Dream Big: DISNEY

They call it the happiest place on earth, a place where dreams come true no matter who you are or how old… 

Disney World

This last week I have spent at Disney has certainly created some magical memories. Up at the crack of dawn and super excited to explore the park – I didn’t know what to expect. 

For once in my life I’m speechless, no words can sum up the experience I’ve had here. A place where my inner child has been set free, where I am able to dance around the park, sing in my loudest voice (poorly I should add but…) with no worries in the world. 

I have finally felt able to appreciate how hard I’ve worked on balancing my mood and how I am able to enjoy my surroundings without the worry of my next “low”.

I think for so long I feared this holiday, I feared depression drowning the excitement so much that I never even appreciated the opportunity of going.  

But the reality of months waiting to get an appointment felt so distant in these moments. So distant that for the first time in months my family and I have had the chance to take a much needed break.

I think it is so important to get both your surroundings as well as yourself into a positive state, be with those you feel comfortable with no fear of criticism. For me this has been key to discovering myself and also realising that everybody has their own struggles.

So to all other dreamers out there, don’t ever stop to let the world’s negativity or your current situation dishearten your spirit. Work hard, dream BIG! 

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As if I won Elft’s NHS Young Person of the Year!!! 

I still cannot believe what’s happened to me this week. Not only did I have the pleasure of going to London for the Elft NHS participation awards but I actually won my category – Young Person of the Year!

For someone who masks low self esteem and confidence daily, never in a million years would I have ever believed I would be standing in front of all those people accepting an award. 

Shocked and so overwhelmed

I am an advocate for Mental Health for no other reason than to help not only people struggling but to also bring better understanding to families, friends and the wider community to help ‘Break the STIGMA’. So to win an award for doing something I love is just so unbelievable.

People should be free to feel emotion and speak proudly about it. I want people to feel comfortable enough to express their truth, to let their walls down and actually live a little. 

I have spent my whole life trying to be someone else because I cannot stand the feeling of my own skin. I have treated myself in ways that I would never treat anyone else – judging every part of my personality.

I have never learned how to feel or process emotions. The way I’ve moved through my feelings is to never let them surface in the first place, replacing them with my eating disorder and other unhealthy coping strategies.

But moments like this outshine some of my darkest days.  Moments that keep me going, reminding me theres always something to look forward to, moments when I’m distracted and at peace, moments spent with amazing people…

Thank you to everyone making this possible. I have been given so many opportunities to meet and work with some incredibly life changing people. I have made so many new friends, spoke to hundreds of people and built my confidence to try new things. I feel deeply honored to receive this Award.

Thank you 

Exams – my own interpretations of impossible…

I did it!! I completed my AS levels and today sat my final Maths exam. Yes it didn’t go great but I’ve never walked in or out of that exam room any different – something I must learn to accept in order to move on.

 
 Regardless of how terrible I thought it may have went, the tears that came with it – I’ve achieved my biggest goal of this year “to complete my AS levels and sit all my exams”
It has finally sunk in, I’ve done what I didn’t manage last year, I’ve completed my goal and every single day despite of how hard it’s been I have got myself into school. 

And yes I will say (a rarity)… I AM SO PROUD OF ME 

SO many of us, myself included, go into exams knowing what they want to get…for some this may be high expectations and others just not to fail. 

There is a huge tendency to focus on the worse case scenario and what we DON’T want, and do you know what happens when we do this?

We continue to get the same thing, we continue to be stuck in the same vicious cycle over and over and over again…

What we focus on expands, replaying like a broken record over and over “I want to pass, I’m going to fail, I need an C, B or even an A”. 

What starts as an aim becomes an obsession that actually ends up a detriment of our study. We focus on something, we just keep attracting and creating the very thing that we don’t want in our lives… 

I’m guilty. I’ve psyched my self up for this date – the 7th of June – my final exam but unlike most who are happy it’s over I’ve dwelled on it like it’s the key to my life, happiness and possibility of any future.

I have worn myself down with emotions, nerves and fear and successfully made myself so unwell that I’m writing this from the bed I’ve crashed in with exhaustion. 

