Amor Fati: The Two Words That Changed My Life

I’m quite nervous about posting this blog – it’s not a blog like my others where I give advice on something concerning mental health, it’s instead a part of my life which, after 4 years to this day, I haven’t really ever confronted. So I’m writing this blog as a means of coming to terms with my past and hoping that in doing so, it will be therapeutic to me in a way. And if at the same time it shows readers that they’re never alone and that there is hope out there for all of us, then that’s an added bonus.

TW: Suicide, eating disorders, addiction

Four years ago today, I was 17 years old and in second year of university, literally only two weeks away from celebrating my 18th birthday. Yet I was suicidal. Four years ago at the time that I’m currently writing this, I decided that I wanted to in fact stay alive, and this day is probably the most pivotal moment in my life so far. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in October 2015 (although I had been struggling with mental health for far longer than that), and on November 4th my depression had gotten so bad that I had seriously thought about ending my life. I couldn’t live with myself anymore, I had lost those close to me through struggling to cope with my mental health by using alcohol, bulimia, drugs and smoking weed as a coping mechanism. I was very rarely sober, I would go partying almost every night to get intoxicated to numb the pain and go home with a stranger to help take away such strong feelings of loneliness – and I eventually became so ashamed of my behaviour that I could no longer live with myself. I was falling behind on uni work, not turning up to classes because I was too depressed or anxious, and I just generally felt like a failure. I had thought about suicide a lot, but didn’t want to act on it until I was certain that there was nothing else out there which would make me want to stay. So I thought of one happy place, and if that place couldn’t save me, then nothing else would.

The night before I went to kill myself, I had written out all of my suicide notes, and my heart was hurting so much. I think a part of me always knew that deep down I wasn’t ready to leave this Earth. One person in particular was really hard to write the suicide note to – my flatmate/best friend who felt like a sister. Her cousin had killed himself after a high school exam, I was in Poland with her when she had seen his gravestone for the first time, and something she said kept echoing in my head: “if you could see your own funeral, you would never kill yourself.” After seeing how heartbroken she was seeing the gravestone of a cousin she hadn’t spoken to much until shortly before his death, how could I do that to her as one of her closest friends?
I had told my family that I was going to Aviemore (my happy place) a few days in advance, just so that if they never heard from me they’d at least know where I was. Things weren’t great between me and my family – my dad was the only one who I seemed to have a good relationship with at that time. He phoned me the night before to chat before I went to bed because we’d talk over the phone at least once a week, but that phone call was the hardest. My dad isn’t the sort of person to say how he feels, to show any sort of emotion or vulnerability, so when after chatting for a few minutes he asked me when I was next home and I said that I didn’t know, he said that he was really missing me, and it was so hard to hide the fact that I was crying so much at that because I didn’t want him to know that I was struggling, and certainly felt guilty about wanting to kill myself after he said that.

The next morning I left my suicide notes on my bed, took one last look at my room then headed straight to McDonalds to get a double sausage and egg McMuffin along with hash browns and loads of other junk food there as I thought that this would be the last chance I’d ever get to eat them. (Wasn’t vegan at this point obviously!) I’d gotten on the train and I instantly felt a deep melancholy when the train went by my student halls and Stirling, as it felt weird that I wouldn’t be seeing it again. The train journey was so magical, and it just felt great to see somewhere new and go someplace by myself, yet it wasn’t enough to make me want to stay.

Aviemore was my happy place because my family and I had spent a week in a campervan around Scotland and it was the last holiday we had together as a family. It was also where I went with some friends and an asshole of an ex the summer prior, and it was only when I got away from my ex (found out that he cheated on me there – a few hours after he was comparing my butt to my friend’s while walking to a lake – who does that?) I then found the lake with my best friend at that time without him and his friend, and I had felt so free and happy even then, so it seemed fitting to go to a place that brought me joy even though I was having a bad time.

When I got to Aviemore I instantly felt a feeling I hadn’t felt in a looong time – happiness! I got the bus to Nethybridge and was the only one on it for the whole 20 minute journey so I was talking to the super friendly bus driver pretending to be a French tourist (fellow language geeks will know what I’m talking about!) and it was starting to become clearer to me that with taking a step back from university and routine, I was starting to find my happiness again. Before I was badly depressed I was such a social butterfly: I was so bubbly and happy-go-lucky, speaking other languages or speaking to people from different cultures always made me feel so high on life. However my depression caused me to retreat into myself – I seldom socialised and had totally lost my passion for languages – so pretending to be French like before and chatting away to the bus driver was the first indication that things were looking up. When I got off the bus the air instantly felt so fresh – it was nothing like the air in Glasgow or Stirling! I then walked by where I had stayed with my friends and through the forest where my ex was throwing sweets at me because I wasn’t reacting to him comparing my friend’s butt with mine – how mature (!) From reliving weird memories like this, I was able to have some well needed alone time with my thoughts, and for the first 2-3 hours of the walk I was still so set on killing myself, but was finding myself more torn as time went on.

