Thursday, 12 February 2015

Marya Hornbacher: Wasted And The New Afterword

Hi everyone! Today, I'm here to talk about one of my favourite people and one of my favourite books. Marya Hornbacher is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. Writing some of the most interesting, honest accounts of mental health and lecturing at events about mental health, she's one of the most inspiring people I've come across.

Writing her first book 'Wasted' about her battle and life with anorexia and bulimia started a much needed conversation, not only in the medical profession but also in the real world. Her raw account of her daily struggles with an eating disorder, opened up the eyes of the public. What was once called the 'slimmers disease' and glamourised to a sickening extent, now has more meaning, more reality and more depth.

I first read 'Wasted' when I was about 15 and without knowing being slowly gripped by my own inner demons. What most people believe is that Marya's work was triggering but actually, I found it more, comforting. Comforting may seem like a strange word to use but let me explain. When you're alone at night, trying to rest your eyes in bed, in the dark, but all you can hear is the seductive voices of your food cupboards downstairs in the think you're losing it, you're scared, sweating and desperately trying not to give into those damn feel alone. And feeling alone is an all too common and all too dangerous feeling when you have an eating disorder. So, when I picked up 'Wasted', expecting to read yet another glamourised, unrealistic account of the daily anguish of having to listen to those bloody voices, I was comforted. Comforted knowing that I wasn't alone, I wasn't going completely crazy and if I wanted it, I could get help.

The book has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past and to this day. It's controversial and raw but you know what, it got people finally talking about Eating Disorders. The book has also been blamed for providing triggering content to those suffering, using the book to gain tips and tricks to make themselves sicker and 'the best at eating disorders' but I have to disagree. I can only speak for myself when talking about triggers. I've used pro-anorexic websites before, where 'ana' is your friend and this whole disorder is a lifestyle. I've looked at 'thinspiration' as a means to get myself motivated to starve myself that little bit better but when using all of this, I was aware on some level of what I was doing. Today, recovering, I know my limits, I know to avoid certain images, conversations, facts and figures. So to blame one author, who wrote about the absolute struggle, torture of having an eating disorder, the author whose honesty opened up conversations that we weren't having previously, to finally take away the stereotype that an Eating Disorder is glamorous, I believe is unfair. Here's what Marya said about the topic herself:

"My feeling about Wasted is if you’re using it to trigger yourself on purpose, that’s your problem. If you’re using it as a how-to, that’s your problem — you’re misusing it. However, if you are using it and it simply triggers you, put it down. Walk away. I don’t want to say I’m not responsible for what I said. We have to own the impact of our work, and that’s a very painful thing to own" taken from an interview by Alex Ronan

Last year, Marya Hornbacher re-released 'Wasted' with a brand new afterword about recovery. I read it through just a few days ago and was left almost in tears. She is a firm believer that recovery from an Eating Disorder IS possible! 100% recovery can be done and it's about time we started sharing that news around. Her words touched me and although leaving me in limbo (one leg in recovery, the other firmly in my illness), it got me thinking and that alone, I'm forever grateful for. If you're recovering from an Eating Disorder, I strongly recommend reading the afterword. It's heartfelt, honest and above all else, it's positive.

Today, Marya is still writing and travelling to events as a speaker about Eating Disorders and the road to full recovery. She also speaks about Bi-Polar Disorder and other mental health topics like medication. She's truly an inspiration, intelligent, witty and most importantly honest.

Please check out her website and also look out for her on Youtube!

Thank You 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Pomeranians: Not Suitable For Handbags

Today, I thought I'd write about something a little Pomeranian puppy! Walking through the park everyday, with my pom Bilbo, I've started to realise just how misunderstood this breed really is.

"does he sleep on the bed?"...nope
"he's so tiny, does he like just being carried around?"...nope
"does he want cuddles all the time?"...nope
"you could pop him in a handbag"...nope
"it's a Paris Hilton dog!"...NOPE!

Because of their size and celebrity following, Pomeranians now have this reputation of being cute, cuddly, dressed up little things that you can pop in a handbag and take shopping with you but honestly, they couldn't be further from that (apart from the cute god they are CUTE!)

