#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))


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.




WHAT A BLOODY FANTASTIC WEEKEND!!! Never have I laughed, chatted and enjoyed myself for so long in such a long time. I’m going to toot my own horn for a little bit and say that I am proud of myself! I organised a bloody hen party, like how cool is that ((well to me it is anyway)) and to top it all off everyone had fun… including me(!!) I am filled with such a sense of achievement. I managed money, organised activities, bossed people about, socialised and shared food with some amazing girls ((this deserves a place on my CV right?)) I am honestly, still in a bit of shock at how it all happened so smoothly but I’m gonna own it and I can’t stop smiling about it… SososoosooSOoo many achievements WOO.

Taking a tiny step back from all of this euphoria, I have slightly crashed. I am the first person to admit that after a full on weekend of smiling and entertaining, while it was awesome, it is extremely tiring and demanding both physically and mentally, especially if you are not used to it. I have learnt that it is beyond important to make sure that I unwind and have some down time… like seriously important.

So yesterday, still a little bit wired from everything, I thought it would be appropriate to write my “self-care: Part 3” post, sharing some of the really lovely ways I unwind and things that I find particularly useful when it comes to a bit of self-love ((this post will eventually make an appearance at some point I am sure)). I started writing that post and it was really fun and I was enjoying myself lots, but as I re-read my first sentence and had some much needed chats with my mum and sister I realised I was flat out lying. I definitely was not sitting here wearing my favourite lipstick, waiting for my bubble bath to run to read my latest book, after a wholesome nourishing dinner. Truthfully, I have slightly neglected myself over the past couple of days and not put into practice any of the self-care I have spoken or wanted to speak about. As much as I really really wanted to share how balanced I was being and to emphasise the idea that when there are busy times you also need the quiet times, it was just not true at that moment and I was just adding to that cliché ((it is a lot harder than you think)). At the same time, I think I was trying to make myself believe that I had actually done those things and if I wrote it down and let other people read what I had supposedly done then it must have happened?!!? Crazy I know…

Surrounding myself with family and friends means so much to me and I truly loved every second of it, but I did feel a little all over the place after and really put my anxiety to the test. My body was telling me to rest but my head was whizzing around, I was kinda stuck in a lose-lose situation. ((Please say I’m not alone on that one?!)) I now realise, at that point I should have thought “Ok, self-love and care are your best friends today” when in reality I panicked and after a few tears and sitting in child’s pose on my yoga mat did I start to feel a bit calmer ((Ohhhh, the beauty of hindsight)).

It’s Tuesday and I am feeling almost fully recuperated, but still somewhat slack on the self-care front. I have set some self-care tasks for myself today and throughout the week to really make sure I keep myself well. Sorry I haven’t really sugar coated this post but after I realised what I was doing, I wanted to be as honest as possible… just shows what a long old journey this all is… not to forget how far I have come though!!!







Self-care: Part 2

Another side to self-care…

First off, my featured image for todays post is arguably unrelated to the content but I struggled finding an image to reflect what I am writing about so am using it as an opportunity to share how unbelievably cute my dog is… I know right!

Okay let’s get to it..

Initially when I was first introduced to self-care I don’t know about you but I immediately think of painting my nails and brushing my hair, extremely girly and beauty based ideas that focus on my body rather than my head. I think that’s because I never really make time and have never really made time to do those sorts of things, ((I was more of the picker and biter of nails and the “can I get away with using dry shampoo for one more day if it is in a bun” type of person.))

So when I think of looking after myself I think of things very aesthetically… I don’t know why but that is what springs to my mind first. It is probably stemmed from the illusion that if you look good then you feel good too. This while it sounds nice and like it would work and admittedly it does on some occasions it is not always the case. I could be ready head to toe and look absolutely flawless but if I feel crap on the inside, what I look like on the outside will not matter one bit…trust me on that one.

Caring for myself is not ALL about treating myself to nice things and looking after myself on the outside ((note: that it’s still so important and I stand by the fact that bath bombs are fantastic)) but I also have to ensure that I take time to look after myself internally. Not just by nourishing my body with delicious food but also with amazing thoughts, I have to take a moment and think about what is going on in my head. I have to make sure that when I don’t have caring thoughts or I am slipping towards a more negative way of thinking and that I am quick to change and recognise what is going and give my-self a bit of love ((this is much much much easier said than done)). I do try remind myself of all things lovely though, most of the time it is helped alongside a cuddle with my puppy and a chat to friend, because what else can friends be used for other than to blow up your ego a little bit ((haha jokes I love you all)).

This part of self-care can often be forgotten about and is for sure the hardest, and definitely the aspect which I over look and needs the most work ((probably why I never think to do it)). I mean it is really not as easy as lighting a candle is it? It takes an alteration in thoughts, which if you are like me do not like being messed with. I am still learning ways to manage my “wobbly thoughts” and find out what works for me ((because they are still frequent and like yesterday can be very hard to deal with especially when any form of self-care doesn’t work at that time)). For example, telling myself “I am great” didn’t quite do the job, but counting my breaths definitely calms the chatter for a bit. I have learnt (the hard way) it is very much a trial and error type situation, which is taking a very long time but slowly I am creating a little list of different ways to look after me.

I would really love it if anyone has any ways they specifically deal with their wobbles, because I am starting to run out of ideas so need to pinch a few..message or comment!!!!

Lots of love xxx