As I have made it quite well-known, I am open about my battles with anorexia and clinical depression, and aim to use my experiences to better the services for others who are in desperate need of improved help, as well as break the stigma attached to mental health.
So as I have began my career as a personal trainer, my story became known to The Sentinel, which is a local newspaper in Staffordshire. They featured me on how I managed to recover from an eating disorder, and go onto become a personal trainer. It was such a beautifully written piece, that it has taken pride and place on my bedroom wall! I am over the moon to have this publicity, especially in my home town, but what happened from here just blew my little mind.
Soon after this article went to press, I received a phone call from a news agency, asking to feature my story NATIONALLY! I was so shocked that it would even be considered! Obviously, it was not an offer you turn down, when trying to raise awareness, so I worked along side a journalist, who wrote up an article that could potentially reach some of the national news papers!
Over the period of time that I was awaiting where and when my story would make it to the nationals, I had to think about the pros and cons to being so open about sharing my story, in both the visual and written sense.
As I know all too well, the media can have a huge influence over self-esteem issues, much more so when you are suffering from an eating disorder. You look at everything objectively, comparing yourself to each and every person you catch eyes on. What gets to you more, is when you see other sufferers or images of how sufferers used to look like, in and around the media. It can make you believe you are not ill enough to have the illness, cause you to fall deeper into the traps of a disordered mindset and ultimately have you feel like you should do exactly the same as that person.
This is extremely important to take into account when thinking about publicising your recovery story, using photographs that show the damage of what the illness caused and revealing the lowest weight you dropped to. However, in order to project the painful reality to those who do not realise to what extent this illness can take you, the facts need to be addressed. I was told by the professional services that in order to receive the help that I so desperately needed, I had to be within the critical category to be admitted to hospital…yes, the NHS SERVICES, told me that I wasn’t ill enough to receive treatment for a mental illness I clearly had. That is the reason why I believe that I needed to share my lowest points, because I couldn’t have got the treatment without dramatically risking my life.
For this, and other reasons I know that I have done the right thing, regardless of others opinions. One way or another, those who are in the depths of an eating disorder, will find triggers somewhere. I do not wish to hide what happened to me, because it is my story – unfortunately when you are so ill you don’t see your own life in the same light, and seek to follow the paths of others, but through recovery you discover that your way through is the right way for you.
If you hadn’t already noticed, I have never shared comparison photographs on social media for this reason, as this could harm another suffer. However, I am proud of how much I have overcome, I am proud of my body and for what it has allowed me to do, since physically recovering from anorexia, and I hope that the world can see my message is not to glorify but to expose the dangerous levels that sufferers have to go to, to be treated for their illness.
But what I kept thinking was that for every one in ten, there will be nine others who will gleam positivity from the article. You can see how much healthier I am in the pictures taken in the gym (which was a fantastic experience!) Not only that you can see how happier I am, as my mum says my self-confidence glows from my skin! I would never have felt or looked so content when I was so ill. This is what I want to show, the impact it had on me MENTALLY but unfortunately the media likes to involve imagery to catch peoples attention, which has ups and downs. Though it is how you view it that makes the difference to the impact created.
There is nothing that could have quite prepared me for such amazing feedback, praise and congratulations for recovering and being brave enough to share my story. It was not an easy decision to make, but if I can help just one other sufferer see that there is hope for them to get better, then my efforts are rewarded. This is not a way to fill myself with recognition for doing the right thing, or to give myself an ego boost, I simply have faith in each and every person who has, or is still going through a mental illness to recover. So by sharing my own story of extreme struggles, I hope to show that no matter what life throws at you, there is a way out of the darkness.
This has been one of the most incredible starts to a year, I have ever had – though it came with extreme negativity to (which I don’t even want to entertain) I am tremendously proud of myself and for my family, to have come through these past five years stronger than ever before. We are united together, share our love on a deeper level, understand one another even more, respecting our feelings and thoughts. Without my close and distant family around me, I would never have pulled through, the way I have, if at all.
To share how proud my family is, I received flowers this morning from one of my Uncles and his family – I NEVER get flowers! It is these things that make me realise how much I have actually achieved, how inspiring I could potentially be if I continue to be brave and open up about my recovery.
Thank you to each and every one of you, who has sent me amazing messages, shared my posts and read the articles, it means the world that there are so many supportive people, of what I am aiming to do. I read every comment, feeling like the Cheshire Cat, with a smile as wide as the moon!
As I have mentioned I would love to train in lifestyle coaching or counselling on a small level to incorporate into my personal training services. But will just have to what and see! My next goal is to work along side charities to help raise awareness, however that may be. If you have any ideas of what I could to for fundraising do let me know.
Here’s to more opportunities, making a difference to the way see and treat mental health, for the rest of 2016 and beyond.