Love has no gender.

This morning I stumbled into a conversation that got me thinking about that three letter word. You know the one that everybody is intrigued to know about but always cautious to discuss publicly. What word are you thinking of? SEX is what I’m talking about and how society’s perception that one must conform to one gender or forever be known as a deviant or even worse a confused being.

Ever since I can remember I have adored women, from school teachers to neighbours and of course those oh so accessible celebrities. Obviously being a ten year old girl there was no such thing as lust, merely just a magical feeling of a majestic magnetic pull. The smell of a woman, the vision of her beautiful smile and the sense that with a woman you could never have an awkward silence. Of course I had many crushes on boys, usually older boys, my penchant would be for those with facial hair and tattoos. What enabled me to snare a boy of my choice was and has always been my ability to be “one of the lads”, after all I felt dee inside I was somewhat masculine, a tomboy I could play football, rugby and I could deliver a tombstone piledriver better than The Undertaker himself (I’m talking WWF Wrestling for those who wonder if I’ve lost the plot).

I had no problems finding a boyfriend, although for my boyfriends they faced the gauntlet of shame being paired with me. As I’ve confessed previously I was the target of lifelong bullying, the common theme was that I was “too ugly” and “a tramp” so I was regularly dumped for some other girl who had the latest “rockport” and “Charlie perfume” irrespective of whether they had a face Picasso would find inspiring and a set of teeth that could open beer bottles.

Romantic wise I did have quite a few successful relationships at what you could call an underage stage in my life, there was Jacko, Mark Spencer,Twins Milo and Layton(yes at the same time,) Daniel Hogan, his brother Peter And Lastly Danny. Out of them all Danny was the first love of my life. Despite being older than me, (and a ginger, not that I cared) we had a pretty intense relationship. I worshipped the ground he walked on. With my first ever wage I would spoil him rotten and spend many a romantic night holed up in his bedroom watching films, smoking weed (him not me) and drinking WKDs. Who said romance is dead.

Despite him cheating on me, we continued on, blissfully, until the voice inside me became to loud to resist. My secret was I knew I fancied other girls, It all came to head after falling ridiculously in love with a girl in my school year.

This girl was the typical popular girl, slim, short, Blonde hair , Blue eyes, she was fit and she knew it. In my mind it was a stroke of fate that we were paired together during our English GCSE project studying Romeo & Juliet of all things! From that moment Juliet & Juliet was all I could concentrate on. My world all of sudden turned sapphic, even more so when merseyside cult TV series, Brookside at the time had a lesbian love triangle with mother/daughter Lindsay Corkhill (Claire Sweeney) becomes a lesbian, as does her mother, who then steals her daughter’s girlfriend.

For me, watching this unfold made me excited and even more curious about how I would discover and experience this whole other world. Whilst myself and my female crush studied together I disclosed that I had feelings for her, not that this repulsed her, quite the opposite secretly allowing me to hold her hand under the table in the library and giving me her mobile number. Of course this all remained just our secret. One particular night I poured my heart out in a love letter and gave it to her the next day. Around two months later I walked into school to many not so unfamiliar dirty looks and whisperings “dyke” “Lezza” was the words of choice, I thought to myself just another day in the life of Louise , until I walked down the sloping ramp to the cafeteria and there is was in all it’s glory THAT LETTER.

Yes this beautiful girl I adored and had done nothing too had photocopied my love letter and plastered it around the school. Obviously she denied all responsibility, apparently the said letter had been found by her boyfriend whom thought it would be good fun to publicly out a girl who was already the victim of the playground bullies. So the taunts became the norm , dyke and rug muncher were scrawled on my books , not that I was bothered at the name calling, I was more livid because I took pride in my work books and the scruffy writing made me an angry girl.

After that I tried to avoid the object of my affections despite her doing her damnedest to make a show of me, asking me for a spare pen in front of the whole class, this type of attention drove me crazy. Around this time I started a pen pal friendship with a Danish lady called Helene Lunde who was older than me, and lived in Denmark.

