About me

About me

Welcome to my blog – Pawprintlaur.

If you’ve stumbled across this page, you may well be wondering who I am (past being an avid tea drinker) and what my story is.

Four years ago I gained a triple distinction star (D*D*D*) qualification in my Level 3 Extended BTEC Diploma in Animal Care and Management. I spent two years studying before working as an Animal Technician for a year.

And following this, after 2 years out of education, I began my studies at Bangor University. I’m heading into my third year in September, and I study Zoology with Animal Behaviour (BSc Hons). My interests lie in the fields of animal behaviour, animal ethics and animal welfare, and I have a known soft spot for mammals. Goats And Giraffes in particular. Although, in addition to this, I believe that all animals are unique, fascinating and worthy of love, care and affection. Which partially explains why I am Vegan.

I plan to expand on my Veganism posts. So stay tuned!

I’ve been Vegan for 3.5 years. I transitioned in April 2016 after educating myself into the realities of the dairy industry, and because I wanted to do more for animal rights and ethics. It’s cliché, but I believe Veganism has always been embedded within me.

In my spare time, I enjoy dedicating both my love and commitment to animals. This summer, I spent a week in Spain volunteering at a Vegan Animal Sanctuary – Jacobs Ridge, which is located in Southern Spain.

I also regularly volunteer at a farm (Little Owl Farm) where I’ve been involved for 2.5 years. The farm quickly became my happy place and I’m proud to be the resident goat girl.

I also love to Dance. I began dancing at the age of four at my local dance studio, where I remained an enthusiastic member for 17 years. I have been involved in a collection of styles. Including: Ballroom, Latin, Ballet, Jazz and Contemporary.

I also love to raise awareness of Mental Health, following my past and present battles with Anorexia Nervosa, Anxiety and Depression. I regularly share my experiences and delve into my situations with the hopes of inspiring others to speak up too!

And, in addition to this, I raise awareness of Autism too. Which came about after receiving my diagnosis aged 19.

Thank you for visiting my blog and happy scrolling!

Lots of love, Laur xx

Diet culture and an insight into the Diet Industry

Mental Health

Diet culture is EVERYWHERE. It captivates our screens and brainwashes our minds, often without us realising just how much we’ve become affected by it.

Weight Watchers have recently created a food tracking app (Kurbo) for Children aged between 8-17. This appalls me, greatly. It breaks my heart to imagine a Child tracking an ice-cream they just ate and becoming fixated on numbers when they should be learning, growing and making lifelong memories.

Quite frankly, the diet industry encourages us to follow dietary habits that aren’t realistic or sustainable. Drop 5 pounds in a week, eat sugar-free gummy bears to suppress your hunger.

No.

In The US, Americans spend approximately $60 BILLION on diet products, annually.

$6.2 BILLION is the estimated amount the diet industry is worth, and has unfortunately been predicted to expand to $70 billion in upcoming years.

I sit and wonder what we could otherwise be investing such a large sum of money into. Adequate Mental Health funding? Building shelters for the homeless? It baffles me that money is used to, essentially, damage people’s lives when it could be used to enhance people’s futures.

I’ve been struggling with an Eating Disorder – Anorexia Nervosa for years. And only recently have I deleted my calorie counting app. From a personal perspective, the apps become addictive and competitive, and food quickly becomes the devil.

Why are we paying into such a damaging industry?

It’s all about supply and demand.

I’m no expert. But, I can conclude *from a personal perspective* that companies will only continue manufacturing and promoting their products so long as there is a demand for them. As long as people continue paying into the industry, it’ll only continue to thrive. Take food products, for example, if people stop buying a brand of chocolate (for example, vego) the company will stop producing them, because it’ll cost the company more to assemble them in comparison to the profit gained from consumers.

The diet industry rakes in billions of pounds annually because it negatively influences millions of vulnerable people. It’s a money making fad. It encourages Eating Disorders to develop, and if not an ED, definitely disordered eating. It targets people of all generations with promises that unrealistic ideas of “perfection” and “happiness” can be gained through following simple steps and through purchasing products that only exhibit laxative-like effects. People become addicted and, thus, more money is generated through the industries. It’s sustainable because people pay into companies, sometimes out of curiosity, which promote unhealthy products and lifestyles, often with the help of social media influencers and celebrities. Youngsters see their idols posting suppressive lollipops and feel obliged to follow the same principles.

Here’s an idea: Restrict your intake to the recommended amount for that of a toddler. As magazines publish damaging articles of celebrities miraculous and speedy weight loss regimes, they fail to allude that 1200 is the recommended calorie intake for toddlers, not people developing into adulthood, or those already classified as adults.

