Hunger and Desire: Reclaiming Queer Women’s Appetites Through the Female Gaze

Food is fuel, wouldn’t it be easy if it was that simple? Feeding ourselves is probably the most basic bodily function and still, we manage to complicate it, weaponise it as a means to cope with sexual burgeoning,  numb guilt, self-soothe, and even as a substitute for sex. The idea that women need to have self-control to be worthy is one that feeds into the narrative of a woman’s appearance being her most important. A woman’s presence in film, equal to that of food-as an aesthetically pleasing prop-for the pleasure of men. So, to see women indulging in gluttony counteracts the fetishised anecdotes that queer women exist for a straight man’s erotic consumption.

It’s tempting then, to shun Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013), because of it’s exploitive male-gazey sex-scene, but before you do, consider the moments of the film that are there to be cherished for us, it’s LGBTQ viewers. Blue provides nourishment in the generous helpings of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) eating; heedlessly and hungrily, she eats without restraint, with the type of vigour usually reserved for the likes of male characters to showcase their virility. So, seeing a queer girl, twist forkfuls of spaghetti into her mouth, lick the knife clean and lean back with a smile of satiated contentment, feels like a triumph.

Food is the heart of this romance: bulging at the seams with spaghetti, gyros, oysters, and meat. The politics of food and sex intangible to the plot, Adèle meets out and proud art student, Emma (Léa Seydoux), who acts as her sexual awakening. We watch as fifteen-year-old Adèle struggles to digest her sexuality; stuffing a whole chocolate bar in her mouth, almost choking, she sobs, an idle attempt to fill the deep pangs of her hunger, a moment that felt almost too close to home.

The Favourite (2018). Queen Anne, dressed in a puffy black and white dress and pearls, reclines on a chair in her ornate bedroom.
The Favourite (2018, Fox Searchlight)

Adele’s guilt fuelled gorge mimics Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) in The Favourite, we watch her stick her bulging fingers into pastel blue birthday cake, while she alternates between mouthfuls of cake and vomiting. It borders on being vulgar but stops before we can have a chance to look away, a reflection of ourselves in her vulnerability. Eating and sex are both ritualistic activities, it’s interesting then that when guilt is also present, we prefer to perform these activities alone, or rather, in secret. The shame in the aftermath of a sugar-binge, or realising homoerotic desires, seeing these moments on screen provides comfort to this discomfort.

“I am not food you cannot just eat and eat”, says Sarah (Rachel Weisz) to Queen Anne. The idea that the female body is interchangeable with food, doesn’t feel like the usual male objectification, which shows that this problem can be resolved by shifting the gaze ever so slightly, into that of pure female desire, by reclaiming what was made inherently derogatory and championing queer women’s appetites, without shame.

There is something radical nestled in the folds of Villanelle’s (Jodie Comer) consumption; eating for pure pleasure instead of basic sustenance feels almost daring. Killing Eve’s antagonist is likened to the “Hungry Caterpillar” in the show. Queer femme fatale Villanelle admits she eats because she’s bored, so bored in fact, that the only time she’s not bored is when she’s with Eve (Sandra Oh). It’s taken three seasons to get a measly kiss, to the dismay of all us touch-starved queers on the internet, but isn’t that just the most sapphic thing ever: nothing but intense staring; thoughtful gestures and a long waltz of emotional seduction and connection?

Killing Eve Season 1 (2018). Villanelle in rural Italy, wearing a pale blue blouse that ties around the neck, shovels bruschetta into her mouth.
Killing Eve (2018, BBC)

The women wildly consume food in place of each other, Villanelle zealously swallowing every; noodle, spoonful, slice and squeeze, eyes rolling back in her head, a euphoric “mmm” escaping her. The sexual tension culminated from watching them taste; Eve licks her lips and moans with pleasure in between carnivorous bites of greasy-fried chicken, Villanelle throws her head back in ecstasy biting into focaccia, dripping with sun-ripened tomato onto her baby blue blouse. Villanelle leaves Eve a half-eaten apple; after all, it was Eve who took the first bite of the forbidden fruit. From the start, food has always been inextricable from desire. Their innermost desires are hinted through food, since their first meeting; a dinner date consisting of microwaved shepherds pie, that Villanelle will later ask Eve’s husband for the recipe, a heartfelt attempt for her affection. They consume each other with the same, unapologetic gusto in which, Villanelle crams her overflowing mouth with ribbons of saucy pasta and Eve shovels bon-bons, cola bottles and sour snakes into her mouth, a sweet-tooth she cannot satisfy.

In The Handmaiden, albeit directed by a man (Park Chan-wook), we find a film dedicated to disarming the romantic illusions of the male gaze, exposing it as a malevolent force of objectification and exploitation of women. We see the pervasive con man Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo), who plans to set up both women Hideko (Kim Min-hee) and her handmaiden Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) The enjoyment the women have in food and each other is achieved only in the absence of men, Hideko neatly nibbles on a singular grain of rice. Contrast this with a later scene of Sook-hee alone, in an all-female institution, free of expectations, waiting for her lover Hideko to come and rescue her. She appears serene and wild; her sleeves rolled up, blithely chomping on onigiri, she notices a bug in the center and laughs manically but tucks in anyway, ending with a close up of rice on her face, the disgusting marker of a delicious meal.

The Handmaiden (2016). Hideko is taking a bath in a large wooden tub, holding a lollipop as her maid Sook-hee sprinkles flower petals into the water.
The Handmaiden (2016, Amazon Studios)

The Handmaiden focuses on the sensory experience of eating; enthused sucking of a sticky lollipop; a bite of a soft-fleshy peach, it revels in the homologous sexuality of these foods. Peaches have made quite a name for themselves in recent queer cinema – thank you, Timothée Chalamet – yet in The Handmaiden, the peach holds an amalgamation of meaning. First, as a passive object of beauty to be painted by Hideko, which is transformed into an object of erotic consumption; eaten by Fujiwara – who plans to use the women for his own financial gain – ultimately it is his greed, that is his downfall. The women outsmart him and live gaily ever after and Sook-hee’s description of Hideko mimics that of a peach: “It’s so soft and wet!” The peach as a proxy for female sexuality and how it can be explored and enjoyed when it is freed of the male gaze-confirmation that peaches are the gayest fruit.

Certain foods have a suggestiveness, fruits with a teasing resemblance to sexual organs and acts, in Janelle Monáe’s music video for “PYNK” we see a frothing milkshake bubbling over and a finger thrust through a frosted pink donut. The artist Stephanie Sarley pushes prying fingers into the lush flesh of a halved grapefruit, juice gushes out, a celebration of non-phallic sexuality. Reminding of a scene in the film Duck Butter; Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa) sprawled out, engaged in chatter, their gazes concentrated on the intricate task of eating a mango. Scoring the soft flesh into squares, sucking the juice as it drips down onto their stained sticky chins. Naima dangles the flesh out of her mouth into Sergio’s receiving lips, it doesn’t feel overly erotic but sweet and tender. Often queer love scenes are burdened with the struggle and torment of gay characters; in contrast, Duck Butter is a fun celebration of two women savouring each other.

It’s important to mention LGBTQ films that nourish the soul through the act of one cooking and feeding another. In Portrait of Lady on Fire, we watch Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) and Marianne’s (Noémie Merlant) forbidden love for each other burn, slowly and quietly at first, in glances and words and then all at once, with the ferocity of a forest fire. Food adds another dimension to their relationship; a utopia of suspended time, accompanied by the maid Sophie (Luàna Bajrami) the three of them act as a familial unit, something Héloïse and Marianne will never experience due to circumstance of the time.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019). Left to right, Heloise, Marianne, and Sophie are at the long wooden dining table in front of the lit fireplace, wearing 18th century dresses. Heloise drinks a glass of wine whilst peeling vegetables, Marianne sits and watches her, which Sophie is occupied with needlework.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019, Lilies Films)

In the rural and windswept French island where Portrait takes place, it is in the sanctuary of domestic space that their relationship grows. Héloïse and Marianne, both busied with tasks, one chopping, and the other pouring wine, Héloïse takes a sip of the wine Marianne has poured her and the two exchange a knowing smile, these personal moments, in the company of others, between two lovers are perhaps the most intimate. Another time, three places are set at the table but only Marianne and Sophie are present, Marianne looks agitated asking after Héloïse. It’s such a simple declaration of her love for Héloïse, to miss her presence at the dinner table, sweetly reminiscent of Call Me by Your Name, Elio’s (Timothée Chalamet) childish reaction is to insult Oliver (Armie Hammer) when he doesn’t show up for dinner, how innocent it is to be angry at the notion of simply missing someone.

