What fear of abandonment looks like

One of the 9 criteria for bpd is fear of abandonment and frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Everyone exhibits symptoms differently. Some people will try to prevent others from abandoning them by going to extreme measures. They may tell their loved ones that they will kill themselves if they leave them. They might become fully dependant on someone so that the person feels they are needed and cant leave. Many of these behaviours tend to backfire. These actions tend to put pressure on our loved ones and cause them to ‘burn out’. For me this symptom shows itself in my constant self sabotaging. As soon as I feel like I am about to be abandoned I leave. Whether that’s a course i’m afraid that I will be kicked off of or a relationship that otherwise was going okay. I also have learned to keep people at an arm’s length so I don’t become too attached and get hurt. I don’t trust anyone to not leave me and this means relationships in general fill me with fear and anxiety.

I am trying to open up to others. I am teaching myself that I won’t fall apart if someone rejects me. If I do fall apart, I will pick up the pieces and put myself back together. The world will not end. I can cope. It’s so difficult though. I think because these beliefs are deeply ingrained in my head, I feel as though they are true. That people won’t like me if they knew the ‘real’ me. I guess that’s one of the reasons I am writing this blog. To be honest and transparent. Not unpredictable and explosive, as I have been in the past. I’m a professional bottler-uper of emotions and apart from a few people, I rarely talk about my thoughts. I have less shame in talking about my moods and symptoms but when it comes to being myself and speaking my mind, I bottle up.

I’m only 19, but the last 3 years have taught me that I shouldn’t care about what others think of me. If I’m the ‘real’ me from the start they can choose whether they want to spend time with me or not. Maybe that’ll mean that I have less friends, but I would rather have people in my life who actually care about me nevertheless. I say all this but at the same time this whole concept freaks me out. I’m a work in process. I still think all my friends and family secretly don’t like me and are only sticking around because they feel sorry for me. Or that they are spreading rumours and laughing behind my back. Maybe everyone hates me, maybe it’s in my head. Either way I get by.

I used to pester my family with questions. ‘Will you leave me?’, ‘do you hate me?’, ‘why are you even here?’. I have learnt that distrust is not the basis of strong relationships. I have stopped asking these questions. I have to force myself to shut up because no matter what their answers are, I still don’t believe them. Don’t get me wrong I love my family and friends so much, but these people are important to me and I just can’t cope with the idea that they’ll eventually leave like so many other people have.

If you have BPD, what does fear of abandonment look like to you? Do you cling to your loved ones or do you keep them at a distance so you aren’t affected if they disappoint you. Whatever your answer is, know that you aren’t an evil person. People aren’t leaving you because there’s a problem with you, they are leaving you because of them. Maybe your personalities clash, maybe they are super busy or maybe they just forgot about your message. Whatever the reason, you are strong and you can cope. You can depend on other people but you are also an individual and you will learn to stand on your own feet.

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Update and things that make me smile

This week is going to be tough. On Wednesday I find out if I’ve been accepted on to DBT and the uncertainty and possibly for rejection, is killing me. I am beyond stressed. Been told I may not get accepted for multiple different reasons. One reason, is that I am prone to get really high and low moods which last weeks, but usually months. These moods could (potentially) get in the way of me attending and being a part of DBT. Especially if I end up getting hospitalised for them, like I have in the past. Another reason is that I don’t consistently self harm, so I might not meet the criteria for DBT. I tend to self harm in clusters, when my mood is low or if i’m stressed, I self harm daily but when I’m happy or elated I don’t self harm at all. I’m frustrated because, whilst these reasons make sense, I feel I would benefit from DBT. I also get along well with the DBT therapist who I would be working with. Nothing has been decided yet and there is still a chance I will be offered DBT but I’ll have to wait till Wednesday to find out. Fingers crossed.

This stress has been really getting to me so I thought that after this update I’ll write a post about things that make me smile.

There is so many terrible things going on in the world. So much inequality. So much sadness. Sometimes, as naturally sensitive person, I get so overwhelmed. I want to help, to solve these issues, but I’m only one person. I can make a huge difference, we all can, but alone we cannot solve everything ourselves. This fact takes its toll. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who cares. That’s why I love the Happy Newspaper* by Emily Coxhead. In a world full of bleakness this newspaper offers some light. Filled to the brim of positivity and great people doing great things, I’d definitely recommend giving it a read. It’ll remind you how many caring people there are out there. You definitely are not alone.

