‘Body Image’ adding a voice to the face…

Earlier this week, I got the chance to speak out on BBC news about my opinion on body image and how it’s personally affected me. I can’t believe how much coverage on this issue is being given on TV and it makes me so happy that people are finally speaking about this because, it’s so real. Take 2 mins to watch my take on body image…
For me, body image was one of the main reasons that me wanting to lose weight spiralled out of control into my eating disorder. Not the only reason, but definitely one of the most prominent ones. My reflection and how I see myself, is something that will always have a little trigger button to it for the rest of my life. I am learning to be comfortable in my own skin, something that will take years; to rely on only myself to be happy with what I look like and who I am.
Recently this month, a few young people had petitioned for a while for the government to take action towards the portrayal of body image and I agree. To advertise a perfume, you don’t need a male or female model to show how something smells? This creates a perception to us that everything in life is image orientated, when it’s not and shouldn’t be. It’s hard in a society that’s so image focused to find your place of self-acceptance. My advice to anyone who’s trying to do this (and i still am, it doesn’t happen overnight) is to build yourself from the inside out, surround yourself with loving, caring, appreciative people who like you for you and not your image, and do what you like. It gives you an internal thrill and fills you inside so that eventually, what’s on the outside wont matter anymore.
Finally a response has been given by the government (wish they were this fast with other issues too…) and there are going to be changes to the portrayal of body image in the media. This needs to be done because when I log onto my Instagram, everyone looks the same… The government also wants to put in place posters/media displays on body image awareness because it is one of the strongest mental thoughts there can be; being aware about it, is only a step forward because you feel like it’s not just you.
I’m so glad I got the chance to share my experience and take on body image and that, even though there’s so much left to do about eating disorders, something is being done.
See you soon
X
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What makes Anorexia diagnosable; is that acceptable?

So today I had a bit of a realisation… It’s a bit random after my last post, but it needed to be said while I’m in the heat of the moment…

As everyone’s who read my blogs knows, I had Anorexia 3 years ago. That’s really not that long ago if you think about it, especially for me to be saying I ‘had’ anorexia. It took ages to develop, so surely it doesn’t just go away that easily right? I’m going to be brutally honest…

When I finished my 6 months CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for Anorexia, they let me go like a duck in the water, I felt free; ‘OMG I’M FREE AND I’M ME AGAIN’. My BMI was within the healthy range, and my hair grew back quickly, I was ‘happy’ according to the NHS’s mark. All those stupid forms I filled in SO MANY TIMES (I’ll attach an image below for those who don’t know what they are) about my mood and anxiety, were now irrelevant because I was healthy! Was I though, said who? If I had said I still didn’t feel ok, would they have kept me in CBT longer? Once you’re a healthy weight, you’re miraculously ok apparently… This isn’t the case AT ALL. 3 years down the line, and only today have I realised that most of my daily behaviours, especially those around food, are behaviours I used to have when I was anorexic. It’s lead to me pose the question to any health, eating disorders expert, NHS member, mental health worker, the stupid system we live in, (don’t get me wrong the NHS does a fabulous job and we’re so lucky to have such an advanced health system but, in terms of mental health, it needs work) what makes anorexia acceptable and is that criteria really what makes someone anorexic? If I’m a healthy weight, am I still anorexic?

Before I start, lets look at the facts and what’s the criteria to be ‘anorexic’?

