Changing The World: One Book Date At A Time

PieLiving with a chronic physical and mental illness had led me to spend a lot of time managing feeling poorly and struggling. Having spent time in hospital, including a year as an inpatient on an eating disorder ward, I learnt a lot about self care and soothing myself when things are hard. Gradually I realised that I could come up with an idea that combined my love (and the boost it gives to my wellbeing) of craft, vintage and reading to come up with something that might help others who are going through a challenging time. #DateWithABook was born and it has continued to grow from there onwards.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me– C.S. Lewis.

Illness can lead you to feel really isolated. You can face days where you are really limited in the amount of energy you have, or motivation to do the things you would love to be doing. This was one of the starting ideas for my book dates. I wanted to reach out to people who might be finding things tough and offer them something to help them through that moment. I’m a lover of everything old and vintage and the idea of rehoming a beautiful old book felt like the best way to go. Giving these books a new lease of life whilst helping others just seemed perfect! The idea is that a book date is a way to reclaim date night and rest and rejuvenate with a hot drink and a cosy homely coaster with your set.

We read to know we’re not alone– William Nicholson, Shadowlands.

So, what do I hope to achieve with my little book dates? Well… quite a lot! I believe that sharing a #datewithabook can be a huge act of kindness, offering someone who is struggling a piece of calm, distraction and an excuse to have a night off. Or it can be a perfect piece of self care for yourself, to help with the stresses that we face day to day. A date with a book can be a way of reconnecting with someone who needs some extra love or showing you care when you can’t ‘fix’ a situation someone is going through.

Praise for #datewithabook

I absolutely loved recieving my date with a book parcel in the post. Kate made one up based on my likes for me to enjoy on maternity leave. Good value for money and such a wonderful idea for a treat to yourself or for gifts to others. Will be ordering from her again in the future.- Jenny


I received my date with a book yesterday and it’s wonderful. I almost didn’t want to open it as it looked so pretty. I’m currently about to sit down and start reading. I will definitely be using you again. It is such a lovely idea.– Lindsey

Fantastic idea. Love this. Date with a Book. Something really different, original & unique. Brought for a friend, who Loved it to & has been showing friends. Whole thing arrives Beautifully packaged in soft tissue paper. Makes a Wonderful gift for Any occasion. Or No occasion at all.. Just to say, Thinking of you. Hello. Etc.– Annette

Such a unique idea! It was very exciting to receive the package as you don’t know which book you will get and I was not disappointed! I received a book from an author who I’ve never heard of, and I cannot wait to read it! Prompt delivery too!!– Bisma

There are lots of different #datewithabook sets available in my Conscious Crafties and Etsy stores. I’m just in the process of a big restock to make way for a beautiful array of Christmas gifts, ideal for the person who has everything. Use the discount code BLOG10 to get 10% off any orders over £10. I also have a #datewithabook advent calendar full of literary themed items.



214 days later

Today, on the Friday of EDAW 2014 (eating disorders awareness week), is the 214th day of my admission into ‘The Retreat’ in York for my eating disorder. Today I managed to enter the hospital’s bake off competition with a cake I had made… at the last bake off, held in September, I had managed to only just stay in the room because of the strength of the smell of the cakes. A lot has changed in the last 31 (approx.) weeks. I would love to say that I’m recovered but that wouldn’t be true at all, but I can safely say I’m well on the start of the long journey that will  be my recovery from my eating disorder. Eating disorder awareness week is an important week of raising awareness and funds mainly for the UK eating disorder charity B-eat who do a really amazing job of supporting and helping those with eating disorders. Eating disorders are a condition that can affect anyone at any time in their lives. I have had the privaledge to complete my journey on the ‘Naomi program’ with some of the strongest women I have ever met. 

Eating disorders come in all different varieties. I think the common misconception is that eating disorders only affect young, white women who choose to restrict their food intake until they are very underweight. Weight isn’t an indication of how unwell a person is. During the time I have had my eating disorder, I have been a variety of different weights and even though I am now maintaining a healthy weight, I still very much have an eating disorder. 

For me, my eating disorder wasn’t really about the food or my weight. It has/had a lot more functions than I ever realised but I’m now learning a new way of life and slowly but surely I’m fighting for the life I want to be living and the future I want. I think of eating disorders like having a glass of fruit juice that’s been diluted. The sufferer is the fruit juice and their eating disorder is the water. The eating disorder dilutes the person until it’s hard to see them but with help they can find themselves again and gradually get more concentrated. The person is there, it can just be hard to see them. I’ve blogged about my eating disorder before and I encourage people to read and to learn more about eating disorders. They aren’t the stereotypes that are shown to us in the media e.t.c. they are so different from person to person and unfortunately there isn’t any one cure for them. 

Dog walking after Christmas, learning to love the ‘recovered me’

When I agreed to come on to the Naomi program, I had agreed to be here for 6 weeks. Six weeks has become what will be nine months as an inpatient, something I really didn’t think I needed when I started this part of my journey. It’s funny, I thought I could do a quick fix of treatment and be better. I am so glad I stayed and am on the way to completing the full Naomi program. I’ve learnt so much about myself and so many really useful skills that I really hope will equip me to be really recovered one day. I believe I will be and I urge anyone who is worried about their relationship with food to get help. It’s so worth it to not have to be completely controlled by food and be able to actually experience life. B-eat have recently completed some research into the cost of eating disorders in the UK and an overwhelming message is that earlier interventions and help would reduce the amount of money spent on eating disorder treatment… in other words, if you seek support earlier you can get well quicker. 

For me, recovery is becoming a norm that often I don’t really like but can manage. It’s not all rosy and nicey-nicey, sometimes it’s rubbish but the promise of it not being rubbish forever keeps me going. You can’t experience the good without having to experience the difficult too and I am sure I want to strive for the good! 

I’m tired so no doubt my blog tonight might be a bit of a waffly muddle, but hopefully I will have come close to doing justice to what an important topic this is! 

You’ve got the love I need to see me through

So… as a mental health blogger, I have always alluded to the fact I have experiences of mental health issues but haven’t been fully open about it all. It just wasn’t the right time and I think there’s always a right time for these kind of things, and that seems like now. Plus, it’s a chance to let my friends know where I’m going to be for the next month and a half. 
I’ve decided that being a human can be tricky, there’s no manual that lets you know how to deal with different situations and sometimes it would be really lovely if there was something to refer back to when times are hard. I’ve developed some rather maladaptive coping mechanisms over the years and it’s surprising to see how quickly the odd things you do every now and again can catch up with you. It can take a while before you think your little quirks are actually turning into a bit of a problem. 
I hate labels with an almighty burning passion. I think, especially for my variety of maladaptiveness, a label can be something that burdens you. I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable criteria of disordered eating. It’s interesting that when you have a difficulty with food, the thing that becomes key to whether you’re going to receive support and treatment is your BMI. Now if I ruled the world, BMI could go and die in a hole, BMI is a stupid measure! It doesn’t take into account muscle mass and hydration, whether you’ve peed or not… and above all it doesn’t measure anything within your head. The key to an eating disorder is that in reality it’s nothing about food or weight at all. The food behaviours and weight changes are a symptom of an underlying problem… whether that’s control, low self esteem, OCD… anything really. It makes me cross that the system we currently have relies on people being very poorly and underweight to receive the right treatment, I think treatment should start early and work to help people BEFORE they reach that point… but I suppose that’s an argument for another time. 
So… I went from worrying a little about my weight, to being totally encompassed mentally and physically with an eating disorder. One of the ways I’ve tried to describe it to friends, family and professionals before is like that kind of conscience feeling when you leave the house and you know you’ve forgotten something; that feeling deep in your stomach that something is amiss but you can’t quite put your finger on what it might be. Well imagine that but the only way you can get rid of it is to place all of your self worth on what you’re going to eat or not going to eat, what you weigh or should weigh or did weigh or will weigh… then imagine that feeling being the background of everything. That’s what it’s like to have an eating disorder… of course I’m just speaking for myself right now, everyone’s experiences are different. But I think it is quite common for eating disorders to become very overpowering, the illusion of control controls you. It’s like it’s the filter in which everything in life has to pass through. To be quite honest it’s exhausting. 
Now my friends and family are bloody amazing! They’ve put up with my ‘battiness’ for such a long time and have just been there for me and loved me throughout it, something I can’t thank them enough for. I’m better than I was, but there’s still a long way for me to go to stop reverting to my coping mechanisms as soon as life seems a bit scary. So I’ve been offered a really amazing opportunity, to spend some time in an inpatient program to have some really intensive treatment… fingers crossed I’ll come out in 6 weeks and be a lot better than I am. I’m not content with being able to function WITH my eating disorder, I want to kick it’s arse and be done with it. I’m bored of being poorly now, I want my life back and I’ve got a hell of a lot to be looking forward to that just isn’t compatible with anorexia. So… starting on Monday 4th August, I’ll be hanging out in ‘food prison’ for 6 weeks… hopefully I’ll make the most of my little stint in rehab and come out and start the next chapter of my life with all the people I love and care about. 
Before I finish I just want to dispel a few eating disorder myths that are just pants: 
  • Eating disorders are NOT just for white british teenage girls- anyone at any age and gender can be affected 
  • You don’t have to be visibly underweight to have an eating disorder- my rather distasteful joke has always been that I am a ‘fat anorexic’. You can be very poorly and outwardly still look ok. Weight is not a measure of how unwell someone is and is definitely not something you can use to tell if someone has an eating disorder
  • Eating disorders are an illness and it’s not something to be ashamed of- I spent a long time feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t deal with food properly and that I wasn’t able to be ‘normal’. A massive part of me getting better has been to be able to be honest and say… actually I’m not ok, but I’m getting better. 
  • You don’t have to treat someone with an eating disorder differently, unless you fancy giving them extra love and hugs… thats totally ok! I’m still me, I’m just poorly right now, but I won’t be forever. 
  • Recovery is possible! And I’m going to do it! 
I urge anyone who is worried about their eating to seek help as soon as they can and if you don’t get it, keep asking until you do. No-one deserves to be poorly! 
Love Kate xx
You can get support from the eating disorder charity B-eat and also Men Get Eating Disorders Too

In memory of Matt Ryd

Now first of all I would like you to watch the video above. This is a video of a wonderful musician, Matt Ryd, and his story of having an eating disorder. I think his explanation and the things he says (or writes as the case might be) are truly amazing and very brave. 
My introduction to this wonderfully brave and talented musician came about in a very sad way indeed. I read a blog post by MGEDT (Men get eating disorders too) that was written in memory of Matt who very sadly lost his battle with an eating disorder recently. Initially the idea of watching the video knowing that this brave man had passed away felt wrong and wasn’t something I wanted to do. However, I did go ahead and watch the video and I was glad, feeling really privileged to see what he chose to share as an awareness for eating disorders. 
MGEDT have a really important role to play in raising awareness of male sufferers of eating disorders. In their report of eating disorders in the media ‘Warning this picture may damage your health’  B-eat found that the majority of individuals surveyed (72% in fact) could name anorexia as a type of eating disorder and only 3% said binge eating. The thing is, only 10% of eating disorders present as anorexia! There is also the common misconception that most eating disorder sufferers are female and are underweight, when in fact 80% of people with an eating disorder are overweight. 
Eating disorders do not just affect teenage girls. Anyone can be affected at any age, regardless of their gender, race, culturally upbringing or background. It is important to think about those individuals who may be suffering in silence as they don’t feel they fit into the stereotypes so are ashamed to seek help or feel that they don’t fit with what is expected so therefore don’t have a problem. 
Matt Ryd’s death is horribly sad, but hopefully some awareness may come from this tragedy and help more people to seek help that need it. 
Kate xx