How To Know If You Have An Eating Disorder And What To Do About It by Brooke Chaplan

(image: Unsplash)

Eating disorders come in many shapes and sizes. They can be hard to identify, as they can develop slowly over time, or they can be immediately apparent. Knowing the symptoms of an eating disorder and understanding the best way to seek help is important in order to help those who are suffering from these illnesses.  

Signs of an Eating Disorder 

Eating disorders often manifest themselves through physical changes in appearance, as well as psychological changes such as mood swings, isolation, and feelings of guilt or shame. There are a few signs that may indicate someone is struggling with an eating disorder:  

  • Dramatic changes in weight or body shape (either gaining or losing weight suddenly)  
  • Avoiding social situations where food is involved  
  • Obsessive counting of calories or talking about dieting constantly  
  • Obsessive exercising (working out excessively even when injured)  
  • Preoccupation with food, body image, and weight gain/loss  
  • Negative self-talk (criticizing one’s own body image)  

If you have any reason to believe that someone you care about has an eating disorder, it’s important to get them help right away. The longer someone goes without treatment for an eating disorder, the more difficult it becomes for that person to overcome the illness

It’s also important to remember that a person doesn’t need to show all the signs listed above for it to be considered an eating disorder; if you suspect something is wrong, trust your instincts and reach out for help.  

Seeking Treatment for Eating Disorders   

If you think someone may have an eating disorder it’s important not to ignore the warning signs. The best course of action is always to seek professional medical advice. A psychiatrist or therapist will be able to diagnose any underlying issues and recommend treatment options based on their experience and expertise.

Treatment options for eating disorders vary depending on the individual but typically include some combination of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or other therapies, medication management, nutrition counselling, and lifestyle coaching. It’s essential that individuals receive support from family members during treatment so they can stay focused on their recovery journey.  

Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that require professional medical attention in order to be treated properly. If you think someone might have an eating disorder it’s important not to ignore the warning signs but rather seek professional advice right away in order for the individual to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored specifically for them.

With proper treatment, individuals with eating disorders can learn how to manage their mental health around food, body image, and emotional well-being so they can live a healthy life.

This article was written by freelance writer Brooke Chaplan.

How To Tell If You Or A Loved One Needs Psychiatric Help by Brooke Chaplan.

(image: free image)

Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental illness in order to get help as soon as possible. Knowing what to look for can be tricky, so here are some common warning signs that you or a loved one may need psychiatric help.  

Unexplained Changes in Mood and Behaviour  

One of the most common signs of mental illness is a sudden and unexplained change in mood or behaviour. This could include changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, energy levels, attitude towards others, or motivation levels. If you notice any sudden shifts in these areas that last more than two weeks and cannot be attributed to a specific event or life change, it may indicate an underlying mental health issue.  

Negative Self-Talk or Rumination  

Another sign that someone needs professional help is if they frequently engage in negative self-talk or ruminate on the same thoughts over and over again. For example, if they often say things like “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do anything right” without any basis for those statements, this could be a sign that something more serious is going on beneath the surface. Additionally, if someone spends hours every day thinking about their mistakes from the past without being able to move forward—this could also be an indication that professional help is necessary.  

Isolation from Friends and Family  

Finally, if someone begins isolating themselves from friends and family members more often than usual—or does not seem interested in having conversations with them—this could be another indicator that something more serious is happening mentally. It’s normal for people to want some alone time once in a while—but if you notice your loved one consistently avoiding social activities and interactions with others over long periods of time—it may mean they need extra emotional support from a professional psychiatrist before they can get back on track.   

Other Behaviours

Other behaviours you should watch out for is frequent tearfulness, self harm thoughts or ideas, suicidal thoughts and ideation- as this indicates someone is reaching a crisis point with their mental health. In some there may be an increase in activity or mania. This can lead to psychosis- where your mind loses touch with reality, common in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (but can also happen outside these conditions).

Mental health issues are complex and often difficult to recognise at first glance. However, it’s important to understand that early intervention can make all the difference when it comes to managing mental illness effectively. If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or a loved one—don’t hesitate to reach out for help!

Professional psychiatric services should always be sought out when necessary as this will create better outcomes for everyone involved in the long run. In the UK, that may be via the NHS but due to overwhelmed services, if you can afford private treatment, go down this route as it will be quicker!

This article was. written by Brooke Chaplan, freelance writer.

Emotional Eating: How To Manage Triggers By Lizzie Weakley.