Todd Hayne’s lingering love story Carol embodies the erotic power of less is more, focusing on these moments of contact or restraint, watching and being watched. In both Portrait and Carol, there’s one conversation going on with words and another, completely different one happening between the lovers’ eyes. Carol (Cate Blanchett) takes Therese (Rooney Mara) out for a lunch of creamed spinach and poached eggs to say thank you; sapphic to its very core. They yearn, in between sips of martini and intense stares, there’s a tension between freedom and restriction, both wanting, liberated by their desire and constrained by their environment. Therese is timid but empowered, we see it in the way she innocently orders the same thing as Carol, trusting her decision over her own. In Therese’s naivety and Carol’s experience, neither one fits neatly as prey or predator, but both actively consume each other with equal thirst.

Along with the rest of its complexities; food stirs up sentimentalism, we aren’t just watching them eat, we’re remembering, unlocking memories of our own, an orange segment shared in a lazy summer or a meal eaten in a little Italian, as the staff packed away chairs around you, of past love.

HAIM are back to make you dance, not text back and sob in front of the mirror.

Women in Music PT. III has been a long 3 years coming, now it’s finally at our fingertips, to abuse by listening on a constant loop, until I physically can’t listen any longer.

It’s later than expected but with a global pandemic and worldwide protests against anti-black police brutality, demanding justice for the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah Mcclain, Ahmed Aubrey- and so many more, the Haim sisters couldn’t fathom putting the album out in May.

In an interview with Vulture the band said “We’ve been educating ourselves, calling politicians, donating, fundraising through our networks, protesting and urging our fans to do the same.”

During a time that feels erratic and anxious, WIMPIII offers a sixteen track break to rose-tinted California- moving through era’s anywhere from the 70’s west coast to the electronic pop of 2020.

Haim are synonymous with breezy summer records, and even if that summer will be spent inside and alone, the songs demand to be screamed and the lyrics give a sense of solidarity.

This album offers as a celebration and a reminder of those times; in a crowded bar with friends, taking a breathe of air outside while it’s still light outside, the hum of conversation and life bubbling from inside. 

The album Women in Music Pt. III, or the playful ‘wimpeeeee’ for fun- a title that forces you to laugh but lets you know, the Haim sisters won’t take any of the industries bullshit double-standards.

In an interview Alana Haim, said they were always being asked by men in that condescending tone about  ‘being women in music?’, commenting on this she said “it seemed cool to make it our own and control the narrative.”

The opening song, Los Angeles, an airy ode to their hometown, conjures images of a sun-bleached-A24 film with shots of peach sunsets on the boulevard. It’s about realising the harsh truths of a beloved hometown, But it was not my home//I felt more alone’, Danielle sings bluntly over Ska melodies, the Lala Land of songs. It speaks to the restlessness of wanting so badly to get away from the place you grew up. Like Greta Gerwig’s film LadyBird, feeling claustrophobic and wanting more than the streets you see everyday, compared to the ache of nostalgia once you’ve left.

The steps is classic Haim, a sparky-sing-along lathered in smooth bass-lines and heavy riffs giving a throw-back fusion of country pop and alternative sounds, Danielle speaks the lines ‘

This album is Haim at their most authentic, it’s cathartic, made for their own pleasure and sanity more than anything else, making it their most lyrically direct album. Written out of a shared depression amongst the sisters, Danielle was spiralling when her therapist told her to write again.

A lot of the songs feel like heartbreak songs, that don’t necessarily correlate to romantic love. Now I’m in it- a pulsating song for girls who dance alone in their room while sobbing in front of the mirror.

They normalise vulnerability and being a messy twenty-something, simultaneously going thruuuu it and remaining unbothered. All That Ever Mattered, galumphs into a maelstrom of drums, purging screams and insane guitar solos.

The album dips into stripped back acoustics in ‘Hallelujah’,  layered with twinkling harmonies, a love letter to their sisters.

It’s through their music that they help each other and fans, to notice the light in dark times, whether its turning misogynist comments into a jokey title or their heaviest songs being the most upbeat.

Haim do sad bops better than anyone, pop music a temporary antidote to grief, it’s almost impossible not to dance while ‘I’ve Been Down’ is playing. There’s something therapeutic about belting out the words ‘I’VE BEEN DOWN!’, with tears in your eyes and throwing your limbs around.

‘I Know Alone’ a synthy-garage-band-anthem about struggling with depression. Singing of that strange comfort we can feel towards our mental illness.

Of course it wouldn’t be Haim, if there wasn’t a wry millennial one-liner about TIKTOK snuck into the lyrics. And what else did you expect for the music video to a song about depression other than them dancing TIKTOK style in their back garden?

In gasoline we get a sexier side of Haim, hook-ups in cars, on kitchen counters, it’s smooth and sultry with nonchalant lyrics, ‘You needed ass, well, what’s // Wrong with that?’ Ok, do we all remember where we were the first time we heard Haim say ‘you needed ass?’

In Man from the Magazine, there’s a punk edge, Danielle snarls the linesYou don’t know how it feels//To be the cunt”, before this, the word cunt belonged exclusively to Amy Dunne in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, who bites “I’m the cunt you married!” after her husband calls her one. Danielle reclaims the word in true cool girl style, in an interview with Fader, Danielle said “It’s speaking to my experience of being called a cunt to my face when sticking up for myself.”

pic from @not_capri

Feminism is women saying the word cunt.

WIMPIII is every bit human, a walking-contradiction, born out of some of the bands darkest times, came their most honest and emotionally resonate songs.

It makes sense then, that Summer girl, the first single released is the last track on the album. It twinkles like the younger-buoyant sister to Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side‘, leaving us with it’s warm ubiquitous fuzziness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Robert Pattinson’s world and we’re just living in it.

Your eyeballs are burning, images of Timothée Chalamet’s bare pancake butt, boner and creepy goatee are searing into your mind. His breathless body slumped over a poolside, if I could guess at what he’s saying it’s “d-d-did you cum?”, and Eiza González’s all-to familiar uncomfortable smile says it all.

Allow me to pass you a bucket of ice-cold water to stop the burn, a tall drink of the original-unproblematic-white-boy-of-the-month, Robert Pattinson.

As my friend Jaz put it ‘Timothée Chalamet is for fun. Robert Pattinson is forever.’

While twitter has been shamelessly thirsting over Paul Mescals thighs, it seems you have all forgotten who paved the way for these boys, the man, the myth, the legend: Cedric Diggory himself.

A lot of people forget about Rob, they dismiss him as ‘The pale one from Twilight’, but I, an intellectual, appreciate his disheveled-hasn’t-had-a-wash-since-Wednesday vibe.

If Timothée and Harry Styles shagging on yachts are the epitome of celebrity, then R Patz is the anti-celebrity, if you will.

He’s got the most chaotic-neutral energy I’ve ever seen, enough to have its own twitter account called “Rob doing things.”

To put it in perspective, the only other celeb whose equally as unpredictable antics have generated themselves an account like this, is Lady Gaga.

Yes, he might be a great actor but the thing that interests me, is the way he seems to parodying the press in every interview he does. He doesn’t take himself seriously but he’s very serious about acting.

He’s got the kind of energy that Jennifer Lawrence thinks she has, but for Rob it’s natural, he’s a weirdo and we love it.

*Janice Ian voice from Mean girls* How do I even begin to explain Robert Pattinson?

