Friday 6PM ft. Elina

Get To Know Me Questions

How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

 I can be very introverted when you first meet me but as you get to know me you’ll see that I am more outgoing and really chatty. I’m really creative and adventurous when my health allows it. I am extremely empathetic and supportive of the people in my life but it takes me a while to trust people. And I’m constantly capturing memories through photography, film or writing.

What are some of your long and short term goals?

My long term goals are to become a successful young entrepreneur, travel the world, do public speaking events and help as many people as possible in any way I can. My short term goals are to run events for the InvisiYouth Charity, to create a supportive community for those with chronic illness and disabilities in Australia and in my home town. And finally to create a meaningful product that will make a difference in people’s lives.

Why did you decide to start blogging?

My mum actually suggested I start a blog when my health severely declined, as at the time I was stuck at home in bed and wanted a way I could express my creativity in a way I could manage. JustSoElina started as a beauty and lifestyle blog but quickly grew into a wellbeing and lifestyle blog as I started opening up about my life with chronic illness as I never wanted anyone else to feel as alone and scared as I did when I first got sick.

What’s your word/phrase for this year?

My phrase for this year is “everything happens for a reason”. I’m learning to look for the lessons and gifts that come out of every situation thrown at me and the ways I can use that for the future.

Who’s your current role model?

My current role model is Emma Carey, because she used a traumatic and life changing experience to make a difference. Whether it’s through Instagram (especially her captions), her public/Inspirational speaking or the beautiful products she creates.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I was a published co-author at 11 in a book called the Inspiration Bible where I wrote about using horsemanship to help with my anxiety and my connection with horses. I will also be in a second book coming out later this year called Our Infinite Power To Heal. Where I share about my vision issues/brain injury from my horse accident and the turning point in my vision healing journey.

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General Mental Health Questions

How do you stay positive during hard times?

Creating positive moments and memories throughout the hard times really helps me. Whether it’s an impromptu movie night at the cinemas or at home. Or taking a picnic down to the beach, anything that will put a smile on my face and help me relax for a bit.

What’s one piece of advice you’ve been given about your mental health you wish everyone knew?

I get so overwhelmed easily and am either so far in the past or future that I forget to live in the present. The best advice I have ever been given was from my amazing Mum which is to take things one day at a time, one step at a time.

How do you cope with stress?

I haven’t figured out fully how to cope with stress as it has been constant in my life for the past 8 years. But each day I am working on using my creativity, whether it be writing or taking photos to calm my mind and block out the situations that are out of my control. Which definitely isn’t always easy for me as my way to manage things is to be a massive control freak.

How does organisation help you mentally?

Growing up I was the most disorganized person known to man, my room was a bomb and I never got anything done on time. By writing detailed lists and taking the extra time to keep my bedroom tidy it helps me to relax and not get overwhelmed by everything.

How do you handle the physical effects of stress?

Stress is a massive trigger for my chronic pain and illness. Because my autonomic nervous system misfires, causing the nerves in my body to feel pain when I get stressed, it sets it off even more and adds even more nausea then I already feel. So as soon as I start to feel a little bit off I take it as an indicator that I need to step back and rest/recoup. If possible I will remove the stress, but usually I just find new tools to manage it. My go to is to give myself a period of time to sleep, watch movies and do small activities like going to the beach where I am not allowed to feel guilty for doing so (still working on that bit though).

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Toxic Family

What advice do you have for someone whose family refuses to accept that they’re struggling with their mental health?

This is a tricky one, as hard as it is unfortunately they may never accept it. You can’t make someone else understand they have to be willing to. It’s about finding the strength in yourself so that you don’t need them to, that their opinions are just that THEIRS and find other options for getting help and support.

Let’s talk pros and cons, in what ways has having a broken family affected you both negatively and positively?

The positives of growing up in a broken family are that it has made me a much stronger person and it’s also given me a deeper connection with others in the same situation. The negatives are my lack of trust, it can take me years to fully trust someone and open up. I take things personally with friendships and relationships and am terrified of saying the wrong thing because I don’t want to lose any more people in my life. And finally I’m a MASSIVE control freak; so much of my life has been out of control, especially the actions of family members that really hurt me. So now I try to control everything and when I can’t I break down.

How has your relationship with your family affected your ability to form relationships?

My relationship with my family has majorly affected my ability to form relationships. I struggle to open up and trust my friends because I am always just waiting for them to leave like my family did. And with guys as soon as I start to catch feelings or things start getting sort of serious I tend to push them away and convince myself I don’t have feelings for them. I also struggle with affection, like hugging people etc. always feels awkward and foreign to me.

What advice do you have for someone who feels like their family is falling apart? The most important thing to know is that it’s absolutely not your fault! What is happening with your family may have a huge effect on you, but the actual cause of it is not your fault. Therefore not your responsibility to try and fix (trust me on this, I’ve been down this road many times before). Talk to someone you trust about how your feeling or write it down, do not bottle it up. It may seem like a good idea at the time but will just cause you to breakdown even more in the future. And just to know that you and a strong and beautiful person and you will get through this, just take it one day at a time.

How do you know when it’s time to cut family off? And how much harder is it to do that as a teen when you’re constantly surrounded by these people and don’t have a say in it?

