Want to know why people don’t open up about struggles with their mental health?

There’s a lot going on the world right now. Some stuff is still kinda new that we’re only just learning to deal with after a few months. Other things however, have been around for a while but haven’t been given the attention they need or deserve. Until now.

If you know me in real life, you know I’m a talkative person (I’m not called Jenny Chat for nothing). However, there’s one subject I stay uncharacteristically quiet about outside of the privacy of my own home, which is mental health.

I personally find it very hard to open up about mental health struggles I’ve experienced. I feel uncomfortable about having them, I don’t want to be viewed as ‘just another statistic’, and that’s before I even start to think about how other people might treat me as a result of knowing I might be going through something. That’s just how I feel about myself, it has nothing to do with anybody else or what they’ve had to deal with.

There have been points where I’ve scraped along the bottom or my proverbial barrel in life. During those times I’ve screwed up the nerve (because talkative doesn’t equal confident folks) spoken to people in the hope of getting support, or maybe just some kind words.

Unfortunately, I got neither.

I’ve written below a handful of the resoinses I received, the ones that really stuck out for me and continue to stick with me. I’ve written these as they were said to me and without any emotion.

Former Manager, 2002.                      “Why would you think you were depressed? You’ve got a good job and a decent wage, there’s nothing wrong with your life. OK well I suppose if you’ve been told you should be signed off from work I’ll allow it this time. I expect you to ring me every couple of days to check in with me, and if you’re better soon just ignore your doctor and come back early.”

Locum GP, 2009.                                  “what do you mean you feel stressed, what you have to be stressed about? (I tell him) Oh that’s nothing; if you want to know about stress you should try doing my job. You just need to go to the library and get a book on how to relax, there’s loads of them.”

Former Manager, 2016.                       “You can’t get upset and cry un the office. Someone else in the office could’ve been really really affected because they’ve had very serious mental health problems, so we can’t have other people being upset seeing you like that”

CEO, 2017.                                                   (I wrote a letter to my manager explaining how I felt because I didn’t want to say it in person and get upset. This letter was then passed to their manager and they asked to talk to me about it) “I’ve read your letter. I’ve heard you’ve been saying stuff about wanting to crash your car so you don’t have to face work or whatever, but you’ve been here for 5 minutes. Other people who’ve been here since day dot can act a certain way, but those rules don’t apply to you.”

Counsellor, 2018.                                       “I don’t really know what to do with you here and how you can sort it out” (side note: this one has actually become a running joke in my household because of how unbelievable I found it at the time. I continued to attend sessions for several weeks, even though I received similar comments, because I thought I would be seen as a failure or not committed to improving my mental health)

GP, circa 2019.                                             “I think you should just dealing with whatever your problem is now instead of expecting me to just give you a prescription”

Hr Adviser, 2019.                                         – (After explaining I’m having a problem with a senior colleague and need some assistance in resolving). “Well, he’s like that with everybody, even me. I understand you made a complaint to your line manager about this too. Are you saying wanting to put in a formal grievance? I wouldn’t recommend this given that you’re clearly not in a good state of mind.”        – “Are you having mental health problems?” (I answer yes and say I’ve thought about crashing my car so I don’t have to go to work) “so you’re clearly not happy. You need to find something that makes you happy. And off the record, if that’s not working here…”

Hr Adviser, 2020.                                          (After explaining I’m working in a toxic environment and I’m struggling) “I know some of the things that have been said, but I’m not willing to get involved in anything to do with that department because I’m worried people will think I have some kind of personal vendetta.”

Company nurse/informal counsellor, 2020.                                                               (After explaining troubles working in a toxic work environment, and them saying they would have a think about what to advise) “I’ve spoken with the Head of HR, and they said you should be able to address things like this in your communication sessions” (I ask what kind of communication sessions) “Don’t you all have a meeting every week?” (I say yes, a meeting to relay each team member’s jobs for the week only, this is not pastoral) “Oh right, I was told you did. I dont know then.”