Then there was one part of the walk that just seemed to change everything. The walk was all forest and flat land until this point, so when I left the forest to find such a vast area of space with nothing but huge hills and mountains surrounding me, I went into hysterics of both crying and laughter. It was like this huge weight had literally been lifted off of my shoulders but the fact that it had been lifted gave me such anxiety because I had become so used to how it felt. I just began to spin around in circles laughing and happy crying at the sky because I felt like it was so stupid of me to want to kill myself when there is so much more to life than university. I had to take a seat because I was so overwhelmed that it made me so dizzy, but there I spent about 15 minutes looking at the mountains in such confusion and wonder, amazed at how just being around mountains made me realise how insignificant both myself and my problems were in the grand scheme of things. (Not in the sense that my life/living doesn’t matter, but more so the fact I had let university and my life’s issues get me down so much when the answer to happiness was in front of me all along: nature).

The place that changed everything – no photo would ever give the feeling any justice though! Had never felt such emancipation like that until that moment.

So it was at that moment that I went from around 80% set on ending everything to around 10% sure – I wanted to wait until I arrived at the exact spot where I was going to kill myself before deciding for sure. My plan was to go to the bench by the lake and overdose on painkillers and antidepressants washed down with a bottle of vodka, but when I got to the lake, its beautiful dark green colour made me forget that that was even on my mind. I sat there for like half an hour, no longer thinking about any of the problems going on in my life, but simply just marvelling at the beauty of everything around me. Such simple things like the colour of the lake and the patterns it would make in the wind, the sound of the wind making the leaves on the trees rustle, the warm autumnal colours of the leaves against a grey sky, the darkness starting to creep in but was still light enough to see, which gave off a very ethereal, mystical feeling which made me feel at peace as there was a stillness to everything surrounding me. Such simple things that I had never really appreciated on that level until then. I then sat with my medication in one hand and the vodka in the other, and just began to laugh at myself, that I was going to leave such beauty behind all because of university. I got rid of the vodka and put away my medication, as I had no desire to take them and in turn leave this life anymore.

I headed back and put in my earphones – I was practically skipping all the way back! I couldn’t stop smiling so much from ear to ear, and the songs I listened to at that very moment still give me chills to this day, and immediately take me back to that environment and the feelings I had. One of the songs was called Amor Fati by Washed Out, and when I was on the bus back to the town centre I googled what it means as well as the song’s lyrics: “Amor fati is a Latin phrase that may be translated as ‘love of fate’. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary.” And I began to see my whole life journey as fate: maybe I just had to get to a point so low to put into perspective what really mattered, and the things that really mattered were a lot simpler than I would’ve thought. So I began to live my life that way – every incident, no matter how big, small, good or bad, as something that will undoubtedly push me in the right direction to where I want to be. I felt like I had been through some sort of awakening or rebirth; it’s really a feeling that I can’t even put into words. I now strongly believe that if I hadn’t gone to Aviemore that day and in that mindset, it’s highly likely that I wouldn’t be vegan, or recovered entirely from unhealthy eating habits, and would probably still struggle with addiction to some extent. I believe that I had to go through such hardship in order to come out of it as a totally different person today.

I didn’t have any food with me and only had around £3 as I didn’t plan on coming back at all, so when I went to the town centre afterwards to find food, I was blessed with such a simple act of human kindness but because of the day I had, it meant the world and was like the icing on the cake for me. I was going from pub to pub trying to find some food with the very little money I had, and after trying several different places I finally landed at a place called MacDui’s. I explained to them that I had lost my friends on a hike (obviously couldn’t explain the real reason why I was there!) and they recommended me the haggis, neeps and tatties as it was the cheapest on the menu. I was able to charge my phone, warm up and they even gave me tea and biscuits free of charge. We chatted for a while and by the time I finished the meal and went to pay for it, they gave me it for free; all they asked for in return was for me to write them a good review! I then left for my train with a heart that had never felt so full, and thanks to their kindness I was able to see that there is so much good and so many good people in the world! With depression it was so easy for me to dwell on the bad (and sometimes I still do!), but there is far more good in the world than there is evil.

