Author: Actually Ashleigh

21. irish. model. big brother 15 runner up. reality tv personality of the year. animal lover. shoe fanatic. drama queen.

Say Hi To My Best Friend Anxiety

Did your teachers ever educate you about mental illness? About the facts and figures of the people in our society today, suffering from one? What depression, anxiety or bi polar truly means? What to do if you find your mental health starts to affect you negatively or how to cope with it? Did they teach you what to do if someone close to you is suffering from a mental illness? Or did they at least teach you that it is ok and completely normal for your mental health to be, well, a bit mental?


No? Me either!


Before going any further, I’m not blaming my teachers or anyone else’s for the lack of knowledge regarding mental illness, I blame the education curriculum.


If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll be aware that in Me, Myself & Gucci, 13402518_1632386620411349_1689564625_n I finally ‘came out’ as an anxiety sufferer. I’m not your stereotypical view of a person with anxiety; I enjoy flying, I’m not afraid of confrontation, I’m a good public speaker and I love a good selfie but put me in a room full of people that know a loved one or a group of people who are already friends, then you may as well set me up on death row. Weird, I know!


What’s also weird is that in this day and age people still don’t know the difference between anxiety and depression. But what is aggravating is that having anxiety is nearly as cool as having the latest iPhone going by the many self diagnoses I hear of regularly. If I were to be honest with you, I wish my anxiety was defined by not knowing what to wear for a Friday night out or sitting on Sunday evening knowing I have to get up at 7:30am for a Monday morning.


Anxiety isn’t about trying to choose where you’re going for a bite to eat for your one hour tired lunch break, quickly. I’m exhausted, and have been for some time and I’ve come to realise that managing my anxiety is absolutely draining. That’s how coping with anxiety every day leaves you, tired. Maybe that’s why I don’t have the energy to be social.


People assume anxiety is just worrying about things all the time, it’s not. It’s second guessing yourself as well as everyone else around you, it’s not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, it is constant tension in your muscles from the strain of panic attacks, over thinking everything and just about anything, it’s your mind and thoughts refusing to cooperate no matter what important things you need to do.


My anxiety makes me detest surprises, unexpected visits, disrupted plans and silences in groups of people. It makes me rather walk an extra half a mile to avoid speaking to someone I know that I just seen in the street because I would rather die than have unexpected conversation. I’m very conscious of embarrassing my loved ones, which results in me feeling uncomfortable when surrounded by ‘their’ people. This often leads to me needing a lot of encouragement before turning up at an event that is not filled with my friends, family, colleagues or industry people. Trust me when I say, my anxiety does not make me worry about people liking me, I do not give a sh!t if I am liked. Being realistic why should I care about you liking me? Sadly most of you don’t even like yourselves.


Dealing with the anxiety is hard, sometimes harder than coping with the panic attacks – then again, sometimes not. Trying to explain a panic or anxiety attack to someone who’s never had or witnessed one is difficult. Do you ever have the sharpest pains in your stomach or heave because you need to vomit but nothing comes up but the burning in your throat is still there? Have you ever been shivering so badly because you feel your blood is the temperature of ice but are sweating due to the speed of your heart? Do you know how it feels to have your chest feel so tight because of the intense pounding of your heart or when you’re so dizzy, your eyesight is blurry? Surely you know how it feels for your head to go so light you feel you’re about to faint? Have you ever felt the walls in a room are coming in on top of you and not being able to breathe because of this?


Well, imagine all of the above happening at the one time. Most people’s worst nightmare. me ‘Calm down, just control it’, you say? I’m in as much control over this as I am over stopping the rain.


When my anxiety gets the better of me, the best way I was able to describe it before I realised what was ‘wrong’ with me was; imagine your head split into tenths, nine tenths of it is terrified, panicking, stressed, exhausted not knowing how to deal with certain situations or conversations but the other one tenth is normal, reminds you that things will be ok, you’re not crazy and it will pass. To this day, I’m convinced that the one tenth of my brain is what has kept me sane.


I’m starting to accept it, be open about it and talk about it which helps. The stress of trying to beat it isn’t there anymore but I do have days where I am angry because I can’t control it and others where I get embarrassed because people think I can ‘just calm down’. Would you tell a blind person to look closer or a deaf person to listen harder? Well telling an anxiety sufferer, they’re over reacting/thinking and they just need to calm down is not an appropriate way to deal with it.


