So, I'm sure like many of you over the last few days, you've seen the heartbreaking scenes in Coronation Street where Aidan Connor takes his own life.
For so many reasons, those scenes have gotten to me...between losing people I know to suicide, and for the people I've known who've been in that very same scenario - myself included. I've read a lot of mixed reaction over the last few days; from praise of the story line for promoting awareness, to people not understanding how it came about so suddenly - but unfortunately that is the nature of mental Illness. It creeps up on you slowly until it consumes you, and by then your in so deep you can't see a way out, except for a way to end the pain. I wrote this piece about my experience with depression in the hope it'll give someone the courage to get help like I did, and to give hope that things can get better.
Hello darkness my old friend,
The black dog, Mono, No Aware, Dépit, Hi Fun Kou Gai, Lebensmüde or my old favorite, Weltschmerz, which means "a feeling of melancholy and world-sadness"...
So many languages, so many different meanings, but let’s be honest; one meaning -because who isn't fed up of this world ??
It's full of sadness, disappointments, let-downs, cruelty and just pure shite…… or is it?
Let me explain…. As someone who luckily, or unluckily depending on your point of view, suffers from “functioning” depression (whatever the fuck that is??) which, in a nutshell, means ready to throw yourself off a cliff, or, full of sunshine, gets out of bed, dressed and plasters a smile on her face. That's me! And I'm sure 99% of the population have been in the same boat at one point or another.
So where does my story come in? Well from someone who has been all sorts of dysfunctioning, functioning and depressed, let me tell you a story of hope.
My first encounter with the "black dog" was when I was 15 and didn't know what the hell was going on. Cue meds and sub-par counselling... and hey presto! You've a functioning depressant.
I ambled along for a while until the black dog reared its ugly, predictable head again. I did the walking, eating healthy, smiling and listening to music - all the stuff the professionals told me would lift the clouds and hey, I'd be fixed! You guessed it - it didn't work, but I carried on because what else do you do? Plus if nothing else, I'm a trier.
So, like a movie montage, the years rolled on. I went from a loner to the life of the party, to loner to….. Who knows??
At that stage, I had lost my identity because I was trying so hard to not be one thing, that I forgot what I actually wanted to be. Life is great for accommodating us lost souls so
we can adequately amble along but with no real purpose. Then came the inevitable moment when I couldn't ignore my feelings anymore, my past or my future blurring together in a mix of anxiety and hopelessness.
Did i want to give up? Hell yes! Did I? Unfortunately almost….
That’s when the only thing I had left kicked in - hope.
Hope that things could turn around. Hope that I could continue to keep looking for a solution. But most of all, the hope that burned inside that I could make it.
Suicide is permanent solution to a temporary problem;
That sentence is one I wrote in a journal with a semicolon at the end because my story isn't finished.
Finally, I accepted the help I badly needed and wanted. Help does not make you weak; it gives you the hand up you need to be the badass mother fucker you know you are. Because anyone who battles with their mind on a daily basis knows it's a war, but it's a war that can and will be won. I finally found my own joy. It's a work in progress but damn it, it's there every and each day. My goal, and only goal everyday, is to find one thing worth waking up for, no matter how small or big. Its mine and my reason alone to be here, my scars are the tears in the pages of my life but they remind me everyday I'm here. I'm alive and I can over come anything,
The hardest battle to over come is the one within your own soul, but it's the most rewarding,
Stay strong, brave and be unapologetically you, each and every day x
If you or anyone you know is struggling the following numbers will be of help:
www.samaritans.ie Tel: 116 123
Text: 087 2 60 90 90
Aware (Depression & Bi-Polar Disorder)
www.aware.ie Tel: 1800 80 48 48
Pieta House (Suicide & Self-harm)
National Suicide Helpline (Pieta House) 1800 247 247
www.pieta.ie Tel: 01 623 5606
We speak very frank and honest about our mental health when it comes to body image and how we perceive ourselves. I know I have battled with it many, many times.
It struck me one day however....Where are the men who feel the same way? I know women aren't the only ones who feel like this, but they are the ones who seem to have the voice.
While the suicide rates in young men continue to rise and rise, we all need to do our part to show men that they CAN and SHOULD speak about their self-confidence, body issues and hangups (amongst other things).
I have a follower on Instagram. His name is Christopher. I approached him and asked him to tell me his story, and what you are about to read is true, from the heart and something we ALL can relate to.
Hi there, my name is Chris. I was asked to write a piece about myself for the girls at Celtic
Curves, so here goes.
I guess I’ve always been “big”, or what people would characterise as “plus sized”. I also
believe that I have always been depressed since I was about 10 or 11 years old. That doesn’t
mean I blame one for the other, but I’m sure there is some correlation there.
