Why James Bond is black

Whether Idris Elba is the next James Bond or not, people have certainly been talking about it a lot in the last few days, and not all of them are happy. Despite Elba being pegged the favourite to don the signature suit and bow-tie, there are some people who are up-in-arms over the potential casting. Why?

Because “James Bond isn’t black”.

Now, having only watched a snippets of the films myself, I’m not exactly an expert on all things Bond, though there are many things that the character strikes me as. Bond is arrogant, manipulative and perpetually misogynistic, but he’s also something else: fictional.

Many have been quick to point out that Bond – an English spy who works for M16 – has been played in the past by an American (Barry Nelson), a Scot (Sean Connery), a Welshman (Timothy Dalton), an Irishman (Pierce Brosnan) and an Australian (George Lazenby), so clearly the casting of Bond over the years is already fairly flexible, or at least when it comes to casting white men. It’s difficult to see why no complaints were made about these actors taking on the role, especially when Elba was born and raised in London.

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Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig as Bond.

The point that I want to make about Elba’s casting is that because James Bond is fictional, he can be whoever we want him to. A character whose role has been passed on for fifty years, existing in a universe outside the realms of ageing or anybody questioning why his appearance continually changes, it’s a little hard to understand why he can’t be black. Especially since there is a theory circulating that James Bond is in fact just a code name used by various agents and not a consistent character.

Race is not and has never been central to the character of Bond, or his story-lines, there is nothing about his character that suggests he has to be white. Therefore, if the actors that play the role can be interchangeable, why shouldn’t his race be too? Similarly to the controversy that surrounded Jodie Whittaker being cast as the Doctor earlier this year, because “the Doctor is a man”, these arguments simply lack weight and portray nothing but a desire to cling onto the outdated idea that intelligent, powerful leading roles belong to white men alone.

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George Chakiris as Bernardo in West Side Story (1961).

To give an example of when a character’s race is central to their storyline, take West Side Story (1961). The plot centres around a race war between two gangs, the Sharks (a Puerto Rican gang) and the Jets (a gang of white Americans), that erupts when two members from each side fall in love. The race of these characters – particularly the Sharks – is vital to the movie because it focuses on the tensions that still exist between immigrants and white Americans, as well as the prejudices that immigrants face even today. Without casting Puerto Rican actors, this in itself becomes nonsensical and uncomfortable to watch, though it is exactly what directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise chose to do. Maria, a Puerto Rican woman who falls in love with a white man, was played by Natalie Wood – a white, Russian-American actress. George Chakiris (a Greek-American actor) was among other white actors who played a Puerto Rican character, and it has since been noted that both he and Wood wore brownface for their roles.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that these roles never should have been given to white actors. In cases where the character’s race is essential to the role and to the storyline, then filmmakers have to take that into consideration and act accordingly. Not only do castings such as these deprive people of colour of roles that they so obviously deserve, it is a complete misrepresentation of their experiences and at worst just irresponsible. It is for reasons such as these – the historical white-washing of roles in Hollywood – that people of colour struggle to obtain such high-profile roles such as Bond, as they can’t even get in the room to have their voices heard when it comes to telling their own stories.

And although there were ructions when Scarlett Johansson was cast as trans man, Dante “Tex” Gill the other month in Rub & Tug, causing her to quit the role, people were quieter about her casting in Ghost in the Shell, as Japanese cyber-human Motoko Kusanagi. Perhaps because this is not new.

White actors have been being cast in roles as people of colour since the film industry first began. Whether it be Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger, Emma Stone in Aloha, or even Rooney Mara in Pan, there is certainly no shortage of roles meant for POC going to white actors. And while none of these movies centre around race or issues surrounding it, these castings were incredibly awkwardly handled and entirely misplaced. There is a huge difference between casting a black man in a role that has historically been played by white men and casting a white man as a Persian prince (see Jake Gyllenhaal).


Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in Pan (2017), Mickey Rooney as Mr Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Johnny Depp as Tonto in The Lone Ranger (2013) and Emma Stone as Captain Allison Ng in Aloha (2015).


And that’s why Idris Elba is completely entitled to the role of Bond, and I think that we should be welcoming him to it.

There is a clear absence of black men in spy and action films, in fact, the majority of black leading actors find themselves in dramas, comedies or biopics. Black actors have been pigeon-holed into the roles of the gangster, the token black friend and the addict, and Hollywood is still playing catch-up when it comes to giving POC the roles that they deserve.

If Elba is cast as Bond, it won’t be about “political correctness” or affirmative action, it will be because he deserves that role. He’s proven in the past that he can play gritty, intense characters such as his roles in the Wire and Luther, but that he can also be suave and intuitive, which is exactly what the role of Bond calls for.

So if these casting predictions do come true, and Elba is the next Bond, then I for one am excited to see where it goes, not for the Bond franchise, but for the representation of people of colour in more mainstream Hollywood roles and genres.


A poem to commemorate the Manchester bombing, and all the beautiful lives that were cut short by a meaningless act of hatred.

May 22nd, 2017.

A year since we saw

that terrible scene.


When the best night of their lives

became their worst.

The world came crashing down

and the bubble was burst.

Because “it couldn’t happen here”

only works until it does

and everything you thought you knew

is shattered all because

a man armed with darkness

and a backpack full of hate

tried to tear our spirits down

but he would always be too late.


And so we held our breath for Olivia

and shed a tear for Saffie Rose.

We had our minute’s silence

and for a moment, the world froze.


But we get tattoos

and we sing our songs

and Manchester carries on.

We light our candles

and leave our tributes,

for the 22 are not gone.

22 lives were lost that day,

but their lights will never go out.

For celebrating their love and lives

is what today is all about.


We must not be afraid

but it is okay still to cry.

For with every tear

that falls from your eye,

– remember this.


We won’t look back in anger

and will not lead with hate.

Manchester is a place of love

and we will honour this date.

Muslim or Christian,

gay or straight,

whether you’re six

or eight-eight.

Whether you were born in Moss Side,

Morocco or Kuwait,

whether you live on a farm

or a council estate,

we are Manchester

and we are great.



Hannibal Lecter: Cannibal and Anti-Misogynist?

Image result for clarice and lecterLast night was the first time that I watched The Silence of the Lambs (1991), directed by Jonathan Demme, and what immediately struck me was how much more likeable Lecter was as a character than any of the other male characters presented. Although it’s true that Lecter is already a more interesting character in terms of depth, he is also altogether more respectful than any of the other men in the film towards FBI trainee Clarice Starling.

It cannot be argued that the male gaze features majorly in the film, with Clarice receiving many unwelcome and often objectifying glances from multiple men, including her colleagues and superiors. When Dr Chilton first meets her, his first comment is on how he can’t recall having encountered another detective “so attractive”, following this by asking her if she’s planning on staying the night. And while he is by far the most forward of any of the objectifying males that Clarice encounters, he is definitely not the only one. Every room that Clarice enters in her work is filled with men, immediately causing her to stand out. This does not go unnoticed by the men either, whose eyes are almost constantly on her. Lecter himself knows this without even having to witness it, prompting him to ask “don’t you feel eyes moving over your body”, as he is aware of how a male-dominated workplace will react to a young woman.

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However, what Lecter does is to admire Clarice not for her body, but for her work. For while Dr Chilton states that Clarice was only hired by Crawford to “turn [Lecter] on”, therefore diminishing her education, expertise and hard work.  Lecter himself does not do this, choosing to interact with Clarice as his equal.