Unfortunately I’ve let the pressure effect me tremendously and now I’m sat here wondering was it really worth making myself unwell. Why didn’t I believe that yes it’s just a Wednesday. That fundamentally no exam can change the person I’ve become, no date any more or less significant. No grade can erase my current achievements or even change what those around me think.

I have learnt a valuable lesson that I hope will never affect me again.  I have achieved my own interpretation of Impossible just by sitting in that exam room today.  I hope you realise something too, for as long as you are alive it is always possible…

Take care lovelies ☺️

International Peace Day -“Blowing out someone else’s candle will NOT make yours shine brighter”

So this post is a bit different from my usual topics but I chose today to address the subject of “peace” as the 21st of September marks the international day of peace. The day was established by the United Nations and in 2001 the general assembly voted that on this day it would be a period non-violence and ceasefire. Instead of focusing on some of the bigger issues such as war, government and religious conflicts I have chosen to focus on some of the daily problems that go on in modern-day society…

Nowadays I would say there is a lot more equality around issues such as religion, sexuality, disability, mental health etc… but this does not mean everything is perfect because people daily experience direct attacks regarding what they believe or who they are. People of all ages are called names, laughed at, victimized and even bullied due to their individuality.

This is in no way right.

Not only can words be hurtful in the moment but they can also create a long-term impact on people’s lives. I personally have seen how comments can single-handedly destroy a person’s self-esteem, self-worth and send them into a downward path of self-destruction. It’s not nice and for what some of the people involved see as funny at the time, never seem to consider the damage they can be doing.

In the last year alone I can think of multiple events which have contributed to the worsening of my own mental health…. For example: When I first became ill someone who I thought was a close friend began to reject me from my friendship group, excluded me from any events they organised and ignored me when I tried to be apart of the group.

I tried my hardest to strengthen our friendship but the more I tried the more hurt I became. As someone already suffering from poor mental health, these events led me to completely withdraw from socializing, become anxious around the school environment and at the time I thought I was the direct problem – which contributed to my self-destruction.

It wasn’t a pretty time of my school life, but in no way do I blame the individual for what has happened to me over the last year. Yes, I still don’t understand how someone could do or say such hurtful things but at the same time I don’t believe they understood how much words can hurt a person who is already struggling.  

What happened to me no longer has any significance in my life but I have learnt something from the person’s mistakes which I now follow with the aim of preventing a similar situation happening to anyone else, as “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you could know nothing about, so we should always be kind, always!”

The only emotion I now feel over what happened is an anger that someone could be so hurtful to my previous self, but instead of causing any conflict I have decided to channel this emotion into preventing similar events happening to others by writing this post and following my own advice…

I feel sorry that a person could spread hurtful comments about someone who was fighting for their life in hospital and I feel sad for the same person who clearly has underlying issues that they haven’t been addressed properly…

“Blowing out someone else’s candle will NOT make yours shine brighter”

For anyone out their directly involved in creating conflict, please stop before you say or do something to someone because you don’t know what they might be going through and the impact it could have on their life. Think to yourself “would I want the same to happen to me?”,” is there a better way to solve the issue?” and even “what is going on personally that could be triggering you to feel this way towards someone else?”.

If you are a victim of hurtful comments, actions or even bullying remember there is always someone out there to help…whether it be a teacher, parent, carer, friend or even an online support group/help line. Just keep in mind “some people won’t be happy until they have pushed you into the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your courage and never give it away because those who are true friends stick around and are there not only when they need you, but when you need them!”

Things can get better, they have for me, I am now so much more confident at school back socialising more than ever, I have many different circles of friends and have people in my life so much valuable than ever before.

I no longer feel like what people say to me has as big effect on the way I feel about myself because I am now a lot stronger person…. From this day forward I will only choose to listen to the positive comments I get, as those are the ones coming from the people who are actually important in my life…

Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes – even you…

The art of relaxation… a chance for your body to recharge, recover and revitalise. With many appreciating the time spent sprawled across the sofa, watching a film or enjoying a bubble bath. It is important that we all have this opportunity to just “let go” and forget all that is going on around us.

