Saturday, 31 May 2014

I need to rant!!

I am frustrated and peed off so feel the need to rant to anyone who may like to listen!!
Now those of you who know me well will have picked up a few things about me:

a) I am pro eating disorder recovery  (hence the blog!)
b) I am a passionate advocate for positive body image.
c)I believe beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

Last night I took part in a body positivity hour hosted on Twitter where I joined others tweeting about what there body means to them, what they love and how they pledge not to put themselves down, so why today do I feel like a total hypocrite??

The answer to that came from a machine in my local pharmacy.
Yes I committed the mortal sin and weighed myself!! FFS!
Why you may ask?  The reason being is that I have been steadily gaining weight over the past few months.  I know this as I had to stop wearing jeans and buy elasticated waist jeggings.
My clothing size hasn't bothered me, I think I dress well and can make the most of what I have but I was concerned that if I didn't do something my waist-line would continue growing and that didn't sit comfortably with me.
I have been careful with what I eat, cutting back on alcohol, making changes to snacks, eating more healthily, exercising more but nothing has worked!!    I seriously thought by weighing myself I would find that I had succeeded, I hadn't and all that did was make me feel bad about myself.
Lesson learnt!

After discussing this with Hubby, he came up with a little light bulb moment.  Yes we had been on holiday and probably lived life to the excess but generally my diet had remained the same. (until I changed it) so what was different?

I think the answer to this is medication.  I had started back on anti-depressants at the beginning of the year, the same tablets I was prescribed when I had Anorexia.  The same tablets that after putting the name into Google  bring up, 'weight gain' in the search bar.
I have trawled through forum after forum, reading about people who rave about the wonders of this drug but are frustrated with the average weight gain of around 16 pounds!!  No wonder my blooming jeans don't fit!

So now I have a choice. stay on the tablets but restrict my calorie intake just to maintain my current weight or come off the tablets and see how my head is!!
I have a GP appointment booked for this week so hopefully I can come up with some suggestions then.

In the meantime I'm off to the Indian Takeaway.
Happy Saturday.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

For A. x

Today I learnt the news that a friend had sadly lost her husband. The death of someone you love is never easy and this was just so tragic

I have only known Arielle for around 4 years but we have never met. She is a strong and beautiful person who is an advocate for eating disorder recovery. She gives of herself selflessly and has no doubt played a huge part in the recovery of many Men and women with eating disorders.
Her relationship with R. was what fairy tales are made off.  She adored him, and he her.  I remember last year on their 5th wedding Anniversary.  Arielle arranged to have anonymous love letters sent from all over the world which she saved and put in a wooden box for him to read and keep.
In the letters were reminders to R. of what a wonderful and adoring Husband he was whom Arielle loved dearly.  My love note was amongst the many he read that day.
I cannot express the sadness I feel for this beautiful Woman and the family left behind.  I hope that Arielle can get some comfort from the support of her family and friends....  she has many.
Rest in peace R.
Love to you Arielle xxx

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A nail in the coffin for those with an eating disorder.

It has been far to long since my last post.  Epic fail of at least one of my New Year Resolutions!!  I shall save the rest for another day.

I have just returned to work after nearly 3 weeks leave including a 2 week break in glorious Cuba.  The morning started badly due to having to drag my arse out of bed before lunchtime (I'm still on Cuba time) and continued when I logged onto my PC to wade through the numerous emails and appointments waiting for me. Still dreaming of white sand and crystal blue oceans I gingerly ventured into the drops, which contained carefully filed 'important' bits and bobs to be dealt with asap when something caught my eye. Hidden amongst the humdrum of my daily working life was a beautifully hand written envelope ..... with my name on it.  What was inside made my day.
Along with a photo of me holding a china tea-cup and a thank-you note delicately written was a press cutting from a local newspaper.
It read.

Sharing The Distress Of Eating Disorders
Cheddar WI.  " I was intrigued when I heard that we were going to have a talk on eating disorders.  As someone blessed with a good appetite and a cast iron constitution and who had lived on a wartime diet when the only problem with food was a storage of it, I was keen to learn more. I had, of course, always felt sympathetic when I read about some of the usually high profile cases of anorexia and bulimia and I was soon to be enlightened as to the enormity of the problems these and other eating disorders present.  Jackie Tanner, from The Somerset & Wessex Eating Disorders Association (sweda)a user led, pro-recovery charity on the principles of self help, was our speaker.
We were privileged to be the first group she had ever addressed, but you would never have guessed, as she immediately held us in thrall when she started to speak and you could have heard a pin drop as soon as she made us aware of all the trials, self-doubt, emotional pain and distress which plague people with eating problems.We heard how misunderstood the problem is, and what a huge problem it is for so many sufferers, men as well as women, and what a lot of courage, perseverance, understanding and self-help they have to summon up to drag themselves out of their particular pit of despair.
Jackie bravely took us through her own struggles which started at an early age as she recounted a whole gamut of worry about her appearance, anguish about unkind remarks, starvation,bulimia, alcohol, exercise and finally hospital admission. Thankfully when she had reached rock bottom, with the help of family, friends and recovery groups and with a growing understanding of the problem she began to recover. She found that writing about her feelings helped. Jackie's little book (the royalties of which go to SWEDA) entitled The Cupcake Queen Bites Back is a little gem about recovery, told through her poetry and excerpts from her personal blog. We all wish Jackie well and hope many people will hear and benefit from her touching and heart warming talk."

Betty Chalkley.