We shouldn’t be aiming to suppress our hunger, as often encouraged in advertisements, on social media and magazine articles. Hunger is to be honoured. The ideology being that our bodies are similar to cars. Without fuel, cars would breakdown and refuse to run, and like us, they cannot run efficiently on little or no fuel. We should be working to respect our hunger cues whilst listening to our bodies and filling ourselves with an adequate amount of nutrition. Regardless of what you ate yesterday, it’s still crucial for you to eat today, whether you’ve exercised or not, you still need to eat.

Food is fuel.

Calories aren’t the devil; they’re units of energy, and our bodies embrace them to issue us with a sustainable level of energy for survival, happiness and life. We need calories to survive, and the more we restrict and deprive ourselves of an essential staple, the more our lives slip away before our eyes.

What ever happened to encouraging people strive for happiness and contentment in their bodies, and surrounding the nourishment served up at meal times? In today’s society, we’re fixated on changing ourselves and with each diet fad we follow, we step further away from accepting ourselves just the way we are. We feel a constant urge to shrink our bodies and our portion sizes without acknowledging the fact that this can be woefully detrimental to our physical and mental wellbeing.

Remember that the diet industry is a money making scheme. A fad. Their advertisements are targeted at the most vulnerable people. Their intentions stem far away from situating health, self love and confidence.

In a World filled with toxicity, diet culture and the consistency of words encouraging us to change ourselves, it’s vital that we fight against it and make progress in loving ourselves and becoming comfortable in our own skin.

The World needs more of us, not less. Our bodies require fuel, not suppressants.

Managing an Eating Disorder at Uni – Experiences And Tips from an Undergraduate

Mental Health

I became a Uni Student whilst under the grips of an Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa.

I am still in recovery from this, every day is a challenge. But I’m determined to make positive changes towards reaching my goals towards health and happiness. 

I enlisted my Anorexia on my University application, alongside my Autism. I remained aware that I could face issues throughout my studies, and I feel comforted being able to share my story with my Tutors, and my friends – Who are surely, and gladly, becoming a second family to me.

Admittedly, I’ve faced my fair share of challenges and obstacles throughout my time at Uni. Managing an Eating Disorder and simultaneously trying to maintain recovery is hard work, possibly the toughest task I’ve had to endure.

I’ve fallen into new and destructive habits whilst trying to eliminate older ones. I often become engrossed heavily in my studies and fail to prioritise eating as much as receiving grade A’s. Anorexia is an incredibly sneaky, and conniving illness that will rear its head at any given opportunity. It’s important to be aware of this, and to prepare yourself for future setbacks/lapses.

Recovery is essentially a full time job, a choice that is constant, a process of rebuilding a healthy relationship with our bodies and our minds. It can be exhausting to balance this alongside our studies, and easy to fall under academic pressures. It can be difficult to maintain concentration whilst dealing with the constant, deliberating thoughts and anxieties surrounding food, numbers and body image.

But I’m currently awaiting enrolling for my third year, I’ve made it this far and I’m feeling motivated for September onwards. And I’m keen to share tips that have guided me through my time at uni so far.

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Ever.

Speaking up is incredibly difficult, yet rewarding. It takes a considerate amount of courage to express your struggles. Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself and make your mental health a priority.

Don’t feel embarrassed about reaching out for support. Whether that’s to a friend, a tutor, or a medical professional. It doesn’t make you a bad person, just a normal one. I confide in my Tutors always and I’ve been left incredibly humbled and inspired by the understanding and support I continue to receive. Shame isn’t an issue; the biggest focus needs to be on your mental and physical wellbeing. Confide in somebody you love and trust. Nobody deserves to suffer alone or in silence, and I’ve learned that a problem shared is typically a problem halved.

Access professional support. Attending appointments can sometimes mean missing lectures. And that’s fine, because work can be caught up on, our health shouldn’t be put on the line and lecturers are always incredibly understanding regarding mental health. Don’t be worried about confiding in your GP about your struggles. Often, we require therapy to allow us to tackle the root of the problem, and that’s perfectly okay. We can’t have it figured out all of the time. Uni’s also have Mental Health Services available to students with people trained to deal with a variety of problems who can be contacted should you feel the need to do so. Again, there is no shame in this. Just bravery.

Try to avoid falling into comparative habits. It’s often glamorised at uni for students to engage in unhealthy behaviours, such as frequently under/overeating, skipping meals and not getting enough sleep. It’s not cool or an essential component of student life. It’s vital that you focus on yourself and your own recovery journey. Remember that recovery from an Eating Disorder requires eating more, to assist physical and mental repairs. 

Be patient with yourself. Healing takes time, and recovery is never going to be a linear, overnight process. Try not to spend time getting caught up in your bad days, but remember that they can only make us stronger and more able to face tougher days in the future. Nobody is defined by their struggles, or difficult days. Don’t feel bad for saying “no” or for giving yourself time to collect your thoughts and feelings. We all need space, we all need rest and we all need time.