So if you wonder why some people don’t communicate when they’re struggling, here it is. It could be that they’re afraid of getting a negative response like one these, or it could be that they’ve mustered up the courage to open up and been met with a response just like this (as I was).

The story is this: It’s OK to not be able to empathise, understand or know what to  do. What’s not OK is deliberately choosing to be insensitive. If you can’t choose to be kind, don’t choose to be a dick instead.

Thanks for reading

J xx


I don’t know where I fit in

*This post is about body image and weight loss. Please don’t read it if you feel this may negatively affect you.*

If you’re a long time reader of my blog, or you’re a friend of mine in real life, you’ll know I’ve been through a few changes in my life. We all have I’m sure.

What you may not know is that I still don’t feel like I fit in. I don’t feel like I know what my place is, or should be in the world, because of how I look. Or because of how others feel about how I look.

A bit of a walk through the past explains the why, but not the where. Please read with an open mind and an understanding heart.

Age 5-11

I had a distinctly average looking body for my age (I’m cringing at how awful that sounds to say, but this is where the mind of childhood Jenny in the 80’s/90’s went, as well as those who looked at her) in some photos you could even argue I was fairly slim. But, not as skinny as some of my classmates it would seem, even then. Girls at my school learnt very quickly that the best way to hurt someone’s feelings was to insult their size. I was told I couldn’t play leapfrog in the playground because my ‘bum was too fat’, when I started dance class I was called ‘elephant in a tutu’ both by girls who were supposed to be my friends. Once, I was even punched in the stomach by a boy in my class.

Age 12-16

So, things got better for me at high school? Did they bollocks!

Boys were interested in girls bodies, girls knew it, and girls had further refined their weight-related insults. When I was about 13, I was with a group of friends when one said “let’s all say how much we weigh” so we went round the table, and when they got to me I told the truth (which was about 8st and I was a size 10-12). After a few moments, one of them said “oh no, Jenny is the heaviest” and they all gave me a sympathetic smile. I knew for a fact some of them had lied but didn’t say, because I didn’t want them to be embarrassed, or to look vengeful myself.

It was around this time that my Grandad started to make regular comments about my weight and how I looked. He’d recently gone on a much needed health kick, gotten fit and lost weight, and I was apparently his next target to ‘fix’. Even my mum made the odd comment – once she said if I lost enough weight over the school holidays she’d buy me a whole new wardrobe and all the boys would fancy me.

Early 20s

Came out of a serious relationship, lived alone, thought nobody cared about me, ate what I wanted and partied hard. During this time I received probably the most horrific comments I’ve ever had, some from people I didnt know. At work I was described as someone’s before image, “she looks amazing now, she looked like you before”. Someone else asked why I was so fat when I ran around busy all the time, and an older gentleman who had health related weight issues told me “we have to to be careful, people like us, fatties”. This was around the time I was newly in a relationship with the man I’m now married to and I was so worried all the time thinking ‘why the hell does he want to be with me when everyone else clearly has such a low opinion of me??’.

Mid to late 20s

I was married, had an active social life, and was (now I can look back with a more objective eye) a pretty average body size. Because I consumed too many sweet and high calorie things, towards my later 20s I decided I had to change how I looked after myself so that I could feel more positive and less lethargic. I figured making changes before I hit 30 would be easier than making them later.

Early 30s

I’d made the aforementioned changes, feeling more lively and I looked different. Quite different actually. It was the first time I’d ever been considered a ‘slim girl’ in my whole life. I went through moments of being proud of myself for making changes I felt I needed and sticking with them, actually looking in the mirror and feeling aright about myself, yet confused by how other people’s opinions of me suddenly changed.

If I posted a photo on Facebook, dozens of acquaintances would comment calling me skinny minnie and asking for my ‘secret’. In the real world I had strangers come up to me to telling me I looked good, van drivers honking their horns at me when I went for a walk. One time, a car full of blokes stopped in the middle of the street and shouted things about my arse out of the window. I’d NEVER dealt with anything like this before and I felt overwhelmed and embarrassed by it. I wasn’t doing anything to invite attention, I was just out in the world going about my life.

People were still a bit rude to me about my size, but different to before. When I’d go to check my weight and measurements (I personally found this helped track my progress) I’d be tapped on the shoulder and asked “why are you here to get weighed love, you obviously don’t belong here”. There were points when my friends weren’t particularly friendly either. They weren’t impressed that I’d stopped drinking or chose meals more carefully when I went out, and they weren’t shy about letting me know. They’d make neggy comments to me, or say our other friends looked nice but would never say it to me like they used to. They told me I was boring or acting like “a bit of a pyscho” about my eating. Even now, if I bring up my weight or how I used to look, they ‘remind’ me I was not nice to be around .

My family, on the other hand, were bloody delighted with my progress. They’d never miss an opportunity to tell me “how much better” I looked and how worried they were before that I was killing myself but were too scared to say anything. So, they’d been judging me behind my back for years? STILL my Grandad wasn’t pleased – he said I hadn’t lost enough weight and was “too wobbly”.

Mid 30s

I re-entered the world of work (after spending 5yrs at uni) and had to deal with some very toxic people. The result? Started drinking again, eating more sweet/high calorie food, my clothes didn’t fit me anymore. I felt sad that I’d undone my hard work and angry that I’d let hateful people drive me to such a low and vulnerable point. By the time they exited my life (not nearly soon enough) the rot had set in quite severely. I’d been blogging about three years at this point, yet could barely even look at myself in the mirror and before taking smiley photos to put in my posts.

This was also the time the Facebook acquaintances reappeared. This time, their opening line was usually “so what happened to you?” or “you look different now.”

No neggy comments from the family, but don’t worry, they’ll make it back…

Late 30s

And this brings us nicely to the present day. Which, to be honest, isn’t that nice.

One toxic work situation ended but I somehow found myself in another about six months later. This time it was much, much worse and lasted twice as long. I comfort ate my ass off, got the biggest I have ever been, hated myself and the rest of the world for pretty much everything. And I must’ve fallen pretty hard into the depths of despair, as I had family and a couple of friends begging me to get help. When speaking to friends about wanting to lose weight and feel more comfortable again, the response I got was “yeah definitely, but don’t go crazy like you did before. You got too skinny and it wasn’t nice.”

I gained a few ‘Furlough pounds’ as a lot of people did, and that’s when my Grandad finally decided to pipe up and let me know how disappointed he was in me. I know it’s difficult when dealing with the older generation; they have no filter or concept of how their words can be perceived, and his cut deep. Phrases such as “we need to walk you”, “So what size clothes are you wearing now?” and “I’m trying not to hurt your feelings, but you really need to do something about this” have hurt my feelings a lot. I have a mirror; I know what I’ve looked like before and I know what I look like now. I know what my goals are and how to achieve them. Behind the scenes, I may even be quietly doing just that. But you think I feel like turning into Jane Fonda after someone has ripped my self confidence a new one? No I do not.

So after reading that, do you know where I fit in? I’m not accepted by society in body type; I cant make myself or anybody else happy. I’m fresh out of ideas on how to move forward and live my life to be honest.

Thank you for making it to the end of this post, and for getting here with (hopefully still) an open mind and understanding heart. I appreciate it lots.

J xx


Surviving October

Hey friends, hope you’re all doing well. We’re all obviously going through a variety of things in our topsy turvy, midst of a global pandemic so what exactly are we allowed to do Boris lifestyles, however today I want to chat about more of a long standing concern thats rearing it’s less than attractive head in my life right now.

The autumnal slump.

For the past few years, I’ve had an extremely difficult time in the month of October (and sometimes a little beyond). I become tired, listless, depressed and emotional, basically like an extreme case of PMT for a whole 31 days. Like clockwork – September ends, October hits and within days I’m like a completely different person. I’ve never sought a specific form of diagnosis, but I imagine Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) would be the closest thing to what I seem to go through.

Each year I have braced and tried to prepare myself to no avail, however this year I seem to be winning the fight a little bit. I’m still tired and a little disinterested in life away from the office, but the depression and emotion seem to be staying at bay for now. So, what’s changed? Well, I’m in a much stronger position in life for one. I had some much needed time out during Furlough to figure out what I wanted and needed out of my life, I’ve gone headlong into a new job, am around nice people a lot more often and have plenty if things to look forward to in my life.

Simply reminding myself of the good things in my life goes a long way, however also reminding myself that sometimes I can’t win 100% of the battle is just as big a comfort. During the slightly more difficult feeling times, I aim for the small wins – small bitty tasks that take little concentration but can be taken off the to do list, or a longer repetitive task that I can just lose myself in for a few hours. Trash tv, hot shower, huge bowl of pasta, brisk walk to blow off some of the internal cobwebs, all things that reduce the effects of the slump.

If I’ve been a little absent of late; not posting as much or showing up on social media, this is the reason why. As soon as I’m reset I’ll be back on the regular with posts, pics and probably Tik Toks galore! I hope to see you then.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


It’s OK not to be OK, but is it OK not to want to talk about not being OK?

If you made it through the tong twisting title, thanks for sticking with me on this one!*

It’s OK not to be OK. How many times have you heard or read this phrase? A fair few I’m willing to bet. I’m not going to dispute the authenticity of it, because I firmly believe it to be true. Everybody is different and reactions to different scenarios are a very individual thing. Just because you’re OK with something and somebody else is not doesn’t give you the right to question why they’re not, they’re just not. More importantly, they may not even know why they’re not.

Not being OK (and to be clear, by ‘not OK’ I’m talking about mental health) can be a difficult concept to grasp but those who are OK. It’s tough to understand something you have no experience with, and I do think we forget that when we see people behaving less than supportively towards those struggling. On one hand, it’s a positive that they’ve never been through illness that can be so dibilitating. On the other, they will never have the complete picture of exactly how the human brain can do torturous things to its host, or how it can receive the actions of others. You may live with someone or have a friend that’s gone through mental health issues and think you get it, but unless it’s you personally then you just don’t.

Whether you understand mental health and illness personally or not, every single person can choose how they approach and deal with those who these issues. Any human being is capable of showing understanding, kindness and support, yet some (an increasing number of, alarmingly) choose not to be these things. THAT’S the problem.

I think if society were to tackle mental wellbeing by starting with the people who are responsible for a lack of awareness and empathy that we’d stand a better chance of getting this in hand. You see, for once – it’s not you, it’s them. There can be all the destigmatisation and and support services in the land, but if people are still running around behaving like bad human beings then it’s kinda pointless.

I think most importantly, we all need to bear in mind that absolutely anybody could suffer with their mental health and some point without actually having a long term mental health condition. If you are somebody that currently doesn’t behave as a decent human being when approaching the mental health of others, I hope you bear this in mind.

Thanks for reading, J xx

Disclaimer: All of the words above are my personal opinions. They are not intended to offend, simply open a discussion on a very hot topic from a different perspective.


Some people just aren’t nice – coping with toxic influences

Some people just aren’t nice – coping with toxic influences

If you’ve seen the title, you know the story. And honestly, it’s one I’m sorry that’s made it’s way over to my page, but I think we have to talk about it.

By toxic, I don’t mean people like murderes/rapists/terrorists, there’s a special place in hell reserved for them and for which toxic is too polite a word. By toxic, I mean people that have made their way into your life somehow but are rude/nasty/inconsiderate/controlling for reasons which seem bafflingly unclear to a relatively normal or sane person.

Toxic people are bullies whose behaviour is damaging and unacceptable. Their behaviour is not your fault, it’s their fault. Nobody should have to endure people like this. Buuuuuutttt….you can’t cut ’em all out of your life, sorry.

Because they’re everywhere, toxic people are unavoidable. I have always had what I believed to be a fairly reasonable set of standards for people and friendship, sadly over the years I’ve come understand that my standards are in fact pretty high (not a bad thing) and my expectations had to lower. Sure you can minimise contact to an extent with toxic influences, but if they’re someone you deal with on your commute, in the workplace or a place you visit often, that makes things a wee bit more challenging. Much better I think, is to empower yourself by having the tools to deal with them.

Forewarned is forearmed. You’re likely to know who are the toxic people around you, so be aware of this and you have the chance to steel yourself for your next delightful encounter with them.

Take your time. You know the way person acts pushes your buttons which can make for a knee-jerk irrational response from you. Not only will that upset you, but you may come off as a bit of a dick in the process. Give yourself a little bit of time to think about what was said/done, calm down. It’s perfectly acceptable to politely excuse yourself from a room to prevent this and get some space if you need to.

Think. Does this person’s words/actions need a response? A lot of the time, it probably doesn’t. There’s no point telling them they’ve upset you because they won’t care or (worse still) that’s exactly what they want you to feel. Being dignified or silent makes far more noise.

Remember (this is the most important one). The words of toxic people do not mean shit. No, really. You don’t have to take criticism from somebody that you wouldn’t take advice from. Their words may be their (albeit warped) trust, but they’re not yours. Don’t accept them.

Someone always has your back. You have people in your life that are brilliant to be around. People that you would go to for advice, people who actively build you up with their words, people who you greet with a feeling of happiness rather than dread. Spend more time with or communicating with them, and remind yourself that this is what the majority of the world looks like.

If you have toxic influences you deal with on the daily, I’m sorry that you have to put up with that. They are the ones who are flawed and need to get better, so try not to be too bitter about their presence.

Thanks for reading,

J xx


Talk FOMO to me

This isn’t something you only experience as a kid, or a teen, or even as a young adult. Nope. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) can affect you at any age or stage in life.

I don’t think people fully appreciate how difficult this feeling is for somebody but, in extreme cases, FOMO has the capacity to be as harmful as any mental health condition. Not only can it breed feelings of anxiety or worthlessness, but it can also help them to grow if they’re already there.

I’ve often beaten myself up when experiencing FOMO and let the feeling really eat away at my insides – why didn’t they invite me? Do they hate me? What I do to make them hate me? And spend the rest of the day/night overanlysing every little thing I’ve done and said recently that may have warranted my exclusion from a social event. And in the digital age we live in, you find out pretty easily when people are somewhere you’re not.

So what do you do? Sit, wallow and hope you can work out how to be the delightful/funny/sassy person you need to get yourself an invite next time whilst tryna act all “I’m FINE” in public. People saw through that act in The One Where Ross Is Fine, and you’re not fine.

So, what should you do? Over the years I’ve learnt that if you have the tools to cope this will go a long way, but you have to use them committedly and consistently:

1. Reframe and retrain your brain. Tell yourself over and over “I don’t know the context of why I haven’t been invited. So and so could have wanted a private chat about something, they might’ve just bumped into each other, etc etc…” You just don’t know, and you might never know, so you can’t presume it’s a bad thing.

2. Do something. Call a family member, ring another friend and make plans with them. If you’re doing something, you’re not thinking about what you may be missing out on.

3. Embrace the JOMO (that’s Joy Of Missing Out). Quite different from the above but another tactic to consider. Ok, so you’re not out being a social butterfly, so why not embrace the time and indulge in a little self care. Pamper session with pizza and Netflix, a lazy wander round the shops, book a massage, maybe just retreat to bed for a nap and some trash tv. Whatever takes you to your happy place, do that and allow yourself to appreciate that you have the time to yourself.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not perfect and I do still have low moments where I cant help but let the FOMO in, but it happens less often and don’t last for very long. I don’t think I could ever fully embrace a JOMO state of mind, but having some strategies to deal with it (like any difficult situation) are a huge help. If you’re a FOMO sufferer too, I encourage you to try ’em out.

Thanks for reading,

J xx