Language is powerful, right? This is one of the few things humans seem to universally agree upon. It’s why politicians hire great speechwriters, why a book can move you to tears, and why verbal arguments can swiftly escalate into physical fights. Language is not only how we influence, it’s how we make sense of and interact with the world around us. It’s our labelling mechanism: making known to ourselves and others what is safe and unsafe, our likes and dislikes... The desire to communicate is a natural instinct , and something we learn to do as soon as we’ve mastered sitting and holding our own heads up as babies. However, these labels come with a ton of connotations, and not all of them are helpful or accurate.
On the 24th September HMIY's own Jenny Howard, her mum Angela, sister Katie and friend Jade are going to be running a half marathon to raise money for us at Hello Me, it's You! You may have read Angela's post previously on our blog, now it's Jenny's turn to give a bit of insight into her 'training process' ....
Things I really like: lie-ins, early bedtimes, sunbathing, curling up with a book.
(are you sensing a theme?)
Things I don’t really like: getting really out of breath and sweaty, repetitive movements, being bad at something.
A person might take up running for many different reasons; for greater fitness levels, as a hobby, for improved physical and/or mental health, or maybe, because they want to slowly torture themselves. Sometimes (most of the time) it feels like the latter for me.
It’s been a few months since I received a text from my mum asking if I fancied running the Winchester half-marathon in September, to which I optimistically replied something along the lines of ‘yeah go on then!’ with a running person emoji. In the meantime we managed to recruit my sister Katie and my friend Jade for the team and the four of us will be running 13.1 miles on the 24th September in order to raise money for the charity closest to my heart, Hello Me, It’s You.
I want to say the past few months have been an incredible journey of awe-inspiring, self-discovery and the unleashing of a great love and passion for running, but unfortunately this hasn’t been the case for me. It’s difficult, it’s sweaty, it’s hot and in all honesty it’s pretty boring.
You’ve probably heard it before; whether from a friend, relative, doctor, counsellor, the internet and anywhere else you get your information, that 'being more active' can be hugely beneficial for your mental health. Something about endorphins and stuff. You'll hear amazing stories about how running and jogging changed one individuals life drastically for the better, that the euphoria and satisfaction they got from running doesn't come close to anything else they've tried. These also tend to be the people who say 'you just have to stick with it, you’ll start to love it eventually!’. It wasn’t that I was in complete doubt that I’m totally incapable of finding running tolerable, it’s just that I wasn’t convinced that I particularly want to get to that point.
In summary, and in no particular order, the main reasons that I don't like running are;
1. My face goes incredibly red when I run, apart from my upper lip which stays bright white. It's not a look I enjoy.
2. In the past, my personal struggle with depression and anxiety has often prevented me from leaving the house. During some of my worst periods, that thankfully no longer occur with such force and to such an extent, I just couldn't leave the house. The idea of going out and anyone seeing my sweaty body, red face and white moustache was more than I could bear. Whilst this isn’t a completely debilitating restriction for me anymore, it is still on my mind.
3. I come up with a playlist for a run, and end up hating some of my favourite songs.
4. I’m not very good at it, and I hate not being good at things instantly. Which I understand is childish and irrational, but nevertheless it puts me off.
5. it's stressful. whilst i understand how running could be seen as relaxing, i don’t enjoy feeling pressured to go running even when I just simply don’t want to. there’s also the stress on your knees, on your routine, on your joints and in all honesty, on your bowels.
6. It's boring. It’s repetitive. There's only so many places in proximity to your home that are suitable for running, once I’ve done a certain route, I don’t want to do it again the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day….
7. It just hurts. whether it’s breathing cold air, a dodgy ankle, hay fever, chafing, a stitch, gas, black toenails or joint pain, I can guarantee that I will always experience at least one of these physical discomforts every time I go for a run. Yes it will often be very minor pain but that won’t stop me from complaining about it.
You're probably now thinking 'jeeez, cheer up', why are you you even doing it if you hate it so much?
