Lost, empty and alone, though I’m stuck in a world surrounded by people

I feel everything all at once yet I feel nothing.

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Lost, empty and alone, though I’m stuck in a world surrounded by people. 

The voices in my head tell me that I’m no good for this world, that I’m too good for this world, confused by a mix of emotions that I’ll never comprehend.

What I do know is that I don’t understand the world, that I don’t understand myself.

I feel everything all at once yet I feel nothing.

My head spins at a mile a minute while my body remains numb and lifeless.

I try to slow the spinning but as I do my body surges and suddenly I’m bleeding, blood pouring from my arms from cuts to spur adrenaline.

I cut to feel, to feel the surge of adrenaline that runs through my body each razor sharp slice.

I cut to stop my head from eating me alive from the inside out, and yet when the damage is done I’m left with a reminder of what I’ve become, who my mind has let me become.

I’m somebody I don’t want to be and I don’t know how to make it stop.

I want to die, I want to stop feeling, though I’m terrified of what lies ahead.

Because, what if feeling nothing at all is worse than feeling like this?

What if I’m shifted to a place of darkness and there’s nothing I can do but remain lifeless in the consequences?

Every day I feel differently. Sometimes, I can smile, though my smiles are false and you can see it in my emotionless eyes.

Sometimes, I cry, but I can’t explain the reason for my tears, for I struggle to find a reason myself.

I feel unbalanced, I can’t trust my decisions, my actions. I’m scared of myself.

But though I’m scared, the urge to hurt myself and to end my living never changes. In fact, it becomes stronger as the days go by.

And that’s what terrifies me most. That one day, it won’t just be the cutting. It won’t just be the pills.

It’ll be a final goodbye to everything, and I won’t look back.

What it’s like to be rejected sex by your own partner

I wish I’d left the relationship sooner.

I’m a twenty-something who’s recently found the courage to leave a four-year-long sexless relationship. 

It wasn’t always sexless, but the past two years saw me and my (now) ex-partner become this lifeless, un-communicative couple that I didn’t even believe in any more.

‘Why didn’t you just leave then?’ I hear you ask. And trust me, I understand your query. It just wasn’t that easy.

You see, every time I questioned leaving my partner – and spoke about the situation with him – he’d promise that he’d change.

And I, being clueless and hopelessly in love, believed him.

But nothing changed.

(Picture: Chelsea Majoros/Flickr)
We spent most of our time in separate rooms, we never went out together, we stopped being intimate and over the past four years I only have a handful of memories to look back on from our time together.

One of the most gut-wrenching things about our relationship was that I have a very high sex drive. He just always rejected me. Time and time again.

It started out with me initiating sex – and he would push me away and reject me. And then, I started hinting – telling him that we hadn’t had sex in a while.

Eventually, I started to ask him for sex – something nobody in a relationship should have to do.

Again, he rejected me – telling me that me asking him made him feel ‘awkward and embarrassed for me’.

We got to the point where we were only having sex once every three months and only if I asked for it.

(Picture: Flickr)
I questioned why he was even with me. I questioned whether I was unattractive. I questioned whether I was worthless.

It got to the point where I’d ask him the above, and he’d tell me it wasn’t true, that he still found me attractive, he’d just become ‘lazy’.

When I’d try to talk about the reason behind our lack of intimacy, he had nothing to say.

Whatever his reasoning for not wanting to be intimate with me, it didn’t matter. It didn’t change the way it’d made me feel about myself.

And, if I’m being totally honest with you – and myself – it made me feel the lowest I’d ever felt.

Being rejected intimacy made me convince myself that I wasn’t worthy of someone’s love. It made me feel ugly. Hideous, in fact. It made me anxious about showing any affection. It made me anxious about the way I looked. It made me anxious about who I was.

The thought of taking my clothes off began to terrify me because I knew that no matter what I tried, I was going to be rejected regardless.

(Picture: Daniel Horacio Agostini/Flickr)
Even the thought of leaning in for a harmless kiss made me nervous.

And that’s a terrible feeling.

It’s one that eventually took its toll on me, and one that on one particular night was so overwhelming that it was enough to make me realise I needed to leave.

And now, I’m so glad that I recently built up the courage to leave what was a lifeless, unhappy relationship.

Sure, it took me a long time to find, but you see, I’m the type of person to want to see the best in people and to want to give them chance after chance.

And sure, I’m hurting, but I’m happy I’ve somehow realised the respect I have for myself, and that I shouldn’t be in a relationship where I’m made to feel like nothing.