(image: Roamincolor at Unsplash)

Do you find yourself reaching for food to fill an emotional void? Do you often find yourself snacking out of boredom or anxiety? Emotional eating is a common problem that many people struggle with, but it doesn’t have to be something that controls your life. Here are some tips and strategies for managing emotional eating triggers and developing healthy habits.

Identifying Your Triggers

The first step in overcoming emotional eating is to identify the triggers that lead to it. Everyone has different triggers, so it is important to take the time and reflect on what causes you to turn to food when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Some of the most common triggers include boredom, stress, loneliness, sadness, anger, fatigue, and anxiety. Once you have identified your particular triggers, then you can start taking steps towards addressing them.

Learning New Coping Mechanisms

The next step is to learn new coping mechanisms that allow you to manage these emotions without turning to food. This could be physical activities such as going for a walk or jog, doing yoga, or any other type of exercise that helps reduce stress levels.

It could also be trying out mindfulness techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises which can help centre your thoughts and help clear out negative feelings. Other methods could include talking with friends or writing down your thoughts in a journal in order to gain some clarity about why you are feeling certain emotions and how best to work through them.

Taking an Online Coaching Course

Finally, another great way of managing emotional eating triggers is by taking an online emotional eating coaching course designed specifically for this purpose. An online coaching course can provide the guidance needed in order to make meaningful lifestyle changes that will help overcome emotional eating patterns over time. The course will provide tips on how best to manage cravings and difficult emotions while also teaching techniques on how best to maintain healthy habits long-term while learning positive self-care practices along the way.

Emotional eating can be a difficult habit to break but with the right strategies in place, it can become manageable over time! Taking the steps outlined above such as identifying your triggers, learning new coping mechanisms, and taking an online coaching course are all great ways of helping manage emotional eating triggers while developing healthier habits along the way. With dedication and effort this problem can improve significantly!

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer.

4 Ways To Treat An Eating Disorder by Lizzie Weakley

(image: M, Unsplash)

There are several types of eating disorders, each with a unique set of symptoms and struggles. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, you don’t have to face it alone. There are many options for treatment, and plenty of compassionate professionals who are willing and able to help.

Here are four ways to treat an eating disorder that can help.

Treatment for Physical Symptoms

If the eating disorder has been present for a long time, you may have developed some physical symptoms that need to be addressed. Dental problems, nutrient deficiencies, trouble with digestion, high blood pressure, and amenorrhea are common in people with eating disorders. You should seek professional medical care to diagnose and treat physical symptoms as soon as possible.

Therapy and Programs for Mental Health

Certain types of therapies have been proven effective for the treatment of eating disorders and mental health issues that contribute to them. Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most common treatment options for eating disorders. Therapy can be done in a group setting or one-on-one with a therapist to help the patient develop healthier eating patterns. Your doctor may also recommend residential or day treatment programs to help you recover more effectively and different types of therapy too.

Education about Nutrition- Managing Triggers

Getting properly educated about food can help tremendously when you are recovering from an eating disorder. Many of us have preconceived notions about good and bad foods, and there can be a lot of guilt and shame associated with the consumption of certain foods. A nutritionist can work with you to reduce your fear of food.. If certain foods trigger you, your nutritionist and therapist can help you to manage these triggers.

Medications

When combined with therapy, medications can be effective in the treatment of eating disorders. While medication can’t cure the disorder, it can help ease depression and anxiety that can contribute to disordered eating. Antidepressants are commonly used, and you may also be prescribed medications to treat physical symptoms. Your doctor will be able to tell you which medications are right for you, though it is trial and error.

Our relationship with food can directly impact our mental and physical health. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you should consider these effective treatment options.

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer.

Are Workplaces Doing Enough for Mental Health in a Post-Covid Era?

(image: Mateus Campos Felipe at Unsplash)

The global coronavirus pandemic brought mental health and personal wellbeing to the forefront of our working life. As more companies return to the office, employers need to think about whether or not they are doing enough to make mental health in the workplace a priority. We speak to consumer finance startup, CapitalBean.com, to get some insight.

Workplace Mental Health Post-Covid

“The coronavirus pandemic highlighted serious concerns regarding mental health and personal wellbeing,” explains Richard Allan of Capital Bean.

“With ongoing uncertainty and a heightened sense of risk, it could be argued that we were experiencing an unprecedented global mental health crisis, often with no end in sight.” 

From a workplace perspective especially, many workers were facing uncertainty regarding their job stability, redundancies and, for some, navigating an entirely new way of working and interacting with colleagues.”

