Time to Talk

When I heard that tomorrow is Time to talk day, a day to raise awareness of mental illness, I knew that I wanted to contribute somehow. I have made no secrets of the fact that I have battled with mental illness my whole adult life and my on-going struggle with depression, anxiety and panic is something which I speak about very honestly and openly in my blog.

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What I speak very little about, perhaps due to the stigma attached to it, is my battle with anorexia, which stole almost twelve years of my life.

When writing todays blog I came across this shocking statistic,

More than 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by eating disorders. There are more deaths from eating disorders than from any other mental illness, and it is estimated that 10% of all sufferers die as a result of their condition and 1 in 5 will commit suicide.

And for a mental illness that is the most deadly, I would say that, in my experience, it is still one of the least talked about.  Although there are a huge number of mental illnesses that are still relatively unknown, I find that as a society we are opening up a lot more with things like depression, anxiety and PND. They are becoming more widely spoken about, written about, documented on TV shows, soaps and publicised by celebrity sufferers. I find that more commonly now during conversations with friends, when I mention a history of depression, of my battles with PND, many of then will nod along, admit they too have struggled, tell me about a friend, a sister, a partner who has been through the same. At playgroup or the school yard, people are much more willing to admit that they too have suffered with mental illness, share stories of their battles with depression or PND, united in the realisation that actually, it is very common. And it is all very much more accepted.

But with eating disorders, it still isn’t something that we speak about as freely. When I share the story of my battle with anorexia it can cut a conversation dead. And I think that the reason why we don’t talk about it is mainly due to the fact that there is still an element of shame surrounding it. And for those suffering, it is very much a secretive illness and something which we go to extreme lengths to cover up. With something like depression there is that desperation to get better, there is the motivation to reach out to a partner, a friend, a doctor, and ask for the help that we need in order to get better, to find a way to be happy again. With anorexia, talking about it, admitting that there is a problem and asking for help to recover, can only mean one thing. Recovery = gaining weight.  And for somebody in the throes of an eating disorder, for me during my own personal battle,  I just didn’t want to talk about it.

And people can be so mean when it comes to eating disorders, the ignorance surrounding it is shocking. The things I see shared on social media on a daily basis disgust me, ‘hilarious’ e-cards shared by seemingly intelligent women, the word “Anorexic” bandied around as an insult, to inadvertently mock and shame those of us who have suffered.  You only need to open any magazine to see “body shaming” posts, close up pap shots of slim celebrities with headlines such as “Anorexic” and “Skeletal” and yet on the next page an article about celebrities who have gained weight, big red circles highlighting the tiniest amount of cellulite. And I hate that kind of thing, I hate that it is seen as something to be ashamed of, something that is used as an insult, something that people assume we have control over.

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Because it is hugely ironic that a mental illness which is very much about control, is actually controlling us. Most of the sufferers I have met along the way will tell you that they became anorexic during difficult times in their life, during stressful periods, break-ups or losses, in a bid to claw back a little control at a time when they felt that they had lost control of the reins. I have never met anyone who planned to become anorexic, it was never a conscious decision, a lifestyle choice that they made . It was a case of losing a few pounds and feeling good about the results, losing a grip on a pre-holiday diet or trying to fit into a particular dress for a special occasion. It was feeling too depressed to eat properly, being so stressed that the weight just fell off, the thought that perhaps losing a few pounds would make them feel better about themselves at a time when they were lacking self-esteem. And it’s so true what they say about mental illness, that before you know it, it can spiral out of your control.

And I guess the same thing happened for me. What started as dropping a few pounds as a side effect of my anti-depressants, rapidly spiralled into an eating disorder which at the time I truly believed I had control over. While I was consciously cutting back and enjoying the weight loss, I fully believed that when I hit my target weight I would resume a normal, healthy diet. And every time I hit that target weight, and still didn’t feel completely happy, I would widen the goal posts, tell myself that a few more pounds would make me feel even better, even happier, perhaps lift me from the depression that I had found myself in. And even when family and friends commented that I had taken it too far, when they pointed out that I was far too thin and that I was looking un-well, I believed that they were wrong, that they were simply trying to sabotage my efforts.

I think it was ‘unfortunate’ for me, for want of a better word, that life then threw me the tragedy of losing Joseph right at a time when I was already struggling. Where as every parent would struggle with the grief and the loss of losing a baby, for me it was the final straw. Within a year of Josephs death I found myself at rock bottom, incredibly poorly, eating just a few mouthfuls a day, purging on up to 120 laxatives each day with a BMI of just 13. And it was only when I was admitted to an Eating Disorders Unit that the severity of the situation really sank in.

My time in the EDU was a necessary evil. I had to kiss goodbye to my then husband and our three year old son and, after a vigorous medical in which I was informed of all of the damage I had done to my body, I was led to a room where I was assigned a one-to-one nurse who would stay with me at all times. And by that I mean, at ALL times. She watched me dress, shower, use the toilet and at night, as I lay in my special air bed, designed so my protruding bones didn’t develop pressure sores, she sat beside me and watched me sleep.

I can still remember sitting there each day, eating my specially calculated calorie counted meal, and I would look around the dining room at the other patients, the majority being female, and ask myself how did I ever end up in this place? Some of the girls would be sedated just so that they could eat their food, others sobbing over a mouthful of cereal, their nurses encouraging them to eat just one more spoonful. Some of the girls would sit there, glassy eyed and wheel-chair bound, tubes stitched into their stomachs or down their throats, a high calorie food supplement being physically pumped into them in a bid to keep them alive. And if ever I needed a wake up call, this was it.

