Why is my tattoo so important to me?


“Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love, and inspire.”

I only turned 18 last week, and I’ve already plucked up the courage to go and get a tattoo of something which means a lot to me personally. If any of you have been following my blog, reading my posts, or even follow me on Twitter; you may be aware that I suffer from anxiety- a mental health illness that many others experience worldwide.

My tattoo is a small semicolon on my left wrist as you can see from the picture above. It’s a representation of hope, strength, bravery and awareness. It’s a constant reminder that my story is not ready to end, and that my sentence just requires me to pause and carry on.

For someone who constantly believes everyone is better off without me, that I’m a constant burden and that everyone hates me, this tattoo is also a reminder that it’s okay not to be okay. My story is going to have dilemmas, but in the end, everything will be okay.

Considering the fact that I couldn’t even speak on the phone to a stranger or order her own food three months ago, I am incredibly proud of myself for stepping out of my ‘comfort zone’ and getting a tattoo on my own. For many, this may seem like such a simple task, but for someone like me who has panic attacks in a lot of social situations, overcoming this fear of ‘people judging me’ was part of my tattoo journey and experience.

Above all, I want my tattoo to make a statement. A statement that shows that mental health issues should not be stigmatised. I am very vocal about my experience with anxiety, and that won’t ever change for the very reason that people need to be aware of these issues that millions face worldwide. I am not going mad. I am not psychotic. I am still as human as you reading this right now. I still love. I still care. I still have the ‘weirdest’ and most dorky personality. I can’t help feeling these things- and I can’t help the fact that my bad anxiety days make it even a struggle to get out of bed and complete simple tasks such as going to work.

My semi colon represents my story. A story of strength, hope and my own crazy journey. After everything my mind has decided to throw at me and destroy me with, I’m still here. And guess what? I’m doing pretty amazing. My anxiety will not ever win, no matter how much it tries. Fact. I’m stronger than that. Of course it will linger and I’ll have ‘bad’ days, but I’m still here- and I will be for a long time. As much of a miracle in itself that may be, I still have a lot more to offer this world and the people around me. My story is just getting started.

I hope people ask me all about my tattoo. All about the story and meaning behind it so I can share my experience for the benefit of others. It’s time we decreased the stigma that surrounds mental health one person at a time. My tattoo is not only personal to me, but a reflection of what many other people have to battle against daily. If you have any type of mental health illness, this is for you. Stay strong, stay bold, and stay fearless. You deserve to be loved and appreciated as much as anyone else in this world, and you don’t deserve to ever doubt that. You’re still here reading this, so make your story the best story it can be. Paint it all over the walls, dance on top of tables. Feel alive. You can do this.

“A semicolon is used when a sentence could have been ended, but it wasn’t. It’s a reminder to keep going, even in times of feeling like you want to stop. Don’t let your story end.”

Love and happiness always,

xo, Becca

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Anxiety in relationships and the workplace


Okay Becca, breathe.

This is undoubtedly going to be one of the most personal, and hardest, blog posts to write if anything; because it is the reason behind my biggest downfalls as a person- how my anxiety affects me in relationships and in the workplace.

It’s no secret that I am quite a sensitive person as it is. Mix that in with anxiety, and we have breakdown after breakdown in a relationship. Dear my future partner: good luck.

I don’t think I have ever openly sat here and spoke about how bad my anxiety can get in relationships. I am incredibly worried about people in my life leaving me as it is, and that is no different in relationships. It’s hard to admit that you constantly feel like you’re not good enough for the person you love. I mean, it’s me. Why would anyone want to commit to me? 

I constantly worry and have panic attacks over not being good enough. I constantly worry about my partner finding someone better, and me not being enough. I want to be good enough for them. I want to be the best girlfriend I can be, I want to put them first and care for them so unbelievably much. Even though I do just that, I feel like that’s not enough. I mean, I view myself as such a ‘burdern,’ so how could anyone possibly love me? Wow, what a foreign concept.

