boshemia magazine, mental health, Personal Essay

A Love Letter to Antidepressants

by Georgia White. This piece appears in Boshemia Magazine: BODIES. 

At the Museum Brandhorst in Munich there’s an art installation, comprised of rows of shelves two metres tall and nearly nine metres long. Sitting on the shelves are hundreds of small multi coloured objects, varying slightly in size. I thought, at first glance, that they were miniature painted cars. The installation is actually one of a series of cabinets by Damien Hirst; the work is entitled In This Terrible Moment We Are All Victims of an Environment That Refuses to Acknowledge the Soul. The objects are pills.

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guest writer, mental health, opinion

Men Must Stop Using Male Suicide as a Trump Card

Regular contributor Liam Atterbury discusses the frequent mis-placing of important discussions around male suicide and mental health. You can see more of Liam’s work in Issues 02 and 04 of Boshemia Magazine, available from our online store.

Six months on from the death of Anthony Bourdain and the topic of male suicide still lingers on the tip of our collective tongue. Horizon has since produced an incredibly articulate and sensitive documentary on the subject of male suicide, and institutions such as Samaritans and Verywell continue to raise much-needed awareness through prolific research and writing. As I lay in my bed, trawling through my Facebook or Twitter feed, I can see that the issue of male suicide is still very much at the forefront of conversation, yet I cannot remember the last time I saw an article on male suicide that did not refer to it as a gender-based issue. This is, of course, because male suicide is a gender-based issue, and has a rightful place in discussions of such. However, the topic seems to be surfacing in the strangest of places, and as a weapon. Continue reading

author: ropa, interview, Personal Essay

The ‘Incomplete’ Family: A Short Symposium

Boshemia columnist Ropa is in conversation with her two housemates about their experiences of growing up in single-parent households.

Isabel sips her hot chocolate while Diana eats toast.

‘Are you gonna use our names in it then?’ Diana asks.

‘I’ll use different names.’ I reassure her.

I place the recorder in the middle of us and the comfortable atmosphere morphs into an anxious silence. Isabel puts down her hot chocolate. She squirms in her seat, cheeks flushing. Diana becomes stern, her features fixating into still positions. I’ve known these girls and lived with them for three years now, but as soon as I put the recorder down a wall is built between me and them. As common as this is in modern society, its effects on us personally are something we rarely discuss as adults. Isabel makes a joke to lighten the awkward tension. She was always one to keep the room pleased. Continue reading

author: alex n, mental health, Personal Essay

Sometimes, I Don’t Feel Anything

cw; mental health, depression

Two paper bags on my floor, several errant socks and a pile of clothes at the end of the bed (and spilling out of the washing basket). Dinner was a prepacked sandwich and two bars of chocolate. I think it’s been over a month since I called home. It’s been worse than this. At least this I could clean up in half an hour, or less. No mounds of orange plastic bags or infestations of flies. Chemical air freshener over the smell of rot. Not this time, at least.

No one knows how bad it got. I can’t find a way to talk about it that makes sense, and the words come out like I’m spitting wet hair. I’ve deleted and rewritten these sentences several times already because I feel like I’m admitting a terrible a secret, that people will view me differently. That they will see me as something wrong. Or that my words will be trite, because they add nothing to the conversation. My intention isn’t to be dramatic, or imply that I’m unique in how I feel. Just to articulate something difficult.

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guest writer, LGBT+, Personal Essay

Ode to an Ever-Changing Wardrobe

by Robbie Masters. Robbie is a writer and fine artist based in Bristol, UK. Their work addresses questions of transgender identities, mental health and sexual politics through a queer feminist lens, drawing upon their personal experience as a queer, femme survivor. 

There’s a grumbling in the basement; in my stomach; in the depths of my mind. There’s a protective cocoon of quilt and down. The faint smell of warm computer dust mixes with the vinegar from a newly opened packet of Chipsticks. Carpet burn has ruined yet another pair of school trousers and scuffed black shoes have no place in this world. Grass stains tell tales; proving that I’ve seen the ground up close. Trip, graze and tumbledoes it hurt? 

The TV picture wiggles at the other end of the room as signal fades in and out. There are crumbs everywhere. A printer noisily chokes out a piece of ink-saturated paper with Barbie’s new clothes on, ready to be folded and glued down with Pritt stick. As I carefully shape the rigid orange dress around her tiny naked waist, lumpy breasts and slippery smooth legs, I am blissfully unaware that I will one day go to the same trouble to put my own outfits together. 

The dressing-up box is a distant memory. Years of rooting through hand-me-downs mean that I know what I’m looking for. I don’t always find it, but I’m drawn to a bargain. There, on the sale rail, is a white wide-neck top. It speaks of beaches and cleavage. It’s in the men’s section, but it’s different somehow. For the first time I feel a flutter of risky autonomy. I’ll buy it. I won’t wear it too often—I think it may be a tad girly. I’ll buy it. 

I’m flustered after being told I’m in the wrong changing room. Shoulders restrict me from getting my arms into seemingly endless sleeves. My calves make even the stretchiest of denim fall faint. A reluctant waistband digs where it shouldn’t, while the inside-leg seam grimaces and relinquishes its grip on the now-fraying undercarriage stitches. My bum won’t fit into these jeans.  

A charity shop scramble helps me figure it out, I spot a couple of things I adore. The gentle nudge from well-chosen friends gives me confidence to explore. A floral shirt meets a vintage bow tie, suit trousers worn high with braces or a belt. A cheap pair of high-street dungarees call my name. My darling fave comes with me for moral support and before I know it I’m buying them, wearing them and feeling adorable. There’s no turning backI’m cute now; I’m loveable.

