Ambition: Creating Goals and Building Realities

Ambition is Sexy
It’s Brave
It’s Risky
It’s Adventurous
It’s Empowering

It helped me overcome my eating disorder, and could help you overcome many personal set-backs, be it health, relational or work based

If you’re feeling a little stuck then this post may be just the read you need!

 “Without ambition we would have no progress, no inventions, no innovation and no change

Ambition is the focus of this post, because it sums up how I’ve got to where I am now; my degree, setting up this site, being published, running fundraising events, being involved in many local, and national campaigns.

Alarm bells go off whenever I meet someone who has no ambitions in life. You have this one amazing world to explore, this life that you can build and do so much with, and yet they have no dream, no challenge, no passion they want to chase. 

Maybe you don’t know what it is you want to do yet, and you’re stuck with this conflict of knowing you’re not happy where you are now but you can’t pin point where you want to be? 
The thing is, without ambition we have no growth.
No change.

We remain stuck believing we can amount to no more, maybe that we don’t deserve 
better, or held back by fear and apprehension that we will fail.

So we just don’t try at all. 

Whatever your situation; if you’ve hit a plateau in your life, be it health, work or relationship related, this post aims to outline some key points to help you make changes and reflect on where it is you actually want to be when you look forward to your future.

What is Ambition?

“Ambition; the desire and determination to achieve a goal”

Ambition is the fuel we need for action.
It’s that’s craving you get to achieve something that feels a bit bigger, a bit riskier. 

The yearning for more.
The desire to achieve a bit more, to try something new, and something unknown.
Without ambition we lack direction.

Our ambitions change as we grow.
They contain smaller stepping stones along the way to building the bigger picture.
Therefore we can look at ambition as being this disjointed journey, a chain reaction of events, that aid you moving forward. 

Personal Reflection: In 2012 I self-discharged from an adult inpatient ward in London. I was scared and fearful of change. I didn’t know where I was headed, and having already dropped out of one university degree I was doubting my ability to bounce back and amount to anything.
I had all these dreams and goals (I even made a motivational scrap book of them, but that’s another post…).
I was stuck in a cycle of frustration, held back by fear, preventing me making any moves forward.
I have always wanted to achieve a lot. Live an extraordinary life. Meet people, travel places and build a bright future for myself.

Having a thirst for life and a vision in mind, was the ammunition that fuelled my recovery, because when all my anorexia wanted was for me to vanish, I was craving a wild existence.
This meant change needed to happen: facing my dreaded fear of changing and breaking the routine safe cycles I had found to cope.

Creating Your Goals

“Ambition is the desire to make the most of your potential, to achieve something special, which would make a profound difference to your life, and the life of others”

Whether your goal is to run a 10km for charity next year, write your first book, go for that job promotion, begin a new treatment programme, up-sticks and move to a new country, change is inevitable

Our dreams and visions, however big or small, often seem out of reach, and we can lack knowledge of what we want and need in order to get us there. 

Begin by looking at what you’ve got now. 
Make a list of what you’re happiest with; the people, places, routines, hobbies, are you a morning person? do you love reading? do you love learning? Things that sum up being you and give you that “buzz” of excitement; these are the things that will drive you forward.

Then make a list of what is unsettling you: Be specific with your lists so you pin-point the exact things that are causing you conflict, the barriers that are in your way, things that need to be changed in order for you to reach your goals.

What do you need? Do you need to do a course, or gain a qualification, maybe you just need to sit down with someone who has experience in that area. Resources may be external or internal, so don’t neglect your wider social and personal networks.

Who do you need? Are there people who will support you with your goal, who have ideas or expertise? 

Creating your goal: Bringing it all together
Building your ambition is a creative process, through which you’ll begin to realise your potential to manage and achieve more.
Once you’ve taken the time to look at the here and now and suss out the parts you want to build on, the things that really spark that buzz of passion into you, and those which don’t, begin to get creative with visualisation (write it down, mind-map, draw it out, scrap book it…whatever!). 

I have a massive white board I destroy with marker pens, just scribbling any old (odd?) idea and goal down, planning the ins-and-outs of it so that the board is filled and I feel slightly overwhelmed, but stupidly excited about the end result. 

Spend time visualising what you look like in a year or two’s time; where you want to be; what you want to be doing.
Be specific (or SMART) with it. 

  • Where are you living? 
  • What are you doing in your spare time?
  • What are your Hobbies/Interests?
  • Who’s included your friendship circles?
  • What work are you involved with? Voluntary/Personal/Paid/Self-employed?
  • Write out, or visualise, a day in the life of you then and compare it to now.

Your goals should make you feel slightly uncomfortable. 
But you will have smaller, easier stepping stones along the way to get to the end picture, but be risky, because it’s through pushing the boundaries that we begin to see our potential unfold.This builds our self-esteem, it ignites new passions and creativity and before you know it a chain reaction is set off.
Remember it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Top 4 Tips To Sum Up

Once you embark on the mission, you realise that it’s not this steady journey, it becomes a 007 mission, filled with plot twists.
Remember, it will require hard work and perseverance in the face of set backs.

1. Be Focused.
Have a focused goal for what you want. Consider the steps you need to get to the end point. Know what you want it to look like – I used to use my big whiteboard and mind map loads of ideas and visions for projects, events, art projects, fundraising events etc…

2. Be ready to compromise.
Embrace change. If you’re working in a team you may have a focused idea but you need to accept that not everyone will have the same passion for the ideas and steps you see to get there. So be open minded. 

3. Make it achievable.
This may sound daft, and you’re probably thinking – Joss, this is common sense, why on earth would I have a goal I cannot achieve. Well…have you seen some of the XFactor auditions?!

Sometimes you need to find a compromise between fantasy and reality.
Make your goal realistically achievable by breaking it into smaller steps you need to take to make the goal a reality.
e.g Going on the X Factor auditions but in two years time after doing singing lessons and getting feedback from open-mic nights. 

An additional helping hand: 

  • Put a time scale on it. 
  • Pin-point the resources you need. 
  • Who are the people around you that will support you towards your goals? Make sure you surround yourself with positive energy, and that you’re not bogged down with negativity and doubts? may need to let some people go…

4. Make your ambitions BIG and personal to you: 

When I say ‘life changing’ I bet you think I mean big, dramatic, heroic …well deciding to not to watch so much T.V but instead start writing that autobiographical book you’ve always wanted to do can be life changing – it involves a change to your lifestyle as it is now, and the personal aspect will give you that drive to continue with it as it grows.
…who knows, maybe one day my dream of doing a half triathlon will happen...

A personal reflection to offer some insight; I never thought I could do a Tough Mudder – I was ambitious and put myself out there for a new experience with one of my best mates by my side. The whole fundraising and training process changed me in ways I had never imagined.  I learnt more about how to properly fuel my body,  training became for strength and performance instead of compensating for calories. I was able to speak out about mental health for the charity I was fundraising for, and this sparked smaller goals along the way: larger fundraising targets, using the local press to raise awareness,  speaking at events, and start this site…a bunch of stuff I just would have never attempted before.  
A chain reaction of achievements that ignited self belief.


Remember: We all build up our own walls, making excuses for why we can’t do something or change situations.

Three years ago my goals were vague, small and simplistic; held back by a lack of self belief and self confidence. Today my goals are bigger and bolder because I have learnt that the value in taking risks and making changes that rebuild my identity and leave me fulfilled daily.

I hope this post has given you some useful tools to help you realise that no goal is impossible, ambition is crucial to growth, and how to now be curious as to what you are capable at achieving. 

“Sometimes the right path isn’t always the easiest one” – Pocahontas


Diet Culture Is Damaging Our Health: Problems and Solutions

Bulking, Cutting, Clean Eating, Cheat Days…
This post is dishes up the dirt on Diet Culture and the destructive subtexts hidden in the language used around food and exercise, that makes disordered eating seem socially acceptable, encourages yo-yo dieting and ultimately leads to an unhealthy relationship with food and body image.