** names have been changed for confidentiality purposes
I remember when I decided it was time to learn about my invisible illness. A local lady, Shannon** who suffered from different mental health issues was holding a workshop for four weeks about anxiety. I missed week 1 so due to my anxiety, I didn’t want to attend alone as I knew the people there would already know each other, so my boyfriend accompanied me (it helped him a lot in fairness, understanding how things worked in my head). When I arrived, I wanted to be sick, I’m not sure if it was because I was finally facing reality, because I didn’t know anyone or because I was in a class like room – maybe a mix of all three!


It was quiet, there was Shannon, her cousin Anna** slightly older than me, who also quote-on-stigma-health-56-healthyplace suffered from mental health problems and another girl Claire** who was around my age suffering anxiety. Claire also brought her boyfriend for support. Shannon asked us all to introduce ourselves and speak about our illness (if we liked) as I was new. I did feel comfortable in the room, the girls where down to earth and very open which made me feel instantly comfortable. Shannon went first, then Anna, followed by Claire… Then it was my turn. I got my name out fine, paused, felt a lump in my throat and immediately tried to distract my thoughts from the tears filling in my eyes. I’m still unaware of the length of time I sat in silence trying to prevent the tears from falling but I then progressed to tell my anxiety story. I started with admitting it, which was probably the hardest part and then the tears started falling, the more I tried to hold them in the more ridiculous my voice became. I was comforted by the other girls in the room and that’s when I felt relief; they’d all been there before, they understood which made it easier for me.


With the consolation of everyone in the room, I was starting to realise what my anxiety was doing and in which ways it affected me, why I over thought everything, why I hated answering phone calls and avoided it at all costs, why I avoided looking in my Facebook inbox to check messages, why I detested small talk with people who were not my close friends – it made me feel awkward, why I always wanted to leave parties, events or gatherings early and why I preferred to arrive late to avoid any discomfort. In fairness, knowing this hasn’t exactly helped the situation regarding to me no longer doing the above because I do but it’s helped me deal with at least knowing why.


I shut down mentally, didn’t want to socialise and felt uncomfortable being in contact with friends because I didn’t know how to open up about my illness and didn’t realise there was a way they’d understand. I was insecure about people thinking I was looking for attention, because that’s the way society is – we are not taught to understand mental health and mental illnesses. It is acceptable to call someone an attention seeker for breaking down though?

illness becomes wellness Thankfully my judge of character was right again when I realised my close friends were that
for a reason, I still get texts now when I haven’t been in contact, the latest stating, “I hope you’re ok, get in touch, I miss you”. I still get invited to go places and do things despite the many invites I turn down because of my anxiety but it helps when people understand the reason behind it all.


Don’t get me wrong I did have a handful of friends who threw it back in my face once I admitted my mental illness, one blamed my work and blamed the fact that I was on TV – calling me ‘stuck up’ and another blamed my relationship.


Anxiety is a vicious circle of isolating yourself but not wanting to be alone. You isolate yourself for many reasons, not wanting to bother people, not wanting to appear like you’re looking for attention and feeling people are looking down on you. You feel like people are leaving so you push them away in prevention of being hurt when no one was ever leaving in the first place.


Why are you allowed to openly say that you have a headache or a stomach ache or that the arm you broke last week is sore but I’m not allowed to admit that today my anxiety is making me feel vulnerable?


I’m lucky though, I have friends who still love me, my stepfather fam.jpg makes me laugh every day I speak to him, my little brother is making me more and more proud as he gets older every day, my boyfriend has the patience of a saint and helps me through everything big or small gucci.jpg despite what he has to do, my mammy is the definition of a best friend, sister and mother in one who can distract me from my thoughts and of course Gucci solves everything with a cuddle.


We can no longer complain about the stigma regarding mental health, if we who suffer do not speak openly about our suffering and force those who don’t understand, to learn.

#HelpBreakMentalHealthStigma #SpeakUpTogether #ItsOkToSay

bill clinton quote


A Big Brother Waffle

Well we are at the start of week five and since starting blogging; it was inevitable Big Brother was going to creep in somewhere. bb eye I’ve always been a fan of the show, with many nights over the years, spent glued to it with my mammy. It probably sounds a bit ridiculous but as a former housemate, you can’t help feeling some sort of loyalty to the show. No matter how different the set up becomes, how ‘steamy’ and ridiculous the showmances end up or even how shit the actual episode is, you still watch, you still tweet along and sometimes may even find yourself defending it.


