Featured

Body Changes

I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea where this blog post is going, but I want it to remain as authentic as possible. I think it’s important to allow your feelings the time and space to be understood and accepted for what they are, even if they’re difficult. From the outside, it appears I’m mostly happy and well, but I continue to battle with how my body looks and feels. My eating disorder makes looking in the mirror and trying on clothes a miserable experience.

The end goal has remained the same throughout my recovery: like yourself more. I could grow to enjoy my company, but the company of my body is something else entirely. I’ve been at many different weights and shapes from childhood to adulthood, but I’ve never found a measure that I feel content being or maintaining. So much guilt surrounds my body, even if I’m considered a “healthy weight”.

At my heaviest weight, I was 10 stone (140lbs). At my lowest weight, 5 stone (70lbs). But I never felt content weighing at either end of the scale. When I was overweight, I wanted to be thin. When I was underweight, I wanted a life. No matter what extreme I was, I felt little exhilaration for it. I never found the satisfaction or physical self-love I was looking for. And to be brutally honest, I still haven’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for my healthier condition and mind, but I can’t find it in me to embrace the figure I carry, even if it is nourished. When I look at my body in the changing rooms or shower, I’m disappointed. I wonder how I’ve let myself get this way. But what way, exactly? I don’t know. I could go to the gym again and tone up. I could run for longer to get the body I think I want, but the maintenance of these exercises is too much for me. I’ve already led a life controlled by exercise, and I led no life at all. It was painful and unhappy and lonely. And all I got out of it was a body too small for my organs.

Despite reaching a better place weight-wise, wrestling with my body is ongoing. I avoid certain clothes for fear they’ll reveal my weight is on par with a behemoth, despite knowing otherwise. I can’t stand anything tight on my body either because my eating disorder quickly affirms I’m my worst nightmare. I have outfits tucked away in drawers and cupboards obviously too small for me now, but I don’t throw them away. It’s as though the act of removing them from my bedroom will signal the end of something I’m not ready to let go of. I don’t plan on fitting into children’s clothing again, but I can’t shake the belief that thinness is a state you inevitably work towards.

It’s no lie that I’m struggling with my mental health right now, but I’m encouraged by my openness and resilience. We don’t have to be OK all the time, and there’s strength in accepting that.


Sourced from Pinterest

Featured

Feeling Guilty All the Time

I feel guilty for a lot of things I shouldn’t feel guilty for. I hold a lot of unreasonable shame, too. I used to believe these feelings were down to my sensitive personality, but now I realise the chronic guilt I feel is linked to mental health. When you experience feelings of shame regularly, you assume it’s natural. From a young age, I accepted that eating was an action to feel sorry for. I also felt a huge amount of sin for matters that didn’t even concern me. Everything was my fault, even if it wasn’t. I’m getting better at filtering out what guilt is irrational now, but I still need help when it comes to not allowing it to consume me or control my choices.

Guilt and shame are gross, uncomfortable feelings. But it’s worse when the appearance of them aren’t even justified. Imagine feeling bad for doing something good or even mandatory to your survival. I’ve felt bad for eating a spontaneous piece of fruit before because apparently (to me) eating on impulse is immoral. Emotions like guilt are complex because they can display themselves so differently in people. Some people may feel more shame than others and in varying situations. We all have individual moral compasses, and perhaps more importantly, upbringings. This is where it usually begins: childhood, as with most learned behaviours. We mimic our parents’ attitudes and adapt to our guardian’s whims. Guilt and shame are conditioned by those responsible for our development, indirectly or directly caused.

If perfection was pushed in your family, then you may feel as though nothing you do is ever good enough. If you make a mistake, however minuscule, your inner critic goes wild. You are reprimanded, and therefore feel criminal. Another example is if you grew up in an uncaring household. You may face a “voice” who berates you with words of worthlessness. So, you apologise profusely as though breathing is a felony because you don’t want to be a burden to anyone.  

I wish I could wave a magic wand and restore what I internalised as a child, but unfortunately, I can’t. I’m stuck with a mindset that acts rather like a cog in a dysfunctional family machine. My only way out is to distinguish what is wrong and right for myself. I also need to work harder at differentiating between genuine and false guilt because they often feel the same. Genuine guilt keeps us “in-line“, whereas irrational guilt keeps us from accepting ourselves and blossoming as an individual. We can’t live if we are apologetic about our own survival. Eating is something we MUST do and MUSN’T feel sorry for. Asking for somebody’s help doesn’t make you a problem. There is no such thing as perfect, and even there was, the responsibility wouldn’t lie with you. The ones who told us to be perfect should lead by example.

If you are struggling with constant feelings of guilt and shame, please consider CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). CBT can help you entangle the bigger picture and work through negative thinking.


Guilt, Psoriasis, and COVID-19 | Everyday Health
Sourced from here

Featured

The Root of the Problem

I’m looking forward to moving to London in September and starting a new season of my life. I know going to university will be good for me, despite my inner child weeping at the thought. I’ve come to realise I can’t rely on her anymore, though. My inner child would make no changes at all if it meant she could stay in the safety of remaining hurt and manipulated. Growing up, I learned to dread making decisions, taking risks and speaking out of turn. Hence my inability to succeed past the environment that sowed these fears. I’m still in my childhood home, even though it was the place that made me sick. I do wonder why I’ve stayed this long.

Therapy, although initially for my disordered eating, has opened my eyes to the disorder in my family. I never realised how dysfunctional my immediate kin is. You think it’s a “you” problem until you look at other family members’ actions and behaviours. I see how we’re all injured and how we choose to respond to that injury. As an example, my dad uses his uncomfortable childhood as an excuse to treat others, certain others, with malice and contempt. On the other hand, my sister is the kindest soul there is, people-pleasing, even at her own detriment. I think some of our relatives could admit to their hang-ups and heal from them, but others, as I see it, are lost causes. My dad will never recover now, not because he’s incapable, but because he chooses to be incapable. There’s a difference.

In our family, it seems the trauma is handed to the next generation. Both of my parents learned bad lessons from bad parents, so their own parenting skills suffered as a result, but I do wish to mention not all their guardianship was negligent. That wouldn’t be fair to say. There were some good times, especially with my mum. If I do become a parent one day, I won’t continue the cycle of abuse. I know how much it’s damaged my ability to love and trust other people, and I couldn’t do that to my own children. Your trauma doesn’t have to be their trauma. Let them have the childhood you wanted. That’s how I see it, anyway.

Leaving home has got to be the best thing for me now. I’ve recovered to a point, but it’s time to shed the skin I grew in a toxic home. This skin is not suitable for the future I want to create. I could let myself get swallowed up by the roots of my family tree if I let my child-self take over, which is why I’ve made the adult decision to loosen myself from them. I don’t mean to uproot completely, but to branch out enough to solidify my own place in the world as a healthy individual.

Story Pin image
Sourced from Pinterest

Featured

University Challenge

On the precipice of change, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately. I’m going to university in September, moving away from home and encouraging what I hope to be a brighter future. It’s hard to believe that before recovery, I was too sick to dream outside of weight loss and burning calories at the gym, and now I can see a life beyond the expectations of my disorder. Hence my decision to return to education and reshuffle my regimented eating habits. I’m aware I’ve hit a bit of a recovery plateau this year, having not moved from the diet plan my dietician set for me. I’m embarrassed I haven’t been able to exceed the basic nature of this food map, despite reaching X a long time ago. However, with uni around the corner, I can only welcome the opportunity of being pushed out of my comfort zone.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared of going to university because I am. I’m anxious about food and eating but also finding an identity free of my eating disorder. It’s a daunting prospect, fashioning a life without the curtails of anorexia, especially when you think the fuller life may not suit you. I do have my days where I wonder if I’m not meant to be happy and that breaking away will only break me. Moving away from home will test me too. I’ve developed a support bubble here, and they know my struggles and insecurities. My team are accommodating and understanding, and I like that I don’t have to keep explaining why I’m uncomfortable with certain foods. I may not be at university yet, but the vision of excuses I’m making is already giving me a headache. I want to be honest in the new environment, with the new friends I’m (hopefully) going to make, but a part of me just wants to exist without the label of ‘anorexic’ or ‘ED sufferer’, even if it is blue sky.

One of my biggest fears of going to university and living in dorms was sharing a kitchen space, but thankfully I’ve been able to rent a small studio (with kitchenette) for my first year. I do find it incredibly difficult to cook and eat in front of people, especially people I don’t know, so having this area for myself is a godsend. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m never going to overcome these issues, it just means I can settle in a bit better before moving ahead.

For me, going to university is more than just about earning a degree, it’s about learning to live without anorexia, albeit gradually. It’s about figuring out who I am as a whole person because, with my eating disorder, I’ve always lived half-heartedly. I’m anxious about taking the next step in my recovery, but I can’t remain safe forever, I’ve got to be bold. I believe getting better is about finding what makes you feel better, and sometimes that comes with a leap of faith. 


*Hi readers, I hope this post finds you well. A short disclaimer: I apologise if this post seems a bit castaway, I didn’t get much sleep last night from looking after a very hyperactive cat! It appears my face was more comfortable than all the sleeping areas available to him.

Featured

The State of Loneliness

Loneliness is a difficult emotion because it isn’t just synonymous with isolation. We can feel lonely without being alone. It’s hard to understand why we feel so disconnected when we’re socially active with others. We can have a myriad of friends, but these friends don’t necessarily appease the solitude. It’s frustrating to feel empty when you’re in a room full of people, and you may, as I do, conclude there’s something wrong with you. 

I don’t have many friends, and that’s fine. I’m comfortable with my introversion now, and I don’t think I could handle popularity. I used to like the idea of being close to many people, but that gradually fell out of fashion the older I grew. I keep an intimate group of companions today, which I know and love well, and I don’t think that should ever be a bad thing; grateful doesn’t come close to the way I feel for this amazing company.

Despite the friendship group I’m blessed to have, I don’t always feel like I belong there, and I don’t mean in terms of common interests, and it’s definitely not something to do with how my friends treat or have treated me. I believe, in simple terms, the detachment is my fault. The loneliness I feel is an internal deficit. I’m insecure and uncomfortable sharing myself with others. The former response primarily concerns people I know, and the latter is saved for acquaintances and strangers.

Ever since I was little, I feared rejection from others, and this dread continues to be an issue in adulthood, trying to feel safe in my current relationships is impossible because I assume people will leave me, there is apprehension for them “finding me out”, realising I’m not worthy. I may think my insecurities remain internal, but from an outsiders point of view, I may physically withdraw or incidentally push someone away. Making new friends is hard too, and approaching someone unfamiliar regularly feels pointless because I can never give them my authentic self. I don’t trust people, and I rarely express my opinions, convinced I’ll be ostracised for them. And with all these mental factors considered, loneliness appears.

I don’t think we’re educated enough on loneliness because we often misunderstand it; solitude is not just situational. Loneliness is subjective. We can feel lonely for many reasons and it doesn’t just depend on our physical state or environments. We could be at a party or hanging out with friends and still feel forlorn, we don’t have to be alone to feel lonely, and we shouldn’t feel guilty for experiencing it, either.

I used to feel a lot of shame for my own solitude because with what I had, friendships, a good environment and my youth, the loneliness felt inappropriate. It’s sad to think that even whilst experiencing an emotion, we can trick ourselves into thinking it’s something else entirely because we don’t believe we meet the standard/s to feel it. Well, hitting the bar or not, I do feel lonely, and I’m not afraid to admit that. In going forward, I hope to resolve these feelings for the sake of my current relationships and those I go on to make. After all, the first step in recovery is admitting to your problems.

Photo by mikoto.raw on Pexels.com

If you need help and support on loneliness, follow the links below:

Featured

I Believe in Therapy

Since therapy saved my life, I will continue to advocate the benefits of talking and working your problems through with a professional. I know some people, like my parents, for example, see counselling as a waste of time, despite never really giving it a chance. I don’t know how you can disparage talking therapies when you haven’t tried or put effort into the sessions. I’ve had counselling four times and therapy once and I’ve never regretted attending them because, in different ways, I was helped and provided with coping tools for the future.

I’ve been very lucky with the professionals I’ve been able to work with. I formed connections with them from the outset, and I felt heard. I can’t stress how important the latter is when choosing a therapist. It’s your time to talk and share, your therapist shouldn’t see it as an opportunity to tell you their life story, despite how obliged you may feel to hear it. With the right professional, counselling can be an enlightening experience, not just in the short term either, therapy is a gift that keeps on giving throughout your life. Trust me, those adaptive strategies you learn in therapy don’t leave you and I’m reaping the benefits always.

If your immediate family are anything like mine, you may understand the consequences of talking about your issues with them. They make you feel like you’re moaning or that your hardships pale in comparison to theirs. Your mental health issues may also be a product of them and how they behave, so you don’t feel safe or comfortable confronting them. For me, the last one hits particularly hard because my desire to challenge my parents is often overwhelmed by feelings of guilt, I don’t want to blame them, I feel bad for blaming them, but I do blame them and I have to swallow that venom, but thankfully I have techniques to see me well. So, if you don’t feel happy or ready to speak to those around you yet, therapy is a windfall.

I felt like a new person each time I came out of talking therapies. I felt equipped to renter the real world. You may wonder why one dose of therapy wasn’t enough for me, but I have no shame in saying that I have separate obstacles that I felt needed personal attention. I hate when people assume counselling is a one time gig, it’s not and it doesn’t have to be, you can go back if you feel you need to. Don’t apologise for asking for more support, it’s OK, I know it may feel humiliating at first, but it’s better you ask for help again than allow the bad thoughts and feelings to develop.

Although I am slightly biased towards therapy, I understand it may not be suited to some people, which is fine. We all have different medicines and mechanisms that work better for us, and if talking isn’t your cure, you may find solace in anti-depressants, change of scenery or partaking in wellness activities, whatever you find helps you, please do that. However, if you are considering therapy, I would highly recommend it. Through the simple process of talking and having confidence in my therapist, I was allowed to rediscover myself and exist beyond the trauma, and believe me when I say, you can too.

Featured

Racism and Football

I’m not a massive football fan. I don’t know the ins and outs of the game and I’ll never herald otherwise. Despite my lack of understanding for the so-called beautiful game, however, I did actually follow, albeit loosely, the Euros. I watched matches here and there, particularly those that featured my national team, and I was extremely proud of them for reaching the final last weekend. What the young England team managed to achieve was incredible, and I hope they don’t feel too disheartened about losing to Italy. There’s always a next time, boys.

