Hello

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I have a weekly face time catch up with a best friend of mine. A best friend I’ve actually only known two years, a best friend who’s been a best friend possibly less than a year but, regardless, the best of the best. 

Doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone, all that matters is that they’re there.

But when you realise they are there, even when you didn’t expect it because you hadn’t asked them to be…that’s when you know just how special they are.

I cancelled last weeks’ FaceTime because I was incredibly stressed out for reasons discussed previously and also on that day Dad decided to visit.

I half-reluctantly met him and it was perfectly pleasant but I’m purely going through the motions now (I’m so fed up with him and would be happier without a connection…but mum begs me to stay in touch). 

Anyway, a perfectly pleasant lunch ends with him saying its time I met my half-sibling. He spoke about him so casually throughout lunch, ‘oh Jason has exams soon…oh Jason’s doing this that and the other’ and it’s weird to hear my dad talk oh so normally about a half sibling he surprised us all with a few years ago. The half-sibling he dotes on so much more than he ever did me. One of the reasons I had to pick my mum up all those years ago, one of the reasons there’s no money left and mum can’t pay her bills. I wasn’t even 7 years old when dad started the affair, barely 15 when the kid came along and just 19 when I found photographs and letters and skype messages telling the truth. So much hurt from a man that never cared and yet mum asks me to ‘be nice because he’s still your father and he’s so stressed out.’

Oh yeah, let me just put the man who hurt me over the years, who hurt all of us, first. Let me put him first simply because he has the title of father when all he is in reality, is a glorified sperm donor.

I broke down when I got home after lunch – my head was all over – food was too much to contemplate and I hadn’t been sleeping due to nightmares and I simply didn’t want to be alone so I went to his house to spend the night. I text her apologising for cancelling with no other explanation other than ‘I’m really stressed out’ and she completely understood because great friends always understand. 

But you know what an even better friend does?

This…

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I got this through the post on Monday and I cried. It took me completely by surprise and I cried. I sat on the kitchen floor and cried. I cried because I was slowly realising how much support I have. I’ve never doubted her support but this simply just got me. It went straight to my heart and seemed to release all that pain.

I hadn’t even told her any of the reasons why I cancelled because I’d been so busy the entire week. But that’s the thing. She didn’t need to know the ins and outs to be able to help me. She just knew something was up and that small postcard contained more support than you can even begin to imagine. A small postcard that has pride of place on my bedroom wall. A new daily reminder I can get through all this. A daily reminder that there are people there even when I don’t expect them to be.
Especially when they realise I need them before I do.
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Blue Sky Reflections

You can learn a lot when you’re left to your own devices – in my case 4 whole days and 5 nights. It’s oh so cliched but I found myself a bit more than I thought was possible in Tenerife. I left the country to escape but what did I learn in the process?

Day 1: Being a beach bum taught me to appreciate myself

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Sitting alone on that volcanic black sand beach with the sun shining down on me filled me with relief – a sense of relief I would usually find through purging. I turned off my music and let myself be surrounded by purely my own senses and it was wonderful. It let me consider what’s led to such a pounding in my head lately and how I can overcome it. I didn’t need to resort to a Demon-induced visit to a dark place but rather that safe space I created on the beach which was incredibly calming for me.

I appreciated what I’ve gone through and who I am as a result. There’s a difference between being egotistical and having the confidence to value your self-worth. It’s okay to take a step back to look after yourself. I can’t possibly be a bigger advocate for appreciating the small successes in life; maybe you were faced with a difficult decision but brave enough to make a choice. Maybe the fact you did better on a project than you originally thought you did. Maybe – in my case – the fact you ate dinner without purging.

Think about and appreciate what you’ve already overcome because it makes the future seem less challenging. Instead of thinking how far you need to go appreciate how far you’ve already come. No matter where you are in your recovery the simple fact you are making an effort to recover is an amazing success by each and every one of us.

Appreciating your self-worth also includes giving yourself some time and space to do what you want. Make every decision based on what you need or want to do and trust me, there’s a difference between needing to do something and wanting to! However, sometimes you need to do something simply because you want to! There are no rules, just breathe and relax that control I know we all so desperately crave. Be free in your decisions and happy by choice. We are all such beautiful people who could all with appreciating ourselves a little bit more.