No labels or diets should ever make you feel inferior or bad about being in your own skin, nor should any diet mean you are not allowed to enjoy the foods and drinks you love.

No labels or associations should ever make you feel inferior or bad about being in your own skin, nor should any diet mean you are not allowed to enjoy the foods and drinks you love…if diet culture hasn’t lead you to forget what these truly are

Whilst this post may seem like a bit of a rant, it comes from a place of genuine worry and concern about the obsessive diet-culture, and aesthetically driven, society we are creating, not just for ourselves, but for the younger generations growing up.

Only recently I was having a chat with a friend about the baking I had done on one of my days off. His response made my blood boil;
“You on the winter bulk then?” 😡
To which I replied.. 

“No. I’m just on this thing called life”

Diet-culture terminology seems to be never ending, and ever growing, and it is SO WRONG. It is certainly not helped of course by the increased access to images, articles and youtube videos (if I see another “what I eat in a day” post I swear I’ll loose my mind….!!) and more. All of this fuels the myths, rules and associations regarding the “right” types and quantities of food we should (or rather, should not..) eat, not to mention the excessive exercise we should be doing…constantly.

The labels and associations we attach to what we think we believe to be “good” or “bad” foods is destructive to our physical and mental states, and together influences the disordered relationship with food and body image by reinforcing some very damaging messages in its sub-text.

  • Clean-eating
    Cue the undeserved feelings of guilt because you’ve eaten another slice of birthday cake, or a pizza that wasn’t made out of cauliflower
    Foods that aren’t seen as “clean” are then “bad” or “off limits” this has lead to an increase in orthorexia: The obsession with eating “pure foods”…whatever that means?! Problem being, there is no agreeable definition on what determines a food being “clean”, most foods you buy are to some extent processed and manufactured somewhere, somehow, so does that mean these are all “unclean” or “bad” for you? Those words in themselves should never be used in association with your food,  they cause so much judgement and guilt when you then project them onto a reflection of yourself and your body

  • “Cheat Days”
    ...where to begin. There is so much wrong with this. Not only does it reinforce the binge-restrict, yo-yo dieting, that has time and time again been proven to end in more weight gain in the long term, but in reality these “cheat” days you probably eat normally, but because diet culture has become so normalised we have created a day dedicated to normalising our diet. Or, alternatively for many, a day you choose to eat all the foods you’ve limited from your diet to remain sane and curb cravings, so you binge/overeat, and then justify it with the weekly restriction and over exercising. Does this sound healthy to you…?

  • Winter Bulk/Summer Cut
    …A winter bulk, or sometimes referred to as”off season”,  when you allow yourself to eat more foods that have been off limit during the summer period, because you care less about looking lean. These foods are categorised then as foods that will make you gain weight, and are off limits or “bad” for cutting, when you restrict the diet and over exercise to get lean for summer.Again, constant yo-yo dieting, and justifying what you eat and when you eat based on aesthetic goals. Bulking foods are seen as high calorie and to be avoided otherwise, and so associated with weight gain, however many of these include foods that are also very nutritious, such as nut butters, avocados, rye breads.Many may programme these foods around workouts as pre/post workout meals, which I do understand if you are an athlete, training for an event or following a particular programme that may have a performance, or medically advised weight loss/gain, outcome. But for the majority who are not performance based athletes, this can be damaging and stressful, creating the association with exercise equating to being able to eat certain foods or not.If you want porridge in the morning but don’t want to work out that is fine! If you want to eat a meal with less protein in it after you workout, or have a pizza in the evening (not made with cauliflower..) this does not have to be a post-workout meal, you can just eat for the sake of enjoying food, socialising, and keep fit for the same reasons too! No rights or wrongs, no good or bad.

  • Elimination diets, and classing everything high protein and low carb as “healthier”
     no medical justification to cut out gluten and/or dairy are the common ones that spring to mind. Are you sure you understand the function of gluten in food?
    Protein does not magically make it a healthier option, and carbs don’t make you fat. Consistently eating in a calorie surplus, carbs or no carbs, will lead to excess weight being stored.
    Like most things, it’s individual preference, but if you are eliminating foods based on false education and rumour then maybe you should begin asking questions and properly educating yourself by reading research and literature that is not just one-sided, or scare mongering, but factual and relevant.
    Listen to your body and begin to get real about why you feel the need to restrict or eliminate food groups.
    It is worth pointing out that saying “oh but I bloat after eating x,y,z…” bloating is normal. Everyone bloats and gets gassy from time to time, another normal (ok, pretty disgusting) human function, it may not be coeliac disease or IBS so always go to the Dr instead of self-diagnosing.  

These are just a few, there are many other labels, rules and restriction-based diets you’ve probably come across (cleanes/detoxes…all that crap) that create beliefs about what is right and wrong to eat.

Let’s get one thing straight, there is no right or wrong, no good or bad, no guilt, shame, or weakness, for feeding your body the food it wants and needs; this includes cake and pizza as well as kale and quinoa.

Following strict rules and restrictions as a way to control food intake, weight or shape is becoming the social norm. Not only this, but for those with a clinically diagnosed eating disorder it makes it a socially justifiable way to hide their disorder behind these labels.
You do not have to work for the food you eat; your body deserves food regardless of the exercise you have or have not done.  


Pseudo-Dieting: The Diet-Mentality Trap

Overtime the more you adhere to these rules the more reinforced and habitual they become, to the point that even when you think you’re not following these beliefs they are still their dictating your choices; this is known as pseudo-dieting

What is “Pseudo-Dieting”? Written about in Elyse Reich book “Intuitive Eating” , pseudo-dieting refers to the diet beliefs that we still hold on too, and that dictate your food choices, even when you don’t actively realise you’re dieting.
It’s when what you say doesn’t add up to what you do. So you may believe you are not actively engrained in diet culture, but you actually are still allowing it to control you.

So this could be stuff like:

  • You only eat carbs on days you gym/are active
  • Still using calorie apps to count macros … can’t eat when hungry because an app that estimated your daily needs tells you so?! 
  • Compensating for food eaten (e.g restricting, over exercising, laxatives)
  • Restricting food groups
  • Eating only “safe” foods
  • Following certain beliefs such as “carbs make you fat after 6pm” …news flash, your body doesn’t have some magic switch. It doesn’t know. It only knows that it’s hungry and needs nourishing. 

Problems with this are: 

❌  You to forget how to respond to normal physiological hunger, and cravings become a challenge you need to resist This prevents you listening to your body, what it needs, and what it wants. 
Not honouring your hunger increases your chances of overeating later on in the evening, or at the weekends when your restriction and denial of food you want catches up with you; known as the “what the hell effect” – yes, those weekend binges are actually a well researched psychological phenomena, a normal physiological reaction to any diet that is restrictive or avoidant of certain foods or food groups.

❌  This then creates the experience of guilt when certain foods are eaten outside of these boundaries and beliefs.
Stress and anxiety around food, or from eating certain foods, can cause bloating. Many people suddenly suffering from IBS and other gut related problems may just be a result of your body readjusting to your inconsistent feeding and stress about food messing with your usual digestion.regret

❌  Feeling bad and guilty about foods leads to body dissatisfaction, self blame and yo-yo dieting. Emotional eating as a result of this, or using food to increase your self-worth is disordered. There is an increase in disordered eating such as orthorexia, exercise-bulimia, or binge-purge anorexia as a result of many trying to control their emotions using food. 

❌  It creates a viscous cycle;  avoid/restrict, intense cravings and then over-eating causing you to further go back to restriction and avoidance. This reinforces your initial belief that you can’t control yourself around these foods. In hindsight if you just learnt to nourish your body properly you’d find you don’t always want to eat chocolate and when you do you don’t eat the whole bar because your body knows it will have it again sometime, that it’s not off limits. 

So What’s The Solution?

