Asking for Help

Recently someone opened up to me about their mental health difficulties after reading through some of my blog, and I found myself talking about being able to ask people for help.

I distinctly recall a time when ‘asking for help’ felt like an impossible feat. Suffering from the most crushing depressive moods was obviously unpleasant. It would always start quite simply, a wayward thought about something someone had said to me, or something I’d said – some kind of injustice that I felt helpless to correct; and from there on it felt a lot like I was on a downward slope.

It was best described as a spiral, starting with a single point that spun wildly out of control within minutes. Right now it’s difficult to reflect on what those initial thoughts were, or at least it would be impossible for me to sit here and tell you exactly what any one trigger was – but at the time I had no idea that there was anything anyone could do to help me. Help was never going to fix the things that I had done wrong, and ‘help’ was never going to stop me thinking about those things. There was nothing anyone could do to erase the thoughts and feelings and memories – why should they, and why would I want them to? All the mistakes we make, or think we’ve made build us as people and I do believe quite strongly that it’s these things that build resilience and strength, although I definitely recognise now that the things I once thought were never really true.

These ‘incidents’ happened with increasing frequency until one day I opened up to a friend about them. No, it wasn’t the sudden miracle cure I’d been looking for, and it wasn’t the start of some unique healing process that would happen on its own but I made the decision there and then to try to tell that friend – the next time I experienced these spiralling thoughts.

Yes, I can remember the night. No, I have no idea when it was – but I do know that I called my friend, in floods of tears and asked her very simply if she could ‘come and get me’. I know that I’m very privileged to have friends that are able to do just that, and if I’m honest I tried hard to ask her in a very calm tone whether or not she was busy before imposing myself.

My friend had a few lovely words to say, and then she was in her car on the way to pick me up.

Instantly, I felt relief. At the time, I believe there were probably too many overwhelming feelings to really work out how I felt about the whole thing other than the obvious fact that I was no longer in that spiral. Maybe just sharing my problem was enough, maybe knowing that I had friends who cared this deeply about me was enough to quell the disturbing and incorrect assumptions I’d been making about myself. Either way, it was the first time I reached out to someone when I thought I never could – but it definitely wasn’t the last.

There is a huge difference between the person who called her friend that night, and the person that I am today. Back then I didn’t know that I have a personality disorder, and I definitely didn’t know how to cope with those debilitating beliefs that felt so real. I had no idea that I could feel something so strongly, and believe it so firmly – and accept at the very same time that it was not true. How many times had I convinced myself that people who loved me actually didn’t?

I’m rambling again (when don’t I?).

It’s only really been in the last day or so since talking to someone about being able to ‘reach out for help’ that I’ve begun to think about the meaning of the phrase. It’s not about asking someone else to take away your pain, or expecting them to have an answer to all your problems, and I assure you it is certainly not about attention seeking!

Asking for help is about knowing that you are not alone. It is about breaking whatever cycle you fall into. It is definitely not easy, but we all know that nothing worth doing IS.

These days I have learned to recognise those ‘trigger thoughts’ when they rear their ugly heads, and most of the time I can dismiss them. If that doesn’t work, I know there are several people who are only a phone call, e-mail, text message or IM away who will make me feel better again. I tend to pose the issue to people differently, depending on who they are – but I know I only have to say the words ‘I’m really struggling today’, and it’s enough to put a stop to the thoughts.

Please remember, if you feel like you can’t talk to your friends or family about how you’re feeling there are support services out there, run by people who want to help. In the UK you can contact the Samaritans at any time of the day by phone or email for free.

 

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Taking pride!

Something I’ve found very difficult for as long as I can remember is taking pride in myself, and the things I can do.

This last fortnight has been a bit of a test, to be quite honest – but I think that I’ve done a good job of getting on with the workload. Mostly, I just wanted to share some pictures of the almost-end product.

bedroom - 1

This is what the bedroom looked like when I first signed for the flat. It looked like there would be a lot of work involved and admittedly a lot of ‘person’ hours have been put into making it look better. The walls have been sanded, the skirting board and windowsill have been sanded. The curtain poles have been purchased and stuck up, the radiator has been cleaned and brushed. The walls, skirting, and pipes have been painted!