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Day 2: A cloudy day of exploring let me explore my recovery

Definitely an aspect that was hard to accept was that I need to look after myself more. I was so incredibly exhausted and epilepsy flare-ups indicated just ho tired and stressed I’e been lately. A factor that triggers my epilepsy is fatigue – a factor that is all too self-induced following starvation or a purge.

There’s a major need to look after myself physically and mentally will flow naturally. I did purge once – I panicked at eating out due to a lack of control over calories and it shows that whilst I’ve made leaps and bounds I’ve still got work to do.

My last post spoke about switching off my brain for a little bit so my heart can breathe. Maybe I jump too much with the mental recovery without appreciating it goes hand in hand with physical recovery. It’s a two-way street and I need to look after my body so my mind can follow suit and that’s what I’m trying to do now. I’m letting my heart breathe by switching off my brain every now and then.

Day 3: Climbing a volcano revealed I really am the biggest nature nerd I know

I like rocks, I kinda like them a lot and I liked that volcano. Being in nature has always amazed me. Nature is the only thing that keeps my attention for longer than 5 minutes and I get so wonderfully lose in it. Nothing really gets you more than climbing a volcano sitting at the summit, looking at the wonderful landscape and just not thinking. Soak it up with all your senses. Breathe it in, feel it and let your brain switch off.

Conversely, it does make you think. There I am a world away from the tall glass buildings in London – the world truly is a beautiful place and I can’t wait to see more. It’s going to be tough to stay on top of all my work but for once I have the opportunity to explore the world a little bit.

Never forget to make time for yourself – appreciate your needs and value your self-worth. You shouldn’t have to move mountains for those who wouldn’t do the same for you.

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Day 4: Accidentally experiencing Carnavale revealed I truly am happy on my own

So I had no idea my 5 days coincided with Carnavale de Puerto de la Cruz and that was a wonderful realisation! Yes, I did access social media to upload photos and to contact my mum and best friend but I loved realising I wasn’t lonely at all – perhaps it was because the people I may need are always going to be there.

I was so content to wake up and do my own thing; I didn’t really have to contemplate much, I just fancied doing this or that and so I did. I’m a strong believer that when you’re happy on your own and no longer looking back you know you’re doing something right. It’s oh so important to be happy and able to do things on your own.

I really enjoyed not being glued to my phone; not seeing things on social media; not texting any boys; no mind games from anyone; I enjoyed the lack of 21st century ‘dating rules’.

I suppose what this means is that I’m perfectly happy on my own and it’s going to take someone damn special to convince me not to be flying solo one day. Being free from the reigns of the 21st Century World was the most liberating feeling whilst being a beach bum on this island on my own. Dancing in the street with thousands of strangers simply reinforced that I only need myself to fuel my own happiness.

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Day 5: Blue Sky Reflections taught me that I am enough

I have been told this before and I’m starting to think I don’t give myself enough credit for anything that I do. I don’t think I realise that I work just as hard as I do. I’m always questioning what else I can do, mistakenly chasing ‘perfection’ that can never be attained. Maybe I need to stop questioning what else I can do and learn that I am doing everything I can right now and that it is more than enough.

That I am enough.

I am not too much nor am I not good enough; it is simply a matter of coming across the wrong people. The fact I can still love my family and my friends and stay positive and full of hope about things like (dare I say it)…boys…despite how many of those three groups have hurt me. The fact that although I have walls, I could be completely stone cold and yet, I am not. The fact I am always smiling shows just what a strong and beautiful person I am.

And I could not ask to be more than a beautiful person.

None of us can and none of us should

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Posting this picture took a lot of effort and courage because I don’t feel ‘slim’ but I learnt to be so proud of myself and my happiness gave me the bravery to post it online.

 

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Flying Solo

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Guess where I’m writing this post from? Guess where I am? I’m not in London, I’m not even in the UK…I don’t actually know where I am because that’s right, you guessed it, I’m on a plane baby!

Now, before some of you hypochondriacs panic, I’m just drafting with the intention of publishing when I arrive. I’m most certainly not using any wireless connectivity or whatever it is that would cause my post to unfortunately stop mid-sentence…well, strictly speaking mid-flight (too much?).

But here’s the crux of my post. Here’s the inspiration: I’m flying solo.

If you follow my posts you’ll know that around 12 days ago I had a bit of a breakdown at Law School and 4 days afterwards I booked a week away and so here I am writing to you all, soaring above the sea at however-many-thousand-feet and I have never had a bigger smile on my face than I do right now. I am positively glowing from the inside out and hopefully in one week’s time I’ll have a natural glow on my skin to match.

I feel quite proud of myself, you know. ‘Why would someone be proud of themselves for going on holiday?’ I hear you ask. Well, the fact I took a moment to consider what I needed which was my own personal space to clear my head. The fact that for once I didn’t push through the pain and the fact I was prepared to work hard to get what I needed.

I picked up far more shifts than I should have done at the restaurant and had the holiday paid off within the 12 days. I got all my work done in advance (so far in advance that I now have time to do that optional writing competition the firm suggested we do). But most importantly, I’m doing this for myself by myself.

I’m flying solo.

And I’m crazily happy to be doing my own thing. Now, of course I love my friends, I challenge you to find a post that doesn’t show you how much they mean to me but there’s something oh so very important about being on my own right now. It’s only the end of February but it struck me how far more independent I’ve been in 2017.

I’ve always been strong on my own but there’s something different and I’m struggling to word it so here goes. Admittedly the hurt from the beginning of 2016 right through to the end got me to cage my heart up once more but I found the courage to release it again. However, I’ve not unlocked the cage because I’ve met a new guy or anything like that. I’ve let it out because of my own self-love. My own self-compassion that has finally been coaxed out of me once more because of some of the amazing people around me.

My heart is wandering freely.

It’s flying solo.

And my brain is trying to let it wander for once. Just keeping a close eye on it every now and then because, I mean, come on now, we all know I’m a walking liability at the best of times. Example! I held up the plane today because my jacket got caught in my necklace and it took 3 people to work out how to unhook it!

So here I am, sat on a plane writing from the bottom of my heart but soaring however-many-thousand-feet above the sea because I needed to do this. I’m halfway through booking a trip to Thailand in less than 6-weeks-time because I want to do that. I’ve already booked my trip to Peru to climb a super massive hill with someone who has become a best friend of mine. Already planning my August trip to Greece and all with a few exams and work shifts here and there in between.

Strong enough to take a few jumps with my arms open wide, my smile even wider because I’m doing this for myself and everyone else can wait. Especially those boys – you should have seen some reactions when I said in the middle of February that I’d randomly decided to go away and probably wouldn’t be back until the end of April…that was quite funny.

Beating this illness in my own special way because it all starts with looking after myself; letting my heart take over for a short while so my brain can rest.

Someone can have my heart when its ready to be had.

Until then me and my taped-heart aren’t just flying solo – we’re soaring.

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The Number Game ain’t a Fun Game

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Pesky little things numbers, aren’t they?

We place so much value on what a few digits can tell us and yet they truly tell us nothing at all.

I will be the first to admit I become obsessed with the number on the scales all too quickly at times and the number can either comfort me or send me into despair.

I haven’t been happy that the number on the scale seems to have increased and not dropped at all lately. I usually let it dictate my happiness but there’s more to life than numbers.

A friend pointed out my ‘amazing ass’ the other day and so I had a little think.I put together two pictures one from this week and one from 5 weeks ago…here it is…

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Same beautiful smile, same happiness. The only difference was the number on the scales.

But look at the change…not only have my legs gotten more muscular I think I look healthier. Now I’m not saying I was unhealthy in the first picture but I do think I look stronger as a whole in the second.

The numbers have dictated my happiness in the past but that’s all they are…numbers..and I’m worth more. They don’t reflect true values such as friendships, work or even that muscle you’ve clearly gained in the gym!

So chin up and ignore what those numbers tell you. It’s only a digit and only you get to decide what it means.