According to a lot of articles and pages I read online, these are the ‘symptoms’ of anorexia and if you have these, you’re anorexic:

  • Exercising excessively
  • Below a certain BMI – 17.5 but may change based on gender.
  • Not eating/restriction of food intake

So, to be diagnosed with Anorexia you need to have some of those symptoms and a few more. www.verywell.com is a website that just gives you information on Eating Disorders and they have this on their website: “For patients who do not meet full criteria for anorexia nervosa, Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder may be an appropriate diagnosis.” I’m sorry, what? ‘For patients who do not meet full criteria’ – am I applying for a job interview or filling in a form? I am not under-weight now and still have anorexic symptoms, when I was at my worst, I did not exercise excessively, I did eat, very little but I did. It was only when I stopped eating and my weight was at its lowest that I was acceptable to be ‘anorexic’, I finally fit the criteria! If this is the case then what entitles you to having an eating disorder? People at their WORST, won’t be given the anorexic title, and so don’t get diagnosed, which means they’re left neglected until it manifests becoming something worse. A year post-recovery, I still had A LOT of the symptoms I had during my eating disorder, I was in and out of my GP, asking to be seen, to be understood, to be heard. I was told I had anxiety, it was stress and everything would be ok, it was depression, it was everything but an eating disorder because when I stepped on those DREADED scales, it was ‘correct’. What is correct anyway, says who? It’s stupid because the reality is, I could be overweight and still have an eating disorder. I still control my food, I still can’t look at my reflection, I still find it hard to eat in social situations no matter how much of a front I put on. I always tell one person who I’m with when I’m eating out how nervous I am about eating and that’s so bad because food is everywhere. I can’t hide anymore. It makes me ashamed that I have to do that because ‘I’m not anorexic anymore’ says who? Who makes this criteria and how much do they really know? To the stupid doctors who told me that I have every other mental illness under the sun, made me feel like shit, like no matter what I did I couldn’t avoid this dark cloud above me every time I tried to be free, who made me feel like the most messed up person in the world, who didn’t listen to me when I said I would rather be dead than alive because I couldn’t do it anymore, who didn’t even consider asking about my food or anything related because I was a healthy weight, WAKE UP. Anorexia is a MENTAL illness. MENTAL. That means its in your head. It creates this tunnel vision and filters your sight. You can only see through it and no other way.

What really is Anorexia then? If someone’s weight isn’t low to the point they’re just skin and bone, what makes someone anorexic? It has to do with food of course, but that’s not the main issue. During my sick time, I ate, not what I wanted to, but I ate. It’s all in your head. It creates this idea in your head that you have to look and be a certain way and are never good enough. Even when you restrict. This applies to everything in your life. Got a grade back? It’s not good enough. Got some new trousers, they aren’t loose? Not good enough. Tried to socialise but you couldn’t do it? Not good enough. You’re never good enough or worthy of anything when you have anorexia. You feel trapped inside this body that isn’t yours and you can’t get out. You get glimpses of what its like to be the old you but you never get to go there which is unexplainable. It’s looking in the mirror and feeling physically sick whether you’re under or overweight, running to the toilet and being sick. Its hating a part of your body so much, squashing and squashing and SQUASHING it in the hope it will just disappear. Feeling guilty about eating an apple or something healthy. An Anorexic’s mind is consumed by all these ideas of perfectionism, control, self-esteem, and food. It twists your thoughts so that everything you do is bad and nothing is ever good. It doesn’t matter the digits on the scale, or the digits on the blood pressure machine. How can you define a mental illness with numbers?

Having said all of that… I then want to say, from experience, how I feel an eating disorder should be diagnosed. This is only my view, I’m not a professional or whatever, it’s just based on my experience and highlighting how important even the small things are. Firstly, I think an eating disorder shouldn’t be labelled an ‘eating disorder’ it should just go under the category of all other mental illnesses. Depression isn’t labelled ‘low mood disorder’ so why are eating disorders? Secondly, just because you’re a healthy weight DOES NOT mean you don’t have an eating disorder. Scales don’t define your mental state. This is what went wrong for me, I was finally a healthy weight after 6 months and was dropped, because I was ok, when I wasn’t. The current diagnosis system is losing people to eating disorders. It’s one of the most dangerous mental illnesses, the one that causes most deaths, do you know why? Because it’s not labelled as a ‘mental illness’ but as an ‘eating disorder’ when food isn’t at the core of the problem. After all, it is a MENTAL illness.

