Shaking off the support act friend label

Have you ever felt like you do a huge amount for people, and expect the same back but it never happens? It can be problematic, put blame on innocent parties and make you lose all confidence.

For years I’ve been the support act. Never in the inner circle, but spending so much time making those who are happy. I’ve spent so much money and energy just trying to prove I’m worth loving to get a small amount of connection back.

It’s no one’s fault, we can’t have time for everyone, but due to my trauma growing up and mental health it has been easy to latch on to anyone who has shown me an ounce of kindness and then desperately cling to them, whilst refreshing Twitter at all hours in hope of getting a DM from someone I don’t really know.

Nowadays I’m more confident in my relationships. I know who I can call close friends and not have to speak to them every day, but we check in regularly and have such a good bond.

The Internet can very easily turn you into the support act friend, what with the push to be mutuals and have a big follow count. And when you get a follow from a fave it can make you feel so special and worthy, but the truth of the situation needs to be put into perspective as to cling to a shadow of a relationship is a toxic thing to do.

How to end being a support act

  • Only give when you want to. It can be tempting to constantly give your time to another person in the hope you might be liked better or shown attention, but really you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Giving should come from the heart and be unconditional, so if you’re hoping for recognition, then dispose of your plan and instead sit with yourself to figure out why you need love right now.
  • Be your own cheerleader for a change: you shouldn’t have to big a person up just so they can make you feel better. Practice setting your own goals and self care and make sure you’re giving yourself enough love. When you stop giving attention out to everyone, you’ll soon see who stays.
  • Limit your Internet usage: rather than constantly DMing or tweeting people, give yourself an hour a day to check in and then focus on you. It stops you constantly checking your phone and helps you realise you can be comfortable with your own company.
  • Surround yourself with those you know understands your love language: this is a huge one. I’m a born giver and to have gifts or acts of service constantly rejected is PAINFUL. Now if I need to connect with my love language, I focus on those who are on the same wave length and to everyone else I just say “if you need something that you know I can give at the time, let me know.”
  • Have a small group who don’t mind chatting regularly: if you pinpoint who is available to chat often, you will gravitate to them instantly and have the option of that company instead of being lost in a sea of people, hoping someone will throw you a lifejacket.
  • Take their advice, look after YOU first: again going back to the love language, it can feel like a heavy rejection when people respond with “oh focus on you.” It can feel like the door is being slammed shut, that you’re not really understood. I ended up getting stubborn and focusing on myself 100%, which made me realise I didn’t need to offer anyone anything and helped me understand why I did it in the first place.
  • Let in those who recognise your achievements: because I’ve spent so many years bigging others up and not putting myself out there, people easily forget what I can actually do. It’s very rare I get credited or acknowledged for something I’m involved in or something I am good at, so admitting my strengths and spending time with those who knew them anyway is such a boost in confidence.
  • Remember you are enough: I was mostly to blame for being a support act. I didn’t have any faith in my abilities and always believed that others were better than me. It is important to realise you deserve to be the leader of your own narrative and not someone else’s.

Love Luce x

Can we really get to grips with how hard things can be?

For the past few months, I’ve found myself internally screaming “WHY ARE THINGS SO TERRIBLE!” And feeling only despair and stress from the moment I wake up.

Sure, there are personal problems, but the world wide problems are enough to send even the most emotionally stable person into a chaotic mindset so it’s really not surprising that I’m fully burned out.

Being an empath and feeling too much, I have a habit of carrying everything on my shoulders in a personal way. I feel like I’ve been shouldering this pandemic with no relief from the stress it’s caused, and no matter how many self care or advice blogs I read the burden never lightens.

It was only when Rachel Miner tweeted a quote from Hannah Gadsby that I realised where my mindset lie and why I was struggling with getting a handle on things.

I was focusing on my single experience, how these events only related to my struggles without putting it into perspective. These events were happening world wide, and through putting it on my shoulders I was cutting off the connection with the good that had come out of such a hard time.

Yes, these are truly hard times. There is no reason to invalidate or ignore that fact. However asking yourself “in this situation, where do we go from here?” You’re allowing yourself space to move and a chance to grow in such a confining space.

