Read my poem ‘Slideshow’ at the launch of Starling magazine issue 9 this afternoon 🥰🥰🥰
A poem I wrote in the quick, messy days after my nana died but before her funeral just went live on Starling Mag ❤️ #poetry
Freezing cold swim at Island Bay yesterday I love swimming in the sea but this was my first swim this season. There are a multitude of reasons why I resisted the beach and a lot of them are to do with my body. Even on good days, the thought of having to deal with the inevitable anxiety feels too big. It’s always easier to stay home. Yesterday I went to a quiet beach after the weather had turned, only a few other people around, and I went in. I am my most authentic self in the water. I exist, with my skin and my body and my hair however they end up, and that feels okay. So here is a photo of me, after an awful week, participating in some self care. Messy and cold and anxious and insecure but exisiting as my most genuine self. Yesterday, when I got out of the cold water, I felt brand new. #anorexiarecovery
The most important thing in my recovery has been hearing other people’s stories. To know that, no matter how awful I feel, there is of course someone else feeling that too. To know that no matter how lonely I feel I’m never actually alone.
First book for 2020! I have been desperate to get my hands on this book for months and it arrived yesterday. Poems about obsession, girlhood, love, true crime, heart break, the colour pink and fear. Obviously, I devoured it in on go. I hope all the books I read in 2020 leave me feeling this full 🌸💓🌺💖🌷💝
Hello friends 🌻 it’s New Years resolution time and I’m just popping in to say that you do not have to make New Years resolutions. You. Exactly as you are. Right here. In this moment. You do not need to shrink yourself or lessen yourself in anyway. You have made it this whole way just as you are. Be kind to yourself and if you want to set goal, set goals that are centred around being a happy, healthy and whole version of you. There is a difference between growth and self abandonment. This coming year I am focussing on growth. On what there is to learn. I am focussing on what I need not on what other people think I should be. I am listening to myself 🍃
2019 is crawling to its close. What a beautiful, chaotic mess, like every previous year. Bursting with new lessons and some new, true friends. And some of the hardest years for my mental health. . I am seven years into the slow journey of understanding myself, which is to say I am seven years into therapy. This year saw a new diagnosis and a new therapist. This year saw long, aching days and sharp nights. This year often felt like survival. . This year also saw more relief from some of my chronic, physical symptoms. I have invested time, money and energy into my heath and care. I have seen new specialists, received new diagnoses, had 5 appointments a week for far too long. And how worth it was. . How worth it all was. To know my body and mind better. To be surrounded by bold and beautiful friends who are doing the head and heart work alongside me. To live alone with my cat and my love. To grow closer to and learn more of him even after all this time. How lucky I am to survive and love and grow and learn despite it all, even when I don’t want to, still.
I am trying to shift my mindset from scarcity to abundance. On bad days, I am convinced there are no words left. Who I am to try and create something when humanity has existed for so long? How could I bring something searing and new to the table, after all this time? When I was studying writing we were told that there were only seven types of stories. Every story can be loosely boiled down to fit one of those seven types. I did not know how to hear this without fear. What more was there to say? But then I think of the hundreds of poems I have read about love or sadness or grief or the trees. All the young adult novels I have read about how hard it is to be young. And how each one has hit me differently. Each one cracked me open in new, surprising ways. There is always more to say and there is always an important story to be told. I am trying to remind myself that my craft is about digging deeper into the words until they are doing something I didn’t think they could. I am trying to remind myself about all the poems that are waiting to be written; all the things waiting to be written about. That my stories and poems are worth reading even if they are about love or the trees. Because maybe the way I write it will crack someone open. Maybe it will hold someone’s hand.
My therapists asked me this a lot. She will say, what part of you is feeling that? How old is that part? Is she 16? 9? 12? What was happening in her life then? What was she feeling? She will say, you are your oldest, wisest self right now. Can your oldest wisest self see that this is anxiety? That this is OCD? That this isn’t real? Can you sit in your oldest, wisest self for a bit? Can you stay there? She’ll ask me, can your oldest wisest self reach out to that young, scared part of you? Can you see why she is scared? Can you see that she is trying to protect you? Can you talk to her? Can you ask her what she needs? Can she tell you? Can you give her what she needs? Can you thank her? Can you say, “thank you for trying to protect me”? Can you tell her it’s 2019 now? Does she know? Does she know you are an adult? With a job, a degree, a partner, a cat? Does she know you can take care of things now? Can you tell her that? Can you thank her? Can you tell her that it has been okay before? That it’ll be okay again. Can you tell her it will be okay? #mentalhealth #recovery
Today I am wearing jeans at work (#casualfriday) and it feels impossibly hard. I am the heaviest I have ever been. My body is the fullest and roundest and softest version of itself. I am a weight I promised myself I would never weigh. The physical recovery of anorexia is a small (but sharp) part of recovery. As a 17 year old weighing in the 30s or as a 23 year old weighing much more than that, everyday presents another challenge. Today's challenge is wearing jeans. For the first time in years. In public. In a size that seemed scary and dirty but is now just the size I am. I have spent the last year or more hiding my body in baggy dresses and loose skirts. Certain that if my body was visible, the world would collapse. It is hard to remind myself that I had to grow. That this change is necessary. That my new and foreign body is better than a thin, dying one. So here I am wearing jeans. Here I am surviving each small second. Here I am existing despite it all. #anorexia #recovery #eatingdisorderrecovery
Today’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is wairua or spiritual wellbeing! I feel most spiritual when I am present in my body. Yoga helps. Meditation helps. Singing helps. Acupuncture helps alot. I have weekly acupuncture sessions and I've found they are the best way for me to connect to my body. My acupuncturist will trace out points on my back like they are a constellation of stars. Then, the sharp sting, the tensing of the muscles, the holding of the breath. And then finally the exhale. The release. I can feel my body relaxing. The exhaustion peeling back layer by layer. I become so aware of what I'm feeling: what hurts, what doesn't, what's relaxed, what's tense. Being aware of it is the first step in being able to heal it. People often ask me if acupuncture helps my physical pain and I say, yes. Sometimes. But even when it doesn't I still get something from it. Even when it doesn't, it still makes me feel better. #mhawnz
Today's Mental Health Awareness Week theme is Whānau. My Whānau is the most important thing in my life. They keep me going and they help me grow. When I don't carve out the time for my family, I notice I stop feeling like myself. They energize me and sustain me. They help me reset. And they help me have fun. There is no way to include a photo of everyone I consider my family. I'm an Irish Catholic so there's literally hundreds of us and I am close with all of my family on both sides: my cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents, my immediate family and my partner's family who I love love love. But I also have a large chosen family. The people I have chosen to surround myself with. The people I talk to everyday. Who uplift me and have carried me to where I am. Friends from school, from the publishing course, from my barbershop chorus. Who mean just as much to me as the people I'm related to. I would not be here without my family and I would not be me without them ❤️ #mhawnz
Today's theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is Tinana or you physical wellbeing. I think many people's first thought when it comes to physical wellbeing is exercise. But there are so many ways to explore your tinana. I have multiple chronic illnesses that affect almost every system in my body. If I push my body too far, it can take days to recover. For me, physical wellbeing is about listening to my body. To honouring what it is calling for. Whether that be movement, rest, sleep, pain management, good food. I make sure I take all my medication and I attend all my doctors appointments and advocate for my body when doctors aren't listening. I try to follow food plans, medication regimes, relaxation plans. I track my symptoms so I can get the best out of my treatment and give doctors, specialists and therapists the best picture of what my body needs right now. After a long and severe battle with anorexia, listening to what my body needs is hard but is a muscle I am trying to strengthen every day. #mhawnz
Today's theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is about exploring taha hinengaro or mental and emotional wellbeing. The most important thing I do for my mental and emotional wellbeing is going to therapy. This year is my seventh year of treatment and it is still just as important as it was when I was in crisis. Without therapy, I wouldn't be able to be home alone, to catch a bus, to maintain a job. I wouldn't be able to finish a meal or have a gym membership. I am still learning how to challenge my thoughts, to sit with discomfort, to not engage in unhealthy and unhelpful behaviours. I am still unlearning so many things I thought were true about my future, my body, my worth and my ability. If I can't see my therapist, I journal and I talk to my partner or a few friends I have who understand and will talk in depth with me about where I'm at. If I don't do something with what I'm feeling, if i can't put the words down somewhere, they stay in my head and get messier and more tangled and suddenly they become fact. They become impossible to challenge. There is so much power in talking or writing. To say 'this what is what I'm feeling.' To say 'whether this is good or bad, this is where I am.' I always feel better and more grounded when I am able to work through what I am feeling on paper or with someone else. I always feel better when I am able to understand myself more. #mhawnz (If anyone knows who the artisit of this work is, please let me know so I can credit them!)
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is "Explore your way to wellbeing". Today's specific theme is about exploring whenua – your connection to the land. Recently I moved to Wilton. We are surrounded by native bush and trees. Even on the days when I can't bring myself to leave the house I still get to see and hear kererū, kākā, tūī. There is always birdsong and it makes my heart feel light and calm. I struggle a lot with being able to just sit. To just be with my thoughts. I am always listening to something or doing something because when I stop, it's just me and my loud, sharp thoughts. For the first time ever, I'm sometimes able to sit outside – no music, no podcasts, no distractions – and just listen to the birds. To watch them. To just be. Exploring can mean so many different things. It can seem a bit daunting and big. But I've been able to explore and learn just from sitting on my deck. And I am better for it. #mhawnz
It's a Disability Pride Week! And while I never thought about disability in regards to the protagonist in my novel, I love that my book has made this list. Mental health is health and mental illness can be disabling and debilitating. I love seeing that being recognised here!
In the weekend, I moved from Brooklyn to Wilton. And yesterday that meant navigating a new routine. Change and discomfort is where growth happens, but it’s also where I am most anxious. When I was 18, I would catch two trains to my appointments rather than take a short bus ride because I was scared of trying something new and different. I did this for years. Yesterday, I made my way to a new bus stop down new streets in a new place. I caught a new bus on a new route and I made it to work. This is not to say that things get better but that you get better. That you overcome and achieve and learn and unlearn and grow. Even when it is uncomfortable and you are anxious, you are still able.