Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Twerking and Selfie

Was anyone else as confused and baffled as me when they heard the news that "twerking" and "selfie" have been added to the dictionary?

Catch up on the article here. 

I resorted to Wikipedia to find out the meaning of twerking - 

Twerking is a type of dancing in which the dancer, usually a woman, shakes her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer's buttocks to shake, "wobble" and "bounce".  According to Oxford Dictionaries, to twerk is "to dance to popular music in a sexually provocativemanner involving thrusting hip movements and a low squatting stance"

I mean REALLY !

Personally, I think "totes amaze-balls" should be an actual phrase in the actual dictionary. 

Maybe I ought to write my own dictionary. Now there's a thought... Charlotte has her own dictionary of words/meanings - couldn't even begin to share some of those with you but they are fun..!

Waiting, hoping, praying...

As the title of this post suggest, today was about waiting, hoping and praying for Charlotte as she under went her huge operation.

Nobody knew when news would trickle through, who would deliver it and what the outcome would be. What we did know was it was going to be a long day and therefore there may not be any news for a while.

But this evening, having been soothed and distracted by a FEAST mummy over two large cups of tea this afternoon, we hear:

"Out of Surgery and STABLE!" (via her blog - Laura wrote it).

Which is JUST what we wanted to hear. Hurrah.

And as Charlotte would say "You may now breathe. And breathe again."

I gather that Laura and I coped today in similar ways - I rung my dear friends at OMBS, and found out I had made it onto the "Latest News" section of their website. Very honoured. 

I also spoke to a FEAST mummy this morning, then had my hair cut and then had coffee with another FEAST mummy. Laura also used her hair as a distraction - she dyed her hair blue. (Click link for fab pics!) 

Who knew that such a thing could be so therapeutic?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Christmas cards

November is nearly over and I will allow myself to think about Christmas when 1 December arrives. Carols and tinsel in November just don't feel right. However, London is looking extremely festive and the chilly weather adds to the buoyant atmosphere. Christmas lights are up everywhere and have been switched on. I love it.

The one thing that is linked to Christmas which I have pondered on is the subject of Christmas cards. 

I have previously mentioned in a post how strongly I feel about Christmas cards and their importance. I heard some rather terrifying statistics on the numbers surrounding Christmas cards...

- Only 9% of 18 - 24 year olds send Christmas cards (I fall into this category). More than 70% will send a tweet or text instead.

- Sales of Christmas cards have dropped by 20% in last few years.

- We send about 800 million Christmas cards each year and it costs us £200 million. 

I love Kathy Lette and I saw her debate about this on television recently. She was "for" sending cards and her opponent argued "against" sending them. I am totally on her side over this.

I enjoying nothing more than hearing the clunk (is that even a word?) of the letter box in the run up to Christmas when Postman Pat brings the mail and I used to beg to be allowed to open some of the cards my parents received. 

I have bought about 80 cards this year (from here) and I plan on sending all of them - even if it will cost me £40 in stamps. Its one of the only charitable things I do each year and they have so much more meaning to them than receiving a text which is "mass sent". I'm spending less than £1 on each friend - in fact, if you look at it like that, its a no brainer. Thats cheaper than meeting up with any of them for lunch or coffee. 

This is one of the cards I am sending this year. Its one of my favourites and is in aid of Mind. "Snow on Embankment"

The other thing I am going to do this Christmas is lose at least 10 pounds. NO NO NO - not THAT type of pounds. Got you there, didn't I? Diets don't work by the way so I don't mean lose it in that way...

I'm going to lose the POUNDS as in ££££££ by donating to Charlotte's Helix - hope you might consider doing the same. Having been the first person in the UK to give my DNA, they need the funds to analyse the sample and look at the genes. 

Charlotte is having a huge operation tomorrow (Wed) - did you see the pic of her revolting lunch today? I have filled my day tomorrow to keep busy and distract myself. She won't want me to worry. Easier said than done when she's someone that means the world to you. 

Ending this post on a positive note, this week Stylist magazine have celebrated their 200th issue/birthday and Miranda Hart was given the job as guest editor - its a gem of an issue, which I went out of my way to get my hands on today, and I think she ought to consider a career change. Totes amaze-balls. 