Mondays were always the worst day in the EDU, 9am saw our weekly weigh in and we would line up, naked but for a blue plastic gown and knickers, waiting to see what the scales would report back. I soon learned the tricks, how some of the girls, who had more freedom from their nurses, would set their alarms early to drink as much water as they could before hand, how they would place small weights in their underwear to boost the number on the scales that morning. If we had gained, we would be rewarded with more freedom during the week, anything from hourly checks from the nurses to trips out to the shopping centre across the road, and yet for many there would be tears, desperate cries of self repulsion at having gained merely half a pound of “fat”.  If we had lost we would have our calorie intake increased, our checks more often and even put on complete bed rest. It was a regimented, oppressive, carefully controlled system that we had no choice but to conform to.

And after several weeks in there, it was very easy to become institutionalised. I became accustomed to the same routines, to the daily walk around the hospital grounds,where we would be chastised should we walk faster than a snails pace, the therapy classes, educational seminars, the weekly yoga sessions. And I’ll be honest with you, it was very easy to forget about the outside world, to become so consumed with our life in the hospital and the friendships that we had formed, that ultimately I became very afraid to leave. In a strange way the EDU made me feel safe, I had finally relinquished the control which I had held on to for such a long time. I had no other choice but to let go of the exhausting habits which had landed me in there in the first place, and for the first time in years I was feeling good, I was feeling healthy, I was feeling positive.

And it was during my time in there, when one of the girls sadly passed away, that I realised exactly what I was doing to myself. The harsh realisation kicked in that slowly but surely, should I carry on down the path I was living, I would die. And that was a shocking realisation. Up until that point I had never heard of somebody dying of anorexia, I had never acknowledged that the damage I was doing to my body could cause my body to shut down, my organs to fail, my heart to stop beating. I had never imagined a time when my son would have to grow up without his Mummy. And that thought spurred me on like no other.

I would love to tell you that when I left the EDU  I was cured, that I went home, several pounds heavier, and lived happily ever after with my husband and our son. Because the cruel reality of any eating disorder is that it never truly goes away, not really. And in times of crisis, stress and depression, anorexia was the one thing that I knew I could fall back on. Sufferers often describe anorexia as being their friend, someone who never lets them down, who will always be there as an emotional crutch just waiting to pick up where they left off. A friend who will always make them feel better about themselves, remind them that they can claw back some control in times of crisis, give them a confidence boost when their self esteem is failing. And I did exactly that. For several years I was up and down, recovering and relapsing dependent on my state of mind, my relationships and my circumstances. With the failure of my marriage I massively relapsed, recovering after meeting my new husband and relapsing with each baby and the return of PND. And it must have been heart breaking for my family to witness, but equally heart breaking for me who just wanted the constant tug of war between anorexia and my logical brain to stop once and for all.

These days, I am doing good. I eat, a whole range of foods that at one point I would have beat myself up over, I cook, I enjoy my food and I indulge on a daily basis. It’s ironic that I am able, and always have been, to eat all of my favourite foods and still never gain an ounce. But then it was never about being thin, not really. I have days when I look in the mirror and I feel good, days when I scrutinise my lumps and bumps, and days when I can’t bear to even look in the mirror at all. And I cant promise you that one day the anorexia will not crawl out from the dark hole that it occupies in the back of my mind and take over again, but through therapy and education, I would like to think that should that happen, I would recognise the signs, reach out and get the help I needed.

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But most of all, I am proud to be at a point in my life where I am finally ready to talk. 

And I hope that you will all join me.

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

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125 Comments

  1. erinconefrey
    February 3, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    Your experience is so heart-wrenching, thank you for sharing your struggles so openly. I too have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. I did not know about “time to talk” day so I’m glad I found your post through the life loving linkie. <3
    Erin @ Stay at Home Yogi
    http://www.stayathomeyogi.com

    • February 3, 2016 / 8:18 pm

      Thank you. Sorry to hear about your own struggles but it’s refreshing to hear you speak so honestly about that. Time to talk day is a great way of raising awareness, as always, I’m pleased I have been able to spread the word! Xx

  2. February 3, 2016 / 8:49 pm

    This is a very compelling read, so honest and at the same time so matter-of-fact. I’m so glad to hear that you’re well and that you have enough experience with your cycles of wellness and mental illness to be proactive if you find yourself vulnerable again. I had a complicated relationship with food and body image for a long time, which I inherited from the women in my family, but after 20 years of struggling without any effect I found a way to let it go. I hope your story starts a conversation here which can help others open up πŸ™‚

    • February 3, 2016 / 8:52 pm

      Thank you. I am sorry to hear that you also struggled but how inspiring to hear that you have found a way forward. I am very reluctant to ever refer to myself as “cured” and yet in terms of recovery, I am doing amazingly well. I spent most of last year actively trying to gain weight and that was a huge accomplishment for me! Thank you so much for reading. Xx

  3. sizzlesue15
    February 3, 2016 / 9:24 pm

    This is such an important issue that people are only just starting to feel comfortable talking about. Posts like yours are so helpful and putting the issue front and centre. Mental illness does not make you less of a person. We need to embrace those who suffer from this and be there for them. Thanks for a great post I found you at #LifeLovingLinkie

    • February 3, 2016 / 9:28 pm

      Thank you! It was a difficult post to write and yet an important message to share. Thanks for reading xx

  4. February 3, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story – I hope it will help others to find the confidence to share theirs and contribute to breaking down the stigma (which really shouldn’t exist). I suffered with PND and agree that it is now becoming more openly discussed – perhaps being able to pinpoint a cause and positive media attention supports this – but this should be the case for all mental illness, not just a select few. #bestandworst

