America here we come!!

With less than 4 hours before we leave for America I can hardly believe we’ve made it this far…. Never in the three years of us planning and cancelling this trip did I ever think we’d ever get this close to flying. Our holiday we dreamed of – Disney Orlando Florida.

From mums many cancer ops/ procedures, Natalie’s spinal surgery, my Grandads heart attack and to top it all off my eating disorder, it has been a tough few years for everyone. We’ve faced a lot together and that’s not been easy, many tears have been shed, hands held and fingers crossed…. we’ve laughed, cried, screamed and been left feeling empty.!

This holiday has been our motive, the light at the end, the goal or maybe even the beginning of better times? 

It’s finally here. 

I haven’t let myself feel the reality that yes THIS IS HAPPENING, I suppose I’ve blocked it out filling my time with anything but planning. I’ve avoided packing until made to and had minimal input in deciding how to spend our days.

I’m desperately trying to remain positive but still fear its going to be ripped from our grip… 

But my family are my anchor in rough waters – and maybe we weren’t supposed to have it easy. Maybe it was this way because we’re some of the rare few who can handle these tough times and still carry on regardless. Maybe rock bottom will be the foundations in which we rebuild our life. 

Maybe this will be the holiday of a lifetime…


1 Year Today

Today marks exactly 1 year since my admission onto the high dependency unit for Anorexia Nervosa.

I still remember my Mum getting the phone call that night. The phone call when she realised everything was not what I described as ‘fine’. The tears that flooded her eyes, drowning any kind of hope. A barrier of twisted lies Anorexia had weaved. ‘I’ve eaten…I’m not hungry…NO I haven’t lost weight’ She blamed herself…

“What kind of a Mum am I not to have realised my daughter is dying in front of me?”

I suppose its something you here about it, but never believe would ever happen to you.

Two days in hospital;  I watched my family and closest friends powerless to Anorexia’s force. My Nan crying at my bed physically shaking with fear whilst my nurses worried about me slipping away. My closest friends leaving the ward in tears, sent away to protect them from my distressed state.  I watched as though an outsider. It was no longer me.

I felt I was taking up a valuable bed. Undeserving of help. I screamed, shouted and locked myself in the bathroom till the door was broken down. I ran away from the ward, refused to make eye contact and at points just hid my face.

My family was separated by an untouched plate watching as I dug my grave with the knife and fork.

I am ever grateful to some of the staff on that ward who understood I just desperately needed help. At the time I didn’t always come across well, but it was my fear. I felt out of control and that was a scary aspect. I said and did things that never before in my life have I done. I wanted to push those that cared further away from me. I wanted them to give up, ‘I was a case not worth saving’.

Yes, I needed more intensive treatment than just two weeks in general but looking back I can’t change what happened. Recovering from an Eating Disorder to me means more than just eating… it means learning to cope without the thing that gives a false sense of control. It means learning how to feel again after numbing your emotions for so long, accepting how you feel and holding them feelings for a while without using unhealthy methods to distract yourself. It means facing whats really going on and remembering that too shall pass…

There’s a huge fear that recovery means letting go of the comfort zone the Eating Disorder once provided and forgiving ourselves and others, learning we are both worthy and deserving enough to heal. It’s about learning to accept who you are without your eating disorder.

I have been in recovery for a while now, but I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near fully recovered. I have times I want to give up fearing I’ve lost control but I suppose you have to continue to choose recovery at every meal time…

The comfort knowing tonight I can sleep in my own bed without a heart rate monitor bleeping all night long, being shaken constantly to make sure I’m still breathing whilst on 24 hour one to one. Not many understand what it’s like to be watched in the toilet with “high risk” of collapse, having to be held up by nurses and family too weak to walk.
Mentally I’m still struggling, not everything’s perfect and my family don’t always have it easy with me. I carry my Eating Disorder on my back daily, sometimes it weighs me down more than others but now I know no matter how tough it gets I have the support around me and the tools I need to fight it.

Recovery is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Dear Anorexia,

Dear Anorexia,
You came into my life and stole my happiness.

I guess you had been hiding in the shadows for a while, following me around, watching my every move. You crept up on me slowly stepping closer only when I was most vulnerable. I was convinced you where a friend.

Oh how I was wrong.

At first I noticed you at school sat at the back of the classroom. You noted every flaw. Natalies spinal surgery; you whispered advice. Mums cancer; you stood by my side. Grandads heart attack you took my hand. Everywhere I turned you where there always in the back of my mind.

Your voice grew louder as I grew older. You started commanding me to do things. STARVE, EXERCISE, PURGE. I followed your commands believing you would help. Every time I listened you gave me a sense of control. But then you snatched in from me and I realised I never had it all along. I became weaker as you grew stronger.

You stole those closes from me pushing them into the shadows. You took over my soul and stole my laughter. Family and friends became an inconvenience to you as I sat back helplessly frightened of your power. You starved my hope and purged my dreams.

Nothing was left.

The day came when I was constantly cold and plagued with fatigue. My hair began falling at my feet, as death blackened my sunken eyes. I was screaming for help but you never let them hear. You left them hurt, raw and crying at my hospital bed.

I was never good enough for you.

But now I’m stronger and things are different. You made me miss out on so much so now I’m fighting back. One day at a time I will fight your lies, releasing your grip. See, you have lied to me and I will never forgive or surrender to you.

From now on I am stronger.