Robert Pattinson exudes a kind of nonchalant-chaotic energy. He’s the type of  lad you would ask for a lighter in the smoking area, he would say “no” but immediately add “Joking” and spend the rest of the night telling you a story that’s clearly bullshit and offers you a babybel from his flannel shirt pocket.

There’s an abundance of press videos on YouTube from the Twilight era, all of which  involve Pattinson admitting that he had never actually seen the films and says “[Twilight] was like a book that wasn’t meant to be published.”

The interviews are like he’s bitching to the interviewer about how much he hates his job while simultaneously trying to promote his job?

Everything about them from his posh-boy-accent to the word vomit of hatred aimed at Twilight, is truly a treat to watch.

He reminds me of every creative writing teacher I’ve ever had, so much quirkiness rolled into one human.

It’s a combination of the stream-of-consciousness-ramblings in interviews, mixed with a slight awkwardness that echo the eccentric-buffy-obsessed-plait-down-to-their-bum teachers whose lessons felt like they were speaking out loud, not realising there’s a class full of students in front of them.

To add to the extremely long list of incidents that make us question ‘Is Robert Pattinson okay?’, I give you four words: New York Hot Dog.

If you haven’t seen it already, welcome to the inside of my brain.

In the video his voice sounds erratic and Gollum-like, he spots a man with a hotdog on the streets below, and becomes obsessed, he wants one!

For mission Hot Dog  he changes into a classic Joe Goldberg disguise- bomber jacket and navy cap.

The streets are busy, the camera angles unstable, “How did this happen to me?” he mutters while crouching on the floor. The claustrophobic chaos of the city juxtaposed with the simple desire for a hot dog seems silly at first, but isn’t that just a summation of being a celebrity?

We know he takes his art seriously, via the films he’s involved with including Good Time, High Life, The Lighthouse, etc but it seems to me that when it comes to being Robert Pattinson the celebrity, he cares very little.

The last lines of the video are “I knew I was just a normal human being. You can call me Rob. I eat Hotdogs!” A statement that sums up everything you need to know about triple Taurus-Robert Pattinson.

If there was ever a Batman that ate hotdogs it would be Robert Pattinson.

 

There’s been a buzz online about the absurdity of his most recent GQ interview. During which he shot his own photos on his iPhone- what could go wrong? You might ask? Frankly, a lot.

robert-pattinson-gq-cover-june-july-2020-01robert-pattinson-gq-cover-june-july-2020-05EX0wEbUWkAYrhr3EX1vsZxU8AEpmXC

There’s so much to unpack.

Why is there a box of special k in the pictures? How many scarfs can he fit on his body? The bottle of Stella, the fact he choose the underdog of all the sauces to feature in the shot, the flip-flop and suit combo.

It really is Robert Pattinson’s world and we’re just living in it.

The rest of the interview he generally just chats shit and makes a pasta dish he made up called ‘Piccolini Cuscino’ aka twelve cheese slices, pasta, sugar and a special k crust. *Chef’s kiss!*

God, why is there something so attractive about this anarchy?

Lucky for us this has lead to a new genre of interviews, I have chosen to call : Wholesome-chaotic-existential-dread.

Each one feels like satire on Celebrity. We’re living in a time were the most popular youtube videos are celebrity ‘What I eat in a day’ that perpetuate the idea of ‘if you eat what I eat you can look just like me’- even though I have a personal trainer, nutritionist, and plastic surgeon!

In the GQ interview when he’s asked what he’s doing in preparation for his role as Batman he replied “just barely doing anything”, I laughed, or aggressively exhaled through my nostrils thinking how glad I am that this is our new Batman.

Quarantine for known loner Robert Pattinson looks like ignoring his ‘Batman’ trainer, dressing up as a superhero named ‘Tie-Man’ and eating tuna out the can.

He’s the kind of superhero the world needs right now. In a time when we all feel hopeless and unproductive, it’s nice to know that even Batman isn’t putting pressure on himself.

 

rpatz.jpeg

 

He comments on this pressure in the interview saying “I think if [actors] work out all the time, they’re part of the problem. They set a precedent. No one was doing this in the ’70s. James Dean wasn’t exactly ripped.”

It feels like in every interview Pattinson is the director, and neither the interviewer or the audience can tell if he’s fucking with us or not.

He’s directing a parody about our strange obsession with celebrities by forcing us to watch him cook pasta in the microwave before setting it on fire, accidentally, I think? It’s endearing, it’s messy, we can’t turn away.

 

 

 

The Lighthouse, the perfect film for quarantine.

I was pleasantly surprised-although pleasant is not the right word for this film- at how much I enjoyed Robert Egger’s latest horror The Lighthouse.

Going into it I thought it would be another in the long list of films about male repression and it is… but I loved it!

After i got over my initial doubts; Robert Pattinson’s character looks like one of the Mario bros in those dungarees; what accent is he supposed to have?

I sank into the maelstrom that is The Lighthouse and let it’s strangeness sweep me up.

I watched it last night and as it started there was an actual thunder storm- thank you British summer time for the free mood lightning.

And as Thomas Wake (Dafoe’s character) goes into a dark monologue about tempests and Titans, thunder clapped right outside my window. 10/10 Imax viewing experience.

DaFoe plays an old mad dog sailor, Thomas Wake, who’s character comes off as a caricature, his batty eyes wide while he croaks sea shanties and a pipe glued to his mouth. Pattinson on the other hand plays Ephraim Winslow, a hard working young lad who’s wound up too tightly for Wake’s liking. Winslow arrives on the island to serve as Wake’s new lap dog- tensions quickly rise, being overworked and gaslit Ephraim enquires along the lines of ‘what did your last slave die of?’ And die, he did! An answer Ephraim Winslow would’ve been better of not knowing.

Setting the mood for the rest of the film, this talk of madness hangs over the audience and Ephraim like a thick fog. His decay into insanity is so subtle you’ll miss it from laughing at another one of Wake’s farts.

It really is a horror that gets into your head, we feel the repulsion and rage of Ephraim bubbling to the surface like the waves that engulf the 35mm square frame.

Egger’s film is heavy with superstition, relying on the fact that deep down even people who say they don’t believe secretly fear the fables. Sailors are known for spinning tall tales, spilling pints of ale and we brush it off because ‘they’re drunken idiots.’ But here is a folk tale about someone telling these myths and what happens if even subconsciously, you believe.

Early on Wake says “Boredom makes men to villains”, which I can attest to- during lockdown my boredom has led to an unhealthy obsession with TIKTOK, an app I can only describe as villainous. Alas this line of dialogue sits at the corrupt core of the film, leaving us to question which of the two men is the bad guy?

More than anything, it’s a film about the power of the mind; how quickly and easily one can go from being somewhat sane-like Ephraim in the beginning- refusing alcohol to “keep a clear head.” To full blown psychosis leading him to miss the rescue who came to take them away from the island and not knowing how long he has even been there.

It’s a story of how we need human contact to survive. But what happens when you can’t trust that one person? Or if that other person even exists? Is there, after all only one Thomas? Is this fight club all over again?

It’s a great film to watch during lockdown- Dafoe and Pattinson isolating together, arguing over housework and rationing the alcohol- both cute and relatable!

The men drink themselves into oblivion because it’s the only way they know how to connect with each other. They drink, they fight, beat their chests like the macho men they are, they dance which almost leads to them sharing a kiss.

It’s very Call me by your name, if it was set in 1800’s New England, the passive aggressive-yearning, two-bros-chilling-in-a-lighthouse- five-feet-apart-because-they’re-not…

Ephraim actually says “Can you call me by my name!” when he drunkenly confesses his real name is in fact, also Thomas. So take from that awful parallel what you will, this is just how my brain works and I won’t apologise for it.

The lighthouse is a shit mix of isolation, lies, identity, wanting, myths and secrets.

Every grainy-black and white image stays with you, the shots replicating the nightmarish films of early expressionist horror. Each fart and repulsed facial expression exposes Emphraim’s repression that’s slowly rising to the surface.

The film defies a simple explanation. Its filthily gorgeous, from the phallic imagery embedded into it, to the constant crashing of waves showing the aggressiveness of male frustration.

We are left with the final image- resembling the fate of Greek god Prometheus- Ephraim cracked open on the rocks, his organs being pecked out by seagulls. Delicious!

How my David Lynch obsession helped my anxiety.

I’ll bet the first to admit, that my reasons for starting to mediate, some might say are a tad “shallow” and slightly “culty”, ok! I own up to that! Don’t come for me!

I accidentally stumbled down the rabbit hole of enlightenment if you will, as a very anxious twenty-year-old. I could barely leave the house without a panic attack and whenever I was in public my mind would race with thoughts, ‘everyone’s staring at me’, ‘I’m walking weird’, ‘I’m going to trip over’, ‘they’re talking about me’, etc.

I’d be so in my head that I wouldn’t even remember getting home from Uni, being so anxious you feel like you’re sleep walking through life, I can confirm is not a vibe. I would fall asleep with my heart beating so fast you’d think I was in the queue for a ride at Alton Towers, not in the comfort of my own bed.

A lot of the advice I was reading was; ‘be mindful’, ‘go for a walk’, but what does that even mean? ‘Mindful?’. That’s exactly what I was trying to cure? My mind was already too full. The thought of going on a walk, alone with my own thoughts was just another panic attack waiting to happen. So it was in my search for a podcast to get me through my nervous-hunched-over-speed-walk, that I stumbled upon my saving grace; David Lynch.

Like every other teenager who wore Dr Martens when they were the opposite of what the cool girls wore and got called a goth by chavs on the way to school, I was obsessed with Twin Peaks. Lynch’s films nursed me through the cesspool of teen angst and in the fear of sounding like a filmbro, he’s still one of my favourite artists.

So in this weird cultural crossover, I find this Podcast episode from Russel Brand interviewing David Lynch and my minds blown…

Ten minutes of the podcast go by, which mainly involves being serenaded with big words by Russel Brand, I’m not complaining. Then David starts to talk about something called transcendental meditation. I’m such a fan that he could be promoting and Eraser head baby-scented candle and I’d be invested. Unfortunately, he doesn’t. He speaks about the benefits of meditating after doing it for 46 years. FORTY SIX YEARS? That’s over twice my life? There was me thinking if I did one headspace-three-minute-meditation I could cure my anxiety. He said that after two weeks of meditating,  his first wife asked him where all his anger went? To which he replied ‘it lifted automatically.’ So, I guess it was going to take more than three minutes for me to see any benefits.

On the bight side, two weeks didn’t sound too daunting. Two weeks is doable. Easy. I’ll be making films as good as Mullholland drive in the time it took me to binge watch Desperate Housewives.

Turns out, it is HARD. Who’d have thought reprogramming a life time of negative chain reactions in my mind would be so difficult? At first, I wanted to give up, I would sit there thinking about that meme of Paul Rudd, wondering if I should cut in some bangs, or my arse would go numb. It felt impossible. I’d accidentally open my eyes, get pissed off at my myself, then my mum would walk in and ask what the fuck I’m doing.

For the first few weeks it felt a lot like I was wasting my time, sitting in my room angry and frustrated trying to get the song despacito out of my head.  But, I made a promise to myself to try, and most of all I couldn’t let David Lynch down.

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I would dread it everyday, but over time it became slightly easier. I’d wake up and really want to go straight downstairs, make some coffee and scroll through Instagram but I didn’t. Instead I forced myself to sit up in bed, set a timer for twenty minutes, meditate and then, I would go downstairs drink coffee and scroll through Instagram.

I’ve been doing it solidly for a year now and by no means am I anywhere near Yoko Ono level of zen but I’m no longer crippled with anxiety. I feel more able to deal with the shit that used to stress me out and make me want to curl up in a ball and wait for it to go away.

That’s the thing about being mindful, it’s a basic level of self care. Instagram might tell you that a twenty quid face mask is self care. But when you can’t afford your rent because you bought some trainers, that you have to lie to your mum about the price of, that’s not self care henny.

Self-care is hard graft, it’s like what you think Uni will be like vs what it actually is. You think it’ll be living with best friends, parties, and come dine with me nights in. Instead it’s acne, breakdowns and questionable sleeping habits. It was a harsh realisation that if I actually wanted things to change I had to grow some balls and hold myself accountable. Pay that bill, apply for that job, write that story and please, just make your fucking bed woman!

Doing work on yourself is uncomfortable but it’s 2020 and we aren’t avoiding the harsh facts anymore. Like the fact you’re ALWAYS late and no, it’s not a fun personality trait. Putting the work in little and often to avoid the mental breakdown during deadlines is something you will thank yourself for. Think of it like brushing your teeth, you do it everyday, even though we can all admit it’s boring and sometimes we contemplate skipping it? But you do it now, so in forty years you’ve actually got teeth to brush, and you don’t have to stick them in a pot next to your bed.

Meditation isn’t just for spiritual people. It’s not just for hippy-dippy-woo-woo people who eat chickpeas and burn incense; it’s for ordinary people, like me and you, even you’re slightly-racist-football-hooligan Uncle Bob, in fact, especially your slightly-racist-football-hooligan Uncle Bob. Contrary to every portrayal of mediation in the media, it doesn’t actually involve a group of people all holding hands and wearing white, or snogging a crystal and chanting while you hover above the ground.

It can be as simple as just noticing your breathe, taking a few moments to be present, look at what’s around you, feel your hands by your side, your feet on the ground. You’d be surprised how much time you spend in your head throughout the day. So just taking a moment to enjoy the walk to the gym and notice the plants on the side of the road,  not worrying about if the leg press will be free when you get there.

Look, I’m not claiming that meditation is to your life, what coconut oil was to 2018 but, it is, ok? And you need to try it.

It won’t clear your life of beammeupsoftbois, or pay your bills, or get you that job you really want. But, it will put you in a better position where those things seem less like the Babadook and more like your dressing gown hung on your bedroom door that you convinced yourself is a demon. It’ll put you in a clearer, happier state of mind so that these things are just bonuses to add to your already fulfilled life.

 

Coronavirus turned me into a character from a Jane Austen novel… and I’m not mad about it.

It’s day number… ?? of lockdown, a tumbleweed rolls past my bedroom door, I’ve forgotten what wearing jeans feels like and did I brush my teeth already today? or, was that yesterday? Who knows- all the days are bleeding into one. I think back to BC, (before corona) and part of me remembers having, what do you call them? ahh! friends, I can barely remember their faces now, their floating around in the ether, in the same place as the image of my wearing make-up-self exists, who feels like an old alter ego at this point. No, this new plane, call it the dark age, consists of long periods of sitting on my bed and staring at the wall, then moving to the sofa and staring at the wall, intensely pining over the memory of a coffee shop; the smell of coffee, the hiss of milk frothing and the chatter of other people. This followed by intervals of hysterically laughing for ten minutes at a passing comment from the lad on goggle-box about wanking. These random outbursts have become a regular thing, sometimes it’s crying into my porridge, over a YouTube advert for Hull City Centre, or crumbling to the floor laughing at my mum pronouncing the word ‘testosterone’ as ‘restarone’, because it sounds like a really masculine pasta? Which I can only put down to the fact that lockdown has sent us all a bit mental. I spent an hour with my sister typing our entire families names into urban dictionary, then repeating the same thing with but with the word ‘dirty’ in front of everyone’s name. I will blame Miss Rona for the image imprinted in my mind, of my dear old grandad’s name in the same sentence as the word ‘fun hole’.

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I can’t complain really, but allow me one more moan, does anyone actually enjoy zoom calls? Zoom calls just highlight everything I push to the back of my mind when I’m face to face socialising, and seeing myself on the screen just confirms my fears that yes, I am awkward and yes, my mouth moves too much when I talk. So, apart from feeling like I am living through an episode of black mirror I would like to take a moment to appreciate all the things the coronavirus has taught me.