    • February 3, 2016 / 9:29 pm

      Thank you! Sorry to hear that you suffered with PND but admire your openness in sharing that. If only everyone could be so open about mental illness there would be no such thing as stigma or taboos. Thank you for reading. Xxx

  5. February 3, 2016 / 9:31 pm

    What an experience for you. How hard but yet so brave of you to put it down and tell us all. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to lose Joseph, already in the pits of such an awful illness. I’m so glad you are feeling better, enjoying food so much more. I bet it was such a challenge but it sounds like you have done so well πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

    • February 3, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      Thank you Sarah. It was a very hard post to write today as it isn’t something that I talk about often. It feels like it all happened to a very different person, and actually I AM a different person! I’m much healthier and happier and actually, much stronger for what I have been through. Thank you for reading. Xxx

  6. February 3, 2016 / 10:07 pm

    I had no idea what I was about to read when I joined the #abitofeverything linky add I’m so glad – in a very sad way – that your blog was the one before mine. I have such admiration for your strength and honesty. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child (though my sometimes obtrusive obsessive thoughts can have a bloody good go) and I agree with you that eating disorders are the mental health equivalent of a poor relative. I must admit that I don’t know much about eating disorders and your piece was a real eye-opener. I’m married to someone who suffers with anxiety and I’ve struggled with panic attacks myself so your story has touched a nerve. Thanks for sharing.

    • February 3, 2016 / 10:18 pm

      Thank you so much, that means such a lot to me! I know all too well the struggles of living with anxiety and also panic. I have recently completed another round of CBT for those very reasons and found it massively helpful. Far too many of us suffer in silence, it is so refreshing to see others sharing their stories and speaking out. I hope that life is kind to you and your husband, and keep talking!!! Xxx

  7. February 4, 2016 / 1:20 am

    I’ve read over 60 different posts in the last 3 days and this moved me more than any others. Anorexia is an illness I struggle to get my head around but your explanation has cleared up a lot for me. I’m sorry for your experiences and I hope you’re able to stay healthy xxx

    #bestandworst

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:59 am

      Wow thank you! I think anorexia is definitely a hard one for people to get their heads round – just eat, right? I’m glad that my post has helped others understand it a little, it was a hard post to share! Thank you for reading. Xxx

  8. leannelc
    February 4, 2016 / 1:59 am

    There is such a stigma still attached to any type of mental illness – less in the area of acknowledging it, but more in the area of talking openly about it – especially those who are affected by it personally or by association. For everyone who speaks up it is a step towards making it all more acceptable and open.

    • February 4, 2016 / 8:00 am

      Absolutely. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it, even when it’s difficult. Thanks for reading. Xx

    • February 4, 2016 / 4:09 pm

      Thank you so much! 😘

  9. reimerandruby
    February 4, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    What a lovely post and Thank you for sharing your story! I’m sorry to hear your experiences. It’s so true that we’re all a little broken although in different ways, but it’s ok as long as we try to better ourselves to become whole again. #coolmumclub

    • February 4, 2016 / 5:40 pm

      Thank you, and absolutely. I like to think that the things that broke me actually made me stronger! Thanks for reading. Xx

  10. February 4, 2016 / 5:10 pm

    What a great read and well done for writing it. Mental health isn’t easy and it’s definitely nothing to be ashamed of. We’ve all been touched by it at some point in our lives whether we’ve had something ourselves or know someone that’s struggling. Speaking openly about it is a better way to raise awareness and to stop the stigma, great stuff πŸ™‚ x

    • February 4, 2016 / 5:41 pm

      Thank you! It was a difficult thing to share that’s for sure, I’m glad I did though, I feel strangely liberated!! Thank you for reading. Xx

  11. February 4, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    It is so brilliant that you are at a point where you can talk so candidly on this subject, because that is precisely what is needed – open dialogue is what is needed to make change. Thanks so much for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:43 pm

      Thank you. I feel really positive about being able to share this, it’s a huge milestone for me to have reached a point where I am so confident in my recovery that I can share this with others. I’ve had such amazing feedback from others who have found this post helpful or inspired them to share their stories, it reminded me why I started blogging in the first place. Thanks for reading. xx

  12. The Anxious Dragon
    February 4, 2016 / 9:20 pm

    Eating disorders are indeed the back sheep of mental illness. There is still the idea that it is something that you ‘chose’ to do to yourself. My disorder was bulimia. Yes, I was never going to give up food, Inloved it way too much, my friend and confident in times of stress. And so I ate, and ate and ate. And when I stopped eatinf I felt sick, both physically and through self loathing, so I purged (I wont go into details). I could have easily stayed on that path had I not fallen pregnant again.
    Anyway, im not sure why I have even mentioned that, what I want to say thst your openess and honestly in this post is again a tribute to the amazing strong woman you have become. Your tale im sure will help others by breaking down the silent barriers and letting people know it is not a condition that you chose or can control. You are quite amazing xx #momsterlink

    • February 4, 2016 / 9:23 pm

      Wow thank you so much for sharing that with me, you’re so right that people wrongly assume that we choose it, I think that’s the hardest part. I had family especially get very angry at me, telling me to “Just eat!!” as though it was really that simple. It must be so hard for our loved ones to have seen us go through that and I feel sad looking back that they didn’t have any support in learning to understand it either.
      Thank you so much for your lovely words, I feel stronger just for sharing it. Xxx

  13. February 4, 2016 / 9:36 pm

    My sister suffered from both Bulimia and Anorexia so unfortunately, I am familiar with this. It started when she was a teenager as a way to be defiant but got much worse after she had her daughter at 18 and her then boyfriend kept making comments about her weight and would openly watch porn films in front of her because he told he didn’t want to touch her because she didn’t look like she did. That about broke her and as her very protective older sister, I wanted to kill him but my sister did eventually heal from it. It took a really long time though. Every man she dated after him, she would get paranoid that they wouldn’t want her so she would revert back her old ways of either starving herself or binge eating and make herself throw up. She’s in her thirties now and is finally, FINALLY healthy. Just a few months ago she ended up in the ER because of Pneumonia and the doctors found out that at some point, she had a heart attack but they couldn’t tell her when. They theorized that it could have had something to do with her disorder, especially considering her age. My sister also has Bi-polar disorder but she is doing well. Sorry for the long comment. Your story really touched home for me. Thank you for being so candid about this. Did you ever hear about a celebrity, Karen Carpenter, who died from Anorexia? She and her brother were in a duet group called the Carpenters. They did a lifetime movie about her a long time ago. I had watched that when I was a teenager and it helped me NOT to try to starve myself, even when I thought I was fat. Anyway, Thanks again. #momsterlink

    • February 4, 2016 / 9:42 pm

      Wow I’m so sorry to hear about your sister, what a lot she has been through but I’m so glad that she is doing well. I relate to using anorexia as a way of defiance, I remember if I argued with my then husband I would just refuse to eat that day, it was a massive cry for help. It took me such a long time to believe that my now husband found me attractive, that he preferred me healthier and in all honesty, he would prefer me to be even heavier!
      Yes I know about Karen Carpenter, her story is absolutely tragic isn’t it? I actually lost my oldest friend to anorexia a few years ago and that also spurred me on to maintain my recovery. Thank you so much for reading and the best of luck to your sister in maintaining her recovery. Xxx

  14. February 4, 2016 / 11:23 pm

    This is an absolutely stunning post. I’m a big one for breaking down taboos and stigma so it would be poor of me to not share this post. I have retweeted on Twitter and will do so again when you pop up on my feed.

    It takes blogs like this to explain what it really is like and the motivations that drove you to humanise the condition and take it away from its poorly drawn stereotypes and erode that stigma.

    #coolmumclub

    • February 4, 2016 / 11:26 pm

      Thank you so much. It’s not easy to speak out against taboos and stigma but if none of us tried then where would we ever get? I’ve had such great feedback over this, to know I have contributed in however, tiny, way is enough for me.
      Thank you so much for sharing. Xxx

  15. jermbarnes
    February 5, 2016 / 1:17 am

    Brave post. Thanks for sharing

  16. February 5, 2016 / 12:50 pm

    This is a brilliantly honest and emotional post! It is indeed time to talk and thank you for sharing your experience. It has definitely made me just a little more aware. #abitofeverything

    • February 5, 2016 / 1:12 pm

      Thank you, great that I have raised a little awareness. Thanks for reading! xx

  17. February 5, 2016 / 1:43 pm

    Having watched a friend have an eating disorder after having her third child, I cam to realise it had a lot to do with depression. It had got to the point where she had dropped so much weight, that she just didn’t feel hungry anymore. It was so sad. Thankfully she has gained weight and again and sees a councillor for her depression. Sarah #fabfridaypost

    • February 5, 2016 / 1:50 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your friend and I’m so glad that she is getting the help she needed. For me, depression definitely came first before the eating disorder, and this does seem to be a very common thing. Mental illnesses do tend to overlap, it could just as easily have been alcohol that I turned to, for others drugs. It’s all about finding something to make yourself feel better at a time when you are truly desperate. Thanks for reading. xx

  18. February 5, 2016 / 1:51 pm

    Well done for sharing an amazingly brave post. It must have been really hard to write. Hope the reaches the right people as I think it’ll really help them to know that there is a way through this

    • February 5, 2016 / 1:52 pm

      Thank you, it was extremely difficult to share but I’m so glad that I did. Thanks for reading. xxx

  19. Vince
    February 5, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    “And after several weeks in there, it was very easy to become institutionalised. I became accustomed to the same routines, to the daily walk around the hospital grounds,where we would be chastised should we walk faster than a snails pace, the therapy classes, educational seminars, the weekly yoga sessions. And I’ll be honest with you, it was very easy to forget about the outside world, to become so consumed with our life in the hospital and the friendships that we had formed, that ultimately I became very afraid to leave.”

    This really hit home for me. I spent two weeks in a psychiatric unit in 2013 and even after that short amount of time, I felt like I ‘belonged’ there and that I wouldn’t be able to cope in the outside world. (I still struggle with that even now, to be honest.)

    It sounds like recovery is going as well for you as recovery from any mental illness possibly can. Power to you πŸ™‚

    • February 5, 2016 / 8:49 pm

      Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head. For the first time in a long time I did feel as though I belonged. To other people we were just a bunch of “crazy people”, to us we were bound together through pain and hurt and a quest for control on a life which was slipping through our fingers. And as strange as it sounds, I had some amazing times in there and met some inspirational people.
      I hope that you are doing as well as can be expected also, thank you so much for reading. xx

      • Vince
        February 5, 2016 / 9:07 pm

        I’m muddling along quite well at the moment. I’ve made some huge lifestyle changes recently and although it’s early days, I am seeing a difference in energy levels and mood already.

        I know what you means about belonging. During my time in hospital, I was helped more by the other patients than any of the doctors, and there is a certain type of kinship that people with mental illness share that can’t be matched in relationships with what I affectionately refer to as ‘norms’ (i.e. normal people).

