Blue skies

I’m slowly learning to see blue skies

When I was taught to see the grey

The thunderclouds of disappointment

The sharp lightning strikes of shame

I’m starting to see the marvel of rainbows

Fractured light through drops of rain

The hidden beauty found when sorrow

Gives way to hope as life begins again

I will never know if you’re proud of me

If I’m good enough, if I’ve done well

So I’m teaching myself to see blue skies

To see light where once darkness fell

No, life isn’t all rainbows and blue skies

But nor it is all darkness, blame and pain

I get to choose where I put my focus

I choose sunshine over rain

Photo by Egor Kamelev on

Some “R”s to try in Eating Disorder recovery

I felt that this Instagram post deserved its own place on the blog. I hope you find it useful.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more content.

Time to Talk Day 2023

#TimeToTalkDay is a day of conversations about mental health. It’s a day to check in with others, share experiences, and most of all, to challenge stigma around mental illness. Even though the Time to Change campaign is no more, the day is still marked by Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Co-op, and of course, those Champions from the original campaign, albeit under different banners.

I joined the campaign in 2017. I was a very different person back then, and in a very different place mentally. Still unwell, on antidepressants and in therapy, very unsure of myself, and fairly new to being open about my mental health issues, I wasn’t strong enough to campaign fully yet, so I started small. I wrote an email to my friends and colleagues at work, some of whom knew about my issues, some who didn’t. Here’s what I wrote:

Hi all,

Today is Time to Talk Day. Many of you already know this is a cause that means a lot to me. It’s a few years now since I made the decision to be open about my mental health issues, and I have never regretted it, not once. When I was first diagnosed with depression, age 21 and on the verge of failing my final year at university, I didn’t even tell my parents. Finally, thanks to campaigns like Time to Talk and Mind’s 1 in 4, the stigma is disappearing, and the isolation I used to feel is firmly in the past.

We all have some knowledge of mental health issues, it’s part of our daily job, so I won’t bore you with the details of the exhaustion, shame, and frustration my conditions cause me. Instead I want to use today to say thank you.

Thank you for not judging. Thank you for noticing when I’m having a bad day and checking I’m OK. Thank you for sharing stories of people with similar issues so I know I’m not alone. Thank you for seeing me as me, not as a mental illness. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for helping me feel “normal” (whatever that is). It makes a massive difference and it’s what today is all about.

Kind regards,


I agonised over that email, and was terrified to press send. But of course, my colleagues’ and friends’ response was as kind as ever. It gave me the courage to keep speaking out, having those conversations, and challenging stigma. To join my local hub, where I found more friends with inspiring stories. And then eventually, to start this blog and social media accounts dedicated to those very same things.

You see, Time to Talk Day, and conversations about mental health, can make a massive difference. They can give strength, courage, and support. They can change people’s minds and beliefs. They can create a ripple that spreads out and touches more hearts and minds than you ever thought possible.

This Time to Talk Day, I hope you find the courage to be open, speak out, or just ask a loved one how they are. And if you’re not sure what to say or do, you won’t go wrong by starting with those things I was grateful for back in 2017, because those were things that helped give me the strength to recover, and keep fighting to stay in recovery: friendship, understanding, and love.

Thank you for not judging. Thank you for noticing when I’m having a bad day and checking I’m OK. Thank you for sharing stories of people with similar issues so I know I’m not alone. Thank you for seeing me as me, not as a mental illness. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for helping me feel “normal” (whatever that is). It makes a massive difference and it’s what today is all about.

If you’d like know more, click here:

Resolutions to aid Eating Disorder recovery

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is over and we’re being bomabarded with diet and fitness ads, “New Year, New You” slogans, and promises of increased health and happiness. So to counteract all that, here’s some suggestions for New Year resolutions which will actively support your mental health and aid your recovery. How do I know? I’ve done them all. Take a look and choose whichever one speaks to you to try in 2023.