“In response, many companies started to take employee mental health more seriously and implement frameworks and best practices; however, now that we are returning to normal and trying to leave Covid-19 in the past, what is the extent to which companies are keeping up with their commitment to employee mental health?”

The Return to the Office

During the Covid 19 pandemic, the majority of workers were learning how to do their jobs remotely. This presented a range of new challenges to navigate and loneliness was widely reported. Not only were people missing the daily social interactions with their colleagues, but they were also finding the blurred lines between home life and work life difficult to navigate – with people’s homes doubling up as their offices, many workers were finding it difficult to switch off and reported working more hours. 

Now that people are starting to return to the office, after adjusting to nearly three years of remote working, they are being faced with new challenges. People are finding the return to work difficult and reporting a great deal of anxiety regarding social interaction. In addition, after working from home, they are now having to juggle their home commitments alongside going to the office. Whether it is squeezing in laundry, balancing childcare, or even factoring in an extra hour for the commute, the return to the office is proving more difficult than expected for many and is causing stress and anxiety for some. Others prefer working from home, so there is a balance.

The Employer’s Role

Millions of workers are returning to the office or workplace with changed attitudes and new expectations. In order to attract and retain talent, it is important for employers to acknowledge this and respond empathetically. Many companies have included mental health in their promises to employees on return to the office but now it is their time to demonstrate that this is not merely lip service. 

Employers need to proactively introduce programmes that are promoting workplace mental wellbeing and help employees with the challenges that they are facing. It is important for workplaces to create a psychologically safe space for workers and welcome conversations surrounding mental health and support.

(image: Luis Villasmil at Unsplash)

The Great Resignation And Mental Health at Work

After the pandemic, more people than ever before started evaluating their working life and what their main priorities were. With new focus on mental wellbeing and work-life balance, workers started to question what their expectations were and what they required from their place of work. The great resignation, the mass exodus of millions of workers in 2021, left employers having to think about what they needed to offer workers to not only attract talent initially, but retain it. 

 Workers who were asked about the great resignation pinpointed lack of workplace communication, sense of belonging, employee-manager relationship and toxic environments all as reasons to leave their jobs. 

In a post-Covid era (and what should have been before this), it will fall to the employer to make sure their staff feel looked after, not just financially but also emotionally.

Employers need to make their employees feel like they are taken care of, respected and acknowledged, and that their personal wellbeing and mental health is a top priority. Going forward, this will be more important for jobseekers than free office lunches or staff drinks.

We all have mental health and it is vital this is acknowledged and cared for, and not ignored in the workplace.

This article contains links to partner organisations.

How To Know If You Have An Eating Disorder and What To Do Next by Rachelle Wilber

(image: Unsplash)

An estimated 45 million people in the United States (and many millions globally) go on a diet each year to try and shed extra pounds. While exercising and eating healthfully is important, obsessing over losing weight can turn into an eating disorder.

Eating disorders present in a variety of different forms such as bulimia, anorexia, and/or binge eating. Staying aware of the symptoms of an eating disorder and what you should do should you develop one can help you stay healthy.

Different Types of Eating Disorders

Though problems with food can manifest in different ways, there are three main types of eating disorders.

  • Bulimia: Those with bulimia typically eat large amounts of food and then purge the food afterward by vomiting or using laxatives
  • Anorexia: Those with anorexia avoid eating or eat extremely small amounts of food
  • Binge eating: Those with binge eating may eat large amounts of food in a short amount of time

Look for Common Symptoms of Eating Disorders

One of the best ways to determine if you have an eating disorder is by watching for symptoms in your own habits and behavior. These symptoms may also be noticed by your friends, family, or other loved ones. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Having a fear of gaining weight or growing fat
  • Withdrawing from activities with family and friends
  • Becoming secretive and lying about it
  • Experiencing anxiety and depression
  • Feeling an intense fear of certain foods, such as foods that are sweet or have high levels of fat
  • Obsessing over the number of calories and food eaten
  • Avoiding situations that involve food
  • Attempting to lose weight by purging, using laxatives or over-exercising
  • Weighing yourself daily or multiple times per day

If you suspect you have an eating disorder, know that you aren’t alone and that help is available. Be proud that you are taking the first step and seeking help. It may be helpful to identify ways that you are not feeling in control in your life and the way you feel around food.