And that’s why I’m writing this piece – to show anyone going through a similar situation that they don’t have to continue in that situation. To remind them that they are better than the cards they’re currently being dealt, and that they just need to find the courage to throw them all away.

I only have one regret when it comes to leaving my unhappy relationship – and that is that I didn’t do it sooner.

7 things I’d like other men with depression to know

We are all in this together.

The 8th of May marks the start of Mental Health  Awareness Week. 

Anyone can suffer with mental health issues, It’s estimated that 1 in 6 people living in the UK have/are suffering from mental health issues, Mind reports.

There are many different types of mental illness. They can range from mild disorders lasting only a few weeks through to severe illnesses that can be life-long.

I’m James, I’m 26 and I  suffer with depression and anxiety – and have done for the last 7 years.

It’s never easy and as a male I have found it very difficult to talk about my feelings.

I’ve been on different anti-depressants, attended workshops and have had one-to-one counselling sessions.

It’s not easy being a male and living with depression.

Here are 7 things I’d like other men with depression to know.

1. It’s okay not to be okay

We spend our lives pretending that we’re okay, our behaviour patterns can change, lack of sleep, irritability and excessive consumption of addictive substances can all sometimes go unnoticed. These can be less of obvious signs of a male’s behaviour when suffering with depression.

It’s not about putting on a brave face, you don’t have to pretend everything is okay, is anything ever okay?

(Picture: costculator.com/http://costculator.com/best-rowing-machine-reviews)

2. It won’t make you any less of a man

Still in today’s society men are depicted as ‘strong and manly’. I’ll always remember as a little kid someone telling me ‘boys don’t cry’.

Why shouldn’t they?

People deal with their emotions differently, some get angry, some lash out and become violent, some become withdrawn and some cry.

Having depression does not make you any less of a man. In fact I think it makes you a bigger man for accepting that you’re not coping.

3. Showing emotion does not make you weak

Emotion is a natural thing, it is not a sign of weakness, happiness is an emotion, excitement is an emotion, sadness is too an emotion.

It’s okay to have a cry, it’s okay to admit you’re struggling. We all show emotion in different ways.

(Picture: magnolialux/Flickr)

4. It’s actually more common than you think

Believe it or not there’s actually other men out there who feel the same, depression can be less noticeable in men as it can present itself differently.

5. You are never alone

There are so many people who are going through the same as you, sometimes it’s hard reaching out but their are many organisations who offer free services, helplines, web programs etc to support you with your depression.

(Picture: Guilherme Yagui/Flickr)

6. It’s never to late to ask for help

Asking for help is a good sign, it’s never too late, whether you’re asking a friend or a partner or a medical professional, these are all steps in the right direction.

It may not be easy to start off with and you may feel like not saying anything but it will help.

When suffering with depression or any mental illness support from professionals, your friends and family is invaluable.

7. It’s important to find the right medication/support

I have tried numerous anti-depressants and I am currently taking a dose of 150mg of an anti depressant called Sertraline .

I’ve tired others in the past and they haven’t worked, I would sometimes just shrug off going in for a review as I’d never been good talking about my past and my depression.

It’s all about finding the right support plan for you, whether it’s anti depressants, support sessions or one-to-one counselling, there are so many resources to access.

Please remember that it’s okay to be a man a suffer with depression, it doesn’t make you any less of a man.

We are all in this together.

(Picture: g_cowan/Flickr)
If you are struggling with your mental health and need support, please contact your GP or The Samaritans http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/

Words by James Conlon 

This mental health-themed jewellery is the perfect way to spread vital awareness

We need to get our hands on these.

Etsy store Still Here Dancing is owned by a girl named Jordan, and aims to shed light on mental illness through various pieces of jewellery.

From rings to necklaces, Jordan makes it all. While some pieces are simply decorated, others feature inspiring quotes so that the customer has a constant reminder of happiness.

Jordan was inspired to start the store after receiving her own diagnosis’ of mental illness.

She said: ‘I was inspired to start crafting and jewellery making for two reasons: 1. As an adjunct to my website, stillheredancing.com, to put positive messages onto art to help spread hope and support for mental illnesses.’

Jordan’s jewellery can cost anywhere between £12 – £25, though the uniqueness of the pieces make it worth it.

In fact, Jordan has already had a number of happy customers – especially as Jordan allowed them to customise their jewellery at no extra cost.

Through her jewellery, Jordan hopes to spread ‘hope, positivity, and awareness of mental health.’

And we believe she’s achieving the above wonderfully. Take a look for yourself at the photos below.

