Thursday, 16 March 2017

Commenting on Others' Food

TW: Eating disorders

So I hadn't exactly planned on writing this post, nor does it have any real purpose to it (other than to vent my frustration over a comment I came across on social media this morning...petty, I know). The comment had absolutely nothing to do with me and wasn't aimed at anybody I know particularly well. Nevertheless, it irritated me.

To sum up; somebody had posted a picture of their dinner (I'm not exactly sure why but whatever floats your boat, right?) and in response to said picture, there was a comment along the lines of 'you're going to eat all that?!!'. Now, I'm no expert when it comes to social interaction but what I assume they meant by this was that they thought it was too much food for this girl to be eating.

The majority of people probably wouldn't think twice about this comment, but to me it seemed so unnecessary and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I just don't understand how somebody can make a judgement on the amount of food somebody else should be eating from one picture posted on social media. Not only that, but to then actually comment on it, on a public platform for everybody to see?

They have no idea how the girl who posted the picture might interpret their comment, or whether there is a reason she may need to eat a higher intake of food than your 'average' person. Perhaps she is recovering from a restrictive eating disorder and therefore requires a high energy intake so that her body can repair itself and function properly again? In that situation, such a comment could be detrimental to her recovery.

All I'm saying is that you can't possibly know why somebody may need to do certain things 'differently' to what you consider acceptable. We are all unique, we all have our own bodies that work differently from each other and require different amounts of food. A number of things can alter the level of energy intake that our bodies need - from illness to how active we are throughout the day.

I'm aware that I'm taking this completely out of proportion but that's because as an anorexia sufferer, I know the damage this kind of comment can have. Food is a very sensitive subject for me and if somebody was to imply that I was eating too much during my recovery, it would cause me tremendous amounts of guilt, shame and disgust in myself - to the point where I would feel the need to restrict again.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Time Away from University

I mentioned in my previous post that I was currently experiencing what I can only call a relapse of my mental health issues (although, does it count as a relapse if you've never really recovered?). I'm particularly struggling with my anorexia (it still feels odd to say that I suffer from anorexia) and this has caused my health to decline pretty rapidly over the last month or so.

I also mentioned in my last post that I was facing somewhat of a dilemma as to whether or not to return to uni after spending a few days at home and realising just how bad things had become. To sum up: I did go back for one week, where I attended appointments with various medical professionals. They suggested that it may be best for me to take some time out of university to focus on regaining my strength. 

At first, this felt like a pretty big deal. What about my accommodation that I am paying a bucketload for? Will I keep owing money until the end of my first year, even though I'm not living there any more? What about my degree? Can I continue with my studies even though I won't be attending lectures? What about my friends? Will they forget about me because I'll be too far away and won't see them for months? 

Despite these anxieties, I knew deep down that I wasn't well and urgently needed to take a break to focus on my health - so that's what I did. I moved back home last weekend and don't intend on living away again until the beginning of my second year (around late August/early September). I'll still be studying for my course as normal, but I live too far from my university to commute and therefore will have to access the lectures online and self study.

I don't quite know how the next few months will pan out. What I do know, though, is that I'm fed up of being too exhausted to socialise with friends. I'm fed up of feeling light-headed every time I do something that exerts the tiniest amount of energy. I'm fed up of being so spaced out that I can't focus on anything for any considerable length of time. No longer do I want to deal with dry, cracked skin, purple nails, weak muscles and chest pains every day.

I'm viewing this time away from university as a chance to properly attempt recovery. Things have been very up and down with regards to my mental health throughout the past few years, but I've never reached a place where I can say I'm content with myself and my health. I want this to be the turning point where I can say things finally started to change for the better.


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Life Update: Relapse

TW: Eating disorders

These last few weeks at university have been tough for me (as you may be able to tell from my more recent posts, such as this one and this one). My mood has been low, my anxiety has been through the roof and I've been helplessly losing the battle against my eating disorder. I'm not afraid to admit that I've been struggling a little more than usual lately but to be quite honest, I'm at a loss with what to do next.

I desperately needed to get away and so I arranged to go home for half a week. Only once I was home did I realise how bad I'd actually let things slip. My weight has only been this low once before: when I was at my most unwell with anorexia. I failed to realise that things had become so severe once again because, at university, there is no way of consistently keeping track of my physical health.

It's not like before when I was constantly monitored by CAMHS and the GP - when I'm away it's simply a case of trying to manage things by myself whilst I wait for adult mental health services to finally get around to seeing me. For a while, I was half-functioning and doing just about enough to get by, but more recently things have become too much for me to handle alone.

