Suicide: It’s Time to Talk

Hello people who still read this blog, I’m still shocked to hear that people do. I hope your winters have been okay and the dark evenings haven’t been too much. I’m still at drama school doing my module on the Maids and next week will finish for reading week. Sadly it’s not much time off for such a massive amount of time in class but I’ll have to make it work. I’m going to say for this that there is a Trigger Warning for this post so please don’t continue if talking about suicide upsets you.

I’ll be honest, my mental health has been on a pretty level low as of late. Whilst cutting down on beer instead I have been eating more and exercising less which has been a real downplay on my self esteem. Again with the winter months my desire to be lazy has been pretty strong, along with this the return of my suicidal thoughts has been a downer on everything. At age 13 I began to have these thoughts and didn’t realise that suicidal thoughts and obsessions weren’t ‘normal’ years later. Everyday I see posts about teens who have committed suicide and comments from teens saying they are going to commit suicide. In one day suicide of teens was mentioned five times just from Facebook which is concerning.

Living with suicidal thoughts in the back of my mind isn’t easy, and yet here I am. For me the breaking down of the irrational thoughts has kept me alive and the genuine consequences of that action to the point of tears. Here is a general list of things I remember to help me through, whilst they may seem dark they may help save a life:

1: Thinking of my parents having to plan my funeral, never getting to see me graduate or fulfil my dreams

2: My friends having to attend that funeral and look back on the times we had, knowing there will never be anymore

3: My boyfriend and how much it would hurt him

4: My dog never understanding why I never came home

5: Never getting to see my younger family members grow up

6: Leaving behind the things I wanted to do with my life

Thinking of this stuff brings me to tears, and makes me realise how much I have to live for, because there always is. If you are feeling suicidal please remember you are loved and reach out to someone or call 116 123 for the Samaritans who run 24 hours a day. Suicide is an epidemic for young people, but we can do this.

You are loved,

Gabby

It’s photos like this that make me smile with so many memories ❤️

Believing the Delusion

Hello again, I’ve had a bit of a longer break as I have just finished my Devising module which was 12 hour days Monday to Friday (am still exhausted!). Today we were supposed to start our new module but unfortunately a lot of our tutors are unwell so hopefully we start tomorrow.

Whilst the 12 hour process was exhausting, it was also very fun! I really loved my group and our dynamic and was really proud of our devised piece. Whilst there were some lows, they mainly erupted last weekend. I’m always one to turn something good into something bad, the happiness I retain is quickly overtaken by ‘Your happiness is not worth what you have done, you should be disappointed.’ I am a perfectionist in a perfection less job and it’s exhausting.

During Devising I was so distracted I didn’t realise how deluded I was becoming. My bad thoughts had slowly taken over to the point I 100% believed I was worthless and a waste of space, so much that I wasn’t even sad about it, it was just ‘true’. That’s a dangerous place to be. The thing that saved me was reaching out and not letting it continue. An outside perspective can help rationalise those thoughts and get you back to reality (as said by Eminem).

Whilst it seems my whole time here has been filled with rises and pitfalls, I have no intention on giving in. My mind may never be ‘healed’ but I will never let it stop me from doing what I love.

Sleep well

Gabby

Picture of how we decorated the stage, hundreds of bags not including our plastic bag hand puppets.

Pushing Yourself Above and Beyond

Hello all, hope you are having a good start to your week. As this is being published, I am most likely still in my college completing my 12 hour Devising day and getting ready to go into my pyjamas and pass out. From Monday to Friday last week, my group and I have been exploring devising with games from 9am-9pm, something which I never thought I would be capable of and yet here I am, still on the course and not expelled for laziness.

My mental limits have always been an issue for me, the ‘Can’t do’ and ‘No way in hell’ statements still ring in my ears to this day. As a child it was the same with athletics championships where my worst enemy was myself. If anything causes me more than mild discomfort, the doubting side of me starts talking and the work becomes harder. Yet here I am, alive and well after five days of hard work and games. Nothing is harder than having a loud doubting voice and it’s hard to shake.

One key thing for me was knowing when to break to keep sane, letting yourself have some time and rewarding the self. For an introvert, hours with people is extremely draining so I have allowed myself to drink some coffees to keep me going. Additionally talking to my group members has raised my confidence, so being open about my mind and state helps pick me up and get me working. Knowing the final limit is so important, but most limits we face are false, much like hurdles in a race, and soon I won’t have as many hurdles.

See you on the other side

Gabby

An example of a bag outfit we completed last week, so many bags in our piece.

My Biggest Fear

All of us have fears, fears maybe like that of spiders, heights, the dark, death etc. All of these are perfectly normal to have and nothing to be ashamed of. One of my fears however almost brings tears to my eyes and something I try not to talk about, one I’m ashamed of. It’s my fear of mediocrity, of only being a joke to people and nothing more.

The ‘m’ word is one I use a lot for myself, to hurt myself and put me down. In my head there is nothing worse than being mediocre, because at least if you fail you are remembered for something. It’s a pattern in my mind that is almost impossible to revoke and follows me in everything such as: ‘I’m a mediocre actor’ or ‘My singing is just mediocre for what it should be’ and one day it will be too late to change that thought pattern. The worst part is confiding this fear to someone, because they will think I’m attention seeking or get annoyed. You can never truly win.

I know there are other people who feel the same, who may have that low view of themselves and I want them to know they aren’t alone. I wish I had a cure or something to help, but it’s all linked to self image. It’s again admitting you have a problem with self image and that your view of yourself isn’t the only one. That false view can be challenged, and mine is a long road ahead of the ‘not good enough’ voice and the Grammar school mindset I’m stuck in. I’m hoping it can change with work, but I’m not expecting massive steps in a short time.

Stick along me for the journey if you want!

Gabby

Currently in the middle of 12 hour days at Rose, loving the games and group but hating the exhaustion and mental gymnastics.

Taking Breaks and Medication

Hello people who still read my blog! Hope you’ve had a good few weeks, if not I hope the following days will be much better for you. This was the first Christmas my family have spent away from home and it was pretty nice, something about the ocean air helped clear my mind.

One thing that has been plaguing me recently is the concept of a ‘break’. This is my first holiday in a while where my school has not dumped piles of work onto me for Christmas and it feels strange, wrong almost. Where is the pure guilt and anxiety that usually accompanies my Christmas? Then I realised it’s actually a break, a time to just relax, develop myself and skills and that I shouldn’t feel guilty about that. Humans are so preoccupied with ‘doing things’ and ‘not being lazy’ that we forget to let ourselves just ENJOY things. Don’t let yourself be consumed for what should be a time to recharge and recollect.

It has also occurred to me how bad my lifestyle is this Christmas (I’m sure I’m not the only one). I’ve been on medication so long I’ve used it as an excuse for bad living habits and not trying to better myself. At this moment I have decided to try and wean myself off of medication but with a change in lifestyle. Things like: better diet, exercise and yoga, meditation etc. Being a student with a good diet may be hard, but in the long run I hope for it to change my outlook and get me off medication for the first time in two years. One thing I will try to keep in mind that I may slip back onto them and to not shame myself, take a breath and wait until I am ready.

Drink more water (more a note to self here)

Gabby

Here is my first Bob Ross painting, I’ve gotten back into art and it has been helping me through this holiday 🙂

The Imposter Syndrome: An Actor’s Guide

Hello all I have returned!!! This week has been packed with classes, rehearsals and shows and I can successfully say I have completed my first semester of drama school! I am so proud of myself for making it through these past few weeks and am ready for some lie ins and relaxing.

I’ve been wanting to write about this issue for months now but I never has a word to describe the feeling. Then a few weeks ago and actor I knew posted a video about ‘The Imposter Syndrome’ and it all made sense. The imposter syndrome is when a person is successful but has doubts about their accomplishments/fears they will be exposed as a fraud. I’m sure most people may have experienced this at some point and wanted to talk about it and how it relates to theatre.

Through actor’s lives, we are told ‘getting into drama school is soooo hard and you’ll probably get rejected.’ This is what I was told hundreds of times, yet still decided to go for a few. After a few rejections, I thought it was over until my last who accepted me. My joy was so explosive I couldn’t speak, it wasn’t long however until I doubted it. ‘What if they made a mistake? It could be an admin error. Their acceptance rate must be so high to accept someone like me.’ This was so irritating, it felt like I was an imposter to the school, that I didn’t belong to this group of talented ex-National Theatre and Fringe performers.

(https://www.executiveforum.com/leaders-defeat-imposter-syndrome/)

The excuses continued even to the point of only recently. It got to the point where the tutors had to literally tell everyone ‘you belong here’ and have one of them tell me ‘we aren’t going to kick you out.’ It was so irrational yet so rational in my mind that it got in the way of the enjoyment of it. One famous person who suffered the imposter syndrome was Albert Einstein, a man internationally recognised for his intelligence and yet believed he was fraudulent.

I’m not trying to be ungrateful for my place, I love where I am, but if something good happens in your life then let it happen. Yes sometimes schools are hard to get into and grades hard to achieve, but people get in and people get the grades. Why can’t that one person one day be you?

Have a good Christmas break! (Apologies to those who don’t have them)

Gabby

Gonna miss this new tapestry I got, makes my room feel less blank.

Schools: How They Fail the Students and Teachers

Hello all, yes I’m still alive and I am very much looking forward to having time off for Christmas. Drama school is quite full on now and the dark weather is not helping the feelings of isolation, but I know I’ll make it through.

Over the last week my mum went on the radio to talk about me as a child and how I was bullied by a teacher. Not only a teacher, but the Special Needs Coordinator which brought back a lot of memories of my school life and how I was treated. My biggest fear wasn’t the girls themselves, but actually teachers. For many years I have sustained a fear of being picked out by teachers and being called back from the class. I wasn’t one for the rules, but was terrified of the repercussions and punishments.

I would love to speak to any person who said that school punishment ‘helped’ their behaviour or that they learned anything. It’s a system built on shame, shaming those students who don’t fit into little educational boxes or who cannot sit still for hours at a time.

But why is this? Because teachers themselves are under pressure. From my old school they used to have competitions on which subject had the most A*s (used to be textiles that won, but the teacher was really rude and strict). Teachers have to plan up to 5 classes a day, take those classes and mark the work that was set for a terrible wage. If their students don’t do well, then they could be punished and lose their job.

It’s a triangle of hierarchy where punishment is the easiest way to get results, where the arts are neglected because they don’t yield as many higher grades and there’s no solid mark scheme. I love to learn, but I’m so happy my school days are behind me, I’m just disappointed how the system is only getting worse rather than better.

Maybe we can change this… any ideas?

From a contemplating Gabby