** new items added to the Etsy shop! ** new silver & gold laser-engraved charm necklaces added! Also- mountain necklaces are back in stock! ✨ Use coupon code "HOLIDAY10" for 10% off any purchases of $15 or more! Expires Dec. 26. ✨ Shop Now ➡️ StillHereDancingShop.Etsy.com • @stillheredancingshop • •❃• 【 #stillheredancing #stillheredancingshop #etsy #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #semicolon #lotus #serotonin #strength #hope #peace #love #davematthewsband #jewelry #dmbjewelry #dreamingtree #lovejewelry #vintagejewelry #mentalhealthjewelry #mermaidjewelry #druzyjewelry #handstamping #metalstamping #bottlecapjewelry #happypills #handmadejewelry #customjewelry #customhandstamping #recoverywarrior 】✨

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How I manage to work a full-time job while suffering with ulcerative colitis

Working while suffering with inflammatory bowel disease is a full-time job in itself.

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis back in 2012.

I’d been working for Hotel Chocolat since I was 16 and I was building my career.

Little did I know how much of a struggle I would find it holding down a full-time job while suffering from a chronic illness, which, I suppose, is full time too.

I had no idea what was happening to me. I’d accepted a promotion at work and I was on holiday with my family, which will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst holidays of my life.

I barely left the room, I was in pain, constantly going to the toilet and losing a lot of blood.

All of this coincided with me start my new role as Assistant Manager. But I’d worked so hard to get to where I was and I wasn’t ready to cave in.

Each day was unpredictable, at the time, I hadn’t even been diagnosed and my appearance was changing, I was dropping weight rapidly, I’d even been asked if I was eating anything at all.

Need to buy some new trousers. #weightloss

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It all happened pretty quickly, I just remember constantly running to the toilet and I had a few occasions where I didn’t quite make it in time.

Accidents do happen, unfortunately.

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t exactly been easy trying to hold down a full-time job, there are times when I’ve wanted to give up, resign and concentrate on my health.

No day is the same, working anywhere poses a challenge but working in retail can sometimes be physically and mentally draining.

I’ve been pretty lucky in the respect that when I’ve needed to be hospitalised or attend an urgent appointment everyone has been understanding and gone out of their way to help me.

I can usually manage some of the symptoms like the constant urgency, leaky bum etc but it’s the fatigue that hits me the hardest.

I wouldn’t be able to manage as well as I do if it wasn’t for the understanding of my work colleagues both past and present.

Miss my northern HC buddies @chrisjfenton @annabelhyde @kayleigh.pollard #hotelchocolat

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Sometimes they haven’t truly understood the complex nature of the disease but it can be incredibly hard to understand when you don’t have any experience of it.

I’m approaching my first year of store management and it hasn’t been easy but I wasn’t willing to let my disease ruin my career.

I have the most understanding and incredible team behind me and for that I am truly thankful.

I genuinely wouldn’t be able to do it without them.

Hotel Chocolat isn’t just a job for me it’s a family!

Words by James Conlon 

8 brilliant fashion tips for any woman who has a stoma bag

1. High waisted ANYTHING is a god send when you have an ostomy bag.

Having surgery to form a stoma can be hard-hitting on even the strongest of people.

For those who are unaware, a stoma is a part of your bowel that is brought out of your abdomen, and releases waste into an ostomy bag which is placed over the stoma daily.

There are many reasons for needing a stoma, be that a perforated bowel, bowel cancer or commonly, inflammatory bowel disease.

The changes that take place on your body after ostomy surgery are phenomenal – being that should you have lived with debiliating symptoms because of your illness, you will begin to feel much better.

But of course, it does take some time to get used to having the bag and for some, to accept it. For some, a visible change on the body is hard to accept. And it can really affect for body confidence.

Women may worry that they’re not attractive any more or that they will struggle to find anything comfortable to wear – but this is simply not the case.

Which is exactly why we’ve compiled a list for the ladies with an ostomy, on things that are absolutely amazing to wear when you have a stoma.

1. High waisted ANYTHING is a god send when you have an ostomy bag, whether it’s high waisted underwear to high waisted jeans! It smooths your tummy down and makes things a lot more comfortable.

#ostomy #lingerie

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2. Waistbands are a must-have when you have an ostomy bag as they hold you in all the right places and smooth the bag down. They’re also great for preventing hernias.

3. Peplum or wrap dresses for special occasions flatter the tummy area and hide your bag Incase you’re worried of wind in the bag or it showing. Basically – if you need a stunning disguise, this is it!