Tomorrow morning I'm supposed to be returning to uni and I'm dreading it. When I'm alone at night and I start to get chest pains, it scares me. I live in constant fear that my body is giving up on me and I won't have anybody around to help me. Of course, it may just be anxiety causing me these symptoms but either way, it's a horrible thing to go through alone.

I'm lucky enough when I'm at home to have my Mum supporting me as much as she possibly can and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to cope without this now. However, the adult eating disorder service back at uni have decided they can see me and this week I'm supposed to be having two appointments with them - one with a dietician whose input I could really do with.

So that leaves me in a dilemma. Do I stay at home and put my health first, bearing in mind that appointments can be rearranged? Or do I force myself to go back, even though I'm physically rather unwell?

If the decision was mine, I would spend more time at home trying to rest and rebuild my strength somewhat, as risking my physical health seems more detrimental right now than rearranging a few appointments. However, I also have my parent's input to consider, who are quite adamant that I should go back even if it's just to attend the appointments.

I could really use some advice from an objective viewpoint, so if you have any thoughts or solutions that I haven't yet thought of, don't be afraid to talk to me (please, I beg you!).

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Getting Active for Uni Mental Health Day!

Today (2nd March 2017) is uni mental health day and, being a university student who experiences mental health difficulties herself, I wanted to contribute to this day in any way that I could. So it's safe to say that I feel a bit ashamed to admit that I won't even be at university to help out with today's events as, due to my mental health, I've had to go home for a few days.

However, it got me thinking about other ways in which I could help to spread awareness of this very pressing and personal issue, with writing a post for my blog being the obvious answer. I then proceeded to brainstorm ideas...

I considered publishing a post on how university life does in fact get easier after the first term, but in these last few weeks I feel like I've hit an all time low and therefore couldn't possibly write that post with much conviction. 

I then went on to consider the theme of today's uni mental health day: active mental health. 

At first, I didn't feel like I could really delve into this topic very much (struggling now more than ever with anorexia, being active is probably the last thing I should be doing). However, I then realised that 'being active' doesn't have to mean kitting up to run a marathon - it can be much more inclusive than that. 

Therefore, I resolved to write about the ways in which we can define 'active mental health', and the wide-ranging connotations this can have (especially for those of us who, for whatever reason, strenuous exercise is not in our best interests). 

Getting out of the house

Being active can include something as small as getting out of bed and stepping foot outside the front door. I say 'small', yet for some of us, this can seem like a monumental task. On days where I am particularly struggling, even spending ten minutes out of the house can be a great achievement. So if you've managed to get out today, even for a seemingly insignificant amount of time, well done to you - you deserve to recognise that for the achievement that it truly is.

Light activity

If you feel up to it, light activity can also be beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Don't worry, I'm not going turn into one of those people who insist that if only you take up yoga and running, your depression will magically be cured (urgh, one of those people). However, I can't deny that I do feel slightly more composed after some gentle exercise or a short walk in the fresh air.

Reading, writing, drawing etc.

Why does 'being active' have to exclusively mean moving our body? Why can't 'being active' also mean focusing our minds? It can! (In my opinion, anyway).

Endless possibilities...

For me, being active for your mental health encompasses any steps you take to positively impact your mental wellbeing. That may mean pushing yourself to get out of bed, taking medication, speaking with a friend, watching a feel-good movie, listening to music, immersing yourself in a good book, painting a masterpiece or going on a run (if you have the energy of which case, please tell me your secret).

How are you being active for your mental health today?

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

#EDAW2017: Before & After Photos

This week (27th Feb - 5th March) is Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Having struggled with an eating disorder for little over a year and a half now, this topic is a very personal one to me. Therefore, I would like to discuss it further in today's 'Topical Tuesday'.

I began developing an eating disorder at the age of seventeen, in the midst of studying for my A-level exams and applying to university. At the time, I was inundated with feelings of inferiority and anxiety - restricting food and losing weight became a coping mechanism for this. All the while, I failed to realise the damage it was having on me, both physically and psychologically.

Now nineteen, I've been unable to pull myself out of this dangerous mind set of using food as a way of gaining (a sense of) control over my life, my thoughts and my feelings. I moved out of my home to study at university despite my eating disorder, but every day feels like an uphill battle. Most days I struggle to attend lectures, let alone find the energy to have a social life on top of this.

I desperately want to be healthy again and actually start enjoying university life, but I'm afraid it's not that straight-forward. There are many hurdles during recovery, some of which are harder to jump than others. I personally find that the media has a very negative influence on my eating disorder, along with it's obsession with diet culture and the quest for the 'perfect body'.

And that brings me on to today's topic. When reading people's success stories on how they overcame their eating disorder and went on to live a happy & healthy life, I often come across the dreaded 'before and after' photos. Whilst I'm sure these are posted with good intentions, it often leaves me wondering whether or not it is really necessary.

Of course, I am all for people celebrating their achievements when it comes to recovery from mental illness, but is posting a photo of yourself at a dangerously low weight absolutely essential in highlighting this victory?

Eating disorders can be very competitive in nature. Sufferers may feel as though they have to look 'ill enough' in order for their emotional struggle to be taken seriously and in my opinion, these photos can fuel this harmful mind set even more. They provide a point of comparison for those who are still struggling to measure themselves against (I know I certainly do this).

An individual's physical condition is not a reflection of the severity of their emotional struggle. Just because somebody looks more ill from the outside (i.e. a lower weight) does not mean they are automatically more mentally ill than somebody who looks perfectly healthy.

To reiterate: I believe that everybody has the right to be proud of their recovery, I'm just not so sure what purpose a 'before and after' photo serves in this. How far you've come in your recovery is a very personal matter to you. Only you know the full extent of what you've been through emotionally - do you really need a picture to validate this?

I'd be interested to hear other people's opinions on this so please, leave a comment detailing your thoughts!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Accepting Your Illness

I think a really important and maybe even the first step towards recovery is accepting that you have an illness. After all, how are you supposed to recover from something that you don't fully believe you have?

I ask this because it's a thought process I struggle with a lot when it comes to my eating disorder. I've spent over a year in this kind of limbo where I am just about functioning, but not actually getting any better when it comes to my eating habits or health. I've never made much progress towards fully recovering since I first started suffering from an eating disorder at the age of 17.

Perhaps a big contributor to this is the fact that I don't fully accept my illness - I kind of deny that I have an eating disorder at all. In my head, I don't fit the 'description' of somebody with an eating disorder and therefore convince myself that I'm actually fine and don't have anything to recover from. I've been officially diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and yet to me, I am so far from anorexic. At first, I couldn't even imagine applying that label to myself.

When I'm struggling to walk up the stairs without getting out of breath? I'm fine. When I wake up after 12 hours of sleep and still feel exhausted? I'm fine. When I barely have the energy to make it to lectures, let alone socialise with my uni friends? I'm fine. I'm fine, I'm fine, I'M FINE!

And yet, I've come to realise that no matter how ill I get, I'll always deny that I have a problem. I could keep losing weight and chances are, I'll never see myself as anorexic. So surely the better thing to do would be to listen to the professionals, the ones who see this kind of thing every day, and accept that maybe (just maybe) I have an eating disorder. Rather than putting so much energy into denying this fact, I should be putting that energy into focusing on recovery.


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

I Accept Defeat

TW: Eating disorders

It's Wednesday morning. I must have at least had 10 hours sleep last night. But still, I'm exhausted.

My day hasn't even started and yet I can't summon the energy to tick even one task off my to-do list. The mere idea of walking into town and having to clean my flat only adds to this feeling of exhaustion.

I'm not ignorant to the cause, though. I've been resorting back to old coping techniques (I say old, they never really went away) of using food (or lack of) as a crutch. A way of controlling the world around me when that world feels just too much.

I'm a perfectionist. I'm competitive. I'm determined. Seemingly good attributes, but potentially harmful if focused on a bad end goal. Everything I do needs to be as good as it can be. I need to be the best.

But I can't do it any longer. I give in. I accept defeat.

Trying to control absolutely everything is an impossible task and I'm tired of trying. Trying to keep on top of the basic things in life (cleaning, food shopping, uni work) seem unattainable when I have no food to fuel my body.

I want to be this amazing person who can be the best at everything, whilst eating the least. As if this makes me more successful or admirable than others. But the further down that path I go, the more unrealistic this goal becomes.

Because the reality is, humans need food to live. Humans need food to function. And I need to accept that I am no exception to this rule, and that in not eating, I am not any better than anyone else.

When we compete, there's usually a prize for being the best. But what's the prize for being the best at restricting food? Illness? Hospitals? Death? Surely, that's not a prize worth having.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig