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.

Social media is NOT real life

Mental Health

Whilst scrolling through Instagram, and other means of social media, it’s important to remember that social media isn’t real life.

As a society, we’ve become programmed into believing that the images we see upon our screens are a realistic perception of reality. When in hindsight, this isn’t merely the case.

I’m an advocate for mental health, positivity and I’m working on self-love. I aim to make my social media as honest as possible, an outlet where I document my journey (including the positives and negatives) But this comes with the understanding that the content we stumble across can often be misleading.

We often post content that suggests that we’re constantly living our best, happiest and healthiest lives. When the reality is – We have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors for others, and a person who may exhibit “perfection” (a mythological concept) could quite possibly be going through hell, secretly. The people who appear to be the happiest and most supported could well be battling Depression whilst incoherently feeling isolated, friendless and withdrawn. Those who seem all “put together” may slowly be falling apart. The reality being, nobody has it all figured out. Social media modifies our assumptions on others, whilst it simultaneously leads us to questioning the stages we’re at personally. We’re constantly competing to be our best selves, whilst shielding away our true selves and our feelings. And I believe we should be increasing our support networks, both virtually and in reality, and focusing our energies towards loving and appreciating ourselves for who we are.

But… Why?

Simple.

We’re afraid of the judgement gained through sharing the realities of our lives and our situations. Sharing a personal post could lead to being branded as a weirdo, which is obviously up there with the WORST things in the world next to receiving no likes, being unfriended and unfollowed. I encourage everybody to be honest on social media. Share your situation, share your story, reach out for support. From experience, people will be inspired by your journey, will be supportive and be encouraged to share theirs too! 

Photo editing

Images are posed, planned and often edited to counteract an unrealistic standard of typical every day life. App stores are compiled with a variety of editing apps and within a split second, we can achieve our dream bodies, remove evidence of acne and filter out our imperfections and insecurities. Instagram captures the “perfect” and most memorable moments in people’s lives, without the recognition that people behind their screens are often struggling. Struggling with self acceptance, low self esteem, and a collection of other issues. This only leads to vulnerable people falling into comparative habits.

”Why can’t I look like _____” 

“____ is dieting, so OBVIOUSLY this means that I should be, too”. 

We see images of people on holidays, sitting in 50°c heat in stunning locations with an ice-cream in one hand and a margarita in the other and quickly assume that this person is happy and privileged. The image instantly receives over 300 likes, and with this lies the judgement that this person is doing well. Again, we can’t assume this based on images and minimal background knowledge. Which is another reason why I advocate kindness, ALWAYS. Kindness is free, spread it everywhere you go!

With modern day technology, it’s easy to manipulate images to boost our egos and to increase the engagement we receive on Instagram, and the likes we rally up on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It’s all about angles. People pose to attitudinise thigh gaps (which, by the way, are genetically based features and definitely not the route to happiness and fulfilment) and toned abs, only catch glimpses of forced smiles, moments spent in the gym and spend minutes allowing their breakfast to run cold in order to catch a picturesque glimpse of it whilst it’s laid out beautifully, rather than focusing on the nourishment and satisfaction gained from eating.

Social media isn’t real life. Its a virtual, fictional reality which can often, unfortunately, bring more damage than necessary. The only people we should be aiming to outdo is ourselves. We cannot distinguish a “norm” between the reality we know and edited versions of our own, and edited people’s lives.

The lives we see on our screens aren’t fully being lived, the mirrored images displayed right in front of our eyes simply don’t exist. And I believe it’s important to consider this when flicking through social media news feeds. A realisation being: The people you see on Instagram don’t look like the people on Instagram.

Self- love, starts with self

We all have our quirks, our insecurities, our struggles and our downfalls. All of which we shouldn’t be ashamed of. Nor should we feel obliged to hide away. Nobody has a perfect life, we’re a generation constantly in a state of self improvement and growth, and part of the process is sitting back and acknowledging that we’re Human.

You’re loved, valid and important. Even with your downfalls, your insecurities and when you make mistakes. And mostly importantly, beautiful.

And your worth can never be defined by social media.

Helplines

Helplines

Here you can find a series of Mental Health helplines. The helplines provide support for those in need, and can be reached via phone (text/call) or email.

BEAT:

0808 801 0677

0808 801 0711 (Youthline)

0808 801 0811 (Studentline)

Website: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk

MIND:

0300 123 3393

86463 (Texting details)

Website: https://www.mind.org.uk

THE SAMARITANS:

116 123

jo@samaritans.org

Website: https://www.samaritans.org

PAPYRUS:

0800 068 4141

0778 620 9697 (Texting details)

pat@papyrus-uk.org

Website: https://papyrus-uk.org

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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Being discharged from The CMHT, my experience and my next steps!

Mental Health

For three years I’ve engaged with The CMHT (Community Mental Health Team). I’ve worked routinely with four different professionals within the service, ranging from care coordinators to psychiatric nurses. All of who have played a crucial role in the pathway to my recovery journey, and I am incredibly thankful for that.

I HAVE NOW BEEN DISCHARGED!

Healing is an art. It takes time, it takes practice, it takes love.

Fortunately, its been agreed that I can reengage with the team at any given point should I feel the need to access further support, or should my mindset (or harmful behaviours) decline. It’s always reassuring to have a safety net, but I aim to work tirelessly to guide myself to health and happiness.

I was transferred to the local service in 2016, after prolonged periods of battling suicidal thoughts and depressive episodes. In October 2015, my Teacher suspected I may be suffering from Depression, she detected symptoms in me that she once battled herself. And although I remained in denial, I began antidepressant medication shortly afterwards following a discussion with her and mum. This lead to me consulting in my ED psychiatrist and later on being prescribed and regularly checked for deterioration. I knew my mindset was decreasing when I voluntarily took myself to the GP for an emergency appointment after becoming increasingly terrified about my safety and well-being (I’ve always been fearful of Doctors) only to be handed a leaflet and the phone number of the Crisis team. This was after a day spent in College hysterically breaking down as I worried my Teachers and scared myself in the process. I was also engaging in self harming behaviours and I felt truly unhappy and unlike my typical bubbly self. Everything began feeling dark and gloomy and any form of happiness flooded me with guilt. I was seen on a weekly basis to maintain my safety, aswell as having an “outlet” for my struggles.

I began feeling paralysed and every day was a constant dread, where my highlight of the day was going to bed to escape my thoughts. (Until I met the Goats!) I felt guilty for being sad and guilty and undeserving of any form of happiness. I truly felt trapped and I saw no light, nor did I have any motivation to head towards it.

Prior to beginning my engagement with the service, I couldn’t leave the house and I implemented self harming episodes towards my body. I struggled increasingly with suicidal thoughts and plans of hurting myself and wishing I wasn’t here constantly flooded my mind, I often encountered voices issuing me with loud, patronising demands to which I felt obliged to follow. I wasn’t allowed to be left alone because I often felt worryingly impulsive and I struggled to control my physical and mental actions. (I currently write this as I sit alone in my Uni room, which is super special because I’m trusted and I’m doing better now, yay!)

Without forgetting to mention that I am the longest self-harm free I have been in 5 whole years!!! *insert happy dance*

For further information on self harming, please visit my other blog post here

My care consisted of talking therapies, psychological methods and lots (and lots!) of tears, aswell as the odd argument when I felt misunderstood. Oops! Some methods worked wonders for me which seemed laughable at the time, others issued no joy. Admittedly, it’s been a super tough ride and the most challenging battle, but I can’t help but be proud of the place I’m at now, and of myself for persevering. And I truly hope my place in services is offered to somebody in need of it to get them on the road to recovery, and happiness.

Understandably, everybody has unique and personal experiences with services and therefore different perceptions on the help they are able to provide. As somebody who has been involved with different services for 5 years, I can certainly say that more help and interventions need to be delivered to prevent people from reaching a crisis point. More help and advice should be offered to keep people safe and more efforts should be put into mental aspects, and not just physical ones. I desperately want to see an improvement in services across the board, peoples lives are on the line and enough is currently not being done to help those in need.

MY NEXT STEPS

Now that I’ve come to terms with my Autism diagnosis, and have ploughed my way to a better place Depression-wise, I will now be working with a Senior Dietician to help me to amend my eating habits, both physically and mentally. I’ve always held a disordered relationship with food and my body, but as my Anorexia progressed, the relationship I held with it worsened. I will continue to be seen routinely by my GP and Nurse, who work to monitor my physical aspects (weight, height and bloods).

Admittedly, I am terrified of changing my eating habits around since Anorexia has become such a comfort blanket for me throughout the years. I’m fearful of weight gain and I have never been a healthy weight, although it is necessary and vital for countless reasons! And I have many scary foods and rules to conquer, aswell as reestablishing a better view of food and challenging my current thoughts. My Teacher and I recently discussed the importance of challenging scary things in life, as they often bring us happiness and fulfilment, and I believe there is never a “right time” to change. I’m keeping my motivations at the forefront of my mind, surrounding myself with happiness and reminding myself, with the constant help of family members and friends, of why I must keep going.

If you’re struggling with your Mental Health or know of anybody who is, PLEASE seek help and encourage others to do so, too. You’re loved and important, and you’re deserving of health and happiness!