30 March 2017

Fundraising, fundraising, fundraising!

Just a quick post…

You may have noticed on my last blog post that I am becoming heavily involved in fundraising for the student mental health charity Student Minds. I am thrilled to say that as a society at Sheffield Hallam University, our first quiz bingo fundraising event went incredibly well and we raised a fantastic £45 for the charity! However, the event meant so much more than just raising money, it allowed people to enjoy a sociable night out with their friends, and I can say that on behalf of the society committee members, we really enjoyed meeting lots of new people! So a huge thank you to everybody that turned up and I hope that you had an enjoyable evening.

I also mentioned on the previous blog post that I would be participating in the Student Colour Run in Sheffield on 29th April 2017 and that I would be doing this 5km run/walk to raise money for Student Minds. Well I now have a fundraising page set up for my first event as a Fundraising Champion, which I am so excited about! This is an individual effort to support the charity with the work that they do and any donations would be greatly appreciated.  You can donate online using the link below…

Finally, on Wednesday 19th April 2017 I will be hosting a pub quiz and raffle at The Black Swan in Eastrington to raise money for another two charities that mean so much to me- Mind and SEED Eating Disorder Support Service. This will be another opportunity for me to pay them back for all of the support they have given me throughout my time in recovery. However, the event will be more of an excuse for me to have a catch up with everyone at home as I make my way back for the Easter break! Even if you do not take part in the quiz, I really hope that you will come and say hello!

It goes without saying that any donations for any of these charities are extremely worthwhile to help support the fantastic work that they do. I completely appreciate that money is precious and that I am doing a lot of fundraising at the moment, but this is because I love feeling as though I am doing my bit to make a difference. I do not expect masses of donations- a small amount of money can go a long way in helping somebody or a group of people. I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their continual support throughout all of my fundraising efforts and I hope that I can continue playing my part in making improvements to mental health charities and the support they can offer.

15 March 2017

One Society Event at a Time...

How has it been one month since my 21st birthday? Where have these past few weeks gone? This last month has honestly been the must surreal catalogue of events and I cannot believe that I am also nearing the end of my first year at university- how has this happened?

Needless to say, following the events of Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017, University Mental Health Day 2017, Sock It to Eating Disorders, the on-going developments of SHSU Mental Health Society and working on assignments and revision for my degree, my emotions have been somewhat scattered. I have been attending lectures, seminars, practicals, scheduling meetings, talking to national charities, gathering marketing materials for support resources, completing assignments and all the while trying to make time for myself. Yes, it has been exceptionally hard, but the fact that I am thoroughly enjoying what I am doing is making it all the more easier. There is no pretending that my chaotic levels of emotion have not played havoc with my disordered thoughts and negative feelings, but I have acknowledged these and tried desperately hard to suppress them. This of course makes meal planning and eating all the more of a challenge, but I am committed to my recovery and I am not minimising my attention to my own health and wellbeing. University life is about balance and as much as I find it an incredibly difficult challenge, I am working on it every day and seeking the necessary help I need to make those steps to move forward.

Anyway! Moving on to the main reason for this post- I promise it is positive! SHSU Mental Health Society is progressing quite nicely and there are even more exciting plans lined up over the coming weeks! However, for now I wanted to share something that I am very proud of and want to work exceptionally hard on…

A few months ago I applied to be a Student Minds Fundraising Champion and to my surprise, I was honoured, alongside 7 other individuals, the title! This means I will be trying my best to fundraise with the committee and student members of SHSU Mental Health Society to generate money for Student Minds, so that they can continue with the fantastic work that they do in improving the mental health of the student population.

So our first event will take place on Tuesday 21st March 2017, where we will be collaborating with SHSU Volunteering Committee to host a Quiz Bingo at Hubspace in the Students Union. Entry will be £1 per person, which will all be donated to Student Minds! We want to use the event as an opportunity for friends to meet up and socialise, but most of all to have a laugh! Of course, as a society, we will be bringing some service signposting resources should anybody like to take one. We are very much looking forward to being involved with this event and we hope that it encourages people to come out and enjoy an alternative activity with their friends!

