#WhyWait – Guest Post 2

It couldn’t be anorexia- it just couldn’t

I am guest writing on my sisters blog to offer my perspective on what it is like to watch anorexia nervosa take over the minds of the two most important women in my life; my sister and my mum. The destruction that is anorexia nervosa creeps up and appears slowly, like a poison spreading through the body. I have watched it quite literally eat the person away until they are a shadow of their former self both physically and mentally.

How was I to know that only four months after dropping off my vibrant, social, confident little sister for her first day at Uni that she’d soon be coming home to us. I think I blocked out the worst case, told myself that it was just Olivia struggling to ‘settle in’ and that it would ‘sort itself out’. It couldn’t be anorexia- it just couldn’t. Olivia was soon brought home. It wasn’t just the unrecognisable physical changes that were most startling and hard to deal with, but the emotional ones that rocked us all. She was angry, unpredictable, I didn’t know what to say or when to say it.The disorder made her shout over things I couldn’t understand, cry at meal times and become withdrawn. There were talks that she wouldn’t be well enough to not only be my Maid of Honour at my wedding last year, but wouldn’t even be around to even see my wedding. I would watch my Mum look after my sister and feel helpless because anorexia is so difficult to understand. The care has to be kept in the family because the NHS couldn’t offer her anything- ironic that they would be able to offer her something if she got worse?!

My Mum recognised the symptoms before Olivia’s condition took her to a place that she might not have been able to have been brought back from. This sentence fills me with mixed emotions though, because the reason that my Mum was able to recognise these signs is because she too has battled anorexia for 25 years. We are lucky because Olivia’s deterioration was recognised and she was taken home to be her family to begin the long journey of unpicking her tangled relationship with food. However, are we lucky that my mum had an eating disorder and could then spot these traits that she identified from her own history? Is it right that the best possible carer for my anorexic sister is my anorexic mum?  My Mum’s eating disorder was not made aware to me until I was around 14. As a child up until this point I don’t remember my relationship with Mum being different to anyone else’s- a few random faddy diets stick out in my head but I was sheltered from it. Now that I am older I am exposed, trying to learn and adapt to the differences and similarities in the way the disease has manifested in each of them.

The biggest thing for me when I am faced with either of them whilst they are at the worst is expecting to carry on as normal and hold a conversation when I am afraid that even looking at their frail forms will knock them over. Sometimes it feels like they have a special bond- a bond that I can’t ever understand or be a part of. Sometimes I worry that they will judge me, my food choices, my exercise routine, how I look in my clothes. This is why Eating Disorder Awareness Week is so incredibly important and why we are trying to spread this message and share our experience. The #whywait campaign is designed to help people recognise all the symptoms of eating disorders, how to raise the issue and how to support them through- all areas I have struggled with and will continue to learn.

Where are we all now? They say that anorexia nervosa doesn’t go away, that it can be triggered and will lie dormant. It is important to remember that there is no cure and that this will be a continuous journey for them and for the family and friends who support them through. My sister found the courage and strength to be the most amazing Maid of Honour. She was attentive, loving, and a meticulous planner leaving nothing unthought of. She surpassed every expectation I could ever have had! I owe so much to her and my Mum and admire them everyday. They are the bravest women for being able to share their stories and hopefully our experience will provide an insight into what it is like to live with an eating disorder and provide some context around the importance of the #whywait campaign.

#WhyWait – Guest Post by Julia Bailey

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.

Hippocrates (460-400BC) 

Rewind one year to Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017 and as a family we were struggling to cope. Olivia was fully immersed in her anorexia. My husband was totally bewildered by her illness. Olivia’s sister Ellen was unsure as to whether Olivia would be well enough to be her Maid of Honour at her upcoming wedding and their 13 year old brother went very quiet. And me, well I was angry. Angry because even though Olivia was obviously very ill, there was no specialist help available for her from the NHS.

I had no alternative but to take matters into my own hands. I have experience with anorexia. I know everything about this illness because I too, have sufferered. I know what it feels like to need control over my food, to be in such agonizing, silent pain and fearing the consequences of eating and weight gain.

After much research, I found a book about a treatment programme called the New Maudsley Method, which encourages family members to support and aid recovery. Its bottom line argument is that “All living creatures must eat to live – whether to eat or not is non-negotiable”. My aim was to restore her weight so that she could make rational decisions for herself. When the body is starved, the brain cannot function. The New Maudsley Method gave me a strategy to take on Olivia’s anorexia and help her get better. With support from my GP I made a plan of action.

Mealtimes became a battleground. I had to be firm, level-headed, calm and empathetic. I can assure you none of these qualities come naturally to me. But to see my gorgeous, intelligent, bubbly daughter fading away gave me determination even though inside I felt far from confident. Anorexia is an insidious illness but from my own experience, I know all the tricks, lies and manipulation a sufferer will go to in avoiding food.

Gradually, small changes happened. I was unwavering with my approach at mealtimes and Olivia’s anxiety around food improved. She took up yoga, which taught her to appreciate her body. The antidepressants she had been prescribed started to work and occasionally we would get glimpses of the fun loving Olivia we all knew. She started thinking about the future. She applied to university and Ellen involved her with wedding planning. Her recovery was not smooth or easy and we would often take many steps backwards before making progress.

One year on, and Olivia is fit and healthy, studying at university. She was a beautiful and competent Maid of Honour. She still finds some things difficult but the difference now is that she is more aware of her emotions and the impact they can have on her eating.

Anorexia is a complex psychological illness. Fortunately I had the experience and knowledge to take on the start of her recovery and weight restoration is just the beginning. I know that for most families it is a bewildering shock to realize their son or daughter is so ill. Early intervention from specialist professionals is essential and has to be offered immediately wherever you live. The sooner that help is given, the less chance anorexia has of digging in its claws and refusing to let go.



one of the most challenging conversations two friend can have

It’s officially been over a year since I went for the coffee which basically saved my life. It was probably one of the most challenging conversations two friends could have but also one of the most important.

I dreaded that coffee. Ella dreaded that coffee. There is no denying that we both wished that we never had to confront the issue. I wanted to pretend so much that there were no problems and she had no idea what was going on, I was so ready to lie. In reality though she saw everything and was brave enough to risk my reaction and our friendship and ultimately put my future and life first. We started talking, she explained how she felt, she explained what she could see me doing and she shared her own experience. She recognised what I was going through.

((I am not going to lie, I hated her. Well no, my disorder hated her but then my disorder hated everyone including me.))

In the end though, her talking, recognising what I was doing, showing me that I wasn’t alone, and her friendship was something I couldn’t ignore. I wasn’t suddenly cured, I mean she’s great but not a magician. I did get worse before I got better ((what does better even mean???)) and I held on to a lot of hate. But I did go home. I did want to get better. And I did start talking more. I thank you Ella for all that you have done for me and the support you continue to give me, you are an inspiration.

This week, from Monday 26th February to 4th March is Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018. This year EDAW is asking the question #WhyWait? It’s all about having that lifesaving conversation with someone who you think may be struggling and recognising signs and symptoms as soon as possible.

Beat reported that on average, 149 weeks pass before those experiencing eating disorder symptoms seek help. That’s almost 3 years, 37 months, or 1,043 days. Shockingly, it was reported that 34% (1 in 3 adults), could not name any signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Do you know any of the warning signs? ‘Being thin’ ‘weight loss’ ‘fasting’ ‘bingeing and vomiting’ do these spring to mind? Well, these have been listed as top answers to that question, but 79% of adults can’t even name a psychological symptom. Eating disorders signs and symptoms don’t just include these physical signs but incorporate a range of behavioural sign and psychological signs. I urge you to follow this link to find out more.

Fortunately, I have been surrounded by people who haven’t waited. Luckily, Ella saw a lot more than just what I looked like, and was able to recognise early certain behaviours and changes in me as a person. There was no hesitation to confronting the situation and enabled me to start my recovery quickly.

