Self-Help, Miracles, Addiction and Freedom – My 2019 Reading List

Something that I really got into towards the end of last year was reading. Reading used to be a form of escapism for me as a child, I’d read and read and read until I ran out of books then it would be back to the library for more! As the story goes, I grew older and social media became much more prevalent, and although my love for reading never died, it sort of took a bit of a time out.

Fast forward to the end of last year, I ordered “Spirit Junkie” by Gabrielle Bernstein off a recommendation from a friend, and as soon as I picked it up it reignited that flame of passion for reading all over again.

When I was younger I loved story books: the imagination it brought out in me, the twists and turns, the deep emotional connect I felt to certain characters and feeling like I could turn a page and be transported into a whole new world.

Reading has become a form of escapism again, but not so much in an ‘away with the fairies’ sense, more of reading about spirituality, healing and connect – allowing me to envision a better life and strengthening a new mindset for myself.

“Overcoming Binge Eating” Christopher Fairburn

Before reading “Spirit Junkie”, I actually read “Overcoming Binge Eating” by Christopher Fairburn and although I don’t have a binge eating disorder, it was recommended by my eating disorder psychologist so I read it and found a lot of my recovery to be based around what was written in that book. I also got a lot of coping mechanisms from it, as well as it being the most logical way of understanding your own individual eating disorder and recovery.


“Add More -Ing To Your Life”, “May Cause Miracles”, “Miracles Now”, “Judgement Detox” and “The Universe Has Your Back” Gabrielle Bernstein

On my reading list I have of course got the rest of Gabrielle Bernstein’s publications! I find her style of writing super relatable and easy going. She tackles massive issues and tricky life changes but makes it all sound so easy (because it is)! I would definitely recommend her for those starting out on a new spiritual journey to happiness and miracles!


“The Untethered Soul” and “The Surrender Experiment” Michael A Singer

Searching to find out who you really are? In “The Untethered Soul” – which I am very excited to read – expect to reach into your inner depths, focussing on meditation, energies flowing and gaining confidence in yourself. These two books are on my list for that exact reason. Once I have found more about inner peace, I want to learn how to practice it, how to engage myself and open my life up more for positive change and ultimate inner freedom and happiness.


“The Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle

Eckart Tolle…wow, just simply wow! If you are yet to come across any of his work I’d firmly recommend watching his interviews on YouTube and just listen to him speak. This book covers how to truly live in the moment, something that I have partially learned already thanks to watching some of his work online.

It was in fact Eckhart Tolle’s work that gave me the initial kick up the bum to surrender myself and to reach in for inner, true happiness and contentment.

I couldn’t recommend a spiritual teacher enough, so I am really excited to get my teeth stuck in to this book!


“The Atlas of Happiness” Helen Russell

I came across this book by chance it it just looks super sweet! Little pockets of happiness from all over the world to help you learn inner happiness in a fun and spontaneous way. Learn how different cultures and countries in a light-hearted and uplifting manner! I’ll definitely be ordering this one next as it seems like the perfect bite-sized early morning/late night/waiting for your coffee to brew kind of read.


“Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions” Russell Brand

Again, recommended by a friend, I am excited to get sunk into this one! Having an eating disorder, for me, came with a whole host of bad habits that formed into addictions in what felt like a blink of an eye. Now that I’m working so hard not only on my recovery but on my spiritual freedom, these addictions now feel out of place but I can’t just pick them up and put them in the bin (if only!).

I absolutely adore Russell Brand and I find his journey to sobriety really inspiring, so this is up at the top of my list too!

His next book “Mentors: How to Help and Be Helped” is out at the end of this month too so I’m very curious as to how the two link together.


“Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness and Making Miracles” Marianne Williamson

I’ve wanted to read some of Marianne’s work since discovering Gabrielle Bernstein, as I know a lot of her work is inspired by Williamson’s. I think that this book will be my perfect companion on my spiritual journey.


“Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and other lies) Scarlett Curtis

First of all, I absolutely adore Scarlett Curtis. This book has been on my reading list since it came out! Scarlett curated this book with writings from 52 inspirational women who were posed with the question “what does the F word mean to you?” in order to gauge exactly what being a woman means to them. I’m intrigued to see the results but mostly to open my eyes to different women’s stances on feminism. A friend said the book was hilarious and hard hitting all in one go, so I am super interested! Again, another early morning book I think, with snippets to easily draw in to.


If I’m totally honest, I can only see this list getting longer, so I better get reading pretty sharpish if I want to get through these initial ones! I’d originally said a book a month but I’m going to be running out of months soon…

However, on that note, any book recommendations?!

I am living for self-help books at the moment in case that wasn’t obvious, but anything light-hearted, funny and empowering is also appreciated!

What books are you reading at the moment?