Now that I’m back living in Dublin I’m watching on TV3. One thing I must state quickly is that TV3 need to sort their advert out, as it is certainly not ‘the most explosive Big Brother in history’. Possibly in the history of TV3, yes, because they only started showing it last summer and realistically, last summer – BB was shite.


As I’ve previously admitted how much I miss the good old days of BB where it was a genuine social experiment and not, as most would say ‘a stepping stone for many Z listers’. I’m sure without even needing to mention who this year’s is, we’re all aware that Ryan Ruckledge with his ever entertaining (NOT) attention seeking, his talked about drunken scene at X Factor boot camp and of course the clear analaysis of previous Big Brother headlines he has clearly tried to recreate, can stand proud with the ‘I’m extremely desperate for people to know who I am’ trophy. It’s obvious I’m not alone when it comes to missing the iconic, fun and enjoyable to watch tasks rather than the dreaded watching of awkwardness when someone’s bitching is played, or the ‘who’s the most two faced’ questions pop up. Where are the task team who created some of the most hilarious moments of reality TV?


Straight in to everyone’s first question, no I don’t actually know if I would do it all again. Of course I’m extremely grateful for having the experience and have never wished I didn’t do it. Meeting some of the people I did and obviously for the memories I’ve gotten in return, good and the bad, I’m very thankful for but you look at the house very differently once being inside it.


Thankfully I did Big Brother when I did and I think at the age of 18, it gave me a massive advantage for my personal future. From a very young age, I was very much aware of who I was, what I believed in and what I wanted but Big Brother taught me in much more depth. Despite the many things, I’m not going to bore you all with them bar the fact it’s taken my tolerance level of bullsh!t right down below zero, shit.jpg apologies if that offends you in our conversations.


Personally I feel when people watch the show; they do forget that they’re generally missing out on 1,395 minutes of the 1,440 in that day. Anyone with common sense will know that they are seeing even less of each individual, their most ‘entertaining’ moments, usually arguments. That being said, since when did we become a generation of wanting to watch people argue, watch people intimidate others or even watch people turn an entire group of people against one individual. We all point fingers and shout how it’s unacceptable to do this in school or a working environment, why is it all of a sudden entertainment because it’s on the telly? To think what way the media can make us think is a little scary and I just want the old, fun BB backkkkkk.


After a brief, probably confusing, overview of some of my points – I’m off to start writing my analysis of who’s left in there!


Thanks again for reading, Ash xx

Baffled by Brexshit

There we have it, less than 4% separating the vote regarding the only topic of confusing conversation that has happened at most dinner tables within the last fortnight – Brexit. poll results final Confusing conversation meaning that not very many of us had any clue what was going on due to the only education being given by politicians, (we more than likely shouldn’t listen to them anyway) was scare tactics, from both sides.

Excluding the large number of people who didn’t bother registering to vote I’m especially disappointed in the number of the 37.3% of Northern Ireland who just didn’t get off their backside to make it to their local polling station, with no probably few genuine excuses. I appreciate and of course respect everyone’s opinions, but not when it’s given in such an aggressive manner or needing to laugh at everyone else’s because you aren’t aware of enough information to hold an informed debate or… I actually don’t have an or! What I seriously can’t bear, are people having the neck to take this situation upon themselves today for a Facebook rant to get a few likes. If you have no genuine reason for not voting, then realistically you lost your voice on the matter so if you didn’t use it when it mattered, apologies but no one really wants to hear it now. Why do your research the morning of the announcements of the referendum results?

Coloured Diagram (final)I have to admit, despite standing strongly on the ‘remain’ side, I hold anyone who realised the importance of ensuring their voice was used, whether or not they agreed with mine, in high regard. I find it strange that in this day and age, people waste such a valued opportunity. Let’s be realistic, decisions like this should never really be put in our hands considering the majority of us are just stumbling about thinking what we’re going to eat from one meal to another, so surely we should appreciate the opportunity (I do treasure democracy).

As I’ve made my opinion of appreciating every single vote made, I do have to in some way contradict myself as reading through hundreds of tweets and several Facebook posts this morning, I start to think to myself should there maybe be at least some sort of basic common sense test every individual should pass before given the right to vote in such serious matters. Seriously, claiming Britain as ‘ballsy’, voting leave because ‘you just want a wee change’ (but being uneducated on the real changes) and trying to make a point that because we have left the EU it doesn’t mean we are not a part of Europe, genuinely gives me false hope for how things are going to pan out for Britain if this is what we’re dealing with. I think it’s important that we just acknowledge the fact that Britain haven’t just left the EU group chat. We can’t just ask Holland to add us back in when we’ve stopped huffing?

Regarding the Switzerland comparison picture that seems to be making its way around social media, Switzerland (final) why are so many people comparing Britain to Switzerland? We are not Switzerland and unfortunately we are not run by the Swiss government. As if the European Union are now going to make it easy for Britain for the likes of trade or many other things, we are now the kid that’s been sent to the naughty step, we’re the example of what will happen if you break the rules. Germany will be more than likely, next to opt out which will mean the EU will crash. We are the example for anyone else daring to even think about leaving the EU.

Can we look at the divide between the rich and the poor in America who are also not in the EU, why are we choosing to ignore that fact? Britain is not run by good people, most of our rights have come from the European Union. The list of rights are amongst the long list of things that have now been brought to our attention, of things that we took for granted on a daily basis. So I’m now taking the time to thank the EU for my annual leave, my sick pay when and if needed, my future maternity pay, my partners future paternity pay, my equal pay as a female, my freedom of movement between all 28 countries, my healthcare has always been made available to me on all vacations and of course not forgetting the cheap Ryanair flights!

What we do need to sit and think about is the fact that more than half of ‘Great Britain’ voted in favour of a referendum, where the idea originated from a political party that is filled with racist, sectarian and sexist politics that tried to lift the ban on handguns as well as encouraging employers ‘to not employ young, free & single women because if they fall pregnant, they get six months paid leave’ (guess this actually could be leading to the end of maternity pay for all our ladies at some stage). Oh, and not forgetting that the ‘party’s sixth-largest individual donor’ announcing that there is no such thing as marital rape? Yes of course I’m talking about UKIP.

I found this statement attached to a photograph of the ever great (blaaaaaaaaa) Nigel Farage today and it couldn’t be any more apt: “I’m not saying UKIP are Nazis, I’m not saying Farage is Hitler, I’m simply pointing out that electing the charismatic, egomaniacal super right wing leader of a policy-free personality cult, and blaming all our troubles on foreigners has a bad track record.”

As we’ve already heard, the pound has now dropped to as low as what it was in 1985, there’s talk of another referendum for Scotland to leave the UK as well as an announcement for Northern Ireland to become a united Ireland with ROI. We mightn’t be so much of a United Kingdom after all which may actually lead to ‘Great Britain’ not being so great.

The majority of British people have a serious hatred towards David Cameron, obviously leading to the celebration of him stepping down but are we really sure that’s an advantage? The actual Prime Minister has stepped down because he will be unable to deal with the consequences of us leaving. Surely that can’t be good – come on people!

Overall I must admit, in a roundabout way, I admire the positivity oozing from the leavers despite the information regarding the disadvantages for us (especially here in Northern Ireland) that have been brought to light and coming in from every direction.


Well that’s my vent done for today, I’ve respected many views and opinions on the matter and I’d appreciate the same in return – ‘freedom of speech’ and all that. We don’t need to be vulgar in the way we speak to one another about the topic, but I suppose watching debates taking place between our political parties, we don’t have much to look up to for an example. I’ll finish on the fact it’s important now more than ever, that we ensure we do not turn our backs on our political system, despite how disheartened you may be. Now is where we push for the false information that was provided (that’s already been admitted by good ol’ Nige) to somehow come into practice i.e. more money being pumped into the NHS (despite the fact it is heading in the direction of the NHS making a disappearance). It’s now we try to work together to protect our rights and protect the already vulnerable people and new targets in our society. The Brexit campaign came about ‘to take back control of Great Britain’, we can’t let our anger, hurt or disappointment allow us to let the control ‘we have rightfully won back’ fall into the wrong person’s lap.

Me, Myself & Gucci

Are you aware that anxiety is now affecting 8.2 million people in the UK alone? Never mind another 40 million in the US.

