Easter and Eating Disorders

Its that time of year again…Easter

Everybody over indulges on chocolate and anyone not eating an Easter egg at Easter is odd. They even sell lactose free and free from versions so there is no excuse.

I have been over my eating disorder for more than 5 years now however, there is something about the holidays that make me uneasy.

Chocolate on any other day of the year (except Christmas) don’t bother me, I will happily eat a milky bar without the feeling of guilt.

I think because of my past, Easter and Christmas will always be a little tough for me, not to say I wont eat sweets on Easter as I do but its still tough. It does get easier year after year though.

I have spoken to a few people today who are struggling with eating disorders and Easter, I just want to let them know that it doesn’t last forever, learn to love who you are and find support…there are many organisations and charities out there that can help.

I have had a lovely day out with family and although Easter is still a hard day for me I get through it and I have beat it.

For information on Eating Disorders  – https://b-eat.co.uk/

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Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disoder (FASD) NO Alcohol NO Risk!!

As most of my readers are aware I am the founder of Recovery Mummy, one of the things I offer is a play support group where the parents can get peer support and advice on living a healthy life in recovery. The great thing about play support is that babies and tots can come along and take part in sensory games, arts  and crafts whilst the parents receive valuable peer support.

More information on Recovery Mummy can be found at – http://www.facebook.com/recoverymummy

I have been taking part in lots of training associated with the work I am doing and one of the courses I recently took part in was Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Training… Prenatal Damage and the Life Long Effects.

I sat down to begin training and it struck me…I actually didn’t have a clue about FASD!! I mean I knew that some babies were born with the condition and that babies would have withdrawal symptoms and needed to be monitored but I didn’t realise that it was a life long disorder. I thought that once the withdrawal symptoms had gone the baby would be fine…Yep I cant believe how naïve I was until I did awareness training.

New guidelines state that women  are to avoid alcohol in pregnancy but If they do choose to drink, to minimise risk to the baby, the government’s advice is to not have more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week, and not to get drunk.

A few years back doctors and midwives would recommend pregnant women with low iron levels to drink Guinness and drink red wine for antioxidants.

When someone drinks alcohol it is filtered though the liver, it depends on the individuals body type and weight  how long this takes however on average if you drink a large (250ml) glass of wine, your body takes about three hours to break down the alcohol.

An unborn baby has no functioning liver so they cant filter it themselves, it is thought that the unborn foetus lays in the alcohol fluid for 3 days.

Imagine the foetus as a raw egg…below is a picture of a raw egg in water (L)  and another in Vodka (R)…after only 7 hours in the vodka the egg in Vodka has began to cook its self…now imagine it after 3days in the vodka.

egg vod

What is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder??

FASD’S are mental, physical and neurobehavioral impairments caused by women drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

  • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is the leading known cause of 
learning disability.
  • FASD and other alcohol-related birth defects are 100% preventable if a woman doesn’t drink during pregnancy.
  • FASD can cause serious social and behavioural problems.
  • Alcohol can cause more damage to an unborn baby than any other drug.
  • There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy.


FASD is an umbrella term that covers Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND), Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD), Foetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) and partial Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (pFAS). Its effects range from reduced intellectual ability and Attention Deficit Disorder to heart problems.

FASD may not be detected at birth but can become apparent later in life and carries lifelong implications

A child can not be affected by FASD if the mother didn’t drink during pregnancy.

FASD Characteristics

Invisible characteristics

  • Attention and memory deficits
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts (eg maths, time and money)
  • Confused social skills
  • Poor problem solving skills
  • Difficulty learning from consequences
  • Poor judgement
  • Immature behaviour
  • Poor impulse control

Physical effects

  • Smaller head circumference
  • Heart problems
  • Limb damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Damage to the structure of the brain
  • Eye problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Specific facial characteristics, including a flat nasal bridge, upturned nose, thin upper lip and smooth philtrum (the vertical groove between the upper lip and nose)

There are 428 conditions associated with FASD.

Of all the FASD disorders FAS is the most recognisable…

FAS is characterised by the following anomalies

  • Central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction
  • Facia dysmorphology
  • Pre- and  post-natal growth deficiency

Below is an example of a doll with FAS:


Below is a chart of foetal development. As you can see it is never safe to drink alcohol during any stage of pregnancy.


Many cases of FASD go unnoticed as mothers are not asked about their alcohol consumption before finding out they are pregnant. Most women find that they are pregnant when they are around 4 weeks gone. So what if the mother went on a drinking binge not realising she was pregnant? Mothers are not asked about the weeks before so no record would be made of it thus making it harder to diagnose FASD later in the child’s life.

