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19 Ways to be More Sustainable in 2019

With the Amazon rainforest resembling an apocalyptic state, climate protests flooding the street and tons of waste being dumped into landfill surely the universe is giving us a warning sign? How much longer can human beings continue abusing earth’s resources before enough is enough: the point of no return. As dramatic as this sounds, the issue is too critical to ignore.

The situation is: if we do not do something NOW there will not be a later. However, part of the problem is that not everyone knows what to do in order to help prevent damaging the earth any further. Defined by the oxford dictionary as “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources”, sustainability is perhaps one of the most talked-about concepts of 2019. So here I bring you a post on how to be more sustainable; 19 tips in fact. Perhaps most of what I am going to say is familiar to you, but I do not think there is any harm in reinforcing the message. If not, I hope I can bring you some future tips to implement in your daily routine in order to make your lifestyle more sustainable!


1. Reuse, Recycle, Reduce
You know that scrap of tinfoil you pet your veg on last night to avoid washing the baking tray (uni students will relate), why don’t you save it and use it for today’s meal? The premise is simple if it can be reused: do it! If it can be recycled (check the packaging first): do it! The outcome of this = reduce in waste.

2. Invest in a Bamboo toothbrush
You no longer need to rely on a plastic toothbrush to keep your dental hygiene up. Investing in a Bamboo toothbrush means that even your toothbrush can be recycled.

The one I use:
Zero Waste Club Bamboo Toothbrush

Other suggestions:
Bam and Boo

Pearly White Club

Brushbox

Also, if you pair it with a cruelty-free toothpaste, you are helping save the animals! For a heads up, Superdrug, Sainsburys and Holland and Barrett do a great cruelty-free toothpaste which is super affordable. I use the Superdrug toothpaste for reference.

(If you would like me to do a future post on the best cruelty-free brands I would be more than happy!)

3. Throw away the plastic straws/bottles!
You do not need to constantly buy plastic bottles of water and plastic straws when there many sustainable alternatives out there. Invest in a reusable bottle and carry around your own set of metal cutlery and/or a straw if necessary. Amazon and Steph Ellswood's brand Sasstainable does a great range of eco cutlery sets if you are interested.

The bottle I use is Chillys for reference.

Hey, you can even justify getting a personalised Love Island bottle as long as you are not buying plastic ones each day!

4. Take your own bags and containers
Not only are you saving yourself 5p, but you are also reducing the demand for plastic bags. Another great way of reducing your plastic consumption is by taking your own containers to supermarkets instead of relying on plastic bags to wrap your loose fruit and veg.

5. Consume less fast fashion
Unsubscribe, ignore and turn away from buying from cheap online stores (Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, Misguided, Shein) and physical stores (Primark, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21). I am not saying that you need to buy all your clothes from sustainable stores, however, try and stay away from relying on fast fashion stores to fill your wardrobe. I do understand the struggle that a lot of slow fashion brands are more expensive since the materials take longer to produce. Be patient. Within time (hopefully) sustainable fashion will be taking over fast fashion stores and so the price tags will drop.

Alternatively, a great way to buy new clothes is through buying second-hand (Depop, eBay etc.) this way, not only are you taking unwanted clothing from someone else, but you are also reducing the demand to produce more items of clothing.

Some great sustainable brands are:

General:
Monki
(affordable)

Weekday



ASOS organic
 (if you type ‘organic’ into ASOS you can get pieces which are sustainable  )

Reformation
(slightly pricier)

Activewear:
Tala

Girlfriend

Adidas

Swimwear:
staywildswim

For more information on good sustainable fashion brands, this page offers more advice.

6. Turn off all plugs when you leave a room
Simple as, if you are not in the room using any of the devices the plug does not need to be on! It may be more inconvenient, but over time it could make a huge impact on your energy consumption!

7. Eat less meat
No, I am not suggesting that everyone should go vegan overnight (though that would be fab), but if everyone made a conscious effort to try and make one of their meals vegetarian a few times a week it would make a huge, huge impact. The statistic speaks for itself that 57% of water pollution on the earth comes from the meat industry. Yet, by avoiding meat (and also dairy for that matter) is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the Earth.