I worry about it so much that it puts a strain on my relationship. It’s so much emotional stress being put on my partner, over something I can’t help.

It’s a constant mental battle of, “He’s going to leave me. I want to tell him, but I can’t. What if I tell him how I really feel and he leaves me?” Even writing this now I have a lump in a throat thinking about the amount of emotional strain that my anxiety puts me under in relationships. And the saddest thing about it all? I physically can’t help it.

Paranoid? No. I’ve sat and thought about this more in depth than a lot of things. The most ironic thing, is that I still trust my partner. I still trust that they love me enough to not leave me unless necessary. I still trust them enough to know that when they tell me I’m good enough, maybe I am just that.

See what I mean by a constant emotional battle? It’s a constant battle between thoughts that are ‘irrational,’ but seem totally real to me, and what I know is actually happening.

To conclude this, I’m going to put my hands up and admit that how I feel in relationships has put such a strain on the people I love. The saddest thing is that I try not to think about it, and I try not to have panic attacks over it. This may seem completely ‘psycho’ to anyone who hasn’t experienced anxiety in relationships, but I know it’s not just me who experiences this.

My advice to you if you feel like this in a relationship? Trust your partner, and if you need to talk to them, talk to them. Don’t let your anxiety put even more strain on yourself, and your relationship, more than it already might be,

And on the flipside, if you’re dating someone with anxiety (especially in your relationship), the number one thing you can do is to be reassuring. Yeah, it may get tiring. But if you really want to fight for your relationship and your partner, then it will be worth it. In fact, I read the perfect thing that would fit with this idea yesterday:

Don’t give up on somebody with a mental illness. You’re finding it hard to be [with] them? They’re finding it harder, I promise.

And now the good old, ‘anxiety in the workplace.’ If handing in your CV, going through the interview process, talking on the phone to your boss, and doing the whole training process at work wasn’t bad enough, my anxiety still likes to pop up and say hello.

I work as a waitress in a tea room so I’m serving food and drinks to customers on a weekly basis. For me, talking to people makes me feel extra anxious. Don’t get me wrong, I love people, I love interacting with people and exploring their lives and just having a general chat. But it makes it extra hard to do that, especially if you’re having a bad anxiety day and you feel on edge.

To be completely honest, I love my job. It gives me great experience, and forces me to be put in uncomfortable positions and see the day through. However, like everything else, it can all get too much.

It was only the other day actually where I had a panic attack in work due to my anxiety. I had been having constant panic attacks all Friday, so I didn’t feel too good either when I got up for work on that Saturday. Regardless, I always say that I will not let my anxiety stop me from doing things, so I went to work as usual.

Little did I know, that even spilling a bit of tea could make me nearly cry. Yes, I nearly cried over tea. I nearly cried over the embarrassment of dropping a bit of tea, and the good old wow, you’re not even good enough to serve a pot of tea.’

Just like worrying over my partner wanting to leave me in relationships, I get worried over being sacked in work. In fact, I’ve pretty much got it in my head that my workplace is going to sack me and I’m so hopeless, even though I know that that’s not the case and I’m doing just fine at my job.

Regardless, I am getting better at handling my anxiety in relationships and the workplace. I am still yet to adjust to the constant negative thoughts, and turning them into a positive.

More than anything, I am worried that I will put up this blog post and people will think I’m a ‘paranoid freak who doesn’t deserve a boyfriend or a job.’ And you know what? That couldn’t be further from the truth. The whole point of this post was mainly to speak up about this and once again, stop the negative stigma that surrounds mental illness. If anyone knows me, they’ll know that I try to be the most positive and happiest person I can be. I see my anxiety as a pain, and something that lingers… not something that defines my whole mind. I deserve to be loved just as anyone else, because I know how to love and not just be a constant annoyance due to my anxiety… something may I add again, I cannot help; trust me I hate it as much as you do.