This is such a tough situation; I’ve been in it in the past. For everyone it will be different but for me I knew it was time to cut my family off when I was constantly in tears because of them and the way they treated me and when even the thought of seeing them sent me into panic. It was hard though because I didn’t have a choice in it because I’m only a teenager. I did refuse to see them but unfortunately for me that wasn’t possible. I learnt that you don’t have much of a choice in the situation but you do have a choice in how you manage it. Writing down how you feel and what you want to say to them but can’t in a journal really helps as well as figuring out a technique like pretending you’re in a bubble and what they are saying is bouncing back at them. Or my personal favourite thinking about something happy or my dreams for life so when they were talking I was zoned out and couldn’t hear what they were saying to me that was hurtful.

How have you learnt to accept your family for what it is? ‘

It took me a really long time to learn to accept my family for what it is. Since I was little I had this fairy tale image in my mind of how my family should be and I clung to it for dear life, just hoping that one day it would come true. If I’m being honest there will probably always be that part of me that hopes that my family will change. But as harsh as it may sound I had to grow out of the fairy tale and learn to be ok with things being just me and my mum, because we have an awesome relationship and a life that I love as just the two of us. And realise that most families aren’t like the ones on TV; I don’t have the power to change someone. I can only chose love them as they are, as much as the situation allows.

How do you let the person being affected know that the other person is toxic for them?

Be aware that this is a sensitive situation to be in and that you can only tell the person your view of the situation. You can’t force them to see things your way, so there is a chance they will be in denial about it. If you do want to say something you have to be mature, understanding and non-judgemental. Either have a face to face conversation. But again you have to be mature and stay calm, it may be frustrating or upsetting seeing someone you love being in a toxic situation but getting angry at them will only alienate them. Or if you feel too emotional write the person a letter stating why you are concerned and that you are only saying something because you care about them. If they chose to ignore what you said you have done everything you possibly can.

If the person does know that the relationship they’re in is toxic, how do you let them know that it’s okay to leave if they are concerned about hurting the people involved?

The only thing you can do is remind them that everyone will be ok and that they need to look after themselves because they can’t help anyone else if they are in a toxic relationship themselves. That you want them to be happy and that its ok to leave the relationship.

Elina’s Blog

Elina’s Instagram

I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I’m a better person because of those people.

From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM

Lets chat (4)

xxxChips

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my baby is two & 400 followers

So I was planning on writing this post way in advance because I thought I had time and then I didn’t (story of my life) so I hope you enjoy this super short post.

And before you ask, no I’m not the kind of teen mum you’re thinking of, my baby, my blog is two years old.

We hit 400 followers a few days before April 16th(my blog’s birthday) and oh my gosh, it still blows my mind.

I’ve made so many incredible friendships and I’ve gotten to help people, and learn and truly be myself. I’ve grown so much over the past two years, and I owe it to this lovely community. I love you all soooo much.

Thanks for 400 and for making everything about my life so much more special. It’s been two years and I can still picture myself writing my first post while sat on my pink duvet, never in a million years did I ever think I’d end up here.

But I have and 400 of you incredible people actually read my words and take the time to talk to me and ahhhhh I’m so grateful for each and every one of you!!!

xxxChips

the f word//let’s talk about fat shaming

Last night I was writing a post on how I have always refused to change for anybody other than myself. Whether that was my attitude, or my dress code, my opinions. And then I saw this tweet by Gillette and it made me smile so big, there is literally nothing that makes me happier than representation. And my mind was instantly like ‘YESSS. Here is another company who values body positivity and representation and AHHHHH this makes me so unbelievably happy.

And I scrolled down to the comments, and I don’t even have the words to describe how much it sickens me to know I live in a world where people think comments calling people whales and disgusting are okay.

Look I’ve always been a firm believer that you stay the way you are because you choose to, and so when I read comments like that the only thing going through my mind other than a whole bunch of words I would have to censor in this post are questions. Why do you think it’s okay to invalidate someone and tell them they have no right to take up space in this world? What gives you the right to call someone a toothpick, or morbidly obese, a whale or whatever other damaging comment you have prepared?Who the hell are you to hate on someone for loving themselves?

This works either way. But I’ll use the image above in my example. And you can say the vile comment was a means of getting someone to a ‘healthy’ weight but my argument is this: How does making someone feel crap about themselves inspire or motivate them to change their lives for the ‘better’. Quite frankly, if I hated myself the last thing I’d be trying to do was to ‘improve’ my life in any way.I’m paraphrasing what Jenna Alexis said in this video, but my opinions are the same.

You could argue that the ad is glorifying obesity. But when the alcohol ads pop up on TV why is no one calling that the glorification of alcoholism? But then again I suppose it only works as excuse to bully people and not when it comes to you. How very convenient for you then.

And I’m sorry if you don’t realise that not everybody wants to play the role of societies puppets but myself and a whole bunch of other people do and we won’t stop talking about it until something changes.

The point is at the end of the day IT DOESN’T MATTER. At the end of the day it isn’t your body and it’s not your life. And I’m going to tell you all the exact same thing I told the person who decided to debate with me about this on Twitter

I asked my friend Autumn what she thought:

“Things like this just blow my mind. One thing I’m constantly confused about is the whole “glorifying obesity” thing- so, this woman is an actual person. And there are literally MILLIONS of women who have a similar body type to her. This woman is not a unicorn or some other kind of rare creature. So how is seeing an average woman in an ad glorifying anything at all? The other thing that annoys the ever loving shit out of me is the fact that the people who are against women like this don’t have any reason except ‘it’s not healthy’. Well, neither is binge drinking every weekend or having unprotected sex or vaping or leaving the restroom without washing your hands, but still, it’s fat people, especially fat women, who are constantly told they are ‘unhealthy’. We all know that these people don’t care about health, they care about societies preconceived ideas of an aesthetic body. So they call fat women ugly or disgusting or pigs or whales and tell us no one will ever find us attractive or want to sleep with us. But fat women don’t give a shit if people don’t find us attractive, And that’s exactly what body positivity is about-telling people to give us RESPECT, not attraction.” -Autumn

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We’re taught to see our bodies as the problem when the real problem is unrealistic standards. The problem is that we’re still enforcing the idea that a number on a scale matters more than personality and a person’s happiness.

