What is the real price of fame?

It’s difficult to avoid the amount of Free Britney Hashtags that have bombarded my twitter feed as of late. It seemed Britney was taking action to look after her own well being by checking into a mental health facility in the midst of her Fathers illness. Though, if the internet is to be believed this is not quite the full story.

As we know she has been under her Father’s conservatorship for the last ten years. A legal concept that is normally reserved for those individuals who unable to care of themselves mentally/physically and financially. For example, people who suffer from Alzheimers, severe learning disabilities etc…

In an age where the stigma surrounding mental health has been challenged (although we still have a way to go) celebrities are now able to speak about the struggles they face without being silenced by the people around them wanting to preserve their brand and image for financial gain.

And I believe what is going on with Britney is not ok.

 

close up photography of microphone

 


 

The fantasy of fame is something a lot of young people aspire to achieve — admittedly I’ve been guilty of this in the past. The celebrity lifestyle, admiration, millions in the bank, a career that is the envy of millions is all very enticing… how could anyone not be happy with all this?

Quite easily actually….

We as the general public only see a fraction of what these glorified people go through on a daily basis. What we don’t see is the complete lack of privacy, human flaws publicised worldwide and judged, addiction, mental illness, constant pressure, lack of freedom, isolation, stalkers, untrustworthy friends and family, being used, pushed by people who make money off you and of course remaining relevant.

And this is all without mentioning the sexual predation behaviour that has intoxicated these kind of industries for years. Thankfully because of the Me To movement these kind of behaviours are no longer tolerated. Celebrities (both men and women) have been legally silenced and prevented from exposing the dark side of fame for far too long.

 

pexels-photo-258890.jpeg

 

And that’s if you do achieve success.

There are millions of hopeful starlets grinding everyday for a shot at the big time. The sacrifices, constant rejections, financial struggles, loss of hope, disappointment, instability, broken promises and so on. This is not to be ‘negative’ but to give a more balanced view of what the actual reality. My aim is to give insight into a fantasy Hollywood is selling and a lot of people are buying.

Celebrities are often shamed for voicing their struggles from people who think they have everything. If money and success were the key to peace and happiness we wouldn’t see so many meltdowns and deaths (especially suicide) from people in the public eye.

The media also doesn’t help! They appear to be the gatekeepers to the ‘true’ information and we are merely told what to believe without question — and we do. They create excite around stars and we become obsessed; then ultimately they drag them down. We’ve seen how the paparazzi have hounded and harassed celebrities including Britney Spears, Marilyn Monroe and of course Princess Diana, just to name a few, in such an inhumane way.

 

marilyn monroe

 

Even though as a society we are becoming more understanding towards people’s struggles it seems the craving for success still dominates — especially in the bigger cities. It’s not about what qualities you possess as a person; it’s about your financial power and career status.

I’ve noticed the idea of fame seems to appeal to those of us with more of a vulnerable soul (not by any means all). Often those of us who were not treated with the love and nurture it takes to create a healthy human being can probably understand how world wide adoration appears extremely attractive.

In contrast, what we have right now is what some iconic celebrities would love to have. They frequently pine for freedom, normality, stability and anonymity, which we take for granted. They may seem like basic privileges when you compare it to global stardom and millions in the bank but they are some of the most important of human needs. We all know that story of when Michael Jackson hired actors to ignore him in a supermarket setting just so he could experience what it feel like to be ‘normal’.

It is so easy to get swept up into the fantasy spell that has been cast upon us from an early age but one important point to emphasise is that even celebrities themselves have admitted what we see if not really them — it’s a strategically construct image that appeals to the masses. I remembered Cindy Crawford revealing how she wished she looked like how she did in the magazines, and that’s Cindy Crawford! Now Social media allows us ‘normies’ to experience that celebrity lifestyle; again only allowing people to see the ‘perfect’ version of ourselves — it’s not real life.

 

pexels-photo-1190297.jpeg

 

 

It is also possible that if you cannot find contentment with how your life as it is right now; then even if you attained fame it is more than likely you will not be happy with that life either after the novelty wears off — normally with this kind of thinking more is never enough.

Not that I’m a big fan of the show but it seems ‘Love Island’ has come under fire recently from the two contestants who completed suicide. An intense burst of fame is more likely to to crash when reality seeps through. Often big celebrities are managed, and I guess in some ways protected, but reality stars are often a ‘normie’ one day and thrust into the clutches of fame the next, without getting to select what parts they want and what parts they don’t. It’s a LOT to handle!

So we have established now success does not equal happiness so why may there be a slight niggling that says ‘it might’. As there are many people who seem fine and are able to reap the rewards of stay somewhat sane.

I believe there’s nothing wrong with having strong desires for success; I feel it’s great to pursue dreams, express yourself, push yourself and use your full potential. It only becomes a problem when your self worth becomes attached to the process.

Even my brief affair with the industry opened my eyes to some things I didn’t want to see. It asked a price from me I simply could not afford.

Whats wrong with a normal average life? Those of us who enjoy a ordinary lifestyle with enough money to only afford the necessaries with the occasional splurge?

Nothing, absolutely nothing.

 

pexels-photo-371393

 

Things like success, money, status, beauty are all fleeting. Sure, it’s great to have these things in our life but they should only compliment our life; not be the sole purpose of our existence — because what happens if you lose it? What do you have? And if you are looking for the external to validate your self worth then you will always be searching because nothing will ever be enough.

We are all experiencing this human experience called life; we are all on the same level with similar needs including love, support, understanding. True some of us are born with extreme talent or beauty, or born into a financially wealthy family with better opportunities but what does it matter? We all have a limited time on this earth, we all age, we all die, we only really have ourselves to face this life with.

What is the point in having all this fame and success when you still feel a void? Because as we’ve seen, from example, a career won’t fill that gap. Then you feel sad because you’re at the top of your game and still feel bad. And then on top of that you feel guilty because you ‘have everything’ but the feeling won’t leave. One of the main reasons people in the limelight develop addictions is because it’s an escape from reality, doesn’t;t sound like a ‘dream come true’ if you ask me (?) That and the fact that despite what they are going through emotionally/physically they are forced to be a performing monkey and bring in the sales. You become less of a person and more of a money making machine who is only worthwhile whilst you are bringing in the top dollar!

 

Quote132

 

And all we see is a perfect veneer with the occasional crack to exposes what really goes on behind the scenes to push people to breaking point (?)

I wonder if people like Marilyn Monroe or Elvis had not pursued the careers they did that led to their untimely demise … would they still be around today?

Though saying this there are many people who live famous and/or successful lives and appear to be happy, content and prospering. I guess other elements contribute like a support team, getting into the business a bit later in life, not letting it define you (?) etc…

This article is in no way meant to discourage people from pursuing their passion. Just to give insight into a industry that proclaims to be something it isn’t. The reality is behind that one superstar you idolise is a lot of sacrifice, hard work, seediness and millions of people who face disappointment for not achieving that level of status.

 


 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, as previously mentioned it was not meant to spread negativity. Just to contribute towards a more balanced view.

It is important to have dreams and work hard but to also recognise when it eats up too much of your life and self worth; unfortunately fame may ask you to sacrifice these things in order to achieve greatness. How much do you really want it?

 

I will get back to posting regularly just settling down into Uni life which consists of a LOT of reading and a shock to the system!

Thank you for reading!

 

Warmest Regards

Diagnosing yourself with OCD needs to stop!

Disclaimer: Some of the details I mention in this blog post maybe triggering or distressing to some readers. If you are sensitive to descriptions of violence please be mindful of that if you decide to carry on reading. 

 


 

The charity MIND describes Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as an anxiety disorder with two main parts: obsessions and compulsions.

  • Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind. They can make you feel very anxious (although some people describe it as ‘mental discomfort’ rather than anxiety). 
  • Compulsions are repetitive activities that you do to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession. It could be something like repeatedly checking a door is locked, repeating a specific phrase in your head or checking how your body feels.

The latest DSM – 5 ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Edition 5‘ (The book psychiatrists abide by when diagnosing patients) removed OCD from under the umbrella term Anxiety and gave it it’s own division because many ailments branch out from OCD including Trichotillomania (hair pulling); Skin Picking; Hypochondria; Body Dysmorphia and many more.

Some argue that eating disorders are a form of OCD. While others maintain that even though eating disorders may share common symptoms with OCD it should be classified as a separate illness. In my opinion, I’d say there is a definite overlap between eating disorders and OCD — especially OCD’s sister illness Body Dysmorphia.

RANT ALERT.

Over the years I feel the media — with it’s uniformed opinions of what OCD actually is — has made it ‘fashionable’ or ‘trendy’ to be diagnosed with this condition. Which in turn minimalizes the severity of what it means to suffer from OCD. We are living in an age where the internet has a massive influence on society’s perceptions and ideologies. With that in mind the media should be a bit more responsible about the information it distributes– but then again this is the media we’re talking about — anything for sensationalist story right?

The internet seems to be inundated with pseudo psychology; self diagnosis and Dr Google. People recognise certain symptoms and diagnose themselves with all sorts of severe illnesses including OCD.

Though, in all fairness, the media/internet has also done quite a lot to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health and providing education to help people understand how the brain can suffer from problems just like any other organ in the body. Nowadays, it is far less taboo to speak about mental health struggles and what help you may need. There are also some great campaigners out there fighting for mental illness to be taken seriously. So times are changing which is wonderful as it mean we are moving out of the ‘just snap of it’ era and being a bit more compassionate to our fellow human beings. 

On the topic of stigma I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve overheard conversations where people proclaim to be ‘so OCD’ and then describe symptoms that are more fitting to someone who is a ‘neat freak’ or just particular about things.

Granted tidiness and order can be a symptom of  OCD but I would say it’s the severity of the thoughts and behaviour that defines it as an illness. The impact it has on your day to day life; some people are unable to leave the house because the illness is so debilitating.

Here is a breakdown of the differences:

Particular person: Feels a strong need to have her/his room in a regimented order and feels relief once they have organised the objects in a particular way. They can then carry on with their day. 

OCD sufferer: A excruciating need for control. If an object is out of place the person feels extreme anxiety to the point the fight or flight adrenaline is activated. They fear something really dreadful may happen to someone they care about if this extreme order is not preserved. If they do not follow these rules perfectly their own mind attacks them and bullies them until they follow orders.

 

DXGg4xEWsAkwnEx.jpg.pagespeed.ce.DeJJJtyZ-w
Source: www.themighty.com

 

This is also true of celebrity OCD. To be able to function or maintain a ‘normal’ job whilst your brain is constantly bombarding you with life and death intrusive thoughts or doubts about every aspect of your life takes tremendous strength. So I struggle to understand how people are able to become hugely success whilst suffering from OCD (?) This does not come from a place of judgement but rather curiosity. They’re either extremely functional OCD sufferers or their OCD has somehow helped them achieve their goals (?) It’s a really awful thing when your mind feels like your worst enemy; I know MIND describes obsessions as ‘mental discomfort’ … but I’d describe them as absolute agony!

I mentioned before that OCD is now seen as a ‘fashionable’ or a ‘trendy’ illness to have which I think is beyond insulting to anyone who suffers from this disorder. It’s even gone one step further with companies using the OCD acronym to try and be cute in their marketing campaigns. There is a particular cosmetic company that really raises my hackles. And that company is Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics.

I find it grossly insensitive to use a mental illness to sell your makeup line?! Would it ever be ok to launch a product range called Bipolar makeup or Schizophrenia cosmetics!? I think not! But apparently it’s absolutely fine to do this with OCD?!

RANT OVER.

 

20190228_171732
Source: Insatgram @ocdrecovery

 

 

I have recently started work with Robert Bray (above). His insight into the disease surpasses any ‘OCD professional’ I’ve worked with in the past. I think unless you’ve been through it you can’t really understand it — like most things I guess. Even the sufferers of OCD can’t understand how such irrational thoughts can cause such extreme anxiety over something that others may consider unimportant. 

I remember a friend of mine — who shall remain unnamed for obvious reasons — and no it’s not me — had an intense fear of raisins. I had no idea how intense this phobia was until I put one on her chair in Design Technology class as a joke. As soon as she saw it she was unable to go near the chair and went into a trauma reaction. Yes, I felt guilty about it afterwards. The way she processed the idea of a raisin and what she associated it with caused her great distress. I guess you can develop an obsession or phobia about anything (?)

American Psychiatrist Jeffrey M Schwartz M.D refers to OCD as ‘Brain Lock’ and even used this for the title of his book. He compares OCD to one of those old gramophones that you play vinyl’s on. Once in a while the pin that gets stuck and you would hear that same section of the song play over and over again. Schwartz says this is what happens in the brain with OCD; the brain locks and plays that obsession or fear over and over again each time getting worse until the sufferer is petrified. The fear becomes disproportionate to the object or situation. I would this is the same way a phobia works — but don’t take my word for it I’m not an expert in that field, it’s just a theory.

 

 

It is quite common for OCD sufferers to have ‘whack a mole’ obsessions and compulsions. I’ve known people who start off with Harm OCD (a fear they would attack someone or might have killed someone) morph itself into Religious OCD (continuous intrusive ‘blasphemous’ thoughts about your faith and that you are evil), for example. One of the most painful aspects of OCD is you know what you are thinking and doing is irrational; but you can’t stop no matter how much you try — OCD has a gun to your head. And every time you give in to its ridiculous demands for a tiny bit of relief it gets stronger.

 

xScreen-Shot-2018-03-08-at-9.54.10-AM.png.pagespeed.ic.9Sl8vTS4kS
Source: www.themighty.com

 

OCD has full disclosure to your worst fears. For example, it is common for a new Mother to suffer with OCD. Their baby is the most precious thing in the world to them, which OCD knows. Therefore it will bombard the Mother with horrific intrusive thoughts of hurting the new baby. Because it’s the Mother’s worst fear she assumes just having these thoughts means shes a terrible person and a danger to her child. But thats not the case at all, it’s because she care so much about her baby and would never hurt it she has these obsessions (if that make sense?). OCD will always latch onto your worst fear to taunt you with. A person with OCD who is caring and likes people will fear they are a murderer because they really don’t want to hurt people and are disturbed by intrusive thoughts that one day they might kill someone. Most ACTUAL murderers will enjoy thoughts about hurting people and actually kill somebody without guilt… I hope the difference makes sense?

I would really recommend ‘Mad Girl’ by Bryony Gordon. It’s a really insightful journey of Bryony’s struggles with OCD. And one of the main fears she had as an OCD sufferer and new Mother was abusing her daughter. The book is really interesting and provides an honest and inspirational insight into the life of an OCD sufferer.

 

 

Whilst I’m on the subject another book I would recommend is ‘Pure’ by Rose Cartwright. I’m so pleased people have the bravery to reveal this illness because it’s been suffered in silence by so many people for such a long time. The fear is friends/family/therapists wont understand and will think they are dangerous or bad people. I had the same OCD theme as Rose and I can honestly say it was horrenduous. I was first diagnosed at 17 years old and I remember I was absolutely terrified to tell the doctors what was going on inside my mind incase I was locked away either in prison or a mental institute. Now I understand my faulty thoughts are considered relatively ‘normal’ within the OCD community. I’ve managed to avoid ‘exposure therapy’ for as long as I could, but I still suffer, so I know it’s the only way to truly get back in control of my mind and the best treatment for OCD.

 

 

You may have seen television programmes where people who suffer from contamination OCD are encouraged to touch toilets or ‘dirty’ things so they feel the maximum anxiety they can possibly feel (this is exposure therapy). The point of this is not for a sadistic thrill but to desensitise the patient to the thing they fear the most in order to loosen the grip OCD has on their life. It’s impossible for people to feel maximum anxiety all the time so eventually the fear plateau’s and their thoughts are brought back to reality.

Contamination OCD is one of the most recognised and publicised themes; but there are so many more versions of OCD that are yet to be recognised. Such as Trans OCD (a fear that you are in fact a transsexual); Relationship OCD (a fear that your partner is cheating on you no matter how committed or in love they are with you. Or a fear you may not ‘really’ be in love with your partner). OCD can merge itself with reality (or things other people worry about) and make you constantly over analyse and doubt to the point where you cannot decipher the line between rational and irrational beliefs. In France OCD is known as the Doubting Disease because you are constantly looking for reassurance which relieves you for about 5 minutes before another doubt triggers you. That’s why, for example, someone with Relationship OCD may ask their partner 100 times a day if they love them and no matter how many times they say ‘yes’ the illness will always distort the truth in order to steal you away from reality and keep you mentally imprisoned. 

I once saw this really interesting Netflix documentary when I was in Los Angeles a few years ago; I believe it was called Obsessed but I’m not sure as annoyingly I’ve yet to find this documentary while I’ve been back in the UK.

It follows people who suffer with lesser known forms of OCD. Two of the patient cases really stayed with me. One of the women was told that her Father had been involved in a car crash so she immediately rushed to his aid. Unfortunately her Father passed away due to his injuries. She took home his bloodied shirt (I guess as some sort of memento?) and every night when her children would go to bed she would wear this shirt and obsessively try and figure out how this car accident occurred. Or another case where a woman had constant intrusive thoughts of animals in pain. When she was a child her abusive Father beat her dog in front of her causing significant emotional distress. She was hounded by intrusive images of hurt animals and found the thoughts intolerable (which most people would; but like I said it’s the emotional intensity and consistency of the thoughts that classifies it as an illness). Part of her exposure therapy was to carry around a picture of an abused dog which she had to keep looking at during the day. A lot of people with OCD use avoidance as a coping mechanism to stress but this also just makes it worse because it then the brain thinks ‘Jeez this thing really is dangerous!’. She was also taken to kennels where the dogs where going to be euthanised which was disturbing to see as a) I love animals and b) seeing someone in that much pain is upsetting. You may think this is re-traumatising the person; but unfortunately (I say unfortunately because this form of recovery is extremely painful and I’m sure most people wish there was another way) it seems to be the most effective way to treat OCD. I guess it has a ‘face your fears’ element to it — you take away OCD’s power over you. 

Having this illness can make you feel very alone as no one seems to understand what you’re talking about and even you don’t understand. To some extent OCD does not respond well to logic; just like you could tell a person suffering with anorexia that they are not fat a million times a day and they would not believe you despite the fact they are desperately under weight. As humans we seem to go with what feels real rather than what we know to be real.

I hope you enjoyed reading my post about OCD. And if you feel you may be suffering from OCD please do see your doctor. Mental health issues are now much more accepted and understood than they used to be. You are not alone; most OCD sufferer’s feel people won’t understand because their thought’s are different or worse than anyone else’s but rest assure many people suffer with these thoughts no matter how ‘bad’ or ‘strange’ they are.

Make sure you find a therapy that works for you; the main one is ‘Exposure Therapy’ a form of ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’. In my experience psychotherapy has little affect on OCD; it normally makes you try and figure out where it came from and can make it worse; and to be honest even if you do know it doesn’t really take away the irrational thinking and strong reaction.

The Maudsley Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma is one of the main treatment centre for treating chronic OCD which I would recommend.

There is also:

https://ocdaction.org.uk/

https://www.ocduk.org/

https://bddfoundation.org/

https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

I would also really suggest following Robert Bray ‘OCD Recovery’ I find his quotes and therapy incredibly helpful and in a short time I’ve already improved so much. 

Be brave OCD will try to convince you you’re the worse person alive or that people won’t understand … they will; don’t believe it’s lies.

Warmest Regards

 

 

I know addiction is a killer. But is it also a faulty survival mechanism?

 

Disclaimer: I make no attempt to glamorise addiction or make light of the subject matter. It is a life threatening disease that claims the lives of many.  

 


 

It is often said that it doesn’t matter too much what the addicts drug of choice is; whether it be food, drugs, sex, love etc… the problem lies in the addicts inability to tolerate reality. Addiction provides a temporary escape route for what seems to be a painful existence.

Research suggests a strong link between childhood trauma and addiction. One study suggests childhood trauma was ‘common’ within addicts. I wouldn’t want to proclaim a causation but it seems there’s definitely a correlation between trauma and people using ‘drugs’ as a ‘coping mechanism’. This particular study concentrated on Heroin addicts and how they used drugs to blot out ‘distressing thoughts and feelings’. Hammersley, et al., (2016).

 
pexels-photo-551590

 

I have often wondered if the afflicted person did not have these addictions to ‘rely’ on; is it possible that they might not have the ability to continue(?)

To understand addiction it is vital to understand how the brain works and why it would allow us to indulge in behaviours and addictions that are obviously harmful to us?

The everyday brain we are familiar with and we interact with all day every day is called the ‘new brain’. It dictates what you’re going to have for dinner, your diary management, deciding what to wear, problem solving and so on. There’s a level of consciousness because you are able to ‘some extent’ dictate what you think. 

The old brain, however, is buried deep within the unconscious.  Your old brain doesn’t care about what errands you have to run today, or what you’re going to be doing on the weekend. It’s main (and one could say only motive) is to keep you alive. 

A good few centuries ago our main worries were things like …. has my family and I got enough food to eat? Is my life in danger? Is our shelter adequately protected? Obviously concerns like these are still valid today but instead of worrying about you and your family being killed by a saber tooth tiger you may fear losing your job or your house because it signals to your old brain there is a risk to your survival and possibly your families survival.

Note: Some call this ‘old brain’ the ‘reptilian brain’ as it goes back to the theory we started  as reptiles. All mammals have a ‘reptilian brain’. 

Triune Brain Theory
Differences in consciousness

 

As you can see the reptilian brain is located in the cerebellum (known as the second brain) and runs down the spinal cord and central nervous system. It’s why you make a split decisions when you feel as though you are in danger. This is also known as ‘black and white’ thinking / all or nothing type of thinking you see in people with high anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder, for example. If you were being chased by a saber tooth tiger you wouldn’t think…. ‘Well I could fight this predator but then I might die in the process. So maybe I will run into that cave. But there may be predators in there too so maybe it’s best if I fight this big cat with my spear’. By the time you’ve thought of all that; you’re dead.

It doesn’t have to be as extreme as a saber tooth tiger. Your nervous system will react to  any perceived threat. The fear of your partner will cheat on you, or losing your wallet and becoming a victim of identity fraud etc… Your old brain doesn’t discriminate between danger; a threat is a threat. Which is why you see people with anxiety are quick to panic or jump to worst case scenario. Their nervous system is in a constant state of threat, so what may seem like a small issue is highly threatening to them. Being in a constant state of hyper vigilance is exhausting for nervous system which is why anxiety and depression often goes hand in hand. The exhaustion of the nervous system often results in a catalyst for depression.  

Then why doesn’t the brain protect us from addiction seeing as its so deadly?

Trauma is known to rewire the brain (especially pre-developmental). So maybe the old brain views reality as the threat(?) Therefore it would make sense that addiction is a way to ‘ease the pain’ in order to survive. 

