Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2014 - Goals

Another year looms ahead and another fearful Amy watches on as it arrives.

Realistically, January the 1st is just another day and I should treat it as another day but it isn't. We live our lives determined by years. I was born in the year of 1992, which determines my age. I met my boyfriend in the summer of 2009, which determines how long we've been together. It's hard to watch the page turn to 2014 and not try to plan it out to be a good year. And whilst I do believe that if you want to make a change, you should start NOW and not as soon as the 1st comes around - it does help people put things into perspective and psychologically puts them in the frame of mind for a fresh start. And I think people should stop with the judging of those who want to attempt to start fresh in a new year - there's nothing wrong with that and even if they don't succeed the motivation to do so should be celebrated.

Of course, I try and do this with all of my years. But life happens and things don't work out and life events occur and that's bound to happen no matter how much you plan ahead to the next year. But I'm one for writing lists and making improvements. And not negative improvements either. Looking at my list below you'll see that the inclusions on my list are all positive things that I will use as fuel to my progression in recovery. I'm not telling myself to lose weight, or achieve a first at University. I just simply want to be healthy and confident with the way that I look, and actually pass the year. Which is a much healthier outlook to the one I would have had about three years ago. Progress has most definitely been made.

I had a difficult evening last night and I decided to write a letter to somebody who had a massive impact on my life when I was a teenager. I haven't seen her for over one and a half years and I felt it was time to let her know how far I'd come in my journey since the last time she saw me, refusing to speak with me due to how ill I was and my illness making her unwell and unable to cope also. I think of her a lot and more than anything, I want her to be proud of me. I think/hope she will be if/once she reads the letter. This time next year, I'll want to write a letter and have tons more things to add to the list. I'm determined to make that happen and make people proud of me and more importantly, be proud of myself. I'm a good person, and I should embrace that.

Things will go wrong this year and I have to slowly accept that that is a part of life and that is what happens. Without the bad things that happen, you can't learn from them and move on to the good. And I've said it plenty of times but I'll keep re-iterating it because it is so true. As hard as it is, when bad things happen we need to try and learn from them, move on and work on how things could be better. Sure, I've reflected on Julys overdose with bad memories - but I still went to University and finished a whole first term. Which sounds silly but I've had so many failed attempts at University and spent years thinking I'd never complete a week, let alone a term. We just need to keep moving and keep the faith.

Some people like the idea of setting goals for the new year, some don't, and that's okay. I'm not going to live my life by these goals but I'll keep them in the back of my mind. Maybe print them out and stick them somewhere as a reminder to myself. I don't like the idea of 'resolutions' per se, as the word implies that I need to change things about myself and it's not myself that I want to change, as in my personality or my weight or my looks or anything like that. I'm learning to accept that I was born this way and I will die this way and therefore instead of focusing on trying to change what I can't change I'll make positive steps forward and just keep working and keep striving instead. I think that's the best thing to do. And after an emotional conversation last night my boyfriend has said he's going to try his hardest to help me reach some of these goals.

What is on this list isn't actually out of my reach, even if I tell myself that it is. It is down to me to make it happen. And no-one else. It's true that only you are in control of your own destiny.

Goals for 2014

1) Pass my first term at University
2) Go abroad
3) Make my blog more successful! (somehow)
4) Continue to raise awareness of mental health/body image issues - especially within my University
5) Use my DSLR camera a lot more - not just for taking pictures but for making videos for my YouTube channel - it was a big success before and I helped a lot of people and I'd love to get back into the swing of the YouTube community again.
6) Get some volunteer work working in schools and try to also volunteer in charity sectors different from ones I would usually go for.
7) Try and say YES to more things - this was one of my goals that I set myself last year, and I didn't do it half as much as I wanted to - stupid anxiety! I think this may be a yearly goal for me for a while!
8) Also to go outside of my comfort zone - which relates to what I've said above. Challenge my anxiety and try new things and go to more places that I'd usually say no to because of my anxiety.
9) Complete my fourth Race for Life to raise money for Cancer Research UK
10) Raise money for Mind - I've had my eyes set on walking the Thames Path challenge for a while, watch this space.
11) Try and cook more often - especially now my family and I are in a new house with a new kitchen! Also no skipping meals!
12) Inspire somebody/make a difference in someone elses life.
13) Drink more water and less Diet Coke - it's a well known fact that I don't drink enough water, and I'm always so dehydrated but can never motivate myself to drink enough. (I will note that this was my goal last year and after suffering from stomach flu early in December I was downing more water so it might be possible)
14) Take Multi-vitamins everyday ( mainly to stop Nathan from moaning at me every time I feel ill that 'I don't take vitamins') Also on that note - actually start taking my anti-depressants (I have no excuse now I live five doors away from a pharmacy!)
15) Learn to create a balance between University, my job, treatment, having a social life, my boyfriend/family, and a little bit of 'me' time every now and again. So far, it isn't balanced at all.
16) For once, I wouldn't like to lose weight but I'd very much like to tone up. I've started to accept my body more and more over the last year and would like to 'tone up' a little as opposed to still looking like a sack of bones (well, I don't as much anymore, but you see what I mean)
17) Learn to treat myself more - taking myself for fake-tans (I love the confidence boost afterwards), getting my nails done, treating myself to clothes (I never buy clothes). Actually thinking of myself for once.
18) I need to learn that not being perfect is okay. That this year at University is nothing more than a learning curve and a chance for me to improve day by day and gain more insight, knowledge and wisdom.
19) Write more.

The above video is one from a YouTuber I watch called Emma Blackery - I encourage you all to watch it and become inspired.

Hope you all have a very Happy New Year - if you do have any goals for 2014 let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, 28 December 2013


So it's that time of year again where I reflect back on the year just passed and look to the year about to begin.

Here is the post that I wrote this time last year, ending 2012, reflecting on the year and moving into 2013. It really doesn't seem that long ago but is so strange to look through.

  I'm honest, I hate New Years and the idea of reflecting back on the year really does set me with dread - but I do sometimes find looking back on the year useful as I work out what actually happened and the achievements I made. Here goes...

Top highlights of this year

  • Being present at my boyfriends official 'passing out' parade - as he became a full time Metropolitan Police Officer after having being a Special Constable for three years - proudest girlfriend ever!

  • The Summer Stampede - by far the best gig I've ever been to, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park back in July. The hottest day of the year, so much atmosphere and fun, and I got to see heaps of amazing bands, including my top favourite - Mumford and Sons!

  • Beginning my English Literature degree at University and finally reaching the end of first term. Also meeting plenty of amazing classmates who I'm proud to call my friends!

  • BodyGossip #BodyLove flashmob!

  • Turning 21 - and having a huge party with all my friends and family to celebrate!

Other great moments

  • Meeting the beautiful Samantha Betteridge, when she came to London and we shopped until we dropped, saw Matilda the musical - and went crazy at the arcades at 12 midnight!
  • Seeing Matilda the Musical, Wicked (for the third time) and We Will Rock You at the theatre!
  • Running my forth Race for Life and raising £555 for Cancer Research UK!

  • Celebrating birthdays of good friends!
The 21st birthday of my best friend, Becky!

  • Having the privilege to dine at some top quality restaurants and have some very unique dining experiences - Inamo StJames, Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, DansLeNoir, and the Mayfair Hotel!

  • Visiting Shakespeares Globe Theatre for the first time to enjoy a performance of Macbeth!

  • Visiting Ellis in Canterbury and meeting the beautiful Emma Purce - a girl who I've spoken to and known for years! Had the most fantastic and drunken and memorable weekend here!

  • Fun times with friends!

  • Re-connecting with my counsellor who I saw briefly when I was 12 years old and her still remembering me. Without her I wouldn't be at University now so she's served as a huge inspiration towards my recovery this year.

  • Celebrating four and a half wonderful years with my boyfriend Nathan as well as many other amazing times this year!

