I AM SO A GRADUATE WITH A BACHELOR OF ARTS WITH HONOURS (in the arts and humanities)
I haven’t had my graduation ceremony yet and with all that has happened this year, I totally forgot that I have finally finished my degree. My other half was going ballistic (in a good way) and looked at me and asked me why I looked so down. I guess either I am still in shock or I don’t think it is that big a deal compared to what other goals and shit I have had to focus on this year. So let me high 5 myself and reflect on how the path to get my degree became – the successful one.
Way back in 2007,I had just come out of the hospital with a BMI of 16. I enrolled at my local college in the U.K. to do my BA in acting performance.
I was with a lovely group of talented individuals and managed one term. I was quickly losing more weight again and my mental health went down. I could not maintain a low BMI. I either had to go lower or higher and I went lower. I managed to get merit (when they still called it that) for my classical acting. How amazing is that?
I wanted to engage with my group but I couldn’t shift the anorexia. I had become a sub-host to it.
Back in 2008, I decided to have another go at it. I had gained a normal amount of weight. I met a seemingly lovely man who swept me off my feet. He worked in the army and ended up going on tour for 3 months in Canada. I went to live in Barcelona with my Aunt for a few months and partied hard. Hit Ibiza with my cuz and when I came back to the U.K I was ready to piece my life back together.
The night I arrived back in the U.K. was the same night the army guy got back and he came straight to see me, bringing me little gifts back from his tour. I was so touched and couldn’t believe we had another chance to get to know this one another again and give him my heart. I invited him for a meal at my Nan’s house the following evening as he was rather ‘fatigued'(such an elegant way of putting it) from his flight.
The following day he texted me to tell me he was getting his car serviced and would see me later. Later turned into 6pm And 8pm and then 9pm. The curry was losing it’s cool. I rang him asking him why he hadn’t pitched up and he completely dissed me on the phone and told me he was with his family and I can’t make him choose his family over me! WTAF?
If he had explained that he wanted to be with his family then I would of got it.-The lovely army guy broke my heart. He didn’t want to be with me. I internalised all this as my fault. I had put on weight, I had been homeless and had recently found somewhere in the U.K. to live and I thought I wasn’t good enough. I remember walking my Nan from my new home to the bus stop and I broke down. I didn’t know how much I liked this guy until I felt my heart tearing. Each sob caused another tear and another.
In 2009 I was finally in a better place and I was ready for another attempt to get a degree in the arts arena. I started a two Foundation Degree with 24 students. By week two that had whittled down to 7 students. Again a totally different bunch of lovely people. I fucked up. I stopped taking my meds. I was trying so hard to fit in but I guess I felt a bit intimidated by all the talented actors and talent. I didn’t know then that they were all just as frightened of failing as me. At first I was coping and I managed to go out get wasted and silly and form friendships. Standard uni stuff. One night a girl on my course rang me and told me to come out. She said the night was on her. I got dressed and put on my party face even though at that time I was taking 100 laxatives a day.
When people asked me out I would say ‘Awesome. I will be there’ I had a bad habit and once I had taken those tablets I was ill. I mean of course, I had the shits. Haha. Never thought I would be typing this but the moment before I purged I had stomach cramps that pushed and pulled and stabbed at me from the inside. I couldn’t walk from the spasms. SO that night I gave a big fuck you to Anorexia and went out to have some fun and bond with some friends.
My taxi pulled up at ‘the only reputable club’ in that locality and I saw my college friend wave at me and she was laughing and she gave me £50 and told me to come with her. It was a bit. Well, I was sober and everyone else was hammered. I didn’t find it funny. I wasn’t in the zone yet. I went to the bathroom and then I went to look for the pack and I couldn’t find them anywhere.
My mobile battery died and I turned around to the first person I saw to ask that person if I could use their mobile. I happened to bump into the person who went on to degrade and disrespect me in the most colourful and inventive ways. I couldn’t find anyone so we went back to mine and drank until………… I passed out mid-sentence.
This guy wouldn’t leave me alone. He was lovely at first but really full-on. I tried to back away. My friends told me he looked creepy. Leave him alone.
A guy from uni came up to me and told me that creepy ex was well and truly creepy and to stay away. Did I listen? no, I let my insecurities get the better of me. I melted into his world. At first it was flattering that someone would want to be around me so much. I didn’t think I was going to get in a relationship with him. I was trying to make friends and I had my eyes on someone else.
