Long Term Illness and Identity

In my experience, people who are physically or mentally ill for a long period of time can start to view this as part of their identity. I’m definitely included in this majority that I’ve seen, and it’s taken a lot of work for me to recognise and keep working on this.

Having your illness as a part of your identity can be as extreme as viewing yourself as a shell of a person consumed by your diagnosis, to something so subtle that you live a high functioning life and it is but a passing thought in your head.

The turning point for me was acknowledging my mental illness had become a part of my identity, and deciding I didn’t want that anymore. My therapist gave me support as I tried lots of different things to try to find me again. It’s one thing being far along in recovery and managing symptoms, but it’s another to continue to tackle the root problems that may have caused them in the first place. For me, reading books has been a hobby I’ve enjoyed getting back into, as well as starting scrapbooking in the summer 2017. Another big step I’ve taken is reconnecting with Christianity which has also helped me meet a lot of amazing people.

To anyone else struggling with their identity during/after a long period of illness, that isn’t you. There is so much more to you than your medical history. The places you love, the hobbies you have, the friends you choose, the things you believe, even the person you want to be! Discovering this can be hard when things are still in a bad place, but it opens the door a little wider to a life that isn’t consumed by illness.

Liam 🙂



I’ve recently been having my own ponderings and questions about forgiveness, and what that really means, and how on Earth you do it when it’s something so ongoing. So I’ve decided to put all my findings in a post in the hopes of summarising all I know so far.

The definition of forgiveness is “to stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake”. To me, forgiveness is accepting what has happened, even if what has happened is wrong. It’s being okay with something even though what happened wasn’t okay. My very amazing friend Cody who has contributed to a blog post on here before shared their insight on what forgiveness means to them, as well as how religion has influenced this…

For me forgiveness is about trying to put things in the past so I’m able to move on. I tend to ruminate a lot on everything that happens to me and so when someone upsets or angers me I really feel the impact. Usually it takes me some time, but when I forgive someone, even if I don’t get the chance to tell them I have forgiven them to their face, it helps me to move on, and forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget. There is also a power to forgiveness. Even if someone has wronged you and made you feel small, you do still have one power in you – forgiveness is powerful. I might feel like someone has taken everything from me, but the power of forgiveness is something nobody can take from me. When I forgive, I feel like I am making my own decisions again. 

Buddhism has really helped me to understand forgiveness. It’s not about whether someone apologises or whether they are truly sorry, it’s about the kind of energy you put into the world and whether holding onto anger and hurt is going to help. There are some things that are really difficult to forgive, but if you are able to forgive, it is such a relief. Forgiveness relates to treading the Earth lightly. It’s like when you meditate and you let thoughts pass through your fingers like smoke – forgiving is about letting go and recalibrating yourself so that you can move on from bad feelings and live in the present moment again.

Forgiveness is hard. Not only because it is a state of mind but because you have to keep choosing it. You have to forgive them every time you remember what has happened, on your best and worst days. DBT teaches ‘radical acceptance’ which essentially means completely and totally accepting and stopping fighting reality, because life can be worth living even with painful events in it. Rejecting reality does not change reality.

I think this lines up quite nicely with the Christian view of forgiveness, although Christianity takes it a step further to having compassion for the person who has done wrong. I’ve been looking towards Christianity for some support in accepting and forgiving the persecutor of past trauma who is still in my life. As well as forgiving myself for what I’ve done wrong.

From what I have gathered, forgiveness isn’t one decision, it’s something you choose every day. It’s fair enough forgiving someone for hurting you once you have had a brilliant day and you have survived despite mental illness and feeling proud of how you have managed. Or when you have helped someone else which you couldn’t have done without your experiences. However on the days where you feel like it’s your fault, you’ve had a meltdown or are consumed by flashbacks, and still choosing to forgive. That is hard.

My hero Corrie Ten Boom talks about it in this short video. It’s just 2 minutes long but managed to fill me with hope.


Thank you for reading,

Liam 🙂

I am Thriving


A week or 2 ago it was mental health awareness week. I like to think I played my part by going to the Walking Out of Darkness event and sharing it on social media. I still wear the top I got from there, in fact I’m wearing it right now. Last year I did a blog post on spreading awareness which outlined lots of different ways you can spread awareness, mostly using social media. I’m proud of myself to still be blogging a year on from then, and hope to be making a similar post with even more insight a year on from now.

So, mental health week came and went, but the phrase they focused on is still on my mind. Am I surviving or thriving? I was lucky enough to hear directly from the CEO of the mental health foundation that only 1 in 5 of us answer thriving.

Determining whether you are surviving or thriving depends on your personal view. Many things are taken into consideration, like how you are doing in comparison to your past, your overall emotional wellbeing, what limits you feel you have and how far in accepting yourself you are. However, I think the question in itself is very subjective, so to objectify it, let’s look at the definitions of the word.

  • Surviving – continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.
  • Thriving – prosperous and growing; flourishing.

I’m going to throw it out there, I see myself as thriving. Or more specifically, surviving whilst thriving. That may not be what some expect, I battle mental illness every day and I do have a lot of bad days, however there are some more things I think are more important…

  1. I have come so far in just a year. In fact, I make significant progress as a person every month
  2. I’m not in crisis. Especially when it comes to psychosis, this is amazing and is a marked improvement in my mental health
  3. Despite my own depression and suicidal urges I still experience, I know I do not want to die
  4. I feel content with myself. There are always things I’m going to want to change, however if I stayed like this forever I would be content
  5. I’m doing the things I love as my work
  6. I set monthly goals and am meeting them. Achieving things always make me feel awesome, no matter how small those goals
  7. My support system is strong
  8. I have a positive and hopeful attitude towards my life and my future

Thank you very much for reading, see you tomorrow

Liam 🙂

Daily Posts


I’m going to be attempting near enough daily posts this month. We’re going to see how it goes, but I will definitely be posting a minimum of 10 over the period of this month so please follow if you’d like to read them. On average I post 3 a month but I really enjoyed doing blogmas in December and was really happy with the things I wrote about, so I will be trying again. I go to college full time so I am busy but I’ve got lots of ideas for posts and will be trying my best to create posts I am happy with regardless of their length. Quality not quantity!

Over this month I will be writing about mental health as per usual but other topics too like…

  • Being transgender – how my referral to Tavistock is going and how I’m coping being pre-t
  • Spirituality and my recent interest in chakras
  • Yoga – following up from my January goals
  • Books – reviewing Doing it! By Hannah Witton

And more!

See you tomorrow

Liam 🙂



I’ve recognised a sense of avoiding my blog recently. I think that because I have talked about my struggle with mental illness in the moment it is happening, it has made me feel quite vulnerable. I think that the new vulnerability and honesty is a good thing but I need to take a step back and post something I really enjoy talking about… books!

I have always been a book worm, I know I was reading books throughout my childhood, despite me not rememebering a lot due to dissociation. In the more recent years I haven’t been able to read much at all. My concentration has been at an all time low these past 2-3 years because of psychosis mainly, (let me tell you, hearing voices 24/7 makes so many simple tasks near impossible!) but guess what?!! I made it my 1 year goal to read a book. With the help of coloured acetate, glasses and stable medication I read my first book in years within a few days of setting the goal!!! Now I have read 4 books in 3 months and am just starting a 5th! 

I want to share with you the books I have been reading and letting myself get absorbed into, just like I did as a child. Below each book is a mini review 🙂 

The ABCs of LGBT by Ashley Mardell (Now Ash Hardell)

A very thought provoking and well laid out book. I enjoyed the analysing of different identities and terms such as bi erasure from the point of view of those affected by it, along with colourful illustrations and lots of reflective suggestions. I would recommend it to every person as an easily accessible information point for all things LGBT+, and I’d recommend it as a reading book to people with an already general knowledge of LGBT+, whether you are an ally, are questioning or are comfortable within your identity and what that is.

 The Art of Being a Brilliant Teenager by Andy Cope, Andy Whitaker, Darrell Woodman and Amy Bradley

A very easy read that I gained a lot of insight on how to be a positive and an all round brilliant person. I’d recommend every person to read just the first few pages, from that you will work out if you are bothered enough to make changes to yourself to have a better quality life or are fine being ordinary. For those that choose to read on you will be satisfied by all the colourful quotes and anecdotes and genuine suggestions on how to be a better person and get more out of yourself and life. Not just limited to teenagers, also people on either side of the age bracket and parents of teenagers too.

 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

An amazing and beautiful story told from the point of a young boy going through the trauma of watching his mother battle cancer. A monster starts to call round his house each night and tells 3 stories, with the deal being the boy tells his story after. This is an incredibly well written book with realistic characters, vivid imagery and a gripping plot. I would recommend this to adults as much as I would to children, especially to those who have been through some kind of trauma. I found I related hugely to the young boy and liked how it was told from his own in denial perspective.

 BZRK by Michael Grant

A complex science fiction novel that takes a lot of patience and concentration to understand but is very worth it. It has a lot of interesting characters with room for so much further development I hope to read in the next books. The concept of BZRK and having the world split into nano and macro sounds scientifically believable and is talked about so vividly it’s like you are taking a step into their world. I love the focus on death or madness, and all twitchers (people who enter the nano world) are named after mad people like Vincent Van Gogh and Sylvia Plath. A unique read that I’d recommend to anyone with the capacity to constantly be working things out, perhaps a minimum age of 12 though as it is very dark at times. 

Currently reading: Stealing Snow

Future reads: Doing it!, BZRK Reloaded, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Being Jazz

Thank you for reading. I’ll see you in my next post,

Liam 🙂

January Goals


I hope you have had a positive start to the year and are happy and healthy. I’ve had a shaky start, hence the lack of posts, but I am back with lots of ideas for upcoming blog posts. 

Going back to Christmas time (when I last posted) I got through it the best I have done in so many years! I was able to celebrate the festivity and not be constantly distracted by mental illness. I haven’t been in crisis and that has been so relaxing in comparison to the last few years.

In December I mentioned how January is historically a very bad month. Although it has been very difficult and I am struggling with psychotic symptoms, I am managing. There is little paranoia which I am so glad about and I’m managing to branch out from my isolated bubble.

Generally I don’t think the whole ‘new year new me’ thing is that great but if it reminds people to reflect on themselves then it can’t be a bad thing. Instead of setting ‘New Years resolutions’, I set 4 January goals. These are:

  • See my care-coordinator every week. With no other professional support in a difficult month this has been important and I have achieved it so far. It’s helped me stay on track and feel better in general.
  • Start the search for a therapist. My psychologist left quite suddenly in December and I’ve been on the lookout for someone since. I made a huge amount of progress with her and haven’t wanted to stop that momentum. During the month I’ve met 2 new therapists but they haven’t seemed all that great. It has helped me realise what I need in a therapist (someone to challenge me safely, not just listen) and that I can actually cope without one.
  • Start yoga. This was to help combat physical pain, so far I’ve been to my first session which was great and I’m excited to be going weekly from now on.
  • Read a book. I have actually finished reading a book!!!!!!! In case you’re interested it was ‘Ths ABCs of LGBT+’ by Ashley Mardell. 

I will end this post with some good news…

I got a letter from Tavistock (NHS gender identity clinic for under 18s) and should have an appointment within 3-4 months! I’m so happy about it!

I hope everyone has a good week, I’ll see you soon in another post.

Liam 🙂


I find checking in with myself is important. It keeps me connected and in touch with my mind and means I can notice issues so I can take action. Right now, although I’m not in crisis I’m at a low point and this is the stage checking in helps me the most.

I’m incredibly worried about the most vulnerable time of year coming up, and also that I’m without a psychologist or psychiatrist. I’m hoping it won’t be for long but I have to wait and I have no idea how long. It’s made me realise how lucky I am to have had a secure care team for so long which I am grateful for. I saw my psychologist for the last time earlier this week and her leaving has been quite sudden and badly timed. Pretty much all therapeutic input has come from her so now I’m left with near to nothing. Although, looking on the positive side I’ve learnt so so much with her help, about how dissociation works as a coping mechanism for my head and it’s relation to trauma. It means I have more coping mechanisms when I’m struggling like this.

January is the month I have severe psychotic episodes that have consistently got worse each year. I live with psychosis every day but these episodes take months to recover from and are centered around a strong delusion. 

As I deteriorate I isolate myself which I am doing now. I’m trying my best to have contact with people regularly and will hopefully find it easier with the return of college routine. I’m also making sure I am looking after myself physically, and managing that. 

I have many positive influences that will help me more. I am at college doing what I love, I have a stable routine, there are lots of changes of scene involved in my routine, I have learnt how to acknowledge emotions so will hopefully be less dissociated, and I have coping mechanisms to help this. I’m aware I sound really formal but that’s because I’m struggling to connect with the reality of how bad I feel. I will make it though. This check in has been helpful. Well done me!

Liam 🙂