I’m trying, one step at a time. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been right now, and hopefully that will reflect in my next relationship- whenever that may be, who knows.

Bottom line: my anxiety will not stop me from working hard at my job, just as it will not stop me from finding a relationship where my anxiety episodes are accepted just as much as everything else about me should be.

Do you have similar experiences in relationships or the workplace? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below!

Love & happiness always,

xo, Becca

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Want 20% off your order at Coconut-Lane? Use the code ‘beccajayne20’ at the checkout to redeem…. go on! Why not treat yourself?

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Connect:

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Mental health stigma, why does it still exist?


It’s 1am and I have become so utterly annoyed / angry and irritated by the lack of mental health resources there is, and by how much it’s stigmatised.

For me personally, it’s wrong and upsetting that there are still people out there who are scared to talk about their mental health issues because they’re scared of being judged, or scared about everyone labelling them as something they’re not.

After struggling with bad anxiety for a couple of years now, it took me a lot to come out and tell everyone around me what I was experiencing. I was physically scared about them jumping to conclusions and not believing how severe my mental state was, and to some point is.

When it comes to anxiety in general, my favourite ones to be told are “you’re being stupid,” “just stop thinking about it,” “you’ll stop worrying about it tomorrow.” Mate, I’ve been worrying about my friends hating me and not wanting me anymore for over a year now… I don’t think it’ll pass by tomorrow somehow. And as for just forgetting about it, well, that really speaks volumes. Have you ever thought in that small minded brain of yours that maybe, just maybe, I’ve tried that about a thousand times and it hasn’t worked? Thanks for the advice though.

There are still people nowadays that see people with mental illnesses as complete loonitics who are “psycho” and should be in a mental asylum. Thanks for that. Want to know the reality of it all? The fact that, believe it or not, we’re not all depressed all the time, and we do have things in our life that makes us so happy. Ironic to you maybe?

For the record, I apologise for the amount of sarcasm in this post, but you know, it has to be done.

Okay so it’s 2016. People are becoming more aware of mental illness issues. People are now covering it more on social media. People are now helping to decrease the stigma. But with that, comes some people who think having “anxiety” or “depression” is cute. You know them pictures that totally romanticise what it’s like having an anxiety attack? The one where a model is lying on a nicely made bed with mascara running down their cheeks? Like this one for example.


Gosh I wish my hair, face and nails looked that good mid anxiety attack.

The reality of it all is being keeled over the toilet because you physically feel like you’re going to throw up. Or being so drained you can’t move, and feeling so ill you can’t manage more than 1 meal a day. It’s me having to force myself to go to lesson in college even though I’d been having a panic attack 10 minutes beforehand.

Open your eyes. 1 in 4 people in the UK experience some sort of mental health encounter in their life. Think of how many millions of people that is? This is going on all around us DAILY, and we still fail to understand and educate ourselves on something so serious.

Mental illness isn’t a joke, or something for you to roll your eyes at when people try to raise the awareness- it just shows the ignorance that surrounds the topic. Or for you to not listen to what it’s like to suffer from a mental illness because “it doesn’t concern you.”

Your mind and body are so precious and it’s about time we realised that we should look after that first and foremost. We can’t ignore these issues any longer. The fact that it can take 6 months to get mental health help from the NHS for even children as young as 10 genuinely upsets me. And that’s coming from someone who thinks our NHS is a blessing and which I am thankful for. BUT more needs to be done, and we can be the ones to do just that.

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, I hope you at least recognise how important it is that we don’t stigmatise mental health issues and that we’re less judgemental of them. There’s nothing worse than crying out for help from your “friends” and being told you’re being completely stupid and you can’t just think of sad things. Can I bang my head against a wall yet? This is such a reoccurring theme.

If you suffer any type of mental illness, don’t be scared to find the help and seek it. It’s just sad that we have to “find” the help we need, rather than it being there and easily accessible. I’m sure if you had a broken leg you’d know where to go to get it fixed. A broken mind is a different story, however.

“Be the change you want to see” and I won’t stop being open about my mental illness experience until enough awareness is raised to decrease the stigma that surrounds it. ALL mental illnesses should be made aware of. That includes anxiety, depression, OCD, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, insomnia, borderline personality disorder, only to name a few. ALL should be raised awareness to, not just a select few.

I’m not a psycho. I’m not going mad. Most of the time, I’m perfectly happy. But if I have a panic attack, that’s not my fault. I certainly don’t choose to have them. 

If you also need any help, there’s this amazing website called mind.org.uk. They have an A-Z of the reality of all mental illnesses and offer support for sufferers.

Love and happiness always,

xo, Becca

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Want 20% off your order at Coconut-Lane? Use the code ‘beccajayne20’ at the checkout to redeem…. go on! Why not treat yourself?

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Connect:
Twitter: @beccaxjayne

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Feel free to drop me a tweet etc xo

Living with anxiety: my experience on battling ‘the monsters.’


From the title you probably already get the main gist of what this post is going to be / is about. I have never kept my anxiety a secret, nor have I ever hid it from anyone purposely. In fact, I am very open about that aspect of my life and I see my anxiety as a part of me growing up and trying to find myself in this big world. Sure, my anxiety makes situations ten times harder than they have to be, and I wish it didn’t exist, but it does. And I’d rather use my experience of my own mental illness to make others aware of how serious mental illnesses are and to try to reach out and relate to people who are in the same position and share the same anxious experiences as me. So here it is. Here is my experience of living with anxiety and in no shape or form am I dramatising my experience. As open as I am with my anxiety, I still get scared over the thought of writing about it on this blog over the fear of being judged, people not believing me etc; and if you don’t, that’s totally up to you. But, I will NOT let people stop me from speaking out about mental health issues because I will NOT let the stigma that surrounds it be legitimised.

Mental illness: A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day.

Often even saying the word, “mental illness” fills people with wrong misconceptions. A person who’s constantly sad. A person who is ‘depressing.’ A person who is “crazy or going mad.” But it’s funny how all those misconceptions make you blind and ignorant to a problem which exists in a large number of our own society. The fact is, most people who live with mental illnesses aren’t ‘depressive.’ Most of the people I know who suffer from it, are some of the strongest, bravest and most inspiring people I have ever met. It takes a lot of courage to battle your own mind and to be faced with ‘monsters’ daily, so how can that be someone going crazy or loosing it? The simple answer is, it’s not. Even though I personally battle with anxiety, I still like to regard myself as a pretty positive and happy person who just wants to shed some light on this dark world. Nothing, not even my anxiety, will ever change that.

To be completely honest, I was never aware fully of what was happening to me when my anxiety first became serious. I had sudden feelings of hopelessness, of not being good enough, and just being mentally drained. Seen as I was around 15 when I started experiencing these overwhelming feelings, at first I put it down to a normal and emotional reaction to growing up and hormonal changes, only to find out nearly three years later that that’s certainly not the case. At first, I would cry for no apparent reason and stay up until the early hours of the morning worrying about things that weren’t true, or that didn’t matter. Now, for a fifteen year old who’s trying to find herself and grow into her own changing body, this was all such a confusing and utterly scary situation to be in. I soon realised that it wasn’t normal. That crying over not being good enough at 3am in the morning isn’t NORMAL.

Fast forward over two years, going to college counselling and being told by friends that something needs to be sorted, I feel kind of grateful that I’m getting used to understanding my feelings and which feelings are due to my anxiety (such as not being good enough / thinking everyone hates me), and which are actually real. However, if you are a sufferer from anxiety yourself, you may understand that that is sometimes a challenging task as the line between what’s real, and what’s made up by your overactive mind, becomes extremely blurred. Take this for example: for a good three months of my life towards the end of last year, I truly believed that everyone hated me. I truly believed that my friends were only my friends because they had to be. That everyone secretly wanted to get rid of me, and that no one deserves to have me in their life because I viewed myself as a burden to them. As dark and depressing as that sounds, that is the scary reality of the tricks my own mind plays on me which I am not able to control because I believe the thoughts are real. My mind seems to blow simple situations out of proportion into something bigger that ruins me mentally.