You’re old brain is in control of your flight, fight and freeze reactions. American Science Journalist and Trauma Expert Seth Porges points out the injustice of the court system in regards to sexual assault trauma. Many women (and men) are doubted or antagonised for the way the reacted during the attack. The victim doesn’t always have a choice. With that amount of fear and adrenaline pumping around the body the old brain overrides the new brain, and more often than not, the reaction of the victim is to freeze and disassociate. This is a trauma reaction and is not within control of the victim. 

You can learn more about it here.

 


 

So in short the old brain’s job is to protect you and keep you safe even if the methods don’t always make sense. You can sense when the old brain is threatened as adrenaline normally starts pumping through your blood stream and thoughts start racing. But as we know the brain doesn’t know the difference between being chased by a saber tooth tiger or bumping into your ex with his new girlfriend. Old brain only knows the language of threat.

What has this got to do with addiction?

Well as we’ve seen addiction and trauma are intrinsically linked. Maybe if this ‘freeze’ and dissociate element is a reaction to trauma; then maybe the denial of reality and indulgence of addiction is part of the ‘freeze/dissociation’ mechanism in the brain(?) Just a thought. 

Even though addiction may destroy lives and even worse kill. Addiction wouldn’t be so powerful if it didn’t have some of survival pay off. It may have been imperative that the person suffering needed to escape reality in order to stay alive. 

Fantasy is another form of addiction. This is common with abuse victims. They have an almost out of body experience and go into ‘another world’ so they don’t have to be present in the body that is being hurt. If this has been happening since childhood how are they supposed to know any other way to be?

I had a friend who appeared to have it all. Good looks, great job, great prospects but was heavily addicted to cocaine. He once explained when he became ‘sober’ he would go out with friends and not know what to do or how to behave. It seems this disease becomes so enmeshed with your sense of self its almost impossible to imagine yourself or your life without it. 

 

thPN68YOZ3

 


 

Addiction is also the master of deception. It disguises itself as something else, which makes it so malevolent. The alcoholic is now the ‘wine connoisseur’. The love addicts inability to be on their own is just because Mr Right hasn’t turned up yet to save her from these disastrous relationships. The exercise addict is ‘super healthy’ despite the fact her periods have stopped or keeps exercising despite injuries just to get that ‘buzz’. 

Maybe it could be described as a type of anaesthesia(?) Alcohol is often referred to as ‘self medication’ which supports the idea of escapism for the addict. There’s a fine line between when something is used to help you get through hard time and when it becomes a dependence or a life long crutch.

At this point I refer to one of my favourite stories.  

A boy needed to cross a rapid river. The water is too wild for him to swim solo, so he strips a tree of it’s bark in order to utilise it as a boat to get across. He is successful.

The boy needs to now climb a mountain (don’t ask me why). He begins to climb with this self made boat attached to his back. The bark becomes a burden and slows him down with it’s weight making it impossible for the boy to climb the mountain. 

As you can see this bark (coping mechanism) had been useful before; but now it’s become a hindrance.

I personally think that one of the reasons it is so difficult to give up an addiction is because A) its been a massive part of the persons life; like a friend who has stuck by you through thick and thin (albeit a toxic friend but a friend nevertheless). B) There is normally a fear of having to deal with the painful emotions and truths that the addiction puts a vanilla glaze over. C) There is more often than not a lack of healthy coping mechanisms within the addict and poor emotional regulation. It’s been theorised that trauma and addiction often stunts the persons emotional growth process. Therefore when the addict becomes clean they are often mentally a lot younger than other people their age. They have to learn to reparent themselves and grow into an adult. This takes tremendous strength, and often people who look down on addicts have no idea what the person has been through to turn out the way they have. The fact they are alive is often remarkable as addiction kills many.

 

backlit-beach-couple-1378723.jpg

 

Of course not everyone who experiences trauma in their life turns to addiction. But I’d say the majority experience some sort of dependence to alleviate pain. 

I’d always considered addiction to be affiliated with just drugs and alcohol. I didn’t realise how addiction can bleed into pretty much all areas of your life. 

I’ve heard from (mainly women) about being addicted to men, money and munchies. This is when I first started to worry as I know this trinity rang true to my ‘issues’ at the time. 

I’ve just come out of the probably the two worst years of my life. And these ‘coping mechanisms aka addictions’ were in full force. When I felt one got better the others would get worse. It was like a really infuriating game of ‘whack a mole’!

Men = I’d become addicted to toxic relationships

Money = I was worried about money. So to make myself feel better I’d spend.

Munchies = I’d stuff myself full of food to the point I’d feel physically sick. Then punish myself with a grueling exercise regime to ‘compensate’ for the binge. 

 

baked-goods-bread-bright-1191639

 

With drugs and alcohol you can stop by just putting it down. (Obviously with the support of a professional. I would not advocate doing this by yourself). But with the trinity addiction, you need all these things. You can’t just not eat. 

I knew I had an obsessive personality but never considered myself to have an addictive one as well. I figured I gave up smoking; How could I be an addict?!

It’s only when I went through the withdrawal process I realised how much I was dependant on these things. It was horrendous, absolutely horrendous. How could I feel this bad for cleaning myself up from things people ‘use’ in everyday and didn’t have an issue with? I can’t imagine how awful it must be coming off heroin; going through mental and physical withdrawal at the same time.

If I were to describe withdrawal I’d say it was like having your safety blanket ripped off you and being exposed to all the things your desperately tried to run away from.  When I ‘indulged’ in my addictions it wasn’t the same feeling as indulging in a bad habit. The behaviour and feeling came more from a life and death section of my brain (the fight or flight mechanism from the old brain). I knew what I was doing wasn’t helpful, but the comfort and momentary relief from uncomfortable feelings was too overwhelming to resist. I talk more about my food issues in Part 2: I want to lose weight but I don’t like exercise and love food too much. #Help!! 🍟🥨🍭

Hardy, et al., (2018) suggested female participants with food addictions had a higher emotional dysregulation scores, specifically with difficulties in goal directed behaviors, non-acceptance of emotional responses, impulse control, limited access to emotion regulation strategies, and lack of emotional clarity, when compared to individuals with no addiction. 

I think people who don’t know about addiction assume its greediness or a lack of discipline. It’s not. I remember someone saying to me ‘why don’t you eat things that are healthy for your body, and stop when you’re full?’ If it was just about that it would be a lot easier to manage. Again it’s not about the drug of choice it’s about the way we rely on it to validate ourselves and/or alleviate pain. I could have easily become addicted to exercise or work (these seem like more socially acceptable addictions) but I didn’t. So maybe I shouldn’t refer to it as ‘a drug of choice’, maybe the addiction choses you. Why does one person become a workaholic and another becomes a heroin addict?

I guess if you have an addictive personality you have the potential to become addicted to anything(?) If it’s not about the individuality of the addiction but the behaviour to overindulge to escape reality that pinpoints where the problem lies. 

I’ve seen people put ‘down’ an addiction and follow a spiritual path. Only they seem to use spirituality as a crutch again. Admittedly it’s better for them and everyone around them that they are addicted to spirituality as against alcohol, for example. Maybe some people are unable to do things in moderation; it really is all or nothing. It just becomes teeth grindingly annoying when some preach about how you should live your life the way they do no matter how compassionate I try and be. 

But I guess we are all trying to bumble our way through this life; and none of us are living it ‘perfectly’. There is no ‘how to’ book on how to live your life (despite the amount of self help books that proclaim this). Addicts are trying to manage a brain that tells them life is dangerous. And they are so starved of compassion that a promise to ‘feel good’ even for just a second makes the danger and toxicity ‘worth it’. 

