Let’s talk body-shaming

Up until recently I generally thought of body-shaming as being specific to fat-shaming. I believed that skinny individuals were immune to body shaming because they have what everyone else wants. However, I’ve since come to realize that this isn’t the case at all.

One YouTuber by the name of Annie Marie or “Itty Bitty Annie” as she is known across many social media platforms, has opened my eyes to the reality of the situation. Skinny-shaming is real and it is just as hurtful and damaging as fat-shaming.

Now that I think about it I do remember a lot of people commenting on my body when I was in the depths of my bulimia. A lot of people would focus on my body weight and I would often be told that I need to eat more. At the time I took it as a compliment; the comments were like fuel to the fire that was my eating disorder. However, since gaining weight I have received a significantly fewer number of comments on my body. From this experience I have come to the conclusion that skinny individuals face just as much criticism, if not more, than individuals who are overweight.

I believe this is because people get jealous. People want what they cannot have and since they are unable to attain the “ideal” body weight, they belittle women who are smaller and accuse them of being unhealthy, sickly, and “unnatural”.

One video in particular by Annie Marie caught my attention because it features her talking about the criticisms that she faces as a result of her weight. This really opened my eyes to the fact that body-shaming is not limited to individuals who are overweight. Indeed, it is a problem that extends much further than this.

I have since spoken out about this issue on my personal Facebook page and I have received a lot of backlash from people who believe that it is their right to pass judgement on the appearance of individuals. But I am here to say that it is absolutely NOBODY’S right to comment on your body or criticize you whether you are skinny, “average”, or overweight. Your body is yours and yours alone. It is of no concern of anyone else except for perhaps medical professionals who are helping you be healthy.

So if you are one of the people who is criticizing other’s on there appearance, you need to stop. However, if you are one of the people who is constantly being criticized, perhaps you should ask “what gives you the right to comment on or criticize my body?” the next time anyone tries to say anything to you about it.

Stand up for yourself. You are BEAUTIFUL! ❤

xo

Ayla

Song’s about mental illness

One of the things that I find really helps me get through the days when I am having a hard time dealing with my mental illnesses is listening to music that I can relate to. I compiled a list of songs that really help me which I keep in my journal so I don’t lose it. However, I just got the idea to share the list with my readers so that perhaps you can find some support in the lyrics. Let me know if there are any other songs that you listen to for support.

1. Dark Side by kelly Clarkson

2. Addicted by kelly Clarkson

3. Ana’s Song by Silverchair

4. Animal I have Become by Three Days Grace

5. Bleed it Out by Linkin Park

6. By Myself by Linkin Park

7. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

8. Courage by Superchick

9. Easier to Run by Linkin Park

10. Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles

11. Everybody Hurts by REM

12. Fade to Black by Metallica

13. Fix You by Coldplay

14. Perfect by P!nk

15. Given Up by Linkin Park

16. Love the Way you Lie by Eminem

17. Lullabye by Nickelback

18. Maybe by Kelly Clarkson

19. Nothing to Lose by Billy Talent

20. Numb by Linkin Park

21. On my Own by Three Days Grace

22. One Step Closer by Linkin Park

23. Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones

24. Pain by Three Days Grace

25. Part of Me by Linkin Park

26. Rehab by Amy Winehouse

27. Russian Roulette by Rihanna

28. Skin and Bones by Mariana’s Trench

29. Skyscraper by Demi Lovato

30. Slipping Away by Sum 41

31. These Days by Bon Jovi

32. Untitled by Simple Plan

33. Tied Together with a Smile by Taylor Swift

34. Who Knew by P!nk

35. Sober by P!nk

36. I’ll follow you into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

37. Demons by Imagine Dragons

38. Nothing Left to Say by imagine Dragons

Books for recovery (self-harm and eating disorders)

Here are some of the books that I’ve read that have the potential to help with your recovery from self-harm and/or eating disorders. Please note that you need to use your judgement to determine whether or not reading about the struggles you are dealing with will be triggering for you. If so, please don’t read these books!

1. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

2. Cut by Patricia McCormick

3. Skinny by Ibi Kaslik

4. Skinny By Donna Cooner

5. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

6. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

7. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

8. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Moving out, Recovery, and Mental Health

Hey everyone!

I have some exciting news! I am moving into my very first apartment in just 2 short months! I’m really excited and I’ve been shopping around for some of the essentials that I will need for my first place, but I guess the one thing that I’m most worried about is how this might effect my recovery. The last time I moved out it was for my first year of University and I ended up moving in with my cousin in order to save money because it was much cheaper than paying for residence and she lived about 45 min away from campus via bus. So it’s not like I have no experience of moving out whatsoever; however, this will be the first time where I will be living without any family.