My name is Ashleigh Coyle, I’m a 20 year old Irish model, from a very selfie 13sane and stable family background, so we claim anyway. I’m an animal lover, to the extent where I have more time for a stray dog than most humans I know.

My miniature Yorkshire terrier – Gucci, is my world and has been for the past four and a half years since she was a pup. I’m also the definition of a shoe fanatic, the ‘buying shoes’ jokes from family and friends are heard on a daily basis at this stage.

A lot of you that picked up this link on my social media probably know me from walking out of the most famous house in Britain as the runner up – Big Brother 15 or from winning the Best Female Reality TV Personality at the NRTA’s or simply as the girl who looks like she’s just rolled out of bed no matter what time of the day, when being sent to the local shop for milk by her mammy (we’ve all been there).

A random fact to start my introduction most will say, but despite the brief I’ve given of myself in the previous paragraph you probably think I’m living life to the full or I’m super happy all the time or you could be the stereotypical a$$hole that assumes I ‘love myself’ (if only I had a pound for every person that made that assumption) but I too, am included in the above statistic suffering from anxiety.

Since suffering with this particular mental health disorder, I understand how hard it can be to introduce or even speak about yourself to people and trust me, blogging it is no easier. I’ve been a columnist and blogger for several magazines and the introduction never feels any less unforced. It’s very easy to sit back let your anxiety define you but it’s important that you don’t (future blogs to follow) so here’s a simpler format for you to get to know who I am – the good old 20 Questions.

  1. What is your nickname & what do you prefer to be called?
    Ash & depends how close we are. I’m mental enough to probably take offence if you start calling me Ash after meeting me two minutes ago.
    me and mammy
  2. How often do you doodle & what do your doodles look like?
    To my mammy’s disappointment, unfortunately I didn’t  pick up on her artistic skills, not even to the extent of being able to doodle, so my doodles look like my name. 
  3. What do you do if you can’t sleep at night?
    If I had have been asked this last week, my answer would have been the same as every other compulsive internet user, ‘sit on my phone’ but since then I’ve developed the benefits of meditation apps! 
  4. When making an entrance to a party, do you make your presence know, slip in and look for someone you know or sneak in and find a safe spot?
    Well it depends on who’s party it is. Like every other sane person, I wouldn’t enter my boyfriends, granny’s 90th with ‘HEYYYY WHERE’S THE CAKE???’ however I’d probably enter my best friend’s party in such ‘manner’.

  5. What is one guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up?
    I haven’t quite decided whether it’s buying shoes or being every dog owners worst nightmare in the street by stopping and asking 101 questions and needing to pet.

  6. Are you more likely to avoid conflict or engage it head on?
    Engage it without a doubt.

  7. What is something about yourself that you hope will change, but probably never will?
    How stubborn I am.

  8. Are you more inclined to “build your own empire” or unleash the potential of others?
    Well I’m nearly finished level 20 on ‘Sim City – Build It’ practicing for future world domination so definitely build my own empire.

  9. Do you prefer that people shoot straight with you or tamper their words?
    The more honesty the better the friend I say.
  10. What’s one thing you’d rather pay someone to do than do yourself & why?
    Pull the hair out of the plug hole in the bath after washing my hair because I’d rather vomit.

  11. What’s your reaction towards people who are outspoken about their beliefs?
    I’m very outspoken and stand very strongly for each of my beliefs so people who are similar are my favourite types of people, although I hate people who force it.

  12. What’s your favourite position to sleep in?
    Anyway possible really considering within the last three weeks I’ve fallen asleep on a mate in a cafe and in a bar but usually if I’m in a bed – on my side.
  13. What are the top 3 qualities that draw you to someone new?
    Honesty, good listener & open-minded.
  14. If you could eliminate one weakness or limitation in your life, what would it be?
    My anxiety.
  15. If you could restore one broken relationship, which would it be?
    Zilch, they’ve broken for a reason so why would you want that sh!t back?

  16. When was the last time you cried?
    Three nights ago, I’m very much a pro-cryer. Despite my cold exterior, I do enjoy a good cry.

  17. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
    Pink obviously.

  18. What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
    Honest, independent & argumentative.

  19. If you had one super power what would it be?
    Invisibility 100% to hear everyone’s sh!t talk! OK and maybe save a life or two as well.

  20. What is the best present you’ve ever received?
    My 16th birthday present from my parents gucci 1– little Gucci.