Welcome to the second interview in this new series. I’m really excited to introduce you all to Gemma, better known as ‘Blossoming Gem’ on her Instagram and YouTube channel.
Could you introduce yourself?
Hi! So, i’m Gem and i have both an instagram and youtube channel where i have shared a huge part of my recovery from anorexia, as well as my life as i have grown out of the illness.
If you could give someone reading this blog who might be struggling right now one piece of advice, what would it be?
One massive piece of advice I would give is to never stop fighting, don’t give up hope, because there is no lost cause, never stop striving for more than this illness lets you believe that you are. The beginning steps and getting over the first hurdles are the hardest, but no food will ever hurt you as much as your eating disorder will. I promise you it’ll be worth it, and i promise you the day will come when you will thank yourself for fighting this hard.
How do you distract yourself when you find your mental health starting to slip?
My best thing to do when struggling mentally is to stop in myself and my thoughts for a second. Really try and zone in on what’s really going on up there. Listen to your eating disorder and do the opposite is such a top tip! I look to things I enjoy such as sitting in coffee shops, going on nice chilled dog walks on an evening. Find the things that make your soul happy and find time for those.
Do you think full recovery from Anorexia is possible?
I think full recovery is a hard one to answer. I have seen some people genuinely seem to, of course you don’t know anyone’s behind the scenes. For me personally, what I’ve been through with my eating disorder, the scars that are left both from it and what led me to it are always going to be something I have to deal with and a part of my life, but that’s something I am learning better and better to accept and deal with. It’s ok to still struggle, as long as you continue to fight.
How can we get more people talking about eating disorders?
I think with anything that has a stigma around it, it’s just talking more about these things in day to day conversation. Don’t make it such a taboo and something people don’t understand because they don’t hear more about what it’s like to live with it. So i’d encourage anyone who feels comfortable to talk about it, don’t shy away because little conversations can make a big difference.
What do you think is the biggest myth surrounding eating disorders?
The biggest myth and what people don’t understand from my perspective is what an eating disorder actually is, what it’s about. It’s not about the food, the weight, wanting to look like a model. An eating disorder is a mental illness, it’s destructive. It’s battling negative thoughts about not just food and weight but everything about yourself 24 hours a day. It doesn’t stem from wanting to be thin or pretty, there’s nothing glamorous about it. I just don’t feel people understand the mental torment you go through on a daily basis, they just see the surface that is full of stigma and tells you very little about what’s really going on.
If someone is concerned about themselves or a friend/relative, how would you recommend they seek help?
I would 100% recommend that if you have any concerns about yourself or anyone around you, you look for help. There are many charities out there such as BEAT and more locals one’s such as first steps in the Derbyshire area that you can reach out to, and of course your GP is a good one too. One thing I really want to point out is our current mental health services are not meeting the demand. If you get turned down once, and you’re still worried, then please keep going back, keep trying to seek help, because the earlier you get treatment, the better, and it’s just not something you want to let slip.
There’s been a big surge in people using the hashtag ‘strongnotskinny’ and promoting the ‘BOPO’ movement. Do you think this is a good thing? Why/why not?
Ok, the world of social media is a minefield. There are pro’s and con’s to trends and things ‘blowing up’ on Instagram. One worry I have is that although these may be different ways of looking at food/exercise, they’re still obsessions. They can very much be just another way of channeling your eating disorder into something new, just another form. There’s a worry of normalising disordered eating from these trends. You see loads of people talk about something on Instagram and you can so easily take it as truth, as something that’s ok to be doing, but a lot of things put out there are actually very restrictive and disordered, and that side of it is quite dangerous.
There are of course really helpful people out there, who really make a difference and can have a really positive impact on people, and that side of it is brilliant. But like a lot of things, there are flip sides!
What is your opinion on using mindfulness to support recovery?
Mindfulness is a model I began to see come up more and more towards the latter part of me being in treatment. The idea of it is great. Being very self aware and being able to tune into your thoughts and feelings is such a skill! And I do believe it could help in big ways! It’s not always easy, especially to begin with, but i think it has a lot of great benefits.
Your Instagram account and Youtube channel has been, and continues to be, a massive help for me, what made you decide to start recording your journey? Has it helped you?
I started recording my journey after seeing others do it. I found it such a great community to share successes, encouragement and advice, and I still do to this day. I do believe it has helped me, if you’re following and engaging with the right people in the community it’s a great thing to be apart of. I’ve made friends and inspired people I could never have dreamed of, and knowing that just adds a whole other meaning of my journey to me.
What a lovely human <3
You can check out Gemma’s youtube channel here.