You don’t need to change, not if you’re not doing it for yourself. Your purpose was never meant to be perfecting the art of shrinking yourself to fit into a mould.

I hope you choose to love yourself, even when it feels like the world is telling you you’re wrong for doing so.

xxxChips

 

Friday 6PM ft. Cait

Get To Know Me Questions

 How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Author. Blogger. Bookworm trying read absolutely everything!

 There is a fire and you can either save your book or the last slice of cake in the world. Which are you saving?

Probably…my book!? Which might be a bad decision because I can’t eat it later…

  What some books have you read/ movies you’ve seen that have changed your life?

Despite feeling like a cliche, I truly have to say The Hunger Games! It really changed how I wrote, encouraged me to really hone my own voice, and it also opened the doors to Young Adult fiction for me. And then I had such a book hangover after it that I went looking for those lists of “what to read when you’ve finished The Hunger Games!” and that’s where I was introduced to Maggie Stiefvater, who is absolutely my favourite author. So I owe a lot to The Hunger Games!

  What are some of your biggest pet peeves?

I am super peeved when people hate on others for loving harmless things! Just let people be happy!

  How many siblings do you have?

I have five — four sisters and one brother.

  What made you want to start blogging?

I actually have to blame my oldest sister…she suggested starting a blog. And though my first reaction was “what’s a blog lol”, I did start and obviously it kickstarted a huge part of my life for me!

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General Mental Health Questions

 How do you tell if a book has good rep if you don’t struggle with mental illness?

The best thing to do is ask the opinion of someone who also has that same illness — or read their reviews! I look for other markers too. For instance, if these problematic tropes pop up, I get concerned that it might be bad rep:
(1) is the character with the mental illness built purely on stereotypes?
(2) is the illness represented only by the villain?
(3) is the character only loved after they’re cured? or are they “cured” unrealistically?

When it comes to noting if it has GOOD rep, I often find the story really loves and cherishes its mentally ill characters! If I can, I also look to see if the book is #ownvoices (ie: the author has the same illness and is writing from experience).

  Advice for bringing up the topic of mental health with a friend who is struggling?

Sometimes it’s easier to reach out through a text instead of in-person. Instead of cornering someone into telling you “what’s wrong”, make yourself available (if you can) to be a listening ear, a support. Often those of us with a mental illness feel like massive burdens, so belay that fear for us.

  My family and ‘friends’ don’t care about my mental health, what advice do you have for that?

If you’re able, find an online community to support you! I’ve met amazing people online who struggle with similar things that I do, whether it’s depression or social anxiety. Books are also a safe haven to find comforting messages. But absolutely know, no matter what, you’re not alone. You’re not a burden. And you thoroughly deserve the best life you can have.

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Autism

  What is autism?

It’s a disability with such a huge spectrum that it’s rather hard to define! But it’s usually classed as having social and communication difficulties as well as very definite sensory sensitivities. It’s something you’re born with and, no, you can’t “catch” autism or develop it.

  How old were you when you were diagnosed and what impact did your diagnosis have on your life?

I was diagnosed at 21! I’ve been autistic my whole life, but a lot of the autistic diagnosis markers are based on boys, and girls present differently. My life was really starting to unravel after highschool, a common thing for autistics who don’t transition well (like: from highschool to adulthood), and my family and I pursued answers…which turned into an autism diagnosis. Suddenly so many things made sense. It was a relief for me, a lightbulb moment. I had the information to find tools to make life easier for myself.

What is the biggest positive of being autistic?

Things I love: being intensely creative and seeing the world from a different angle. Taking such deep pleasure from small things. Being passionate and good with details and being easily accepting of other’s differences. When you’re different, it makes little sense to judge others!

 What is the biggest challenge you face being autistic?

For me, it’s overwhelm. Too many people, a change in routine, a deadline, things being too loud…my ability to tolerate them is very low and throw more than two at me at once and it’s a recipe for disaster.

  Have you had any negative reactions when people have found out you are autistic. What advice do you have for that?

The worst was being caught in an online conversation about eugenics where someone said to me that autistics shouldn’t exist. Being told you’re “defective” and the world would be better off without you is an actual gut-punch. Sometimes I think it’s best just to walk away from things like that and take care of yourself first. But if you feel able to, and have the tools, speak up. I wrote an article back, taking apart their flimsy thinking. But the whole thing did leave me shaken.

  How do I support my friends/family members with autism?

Ask them what they need! For example: the expert on my autism isn’t a book, an article, or a psychologist. The expert is me. But I’m not the expert on the next person’s autism. So let the autistic have the voice, in any way they’re able to communicate. Also read lots of memoirs by other autistics. Never act like your autistic friend/family member is broken.

  What are some things people don’t usually know about autism?

I honestly think most people know next to nothing about it! Which is why we need more accurate representations in books and media (preferably lead by autistic creators!). I find people get surprised at how many ways autistics stim (these are like self-soothing repetitive tics that we could do for hours). Usually you think autistics just flap or rock, but we have so many ways to safely stim and we love it! Touching textures, smelling things, listening to specific music, fiddling with things, dancing, finger movements, jumping.  