Although the cryptic clues that he offers her surrounding Buffalo Bill could be seen as him toying with her, I choose to see them more as him trusting in her intelligence. While he could give her the answers she wants immediately, thus ending the process, Lecter wants to see her prove herself and demonstrate that she is as perceptive as he believes her to be. He gives her the clues because he knows that she can solve them. Thus, he recognises her skill, viewing her as a detective rather than a sexual object. He even goes as far as to punish those that objectify her, such as fellow prisoner Miggs, who tells Clarice that he can “smell [her] c***”. Lecter gets Miggs to bite his tongue in perhaps the most brutal way possible – by convincing him to swallow it. It is never explicitly mentioned why he does this, though the implication is that it’s a result of his vulgar language towards Clarice. It could even be suggested that the reason Lecter is seen following Dr Chilton at the end of the film upon his escape is due to his objectification of Clarice, though it is more likely due to Chilton’s work at the facility that he was held in.

Lecter is a character known for his dislike of rude people – with them often becoming his victims – however, his treatment of Miggs is particularly interesting in that he vocalises what many of the other male characters are implied to be thinking. Lecter is the opposite of this, choosing to punish those that act in this way and view Clarice as a professional. And though he does manipulate her in other ways, such as getting her to reveal things about her past and purposely using up time to provide little information, it is clear that he has respect for her. Clarice herself says once she knows Lecter has escaped that “he won’t come after me”, as even she is aware of his regard for her. She doesn’t fear him just as he doesn’t disrespect her.

Hannibal Lecter is definitively not a good person, though an excellently crafted character. His respect for Clarice is not meant to portray him as a well-rounded individual, but to shed a light on the commonplace disrespectful behaviour of ‘good men’ towards women. It is interesting for an audience that a serial killer-cannibal has more respect for women than her work colleagues, as it draws an interesting comparison between the two. We end up having more appreciation for Lecter than we do for the people responsible for his capture.

The Silence of the Lambs is by no means your all-round feminist film, nor does it contain some immensely powerful lesson about women. What is does, however, on some level, is examine the male gaze in its most common form and touch on what it feels like to be a woman in a male-dominated field. Not what you’d expect from your typical crime-drama, but not an altogether unwelcome observation either.

Bisexuality FAQ

Image result for bisexual flagComing out as bisexual is something that I’ve only really felt comfortable to do in the last year or two. And although now, I discuss it quite openly among friends and the occasional group of people, I’m still wary of the reactions that it can sometimes receive. Most of them, due to the misconceptions that surround bisexuality, which I hope to address here.

The official definition of bisexuality is ‘an attraction to both males and females’, coming from the of prefix ‘bi’ meaning ‘two. However, many people have since argued that bisexuals can still be attracted to those that do not see themselves as fitting within the gender binary. Usually, this is termed ‘pansexual’, but many bisexuals feel that this still applies to them. Personally, I find that it is more about which term you identify with most. I feel more comfortable using bisexual, as pansexual is still not a widely recognised term, although I can’t rule out attraction to nonbinary people, etc.

Since coming out as bisexual, I’ve been asked some pretty shocking questions, some that have offended and even upset me. However, I have found that this is not uncommon for a bisexual person to experience. And so, I have decided to answer some of them here, in the hope that at least one person will feel a little more informed.

Does that make you more likely to cheat? 

Being bisexual does not make you more likely to cheat on your partner, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a monogamous relationship. Plenty of straight/gay/lesbian people cheat on their partners, so already you can start to see why this question is pretty redundant.

Yes, bisexuality does open up the pool of people that you may potential be attracted to – with potential being the key word. Bisexual people are not attracted to every person of every sex, just as straight people aren’t attracted to everyone of the opposite sex.

But most importantly, someone’s sexuality does not influence their morals.

So are you, like…half gay?

Bisexual people are not half gay or half straight. What we are, is 100% bisexual. There’s no concrete way to define it, some bisexuals are more attracted to one sex than the other, some experience equal attraction, it could go either way.

But the way that one of my friends described it to me is this: if you mix blue and red, you get purple. You don’t get blue/red, or half-blue-half-red, you just get purple.

