Let’s Talk…Body Dysmorphic Disorder with Emily Kay Part II

On the 22nd February 2014 Emily got naked in front of the camera to raise money for Mind in order to spread awareness of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Here’s how it went.

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So, Emily, the pictures are absolutely stunning, how do you feel now it’s all over?

I feel really positive about the whole experience. It has stuck a smile permanently on my face. I am definitely happy that the run up period is over, I was so nervous and anxious about doing it, not just physically getting in front of the camera but the whole “how would the pictures come out”, “would they require photoshop to make me look decent”, “what if I don’t know how to pose”, “what if I don’t know how to make myself look nice”, “what if my smile looks dorky, or shows off any weird teeth”, and so on. The waiting period was probably the worst, so I am glad it is definitely over and done with!

I have come out of it feeling remarkable. It is something I would recommend – to do something scary that will really test your courage and what it is that bothers you. In some ways it became comfortable to be in my underwear in front of two people, one I hadn’t met before, after a few hours and although the direct topic was to do with the nude shoot, it was like the focus wasn’t the shoot at all. It was the having fun, getting good poses, having a good laugh.

What was it like on the day? 1962833_10152390514128854_1957563951_n

In the morning I was so hyperactive, but not in an uber-excited way, I was much more nervous. I was following the schedule I had set myself, where I needed to be, what I needed to do, checking everything I was bringing, making sure I was at the hair appointment on time. It was very ‘work’ based, as if I had just been doing a project for work. I got nervous when I got there and got into the first lingerie set, to start off the shoot. We started on the most comfortable set and went from there, with a cheeky sniffle of Jack Daniel’s just to loosen up (not the whole lot!). As we went on, I got more comfortable, it just became fun and a delight. We had some good laughs whilst doing it, came up with some great ideas, and we are all proud as a collective of everyone who was involved about how it came across in the photos. We put on some great music including KISS and Van Halen and then some really poppy dance tunes and really just had a great time.

Any regrets?

I don’t have regrets as such, I have things that I would like to change if I do it again, or anything similar to it again, such as my hair colour going back to crazy bright colours, or what I’m wearing. I certainly think it is addictive, as it makes you feel so good to be done up and look really nice and to have professional photography.

I definitely don’t regret doing something which is so out of my comfort zone, as I am definitely the type of person that needs that push and needs something more to prove to myself that I can do it, regardless of what anxiety condition I may have. I mean, I may have it for life, but this has definitely lightened up my days and every day I spend less on the routines that I was doing, or focusing and obsessing over certain features. So I don’t regret it, even if I was nude!1970517_10152390514123854_1879651260_n

What has the reaction to the pictures been like? How does that make you feel?

The reaction as a whole has been very very positive, both in respect to how I look in the photos and to what I have done for charity, which I think are two separate things. It makes me feel absolutely incredible to have done something which has made £5,400 for Mind, it just makes me feel like I have participated in helping a charity which has helped me. As for how people have reacted positively to me aesthetically, I have really had moments where I didn’t really absorb it – I sort of appreciate and thank for the comment, but it doesn’t sink in, or I kinda just joke about it, or on some I’ve been so taken back that I took it really personally and it made me well up. It’s one of those odd things that I struggle with. In the end, I still will probably always believe I look a certain way, or find things I hate – most people do, with normal low self-esteem – but I am proud of the photos, regardless of how I look because I am proud of what I achieved.

How much have you raised so far?

£5,429.06 :)

What advice would you give to someone reading who suffers from the same disorder?

I would say about all the inner beauty you have and to treasure it, but I know if someone told me that I would be like, laughing my face off. The reality is, you see what you believe you are seeing, and it is likely a lie. A lot of the thoughts you have about you looking a certain way or being a 1958510_10152390513648854_126438224_ncertain way, are just thoughts, they don’t have to be listened to. The absolute key, what I found really helped to get me on the road to recovery were these basic (and at the time, patronising) techniques of just things like smiling at myself in the mirror. Or when someone gives you a compliment, instead of counteracting it with a compliment to them or arguing against it, to accept it outright. Both of these seem really stupid and lame, but actually, after a while, you just feel more positive. Try new clothes on, new make-up, keep trying new things. Don’t believe that covering yourself in pallet loads of make-up will resolve the issue. Have a day where you only wear eye shadow and no other make-up. Or have a day where you go uber smokey eyes and lipstick. The key is to keep mixing it up, find things you like, things you like that fit you. Try not to let yourself believe that any eating habits are going to help you – because the likelihood is, if you’re like me and you stop eating for periods of time, you will get very sick and it will just make you feel more depressed about yourself.