Another awesome thing to check out, is cute animals on instagram. I don’t know why, but something about adorable animals makes me smile and sometimes even laugh. From beautiful cows to rescued kittens, they always brighten up my feed. Noteworthy mentions are Lil BUB (@iamlilbub), Atchoum (@atchoumthecat), Sammantha’s photography (@sfisherx), Cows with hearts (@cowswith.hearts), Patrick Jones photography (@shelterportraits), Andrew Marttilas cat photographs (@iamthecatphotographer) and Casey Elises rescued animal photography (@caseyeliserescues).

I’m definitely someone who spends A LOT of time at home in my room. Recently i’ve been getting out more. Whether that’s walking around in nature or going shopping in town. The weather here in Britain has been pretty summer-y. I’ve been enjoying the sunlight and the fresh air. I’m not that keen on exercise but I do like going for walks. I plan to do more of this now that my depressive episode has passed and I have the energy to get out.

When I’m feeling low in mood, social interactions become very difficult. My brain feels foggy and it’s hard to keep on track of conversations and remember what has been said. Leaving my bed in the first place, in the depths of depression, feels like an impossible task. Now I’m feeling stressed, but other than that stable, I have been reconnecting with friends and spending quality time with family. I’m so lucky to have a few, but really great friends, who don’t take it to heart when they don’t hear from me in ages. I’ve realised that I’d rather have less friends that I’m closer to, than many friendships that are superficial. Nothing against superficial friends, I just like to invest more of my time with the people important to me, who really brighten my day.

Recently I have done a giveaway on my instagram account. Here I gave away a ‘self soothe box’ filled with objects for all your senses and to distract yourself with. I found making this box and sending it off rewarding. I love helping and doing good things for others. While you can never be solely responsible for someone else’s happiness, you can bring some joy into other people’s lives. You might even be surprised by how much it helps you too.

I’ve been baking since I was a kid and whilst I haven’t mastered it yet, I still love doing it. I have a massive sweet tooth and there is nothing better than a batch of cookies straight out of the oven. In the past I have not treated myself to great tasting food, due to the mindset that I don’t deserve it. I have also thought that foods only purpose is to fuel our bodies and fulfill our nutritional needs. While this is one purpose of food, living like that is terribly boring. Food is so much more than nutrition. It brings us closer to our loved ones and our culture. It can be delicious and enjoyable to eat. It can be comforting and there is no shame in that. I adore eating more than ever and I also find cooking and baking therapeutic. There is something wonderful about sharing food you have made with others.

Usually I don’t plan for the future. Thinking ahead fills me with fear and overwhelms me. The prospect of struggling each day with my mood, intense emotions and self harm urges, seems more than I can bear. So it’s strange to be planning events that I can look forward too. Don’t get me wrong I still take each day at a time, but I am really finding it fun to have nice activities to look forward to. One, of which, is visiting a theme park with my sister next weekend for her birthday. Been planning it for a while and it is so close now and i have to say i’m excited.

There are many more things that make me smile and if this post contained all of them it might get too long. What makes you smile? Is it an activity you do, people you spend time with or even an item like a hot water bottle or a warm drink on a cold winter evening. Maybe write a list (I adore lists) of the things that make life a little more enjoyable. Refer to this list when times get tough.

*http://www.emilycoxhead.com/

BPD resources

^ image by Shawn Coss*

* http://shawncossart.com/

This post is for anyone who suffers with Borderline personality disorder (also known as Emotionally unstable personality disorder) or for anyone wanting to know more about this mental illness.

BPD is often not talked about and is highly stigmatised. I have even experienced stigma from trained mental health professionals who view all BPD patients as attention-seeking, over dramatic and not really unwell. Obviously there are some great mental health professionals out there, but there are not enough. The stigma still persists. I feel that there are many reasons this stigma exists, one of which is outdated information. Most people outside the mental health profession have no clue what BPD is. They often only hear of this disorder on crime shows or documentaries listed next to antisocial personality disorder (aka psychopaths). They may of also heard of it being described as someone’s ‘crazy ex’ like in fatal attraction. Even staff who work in the medical and mental health profession are generally confused by what BPD actually is. While BPD symptoms have been seen throughout history the actual diagnosis was only named in the 1980’s. At this point in time the BPD diagnosis was given to patients who were difficult to treat and bordered on psychosis and neurosis. Hence the name ‘Borderline’. We now know that this illness is much more complex than that and there are successful treatment options out there, to help suffers move away from maladaptive behaviours and live a more fulfilling life.

