I've vaguely mentioned my struggles with anorexia and of course my Youtube is linked, however thus far I haven't spoken about it here.
This particular post isn't about my previous or current struggles although I will talk about them later on.
Over recent weeks I've been working closely with a journalist. Elsewhere online I've mentioned her name and the company but after learning that some representatives of eating disorder charities were hassling her*, they're details I won't mention again.
After speaking openly online for years, documenting various relapses and times spent in treatment being given the opportunity to talk on a much wider platform than my blog was nerve wracking but amazing.
For a long time I've felt that if I had had someone I could relate to, someone my age, someone honest and open I may have been more successful in my previous attempts at recovery. Eating disorders are still such a taboo subject, portrayed in such a black and white sense or else completely disregarded that I felt that being given the chance to speak openly about the murky grey reality of life with an eating disorder could potentially help so many people.
The first publication to pick up my story were Closer UK. I've written about it here and spoken on YouTube here and here . In honesty it was a nightmare of facts and quotes ripped apart to portray the image of me that fitted the story of "I'm pregnant but I'm still starving myself.. Anorexia is about vanity.. I don't care enough to stop".
From there I had two choices, take my story to other publications and hope for a fairer portrayal and a story that could potentially help someone or pull out and hide.
I opted for the first.
I was interviewed for a magazine that is yet to be published, filmed a short documentary that will air on German and Swiss TV and started forming plans to appear on UK breakfast TV shows.
Yesterday a much fairer (yet of course still not completely full - it's impossible to include everything in just under 2000 words) version of my story was published on the Mail Online
By midnight last night a google name search of my name looked like this
Today it was also published in three national newspapers.
I was completely blown away at how fast it spread and how many different media sources picked it up.
Within hours I was contacted by more magazines and this morning I spoke briefly on BBC London radio breakfast show.
And this time it seems positive.
This time, not only are the articles fair but they have my blogs and YouTube linked. People have watched my videos and read my blogs and aside from messages of support which I truly value, I've had people discussing changes of opinion. I've read comments from people speaking of their own struggles, speaking up against the misinformed or ignorant comments and most importantly comments and messages saying that these articles and this insight is helpful.
I've had a few people question my motives. Money? Attention?
Both are fair, especially given the amount of people I've spoken to thus far and our plans to continue.
But I'll say it here for the last time.
Anorexia ravaged my life. It ravaged my mind, body and soul. Destroyed relationships and opportunities and put my family through hell. No matter the progress I've made I'm still struggling and still fighting. And even if/when I reach the stage of full psychological recovery my body will bare the physical side effects for the rest of my life.
And looking back, if at fourteen when I first relapsed I had had access to an open, honest story like mine has become things could have been so different. If I hadn't been so torn between the stick thin glamour of the media and the stark horror stories relayed to me in treatment I might have understood what my life would become.
And then I think about mothers or mums to be in this situation. The judgement and stigma I've faced and I fear for them. I was so lucky to have such amazing support from my family while I was pregnant with Dylan and access to intensive treatment for my anorexia. The majority of women aren't so lucky. That support and treatment helped me see that mental illness does not make you a bad parent and gave me the resources to stand up to anyone who told me otherwise.
Fear of judgement stops people getting help. Fear of having your child taken away from you or being branded as selfish or a bad mother.
I wanted to show that you can get help, that you don't have to be afraid and that you can have happy, healthy children despite battling with an eating disorder. I wanted to show that it's possible.
But I wanted to be honest about the dangers that the long term effects of anorexia have on your body.
I didn't do this for money or attention, I did it to hopefully help people understand and become aware of an issue.
To hopefully change some people's minds and get rid of a tiny bit of ignorance and judgement.
To remind people that they aren't alone and they don't have to be afraid.
To show that being thin isn't as it seems in the media.
*to clarify, I'm genuinely really unhappy with the situation. Having not contacted me at all, making assumptions that I was being exploited by having my story published completely disregards my ability to make rational and well considered choices.
I'm particularly upset as this particular charity is one I've encouraged publications to link to as a means for people to find professional support and a charity I have very much hoped to be able to work with for a long time now.
I haven't been pushed or manipulated, I talked openly on my blogs and YouTube about these exact same subjects long before I was contacted by the press. This is a choice I am making for myself.