It really reminds me of the amazing Audrey Hepburn, who said the following;

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.

This is such a great cause so please check out Emily’s fundraising page and share her story. Help us spread the word so other people can feel that that it’s okay to talk.

Thank you.

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Many thanks to all those who have provided their services and facilities for the charity fundraiser:

Let’s Talk…Lattes, Spirituality and Rap Music with That Guy Who Loves the Universe

Meet Sean, he’s fun. Also known as That Guy Who Loves The Universe , with a fresh take on spirituality, Sean is a broadcaster and journalist who believes that we do not have to chose between our spiritual side and our human side. Boom. Featured on websites such as TheDailyLove.com and InspireMeToday.com, in 2012 Sean was also awarded with the prestigious full scholarship prize by Marie Forleo to attend her esteemed B-School programme. Sean now offers his own fresh blend of blogging and coaching. Wanna get your spiritual swag on?

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Don’t worry, The Universe provides BABY!

Okay.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Cut to me, aged 21, hiding under my bedcovers suffering from a self-loathing hangover. I often thought that I could overcome this self-loathing and anxiety by buying a new pair of jeans or drinking a fancy cocktail at a hip bar, however, needless to say, that never quite did the trick.1531930_676622409025633_1294410085_n

Without boring you with the gloomy details of the dark corners of my mind let’s cut to the part where things began to get better, the day something within me said, ‘it’s time to be happy again’.

However, before I splurge into a rampage of spiritual verse, I have a confession. I guess I’m not your average ‘spiritual’ person, I still love to drink coffee, listen to rap music and watch the Kardashians. Of course I love to meditate but I also love to dance and, as much as you’ll find some great Hindu chants on my iPod, you’ll also find the new Beyoncé album.

I used to find myself in a constant battle to balance both a spiritual path with the modern world however, I’ve come to learn that they actually complement each other pretty tremendously because being down-to-earth makes you a really good candidate to bless the world.

What I love most about the Universe is its tremendous, mammoth and gigantic ability to value me, to value all of us. If we allowed ourselves to be freed from the fear we carry around every day we would begin to see just how important we really are. You may come across many books in the ‘self-help’ isle of your bookstore that tell you how to ‘be better’, ‘be more’, or ‘have more’, however, in the world today, I believe that is more important to believe that we are enough and we have enough.

Dear Universe, I do not know what is best for me so I leave the blessing in your hands.

A friend recently asked me that is for some strange reason I were in the middle of a really muddy field, with a yoga mat in one hand and a vanilla latte in the other and I could only save one from falling, which one would I choose?

Ha.

I guess, after much deliberation I’d have to choose my Vanilla Latté.

Why?

Well, firstly why would I want to yoga in a muddy field?! And secondly because I don’t need anything to connect to the Universe. If I want to experience peace and joy all I have to is go to my mind…nothing else. No Yoga mat, Mediation Centre, or pair of beads (granted all of those1379676_646303038724237_1699466996_n things are wonderful) will compensate for a weak mind and spirit.

For the past three years I have been known online as ‘That Guy Who Loves the Universe’, however, I have to make the point to people that I am not their guru. I’m just a regular guy who loves spirituality all things spiritual. I want to live a happy life and I put effort in every day to make that possible. I still get angry and I still make bad choices, however I also make some pretty great choices and the decision to stay connected to the Universe has been my best one yet.

