What Anxiety Disorders Look Like

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There’s a huge stigma around anxiety disorders, through uneducated people making the assumption that the term refers to just feeling a bit anxious or shy. I’ve heard it all! ‘We all get anxious it’s not a mental disorder’. Yeah, we go all get anxious because anxiety is a human emotion we all go through when something uneasy happens or we are worried. But, anxiety disorders are a state of mind that takes over my own and millions of lives. The stigma around anxiety disorders is a bit of a joke, with so many people suffering but no one believing it’s a true problem.

There’s a big difference between feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders relate to OCD, PTSD and social anxiety. Many don’t realise this, thinking that when someone says the word anxiety they’re referring to some vague feeling of being worried. That’s a load of shit to be honest because anxiety disorders are very real and are ruining lives already without people stigmatising them and claiming they’re not real. Try telling the suffering ex-soldier who experiences daily struggles of PTSD flashbacks that anxiety disorders aren’t real, because they’re definitely real to him. While it’s all too easy to self diagnose with anxiety disorders, people really need to understand the difference between feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder.

My Experience

I have Panic Disorder and have experience with PTSD. Although not as bad now, panic attacks took over my life at one point where I couldn’t really leave the house without it being a huge deal. My panic disorder came out of no where initially, suspected to have been brought on through the lifestyle I was living and a particular traumatic event which I witnessed (which I won’t talk about, I just want to outline what can bring on panic disorder). It started with one panic attack when I was out with friends, I had never experienced a panic attack in my life before I genuinely thought I was dying. The best way I can explain panic attacks is the feeling when you’re falling, that flutter you get in your chest of worry and your whole body shocks. It’s that feeling over and over and you can’t think about anything other than panic. The whole world stops around you and you can’t even channel in one what’s going on around you. The first time this happens is absolutely terrifying especially when you’re just out socialising, I thought I’d been spiked or something it didn’t feel natural. But not I know what it is, what triggers it and how I can work through them – I’m in control again.

Although I’ve kind of learned to laugh about it now (it’s how I deal with it) I was absolutely terrified at the time. It literally came out of no where, there’s nothing that provoked me or worried me for it to happen I just had a full on break down in public and i probably looked crazy. It happened once and didn’t happen for a while after that, I pushed it to the back of my mind and tried to forget. Big mistake really because after that, panic attacks came almost regular. They came hand-in-hand with social situations and being out in public, where if I was walking outside on my own I was constantly on edge about having a panic attack. For so long I dreaded to leave the house because even the idea of someone just looking at me would send my heart racing into panic.

I don’t have them much anymore because I identified why I started having them, I can date back to the exact time and event which triggered this chain of events. The truth is, mental disorders start from somewhere. We aren’t born with anxiety disorders. At some point we pick up these issues and problems and they only worsen when we ignore them. When I ignored that first panic attack I was doing the worst possible thing, I carried on what I was doing before my body said it was enough and starting putting me through panic attacks regularly. You can’t ignore things like this or they’ll just make your life hell. I rarely have panic attacks now in fact I haven’t had one in ages because I learnt to deal with it and I know now what was going wrong. My first panic attack I had an absolute melt down and people were literally staring at me like I was crazy, now I can feel if ones coming and I could not look calmer. Anxiety disorders are shit because they’re so difficult to over come, we kind of just have to learn to live with them and the horrible stuff that comes with it for a while because the process to completely over come them is just so long. But that’s exactly what I do now, even me writing this and labelling my disorder is a massive deal to me because I’ve finally accepted it as a problem rather than just me being a weirdo.

Living With Anxiety

Although I say I am on top of things now and I am on my way to a less anxious mind, of course I still have bad days. I’ve learnt to live with Anxiety as part of me now and I know it’s not going to go anywhere in a hurry. It still ruins my life daily but I won’t let it control me anymore, I let people in on it and I can (try to) explain to them why I act certain ways or what I’m feeling, rather than just ignoring it and allowing people to think I’m a full blown weirdo.

Daily, I have intrusive anxious thoughts. If someone says hello to me a little different I think they hate me, if someone looks at me for even a millisecond I assume they think I’m ugly and god forbid if someone says something to me in a negative way I think the world has ended. Intrusive anxious thoughts can go beyond this though, they are evil. They can almost talk you into dark places and make you feel worthless. Constantly I tell myself I’m not good enough or I’ll never be able to do something. No body could possibly put me down or insult me the way my own mind does. It’s not normal how much I critique myself and how many negative things I tell myself in a day. I literally convinced myself that my family and friends hated me and didn’t care about me at one point.

It really annoys me how much panic disorder has changed and taken over my life. Things I used to love doing have been taken away from me because I can’t face being in a crowded place or being around certain people, or I can’t drink alcohol because I know my mindset won’t agree with it at the time and I’ll have a panic attack. Battling anxiety and panic attacks can be so exhausting because you have a heightened worry about everything already and then you need to worry about when a panic attack is going to occur.

What it Looks Like

The truth is, you can’t see these types of disorders. I look like a normal person fine with life when I’m freaking out inside my head trying to fight off a panic attack. I might be quiet sometimes, but that’s part of my personality and not my anxiety disorders. Anxiety can affect anyone. It doesn’t matter who they are or what their personality is like. These disorders can be triggered so easily; I know that now after identifying where mine began. One night and one event and panic attacks crept into my life, it’s bizarre to me how it happened but it did and I now have to deal with it. It’s so important to deal with it and not let it ruin your life even more.

That’s why it’s so important to just be nice to people. One person looking at me the wrong way or saying something to me could have sent me over the edge when I was struggling with panic disorder the most. It’s impossible to see what someone is going through so just be kind. When people hear the word panic disorders they probably picture me running around screaming my head off when now, I look normal when I’m having an attack. They’re everywhere. I was so shocked at how many people I knew had panic attacks and anxiety disorders, it’s knowing this that gave me the confidence to talk about it which has helped me so much in terms of recovering and getting better. Writing about it lifts a weight off my back and helps solidify it into my brain that it is only a disorder and I’m not messed up. So many people feel the same so I don’t need to isolate myself anymore. I’m so lucky to have the friends I do because I can talk to them about it and can relate to them about it because we go through similar situations, it’s the conversations about mental health and how we are all doing that I enjoy the most. I hate small talk and talking about pointless things I want to know what’s going on in people’s minds and lives, I love to see people talking about it because i know how much it opens doors to a better life.

Be Nice, Be Considerate

The reason i wrote this was to point out the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorders. If I open at least one person’s eyes on what it’s like to struggle with anxiety disorders then that is incredible to me. I’m sick of hearing people say that they’re not real. When you’ve struggled daily and went to hell and back on your own, can you imagine someone openly saying that what you’re feeling doesn’t exist and you’re lying? For ages I thought I was just weird because I didn’t think anxiety disorders were real. They are and they ruin lives. But there is a way out and how we feel is temporary and is not weird. There’s reasons behind every feeling and once you educate yourself on it and find a way out, life is so much better. I have a long way to go but where I am now compared to the past year is amazing and I am so proud of myself. To some people walking to the shop or going to the gym is normal and you wouldn’t even think twice. To me and many others it’s a massive challenge when our mind is fighting against us every single day telling us we’re not good enough and we shouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Anyone who can live life through this is stronger than you could ever imagine and we should all be proud.

I don’t care if you’ve never experienced this before, you could one day. I was so ignorant to mental health issues until it happened to me. I didn’t expect it and it creeped up quicker than you could imagine, it took over my life and nearly ruined it. Everyone needs to educate themselves on it and realise it’s happening and it always will happen. Ignoring awareness and not informing yourself on it will only make it scarier if you experience any of it. Open your eyes, understand that everyone has demons and start realising that not everything is what it seems. But if it does, never think that you’re weird and never think you don’t have a way out. Because you’re perfectly normal and it does get better.

-Beauty by Disaster x

If You’re Struggling Please Read This

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If you’re considering suicide, I’m going to prove how things can get better and why you should fuck the stigma and ignore any worries about what people think. I already know that there is people out there who complain about people raising mental health awareness – on MHA Day last year, I saw soooo many tweets from people that I knew actually complaining about seeing people write about mental health. I thought are you joking? How have you found something to complain about in this? Mental Health Awareness day is the only day of the year I actually love social media. Everyone comes together, raises awareness and opens up and you feel a lot less alone in your struggles and suddenly recovery seems a little easier which is priceless, even if it’s just for one day.

So it really angered me when I saw people just complaining about mental health social posts. Okay, we will all just carry on posting boring selfies and flashing off designer clothing we know you cannot afford because you still live in your childhood bedroom but you’re wearing £500 trainers… much more productive way to use social media! I think actively saying you are bored by mental health social posts or even critiquing people for creating them makes you the problem. You are pushing the stigma that billions of people are trying to destroy, so I beg you to just keep that negativity to yourself.