I can’t stress enough how much, talking about eating disorders, talking about mental health, physical health, your dog and cat’s health is going to help. Let’s not only campaign to improve mental health services in general ((because let’s be honest, they’re still pretty shitty)), let’s campaign to raise awareness, particularly enabling people to recognise signs and symptoms so we can encourage and empower friends and family to take action. Use this week as a chance to grab a coffee with a friend and have a chat, it might be scary (Trust, me and Ella were scared on so many levels) but #Whywait?


p.s If you wanna help raise more awareness post a picture of you in your favourite coolest socks with the #sockittoeatingdisorders ((hence the feature photo))


“yup everyone thinks you are freak who needs to be congratulated for eating…WTF is that all about”

A big part of my depression and eating disorder has been about accepting myself and being happy with who I am, which has always been something I have struggled with ((such a cliché I know)). Looking back at my time through school I would always put myself down and need reassurance from my friends that they did in fact like me ((which must have been exhausting and really annoying, sorry)). From that I tried to be someone who I thought people would like or who I thought people wanted me to be, which long story short got me caught up in a whole lot stuff I shouldn’t have.

Coming to King’s in particular, I didn’t want to fall back into that way of thinking, but putting that into practice is actually really hard because you want to be liked by people…obviously. I also wanted to go into uni being open and honest with the people I met about who I am ((unfortunately I am not part of the that gang who have been to South East Asia to find myself… maybe that’s where I am going wrong??? But I do think I have some idea now)). So along with trying to impress all my new amazing friends ((lol)) with all the fantastic qualities I have, I didn’t want to hide any of the not so bubbly and outgoing aspects of me ((this blog makes that a little hard to do anyway)). I have thankfully been lucky enough to have met some really accepting people who have not even batted an eyelid about any of the stuff I have shared with them ((I mean unless they are all lying and do think I am super weird haha)).

It’s hard though, and I have already realised that it is far easier to pretend everything is ok and go along with everyone else, but I have decided to embrace the JOMO

It does and probably will always worry me that if people know me, like properly know me, then they won’t like me, inevitably making friendships and relationships a lot harder. I have to constantly remind myself that if people don’t like me ((then fuck ‘em)) then fair play to them I probably wouldn’t like them either. Surprisingly ((or unsurprisingly)), it’s made my life, particularly at uni a lot easier. People have been really supportive and understanding and I think it’s made the friendships more genuine, something I didn’t have when I was at Edinburgh ((Ella that clearly does not include you, you are practically family now, what could be more genuine than that?)).

In saying this, I have found that revealing that I suffer with an illness has sometimes made it difficult to move on from that fact. By labelling myself, in my opinion I have got ownership and control of that label but at the same time I feel like I have created an expectation of not being able to cope. In other words, I have literally set myself up for failure. I stand by the fact that I have done the right thing in being open about myself. In doing this though, I have noticed people treating me differently, which at some points I am thankful for because boy do I need all the support I can get, but at other points I think “yup everyone thinks you are freak who needs to be congratulated for eating…WTF is that all about” and then I wish for it all to go away. It is such a double-edged sword I know, help her then she’ll be annoyed, don’t help her she’ll be annoyed. I am not saying either one is the right one ((please don’t stop helping me)), but has been a different kind of problem I had never considered would be an issue.

One fab thing about being more open and honest with the people I have met has been that in return, other people tend to also be more open and honest with you – which can make things a little less scary.




There is no middle ground

I had so many ideas last week, I was so motivated. In my head I had a whole plan of blog posts that I wanted to share, because there really has been so many positive moments that I am sososososo chuffed with.

Putting my awesomeness to one side, I didn’t start this blog to show off about my life or for it to be another one of those romantic recovery stories that get thrown about, or for it to turn into “how awesome is Olivia page” ((as much as I would love that)). At the same time, it would be wrong for me to ignore the progress that I have made, and to not admit that I am beyond proud of myself!!! but it would also be wrong to only share that stuff, because in reality I am far from being a happy chappy 100% of the time, i don’t think is. ((Plus no one really wants to read about how awesome someone is, we have the rest of social media doing that for us AND, we are all way too nosy for that, well I know I am)).

