#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.

 

New Year, New Update

it feels a bit weird when a lot of friends know some of the crazy things that go on in my head

WordPress kindly gave me a reminder the other day, that it had been over a month since I last checked my own blog, it’s actually almost been 2 months since I last posted. I would love to say how busy I have been over Christmas and the New Year period, which made it impossible for me to blog but no, that’s a lie ((well I did have exams so I am counting that as busyness)). I haven’t had much motivation to blog, it was becoming a chore and I noticed that I was becoming quite anxious when writing or trying to think about what people would want to read and would find interesting. I also started seeing and speaking to a lot more people who have read my posts and again that increased my anxiety and the pressure ((it feels a bit weird when a lot of friends know some of the crazy things that go on in my head)). Yesterday however, someone messaged me asking for an update and when I was going to do another blog post ((shout-out to Megan!!)). So, she gave me a little bit of motivation and inspo to share what’s been going on in the brain of Olivia.

It’s been a tad all over the place with ups and downs but as my mum put it, I am just sort of plodding along, as everyone does from time to time. Taking each moment as it comes and to try not over-think, analyse anything but I mean that is in the ideal world let’s be honest.

The holidays were fab! I got to spend time with my family and really enjoyed myself. In comparison to last year when I was very unwell, this year seemed like a dream. I mean as dreamy as it could have been considering there is a lot of emphasis on food but I did my best at tackling it ((don’t get me wrong it was extremely difficult, but I am still standing and nothing completely disastrous happened)) . I focused on sharing the weeks with my amazing family creating some really wonderful memories #goals.

January on the other hand, not as good. The first week of Jan though is a new year, new me attitude, where everyone is kinda loving the fresh start and everyone properly embraces the new year spirit. Instead, I took some fairly large steps backwards, I turned to alcohol again and started becoming a tad self-destructive, which was a bit of a reality check and meant I’ve had to re-think and change a few things ((but that is a COMPLETELY different blog post or potential video???)). Second week of Jan falls, and the Christmas joys are starting to diminish, the novelty of writing 2018 on everything fades and tiredness starts to slowly take its toll ((plus I had some really hefty exams, which for me were a massive struggle, but hey! I did them)). Then Blue Monday, well, it really was a very blue Monday, as in it literally rained ALL day and so naturally everyone’s moods ((well my mood definitely did)) just follows ((although 50% off at slug and lettuce did make it a little better, recommend for sure, Steph will back me up on that one #vegannacho’s)). God only knows what next week will bring ((bring on February!!!)). Easy to say January did not fail to live up to its expectations, I do feel reassured that I am not alone during this weird/wonderful month and I can assure you are not alone in it either.

At the moment ((literally right at this minute, things may change lol)) I feel quite motivated to share more posts over the next couple of weeks, because I have had to face a few things that I would like to acknowledge/share ((for want of a better word)) speak about etc. I am all about breaking down that stigma and I refuse to feel lonely in this madness, because I know that is the worst feeling.

You will defo be hearing from me soon! xxx

OOPS

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.

xxx

 

Responsibilities…EW

Does it mean that people stop caring for me?

I have finally found some quiet time ((breathe)) to do some writing ((aren’t you lucky)). It’s been so weird, I have gone from having a lot of time doing things at my own pace and doing little bits here and there. Now, my day consists of making sure I get the correct train at the correct time ((so far not too many mistakes)), making sure I get to correct lectures and seminars on time as well as getting my daily dose of caffeine.

From this I have realised I’m not actually that great at adulting – being able to function as a proper human in the real world ((I commend you all because you all do it and I know it’s hard and to those who are think What the hell is she on about? Well you are winning at life)).

