It's almost 4 years since I was diagnosed with Anorexia and Depression. Time flies when you're... recovering... right?!

Ironically, yes it does.

Where have the past 4 years gone? What has happened? What has changed? How have I felt? Well, in this little (in fact, this is going to be long one, grab a cup of tea) blog post, you're going to get a little insight into my life. Your  own insight into what it's truly been like for me, for my mental health and for the people in my life, over the past 4 years.

So, where do I begin?

I'm honestly not too sure where to start this blog post off - it's probably going to be a bit all over the place, so I do apologise. I guess let's head back to 2014, the year I was diagnosed.

At this point, I barely remember a thing, 2014/2015 are all a bit of a blur - except for maybe a few pop song lyrics and some tragic thing that happened on Eastenders, that's about it. I guess I remember it being hard. Like, REALLY hard. I was trying to recover in my 'own' way, you see. I, being the stubborn teenager I was, wasn't 'ready' to be forced to outpatient meetings every day or have someone I barely knew take over my life and tell me what I could or couldn't eat.

I had so many complex things swirling around in my brain, and any part of my OCD (something that only became apparent after my original diagnosis) was not going to let anyone else take control just yet. Too much was changing at once for me, and it was terrifying.

If I think back to when I was in high school, pre-diagnosis, or just about to drop-out of college as my life started falling apart around me, I don't really think much about MY own experience anymore. I always wonder what it was like to be on the outside.

I went from being a very bubbly, giggly teenager, to a lifeless, cold shell. I went from having fun with my friends, to completely isolating myself or ruining anytime we spent together by getting unbelievably drunk to *try* and suppress my feelings.

Could you see it was happening to me? What was it like to be around me? What was it like to have me go through that after years of (what you'd consider) a normal relationship with me? How did you deal with it? What advice would you give as an outsider?

I wonder a lot of these things regularly.

I always wonder whether my Mum gets a weird sense of pride when I suggest we go OUT (yeah, like OUT OUT to a restaurant) for lunch, or whether my friends feel different now that I'm more like myself again and can actually have a civilized gin and tonic without bursting into tears and becoming suicidal.

So I thought, for the sake of this blog post, I'd asked them and get a bit of a different perspective for once.

"It was clear that things weren't right at the beginning of Year 11. You were quiet and intense, you started cutting down on food and exercising - the food cut down to hardly anything and the exercise was done every night as you walked in from school. 

Panic set in if there were any obstacles. I.e. if you couldn't eat at a certain time or if anyone came into the kitchen at the same time as you.

Our lives were turned upside down.

We knew it was anorexia, but twice I got you to the doctors, and twice they made out I was an overanxious, protective Mum. 

It was when your hair started falling out, your shoulders and your teeth protruded and the Lanugo [soft downy hair that grows to protect your body heat during extreme thinness] appeared on your arms, that I really had to do something."

"It was very scary as you spoke of wanting to die regularly."

"You wouldn't leave the house for weeks."

"To anyone who didn't know you, I don't think it would've been really obvious, but to be in your circle of friends it was clear you had a lot troubling you."

"It was hard to be around you [and] to find the right things to say... you feel a bit hopeless/useless because it felt like nothing I could say to you would be enough to help, which made it kind of difficult to talk to you sometimes."

"It wasn't really like being around the Holly we was so sad to see you struggle so much and how it affected the fun loving side of you we love (and now have back) (yay)!"

"Seeing you cry on nights out was the hardest because you were so inconsolable - nothing anyone would said would go through to you."

"It felt like you were really distant... Obviously as a friend you want to be there, but it's tough when you literally have 0 clue what to say or do... [but] to all the people who have friends struggling with mental health problems/eating disorders etc. I would encourage you to try and start a conversation and offer support."

"...It made our relationship stronger in a lot of ways... I'd say the biggest way it affected our relationship was probably in the struggle between us wanting to help you and you feeling like you were burdening us and therefore shutting us off."

"If anything, when friends are more open about their struggles, it brings them closer."

"I think it's important that [friends] come to you when [you] need it, not necessarily when you want them to."

"Never underestimate the need for a friend in a situation like that, even if they don't reach out for your help, they will need and want you there. Organise things which are within the person's comfort zone (i.e. let them chose the restaurant or suggest something to do) or do something low key at someone's house if everything else is too overwhelming."

"Always stick around... when you see your friend living their best life again, it's all so worth it."

Now, to me, that's all kind of like some story that didn't even happen. It's like that wasn't even a part of my life. I became some disassociated during that time, that it's almost like I didn't exist for a good 2-3 years.

I think that's something I never realised would happen, you know? I thought that it was all SO significant and SO important that I would never forget it. And, well, don't get me wrong, I won't... but there are soooo many other amazing things that have happened to me since, that I'd much rather remember.

I think it's just, when you're in the depths of a mental illness, it feels like it's everything and all that will ever matter to you ever again. But when you step out of it, you can finally realise what you've been missing out on, whilst you've been counting calories or jogging on the spot for an hour straight.

It's scarily freeing.

Something that gets to me has always been the idolization of eating disorders - or any other mental illness for that matter. I'm just going to get straight to the point and say: mental illnesses are not fun. They ruin your way of thinking and they ruin your life... and, honestly, they're shit. 

My mental illnesses have become such a big part of my life, that it's scary to me to wonder what my life could be like without them. Like, seriously, how do 'normal' people live? How do 'normal' people think? How much easier must they have it?! I don't think I ever go a day without one of those little voices in my head niggling away at me for something.

Can you imagine what it must be like to be completely anxiety free and emotionally stable?!

Nope, no. Me either.

I guess what I'm getting at here is, that I've never fully escaped my mental illnesses, especially those silly little ED voices. They've just gotten more manageable over time.

For some, I guess that's all recovery really is, or can be.

You know, I have down days. I have down weeks. I have down months. Sometimes life hits me with something that I'm truly not ready to handle and I just get sent spiraling into a dark place. It's hard to find the balance of listening to your recovered brain and listening to those little parts of your brain that just ain't quite there yet.

BUT, like I said, I'm managing. I think I've found a decent balance over the past 4 years, and I'm still getting a grasp of it day by day.

This swiftly leads me onto talking about relapsing.

YEP, don't we all just bloody love when you've come SO far and done SO well, and then all of a sudden your brain's just like 'hahaha, not today!' ?

I think it's crazy how things come back around again. I think it's because it's well-known territory. It's stuff we've already been through and are oddly comfortable with. We become incredibly 'at home' in our mental illnesses.

For me, I'd say that the past year or so has been one of the hardest. Before being diagnosed with Anorexia, I was Bulimic and an insanely obsessive binge eater. Food was my only vice and I abused it wayyyyy too much. Then, something happened this year that really triggered it all back off again. I was pushed back to the beginning of 2013 and felt like a scared 15 year old, completely unsure of what to do with herself.

It really began to happen last summer - it was a combination of new emotions, new medications and a new lifestyle that really threw me off balance. But, I guess I just couldn't pull myself back together enough, before being knocked even more this year.

The binge eating began again, but with much less of the bulimic tendencies (it's really not something I want back in my life AT ALL). I was having pre-planned binges, chewing and spitting out food, eating wayyyy more than my body could handle - most of this was whilst crying to some soppy RomCom or listening to Adele on repeat...

It wasn't a good time for me.

I'd say I'm still in the process of dragging myself out of that though. Even the other day I had a couple of binging days, which I felt SO guilty over. But, I guess the thing I've learnt is that, I don't have to punish myself for it - I just move. on.

Each day is a new day.

Start fresh.

Move on.

It can be hard, yes. Especially when your whole body is aching and you feel as thought you're a bloated baby seal that's washed up on the shore of a beach and is trying to get up and walk around as if they're some skinny long legged pretty flamingo (I really don't know why I'm metaphorically talking about myself as wild animals, but here we are).

The post-binge feeling is horrific. Depending on the size of the episode, it can take me up to a week to feel better afterwards, which is truly shit (like SO shit) when I want to be able to go about my life feeling 'normal' again.

But, things happen. Binges happen. Relapses happen.

We're all allowed to screw up a little bit sometimes.

Now, something else you might be thinking, considering all of the 'sensitive' things I've written in this blog post, and the kind of soft souled character I am (yes, I really did just describe myself like that) that my job choices are a bit... well... bizarre. And, do you know what? They really really are.

Why chose a job... in fact 2 jobs... that are all entirely based off of your appearance after recovering from an Eating Disorder? LORD KNOWS. I didn't plan it... it just kind of... happened.

But, I feel that the irony here is that, despite a lot of the judgement and scrutiny that comes from having different 'looks' in this industry, or the kind of comments that I sometimes receive on Instagram, it's a bunch of work which has managed to build up my confidence so so so much.

I would not be the person I am today without being pushed and encouraged to do the things I've done over the past couple of years.

I've gone from not being able to leave the house, to walking into a room full of strangers, doing the craziest things at castings, and walking out the door without a care in the world.

I've gone from not even showing my face in photos, to posing confidently and doing lingerie collaborations on a weekly basis.

It's great!

It's weird, but it's great.

Anyway, regardless of the tiny disappointment that comes when I don't book a job, and the occasional bump in the road in terms of binge eating, I'm doing pretty damn alright.

In comparison to the person that my friends and family would have described me as 4 years ago, I'm a whole new girl and that feels wonderful to know.

I love the lack of anxiety I have around food, I love that my thoughts aren't consumed by the idea of dying or hurting myself and I love that I'm able to be around people now.

4 years on, I might sometimes have my moments, but I'm definitely coming into my own and am SO grateful that I worked hard to get myself to this point now.

Everything always works itself out and gets better - I'm a strong believer that time is a healer.