So, with this in mind, I would like to share some tips with you, however, I trust that you are wise enough to apply them as you fit:

Top 5 Things to do every week

  1. Spent 30 minutes with the Universe in traditional prayer, mediation, yoga or chanting.

  2. Spend one hour dancing in your bedroom to your favourite songs (and even using your hairbrush as a microphone)

  3. Tell one outrageous truth when it would be more comfortable to say nothing

  4. Complete one random act of kindness

  5. Express your genuine gratitude to someone or something

And, my final piece of ‘advice’, is to remember to allow yourself such wonderful, astonishing, blissful joy, it’s what the Universe wants for you.

Lots of love,

That Guy Who Loves The Universe

Want to know more? Visit Sean’s website, or find him on Facebook, and Twitter.

 

What you are Vs Who you are Part II

Last night I dreamt two significant things (1) that I had a lengthy, much needed session with my therapist, who I haven’t seen in a couple of years, and (2) a colleague pointed out to me how much weight I’d put on and asked me what I was going to do about it. It is safe to say I do not need Google to help me in interpreting this.

I guess it’s a fact of my life that I will always have periods of depression. Being aware of this and fully functional is both a gift and a curse. Throughout my life there have been many occasions where I have just wanted to switch off and give into it. I can clearly see how people can go right off the rails, and though I am loathe to admit it, there have been times I have envied them.

In a conversation not so long ago I discussed medication with a friend. She told me how one of her clients was reluctant to take medication as they didn’t want to “lose who they were” and become a shadow of the best parts of their former self. From my own experience, on medication I am the best version of myself and, most importantly, far more stable. As you know, if you are familiar with my blog, this wasn’t an over-night miracle but involved several years of hard, CBT self-help, followed by intense therapy. However, my point being that, without medication, when I reach a low point, I would be a damn sight worse off. 

Hitting rock bottom is an incredibly, not so refreshing reminder, that I suffer from a Mental Illness. Even I forget at times. I have never really identified specific triggers but this time I have a sneaky suspicion how I ended up here.

In an effort of self-improvement and enlightenment it would seem I tried to do everything at once and turned what should have been a spiritual, educational path into a car crash between chaos and obsession. Disaster. The irony was not lost on me. I didn’t stand a chance living mindfully after I went POP with exhaustion. All of a sudden I start feeling a failure, why can’t I do it all? And then, breath by breath, I spiral. I can’t see the wood for the trees. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m overeating again. I put on weight. I feel worse. I drink excessively. I overspend. I don’t want to get out of bed. I can’t see the positive in anything. Unfortunately while this is going on in the background of my life work is also incredibly stressful. With my resilience at an all time low suffice to say that this was not a winning combination. So now the job I love is wearing me down. Instead of turing into a size 12 I can’t do up the zipper of my size 14 trousers. My savings don’t exist, they became my emergency fund which in turn became the few pounds I have left to get through the months. I haven’t done yoga for a few weeks now because I couldn’t get out of bed to attend class when I had the opportunity. I love my blog but I end up feeling suffocated by all the technology. All this leads to shame and self-loathing. You get the picture, it’s pretty fucked.

How do I come back from this? Really fucking slowly is the best answer I can give you. I’m back to the Six Point Plan, that’s for sure. My objective is simple, just get through each day as it comes. The thing to remember is it may take days, weeks or months but things will improve. I’ve learnt that keeping it to myself doesn’t help, honesty turns out to be the best policy once again.

I have a Mental Illness and while it does not define me it is a large part of who I am. I can live with that, but some days are harder than others.

If you’re reading this and know how it feels then know that we’re feeling that way together.

What you are Vs Who you are Part I

Tough, isn’t it? Knowing you. Knowing me. Highs and lows. Ups and downs. Not easy, is it? How we define ourselves ends up defining others. Rightly, or wrongly. You wake up one morning and everything seems higgledy-piggledy. Where to go?

How on earth do we juggle our emotions and still manage to stay sane? Well, in this day and age, it is no wonder that so many of us lose the plot. We wake up, go on auto pilot, get to work, get through the day, come home, go to bed, and occasionally manage to sleep. In those moments in-between, when we interact with each other, it is a rollercoaster. We see the worst and best in each other. Yet, when all is said and done, are we not all the same?