        • February 5, 2016 / 9:26 pm

          That’s good to hear, I hope it continues for you. There is definitely a bond that you share with others in the same situation, I felt like these girls were my kindred spirits at that time, that we were all of in the same boat desperately trying to stay afloat. It’s funny because for some people they assume that mental illness means you are weak, for me I think that it makes us stronger than we ever thought possible. Hang on in there Vince. Xx

          • Vince
            February 5, 2016 / 9:29 pm

            It’s my theory that we so-called ‘mentally ill’ folk are actually the sane ones – that we manifest these symptoms because we see reality clearly. I said this to a psychiatrist once and, surprisingly, he agreed with me!

          • February 5, 2016 / 9:31 pm

            I love this idea!!! Great way of looking at things and actually, could well be true!! Xx

          • Vince
            February 5, 2016 / 9:35 pm

            We’re the red pill people! πŸ˜€

  20. February 5, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your post is so insightful and helps raise awareness. You have certainly been through a lot and are brave to share. Thanks again #FabFridayPosts

    • February 5, 2016 / 8:48 pm

      Thank you so much. It’s so important to raise awareness to pave the way so that nobody has to suffer in silence. Thank you for reading. xx

  21. February 5, 2016 / 8:45 pm

    Hi again Laura, You truly are a remarkable lady. Thank you for being such a role model for mental health – and speaking out. Exactly what the stigma of eating disorders needs.
    Thanks for linking up with #coolmumclub

    • February 5, 2016 / 8:46 pm

      Thank you, that means a lot. xx

  22. February 7, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    such a powerful, emotive post – my heart aches for what you have been through but your strength to fight has to be commended – such bravery and to look at your beautiful smile and your beautiful family I am so pleased that you found the strength. Thank you for sharing #momsterlinks

    • February 7, 2016 / 12:54 pm

      Thank you so much. There’s no greater motive than that of my children. Feeling much stronger, thank you for reading. Xxx

  23. February 7, 2016 / 10:02 pm

    Good on you for putting this post into words to highlight what you rightly say is a bit of a taboo. I agree, there’s too much shaming that goes on, both in magazines and online for both those who have either lost or gained weight. As non-celebrity, we all go through times where we weigh more and times where we have lost a bit, but should that be a reason why a more famous person should have their body shape brought into question. I very rarely buy those sorts of magazines as I don’t feel they should be getting my hard earned cash, but I expect this is putting a lot of pressure on teenagers and those who don’t realise what a bad thing these people are doing. Here’s to more understanding and also accepting of each other, rather than scrutineering.

    Sally @ Life Loving

    • February 7, 2016 / 10:33 pm

      It’s hard isn’t it, especially knowing that my four will one day be teenagers and seeing this kind of body shaming everywhere they turn. I’m very guilty of flicking through a magazine at the hairdressers or a doctors waiting room and reading these articles and feeling bad about myself. I hate that it bothers me, I think it always will. I guess I just have to continue pushing away any negative thoughts until one day I realise that I haven’t heard that voice for a very long time. Thank you for reading. Xx

  24. dotmakes4
    February 8, 2016 / 10:52 am

    This is such an honest and compelling post. You’ve been through so much.
    I think that it is time to talk. There should be no stigma or shame in sharing our stories, whatever they be.
    Laura xx
    #KCACOLS

    • February 8, 2016 / 12:38 pm

      Thanks Laura, it’s just so important to keep talking isn’t it? Thanks for reading. xx

  25. min1980
    February 8, 2016 / 4:22 pm

    This was so sad to read. Really brave of you to write about the reality of life with an eating disorder and being in an EDU. Sadly, because anorexia often affects high achieving young women, and because various celebrities are always being accused of it, I think it is sometimes seen almost as being glamorous or trendy, when in fact as you say, it is actually the most deadly type of mental illness, and extremely unpleasant. #mg

    • February 8, 2016 / 4:26 pm

      You are absolutely right there. I think young girls DO think that that it is quite glamorous where as there is nothing glamorous about a nurse watching you use the toilet. I wish that more was seen of that side of things, of the effects of vomiting so much that you tear your oesophagus or abusing laxatives until your bowel prolapses. It’s a horrific, devastating, FATAL illness that needs to be address more. Thank you so much for reading. Xx

  26. February 8, 2016 / 4:39 pm

    You are amazing – your honesty is compelling and I am so glad you are well now. Thank you for sharing such a poignant post xx #KCACOLS

    • February 8, 2016 / 4:41 pm

      Thank you so much. It sometimes feels as though it was another lifetime ago, I can’t imagine a time when I ever sank so low. Thank you for reading. Xx

  27. February 8, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Oh my, what a brave post and touchingly poignant too. I think you’re right we’re all a little bit broken and that’s ok. Each of us broken in a different way and by listening and learning to each other is how we heal. The treatment in that EDU sounds horrendous as if they’d shock you out of it. Thank you so much for linking up to #PoCoLo and wishing you all the best.

    • February 8, 2016 / 9:19 pm

      In hindsight it really was horrific and yet it was entirely necessary. Left to our own devices none of us would ever have gotten better, we were all of us fighting against a recovery that we were all too scared to make. I’m so glad that, although it did not cure me at that time, that it set me on the right path and with time I have gotten healthier and happier. Thank you for reading. Xxx

  28. Tamuria
    February 8, 2016 / 10:22 pm

    Your honesty and courage are heartwarming. It is so important to shed the light on eating disorders and take away the veil of secrecy and shame. The cruelty online shows how ignorant the masses are. Thank you for sharing.

