to bend to their rule, which did not sit well with me, so we started our group with the out casts.

It was a lot of fun! We always had the new person in school join our group so we were very different and awesome at the same time. I did run into trouble with one of the other groups’ leaders who all of a sudden decided she wants a bigger group and would like the new kids to join her. I found it pretty funny, like I would actually fight someone for the opportunity to be someone else’s friend~ people are not possessions, if you want to be my friend you’re welcome but I’m not going to treat it as a trophy that can be owned. The silly things we do as kids have a tendency to alter our lives far more than those test scores we spent hours preparing for. We really should spend a little more time teaching our children how to be decent human beings and a little less time pressuring them into being our version of perfect.

My parents loved me and I never doubted that for a second. My friends and I fought at times but when push came to shove, I knew they would be there for me, like I will always be there for them. Somewhere along the line, I hurt a lot of people simply by being me and as much as I would like to apologize for hurting them, I cannot apologize for being me. So all of you, who shared those years in primary school with me and hated me in high school, I’m sorry for making you feel anything less than worthy. I honestly never intended to harm any of you but I’m sure that you are stronger than the kids we were back then and I’d like you to know that you have shaped the person I am today. Because of you and the times I made you cry or burst out in frustrated anger, I am more empathetic and aware today. I’m still sorry that it took me this long to say sorry to all of you… I managed to apologize to a few of you before the end of 2005 but to the rest of you: anything I said that hurt you is not worthy of being remembered.

My deepest apologies,

AM

PS: if you’re being bullied or feeling less than worthy, talk to someone like DLYG or TWLOHA

A friend of ours died before we had a chance to meet her

A friend of ours died before we had a chance to meet her… You’re probably re-reading that sentence to try to make sense of it and to be honest it’s been 4 months and we’re still having trouble making sense of it too.

Let me explain: her name is Lacey Crawford. I met her on Twitter through some of my amazing friends there including Chrisselle and Hammy. Twitter is an amazing place because everyone is equal! There is no age barrier or cultural divides, the only thing that defines you is your manners and your opinions. So we all started talking because we had one simple thing in common, generally that would be the same free time. If you’re wondering how I can call people my friends even though I have never shook their hand, then you really don’t understand the concept of twitter.

Yes, it is a social media site but it is so much more than that. It is a place where you can practically run your own news network and talk to people experiencing history in the making as it happens! It is a place where there is always someone awake and willing to talk or listen. Most of us first turned to twitter purely out of curiosity or maybe a bit of boredom but we all stayed because while we were exploring the world at our fingertips, we discovered that someone on the other side of the world understood us; faced the same problems we did and believed in the same things we believe in.

I didn’t know Lacey as well as I would have liked to… I don’t think anyone really got the chance to see everything she had to offer this world. Sadly she felt so desperate for a change that she could not figure out how to make, that she chose suicide.

There is no way I can even pretend to try and explain what she was thinking or defend her reasons for feeling that taking her own life was her only option. All I can do is remember the conversations we shared and the short time it took for us to connect. I’m also supporting her friends who are recording songs to honour her memory. The other thing I have found great comfort in is the Don’t Lose Your Grip project that Chrisselle has initiated to help prevent others from having to suffer the same type of loss we are trying to deal with.

Basically this project is not just designed to raise money for suicide help lines; it’s also there to help us fight the causes behind it. People don’t just commit suicide… it is not that simple. Generally it is a series of events that lead to that one moment when they just feel so numb they can’t help but give up. Chrisselle has always been one of those people who’ll reach out to anyone having an off day. She is still doing this but now she’s trying to do it on a bigger scale too. She’s organizing a charity concert that will help raise awareness and much needed funding for suicide help lines so that they can help more people. Another aim with this project is to change the stigma around suicide. It is not something we should ignore or sweep under the carpet; it is a real problem that won’t just go away. We need to talk about it and we need to start reaching out to the people in our lives again!

One of the main causes resulting in suicide is low self-esteem. We have trouble believing in ourselves and quite frankly I’m not surprised. Just look around you or turn on the TV and most of the time you’ll see this image of ‘normal’ being portrayed and this image the world is describing is not something we can actually live up to. Normal is not a word anyone has ever used to describe me and personally I take it as a compliment. I can honestly say that I have never felt the need to be on a diet, although when I was diagnosed with this liver thing, I did go on a total health kick and refused to drink anything with bubbles in it but that was more pain-oriented than actual food-oriented. Yet, my oldest friend was on a diet when she was only 12 years old and so was one of my little cousins who are only turning 13 this year. We live in a world where kids are being made fun of for the things they wear and the shape of their bodies to the extent that eating disorders are becoming ‘normal’. Calling kids names and making them feel like they are worthless has become part of everyday life! And we call this evolution? Think again!

We can have all the right intentions but until we actually stand up and say: “Love your body the way it is! Love yourself for who you are! And you are perfect in your own right!” we won’t have a shot at living peacefully. There is so much hatred in this world of ours and all we are doing is spreading it! You need to open your eyes and realize that you are killing our kids; you are killing yourself and all the people you love with these judgements. Sadly Lacey was just one out of millions of people who felt they were out of options; who felt that the world would never accept them and that they could never fit in. So I am begging you: for all the people you may know who have ever had even a single thought resembling this helplessness and all the people who’ll need someone to tell them they are not worthless in the future, please support Don’t Lose Your Grip.

There are many symptoms of depression and alienation: it could be cutting yourself off from the world or literally cutting yourself and resorting to self harm in order to feel something ‘real’; something to make you forget that there are mean, hateful people out there. Well I don’t want you to forget. I want to help you change those people’s minds. I want to help you realize your full potential and for me the best way to do that is to talk so [in the words of the amazing Alecia Beth Moore] if you ever feel less than fuckin’ perfect, just call me. It’s really easy to reach me on twitter so just come and hang out and talk to us, we’d love to get to know you! The best thing about social media is that we get to see the real you and we are most definitely not blinded by the silly things the rest of the world is looking at.

If you have ever had a moment when it felt like life has gotten you down, then please get involved with Don’t Lose Your Grip! And don’t even try to pretend that you’ve never felt overwhelmed: we’re all in this fight together.

AM

Also if you need help dealing with Self Harm please visit TWLOHA