Life posts

How To Not Cry When You’re Sober On Bank Holiday Weekend

April 20, 2019

Today I’m 25 days sober. Today I tackled the Great British Beer Garden without drinking alcohol, on a Bank Holiday, for the first time in my adult life. Not going to lie: it was fucking shite. But I did it. And, given I’m usually nursing a surgically-attached straw of gin & tonic down my throat at this hour of a Bank Holiday Saturday; not writing blog posts, I suppose that’s pretty good going.

If you too are afflicted with the ‘alcohol basically ruins my life’ disorder, this post is written in both solidarity and the hopes of helping inspire others to take the sober route, if they think it’s something they ought to do.

But how, you ask? How in the sweet mother of Christ does one avoid the sweet nectar of beer when the sun is shining out of its proverbial arse and I swear to god the birds are tweeting “go ‘ed mate, get that vino down you”?

I don’t have all the answers – believe me, I’ve just sat with a face like a slapped arse in aforementioned beer terrace (see above) and had a slightly teary meltdown upon returning home – but these are the things that have helped me stay on the straight and narrow. And they’ll hopefully be of some help to you too.

Avoid Places Where People Are Solely Drinking

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Putting this one in here mainly as a reminder to myself… Most of the time since going sober, I’ve managed to avoid pubs, bars and clubs like the plague but, when the sun comes out, so must the guns and the inevitable beer garden visits.

If you have to go to somewhere where a) the bulk of the clientele will be drinking b) people you’re going with will be drinking, my best advice is to make sure they do some guise of non-alcoholic cocktail, beer or spritzer, to stop you feeling like a complete alien.

Luckily, the lovely people at YES in Manchester do bespoke virgin cocktails, so I had the pictured lemon, lime and grapefruit concoction whilst my partner had a normal one (he usually doesn’t drink around me – major kudos – but I’m not a complete dragon).

Remember WHY You’re Doing This

After having a little moment of feeling sorry for myself on the sofa when we got home, I started reflecting on why I enlisted myself on this wholesome (pain in the arse) journey in the first place. It’s nearly 8pm now – I’d wager that Past Ebony would be just about to fall into the ‘oh god, it’s hometime bitch’ category of drunk at this point – inevitably becoming a nightmare and/or blacking out/causing a huge argument/wasting all her money/causing general havoc.

Past Ebony was sad, a lot. Today I feel pretty sad – I’m not going to lie – it does feel like I’m mourning a part of myself. Because the initially drunk stages of Ebony are fun; I like her. But I don’t know how to just be her and then kick the cup, so to speak.

Think Outside The Box

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This has been my favourite element of going sober, by far. My life used to be coloured pretty much exclusively by alcohol – sitting in bars, sitting on the sofa, throwing terrible shapes in clubs – just booze, booze and let’s be honest: boring booze.

Since going sober, I’ve tried: golfing at a driving range (big fan, v good for a mardy mood), joining a book club (with girls who drink at the meet-ups, but I have mocktails), a poetry workshop at HOMEmcr, an afternoon at the fair then dicking about the park with a frisbee, and some incredibly amateur modelling. Tomorrow, we’re going outdoor swimming, Monday we’re going for a walk with alpacas.

What I’m saying is – don’t focus on what you can’t do – make your life so interesting that you only focus on what you can do. And hey, you’ll have way better anecdotes than hazy recollections of being a wasteman (I’ve already got a lifetime of these).

Work Out How Much You’re Saving

If you’re anything like me, you spent a hefty wedge when you were drinking. Not just the purchase of alcohol itself, but the whole ritual of it: the drinks, the cigarettes, the taxis, the hangover takeaways – that shit adds up. The last time I had a Big Night of Drinking, I spent around £70 – which is basically a very nice dress and this upsets me quite a lot.

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Happy Bank Holiday, guys – here’s to waking up each day not feeling like we’ve been hit by a train, or wondering what the bejeezus we did the night before…

If you’re also sober, or looking to cut out the bevs, feel free to follow my journey and drop me a line on Twitter @Ebzo.

OUTFIT
Dress – H&M
Belt – ASOS
Bag – Kiomi (ordered from Zalando)
Sunglasses – Sue Ryder
Necklace – Barnardos

BPD A-Z: DISSOCIATION

March 20, 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.

Can I start this post by clearing up that neither dissociation (nor its dastardly cousins derealisation and depersonalisation) are exclusive to Borderline Personality Disorder. Dissociation is actually commonly attributed to Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which I was diagnosed with at the time I first started experiencing it; long before BPD was mentioned to me. But as misery likes company: BPD loves a co-morbidity.

