Tag Archives: zines

Mouth to mouth – life rings, friends, eating disorders at university (Tw: EDs)

2 Apr

I’ve had an eating disorder for a couple of years now. I don’t remember when it started, exactly.

Here’s some other things about me:

Before coming to Edinburgh University last September, I took a gap year, filled with sun, with new and exciting things, with people I didn’t know, with being as far from an academic life as humanly possible, and on August 17th I had a tornado of a day where I found I didn’t get into Medicine at Edinburgh, then literally 30 minutes later I found a place doing Biomedicine at Edinburgh, and well. It was a lot.

I’m really glad I came here – it sounds cliche but I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else now. It’s good to power out of second semester with something approaching contentment, but the first few weeks, months, were rough.

 

I was bringing some stuff into University – along with my physical, beloved clutter of magazine cutouts and tinsel wall hangings that I’d been dragging from room to room since I was 14, I had this eating disorder which almost no-one knew about, that I couldn’t quite shake.

 

Because no-one knew about it, and those who did thought that it was done (and it was ! I swore it was! I wasn’t that person anymore), I guarded the secret of how I wasn’t doing fine like someone keeping a cranky goat in their bedroom when their landlord doesn’t even allow a goldfish.

 

There was a plan for university. I like plans.

If you don’t know already, EDs give you the tendency to make weird rules about food, and by extension about everything else too. If you stick to these rules it will be fine. If you don’t – well. You don’t want to know. So don’t break the rules.

 

Firstly, work with what you know; I’d been cooking big meals for my family since I was in my early teens.

The way to deal with this thing, I thought, was to make enormous salads and pack up all my problems in tupperware and bring it to the library. Adding to that was the fact, in the back of my mind, that I would overspend somehow and I’d have to ask my parents for money and as well as humiliation and the desire not to repeat the mistakes of my older sister, I knew they couldn’t afford it.

I ate a lot of plain oats. I turned over peanut butter jars and hummed about the price, and buying tangerines AND apples in one week was a treat. I ate like a fucking saint and didn’t stray except for booze, but that was ok in the Mental List that I must constantly consult, although occasionally I was like hangovers probably shouldn’t feel as world apocalyptic as this, but everyone feels like that.

 

Did I mention? I also liked going out, but my cast iron throat and simmering worry about calories led me drinking Lidl vodka with tap water as a mixer. My flat, bless them, must have thought some Things about me.

I told them about being a recovering bulimic, appropriately, while drunk. Honesty is cruel.

 

Secondly, which was both an aside and the whole damn point of being here, I didn’t know how university worked. I came directly, underprepared, bewildered, into second year, from a year of fucking about, and absolutely everyone knew each other.

I’m not very good at making friends in the best of circumstances. Imagine this: I wore a lot of eyeliner, and worked really hard while not knowing if I was making any progress, and didn’t speak to a single fucking soul for a month. It felt like that, at least. I had a conversation with someone coming out of a practical and I went home and wrote in my diary how it felt I was walking on air, couldn’t stop grinning, the world had become real again and people were real too, I wasn’t so devastatingly alone –

 

Being lonely at uni SUCKS.

 

They don’t give you this as one of the paths you might choose, coming into uni – you’ll make the best friends of your life and it will come as easy as breathing, they say. My friends from home, and we’d been friends for the better part of my life at that point, told me about the cool drugs they were taking and how they were one step away from getting each others’ fucking names tattooed on their buttcheeks. Cool. I’d joined a society.

That was good, I guess. I joined another one.

 

I’m making it sound awful.

Some of it definitely was.

This is not a sad story, however.

Each weekend I would choose a place to visit in Edinburgh on my rusty bike. I would bring lunch, and I cycled to art galleries and along canals and to the beach and to the hospital and to some weird parks. Choosing to be alone is a completely different thing and I treasured these afternoons, remembering again that I was an interesting and thoughtful person, agreeing with myself about art or colonial history, reading in cafes.

 

I made a zine about things being weird good and weird bad.

I’ll come to that in a bit.

 

However, something had to slip. I did, not spectacularly, but quietly. It felt kind of inevitable, monitoring myself that much, expecting that much, that something would happen. I felt like an idiot, and weak. Aware that I was making this entire experience an Arthur’s Seat when it really could have been a stroll across the Meadows (only Edinburgh peeps will relate), it was my secret, the slip. I would not recommend repeating this experience.

 

Christmas came. I was worried about that too, because, food, but I got home and hugged my sisters and almost cried.

 

You know what? Fuck this. I got firsts in all my courses and joined the gym.

Nothing is irreparable. I am not broken, and I never was. I reached points that would have previously been it, enough to ruin a day or a week, and I moved past them.

 

Second semester – I had got a pair of sick Fenty Pumas for christmas, and I was feeling the love of my family swell up in me like it was visible, and I had a game plan again, but this time it wasn’t based on hating myself.

I made a friend. Miraculous – we were introduced, and we were friends, and we ate pop tarts.

I made another.

I joined a society, and another, and another. I started teaching sex ed at schools and looked at these kids and said “The clitoris is a really important pleasure organ, and so is the frenulum,” and my younger self would have died to be in the same place.

I made another zine. This time it was filled with bright colours and a drawing that I really liked of me looking out, tired but gaze steady, while lime green ghosts swirl around me.

