Just her Cup of Etsy

Mum's the word this Sunday! Although every day is a time to make your mum feel loved, valued and reminded of just how fabulous she is, Mother's day is a chance to really sing it from the rooftops (or hilltops, if you live in do-re-Maria land).

So when it comes to the present, something especially special (a double espr-ecial) is needed. Enter Etsy, which pretty much captures the most wonderful things about mothers: kindness, comfort, creativity, crafty *enter amazing adjective beginning with c".

So here's my (Woody's) roundup of some truly magical gifts for Sunday. If you're in a spin about what to order, these may be just her...

     Cup of Tea     

Mother's day lace cookie, £6.50, Cookie Art London     Custom Slate Coaster, £6.95, Pretty as a Picture     'Thank-you Mum' mug and coaster, £15, A Few Home Truths     
 Vintage teacup candle, £9Lindsay Lucas Candles Chocolate Dragon Eggs, £15, Sweet Lounge     Chocolate Bouquet, £9, Sweet Lounge
For all my fellow Khaleesis out there, it may be hard to resist the chocolate dragon eggs! The only thing that could top this was the "mother of dogs" T-Shirt I saw on Ebay.... I followed the custom-slate road a couple of christmases ago, complete with american shipping, but I've since become wise to the "Uk only" location filter - stay safe kids, use this button! 

I'm still revering from a broken heart, when I tracked a wand-shaped crochet hook to... Illinois. However, if there's one thing the British do well, it's tea, so we're never going to be lost for tea tales here... 
10 teas I love about you, £7, chi chi moi  Teapot typography print, £18, The Little Moo Boutique     '10 things I love about you' scratch card, £10, Nicole Charleston Art

     Mother Nature    

Paper flowers, £15, Alana Phoenix & Co     'If Mothers were Flowers' candle, £6, Lindsay Lucas Candles     'Mama Bear' spoon, £10, The Silver Birdcage     3D paper vase & bouquet, £20, Creaton Crafts    
Books and flowers are two of my favourite things; something my mum and I have in common! I received the loveliest book rose from friends last year, just after I went into treatment, and it always brings a smile to my face. As for the teaspoon... there's no 'bear with me' on this one! My WonderList has never looked this paw-some.
Family tree necklace, £15, Little English Jewellery     Family tree chopping board, £13.99, The Laser Lodge Wooden family tree, £19, Victoria's Stitches 

     Mother House of Magic Cards    

Dumbledore Card, £2, Entirely Your Own     Scrabble Card, £3, Almost Framous     Harry Potter Card, £2, Entirely Your Own     Mrs Potts Watercolour card, £2.20, CoconuTacha     Ron Weasley Card, £2, Entirely Your Own     I Lava You watercolour card, £2.30, CoconuTacha
I have fallen in love.. and my chosen one is an Etsy artist called Aimee, who has created the most amazing HP inspired cards. The name of her shop - Entirely Your Own - makes me ridikkulusly happy and I may be receiving some Owl Post later this week (let's hope my mum isn't reading this!
What's your cup of Etsy? 

A Stitch in Time saves Lives

This year, Eating Disorders Awareness Week is focused on the importance of early intervention. As someone who has personal experience of delayed intervention, along with reading the stories of others, it is an issue I will always lend my voice to. 

As with many things in life, time can have a huge influence on the ability to change. I've used the analogy of learning a language before, when talking about recovery, yet I want to approach it from a new angle; specifically, why recovery grows harder with age and time.

When you are are knee-high to a grasshopper *cue mental image of Picket the Bowtruckle* your mind becomes is like a sponge; you are taking it all in, ready to learn and adopt new ways of speaking. At the start of recovery, I remember being a bit like a sponge, in that outlook. I am by no means saying recovery was easy - if it was I would be recovered! Nevertheless, I was far more ready to embrace the language of recovery, as I could still see my life before the illness.

There is a big difference between existing and living; an eating disorder steals the latter from you. Imagine that, for argument's sake, everyone in the UK is raised bilingually. In this baguette-filled Britain, the French language comes to symbolise the Joy de Vivre of life. Friendships, laughter, travel, love - the difference between an existence and life.

For a small number of people, however, they never continue their lessons beyond the pomme de la terre days. La vie is replaced by the vocabulary of an eating disorder, which erases the smallest joys from your speech. How many of you can recall the French from your Primary School days? My memories consist  of the odd bonjour, a side plate of je m'apelle and a whole sack of pomme de la terre. For some odd reason, I really loved that word. Yet if you don't speak a word of French for 6 years of your life, 22--old you is going to be one confused little spud on that next trip to France.
I do strongly believe that recovery is NEVER impossible; or rather, I have to believe this for my own (future) sanity. Nevertheless, the longer you live exist with an eating disorder, the more it becomes your 'normal'. The effort on your part, to remember the language of life, is that much greater.

