For the past few months I have been working on something really very exciting, (for me and a few others so far at least). I’ve banged on about it before, mentioned it a few times, but I think that FINALLY, it’s actually happening. Myself, along with a group of loyal and determined very close friends, namely: Thea, Jessie, Grace and Beth (for now, but we would always love to hear from anyone else who would like to get involved), are starting a charity, which we hope will work to bring workshops to schools and other organizations that educate people about eating disorders and promote positive body image. You only have to have a look through my archive to see my opinion on the importance of positive body image and the effect ‘body bashing’ has on us all. Enough ranting, we want to make things change. The second stage of our plan (for world domination etc), is to have the means to provide alternative therapies and treats for those who are being treated for eating disorders in hospital. To some, the idea of sending a manicurist on to a ward may seem a bit extravagant, but I can personally sing from the hills the benefits of such ‘treats’. When you are in hospital, feeling pretty trapped, being abused by your brain and forced to eat and eat and eat (which then results in more abuse from your brain), it can be pretty miserable. It’s likely you feel crap about yourself, I know I did. Eating disorders both physically and mentally diminish those with whom they infest. I really ‘let myself go’ at first. I’d just wander around the ward in my Pajamas, hair messy and no make up. It can seem to some that my apparent disinterest in my appearance showed progress, but it was quite the opposite. It wasn’t that I had no interest in my appearance, and I did not develop anorexia because I’m an egotistical, image obsessed young woman, it was simply that I didn’t feel worth anything at that point. I definitely didn’t feel worth pampering and looking after. This is quite common during treatment and the therapists and nurses on the ward often try to help us look after ourselves a bit, because they see the value of each person. It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy if you think about it. You have an Eating Disorder and eating makes you feel disgusting=you stop taking care of yourself, so you actually are not at your best! Anorexia is one crafty character. So, in comes our phase 2. Little treats provided for those on the ward to make a person feel a little better (we hope) and give something to look forward to that breaks up the repetitive eating. We’d also hope that it would bring patients together, doing something totally unrelated to their illness, which I firmly believe is healthy. I mentioned my friend Beth earlier in the post.
Now, Beth is a lovely lady that I actually met on the ward when we were both ‘inmates’. Sometimes, cultivating relationships with those you meet whilst a patient isn’t that helpful, as other’s struggling can trigger your own. However, as you can tell from the fact that I asked Beth if she’d be involved (and when we are actually registered, a trustee), with the charity, you can tell this is not how I feel about her. Whilst ‘locked up’, I managed to make a connection with Beth about things other than not-eating. We are both out now, and although neither is healthy (yet) and each day is still a struggle, the fact that we have been able to maintain a relationship that is not unhealthy is largely due to our perseverance of un-anorexia related activities in hospital. The evenings quite often became pretty fun, especially after ‘night-snack’ (yes laugh, you regress to primary school), when the day of eating was over and we only had tomorrow to worry about. In fact, an outsider might even mistake, if shown the scenes, us crazies for a normal girly (and Finnbee) sleepover (granted, a sleepover of the emaciated). We’d stay up, watch films, do each others nails. Now Beth and I meet up and go clubbing. It was Beth, Finn, Chiara, Chan, Ruth, Rae and Kay (to name just a few, there were so many pretty fantastic patients when I was in), and our perseverance of sticking on a movie, or painting each others nails, or talking about boys (and all the other stereotypical things associated with being a girl) that got me through. Setting up activities within the wards, especially at the weekends, which can be far more quiet and depressing will help build healthy bonds and help people find commonalities other than anorexia. I honestly believe that will help people to keep persevering, and remind them that there is a lot more outside and life should be lived. I feel an incredible bond with those whom I became friends with in hospital, in a way that I suspect you only really can develop when you meet people in such a circumstance. They have all seen me at my worst, being totally irrational, hysterical, hiding bloody sausage hot pot in slippers (not naming any names ehum ehum, but more importantly, even after all the tears had been shed and the meal had been eaten, we’d come together as people, not as anorexics. The unity of the ‘real people’ underneath anorexia is a very strong thing indeed and can massively motivate a healthier attitude. I hope that our treats and therapies can help other people find a Beth, Finn etc etc.
So, they are our 2 goals, but before we can do any of that we need to have the means to get this show on the road. We need to become a registered charity and we need to set up a website. Once we’ve done that, then we can start properly developing our workshops to offer to groups and then, a bit further down the line, liaising with wards and offering the odd mood-booster. We are currently in the process of planning our launch event, a charity ball (watch this space), but want to get going with our web design and registry. I did not realize that registering a charity takes cold hard cash if you don’t happen to know someone who knows about charity law (I don’t, but if you do PLEASE CONTACT US). Building a website is also no easy task. I tried. I failed. It made me mad. So we also need to raise the funds to help us to do that. So, here is where the awkward bit appears…will you please help by donating some money to our rockethub page? We have a couple of offerings in return, plus you will get that golden glow of goodness! It’s in dollars, as I’m slightly technically challenged (why did I think I may be able to design a website?!), so bare that in mind when choosing how you will help us, as the dollar is pretty weak at the moment. ($10 is £5.84 at this minute).
Thank you so so much in advance. It really means the World, plus having this to work on is really great to settle my mind a little. I hope that we can do some good things that might help prevent others falling as far down the rabbit hole as I have, because it’s a bloody nightmare scrambling out. And for those who have already fallen, aid them in their mountainous journey.