A ‘Severe’ Eating Disorder

I found a letter from last year regarding my eating disorder, and it stirred a few thoughts.

There’s no such thing as a severe eating disorder, ALL eating disorders are living hell and the fact that a proffesional claims me to have had a ‘severe‘ eating disorder makes me mad- so what, you think others aren’t severe? No matter what your weight, what your physical conditions, eating disorders are sheer hell. You can’t go out to enjoy yourself with friends, oh no, you must instead do laps around your local neighbourhood when your parents think you are asleep, you must restrict every waking hour to minimal food, you must constantly be agonising over your body.
Now, who are you to label as ‘severe’ or ‘mild’? Have you been through it yourself? No. Then you couldn’t possibly understand.

I’m sick of the macros, I’m sick of the BMIs, I’m sick of being sick of it all.

Why is it that there’s always a competition? If we were all sicker than each other we’d all be dead, simple as.

Strength is not determined by how low your weight got or how long you went without eating, strength is determined by the courage and determination it takes to recover.

Thanks for reading.

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World Mental Health Day

To celebrate World Mental Health Day I drew a badge that can be reposted and displayed on blogs.

I also wrote a post on my personal instagram and Facebook which, I’m going to be honest, was utterly terrifying, but the support I received from it was incredible.

I wrote:

Today is World Mental Health Day. Many people probably don’t even know, because unless it’s effected you there is very little awareness of it.
If someone had a physical illness you would have no problem with helping them, why should mental health be any different?
I would say I’m a fairly normal teen- I like DT, want to go to uni, and like watching Bake Off and The Apprentice. I have a fab family and great friends, yet mental health still effected me. 2013 was a hard year, I was diagnosed with anorexia and started my journey in recovery. 2015, 2 years later, and I’m still going. I am now weight restored and can do things I wouldn’t have dreamt of then, including running to raise money for Beat.
The point? Mental health issues don’t always happen to someone else.
Be aware, be understanding and most importantly- speak about it. It’s about time mental health was brought out into the open. Feeling like you can talk to people about how you feel is so important; depression, eating disorders, anxiety- they are actually fairly common. 1 in 7 people struggles with mental health issues, that’s at least 3 in an average class.
Don’t be afraid to seek help, there are many others out there who feel the same as you.
#worldmentalhealthday

The message of this post? Don’t be afraid to reach out, the world is growing ever-more accepting and understanding of mental health but we still have a way to go. Help make understanding grow by sharing and talking about mental health. #starttheconversation

Thanks for reading.

Orthorexia article: The Guardian

Today The Guardian published an article about orthorexia, entitled ‘Ortherxia:when healthy eating turns against you‘. This is a really interesting article that is well worth the read; including an individual’s story, a fitness blogger and a psychiatrist’s opinion and the debate about whether it is its own individual criteria or whether it is part of anorexia.

I believe that it is time othorexia was taken seriously and made a medical criteria along with anorexia and bulimia. It’s time people understood that all food is healthy in moderation, and eating only ‘healthy’ foods is in fact not healthy at all.

You can visit the article here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/sep/26/orthorexia-eating-disorder-clean-eating-dsm-miracle-foods

Thanks for reading.

Louis Theroux: By Reason Of Insanity REVIEW

Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity is a two-part documentary published in March 2015 by the BBC.
The documentary is about those who are cleared of criminal charges due to reasons of insanity by court. The episodes are an hour long each, during which you meet several patients and follow their stories.

Part one of the documentary on the BBC.
Part two of the documentary on the BBC.

Louis Theroux explores the world behind Ohio’s mental health hospital where people go when they are not deemed sane enough for trial.

The documentary was very interesting while also a bit chilling at times. The stories of individuals were explored and from a psychology point of view it was very interesting to see how different each patient and their symptoms were, even under the same diagnosis.

Being a sufferer of mental health issues myself, I was nervous about watching this documentary. I am relieved to say it hasn’t made me feel any worse about my mental health- I enjoy exploring mental health in a wider context than just my diagnosis, so seeing these people who have committed extreme cases of violence due to a mental illness was particularly interesting but also heartbreaking. I feel I can relate to some of them especially with their depression, although I personally do not have delusions. I think programmes like this raising awareness of mental health conditions to the general population are so important, so I really valued the chance to watch it.

I did find on a few occasions I wasn’t sure of what Theroux had said and whether it was appropriate/ thought it might be unnecessarily upsetting, such as saying to one patient that he wanted him to feel more guilty/express more emotion when clearly the patient struggled with emotional difficulties and therefore it wasn’t his fault and was also a sensitive topic. I found one of the parents shocking, calling her son a ‘nut’ for having schizophrenia, but I guess this is how people behave in real life- sad, but true.

Anyway, overall it was a great documentary and I would recommend it to both those suffering with mental health issues and others.

Other reviews:
The Guardian
IMDb
The Telegraph

Thanks for reading.

My First Inpatient Meal

This post talks about the thought processes I had during my first meal at the inpatient unit. It could potentially be triggering to those struggling with eating disorders so please be careful,
I’m posting this to raise awareness of what it’s like to battle your demons through each meal. I hope you like the style it’s written in, feel free to leave feedback in the comments and I’ll reply as soon as possible (I get back home from holiday in a few days time so will reply then).

My First Inpatient Meal

I remember my first meal.

Half a tuna sandwich.

The mayonnaise and sweetcorn spewing from the sides.
My hands shook as I moved the half across from the plastic container to my plate. The others began. Silence all except for the radio wittering softly in the background. I picked up my sandwich again. I looked at it, studied it’s brown seeds and soft brown crust. I pulled it closer to my mouth, lingered there for a moment. Unwillingly, my mouth opened. I nibbled the corner. The dry bread slipped down my throat.
Time was slipping by.

I looked around me, seeing how far others had got. Most had eaten almost a quarter. The girl sitting opposite me, also on half portions, had barely touched hers. I must finish last. No one will take me seriously unless I finish last.

The minutes ticked by.

Soon ten minutes were up, then fifteen. We were half way through the meal. I was less than halfway through my half-sandwich.

I took another bite, forcing the salty tuna down my throat. I felt the eyes of other patients bore into me, sizing me up. Sizing. Ha, it’s almost funny isn’t it? That in actual fact they probably were looking at my size. My enormous, disproportionate body. The body that the professionals insisted was ‘underweight’. The body that I had toyed with for all those months. The body I tried to make disappear.

As I sit there, my head spins. It’s too late now, there’s no going back. I will gain weight, I will never again be this thin. I can’t bear it. If I look like this now, what will I look like in ten kilograms? What will I look like with both halves of the tuna sandwich?

I take another bite.

Nonchalantly I chew. Again, I look up around me, up at the clock this time. 10 minutes left. I let my gaze drift down to the window. There’s a garden outside, one for the adolescent unit. I see a girl sitting there on a bench. I wish I could be sitting there, in place of that girl. Free to run around the garden, to exercise without the judging eyes and stern words from staff.

I look down at my hands. Just a few mouthfuls left.

The staff disturbs my thinking, “five minutes left, five minutes”. I shove another mouthful in.

Chew.

Chew.

Chew.

Swallow.

I try not to think of the grease coating my mouth. I look around, everyone has finished. Even the girl opposite. I stick the last bite into my mouth, just as the staff calls for us that our half an hour is up. I think I’ve done it, but the staff shakes her head at my plate, indicating that I must scrape it clean. Humiliated, I use my finger to scrape the excess crumbs and mayonnaise from the plate. A stray piece of sweetcorn also finds itself in my mouth. No need to chew, I swallow fast. No supplement drink for me. I was through our first meal.

***

Thanks for reading.

Fundraising for Beat

This Sunday I am going to be running a 5km obstacle course to raise money for Beat.
As is obvious from this blog, this charity is very close to my heart and means a lot to me as it is raising awareness and also offering help to both sufferers and families all over the UK who struggle with eating disorders.

It’s easy to raise money, there are so many possible fundraising activities you can do- raising money but also having a whole lot of fun in the process. You can do cake sales, sponsored runs, walks or cycles, discos, sell handmade cards- you name it!

I have had so much help for my eating disorder over the last two years, which I am eternally grateful for. It feels absolutely wondertful to be able to give something back.

So far I have raised over £200, which is over my original goal of £150!

If you would like to sponsor me please visit my JustGiving page.

I have posted fundraising updates on both my personal Instagram and Facebook which was quite a challenge as I explained that I had suffered from an eating disorder, but people have been so supportive I couldn’t be more thankful. Asking people to sponsor me is also a great oppeetunity to explain what it’s really like to have an eating disorder. Being open about mental health is hard, but I will always try my best to be open because that way we can break stigma and make it easier for the future generations to talk about mental health.

Together we can beat eating disorders.

Thanks for reading.

Freya raising awareness

One of the only positive things that has come out of having this illness is meeting some of my best friends. My time as an inpatient in an adolescent eating disorders unit was hard, but the friends I made are friends for life.

One of them, Freya Chandler, is a Beat Media Volunteer and has recently done an interview for the BBC. In it she makes some really important points, and she speaks honestly and truthfully about her experience with anorexia- something I think is really brave and important to do. How can we hope to break stigma if we don’t first try to educate people and help them understand?

Her article and video are on BBC Newsbeat website, the Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, and Huffington Post.

She also appeared in the Daily Mail, though they twisted her words and the article was stigmatising and wrong. They just want to make a good story. Well guess what? Eating disorders are hell and should be treated seriously, not just to have a good sounding title. It honestly makes my blood boil.

It’s printed now and what’s done is done. I am angry at the Daily Mail, but so so proud of Freya for being a voice for so many people suffering from this awful illness. The BBC article was incredible and they did a wonderful job at portraying the truth about eating disorders, which I couldn’t be more grateful for.

Some of my favourite quotes from Freya:
“There are triggers everywhere and you just have to learn to build yourself up against them”
“Use the old person not as a motivation to go backwards but an inspiration to move forwards.”

I hope you enjoyed the article,

Thanks for reading.