I’ve struggled to get through the past month. It’s been tough. When you have a mental illness I believe it’s even harder to find your way through the bad times. You not only battle with everyday hiccups but you question yourself constantly. There’s an uncertainty, you’re constantly afraid. Is the moment you that you go downhill? Will the smallest thing send you backwards? You doubt yourself. You feel out of control.

So, what do you do? Well, if you’re me, you freak the fuck out. Firstly, I feel lost. I have no focus, no inspiration. It feels like nothing is going right. I get stressed out, at the smallest things. Reason and logic have no place here anymore. It’s shit. But, despite the lows, I know that it’s only temporary, and yet this makes it even harder. Logically I know all is well but I still can’t stop the way I feel. Help!

This is the time to slow down, right down. It’s the time when no decisions should be made. No matter how hard it is you have to accept that this isn’t permanent. It’s life, not everything is perfect, and that is okay. You feel like crap, you’re stressed and you want to hide away from the world. It’s okay. And, that is where you start.

This is where you have a choice. I could crumble. I could hide away. Or, you can accept. Accept that today is not your finest moment. Today is not the happiest time. But, today is just a moment in time and you WILL ride it out. And, you WILL get past it. For a split second you’ll doubt yourself. You shouldn’t. Shake it off. It is just temporary. Maybe it’s a day, a week, a month, whatever. You WILL come through the other side. It might be work, it could be love, lust, or maybe it’s just you. Stop. Take a moment. Breathe. Tell yourself that it is just a moment.

I’ve struggled to get through the past month. It’s been tough. When you have a mental illness I believe it’s even harder to find your way through the bad times. But, I know it is only temporary. I may not be perfect, but who is? Tomorrow will be different. I am not the person I was yesterday, and tomorrow I will be even more than I am today. Some days will be worse than others, and that’s okay. If you’re reading this and feeling today is not okay then know you’re not alone. Know that you’re not the only one to feel the way you do. But, most of all, know that this feeling is just temporary. We are all the same, and together we will all be better. What you feel is not who you are. Never forget that.

Let’s Talk… Addictive Behaviours with Addictive Daughter

Meet Persia and Joey, they offer sexy, savvy self-help that will inspire you to get addicted to the good stuff. They are here to help you shift your mind-set and re-focus that chaotic, destructive energy into creating a life of satisfaction, excitement and purpose. Their approach is fresh, original and quite frankly, I’m excited! If only they had been around for my drink-drugs-lust-maxing out that credit card younger youth. Having battled their own demons and addictive behaviours the girls are now on a mission to help you combat yours. Through a inspirational blend of mentoring, writing and speaking these beautiful babes will blow your little party socks right off and rock your world with peace, happiness and authenticity. Allow me to introduce you to the world of Addictive Daughter…

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The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results ~ Albert Einstein  

What are addictive behaviours?

According to the trusty source Wikipedia, an addictive behaviour is “any activity, substance, object, or behavior that becomes the major focus of a person’s life resulting in a physical, mental, and/or social withdrawal from their normal day to day obligations.”

By our definition, the word ‘addictive’ connotes the idea of something that is habit-forming, compelling or moreish. Whilst addictive behaviours and addiction generally get a bad rap, we argue that they don’t have to be viewed as negative. Our hashtag ‘GetAddictedToTheGoodStuff’ is all about re-directing your energy away from destructive pursuits instead towards the positive things that are going to build you the future you desire. The proof this can work? Our own stories. Plus, there are many addicts and addictive types out there who have overcome their sabotaging behaviours and are now doing something really quite brilliant in the world.

Life keeps presenting me with the lesson I need to learn until I learn it

What’s your own personal experience of them?

Joey: Persia and I both definitely have addictive personalities. I personally am not someone who does things so well in moderation. Before I gave up drinking alcohol two years ago, I used to struggle with confining myself to a couple of drinks. It wasn’t that I was out on the lash every night of the week, but when I did drink, I didn’t have a stop button. I find similar impulses now come up for me with food – I love to eat more than I need. The area I’ve had to do the most work on however is my addictiveness when it comes to love and sex. For a long time, I struggled to stay in my own life and focus on what was right for me when I was in a relationship with somebody. There is a pull in me to be very co-dependent and I have had to and continue to do a lot of work around that. The other biggie for me has been separating my reasons for craving intimacy – for me, it’s generally a desire to feel loved and validated addictsteesrather than a physical need.