 

Image result for low mood form

This is similar to the form i talk about earlier, can’t find the actual one online

 

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Story 3; Depression

Hiiii again! Hope everyone is good. Sorry for the delay, uni is very demanding at the moment!!

This post was a hard one to write but I wanted to do it because I know how common depression is, so bare with me and remember everyone’s journey is different, this is just my take on it…

I’m going to be honest, I don’t know where to start with this one. Let’s start with: what is depression? I looked on the NHS website, online for a legit diagnosis but there doesn’t seem to be any. Surely this speaks for itself – so many people go through it but no one can define it? The NHS says that its more than ‘a bad mood’ and these are the symptoms: Continuous low mood or sadness, feeling hopeless and helpless, having low self-esteem, feeling tearful, feeling guilt-ridden, feeling irritable and intolerant of others, having no motivation or interest in things, finding it difficult to make decisions, you find social situations hard sometimes and other times they’re 100% ok, and there is more. (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/symptoms/) PLEASE READ THEM BECAUSE EVEN I WAS SURPRISED. The ones that stood out to me are: you are sad but you don’t know why, feeling hopeless and helpless, you lose motivation to do the things you used to love doing, there are so many things going on in your head but you can’t get them out to let people help you and then you can feel alone. There’s so many relevant ones and even ones that I myself think about everyday and didn’t even know they were under the ‘depression symptoms’. It’s weird that people use these terms and the word depression to take the piss out of something, ‘you look so depressed, cheer up’, and comments like these are the reason that depression isn’t taken seriously. It makes me really angry because being sad and being depressed are two DIFFERENT things. You can’t just ‘cheer up’ when you’re depressed because it consumes you and becomes your life-style its not just something you can change like that, I wish it was but it’s not. By using these mental illnesses as a casual label, people diminish their meaning so its not taken seriously and this is the problem about mental health. It’s not a joke, it’s not something you use to ‘laugh about’. It’s you not being in control of your mind, your thoughts, your feelings, its like living with 2 people inside you and not knowing how to escape it. Its pushing away the people closest to you because you’re not worthy of having relationships/friendships because you’re not good enough. Its not doing the things you once loved because you’re not good enough.

When I got diagnosed with anorexia, I knew I had an eating disorder. I never thought of it as a mental illness and that’s a problem that society does. An eating disorder is a mental illness above anything else. Just because you’re not literally underweight DOES NOT MEAN you are not sick. The same applies for depression. Just because there are no visual marks or pointers to show you are depressed, then you’re not. That’s not how it works. Just because I don’t have scars to take steps to ‘show I’m depressed’ doesn’t mean I don’t have a constant battle in my head with this part of me that controls me and takes away who I really am. This is yet ANOTHER problem with mental health which raises the question, how much has really changed? If people still look for visual marks of you being ‘mentally ill’?

Ok so rant over…

After recovering physically from my eating disorder, I fell into deep depression. There were so many things going on in my head that I couldn’t get out to let people help me because I didn’t know how to – something therapy for Anorexia didn’t teach me to do which resulted in depression and me feeling neglected and alone. I can’t even describe to you what it feels like. I punish myself for not sticking to what I was going to for no reason, I only see myself as a ‘faliure’ which poses the question, why bother with anything? I know some people reading this will think ‘just think positively’ but you CAN’T. You’re not in control of your thoughts, they’re filtered through a dark, misty lense that you can’t move or clean. I will think like this today, and the next day I’m fine and the bubbliest person in a group of people. But please be aware. Someone once told me ‘the loudest, most hyper people are the ones who have a lot to hide with that humour’ and it’s true because I used to do that. (Maybe not EVERYONE but it’s a common thing coping mechanism for people who are struggling. It can feel like ‘putting on a front’ most of the time, pretending you’re ok so people don’t ask questions that you don’t want to and aren’t able to answer. It made me push some of the closest people to me away, and even to this day I still do that, and I can’t tell you why. You learn to be comfortable in your own company and want that only especially on down days.

Depression can come across as though people are ‘attention seeking’ or ‘isolating themselves’ but what people need to see is that its not what you want to do. It’s something you learn to do that becomes your place of comfort and your way of dealing with things. It’s hard because in society, a lot of misconceptions have been made about people ‘attention seeking’ and people suffering with mental health problems tend to fall under that category which makes me feel so sick. Why are people being given this label, when they’re struggling? When they think they’re better off not here for reasons that are not their fault?

I’ve googled some quotes that people shared about their experience with depression and what it feels like: ‘You feel like a ghost… not part of the real world’, ‘Nothing is fun anymore’, ‘It’s like someone else is in control of your mind and has the power to make you feel worthless and numb’, ‘Not feeling any internal emotions, or anything at all but emptiness’, ‘it steals your confidence’. There were so many more, and it just goes to show how common it is and how rubbish it can really make you feel.

Please take the time to really look at the people closest to you and if you recognise any of this in them, sometimes, the people closest to you are going through so much, want help but just don’t know how to say it. Having 1 person asking you ‘are you ok’ just out of the blue can be the start of that little glimpse of hope for that person, and believe me, it helps and only takes 2 seconds. Depression makes you lose who you are and going through the process to find yourself again is a long painful one. It makes you question – who am I and where has the real me gone?

I just want to say, for anyone reading this who connects with any of these feelings now or has done; please don’t hesitate to message me, thank you for being here to read this and even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, there is a way out. It’s taken me a long time to get where I am now, and I’m still not where I want to be yet…

P.s take a look at this video which made me feel empowered:

ttps://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=what+it+feels+like+to+live+with+depression&&view=detail&mid=E30FED5CC5D104694D79E30FED5CC5D104694D79&&FORM=VDRVRV

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Why I HATE January – bigorexia, anorexia, and my advice…

A bit late but better late than, never right? Happy new year! I hope everyone had a good new year and a good time off everything that usually keeps you busy. I’m back with a new post that follows briefly from my last one, where I mentioned this month being the world famous ‘diet month’. This is only going to be a short post as I’m on the train back to University and if I don’t pay enough attention, I will get off at the wrong stop because I’m clumsy like that…

So, it’s a new year, and everyone is boasting about ‘New Year New Me’ as always. January marks the opportunity for a fresh start, the opening of a new chapter, and focusing on the best version of you. With a fresh start and a new month, comes the adverts and promo’s I see everywhere about losing weight and getting in the gym which is why I like to call it the ‘diet month’. I regularly go to the gym anyway which was and still is an important step in my recovery from my eating disorder, but seeing all of these promos about it everywhere puts me off and makes me feel like I’m behind, like I need to exercise more to keep up with society and this image of what it means to be ‘healthy’. I’m conscious of days I choose to go to the gym because (I think I’ve mentioned this briefly in another post) I have to be in the right mind set for it. Not in the mind set to ‘lose weight’ but in the mind set to want to go there because I know it will make me feel clearer in my mind, and powerful in my strength physically and mentally.

It’s frustrating for anyone who likes the way they were 5 days ago in 2017, and doesn’t want to change anything about how they are or how they look. It puts pressure to feel like they have to get up and join in with this ‘new year new me healthy lifestyle’. I understand that the promo is to make you literally start afresh, and work hard but what the media fails to understand, is that it puts pressure  on people who don’t want to do that. Especially on those with an Eating Disorder or having had one, it can be triggering. Just as you learn to love and accept yourself for who you are, suddenly there are pictures and videos EVERYWHERE on how you should look, and behave this year which is confusing I can’t even tell you. It’s hard to explain but for someone with an Eating Disorder, and having a perfectionist mindset, naturally when you go through such mental pressure, you want to look the best all the time, and CAN’T look any other way because it’s just not allowed in your mind. And if you don’t, you’re failing yourself. Even on days where you might feel the slightest bit ok with how you are, (when I say slightest, I mean SLIGHTEST), you look on BBC NEWS and see them advertising a diet plan, or how much sugar you should eat in a day – which of course is being considerate and educating people on healthy amounts – but it does NOT ACCOUNT for anyone who suffers mentally with food. AT ALL. By telling us how much sugar we have to eat, someone with an eating disorder, will just straight away feel like they eat too much of it, or feel like they’re doing something wrong. To see things like on BBC NEWS which you watch to EDUCATE yourself with what’s happening in the world, makes you question, what can you watch? Where can you look without being confronted with food? Nowhere. I know if it was me, 3 years ago seeing things like that on TV thinking the way I did, I’d be really questioning why I even bothered and how shit I looked, even though looking back now, I didn’t look shit, I was sick.

How I deal with this month having had an eating disorder, is by leaving the media alone. Avoiding Instagram and places where you’re more likely to see anything like that. Even though it can be hard to avoid because social media is like a drug, resist it and work on yourself and just doing things you love away from the media, that’s what keeps me alive anyway. Focus on things that make you feel good about yourself and like you’ve done something good.

As well as applying for people with an eating disorder, the same thing applies for people without one who just don’t want to change how they look, and have just gained self-confidence. The way this world works, is backwards. As soon as you feel ok, it hits you with something in the face, to remind you that you don’t look like what you’re supposed to look like. – Let me ask you though, what are you supposed to look like and who said that you’re supposed to look that way?- It makes you feel bad for how you are as a person, and like you’re not good enough because you don’t look like THEM which is nothing near OK… this applies to men too. More so today, men have an image they have to live up to more than they did even just 5 years ago. ‘Bigorexia’ has become something really relevant in today’s society, putting pressure on men to be big, and muscly otherwise, they aren’t ‘manly’ enough. These expectations are too much and unrealistic, and just made to make people feel like they’re not good enough. Read this article on bigorexia to open your eyes to what society is doing to us without us realising:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/mens-health/11881644/Bigorexia-are-gym-obsessed-men-suffering-from-a-disorder.html

One thing that I haven’t yet, but want to realise soon and am in the process of doing it, is understanding that getting off your phone, away from your laptop, reminds you of what it means to feel alive like I said earlier. I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to focus on helping other people through my blog, in general, and getting involved in things I’m passionate about. Leave behind worrying what people think about you or how people will read something you do. Do it because you want to and that’s it. Even if it’s something small, do it. Self-love and acceptance is key to happiness; I’m not there yet because it’s not something that happens from the 31st December 2017 to the 1st January 2018 just like that. It’s a working progress… Write down your goals for this year, add to them, stick to them, tick them off, and see yourself progress without even realising.

If you have/have had an eating disorder and are struggling this month, take time to think about why you wanted to get better or want to, and remind yourself of the little things you do on a daily basis that you love, what you’re passionate about and let that take over your mind. Please anyone also message me if you’re struggling, a problem shared is a problem halved, and we can help each other…

As a little taster, I think my next post is going be another story, one that I think a lot of people will connect with well, it’s not going to be easy so be patient with me as I figure out how to write it….

I said this was going to be short… lol oh well. Luckily my stop is next, so see you all very soon

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Final post of 2017 –

I’m reminiscing on a crazy 2017.

I’ve met some people that I now know will be with me forever. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a whole new world and realising that you don’t need all the things we have in our world to be happy, but just the small things. I’ve had some incredible holidays this year with the most special people. Most of all, I made the decision to start this. It was a hard thing to do, and I had a lot of the stories already written without posting because I didn’t know how to address such a taboo issue… Mental health is so important. It can be harder on the person than a physical illness which is what people don’t see. Physical illnesses speak for themselves, but a mental illness can’t be spoken. Literally, and sometimes because there are no words to describe your state of mind. I thought… why keep all of these thoughts in, when you can self-express while helping others.