Right now, it looks like this:

bedroom - 2

There’s still quite a bit of work to be done. I’d like to CHOP or hide the wires in that corner there, and some parts of the wall could do with a touch up after some mishaps with the gloss. The carpet will be fitted on Tuesday, and then in a week I’m hoping to ship some furniture into the room. Then the finishing touch SHOULD just be a lampshade!

I’m really excited about the whole flat as a project. It’s exciting to have something to work on, but it’s a little daunting to think that I’ll have to deal with a bit of chaos for a while. I definitely thrive best when things are ‘just so’, but I’m also well aware that it’s going to be a while before things feel like they’re in the right place – but it’s also really exciting because I know I can do whatever I want with the place!

2018 is gonna start soon, and it’s going to be awesome. =D

 

 

It’s Christmas!

Here it is, obligatory ‘Happy Christmas’ post from me to you.

It’s currently ALMOST 1am, and I’m sat listening to Christmas songs whilst April puts the last finishing touches to Lilly-Mae’s doll house.

I love being surrounded by the kinds of people that don’t mind doing things for other, people who trust each other and don’t mind accepting help. Hannah’s worked so hard this year to get everything ‘just right’ and I think it’s important to remember that we all have people who can be there for us whether we like it or not and whether we find it easy to accept that help or not. It’s a lesson I think we all have to learn sometimes – and I do wonder if there generally two different types of people, those who struggle to accept help and people who expect it.

ANYWAY. I digress. As I so often do.

This was supposed to be an opportunity to reflect on the last year – as so many people do this time of year.

It’s not been a terribly easy year, but not for the usual reasons. Generally speaking I’ve felt much calmer about most things. ‘Stuff’ doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, whether that’s because of the medication or because I’ve had a change in the way I look at life I don’t know (and it’s likely I’ll never know!) but it’s nice to recognise a difference in myself so clearly.

Families for a lot of people are a complicated thing, but I tend to find that mine is quite simple. My Granny has two sisters, and we have this tradition of visiting them in the run up to Christmas. This year we’ve had a lot more to talk about than usual, which is nice – between university, getting a flat, and my Dad’s new job there’s plenty of good news for everyone. There was a point when I felt that my Dad didn’t want me to keep talking anymore, sometimes I’m not sure what people want to hear or whether they want to listen when I talk about my mental health – but all I know is that I’m pretty much open and honest about all aspects of it. It’s a common theme through most of this year, actually. I couldn’t say how many people have mentioned the fact that I’m open about having Borderline, and equally how many people have said things like ‘Well you don’t act at all like you have a— you know‘ as if somehow I need to be acting a certain way all the time.

Perhaps it all comes back to this idea that one person can make a difference. If I can make one person see people with personality disorders in a different way then I’ve done something that will benefit someone else somewhere along the line.

2018 is definitely going to be an exciting one! That’s for sure. There’s a lot of work to do between now and the middle of January. I’m still trying to work out quite how I balance uni work and painting but it looks like this Wednesday is going to be a fun one. I’m just generally looking forward to things again. Life is good. ^^;

Be good to yourselves, be kind to each other, forgive, take a moment to swallow your own pride and have respect for the pride of others too. Be open, open minded, honest and reliable! If you make a commitment, try and stick to it. If you can’t do something, don’t promise to do it!

Much love.

~Ollie. x

Prioritising

It’s a word I struggle with, definitely not because I don’t understand the concept! I find it quite easy to make decisions about what should come first and which is more important – but there are times when it feels that there’s something else that’s supposed to be going on there.

Okay, so I’m mostly thinking about the situation that I’m in at the moment.

Last week, after my last seminar on Friday of that week I had made my decision! With FOUR WEEKS of freedom, I was going to manage a schedule of uni work, socialising and video games alongside the usual eating/sleeping routine that comes to easily to me.

So, on Tuesday when I got a call to say that there was a flat to go and look at, my priorities were suddenly shifted dramatically. I cannot describe to you the excitement I felt at being offered a flat. It’s something for a whole different post about independence and living on my own and having my own space and trying to work out which colours I want to grace the walls with – but for right now I have two very ‘important’ conflicting priorities.