People tweeting ‘all these mental health awareness posts from people just to pretend to be a nice person’ are just completely tearing down the whole point of mental health awareness. Oh my god, I even saw complaints about people making mental health disorders up for attention. Wow. Can I please see your Clinical Psychology PhD degree certification since you’re so highly qualified to assess someone’s mental health? Haven’t got one, no? Then please shut up putting other people down for speaking openly about their mental health, when it probably took all the courage in their body to do so. Let people raise awareness and feel less alone, if you don’t like it unfollow them but never ever criticise someone for doing good to the world and others.

Stop The Stigma

For far too long I didn’t speak up about my mental health, I suffered in silence. Finally coming to terms with my struggles, getting help and now being able to talk openly about it has genuinely saved my life. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that if I carried on the way I was, I wouldn’t be here.

Opening up about it to my family and friends was hard, making this blog unanonynous so that I knew everyone would see the truth was even harder. But the messages and feedback I’ve received about my words actually helping people has encouraged me to carry on and think fuck the people who have something to say about mental illness. I think I can use my story to help others and if I can get anything out of the hell I went through, I want to help someone.

When I did come to terms with what was wrong with me instead of just saying I was a mess and my life was heading no where is what saved me – and the mental health awareness is what pushed me to do that. I educated myself on my conditions, let people around me In on my troubles and accepted it as a part of my life i have to improve on. You cannot ignore your troubles and expect them to go away, that’s like breaking an arm and not getting it treated so your arm stays broken forever and never heals. You need to address your mental health the way you would physical, that’s what I’ve learned. If I had a broken arm I wouldn’t keep it a secret and be ashamed because it’s just a typical health issue, so why should I keep quiet about my mental health struggles.

You’re Not Alone

One thing that shocked me was how many other people struggle, people who are close to me who hid their problems too. People who I thought had incredible lives were feeling exactly as I did, and I now know I looked like one of those people too. I hid it so well, scarily well. And other people do too! When I was struggling I felt so alone and weird, I genuinely believed I was the only person in the world that felt that way when the reality is literally millions of people did. I handled it completely wrong and made it a lot worse than it needed to be. For too long I just accepted my issues as part of my personality and accepted that I would never see the real Nikita again, I even just accepted that I wouldn’t be around for much longer so it didn’t matter, acting stupidly and damaging my mind even more. I planned to commit suicide, setting days to do it and seeing it as an only option out.

Looking back I cannot believe I was considering ending my life over just asking for help! It would have been so easy to just say to my loved ones that I was really struggling. But no, I ran away and shut everyone out and hid it away. I remember being in Ibiza breaking down on the phone to my mam saying I didn’t know why I was so sad and maybe saying to a few friends that I was feeling a bit shit, but it was so easy for people to just assume that I was away from home and feeling homesick. I don’t think they could have ever assumed how I was really feeling because no one would expect me to feel that way and I was so against asking for any help. I think the fact I am always away from my friends and family just made it all that much easier to hide it and I did feel alone, but only because I made it that way.

When I finally began talking about it, the only reason I could was because I noticed so many people felt the same. On MHA Day last year I remember being at my worst, literally researching suicide methods on a night. It’s so terrifying for me to even say this because I cannot believe I would ever consider something so stupid. The only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to hurt my family and the thought of how my mam would take it was just too devastating. But I am so glad I didn’t do it. The reason I have the courage to say this now is because I have lived through what it’s like and I am an example of how much life can turn around so suicide is never ever ever the right answer. If you’re considering suicide please message me and reach out to me, even if we have never spoken before. Talking to someone who has been there can give hope and I want to let struggling people know that how you are feeling is temporary, suicide is permanent and I guarantee you that one day you will feel like I do – so glad that you didn’t do it.

Accept You’re Struggles

At the time I was dead against help and didn’t want to let anyone know how I was feeling. Why? Because I was so afraid of people thinking I was a mess or attention seeking. This is the problem! Genuinely struggling people not reaching out for help because unqualified idiots on the internet tell them they can’t feel that way. Fuck them and what they think. I’ve came so far in even a couple of months, no way would I have said this at the time to even my friends let alone the entire internet. But I not ashamed anymore, I’ve accepted my past and I’m better. I still have bad days but suicide isn’t an option anymore and I feel so strong for overcoming it.

I have a diary on my phone which i used every day to document how I was feeling as recommended and I stumbled across it the other day, it broke my heart completely. Mental health is truly terrifying. What I wrote was horrible. How I was feeling was horrible. But it gets better and it is temporary. Struggling doesn’t last for ever. I know it feels like it does, but it does not. Let people in because believe it or not there are so many people who care about you and will miss you. Suicide is irreversible and I know at the time it might not feel like it, but it is never the answer. Stay strong, look for the future and have hope. Accept that you’re struggling for now but never ever lose sight of the future. I’m not gonna constantly say talk to someone because whenever I heard that when I was struggling I hated it, I didn’t want to talk and I say no point in talking – telling someone my problems isn’t gonna make them go away. But talking about it is more for yourself, to accept your problems and start a journey to bet better. You can’t get better if you don’t accept who you are and just move on, I’d hate to think of anyone struggling like I was and I cannot stress enough how important it is to just accept that mental health needs treated like a broken bone or a physical illness.

I Can Help You

I want people to read this and see that there is a way out, that you won’t feel like that forever. If I help one person think twice about doing something stupid then that is amazing. I use my story now to help others realise that there is a way out, as it is something that I would have found really helpful at the time. I’ll keep talking openly about mental health to help others and be careless if people don’t like it because the health of others is way more important than a few tweets from ignorant people. If you think someone’s struggling, reach out to them. It’s devastating to see everyone suddenly concerned with mental health when it’s too late. I don’t care what anyone says, it can be prevented and stopped so ask for help and don’t let it win.

If you are struggling, I’m always here to talk to anyone. I’m not a chartered psychologist but I can be there for you, give you advice and be a friend. Samaritans are also a good option to get anonymous help, or your local GP to find a medicated route (I know the NHS help for mental health is shocking and seems pointless but it’s always worth a try). A simple google of suicide help or mental health support gives so many resources, I wish I did it at the time. Take care of your mind and never give up home because one day you’ll look back and be so glad you didn’t do it, like me.

-Beauty by Disaster x

Existential Anxiety Killed Avicii and People Still Don’t Take it Seriously

Mental Health

I’m almost certain everyone will have heard of Avicii, being one of the biggest EDM DJs who grew to fame very quickly. Avicii, also Tim Bergling lives an exhaustive life of travelling the world and performing in front of thousands of people almost every night. With his enormous world wide success, came a huge sacrifice which caused him to suffer pretty much in silence for way too long.

People will quickly judge and say that drugs and party lifestyle is what killed Avicii, when in fact it did not. He didn’t die through physical health problems, although he did have them. Avicii took his own life from an existential crisis and severe unhappiness with how his life was. It seems crazy that someone who was so rich, successful and earned a living travelling the world to DJ at the biggest events could be so sad. But it’s the brutal reality that mental health issues can affect anyone at any time. Mental health issues don’t discriminate, you could be the richest man in the world and you could still be affected. I think people need to start educating themselves and taking it a lot more seriously.

Avicii struggled with existential anxiety. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a constant burden of trying to come to terms with the meaning of life. He was a very passionate and thoughtful artist who just could not find the true meaning of his life and where he ought to belong. Combine this form of anxiety with a hectic life of live shows in the ever-damaging nightlife industry and you have a seriously scary situation.

I was fascinated and of course saddened by the death of Avicii, I remember at first being completely shocked as I’m sure everyone else was – why would someone so successful and seemingly living the dream end up killing the selves? I’m certain that the majority of the publics first assumptions will have been to blame drug taking. Who knows if Avicii consumed drugs, based on his lifestyle it is very likely. But I cannot stand when people just label a suicide or death as drug related and leave it at that. You need to look more into it, especially when it’s suicidal. There is so many opinionated ignorant people who will just say ‘oh well that’s what you get for taking drugs often’ rather than realising that the complex human mind is way more deep than that. Avicii has serious mental health issues and it is important to highlight how he died, as a way of educating people to realise how serious mental health problems are.

After his devastating death, his family released a statement:

Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions. An over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress. When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life, to be happy and be able to do what he loved most: music.

Tim began as a teenage bedroom DJ who just loved making music, before being discovered on the internet and grew to rapid fame through his track Levels (which is a banger and I’m sure everyone remembers). Nothing could have prepared him for how his life would have changed. Being discovered and whisked around the world sounds like a dream, but for a young boy can be so daunting and damaging. His life was overtaken completely, he could not say no to shows and the lifestyle is came with it. It is no secret that he was completely over worked, committing so sometimes more than one show per day at a constant rate for years. This will eventually take its toll on an already fragile being.