That day in February now seems so far away, but I can still remember how scared I was, the relief when it was over but the burning desire to do it all again.  The hope that I could reach out to just one person and give them a glimmer of hope makes my pain worthwhile.
You can then imagine my sadness when I was contacted by a local radio station and told that sweda was at risk of closing. There was always the risk that this could happen when the PCT pulled the funding from SWEDA a few years ago, but hearing it could happen soon was just awful.  
SWEDA is a lifeline to many, as there is no need for GP referral. You can call them up, email them, go to support groups or arrange for counselling.  They are there to help all affected by eating disorders which include carers. I know if I was to ever become ill again and sweda was not around it could be disastrous.  Waiting list on the NHS for therapy are very long.  People with eating disorders cannot wait, if people are asking for help they need it then.  Not in 6 months time when it could be too late.  This makes me so angry!!  
I was invited onto BBC radio Somerset  to give my views which you can listen to  here.  I sincerely hope that their efforts to raise money has worked and will keep you all posted.  In the meantime you can help by clicking on the link to my book with all royalties going to sweda or if you're a millionaire wanting to support an amazing charity, please feel free :)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

My Talk For EDAW 2014

So tomorrow is my talk for EDAW and I am not ashamed to say.... I am terrified!!  
Public speaking is not something I am very good at.  I tend to talk too fast, mumble, get my words muddles up and my mouth gets so dry I just can't get the words out.
I practised at a friends last night and by the time I'd finished, my breathing felt like I had just sprinted a mile!!
Some of the speech I had prepared was taken from this blog and reading it aloud made it all real again.  It was difficult to disguise the breaking of my voice as I held the tears back. 
I shall be addressing a Womens Institute group from the Somerset village of Cheddar.  They are a traditional 'Jam and Jerusalem' W.I, in total comparison to the Shoreditch Sisters who I interviewed for Body Gossip last Summer.  I do hope they take it easy on me.

So here it is.  My talk in full.  For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, or bought my book you may  recognise parts of it.  Wish me luck and I would appreciate any comments.....

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2014
SWEDA stands for Somerset & Wessex Eating Disorders Association and they are a small charity based in Somerset. Unfortunately for anyone living in rural Somerset this is in fact one of only two eating disorders support group in the area, and that area is big!!! I have been attending SWEDA on and off for about the past 15 or so years and they have been a crucial part in my recovery. SWEDA isn't just a support group, they educate schools and local GP surgeries, and they have telephone, email and computer helplines as well as offering low cost counselling to sufferers,and retreat days. They are a necessity to sufferers and carers in my local community and beyond.
But why does SWEDA work? It worked for me to be with people who knew what I was feeling, how I was hurting and who didn’t judge. You had hope when people were obviously getting better. It is also important for carers to have an ear to listen. Eating disorders not only affect the person, but also those close to them.
Another reason why an organisation like this is needed is because the NHS referral system sucks big time!! Often you cannot get referred on straight away if your BMI is not at a certain level, therefore waiting for months, and not everyone can afford to go private.
SWEDA is needed because ultimately eating disorders kill. People die. They have the highest fatality rate of any mental illness.
Shocking isn't it?

So, when you hear the term ‘eating disorder’, what do you imagine?
Do you have a picture in your head of a young skinny girl, severely emaciated or an overweight person who can't pass the fridge without eating the contents. I asked my Husband the same question and he could only give me the example of an underweight person; and that is after living with me for 15 years!
During Eating Disorders Awareness Week I would like to share my story of what It is like to live with an eating Disorder and recover, and also to dispel some of the common myths surrounding the illness.

So what is an eating disorder? The medical definition is “any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits.”

For the majority of people eating is second nature. The most you have to think about is what you are going to cook for tea tomorrow. The physical act of eating is not a challenge, is not something that fills you with fear or keeps you at awake at night.
So let me ask you something?
When you have that custard cream with your coffee are you terrified of losing control and eating until you are physically sick?
Do you punish yourself to get rid of the calories by pounding the streets at night or exercising in secret where no-one can see you?
Do you spend your day counting calories, restricting your food and feel bad, guilty or worthless if you don't get it quite right?
This is how I and others with an eating disorder felt on a daily basis.

So what types of Eating Disorders are there?
The most commonly known is Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia is an illness which stems from low self-esteem and an inability to cope safely with worries and problems. Sufferers of Anorexia have an intense fear of gaining weight so severely restricting their calorie intake. They may also exercise excessively and abuse diuretics, slimming pills or laxatives. People with Anorexia generally have a low body weight.

Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia is also a disorder linked with self esteem, emotional problems and stress. You may constantly think about calories, dieting and ways of getting rid of the food you have eaten. Bulimia is actually more common than anorexia, but is more of a hidden illness, because people with bulimia usually remain an average or just over average body weight. Bulimia can go unnoticed for a long time.

Binge Eating Disorder: sufferers find themselves unable to control intense compulsions to binge eat in a manner very similar to Bulimia Nervosa, but unlike Bulimia do not try to get rid of the food. Consequently people with Binge Eating Disorder tend to have higher body weights than those with Bulimia Nervosa. Many people with Binge Eating Disorder also describe fears around body weight and consequently can be highly distressed (and depressed) by their constant struggles with eating and weight gain.

Eating disorders are very complex which means that there can be variations in the typical signs and symptoms. When someone has some or not all of the signs for anorexia or bulimia, they may be classed as having eating disorder not otherwise specified. Regardless of the physical symptoms Eating disorders all have one thing in common, the emotions and feelings that are underlying.
So now we know what Eating Disorders are...lets look at what they are not!

