BPD A-Z: ABANDONMENT

January 16, 2019

(BPD A-Z) is a series aiming to cover an abridged run-through of some of the most characteristic elements of Borderline Personality Disorder, written by a 25-year-old who lives with the mental health condition.

When you think of ‘abandonment’, what springs to mind? Children in care? Puppies dumped at a shelter? Simba after Scar takes out his dad and makes him think it was his fault? Probably.

Does the concept of abandonment ever really show up in your day-to-day life?

Does it – often subconsciously – affect 99% of all decisions you ever make?

Does it influence to you push people away before they can leave you – even if you have no evidence that they’re going anywhere?

Probably not, unless you have Borderline Personality Disorder.

There are two sides of the coin when it comes to ‘abandonment’ in the BPD understanding of the term; as conveyed with the above meme. We live life on an emotional buoyancy aid, fuelled by the love of those we let into our little worlds. In the rare event that we get close enough to someone to trust them, we float on that feeling like it’s the first time we’ve ever gotten close to anyone, or anything.

However, if we think – for even a second – that that person is going to deflate that buoyancy aid and leave us flailing in the deep: we’ll pop it ourselves so that we decided to drown, goddamnit.

The Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) describes this symptom as follows:

“Frantic attempts to avoid real or imagined abandonment”

Which brings us to arguably the saddest and most frustrating part of this symptom, one which plagues our minds, then ultimately destroys our relationships: “imagined abandonment”. I like to think of myself as a reasonably rational person in day-to-day life, but once my mental health starts playing up and paranoia kicks in – anything goes.

This can be as ‘trivial’ as panicking that someone hates you because they haven’t replied to a text, or – with added stressors that have already heightened your episode – taking an overdose because your boyfriend didn’t get in touch with you and you forgot he was playing football (unfortunately a true story).

When I was diagnosed and learned about the 9 criteria of the illness (of which a patient must exhibit at least 5), this was the one that I initially identified with the least, namely as I’m not a particularly social person. As with all symptoms, however, this manifests in different ways. I usually only react as explosively as mentioned above when it comes to romantic partners, whilst other sufferers will lose sight of reality similarly if a friend cancels plans, or a family member says something that they perceive as a slight.

If you’re reading this as someone who knows somebody with Borderline Personality Disorder and would like to help alleviate any of these quiet fears: just be open with us. Be present and understanding, but ensure that you set some form of boundaries. Tell us that you’re busy doing x, y, z if you can’t talk – please don’t just ignore us if you can help it, as that’s usually a surefire ticket to crazy town.

With occasional reassurance and consistent love, these symptoms lessen in their intensity, but it isn’t an easy ride. Factor in a good support network, medication and DBT – we learn how to spot the tell-tale signs of spiralling before they cause damage.

If you suffer with BPD, know somebody with the disorder, or would simply like to discuss anything mentioned here further – don’t hesitate to find me on Twitter @Ebzo.

Also, on behalf of myself and (I’m sure) much of the BPD community, I apologise for asking “do you still love me?” about 5 times a day. It drives me as mad as I’m sure it does you.

Anti-Depressants: A Love Affair

October 13, 2018

If you’d told me even six months ago that I’d be writing this, I’d have undoubtedly scoffed and begun reeling off tales of how Sertraline made me hallucinate white-noise and blew my anxiety off the charts; staunchly proclaiming that I wouldn’t “touch the shit with a bargepole” again. Until about three months ago, medication just wasn’t a plausible option in the arsenal against my wonky brain. The Sertraline stint had seen me living on the constant verge of panic attack; completely dependent on my ex-boyfriend – around the clock – for the entirety of the fortnight I stuck with taking them for.

Fast-forward seven years and the situation had hit a breaking point. My mental health was plummeting, what with balancing a full-time job and learning to navigate a brain I’d been told was fundamentally broken, without the cognitive tools needed to begin fixing it. NHS mental health waiting lists became ever-more astronomical: I’m still, to this day, waiting to start Dialectical Behavioural Therapy over a year after my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.

The avenue of medication was scarcely even considered, given the uneasy marriage of my past bad experience and the fact my diagnosis was borne off the back of an overdose that had left me hospitalised a year prior. Medical professionals offered a mixed bag of opinions, ranging from the endlessly helpful “if you won’t take medication, you’re not trying to help yourself, so how can we help you” assessors, crisis team psychiatrists who tried to put me on Mirtazapine before discharging me to cope with side effects alone, to my own GP, who expressed decided hesitancy whenever we even danced around the subject.

By this point, I was a high-functioning wreck. Frequenting A&E fortnightly, experiencing an absolute rollercoaster of emotions within each mere hour, struggling with self-harm and putting such considerable strain on those around me that people were beginning to throw the towel in, as I’d already done on myself. Imagine living with and loving someone who can go from unnaturally hyperactive and giddy in one moment, to scathing and moody the next. To whom you have to posit every sentence with learned consideration, lest they take something out of context and fly off the handle. All whilst trying to remind yourself that they’re not the living nightmare that increasingly inhabits both their tongue and their actions. Something so desperately had to give.

My GP offered me 10mg of Citalopram, an SSRI anti-depressant that I’d actually heard good things about, in the smallest available dose to lessen the impact of side effects. The first couple of days were surprisingly smooth-sailing – a bit of tiredness here, arguably psychosomatic anxiety there – then it started getting interesting. The tiredness became exhaustion; rendering me essentially bed-bound for nearly a fortnight, with anxiety that morphed into creeping nausea that saw me lose almost a stone in the same timeframe.

I won’t lie: it was hell for almost a month. Once my appetite came back in the third week, it brought with it a pervasive sense of doom that sat heavy on my chest at all hours of the day – warning against absolutely nothing. I did nothing but sleep, watch bleak documentaries and convince myself that I was never going to get any better. Until one day I did.

Day by day, I began to feel that the world became slowly more manageable as my energy returned. The heavy, rotting sensation in my chest that had presented so regularly for as long as I could remember waned, until one day it just wasn’t there anymore. Neither were the occasional bouts of mania that had led to stupid impulsive decisions and the guaranteed decline into heavy self-harming episodes. The easiest way to describe it is that it feels as though someone’s taken the edges off the dangerous sides of my emotions, like the aspect ratio crops itself when the cinema switches to a letterbox-style film; the highs aren’t as high, and the lows most definitely are not as low.

It’s almost three months since I began taking Citalopram and I can quite confidently say that I’ve never felt as consistently mentally well since I was a child. The only danger with this inviting sense of new-found normalcy, however, is that it can make you complacent. ‘Oh yeah, I’m cured now – I can definitely get completely blind drunk, or knowingly mess up my sleeping pattern, or skip meals – without fearing consequence’. Not quite. The only occasion of relapse since I started my medication was due to drinking far too much on an empty stomach.

With said lessons learned, life looks so much brighter since I started taking Citalopram. Not the garishly supermarket-bright of anxiety, but a welcoming lightness filled with prospects. One that uncovers enjoyable things that had lost their shine to my illness – such as writing this post right now – something I haven’t done in over nine months. But most importantly, it’s a light that illuminates the future that I’d so desperately tried to end.

Learning to Cope with a Borderline Personality Diagnosis

January 10, 2018

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert by any means, nor am I going to pretend that I have my shit together. But, since getting my shock diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder back in September – and the benefit/downfall of  having a severe lack of filter – I thought it might be helpful to those who are struggling, or to those who know somebody who is struggling, to have one person’s insight on how they’re learning to cope with their diagnosis.

As I mentioned in my previous post about BPD, I never thought that it was a mental disorder that I could attribute to me. Yes, I’ve been diagnosed with depression and generalised anxiety in the past, but I never caught any links of anything further than that. However, following my diagnosis, I see so many explanations for behaviours that I’ve had in the past – and to this day – that formerly, I had no reason behind.

