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Thoughts on Love Island 🌴

June is just around the corner, which means one thing: Love Island.

I have had various discussions during the build up with my friends. To watch or not to…
Last year, the answer was simple: Yes. But now, I’m not so sure. What changed my mind? After all it’s a great antidote to a dull day in the office. TV where you can escape reality and watch without a worry. Or so we thought.

There had been some anticipation of plus size models and a more ’diverse’ group of entering the villa this year, so when I saw ITV had released the line up, I excitedly went to investigate. Scrolling through bright candy coloured images, I saw 12 gorgeous human beings… from scientist to surfer. But not one person with a visible difference.

18% of people self-identify as having a visible difference such as a mark, scar or condition* (me being one of them- I have Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome). Which means, that there should be at least one person on Love Island representing this demographic.

Why do people who look ‘different’ need to be represented? 

1 in 3 people feel depressed, sad or anxious as a result of having a visible difference*

I believe that a contributing factor to this is how people are portrayed in the media.

Adverts show a very narrow perspective of beauty and we are under constant pressure to look like what their idea of ‘perfect’ is. This in turn can influence our happiness: we experience low confidence and self esteem , as our bodies do not match what we see in the media; suggesting that we are simply not good enough.

People with visible differences are putting up barriers because they assume that they wouldn’t make the cut. I would never apply to go on Love Island purely because I don’t think they would want someone like me, who has a swollen foot and is a size 12/14. We aren’t putting ourselves in situations to gain opportunities because of our insecurities about looking different.

What can we do to change this?

I am very proud to be a Campaigner for the charity Changing Faces and we want more brands to sign our Pledge To Be Seen and commit to better representing people with a visible difference.

Love Island attracts millions of viewers, with the average amount being 3.6 million.

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My friend Heather and I bumped into Love Island winner Kem Catinay in Ibiza!

Over half a million people with a visible difference will be tuning in on Monday to watch a new group of singletons entering the villa. Amongst the viewers will be many teenagers.

For me, I was most self-conscious when I was in my teens. I never felt good enough and I was constantly comparing my body to what I saw in magazines, films and reality TV.

At times, I was very sad and wished I would wake up one day and for my KTS leg to have miraculously shrunk to the same size and colour of my left.

If only I had a public figure to look up to who had a visible difference! This person could be a Love Island contestant. I know I would’ve felt a bit more comfortable with my body, knowing there are other people with visible differences who are successful.

Instead, it’s taken me years of anti depressants, therapy and counselling to help me on my journey of accepting my visible difference.

On the plus side, I feel a lot better about my body and how it looks and I am comfortable enough to show my leg in public: I’m not hiding it anymore!

*Statistics are taken from the Changing Faces report: My Visible Difference.

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It’s not always lightness

I don’t like talking about being sad. Because the more attention you give something, the more substantial it becomes. I also like to think that I’m a positive person.

I’m not saying you should just brush everything under the carpet. This is why I’ve turned to my blog. I don’t like talking about being sad to my friends. It’s not a good conversation to have is it?! For me, talking about it on a blog post is far more effective because I’m not “off loading” to anyone, I’m just getting my thoughts and feelings outs of my head. It doesn’t matter how many people see it.

I’m not here for the stats! I’m here for my sanity. Blogging has really helped me accept things. Accept my KTS, my bouts of depression.

I don’t like to say I’ve got depression, because I don’t feel like I do have it all the time.

I may be on anti depressants but that doesn’t mean I am depressed.

I’ve thought about coming off them, but to be perfectly honest I’m terrified about what mental state I’ll be in afterwards. I suppose that’s why I’m a bit uppity about taking painkillers. Because I don’t want to rely on them. I don’t want them to become a regularity like my anti depressants are.

Also, conventional medicine= side effects= even more medicine.

I do feel depressed on my period. I feel very sad. And I say stupid things without thinking it through. It’s horrible. My periods were a lot worse mentally when I wasn’t taking anti depressants. I would spend days feeling shit; often not leaving the house.

If there wasn’t sadness we wouldn’t know happy. It’s normal to feel sad. I’ve learnt to feel the emotion and ride it out. Acknowledge that it’s there.

This too shall pass.

