Friday, 27 January 2017

Mirror Mirror on the wall

Once upon a time a girl looked into a mirror and was satisfied with the reflection that shone back at her. She had defining face shapes, no double chin and while she was curvy, she was just the *right* size. Exactly where she wanted to be and she did not care if other people thought she should lose weight because she was happy and she loved every single aspect of her body.

Then one day she returned to that mirror and she did not recognise the reflection. But worse of all, she hated it.

Girls. This is my story.

I used to love my body. I was large but I was proud. I was fit and active and strong. My spirit reflected out of the mirror and it was incredible. Sure, I had bad days but I felt so secure and happy with the view that I went and bought dresses. An item of clothing I had vetoed wearing as a teenager because I did not find them to be suitable, wanting instead to hide my garish body that no one should see.

And now I am back to that place. Back to buying overly bulky clothing to hide everything. To crossing my arms across my chest to try and feel smaller and take up less space than I know I already do. Of hating to have her photo taken so the world sees just how large and bulky and ugly she really is.

I know what changed. I got ill. I lost my fitness. And I ate my feelings.

My energy lowered and lowered and cooking for myself became too hard so I gorged instead on takeaways and microwaveable meals and now I am at a place that I hate. Because I can not look into a mirror and feel pride in my appearance. But the more I look, the more I hate; the more I eat.

And I don’t know how to stop.

I still have no energy so I know that too much exercise will destroy me. But I cannot stop eating because I don’t know what will be left of me if I do. Shouldn’t I still love my body even though it is larger now?

Society has drummed it into us that skinny is pretty and I have always thought back against that stereotype. I think larger girls are beautiful. I admire them so much. Curves are wonderful and brilliant and I would not change that for the world. And I used to love my own. But I seem to have lost that feeling. It's almost as though societies views on larger women has been drilled back into my brain again.

I am once again wishing more than ever that I could be a different person, that I could live in a different skin. And it is depressing me more than anything because I want to love my body. I know there is nothing wrong with my size. I know I am loved. I know I have more qualities to my personality than just who I am in the mirror but for right now, that just doesn't seem to be enough for me.

I just… I’m at a loss and I thought the best thing to do would be to share with you my thoughts and feelings so maybe you could help me bring the love back?

Monday, 23 January 2017

27 Things I've Learnt in 27 Years

Today I turn 27 years old and so I thought I would share with you 27 things I've learnt in my 27 years

1.) Life rarely goes to plan but that's okay, you will always end up where you need to be
2.) Whenever you can, do something creative and have fun whilst doing it
3.) It's okay to love your body and imperfections even when society says you shouldn't
4.) Friendships are the best kind of relationships
5.) Find a skincare routine that works for you and stick to it
6.) Not everyone will like you and that's okay
7.) Consulting Dr Google always ends in a death diagnosis
8.) Creating boundaries against toxic people and negativity is good for your mental health
9.) Sometimes the best things in life are unexpected
10.) Making mistakes is how you learn and grow as a person
11.) If you haven't got time for anything else, lipstick always makes you look more put together
12.) Your gut instinct is usually right
13.) Chinese food will always follow the end of either a very good or very bad day
14.) Stepping outside of your comfort zone expands your comfort zone
15.) Always make time for the things you love
16.) It’s okay to change
17.) Endings can be sad and scary but they’re also always the start of something new
18.) The people who truly love you will love you for your imperfections not in spite of them
19.) Being in recovery is not linear
20.) Shaving your legs is usually far more effort than it’s worth
21.) The most important relationship you’ll ever have in life is with yourself
22.) What you consider to be your weaknesses are usually your biggest strengths
23.) Being kinder than you have to be is always a good idea
24.) A new book makes everything better
25.) Things usually aren’t as scary as you build them up in your head to be
26.) Surround yourself with people who bring out the best version of you
27.) Who you are right now is enough

If you enjoyed this post, you can find more on: 

Friday, 20 January 2017

The "O" Thoughts

One of the hardest things about having OCD, in my opinion, are the obsessive thoughts. It does not matter how irrational the thoughts are or how much I tell myself they're not true, it doesn't stop them from appearing and when I'm at my weakest, I listen to them. The reason I'm talking about this today is because this past week has been incredibly difficult for me. As I've been physically ill, I've not had a lot of strength and this has meant that the thoughts have been powerful and hard to ignore.

And they are horrible thoughts. Thoughts that tell me that I am unworthy of love. Thoughts that make me believe I am a failure and worthless and nobody actually cares about me. Thoughts that tell me I'd be better off without being alive. Thoughts that tell me that I'm not worth worrying about. That my concerns and opinions are pointless and pathetic. And in turn, I am pointless and pathetic.

Over and over these thoughts bombard my brain. Sometimes it's easy to just push them aside and remind myself I have friends who love me and that everyone is a failure at some things, etc. But this week has been hard. I've been too ill and I've gotten behind on things and there have been some friend issues on top of that and it's made me just listen and believe in these horrible thoughts.

Fortunately, despite all of this, I did talk to a friend and it did help. It helped to know that I wasn't the only one who got thoughts like this and that I always had someone there to talk to when things went wrong. Or when my thoughts spiral out of control. 

OCD is not easy to live with but knowing that I have loved ones who are supportive and understanding makes it that much easier to deal with. I am so grateful for those in my life who help to keep me grounded time and time again. And I will just ignore my brain when it tells me that they are completely and utterly over hearing me complain or moan about the same thing time and time again.

If you're suffering from the O thoughts and you don't have anyone, please know my direct messages are always open if you need to chat to someone. And I promise that you are loved, you are wonderful, and you are worthy.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Another Year, Another Us

We've all heard the expression New Year, New You, right? It's an expression that some people really dislike and some people jump onto like it's their saving grace but everyone can do what they want to. So at Safe Space we thought we would do a post that is sort of like the motto but is also slightly different. Because instead of looking at the things we can do to change our lives, instead of listing resolutions and looking to better ourselves, we are instead looking forward. We're looking and deciding where we would like to be this time next year. We want to be able to look back next year and work out if we actually achieved what we set out for. But we also just want to give ourselves an ultimate goal. So... without further ado, here is where some of the Safe Space team would like to be next year...

When I was younger I always had a plan. I knew where I was going and how to get there. This, obviously, was made easier with the education system as most of my plans consisted of going to x school and studying x subject. But honestly when it came to the wider future, what to do after school, I was always a little bit stumped. I have been through so many potential career options and now, at 26, I still do not actually know what I want from my life. So over this next year, I want to try and feel a little more settled in life. I do not necessarily have to know my career aspirations, but I just want to feel settled. Currently I just feel lost and uncertain which definitely doesn’t help my mental health.

So this time next year I want to feel better mentally, I want to have a plan or be working towards a goal. I want to feel certain or at the very least to be okay not feeling so lost. But most importantly, I mostly just want to be happy. It’s a feeling that was very fleeting last year and I really want to change that.

This year I want no medical issues. I'd like a quiet year on that front.

Of course chronic illness doesn't abide to the calendar and it can be unpredictable in its nature. It won't matter if it's still the same year, things will happen and it waits for no man, no matter what.
So saying "I want a year with no medical issues" could be potentially overly ambitious or just plain stupid because my body *never* plays fair. But I will settle for no surgery and no hospital admissions. I want to spend this year getting comfortable in my new skin, working on the current challenges I have and improving my mental wellbeing; at how well I am able to cope with having an ostomy.

I want to be able to sit here in January 2018 and reflect on what I've done and be proud. Even if I don't do huge important milestones in that time, I want to be able to look at myself and be happy.
And for the first time in five years, I'm able to feel happy about planning for the future and being able to commit myself to activities and plans. I don't fear being away from home, away from my comfort blanket of my own room and bathroom;  I am able to see beyond my disease because of how my surgery has changed my life. Even my lifestyle. I am finally able to see ME instead of MY DISEASE.
Even if I just find some peace with my lot in life, I will gladly chalk 2017 up as a success.