Avicii obviously had enough of the exhaustive lifestyle, announcing his retirement from music in a statement where he hinted at his existential anxiety. He struggled to accept his life, he wanted so much more out of his existence than just playing music to people.

Yes, music was his passion and he loved making it. But the materialism and energy that came with being a famous DJ didn’t sit well with him. In 2016 in his Billboard interview he said

The scene was not for me. It was not the shows and not the music. It was always the other stuff surrounding it that never came naturally to me. All the other parts of being an artist. I’m more of an introverted person in general. It was always very hard for me. I took on board too much negative energy, I think.

The fact that the impact of this industry lead Tim to a very dark place with his mental health, leading to his own suicide is devastating. He was treated like a machine, existing only to provide entertainment and fulfil headlines of events. He wasn’t treated like a person and this affected him greatly.

Already a deep artist, he thought a lot into how he was treated and what he was fulfilling in his life. He spoke about his interests outside of the music industry and his ambitions to fulfil his personal aspirations besides being a DJ. Music was his job and it took over his life, he had no time to just be Tim, he constantly had to be Avicii, he biggest EDM DJ at the time.

These entertainers are people, who lack self care and help. In various interviews, Avicii spoke quite transparently about his struggles and his desire to break free from his lifestyle. It’s devastating that no one listened, and look what happened.

The main message I wanted to put out from this blog is that if you’re not happy with your life, change it. You cannot be forced into living a stressful life from pressure of other people, if it affects your mental health and happiness.

I think we can all relate to this on some level. Whether you don’t like your job and find yourself living for the weekend, or you’re struggling to find a career that you feel fulfilled in. I definitely relate to this (sounds a bit weird coming from a student from Cumbria saying she relates to a worldwide DJ), but I constantly worry about whether I’m fulfilled in life and have found myself in some pretty dark mindsets where I didn’t feel like life was work carrying on.

I feel like my life should mean more than working 9-5 to fulfil someone else’s dream. I feel like life can get really depressing if you’re not going something you love. At one point I kind of accepted that life is just meant to be that way and happiness is impossible. But it can’t be, if you fight for your own happiness then life can be beautiful. Think about what will make you happy and then do it. If that means giving up society all together and living in the jungle as part of a tribe then do it. If that means being your own boss and creating a fortune then start your own business.

I’m particularly struggling with existentialism at this point in my life. I’ve spent the last three years in uni surrounded by my best friends, went to live in ibiza for three months meeting new people every day and never having a boring moment to myself to now living quite an isolated life living alone and working with pretty much no social life. It’s been such a big change and I definitely have never felt loneliness like it, I think when you’ve experienced a lifestyle like travelling and being in a fun environment it definitely hits you hard when you come back to live alone and work full time. I just can’t settle with this life and I want something more, I cannot accept that this is what life is all about. I want happiness so bad and to just feel fulfilled in my life, but I’m definitely determined to get that for once.

We truly do have control of our own lives and I think Avicii’s story is a devastating example of what happens if you don’t just do what makes you happy. NOTHING is worth more than your own mental health. Be selfish, cut off relationships or friendships, quit a job that you hate, we all have the power to change our own lives. I’ve a long way to go but I’m always looking for ways to get my happiness, although I’m not sure where that might be yet I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m ready to work for a life I enjoy. Being selfish and focusing on yourself is more than okay and we should all do it. If only Avicii thought ‘fuck this’ and threw in the towel a lot earlier.

Beauty by Disaster x

How I Hid Depression With Instagram

Mental Health

I always knew that social media is the best cover-up known to man, with the right photos you can really paint your life to be whatever you want it to be and people will just accept it without question. You hear so many stories of people showing off a lavish life on Instagram without a penny to their name through cleverly thought out imagery and creating the representation of a life that doesn’t exist. I think we’re all guilty of glamming things up a bit for social media for whatever reason.

I originally became aware of the power of social profiling when I was in a really dark place. So many times my friends and family who don’t see me more than once a month due to distance would say to me ‘you look like you’re having a good time’ and ‘you look so happy’ all based on images they’ve seen on my social media profiles – me smiling, having fun and just generally positive pictures of my life.

The reality was so much more different. I was really really unhappy but of course that didn’t show through my photos. I smiled, posed and posted the best times of my life while leaving out the really dark times that were happening regularly. I just kind of want to remind everyone to stop taking social media seriously, they’re not realistic representations of how people are feeling. People aren’t gonna post the moments of them feeling shit or crying, they’re going to post photos of them all dressed up and seemingly having a good time. I’m not saying people should post their entire lives, I think social media will always be about the pretty moments of life. I just kind of want to add a bit of reality and let people know that social media covers up a lot.

Filtering Out The Bad Stuff

The picture above will always trigger a sad emotion in me, which is weird because I look like I’m being productive in the gym and have my life together. Oh my god, I certainly did not have my life together at this time by any means of the word. I was an absolute mess. I hated my life and I struggled to get out of bed everyday to face the world, my anxiety was absolutely out of control and I was having sleep paralysis every night to the point I couldn’t even go to sleep at night. I was completely dead behind the eyes, felt numb to the world and my head was well and truly gone.

Does this picture give any of this away to anyone? No, not in the slightest. In fact people will generally think I’m on the ball with my life and health when in reality I hadn’t been to the gym in 6 months and I forced myself there before having another panic attack and going back to bed. I can’t really explain it but it helped me to put this on social media, at least if other people thought I was okay I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone worrying or asking questions about my current state of a life. This was regular for me, if I posted seemingly positive moments of my life it made me feel less tragic and helped me keep up this fake persona I was maintaining for so long.

It affects me looking at this picture because it takes me back to this time in my life where I was really struggling with my mental health, I can see absolute no emotion behind my eyes and I know that at that moment in time I was a completely different person to who I really am. I was consumed by sadness and felt completely worthless. But this picture tells a whole different story, so everyone thought I was okay. There was no reason for them to believe I wasn’t, my social media told a completely different story to what was real.

If I compare this to a photo where I was actually happy and content with life, you really cannot see a difference. I look like the same person on the outside. But the differences between the two people in these two posts are unbelievable. I genuinely believe them to represent two completely different people, the first picture isn’t me. I was completely emotionless and scared for my life and that’s not me at all. They’ll look like just normal pictures to everyone else but to me, they stand out as two completely different times in my life and represent completely opposite mindsets. Just another of the 6274737725 reasons you cannot rely on social media to find out how people are.

The Power of a Smile

The picture above always hits hard for me too because i can’t even tell you how much of a disaster this night was. I look so happy and smiley and like I’m having an amazing time when in reality I got ready, got on the way to the club and had to turn around and go to bed because I started panicking as my mind turned against me and I physically couldn’t be out in public because I felt so anxious and lost. But I look like I went on to have an amazing night and enjoyed myself.

It is so bizarre to me how much a picture can hide. I know why I did it now, because i believed hiding how I really felt helped me ignore it when realistically it didn’t, I was just running from my problems. A post like the one above can just give off so many implications and none of them are even close to the reality. It makes me feel sick to look at it because it reminds me of how much my mind took a battering that night, and during that period of time when I was an anxious wreck who literally wrote a suicide note on my phone like the week before.

It’s crazy to me how well I hid things with the help of social media. My social posts and messages were the only connection I had to home at that time as I was living in Ibiza, so to all my family and friends I looked like I was having an amazing time and looked very happy. I even had multiple messages of people telling me they were jealous of how I was living, making me think ‘hahahaha you absolutely do not want this’.

Keep it Real

I know so many people will tell me that I shouldn’t post pictures like that if It gives off the wrong impression of my life. I’m not saying they’re all completely false, I did have a good time and in some photos I’m genuinely smiling and making good memories. I made the best memories of my life in Ibiza, don’t get me wrong. I’m also not saying people should post their troubles, everyone is entitled to privacy. I suppose I’m writing this as a way to remind people to never use social media as a way to suss out someone’s life and happiness.

What I’m saying is that a picture doesn’t tell the full story. You can’t make assumptions of an entire complex life because they posted a photo smiling, you just can’t. I want to remind people that everyone’s life isn’t what they seem on social media and you shouldn’t accept someone’s happiness through a post where they might seem happy. It is imperative to understand that social media is the best parts of someone’s life and no one really posts their hardships online (until I started sharing this blog and now I get anxious about people knowing I’m a mess). But it’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to show you’re cracks, you can’t keep up a perfect persona when you’re not okay.

This is so important in a modern day filled with influencers and social media dominance. We need to wake up and stop comparing ourselves to others or thinking that people are okay because they posted a photo of them smiling on instagram. Once we get into a mindset of awareness that social media I a massive lie 90% of the time, it will stop being negative in our lives and we can start using it for good.