Rather than “I am lost in this pandemic,” I’ve found that turning the narrative around has helped me accept how tough things can be whilst appreciating the good that happens daily. I am found because my friends care enough about me to make sure I’m okay. I’m found because I’ve started the day seeing and experiencing kind acts from others.

As much as it feels like the pandemic is the only experience we are having, it isn’t. We have multiple experiences every day which all form a connection to this world. We are tethered together by our will to get through this and our focus on a better tomorrow. Now when I wake, I’m trying to focus on how I can find all those experiences instead of being lost to the hard times.

Ways to find yourself

  • Focus on what you like and surround yourself with those things. These things are unique to you and they are your mark on the world.
  • Ask your friends to check in with you. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re struggling as the reminder that people care is the true validation that you are seen.
  • Set yourself a goal. Yes we are limited to what you can do at the moment, but setting targets such as doing exercise, finishing a book or cleaning your house will help you feel that you’ve got a handle on things.
  • Note down your happy points. If you remind yourself of all the good things that happened during the day, you have written evidence that you’re moving forward.
  • Do a good deed for others. Passing on the kindness can help others in a similar situation and helps you divert your attention away from the pandemic and onto how we can make tomorrow better for all.

Can you hygge on the hardest days?

Today started off terribly, I slept in and so not to be late for work I skipped breakfast, didn’t have time to wash my hair or iron my dress and ended up arriving at work with bags under my eyes as black as a coal pit and trembling with stress, an overdose of caffeine and chronic pain. On top of that my glasses were broken and held together by sellotape.

Spending the day with mildly greasy hair, low blood sugar, a high amount of pain and feeling lethargic is never motivational when trying to practice self care, and the day got even harder after not having time to eat lunch, dealing with an abelist librarian and being told I couldn’t buy bubble bath with a store voucher because the item was cheaper than the voucher amount (I couldn’t work that one out either.)

Luckily it wasn’t all doom and gloom and I’m so grateful to my friends for checking in. One dear friend sent me money to buy a nice dinner and my work friend bought me bubble bath and chocolate. It was so uplifting to know people cared enough to want to fix the badness.

Nethertheless the day did leave me tired and in pain, and doing any sort of self care seemed impossible. However there were things I could do to help the situation and it meant I didn’t need to be my best self, I just had to care enough about me to make myself comfortable.

Hygge tips for the worst days

1. Clean.

Do as much as you can cleaning wise. If you have tons of energy to deep clean everything, go for it, but if all you can do is move some cups to the sink then that is perfect too. Doing any sort of cleaning/tidying cleanses your space and your mind and sitting in a clean room can feel so refreshing. Change your bedding, your pjs or the towel you’re using or focus on cleaning yourself. A hot shower/bath and washing your hair can leave you feeling fresh and ready to start again.

2. Lovely scents and visuals.

Switching fairy lights on, lighting candles or bathing in a lemon bubble bath can feel like the height of luxury after a bad day. Filling your senses with such pleasant things is a wonderful act of self love and after you’ll be relaxed enough to look at things in a more positive light. One trick I’ve learnt is to fill a Mason jar with pot pourri and put a flickering battery candle in the middle. It makes your room smell nice and you have some magical lights!

3. All the nice snacks.

Never mind health or calories, today is all about comfort. If you find comfort in a huge bowl of mac and cheese or pudding and custard, go for it. You can eat healthy the next day, you don’t have to feel guilty for filling your tummy with foods you love. You deserve it after going through a rough day.

4. Touch.

Give yourself a huge squeeze. Wrap your arms around you tightly, run your fingers through your hair and over your body and whisper love to yourself. Giving yourself comfort and being a friend to yourself in hard times is so important, as sometimes you need to give yourself all the love first to heal.

5. Switch off from reality.

Turn off social media, make sure you’re not around anyone who wants to talk about work, world events or politics and then dive into escapism. Whether its a book, video game or TV show, switching your mind off from the heavy stuff is vital to good mental health.