Pomeranians have actually decreased by 50% in size, they now weigh up to 4kg whereas they used to weigh up to 23kg! They are a spitz type of dog and were bred in Pomerania which today is North Eastern Germany and North Western Poland. The Pomeranian is a descendent of the German Spitz and was a working dog. It wasn't until Queen Victoria took a liking to the breed, that they got bred down in size. Their history is still in the mindset of a modern pom and if you own one, you'll know how hard working and head strong they can be.  These dogs were also sled dogs and used as alert/guard dogs. 

The Pomeranian's temperament is very different to a lot of other dogs. They are an incredibly 'cat like' dog breed, independent, head strong and territorial. They are also very loyal to their owners, protective and loving. A Pomeranian loves to work, so training is one of the best things you can do with your Pom and it also helps with bonding. Being so head strong, they also require a lot of training to show them that they are not the 'boss' of the household because it is very easy for them to let this happen. They are also very demanding of your attention and will let you know what they need with a bark. Interactive toys and puzzles are amazing for Poms if you teach them to use the toys from a young age. It's important for this breed to be given time alone, either leaving the house for an hour or so or ignoring your Poms attention seeking. If you don't, you will have a very demanding little pup on your hands. 

This breed is also highly intelligent making them so much fun to train and they thrive when learning new tricks and commands. They are also highly energetic! Don't be fooled by their small size, these dogs can walk a long way and need daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. We take Bilbo out for two walks a day, one in the morning which lasts about 1 hour and one walk in the evening which is about 20 minutes. 

Pomeranians are easy to spot in the crowd due to their beautifully, fluffy coats and curly tails. They require brushing every other day to prevent matting and clipping every 1-2 months. It's super easy to groom a Pom by yourself but I'd definitely recommend taking your pup to the groomers to be clipped. They can also have a 'bear cut' which I'm really not a fan of (I don't see the point in getting a Pomeranian then sheering all it's fur off?) but if it's a style that you like, maybe just opt for it in the hotter months. 

This breed is also very alert. They are light sleepers and will bark immediately at any noise that may threaten their environment. They are also incredibly protective of their owners so barking at people can become a problem if not addressed when they are young. 

I really hope that you've found this post helpful and maybe helped you if you were thinking about getting a Pomeranian. My little Bilbo is an absolute dream to live with but it comes from hard work and dedication to training and understanding the Pomeranian mentality. These dogs maybe tiny but they have huge personalities and are so much more than 'handbag dogs'. Below is just a quick list of things to think about before buying a Pomeranian, a little check list to see whether this breed is right for you:

  • Do you have time to exercise your Pom?
  • Will you be able to set time aside for puppy training classes?
  • Do you have small children? (Pomeranians are not suited to homes with small children because their frames are very fragile)
  • Can you dedicate time to groom your Pom regularly?
  • Will you be able to socialise your Pom? (Pom's that do not socialise can turn aggressive and over protective)
  • Will you be out for several hours at a time? (although Pom's are fiercely independent, they are also loyal to their owners and thrive off having company)
With all of that, Pomeranian's are an amazing dog to have, they are loyal, beautiful, fun and smart. I really hope that this helps anyone who is looking for a Pom or just helped in understanding this very misunderstood breed. 

Thanks For Reading. 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Time To Change: Let's Talk!

hello again! Today, I'm here to talk about talking. Time To Change is a campaign set up by leading mental health charities, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. The aim is to squash the stigma around mental health and to start talking about it! Mental Health, even in 2015 is still so misunderstood and I truly believe that one of the reasons for this is because we just don't talk about it. There are a number of adverts on T.V that talk about other serious illnesses like Cancer but it's incredibly rare to come across one about Eating Disorders or Depression. Why is this?

The more people talk about mental health, the better in so many ways. Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness so why are we so silent about them?

By taking the plunge, starting a conversation and openly talking about mental health not only lessens the stigma but it can actually save lives. Dealing with Mental illness is hard enough but coupled with isolation can make it even worse. Even texting a friend, just asking how they are can be a huge help. 

Tomorrow is Time To Talk Day and I'm here to ask you to start talking. It doesn't have to be something grand, every little helps and it really does. Here are a few ideas to start that conversation about Mental Health:


Online can be a great way to start a conversation about Mental Health. If you're a blogger with experience of mental illness, why not share your story? Your words might be the boost that someone needs. Twitter is a great way to share and connect with other, use the #TimeToTalk to explain why you're taking part in the day. Facebook is another amazing social media network to share why you think it's important to talk about mental health. 