I know this blog typically focuses on mental health, but I really did just want to have my say on the disgusting response to England’s defeat by some of the football fans. It’s unacceptable. No one, I repeat, no one should have to tolerate racist abuse in any shape or form, whether it’s from the stands or via social media. Losing a match, football in its entirety does not excuse you from racist or immoral behaviour. There is no circumstance where threats and bullying are ever OK. Please stop. These players don’t deserve to be treated with contempt for missing a penalty, it’s completely nonsensical. The amount of pressure on the team’s shoulders at these events is massive and we shouldn’t hound them for their mistakes in-game, even if we are disappointed with the outcome. Yes, we may have lost, but that doesn’t extinguish everything we’ve accomplished so far, we got to the European final for god’s sake! The players deserve to be congratulated, not ridiculed or racially disrespected.

Hearing about the backlash from football fans in this country angers me to no end, so much so that I feel ashamed to be British. I’m aware some racist comments were also made from other nations too, but I won’t go into that too much because English “supporters” were the main perpetrators. Everything to do with the win, nothing to do with the loss, British loyalty is so grossly fickle and I want no part in it. It makes me sick.

Thankfully, the racist abuse is being called out and condemned through various channels. The FA (Football Association) have stated they “…will do all [they] can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.” (Reuters, 2021).

I’m glad the above statement mentions support will be given to the victims because discrimination can play a significant role in the deterioration of one’s mental and physical health. I hope the English team are given the time and space they need in order to heal.

This isn’t the type of news you want to hear after the Euros actively encouraged the unity and respect the fans are currently undermining. It’s disappointing and shameful that some supporters believe this is an acceptable way to behave. They need to be punished accordingly now and banned from interacting with the sport in the future. Talk about the players, the only disgraceful performance I saw was from the fans…

FA condemns racist abuse of players after England's Euro 2020 final loss |  Reuters
Sourced from here

Featured

Intuitive Eating

I was about 10-years-old when I realised, I was fat, from the Barbies I played with to the lean idols on screen, my weight became a source of terminal discomfort. The glorification of thinness in the media led me to believe I wasn’t good enough compared to my peers, so I readily adopted isolation and unhealthy eating habits to numb the self-hatred I felt. I must mention here that not all my food habits were restrictive as they tend to be now, as a child, I typically binged on food.

As somebody who’s endured close to a lifelong bad relationship with food, I often find it hard to believe that there was a time I ate without thinking, eating because I was hungry and eating to fullness, choosing what I liked, not what I thought I deserved. The way I eat now is determined by calories, how much exercise I’ve done and my emotional state, which means I rarely eat to maximum capacity.

It has dawned on me lately how much I reject intuitive eating: I ignore hunger cues, don’t eat “unsafe” foods despite my body’s desire for them and with these physical self-denials, comes an inability to menstruate. You begin to realise with a physiological understanding that being at a healthy weight isn’t always enough. I am at a healthy weight, but perhaps not healthy or full enough to please the whole body. If anything, my efforts of keeping my weight as low as possible are at the detriment of my body’s physical processes, and that scares me a little bit, but so does gaining weight. A decision like this is not easy for somebody who fears both life and death, eating and not eating.

The first mountain I had to climb whilst recovering from anorexia was learning to eat again, but eating intuitively is about learning to eat free of disorder. You attempt to let go of the diet mentality and eat based on hunger signals and what your appetite is telling you. You aim to reach a place of satiety. I can’t remember the last time I felt full or content with what I’d eaten, but it’s not surprising since I rarely break from the foods (and the amount) I feel safe consuming, I think about food a lot too because of my forced deprivation of it.

Admittedly, I do fear the concept of intuitive eating and I wish I could remain the way I am without my body body suffering for it. The weight I am is emotionally manageable for me and I have even more reason to stay there because of my healthy BMI, but no matter how much comfort I get from low numbers and green charts, my body does not like being this thin. I’m eating for thinness, not fullness, and my body with its mission to survive, responds with symptoms.

I can’t say I’m going to eat unconditionally tomorrow, next week or even next year, but what I am saying is that intuitive eating is a good goal to work towards. I believe that with time, learning to instinctively feed my appetite will not only heal my body but also my mind.

Sourced from here
Featured

Unsociable Eating

Before eating became difficult for me, I never understood how heavily relationships relied upon the language of food. In the past, I could appreciate the aesthetics of a well-constructed dish, I could relate to the spontaneity of appealing to my appetite, and I could share in the joy of what it meant to be a full-bellied friend. Now, however, I feel as though I’ve lost the ability to comprehend food above its biological purpose.

I’ve missed out on a lot of social events throughout my recovery because of their associations with food and alcohol, which means I’ve also missed out on a lot of conversation and time with friends and family. After turning down yet another birthday meal or friendly gathering, you start to feel as though your life is shrinking and those you love are busy living without you. Sometimes, turning down an invitation to dine isn’t simply down to not being able to consume what’s on the menu, it’s also about the expectations of eating, I’m not a fast eater and I’m very precise about what I eat when and I accept how frustrating those habits can be for some people, which is why I cancel more social occasions than I attend.

I don’t blame the decline of some of my relationships on my friends’ inability to plan events beyond the context of food, because that’d be unfair. No matter how we look at food, it’s not only a driving force for physical development, it’s a utensil with which to sharpen social interaction, we use eating and drinking to complement the situations of dating, meeting someone new or celebrating with family, even if the sentiment is somewhat lacking, I must admit, there’s no company quite like food.

As much as I find eating a private and often ceremonious experience, I accept what it takes to reengage with my social life, or perhaps better put, a social life, and eating in an isolated fashion isn’t going to improve the wellbeing of my relationships. I want to make new friends too, and as much as I dread the thought of getting to know someone over dinner, I have to recognise the invitation as an opportunity, not a threat. Eating out more won’t be easy, and particularly not in front of unfamiliar people, but I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do, even when faced with peer pressure. The fact is those who aren’t aware of my eating disorder won’t treat me any differently to somebody who’s a confident eater, because they don’t know where in my struggles lie, which means I can’t (within reason) really blame them for making comment, I have to make sure I don’t let moments like this decide my future attendance at food-related events.

Building rapport with anyone is tricky, but even harder when the space to do that is limited, the occasion is always food, and not everybody can cope with a restaurant or café. It’s been a shock for me to realise how many memories I’ve lost out on because I can’t happily eat with others or consume a variety of dishes, as much as I’m recovering from physical and mental hunger, it seems my social life needs feeding too.

When You Feel Comfortable Eating Alone In A Restaurant For The First Time,  You Learn 5 Things
Sourced from here

Featured

Letting Go

I never thought the reality of breaking away from my eating disorder would be frightening. I assumed diluting my personality from the nature of anorexia would be a relief, but instead, I find myself dreading an existence without a destructive force. It sounds weird to type aloud, but anorexia has been my centre ever since I was introduced to instability, and now I can’t imagine safety without unhealthy habits and disordered thinking.

There have been various moments this year where I’ve wanted to expand my food repertoire, but haven’t, I’ve had the appetite for it, but perhaps not appetite enough to move away from what I’m used to. I wouldn’t know who I was without my eating disorder, and although it sounds pretty irrational, I can’t curb the belief that if I was to start eating intuitively, I would feel almost empty, not empty by hunger, but empty by design.

I’m aware of how devastating anorexia is, having gone through hell and back with it, but sometimes hell can feel like heaven, particularly when it’s inhabited by voices that sound like angels.

I grew up feeling pretty insignificant and comparably worse to others, so it was nice, despite the implications, to be wanted by something, even if that something meant me complete harm.

As much as I love living the Plan A of my life, anorexia always sits like a Plan B, which is why I think I find it so difficult to totally detach from it. I don’t like the idea of not being caught by the pangs of starvation because I’ve medicated so much with it in the past, regardless of its adverse side-effects, I’ve relied on it to the point of not needing anything or anybody else. So, if not restriction, then what? It almost feels strange to comprehend sadness on a full stomach.

Saying this, however, I know I’ll eventually have a good relationship with food because I’m already learning to be a bit bolder during mealtimes, even if that means the small addition of a condiment on salad. The boldness I show when making food-related decisions can sometimes make me feel uncomfortable or even shameful, but I’ve got to manage these feelings to eliminate the hold my anorexia has over me.

When I first started recovery, I read a lot of accounts from anorexia survivors struggling to disentangle themselves from their ED, and at the time, I failed to understand this. I assume because I was new to healing and therapy, I hadn’t realised how close I was to my own eating disorder, and I also didn’t know much about my eating disorder and how it came to be.

Knowing what I know now about my anorexia, it does help me fight it, but furthering my understanding of my ED also helps me sympathise with it (to some degree), which can sometimes make rejecting it harder. I know why it was created or fuelled, to “protect” me, so the instinct is to run to it whenever I’m feeling threatened.

I’m not sure how long it’ll take for me to be completely free of my disorder, in fact, I suspect I’ll never be entirely unaffected by it, but I am working on a way of reducing its impact on my life and the choices I make. It’s a slow process, occupying an identity outside of your disordered parts, but let the hope remain with what is you and not your eating disorder.

Featured

Healing with Patience

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an overnight cure for mental illness? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if trauma was a short-term condition? It would less painful if we could just move on from the afflictions that affect the way we behave and live.

Having been in recovery from anorexia for a while now, I get so impatient and irritated when I experience a wobble. I’m not very kind to myself when I realise I still can’t eat something or somewhere. I feel as though I’m weak, not being able to rise to a challenge that perhaps I should’ve conquered days, months or even years ago. What’s even harder is when your hurdle is easily overcome by others or isn’t even seen as a hurdle at all. It’s like, why is this still such a problem for me…why am I still like this? It really starts to impact your mood and confidence in social situations.

I wish I was better, properly better. I wish I had some kind of certification to say “you’re over it”, but I know that’s irrational and slightly delusional. You don’t get over a mental illness like a cold. We aren’t able to rely solely on medicine to clear psychological disorders, we have CBT, we have our loved ones and we have outlets to help us, but there’s no one cure that can actualise complete separation from our mental illness/es, and I hate it as much as you do. I don’t want what I’m saying to sound hopeless, because that’s not the case at all, we’re not doomed, we’ve just got to accept that recovery isn’t a timed process, nor a process that has to end. There’s no “one size fits all” version of healing.

As the title recommends, we do have to welcome patience as a way of getting better. I know it’s annoying. You want to be able to be happy, free of anxiety, compulsions and ED thoughts as soon as you take a step towards a healthier place, but we actually have to adopt and address various coping mechanisms and pieces of ourselves respectively, before we are as we want to be. Even after attending therapy for my eating disorder, I’ve discovered much later that there are other emotional issues I have yet to deal with, which is why I haven’t progressed as much as I’ve needed to.

If I look back to the start of this recovery journey, I know I’ve come a long way and I’m proud of that. You should be too. It might have been a slow development, but who cares? We deserve to recover and we deserve to recover well. We over-indulge in so much expectation that we rush to get back on our feet, we jump back into work and we show up before we’re ready for any of that stuff. We need sometimes patience and the understanding that patience, although not a cure, will be a continuing benefit for us.

Take your time in healing, it’s okay.

Sourced from here

Featured

Domestic Abuse: Why People Stay?

Following on from my last post about domestic violence and its impact on children, I wanted to further explore domestic abuse and why people remain in abusive and controlling relationships. I don’t think anyone ever “chooses” to stay in an unhealthy relationship, which is why I won’t use the word here. Everyone’s reasons are different, complex and personal, and there are no cases in which blame should ever be attached to the victim/s.

There are many examples of domestic abuse where the unprofessional advice is “just leave”, and of course, this does not help anyone. In fact, expressions like these are ignorant and unsupportive. Not everyone can simply leave a relationship; domestic abuse presents many barriers for the victims, and getting out is often a terrifying prospect.

When I was growing up, my mum’s reason for not divorcing my dad was purely financial, and it remains to this day. My mum is still with my dad, despite the volatile and unkind relationship they have. Being financially dependent on a partner or having limited income makes it incredibly difficult to escape an abusive relationship, particularly when there are young children involved. Without appropriate funds, resources or a place to stay, leaving seems unattainable.

Living with a perpetrator is also incredibly damaging to self-esteem, and this often breeds doubt in the victim’s mind. Gaslighting, manipulation and intimidation can lead a person to believe they are to blame for the abuse and that they deserve to be hurt. This kind of mental exploitation wears a person down until they feel they aren’t worthy of freedom and love, real love, not abusive love.

A couple of my dad’s favourite lines were: “nobody’s ever going to love you” and “you’d be nothing without me.” It seldom matters who these words are directed at, if they are heard, they can hurt.

Sometimes, love can be misidentified, too. If you’ve never known love that is kind and affectionate, an abusive relationship can feel normal. Without intervention, the cycle of abuse can repeat itself. My parents showed me what love isn’t, and yet, I can’t seem to escape the belief that abuse is all love is. Without the awareness of good love, there’s no reason to flee terrible love.

…”raised by animals, you partner with wolves”.

Eight Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, 2016

Exiting an abusive relationship is frightening because there’s no way of knowing how an abuser will react to their partner leaving, they could be physically violent and aggressive. And in more severe circumstances, the aggressor may threaten their partner’s life or their partner’s loved ones’ lives, which makes leaving their abuser seem more dangerous than staying with them.

Feelings of shame and weakness are also common in abusive relationships and many victims feel too embarrassed to ask for help because of judgment and fear of condemnation from others.

Other grounds may pertain to a disability, cultural customs, religious beliefs or an abuser’s promise to change.

Whatever the reason for an individual’s inability to leave an abusive relationship, it should not be diminished, but understood, then we can better help the victim and make the situation safe. It’s important the victim (and those that apply) is/are supported beyond the point of physical separation, healing psychologically through therapy and social support.

Sourced from here

Need more information or support on domestic abuse?

Click the links below:

Refuge

GOV.UK

Women’s Aid

NHS

If you’re in any real danger, please call your emergency service.

Featured

Domestic Violence: The Little Victims of a Big Problem

There will always be a part of me that loves my parents, despite my adult resentment towards them. My parents weren’t the best caregivers to me and my brother, they assumed the only responsibilities they had as parents were to feed, bathe and clothe us, but even those jobs proved a stretch for my father, who preferred hangovers to hanging out with his kids at the weekend. I hardly know my father because of this, and he hardly knows me, but sometimes I think it’s best that way.

Whilst growing up, my emotional development was never considered or cared about. As a child, I think my parents assumed I wouldn’t be as affected by what I saw or heard because my brain was not mature enough to properly understand what was going on. My parents were ignorant and self-obsessed, and although I didn’t have the vocabulary or emotional capacity to explain or regulate my parent’s hatred towards one another, I could feel the threat and anxiety in the air, and that sense of foreboding has never left me. I foster a lot of insecurities now because of the insecure environment I grew up in, and I have my parents to blame for that. Marred by trauma, I find myself returning regularly to that childhood state of mind because she — that little girl — is still scared, and still trapped, cowering under the table.

Domestic abuse continues to be a growing problem and “…as many as 275 million children worldwide are exposed to violence in the home.” (UNICEF, 2006). Domestic violence impacts everybody in a household, no matter who the abuse is directed at, or in what shape the abuse takes. Abuse is never OK, and nobody should have to live through it or go on to live with it. As we know, abuse can spur a vicious cycle.