But it can be hard or even a rare occasion for many as they cannot seem to find any time in their hectic schedule. I understand that many are constantly on the go, busy, under pressure or have many responsibilities… However, I still think we use the excuse far too often!

Everyone has time to fit in at least a couple of minutes to put down the phone, shut their eyes and switch off from the world.Yes, switch off…that thing we all find a struggle to do – me included.

Personally I find it hard to relax, not because I don’t have the time but more because I don’t allow myself too. Unfortunately the compulsion to keep constantly moving and on the go has come as part of my Anorexia. This means that any moments I find myself beginning to relax I am filled with a nagging voice telling me I’m either to lazy or don’t deserve to rest.

This can be difficult when both physically and mentally exhausted and something I am trying to address as a part of my recovery. Whilst an inpatient I had relaxation classes which were scheduled into our weekly time-table. I found these sessions very beneficial and although it was sometimes difficult due to the guilt, I knew it was something I had to do…

Since returning to “normal life” I have not had this dedicated time slot to relax and if I am honest I have not been consistently allowing myself too. The last week I have spent on holiday in Zakythnos, although initially being overwhelmed with guilt, I am beginning to remember just how important it is and am ready to re-introduce it when I return home…

Many of you will be wondering why something most people really love, I manage to find so hard. Well if I’m honest I don’t know the exact reason behind it either? But what I do know is that any moment I do end up trying to switch off my thoughts can become unmanageable and like those with a stressful job this is the time when everything seems to rush to the front of our minds.

I have learnt some techniques to successfully switch off when I feel panicky or overwhelmed and have found this also helps with the aim of “switching off.”

  • Move into a safe or calming environment – being surrounded by a place of safety will automatically make you feel calmer
  • Be aware of sounds, smells and the feel of things around you – noticing small thing’s like the rustling of trees in the wind or even the clock ticking can give you a distraction
  • Lastly, I was advised to focus on my breathing – firstly because slowing down each breath helps your body relax and also they reverse the effects of adrenaline.

“If you neglect to charge a battery, it dies. And if you run full speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race” So make it a priority of yours to schedule in some time to relax because although it may feel an inconvenience, in the long run you will really appreciate it!!

But when is the right time for Recovery?

Anorexia is unlike any other illness, it makes you believe you want to be ill. Yes, it sounds strange but Anorexia tricks you into thinking that the lower your number and the sicker you get the better life will be.

It won’t.

There is no magical number or life changing day and something that my nurse has said to me on many occasions “never in all my years have i met a happy anorexic…”

Its sad but true.

Even, when I laid in my hospital bed a few months ago with the doctors telling me I could slip away in the night. It never hit me that I was actually days off death. “I’m fine” I told them, convinced I wasn’t like the “other Anorexics” who where actually ill. I felt not sick enough to deserve the treatment and not thin enough to deserve the diagnosis.

Having spoken to someone the other day who also went into hospital a few years ago, I found comfort when hearing that she also felt the same. We discussed how we felt that we where not worthy of recovery at the time because we thought we weren’t “that bad”, and how looking at our dropping heart rate didn’t help us see the severity either. I think that’s the hardest thing with this illness is that you become in-denial to what damage you are doing to yourself – your literally blinded from reality.  

So when is the right time for recovery?

This is an easy question for me to answer now but back then was a little harder.

“I believe it is always the right time to recover”

You do not have to be underweight, in hospital and incapable of walking before you recover, because believe me when you get there it will still not feel like the right time. I never had to be fed by an NG tube, does that mean I was not ill enough to recover?

No it certainly does not!

If someone has the diagnosis of Bulimia or EDNOS does this mean they are less worthy of help?

NO they equally struggle just as much!

We don’t compare physical illnesses in this way so why should we mental? You wouldn’t say to someone suffering from breast cancer “you aren’t ill enough as the lady over there dying of terminal cancer to get help”. They should both get the access to the right treatment to help them to have the best possible chance. But why still are people turned away from Doctors not being taken seriously. People no matter what they are sufferring should not have to wait until they’re on deaths door before getting help. It’s just not right!