  How can society make things easier/ more accessible to autistic people?

Because autism is such a huge spectrum, it really depends on the individual. One thing I have deeply appreciated while beginning my career of being an author, is how my agent and editors have made communication accessible to me. I’m not great at speaking out loud, so we skip phone calls and work solely by email. Things like this make the world of difference. Don’t shut doors because you think an autistic “can’t do something”. Find another way to open the door.

 Finish the sentence, “To everyone with autism, I want you to know…”

…you’re absolutely not broken and you are epic the way you are.

  Finish the sentence “To everyone without autism, I want you to know…” 

…autism isn’t an epidemic and it’s not a bad thing and the world is made fuller with us in it!

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Writing

  Do you have a writing routine? 

I tend to write in marathon-sessions instead of everyday. So I don’t really have a day-to-day routine! Just basically: I take a few months to write an outline, then I whip up a first draft in a few days, take a break, then spend months revising.

  Advice for moments when I don’t have motivation to write?

Make sure your creative well is full! It’s hard to write if you’re only giving out creatively and not taking in.

  Favourite places to find writing inspiration?

I do so love listening to music and going on long walks.

 When did you first decide you wanted to write and why?

I blame all the books I read! My childhood was made up of piles of books and my parents encouraged creativity, so it was natural that I turned to making my own stories.

  Does it ever truly hit you, the fact that you’re a published author with fans worldwide who are inspired by you and your journey?

It’s still totally surreal! Every time someone says “Oh I loved your book!” my reaction is still, “REALLY!??!” Haha. I’m so pleased to be able to share my words and actually be able to hold my books and see them in bookstores! Never going to get over the magic of that.

  How important is it to you to talk about the experiences you’ve faced in your writing?

In my latest book, The Boy Who Steals Houses, I did write about anxiety and autism — in ways that showed the characters weren’t broken and deserved loved. That was super important to me to be able to say.

  Best tip for aspiring writers?

Keep going! It seems like a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but the truth is: the more you write, the better you’ll be. So despite rejections and failed projects…always keep writing something else. You’ll get there!

  How has writing helped you manage your mental health?

Sometimes it’s been therapeutic, like when writing about anxiety. And I do love disappearing into my worlds of magic and mayhem as a break from reality.

  Do you have a preferred point of view when writing and reading?

I do like 3rd person the best, I confess!

  Do you think it’s harder to write from the point of view of the opposite gender? What changes? What stays the same?

For me, it’s not really harder? I just write people and my aim is always to get into that particular character’s shoes and figure out how they’d seen and react to the world. I feel that’s less about gender than about personality.

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The Boy Who Steals Houses

  What inspired you to write TBWSH? 

My story inspirations always come from a huge collection of things! For this one, I wanted to write a genderbent Goldilocks retelling. I also love going for long walks and since I pass by a lot of seemingly empty houses, my author imagination started to work and ask, What if a teen broke in, not to steal, but just to live while the owners were away? It fit solidly with the Goldilocks tale so I meshed them together and The Boy Who Steals Houses slowly came into existence.

  Are any of the characters in TBWSH inspired by people you know?

The De Lainey family dynamics are inspired by living with a big family myself…but I don’t pull particular characters to be inspired by real people! I would feel so awkward doing that haha.

  If you had to pick your favourite quote in TBWSH which one would it be?

“We are the kings of nowhere. We only need us.”

  What were the hardest and easiest parts of writing a #ownvoices novel?

Hardest: The pressure! Not wanting to make mistakes or badly write something that means so much to you.
Easiest: Knowing what you’re talking about! And falling into sync so easily with your characters because you know what they feel.

  Did you have any fears when writing TBWSH?

I always am scared my books are secretly horrible and will explode into a poof of dark smoke as soon as they hit the bookshelf. Just, ya know, the normal fears.

  What are some genres other than contemporary that you’d like to write in the future?

I’d love to write magical realism someday!

  What are some of the biggest influences on how and what you write about?

I’m definitely influenced by what I read, the authors I admire, and what’s happening in society.

  If you could have a sleepover with Sam, Beck, Avery, August or Moxie, who would you pick and why?

I think August would be the absolute best person to be friends with. She’s so kind and welcoming, will fill any awkward places with a smiles, and has zero judgements about anyone. She was one of my most loving characters to write and I adore her!

                                  

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | Barnes & Noble | Waterstones | Hachette UK | Hachette AUS |

(buy A Thousand Perfect Notes)

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AUS | Waterstones | Booktopia | Hachette UK | Hachette AUS |

(buy The Boy Who Steals Houses)

Cait’s Blog

Cait’s Instagram

Cait’s Twitter

I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I’m a better person because of those people.

From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM

Lets chat (4)

xxxChips

other people’s opinions see also: things i refuse to care about

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A lot of my reasoning behind doing things is you live and you die and that’s it. You are here today but you won’t be eventually and the idea of living a half-assed life because you are more concerned about everybody else’s opinions of yourself than you are about your own is stupid. If you think about it long and hard you realise it’s stupid, but we do it anyway.

Sometimes I feel trapped in everybody else’s opinions of me. In the comments about my attitude, my clothing, what I share online, on my mental illness and self harm scars.