Friends and Family

Texting, phone calls, emails and visits are all good ways to start a conversation. You might know someone who is currently in hospital due to their mental health, now might be the perfect time to go and see them or call them. When I was inpatient for my eating disorder, getting visits from my amazing boyfriend made hospital life that little bit easier. Though my mood told a different story, seeing my boyfriend everyday helped me so much and kept me going. 

At Work

Work is a great place to start a conversation about mental health. Whether it's a little chat over a cup of tea during a break or an informal meeting to talk about mental health in the workplace, it all helps and your words could be helping a colleague who might be struggling. 

Below are some links to other suggestions, including a banner for Facebook, a profile pic for Twitter and a blogger icon:

Sometimes, when battling a mental illness, you can feel like you're losing your voice. Against the stigma, the taboo, the illness itself, it can be hard to find your voice and you can end up feeling completely alone. With Time To Change, we can work together to stop this isolation, to help others and to work together to create and better and more understanding view of mental health. 

So, I ask you, please talk tomorrow. Whether it's a text to a friend or a quick tweet to say why you believe that talking is important, do it because with each conversation, bigger changes can happen. 

Thank you.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

What's In My Bag? Travelling With Anxiety

Just before Christmas, I went to visit my bestie for the day which involved a train journey or two. Now, having anxiety and emetophobia (phobia of vomiting) makes travelling a teeny bit (a lot) of a nightmare but I'd not seen my friend for some time so I was determined to get on the train and go on an adventure!

Travelling with anxiety can be tough but it can be done with a few little tricks in your bag or pocket. Here's a little post to show you what I used on the train journey to settle my nerves and keep anxiety sat beside me rather than on top of me! I really hope this helps and gives you some of ideas of what you might be able to use to help ease your travel anxiety.

Emetophobia is the main source of my anxiety, the fear of vomiting, catching viruses from others etc..can send my head in a spin and panic attacks at the ready. Whether my trusty little bottle of hand sanitiser actually works is debatable but knowing it's there and using it when I need settles my mind and eases my nerves. Travelling on public transport is way out of comfort zone, it makes me feel awkward and even less confident than usual so wrapping myself up in a scarf and adding a pair of oversized sunglasses to my outfit genuinely helps. It makes me feel safer, like I'm in my own little bubble where nothing can get to me. Another thing that helps is gum! Chewing eases my anxiety quite quickly so I'm never without a pack of gum.

Distractions are key to battling anxiety short term. Though it doesn't cure anxiety, it does relieve the symptoms and allows you to carry on and avoid panic attacks. A good book is a good way of distraction. 'Wasted' is my favourite book (an odd choice if you know the contents) by my all time favourite author. I must've read this book about 10 times already but the familiarity of it is really comforting. If anxiety is too much and my head is just too full, I'll flick through a magazine instead. It's still a distraction but doesn't need your full attention.

This is probably the most useful tool in my bag. My music. Music is something that helps me a lot, when I'm stressed, anxious, scared, whatever the emotion, music is a huge help and a comfort. Before I took this trip to see my friend, I pulled together a special playlist called 'My Happy Place', full of the songs that I love or songs that hold special memories for me. Being wrapped in my scarf, headphones in, music on loud, you can pretend that you're in your own little world, safe from anxiety, comforted by music where nothing is going to hurt you and everything is ok! If there's one tip I hope that you take away from this post, it's the power of music!

Other little tips for travelling with anxiety are:

  • scents: scents can be a really powerful way to calm your nerves. If you have a favourite scent, try to have it with you. For me, it's the smell of vanilla so I spray myself with a vanilla body spray or spray my scarf. 
  • reservations: if you're travelling by train, try to reserve a seat. It's so much less hassle when you know that you can just get on the train and have a seat. A step further, is to book a first class seat. This means that you get a super quiet carriage. 
  • travel at off-peak times. If you can, travel between 10am and 4pm then after 7pm. These are all much quieter times to travel than say 9am. 
  • Take care of yourself: I'm usually the one that is saying 'face your fear' but sometimes when you're on your own, it's just not possible. In these cases, you need to look after yourself. Whether it's moving to a different seat to make yourself feel more comfortable or taking breaks from the crowds when needed, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, you should be proud of yourself for getting there in the first place!
I really hope that this post helps with some travel anxiety and that you can find at least one of these little tricks helpful. In March, I will be travelling to Japan, so I will try to put together a new travel anxiety post for long haul flights.