Here is what you are missing out on if you didn't get a copy:

I must let you go - you've got Christmas cards to write haven't you? Go on - if in doubt, just write one. You may even receive some in return and I guarantee you will feel better for doing it. 

NHS Food - if thats what you can call it

I have blogged once before about the shocking food received in an NHS hospital by a friend of mine who was a patient there.

I'm afraid I am going to have another mumble about this (I'm allowed because thats the title of this blog and I am a nutritionist)

Charlotte is in hospital with cancer and is having a MAJOR operation tomorrow. She's just sent me this photo - 

This was her lunch. 

She said:

Have just been presented with the same meal again. 5 times out of 6 has to be a record. I haven't eaten it the last 5 times either. My nice nurses are not here today. #feelingangry

She is entitled to feel angry. I am angry too. Very. In fact, lots of us are furious on her behalf.

This term in my lectures, we have been frequently told about the fact that many people who are admitted to hospital become quickly malnourished because they aren't fed adequately. Which makes recovery a lot harder.

Charlotte has spoken VERY highly of the nurses looking after her and I am sure she is right. We are so lucky to have a National Health Service. However, this really is unacceptable and is probably happening in many other places all round the UK.

Charlotte only has the use of one arm. They won't even help her spread butter on her toast. 

Come on Basildon Hospital, you really need to buck up your ideas. Pronto.

Jonathan Trott / The Ashes / Stress Related Illness

My family are avid Cricket fans. Some of them find the fact that the Ashes are currently in Australia a total nightmare as it means staying awake most of the night to watch it...

I am full of empathy and support of Jonathan Trott who is a key member of the England cricket team. He has been sent home early with a stress-related illness.

Some of the press surrounding this has been great - full of concern, understanding, respect that he has been open enough to want to come home early to (I guess) get the help and support he needs. He may not have wanted to come home at all - but if it meant relieving him of some of the pain he is in, he would surely have preferred to walk away from the Series than carry on suffering. (I have suffered and it hurts like hell. You'd give up anything to make things less painful) Perhaps the decision was made for him for his own safety.

1 in 4 people have some sort of mental illness. So statistically thats 3 people in the cricket team - yet news of Trott came as such a surprise / as though things like this don't happen to people like him. Us 1 in 4 who are affected can hide it so well, which is why it can be so hard to tell. It reminds us that mental illness doesn't stigmatise - you can be famous / rich / young / world class at cricket and still be affected. 

Michael Vaughan has written a fantastic article about it in the Telegraph. 

Mike Atherton has also written a great article - but you have to be a subscriber of the Times to read it (which I am).

Piers Morgan wrote some HORRENDOUS tweets about it - made my blood boil in fact. Not even worth posting here. What's worse is he has spent most of the day trying to scramble his way out of the hole he has dug himself. Fool.

Its hard enough for Trott to leave early from one of the biggest / most historic sporting competitions he will have ever played in - its even HARDER for him to have to face horrific media coverage (apparently the Aussies have written some monstrosities) that stigmatises and criticises him for this.

He has a mental illness. It is not his fault. He will get better. Its ok for him to ask for help. Therefore, show the man some support and don't criticise him for being ill and needing to come home - he didn't do it just because England are losing. 

Replace the words "stress related illness" with "cancer" or "diabetes" or "broken leg" and people's views change - because they are physical things that are more accepted - not brain related.

Not sure what needs to happen for the stigma to break - are we edging nearer / closer or are we still miles away from the acceptance and understanding of mental illnesses? I do hope we are near. I won't stop blogging / tweeting / ranting until that day arrives. 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Gary Barlow and the Meerkat Street Party

I have just seen the following video on the television and decided that its too good not to share... 

Gary Barlow and the Meerkat Street Party - 

Busy day for the blog today... here's to more!

Giving DNA to Charlotte's Helix

As previously mentioned in an earlier post today, Friday was a great day spent "FEAST-ing" at the Carers Conference. The best part of the day was as follows...

I have already blogged about Charlotte's Helix before - if you haven't read about it, it would make me SO happy if you could take the time to read about it or even better contribute towards it in someway. In a nutshell - 

Charlotte's Helix is an international collaboration seeking to bring the AN25K genetics initiative to the UK, in honor of the eating disorder advocacy work of Charlotte Bevan.

And guess who was invited to be the first ever person to give their DNA to this international genetics initiative...? 

