Here’s my latest piece on The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/claire-greaves-/the-secret-side-of-eating-disorders_b_7428768.html It was probably one of the hardest and scariest posts I have ever written but the silence on binge eating needs to be broken. If any of my readers are struggling with binge eating then I hope you find some comfort or something of use in this article. You are not alone, I promise you that.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and something I would really like people to be aware of is the blindfold of mental illness. When I look back to the worst times in my mental illness it was like I was being blinded, almost like I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t see the positives in my life nor what I looked like. I especially couldn’t see my future. All I could see was darkness and the distressing images that mental illness placed in my mind.
I would watch TV in silence but I wasn’t really watching it, it just became something to stare at whilst the distressing thoughts and images bombarded my mind. I barely noticed the time, I rarely knew the date. If I did manage to leave the house and do anything then I wouldn’t remember it the next day. I was lost. Blindfolded. Unable to see anything other than what my illness wanted me to see.
It frustrates me when people try to tell those with mental illness that they have nothing to be sad about because they have so many great things in their life such as family, money or a nice home. It frustrates because it is an illness and unfortunately having a nice home does not automatically give you perfect health but also telling me that my life is good when my illness is blindfolding me is not helpful. I might have a nice home but I cannot stand that my soul resides in my body. I may have a family but I feel like a huge burden and disappointment to them. I may be fortunate enough to have a fridge full of food but anorexia pushes me to contemplate suicide with every bite. I may live in a beautiful part of the world but if I am too poorly to leave the house or I am sectioned and in hospital then living in a beautiful part of the world holds no relevance because I cannot see it.
It can be horrible and incredibly isolating to live with the blindfold of mental illness upon you. I know what it’s like to long to be okay again and to want to be a part of the world around you like you once were. I know that it can feel permanent and it can blind you to the point that you don’t want to live your life any longer. Maybe you aren’t even sure what your life is outside of mental illness but I promise you this, it is possible to take that blindfold off. It might take a while and you might need some help but one day you will feel the waves of the sea against your ankles or watch colourful fireworks bursting in the sky and you will feel okay again.
Mindfulness can help to take the blindfold of mental illness off, even if it’s just for a moment. Drop a bath bomb into the bath and watch the colours swishing around the water. Sit on the beach and feel the sand on your toes. Listen to a song and focus on the lyrics. Most importantly remember that nothing in life is permanent, especially not the blindfold of mental illness.
Last week there was a feature written about me in a real life magazine, the magazine gave me a read through on the phone and then unfortunately added things into the article that I was extremely unhappy with. They wrote as a sub-headline that a brush with the law made me turn my life around, this was in regards to the night I spent in a cell under Section 136 of The Mental Health Act. The police were there in a caring capacity, I did not have a brush with the law and that night was traumatic, it did not turn my life around! As well as this they included numbers around my eating disorder which many people know I am strongly against and would never agree to and then they quoted me in a text box saying, “I wanted to commit suicide” which is the wrong wording because suicide is not a crime, people do not ‘commit’ suicide!
The magazine used my story to twist and turn it into something juicy but in the process they stigmatised and criminalised mental illness and so I wrote an open letter to jounalists on The Huffington Post which can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/claire-greaves-/mental-health-journalism_b_7232304.html
I really hope that journalists take note, they have an excellent platform to speak out and make real change happen. They need to use their position, not abuse it.