Out of respect to my daughter, I won’t go into a diatribe of events. He tried to take my soul. When he couldn’t have all of me he came up with a cunning plan to try and take my life away from me. Our daughter. During this time I could feel Anorexia clawing it’s way back inside. Cold, damp and merciless. I couldn’t allow it home again. I reached out to a couple I know and went on to meet my future husband to be. Before you judge- I have had my karma. I nearly lost my daughter as you may know from previous posts. I had time on my hands. Instead of being a full-time Mom to my daughter, I was a 10 hour per week Mom instead.
I decided while I battled it out in the court arena with social services and my creepy ex I would resume my studies. This time not in a mainstream uni but an online one. I worked my toosh off and today I can say I am a graduate. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner and my family.
DON’T JUDGE -if you can help it. That is a huge lesson I’ve learned. This piece of paper means so much more than the letters printed on it. It is a symbol – a tangible piece that reminds me of how I got to this place where I am today. I’m a bride to be with a gorgeous daughter who will be four in October. I’m working with mental health charities and I am a stable weight- super healthy. I don’t smoke. I drink mostly water ( with the odd cocktail of course) , I exersise. I am a success. I am proud of me. No one can take that from me. I won’t let them. Always be ready to learn a bit more. I may have officially finished learning but I will not let that stop me from learning in other ways. I treat every experience in my life as a learning curve. Always look for the silver lining no matter how bleak.
Short reflection (First day down) onWRAP( wellness recovery action plan) facilitator training.
A stream of consciousness.
Heart beating, struggling to breathe, it’s my turn next to have a go honing in on my public speaking skills and being a co-facilitator, speaking about one core value and ethic of what the WRAP self-management program means to me and why.
Make a few bullet point notes.
Listen to what others are saying. Listen…….
Don’t pre-empt what I am going to say while listening to others.
Try and understand where that person who is currently in the hot seat, is coming from.
We are all nervous – we all have feelings.
Oooh, look! A squishy, colourful ball to play with,it lights up. I hope there is no one who is sensitive to flashing light in this room. Just Fucking do it.
Remember, my reason for doing what I am doing.
This is not about what others think but about how I develop as a person and what it means to me, in my life – there is a bigger picture.
Look people in the eyes when I speak.
Acknowledge my nerves if need be.
stick to the topic.
Believe in my own worth.
THE PRACTICAL EXERCISE:
Choose one out of the 15, WRAP ETHICS AND VALUES that form the basis and success of the WRAP self-management program, get into pairs to practice co-facilitating (with someone I have never met before). Here is what I chose and what I had to say.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED – YOU SHOULD BE 😀
CHECK OUT THE CORE VALUES AND ETHICS CHECKLIST THAT MAKE WRAP WHAT IT IS
HERE ( there are 15)
Here’s another link if you enjoyed what you read 😀
MY CHOICE :
Difficult feelings and behaviors are seen as normal responses to traumatic circumstances viewed in the context of what is happening, not as symptoms or a diagnosis.
What I said: Three minutes starts now: tick tock
MAKES MY OWN TICKER BEAT FASTER
“Long story short, I grew up in what is commonly referred to in society as a dysfunctional family and upbringing. Grew up around mental illness, addictions/people who used bad coping mechanisms.
I, family members of mine were Stigmatized because of that.
The global / U.K. NHS model for dealing with Mental health is not working.
Change is needed.
Labels and diagnoses should be a guideline -not something that you are stuck with for life.
We all have feelings –
not all most feelings are irrational/impulsive.
Society is uncomfortable in dealing with other people’s feelings.
Feelings can’t be reduced to mere symptoms of illness
We all have Mental health. We all have a mind and a body.
We are all subject to episodes of good and bad MH on a sliding scale spectrum.
People with Feelings should be encouraged to share them.
We are all unique.
We share many similar qualities and are complex beings.
Our narratives – our personal story.
how we came to be who we are today and who we will become should be determined by being able to express our feelings and thoughts without being labelled in jargony terms ( if we want it that way).
We are human. Let’s stop hiding it and act like it.
There is no shame in being human and feeling happy/sad/ insert emotion.
I believe, there is this cultural mentality that people with Mental Health “issues” ( every human being on this planet btw) who have come out or indeed still continue to suffer in silence are deemed incapable of taking true, positive personal responsibility for our own health in an empowering manner.
I think We are afraid because we have been told we don’t have the mental capacity to manage ourselves in the current medical, prescribed model set- up that we rely on still to this day.
This links into another crucial value and ethic of WRAP which is what my co-facilitator will touch upon now”
CO -FACILITATOR’S CHOICE AND TURN IN THE HOT SEAT.
