Mental health takeover: ‘Speaking out is the best thing you can do,’ says 18-year-old from Norwich

Filmmaker Tallulah Self. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Filmmaker Tallulah Self. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Tallulah Self has been living with an eating disorder for a number of years, but only sought help in 2015.

Filmmaker Tallulah Self. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Filmmaker Tallulah Self. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

The 18-year-old, from Norwich, said the key was to take every day as it comes. And recognised the feelings of loneliness which came with eating disorders and mental illnesses.

To brinbg two parts of her life together, Tallulah - who is also a filmmaker - created a short film featuring her own poem about anorexia.

She said: 'I've felt quite alone and isolated at times, especially as sometimes it feels no one really understands what I'm going through or knows what to do - and that can feel quite scary.

'It's also meant I've become quite reliant on people - my mum in particular - so I feel quite 'young' and vulnerable I guess, compared to my friends.

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'But on the flip side, when I take steps out of my comfort zone by doing things that challenge the illness, I've felt empowered and strong.'

Tallulah had a unique view of mental ill health, comparing it to surfing.

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'You're trying all you can to stay on the surfboard, and sometimes the sea will be rough and try to knock you off, but you just have to hold on tight and wait for the waves to become calm again,' she said.

'Surfers don't try to change the waves, they just ride with it and accept them, whilst focussing on the wave in front of them - not waves which are miles away or miles behind. Sometimes you just have to 'ride' with however you're feeling and accept it without being hard on yourself, because feelings are only temporary and it will pass.'

She said she found distraction techniques helpful, such as watching TV or reading.

'My top tips are to take each day as it comes - or each hour even if things are really difficult,' she said.

'I try to not get caught up in my thoughts by just letting them enter my mind and pass by, not thinking about them or from them.

'It's always good to have plans to look forward to, I find this really motivates me to keep going.

'Sometimes I write down a list of things I'm grateful for - it's good to remind yourself that things actually are okay and nothing bad is going to happen.

'And most importantly, speak to people - tell them how you feel, talk about anything, just see people - however hard that may be.

'It's important to remember you aren't alone - many people are experiencing exactly what you are. As hard as it can be, speaking out is the best thing you can do for yourself.'

• For more from the EDP's mental health takeover special edition, click here.

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