All my love,

Maddie x

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World Mental Health Day 2018

Today is World Mental Health Day, in case you missed the thousands of social media posts filling up your feed today!

Part of me wanted to just silently nod toward it and move on, however I have now found myself sat in the study room with a big bottle of water, my laptop and a promise to myself to just let it all out.

I tend to say something every year about this day in particular, “look out for your friends” or “speak out”, but this year I’m going full unfiltered, uncensored ramble, because I’ve recently figured that exactly that works best for me. (sorry in advance ūüėõ)


I have had quite the battle with my mental health over the past ten years I’d say. I remember clearly the day I was diagnosed with depression, which came a number of years after I started to feel “not quite myself”,¬†and everyone close to me disbelieved it, with comments like “what do you have to be depressed about?!” being flung at me left, right and centre. But truly, what¬†did¬†I have to be depressed about? At the time I was in college, I’d found my people, studying a course I was passionate about, working with an amazing bunch of staff and I had a great social life. I think that was the moment when I realised that even if everything is seemingly ‘perfect’, you could still struggle.

That was 7 years ago, and I have been on and off medication since. Upon reflection, I’m not surprised that I wasn’t in a good place – I was in debilitating pain almost daily (thanks to undiagnosed chronic illnesses), and I was struggling with my eating (maccies fries and a large diet coke every single day for lunch for two years is not¬†normal eating, despite me truly believing that all was fine at the time). Oh, isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!

Fast forward to right now, and I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve wrote about mental health with a clear head. In fact, this is the first time in 7 years that I have had a clear head, even if it still fogs up some times.

Which actually seems crazy, pardon the pun.


The past 7 months have been the most challenging for me mentally. 7 months ago, I broke down to my parents and told them about my eating disorder, and how hopeless I had been feeling. A month prior, I had gone to my GP (who was so bloody wonderful by the way) and had a very similar conversation which resulted in an eating disorder clinic referral…of which that resulted in a two year wait.¬†I remember so clearly feeling distraught, I had just, what felt like, told the world my deepest darkest secrets, the world promised me help, and then within a week it was taken from me as fast as I’d got it, which ultimately ended in me sobbing to my parents over a Chinese take-a-way a month later saying “I just don’t¬†like¬†food” (current me would be sooooo mad at past me for wasting Chinese food).

My parents, I adore them and I know that they love me and would literally do anything for me, even if they have a funny way of showing it – I think it’s just a parent thing!

My mom immediately researched where I could see somebody privately, and before I knew it I was in for an assessment at an eating disorder clinic, where I was accepted onto the program.

And, as they say, the rest is history.


The past 7 months have been the hardest of my life. I ditched everyone I cared about and loved and had to be 110% selfish and put myself first, and that was so fucking difficult. I am, however, very lucky to have the most incredibly supportive friends who allowed me to fly the nest, with a space promised for me upon my return.

I have had to dig up some real shitty things, relive the lowest of low moments in my life; face and fight my destructive coping mechanisms (still working on this one, I must admit), open up about my biggest regrets, the moments I am most shameful of and the shambles my life has been since my bad brain moved in and set up camp in my head, taking away sassy, sarcastic, bubbly, irresponsible, kind, loving and ballsy brain that was once there before. I like to think I am pretty close to getting her back though.


Facing your past demons, working through them and letting them go, is the most freeing thing a person can do, I believe. It is so fucking hard but the rewards way out-weight the feeling of guilt, regret and shame of the former you.

I am not the whole way there yet, but I am being realistic and taking each day as it comes. I have worked my ass off in therapy and in clinic with doctors and professionals teaching me how to free myself of my eating disorder and move into a new life.

For the first time in the longest time, I am truly, honestly, hand-on-heart so fucking proud of myself.


Having an off-whack mental health condition is not something to be ashamed of. I am thankful of all of my shame, guilt and past decisions, and I say that with all sincerity. I have learned so much from the person I used to be, and it will all be so valuable for the rest of my life.

I actually think that for the first time in my life, I am looking forward to living, which may sound utterly bizarre, but I have spent however long living in the shadow of the woman that I really am.

Poor mental health does not make you a bad person, it doesn’t make you any less of a deserving human being. When you are ready, put you whole heart and soul into recovery because speaking from experience, it is so damn worth it.


Now, in my case, I have a bit of work to do. I am currently within touching distance of being discharged from the clinic and I refuse to let it all be for nothing. I’m moving on with the things I have learned and I am adapting them to my every day life.

I am being realistic. I will still have wobbles, panics and set backs, but what I have learned over the past 7 months have best equipped me to move forward and deal with my demons.


Never be ashamed, wear your insecurities like a badge of honour and freaking own it. Reach out for help, demand help, don’t just ask. Remind yourself that you are¬†worth it and you¬†do deserve guidance and help.

