Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Vulnerability is okay

Vulnerability is something that growing up we are told is a sign of weakness. So we all go through life trying to appear as okay as possible. But sometimes, that act is too hard to keep up and so the walls we have built come crashing down and left to the world is a vulnerable, small, and often frightened self. This is what happened to me two weeks ago. 

*Trigger warning, I will be discussing suicidal thoughts and self harm. Also for Emetophobes, I do discuss my fear of being sick*

My blog has recently taken a different direction but I think it is still important for me to be honest and raw, so that is exactly what this post is. Things haven't been great recently. My anxiety has probably been the worst it has ever been. I knew it was normal to some extent to feel anxious about moving abroad and so I just worked through each anxiety attack and persevered. But within days of arriving in France to begin my year abroad I knew this was so much bigger than just being anxious. In fact, whatever this was was huge! After having felt violently sick for weeks, teary and in general very fragile and after having been to the doctors to have my physical health checked, where everything was fine. I realised that this was my Emetophobia and anxiety that had become a very big monster. I was scared of my own body and it is one of the worst feelings I had ever felt. 

As the waves of sickness continued to roll by, soon I found dark suicidal thoughts flooding my brain as I felt completely out of control of my mind and body. For the first time in my life I began to fear what I would do to myself. I was fully conscious that I didn't actually want to die. I knew that there were amazing opportunities left still to live and that I didn't want to leave my family behind to process my death. However, I equally knew that I could no longer live feeling this level of unavoidable fear. Feeling sick filled my body with a panic as though someone was holding a gun to my head. (Sounds dramatic I know, but this is what a fear this strong feels like and suicide felt like the only way to escape it.) So in order to deal with feeling sick on a daily basis, (which was 100% due to anxiety not because anything was actual wrong with me) I began to self harm again. I resorted back to old behaviours in an attempt to survive more days filled with this crippling fear. I was stuck in this weird parallel of being so frightened I wanted out but also at times feeling so blessed at being on my year abroad, surrounded by beautiful scenery and a different culture that I wanted nothing more than to cherish those moments and live a normal life. One that wasn't filled with body scans, safety seeking behaviours and panic.

But one day it all became too much, I couldn't keep these feelings to myself. Daily breakdowns and this level of fear left me unable to deal with my continued desire to check out of life. So I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I messaged my mum explaining everything. We then had what must have been for her an incredibly difficult conversation and I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must be to hear your daughter who is in another country say that she wants to die. 

But this vulnerability was needed in order for me to eventually find a little speck of hope and strength to fight through. Being vulnerable is incredibly difficult. It is hard to be brutally honest knowing that the truth will hurt people but it is also so liberating. I was no longer carrying this weight around, someone else knew. Someone else had tried to understand my pain and my fear. Being vulnerable is a state that as humans we try to avoid, as it leaves us open to judgement, but being vulnerable with the right people will only ever result in a positive outcome. 

The day after the difficult phone call with my mum and after a few tweets about my Emetophobia, I received an email inviting me to an Emetophobia bootcamp in Cambridge with Rob Kelly, the creator of the Thrive programme and who has cured many Emetophobes, teaching people how to live the best possible life that they can. This was my chance, it was a sign of hope. So I flew back to the UK to attend this two day programme and wow did I learn a lot. (I will do a separate post about the Thrive programme and my journey soon). But through this programme I was given a realistic source of hope. I was shown that this fear doesn't exist, that it is just a product of my mind and in the same way that I had created it years ago I can uncreate it. 

It's now been a week since the bootcamp and my fear is still present, as this is no quick fix. I still have plenty of work to do on myself but I have hope, and I think as long as you have hope then anything is possible. However, had I not been vulnerable and honest this opportunity would never of found me and i'd rather not think about what would have happened had I not allowed myself to be raw. 

Being vulnerable is okay. Never feel shame in being in your rawest state, it can be ugly and messy but there is only one way from rock bottom and that is up. 


  1. Amazing post! I completely agree with you, when we're honest with the right people, it can only help. I'm so glad you were able to find hope in the midst of all this. Can't wait to read all about the Thrive programme ! Love you xx