Get yourself a set of close friends to confide in, and to keep you grounded when times are tough. Share as much or as little information as you’re comfortable with. It’s easy to isolate ourselves and to get caught up in the chaos of our own minds, but our friends can keep us distracted by giving us a happier focus by spending time together, or by simply being there to temporarily act as a barrier between ourselves and our struggles. I’m privileged to be surrounded with the most incredible support network both at uni and at home. This makes reaching out for help and advice increasingly easier. Whilst our tutors are not medical professionals, they can issue lifestyle advice and can sympathise with our feelings. And sometimes, that’s more than enough.

Speak to those around you about your triggers. This is an essential, necessary component of taking care of yourself. We shouldn’t have to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions where we’re surrounded with information and situations that we find triggering. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re finding something triggering or hard to deal with. Ie: conversations about diet talk/weight loss, calories or any other areas. From experience, people will be glad that you’ve been able to confide in them about it and will try harder to avoid given topics and scenarios. 

Plan meals and snacks in advance. If you’re anything like me, you can easily “forget” to eat (due to a lack of hunger cues, planning or an inability to go against anorexia) and other things can begin to take priority. It’s important to remember that eating is as important as your studies and the grades you receive. Eating is always important and necessary. Look through your timetable during the weekend and plan meal and snack times. This will help to reduce the anxiety surrounding the situation and will ensure that you have a comfortable plan in place. If you’re in the stage of recovery where intuitive eating is encouraged, go for it! But only if you can trust yourself to eat a sufficient amount of food throughout the day.

Set reminders/alarms on your phone to encourage you to eat. Again, this may help to reduce the anxiety surrounding the situation and will ensure that you issue yourself with essential eating time, which is easy to miss out on with busy uni schedules, appointments, meet ups with friends and a social life. I find that time passes quickly when I’m in the library revising, so I plan rest/comfort breaks to get myself together.

Ensure that you have plenty of distractions in place. I imagine that you’ll be busy with meeting assignment deadlines and partaking in extra reading, but remember to give yourself down time too. It’s a staple we all require in our day to day lives, and it should involve engaging in an activity that distracts you and helps you happy and calm. This can be anything from reading, doing something creative (drawing, baking etc) writing or spending time with friends.

And lastly…

Embrace the journey. Trust in yourself and the process and believe that you’ll get to a place where you wish to be. You’ve got this!

Good bye scales, hello freedom?

Mental Health

Very recently, I braved the decision to ditch my scales. A step forward in recovery.

I have successfully managed TWO WHOLE WEEKS without weighing myself. Crazy, right? I’d been weighing myself obsessively (up to 5 times a day) for numerous years and I bravely opted for the choice to follow my heart and not my head.

The praiseful messages I receive encourage me greatly to continue on my path. Although my decision often feels wrong, those around me assist me in thinking otherwise.

Good bye scales, hello freedom…?

Or at least, I hope.

It’s still very early stages. My mind has been filled with increased anxiety levels, worries and unkind thoughts. I’ve unfortunately slipped into alternate behaviours, and have spent mornings shaking and crying because of the rocketing urges and discomfort levels I feel with relation to the number.

Distractions are the key.

I’ve created a list of distractions to turn to when my Anorexia rears it’s nasty head. Distractions differ between individuals. I personally benefit from writing and spending time with animals. Oh, and repeatedly watching Mamma Mia!

But realistically, my current intake will not increase my weight. And even so, this would be okay. Weight gain should never be demonised. It is important and I understand that I cannot narrowly avoid it forever. (I aim to blog about the importance of being a healthy weight once I’ve reached the milestone myself and have educated myself further on the matter).

I believe that scales should only be used for medical purposes, which is why I’m putting all my faith and trust in my team to allow them to continue to monitor my weight. It’s hard to let go. And it’s very easy to become obsessive, and to slip into disordered or competitive rituals, but I know that my current feelings will pass, similar to a storm.

I highly encourage EVERYBODY (not just Eating Disorder sufferers) to ditch the scales. Freedom awaits. Life is incredibly short and way too precious to spend time fixated on numbers – The numbers in our clothing labels, on the scales and on food packaging labels. In the long run, they are massively irrelevant and only curb our happiness, alongside successfully destroying our mentality.

The number on the scales simply highlights our relationship with gravity. It cannot measure our worth or our intelligence. 

We should all be encouraging each other to practice self love and to appreciate our bodies regardless of them not always meeting societies ideal expectations. I can list multiple factors that are extensively worse than cellulite, pimples and tummy rolls. Photoshop has forcibly wormed its way into our minds and disallowed us to focus on the things that really matter.