I started the year on a high with hopes of 2020 being ‘my year’ and then Miss Rona kindly put her thing down, flipped it, and reversed it. I admit at first, I spent a long week in bed, in a long-distance relationship with the shower, crying into my pillow, impatiently waiting the apocalypse. That was until I got some perspective, I’m not a front line worker risking my life so the least I can do is get myself out of bed. With my University assignments out of the way, I was suddenly hit with this strange feeling of freedom, I can now do whatever I want without this nagging guilt in the back of my head, right? Wrong, after a day on the sofa watching New Girl and not a single nutrient entering my body, the feeling was back. Guilt induced by the stream of tinned bean workouts I was seeing on Instagram and people building entire homes from scratch, this voice had taken on the persona of Shia LeBeouf and as you can imagine it was, intimidating. So I did what I had to do,  picked myself up, puffed on my inhaler and decided to take inspo from the pages of the Jane Austen novels I’d been using as coasters.

I hate to admit it, but this pandemic has turned my life into a Jane Austen novel, although without the brooding love interest. And the thing is, I’m not mad about it. When Elizabeth Bennet, said “I’m very fond of walking.”

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I have to say-albeit begrudgingly- I can now relate. I used to check google maps and gasp in horror at a ten-minute walk and would always be the first to suggest a taxi but since lockdown started, I haven’t missed a day of getting out and walking along the riverbank. Even in the rain, I will be there clinging to my hood, battling with the wind to try and hear what big words Russell brand is saying through my earphones.

 “When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.”

-Jane Austen

Since I’ve started these long walks, I’ve noticed such a big difference in my mental health by just getting into nature for a bit every day. Some of these adventures have led to accidentally getting nettled, almost shitting myself at the sight of a giant seagull flying towards me, then realising said seagull is actually a swan. But if Miss Rona has taught me anything it’s to appreciate what’s right under my nose, you don’t need to drive ten miles to go on a hike for a sense of adventure get yourself exploring that forest up the road.

So, once I established that I am, obviously the 2020 reincarnation of Elizabeth Bennet, I thought I’d take inspiration from the queens of the simple life. Whenever I complain of being bored, I remember this slap in the face advice from Jane Austen and get reading.

 “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

-Jane Austen

Learning to slow down and do things I haven’t done since high school has been something, I don’t think I would have done if not for the abundance of free time and anxiety that corona brought me. Drawing and painting again for the first time since I sat in the back of my art GCSE class and even though my first attempt at a portrait in six years, looked more like my nine-year-old sister had attempted an abstract impression of Billie Eilish, it felt good to do something for no reason.

Being able to read long novels without a time limit and listening to ENTIRE albums while dancing in my room. You can thank my recent listening of Kate Bush’s- ‘Never forever’ for my current obsession with the witchy heroines of the pages of the Brontës and Austen. Here is some advice from the queens of self-isolation. You can call it madness or wishful ignorance me believing I’m the protagonist of the millennial answer to Emma, but I’ll be over here, unplugged from social media, waiting on my frock to arrive from amazon, as I wait for my banana bread to brown.

 “Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.”
Jane Austen

A true Queen of Self-Isolation.

Are we STILL talking about this?!

A room full of people will roll their eyes and huff when you say the dreaded ‘f” word, that’s usually the response when a woman says she is a feminist. When this word is mentioned we instantly picture a swarm of hairy men-hating women running around burning their bras shoving their opinions down the throats of anyone who will listen.
All you have to do nowadays is simply log into any, literally any social media website and there will be at least twelve feminist debates going on where some disgusting 45 year old man is arguing with a seventeen year old girl for expressing her opinion and questioning the ways of our twisted society. Is it so bad that young girls are questioning the standards of what are expected from men and women in this world: the world were men can objectify a woman walking past in the street and whistle at her and that is just acceptable and normal. The world where women are paid less than their male co-workers for doing the same job but that’s accepted because as women we have been made afraid to speak up? Afraid to be labelled ‘Spoilt, Brat, Diva’ or ‘just a woman’ and what could be so wrong with being ‘just a woman’ that ‘just a woman’ who you made fun of in the office this morning in front of a table of thirteen men is the same woman who carried a baby inside her for NINE MONTHS, a baby she did not expect, a baby conceived from force, from violence , from saying no but he did it anyways because “she was asking for it”. She was wearing a tight dress with the top cut low and a sign saying “rape me”, no she was wearing clothes that she wanted, that she felt sexy in but of course don’t let the women show flesh. Oh what’s that? A chest! Oh no… Look over there an arm! And god save us I can see her bra strap. That is clearly an invitation for rape and not a woman proud of her cute new Victoria’s secret bra that she doesn’t care you can see because she paid a lot of her hard earned money for that bra but no she must have bought solely for the purpose to attract desperate men and when she says no she isn’t heard because they see her as nothing but a ‘slut’.
 We live in a society where it is easier to teach a woman how to avoid being raped than a man to simply not rape. Rape is rape, whether she was wearing a tight revealing dress and high heels, whether she winked at you from across the bar, if she kissed you, if she is drunk or passed out, if she is your girlfriend, your wife and she says no, then no means no. The circumstances should not belittle the crime.
It’s more than a cat call in the street or the odd comment. It’s the constant battle that women are still fighting for equal rights, basic human rights even to this day women are still being paid less than their male co-workers, still being looked at by a male dominant business industry as vulnerable and incapable. If the overall attitude to the way we address issues such as rape and sexual assault changed and we taught children from an early age not to rape instead of giving young girls advice on how to avoid it then we could avoid the problem all together. If there’s no one there to do the raping surely we avoid the problem completely therefore also avoiding the side effects after the rape. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bi polar to name a few, the trauma doesn’t end when the rape stops.
 Men will say “oh but men get raped too” when they hear women talking about their personal experiences. Well of course, I am not denying the fact that boys don’t get raped but that should be its own sentence not as a reply to a woman who has been raped. If you’re only acknowledging their trauma to silence female sufferers then you my friend, actually nope not a friend, not even an acquaintance you are just a scumbag. I’m not talking about those pretend feminists who are like oh my god I completely sympathise with your rape story someone stepped on my foot the other day… yeah it was awful… IT WAS A MAN, I just felt so invaded and vulnerable. I appreciate they mean well but it’s not quite the same. Men shouldn’t have the option to objectify women at all, if these little things stopped and women gained a little more respect than just being looked at in a sexual way then we would have a much more positive and equal society.
You know what else really bugs me? When boys think and even some girls that we do our make-up and look nice just to impress and too look good for men. Like no thank you I did not spend 148 POUNDS on lipstick, primer, highlighter, THREE different naked eye-shadow palettes, THREE foundations (each one different for contouring) powder and eyebrow kits for you to say you would ‘bang’ me. I did not pay 48 POUNDS on Victoria Secret lace underwear for you to rip off these panties: I bought these so I can feel good about myself and they’re cute and pretty make me feel like a bad ass bitch who doesn’t have time for boys with ‘G shore’ at the end of their twitter name. Most importantly they make me feel like I’m actually worth something. *Breathes* and on the subject of wanting to bang, why are all the adjectives against woman so negative “hey wanna BANG? , I’d SCREW her, I wanna NAIL you” everything is so violent is there any wonder men think it’s acceptable to rape and assault women when it’s accepted in society to use these words? And what’s with the saying ‘slut shaming’ how about DON’T call me or any woman a slut… EVER? Consent is sexy. Lingerie is sexy.
Just the other day I was in the club with my gals just trying to have a good time you know on our second or third round of some shots, Sambuca maybe? When some huaraches, skinny jeans, gel haired wearing Fuckboy who turns into a member of Geordie Shore after one Jägerbomb
had the AUDACITY to come over to me; happily doing that awkward sway dancing to the fourth Justin Bieber song to play in the 20 minutes we had been there and touch my bum. I was so shocked that someone would think that it would be okay to think of me as a possession and do that so casually. The inner psycho feminist in me was screaming clawing to get out and go ape shit on that idiot. I called my friends into a corner. Suspiciously we huddled together this issue needed to be dealt with, this was now a mission.  However, looking at their concerned faces I could tell I was taking this more seriously than any of them. I told them about my traumatic experience to which they all laughed-the response I was not expecting. “Oh yeah boys always do that here” “Omg who was he?” “Was he fit?” “Did you pull him?”
OK. Trying not to throw my drink at them and control my breathing was proving very difficult.
Firstly, just because ‘boys always do it’ doesn’t mean it is okay and we should accept it, what if he just ‘always put his dick in your face’ would you accept that to? If we are supposed to accept all demeaning and sexualised behaviours from boys but put that situation in reverse me slapping that boy in front of his mates, he would be embarrassed probably call me a weirdo but I was expected to turn around giggle, bat my eyelashes and thank that air head for laying his hands on me. Seriously, if I have to go the next night out wearing a t-shirt saying ‘I am not an object’ then I’ll do it I will! Another thing I wanted to point out is the scenery, if I was in a supermarket reaching over the cucumbers clearly trying to seduce that man over there and he came over a grabbed my butt people would be shocked, and it just wouldn’t happen. But change the setting to a night club and you’re getting slaps on the arse left right and centre.
Next on the list, does it matter if he was fit? He could have been the fittest 10/10 worldie and it would still mean his personality was as shit as a wet chicken nugget, no actually a wet quorn chicken nugget!!  A boy who thinks it is ok to slap a girl or touch a girl without her consent is most definitely a SHADY FUCKBOY!!! To be avoided at all costs. His morals are all wrong – didn’t his mother ever tell him to respect girls and treat them nicely clearly not if he’s going to undermine them like that. Oh but of course not all boys are like that, most boys are sensitive and sweet they will bring you flowers to your door and cover all your wounds and heal your scars with kisses they will wipe away your tears and make flowers grow under your bed.
AND hold my shit because if those were not enough to make you see why that is wrong then why would I ‘pull’ a boy who has already shown me he has no respect for women? He doesn’t deserve this. I would not risk smudging this expensive lipstick on a boy who itches his balls with one hand comments the love heart eye emoji on your selfie with the other.
And to the men slating feminists calling all women and girls who are brave enough to voice their opinions ‘vegetables’ and ‘ugly and fat’ then honey it’s okay, I feel for you I feel sorry for you because I know you are scared that more and more women will realise their self-worth and you will feel emasculated but you don’t need to beat us and demean us to show you are a man. We know you are a man, we can see you are a man; trust me you make it pretty clear. It makes me annoyed to the point I want to actually set my bra on fire throw it at these people who are so small minded to not even try and understand feminism. What is going to happen really? Why are people so ignorant as to ignore and dismiss the subject all it takes is a Google search. Typing feminism into Google doesn’t mean as you type the last ‘M’ you suddenly grow tons of pubic hair, grow boobs and suddenly become aware of what feelings are. It seems nowadays that people are scared of femininity all you need to say to a boy is the word period and he will run a mile. Hey that’s not a bad idea actually
‘How to get a guy in the club to leave you alone-101’
1) Mention the word period
2) Don’t laugh at his unfunny jokes
3) Agree with him when he compliments you (apparently feeling pretty means you are vain)
4) Don’t accept the drink he pays for you (he isn’t being nice he just wants to get in your pants)
5) Don’t make eye contact or wear a revealing outfit (boys think this is consent for sex)
6) Or to save time and effort- just introduce yourself as a feminist
I think when you tell a man you are a feminist they feel threatened and become scared they won’t be able to control you they worry that you will actually realise that in a relationship you have equal rights, you can voice your opinion and you can say no. They want to protect you but when you are striving for the right to not need to be protected, not need to be looked after, then what is their role? They feel inferior and out of place when they can’t be in control. But feminism isn’t trying to dismiss your manhood or make you feel threatened it is about EQUALITY – which includes the word EQUAL… do you get it now? Do you see? Even the bloody (period pun intended men cover your ears) dictionary definition states this:
Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes
What people think it means:
Feminist: The person who believes in the social, political and economic domination of women and the death of all men.
If you think feminism means anything other than gender equality please educate yourself before you say you don’t need feminism.
Feminism isn’t about killing men and creating species of women to take over the world with the national anthem Beyoncé ‘who run the world’ we just want respect and to be treated equal to our male counterparts. After all hasn’t this gone on far too long? Enough is enough and I think we have come too far to stop here, yes we have made a lot of progress in gender equality and yes women don’t have to throw themselves under horses in order to get their voices heard but why stop at almost why not carry on until we get full equality or what’s the point? Ah yeah feminism the thing that people almost took seriously. Why should we stop at the last hurdle because it is the most difficult one we need more people to understand that feminism isn’t just a woman’s game it affects everyone. I need feminism not because I hate men but because people think that that’s what being a feminist means. Now go be fabulous.
Word key:
Worldie: A world class thing or person “check out those two worldies over there”
Fuckboy:  A person who is a weak ass pussy that ain’t bout shit ( lowest possible form of vile degenerate waste pouring from the proverbial asshole of society asshole who is into strictly sexual relationships will lead a girl on then let her down after asking for ‘pics.’ (Aka nude photos)
Shady: someone who does not keep it real, sketchy suspicious not trustworthy.
Gshore: Think they are a member of the TV show Geordie shore in which “a group of orange herpes ridden nobheads are all bunked into a house together and all they do is have sex, fake tan and get ‘mortal’. (See below)
Mortal: To get extremely drunk

Dealing with mental health at Christmas

christmas blog picThe Christmas period is finally here, the most wonderful time of the year! Right?  *Sighs deeply into a pumpkin spice latte* Maybe not, for me and a lot of other sufferers of mental health find the whole festive month difficult. Psychically I am recovered,yes but mentally I am far from it. For me every single day is a struggle, a battle in my head from the bullying thoughts. People think a recovered and healthy body means you are fine when really you could be in a worse place mentally than before.

This time of year personally for me,triggers memories of dark times. The past four Christmas’s I have been unhappy and unable to enjoy the day. Four Christmas’s too many overruled by thoughts and feelings of guilt and hate. I don’t want to make this year five however, I’m scared I won’t be able to break the cycle. Christmas is the day, scrap that, the season that’s based around food and drink. Coffee franchises joining in on festive specials- I can’t describe my endless love for costas gingerbread lattes- don’t let liquid calories be classed as a ‘waste’ of calories, trust me this is not a waste! What terrifies me and gives me anxiety on the whole period leading up to Christmas Day is the looming fear of what family members are thinking. In my head it’s “wow you’ve gotten so fat since last Christmas” in reality they will probably just be feeling happy to see you well (and by well they do in no way mean fat), and glad they can actually hug you without being afraid of snapping you.

If, like me you would rather skip the whole ‘season to be jolly’, retire to your bed with a hot water bottle and a good Netflix show then think of it this way… Christmas Day is actually only one day, that’s 24 hours take away the time you spend opening the tons of make up you asked for and then take away more time for when you are actually applying that make up then you’re not left with that much. 20 hours maybe ? You can do that, I can do that, it is possible to let all the anxieties and worry go for just one day. Logically, you know one Christmas dinner won’t make you fat, you know eating well and good over Christmas will not turn you into a huge mess and you won’t gain 10 stone like your mind is telling you. You will be happy and enjoying your time with your loved ones playing games, laughing and sharing good food. After all food is their to be enjoyed and not avoided or feared. So why am I? I’m scared I’ll lose control I have this great need to be clean and rigid with rules and Christmas is the polar opposite (pun intended) the whole timings of meals are flipped on their head, jumbled around and everyone is so relaxed about that?! So why will I be the one sat in the corner stuck in an intense staring comepetition with a bowl of celebration chocolates across the room. Zoned out, anxiously twiddling my hair wishing i could be normal. Normal, ahhhh how articulate…

I think myself and many others like me are expecting too much from recovery too soon. It’s a process and a journey that you cannot make without stopping along the way. Anorexia is a draining and life stealing illness and I either want to be fully recovered or fully under the grips of it, it’s the inbetween that’s the hard bit. You look well but your head is screaming at you, you want to move on but there’s something holding you back, let go you need to. You deserve to.

Take the risk and let Go of your eating disorder. If you want the rainbow you have to put up with the rain this is just a shower that will be over with before you know it. I can’t expect to be recovered when I have days I don’t eat, how is that normal? I’m giving this recovery thing a hell of a good shot and so far it’s better than any day in the worst of anorexia and I may still feel guilty or some days more often than not I feel awful about my body and I have feelings of restriction but they are nowhere near as bad as they were. Which actively proves things are improving, slowly, very slowly but definitely surely and they may pause and go backwards a little as long as you are always going forward.

So this Christmas remember how far you have come and what this is about, its about life, health and happiness. Christmas is about family and friends not fear and food. Be mindful with yourself and be delicate don’t push yourself into anything you are not ready to do. If you don’t feel up to a Christmas dinner then chose a safer option, it’s okay it’s your choice whatever you feel comfortable with. If you do want a Christmas dinner then go you, you go glen coco! If you need a break take five minutes breathe and remember food isn’t the enemy. Relax, breathe, take it slow. If you are last to finish that is also very okay. At the end of the day when you are curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine or hot chocolate trying to find a comfortable position for this food baby, breathe and be proud of yourself be proud of whatever you accomplished whether it was eating a little piece of chocolate from an advent Callander, eating a Christmas dinner, having a glass of wine, anything you feel proud of. Whatever stage you are at because you are alive and your heart is still beating. You made it another year and I am proud of you. *exhales*

Try accepting yourself and see what happens

I’ve been on this rocky path of recovery for almost three years now, during this time I have had many ups and even more downs.I have relapsed and restricted, binged and beat myself up over it and ended up falling back into old bad habits all while labelling myself as ‘recovered’. But I wasn’t, I would trick myself and others around me that I was completely better and even I myself thought I was or at least i thought that it was as ‘better’ as i would ever get. However I would still rigidly count calories, eat strictly to certain times with rules and regimes, eating only ‘clean’ foods and if something considered ‘bad’ passed my lips I would fall into a pit of guilt and hate myself. How could this ever be considered normal? And would I ever be able to have a healthy and normal relationship with food? At the time I thought not, I saw no way out. I say ‘at the time’ like it was a long time ago but in reality this realisation struck me a couple of weeks ago. I was scrolling through twitter when I saw a tweet  that really hit home, it read “it scares me that I will never be normal with food” (60+retweets) as I subconsciously retweeted it along with the floods of other self-hate and body negativity filling up my timeline I thought to myself, all of these people feel this way including myself? But if it scares me to think this then why don’t I do something about it? Surely that was the logical thing to do wasn’t it?  Wrong! in the case of people with eating disorders unfortunately many go on to never fully recover and instead live in a state of just staying afloat, out of the danger zone but still thin, sad and unhappy with themselves and their relationship with food, this means that many people feel safe in this bubble of managing with anorexia constantly hungry and dodging fear foods to feel control and stay thin. However the way I see it this is still very disordered and if we continue to have this negative attitude towards ours bodies and food then we never will recover. We live in a society were it is more normal and accepted for girls to hate their bodies than to love themselves which is evident on almost all social media sites.

So how about instead of complaining about not being normal with food we do something about it? Change the perspective, instead of “it scares me that I will never be normal with food” how about “it scares me that if I don’t make a change now that my relationship with food could never be normal” but I am going to change that? I understand it is much easier said than done trust me I really do, a year of telling myself I was happy eating salad and drinking green which I actually hate. Does anyone else realise that a lot of the food you think you like you are just pretending because it is considered healthy, like kale for example I would religiously add it to everything and think I was the most pure being to ever walk the planet, it’s gross by the way. Almond butter, spirulina,rye bread to name a few more.

I struggled to find what would work for me, when I got discharged I was on a massive high of having freedom and being able to have food I hadn’t tasted in so long. But of course this didn’t last and followed by a dramatic come down, I struggled with the weight gain and missed the safety of being in hospital I then relapsed and restricted so much I ending up almost being hospitalised again. Following the restriction of less than 200 calories a day (most of which were green foods) I would crave unhealthy junk food as your body naturally does if you deprive yourself of an entire food group for months/years. During the recovery process in hospital they told us it is normal to crave and eat a lot of unhealthy foods as it is your body repairing and nourishing itself while making up for the damage caused and loss of these essential foods. However I heard this and thought it could never be me I wanted control and wanted clean healthy food and restriction but no one can survive like this especially not in recovery. These fear foods and junk food were forbidden for If I would allow myself to eat it I thought I might not stop. That’s what my mind told me anyway. The logic I ended up having after I would give in and eat a bad food was “eat all the digestives now then you can’t eat them tomorrow?” right? This constant cycle would continue until I hated myself so much I didn’t want to go out i again became so depressed as I saw no way of ever being able to eat normal and just eat one biscuit because my body would never know when it might get one again being so deprived. At this point I thought right I’ve tried the whole starving myself and restriction thing and look where it got me, so I guess I could give eating ‘normally’ and balanced a try.What could possibly happen that is worse than what I was currently going through? What you have to understand is restriction never works, it never has and it never will, ever. You have to reach the point where you are so fed up of your eating disorder ruling everything you do and I was, you have to reach the point where you would rather be a higher weight than have an eating disorder and follow restrictive diets and rules. This kind of thinking will set you free. The point when you realise life is worth so much more than following diets and rules, bingeing, constant fear of food, food obsession, purging you just want to recover instead of focusing weight and numbers, imagine that huh? Don’t imagine it do it! You have to accept your weight before you can recover not the other way around. Imagine in 30 years’ time you are still living with this horrible illness because you didn’t make the decision to recover now. The things that seem so important now like having an un-attainable stick thin body with a thigh gap won’t matter in the future. Eat that cake or buttery toast before bed with a milky hot chocolate filled to the brim with marshmallows because I can guarantee that in 30 years’ time you are not going to look back and think ‘man am I so glad I didn’t eat that piece of birthday cake’ these foods that seem so scary and significant now, in the bigger picture they’re not and food is meant to be enjoyed. In 30 years’ time you won’t even remember the ‘scary’ foods but what you will remember is spending what’s meant to be the best years of your life worrying about grams of fat, sugar and calories. I used to and still do watch my friends and family in envy that they can eat all these delicious and scary foods without feeling tremendous guilt but to be honest I can too, the only thing stopping me is myself. I can sit and watch with jealousy or I can join I can actually be that care free person I used to be but not until I make a change and actively change my mind-set because nothing would make a difference unless I decided to make serious changes in my life. The life I was living would not give me recovery because the truth is we cannot have it both ways we can’t recover from an eating disorder and maintain our lowest weight nor can we exercise excessively and be mentally free, we can’t skip dinner and expect our eating disorders to vanish or starve ourselves and hope our bodies will function normally. Every day every second you have to choose recovery no matter how much you don’t want to you either recover from this illness or it will kill you. My advice is give your body a break you’ve put it through hell for a piece of mind you never achieved so now what? Let your body naturally heal, listen to your cravings and eat whatever you want whenever you want just try and be patient with your body, it’s been through a lot of damage. All your body is trying to do is keep you alive and save you from starvation the least you can do is show it some respect. At times it will be hard and you will want nothing more than to jump out of your skin and back into your fragile tiny body BUT you have to keep going and think where you happy in that time? No. you was cold,depressed,isolated and dying. It will take time and it’s a tough road but if you keep moving forward and treat your body kindly and with understanding it will love you back. Give yourself time and keep fighting against your demons “the purpose of life is not to be skinny. If you make that your purpose you won’t ever achieve true happiness that comes from loving yourself unconditionally.”