Eating Disorders are not a phase.
Eating Disorders are not a life choice.
Eating Disorders are not attention seeking.
Eating Disorders are not just about food.
Eating Disorders are not caused by the media.
Eating Disorders do not just affect Girls.
Eating Disorders are not a life sentence...recovery is possible

Current research shows that 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder, of which around 11% are male.
Of these 10% of sufferers have Anorexia.
40% have Bulimia. 50% fall into the the category of EDNOS of which binge eating disorder is included.
One in five of the most seriously affected will die prematurely.


I was one of the 10% with Anorexia and a survivor.
As long as I can remember, even as a child I have never been heavy. I was what you may class as naturally slim. As a teenager I even attempted to buy 'weight on,' tablets in an effort to gain a few pounds, so my preoccupation with food and weight loss later in life was a surprise to most.
I was born on march 17th 1967 in Middlesbrough in the North east of England. My parents were North East born and bred, both came from typical working class backgrounds and had typical Northern values.
I arrived several weeks early with a weight of just over 3 pounds!! having to stay in hospital for many months until I had reached my healthy weight. This was not the only time in my life this was to happen!!!

Fast forward now to several years later, I'm 11 years old and in secondary school. The next 5 years were to be some of the worst days of my life.
I was a very nervous and quiet child which to some made me a pushover and an easy target for the bullies.
I was small for my age, skinny and lanky, national health glasses and an extremely unflattering uniform. What little self confidence and self esteem I had was soon to be bashed and taunted out of me. I couldn't escape when passing the school gates either, I was taunted by kids I didn't even know. I didn't feel able to confide in anyone and although I loved my parents dearly parenting does not come with a manual and most of us learn from experience.....
I reached puberty late in life and whilst those around me were blossoming and trading in their vests for ladybird bras I was lagging behind and this didn't go unnoticed!
Our school P.E department had those horrible communal showers and we had an evil teacher who would insist that we all showered together after games. This was embarrassing enough but even more so when you had a chest as flat as an ironing board. One day whilst showering a group of girls turned the water temperature up full making sure I had to run out. They had of course hidden my towel and my clothes and left me standing there naked, in tears whilst they all pointed and laughed. This was one of many incidents too many and hurtful to mention.

I didn't have a huge amount of friends at school, just a few who knew me in class but didn't know the real me. It was many years before I would let anyone know that person.
I was generally a good kid. Didn't smoke, didn't drink, helped with the jobs at home, had a paper-round, went to Girl Guides, Sunday School, church and did my Duke Of Edinburgh award but still there was something missing inside me. I tried to find it within the church, I became a Christian, read my bible daily, went to fellowship groups and tried to be 'good,'. I did make some good friends during this time, real friends but ultimately when I started college a few years later this was just something else to add to my long list of things to tease me about.
At the age of 18, only a month after leaving college I moved 300 miles away on my own with a suitcase, a tape player and ten pounds in my purse. I had managed to get a job in a little Somerset village with live in accommodation. My new life had begun, or so I thought.
The people I worked with were really friendly although most a lot older than me, the job was good but extremely unsociable. We all worked long hours then spent most evening together in the local pub.
Drinking alcohol was not something I was used to and very soon I had started on the hard stuff. I was still very lonely, a long way from home and the only spirit I was receiving was in a bottle of Gin!!
At the age of 18 I had never had a boyfriend, not for the want of trying!! One evening I had a friend over for dinner, a male friend who was several years older than me. We drank some and without going into detail he pushed the friendship a little too far.! I was made to feel it was my fault, it was a situation which made future attempts at relationships difficult.
I made two very good friends in my first few years in Somerset, one which had a huge impact on my life and things which had happened. I even bought a house with them and went on what was to be be the first of many foreign holidays. We would sit and share stories of our lives, where we were brought up, things that had happened. It was during one of these evenings that I had a realisation, a realisation that made me question certain aspects of my life. With these questions came sadness, more alcohol and a gradual downward spiral in my life.
I would take the long coach trip home several times a year and it was on one of these trips that I had a comment from my Gran.. Have you put on weight? You're looking a little chubby.
It was on the same trip back that the sandwiches cut into little triangles that Mum had made went into the bin when I arrived back.
Now I'm not blaming dear old gran for my eating disorder, that throw away comment possibly triggered something brewing anyway. I was already feeling pretty low, hated the way I looked, I saw myself as ugly and never dreamed that anyone could love me how I was. My life was pretty rubbish and I was going to make it better..or so I thought.
The next period of my life is a bit of a whirlwind involving starvation, bulimia, alcohol, exercise, and laxatives. I have no idea how long it went on for but it ended with a diagnosis of Anorexia and a stay in a psychiatric hospital. I will never forget the day that my friends drove me to the beautiful village of Wells. I had agreed to go in as a voluntary patient to try and make me well again. To be honest at that point I was so physically weak I would have agreed to anything.
It was a stereotypical Victorian 'asylum' building, a huge, haunting but beautiful piece of architecture set in the most amazing grounds and gardens. I was on an open ward in a side wing with patients who were less vulnerable. I can remember being checked in, my bags being searched for any prohibited items then having a full physical examination. At the point any dignity I had, had just left the building never to return again.
The hospital had very strict rules. I was not allowed to exercise, could not do any occupational activities or see the therapist until my weight had reached an acceptable level!! I was to eat three meals a day plus snacks, which was ridiculous considering I didn't eat. I was given a certain amount of trust until a fellow patient used to swop plates with me and leave me with an empty plate. Good old George. After getting caught I then had a Nurse chaperon and poor George got a ticking off.
Mendip hospital was a depressing place to be. I shared a room with 5 other women, some who would wail in the night and scream before they were due to go off for their electric shock treatment, You couldn't bathe after 8pm as there was insufficient staff if you killed yourself in the bathroom and the washbasins were all communal. Hideous. I would relieve the boredom by going to the pub for the evening with friends then finding the front door of the hospital locked on my return. The night staff were not impressed when I had to ring the bell to get back in.
The consistency of care was dreadful. I would be weighed every other day, at different times in different times!! I would even pop into town to the chemists to pick up 'supplies' without being found out. Generally though, I was a good girl, I did what I was told...eventually, and discharged myself before I got to my target weight and buggered off to Holland on a camping holiday.
I met my first Husband shortly after leaving hospital and we hit it off straight away. The first few years were amazing. We went to concerts, theatre, ballet, meals out the works. He was the first man I met who really loved me and honestly didn't care about all the superficial stuff. Despite people thinking we were an odd couple I thought we were a match made in heaven. Things move pretty quickly, we got married, had an amazing wedding and at the age of 24 we had our first and only child. 6 years later we had separated.
I still feel sad that things didn't work out as I see it a a failure but we are both happy now. I was a complete cow for a lot of our married life and I think that's due to me not accepting myself and not liking myself. I was very insecure.
It was a very hard split ultimately due to the fact that a child was involved. This saw my eating disorder again rearing its ugly head, trying to give me some control and order in my life and numbing the painful feelings. This was also the first time my new Partner and now Husband had any dealings with 'it.' This time though I had become more devious and more secretive. This was something I was good at. It was a lot of pressure on him as I had lost a lot of friends through my separation and also through a change in job. I'm surprised he has stuck around for so long and is still with me now.
Its weird how each period of past disordered eating remains fuzzy to me now, chaotic and madness.
I managed a 10 year clear of disordered behaviour. I have probably had the same body image issues that most people out there have, my stomachs too big, my thighs are wobbly blah blah blah.I would have a few hiccups where I become obsessive over calorie counting, restricting food but would generally snap out of it.

The last, and probably the worst period of my illness crept up quickly. I was referred to the gym due to problems with my hips and muscle strength. At the same time I had booked a holiday and was worrying about a bikini body, along with this I was struggling with insecurities over a friendship...all combined a sure disaster and a full blown eating disorder.
For the next 10 months my life was a nightmare of depression, self loathing, panic, hatred, fear and anxiety. My life involved around food. I would lie, take to my bed pretending to be ill, say Id eaten, throw food out, binge, vomit, drink too much,overspend on cookery mags, trawl through pro anorexia websites. My face would be puffy from crying and vomiting, I had toothache, sores on my knuckles, hair on my face, it hurt to lie down, I was constantly dizzy, couldn't sleep,freezing cold, joints hurt, stomach swollen, throat hurts, headache, dehydration, vitamin deficiency, passing out, osteoporosis.
All this I thought would make me happy, would make me feel good about myself, would make others like wasn't about being thin. Yes, I would look at myself and want to be thinner, but it was the achievement, the sense of control over your life,the ability to numb the feelings and emotions and not accept what was happening,just one more pound, then another, then another.
The more I got deeper into it the harder it was to get out. I was taking medication for depression and was sinking further into a dark hole of despair and nothingness. I had no care for myself or even those around me. I was selfish and self loathing an empty shell of a person. I had reached rock bottom.

So how did I recover? This is a question I have been asked many times, a question which has no easy or definite answer. In short, I had to want to recover.
In the long periods of what I would class as recovery I may not be showing classic eating disordered signs but would have the thoughts, horrendous negative body image, low self esteem and a general feeling of worthlessness. My instant reaction to stress or feeling out of control within my life would result in food restriction or purging. It made me feel better, gave me a sense of release from my emotions and a way of numbing emotional pain, all at a cost to my physical and mental health.
My decision to choose recovery wasn't an easy choice. You may find that difficult to grasp, the choice is ultimately live or die, and when I say that I didn't choose to have an eating disorder how can I make the choice not to have one? The problem with starvation is is screws with your head as well as your body. You may think you are in control but that couldn't be further than the truth. Your head is messed, thoughts are not rational, your thinking pattern is all over the place as well as your metabolism. You have well and truly thrown a spanner in your works and it will take more than a pill from the Doctor to fix you up again. The thought of giving up a part of my life, my whole being, my identity was a scary prospect. But this was a choice I made, and the best decision I have ever made. What helped alongside the support of family and friends was my understanding of the illness, the way malnourishment affects your way of thinking, the knowledge given to me on how my body would change through recovery and what to expect. It was during my recovery I became involved in writing. I found it cathartic to put my feelings down on paper. I started writing a blog and became involved in many online recovery groups. I was astounded at what a huge problem eating disorders are and also how misunderstood the problem is. There is a misconception that eating disorders only affect young girls, and an almost glamorisation and sensationalism given to those with anorexia in the media. There was little documented about EDNOS, binge eating disorder or eating disorders in men. The online communities gave me hope and support, it was such an inspiration to hear words from others and to not be judged or misunderstood. To know that true recovery was possible was like being offered a lifeline.

It was through my blogging that I began to write poetry, and use the pen name, 'The Cupcake Queen.' During my eating disorder I had an obsession with baking and would spend hours baking cupcakes for other people. There was always a standing joke in our house that whenever I got thinner my Husband got bigger!!
I compiled the poetry into my book, 'The Cupcake Queen Bites Back,' which went on sale during EDAW last year with all royalties going to sweda.. These will be available for sale at the end of this meeting.

I would like to finish with one of my Poems called 'A Day In My Shoes.'

Don't judge me on what you see,
A lost and broken soul,
Taunted night and day with numbers in my head,
That dinner you eat, it filled me with dread.
Why don't you eat? Its as easy as that.
I wish.....
Don't judge me for what I said,
It wasn't me,
It was the voices in my head,
Don't eat, you'll get fat, you're ugly, worthless,
A failure,
Don't judge me for how I made you feel,
I was keeping myself safe,
I was in control,
Keeping my emotions in check,
Numb, black, despairing of life and living.
A void....
Don't judge me for being, 
Give me a switch,
If I could I would have flicked it ten times over, I would.
And another thousand of times,
For all those still fighting,
And those who have lost......
If I could have told myself how bad it would get,
I would have told myself a millions time over.
I don't judge myself,
So don't you....

Thank you for listening.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2014. Fact v Fiction.

Today marks the beginning of Eating Disorders Awareness Week in the UK with B-eat, the national ED charity using the tagline, "Sock it to Eating Disorders."
Throughout this week I will be writing about focusing on  recovery and all the ups and downs that go with it, but first lets take a look at what some people think Eating Disorders are actually about.....

About Getting Attention.
Interesting concept!!  Since most people with an eating disorder try to hide their illness, this is almost laughable.  I did all I can in the beginning to hide my illness, at times just wanting to be invisible.  I hated the idea of people looking at me or checking up on me. II just wanted it to be me and my Anorexia.

A result of the media, fashion or Hollywood.
Ok. We all know about airbrushing and the so called ideal, unobtainable body image which jumps out at us from every glossy magazine stand.  We know about the huge pressure all of us, particularly Women are put under by advertisers to be slimmer, younger, sexier, but this does not cause eating disorders.  Yes, it can cause low self esteem and negative body image which can trigger people who are succestible to ED, but in general they do not cause them. When I was a young girl I hardly watched TV. There was no internet, and the only role models I looked up to were photo love stories in Jackie magazine.

Only serious when the person is emaciated.
There is a serious flaw in the system when you go for help.  After actually plucking up the courage to see a GP, you are told you are not light enough!!  Seriously?  I need to go home and starve myself a little bit more in order to warrant help!!  Total bullshit!! My last experience of a GP I have to say was much more positive, so don't let this put you off asking for help.
The effects that purgeing can have on a body is immense.  Most people with ednos or Bulimia are of an 'normal' weight. But the damage that is going on inside their bodies is dangerous and needs to be taken seriously.

Girls only get Eating Disorders.
More and more men are being treated for an eating Disorder. Out of the 1.6 million people in the UK who have an eating disorder, 11% are male.

ED's are glamorous.
Rotting teeth, red knuckles, hairy backs, bones jutting out, thinning hair, brittle bones, sunken face, puffy cheeks, blood-shot eyes.  Can't see that being this seasons look can you?

Always Visible.
You have probably met someone this past month who has an eating disorder and you wouldn't even notice.  They do not discriminate and can happen to anyone whatever sex, size, age or colour.

Impossible to recover from.
Very difficult and a lot of hard work, but not impossible.

If you or someone you know is affected by an eating disorder, please seek out help, either from your GP, college, school counsellor or Nurse, or access support websites. beat sweda Neda
You don't need to go through this alone. xx

Monday, 10 February 2014

February 10th. BeYOUtiful warts and all.

As promised, an update on my makeover photoshoot last Saturday, written with Body Gossip  We Are Fabulous In February and Leyah Shanks Body Confidence in mind.
For those of you who are up to date with the UK weather, the south west of England is still being battered with heavy rainfall and strong winds.  Suffice to say after dodging the rain in between trains and taxis I turned up at the studio looking a little more 'weathered' than usual. 
I was initially very nervous but was greeted by a very bubbly lady who went through a questionnaire of the 'look' that I was hoping for and what colours, styles I liked or wanted to avoid.  I was as usual very indecisive but eventually went for the 'vintage' look.
After a glass of bubbly I was shown to the hair/make-up area and spent the next 'what seemed like an eternity,' having my hair 'fluffed up' and my face used as some sort of canvas.  I must admit, my first impression was a little shocking!!  I could only just keep my eyes open with the weight of eyeliner, mascara and eyeshadow, I felt like a china doll.
I was then met by Marcus, my photographer.  He was Italian and a bit of a cheeky chappy who did his best to make me feel comfortable.
I was shown to the studio where Marcus went through the outfits I had chosen.  2 pairs of stripper shoes, compulsory mans shirt, trilby, 2 pairs of pants that are barely worth wearing, 1 1950's style waist chincher, balconette scaffolding, a vintage style tea dress and not forgetting my hands to cover the bosoms.
We started off carefully, doing some simple head shots whilst wearing my dress....... and then the clothes started to come off.  Thankfully the studio was well heated.
The whole shoot took about an hour and I have to say I now have the up-most respect for photographic models.  Getting yourself into 'natural' looking poses is not that easy!! I was at first really self conscious but after a while I forgot there was anyone behind the camera, even when I was half naked attempting to look sexy in shoes I couldn't walk in and nearly fell off every time I changed position.
My highlight was laying across a bed, stretched out in underwear and feeling fabulous, I really didn't care, and that felt good.  
When Marcus finished the shoot with,'Jackie you can now put some decent clothes on,' I was straight in the bathroom cleaning the slap of my face.  I wanted to be naked again, but not in a clothing way.
It wasn't long before I was taken into the viewing room to watch a film reel of all my shots with Amy Winehouse 'Valerie' playing in the background.  I was really taken aback when I saw the photos.  My instant reaction was self criticism.  I started to pick myself to pieces but then I stopped myself.
The pictures I were looking at was actually me.
I had a vision in my head of the pose I wanted, the perfect  image I wanted to capture, the model picture I wanted to emulate but that wasn't me. I was the Woman on the screen. The bright, strong, slightly weathered but in her own way beautiful Woman.
I could see the cellulite on the tops of my thighs along with the stretch marks.  I could make out the dimpled skin and the scar from my hip operation.  I could have had all these flaws and imperfections airbrushed out, but I chose not to.  I chose not to because I am not that Woman in a glossy magazine.  I am not that Woman on a street billboard. I am not that Woman shouting out at you from your TV screen that you could look better.
I am me, a 40 something wife and Mother and I am enough.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

February 4th. Getting my baps out!

Before you do a double take, please note, the above image is not of me; although I have to say I would be quite impressed if I had an arse like hers!!
No, this is my 'I am practically quivering so much the cupcake topping is curdling' post, prior to my Boudoir photo shoot on Saturday.  I will admit to be just a little bit nervous.
I went shopping to Bath on Saturday, and after visiting the lingerie department of practically every store, and walking round the perimeter of the city at least fifteen times,I came to the conclusion that the women of Bath are far too posh and resorted to the sultry haven of Ann Summers.
Now the issue I have with Ann Summers is they are not very practical.  I am a 'big pants' girl and like to make sure that In the event of an accident, or if I fall on my behind I can rest assured it is completely covered. I would like to think that I will never be in the position (scuse the pun,) where a Gynaecologist will need quick access to my lady bits via a pair of crotchless frilly pants!!
I have decided that my photos should emphasise my best bits, therefore I will dress up my bottom and legs.  I think I have chosen well, but decided against the shop assistants idea of nipple tassles.  I want to look sexy not clean my shoes!
I will let you know how I get on.  I will probably be spending the rest of the week practising sultry pouts and bottom sticking out in the bathroom mirror.
I wonder what Kev will think if he comes come from work and finds me in the kitchen in nothing but a cupcake pinny and heels?
Happy Valentines kev.

Friday, 24 January 2014

January 24th . Time To Talk

The biggest problem with medication for Depression is they generally make you feel like shit, and I have been seriously feeling like shit!
A chemical hangover is not nice.  After 10 hours sleep I should be waking up refreshed not wanting to hide my head under the pillow, wrap myself in the duvet and go into a lock down for the rest of the day..... or weekend.
I think at the moment its a bit of a balancing act, trying to get the timings right so as not to disrupt my day.
I'm functioning OK at work but really having to challenge myself with lots of self-talk. I put all my effort into focusing on my work and being the best I can, by the time I get home I really can't be arsed anymore. I am starting to get the,'whats wrong,' 'you don't seem yourself,' 'you look like you've lost weight' statements. I have learnt to smile, brush off the comments sand carry on with my day.
Why do we find it so damn hard to talk about Mental Health??  Maybe I'm scared of my colleagues responses,If I had the flu I wouldn't think twice.

February 6th is Time To Talk about Mental Health Day, maybe then we can start a change.  Just maybe I will start a conversation.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

January 23rd. My A to Z. The Letter T

My A to Z
The Letter T.

Tactile.....  I am a very tactile person, which help in my job.  I love the touch of certain fabrics whilst also disliking some fabrics against my skin!  I love the feel of silk, velvet, faux fur and snuggly fleeces.
I love the texture of bath-bombs when they are fizzing. I like to hold them in my hand and feel the fizz against my skin.  I love my Husbands hair.  When it was long I used to go to sleep with my fingers entwined in his locks :)  Maybe it was the pain of finding me attached to his scalp each morning that prompted him to have it cut!

Toes.....  I think I have weird toes!  That is all I have to say on that subject.  If you want to see them 
you will need to wait until the Summer.

Toby.....  my amazing Son.  What can I say that I haven't said already?  
  • When he was a toddler he set the alarms of in a local clothes shop by having a tantrum and grabbing at a rail.
  • He asked a large Man if he had swallowed a baby!!
  • He thought Gammon was a Fish.
I have many more but I won't cause him unnecessary embarrassment. 


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

January 22nd. My A to Z. The letter S

My A to Z
The Letter S.

Summer......  As I sit listening to the wind bashing against the window pains I think forward to our English Summer and lighter longer days.  I long for the warmth of the Sun on my face as I look up to the bright blue skies; the freedom of sandals and the brushing of my dress against my ankles. I can almost taste the apples in the cider as I spend glorious afternoons with friends in a local beer garden. 
But for now I will stay snuggled on the sofa listening to the rain, cranking up the central heating wrapped up in my onesie!!

Sister....  I am lucky to have 2 amazing Sisters, one who is only 11 months older and the other 15 years my junior.  Both have done an amazing job bringing up their Children despite obstacles and challenges put in their way.  They have both had physical and emotional challenges and I am so proud of the way they have coped. Love you both more than you could imagine.

Sushi..... I always wanted to like Sushi.  The restaurants with the conveyabelt of food look amazing.  I hope the process is quicker than collecting your luggage after Holiday.  I have tried the proper fishy sushi but couldn't get on with the texture, instead opted for the safe bet, of rice with seaweed and peppers. 

Struggles....   are what makes you the person you are. 

Serendipity.....  one of my favourite films which I was introduced to by my friend Jen. I could watch it over and over and still cry.

Spectrum.......  of beauty.  There is no standard of beauty which is right or wrong.  Beauty comes in different shapes, sizes and colours.  Don't be told by anyone you are not beautiful.... 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

January 21st. My A to Z. The Letter R

My A to Z
The Letter R.

Rhodes....  For those of you who know me well you will know of my love for the Greek islands.Rhodes is a beautiful Island which we have visited 3 times, the most out of any other place we have spent our holidays.
I have some very happy, but mixed experiences of Rhodes.  My first visit was in 2010 when I was deeply entrenched in an eating disorder.  It was a worrying time for my Husband and he was considering cancelling as he thought I would be unable to cope with it. Holidays are often food and drink focused with evenings spent in local Tavernas taking in the food and local wine.  Along with the intense heat and walking, it was understandable that he was concerned.  But we did go, and we had a wonderful time.  The second time was after my hip operation and I was still using a crutch.  We went back again last year and the owner of a local bar was astounded to see me walking unaided.  He had presumed I had a disability!!

Racism......    we weren't born hating other people because of the colour of their skin, or because of their country of origin,  So why do some people end up hating on someone because of this?  Is it ignorance?  Lack of understanding of anothers way of life, fear, judging on experience or is it learned behaviour from the way they are raised? Whatever it is, racism sucks.  People are bad because they are bad, not because of the colour of their skin.

Radishes.....  I don't understand radishes!!  I cannot see the point in them.  My Mum used to put them in Salads, you can make pretty flowers out of them but anything else is pretty pointless.

Rhubarb..... never ever eat raw makes you very ill.  My Sister and I found this out once when we pinched some out of the neighbours garden, dipped it in sugar and ate it raw.  Serves us right really.

Monday, 20 January 2014

January 20th. It's ok.

It's OK to say, I'm not OK,
That I'm back on the 'happy pills'
That I struggle to get out of bed,
And the smile on the outside doesn't show,
On the inside I feel dead.
It's OK to admit I feel a fake,
That I let people down,
That the things I say,
I don't always feel that way.
It's OK to say it's a struggle,
That I'm fighting the thoughts in my head.
But I'm fighting,
Not giving in,
And that's OK,
I will be OK.
I will continue to win.

A friend said to me recently, Stop pretending everything's OK when it's not." And she is right.
Everything is not OK and it's OK to admit that.
It's really shocking how quickly depression can creep up on you and before you know it, bang you're sucked into the black hole and everything that goes with it.
I was afraid to admit something was wrong for many reasons.  I didn't want to worry my Family or Friends. I felt I was letting people down in the Eating Disorders community, those I was trying to support. I felt a failure in myself as I always said I would never feel this way again.
I have had to put myself first and feel bad for disconnecting from the groups and forums I was involved in....but I need to keep myself safe.  I have hidden any posts from my news feed from Facebook friends which may be weight/diet related as I currently feel unable to cope with seeing these. I have stopped posting on a blogging site as I was expected to comment on fellow bloggers posting, often these were also diet related.

I have no reason to feel the way I do, there are no triggers, no issues...I am confused.
My Doctor said it goes with the territory and I shouldn't beat myself up about it. I'm back on the happy pills and I go back to see her in 3 weeks.
I still advocate recovery from eating disorders, and I do believe I will get through this bit of a blip.
It is OK not to be OK.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

January 19th. My A to Z. The letter Q.

My A to Z.
The Letter Q.

Questions.....  I am always questioning things.  Why did I do that? Was it good enough? Am I good enough? Am I too much? Am I wearing too much make-up?  Do I look OK?
Does it actually matter what anyone else thinks?  Yes it matters if I am doing a good job, that's what I get paid to do....but I am also human and humans make mistakes. What I think of myself Is the only opinion that matters.  I do not need the acceptance of others.

Qualifications.....  I am not an academic, and I am OK with that.  I left School with a handful of 0'Levels, most I achieved after a resit.  I was always rubbish at exams but excelled at coursework, which is probably why I managed to sail through my NVQ's at work.  What I lack in letters after my name I make up for in life experience, and that is something you can't study and revise for!!

Quad-Bike......  I am not a natural driver and despite numerous lessons have never been put through to my driving test. A few years ago myself and the Hubby went on holiday with a group of friends to Egypt. We had an amazing time and one day took an excursion which included quad-biking in the dessert. Me being the only non-driver, had to test drive around a route lines with bollards, surprisingly enough I managed the challenge and was allowed to take the Quad on my own.
So there I was taking on the terrain of the Egyptian sands......and I was bloody terrible!!  I hated every minute of it, kept hitting sand dunes and ended up with one of the guides sitting on the back of my quad and steering m out of the way.  Never again. next time I shall stick to the camel!!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

January 18th . My A to Z. The Letter P.

My A to Z.
The Letter P.

Photography....  Not something I am particularly good at but nevertheless, something which gives me immense pleasure. I love to take photos, especially of friends and family on special occasions. My house is filled with Memories. Montages of special occasions hang from walls in nearly every room. Every shelf is filled with photos of times gone by.  Some are of those still with us, others hold memories of those who have passed. Each is treasured for the memory they hold. 
I hold all the photos that Mum and Dad took when I was younger.  Most would have been taken on my Dads old camera, a Japanese Yashica Mat.  Dad bought this camera when he was in the Air Force. It was given to me when he died, along with the light meter, leather case and the import receipt.  I would love to see if it still worked.  I can remember as a child looking down the top of it into a tinted grid, it was fascinating. Maybe one day I will save some more memories with it.

Perfection...  No matter how hard you try, you will never be without a flaw, and why should that matter?  Perfectly that another oxymoron?
“If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.” Leo Tolstoy

Parmo....  Unless you have been to the North East of England, particularly Teeside, there is little chance you will have heard of a Parmo, never mind tasted one.  Trust me, you haven't missed much.
A lot of people who have left the land of smog (Middlesbrough) crave the artery hardening, heart attack inducing plate of fat cunningly disguised as a takeaway delicacy. 
So what exactly is a Parmo?  It is a breaded cutlet of deep fried Chicken or Pork topped with a white bechamel sauce and cheese, served with massive amounts of chips and a portion of salad.