On the train home I was sat behind two people speaking Spanish, and I immediately got so excited hearing a foreign language being spoken that I just joined in speaking Spanish. They were very clearly not in the mood to talk, but I was just in such an incredible mood that I didn’t bother stopping – they even moved carriages at one point which normally would bother me as I’m very self aware, but I felt so on top of the world that I couldn’t stop smiling so much despite that! Speaking with strangers and not picking up on the vibe that they don’t want to talk isn’t something I ever do, so I can’t help but laugh about it looking back – was like a ‘Donkey being annoying in the carriage in Shrek 2’ sort of moment.

When I got home the first thing I did was see my flatmate (he’s one of these people that feels like a sibling because we’re that close) and gave him the biggest hug and I had never felt so happy to see him, I was so happy to see my other flatmates and my halls again too! I then got rid of my suicide notes and felt like I had come back a totally different person – I’d never felt so happy to be alive! And that was the day that set the motions for how I’d live the rest of my life up until now. From then until around March I gradually weaned myself off of my medication and resorted to more natural methods (vegan diet and lots of time in nature), I began to drink, smoke and party a lot less until April and I overcame my struggle with bulimia not too long after then as well. My 18th birthday was 2 weeks after I had come back from Aviemore, and I had so many friends there that it really hit me that I would’ve left them all behind had I acted on my depression, and it’s for that reason that I say that that night is the best night of my life. I know that for some people mental illness can win the battle with suicide so for that reason I feel extremely grateful that I was able to push myself to find the very thing that I didn’t know I needed, which saved me in the end. Looking back now, it’s scary to think of all the amazing experiences and incredible people I would’ve missed out on if I had killed myself. I wouldn’t have met my boyfriend, graduated university with a first class degree despite everything, or travel the world which is my passion.

For every year that passed after the 4th November 2015 until now, I tried to treat it like any other day. I’d push it to the back of my mind as I didn’t want to go back there. Today has been the first time I’ve sat down and confronted my past, by writing this blog but also by taking a moment to feel grateful for every single thing in my life today no matter how big or small, as it served as a reminder of something that I would’ve lost entirely had I killed myself. When the sky was getting dark today I played the songs from that moment and it took me back there, and I wish I could’ve just given 17 year old me the biggest hug ever. I wasn’t able to go to Aviemore today like I wanted, as I haven’t been able to walk for around 6 weeks now due to an accident in Italy, which has also had serious impacts on my mental health, but although I couldn’t physically relive things today, I’m glad I was able to emotionally. Even though I still have bad days where I feel annoyed and frustrated at the fact that my leg and foot got 2nd degree burns on the first day of the well-needed holiday that I bought myself as a graduation present for getting through 5 years of absolute hell, I’m thankful that the mindset I gained while in Aviemore is still present- that I am taking all the bad days and moments as a necessary part of life to help get me to where I want to be in life, even though the reason is presently unclear to me.

Amor fati.

Night Routine For A Great Night’s Sleep (+Anxiety Relief)

Due to the busy and stressful lives that many of us lead, it can be hard to follow a night time routine when feeling so exhausted. Sometimes there are nights where I’ve had such a busy or tiring day that I want nothing more than to just curl up into bed without having a routine, but this always seems to affect how my morning is the next day. So although this routine isn’t what I do every single night, it’s still super important to do even a few things that I’d consider essential for having a good night’s sleep. In order for my morning routine to work (will link at bottom of the blog), I usually find that I need to have a night time routine before.

There was a point in my life where I actually thought that I had insomnia because there were nights where I couldn’t get to sleep until no earlier than 5am, but I realised that I had been doing literally everything wrong (for example I’d have a cup of English tea, sit on my phone until falling asleep hours later, or even go for a walk!) But then I was later diagnosed with anxiety in 2015 and realised that that was actually why I was struggling to get to sleep. So I often find that this routine greatly helps with relieving me of my anxiety.

1. Shower/Bath

  • Although showers are said to wake you up, I personally find that going to bed knowing that I’m clean helps me to sleep. I used Lush’s Sleepy Naked Shower Gel so that having a shower doesn’t wake me up too much before bed, and I always shower at the start of my night time routine so that I’m more relaxed by the time I’m ready for bed.
  • https://uk.lush.com/products/sleepy-naked-shower-gel – It’s zero waste and comes in the shape of a shower bottle!

2. Hygiene

  • As I said, going to bed knowing that I’m clean really helps relax me for the night. After drying myself once I’ve had a shower, I like to use Lush’s Sleepy body lotion https://uk.lush.com/products/lavender/sleepy. However since it was gifted to me and is a little on the pricey side, I sometimes like to use lavender essential oil mixed with coconut oil instead to make it last a bit longer. I heard of some people using pure lavender essential oil on their pulse points to help them with sleep but my (veeery sensitive) skin didn’t react well to it so I’m not sure if it actually works.