Photo by cottonbro studio on

1/ Detox your Social Media feed

Social Media can support your mental health, it just depends how you use it. Unfollow everyone who makes you feel bad about yourself: no more fitspo, what I eat in a day or heavily photoshopped images. Replace them with accounts which make you smile, challenge diet culture and disordered eating, and expand your world.

2/ Start journalling

There’s no right or wrong way to journal. It can take any format you like: buy a pretty book with inspirational quotes, record voice notes, make mood boards, doodle or paint, try stream of consciousness writing, post on social media, start a blog, or write a good old fashioned diary. It’s a great way to release emotions, a form of mindfulness and creativity, and an excellent way to challenge the perfectionism that goes hand in hand with the eating disorder mindset.

3/ Smash those scales

I’ve been there, and I know that constant weighing only ever made me feel worse about myself. Even when I was losing weight, getting on those scales was just reinforcing my belief that a number, my size, was the most important thing about me. So when the numbers increased, I felt truly awful about myself.

If getting rid of the scales entirely seems too much, try cutting down to weighing once a week, the recommended amount in BED recovery, as a starting point.

4/ Be more mindful

I was rarely present when my eating disorder was in control. Letting things just be, with curiosity, was the opposite of that mentality of needing to control, atone for a past binge, or plan the next one. The brain power needed for those constant thoughts about food left so little space for being in the moment.

And that’s precisely why mindfulness can be so helpful. Short, structured exercises to help you get used to being present, noticing thoughts and feelings, can be a fantastic resource as recovery progresses. Mindfulness apps and courses are a great way to get started and learn different techniques.

5/ Be kinder to yourself

All that criticism you pile on yourself every day. All the shame and guilt. How’s that working for you? I’ll tell you what it did for me: it just made me feel worse and worse about myself, and fuelled increasing binges, further restriction, and more frequent purging.

How would you talk to a friend going through your situation? Why not try treating yourself with that same compassion? Hey, I get it. I didn’t feel worthy of it either to begin with. But the more compassion you show, the worthier the recipient feels, whether that’s your friend or yourself.

6/ Challenge your inner fatphobia

We’ve all been brought up to believe fat is bad and thin is good, and that belief can be a real barrier to recovery. As a starting point. try following a variety of fat creators on social media to help get used to seeing a range of different bodies. Then start reading about the history of the BMI and the diet industry. Be prepared: this one will probably bring up difficult emotions.

7/ Learn a new skill

Photo by Pixabay on

Have you always wanted to speak a foreign language? Learn to paint? Bake? Why not finally give it a go? Whether you enrol at your local community college or join an online forum, learning something new is one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing for a reason. It challenges the brain, increases self esteem, and can be a way of connecting with others. It’s also another way to challenge those perfectionist tendencies, because no-one is perfect at something they’re doing for the first time, but that doesn’t mean that trying can’t be fun.

8/ Give to others

Another of the Five Ways to Wellbeing, volunteering, giving or helping others in some way has been shown to be really beneficial for good mental health. It can be as simple as taking the time to pay someone a (non-appearance related) compliment or as involved as giving up a few hours a week to help a local charity. Either way, giving to others takes focus off yourself and your worries for a while, helps you connect with others, and just somehow feels good.

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year! Which resolution appeals to you most?

Stolen Years

Allowing myself to feel,

To cry,

To realise just how much you stole from me.

Peace, inner calm,

The strength to be myself.

The courage to admit just how terrified I was.

Sapping my self-esteem

Till I felt worthless, unworthy of any joy.

The feeling of dread

That they would all realise I was a fraud,

Not knowing what I was doing.

Seeming calm but completely out of control,

Wanting it to end,

But not knowing how.

Eating down the sadness,

Throwing up the fear,

Not knowing why

But knowing it was wrong.

Knowing they’d be horrified

If they ever knew.

Trapped in the cycle

Year after year.

So many years stolen.

So few remain.

Time to make them count.

Sunshine through the rain

I’ve been crying a lot lately. So much that I even caught myself crying on camera. But the shocking thing to me is not that I cried. It’s that I allowed the camera to keep rolling, then posted it online. I pushed myself so far out of my comfort zone that I showed my vulnerability, my emotions, to any stranger who cared to watch.

You see, there was a time when I went years without shedding a single tear. Throughout my teens until I was 21, I became extremely successful at blocking my emotions through bingeing, with a side of alcohol. So successful at burying all my pain that I ended up with my first episode of depression in my final year of university.

Even then, when I had learned that crying was a necessary evil, it was done in private and as little as possible. It was something I struggled to do, something I continued to avoid, something I swallowed down. Because crying was a weakness, a vulnerability. If I showed I was weak, that gave others power. And that was something I could never allow.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed how often I’ve laughed. Over the tiniest things: social media posts, puns, something a friend said, even physical comedy, which I never found funny before. I’ve noticed how I have felt happiness, joy, as easily as sadness, anger, and pain.

Then I realised. In blocking out my sadness, negative emotions, and vulnerability, I’ve also blocked out happiness, positive emotions, and sensitivity. I didn’t allow myself to be sad, but doing that meant that I didn’t allow myself to be happy either. By not crying, I missed out on laughter.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been times when dulling those negative emotions has been necessary to keep me alive. I’m not ashamed of taking antidepressants when I had suicidal thoughts. They helped me stay alive, they helped me through the pain of therapy and early stages of recovery from BED. There are times when feeling those negative emotions is a very bad idea.

But at some point in recovery from BED it’s important to learn to accept and live with emotions. And I wanted to share that when that happened for me, it gave me the freedom to enjoy those good emotions, too. Bright lights of joy shining on tears of sadness: a wonderful, miraculous emotional rainbow. I’m hoping for a pot of contentment at its end…

That time when I was fit and healthy

There’s a secret I’ve been keeping since my twenties. A particular time when my ED voice was at its loudest. It’s this time I go back to whenever I question whether having an ED was really so bad, or whether I was ever really ill at all. In this blog, I am sharing it for the first time.

It was a bad time for me. My marriage had ended, I’d gone down the “revenge body” route. Started a very restrictive diet. Hired a personal trainer. My body rebelled, of course, and I started bingeing again. Then the purging kicked in, too, and became a regular thing.

I was getting so many compliments. Interest from men. My career was going from strength to strength. I was sticking two fingers up at my ex. Look how well I was doing without him! In public. Behind closed doors was a different story. Looking back, I was very far from well.

After a couple of years, I had a virus of some kind. I remember I developed jaundice. I thought: I’ll see the doctor tomorrow if I’m no better. But the next day I felt OK, so I thought nothing more of it.

Then I started getting really bad stomach ache late at night, particularly if I’d eaten anything rich or binged. The pain was so bad it would wake me up. I would lie awake in agony. The only thing that helped was making myself sick, then I was able to get a few more hours of sleep.

I looked up my symptoms online. They pointed to a stomach ulcer, caused by the virus I had had. It didn’t seem too bad. It was helping me manage my weight. The pain seemed like a reasonable price to pay for being at my thinnest. It was just the universe punishing me for being so greedy.

And there we have it: I believed this internal dialogue. I chose what I thought was a stomach ulcer and the risk of all the potential medical complications over weight gain. I put my fear of getting fat again ahead of seeing a doctor and making sure there was nothing sinister going on. And I truly didn’t realise that there was anything wrong with that decision. Of course the pain was worth it, everyone would make the same choice…

Some time later I was prescribed antibiotics for another issue. They cleared up my stomach pain, too. I was devastated.

Looking back, what I feel is relief and gratitude. I had a lucky escape. It marked the beginning of the end of my regular purging. I would continue to binge, and occasionally purge, for many more years, but I never knowingly risked my life in this way again.

And yet, a few months back, my father mentioned that time when I was so fit and healthy. He had no way of knowing what was really going on.

The world needs to stop worshipping thinness, prizing it above all else, equating it to health. Because it’s not always healthy. Sometimes it’s very unhealthy indeed.

Have decades of eating my feelings down made me emotionally illiterate?

I grew up believing feelings were bad. I was told I was too emotional, oversensitive, that I needed not to take things so personally. So I stopped talking about feelings, and did my best not to have them. Bingeing became my go-to when I needed to put a lid on those pesky, unwanted emotions.

The only problem is, when you don’t feel emotions how can you figure out what they are? If you don’t talk about them, how can you learn to label them, know what their purpose is? Over the past few months, I’ve been noticing clues that this is a skill I lack.

I recently did an online course where we were asked to name emotions we wanted to feel more. I was stumped. I really struggled to come up with the required three words.

I’ve been more anxious about leaving the house during lockdown, but my anxiety has presented itself differently to last time I had it. I found myself procrastinating and putting off going out. It took months to figure out why I was doing it.

I’ve been crying a lot at little things lately. I don’t know why. I can’t label what I’m feeling. I don’t know what’s wrong, or how to fix it. All I can do is allow myself to feel whatever it is, and not fall back into old habits.

There are some emotions I can label. The big ones. Anger, sadness, frustration, love. And joy! An emotion which has come with recovery. When I first started recovering, every emotion, including joy and happiness, came in an overpowering wave which was expressed through tears.

Finally, I’m at a point where I’m not completely overwhelmed by or scared of emotions. But I am confused by them. I know the words, the labels, for feelings. But that knowledge is abstract. I don’t truly know what they feel like in my body. And if I can’t label my emotions, how can I work out why I’m feeling them or what they are for?

I know that trusting myself and my body is my path to recovery. But it seems like I still have work to do. I need to go back to the beginning and pay attention to my moods, look at an emotion wheel and label how I’m feeling. Learn what those moods are trying to tell me. Then use that knowledge to work out what I do next, so that I continue to grow and evolve. Because what use is recovery if I don’t?

My Lowest Point

Trigger Warning: suicidal thoughts

There’s something happening at the moment which is bringing back painful memories. Triggering me, if you will. And as always when I’m struggling, I’m hoping writing it down will help. I’m aware it might not be helpful to some readers: if that might be you, please click away from this post now.

Around a decade ago, my life as I knew it ended. It started with workplace bullying, which led to a decline in my mental health. I developed debilitating anxiety, was prescribed propranolol after a particularly distressing anxiety attack which lasted for two days straight, and had counselling.

The issues continued, then my workplace was restructured and I was told I was facing redundancy. My mood declined. I would go to bed at night hoping that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. Those thoughts gradually became more intrusive. I was barely able to function, and recognised that this was the worst depressive episode I had ever had. I went back to my GP and asked for antidepressants.

Two weeks after I started the antidepressants, my partner of ten years told me he no longer loved me and I needed to move out. I couldn’t even cry. I was still getting used to the medication, and I listened with dry eyes, not knowing what or how to feel about the fact that my world was falling apart. I was mentally ill, and in one fell swoop, I was losing my job, my partner and my home.

I went to bed that night and made a plan to end my life the next morning.

To this day, I don’t know what stopped me from carrying out that plan, but I am so grateful I didn’t. Even though I’m struggling right now.

That job I lost was so stressful it literally made me ill. My relationship wasn’t making me happy and hadn’t done for years. I wouldn’t have been able to recover with those things still in my life.

So I moved in with my parents because I had nowhere else to go, and let them take care of me while I couldn’t look after myself. I had more counselling, and did a little freelance work while I looked for a full-time job.

I built a new life somewhere new. I got treatment for my ED, weaned off the antidepressants, quit smoking, made friends. I’m even finally starting to think I might be ready for a new relationship.

The last few months have been tough, but this is a reminder to myself that I have survived worse and come back stronger. I will be just fine, I just need a little time to recover and figure out my next move.

If you are struggling, too, please speak to your GP. I have.