Avoidance and restriction are commonly ways to gain control, avoid negative feelings associated with eating certain foods (promoted by diet culture) negative beliefs about your body. The fear of weight gain? Feeling out of control? Fear of over-eating?

What really needs to be addressed is the real reason behind the diet beliefs and behaviour.

It’s not simple.
These messages are everywhere. We are bombarded by diet culture wherever we look, sucked in by every penny the £2billion diet industry throws at us

Becoming more aware of the labels and associations we use around diet and body image is a step in the right direction to disconnecting from diet culture, and re-learning how to nourish your body,  be healthy and embrace the skin you’re in!  

It takes you practicing self-awareness and reflection: 

  • Where these beliefs come from?
  • What function are they holding (control? self-esteem)?
  • What associations/beliefs are you still holding onto?
  • What foods don’t you allow yourself, that if you’re honest with yourself, you avoid?
  • Are there foods that you instantly feel guilty for when you eat?
  • Do you compensate for eating certain foods? (exercise more, use laxatives, restrict the next day…)
  • Are there foods you can only eat if you’ve exercised or tracked your calories/macros?

Ultimately, controlling food and weight is not the key to happiness.

You should never feel restricted by your diet, or need to use labels to justify your preferences.

Food should not be given the power to control how you feel toward yourself and your body, which is what diet terminology creates through its labels and subsequent associations.

You can be healthy, fit and happy at every size, and eating anything you want.

If this post resonates with you in any way, or you are interested in reading more about how to break free from diet culture, rebuilding your relationship with food and your body I recommend following up some of these links below: 

Pixie Turner

aka Plant Based Pixie. Nutritionist and food blogger. Informative, and says it like it is posts. 
Laura Thomas PhD 
Registered nutritionist with a fantastic podcast
Evelyn Tribole: Intuitive Eating
Link to her book on Amazon, outlining the principles of intuitive eating: building healthy body image and making peace with food

Louise Jones
Nutrition student and writer, recommend her post on Intuitive Eating and Why Flexible Dieting is a Fad 
Megan Jayne Crabbe 
aka BodyPosiPanda  all centred around body positivity and non-diet approach

Emotional Abuse…Through Her Eyes

A brave and honest account that challenges our perceptions of who is considered vulnerable. As well as exploring issues of trust and manipulation within relationships.

When first contacted by this remarkable young lady I had no idea what she had been through. What her bubbly smile, confident demeanour, and bright eyes masked. 

Whilst the title of this blog post sounds heavy, I ask you to read on.

If you’ve ever attended safeguarding training, be that for adults or children, you are taught about the signs and consequences of different types of abuse: Physical, Verbal, Sexual, Neglect, Discriminatory and Emotional (to name a few). 

You are given the policies and procedures to follow should a concern arise, as we all have a duty of care to look out for vulnerable individuals, namely children, the disabled and the elderly. 

Often in the midst of looking out for others we forget to look out for ourselves. Rarely considering that we may in fact actually be the vulnerable ones.

No matter your background abusers do not discriminate, they destroy.

This account challenges us to consider just who is vulnerable?

It explores how events may go unrecognised, and the difficulty confronting the reality of the situation when  emotionally attached, even in love with, the perpetrator.

She herself is the voice of strength, reminding us that no matter how hard it may seem, there is always an escape route waiting, and that these experiences can have detrimental consequences even after the storms have passed.

Whilst the speaker has chosen to remain anonymous,

This is Emotional Abuse…Through Her Eyes

“When someone is described as ‘vulnerable’, like ‘vulnerable young person’ or ‘vulnerable adult’, we make assumptions on who these people are. I would never have considered myself to be ‘vulnerable’ at the age of 18 because I didn’t fall into any of the stereotypical groups I associated with the word. I was still in education, I wasn’t on drugs, I was living at home and I was a pretty confident and capable person. I was surrounded by a network of friends and I had hobbies that saw me mixing with a wide range of people.

I was a reasonably mature 18 year old. The moment you discount yourself or someone else as not ‘vulnerable’, you remove a layer of protection and care, otherwise afforded to others. You make a judgement call that this person is less at risk of harm.

When I was 17, I met someone 16 years my senior. By 18 I had fallen in love with him and we had embarked on a relationship.

It was great.

He was funny, handsome, caring and charming.

He took me to nice places, he cooked for me, he encouraged and supported me with my studies and my hobbies. We went on some amazing holidays and despite me feeling guilty for not being able to contribute financially, he would always reassure me that it was fine, I was a student after all.

There were whispers and mutterings about the age difference but when people saw us together, laughing and smiling, they soon accepted that ‘sometimes age doesn’t matter’ and it made me more determined to prove that.

I went to university and worried a lot about what it meant for our relationship. Luckily for me, he wanted me to come home every weekend and sometimes during the week if I could. He’d show up when I was on nights out with my friends and say how much he missed me and that he’d come to take me home. I thought it was lovely to be missed and thought about so much.

When I moved out of halls, I moved in.

Things began to change without me really noticing, I wasn’t allowed my own key. I wasn’t allowed to have people round, I wasn’t allowed to bring more than a few items of clothing at a time, I couldn’t be there unless he was or unless I was locked in.

I was working as well as studying but earning barely enough to pay my train fare each week. This became an issue. He said university was pointless and I’d never succeed anyway. I needed to be paying half for the things we did together. Dinners out, day trips, holidays, all things I couldn’t afford and hadn’t chosen to do. I didn’t drive so would often end up waiting for hours at train stations or walking back alone late at night.

He started using my insecurities against me, he’d make passing remarks about my weight, about my body, about me being unstable or overly emotional. He’d make jokes about it in public and I’d laugh too to try and make it less painful.

He withheld affection and sex, it all became on his terms, which was hard considering I’d had a difficult history with intimacy. I’d overcompensate by spending money I didn’t have, buying him gifts or taking him out but it was always wrong and never enough. I knew he was cheating and with multiple people but I felt unable to act.

By this point, I’d become isolated at university.

I’d lost friends because I hadn’t seen them.

I’d been so determined to prove people wrong, how could I now tell them I was unhappy?

Before I knew it, I’d become entirely dependent on him. I was depressed, in debt, isolated and had no self worth.

Ending the relationship was the hardest and best thing I have ever done. It took all of my strength and all of my courage to acknowledge that it was unhealthy, even though I didn’t believe I deserved any better.

Initially he made it easy for me to leave. He was convinced I’d be back. Then he continued to try and control elements of my life.

He wouldn’t return my possessions for months.

He tarnished my reputation by fabricating reasons for our split – generally based on me being emotionally unstable and that he’d had to deal with a lot.

Classic manipulation really.

 It has taken years to regain some sense of identity, to begin to understand myself, even just figuring out what I like and don’t like.

It continues to affect my relationships now.

I am always fearful that being truly myself will leave me open to more hurt and harm so I never let my guard down and I push people away when they get too close.

It took a while for me to totally break free of him. I’ve done a lot of soul searching and have had counselling too. I still struggle now and find myself behaving in a very defensive way, like my body and mind are constantly in self preservation/flight mode. Intimacy is the hardest bit and I still struggle with the associations I have between sex and my self worth particularly – am I being used/do I feel obliged. I’m always learning and I have to really depend on and trust who I’m intimate with because I’m scared.

Learning to be loved and learning that sometimes it’s ok to rely and need other people is hard but necessary to have fulfilling relationships. Emotional abuse is abuse. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how long you’ve been together, your gender, if you’re straight or LQBTQ+, the affect can be devastating.

Understanding and recognising what constitutes a healthy relationship is essential. Encouraging a sense of self-worth is essential.

Until we start talking more openly about what happens behind closed doors and educating children and young people appropriately, everyone is ‘vulnerable’.”

If yourself, or anyone you know of, are at risk or have been affected by any issues in this post that you feel you need help with then please either reach out and use the contacts below, or drop me a message on my contact page

It doesn’t matter if you are unsure, or if the incident was long ago. If it is impacting your safety, wellbeing and health then make it a priority. 


