MAKING CHANGES: WHAT I'VE LEARNT SO FAR

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Let me start off by saying that I definitely do not know everything and I'm not trying to claim that I do. What I do want to share with you guys is what I have experienced and learnt so far in the hopes that it helps at least one person. If you are going through something similar and have anything to add, please feel more than welcome to contact me and let me know. 

 

 

1. It's REALLY hard

When I say it's hard, I don't just mean it's tough. I mean it's much more difficult than I would ever have imagined. I see families together and feel so jealous. My Mum, Dad and I are such a close knit family, like best friends. You lose your 'normal'. You no longer have easy contact with friends and you can't just meet for coffee. It's hard because even though you do still have those people, they're far away and you'll have days when you just feel lonely. That's okay...realise that it's normal and that tomorrow is another day. 

 

2. Commute

More than likely you'll have to commute in the beginning. London is expensive (everyone says it and everyone knows it). Unless you really are one of the few very wealthy people, you won't be moving straight into your dream apartment in London. Don't let this stop you because hard work will inevitably lead there. If you're really lucky (like I am) and you have family to stay with, count your blessings, realise how much they're doing for you and thank them for everything they do for you. The commute will add at least two hours to your day in total. I leave just after 6 in the morning and just make my 9 am start time (usually plus 5 minutes - sorry Kirsty). I leave work at 5 and then get back home at around 19h45. It makes your day long and tiring, be prepared for this. 

 

In saying this, you will be tired for the first week. Like dead on your feet tired. You'll get through it. Try to get as much sleep as possible as it definitely does help. 

 

3. Money

You'll be poor for the first few months and you know what, you'll survive. If you watch my videos on my Youtube channel, you'll see that next week's video is dedicated to fashion on a strict budget which should help you along for the first few months. I will also be doing a video on living strictly on a budget in terms of the best shops for budget necessities and beauty products. Having a small amount of money to work with builds character and it's something which will inevitably stand you in good stead for the future. Also, my Mum mentioned a few times to me about spending during your first month of work...try not to do it (or to spend as little as possible). Only spend the money you have and you haven't been paid yet. It will be tempting though because you're working so hard and #treatyoself will be in the back of your mind. 

 

4. Support

Can't say too much on this but where you can find support, take it and accept all the help you are offered. If you are confused or unsure, ask for help because people will generally help you if you ask. Also, ask questions about anything and everything...if you don't know which train you need, ask and ditto for everything else. 

 

5. The act of being an adult (not really) 

Being an adult (adulting as I like to call it) is really hard. It's supremely difficult to walk through the door at 19h45 and start cooking something to eat. Use Tesco, Sainsbury, M&S and Waitrose ready meals. There are some great freezable meals available and all you have to do is chuck it in the oven for 30 minutes or so and boom, a healthy(ish) meal. Also mentionable under this topic is cooking things and knowing when they're cooked. The other night I wasn't sure about how to cook prawns and Siri was an absolute saviour (prawns go pink when cooked). Also worth noting here is that you will inevitably do some stupid things...an example of one of these things might be leaving your curling iron/straightener on all day. It's a mistake and more than likely you won't actually burn down the house but be careful and most importantly learn from it. 

 

6. Meeting new people

This is probably the most terrifying thing on the list. It's absolutely nerve wracking going into a situation where you know absolutely nobody but its life and its necessary. The best advice I can give here is to simply dive right in. You have to initiate conversation which is extremely hard but once that hurdle has been jumped, you're pretty much there. 

 

7. Rejection

It's always tough to deal with rejection and if you're moving to a new place, it will inevitably happen. Between the applying for jobs and meeting new people aspects, you are bound to be rejected a couple of times. The best way to deal with it is just to know how awesome you are and try not to let it bother you. If necessary you can also have cry in between (then get over it though because it just isn't the end of the world). 

 

8. Nothing is permanent 

If you move to a different country, it will inevitably be difficult and you'll have moments when all you want is to go home. It's vital to give yourself enough time to adjust and a great way to do this might be to set a deadline of 6 months. If you're truly still unhappy after that time period, you can always go home and re-think. The same applies to jobs. I have been so lucky in that the job that I do is something I enjoy and I also have the bonus of a great boss and working at a fab company. 

 

9. You don't have to be perfect

You will make mistakes and get things wrong, It is inevitable. There is no such thing as a perfect person and to be quite frank, nobody expects you to be. Whether you make mistakes in a job or just generally within life, it doesn't matter as long as you learn from them. 

 

10. We are lucky

Being able to live a life like I do, being able to follow your dreams and do what you want to do and what you love doing is so special and we need to realise this. It is too often that we focus on the bad things that happen and what we don't have rather than what we have and just how lucky we are. Also, how lucky that we live in such a connected world where you can speak to your parents and friends face to face. 

 

11. Thank You 

I this part, I'd just like to really thank my parents and family for being so great (you don't HAVE to read this part if you are not a family member)

Thank you first to my Mum and Dad, I know how hard this is for you. I miss you like hell and I miss just being able to touch you and say good morning to you. It's the simple things in life that I miss the most. Thank you for helping me out in terms of money...for not allowing me to start off in debt and for helping me as much as you possibly can. I love you more than you could ever know.

 

To my Aunt who has taken me in. Thank you so much, Mary. You have been a blessing and you have done so much for me. You help me along and give moral support, love and a place to stay. I am forever grateful to you for everything you have done and I love you so much! 

 

To my grandparents, thank you for the constant messages of support. It means the world to me. More than that though, thank you for supporting Mum and Dad through this. 

 

To my British family, thank you to all of you (you know who you are) for including me and integrating me into the family. I love you all so much and I am forever grateful to all of you. It can't have been easy to suddenly have an extra person but you have made me feel nothing if not welcome. 

 

Thank you for reading and I hope that this helps someone out just a little.

Love, Katie 

 

 

 

MY SEXUAL ASSAULT STORY

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Let me clarify something before I even begin, this is NOT clickbait. I know that revealing this particular story on the blog won't make friends. The truth is, I already lost friends over this happening and for the longest time I didn't even realise that what had happened to me was in fact sexual assault until someone else very brave recounted her story and told me that it was. I remember not wanting to 'make a big deal' about the whole thing. He was my best friend's boyfriend and though we weren't close, I knew him. Because she loved him and I trusted her, I trusted him and I shouldn't have. 

 

She was there the night it happened, in fact I think she was sitting right next to me when it happened and she didn't bat an eyelid. We've all heard the term 'boys will be boys' but truth be told I'm sick and tired of hearing that. I wasn't raped so I don't know what rape feels like and I don't claim to know nor am I able to imagine it. What he did though and what he said was at the very least sexual harassment. I don't remember saying 'NO' or 'STOP'. I think I told him to stop but maybe I didn't. I do remember being in a group of 10 guys (maybe more) and around 3 girls. The girls who were there knew me and claimed to be my friends. I wasn't drunk at the time and I don't remember what I was wearing (nobody should care). I was drinking but not even tipsy. It was a birthday party. The girl I called my best friend was one of the only other girls there. All I really remember is the boys taunting me, a few of them trying to touch and grab what was never theirs to touch. Then him. He claimed protectorship on the basis that I was his girlfriend's best friend. I don't know how much he had had to drink at that stage. To be honest, I don't care. All I know is that he grabbed me, touched me inappropriately commenting on how my hair was now the same colour as his girlfriend's hair and so obviously he could have both of us. I remember that he touched my breasts. Nobody has touched them since. 

 

That night after all the taunting and touching and inappropriate behaviour (all at the first bar) I couldn't work out what was 'wrong' with me, why I didn't feel myself and why I was constantly fighting the urge to cry. I couldn't figure out the pain in my chest or the unfamiliar feeling that was flowing through my body. I wanted to scream, shout or hide in a corner and cry maybe all three. Instead of going home, calling an uber or calling my parents I stayed and I smiled and I pretended. The girl I called my best friend didn't stand up for me when I couldn't keep it together anymore at the end of the night. The boys drove home with a guy in the group who was notorious for drinking and driving. From the car, her boyfriend called her and lied (joked?) that the friend in question had been arrested and that they were all being driven home by a third party.  He did this when he knew that just a few months previous to this 'party', I had been held overnight in a police station for drinking and driving though the charges were never upheld and I wasn't drinking and driving anyway. They thought it was funny when they pitched up in the car with the driver not arrested and instead killing himself laughing at our (or rather my) expense. They thought that I was overreacting when I wanted to walk and didn't want to get into the car. They laughed. I gave them the finger. I wasn't sober enough (nor did I feel mentally able) to drive myself home and the plan had been to stay with at her house with the group. She attempted to calm me down and wondered why it didn't work. She didn't notice what was actually a full blown panic attack. That she didn't see the signs earlier in the night amazes me. That when I shook and cried and held myself, she didn't see it. I cried, they laughed uproariously from the living room. I called my Mum and I left.

 

I saw her maybe the next week. I wanted to explain myself, explain what had happened. She repeated that I had overreacted, was in fact currently overreacting and that everything was 'just a joke'. I haven't seen her since. I have survived suicide attempts, anorexia and depression and I have no doubt that I will overcome this...in time. Right now though, I'm not sure I know how to be in a relationship or how to be touched. I know that I cannot expect someone to love me when I cannot love myself. I'm giving myself time to heal, as much as I need...

 

*This probably wouldn't be everyone's version of events from that night but this is mine, this is my truth. 

*Also, this is not aimed at anyone but I feel that enough time has passed and it is important to speak out on issues like this. We need to stop the stigma. This is my story...

 

ANOREXIA&DEPRESSION

Thank you, Jen Su, for inspiring me to write this,

I can’t really pinpoint the day my struggle with anorexia started but if I had to pick one, I think I’d pick a day way back in 2007. No idea what day of the week it was, in fact, I can’t really remember any specifics of that day. All I can tell you for sure is that I was still in primary school and we weren’t in our school uniforms. I have a feeling we were celebrating the end of grade 7 (sort of a graduation party if you like). I was never one of the ‘skinny’ girls and in fact had the tendency to carry a bit more weight than was average or healthy.

By grade 7 and aged 13, I had been to a dietician and on a diet plan and was probably weighing the least I ever had. I was more than likely the healthiest too but I don’t really remember. Anyway, with all this weight loss, I had this new pair of red shorts, which I loved and could now wear. I had chosen to wear them that day and I’ll never ever forget the little boy who saw me, looked me up and down and then called me thunder thighs and told me I should never wear shorts again.If you want to know how much your words can impact people, here's a vague idea. To this day I struggle to wear shorts and every time I do manage, I feel as though everyone is judging me in the same way he did. With all my intellect, I know this is not the truth but facts don’t really come into play here.

 

Indeed, all the intellect in the world couldn’t save me from myself.

 

I guess, looking back, a few things came into play. I was liked more by the other kids and at least it seemed to me the teachers when I was skinnier. This trend continued on through high school with boys paying me more attention when I was skinnier than when I was a little on the chubby side. All through the beginning of high school, I struggled with my weight. Things got really bad when I was in grade 10, good grief I hated that school so very much. I was so stressed, I didn’t fit in anywhere at the school and my friends were, well...limited. I was very different and that certainly didn’t help. I was bullied and spent a lot of break time alone. I went back to thinking that if I was skinnier it might be better. It never got better. I always felt alone and stupid at school. For them, it wasn't the system that was floored but me and I assume, people like me. 

 

My lowest weight was 42kg, certainly not emaciated for an anorexic but not strong enough for what I was doing. I was dancing, singing and acting as well as trying to [occasionally] do homework. I was tired all the time and of course depressed. Depression and Anorexia are practically best friends and if they were teenage girls, they would go everywhere together. 

 

Already we’re talking about a lot of baggage for a 17-year-old girl and looking back, it really is clear why I never had a boyfriend. Who could love a girl who doesn’t even slightly care for herself?

 

Also during 2012, I tried to overdose and tried to kill myself,  it never worked and for that I am very thankful. The troubles continued until I reached a point in 2014 where I honestly thought my life meant nothing and tried to end it all in a bathtub at a hotel.

 

I think the trouble with things like anorexia and depression is that far too many people think they are far too simple to solve. In the case of anorexia, just start eating again. It just isn’t that simple. I will always know the calorie content of everything that I put in my mouth. Anorexia makes you a maths genius, all those numbers to add up. Everything you put in your mouth needs to be counted and then, of course, there are all the conversions you have to do, from kilojoules to calories etc... Then  there's the mind vs itself. All the decisions you have to make based not on what you WANT to eat but what you deem okay to eat calorie wise.

 

Depression...well contrary to popular belief, you can't just BE happy. There are some days where the depression is controllable, for a while you are able to shove it under your bed and almost forget about it. Then there are the days where it truly is the monster and you feel it could eat you alive with even the slightest movement. Depression and anorexia are mental diseases so please, the next time someone confides in you don’t tell them to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘look on the bright side’. When you are there, you honestly cannot see the bright side, you can't see tomorrow or 'how great your life could be'. Please help us with love and support but don't show pity, it makes us feel worse. If you don't understand, tell the person who is struggling and listen (if they will talk), then, try to understand. Please don't make it about you. There wasn't anything worse than my family 'treating the bystanders', I was the one struggling and hurt but they insisted that I had damaged them. That is very selfish, as is driving the person away or treating them as if they are insane. We already feel guilty, trust me. 

 

I just want to thank all the people in my life who have helped me along the way, this year for the first time I was able to eat because I was hungry and to choose what was appealing. It doesn’t mean I don’t know the calorie content, I do, but I choose to ignore it and live for me, live for today. 

 

I hope anyone reading this who has struggled or is struggling can understand that recovery is a long process and that there may never be total recovery. However, it is worth the struggle and honestly not impossible by any means.

 

Thank you to: 

My parents and friends who have supported me throughout and managed to do so with the utmost confidence that not only would I get better but also without ever acting selfishly. Special thanks to Tracy and Charles Mahony, Ronelle and Gary Sartor, Dean Sartor, Kyle Sartor, Shane Thompson, Jen Su, Boyd Meihlon, Marina Goetze, Caitlyn Mollett, Gabby Van Niekerk, Kevin McLennan and Jill Grogor.