This post has been an extremely difficult one for me to publish, it's actually been sat in my drafts for almost 2 months now, but I finally think sharing my mental health experience could benefit others. It's not my usual angle, or my usual tone, so I have no idea how people will react to it. Truth be told, I originally wasn't completely sure if I was willing to share such a vulnerable personal side of me - a side I wouldn't normally share with the closest people in my life, let alone begin to touch on online, however I know awareness needs to be raised. It also explains the causes of my sudden absences from social media/my blog from time to time. I was inspired to share my story after learning of the tragic loss of Jacqueline Boulton (her memorial page can be found here). I didn't know her on a personal level, however I had met her a couple of times through Leanne (Lim-Walker) at events and from the outside I only remembered her as a sweet, strikingly beautiful girl, with a killer figure. It just goes to show what appears on the outside doesn't necessarily relate to how somebody is feeling on the inside.

Adidas and Adidas by Stella McCartney via Get The Label

I could have shared my staged fitness photos and my 80 days progress shots alone for a classic weightloss post which I had originally intended, but I felt there was so much behind this transformation which photos and weight loss alone couldn't justify and I realised maybe it was time I did share some of my closet demons, if I was able to suck up my shame to help others.

I don't normally share my mental health online - I like to give people the impression I have 'my shit together'. I want people to see the best side of me - the 'hey I'm funny and I'm doing cool things Charlotte', not the 'I have no motivation to do anything and I'm in a very dark place who doesn't want to be here anymore Charlotte'. I was even in denial to myself that I was even unwell for quite some time until the situation escalated to the point I had no choice but to see a doctor, and then it felt like a dirty secret - a problem, a fault... not something somebody so determined for a successful life should have. I think I've briefly mentioned before on my social media about suffering with depression in the past, but I've never wanted to come across attention seeking and on my down days where I do vent on Twitter, I try and shrug my despair off as a joke or just nothing more than referring to a bad day as 'it feels like the world is ending' or something along those lines lightheartedly.

This is the only level I could relate to Essena O'Neill on, putting on a happy face online, when reality was, I wasn't feeling so great. I don't disagree with this though, surely we're all guilty of using instagram/our blogs etc. for 'post the best 'n hide the rest'? I knew sharing my sadness online wouldn't reflect positively on anybody else (ok except you haters out there!!! I'm joking, clearly those dislikes on my recent YouTube video were justified and not stemmed by hate... ahem.) nor would it improve my situation, so instead I just tried to focus on the positives and carried on like normal.

For me it was confusing though, I would literally go to wanting to take my own life, to the next week being in the greatest of moods and holiday planning, wondering how I even felt so sad the week before. Early Summer 2015 I looked in the mirror one day though and it crippled me - I think I cried for about 2 hours straight and cancelled the plans I had. I knew I'd gained a little weight as I wasn't committed to abusing myself with a ridiculous diet or regime at that time, but I was just trying to ignore it and hope it went away until I got the motivation to starve myself again. I think this particular day I drove my mum crazy, I made her take over 10 videos of me from different angles and I was really cruel to her for 'letting my weight get so out of hand' and buying me 'unhealthy food'. I then punished myself by looking through slimmer photos of myself. Thinking about the person I became in these states of hysteria disgusts me, and that day after a magnitude of other disappointments and arguments I decided to try and take my life. For me it was absolute rock bottom, I'd had a few weeks of feeling down and on this particular day my appearance and body image disgusting me beyond what it had before, that evening I had a particularly bad argument with a family member which caused me some additional stress and it was literally the nail to my coffin. My boyfriend who is normally good at calming me down was also abroad so it left me feeling even more hopeless. It's embarrassing for me to even write this because it is really not the selfish person I am and most of the time I do know life is worth living, but if you live with depression or bipolar, you can understand that sometimes these feelings become too much and you can make decisions you will regret. I have watched documentaries on people who try to commit suicide by jumping off The Golden Gate Bridge, and all survivors say they regretted it the second they jumped. I put my mum and boyfriend through a lot this day and the embarrassment afterwards, but at the same time despair, was very hard for me.

