Saturday, 18 May 2019

Mental Health Awareness Week, 2019; a peek inside my head.

Back when I was at sixth form college – around the time this blog started, because I was bored between lessons and had a lot of FEELINGS that needed to be expelled – we did this exercise in A Level Drama called ‘automatic writing’. This involved us sitting (or more likely, lying) down on the floor of the black box theatre and just scrawling non-stop in our notebooks or on scraps of script we were meant to be learning, either as ourselves or as characters. We’d tap into our own internal monologues, pull them out and onto a page; it helped us get more in touch with the people we were playing in our upcoming performances, or just get out of our own minds in a time when it felt like all the pressure was on us to do well, get good grades and make our families proud, blah blah blah.


(Photo: Sophie Mayanne for Girlgaze, Dove & Getty Images #ProjectShowUs)


Well, for the past few days I’ve been trying to conjure up a post for Mental Health Awareness Week, and I’ve realised the only way I can write honestly and without fear is if I do it, hilariously enough, without thinking too hard. So you’re about to read my automatic writing. Enjoy – I hope it helps some of you, somehow…


It’s funny that Mental Health Awareness Week has suddenly come around now, when I’m really struggling. I say suddenly, because it feels like it’s sudden, but I have known about it for ages and was planning to do all sorts of things for it, but then a sh*t storm kicked off in my brain and here we are. I have burnt out recently, simply from being too busy, and cramming every possible thing into every little bit of my spare time because I always feel like I should be doing all the things and making the most of life… that pressured complex, I found out in therapy, is yet another delightful thing I’ve developed in recent years, when I’ve been saved so many times by medical professionals and given what feels like a second chance at life, a longer life, more time to do amazing things that I should definitely be doing so it’s not a waste of their precious time and skills. I get immense guilt when I find myself sitting around doing nothing but scrolling through social media and/or eating a whole lot of snacks while marathoning something on Netflix – because despite having no evidence that this would actually happen, and knowing that it absolutely would not, I still picture my surgeons (plural) and their teams of theatre nurses looking on, sadly, wishing they’d prioritised someone else; someone who could do more for the world and be a testament to their tireless efforts.

So, I guess that’s a little peek inside my head. I constantly preach to anyone who’ll listen that social media really is a highlights reel, and not in any way representative of one’s day to day life; please be reassured (?!) that I’m not always frolicking on the beach smiling into the sun, or happily sipping the finest espresso while reading an exciting YA proof, or dressing up in boho ballgowns and adventuring in the local woods (well, it has been a while since I’ve had a shoot with Erin…). More often than not, I’m on a train somewhere staring blankly out the window while catching up on podcasts; cramming in a second Greggs vegan sausage roll and guzzling instant coffee in the staff room before running straight onto the shop floor; sprawled on the sofa half-watching last week’s ‘Would I Lie to You’ while torturing myself thinking of all the emails I have yet to reply to, and posts I want to write but can’t find the energy or words… 


(Photo: Sophie Mayanne for Girlgaze, Dove & Getty Images #ProjectShowUs)

Having said that I can absolutely assure you that, just like on my social platforms, I am constantly and continuously in awe of, and grateful to, my amazing, badass body. Recently I’ve been giving it a hard time; I often find myself getting frustrated at all the things it can’t do as well now as it used to. I think because sometimes my mind becomes detached from it, in thinking it can still GO GO GO, when really it can only… go. Carefully and deliberately, sensibly but also optimistically. That’s all I can ask of it, really. After everything that’s happened to it.


My body and my mind have been through so much. But they can only go through so much. I just have to remember that. 


(Photo: Sophie Mayanne for Girlgaze, Dove & Getty Images #ProjectShowUs)


The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies. Body image issues can affect all of us, at any age. It’s so important to remember to #BeBodyKind. Check out the Mental Health Foundation for amazing resources and support. 




1 comment

  1. Brilliant post as always, our body image and mental health are so intrinsically linked and I've found this even more so with a chronic illness.

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