I know more than most how easy it is to cover a shit time up with a few social media posts, working in marketing I definitely know how to build the image you want to build. I wanted people to think I was good and having a fun time because I wanted to believe it myself, but it doesn’t get rid of the issue. You can ignore it and try make out you’re happy but it won’t go away.

Although I get worried about people knowing about my problems, I definitely feel better. I couldn’t have spoke about it at the time but now I’m on the route to a better mindset and I actually feel happiness again, I only hope I can help other people understand that it’s not healthy to compare your life to those on social media because it’s just not realistic.

– Beauty by Disaster x

What People Don’t Tell You About Uni

Mental Health

After graduating from uni of course there’s nothing I’d rather do than go back and start the three years again of waking up at around 10am every day and sitting in a lecture for two hours before going back home to get ready to go out for the night. Uni was genuinely the best and worst time of my life: I had the best three years and looking back it’s definitely a fun lifestyle to have in comparison to full time adult life. But, there’s a few things that I wish I knew before I left my home town and moved miles down the country to begin an independent life on my own.

I always knew I was going to go uni, I didn’t even consider anything else. I wanted to be an English teacher so I knew I had to go (that quickly went out the window when I started working in secondary schools and realised how horrible it was). So I never even really thought about it, was never scared about anything and just went for it. The only thing I was worried about was getting a nice place to live (and i did my halls were unreal and way too nice for students).

I went to The University of Huddersfield and studied English Language and Literature to be a teacher, I loved my course and everyone was lovely who I met. The uni was really good and I liked where I lived, believe it or not Huddersfield is actually a decent place to live and I had a good time. I met life long friends and had the best nights/days of my life to date while I was a student. But it wasn’t all smooth-sailing and isn’t care-free for a lot of people.

Student mental health is a massive issue, BBC Three did a documentary on student suicides and it really makes you aware of how many students struggle with mental health. The support at my uni was really good, they had free counselling and a student welfare department that you knew were there in case you needed support and help. But, you definitely are tested through uni with problems of loneliness, unhealthy lifestyle habits and pressure. Although it’s an exciting time and you’re moving to a new place, a lot of people struggle with the changes and so many students drop out and move back home because it’s not what they expect.

I remember the day I move to uni being so low and lost, once my mam dropped me off in this place I’d never even been to before I just didn’t know what to do with myself and it just didn’t feel right. All I wanted to do was go back home to Cumbria and he with my family and friends, I genuinely didn’t see me staying there for the year never mind three. I just felt so lonely and homesick from the second I moved in, it took so long to shake this feeling and the entire first year I was coming home every weekend just to see my friends and family because I missed them too much. I just didn’t feel like I belonged and didn’t like the fact I was away from home. I remember that feeling of sadness so well and it’s a shock to me that I rarely even go home now and I’m so settled in Leeds that I consider it home.

I’m sure every student feels this way. It’s a massive change and you definitely feel homesick at some point, but I felt that I was lonelier than everyone else and it affected me more but I know now that won’t have been true. Every student around me seemed to be having the best time but I know they would all be feeling the same, we were all a bit lost and all on our own. It just takes some getting used to.

Obviously, some just throw in the towel and leave and say it isn’t for them. Each to their own, but it definitely just takes time. I was so low and lost and so certain that I wasn’t going to last at uni, but now I’ve graduated and setting up a life here in Leeds for myself on my own and I know this is what I want to do. You grow away from your hometown and experiencing another area makes you realise how different life can be. I’m more suited to city lifestyle and couldn’t even imagine going back home now for longer than a few days, so I’ve definitely glad I stayed at uni.

So loneliness is huge when you’re at uni. You’ve left all your friends and family and you’re on your own to meet people. I’m a really shy person and it takes me ages to build bonds with others and I am so selective about who I call my friends. It took my ages to make friends at uni, like I had people I got on with and spent time with but I only call people my ‘friends’ who I can rely on and can tell anything to. I met loads of people in uni but I only made a few friends, that’s all I need though. I like a smaller circle of real people compared to loads of friends you can’t even go to with a problem.

The main thing you can do to prepare and combat this is to just understand that you don’t need loads of people around you to be loved. You need to understand that you’re not going to get on with everyone and it might take time to build friendships that you value, but it will happen. If I can make friends than anyone can cause 18 year old Nikita was way too shy and quiet compared to now. I was so anxious and just couldn’t socialise properly, I hated small talk and would rather avoid speaking to people than just aimlessly talk to people. I’m still kind of like that but I’m definitely more open to friendships now because I know it takes time to create genuine bonds, but it does happen. I have friends for life that I met in first year at uni, everyone just naturally meets compatible people who you then move into a house with in second year and it goes from there.

What I’m basically trying to say is, it will happen for you. If you’re worried about socialising and making friends at uni, don’t stress it. You’ll find at least someone who you get on with and who you can relate to and that’s all you really need. Just remember it takes time and you will naturally find your feet. Don’t try to be something you’re not and spend time with people you genuinely like and relate to, or you’re not going to enjoy your time. Forget about what anyone thinks and do what you want to do, be genuine to yourself and don’t stress too much. You’ve always got yourself anyway and I believe it’s important to enjoy your own company before you spend time with others, you need to be content when you’re alone so you’re not in constant need of others.

Another problem definitely has to be unhealthy lifestyles in uni. I know so many people who just take it as a chance to party constantly and have fully lost their head and haven’t made it to the end. If you’re going out there with the mindset that you’re gonna party non stop and put your work on a back seat, you’re probably gonna not last. Student lifestyle is so easily adapted to just constantly drinking, doing drugs and going out. You just can’t do that for three years straight, you need to find a balance.

I was good with finding a balance. In fact, whilst at uni I was probably in the best shape fitness wise than I’ve ever been. The first year of uni I dropped nearly two stone by joining a gym and eating healthier meals after piling on loads of fat over a long summer before uni. I don’t know how I managed it but I was so strict with dieting and fitness that I managed to keep in good shape throughout uni, whereas a lot of people can just eat shit and not work out much and drink way too much, ending up putting loads of weight on.

I still don’t know how I managed to stay in better shape through uni than I did after graduation, you’d expect it to be the other way round. I just think it’s so important to look after yourself at uni. I know too many students who just don’t look after themselves: rooms a mess, eating shit food constantly, drinking too much alcohol, putting on weight. It’s inevitably gonna make you very unhappy and I think I healthy lifestyle through uni keeps you level headed enough to do well.

If you’re partying all the time you’re not gonna show up to lectures, you don’t show up to lectures you’ll end up being kicked out and back to square one. It’s just about being healthy in both body and mind and looking after yourself. At the end of the day, uni can be very stressful and you need to take time away from partying to just chill and keep healthy.

Another problem: pressure. Some students put themselves under way too much pressure to succeed without taking into consideration their own happiness. I watched a documentary on students at Oxford University on the stories of two young people taking their own lives from stress and pressure to succeed, working endless hours to just try and do well and it all got too much. Don’t let it consume your life!

I spent way too long pushing myself towards a career I didn’t even want because I thought it would look good to others. It was only recently I decided to change my route and do something I actually enjoy: writing. I chose my degree thinking it would be a creditable course, not picking a certain subject because it didn’t seem as ‘smart’. Don’t do that. Do whatever you find interesting and if you’re passionate enough, you’ll get a good career out of it.

I did an entire English degree to be a teacher and it took me until the end of final year for me to realise I didn’t want to do that. I hated my placement in a school and it put way too much stress on me. I did the interview and got a place on a teaching course and just dreaded the day it started. I did all this because it was my original plan and I found I was forcing myself to do it. Although it let people down, I dropped out last minute and decided to put my happiness first. I’m glad I did, I’m now in a job that I love and I haven’t looked back once.

Put yourself first, put in the graft and get something out of it. Uni is about growing and becoming the person you’re supposed to be before entering the adult world. And honestly, it’s the best years of your life and you will not get them back. Live in the moment and appreciate them while you’re there. Take every single opportunity you get. Travel and see the world. Do everything you can while you’re in uni cause once you’ve graduated to the real world you’ll find you just don’t have the time. Now I’m working and paying rent to my own apartment and paying back debt from my uni lifestyle, I can’t really just up and travel. But when you’re in uni you can. Rack up debt, live in the moment do so much and then deal with it later. I promise you the memories will be worth it.

Beauty by Disaster x

Has Social Media Made Mental Illness Fashionable?

Mental Health

I’ve seen a few tweets here and there about how modern social media culture has made it ‘fashionable’ to be mentally unstable and it got me thinking. With all the memes you see about suicide and depression I can kind of see where these people are coming from, but I do have an issue with people openly accusing others of faking mental health problems to look ‘fashionable’. There’s nothing stylish about mental instability, trust me.