Eating disorders for me started when I was about 12 years old, but I know I have been conscious of my weight compared to other children since about 5 years old. To start with I didn't know I had a problem, I was just limiting my food religiously and overexercising - but this is what I believed to be 'healthy'. I'd been on a year 7 trip to Disney Land Paris and had gotten the photos back and had been left devastated with the size I looked. I was 'chubby', not obese, but it still struck something with me - I was also always taller which I think didn't help me whilst my friends were all round petite. These photos were a wake up call and I remember upsetting my mum as I destroyed them all and in turn destroyed the memories of the trip. I used to eat pastries for breakfast, burgers or pizza for dinner and it wouldn't be abnormal to snack on a couple of chocolate bars each day, so in hindsight it is no-wonder I was a chubbier child - unfortunately I was a very fussy child and my mum didn't have a lot of money growing up so I don't blame her as I know I probably made eating very difficult. After this is when I told my mum that I would refuse to eat anything unhealthy for dinner and I made a point of only snacking on fruit as this is what I believed people did to lose weight. I was already going to karate classes twice a week and was involved in a lot of school sport teams but I also began incorporating running around my local area everyday. 6 months to a year later, friends, including adults, were complementing me on my weight-loss and those compliments only added fuel into losing more and being a new person without a 'fat past' for high school later that year (high school started year 9 where I grew up on Isle of Wight).

I don't have a lot of the chubbier photos as I know I made a point to destroy them, however I found this one on the left, along with a few the year or two after on the right, which shows the quite dramatic change people were complimenting me on.

Age 12
Age 13/14

I was around my aunts house one day around the age of 12 and after refusing to eat a packet of crisps I remember her asking me if I had 'anorexia'. I didn't actually know what this was, but once I got home and googled I came across a lot of 'pro-ana' sites which would in turn further destroy my outlook to food, diets and exercise for years to come. For those who haven't heard of these sites, it's a toxic community of ill girls (and boys) who encourage extreme weight loss by unhealthy measures. For me, I decided I wanted 'anorexia', I wanted to follow all the tips this community had to offer and I spent the next few years damaging my metabolism and body with a yoyo-ing weight due to not being able to keep up with any of the unsustainable regimes. My school friends always thought what I was doing was ridiculous, and a famously stupid time period of mine was my 'apple diet', where I literally spent a few weeks only limiting myself to apples and diet carbonated drinks, eating ice cubes to curb my appetite. I would also hate being in photos unless I was in control of the camera and I would untag almost any photo on Facebook because of me looking 'too ugly' or 'fat'. When I went out for meals with friends, even my own birthday one year, I would refuse to order and would instead sit with them whilst they ate - I got into weird habits like this, and still never felt slim enough despite my efforts. I became addicted to energy drinks and energy tablets as I wasn't getting enough sleep either and at the age of 14/15 I actually bought myself a running machine for my home. Which 15 year old spends £200 of their own money on a running machine? Yep, me. I don't think there was ever a time growing up where I liked my body, but around the age of 16 I think I'd stabilised a slim-ish figure, however this was never good enough because I had more of an athletic build due to exercising, compared to a 'skinny size 0' one which I so desperately wanted. Another disgusting and dangerous habit of mine was purging, this was something I would only do in desperation if I thought I'd gone over my desired calorie intake and I would try and do it in secrecy with the shower running so nobody could hear - again something I learnt to do from these terrible forums.

I met my current boyfriend when I was 16 and my weight was still an issue and I know meeting up with him in the beginning heightened my need to lose weight incase he thought I was 'too fat', I also found eating around him very difficult. A famous thought of mine was 'if they don't see you eating, maybe they will assume you are slimmer than you are' - ridiculous. A year or so into the relationship I got comfortable though and began to gain weight, especially since I was getting to an age where I drank alcohol more often and because I would eat more often when he was. By the age of 18 I was working long hours at a pub on my gap year - exercising less, eating badly, drinking more and my size and health showed it. I'm a impatient person and knew I wanted to lose weight before travelling so this time I turned to the 'skinny teas' advertised by skinny models on instagram (essentially laxatives) and I joined a local gym, but it was difficult for me to get to due to where I lived. This was all impossible with my 60 hour working weeks and I still found myself binging after days of fasting and bad old habits, finding myself too exhausted for proper work outs. I hated 95% of the travelling photos with me in and decided I would turn my life around properly at university the month after I got back. It sounds so very vain, but I think it is a lot more than that - it's about being in control and how I think I should see myself. My friends could be weighing more than me or wearing bigger sized clothes and I'd still be jealous of their figures.

