Saturday, 24 August 2013

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On the news this evening, there was a report on the likes of 'zoo' and 'nuts' (typical lads mags), and how they should no longer be sold in supermarkets or newsagents in which these are on display to children. The report focused on a bunch of women protesting that young girls should not be looking at these as they may influence how they see themselves and the way they should look/feel/act. 
As much as I understand this argument - and I really do because I work in a newsagents and when I was extremely consumed by my illness, I would devour any magazine with a 'thin' or 'beautiful' girl on it - surely it is only fair to scrutinize EVERY magazine including influential a 'thin' body and more importantly so, in my opinion, every magazine that criticizes a size 10/12 for being overweight or includes ridiculous, unhealthy diets. 
ALL of these magazines, whether it's a lads mag or celebrity based magazine include images that will influence young girls (and older ones!). Whether it's fake boobs and tiny underwear or a tiny framed celeb on the beach in a bikini. Ultimately, they are giving off similar messages? That a girl has to look like this to either a) be successful, b) please a man and c) be liked. 
And I write this thinking it's all a huge shame really because I LOVE fashion magazines. I used to love reading about the latest pieces that had arrived in stores, become inspired on how to style things, what nail varnish colour to wear next season etc. I say used to, because I haven't picked a magazine up in over a year (thank god for fashion bloggers!). They are so depressing, it's unbelievable. I don't look like their idea of perfection and I do not wish to be reminded of that.
On a contradictory note, I know that neither of these will be removed from supermarkets or shops. There is a huge market for them, and although influencing, people DO enjoy reading them. I just think that if society is going to start attacking lads mags for influencing young girls, then we should take a look at everything else too.
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A year on

Friday, 23 August 2013

Today marks the day that I was officially diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, something that I still cringe to even type. Although, I actually 'suffered' the most of it before that day, it's still a huge bench mark for me.
This year has changed so much and I am proud that I didn't let this illness stop me from living my life. I haven't had the 'uni' experience that most people have. I haven't been out drinking every night, rolling into lectures with a hangover, mars bar and red bull in hand. I haven't joined in when everyone ordered takeaways or went out for pub lunches but I know those things will come in time. It has been a time of great change, numbers, pain, anxiety, laughter, tears - and it's ALL been worth it. I know now, that being healthy is so much more valuable than being 'skinny' or the lowest number you can possibly be.
This past year, I have gained a stone (probably more, I know longer know!). I've ditched the scales. I've made new friends who treat me like a person not an illness, including me in everything and not drawing attention to food. I've met people online, thanks to blogging and twitter who really have helped me along the way, and I hope it continues! I can honestly say that I have challenged myself. 
But, I also acknowledge that there are things that still need ironing out and I will continue battling this until I am where I want to be. This illness has taken years of my teens away from me and I refuse to take this into my twenties. Yes, I still have bad days in which I feel I can't do this or dwell on how much weight I have gained (which is frightening), but a close friend reminded me that 'the best anorexic is dead' which is completely true. If I were to give up and let this take a hold of me again, then there really is only one outcome, and I actually value myself enough now to say that I DO NOT want that.
So, a year from now, I want to be writing another post about how this is no longer an aspect of my life. I may not actually like my body or the number that would stare back at me but I think I should sit here feeling proud of what I've done.

Last night for my Brother's celebratory meal out

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Saturday, 17 August 2013

Yesterday, I picked up the keys to my new house! It sounds so strange saying that, as I don't feel remotely old or responsible enough but nevertheless, I don't have time to think about that because it is and has to happen. Although I am not moving in for another month, I visited the place today with my Mum, meeting some of my new house mates and running necessary checks. 
There is so much to take in - bills, electric, water, money, insurance, emergencies - the information is overloading my brain before I have chance to take it in. Can I be 5 years old again?
But, I am reminded by my good friend Tanya's words, to 'Let it be' and embrace this new change. I know that everyone who is embarking on running a house for the first time is in the same boat, and does cope, but it's scary to think it's actually my turn. 
I actually think change and new beginnings/experiences are good for us a human beings. We learn so much by throwing ourselves into a situation and doing something new. Life would be boring if we continued to repeat the same, mundane and potentially negative cycle that we easily get ourselves into because change can be difficult. 
I am learning to accept and welcome change. I am beginning to love learning more about the world and the way we live. I told my Mum earlier, that life is just too short to let those demons hold you back. It is simply YOU stopping and doubting yourself and if you actually question those doubts, you (and I) actually see that there is no logical reason to. 
This new chapter begins when I move in properly, but I know there is a lot to sort and discuss prior to then. Either way, I plan to make this new page a positive experience. 

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Monday, 12 August 2013

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I have actually been inspired to write this after a) reading a this post, written by my friend Anna, and b) receiving a comment at work from a good work colleague of mine.
It was just the two of us working on the shop floor a few days ago, and we were discussing spending habits. Being girls we both spend money on fashion but we established that I buy a few expensive pieces, while she buys more less expensive items. This progressed into discussing sizes and then my size and mental health. At my lowest weight, I was a tiny size (which doesn't need to be mentioned). I only knew I was that size because scales and tape measures were my best friends.
However, I never wore that size, I covered up. I wore the size that I wear now. I didn't want people knowing how tiny I'd become or see protruding bones. I didn't welcome comments about weight loss but I always joined in discussions about the latest chocolate bar we were told to promote. I did everything I could to appear normal. 
So, the comment 'But you were always mentally with it. You didn't act crazy' wasn't exactly a shock to hear the other day, but it did trigger alarm bells in my mind. Most people suffering with a mental illness don't look or act crazy. Like me, we go to great lengths to hide it due to a variety of reasons. 
I explained to my friend, that I STILL have a mental illness despite gaining a stone. I know I don't look ill. I don't have an emaciated body, drawn out eyes or pale skin any more. And you know what, I never wanted those either! 
A mental illness is exactly that. A disease of the mind. Something neither you or I can see from up close or afar. 1 in 4 of us suffer with a mental illness, so chances are you know someone. And I bet you now, they don't 'look' crazy either.
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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Part of my writes this thinking it's completely stupid and not a risk at all. People eat what they want everyday, how can this be risky. But then I guess I have to remind myself that to me it's bloody terrifying so I shall continue.
Yesterday lunchtime, I had the house to myself meaning SPACE. Space to eat something 'risky' in my own time, making it in peace, nobody around to judge etc. I ate a cheese sandwich (I'm still writing this feeling daft). This is huge for me - like an arachnophobic picking up a spider as big as a brick! Cheese in general is difficult for me, but when I have to actually cut it myself meaning I don't really know how much I'm eating, causes so much anxiety. Following this triumph, I actually felt like I could conquer the world ;-) 
My Mum and I had tickets to the Lion King Musicalh last night, so I suggested we ate out before going. This is like an arachnophobic picking up two spiders the size of bricks ;-) We had both wanted to try YoSushi for a while so we went there. And you know what, it was absolutely lovely! We ordered two dishes each and shared one, trying each others as we went. I let go of this fear and enjoyed the food. Sounds so simple, and when you allow it, it really is. 
As for the musical, it was amazing. I have seen many shows, both west end and amateur but nothing like this. The costumes were stunning and the music was entirely different to what you'd usually expect. It was nice to experience a bit of African culture and watch something that I love. Singing and theatre is my biggest passion, which has sadly taken a back seat over the past year. 
We returned just after midnight to mugs of hot chocolate and biscuits.Yet another simple thing that becomes so difficult when consumed by this illness. However,  I just 'let it be'. Sharing this moment with my Mum is so rare that I had to do it. I had an amazing day because I was myself. Someone I shouldn't be afraid of.
The lesson I am beginning to learn is: Risk taking has more pros than cons. It's living. It's getting your life back.

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Thursday, 1 August 2013

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I think the only way to live life is to take chances and say yes to new experiences and challenges. Rather than focusing on what could potentially go wrong, maybe it's better to focus on what you're missing out on. By saying no to opportunities, you're staying safe. You're staying with what you've always done and always known, meaning that will always be.
'If you do what you've always done, you'll only get where you've always got'
I am trying to apply this to myself right now. I was recently provoked into thinking about what this illness still prevents me from doing and eating, and honestly, that list is far too long for my liking. But how do I go about reducing that list? My taking chances.
The thing is, I don't trust myself to face the challenge. The get me through it safely without too much pain or harm. I know that when facing a fear for the first time, it is stressful but with each exposure, it can only become easier.
What if I eat too much? What if I gain weight? What if I lose weight? Will I manage the guilt?
The list of possible 'what if's?' is endless. But I am beginning to ask why exactly it is that I don't trust myself. I've come this far with only one source of (unprofessional) support, so there is no valid reason as to why I cannot continue. I don't have to stop here and I certainly don't want to stop here. 
What if I actually enjoy it? What if there is no anxiety? You might actually be OK?
The answers to any of those questions can't be answered unless I actually attempt the challenge. I won't know unless I try and if the outcome is negative then at least I can say that I tried and I now know. I believe the odds are actually stacked in my favour. I have proof that 11 months on, from rock bottom, I am actually in much better and happier place. I just have to trust myself that bit more. 
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