Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017

Tomorrow marks the start of Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2017 which is run by the UK’s Eating Disorders charity Beat. I’ve never really written about the event before and I can’t quite explain why I feel so compelled to do so now- it could be that as I approach 30 the realisation that I have now spent half of my life living with an eating disorder, or it could be that I feel especially strongly about this years campaign on early intervention. Either way this is a post that has been on my mind for quite some time, with no clear direction on how I want to write it, so please bear with me as I muddle through.
As I mentioned above my eating disorder started when I was 15 years old, however it took a good two years (perhaps longer) before I was diagnosed by which time the illness and it’s deep rooted beliefs were well entrenched. Sadly the main obstacle my desperately worried family came up against was getting medical professionals to take us seriously, you see, I went from a very overweight teenager to one who was only just on the low end of the healthy BMI scale and as such nobody saw it as a problem. It didn’t matter that I’d lost 5 stone in four months. That my food intake was minimal and I was exercising compulsively. It also didn’t seem to matter that I was becoming more and more depressed and withdrawn, it seems to be assumed that it’s just a part of becoming a teen and was therefore brushed under the carpet. I somehow managed to pass my GCSEs but never did get to even sit my A-levels. I went on to develop severe bulimia which resulted in my first inpatient admission aged 19- but because throughout all of this I barely fell in to the “underweight” category getting help and support was an up-hill battle. My underweight years didn’t start until I was in my twenties and even then were extreme before I could access the help I so badly needed. Waiting lists and lack of funding mean often it takes a patient being at a catastrophically low weight before they can get an inpatient bed, or they become seriously medically compromised whilst waiting. People have and still do die waiting and this needs to stop.
Accepting that you have a problem is hard enough and making those first steps to seek help and support is one of the most difficult steps you will take and yet I still hear about people being turned away because they don’t present as “typically” unwell. Just because someone isn’t emaciated doesn’t mean they aren’t at serious risk both mentally and physically. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness- there are the physical risks such as heart failure, osteoporosis, the damage to organs and teeth. There’s also the high rate of death by suicide. Any of these risks can and will strike at any weight and at any time- I’ve lost far too many friends this way and I fear that as time passes I will lose more.

This year Beat are campaigning for increased awareness of the importance of early intervention and it’s a cause I can and will strongly get behind. I’ve pulled a couple of infographics from their website to show you, in simple terms just what a difference it can make.

If you want to read more about the importance of early intervention then please do visit the Beat page all about it as I would be here long after the week has ended trying to write about it myself.

A major part of what Beat are looking to achieve with this year’s campaign is increased support and training for GPs and this is something that I think is 100% vital. I have struck gold with my own GP, I can honestly say that I would not be alive without her care and support- she has gone above and beyond for me time and time again and I wish everyone could have a GP like her. Likewise the GPs I work with are all wonderful when dealing with these things but I appreciate that this isn’t the case everywhere or for everyone. By increasing the support and training available to GPs the delays in getting treatment can be greatly reduced and patients on the (what can feel never-ending) waiting lists for specialist treatment can get the immediate care that can really help tip the balance between full recovery or becoming trapped in the recovery/relapse cycle.

If you are struggling with your relationship with food and your body, or if you notice worrying changes in someone you are close to then please do seek help sooner rather than later. It will probably be one of the hardest and scariest steps you take in getting better but the sooner you can get in to the system the higher the chance of full recovery is.

For more advice on what signs and symptoms to look out for, how to seek help, or on how to support a family member or friend then again I refer you to the Beat website which is a wealth of information and resources to make you feel less alone.

Over the course of the next 7 days there are a few ways in which you can help raise vital awareness and funds for Beat to support and enable their campaigns to get early intervention happening far more than it currently is. The easiest ways are to take part in to Sock it to Eating Disorders day on Friday (3rd March) or help spread the word by signing up to the thunderclap campaign on social media.

Again please do forgive me if this post is a bit all over the place or poorly written. It’s so hard to turn a cause you feel so strongly about in to a work of art (it’s not a subject that lends itself to flowing eloquently) but I hope that I’ve managed to get my message across. If we all pull together I really believe we can make a difference.

As for me, well, I’m getting there. I’m determined that this is the year I will defeat anorexia once and for all. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, indeed it still IS a rollercoaster ride but finally I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and for the first time perhaps ever I am starting to imagine a life that isn’t dominated by the food I eat or how much I weigh.


The Car Finance Calculators from Motorparks*

Top of my list of goals for next year (or which there are many because I have lost time to make up for) is to FINALLY pass my driving test. After seven attempts spread over almost 12 years I am determined that I only have to sit one more. The truth is I CAN drive, and drive well. The reality is that as soon as I’m in a test scenario my anxiety goes in to overdrive and gets the better of me, I’ve tried every suggestion under the sun to combat it and it hasn’t worked- on my last test I actually didn’t make it out of the car park!

Anyway, I digress. With passing my test will come the excitement of FINALLY buying a car. I don’t know much about the world of cars but what I have learnt from being chauffeured around by friends and family is that they cost a lot more than first meets the eye. It’s easy to overlook certain costs, things you don’t necessarily think about when caught up in the excitement of test drives and purchases. I’ve been playing around with the car finance calculator and motoring cost calculator from the folks at Motorparks.

The car finance calculator is there to help once you know what car it is you want to purchase…it takes interest rates, loan terms and deposit in to account and tells you what your monthly payment will be and how much you’ll pay for the car in total (don’t forget the interest adds up!)
The motoring cost calculator will walk you through how much your fuel is costing you per day. This was a real eye opener when Ben started driving as his mini guzzled fuel and he ended up trading in for a more economical vehicle after a while with dramatic savings.

The calculator will also help you keep tabs on general motoring costs- road tax, insurance, breakdown cover etc to show you how much your car is actually costing you per month. There are also plenty of tips and advice on how to get those costs down.

What costs surprised you most when you first started driving? Any tips for driving test nerves?


Buying the Correct Car Tyres Online*

I’ll preface this by saying that at first glance this might seem like an odd post for me to be sharing on the blog. However I’d beg to differ as it’s something I know that I’ll be referring to myself in the future (you know, when I eventually get round to passing a driving test) and therefore I’d like to think that some of my readers might benefit too. Road safety, specifically tyres is something I know very little about but I do know that it is of upmost importance once you own a set of wheels…

Justification over, let’s get on to it.


These days, modern consumers are more used than ever before to making their key purchases online. The internet offers a great deal of convenience for shoppers of all kinds and it is often a good deal cheaper to buy products too. This is because staffing and rental costs associated with traditional shops are often done away with. However there are still many of us who refuse to buy car tyres and parts for our vehicles from anything other than the local retailer. This means that we fail to shop around effectively and sometimes the outcome is that we pay through the nose for standard or even inferior products that the retailer wants to shift on. Instead of opting for what happens to be available when you have your tyres checked at the local garage take the time to look online to see what else is available.

One of the major advantages of shopping for car tyres online is that you can compare the premium brands side by side. Retailers of the bricks and mortar type will usually only stock one or two premium tyre brands with exclusive deals to sell their products only. By using the internet to shop for you car’s new tyres instead it becomes possible to view all of the major brands in one go. Manufacturers such as Bridgestone, Avon, Continental, Nankang, Kingstar and Yokohama – among others – will produce high quality tyres that last much longer than budget tyre brands. Crucially these will often be available with special offers or at reduced pricing from time to time but only from online retailers and tyre specialists.

Among the other advantages of shopping online for tyres is that nationwide tyre dealers can be sought out. This means that you can order your car tyres online from a reliable tyres dealer such as Point S, and then have them fitted professionally no matter where you happen to travel to. If you are driving from one side of the country to the other on business or for a break, then you can order your tyres at one trusted location and have them ready for you at your destination. Local retailers can rarely offer this sort of flexibility in terms of locations and of speed of delivery.

If you think that the increased choice of shopping around is for you but prefer the traditional method of ringing several mechanics and garages to see what tyres are in stock locally then so be it. However, you should bear in mind that an online search compared to one that is made by phone is commonly much more efficient at tracking down the best tyres for your car. All too often you can find a deal by phone but go on to check at other retailers. By the time you ring the best garage back your tyres could have been reserved by someone else or even fitted already. Conversely when you shop online and find your preferred tyres you are able to reserve them with a simple click of the mouse.


A Pre-MOT essential read*

Now, I might not be a driver yet (pending, always pending!) but I know a little bit about cars, especially that they can be a very costly exercise when it comes to things like services, repairs, insurance and MOTs! As such I thought that this infographic created by Motorparks would be a useful and indeed essential read for any one with an MOT test upcoming…
Honestly, it would never have occurred to me to make any checks before taking my future vehicle to the garage, surely I can’t be the only one? I’d love to know your MOT experiences and what you’ve done to save money once you pass your test and own a car.


*Information Alert* How do interest rate rises affect your everyday finances?

If you do not currently have a mortgage, you may think that rises in interest rates are not something that you need to pay attention to – however this type of activity can have a knock-on effect in other areas, as cited in this article. Any kind of debt repayments can be affected by a rise in interest rates, and in the event of individual financial difficulties, this can show up as an adverse entry when lenders carry out a credit check ( Gathering this type of information about your personal circumstances will show you exactly the same information that is available to lenders, and a number of modern decisions are based upon your credit score – it is used for lending, new bank accounts, mobile phone contracts and many more everyday activities.
For those people that are already making mortgage repayments, you may already be aware of how a seemingly small change in interest rates can have a significant effect on your monthly repayments. The biggest pressure today is that it is often the case that interest rate rises do not correspond with a similar increase in your regular income, and this means that the extra payment will need to be taken from another area of your household budget. Juggling all of these finances needs to carried out with a great deal of care, as any missed payments will at the very least leave a negative credit mark that will show up when a credit check is carried out.
When looking to the future predictions for interest rate rises, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts make potentially grim reading for any homeowner. They believe that within three years, repayments on a £150,000 mortgage will increase by almost £250 per month, and this prediction is based upon both past trends and future indicators. Prospective homebuyers may also feel the pinch of this, and passing the credit check for a mortgage could simply be the first step towards financial uncertainty. Property prices are currently increasing at a rate of 6.5% per year, and this is also a barrier for people that are trying to get on the property ladder.
In the event of a rise in interest rates, you may decide to try and shop around for a better mortgage deal, and even a small difference of 0.25% in the rate could release vital funds in your monthly budget. This is another situation where it is preferable to have a positive credit status, and brokers will usually be able to offer mortgages with lower rates to those that have a higher score. When a credit check is performed for you and any other joint applicant, any kind of negative payment behaviour on file could restrict you in your choice of lenders – it may therefore not be worthwhile to try and switch mortgage provider in this situation. All of this proves that even minor monthly bills need to be kept up to date, as more and more companies are now sharing your payment behaviour.