3. Tidying up

  • If I feel rather awake from having a shower or if I notice my room is looking rather messy I like to try and tidy it before bed. I find that knowing I’m sleeping in a tidy environment makes me feel less anxious and just more relaxed in general. It also means that when you wake up in the morning in a clean environment you’re generally in a better mood and ready to face the day!
  • Also preparing things for the next day (clothes for work, packing a bag etc) will save a lot of time and stress in the morning, and waking up won’t feel like such a chore.
  • Speaking of planning, I also like to write a list of stuff I need to get done for the next day so that when I wake up I feel more productive and having structure to my days helps ease my anxiety.

4. Teas/Hot Drinks

  • When I couldn’t sleep I used to drink English tea (which I never knew had caffeine, and I always added at least 1-2 teaspoons of sugar!!) or even a hot chocolate! Hot drinks with sugar and/or caffeine in them are good during the day or to relax in the morning or afternoon, but definitely not in the evening or else it’ll be hard to get to sleep because caffeine stays in your system for up to 6 hours. Instead, it’s ideal to have a caffeine-free herbal tea, such as chamomile or herbal teas that contains Valerian or passionflower. I drink either Heath And Heather‘s Organic Soft Sleepy Night Time tea or Twining’s Sleep Tea Blend.
  • I’m not sure if this is a Scottish thing or not, but we often like to have a ‘wee nightcap’ before bed (alcohol to help make us sleepy before bed), but even though this can make you drowsy, it’ll only end up giving you a terrible sleep and making you wake up groggy in the morning. I found this was always the case when drinking alcohol before bed, no matter how much water I tried to drink to sober up!

5. Switch off

  • Before heading to bed I always try to switch off my phone at least half an hour before heading to bed. I also like to put it somewhere that I can’t access from my bed so that I’m not tempted to go on it if I can’t sleep and so that when I wake up I can get out of bed almost right away.
  • I found that trying to stay on my phone until falling asleep didn’t help me sleep at all and did the exact opposite, also increasing my anxiety through seeing upsetting things on social media through scrolling aimlessly (not to mention comparing myself and my life to that of others on Instagram…) It’s just not the best thing to do when trying to fall asleep, instead I like to write a diary/write down thoughts, feelings and ideas or read a book related to spirituality.
  • Writing something you’re grateful for is also a great way to go to bed feeling relaxed and is also nice to look back on when having a bad day. It can be quite hard to find inspiration for it though, so sometimes I use this: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/60-things-thankful-for-life.html
  • Doing relaxing things without screens/technology/social media is by far the best way to relax before bed. I like to do this when having my herbal tea with some candles and incense on for ultimate relaxation ~

6. Setting The Mood

  • When doing my night time routine I always try to make sure that my environment is relaxed. For example, putting on some candles/fairy lights with some incense on is such a relaxing way to drink my tea and write my thoughts down than with the bedroom light turned on.
  • I also think that some quiet, calming music helps but it’s important to make sure you can play the music while the internet is switched off and the vocals aren’t too much. I personally like listening to Brian Eno, Roger Eno, Air or Grouper.

So that’s my night time routine that I try to carry out as often as possible so that I go to sleep feeling relaxed with minimal anxiety, and also so that I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to be productive. When I’m unable to do my night time routine, I try my best to just set the scene for a good night’s sleep if I’m not feeling well enough to shower or make a tea, on top of having no sugar/caffeine before bed and no phone.

If anyone reading this has any handy tips about reducing anxiety before bed please let me know! 🙂

Here’s the link to my morning routine: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/156026599/posts/21

Eating Disorder Awareness Week: My Experience with Binge-Eating and Bulimia.

I am honestly so glad that there exists a week where we can raise awareness for something so serious that so many people go through at some point in their lives. Due to pressure from the media, comparing ourselves to most likely fake lives and altered appearances on social media, as well as society’s idea of beauty among many other factors, it’s all too easy to feel like we aren’t beautiful enough. And unfortunately there exists the idea that skinny = beautiful, and that’s where the problem begins.

My Story with Binge Eating and Bulimia

Until I was about 8 or 9 years old I always wore skirts to school, then after repeatedly getting called “fat” off of the skinny, pretty girls in my year I became so self-conscious and wore trousers to school until I was about 16 years old. Looking back, there was nothing wrong with my weight/legs! I was very tall for my age and always had wide hips and long legs which made me look different from the other more petite girls in my year. My mum, a fitness instructor, always made healthy packed lunches, I did karate and played football and lived a generally healthy life as a kid. I always wondered why I was getting called fat off of the skinny girls who ate junk food and drank fizzy juice at lunch when I always just ate sandwiches and fruit! I think it is just so sad that I was only 8 or 9 years old when I started to feel self conscious about my body. When I looked back at the pictures, I wished I could’ve gone back and told myself that there was nothing wrong with my weight and that I didn’t have to wear trousers to cover my legs. This made me realise something very important: the way you perceive your body and the way others perceive your body are most likely very very different, in the sense that you will have a much more negative view of your body than others will. And I just wish that I had realised that sooner.