As a child, my depression manifested itself with me eating more than I should and eventually
in self-harming, including cutting and deliberately injuring myself; all of which seemed to go
unnoticed, along with severe self-destructive behaviour, including drink and drug use. That
all spiralled out of control several times on the road to where the next chapter begins, and is
maybe a story for another time.
Fast forward to 2011 when I moved to Ireland. I didn’t have a plan - I was a bit of a mess, but
in good shape considering all that went before and that led to the move. I would say I was
roughly 16/17 stone, which isn’t really heavy for me. I tried living with family in Galway, but
that didn’t work out. So in a town where I knew no one, and had no family I could rely on, I
quickly turned to the pubs to meet people. This is fine, except I was doing it every day and to
my detriment, doing zero activity.
A year later, I had ballooned to likely over 25 stone without seeming to realise, until I saw the photos from my mum’s wedding in 2012. I was a mess, and those who saw me thought I was on the road to a heart attack, or similar, soon.
This didn’t change me at all.
A year later, I turned 30 and this was my turning point. I was sick of being the fat guy, out of breath, always drunk, etc. So I joined Planet Fitness in Galway and started my fitness journey, as it’s now called.
I don’t recall weighing myself at the start. I was ashamed I guess, but I remember after six months or so weighing about 29 stone, which is really big and unhealthy. So I kept plugging away, made a few friends along the way, and slowly but surely I made progress from obese to not-so-much obese, and gradually things changed for me. The depression never goes away through it all; it just takes a back seat and waits to rear its ugly head when you think things are going well.
In 2015 with things going well and fresh off the back of a six week trip around Europe with a good friend, I undertook a fitness instruction and personal training course here in Galway; mainly for my own benefit to help with my own training, but always thinking that maybe if I lost more weight etc. I could maybe fit into that “perfect body” idea that people have of PT’s. Well that didn’t happen, but a good friend of mine with a small gym wanted to travel and suggested I take over while he was away.
Now it was around this time that one of the best and the worst things ever happened in my life.
First I met Michelle, my girlfriend, and then about a month later my brother passed away unexpectedly. I knew I’d be a mess and told Michelle to leave me which she didn’t. Fair play to her; she stuck out all the tears, the drinking, and the temper tantrums related to grief. I didn’t deal with my brothers passing, and just a year later my grandmother passed away, which was another big hit. All through this time, I was running this small gym, training myself to the bone whilst trying to keep my depression at bay. The one big thing I found that got me through, besides the emotional support of my girlfriend, was the gym. Being able to switch off and train and put all my aggression in to training has seen me drop more weight and gain muscle and strength I didn’t think I could.
But I have also come to another conclusion - the gym is just another manifestation of the self-harm, albeit a positive one, that benefits me mostly. I enjoy the pain, the aches and recovery, and eagerly anticipate the next session.
What this means, I don’t know - I’m really not a shrink. What I am is a normal guy with a story; some serious ups and downs who seems to be nearly out the other side, until something else comes along and knocks me down again. But I keep getting up and fighting back and that’s what counts.
To end for now, I want to say its possible to be happy and have depression - it sounds silly, like a juxtaposition, but my life is good. I’m 21 stone, and fit and really strong. I’m as happy as I could hope to be with my body right now. I’m getting married this year to a lovely woman with a lovely daughter. I have a roof over my head, a car, two beautiful dogs and a full time job. Yet I’m on antidepressants again. Why? Because right now I feel I need them, and my doctor does too, and they seem to help me. The point I seem to find in this is - if you need help ask for it. My depression isn’t linked to being overweight, or relationship issues, or having nothing in life - all things that would have been triggers before. It has evolved over time so it’s different for me. I’m just doing my best with what I have, and I think that’s okay.
Thanks for reading. If you got to the end, well done! I feel I rambled and maybe got off topic, but there you go - I never claimed to be a writer!!
(Find me on Instagram)
So I finally quit smoking! Wasn't a #newyearnewme or anything; I'm not into them. My daughter actually asked me "Mammy, will you please stop smoking dirty smokes", so I had to - I've no choice with Thals, I'd do anything for her. I quit 3 days later, once I had money to buy my vape because I knew myself I wouldn't do it cold turkey. I'm currently on the 6mg Donut flavour because I'm craving sweets, and one 10ml bottle is lasting me almost 2 weeks.
I'm doing amazing considering I'm smoking since I was a teenager and it was/is my FAVOURITE thing to do, I'm still gasping for one. I loved 'tea and a fag" and I'm not going to lie; I'm still loving the smell of them. I even stand beside my sister and friends when they light up, just to sniff them. I'm obviously not obeying any "personal space" rules at the moment!!
The worst thing that has happened from quitting for me was the skin breaking out! OMG! I was in so much pain. I naturally have clear skin, but these spots were almost like boils of never ending toxins coming from inside me. I don't wear makeup either midweek, so I just had to grin and bear it. The only thing that has helped is using the L'OREAL Trio face masks every 3-4 days during the time I've quit, and that has calmed my skin again.