In reflection, I think this is what I struggled with in Edinburgh, which spurred the relapse of depression and it’s progression into my anorexia. But I find that it is quite the balancing act, making sure I have enough clean pants and socks, doing all my work as well as socialising OH and squeezing a bit of time for myself ((one of them I thought would have to go, So I dropped myself)). This time I don’t want that to happen but already I am finding being solely responsible for myself challenging ((no likes responsibilities)). Since the beginning of the year I have had someone ((shoutout to my mum)) there with me all the time, telling me it’s snack or lunch time and making sure I’m doing everything I am supposed to. I mean I am very much an adult now so I shouldn’t need this sort of looking after. Honestly, it was what I needed and I think every now and again there is nothing wrong wanting someone to look after you because it’s lovely being loved. However, I want to live my own full life so I have got to start doing all these adult normal things for my self.

((confession time)) Thinking about all of this has scared me. I sometimes get thoughts that if I’m “normal” again then what does this mean? Does it mean that people stop caring for me? I wonder whether I will be forgotten or not liked? (?!??!) I understand these thoughts come from my illness but nevertheless remain on my mind. I worry that my irrational side will dominate. I have seen how easily it could be for me to fall back into unhealthy habits if I’m not 110% on it. Admittedly, I haven’t been that great, there have been moments where irrational thoughts override HOWEVER these thoughts are only thoughts and moments rather than directing my life and I am learning ways to manage all of it ((I just need to keep the motivation going)). Keeping this is up and maintaining this mindset does daunt me slightly but being at home does make it a billion trillion times easier and means adulting doesn’t last ALLLLL day.

THANKFULLY I do have a mini break from all of this busyness and I will be blessed ((fingers crossed)) with some sun(!!!) I can quite literally take a step back from running round like a headless chicken between Cambridge and London to running round like a headless chicken on a tennis court.

Adios Mis Amigos!! xxx

GUESS WHAT!!

I think some reactions ((I know mine was…)) were along the lines of “Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit.”

I realise that the previous two blog posts have not been completely cheerful… but hey that’s life! This time however, I thought I would update the world with some exciting news/big developments in my life that not everyone knows about ((Pause for suspense)).

I’ve gone back to university(!!!) Unfortunately or fortunately ((I haven’t decided on that one yet)) not back to Edinburgh but to London. Yup, just to make life a little bit harder I have joined one of the busiest but greatest cities in the world ((my anxiety loves it)).

When I first applied through UCAS in June I had literally days to churn out my application but King’s College London surprisingly said yes ((WHOOP)). When I first applied I don’t think it necessarily came from a good place, I saw it more as another way to get out the house for as long as possible and to distract and escape myself from myself. When I was given an offer, I think some reactions ((I know mine was…)) were along the lines of “Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit.” Even the conversation about me ACTUALLY going was on the hush hush and as a family we didn’t really speak about it until about a week or two ago. I had to prove to myself ((and many others)) that I did/do have the capability to look after myself and that I was genuinely ready for what has been a really intense week.  What would be the point if I couldn’t?! I do think I am ready and my reasons for going are endless! but are 100% for the right reasons now.

Don’t worry, I haven’t gone completely crazy I am living at home ((Thank god, no one wants a repeat of Edinburgh)) so that does mean I have to endure an hour commute, which isn’t going too bad ((provided I travel off-peak and have my noise cancelling headphones on)).

I am half way through my first week and it’s going. It’s been hard. I’ve had some challenges in terms of dealing with food and managing my mood ((it’s a long old day you know)), especially in such a social situation. At home it was easy, if I felt uneasy I would do some yoga, or walk my dog, anything that puts me at ease, but here I can’t really throw myself down into child’s pose in the middle of a lecture ((I mean I probably could but not sure how well that would go down)). I feel like I have coped and managed for this week so I am really pleased. Reminding myself to take one day at a time has been quite important. I have this tendency to over think things, which leads me to getting worked up quite quickly, Monday being an example of that. I was worrying about everything, there was so…is so much to think about; being able to look after myself, getting on the right train, actually learning and doing the work, not to mention all the socialising. Oh yeah! AND making time for me.

Despite juggling all of those things I have already noticed what a comfort coming home has been. Knowing my family will be at home ((most importantly my puppy)) has made starting King’s so much easier and relaxing ((along with not being so hungover and ill from freshers, and actually following what on earth is going on, there has been a tonne of info)).