Having grown up in an angry and unsafe home as a child, I know the impression it leaves on a grown adult. I struggle with my mental health, have low self-worth and have a very reduced personality. I’m not always sure of who I am, constantly shapeshifting to please others. I fear rejection and take everything personally. I also find it hard to cope with everyday confrontation, having learned to scarper from my dad’s booming voice from a young age.

I have been trying to nurture my inner child more lately though in order to heal her, but I do find it incredibly difficult. I believe my adult self is less sympathetic than she should be, having not been taught what affection is or what it should feel like. What you should know is I’m also terribly grossed out by matters of the heart!

However, adult, I claim to be now, I know it’s primarily in the physical sense; there’s still a massive part of me chained to the traumatised child I once was, enter emotional capriciousness.

I wanted to write this blog post today because I think sharing experiences like this one are principal in changing the world. So much domestic violence goes on, and I fear what this means for the little ones. What makes domestic abuse so dangerous is how secretive it can be, violence occurring behind closed doors, abuse happening without physical marks or bruises, and the kids that have to suffer it without having the words or emotional capacity to ask for help. We have to change this. We have to protect children from domestic abuse by increasing awareness and recognising the impact it has on young lives, and the adult lives they will go on to lead.

Sourced from West Yorkshire Police

Need more information or support on domestic abuse?

Click the links below:

Refuge

NSPCC

Women’s Aid

NHS

If you’re in any real danger, please call your emergency service.

Featured

If You’re Alive…

“How are you? I pressed lightly, knowing my friend’s mood hadn’t been the best in a long time. I expected his reply to sound like the strum of an untuned guitar, but I was mistaken, and gladly so.

With a smile that communicated with his eyes, he said, finally, “The happiest I’ve ever been.”


Hearing my friend say he was happy, after years of battling with mental illness, warmed the cockles of my heart. He deserves, and has always deserved to feel joy and excitement for the future, and I’m so glad he’s finding a way through his depression, in order to meet it. We know recovery is not easy, but with patience and support, we can all go on to experience good things in our lives, and then some.

With the hope of better days in mind for my friend, I want to discuss life and the power of living. There is so much to gain from being alive, but sometimes I feel like our brevity and size intimidates us, and we forget this. We forget that life is advantageous to us. Life brings us things, not always in the shapes of confetti or champagne flutes, but by staying alive, we’re still in with a chance of winning something extraordinary. Without life, and in giving up, we’re out of the draw. And we can’t renter the game.

I think of my friend, here, and his struggles, and breathe a sigh of relief; I’m so grateful he’s recovering. There were many times I was worried for his safety. If my friend had chosen an alternative path, we know what he’d have missed out on: the lovely girlfriend he only started dating recently. It made me think, long and hard over the weekend, how life is not only a gift but a gift that keeps on giving. Of course, not all gifts given to us by life are appreciated or nice, but I don’t think that’s the point, I think the point is being around to collect them, and figuring out the rest.

To those of you currently going through tough times, I pray you’ll soon be free of them. I know what it’s like to feel like there’s no way out besides suicide, but trust me, there is, and there are ways to cope, and recover, with the right help.

I want you to know, reader, life can absolutely get better for you. I know it’s easier to focus on the negative aspects of life, particularly when you’re caught between a rock and a hard place, but there are so many positives in staying alive, and with the right treatment and support, you’ll eventually see that too, just like my friend did.

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

Helen Keller

Need help?

Talk to someone, or in case of a mental health emergency, call 999.

Featured

The Midnight Library

I don’t tend to write book reviews here. I like to save this space for topics on mental illness and recovery, and although I will continue to preserve it in this way, after my weekend read, reader, I can’t not share this book with you. I want you to experience what I did: hope, clarity, and then a lesson, a lesson on the nature of regrets and lives not lived, and how one can still find happiness in the life they own.

The Midnight Library, written by Matt Haig, was a tearjerker. It gave me goose bumps. It resonated. I thought I already knew what I needed to know about regrets, feeling them as deeply I do; regrets hurt, and that was it. They remain with you, red, raised and angry.

“Regrets don’t leave. They weren’t mosquitoe bites. They itch forever.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

In this fable, we follow Nora, an unhappy 35-year-old, haunted by all the lives she didn’t get to live. Her “root” life is unsatisfying and she believes she’s better off without it, however, before she can commit, she’s transported to a library, a library caught between life and death, and Nora has been granted the rare opportunity to “try on” each life and redress her regrets.

At first, the concept of undoing regrets and being somebody else is attractive. Imagine getting another go at this, doing it right, seeing who or what you could’ve been had you just said yes, no, acted on impulse or didn’t act at all. Had you done something slightly different, then, what more could’ve been achieved?

It’s funny how, at the beginning of the book, I would’ve done almost anything to get a magical library, slipping into parallel universes. However, after joining Nora on many different adventures and in many different versions of herself, you realise life isn’t always what it seems, and a lesson becomes clear.

It’s easy to believe there is another life capable of bringing us unbridled happiness, when there isn’t. We assume, despite the boldness of thought, that there is an us somewhere, capable of doing no wrong, existing perfectly. We think there is always something better compared to this version of our lives. And yet, we are mistaken, because there is no evidence to suggest that our “root” lives are any less than the lives we don’t live, or didn’t get to live. The regrets are there, but they needn’t be, because we have no idea about them. We don’t know whether one path was greater than the other, who’s to say the one we chose (or ended up with) wasn’t the better one? But we assume, and we assume badly, that the current happening of our lives can’t be as good as the others might’ve been, when in reality, we don’t know that.

The Midnight Library understood regrets to be something to learn from. I understood regrets to be something to hurt from, but I don’t hurt from them so much anymore, not after reading this beautiful work of fiction. I realise now no existence could promise unadulterated happiness, “and imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.”

Needless to say, I recommended you read this book! It will change your way of thinking. And if you’re not much of a reader, definitely check out some abbreviated passages from Haig’s The Midnight Library.

We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything, because we are already infinite. While we are alive we always contain a future of multifarious possibility.”

Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
Featured

How Sick Are You, Really?

Receiving help should never be about how sick you are. If you are mentally unwell, regardless of how severe, aid should be given absolutely, and there should be no question about it.

As of late, I’ve stumbled across many personal stories of individuals suffering with mental health conditions, and their unheeded cries for support and treatment. Healthcare professionals, despite knowing how cognitively involved mental illness is, are still disregarding people based on how “well” they look and/or how they measure up against conditional charts, and it frustrates me. It frustrates me because I know how it feels to scream and not be heard.

When I first registered with the eating disorder clinic a couple of years ago, I too was “subject to criteria” and put on a waiting list. Of course, I’m wholly sympathetic to the high demand of therapy, but I can’t deny how defeated I felt. I realised that no matter how ill I believed I was, I did not tick enough boxes to be considered as such. To be taken seriously, my situation had to worsen, and although I’m nauseous at the thought now, back then, I could see no other light except the headlights of a speeding car.

I do not condone my actions of mental degeneration, please do not see this as a way of achieving help for yourself. I was mentally unwell, and what I did was incredibly dangerous. Seek help the right way.

No matter what ailment a patient is suffering from, it should never be left untreated. Just because the rash is not yet inflamed, doesn’t mean it’s not liable for treatment. From what we know, acting early begets a better, safer outcome, so why turn people away during the early stages of their conditions? It doesn’t make sense to me.

We also need to remember that opening up about mental health is a brave, albeit scary thing to do, and receiving anything less than help is, if I may say so, a real stab in the back. Being told “you’re not sick enough” is not helpful, in fact, it encourages the social taboo surrounding mental illness which we’re presently trying to break. Nobody is going to want to come forward if they are met with apathy. From being refused or wrongly judged in the past, I think it’s only natural this “sick enough” complex exists, impacting when and how we ask for help.

Mental health services do need to change. There will always be a level of severity when it comes to mental illness, but there must always be support available for those who need it, stressing an aid that is unlinked to BMI, appearance and how “well” one acts.

In this current climate, we’ve got to be accessible, we’ve got to be good listeners and we’ve got to stop showing people doors. If somebody asks for help, let them in.

Bear on bed
Check out Carly’s story here.

Featured

Exercise: A Means to an End?

The intention to get fit can start well. We hit the gym to encourage healthier lifestyles. We run to get faster and go for longer. We lift weights to build a stronger physique. We squat to accentuate our curves. We participate in exercise because it makes us happy. The reasons we move are good and honest, and we are benefited by them. However, even with starting objectives as remedial as these, it’s possible to lose sight of them and grow susceptible to the happy little buzz of weight loss and muscle growth.

Improving ourselves is human nature. We like to look better, and the media insists on showing us (their version of) how. We absorb so much content inspiring self-improvement, we barely know what to work on next. Nevertheless, it’s clear to see the spotlight areas of the human body are weight and muscle, and we’re constantly launched into a state of body-conscious panic when we see a toned ad or slim front cover. We are sold golden impossibilities: Adonis, Barbie and the like; we’ve been led to believe human condition can thrive in a fictional form, when the opposite is true. We can’t function in a figure that is underfed, overworked and frail. The media may sell us glitter, but the reality is certainly not gold.

Before recovering from anorexia, my relationship with exercise was toxic. Exercise was never about having fun or making friends, exercise was about weight loss. Exercise was for weight loss. I felt no appreciation for the physical activity I was doing, my satisfaction was served by emptying the scale of its numbers. I was pursuing a physical pipe dream.

Of course, now, I realise there’s a wrong way of viewing and completing exercise, but I can see why I may have thought differently before. We’re not usually informed on the addictive nature of working out. It’s easy to lose ourselves within the movement that promises good things. We’re unbeknownst to the sharp-edges of physical activity because they’re seldom talked about. Exercise can be dangerous sometimes, if practiced in an unhealthy and disordered way. I value exercise, but I value it a lot more since learning its real potential. By exercising well, we can promote mental wellbeing.

I’m not going to pretend like exercise doesn’t aid weight loss or build muscle mass, because it does. It’s a very effective way of toning your body, but we must remember to embrace activities that bring us physical and mental joy. If you don’t like running, don’t run. If you don’t want to lift weights, don’t. Do an activity that suits you. When the exercise starts to feel too much like exercise, switch it up, change the game. Don’t fall into the trap of “all exercise is good exercise”, because it’s not. We shouldn’t settle on a workout just for the sake of it, everyone’s bodies and physical strengths are different. If we continue to carry out heavy and unkind exercise regimes, bad habits can surface and healthy reasons can sour. If we let it, exercise can become a means to an end, not an enjoyable pastime.

Having come from a place of compulsive over-exercising, I also want to push the importance of rest days, so, when you’re training, make sure you allow your body enough time to recuperate. You’re allowed to “cheat” sometimes, too, I hope you know that, because we often forget it.

Source: Pinterest

Featured

The Age of Success

I apologise for not posting last week, I was working on an alternative project, and as much I would’ve liked to have been an ambidextrous writer, commanding two pens at once, I realised my stamina and spirit remained one-sided. I didn’t like abandoning my blog for a week, absolutely not, but the additional project was far too important to neglect. By now, you’re probably wondering what this elusive side-venture is, and having deliberately not mentioned it thus far, I’ll tell you: I’ve decided to go to university.

Going to university has been an option I’ve mulled over many times, 1. Because of the cost, 2. Because of the upheaval and 3. Because of my age. I know the latter may sound odd because early 20’s doesn’t sound like an unusual age to study, but I’d be lying if I said the label of “mature student” didn’t unnerve me.

In the UK, beginning undergraduate studies over the age of 21 means you’re a mature student. The typical age to start university is fresh out of sixth form or college, so, 17-18. However, there is no specific or correct age to attend university, let’s get that straight right now; 18 or 82, there’s no deadline when it comes to learning and brightening your prospects.

Defending the rights of the mature student is a no-brainer for me, and yet, it appears my own advocacy doesn’t always leave me feeling too encouraged, hence this post. I want to be as ballsy and relevant as an 18 year-old starter, but I doubt I can embody an age I’ve already lived. Having acquired experiences newly-turned adults probably don’t have yet, I’ll naturally be a bird of a different feather. It doesn’t scare me, per se, but I think the awareness of being older will limit my participation in certain areas of uni life, not because of an established rule, but because of an internal rule.

Call it a bold statement; but we have a problem with age, and whether I speak for you or not, I believe there’s a growing anxiety in growing up. We have adopted the position that with each passing age, the availability to do things, certain things, reduces. It’s as though there is a duration date on activities, milestones and successes. We can’t graduate at 40 and we can’t conquer the monkey bars at 12. It’s ridiculous, really, when you think about it, but as we are, the rule has set like baked clay.

Despite many of us falling victim to the “age rule”, I wanted to share a couple of success stories from later-in-life bloomers to inspire you to abandon any thoughts of it ever being too late to start or finish something.

Alan Rickman, best known for playing Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series, didn’t start out as an actor. In fact, he studied graphic design and opened his own design studio after graduating. It wasn’t until he was 26 he decided to pursue a career in acting. Rickman attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and after many acting roles, namely Die Hard and Harry Potter, Rickman shot to fame at age 42 and 55 respectively.

“There was an inevitability about my being an actor since about the age of 7, but there were other roads that had to be travelled first… a voice in the head saying, ‘It’s time to do it. No excuses.'”

(Alan Rickman Biography, 2014)

You’ve probably heard of Vera Wang, designer of iconic wedding dresses, well, you may be surprised to know it didn’t start with fashion. Growing up, Wang actually trained to become an Olympic figure skater, but after not making the US team, she switched careers and worked as an editor for Vogue. Following publishing, Wang moved to Ralph Lauren and became a design director. After two years of successful work at the fashion house, Wang, spurred on by her own vision for bridal wear, decided to open her own bridal boutique at 40. Decades on, Wang has built a fashion empire.

“People have done far better than me in far shorter periods of time, but that wasn’t my story… it was brick by brick, client by client, store by store. It’s been a trip of passion, but it has not been a quick trip. Nor has it been easy. And that is the truth.”

(Vera Wang Says Keep Your Feet on the Ground and Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself, 2013)

It’s not age that limits us, reader, limitations exist when we decide they do. With positive thought and the right actions, we can make the age count for us, not against us.


Citations:

The Biography.com website. 2014. Alan Rickman Biography.
Available at: <https://www.biography.com/actor/alan-rickman#:~:text=Early%20Life,-Actor%20Alan%20Sidney&text=He%20was%20the%20second%20of,was%20just%208%20years%20old> [Accessed 29 March 2021].

The Business of Fashion. 2013. Vera Wang Says Keep Your Feet on the Ground and Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself.
Available at: <https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/workplace-talent/first-person-vera-wang> [Accessed 29 March 2021].