Let’s not beat around the bush: BPD is a fucking hellhole of a disorder. Sparring with Schizophrenia for the highest stigmatisation rate amongst modern mental illnesses; it isn’t anyone’s favourite mental mishap. Factor in the fact that it’s a disorder with a very low recovery rate, which people only learn merely how to moderate, yeah, it’s really not the greatest. Let’s not even get into the 10%+ suicide rate in sufferers.

However, BPD is not the curse I thought it was initially. There are times where I feel like I am nothing more than this illness; I’ll give you that, but there are other times where I know that having BPD can be dealt with, and it offers its own bizzare multitude of ‘benefits’.

For example, if you’re friends with someone with BPD – and I mean – if they consistently trust you enough to really let you into their life – you’ve got one motherflipping loyal friend on your hands. When I connect with someone truly, I’ll go to the ends of the Earth – oftentimes to my own detriment – to ensure that they’re okay. Granted, that means that we do often gravitate towards those who may not always deserve our care, but it’s still there.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve lost a number of people in my life – for various reasons – but I’m starting to wonder whether those people were actually meant to be there, or whether they were riding on my inability to leave someone be when they’re in a crisis. I can’t say that getting diagnosed has been a walk in the park by any means, but it’s been so fucking enlightening to understand why I do the things I do – especially in moments of crisis.

The sad fact is, regardless of anyone’s self-awareness of their disorder, a therapy called DBT is pretty much a must when it comes to proper treatment of those with BPD, which – unfortunately – is something that I can’t access through the NHS (for 12-18 months) without forking out £320 a month for private therapy, so it definitely has its downfalls.

All I’m trying to do with these posts is open up about Borderline and hopefully give others suffering the strength to do the same. And for those who aren’t, I’m writing to show people that a ‘normal, functioning person’ has that very same disorder.

Love Thy Neighbour Manchester – Review

January 9, 2018

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After visiting the original Liverpool branch of Love Thy Neighbour last year – where the waitress, unfortunately, spilled coffee all over my jeans and didn’t apologise – I had to check out the Manchester offering that opened less than a month ago in Chorlton. I even wore the same jeans.

Gorgeously kitted-out with its Instagram-ready aesthetic and health-conscious menu, Love Thy Neighbour is the brunch spot to have on your radar. Whether you’re looking for an oat milk peanut butter hot chocolate, or a buddha bowl; you can tick off every delightfully wanky food fad in a mere couple of hours at this place.

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Let’s start with the coffee, as it was a damn good place to start. After hearing the hype about matcha lattes and spotting one on the menu – I had to give it a go. Served picture-perfect and at an ideal temperature; the matcha latte is definitely one that I’d opt for purely for its alleged benefits, as it had a slightly bitter aftertaste and tasted a bit like, er, chalk.

After necking a metric shit-tonne of water and revelling in my virtuous matcha choice, I went balls-deep for the new health-kick bad boy on the block: the turmeric latte (can someone please tell me how you pronounce turmeric – despite being on the planet for quarter of a century – I’m still lost).  This was a winner. Subtle enough not to hugely deviate from your usual latte (and yet hopefully benefit from those anti-inflammatory properties), the turmeric latte is a great alternative for chai latte lovers as it offers that rich creaminess without making you need a lie down after it. Tip: opt for oat milk.

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When it came to the brunch itself, I went with a spin on the coconut-creamed mushroom bagel: switching out the bagel for two poached eggs (soz, am a low-carb loser). Splitting a side of smashed avo with my friend Kara to round it off, this was a great portion size and wasn’t ridiculously expensive. In fact, my share of the bill only came to £15 including tip, which for two coffees and a breakfast in Chorlton – where you can buy hand-sized plants for upwards of £50 – is pretty damn reasonable.

The food was nice, but I didn’t taste any coconut milk on the mushrooms and – if I’m being honest – it didn’t really deviate that far from something I could’ve rustled up in my own kitchen. Next time, I’ll be more adventurous and try a smoothie bowl – Manchester freezy weather permitting.

The good news is, nobody spilled any coffee on me and the wait staff were far more pleasant than their Liverpool counterparts, phew. I’ll definitely be returning to Love Thy Neighbour sometime soon and indulging in that turmeric latte fix again. Also, there’s a shop two doors down that sells cat trinkets and treats – highly recommended.

