Vitality

By Eleanor Bradford

An illustrated Ital cookbook, and document of recovery from Anorexia

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The ball's rolling (and I think we're okay about it).

Well, the ball’s rolling and I feel like my blood pressure is finally reducing back to a normal level- my body is acclimatising to crowdfunding!

Despite huge progress in my recovery and many accomplishments over the past couple of years (cue hair swish), managing my anxiety is still a 24/7 job. Every step in creating Vitality i’ve battled a punitive internal voice, interrupting my inspiration with really helpful comments like “HAHAHAHA, of course you’re going to fail!” Which, understandably, cause a fair amount of anxiety and insecurity. I’ve learnt how to control it much better than I was able to in the past. I still need to take time out, usually a few minutes or hours rather than days or weeks, but I know how to mange and who I’m gonna call (GHOSTBUSTERS)- sorry not sorry, cheap jokes are actually great during a panic attack.

Crowdfunding means stepping outside of the comfort zone I’ve felt safe in for a long time. It means facing a plethora of anxiety inducing scenarios which I’ve previously felt fine just to walk away from. When I first became too unwell to work I would dread the question “So what do you do?” Just thinking about being asked that induced almighty sweats and shaking. I was overwhelmed with fear, an expectation even, that talking honestly about myself, my life or particularly my mental illness, would expose me as less-than, as a freak and a fraud (we’ll talk about stigma another time, don’t let me get distracted). Writing helped me to confront some of those feelings, to take ownership of my story, and even to be thankful for some of the experiences which have put in a position to help others today. But it’s only through working with Unbound and, more importantly, crowdfunding, that I’m learning the real value of embodying that self-acceptance through speaking honestly and openly everywhere I go (...repeatedly).

At this point, only I can talk about Vitality in its fullness. Only I can talk about all the different stages of creating it: from months drawing vegetables and printing each ingredient by hand, to crying over realisations I had whilst writing and spending hours upon hours on the phone with my girlfriends reasoning about it. Only I can talk about the wonderful dichotomies in its character: introspective and outward-looking, complicated and straight-forward, painfully honest and painfully funny. I decided to publish Vitality, firstly, because I believe that it can help others. Secondly, I believe that the voices of lived experience can speak about recovery in a way that nobody else can, and only through this knowledge can we begin to make the environment that’s required for recovery more readily accessible to all people. I’m starting to realise how powerful my voice can be, as long as I don’t stop using it.

Like I said from the top, everything’s not fixed. I got stuck in a train on the hottest day last week and had a total anxiety-meltdown, my wonderful friend literally ran to Waterloo with a banana and NAKD bar to meet me. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have agency, and a lighting speed support network. All my friends, old and new, have been an invaluable source of support. They’ve offered me their platforms to share, held my hand and flyered with me, and send me messages of love and encouragement every day. With that support I’ve reached out and connected with new people involved with their own environmental and social grassroots activism- shout out to Commune Festival at Tate Exchange this weekend. My friend and I did two awesome workshops on Calling for a Citizens Assembly with Extinction Rebellion and learning about permaculture and weeds, tasting Dandelion coffee with Daisy Newdick.

There’s been a steady rise in the number of pledges, HUGE thank you’s to each of you. It’s beautiful to see the book speaking to so many difference audiences. Your encouragement and backing is giving me the confidence to keep facing my anxiety and using my voice more each day. Keep doing what you’re doing and spreading the project!

 

Love and Thanks

Ellie x

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