Monday, 26 May 2014

'Weight Report Cards'

I've written about this before: schools around the world have been wanting to start sending home 'weight report cards' to parents on their children's weight. Well, one school in New York did just that.
http://nypost.com/2014/05/22/nyc-says-this-girl-is-fat/

According to this, the school mediated each child's weight and height and calculated BMI. Then, each child was sent home with a sealed envelope addressed to their parents. The children didn't see their weights, and they were told not to open the envelopes. However, this little girl opened her letter and read that she was considered to be overweight on the BMI scale. At night, the girl asked her mom if she  was fat - because the letter from school said she was.

I'm infuriated by this. Firstly, why are schools putting such an emphasis on weight and BMI? We all know that BMI is just a tool and not always a reliable indicator of health. It shouldn't be used alone to determine how healthy someone is. This little girl's BMI may be right over the 'normal range', but she certainly isn't fat! There are so many factors to consider, such as genetics, bone and muscle, etc. Also, the issue of weight is personal. Parents take their children for doctors' appointments, where they are weighed and measured. This is to be done under medical supervision, where healthcare professionals can help patients see if their weight is healthy or not. Parents don't need a school telling them that their child is 'fat'. This isn't the role of the school. Yes, I agree that if a child is unhealthy (whether that mean they are over or under weight, problems sour attention, etc), schools are usually the ones to notice because kids are always there. However, sending home a BMI 'report card' isn't necessary, and actually does more harm than good. And what is the rationale behind giving the children sealed envelopes and telling them not to open them? These are children we are talking about! They are curious and will certainly want to open the letters. And when they do, shame and guilt will ensure. Children will compare their results to others. And that is when teasing and bullying will occur.

I don't agree with these BMI report cards. As a nurse, I am more than aware that being under or overweight is dangerous and serious. However, I also know that telling this to a child does more harm than good. Kids are growing and shouldn't be put on diets. Instead, they need to learn how to balance healthy meals with physical activity. Kids shouldn't grow up in schools that are constantly putting emphasis on their weights. Kids shouldn't be subjected to teasing and bullying because they got a certain BMI score. Kids need to go to school and feel safe and confident. If there is an issue with their weight, healthcare professionals can address these. Sending out a report card for BMI makes weight seem to be an evaluation measure for children - as of they are being graded on what they weigh and the number on the scale. This is going to play into negative body images, poor self-este, and even eating disorders. And it sends out the message to kids that their weight is something they can be graded on. These messages are harmful and can really impact children. BMI report cards are simply wrong in my opinion.  There is no place for them. It's sad to see that children around the world are being taught to see their bodies are something to be evaluated on, as a number that determines one' self-worth and success. Society is sensing out co flooring messages to children: we tell them not to worry about their weight and to eat a balanced diet, and to love their bodies. And then we give these same children a report card on their BMI and teach them that their weight is something that determines how good they are. This is sad. I an only hope that with progress, we can come to the correct conclusion. That weight isn't the 'end all'. BMI isn't an accurate tool, and children shouldn't be told that they are overweight and need to diet.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Published: Peace

I am blessed to say that Fr. Anthony has yet again published my work on his blog. This time, my post is about peace. http://franthony.com/2014/05/finding-peace/#disqus_thread (P.s. A special thank you to Fr. Anthony, who has even mentioned my book in the bio before my post!)

Peace. Something we all want, right? How many times do we just yearn for peace and quiet? Or what about those times when we want to feel at peace within our hearts? How about the world's peace? Or peace among our families and friends? We all want to feel at peace. And yet, at times, this seems nearly impossible. Caught up in our daily lives and rushes, we feel trapped and hopeless.

This post is about finding peace in God's grace. It is about realizing that when all seems hopeless. God can give us peace. This post means a lot to me because I often struggle with feeling so busy and flustered. When I was in the ICU, I wanted to be at peace, and yet, this seemed impossible. With God's strength, I recovered and am now healthy and strong.

Remember to take time to be at peace. Engage in activities that promote self-care, such as exercise, eating a balanced diet, sleeping, playing and working, etc. And don't forget to pray! Ask God to give you peace, to fill you with satisfaction and faith. Ask others to help you when they can. Spread peace in other's lives by being kind, gentle, and supportive. Tolerate the differences in others and realize that we are all human and deserve to have our dignity protected. Understand that regardless of how difficult life may be, there is always hope. Always. Never give up. And never let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your goals. You can. Stay strong, and maintain your peace as much as possible.

So please, take some time to read the post, and leave a comment here and on Fr. Anthony's site!

Monday, 12 May 2014

BIG NEWS!

I have some big news to share with you all. My family and friends may already know this, but my online readers do not. Are you ready...?

Ever since I recovered from ED, I wanted to share my story with others. I created this blog, and I am sure we can all look back to the start and see how far I have come. I believe that this blog has helped so many people - whether for ED, mental health, physical health, etc. But part of me wanted to do more. I wanted to make a bigger difference. I began giving presentations on ED, bullying, and mental health. But still, I wanted to do more. I wanted to use my story and experiences to help more people.

I started writing a book about my experiences with ED and mental health. When I finally finished it, I tried submitting it to multiple publishers. I got numerous rejections, for various reasons. Some told me that they simply were not interested, while others told me that they didn't have enough money now to publish a new book. I was devastated. Until one publisher got back to me and told me that if I fixed some parts of the book, they might be interested. And so, I worked at fixing the book. I added parts, removed others, and changed some...until...

IT IS PUBLISHED!!! That's right. I am now a formal and professional author. My book, Recipe for Recovery, is now available for purchase from bookstores, as well as the Publisher's Website. http://gsph.com/index.php?route=product/product&manufacturer_id=404&product_id=598.

RECIPE FOR RECOVERY: I Battled and Overcame an Eating Disorder, and You Can Too!  PREORDER Available May 15Recipe for Recovery is a book about my experiences with ED, mental health, depression, etc. It is for ED patients, survivors, caregivers, parents, and even health professionals. It is also for anyone interested in reading about my experiences, or learning about ED and mental health. There is something in it for everyone. There are funny jokes and even my own journal entries, which make it a funny and interesting read. There is no inappropriate or triggering information in it, so it is appropriate for patients who are still ill with ED. It can help you learn about how to work through your own problems (or to help someone else!), such as anxiety, an addiction, self-confidence, mental health, and more. You will read about CBT tips, relaxation strategies, confidence statements, etc. The book is NOT my blog is a book format; all content in the book is my own work that no one has read before! I also include updated research about ED and mental health treatment, all in an easy-to-understand and engaging manner. There are even food puns to make you smile and enjoy the read!

This is such a HUGE accomplishment. It is very difficult to get a book published these days - but here I am, with my own book published! I am so thankful to God for all His mercy and strength. He truly allowed me to go through all my challenges in order to help others. Thank you to my family and friends who have showed their consistent support through all my struggles. And thank you to all my readers who have supported me through this journey. Your kindness and involvement in my blog motivated me to write a book and to stay strong throughout my recovery.

My friends and family who live close to me have already purchased their copies from me. But, for all my online readers, I am asking you for your support! Please go to the link above and purchase a copy - it is only $21, and you will get buy and read my book! The website provides a payment option using MasterCard, Visa, and money orders. PLEASE PURHCASE A COPY, and when you get your copy and get to read it, let me know what you think of my book: what you liked about it, what you learned, how it has helped you, etc. And don't forget to please pass on this information to your own family and friends so that they too can buy a copy.

I promised that after I recovered, I would use my experiences and struggles to reach out to others and help them. I would be the individual who spoke openly about mental health and ED, who wasn't afraid to tell others about my struggles so that this would make a difference. And here I am, with my blog and now, my own book. Recipe for Recovery is more than just a 'help' book - it is a journey, a guide that seeks to raise awareness and challenge stigma associated with mental health and ED. It is a light-hearted read that helps readers understand what it is like to struggle with a mental health issue (like ED), how to recover, and how to stay sane during the entire process. I guarantee that you will enjoy it and learn something from it.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Children's Mental Health Week!

This week is Children's Mental Health week! These seven days, the focus is on children and how we can promote their mental health. It is about understanding that mental health is extremely important for all of us - even for children. It is about knowing that mental health issues are not things we should label as being 'weird', 'bad', 'abnormal', or 'wrong'. Mental health is just as important as any other type of health!

I have a secret for you. But it's not much of a secret, anymore, I suppose. I used to suffer from a mental health issue. In my sick days, I was quite sick because of the eating disorder. At a point in the hospital, I also struggled with depression. And it hurt - on the inside, but also physically. I was tired all the time. I felt scared, alone, and frustrated. I felt empty, void of all happiness. Now imagine if this happens in a child. Did you know that ONE IN FOUR children suffer from a mental health issue? I didn't! And this percentage is likely to increase. But there is hope!

We need to raise awareness. The word needs to be loud and clear: mental health is crucial for our well-being. It is not something we need to be ashamed of or to hide. If there is a problem or something that 'doesn't feel right', you need to get help. As adults in our society, we have a responsibility to help children get help! We need to be aware of mental health issues that may arise in children and be prepared to step in and fight for their right to a better life. We need to eliminate all the sigma around mental health. Having a mental health issue does not make a child less beautiful, special, smart, strong, or lovable. If we intervene early enough, we can make a huge difference. We can help children get better when they are young. We can show them that life does not have to be a scary journey, one in which they are worried that they will be discriminated against because they may suffer from a mental health issue. We need the world to stop showing us that mental health issues mean that we are inferior. We need to spread the word that getting help is the best way to deal with a mental health issue - and this is not something to be ashamed of.

So, please, take the time this week to spread the word about children's mental health! If you know a child suffering, take the time to let them know that you are here for them! Stop the stigma about mental health. Be the change you want to see in the world. Together, we can make a difference.

I suffered from a mental health issue. Does that make me less of a person than others? No. Does that mean I can never follow my dreams and be successful? No. Let this message be known to children - all children are beautiful, inside and out - regardless of any mental health issues they may endure!