Personal

My Eating Disorder Story

This is a bit of a different blogging direction, but I am passionate about erasing the taboo of mental illness and value honesty and raising awareness.

So I decided to write a (fairly lengthy) post outlining my experience with eating disorders. 


I want to encourage others to do the same as I think accepting your past is the first step in changing your future. 


I also believe that no one should be ashamed of their struggles, and I have worked too hard in recovery to not tell my story.  
So, here goes; let me know what you think in the comments!








I was always a stick-thin child and pre-teen, because despite eating whatever I wanted (my mother has worked in eating disorders for decades so we were a firmly anti-diet household), I was extremely active and hated sitting still. I really enjoyed dance, ballet in particular, and fashion (which I went on to pursue as a career) but until I was around 12 or 13 years old, I ignored the pressure of body image that these aesthetically focussed activities encouraged, instead honing my perfectionist tendencies into school work and social life.

One afternoon whilst at the local gym with my friends, I stepped upon the weighing scale, something I had never done before and immediately compared it to my friends, who were much shorter than me (I have always been the freakishly tall friend!). I had no knowledge then of BMI (body mass index) and the first thought that hit me was that I was too heavy, despite actually being borderline underweight. The feelings of taking up too much space in the world heightened day by day, and it wasn’t long before I decided to go on a diet so I could start to disappear from the too loud, too tall, too fat person I had become. I wanted to be dainty and delicate like my friends, who I constantly compared myself to throughout my time at an all-girls high school.

I began to cut out the sweet treats between meals, skipped dessert and takeaways, and started upping my exercise. I discovered meticulous calorie counting, which proceeded to take over my life until the present day. No one noticed though, as I was still fairly healthy, and I wouldn’t say I had a clinical eating disorder yet, but the seeds had definitely been planted; I learnt that I could control what I looked like and lie to those around me to get what I want. My bedroom was plastered in reminders of what not to eat, what my daily exercise routine was and names of people I wanted to be as thin as. Simultaneously, a rather toxic friendship at the time moved into a relationship of deceit and dieting, and my group became increasingly infected with the dangers of anorexia, depression and self harm.

It wasn’t until the start of 2012 (at 15 years old) that I was officially diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, by a GP that my parents had dragged me to, much to my dismay. By this time I was eating no more than one measly meal a day and became literally addicted to caffeine; consuming over and above 2 litres of diet coke and 6 black coffees and teas to suppress my ever-increasing hunger. It was as if my little secret was finally out, and control had been lost.  In reaction, I further embraced my demons and sunk to my lowest ever weight, and cut out all happiness from my life; isolating myself from friends and family. I was obsessed with forcing others to eat more and be healthy, baking cakes for school every day and even dictating the calorie intake of people around me. All I could think about was my weight and if it wasn’t going in the direction I wanted, my extreme anxiety and panic attacks took over. I also discovered pro anorexia websites and got far too involved in the horrible online world of the extremely skinny, and continued obsessively exercising in secret any time i could, refusing to rest.

After a few months of this torture, I was referred to CAMHS, the young people’s eating disorder service. I was provided with a support worker and doctor but at the time I refused any help; still in deep denial that anything was wrong. Several weight checks, blood tests and ECGs later, it became apparent that if things didn’t change soon, I was going to die. I was put on a waiting list for inpatient hospital treatment. This terrified me as I wasn’t ready to let go,so I tried to gain weight and as a result discovered binge eating. However, it wasn’t enough, and I was finally admitted in June to a facility in Maidenhead/Kent; a long distance from my home making it extremely trying for my family. Told I would be there just 6 weeks, but was then referred to another hospital near Birmingham (so closer to home), and stayed there for 6 months, discharging myself against medical advice on my 16th birthday. My experiences in inpatient treatment were extremely traumatic; I think it would need a whole day to talk about it all, but long story short, it didn’t help me. I gained the weight back, but as soon as I was back in the community and back to my final year of high school, I immediately lost it all again.

This time was different. I knew the dangers of my disease, I knew what I was doing, but I couldn’t control it. I wanted to get better, but I couldn’t; I was trapped. I continued to starve myself, interspersed with binge eating, and developed depression with self-harming, stemming from my loneliness and despair. Also, my family were in pieces, with my Dad living in Edinburgh, my sister in Stirling and my mum left alone to desperately help manage my disorder. Due to various age limits, I wasn’t getting any professional help, but on 1st May 2013, I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and sent to another specialist hospital. This was the worst day of my life and always will be. I still get flashbacks of that trauma. But as soon as I was admitted to hospital, I fought hard to get out. I had an advocate supporting me, and I proved to the staff that I could eat properly and rest and take care of my mental health. My family had decided to move to Edinburgh later  that summer after my exams were finished, so my consultant had no choice but to relieve my section. I was lucky to be able to start afresh in a new place, with sufficient outpatient treatment and a chance to reinvent myself. I had a taste of freedom for the first time in my life.

The next few years were a complete rollercoaster. I moved countries, made a bunch of new friends and started studying at a new place. I got various different part time jobs and immersed myself into fashion and blogging. The trouble was, I never dealt with my issues by distracting myself with real life, and the disordered eating continued. I maintained a low weight for a couple of years, but after launching into a more independent lifestyle without my parent’s support, some travelling abroad I did in the summer of 2014 pushed me over the edge. This time, I had lost weight, but through bulimia, and on my return medical professionals encouraged me to take a break from work and recover. I intended to go to university that year, but it was clear I wasn’t ready so I took a gap year. 

steadily re-gained my weight from that relapse, and got back into the swing of life, but my bulimic behaviours and depression continued, despite adult outpatient treatment, sufficient diet and medication. It was early 2015 that things finally started to look up. I met someone I am now truly in love with, and I finally felt happy and stable. However, during that summer I travelled alone again and things slipped downhill, with constant bingeing and purging. When September came and I was a fresher at university in Aberdeen, it was clear I wasn’t going to last long, as my physical and mental health went rapidly downhill when living alone, despite being well over a healthy weight. Along with many other factors, this led me to defer my studies and I am now back in Edinburgh attempting recovery yet again, with the help of therapy and loved ones. I have a long way to go yet, but I finally feel more positive about the future.

I hope my story shows that no matter how many times an eating disorder knocks you down, as long as you never give up, you will get there.

// Comments Off on My Eating Disorder Story

Adventures in Brighton


Dangerously Good Vintage Shopping, Amazing Vegan Brunches, Windy Coastal Walks and some Banging Nightlife…..


I just spent a long weekend in one of my favourite cities, Brighton, and thought I’d do a quick post with some must-do activities that everyone should do there.


Despite Storm Imogen raging her way through the town and not to mention a 10 hour megabus journey, I had the most fantastic time with friends and will never stop revisiting this seaside mecca.





Vintage shopping



Snooper’s Paradise is exactly what is says on the tin. If you love searching for retro bargains, antiques, unique fashion, records and homewares, this is the place for you.

Brunch

We ate a hell of a lot of fantastic breakfasts on our wee holiday, from full Vegan fry-ups to delicious avocado toast and of course pancake day!


Coast walks


As previously mentioned, the weather was quite horrendous, but that didn’t stop Skye, Toni and I from yomping down the pebbled beaches of Brighton. The Pier is a must see too, for your traditional fish n chips, ice creams , rides and arcade games.




Nightlife


 Most nights we stayed in and drunk wine together with some great music, to catch up with old friends, but also went out to explore the pubs, bars, nightclubs and music venues of the city. The Laines are full of exciting new night-time territory for young people.






Ruth @ Urbanity xxx



// Comments Off on Adventures in Brighton

Moving to Scotland

It’s been nearly 3 years since I moved from Birmingham to beautiful Edinburgh, and lately I’ve been reflecting a lot on how it’s changed me and my lifestyle. It was a huge culture shock, more than I had originally thought, but I think I finally feel more at home than ever despite being the kind of person that never likes to settle in one place, mentally and physically, for too long. I thought I’d do a list of 4 things that moving to Scotland changed in me or that I found interesting, which may be relatable for other ex-pats out there! 









1. Och Aye! Personally I am a huge lover of Buzzfeed articles like this one that humorously describe the differences in language and dialect! In fact, when I did my final year of High School up here, I had to ask a classmate to write me a mini-glossary of Scottish slang as I had no clue what anyone was on about, plus moving to Aberdeen for university last year brought yet another onslaught of new words and phrases. When I go back to England, friends and family often laugh at me for saying ‘wee’, ‘aye’ and other little Scot-isms! I never thought I would catch on so easily.


2. Diet and Exercise. Despite all stereotypes, I swear that Edinburgh residents exercise a lot more than you think. It shocked me how little my friends drive or take the bus, and after a while I found myself walking nearly everywhere, whether that be a trek up Arthur’s seat, or to a nightclub! In terms of food, I couldn’t believe how much meat Scots consume, with just about every cafe serving bacon, haggis, lorne sausage, scotch pies and black pudding. Also, I had to adjust to getting ‘salt n sauce’ on my after-party chips and try the dreaded Irn Bru. But I’ve also discovered a huge vegan community here as well as loads of lovely organic cafes and health food stores!

3. Lack of diversity. I can’t deny that I was truly shocked at the contrast between my old and new cities in terms of racial diversity. Moving from multi cultural Birmingham, I couldn’t get over the blanket of white Scots that inhabit Edinburgh, and I know that other Scottish towns, particularly in rural areas are even less diverse. In fact, only 4% of Scots are of minority ethnic origin, compared with around 14% in England.



4. Creative Community. From Scot Street Style to the Edinburgh Bloggers, from Scotland Redesigned to The Scottish Design Exchange, from Ed Fashion to LS Productions, and all the other wonderful Scottish people and organisations involved in the arts and fashion industry; I can’t get over the amazing momentum that is happening; moving away from London-centric projects and towards a focus on locals. I have loved being involved in so many fantastic movements and opportunities that I wouldn’t have got back home. Less competition, more support and more community-spirit! 





