Therapy isn't a dirty word

I love America's no bullshit attitude towards therapy. That American banker walking down Wall Street? She's seen her therapist twice a week for the past three years. Her yoga teacher goes once a month to offload about his wife's OCD and his worries about wanting to paint his toe nails. The yoga teacher's postman is also into his second week of therapy after being recommended one by a friend who'd suffered from crippling grief after the death of a loved one too. 

If I hadn't made them up, they'd probably all have one thing in common. They wouldn't be ashamed to admit that they're in therapy.

I was listening to a podcast of Leandra Medine’s recently and she ever so casually dropped a reflection from her therapist on her behaviour. There was no hesitation. I doubt she even blinked.

While stigma around mental health is slowly on the decline in the UK, no one seems to be talking about the options for those suffering. We’re getting our heads around the idea that that confident person we know, who seems to have their shit together way better than we do, might actually be going through hell internally BUT we haven’t spoken much about how we’re going to try and help fix it. 

Understanding problems are part of the path of recovery but understanding isn’t enough.

If you've been reading the site for a while, you'll already know that I suffered from and was in therapy for anorexia as a teenager for years. During this time I learnt that very few parents want their children to be friends with a kid with demons - they’re scared they might rub off. As an adult looking back now, I can see the stigma surrounding mental health while I was sick was debilitating. 

Fast-forward 6 years from hitting my 'goal weight' to writing that piece for NYLON (that I’ve mentioned a fair few times, I know) and I received nothing but wonderful words and support from far and wide. Lucky for us, 2017 is a very different world to 2010.

So, why is therapy still such a dirty word? Putting yourself into therapy means admitting that you need help and you are ready to make changes - how this can be seen as anything less than positive is beyond me.

Halfway through last year, I went back to therapy. I even went back to the same therapist who I stopped seeing 7 years ago. It wasn’t anything to do with eating; aside from clearing that up, I don’t think the reason why I went back is important to share. What’s important is that I reached a point where I could no longer continue to lean on my friends or cope by myself and live my best life. Once I admitted this to myself and sought help, it was very clear that I should have gone back years before I did - I could have saved myself from doing a lot of things I’m not proud of and kept people around me from a lot of unnecessary grief. 

Obviously it’s different for every person -  plus, it's worth noting that I’m prone to brutally honest over sharing, which makes therapy that bit easier - but it took all of three long and painful sessions to draw stark clarity on a few issues I’d been trying to cope with for the best part of three years.

So, how do you know when to seek professional help? 

The likelihood is that if you’re reading this post looking for answers, now is the time. 

It is never too early to ask for help - but sometimes we need the obvious laid out in front of us before we can see it transparently. 

If you're at the beginning of your recovery journey, or just need someone fresh to talk over a problem with, Time To Change is a great place to start out. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999 or get in contact with your local 24 hour crisis team for emergency treatment in the UK.


The difference between skiing Europe to skiing Japan? Where do I begin.

The rumours are true; I've never seen or skied more perfectly, powdery snow than the snow in Japan.

My skiing capabilities are fairly average and for that I apologise; Hakuba's notorious black runs were wasted on me and swerved in favour of wider, flatter ones. There's no shortage of red runs that connect seamlessly with blues, taking you on a tour around the mountain. 

If you swerve a little off-course, which I dared to do for the first time, the snow is more or less untouched and more exquisite than my imagination had ever allowed me to imagine.

At the foot of Hakuba’s eleven ski resorts lies Wandano, a small village that plays host to the majority of Hakuba Valley’s skiers in the winter, and hikers in the summer.

We began our Japanese adventure at Happo One, a mere ten minute walk from our doorstep. Free shuttle buses are also available for those unwilling to walk in their heavy boots to the gondola lift that’s the gateway to the summit of the mountain.

There’s something magical about the ride up to a mountain you’ve never skied before; you can leave last season’s tumbles and wet arses behind as you ascend to new heights, all while imagining what awaits above. People in the village below become nothing more than tiny specks. As you climb higher, a frosty draft seeps into the gondola lift hitting your cheeks with a freshness that’s reserved solely for the mountains.

Someone once told me that skiing is just like riding a bike - I couldn’t help but picture my bike 3000m high, brakes failing and it soaring over the edge.

Now older and (somewhat questionably) wiser, I realise fear is the only thing that holds me back. I faced my first black run a few years ago but I can still feel the instantaneous heaviness of my feet, and the knots in my stomach, gluing me to that spot at the top of the mountains. The fear was debilitating. Yet here I am; I made it to tell the tale. 

Finding my feet seems to take less time each time. On the first day, we were breaking for ramen before I knew it with more than a handful of successful runs under my belt.

By the end of the final day on the slopes, and one catastrophic but hilarious tumble down a slope later, I couldn’t imagine skiing anywhere else.

Japan > Europe.

All photographs were taken on my Google Pixel phone* and edited with Adobe Photoshop.

twenty seventeen

Above - Stussy swimsuit & my only activity until leaving Australia - buy similar here.

I was making plans with a friend recently - she's always snowed under with her high-pressure and ever time consuming job, meaning it's fairly challenging to get hold of her - when she messaged saying, “I hope skiing is amazing. I’m stalking you all the time. Or when I do have time which is on the bus to work.” 

Obviously, I thought nothing of it.

As the next few days passed, quite a few of the texts, instagram DMs, whatapps, (etc...) I received told me how “amazing” Japan looked. Agreed - skiing in Japan this month was amazing and then some. 

But as I sat back and began to overthink life, as my brain believes that it must, I realised barely any asked if I liked it, what I’d done and if I was having a good time. Me being me (i.e. paranoid and solipsistic), at first, I more or less assumed that my mates hated me and their uninterest was a sign of our friendships fizzling. It made me feel incredibly lonely. 

Instead of enjoying the incredible place I was lucky to be in, I spent one of the seven days in Japan worrying about having only a few friends who cared enough to ask how I was beyond what they saw on my Instagram feed.

I took a moment and began to rationalise. Cue some analysis of my own behaviours. I’d literally just opened Facebook to see a photo of a girl from school getting married. I haven’t spoken to her for years, yet I gave her wedding photo a ‘like’ without much thought.

Last year, I found out about one of my good friend’s engagements via Facebook too - I’m one of four bridesmaids at her wedding next month. 

I was no better.

Instead of picking up the phone, or even a simple text message, it’s become normal to keep track of our friends, their life milestones and their wellness via social media.

Like most people, I don’t post most of my hardest days or deepest fears. The majority of things that keep me up at night will never appear within these pages or an Instagram caption. Like most bloggers, I also leave out a lot of happy moments and important people who make my life what is. I prefer these just for myself and those I share it with in the present. 

My main goal for 2017 is to practice what I’m preaching. 

I want to be more involved in my friends’ lives offline because there's only a certain extent to which your relationships can be lived and felt via the internet. 

The internet offers huge support networks and connects people all over the world but it isn’t going to hug you when you’re upset, bring you a bowl of soup when you’re sick or kiss you on the forehead before you go to sleep. 

Happy New Year and see you in 2017 x


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