Archive for March, 2013

The Easter Bunny Did It

I remember being about 4 years old and running through the garden asking my mom “am I hot or cold” as I looked everywhere for that deliciously sweet egg that for some odd reason a bunny was leaving in random spots – secretly I hoped that I could follow the trail to the Beacon Chocolate Factory. Those hollow chocolate eggs coated in hard white sweetness were my favorites and back then no one really cared about the toxins in permanent markers so my mother (or as I thought back then: the Eater Bunny) drew cute faces on all of them that almost made me not want to eat them… almost…

Jump to a 10 year old me hanging out with my much older cousins at my grandparents house. It was great! My mother always went way out! Her sisters not so much but she involved all of my cousins – even the much older boys who were too cool for everything else. And we had really elaborate hunts that involved several misleading clues and booby traps. And then there was The Easter Bunny! Caltex was right down the road from my grandparents house (aka close enough for my mother to let me go with the minimal supervision of my cousins for about 20 min without flipping out). This lead to my grandmother mysteriously running out of carrots all weekend and in a non related incident we just happen to stumble among a large stock pile of Caltax Easter goodies. Good times…

When I was 22 and living in the UK I was really not into Easter as I was really far away from my parents and family. So a friend and I were hanging out with Pizza and movies while checking out twitter and the awesome Tony Hawk flooded my timeline (back then I only followed 100 people so if you tweeted more than 5 times a day, it felt like you were flooding my tl). He had an awesome world-wide 24 hour marathon of an Easter Hunt going and people could win skateboards and all sorts of brilliant goodies!! I thought this was so great of him; to take the time to excite his fans.

For the last 2 years I have been organizing my own low key Easter Egg Hunt at work. Last year I only hid 60 and it seemed like more than enough but it’s grown and now there are 200 that I hid and another 200 being hidden by my colleague tomorrow. This year has a little twist that has really helped amp up the excitement and team work aspect of it all. It’s rather cool to see adults jumping up and down when they finally find their first one or when they try to look casual as if to say “who me? looking for an easter egg? no… I’m to old for that” while secretly checking every corner and behind every door. Last year I could get away with hiding things in plain sight, this year, that was a little more difficult… Really had to challenge a few of them, which in turn challenged me and gave me the same excitement that they were getting from the search. I am proud to say there are still a few that have not been found yet!

I hope that when I’m a hundred and four and have grand kids around me during this particular holiday, that I will still have the same excitement I do now and that I will still be able to appreciate how something so simplistic and uncomplicated can bring so much joy.

Happy Easter!

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Music Saves Lives

If you follow our twitter feed on a daily bases you will be aware of our #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competitions. A simple concept where our followers and even we at times get to share the songs that have helped us through tough times and made that day just a little more bearable… Sometimes this involves lengthy discussions about artists and their writing styles or just the lyrics we love or the music video that showcases it all… And it’s not really about the winner; it’s about the power of music.

 

So tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss is about the power of music. I’m sure all of you have heard at least one person close to you say “If it wasn’t for music I would not be here” or the more poignant “Music has saved my life”. And you probably rolled your eyes and thought ‘drama queen’…. but from personal experience I can completely relate to those music lovers. When life gets you down and it feels like no one around you understands and you are completely alone, that is when music steps in and every song seems to be about you… every lyric just makes sense and every note gives your body permission to breathe… music can save lives as long as we give it permission to.

 

Have you ever experienced a moment where words from friends and family were not enough but music made sense? That’s exactly what we asked our followers and they recalled a lot of these moments… Moments when they couldn’t see the light but music helped them through it. For a list of amazing songs that inspire our followers, checkout the #InspirationalSongOfTheDay link or #20DaysOfRae

 

If you have been part of our #DLYGfamily from the beginning you’ll know that Lacey had an amazing voice… and that we loved her. Music is what brought me and Chrisselle to twitter in the first place and that is also how we met Lacey… So music has always had a very big role to play within Don’t Lose Your Grip. When Lacey took her own life it was hard on those of us left behind but music helped us cope… talking about it has helped us cope… being able to help others share has helped us cope… For us music is more than just a few notes: it is a life saving tool that can speak louder than words and get through to us when no one else can.

