Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

When I was a fourteen years old teenager, my battle with my demons began. It wasn’t until a lot further down the line in terms of time things got worse and I ended up in and out of hospital, under the care of the Home Treatment Team and seeing numerous professionals on an outpatient basis that I really began to tackle the underlying problems and face my greatest fears. I have battled anorexia, bulimia, anxiety and depression as readers familiar with this blog will know. Up until now I am plagued with destructive thoughts that I have to rationalise on a daily basis. I have to use my skills and medication to cope and well…

Honestly? It really sucks.

Anyone with mental health problems will know that the ‘down days’ in particular are the worst. I mean c’mon, we all have them. Those days when you don’t want to get out of bed and you have to put on a front for the world to see. Unfortunately, living with a mental illness, even to answer a text or phone call feels impossible because you want to be in your own little world where nobody can interrupt you or make things worse. You want to close the door on your own weird little life and just wallow in your own pain because it is easier than facing what will no doubt feel like the next thousand hours of your life. Every second of your existence there is an insidious presence wreaking havoc on your mind.

I’m not going to focus on the negative though; not for a week as important as this one. No, I’m going to be positive and challenge mental illnesses, because we cannot let them take over us and the person we really are. A mental illness should not and cannot be your identity, because to allow it to do that is a terrible injustice for the wonderful people that we are without them.

There is so much beauty in this world that we cannot see whilst in the depths of despair, and that beauty is worth fighting for. Family, friends, nature, literature or whatever it is that you may hold a smidgen of hope for is why you need to keep going, even in the darkest of times when you can barely see even a flicker of light. It’s hard to process that when you’re fighting with your partner, you’ve just lost a loved one, you’ve been given some bad news or even something seemingly smaller like a terrible day in work.

Something I am told time and time again is to get out there and exercise (if you can do so, and safely, of course), and to eat healthily. These two pieces of advice are probably what I hear most from my Community Psychiatric Nurse, and they are well worth following. This could mean simple things like going for a walk, or remembering to eat your five fruit and vegetables a day which can make such a difference to our mental health on a long-term basis.

Force yourself to do things that you know are good for you, like seeing friends, and instead ignore that little voice in your head that tells you to hide away. In Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) that is using the skill we call ‘Opposite Action’. Take care of yourself by doing something you enjoy like having a relaxing bath, which is the ‘Self-Soothe’ skill. Accept that we cannot change the behaviour of others, but we can change our own response to it, the skill known as ‘Radical Acceptance’. These are life-changing, life-saving skills that I practice on a daily basis, often work, and if I’m lucky result in me having a smile on my face!

So, why am I writing this? Well, nobody should have to be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their mental health problems, and nobody should feel like a freak or so alone that suicide is their only option. There is always going to be someone who cares, even if that someone is a stranger to you and you have to call The Samaritans (if you live in the UK you can get in touch with them on 116 123). Reach out for help, because you deserve not just a life, but a happy life.

Em x

Links to check out


For Claire


This is a post I never wanted to have to write. Claire Greaves, mental health campaigner, mental health fighter and brilliant friend to so many, has lost her life.

I first met Claire in an eating disorder group a few years ago, and immediately noticed that she looked happy, friendly, and as a bonus had my favourite drink next to her (Pepsi Max)! I was petrified that first week, but Claire, a published author in ‘Dear Stranger’ and an inspiration to all, made me feel at ease, and chatted to me in the break as though she had known me forever. For someone who struggled so much with confidence in herself, she was bright and beautiful to all those around her, that she was determined to help.

People die from anorexia every day, but when you know that person, when you’ve held that person’s hand, when you’ve hugged them, when you’ve tried to be there for them, when you’ve told them it’ll be ok or even when you’ve done something as simple as writing them a letter, you don’t expect it to hit you as hard as it does. It hurts in the depths of your being, and it doesn’t go away quickly the way you may want or expect it to.

Claire loved writing, board games, horror films, campaigning and so much more that I don’t have the time to name everything. She was a true warrior, fighting against mental illness on behalf of all of us who didn’t have the strength that she did. She wrote letters to me that gave me so much hope and have ultimately led to my being where I am now in my recovery journey, on an upwards climb instead of a downwards spiral. I just wish she could have directed that compassion towards herself a little more instead of worrying about everyone else so much, the beautifully selfless person that she was.

There was so much more to Claire than anorexia or mental illness, for she was a person with a warm heart and lovely personality as well! She enjoyed normal, everyday activities like baking and telling jokes and just spending time with her family and friends. She was a person, not an illness and had so much to offer this world. To process her no longer being here is almost unfathomable and deeply painful.

I could go on forever but for now, Claire, I miss you already, as do so many others.

Love you always,

Em x

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018


There are so many reasons why it is important to speak out about an eating disorder as soon as possible, that I could go on forever. The longer that an eating disorder, such as anorexia, goes untreated, the more severe it becomes. How do I know this? Well, personal experience.

Anorexia and bulimia have plagued my life since the age of fourteen years old, and after the death of my grandmother in 2013 they became dire and dismal. I lost the person I was, and my personality became anorexia itself. There was such a long waiting list for mental health services, and my GP was powerless to help me, as much as she cared and battled on my behalf. I was weighed weekly, prescribed calorie drinks, given anti-depressants and provided with counselling (kindly paid for by my workplace) but this wasn’t enough. I needed intensive care, and there just wasn’t enough funding out there to provide this.

Had I sought help at a younger age, had my family and friends known what signs to look for, then things could have been very different. Perhaps I would have learnt the skills needed to help me cope with traumatic events, and therefore not spiralled out of control. Anorexia is a cruel illness; it makes you think you are in control when really you’re controlled by the illness. The symptoms vary from person to person, and can easily be mistaken for something else depending upon what the sufferer reveals.

For myself I experienced many symptoms such as drastic weight loss, my hair falling out and I was constantly tired but unable to sleep properly. Colleagues, friends and family recognised that something was happening to me but they didn’t know what; they just knew that I was no longer the happy, carefree Emma that they were used to. Mealtimes were torturous and even just being around food was difficult for me. It was heart-breaking for my family to watch me succumb to the anorexia and everything that it brought with it, like personality changes and mood swings.

All of this could have been preventable had I sought help sooner. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to go to hospital, or cried myself to sleep every night even though I was an adult in my twenties. If there was more publicity around mental health illnesses like anorexia then maybe so many families would not have to watch loved ones travel to hell at the thought of just eating one simple snack. Anorexia is cunning and deceitful, and it strikes painfully hard, taking away more than one can ever imagine.

I am lucky enough to consider myself in recovery now; a healthy weight and successfully overcoming the thoughts on a daily basis. My medication has been lowered, I work part-time again and I am happy to be alive and on the way to wellness. My message to you? Don’t wait for help, be honest, and fight like a trooper against your eating disorder!


World Suicide Prevention Day- 10th September 2017

I apologise that this post is a little late but with so much going on in my life at the moment it has been impossible to post before now. As it is such an important day in the year, however, I didn’t want the subject to be left totally behind, especially as suicide is such a taboo subject. Talking about death in general is not the easiest, and so the subject of suicide is even harder. You know what though? #itsoktotalk

Even as somebody who openly discusses mental health issues, I find suicide difficult to talk about. I’m not going to refer to myself much in this post so if that’s why you’re here then I’d stop reading now, because it just isn’t something that I’m willing to post about yet. However, this year’s theme is that it is ok to talk about suicide, so I’m going to do my best to talk about it as much as I can!

To quote the Samaritans website,

“More than 800,000 people take their lives each year across the world. In the UK and ROI, more than 6,000 people die by suicide a year – an average of 18 a day.”

Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a high number to you, but that is eighteen people who die, and many more who are affected as a result of their deaths. You see as wrong as it is to say suicide is selfish, it is right to say that the families and friends of those who commit suicide, those who successfully commit suicide and even those who attempt it, suffer to the greatest of magnitudes.