And the problem (for them more than me) is that I’ve never really cared much about anybody else’s opinion enough to change anything about myself. But as a result of being myself in a world where people think they have a right to tell you who you should and shouldn’t be and what you can and can’t do because everybody else is or isn’t doing it I often find myself having discussions with people older than me, authority figures. By discussions I mean I listen as they talk and talk about everything and I listen because it’s 2019 but I’m still expected to listen and change according to what everybody but myself wants (unless (and this happens 99.9% of the time) I argue back, raise my voice, point out their flaws, expect them to be different, you know, everything they’re doing). And the conclusion always comes to the same thing: I need to change____(fill in the blank)

And lately I’ve been thinking about how I know a lot about myself but I still feel lost. I know writing and music keep me sane. I know nothing about my life is ever really stable, but I’ll always have cold floors to walk on and bare feet.

Everyone’s expected to change for everybody else but themselves and I don’t get that. I don’t get why my mission in life is expected to be pleasing other people like I’m a piece of clay for people to mould into what they want me to be.

And a part of me I hate cares sometimes about other people’s opinions, granted not all of them are utter trash but shouldn’t I be changing for me and not because people don’t agree with who I am?

The other day, I was thinking about how when I was younger, I had a fairly big bed but I’d always take the smallest space right in the corner. Like somehow I already knew I’d be expected to be petite, and polite and smaller than I actually was. Like somehow I knew eventually I’d be programmed to think I was taking up too much space in this world. But then again, it could be nothing more than a result of me typing this at 2am.

I think it’s odd how me not caring leads to conversations about all the reasons I should care.

Sometimes I think people forget that I’m not them. That I’ll never be what anybody other than myself wants to be simply because that’s not me and I’m too stubborn to do anything about it.

I’ve been strangled, kicked out of houses, insulted for being myself but you know if I had to do it all again I wouldn’t change a single thing.

18 has always appealed to me, and not just because I feel like a 24 year old in a 14 year old’s body all the time. But because I think of 18 and I think yeah, maybe things won’t be perfect. Maybe I’ll have a crappy job and my depression will still send me plummeting to new lows but it also means freedom. Freedom in a lot more ways than I have now, and I think that’s enough for me.

I’ll continue to be me til then. I’ll play my music too loud, spend more time in my journals and in my head than around people, drink my weight in Pepsi, talk feminism and mental health more often than I talk about the weather.

The idea of being anybody other than myself scares me a lot more than the consequences of doing so.

Hell, I’m lost enough being myself what would I be doing to myself if I actually cared about being a modified version of myself?

I’m just sick of being expected to be everybody else instead of myself. If I ever have kids I’d want to support them regardless of what page 21 of that magazine said, or the ideas we’ve introduced and allowed ourselves to carry on supporting like how boys shouldn’t cry, or I need to look and act a certain way because otherwise I’ll never find someone and all that other bullshit.

Gosh I could never be the kind of parent who makes their kid feel anything less than incredible for being themselves.

You want to paint the walls a colour bordering purple and navy blue with glow in the dark stars because you spend your nights staring at the sky thinking about everything and feeling more like yourself than you ever have? Let’s do it. You’re gay, lesbian, transgender, asexual, bisexual, aromantic, aro-ace, intersex, questioning, transsexual, pansexual or straight? I love you and not despite your identity, but because it’s you and I love you and nothing should change that if you actually mean it. If my son wants to grow his hair down to his ankles and my daughter feels better in jeans a shirt than she ever will in a dress or skirt then who the hell am I to tell someone who they are?

Especially as nobody, fully has any clue about the answer to that.

You spend your whole life questioning who you are? And by the time you’re on your deathbed you still only know fragments of the answer. Stop telling everybody who they can and can’t be, it’s like being an identity thief and punishing the victim for the crime.

You spend your whole life searching for fragments of who you are, and you think you can rob other people of their’s because you worry more about being judged than you do about making people hate themselves.

It’s been a while since I’ve rambled like this…
xxxChips

a self harm q+a

Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicidal ideations, self harm.

I couldn’t talk about this topic without putting a trigger warning because I do share my own experiences in here but I promise you reading this will do more good than it will bad. I hope that by speaking about this you realise that you are not alone and you realise that there is hope even if you can’t see or feel it.

I love you.

What was the moment that you first felt you had to take your pain out on your body?

I’ve always been the kind of person who was in my head in a lot. When I was younger (I’d say from the age of 8) I was really social and bubbly and extroverted but I also spent a bunch of time in my room, thinking about everything and feeling overwhelmingly sad for reasons I didn’t understand. I have this distinct memory of being in my bedroom and looking out my window (it had bars) and feeling like I was trapped. And my thinking process was kind of like I’m trapped in my room, in my complex in this country, on this earth, inside the universe. I can’t get out

I had a little bench in my room and I’d sit there looking out my window just thinking that over and over again. And I was 9 when I first stumbled upon the phrase depression, I was reading The Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants at the time and I was like ‘that’s it, that’s the word for how I feel.’ and I went on Google and looked up the symptoms and looking at the symptoms for me was the same as you checking off every item on a to-do list.

And I told my brother, and he thought I was being dramatic. I totally don’t blame him for this at all, I did drama every day of the week whether it was at school or practicing in my bedroom, I had a dramatic flair and I had a habit of diagnosing myself off the internet (turns out I did not have cancer the one time I had a headache). And I never, not once until I was about 12 did I give any signs that I was depressed. I was happy in front of people, I smiled, I laughed, I danced, I sang and watched movies and played dress-up. So there was no way he, or anyone other than myself would have known.