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You are good enough

This is the first time I’ve really spoken about the thoughts I had about my body whilst being a teenager with Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome (KTS).
In a nutshell, I was born with one leg bigger than the other. I will go into more detail about it in a future blog post, or you can find out more by looking at my Instagram.

Growing up, I was constantly comparing my body to what I saw in films and magazines. Slim people who had symmetrical bodies were in my eyes “perfect”, as that was what t.v adverts and magazine articles always portrayed. Did I ever see girls wearing compression stockings or having different looking legs? Not. At. All.

All the shows and magazines I loved had little or no diversity: Teen Vogue, The Hills, The Devil Wears Prada, The OC, the list goes on! I thought; visually, that I wasn’t enough, as the media was sending me subliminal messages: my body didn’t make the cut. I did not have the “bikini body” I kept seeing advertised and articles written about. I went through a phase of doing sit ups everyday before school started because I believed that having abs would make me feel better about my body, and that it would draw attention away from my leg. 

The closest thing I could relate to was Bethany Hamilton’s book -Soul Surfer- she’d lost her arm in a shark attack. She was determined to surf again despite missing an arm and absolutely embraced it. She was such a major source of inspiration, and still is. I absolutely loved the film adaptation too (worth a watch). 

I used to love watching America’s Next Top Model. Which is kind of ironic really, because it was all about what you looked like and having this perfect “look”. I can’t for the life of me remember what episode it was but Tyra strongly advised a beautiful woman on there to have the gap between her two front teeth closed. And it made me really upset and angry. The lady was happy with her teeth, and felt that it was a characteristic which made her unique; yet there she was being pushed to have her teeth adjusted. And for what? Someone else’s idea of what is attractive, and on what they thought would sell. For a teenager to see that was in no way, shape or form okay. It was insinuating that my differences weren’t good enough and that I should change to fit someone else’s ideologies.

Fast forward to today…. Everything has changed, yet everything is still the same. We have been given an amazing platform to broadcast our thoughts and our ideas globally, all at the touch of a screen.

 Teenagers are now exposed to social media. I see influencers are pushing to sell weight loss products to their followers (many of which are teenagers who are particularly vulnerable) claiming that by drinking a  “skinny coffee” you will lose 5 pounds in week. They will then proceed to back this up with a before and after photo (posing and lighting works miracles people!). There they stand with their chiseled jawbones, abs of steel, pert breasts and perky bottoms. This would have taken hard work in the gym, a carefully planned diet and maybe even some cosmetic surgery; not a week drinking “skinny coffee”.

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that I want to see more people confident with their own bodies; regardless of size, shape, colour or gender. And EMBRACING it. As girls – like my teenage self- will be seeing your photos (yes YOU with the 3.7 million followers) and be influenced by them. You want them to love the skin they’re in and empower their peers that it’s okay to be different.

To the people with a large following on social media; think carefully before you agree to that paid partnership with a fast track weight loss product. You are influencing millions of young minds, when most of them are already self conscious (like I was) of their bodies. Instead, encourage them to realise that they have so many assets which make them beautiful inside and out. They are good enough (and so are you!) just the way they are.

sydney to coogee coastal walk
Me on a beautiful coastal walk, stopping to have a drink. No posing, not make up and no filter. Just me.
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I am not boring, just tired AF

Currently I am lying in bed, it’s half 9, and I can hear my family downstairs laughing and joking…. why am I not with them? Because I’m tired.

Is it just me or for a period of time, you’re tired 99% of the day😩. I want do things but I can barely concentrate because I’m knackered… the gym is about the only thing I can do at the moment- that and dog walks. To be fair it’s probably the 10k training which had added to my tiredness! It’s so annoying because I definitely feel that it puts a strain on friendships, and one of the reasons my last relationship fell apart! Sometimes I feel like wearing a t-shirt saying

“I am not boring, just tired AF”

All my life, I’ve always been the sleepy one. The one who has naps and lie ins, who can fall asleep anywhere.

It’s such a catch 22 because I want to be chasing after my dreams and living life to the fullest… but the reality of it is, I have to be careful; I unfortunately can’t be as spontaneous as I want to- I have to plan things and have rest days.

1 weekend I am busy, the other I chill out.

It’s so annoying because I don’t like to miss out on anything but if I were to do everything I’ve been invited to and wanted to do, I would end up worn out and poorly.

It’s soooo frustrating. And I am just as upset as you are that I can’t go shopping with you today or go for that catch up we’ve been meaning to have.

In my natural habitat, the sofa, cuddling one of my gorgeous doggies. Wearing the most used item in my wardrobe – the snuggliest top ever!

Smiling when I’m sad

I’m fine 🙂; I’M FINE 😡

This is a bad day.

Depression has been creeping up on me and made a lovely appearance this morning.

I’m fine; I’M FINE – this has been me for the last couple of months. I’ve been seeing my friends, going to the gym, going to work. I’ve been treading water.

Yes I have done lots of things to move forwards and get myself better, but today epitomised depression’s grasp on me.

I was driving to work and I wasn’t concentrating on the road. I was balling my eyes out and had to pull over. I rang work and told them I couldn’t come in. Then I was ridiculously anxious about pulling out into the traffic to go home. Mum had to pick me up.

You may wonder- Why does she feel this way?

I’ve had depression for four years, and I went through a difficult patch in my teens, when I was about 17 too.

Sometimes you just feel shit and you don’t know why.

For me, I find that significant changes in my life can trigger it. It could be from being ill, getting frustrated with my body because it cant always do what a normal body does as often. Or it could be something like a change of living arrangements.

This time it was a number of things…

  • I came back in March after 2 months of travelling.
  • After a few weeks of being a couch potato, I started doing bar work whilst applying for other jobs – however bar work was taking its toll on my KTS leg.
  • In May, I broke up with my boyfriend.
  • Also in May, I got very poorly from cellulitis.
  • In June I started a new job.

Now it’s like all those months of changes have finally caught up with my head and I feel overwhelmed and exhausted and sad.

So I went to see the doc – she said that I wasn’t fit for work today…and to relax and do something like taking the dogs out. She also recommended counselling (which I’ve done before)
and upping my anti-depressants.

Counselling I’m 100% up for, yet more anti depressants? Not so keen. I’m very anxious about falling into the anti-depressant trap.

I’ve been so determined to sort myself out that I’ve been pushing how I really feel to the back of my head, and now it’s surfacing. The doctor said this to me and she said that maybe I should’ve accepted I needed help sooner.

Fake it ’til you feel it

  • It’s okay to accept help. It doesn’t make you any less of a person or weaker. It takes strength to admit that something is not quite right.
  • If I’m smiling and looking like I’m enjoying myself it’s me trying to do exactly that. I’ve had the mentality fake it til you feel it if that makes sense. That whole idea of smiling when you’re sad and eventually you’ll feel better is an ethos I’ve been living by. It’s scientifically proven that smiling boosts serotonin. Also exercise does this too.

Which is what I’ve been doing. But this week, I’ve been exhausted, waking up tired (well I’ve been like that for a while) and coming home ready for bed. I had to give the gym a little break.

The other niggles for me is the state of my room. I haven’t properly sorted through everything since I left uni. So in affect my room has accumulated 4 years worth of stuff from my uni days. This isn’t good Feng Shui (something I really do believe in) . I have attempted to clear it, but I only got so far and then distracted.

So plan?

🌞get counselling arranged
🌞keep up the gym
🌞gut my room (do a little bit every day- a bag a day keeps the doctor away haha- stepping stones!!!)
🌞keep seeing my friends
🌞accept help from loved ones
🌞Mull over going on a higher dosage of ADs

G▫️👣

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Reality checks in

I am slowly coming to terms-after 24 years- that I can’t do what everyone else does. It’s taken me this long and I still think I’m slightly in denial.

My head is a constant argument between an ideologist and a realist.

The ideologist wants  to go to work a full time job, go to the gym in the evenings then see friends and family at the weekend.

“Oh if only it was that easy!” the realist laughs…

“But it SHOULD be easy!” ideology snaps back, “That’s what your friends do, so you can do it too”

“They didn’t have an infection in their leg and have to go to hospital 3 times this week for iv medication.” Realism says sternly with raised eyebrows.

*Ideology checking out*