  • Attending my first ever work Christmas party!
  • Being on TV! Appearing very briefly on a documentary called 'Diaries of a Broken Mind!

  • Achieving over 36,000 blog views!
  • Creating an extremely powerful and moving video for Eating Disorders Awareness Week which had over 5,000 views.

  • Meeting the wonderful and inspiring Natasha Devon and Ruth Rogers - inspiring my recovery from my previous eating disorder in more ways than one.

  • Becoming a BodyGossip and TimeToChange Ambassador.

  • Seeing The Script and Imagine Dragons live (not enough gigs this year for me - there needs to be more next year!)

  • I also moved house at the very end of this year - 5 days before Christmas in fact - which has been a huge readjustment for me:

I also lost my dear cousin Kevin to cancer earlier on this year - and have had several relapses into depression, the worst being an overdose that I took back in July in which I possibly could have resulted seriously ill yet I told nobody for ages afterwards. I lost a lot of friendships this year - some who I'd been friends with for over 10 years. There have been tons of setbacks this year and when you have an illness like mine it's very difficult to see the light when the match keeps getting blown out.

But, although this year has not been a fantastic one, I've achieved some goals that I never thought I'd achieve and although they're not particularly life-changing - for me they signify huge steps and progression. Life throws some shit at me and things get hard, but I do remain grateful, that I have a roof over my head, a loving boyfriend/family, a degree to work towards, and a job. Things are just not how I want them to be and it's not impossible but more things do need to change. I do feel like I say that things need to change all too much and I guess it's difficult to change your outlook, perspectives and the way that you feel about yourself when you've spent 21 years feeling the same way.

The last few weeks have been challenging. My parents and I moved house last Friday and it still doesn't feel like 'home' - if I'm honest I'm struggling to settle in. The CBT I was supposed to be happening got completely screwed over by the local mental health team two days before my supposed first appointment. My Dad and I have not been getting on in the slightest. And I'm keeping a good head on my shoulders, and usually I would have broken down by now and I haven't and it's a real shock. But I'm in a state of mind where I'm not overly happy and I'm not rock bottom. I'm quite numb and I don't really feel anything. I'm in limbo and it's a strange place to be.

I'll be making a blog post very soon about my goals for 2014. A lot of people say that 'resolutions' are a bad idea - and I personally hate that term, but I see nothing wrong with setting myself small and attainable goals for the new year. Things to work towards and not exactly better myself but better my prospects, my future. It's a shame that with mental illness you strive and strive and strive and yet you still have so much more to do. I'm unsure what to make of this year. It's been a right mixture and I'm not entirely sure how I feel at the end.

I can't guarantee that next year will be a  good one but I can certainly try my damned hardest to make it that way.
All I can do is try and hope that my struggle will pay off.

Happy new year to you all.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Being a 'real woman'

I'm going to use this evening to blog about the 'real woman' debate.

When I was growing up, thin was the ideal. Although cases of eating disorders were certainly not as high as they are now - we were bombarded with images of ultra-thin models and celebrities gracing our front pages. These were the women that we idolised and were suggested that we should look like. Many of you will know I developed an eating disorder in my teenage years, not through the array of images that were presented to me but they certainly did not help and perpetuated my alarming eating habits.

In 2013, we appear to have made steps forward. Good, positive changes. The launch of BodyGossip, an organisation for which I am an ambassador for, was the first organisation of its kind to stand up and say that it's okay to weigh whatever the hell you like - because we're all God damn beautiful the way that we are. They've gone into schools and delivered self-esteem and body confidence workshops to young teenagers and sixth-formers, they staged a fabulous flashmob earlier on this year on London's Southbank, they've employed many celebrity ambassadors to create fabulous films regarding the subject of body image. This year also sees the launch of larger mannequins in high street stores such as Debenhams, beginning with their Oxford Street store and set to expand. And progress has certainly been made. Pro-anorexia is still a thing and there are still people out there who believe that being stick-thin is the only way forward, but I have noticed a huge shift since I was a teenager in the way we perceive body image and I can only see that as a good thing.

