As far as cliches go, I tend to avoid them. However, the saying that imperfections are what make us beautiful is in my opinion 100% true. Without the differences big and little that make us all unique, we’d wouldn’t be ourselves and to be honest we’d probably be downright boring!
Freckles, scars, individual body shapes and sizes, birthmarks, stretchmarks, wrinkles… the list is endless but all of these things are incredible gifts that imprint our bodies with our own special trademarks, whether we like them or not and are proof that we’re living, growing people. I’m not saying that I haven’t struggled with my own personal body issues, believe me I have, but I’m on the road to accepting the imperfections that represent me.
Most of us have an ‘imperfection’ we don’t like but that someone else badly wants – I used to hate the freckles that cover my face and shoulders, but often get genuine compliments from others saying they wish they had freckles. Spreading the love and making people feel good about themselves with even the smallest of gestures is such a simple but rewarding act.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, I wanted to join the discussion with the reminder that no one ever needs to suffer alone. Asking for help and reaching out seems like the most daunting and unthinkable thing, and you truly believe that no one will understand what you’re going through, but just telling someone how you feel can bring the biggest sigh of relief and comfort that others have been through the same.
I won’t pretend it isn’t hard – seeking help takes guts and bravery, but once the barrier is broken and the hardest part is over things get a little easier and you can learn ways that work for you to improve your mental health, even if that is just sharing your problems with someone you trust. In my experience, finally admitting I was a little bit lost and accepting that I had a mental illness to a family member was the most difficult but best thing I ever did, and the acceptance and guidance I received afterwards made me strive to get better.
Personally I don’t think a mental illness ever really goes away, but it’s something we learn to live with and keep on top of. Obviously everyone has down days and times we doubt ourselves and our progress, which makes it important to practice self-care and remind ourselves of what makes us feel good and healthy.
Most importantly we need to keep talking about mental health in a more positive and open way to try and break the stigma. No problem is bigger or smaller than another and if we all share kindness and acceptance those who most need it might feel more able to ask for the help they deserve.
When I look at a photo of myself now and see things I don’t like, instead of criticising my appearance and making negative comments in my head, I focus on the things I do like. I think exercise and healthy eating also plays a big part in balancing mental health, although when you need it letting yourself pig out and having a chill night is equally as essential. I might not have the flattest stomach and I have stretch marks and freckles galore, but these things make me who I am and so I’m learning to embrace them, which I think has had a massively positive impact on my mental health.
ph. Amy Jones