On the right shows me 17/18 after being comfortable with my boyfriend for a few years and gaining weight. The left is after during the midst of my issues in 2014. I posted this to my Facebook friends for the praise I needed to keep going, and because I was terrified people remembered me as the photo on the right so I wanted them to know I didn't look like that anymore.
This is around the time I started writing about 'fitness' on my blog and social media. I was living alone in university halls so I was completely in control of what I ate and my front door was 5 meters away from a gym which I made sure I went to every single day. To start with I started doing things with the health factor in mind - eating well but quite restricted (you can read here about these habits at the time I wrote them), but towards the end I would be proud of myself if I'd gone through a day maybe eating a Wham Bar, a couple of Redbulls and some fizzy laces - along with burning 600+ calories at the gym. Of course I didn't feel comfortable writing about fitness anymore - my only energy was from a sugar addiction and due to this lifestyle I even lost the muscle definition over the months to come. Purging again becoming something I would turn to in despair if I thought I had eaten too much or not exercised enough and then I started being sick from stress also which this time I wasn't completely in control of. I also lived with somebody who was going through something similar so everything became a competition and motivation to one another, and at the time I was so naive to how damaging it all was.

November 2013                                         January 2015                                         February 2014

I was not enjoying university and I was experiencing panic attacks for the first time in my life due to a combination of university/debt getting me down and the fear of failure and my future, along with online bullying/mocking/intimidation situations and the constant fear of what people thought of me - all heightened by a recent popularity increase online. For a few months I dealt with these feelings of sadness, attacks, constant unhappiness, until my mum convinced my to see a doctor after I called her up one day explaining I couldn't continue with my life anymore. I don't remember my younger self experiencing any of these feelings, even when battling with my weight at the most extreme times - this was different and now those stresses combined with my need to lose weight and how I saw myself. I seem to have forgotten though, whilst all of this was going on, my life also had it's successes or unusual 'highs'. I did have friends and I feel like they had no idea what was going on in my life. I could easily pull all nighters to write essays and despite not enjoying it - I was getting good results at King's College where I studied. I lived for fun and was addicted to going out to clubs in London as I loved getting drunk to forget my mundane routine and daily worries and of course I didn't see sleep as a priority. My newly made blog and social media presence was doing much better than I could have imagined and my mind was constantly thinking of ways to better myself. Plus eventually I secured myself a job to ease my money worries and compulsive spending. The days I felt happy and were being over-productive, I even doubted the feelings of sadness and anxiety I was feeling just says before, which is why it took me so long to be convinced to see a doctor.

This photo I was so proud of, I'd fit into a dress which was originally too small for me and I always reverted back to this day for weightloss motivation.

My face is noticeably more gaunt.

I started posing with my feet together as to prove my legs didn't touch/I had a thigh gap... it was a way I liked to record the size of my legs.

Compulsive spending to cheer myself up was another issue I had on my first year of university. For the first time in my life I didn't have money and it killed me. Growing up I would work every hour under the sun, and as I came from a home without money, I really understood the importance of working. When I moved to London I became in debt from my rent alone and I couldn't grasp not being financially stable, that's when I took out a credit card as I couldn't find a job. In hindsight now I don't regret it as everything has worked out, but at the time I know I turned to materialistic things on credit to cheer myself up, which in turn I thought would get me more attention online. It did work but then in turn the stress of the money issues and credit card bills would make me unhappier again.