Our weight naturally fluctuates throughout the day, as a result of various activities and alterations in hormone levels. Weighing ourselves daily contradicts the definition of health, and leans more towards obsession. Eating and drinking adds to our weight, but this is only temporary. Bloating occurs, this doesn’t equate to weight gain, this demonstrates the movement of the digestive muscles after eating, or symbolises that our periods are due.

It can be hard to understand healthy habits with mixed messages frequently submerged in the media, and often in our own minds and disordered thoughts. With instagram and magazines often filled with posed and filtered images, laxative disguised “hunger curbing” lollipops and fad diets. It can be difficult to avoid comparative habits and ways of thinking.

You may be wondering, how I suddenly opted to ditch the scales.

I’m fighting for the days I no longer think about the number on the scale. The days the number can be altered to the number of animals I save.

The decision wasn’t lighthearted. The number became my focus for years, and I figured it was time for a happier one. I felt a sudden burst of positivity one morning after listening to one of my favourite podcasts. This took at least 6 years to occur. I remembered that habits cannot change unless we are willing to face our fears, and so that’s what I did.

I realised that the number never satisfied me. Even after significant decreases in my weight, I only ever felt the urge to lose more weight. But this incidentally brought the loss of happiness, freedom and health.

The choice to ditch my scales equated to “short term pain for long term gain”. Ie: I currently have to endure high discomfort levels, but this will only lead to a positive outcome.

It’s been 2 weeks since I last focused my energies on a number. And I remain encouraged that time will pass, my strength will increase and I will continue to flourish.

Anorexia recovery – Eating, comparison and being brave

Mental Health

For the past few years, I’ve fallen very much, unwillingly, into comparative habits. This can be detrimental in Anorexia Recovery.

If my friends aren’t eating, why should I?

I MUST be greedy.

Why am I eating if the people around me aren’t? So…much…guilt.

It’s a constant turmoil.

I very recently stumbled across a highly informative blog post by Tabitha Farrar, which highlights mutual recovery worries and concerns. Even an incredible podcast, which can be reached here

I’ve found that Eating Disorders have a tendency to possess a competitive nature in an assortment of ways. The constant fixation on what others are doing and saying can be exhausting.

My friends are dieting, does this mean I should?

My Mum hasn’t eaten Lunch, I guess I shouldn’t either.

I understand that I can become preoccupied with what others around me are eating, and I remain positive that I’m not alone in this, but I’m learning to reverse that focus onto myself to assist me in my journey.

My Therapist issued me with advice, in which I’d like to share. Individuals in recovery from Eating Disorders have significantly different needs in comparison to those around us. We need more food to assist the repairing of the bodies we’ve destroyed for prolonged periods. We have distinctively different needs in comparison to others. We’re in a calorie deficit, our bodies struggle to function with minimal nutrition. Our periods end, our organs begin shutting down and we encounter abnormal blood test results. (Note, symptoms vary within individuals!)

Rewind back 4 years ago, my Therapist challenged me to eating in College. To this day, I still struggle immensely with eating away from home, it typically feels disorganised and unnecessary. But I’m working on it. I was tasked with eating a cereal bar. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. My friend informed me that she hadn’t eaten and I simply couldn’t comprehend eating if she hadn’t, because it obviously “wasn’t” important. I had to constantly remind myself that she’d go home and eat, she wouldn’t restrict calories like I would or engage in unhealthy coping techniques.

The food stands as the building blocks essential for regaining our concentration, protecting our organs and obtaining energy. We must focus our energies on recovery and allowing our bodies (And minds) to habituate to increased food quantities.

It’s important to remember that food is our medicine, the key to our mental and physical healing. No two people eat the same. Skipping meals and snacks simply to match up to our peers only encourages the disordered voices whilst ensuring that we remain compacted within our unhealthy coping mechanisms and ways of thinking. Eating doesn’t equate to greed, increasing calories doesn’t highlight excessiveness.

Other people’s eating habits are NOT an invitation for us to alter our own, it’s vital that we work hard and cooperate with our negative and competitive feelings in order to more forward. We all have different eating habits, we eat at different times and enjoy different foods. This isn’t a matter to be ashamed about, diversity is one of life’s many wonderful factors, it keeps us different and unique.

There’s bravery in reaching for a snack or preparing a meal when those around you state how far from hungry they feel or how little they’ve eaten throughout the day. That takes strength and a considerate amount of determination.

I personally struggle to eat if those around me aren’t. I feel extremely reluctant to eat and then become more anxious if it’s gone past a “safe time”. But our bodies aren’t clocks, they appreciate food all-round. It heightens the guilt I feel surrounding eating and the anorexic voice in my head persuades me to give in. I easily feel greedy and insignificant, especially given my lack of hunger cues. But an essential component of my healing journey consists of prioritising my needs and my thoughts, aswell as acknowledging why I may struggle while working to alter that.