A few lil notes…

This upcoming week is a hard one for anyone with an eating disorder, even me who’s at the stage I am at now. The first week of January is known as the ‘diet’ week where everywhere in the media, people advertise on how to lose weight etc. My advice and what I’m going to try to do too… is stay low on social media and just do what you do best. BEAT support have a twitter page that offers a 3pm-10pm (I think) support where anyone can message them to speak to someone if you’re having trouble. (I’ll put their @ and link below).

Today itself can be a hard day, I know it can be for me too with all the pressure of trying to be better in the new year, and be a better version of yourself, improve little things about you is everywhere on social media. I know anyone reading this, and feeling somewhat similar has already been trying to do that all of this time so, maybe today, take a break from all of that. Look back on the good times this year, and the not so good times and remember the lessons those moments have taught you. Take next year to focus on yourself, and do things you love, that make you feel alive.

Thank you to every single person who’s taken the time to read any blog post of mine, & for every message. It really is such an amazing feeling knowing its not just you who thinks this way. I’ll be back next year with some new stories… and some more advice on how I deal with my battles; for now, happy new year!

https://twitter.com/BeatEDSupport – @BeatEDSupport x

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Christmas with an Eating Disorder

Hey guys… I keep saying ‘sorry it’s been a while’ and then realize that the next time I post, it’s also been long, maybe an even longer while (soz)… I’ve been so busy with uni performances and work that I have had 0 time for myself but I’m loving it!

I thought that now getting nearer to the Christmas season, I would write a post that links to my first story, about how you handle Christmas with an Eating Disorder (or at least how I have). The past 2/3 years at Christmas I have still found it hard and felt a lot of the aftermath of Anorexia at big family meals. Obviously not wanting to eat and not being able to eat in front of people when you have an eating disorder, can make one of the funnest holidays feel like the worst. In this post, I wanna share with everyone how it felt and how I handled it, in the hope that I can help at least 1 person feel okay this year.

So before we start, lets me just remind you of the BEAT definition and symptoms of an eating disorder (there are so many different types of Eating disorders, but these are just a few).

“Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that involve disordered eating behavior. This might mean limiting the amount of food eaten, eating very large quantities of food at once, getting rid of food eaten through unhealthy means or a combination of these behaviors. It’s important to remember that eating disorders are not all about food itself, but about feelings. Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.” https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/types?gclid=CjwKCAiAmb7RBRATEiwA7kS8VJrG0_Zft252oDrdsIJ3Og3Cz3pkfz5K5oDLSvf9EVNmLtwrdMMn_xoClFUQAvD_BwE

Commonly mistaken for someone who just ‘doesn’t eat,’ Eating disorders are defined by a lot more than just ‘not eating’ and play a part in your psychological mind too (hence why 3 or 4 years down the line, I still struggle sometimes).

Now looking at Christmas! It’s supposed to be one of the most festive, fun times of the year where everyone comes together and enjoys presents, food and drinks. This is an Anorexic’s worst nightmare, and it was mine. I love Christmas but I couldn’t deal with all the constant comments on my weight, how much or how little I’m eating, the glares at how thin my legs or my arms were, and the anxiety I had around the food I was eating that went hand in hand with the feeling of being judged on my choice of food and quantity.