 

Basically, music has a brilliant way of changing our moods and allowing us to reclaim the version of ourselves that the world tries so hard to destroy. If you want to share your favorite music with us or your stories or recovery or just want to talk, we would love to hear from you! PS this discussion was inspired by one of our amazing followers @whoisalicia_ and her post Everything’s Fine

Depression VS Bipolar

Mental health is confusing. Even those of us living it have trouble understanding it, so how can we expect others to understand it? Well, be listening to us when we talk about it…

Tonight we tackled one of the confusing things about Bipolar… how does it differ from depression?

We started by asking our followers how they would define depression?              

  • ·         like a permanent grey cloud over your head, regardless of the actual weather (weather = your situation)
  • ·         always sad, feeling really low and lacking self confidence, and getting more tired than normal
  • ·         when you want to be alone, but be alone with someone
  • ·         like a slow wave of dark, aching nausea
  • ·         when everyday noise is too much, but silence is unbearable
  • ·         black cloud that follows you everywhere – all the time
  • ·         a medical condition in which one experiences low moods for a prolonged period of time or in other words, hell on earth
  • ·         my life

All very vivid explanations of this frustrating disorder… and this is how the medical professionals define it. Official Definition:

Clinical (or major) depression is a serious illness that affects every aspect of an individual’s life, including their personal and family relationships, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. The symptoms of depression include:

  • Loss of energy
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Decreased activity and energy
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Increased feelings of worry and anxiety
  • Less interest or participation in, and less enjoyment of activities normally enjoyed
  • Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Change in appetite (either eating more or eating less)
  • Change in sleep patterns (either sleeping more or sleeping less)

 

A lot less expressive and slightly vague… but then we asked them how they would define Bipolar.

  • ·         half the time sad and down and tired and then the other half happy and impulsive and never sleeping
  • ·         a whirlwind of highs brought down by crippling lows. highs can also be fuelled by irritability & anxiety
  • ·         lack of sleep, lack of inhibition, lack of reason and too much emotion.

Official definition:

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in moods that alternate between “highs” (or mania) and “lows” (or depression). These manic and depressive periods vary from person to person and can last from just a few hours or days to several weeks or even months. Sometimes these periods of intense emotions are so brief and so far between that many people may not be aware that they have bipolar disorder. Sometimes these cycles are so strong and close together that it is very difficult to maintain a normal life and have normal relationships.

Bipolar depression shares many of the same symptoms of regular depression. Manic episodes are often harder to identify because many people don’t understand what the symptoms of mania are. If you experience episodes of depression followed by the following symptoms of mania, you may have bipolar disorder.

  • An extremely elated, happy mood or an extremely irritable, angry, unpleasant mood
  • Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased talking, more rapid speech than normal
  • Ambitious, often grandiose plans
  • Risk taking
  • Impulsive activity such as spending sprees, sexual indiscretion, and alcohol abuse
  • Decreased sleep without experiencing fatigue

 

So what’s the difference between Depression and Bipolar? This is what our followers came up with:

  • ·         I guess in bipolar disease u feel down and happy both at diff times (changes in emotions) but in depression mostly low
  • ·         I only have experience with depression, but I’m guessing the fact that you don’t get the “highs” with depression
  • ·         bipolar people are depressed for a shorter time and then go straight to manic and depressed people just stay depressed
  • ·         Manic Depression can mean either overly happy, overly sad or ‘normal’ where depression is just very sad most of the time

Official answer:

Bipolar disorder and depression are very similar illnesses with one major difference: People with bipolar disorder switch between episodes of depression and episodes of mania. Because these two illnesses are so similar, some people who are diagnosed as having depression may actually have bipolar disorder. One reason for this misdiagnosis is that people with bipolar disorder often only seek treatment during a depressive episode. They may also be unaware that when they’re not feeling depressed, they may actually be experiencing an episode of mania.

These two are so close and yet for the people living with these disorders, they are worlds apart. The wrong diagnosis can mean that it will take you longer to find a treatment plan that works for you but ultimately you will still get there. The most important things to remember with a diagnosis are that it is just the starting point and your input will determine how accurate your treatment is. Your doctor can not treat you for something if he does not have all of the facts and if you do not let him in on all of the facts, he will never know.

We also asked them how their diagnosis changed their lives.

  • I felt like it wasn’t all just in my head, I wasn’t making it up
  • it helped my younger siblings understand my mood swings and the meds have really helped
  • Diagnosis helps you to understand that what is happening to you is real

For most people being diagnosed was a positive… occasionally there are people who try to use your diagnosis against you and that is one of the reasons we need to stand together and talk openly about these issues. When we stand together and fight for equality while standing up for each other, only good things can come from it.