We met via teletext (oh yes there was no match.com then) I wrote to her sent it via airmail then we started a snail mail friendship/courtship Helene was lovely, we had many similar passions, Savage Garden being one of them. During one particularly tough time in that period I recorded my thoughts and feelings on tape to send to Helene. I was at the time a victim of sexual abuse by a local businessman from the age of 13-15 and decided to disclose to a teacher, this then resulted in charges being brought and a court case at Minshull Street crown court followed.

After two weeks the verdict was not guilty on insufficient evidence. This for me was devastating not only did I presume I was being called a liar but I also lost both my loving grandparents in the space of eighteen months. I left school surprisingly with eight fairly ok GCSE’s under my belt.

A short two week stint at college followed but due to matters out of my control I had no choice but to seek employment and at the time the only thing available was making the beds and serving tea at the local nursing home. So I was fifteen working full time and finding my feet in the world.It was at this time I was then reunited with my ex boyfriend Danny after a short time apart.

My sixteenth birthday came and so did my first ever venture into the world of Manchester’s gay scene. Rightly or wrongly I knew that this would be the only time I would have to discover my true self. Dressed up like a member of 90’s Irish girl ‘bewitched’ head to toe in denim and long black hair matched with lustful eye make up I went to the only lesbian bar in the village at that time. Myself an day best friend Kerry strolled in like Kath N Kim to stares that could best be described as confusion and lust! Hilarious. So we managed to pass the ID challenge and ordered our VHF. Then at the corner of my eye I spotted a gorgeous but short girl with dark spiky hair.

Obviously being the shy girl I am, I subtly gave her a wink and the world famous “want a drink hand gesture” the rest of the night was spent talking with her , she was twenty two, a full time chef from Hyde. After a few drinks The moment I had waited for all my life had arrived, we kissed and in that moment I finally felt I had arrived, I found myself. Fireworks, butterflies, acceptance it all arrived in that one embrace. We exchanged numbers and I found myself at home that night lay in bed smiling like I had won the lottery. The next day I broke up with My boyfriend. It wasn’t easy but finding out he had been sleeping with his ex behind my back made the betrayal by myself much more acceptable. My romance with Marie lasted around four months, during which time I had left home and moved into a bedsit. I hadn’t fully slept with Marie so the way in which she cruelly dumped me was the kickstart of my ongoing depression. I spiralled into a world of drugs, sex and self harm. Sleeping with men was easy for me, it was a quick ego boost, they didn’t want me for my personality and not did I want them for anything other than a physical workout.

The first woman I ever slept with was worth waiting for , I met a single mother in a bar in Manchester, she was thirty so sexy and bisexual. After our physical relationship we became friends and she was and still remains one of the most beautiful women I have ever loved or known. My first long term relationship with a woman was explosive and poisonous, yet again she was older (she was twenty seven, I was seventeen) this relationship wasn’t good for either of us, she was troubled, I was needy. After being subject to emotional and domestic violence I broke up with her and left my home we shared and once more moved into a bedsit with nothing but my cat and a few belongings.

I guess I could sit here and write down every conquest and one night stand, but I’m aware that I have already faced some pretty harsh criticism for my honesty.

What I will say is that no matter who I have loved and been in a relationship with I loved them with all of my heart. Unfortunately for me it was always the older women that chased after me, many of these women that at times tore me apart not just mentally but financially. One of the hardest times in my life was in 2006 (I was twenty) when I was caught pregnant after a drunken liaison, whilst I had been on a break from my female partner (she was thirty seven ) .

The heartache that unfolded because of this situation has caused me irreparable damage. Having an abortion on December 24th 2006 will live with me forever. Thankfully my relationship with my ex partner at the time survived for a year afterwards but it was like the elephant in the room, after i went into town one night i was drunk and vulnerable , catching a taxi home on my own at 2am I was raped by a taxi driver who then Unbelievably took my money from the jeans he tore form me. After coming in covered in scratches my girlfriend accused me of sleeping around, I was too ashamed and in shock to tell her the truth. In January 2008 we sensibly but also heartbreakingly departed and are now five years later are respectful acquaintances.

Since I left home at the age of sixteen I have had six long term relationships, five with women ,one with a guy. During times of being single, I regularly dipped my toe in the waters of dating men but I couldn’t fall in love with any of these guys. Not because they were men but because we didn’t connect in the way I do with a woman.