Victim Support: Free confidential service tailored to your needs. Online, calls or 
Samaritans: Call or drop in for help, support or advice 
MIND: Offer information about abuse, and contacts for qualified counsellors 

Other sources of help, advice and domestic abuse helplines can be found on the Crime Stoppers website. 


Aims and Values

About the Blog

Decreasing stigma surrounding Mental Health
Providing advice and practical tools for those suffering with, or in recovery from mental health issues
Challenging your behaviours and perspectives in order to develop self awareness about the habits and beliefs you hold
Challenging the ways in which modern day contemporary culture is shaping our beliefs, behaviours and self-beliefs
A Non-Diet Approach to recovery from eating disorders and rebuilding body confidence
Spreading a message of hope through the stories of myself and others, who have combated set-backs and rebuilt their lives

Encouraging selfless acts and an outward focus, so that you continue to grow in self-confidence 

Why this so relevant to all of us

No one is 100% resilient, and we all need a better grasp on the reality of these issues.

Every one of us will come u against stress and pressures, in our daily lives. Be it relational, work, social or health related stress these all begin to accumulate and wear and tear at our general wellbeing. At its worst it can prevent us from being able to function at our best, impacting our productivity and quality of life.

We end up in a position of monotonous daily surviving instead of continuous growth and thriving.
However, we tend to neglect our mental health and wellbeing, believing it either to be unimportant, or held back by beliefs that we are “weak” or “incompetent” if we have set-backs. Not helped by the negative stigma and lack of understanding around such topics.

We are not passively experiencing our surroundings but constantly being shaped, as well as shaping, them.

We need to be aware how both our behaviours and environment interact to impact our health, as well as understand how poor mental and/or physical health can build barriers to recovery.

From the behavioural to the nuerophysiological, everything you do shapes you, therefore I believe we all have the amazing capacity to heal and “rewire” the way we think and behave to enhance our wellbeing.

Luckily such topics are becoming more openly spoken about, and people are realising that we are not built to continuously push our bodies, and that taking time to check in with our mental, physical and emotional health, is actually more beneficial for our productivity, for building healthy relationships and leading happier lives! 

I hope you enjoy browsing this site and the variety of blogs and articles provided.
Stay in contact with me by following my Instagram @josceline_joy or alternatively by dropping me a message using the contact page.  


Beating Binge Eating [6 Tips]

Beat the Binge

Since 2013 binge eating disorder (BED) has been classified as a distinct eating disorder, as stated in the fifth edition of the DSM classification and diagnostic manual for clinical disorders.

Although many who are obese have BED not all people with a binging disorder are obese. Furthermore, binging is not simply ‘overeating’, which is something every normal human being engages in every now and again – think about Christmas,  parties, or the evenings you get back from a crappy day and turn to the tub of Ben and Jerries, only to realise half an hour later there’s none left; we’ve all been there!

That is not a binge.
That my friends is life.

You are not out of control, not abnormal, bad, disgusting, or any of the other horrifically degrading labels people use.

Norma eating and the difference between overeating, bulimia and binge eating disorder? 

Our eating behaviour is never just biologically determined. What, when and how we eat is shaped socially, by culture and dietary norms, by our health status, age and exercise habits which alters our internal physiology and metabolic needs. Stress and emotions also influence the experience of hunger and fullness. Negative emotions, such as stress and depression, have been found to both suppress and increase appetite.
Positive emotions have been found to lead to over eating, as food is used, and associated with social occasions, celebrations and reward.

Whereas normal hunger can be postponed and prolonged, emotional hunger is intense and immediate, and usually the cravings will centre around all the foods you’ve either been restricting from your diet, or that have high carb and sugar content. There is a neurobiological reason for this, as foods high in carbs and fats release higher levels of serotonin and dopamine which are the “happy”, pleasure hormones in the brain, and enhance feelings of comfort.
These are also responsible for motivation and reward learning, meaning that you will be more likely to repeat the behaviours again.

So whilst over or under eating in some situations is expected, and normal, prolonged periods of disordered eating (pervasive over months) which impact your quality of life, such as your ability to socialise, hold down relationships, work, and your physical and mental health, are hugely complex.

Binge eating disorder is not followed by purges.

compensatory behaviours used to relieve guilt from eating foods) are associated with bulimia and are also found in sub-types of anorexia.

These behaviours may include using laxatives, over exercising or vomiting. If engaged in for prolonged periods of time are dangerously detrimental to ones health. Breaking these cycles can be difficult and cause intense amounts of anxiety.

Patients with BED have described entering a trance-like state when they binge eat. Describe being “out of control” with an inability to stop eating, even when they’re in severe discomfort from fullness and bloating.
Eating episodes are rapid
The person may hide away and eat out of shame and embarrassment.
Different from bulimia, there is no purging behaviours used to compensate. However it is followed by distress and sadness around the binge episode.

If this is your situation at the moment then you must seek medical help from your GP and local mental health clinic.

What causes binge eating disorders?

Whilst some may turn to alcohol, drugs, sex or develop depression, as a response to difficult life events (past or present stress or trauma) many turn to food as a form of control, or escape.
Triggers that have been found common to those with BED include:

  • Body image problems
  • Excessive yo-yo dieting and prolonged periods of restriction
  • Loneliness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma

People with BED may use food to negatively punish their body, others use food to comfort, trying to fill a void and escape from their negative emotions. This leads to a really unhealthy relationship with food and ones own body to develop, and over time can increase the risk of obesity.

What my experience has taught me…

I understand that both ends of the spectrum can be devastatingly hard to deal with, and be a lonely experience to go through. However, now if I’m feeling stressed or anxious, I check in with myself and make sure I prevent under or over-eating that is emotionally driven.

Whilst my experience was not with BED, in my early teens I emotional over-ate. Often buying two or three lunches a day, and eating them as a way to calm myself in social situations, and then on the way home from school would happily demolish cakes and sweets from the local shop before tucking into packet, upon packet of crisps before my dinner, which I would regularly have seconds of, and dessert.

Later in life I developed anorexia.
As my journey unveiled itself the underling trauma surfaced, and this was where my use of food as punishment and comfort came from. Over the years it was dealt with, and now I have a very happy and healthy relationship with my food and body.

I would highly recommend therapy and clinical treatment with a local mental health service alongside any self-help or social support you choose to use. 

My Top 6 Tips For Getting On-Top of Emotional Binge-Eating:

  1. Watch what you buy:
    If you don’t have it in you are not going to binge on it!!
     Make a balanced shopping list that includes small treats, but not packets of foods you know you’re likely to centre your binges on. Try and avoid shopping when hungry, and make sure you eat well during the day, not restricting food groups, so you don’t get over hungry and binge in the evenings.
  2. Distract your mind:
    Distracting your mind, and finding other equally relaxing and pleasurable activities outside of food is important.
    Going for a walk, ringing a friend or journalling/writing are good exercises to do. Art has also been found to be a great distractor and therapeutic outlet for handling difficult emotions. Anything to keep your mind and hands busy.
  3.  Know your triggers:  Be it stress, break ups, loneliness, arguments…what are the repeated events that precede your binges.
    Write your triggers down; how the situation makes you feel, what behaviours happens, and an action plan to counter them.
    e.g argued with my boss, felt useless so binged, next time I will go for a walk to get some fresh air and think about the situation before talking with him the next day.
  4. Eat well during the day:
    Don’t skip meals, or eliminate foods from your diet.
    This leads to a higher chance of overeating and if you’re trying hard to not eat a food you generally love, common ones are bread or chocolate,  then you are more likely going to crave a binge on these later in the day. So don’t skip meals, and include all food types so that your body is nutritionally satiated. Portion size is variable depending on your own needs for your height, weight and activity levels. Learn to intuitively eat;  listening to your bodies hunger signals and the foods it actually wants. The more you take care of your body the more it will take care of you.
  5. Most importantly, be kind to yourself!!
    Disordered eating does not manifest over night, and neither will it disappear over night. Be gentle on yourself, know there will be good days, and bad days – write down in a journal what went well, what didn’t work, and learn to know yourself inside out. Setting achievable goals to combat your behaviours is more sustainable than expecting perfection within a week.


Dirty Secrets Behind Clean Eating

Having just watched Grace Victory’s “Dirty Secrets Behind Clean Eating” I felt compelled to write a post about this topic. The programme raised some important points about the dangers of who we trust within the health and fitness industry, and she did so in a lighthearted, informative way.

It’s an industry saturated with bloggers, Vloggers and Instagram snappers, all happy to promote their lifestyle plans promised to ‘transform’ your health, and bring you body confidence, even cure disease.

If you find yourself captivated by pretty pictures and persuasive captions, you’ll be disheartened to know many of these are not scientifically supported health claims, or being delivered by qualified nutritionist, dieticians or fitness professionals.

In fact, if you google nutritionist qualification you can come across many online courses for around £50 giving you that “title” and the persona of importance.

But our diets are important. Health is important. Food has the ability to manipulate mood, cure and cause diseases.

The NHS has a whole list of popular “fashionable” diets (sorry … “lifestyle choices”) people are embarking on. From Paleo, 5:2, Dukan, to the controversial Alkaline diet
The list is endless.
Each with their own arguments for why they are the best thing since sliced bread… along with their reasons for not eating sliced bread.

The concept of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle, has never been made more difficult for us to grasp. We have become the generation of dieters. 

But before we splash our cash on something so serious as our health, are we really questioning what advice we’re taking? and who it’s coming from?
Or are we throwing our pennies down a dirty drain to detrimental mental health?


Clean Eating and the Diet Industry Explored


The weight loss market alone is estimated to reach £220billion by 2017.

The pockets of those industries bursting whilst the only thing getting thinner is your wallet. Have you seen the price of chia seeds?!

The concept behind clean eating sounds logical and healthy:

“Rather than revolving around the idea of ingesting more or less of specific things (for instance, fewer calories or more protein), the idea is more about being mindful of the food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.”

Eating a diet which is rich and varied in whole foods; fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, meat and fish. Is of course, good. These foods will undoubtedly be packed with more vitamins and nutrients than processed foods, however, processed foods have their place and if you believe you eat 100% unprocessed, well I’m afraid you probably don’t. Hidden processing is everywhere, so does that mean you are now “unclean”. And if so, why is that so bad? What is going to happen to you?

Labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’ actually is dangerous to us psychologically as well as physically. It is the reason why many are creating unhealthy obsessions with food and weight, and using diet to avoid feelings of guilt or fear around eating and weight gain.

This now has a clinically recognised eating disorder known as  orthorexia.


The Power of Social Influence


Increase in social media usage positively correlates with eating and body dysmorphic disorders and low-self esteem.

“You are 3 times more likely to suffer a severe mental health problem if you are a frequent user of social media” – University of Pittsburg 

We need a reality check

So, is your super green, low carb, high protein, no gluten, dairy free, sugar free, macro monitoring, carb crunching, vegan, diet, really, really, you being honest with yourself?

My front line experience has left me like a sniffer dog able to smell an eating disorder (ED) from a mile away.

As soon as I click onto Instagram my radar is constantly pinging from post-to-post in the sea of seemingly “confident” and “grounded” fitness inspirations, displaying textbook typical ED behaviours:

  • Avoiding foods because they labeled/associate them as bad, or cause guilty feelings after being eaten.
  • Controls and rules, surrounding a diet which they don’t have any medical purpose for applying.
  • Dependence on keeping weight or body fat % low
  • Counting macros, with no medical or occupational reason for needing to.

That’s not to say all social media accounts are negative, but we do have to be wise about the information we’re exposing ourselves too and what we’re believing to be reliable advice over what will feed a disordered relationship with your food and body.

Top-tips to filter your news feeds:


So, when you’re next faced with making the decision about what to spend your time and energy reading and believing, ask yourself these questions:

1. What’s there message?

Is it one of positivity and balance, or does it create faulty associations (good/bad foods) alongside other disordered and unhealthy habits.

2. Are they qualified?

What makes them worth listening to? Are they qualified to give this advice? Make sure the sources you are trusting are credible, and do not be afraid to be critical and do your own research. Note. Having a large social media following does not qualify you to give lifestyle advice. 

3. Are they all talk no walk?

Ever heard of the saying “Do what I say, not what I do”

It’s easy writing a motivational quote alongside a well shot snap, but remember it is a business, and they may be more concerned about their growing pay cheques and sponsors than the implications they’re having on your health.

Approximately  1/3 of wellbeing bloggers seek help for disordered eating themselves, so bare in mind, you may be accepting advice from those still in need of help themselves.

Alongside this, Robert O’Young, who promoted the Alkaline diet as a cure for cancer, was arrested for his false claims and practicing medicine without a license to do so. But yet thousands of people buy into this.
Be willing to research about who it is you’re following.

4. Are they realistic?

Being a student living off a whole-foods, organic, no preservatives…all that jazz, diet, is not realistic (or necessary). Neither is exercising every day when you work a 9-5 job or have a family to provide for.  Do the accounts you’re aspiring to realistically  fit the lifestyle you can achieve and afford, to meet your health and wellbeing goals.

5. Is it positively challenging you?

Is it challenging your approach to yourself, your body and helping you to grow?

Or are you left feeling inadequate, bombarded by rules and demotivated by comparisons?

If it’s the latter, this is not good for your mental health.
Click Unfollow.

Final Thoughts

For me, and many of you other social media savvies, we need to be self-aware.

If you have a social media platform you post to regularly, ask yourself;

  • What is my message?
  • What image am I creating, is this a positive one or could it be damaging? 
  • How does this reflect my goals and values?

Remember, ultimately our worth is not based on our bodies, and not labelled by our diets. So look out for the haters, and spend time following the accounts that inspire and challenge you to be your best, live your best and love to your best.

“Trust. It’s what friends do.” – Dory [2003]

Break Free from Comparative Behaviour and Negative Self-Talk [4 Challenges]

Practical advice how to transform four common thinking errors and break free from negative self-talk.

Have you ever caught yourself scrutinising yourself in front of the mirror?

You stand there, staring hard, taking in all the small marks on your face, noticing all the freckles, birthmarks and spots.

You look hard at your thighs, the tiny bit of belly fat that you’ve accumulated over a few nights of late night drinking and pizza sessions.

Then to make matters worth you click onto Instagram only to spend the next hour trolling through feeds of thin, toned beautiful (yet photoshopped) pictures, and everyones green smoothies and poached eggs.

Instantly you’re filled with unnecessary guilt and regret.

They all appear so happy and confident.

Your comparing turns to despairing.
You begin to feel imperfect in comparison to these supposedly ‘perfect’ ideals.
Before you know it that well known negative self-talk record hits repeat.

It is estimated that 1 in 100 will suffer from some form of eating disorder, body dysmorphia or muscle dysmorphia.


Unsurprisingly this correlates with the increase in social media, “fitspo” accounts, dating apps, and commercialised diets.

Exposure to thin ideals in the media has been shown to adversely influence how one perceives their own body image and internalises feedback from others.

Comparing yourself endlessly to those you meet or see on social media, in magazines or TV, increased your risk of developing mood disorders (depression/anxiety), and  higher levels of internalising  thin ideals (Tiggemann, 2004; Yamamiya, 2005).
In short,  what we feed our minds with literally has the power to transform our personal growth, impact self-esteem and confidence in our own skin.

We live in a warped society whereby beauty, weight and shape equates to our self worth, happiness and success:

Dion’s (1972) ‘beautiful is good’ hypothesis: a remarkable amount of research supporting the influence appearance has on how we judge others, with more attractive pictures yielding higher ratings of happiness, success, likability and health.