Binge Eating

When my best friend died of cancer in August 2013 that’s when the binge eating really started. I just ate and ate and ate to feel better, and I would eat so much junk food until I was so full that I felt sick, and I guess I saw it as compensating for the emptiness I felt from losing my friend. I also got very comfortable in my first relationship around this time, and was a size 16 weighing around 13 stone/82kg. At this time I was also wanting to go to uni so I was so dedicated to my studies that I never felt like I had the time to exercise. I much rather preferred to learn languages, draw or watch movies. This lifestyle lasted until I started uni in 2014 at age 16. My weight went down slightly due to the fact I was always going to clubs and societies, and I started to play basketball to up my fitness.

My Experience with Bulimia

When I came back for second year of uni, I weighed 13st again from just eating so much without caring over the holidays. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety a month later in October 2015 and it was around this time that I became so obsessed with binge eating then purging due to such low self-esteem and poor body image. My 18th birthday was in November and I was panicking about my friends and family thinking I was fat or commenting on my weight, because I wouldn’t have been able to handle any negative comments about it given how low my self-esteem was already. Then when my 18th birthday actually came, I realised how hard it was to enjoy it because I was having to plan when I could go to the toilets alone without anyone getting suspicious. I had about 30 family members with me that day, and I found myself getting so irritated when the time for me to purge was dragging on and on, it was so stressful! It totally consumed me and I just find it so sad that I couldn’t enjoy my birthday because I was so fixated on being sick. In just that month alone I had lost around 10lbs, but I didn’t care because that was how much weight I had put on since May anyway and therefore my family wouldn’t have noticed a difference in my weight. I got so many compliments about my weight, which only made me more determined to keep purging.

Veganism & Bulimia

By March, I had lost almost 3 stone/19kg. I was getting really anxious about people finding out I was bulimic given that I was living a very sedentary lifestyle and hardly leaving my room due to my depression and anxiety. I felt so down that I just kept on carelessly damaging my body: I was smoking around 20 cigarettes a day on top of lots of weed so that I would get the munchies to binge then purge, and I was bordering alcoholism in order to numb myself and to make myself sick again. I was putting my body through so much torment that it didn’t deserve! Because I was feeling so low I looked into the vegan diet/lifestyle and wanted to gain back a good relationship with food. So I tried out veganism in March, but because I never gave myself a proper transition period, this caused me to break it and then binge out of guilt and disgust. I began to associate anything non-vegan as a “bad food” that would make me put on weight. I had lost at least 3 stone in just 5 months and people were shocked to see how much weight I had lost. The idea of anyone knowing I was bulimic made me so anxious, so it seemed like perfect timing to try out veganism in March and people never seemed to question it otherwise.

Health Effects of Bulimia

I was constantly exhausted, I had to nap at least twice a day, I always had to plan my day around when I could eat then purge, and this caused me such a great deal of stress and made me unbearable to be around. My throat always felt like it was burning, and my eyes and cheeks looked so swollen and puffy. The skin around my eyes was so grey and my face was so pale, I looked so ill. I also found out that I had gum disease and my teeth got really yellow from constantly making myself sick. There was absolutely no benefit to bulimia, the cons far outweighed the pros! Even if losing weight was seen as a pro, it was such an unhealthy way to lose the weight that it just wasn’t worth it. When I moved back home in May, my mum was onto me and always made sure I was eating and not going to the toilet straight afterwards. Not being able to purge made me lash out a lot and it was so so difficult, but I’m so thankful that she was doing that for me because it made me commit more to being vegan and I finally got a good relationship with food altogether.

Relapse

Almost a year after I started my journey to recovering from bulimia, I went to Italy during my year out from university (which I took due to poor mental health). I worked as an au pair for a very traditional family in the Italian countryside, who didn’t understand veganism, who didn’t understand why I refused to wear make-up although my face was red and, most importantly, who couldn’t understand why I was “fat” and vegan. So around a month after constantly being given negative comments about my appearance (mostly about my face and weight), I relapsed and was sick one night after several Italian women telling me to go easy on the polenta because it would make me fatter… But this time I didn’t get the “cleansed” feeling purging brought me, I instead felt ashamed and disgusted with myself that I had given into their negative comments and thus let them win. I haven’t purged since. The next morning, I took a shower and I remember looking at myself. I suddenly, for the first time in years, felt this big wave of happiness and love upon looking at myself in the mirror. I then burst into laughter and then tears, crying then laughing hysterically. That was probably the most pivotal moment in my journey towards self-love. I looked at my red face and smiled, I smiled upon looking at all my blemishes, acne scars, freckles… I looked further down and smiled at my curvy figure, my soft skin, the dimples on my thighs. It had taken me 19 long years to finally look in the mirror and not be filled with so much self-loathing. Instead of pointing out what I didn’t like about my body, I finally saw what I did like. I then took a picture (I rarely take pictures of myself) to celebrate.