I was sad for a very long time before the pain became increasingly worse. The first time I self harmed I was 12, and I had a friend at the time (we’d met online) who self harmed too and at first I was the one trying my best to be there for her and support her and we’d talk everyday after school (we both lived in Joburg, and had mutual friends) and we’d bond over our love of Hayley Kiyoko and Halsey.

And then over that period I just started to feel more depressed, worse than I ever had before. I cannot describe it in any other way than my soul hurt, picture yourself being stabbed and you can feel the pain but it’s kind of numbed and dull, and that’s a fraction of how I felt. Everything was heavy, I cried a lot, didn’t want to get out bed, wasn’t hungry or was overeating, could barely bring myself to even brush my teeth, fought with my mum nearly every day. And then one day I couldn’t feel anything. And a part of me was scared, because when you are that young or any age for that matter there are few things worse than being numb. You don’t care about yourself, you don’t care about people, you don’t care about the world.

And so the first time I cut myself I did it to feel something.

Times after that were either to feel or to get rid of an urge.

And if you’re wondering what urges are like, from a poem I wrote “A hot fiery, sense consuming urge to rip myself to shreds because I didn’t want to breathe.”

 

What is the first step in the road to recovery?

I will be the first person to admit that I don’t talk about recovery often because I still have a lot of days where I feel like recovery isn’t an option for me and I’m not going to go into much detail because I am still figuring this out.

But I will say the first step, for me at least, was admitting and understanding that the way I was and was feeling and what I was doing to myself physically, emotionally and mentally wasn’t okay.

Step two, this wasn’t the order in which I did it but the order in which I wish I had, was realising that recovery doesn’t happen overnight. You might relapse, more than once (I have), medication won’t suddenly fix your problems nor will rehab, recovery looks different to everyone and recovery doesn’t just start outwards but inwards as well. Recovery is not linear there are high and lows and in-betweens, and you are allowed to feel hopeless and miserable and hate everything about yourself  BUT YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STAY THAT WAY. Don’t you dare stay that way.

The rest of the journey is different for everyone. Coping tips help. Therapy helps. Youtube helps. The right people help. Medication helps.

 

Do you hide your scars?

It depends. Fresh cuts are never seen by anyone until they are healed because that’s potentially triggering. But the scars on my arms I don’t hide and I still wear shorts despite my heavily scarred thigh. And at the end of the day whether or not you show your scars is up to you, but they are nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody copes differently and at the end of the day that is how you coped and nobody has any right to make you feel bad about that, a big F*UCK YOU to anybody who makes you feel anything less beautiful because of your scars.

There are ways of hiding your scars and still wearing short sleeves and shorts, and at some point maybe I’ll write a list that I hope you use for the right reasons because I understand what it’s like to have people judge you and have to listen to comments about your trauma like it’s the next bit of celebrity gossip (which is wrong btw).

Hide them if you want, but please get help. If not for yourself, then for me, the girl on the internet writing this who has been there and continues to go there but is trying really hard not to.

You are an incredible being, you don’t deserve to hate yourself, and I will love you until you are ready to love yourself and continue to do so after.

I write for you, nobody else.

What advice would you give someone in the same mental state you were in when you began to self harm?

Talk to someone even if it’s not your parents.My friends were amazing to me and they supported me when I couldn’t support myself but if that isn’t an option for you, there are resources. My DMs and email are always open. I promise you I will not think you’re a nuisance, or a bother or irritating or any of the other irrational things your mind is telling you right now. I have a disorder that causes my mood to change so frequently I could be at an ultimate low and wouldn’t message anyone because I’d be manic pretty soon, and please DON’T DO WHAT I DO. It’ll pass yes, but in that moment when you feel low, I don’t want you to scroll through your contact list and feel like you have nobody to call or message.

I can tell you the number of times a friend has told me they were sad/ depressed/ considering self harm/suicide/ having an urge/ anxious/confused and I’ve turned them away:

ZERO!

And I can guarantee that number will stay at zero for as long as I am breathing.

Find people to support you, even if it’s people who don’t know you. I watched so much Youtube back then and even now I have a folder called for the bad days full of videos, I watched Dodie, Jenna Alexis, Zannah, Isabel. Find people who make you feel like you’re not alone, make you smile (even if you’re not ready to get out of bed yet).

Start a blog. Walk around barefoot. Draw. Rip paper to shreds. Organise your books according to colour.

DON’T WATCH ANYTHING TRIGGERING ON PURPOSE. Stay the hell away from searching self harm accounts, watching videos of people talking about stays in psych wards (if you think it’ll trigger you), showing self harm, anything that could trigger you needs to be kept very far away from you.

I used to watch those because a part of me enjoyed feeling sick, feeling bad, feeling like the trash of the planet, a part of me couldn’t imagine a day where I didn’t want to die and so I’d watch those on purpose IT DOESN’T HELP.

I know you don’t want to feel alone, I know you want to feel understood, but there are ways that aren’t going to hurt you emotionally and mentally.

What support should be provided for vulnerable young people?

  1. Therapy needs to be made more affordable and more accessible and so does medication
  2. Mental health needs to be talked at in school(NOT JUST ONCE A YEAR) and at home
  3. We need to do more to listen and support instead of judging
  4. Encourage people to talk about their feelings, say no to toxic masculinity, say no to the idea of perfection
  5. We need to stop making people feel more broken than they already feel.

What should you do if a friend is self-harming?

I’d say research what self harm is and why people self harm, try to understand why people self harm and then taking what you’ve learnt speak to your friend and ask them what’s going on. It’s not always going to be this big event that caused them to feel this way. Listen, try to understand, support them in the best way you know how and I don’t mean smother them with advice or force them to go out.