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A Beautiful Contradiction

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Let me tell you this. Being told that no feelings had developed, no slight spark after almost 10 weeks of seeing me was potentially one of the most hurtful comments I’ve ever had. Being told that it has all been entirely platonic and being asked to explain why I thought he liked me was a massive kick in the teeth.

I was actually somewhat nice about him in my last post but that’s who I am as a person: I try really hard to see the best in people’s words and actions but the more I think about it, the more I realise that he did mess me around, even if he didn’t mean to. I genuinely don’t believe any objective bystander would tell me I misread his actions and it hurts to feel as though the last 10 weeks were nothing.

That he had no feelings.

It hurts. That’s for sure.

It’s compounded further by the fact I opened up to him. I told him things I would never tell someone I was dating and I have that niggle in my mind that had I not done so he might have liked me. I don’t believe that’s why he ended it but I’m always going to have that doubt that I’m simultaneously too much and not good enough. That I’ve been through so much that I’m damaged goods and not worth anyone’s time.

I’m worth someone’s time though. One day.

But guess who text me at 5am on NYE/New Year’s day?

Okay so it was just a generic ‘Happy New Year x’ text but I do feel kinda of happy that I can 100% tell you I didn’t think of him when I was at this party and yet he thought to send me a text. I mean, yes it was just a generic text he probably sent to all, but he still thought to send me a text me regardless of whether he was drunk or not. My heart jumped and sank a little at the same time when I saw it. Probably because I didn’t expect a text and also because I didn’t hope for him to text me either.

I didn’t reply. I considered it because I wanted to be nice but then I thought, even if he was just trying to be nice, why should I give him the satisfaction of me replying? Most importantly, he hurt me so why should I give him even 10 seconds of my time?

If you couldn’t see how your actions and words hurt me then you really don’t deserve my time.

“Remember that you were art long before he came to admire you, and you’ll continue to be art even when he’s gone”

Mind you, this party I went to? Damn amazing. This fully alcohol-catered-unlimited-free-cocktail-party with a pool (yes, of course I went in!) with lovely people all around me was brilliant. I only knew two people but left with so many friends and most importantly, I went with no expectations and I left with no expectations.

(I also left without my bra, but that’s a story for another day and I promise it’s not sex-related!)

I didn’t go to this party freshly hurt by this guy looking for anyone to make myself feel better. Rebounds never work and one-off rebounds most definitely never work. Jumping straight back in doesn’t allow you to heal.

However, I accidentally met someone.

And I had quite a lovely evening in general.

I had an even more lovely New Year’s Kiss.

And that’s all I’ll say about that because he asked for my number and if I’d see him again but I doubt anything will come of it. However, the fact I don’t care what happens feels even more special right now.

I’m hurt but I’m not crying.
I’m hurt but I’m happy.
I’m on my own but I’m alright with the fact he’s gone.

I feel like a contradiction but I’m a beautiful contradiction at that.

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Christmas at Southwark Bridge Road

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I love Christmas and I don’t think I could possibly even begin to explain just how much I love it. I genuinely feel it is simply such a happy time of year albeit equally as stressful.

I happily nominated myself to cook Christmas dinner for our house. I always find it ironic that the girl with an eating disorder genuinely loves cooking and baking but I’ve always found myself weirdly satisfied and happy when someone enjoys a meal I’ve cooked for them. Plus, as a family, we’ve always made everything from scratch, nothing frozen, and I suppose I really wanted to make sure the Christmas meal was as special as it could be.

Two of our neighbours came round too but the picture above is of me and my three housemates. They really have no idea how happy they make me and I can’t quite believe just how lucky I am to have moved to London, where I didn’t know a single person, and have come across three great friends that I’m going to have for life.

It was such a lovely evening and the fear of the food I was going to eat felt the most distant it’s ever felt and that, in itself, was such a nice feeling. I’ve recently found out my doctor who I have been seeing for more than 3 years has accepted a new job and, unfortunately, I won’t be able to see him any more in a months time…now that is a scary thought.

I’ve definitely built up a safety net in regards to our sessions. When I don’t feel I can tell others I’ve relapsed, I can always tell him. I don’t feel ashamed in the sessions and well, 3 years is a very long time to have been treated by a single person. I’m getting so close to the end of my recovery. I’m aware it’s going to be a life long journey and I’m getting far better but it does scare me that I won’t be able to see him anymore.