    • February 8, 2016 / 10:23 pm

      Thank you. If I can help even one sufferer then it’s something isn’t it? Thank you go for reading. Xx

  29. Jenny @ Let's Talk Mommy
    February 9, 2016 / 7:25 pm

    I have never heard of time to talk day and what a great campaign to get more to open up about their struggles. I am sorry for your challenging times but you are so strong, brave to share it here again and help others that may relate to this. I always say even if our tough stories help just one person it’s worth it. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

    • February 9, 2016 / 7:30 pm

      That’s exactly it isn’t it? However hard it might be to tell a story, if it can help even one person then that’s a positive right there. Thank you for reading. Xx

  30. February 9, 2016 / 10:35 pm

    What an experience you have been through….*hug* and even though this is the first I have heard of the ‘time to talk’ day I think it is an excellent idea! Thanks so much for linking up with #MMWBH

    • February 9, 2016 / 10:54 pm

      Thanks debs, I think it’s a new thing for this year, I have never heard of it before! Definitely important to raise awareness whenever possible though! Thanks for reading. Xx

  31. Morgan Prince
    February 9, 2016 / 10:49 pm

    Oh my word what a brave post to have written! I cannot imagine how hard it is to deal with that on a daily basis and you are a strong person to be able to share your story with others. I’m so glad that you are feeling positive and I hope it stays that way for you. Thank you so much for sharing this heart-wrenching post. xx Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo

    • February 9, 2016 / 10:55 pm

      Thank you, it feels strange to look back on the person I once was but also a huge boost to see how far I have come. Thanks for reading. Xx

  32. February 10, 2016 / 5:14 am

    This is such an honest and open post. I luckily have never suffered from an eating disorder but I am currently battling mental illness. One of which I’m working really hard at trying not to have to take anti depressants (been off since summer) and hopefully eventually off my anti-anxiety meds (down to half the dose). There are Saudi really battle with my quitting the drinking of wine everyday too. You inspire me to possible write a post about my own struggles. Kudos to you for speaking about it and thank you for linking with #momsterslink.

    • February 10, 2016 / 1:28 pm

      Thank you. I also suffer with depression and anxiety and know how hard it is to wean yourself off meds. I came off my meds completely throughout my pregnancies and I did find it very hard, each time I found myself back on them afterwards. I have come to accept that I may go my whole life on medication but if it helps me through each day, why not? I think we should all talk about or write about our struggles, to “normalise” mental illness and pave the way for others to speak out more openly. Thank you for reading. xxx

  33. February 10, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    Wow what a brave and honest post. I have suffered with mental illness and it’s very closely linked with my diet. I have always been funny with food and like you described it the first thing that happens to me in times of stress is that I don’t eat. It’s definitely a way of feeling in control. I do realise when I’m doing it now but looking back when I was a young teenager and all through my teens ridiculously skinny and unhappy I wish someone had done something for me then. A great campaign to be involved in. Thanks for linking to #PickNMix
    Eilidh x

    • February 10, 2016 / 9:20 pm

      I think for many people depression can quickly spiral into an eating disorder in some shape or form. I was exactly the same in the beginning, I wasn’t able to identify what I was doing to myself where as the older I have grown I can see what I am doing and am able to help myself before it gets out of control. I hope that you are in a much healthier place also. Thanks for reading. Xx

  34. February 11, 2016 / 8:32 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience so honestly. You are a very strong, remarkable lady and should be proud of all you’ve achieved. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday Xx

    • February 11, 2016 / 9:57 pm

      Thank you!! It’s been a tough week in a lot of ways but the reception to this post has been amazing, reminded me of the reasons why I write. Thank you for reading, see you Sunday! Xx

  35. February 11, 2016 / 11:39 pm

    What a powerful post, thank you for sharing. I am a nurse who have specialised in eating disorder recovery in Australia for many years and your experience is similar to my patients. Unfortunately, you are right about it not being a talked about subject like other areas of mental health. The more we talk about it the more knowledge about eating disorders gets out and support becomes more freely available.

    • February 12, 2016 / 9:59 pm

      Thank you, and what a hugely difficult but rewarding job that must be. You must have the patience of a saint, I’m not sure that I could do it. Thank you for reading. Xxx

      • February 13, 2016 / 12:23 am

        You are right. My job is all of the above however knowing that I have had some part to play in people’s recovery from this monster called an eating disorder makes it all worthwhile.

        • February 13, 2016 / 11:36 am

          Absolutely, how amazing that must be. Thank you so much for what you do. xx

  36. mackenzieglanville
    February 12, 2016 / 2:00 am

    I am so proud of you! It is not easy to be open about mental illness as you said there is so much stigma attached to it. I read a wonderful book here is the link http://anastasiaamour.com/insideout/ this young women is a great writer and blogs about body confidence and the body bashing the media does. I suffered from Bulimia Nervosa as a teen, and had a few relapses over the years. Still now I get thoughts, but I am doing really well. I think you are amazing for speaking out! You will help many through your words xx Thank you for sharing on #mg

    • February 12, 2016 / 9:58 pm

      Thank you lovely, that means a lot. So sorry to hear that you suffered, so many of us do, it’s just such a difficult illness to live with isn’t it? I am always very reluctant to say I am cured because realistically, there will be times when I relapse, but it’s about being able to identify the triggers and the signs and keeping a firm grip of reality. Plus these days I honestly do love my food!! Thank you for reading. Xxx

  37. February 12, 2016 / 11:24 pm

    What a courageous woman you and doing exactly the right thing by raising awareness of such an important issue. Time to Talk is so important as it generated posts where people were honest and good conversations in the offline world I hope too. I know I will be back to read this post and learn from it again

    • February 13, 2016 / 11:36 am

      Thank you Kate, that’s really lovely of you to say. Since this post was shared I’ve had seven emails from women living with secret eating disorders who felt that they could share that with me, how amazing is that? xx

  38. February 14, 2016 / 6:56 pm

    Wow, such an incredible brave post to write. I’m so sorry you suffered with this and you’re right, it does seem less talked about than PND or anxiety (both of which have been discussed more and more in the media). I’m so glad you can tell your story and inform us of the facts and create awareness when it’s so desperately needed. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

  39. April 20, 2016 / 10:10 am

    I haven’t seen any of those disgusting e-cards around, they should be banned for giving such an insensitive remark and negative message for people who are going through anorexia! You’re absolutely right, you have to keep talking about it till it’s no longer considered taboo.