A great suggestion for trying to incorporate more vegetarian or even plant-based meals into your diet is by doing ‘Meat Free Monday’s’. This way, you have a designated day which holds you accountable for reducing your consumption of meat. Or, if you are feeling brave, try Veganuary (the premise is going vegan for a month). Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that was founded in 2014 to encourage more people to try veganism. I honestly think Veganuary is a great idea for those wishing to trial veganism.

Nevertheless, do not feel that you have to dramatically change your diet to fit the status quo. Of course, in an ideal world, everyone would be eating a plant based diet, however, thisis not always possible for individuals due to both physical and mental health complications. As long as awareness is made and people are making a conscious effort to reduce their meat consumption, that is a really positive step.

8. Bulk buy
Though I wish fruit and vegetables in the supermarket in the UK were not covered in plastic, you can reduce the amount of plastic you are buying through stocking up on the essentials. Rather than having to buy 4 packs of raspberries each week, by simply buying it in the biggest sized packaging available reduces the amount of plastic you are consuming.

9. Zero-waste stores
Leading on from my seventh tip, if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford to shop in a Zero Waste store, this is the best possible alternative to reducing the amount of plastic you are purchasing each week. However, I am aware that there are not many local Zero Waste stores currently available in the UK so we can only do our best.

10. Print double-sided
For all my fellow academics, there is no need to print each individual page (unless you are strictly required to). So a tip to save the trees is to print double-sided.

11. Reuse old jars
You know that big jar of peanut butter you just finished? Wash it out and there you have your very own DIY pen pot. There are so many things you can use old jars for as opposed to simply throwing them away.

12. Switch your search engine to Ecosia
Unlike many of its contemporaries, Ecosia uses some of its profits to plant trees. Additionally, Ecosia is fuelled by renewable energy.


13. Invest in rechargeable batteries
Instead of constantly re-buying batteries, you can now purchase rechargeable batteries. Not only does this save you money, but it also reduces the number of batteries to be disposed of.

14. Recycle your old phone
Have an old phone that is left sitting in your cupboard? Want to earn some money? By simply donating your old device to your broadband or websites that take old phones can not only earn you up to 100 pounds but it can also help reduce waste.

15. Read magazines and newspapers online
As opposed to automatically buying a hard copy of your weekly newspaper, switch to downloading an online copy to save paper.

16. Avoid single-use plastic
Instead of reaching for a convenience ready meal, when possible, try and pre-prepare your meals to avoid buying single-use plastic. For example, why not batch cook your favourite meal for the week ahead.

17. Time your showers
As therapeutic as it is to spend ages and ages in the shower, there is no need. Simply put a sand timer in front of your shower and limit the amount of time you are spending in it. This way you are not only reducing  your water wastage, but you are also freeing up time in the day to be more productive (#gets**tdone).

18. Ditch the escalator and take the stairs
Probably one of my favourite tips given my dislike of escalators (if you know you know). Equally, a great way to get those steps in!

19. Spend more time outdoors
Potentially the most important one of them all. The ultimate way you can live a more sustainable lifestyle is by spending more time with nature. It can be for as long or as short as you want it to be, but by simply taking some time out of your day to be with nature has many positive long term health benefits.


Though there are many more tips I could have included I hope these tips helped give you an idea on how to help reduce your environmental impact. Below I will link a great source with 100+ tips on how to be more sustainable if you wish to do further research! Ever since I have embarked on making my life more ‘sustainable’ I have not looked back. If you have any questions, never hesitate to get in touch.

Lots of Love,
Is xxx

More sustainability tips can be found in this article.



















                                     

Summer Look Book



MirandaYou have no style or sense of fashion.
AndreaI think that depends on –
MirandaNo, no- that wasn't a question


When thinking about fashion, it feels impossible not to hear Miranda Prietsly’s voice in my head. ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is quite possibly my favourite "chick flick" out there. Be it male or female, the film gives a surface level insight into the highs and lows of the fashion industry; not to mention the endless amounts of sassy quotes the film provides. 

As a child, I have always been conscious of how I present myself to the world through my clothes. Following the gender stereotype of the little-girl-growing-up, I was a fan of dressing up and pretending that I was a Disney princess. A decade later, I still pretend I am Belle from Beauty and the Beast with my “nose stuck in a book” (perhaps not to the extent of chasing my lover in an enchanted castle...). I like to believe that my style is pretty versatile: you have as much of a chance of catching me a pretty dress as you do in the latest Urban Outfitters trousers. 

                                                                 Isabella Clark ©

Here, I bring you a few of my favourite outfits that I have worn over the Spring/Summer period. After spending so long on a mission to hide my body in the baggiest clothing possible, I am gradually allowing myself to wear things that are a bit out of my comfort zone. That isn't to say that you will catch me in a skimpy bikini on next years series of Love Island, however, it does mean that I am trying to build my confidence and/or self-acceptance.


Isabella Clark ©


My first look is also possibly my favourite. Anyone who follows me will notice that I have an unhealthy obsession with the colour yellow; an obsession that stems back to when I was 3 years old lusting over Lala, the best Teletubby there ever was. 

Isabella Clark ©

Here I paired the dress with some old wedges from Topshop. I love the way that the silver compliments the vibrancy of the dress. And with the backdrop of Miami beach, what could be better? 

This dress is a fairly recent purchase from Urban Outfitters. Though I am trying my hardest to stop purchasing clothes as frequently as I have in the past due to how unsustainable fast fashion is, this does not mean to say that I do not have “treat yo’self” moments every now and then. I think as long as you are aware of the impact the fashion industry is having on the environment and that you are trying to reduce your consumption of it, then that is all that matters. I do not want to feel ashamed for buying new clothes, but at the same time, I do not want to be reliant on buying clothes to make me feel as if I'm "keeping up" with the latest fashion trends. It is all about balance. On that note, there are some great sustainable fashion companies out there that I may do a later blog post about!

 This summer has seen the popularity of midi-skirts rocket. As soon as I saw the gingham print, I knew I needed this skirt. I paired it with a blue sweetheart neck blouse which works really well against the skirt. Again, I am wearing my holiday wedges as when else do you get to wear chunky wedges? 

Isabella Clark ©


Isabella Clark ©


 Also, can we just appreciate how stunning my sister looks in her LBD  in the first picture. The sister envy is real.

My third look features no new purchases which is fabulous in terms of sustainability. I must have bought these pink jeans from Topshop 3-4 years ago yet they still fit me just as they did back then. I like to think I look like a grungy Barbie in these jeans paired with a staple black roll neck. Yes, I know: roll neck’s in Summertime? – that’s England weather for you. Being so coordinated, I wore this outfit with my baby pink Superga’s (and not to mention the pink FitBit). 

                                                                             Isabella Clark ©

                                                                  Isabella Clark ©


Lastly, we have another top and trousers combination. I have no self-control when it comes to trousers. Or shall I rephrase that: trousers you don’t have to roll up 100 times! I think they are so flattering on shorter girls (if you can get the leg length small enough). I love the frill detail on the bottom of these trousers. And because the pattern on the trousers does all the work, I matched them with a plain white V neck. 

Isabella Clark ©

Alterantively, I have previously paired them with a simple black tee. Trousers like these are such a staple as you really can dress them up or down. 


                                                                              Isabella Clark ©


So there you have it: My Spring/Summer look book. I hope you enjoyed seeing what I have been wearing or maybe took inspiration from my wardrobe. Thanks for reading.

Lots of Love,

Is xxx

Outfit Details:

1. White shirt - Topshop
Trousers - Urban Outfitters
Gazelle's - Addidas
Smith's Bag - Etsy

2. Yellow Dress - Urban Outfitters (no longer on the website)
Silver wedges - Topshop (old)

3. Blue Blouse - Stradivarius
Gingham skirt - ASOS
Earings - Forever 21
Silver wedges - Topshop (old)

4. Black roll neck - Uniqlo
Pink jeans - Topshop (old)
Pink shoes - Superga
Clips - ASOS

5. White blouse - Urban Outfitters (old)
Trousers - ASOS
Gazelle's - Addidas 

6. Black top - Monki
Trousers - ASOS
Sunglasses - Raybans
Clips - Urban Outfitters 
Gazelle's - Addidas
Necklace - courtesy of Lexie





I’m In Miami Beach



When it was confirmed that we would be going to Miami for our annual family holiday, I couldn’t help but think of the LMAO song. As a family who has been to America a handful of times, we decided to switch it up this year by exploring a new area. After going to Los Angeles last Summer, Miami had a lot to live up. Santa Monica stole my heart and part of me was gutted that we were not going back. However, I am glad we did branch out as I love to travel.

Though I was anxious about how I would cope with the long haul flight, it went pretty quickly given we were in relative luxury. Stepping off the plane and into what felt like a rainforest was a first. I thought the central line in July was humid but wow, you have not felt humidity like it in Miami. The climate took some adjusting to. 




Room with a View
Isabella Clark ©

Beside the Sat Nav glitch, we had a smooth drive on America's wide roads. Straight onto Collins Avenue was the Faena hotel; where we would be staying for 10 days. Like walking into something out of the Great Gatsby the Faena hotel was a spectacle in itself. Aesthetically, the hotel was very Art Deco which makes sense since it was designed by Alan Faena as well as the help of film director Baz Luhrman. I was in awe at the artwork displayed around the hotel. It gave the hotel an edge over anywhere I have ever stayed before.
 
Poolside
Isabella Clark ©




The Faena Bar Menu
Isabella Clark ©

Over the first few days, we spent most of our time by the pool. However, later in the holiday, we realised how lucky we were on those days since we had not appreciated that we were in the peak of Miami’s thunderstorm season. They certainly do not call Miami the "lightning capital" for nothing. Despite only being there for just over a week, we saw a lot of lightning; Bowie would have been proud. Hence, the fantasy of catching a tan became increasingly difficult given how unpredictable the weather was. Needless to say, we resorted to many trips to the local coffee shop, Shepherd Artisan Coffee. The staff were so friendly and accommodating (especially with two vegans). We also took full use of their fast-speed Wi-Fi since the hotel Wi-Fi was down for the first four days. From coffee shop to coffee shop, Shepherd’s Wi-Fi trumped all.



Shepherd
Isabella Clark ©


Shepherd
Isabella Clark ©



Speaking of Wi-Fi, we also took a trip to the local shopping mall Sawgrass Mills whose Wi-Fi network happens to be my Dad’s name. With ‘7 rings’ on repeat in my head and Kiss radio, I was ready for some retail therapy. Sawgrass is home of discounted designer items as well as the classic high street stores such as H & M, Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret, and more importantly Sephora. It amazes me at how much bigger everything is in the US. Sawgrass felt like a maze trying to get around. 




A Rainy Drive
Isabella Clark ©

During our stay, we also drove to Boca Raton to visit some friends. Boca has such a chilled vibe with its long beaches and forest of palm trees. If you have the chance, I would suggest exploring Boca. 


Whilst being in Miami, I kept up with my fitness by going to the Soul Cycle studio in South Beach. Whether you are a cardio junkie or weight lifter, Soul Cycle combines both. The classes which I attended were certainly hard work, but equally a lot of fun. The instructors I rode with were Rachel, Natasha, Aubrey and Joanna #grlpwr. Each instructor bought so much positive energy to their class. So, if in Miami, I would highly recommend you give it a go! Trust me, it isn’t as scary as it looks. 

Soul
Isabella Clark ©

I hope you enjoyed reading about my stay in Miami. Stay tuned for a part two detailing the second part of our family holiday in Orlando. Saying that I may also do another post dedicated to my Miami wardrobe. Let me know! I have made sure to link the places I mention below if you are interested or thinking of going to Miami in the future.

Lots of Love,

Is xxx



            Cecconi's
          Isabella Clark ©

Summer Depression

 Disclaimer: I am not medically qualified or trained in mental health in any way. All information provided is derived from my own experience alone.


 “Summer depression comes every year
I just want to disappear.” – Girl In Red 


Summer is often posed as the perfect time for reflection and recuperation for those in education. The academic year ceases, the pressure lifts and one is left with a feeling of absolute purposelessness. No essays to write, deadlines to meet, lectures to attend. It all ties to a halt. 

For many, Summer comes as a celebration; a celebration of the fact that you made it this far. I want to congratulate you if you did make it through whether that be uni (as in my case), A-Levels, GCSE’s or even a year out. 

You made it through and that means something. 

But is it enough? 
What comes next?

Time becomes overwhelming. The day filled with hours of guilt for what you could be doing, boredom over what you are not doing and pleasure for what you have previously done. Speaking as someone with diagnosed depression, I particularly relate to the feelings of guilt and emptiness when there is no structure. My body thanks me for the rest I grant it after three terms of running around coffee shop to coffee shop, train to bus. Yet my amygdala refuses to settle; it waits impatiently like a dog ready for its walk. “why aren’t you training me anymore?”. 

I feel like my purpose has been removed. And it gets harder to switch off at night. I question whether I am using my Summer productively or simply waiting:
Waiting for September
Waiting for the deadlines to come round
Waiting for someone to give me permission to Have A Fucking Break!

Countless amounts of times people have told me that I am too hard on myself. Notably, my sister always tells me that I am impossible to “pin down”. Why can’t I just be? Accept that I do not need to push myself at this moment in time. It is like I can’t win. In exam season I lust over the idea of reading for pleasure and having time to do what I want, yet when faced with weeks of unmade plans I feel anxious; desperate to go back to the safety blanket of work and the idea that I am doing something with my life. 

Hence, part of the purpose of writing this blog is to reassure myself or hope that I am not the only person who feels like this. So here I am giving you permission to switch off. You do not need to be doing a million things at once. It is ok to sit and be. Let your mind wander. Allow the day to take its own path. 

After being abroad for two weeks it made me reflect on how busy my daily life is. Always running from chore to job without appreciating what I am actually doing. It sounds pretentious and like I have been watching too much reality television but it is true (probably doesn’t help that my mum is a psychotherapist). Even taking five minutes out of your day to sit down and write down a few things you have appreciated in your day can make a huge difference to your mindset. 
Equally, we can all have rubbish days where we feel like life is testing us. Recently one of my beautiful cats has been in and out of the vets with cancer. It feels like a huge cloud has been hung over the family. Amongst feeling devastated, beside myself I feel anger. Why should such a kind-hearted creature have to undergo so much pain? Why her? Why our family? But I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. After seeing her deteriorate has only made us appreciate Violet and her sister more. And I keep promising myself that we will get through this. She will get through this.

All in all, I feel this Summer has brought me some extremely valuable memories (Miami blog coming soon!!!) as well as some that I wish I could forget for Violet's sake. But I want to be proud of myself in September for getting through the past few months by working with myself. We are only ever against ourselves.

As ever, I am only ever a message away. Thank you for reading.

Lots of Love,

Is xxx

Isabella Clark ©

A General Q & A

General Question and Answer Blog Post

After feeling inspired from the numerous “Question and Answer” or “Get to Know Me Tag” videos on YouTube, I decided that I might try doing one myself; however, with a slight difference that mine certainly will not feature me talking to a camera, instead, I will answer the questions in a blog format.

I titled this Q&A as a “General” one given that if it works I may do more but based around different topics. For now, however, I will stick to answering the questions I was asked on my Instagram story; if you didn’t know I put one up for my followers to ask anything they wanted to know about me (anonymously). I must admit, I did receive a lot of questions which surprised me! It is so easy to just flick through stories on social media without actually processing the information. Thus, the fact that individuals took the time to engage with my content made me feel good. After all, no one likes to be ghosted.


My General Q & A

1. What is your dream job?
Notably, a very difficult one to start on. I don’t think I could give you a straight answer as to what my dream job is, however, I can narrow it down. Part of me has always “dreamed” of being a writer; I’ve always had that vision of sitting in my own apartment with a cafetière writing poetry as a published author… Who knows. Equally, I have always wanted to do something which is mental health-related. With my own history with mental health, it is something I am very passionate about and therefore, would love to use my voice to help others. Or maybe I will set up a bookshop that serves vegan food and call it a day.

2. Pick one: Coffee or tea?
This is so hard. I think I would have to say tea. I cannot go a day without a cup of tea.

3. Favourite clothes shop?
I am a real sucker for MONKI and Urban Outfitters. In terms of online shopping, I love the new sustainable activewear brand TALA as well as ASOS. I am trying my hardest to move away from buying clothes all the time as I know how dreadful the fashion industry for polluting the environment. For example, I avoid buying from brands such as Primark and H&M who are the worst offenders in terms of fast fashion. Recently, I have been doing my research into looking at brands with a better ethos; though I know these brands tend to be more expensive. Equally, I do like looking for clothes on Depop; a secondhand website where you can sell and purchase clothes. Buying secondhand is a great alternative for getting new wardrobe pieces without contributing to fast fashion. I  think as long as you are being conscious of what you are buying, that is the main thing.

4. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I would not say I am particularly either, but I am more inclined to say a morning person. Nothing gets me up quicker than a cup of tea in the morning.

5. Do you believe in a full recovery from anorexia?
Another hard question. Part of me would love to believe that a full recovery from anorexia is possible; believe me, I would do anything for it. However, I don’t think you can ever completely, completely get over an eating disorder. Instead, I think there comes a point where you are able to live with it or overcome it to the extent that it does not affect your everyday life the way it used to. For me, I do not think I will ever be 100% free from anorexia, but that does not mean to say that I will not fight for it. I am always sceptical when someone says they are “fully recovered” because though you may be a healthy weight and not exhibiting any restrictive behaviours that do not mean to say that the thoughts are not under the surface. I try and be realistic with myself and hope to myself that I will able to put my anorexia behind me one day. I will never give up hope.

6. What’s your greatest goal at the moment?
Getting my degree.

7. Do you consider yourself recovered yet?
This is very similar to the fourth question, however, I do not consider myself “recovered”. I am in the process of recovery and I think I always will be.

8. What do you look forward to the most in the future?
I love this question. It is hard to pin it down to one thing but I guess I look forward to the idea of having a family and also being successful in my career – whatever that might be!

9. Are you a dog or a cat person?
I love both. But having two cats I have to say cats 

10. How many tattoos do you have?
Currently, I have two.

11. If you could eat lunch with one famous person who has passed away, who would it be?
Technically cheating, but either David Bowie or Sylvia Plath. What an iconic duo.

12. What is the last book you read?
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

13. What is your star sign?
Gemini.

14. Biggest pet-hate?
Probably will have to go with slow walkers. I really cannot abide walking below a certain pace.

15. What’s your worst example of procrastination?
Anyone knows me well enough knows I spend all of my time with my cats. Literally, I spend hours with them so they probably are my worst form of procrastination.

16. Favourite song?
I definitely can't choose one. But the songs that hold a lot of meaning to me are:
Asleep – The Smiths
Bloodflood – Alt J
Stuck In a Moment – U2
St. Purple & Green – Wolf Alice

17. Last film you watched?
‘Love & Friendship’. It’s an adaptation of Austen’s ‘Lady Susan’ and I highly recommend it!

18. What was your favourite subject at school?
Definitely, Maths since I’m doing an English degree….

19. Best Harry Potter film?
‘The Goblet of Fire’. I was five years old when I saw it at the cinema!

20. What is your biggest fear?
Probably heights or spiders. Being vegan, I don’t exactly agree with killing spiders, but I can say that I’m really not a fan.

I love how random this list of questions turned out to be. If anything, I hope you found it pleasurable to read.

Lots of Love,
Is xxxx




She is Back

Reflecting on my archived blogs, I realise how much both I and my life has changed over the past 4 years. It is strange to envisage myself typing into the same website that I do now without any idea of the way events would unfold. However, I am grateful for that time between 2015 until now as it has seen me change into a much different, dare I say, better person. Academically, I have seen the back of GCSE’s, A Levels, and most recently, the first year of my degree. As satisfying as it is to reel off the list of my educational milestones, I know those achievements did not come with a lot of tears, stress and caffeine. Though I know my time spent in education is far from over, I am glad I have made it this far. 


It only gets harder from here.


It is a luxury having the time to think about my blog; given the neglect, I inflict upon it as the academic pressure creeps up. Ideally, this Summer provides me with a healthy amount of time to experiment with my own writing and take a break from essays! Mind you, I was not naïve to think an English degree would not require a hefty workload.

So it is definitely refreshing to have the time to read for pleasure again. After all, isn’t that what led me to want to do an English degree: a love for reading? Though my degree has introduced me to fascinating new writers, I have been meaning to tackle my own excessive “want to read” list on Goodreads.


So what can you expect from me over the next few weeks? Months? Years? 
Not that I want to be contained by time but I suppose I hope to see myself getting my degree in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick *fingers crossed*. Ultimately, over the next few weeks, I aim to be more active on this space and provide more nuanced content. Further, I wish to develop my writing and see where it takes me. As pretentious as that sounds, I am in a firm believer in following the path that life intends you to. So for now, I sit back and wait. Stop tying myself down to things I cannot fulfil. Rest before the stress, excitement and anticipation of my second year at university. As well as take time for me? Perhaps.

This post serves as a comeback from my absence since March. So I leave it here to hold myself accountable. This will not be a project which I leave unfinished; I intend to make use of it. Hence, I will end on a quote from a beautiful author, Clarice Lispector. Thank you, Warwick, for leading me to her work.

“no, it’s not easy to write. It’s as hard as breaking rocks. But sparks and splinters fly like flashing steel”. 

 Lispector, Clarice. The Hour of the Star. Penguin Modern Classics, 1977.

                                      Isabella Clark ©



A Sufferer’s Reponse to Eating Disorders Awareness Week


I was not going to do this I was not going to do this I was not going to do this.

Disclaimer: this post refers primarily to anorexia nervosa, though I shall touch on eating disorders as a whole. I am talking from my own experience so not all that I will say can be generalised to all each individual’s struggle.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) runs every year around late February early March every year. The idea is to spread “awareness” about the most common types of Eating Disorders (namely anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, orthorexia nervosa and EDNOS). The concept behind EDAW is one I hugely admire given my personal 6-year battle with anorexia, however, scarily the week has become abused by some (not all) wishing to use the week to reaffirm how “ill” they are or once were. Graphic pictures of NG tubes and paper-thin bodies clutter people’s timelines to the point one forgets what EDAW was even meant for? To enhance the stigma that you have to be skeletal to have anorexia?

As a society, we have become so used to seeing the “transformation” photo of the sanguine looking individual next to the healthy one that it seems commonplace to equate anorexia with thinness. This needs to change. This is where society is misinformed. And even worse, this is where medical professionals and the NHS are wrong. When diagnosing anorexia, doctors are given the information that one only meets the criteria for anorexia nervosa if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of under 17.5 (when a healthy BMI is classed as anything above 18.5 height and age dependent). Yet there are numerous sufferers battling with this illness who do not reach the 17.5 criteria. Where is the support for these individuals? Quite blankly: there isn’t, they are turned away. Hence, the problem arises that the sufferer seems themselves not “ill” enough to receive treatment and so continues down their destructive warpath until they meet the golden criteria.

Why are we allowing sufferers to get to the point of crisis before they are able to receive help? It is inherently wrong. Should I consider myself lucky for being dangerously underweight each time I have sought help from the NHS?

I guess I have been through quite a “pick n’ mix” (excuse the dark sense of irony) experience of treatment for my anorexia since I have undergone CAMHS (Child and Adolescents Mental Health Service), CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) at my local GP, the school counselling service, an inpatient admission, group therapy, CRT (Cognitive Remediation Therapy), group therapy, relapse prevention therapy, medication, private therapy, online therapy – to be quite honest, I have tried it all. 6 years on, I can truly say that if it were not for the hospital admission I do not think I would be here to this day. It was the most traumatic, horrific experience of my life which I do not want to divulge too much into at this point. Besides the point, I would not have been able to receive any of this help if it were not for my low weight. This needs to change. The 17.5 BMI criteria needs to change.

Every day individuals with a statistically “healthy” weight are being denied help and there is not enough being done to help them. In light of my own experience, when I have previously reached a healthy weight, I was in a very bad mental place. The anorexic thoughts pervaded in my mind to the point I felt excited at the prospect of a relapse; hoping it might kill me this time. I am so lucky to have an amazing support network that stopped me from doing this. It was after this time that my parents sought private therapy for me which came at a hefty price. Simply, if you cannot get help on the NHS, you are expected to pay. This isn’t always feasible for many sufferers given the price of therapy can be anything up to 200 pounds a session. This should not be the case. Individuals should be able to approach the NHS knowing that the support they need is readily accessible to them. However, due to the idea that one has to be of such a low weight to receive treatment for anorexia, sufferers feel too embarrassed to even seek help for fear they will be “laughed at” or judged as a “fake”. I can tell you now, there is no such thing as being a “fake anorexic” and no doctor will ever, ever laugh at you. I truly hope if reading this and that you are in a similar position that it might reassure you that you do deserve help. There is a reason that anorexia is classed as a mental illness: because it is to do with an unhealthy relationship with food and an intense fear of weight gain. Anorexia does not come with a shopping tag of the weight you need to get to (though it is a devastating symptom).

I know this is not your average Eating Disorders Awareness post, but I wanted to show the bleak reality of the system we are in. It is 2019. It is time for improvement. And my hope is that support for those with this chronic illness can be improved; after all, 1 in 5 die from anorexia. All it takes is one sufferer to share their own experience to inform others and hopefully prevent more from developing an eating disorder. So if this post helped even one person, it was worth it.

Lots of Love,

Is xxx

Some websites for more information:

https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk

https://www.mind.org.uk

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

https://anad.org

http://www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk

http://www.seedeatingdisorders.org.uk



January Blues

It is the start of 2019 and the "new year, new me" slogan becomes a prime conversation starter. Then comes the interrogation of questions: How was your Christmas? Get anything nice? Did you do anything for New Year? Have you set any New Year's resolutions? And so the list continues. We have become so accustomed to associating January with change and goals that it seems odd to think any differently. After you have lied about how great your Christmas was (trust me, I'm guilty) and sugarcoated your alcohol-induced coma that was New Year's day, comes the diet talk. Our ears are bombarded with the latest weight loss fad and 800 calorie diet. The sale of fitness products rocket and you start to contemplate why you haven't thought about losing a few pounds. Despite your iron willpower to not give into detox propaganda, it becomes a tiresome battle not to become absorbed by it all eventually...
It is at this point I want to reach for the mute button. Curl up in a ball like a cat. Listen to Morrissey on repeat. Put the covers above my head and sleep until it gets brighter.

I know what I'm saying reads a little melodramatic, but I struggle to think of the last article I read which actually portrayed an honest account about what it is like coping with the expectations of the New Year whilst juggling their mental health.  Of course, I could just be inflicting my negative opinion over many. For some, the New Year is great. It writes off the lows of the previous year and presents an opportunity for improvement. I am a firm believer that YOU are the only person who can change your own mindset, however, is the association of New Year and change always the best one? Personally, I am not a supporter of it.  Therefore, am I a failure if I go against the status quo and do not write a list of resolutions that I probably won't stick to? Would it not be better to view the New Year as just another month instead of publicizing it as a chance for you to become the "Best Version of Yourself".

My intention is not to make this post come across as aggressive, however, it floods me with anxiety when I am confronted at the idea of another New Year. I would much rather see it as a continuous path of self-development as opposed to trying to uphold the expectation of dramatic change. Is it a crime to celebrate the little victories we make? What happened to baby steps? In my eyes,  you do not need to validate your own success by ticking it off a resolution list. Whatever works for you is the most important thing regardless of what everyone else is doing.

 I am aware I have alluded to my personal frustrations at the New Year diet talk, however, I don't feel there is enough support given to those who have previously struggled with their own weight when this type of conversation is going on. Constantly being inundated about how you should be investing in "Skinny" tea's and Joe Wick's latest cookbook does not exactly work wonders for boosting your self-confidence. Every advertisement is just another form of exploitative marketing which picks on societies insecurities to make money. It is 2019 now, why is society still like this? Would it not be a more respectable idea to promote self-care packages and warm items for the chilly January/February months? As someone who has battled anorexia for five years, hearing everyone talk about how they want to lose a stone before summer makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. I want to shout from the rooftops: "YOU DO NOT NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL BETTER", but know that cruel voice will stop me before I am given the chance. No matter how "recovered" or "mentally well" you consider yourself, being force-fed (a bit ironic) how to lose weight by the media can be detrimental and toxic for those struggling with body image issues or an eating disorder. I'm not saying that it is not a good thing for the government to be encouraging looking after ourselves and keeping track of our health and fitness, but it does not take a genius to work out that an 800 calorie diet is a form of starvation.

I wish my first blog after a few months could have been more positive, but currently, I do not feel so great in myself. The whole purpose of my blog was for me to be able to give a raw account of my struggles, as well as my interests, hobbies and passions. Unfortunately, January has left me feeling rather blue, and I find myself hibernating in my room in search of brighter days. So, if you are feeling like this too, know it is ok. You are allowed to struggle. You are allowed to not have your shit together at all times. But know - you are not alone. Not everyone says it, but I will. It is ok.

Love you lots,

Is xxxx