Featured

Our Relationship With Mental Illness

We can be as deep into psychological warfare as possible, but still find comfort in the wounding thing; mental illness is not a friend of ours, but it’s not an apparent foe, either.

I write with sympathy: my own disorder, anorexia, continues to act as the antihero in my life, likening to a cape-wearing backstabber. I’m aware of it. I’m aware of her sinister intentions, but sometimes I find the familiarity of self-destruction to be entrancing; entrancing for what it is, not for what it does, mind you.

It’s typical for the media to glamorise mental health conditions, but what I’ve found is the disorders themselves can often romanticise the situation, or even demonise the future in order to keep us mentally unwell. Whether this response can be attributed to the virality and unhealthy influence of the media, or the nature of mental illness, who knows. Either way, it’s a damning situation.

Of course, I can only speak for my own disorder, and I wouldn’t want to label everybody’s internal wounds and mental issues the same. We are all ill, but that doesn’t mean the reasons for and the symptoms of are identical or even common to [said] disorder. A person’s mental health journey is personal to them, and so is their recovery.

For me, my eating disorder is a way of coping with stressful and upsetting situations. I have always relied on my ED to “save” me from turbulent feelings that I would rather not admit to.

I was regularly embarrassed by my sensitivity and emotions. What I felt didn’t orchestrate well with the lyrics of my ego, and it played something awful in my chest. And the best way to relieve that noise was to go hungry; a growling stomach was the closest music I could find to unhappiness.

As much as I wish my coping mechanisms were healthy and productive, I can’t deny my anorexia didn’t serve me a temporary kind of protection, however much this point will overshoot the rational brain. It’s almost like hugging a cactus, expecting the delights of a teddy bear.

My relationship with my eating disorder has changed over time; I no longer have faith in her delusions. Anorexia is no longer the custodian of my life. Although, “custodian” sounds too nice for her; less guardian, more Cerberus, I think.

I use pronouns to describe my disorder in this post, but those have since been lost. I don’t actually give my ED an identity anymore, and it’s funny because the image of my anorexia used to be so potent and the use of her name customary.

I’m glad Ana is dormant now. The natural passing of her name has given my own identity some much-needed breathing room.

Despite the termination of my mental illness’ name, I do still struggle. And not everyday is a good day. On occasion, I seek out the old, bad habits of anorexia.

I can feel lonely and troubled, and that’s when the self-harming instinct kicks in. And naturally, my ED is waiting in the wings, ready to exaggerate its billowing cape and mighty jawline. I recognise the deception instantly: supposed hero or not, disorder, you’re no friend of mine!

Featured

The End of Something

When we talk about grief, we primarily focus on loss of life. And yes, without a doubt, feelings of mourning and heartbreak are largely linked to the death of somebody we know and love. However, as I’ve come to realise, a bereaved state can also be provoked under different, less, shall we say, permanent circumstances.

We can still experience symptoms of grief, despite there being no deceased person; bereavement isn’t unique to death. We can still feel it, and feel it badly.

I’ve experienced the death of somebody I was very close to, and I know how painful it is to manage and comprehend the emotions and empty reality of a physical presence no longer being here. It’s not right, and it doesn’t feel okay for quite a while, but I also know how it feels to mourn the end of something.

This ‘something’ can be anything; the end of a job, relationship, hobby, event, or even the closing of a simpler time. Perhaps you’re moving away or graduating? Or maybe you’re mourning the loss of 2 digits that died too young? No matter the ‘something’ you find, there’s no rulebook to say you can’t feel sad about it.

Right now, I’m coming to terms with my best friend moving away.

It’s the bitter truth: people don’t stick around forever, even if you want them to.

People grow up, seek opportunities, meet S/O’s or crave adventure, and oftentimes, the aforementioned desires are conceived outside of the childhood bubble, current environment and/or situation.

In order for our loved ones to make their best, they must leave their best (as do we all), and as much as we want to intervene and beg them to reconsider this change and remain with us, we know we would — by stopping them — hurt their chances of becoming a happier, more spirited version of themselves. And sometimes, even though grief is felt by doing so, we have to let them go, be and do.

It’s easier said than done though, isn’t it? The emotions triggered by such an action of ‘letting something be’ can deliver an uncomfortable blow of depressing sensations.

We all have the capacity to be terribly selfish, but we also all have the capacity to be terribly troubled, and to avoid this so-called expression of weakness, choosing the former is tantalising.

In the company of grief, we have to sit with time. We have to accept the end of something and the temporary displacement it will cause us, because the show will always close no matter how much we enjoyed it. However, that doesn’t mean to say we won’t watch or be part of anything ever again.

Tying up loose ends, giving us tomorrow, 2nd chances, recovery; we may fear endings, but they give us perspective and purpose. Who’s to say the ending of something isn’t the beginning of everything?

Photo by Travis Rupert on Pexels.com

Featured

Taking-Away the Anxiety

Yes. This is a pun for takeaway, but now that I read it back, it’s not as smooth sounding as the voice inside my head was when it convinced me to try and be punny. Oh well, I tried, even if it was a complete and udder failure… (yeah, enough with the puns now.)

If the title didn’t land, I apologise, please let me reiterate: this week’s post is about takeaway [UK] or takeout [US] or whatever term you prefer to call a carry-out meal.

What inspired this topic was food and its association to reward and celebration.

We regularly use refreshments as a way of consummating our successes or driving social events. Food. Is. Everywhere. And when you have an eating disorder or anxiety surrounding it, sometimes you have to miss out on festive and fun occasions because food is undoubtedly the honorary guest.

No matter the food event; a light snacking party or a full-blown banquet, my anxiety hits the roof. I can’t bring myself to engage with the cuisines on offer, not because I’m ungrateful or fussy, but because I’m terrified of the platter’s unfamiliarity and its capacity to impact my weight and shape.

There are edibles I trust and edibles I don’t, and more often than not, the latter is generously supplied at social-gatherings.

When it comes to foods I’m suspicious of, takeaway is top.

Even before my diagnosis of anorexia, fast food and takeout stirred an unfriendly voice in my head: takeaway isn’t best known for its nutritious and low-calorie content, is it? So, it was never going to be a game of Jenga, or much of a game at all, convincing me I was an awful and shameful person for eating it.

Over time, the guilt of consuming anything outside of my “safe food” zone was unbearable.

I may have desired and earned a sloppy, McDonald’s burger often, but the fear of losing control, being labelled as greedy or gaining weight prevented me from ever indulging; mouth-watering pleasures be damned!

I’ve rejected the delights of takeaway for too long, and now, in recovery, I’m beginning to miss the cheap and cheerful meals we all wish we had more excuses for.

There’s a KFC bucket of reasons why I want to smash my ED’s rulebook of homemade and healthy foods only; for one, it’s impractical and bars social flexibility, but it also ruins a good time. By abandoning my food-centric anxieties and fixations, I know it will enable me to be present, really present. Nibbling on far more than just carrot sticks and the crumbs of conversation; I can finally be involved.

In the spirit of the above statement, then, I’ve decided to flip my eating disorder the bird and order takeaway this weekend. This weekend is something to celebrate: it’s my birthday. I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t been tempted to organise a more comfortable dinner for Sunday instead, but I know this — ordering takeout — is a hurdle I want to leap over, and in time, surpass.

Featured

Picture Unperfect

It was late in the afternoon and I was nostalgic for childhood photographs.

My desire to reminisce (or more likely bawl) over old, 90’s things has elevated over the years. I know I’m only in my early twenties, but still, the inclination to pursue evidence of simpler times is provocative.

When I’m flicking through the red-clad albums of former decades, my heart, however fond, finds reason not to smile.

I either experience terrible heartache from seeing a deceased loved one or feel bothered by my younger…shall we say, plumper self?

I know it’s shallow to focus on one’s own appearance when the focal point should be on the family memory, but no matter how much I try to accept my captured unsightly pre-teeness, I balk.

Of course, the more sensible adult in me wants to simply shrug off the acne, chunkier arms and impossibly curly hair, deciding that although the budding 2000’s didn’t present me with a stellar appearance, there’s no reason to act — in my current self — nasty and hateful towards the girl who was only exploring different ways of looking and being.

Unfortunately, during my latest sentimental perusing, it was the self-critical and unsympathetic adult who was loudest in my ear, and it said, accusingly: how on earth could you have look like that? The voice reprimanded me as if my appearance was a deliberate act of defiance.

The whole episode of treating my still image with contempt has remained with me, even though some days have passed since then.

It was easy, too easy for me to be horrible to myself, and I’m unsettled by this realisation because I truly believed I was practising self-love. So, it goes without saying, really – I failed the ‘be kind to yourself’ test.

Note to self: new goal, practise the practice of self-love.

It’s not uncommon to dislike how the camera has captured you in the impromptu or even prepared for moments. The camera doesn’t spare the best of us, and so often we’re left reeling because the photo has given us extra pounds, glowing eyes or yellow teeth.

We can’t control the camera’s outcome. Yeah, we can masterfully manipulate the light and play with angles, but we can’t force the whole portrait. As much as we crave pictured confirmation of our ‘best’ selves, we can’t count on the camera to deliver it every time.

In order to feel better then, we must learn to treat our not-so-well pictured selves with a bit of understanding and patience, because there will always be times when the camera doesn’t do it for us.

The introduction of filters too, impacts how we see ourselves and others. It’s incredibly tantalising to manipulate our images to suit the contemporary standards of beauty, but I think, for me, anyway, it does more harm than good.

Those social media likes aren’t going to achieve the long-term satisfaction I crave, and those reactions certainly aren’t going to cure my ill self-esteem.

They say a picture is worth 1000 words, and it is, reader, but none of those 1000 words have to be a bad word against yourself.

Featured

Identity, Who Dis?

With little choice and tantrum, over time, I’ve reluctantly grown into a more adolescent skin. However, even with a blossoming of questionable maturity, I’ve come to realise I’ve got no identity to fill this ‘of age’ character with.

This isn’t a new crisis for me, I’ve always remained unsure of who I was and where I comfortably belonged.

From childhood, I was shy socially and never got a feel for how I worked within a personality-charged environment. So, I accepted the social nature of a nodding dog, humming and smiling where I could.

I also find trusting people a huge feat, meaning my ability to share what I do know about myself is limited. I keep my favourites and opinions close to my chest because I don’t want to be on the end of anyone’s judgement and/or scrutiny.

On the occasion I was to overshare and receive a negative response from someone, I would accept that, despite my love for it, *insert music genre* must be rubbish because the other person said so.

What I like and dislike is wrong, even though no preference is ever regarded as such.

I can’t seem to defend my own passions against the passions of others. And I absolutely hate that about myself!

When you don’t understand your personality, building rapport with someone is difficult. You constantly battle with indecision; the choice of peer acceptance or truth is enough to make you vomit.

Should I express what will get me liked, or should I express myself?

Of course, the latter I envision as social suicide.

Be yourself: how to fast-track your way into everyone’s bad books.

However much I regard the expression of my individuality as the wrong thing to do, I’m throwing the opportunity to get to know myself.

The uneasiness I feel when I’m forced to define “I” beyond the physical will only be added to if I continue to avoid the eccentricities and uniqueness of my ego. The assumption others won’t embrace me is not purely based on social fear, it’s based on the self not admitting the self.

With low self-esteem, I dread the thought of my fully realised person not being good enough. I worry that I may — completely embraced — be the thing, the event, the person that made me scared to be myself in the first place.

No matter what I say, though, I want nothing more than to be the person I’m meant to be. Being less than I am feels harder than I am.

I want to belong somewhere, too. There’s a missing piece inside of me and I recognise it as community. I haven’t yet felt the warmth that is often received with collaboration and group harmony. This, however, is probably down to my mis-self than others’ dispositions.

I don’t know where or how to start, but I aim to find myself.

My soul-searching may take time, patience and whole a lot of grit, but imagine what a prize self-understanding would be. ★

A quote worth pinning

Featured

Betraying My Appetite

In anorexia recovery, you can get to a place of eating, but not always to a place of eating everything you want to.

I’m in that position currently, desiring to experiment with new cuisines and culinary flavours, but feeling too scared to allow myself something outside of my regimented, “safe” diet. Although I’m aware no food is designed to sabotage a person, there are plenty of refreshments I consider to be OUTRIGHT saboteurs.

It’s no secret carbohydrates are labelled as the “do-badders” in most diets. I have to second guess myself whenever I’m adding rice or pasta to any of my dishes; portion-sizing and type of carb is always a concern. And don’t get started on bread – eating 2+ slices of bread a day is criminal.

It’s easy — when taking health to heart — to limit your food choices based on what you’ve read or seen or heard. A world of food, and we’ve dished out 1/4 of a continent because we want to keep ourselves safe from weight gain, disease or discomfort. And yet, this unvaried, plain cuisine leaves us feeling underwhelmed and dissatisfied.

In my personal experience, whenever I see my loved ones enjoying foreign foods or indulging in luxurious desserts, I’m jealous.

In fact, my heart constricts in my chest because I want nothing more than to grab an obnoxiously large spoon and tuck into tiramisu with them, but the calories, the chocolatey components, the sugar… all of it. The rule of avoiding weight gain is disturbed and I can’t bring myself to accept what I want over what I know. I’m sorry, I can’t eat that. It would be wrong.

I’m trying to expand my food repertoire gradually, but whenever I’m met with a “fear food”, I can’t seem to drown out the internal rantings of my ED. I panic because the ingredient isn’t what I’m used to and I can’t be certain of its affects on my body. So, I either don’t eat the alien refreshment or substitute it for one of my “sure” foods.

The food I eat now, I can trust. I’m comforted by its consistency, quality and quantity. I know if I eat this, as I always do, I’ll be alright. The weight gain (or lack of) is assured. There won’t be any unexpected horrors when I step on the scales a few days later.

However, even with this weight certitude behind me, I’m abstaining from so many culinary pleasures and social experiences. And from epic feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out), I realise I’m refusing to feed the hungriest parts of me.

Recovery has long been about just eating for me. I’ve continued to bolster my life-force but betray my appetite.

I don’t eat what I want to eat. I only consume the foods I know will keep my weight under control.

I eat safely. I eat timidly. I eat routinely, no matter the physiological demands.

From now on, albeit at a snail’s pace, I pledge to correct my opinion on food and weight. I want to be able to celebrate my meals and not treat them (however familiar or unfamiliar) as a means to an end.

Food doesn’t just give you life, it gives you the life in order to live.

Featured

Dedicated to the People-Pleasers

Dear reader,

I write this post in the knowledge that I am, too, a people-pleaser through and through. So, if this title has made you raise your hand in guilty truth, please know, I’ve raised two hands and a foot. I’m a self-confessed (and yes, I will say it) doormat.

I wasn’t aware of my people-pleasing ways until about a year ago.