Sure, you’re in a relationship, but who else are you interested in?

Don’t confuse bisexual with polyamorous. Again, someone who is bisexual is perfectly capable of being in a monogamous relationship. Of course, there are plenty of bisexual people out there who are polyamorous, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Bisexuals can commit to one person just as easily as anyone who is straight, gay, etc. Equally, they may choose not to, but this is not part of their sexuality.



Why can’t you just pick one?

Simple: because I’m attracted to both.

Someone who is straight can’t choose to be gay, and someone who is gay can’t choose to be straight. So asking a person who is bisexual to choose to be either of these things is equally as pointless.

The main problem I have with this question, is why? Why do I need to just choose one? I can’t see why I should have to limit myself to only loving certain people because of something as unimportant as their gender. When you love someone, it’s about who they are as a person, how they make you feel, whether you can make each other laugh. Why would you want to miss out on that just because someone else says you have to only be attracted to one group of people?

It’s neither greedy, nor indecisive, it’s just what I’m attracted to.

How do you know you’re bisexual if you’ve never been with someone of ____ gender? 

Being a bisexual woman in a relationship with a man, I dread this question. I myself have never been with anyone of the same sex, but I know that I’m bisexual. The easiest way to answer this is this: how does a heterosexual person know that they’re heterosexual if they’ve never been with the opposite sex? This is the same question, and yet we would never ask it of a straight person. Because we just assume that they know.

So why is it any different if you’re bisexual? You know who or what you’re attracted to, you’re the only person that does. And regardless of what other people say, it doesn’t matter whether you act on it or not. That attraction is still there, and is completely unaffected by experience.

But you’re with a boy/girl, does that mean you’re straight/gay now?

Nope, still bisexual.

Oh, so you’re in your experimental phase then?

Bisexuality is not a phase. It is just as real as any other sexuality, however, it just so happens to be highly sexualised and trivialised by both the media and porn. It is portrayed as something exciting or erotic, only for secret boarding school liaisons or bad fanfiction, when really, it’s just as mundane as any other sexuality. And also, all you’re doing by saying this is demeaning somebody’s sexuality, so please don’t. Bisexuality is already vastly misrepresented, and questions like this only add to that.

But all women are a little gay though, right?

As much as many lesbian and bisexual women out there wish this were true, they can tell you better than anyone that it’s definitively not. Where this misconception possibly arises from is the more fluid attitude towards women’s sexuality. In fact, women are almost encouraged by the media to be more fluid with their sexualities, mostly because it is considered to be more erotic for men. Either way, women are seen to be much more open with their sexualities, hence this misconception, as it is encouraged more.

Men, however, are encouraged to fit into one of two tight little boxes: gay or straight. And if a man does come out as bisexual, he is often told that he is just “secretly gay”.


My experience with mental health

As May – mental health awareness month – is drawing to a close, I thought that I would take this opportunity to share my own experiences with mental health. Due to the stigmas and sensitivity surrounding this topic, this is perhaps one of the scariest things that I have written. But before I start, I would like to first point out that mental health is such a broad topic, and that everyone’s experience of it is different. In my view, my experiences with mental health are quite mild in comparison to some, but I still believe that any mental health problem – no matter how small – deserves to be addressed and heard.

I can’t say for sure when exactly my struggle with mental health began, yet if I had to pinpoint a moment that heavily influenced its onset, I would have to refer back to when I was fourteen years old. I had previously struggled with self esteem and anxiety before this, but I think that this was when it began to become a more significant issue. A boy that I went to school with – “K” –  messaged me one night, saying various explicit things, that I definitely did not reciprocate. I remember being immediately repulsed, and messaging his cousin to tell him about it. And I thought that that would be the end of it. His cousin told his parents, who told K’s parents, who were more than displeased.