Bearing in mind it has only been a week, I think sustaining all of this will be one of the many challenges ((many blog posts that I share)). It’s going to be hard but I’m going to try. I want to do this to highlight that my illness hasn’t stopped me from going after what I want, BUT if I let it, it will stop me from being able to live the full life that I am making. Happy days #pepspeech.

 

Xxx

 

One step forward, Two steps back

I went from “yes I am overcoming this blip” to the depression and anorexia completely over taking.

Since my last post I have had some amazing comments along with lots of warming messages ((keep em coming)) , which has been so uplifting and motivating and I thank EVERYONE and anyone who actually reads these posts in general.

Not going to lie though, after I posted last weeks blog and received some responses I’ve had lots of chats with people telling me “I have turned a corner”, or that they are “proud of how far I have come”. Hearing that was so touching and knowing that I have a lot of friends and family that care for me has been one of the major factors in moving forward. I know there is truth in what people have been saying and everything so far has been a massive step and achievement. BUT… I felt so overwhelmed and actually quite scared of what all of that meant. I felt this enormous expectation to suddenly be “better”. ((does that mean being weight restored??? am I already better because I can discuss my problems with lots of people??? will I ever be better?!?!)) My head and the side of me that is a tad self-destructive went on over drive with many strange thoughts. I went from “yes I am overcoming this blip” to the depression and Anorexia completely over taking. !!ALERT – this will sound bizarre!! It made me feel really disappointed and ashamed in my-self from all angles. Both sides of me felt like failures, a failed Anorexic at the same time failing at recovery ((literally no win)). Feeling like this is draining, it’s a constant argument between the rational side of me which thinks I’m crazy to have thoughts like this, like why on earth would you do or say that, while the irrational side of me is extremely nasty and stubborn, and recently has been winning a lot more of these arguments.

The expression “one step forward, two steps back” really resonates with me. Wanting to get better and handing control of my food over was my step forward, but putting what I was preaching into practice and my reaction to this step actually took me back quite a bit.

Weird i know! But it’s the reality. In anyone’s day regardless of what is going on, there are moments where I am sure you feel effortless and on top of things but moments that also throw themselves at you which I am sure you wished had not had happened ((and can tend to be the ones that you unfortunately remember and feel the most)). Well it’s a bit like that but I flick between this, for what feels like all day and every day.

I have entered what lots of people call the “recovery” phase ((possibly the expression my mum and I hate the most – – a blog post for another day though)) I have been trying to keep my motivation up and have been reading stories and quotes of others overcoming whatever ill health they have been going through ((you stumble across so many clichés it is unreal!!)). I know they are here to help but honestly, I find the quotes specifically quite funny and condescending rather than constructive, or motivating ((that is probably the irrational side of me telling me not to listen or find them helpful…bit of a double-edged sword I know)). They make me think that, magically, one day  a bridge will appear leading me to a world of “recovery” or I will wake up and suddenly have arrived in this place of being better. Maybe that will happen but I am thinking maybe not and it is more something I am going to own, embrace, live with and manage a lot more successfully than I am at the moment. It is part of me but it doesn’t have to define me ((I feel like I should whoop at the end of that sentence)).

I love a success story, from whatever illness, they are empowering and provide hope to everyone and there is something so comforting to hear that we can be strong. I have a long way to go before I sound like any of the success stories have heard but this is all part of my story good and bad. Right now it is just not going very smoothly or as easily as I may have have hoped ((as it turns out it is not as easy as it may look… definitely not as easy as just eating another slice of cake – – (probably the most overheard and ignorant sentence to be said) but if it were that simple I wouldn’t be in this situation)) but maybe one day!!!

xxx

#Let’schat

I was browsing through my twitter this morning and Rachel Kelly ((who I have definitely mentioned before, because she is awesome)) shared this article

which I thought I would share with anyone who fancies an interesting read. Basically, it continues that chat about all things mental health related and I think it is so important to address these conversations and I agree that boys, men and generally everyone is worried about the reaction they might get ((I know I was when I first started openly talking about some of my own problems)).

#Let’schat.

xxx