Also stated on the Samaritans website is that you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be willing to listen. I’ve been fortunate enough to have many people in my life in addition to professionals who will just sit and let me talk with them, and I only wish that everyone could have the same. Picking up the phone and talking to a stranger can be so difficult and so that is why it is important for friends, family and acquaintances to be willing to check up on someone. That’s why it is important for mental health awareness in the workplace. That’s why it’s important for people to tell the truth when they are having a bad day and not just say, “I’m fine.” Easier said than done, I know.

It can be really difficult to tell people how awful you feel, and that’s the intrinsic root of the problem. Somehow it isn’t socially acceptable to talk about how rubbish we might feel, and so many find it easier or better to just lie and say they are ok, or maybe only give a half-truth. Even if someone is willing to say they feel depressed, perhaps they aren’t telling you the true extent to how terrible and atrocious they feel inside. They might not be planning to immediately harm themselves in your presence, but later on out of your company, who knows?

The point I am trying to make is that by taking away some of the stigma of conversing about mental health, maybe some lives could be saved. Maybe before it gets to the point where someone is standing on the edge of a building or ready to throw themselves off a bridge then something can be done to change that. Early intervention and prevention are better than facing the aftermath. There are people who can help, truly amazing Doctors, Social Workers, Nurses and all manners of people who will do their utmost best to try and get you back on track.

Compassion and warmth go a long long way to somebody in a fragile state, and they are far more welcome to someone in need than judgement and just general coldness. There is nothing wrong with putting others first once in a while in addition to thinking of our own mental well-being. Help out if you suspect something is wrong before it is too late.

Please, please PLEASE check out this link-

It explains so well exactly what I am trying to but might be failing abysmally at!

As always, I’m always here.


Em x


It’s been a while since my last post, and in all honesty I’d say that is likely down to my ever increasing anxiety. I’m anxious of how my writing is perceived, what people think when they look at me, the way that people interpret what I say and pretty much anything and everything. Anxiety is something that everyone will likely have experienced at some point in their life, but for somebody who suffers with it on a chronic basis, it can be so debilitating.

When you google the definition of anxiety, this is what is given:

‘A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.’

Somehow, it feels like so much more than that though. It sounds too cold and clinical to truly describe how bad the feeling and thoughts can be. Anxiety is like being drowned in a fishbowl, or trapped in a lion’s cage, or stuck in a lift that just will not budge no matter how many times you frantically press the button. It’s frightening and every second feels like ten times longer than it should.

For me, my legs shake (and body in general), I bite my fingernails, I scratch my skin and I pull my hair out. My heart races. Many a time I have been in public and a friend or family member has tried to calm me down from such behaviours because they are so concerned. Even just writing this now makes me feel like I’m abnormal, when really this is such a common issue that should be discussed more widely because maybe then people wouldn’t feel so embarrassed. I both consciously and unconsciously act out these ways, and it’s one of the most frustrating feelings in the world. On a daily basis it can be so exhausting to have to try to control yourself.

Oh and what else? Panic attacks. They are so very common for so many individuals, and my heart goes out to you if you are one of them. I haven’t experienced one in nearly four months (I have the biggest cheesy smile on my face as I type this!) and quite frankly I am so grateful to the skills I have been taught in hospital that have helped prevent this. I no longer need to carry a paper bag with me everywhere that I go, and that is a relief in so many ways. By the way, a tip from my ex-psychologist, Catherine, is that the paper sweet bags you find in Tesco (if you live in the UK) can be great to use, and right now I can still see one on my bookshelf just in case I ever need one again!

My medication for my Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) has been lowered very slightly recently, and at the moment I’m seeing how that goes. It can be tough to get medication right for each individual, and for me my overwhelming tiredness means I have to face the prospect of greater anxiety that I manage with skills rather than pills if I want to lead a normal, relatively stable life. I used to think that I had GAD as a result of anorexia, but now I think it is likely the two go hand-in-hand with one another, especially considering the fact that I still have such tremendous GAD symptoms at a healthy weight.

There is nothing I can say to take away that horrible feeling in your chest, throat, stomach or anywhere else in your body that your anxiety takes hold, but I can tell you this. Mindfulness is a fantastic tool in helping to overcome anxiety, as is just talking to somebody and seeking help in the first place, which can be a scary step to take. Even just having a look online and finding one of the tons of forums out there to speak to others, or reading articles. Not to mention that I’m always here too. It can be draining and unbearable, but there is always somewhere to turn if you need to seek help.

As usual, keep going forward with strength and perseverance towards recovery, because you all deserve happiness, you really honestly do!

Social Media

When it comes to campaigning about fair treatment for people with a mental illness, it’s essential that you remain non-judgemental. Allowing your emotions to takeover is only going to be to your detriment, and therefore as silly as it may sound it is best to write when you are in an appropriate state of mind. What is considered appropriate is up to you, but for me it is not allowing my emotions to get the better of me. In my moments of anger and upset it is quite possible that I would want to moan about someone or something that has happened, but what is that going to achieve? Sure, I feel satisfied that my blog has a record of my feelings, but why is that necessary?

For me on a personal level, this blog is not about social media, like Facebook. Clearly it is a form of social media, but the aim of this is not to ‘get revenge’ but to educate and help family, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike to understand things from my point of view. There is no right and wrong when it comes to a blog, but this is the choice I have decided upon, and there are boundaries I will not cross. I’ll say if I feel like rubbish, I’ll tell you that it is wrong to single someone out because they sink to the floor in a meeting during the midst of a panic attack, but I will not use a real-life example of mine unless it is to constructively show or demonstrate something.

Social media is a wonderful tool when it comes to heightening awareness of a subject, and it can lead to wonderful results when used correctly. Of course it can also backfire dramatically, and that is why I am so conscientious of this, because I want it to be a space where someone can feel like they can relate to my thoughts. This is why I have not spent much time promoting myself or trying to gain followers, because I am happy enough knowing that the odd person or two have benefited from my writing. At present I don’t know how to market myself, and so linking here and there is enough for me.

It’s obvious from my statistics (I monitor purely out of curiosity) that there are far more readers than commenters, and I am totally ok with that! I don’t require praise to write; I write about mental health because I want to have a positive influence on people and help raise understanding and awareness of it. Too many out there want likes and followers and that isn’t a just reason to fight a cause. Don’t get me wrong, the more people that you reach out to the better because you are having more of an impact, but that should not be why you are doing it in the first place. Playing the fame game puts you in a precarious position, and you could easily lose sight of why you are doing what you do in the first place.

With that in mind, I still want to encourage people to talk. It’s ok to admit that you feel anxious to a co-worker, or to tell your best friend that you are struggling to eat breakfast because of your eating disorder. It’s not ok to feel like you should hide such things because you are afraid of what others may think, and that is important when it comes to social media. You don’t have to share your battles on Facebook, but if you want to then go ahead and do it because the more support you have around you, the better.

Be strong. Be brave.  Always.


With a lot happening  for me at the moment it has been a while since I have had a chance to write a blog post, but I have had the chance to write this poem relating mainly to my recovery from anorexia. However, it is also relevant to other challenges I’ve faced hence the diversity of the wording. Also, I tried to end it on a positive note because let’s be honest, we all need hope in our lives!




You took away my freedom

You took away my pride

You made me feel great fear

Changed who I was inside


You took away my strength

You took away the pounds

You made me scream inside

Though I didn’t make a sound


You took away my happiness

You took my face that wore a smile

You made me into someone else

Changed me for a long long while


You tried to take my life

You tried to take my home

You did me so much damage

Yet now I know I’m not alone


I have my family and friends

I have them standing right here for me

You might have won a battle

Though I’m winning the war, you see


You are filled with nasty lies and hurt

A mere Devil in disguise

So I’ll tear you down forevermore

And once again I’ll rise!


Feedback is welcome.


Em x