4. A trend that never really goes out of style is the ‘ruched’ style tops and dresses as they’re slimming. The way the material falls means that your bag is perfectly hidden.

5. Stoma bag covers are amazing as they make you feel that little bit more confident with a bag. Stoma covers are covers that go onto the bag to cover the contents of the bag showing or just the nude bag itself. You can go all out with a wacky pattern or stay minimalist with just one colour. If you can’t find someone who makes them on social media or personally you could always try and make them yourself!

Pooh bag

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6. Everyone is different but if you’re not comfortable with wearing jeans and having the button there annoying you, jeggings are the best alternative to jeans. Super comfy with an elasticated waist for that extra comfort.

7. When swimming, tankinis are very flattering – but if you’re into the full swimsuit a ruched style swimsuit or a wrap style is great. If you’re confident with wearing a bikini and having your bag on show then that’s amazing – but you can also always get lovely high waisted bikinis if not.

Was dead proud of myself this day

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8. Accessory wise if I have somewhere nice to go I love using a clutch style handbag as I like to hold it over my bag and by my waist especially when wearing a tighter outfit.

Words by Danielle McCormack

I’ve spent my life trying to be liked – and now I think it’s time to be selfish

Maybe I just need to learn how to be alone, without feeling lonely.

I’m that friend who constantly second guesses themselves. The one who isn’t sure what real friendship is anymore.

The over-analysation of the situation can destroy any friendships I have.

The one main issue I have with my friendship is I expect so much from other people. I’m a pretty supportive person, but when that’s not reciprocated it feels awful.

I’d always thought friendship was based on support. On understanding. About being there for one another.

But obviously I’ve been proved wrong.

There is never just one individual person in these situations, it’s a problem I seem to have with every single friendship.

#lazyday #sleepy

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The friendship seems okay for a while, we can have a laugh and a joke and open up to each other – but all of a sudden it just turns sour, and I can never work out why. I give, and I give, and I give. Maybe my expectations are just too high?

Maybe I’m wanting too much out of the friendship. Maybe I’m too overbearing, too needy.

Though I’d love to have a friend as caring as me.

I’ve always been that guy who struggles to make friends – especially because of who else I’ve chosen to be friends with. It seems people really won’t attempt to get along just to make the situation easier.

And, people think because you associate yourself with someone that that’s a friendship, but for me it isn’t.

I’m pretty open about my life, my illnesses (I have a diagnosis of both inflammatory bowel disease and depression) and I don’t really keep much private.

I’ll often talk about my battles on social media as a way of release, and in return lots of people will ‘like’ and comment – even strangers that I don’t know.

This therefore leads people to believe that I’m popular or that I’m not short of friends and will always have lots of people fighting my corner.

But for me it’s the opposite, the intensity of trying to keep all of these ‘friends’ can destroy someone, who do you trust? Who’s actually your friend?

I just feel that a friendship is a personal bond between two people. Or at least, it should be.

If a friend was in a bad place, I would be there for them through thick or thin. To return the friendship, I expect the same. But it never seems to happen. I always seem to feel so alone when I’m at my lowest.

I tend to bottle up my feelings and let it eat away at me until I eventually stop speaking to everyone.

Even people that have done nothing wrong – the paranoia of ‘Do they even like me?’ has just set in too strongly for me to bear.

Do I look ill to you? Probably not…. Am I? Yes I am…. you can't physically see my illness or pain. You don't see the aching joints, the terrible stomach pain and the never ending toilet trips. You don't see the illness taking a toll on my mental health. You see what you think is a healthy 25 year old man. You don't see those days where I'm physically unable to get out of bed. Inflammatory Bowel Disease is an invisible currently incurable illness. Yes, I have Ulcerative Colitis….. sometimes it has me. To those of you out there fighting IBD and any invisible illness, I salute you- the determination and strength it takes to get through each day. The 'I'm okay" answer when you are far from okay, the faked smile to hide your pain. You're never alone- there's someone somewhere who knows exactly what you're going through. Keep strong ❤ #inflammatoryboweldisease #crohnsdisease #ulcerativecolitis #invisibleillness #IBD

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I have this little voice in my head that’s telling me to believe the dark, paranoid thoughts – to believe that no one wants to be my friend, to be offended by them not talking to me or including me.

I’ve spent my life trying to be liked, but maybe it’s just not meant to be.

Maybe it’s time I was selfish and stopped worrying about what other people think of me.

Maybe it’s time I learn how to feel comfortable with just myself without the need for my phone to continuously buzz with messages or notifications.

Maybe I just need to learn how to be alone, without feeling lonely.

Words by James Conlon