Until the revelation winded me, I would subconsciously bend over backwards to accommodate others, and what’s worse; others I didn’t necessarily enjoy the company of.

I’ve never liked confrontation. I would sooner run from it than fight it.

My sensitive nature assures me that crying is the inevitable end of any dispute, and then, couple this with a self-doubting mindset, you equal somebody who’s a blubbering bootlicker.

As though my name’s just been called out on a register, is this where I answer, “yes, I’m here?”

It was all too regular. I would, in spite of my own needs and desires, feed other people’s egos and wants. It was never about me. I had to give the moment, the stage to them.

I felt as though anything I wanted to do, anywhere I wanted to go would be a burden on somebody else. And-so-help-me-god, I never wanted to be a burden. I never wanted to take up too much time or too much space. I just wanted to make sure everybody else was okay, or at least, okay with me.

Apologising was bible. And now I realise I wasn’t just apologising for something I’d done or didn’t do, I was apologising for who I was. I was saying sorry for simply existing, however much I was in my right to live and breathe and make decisions.

You get so far down this road of being a yes-man that feeling dissatisfied becomes routine.

You feel good for helping others, but you feel bad for not helping yourself. And no matter how much kindness you have shown, without showing kindness to yourself, you’re never going to use the wings you were given.

Those people you’ve aided in their own flights? They’ve fledged, or soon to be. You need to start spreading your wings and utilising the breadth of your character, because if you want it, who you are can take you far beyond just the pleasure of others.

Having been a people-pleaser for most of my life, I know putting yourself first is easier said than done.

The act of fulfilling your needs can often feel unnatural, strange and although it’s nothing of the sort, selfish. Guilt can even rear its ugly head, if you’re lucky. (I was was one of those lucky suckers!)

Start small. Begin with little steps and work your way up. Look after yourself in small doses and then commit further. Always set aside time for yourself, to be yourself and brainstorm what it is you want from life, from experiences and relationships. Get to know yourself and internal validation will come a bit more naturally to you.

Lastly, know your limits and understand that “no” is just as acceptable as the answer “yes.”

Refusal is not an insult, refusal is an action that prevents us from burning out.

“When you say yes to others, make sure you aren’t saying no to yourself.”

Paulo Coehlo

Featured

Progress Is Personal

As a blogger, it’s tricky to come up with new content to write about. You realise too, that it’s easy and incredibly tempting to step on the toes of a previous post. I understand there’s a certain type of cringe saved for plagiarising your own work.

I try my best to write for my readers as well as assuage my own creative desires, but that can sometimes meet a very incoherent and sloppy end.

Today, I drew inspiration from progress.

We can, as humans, all relate to this appetite for self-improvement and self-actualisation. In fact, you could even call it a collective hunger; the need to correct ourselves and finish first place no matter what.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, particularly in terms of recovery, that — even with the act of rehabilitation being crucial and necessary to life — it can still feel wildly competitive.

I used to believe there was a set deadline I had to be better by. I used to measure my wins against the achievements of “well” people.

Unsurprisingly, my courage in the therapy room didn’t seem to match up to the roaring successes of my peers.

What was so glittering about their victories, you ask?

The fact they were living, and I was not.

Even with a body and mind that was clearly unprepared for working life and commonplace pressures, I tried to force myself back into a state of wellness so I could exceed (or at least meet) the standard of living required to be normal and/or successful.

In another example of obsessive (non)progress, before recovering from anorexia, I used to compare my body to other “skinny” individuals. This became a fast fixation for me. I wanted to be the thinnest in the room, no matter how unliveable the physical form was.

It sounds mad now, but even then, with a destructive conclusion in mind, I was spurred on by the nature of competition. I needed to improve, I needed to beat targets, I needed to feel like I was doing something. It seldom mattered to me the prize at the end wasn’t a prize at all. The actions held more weight than the consequences.

In life, in all areas, we’re so quick to jump. We want to be in places we’re not ready for. We want to live, move on before we’ve even got our breath back. We want to grow even if we’re out of the sunlight. We want to be, before we are.

Progress is personal. Progress is gradual. You don’t have to shoot for the stars in a moments notice. How you achieve, how you recover, should be at your own pace, in your own comfortable way. You don’t have to be ready if you’re not, but you will get there eventually.

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Confucius

Although this wasn’t my best write, reader, I hope it offered you some kind reassurance for the journey you’re on.

May be an image of sky
Flexing my photography muscles:
who doesn’t love a sunrise?

Featured

The Making of a Man: Talking About Mental Health

Although this post primarily targets men for its title and content, I must stress, it is for everybody.

Talking about mental health transcends gender or non-gender; talking, opening up, sharing our experiences is available to every identity and ethnicity. We mustn’t let our supposed differences alter the way in which we ask for help or receive it.


The statistics, that’s what prompted me to specifically write about mental health in males:

Three times as many men as women die by suicide.

Mental Health Foundation, 2020

The reality of suicide is painful, and no matter how aware we are of mental illness and its effects, we never quite know until a life is taken from it.

In the UK, “suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50”, and the highest percentage of males who commit suicide belong to minority, disadvantaged or isolated groups within society. However, we must remember there is no set criteria to meet in order to experience thoughts of self-harm and suicide, anybody can go through emotional hardship and mental distress. There is (and should be), of course, considerable attention paid to higher-risk categories.

Unfortunately, men, as well as women, are subject to unrealistic societal expectations and goals. Destructive and sometimes fatal, these prickly, outdated traditions hinder how we express ourselves as men, women, both or neither. We’re held hostage by the belief that in order to be suitably feminine or masculine, we must be pretty and strong, respectively.

Do not show emotion, that’s a common one. To be perceived as manly, one must guard his anxieties and sadness. Men’s emotions must mimic the hardness and inflexibility of a rock. Men cannot struggle or admit to struggling without fear of being penalised for it, stripped of their manhood and judged as an incapable provider. It’s called toxic masculinity, and it makes me mad.

How is it right that, in regards to conventional femininity, a woman coming forward and asking for help is seen as natural to her personality, but when a man talks about his worries, he’s regarded as weak or vulnerable? It’s not fair, not fair on either gender.

There should be no expectations on how one should deal with mental illness, particularly not where gender is concerned. There’s no female or male way of dealing or coping with depression, loneliness, substance abuse or addiction. There’s a human way, yes, and no human can live or properly recover without displaying emotion or asking for help first.

Pulling from data, we know that men are less likely to seek psychological aid than women. Instead of speaking to their loved ones, it’s common for individuals to use harmful substances to cope with mental health problems.

There are many statistics to draw from, reader, but they all say the same thing: we have a problem. Men aren’t talking, or feel they can’t talk about their mental health, which consequently results in high suicide rates, unhappiness and plenty of males suffering in silence.

Although my post may not reach you in the way I intended it to, I want to let you know (male or otherwise), struggling is part and parcel of being human. You’re not doing anything wrong by not coping with something. It’s OK to share your fears, problems and anxieties with somebody else, whoever that trusted else may be.

Masculinity is not held on the basis of constantly weathering the storm. You can ask for an umbrella from time to time, or every time, it seldom matters.

Please, if you’re worried about your mental health, speak out, seek help and save your life.

Men’s mental health matters, too!

Featured

Taking Responsibility for Our Mental Health

Before I found recovery, I was defensive, bitter and angry. It was my prerogative to conserve the secret of being mentally unwell, despite knowing my actions and behaviours were hurting or confusing the people around me.

If anyone ever questioned my lashings out or disharmonious attitude, my back would be up.

Reader, there was no achievement in wounding my loved ones, but, admittedly, there was an achievement in surviving. And when you’re dealing with an unhappy mind, sometimes survival is limited to safeguarding your pride and maintaining your excuses.

Instead of protecting what I knew to be true, I protected what wasn’t; my life force was stolen by a purpose that almost led to my death, and I’m not proud of it.

But I can forgive it.

I don’t blame myself for my mental illness(es). Nobody chooses to have depression, anxiety, OCD, eating problems, BPD, bipolar…the list goes on, and how we act because our disorder/s, isn’t/aren’t a reason for blame.

Whether we’re unwell now, unwell then, or gradually recovering, neither position should warrant condemnation, discrimination or animosity from our peers, or anybody, for that matter.

Mental illness is not a symptom of you. It’s just unfortunate that the symptoms we experience from mental illness(es) can often translate otherwise, interfering with not only our personalities, but our ability to make rational decisions.

Prior to learning that mental illness isn’t a shameful or inappropriate diagnosis, I used to feel agitated by my family’s suggestions I had a mental health condition. No harm was ever meant in their asking, but I felt harmed, regardless.

It was shocking to me, embarrassing even, that my effort to uphold a “together” façade wasn’t washing. They had found my dirty laundry, and I grieved for it.

It was uncomfortable at first, completely nauseating; I didn’t like people knowing I was suffering. I didn’t like people being wise to what was going on in my head. I didn’t like people trying to rescue me from my martyrdom. I was unhappy, but I was used to it.

I was a lot of things back then – unpredictable, intolerable, paranoid. I probably didn’t make the best decisions, either!

However, with a compromised mind; undernourished, undervalued and weighed down by trauma and stress, it’s understandable that one would grow mentally unwell and act differently to who they are. You can’t blame the individual for their actions when it’s predominantly influenced by a mental disorder.

The way I see it, taking responsibility for your mental health does not lie in the disorder. It lies in asking for help. Or at least, accepting help when it’s offered.

We can’t do much about the afflictions we face, or the symptoms of those afflictions, but we can seek aid from professionals or loved ones to better our chances of wellness and amicable relationships.

We are not to blame for mental illness. There should be no blame or stigma attached to it.

For a better quality of life, though, let’s make sure our responsibility never falters when it comes to helping ourselves (or others) find recovery.

Pin it to your Pinterest board
Featured

The Treatment of Mental Illness

Curative methods for mental illness have come a long way since the days of barbaric practices and revolting medicines, and we can say thank god for that!

Without the scientific and technological advancements we see and experience today, we may as well be chugging down some rancid tonic to free us of our “lunacy”, or perhaps, we may even be sporting a hole in the head… I know which one I’d prefer.

Yes. I’ve always wanted to make a fashion statement via the cranium.

Thankfully, if we are psychologically struggling today, we are no longer coined as “divergent” or believed to be “demonically possessed”. We are merely human beings affected by our surroundings, relationships and upbringings, and no matter the factor/s or condition/s, we are listened to and mostly understood. We are not subject to indefinite isolation and societal shame.

There is still a stigma that deserves to be uprooted though, but at least we can be grateful for the contemporary standards of care; safer medicines, talking therapies, better hygiene and supportive professionals to name a few. We can’t forget how much we’ve evolved in that field.

We are very lucky to have the variety of recovery paths we do.

Before, it was either a one-way ticket to the asylum or a shot at something ominous. I’m glad we can trust in the advice of our doctors and pharmacists to cure or at least prescribe medication for our ailments unlike the days of our predecessors.

Mental illness, although still presently taboo, isn’t as universally shamed as it once was. 1 in 4 of us suffer with mental health conditions, so it’s not uncommon to meet or hear about somebody who has similar struggles to ourselves.

We can’t say for sure whether earlier-man endured mental illness as expansively as we do, but I can bet on the fact that many sufferers preferred to stay quiet than admit to this so-called “madness” and receive the so-called treatments for said affliction.

Medieval “healing” is one thing, the rejection of my peers is another; I’d be absolutely terrified to ask for help!

Despite mental health gradually becoming a popular talking point in modern-day, only 1 in 8 of us actually seek help for our conditions. As somebody who understands the trauma of suffering in silence, these statistics sadden me.

I suspect the reluctance to speak out, however, is somewhat linked to the past mistreatment of the struggling man and the misunderstanding that one could be strong all of the time.

Honesty was rewarded with contempt, so it’s no wonder that people kept and still keep their internal wounds a secret.

Thankfully, though, we can now rejoice for what has changed. The 21st century offers us more than just sceptical medicine and holes in the head. We can be on the end of good, productive methods of recovery and wellness. We HAVE options!

We can decide whether we wish to engage in CBT, take antidepressants (prescribed by our doctor) or participate in mindfulness techniques. The capacity to get better is possible.

The treatment of mental illness is no longer what it used be. Help is here, if you need it.

Featured

A New Space

New Year, it comes with a condition of self-reflection.

I don’t know about you, but when Christmas is over and we’re closing in on January, I feel spaced out, thoughtful and terribly confused what day it is; 7 days a week, take your pick. At least we know we’re somewhere in the twenties…*

Even though I’m excited for a fresh New Year, there is something incredibly melancholy about the expiry of an old one.

We’ve had 365 days and 52 weeks!

I’ve been cheated out of my quota somewhere, surely? Have I really lived all of this time and not known I’d lived it?

It happened before I knew it was happening, is all I can say.

This year hasn’t been like other years (and we shan’t mention the culprit), but I guess it still does whisper the familiar line of ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,’ because even if this year was a complete write-off, we were still given the time to live and 365 days in which to do it in.

I can be a pretty regretful person, reader, so even with a rough 2020, I feel like I could’ve steered the ship better. And yet, thinking on it some more, not even the most experienced sailor could’ve captained that storm. Christ.

Anyway, now that 2021 is on the doorstep, it’s time to bury the previous year in the back garden and let it grow with lessons learned.

Defined by loss, ’20 hasn’t been the best year for any of us, but let’s try and use it as motivation to encourage and embolden the future. We can’t let it become a constant blot on our visions and outlooks, no matter how ill-famed 2020 is (and will continue to be).

I’m ready for New Year, I want New Year and I’m thrilled with the promise of fresh stationery, too.

With its tired appearance and incompatibility with the hook on my wall, I can’t wait to replace my 2020 calendar with a new one! And, hopefully, next year’s diary won’t contain as many scratched out plans, either.

Although the buzz of new stationery may appear shallow, it’s a great physical representation of new beginnings. The freedom of space, the unused lines and unbent corners are all indicators of unlived time, days and months. This is what 2021 offers us, and it’s incredibly exciting.

With 12 months unused, we can begin, try and start again (however you mean to go on). The option is there for you to change, remain or go with the flow for the next 365 days.

For 2021, I want to embrace (or discover) who I am without feelings of embarrassment and guilt. I want to restore my self-belief and pursue a lifestyle which supports both my physical and mental health. And with all of these goals realised, I know I’d have found happiness.

Happy New Year, readers! I wish you luck, laughter and plenty of life. X

* It’s the 30th now, but when I wrote this piece, it made sense! 😉

Featured

Challenging Exercise

I like exercise. It’s something that inspires and moves my day. Admittedly, I don’t always enjoy the thought of strenuous activity, but once it’s complete, the satisfying gains and feel good hormones trumps anything else.

Without exercise, however, I’m afraid, I can be a bit grumpy. The crabbiness I feel for missed leg day comes down to a couple of reasons, one of which, I like to pretend isn’t mood-altering for me at all. I coin it is a dull ache overthrown by a bit of TLC, when in reality, it’s a twisted ankle I refuse to acknowledge.