Dissociation could be likened – baring in mind that I have never actually ‘dropped acid’ personally – to daydreaming on acid (or really strong tranquillisers). It essentially refers to the experience of zoning out; which can be as ‘harmless’ as just completely losing track of conversations and feeling like an ignorant arsehole accidentally, to extremes of blacking out for periods of hours to days at a time. During this time, you’ll have no recollection of what you’ve done, which is terrifying (believe me!).

My first experiences with dissociation and – in turn – derealisation, mark one of the earliest occurrences that made me realise I wanted to be vocal about my mental health and to hopefully help others someday.

When I was around 17, my anxiety started mutating into scary guises that I’d formerly never dealt with. Depression and anorexia had been my main bag – the latter of which I was in recovery for and undoubtedly exposed to heightened anxiety as a result of which. Depression I could reconcile with; it was familiar and comfortable in its gloominess, but this new-found anxiety really knocked me for six.

I started feeling very detached from everything around me, looking too far inwardly until the warped rhetoric that my brain was spewing became louder than my rational mind. Holding conversations became incredibly difficult as they brought with them a bizarre new feeling that something just wasn’t right; something more intense than general social anxiety.

Reality felt floaty and unlinear, with sunny days in particular making me feel ‘unreal’, or like I was in a dream.

This kept seeping into more and more of my thoughts, until the only times I didn’t feel ‘unreal’ were when I was distracted by sex, drinking, or watching ASMR relaxation videos (my partner at the time didn’t complain, unsurprisingly).

One day, I hit something of a breaking point after being in the kitchen with my ex-partner and my mum whilst they were having a conversation. I watched their mouths move and could almost tell what they were saying, but I felt lightyears away from the room and I just couldn’t understand them. It felt like I was on another planet, trapped in the terrifying recesses of my brain, no longer properly present.

At that point, I was convinced I’d gone insane and that my brain was irreparably broken, so decided I had no choice but to kill myself. Thankfully, my active suicidality only kicked in 7 years later, but I sat on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out in secret, desperately looking for answers on my phone.

I tried to research it without scaring myself further; paralysed with fear at the prospect of telling someone lest they locked me up.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you exactly which video it was today, but I happened upon a YouTube clip where someone was describing their experiences with anxiety and how sometimes – in bad periods – they sometimes feel ‘unreal’, or disconnected. I cried my eyes out with relief.

I wasn’t broken. I didn’t have to die – I was just severely anxious and experiencing what I then discovered was dissociation and derealisation.

And guess what? From that realisation, the severity and frequency at which I experienced those symptoms waned significantly. So, for goodness sakes guys: let’s keep sharing our stories, no matter how uncomfortable or scary (and oftentimes, even embarrassing) it can be. That YouTuber may have saved my life.

BPD A-Z: CAUSES

March 18, 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.

By this post, you’re probably all too aware that BPD is a raging little shit with little rhyme nor reason, but you may be wondering: where the hell does it come from? Is it a genetic disorder; a chemical imbalance? Is it environmentally fuelled? Are we just oversensitive aliens, unequipped for the trials and tribulations of everyday life?

As tends to be the case with all things Borderline Personality Disorder related, this is technically still unclear, due to current lack of research and the many guises that the illness takes.

One of the most prevalent cited causes for BPD are the abandonment issues we discussed in the first part of this blog series. Whether real or perceived, feelings of neglect and invalidation in formative childhood years correlate with a diagnosis later in life. This is dubbed as ‘childhood trauma’ in most writings, but doesn’t have to have been as drastic as such wording suggests.

Another recurring trait in those with BPD is perfectionism. As to whether this is the result of the ‘fear of abandonment’ – forming an obsession with getting everything right – has yet to be proven.

Personally, I relate very much to the above – I’d describe myself as a ‘faulty perfectionist/fraught overachiever’ (or ‘tortured genius’ if I’m pissed and think I’m being funny…). School was always a way I could prove my worth – something that arguably isn’t at the forefront of your average 10-year-old’s mind, but in the aftermath of my parents’ messy divorce, it was a means of control which was mine alone. The question is, which came first: the perfectionism or the predisposition for developing BPD?

In recent years, studies have begun to reveal an array of potential causes that relate to our grey matter. There have actually been findings that have shown certain parts of the brain within afflicted individuals are oftentimes either a different size, or operate at a different rate to those of ‘neurotypical’ subjects.

A tendency of the illness to be passed down has started emerging, with many sufferers finding a familial link; often a parent who exhibits many of the key traits who may not have been officially diagnosed. Whether that is an environmental effect or purely hereditary has also yet to be found.