Remember those Ipswich murders a few years back. Girls were risking their lives with clients who were potential murderers for that ‘fix’. It seems to go against everything the old brain stands for. But maybe the paradox of addiction is that the ‘fix’ is the lifeline; even if it means putting your own life in danger(?)

 
addiction-adult-black-and-white-1089423

 

These are my own views I am in no way an addiction specialist. I have used journal citations to support my thoughts, but again this is just an opinion piece not intended to offend. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you feel you may have an addiction problem please do seek help. You are not alone. There are many support groups out there that help with food, love, sex, gambling, work, drugs, alcohol, money etc… addictions. You don’t have to be at rock bottom to seek help. If it’s stopping you living the life you want, then it’s a problem.

I’ll be writing one most post this year then that’s it until next year as I travel to Asia for a month in 8 days which I’m so excited about! Will be back 18th of January and then it’s back to Uni and weekly blog posts.

 

Warmest Regards

 

 

 

 

 

Why I gave up modelling 📸

Firstly I’d like to apologise about not posting in two weeks I’ve just started Uni and have found the workload a bit of a shock to the system but I’m finally getting there.

I’ve procrastinated about writing it but I feel like I should because I learnt so much from the experiences being a model gave me.

Sometimes I still look at my friends Instagram photos and reminisce with rose tinted glasses about the glamorous lifestyle that modelling offered. But in reality, this is not an accurate representation.

It’s good for me to get my thoughts down as I feel its a good way to process and finally say goodbye to an industry I had such a love / hate relationship with.

Hope you enjoy!

 


 

 

pexels-photo-134469

 

I remember the night I decided I wanted to become a model. I would like to say I got this epiphany whilst flicking through the pages of Vogue looking at *insert 90’s supermodel’s name here* and thinking ‘I want to be her’. But the idea came after yet another blazing argument with my then boyfriend telling me that I didn’t even come close to the over made up models that cat walked down the ramp for this urban rap battle event. He wanted to be a rap star you see.

It was the insidious pang of a hurt ego that spurned me on to take my first steps into modelling. The irony will become apparent later.

Like a lot of girls I started by getting ripped off by some photography scam paying a good few hundred pounds (out of my student loan) for a ‘professional’ makeup artist and photographer. I hated how they did my makeup, my hair and even what they had me wear. But I guess there was a part of me that loved the attention and the fact I was going to ‘show’ my boyfriend I was better than what he said I was.

After the shoot, I was given a list of model agencies to approach. I was relentlessly rejected by pretty much all of them albeit a few who told me if I lost weight I would be in with a chance. I feel sorry for my younger self as I had no idea what I was doing and was terribly insecure; in hindsight it was like watching a lamb being sent to the slaughter.

Thankfully I continued to study and finish my degree. It’s when I finished and no longer had a routine to keep me balanced the trouble began. Obviously, I wasn’t going to go straight into full time modelling so I needed a job that also offered flexibility. Get ready for years of standing in heels and spraying perfume for hours on end.

At this time my self esteem was starting to deteriorate. I dyed my hair black and started putting on weight from comfort eating. I was also dealing with very difficult family issues and a horrible relationship so all in all this it was a very dark period in my life.

 

1931430_156201331340_3202278_n

 

In a way the fantasy of a glamorous lifestyle kept me going all of life’s turmoil. All I wanted was that one photo on a cover of a magazine for my, now ex, to see and that’s it I could quit. I was shooting for amateur photographers and was grateful for the £50 I’d get for hours of work. I thank God I never got hurt or did anything I was THAT uncomfortable with. Mostly it was a case of sacrificing my time for promised exposure that never really came to anything. I found this extremely frustrating but I thought this is how it was.

I was still trying to join a modelling agency so despite everything that was going on my ambition was never fully squelched. I would like to add that this was the time social media was also really taking off so that helped me to network.

I had a few hopeful meetings with some smaller agencies. My portfolio was a complete mess. I had no idea about marketing myself and even less of an idea about fashion. I thought agencies would see through all this if they believed in you, but now I know you have to have the perfect portfolio to approach agencies with in the first place, it’s your CV. This seems obvious now, but it wasn’t back then, I’d been given so much wrong advice by so many different people.

My weight was ALWAYS an issue, no matter what size I was.

It was another day at work spraying perfume when I overheard one of the girls talking about slimming pills. This intrigued me, as I couldn’t lose weight on my own so maybe this was the answer?

The girl (who shall remain nameless) told me where I can get these slimming pills and I managed to get my hands on a batch. They really shouldn’t have given them to me, but in the long run, they might have been helpful because they gave me the energy I needed to kickstart my life.

So now I know these pills were actually a low form of speed. Which is why I had more energy and less appetite. I lost weight quickly, worked on my tan and turned my jet black hair to honey blonde.

My ex-hated my new look and told me I looked anorexic. He was probably right, but I didn’t care for his opinion anymore. I had many more people telling me I looked great, even though deep down I still didn’t feel great about myself.

 

28418_417206321340_7820140_n

 

I got some new photos …. again. I remember someone saying to me ‘when is this mysterious portfolio ever going to be finished?’ Never, is the answer to that. There was always something ‘wrong’ with it. I even started paying for more professional photographs but then by then, I was starting to put on weight. I’d get the odd few awesome shots, but it was really hit and miss. I really didn’t have the confidence to really be ‘seen’, I desperately wanted to which is why I wanted to have a career in front of the camera, but as soon as I got there I felt like I was cringing deep inside.

I only really felt excited by it when I was getting ready and being pampered. This was tainted with a niggling worry I was too overweight or looked ugly in the pictures. I remember when a shoot was cancelled because I didn’t fit the clothes properly. I know its obviously important the model fits the clothes but I remember I was 18 y/o and mortified!

So with my photos, I managed to get into a few smaller agencies. This didn’t fill me with confidence as in my head if I wasn’t at the top it wasn’t worth doing. Completely the wrong way of looking at it but isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?

My new body was hard to maintain; the clinic wouldn’t give me anymore skimming pills. So I had to do it on my own. It was mid Summer and really hot but I was always really cold with numb fingers. But I was getting more and more compliments about the weight I’d lost so it was easy to become addicted. The doctor told me I was under weight for my height but the modelling agencies told me I still had to get down to a 25 inch waist. I was 5 ft 9 with a 26 in waist. My hips couldn’t slim anymore because all that was left was bone.

 

thumbnail_20181016_151037[1]

 

It was a really shallow, fake life I was living. I couldn’t be anymore further away from my authentic self. I started going to London’s most exclusive clubs with model friends whilst trying to make a living and going to what felt like an endless amount of castings only to be selected for a handful of jobs.

Something must have worked because all of a sudden people were taking notice. I was accepted into a decent model agency I’d been pursing for ages (in fact they’d previously turned me down three times).

 

 

It felt great because being signed was the equivalent of feeling validated as a ‘professional model’ and I wasn’t doing it all on my own. The quality of my photographs got better and I finally felt like things were taking off. I had a good few model friends I liked and would go out with. But the majority of people I’d hang out with I didn’t really know … I called them the ‘night people’. The type who would party with celebrities but had no real career of their own. It was weird seeing pictures of yourself in campaigns randomly around town. It was a weird contrast of excitement and feeling quite empty.

 

 

People would refer to me as a model and I felt myself cringe as I didn’t identify as one. This all started as a way to get back at an ex boyfriend and to prove something to people, but this new career choice was taking over.

My brain went to mush as I wasn’t really using it anymore. No matter how ‘pretty’ I felt at a casting or a shoot it wouldn’t be too long before I would compare myself to another model who I deemed ‘better than me’. I would scrutinise my photographs within an inch of their life, and was helped by others in the industry to rip myself apart.