Christmas of course went out the window. Suddenly my world is confined to painting and decorating. At first I knew that I needed to tackle the issue head on. There was only one thing I needed to do and that was DECORATE. I needed to clean, scrub, sand, paint, plan. What do I need? What do I have? What can I live without for a while? Where should I get this where can I get that? Quite frankly my thoughts have been chasing me in circles all week and I’m only just beginning to feel like I know what the correct approach is.

I just want to focus on how I’ve felt this week.

As soon as I found out that I could move in, it’s been my one goal. As if there is nothing else standing in my way. Everything I did from now until the flat was ready to move in had to be something which moved me closer toward that end goal. It’s a lot to take in, moving is such big business and when you move in to your own place for the first time LET ME TELL YOU IF YOU DON’T KNOW, it’s more than a little overwhelming. I forgot how daunting it can be to tackle everything all at once, I’ve managed the bills before now – and even managed them for a house of several peoples. That’s nothing new, but I think somewhere along the way I forgot about all this ‘adult’ business and suddenly it feels big and imposing.

I told myself that before university started again, I had to be living there with everything ‘just so’, and with at least enough time to get settled in and comfortable!

Honestly, I’m not sure when I realised that this was an unreasonable and frankly ridiculous goal. Today has offered me a break from ‘the flat’, although I did pop by with my Dad & co this afternoon, just so that they could see it first hand and perhaps knowing that they’re all very keen to chip in and lend a hand makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing.

Again, I forget my own advise as I realise that writing about the thing causing me such stress has helped to realign priorities and re-evaluate their weight.

Yes, it would be great to be able to move in over the next two weeks and have everything shiny and new and exciting but actually there are more important things going on here.

After my ‘tiny’ meltdown last term, it’s safe to say that if there’s a way to reduce the chances of that, I want to grasp at them. I started making a habit of writing down the weekly tasks that we’re given in a notebook and then putting a corresponding amount of marbles in a glass to denote each task so that there is a visual representation of the work load. It’s not that I’d forgotten about it – it just became less important to me when my only goal was GET THIS ASSIGNMENT WRITTEN, but a clean start is always a good thing in my opinion and getting that list written out has definitely helped me to reevaluate my current priorities as well as deciding to get a blog post done!

There is NO WAY that I would be able to temper the excitement I have about moving home, but I’m sincerely hoping that instead of focussing fully on preparing the flat, I can find a balance between these two REALLY important things and work out a way to evenly spread my time between the two things. It’s definitely not something I’m good at – and it’s difficult sometimes to know if that’s just a product of who I am, or it’s something that’s controlled by the black and white thinking that comes with having borderline.

A lot of people that I’ve talked to about time management and organisation try to help by offering advice about breaking up your time, setting yourself small goals and rewarding yourself when you meet them. It’s safe to say I have NEVER accomplished anything by doing that. Seriously, I wish it was easier to do an hours work and then reward myself with 15 minutes of gaming time (or something similar) but I much prefer to work at something until I can’t stand it any more and then wait until the next time I feel like working. Sometimes that can be half an hour later, or after I’ve made myself something to eat and cuddled the cat, sometimes it’s not until the next day.

We all work in different ways, and I’m starting to think that this is just another one of those barriers that I’m going to have to face and overcome. Finding balance between two things, and forfeiting my own desires is NOT easy. No one ever said that it was, of course, but I know that if I want to succeed, I’m going to have to start now.

In conclusion; write stuff down, write stuff down, and write stuff down. It helps!

How University kicked my ass (and other things)

It feels like forever since I last thought about notjustdepression.com, and I’m really pleased to say that I DON’T feel guilty about it.

The decision to go back to university was not an easy one, and it really hasn’t been easy. Lately, a lot of people have been reminding me that I didn’t exactly pick the ‘easiest’ subject to work toward a degree in, but I’m definitely not regretting or second guessing my decision. Law has been fascinating. This year my modules are Legal Systems and Skills, Constitutional & Administrative Law, Contract Law and Tort Law.

It’s a pretty good feeling to be able to say in full confidence that I’m actually interested by all the topics (although there are days when some of the stuff feels like I’m being taught how to suck eggs. Here’s looking at all the lectures about being an ‘adult’.) My friends have been inundated with facts and interesting cases and the occasional (frequent) frustrating reminder about whatever thing I’ve learnt that week.

Coping with University Life has NOT been easy though. I never thought it would be, and I knew that there would come a point when things fell apart and they did, but you know what? I got through it!

About four weeks ago I started coming down with something. At first, I really had no idea. I knew that I was drained. My mental health took a rapid dive and I started struggling to get out of bed (even on days when I’d slept for HOURS and didn’t have lectures until later in the day). I realised about two days later that it probably had something to do with the cough I developed, the cough which evolved into a cold which made me feel gross, and achy and tired and uninterested. It took a lot of effort to come out of the other side, and with two deadlines on the horizon I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope, actually.

So, I thought about it rationally. Yes, it was important to attend all my lectures and seminars and get the work done for them – but if there was a toss up between seminar work and ASSIGNMENT work, there was a clear winner to be noticed here. Although I’m not proud of the (almost) two weeks that I spent either procrastinating or playing Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 – I am proud of the fact that I managed to suck it all up, take a deep breath, prioritise and get my assignments handed in ON TIME.

Right now, as of this minute, right here where I’m sat I feel good. Yes, that’s probably got a lot to do with the fact that I now have FOUR WEEKS of freedom, but I feel ready to tackle the problems I faced in my first term head on. This was always going to be a new experience, and a difficult one – but it was important right from the start to make sure that I appreciated that. There’s a big difference between knowing that things will be hard, and making allowances TO YOURSELF for that. I’m glad that I was able to be kind to me, and I’m grateful for the awesome people around me for helping with that.

I had friends (and my Dad!) on the other end of the phone to remind me that I can do this. Thank you to the friends who had to listen to me rant about the work load without reminding me that ‘Duh, you’re doing a Law degree, what did you expect?’ Frankly, I was telling myself that a lot anyway. I recognise that I have an awesome support network around me. (So thank you!!!)

This term has taught me a lot of things, and I know that there’s plenty more I need to work on for myself to be able to make the next 5 terms easier, and get the best out of myself and this degree. I’ve already made a pact with the Wellbeing Centre that I will drop in on them more often – and I hope that by doing that it might help me overcome this notion I have that other people need ‘the time/the help/the support’ more than I do.

 

Yes I have a cashflow problem!

After taking a look through some of the debate videos Facebook had to offer us the other day, I came across an incredibly interesting comment made by Dominic Raab.

He suggested that people who used Food Banks might have a ‘cashflow’ problem.

Obviously, there was a lot of outrage, and I could have gone on about it on my Facebook page but I decided that seeing as I’m fortunate enough to live with a friend who charges me far less rent than she should do I am not one of those people living on the poverty line.

I DID just want to take a minute to point out that Yes. Yes we DO have a cashflow problem. You want to see the maths? Okay.

Trying to work out the costings for an ‘average’ person isn’t easy, but for arguments sake I’ve gone to Right Move, found the cheapest currently available ROOM in a house share.

So we’re looking at £217 per month. Great! Well, that’s cheap! It’s bills included too, so there’s no need to worry about that. Will the council pay that much? Let’s see. £217 for twelve months divided by 52. That’s £50 a week, and thankfully, the local government are definitely going to give you that much to cover it.

So, that’s it right?

Ah, not quite. Let’s take another look at the fees listed here…

Fees.png

Hold on, hold on. What am I reading here?

Single occupancy from £85 per week

So actually you’re going to charge me £85 because I don’t have someone to share with? Here’s the sad news, guys. Suddenly we’re going to have an issue with the housing benefit, aren’t we?

What’s the Local Housing Allowance in Lincoln anyway?

LHA.png

Oh.

Well, I suppose – when you include the fact that the bills are all included I suppose I probably would have to use some of the benefits I get from Job Seeker’s Allowance toward the rent!

Job Seekers get £79.10 a week, so I now have £53 to live on for the week.

I mean, that is of course assuming that I already LIVE in this house share, because if I don’t, I really don’t fancy those fees. Well. Recurring fees. Renewal of tenancy? Is this a 6 month or a 12 month contract? Does it roll? Let’s say for the sake of this post that I have a 12 month contract – I need to keep back £5 a week to be able to afford the £60 Renewal Fee.