One thing I have noticed, however, is the term 'real woman' being used on a daily basis for woman who are, say a size 12+. That 'real women' have curves - I've literally, as I'm writing this, come across a Facebook group that says 'Real women have curves..not the body of a twelve year old boy'. I'm actually disgusted.

There's other things that aggravate me about the whole 'real women' thing. Apparently real women are powerful, and strong. That you can't be a real women until you've had a child. That real women are intelligent. The list goes on.

When I was a teenager, I was desperate to be thin. I only recognise how ill I was then when I look back now and realise some of the stupid things that I used to do, some of the hideous things I used to say as excuses not to eat. I didn't eat in my school for about 6 years until my final year of Sixth Form when I decided that I didn't need to be this way anymore. Now, I'm the heaviest I've ever been, but I'm still not over the size that one would refer to me as a 'real woman'. I used to have people compliment my figure, people telling me that it was okay for me to eat x food or y food because I was skinny and that I'd get away with it, that 'you don't have that problem' when I'd make a jokey comment about fitting into some outfit. Now I'm seen as the skinny one who needs to put weight on because no-one would look twice at me otherwise (of course, my boyfriend is attracted to me, but you see my general point). Times have changed and I've changed along with it, and I now am jealous of those with curves and those who have their lumps and bumps in all the right places because society is now telling me that 'real woman have curves'. Now, most of you know that my anorexic voice still takes over on occasion and so as you can imagine it's very difficult to fight these two very much opposing sides of my brain.

I'd consider myself someone who is naturally slender with a good metabolism, before and after anorexia. I have a thigh gap, and although I'm larger in the chest area, I have thin arms and some bony parts. I have body hang-ups every single day. I mentioned in a blog post a few weeks back that I spend hours sometimes pulling clothes out of my wardrobe and trying clothes on and taking them off again for fear of looking fat, even though this shouldn't bother me. Besides this though, I am a woman. I was born a woman, and I will die a woman. What is it about my figure that defines my gender? It amazes me that those who call themselves 'feminists' in particular decide to make comments suggesting that you're only a woman if you're over a size 12, therefore completely alienating those women who are naturally thin and haven't forced themselves to look this way. I naturally have brown hair and brown eyes in the same way as I am naturally thin. Another way this is done is seeing women through the eyes of men - 'men don't want a bag of bones - they want something to grab onto' (an awful term, I know but go with me for a second) - oncemore isolating women who are naturally slender like myself. My boyfriend has always found me attractive in the four and a half years we have been together - you cannot take ONE body shape and make one general assumption that all men prefer it, men that see women just as a body shape are indeed rather pathetic, men who see through that and see a woman for what they actually are are the ones worth keeping and worth listening to.

What I'm about to say is going to kind of relate back to my perfectionism post last week, but realistically, if we did attain the body shape we had always idolised and mauled over, we'd still be dissatisfied. Because our mentality constantly puts us down and tells us that we're not worthy or not enough. Women, and men would still find something to put themselves down about. I'm starting to realise that it's not about achieving the perfect body anymore. It's just being comfortable. Comfortable with the fact that I'm healthy and can eat what I like, when I like, and I can exercise when I like, and that I have access to fantastic food, and beginning to accept my body for what it is.  I don't like my boobs and I hate my thighs but they're here and they're here to stay so I need to live with them. To accept the fact that I am a real woman whether I tell myself that I am or not. A woman who can do whatever the fuck she likes because I'm more than just a woman - I am a human being and shouldn't be defined on what I look like or what I can do by what gender I am.

Don't get me wrong - I am so happy that we are beginning to embrace the idea of being body confident in our own skin and it's organisations like BodyGossip that allowed this to become possible for myself. But let's not just assume we can only be body confident, can only be sexy, and can only be real if we have curves. Your body shape does not define you as a person and this is for females AND males. Let's live a life of acceptance and learn to embrace what we have and be good to our bodies.

I'm going to attach a few YouTube videos I've come across recently on this topic which I strongly encourage you to watch!

Thank you!