Friday, March 06, 2015

A note on raising awareness about eating disorders

I've been looking for a new name for my blog for a while and when I think about what I write about, it makes me think that I should call this blog something along the lines of "wishes she could be more eloquent and articulate about things that really matter", but of course more eloquent and articulate. In my little writing world, there is no time more frustrating than when something is close to my heart but I can't find the words to do those topics or feelings justice. But hey, if you're a veteran FMLW reader, you'll know about that already (see here if not).

Last week was Eating Disorders Awareness Week. My attempts at writing something wouldn't do anything justice at all. All I know is that we should be talking about it. So, I would like to share with you words from two people who I love an awful lot and who inspire me on a daily basis. 

Here are their stories:

(If this topic is something you identify with or is close to your heart too, and you are in need of support, then just a little note that Beat is there to help. Their number is 0845 634 1414
                                                                                                                                                        

"It is Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I'm sharing my experience of anorexia to inform and feel less ashamed of having it. 

Anorexia is not a weight disorder. Someone with anorexia might not be extremely thin and someone who is extremely thin might not have anorexia. Disordered eaters might not have an eating disorder. Dieting is not the same as having anorexia. Skipping a meal is not the same as having anorexia. 

People with anorexia do eat. Anorexia should not be glamourised or be something people aspire to. It is NOT a choice. It is a mental health illness. Someone I met once said that they wished they had anorexia. But if only people really knew what it was like then they wouldn't say this.

Anorexia is like having a bully 24 hours a day, constantly chattering away in your ear - even when you sleep. You dream of food and have nightmares about weight. 

It is every second of every day thinking about food, calories and numbers. It is crying hysterically for hours over weight gain. It is wanting to die because you can't take the voices any more. It is screaming at family and crying in public, both over food. It is not leaving the house, showering or changing in fear of seeing your body. 

It is countless doctors appointments, ECGs and blood tests. It is using the word "fat" as a feeling. It is doing things I am too ashamed to even say. 

There is no break from this illness. There is no off button. It is constant torment all day every day.

Mainly, I want to get across that it is NOT a weight disorder. The anorexia voice does not disappear once at a healthy weight. It gets louder as you're fighting against it. Over the past seven years of being ill with anorexia, my weight has fluctuated and yet every one of those days that voice has still been there.

You don't just lose weight - you lose time, life, friends. It is exhausting - I cannot wait for the day that voice quietens down so that I can eat a meal without crying of guilt afterwards. I may have this forever but I hope to get to a stage where there is less noise in my head.

I am not giving up. I am stronger than my eating disorder. I am R and I love cats. I love baking cakes and I love kind people. I love Options and blankets. I love cute pyjamas and baggy jumpers. I want to be a nurse. I have anorexia. But I am not my eating disorder."

                                                                                                                                                            


"To help break the silence, this week I am raising awareness of eating orders. I am never going to know what it is like for those suffering, but even just seeing the closest people to me go through such internal torture is enough to know something more has to be done.

For me, I would like to alleviate the stigma surrounding anorexia. Anorexia is a mental health disorder, not a weight disorder, that takes over people's lives one minute at a time. 

For those who think it is a choice to becoming life-threateningly thin, it is most definitely not and not one person can decide not to have the disorder for a day. The voices inside of them are continuous comments of abuse which harm their self esteem and skew the view of their body image. 

It is heartbreaking to see or even know of the constant suffering this causes people. Friends and family of sufferers can feel so helpless all the time, so this week I want to be able to help in other ways.

I am helping to raise awareness of how serious eating disorders actually are. I am raising awareness of how they can affect anyone, including males, and I know of too many people suffering too long without help. Being put on countless, forever-lasting waiting lists, which go nowhere, is not enough. The media portraying these illnesses to young people as something glamorous to strive for is so incredibly wrong that people have to know the truth.

There are too many misconceptions about eating disorders to list, but hopefully by raising awareness, message by message, the unfortunate reality will be known and therefore help sufferers feel less stigmatised in society."

                                                                                                                                                             

We have to keep talking.


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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Scribbled



From notes on my phone ::

Ever listened to a conversation between two strangers and realised that you have uttered those same words to someone before too? Two, three, five, fifty, infinite combinations of strangers having infinite combinations of repeated conversations.

The same thoughts, the same words, the same expressions of delight, the same disdain, the same judgement.

Our minds are unique and form part of "who we are" yet your observations and realisations may just be, and probably often are, the same ones that thousands before you and thousands after you will have. Without even speaking to these strangers we have common thought patterns and processes; without even knowing these strangers we share reactions and observational dialogue.

Just a little thought about how intrinsically similar we all are as humans.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

P.S. Hello again x

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Light

Source

Could I let 2014 slip away without one last blog post? I'm sitting at "home home", back with my family for the Christmas period, and I'm reminded of my old ways. The days, weeks, months I spent scribbling/typing away in time which needed filling or which was stolen from studying. I read a tweet earlier today claiming that a good writing tip is to write when you're supposed to be doing something else. The feeling of being naughty, knowing you're supposed to be researching for your coursework or getting ready to go outside. What am I avoiding now? A last minute dash to the shops for hopefully the end of the Christmas shopping period which I promised myself would happen in October. There's always next year..!

At dinner last night with some of my closest friends, we took it in turns to speak about the highlight of 2014. I know it's a question that's upcoming in my 5 year Q&A diary too. It's often a question I dread because when I reflect, the more painful memories always seem to stick out. In a privileged society like ours, it can seem almost like we treat happiness and pleasantry to be the norm and experiences which do not fit into that category are treated as blips on the smooth journey we expect from our lives. Do we always appreciate fully that these marks are as much part of our lives as the good stuff? Or is it a case of attitude and approach?

I've been taught recently to re-adjust the way I view decision-making and management of worries and anxieties by someone who enthuses about life and has much more positive eyes than I do. M posited the following: "Rather than look at why you wouldn't enjoy something, think about why you would". Rather than worry about what someone doesn't like about you, remind yourself of reasons why they do. Rather than formulate theories about how unbearable an experience is going to be, focus on the excitement and gratitude you might have for the opportunity.

The instinctive analysis that my brain decides to undertake at every given chance however warns of the dangers of getting carried away by not considering whether the bad outweighs the good. We can't ignore certain negativities for the sake of trivial indulgences, for example; it is a balancing act, of course it is.

But it can be a useful mantra I think - apply it to present-buying, a new opportunity at work, planning a trip. How can it help you? If you find yourself in a situation where you are needing encouragement to do something you're unsure on but ultimately feel like you want to do, maybe we should apply that logic.

Going back to the question of 2014's highlight - what would make you say you did enjoy it, rather than what would make you say you didn't? For me, it was my trip to Spain over the summer. Not necessarily for the travel aspect of it, which I suppose is the predictable part of the answer (travel is a popular highlight for most people), but rather for simple reasons of time and freedom to be me in different places with the person who so often I forget is a separate person to me.

Of course, we do carry with us grief, trauma, pain and it forms part of who we are, through the good times and the bad. Suffering doesn't go away but shiny stars do need a dark backdrop.

Or as Dumbledore would put it: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light."

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas

xxx

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to Basics


I can't write. I've tried and I've tried but I can't do it at the moment. Not in the way I would like to anyhow. Not even one of my Taking Stock posts.  Tiredness, distraction by other things, not enough reading, not enough imagining.

I've tried to put together pieces for this blog, I miss writing and I miss the cathartic value of putting pen to paper. I miss stringing together words in sentences which don't sound basic. I miss having something to say. I miss knowing my tone and voice.

My routine is a tiring one, fulfilling in many ways, but harsh on other passions like this, like reading, like writing, like yoga. In this adjustment phase, each day is a single-lane road, my body exhausted and mind consumed. I'm not unhappy, I'm just not exploring much in the way that I used to. I'm unhappy about that but I'm working on it. I never put pressure on myself to post on here, I only ever did when there was something within me that could not be still. The words would spill out without even trying. So why should I worry about this inability to convey now? Is it just not the right time or place? Is this the end of my run here? Quite simply, it is unsettling because I have a hundred thoughts I want to share, and thousands of feelings that won't quieten til they're out, but no tool to paint them with.

Writing fluidly comes with practice, so step one is this post - not least because it doesn't sound exactly how I would like it to. Step two will be picking up a book and starting there. I do believe that to be able to write, you must first read. Step three might come from your advice if you have any.

Thanks for bearing with me during the radio silence. I hope to be back properly soon.

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