I hope that the links below help you get a better understanding of borderline personality disorder. People with this disorder aren’t crazy, bad or faking it. They truly are suffering. What we need, as people with this illness, is compassion, patience and understanding. If you don’t have BPD, you may not know fully what it’s like to experience it, but you can inform yourself to the best of your ability.

About BPD:

Treatment options:

My other posts on BPD:

Personal blogs about BPD:

(content warning: some of these blogs discuss self harm, abuse and suicide)

Personality disorders

^image from @carlafarry’s instagram account.

I have discussed bpd/eupd on my blog before. May is bpd awareness month so I have decided to start this off by explaining more about personality disorders in general.

Personality disorders are mental illnesses that affect around 5% (1 in 20)* of the population, but most people don’t know what they are. They negatively disturb how a person views themselves, others and the world. This can lead to maladaptive patterns of thought, emotions and behaviour, causing issues in their relationships, at work/school and life in general. Personality disorders are pervasive (constantly there, not episodic) and usually start to show up in teens and young adults. With people who suffer from personality disorders, behaviours and thought patterns are rigid thus requiring longer term therapy to change/modify them.

There is no one cause of personality disorders. Many professionals agree that they occur from the combination of genetics and environmental factors. So for example, someone with bpd may have been born with the genetic predisposition making them more sensitive and then due to life experiences this would cause them to develop bpd later on. This is not true for everyone. While many people with personality disorders experience significant negative life experiences (such as abuse, neglect, bullying etc) others don’t. This might be because some people are genetically more prone to developing the disorder.

While many people may relate to these symptoms, to be diagnosed with a personality disorder these symptoms must significantly impact your life causing problems in your day to day living and distress you and your family/friends.

There are 10 specific personality disorders, often grouped together in three clusters (A, B and C). It is possible to suffer from a variety of symptoms, therefore not fitting the criteria for one specific personality disorder alone. In this case you may be diagnosed with a mixed personality disorder. It is also possible to be diagnosed with more than one personality disorder such as dependent personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. If you suffer from symptoms of a personality disorder but don’t meet the full criteria for it, you may be diagnosed with personality disorder traits (e.g. avoidant personality disorder traits).

Cluster A personality disorders are described as people who are very odd or eccentric, in a way that damages their/ others lives. People with cluster B personality disorders are often seen as unpredictable as they struggle to control their emotions. Cluster C is seen as the anxious group as people suffering often have strong feelings of fear and may withdraw from others. There is some overlap in symptoms so it is not unusual for people to have symptoms of more than one personality disorder. A person wouldn’t get a diagnosis of a personality disorder unless they suffered from enough symptoms of a specific or mixed personality disorder.

Cluster A symptoms

Paranoid personality disorder*

  • suspicious
  • feel that other people are being nasty to you (even when evidence shows this isn’t true)
  • feel easily rejected
  • tend to hold grudges

Schizoid personality disorder*

  • emotionally ‘cold’
  • don’t like contact with other people, prefer your own company
  • have a rich fantasy world

Schizotypal personality disorder*

  • eccentric behaviour
  • odd ideas
  • difficulties with thinking
  • lack of emotion, or inappropriate emotional reactions
  • see or hear strange things
  • sometimes related to schizophrenia, the mental illness

Cluster B symptoms

Antisocial or Dissocial personality disorder*

  • don’t care much about the feelings of others
  • easily get frustrated
  • tend to be aggressive
  • commit crimes
  • find it difficult to make close relationships
  • impulsive – do things on the spur of the moment without thinking about them
  • don’t feel guilty about things you’ve done
  • don’t learn from unpleasant experiences

Borderline or Emotionally unstable personality disorder**

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable and intense relationships
  • Unstable self image or sense of self
  • Impulsivity
  • Recurrent suicidal behaviour, ideation and self harm
  • Reactive, unstable and intense emotions that last hours to days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Anger issues
  • Stress related dissociation, paranoia or hallucinations

Histrionic personality disorder*

  • over-dramatise events
  • self-centered
  • have strong emotions which change quickly and don’t last long
  • can be suggestible
  • worry a lot about your appearance
  • crave new things and excitement
  • can be seductive

Narcissistic personality disorder*

  • have a strong sense of your own self-importance
  • dream of unlimited success, power and intellectual brilliance
  • crave attention from other people, but show few warm feelings in return
  • take advantage of other people
  • ask for favours that you do not then return

Cluster C symptoms

Avoidant personality disorder**

  • Avoid situations which involve significant interpersonal contact due to fear of criticism, disapproval or rejection
  • Unwilling to get involved with people unless certain that they will be liked
  • Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
  • Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations
  • is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
  • views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
  • is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing

Dependent personality disorder*

  • passive
  • rely on others to make decisions for you
  • do what other people want you to do
  • find it hard to cope with daily chores
  • feel hopeless and incompetent
  • easily feel abandoned by others

Obsessive-compulsive or Anankastic personality disorder*

  • worry and doubt a lot
  • perfectionist – always check things
  • rigid in what you do, stick to routines
  • cautious, preoccupied with detail
  • worry about doing the wrong thing
  • find it hard to adapt to new situations
  • often have high moral standards
  • judgemental
  • sensitive to criticism
  • can have obsessional thoughts and images (although these are not as bad as those in obsessive-compulsive disorder)

It was once thought that there was no treatment for personality disorders and sufferers would never get better. Now we know different. There are many treatment options suitable for those with a personality disorder. Sadly, it is difficult getting the treatment available under the NHS. Some areas offer DBT, MBT and other therapies, other areas offer more limited options. Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a successful treatment option for people who struggle managing their emotions, self harm and have frequent suicidal ideation. For that reason it is often seen as the best treatment for borderline personality disorder. DBT is also used to treat other personality disorders, eating disorders and other similar issues. Mentalisation based therapy (MBT) is also offered in some areas as an alternative to DBT. Both MBT and DBT are successful as they are long term therapies, different to CBT where you may only get 6 sessions. This is often not enough support for someone who struggles with a personality disorder. Schema therapy, interpersonal therapy and cognitive analytical therapy are also other options which may or may not be available in your area. Some people who don’t find DBT or MBT helpful may find those a better fit. While no one medication is licensed in the UK to treat personality disorders, some medications (like antidepressants, mood stabilisers and anti psychotics) can help with severe symptoms like low mood, psychosis, anxiety or aggression.

I hope you found this post helpful and you are now better informed on what a personality disorder is. If you have a family member or friend who suffers from a personality disorder the best thing you can do is be patient and compassionate towards them. These disorders can put a strain on friendships and relationships but know that person is trying their best, with the coping mechanisms they have. If you are the person who struggles with a personality disorder know that it is not your fault, you aren’t a bad person and there definitely is hope in a better, less disordered, future.

Sources

*https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/expertadvice/problemsdisorders/personalitydisorder.aspx

** DSM IV and V

Further information:

How to gain weight and recover from an eating disorder as a vegan

Disclaimer: If you are suffering from an eating disorder, please reach out to family, friends and/or health professionals. While you can recover on your own it is helpful to have support. I am not a professional and the following recommendations are what worked for me when I had to gain substantial weight to save my life and start recovery from anorexia. Gaining weight won’t cure anorexia or any other eating disorder but it will give you more mental capacity which is vital for mental recovery. Gaining weight is scary, I know, but remaining under your set point weight has many dangerous health implications. Recovery is worth it and you are so important, even if you don’t believe it. I believe in you, you can do it!

Gaining weight

At the start of my recovery from anorexia I had to gain weight.  I did this by incorporating calorie and nutrient dense foods into my meal plan. I also ate more calcium-rich foods to protect against refeeding syndrome and limited fibre and bulk to make all this food easier to digest. I am writing a blog post about this as there is a lack of helpful information online about gaining weight as a vegan. Many posts say you should avoid processed food and only eat ‘whole’ grains, pulses, nuts/seeds, fruit and vegetables. While it is possible to eat this way and gain weight this can result in a very restrictive mindset and doesn’t help sufferers from challenging fear foods and eating intuitively. Eating ‘unprocessed’ plant foods also can cause digestive issues as it is difficult to eat enough calories/ nutrients for recovery without all the bulk and fibre. Adding more processed grains, sugar, oil, meat substitutes etc can be helpful to avoid some of these issues and add variety to vegan ways of eating.