I’d see other models getting who I thought were quite average looking getting the jobs I wanted and started to become bitter and resentful. The irony here was that I was already sabotaging my work but at the same time getting angry at others for what I considered ‘stealing’ jobs off me.

 

 

My self esteem was constantly in flux, people flattering me whilst others ignored me. Having my body measured in front of a room full of people I also found really embarrassing, especially if I’d put on weight.

Saying this I was enjoying the perks of the lifestyle, I didn’t have to ‘work’ that hard to make nice money. I’d get treated really well on (most) shoots, food was paid for, hotels were paid for, travel was paid for. I was being looked after at the same time.

 

10177456_10152417817836341_142815278931639200_n

 

I had attention from celebrities and was invited to exclusive places. Shot with renowned photographers and was really starting to make my ‘dreams’ a reality.  My old friends and people I went to school with (and my ex) took notice, finally I was showing them … wasn’t I?

I didn’t feel like I connected with the majority of the other models, and the guys I was seeing made me feel like a Barbie doll. I felt like they didn’t see me as a real person.

I started to binge eat to fill that emptiness… the agencies were quick to notice. I no longer had the energy to attend meat market castings, I got dropped by a few agencies, I just didn’t have the energy to keep up. The more I was guilt tripped about not losing weight the more I’d binge eat and skip castings, being labelled as unprofessional as one of two clients ‘really’ wanted to see me. So it was text book self sabotage.

Looking back I really wish I’d given up the profession a long time ago. One friend who I really respect is Charli Howard. We’d often have a moan about the industry, which confused me as I though Charli was one of the beautiful girls I’d ever seen, so how was she struggling? She took the control back and when she was dumped by her agency she decided to model on her own terms and be an ambassador for female body confidence.

A lesson I’ve learnt in life is if you are going to do something, make sure it’s something you want to give your all to. And make sure your doing it for yourself not to prove something to other people.

Looking back I definitely got into modelling for the wrong reasons, when you’re young it’s easy to get swept up in the glamour and promises. Now I’m a lot more curvier and happier. I’m studying a Masters in Psychology and enjoying my writing. I still love doing makeup and taking photos but it’s more for fun then as a job.

I’ve given up the nights in Mahiki for city breaks around Europe which makes me genuinely happy. If the party lifestyle makes you happy I’d say 100% go for it . I know a lot of models who love doing what they do and are able to give it their all. But it wasn’t for me. And I’ve now realised it doesn’t make me any less than, or ugly or not good enough. At least I gave it a go, and at times I would have liked to have wanted it more to see where it could have gone. I’m happy that when I’m 80 y/o I can show my Grandchildren what their Nan used to do for work.

For now, I’m much more interested in getting to know the real me, and what she wants out of life.

 
thumbnail_20181015140004607[1].jpg

 

Hope you enjoyed this post! If you would like to see more post’s like this I will be posting ever Thursday. Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest news and blog posts.

 

Warmest Regards

 

Why don’t you like me? 👍

Ever since I’ve involved myself in the world of social media again, I’ve become entangled in the validation game again.

I am at the beginning stages of creating a business and as an enthusiastic newbie, I already understand the power social media platforms can have for attracting new clients.

However, one of the main reasons I don’t model/act anymore is because I was never comfortable selling myself as a product. Shyness always got in the way.

But now I am involving myself in causes and interests I really believe in, and it’s not about me which makes it much easier.

But sometimes it stings when you’re really passionate about something and it feels like the world wide web isn’t so interested. Can we blame it on the Algorithm or do people just not care?

 


 

hand

 

I’ve never been too enthusiastic or strategic with social media. I lose interest in it quite quickly and revert back to putting pictures up of cute animals and psychology quotes. But I know there are a lot of people who are able to gain a mass following from selfies (and belfies) alone. What used to be ‘too much’ is now celebrated.

I guess sex sells.

I wonder if I use the right marketing strategies I can accumulate a mass following of people who listen to what I say? Should I put more selfies up to get more likes? Why do others get more likes than I do? Do I need followers to gain success or success to gain followers? Why aren’t I enough? Why is it only small businesses and random weirdo’s who follow me?

STOP!!!

This must stop. ‘Black Mirror’ was right we are becoming nothing more than rating addicts. I don’t want to be defined by my ‘followers’ or ‘likes’. It’s not too dissimilar from school but instead of competing to be popular with your peers, you’re competing with what seems like the world.

 

sky-earth-galaxy-universe

 

What I personally find difficult is keeping a balance between using social media as a platform for my work and not letting it eat up at my sense esteem. I had a break from social media for 6 months and I noticed some massive changes in my outlook which you can read about here. Since I’ve been back ‘online’ the compulsive checking and the mini ‘highs’ I get from the ‘likes’ has started to creep back in.

Intellectually, almost everyone knows that inner peace and happiness does not come from the external (and if it does it’s short-lived). But that doesn’t stop us trying to crack the system. Social Media is the EPITOME of external validation, so why do we keep falling for it? ‘Herd Mentality’ perhaps? Or maybe ‘this time it will be different’?

 

giphy

 


 

I think in this day and age it is really important to differentiate between ‘yourself’ from your online presence. It’s an avatar, no one is who they say they are online and it’s important to remember that. The online comparison is, even more, deceiving these days because people proclaim this online presence is how they are in everyday life, taking selfies at their local restaurant or jumping into a bed of flowers. It’s b*llshit.

Someone with 500,000 followers may be wondering why someone who is similar to them has 1,000,000 followers, you never ‘win’ in this game.

There are a number of reasons someone else could have a bigger following. They could have had a following from back in the days of ‘Myspace’ for example. They could be using social media a lot more than you. They could be hanging around with people who have a large following. They could have been on the scene a lot longer than you, there could be a thousand reasons. If you really want to go down that route Kim Kardashian has twice as many followers as Rihanna. And is she more beautiful or talented than RiRi?

 

images

 

Likes have no reflection on who you are as a person, your self-worth, your intelligence, your looks, your brilliance. We are living in a society that has glorified what ‘likes’ and ‘followings’ mean. Let’s not forget most of the things are liking are edited to magazine perfection. No longer are we comparing ourselves to glossy perfect women on a magazine cover. We are now comparing ourselves to an idealised version of what other people want to be… and we’re falling for it hook line and sinker from a place of indisputable insecurity.

I don’t even put up random photos of myself like I used to, people seem to prefer filters rather than pictures that show the truth. After taking what seems like a million shots I scroll through the photos to decipher which one is at least useable. My gallery using consists of photographs ranging from that classic rabbit caught in the headlight to the double chin of when you turn on your camera on and didn’t expect it to be on selfie mode.

 


 

I think there’s a misconception that its impossible to be successful unless you have masses of attention from the general public. I’m divided on this as on one hand I think the web is very powerful and a great leverage for your business to be ‘seen’. And on the other hand, I think if you have a passion for something you will give it your all and the following will naturally come to you. But then having said that I know many people who are invested in an excellent project can’t get it off the ground as their marketing skills suck.

So I personally think it’s a case of splitting the difference. Working on what you’re passionate about whilst at the same time engaging an audience you know your business deserves. And giving yourself the opportunity to meet people who have the power to help you take your ideas to the next level.

The most important thing is not to let the ‘likes’ affect your motivation or self-esteem. I know it’s difficult when it feels like the world is so obsessed. But even if you haven’t got a big following you can still live your dream and be successful; social media is not the gatekeepers of deciding who gets to live out their dream job and who doesn’t. Yes, it can help if you know how to use it safely.

 

‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same’.