My next fundraising activity is something I am very excited about (even if I aren’t running!). On 29th April 2017 I will be taking part in the Student Colour Run Sheffield! If you have not heard of this event, please go on their website and follow their social media accounts because it looks like it is going to be so much fun! I am so excited to be taking part in a huge event where I will have the opportunity to meet so many new people- but of course, my main focus is to fundraise! I do not yet have a link to a fundraising page, however, I will be sharing this wherever and whenever possible, and it would be fantastic to have some support. Obviously my fitness levels are not up to scratch and due to previous damaging behaviours, I have told myself that this is not an excuse to go to the gym and train in preparation. I will complete the event and even if that just involves walking or jogging, I am not willing to sacrifice the hard work that I have put in mentally and physically to get where I am today.

So there we have it, a little update on some of the exciting things that I have planned ahead- obviously completely glazing over the mass of assignments and revision I have to complete in the meantime, because I am not living my life to purely strive for academic success. I am living my life to experience joy, pride and happiness!

Please keep an eye out for my donation page when I have got it up and running for the Student Colour Run 2017- your support would be very much appreciated!

For more information about Student Minds, take a look at this link:

4 March 2017

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017

What was expected to be a normal week, quickly turned into a chaotic schedule of radio interviews, TV interviews, newspaper interviews, fundraising and campaigning, as well as attending the usual lectures and seminars. You name it, this week I have done it! But I would not have changed it for the world…

If you had have said to me three years ago that I was going to be actively taking part in Eating Disorder Awareness Week in a few years time, I would have in the first instance asked what an eating disorder was. Now, after having lived experience of this crippling mental illness, I find myself repeatedly digging up my past during this crucial week to raise awareness and increase understanding of what Anorexia Nervosa is and the impact that it had on my life. Although, I do not stop my story at the end of treatment, I ensure that my full journey to date is heard- a story of hope, positivity and belief. I have seen the deepest darkest moments of living with an eating disorder, but now I am living my life with the highest motivation and aspirations. This is the story I want to share, and this is the story that as a sufferer I would want to hear.

During Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Beat- the national eating disorder charity- has focused heavily on their latest report emphasising the role of GPs in being aware of the signs of an eating disorder and ensuring a quick referral to relevant treatments services. This information has been supported with upsetting statistics that show a severe lack of understanding from GPs when it comes to providing advice and services for someone that displays symptoms of an eating disorder. I know that personally I was subjected to what I would hope is a relatively unheard of situation, where my GP miscalculated my BMI; however, as a sufferer trying to find any sense of hope for help and support during this annual campaign, being faced with these facts and figures can be disheartening and weaken the sense of hope for help. Therefore, when sharing my journey, I felt it was crucially important to highlight that help is out there, you just have to be proactive and want to recover! You cannot allow the doors to be slammed in your face, and you cannot stop trying. Look to charities, approach alternative services and most of all, do not take no for an answer. It is exhausting, but it is absolutely worth fighting until you find the right support that suits you. Recovery is possible and you cannot forget that.

One element of Eating Disorder Awareness Week that I have been incredible appreciative of, and noticed a startling difference to last year, is the willingness of the media to discuss the issue. I think this shows an understanding within the industry that they have an element of responsibility in making sure that mental illness is talked about on a national level to help reduce the stigma associated with the topic and increase awareness. This is an incredibly positive step in changing the public’s perception of mental health conditions and I can only hope that encourages people to speak out and reach for help sooner without tragically falling to a critical level of illness.

Of course, speaking out about my condition is not easy. As much as I appear confident and calm when talking about what I have been through, that is because I ultimately focus on the benefits that it may bring to other people. With every interview I regurgitate all of the painful memories, from the frustration of finding treatment to the seclusion of four months in hospital. However, after the interview, I take the time to reflect on these moments in my life and appreciate every step I have challenged to be where I am now.

It is during a week such as this that I realise just how much support I have around me. Undoubtedly, I am aware of the continued support of my close family and friends, but I was also overwhelmed with the willingness of those less immersed in my journey to care for my efforts in raising awareness and fundraising. I cannot thank the staff at Tru Group enough for their donations and involvement in the ‘Sock It to Eating Disorders’ campaign for Beat. We managed to raise £100 for this fantastic charity- incredible!

As hectic as this week has been, I have to say that I would not reduce the involvement I have in raising awareness of eating disorders and fundraising for national and local charities. I love what I do and it motivates me to further myself in my own recovery every single day. During the first stages of my recovery, I focused heavily on recovering for other people and most of the time this is still the case. However, I have started to challenge my mindset in realising that embracing recovery for myself is not selfish- I deserve it. Everyone deserves it.