The Secret Illness.

Although most of my blog posts here on meganmonroes are about make up and vintage fashion styles, other topics such as Mental Health Awareness are incredibly important and close to my heart.

Over the past few years I’ve spoken quite a few times about my struggles and through being so open and honest, I have met a lot of other people in the same position as well. With a physical illness, you heal the injury and most of the time move on from it, with a mental illness it’s not always so easy. Please don’t get me wrong, as someone who has had a serious operation during their life, I know that physical injury is incredibly debilitating and painful. However, I know if I could choose to have a physical or mental illness, I’d choose physical every time.

Therefore, as someone who has improved a lot in the past four years, I still have my good days and bad days and it was down to one simple tweet that I am able to make this post. I suffer pretty severely with Intrusive Thoughts, which are a type of OCD called, “Pure O”, 99% of the population have intrusive thoughts, but 25% of the population obsess over them, sadly I am in that 25%. Ever since finishing my recent Therapy, I’ve gone slightly downhill with being able to manage my intrusive thoughts as it can be a lot harder trying to get better by yourself, even when you have all the knowledge and advice. It was because of this that I decided to tweet a message asking if anyone had advice for managing intrusive thoughts, with the hashtag #pureo. After clicking on this tag I came across an amazing website called, The Secret Illness and watched the short film, “This Old Ghost” which I found incredibly powerful and moving.

Through watching this film I learnt that the basis of the story is from a poem by an OCD Sufferer, James Lloyd who has kindly shared his story to bring awareness and attention to this serious mental illness. I decided to check The Secret Illness on Facebook and to my astonishment saw that Ashton Kutcher himself has posted about the project! He added the caption, “Never judge someone else’s story until you’ve lived in their shoes.” As OCD is so often trivialized and even made fun of by the media, it’s an incredible step for Mental Health that someone as successful as Ashton is bringing awareness to such an important topic.

Sometimes it can be hard to do the littlest thing as the mind bully, (that’s what I call it) can be so controlling, I’ve often cried and felt so low and frustrated with myself that I let the thoughts get to me so much. The mind bully would be happy  if I sat in a corner and cried to myself all day, but I’m not going to let it beat me or keep control. It’s not surprising that if you suffer with one mental illness you often suffer with another, the intrusive thoughts always increase my depression and fill with me anxiety. Through finding The Secret Illness I know that there are many sufferers like me and that I’m not alone, which is what the mind bully wants. Through speaking out and being honest and open I hope I can help raise importance about the seriousness of Mental Health and help people realize that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

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Mental Health Awareness: My Story.

When most people think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD, they often think of it as a trivial issue. Possibly think of Monica in Friends, a bit of a neat freak and someone who likes things in place. I place emphasis on the word, “like”, as any sufferer will know – all the repetitions, thoughts and  compulsions are the opposite of enjoyable. However, as someone who has suffered with this form of mental illness for at least ten years, you can see how I would find that offensive. 

Without going into details, in 2011 I basically suffered a Nervous Breakdown and had to leave Sixth Form, I self taught myself for the latter part of the first year but by the second I could no longer continue with education. I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person, maybe that’s just me, but after being off school for a week with the Flu, I began to suffer with Panic Attacks. I would try and solider on into school each day and I simply couldn’t stay, it was all too much and I can’t even count the amount of things that I missed out on. My life became so bad that I was on the verge of becoming agoraphobic, stepping outside of the house was a herculean task and I rarely did. It became so  bad that I didn’t want to be here anymore.

However, fast forward to 2016 and I’m proud of to say with support, therapy and medication I’ve came along way! I’m not afraid to be honest and talk about mental health anymore, I used to be ashamed and wish I could just be one of the, “normal” people. But when I think about it, what really is normal? 

I suffer with a particular form of OCD which is commonly known as Intrusive/Obsessive Thoughts, every single person in the world has these, however for some reason I attach importance to them and feel if I don’t “neutralize” the thought e.g. repeat it mentally then I hold responsibility for what happens. Sounds crazy right? I know, just typing it and even talking about it I realize how absurd it  seems. However, the power of the mind can be a pretty strong thing, the compulsions almost become a coping mechanism and years of repetition can mean it’s incredibly hard to just shake off.

Mental Illnesses can be incredibly exhausting, I feel tired most days and often have to have a nap. The mind of an OCD sufferer is always analyzing mentally or physically, wanting reassurance and neutralizing, there are many more coping mechanisms but ultimately none of them work, they just help to continue the problem.

Through suffering with Anxiety, Depression, OCD and PTSD – although I’m a lot better with the latter now, my life hasn’t gone the average way a 22 year olds would usually go. I’ve not had a professional job, I didn’t go to University or finish Sixth Form, I’m not very independent and have quite a lot of catching up to do with other people my age. However,  I’d much rather get myself better mentally then be successful academically, from speaking out and being open about my own issues I’ve met and even helped quite a few people which I still find hard to believe.