If I don’t exercise, I feel uncomfortable, restless and snarky. I wish it was simply a case of withheld endorphins, but it’s not, it’s me feeling as though my worth is dependent on how many miles I’ve run or how many crunches I’ve crunched. It shouldn’t be that way, I know, but exercise can become an addictive source of comfort and preservation. And in some cases, compulsive exercise can be a symptom of an eating/exercise disorder.

Although my own eating disorder isn’t as controlling as it used to be, when it finds space, it reaffirms its position as puppeteer. I find myself, even on off days and/or rainy days, rolling out of bed, pulling on my sports leggings and going for a run automatically. I suppose it’s easier to convince a tired person to run than an alert one.

Naturally, I weigh up the pros and cons of doing and not doing exercise that day. You’d think that I would find more positives to run than not, but I don’t. What seems to happen is one argument in favour of exercise wins out every time – you’ll gain weight if you don’t.

However, I find that more and more these days the decider is constringent to the aforementioned as well as the threats of losing body shape, muscle mass and respiratory and cardiovascular endurances.

I worry, although highly improbable, one day of rest will undo months of training!

I used to do A LOT of exercise before undergoing anorexia recovery, but I never enjoyed it. It was through that misery that I realised I was addicted to exercise and needed help. I never relished in the act of moving my body. I relished in knowing I would lose weight. I understood exercise to be a means to an end.

Thankfully, after seeking professional help, I’ve learnt what exercise is meant and used for. It can be used as a method to lose weight, yes, but that’s not its sole purpose. You should enjoy the exercise, sport or activity you’re doing, in the moment, for what it is, not for what it will do (although that is a bonus).

I know I’ve still got more to learn about exercise. Primarily, getting wise to the benefits of resting my body. I aim to be kinder in my training and more flexible in my routines. I know this will come with time, practise and a wiliness to accept my body for its limitations. There’s definitely no overnight cure for exercise guilt!

I hope one day, when it’s raining outside and I’m feeling tired, I’ll listen to my body, kick the sportswear aside and opt for another hour (or two) in bed.

Image may contain: text that says "unhealthy VS. healthy exercise habits Less of this More of this Exercising to "burn" Exercising feel physically Exercising to weight Exercising feel good mentally Exercising sculpt your body Exercising emotionally Believing oumust exercise at the gym Moving ways other than formal exercise Doing exercises don't enjoy Moving your body ways you truly enjoy Exercising much you not well Separating your appearance from exercise Belie exercise Rejecting mainstream culture Feeling guilty when take day Taking off recover Exercising body njury Appreciating all that your body can do @taylorwolframRD"
Good to know: healthy exercise.

Featured

So This Is Christmas…

For all you music lovers and lyric buffs out there, you may recognise the blog title as a line from the well-known Christmas classic, Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon. There’s a sleigh-full of carols and Christmas no. 1’s I could’ve paid tribute to, but this year, I feel as though Lennon’s song summarises 2020 in a way that the news broadcasters can’t.

What a year, huh? Trial and error. Trial and error, and then, perhaps, more error on the account of our leaders and governments instructing, (what I would consider) a set of wishy-washy rules and regulations.

We weren’t prepared for the devastating nature of COVID, and as a collective force, we never believed we could be so vulnerable to a virus.

If there was anything good to be taken from this year, it’s our new understanding of mortality and how human survival is not dependant on fitness, wealth, youth or power. We can all be in the firing line, no matter who or what we are.

We’ve definitely learnt something about the lifesavers of the land, too. It was the small businesses, shop workers, local communities, health workers, emergency departments and charitable individuals that held us when we were in need. Hungry, ill, lonely or sad; they were the hands that rotated the earth when fear told us it would cease to spin. We owe them. We owe them more than the big corporations, we really do.

Lockdown and isolation has also rekindled our love for the outside world, nature and travel. Maybe if these luxuries were never taken away from us, the value of them may never have been fully realised or appreciated. From not having the freedom to explore our green and exotic places, we’ve arrived at their significance.

And conceivably, most important of all, COVID has, through all its division, inspired a greater love for our family, friends and fellow man. Whether it’s deep, familial chatter with a loved one or fleeting small talk with a stranger, it’s nice. It’s nice to be engaged with. It’s remedial to feel a connection with someone and there’s real safety in intimacy.

This year, Coronavirus has forced us to withdraw from the natural responses of giving someone a hug, high-five or handshake, and how wrong did that feel?

I think we’ve acknowledged now that most of our comforts come from the company of others.

Before the end of this post, I wanted to stress the line from Lennon’s song, “war is over” because despite the fact that 2020 wasn’t a war, it was something of a battle. We all made sacrifices. Millions of people have died and are still dying.

We’ve experienced loss, an incredible amount of it. Loss of income, jobs, businesses and services. Mental health has been hit incredibly hard, too.

With new vaccines in circulation, however, I hope we can soon say the war with COVID is over.

I trust that it will come, salvation, perhaps not as quickly as we may want it to, but these vaccines are our first real breakthrough in months. We may win this fight yet. And 2021 will be, unlike it’s crushing predecessor, “a good one without any fear”.

Pin this quote to your Pinterest

Featured

Being the Single Friend

As far as mental health is concerned, you may deem singlehood an irrelevant subject matter. And, as single as I am, reader, I’d 100% agree with you! Mental health is not dependant on your relationship status or the fruits of your love life. Absolutely not.

However, even though I say this so assuredly, I can’t help but appreciate what a romantic partner can do for your mental wellbeing. I blame my loved-up mates for this one, showing up to gatherings with a blush and a glow that puts my empty-handed, solo-self to shame. It’s near impossible to not be attracted to whatever health-kick they’re on. Seriously, sign me up.

Look, I like being single. It works for me. It works best for my character. I’m a freedom lover more than I am a romantic lover. Of course, this is all assumption for the minute. I could potentially be very romantic with the right partner. Although, even from just saying it, I’ve made myself pretty uncomfortable.

We’re all different in love, which is why there are plenty of fish in the sea (or, so they say). I haven’t been fishing much, so I couldn’t personally comment, but I’d like to think that my nature could — when the time is right — inspire somebody to love and appreciate me. And perhaps which is more, encourage a healthier way of thinking and being, as a pair, and as as an individual.

Since most of my friends are in relationships now, my role, as a friend, has changed. I am the “single friend”, and with anything unshared with your mates, you naturally lose a foothold in conversation.

You try your best to understand and input as much as you can on matters of the heart, but you’re not relatable enough. You’re not the friend with the boyfriend or girlfriend. You’re not the friend who’s in love. You’re not the friend that recently went on holiday with their S/O. You’re not the friend who celebrated their 2nd anniversary with their partner. You’re kinda just…single.

Without belittling my singlehood, there have been many times where having a partner may have left me feeling less sore and less lonely during and after a social gathering.

I don’t blame my friends for how they are and act in love. It really suits them. It may, in certain situations, not suit me, but their identity flowers under the light of love and I’m in awe of it. I’ve been able to watch them grow into confident young women, preparing and building futures with their partners I can only marvel at. Perhaps, I want it one day, but not for now.

Despite the fact that “single friend” can sometimes sound and feel like an insult, it’s not. It’s a respectable way of being. A decision subject to preference, situation and readiness. It doesn’t mean you’re identifiably unlovable or strange.

It takes a strong person to remain single in a world that is accustomed to settling with anything just to say they have something.

TheMindsJournal

A joint existence is as promising as a solo one. I believe that. And I’ll continue to believe it, with or without a man.

Sourced from here
Featured

Eating for You

I met up with my friend the other day, and we spoke veganism. As conversations go, this wasn’t an unusual subject matter, 1. because my friend has been vegan for almost a year now, and 2. because veganism and vegetarianism have become hot topics of the modern age.

Now, I don’t write this to entice anyone into, or deter anyone from, a specific dietary lifestyle. Absolutely not. This post is about advocating the wants and needs of your body, independent from what sources claim you should or shouldn’t be eating.

I’m not going to lie and say veganism doesn’t appeal to me, because it does. There are many benefits to a plant-based diet, for the body, for the planet. However, as I am, I know my body is better sustained by dairy products and meats. The former, for osteoporosis prevention (after my anorexia). And the latter, for muscle maintenance and menstruation.

I know a lot of people may dislike my reasons for eating animal produce, not in the recovery sense, I mean in terms of what I’m choosing to eat for certain nutrients. And I wouldn’t hold it against you, because you’re completely right.

I could indeed eat beans and pulses to replace meat and still get the benefits of. I could switch the dairy products out for leafy veg and still restore my bone health, but, at this current time, I’m happy as I am.

However, even with this dietary confidence behind me, the guilt of others’ food practices can devour me. I’ll pit my ham sandwich against a strangers’ tofu salad and — without so much as a punch thrown — I’ll concede defeat.

With the backing of various retailers and outlets, veganism has become a popular choice amongst individuals and families. Which is a great thing, and I’ll be the first to congratulate its initiation and continuing progression; the amount of animal-free products now is fantastic!

So, with the above in mind, reader, I hope you forgive me when I say; eating meat and dairy products is still OK to do. People may disagree with me, others may agree, but besides opinion, what people choose to eat is personal to them.

Whether you eat based on whim, dietary requirement/s or belief/s, you are NOT a villain for those choices. Whatever lifestyle may or may not be pushed, you have to satisfy the needs of your own body. A strictly vegan diet may not be for you. A diet with animal products may not be for you, either, and that’s OK. You can explore food until you find a balance that nourishes both your body and mind.

Although this post has focused on food type/ lifestyle up until now, I wanted to also stress the importance of eating to your calorific needs.

The reason I mention this is because when I was trying to gain weight for recovery, I often found it extremely difficult to eat 6 meals a day whilst everyone else was tucking into the “standard” 3. My actions felt atypical, but I needed to do it in order to get better.

You need to remember that just because your dietary habits are in stark contrast to somebody else’s, doesn’t mean they’re wrong. You need to eat for you, and do what is required of you to maintain your health and happiness.

Sourced from here
Featured

A Routine Called Circle

I’m to the point in my recovery where I’m painfully aware of both my expectations and limitations as a person. I know who I want to be and where I want to get to, but against those aspirations, I’m troubled by what can happen when you go too fast, take on too much and dedicate yourself to something you only half-love.

I’ve been there before, doing something for fear of doing nothing. You know, persisting with monotony, hoping that one day you’ll locate that sense of purpose you originally went out there to find.

Sometimes, we even feed into this monotonous state of being, not because we want to feel bored or lost, but because we’re scared. We’re scared that as soon as we discard our armbands (even after learning how to swim), we’ll forget how to float. We convince ourselves that, despite practising specifically for, our strokes won’t meet the expectations of the waves.

So, we hold on, clinging to the flotation device we promised we’d grow out of.

Only so much life can be lived in a rhythm of bobbing up and down.

We all want to get to a place of complete recovery (or living), without overdoing it, or, I suppose, underdoing it. We want to have things, people in our spheres that are good for us and contribute to our wellness. It’s the before bit, the pre-happening I don’t like. I just want to get there, skip ahead to the self-actualisation part, the moving part, before the settling starts to settle in again and the comfort zone gets too comfortable.

However, even with this freshly written paragraph above me, committed to accelerating dreams and connections, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t sit at green lights, because I do. And yet — reluctant at green or not — if it wasn’t for therapy, I may still be oblivious to the fact that each light signals something different.

I do try to remain as patient as possible when it comes to progress, but it’s hard to maintain when living is the only thing to do around here. It’s either living or dying, really, which explains why so many people choose a life of repetition, rather than one of not at all. I get it. I do. But I refuse to believe the only shape life can take is a circle.

Having been so close to death, it’s made me wonder about life – what it is, what it isn’t, what we allow it to be. And through re-nourishment of the mind and body, I’ve been able to (re)appreciate just how boring life isn’t, and how boring perhaps we make it sometimes; we’re all too busy trying to live what we already live, everyday, not what we haven’t.

We swear by patterns, routines and repetitions, and for the longest time, I decided that my life depended on them. Circle was kind. Circle was safe.

But now, after coming as far as I have, I realise that the circle starts and ends with me, and it’s time to breathe outside of it.

Pinned from Pinterest
Featured

Open to Vulnerability

Whenever a new week rolls (or more like sprints) around, I always wrack my brains for a new topic to write about. I care about this blog a lot, so I work hard to make the chosen subject matter relevant, relatable and personal. I must admit, I’ve dislocated my pride over the last one. It’s not as easy as putting one word in front of the other.

When you’re revealing an intimate story, you have to be emotionally naked. You have to let the emotions dress you up, and with that, accept that some days you’ll be sporting polka dots with stripes, sweatpants and heels, leather in summer, combinations that don’t characteristically look well together and materials that aren’t climatically appropriate. It’s embarrassing and incredibly messy, but truthfully, the initial discord is worth the healing.

Admitting to anything that has hurt or is hurting you, hurts, which is why nobody likes opening up about it. Nobody likes to disclose their Achilles’ heel to every one they know, or don’t know. Anything to protect ourselves from the nature of others.

Maybe it’s paranoia, or maybe it’s just mental preparedness, but you can’t help but speculate:

Will my vulnerability be used against me?

Will people act differently around me now?

Will they treat me like a decorative piece of china?

Will they think I’m weak?

For a time, writing and being so candid did leave me feeling sore. Not that anybody ever picked at my wounds. I had a long-term commitment to silence and it almost felt like a betrayal to be blogging, let alone blogging about the emotionally hard stuff. What I managed to write embarrassed me too, so open, so disgustingly honest. In order to avoid this ugliness, then, I’d deliberately water down blog posts. Call me an unreliable narrator, because that’s exactly what I was.

Eventually, after sedating my ego, I started to realise that pain isn’t supposed to be written pretty. Pain isn’t any less painful when you wrap a bow around it. Sprinkle anxiety in glitter, it’s still anxiety. Stick a couple of sequins on anorexia, it’s still anorexia. You’re allowed to write your story even if it’s a sad one. No individual’s journey should be overlooked just because it isn’t bound, have a large following or priced up in a bookstore. Everyone’s story deserves daylight.

After my first few episodes of blogging, I didn’t think I deserved a platform. I felt as though whatever I wrote was either too depressing or too nauseating for my readers. Hell, even my own honesty made me feel uncomfortable and helpless, so god only knows how it made others feel. Of course, this was only my self-doubt talking.

After a bit more practise in the art of vulnerability though, I’ve now learnt that a show (or any show) of emotion is not weak or mawkish. It’s brave, it’s helpful, and it’s inspiring. And we need to be open to expressions of vulnerability if we want to collapse the stigma surrounding it. Wounded prides or not, men, women, we need to get out there and share our mental health stories.