Self-determination, personal responsibility, empowerment, and self-advocacy are key aspects of this program.
How I sum up what my three-minute co-facilitator said, in my own mind, is:
Understanding and wanting to understand how to manage your own issues in new ways – safe ways, different ways requires determination. One-step and that is already a person taking responsibility for their path – their mind /their body.
The result – I have found, is usually empowering.
I can do this.
I have just done it.
WOW! Fucking shit man…..
Carry on working on ourselves and focusing on what makes us well, unwell, etc…. is a great prescription. Self-advocacy is a prescription a person gives themselves.
Because I know myself better than anyone. I don’t care who believes it or not.
You know yourself better than any doctor, family member or friend. You live in your head and body.
I am the expert on me and I can be pretty fucking resourceful if I am pointed in the right direction.
My Bella Bee is back at school. Missed her first day at BIG school. 😦
My GHD’s said a big F U to me this morning ……
I did it.
I can’t even focus on the words on my MA in Creative writing on the Open University website that is finally open and we have full access to use.
What do I want to write about?
Social issues/ issues that affect us as humans.
I do know that my first Tutor marked assignments (TMA) is going to be an 18-minute play about a homeless person and how society and the community can succeed in aiding a vulnerable person to help him/herself.
Be kind to yourself.
Be kind and rewind. Remember that one?
Catch up soon!
Loads of shout outs as promised at the end of the week.
Can’t wait to explore all the new blogs and Bloggers in the Willows and beyond.
Daisy ❤ ❤
“Who says nothing is impossible? I’ve been doing nothing for years.” -UNKNOWN
Ha! I love this quote. I very rarely let myself truly chill out and veg. This weekend was the first weekend and time in over a year that I have given my mind and body a true chance to chill and enjoy being in the moment.
Why do we think that what we do is– nothing? not enough?
I look back over the years and, at this moment in time, no, I don’t have a 9-5 job.
However, I have been working harder than I would, ( I am talking about me here), say if I had been working in a 9-5 job.
I’ve only just realised how important it is to take some time away from my work and what I do.
I love being active and in the last couple weeks-everything, I love to do stopped being fun any more.
I was even getting stressed out about some of the things I do to wind down, an example is Blogging. It was having the opposite effect. I was getting way too grumpy.
I even thought of taking a break from it.
I have just realised that all I needed was a couple of days to
not get too worried about being up to date with my posts
not work out to my most difficult dance work out session
not only seeming to eat bloody fruit until the wedding.
not having to be the most awesome .. insert title here……
not worry an have that inner belief that I can give my all in whatever I have going on next week.
It’s Sunday and I woke up at 10. It does help to have a Bella Bee free night.
I didn’t wake up at 5 am to start blogging and reading blogs. I know I can do that later on today and this week and next week and the week after that.
Here is the philosophical bit.
I don’t know if it is age but my mental state is finally starting to shift.
I have my goals but I have finally started to stop trying to prove to people that they have to like me or what I do or say or write.
I care about a lot of people and support many people here and in my “real life” but I now know I don’t need their approval.
Not all people will get me or you.
Don’t take it to heart.
Usually, if someone seems to ignore you, is hostile, is not consistent with how they treat you. If you are always left feeling drained or uncomfortable and generally bummed out around certain people.
99% of the time, it is not something you need to figure out.
It is usually all about what that person has going on in their head.
People who judge and are critical to others, try and target the people who are themselves and who are 100% genuine and happy with what they are doing and where they are going. Haters try to make you question if you are good enough with what you do or have. They never give you anything but a serious doubt in your abilities.
Usually, whatever seems like a reflection on you and who you are and how you are – isn’t.
I know I am the only person who knows myself better than anyone. If I trust my gut instincts, I know how to reign myself in, reflect on my own judgements and check out what is going on with me.
Not everyone is comfortable with the fact I don’t hide certain ‘”skeletons” of my life in an overflowing wardrobe, that I supposedly should be ashamed to share.
My thinking is – I share them because I fucking got over them.
If you don’t like that I am not all caught up in an eternal self- mind fuckery, that is your problem, not mine.
I and you. We all have a life to live.
There is a great life out there to see and experience. We need to take time to chill and do our own thing. Even if it seems like we are doing nothing. We are usually doing a lot.
I am convinced that all the things I have lined up for this next week -will be tackled with 100% passion and commitment.
I’m feeling fresh, energised (amazing what a few haribos can do)
That’s it from me.