Yup, it was ME! When the conference stopped for lunch on Friday, I was whisked off to a little room somewhere in the heart of the Maudsley hospital and I donated these three small test tubes of blood which will be sent off for testing as part of the project.. 

Such an honour and privilege to be part of such an amazing project - not least because it celebrates the phenomenal work of one of my favourite people in the whole world (Charlotte)... 

I do hope others will follow my lead and jump at the chance to be part of this - it didn't hurt and took no more than 5 minutes. We wanted to do it in the lecture room in front of all the delegates and there was vague talk at one point of doing it live on Sky TV but there were various health and safety rules that couldn't be broken...

News of my DNA donation went online and across the pond pretty quickly and I enjoyed this headline on the Helix website: 

"Rolling up her sleeve for science, Miranda gives the first DNA sample for Charlotte's Helix!"

I never thought I would ever roll up my sleeve for Science, but then again, there are lots of things I have got involved with over the last few years that I never thought I would be able to be part of. 

Now all the Helix needs is some much needed funds to enable this project to continue - which reminds me, I must donate and I hope you might too!

For Charlotte Bevan

This post is for Charlotte Bevan, who loves dogs and who always posts wonderful photos of her dogs and those belonging to other people on her blog. 

This is our cairn terrier Titus - I never thought I would be generous enough as to dedicate a blog post to him but if Charlotte can read this, it might cheer her up. 

I took him on a 5 mile walk yesterday - we can't remember the last time someone took him that far round the "block". I think he loved it although he kept walking right under my feet so we both nearly ended up in the puddles and boggy mud. And no thats not funny so don't laugh.

He can't see out half the time...

Feast National Carers Conference / Charlotte's Helix

Friday was a fun and fascinating day.

I was volunteering at the National Carers Conference in Eating Disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry (King's College, London). My role varied from running round the lecture hall after each talk to pass the microphone to anyone who wanted to ask questions to helping sell the Succeed Foundation DVD just being a general help. I also had another huge job to do that day to do with Charlotte's Helix - and it deserves a blog post of its very own coming up next so stay tuned.. 

The speakers were amazing and the research in this area is so exciting and uplifting for the future.

I tweeted various quotes and pictures throughout the day so do look at those. Here are a few particularly special pictures of the day - 

This is Prof. Janet Treasure OBE (left) and Gill Todd (right) - two of the greatest experts in the eating disorder world who I have huge admiration for (Janet got awarded her OBE this year for services to the field - thoroughly well deserved):

This is one of the slides from a presentation explaining about Charlotte Bevan and the Helix:

And I LOVE this FEAST bag:

As I said above, the highlight of my day involved a very special job I had to do for Charlotte's Helix which will be my next blog post so read on...

Monday, 18 November 2013

Oprah Winfrey in LONDON !

So I only heard on Saturday night that Oprah Winfrey is / has been in London in the last few days. She is by far one of the most powerful and influential women in the world and certainly THE most powerful woman in the USA.

I enjoyed watching her interview on the Jonathan Ross Show and as I write this, I am also watching her being interviewed by Lorraine

Wow. What a woman. 

To say she is hard working is an understatement - if we all worked as hard as she has done, our productivity would go up by about a trillion percent. For TWENTY FIVE years, she carried out two interview shows every single day - the famous Oprah Show. She has changed hundreds of thousands of lives.

She is worth almost $3 billion. Mind boggling. I read somewhere that "her profound influence over the way people around the world read, eat, exercise, feel and think about themselves and the world around them is much more difficult to calculate".

I am SO excited about her new film The Butler - I can't wait to go and see it. I don't ever make time for the cinema - I saw About Time about 6 weeks ago and that was the first trip I had made to the cinema in years (I have great difficulty in sitting still but it was well worth it). I will go out of my way to see this. 

We must all adopt her motto - Live Your Best Life

She is about to be awarded with the highest civilian honour in America - the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sounds to me like she thoroughly deserves it. 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Bill Oddie "Mental Health Fashionable" Update

Following on from yesterday's extremely popular post on Bill Oddie who claimed that celebrities are trying to make mental illness fashionable... 

Someone said on Twitter "Don't give the harumphing little turd the attention he so desperately craves." A brilliant summary as far as I am concerned. 

The response was overwhelming - many were as outraged as me that he can claim they are trying to set a trend. Because its simply not true. The thing is - 

If he raises the flag that Ruby and Stephen are doing this for publicity, it means that people might be suspicious when they try and help and so the stigma of being mad wins again...

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Mental Illness - a trend ?

So I was APPALLED to wake up this morning to discover that Bill Oddie has claimed that celebrities are trying to make mental illness fashionable

I commented twice (by accident - pressed wrong button):

"I am afraid I wholeheartedly disagree with Bill Oddie over this. There is no question that people like Ruby Wax and Stephen Fry are trying to make mental illness fashionable - the energy, drive and selfless dedication that Ruby has for this cause has changed the lives of THOUSANDS. She and Stephen did not choose mental illness. Ruby has done an extraordinarily courageous thing by studying neuroscience and talking extensively about her own experiences in order to help others - I have no doubt that she she never once has intended to make money out of it. In fact, I don't know any other person who has given up quite so much in order to trail blaze for an "unfashionable" cause in the way that Ruby has.

There are many people who are so grateful for people like Ruby Wax and Stephen Fry for talking about their mental illness and for working so hard at educating those who don't understand it. In fact, Ruby has worked like a trojan - always thinking of others and never about herself. She is determined to get people help and not take the glory. If you know what depression is like,there is no way you would try and make it fashionable - you wouldn't wish it on anybody. Bill Oddie's comments have made me extremely angry because there is no question that Ruby has hindered people's understanding of such conditions - she has educated and helped MANY."

Regardless of the fact that my view may be slightly biased because I know Ruby - even if her name hadn't been mentioned, I would still have written the above because I simply don't get why anyone would claim that people like her are trying to make mental illness fashionable. Its not trendy - in fact its pretty serious and lethal. Sounds to me like Bill Oddie needs educating - I bet he hasn't even read Sane New World, which isn't even about depression - its about how our brains work. 

Ruby responded to his comments too - here.

Megan Adams / Poppy Girls / Reunited

Too good not to share - an emotional reunion at last night's Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance. 

Megan Adam's sang at the RAH last night (in front of the Queen) - Huw Edwards then gives her the best surprise ever... Warning - you will need a box of tissues to watch this... 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Laura Hill - Ted Talk - Eating Disorders from the Inside Out

Calm, pleasure and satisfaction is what most people experience after eating. But for people with eating disorders, food brings anxiety, disturbance and noise. Dr. Hill takes a look from the inside out from the "sound" to the biology of these diseases and how the future holds a different approach to manage the illness while bringing these patients hope.

BUT: Laura Collins points out "She is describing one (very common) scenario in eating disorders - not all, and not all those with anorexia. This talk puts on record how the brain behaves for many sufferers."

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Ignite Cardiff - Romy Wood "Tell Your Own Story"

I came across Romy Wood's Ignite Cardiff talk recently and was really struck by it. I have met her once - she is FAB! You can follow her on Twitter: @RomyWoodThomas 

Monday, 4 November 2013

A secret love of short Autumnal days

I love this time of year. The clocks have gone back and it's getting colder, which means lots of log fires and lazy weekends watching the Rugby, Downton Abbey and Strictly. I love going for long walks, which involve trampling through lots of crunchy leaves when it's cold but sunny. London smells of bonfires and there have been the distant bangs of fireworks every night for the last few evenings - its so annoying when you can hear the fireworks but not see them.

I have just been to Florence, Italy where it was more than 20 degrees C everyday - no sign of any tourists leaving (a long queue to climb the Duemo and get into the Uffizi gallery) and no need to wear a coat or scarf.

The start of November is also the realisation that December and therefore (dare I say it) Christmas is only a few weeks away... (50 days to be precise - I KNOW!)

One of my favourite parts of preparing for / thinking about Christmas involves buying and writing Christmas cards. I know it's an expensive thing to do, but I feel it's an important way to keep up with friends I don't always see. I only buy cards from Cards for Good Causes which are completely for charity and very good quality. The postage is probably more expensive than the card itself but its the one charitable thing I do each year and I am not going to let Royal Mail's rising stamp prices stop an old tradition.

Studying Incentive

For any other university students, who like me, need all the encouragement and motivation they can get when it comes to studying - I have found the answer to our problems!