101 Inspiring Mental Health Quotes - Mental Health Match
Sourced from Mental Health Match

Featured

A Better Person

Humans, we’re flawed. Individually and collectively flawed. It’s an obvious thing. We know it, but we’re not always prepared to accept or change our ways in response to it.

I’ll be the first to admit, there’s a lot of pitfalls to my personality that I’d continue to fall through if I wasn’t aware of their presence.

I haven’t liked admitting to the existence of my imperfections because who on earth wants to accept — after championing their own niceness — that they weren’t as nice as they originally thought they were?

Perhaps I would have continued to be as self-destructive and distrusting of people if I wouldn’t have seen and felt the aftermath of somebody else’s decline.

I’ve realised that without the acknowledgement of what you lack in, the awareness of what you need more of, you alienate those you love. You allow your antagonistic traits to antagonise those you’d rather not hurt, and consequently harm yourself.

We all need to change, possibly not in the way people say, but in the way we know that we need to. It’s difficult, yes, and probably painful, but I think we all know what we really need to work on or change within ourselves in order to be better people.

Age is not a limiting factor, either, you can start healing now if you want to. It’s never too late to start recovering from what has set you back in the past.

Don’t decide that your bad behaviour is admissible. (I have to exclude mental illness here). I live with relatives who believe that their poor attitudes are changeless and it’s that kind of stubborn mentality that kills relationships, families.

I know that I’m not perfect and I’ll never claim to be; “perfection” isn’t for mankind, change, however, is.

Despite growing up in a household of inflexibility and disrepair, I’m willing to be better. I’m willing to change what I know needs changing. I’m not happy with what I’ve internalised over time, trusting in toxic coping mechanisms to get me through the day. I want to patch up my wounds, not use my wounds as a reason to hurt people.

I’ve been to therapy. I’m working on my failings, and it’s complicated, but at least I’m attempting to re-parent the parts of me that my parents failed to parent. Of course, the choices I make now are all mine, and I won’t blame the older adults in my life for them, no matter how tempting it is.

Humans, we’re not fond of change. We’d much rather be comfortable in our uncomfortableness than to accept that our way of being is ever wrong, unhealthy or unrealistic.

No matter how self-assured or generous we claim to be, we’re still capable of self-development and human improvement. We need to take responsibility for our bad behaviour and work to improve it, we shouldn’t just accept it as a part and parcel of who we are.

We are imperfect, but it’s our understanding of those imperfections that makes us better. We can’t recover, we can’t properly change without the acceptance of what we’d rather not admit to.

wholesome/feel good dump for your sunday night/saturday morning - Album on Imgur
As always, sourced from Pinterest

Featured

In Your Twenties

I comb through Pinterest a lot, seeking magical quotes that restore my belief in life and love. I’ve always been a quote seeker, appreciating how certain combinations of words can make you feel unlocked and inspired.

Being in your twenties is awkward, and I often scour the internet for answers of who I should be at this clumsy, insecure age of twenty-something?

What should I do?

What should I have already done?

I know I shouldn’t even consider there being a manual, a rulebook for growing up, but when you’re young and so aware of it, you want nothing else but to live life properly. You want to live your youth correctly. You want to be conquering the “young adult” bucket list whilst also acing the test of maturity and adulthood. You want to get there before the numbers tell you you’re either too slow or too old to now participate in what you wished you’d had, or never got around to doing. Regrets. We all hate them. And for the life of us, we don’t want them.

Coming from this early-life crisis, however, I did happen upon a quote that made the idea of age seem cosmetic:

Sourced from here

It appears that it’s less about how old you are, and more about how you let the thought of somebody else thinking about you interfere with how you choose to live your life.

We imagine that others are constantly thinking about us, looking at us, judging us. We assume that our failures and regrets are centre stage in everybody else’s play. They — the people we know (or don’t) — are too preoccupied navigating their own existence to consider the way we are, what we do and what we haven’t done.

Sometimes, I think about how much life I’ve wasted or given up because I’ve put too much faith in assuming that everyone was looking at me.

Even now, I can’t help but make the assumption that others are thinking about how badly I’ve botched up my twenties because of mental illness. When, in actuality, they probably don’t spare a thought for how “badly” I’ve done, more so that I’m alive and kicking.

I’m the only one who obsesses over my hang-ups. No one else.

Even though “nobody’s thinking about you” is still a new concept to me, I can’t actually believe how I used to think otherwise. How bold of me to assume that my messes sat in somebody else’s frontal lobe!

Other people may spare a thought for me, noted, but not every thought is about me. And I think we could all use that reminder every day.

Although I still feel as though I’m hobbling around in (what feels like) shoes too big, I need to accept that my twenties aren’t something to be done right. There’s no criteria that needs to be met in order to win here, and nobody’s worrying about whether you or I are off the starting blocks, either. It’s about doing our best for whatever’s best for us.

So, if we’ve learnt anything from the wise seventy year-old above, it’s that freedom can be achieved once we finally realise that other people are too busy living, to busy themselves with thoughts of us.

The 20’s: enter clumsy adulthood.
Featured

A Year of Blogging

On the 30th of this month, it will mark my blog’s 1st anniversary. Truth be told, I didn’t think I would make it this far.

I don’t believe my self-doubt of making this milestone was ever linked to writing itself, or the fear that my willpower would eventually peter out, no, the anxiety belonged to the belief that my story, my blog wouldn’t be fit for purpose. That, even with the ambition of wanting my words to take like medicine, it would take otherwise.

I wanted my blog, however little the readership, to help others because what reason would be worth more than that?

Even though I can’t say how many people have been inspired, touched or encouraged by my content over the past 12 months, I’d like to think that there were a few readers along the way who benefited or even sought help because of my honesty and eating disorder journey.

It hasn’t been an easy year for any of us, let’s be honest. And yes, I do mean you Coronavirus!

But even with the threat of said menace, we can’t say it hasn’t been a year full of revelations. Substantial revelations, actually, those that may not have been found without the face of that adversity.

I’ve learnt a lot from blogging here. I’ve loved blogging here, in fact, and I can’t champion enough how curative talking and sharing can be for your mental and emotional health. Anorexia feels less of a secret, less of a shame, when I can talk about it.

The 30th of October also means it’s been a year since I was discharged from the eating disorder clinic. It’s a funny feeling, really. A quiet sensation with a loud definition.

I’m glad I’m in a better place now though, of course I am, but no matter how I look at it, the ED clinic did offer me a protection unlike any other. I felt safe there, cared for and valued, but feeling that again would mean one thing: revisiting my illness, and I never want to chance reconciling with a state of mind that could’ve killed me.

Even though my therapist and I mustered quite a bond in the time we had together, she made it quite clear that she didn’t want to see me again. And I know that the best thing I can do for our friendship now is to live on, even if that means surviving without the refuge of the ED clinic and continuously missing my therapist’s quotable wisdom.

We have to move on. I haven’t always wanted to, mind you, but this blog has — in the year that I’ve held it — kept me rooted, and ever growing. My writing has helped me detangle the knottiest of knots and pin down the most flippant feelings. It’s been good, and I’ve liked having a voice. This isn’t the end, however, it’s only the beginning.

I can only hope that in my next year of blogging, my progress is greater, my writing better and my life fuller.

Thank you for sticking by me readers, you give a writer purpose. You give a voice an ear. ❤

Ernest Hemingway Quote: “Write hard and clear about what hurts. ” (22  wallpapers) - Quotefancy
Sourced from Quotefancy.com

Featured

The Heavy Topic of Weight Gain

During anorexia recovery, one of the toughest hurdles has been overcoming the fear of weight gain. And even after finding a place of dietary and nutritional understanding, putting on weight still terrifies me.

I’ve convinced myself through various unhealthy means, that body shape, clothing size and appetite are all valid reasons for someone not to like me. That somebody has the right to take me or leave me dependent on how “big” I look or how much I weigh. And despite how wrong it sounds, in terms of myself, I can’t really disagree with that logic.

Why? Because I do exactly the same thing to myself.

My identity and lovability as a person is conditional to what size jeans I wear. The amount of self-respect I deserve is measured by how much fat I DON’T clasp between my fingers. I rely on the scales to total up what percentage of happiness I’m due. It’s disordered thinking, I know, but it’s hard to escape from.

What’s even harder is having to stomach adverts that continue to glorify weight loss and portray beauty under a heavily filtered lens; I’m trying to UNLEARN the lesson that beauty is thinness and weight gain is nefarious! I don’t need phony ads giving my eating disorder a spring in its step when I’ve only just got mine back. I want to preserve this nourishment for as long as possible.

Despite my practise in rational thinking, however, I still associate weight gain as something bad, as something unwanted. I continue to panic over extra calories, and where they’ll end up on my body. I still fret over serving sizes. I still get uneasy when I’ve missed an exercise session.

No matter how I want to word it, I’m still very hardline when it comes to food, weight and exercise. I hate admitting it, but I am.

In some instances, in order to avoid weight gain, I’ll curb my appetite. And if I don’t manage to eat less than what my ED had expected me to, I’ll either feel ridiculously guilty about it for the rest of the day or I’ll make amends somehow, resulting in more exercise or decreased calories within another meal. I have to compensate somewhere, otherwise it plays on my mind.

Sometimes, when I think about it though, I don’t really know what I’m afraid of. Sure, I’m afraid of weight gain, but what is it about weight gain that I’m so terrified of?

Is it what others would think of me if I gained a few pounds?

Is it what I would think of me if the scales flashed me an “unsafe” number?

Or is it simply a control thing?

I have no idea. But what I do know is that I’ve met each one of these aforementioned fears and survived.

In recovery, I gained more than a few pounds and the people I love still loved me, and no stranger ever looked at me funny in my new skin. I’ve seen some “unsafe” numbers but those numbers did — no matter how brutish they appeared at first — essentially save me. And lastly, if we’re talking about control, I’ve never had more of it.

Weight gain might not always be a nice thing, but you know, sometimes it is a necessary thing. And even with my reservations and fears still present, I’ve got to try and remember that.

Sourced from Pinterest

Featured

Rebuilding a Life

Trying to resurrect a city from rubble is not an easy thing to do.

As I’ve found, from a year of repetitive sweeping and squinting at funny-looking tools, I’m no closer to piecing together a life that’s fitting of my expectations, and probably others’ expectations too.

I’m trying to be as patient as I can be with myself, but when you see a reality that’s nothing like the blueprints, you can’t help but want to give up, accept the dust as carpet and plywood as suitable bedding.

When I decided to recover from anorexia, I did, however naïve it might have been, anticipate the world. I expected Good Life to be on the doorstep, tapping it’s foot impatiently, and as soon as I opened the door it would greet me with an almost sarcastic, “oh, you’re finally here. Now then, shall we get going?”

No matter how far-fetched it sounds, I did want this next life to be a simple one, easy, like a 5-piece puzzle that I could slot together in minutes. I almost expected it to be like that because I had chosen life this time, so surely life owed me the same commitment and dedication?

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of assuming that the re-erection of my existence would be completed in “5 easy steps”. Ha. More like “5 easy steps” with a side of inconspicuous small print…and yes, you’d be right to assume that I didn’t read it!

It’s been hard trying to fill my days back up with “normal” and customary activities, either because they wreak havoc with my anxiety or because I haven’t been lucky enough to reinstate them yet; the former relating to eating out of my comfort zone and the latter referring to employment.

I want to be able to get back out there and make a proper go of my second life, because at one point, I didn’t think I deserved life at all.

Of course, no matter how little I’ve built skywards, I’m excited for the future. It’s just frustrating when I – knowing that I shouldn’t – compare my starting foundations against others who can boast skyscrapers, pretty lights and collaboration. I haven’t yet succeeded in any sort of tangible results, not that I can show people, anyway.

Rebuilding a life is agonisingly slow. 1 star, don’t recommend! But really, joking aside, starting again is an exasperating experience for anyone, no matter how or why you find yourself there. Nobody wants to stare at the bones of a house. Nobody wants to move onto their second life when everyone else seems to be winning at their first. Nobody. It’s not nice. When they come around, you want to be able to show them a bustling city, not a disaster zone.

Although my post may sound negative, I want you to know that it’s not. I’m telling you that even though finding yourself again (or maybe you’re looking for somebody else this time) is challenging and seemingly impractical, you’re not alone in doing it. I’m onto my second life, too, and yeah, it’s not ideal, but the most important thing is that there is still life to be had. We’re still alive, dear readers, and even without a city to defend, we can still be heroes for it.

Sourced from here
Featured

I’m Not My Disorder

Without even realising it sometimes, I prepare myself for social-rejection and failure. I believe that others will, if I’m honest enough with them, judge me for my eating disorder, assume that mental and physical deterioration will be the running theme of my life, and then decide not to take a chance on me. And I don’t want to risk that, but at the same time, I don’t want to lie about it, either.

It’s true, I was anorexic once. And it’s also true that my eating disorder continues to be a challenge for me, however, these facts do not factor into my character and determination to be a good person and to do great things. In fact, my supposed weakness, has given me a world of strength and the compassion to listen harder and to talk deeper; I’ve grown a lot and it’s not a loss of character, not in the slightest, it’s the blossoming of one.

Now that my eating disorder isn’t as obvious to the naked eye, I wrestle with the decision to disclose my mental illness. I want to. I always want to. What stops me is the thought that others will deem me – when I open up about my ED – as incapable, vulnerable and dependant, unworthy of an opportunity, for fear that that I’ll blow it because of previous breakdown history.

A part of me does appreciate how much consideration goes into my eating disorder, but from a reality that is presently standing still, understand that I want to move beyond the moment of time that I was sick, because being the slowest car on the motorway isn’t fun anymore. (Not that it was much fun in the first place.)

One of the greatest feelings I’ve felt is being treated as someone who can be trusted with themselves. I’ve spent a long time not having my own life in my own hands, and now after engaging with recovery enough to be gifted it back, I don’t want to let go of it. I want responsibility. I want experiences. I want to feel outside the confines of an eating disorder. I just need a chance.

There will still be bad days for me, as in every recovery journey, but I need people to have faith in my ability to recognise when I need help, and that when/if the time comes, I can indeed ask for it.

I’m not my eating disorder. My eating disorder is not my identity. It’s a mental illness that I’m working through, and more importantly, one I survived through.

Suffering with mental illness is a mere section of my larger life. It’s not a chapter I wanted. It’s not a chapter that felt any good, but it’s a chapter, nonetheless. One sore chapter will not prevent me from a healthier, happier ending, and I want to indulge this thinking until it becomes a reality.

Sourced from here
Featured

Good Relationships

Humans, us, we’re social creatures, and no matter how introverted you claim to be, forming connections with others and satisfying social needs are fundamental to health and development. Comradery, kinship, they are must-haves, and if lockdown has taught us anything, separation from our loved ones can be incredibly painful, lonely and debilitating.

