Try to comprehend that which you’ll never comprehend…

In the midst of a wonderful weekend at the Edinburgh Fringe I had two really inspiring experiences. Both of which fuelled in me a desire to share some writing that hasn’t seen the light in quite some time. On Sunday I saw Neil Holborn perform his stunning poetry. He is very open about his struggles with mental illness & includes his own experiences in much of his work. The power of his honesty & the emotional response he received to some of his pieces really struck me. He reminded me of the power of sharing the dark reality of mental illness. Later that day I was introduced to a friend of my boyfriend who also talked openly about his past mental health struggles. This led to a discussion of how helpful it is to talk about these issues; how more often than not other people will then share their own experiences of mental illness. We talked a little about how that realisation that mental illness is actually really common relieved so much shame. It reminded me how important it is to talk frankly about my experiences, so that those in the depths of illness can see that they are not alone. Equally important is to reach those who have never been touched by mental health problems. Letting people see that this can happen to anyone, that the pain is intense, debilitating & uncontrollable lifts stigma. I really believe that the way to fight ignorance is information. Not just statistics, but brutal insights into conditions often misunderstood. It is so much harder to dismiss mental illness when you have been confronted with it’s reality. 

With this in mind I decided to review work I produced in my darker days. For those unaware I have battled with PTSD, depression & self harm for most of my adult life. Although my mental health is much improved from the time of this piece, it remains a daily struggle. One is never cured. The best I can do is learn to live with what I cannot change & fight for what makes my life beautiful. I am profoundly grateful to no longer be actively self harming. I am also aware that urges still exist. It takes work to maintain my current life. I make a daily decision to keep fighting & I am far from alone. 

I know these words may be disturbing to some, but I ask you to read them anyway. I share this because I passionately believe that a deeper understanding defeats stigma & grows compassion. 

i had another little crisis

despite a transfusion in late december,

my haemoglobin had again dropped to 6.6

causing doctor’s to get jumpy

&

prompting talk of another transfusion.

this fuelled  a panic in me

i do not like having blood transfusions

i feel incredible guilt.

other people are more deserving of this blood

someone selflessly gave of themselves.

i will waste it

i know it will feel horrendous inside me

i do not want it.

i don’t really have the option of

saying

no

they will call in a psych consult

which could lead down a road

i can’t

even

think about

my first stupid reaction

is

i must cut

whilst the dr’s decide

i will blood let

i know it doesn’t make sense

to most

but

there is method in the madness

my hb is already low

i may as well be hung for sheep as a lamb

i will hate myself less for shedding my own blood

if i lose enough blood

do enough damage

i may feel sated for a while

with this in mind i set to work

after two disappointing nights

of

slicing

&

producing inadequate wounds

i got angry.

on the third day,

the gp called to say they had decided to go with an iron infusion the following week.

i considered myself free

to

paint the town RED

i felt it couldn’t be that bad

if i didn’t need a transfusion

i had still better fit in as much damage

before treatment

&

truthfully

after two pitiful nights

i needed it

so,

feeling enraged with myself

i set to work

i chose a spot on my slightly less scarred right forearm

i cut vertically

downwards

towards my wrist

everytime i reached a depth i could live with

i elongated the cut

&

started to work down into it again

i got into the most dangerous mindset

where

i just can’t resist

a little

bit

more

i ploughed through the layers of my flesh

fascinated

with what lay beneath

i watched three distinct fountains of blood

flow into one

sticky

hot

pool

i pulled the wound apart to make the blood spurt higher

i sawed through

some

tough,unknown inner material

and

thrilled

as the spray soared out

and hit my face

when i was finished

i watched

for

i don’t know how long

long enough to become dazed

i had created a gaping trench

the entire length of my foream

that continuosly filled with blood

and

spilled over, flooding the floor.

i could not stop the blood

nor, could i think straight

i wrapped a towel around my arm

put a huge jumper on top

and

took the bus.

yes,

the bus

to a&e

i trailed blood into reception

& collapsed in the triage room

i was so ashamed

dreaded trying to explain myself

lay in a cubicle

crying

i had done this many times before

but somehow

i couldn’t control my fear or self loathing.

i received 21 stitches

a transfusion

and

was hospitlised again for three days the following week with chest pains & breathing difficulty 

requiring

another

two units

&

suffering from severe pain

i spent those 3 days in & out of a morphine

induced altered reality

Junior dr’s were too scared to take blood from my arms

apparently experience is required

to find a vein in this network of scar tissue

the consultant was overly kind

fellow patients

stared & whispered

i lay there in

shame

pain

fear

all of which added up to

another attempt

to stop.

11 days

and counting……

20/03/2012

Blood on a mirror

These songs of freedom…

Wow, it’s hot. This little heatwave we’ve been having is just what I needed. Sunshine puts a little spring in everyone’s step & it’s certainly lifted my mood. Part of the fun of summer is shedding some clothes & indulging in some flirty fashion. In years gone by I’ve missed this pleasure due to ALL the things I felt I had to hide. So, once again I want to celebrate the beautiful freedom the body positive community has brought to my life.