People without Eating Disorders don’t typically have set eating/meal times, and even if a meal or snack is skipped, no disordered thoughts will lure their nastiness. And if they skip a meal (usually due to time constraints/preoccupation or other commitments, not on purpose), this generally DOESNT have implications on the other meals of the day, compensative behaviours will not be used and a recommended amount of calories (ENERGY!!) will still be reached.

Ideally, others will make up for the food they’ve missed throughout the day and may prefer larger meals as opposed to “little and often”. But I imagine no two days of eating are the same for anybody, people may eat more on some days than on others. And vice versa. It all balances out. I would find this unmanageable and daunting, and eating irregularly quickly leads to lightheadedness and fainting episodes. One day I’ll be free from a structured meal plan, but today is not that day.

We must remember to focus on ourselves and our needs, whilst acknowledging that this isn’t selfish, but a necessary component in becoming a step closer to health and happiness. Food is fuel, and although eating may feel like a constant job, it is our medicine.

Anorexia Recovery – Ditching the scales, freedom away from numbers

Mental Health

The morning approached, it was 6:30am.

Already, I encountered deliberating thoughts about eating. I pondered whether I should, or whether I shouldn’t. And I’m beginning to believe that this may be a constant, lifelong battle for me.

With every day, I cannot determine how my thoughts will challenge me throughout the day. Some days will be easier than others, and some will be spent fighting with the grit of my teeth and my upmost strength and determination.

I cried, I rationalised and sat anxiously with my thoughts. I felt defeated, and frankly, nourishment felt more like a punishment. I often wonder why I am 22-years-old becoming tearful over food and fixated on numbers. I curiously think about life of the latter, freedom with food and perhaps, body acceptance?

Rewind a few hours later, I felt empowered and encouraged. I desperately wanted to alter my mindset and to challenge my toughest thoughts. Admittedly, my breakfast simply consisted of giving in to my disordered thoughts. I decided enough was enough, I had the rest of the day to build myself up and to tackle more habits. I simply couldn’t carry on waiting to be saved whilst putting in minimal effort to save myself.

Anorexia Recovery compromises of more than just regaining a “normal” relationship with food, but also about challenging other behaviours and rituals that extend beyond food. I stood up, heart racing and thoughts pondering, and reached up for my scales. The scales have dominated my life and my way of thinking for 6+ years and I first weighed myself at the mere age of 4. And until today, I kept this hidden. I’d been weighing myself multiple times a day, every day for years, and it began feeling exhausting and it held the equivalence of a heavy load on my shoulders. Anorexia is conniving and encourages sneaky behaviours and rituals. I no longer wanted to be sneaky, I wanted to be brave. Yesterday I owned up, and the support I received was not only remarkable, but incredibly reassuring.

I nervously threw my scales away, with much hesitation and questioning on my part, although ready to say good bye to a dark chapter in my life, determined to bring in a happier one. Anorexia screamed at me no, and insulted me greatly, but I wholeheartedly knew it was the best decision in the long term. A step forward in recovery and regaining my health, happiness and sparkle.

I’ve anxiously sat through feelings and urges during the day and have become ridden with guilt and uncertainty. I cannot move forward with the constant fixation and obsession on numbers, and I believe only my medical professionals need to know. I’ve been underweight for years, and I believe focusing on numbers only heightened the anxieties I have surrounding weight gain and reaching a healthy weight/BMI.

The number on the scale dictates my relationship with gravity, it can never determine my worth, intelligence or sparkle.

I’m learning to define myself by the number of animals I help, the milestones I’ve achieved and the strength I’ve gained. It’s going to be a long journey, but one I’m dedicated to.

I’m more than just a number. I’m a person with goals and aspirations, strength and determination. And I’m ready to move forward.

A weighted life perspective

Mental Health

We live in a World where weight gain has been, and continues to be, demonised. An increase in the scale number quickly equates to feelings of low self worth, inadequacy and failure. We attempt to remain small, whilst measuring our worth in kilograms and not so much smiles, achievements and memories. I understand the satisfaction gained from the decreasing scale number, believe me. But I can assure you that it brings minimal comfort, I was never fully “happy” until I faced death. A reduction in weight was never enough to counteract the thoughts and feelings I battled internally.

I despise weight related comments. Before opening up about my Anorexia battle, I regularly received praiseful words on my malnourished body, told that I had a “perfect figure”, I was asked for diet advice and the methods I used to lose a large proportion of weight in not so little time. And in doing so, this made it significantly harder for me to acknowledge that the actions and behaviours I constantly engaged in were wrong. Please be mindful of chosen words.

