SIAD: A Self-Harm Free Year

It’s been a full year now since I last self-harmed.

I don’t know the exact date, I just know that it’s definitely been over a year since it last happened; I feel very strange about this accomplishment.

On one hand, I’m very proud of myself. I didn’t go cold turkey, it was something that petered off over the course of a few years and that I eventually made the decision to consciously stop.

On the other, it feels strange to look back and see the person that I used to be. She’s someone very different from who I am now- I’m such a confident person, I take things- even hard things- in my stride and I have good coping mechanisms.

I know that I could pick up a blade right now and cut myself; I wouldn’t and I won’t, but the mental barrier that would stop any non self-harmer from pressing down and drawing blood just doesn’t exist in my mind. I know exactly what I’m capable of.

It’s SIAD tomorrow, I always find that it creeps up on me (the logical explanation for that would be that February is the shortest month.) But I think that it’s partly because my feelings towards self harm are very mixed.

I know that it’s bad, and I want to do whatever I can to raise awareness and get people talking about it. If you’re self harming then you need to seek help and treatment- it’s something that can spiral out of control all too easily.

However, I will always feel that self harm was what kept me alive. It was the only thing that gave me the strength to keep going in the darkest times. When I was struggling so much that I couldn’t breathe and felt as though I was trapped in a nightmare the only thing that gave me enough relief to stop me from ending my life was cutting.

It’s not a popular opinion, and I would never, never suggest self harm as an answer- the answer is to go to a good doctor (NOT CAMHS!) who can and will give you drugs/therapy that WILL HELP YOU.

Because yes, I survived those moments- but I also had a damaging habit that stayed with me for much longer than those dark moments did.

I spent a very long time being ashamed. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that; over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to move forward and actually talk about mental health and self harm in my real life. It’s been going quite well. I’m sick of having to hide.

Here’s to another self-harm free year!

’til next time,

Wren x

My Travelling Bucket List

For years and years I was happy to stay at home, I was never someone who wanted to spread their wings; however, times and people change, and in the last year I’ve developed a love of travelling.

Here’s a run down of some of the places I’d love to visit:

GLASTONBURY

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From here.

When I was about fourteen I decided that as soon as I left school I’d make a pilgrimage to Glastonbury, I had pictures of the Tor taped onto my bedroom wall and thought about it nearly every day. Sadly, since leaving school my life has taken lots of different directions and I haven’t had the chance to make a trip to this wonderful place, I’m hoping to tick this one off my list in the next year though!

WARSAW

https://i2.wp.com/www.layoverguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Old-Town-Square-Warsaw-Poland.jpg

Source.

I’ve been to other parts of Poland, but I haven’t actually been to Warsaw. I’m passionate about Polish history, especially the Second World War and the Warsaw Uprising, so making a trip to the place that I’ve read so much about would be a dream come true. I’d love to explore the city and trace the remaining history. Poland is a wonderful country and I want to see more!

TUSCANY

https://i1.wp.com/my.nd.edu/s/1210/images/editor/Travel/2014_trips/shs_71006239_tuscany.jpg

Source.

Now, I have actually been here several times; but I love this region of Italy! The food and the scenery are both amazing, it’s the perfect place to relax and have a break from everything. There’s a lot of history, and if you head over in the summer the weather is almost guaranteed to be gorgeous. The pace of life in the rural parts of Tuscany is much slower and a welcome change if you’re stressed out. It’s somewhere I spent holidays as a teenager and I’d really like to go again.

ORKNEY/SHETLAND

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Orkney_1.jpg

Source.

I love Scotland, I’ve been to many parts and several of the larger cities; however, I haven’t been very far north, and I love wilderness and the idea of exploring. Ever since I was very young I’ve wanted to explore off the Scottish mainland and see the power of the elements. It strongly appeals to the Pagan part of me.

OTHER

There are quite a few other places that I’d like to explore, but they’re a little more vague. The big one is America; I’d love to explore Alaska and New England- maybe that’s an odd mix, seeing as they’re on opposite sides of the country! I saw a documentary on Alaska a little while ago and it absolutely called out to me, it was such a gorgeous looking place full of wildlife. I also do better in cold temperatures, so that wouldn’t phase me. New England draws me in because of the history, that’s something that I’d love to learn more about. Plus, the culture just seems interesting and I’m curious. As well as that I think I’d like to take a trip to Canada sometime, just to see the differences between it and its neighbour- plus it seems like a gorgeous country to visit.

’til next time,

Wren x

The Problem with ‘Clever’ Children

Being ‘clever’ is a bit of a trap.

I was very young when I started to get labelled as one of the ‘clever’ children. All throughout primary school and into the first few years of secondary school I was an overachiever. It was the only aspect of my personality that I had, I was very quiet and socially awkward, I didn’t make friends easily and I preferred to be on my own.

I wasn’t pretty or friendly or funny- I was just clever. I had no other aspects to my personality.

I was about thirteen or fourteen when I stopped being ‘clever’.

