Taking scary challenges in a step-by-step way can be really helpful. I'm a big fan of lists and sticker charts and I find it really helpful to look at a problem and break it down in a way that is gradually achievable but doesn't cause me too much stress along the way. I know if I become too overwhelmed, I'm likely to either give up or keep putting off the next steps until tomorrow.
Fortunately, things have moved on somewhat from my own school days. We have a far better understanding of self-harm and eating disorders - unfortunately that's at least in part due to a huge increase in prevalence in both conditions which has forced us to learn, fast, and taught us some difficult lessons along the way.
Of all the therapists I have seen, all the psychiatrists who have treated me (or at least tried to) trying to find out the cause of my eating disorder, one word is always at the forefront. Invisible. Ever since I could remember, I have felt invisible to people. 'Felt' is an understatement. I am invisible. Or at least that's what it seems like to me...
My life has shown me that the biggest epiphanies come in the most unlikely of places. I just never expected a hospital treatment room to be one of them. And I definitely didn't expect the words of a Nuclear Medicine doctor to affect me so much that they touched me more deeply inside than anything I could have possibly imagined.
My whole four years at university have been marked by one constant question: "How is she?" It has been one constant worry - would today be the day I got the phone call saying she was in hospital? Would today be the day she became another statistic? A third of anorexia sufferers die from their disease - and my biggest fear is my sister becoming one of them.
Your doctor doesn't understand that you are so phobic, so physically afraid of food that you will routinely experience an actual stress response during eating, full-on anxiety attacks after eating, producing huge amounts of adrenalin. All things that makes us feel incredibly unwell around food. So much so that your body believes it is in extreme danger every time you consume anything
I see how amazing and rewarding life can be, and although I have grown as a person from my experiences, I am upset at the amount of time my illness has made me waste. During these months of the year, when there are festivals after festival, surrounded by many a mealtime, I am trying my best to enjoy and acknowledge the beauty and root of these joyous times.
Once again my mind had become full of numbers and targets and filled with this concept that every minor set back was an enormous failure. Suddenly the all too familiar ritual of daily weigh-ins and calorie counting became habitual and without thinking I was slipping back into the icy grasp of anorexia, who I had tried so hard to separate from.
I can't just put food in my body like I'm putting petrol in a car; there are no feelings in a car. That's why I'm supporting a new online forum created by Fixers where young people who've had an eating disorder can talk about their experience in order to help others - be it family, friends of professionals - understand.
Too many times the work of mental health services is clouded by negativity and tragedies. In many instances this means that the successes are overshadowed, and mental health teams as a whole are portrayed in a negative light. My aim today is to break that portrayal, all in dedication of the team of professionals that saved my life numerous times...