As my mental health decreased, after a long talk with my doctor, I decided I had to take a medical leave from university and over the next few months I tried a handful of antidepressants. I didn't stick to any of them though due to them making me feel worse and the fear they would make me gain weight. By this time people were really noticing my weight loss and I stopped being able to see it, instead being convinced I was looking bigger. I upped my hours at work where I began to feel more in control and my anxiety towards university grew so much I knew it wasn't the route for me anymore so I decided to withdraw. It felt like the right decision but it still caused me so much sadness and stress, and I know this was also an issue I really struggled with and why I felt like I wasn't good enough to carry on with my life. Although seeing my GP gave me peace of mind for a little bit, it never really resolved anything.

June 2014. I think this was the only bikini photo I had ever not resented and even still I remember asking my boyfriend if people would comment saying my legs looked 'big'. I know I 100% was paranoid the muscle on my legs here looked really fat here to other people. 

There was a few more issues going on that year (Sept 2013- June 2014) but as you can probably see, it was a dark time for me... but, like I said, it also did have it's ups. I was doing well online - my hobby of fashion had become something I could make a career of after being told at school I was stupid not to follow the route of academia, I was attending events and doing things I couldn't have even imagined the previous year and I felt like I had matured and grown as a person by living in a city. And of course, I had actually achieved a weightloss goal I hadn't been since I was 16. Sometimes when I'm feeling sad I look back at this year and feel like I achieved so much and I was so happy, but it takes my mum or boyfriend to remind me that I may have spent sometime happy but a lot of the year I was also struggling with a lot of the issues which burden me now.

Left: August 2013                                               Right: June 2014

In May 2014 I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons, not diet, and then that summer I moved back to the Isle of Wight where the excessive exercise and strict diet seemed to not be a priority anymore and I remember I definitely felt a lot happier finally. This is where I felt comfortable to talking about the depression I'd experienced, as I felt I was past it now. I remember my summer being fairly good - I kept busy, got things done and I found out I'd been accepted into London College of Fashion so I was convinced I would be happier with this route and was looking forward to starting the course in October.

Around this time I remember getting traffic from one of the extremely lame hate forums that people make about online influencers, and my heart sank... the first thing I assumed it would be about was my weight. Not once did I read anything negative on my weight so although I was hurt by what they had said, part of me was just relieved nobody had criticised my figure.

Of course with the change in diet - eating cheese more as a vegetarian substitute to most meat dishes, and the sudden withdrawal from extreme exercise, it was only normal I gained weight during the few months I was home. It always hits me suddenly, I ignore it for so long and then a veil is lifted and I feel terrible. Combined with this and the anxiety about starting university again, my seven year old springer was diagnosed with terminal Lymphoma after I discovered a tumour on his neck... and then one of my best friend was diagnosed with Lymphoma 3 days later. I can understand why this sent me into such a state of depression, and of course once I got back to London came the exercise and restriction again... which again you can get the impression of how I was feeling from the gym update I wrote at the time. These months were really tough, my dog passed away, my friend lost her hair and was going through treatment alone in Germany so I was filled with so much guilt, I wasn't enjoying university again and LCF wasn't what I had expected it to be, I got into a manipulative friendship with somebody who didn't have my best interests, money worries came back and yet again I thought my weight was an issue. I ended up binging after days of restricting and it wouldn't be unusual for my boyfriend and I to order weekly Dominos/Ben & Jerry's to cheer me up. I developed an unhealthy relationship with food by turning to it when I was sad as a comfort or way to cheer myself up, when in turn it would only make me feel worse and guilty the next day.

Charlie handed me this one day as he left for uni, after a few days of me really struggling.

Of course this wasn't getting me the results at the gym I had the previous year so I was disheartened and put less effort into my workouts and in turn again I seemed to have gained weight as I know my metabolism would have been nonexistent from previous diets. I felt like I didn't have control of anything and again I had to visit my doctor for help. We tried other antidepressants but none of them really helped and now I found it hard to even get out of bed most days. I withdrew from London College of Fashion (yep, who can say they're useless enough to quit two different universities?) and then everything just spiralled out of control. I do blame antidepressants for weight gain at this time, but more so as they just left me feeling deflated and like I couldn't achieve anything. I had no motivation or creativity for my blog and a shoot in January with In The Style is another particularly uncomfortable memory of mine - I remember looking huge in the shoot compared to a few others and I knew it had to change. Of course I looked for a quick fix in desperation and after loads of research online I discovered Grenade Thermo Fat Burning Tablets. I'm sure if you take these sensibly they are great, but I abused them and made myself so ill. They're essentially extremely strong caffeine tablets with green tea to boost metabolism with a few other things thrown in there for appetite suppression and fat burning. I'd read a lot of bodybuilders used these whilst wanting to shred weight fast during 'cutting', so this sold me instantly. Due to me not eating enough whilst taking them and taking far too high a dose, I was experiencing constant panic attacks - I can only imagine from a dangerous level of caffeine as of course I was drinking Redbulls too. Due to my mental state - I think the 'come downs' of the caffeine were also making me feel even worse and although they did make me lose weight, I knew this wasn't healthy nor sustainable.