For me love isn’t defined by ones private anatomy, I have always fallen in love and been attracted to a persons soul. For me that is what is so beautiful about love. It has no gender, no label, and no expectations.

If you are struggling with your thoughts and feelings about who you are attracted to trust me when I say follow your heart, ignore the bigots and hate and take the leap. Open your eyes, mind and heart, You never know you may just find your soul mate.

Sending Love as always,

Louise. Xx

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A brand new kind of me.

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“Life is a roller coaster just gotta ride it” so warbled a famous Irish singer. I understand where he is coming from. It’s Thursday night and I already feel like its been the longest week of my life. As you may or may no know I made my TV debut on Tuesday night, appearing on cult dinner party programme “Come Dine With Me”. Filmed back in April in my home city of Salford it was an experience that will last a lifetime.

I won’t go into the details of filming etc, you can read that on my previous blog “Don’t Dine With Me”
I’m here to release some emotions I’ve been bottling up inside since the episode was aired on Tuesday night. I have unsurprisingly searched out comments regarding the programme and as expected I was given a bit of a slating on various social networks. What was said about me in parts were true, I am most certainly a flirt, I am overweight and yes I do like the limelight.

Since I was a young girl I have used my humour to try and make friends, this was due to my low self esteem being told everyday that I was ugly and nothing really damaged me, the playground bullies and emotional abuse left me shattered. An experience that I haven’t recovered from even now at the age of 28. I still find myself the subject of bullying by certain sections of the Salford Rugby League community. Annoyingly the perpetrators are children, that have yet to live half the live I have had to endure.

Since leaving home at the tender age of 16 I have tried my hardest to fit in and make a positive difference in people’s lives, becoming a full time care assistant in nursing homes was testament to how much I cared about others, even when it was detrimental to my Mental and Physical Health.
The same can be said for past relationships, I’ve been physically and emotionally abused to the point where I retaliated and used physical violence as a reaction. For that I will eternally be ashamed of myself. I’ve never set out to intentionally hurt anybody nor disrespect anyone.

I feel forever hopeless and fearful that I will feel unlovable and unfulfilled, which is silly really considering the amazing family and friends I have, not forgetting an amazingly wonderful wife.
I guess when you put yourself out there in the way I do I am inviting negativity.

What I will take from the experience of the past few days is to always embrace kind words and turn the hateful words into motivation, to help me grow and develop confidence in not only the way I see myself but how I move forward in both my professional and personal life.

To those who have been amazingly kind and supportive, thank you your words mean more than I can ever say.

Much love,
Louise xx

A letter to Asda

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Dear Asda,

I write this email with a sense of disgust and disbelief in regards to your Halloween range of fancy dress costumes. As one of the leading retailers in the UK believe it or not you have a duty of care to ensure all customers are welcome, even those whom you perceive to carry meat cleavers, splattered in blood (aka Mental Health Patients). As you are a strong believer in promoting statistics about how you out value your rivals please do see the stats below about “Mental Patients”
The great majority of people who experience a mental illness do not die by suicide. However, of those who die from suicide, more than 90 percent have a diagnosable mental disorder.

People who die by suicide are frequently experiencing undiagnosed, undertreated, or untreated depression.

Worldwide, suicide is among the three leading causes of death among people aged 15 to 44.

An estimated 2-15 % of persons who have been diagnosed with major depression die by suicide. Suicide risk is highest in depressed individuals who feel hopeless about the future, those who have just been discharged from the hospital, those who have a family history of suicide and those who have made a suicide attempt in the past.
An estimated 3-20% of persons who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder die by suicide. Hopelessness, recent hospital discharge, family history, and prior suicide attempts all raise the risk of suicide in these individuals.
An estimated 6-15% of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia die by suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of premature death in those diagnosed with schizophrenia. Between 75 and 95% of these individuals are male.
Also at high risk are individuals who suffer from depression at the same time as another mental illness. Specifically, the presence of substance abuse, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder put those with depression at greater risk for suicide.
People with personality disorders are approximately three times as likely to die by suicide than those without. Between 25 and 50% of these individuals also have a substance abuse disorder or major depressive disorder.
As a full time employed Mental Health advocate and sufferer of Mental Health illness I can say with conviction, it is such carelessness and unsympathetic views such as yours that fuels the unfair and totally unreal opinion the majority of society have when it comes to dealing with Mental Health illness.