I could roughly keep up with the other children in the class, but I was by no means at the top. I melted away and became ordinary.

All ‘clever’ children reach a point where they’re not at the top of the class anymore. That can come at a young age, or it can come when they reach university… but it does come eventually.

We can increase our intelligence by studying and putting in effort, naturally ‘clever’ children will all eventually hit a wall where they find themselves having to put in more and more effort to maintain the grades that once came easily.

I hit this in my early teens, it was a big shock to the system and I really didn’t know what to do. I was very depressed at the time and this blow to my identity only made things much worse.

I felt really worthless for a long, long time. I didn’t know who I was anymore, I felt like I had no personality and that I wasn’t good at anything.

It took me a while to stop feeling like this, I branched out and found some other hobbies; I got counselling and started to become the person that I wanted to be. Drama helped me a lot to find confidence and learn social skills.

I’m quite that I hit the wall before I took my A-levels, that way I knew that I had to put in some serious effort to the get the grades that I wanted, and I knew how to do that.

I have friends who are only just hitting that wall now that they’ve gone to university… and that must be pretty crap for them.

Intelligence needs work, natural abilities and upbringing can only go so far- I feel really sorry for children who grow up being labelled just as ‘clever'; their intelligence is A) not something that should be used to define them and B) not something to take for granted.

’til next time,

Wren x

Spring and Renewal

The last week or so has been hectic for me, I had some problems with my jaw and teeth and was just generally pretty unwell for a while. Add that to some menstrual issues and the illness that I got over Xmas and you have a very fed up Wren.

I’ve spent the last week or so really knuckling down in terms of writing my essay and studying driving theory. I only have this essay to do and send off and then (assuming I pass) I’ll have everything sorted and a great qualification under my belt.

DSCN0877I’m having more dental work done tomorrow, which will probably aggravate my jaw- but I’ve been putting it off for a couple of weeks already, and frankly I just want it all done and over with.

On Friday I’ll be heading out for an interview for a place to study the final year of my degree. I’m feeling apprehensive but quite chilled about it, the place where I’m going have made it clear to me that they think I’m over-qualified (?!) but are happy to take me if I can secure the funding. Fingers crossed the interview will just be a formality.

DSCN0884I feel slightly strange at the moment; my crazy plan seems to be coming together (touch wood), although I can only really breathe easily once September rolls around and I start my new course. I would actually also say that I feel good, I have this strange feeling of calm that has settled in my stomach… it’s not something I’m used to, but it’s not unwelcome either.

DSCN0889The pictures that I’m putting through this post are from our trip to Pickering. We had a lovely V-Day weekend just chilling, walking around and generally spending some quality time with each other away from the madness of my home-town.

We live in a lovely place, it’s big enough to be a proper ‘town’, but small enough that everyone knows everyone else… that can get a little frustrating sometimes. It’s nice to spend time out and about without bumping into colleagues and people that I went to school with.

DSCN0891I’ve also discovered the music of Max Richter, I’ve put my two favourite pieces at the beginning and end of this post; this is a real break in tradition for me, I’m not someone who likes classical music at all. In fact, I usually shy away from any music without words, but I stumbled upon this by accident and have been mesmerised.

DSCN0892I plan to spend the rest of this evening re-familiarising myself with Harvard referencing (it’s been too many years…) and cuddling up with R. I can’t wait until this time next week when most of my tedious jobs will be done!

DSCN0884As usual, thanks for reading. I hope the first signs of spring are bringing hope and renewal to you too.

’til next time,

Wren x

Stigma and Counselling

Kate Middleton Supporting Mental Health Awareness

This is something that’s been in the news today; for those of you outside the UK, Kate Middleton has made a video promoting the charity Place2Be and raising awareness of mental health problems in children.

One of the points that she mentions is that parents feel ashamed and embarrassed about their children needing counselling. This is something that’s pretty common; in fact, I think we’re brought up in a culture that teaches us to be ashamed of asking for help.

I don’t think I’ve seen one film or TV programme or read one book where a character is shown as grateful or happy to receive counselling. They all resist it and are portrayed as being angry about needing help.

I don’t know where this mentality comes from, it seems to be something that’s incredibly deep-seated in our culture and unbelievably harmful. We need to not only break down the stigma surrounding mental health, but the stigma surrounding counselling- and not just for children, for all ages.

I can understand that it must be very painful for a parent to have to accept that their child needs counselling- but as a child who went through counselling I can say that it wasn’t because my parents failed at their job; it was because they were too close to me, I was scared of hurting or upsetting them by talking about the pain I was going through.

Plus, as good as parents might be, 9/10 they won’t be trained mental health professionals. These situations take objectivity.

Another problem is that mental health issues, like most physical health issues, can be treated most easily when caught early- but a lot of people are discouraged because they don’t think their problems seem ‘bad enough’.

It’s exactly this mentality that is causing problems.

Catching issues when they’re first beginning can solve a lifetime of problems, and can reduce pain and cost in the long-term.