So how do I overcome this you may ask? The simple answer is that I haven’t got there yet, and I don’t know if I ever will. To someone who hasn’t experienced mental illness struggles, you may think it is as easy as “just forgetting the thoughts” or “distracting your mind” or “why can’t you just tell yourself the thoughts aren’t real?” I’ll make the answer simple for you by using my own analogy of what a severe anxiety attack feels like. Imagine a black dark hole, and imagine you are being sucked into that hole uncontrollably. You struggle and you try to free yourself from that hole, but it just keeps sucking and eating away at you to the point where it feels like you’re drowning. Sounds cliche doesn’t it? Now imagine how utterly exhausting it must be to try to escape from a powerful dark hole that you can’t free yourself from. The black hole represents the overwhelming thoughts which personally flood my mind in anxiety attack. That’s why it makes me feel so weak and have such a lack of energy when I experience such attacks, also known as panic attacks. When you’re in that black hole, you only see black thoughts. These anxiety attacks can often be brief and last ten minutes, or can drain me all day. They’re so unpredictable, and they don’t even have a trigger. I was once with someone who was very close to me, and I just had an anxiety attack out of nowhere. I had to turn away and wouldn’t let them look at me because I was so ashamed and confused as to why I was crying and couldn’t breathe. To me, I feel like it ironically takes less energy to just let myself have an anxiety attack rather than fight it. Fighting it is like talking to a brick wall- you try to fill yourself with positivity but there’s all them “what if’s” that lurk behind in your mind.

I feel like having an anxiety attack is a very personal experience. Some people have anxiety over being scared about dying, others such as me, have anxiety attacks over people in my life; over them leaving me, over them not wanting me anymore, over me simply not being good enough even though I try so hard to please everyone and put everyone else in my life whom I care about before myself. The whole concept of what anxiety is becomes so mentally draining.

A couple of days ago on Twitter, I wrote a tweet about what it’s like  in which I got such amazing feedback from people who told me that they have had similar experiences to mine. Considering I have been made to feel like I’m “loosing it” by people when I’ve been having an anxiety attack, or once been told that “not everyone sits around and thinks sad things” like I apparently do, it was uplifting and such a confidence boost to know that I am not alone. In my post, I explained that anxiety was:

“More than being uncomfortable in public. That’s one of the most minor parts to my anxiety. It’s having panic attacks CONSTANTLY about people leaving me. It’s about being worried about being alone, pushing people away AND THEN ending up alone because of the worry. It’s ruining relationships because you can’t possibly be good enough. It’s having a panic attack in college for no reason whatsoever. It’s feeling so mentally drained that you physically can’t leave your bed and have to occupy your mind. It’s pacing round your room at 3am in the morning so you stop over thinking things that aren’t true. It’s people thinking you’re in a bad mood, when you’re just having an off day. It’s not being able to control your mind and it’s scary as HELL.”

My anxiety is a constant linger, like a bad smell that won’t leave your shoe. It makes me question my worth in relationships, in friendships, and makes me question who I am. Imagine constantly believing that no one could possibly want you around, even though you know deep down that’s not true because I have some of the most amazing and supportive people around me. But that’s just the thing, I know what I am experiencing isn’t real deep down, but I’m filled with “what if it is.” I need to live in constant reassurance by the people around me that they’re not going to leave my life, that they’re not going to get bored of me, because it’s a thought that haunts me every day. To someone who does not understand or deal with any type of mental illness, you may label my thoughts and feelings as being “irrational,” which of course they are to some extent. But what people fail to realise when they encounter my anxiety attacks on a rare basis, is that those thoughts and feelings are completely rational to me. They eat me up inside, and they spit me out into an emotional, drained wreck.

