As anyone who follows me on Twitter will be all too aware, I’ve recently been banging on about the aspects of mental health care that are working well, and asking people to share their experiences. Maybe the people I follow on social media just grumble a lot, maybe we only hear stories of fault and failing in the press, but whatever the reason, we need to correct the balance. Good things do happen, every day, we just don’t hear about it. And when we do, it’s all too often through an avenue that makes us sceptical.

To begin, I’ve gathered together a few comments I received yesterday. This reflects one day, a couple of Twitter requests. They aren’t dramatic but they reflect the difference services (both statutory and voluntary) make and the commitment and care of staff who often work with extremely limited resources and are individuals, like anyone, with their own lives and ‘stuff’ going on too.

Continue reading

If you have had a POSITIVE experience of mental health services, I really want to hear from you. It might be that you were seen quickly for assessment and were offered therapy soon after this rather than being stuck on a waiting list, maybe you’ve had input from a service over a number of years and the quality of this has fluctuated – what were the good bits? Maybe you’ve been working with a particular care-coordinator, social worker, OT or psychologist who has helped you to move forwards. Perhaps you’ve received care from a service who go ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty and you recognise this and want to highlight it. Perhaps your GP, or a voluntary sector organisation have made a difference to you.

Continue reading

I’ve been having a bit more support for my eating disorder recently. This means more time away from work, absence which will definitely impact on my colleagues. I feel I owe the people I work closely with an explanation about where I am disappearing to and why. I also won’t see many members of my team for a while, and (if all goes to plan) I’ll look noticeably different when they do next see me. I am still fairly private at work (and in general) about my ‘issues’, but during the last year conversations about food and weight have gradually become part the normal fabric of life with my partner and close friends. Not so long ago I couldn’t say the words ‘eating disorder’ or ‘anorexia’ without becoming overwhelmed, so the talking is definite progress, even if I do feel ashamed and guilty, hate that it is necessary and feel horribly embarrassed that I find certain things so difficult the stage of life I’m at. I don’t know if anyone actually gets how embarrassed I feel every time I try to ask for help, help I don’t think I should need, can’t judge how or when to ask for, and can’t always say what I think I actually might need.

Continue reading

Soooo meal with my therapist today. Wrong wrong wrong on so many different levels. Hot food before the evening, yoghurt before the evening, processed food, not enough veg, unknown calories, too much fat, prepared by someone I don’t know and can’t see whether they washed their hands or if they touched the food. My knife […]

I’ve been a bit ranty about the ‘clean eating’ thing recently because it bothers me a LOT. Dieting isn’t good for anyone. Especially not someone with a history of an eating disorder. It is generally accepted that any form of dietary restriction increases the risk of developing an eating disorder in vulnerable individuals, and once recovered, strict […]

In recent times, it seems that what we eat has gradually become synonymous with morality. The Hemsley sisters and Deliciously Ella cheerfully sell us the idea that if we cut out this or that, we too can be glowing, smooth skinned and full of peace. To ‘eat clean’ has become synonymous with self care, in spite of the heavy marketing (which should make anyone sceptical) and lack of science.

Continue reading

Because people do, don’t they. Even those who know us well and would call themselves friends or colleagues. Or maybe it’s just me.

Part of the challenge is that I have been MUCH more open about my eating disorder recently. For years, no one in my wider life, including work, had any idea. If I weren’t trying to change things, I could have continued this indefinitely. But keeping things private at work wasn’t an option if I wanted time off for therapy. So far, my manager has been supportive. The work friends I’ve been open with continue to express confidence in my ability. I suspect I’m fortunate. It’s no secret that mental health services haven’t always been great at looking after their own.  Continue reading

If you’re recovering from an eating disorder and are underweight, you really can’t get away from the fact that weight gain is an inevitable part of the process. It’s definitely the most ‘visible’ part, and often the element that people focus on most. At the same time, we often hear that it’s really not about the weight. It’s true that weight gain alone definitely won’t fix everything, although it may shift some of the rigidity that is secondary to ‘starvation’. But the uncomfortable truth is that for me at least, gaining weight may make some things worse, before they improve. This may not be the case for everyone, and I’m definitely not saying it isn’t worth it.

Continue reading

The topic of eating disorders has been in the media a fair bit recently, and a recurring theme is that of ‘choice’. So for what it’s worth, here are my (unfinished) thoughts on the subject. I wonder what it will take for society to realise that eating disorders are no more an active choice than any other mental health problem. I also sometimes whether we need to think differently about the role of choice within recovery.

Continue reading

I’m feeling fairly determined at the moment. It’s unexpected, considering how I wanted to sink into the ground after therapy this morning. Part of the problem is that professionally, I know the answers, certainly in relation to managing anxiety. But I can’t always apply this to myself, and it sometimes gets in the way of my ability to challenge ‘food rules’ as much as I need to.

So this is an attempt to capture some of this unexpected perspective, as a way to (hopefully) refocus and provide an outside perspective when ‘eating disordered’ thoughts feel consuming and all too reasonable. 

Continue reading