I was so ashamed and thought everybody was noticing my weight change so I felt the need to constantly justify online, especially so in this post I did about my swimwear shoot in Egypt.

However once I read this comment on an outfit post I decided it was such a negative thing to be constantly doing.

I realised my own paranoia could be giving other people issues, so after this instead of commenting on my weight in photos, I chose to not use the photos if they gave me any doubts.

Once I stopped taking the Grenade tablets I went back to comfort eating again and everything felt like a vicious cycle. Some days I'd eat little or nothing, others I'd eat everything. Some days I'd be motivated and happy, others I would feel sad and not get out of bed. Around this time I attended an event with Swimwear 365 with the Skinny Bitch Collective for an exercise class. I had prided myself on my fitness but when I got there I felt so ashamed next to the other girls and once the photos were released I cried and cried and couldn't face sharing any of them for a post.

However I am very grateful I attended as I think it was a push for me to be healthy again, and I met the lovely Carly Rowena who has since inspired me more than she could imagine!

I was so unhappy and had previously taken myself off of my antidepressants again which I believed to be making me feel worse and gain more weight and then is when I lost all hope, and as mentioned, decided it would be better off me not being here. Amongst all of these dark days would be glimmers of hope, I'd get motivated and achieve more than I had in weeks, but then I'd slump back to how I was feeling before. I decided the best place for me would be out of London and back at home on the Isle of Wight for a bit.

During this time I entered a charity t-shirt designing competition with Boohoo, and my design 'Stars can't shine without darkness', as motivation to those with also with depression, won and was made and sold on Boohoo.

June 2015 I discovered 'The Body Coach' and was so shocked at the weight loss transformations for people who weren't restricting. To start with I thought it must have been another clever business ploy, like the 'skinny teas', until I realised a friend of mine had done it and her results were amazing. I didn't sign up to the program, but it in itself was enough motivation for me to achieve my own goals as I'm so very goal orientated. It started as just a weightloss journey but in turn benefitted my mental health beyond words. Over 3 months I exercised everyday without fail and cut out all bad foods, but allowed myself to indulge in everything healthy and to the guidelines of what I'd read researching The Body Coach's program. I didn't spend hours on the treadmill or running but instead I incorporated shorter HIIT workouts which I read were so much better for burning fat than hours plodding on at the same pace. I had no need to binge as I wasn't hungry, I was eating... but eating well. When I set my mind to something I get tunnel vision and the goal becomes all which matters. Mine was to get comfortable in my body again, once and for all - no fasting, no making myself sick, no diet pills, just healthy eating and exercise. I won't lie, the results obviously weren't as fast as I'd have liked, but I was feeling better in myself which was one reason I continued and was so determined. I know I did have my bad days when I wanted to speed things up a bit and revert to old habits, but I always convinced myself to take the happier and healthy route.

Adidas and Adidas by Stella McCartney via Get The Label

Here are the results I wanted to post, 2 months apart.

