This week I have chatted to the lovely Laura who blogs over at www.fivelittledoves.com. I was instantly drawn to Laura’s blog and I am sure you will be too as she is not the same as many other parenting bloggers I have come across. Laura not only shares the ups and downs of parenthood and the things they get up to as a family but she also talks very openly about some very sensitive subjects. The subjects Laura talks about are stillbirth and anorexia from her own personal experiences. I hope that you are comfortable reading this and know it wont be for everyone and may be too close to home for some however I do think they are important subjects that Laura talks about so eloquently and it really did touch me and make me think about how I would respond to a friend in a similar situation so if you can it would be great to read on.
|A photo of Laura and her lovely family
So first things first. We can’t have a proper chat without a cuppa! What do you drink tea or coffee? How do you have it? And what are your favourite biscuits?
I don’t actually drink tea or coffee, I never have! I usually drink water or juice, but if I want a hot drink its hot chocolate all the way! In terms of biscuits, I’m gluten free so I’m more likely to have a bar of chocolate or a packet of crisps, I’m an awkward tea date!!
When I came across your blog I was warmed by how open and honest you are about two particularly difficult and sometimes taboo subjects and I am sure there are many people out there who would benefit from reading your blog to help them through a difficult time or to understand more other people’s situations.
Firstly you talk about the still birth of your son Joseph. Can you tell my readers a little about that time and how your life has changed since?
Yes of course. Joseph was stillborn in 2006 at full term, completely out of the blue, no given reason, and it is something that even now, over ten years later I am still trying to come to terms with. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever been through, then or since, and I cant even put into words how devastated we were, or how our lives changed irreversibly. With a two year old son to care for, he dragged us out of bed each day and kept us going, and I think without him I wouldn’t be sat here today.
My life has changed in so many ways since. My eleven year relationship with my first husband broke down as a result of our loss, and I found myself a single parent at just twenty nine before remarrying three years later and having three more children in quick succession!
I will never be the person that I was before Joseph, and nor would I want to be, but for a long time I grieved for that person and the life we lived, cocooned in blissful oblivion. I truly believe that Joseph came into our lives for a reason, whether that was to change my destiny and lead me to my second husband, or to simply make me the person that I am today.
|A precious photo of Joseph
If you want to read Laura’s full post about Joseph click here
Do you feel that sharing your experiences of Joseph’s death and your emotions around this has helped you and your family?
Absolutely. I have always spoken openly about Joseph to friends and family, even though I know it can be uncomfortable or upsetting for some. He was my son, and I will continue to share my memories of him in just the same way that I do my other children. I find it hugely therapeutic to share Joseph’s story on my blog, to know that people from all corners of the world have read about him, to know that he mattered and that people have taken him into their hearts.
Do you ever regret sharing your personal experiences online or have you ever had any negative comments about it that have made you doubt it?
The only time that I really questioned myself was when I shared a photo of Joseph, who by the way was utterly perfect, and I received a negative reaction on Instagram. Although I didn’t receive any negative comments, I had over twenty people instantly block me from their newsfeed, as though my son was so abhorrent that they couldn’t stand to look at him. That really hurt, massively so if I’m honest, and I still think about that now from time to time, and yet not enough to stop sharing my story.
If anyone reading this has recently had a still birth is there any words or comfort or advice you could offer them?
I would tell them that they will survive it. Although that is so hard to believe in those early days when you are so caught up in grief and anger and disbelief, you will find a way to get out of bed each morning, put one foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward. I know it’s hard, and I know that the sense of loss is all consuming, but you will get through it, I promise.
Looking at Laura in this lovely family picture you wouldn’t believe
she is a recovering anorexic would you? Appearances can be deceptive.
Another topic you talk about is your anorexia and how when you were younger you were hospitalised with this. I find this so inspirational because I have very rarely ever seen or read anyone’s experiences before I found your blog and I do think that the illness is often portrayed with so many stereotypes and little accuracy. Do you find yourself getting annoyed with the portrayal of anorexia in the media?
I find it hugely frustrating that anorexia is so misunderstood, by the media and by society in general. Anorexia is still portrayed as quite a selfish illness fuelled by vanity when actually the root cause for the majority of anorexics is a need for control, usually during a difficult period in their lives when they have lost control in other areas.