When I told my therapist about this, she was both happy and apprehensive. The positive side of things is that I will be away from all of the family fighting and I will no longer have to live with my abuser, both of which are huge triggers for me. However, the downside is that I have a lot more opportunity for relapse if I am living in a situation in which nobody is supervising me. That said, technically I am not being supervised right now since my family doesn’t actually know about my illnesses, so I am hopeful that I will not necessarily relapse. The only thing that might be a bit of a concern is the fact that my building has a gym which could be problematic. Those of you who have been following me for a while know that my bulimia does not involve vomiting, it involved over-exercise and caloric restriction. Therefore, if I become overwhelmed or stressed, there is a chance that I may be triggered to relapse into my patterns of over-exercising. But I’m hoping that the support that I have found online coupled with my therapy will help to prevent this!

Aside from the mental health concerns, I am really excited to move out! I feel like it is the next step in becoming an independent person. I can be responsible for myself and I don’t have to worry about reporting to anyone. On top of that, I feel as though my parents will respect me more as an adult once I am out on my own, paying my own bills, making my own decisions.

Looking forward to the next chapter of my life!

xo

Ayla

On to the next chapter

Change is in the air! Yesterday I had my last session with my psychologist and I am now transferring to a new doctor. I’m still a bit sad that she is leaving because I really trusted her and she was really nice, but I can understand that she also has her own life that she needs to live. So it’s time to move on to the next one. I guess it could be a good thing though. I made a lot of progress with my current old psychologist, but maybe I will make even better progress with a different doctor. And if not, I can always switch back to my first doctor when she comes back from maternity leave in a year.

Our last session together wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I guess the fact that she is leaving for a legitimate reason kind of helps me to feel like she isn’t abandoning me. I understand the importance of her leave of absence and I am happy for her even though I will probably miss having her as my therapist.

Part of me wants to try even harder to recover now because I want to make her proud. It’s sort of weird because she doesn’t really know me outside of the therapy setting, but I really want her to know that the work that we did together wasn’t a waste. She really changed my life for the better and I will always be so thankful for all of the help that she provided to me and the best way that I can show her that is by getting better. I don’t know if I will ever see her again or if she will see my file when she comes back or if she will even wonder about me and how I am doing, but I feel like I owe it to her to try and get better.

Here’s to the long road ahead.

Xo

Ayla

Teen Mom 2 cast members stigmatize mental illness

I’ve never been one to closely watch the relaity TV show, Teen Mom 2, but the season finale part 1 was on yesterday and I had nothing better to do so I decided to tune in. Big mistake. It really set me off because on two separate occasions on the show mental illness was stigmatized.

First, one of the fathers on the show by the name of Corey insinuated that Leah (his ex-wife and mother of their twin girls) was an unfit mother because of the medication she was on. He claimed that he did not want her looking after his girls while she was on the medication for anxiety because of how it might effect her.

What. The. Hell.

This is pure stigmatization! Not only is Corey insinuating that Leah’s mental illness is making her an unfit mother, but he is also implying that she is somehow even less of a parent for reaching out and getting the help that she needs.

As a mental health advocate and someone who has experience with anti-anxiety medication, I am absolutely appalled. There is NOTHING wrong with someone taking medication for their anxiety. Furthermore, the fact that Leah reached out for help should be a testament to how good a mother she is. Only the strongest of people know when they need to ask for help. How can we expect someone to be the best parent that they can be if they are experiencing mental illness? I for one find Corey’s insinuation disturbing.

But Corey wasn’t the only one who drew my attention. Leah also caught my attention with her statement “I start feeling like a damn druggy” in reference to the medication that she was on. From my perspective, Leah indirectly stigmatized the use of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of mental illness by making the comparison between the use of such medication and the use of street drugs.

Even if Leah did not intend to offend anyone with this statement, I still think that this is a form of oppression and stigmatization. What she fails to mention is that the drowsiness and other symptoms that she is experiencing are totally normal when someone begins taking medication for anxiety. It takes 3-4 weeks for the medication to become normalized in your system and for the medication to actually start making a difference in terms of regulating anxiety and/or other symptoms.

The fact that Leah was only on the medication for a week (as she claims on the show) is proof that she did not give the medication enough time to actually start working, nor did her body have enough time to adjust to the change. As a result, I believe that Leah Messer’s portrayal of anti-anxiety medication is unfair and (perhaps unintentionally) stigmatizing individuals who use the medication themselves.

Even lighthearted comments like this make a world of difference when it comes to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness, especially when the comments come from a public figure such as Corey Simms or Leah Messer. These types of comments can have a detrimental impact on the public perception of mental illness and the medication that is associated with it.

I for one and disappointed in all of the aforementioned parties.

Ayla

Life is moving too fast

I feel like I can’t keep up with my life right now. I thrive on stability and lately my life has been anything but stable. My family is moving four hours away, I am changing therapists this week, I am moving into my first apartment in a few weeks, university has become overwhelming, and I have just lost someone who was very important to me.

There is just too much change happening all at one. I’m overwhelmed and I feel like I’m losing control of my life. I’m stressed out all the time and I have no motivation to do the things that I used to enjoy. I have no appetite and even when I am hungry the thought of eating makes me feel repulsed. I just don’t know how to deal with so much change all at once. My parents are trying to make the transitions in my life easier, but even they don’t know about everything that is going on with me so I don’t think they realize how stressed out and anxious I actually am.