Keeping a journal of these feelings is a great way to learn more about your habits and identify the feelings that triggered your eating disorder. Next, talk with your insurance company (if in the US) or NHS/ privately if in UK and seek out a reputable doctor for eating disorder treatment. There are many specialists, counsellors, and rehabilitation centers available who are highly experienced in helping people recover from their disorder. Please note that the NHS may have waiting lists but seeking help is so important to find recovery.

Having an eating disorder often means you feel a lot of shame about yourself and your eating habits. Talking with a doctor and/or therapist can help you let go of this shame so you can love yourself and take the first steps on your road to healing.

This article was written by freelance writer Rachelle Wilber.

Mental Health, Low Self Esteem, Body Image and Fashion.

(image: Freestocks at unsplash)

Fashion is a powerful force. It has the ability to make people feel confident, empowered, or at its worst horrible about themselves. It can have a positive impact on mental health and self-esteem if you find something pieces that make you feel good about yourselves. On the other hand, fashion can also have a negative impact on self-esteem and mental health if you’re constantly exposed to images and messages that make you feel inferior or unhappy with who you are. Especially with the inward turn of the pandemic, its hard for people to feel happy and confident about themselves.

The Psychology of Fashion

Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar industry and a big part of many people’s daily lives. It’s a subculture that’s easy to invest in. And, like any other trend, fashion comes and goes, so you’re always in control of how much you invest in it. The psychology of fashion reveals the different aspects of how fashion impacts people’s self-esteem. From the way people perceive others based on the way they’re dressed, to how people present themselves to the world by choosing outfits, fashion has a strong psychological effect on everyone.

Body Image

Our bodies are such an important part of life, and it’s normal to have some insecurities about them. Still, as you grow older, many people struggle with body dysmorphia or an unhealthy obsession with one’s appearance. Constant exposure to images of other people’s bodies that are unrealistic and unattainable can be harmful to your self-esteem, especially in young people who are still forming their self-image. This can lead to eating disorders, body dysmorphia, low self esteem and depression and anxiety. Looking at images of gorgeous models wearing clothes you can’t afford or fit in can makes you feel left out or confused. It’s fun to keep up with trends, but try to avoid getting stuck in a rut of hype culture.

(image: Hannah Morgan at Unsplash)

So what should I do?

You can’t ignore fashion and societal trends- but it’s important to not let fashion (or what is popular to wear) become something that defines who you are. It’s a fun accessory, something you should do for enjoyment, creativity, and confidence. For people who have found themselves struggling with their mental health due to the psychological effects on body image, it’s important to seek help. Talk to your friends and family members, or seek professional help if you need it. There are many ways to find happiness in style- whether you’re into vintage clothing, a specific designer, or a particular style like athleisure. You can read blogs with good recommendations, and wear things that you love, like that pair of perfect trainers or Men’s Off-White Hoodies. There’s something for everyone, and it’s important to have fun with it!

Fashion and societal expectations of how one should look can have a big impact on mental health, so it’s important to be mindful of it. It is also hard to be bombarded with negative messages on body image via social media. The body positive movement has sprung up because of this narrative- showing curvier models and embracing your flaws as beautiful.

There are also many ways to wear your favourite clothes in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, without negatively impacting your mental health. Focus on what makes you feel like the best version of yourself!

This article was written by a freelance writer and contains do follow links.

Starting The Conversation: 5 Tips On How To Talk To Your Boss About Your Mental Health

Image by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

According to new data from Mental Health Statistics, during 2020, 58% of workers experienced some kind of work-related stress, while 63% were experiencing moderate levels of anxiety. 

Health experts have warned, that if these mental health issues are left untreated, it can impact our day-to-day lives, including the ability to do our jobs. 

That’s why the team of experts at Delamere, have shared five ways to open up the conversation about mental health with your employer: 

  1. Find the Right Time and Place to Talk  

When approaching the conversation of mental health with your employer, one thing that will help is finding the right time to talk. Talking to your boss on a day when they seem overwhelmed might result in you not getting the best response, so make sure to schedule a call or an in-person conversation with them ahead of time.

As well as the right time, it’s also important to find an appropriate place to have the conversation. Find a place that will allow you to talk in a professional and calm way, and is a quiet space in your workplace. If somewhere suitable isn’t available you could also suggest meeting outside the office or even going for a walk. 

  1. Plan what you are going to say ahead of your meeting

Before speaking to your manager one of the best ways you can prepare is by planning what you want to discuss ahead of time. This will not only calm any nerves you might be having ahead of the conversation but will also ensure that you are only sharing what is needed to frame how your mental health is impacting your work.

Points you can prepare in advance could include, identifying tasks within your current role and workload that is making you stressed, reminding your boss of your achievements so that they remember you are more than capable, explaining what factors might need to change in order to help you.

  1. Decide Who To Speak To 

If you decide to open up to your employer about your mental health, consider who you will feel most comfortable having the conversation with. 

If you have a good relationship with one of your managers, it might be helpful talking to them about what you are going through. However, if you find that they aren’t very approachable, consider speaking to someone within your HR department that will be able to help you.

  1. Consider That Your Boss May be More Receptive Than You Think

Though talking about your mental health with your employer may feel like an uncomfortable situation, they may actually be more understanding than you anticipate them to be. 

Mental illness is very common illness and a lot of people, unfortunately, suffer from this in the workplace. So when you start the conversation, the chances are your boss or employer will have already had direct experience with dealing with it or even experienced it themselves. 

  1. Focus on Your Productivity and Ability to Work

To get the most out of your conversation with your employer, think beforehand about how your mental health is impacting your productivity and ability to work.

If you go into the meeting with this already prepared, the chances are you will have greater success coming up with solutions on how your employer can support you and what you need to get better. Whether it’s more flexible working hours or a lighter workload.

This article was written by Delamere residential addiction care.

New #ChangetheStory Campaign by Hope Virgo and The Hearts Minds and Genes Coalition shows rise in Eating Disorder Stereotypes.

(image: Change the Story Campaign)

#ChangeTheStory and Anybody and Everybody is a new campaign launched this month by The Hearts Minds and Genes Coalition which is chaired by Multi-Award winning campaigner and Author, Hope Virgo. Hope is a friend of mine who has campaigned for years for help for those with eating disorders and she is a force to be reckoned with and an amazing woman!

Eating disorders are serious, biologically based mental illnesses deserving of equal clinical and research funding to that given to other complex diseases. They want to ensure that no-one with an eating disorder need experience shame or guilt, and everybody should have timely access to specialist services.

Author and Multi-Award winning campaigner, Hope Virgo who chairs the coalition says;“When we think of eating disorders we often immediately think of a white teenage, emaciated girl and fail to realise that eating disorders are so often hidden in plain sight amongst all ages, genders races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations and socio-economic statuses. The campaign is working to remove the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds these illnesses, ensuring that nobody should experience shame or guilt for suffering from an eating disorder and to make sure that everybody has prompt access to specialist services.”

(image on Twitter: Change the Story campaign, Hope Virgo and FEAST outside the Houses of Parliament)

Eating disorders are not new illnesses, but there has been a massive rise in cases during the pandemic. Unacceptable delays before treatment means we are also seeing a rise in avoidable chronic long-term illness and loss of life. We need to ensure that we are no longer hiding behind the global pandemic but ensuring that the right support is in place for everyone because no one should be dying of an eating disorder in 2022. They are working to remove the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds these illnesses, ensuring that nobody should experience shame or guilt for suffering from a biologically based illness and everybody should have timely access to specialist services.

To raise awareness of the campaign they have created a video supported by Instagram. For a long time, people have used Instagram to challenge stereotypes about body size, share their journeys with overcoming body image issues, and celebrate different body types. 

 Renee McGregor, leading Sports and Eating disorder specialist dietitian said;“We need to change the images, narrative and practices presently associated with eating disorders in order to ensure that no further lives are lost to this illness in 2022 or beyond.” 

Suzanne Baker, CarerRepresentative for F.E.A.S.T. (www.feast-ed.org)in the UK, said;“timely access to sustained, specialist treatment is key to recovery from an eating disorder at any age or stage. Currently too many people are not able to access this treatment often due to misconceptions about what an eating disorder ‘looks’ like. There is no one look – eating disorders are serious biologically influenced illnesses and are often hidden in plain sight.

Dr Agnes Ayton, chair of the Eating Disorders Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “No one chooses to have an eating disorder. An eating disorder can affect anyone at any age and can be caused by a range of factors including genes, mental or physical health conditions and social pressure. The stigma around having an eating disorder prevents many people from asking for help when they need it. No one should feel embarrassed to ask for help. An eating disorder can have very serious long-term effects on the body, but with treatment, people can fully recover. Raising awareness of this issue is an important first step in helping people to get the help they need. If you think you may have an eating disorder, speak to your GP who can refer you to a specialist counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist. You can also visit the NHS Choices website to find out what additional support is available, including confidential helplines.”