It’s a really good thing that people like Kate Middleton are getting behind mental health issues; I don’t really care that most of the people talking about mental health at the moment are politicians who I seriously dislike- I’m just glad that it’s getting talked about!

With something like mental health, more talking means less stigma.

’til next time,

Wren x

 

Valentine’s Day: Love and Relationships

It’s that time of the year again- no, not Friday 13th- it’s Valentine’s Day! (Tomorrow, but hey I’m being pro-active.)

Me and R are off to somewhere remote to forget about other people and do lots of walking and spending time with nature.

I’m not someone who’s very soppy. In fact, this is the first year I’ve spent V-Day with someone and it’s very strange. Normally I just spend the day keeping to myself and binge watching crap films. Or I get out and do a little shopping, but this year I’m actually getting the chance to do something romantic. And it feels pretty weird.

I’m very affectionate with my partner, and I certainly go silly when I talk about him, but in general I’m not the sort of person you can imagine buying a soppy card. In fact, I’ve done all of the good girlfriend things… I even bought him a teddy-bear.

As someone who used to be perpetually single, I’m being careful about mentioning tomorrow and certainly won’t be posting anything too stupid on social media… which isn’t that much of a stretch for me as I’m pretty much non-existent on social media in the first place.

Take from Valentine’s Day the things that you enjoy, the things that make you feel good, and leave behind the crap that doesn’t. I know that it’s hard to be alone on days like tomorrow, but it’s 24 hours. Once they’re done you don’t have to think about it for another year. Situations can change, this time next year your friends could be single and you could be blissfully coupled.

Holidays mark the changes in the year, they’re spokes on the wheel of time. They’ll come and go and come back again. Use them as an excuse to reflect on yourself and your life- but in a positive way. You never know what’s just around the corner.

It annoys me when being in a relationship is touted as an ultimate goal. This seems to be something that women especially are fed from a young age. Relationships are not the answer to everything, they’re hard work.

If you have problems then meeting ‘the love of your life’ isn’t going to fix them. You need to fix them, you need to work on and love yourself before you can properly function in a healthy relationship. I don’t claim to be an expert; but I have a lot of experience of both having lots of problems and being a hopeless romantic.

Use tomorrow as an excuse to love yourself and the people in your life- whether you’re in a romantic relationship with them or not; and if you’re Pagan, why not forget V-Day and celebrate Lupercalia this Sunday?

Spread the love!

’til next time,

Wren x

Wearing Vintage

I used to be really into vintage clothes- actually, I still am, but back when I was in sixth form I dressed in 1940s style every day. I tried to get as close as I could to looking as though I’d just stepped out of 1940’s England. I look back on that period of my style with a lot of fondness. I only stopped dressing that way because I took up a very practical performing course. My style at the moment is ‘vintage inspired’ and I still love clothes from bygone eras.

These are some of the things that I learnt from my years as a 1940s time-traveller:

  • People looking at you is a compliment: I was an incredibly shy child, I was terrified and awkward up until I was about sixteen. I went from not wanting anyone to look at me to enjoying their attention.
  • Dress sizes don’t matter: I’m very small and a rough hourglass, I have a small waist and modern fashion tends to just drown me and make me look much heavier than I am. One of the things that I love about vintage is that you have to get rid of the idea of dress sizes. We place so much emphasis on dress sizes when they mean very little. In some shops I’m an 8, in others I’m a 12. It depends entirely on where I shop. When you go shopping for vintage clothes you need to throw away your ideas of dress sizes and instead find out your measurements.
  • Sewing is an important life-skill: anyone who reads this blog will know that I proudly fly the feminist flag, and because of this I’ve sometimes fallen into the trap of feeling bad about my love of sewing. Sewing is a useful skill, and it’s helped me save so much money! I can confidently pick up clothes on the cheap that need a couple of stitches, or have some horrible embellishment that can easily be picked out.
  • Long skirts are sexy: I remember when my school banned short skirts; there was a lot of uproar from the girls who felt ‘frumpy’ because they were made to wear longer skirts (I think the rule was ‘no shorter than three inches above the knee’, so not actually that long…) but my skin-tight, just-below-the-knee-length pencil skirt was completely within the rules.
  • People who make fun of your appearance are worthless: I was bullied for a long time when I was younger. About a year ago I was in the bathroom of a club, washing my hands. A couple of girls from my old school were there, they were looking at me, pointing and laughing. I looked over at them and for the first time I felt nothing… I didn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, I just felt a little bit sad for them.
  • ‘You’re so brave!’: I had a lot of people say this, or variations of this to me. I think the hardest part of dressing vintage, or dressing in any alternative style, is the mental part. You have to take a deep breath and walk out of the house dressed how you want to. The best way to do this is to start small and work up. Don’t change it all at once, do it step by step- and if you’re really scared then start low-key. I know that I starter with light pink lipstick and gradually moved my way to deep red. You can do anything you want, just take it bit by bit. Being brave with my appearance helped to make me brave in other areas of my life.

’til next time,

Wren x