So now I have £48 a week to live on.

Okay, but I also have a pet. Why do I have a pet? Well, to be honest I sometimes feel like I need him. There are plenty of studies that suggest that pets are great for people with mental health related problems and I know he’s been amazing for me so I’m factoring this in too.

Figaro is insured. Of course he is! What kind of irresponsible pet owner would I be if I didn’t ensure that I had something to fall back on in case he got really sick? He’s not just my pet – he’s a member of my family. It’s me & Fig now. Anyway, okay – how much are you paying for that, Ollie dearest? £10.39 a month? Well, it’s only £2.39 a week.

Yeah, but he’s also got Pet Plan. You know. I can’t really afford the cost of vaccinations and medications and health checks. That’s £14.50 a month. It’s only £3.34 a week. No big deal!!

Okay, but what does he eat? Well, he is rather partial to wet food – so I try, when I can, to but Felix when it’s on offer. Usually… I can get 44 packs for about £10. He has one pack a day, which is 22p, times by 7 is £1.54 but he also has dry food! Which is a little more expensive because the little bugger is a rescue he likes Royal Canin, but I can get it pretty cheap online and it lasts 130. So, I’ll buy a bag of 10kg which is £44.19 and it lasts 130 days which averages out at about 33p a day. Another £2.31 a week.

The cat costs me just under a tenner a week. £9.58 if we’re going to be picky.

Which means that I now have £38.42 left.

At the moment, I’m volunteering three times a week at a local community centre. Generally, I get a lift into town once a week, but other than that I get the bus twice a week. A single into town is £2.30, which means I spend £4.60 on bus fares. No, I don’t get the bus back I WALK. Miracle of miracles.

£33.82

I also pay £10 a month to the peer support group I go to.

£31.50

Yeah, I could probably live on that much. As long as I never eat take away, never want new clothes, shoes, books, dvds, or general entertainment. As long as my friends don’t mind me not buying them cards or presents for any occasion – at least I have an excuse if I forget!

Did I mention that this is as long as I’m already living in that shared house? Otherwise I have to find £400 from somewhere.

Friends.

I am not good at friends.

I have friends, and then they stop being friends and they float away. I never know what to say, and I never know what to do. I’m not good at small talk, I’d much rather learn my friend’s opinions on whatever topic it is that means a lot to them – or that one thing we have in common that ‘keeps us together’.

Those brief comments over Facebook make me yearn to be back in a place where we were talking day in, day out – but it never comes again because we all move on.

Now, it seems that the only friends I really ‘see’ as friends are the ones right in front of me. Whether we see each other once a week or once a month.

It hurts that I feel like I don’t belong to people anymore. I want to be a part of my friend’s lives, and I hate that I cannot manage the balance between here and there. Here is obviously right now, in the forefront, constantly aware of everything that’s going on in their lives, and there is something distant and obscure when you stop being a part of their every day world.

Logically, it’s easy to understand that there simply aren’t enough days in a week to maintain a close relationship as you once had – and that actually, even though you’re apart from one another that bond is still strong.

I want to believe that the friends I haven’t seen for weeks, months, or years still think of me the way that I think of them. I love a lot of people, for all kinds of reasons and in varying amounts but they all have a piece of my heart whether I really want them to have it or not.

I think about you, more often than I’d like to admit.

Challenging Personality

One thing that has never failed to really upset me – is when people challenge a part of my personality.

It’s difficult enough when you’re growing up to work out just who you are, and when people challenge the tidbits of your personality that you feel sure about it’s incredibly frustrating, and demoralising.

I find that having a personality disorder sometimes means that parts of my personality are twisted and re-shaped. I know that it takes a lot to wind me up, but there are days when on top of all the outside influences that I cannot control, I’m prone to making steps to wind myself up.

I believe that I have a lot of patience with children, and having spent a lot of time working in a school for children with all kinds of special needs, a lot of people believe that must be true. This is something that I challenge every time I think about it. My therapist asked me to make a list of things I like about myself, which at the time felt like a mammoth task. For every one item on the list, I could think of about three reasons why it didn’t belong on there.