Have you checked out Love Thy Neighbour in Manchester or Liverpool? What’s your favourite thing on the menu? Hmu @Ebzo.

Getting Diagnosed with the Disorder That Changed (and Nearly Ended) My Life

January 6, 2018

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It’s taken me four months since my diagnosis to even start being open about the topic of this post. My family, some friends – even medical professionals – have all but begged me to keep a lid on it, but I refuse to continue perpetuating the stigma by keeping my gob/blog shut.

My name is Ebony Nash. I’m a writer, and Senior Marketing Executive for one of the country’s largest sports fashion retailers. I have a degree in English Literature with Creative Writing, will always be found wearing red lipstick, and live with a Persian cat called Sneaky. What you mightn’t know is, I also have Borderline Personality Disorder.

Cue boos, hisses and shudders (mainly from my ex-boyfriends).

BPD gets an incredibly bad rep across the board; whether it’s through the media, general misinformation, or even the field of psychology itself. Whether we’re immortalised as Fatal Attraction’s bunny boilers, mardy Girl; Interrupted wrist bangers or pathological crazy ex-girlfriends in, uh, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Hollywood for one definitely ain’t our biggest fans.

But, what is Borderline Personality Disorder?

The DSM-IV’s criteria of symptoms run as follows (patients must exhibit at least 5 of 9 for diagnosis):

(1) frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

(2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation

(3) identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self

(4) impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sexsubstance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

(5) recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

(6) affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

(7) chronic feelings of emptiness

(8) inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

(9) transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

Feel free to unfollow me/block me/change your I.P. address as you will. I kid. When I got this list of symptoms presented to me following the catalyst of my actual diagnosis (let’s save that for another post), I genuinely thought they were having a laugh.

My (unfortunately former) best friend has BPD. She’s outgoing, quick-witted, and will talk to just about anyone about things she’s passionate about. Her BPD often manifests similarly, which always led me to believe that the disorder was for people of a more extroverted persuasion. I’m shy and guarded, until you put a vodka in me and you’ll only wish I’d shut the fuck up. So, in my head, BPD + me = no chance mate.

However, after looking at each of the criterion in isolation, and then discovering there’s a delightfully insidious sub-type of BPD called ‘quiet BPD’; I started to see the similarities – as much as I didn’t want to.

I want to start a blog series about the struggles (and triumphs!) I’ve faced since my diagnosis – to both break down the stigma and to hopefully help those who may be suffering in silence – so this was just a little confessional to begin with.

If there’s anything you want to know about BPD – on a broad, or more personal level – tweet me @Ebzo and I’ll do a post on it. If you’re a fellow BPD-er, get in touch.

Christmas Lust-List

December 4, 2017

Also known as the things I – as a 24-year-old woman – have shamelessly begged various members of my family for, until they have now stopped replying to my texts.

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Gabrielle by Chanel

They say you should change your scent with each new man you date, which is something I forgot to do with my fella and we nearly murdered the other recently – so I thought I’d give the poor lad a break and invest for superstition’s sake.

After riding the Estée Lauder Modern Muse train all the way from 2015, the natural progression from ‘pretending-I’ve-got-my-shit-together’ to ‘oh-fuck-I-might-actually-have-my-shit-together’ scent came in the guise of Chanel’s latest offering: Gabrielle. Inspired by the leading lady herself, this youthful take on the timeless Chanel family will hopefully let me convey some semblance of togetherness – on the premise that you can only smell me; not see me smearing lipstick all over my chin on the tram.

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EVE Memory Foam Pillow

Given that a good’s night sleep is about as fabled as Father Christmas himself these days, I’ve somehow convinced myself that spending over £50 on one pillow is wholly justifiable. Whether it’s the cat pissing in the corner of the room (I wish I was joking), or waking up early to hairdry my knickers clean (should really put a new washing machine on this list); getting more than 6 hours zzz is a nightly struggle.