I would like to politely request you withdraw this item from your stores and apologise publicly.
Despite Asda showing blatant disregard for the well being of Mental Health patients I have faith that many of your customers will continue to take the positive action in tackling mental health stigma.

After seeing the tasteless and crude item that is currently available at your store I have no choice but to take my custom elsewhere.

Lastly may I suggest a suitable costume for your executive Christmas party this year.

Kind Regards,

Louise Woodward-Styles
A Mental Patient
Sent from my iPad

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Don’t Dine With Me

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. -Aristotle

Well what can I say,Fame even for an hour of my life wasn’t all I thought it would be. Firstly for somebody with a chronic low self esteem seeing myself “larger” than I expected on TV was gut wrenching and a real moment of realism. I have avoided my weight issues for a long time now. I wasn’t happy with how I looked and I realise the power to change is in my hands only.

Ever since I can remember I have always tried to be the entertainer, the class clown and the cheeky one of any social group. It is my way of trying to get people to like me. This is where many of my problems stem from, not realising when and when not to cross the line. For those who have watched the programme you make think my behaviour and flirting with Shinny was outrageous , cringeworthy and disrespectful. I just have to say I’m happily married to a woman who has known me since I was 17, it doesn’t excuse my behaviour nor condone it. The problem is I tend to live in the moment and get swept up by the whole spotlight thing.

I certainly didn’t think for a moment Shinny would even look at somebody like me, not because I am overweight and facially challenged but because he is happily settled and it was nothing more than cheeky banter between two like minded souls. It’s the northern humour in us, that daredevil cheeky spirit that made us connect.

What you weren’t shown was how the group did click, Suhki isn’t boring or pretentious he is warm,polite , kind and fun loving. Just like Fiona was a warm, loveable and flamboyant woman.
I will have to my hold my hands up and accept I had been naive and gullible to believe the producers wouldn’t stitch me up.

I guess that’s their Job, but out of 100+ hours of filming they had so much more they could of shown that would of enabled the viewer to have a fairer, truer reflection of each persons personality.

My food was a bit rubbish but it’s hard when your in front of the lights and cameras, your nerves are shred and you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

I am only human so reading negative comments about my weight, my appearance, my personality is bound to hurt me. I’m probably one of the most sensitive people you could meet, but I have also had the most lovely messages of support and kindness, which proves that I should always take heed of compliments and allow the negatives to make me grow and develop a thicker skin.

Throughout that week I had an emotional breakdown of a sort, which required some medical attention. I realised how my behaviour may have affected my marriage, but luckily I have a super strong, amazing, and loving wife who understood my desires to be liked. And thankfully my relationship survived my antics.

I am contractually obliged not to say anything about how the show is made etc, but I will say don’t always take what you see on the screen as anything but brilliantly crafted sound bites of the bigger picture. So you honestly think I would talk about dihorreia on a slide if I wasn’t encouraged to tale an embarrassing story from my childhood. On the flip side I thought it was bloody funny.

Despite being distraught and embarrassed upon my first viewing of the show, I’m now accepting of what it was. I can only be myself, and if I’m opinionated, cheeky and a flirt then so be it. I would never intentionally offend or belittle anybody. It just isn’t my style, more so because I have been the victim of bullying throughout my life so I know I’m an easy target.

Since the show was filmed in April I have remained in contact with the gang and a member of the crew who was an absolute diamond (Mr Betts). As a girl I always dreamt of fame and adoration but after an hour of prime time TV I think I will stick to my day job.

Thank you for the love and kindness.
Much love always,
Louise
P.s Pork so does taste like chicken ūüėČ

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It’s been a while, I’m not who I was before

“Remember: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself.
Life’s cruelest irony.‚ÄĚ

As the title suggests it has been a while since I sat down and attempted to put my thoughts into some kind of perspective. I don’t know why I’ve come here tonight, maybe the chaos inside my mind needs to be given some room to breathe.