I feel exhausted all the time but I can’t sleep. My panic attacks have gotten a lot worse and a lot more frequent. I fear that my doctor will make me go back on medication when I see him in a few weeks. I know he thinks that they medication is the answer because it helps to control my symptoms, but I dont want to have to depend on pills for the rest of my life in order to be happy. I want to learn how to cope with life stresses in a better way. I want to be able to manage these emotions without losing control.

One of the things that terrifies me the most is moving into my first apartment. This scares me because it comes with so many responsibilities. There will be so many more bills to pay, so many more chores to do, so much more that I will have to balance. Not to mention the fact that I will be living four hours away from my parents who I have lived with for basically my whole life. The only exception to this was in my first year of studies when I managed to spend a whole 3 months living away for university but then I got really sick and I was in the hospital twice and I ended up moving home because I couldn’t handle living away from the familiarity of my home. But now I have no choice. I’m an adult and its time for me to be independent.

I’m terrified.

What if I get sick again? What if I relapse into my eating disorder? What if the anxiety becomes too much to handle? What if my panic disorder gets even worse? What if I can’t afford all of the bills? what if what if what if.

I keep going through all these horrible situations that could come up and I can’t help but worry that I wont be able to handle it. My therapist tells me that I have a tendency to underestimate my ability to cope with stressful situations, but I remember the horrible lonely sadness that I felt the last time I moved out. I hated life and all I wanted was to be at home. But the difference is that this time the change is permanent. I can’t come back here after I move out because this house will no longer be my home. I’m going to have to learn to deal with my new lifestyle even if I hate it. And that is a really scary thought, because I don’t want to hate my life.

I hate change because it takes me out of my comfort zone. Change can be stressful for anyone to deal with, but when you have anxiety and panic disorders it makes it so much worse. I’ve struggled with change for as long as I can remember. Even as a kindergartner I would have to go home from school frequently because I could not handle the change. My anxiety has always gotten the best of me. I don’t know how to handle it.

Does anyone else struggle with adjusting to life events and major changes? Do you have any advice for how I can overcome my anxiety about moving and how I can adapt to my new environment without having a complete mental breakdown and getting really sick?

The pain of loss

Here I stand, alone once more

Your absence like a knife in my heart

Three years gone by, you never let me down

But now I’m all alone.

I yearn for you and wish for even just a little more time together

I don’t know how to live without you, who can I depend on?

I see empathy in the eyes of others, but how can they understand?

Our connection was one of a kind; you were mine and I was yours

You were the calm in my storms, my only escape

How can I go on?

Maybe there was something I could have done, some way I could save you

How could I have been so blind? The signs were all right there

I know you’ve had your ups and downs, but you always came out strong

I should have known how deceiving appearances can be

Unbearable pain in the heart of even the strongest can eventually tear you down

Now here I stand facing a future without you

My sadness has made me weak

I miss you more than you will ever know

They say everything happens for a reason

Destiny may have parted us physically, but you will forever be in my heart

xoxox

Ayla

Should mental illness be considered a permanent disability?

Question of the day: should mental illness be considered a permanent disability?

My answer: it depends…

As someone who is a self-proclaimed mental health advocate, I am prone to lean towards the claim that mental illness is absolutely a permanent disability; however, just as not all physical illnesses are permanent, not all mental illnesses are either.

Similar to physical illness, mental illness comes in varying degrees of severity. Some people who suffer from depression are able to carry on with their daily lives and still function while others are so debilitated by their illness that they cannot even get out of bed in the morning. Some people who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder are able to recover and move on from the trauma while others continue to suffer day after day despite their ongoing treatment.

For those who are able to recover from their illnesses, I would argue that their mental illness is not a permanent disability. However, individuals who have a persistent illness for an extended period of time without extended periods of recovery/no symptoms should be recognized as having a mental illness.

Emotional struggles can be just as debilitating as physical illness and I think it is important for people to recognize this. Anyone who has ever experienced the grief of losing someone who is close to them should be able to empathize with individuals who experience mental illness. This is not to say that mental illness is the same as grief, rather I simply wish to demonstrate that emotional pain can be (and often is) an extremely debilitating problem to live with.

This topic is something that is extremely relevant to my own life right now because my therapist is currently trying to register my illnesses as a permanent disability with my university. Unfortunately, the accessibility services office at my school (and likely other schools) is focused on physical disabilities, not mental disabilities. As a result, it is proving to be quite difficult to get the assistance that I need. Furthermore, in a university with thousands of students, there are only two people who work in the mental health services of the university. This is also problematic because it means that there are huge wait times to meet with a case-manager in order to discuss potential assistance.

Needless to say, I am pretty disappointed in the services of an institution that prides itself on supporting it’s students. The system is definitely putting students with mental illnesses at a disadvantage.