While not everyone recovering from an eating disorder needs to gain weight, for some this is a crucial step in reclaiming their health. Gaining weight can seem impossible and terrifying. I have made a list of meals/foods which can be incorporated into meal plans for those in recovery. If you have particular allergies (nuts/ wheat /soy etc) there still will be many options to pick from. While fibre can aid in digestion, too much fibre can be tough for those in recovery, as digestion issues are common. If this is the case for you, I would recommend more processed/refined foods for accessible nutrients and calories without the added fibre.

High calorie options

  1. Grains and starchy veg Pasta tossed in oil. White pasta has less fibre and is fortified with nutrients.
    • Bread, preferably white.
    • Roast starchy veg in oil, sugar/syrup or other high calorie add ons
    • Granola and higher calorie fortified cereals
    • Pancakes and waffles for breakfast. These can be baked in bulk then frozen for quick, hassle free breakfasts, add syrup for extra energy.
    • Cookies, cakes and other baked goods made from flour, sugar and oil
  2. Pulses, peanuts, soy and meat alternativesTofu is rich in protein, fats and calcium. Extra firm tofu can be fried, baked or scrambled for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Silken tofu can be used to make cheesecake and be blended into smoothies
    • Edamame or other pulses roasted in oil for snacks rich in protein, fat and carbohydrates as well as other vital nutrients.
    • Veggie burgers, vegan sausages and other meat alternatives are often higher in calories and take up less bulk than eating pulses.
    • Peanut butter is rich in calories, protein and in my opinion, tastes amazing. Add this to smoothies, porridge, toast etc.
  3. Nuts and seedsSprinkle nuts and seeds onto meals and snacks
    • Add nuts and seed butters to smoothies, sauces, on toast or porridge.
    • Create calorie dense snack bars with nuts/ seeds as a base
  4. Fruit and vegetablesAdd to meals
    • Eat enough without filling up on them. For example, Ginny Messina RD* recommends 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables and 3 servings of fruit
    • Blend into smoothies for less bulk
    • Add fruits to yogurts and desserts like vegan ice cream
    • Roast fruit or vegetables in oil, sugar/syrup or other high calorie dressings
    • Add dried fruit to meals as they take up less bulk than fresh produce
    • Add vegan wine/ alcohol to vegetable sauces to improve the flavour and increase the calories. For example red wine to tomato sauce. The alcohol burns off while you cook it.
  5. Calcium rich foodsAdd plant based yogurts/ milks to smoothies and sauces
    • Select plant milks higher in calories for example whole bean soya milk over almond milk.
    • Have plant milks and yogurts with calorie dense cereals like granola
    • Add tahini or almond butter to sauces or smoothies
    • Top granola, toast etc with dried figs
    • Roast broccoli, kale and other calcium rich vegetables in oil

Recovering

Recovering from an eating disorder takes more than just weight gain. Challenging my fears was a big part of my recovery. Everyone with an eating disorder has a different experience. Some people may fear certain foods, others fear eating in restaurants, eating in front of people, while others fear eating alone. These fears can be battled while staying vegan, by eating vegan alternatives to your fear foods or eating out in vegan restaurants. If you fear eating processed and packaged foods there are many frozen vegan meals in the supermarket to choose from. If you fear eating something you haven’t made, ask a family or friend to cook you a vegan meal and not tell you what’s in it. The key to challenging fears is to not just do it once but to do it many times so that you no longer fear it. I did this by incorporating vegan processed food into my daily meal plan. For example eating vegan cake and ice cream after dinner.

Let go of unnecessary restrictions and the dieting mentality. In my opinion, unnecessary restrictions hold you back in recovery. An unnecessary restriction to me, is any rule which isn’t based in medical reasons (eg diagnosed allergies or celiacs disease) or ethics (caring about animals, the environment or human rights). For example this could be avoiding gluten, soy or cooked food because you are afraid they will make you gain weight or/and harm your body. Ditching the diet mentality means giving up unnecessary labels. This could mean adopting a varied, fun and flexible vegan diet instead of being a raw or whole food or low carb/fat vegan. These ways of eating have their merits but generally cause more damage than good. They not only centre veganism around false claims of wellness instead of protecting animals, but they also stop you from challenging your fears in recovery. This may even lead to sufferers developing more orthorexic ways of thinking.