– Rudyard Kipling

 


 

I don’t suggest you go live on a desert island and be satisfied with only self-love and coconuts to keep you going.  We are social creatures and need people. One of the reasons we feel such shame when we are humiliated or ostracised is because it’s our old brain (instincts) fearing we will not survive without a ‘pack’ or a community. Check out this interesting article ‘Why people need people: The myth of solitude’ here. So maybe the ‘likes’ and validation we get from social media triggers something in us that’s akin to survival. To be ‘liked’ is to stay alive?

I’ve always thought of myself as a typical introvert, craving my own space and needing time away from people to refill my energy levels. Looking back I still need this, but the times I thought I was ok being on my own I was actually lonely and would have benefitted from being around people I cared about. Though I couldn’t understand this at the time because I was so cut off from my feelings and my needs.

Stop getting validation from a computer, you are much more than that. Obviously, it’s nice when someone pays you a compliment or likes your photo. But if you rely on this it’s not too dissimilar to a drug addict needing their next fix when the high wears off. Its addictive, short-lived and not real. Step away from the computer and engross yourself with people who love and support you, even if at first it feels like withdrawal.

The strongest thing you can do is go against the crowd. Pull yourself out of the fiery competition. Gently be ok with who you are. Know that you will get to where you want to be. All that energy you give out to others, invest in yourself. Most people go with the crowd and what’s ‘in’ at that moment. Don’t be a passing phase. Make a difference in the world. Because at the end of everything, you really only have yourself to answer to.

 

Warmest Regards

 

Bullying…Why don’t people stop? 😡

 

Today I will be exploring one of the more darker and sinister sides of human behaviour.

Ever since we formed civilisations and communities; bullying has existed.

If bullying is relentless and consistent it acts as a brainwashing technique and after a while, the person on the receiving end believe this behaviour toward them is justified. This gives the bully more control and the power to enforce intimidation and abuse, which crumbles the person’s sense of self-worth.

Bullies will also employ other people to antagonise the person, to strengthen their ‘power’ and to convince the person they deserve this nasty treatment.

We will be exploring why people bully? What behaviours can be classified as bullying? And what we can do to put an end to this horrific behaviour?

 


 

In recent years we have identified the different forms of bullying. It was once thought that bullying remained in the playground and consisted of stealing lunch money and name calling. But we’ve now realised that adults can be broken down and bullied in many of the same ways.

Bullying can occur pretty much wherever there is human interaction such as work, relationships, friendships and even by strangers. The reason I say strangers is because in this new age of social media there has been a new level of malice called ‘Cyber Bullying’.

People in the public eye seem to be one of the main targets of cyberbullying. It’s easier than ever to have direct contact with high profile people minus the Managers and PR people that normally protect them. This leaves the person exposed to the wrath of the general public.  It’s a snowball effect. It often starts with one person sending a critical or even downright evil message to the person in question and then another person sees this and gets involved and then another and another. This is called the ‘Pack Mentality’ or ‘Herd Mentality’. Some people base their opinions and actions on what other people think and do. The targeted person tries to defend themselves but the overwhelming pack mentality can be relentless and bombard the person until breaking point. It’s one thing taking on one person but taking on a group can be almost impossible.

Bullies will often recruit others to do their dirty work. They don’t always reveal themselves as a bolshy, nasty people surrounded by a posse. Sometimes they can come in the form of your best friend or even your partner.

 

divorce-separation-marriage-breakup-split-39483

 

This type of Bullying goes unnoticed for long periods of time as it relies on subtlety. The person on the receiving end of the abuse no longer trusts their own instincts, their self- esteem crumbles and they become a shell of the person they used to be.

That friend who always serves you a barbed wire compliment or the boyfriend who isolates you from your friends or criticises what clothes you wear are all bullies. It’s hard to spot because it doesn’t come in the stereotypical ‘form’ of what we imagine bullying to look like. We all know the classic ‘Frenemy’! Bullies often have a preoccupation with you, watching your every move, it’s weird.

 


 

My experience of Bullying:

I have experienced bullying in many different forms. It started not long after I lost my Mum, in middle school instigated by someone I used to be best friends with. The girls who did it were blonde, confident and nasty (well to me anyway). I was geeky and unsure of myself and obviously, my demeanour encouraged them to mock me, put me down and generally all round feel bad about myself. I was also probably quite damaged from the recent bereavement and I guess they picked up on that. I would stick up for myself, but again when you’re taking on a gaggle of girls it’s difficult not to start believing them.

My next encounter was in High School. Again I was that lanky, awkward girl who had braces, dyed black hair and to be honest was not the most popular person in the world. This time the bullies were male… no matter what I did or said it was ‘wrong’ or ‘stupid’. They often found it funny when I got angry or upset, one time I remember one of them stuffing leaves down my top which really hurt. It makes me sad to think about what I went through at that age as I felt people were telling me there was something wrong with me from all angles.

I went to South Africa to see family one Christmas and when I came back I was tanned, blonde and had a new attitude. The bullying stopped, but only for a short time. It was a superficial way to make the mocking stop.

When I moved to London at 16 years old; the years of being told I was crap burned inside me and ignited my ambition or ‘need’ to show people I wasn’t what they said I was. Through work, I gained success and admiration. Finally, I’d shown them that I wasn’t this geeky awkward girl, but inside that still how I felt about myself.

Even though people from my past seemed to back off and have even graciously even gone as far as to throw me a few compliments here and there, the scars were still there. I seemed to attract the same types of personalities but with different faces, which often happens when you’re subconscious is running the show. I’ve realised I encourage processing trauma and tackling the critical voice but actually, I’ve neglected the other side healing which is building confidence and discovering goals and qualities about the self we like.

Bullies are not happy people. When people envision insecurity people often think of a person hunched over, unable to look at anyone in the eye. When in fact insecurity can present itself as grandiosity, narcissism, control and bullying. Think about it why do you feel the need to antagonise someone who has done nothing to you? Why do you care? If the only way to feel good about yourself is to victimise other people than you have a problem. I’d compare it to a poisonous codependence.

I saw this case recently where a young girl encouraged her suicidal boyfriend to kill himself, not suggested it, but actually BULLIED him to do it. You can watch the story here. She tried to blame it on her mental illnesses and change of medication but luckily the Judge saw through her Bullsh*t and sentenced her. It really annoys me when people blame mental illness on their evil actions. They have nothing to do with each other! It just breeds stigma and contempt from people who don’t have a strong understanding of mental health.

 

pexels-photo

 

When we were kids our self-esteem and sense of self-worth is determined by the relationship we have with our parents. When puberty starts the validation seeking switches from parents to peers. It’s paramount we ‘fit in’, and be accepted by other children. We crave independence from our parents and start to form a personal identity that’s not reliant on Mum and Dad. So anything that makes us ‘different’ is a source of shame for the child because it means they are not ‘like everyone else’. For me, it was mainly because I was awkward, tall and had a funny sounding surname. I hated these things about myself and even developed a bit of a hunch to stop attention being brought to my height.

Now I love being tall, its one of best physical features. I love my awkwardness I think it makes creative and think outside the box. And my surname… well I half South African and proud. Go to South Africa and my surname is like ‘Smith’ over there.

During our teens, it’s all about the opposite sex. We care about being attractive and being desired and it really stays that way throughout adulthood. You could say some even look for validation from their children later on down the line. But in general, that’s the natural order of things.

 


 

Main Forms of Bullying:

Violent:

Physical forms of abuse include hitting, scratching, spitting and can even sexual dominance or abuse. This can be seen in school children wearing extra layers to hide the evidence of their attack. Or wives who claim the bruise on their eye was caused by ‘walking into the door’. It can also be used when describing the destruction of one’s property. Ie) Destroying items that the bully know means a lot to the victim.