Meme Therapy

There are soooo many memes online like the one above which create humour out of depression. I get why people might say this could make others take depression less seriously, but I kind of want to make it clear how these memes can help people in struggling times before we jump to conclusions.

I follow a lot of mental health instagrams and influencers so I see these types of memes a lot. When I personally see them, I find light hearted humour in them and also a kind of relation to so many other people that tells me I’m not alone. The bottom line is, they are relatable to those battling mental illness. So what’s wrong with using humour to deal with our problems? Yeah, is a bit on the dark side and isn’t for everyone. But if it helps people cope, it helps people cope and we can’t really tell others how to deal with their problems.

What’s The Problem?

Dark humour like this could be argued to make depression almost fashionable and attract people to falsely self-diagnose. Seeing things like this might normalise such a dark, painful illness which brings devastation on so many people every day. I get that completely.

Don’t get me wrong I definitely see why people will say these memes are wrong and can lift the seriousness of mental health (when they already aren’t taken serious enough) but there is definitely positives to these types of social posts too – it just depends on how you look at it.

I’m Not Alone After All

One of the biggest burdens that depression and mental illness can bring on you is feeling of being completely alone. You think that no one else feels the way you do and everyone is living a happily life while you sit on the side lines feeling sorry for yourself. This was a massive thing for me, through all the countless days I sat in on my own struggling to even get out of bed for some reason I thought every single person in the world was out living some amazing life – I was obviously wrong. But at the time I felt so alone in my struggles.

Since starting this blog a lot of people have said to me that I hide my problems well and they didn’t know I was struggling so much, I’m not really surprised at this because the majority of my friends and family only see me like once a month and if you judge my life on my social media posts so ‘look like I’m living a good life’. When people have reached out to me and said they feel the same, I was shocked. My eyes have been opened recently that so many other people feel like I do and life definitely isn’t smooth sailing for anyone, which just made me want to blog more.

So, when I see memes like this it kind of lets me relate to something so I don’t feel alone. Like I said in my healthier social feed blog, I like posts which are real and I can relate to. So many people post these memes on Instagram and honestly my feed is full of them because of the accounts i follow. Seeing them just kind of lightens the mood of a very dark and devastating illness that so many have to face every single day. I know I’m not dealing with my problems but if it can bring a smile to my face and make me realise I’m less alone, then so be it. Maybe my humour is a little too dark but it definitely helps me, and thousands of others it seems.

Shit At Talking

A lot of people use social media posts to give cries for help, without directly asking for it. If you’re shit at talking to people like me and hate talking about your problems, liking posts and retesting tweets about struggling mental health can kind of help people understand. It sounds soooo stupid I know, but I see it as a way of letting people know how I feel without actually having to say it.

I tweet things and post things I would never ever say in person to anyone, because I’m either embarrassed or too anxious about it. I sometimes scroll down my Twitter and it’s all depressing shit and I’m like Christ, are you okay? I can be such a negative bitch at times but I can’t help it and there is definitely reasons behind why I post depressing things.

You could probably scroll down my twitter and see at which points I’ve been really struggling, judging by my tweets and likes. In terms of Instagram, I’m likely to post pictures of older times and avoid recent pictures to kind of keep up the happy lively persona whilst hiding a very unhappy current life. My instagram could look so bright and exciting, I’ve even had people say to me how much fun it looks like my life is and I’m like – really? Because I know the brutal reality behind it. My Twitter is another story, I’m usually quite dark in my posts and use it as a way of kind of expressing how I really feel, with the off funny video thrown in of someone falling over.

Don’t Throw The Word Around

That being said, I definitely am against using terms like ‘depression’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘suicide’ when you don’t have experience with it. Throwing these terms around in everyday speech is quite harmful to the stigma we are trying so hard to break down.

I’m sure you’ve seen it before, and I’ve definitely done it when I was in school. Saying things like ‘oh I’m so depressed’ as a means of saying you’re a bit sad about a situation, knowing fine well you’re perfectly mentally stable. After fighting with and battling mental illness, I’m now against people throwing these serious terms around. Because it does make you think that people aren’t taking it seriously.

I’m definitely not saying that certain people have more of a right to talk about mental illness. I’m definitely not diagnosing people as mentally stable without fully knowing their situation because after all you never know what someone is battling inside their head. I’m sure when people see me liking posts about suicide and depression think that I have no right and I’m not taking the issue seriously – trust me, I am.

I think it is a huuuge grey area, we never truly know how mentally stable someone is and what their struggles can be. I just wanted to kind of highlight the advantages and disadvantages of using humour around mental health issues. I wanted people to understand how mental illness sufferers use these as a form of help, release and relating to others.

Mental illness isn’t fashionable, it’s not cute to be a mess. It definitely isn’t attractive to be 5 mine deep into a panic attack episode where you feel like you’re an actual psychopath with no connection to the real world. It’s not something you want, trust me. Let us break the stigma and make it as normally talked about as physical illness, stop having a go at people for posting about their problems online. If you do that, you’re the problem.

– Beauty By Disaster x

Harmful Self-Medication: 5 Things You Need to Stop Doing

Mental Health

It can be so difficult to face up to mental health issues and personally, it has taken far too long for me to identify and notice what was going wrong. It’s all about learning what betters and worsens our life and creating a routine of growth towards a healthier you. Self-medication can either help or harm your situation, we tend to do it when there are limited options are available which is common in England with such a high demand and lack of resources to help everyone.

In my experience, I’ve foolishly taken part in damaging self medicating techniques which have worsened my issues in a lot of ways. But, I don’t dwell on it too much as I see it as part of my growing process to a better person. We kind of have to experience bad forms of self medication before we can find healthy methods that work for us, but I’m here to highlight where you could be going wrong and changes you can make to improve your growth.

1. Vicious Cycles

The first step to a journey of growth is to identify the flaws and difficulties in your life. I know it can be really difficult as mental health has a way of confusing you and making you feel very lost, but trying to analyse and identify where you face problems in your life can sometimes be really effective in finding the right steps you need to take for a healthier mind.

Maybe you get anxious in social situations, a relationship puts emotional strain on you or you have an unhappy life at work. Whatever you don’t like about you life, there are ways to change this. Never just accept unhappiness because you deserve to be happy and content in you life, everyone does. The brutal reality is that if you simply settle for an unhappy life and you’re unwilling to change the things that bother you, you can’t expect anything to change. When I struggled with a very unhappy mindset and life, I made a lot of lists of things I wanted to do and change. An example of this is when I was unemployed and felt very worthless and unhappy, I made it my sole goal to get a job for something to focus on and get me out of bed every day. This was not easy, in fact the day of my interview my mind was completely fighting against me and I was in tears minutes before I had to leave my house saying I couldn’t do it and there was no point. I was soooo close to not going but I thought fuck this I’m not giving up once again, I did the interview and I’m now in an amazing job which I love. I make lists like everyday, I’m a bit of an organisation freak and I live for notebooks and stationary. But I found that making these lists of steps I needed to take to extinguish stresses of my life, no matter how small or big they were, was an essential step in the early stages of my journey.

2. Making Excuses

And that brings me onto the next point. I am an absolute expert at making excuses not to do things that I know will benefit me. I’ve amazed myself at how easily it can be to talk myself out of doing things, especially the gym. Even though I know I’m going to absolutely hate myself for not doing it, I’ll still convince myself not to do it. I’m still learning not to do this and I genuinely believe everyone does it from time to time, but I definitely don’t do it as much. When you’re feeling very low, it’s even easier to make excuses because you just don’t see the point in anything. Even making your bed in the morning is a massive effort because when you’re having a depressive episode, all you can manage is to lie in bed and avoid the world even though you know you have so much you could do to improve your life.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s far easier said than done to just tell you to stop making excuses and start making changes to your life. When you’re in a bad place, it can seem impossible. I’m here to tell you that once you stop making excuses and with a clear mind start to just do things you know will benefit you, you will soon find yourself on a journey to a better mind set. No matter how small the task, even making your bed in the morning, can give you a positive mindset for the day and improve your outlook. Excuses are the devil on your shoulder and the demon on your back telling you you can’t do something, when you can do anything you set your mind to. Just ignore them voices they talk nothing but shit.

3. Feeling Shame

We are all aware of the stigma around mental health. There are so many reasons why people don’t want to talk about their mental well-being, many of which are related to how others will think of them. Feeling shameful about your mental health problems is just not an option. Mental health should be taken just as seriously as physical health, just because you can’t see the damage does not mean it’s there. Mental illness is one of the biggest killers out there, so why the hell is it not taken seriously?