No matter how many times I fall down, I will always pick myself up because I am no longer living a life with you. With living a synonym for barely existing in a world suffocated by the war you created, I am regaining my strength and continuing the battle.

I WILL live my life. I WILL follow my dreams and no matter what is thrown at me I WILL beat you.
It might take until my dying breath but this is a promise – you will never win…

Christmas Wishes…

Christmas, a time filled with family, friends, hope and laughter…I love the seasons undeniable beauty, with light brightening the streets, decorations filling the fireplace and of course the warmth of sitting by the fire with those I love.

But also as a sufferer of mental illness there is the added pressure associatiated with this special day. There is no “off switch” for Anorexia, Depression Anxiety or any other Mental Illness so just like any other day it is unpredictable how much it will effect you.

Recovering from an Eating Disorder at Christmas can be difficult but this year unlike the previous 10 years I’m going to try to not let food become the focus. Instead i will think about positives and be mindful to other activities that are important.

This applies to every one – that if you feel anxious or concerned around ANY situation in the day try not to let them become the negative focus. Sometimes it can be helpful to distract yourself from negative thoughts and in my experience I have found that taking a walk with a family member or friend helps to keep your mind of things, particularly if I’m feeling guilty or panicked. Some other alternatives some people have used is playing a board game, calling a friend or relative, listening to music or focusing on light conversation as positive alternatives.

It can be very easy to become completely enveloped during Christmas, which can magnify the inwards feeling your thoughts can give you and leave you feeling excluded from your surroundings. This year make sure you maintain contact with the outside world and don’t get too drawn into a vortex!

Fight your fears head on and have the magical Christmas you all deserve…

“The blessings of peace, the beauty of hope, the spirit of love, the comfort of faith… may this be your gifts this christmas”

Letter to my old Inpatient…

Dear all you Huntercombers,

Just when you thought you’d got rid of me, here I am again giving you my 3 week update and sending my Staff cards yeh, sorry about the delay I’m to busy doing what you all told me to do and “enjoying my life!”

Yes that’s right you heard it, I am finally ENJOYING things again!!!

I have done things recently that if you asked me at the start of my admission I would never have believed would be possible….I’ve been…

  • Clothes Shopping which I find difficult but it’s getting easier
  • Friends birthday BBQ – yes a social event where I had to eat unplanned food…my previous worst nightmare but I actually loved every minute of it
  • Strawberry picking – obvs took some cute pics
  • Cycling with my Uncle
  • Sleep over – for the first time in like 5 years because before I would be too anxious
  • Rowed a peddle boat on a lake – nearly got attacked by a swan trying to get on the boat, but I survived
  • Day trip to Brighton – which was absolutely fab
  • Swimming
  • Day out in Cambridge – with my Grandparents and Sister
  • Coffee and cake, like all the time because, well why not?
  • London Dungeons – I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much in my life
  • Running
  • I have attended a recovery group local to me which has been great fun. I have met new people, scrapbooked. And also someone, who runs a campaign to stop mental health stigma, came and taught us how to do pyrography (burning patterns into wood)
  • My blog about recovery from anorexia which I started a month ago has reached 5500 views, had over 300 replies, a Eating Disorder charity shared it on their page and I just really enjoy expressing my experience to try help others.

And right now I am currently chilling in my tent on my first ever camping trip which is exciting stuff! I am with my sister and our 2 best friends and we have had quite the adventure… we had to start a fire without matches or a lighter because some idiots forgot about packing that. I guided everyone 2 miles in the wrong direction to the restaurant before realising it was 5 miles the other way. We eventually got to the resturant 4 hours later after trekking in 30 degree heat across fields in flip flops, through stinging nettles and jumping fences….. BUT WE MADE IT, RIGHT?!

WRONG – the restaurant was shut (I wonder who’s poor planning that was??)

…. So after a quick phone call to my Mummy Spice she came and rescued us and took us somewhere else 😀 The food we eventually got was lush so I won’t complain too much. Also don’t worry I made up for the extra walk with some tasty pancakes, bacon, eggs and syrup – yum!!

See just from this little story you can see “no matter what route life takes you, you can still reach the same destination!” (sneaky quote of the day ;D )

Note to patients:

Recovery won’t always be perfect… it’s not perfect for me…. I have days where it’s difficult and times I feel like giving up, but honestly I am so glad I’ve stuck with it through all the tough times because although it’s hard, it is well and truly worth the struggle!

I remember my first days in hospital crying over everything with no motivation to recover. I felt like the whole world was against me, including myself and it was awful! I wanted nothing more but too crawl back under my rock and hide away from the world…. I didn’t … because apparently that was “not an option”

So slowly I began to get to grips with the whole recovery business, taking a few steps forward and ten steps, back but only now can I really appreciate the help from all the staff pointing me in the right direction and encouragement from everyone else.

It’s amazing really how all them things the staff said that I NEVER believed – are actually coming true…I am finally getting my life back, going out and socialising, eating ice-cream and of course causing mayhem (which will come as a shock to all of you)!!!

I am off on holiday to Zante next week with my family – which although is not the 3 week holiday in America we previously planned… I still have that to look forward too next year! And ANOREXIA WON’T STOP ME THIS TIME!!!

Hugs and positive thoughts coming your way ❤

(AKA – Sassy Spice)

PS: Whatever stage of recovery you are at…whether you are a new admission reluctant to comply or a long standing patient desperate to leave…don’t confuse your path with the destination. Just because it’s stormy now doesn’t mean you’re not heading for sunshine!