It’s impossible to pass a day without talk of dieting and weight loss. Celebrities promoting silly appetite suppressants and highlighting unrealistic diets to vulnerable followers for a sum of money. Of course, healthy weight loss is crucial for those who are medically overweight. And I believe this should be supported to avoid the usage of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Ie: Starvation, bingeing and purging. However, we’re indefinitely becoming a brainwashed society and I’m yet to meet an individual who is confident in their body. I’d like to see a drastic change in this, for new and current generations. More emphasis on body acceptance, less on methods to change your body and more ways to gain a healthier mindset.

There is very little talk in mainstream media regarding positive, and essential weight gain, which can be extremely discouraging. I often receive compliments on my current body, and this isn’t okay, being small isn’t a compliment or a goal, but being healthy IS. This frame has been gained through years of starvation and neglect, not nourishment, love and acceptance. The media is filled with praise, complementing people for weight loss and body transformations and I’m yet to see encouraging comments congratulating individuals on weight gain.

Benefits of weight gain:

  1. Energy
  2. The ability to rationalise thoughts and decision making
  3. Increased concentration maintenance
  4. Reduction in tiredness/lethargy
  5. A step closer to health and happiness!

Weight gain isn’t always a negative. For some, it’s essential. For those recovering from Eating Disorders, for those who battle Cancer and often become reliant on supplement drinks following unintentional weight loss and for those with speedy metabolisms (To list a few). People require it to return back to a healthy state, both physically and mentally, and may require more food and it’s a factor that simply isn’t highlighted enough. It can encourage thought rationalisation and provide energy whilst helping to maintain lengthy concentration periods.

An increase in weight can be the beginning of a new chapter for some, one that is exciting and memorable. The lease of life, the regaining of energy, life and freedom. Our world is forever evolving, with new and exhilarating developments in different areas. It’s time to step aside from the misleading idea that weight gain equates to fat. And even so, that “fat” is a bad thing. Quite frankly, fat is essential, it stores energy, supports brain function and protects our organs. It doesn’t make us ugly or uncharismatic, it makes us Human.

As somebody recovering from Anorexia Nervosa, weight gain is an essential component. With this being said, Eating Disorders are NOT primarily weight focused, you can suffer at ANY weight. Without this, there would be a significant restriction on my life, and I wouldn’t be fully committing to recovery. I would face a lifetime of remaining critically underweight and unwell, in a child-like body that simply cannot function properly, or issue me with an appropriate amount of energy. Without the weight gain, I would still be collapsing unexpectedly, growing fine hairs on my body to stay warm and losing large clumps of my hair. This shouldn’t be glamorised or used as an achievable goal, but support should be issued to help people to manage their situation.

Thus, in a world where the majority are losing weight and promoting fad diets, it’s important to be kind. To prioritise our own needs, our own health and our own happiness.

June – A new month, a happier mindset and new recovery challenges

Mental Health

It’s officially the beginning of June! And I wish you all a wonderful month filled with health and happiness. I’m determined to head back to Uni in September eager to inform my friends and Tutors of the fun-filled Summer I’ve endured. Not a Summer known for obeying Anorexia’s demands.

It’s terrifying. I’ve realised that I’m not okay and that I simply cannot continue along this pathway. Counteractively, recognising it is one thing, but actively changing it is another. And while I can’t possibly gain back lost time, I can make up for the time I’ve lost. I’ve been fearful of change for lengthy periods of time. But perhaps, change is exactly what I need. And maybe, change is good. I need to be kinder to myself. 

I simply cannot comprehend just how quickly the year is flying by. I’d like to signify the beginning of the month as the beginning of a new chapter. A step closer to health and happiness. A month filled with learning, growth and recovery-focused challenges. I’m aiming to find body acceptance, to follow a meal plan and to be brave. I’m simultaneously excited and extremely anxious for my next steps.

Last night, I had a realisation. I battled suicidal thoughts and overcame gruelling urges once again. I’m young, I haven’t lived properly yet, and it hurts that I often seek a way out when I should be finding my feet, exploring the world and developing new interests. My Tutor helped me to understand that the things that matter now may not matter in the years to come. I need to survive the bad to find the better, regardless of how painful it often seems. I’m about to delve into yet another challenging and unpredictable chapter, so it’s crucial that I care for myself increasingly, whilst allowing myself time to heal. I’m determined to prioritise my health and happiness, to appreciate the light in every day and to relearn healthier coping mechanisms.

I’m soon scheduled to be beginning treatment with a new Dietician. This initially filled me with dread, I contemplated whether I wanted recovery or whether I would ever be okay. I’m fearful of letting go, and of losing control. But the only person who can save me, is me. I’m now incredibly motivated to work with her, and not against her, to fight my demons, to challenge my fear foods and to overcome one of my largest fears – weight gain. I’m educating myself about the art of weight restoration, it’s simply weight that should never have been lost, the building blocks to energy, life and freedom. Pre-anorexia I was slightly underweight and disordered thoughts have always remained present, but it’s time to change. One day, I’ll accept a healthy body. And one day, I’ll rekindle a healthier relationship with food.

