Friday, 22 September 2017


I managed to get a seat on a busy train, this morning, in between two men spreading out. Manspreading, if you like that term. (I do)

I had my rucksack on my lap and my legs pressed tightly together.
I wanted to spread out, to show that they are not entitled to my space.
That maybe I was actually entitled to theirs as well as my own.
I couldn't do it. Even if my feeble lady legs were strong enough to push the manly legs away, I wouldn't have.

Fellow women or AFAB people, can you imagine the feeling of being so entitled to the space around you.
I can't, and the thought makes me feel uneasy.

The men I was sat between probably didn't realise they were doing it. I don't think they were doing it to oppress me, it just shows how we raise our boys and girls.
Girls must make space for boys. Boys get the space because they are big and strong.

I also assume they have to spread to accommodate their massive penises.


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Early Intervention Saves Lives

As you may know, the theme of this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week is ‘Early Intervention’. I am now fully recovered from anorexia nervosa but I had to go through a lot to get to where I am now. I wanted to take some time to share a couple of my experiences of asking for help and the responses I received.

The first time I asked for help was when I was at sixth form. I told my mum that I was struggling and she came with me to my GP. The doctor weighed me and my BMI was 'healthy'. I don't remember much about what was said during that conversation, but I know that I wasn't poorly enough for real help. I remember that he asked me if I thought I was overweight. I knew I wasn't overweight. I knew my BMI was at the lower end of healthy weights, so I had no idea how to answer this. I now know that he wanted to find out about my body image, but I didn't understand and he didn't get a picture of how unhappy I was. I was referred to a counsellor who was based in my GP surgery, had no idea how to support me as someone with eating difficulties and made me feel worse. I only saw her a few times. I just stopped going and had no follow up.

I moved to Leeds when I was 18 to start professional dance training. During my time there I started to get worried about my eating behaviours again. I went to my GP, thinking I could nip it in the bud. The doctor I saw told me that because I was a healthy weight "nobody would take [me] seriously"

Nobody would take me seriously.

I eventually became too unwell to participate in the classes, which then led to me needing to go back home.

I was referred to the eating disorder service and, later, admitted to hospital. By this point I was really poorly and it took a long time to get to anything resembling recovery.

It makes zero sense to turn people away who are asking for help because they aren't ill enough.

The criteria used to determine poorly-ness is so limited as well. Thinnest does not equal sickest, but professionals still use this to determine who deserves treatment. That is how it feels. When I was turned away from appropriate support, it fed into everything my eating disorder was making me believe. I wasn't thin enough, I wasn't good enough, I didn't deserve help and support.

Maybe if I'd been able to access support and treatment early on, I wouldn't have become as unwell as I did. Maybe it would have been a quicker recovery.

I am grateful for my own experiences. I met my late best friend through eating disorder treatment and many other amazing people through her. Without my experiences, I wouldn't be as passionate about mental health care or be able to support others in the way that I can.

I am lucky that I am able to look back at my experiences and know that maybe 'everything happens for a reason'. However, eating disorders have a huge mortality rate. Not everyone recovers.

'Right now, we are letting people with eating disorders down. They are turned away by the health system, told they aren’t ‘ill’ enough for treatment and are confused about where to turn. This can’t continue.'

Have you ever heard of anyone finding out that they have cancer at an early stage, but were told to come back once the cancer has spread, treatment becoming much more difficult, and their chances of surviving are much lower?

This is the exact experience of so many people with eating disorders.

The evidence is so clear: early intervention is key to a quicker, sustained and full recovery.

Early intervention saves lives.

Waiting for someone to get 'sick enough' costs lives. People are dying and it's not fair. Individuals living with an eating disorder can recover. These deaths are preventable.

The importance of early intervention, and the devastating impact eating disorders have, needs to be recognised.

Monday, 23 January 2017


We are currently approaching Time to Talk Day, which is held on the 2nd February.
The theme this year is 'conversations change lives'
With this in mind, I'd like to share why I believe it is so important to have honest conversations about mental health.

It is something that affects us all. We all have mental health needs. We don't all realise this, though. Some people still really struggle to discuss mental health difficulties openly. Maybe this is out of fear that they'll say the wrong thing and offend someone or maybe there are fears around being judged and appearing vulnerable.

I have learnt, over time, how to have these conversations; being open about my experiences, and encouraging others to be open about theirs. We can't always get it right all the time. We will make mistakes when we have these conversations, especially when we first start. Someone is bound to get upset at some point, but it is important to learn from these moments and keep trying!

Anyway, back to the point!

I started working as a mental health support and recovery worker just under 12 months ago. I was open about my own mental health from the start, which I will never regret. I am lucky that I work in an office with an open and supportive culture around mental health, I understand that not everyone has the same positive experience. Being able to discuss my mental health in the same way as I would discuss my physical health has been really helpful in getting my mental health needs met, and being supported at work. I know that the growth in my ability to talk openly about my mental health has led to a greater awareness of my own, and others, struggles and resilience. I am also really glad that I have seen my colleagues discussing their mental health, and witnessed some beautiful, compassionate conversations.

I love talking about mental health with people who don't normally get a chance to. It's good to be able to remind people that whether you have a diagnosis of a mental health difficulty, or not, you still have to look after your mental and emotional health. We all have our breaking points. Not talking about it is sure to make your breaking point arrive sooner. Tell someone that you're feeling stressed out, anxious, exhausted, sad, overwhelmed... It is not a sign of weakness. There is a certain beautiful kind of strength in recognising when we feel not so good and asking for some help.

That being said, the onus shouldn't be placed solely on the individuals needing support. Everyone has a responsibility to contribute towards a culture of acceptance and compassion around mental illness. This could be making a decision to stop using negative or stigmatising language. This may be deciding to challenge unkind comments when you hear them. It may be as simple as asking a friend or colleague 'how are you?', waiting to hear their answer and being there if they need it.

 time to talk