What made you decide to share your anorexia and it’s impacts on you?
I think it is so important that we talk about mental illness, to normalise these conversations and pave the way for those who suffer in silence to have the courage to speak out.
Anorexia affects more than 1.6 million people in the UK and there are more deaths from eating disorders than any other mental illness. 10% of sufferers die as a result of their condition, with 1 in 5 committing suicide. These statistics are shocking, not to mention desperately sad, and I think part of the reason why the death rate is so high is because there is still such a stigma attached to anorexia, and people are simply not getting the help that they desperately need.
My blog talks a lot about food and depression and how my relationship with food has changed following my weight loss but how my confidence is still low. I know this is very different to anorexia but I wonder if you find that people expect that because you are what I guess people would describe as a recovering anorexic people expect your self confidence and body image to be “normal”? I guess what I am asking is do you still struggle with your body image even though I expect many people presume that you wouldn’t anymore?
I doubt there is a woman on this planet who doesn’t have insecurities about their body, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to being self critical. But yes, as a recovering anorexic, although my weight has been stable for the last four years, Id be lying if I said I didn’t still struggle with my body image. I personally don’t believe that anorexia ever truly goes away, it’s always there at the back of my mind, that little voice that tells me I’ve gained a little too much weight, that I shouldn’t reach for my second bar of chocolate, that I would feel better about myself if I lost just a couple of pounds. I think the difference is, now I am in recovery, that I am able to push those thoughts away and drown them out with my own voice, the one that tells me that actually I look pretty good for someone who has five children, that I am happy and healthy, and that it is vitally important for me to set a good example to my children.
Do you have any regrets about sharing your experiences?
I have no regrets whatsoever. Off the back of my first post where I shared my battle with anorexia, I had countless emails, from friends and strangers, telling me that they too had experienced an eating disorder, some still very much in the throes of it and wanting to get help.
If there is anyone reading this who is concerned for a loved one and worries that they may be suffering with anorexia what would you, as someone who has been at the other side so to speak, advise them to do/sat to help?
I think the main problem with anorexia is that nobody can help you unless you want to help yourself. I found that the pressure from my parents, my partner and friends, simply forced me to become even more secretive about my eating disorder, and to push away anyone who tried to confront me about my weight loss.
My advice would be to have patience, to have understanding, educate yourself on anorexia as much possible, and simply support them through their journey. I think it’s important to accept that as a parent, or a partner, you cannot fix your loved one, nor can you fight their battle for them. Speaking to a doctor, a counsellor or an eating disorder specialist is the first step, and yet for the majority of anorexics this is a long term battle that ultimately, they have to want to fight for themselves.
And if someone who knows they have an issue with food and body image is reading this and is now wondering if they have anorexia and they want help where would you suggest they start?
The difficulty with eating disorders is that the majority of sufferers are very much in denial that they have a problem until it is too late. I would say to anyone who is restrictive with their diet or who is obsessive about exercise, be honest with yourself, be honest with your partner, your parents or a friend, and seek the help that you need before things spiral out of control. In my experience it isn’t a battle that you can face alone, and the better the support network that you have, the more chance there is of recovering.
Finally your blog doesn’t just cover these two subjects does it, can you tell my readers a bit more about your blog and what else they can find on there.
My blog is very much a mix of the subjects close to my heart – stillbirth, miscarriage, mental health and chronic illness, and our day to day lives with the children. With a 12, 4, 3 and 2 year old, our life is crazy and chaotic, and I pride myself on sharing an honest account of parenting, the good parts and the bad. My blog covers tales from the disastrous to the sublime, reviews of the products we love (and sometimes the ones we hate!), our days out, travels and letters to my children as they grow.
If my readers would like to read more about your story or follow you on social media where can they find you?
I asked Laura if she could suggest any helpful links based on her experiences:
Every week on Just Average Jen I will be having a coffee with someone different so you can find more blogs to read, more inspiring people or just have a few minutes to yourself reading something different. Remember to keep coming back to see who else I feature and do contact me if you think you would be a great person for me to feature. To read my previous coffee break chats click here.
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