    • April 20, 2016 / 10:12 am

      One of my friends shared one just yesterday and I made sure that I let her know how disgusting they were. A lot of people were quick to defend her which saddened me, it’s that level of ignorance which makes anorexia such a difficult illness. Thank you for reading, means a lot. Xx

  40. Fuss Free Helen
    April 20, 2016 / 5:20 pm

    This is such a courageous post about something so important. One of my friends was in and out of hospital for years with an eating disorder.

    What has just horrified and saddened me is that I just googled BMI 13 to see how underweight it is and I landed on a horrific pro ana forum. Just awful.

    • April 20, 2016 / 6:42 pm

      It saddens me that these websites still exist. I know at one point I used these sites to fuel my illness, I hate to think of other people doing the same. I hope that your friend is recovering, I lost my best friend of 27 years to anorexia not long after her 30th birthday, it’s a horrific illness. xx

  41. April 20, 2016 / 6:57 pm

    Your posts are always so honest. I’ve not known anyone who has had anorexia. I hope this post will help someone who is going through what u have.

    • April 20, 2016 / 7:41 pm

      Thank you, that’s a real compliment to me as I try my hardest to be as honest as possible. I think it’s important isn’t it? Life isn’t always easy but I like to think that we are all capable of finding happiness. Thanks for reading. xx

  42. Cliona O'Connor
    April 20, 2016 / 7:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this – I can see it inspiring anyone going through similar. it also gives those who do not know and insight and a great empathy.

    • April 20, 2016 / 7:58 pm

      Thank you, I hope that is the case. It’s always helpful to know that you’re not alone isn’t it? Thanks for reading. xx

  43. April 20, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    Well done for putting all that into writing. People are using the word ‘brave’ and I can see why. I imagine it must have taken a lot out of you to be so introspective and analyse yourself for this post. You ought to be proud.

    • April 20, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      Thanks Grant, I never really saw it like that but yes, I do feel proud at how far I have come. Some days it feels like I’m not doing too well but reading this back, I’m a long way from where I used to be. Thanks for reading. xx

  44. April 20, 2016 / 8:52 pm

    Such a brave and honest post! I’d never particularly cared about my weight until I went to university and then it soon became all I could think about. I never went to complete extremes, it was more disordered eating than eating disorder, but I wish that I had got help back then, because I went from being on course for a first to barely scraping a 2:1. All my energy and focus just went on food and weight loss, and I was always so tired from exercise and not eating enough. The really sad thing is that it was so common. I was at an all girl college, which might have contributed, but a couple of girls were forced to drop out in second year because it was either go home and have their parents help them, or they’d be hospitalised. πŸ™

    Thanks so much for sharing this, and I’m wishing you all the luck for the future! x

    • April 21, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Gosh I’m sorry for what you went through also. Our stories are similar in that respect, my eating disorder most definitely started at university and I ended up failing my first year and having to do re-sits. One of my best friends became anorexic at the same age and sadly died 12 years later. That was a huge wake up call for me, even now I think that it could have been me. It’s such a devastating illness, I work very hard to instil a positive body image in all of my children, food is very much a part of our family time, I just hate to think of my girls, or our boys, suffering the same. Thanks for reading. Xx

  45. April 20, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    Wow, this is such a well written post! I appreciate your honesty in it and I will be sure to share it with my friends who have suffered from the same disorder.

    Oliver β€’ http://suedeandsymphony.com

    • April 21, 2016 / 8:23 pm

      Thank you! Yes please do, if I can help anyone in the same situation then it was worth writing. Thanks for reading. Xx

  46. April 21, 2016 / 8:12 am

    What an honest post, so full of emotions. I bet that was such a surreal experience being in the EDU unit. I am glad things have improved for you and I wish you lots of luck for the future x

    • April 21, 2016 / 8:22 pm

      Thank you. It feels like a dream in some ways! When I look back I can’t believe that that person was me, that I survived so much. It’s important to look back though and remember how far I have come, these days my biggest problem is my chocolate addiction!!! Xx

  47. April 21, 2016 / 1:26 pm

    Such a brave and honest post. I think I do would have felt broken by all you went through. I am so glad you got the help you needed and have come out the otherside. I hope that this posts helps others going through something similar

    • April 21, 2016 / 8:17 pm

      Thank you. I do try and remind myself that anyone in my situation would have felt the same, it’s hard not to feel that I failed in some way and yet in others I have massively succeeded. Thanks for reading. Xx

  48. April 21, 2016 / 2:52 pm

    I think it takes the bravery from those suffering with or from a mental illness to speak out that makes those like myself, who don’t really understand, sit back and listen to what you have say and try to understand that little bit more x

    • April 21, 2016 / 8:15 pm

      That’s so true, I knew very little about mental illness before I because unwell, I wish that I had known more or had someone reach out and tell me they felt the same. These days it’s much more acceptable to share our stories isn’t it? Thank you for reading. Xx

  49. April 22, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    Lovely well written post covering a difficult subject. It’s not an easy condition to live with as I have seen from friends who have this.

    • April 22, 2016 / 2:56 pm

      Thank you, it’s so sad that it affects so many isn’t it? Not all have been as lucky as me to survive it this far. xx

  50. Michelle Murray
    April 23, 2016 / 7:29 am

    Such a brave post – writing about an illness is really difficult but I hope it reaches out to many who are suffering too

    • April 23, 2016 / 6:11 pm

      Thank you, I hope so too. xx

  51. April 25, 2016 / 4:06 pm

    Mental Illness is so stigmatized that people are afraid to come out with it. However people who are ignorant and ready to judge others they don’t seem to understand that it could be them tomorrow and also a mental illness is as bad as a physical illness. You are very brave for sharing your story and inspiring other people, I wish more people would talk about it.

    • April 25, 2016 / 4:44 pm

      Thank you, it’s so important for others to realise that it’s okay to speak out about it. I will never be made to feel ashamed for battling mental illness, Infact I think we should feel proud of ourselves for now only fighting it, but surviving it full stop. Xx

  52. December 12, 2016 / 3:17 pm

    What a story Laura, thank you for being so brave and honest. My daughter suffered with anorexia for a while – they diagnosed her as anorexic when she first went into the psychiatric unit. Hers was largely about not feeling good enough and needing to be thin and beautiful for people to like her. Thankfully, she came out the other side of this as they forced her to eat. Sadly it transferred to binge eating disorder, which she still struggles with along with anxiety and depression (the not eating was a way of controlling anxiety at the time too). It’s a very serious mental/psychiatric illness that people often treat as a choice but it so isn’t. I imagine you battle with urges daily. Recovery is a slow and very steady journey of ups and downs. Well done for getting to where you are today. xx

    • Laura Dove
      December 13, 2016 / 1:43 pm

      Thank you Suzanne. Mine actually started out as depression and then led to anorexia, and then in recovery I then developed severe anxiety too, I imagine very similar to your daughter. Without my anorexia to regain control, I was hugely anxious, I still am now to a degree. I think it will always be a very difficult disorder for people to understand, even now I have had people tell me that it was selfish of me to develop anorexia, or even that it was out of pure vanity, I struggle with the ignorance and yet raising awareness where possible really helps me channel that frustration! Good luck to you and your daughter moving forward, much love to you. xxx

  53. January 30, 2017 / 12:53 pm

    Came across this post on the linky #postsfromtheheart …I love how you are so honest and open about your experiences… I blog about my sen children but there is a lot of experiences in my life that I have never really been open about to others esp my family ..I have often thought about blogging about those parts of my life but I cant bring myself to do it yet as worry about family reactions etc to it which is silly but that’s me!

    • Laura Dove
      January 30, 2017 / 1:15 pm

      I can relate to that Jenni, I always feel nervous when I press to share a post and yet afterwards it feels as though a weight has been lifted. I have always been a very open person, maybe too much at times, but I couldn’t blog in the way I would want to if I didn’t share my experiences. Everyone is different though and I think you should only share what you are comfortable? As long as what I write doesn’t hurt my husband and children, I try not to worry too much about other peoples reactions! xx

  54. January 30, 2017 / 2:36 pm

    I love the honesty that runs throughout your blog so much. You are right we are all a little broken, in our own way we all have coping mechanisms for getting through those difficult times. You have been through so much, yet come out so strong. I hope this post is read by all those who need to read it – not only those with eating disorders – but those struggling with any demon. Talking helps, normalising situations helps. No one should ever be made to feel bad for the difficult times in their life. Sending love. #PostsFromTheHeart

    • Laura Dove
      January 30, 2017 / 5:00 pm

      Thank you so much. I agree, it might be hard sometimes to share experiences that were incredibly difficult, but in sharing them we are showing others that there is no shame in having struggled. I will never apologise for being honest about my life, nor for living with mental illness over the last twenty years, and I hope that my posts do help someone, even just one person, to feel less lonely through a really difficult time in their own lives. Thank you so much for reading. xx

  55. January 30, 2017 / 11:40 pm

    A really brave and touching post. Mental illness is a subject very close to my heart as my mum since I can remember has suffered from various schizo-affective disorders that have at times taken over mine and my brothers lives. I myself suffer from anxiety as well. It’s brilliant that more people are talking about mental health now and so important. An excellent post. #postsfromtheheart

    • Laura Dove
      February 1, 2017 / 9:37 am

      Thank you Beth. I’m sorry that your Mum has also suffered, that must have been so difficult for you and your family growing up. I will always talk about mental health, it’s so important that we make others aware that there is nothing to be ashamed of. xx

  56. February 1, 2017 / 12:33 pm

    Laura, what a heart-wrenching post. You are so right that the taboo really needs to be broken and we need to all feel able to talk about these things in the open. I have been pondering a post myself, talking about my own mental health struggles. Whether I ever hit the ‘publish’ button or not is another matter, it takes courage! You tell your story so beautifully, I’m so glad to hear that things are better for you now. #PostsFromTheHeart

    • Laura Dove
      February 1, 2017 / 1:25 pm

      Thank you Gemma. I think sometimes sharing our stories can be so therapeutic, it’s always comforting to know that others can relate and that our stories may well help someone else too. xx

  57. February 1, 2017 / 9:52 pm

    Laura, you’ve been through SO much that’s is unbelievable. I can’t even begin to think how hard it must have been for you over the years. I really wish for you that going forward life can be a little kinder to you. I hope you know how amazing you are. #PostsFromTheHeart

    • Laura Dove
      February 2, 2017 / 11:37 am

      Ahh Sara, thank you so much, that’s such a lovely thing to say. I was hugely emotional writing this post, it was so difficult to think about that 17 year old girl who had no idea what lay ahead, my heart really broke for her. That said, I honestly wouldn’t change any of it, I’ve been incredibly lucky in so many ways, it was just a path I had to take to get to where I needed to be. Thank you again. xxx

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