The irony is, with any form of Mental Health Issue, you feel so alone, there is so much stigma attached to an illness which people can’t see, if you’re feeling good one day you can even feel guilty for feeling happy! However, the statistics for Mental Health are sky high and without talking about it more people will suffer in silence and that can have massive consequences.
I just wanted to write this post because today I’ve had a bit of a down day, I’ve felt down on myself for falling back into some compulsions and listening to ,”The Mind Bully” which is what I call my OCD/Depression/Anxiety. I know if someone else was telling me what I’ve been through I wouldn’t treat them the way I treat myself, for some reason I’m very hard on myself and I don’t want to be anymore, I want to be kind to myself. Mental Health Disorders are not a choice, they are both genetic and/or environmental and the sufferer should be understood and supported towards the road to recovery.

I need to keep telling myself that an Intrusive Thought is simply that – just a thought and it has no relevance or substance to whatever the future may bring. My anxiety can be incredibly debilitating but with battling through each hard task I will realize that the only thing to fear is fear itself and Depression may feel like a endless black hole but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and you don’t have to suffer in the dark. 

I hope this helps more people understand and support sufferers, at the end of the day we are just normal people who for whatever reason are going through a tough time. Please remember, just because a person may look okay – doesn’t mean they are okay.

A New Day, A New Month.

Hey guys!

On a positive, it’s now May! Which means the change of calendars, I have eight on Marilyn and one on my favourite film, Gone With The Wind. Yes, I know it’s a lot, but they sure brighten up my door and the rest of my room.

Sorry for being quiet the past couple of days, I’ve not had any fashion or makeup posts to show you as after using  a spot moisturizer, I suffered an allergic reaction on my face! It’s gone all swollen, hot, dry and red so I’ve been a bit of a mess. I was meant to be going out with my parents and their friends yesterday, I pincurled my hair for the occasion but I wasn’t up to it sadly. So the past two days I’ve had lovely curls and a not so lovely face.

I’ve also been suffering a bit more severely lately with my intrusive thoughts, OCD is such a debilitating mental illness and I truly wouldn’t wish it on anyone. After watching some youtube videos with other sufferers talking, I’ve tried to be braver and let the thoughts go, but anyone who suffers will know that it’s a lot easier said then done. Over the past years I’ve tried to be as open and honest as I can about my experiences with my mental illnesses, if you want to know more you can see here. I’m very lucky to have my mum and boyfriend especially, be so understanding and make me feel less crazy, I know I’m not – but that’s how isolating this illness can be. To learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder see here.

A short definition on OCD.

On a more positive note, I’ve recently got into the Netflix buzz and been watching shows like Breaking Bad and House Of Cards. However, until today I’d yet to have watched any films on there. As a huge lover of Old Hollywood films I was very excited to see the Classic’s Genre  and I wrote down a list of ones I’d yet to see. A couple of months ago I read Sophia Loren’s Autobiography and completely fell in love with her. She is such an incredibly beautiful woman, inside and out and since then I’ve bought three of her films on DVD.  Therefore, I was so excited when I saw Houseboat (1958) to watch! It was Sophia’s third American film, after Boy On A Dolphin (1957) and The Pride and The Passion (1957) and she stars opposite the ever so lovely Cary Grant.

Every year on tumblr I do a Film Challenge, rating all the movies I view that year and I’ve really been behind on watching any lately so I was very happy to get back into it. Seeing any Old Hollywood film with my favourites is always a joy, but this one was extra enjoyable – possibly because of the real life romance between Cary and Sophia and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves the Golden Age of Hollywood and the 1950s. I won’t say too much as I don’t want to give anything away! I will say though, that Sophia sure has a lovely voice, is there anything this woman can’t do? I think not!

Houseboat (1958)

I decided to write down the other Classic Films which caught my eye on Netflix that I hadn’t seen, so here are some recommendations;

  • His Girl Friday (1940)
  • Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)
  • The Enforcer (1951)
  • Teacher’s Pet (1958)
  • The Grass Is Greener (1960)
  • That Touch Of Mink (1962)
  • A Hard Day’s Night (1964)Here’s the films I’ve seen that are on there;
  • To Catch A Thief (1955)
  • The Children’s Hour (1961)
  • Irma La Douce (1963)

I’m also currently reading a book on Grace Kelly by James Spada, it’s the first full biography I’ve read on her and I’m really enjoying it. I’m reading an updated version from 2014, but it was originally released in 1987, a few years after her death. I’ve got a Marilyn photographic biography by him and it’s pretty good so I trust him as an author which is important. I’ve always thought Grace was a beautiful and talented lady and I’ve seen the majority of her films, (sadly, she only made eleven) so it’s wonderful to learn more about the real Grace behind her Hitchcock Blonde Persona.

One of my favourite photos of Grace for Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1955.

As soon as my face returns to normal, I hope to be back to sharing my fashion, make up and hairstyles with you all. But at least for now you can be inspired by the beautiful Sophia and Grace, I know I am!

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