Working Towards Positive Body Image

Looking back at that photo, I am far from feeling how I did when looking in the mirror nowadays. After a horrible semester abroad in France where my diet consisted of starving some days, binge eating on others, and eating pastries and breads from bakery bins due to having hardly any money, I’m almost the same weight I was before I suffered from bulimia. And although I’ve thought about resorting to my old ways as a means of losing weight, it really just isn’t worth it and I would rather weigh more and be healthier than weigh less and have a bad relationship with food again. Although that part of my life was basically rock-bottom, it taught me many things:

 1: You are SO much more than your appearance!

We live in a society where we are judged automatically and unintentionally by how we look, it’s how first impressions are made. But how we look is only secondary and, in the grand scheme of things, really doesn’t matter! There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance, but there’s nothing wrong with indulging in certain foods and feeling guilt-free! The older I get the more I realise how short life is, and I feel kind of annoyed at myself for spending so many years hating my body, when it is all you have: hating your body won’t give you a new one, and the more you feed yourself negativity instead of love, the more you’re going to believe it. Try to think of at least one thing you like about yourself, whether it’s about your appearance or your personality or a life achievement, and give gratitude for it every single day and you’ll discover more and more amazing things about yourself. What I once used to see as flaws (i.e my red face/freckles) I actually embrace now and I see it as making me unique, and unique is beautiful!

2: You don’t have to be skinny to have an eating disorder 

Whenever I heard of eating disorders, I always thought of being dangerously underweight. But, like mental illness, eating disorders can also be invisible. A classic example is my doctor: when I told him I was suffering from bulimia and wanted to be referred to a clinic, he looked at me a bit confused and sighed while reaching for a sheet of paper and then asking me to step on the scales. It was like he didn’t believe me. Eating disorders aren’t just anorexia, even as a bulimic I was never “too skinny”, I had just lost too much weight over a short period of time. I went from being really curvy and having big legs to having a thigh gap in just 3 months… 

3. The people you are comparing yourself to on social media aren’t  perfect either! 

As you’ve most probably heard before, nobody is perfect! Everybody has their hangups, things that they’d rather change, and a lot of people on social media only like to show the good going on in their lives instead of the bad. “Influencers” will show what their version of the perfect life is, even though it isn’t even like that for them in reality! With countless apps that alter your body and face to get it to look how you want to look, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t. And the majority of the time, it isn’t. So before you compare yourself to the pretty girl with a so-called “bikini body” laying on a beach, or the guy with huge muscles, just ask yourself “is it really worth comparing myself to them?” Instead on focusing on what you don’t have, it’s time to appreciate what you do have. So-called flaws and imperfections are beautiful, they are what make all 8 billion of us on this planet amazing and unique! We’ve just been brainwashed by society/media/social media to think that cellulite, scars, pimples, fat rolls, skin blemishes etc. are unnatural, but they are a part of life! You’re constantly told to cover this and hide that, to make something bigger or smaller to look a certain way, but the only people who ever benefit from altering these things are just the companies you pay money to.

So whether you’ve suffered from an eating disorder or poor body image, or have thought about it, or have generally fallen victim to societal pressures, let me just remind you of this: your weight does not define you, the lower or higher a number on a scale does not equate to how well you are going to do in life or how beautiful or worthy you are, your beauty comes from within and your achievements come from how amazing a person you are! The bodies we are in are all that we have, in the sense that they literally carry us through life,so it is important that we give them as much care and love and nourishment as possible, although it can be incredibly hard at times. Eating disorders affect such a large number of people, and it’s not at all easy to overcome them overnight. They can take weeks, months, years to overcome. But it is a journey to be embraced, and the universe only gives us what we can handle, and so it’ll only makes us stronger in the end.

February 2016 – my cheeks and eyes looked so swollen and puffy. I could feel my hip bones sticking out at the front and could feel my ribs when lying down. I remember feeling so proud when I took this, but looking back I can’t believe how unhealthy I look!