I 100% owe my life to the medical professionals, family, friends, boyfriend, lecturers, strangers and other patients at the clinic who share a nod and a smile, who have seen me through the worst year of my life but more importantly, into what is becoming the best life that I can and will live in for the remainder of my days.

Speak up, speak out and never, ever be ashamed.


*I would also like to add that if you are struggling, eating disorder specific here, I could not recommend Beat enough. They were there for me to turn to when I felt like I couldn’t speak with anyone else, and have amazing support in the form of recovery information sheets, friendly staff on their helplines (which specialise in general, youth and student), their online web chats and all the information a family member or friend could need regarding what eating disorders actually are (I know this one came in handy for those around me who didn’t quite understand).*


Happy World Mental Health Day 2018, 

See you soon, 

Journaling Maddie 

xxxxx

July 2018

July has been a bit of a whirlwind month for me, as has August so far hence the delay in this post going up!


The month began with Max, his parents and their friends all having a cute garden party. It was all very sweet with some delicious nibbles and drinks being passed around alongside great company and conversation. The 28 degree heat and glorious sunshine definitely played a part too!


Getting to see Erin and Gina is a dream as of late. When I left school at 16 life took us all in very different directions, and the 7 years that have passed have been difficult in a sense of trying to see each other or even having time to send messages between ourselves. But this Summer has been amazing for being able to see them, and I am grateful for our patience over the past 7 years that we managed to persevere because being able to see them semi regularly has been super rewarding!
We take it in turns to host nights, and I was in charge this time! Vegan pizza & ice cream, wine, board games, gossip and catch ups, it’s like no time has passed at all.


The wonderful Angela dyed my hair but you can read all about that right here.


The journey to Huddersfield began and I decided to stop at Manchester for a little catch up with Amy and Sara which was lovely!


With the World Cup in full swing we went to watch the semi’s at Corner (a fave cute find Huddersfield) with so much hope for the England team but we were left feeling totally deflated when we lost. We did however have a great evening, throughout the whole world cup the general spirit of the nation was so surprising and uplifting!


The weekend was spent enjoying the sunshine, drinking cold coffee in Espresso corner and pottering around town. We got to see The Incredibles 2, which definitely lived up to expectations, I felt like a big kid all over again! Afterwards I wished that we had watched the first one directly beforehand, but regardless, it was a great watch and I really want to see it again.

I planned a surprise date night for Max on my last evening in Hudd. Whilst he was at work I tidied the house top to bottom, pre-ordered Dominos, got out some freshly washed pj’s, lit some candles and poured two gin and lemonades. Once he was home from work the pizza arrived and we put on his choice of film, ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (not a bad choice but not quite ‘Clueless’…) and snuggled up into bed and just had the most chill evening we have had in a long time. It was lovely just to see Max truly be able to relax after months of hard work!


Erin told G and me of a pub quiz in one of our fave local hangs, so we headed down and absolutely bottled it if I’m totally honest hahaha! But it was such good fun, we did come 3rd so at least we weren’t last and we had such a laugh and a much needed catch up.


My parents took me out for a meal at a local tapas restaurant. Now, this was a big deal for me, two things terrify me when it comes to eating, 1. Public eating, and 2. Tapas. This was a big, emotional hurdle for me but the world didn’t crumble around me and I didn’t implode so that’s a massive step forward! But moving onwards…


Erin, G and I went to ASK Italian for a catch up and I ate exclusively vegan, which is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. As I have previously mentioned, I am in eating disorder recovery and I am on a very strict eating schedule currently. I have been vegetarian for a while, but skip out on dairy to try and help control my endometriosis better. I’d love to go vegan but it’s not the right time for me in my recovery, but eating out I do challenge myself to eat vegan!

I had the most beautiful customised vegan pizza with peppers, mushrooms and olives and a delicious glass of wine!

It was the perfect time for a good long catch up and we spent hours upon hours chatting which was much needed for all three of us.


The next day was a long car journey up to Huddersfield, in an attempt to move Max from one house to another with his parents. We took a break and went to Halifax again for the day, it was an odd combination of blue skies, 30 degree heat and sunshine, mixed with random bursts of thunder and lightning rain storms!

I was worried John (the cat) wouldn’t be about especially with the weather being so bad, but he pulled through and came to say goodbye, which broke my tiny heart, I love him so so so much and I firmly believe that he always knew when I was feeling down, he would always pop up whenever I was having a bad day. I know it sounds crazy and kind of cheesy but that street cat was my absolute fave and always cheered me up!

Of course it would be torrential the weekend of moving house, but we managed to get it done over the two days and felt very accomplished whilst sat in the new house eating Chinese food and having a good catch up with Joe and Chris.


