Mental health is valid, important and deserves attention #NoNormal
Libby discusses body confidence, self esteem and how everyone's normal is different
I’m Libby and I’m 17 years old. I have lived in the same town, in the middle of nowhere, for my whole life. I’m currently studying for my A Levels, and pursue my love of illustration via my Instagram account.
In pursuit of self-love, body positivity and acceptance
I draw and post images of fat, naked, marginalised, ‘ugly’ bodies in all their unique glory and celebrate them. As somebody who experiences body image issues and crippling self-esteem, I wanted to see these bodies represented in the media in a positive light, for once. Since I started my account, I’ve amassed over 6000 followers in pursuit of self-love, body positivity and acceptance.
Normal for one person may be extraordinary for another
A group of people can have a shared goal or common interest, but their similarities may end there. Everyone has their own conceived idea of what normal is, which is contradictory in itself. We could all define the word in loosely the same terms, but the images and feelings it evokes differ hugely. Normal is intrinsically not normal all.
I’ve had self confidence issues for a long time
With my Instagram account, I wanted to create a safe space to explore body acceptance without risking the judgement of others. My body has never looked ‘good’ and I’ve never been ‘cool’. I had crooked teeth at school and was bullied for how wonky they made my face look. The rest of me has never looked quite ‘right’ by society’s standards either. This lack of confidence has led to anxiety, and a bad relationship with food and exercise that I’ve never been able to shake off.
I was never ‘ill enough’
I never went to a doctor about it. It was an exhausting cycle, and ultimately manifested itself into pure self loathing. I can only credit the fact that I’m still here, and doing better, to my friends and family, who listened to me and made me feel less afraid about what I was feeling. I think, during those bad times, we all helped each other in some way or another.
I’m so apathetic it’s hard to feel human
I still struggle on a daily basis and sometimes feel inadequate. The onslaught of ‘thinspo’ all over social media, the fat jokes and adverts featuring only conventionally beautiful women give me a gut wrenching feeling of inadequacy. Some days I wake up and wish I hadn’t. It’s isolating, exhausting and frustrating.
Social media has helped me a lot
I’ve met people with similar concerns and struggles. We help each other. Of course, there are bad sides to everything. Sometimes I am faced with hateful comments, but I don’t let them affect me. Sometimes it’s even empowering to face up to these people in a respectful manner and argue my point. Other times it’s a lot easier to just hit the ‘block’ button. Social media has helped me to grow as a person, a business, and part of an increasingly popular movement. I get a great sense of purpose from helping people and creating things, and I don’t think I’d trade that for anything.
Mental health affects people differently
I’ve noticed that whilst two people can have the same diagnosis – for example, anxiety – it can affect them in entirely different ways. One person may experience it sporadically and unpredictably, whilst another may recognise their triggers and be able to plan accordingly. Mental health, no matter how it presents itself, is valid and important and deserves attention. In this way, those who are involved with mental health – be it people with mental illness or those who try and help sufferers – are united in the fight, but completely unique in their own experiences.
I try to make a positive difference in people’s lives
I used to think mental health was uncommon and exotic. This changed when someone close to me admitted she self harmed. I’ve equipped myself with as much knowledge as possible to help the people who have confided in me. Through my research, experience and learning I’ve become a lot less candid when I talk about mental health. It is no longer an alien concept to me. I no longer associate it with feelings of shame and shock.
You deserve help and to feel better
If you’re experiencing poor mental health, I think it’s important to stress the fact that you aren’t the first person, and won’t be the last, to feel the way you do. You aren’t strange, or weak, or alien. You’re you. And you deserve help and to feel better. You deserve to be able to confide in somebody you trust. You deserve to be happy, and you will be. You’re going to be okay.
Updated on 23-Oct-2018
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