Be there for them. Show them the love they can’t give themselves at the moment. Don’t be judgmental, don’t make them feel guilty, don’t give them ultimatums or expect them to go into recovery overnight.

And I’m going to be 100% honest with you, sometimes telling an adult or their parents does more bad than good and other times telling them does more good than bad. And it differs in every situation, so really it’s up to you to decide but whatever your choice is you need to try your best to make sure that your friend is going to get the support they need.

If you have any more questions leave them in the comments, it’s kind of hard to trigger me so don’t worry about asking anything personal.

xxxChips

Friday 6PM ft. Gracie

Get to Know Me Questions

How would you describe yourself to a stranger?
•15 years old •Self confessed rebel & revolutionary •Sailor girl in love with the ocean. •Writer and spoken word poet •Wild child with my head permanently in the clouds •Feels and thinks wayyy too much •Night thinker – daydreamer •Fueled by aesthetics & adrenaline •Can usually be found swimming laps of a pool, up a tree with my head in a notepad or a book, drinking strong coffee, singing along to my never-ending playlist or sarcastically arguing with people for the sheer fun of it •Will dance with you at 2am •Wearer of bracelets (I have sixteen that I don’t take off) • doesn’t have the answers, but will always try to use my words and my actions to help others •Wants to work as a sailor/youth worker to pursue my passion in life and make a difference in the lives and futures of my generation •free spirit™

What things would you say have shaped you as a person?
The way that my parents have raised me to do everything I can to be a light in the darkness and help others, the pain and negativity I see all around me in my generation and the future they’re facing, discovering the world of sailing, falling in love with the ocean and experiencing the difference if made in my life and the lives of others.

 What’s your big goal for this year?
My family and I are taking on a mega challenge this year to raise money for a charity that transforms the lives and futures of young people in need. My main goal is to complete and to be successful in that challenge – even though it’s definitely not going to be easy. Keep an eye out for a post on my blog with all the deets and how you can get involved to help me achieve that goal…coming soon…
Also, just to be the best, most confident, capable, compassionate version of myself that I can be- and to learn to kitesurf 😉

 What could you give a 40 minute presentation on with no preparation?
How young people can and should stand up for what they believe in and make a difference. I’d probably find a way to bring sailing and the hugely positive effect it has on young people’s lives into it. I’m highkey obsessed haha

Which skill would you like to master?
Spoken word/slam poetry. The rhythm, the performance, the power, the ability to express your message with so much emotion and clarity – it’s pure magic. I write a lot, but I struggle with the performance element (it always sounds so much better in my head lol). I’d love to master that and be able to pack a punch with my words.
Some of my favourite spoken word poems are called Cigarettes by James Hartzer, Text Me by Los Angeles Team and An Origin Story by Phil Kaye and Sarah Kay. They’re all on YouTube 🙂

What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you
could experience it for the first time again?
I just – I have no words for the 2hrs 20mins of feels that the movie Dead Poets Society gives you. It’s the most beautiful, raw, emotional film I’ve ever watched and the lessons it teaches you on teenage mental health, conformity and creativity are truly life-changing. Just go watch it.Now. Plus it’s about poetry sooo *shrugs* even better 🙂

Also, I would’ve said a song, but I’m way too in love with music to be able to pick just one. Same with books, actually. Could never even begin to choose.

 Who inspires you?
My parents. The strength that it takes to raise a family to live and think differently is immense, especially in our society. Their constant dedication to creating a better future for their own children and for other young people inspires me every day.

My friends and other young people of my generation. They struggle so much and yet they are so brave. They fight back against this society that oppresses them. They hang in there even though it hurts and I’m so proud of them for it.

The crew of the boats I sail. They are such positive role-models – people that give their lives to share their passion with my generation and to try and make a difference in our lives. Through sailing, I have met some incredible individuals and, one day, I hope to be like them. Finally, strangers. Every time I hear of someone doing something good in the world, it inspires me to keep going.

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General Mental Health Questions

Have you ever had to deal with negative reactions when you’ve opened up about your mental health, and what advice would you have for others?
On the whole I’ve been really lucky to have family and friends who’ve always been supportive, but something I have come across a lot is young people my age shying away from having these discussions about mental health because they’re ‘too deep’ or ‘too serious’.

As a generation, our relationships have become quite shallow and that’s something I really struggle with. I’ve tried to talk to certain friends about my own mental health, their mental health or even just a slightly more serious topic and I’ve found that they will try and avoid discussing it – even when they’re clearly struggling and it’s clearly so important to open up. I’ve also had a lot of experiences with friends making stupid jokes about mental health and suicide even though I know they themselves struggle with depression, self harm, eating disorders, etc.

I think they’re afraid of the vulnerability and so to joke about what’s going on inside their head is so much easier. To me, that is wrong. Mental health/suicide is not a joke and laughing about it will not make you better.

We need to raise awareness and say ‘Look, opening up…communication…sharing your struggles….they are the only way to move forward and get better – you can’t do it alone. There are people who care so whatever you do, don’t push them away. Vulnerability and openness are not a weakness and anyway, sometimes it’s okay to be weak. Sometimes that’s where we’ve got to start’

How do you think parents could be more understanding of their teens’ mental health?
Our parents grew up in a different society to us – the struggles and issues we face now are not the same as what they’ve experienced in their lifetimes. If we communicate with them and try to explain to them what we’re going through, then they must try to understand us by putting themselves in our shoes.