Clean out your social media. Unfollow any social media account or website which makes you feel bad about yourself, or your body. Instead go follow and check out more body positive and self love accounts, some which I have mentioned in my post about how to avoid relapsing in your eating disorder. Linked below. What we see and read has a large impact on how we view ourselves. Fat phobia and body shaming is rife online and can even be found in some online vegan communities. This can be extremely triggering and can feed our eating disorder thoughts. Larger bodies are no less worthy of love and respect. You can be fat, healthy and happy. Avoid following anyone who tells you otherwise.

Wear clothes that are comfortable. If your body isn’t used to eating large amounts of food, or regular food you might experience bloating. Finding clothes which are loose and cosy, even when you are bloated, is a good recommendation. Baggy clothes are also great as you may rapidly gain weight and change shape. Your shape may change a lot as your weight redistributes. There is nothing wrong with this, it is a normal part of physical recovery.

Rest more, exercise less. This can be helpful if you need to gain weight. It is also important to allow your body to recover. Eating disorders put a huge strain on your body, from your heart to your bones. Allowing yourself rest is difficult but vital. Exercising a lot in recovery may also result in exercise obsession and addiction.

In my eating disorder, like many other people, I became obsessed with food. All day everyday I would read cookbooks, bake, cook, and pin what I wanted to eat on pinterest. I found it helpful in recovery to rediscover my non-food interests. Maybe check out a hobby you left behind when you developed your eating disorder, or it could be something completely new. Learning something new is great for your self esteem and you might even expand your world a little.

Smash the scale. While you may need to be weighed by your treatment team or gp, there is no reason why you need to have a scale of your own. Knowing your weight can trap you in the dieting mindset and trigger you to want to lose more. Some people may find knowing their weight helpful, however, this depends person to person. Only you will know, truly, if knowing what you weight aids or harms your recovery.

Overall recovery is a process not perfection. It is more difficult than I can articulate but, for me, it is one of the most worthwhile decisions I have made. I myself am not fully recovered. I sometimes struggle to restrict and binge/ purge. Recovery is something I work towards everyday. It takes a lot of effort but it is a thousand times better than living with an eating disorder. If you have any questions please feel free to message me on here or contact me via my other social media. Thank you for reading this. I wish you the best in your recovery.

Resources

Eating disorder awareness week

Trigger warning; in this post I talk about having an eating disorder and reference restriction, binging and purging. If you need support please talk to your friends/ family and a professional. If this post is too much for you right now, scroll past it and check out the resources mentioned at the end, including Beat’s website.

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Not one eating disorder is the same. The only thing that is consistent is the struggle we have around food and eating and how this struggle negatively impacts our lives. Even if some of us live in denial that we have a problem.

People with an eating disorder may be underweight, a ‘healthy’ weight, ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’. Females are not the only gender affected by eating disorders. Those suffering with eating disorders don’t all want to be thin or look like models. Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses which have a variety of causes and a variety of symptoms. The important thing is that recovery is possible and is worth it.

This eating disorder awareness week I want to share some resources but also my own experience with suffering from bulimia and anorexia.

I started binging on food a similar time I started self harming. Apart from the odd binge, I generally had a good relationship with food before the age of 16. Like most teenagers I had poor body image but I wasn’t committed to changing that and enjoyed food. I was never put on a diet by my family and never fat shamed like many people experience. I had the privilege of living in a smaller body and I am grateful I grew up in a household that rejected dieting. The only issue I had with food was my picky eating which I think was mainly fuelled by my anxiety. The more anxious I got the less adventurous I was with my food decisions and I struggled to eat any unfamiliar foods.

After finishing my exams at age 16 I felt empty and numb. I attempted to self harm to feel alive and eat to fill the void inside me. I stuffed food in myself until I was in physical pain and couldn’t move. At first it seemed like a solution to my emotional coldness, but soon, like the self harming, it became addictive. I felt out of control around food, stuffing myself until I was bursting more and more often. Before I knew it my clothes started getting tight and then not fitting. I tried to diet but this just made the binging worse.

Soon enough I started seeing the binging as a problem that needed to be solved. That’s when purging came into my life. Like many addictions at first it really helped. It made me feel like the binging never happened in the first place. I felt physically and emotionally better. I could pretend none of it had occurred and go on with my day. But then it got out of control. I wasn’t just binging and purging daily (which is dangerous in itself) but multiple times during the day. I was trapped at home, obsessed with food and it had stopped helping. All my money was spent buying ‘binge’ food and all my time was spent binging and purging. After another suicide attempt I was put in contact with the eating disorder service where I waited on a list. After a couple, or so, of months I was seen and diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. I started motivation enhancement therapy (MET) soon after.

During MET group I met some people who also struggled with their eating. These ladies are lovely and I still am in contact with two of them.

During the MET group I realised that my bulimia was causing me many problems and I had to stop. I started binging and purging less and eating small and regular low calorie meals that I didn’t purge. I was convinced that I was getter better and recovering from my bulimia but instead I was developing anorexia nervosa. My weight dropped as I wasn’t eating enough and I was still obsessed and terrified of food. The list of ‘safe’ foods I had got shorter and shorter as my list of ‘fear’ foods grew in length.

I remember being underweight. It wasn’t glamorous. I didn’t feel in control. I felt terrified and cold. I couldn’t get comfortable. I was exhausted and slept most of the time. I didn’t know if I was going to have a heart attack or if that day was going to be my last.

It is a rough road to recovery and I’m still fighting. I still struggle with my body image. I still restrict some times and binge and purge other times. I am doing so much better though. I have a great support network and I know more now about myself than I ever did in the past. I can go out and eat my fear foods. They scare me but I still do it. Because for me that’s what recovery is about. Facing your fears.

Eating disorder resources:

  1. Resources for vegans in eating disorder recovery- https://choosingkindnessweb.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/resources-for-vegans-in-recovery-from-eating-disorders/
  2. How to avoid relapses- https://choosingkindnessweb.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/how-to-prevent-an-eating-disorder-relapse/
  3. The full helping blog by Gena Hamshaw. Especially recommend her recent posts on ed recovery for eating disorder awareness week- https://www.thefullhelping.com/
  4. Beats website- https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/
  5. NHS on eating disorders- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/eating-disorders/
  6. Time to change stories of people with eating disorders- https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/category/blog/eating-disorders

Why buy fairtrade?

While not everyone has the ability to buy fairtrade products, as they tend to cost more, many people can afford to, yet choose not to. This might be because they are not sure what ‘fairtrade’ really means for the workers, the environment and their communities. In this post I hope to raise awareness of Fairtrade and maybe give you some incentive to buy fairtrade products when they are on offer.

Fair trade is an amazing organisation which empowers farmers and workers to take control of their businesses, lives and communities.  This charity also makes the supply chain of their products visible to companies and consumers alike. Because of this, we can make informed decisions about whether we want to invest in the product. Farmers and workers sit on the board allowing them to have more say on how resources are used, setting prices, premiums and fairtrade standards.

Businesses are stronger under fairtrade as they are encouraged to have democratic leadership, effective administration, transparent accounting and improved governing. Productivity and quality are improved due to better farming practices and regular technology support.

Both the workers and the countries economy benefit by being part of fairtrade. Workers and farmers have greater income and food security due to the fairtrade minimum wage. The fairtrade standards also require employers to bridge the gap between the actual pay and the living wage for that area.

These standards also mean workers and farmers basic human rights are met. This includes having a safer workplace, being able to join a union and negotiate conditions and wages with their employer, being free from discrimination and no forced or child labour.

Currently 1 in 4 fairtrade workers are women. Fairtrade values gender equality and believes women in agriculture should be valued, recognised and more visible.

The environment is important to fairtrade, and farmers are taught more environmentally friendly practices. Fairtrade has standards on sustainability and environmental protection. This includes how farmers can adapt to climate change and reduce their impact.

The fairtrade premium is an extra payment over the market price. Some of this money goes on social projects for social and economic development. The producers decide what this goes on. On plantations, workers spent 26% of the fairtrade premium on education. Producers can also use this money to invest in basic services such as clean water.

Fairtrade certifies products which meet their standards, pay and treat their workers properly. Bananas, chocolate/cocoa, coffee, tea, sugar, wine, cotton, gold, flowers and many more products have a fairtrade alternative. These are offered in main supermarkets, the cooperative, smaller shops and online.

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