6. Stay hydrated.

Nor drinking enough water (WATER, not tea, coffee, juice or alcohol) can make your mind so sluggish. Try keep a bottle beside you at all times and fill it up throughout the day. I try to drink at least four bottles of water.

7. Take a nap.

Sometimes its impossible to know how to fix things or where to go from a bad day, so the best thing to do is snuggle up under a warm duvet and sleep until you feel ready to start again. Trying to look after yourself whilst running on empty never works.

I hope this helps if you are having a hard day. Please know there is always something you can do to help yourself and resources out there if you need support.

Love Luce x

The difference of random kindness and intentional kindness

A few years ago I tried to be the biggest activist I could be. I went to all the marches, spent money being eco friendly and checked labels for the fair trade logo for months. I donated massive amounts that weren’t in my budget (a very silly decision considering how hard I’ve struggled this year) and sacrificed a lot just so I wouldn’t be “selfish”.

Unfortunately this all ended with severe depression, a numb feeling inside as if I’d failed miserably and zero energy for myself. I was handing over every piece of myself without thought to my own welfare and energy levels, all the time waiting for that nod of recognition I shouldn’t have been waiting for.

In hindsight I was trying to keep toe to toe with people who had much more resources and support than I, trying to be “one of the gang” which stemmed from years of loneliness and insecurity. I wanted to give so that I could be accepted and ended up destroying myself in the process.

A silver lining of all this is that in my destruction, I began to notice where my attentions and energy needed to be directed to. I am trying to connect spiritually with myself every day through food, senses, emotions and breathing exercises. I’m connecting with friends who have been right there all along, knowing that I don’t need to look far for acceptance.

On this journey of healing I found that being intentionally kind: kind to oneself and those I love, was far more rewarding. I began to be kind by offering advice where I could, making time for people, listening to people’s stories and setting clear boundaries for myself. In this moment in time I cannot give money or supplies, but I’ve learned it does not mean I cannot give kindness in other ways.

There is a huge pressure to do kind acts especially from social media. It has fed off our insecurities and I often see comments such as “I’m sorry, I wish I could do more.” The push for people to give their all has led to guilt, bad mental health and people turning away from wellness and instead focusing on who they have to get validation from through their actions.

Kindness is a language that should come naturally. It starts when you learn to speak it to yourself before speaking it to others. I damaged my heart greatly when I focused on giving all I had rather than the kindness I was comfortable giving, but now that I’m on my way to healing I can see how much pressure I was putting on myself and how it shouldn’t have been so much of a chore.

Now, when I see someone in need, I ask myself the following things:

1. What am I able to give that won’t hurt me in the process.

2. Do I have the emotional energy to listen?

3. What safety measures and boundaries do I need to put in place?

With these three points I’m able to protect myself whilst being able to help others. It means I can be kind without breaking my own heart and without needing the approval of someone else. Gone are the days where I wanted to be kind just to be loved, now I’m able to love myself first and let my heart be open, whilst being protected.

Why Animal Crossing New Horizons was the distraction from reality we needed

“Holy crap, I’m rich!” I grinned at my screen as a terribly kind person dropped off a ton of bells without wanting anything in return. I immediately went to pay off my home loan and put enough into my bank for the next house expansion. In just two days I would be living in a huge house with colour coordinated furniture and a brilliantly landscaped garden that would make Alan Titchmarsh cry.

Quite unlike my real life, I might add.

As I became another Animal Crossing Addict, racking up at least 12 hours a day on a weekend and trying to stay up as late as I could to get more island improvements done, I found that it helped me escape all the problems that made reality so unbareable.

For those hours I could forget that I was sitting alone in my flat, riddled with pain and depression in the middle of a pandemic, grateful for my friends because they’re currently helping me pay my way whilst simultaneously feeling guilty as hell for not having my shit together. On my island I could have anything I wanted, and if I ran out of money (bells) it was easy to get more. So easy in fact that money would literally grow or fall from trees. So would furniture, though that happening in reality is quite terrifying…imagine walking under a tree and having an entire sofa fall on you?

ACNH also helped me create a world safe from COVID. In the game I could visit museums, shops and visit friends. I could talk to neighbours and exchange gifts with them. I could swim in the sea and not have to worry about the awful sensation of seaweed. It took away the bad parts of reality and whilst there were bad parts of the game like getting stung by wasps, at least I never felt pain from it.

It was lovely to be able to speak to my neighbours daily. In reality people are so busy that there are some I know who I haven’t spoken to properly, as in a full conversation, in as much as a year (no ones fault, just how life is). ACNH might not be real, but I was so healed by just being able to converse with someone and do a good deed for them, knowing they would be there the next day. It was everything I wanted my life to be, and helped me forget, for a little while, all the things my life wasn’t.

I’m not at all surprised as to why the switch sold out so quickly and why this game is the most played. It gives back everything people are missing in their current lives and a sense of achievement…cause whilst I might be a broke, lonely person in real life, on my island I’m a total superstar who can do anything (literally, I’m the island representative…I’m pretty much in charge!)

Whilst some might think it unhealthy to fixate on these things, for me it’s a welcomed escape that is keeping me on this planet. For as painful as life is at the moment, whilst I have my island I know I’ll be here tomorrow.

Are the twitter algorithms destroying our mental health?

Apart from the three friends I message practically all day, daily, I’m used to everyone else’s busy lives and that I may only hear from them once a week at most. Normal adult life, right?

However as months passed and my interactions on Twitter went down dramatically, my depression and anxiety definitely got the better of me and determined that I’d done something wrong and that I was now disliked and not worth people’s time (yay bad mental health).

Turns out (because there’s always a logical reason!) Twitters incredibly poor algorithm was to blame and is now actively not showing tweets from those you are mutuals with. This shitty but of programming means there’s a fine chance no one has seen your tweets in a LONG time.

Now, as much as my brain would like to hang on to its thoughts of being hated rather than believe technology, there are ways to get round this and improve your mental health.

1. Create a personal account with a small following so that you can see all friends posts and they can do the same with you.

2. DM rather than tweet if there’s something you really need to share with a friend.

3. Actively check in with your friends. If you’re believing that no one wants to talk to you, chances are they are too. You’re gonna have to make time to message each other!

4. Use another form of social media for friends such as WhatsApp or Snapchat. These are more accessible for open communication.

5. There are going to be times when your friends genuinely are swamped in their life. Make a list of everything you want to share with them, then when they are free you can have lots to talk about!

I’m hoping this helps ease some worries, however I know how hard it can be to believe you are loved. Just know you are enough and there are those in the world who value you.

Love Luce x

The curse of being kind

Are you someone who has that automatic response embedded into your brain, where when someone says they have a problem you immediately react and need to help?

I am that sort of person.

I’m the one whose brain goes HOW CAN I HELP, without even being asked to assist. I’m forever offering my time and attention, lending a sympathetic ear or going out of my way to make other people’s lives easier. I do it because it’s the right thing to do, because the world needs more kindness and because I’d hope that someone would actually treat me the same way.

Unfortunately, kindness seems to carry a curse along with it. When you’re always kind, people tend to forget about your existence unless they need you to do something for them. You end up being the person no one talks to, but who everyone asks a lot of. Your texts and DMs get left on read (or are never read) and the only reason I can possibly think this is, is because people like us are only known for helping and not for anything else.

Another part of the curse is how people see us. Gone are the times when people look at you and see your strengths. Instead you’re the one who gets the “aw bless you”, the “that’s sweet” and the little looks that make you feel like a helpless child who gives and gives but gets nothing of substance back.

Being kind has a high risk of rejection. I’ve constantly had to battle with my brain in telling it that it’s okay if people say no to my offerings of gifts or acts of service, however it does still feel to me like a denial of friendship. I’ve been told no when I’ve asked people what they want for their birthday, had booknerds refuse free books and have often been told “oh look after you instead.” I’ve had to struggle between my reaction of “I’m not enough,” to understanding that not everyone has the same love language or needs my love language. It’s only this year that I’ve taken the message of “look after you first” literally!