As you know from reading previous blogs or just being in my networking circle I am a very ‘open book’. I wish I could put my finger on the pulse of what it is that makes me so despairingly unhappy internally. On the front I have everything that I could possibly want, a loyal loving wife, a reasonably well paid and respectable Job, A nice rented house, no major financial issues and a close group of loving friends and family. The truth is I feel myself drowning in my self made world of pity and loneliness.

Everyday feels greyscale,I wake up and merely exist, the same routine the same feelings of complete failure. I look in the mirror and see nothing apart from a person I don’t know or recognise, which is ironic really given the amount of posing and pouting I do in my profile pictures. But that too is a facade, I try to look for a glimmer of self pride in my appearance but see nothing.

I feel I lack identity and originality, almost like I wouldn’t be missed if I wasn’t around. I desperately try to make amends for how I feel inside by making myself irreplaceable, always willing to do for others even to the detriment of my well being.

I am working so hard inside to try and turn these feelings around. I have started to compose my synopsis for my first book. I have been publicly working for Leigh Centurions designing and promoting their Summer Camps, I have also been involved with a now launched Children’s Rugby League Charity. I have had so many social networking commitments that I have tried to honour and the feedback received has been positive.

I just don’t know how to feel proud and happy inside. My physical health is suffering , I am grossly overweight and also need to quit smoking due to the early onset of COPD, but for some reason I fail to pick up the baton and run with it. Yesterday I lay in the bath for over an hour and just wondered if I will be able to ever feel complete?

I’m not sure what the answer is, I am still on my antidepressants (Venlafaxine 225mg) and once more I’m awaiting a referral to the psychology services despite being diagnosed as having an emotionally attached Personality Disorder back in March.

With my 28th birthday looming I guess I feel more aware of my journey so far, and how hard it has been. The heartbreaks, betrayals,overdoses,and loss of friendships has taken its toil and I guess this I why I find myself here at this point.

Fragments of my self laid bare for all to read, I’m not worried of being judged,for the harshest judge is the girl named Louise.

As always I will try and get through this dark episode. After all I entered this world vulnerable , so once more its time to continue on with the fight of my life.

Thank you for your support.

Louise xxx

Fragments of myself.

‚ÄúShe was like a drowning person, flailing, reaching for anything that might save her. Her life was an urgent, desperate struggle to justify her life.”
 
The above quote is a perfect way to describe my current flailing state of mind. Yesterday was one of those ‘brick wall’ days. I haven’t wrote a blog for a while. There hasn’t been any particular reason for not writing ,I suspect subconsciously I haven’t documented my feelings for fear of allowing my vulnerability to show during periods of my life when I’m trying to be professional and attractive.
 
I lay in bed last night and just cried, there wasn’t anything in particular that brought me to that point, in essence this is what is the most frustrating part of depressive illness. The ongoing feelings of emptiness,and hopelessness. The past few months have been so busy, my wife asked me to think of what I have been doing the past few months and write down so I could see just how much I have been doing for others. So here it is
 
The Save Our Salford campaign (Organiser/PR/Host) 
The Phil Byrne Project (Media and Fundraising) 
Diagnosed with Emotional BPD
International RL monthly columnist 
Participant on Come Dine With Me
Salfordonline Guest writer 
Best of Salford- Paid Blogger
Design Work for Rugby League Clubs,Players,Supporters
RL4Alex-Media 
 
All whilst working a  full time 47 hour week as a Mental Health Worker,lone working supporting Adults with enduring Mental Illness
 
I guess when you look at it like that I’ve kind of been doing quite a bit. The problem is in my mind I never have a sense of satisfaction or self pride. I guess this is a symptom of my deep rooted ¬†Low self esteem issues.¬†
 
I guess I’m just rambling on , I’m not sure what it is I’m trying to say here. I guess I just want you to know if I have let anybody down it is not out of malice, it’s simply because I’m forever trying to fill the void in my heart and soul. My sleep pattern is completely out of sync, I feel fatigued constantly and I know I need to look at my physical health if I want to feel body positive.
 
Stay with me though as I will get there eventually.
 
Love as always.
Louise xx