When I wrote my last post, I was SO on it, I had such a positive outlook for the week ahead of me. ((I even booked a trip to visit my gem in Liverpool, massive love to everyone up there you are all fab xoxo)). A couple of months ago I wouldn’t have been able to do that, there was a lot of socialising, there was a lot of adapting to meal times and putting myself in vulnerable positions. Yup, I survived that, I even enjoyed bits of it. What some people won’t be aware of or even consider is that daily events, have a big impact on me. It’s a bit like a hangover, you know where you wake up from a heavy one where you felt fab or different in some way but eventually you don’t feel as good or as strong anymore. It becomes effort to think, you don’t want to get up or do anything, too much or too little of anything kinda makes you feel a bit ill, oh and don’t forget the heavy whirling of thoughts that spin round your brain… ((I mean that is definitely how my hangovers have felt like in the past)). That is how I can feel after any day, whether, it is as big as an entire wedding day, or just commuting to university. I sometimes need some space to recover/pause because I have been dealing and managing a whole array of thoughts, emotions and experiences in my head ((which is bloomin exhausting)). Even after blogging, I have to take a break, breathe, cry or watch something and try completely switching off. I am not sure if it’s because I am constantly aware all the time, of my surroundings and situations etc and I feel like I feel things in extremes, whether it’s feelings of anxiety or happiness ((there is no middle ground)).

After several busy weeks or daily hassles and a variety of things going on, I have switched off ((not totally out of choice)), and have lost a huge amount of motivation. I know loads of people who have said similar things more generally, either about work or school and I really do all feel ya pain. However, when I feel like this over things I love it can be difficult – but that is the beauty of depression, it is sapping and numbing and almost impossible to ignore.

I understand there are a lot of WTF moments in this post ((and life in general)) but it gives a bit of an insight into the truth. Depression, eating disorders, and other illnesses are very tiring, and very hard to manage 100% of the time. With that in mind, I haven’t been able to stick to my original plan and show off about my eating out, and meeting so many wonderful new people, but hey, it is what it is.




We had a few incidents involving a weird green slop, some fish that still had its eyes and some very disappointed hosts

I love being logical and pretending to be organised so I thought I would chat about all the madness that’s been going on in chronological order ((I made a list (love a list) and it made the most sense to talk things through from start to finish)). What doesn’t make sense though is the title of this post, other than today when this post goes live it is halloween and in Spain they call it the ‘Day of the dead’ #funfact.

2 weeks into Uni and I thought it would be a great idea to hop on a plane to Spain and have a jolly tennis coaching for a bit. Well, it wasn’t quite like that. Back in May this year I had previously been with my parents to Spain on their tennis holiday in La manga because they had pretty much no other choice but to take me. I was not in a good place at all, I had just come back from Edinburgh and to put it plainly, I couldn’t be away from them ((also the pressure for my sister who would have had to watch out for me would have been way too much, yes, I was that much of a nightmare)). When we went on the May trip to La manga I wasn’t me, I didn’t want to be there, I was a bit of burden on my parents and it just wasn’t the ideal holiday everyone had imagined. The nature of the holiday on top of that was extremely social so that made things a billion times harder. Mind you, I love a bit of Spanish sun and in general I love being on holiday, so I wasn’t complaining too much at the time.


This time around though, I can’t exaggerate enough how much fun I had. While it was literally the exact same holiday it was SOOOOO different ((which is a good thing, I think..)) I was coaching, I was actually playing ((in my opinion)) really good tennis, having fun, enjoying meals out(!!!!) and socialising with everyone. I think the main difference was that I actually wanted to be there this time and enjoy my time in Spain ((who wouldn’t)). This October trip was initially only booked for my mum and dad. When my mum booked it, ((I am pretty sure it was basically the week after we returned from the May trip)) October seemed like a long way off and long long time for me to make progress and be in a much better place, where I would be able to stay at home and not gate crash their trip…again. In August ((I think.. or July)) I had to be added to the trip. I was being very stubborn and making no effort to even try and get better so mum had no choice but to bring me along again. As it turns out, I think I ended up having the most fun. My dad lost a fair few of his matches and mum decided that on a tennis holiday she would also take up running and got herself a back injury, I think I was the only one to leave the trip smiling.


The closer the trip was getting, I was making more and more progress. I have started University at King’s College London, I have been cooperative and my mood has only been getting better ((Thank God for Septempber!!!))

AND yes, you didn’t read it wrong, I even enjoyed meals out this time. Back in May we had a few incidents involving a weird green slop, some fish that still had its eyes and some very disappointed hosts ((I am sure anyone would have ran away from the table crying if they had been unexpectedly faced with that, again to Ann, Phil and Jerry I am sorry but we still had a fab evening)). Moving on from that, this time there were no tears, and some meals out. Admittedly, it still filled me with anxiety and if I had had the choice I wouldn’t have gone but, I did and I am still standing. Nothing terrible happened, I got to chat to some lovely wonderful people and you know what it was kind of tasty! It was so nice for a couple of nights to feel normal, I enjoyed doing a normal thing. After this though, and feeling this sense of ‘normality’ I started hating feeling normal and what normal meant. I started questioning whether people were going to have expectations from me now like I am back to the old me and people won’t care or something (WTF?!?!!). Just because I ate out doesn’t mean I am “cured” or “recovered” more I calmed the storm…for a bit, I managed my disorder and I think that is such an achievement and for now I can’t ask for anything more. So yes, there is a little piece of me that is still scared of getting better and trying to understand that people apparently do still care even if you can look after yourself.

But hey, one step at a time!





I have managed what I could, and I personally think I have done bloody well.

I am not even joking when I say that my house at the minute is freezing! We currently have no heating because something is being done to the boiler ((who knows, not sure that my dad even knows what is going on)) so I am probably feeling the cold even more than I should be ((thank god for UGG boots, I will always been a fan)). But then my mum did kindly remind me that it is November this week. What the actual heck. October disappeared from right beneath me, it has been a very strange month with a lot of stuff going on with a lot of ‘OH MY GOD’s’ thrown about. Genuinely though, oh my god October has been mad.

At the beginning I was in Spain, the thought of that warm sun seems like a very distant memory now as I drown myself in tea and coffee in my best efforts to stay warm. I was there coaching tennis everyday on the beautiful clay courts on the resort of La Manga Club – it was the dream ((the company was also fab, love you mum and dad)). The middle of October or more specifically the on 21st October 2017 ((which in the past two years I must have said literally 1,000 times and has been long awaited)) my sister finally got married!!!!!! It was genuinely the most magical, fairytale like wedding you could imagine, we did not hold back on any of the planning, preparing and partying.

It has been great, fantastic, incredible ((all the adjectives)). It’s also been exhausting, and amidst all that fun there have been some wobbles. Being busy does take its toll and has meant I haven’t blogged at all but I do have some quiet time ahead ((YES)) so the plan is to fill my page with as much as possible. Including all the nitty gritty stuff, truths about actually how draining and tiring and difficult having a full on life is and lets just say I welcome the break with open arms.

OHH YEAH! and amongst all of that I still had university to attend. Spain did make that a little trickier and I did my best to stay up-to-date with all the work from my sun lounger… although that often led to a little snooze ((definitely well deserved)). Then who can really concentrate on anything when the biggest most important event of your sisters life is about to happen, so I prioritised packing confetti into 50 tiny little bags, over trying to complete any of the 4 deadlines that I had due this month.

So yeah, it has been go go go, life has stopped for no one. I think I could 100% say that in the past few weeks I have felt EVERY single emotion I possibly could, I have cried pretty much over everything, good and bad.

It’s these everyday life events that we can’t always control the timing of and sometimes they happen all at once ((that seems to happen all the time with me)), which is extremely overwhelming, but that is the nature of life. Before, I would have said absolutely not. There would have been no way I could have dealt with all of that physically or mentally. I would have quite happily hidden behind my depression or anorexia and not been able to do any of it or even wanted to, let alone actually enjoyed it. Instead of hiding, I sort of just went with it ((to put it very simply)), and I have managed what I could, and I personally think I have done bloody well. There have been a lot of achievements and a lot of moving forward, but at the same time it has also highlighted bits that I am still not so good at or still find difficult ((I am not superwoman, that’s for sure)).

Thank fully now I have a week off uni ((I think I am supposed to work during this time but…it’s all about having balance, right?)). I want to share all the thoughts, feels and things that October faced me with. Prepare yourself for a lot of ‘WTF?’ moments and some ‘YES YOU GOT THIS GIRL’ moments.