So, on that note, what pomme de terres and recovery have in common, besides the joy of French Fries? Answer: they are alien; abnormal; unrecognisable to your ears, eyes, mind... and reality.  This is the encompassing reality of an eating disorder; recovery should be the most natural thing in the world, yet the illness brings a language entirely of its own. With dangerously effective methods of teaching, it replaces logic with a 24/7 lesson on lies and limitations.

Consequently, you reach fluency with terrifying speed. Through the mirror monster on the wall, everything is distorted in the blink of an eye. The illness becomes your native language, directing 1001 criticisms at Mr Spud and tossing the french fry into the fire. It is a dictionary of censure, rules and restrictions; moreover, the longer you spend with this language, the more foreign your mother tongue becomes. 
Looking back on my own experience, I was struggling with an eating disorder for over a year before treatment. My parents raised their concerns with my diabetes consultant at the time, who dismissed it and in turn silenced any inclination I had to speak up. Deep down, I wanted them to intervene, yet this didn't happen under my paediatric team; conversely, the consultant used my "excellent" HBA1C (underlying blood sugar) as evidence to counter the numerous 'red flags' of weight loss, blood test results, behaviours and - most importantly - my mental state. 

It was only after I moved to the young adults clinic and was reunited with my childhood diabetes nurse, that the eating disorder was diagnosed and the process of treatment began. My nurse immediately identified that something was wrong, yet also realised how entrenched the illness had become; not least of all due to the complexities of my diabetes, which I've dedicated a whole post too (because I do love a ramble, in case you hadn't noticed...!)

Nevertheless, my treatment was delayed further by the cliff edge of CAMHS/Adult services. I was referred to CAMHS 3 months before my 18th birthday, only to be told that it was "pointless" to begin psychological treatment" prior to my transfer - so, like Wayne Rooney at Manchester United, I wasn't getting a game with CAMHS. What's more, the psychologist helpfully wrote that I "didn't meet the criteria for bulimia because of x/ didn't meet the criteria for anorexia because of y". Let's just say that, by my 18th birthday, I did meet their "criteria" for the latter. 

Since then, my treatment has been bittersweet; my new diabetes team, especially my nurse, have been hugely supportive and helped me access both IP and OP treatment at STEPs. My diabetes nurse and the staff at STEPs have been like a translator; a vital means of communication between me and my loved ones. On the other hand, I've been ever so slightly vocal about my negative experience with Exeter services, which I've spoken about on here, Exeposé and Huffington Post. Those early incidences of delayed treatment have had a huge impact on my mental and physical health, and my case is not unique. 

It is why early intervention is so important. If this foreign language can be detected and early on, the chances of being heard are so much higher. An eating disorder exploits miscommunication. Sufferers are often scared of speaking out, for fear of being misunderstood; consequently, they become more entrenched in the eating disorder language. Yet if this is identified near the beginning, treatment can help to restore a positive mindset and recover healthy communication. 

Moreover, effective treatment needs to target the language itself, rather then the solitary words of meal plan and weight - the pomme de la terries of recovery. This is a mental illness. Yes, weight recovery is important; CBT treatment, for example, is ineffective before adequate nutrition and weight is restored. However, one pomme de la terre is not going to achieve fluency (despite what my primary school French teacher may have believed).

Mental Health services need early intervention and treatment. The argument of "it costs too much" is not addressing the future repercussions of early negligence. Emotional argument aside, the risk of SEED (severe and enduring eating disorder) cases is far greater, leading to more crisis interventions, more hospital admissions and the inability to hold down a job. Yet when we consider the fatal voice of this illness, the true cost cannot be measured

You cannot recover a life that has ceased to exist. You cannot give words to irreversible silence. This illness needs to be listened to from the beginning. A stich in time can save lives; the individuals with so much more to say and a right to recover their voice. 

There are not enough words to illustrate the value of this. The value of being heard. 

Over-Analysis and New-Sky Thinking

I have a long-standing relationship with negative over-analysisWe've outlasted 90% of Hollywood marriages, 82% of my University degree and 2016. 


The only person with that kind of sticking power is Jeremy Corbyn.

Yet despite this longevity, our marriage is anything but functional. Clearly NOA didn't get the memo about "love and cherish", because the idea of equal paternership is quite lost on him. Contrary to his name twin, NOA isn't the biggest fan of fluffy animals or staying dry. Conversely, he seems to quite enjoy a flood; each day brings a fresh storm of anxieties, doubts and "what-ifs?", and I don't even have an Ark for respite.


In the world according to NOA, nothing is ever 'just right'. Imagine you were choosing between 200 varieties of apple in your local supermarket, or picking a paint colour from 51 shades of 'off-white'. Now, imagine that this applies to every single decision you make

It's a marriage made in re-tell; a dejavu list of everything that could go wrong; a prediction of failure. Before I even face those 200 apples, I am second-guessing the number itself. Why didn't I pick 100, or 300? What if my choice of '200' apples alienates 50% of readers? 

This has now gone up to 60%, because I picked 50%... Wow, I could really do with an Ark. 