For so many years I believed that my body was ugly. I had completely internalised the fat phobia that society is drenched in. I felt ashamed of my scars & my flab & my uber pale skin & often unshaven parts. I’ve always had a healthy disregard for other people’s judgements, but aspects of my physicality were weak spots. I did what many women do; hid the shameful bits. I protected myself with loose fitting clothing, long sleeves & maxi hemlines. Additionally I built a wall of false, self depreciating confidence. I was always the first person to make a fat joke at my expense because it hurt so much less if I got in there first. 


I often doubted why romantic partners would want me. I felt huge & unattractive when socialising with slimmer friends. Shopping was a battleground of anxieties. So many special occasions were ruined because I never felt comfortable or even worthy. I missed events because I couldn’t find anything cool to wear that covered all the things I was scared to show. Countless opportunities to capture significant moments were lost because I hated how fat I looked in photographs. Most of all, I felt trapped.  I was caged by the standards society told me I had meet. 


Then came bopo. This idea that I was enough swept into my life & blew away a lifetime of bullshit. Immersing myself in a community who told me I was enough changed me. Actually seeing other fat bodies portrayed in a positive light was magnificent. I realised that when I looked at these women wearing amazing clothes, doing exciting things & generally rocking their lives, I saw beauty. 

From there is has been a gradual acceptance of myself. A growing appreciation of how my body looks. These last few days of scorching heat have made me realise that I might have reached peak self love. Not once have I worried about flashing my flesh. In fact, I have loved selecting outfits & enjoyed wearing them even more. Stares don’t phase me because I feel fantastic. I am sexy & cool & deserving of respect. Anyone who feels differently can kiss my fat arse. 


I find myself truly taking pleasure in my body. Be it snapping pics because my butt looks cute, being unabashedly naked with my boyfriend or feeling the fresh breeze on my scarred arms; I feel free. And it is joyous. 

I see your true colours….

I am one tired, but very happy bunny. oPeration BoPo went off with a bang last week. Our event at Glad Rags was a big success. I am so thrilled with how fantastic the photographs turned out and how many came along to the event. I am even more excited about how positive the feedback was from those involved & those seeing the project for the first time. I really feel that I am succeeding in spreading the self love revolution.

So, without I further ado I present to you my modelling debut.

All of our models looked stunning in the final images. It gives me great pleasure that the project has helped its participants on their body positive journey by increasing both their confidence & belief that they are magnificent. It was wonderful to discuss the project with people who came to view the show. Their thoughts confirmed my theory that accessible events of this nature are wanted & needed.



Since I was stripped bare in my photograph I thought I would go glam for the event. This is only the second time I’ve worn this dress & I can’t think why; it’s beautiful.

Dress – ASOS Curve.

Cardi – Glad Rags.

Brogues – Primark.

Belt – ASOS Curve.
From Lush massages to rum punch, goodie bags to thrifty finds a good time was had by all. Stay tuned for more.

If you would like more information you can find all the details here.

 

 

 

Operation BoPo is Go…..

I have been distracted lately. I have my taken my attention off the blogging ball, but for good reason. Much of my time has been devoted to launching what I hope will be an amazing organisation. oPeration BoPo is a body positive project designed to empower people to love the skin they’re in. 

The body positive community has changed my life. Discovering plus size bloggers & proponents of self love has allowed to enjoy my body instead of hating it. I really wanted to share that with other people. I looked for a body positive group/project locally and couldn’t found anything that fitted. So, I took a leap of faith and set up my own. oPeration BoPo’s first outing is an art event. The aim is to photograph bodies of all types & use the images for an art exhibit. The hope being that both participants & viewers will find beauty in all the photographs. 

I am a complete novice at all of this, but I have been surprised by own skills & the generosity of so many people. Our photo shoots took place last week with the help of amazing hair, make up & photographers. I have also been stunned & inspired by the models who have volunteered to take part in the project. 



It was incredible to see our models step in front of the camera & really feel themselves. You could actually see how powerful the experience was for some; confidence pouring into their stance. I have had amazing feedback from participants. It is truly beautiful to see my dream of spreading body positivity actually happening. 


Our first exhibit will be at Glad Rags, an amazing non profit thrift store. Our ethos happily met. The lovely managers, Bee & Ashley have not only styled some models with their fabulous stock, but have also modelled. The body positive art event opens on Oct 20th at 7.30pm. There will be gift bags, cakes & even some punch. All are welcome. 


My hope is to continue with oPeration BoPo. I want to create more projects that allow people to see their bodies in a positive light. I’d also really like to reach diverse groups especially those who would particularly benefit from the self love message. If you are local (I’m based in Glasgow) and would like to get involved please get in touch! 