I know it’s difficult to open up and wear your problems on your sleeve. There’s no chance i would have posted so openly about my problems like this even a few months ago, I’m still so shocked that I’ve done this but I am so proud of myself for being open now. I’m not ashamed of my mental health problems like I used to be and I think that’s down to educating myself on what’s actually wrong with me as opposed to just labelling myself a bit weird. I definitely think the stigma is slowly breaking and people are being more open, World Mental Health Day is my favourite day of the year because we really do all work to break down the barriers and there’s never a more supportive day to be part of.

The second you feel shameful for how you feel, the least likely you are to deal with the problems. You need to understand that you’re only human and you’re experiencing things that so many other people go through on a daily basis. It’s okay not to be okay, and there is no embarrassment in struggling – it’s part of life. It’s time to stop feeling shameful and ignoring your issues as a way of self-medicating. Ignoring your issues and pushing them away won’t make them go, you need to deal with them and I promise you will be glad you did.

4. Substance Abuse

I’ve spoke about substance abuse before in other posts, but I cannot emphasise enough how damaging it is to use these as a way for self-medicating your problems. Alcohol and narcotics have so many psychologically damaging effects, it seems ridiculous to integrate them into an already unhealthy mind. I myself and so many other people in the world have used substances as a way of escaping their problems and trying to cope with life, whether it helps temporarily or not, it is definitely not the answer.

All you’re really doing is putting off dealing with your problems. You either deal with them, or let them rule your life for the rest of your days. Drinking alcohol and abusing drugs to cope with your problems is not dealing with your problems. I believe if people could see the psychological damage that substance abuse can do to a mind, so many people would not use them. For so long I wasn’t aware of the effects that these substances had on me, read my Dry January blog post for why I decided to quit alcohol for the start of 2019 (a little update: I’m feeling a lot better in my mindset and productivity already and becoming more and more against alcohol as the month goes on).

Educate yourself on how damaging substance abuse can be, in attempt to discourage yourself from using them. Obviously, it is so patronising to tell people to just stop drinking or whatever, after all they are addictive substances for a reason. But what I would heavily suggest is that if you think you’re using these substances in a harmful way, seek help. I would start with the Recovery Helpline to talk to an expert who can put you in contact with local schemes and routes to help. There are so many charities and medical help out there to aid people who struggle with addition and substance abuse habits, use them to get yourself to a better place. I’m not saying all drugs are bad, as there are prescribed options which can aid mental well-being, but never self-medicate with any substances without medical advice first.

5. Not Seeking Help

One of the worst things you can do when struggling in a dark place, and something I did for far too long, is not seek help. Whether it’s just taking to a friend, to visiting your GP for advice, bringing other people into your situation can benefit in so many ways. Struggling on your own only heightens the isolation and feeling of failure, it is definitely not weak to reach out for help.

If, like me, you don’t want to bother other people with your problems or feel like talking to other people will do no help, please try to remember that people care about you and your life matters to this world. Mental illness can be a very draining burden to carry and it is unfair to have to carry it alone, especially when there are options available to help you.

statistics from itv.com

I have always been a very independent person who lives to deal with things on my own, hence why I never asked for help or talked to others about my problems. I didn’t see a point and thought that including other people would just bring stress on them. Chances are, your loved ones already notice your illness and sadness and would probably love nothing more than you to reach out to them. I for one know that I could help people with their problems by talking to them, the hard part is letting them let you in on their lives – something I can fully understand because I was so against telling people my own problems.

It is completely okay and admirable to just ask for help or even just let people in to lift the load a little. If you’re still dead against taking to anyone, there are so many amazing charities out there who were created just to support people like you. An amazing charity I would like to put out there is the Crisis Text Line UK, perfect for people who don’t want to reach out to friends or family or who don’t want to talk on the phone to Samaritans. It is a 24/7 free texting service which allows you to talk to a helpful volunteer who want nothing more than to help you live your life a little easier. Use these amazing services available to you and take a load off your back as living with mental illness is far to draining to deal with it alone.

I have definitely used every single one of these self-medicating techniques and I’d be lying if I said they don’t still creep up now and then. But I think the best thing I could have done is identify where I was going wrong so I could avoid these destructive patterns that made me a bit of a mess afterwards. No, I’m not a straight-edged sober warrior who never breaks down now and then. I still have my moments where I lie in bed all day and find it impossible to get up and face the world. But I know where I go wrong now, and I know what I need to do to get to a better place. I know what works for me and what doesn’t, I’ll be writing a blog soon about methods I’ve used to positively self-medicate, because there definitely is a lot of things I’ve noticed help me a lot in terms of anxiety and a poor mindset.

I hope this has helped not only inform you on where you could be harming yourself, but also gave you an insight into what loved ones may be doing in times of crisis.

– Beauty By Disaster x

A Healthier Social Feed: Top 4 Mental Health Influencers

Uncategorized

As i’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently became so bored with the same Instagram feed of pretty outfits and MUA make-up looks. I went on a mass unfollowing spree one day of any accounts that I tended to compare my life to and that gave me encouragement for unhealthy patterns and behaviours – by the way I have nothing against the accounts that promote pretty things at all, I just have my own confidence issues I have to deal with. So, now my feed is full of positive messages and influencers who broadcast mental health support. I have so much respect for people with a large following who focus on these real topics! They all know what a career in social media demands (looking pretty, promoting products, etc.) but they still decide to go against it and talk about important issues. They’re not being paid to do it, they post real content and I love that about them. These are my top Instagram and social media influencers that I follow who promote mental health awareness in an amazing way.

Sarah Goodhart

If you don’t know Sarah Goodhart, she is an MUA based in Newcastle who has had a past on MTV reality shows Geordie Shore and Ex On The Beach – but she is way more than just another reality star. She is by far one of my favourite Instagram icons and Youtubers, she is such a likeable person and dedicates her accounts to talk openly about her mental health in order to raise awareness of real issues. I follow Sarah on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube and just relate to so much that she talks about and posts.

In my darkest times when I completely lost myself as a person and felt so lost, I watched her Youtube religiously as she was pretty much going through the same thing and just to be able to relate to someone else, particularly a social influencer, just made me feel less alone and not as much of a total loss. She spoke a lot about party culture in relation to being in a dark place, and I couldn’t believe how much i related to every word! She made me make better decisions about who I spent my time with and how i dealt with my issues. Her mental health journey is documented a lot on her Youtube and Twitter, she really isn’t afraid to just be an open book about her struggles and quite honestly, she’s the inspiration behind me making this blog unanonymous to my name.

If you don’t already, I’d recommend following Sarah on social media and take a look at her Youtube, particularly if you struggle with anxiety (or even if you just love MUA looks, because her work is amazing). She will just give you some entertaining videos of a relatable voice that will let you know that it’s okay if you’re struggling but it will get better. Click the links to follow her Youtube, Instagram and Twitter accounts and i’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Chloe Blackburn

Chloe Blackburn is an Instagram influencer based in Newcastle who has always amazed me with her success, being the owner of a successful make-up artistry studio ‘CC Makeup Artists’ at just 22 years old. I’ve followed Chloe for years on Instagram, starting just because I loved her pictures of the make-up looks that she created (they’re incredible). I really like Chloe’s Instagram posts because they’re not your average Influencer pictures, she too talks about mental health in an open way and has done so many amazing things to contribute to raising awareness for real issues.

I just think that her posts are so relatable and real, she breaks barriers of the average fake life of an influencer and just shows herself for who she really is. Chloe has done so much self-motivated work for mental health, she frequently organises events to help those that are struggling. She’s made her own events to raise awareness for mental health, gave out mental health packs to the public simply just to help people and even does her bit to promote smaller businesses and MUAs which is such an admirable thing in this age. She really uses her large following as a platform to address bigger problems and I genuinely believe she has made a massive impact on the Instagram influencer world by showing how popular it can be just to be a real, genuine person.

Following Chloe will give you real posts to your feed which addresses mental health and charitable issues, which have particularly helped me when i’m struggling by just letting me know that there are people out there working so hard to make a difference! I’d follow Chloe here particularly if you’re from the Newcastle area so you can take part in any future events she may run, or even to just visit her beautiful studio to have your make-up done amazingly.

Jera Foster-Fell

Jera is an Instagram influencer and blogging icon in the world of mental health awareness. I started following her recently after discovering her amazing blog where she gives life advice which i’m sure everyone could find useful and helpful to their lives, I know i did. I just find her relatable and real, another successful influencer who uses her voice for the good in raising awareness of mental health issues.

I love her Instagram feed – she posts pretty pictures like all influencers do but her real personality shines through her social media accounts. She really takes a role of empowering women through encouraging us all to find our voice and break out of our comfort zone. She posts real-life images of her genuine memories which i also admire, it is quite rare to find this in many modern influencers these days as these authentic posts have been proven to appeal as less popular to brands looking to invest in an influencer – but she definitely makes it work!