The constant comments was one of my biggest issues to overcome. People would look at my food and ask ‘is that all you’re having’, ‘are you sure you don’t want anymore’? And it drove me insane. I just wanted to eat and enjoy the one time I allowed myself to eat properly without anyone bothering or watching me. Being conscious of what I was eating, I took the rare decision to allow myself the Christmas meal, and it just worked against me and ‘Anorexia’ took over. Another thing about the comments that I found hard to take was what someone would say when I allowed myself to be free with how much food I put on my plate. Sometimes, I would have more than I usually allowed myself to, even though I knew I was gonna feel bad, I wanted to eat. That thought in itself sometimes backfired though. If I took the step to eating more, the comments made would make me feel sick at the thought of much I decided to eat; even just writing this does. I would get things like ‘That was a good amount, do you want anymore?’ or even just glances that showed recognition that I’d eaten more which made me feel disgusting in myself. These glances were some of the worst. I could feel people staring at my legs or my arms and mumbling about them, which made me even more self-conscious than I was already feeling, with the Anorexia, and the thought of being ‘too big’ in my mind.

Looking back at it now, I can see that it wasn’t meant in a spiteful way at all. People that made those comments were just worried, and by seeing someone so thin eat, I assume they get this sense of hope which makes them think that by eating more, it will get better – like a quick solution. Obviously, being the one with the Anorexia, I knew that’s not how it worked, but they wouldn’t know and couldn’t guess such a complicated mind process having not experienced it. That’s the thing with Anorexia, it’s like someone else takes over your body and it fights with the real you in your head who wants to be okay, which makes it very confusing to understand what your thought process is. That’s how it worked with food for me, I knew that deep down, I wanted it but Anorexia didn’t which meant, I didn’t get it.

Another thing that comes with a Christmas meal is the amount of people and the amount of food. Having a thought process that went ‘less is more’ in my head at the time, in all aspects that involved food, I naturally had or picked as little as I could. With Christmas, you have to feed everyone which was my worst nightmare. It was like the food was something I had to eat (all of it) even though it wasn’t for me, because the person inside me wanted it so badly but Anorexia wouldn’t let me have it; kind of like when you really want like, a slice of cake but part of you is telling you shouldn’t have it, except mine was with every kind of food.

The way I handled it was getting involved. Often when people describe the condition, the words ‘control’ and ‘perfectionism’ with food are brought up which is why this might be confusing. An Anorexic tends to want, and finds any way possible to be in full control of what they eat, when they eat it, and how they eat it. What I learned to do for big family meals was use this trait in a way that would help me. I helped out in the kitchen so I knew what was being made so I could relax when eating it – I still do to this day and it’s made me actually really enjoy cooking. It gives you some control but doesn’t have a negative effect, instead it helps you be okay with what you’re eating.

Another way I took ‘control’ was by talking to someone who was at the table with me so I felt at ease when I was eating. Initially, it seems like no one understands what’s going through your head, and you have so much going through it that you can’t explain (I still have days where I feel like this). Looking back now, I can see how much my mum actually did understand, of course not fully because it was happening to me, but she helped me and reassured me that it would be okay, and although people might look or comment, it wasn’t meant in an unkind way. She also knew that by me helping out in the kitchen, put me more at ease when I was eating it, so she let me. Of course, when you’re sick and you want to eat you tend to do it quietly, by yourself, and in your own space. That’s not how family meals work, so I couldn’t do that which meant naturally, there was a sense of anxiety there. Also having had panic attacks (check my recent post where I explain how I deal with that: https://mentalstability.blog/2017/09/21/story-2-panic-attacks-and-anxiety-disorder-whats-that/), it would be easier for me to have one, and so that would make me anxious about that as well as the food. Having told my mum about how I felt, put that at ease because if I felt like I was going to have a panic attack, she would help me.

Another thing I learnt, is that it’s okay to step out of the room, take time for yourself, reassure and remind yourself why you’re taking such a big step; so you know it’s okay and everything will be ok, as long as everything is at your pace.

Finally, try to remember that it’s a fun time of the year, think of all the good things that don’t revolve food, focus on those, and I hope together with those thoughts and my advice above, that Christmas will be ok!

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To contrast the header image – Here’s a picture of me this year the @ExebeatsED Christmas show case where we raised money for BEAT (sneak preview of the next post!)