If you’re one of these kind people affected by this curse, you may relate when I say that at times I’ve wanted to act like a complete arsehole. I’ve actively wanted to make people hate me, if only to get rid of this image of sweet little girl that people associate me with. I’ve longed to give them a reason to never answer my messages other than that I’m only worth something when they want me, and I’ve longed to cause hurt in the way being shoved aside when I’m not needed has hurt me.

Of course, none of this is healthy. I’ve had to realise that some people do take advantage of kindness and that some just don’t have time for me and probably never will. When treating me as something inconsequential, it’s because they have a “what’s important” list of their own problems in their head and can’t see past that. It has taken a long time to use my emotional energy wisely, and to not expect too much from people whilst simultaneously putting more energy into the friends that are there and do give a lot back.

To protect your mental health, I would give this advice when it comes to kindness. “Do you want something back from this act?” If you do, then don’t do it. Wait until you know you can do this unconditionally, and that it won’t strain your mental health when you’re not seen or appreciated.

You have to be kind for your own sake, not for anyone else’s. Yes it is wonderful to get recognition, however the reality is that very few people will stop to tell you daily how important you are. With that in mind, focus on the ones who do check in with you regularly: these are the people who will loyally protect your heart no matter what you do for them.

Yes, kindness is wonderful and the world needs to be more kind, but first you must be kind to you and not expend yourself with no one there to pick you back up. Surround yourself with those you know truly sees you, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have the energy to be helpful.

Your priority is to help yourself first, before you start helping others.

How Hygge living helped with disordered eating

TW: ED, disordered eating, dieting, calorie counting, weight gain/loss

It was inevitable that the turmoil of 2020 would affect my eating disorder. Not only was I stressed out by the rising COVID cases, the threat of losing my job and missing my friends, but also I was in the middle of a toxic family situation that wrecked any progress I’d made with my mental health.

It was only when I finally settled into my own apartment and joined in with being healthier after Christmas that I found myself addressing the severity of my lifestyle. A pledge to do a sugar ban for charity helped me notice how much junk food I survived on, how my diet was 90% chocolate and sandwiches and how my cooking skills were non existent. People would joke about whether I was eating properly, but the truth was, I wasn’t. It was yet another form of disordered eating because I didn’t have the energy to battle with my ED yet again.

I knew I needed to do something quickly, and so finally opened the many Hygge cook books that had, until now, been collecting dust on my bookshelf. None of these recipes were about dieting, calorie counting or restriction, and with the aid of cutting out sugar I found myself making better choices for the first time since being a teenager.

My new lifestyle was filled with homely, cooked meals packed full of nutrition. I’d start the day with a large bowl of granola or Swiss style muesli, with added goji berries, blueberries, raisins, flaxseed and honey. My lunches would be quiches, casseroles, sandwiches filled with hummus and roast veg and then I’d cook sweet potato dishes, vegetarian tarts or hearty stews with dumplings for dinner. I’d eat dessert in the form of sugar free flapjack, cacao bars and yoghurt and honey, and never denied myself a bag of crisps if I craved them.

A month later, I’d stopped calorie counting completely. I spent a lot of time cooking and I could feel myself getting healthier. I felt good about my body and didn’t feel the need to weigh myself at all, and my skin had definitely improved. Although I still struggle with chronic pain, burnout, anxiety and depression, I’ve made huge progress with my ED.

I’d definitely recommend focusing on Hygge living in your diet, and not focus on calories or restricting. Swedish, Danish and Nordic recipes are all about making your meals as nutritious as possible whilst having comforting meals that are good for your mental health.

I hope this helps anyone who is struggling with an ED at this moment in time. You deserve to nourish your body, as after all, self love is self care.

Love Luce x

Toeing the line: when being a fan affects the way we treat people and how it affects our own mental health

I remember the time I spent waiting in photo op queues with fondness and annoyance at how over the top I always was. I’d get close to the front and have a meltdown or panic attack and be beating myself up for not thinking of something smart to say, whilst a total stranger who has never met me before smiles on, probably aching from standing around so long.

My need to be close to actors started as a teen, when Twitter became a thing and I longed for some sort of attention. I adored the characters they played and those characters helped with my mental health, so getting noticed from an actor would be a dream come true, right?

If I’d had someone to teach me self worth, instead of trying to gain approval from people I didnt know, I’d have saved myself a lot of heartache.

I worked myself to the bone to go to cons, only to feel heavily depressed when it was over. I’d panic over what I looked like in photo ops, stutter out mumbled words in autograph meets and leave cons feeling worse then when I arrived. Yes I have had amazing experiences and conversations and I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and who I’ve met, but if I could speak to my younger self I would tell them to just be natural. Have fun and not worry, and remember your own worth instead of trying to find it through other people.

As I’ve aged and become more aware with the world, I see young people making the same mistakes, and that can have such a bad impact on how we treat actors. To put a person on a high pedestal, as if they are our best friend or saviour, and to then react with utter disappointment or vitriol when they don’t give us what we want is dehumanising and plain rude.

As much as we wish actors were our friends, we really don’t know them at all (that of course doesn’t apply to those who are friends with actors!) I have met so many amazing people and had full on conversations with them, but I know I haven’t built a stable and healthy friendship with them and to fawn over them as if they were an object to be admired is incredibly disrespectful to the person that they are.

We have to start seeing the person behind the job, a person who has just as many struggles and feelings as we do. If you type a tweet that is harsh and rude, ask yourself how you would feel if a person you liked sent you it? Having conversations with actors (hell, with anyone) is a good thing, for we can learn so much from each other and join forces to create empowering movements. However, we still have to maintain those boundaries and give people their space, privacy and time to breathe without everyone clamouring for their attention.

We also have to look deep within ourselves and ask, is our need for being noticed healthy? My teenage self was definitely not in a healthy place which is why I’ve decided not to go to conventions anymore, for I’d still be critiquing myself on what I say or do. We can’t put all our hope on one person because they deserve much more respect than that. They deserve the right to refuse access to their time and emotional energy, whilst we deserve the right to build healthy relationships and a strong foundation of self love.

*please note none of this relates to calling celebs out on twitter. I firmly believe those hurt by a persons actions has the right to speak out in a none hateful or harmful way.

Is self care about money?

In this extraordinary stressful time I’ve found myself bombarded with adverts and a common message: to get self care, you must first buy.

Face masks, massage pillows, heated blankets, pot plants and dream diaries…all sound intruiging, but how can everyone afford them at a time of great financial insecurity?

In the first few weeks in my flat, I struggled greatly. I had no Internet, cheap unhealthy food and no funds for those little treats. If it wasn’t for my friends being absolute sweethearts and sending coffee vouchers and care packages, I don’t know how I’d have survived the adjustment period with only having bills and work to focus on. I was stressed to the max and suffering massively with cripping depression and anxiety. I couldn’t get involved with any charity work and lost hope at ever working for a nonprofit. My level of self love was nonexistent.

I had to work out how to get self care without spending money, and rather than seek pleasure in material items I began to seek connection.

When I was at rock bottom, I asked my friends to start a twitter page with me for mindfulness and spirituality. A few agreed and it gave me purpose and I felt more connected to the ones I love. I reached out on social media to express my frustrations and worries and people listened. I walked away feeling whole, and not a penny had been spent.

I read on a mindful card this morning, “self care is also self love.” That changed how I thought on self care, that it isn’t about candles or barista coffees, but about being vulnerable and reaching out when you need a hand to hold. To not judge yourself harshly and to be gentle with yourself.

As President Joe Biden (oh, how I love typing that!) Said in his speech: ‘Here’s the thing about life, there’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days you need a hand, there are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be, that’s what we do for one another.’

We may be struggling financially, emotionally, physically…but we can always reach out and say we are struggling. To accept help and admit you need it is the greatest act of self love and care you could ever grant yourself.

Books that help with mental health:

1. Slow by Jo Peters.

2. How to Come Alive Again by Beth McColl

3. The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

4. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

5. Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig