Why not to Post transformation Pictures during Eating Disorder awareness week!

Next week is EDAW: Eating Disorder Awareness week (27th February -5th March) with this year’s theme being Early Intervention. During this week I am going to be involved with a talk in my local CAMHS to parents and those personally affected by Eating Disorders. I am very happy to be involved in this.

EDAW is recognised on an international scale, with the aim to break the stigma, fight the misconceptions and let people know they don’t have to suffer alone. However, it is also where more misconceptions can be made. A quick search of #EDAW brings up a news feed filled with pictures of malnourished bodies, NG tubes, transformations and numbers (weight, BMI, calories)

As much as I appreciate when this is to show a positive improvement of how far someone has come – it fuels the illness itself. See, although sufferers do not always like to admit, eating disorders are very competitive. It sounds strange when you think about it but naturally with a distorted view and disordered thoughts the illness wants you to become as sick as possible. When unwell people will look at these photos believing they don’t look like that – bringing about the belief they are not sick  enough to recover.

I think the hardest thing with an Eating Disorder is you will never reach its strict criteria; you could be in hospital on the verge of death but still this is not good enough for your ED. So before this week begins, I wanted to enforce that – there is no “sickest” because each eating disorder is equally as harmful and no matter the physical state of someone the sickness is in the mind. you cannot always tell just by a glance.

Instead during this week people should speak about how their ED affected daily life, the opportunities it stole, the out of control feeling or the fact food was nothing more than painful numbers.

Recovery for me is much  more than eating and weight gain, its the mental recovery which takes longer. Don’t wait to see physical evidence of a mental problem, because usually that’s too late…

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Letter to Inpatient – 1 year on

Dear all you Huntercombers,
It’s been awhile since I wrote a letter and thought I’d give you all a little update of what’s going on in ‘The Life of Kirsty Spicer’.

So it’s nearly 1 WHOLE YEAR since arriving at the delightful Cotswold Spa Hospital and as lovely as you all are I am happy to say I am not planning to be staying the night there anytime soon. Looking back (although obviously moving forward ;D ) it still makes me giggle some of the funny antics we all got up to…

Since Discharge things have been going well. I have learnt that set backs just make me stronger and a bad morning does not mean a bad day/ week/ life. I have discovered what helps me in recovery and have been transitioned from CAMHS to Adult Eating Disorder services and CMHT.

So what have I been up to?
Well I have been back to sixth form full-time studying AS Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Extended Project Qualification (as extra). It’s going well and unlike my attendance last year I am currently at 100%.

Also, since I have always found lunch times difficult at school, I now act as a mentor for those who find it hard on the playground. They all struggle with different things like Aspergers, ADHD, Anxiety etc so it can be really rewarding when you see you have helped make their school experience easier.

With my aim still to working in the medical field I have had a week’s work experience in the Cardiology department at my local hospital where I witnessed open heart surgery, an operation where someone had to have an electric impulse put through their body to get the heart back into rhythm and was involved in clinics and ward rounds. Also whilst visiting I went back to the children’s ward I was on before going to Cotswold Spa and spoke to some of the nurses who treated me – they seemed to remember me very well (I wonder why it’s not like I caused trouble or anything?)

I have carried on writing my blog “Embracing Authenticity” which has really benefitted my recovery. I find that by having somewhere that I need to remain positive gives me a reason to keep going. It follows my journey and raises much-needed awareness for mental health. It is now featured on the NHS East London foundation, Anna Freud Centre and many other charities websites/ pages. (Gone are the days I aimed for it reaching only a few people. I’m now up to 17,000+ views worldwide and counting)

I am on the ELFT NHS service user panel helping to employ staff for my local CAMHS. It’s really enjoyable and I have helped employ a school worker, psychologist etc… I have to admit I am very picky and they have to live up to the standards of all the amazing staff at Cotswold Spa!!

My social life is buzzing. I have gone from staying at home too anxious to see even my closest friends to now having so many different friendship circles and always being somewhere. I celebrated my 18th birthday last year with my own party ( that’s some contrast), I have brought my own little red car (named: Roxy Red Spice) after passing my test first time and am driving 200 miles to visit Danni and her foster family in Glastonbury next week! I am SO SO EXCITED and we will be sure to cause mischief!

I went on holiday to paris a few weeks ago, which was FABULOUS. I am looking forward to my 3 week trip to America this summer which unlike last year will not be cancelled due to Anorexia trying to ruin my life.

Oh and did I mention I’m basically famous. I was one of the 5 people in the country to have an animated film made around my mental health. I have been up to the London Recording studio’s (surreal time) and it is being produced by a film company ‘mosaic films’. Once complete the film will be screened on the BBC website and on YouTube where they will be used in schools to support PSHE work with young people around mental health. The films will also be made available to charities/ NGOs to embed within their own websites, supporting outreach/awareness raising/and anti-discrimination/ stigma work. As well as that the film may be used in teacher training capacity.

Thank you so much for helping me achieve all these things! And as cheesy as it sounds you have helped turn my life around. I hope you’re all proud of how far I have come and I am now out to prove to you, myself and others the thing you all told me during meal support “life will get better”

I’ll give you all a shout out when I receive my BAFTA!;)

Kirsty x

Little Note to patients;

You have made it this far, and that is something you should be proud of. It is important that you remember that recovering from anorexia takes a lot of dedicated hard work. Recovery is possible and it’s a life worth living.

The journey will be full of both good days and bad days. It’s not necessarily a straight route but it is still moving forward. Some days you might feel hopeless and trapped in the conflicting thoughts. My top advice to cope with this; NEVER give up! Days like that are when you need to fight even harder. Show Ana who’s boss because it cannot, will not define you.

You have a life worth saving. So believe in yourself, trust the staff and believe that you can recover. There is a beautiful life waiting for you beyond Cotswold Spa and I cannot wait for you to find it!!

Now go kick ANA’s ASS!

“They can’t be depressed they smile, laugh and seem to have life all planned out”

“They can’t be depressed they smile, laugh and seem to have life all planned out” – Or so it may seem.
Depression, it’s the source of much contradiction and a topic I have shyly avoided revealing. So here I go…

I HAVE DEPRESSION

“But how can you be depressed?” they’d ask. I imagine the words stabbing me in the chest. I suppose the question is valid – I seem to have confidence, I smile and am surrounded by so many people who love and care about me.

What more could anyone want?

It’s like you can’t possibly be sad, unless your life is basically falling apart at your fingertips. But strangely enough that’s not how depression works.

See, I felt ashamed of the way I felt with even just the word ‘depression’ giving me an uncomfortable feeling. It was like I had a life out there ready to enjoy but it was no longer in my reach.

A chemical imbalance that alters your emotions leaving you drowning and believing you’re a burden to everyone around. It feels like you’re the sink of all happiness, drowning all hope. The things that could normally be brushed off now tear chunks out of your sanity..

With depression I always imagined someone miserable who would lay in bed and cry all day. But thats NOT ALWAYS the case. For me it’s hit differently every time, a feeling so numb that even tears where to much to feel, a smile painted perfect, till alone washed away…

I’ve learnt from myself Depression has so many different faces and forms and what’s on the surface is not always so. It could affect one of your closest friends or the man round the local shop.

Depression DOES NOT discriminate.

Yes at times all you can do at the end of a long day is lie down and shut your eyes. But ground yourself – notice your heart, it’s still beating, still fighting. You made it to here and that’s what matters right now. You have a 100% track record of surviving even the worst day’s which shows the strength to overcome.