Now, I know when a lot of people hear the word “anxiety” they automatically think of the connotations that it has to social anxiety, and being scared to go out in public, which I also have to deal with. Two of my biggest fears when it comes to my social anxiety is either ordering food, or talking on the phone. The thought of physically having to order food on my own or talk to someone on the phone, even a relative, makes me feel physically sick. There has been times when I have had to force myself to talk to someone on the phone, and before the phone call I just broke down crying with fear. I will never understand how something so little and simple works me up so much. I don’t want to be scared of these things, but once again my mind is filled with “what if I say the wrong thing?” “/ “what if I mess up and the person doesn’t understand what I’m saying?” / “what if they don’t have the food I want in stock?” / “what if I can’t hear what they’re saying on the phone and have to say ‘what’ a thousand times and look like an idiot?” I guess I’m scared of messing up, and I’m scared and ashamed of embarrassment. Overall however, I do aim to force and make myself be in situations which makes me uncomfortable… but hey, if I’m having a really off day and can’t physically order my own food, don’t think I’m being lazy by asking you to do it for me, help a girl out and save me from nearly having a panic attack in front of the cash desk.

The fact is, living with anxiety is hard, and more than anything… scary. I sometimes sit there and imagine a life with no worries. A life in which I don’t mess relationships up because I don’t think I’m good enough, and then seem ‘clingy’ because I need constant reassurance. A life in which I can go into a shop and hand in my cv without my hands shaking and wanting to throw up there and then. A life where I constantly feel happy and have no worries. But my anxiety will always be there. It’s just how I deal with it that’s the issue. The day I get to that stage where I can not constantly question people’s perception of me, and where I feel confident in public will be the most liberating day of my life. For now, I’m learning. I’m working hard. If I feel an anxiety attack coming, I take a stand and try my best to reject the feelings. However, I can’t sit there and say I haven’t had an anxiety attack this past week, because I have. Sometimes it’s too hard to give in. But it’s a process, just like everything else.

To anyone that has been on the receiving end of one of my anxiety attacks, whether it was me isolating myself from you temporarily, or me being ‘off’ on one of my bad days, I do apologise but I hope this post has made you realise the extents my mind reaches, and anyone else for that matter. If you’re reading this post, and you’re not necessarily an anxiety sufferer yourself, hug whoever may be feeling anxious. Tell them everything’s okay. Tell them you’re there for them, and you’re not going to leave. Whether it’s a friend, partner or family member- I promise you that they will appreciate that more than anything.

More than anything though, I hope this post helps other people who suffer from anxiety know that they’re not alone. You’re not mad. You’re not irrational. You cannot be held responsible for your mind playing tricks on you and you’re anxious feelings are NOT your fault. I truly believe it’s time that the world was more accepting towards mental health issues, rather than hiding behind the stigma which surrounds it. Do you realise that in 2013, there were 8.2 million recorded cases of anxiety in the UK, and it is estimated that 1 in 4 people in England alone will experience a mental health problem in any year of their life? This is a serious issue which needs to be educated upon, addressed and more widely accepted. Don’t be that person who ignores someone with a mental health problem which needs your help. Be there. Be strong. Keep fighting. You can do this. You have to have the rain to see the rainbow.

If ever you need anyone to talk to about any factors I have mentioned in my blog post above, feel free to comment below this post or you can message me here. I don’t want you to suffer alone, feel free to message me any time; no matter how irrational it may seem. Trust me, I’ve probably been there.

“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.” – Guy Finley

Love & happiness always,

xo, Becca

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Want 20% off your order at Coconut-Lane? Use the code ‘beccajayne20’ at the checkout to redeem…. go on! Why not treat yourself?

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Feel free to drop me a tweet etc xo