Now for the money bit. Although professionals have very kindly donated their time there are still many costs. oPeration BoPo is not for profit and there is no cost to anyone who participates. If you would like to help me grow the body positive revolution, you can donate here:

GoFundMe – oPeration BoPo
Stay tuned because oPeration BoPo is go!

Woman of the Week…

This week’s amazing woman Khadija Gbla is the executive director of NO FGM Australia. She campaigns to stop girls in Australia suffering fgm & to bring awareness to issue. 

  

She bravely & honestly talks about her own experience of fgm; from the trauma of the act as a small child to the lasting effects it has had throughout her life. Gbla’s frank discussion of her struggles with her scars, loss of sensation & fgm’s impact on her pregnancy are essential. Fgm is still greatly misunderstood, it is so important for everyone to know the horror that is being inflicted upon children & the lifelong problems that ensue. 

I admire Khadija’s determination to thrive & her drive to prevent others from enduring the same mutilatiom. 

 Find out more about  Khadija and how you can help.

You should see my scars… 

Today is self injury awareness day. I’ll be honest I’m fairly jaded about awareness days. Especially those of the mental health variety. Too often they seem to me to be highlighting the wrong things. Today hasn’t broken the mold. Almost everything I have read in relation to self injury awareness day (SIAD) has focused on the usual stereotypes. Some have just missed the point entirely. So, I have decided to share a little of what goes on in the head of a person who is hurting themselves Specifically, this person. 
I don’t fit the stereotypes. I didn’t hurt myself as a teen. I wasn’t bullied & had a picture perfect childhood. I was never desirous of attention or seeking care in the form of dressings & kind medical professionals (ha!). I’m not stupid or dangerous or crazy. I have fought this battle as an articulate, independent adult. I’ve hidden wounds & scars through university & work alike. I kept a secret shrouded in stigma. Constantly confronted with the idea that my problem was one that should only face little girls. Shamed by the opinion that I am an incompetent drama queen. 
I am none of the above. Rather, I am woman who suffered trauma that altered my life. In the depths of anguish I stumbled upon a solution; a maladaptive survival technique. An act sought out to gain control when I felt powerless. Lamentably, my source of control rapidly overtook me & established dominion. Self harm is so complicated. It’s scope is different for each individual. For me, it become all encompassing. My daily thoughts circled around if/when I would cut. Being proficient was paramount. Every cut had to be ‘better’ than the last; I sought deeper wounds, more blood, more damage, more more. Self harm entangled itself into my identity. 
Admitting that & asking for help felt like relinquishing part of my self. Not only was I facing the loss of self harm, but also the strong, capable parts of myself that made me feel worthy. Admitting that I could no longer cope was the most vulnerable I have ever been. Believe me when I saw that to face stigma & prejudice in that state is crushing. To gather all your courage to tell a therapist the ugly truth & be faced with a ‘just stop’ attitude is soul destroying. Equally dragging your blood soaked self to a&e only to be treated with disgust can break a person. That the is the problem I & many others most need addressed. 

I believe SIAD should be about acknowledging the complexity of the issue. We should be focusing on changing the attitudes within the medical profession. Yes, let’s educate our communities about mental illness, but let’s also change the entrenched attitudes within the institutions that have the power to destroy lives. The worst stigma I have faced has been from dr’s & nurses who ought to have known better. Stigma is never positive, but I’ll take a hundred ignorant strangers over one cruel dr. Being unable to safely access treatment can kill. We need to take the fight to that front line. 

  

Sale of the century …..

I haven’t had much of a chance to check out all the high street sales yet, but I did find the time peruse the Asos sale. And what a sale it was. So many adorable things for hardly any pennies. I’ve placed my first order, but I have more items saved for later, which are likely to end up in my already over stuffed wardrobe.

These are the beauties I am awaiting.

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I’ve not really been a fan of the duster coat trend, but this one spoke to me (it said ‘buy me’).

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I’ve been prevaricating about sheer for a while now. I’ve seen lots of folk look awesome in it, but was concerned the scars on my tum would be visible. Well, the long & the short of it is, I said ‘fuck it’. Can’t wait to rock this.

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This is standard choice for me. All things red must be mine & this style of dress is uber flattering on me. It’s wool, so should help me through some cold days.

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I only ordered the trousers. I don’t really have use for another floral type jacket. I desperately wanted palazzo pants all summer, but couldn’t find a plus size pair I both liked aesthetically & felt good in. I know these are out of season, but I shall save them for summer. Or with a bit of luck I’ll wear then on my next Aussie trip.

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Last & most definitely best is this leather look jacket. You may remember my failed search for the perfect leatherish jacket, well failed no more! This is right in every single way, it even has some yearned for faux fur. I need this on my body ASAP.

Thanks Asos Curve I love you & your fabulous fat clothes!