Second guessing myself is something I’ve been doing subconsciously for as long as I can remember. I was the kid in class who would only put their hand up if they KNEW the answer 100%. I had to be right, because to be wrong would be a reflection of who I am. I wanted to be the child who could ask questions and give answers without feeling the heavy weight of failure not in the eyes of my peers or my teacher – but me.

I don’t like to be wrong. One of the only times you can get me to shut up is when I’m challenged by an opposing opinion that I do not know enough about. I’m keen to learn, but pride keeps me from asking the questions to help do just that – which I’m not proud about. I believe in bettering myself, and will keep trying to find the strength to do things when it feels like my entire body is frozen to the spot but it’s only a reflection of the fear I feel.

One of the hardest questions I’ve been asked at a job interview is the age-old “How would your friends describe you?” I used to think that the never ending yo-yoing of my personality was down to being a Gemini, and whenever horoscopes come up there always seems to be a debate at hand, but for a long time I ‘believed’ in my star sign and gravitated toward people who also accepted this view of personalities.

It’s a great example actually, of how things used to seem. On the topic of horoscopes and star signs I was incredibly flexible. Remembering the ‘list’ of people in my head that I could admit to ‘being a Gemini’ around and the people with whom it would result in some kind of severance of our friendship because of.

I’m *pretty sure* that being a Gemini and having Borderline is a coincidence, I have a lot of traits from both of these things and I identify completely with both of them as labels, but they don’t define me.

No one can be defined by any single label, it’s just not possible. Even bread has a bazillion different forms and I don’t think any two bread loaves are the same! (It’s not even anecdotal evidence, so sue me. Anyway.)

In my mind, I believe I’m the only one who can truly challenge my personality. There have been plenty of times when someone has told me something about myself, whether it be positive or negative (and from whose perspective! “was that a compliment?” springs to mind), but when all is said and done it’s only me who can decide whether to believe in them or not. Which is both a good and bad thing at the same time, isn’t it? No amount of someone telling me that I need to stop being so loud is going to make me stop being loud, but equally no amount of people telling me that I’m a caring person is going to make me believe that it’s true.

Bettering myself is how I’ve coped with the world, and myself. I’ve been able to reflect on the things I have said and done, and looking back I know there are a lot of things that have changed because of that self-awareness. (The self-awareness that was only made aware to me by other people mentioning it.)

We *are* most often, only going to listen to the comments that we want to hear. The ones that don’t mess with the status-quo or threaten to destabilise our entire mental picture of ourselves, but it’s certainly important sometimes to consider the things we don’t quite understand about ourselves.

My personality is mine, and knowing that I have a weird ability to shape it is probably one of the more positive things about being a person with Borderline. Not that it’s possible to wake up tomorrow with a completely new, hip outlook on life, it will take time as it always does but knowing that it is completely possible is pleasing to me.

When is a Vegan not a Vegan?

Whilst working in a hostel in Melbourne, I had the pleasure to meet someone who opened my eyes and changed my life forever. He helped educate me about the environmental impacts of the mass-production of meat, and eventually I came to the conclusion that I just couldn’t ‘do it’ anymore.

I didn’t eat another animal product until I left Australia.

The main thing that I personally take away from being a vegan, and claiming to be vegan is that I intend to do the least harm possible. I don’t just avoid eating animal products, but I check out the things that I use and buy and do to make sure that what I am doing is in the best interests of everybody involved in the making and production of it.

I envision a world where people are paid fairly, live well, and are happy. I try to buy fair trade products where I can, and shop in charity stores, I try to buy local, I consider the impacts of my decisions. It’s not easy, but I find a sense of victory in knowing that even if I am only one person – my actions over a length of time will do *something* to impact on the bigger picture.

Since changing my views, I’ve started following others who think the same way. There are Facebook groups and blogs of plenty of people with plenty of ideas but very often there are very clear, polar opposite opinions between them.

Understanding the strong feelings of the vegan who is strict enough in their beliefs that they refuse to eat somewhere that sells animal products is to me, just as important as the vegan who says that they ‘are vegan except for cheese’. I’m pretty sure that publicly these two people come across very different, but the main point is that they are both trying in some way to make a difference.