At this price, I’m still hoping it’s going to give me a lap dance too.  

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Zoeva Makeup Brush Set

I had one of those day-crushing moments last week, where the world instantly slams to a halt and you have to swallow a scream on the packed bus: I only went and dropped my trusty makeup sponge on public transport. Given I merely have to think about being 15 to sprout a new chin spot, there was no way the ‘5 second rule’ was coming into play here.

What was a girl to do? Stop being a greb who uses artful finger blending teamed with a circa 2012 Mac blusher brush, of course – enter the Zoeva *insert whatever the hell it’s called*.

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Kiehl’s Haul

On the note of dodgy skin, the haunting calls of true womanhood (hi finelines, hello dull complexion) led to me scouring the Kiehl’s website (with a handy 20% off Black Friday code clutched firmly in my Ctrl+C, that is). I’m not going to tell you what I ordered just yet – a) in case it’s shite and I’m a lost cause b) I’ll review it in the New Year. Although I did order that Midnight Recovery stuff and – swear down – if Karlie Kloss herself doesn’t emerge out of my pores, shit is going to hit the fan.

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Oral B 3D White Whitening Strips

Shout out 2 my ex for introducing me to these badboys (lol jk, you’re an absolute weapon). Given my sister and I haven’t a well-functioning maternal bone between us, we have opted to thoughtfully split a pack of these dodgy af imported whitening strips for our respective Christmas presents this year. Any excuse to FaceTime her at 3am with just me teeth out.

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What’re you hoping to find under the Christmas tree? Peace, love and an unlimited Wagamamas card aside, that is… Drop me a comment, you never know: might buy it for ya.

Okay, that’s a lie – but worth a try, no?

 

Review: Netflix Original ‘To The Bone’

August 4, 2017

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Warning: spoilers and potentially triggering content for those suffering with eating disorders.

It’s taken me nearly three weeks to summon the courage to sit down and watch this film. As a former sufferer of Anorexia Nervosa – one of the family of eating disorders that you may recover from, but which never go away – exposure to any material related to restrictive behaviours is usually a surefire trigger. It conjures up memories of sleepless nights binge-watching as many ED documentaries as I could get my hands on in the throes of a relapse, idly stroking my gaping collar bones; proudly exhausted.

However, being fresh out of a relapse around a month ago and in – what I like to think – is a reasonably good place, I thought I’d give it a try. Having read that Lily Collins had suffered from Anorexia Nervosa herself throughout her teens, I marvelled at the strength she must’ve channelled to the lose weight for such a triggering role, without relapsing herself.

The film itself serves to breathe a little life into what is often portrayed and experienced as a pretty lifeless existence, without stirring any prickling sense of glamourisation. It goes beyond the wild-child, untouchable halcyon-days depiction we saw through the likes of Channel 4 Skin’s Cassie Ainsworth; instead opting for a more realistic and well-rounded insight into the characteristically insular lives of those suffering with Anorexia.

Lily’s character – Ellen, or Eli as the film progresses – has been led through a series of in-patient programmes to fruitless ends, leading her step-mother to suggest the unorthodox approach of Dr. Beckham’s (Keanu Reeves) treatment centre. The general gist of the treatment is a reintroduction to the more positive experiences that life has to offer, through a series of sometimes cringe-inducing outings and tasks.

When watching some of the scenes, it can strike as a tad uncomfortably off-the-wall, as we see the world through the eyes of a starving girl’s loose grip on reality. At first, the more hyperreal moments were off-putting and bordered on cheesy, but afterwards I recalled a number of moments during my illness where sheer lack of food would lead to the dissolution of the real world, leading to me wondering whether the kookiness was an intentional art direction or not.

An element of comic relief comes into play with the introduction of the protagonist’s larger than life love interest – a fellow patient on the programme – Luke (Alex Sharp). Luke is a former dancer who suffers from Anorexia and has recently sustained a knee injury, halting his performing whilst subsequently leading to a relapse.