Ana

X

P.S. next post will be about a fun event that a group at my University (@ExebeatsED) held, where we raised money for BEAT – stay tuned X

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Story 2, part 2 – how to deal with anxiety

Hi…

I said I was going to keep posting regularly but Uni has taken me over! HOWEVER, here’s a post following my last one on Anxiety and panic attacks, and how I deal with it..

After suffering from Panic attacks for many years, and my closest family members suffering from it to, I’m now familiar with what a panic attack is, how you know it’s starting, and what to do. A panic attack is simply your body going into ‘flight mode’ when it doesn’t agree with something or a scenario. With panic attacks comes anxiety; anxiety that I will have a panic attack. Also general anxiety about anything and everything. I try to keep it in tact by doing a few things that help me deal/work with the fact that I have anxiety.

The first one, and relevant one, is the gym. Being so busy, especially at Uni, it’s easy to get caught up in this mode of: work, socializing, reading etc… The gym is like a distraction and a place I can go to take my mind off everything and just focus on building myself as a person. When I’m in there, I zone out, and try to avoid thinking about what I do on a daily basis to clear my mind. It also helps me feel stronger, so I know if I feel that way, I can deal with any situation that makes me anxious. Of course, it’s easy to work out with a bad situation in mind which of course drives your workout in a different direction… which for me personally, is a wrong reason to work out, and one that can become almost a trap. I have to go to the gym with the mind set of it helping me grow myself and take me away from everything else. I know this is probably really common for a lot of people and one that works. One of my closest friends tells me about how much she loves the gym, and i’m so proud of her for finding something that works for her. I know a lot of people probably use this method to keep themselves balanced and I think it’s a good one! The gym is a good place to start learning that, if you physically train and build yourself, mentally, you do the same thing.

Secondly, is organisation. I know this probably sounds silly but, it’s really helpful. If I have loads of things to do, I panic that I’m gonna run out of time, or won’t be able to do it properly, or find something to make me anxious. After years and years of trying to figure out the most practical way to avoid that anxiety and therefore panic, organization is the thing that helps. It allows you to a) prioritize, b) ‘tick things off’ and c) give yourself space to breathe. It might sound silly because some people just take everything as it comes (and if that works for you then, fab!) but for me, this is a key one, to remind myself of everything I have to do as well as organizing things I want to do, to keep me going.

Finally, and most important, is probably talking. This is a hard one for me and most people I’m sure but, talking about how you feel helps. Someone enlightened me on a quote ‘A problem shared, is a problem halved’ and it’s true. Sharing your anxious thoughts and worries with someone takes some pressure of yourself knowing its only you that thinks this way when in reality, it probably isn’t. Halving your anxieties, gives room for the person you’re sharing them with to help you, reassure you, and support you; in letting you know that to you, what seems like a really big thing, might not be as bad if you take baby steps towards it. I’m currently mid-rehearsal for a performance on my Drama course which I think is probably wise to mention here. We looked at why men find it hard to share how they feel. Obviously. I’m not a man, so I don’t properly know or understand, but after some research, I think I might have an idea… society puts so much pressure on men to not share anything and on women to be the ones who are ‘emotional’. This is wrong. It’s wrong because despite being man or woman, we’re human; thing’s build up inside us and we are not made of steel. Sometimes, life comes at you hard and fast, and you face things, and feel things that might be strange to you. Especially as a man I think it’s harder because you’re socially taught not to ‘feel anything’ but, it happens. My advice is, to both men and women, if something’s making you anxious and worried, even if it’s the smallest thing ever, share it, because it builds and that’s when it becomes dangerous. Forget what society says, and focus on how YOU feel. This is a hard one, but I promise one that works.

Of course these are all things that worked for me, and everyone is different but, give them a go if you feel this way, and see how it goes…

Next post (sooooon) will be a new story, one that I think a lot of people might relate to, so keep an eye out 😉

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