Women who view these images on a regular basis have reported higher levels of body dissatisfaction; lower self-esteem and positivity about their futures. However, if they were told that the person they viewed was unhappy or unsuccessful this had reduced effect.

The more you tell yourself negatives, the more you’ll believe them.

Have you ever come away feeling good about yourself after comparing yourself to others?

No. You feel inferior. It saps your confidence.

The problem is the more you allow yourself to listen, and believe, these thoughts they stick like glue, becoming hardwired habitual thought processes you just can’t seem to switch off.

Hebbs Law: “what fires together wires together”.

It is widely used to explain how we form automatic memories, but this is also applied to automatic thought processes and addictive behaviours, which are learnt.

Such as having a cigarette with a glass of wine, even though you swore you’d quit!

Negative self-talk is poisonous and often is a reflection of the faulty, internalised beliefs you hold about yourself.

So Lets Get Positive.

Cognitive restructuring, or, thought correction, involves a desire to change your thinking by challenging negative and faulty errors.  Unlearning behaviours and changing your internal belief system doe not happen over night.  It takes perseverance and practice to literally re-wire the way you think.

The following are four common thinking errors and some practical challenges to help start your journey towards balanced thinking:

  1. Black-and-White (or dichotomous) thinking.

You fit yourself into one of two extremes; there is no continuum or ‘grey area’. You then judge yourself harshly; find yourself easily stressed and unable to see alternative explanations or logical reasoning.

e.g: ‘fat’ or ‘thin’, ‘failure’ or ‘success’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’.


  • Do you judge others by extremes? Then why judge yourself by a harsher standard.
  • Start to see the continuum, notice that not being a 10 does not automatically place you at the bottom as a 1.
  • Eliminate the loaded language you use in the extremes. E.g. “I’m scrawny” becomes “I have a thin physique”. It’s less damning and emotionally unloaded.
  1. Comparisons to Unrealistic Expectations.

You pit yourself against ideals and spend more time focusing on what you don’t have than what you do have. You end up making copious social comparisons wanting the desirable characteristics others display and believing they must be happier because of them.

You may also believe you ‘ought/must/should’ have certain attributes, and with unobtainable ideal of ‘perfection’ you always fall short, thus you find yourself constantly beaten down and falling short.


  • Remind yourself that no one is perfect. In fact perfection doesn’t exist because it is a subjective phenomenon. Media is photo shopped and even your friend with the gorgeous smile hates elements about herself, but she rocks what she’s got and so should you.
  • When you find yourself making a negative comparison balance it out with a positive to compare yourself favorably.
  • A mental compliment to someone is not an automatic criticism of you. Learn to give and receive compliments, then repeat them to yourself to allow yourself to believe and see them.
  • Reduce the time you spend scrolling through social media/Instagram, and filter out accounts that constantly make you feel downhearted.
  1. Projection/Mind-Reading.

You place your own beliefs, and evaluations about yourself into the minds of others. If you assume that your worth is defined by your appearance and you worry what others will think, you will find yourself falling into the category vulnerable to projection, and miss-reading peoples body language and behaviours.


  • What contradicting evidence do you have? Are these thoughts reflecting how you feel about yourself?
  • Remind yourself that it’s not you, and that the person probably seems off because he/she is having a bad day. Remind yourself of the other options for the behaviours.
  • Remind yourself that no one else sees you in the critical way you see yourself. That is what needs to change.
  1. Magnifying Glass:

You have tunneled vision and focus on the one thing that is wrong, rather than looking at the picture as a whole. The opinion you have is biased, and it’s as if all other compliments, achievements and positive attributes are insignificant because you put so much emphasis onto this one aspect of yourself.


  • Stick positive post-it notes around your mirror so whenever you catch yourself scrutinising yourself you read a positive statement back. Then walk away from what you’re doing.
  • Take a step back and look at the bigger picture; notice that your thighs are in proportion to your body or that your smile isn’t as wonky as you thought.
  • Ask yourself why that part of you should mask the rest of you so much? It doesn’t define you, therefore you won’t let it.

These are just a few small steps to start you off on your journey to breaking maladaptive thought patterns, and comparative behaviours.

I hope you have found it useful, please do get in contact for any other advice or questions related to this or any of the other blog posts!

Stay Happy. Stay Healthy.

Depression Through the Eyes of…Dan Kelly

I was introduced to Dan through social media; a talented young man no doubt, whose passion for writing shines through his own WordPress site. Just like many other talented artists,  Dan too has unfortunately endured, and overcome, his own mental battles.

His account below is not only fantastically articulated, but bravely allows us all a glimpse into what was once his world, and what now is his future.

Depression through the eyes of Dan Kelly…

When were you first aware you were depressed? What triggered it?

Depression is a word that gets thrown around a little bit too much. Quite often we associate a bad day with being depressed – sometimes, we just have bad days, or weeks and months, and realising that comes with a paired requirement to recognise what’s going on in your life. What is making you trip and tumble?

Depression is a little more deep-rooted, and comes down to a question of existence; it’s debilitating, smothering and a shadow that threatens to throttle you in the bed you’re fixed to. For me, I started experiencing that feeling at college, and it came and went in the 8 years since. The more distanced from myself, my identity and who I wanted to be, the heavier and faster it came – that’s the best way I can describe it at this point in my life.

Many people say that you can’t overcome a mental health illness without dealing with the trigger, did you ever find out the trigger illness?

We’re all products of our biology, environment and how we perceive these through our psychology. There are endless things I could identify as a cause for how I felt, from relationships with family members and friends from school in my childhood to how I saw romantic partners as that ‘final part of me’, as if there was a void to fill with endless women. Some of these I have dismissed some make total sense, but what makes more sense than anything else in this world, and will make sense to both you and your readers, is sometimes we feel lost. We don’t know what to do, what’s expected, what the point of it all is, and sometimes a bad thing can happen that just makes all of that all the more prevalent. Maisie(a friend of Dan’s) passing away was a very bad thing to happen in my life which undoubtedly effected me, but what it did was bring to light that I didn’t know who I was as a person.

How did it (if at all) affect your friendships/familial relations/daily functioning?

When I was depressed, and following on from Maisie passing on, friendships were fine until I became restless. Connections with my family members were fine until I became irritable. Relationships were fine until I became curious about what was over the horizon on the greener grass.

How did you find the quality of the help provided to you by the health care services?

The service I used was ‘there’ – I’ll give it that much. I have a lot of NHS staff in my family on the more clinical side of the hospital, but the actual process of getting help with mental health support took months, and this is where they falter.

Who’s fault? Well, when there’s no money to call upon, you can only look to an inconsiderate government to blame – but that’s a discussion for elsewhere.

CBT is not a miracle cure, nor should it be prescribed to every single person. It douses fires, but doesn’t extinguish the crackling underneath. I also, however, think it’s worth noting that, ultimately, even with endless amounts of counselling, CBT and so on, it’s down to me. It’s down to us. It’s down to you. You are the only person who can take steps and be honest with yourself. Scary, right? Absolutely. But the view as you climb the summit only gets more and more stunning.

I couldn’t agree more, and it’s having this outward approach and motivation that can be so hard to keep through recovery.

Did you find, being male, prevented you seeking help or admitting that you had a mental health disorder? Or subject you to any greater discrimination or stigma?

Being male did initially stop me, yes. However, this is only down to my own misconception of what it is to be a man. My advice there is this: you’re a man, sure. I realise you’ve got something dangling down there, but you’re a human first and foremost. Focus on that – if you need help, just flipping take it. It’s there, so look for it and use it.

Stigma? None. Discrimination? None. Once you do it and talk to the right people, you’ll see that everyone that matters will kind of get it.

What were the factors that helped the most in your recovery?

It’s great to talk about mental health problems, because it’s part of a process that allows you to recognise what you need to work on – then it’s all down to you. Depending on myself more and more is an amazing feeling.

What were the things that weren’t so helpful and how did you overcome/avoid these (if any)?

The thing that didn’t help me was having conversations with people that weren’t taking me anywhere, and I had to learn that whilst speaking to people is good, not everyone is worth speaking to. Whether it’s parents, close friends or even your counsellor (and if the latter is true, ask for a new one), you need to make sure that you’re going away from conversations with something clear to work on, a positive step of some sort when you open your heart up.

How has your experience shaped who you are today? Has it changed how you view mental health issues?

Please don’t think I’ve made it. I’m not always happy, but you’ll get a far more solid base if you start to look for what you’re missing from life and focusing on that.

A solid base? Hippy shit, right? When you get it and it’s there, you’ll feel it and know it. I’ve gone straight for the cliché and started learning about Buddhism, Taoism to be precise, I started writing and designing again, and I feel great at the very least while writing this.

I started assessing my beliefs and knowledge (noticing the differences between the two) about questions such as; What happens when you die? What do I really want from a relationship? Do I really hate my job, or am I just approaching it wrong? And when I’ve answered them, being honest enough to look back and realise when my answers reflect what I think I should say rather than my true self. It takes time; it’ll come, and be kind to yourself.

And mental health? You should be training it as much as you do your squats (which should also be a lot, ladies and gents). The School of Life is a fantastic resource, and read read read – let your mind escape from time to time.

 Dan is a deep, creative and insightful thinker and writer and I have no doubt that he will continue to inspire many through his talents of design, writing and humour.

I truly believe that his last point relating to finding your ‘solid base’ is crucial to having a sound mind. Practicing self-love is a daily exercise, and requires mental and emotional effort. There are many resources you can find online, and through mental health services to help with this, and I personally think it’s integral to everyone self-esteem and confidence.

I hope you have found Dans account inspiring and insightful. Through sharing stories and reflecting on each others journeys I believe it will empower those to keep moving forward in their own recoveries.

Do get in touch if you have a journey you’d like to share!

A Glimpse into Her World…Self-Harm and Depression

As part of a new series I want to start I am interested in hearing people’s own stories of how they’re either conquering or have overcome their personal mental health struggles. Not only do I find it fascinating to hear each individual’s journey, but also I believe that by sharing these accounts, what’s helped and what’s hindered people’s recoveries, we can work together to reduce the stigma surrounding them, raise awareness and help others who are battling similar mental health disorders.

I know from personal experience that these disorders can be incredibly isolating, but that the impact of reading someone’s story, and realising that you’re not the only one out there with these thoughts/behaviours/worries, it can reduce that sense of helplessness and hopelessness and increase ones autonomy to get back on track and make positive changes.

So, as I rocked up to the Surrey Sports Park Starbucks I was eager to meet my first interviewee. She actually approached me about whether the topic of self-harm and depression would be one I’d want to cover in my blog, and if id be interested in hearing her story, of which I replied “of course!”

For me it came as such a surprise to learn that she had this story to tell, and that in itself is a lesson best learnt early on – to never judge a book by its cover. But I felt privileged that she was allowing me to turn over and delve deeper than the front cover…

Having moved to this country in 2012, this talented young lady started her A Levels in a nearby boarding school, making lots of friends, getting top grades and being a fantastic athlete. Whilst on the surface there seemed no obvious reason to punish herself, underneath her strong persona layers of low self worth festered, bombarding her mind as soon as her bedroom door was closed.

When were you first aware you had depression?

I can’t pin point an exact time it started or when a diagnosis was given to me – it wasn’t. But I experimented with self-harm before moving to England, with periods on and off with my mood. However, when I moved over to this country to boarding school it was then that I would say it became a more persistent problem in my life. A friend found me one day, and the housemaster was alerted. Going home and breaking the news to my parents was awful, my mum had such a vacant expression on her face, and they both didn’t know what to say or do.

 How would you describe your experience of self-harm and depression?

The best way I can describe the experience of depression is an all-consuming heaviness. Everything, even small trivial things people take for granted, like getting into University, seemed tricky. I started missing lectures that worried me.

The world begins to look cloudy, and what once was vibrant was just dull.

It really felt like my body was intolerant to happiness, I could be having a fantastic day but as soon as I got back to my house and sat in my room it was as if my body had an allergic reaction to doses of happiness that were too high, and I’d be plummeted into lowness. Self-harming was my way of connecting my feelings with a visible representation; I could focalise my feelings visibly onto myself. It felt like all the thoughts in my head needed a physical tangibility.

 What impact did it have on your relationships?

I felt really ashamed for my problem; I hid a lot and wore long sleeved tops. But it always felt like I was hiding from myself. I didn’t want others to see, I couldn’t deal with the questions and judgment, so I pushed many people away. But it made the relationships with those who I did trust to tell stronger – they were part of my support network.

 When my parents first found out they wanted me to move back home and focus on getting well, but I refused, I need goals and distractions that take my eyes off the problem. Plus I am stubborn. I felt that because I was so independent, this was something I could handle on my own, but my parents always reminded me that they were there for me. It’s just that I didn’t reach out to them much. I knew that it was a personal problem, it was my problem, and so I wanted to fix it. I had moved away from home therefore I didn’t want my parents help. My relationship with my mum has never been great though.

 Do you know what triggered your depression and self-harm?

Not really, no. Shortly after disclosing the issue to my parents I started getting psychotherapy, which gave me ample time to talk about issues and explore the problem more, but I have never been able to pinpoint exactly a trigger. Even now I can wake up and know when a day will be good or bad but I still can’t say why.

 My relationship with my mum has always been a slight irritant, and I guess that didn’t help. I come from a family of lawyers and I was the one who decided to go against the grain, mainly because I resented Law so much from the dominating impact the subject had on many family gatherings and meals. I chose to study English Literature and French, which then made me feel more inclined to keep up this perfect persona because I felt I had to prove myself, and my choice not to do law, to the family.

 As well as that, I had a relationship breakdown when I went home for Christmas the second year I was in boarding school. He was a very dear friend of mine and we decided to become an item, but I got rejected shortly after we became more intimate. I think guys forget how impactful they can be to a young girls self esteem – they may not be aware of hang ups or body issues they have and this can really scar someone and any future relationships. Luckily I am in a very supportive and happy relationship now.

 Through your battle with depression and S-H what positive coping strategies have you learnt to help you?

Music has helped me hugely and always been a constant in my life. I find it humbling and often listen to playlists when I do my creative writing.

I think as well accepting the problem has helped me acknowledge and accept that there will be good and bad days, but that’s ok. I know at times the urge to self-harm will be there but I have good, trusting, housemates who I can be around (even if I’m not feeling social).

Playing Squash and keeping active does help me because I want to be able to compete and play for teams but can’t do so if I’ve self-harmed because of the kit. I missed out on the ‘Tournament of Champions’, which is a fantastic opportunity to play with some top athletes in the sport, but I didn’t want anyone seeing my arms.

 Seeing how much concern my loved ones have for me has helped me to value myself a lot more. You begin to try and see what they see, and even though positive affirmation when you’re low doesn’t seem to sink in, just having the love of others makes me value what I have more.

My boyfriend has been very understanding of it as well, and I know how much it would hurt him to see my body harmed in any way, and so pleasing him and keeping our relationship sturdy also helps.

 Are there things that haven’t helped?

Hasn’t helped…I think looking back. For me alcohol is a trigger, I will be fine before and on the night out, but as soon as I get in at whatever early hour in the morning, it’s rock bottom. I found then seeing pictures of the night hard and unhelpful.

 Asking myself “why me?” was also not helpful. It’s so easy to beat yourself down about a problem. There was no major life event or adversity I experienced, so why did I feel this way? This perception that I believed people had of me to be this perfect girl, who could take on anything, prevented me getting help. It’s knowing it’s OK to need help and coming out of the denial.