Gerome Breen, Professor of Psychiatric Genetics at King’s College London says: “Research and its dissemination are essential to dispelling the unhelpful myths and stigma that surround eating disorders and compound their long-lasting and devastating impacts. By understanding more about why and how eating disorders develop we can improve society’s conceptualisation of these conditions and hopefully enable more people to seek and receive the support they need.”

(image on Twitter: Jeremy Hunt MP with Hope Virgo)

You can help by posting a selfie to support this campaign with the hashtag #changethestory.

Watch the video here to discover more about the campaign:

From Denial, To Acceptance and Recovery: My Mental Health and Eating Disorder Journey by Emily J. Johnson

(image: Jasmin Chew at Pexels)

Trigger warning: discusses eating disorders and OCD

It has taken me almost thirty-five years to acknowledge that I have struggled with mental illness myself. I’ve spent a lifetime in denial. It wasn’t until writing my memoir Pushing Through The Cracks in 2021 that I observed my life objectively. I witnessed the experiences I’d gathered since childhood and how they had shaped me into the woman I am today.   A woman of strength, but also one diagnosed with a mental health disorder – Binge eating disorder. A label I neither wanted nor could accept. Not until now.

This isn’t my first experience with mental illness. In my teens, my life was in turmoil. After my parents’ unexpected divorce, my mother remarried a gambler with a volatile temper within two years. My father moved to Australia, and with the upheaval of my home life and the onslaught of puberty, I felt lost. My body was changing, and I’d become uncomfortable with my new shape. What began as a diet to slim my blossoming body developed into anorexia. In the 1980s, treatment was non-existent, at least for me. Instead, my GP gave me a telling-off and threatened to put me in a hospital and force-feed me via a drip. His threats petrified me, and I gradually increased my food intake again. It took me two years to recover. Ultimately, my anorexia was untreated, so it left me with a legacy of disordered thoughts about my body and food throughout my adult life.

A few years after my father’s death in my mid-thirties, I became fixated on turning electrical items off – the cooker, iron, hair straighteners, television – anything that was plugged in. I would touch the switches whilst talking out loud to myself, repeatedly, trying to confirm they were in the ‘off’ position. I knew they were off, but somehow, I couldn’t accept that they were off. Additional obsessions snuck in gradually. I began checking the fridge door was closed, then every door and window in my home. What started as checking became an arduous set routine every night to ensure the doors and windows were locked multiple times. I was terrified someone was going to break in. Checking the doors eased that terror, temporarily.

It continued for several months, and I couldn’t stop the thoughts no matter how hard I tried. I moved back to the UK in 2010 and it appeared the huge disruption to my life interrupted the intrusive thoughts and checking behaviours, and they stopped. As the mother of a child with severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), I now recognise what I experienced back in my thirties may well have been OCD.

Fast forward to my late forties, a divorce behind me, and a period of depression to follow, I remarried and began a new life with a blended family. But within a couple of years, both of my sons and my new husband began struggling with their mental health. Mental illness filled our once happy home with depression, anxiety, alcoholism, OCD, and gambling, and it turned my entire world upside down whilst I tried to care for them all. I was under immense stress and turned to something to help me cope – food.

It began with me ‘rewarding’ myself with chocolate bars late at night when everyone else had settled. Over time, the ‘reward’ became a buffet of junk — mostly heavily processed carbs and sugar. All eaten quickly, in secret, and shrouded in shame. Within a few months, I was eating around 5000 calories during a night-time binge. In-between the binges were days of restricted food intake. I gained a large amount of weight, which I hated myself for. The self-loathing was overwhelming.

I realised I had a problem in late 2019 and went to my GP, who referred me to an eating disorder clinic. They diagnosed me with Binge eating disorder (BED), and I began a recovery programme, which I stuck to until the Covid pandemic interrupted my sessions, and I threw in the towel. As a result, I slipped back into bingeing again when life overwhelmed me.

In 2021, I self-referred myself back to the ED clinic. I’m still on a waiting list, however, I’ve taken steps to get support and am in recovery now. I am 24 days binge-free at the time of writing this, which feels like such a huge personal triumph after a long period of relapse.

I think the toughest part for me has been accepting that I had a mental health disorder. I also felt overwhelming guilt that I had perhaps somehow genetically gifted my son’s mental illness to each of them. It’s taken me a long time to accept my diagnosis and our family’s situation. But from that place of acceptance, I have finally found peace….and recovery.



Emily J. Johnson is the author of Pushing Through The Cracks, her memoir of her family’s struggles with mental health. She lives in the UK and this is her first blog on this subject!