Many of us are lucky to have loving relationships in our lives; family we cherish, friends we adore and co-workers we value. It’s important to have people in our bubbles that uplift us. To give love, and to be loved in return, to show respect, and to be respected back, that’s what a relationship should entail. There should be no one-sided effort or exchange.

We are all entitled to good, healthy relationships. No one deserves to be mistreated and taught that mistreatment is what they deserve. Relationships, familial or not, should not be tolerated when they are neglectful, hateful and dispassionate. Rapport should feel warm, pleasurable and nursed by both parties.

A relationship should feel good. It should not feel exhausting, violent or threatening. I pray this situation doesn’t apply to any of my readers, but if it does, I hope you find the courage and support to leave it.

I understand that it’s not always easy to detach yourself from someone, especially when the relationship is all you’ve ever known or been forced to know; family, friendship, romantic, or other wise.

When you are not fed love on a silver spoon you learn to lick it off knives. #love #lovequotes #silver #knives
Sourced from here.

I sympathise with the nature to settle for a relationship that isn’t always the best though, I really do. I’ve been on the receiving end of a toxic relation before. I kept them close because I believed that it was expected (by others, and by myself) to keep this person in my life, despite the anxiety and emotional turbulence it caused. I trusted in change more than I trusted in the relationship, which is why change never came and things never got better.

Having, or experiencing a bad relationship does impact us. I, for one, tend to withdraw from people because I’m afraid that said -ship will recur. I also find myself reflecting said person onto everyone else.

Thought process: I don’t want the same thing to happen twice!

Despite our previous or current unkind relationships, we mustn’t shine everyone under the same tainted spotlight. Not everybody is out to hurt you or treat you inferiorly. It’s just that there’s a few people in this world that aren’t very nice and need to be reconditioned in the art of kindness, humanity and respect. Putting it nicely, of course.

Yet, even with the bad guys, there’s still so much good here. I’ve got relationships and friendships in my life that make up for the poor ones. They accept me, they love me, and whether they realise it or not, they heal me from the past hurts left by the not-so-good others.

Reader, embrace the relationships that make you feel good. It’s the good relationships we deserve to be in the company of, not the bad.

Featured

I Want You to Imagine…

I came across this post on Pinterest the other day, and it not only gave me a hard lump in the throat but a damn good reality check:

I Want You To Imagine A Ten-Year-Old Version Of Yourself
Sourced from Pinterest, Mind Journal

If you’re anything like me, this post may make you feel emotional because you realise this unkind treatment of yourself and self-inflicted bullying is a regular occurrence, but it’s not one you’re always conscious of.

It wasn’t until I scrolled across this pin last night, bleary-eyed and partially blinded by the lamplight, that I became aware of how often I beat myself up. How often I turn myself black and blue with daily bouts of name-calling, self-criticism and misguided blame. I wasn’t just shocked by the routineness of these episodes either, but how natural, how right it felt to be on the end of verbal abuse and condemnation.

Then why does it feel so wrong when 10-year-old me is at the mercy of the same torture?

Why? Because she doesn’t deserve it. Because she’s none of those things. Because she’s not a failure, unworthy or unremarkable. She’s just a kid. And she has every right to believe in herself, to feel confident and to be loved.

It’s hard to face the brutality of your own self-loathing when it’s directed elsewhere or allowed to breathe outside of where it was born. The weight of your words are so much heavier…

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell my younger self how disappointing and useless she is. Yeah, she’s awkward and shy and too afraid to put her hand up in class, but that doesn’t mean she deserves to be neglected and teased. She’s learning. She’s making mistakes. She’s stumbling, but that doesn’t mean she should imprison herself from the love and future she desires just because she’s a little unsure of herself.

Lifelong loathing for an “oops”?

Continual contempt for a situation she has no control over?

She doesn’t deserve that.

We don’t deserve that.

Why must we punish ourselves with the words we wouldn’t dream of inflicting on our peers?

Why must we punish ourselves for self-growth, even if it is somewhat sloppy?

Growth can come in all manner of ways; messy, clumsy, loud and long-winded. I’ve never heard of a graceful failure or an easy recovery. Even if we are adults, there’s no professional way of falling flat on our backsides.

Children don’t get a free pass. Adults learn as kids do. We’re still allowed to screw up from time to time.

With all this in mind and regardless of our self-deprecating natures, we must try to remember that a disappointment does not make us a disappointment. Doing something embarrassing does not make us an embarrassment. Not being able to do something does not make us useless. We can’t allow these insults to turn into self-defining labels.

Imagine a life where you love yourself, that’s what I want for you. You don’t deserve anything less, even if you tell yourself otherwise.

Featured

My Honest Opinion on the New “Tackling Obesity” Policy

If you’re not from the UK, you may not have heard of the government’s new strategy to diffuse the “obesity time bomb”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely for the part of the movement that encourages adults and children to embrace healthier and active lifestyles. Of course I am. There’s no getting round the fact that the UK has one of the highest obesity levels in Europe and does need to curb its eating habits and exercise more.

Not being at a healthy weight including being underweight does impact upon our quality of life and well-being. It does increase our risk of catching certain diseases and illnesses, and with COVID-19 still posing a heavy threat, we must consider the health of our bodies, not only for our own sakes, but for the sake of our loved ones, too.

Statistically, yes, the government is correct and I appreciate their pledge to support better health. However, there are some tactics being implemented by the UK government that I really don’t agree with.

As someone who is part of the ED (eating disorder) community, I’m disappointed by the governments lack of consideration for those of us who struggle to ingest messages of weight loss as their intended. The language being used in these “tackling obesity” ads are triggering. There is a running theme of “empowerment” in the weight loss movement, a hurried tone that paints overweight individuals as the ticking “time bombs” themselves. And that is not acceptable.

Does the government not understand that obesity can be linked to eating disorders? Not everyone who is suffering from an eating disorder is thin. Weight is not a diagnosis for an eating disorder. There is no standard of appearance when it comes to disordered eating. You are stigmatising what it means to have an eating disorder!

The government has also decided to introduce a legislation which enforces many food businesses to display their calories. To some, this may not prove an issue. To me, this is a MASSIVE issue. I already struggle to eat out because I’m incredibly apprehensive of the food I eat and the food’s calorific content; I latch onto specifics, details and numbers and my choices are controlled and constrained by them.

When I go to a food place, I don’t want to be bullied by calories. When I visit a supermarket, I don’t want the “traffic light” system to always show me the red light. It’s hard enough as it is. I don’t want the calories to grow bolder.

With that being said, my dislike for mandatory calorie listing does not extend to the ingredients list!

Although there are other strategies within this “call to action” campaign I can’t back, I would like to mention these two:

  • The NHS Weight Loss Plan App.
  • Increasing weight loss services within the NHS.

The former method isn’t something I think should be eliminated. However, I would say that having downloaded the app myself (for research purposes), I’m not entirely happy with how eating disorder conscious it is. Despite being of a healthy weight, I was still allowed to participate.

Having been obsessed with weight loss and calorie tracking apps in the past, I know how damaging it can be to somebody who has an ED or who is susceptible to ED behaviours. I think this app should have weight limitations and set clear guidelines of who the app is for.

Lastly, I’m not against the employment of weight loss services. I think professional services like nutritional and dietary care are brilliant. I can’t compliment them enough. There should be more weight-related help out there, which leads me to my final point: I think there should be additional services that cater to healthy weight gain, too, then. There isn’t enough aid or info when it comes to gaining weight, and I don’t just mean in terms of eating disorders.

Thankfully, I wasn’t the only individual to voice my opinion on the “tackling obesity” policy, and Beat, the eating disorder charity, has written a letter to the government to outline their own reasonings why they disagree with the strategy.

If any of my readers have any opinions they wish to share, please voice them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Sourced from The Body Retreat
Featured

The Books That Taught Me How to Eat Again

At my most ill, food was unbearable. There wasn’t much anyone could say professional or otherwise to get me to eat or even consider eating. I distrusted food. Food was the enemy. Food was the saboteur. Food was going to make me fat.

I used to believe that “fat” was the worst possible state you could be in, and yet, it was my state of mind that led me to believe that lie in the first place. It was my state of mind that I should’ve been watching, not my eating habits or declining reflection.

When you reduce your calories to nil and deprive your body of vital nutrients for a prolonged period of time, your body will go into starvation mode. And within this starvation, you will not only be impacted physically, but mentally.

I was quite surprised to realise how dependent the mind was on how well kept the body is. I don’t know why (probably because of my lack of knowledge) but I used to believe that during my long-term hunger, the mind would remain untouched, unaffected and function as it should. I was wrong. I was really wrong. My mental health, my coherency of thought, my passions, emotions and concentration all deteriorated; I lost my personality. I lost the ability to be human.

By continuously not eating or by not eating enough, my anorexia was able to elevate my fear of food until eating became a complete mystery to me. I forgot how to eat.

My confusion transpired into questions of:

How do I eat properly?

How much should I eat?

What does a “normal” meal look like?

What does it mean to be hungry?

I was scared, but I seldom knew what real fear was. I wasn’t scared of dying. I wasn’t frightened of not eating food and the damage it would do to my body, I was more afraid of eating, putting on weight and skipping rituals.

Despite my fearful rejection of food and weight gain, I did manage to choose recovery over it. It wasn’t easy. It took some time. Learning to eat again was tough, but via the help of various aids, I started to regain a sense of what healthy eating looks and feels like again.

I was lucky enough to receive both dietetic and therapeutic care during my battle with anorexia (and I highly recommend it), however, one of the aids I did also look to, which I think will help you too, were books.

I wanted to share – for any of you readers struggling to receive professional dietetic help out there, or those of you who just need a healthy reminder – the books that have supported me on my recovery journey, my understanding of food and my reintroduction to eating. You may not consider yourself very bookish, but these books were especially valuable to me when I had little to rely on, so they may benefit you in some way.

  1. Re-Nourish: A Simple Way to Eat Well by Rhiannon Lambert.
  2. Recover from Eating Disorders: Homeodynamic Recovery Method by Gwyneth Olwyn.
  3. Beating Eating Disorders Step by Step: A Self-Help Guide for Recovery by Anna Paterson.
  4. Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder by Joanna Poppink.

When I was searching for books to help me re-establish a new way of eating, they were few and far between! Many of the books I came across either encouraged fad diets, lacked sensitivity or failed to ease my food concerns. The books I’ve highlighted above, however, focus primarily on health, science and recovery. There’s no persuasion of “get fit fast” or “lean in 15”, there’s only the persuasion to get well and that’s what’s important.

Picture sourced from here
Featured

The “Safe” and the “Not So Safe” Foods and Diet Culture

I can admit to myself how illogical it is to think that some foods are innately good or bad for you. We know, I know that most foods are fine for you when consumed in moderation. However, it’s been a tricky road trying to convince myself that carbohydrates (the food group that most of my fear foods belong) are not going to make me soar in weight.

It’s frustrating having this kind of mental catalogue that dictates what I can and can’t eat. Sometimes, even the “good” foods are subject to certain requirements, like the amount of exercise I’ve done that day or even how accomplished I feel.

Anorexia tends to thrive off of this “do I deserve” or “don’t I deserve” mentality and there’s rarely an occasion where food is eaten or chosen on a whim.

I wish I could just pick something off the menu that I want instead of a plate of “reliable” food that only feeds my eating disorder’s ego, and not my appetite.

I’m bored of eating basic salads and tame vegetables all the time. I want more, and there’s definitely a craving for more, but this larger appetite and love of food isn’t so easily stomached by anorexia.

Why can’t I have the beef burger with chips or the decadent chocolate sundae?

I’m always withdrawing myself from what my body desires and what my mouth waters for.

Surely then, if we’re looking at this from a nutritional point of view, I’m not only denying myself of what my body wants, but what it needs.

So are the foods I consider “safe,” really safe when I’m championing them over what it actually means to be healthy?

Eating a balanced diet that embraces a variety of foods, colours and nutrients, am I not doing that?

No, you’re not. You’re not doing that because excluding fat, sugar and starch from your diet is not balanced. You’re not taking the “safe” with the “unsafe”. You need both. You need both in order to be fully nourished, healthy and whole.

A part of me can’t help but blame diets and diet culture for my deliberate avoidance of certain foods. Of course, my eating disorder doesn’t help with this, but there are a plenty of dietary methods out there that paint carbohydrates, sugars, fats, dairy and red meats in a bad light.

Sure, eating too much of something will result in gained weight or ill health, but no food or food group should be labelled as the problem. Everyone’s bodies are different and not all of us will benefit from the same dietary patterns.

Before working with my dietitian, I believed that dairy would make me fat and carbohydrates were “insidious“. Through proper teaching and eating though, I began to learn how detrimental dairy and carbohydrates were, not only for the body, but for a starved body, like mine used to be.

I needed dairy for my bones, for warding off osteoporosis. I needed carbohydrates for energy and fibre. They’re not villainous food groups. They’ve helped me get healthy and although I can’t always appreciate eating them (for anorexia’s negative response), I appreciate what they can do for the body.

I’m aware that my diet could still use some work in terms of variety and flexibility, but having come to see the value in the foods I fear, I’m more emboldened to introduce them.

Featured

A New Place to Start

However much I’ve hated and still hate the misery of having an eating disorder, I can’t help but feel grateful for the way my breakdown has brought me back up.

It’s strange to be thankful for the thing that trapped and withheld me within a place of unhappiness, but I am. I am, because that place of stifling confines and sharp edges gave me the opportunity to think. In fact, there was no room not to think. I had to acknowledge – whether I liked it or not – the life that could be lived outside of the barbed wire fence. Because there was a life, there is a life beyond the belief that there isn’t.

After existing in survival mode and snoozing through episodes of my life for so long, I had succumbed to the sensation that I couldn’t be anything else but a beating heart.

I didn’t know what I was doing, here, there or anywhere. I didn’t know what I could offer, physically, mentally or socially. I felt as though I’d been invited here, on earth, as a joke.

There must have been some kind of mistake, right?

And if it was neither a joke or an error on the creator’s part, they’d wasted a good invitation on me.

I was never going to play a role that didn’t end in tragedy. And I’m sorry for it. I’ve always been sorry for it…

Reflecting is painful.

How much self-hatred did I have?

A lot, it seems.

I wish I wouldn’t have suppressed my identity so much and that I would have lived my past better, but I didn’t, and I have to live with that. Which I will do, but graciously. I’m not going to let my previous regrets define or justify my attitude, decisions or relationships today. I’ve seen that happen before and I’m not willing to inflict the same damage upon my life, or anybody else’s life.

But look. I’m here now. I’ve grown. I’ve learnt and I’ve found life. I’m living, and I actually want to live. And that’s something that has given me the courage to ask for more, to do more and to be more.

It may have been an ugly rock bottom that I fell to, but I found something there, something beautiful that I wouldn’t have found otherwise: a new place to start.