I'm so sorry that my blog has been neglected for some time. Student life is hard work but I hope to post at least one blog a week...*fingers crossed*. If there's anything, in terms of Anxiety, Emetophobia or Eating Disorder information/posts/advice you'd like me to cover, please let me know and I'll do my very best to help!

Take care everyone and travel safely. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year, Same Me (with some slight tweaks)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone. I haven't blogged in forever but I hope that everyone had a jolly Christmas time, got everything you wanted, spent time with those you love and treated yourself to whatever you liked.

The new year is upon us and to be quite honest, it's a very triggering time for me. For most (I'm generalising so please forgive me) people who suffer from Eating Disorders, Christmas is the triggering event. Surrounded with food, pressure from family and friends to be 'normal', the fear of "do you want 2nds?" and the kind yet not so kind comments of "you're looking well" can all play a part in not making Christmas the most wonderful time of the year. However, having had this bitch on my back for over 10 years now, it's not Christmas that makes me feel her cold touch, it's New Years Eve. Don't get me wrong, Christmas certainly gets the ball rolling but it's the whole New Year, New Me that makes me shudder.

Twitter feeds and tv ads shouting that "you can lose a stone in just 10 days",  "try our (bullshit) cleanses" and so on is not something I need to see. I don't need the encouragement to abuse my body with such shit from the diet industry and to be honest it saddens me that so many wonderful people feel the need to believe this, waste their money and harm their bodies. Apart from the obvious triggering dieting content, New Years is always a time of reflection and that's where things get..muddy. 2014 was a weird year, it had a lot downs at the beginning of the year but it picked up towards the end and I guess that's why my head was left in a spin. Let's break it down:

  • my psychologist left. the psychologist that pulled me out of a hospital admission (TWICE), the psychologist that acknowledged me as a person rather than a statistic. the psychologist that truly believed that full recovery from an Eating Disorder was a real thing..left. and that left me: empty. 
  • my new psychologist left. yes that's right, she left too. and with that, I left treatment. 
  • I was diagnosed with Osteopenia.
  • We got a puppy called Bilbo. 
  • We moved house.
  • I started university, studying Psychology. 
So, those were the main events, none of which I had planned to happen, none of which I really saw coming which leads me onto say, New Year New Me..I don't really see the point. Plans don't mesh well with me so making New Years Resolutions seems silly. 2015 is another year, another year where I have no idea what will happen, who I'll meet or what I'll do so rather than having plans..I've come up with a general idea instead:

  • complete my first year and module of university
  • go to Japan
  • read more 
  • begin work 
  • blog more
Loose? yes! But these resolutions scare me a lot less because things that are set in stone! I guess with all this rambling what I'm trying to say is, the 1st of January is just another day. No pressure to suddenly reinvent yourself, no expectations to achieve everything all at once and be the just need to be you. Just you and that's perfect in itself.

I really hope that everyone had a great holiday and I hope to blog more and more this year. Mental Health campaigning is something that is truly important to me, being honest about the illness, the day to day life and trying to squish the stigma and myths is something I'd really like to concentrate on. I hope that you can join me on this journey. 

Thank you for reading and if you made it to the end, you deserve a medal!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Blogs That Inspire Me

The blogosphere is growing ever more popular and it doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon. With so much content out there, to me, blogs can read a little 'same old, same old'. To keep up to date with my favourite reads, I use Bloglovin' but get constantly frustrated by the side bar titled "blogs you might like". It's just filled with the most popular blogs, using the same content as each other using slightly different wording and it just frustrates me because there are tonnes of wonderful blogs out there, creating beautiful and interesting content who don't get these promotions!

SO, with all that in mind, I really wanted to share 4 of my favourite blogs and the lovely people who write them. In no particular order, let's start:

1. WorshipBlues

This blog is run by a lovely husband and wife team, both write, take photographs and come up with unique and fascinating content. Travelling across the globe, these bloggers take you with them on their many adventures, soaking you in culture, art, crafts and photography. I adore this blog and every time I read it, I learn something new.

2. The Dainty Dolls House

This colourful and magical blog is a mixture of fashion, art and lifestyle. The blogger behind the posts is a wonderful and lovely doll that creates unique content daily. Her quirky personal style leaves me feeling inspired and her blog never fails to cheer me up!

3. Laughter Silvered Winged 

The writer behind this blog is a wonderful and inspiring young woman called Meghan. This blog is her journal through life with a mental illness. Documenting everything from therapy to relapse, her campaign work and general day to day life. She is also a talented artist, frequently displaying her latest work in her online portfolio. Her writing, often taking on quite gritty topics, is still witty and never fails to make me smile and cry at the same time. She's an inspiration and definitely deserves a read.

4. Et-cetera and other things

This gorgeous blogger shows us her chic style in lovely outfit posts along with beautiful photography. She also shares some yummy vegan and veggie friendly recipes and she does all this whilst keeping up to date with her studies! 

I really hope that you like this little post. All the bloggers here are not only talented and interesting but they are also just good, lovely people! If you have any blogs that you love, let me know in the comments below!

Thank You For Reading

Monday, 17 November 2014

Dear Meghan Trainor...

The "all about that bass' singer, Meghan Trainor recently made one of the most stupid and misinformed comments and I'm here to talk about it! The singer has already sparked controversy with her skinny shaming song about the outdated idea that you have to be a 'curvy woman' to be a real one..please..stop. However now, she's chatting about Eating Disorders and it's not pretty! In a recent interview this is what she said:

"I wasn't strong enough to have an Eating Disorder" she said. "I tried to go anorexic for a good three hours.  I ate ice and celery, but that's not even anorexic. And I quit. I was like, 'Ma, can you make me a sandwich. Like immediately""

Isn't she just delightful?

There are THREE main problems I have with what she said: 

Number one is the fact that she has some kind of warped idea that those suffering from anorexia just wake up one day and think "I'm going to be anorexic!". 

No. Anorexia is a serious mental disorder, with the highest mortality rate of any other mental disorders, you do not choose to have it, in the same way you do not choose to have depression or choose to have cancer. 

Number two is the idea that she thinks 'eating ice and celery' is not anorexic? This implies that she thinks those suffering (or not suffering apparently because they obviously chose to have this serious disease like she did for those 3 hours >< *and breathe*) do not eat at all. WRONG! Saying that those with anorexia do not eat is one of the biggest misconceptions of the illness. Anorexics DO eat! Every person with anorexia have their own symptoms and ways around what they eat and when. Some will restrict their intake, others will calorie count, some will over exercise, some may starve, some may juice..honestly, it's endless and painful and there is no clear answer to it. 

Number three..and this is the one that really got to me. Believing that you have to be strong to have anorexia is one of the most ridiculous, insensitive, uneducated and unfortunately common things to say about the illness. Having anorexia does NOT make you strong, in fact it's quite the opposite. It weakens you, both mentally and physically. Many a time I have drawn anorexia out in my sketch book, she has a face, she has a voice, she follows me everywhere and she controls me like a puppet. 

This is not a sign strength, this is a sign of fear, a fear of the eating disorder and a essentially a fear of your own mind. Anorexia controls everything you eat and eventually if untreated, everything you do, everyone you see and everyone who tries to help you. Mentally, you will feel exhausted (though my goodness, you will NEVER admit it!), you will have things taken away from you, opportunities will disappear and friends and family will distance themselves. Physically, you will become weak. Your body will slow down, you bones will hurt, your heart will dull and your eyes will lose their twinkle. I'm not saying this off the top of my head, I'm saying this because it's what happened to me and continues to happen though I'm fighting hard against it. 

To have an eating disorder is not strong. To fight against that's strength. To fight against anorexias cold voice, to shake yourself away from her grasp, to love yourself like those around you love you, to face your eating disorder head on and say "FUCK YOU" that's strength.

So Meghan Trainor, before you shout out about Eating Disorders, think. Eating Disorders are a serious mental illness, they are not to be used to further your career, to gain popularity by controversy and stupidity. 

Oh and FYI Meghan, it's not all about that bass!