I also really like Jera’s fitness posts. She lives a healthy life and although she promotes just being comfortable in your own skin as yourself, she also encourages me to work out more and learn better eating habits. I do think i need little posts of encouragement along my social media feed to make me get up off my lazy bum and just go to the gym, because it always makes me feel so much better afterwards and works wonders on my mindset and productivity! So, if you want some encouragement to just be a healthier, happier and more genuine person i’d give Jera a follow here.

The Mental Health Store

When you’re struggling, scrolling through feeds and stumbling across and motivational quote can sometimes work absolute wonders. I’ve kind of just accepted that social media is now a big part of my life and rather than trying to fight it like i have in the past by deleting all the apps and accounts (kind of just running from the issue) I’ve decided to just change how i use it to make it healthier for my mind. Social media isn’t just full of fakery, believe it or not. There are so many Instagram accounts out there that can help build a better feed! The Mental Health Store is one of those.

They regularly post inspirational quotes and motivating images which are designed to just give you a little lift. With their high activity, I will probably scroll past at least one of their posts every time i look at Instagram. It is just so nice to break up the usual selfies and gloating pictures with little pick-me-ups. They’re just nice to see and sometimes can relate so much to my current situation it can be exactly what i need to hear at the time.

My Instagram feed is full of accounts like this! If you type ‘mental health’ into the Instagram search bar, you’ll be amazed at how many helpful accounts there actually is. My feed is so much healthier now, when i scroll i’m not constantly comparing myself to beautifully airbrushed bodies, I’m being motivated and encouraged towards a better mindset. I’d definitely recommend everyone to follow them here, it’ll definitely brighten up your social feed and make your endless scrolling a little more beneficial to your mind.

So, those are my top four social media accounts which have benefited my mental health in my darkest times. I would like to take this as an opportunity to encourage you all to make a healthier social feed for yourself, your mind and confidence will thank you for it later! Think about any accounts that impact you in a negative way, whether you just find them annoying or they encourage unrealistic goals for yourself. Now, just unfollow them. Get rid of them, its as easy as that. Build a healthier feed with more positive messages and good vibes, and social media won’t seem like such a devil to you anymore – we can actually use it as a tool to benefit ourselves!

Stop being a slave to Instagram models and product endorsements. How many teeth whitening and fake tan companies even exist now? It’s a fucking joke! I just find #ad posts kind of cringe now, they seem so fake to me. Twitter is by far my favourite platform because it’s just usually funny videos and real tweets, the big bad marketing companies and businesses haven’t got their hands on our Twitter yet so it’s just full of genuine people. I still have a long way to go but my Instagram feed is looking better already! I can’t wait to have a fully-supportive social media system in place and start using it as a motivating tool in my life, I’d encourage you to do the same. And honestly, just steer clear of the explore page because no one needs that in their life.

– Beauty By Disaster x

How You Can Help: 6 Signs a Loved One Is Suicidal

Mental Health

Suicidal thoughts are an absolute killer and anyone who has experienced them knows how draining they can be. It can sometimes feel like you are carrying a constant weight on your back, having to battle against life everyday just to stay alive. If you said to me even last year that I would ever have suicidal thoughts, I just would never have believed you. My approach to suicide was simply ‘why would you want to end your life? What a waste‘. They have a funny way of creeping up on you and surprising you and before you know it, they’re a massive part of your life.

One thing I hate about society is the entire ‘talk to someone’ idea of if suicidal people just reach out to someone, they will find a reason to live. I just think this is a load of shit. There has been so many cases where people have been visibly suffering yet no one speaks up about it or addresses them in any way until they are no longer here. Nothing angers me more than the endless ‘if only they spoke to someone’ statements following someone’s devastating suicide. Chances are they did reach out one way or another whether directly saying they wanted to end their life or not, the latter being the more likely. Reaching out is a point of absolute desperation. Suicide is a last resort. It is so important to look out for the signs before it’s too late. Here are some key ones to look out for.

1. Talking About Death

Suicidal thoughts target anyone. Suicide does not care if you are loud, quiet, outgoing, shy, active or lazy. Suicidal thoughts can intrude on any mind, intelligent or not. It is extremely hard to identify who is suffering. Although some people hide it better than others, you never know what is going on in someone’s mind. But there are little cracks that show that can suggest how they’re feeling.

Talking about death, whether jokingly or not, could be a cry for help. I’m not saying whenever someone mentions death they’re immediately on the verge of ending their life, but suicidal people usually bring up death as a topic of conversation or even joke about ending their life. In my darkest times, I wouldn’t dare openly say that I was a suicidal mainly because of the stigma around the subject, but I have jokingly mentioned ending my life and used lighthearted humour of a dark subject to hint that I was unhappy.

What you can do: Listen to your friends and family, paying attention to the topics they discuss. If they’re suddenly bringing a up topics about death and telling you how they want to be remembered/how they want their funeral to go, whether in a joking way or not, these may be cries for help. Always listen and never brush off potential reaches for guidance.

2. Self-Destructive Behaviour

Dysregulated behaviours or self destructive acts are one of the more obvious signs of psychological stress of suicidal tendencies. If a person is acting erratically, taking risky actions without even considering the consequences as though they’re only concerned with the current moment and do not pay any attention to the future ahead.

In my darkest times when I was almost certain I wouldn’t see a year ahead, I made some very stupid decisions which I’m still dealing with now. The life I lived was full of self-destruction, with daily patterns of substance abuse and creating some serious financial problems for my future. The only way I can describe it is doing everything I could to make my life worse, to make it easier to end my life. It sounds ridiculous but suicidal people see no future and simply don’t care about consequences. In that dark moment, you will literally do anything as you don’t value your own life. It’s a very scary time for anyone and can lead to some serious problems.

What you can do: If your friend is behaving in an erratic way and doing very stupid things in destruction of their own life, take time to talk to them. Telling them the consequences of what they’re doing won’t really have an impact as they’re already aware of the consequences, they just don’t care about them. Take time to find out what’s wrong with them, be there for them and regardless whether you agree with their choices or not, do not lecture them or abandon them in their time of need.

3. Neglecting Responsibilities

Suicidal people have a tendency to neglect and lose hope for their life. This can involve anything including missing rent payments, not showing up for work, dropping out of social events and putting no effort into their appearance or psychical health. When all you see is an end, it is difficult to do anything that contributes to a future.

This can be quite difficult to spot in some cases, as if they’re like me, they can be very good at putting on a persona and painting their life out to be successful and happy. However, if enough time is spent with the suffering individual, cracks will inevitably begin to show. Whether gaining or losing weight, having general poor appearance, a dramatic decrease in work effort, the entire function of the individuals life will begin to fail. Once we stop putting effort in, particularly in adulthood, so much can fall apart to the point where picking up the pieces will be more than difficult.

What you can do: if you notice these patterns of neglect in a loved ones life, you can either support them by helping them with their responsibilities or find the route of the underlying issue. Noticing little signs like this and reaching out to your friends could push them to open up and ask for help. If they are unlikely to ask for help and have a tendency to deal with their problems on their own, it usually takes the reaching hand of a loved one offering help to make the first steps to recovery.

4. Substance Abuse

Harmful use of substances involving drugs, alcohol and prescription medication almost always have direct links to psychological damage and trauma. A coping mechanism for many people, substance abuse of excessive drug-taking and alcohol consumption can highlight someone’s personal struggles.

If a friend is drinking too often, using drugs to cope with every day life or getting themselves in dangerous states as a result of substance abuse, it is highly likely they use these as a means of escaping reality for a while. Alcohol and drugs are seen as the key to just stopping emotional pain for a little while, which ultimately worsens the bigger issue over time. So many people self-medicate using alcohol and drugs to deal with everyday stresses or psychological trauma, conscious or not to the fact that they are simply running from dealing with the major issue.

It is fairly easy to spot this behaviour most of the time, however in some cases individuals will hide their substance abuse and reliance from the world through shame. Although, if you are close enough to the suffering person, there will inevitably signs that point towards excessive substance use.

What you can do: the best thing a friend can do when dealing with addiction or substance abuse is to not contribute to or enable their actions. Although it is unfair to say change your own lifestyle to prevent encouragement of someone else’s actions, it is important to not directly invite your struggling friend into situations where they are exposed to harmful substances. Be a friend to the person, get them to socialise in an environment where there are no pressures to consume drugs or alcohol. Be a friend and supporter of the persons recovery, not an encouragement to an even darker place.