Social:

This is when the bully will use other people to help them make the person’s life a misery. It includes spreading gossip or rumours; otherwise known as character annihilation, encouraging others to socially exclude them, mimicking or playing nasty jokes, sniggering behind someone’s back when you know it will upset them and so on. Through doing this the Bully can hide behind other people, thus not having to take ‘full responsibility’  and the face the consequences when discovered. It also makes the victim feel that it’s not just one person that has such disdain towards them, its everyone.

Verbal:

This is an attack of words which can cut really deep. It chips away at the person self-esteem and worth. The person becomes vulnerable and makes it easier for the malicious words to penetrate. Typical verbal abuse consists of shouting, patronising, insulting, name-calling, abusive remarks about someone’s gender, race, sexual preference etc… making someone the butt of the jokes, humiliation, the list goes on. The old ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ is an old-fashioned saying, but it holds very little water because words can sometimes be mentally more damaging than physical abuse, especially over long periods of time.

Cyber:

This is a relatively new one. And has reared its ugly head with the rise of social media; ‘trolling’ has become a millennial epidemic. This is a real nasty one as again it relies on the pack mentality. It’s often said that if people were on their own they wouldn’t behave like that, but when they are in a group something happens. The group can attack not only the victim but other people involved in the person’s life like friends/family. The bombardment of internet messages can overwhelm the victim and has even been reported to cause the person to self-harm or even worse take their own life.  The internet is so vast that any wrong or malicious information can be escalated by vindictive people who don’t even know you, making it their life mission to spread as much hate as possible. This can also take the form of ‘Revenge Porn’, a scorned ex-lover putting a video of you in your most intimate moments for the world to see… creeps, family and friends…anyone. Its purpose is to cause maximum humiliation; thank God at least that’s now illegal.

 


 

Why do people Bully: 

I try to be diplomatic when it comes to explaining the reasons behind peoples atrocious behaviour as I believe we are not born ‘bad’. There are normally reasons why people behave the way they do. But when it comes to bullies, I find it challenging.

When it comes to children, I understand they don’t know how to express themselves properly. They may be bullied at home by siblings or adult family members and the only way they know how to deal with this is to make others feel bad about themselves. I understand this, it doesn’t make it right though. I would encourage the school to get involved with not just the victim but the bully as well. I suggest their circumstance ie) home life and mental health are analysed and be sent to see a counsellor.

Or if they are relatively ‘fine’, I’d say we need stricter punishment so the Bully does not carry on acting out into adulthood. Protection of the victim needs to be made an absolute priority as well as the after-effects of the abuse, this goes for adults at work as well.

Adult bullies, however, I have no sympathy for. To continuously hurt someone who is innocent (and I use this word because no one ‘deserves’ abuse) is bordering on Sociopathic. Maybe insecurity is driving it, but it’s what you allow your behaviour to be that really determines who you are as a person. Bullying can be a sign of jealousy, the victim has something the bully wants. In their twisted minds, they think if they pull that person down it will give them power, control and self-esteem. This may work for a short time but as we know it’s impossible to get validation from the external it will always be conditional. After a while, they may even get a kick out of doing it, to me, this is sadistic.

Having said this bullying also exists in the animal world. Obviously, animals aren’t doing it to be a dick. Although I’m sure there are animals out there who can be ‘so and so’s’ but I’m pro-animal so they can’t really do any wrong in my eyes. Any bullying behaviour would come from a place of survival as against nastiness. For example, the Omega Wolf is the lowest ranking member of the pack. The animal may not possess the right qualities to lead the pack and this will be a threat to the pack as a whole, so the Alpha Wolf dominates.

This is not to say the person being bullied is weak, but they may be smaller in stature or in some way vulnerable. Your vulnerability can be your biggest strength, it’s people’s ignorance that they think they can dominate you because you are shy or sensitive is a true sign of the bullies weakness. You are strong you just don’t realise it yet. The amount of bullies who have tried to suck up to me on Social Media since we left school is quite pathetic really. Shows a real defect of character.

 

download

 


 

What are the signs of bullying?

From what I’ve experienced and researched there are certain signs. They may be subtle or obvious. I’ve experienced bullying even in acting/writing courses that were meant to be fun!  Great time that was!

  • If you dread going somewhere because certain people will be there. That’s normally a red flag that bullying is occurring.
  • It seems to be you vs the rest of the group and you feel singled out. You may feel like you’ve done nothing to encourage this treatment.
  • Everything you do is ‘wrong’. Things you say/do. They may question why you did this or that a certain way making you doubt yourself constantly.
  • You may hear rumours about yourself. Or some people could be really nice to you and then get involved in the ‘pack mentality’ against you. It’s often people who are malleable who tend to be easily swayed. They are incapable of having their own opinion.
  • Someone who criticises you constantly. And then often tells you you’re being paranoid. This is what’s known as ‘Reactive Abuse’. People taunt you or bully you to get a reaction out of you then label you as aggressive or crazy or whatever when in fact you were just reacting to their abuse or defending yourself.
  • Your instincts are usually spot on. If someone makes you uncomfortable you don’t have to put up with it just to keep the peace.
  • Mocking … again this goes with the last comment if you feel it’s done in a malicious way you are well within your right to call this behaviour out. They may tell you to not be so sensitive but this is also a manipulation tactic in order to make you doubt what you know is wrong.
  • When having a disagreement with someone, they use aggressive body language or start trying to dominate you. If someone tries to ‘intellectually dominate’ you watch out for this as it’s a form of bullying.
  • If someone who is nice to everyone else but pretends you’re not there then this again is bullying albeit a subtle form. They may exclude you from events that everyone else is going to. Or give you the short straw ie) knowingly overwhelming you with paperwork, and then criticising you for not being able to keep up.
  • Laughing can be used as a way to humiliate. So if you feel someone is laughing at you and not with you this is normally a red flag.
  • Nitpicking, again this goes with trying to make you feel like ‘everything you do is wrong’.

 

pexels-photo-568027.jpg

 


 

Fighting Back: 

I don’t suggest fighting fire with fire, try water. I’ve acted aggressively towards the perpetrator in the past and it’s only escalated things. You can fight back from a place of strength and genuine power. You may want to ‘show them’ you are more than what they say. But this will all come in good time, trust me from experience.

Here are some tips:

  • Bullies are looking for a reaction. Don’t let them have one. Show their opinion of you is worthless. I know it’s hard, and even if you want to burst out crying right there and then (which you can do when you’re on your own) be strong and know you are taking away the bullies power.
  • Tell someone! Tell a person who has your best interests at heart. Sometimes in the workplace, it can be difficult as the bully may be your Boss! There is always someone more senior to tell. If the person is reprimanded then they will normally blame you. Know this is only because they are scared of the consequences in store from them, which they absolutely deserve. Even if you are worried people will think you’re exaggerating, just know bullying is bullying and you don’t have to put up with behaviour on any level.
  • Keep evidence. Start building a case against the bully. When you do tell someone they will be able to take stronger action if they have your evidence to back up the story.
  • Start building up a support group. I don’t mean a posse, because you’ll find some people don’t want to get ‘involved’. But a support system of friends who can help you and support you day to day whilst this is going on.
  • Do your best to realise that this has nothing to do with you. It’s them who have something wrong with them. Not you!

 


 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Bullying is thankfully now being taken more seriously than it was in the past. It’s important we recognise the detrimental effect this kind of abuse can have on people whether they are a child or an adult.

People are speaking up on a massive international platform and this behaviour is no longer being tolerated. I think sometimes victims of bullying don’t realise the severity of their situation. They think they deserve this treatment or it may be in some way their fault. This is why we need to vocalise the signs and symptoms so people can recognise those insidious traits in the perpetrator, and take action to get out!

 

Capture.PNG

 

If you want to read more posts like this don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. I’ll be writing a new post every Friday.

 

Warmest Regards