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Rapid Fire Questions

Why do you think it’s still so difficult for people to get help when mental health is
becoming something more and more people are being made aware of?
People are aware of mental health, but I don’t think it’s totally normalised yet. Mental illnesses have become a label and people don’t associate mental health as something that could affect them. It’s de-personalised. Another thing that I think really contributes to mental health is how self-centred our society is – if we had more community and people sharing their lives, I think there would a much better and stronger support network for people struggling with mental health.

What’s your opinion on adults expecting teens to behave maturely but then treating
them like kids when they’re vocal about important matters?
As a teenager, I’m always joking that I’m too young for half the stuff I want to do and too old for the other half. We have to break those stereotypes. Yeah, I’m a teenager, but I’ll still join in and share my valid opinions when I hear adults talking about issues that affect me, my generation and my future. Yes, I’m a teenager, but I’m still going to run around in the rain and watch Disney movies. Get used to it 🙂

What is one thing you wish you could tell teens all over the world?
Look around you. This is the world we are growing up in. This is our future and the future of the generations to come – our children, our grandchildren. Is this what we want for them? If we don’t stand up and do something now we are the ones who will suffer for it. Dream, dream big, dream of the world you want to create, then make it happen. Don’t tear down your peers – build them up. Come together, we are so much stronger that way. Vive la révolution!

Also, go sailing – you won’t regret it 😉

What is one thing you wish you could tell adults all the world?
You’re struggling too, we get that, but please, listen to the young people, help us, share your experience with us. We’re not perfect either and we don’t have all the answers, but together we can make the future brighter. Be good role models and reach out to the young people in your lives and communities – it makes a difference.
Also, stop caring so much about materialistic things – they will soon be useless if you don’t do something now to make the future better.

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Give Advice To Someone…

Who struggles with comparison?
Just….don’t. Please. It will only make you more unhappy. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others, but it’s so much more powerful to make the conscious decision to say to yourself ‘Stop, that’s not who I am. This is me and this is what makes me beautiful and unique. I am going to be the best version of myself that I can.’ Once you’re on that journey, comparing yourself to others will just slow you down. So please, put them to one side (it’s hard I know, but it’s so worth it). Focus on you and be strong.

Another thing….again I know it’s not easy….but once you stop focusing on your physical
appearance, the sense of freedom is incredible. I still care about what I look like and want to look good, but some days I’m like ‘does it really matter if I go to the supermarket in sweatpants with my hair in a messy bun?’ or ‘does it really matter if I get covered in mud and grass stains and if my hair goes wild?’ and I just go for it and as amazing and empowering as it is to feel beautiful, it’s also pretty awesome just to not care every once in awhile.

There are so many sad eyes on pretty faces. Can we all stop valuing physical beauty over our own happiness and mental health, please?

Who wants to be their own person but finds themselves following others?
It’ll take you awhile to realise this, but once you do, I swear you’ll never feel the same way again. Different is cool, different is awesome, different is fascinating. Different is not weird or ugly or unacceptable or unlovable. Why on earth would you follow everyone else when you could be so much more? There is a world out there and you have a place in it, you just need to explore and to find it. And you will, I promise 🙂 Something I try to live by is this: Always try to do the right thing, even if no one else will. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even if you walk alone. Don’t isolate yourself from others, accept them for who they are and love them for it, but don’t become like them just for the sake of fitting in.

Who wants to learn to accept themselves?
I guess I’ve kind of answered this in the previous question and the question about comparison, but I’ll say it again – ‘Once you make the decision to be yourself, you are free from the chains and the pressure of society and you can truly begin to make a difference in the lives of others’

Who is being fat shamed but isn’t overweight?
I’m being totally honest when I say that I never look at anyone else and think ‘she/he is ugly’. If people are pointing out the negatives – it’s probably because they themselves are insecure. I know it’s hard, but why let someone’s irrelevant judgement and opinion of you affect you? I can assure you it’s not how the majority of people see you. If you’re feeling really strong, reach out to that person. Communicate with them. Maybe you’ll have a positive effect on them? Maybe you’ll give them a new perspective and change the way they look at things forever?

Who has a lot of fake friends and finds it difficult to stand up for themselves?
Be real. Stay true to who you are and what you believe in. Never stop searching for true
friendship and connection and if there are people worth fighting for then fight.
Tbh, as for practical advice, I’d say start a blog (if you haven’t already), you meet so many
like-minded people who are always there for you, people you can change the world with, plus you have a space where you can be entirely yourself and express your honest thoughts and feelings 💙

 Who struggles to trust people because of bad past experiences?
It’s not easy to let go. That’s something I struggle with too, but you’ve got to ask yourself – is this really how I want to live my life – scared of trusting anyone, scared to love, scared of putting my heart in someone else’s hands? Sometimes, in order to move on, you’ve got to take that first brave step….remember, there are people who love you, there are people who care, there are people who are good and kind. They are there for you. They’ve probably all had their heart broken at some point or another and yet they have come through it stronger and wiser than before. You will too.

Gracie’s Blog

Round The UK On A Tenner A Day Instagram

I started blogging because I needed a space where I didn’t feel restricted when it came to voicing my opinions and sharing my emotions and I found that, I found this amazing community of people who’ve changed my perspective about and opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I’m a better person because of those people.

From the very beginning, mental health was always something I wanted to talk about because it’s something very close to my heart and something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Right from the get go I told myself that someday I would talk about my own issues, that, I would do it regardless… Continue reading FRIDAY 6PM

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xxxChips