5. Failing Relationships

When someone is struggling, it is more than likely they feel entirely alone in their situation. I know from experience that when you don’t even know why you feel a certain way, the last thing you will attempt to do is explain your thoughts to another person. I used to think that talking to people was pointless. I thought that people were only concerned about my problems to be nosey, not to help me. I thought that there was no way out and talking to someone would in no way benefit me. I’m a very independent person and although it’s made me a stronger person today, dealing with my problems alone and with no help didn’t have to be the only way out. I could have been a lot happier a lot quicker if I just reached out earlier.

When suicidal, people will have a tendency to neglect relationships with people. Depression and mental illness has a funny way of numbing your emotions and making you almost careless of anyone else. It can change your entire personality and make you appear as a completely different person. Although the true person is still in there somewhere, their intrusive mental thoughts have ultimately turned them into a numb, emotionless person who just cannot be bothered to socialise and maintain relationships.

If your friend is perhaps neglecting their social group or spending a lot of time on their own, reach out to them. Make the effort with them to get them socialising, make consistent effort even after they brush you off because this kind of communication lets them know that there are people out there who do care. A simple invite could make someone’s day and remind them that they do have friends and people to rely on.

What you can do: although it is frustrating when friends constantly reject invites to socialise, it is important to always have an open mind about these situations. Try and understand that socialising is too difficult for them right now. Although they keep denying your reaches out, be consistent and don’t just stop inviting them places as this could end hope all together. Simple communication is so important to a persons recovery, never let your friends or loved ones feel even more alone than they already do.

6. How They Talk

As I mentioned before, it really annoys me when people tell someone to ‘just talk to someone’ if they’re feeling suicidal. This is because when someone is seriously struggling in a dark place, their communication can be completely off. I think it’s only something that can be understood by people who have experienced such an awful mindset. For suicidal people, socialising is seen as a pointless chore and can be so difficult for multiple reasons.

If you know someone is struggling and their communication suddenly weakens or you struggle to even hold a conversation with them anymore, this could be a sign that your loved one is struggling. It is so easy to just assure yourself that they’re feeling a little off or are maybe a little angry with you, but the deeper psychological issue is probably more than you can even comprehend. The main reason people don’t directly reach out for help when suicidal is because they simply don’t know how. What do you even say? There are so many concerns and fears that come with reaching out for help. I used to think I was unfixable so talking about it with anyone else would be a pointless exercise.

What you can do: simply be there for them, don’t just dismiss them as a friend if they’re being distant and quiet. If they’re displaying signs of struggling, you should help your friend and actively pursue them to join you in a road to recovery. Simply waiting around for them to ask for help is dangerous as it could lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of care system for your loved one.

If you know someone suffering from suicidal thoughts or if you’re struggling yourself, there are so many methods of getting help suitable for every situation. If you don’t want to face family or friends, contact Samaritans or Mind UK for advice on where to go forward. There is nothing braver than finally accepting you need help and commit yourself to a road to recovery.

I’m not personally ready to go into my own journey yet, but I can assure anyone who needs to hear this that life can and will get better for you. No matter how hard you view life and regardless of how unfixable you think you are, you have every right to happiness and you deserve to live a good life.

– Beauty by Disaster x

Instagram vs. Reality: A Movement

Mental Health

Scrolling through Instagram last night, as I always do, I stumbled across something that caught my attention and made me see things in a slightly different way. 2016 Love Island finalist, Olivia Bowen, posted a lengthy story focusing on the power of angles and posture using Gym Shark leggings to prove how Instagram influencers and models can manipulate their bodies to create the best images for their profile.

Using the hashtag #GetReal, recently married reality star Olivia Bowen exposed the ‘secrets of high-waisted gym leggings and posture’ by comparing footage of her fully posed and looking amazing, with more realistic images featuring natural posture. She set out to let everyone know that Instagram is simply a platform where people post themselves at their best and it is so harmful to compare your natural state to other people’s posed perfection – and she did a pretty good job!

Instagram: Olivia Buck

Nobody is Perfect

‘Instagram vs Reality’ posts is a popular trend for Instagram influencers and particularly reality stars. They were created for the purpose of exposing the falseness of social media and to assure people that it is okay to be yourself and that nobody on this entire planet and galaxy is perfect.

The trend usually consists of comparing two pictures: one perfectly posed and Instagram-worthy, and one more realistic view taken at the same time with more natural posing and lighting. I love seeing popular influencers doing this and it makes me really respect them, as it shows that they care about the mentality of their followers and shows encouragement to a more healthier social media environment. I really respect people who do this as it makes them so much more relatable – social media is a big part of their job and it is usually necessary for them to come across as ‘perfect’ but posting realistic images can sometimes impact their actual careers and relationship with Instagram and other brands. However, when they post these realistic images it attracts nothing but praise and respect from the world of social media – could this be a sign of a change in mentality and what will be considered popular on Instagram in the future?

Instagram: Anna Victoria

Give Us More!

I think I speak on behalf of every Instagram user when I say these realistic comparison posts do wonders for our self confidence. It lets us know the reality behind an image. When I look at a fully-posed image of myself, I’m aware of all of my flaws and how I look when I’m not fully Instagrammed up. However, when other people look at those pictures that I post they will assume I look like that all the time. When I’m lying in bed with a face full of spot cream and unwashed hear tied up in a bun on top of my head, scrolling through endless pictures of perfect girls, it makes me feel so shit to see such pretty images when I feel so ugly. What I need to remember is that these girls don’t look like that. We compare other people’s highlights with our own blooper reals and once again, add pressure on ourselves to look a certain way – I think the world of Instagram is started to say enough is enough.

Let’s have more realistic posts! I want to see your reality, not your poses. Show me pictures of your dog, let me see naturally candid photos of you laughing with your friends. I am so bored of pouty, miserable-looking poses of girls wearing the same Pretty Little Thing dress that we have all seen before. I want to see everyone adventures, their family, their home. This is a key reason why I went on a major unfollowing spree of influencers last year to create a more natural timeline of people I know and accounts that post real life. I was so done with fakery and seeing unrealistic images of people that don’t even exist. But this movement has potential to transform Instagram into a much more enjoyable place. It is an amazing app and can achieve incredible things in terms of career and promotion. It would be a shame to see it all go to shit over a complete false reputation of human life.

The Real Image

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done my fair share of filtering and posing to get the best image for Instagram. But, ultimately, this does nothing but make my self esteem worse. I think the reasons behind selfies and social media’s can be explored in such deep psychological detail, the reasons we want personal likes and attention on social media can reveal so much about our personalities (I’ll go into the psychology of all that another day). Why do we do it? Why do we want to come across as someone we know we’re not? It can be a number of reasons: a defence mechanism to hide who we really are, to impress followers or to gain following.

No matter how much we edit our photos, we will always know what we look like at our worst. I am so guilty of scrolling through filtered images of myself when I feel shit about my appearance and thinking ‘oh I wish I looked like that now’ knowing fine well I didn’t even look like that at the time. I genuinely think I’m a bit of a catfish sometimes! If you looked at my Instagram and compared it to how I rock up to work – hair in a bun, bags under my eyes, glasses on – then you wouldn’t believe your eyes.

Ultimately, my instagram is full of my best moments: before a night out, looking skinny on holiday, in my best outfits. I’m never going to posts a picture of myself in fluffy Disney pyjamas with a face mask on and looking kinda scary, or makeup free after a heavy night looking like a scarecrow. I’ll continue to post my best filtered images, but I definitely focus more on real life memories and edge more away from fake moments.

Instagram: Nikita Alexander

Realstagram

I completely understand the role of influencers and that its their job to look pretty and promote products to increase sales. Working in digital marketing, I know that social media is the biggest advertising platform of the moment. I know that the likes of Olivia Buck make over £1000 per Instagram post promoting a product. I know that perfectly filtered images representing a perfect life attract the most following.

I just think the whole Kardashian lifestyle is outdated in modern social media. 99% of Kim Kardashian’s followers probably don’t drive a Bentley, probably don’t have billions sitting in the bank and probably can’t afford daily plastic surgery for the perfect big-butt hour glass figure. So why is everyone so obsessed?

Yeah, it’s okay to dream and maybe you want to be like the Kardashians one day. But do you not realise how damaging it is to obsess over a completely unrealistic lifestyle? I personally don’t see the attraction with the Kardashians. Yeah they’re beautiful to look at and I do agree that they’ve done amazingly well in terms of building a brand for themselves. But I am so over this ‘perfect’ Instagram Kardashian life. I’m sick of seeing young girls obsess over Kylie Jenner – I’m going to write a full blog post on the Kardashians and their social impact on young girls because there is so much to talk about!

Let’s start posting natural life. I look for Instagram accounts now who show me their memories, experiences and hobbies. I want deeper insight into their lives not just what eyeshadow pallette they’re wearing. I am so over it.

– Beauty by Disaster x