Upon receiving a diagnosis of BPD, it’s important to reflect upon – ideally through the guidance of therapy – what may have been the cause of its emergence. Once you feel like you have adequately identified this, the next step has to be to learn how to move on from it – something DBT founder Marsha Linehan calls ‘radical acceptance’.

Many of us BPD-ers are highly nostalgic folk, whether for good memories or bad; with a definite tendency to ‘live in the past’ if left untreated. This can manifest in myriad ways; from returning to toxic relationships as they remind you of the inconsistent push/pull of affection in your youth, to living a life poisonously embittered by something someone afflicted upon you in your past.

Of course, this is all entirely relative and I’m not sitting here saying “forgive your abuser and crack on, mate”, I’m saying that all you can do is move forward and stop the past from eating you alive for any longer. You deserve to live – not to exist – but to live and to thrive.

If you relate to the above and would like to discuss/learn more, you can find me harping on about mental health (not exclusively BPD) on Twitter @Ebzo.

BPD A-Z: BREAKUPS

March 14, 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.

It’s pretty much a given that nobody exactly enjoys a breakup – your heart feels like it’s just fallen out of your arse and life becomes a walking Dido song with no pause button. When you experience a breakup whilst suffering with BPD, however, said heart feels like someone carved it out, ate it for dinner then returned its rotting remains to your chest cavity for a laugh. And that Dido soundtrack turns into Damien Rice wailing along to the tune of your own funeral march.

Does this sound over-the-top? Bloody good, because – unfortunately – that’s essentially the crux of what living with Borderline Personality Disorder is all about.

Rule #1 in the mind of any (dys)functioning BPD sufferer is always: thou shalt never be alone (or thou shalt surely die). We’ll hold onto our codependent sinking ship until the other person inevitably says “sod this” and does a runner with the last remaining life jacket. Then we’re untethered, and life becomes an empty room where the lights have been switched off – where only the person who left you in there holds the fuse to put them back on.

So we pine, beg and – sometimes in desperation – threaten; anything to avoid drowning alone in this dark room (this metaphor is starting to get a tad messy). This is where we so often get painted with the moniker of “manipulative”, as we can go to debasing or often downright dangerous lengths to make the person stay.

Some corkers of my own include sitting in my ex’s porch for no less than eight hours in the winter, waiting for him to get home so we could talk (in my defence, I was 15 and fuelled by the lunacy of teenage hormones and self-starvation); to sending another ex a nude a day when I was 20 for months after we broke up as he moved abroad, in any vain bid for validation.

You will very, very seldom find an untreated Borderline sufferer instigating the end of a relationship, unless one significant caveat is involved: someone else. This isn’t a given for all with the diagnosis – by any means – but something I’ve personally struggled with throughout my fruitless career as a repeatedly unsuccessful long-term girlfriend.

Spurned by this overwhelming fear of being ‘alone’, I’ve been known to make sure I’ve always got someone to fall back on and never had the guts to leave a relationship cold turkey – even if it was abusive – without a safety net in place.

Right now, I’m as single and ‘in control’ of it as I’ve been in as long as I can remember, after spending a year falling between relationships with two guys who ultimately ended up being toxic to my BPD nature. The jury’s out as to whether they’re toxic full-stop, but only time will tell for them.

I’d like to say I’ve ‘Single Ladies’d myself through the entire break-up period, but it actually culminated in my darkest hours to date. Thankfully, after almost three months of self-imposed purgatory (and one hell of a lot of ignored emails to my ex), I’m beginning to light tiny candles towards a future that I’m creating for myself, by myself.

This has mainly been achieved by a) no contact (I can feel the visceral shudder of fellow BPD-ers tremor through as they read this), b) living life as simply and as ‘on auto-pilot’ as possible and, c) temporarily eschewing my other toxic lover: alcohol.

By forcing myself to live as though I’m caring for a friend and not in fact myself, there’s been little time for pining and wallowing. Podcasts, home-cooked meals and ultimately, routine far-removed from that experienced with the ex-partner – these are your new best friends.

It’s early days for me to say I’ll never fall into the “oh god, I’m so alone – love me – love me – love me” headspace again – which, let’s face it: I undoubtedly will. However, the aim is that this time it will be someone entirely new, who won’t take advantage of my unwavering adulation and appoint himself the ‘privilege’ of treating me like an emotional punching bag. It’ll be someone who will have to prove that they actually offer something to the life I’m nurturing for myself, as I won’t be settling out of any dogged avoidance of being alone this time.

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.

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


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