Buy a few sizes up, learn to love leggings and discover the freeing swish and sway of a culotte, skirt or flowing maxi. Engage only with the top button of a silken blouse or a pattern akin to the most beautiful of flower gardens. Forget the clothes that have been designed for your body type those fuckers don’t know you. A new length of hair and carefully painted face combine with my newfound drapery to form what I think you might call confidence. The colours give it personality, with blushing flowers and matching rosy lips breathing life into the whole ensemble. Is this what it’s like to feel pretty? A deep sigh says that I can do this. The world tells me I can’t.

The box of bow ties still sits among my hoarded possessions, a reminder of my journey to queerness. Drawings of me from my first year of university depict a character I likeone my friends are fond ofbut not one I identify with. Shirts still hang in the wardrobe, caressing a Moss Bros suit bag that holds the handsome two-piece that once saw the success of graduation, a summer wedding and a string of job interviews with the happiest of outcomes. Thanks Mum. 

I split myself for a while. I lived in separate boy mode and girl mode, blending the two to an extent, but always travelling with one tucked away in the depths of a wheeled suitcase or screwed up in a rucksack. 


Robbie Masters

‘If you’re coming round, are you alright to change first? My housemates are in’.  I may as well have cut myself in half. I was hiding again. 

I pushed boundaries and burnt my comfort zone to the ground. I took clothes to my beloved charity shops. I shopped and shopped again. Many a selfie I took. I cried when I glimpsed the mirror and my face wouldn’t complete the look. I cut myself shaving. They told me to be careful but I took care not to care. I tried to be pretty and society mocked me for it, but my friends and family kept me strong. My partner loved me all along. 

I’m wearing pyjamas to the shops again. The worst happened, but my clothes no longer cared. Clothed or naked, rock bottom felt the same. I’d still feel the pain of a body betrayed. 

With help I found new ways to love myself. My body learned to twitch with tension, commanding respect and rejecting repression. I found sanctity in a laser and honesty in my nightmares. My world was upside down, but my skin looked great and my hair stayed glossy. I fought for survival and sought to forgive myself. My love lent me a jumper to keep me warm. My mum sent me a sunshine-yellow scarf to brighten my spring. With the promise of a shopping trip I can weather the storm, I think. 

My facial hair wriggled and fell out at my command. I put on weight and I liked it. I ate a lot and I loved it. My clothes still fit, because I bought them too big. My boobs are larger than ever. I’m pregnant with emotion and I’m full of shit. My clothes are different, but I’m coping just the same. I’m wrapped in a duvet, still fighting off the shame.

‘Ode to An Ever-Changing Wardrobe’ originally appeared in the BODIES issue, available here.
guest writer, mental health, Personal Essay

A Self-Care Approach to Mental Health Isolation

by Kelly Ronaldson. Photo by Naomi August.

This time last year, I was halfway through my first year of university, living in the heart of my favourite city, and on my way to securing my dream career. Things weren’t perfect, but I had an incredible group of friends, a revitalised love for writing and a newfound hope for my personal future. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out exactly the way you want it to. Within a few months, my mental health began to deteriorate as a severe wave of depression took over and eventually led me back to where I started. Three weeks ago, I packed up everything I owned, drove 250 miles and moved back into my mother’s house.

What I hadn’t considered was how living alone for the past year had clouded my memories of living in an environment where discussions of mental health issues were extremely limited. The truth is, not everyone has the ability to reach out to friends, family or partners and explain what they’re going through. With such a negative stigma surrounding mental health, those who care about us are likely to deny, trivialize or dismiss our feelings and our symptoms, simply because they’re struggling to understand, and trying to explain ourselves over and over can be exhausting.

Living in an environment like this can be toxic, and speaking from personal experience, avoiding these types of conversations can lead to conflict, hostility and emotional repression. Not everyone has access to a healthy and encouraging support network, and having no one to turn to can be incredibly isolating. There are plenty of resources online for people who are trying to help loved ones with mental health issues. But where are the resources for those of us who have to work towards becoming our own support network and deal with our mental health struggle alone?

One of the most significant things I’ve learned on my own journey is the importance of making time for self-care. Even the smallest things will make a difference, like brewing a cup of your favourite tea, or just watching a silly, feel-good movie. It’s the kind of thing you’ll find in every single self-help book on the market, but it’s there for a reason – it works. Sometimes shutting the world out every once in a while and taking a mental health day can be extremely beneficial too, or focusing on something that you’re passionate about. For me, this involves throwing myself into my writing, and pushing myself to discover as much new music as possible, ultimately tackling my own isolation on a social level and serving as a useful and enjoyable distraction.

That said, a crucial element of being your own support network is not allowing the distractions to take over. Let yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling, and if necessary, write it out. Journaling is one of the most common methods for coping with mental health, as it allows us to process and understand our emotions – particularly when we have no one else to confide in. Find whichever outlet works for you, and roll with it. Meanwhile, take note of what your triggers are and learn when to say no if something doesn’t benefit you or make you feel good. This has without a doubt been one of my toughest life lessons, but you should never apologise for putting your mental health first.

With this in mind, make it a priority to get the treatment you need. For some people, this is medication; for others, it’s therapy. Do your research and find out what resources are available in your area. From mental health projects to activity clubs and support groups, every local community has something going on. Ask your doctor, email your local council, or search online, but make the most of local support. Some of us don’t have an immediate support network to rely on, but if experience has taught me anything, it’s that there will always be someone to listen if you take the first step and reach out.

I’m nowhere near where I want to be on my mental health journey, and I know that it’s going to take a long time for me to get there. Taking a step back and moving home, no matter how stressful and hostile the environment may be, has actually been incredibly helpful. Allowing me to employ these techniques and understand what my real needs really are is the most useful thing I’ve learned in 23 years. The most important thing is to remember, however, is that we’re not actually alone; everyone has a story to tell.