The best thing to happen is the energy. The energy you have from about 3 days in is just amazing 😍 I no longer feel groggy waking up, my alarm goes off and I'm straight up out of bed and in good form too. I don't know if anyone else felt this after quitting - I've never heard anyone say it, but I love it!
My biggest fear quitting though was weight gain. It's natural for anyone who quits smoking to gain weight, which is fine because your metabolism slows down. My problem is I already have hypothyroidism, so excessive weight gain unfortunately is a battle I face constantly regardless of diet, exercise or smoking.
I don't own a weighing scales because I think they're evil and people become obsessed with the numbers! I already eat healthy, so I wouldn't be changing my diet because there wasn't a lot to cut out calorie-wise. So for my comparison, I took a picture of myself in my tank top and leggings and swore I would take one a week later to see if there was a huge difference. I figured I'm a big girl already, so I won't notice a few pounds, unless it's there in my face.
They only change I have made, other then quitting smoking, was walking my dogs every day. Not at a running pace or anything; I'd probably collapse 😂Just a nice "brisk" walk. I map it and I walk between 2km and 4km a night, depending on the route I take and time I walk, it's never anything over an hour in duration.
I actually wasn't going to share this because I don't want anyone thinking I'm claiming massive weight loss secrets. I don't want anyone thinking they need to go out now and loose weight because you don't - you are perfect. I won't be turning into a size 0 anytime soon, I am naturally a curvy girl, and I like that about me. We are a curvy group and our followers support us because we are confident and beautiful at any size and that will never change!
I just want to show that unintentionally, without putting any pressure on myself, physically or mentally, I managed to loose a decent amount of weight by just walking.
So if you are thinking I would like to loose weight but you can't afford the classes or seminars or expensive gyms... Why not just try walking? Set yourself some KM or time goals and see what difference you see in yourself. Myself, I would advise the picture rather then a scales or measurements, but each person will have their own individual style.
Two pieces of small advice...
(1) Don't walk alone - company is nice, even if you don't chat, but as a woman I always feel safer walking in 2's or with my 2 huskies
(2) As with any new diet or exercise regime, if you have any questions speak to your GP prior to beginning.
One last thing, extremely important, have support! My biggest support in quitting smoking and walking is my partner Cher ❤️ She has quit smoking with me/for Thals and walks with me everyday! I'm so lucky to have her, so make sure you find your "Cher" for your journey.
This is an open letter to the girl I used to bully...
Did I think I could ever be a bully? No I didn't, but I was. It started off small; little comments or remarks when she would do something ''stupid'', when she couldn't get something right or would say something I thought was silly.
I would tell her to keep her mouth shut; that people would think she was an idiot; to stop embarrassing herself!
The more things she got wrong, the worse I became. The more she annoyed me and messed up, the comments got more vicious. "Why are you always so stupid?", "Why can't you do anything right?", "No wonder no one likes you, your an absolute embarrassment".
I hated who I was becoming, but I couldn't stop. I started picking on her clothes, her make up and her hair. "Why did you wear that, you look horrible". "No amount of make up will fix your awful skin". "You can do what you like with that mess of hair, but it will still look horrible on you".
The more I commented, the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself, the more I took it out on her... "You're getting fat". "Who would ever fancy you when you look like that?". "Look at all that fat on your stomach - it's disgusting". "How can you leave the house knowing people will have to look at you like that?". "Your friends don't even like you, your so fat and ugly".
It kept getting worse......
"Why don't you just get surgery, your never going to be good enough the way you are?"
"Look at those stretch marks, you haven't even had kids yet and your stomach is a mess". "Crying won't help you lose weight, you'll still never be thin or pretty enough!"
I wanted to hurt her, I wanted her to just go away so no one would have to look at her, least of all me... But it's hard to make someone go away when she's staring right back at you through the mirror.
THE GIRL I BULLIED WAS ME.
So to the girl I used to bully; I'm sorry.
I'm sorry for not loving you; for not encouraging you; for not being patient while you found yourself lost and confused in this world. For all the times I told you that you were useless, stupid and couldn't do anything right; I'm sorry.
For all the times I called you fat, ugly and useless; I'm sorry.
You deserved better. You deserved to be nurtured, cared for and most of all...loved.
I'll never bully you again.
I write this as an extremely proud Mam of one amazing, 5-year-old, daughter. Alongside that, I am an independent, stressed-out, full time UNI student in my final year (currently working rotation shifts for no pay). I have a partner, family, friends, 4 dogs and a social life on occasion. Oh, and I am also fostering a 4 week old kitten. On top of all that, I have Celtic Curves, blogs and shoots. Needless to say, I am flat out busy!