Separating self worth from educational achievement

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What’s it all about then? Anorexia; obviously she just wants to be skinny, she never eats anything but salad it’s ridiculous; her legs look like twigs it’s disgusting…

What is anorexia? To someone who hasn’t suffered the life threatening illness they tend to think it is just a fad diet, a phase, just wanting to be thin. After all the definition of anorexia is ‘loss of appetite in food with the desire of losing weight’. However it is much more, nothing could be further from the truth. The weight is simply a side effect to the mentality of the illness; someone could appear physically well or recovered and still be in the deep grips of their eating disorder facing war with themselves every second. The weight is incomparable to dry cracked bleeding skin, the bones poking out, bruising from the slightest knock, being freezing stone cold all the time even during summer while your friends are out in bikinis you’re wrapped in dozens of layers, ripped muscles, brittle aching bones, heart palpitations, black outs constantly, passing out, blue hands and feet, losing friends, losing hair, losing the colour in your face, the spring in your step and most importantly losing yourself. You become your illness, for many once the diagnosis process has passed you feel like you have to live up to your illness, you are anorexic so how can anyone possibly see you eat. For me this is when things got even worse. I was diagnosed in the April after waiting since January to be seen by camhs but we didn’t have another appointment with camhs until 2 months later which was soon cut much shorter due to the rapid weight loss in-between these few months. From march until may I was eating 500 calories a day, walking 5 miles to school (there and back),as well as my pilates DVD every night, the weight was gradually coming off but it wasn’t enough. People at school noticed and started to talk saying I had lost a lot of weight, when I heard this I felt proud and craved this feeling of been noticed. I started the gym in march alongside the other exercise and began finding any excuse not to eat, I decreased my calories further to which I would eat a bite of dry toast in a morning in front of my mum and stuff the rest in my pocket leaving crumbs on the plate to avoid suspicion. I told my mum I would buy lunch at school using the money later to pay for the gym. I survived of virtually an apple a day. Walking another two miles after school to the gym, burning 600 calories eating a banana after my workout (because according to the websites eating straight after exercise doesn’t count) to be honest I think it means in the 30 minute period after exercising-not running into the gym toilets and scoffing down a banana scared I won’t burn it off in time. But that’s just one of the irrational things anorexia compels you to do.

Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide. Research has found that 20% of anorexia sufferers will die prematurely from their illness. Bulimia is also associated with severe medical complications, and binge eating disorder sufferers often experience the medical complications associated with obesity. In every case, eating disorders severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and those close to them. Therapy sessions have tried to get to the root of my eating disorder; at what age did your problems with food begin, did a certain point in life or something someone said to you in the past trigger the thoughts. But given my own time and thoughts to think about it, I have come to the conclusion that it cannot be boiled down to one specific thing or event, it is numerous of interlinked  complex and individual causes which feed into an eating disorder and to blame one thing would be Ludicrous and unfair. Even I don’t know how it started was it a mixture of childhood; shall we say experiences I would rather not delve into, shaky body image, the media, perfectionism and of course the pressure of exams and my entire future put into a few exams which I have to decide upon at the vulnerable age of 16 when I’m not even allowed to vote yet. Seems logical right? Yes, so I guess you could say doing well, exam stress and the fear of failing played a somewhat active part in the stresses which lead to me restricting the only thing I felt I had control over; Food. If I couldn’t stop myself from growing up then I could stop my body from growing? Everything around me was moving so quickly it seemed like yesterday that the hardest decision I had to make was which bratz character I was going to be at playtime and which day me and my best friend would stay hot dinners. I miss the simplicity of things I thought where so important. It seems so irrational: stop eating to gain control; for it to result in all control being taken away from you. Thrown inpatient and I’m not even given the control to shower alone . Ironic isn’t it. However, my problem was simply I didn’t feel ready to face GCSE’S that meant, leaving school which meant change; starting college; new people; which meant more people to try and impress. getting a job and earning my own money;moving out; university ,doing well, getting a good job but failing in these scared me profoundly : failing my GCSE’S , not getting into a good college not getting a good job, going on the dole, living off my mums couch, eventually on the streets having no money, no successful job nothing. I would sit and think about this on a night laid in bed over thinking until my heart would race and I would sit up gasping for air in a sweat. By controlling my eating I could manage what was going into my body, and the effect exercise and food had on my body I was now in control and if I could control this and have the perfect skinny model like body which everyone would idolise then that’s all that mattered I wouldn’t need qualifications to get a good job because I was what any stereotypical fashion journalist parading the streets of new York; vogue in one hand, a skinny non fat,reduced sugar latte in the other ;heading back to the office for a day of bossing people around –looked like, because I was thin and I was in control. I thought that if I could run away from my problems of exams and the general teenage stress of growing up then I could avoid them for as long as possible. (Or forever) Running away from my problems and fears, and pausing the real world by being treated as an inpatient which believe me is the furthest thing from real life, it sounds stupidly pathetic but you are treated like a child again, watched 24/7, looked after, told what to do, no responsibilities or deadlines in a way it was the break I wanted. I had escaped real life and after the initial fear of eating solid food again and putting on weight wasn’t the biggest fear, It was good. I had met some amazing, funny, inspiring girls who I got along with so well who I got to have a constant sleepover with and generally just cause havoc on the ward for the staff. I’d say hiding in the towel cupboard on observations and locking the chef in the lift where perks. We had education but we mainly messed about and no one cared, it was responsibility and mainly stress free where school and the future was involved. This is what made it hard for me to do well and aim for home leave, home leave meant a step closer to discharge which meant back to reality and back to getting on with life and dealing with problems. This is what people found hard to believe that I dint want home leave, stupid right? Hours away from home, friends ,family? But I felt safe here, I was forced to eat and if I didn’t eat then I would be forced the food in other ways, (not going into detail as I think you can guess) but here I had no choice but to eat it was the only option, otherwise privileges such as time-out and home leave or worse… oh no,… the thing they knew would hurt us most they really knew how to rattle our cage, yep depriving us of our walk or 3 Wii dances. Exercise was like a god send at inpatient so when they threatened us with taking it away we obeyed immediately.

As I began to accept my changing body and manage bad thoughts with the help of the numerous therapists on the ward. Initially I hated every single member of the staff, there sole purpose was to make me fat, stuff me up so I was out of the danger zone then, ‘C’YA later’ I wouldn’t speak more than one word answers to the staff and when prompted to come to the dining room I would swear and scream at them. What decent person earns a living preying of young girl’s sadness; forcing them to do the one thing they dread the most in the world, reducing them to tears and then going home and leaving us behind. But of course this was when I was still very, very sick and in the depths of my eating disorder now I understand that without the help and support of the staff at the priory I wouldn’t be writing this today. Essentially they saved my life, or at least helped. While there I managed to accept that running away from my problems it would not make them go away it would just prolong the process of life. I can’t avoid life; I was blessed with this life, with a healthy body why should I punish it and destroy my body for peace of mind that I never reached. I thought being thin was the answer to my problems but the truth is it just created more. Everyone goes through stress, and no education is worth my mental health. As long as I was trying my best then that’s all I can do and if not then it’s not the end, people don’t measure your self-worth on how many A*’s you got or how much you get paid at work, people worth being in your life will love you unconditionally, your self-worth is measured from the amount of smiles shared and unexpected laughs from the people surrounding you. “I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles.”- Laurie Halse Anderson. This quote speaks great wisdom, why should the mass you weigh define the kind of person you are, exactly it doesn’t therefore measure your self worth in things that count for example instead of how much you weigh, does it not make more sense to count how many times you laugh or make someone else laugh in a day? I for one see this as much more rewarding. The days you feel down remember you are not where you used to be, perhaps you are not quite at the finish line but look at how far you have come not how far you have left. This will only set you back, if you slip up that’s okay. I learnt that in recovery I am obviously going to have blips and rough patches and I wouldn’t expect anything less, however instead of blaming this bad times on yourself and feeling guilty simply know that in order to reach the good we have to fight through the bad. Many times in a ‘bad’ moment where I fell off track whether it was a binge, skipping a meal,restricting or old Ed behaviours rather then seeing it as ‘a bad day’ and thinking oh I’ve slipped up I’m a failure,I’ll skip the next meal,blah blah blah, NO! pick yourself back up,carry on leave whatever it was in that moment its in the past now,move on and no matter how hard it is make sure you eat your next meal this way you are not letting your eating disorder win and are flourishing in recovery. get yourself a warm cup of tea,a good book and move on go back to normal with your next meal by skipping this will only lead to you becoming over hungry and overeat and then restrict;crave less healthy foods,slow your metabolism,reduce your energy ,result in missed nutrients your body needs to heal and slows down recovery.

Reminder = I can cope with change without turning to or away from food.