It’s true what they say, life really does happen when you’re busy making other plans. My life is nothing like I imagined it would be back when I was a teenger carefully mapping out my life ahead and that’s okay, because some of the best things that have ever happened to me have not been part of the plan and have just happened naturally because they needed to. So this year I want to loosen the reins a little bit and let go of my need to control everything. I’d like to be more spontaneous, letting life happen to me and just enjoy the journey more instead of being so focused on a set destination. A big part of my mental illness is about needing to be in control this can mean following a set daily routine or planning a trip months in advance but one thing I have learnt is that you can never predict what life will throw at you whether it be good or bad.

My goal for 2017 is to be more open to possibility, to say yes when opportunities come my way, and to do what I enjoy and see where it takes me. The times where I’ve thrown caution to the wind have been some of my happiest moments and have lead me down a road that I wouldn’t be on if I hadn’t taken a chance.

So here’s to a year of possibility, I can’t wait to see what road life puts me on next!

For years I have made resolution upon resolution and almost always fail at them. This year I’ve already made the decision to have no real resolution, other than to be nicer to myself. I often get upset with myself when I don’t do as well as I expected at a job or at school, or when I’m not doing what is expected of me by others. But this year I want to say ‘screw it!’ to all that and to do what I want guilt-free.

This time next year I will be halfway through my degree which is kind of scary. I’d like to pass my first year with at least a 2:1. I’d like to feel more comfortable talking about my mental health to people IRL (which I’m working on) and also my sexuality (which I’m struggling with a bit more). I’m currently in a relatively good patch with my mental health and I’d like to still be in the same kind of place with it next year. Whilst my initial instinct is to be in control about everything, I’m trying to go with the flow more now. So whilst I would like to have figured out what I want to do post-studying a little more by January 2018, I don’t necessarily need to have a clear plan. Most of all, I just want to be happy and to make sure I do want I want, and not what other people want for me.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

A Monster Calls, Grief, and Guilt.

*Spoilers for A Monster Calls in here*

This week I went to go and see A Monster Calls at the cinema, which is a story based on one of my favourite books. The story is about a young boy called Connor whose mother is sick, and every night a Monster comes to visit him to tell him stories about life, but eventually Connor must tell the monster a fourth story – his truth. This is a story that hits very close to home for me as you can imagine, and I knew going into the theatre that I was probably going to cry. I took all the necessary precautions – I went on my own (just me and a couple of pensioners quietly crying in our respective corners, it was great), took some tissues and plenty of water, and wore my favourite comfy clothes.

Whilst I knew I would cry, I don’t think I was prepared for how much I would cry. I read the book nearly two years ago so I had forgotten most of the details. So I was pretty shocked to find myself crying at practically the opening scene. It was a scene that most would probably not think twice about – Connor is getting ready for school alone, making his breakfast, putting on a load of washing and generally just doing anything that needs to be done before he goes to school. Before he leaves, he checks on his mum who is sleeping in her room, evidently tired and sick. It was like someone had taken a scene directly from my own life, reworked a few things and put it on screen.

There was so much to this film I could relate to – how everyone around you is talking about you behind closed doors, but won’t answer your questions. Taking on responsibilities you normally wouldn’t have had to until you were older. Teachers approaching you and quietly asking in class if you’re holding up okay and that you can always talk to them. Being whisked away to a family member’s house who you know, but don’t necessarily get on great with. But the thing that rings so true with this story is Connor’s ultimate truth – which is that he wants it all to be over.

I remember the moment extremely vividly. I had spent most of the day in the hospice, reading and eating pizza and wandering around. I didn’t want to see my Mum anymore, she couldn’t talk anymore and was barely ever conscious and I didn’t want to remember her like that. So I got taken home by my stepmum and had been home about an hour when my brother and dad walk through the door crying. And they told me she was gone.

I felt many things in that moment, but one of the strongest emotions was relief. Relief that it was over. And I know that sounds bloody awful but it had been four years – four years of her going through countless chemo and hospital appointments. Four years of growing up too quickly and having to constantly face the idea of my mum dying when my friends seemed to be just facing the idea of which boys they liked (which I know of course, they all had other stuff in their lives as well, but that’s how it felt). I had watched my mum lose her hair, heard her crying at night when she thought I was asleep, never known when I was coming home from being out with my friends what I was going to find when I got home. And finally it was over. She was out of pain, she wasn’t suffering anymore. And in my fifteen year old mind, I thought I could finally have a somewhat normal teenage experience (of course what 15 year old Lily failed to understand was that I know had to deal with a whole other beast – grief and loss).

I felt guilty about that feeling of relief for so long. I thought I was an awful person for feeling that when I was told that my mum had died. I’ve never really told anyone other than my therapist for fear of being judged harshly. Like Connor, I just wanted it all to be over. I was tired of seeing her in pain.

I also just want to clarify here that yes, I lived with a person who had cancer, but I can of course never understand what it is to live with cancer and to face your mortality in that way. Yes I had to watch all this happen to my mum, but I never had to actually go through it. I can never understand that pain and would never want to undermine that.

Of course I felt other things one would expect when I was told my mum had died. Sadness, anger, fear of a future without her. But relief was also there. Like Connor, this is just my truth.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Damage Cover Reveal

Hello All!

We have a bit of a different post here on Safe Space today. We're throwing all the toys out the pram - so to speak - as today we have for you a cover reveal for an upcoming book. 

But why?

Well, the book in question is called Damage by Eve Ainsworth and it is a book that covers mental health and I don't know if you've noticed but we sort of like shouting out about Mental Health issues so we're really actually quite excited for this book to be released on 2nd March 2017.

Also, do keep hold of your hats here, but we're also going to have a guest post by the wonderful Eve herself nearer the time of her release date so do keep your eyes peeled on the blog for when that happens!

But enough of my rambling...

Here is what you came here for today...

The cover to Damage.

Outwardly confident, skater girl Gabi cannot move past a traumatic incident - and turns to self harm to take away the pain. 
Warning: includes content that some readers may find upsetting.

Also... psssst... the book is available for pre-oder!

You know... just saying

*finally stops looking at the pretty and walks away*

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

What Does Chronic Illness Rob You Of?

It wasn't long before I was thinking about how things had changed and how that upset me so much. What else was Crohn's disease going to take from me?

I wrote this the day after my first relationship since my diagnosis with Crohn's disease broke down. I wasn't at all shocked but it did stun me. I had to change. I had changed. But I was fed up and feeling awfully sorry for myself, I started to question who I was and what I was putting out there. I saw my illness as something no person would ever want to be apart of, let alone live along side. I thought my life was over, sadly. 

Crohn's disease robbed me of many things in the first year. My hair due to mediation. Weight loss due to inflammation. My confidence because I had a "pooping disease". Friendships vanished because no one was willing to talk to me or let me talk to them. I felt isolated, alone and depressed. Going back to work was the only thing I was doing and even that I wasn't doing well; I rushed back sooner than I needed to because I missed my old self. I didn't realise my old self was dead and gone with that diagnosis, I had to build a new me, a new self. 
It was a chance for redemption. A chance I needed to take. 

So what has Crohn's disease given me?

It was a long and winding road to today. And I doubt that what Crohn's disease gives me isn't just this list, I build on it every day. 
It's given me great IBD friends, a community of support, knowledge and humour. 
It's given me purpose. A sense of direction. A stronger moral compass.
It's shown me how truely brave I can be. 
It's shown me that you can not judge a book by its cover. 
It's given me empathy, more than I knew of before.
It's taught me to not take good days for granted. 
It's taught me how to enjoy my life. To be in the moment and do what makes me happy.
It's taught me how essential it is to listen to your own body and respect it. 

It sometimes makes me wish and pine for the old days on no hspitsal appointments, no needless, no tests, no doctors, of being healthy. But I know that in some way, shape or form this life was given to me, like this, for a reason. And I just have to find reason and purpose. And that is an adventure. 

An adventure with a chronic illness. 

A blessing , not a curse. 

Friday, 6 January 2017


Recently I have been through a lot of changes in my life and there are still a fair few that I need to make in 2017 too. So today I thought I would discuss how changes affect me, now and when I was younger. Because, ironically enough, how I deal with change has drastically changed in the last few years - and sadly not in a good way.

When I was a child, I would just go with the flow. Things would change in plans but I was just a child so it was never really up to me anyway. I may have had a few tantrums but nothing that I can really remember. Essentially I was well aware that change was a big part of life and that I just had to deal with it.

As a teenager, this was even more noticeable to me. After Primary school, I transferred to a secondary school on my own. It was the biggest kind of change I'd ever faced but I was ready, excited and happy to accept the change. It was tough at first but I soon fell into a friendship group and we got along well for two years. But then two of the four of us left for a different school and my last friend decided she no longer wanted to be my friend. Thus began my jumping from one group of friends to the next for the next three years.

Change was a constant in my life. But it was getting harder to embrace. It felt like I needed a constant in my life. And that was where the internet came in. I formed friendships. Found my writing and wrote every single night. It was, essentially, what kept me sane. It helped me to deal with all the changes going on in my life.

After secondary school, I moved to a sixth form college, again I did this alone. I had to make friends again and was very fortunate to meet some on my very first day, friends who I still see and consider my closest friends, ten years on. But it was a change that I could deal with - I had already done it before. After college, I went abroad for six months to Canada. While this time I did go with my step brother, when we got there, he was in one job and accommodation, and I was in another, once again alone.

But the past few years had taught me how to deal with that. And I made some friends and I got stuck in and I really enjoyed my time there. A few ups and downs occurred but that was to be expected on a gap year so far from home. Then when I came home, I went off to university alone too and found some more friends easily enough. I knew what I was doing. It was good.

So now we come to the present. And change was something I used to embrace. I loved changing things up, meeting new people, steering my life a new way. But now? Now change scares me. I'm not entirely sure when this happened but whenever I think about something changing in my life, I freeze up, feel my stomach turn and want to just stop it all from happening.

I need change. I'm not currently happy in myself so I need to do things to make me feel better again but I also feel panicked at the thought of change. For example, I hate many aspects of my library job but I also love my colleagues and a lot of the work that I do do so the idea of getting a new job, of changing it, fills me with dread. I want to leave, I need to leave but at the same time, I am just too scared to do it. I know this job and these people.

I think the problem is that I'm settling. For the first time in my life, I'm not sure where my future will be or go. I haven't got school to look forward to or move on to. It is just an open space in front of me and the amount of possibilities of things that could change or could happen, makes me want to stay where I am. Because it's not the worst job in the world but if I get a new one, well, that could be worse, couldn't it?

So I need to just push past my fears and my lack of control, and just put myself out there and embrace change again. But it's probably going to be more difficult than before. But I know that 2017 is going to be my year. Last year was awful but this year is going to be the year that I finally work out where my life is actually going.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Resolutions For 2017?

Happy New Year Everyone!

Today I thought I would quickly talk about my priorities and goals for 2017. Everyone year, without fail, I make a list of things I want to do or change in my life. The generic ones are usually on there like exercise more and eating less junk food (these are almost always NOT successful). There’s usually a reading goal somewhere in there, as there is this year. I read 70 books in 2016, but due to school and other commitments this year I’ve decided to half that down to 35 so I don’t feel too pressured.

Last year I remember one of my goals being to watch what I said more and to try and be kinder to others. I have a tendency to not word things very well and not think before I speak. I hardly ever mean for anything I say to be malicious, but I often wouldn’t think about the words I was using and it would come out that way anyway. I think I’ve definitely improved on that in 2016 and I’m really happy that I did.

For 2017, I’m scrapping my regular goals that I set myself. I’ve decided that my one goal for this year is to not be too hard on myself in general. I often feel bad for not exercising or eating that chocolate bar or not going out with my friends for a drink. And of course some of this is just down to me, but sometimes I am far too hard on myself for not doing things that I know, in reality, would have a negative effect on me and my mental health. I’ve been trying to get better at self-care and self-love for a while now, but for 2017 I’m making it my goal. To look after myself and not be too hard when things get a bit much.

And that’s it. I’ve found in the past setting myself lots of goals at the same time is all a bit overwhelming and I can’t deal with all the alterations to my life at once. So this year I’m keeping it simple and short, and I’m going to try to be nicer to myself.