Persia: I, on the other hand, was out on the lash pretty much every night when Joey and I lived together 5 years ago – even turning up to ballet class at drama school still high or horrendously hung-over from the night before. The reason I used to drink so heavily and take drugs was to give me more confidence around men, because my big addiction – similarly to Joey – was love addiction.  I didn’t value or love my self at all (despite being one of the loudest and outwardly most confident people I know), and felt a deep emptiness within myself that I thought the love and validation from another person could fill.  However, when I managed to actually get that love returned, the effect soon wore off, and I would go on a frenzied escapade to find someone new – (much like taking higher doses of drugs when regular consumption makes the effects less felt). I was caught in a shame-fuelled pattern of cheating on whatever boyfriend I was with, and jumping from relationship to relationship (with them always overlapping).  I was also totally addicted to bad boys. This is a common character trait in the children of addicts and alcoholics (my parents are recovering addicts, and a real testament to how changing the focus of your addictive energy to the ‘good stuff’ can massively change every area of your life).  It took a pretty big rock bottom of getting my own heart broken after my addict boyfriend cheated on me 2 years ago, until I was finally ready to focus all my addictive energy towards loving and respecting myself, instead of looking for a man to do those things for me.  

What’s the key to overcoming them?

First and foremost, getting honest with yourself about where you are and how the addictive behaviours are manifesting and affecting your life.

There are all sorts of 12 step fellowships to assist with addictive behaviours which can be a great way to find others struggling in the same area. The 12 steps are not only a programme for abstinence, the principles are essentially a design for living that can be applied to any form of negative behavioural pattern. This design for living is essentially a process of clearing away the wreckage of your past and allowing you a clean slate in which you can build what you wish upon. In being best friends and running Addictive Daughter together, we have been fortunate to have the support of each other along our way.

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Daily spiritual practice is key – and that is going to look slightly different for everyone. Whether it’s God you believe in or perhaps the power of the universe, both of us have found comfort and strength in having faith in something much greater than ourselves guiding us. For us, being spiritually connected means spending quiet time reflecting on what’s going on within (be that through prayer, meditation, through some form of worship or writing in a diary).

Also, being connected to something greater means accepting we do not have to manage everything alone. As humans we are not omnipotent – but we can drive ourselves crazy trying to be! Other people, places and things are not within our control. It’s very liberating to accept that. Daily gratitude lists have been very important too – there is always, always, always something to be grateful for!

Today, I abandon my old habits and take up new, more positive ones.

You offer mentoring schemes, how does your work help others?

Our work focuses very much on resolving the inner conflicts – looking at patterns of behaviour, thought processes, spiritual life and shifting perspective. We’ve found both through making the inner shifts in our own lives and through coaching others, that if you begin within, the outer results will follow close behind. You can’t have the stable relationship, dream body, high-flying career and financial abundance (at least you won’t sustain it!) if you’re a mess within.

We offer all our coaching via Skype, either as a six-pack of one hour sessions or individual hourly sessions.

What is your message to cynics, sceptics and the intrigued?

Our message to cynics and sceptics is that we too were in your shoes not so long ago! But it wasn’t working for us, we got to a place where change felt like the only option… and we’re happy to report life is much more fruitful over here! To the intrigued, welcome. Visit our website and enjoy our free resources.

Finally, what are your top five tips for self-love?

  • Forgive yourself every day, be gentle and patient with yourself
  • Interpret your past mistakes and pain as valuable lessons
  • Get a decent amount of sleep and a regular sleep pattern
  • Stay away from people who drain you
  • Sign up at addictivedaughter.com for weekly tips on transforming your life

I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents.

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Want to know more? Visit their website, or find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. #GetAddictedToTheGoodStuff