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.

My Story, In Prose – by Sarah

Today I am sharing a story. One of sadness, true, but also determination and triumph. This story is not my own, but Sarah’s. Sarah is an inspirational young person and a fighter against anorexia. I hope that you find Sarah’s story as gripping and wonderfully written as I did, as well as it allowing you insight into what it’s like to live with an eating disorder.

My Story, In Prose
By: Sarah
Instagram: @oatsosarah
Written 8/24/2015

August, 2012

Sarah is thirteen and Sarah is fat.

Those are two things that Sarah knows with absolute certainty.

At the doctor’s office, that fateful day in late August, Dr. G says, “Sarah, you are off of your growth charts. Sarah, you must lose weight. Sarah, you must eat less. Start exercising. Something must change”.
And Sarah changed, oh yes they did!

Autumn, 2012

Sarah’s best friends are slim. Athletic. And so are their classmates! In fact, Sarah can count the number of fat people in their school on the fingers of one hand. Sarah only ever wanted to fit in.

“Daily Caloric Intake Calculator
Age? 13.
Height? 5’4”
Weight? xxx lbs.
Goal Weight? xxx lbs.”

It spit back a number and heaven help us, that number was Sarah’s life!

Winter/Spring, 2013

The shower’s water is hot on Sarah’s back but Sarah feels cold inside in an odd, icky, not-so-good way. Brown smoke clouds Sarah’s vision and they nearly fall. Panic. Panic everywhere, and Sarah can’t see!

“I can’t see!” Sarah shouts, hands clutching grey walls. “Help, I can’t see!”

Their mother comes, wraps them in a towel. Spots, static, in front of Sarah’s eyes and a burning pressure right behind them.

“I’ll get you some orange juice? Maybe you’re hungry,” The words cut like knives. Heartless attempt at kindness, that is. Offering her child ORANGE JUICE, while that child is on a DIET?

It’s a waste of calories, Sarah.

“No thanks, I’m fine.”

“Sarah, you are eating /something/.”

Sarah picks up the smallest clementine they can find from the bowl in the kitchen.

“I’m fine.”

Spring, 2013

It’s all your fault, Sarah. Just because it was your mother’s birthday dinner did not mean that you had to eat that. Or THAT. What were you thinking, you fucking fatty? Of course you’ve gained weight since this morning. Of course. Because you fucking pigged out tonight, that’s why! Go. Go do laps and TRY to burn off all the weight you’ve gained. FUCKING FATSO.

Pacing, pacing into the dark, and then jogging, breaking into a run, again and again laps around the house, around the yard, uphill and downhill and uphill again. Sarah tastes bile, sweat drenches their face.

The scale reads lower and Sarah nearly collapses with relief.

Nearly, because only lazy pigs sit down for no reason.

Summer, 2013

Sarah is an overachiever and thus, has decided to take an advanced summer course at school. For the students in the summer session, the dining hall staff were kind enough to cater lunches for the summer session students.

Hot fudge sundae bar! Two of Sarah’s friends, who also opted to take the class, are excited. They rush to the bar— aren’t you going with them, Sarah? They have dark chocolate chips, after all!

Sarah drags themselves up, tears waiting anxiously behind their eyes, ready to run in an instant.

You’re stronger than this, Sarah. Look at you, worthless monster. You’re giving in. Stop. Stop. Stopstopstop.

Sarah gets a small bowl of vanilla ice cream. Passes the dark chocolate chips without a second glance.

Upon arriving home, they begin to exercise, and continue into perpetuity.

August, 2013

“Sarah, look at you! You’ve lost xx lbs! Look at how healthy you are!”

Sarah is healthy. Sarah is healthy.

First day of school, 2013

Sarah, you look so good!
Any tips? C’mon, spill!
Look how SKINNY you’ve gotten!
Wow, way to get in shape!
I’m so inspired by your self control!
Man, you’ve lost a ton of weight!

Autumn, 2013

Sarah’s not studying enough, Sarah has to get up at 4:30 am to study. They can study till 6:30 and then leave for school at 7:30 and still make it on time.

On the weekends, why isn’t Sarah studying for 8 hours a day? Wait, they do? Okay, what about 10? Do you have anything /better/ to do, Sarah? NO. Studying is all you’re good for, after all.

100%.

A+.

You want to get into an Ivy, don’t you! You need to actually work, not sit on your lazy ass all day.

Sarah’s mother is concerned.
“Sarah, why does it take you an hour to eat your oatmeal every night?”
“Sarah, aren’t you healthy already? Why are you only eating x calories a day?”
“Sarah, when will your diet be over?”

November, 2013 Continue 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.

Anorexia in one picture

Sometimes it is hard to capture in words exactly how I feel.
You know the saying ‘a picture says a thousand words’? Well I couldn’t agree more.

After a particularly upsetting day yesterday, I decided to let my feelings out not through self destructive behaviours, not through words, but through taking photos.

I’m going to put a trigger warning here because you can see my ‘spine’, although only because of the position I am in.

This, to me, symbolises anorexia.

The bare back turned away, vulnerable. Caught in a corner with nowhere to turn. No-one and nothing but anorexia. The hunched position, the fear and desperation. That is anorexia.

Anorexia is not this glamorised thing you see on ‘pro-ana’ sites or Tumblr. It is a life threatening and devastating illness. I’ve been in recovery for two years now, and still in some respects I am deep within its grasp. It is hard to let go, hard to do normal things and go about everyday life.

I wish more people understood and accepted that recovery from mental illnesses are not easy. I always feel pressure on me to recover and stop needing therapy. One of my biggest fears is not being able to connect with people, so when people don’t understand me it sends me into panic. Yet so few people do understand me. How can I expect others to understand me when I don’t understand myself?

I am trying, and I will not stop trying until I am through this illness.
For a few blissful months I was weight restored, doing well and hardly thinking about food. I was exercising sensibly, and for enjoyment. Now that frame of mind seems unreachable. But if I have done it once I can and will do it again. That is what I keep telling myself.

Stop saying tomorrow and start saying now. That is what I need to do. I need to get my life back.

Thanks for reading.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2015: My first video

Sorry for my lack of posting lately, school is very stressful and I have been struggling a bit with my mental state. I am trying hard to stay on track, but food thoughts and self harm urges have been bad so it really is a battle at the moment.

I would never wish an eating disorder upon someone, no one deserves to go through that. I know from personal experience how horrible it is and how hard it is to recover from. But it is possible.

I wrote a song a while ago and decided to edit a video of it to raise awareness for Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2015.

I am not a strong singer so I do apologise for my terrible vocals. It was really hard and anxiety-provoking posting this, but if I want to make a different to how people view mental health I have to be open about it.

So here goes!

My previous post on this poem/ song lyrics: Shadows [original poem]

Thanks for reading

Mental Block

I am so, so tired recently.

It is an effort to get out of bed; to dress; to brush my teeth. 

I don’t want to talk to anyone or do anything… All I want to do is sleep.

But why? Why am I feeling like this?
It’s because I am exhausted. I have reached my limits, ran over them with a monster truck and crushed them. I cannot concentrate or do much because, quite simply, I am beyond the point of functioning.

IMG_3904.JPG

You may have noticed my lack of blog posts of recent, and that is simply due to this immense tiredness.

Thing is, when I reach this level of exhaustion I feel mentally exhausted too. I can’t think clearly, all I want to do is go to bed. I don’t want to eat, and typically this is when the food thoughts come back loud and strong.

Every little thing seems to take on huge importance. Every little thing I do wrong is remembered, yet the good forgotten like a breeze. If only I could have a more balanced view of life.

I don’t know what to write.. What do you all want to read about? More about me/ my experiences, Christmas meal plans or advice, tips and therapy help? Please do comment and let me  know, I really cannot think straight and thus have no idea what to write.

I like writing though because I find myself actually listening to how I feel, but in a controlled and closed way, that when I’ve had enough of I can just walk away from, the thoughts left alone on my computer.

Anyway, I am profusely sorry for this ramble and my lack of posts. I am alive and I am eating (probably too much) so it could be worse.

Thanks for reading.

We can never be prepared for some things

Today I found out that a boy’s (who goes to my boyfriends school) parents were murdered last night.

He was in the house, and heard something in the night. I don’t know exactly what happened, but essentially he called the police and tried to save his parents, but it was too late. He had to hide while this murderer was in his house. He has to watch his parents die.

Apart from the obvious terrible pain and terror of this, what is so awful is that the day before, he was probably messing around with his mates, stressing over homework and whether he was going to get invited to the next party… All such small things. And before he knows it, none of that matters anymore. His parents are gone. He’s alone.

I wonder what the last thing he said to his parents were. I wonder when he last told them he loved them.

Now I know it must seem silly, how affected I’m getting when I don’t even know this person, but it is just such a shock. I may not know him personally, but my boyfriend knows him and is in the same year as him in school, it’s just like having someone in my year’s parents be killed.

It happened in Fetchem, a lovely little village in Surrey. No one was expecting it.

IMG_0711.PNG

I guess it’s just made me realise that we never know what’s going to happen in life.

I already tell my parents I love them every day and hug and kiss them, purely because I’m scared that one day they’re not going to be here and I’ll be thinking back to the time I was with them with sadness and regret.
I don’t want that; no one does.
I am so scared of my parents dying or leaving me.
Whenever my parents drive somewhere, especially at night or if it’s far away, I wonder if they’ll be safe.
I don’t know what I’d do without them.
My therapists come and go, as do most friends and people in your life. But my parents, they’re different. They love me unconditionally, they have to, that’s who they are as parents; caring and loving, even if sometimes it might not always show in the way you want.

I know this post is rambling and doesn’t have a particular point yet. I guess I am simply just so shaken up by this murder, and I can’t help but think about if it were me, if one day my parents were there and the next day they were gone.
And the truth is, I can’t imagine it. Because I know that if they went, I’d go too.

This boy was so incredibly brave to call the police and try to save them. He was right to hide and keep himself safe, I just hope and pray with al my heart that he sees it that way too.

I did terribly in my psychology timed essay today, I cried in my physics lesson because I’m thick and don’t understand any of it. I’m bloated, I have a terrible body image, I despise both my appearance and who I am. I felt tired and wary and down.
I wish I could say that now this has happened, I see that it’s all irrelevant. That would make sense, right? That looking at the bigger picture, at least I have a loving family and I am safe. But all I can think of is how we never know what’s going to happen next, and that makes me want to do well even more. Imagine if today was the last day I lived? I haven’t done enough. I’ve struggled with school work, not done enough homework, cried in font of a teacher.. And yes, to some extent ‘so what?’. But I also feel like I owe it to this brave boy to man up and get on with life, not be the emotional wreck I am.

I have no reason to feel like this, to feel so hopeless and depressed.
Man. Up.
But I can’t.

I need to see this in a logical frame of mind.
We need to be greatful for what we have every day, no matter how small or irrelevant it may be, no matter how much you may take it for granted.

I am thankful for my loving parents, my wonderful family and amazing friends. I am thankful for the roof over my head and the amazing opportunities I have.

I am thankful, yet I am scared and lost.

Is it possible to be both so greatful or what you have and yet so dissatisfied with yourself and your performance?

I am just so lost.

I only hope I can be found again.

My prayers are with the family and friends of the Kettyle family.

News articles:
BBC
The Mirror
Get Surrey

Thanks for reading.

Small things can have a big impact

I don’t know about anyone else, but I, personally, am an emotional wreck.

When something really small happens, it can have such a huge impact on me it’s ridiculous. Especially when it’s something that links to my key areas of insecurity..

A few days ago one of my teachers got really angry at me and another girl for a joke (evidently not a funny one) hiding under a desk, and as a result I was crying for hours. The bad thing is I’m not even exaggerating; it triggered suicidal thoughts, never eating again, self harm.. You get the picture. And for what? One teacher getting annoyed at me? Ridiculous right?

Well the truth is that one of my main issues is that all I want to do is make others happy, even if it is at the expense of myself. I’ve had a really hard time with friendships from the age of around 6, where I had a friend who wouldn’t let me join any clubs or talk to anyone else, and used to dig her nails into the back of my neck and arms. I couldn’t stand up to her so felt useless even from the age of 6. I was so young, I should have been enjoying myself but instead I was worrying about being a bad person.

Anyway, I digress. Essentially, if I upset someone it seems like the end of the world, because if that is the one thing that really matters to me and I can’t even get that right, then surely I can’t do anything right? And if I’m only making others miserable then I’m just being selfish being here. That’s what I think.

I don’t know who I am so I don’t know who to act. All I know is that I am deeply insecure and hate myself and all the mistakes I’ve made.. And I guess that’s why pleasing people is so important; because I know that’s something I care about, it is me, even when I’m not sure who ‘me’ is.

I apologise for the randomness of this post, I guess it was more me clearing my head more than anything else really.. But I decided to post it because I think it’s really important that people understand how others think.

If we understood each other better maybe we’d all be more open and confident in ourselves?

I don’t know, it’s a nice thought though.

Thanks for reading.

IMG_0489.PNG

Mental Health Awareness Day 2014

Today is Mental Health Awareness Day 2014. It is so, so important to raise awareness, because with awareness comes understanding. With more understanding maybe we’d all be better equity to combat these issues, and beat mental health illnesses once and for all.

Today I thought I’d do a post outlining some key areas people misunderstand about mental health illnesses, to help raise awareness of key misinterpretations and try to inform people what it’s really like.

I hope you find this post informative and helpful; please do like or comment below to let me know what you thought.

There is no such thing as ‘attention seeking’ when it comes to mental health. Surely if you’re ‘making a fuss’ and being ‘attention seeking’ there’s something wrong anyway? Most people in a stable mental state would not feel the need to do that, so instead of it being annoying and ridiculous, isn’t that a form of suffering in itself?

People don’t chose to suffer from mental illnesses, and it is no one’s ‘fault’ if they’re suffering from one. When I first got diagnosed (originally with anorexia nervosa, but later depression, anxiety and OCD), I couldn’t stop blaming myself for what had happened. “I have a wonderful family, and I’m not that unhappy at school. So why am I like this? I’m pathetic” sort of thing. As you can imagine, this only makes you feel worse and more depressed, which isn’t helping anyone.
The truth is, mental health illnesses can come about for a whole range of reasons, and it’s nobody’s fault; not the person suffering or anyone else’s.
No one would ever wish a mental illness upon themselves, so please never think that it is someone’s choice.

Mental health illnesses don’t discriminate against class, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else.
Mental state is individual to you, and even people with the same diagnosis could suffer from almost completely different issues.
E.g. Anorexia for some people is about the intense fear of food, which results in losing weight; whereas other’s is not about the food itself, but about your body and weight.
Therefore please be open minded, and don’t think “well she hasn’t done X or Y so it isn’t a problem or a mental health illness”. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that; mental health illnesses can be hard to categorise, but that does not mean that they aren’t an issue.

People who suffer with things such as anxiety are not ‘pathetic’. Imagine your worst fear, then imagine having to face it every single day, with everyone else going about their normal day to day business. It would be hard wouldn’t it? You’d want to give up. Well for many, that is how anxiety feels. Don’t be quick to judge others on their fears, they are all equally as real and valid as yours.

Lastly, mental health illnesses are really hard to combat and beat. I myself have been in recovery since May 2013, and over a year later I am still very much struggling and trying to overcome my demons. Yes, in some aspects I am better, but it many I am not. I have a long way to go and it’s going to take a while. Recovery isn’t a straight line, some days will be better than others, and some people take longer to recover than others. And that’s ok. The most important thing to bear in mind is that as long as the sufferer is trying their hardest, that is the most you could ever ask for. Please be patient with those struggling, and please, please don’t give up on them. When I was at my worst I have up on myself, and if it weren’t for others faith in me I might not be here today.

I hope this article was thought provoking and raises awareness.

Thanks for reading.