We also asked what they wish people could understand about these disorders. Take Note World

  • it’s an everyday struggle and that we have no control over it
  • forever hoping someone actually notices and cares to get me help.
  • it doesn’t make me a freak; it just means my mood swings are a little strange.

And what would you say to someone who is wondering if they have bipolar or depression?

  • Find a doctor with expertise
  • see your doctor. As terrifying as it is, it’s the only way you’ll know for sure

We finished tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss by asking our followers if there was something they wish they had known back when they were first diagnosed. It mainly came down to not fighting it. Not trying to deny it or run from it but rather facing the diagnoses and accepting the help being offered to you. Whatever your diagnoses, you need to remember that it is only a small part of who you are and not all that you are. We also discussed that not every therapeutic tool or recovery technique or medical remedy will work for everyone. Every person is different and their treatment should be too, it’s up to you and your doctor to figure out what works best for you. Like Edison said: I have not failed, I have just found a 1000 ways for it not to work.

Find a treatment that works for you and stick with it. You are not alone and we are all here to support you through your recovery.

Born To Race 2011

Born To Race 2011 directed by Alex Ranarivelo

The title is exciting and always awesome even though it’s a bit of cliche when you look at the write up of the movie

Trailer

Born To Race Trailor

Little dramatic but that builds the energy and that’s pretty cool. Sadly the movie does not follow the same fast paced structure and because of that (and the awesome sauce known as The Fast & The Furious that every street racing movie will be compared to for the next 40years) the movie is a tad disappointing. The energy and the racing within the movie is a lot less exciting than the trailer so I feel like watching the trailer to get all amped up and then putting in my TF&TF DVD instead…

Write Up

“A rebellious young street racer on a collision course with trouble is sent to a small town to live with his estranged father, a former NASCAR driver”

Gives away a bit more than I would have liked as the storyline doesn’t develop that much after this knowledge… It also lacks the set up for the emotions that develop as the viewer is already there when the movie starts it nullifies the opening and pretty much just leaves you feeling like half of the movie is trying to catch up to the trailer.

Opening

It’s ok. Not brilliant and not bad just ok. Ok and predictable – even when you haven’t seen the trailer, so if you have, then it pretty much sucks except for that 30seconds of great speed.

Cast

Lots of unknows in this movie, which is great. Sadly the story line and character development (or rather lack of character development) didn’t really allow for a true exploration of their talents or range at all. I don’t think a bunch of big names would have been able to make the movie any better though…

Storyline

It’s just one of those scripts that start off with a good idea but then the writer gets too excited and loses his vision and inspiration. It’s like a mixture of a bunch of ok racing movies but without any of the real stand out awesome moments that is required in this genre.

Special affects

Racing movies require, no, rather demand a spectacular crash and awesome high-speed chases. This one just lacks the magnitude of a truly great film.

Editing & Angles

OK, this is one of my big hitters. Editing is where a movie is saved or written off. Even some of the worst movies I have ever seen have been redeemed by the long hours of the editor and producers in a cutting room. This movie is not one of those. There were really not enough cuts to build the energy that this action genre deserves. The viewer is left feeling rather impatient as their energy levels seem higher than the adrenaline of the storyline. Granted, the editor does not seem to have had a lot of angles or high-speed shots with amazing colour but there is always a way around it. As long as you have 2 angles to cut between, anything is possible. The sound of an engine revving to just give the movie a kick-start was also lacking. Gear shifts and break screeches are what excites all racing enthusiasts… there were more of these in the trailer than in the actual movie – it actually feels like they left out some of the gear shifts in the movie because they are so few and far apart.

Score

A little monotone and actually slightly distracting the way it is used in conjunction with the script. Has very much the feel of chariots of fire but without the powerful finale. For a movie in this era it is rather disappointing when you consider technology and our fast paced lifestyles. In other aspects this movie has done well to be generic and relevant so for the music to be outdated is a bit counterproductive.

Cool lines

“Puck – a midsummer night’s dream, the mischief maker”

“Oooh, someone Goggled Shakespeare after class”

A little out of context here but the acting around it was ok and enough to prevent me from turning off the movie – yes, I actually had the remote in hand and my finger on the ‘stop’ button. And I’m a sucker for dropping phrases like Google into every day conversation without that dating the movie

“Oh he’s a dead man” after almost dying themselves… A brief but funny line in this rather uneventful movie. Irony is always a plus in my book

Cool scenes

Diner Chase – His dad is sitting at the diner talking about his ‘new’ responsibility as a father “I just hope I can keep him out of trouble” as Jay (him) drives by the window chasing the antagonist. This was a pretty good shot. Nice setting and good placement, so have to give props to the DoP for this one

Driving his emotions – Cutting to all of the things that are frustrating him while he picks up speed. Score was a little off and didn’t have enough drive plus a few more cuts and gear shifts would have made the pay off a lot better but the concept is solid

Flaws

Well, I think I mentioned the biggest flaw – a few times – and that would be the pace that is lacking due to the editing and maybe a lack of direction as far as the camera angles and close ups are concerned. There is also this expectation as a motor-enthusiast that I will at least see some awesome cars or wheels or parts or skid marks or something! This was just completely left out.

The acting was ok – not all actors are able to make every moment an Oscar moment and with a thin storyline like this one, you can’t really blame them if they lost interest halfway through shooting.

Music did not pack enough of a punch and the movie may even have been better without any of the score as at times it was rather contradictory to the emotional build up that was needed for the scene to work.

Set was ok but there was not enough coverage of the set and scenes so it felt more like a rushed low budget production.

Besides these basic issues that were clearly the reason this movie never made it far, for me the biggest defect of this movie was one of the final scenes, the slow motion crash scene aftermath. Lasts way too long but a good idea to tie everything up in a nice little bundle, too bad everything else was wrong with it. So much info without any words… excellent concept screwed up by the basics of cinematography. Don’t want to give anything else away in case you feel like watching the movie – even after my rather discouraging review.

I’m a little disappointed in the transition after that, needed to have more oomph…. pretty much like the rest of the movie. I think I should probably stop here before I get overly excited about a movie that could not excite me at all…

Sleep Is Overrated

“Sleep is overrated” “Efficiency is a word insomniacs use to defend their caffeine addiction” “Sleeping more than 4 hours a night is pointless” All of these phrases have been used about by me… but secretly I would love to be able to sleep for 8 hours straight. I would love to wake up feeling refreshed rather than with a headache. I would like to actively go to bed every night and just sleep rather than pass out from exhaustion. I would love for my eyes to not burn from pure fatigue. I would love to not fall under the insomniac umbrella. But that’s just not meant to be…

Tonight in our #TopicsToDiscuss we asked our followers how they would identify insomnia and where they think it comes from. They pretty much said what the NHS said too

Insomnia is a side effect of many things. Stress. Depression. Bad eating habits. But what side effects result from your insomnia?

  • I struggle to remember simple things sometimes
  • a huge one is the paranoia
  • finding it hard to focus
  • I get really irritable and withdrawn
  • also feel thirsty more and snack on biscuits and other junk food.
  • some people that live with this disorder see things as if they are happening in slow motion, wherein moving objects seem to blend together

There are many levels of insomnia and this is also what makes it so tricky to diagnose. Insomnia is both a symptom and a side effect and that confuses things a bit, especially when you are trying to figure out how to treat it. We asked our followers the following two questions:

What do you do to trick your body into sleeping when you simply can’t stand to be awake any longer? And what has helped you retrain your brain and allow yourself to get some sleep?

  • have a bath in lavender – calming affects of certain smells can help release the tension that is keeping you awake
  • hot milk – it may seem old fashioned but the lacto has a soothing effect on your body that allows it be calm and sleep more peacefully. Plus it is associated with bed time so psychologically there is that advantage too
  • healthy eating is very affective – sometimes just eating less ‘heavy’ meals at night will make a difference. If your body does not have to digest food, it means that it can shut down and relax and not mess with your subconscious throughout the night either
  • caffeine a no-no – if you have a problem with sleeping obviously drinking coffee right before bedtime is not a good idea. A cup of tea or horlics is a better option or simply just a glass of warm milk. But just be careful not to force your body into a detox if you are slightly addicted to caffeine as this could be counterproductive. And sometimes depriving yourself of sleep during the day can help you regain control of your body clock, so coffee is not 100% bad… it’s just something you need to be aware of. There is also a chicken and egg conversation about which one came first: my caffeine addiction or my insomnia?
  • Senses – what you smell and hear makes a difference. The atmosphere that you require to get a good night’s sleep is very important. Try to eliminate all of the things that distract you in your room. Even having too many pillows on the bed or light shining in through the window can affect your sleep. Changing to darker curtains may help.
  • Noise and sounds can also interrupt your sleeping pattern – some people prefer to drown out the sounds with music while others prefer earplugs to remove all sounds completely. You need to try it out in order to determine which one will work for you.
  • Exercise – can be a good way to get rid of all of the extra energy you have and allow you to relax and get a good night’s sleep
  • Pen to paper – writing down all of the thoughts in your head when you want to go to sleep is also a useful tool. If you allow yourself to write these thoughts or concerns down then it gives your mind permission to let go of the thoughts and not fear losing them overnight by allowing you to sleep.
  • baby concept – same routine every night, brush your teeth, comb your hair, listen to the same music or watch the same movie. Like a baby, your body will get use to the routine and realize that you want it to go to sleep. Sometimes it’s like your brain is afraid of missing something so it wants to be awake all the time and if you teach it what to expect and what will happen next, it will realize that there is nothing to be missed by allowing you to sleep

In the medical profession they also use these 2 techniques

  • paradoxical intention – you try to stay awake and avoid any intention of falling asleep; it’s only used if you have trouble getting to sleep, but not maintaining sleep
  • biofeedback – sensors connected to a machine are placed on your body to measure your body’s responses, such as muscle tension and heart rate; the machine produces pictures or sounds to help you control your breathing and body responses

All of these techniques worked for someone… and it most likely failed for someone else, so try them out and let us know how they work for you. There are always more options and new things to try, as long as you are willing to keep looking for that solution, we will be here to help you too.You should consider visiting your GP if you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep or to stay asleep and it’s affecting your daily life. Do not wait until you cannot stand it anymore. You have the power to reclaim your bed as a place of comfort.

Leave your comments about tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss or tweet us @dontloseurgrip you can even suggest a topic for our discussion next week.

People Don’t Tend To Be Burned Alive

In tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss we started the conversation with a question: What would you like to change about the way people view Mental Illness? In short, the answer is A LOT! And here are just a few of the ones they mentioned

  • It isn’t contagious
  • It doesn’t come with an off switch
  •  It doesn’t necessarily lead to violence
  • The idea that we can all “think ourselves better” should be forgotten
  • For people to view MI as an ACTUAL illness,
  • It’s not something that you choose to have/not to have
  • Think from the patient’s point of view
  • Accept that we are not pretending for attention
  • That there isn’t “something wrong” with me

These are but a few of the many stigmas we face on a daily bases. One of our followers commented “I hope as medicine progresses and you can see more physical evidence of mental illness people will be more accepting.” There has been a lot of progress over the years but it is clear that there is still a really long way to go before we can live in a judgement free world…

So we asked our followers if they have been noticing the positive changes surrounding mental illness and this is where the conversation went:

  • That openness and acceptance that you find in true friends who are willing to understand is more frequent
  • People aren’t simply locked up
  • Electro Shock therapy is not as cruel any more
  • When you go into a mental institution, they don’t through away the key
  • More people are talking about it
  • Social Media is giving us a platform to connect

And like one of our followers pointed out: “In the modern world mentally ill people don’t tend to be burned alive, so I’d say that’s progress” Yeah, I know it’s not much… but it is a start! It is a point where we can at least say “It is better” instead of always just holding on to the phrase “It gets better”. Yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg and there is still a lot of work to be done before we can celebrate… but at least for a moment, we need to stop and remember that it is already better.

We cannot allow ourselves to get so caught up in the things that frustrate us that we block ourselves off from the things that bring us hope.  We asked our followers what they would keep about the view that the world currently has of mental illness. There weren’t a lot…

  • I want to keep people who listen, who don’t judge
  • I want to keep the way social media is opening up communication
  • I want to keep the moments when someone understands that I don’t even understand it

Compared to the things we want to get rid of, the ones we want to keep seem miniscule but if you weigh them up, one moment of understanding can remove 10 moments of pain and judgement. Of course we can’t sit back and pretend that it’s all good right now or that it will get better by itself, it is up to us. So often we get caught up in what we cannot do or how many people still sit back in ignorance and judge us that we forget how powerful we are. We forget that we are not alone and that we have the power to make a difference. And not just any difference, THE DIFFERENCE. We get to be the difference we want to see in the world; we get to educate those around us and teach them to be more tolerable through open conversations.

As always, thank you to everyone who took the time to join our discussion and open up about these issues. We appreciate you more than you will ever know.

Switching minds

As I was waiting for some crucial information today, I passed our Easter Chocolate stand. Now from a procurement perspective, I love it! It is not often that we get to have a full range and diverse prices and a quantity I am semi-comfortable with (you can never really be 100% happy with your predicted sales quantity). From the EDNOS side of me, I really don’t like it… just sitting there smirking at me. One more reason to hate food and what it does to my body. But I digress, while I was rearranging some things to kill the time and not drive myself crazy by taping my fingers on the desk, I noticed that there has been a lot happening around me that I overlooked.

For instance, my old office section was extremely hostile today. SO much tension and anger that were just being bottled up instead of just talking about it. In my current office, we yell at each other or storm out or simply just talk about it. Whichever method we choose, you know exactly where you stand with us at any given point in time. This is something that is lacking from upstairs. So I switched offices, expecting to just have a better view (aka more control) over the people I am responsible for but as it turns out, this has resulted in a switching of mind sets to some extent. I have been able to remove myself from a hostile environment and then get a change of perspective not just on how I react in the work environment but also how we were being perceived upstairs. It was not good…

So I guess, sometimes in order to really see yourself, you need to not be yourself. Allowing myself to adapt with my environment has meant that I am capable of starting over again and designing a better version of myself. You know how you start out somewhere new and all of the flaws are so obvious that they just scream at you but as you change some things and fail at changing others, these issues lose their obvious nature and you end up stuck in a circle of mediocrity until someone else shows up and points out the flaws you are no longer able to see. Being around different people while doing the same job has resulted in a very different priority list and some things that use to take me forever to get done, now happen in seconds because I am in close proximity to the 3 people involved in the decision. Yes, there are some annoying factors like not always being in the management loop and having to play catch up a lot. Or being summoned upstairs when you have 6 people already waiting for you and then having to explain that you are not blowing off your Directors but rather prioritising their clients. And then there is this little issue where I feel like my I’m loosing my best friend because we’re both so busy that we simply can’t chat as often as we use to… deadlines suck.

But all in all it has been a great experience, kind off like hanging upside down on a jungle gym for the first time…

Sometimes you randomly look through the blogs of those who follow you and you stumble accross a gem… This is one of those!

katy avery

as a great majority of you know, music very often functions as my oxygen.

i write it, i sing it, i play it, i listen to it, i can’t get it out of my head. there’s just always a melody floating within the unreachable depths of my brain that i’m unable to write down, or a lyric that i can’t seem to perfect.

so now that we’ve established that the root of probably 72% of katy’s frustration issues stem from a musical basis (which i just thought you ought to be aware of, as an explanation i suppose, do you have any idea how terrible it is to not know how to express the melodic thoughts in your head?), i made something for you.

IMG_6106

yesterday, my dear aspiring-producer of a friend over at Burbank Music Project, proposed the idea of recording a song extremely different than what i’m used…

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Reality of Recovery

There are so many people still suffering in silence. That’s more astonishing when you consider how many people use the internet every single day and have access to knowledge and support and help, yet it does not always seem like enough.

One of our aims with Don’t Lose Your Grip is to give others who are going through or have been through the struggles that we are facing a platform to speak openly and honestly and most importantly in a judgment free environment. Our weekly #TopicsToDiscuss does just this.

Tonight we back to our routes a bit and reminded our followers that we do these discussions because we have been there… It really is that simple, we have been in similar situations and we want know how much opening up about these issues that are considered taboo has meant for our recovery.

From a personal perspective: I haven’t really been eating in a healthy manner and I can feel it throughout my body. I can feel my energy levels dwindling and my control slowly dissolving. I know that this is not acceptable and that I can’t go back to the beginning of my eating disorder struggle. I can’t go through all of this pain and loneliness again. I can’t start all over again. I can’t give up all of my triumphs in one foul sweep. I simply can’t! For the last week I have been eating only my 3 favourite foods. And only eating half portions… This scares me. I know how hard I have worked to get to this point of not allowing my eating habits to control me; I know how many times I cried and begged for help without anyone being able to read the signs and I don’t want to go through it again; I don’t want to go back to that lonely place where I hate myself.

By now I’ve realized that I am not alone in my struggle and whatever I’m going through, there is probably someone else out there who feels to same. So we asked our followers to share their recovery fears with us. These were some of their fears 

–          Not knowing when you will relapse

–          Fearing the relapse

–          Not knowing if it will ever happen again

–           The fear of losing my strength

–          That doubt in my mind that I never did fully recover and it will happen again

–          The fear that I’ll never actually beat it, that it’ll just be sitting there waiting for me to mess up again

It comes down to realizing that there is still so much about eating disorders that people have not been able to articulate or understand. These are all things that you won’t find on a recovery pamphlet. People don’t talk about the reality of recovery openly enough. This sets us up for a dangerous fall because we have no idea what to expect and that builds so much anxiety and fear. We need to talk about these issues more openly! We really need to get to a stage where people do not judge you for the label of your disorder.

And then, as soon as you open up about your disorder, everyone wants to ‘fix’ you. And as they through their ignorant comments about, they don’t realize that they are actually hurting you a lot more. This is why we asked our followers what the worst advice was that they have received regarding their eating disorders. This is what they shared

–          “You’re doing it for attention; you’re being so selfish”

–          “Just get over it”

–          “Just eat one”

–          “you need to get some chips inside you”

–          “You’ve got to have SOMETHING!”

–          “When you’re at work, leave your issues outside”

–          “Go on a diet”

–          “your being pathetic now, grow up”

–          “you are too fat to have had an ED”

There were a few extra implying that you can just switch your disorder on or off whenever you feel like it. Plus a few where they were told that it was their choice to suffer from an eating disorder. These ignorant comments saddens me… if you do not understand what someone is going through, don’t patronise them by spewing out the first phrase that comes to mind. If you really want to help, give them a hug and tell them the truth: tell them that you don’t understand and that you just don’t get it. At least that way we have the opportunity to give you more information and let you in on the other side of ED; the side that no one really talks about.

One of our followers commented that some think we do it for attention. So when people die from EDs, is that for attention seeking too? It really hit home how much these simple little phrases can affect our choices and lives. Simply by allowing an ignorant and negative comment in, we’re placing ourselves at risk. Going on a diet to reduce the amount of food intake or your weight can result in an over correction and lead to anorexia or bulimia and all the way back to over eating again. Finding a balance is hard under any circumstances but when you have this shadow of an ED constantly following you around; it makes the subject a lot more sensitive. When someone mentions food, your mind automatically races to figure out what they are implying about you; how this mention of food will affect you and what everyone else expects you to do about it or how they expect you to react to it… That is a lot of thought that goes into just one bite. There is a lot more to an eating disorder than just eating.

The emotions that are involved are far more powerful than the physical aspects. The scars that we hind behind our ED are the ones that last the longest and you can be on the healthiest eating plan in the world but if you do not take care of the emotions behind it, you cannot succeed. We asked our followers which things have resulted in their relapses. These were just a few

–          SCALES!!!! They always renew the obsession with getting on multiple times a day

–          Magazines like Vanity Fair which forces the idea that being super, dangerously skinny is beauty

–          Too many bills to pay and pressure of everyday life

–          Normalisation of junk food always tells me I’ll be able to eat it this time… because other people can

Realising that the things that most people do not give a second thought to affects you this much is tough… Trying to remove them from your life or finding ways around the pressure is just as tough and when you have to do all of this while being judged, it a hundred times worst. That lead us to ask what has helped our followers find the strength to keep fighting and we got two very clear answers

–          Support from friends or family

–          Music

Having someone who can remind you of all of your strength and beauty when you cannot see it, is extremely powerful. Having someone to go to when nothing makes sense is very useful and knowing that you can build up a relationship of trust where they see you for more than just your diagnosis, is truly amazing. Support is a big part of recovery.

We have been big advocates of the power of music from the get go. We have always believed that music is just one more way to express how you feel and remind you that someone else has also been there and experienced the same trials and emotions and they made it… If they can do it, so can you. Music gives hope when words fail. Also the reason we’re dedicating our #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competition to #20DaysOfRae by Rae Earl.

So what did this 2hour conversation between friends in a safe environment mean? Well, maybe nothing to you… But for me, it was great to talk about the things that society tells me to keep secret and it is nice to be reminded that you are not alone every once in a while. It validates the feelings I have by showing me that I am not the odd one out. It reminds me that I have a lot of support.

Ok, so it’s not exactly a world changing event but it’s a start… It’s a place for people to express what’s on their mind without being afraid of the judgement and everyone is welcome.