After a couple of days of settling into the new house, we jumped back on a train and I went straight into work, before packing for 110 Above Festival.

This festival is really special to me, Max and I have been going for the past 3 years, the first year we attended by chance, whilst we were looking for something to do over our anniversary weekend, we loved the line up so had a bit of a ‘yolo’ moment and we haven’t looked back since!

But that will have a whole separate other post, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for that one!


Some July faves…

Album / Playlist: The 110 Above Festival playlist on Spotify to prep me for the festival at the start of next month!

Song:¬†Another The 1975 track this month (soz, not soz) “Love It If We Made It”, major heart eyes.

TV / Movie: Started watching Ackley Bridge, was so sceptical at first as it just seemed like a new era Waterloo Road but I am really enjoying it so far

Place:¬†I feel like my feet haven’t really touched the ground this month, so my favourite place this month would have to be the train!

Memory:¬†Getting to see my lovely Erin and G, it makes the world of difference when I’m stuck at home.

Accomplishment: This will have to be going for tapas and not having a total meltdown! A big F you to my eating disorder and a big step forward in my recovery!!


This month was lovely, intense, hard, and all the emotions in between, balancing the socialising, travelling, full time working, weekly hospital appointments and regular flare ups, it’s all getting a bit much!

So please in advance accept my apologies for the potential lack in posts over the next month or two. I’m about to hit a very crucial point in my eating disorder recovery process and I need to give it 110%, so I’m possibly going to have to put the blog on the back burner for the foreseeable as my recovery is my main priority right now.

I hope you all had a beautiful July and I will see you soon,

All of my love as always,

Journaling Maddie 

xxxx

,

Relapsing During Recovery 

TW: Eating disorder recovery, relapse and mental health. Specifically focusing on restriction relapse. No weight / calorie numbers will be in this post.

 

¬†¬†I’ve been seeing a wonderful doctor at an incredible eating disorder clinic for the past few months. Over the past month I have been sticking to a very strict eating schedule to try and help me get into the swing of standard eating patterns and slowly reintroducing food to my day to day life.

I saw my doctor last Friday who was, albeit frustrated that my weight is still declining, really proud of me for sticking to my new schedule. In all honesty, I found the schedule easy because of who I am as a person. It wasn’t the eating that was easy, but the timekeeping was.

Knowing that I had free range over what I ate and portion sizes made it a lot easier for me. He was keen for me to start increasing portion sizes as we are currently on a two week gap from seeing each other again, and was concerned that my weight would plummet further.

During the conversation, I was feeling really positive about this next step! However, a couple of days ago I had a total breakdown, up until then I had been sticking religiously to my eating schedule.

The issue with this was that we hadn’t discussed what to do in that moment, if I did relapse.¬†I came to the conclusion that I just wasn’t hungry, but that isn’t a good enough excuse not to eat whilst going through such an intense recovery process. I felt like a failure, the thought of eating consumed my mind for hours and hours, so much so that I was 3 hours off the time on my schedule.¬†I honestly didn’t know what to do.

For my eating disorder, I have learned through recovery, it is self destructive to restrict in the way that I do, however in that moment I felt that if I did eat anything, then it would result in further, different self destructive behaviours.

After hours of deliberating, I turned to beatED, the leading eating disorder charity in the UK. I’ve never used their services before, but I felt like I was in such despair and in a really tricky and stressful situation.¬†I was connected to a lovely woman on the live chat within a minute and it was the most helpful, and calming situation I could’ve wished for in that moment.

I explained my dilemma, and just had a full blown negative rant to be honest! The woman asked me more questions and we had an honest chat about everything, my recovery so far, my support system and what the charity could do for me. After around 40 minutes my head had stopped spinning and I felt like I could make a clear, informed and calm discussion as to what to do in that moment.

I made an informed decision to skip the meal, and although I was initially riddled with the feeling of guilt, reading back over my conversation with the lovely lady at Beat, I knew that in that instance, I had made the correct decision for my wellbeing and immediate health.

I never expected recovery to be easy, but after riding a semi positive wave, I was upset to have relapsed during my recovery.

But knowing that tomorrow will always be a new day is a very comforting thought.

Recovery isn’t a sprint, it’s a bloody long marathon, a tough one at that, and I am really proud of myself for even accepting help after years and years of the eating disorder taking over every single aspect of my life.¬†

It’s going to be a long road, and I feel like I’m starting all over again and the past few months of hard work were all for nothing, but know in reality that that isn’t the case.

I’m armed with knowledge to over power & combat my eating disorder, and I’m excited to pick up the pieces and give it another go.

If anyone is struggling, or wants to support a loved one going through a tough time with an eating disorder, I couldn’t recommend beatED enough! It’s an incredibly supportive and kind community that I feel lucky to have at my finger tips.
Much love,

Journaling Maddie xxx