 June 2015 not long after the Skinny Bitch Collective class                              August 2015                                           

I posted to my Facebook in late August (2015) after seeing so many people promoting juice plus:

"Anybody who has suffered with depression knows it can come with a lot of other side effects, one of mine was weight gain which also ended up making me unhappier so it ended up being a vicious cycle! On the left (2 months ago, just after the IOW festival) I was so unhappy and had lost my confidence. My job became finding 'angles' where I didn't look horrendous whilst taking photos, and most of the time I was so disheartened by what I saw on the camera I didn't use the photos anyway. I'd ruined my metabolism by damaging diets/starvation the years before and I still persisted these ridiculous measures which meant my weight and mood was constantly fluctuating - I saw no longtime goal. This is why I'm so against the juice diets, they are not sustainable and cause more harm in the long run. Right is 2 months after and over 80 days of working out/gym classes, with a new perspective. No diet, just a new lifestyle choice. The first month I cut out everything bad, but now I've slowly introduced the occasional treat to mean the lifestyle is not a constant punishment and the exercise and eating is enjoyable. I don't have to work out everyday but it's what I enjoy and it helps my body and mind feel healthier! I'm also not a slave to any set of scales anymore, I don't care what I weigh as long as I'm happy and healthy! No diet pills, no fasting, no juicing for quick results, just hard work, conscious eating and a lot of dedication."

I would be lying if I said everything had been plane sailing since August, however, I can 100% be sure it is a lot better than how I'd been feeling if I'd carried on with my antics previous to June. During the months I was making this transformation, it was the only thing on my mind. I knew I wanted results so I was willing to work my socks off for them every single day and I was feeling great for it. I decided to not let scales be involved as I didn't want any weight gain or plateaueing from muscle gain to dishearten me, and I found exercise to be something I looked forward to instead of did as a punishment. I incorporated classes everyday and the socialising made my feelings of loneliness improve, whilst giving me competition to push myself and a routine to stick to (being a blogger life doesn't have a set routine which I can find hard.) My goal wasn't 'skinny' for once, it was healthy and fit (Carly's videos were great, body positive, motivation). At the time I hadn't really made the connection to exercise to mental health, but during these months I was much more positive and very rarely had any episodes.

Positive comments like this gave me motivation now.

I travelled to Mykonos and Santorini for two weeks during September where I didn't exercise nearly enough and once I got back I started to feel how I had before. To start with I assumed it was post holiday blues, but it eventually began to get worse. I felt unmotivated again - to blog, work out, see friends or even get out of bed, I was constantly sad, I found it hard to sleep or would wake up early feeling scared and guilty. I felt lonely even if around people and generally just like I didn't want to do anything or be here anymore. I tried to make myself feel better by booking flights to Paris and buying myself a Celine bag I probably wasn't in the financial situation to buy, but nothing seemed to help.

I found out a family member of mine had been suffering in private for years with similar issues and that their aunt (my relation) had committed suicide. They encouraged me to get help as it was close to home for them, and it became apparent this could be a genetic illness. Rather than let things escalate again, once the very bad thoughts of harming myself came back and the attacks of hysteria began to get the better of me and ruin opportunities/plans I had and even the anxiety I experienced meant I couldn't go into certain people's homes when I thought somebody there might not like me, I went back to visit my doctor. I explained almost everything to him in this post and how happy I'd been over the summer and he just reassured me I wasn't the type of person who needed to be burdened by such sadness - I did have things going for me and at times I would appreciate that and work hard and better myself. After evaluating everything I've experienced over the past few years, it became apparent I could be suffering from a form of bipolar, which would explain a lot of my issues. I resented this as I'd only seen bipolar in extreme cases and how it was portrayed in 90210 with Silver and in other cases in the media - of course I didn't act like these characters, I didn't have bipolar? I have been since referred to a psychologist to help work out a form of treatment which will work for me, and in the meantime I've been encouraged to continue with the daily exercise and gym classes as it seems to be one of the best ways for me to feel happy.

The more I researched the more I realised I did have a lot, if not all of bipolar II symptoms - the most distinguishing being my happy, up, over productive, elevated moods followed by long episodes of depression - which is why in the beginning I found it so hard to even believe I suffered with depression. Most people are in their teens or early 20s when symptoms of bipolar develop, which would explain why these symptoms haven't burdened me my whole life.

According to HeathLine 'it has been widely established that regular exercise is good for everybody, but it is an important component in treating bipolar disorder for several reasons:

  • Weight gain is a common problem for people with bipolar disorder. It is a symptom of bipolar depression. Exercise can help a bipolar person maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise can help improve a person's appearance, which in turn improves his or her self-esteem and mood, both of which suffer as part of bipolar disorder.
  • Exercise has also been shown to increase the body's naturally produced mood elevators like endorphins. It can help calm anxiety and help lift someone out of depression.

This would explain why exercise is so important for somebody who has been struggling with depression, anxiety, extremely low self esteem or any type of bipolar, and I first hand can confirm this. Even if I'm having the worst day and my mind is telling me I'm too useless and lazy to even make it to the gym, once I've knocked out that class or smashed that workout, I feel so much better for it.

The stigma behind mental health really has to change. When bipolar was mentioned to me I felt ashamed, but would I feel so ashamed if I was told I had diabetes or another illness which requires treating? It helped to learn successful individuals like Stephen Fry, Pete Wentz, Demi Levato and Russel Brand also have bipolar, with many of these celebrities becoming great advocates to raise mental health awareness. This is the whole reason I wanted to write this post, to urge people to get help if they need it, and for other people to understand when people around them need help and support.

I know for me people really struggle to see what I can be feeling so utterly sad about, but it is really hard to explain. If I wake up feeling this way, all the good in the world can come at me, but I still feel sad and in turn guilty for not appreciating what I have. People have often said to me 'but you seem fine to me?' because yes of course I can seem fine, put on a brave face, or be having a good day - but it doesn't counteract the bad. This is just something you have to understand and be patient with, with this illness. When your mind is telling you you're a waste of space and you feel hopeless, you let work build up, you put things off then you let people and yourself down. I've had a bad week right now as anxiety of Christmas is building (I have been umm-ing and ahh-ing over flights to Sydney to escape Christmas after knowing how sad I felt on my birthday last week - a recent article I read explains how people suffering with depression may be feeling around you at this time of year) and I have unfortunately let stress get on top of me - I've ignored my emails, I've not done any work and it almost feels like the more I have to do, or the more pressure there is, the more I freeze and feel sad and burdened. Whereas on a good day I can accomplish more than ever, I will have creative ideas racing and the future looks good.

In social situations, if you've met me you'll understand I'm either the one speaking all over the place, telling stories and making people laugh - generally confident and with the attention on me or I'm riddled with low self esteem, quiet, withdrawn and can't look people in the eyes. It frustrates me so much because I know the person I'm meant to be. but on some days I couldn't feel any further from myself. I've been called arrogant at times, but been told to have more self worth at others. I know at my most confident, especially after a drink, I think I can accomplish anything, but I think without this side of me I'd be boring and wouldn't have achieved half as much. People have asked me for years if I'm autistic or aspergers due to my habits and the way I can act/come across in situations.

It took over 5 visits to the doctor and being at high risk of suicide to be finally proactively referred to a psychiatrist. This gets me back to Jacqueline which is who triggered/helped me to see my doctor when times felt so bad and hopeless again. Although my doctor has been helpful, it hasn't been a longtime cure as I've either never recovered, or felt fine for a bit and then relapsed. It took quite a few visits before seeing a psychiatrist was necessary and although I was considered 'high risk', my first appointment is almost 4 months after being referred. I've been told this is normal in the UK due to the demand on the healthcare system. Although I feel like I'm on top of things and I know the bad feelings won't last forever - a lot could happen to somebody in 4 months before additional help, which is why I wanted to try and share my experience with exercise therapy and talking about my feelings instead of being so ashamed and wallowing in my bad feelings.

So here is my rather in depth '80 days weightloss' story, and everything which has gone on behind it. Sorry if you just came here to learn about the newest diet pill (FYI, this is a joke, hopefully you've understood how damaging those can be) and instead got my life story.

Please if you are experiencing any symptoms of mental illnesses, tell somebody and seek help - and if you need somebody to talk to in anonymity, feel free to drop me an email at, as obviously it is something so close to home for me and hopefully I can help.

Depression, anxiety, obsession and mental health helplines

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm)

Depression Alliance

Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.


CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.


Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)


Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness. 
Phone: 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6pm-11pm)
SANEmail email:


Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)

The Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.