It was good, suddenly, to be here. I bought cakes from the constant bake sales outside the library and it was OK. It really was.

 

I can’t explain to you what changed over Christmas.

 

I can say this: not everyone is OK, not by a long shot. We are all living in this weird place, with weird people, and a quarter of us have mental health problems and even if it’s not diagnosed (which – hey!), things go wrong, often with domino-like devastation. 

I’ve been getting a lot more involved with uni extra curricular life, and especially the mental health side of it. It’s explicitly designed to be academically stressful – the coursework, the deadlines, the feeling of being left out on your ass – but that wasn’t the problem. I just needed someone to talk to, anyone. 

To be honest, I don’t know if it could have gone any other way than the way it did, with me being how I was, and emotions are incomprehensible and they have changed like the seasons in a great crocus burst.

But maybe it would have been good, to have a space.

 

Speaking of.

Someone made a group called Students of Edinburgh Eating Disorder Support (SEEDS) and I joined, a little guiltily, at the start of January.

Zines for me are a illustrated diary. I thought about how my ED had informed my university experience, and how I had never heard anyone talk about it, and my response was, make a zine.

Then I thought about how I could involve other people since apparently my life included that now.

Does anyone want to make a zine about this? I asked.

 

Yes, it turns out.

 

Flash forward to literally a month and we have funding and I’ve made a great new friend and it’s getting printed on glossy paper: the real, weird, sad, ridiculous, struggles of coping with what can feel like 2 separate full time jobs – university and being mentally ill. It’s called Mouth to Mouth. I drew the logo. I did that. We’re making badges and posters and all of that. I’ve had to learn what marketing is, and we’re maybe making a committee. 

This has been an amazing experience, and most of all has taught me about making a space for anything you’re interested in, or sad about, or just the power of being vulnerable and motivated simultaneously. 

My point is: there is a space for that. You can make a space to talk about what is hard in your life in a productive, interesting way. There are enough people here that someone will be able to hear you – other students, sure, but if it’s really hard then there are spaces where adults who actually know what they’re talking about can help you too. (This is not a ringing endorsement of our deeply flawed mental health system, but we can Still Have Hope.) I don’t know who this is directed at – past me, maybe. Anyone who’s ashamed. 

Please look after yourselves. I can say that too since I’m learning how to. Make art and chill out and do things you like doing. If you’re lonely do something new and if that doesn’t work try again.  

It’s tough that I actually like it here, since ironically I’m going to Montreal next year, starting September.

I’m not starting this shit again.

No square one.

Contact us at mouthtomouthzine@gmail.com or make your own goddamn zine about being sad at uni. I believe in you.

 

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whoops i was creative again

12 Jun

Look! I drew some more shit! Enjoy! This post leads on from my last attempt (please don’t judge me).

drugs zine 1

drugs zine 2

My mum is a Scientologist, and SERIOUSLY against drugs, and while I see her point, I thought it would be funny to make a zine based on exactly what I’m not meant to do.

fuck you bambi

This has literally no point apart from the fact that I really enjoy swearing, Disney and extensive and time-consuming watercolouring.

diary 2

Another spiky, angry diary.

moonrise kingdom 1

moonrise kingdom 2

A zine about vibes gained after watching the movie Moonrise Kingdom, which was visually wow. I made this with a friend, which was actually really fun and not style-crampin’ at all.

Another zine, this time a shitty attempt at autobiography. Although I am quite proud of the title. It sums me up pretty well, even if you can’t read the writing (ugh why did i write with such a shitty pen oh well no regrets).

iced buns and bad puns 1

iced buns and bad puns 2

This side has a fold out, on the read me page, and on it I’ve written a list of books I want to read and books I’ve read and loved.

And last but not least, the exceedingly strange drago-kitty who just wants to fuck shit up! I blame this on Cat, who gave me a request for ‘kitten breathing fire and insulting me’, and really, how would I refuse? Again, no excuse.

you suck kitty

I can’t draw.

10 Feb

fashion page asos

I can’t draw to save my life. However, despite this affliction, I insist on trying to create some of the things that roll around my head of an evening. The one above was the result of a new magazine and my love for glue and scissors. I really do like making something out of shit left around the house. Pretty proud of this, not gonna lie.

celebrity zine 1

celebrity zine 2

These two were part of a zine mainly made after 2 o’clock in the morning. It was meant to be about the pressures of celebrity and how we follow those who are beautiful for no reason other than physical appearance, but as with most of my zines, ended up as pretty pictures. Sigh. It does look pretty good though, and the FUCK OFF page was suitably inflammatory for my dad to shout at me about my excessive swearing.

diary 1This was the result of a particularly bad day, full of fuckitall and homework and endless ow. I have a few of these, almost diaries scattered around the house and my bedroom, written in spiky black capitals without punctuation. In a leap of pretentious artistic spirit, this was meant to signify by churning, almost incomprehensible cramped thoughts. I sound really depressed here. I assure you that I am not usually.

valentines day ideas

This is late night Valentine’s Day card ideas. I am indeed, a sad sod, as all reports previously have suggested. I do my best stuff late at night, apparently.

I have lots more shit to show, if wishes are expressed that the shit is of good enough quality. I like doodling and writing and everything seems neater and more manageable if it is on paper in a folder tucked under my bed.

Love from Jelly, forever, who promises to send you all Valentine’s cards is she can be bothered.

 

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