There is, undeniably, a huge stigma associated with mental illness. There is massive reluctance to talk about it, particularly amongst the community of people who are stricken ill with an eating disorder. The disease itself requires silence and secrecy to take root and grow. In time, anything done by the individual in opposition to the nature of the disorder, i.e, breaking 'rules' around food and eating, admitting the presence of a problem, losing control in any way; all bring deep shame and guilt. This makes an eating disorder one of the hardest illnesses to treat, firstly, because it can remain invisible for so long, secondly, because of the sufferer's dependance on the illness, and finally because guilt and shame are two of the most powerfully crippling human emotions. To admit to an eating disorder is to admit to your enitre life being flawed, because it invades your entire life.
When I began to roll the idea of blogging about my anorexia and mental illness around in my mind, my desire was to provide information for those who were ignorant of the disease, to shine a new perspective on the illness for friends, families, and loved ones and to show other people suffering, as I was, that they are not alone. There were two separate things holding me back; number one, how difficult it would be for my family to read the going's on of my eating disordered-mind and the painful emotions it could, and would, cause them; number two, the fact that I was opening the most vulnerable part of myself open to ridicule, abuse, aggressive or cruel comments, or just no response at all. I wasn't sure which would have been worse. However, once I get an idea in my mind, once it takes root and begins to grow, it's really already decided- whether I even realise it myself yet or not.
Of course I received some negative comments, however, the purpose of this blog post is to celebrate and salute the many, many people who have sent me beautiful messages of encouragement, who have gone out of their way to wish me well and tell me to keep going. Some of them were from people I knew, some were from students of mine, most were from absolute strangers. I have been bowled over on a daily basis by the well wishes of people, some in languages I don't even speak. My peers in the yoga, health and fitness industry have been unrelenting in their support, all of them telling me they believed in me and knew I would be back to full health in no time.
I want to share with you just a small handful of the messages I have received over the last 7 weeks. I'm not going to say who they are from, but they will know. And they should know that they have been little breaths of hope to me, bringing me air when I thought I couldn't breathe for myself anymore, taking my hand when I felt like I was drowning, stroking and soothing me when I felt I couldn't take anymore. This kindness has been my life-jacket. I genuinely love these beautiful, kind humans and wish that if there is ever anyway I can do something for you, I will know, and I will smother you with kindness.
"So brave Clodagh x Well done on speaking up on something that's something so important and affects so many people x well done x "
"You got this."
"You are so brave."
"All the hearts to you!"
"Wishing you well.... love and light."
"You are brave, and strong and capable, and you will do this."
"You've got this. I love and adore you beautiful human."
"You can do it, Clodagh. Fight for it."
"You're a badass and the strongest person I know."
"My heart goes out to you. You have so much courage and you are an amazing person. I'm sending you all my love and healing vibes your way."
"You go girl. Love and light from New York."
"Dearest @yogilateral, be strong and be brave and be proud of yourself every day. I almost lost my sister to this illness several times in the last three years. We said it was like a gremlin on her shoulder she had to get rid of in her own time. Very inspiring, wishing you all the strength and everything you need, let me know if I can do anything."
"Sending you all the love, hope and strength on the start of your journey. This will be the most empowering moment of your life, I promise."
"Such an inspiration. Your strength is so admirable. I wish you all the best in the world. Namasté."
"We all have slip-ups, stay strong."
"Keep that shit up. Genuinely one of the few fitness posts that shines positive actions and attitudes. You will get them lats back."
"Inspiration girl! I'm in the same boat. Let's be friends."
"Keep it up! You can beat this!"
"Clodagh, my biggest and warmest hugs to you right now my friend. I have never met a fighter like you and I know you can beat this. You're awesome from the inside out."
"So much strength. Keep going."
"Amazing progress, positive vibes."
"You get yourself in to me for deadlifts as soon as your up to it."
"Keep kicking ass, girl!"
"Your inner flame is strong. I love this."
"Blessings, love and light to you. You are courageous beyond words and continue to keep you in my prayers. Rock on girl."
"Omg, I totally see a difference. You are doing it. You are a true rockstar teaching the world how to love themselves. I am so proud of your courage. Rock on Rockstar."
"Thank you for sharing your story!"
"Great post Clo!"
"I'm really enjoying your page!"
"TEAM YOGILATERAL! Everyone rooting for you."
"You are doing an amazing job. Looked through your pictures and you are so much stronger than anorexia. Be brave, be strong, grow into your own skin and claim your space! Hugs from Norway!"
"I am grateful for you and your posts."
"No one else walks your walk, dreams your dreams, hears the silence the way you do, feels the rain the way you do, watches sunrises the way you do... We are all special, we are all unique. Trust your strength, no matter how small it feels today. You are right where you need to be, no matter how far away you feel."
"Fucking get it!"
"You're doing fab, love."
"Hey, I just wanted to say how amazing you are. Always be yourself because you are an amazing person. I hope you have an amazing 2017! This is your year so show the world how awesome you are!"
"Love your sense of humour!"
"Amazing progress, well done!"
"I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! You are amazing!"
"You are doing great... Day by day... moment by moment... you got this... Super proud."
"Wow. As someone who has struggled at both ends of the spectrum, I am proud of you. Eating disorders are horrible... So glad to see you have re-embarked on your journey of self-love - sending light and love from Canada."
"Hi Clodagh good to see you doing so well. Keep it up. Positive mind is the key"
"I have just been reading your blog I literally have no words... only that you are one amazing girl. I have so much love and respect for you, your positivity is just amazing"
"Hey Clo, I just want to say I've only recently started reading some of your blog posts. Your writing technique is unique, but above all very effective .Good luck with your own struggle. May you be well, may you be happy, may you be full of human kindness. Up Tipp!"
"Girl. Just read your most recent post on your blog. I know that feeling you had yesterday exactly. It is all consuming. I just wanted to drop you a message to say you are a diamond. You are a stunning light of a person and a joy to be around. You will kick the shit out of this. Everyday you wake up throw your arms in the air high above your head triumphantly and congratulate yourself for opening your eyes. Let me know if I can help you in anyway. So much love X"
"Basically i just wanted to tell you to stay strong. To be yourself. To focus inward. Not to compare...because you are a unique and beautiful soul after that has so much to bring and give to this world and it may not be what you want to hear right now but a strong and healthy body is the only way that gift will be successfully transferred to other people. I know how difficult this phase is. Fuck, I know how difficult it ALL is. I still struggle sometimes, but it gets easier. I promise, even though Christmas is particularly difficult....you can do this! Stay strong
"You're amazing Clodagh, such an inspiration. I really hope everything goes well for you this time... and I have no doubt it will. Big hugs to you x"
"I can relate to your experiences. And it's nice to know that there are other people out there who have had similar experiences to me but are still, well...people!!
I hope you are getting on ok."
"Just wanted to tell you how brave you're being. I know it's tough but it really does pay off. Best of luck and if you ever wanna talk, I'm here. Lots of love and good wishes."
How blessed am I, to have opened up the dirty, battered suitcase of my soul, and to have all these beautiful people from all around the world wish me well? How beautiful is the human soul, that when we see the weakest ebb of another we rally behind them and lift them up. I feel so full of love right now, my heart could burst! And how could I not?! Scrolling through those comments, the resounding message is of love, love, love.
I could have been torn to shreds, this blog could have been my very own throwing of myself to the wolves; but instead I was embraced, encouraged and cheered on.
It says a lot about the stigma attached to mental health. I'm beginning to feel that the majority of that stigma is shouldered by those who are suffering; that actually, if someone stands up and says 'today I am suffering and today I am weak'; they would not be ridiculed and ostracised. Though their ailment may not be understood, they will likely be largely supported. I am so full of awe for the simple beauty of acceptance. Most of the time with mental illness, there is little anyone can do to help. The people that struggle with these invisible illnesses have no wounds to be redressed, rashes to put ointment on or temperatures to soothe; but you can let them know that they are not alone. Perhaps you do not understand exactly what they are going through, but your opinion of them is unchanged, you love them nonetheless, you are ignorant but you are present and you believe in them. You can highlight their strengths, remind them that they are greater than this demon that has taken residence inside their head. You can remind them that nomatter what, they matter, they are worthy of compassion, they are worthy of help, they are worthy of acceptance, and they are worthy of love.
To every single one of you that took some of your precious time in your busy life to lend me some of your strength and compassion, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I am more grateful than words can express. I know that the kindness you have shown me will come back to shine on you.
To every one of you, all of my Yogilateral Warriors, you beautiful souls, I love you. I love you from the very centre of my heart. You inspire me every single day.
As always my Warriors, message me if you need anything, have anything to ask, or would simply like to comment on something I've said.
We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.