I don’t like the idea of, should I need to see someone, to have to open up to someone new. It would be inevitable, they’d need to know my background; every little detail that has resulted in me ending up where I am right now. I’d have to bring back all those memories that, although I’ve learnt to deal with them, they’re always so damn painful to bring back up.

I don’t want to rush to ‘fix myself’ though, so to speak. I want to keep going the way I’m going, keep taking those small steps upwards and simply stay happy. That’s all I’ve focused on lately…my happiness.

And what makes me happy? …Because those scales never make me happy, no matter how much I convince myself the number is okay.

My friends make me happy. The laughs we have when we’re studying or hanging out. Feeling accepted by someone (currently) special, feeling that they genuinely don’t judge my due to my weight or looks in the slightest makes me happy. Those stupid, idiotic, laughable moments make me happy. Helping my housemates and them helping me makes me happy. Cooking Christmas Dinner made me goddamn happy! My life right now makes me happy and I’m slowly accepting that over the years I’ve let the scales dictate how I feel and I’m incredibly proud I’m weighing myself less and…ironically…feel ten times lighter.

Weighing myself in happiness because, at the end of the day, a number on a scale never determined my true friends, the guys who like me for me, my academic and sporting achievements.

The scales have never truly determined anything great in my life.

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Bonfires and Fireworks

Remember, remember the 5th of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot. We see no reason, why gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot!

When I was younger I really didn’t like fireworks. I used to be quite scared of loud noises and knowing there was going to be a bang used to make me jump twice as hard. I suppose when you anticipate something, it’s always going to be worse. It’s always best to just sit back, relax and let things unfold the way they should.

I’m not just talking about fireworks anymore.

My whole life was spent trying to anticipate things, maybe in an attempt to control the outcomes. In some situations, I knew what the outcome was going to be but the wait in anticipation of that outcome was ever so draining. For example, I might have had a bad race, look up at my final time and think shit he’s going to kill me. The walk from the swimming pool to my coach was exhausting, knowing just knowing I was about to get ripped into…knowing they were going to comment on my weight…probably monitor my weight even closer.

That was, unfortunately, something I couldn’t control but I used to think I could. I believed if I kept my weight as low as possible they couldn’t use it against me. That if I had a bad race but I weighed 52kg, they couldn’t imply I was fat. Just one of the many lies my ED told me in order to keep me from being healthy.

When I look back on my journey, I really did think being skinny would solve everything. I thought people would like me more, coaches would stop pressuring me, boys would be attracted to me, that I would be happier. I genuinely thought skinny equated to value.

That as long as I was skinny, nothing else mattered.

I can’t quite remember when the need to control the chaos started but it started fast and it started hard. Coaches drilled into me that I was in control of every single choice, from going to bed 5 minutes late, to not being able to complete an essay on time, to eating one spoonful too much and that every choice was going to affect the final outcome. I understand what they were trying to get at but what they forgot was so very key. They forgot that control needs moderation. It needs to be flexible.

I really wasn’t back then, the control, the restriction, the purging, it all kept coming full circle dragging me down and down. I tried to anticipate what the scales would say, anticipate what time I would do if I was a certain weight, anticipate what they could and couldn’t say about me if I weighed so little.

I only really considered this yesterday, about how trying to anticipate things made me seek this intense control that I, ironically, could not control. It’s funny how considering the anticipation of the bang from a firework brought this to my attention but then again, my writings always been a bit poetic, very metaphorical.

Bringing my thoughts to the present day, bonfire night was a lot of fun. For a couple of reasons I’m still keeping to myself, but third weekend in a row I have had an incredible time. Just so much laughter and feeling at ease and just being me. I’m not going to anticipate what is about to happen here, I’m not going to think. I know where I may like it to go but I’m very happy not overthinking, not trying to convince myself either way, just letting things be.

Enjoying the bonfire and the sparkles in the sky. Enjoying those arms around me. Who knows what is going to happen, but I won’t forget.

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