Scribbled out my face because I was making a weird one haha. But on the picture in the left I weighed 13st/82kg and was a size 16-18 UK in September 2015, a month before I was bulimic. On the left I weighed 10st/63kg and was a UK size 10 in May 2016.

If anybody is still suffering from an eating disorder, whether it’s anorexia, bulimia, binge eating etc., I just want to remind you that you are beautiful no matter your weight! Like everything in life, this is only temporary, and some day in the future you will look back and feel so incredibly proud of yourself for overcoming something so incredibly difficult. Even if you relapse, please don’t be too hard on yourself: you’re doing amazing and each day you are working towards loving yourself and your body more and more. If you ever feel alone, just remember that you are never alone and there is help out there if you are looking for it. A website that really helped me is https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

I know that it’s incredibly difficult, exhausting and frustrating at times, but we are so capable of overcoming any obstacles, and I am so grateful that we live in a community where we can share ideas and experiences which will help each other grow. If anybody would like to talk about their experience with someone who has been there before, please feel free to message me on my instagram: @hippie.ki.yay

Morning routine for a productive day!

(Photo from Stars Insider)

Waking up in the morning can be the hardest part of the day, especially during the winter months when it is still dark outside when you wake up. It can be even harder when suffering from poor mental health or, in the darker months, Seasonal Affective Disorder (which spells ‘sad’, ironically). But with so much work to do and a life passing us by so quickly, it’s essential that we kick-start our mornings right to make the most of the day!

So this morning routine doesn’t even start in the morning but on the night before! It’s important that before bed you switch your phone onto airplane mode and turn the internet off so that when you wake up there are no notifications and so no temptation to go on social media. It’s also a good idea to set an alarm and then place your phone somewhere where you’ll have to walk towards in order to turn it off (but preferably in the same room you are sleeping in).

1.DO NOT HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON!!

This is absolutely the MOST important thing you could possibly do. If you press the snooze button for even 5 minutes it can ruin your mood for the whole morning/day. This is because our body sleeps in cycles of around 75-90 minutes and if something (such as an alarm) interrupts this and we then start to go back to sleep for just 5-10 more minutes, it is still interrupted and this can actually make us more anxious and depressed. So it’s important that not only we resist the urge to press the snooze button, but also put our phone somewhere that we’d need to walk to, so that we are already up and out of our beds and ready to face the day. This can be the hardest part of the day, and I often find that building myself up to it helps. I normally count to five then open my eyes and let them adjust, then count to five until I get out of bed.

2. Try to avoid social media within the first hour of waking up.

In order to wake up feeling fresh and productive, it’s important that we resist the temptation of looking at social media (hence why it’s important to leave the WIFI turned off the night before). If we look at our phones as soon as we wake up, we actually end up feeling even more tired right away as this is what looking at a screen so shortly after waking up can do to us. It can also make us depressed and anxious looking at social media and the news, so it is best to get your routine finished first before looking at your phone, and you will already be feeling productive by the time it’s done as you’ll be looking at your phone after you’re ready to start the day instead of before.

3. Take a biiiiiig gulp of water!

Over the night we breathe and sweat, causing us to lose water during the night and dehydration is another reason why we can feel groggy in the morning. It’s best to leave a glass of water next to our bed for when we wake up, but it is also a good idea to maybe prepare lemon water, or cucumber water with 1-2 drops of lemon essential oil the night before. Warm lemon water is also good to drink in the morning and drinking fluids as soon as you wake up is a great way to not only hydrate your body but to also boost your metabolism, and lemons are great for aiding weight loss!

4. Make your bed

This is such a simple thing that I never bothered to do but makes a world of a difference! Your bed is the main object in your room (hence why the word ‘bed’ is in it!) so it’s so important that it is made after waking up so that your room generally looks tidy; having an unmade bed in a tidy room can make the room look messy. It also means that you won’t be tempted to go back to sleep in it!

5. Brush yo teeeth!

Again, such a simple but important one! It’s so important that you do this before making a tea/coffee or breakfast as it leave you feeling super fresh! It also means that when you come back from the bathroom, you walk into a tidy bed/room and this will make you feel ready to face the day! While in the bathroom, it can also be a good idea to splash your face with cold water to help you to wake up, it often works a treat for me!

6. Movement

Now nothing too elaborate, just some simple arm, leg, back and neck stretches to get the blood flowing. Five minutes is all I ever really need. Sometimes I find that pushing myself to go on a 10 minute walk around my neighbourhood in the morning helps set me up for the day!

7. Shower

If I’m still super tired by this point, a shower is often my saving grace! A warm shower often does the trick, but when I’m feeling unbelievably tired despite doing everything else in my routine, a cold shower helps to wake me up (a lot!).