I went into school the next day a little apprehensive, though fairly certain that nothing more would come of it. And sitting there, in my last lesson of the day, it seemed that nothing had.

Until K, who sat at the desk in front of me at the time, turned to face me. I told him outright that I didn’t want to talk to him, and tried my best to ignore him, which he clearly did not appreciate.

“You know, you should really just kill yourself. Not like anybody would really care anyway, in fact, they’d probably celebrate.”

I don’t know whether he was pissed off at me for getting his parents involved, or whether he just thought it was funny, but something about what he said stirred some dark thoughts in me that I had never really payed attention to before, though they had most likely been there for a while.

That weekend was probably the first time I ever thought about suicide. Although, even then I’m not sure if I really meant it.

Now, I’m not saying that what happened with K was what started my depression, nevertheless, I still think that it had a part to play in increasing its intensity.

I waited until the weekend was over, went into school on Monday and showed a trusted teacher the messages from K. She was immediately disgusted and reported him to a senior member of staff who spoke with his family and arranged for me to move seats in class. I’d still have to be in the same room as him, but at least communication would be minimal. I thought that I could move on.

But then why didn’t I feel any better? Everything that happened with K lasted only a matter of days…so why did I still feel so low?

It took me a few months – and a lot of conversations with that same trusted teacher, Mrs H – to come to the conclusion that something was wrong. Mrs H suggested that I write a diary to keep track of my mood, and then when it came to our now weekly meetings, I would hand it to her to read. However, something about that just felt unnatural. The things I was feeling were too dark and uncomfortable to put into words, especially words that my teacher would be reading.

So we came up with a scale. 1 was the absolute worst, the darkest I could possibly feel. 10 was the best, most wonderful day. My diary was scattered among the 3’s and 5’s, with the occasional 7.

Mrs H came to the conclusion that I might be suffering from some form of mild depression.

But when I told my parents, it was dismissed as my teacher just trying to push a label on what was just simply ‘teenage hormones’. However, I don’t blame them. I hadn’t exactly given them any clues that anything was actually wrong. So to just blurt out whilst walking the dog with my mum that “oh, by the way, I might be depressed” probably came as a bit of a shock.

So I dismissed it too.

I tried to blame it on my friends, the stress of high school, K, my current lack of a relationship, and anything else that I could. To say that that ruined a lot of friendships is an understatement.

Yet, when these friendships ended, when I no longer had these “toxic” people in my life, I still felt just as toxic as ever.

Until the most wonderful thing happened. I got my 10.

I met my boyfriend online, and we started talking, and it was the happiest I’d felt in a while. But that wasn’t to say that I felt better. I was happy in my relationship, but I still wasn’t happy in myself.

I started going back to seeing Mrs H, and told her that I wanted to start counselling – official counselling. But it was a long and complicated process. Lots of forms, references needed, assessments to see if I would be considered a priority, waiting lists.

Teachers began to pull me aside after lessons, at parent’s evenings they would say that they were “concerned”. I’d have to come out of classes because I was crying, most of the time for unidentifiable reasons. I just felt so sad. I started to find any reason that I could not to go to school. I felt guilty for feeling so low, when I finally had the one thing that made me feel so happy.

My boyfriend tried to be understanding, he really did. But loving someone with a mental illness is hard enough, unimaginably so when you’re separated by 10,000 miles. There was little to nothing he could do when I would call him up crying for no reason, when I would tell him that I didn’t want to get out of bed today, when I couldn’t tell him what was wrong.

I fluctuated between over eating and barely eating anything at all, and my anxiety got even worse. I couldn’t sit in a class without feeling like there was a weight on my chest, and I would have panic attacks at my desk. My self-esteem sunk to its lowest point, and that was when I started to self-harm.

By the time I turned 16, I was at the lowest I’d ever been.

I didn’t self-harm regularly, but I did it when I felt those feelings of guilt. At the time, I don’t think I fully understood why I was doing it. But I knew that I felt guilty because I felt like my depression was my fault, like somehow it was something that I should have control over, and I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I felt like a burden to my family and my friends, especially when I couldn’t explain why I felt so low. This deeply impacted my self esteem, too, something that had never been particularly high in the first place.

Then finally, another teacher at my school referred me to Talkshop.

Talkshop is an advice and information service for young people, that focuses mainly on sexual and mental health. They offer drop-in services, as well as counselling or sessions with a specialised support worker.

I remember first going in, and being extremely nervous. I sat in a stuffy room covered in bright furniture and paintings, and spoke to a support worker called Emma about why I’d been referred. And for the most part, I told the truth. Until it got to the last question.

“Have you ever self-harmed?”

I shook my head defiantly, no. Emma smiled, and told me she had no more questions, and that she’d be having weekly sessions with me from now on, where we could just talk about how I was feeling in a safe space. Even now, I don’t know why I lied to her about my self-harm. I knew that she wouldn’t have to tell my parents unless she felt like I was at risk, and yet I still couldn’t bring myself to say it.

I met up with Emma every week after school. To distract from the awkwardness of the whole interaction and reduce my anxiety, Emma would bring various activities for us to do while we talked. Making pom-poms, colouring in, drawing, anything that would keep my hands busy to stop them from shaking. I felt pathetic, like a child in a play centre. And yet – it worked. Somehow, having something else to occupy myself physically allowed me to say the things that I couldn’t sat stiffly across a room.

But still, things didn’t seem to be improving.

I was still self-harming, I still felt low, I still couldn’t envision a future for myself where I would be happy.

That’s the thing, whenever I thought about the future, I never imagined myself there. When I thought of events even a few weeks ahead, I just couldn’t picture them. I had no ambition to be there.

And although I don’t think I ever seriously contemplated suicide, there were many times when it seemed almost…minor. Like K had said, maybe nobody really would mind?

This continued for a while.

Then the worst day of my life so far happened.

I was getting ready for school in my parent’s room because I’d left my hair straighteners in there. It was a really hot day, so I decided, just for a moment, while my mum was out of the room, to take my cardigan off. After a few minutes, she came back to sit next to me and watch the TV, having casual conversation.

And then she went quiet.

“What’s that?”

My heart stopped, and I looked down at my arm to see my very prominent and very recent self-harm scars were on display. I felt sick, unable to even look my mum in the eye as I heard her burst into tears. She cried a lot that day, and the feelings of guilt only increased.

She took me into school and demanded that the teachers do something to support me further. Although, looking back, I’m not really sure what they could have done. They did try scheduling me an appointment with the school nurse. She made me fill out some sort of questionnaire response about the way I was feeling. When I was done she added up my score and concluded that I “appeared to be depressed”, which wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking discovery.

That night, I was forced to sit in a comically formal fashion at the table with my parents as we had a “discussion”.


“Have you ever thought about suicide?”

“Why didn’t you tell us?”

“Yeah, but you haven’t done this before, have you?”

It was the worst I’ve ever felt in my life, yet it was necessary. Because, after reiterating it to Emma the next week, I finally got what I’d wanted – and probably needed – for months, counselling sessions with a professional counselor.

My sessions with Tracey were just as uncomfortable, just as awkward and just as tense as my past experiences, but they were also the most helpful. She taught me how the simplest things, such as holding my head up when I walk rather than looking at the ground (something I still try to do daily now), can improve your confidence, even just that little bit. I did Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with her on a few occasions, where she pointed out to me the ridiculousness of the thoughts I was having.

“Prove it,” was her response to the majority of things I said.

“I can’t,” was my constant reply.

Things were improving, and I hadn’t self-harmed since my mum had found out. I hadn’t even considered it, because even the thought of it just made me feel that sickness that I felt when I heard her crying about it in the shower after she found out. There was only one thing still holding me back – guilt. Because I’d lied to someone very important to me. I hadn’t told him the real reason why I’d had to start counselling, or why mum took me into school and demanded they do something. I hadn’t told him that I’d self-harmed again.

And although I knew that it would upset him, I felt like I couldn’t move on until I told the truth.

So I began some of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had to have. The things we discussed were deeply personal, and it would be disrespectful to them to write them here for people to see, but the general idea that came out of it was this:

Either I had to get better – or at least to a point where my depression and anxiety were manageable – or we were going to have to end the relationship, not just for my health, but his too.

Now, a lot of people won’t understand this, and may even be offended by it, but due to our circumstances, I think that this decision was reasonable. Looking back on it now, unbeknownst to me, I had developed some fairly manipulative behaviours linking to my mental health. It is entirely possible to have a healthy relationship with somebody who is mentally ill, it just so happened that at that time, that was not what we had, in any capacity.

And so I decided that something had to change. This wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision, and perhaps this change had already started on its own, but I just knew that I wanted to keep this person in my life no matter what. So something did change. I still can’t say what, or how it happened. I’m sure if I could it would be immensely helpful to anyone else going through the same thing. But there was just some sort of click.

During the period where me and my boyfriend were deciding whether or not to continue our relationship, I was the lowest and most guilty I’ve ever felt. And yet, as my counselor pointed out – I hadn’t thought about self-harming even once during that time. For whatever reason, it just didn’t appeal or occur to me as an option anymore, even though this was the most likely situation for me to want to do it.

A few months later, I had my last counselling session with Tracey. We just…ran out of things to talk about. I didn’t have any of the thoughts or feelings that I’d been dealing with for the last two years, and so there was just simply nothing more for us to discuss. And even though I’d only been seeing Tracey for a number of months, I felt like I was ready to move on.

On the day of my last counselling session, Tracey told me that the reason I’d been able to leave so quickly was that when I came to her, I was already ready to change. And I honestly believe that that’s true. Had I been sent to Tracey earlier, and given the help that I’d needed early on, I still believe that I would’ve left counselling on that very same day that I did in 2015. Because the events that lead up to that still had to happen in order for me to be able to make that positive change.

That day that I finished counselling (30th July 2015), I felt a huge relief. The pressure that I had felt on my chest for so long had been lifted. And because it was such a beautiful day out, I decided to enjoy it, as well as my new-found freedom. So instead of taking the bus, I walked the three miles home, holding my head up the whole way.

Now I’m well aware that you can’t just “decide” to get out of depression. If it were that simple, there wouldn’t be 1 in 4 people in the UK suffering from mental health problems*. I can’t say for sure what it was that allowed me to get better, but I can make a good guess.

Because the first step in tackling any mental health problem is to talk to somebody. It might be awkward and it most likely will be the last thing that you want to do, but it will help. Gathering a supportive network of people around you – whether they’re friends, family, etc – will help. It won’t solve the problem, but it’s a start.

Seeking professional help, however, is ideal, though not always possible. Due to the long waiting lists and limited resources, many people suffering with a mental illness face prolonged periods of time without help, depending on the perceived severity of their symptoms. Currently, approximately 1 in 8 adults in England and Wales are receiving treatment for mental health problems*, which is telling of the limited resources surrounding mental health.

I am aware of the fairly mild nature of my struggle with mental health, in comparison to many others, and am sure that this had a part to play in my overcoming it. However, I do not want to downplay my experiences either. It was a long and painful process that damaged a number of relationships in my life (which, thankfully, have now all been repaired). I still struggle daily with anxiety, however, it has become much more manageable, thanks to the techniques that I learned from counselling.

What I hope will come from me sharing my experience is that it will inspire other people to talk more openly about mental health as a whole, and see that it doesn’t need to be a taboo topic. I know that my story is just one among millions of others, but it is also one of hope.

*Statistics taken from Mind’s page on mental health facts and statistics *