23.4.17

Why My New Found Love For Colour Is Helping My Mental Health






I don't know if you've noticed, but I've become somewhat of a colorful fiend as of late. I've injected colour into every outfit, constantly pairing my signature red lip with absolutely anything, even trying out a bit of pattern and print here and there, and, I have to say, I'm really bloody loving it.

I never used to wear colour. There was actually something in my mind, almost like an alarm, that would go off, anytime that I reached for anything remotely brightly coloured in a shop, or if my mouse hovered over something printed on ASOS.




Without a doubt, every day in the past, I would always dress head to toe in black - black was all I ever wore.

Now, I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with doing that, because there's not; I still love a chic all black outfit, and I still go all 'I WISH I WAS THEM' when staring at a picture of the Olsen twins; but what I have noticed is that, since injecting a bit of colour into my wardrobe, my outfits have had the ability to lift my mood and make me feel much much happier.

(Completely ironic, because I'm not smiling in any of these photos haha)





I only started noticing this over the past couple of days. In fact, it was actually only two days ago when I slipped into my new bright green Zara blouse, swiped on a red lip, looked in the mirror and felt well and truly uplifted.

The past few days before had been very hard, and any kind of smile or happiness that I had been giving off was all fake and forced (because that's the only way to get through stuff sometimes). It felt weird to be looking in the mirror and not feeling horrific or completely repulsed by my reflection... I mean, that's what I'd spent the last 4 days doing, so why wasn't it happening today?



I'd spent the past four days in my pyjamas, moping around the house, sudocrem dotted on my spots (one of my best looks, I have to say) and I just began to feel like I was never going to start feeling better.

Anytime I was looking in the mirror, all I could see was this person that I hated and this sad expression that just seemed to naturally sit there. I was analyzing myself  head to toe, wondering my hair was so 'shit', why I was so 'ugly' and covered in spots or why my body just felt like a big ol' potato.





JEANS - PULL& BEAR

Then, Friday came and I had to get dressed. I had family coming round and I had to pull myself together. I had to wack on a bit of make up, and try, even if it felt hard, to make myself look remotely presentable. It was no longer a time for moping around. 

So, reaching for my bright green blouse and red lipstick, I got ready. 

There was something about the bright colours, and having the sunshine pouring in through my window, that just allowed me to have a moment of calm and reflection. I was suddenly reminded of more positive days and the fact that I've gotten through times like this before. I thought about the blog posts I've written, the tips I've given to friends, and I realized that I have the skills to get through a tough time like this. I think I even mentally said to myself 'It's time to take your own bloody advice, Hol'. 


I mean, I'm constantly churning out posts on here, venting, expressing and advising, but I don't ever take the time to read them again once they're out there. I don't ever go to myself for advice (which is silly, because I think I actually speak a lot of sense haha).

So basically, that's what I tried to do. I reminded myself that 'this too shall pass' and soon, hopefully, I'll be looking back on this and thinking how far I've come from this moment.





Now, you're probably thinking 'you got all of that from putting on a green blouse and a red lip' and the answer to that is, yes.

I think in the past when I've felt depressed, I've always gone and grabbed for black clothes and dark colours and wanted to hide away and not be seen. However, seeing as all I've been purchasing recently is pinks, reds and, well, any colour other than black, I've not really had much choice than to put on outfits that make me feel like I'm floating in a bag of skittles.

Wearing black just seemed to encourage me to wallow in self pity, whereas I feel like sticking on a brightly colored top actually allowed a bit of happiness to seep out from under the rest of the emotions I've been feeling.




Expression - that's what my new found love for colour has allowed me to do; it's allowed me to express myself more. It's allowed me to feel free with fashion and try new things, and it's actually made me feel a little more 'at home' and confident in the looks that I create.

Sure, there are still going to be days where grabbing for a black jumper and black jeans is all I want to do (I mean, I'm a model for gods sake, head to toe black is my uniform), but colour just seems to give me a sense of release. It's like I'm letting out suppressed feelings or letting new positive ones in.

And, weirdly, I'm not even sure where the urge came from for me to start wearing colour, but I'm so glad that I did. I didn't realise how much looking back at my colorful reflection, rather than my mopey faced one, could (not to seem sarcastic) turn my frown upside down, even if it is just for an hour or so.




"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it." - Benjamin Mee

So, hey, if you're feeling a bit like me right now, and don't have a clue how to perk yourself up a bit, try sticking on a colorful look, or some fun make up, or just something a little bit bright and fun, and see if it can do the same thing for you as it did for me!

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17.4.17

Food: My Enemy and My Best Friend


I have no self control. Well, that's a lie. Over the past few years, I have gained a lot of self control. From jumping from eating disorder to eating disorder and developing OCD, I've taught myself to be very controlled and learnt how to fight off a lot of different impulses. However, there are often some situations where I just completely lose it; my brain is overridden by intense emotion or urges, and all of that control that I've learnt goes out the window.


My days, just simply day-to-day, are very similar - I am very much a creature of habit. I like to wake up at the same time, do things in a similar sort of order and make a to do list for the day, everyday. I like to get stuff done from the moment I wake up and I like to have done something, even just the tiniest bit, productive with my day. And, so, you might be thinking, 'Why do you have no self control then?' and my answer to that is, quite simply put, food.

Food has controlled my life for years - probably the past 6/7 years. And, notice that here I said that food has 'controlled me' and I have not 'controlled it'. As much as I would like to think that I've been in control, I've definitely not been.


If you know a lot about me then you'll know that I've dealt with both Bulimia and Anorexia, and also developed incredibly bad Body Dysmorphia. This all stems from a bad relationship with food. Food has always been my comfort blanket. It's been a constant in my life. It could never leave me, it could never hurt me, it could never bully me or call me names... well, at least I never thought it could.


From the age of about 11, I was a total binge eater. I'd come home from school and I'd binge, literally everyday. And, when I say the word 'binge', I don't want you to misconstrue that as simply eating a packet of crisps, because, no, I would eat 7 packets of crisps, 5 chocolate bars, a slice of cake, a packet of biscuits, Nutella from the jar, super noodles, share bags of sweets, and basically anything I could find, all in one sitting.

I was never satisfied. I never felt full. I never wanted to stop eating. I just felt this loss of control. I just couldn't stop myself from wanting to eat more and more and more. It was like an addiction. I was addicted to the way eating made me feel.

Food gave me a sense of comfort, it softened any little bit of sadness I was feeling, because, despite not really knowing it at the time, I was actually very very sad. And, in fact, I well and truly hated myself, even at the age of 11. I hated how I looked, who I was, who I was associated with, and I'll be honest, I knew that everyone around me didn't really like me either.




I knew I was a fat girl, but I was hoping these 'friends' I had didn't really judge me off of that. I constantly felt the need to act 'cool' or do what everyone else was doing (it actually turned me into a really nasty person when I was about 11) and I just desperately hoped that people actually did like me.

You see, I remember once, a girl that I was supposedly 'friends' with, told me that another girl I was 'friends' with, had been saying that 'I shouldn't be friends with them because I was fat' and that 'the only reason that I was in their 'friendship group' was because I was a pushover and the other girls could get things out of me'. That moment really stuck with me because, as sad as it is, at that time, I was trying my god damn hardest to fit in. I was trying soooo hard to hang out with these girls, do what these girls did and I just so desperately wanted to be liked.


After hearing that from my 'friend', I gave up on this idea of being 'liked' by popular people. I found new friends, great friends, that are still my friends today. The only problem was, that being 'liked', didn't fix my relationship with food, it actually encouraged it. I didn't feel judged by the people I was with and so, despite still completely hating myself, I continued to binge eat and binge eat and binge eat because I knew that I had people that liked me, even if I was 'fat'.



This all changed when I developed Bulimia and Anorexia. I won't go into that again (I'm sure you've heard it all before... if not, have a read of these blog posts: 1 Year On, Body Dysmorphia, How I Dealt with OCD). I basically learnt to control any kind of urge I had around food. I controlled the food I ate, the times I ate, the calories I was eating - I controlled it all. I wanted to feel 'beautiful' and despite knowing that other's liked me even though I was 'fat', I knew that I didn't like myself, and I finally wanted to.

Food was no longer my friend, it was my enemy. It made me feel guilty, it made me feel repulsed and it often made me feel sadder than I have ever felt in my life. The voices in my head went from telling me to eat because I was sad, to telling me to not eat because I was sad. Everything began to go in reverse.

Food went from being my comfort blanket, to being something that only made me more uncomfortable. I avoided food; I no longer consumed even one person's daily amount of calories, never mind the 9 people's worth I was consuming a few years ago. Food went from making me feel happy to scaring me. The idea of eating anything other than what I had planned for the day, freaked me out. I avoided social situations, deleted any form of social media and I just basically wanted to vanish.



Now, I feel bad for using the word 'enemy' in the title of this blog post, because actually, I've learnt that food is not my enemy, food is amazing. But, I've also learnt not to abuse it as a comfort blanket. I've learnt to enjoy what I eat, I've learnt to consume enough food to give me the energy to live and I've learnt to eat what makes you happy.

I've realised that I can't compare what I eat to what other people eat (which I often do, despite knowing I shouldn't), because everybody is different. I need to ignore people who say 'I've not eaten all day' or start discussing calories or portion size, because that doesn't do me any good.

I'm still triggered by the smallest things. I still notice food controlling the way that I feel and I know that food is always going to seem to have some kind of hold over me.


I guess what I'm getting at is, even now, after being wayyyy into my recovery, I can truly say that my relationship with food is still not perfect and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to fix it to a full extent.

When I'm at home, I can control myself. Everything is familiar, and routined, because, like I said, my day-to-day life is very similar no matter what day of the week. But, there are those times that I've now started to deal with (because I'm no longer hiding away all of the time because of anxiety and illnesses) where I'm out of the house or away from home (or do you know what? even at home sometimes), that that loss of control, I used to feel when binging, comes flooding back. I get urges to just eat everything. I crave foods I never usually crave (or at least haven't craved over the past few years whilst being ill) and it's like I lose all rationality.


It's hard to have those feelings come flooding back, especially after suppressing them over the course of dealing with Anorexia. I've been in situations recently which have made me feel guilty or where I've used food to suppress my feelings and it feels odd to be doing or feeling that again.

99% of the time, I feel calm and in control of the way I act or feel around food, but that's not to mean that those feelings that I've just discussed, those impulses I've talked about, aren't still there.


"Someday this pain will be useful"

Food is constantly on my mind, I'm constantly looking forward to eating, I'm not the kind of person who can skip breakfast or function without food anymore. I need to eat. But, sometimes, if i take it too far, I'm left with that guilt, that self hatred, which tells me that food is the enemy or that I'm the 'fat' girl again.

It's difficult to understand what a normal relationship with food is like anymore. Once you've been in that mindset of being 'obsessed' or 'repulsed' by food, it's very hard to go back.



14.4.17

The 'Up' Days




Aaah the 'up' days. The days where everything is going swimmingly, you're on a high and you finally feel like your bad mental health is going to fuck off. Well, here's the thing about the 'up' days: they're the 'up' days. This means that you're 'up' from where you usually are. You're not neutral, you are unnaturally high. This isn't to say that these days are bad, because, of course, they're not - 'up' days are great! 'Up' days do exactly what they say on the tin - they lift you 'up' (i'm getting irritated with myself writing the word 'up' already, but bare with me lol), they brighten your mood, they de-cloud your mind.

You can always tell the difference between a normal day and an 'up' day.

A normal day for me is pretty quiet. I'll have some kind of anxiety or stress, because that's normal for me, and I'll just be pottering around at home, getting work done (or similarly, shooting/pottering around London town). I'll play music, sing along, or catch up on the latest series I'm obsessed with. I'll get my to do list all ticked off and I'll sit in bed in the evening catching up on Instagram and YouTube videos. I'll feel pretty calm over all - probably pretty tired (I'm always tired), but I'll have had a good day - a productive day.



JUMPER - NOBODY'S CHILD // SKIRT - DEPOP

Now, an 'up' day can be pretty similar to that however, most of my 'up' days lead me to feel 100% more exhilarated and as if I could conquer the world or take on Batman in a fight (hence the photo above of me leaping through the air haha).

I wake up, feel energized and pumped. I'll probably walk to the gym in the sunshine and play happy music through my head phones. I'll get home, boss my to do list and still have time to go and meet a friend or go out for the day with my Mum. Or alternatively, I'll head to London for a shoot and I'll meet the team I'm working with and I'll instantly feel amazing. I'll spend my day giggling and laughing, not panicking about a single thing. I'll probably treat myself to some clothes or a tasty brunch (which for once in my life, I will not feel guilty over) or I'll look at the photos I've been shooting and actually think I look pretty damn good. I'll have a stress-free journey back - come home, chill out and actually be able to relax for once. I'll have received nice tweets and comments about my latest blog post and I'll have gotten super exciting emails from super exciting brands or about amazing castings or jobs I've booked. I'll get this overwhelming feeling that 'this is my time' and 'everything is coming up Milhouse' (that's a simpsons reference, just FYI) and the fact that not a single mental illness has interfered with my day will make me feel like I'm finally 'cured' and I can take on anything.





The problem with all of that is that, it's all too perfect. Not a single thing going wrong, and everything going my way - it's almost like a fantasy life.

Life isn't meant to be one constant 'up' day, but nor should it be a constantly be a 'down' day.

And, hey, there's seriously nothing wrong with 'up' days, I don't want this to be taken the wrong way. What I'm getting at is that, 'up' days make me feel like everyday should be like that day. They make me feel invincible and like I've overcome every obstacle that has ever been in my way, and so, when I do come back down to a neutral level or even have a counteracting 'down' day, I'm left feeling like a total failure or like I'm about to go completely off the rails.






It's not normal to be on a constant euphoric high, yet, unfortunately, at the start of the year, I think I slightly gave myself that mentality. Of course, things haven't remained quite on the positive level that I wanted them to, and so, for a while that left me feeling like a total screw up and that this could no longer be 'my year'.

I felt like I'd failed myself, because this was meant to be 'my year', and such a bloody good year at that. I know now that it still is, and still will be, but, for a moment or two, I felt down and I felt like that had ruined everything.

The thing is, we're all human at the end of the day, we're allowed to have our highs, just as much as we're allowed to have our lows, but it's important to remember that, naturally, we should just feel at peace and neutral. We should feel both high and low - they should counteract each other, and we should actually be left feeling pretty indifferent.

We should experience a mixture of everything and feel it all.




"...because sometimes, all you wanna know is that you're not fucking crazy for feeling the way that you're feeling, after having gone through all of the bullshit that you've been through." - Cici B.

So, if you're having an 'up' day, even an 'up' week or month, enjoy it! You're allowed to. But, please, when you come floating back down to a 'normal' day, week or month or whatever, please don't feel disheartened or like you've failed, because you haven't. We all should experience a good 'high' or two in our lives (I'm talking endorphin's, not drugs kids), but we should also just be able to live our lives calmly and peacefully from day-to-day. Being constantly happy is great, but it's a difficult thing to keep up 365 days a year - we're only human after all.

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