Recovery: “A return to a normal state of mind, health or strength. The action of process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost”.

Recently, I’ve started to picture my life in future years. And I quickly become tearful and distressed whenever I imagine my future self still battling with the torment of my mind. I refuse to be 30 years old requiring reminders to eat, crying over food and still remaining reliant on feelings of accomplishment from the decreasing scale number. And that’s enough to acknowledge that I do want to get better, I’m just scared and slightly lost, but these feelings can and will pass. I’m fighting for memorable years and for future adventures. A life outside of Anorexia.

I’m putting my future prospects to the forefront of my mind. In a years time, I want to be preparing for graduation after working hard in my third year. I’m ready to radiate light and happy vibes. I want to be physically and mentally stronger, to be helping more animals and to be preparing to travel the world. I don’t want to be terrified of myself or life anymore, or to reminisce and think “what if”. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and I’m beginning to understand just how precious life is. I want to work hard in the present moment to build a brighter future.

I aim to be healthy enough to give blood, as my current weight prevents me from doing so. To volunteer abroad, minus the fear of unmeasured food and different meal timings. I’m striving for more, more that I simply cannot accomplish with the torment of an Eating Disorder. I long for the days where I eat ice-cream on sunny days, where I no longer use harmful techniques to compensate and to find new vegan cafes with my friends. And I can do this.

Truthfully, I’ve begun acknowledging that my body will not cope for much longer and it’s a daunting realisation. I haven’t been a friend to my body, more of an enemy. It won’t continue to function on minimal calories and through the obeying of Anorexia’s hurtful rules. For a long time, I believed that my body would defeat the odds. I believed I could survive on calories less than the recommendation for that of a toddler. And currently, my body isn’t coping and this isn’t okay. My Anorexia convinced me that I’ll be fine, that this is sustainable, but I physically feel drained and cannot last through the days without lightheadedness, shaking and chest pain. I’ve tried for so long to ignore the physical symptoms, but they currently grow stronger by the day. I’ve displayed abnormal blood results and ECG’s, my clothes currently hang off me and I understand that I’m not truly happy, and this isn’t really recovery. Recovery signifies fighting, not merely surviving.

I’m ready to fight for a future Laur wants, not a future Anorexia craves. I want to save animals and to help others, and to live. And, most importantly, to make those around me proud. I’m ready for June, I’m ready to accept growth and I’m keen to see where I stand in a months time.

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Health & wellness – A discovery journey

Mental Health

For the past 5 years, I’ve been starting my day between 6 and 6:30am.

Crazy? No. Happiness inducing? Yes!

I’ve been a proud early riser from a young age, with my Mum claiming that I was “awake before the birds” as I rushed downstairs excitedly to view my favourite animated series – Arthur, whilst wrapped comfortably in my dressing gown. However, I began waking up earlier (involuntarily) following my battle with Anorexia Nervosa, because I struggled to maintain a substantial sleeping pattern and I found it near impossible to stay sleeping due to hunger pains and the physical symptoms I faced at the time.

Although this remains a struggle, I enjoy waking up earlier now and the process no longer feels forced or unnatural. I’m going to practice positive coping mechanisms until they take the place of the negative ones I currently abide by.

Additionally, I also wanted to make up for “lost” time. I wasted a significant amount of time in bed following my worst bouts of Depression since I had minimal motivation, or energy, to leave the comfort of my bed. I left my job as I battled panic attacks and self harming episodes and after I completed my Animal Management qualification and I had very little to focus on. I felt worthless and alone, I had no interactions with people my age and I spent most of my time socialising with my therapist(s).

Recently, I’ve gained collective benefits from starting my days early, I’ve added more productivity to my day-to-day schedule and the feeling of achievement and keeping busy boosts my mood significantly. It also reduces my feelings of low self esteem and issues me with a happy distraction. I find that it’s harder to dwell on my bad thoughts if I’m busy, so it’s beneficial all round!

I start my day off lightly, I scroll through social media briskly and then listen to my favourite podcasts to assist the maintenance of positivity throughout my day. It’s important to me that I regularly listen to positive, motivational speakers and read uplifting and relatable quotes, I believe it assists me in releasing negative energy and encourages me to let go of the past, to move forward and focus my energies towards healing. Social media can be an excellent resource if it’s used in the correct way, I recommend eliminating all forms of toxicity from your accounts and unfollowing anybody who makes you unhappy.

I also wish to add more self care to my day, as it’s something I’m prone to neglecting lots, especially when things are tough or when I’m busy. And this often leads to an overload. Prioritising self care is essential, I will rest up, take myself on walks in nature and to coffee shops. I will learn to heal.