The character lends a well-needed element of humour to the film: from wacky, to naively inappropriate, to refreshingly dark. You root for Luke throughout, hoping he gets the girl, whilst simultaneously tensing up with second-hand embarrassment from his brazen one-liners. Without this character, the film would struggle to lift itself from the drudgery of its central theme.

However, Luke’s character and his eventual influence on Eli’s illness brings up a quietly problematic trope. As the characters become closer and it becomes apparent that there’s a mutual interest, Eli becomes more receptive to getting better. She eats a chocolate bar Luke buys for her and, in the midst of a mental turning point of a fever dream, he is the main spectacle. The film ends with her returning to the in-patient facility and thus, returning to him; implying that she is opening up to help in the light that they will be together.

This strikes as a bit of a ‘damsel in distress’ ending, where the vastly complicated causes behind her illness are cast aside and immediately replaced by this new-found lust for life inspired by a boy. Her family issues are barely resolved and there’s little touching on the guilt Eli harbours after a girl killed herself due to her ED-themed artwork on Tumblr. It would be damaging for an eating disorder sufferer to finish the film with the take-away that all their problems can be fixed by a boy. Perhaps we can hope for a sequel where these are resolved?

This reductionist slant felt almost as demeaning as simply saying “eat” to somebody suffering with an eating disorder. It also begins to feed into the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope, when we consider that the last interaction the pair have before Eli runs away is Luke begging her to stay because – after discovering he can no longer dance – he needs her as she’s all he has left. Bit intense after 4 weeks of dating if you ask me, mate.

On the whole, the film was a carefully-crafted representation of a very difficult illness to portray, without dulling itself at the edges for the sake of playing it safe. Presenting well-rounded characters and a consistent lilt of humour throughout, it’s well worth a watch for anyone who would like to understand more about this ruthless mental illness. 7.75/10 (’cause Keanu Reeves was shite).

If you found yourself affected by anything explored within the film, Beat was a great source of insight and help when I was in the darker days of my eating disorder. 

 

The Pessimistic Northerner’s Guide to La La Land

January 20, 2017

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Betraying my usual disdain for anything that falls under the category of ‘musical’, I went to see the critically-acclaimed Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling bonanza that is ‘La La Land’ this evening. Lauded as ‘the most romantic film of the year’, which – let’s face it – isn’t all that difficult considering we’re only twenty days in, the film follows the entanglement of two dreamers living in Hollywood, Mia and Seb.

To give credit where it is due, the film shed its predictable love-story plotline and finished with an altogether inspiring message – for those of us who are hellbent on pursuing our creative endeavours/are as unlucky in love as  Bridget Jones circa 2001 (I, alas, fit snugly into both categories).

Here are the most pressing matters of the film as perceived by a self-professed Northern pessimist (SPOILERS AHEAD):

As cinematographic musicals tend to, ‘La La Land’ throws us in at the deep end by commencing with a traffic jam that results in an all-singing, all-dancing flashmob-y number. A girl does a high kick and flashes her underwear, which is perfectly matched to the shade of her dress. This would not happen on the M6.

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Mia is dragged out to a party by her fellow actress-hopeful housemates, in a bid to arse-lick their way into new casting opportunities. This scene presents a whole host of burning questions. Namely, who the fuck goes out in a flock of colour-blocked dresses and why is nobody shit-faced and why is Mia drinking Lilt at a party? Also why does the party end before a restaurant closes downtown? Unrealistic plot, or bunch of squares?

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I fly my quirky-girl-loving flag high for her but, let’s be real: Emma Stone cannot sing for toffee. And given the consistent musical motif throughout the film, surely you could’ve at least made all the lines rhyme, guys? Bring back that 10/10 Easy A miming scene, ta.

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Will Ryan Gosling convey more than one facial expression this movie? And am I the only female alive who thinks he’s nothing to write home about?

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Three words: Griffith Observatory scene. It can only be hoped that Seb slipped something in their popcorn to induce that pure cringe floaty ceiling-dancing. Nearly vommed up my beer.