 As well, I think stigma doesn’t help. There have definitely been times I’ve been worried what people would think and having to hide your problems is difficult and can prevent wanting to reach out for help.

 You’re a fantastic squash player, and keep fit in the gym, do you find sport and exercise helps you?

It does and it doesn’t. My eating has never been affected by my depression; my weight has fluctuated, but just the same as anyone’s does. Sport definitely helps me stick to routine as it’s a release, and lifting weights is empowering. It’s a good feeling to feel like you’re empowering yourself from a state where you’ve felt so small. There are times when I’ll have a bad gym session or squash lesson and I’ll feel powerless again. It’s just about knowing that there will always be the good days and the bad days, and being okay with that.

There was one incident where my self-harm was very bad, and it nearly took me away from playing Squash, and I think that was an eye opener for me and what was really important in my life. Occasionally I have taken the odd training day off when my mood has been low and I’ve wanted time on my own.

 What advice would you give to someone experiencing the same/similar problems?

Have a triangle of support ready for you:

  1. A go-to activity: something you adore doing that you have the energy to do regardless of your mood. For me it’s my creative writing and music.
  2. Professional help: this is so important because it’s likely that your friends and family won’t be able to give you sound medical advice. Issues like this are serious and do need to be properly monitored and handled by someone who knows what they’re dealing with.
  3. Friends/Family: they are vitally important for the sentimental side of things, especially when you just need to have someone to lean on.

 It’s always good to have positives to look back on. When I feel really low I like to remind myself of what I’ve achieved, especially in my writing. I had one occasion where I sent a chapter I’d written to a friend and got such a positive response it just boosted me; it’s my dream to be a bestselling author.

 Go on then, tell us your top ‘must reads’:

  1. Perks of being a wallflower (by Stephen Chbosky)
  2. All the bright places (by Jennifer Niven)

And what’s your go-to song?

Umm that’s hard! Probably a song by Prides called “The Kitestring and the Anchor Rope”

My interview with her really allowed the rawness of her experience to surface, and as we departed I felt honored to be allowed a glimpse into the world that she has faced, and the battles that she has learnt to armor herself against. It saddened me that this beautiful young lady should be subjected to such mental torment. I have huge thanks and admiration for her bravery and honesty.  I have no doubt with the air of authority and certainty she spoke with, that she will go forward to reach fantastic feats regardless of set backs.

I hope this account has been both informative and eye opening for you.

If you have been affected by anything you have read in this interview, or need to speak to someone about an issue that has come up please view the links below:

Mind Helpline:

Samaritans Website:

2015 Reflections and 2016 New Beginnings

2015 has flown by and when I looked back there was just SO much that I’d done/accomplished…it’s so incredible what you can fit into 12 months. It’s been a rocky start to 2016 with a few ‘events’ that have really knocked me down a little/a lot. But in a way, it’s really helped me reflect on the positives and help me come up with some great ‘goals’ for 2016.                   So without further ado, here are my top 2015 highlights and 2016 goals! J enjoy!

University: This year has seen me push myself academically, managing to obtain a 1st for my second year, which I have no idea how that happened with the amount of socialising and fitness I squeezed in alongside studying!! I also started my placement as a research assistant in the Neuroscience Department at Surrey University under a very prestigious and encouraging professor and have come up with (a few) exciting new projects, one of which should be taking off this year. I was also lucky enough to have a article I wrote chosen for publication in a BPS magazine (British Psychological Society) which will be released this month!

Tough Mudder/Fundraising: I was awarded a “gold medal fundraiser” status by Just in September, and picked as a top fundraiser for 2015 for raising over 1k, with my friend Laura, for the mental health charity Mind. We ran the 12-mile, London South, Tough Mudder; the single most fun but mentally and physically demanding challenge I’ve ever undertaken. I was in the Surrey Advertiser twice and had an interview on the local radio station. This was very exciting and I was thrilled that we raised so much for a cause so close to my heart.

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BBC 2, Victoria Derbyshire Show: This was exciting! I had never watched this show much to be honest, but a housemate of mine had it on one day and I caught the end credits saying they wanted people who had an experience in mental health to apply for a debate show. Now, being a person who can’t sit still for one moment, and strongly enthusiastic about issues regarding the stigma surrounding mental health, I got emailing them straight away, and before I knew it I had done two separate appearances which have hopefully helped raise awareness and sparked public interest n this area. Boom.


Conquer-ED: As a result of this I decided to set up Conquer-ED. My website designed for all my blogging and motivational little rants which aim to help people with eating disorders recover, redefine themselves and rediscover life. I had a fantastic chance to network at the Surrey University Enterprise Summer School, a three-day event for budding entrepreneurs, which I got lots of help and advice from guest speakers and also my team won the whole event winning a free membership to the Institute of Directors.

Hannah’s Wedding: I can’t think of anything better than seeing one of my dearest friends walk down the aisle to marry the man of her dreams. The look on his face was priceless; she was an absolute vision (no surprise there she’s a babe!). From the hen party camping in Dorset (yes I did swim in the Sea even though, to put it politely, the temperature was a little nippy) to the trip up to Leeds for the wedding, this was a fabulous occasion filled with so much happiness, friends, drinking and dancing!


Disney Land: Nowhere does Christmas like Disney! I teared up a little when I entered the park. Yes I am aware that’s a tad lame. Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster was my favourite ride – well they are my fave band J I met sleeping beauty, and had an amazing time running riot around the parks with one of my best girl mates.

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Badminton Social Secretary: I love this role because given the chance I could talk and socialize for England – I love getting to know people and making new friends, and this role allows me to do just that whilst playing a really fun sport! Fabulous! I’ve made new friends, laughed loads, got fitter and am playing better than ever.



2016 Goals

  1.  London’s Toughest for Charity: I want to make it a yearly thing that I do an event for charity. I obviously caught the bug for these types of events as this April sees me taking on London’s Toughest – less running more obstacles!!! My friend Callum and I will be fundraising for CLIC Sargent, a charity helping support young people fighting cancer – so keep a look out for more posts about this! Or if you want to join our team, follow this link and check the event out:
  1. Catch up and have coffee more with people: This year is the year for coffee shops, pub nights, writing long letters, and dropping random messages of love and best wishes to those special people J you never know it could be just what they need on that day!
  2. Be patient: In all areas of life.
  3. Find a routine that suits my lifestyle: I am a morning person. I can get up and going at 5/6am but often don’t use my time as productively as I could. If I do a morning workout by the time I’ve got home, washed, dressed, eaten…I make it into the office for 11! So it’s my goal to find a routine that fits my needs, enables me to work in my office, workout in the gym, and have time for seeing friends/family/job. Boom.
  4. Learn to ‘rest’ on rest days: this needs no explanation. I am always keeping busy, active rests are great, but I need to also not feel guilty about having proper rest days and recovering. I should use these days to productive in my research and blogging! 🙂
  5. Take up a new sport: Boxing or rowing…these two I feel drawn towards! I also need to run outside more instead of a treadmill.
  6. Go on holiday! For my 24th (oh my goodness I feel old) I would like to leisurely cycle the Isle of Weight Coastal Path with friends. But I also want a holiday where I can get on a plane and fly somewhere completely different. Ideally I’d love to go skiing. The dream is Australia, but my bank account says otherwise. But I am itching for some adventures and to get away from Guildford.
  7. Spend less time on social media and read more: I waste too much time on apps. It’s poisonous and addictive. But often the hours spent on these sites could’ve been spent writing a blog, reading the news (I need to read more!) seeing friends, and just doing something a million times more fun…like eating ice cream and not being made to feel bad about it by Instagram.


A big thank you to all those who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and the new friends I’ve made in 2015! J I think I’ve learnt more about myself this year than ever before, I feel more grounded in myself knowing what I love, the sorts of people who energise me, the mechanisms that keep me fit and well, and just who and what make me happy to be me!

My advice for 2016: Surround yourself with people who build you up to reach your full potential.

“Reach for the Sky”