8. Make breakfast

It’s not the most important meal of the day for no reason, eating breakfast can help to kick start your metabolism for the day and gives you all the energy you need. Even if you don’t feel hungry for breakfast in the morning, it’s important to have something small like a banana or a cereal bar. And a hot drink helps too. I personally find that drinking yerba mate with a bit of honey gives me the energy I need to focus on my studies in the morning, and peppermint tea is great for concentration! I sometimes add a little bit of dandelion root powder too, which is also great for metabolism.

9. Play a podcast/uplifting music.

Having something motivational or uplifting in the background while making/eating your breakfast, finally getting round to checking social media or doing work can really help you to stay focused and motivated!

(Photo from Azernews.az)

So that’s the morning routine I usually follow to help me stay productive more-so during the winter months and for when I’m not feeling too great mentally. When I follow this routine I find that I don’t need naps throughout the day and my mood is generally a lot better. Things of course work differently for different people but from personal experience it helps me the most to stay focused and motivated throughout the day. Fresh air can also help us to start off the day right, and a 10 minute walk is sometimes all we ever need. Writing our thoughts in a diary can help us mentally too. No matter how healthy a routine I did, I always found that looking at my phone immediately or shortly after waking up made me feel so tired throughout the day, so it’s important that we try to avoid looking at our phone until our routine is finished. How we start our mornings affects our whole day, so it’s important that we start them in the best and healthiest way possible! 🙂

My Story So Far ~

I believe that this world is so beautiful but it can be so hard to appreciate it at times. Even when there is light during the day it can be so hard to appreciate it due to our busy lifestyles and/or our mental health, and we feel like we have no choice but to stay in the darkness. Some people want to leave the darkness, but they just aren’t ready to do it yet themselves and need a helping hand, someone to help them appreciate the beauty that they saw before. That’s what I want my role to be throughout my time here on this earth. I feel that there are so many people caught up in this life and forgetting that it is just a mere simulation, a game. And aren’t games, just like life, supposed to be enjoyed?

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” ~ William Feather.


TW: Cancer, suicide, alcohol issues and bulimia.

So sometimes when I feel down and that life isn’t as fun a game as I had hoped, I like to write my feelings down. Being a 4th year university student, it can be quite hard to remain optimistic when your studies are taking over your life. So primarily I want my blogs to be something other people can look to for inspiration to get the most out of life but also something to look back on myself when struggling.

So my story really begins at around 15 years old. I had lost my only ever best friend to cancer and had entered my final year of high school and was ready to go to university at 16. I was never the sort of person to like being a sheep, to obey unnecessary rules, to dress up the same way as everybody else, to miss out on class to join everybody in praying to something I didn’t believe in. I didn’t like being a part of something that suppressed individuality to its very core. So with the help of my French teacher, I started university at 16 years old.

After a rather mentally challenging first year at university I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in October 2015, and that was no doubt rock bottom for me. Then in November was the turning point in my life. Just two weeks before my 18th birthday I went all the way up to Aviemore, my last happy place, to try and find a reason to live again and if not, kill myself. I thought that if nature and peace of mind couldn’t save me then nothing ever could. But thankfully I was right, and nature really did save me. Sometimes it’s far too easy to get caught up in what is consuming you that you miss the bigger picture, and for me my mental health, family, friends, university grades and addictions clouded my judgement of what I thought life was. Two weeks later on my 18th birthday was quite literally the best night of my life, and I felt a strange mix of both sadness and relief that I didn’t kill myself because I would have left all of those amazing people who came to my birthday for me, devastated. What that all really taught me is that even though there are going to be times where you feel worthless, hated or depressed in this world, there is always something to live for and it is always 100% worth holding on if you can’t see it immediately.

So after hitting rock bottom, the only way was up. I really learned how to live in the moment and to appreciate every single good thing that came into my life, no matter how big or small. I learned that bulimia and excessive daily alcohol consumption were in no way helping my mental health, so I became healthier physically as a means of being healthier mentally. I followed a lot of positivity and hippie pages on social media and adapted a vegan lifestyle which helped greatly. I eliminated all toxic people and ideas from my life and started to become more spiritual, and although I had a tough time during those years, it brought me to exactly where I am today and for that I’m grateful.

So in my blogs I want to inspire people to live the life of their dreams, to be happy and healthy. You are so much more than your weight, your appearance, your mental illness, your sexual orientation, your history. I think that being on this earth in today’s society is so great for acting as a community and helping each other to learn and grow, and to see the good the world has to offer. In a world fuelled by money, power and vanity, I think having a platform such as this is truly a blessing.

We are visitors on this planet. We are here for 100 years at the very most. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV