It's OK to talk: Fran's blog

Tuesday 07-02-2017 - 11:27
Fran unioncloud

Fran is an MA International Cultural Arts and Festival Management student. Moving to Manchester from Italy, she's been involved in loads of University, Union and community activites, including Healthy U, the Mountaineering Club and Street2Feet, a campaign to support homeless people in Manchester through playing football.

Fran has played a really important part in our It's OK campaign, which aims to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health, and promote and improve support services at Manchester Met. She's been writing a blog called Let’s bEAT about her travels and long walks, as well as her journey through an eating disorder. She recently read her blog aloud at an It’s OK to Talk event held at The Union, and is now sharing her story online in the hope that it will help other students facing challenges.

We spoke with Fran to find out more.


What inspired your blog?

I've always been a very hectic person, I actually never stop doing activities or any sort of social engagement! I was writing already about my travelling - the places I wanted to go and the places I've already visited. When I approached and started facing my eating disorder and feeling like I wanted to work on that, I felt really really lonely. I thought I was the only person in the world facing it.

After realising I'm not the only one, I decided to open my thoughts to a small group of friends. Now I feel like other people should know about this. Not because of me, myself and I but because of the importance of being aware of what you're feeling and being able to feel strong enough to overcome any issues you have. So I really hope this will be helpful to many people, and for me to clear my mind and feel better about my feelings!


In the blog you write about travelling as well as personal change, can you tell us more about that?

It’s hard to explain, that’s just how my brain works. I didn’t even plan it that much, I grabbed a pen and started letting it go. I had so many thoughts in my mind all the time and felt like I couldn’t share them because they were incomplete and not real. When I started writing it down and saw them on paper I felt like I had something, and I could start sharing that thing instead of just random thoughts in my mind.

The fact that I decided to combine both the physical travelling and the mental one is just because I feel like they belong together. Walking has helped me so much in facing any sort of scary feelings or anything that upsets me - if I go for a walk I will feel better. It happened sort of naturally, I was keeping the diary about the South West Coast Path and I started to write about what I was feeling; it happened at the same time.

And people I met along the way didn’t know anything about me, so I wrote about the fact they would ask me who I was and I could also really find myself from the beginning because they didn’t know me! I could say what I wanted! So I could give other people an idea of myself, what I was but also what I wanted to be. It gave me my aim, my goal, and I don’t think I’d have had this if I hadn’t trusted those people I didn’t know. Sometimes when you stick around the same people they see you as the person you were, or they see your situation as normal. They can take for granted that everything is fine, when maybe it’s not.


What would you say to other students with an idea, or creative project?

I think at the beginning I was scared of sharing my ideas because I thought people would think I was showing off, or would not appreciate my idea because it was too simple or too personal. But I decided to trust myself. I shared my ideas with The Union first and I felt so supported, I felt like this is the right place. I would tell people not to be scared of engaging in anything. It’s not even a matter of time, it’s a matter of finding the right people to support you.

The fact that the blog is divided into chapters, it is like my journey throughout this issue I’m facing. It has been chapters, it hasn’t been overnight. I haven’t heeled from it, I’m still fighting somehow - maybe in a different way and I’m facing different phases. It’s never going to be easy. First you admit it to yourself and after that - which is a big, big step - it’s going to be hard to stay on top of. But you have to try, and I think the chapters explain that it may not always be a one day revolution, but hopefully it will be a long-term one.

Read Fran’s blog online and watch out for notifications of new chapters on The Union's Twitter feed @TheUnionMMU.


Information and support

You can find out more about The Union’s It’s OK campaign and share your story here: 

If you need support or want to find out more about mental health, there are loads of places where you can find help, including: The Union's Advice CentreManchester Mind, Self Help and Samaritans.

You can find more information about eating disorders on the Mind website, and Student Minds have some great advice on supporting your friends and finding a support group.


Campaigns, Stories, Your Voice

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