In this day and age when there is so much hate that it feels like pouring water on the fire of it will only make it burn stronger we really need to take a step back and think about why we let our differences separate us so much.

In the case of the vegan who eats cheese – I can only think that a backlash of hate from others telling them that they cannot claim to be ‘vegan’ whilst they consciously choose to eat cheese is only going to be detrimental to their overall choice. I know I personally cannot afford to buy ‘vegan certified’ trainers, and I certainly don’t know whether the ones I have been wearing the last six months contain animal glue or not – but I personally feel it doesn’t make me any less vegan.

It’s about doing the least harm possible. Causing the least damage to our world by supporting a belief that many people hold.

Personally, I know a few people who have lived on, or grown up on farms where the animals they care for are well-treated and looked after – and ultimately live a long life. Unfortunately, whether it be the explosion of our population or the huge demand for animal products, we live in a world where to sustain ‘our’ habits as a populous that there’s a need for factory farming and other practices that make me want to *cry*.

There are of course extreme ends of all scales.

Here in the UK, I have the freedom to choose from a huge array of shops that offer a range of products to fulfil all my dietary needs. Whilst I was living with my Mum & Step Dad on the peninsula of Alaska I didn’t really have much choice about what I was going to eat – so to be able to go out fishing and catch my dinner was actually a pretty rewarding feeling.

Due to my own nature, and my perception of how vegans I know would react to this – it’s not usually something I talk about. When people ask me ‘How long have you been vegan?’ I actually struggle with the answer. For three months of my life was I not vegan? Did I just work out how many months it had been since I first went vegan and take three away? Do I add up the days and take away that day when I was nearly sick from hunger and ate a cheese sandwich to make sure I didn’t faint?

I still believed in my cause. I feel incredibly difficult emotions over it, and thanks to ‘the way my brain likes to work’ I could even let myself feel so upset about my decisions in those moments that I could abandon all hope of ever being the person I ‘want’ to be and take an extremely different path to the future.

Saying yes, I have been vegan for almost two years is far from a lie as far as I’m concerned. During the entirety of those two years I will have always consciously thought about the things I buy, and because I am human like everyone else who will read this – it’s safe to say that occasionally mistakes will be made. It’s just important not to feel overwhelmed when you do, consciously or subconsciously.

 

Splitting

It hurts. We know it’s not just us that it’s hurting too – but it happens for reasons that more often than not, we don’t even understand.

For an impossibly long time, I realised that here and there I’d been developing personal vendettas against people in my friends groups. I began to detest them, and grow agitated by the slightest thing that they would say and do.

Some of these people had never meant anything more to me than someone with whom I was acquainted, usually due to mutual friends. Of course, there was always the potential for more to come of our friendships – but instead of fostering those friendships, for whatever reason, subconsciously I chose to keep them at a distance.

I can be cold, judgmental and harsh about their every single move, detail and decision.

Being the introspective, self-aware thing that I believe I am – over time I’ve put this down to some very complex and difficult concepts. I once managed to convince myself that the reason I so despised these people was because there was some part of them that I saw as ‘negative’, but worse than that – I believed it was a reflection of who I was. That one personality trait we shared, that I found to be so ugly was too difficult to come to terms with so I chose to hate that person, rather than try to come to terms with it.

The other conclusion, was that the person whom I directed so much of my frustrations on actually deserved those feelings because of some kind of negative attitude. I cannot count the number of times when I’ve felt frustrated about someone’s situation – and equally felt powerless to offer them any support or guidance because, and isn’t that the nature of people, they are their own person and can do what they want with their lives.

Sometimes, I feel like I care too much. I know that I have a lot of love to give, and I love a lot of people – and I’m working on the acceptance that I am a compassionate, caring person.

Splitting is difficult. Equally so when it directly challenges my belief that I am the person I want to believe I am.

I have days when I know that every little thing someone does is going to make me mad, and I feel completely powerless to stop it. Things frustrate me, sometimes the smallest things and for whatever reason ‘letting go’ of those things is impossible, or at least it feels that way. I constantly strive to make sure I will see the day when I am able to take control of those feelings and turn them on their head. This disorder might have directed my life for this long but I am determined to prove that there are ways to accomplish what sound impossible.