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After the onslaught of DIY BDSM following the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, are we going to now see an influx of tap dancing in the street? Will starstruck lovers now start foxtrotting into Greggs after too many pints on a Sunday afternoon?

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Tune in next time when another unsuspecting male lures me away from my pit of solitude to the cinema. xo

Hyperreality and Hashtags: How to navigate Instagram without a body-image crisis

August 9, 2016

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As a platform, Instagram is great. It allows you to catch a glimpse into the worlds’ of your friends, family and those who inspire you across the globe – usually whilst you’re dossing in bed with your phone held precariously above your face, wearing last night’s makeup. Doubly, it allows you to share your own experiences (*cough* selfies *cough*) and manipulate them in a fashion that – 99/100 times – conveys your lifestyle as ‘more’ than its reality.

However, with this opportunity to curate online presences that convey an hyperreal, ‘rose-tinted’ approach to an already media-saturated society, comes an inevitable spike in low self-esteem and body-image issues. With magazines and adverts already bombarding young people with airbrushed images of unattainable perfection, the onslaught of unfathomably beautiful, often very thin girls on Instagram’s Explore function can often be too much to bear.

As someone who has struggled with body-image issues for over a decade, the Explore function had – until recently – been banished to 4am comparison sessions of blood-thirsty self-loathing, which would leave me utterly dysmorphic and disgusted with my own appearance within a matter of minutes. Friends and I would sickly revel in comparing ourselves to girls half a decade younger than ourselves, cursing them for their boyishly skinny figures, berating ourselves for not being as “thin”/”pretty”/”good at makeup” until we’d be sulking into our respective pints.

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But then, finally emerging from some self-professed chrysalis of ‘I-no-longer-give-a-fuck’, I gradually started to realise: it’s all a bunch of bullshit. People are beautiful – yes. Occasionally I will see someone in real life, have a pang of jealousy at their appearance and it will mar my confidence for a fleeting moment. However, I came to realise the frequency at which that happens in reality, is drastically less than the inescapable barrage of ‘beauty’ we encounter whilst perusing our friend the Explore function.

And why is this?

This is because Instagram isn’t real. Just looking into my own profile, I know that I spend a pathetic amount of time manipulating each post. Firstly, there’ll be the act of actually taking the ‘selfie’ (which, as we all know, is initially more like 236 selfies per ‘selfie’), which will subsequently take a good few minutes of narrowing down to about 10-15 shortlisted shots. Let’s not forget that these initial eleventy-million shots will have been taken in a number of different rooms for different lighting, and at a plethora of different angles until my back hurts from subtly jutting my collarbones out. Also, you can bet your sweet life that I don’t take any pictures of my face from head on. All about that tilt, grrrl.

Then, it’s onto my basest of loves, VSCOCAM, for some hxc editing, which is repeated for each of said 10-15 images until I find a couple I can actually get down with. One of Instagram’s built-in filters is applied to about halfway across then I’m good to go.

But, #plotspoiler: I DON’T LOOK LIKE THIS IN REAL LIFE. My skin isn’t that clear (I’ll sometimes put an amount of concealer over a spot solely for the sake of the picture, that would look ridiculous face-to-face), my face most definitely isn’t that thin and to be honest, my body isn’t THAT banging (tho’, it’s pretty damn bangin’).

This is just me. Some random fashion-loving writer girl from Instagram who spends a little time working on her pictures. I’m not a fashion blogger, or a celebrity, or an Insta-famous lady who relies on the creation of perfection in her (actual) work, so let’s just imagine the fine-tuning that goes into their snaps.

I’ve met many of the people I follow, and many fashion bloggers who I’ve first encountered on social media, through my old job in fashion – and, whilst they may all be beautiful in their own ways; they seldom make me want to wear a paper bag over my head or starve for a week, like the absolute falsehood projections of Instagram are almost always guaranteed to do. It’s just not real.