Throughout my mental health journey, I’ve attempted to work with a range of different processionals and services and I struggled to reap any benefits from the implemented methods, which has made me feel like a lost cause, unfortunately. I’ve recently been focusing incredibly on mindfulness and I aim to create a spirituality journey in order to help the healing of my body and my mind. After years of self destruction and self doubt, I desperately wish to view myself in a positive light.

Up until recently, I haven’t been motivated to change my mindset, but now I’m working hard because I want to find happiness and a balance in life. I’ve been thinking increasingly about my future, and I tear up picturing myself being an adult crying over food and still struggling with self harm. It’s not a future I want, however scary the recovery process shall be. I’m constantly being told that I should care for myself in the same way I care for others, while listening to my own advice, and I’m beginning to realise why that is so important.

I used to believe that recovering from Anorexia solely required reestablishing a “healthy” relationship with food and my body, but that’s only part of it, since Eating Disorders are incredibly more complex than just food and weight restoration. Though, my battle has widened my eyes into the other life aspects I struggle with and I now realise I have a long road ahead of me.

I’m now more determined than ever to begin a positive journey towards healing not just my body, but also my mind. For processes to change, you have to want to change, nobody can force recovery on you. Believe me, I’ve waited. The mental and physical aspects of my health both stand as equal as each other, and it’s time I began to acknowledge that by putting my words into practice and listening to my body.

Autism and me: Suffering or growing?

Autism

It’s vastly approaching the 3-year bracket in which I received my Autism diagnosis back in 2016.

Time has truly flown by!

I often hear the term “suffering from Autism” which I felt encouraged to shed some light on, as somebody on the complex Autistic spectrum.

I understand that the spectrum is large and people enlisted upon it face their share of physical and mental difficulties. Everybody, of course, is entitled to their own opinion.

This is a reflection upon my story so far.

Autism for me has been a challenge, a continuous one beginning with acceptance and understanding, to growing the strength to challenge myself daily and to overcome any hurdles lingering in my direction.

Autism is a way of being. It is pervasive; it colours every experience, every sensation, perception, thought, emotion, and encounter every aspect of existence.

Some days I can wholeheartedly conquer The World and my intrusive thoughts. I can surprise myself with my strength and determination to tackle scary situations. Other days I simply cannot hinder the complexity of my thoughts, I cannot leave the house or tackle a conversation.

Balance is the key to life and that is okay.

I no longer devote time to questioning my struggles and areas of weakness. Instead, I accept them and the stage I am at. I use them as stepping stones for overcoming future hurdles and as indicators of the times I’ve refused to be beaten.

I’ve not once considered myself to suffer with Autism. Although, initially, I struggled to associate myself with my condition and would easily become distressed when the subject was mentioned. I remained ridden with questions until I attended support groups and met other like-minded people like myself.

Adults on the spectrum with inspiring stories to tell, achieving amazing milestones and overcoming the biggest obstacles in life.

I once believed receiving an Autism diagnosis would be the end of The World. It seemed catastrophic and daunting and it certainly does frustrate me at times. But I began to realise that my Autism wasn’t the issue, the way I viewed myself was.

I have so much to thank my diagnosis for.

My Autism diagnosis wasn’t the end of The World, but the beginning of a new one.

I face my fair share of mental problems stemming from anxiety and fears of the unknown. But I’ve slowly (but surely!) transitioned as somebody embarrassed of my diagnosis to somebody sharing my story willingly with The World.

And that is such a beautiful concept. Acceptance is wonderful and massively freeing.

I started to acknowledge that Autism is a profound strength of mine. With the likes of a well-known animal loving Scientist Temple Grandin and Broadcaster Chris Packham, I feel overjoyed to share a diagnosis with such intelligent people.

During one stage, where I began struggling with my lowest bouts of Depression, I narrowly avoided talking about my Autism. Over the years, I received multiple diagnosis’ and it felt like another label to add to the pile, I felt ashamed and every inch of me wanted to be normal.

I’m not suffering. Even throughout the days I struggle to leave the comfort of my home, the days I simply cannot maintain a meaningful conversation or on the days I cry following an Autistic meltdown or from a sensory overload.

I’m not suffering. I’m learning and I’m growing. And although the journey may be painful at times, often leaving me ridden with masses of questions with regards to myself, my worth and my abilities, I can acknowledge the progress I’ve made so far, which only encourages me to keep going.

To find strength, to seek happiness and to be brave.

I look back at my past self with pride and admiration for enabling myself to thrive in places I never imagined myself to. I’m learning the art of speaking to new people without assistance, the task of creating long lasting friendships and visiting new places.

My Autism isn’t making me suffer, it’s making me resilient.

I’m not suffering, I’m growing. Every day I am finding myself and transitioning into the person I’ve always longed to be.