Ruth @ Urbanity xxx 

// Comments Off on Moving to Scotland

Fashion Burnout



These are just some of the headlines that have hit the news in the past few weeks, and in the wake of legendary Scottish fashion designer Jonathan Saunders resigning and closing his label, I wanted to open the discussion about this very real problem.




In the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival this summer, I went to a public talk celebrating the late great Louise Wilson, and Saunders was one of the panellists. His passion for good quality fashion education and for the creative industries across Britain was inspiring. It is not only his designs that were awe-inspiring, but his personality too. The industry is mourning the loss of his label, and mulling over the pile-up of other designers leaving their lucrative careers due to personal issues; Alexander Wang, Raf Simons, Alber Elbaz, just to name a few.



I recently watched Dior and I on Netflix and it truly shocked me how hard these couturiers have to work. The stress put on creative directors to create and curate flawless collections under the pressure of time, reputation and the press, is clearly becoming too much. I also attended a guest lecture by Kenny Wilson of Cath Kidston last week and he spoke extensively about the effects of a high-flying career on relationships. Is there really a need for such fast fashion, when personal lives pay the price?

And its not just the big names that are suffering too. On a more personal level, last month it suddenly hit me- I am not happy. Studying fashion at university is insightful, interesting and valuable, but the increasing pressure of personal issues and mental illness has made it impossible to enjoy, or achieve my full potential. Sometimes, we have to put ourselves first, and a year out back home seemed like my best option. Overall, I am a huge advocate of happiness, and as much as I adore the fashion industry and will continue to immerse myself in it, sometimes it limits our ability to be truly content. 

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

// Comments Off on Fashion Burnout

Body Positivity


I  have suffered immensely throughout my life with my body image; whether that be my height, weight, shape, size, facial features, hair, skin or whatever else my negative brain decides to hassle me about. But I am working to combat this though various techniques, which I will outline below (click read more to see my 5 ways of dealing with bad body image days. Disclaimer: This has several shameless selfies in a futile attempt at self love. For more bad photography, follow my personal instagram @urbanity_blog !






As Drake would say, you only live once. Life is too short to let what you feel is ‘wrong’ about how you look and how others may or may not perceive it affect the important things in life, like your ambitions, achievements, relationships and most importantly your happiness and health. But sometimes the wee monsters in our head don’t care about who we are on the inside and project both our insecurities and the pressure of society’s body ideals onto our exterior (which- and this is a top secret here- is actually just a vessel for your inner soul; that’s what really matters.) and here are my two cents on how to manage when they do…


  1. Treat. Yo. Self. A phrase coined by Parks and Recreation (most hilarious show on Netflix) but it rings true. Feeling a little blue? Book a massage or a facial (I recommend Pure Spa) to really take your mind off things, or order that pair of Jefferey’s from Nasty Gal you’ve been lusting after. May not be a long-term solution but it will certainly give you a boost!
  2. If feeling ‘fat’ is the issue, you may just be a little bloated, whether its too much food/ certain types of food, such as salty things like sushi and ramen or heavy carbs like white pasta and potatoes. Instead of dwelling on what you ate, try distracting yourself, with a movie marathon or phone call with a friend. You can also help remedy the bloating with peppermint tea (my saviour!) or gentle yoga- cat,cobra,pigeon,frog,happy baby and downward dog poses all really help! If you’re a newbie, subscribe to Tara Stiles on youtube for tutorials.
  3. Dress for your shape! Nothing makes me feel good like putting on my favourite outfit. But first you have to know that not every look is made for every body, and no one, not even supermodels, will be flattered by all clothes, so don’t put yourself down if that leather pencil skirt-halter tank combo makes you look like a stripping orca. On my bad body days, I love throwing on leggings and a baggy jumper, or using layering to trick the eye, like with scarfs and jackets over a different length of dress or skirt. http://www.whowhatwear.co.uk/how-to-dress-for-body-type-pear-apple-hourglass is a great resource for body-dressing tips.
  4. Make a list (fun fact about me- I live by lists). Draw three columns- Acheivements, Strengths, Goals. In here could go things like “I helped a relative move house” , “I’m great at cooking” and “I want to get a promotion”. Basically, you are writing down the amazing things about you and showing the huge future ahead of you but in an easy way that won’t make you feel egotistical. Trust me, it will put things in persepective.
  5. Finally, look up. What do you see? I just did this, and I saw through the skylight in my little box-room at university. I saw clouds, tree tops, and the little feet of a bird pattering about. I saw autumn leaves scattered on the window. I also saw heart-shaped bunting hung high up on my walls, and I saw an inspirational message written on my whiteboard by my wonderful boyfriend. My point is, things are different when you realise what surrounds you. Step outside of yourself for just 30 seconds and you will realise that no matter how ‘huge’ or ‘ugly’ or whatever you feel, people love you, and the world continues spinning.







Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

    // Comments Off on Body Positivity