For as long as I can remember, every decision has a context; a prequel, an extra line, another chapter... Maybe, if I'm lucky, one sentence could become a three-part blockbuster. Just call me Peter Jackson. Yet while I'd happily watch Tolkien till the Hobbits come home, NOA's story is getting a bit old.

It''s the same script again and again. It's The same relentless, critical, questioning antagonist. So why have I stuck to NOA like Mr Wormwood and super-super-glue? It doesn't exactly make me feel super about myself. I don't have numbers racing around my head because I want to be the next Einstein. If I accidentally knock my right knee, I don't merrily knock the left one for the fun of it; conversely, to quote Ross Gellar "I bruise like a peach". I don't get happy hormones by telling myself that I'm not good enough/a bad person/a burden to others.
Trust me, 101 dalmatians sound infinitely merrier than 101 doubts and fears. Yet that's the thing about mental illnesses; you don't choose to think this way. It becomes your normal, It is why recovery is so very difficult, despite seeming the most logical thing in the world.

If we revisit our Friend Mr Tolkien - because LOTR is always a good idea - he provides a rather brilliant case study on the subject: Gollum. So pop you metaphorical cap on and bear with me! Firstly, imagine that you are Gollum (feel free to scream "my precious" in the middle of the street." Now, imagine that NOA as the one ring. You love and hate it, but you cannot imagine a life beyond it.

The ring, like a mental illness, is the ultimate paradox; it runs on emptiness, feeds off starvation and functions through dysfunction. Over the years, mental paralysis has driven my physical life to a standstill, yet NOA mercilessly conceals the path forward.

"Gollum hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself. He will never be rid of his need for it" - Gandalf

Gandalf has a point on the first sentence; however, I will have to disagree with the second part.   A wizard is never late, but he can be wrong. We CAN be rid of it. *cue Samwise voice*


Since starting Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) last month, however, I may finally be able to glimpse a road beyond this. For so many years, I would have believed this to be impossible; Moreover, I think I've already established that there is no surefire answer for mental health recovery. Yet I do feel that CBT could be the fresh approach I need.
Over the years, I have tried private "talking" therapy, two NHS Outpatient groups and self-help strategies; however, they have been a sticking plaster, covering the cracks but not reaching the core issues. Consequently, I have been in a recovery-relapse cycle that has only become more entrenched. Prior to my admission in October, despite the incredible support of my family, I felt more lost than ever.

Cognitive Behavioural therapy is a treatment that I have looked at numerous times in the past; however, I've either been too unwell to engage, or have come face-to-face with an 18 month waiting list (True story. I was toward the end of IP treatment in Bristol, by the time the Exeter referral came through...)  So when the inpatient nursing staff told me I could start CBT, upon discharge, I couldn't quite believe it. What's more, I already knew the therapist I would be working with, as she ran a "self-compassion" group for the Unit.

I am careful to pin all my hopes on this; from the first session, she has stressed that this isn't a 'cure' and setbacks are part of recovery. However, four weeks into CBT and I feel NOA may finally meet his match

"CBT is based on the idea that the way we think about situations can affect the way we feel and act. Unlike other talking treatments, CBT deals primarily with your current situation, rather than issues from your past." 
CBT doesn't try to analyse when or why; instead, it looks at how things can be different. I think this was my issue with 'talking therapy'. While it can work for some people, for me it only fuels the over-analysis paralysis. Although I get the thoughts out - it is certainly 'therapeutic' in that sense - I end up running in circles. NOA doesn't need a listener. He needs a divorce lawyer! I need a plan of action.
I think the key to this is compartmentalisation. I need to approach a situation in the HERE and NOW. Forget blue skies, this is about a new sky - a clean slate - where past decisions and future predictions are put to one side. Quite simply, you can't go through life with the weight of the world in your suitcase, so I need to give each decision a baggage limit. I wouldn't' pack snow boots for the Zahara Desert, so why should I predict 'failure' for a single word choice.

In the time I've spent over-analysing this post alone, I could have bought an Ark from Ebay - I'll be the first to admit that I talk better than walking! Nevertheless, it's a process and processes take time. Through my first 4 weeks of CBT, I've been reminded that recovery is not about that great 'leap of faith' - goals and grand plans - but small, consistent steps in the present. 

So in the name of new-sky thinking and future Ark-bidding, I am going to take one right now. It's taken me two weeks to reach the "publish" button of this post, but I am going to hit it today. NOA wants to re-edit the photos, re-take the photos, re-draw the designs in the photo... oh, and change those 3 synonyms at the start of the post. 

So how will I act? By leaving the photos as they are and the synonyms as they stand. I'm also going to share my latest calligraphy project, which NOA has been toying with for over a week now. It has been restarted no less than 16 times; yes, 16. However, yesterday I rode out the anxiety with a little faith, trust and (metallic marker) dust. I actually acted on the words I was writing. I thought outside the box to complete it...
...and breathe.