Well mainly because I was asked to, by a 52 year old, and felt that I couldn't say no. I am in a position of privilege in that I can run; I don't have a physical disability or condition that means I cannot run, I am a young, relatively fit person who, if she set her mind to it and trained enough, could run 13 and a bit miles. But also, despite all my moaning, I have enjoyed the sense of achievement I’ve got from hitting a few goals; getting out of bed, running a mile, running up hill, running more than once in a week. I’m still not sure running is the sport for me but I could be wrong, with under two weeks to go there is still the potential of catching the famous ‘bug’. I’ve massively improved thanks to my albeit minimal training over the past few months and I am determined to complete the entire course.
But definitely most importantly- It's for a charity that is very important to me and that deserves all the funding and support in the world to try and help more and more young people with their struggles with mental health. The money raised will go towards being able to send schools and libraries free copies of the HMIY book, holding events and workshops to raise awareness of mental health issues in young people, the creation of a second book in the future which will include more letters and advice for young people suffering (submissions opening soon, watch this space…!)
So if you could, we would be incredibly grateful if you could part with a few of your pennies to sponsor us. Frankly I need the motivation, and it would help a great cause a considerable amount.
Stay active! (Or don’t) x
Jenny is 22 and recently graduated from the University of Leeds where she studied Graphic Communication & Design. She has been involved with Hello Me, It’s You from the start when Hannah asked her to help brand and design the book and charity and is loving working with her best friend on something so important and inspiring to many! She hates running but loves proving herself wrong, please sponsor her for the Winchester Half Marathon!
It’s summer! That beautiful time of year when the grass is fluorescent green, and the sun is bright and beaming! It’s the time of year we can let our hair down, and flock overseas for some well-deserved, luxurious relaxation , after working and studying so hard all year long.
But, for some of us, travelling overseas can be a nightmarish, difficult task. Travelling with a mental disorder or complicated mental health can be exhausting; for some it can seem almost impossible to achieve. However, I have compiled a list of things to (hopefully) make your journeys that little bit easier this year. Good luck with your travels, and be blessed with the discovery of new, exciting places!
(Also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder)
Every month, the team at HMIY pick a new disorder to feature in this column. The hope is to raise awareness; unite those affected; and to learn more about mental health. This month, Grace, (HMIY Blog Editor), writes about her diagnosis, Borderline Personality Disorder.
When Susanna Kaysen, in Girl, Interrupted, first heard the words “Borderline Personality Disorder”, her initial response was one of questioning: “borderline between what and what?” In the seconds it me took to register this diagnosis, I formulated my own answer to Susanna’s question. Borderline remediable, and irreversibly broken. Borderline sick and yet, somehow, still not quite sick enough. Borderline permissible, and warranting vilification.
(It's actually 11... but 10 sounds better)
*Disclaimer* This article features mental health related videos. Due to the nature of mental illness, we advise viewer discretion for anyone sensitive to topics such as suicide, self-harm, and/or abuse. Several videos have been issued with topic-specific trigger warnings, but caution is advised for all.
1) KIERA ROSE | Dermatillomania, Anxiety & Depression.
This video discusses Dermatillomania; an impulse-control disorder, in which the skin is repetitively picked, often resulting in wounds. For this reason, we advise viewer discretion, and issue a severe trigger warning to anyone sensitive to topics such as self-harm.
When she’s not serving cosy, bohemian visuals, (or giving us serious tattoo envy), Kiera Rose provides an honest and informative insight into her life with Dermatillomania. Not to be confused with Trichotillomania, Kiera knows all too well the stigma and ignorance impulse-control disorders are often met with. Sharing her experiences through chit-chats; get-ready-with-mes; and story-times, she offers her advice and support to 200,000+ subscribers. Kiera, like us, loves a good cosplay, and scores extra points with Grace and Jenny for all the vegan taste-tests!
Editor’s note: A few months ago, the amazing Jenny (the HMIY brand manager, an incredible best friend and all-round design superstar) messaged me saying that she and her family had planned to do some fundraising for the charity. Not just any fundraising though, they wanted to run a half marathon. As a self-proclaimed couch potato this sounded absolutely terrifying, but they weren’t to be budged! On the 24th of September Jenny, Becca, Katie, Angela and Jade will all be running to raise money for Hello Me, it’s You. I’m blown away by the idea and their commitment and so so thankful. Anything you can do to donate would be a fab motivation for the runners, and an incredible help to the charity. If you’d like to read more or donate, take a look here.
As they go through the training process, we’ll have regular updates from the runners themselves, starting with the amazing Angela…
"I’m going to run a half marathon" I declared.
"That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard you say" came back the response.
"Really? It’s not until four and a half weeks time.”
“You’re 51 years old; you cannot train for a half marathon in four and a half weeks.”
So I left it there and forgot all about it.
Then one day we were walking the dogs when we found ourselves walking the wrong way of the last mile of the half marathon course and making our way past arrow signs, strewn water bottles and a number of bored looking marshals. And the most inspirational thing happened for me, the bored looking marshals became animated and excited spotting a weary straggler half walking, half running but still going and still determined. The sound of happy encouragement, cheering and clapping, it’s addictive, we couldn’t help but join in. That walk along the last mile of the half marathon is what decided me that I would definitely be running this race next year. Those stragglers pushing to the finish after twelve long miles clarified that I would be more than happy to join them in their perseverance and persistence and craziness.
Growing up, I didn't have many relationships. I was always “too nice” and, although I had an interest in sex, I never had the confidence to initiate anything. When I was seventeen, I found myself in a very intense relationship.
This relationship lasted for five years and, by the end, we had a mortgage and a house. However, three months after buying the house, she decided to cut ties and move on. I moved in with my parents, whilst she stayed in the house. At first, it was heart-breaking; I couldn't see a future without her. After a while, I began to heal, and realised that she wasn't right for me in the first place. I started to see that things weren’t all that great: there were big cracks, and I was with her for the wrong reasons. I had forgotten about me.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The post that follows needs to be prefaced with a severe trigger warning. The post is from the point of view of a young person who has experienced suicidal thoughts. Due to the nature of mental health issues and suicidal thoughts themselves, it gives a romanticised view of suicide itself. This blog post has been written honestly from the point of view of the sufferer and shows that while the contributor is aware of the actuality of suicide, the thought process itself can lure sufferers into thinking this way.
It is a topic that is often shied away from, as death is a concept that makes many uncomfortable. I would describe it as one of the major taboos surrounding mental health issues. However, according to the Samaritans, in England and the UK, female suicide rates are at their highest in a decade. It is also a much documented phenomenon among young men, with the Samaritans reporting that male rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the UK and Republic of Ireland – most notably 5 times higher in Republic of Ireland and around 3 times in the UK. For this reason, we think it important to share this post in order to increase awareness of the thought process and experiences of those with suicidal thoughts. Please do read with caution, and if you are suffering yourself or have suffered in the past from thoughts such as this, we advise you skip this post.
The 24hr hotline for The Samaritans is: • 116 123 (UK) • 116 123 (ROI)
Fun Fact: According to the NHS, the top 3 causes of memory loss are depression, anxiety and stress. How do I know this? Because earlier this week I found myself googling whether or not you could get early onset dementia at 22 or whether my brain could just be turning to mush in my head. It turns out that instead? I just tick those top 3 boxes for memory loss.
This is just one of many odd side effects that I’ve found are linked to my mental health problems. In fact, the reason I was originally diagnosed with depression is because I could not stay awake. Not in a 'growing teen who parties all night' kinda way either, but a 'I could sleep for 18 hours straight and still be tired' kinda way. I went to the doctors 3 times with the problem before we twigged that paired with a loss of appetite, a prolonged state of feeling emotionally numb and generally struggling to cope with the all the highs and lows that come with uni, it was looking like depression.
Hello sixteen-year-old me again, it’s you six years on at twenty-two years of age and two years since I wrote to you for the first HMIY book. A lot has changed since then! But a lot has also stayed the same.
Hello Me, it's You
Welcome to the brand new shiny Hello Me, it’s You blog! We are launching this blog with weekly content from different contributors, giving their opinions and experiences on all things Mental Health.