#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to say or when to say it.The disorder made her shout over things I couldn’t understand, cry at meal times and become withdrawn.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.


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


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!





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


I mean right now, being able to socialise around food is almost on par with being able to walk again after breaking my leg.


It feels like I haven’t blogged or discussed what has been going on in my life aside from all the fun events and strange things I think about. I have had a lot to think about over the past weeks and haven’t really felt like writing and whenever I did write I felt I was being disingenuous and boring. It’s times like this though that I want to share, when I don’t feel tip top or I am dealing with something, because life is like that and it is the truth.

The past 3 weeks have been a big stepping stone in terms of my eating disorder, and I want to give an honest insight to what is going on ((bear with me though, this is quite nerve racking)).

I am now in my 3rd week of relinquishing control over everything relating to food ((apart from being allowed to bake my family their fav brownies and biscuits)). There have been numerous chats with Doctors, Health care professionals and family over ways of managing my eating disorder but nothing was really getting through to me. I kept lying to everyone ((myself included)) that tomorrow I will get better or next week I will get better but nothing changed. I was referred to the eating disorders clinic at my local hospital and was put on a waiting list(?!?!?!) but soon removed because my BMI wasn’t low enough and they were oversubscribed with patients. That phased my family and I quite a lot and we felt quite lost without any guidance, my GP was amazing and did the best that they could.

Few months later and I wish I could say that we found the perfect answer to all our problems or that there was a particular moment where I was suddenly like, ok yes I feel good lets get cracking with recovery. It has definitely been more gradual and as my mood improves the more I want to start living a full life rather than ((what my family call)) a half-life. Currently my body is not in a state where it can live up to the life that I want for myself so now I have to get it to a state which it’s working at its best. I already feel good about feeling like this because it shows to myself how much I am kicking depression in the butt again.

To many people’s surprise or not surprise this has been hard. Handing all of this over has come with ((to state the obvious)) a lot more food, which nicely pairs with a considerable amount of anxiety and some very concerning thoughts, of which need a lot of managing ((I am exhausted.. Ironic huh?))

At the moment, I see food as fuel, like it’s medicine. Similar to a physical illness in order to get better you sometimes need medicines, for me, my medicine is food. I am slowly understanding and learning again what food is all about and I have achieved so much, ((which I am gonna pat myself on the back for)) I went out for lunch…whoop. Even writing that I rolled my eyes ((I am sure you did too)) and I realise how ridiculous that sounds ((another reason to overcome this)) but for anyone going through any illness, usually it’s the little things, the day to day things, that the illness takes from you and you finally get back, you find feel like and often are the most significant achievements. I mean right now, being able to socialise around food is almost on par with being able to walk again after breaking my leg.

Illness can be long-term, short-term, physical or mental, whatever the combination I know there is no quick fix and takes soosososos much time and effort. I have A LOT of amazing events and changes coming up, that I want to be my whole self for so need all the encouragement I can get! This post has been very truthful and I feel like I have revealed a lot ((so be nice)) but I want to provide some insight on a topic that in my eyes is not spoken about enough ((at all)), especially while either someone is suffering or overcoming it, even if some parts aren’t so jazzy.