Only a few years ago i was battling an eating disorder but because I was not underweight at the time I felt that I couldn’t possibly have a problem and people wouldn’t take me seriously. Well I was wrong! If only I had dealt with the issues then it could have prevented my recent admission.

I was still as mentally ill back then, yes not quite as physically but after all Anorexia is a MENTAL illness! And just because I didn’t look physically unwell didn’t mean I wasn’t struggling just as much as at my lowest weight.

Looking back I can’t change what happened to me but if anyone else is struggling at the moment you will never find the right time to recover. Dont waste your day’s saying “when i am sick enough then I’ll recover”, because honestly until your 10 feet under Anorexia will never be happy. Its harsh but true but….you can be happy without Anorexia!
I’ m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying its worth it!!

Anorexia is not welcome on this holiday!

 

So in less than a week I will be on holiday in Zante, with my Mum, Dad and Sister.

For the last few years due to poor health we have not been away as a family. My sister had a Scoliosis operation to straighten her spine which had curved to 60-70 degrees. We spent that summer caring for her, teaching her to walk again and visiting the Royal Orthopedic Stanmore Hospital. My mum later got diagnosed with Cancer (Malignant Melanoma) so had an operation at the Royal Free London to remove some of her lymph nodes and 9 procedures following that. My Nanna also then got diagnosed with the same cancer and to top it all off my Granddad had a Heart Attack.

It was a difficult time for all my family and with many tears shared, hope spread and courage fought I am delighted to say we all made it through!

So, last year, as something to look forward too, we booked a 3 week vacation in America. We looked at it as a celebration, a well deserved break and something really exciting! It would be the first time as a family we would go to somewhere other than France or Spain….

…It has been cancelled and its all Anorexia fault!!

The news of this came as quite a shock to me when my family was advised not to go by the doctors and left me feeling I had let the side down…. Yes, yet again Anorexia made me forfeit something I truly wanted!

It was hard to hear and I felt disappointed with myself with only now realising just because it stopped me before, it doesn’t mean I will let it again.

The holiday has been postponed to the same time next year with the only difference being “I WILL be going!”

Anyway, holidays are not easy for me and over the years I have struggled with them, the thought of the unknown, unplanned food, having to wear bikinis and changes from my normal routine. Its strange really as although Holidays are for taking a break, Anorexia never gave me one…

In Zante we are going all-inclusive and although some people would think having plenty of choice would be better for me – the prospect is terrifying. I am not good at making decisions around food and having a large amount of choice can send my head into overdrive. Why? you may ask…

Well firstly Anorexia tries to work out the lowest calorie option, the banned foods I MUST avoid and also, when it comes to actually putting the food on my plate because other people normally do that for me, I would put on the minimum possible.

Anxiety is also high in any social events where eating is involved, I always am paranoid people think I am greedy, that I shouldn’t be eating and that they are judging me for my choices. This is a common problem and for a lot of people I have spoken too in the moment it can seem overwhelming.

When I was at my prom I had to leave the sit down meal because I felt really panicky and ended up hiding outside till it had finished! The worst thing was I was in recovery at the time and desperately wanted to prove I was “ok” but it terrified me so much I couldn’t handle it. Its awful looking back knowing Anorexia ruined that part of the night for me but if I ever get a opportunity similar to that again I will not let it be remembered as the night “Ana won”!

To prevent Anorexia destroying my holiday I have put in place a plan with both CAMHS and my parents. It is as follows…

  • At the beginning of the week I will plan what I will have to eat each night
  • My mum will serve up all my food as usual
  • I will have my own snacks on hand so it is not un predictable
  • If the timing of meals causes me issues my mum will help me rationalise my thoughts
  • And lastly if things get really difficult we will buy all my food at a local shop instead of eating the hotel food

I can tell already just by the anxiety of the build up that the holiday could possibly be the hardest challenge in my recovery so far. But instead of worrying over what hasn’t yet happened I am going to try my hardest to fight off any negativity and relax on my holiday without Anorexia trying to steal my fun.

I have realised from writing this just some of the power Anorexia had over my life and that by fighting it I can escape this…

“We shouldnt run away from a challenge. Instead we should run straight towards it, as the only way to escape the fear is too trample it beneath your feet”