  Parmos are also offered with additional toppings in combinations that vary from restaurant to restaurant. For example:
  • Parmo hotshot - chicken or pork topped with cheese, pepperoni, peppers, garlic butter and chili
  • Parmo Kiev - chicken only topped with cheese, garlic butter, and mushrooms
  • Parmo Italia - chicken or pork topped with cheese, garlic butter and ham, with a further topping of mozzarella cheese
  • Meat feast parmo - chicken or pork topped with pepperoni, chicken and ham
  • Parmo Zeno - chicken or pork topped with cheese and onion.

Friday, 17 January 2014

January 17th.My A to Z. The letter O.

My A to Z.
The Letter O.

So I wonder how many of you thought I was going to be mentioning 'that' O?  Sorry to disappoint, but that's not on the agenda today. Maybe later!

Olfactory....isn't that just a wonderful word?  Basically a posh meaning for Smell.  It's a word I have used during sensory work with clients when working around the 5 senses. But for the purpose of this blog I shall stick with smells.  We all have smells that we either love or hate.Along with other senses, smells can take us back to other times in our lives.  Remember that horrid, chemical stench in the dentist or the sweet sickly smell of candy floss and popcorn? Instant time travel to dental check ups and visit to Crows fair each summer in my home town of Middlesbrough.
Some of my favourite smells I no doubt share with many others. I love the smell of Lillie's, especially the pink ones; fresh baked bread, strawberries, angel perfume, vanilla, hot brewed coffee, marzipan, Cinnamon and all the Christmas, festive smells.  I love the smell of fresh cut grass, bonfire night, hot dogs, onions and the seaside.  
I hate the smell of TCP, vomit,, raw meat and cooked cabbage. Body odour on the tube, really overpowering fragrances and wet dogs. Yuk!!

Ordinary....  I don't make my self out to be something I'm not. I'm ordinary. Nothing special and certainly not in a minority.

Oscillate... what I do If I have drank too much Cider.

Oxymoron... one size fits all!!!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

January 16th. My A to Z. The letter N.

My A to Z.
The Letter N

New.....  There are 2 sides to New. The really good and the little bit scary. New shoes, new haircut, new house, new clothes, new haircut, new baby, new relationship. All things to look forward to, to make you happy, to make you feel good about yourself. Then there's the new that you go into with a bit of apprehension. The new school or the new job. Remember that first  day at the school gates? blazer sleeves too big, clutching your bag hoping you will fit in.  Or the start of a new job, trying hard to be part of the team, balancing the questions and use of initiative so as not to look too confrontational or cocky. Then there's now, the New Year. Saying goodbye to the crap of the last and promising yourself that you will be a better person, you will be this that and another. Does that ever happen? Why can't you just stay as you are and be ok with that?

No.....a word I need to add to my vocabulary and Stick to.  No, I can't take on that extra piece of work. No I can't do that as I'm on my lunch break.  No, No, No,No,No.

Nana....  I have written about my Nana (Grandmother) here. No other words need to be said apart from she was an exceptional woman, and I love her so much.

Nostalgic....  the older I get the more I look on the past. Not in a negative way but more in a 'can you remember these when we were a kid sort of way?'  I love goggling old stuff. I could visit the Bakelite museum every day and spend hours salivating over bits of plastic. I had boxes of old Jackie annuals which only recently could I bring myself to get rid of.  There's nothing wrong with reminiscing about the past, just don't live in at or let the mistakes of your past shape your future.  

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

January 15th. My A to Z. The letter M

My A to Z.
The Letter M

It was last weekend whilst tidying and re-labelling my blog I stumbled across my A to Z.  How on earth had I forgotten about this?  So as it hasn't been updated since 2011 I shall endevour to complete it during my post a day in 2014.
Hope you enjoy.

Mother.... Mum, Mom or as they say 'Up North,' "Our Mam."  
Being a Mother has to be one of the scariest but most beautiful and fulfilling roles ever. I never wanted children but out of the blue I became broody then became pregnant very quickly.  I didn't have the best pregnancy but was lucky to never suffer morning sickness.  I gained weight and pregnancy weight rapidly, to the point where I was sent for a second scan as It was thought I could be having twins.  Thankfully the family twin genetics passed me by and hit my younger Sister.
Bringing up a child comes with no instruction manual, most of what we learn is through our own parenting and is passed from generation to generation.  I was lucky to realise in time that some things are not right and you can change patterns of behaviours.
I am so proud of my Son and the choices he has made in life.  I hope he can remember his childhood with happiness.

Makeovers......  In the past year I have been given makeover experiences as gifts for my Birthday and Christmas.  Are my friends and family trying to tell me something?  One is a bodouir photoshoot which is something I have always wanted to do.  I think my reasons for having it done have shifted over the years.  Originally I wanted one to show that I could be beautiful and was willing to be airbrushed to an inch of my life.  Now when I have the photos taken I want no enhancements. Just me, stretch marks, bingo wings, scars and all.
Funnily enough whilst writing this the Photography company phoned. I'm booked to get my kit off Feb 8th. Now to think of how I can incorporate a cup-cake into my photo. Ideas anyone?

Music.....I live with music on a daily basis. Wherever I go I have it playing.  No wonder my Hubby always says its deadly quiet when I'm away!!  My taste is music constantly changes and I have a habit of listening to one album day in and day out until I get bored with it.  I will always have my favourites though. The Carpenters, Buddy Holly and the Cranberries will always stay in my top 10.

Memories....happy or sad, there's no getting away from them.  Don't dwell on the bad or the sad, accept them and move.

Eating disorders awareness week 2019

I didn't just wake up one day and decide not to eat. It started with difficulties at work. I wasn't coping, was crippled with anxie...