I’m a 23-year-old woman who likes to think she’s pretty in-tune with herself these days, despite my struggles with eating disorders and BDD, but imagine the internalised ideas of what ‘beauty’ has become to younger generations growing up on Instagram now…

Just please: when you find yourself in that 4am Instagram comparison pit of doom – stop. It’s not real, and until the day when we’ve all been fitted with futuristic virtual contact lenses, nobody is the walking embodiment of ‘Valencia’ in the flesh. You’re a babe, I’m a babe: we’re all babes.

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Posted by Ebony in Life

4 Ways In Which The NHS Mental Health Service Is Making Us Sicker

April 28, 2016

An uncomfortable cocktail of depression and anxiety has been dubbed the most common mental disorder in the UK at present, the International Business Times reported during Depression Awareness Week (18th-24th April). With around a quarter of the population set to find themselves in the throes of some mental disorder guise in the coming year, the UK’s collective mental health is deteriorating – and quickly. This would be disconcerting enough, had Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt not decided to all but obliterate the mental health budget, slashing a £1.5 million chunk in Manchester recently alone, to make up for a 7m budget shortfall.

Having suffered with a veritable smorgasbord of mental health issues since my early teens, I’ve experienced firsthand the gradual, crushing damage that has been done to the NHS mental health system over the past decade. As someone looking once again for assistance to get myself back on my feet, finding a wall built with more reinforcement than that of my depression itself; it’s become apparent that the their shortcomings are not only failing us by ignoring the issue: they’re worsening it.

So today I thought I’d pull some absolute corkers from my own little collection of frankly terrifying anecdotes, to basically remind you that we’re all absolutely screwed and thanks a fucking tonne for voting the Tories in:

  • Of all the people I know – friends/colleagues past and present/family/Internet folk – I haven’t met a single person who has gone to the GP with a mental health issue and left without being essentially told to ride it out for a couple of weeks and slung a prescription for anti-depressants/anxieties. And this is including people who have attempted suicide or overdosed – of which I know somebody who is STILL waiting for an appointment for psychotherapy MONTHS after the incident…

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  • The fact that GPs are now more hesitant to prescribe antibiotics than they are anti-depressants/anxieties is alarming. That’s before taking into consideration the fact that these mini mind-fucks may sound to a suffering person like a miracle quick fix, but that isn’t always the case. In my third year of university I finally succumbed to the lure of medication after seeing no way out and, upon taking them, found myself 3598347598745% more unwell than before due to an influx of panic attacks and hallucinations…

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  • I once got told “Next time you feel like doing this, just go out with your girlfriends and have a glass of wine!” by a nurse in A&E after self-harming so badly I couldn’t walk properly for a week afterwards. The amount of horror stories flitting around surrounding ineptitude when dealing with those in vulnerable positions is genuinely frightening – especially for those suffering from eating disorders, often sent away from GPs for not being ‘thin enough’ for treatment…

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  • Waiting lists. These were the inspiration behind this post and I could write an entirely separate one solely on this bulletpoint. After finally admitting that I needed a therapist again after 3 years of insisting I was a-ok (funny joke), I recently got myself referred by a GP for a new round of counselling/CBT sessions. After inevitably being thrown a prescription for medication (deftly binned), they told me to contact a service for a telephone triage – which I did. It then transpired, after a very personal and uncomfortable 30 minute interview, that I needed a different service and would need to SELF-refer, despite being initially referred by a GP. I’m now waiting for a self-referral form and have to send that back for consideration before even being placed on the 6 week+ waiting list. This is now commonplace…

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  • The worst part is: it isn’t even their fault. With only 5.5% of the country’s health research budget going into mental health, we’re being set up to fail on a longterm basis. Not to mention a 10.8% decrease in practicing psychiatric nurses across Britain in 2015 alone. Nice one, C-… Hunt.

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If you’ve found yourself in any situation akin to the above, please drop me a comment or tweet me @Ebzo – there needs to be more dialogue about this and less apathy (says the depressive).


Ebony. 25. Manchester.
Marketing Manager who likes to mouth off on here about stuff she cares about. Expect mental health, Borderline Personality Disorder, and reviews - from restaurants, to books, to fashion. Talks to cats more than people, but seemingly has a lot to say.
ebonylaurenn@gmail.com