So here’s some sarcastically humoured Mammy Truths. See, if you don’t have blind sarcasm, wit and a will to live, no matter how much you love them, you won’t survive! I mean YOU, the woman you were before… If you’re easily troubled or have zero sense of humour, turn away now… there’s no going back!
It’s not a miracle experience! It’s not beautiful! Its blind, agonising pain from the minute you find out your pregnant with stuff stretching, swelling and itching. Its blood, bodily fluids and poo (yep poo, yours...theirs....everywhere!) in those 9 months, and during the hours of labour, not once did I say “Awh jaysis, now isn’t this the most fabulous scenario I ever pictured myself in"... No, not once because at the time, when you’re in the moment, its bleeding not, it’s just horrific!!
The night feeds… holy sweet divine… If you ever want to mentally torment someone… make them do night feeds! You’re only in the bed and your back up. Your down in the kitchen boiling kettles, your pouring coffee into bottles instead of cups, you’re back up the stairs, forgetting the bottle and you’d rather fling yourself out a window then walk back down 13 steps! Your bed becomes the floor beside their cot because the walk is too far. Or worse… you co-sleep, the biggest mortal sin of all time! Just accept you’ll never sleep again, and be tired forever, and it becomes mildly more manageable!
Nappies and formula… Awh, the fear of having a poo… nappies and formula… can’t close my legs or sit down… nappies and formula… sweating everywhere, greasy hair that’s falling out…nappies and formula…oh look my boob is leaking… nappies and formula… belly is saggy and stretchmarks are itching… nappies and formula…
Right let’s do this!! It's gonna be a good day. I actually washed myself! Let’s get me and this child out of the house! So, we’ll need 7 outfits because she’ll poo and puke on them all, 50 million nappies, 67 bottles, 4 bags ,a pram with 4 different attachments because the car seat needs its own handles, the bottom detaches, the pram clicks into a base… oh and none of it fits into an average sized car, so you have to load part of the pram in the boot and part on the front seat, because the 700 other items are on the backseat. Now I’m sweating, and the child is waking, because it took so long to get ready and now she’s due another feed… and I'm crying because I'm exhausted…f*ck this sh*t...back into my PJs and we’ll stay in!
Visitors coming today… YES adult conversation with people who live outside, in the real world!! The house looks like a nuclear missile of sh*te just went off, so let’s rant at our partner for 6 hours about how they do nothing and that it’s all their fault - not just the house, OH NO - everything, the fact that the sky is blue! Why?! Because for the 1st year or so they become your enemy! They will literally bug you for breathing, why do they even need oxygen?! Then by the time the visitors come, your both just scowling and wishing everyone would leave!
,Every mother before you… especially your Mam or worse your partner's Mam (the aul bag) is now the bible of total bullsh*t that they “swear worked for us”, and they insist on either telling you or showing you how it should be done...because obviously, we’re doing it all wrong. HOW has the child even survived this long?! Eh, back the f*ck off and have a seat, your child ate dirt till they were 5… trust me I’ll manage!
iYour first night out! Woop! I have a sitter, the baby is gone and I'm going out with the girls! Skinny b*tches with no flabby bits, because their uterus is where it’s supposed to be inside them! Freedom… bye bye baby!!
And then the tears start because you’re a terrible mother for leaving them.
Then the fears... I have to wash myself and style my hair… I have to do makeup…OMG my bush hasn’t been waxed since pre-baby, and for the love of god don’t put a mirror down there! It’ll never look the same again and that causes more tears! I’ll have to stay awake and have a conversation about how wonderful their lives are in the real world… I’ll have to have a hangover! Maybe I’ll just stay In and sleep, all night!
My body - what is this new body?? I hate it and I want the old one back! For some magical creatures, their body just snaps back like an elastic band. For others, it never goes back… the baby pouch is there, the stretchmarks, the varicose veins, the flabby boobs and thighs, cankels… the f*cking cankels!
Accept them and stop hating them… they’re you… you just grew a whole human being!! Cut yourself some slack!
This is only some of the thoughts and experiences you might have. It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s wonderful too. Your hormones will turn you into a blubbering mess and you’ll be so consumed with a love you’ve never felt before. You will have a new reason to live! The point of this little snippet into my thoughts is simply that all the craziness is normal! Any of the above doesn’t mean I love my daughter any less. It just means my life 360 flipped and I had to learn how to live a different way.
I’ve only taken on (self-titled because of how they affected me not her) “the terrible 2's, the traumatic 3's, the furious 4's and the FML 5's”!
There’s a lot more to come, and I honestly can’t wait for them because I get to do it with my daughter and then add humour to keep my sanity!
No one is perfect so stop trying to be… no one can do it all, you won’t have enough hours in the day… no woman is the ideal mother… embrace the crazy as well as the good, and accept that you are no longer the woman you were… you are now Mammy!
Rach @ CC xx
We’re all just winging it!