So as you can see FASD is more common than we think, FASD is a life long disability that requires on going care and understanding.

Its shocking to think that most health professionals don’t know much about it and therefore many infants, toddlers, adolescence and adults affected by FASD live in a world without support. I was also shocked to find out, that of all pregnant women, on average, the most educated women are those found to be drinking during pregnancy.

If this blog post has interested you and you would like to find out more about FASD please go to – http://www.nofas-uk.org/

If you would like to find out more about the training I received

Please email – Joanna@redballoontraining.co.uk

Website – http://www.redballoontraining.co.uk


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The Bipolar Ride

Over the last few years I have learnt to identify when I am about to experience mood fluctuations. My episodes used to last so long but with time they have become less frequent and less severe…when they start it’s like a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. They can play out like this…

I don’t mind when it starts in fact it can be quite enjoyable…the feeling of amazing energy and thoughts and ideas that come flying out of my head at 100mph can be thrilling and exciting.

I get so much housework done it is quite mad, I talk for hours about how the world will look in the future or anything for that matter. I become artistic and become very organised…I feel almost alien like…my senses tingle and my reaction speed is increased. My work speed and focus becomes mind-blowing that if someone could bottle it and sell it they would be millionaires!


But with all this amazement and thoughts and ideas also come the bad. I usually require treatment (medication) to bring me out of my manic state and then I start to experience low moods

I start to feel anxious, I think about what I have started… but now I can’t finish…this gets me down. I start to worry that my mental state is not strong enough to succeed if I’m not hypomanic. I worry that I don’t have enough energy…I feel down. I get thoughts of dread and think lots of negative thoughts.

The low moods are horrible.

With self management I have become quite good at recognising when one of my rides is about to start and I know most of the ups and downs I’m about to take. I usually feel excitement, agitation, restlessness, panic, worry, no sleep, too much sleep, racing thoughts, mad ideas, no patience…the list goes on…

If you don’t identify the fluctuations in moods it could possibly get worse and become an episode that requires treatment.

If you think you may be experiencing any of the symptoms I have mentioned please seek help…there are many organisations out there that can offer so much…take the care and advice offered.

For more advice and information about bipolar please visit –



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Who is Recovery Mummy (may be upsetting to some)

I am so close to my launch day of Recovery Mummy I feel I need to let everyone know a little more about me personally. I don’t want any of my group members to think that I just went to University learnt a bunch of stuff and then felt like dictating to people about how to enjoy life and live free of addiction or other mental health problems.

At 15 years old I developed anorexia nervosa, I think my parents divorcing, moving home a lot and then suffering with anxiety issues took its toll on me and I learnt very quickly that if I couldn’t control what was going on around me then I at least could control my weight.

I suffered with eating disorders for around 8 years and at the very end would make myself sick to the point where I was bringing up blood and I weighed barley 7st at 23 years old.

At 15 I also started to drink. When I drank i lost my hunger pangs and soon found that drinking liquid was stopping me from eating, another thing i found was that the drink also stopped me from having panic attacks and i could at long last have the courage to make friends.

By the age of 17 I had started to drink heavy daily, I would wake have one cup of tea and then survive the rest of the day on wine, martini and cider and blacks. Pay day I would find myself in the pub and easily spend all my wages buying rounds of drinks for anyone I knew as I knew come tomorrow and the rest of the week they would provide my alcohol. I also dabbled in other substances around this age, although drinking in work finally got me fired.

At 23 i had my first emergency detox. I made a bet with someone that I could go a whole day without a drink…such a silly mistake. I got through the day shaking, sweating I was sooo thirsty and I felt really weak. I started to experience panic attacks and decided it was time for bed I was feeling so ill and my balance was everywhere.

By that evening my body had gone into shock, I couldn’t walk, my fingers and sort of seized up and I couldn’t feel my face. I tried to phone an ambulance but my fingers couldn’t dial the number and I then lost the ability to move my lips to talk. My now husband was there and he quickly called emergency services.

When the paramedics arrived they asked what had I taken then my partner said nothing she hasn’t even had a drink today. The paramedic asked about the amount of alcohol i usually drink and how long for and when he found out he said… silly girl, she needs medical attention fast.

I don’t remember much of that night, my husband was told that I could possibly go into to cardiac arrest as my potassium levels were so low the doctor was surprised I was even alive.

I woke the next morning and for the first time in a long time i could actually see…that sounds crazy but its the truth…things were clear.

I remained in hospital for around a week I was on a detox drip to flush out my body for 48 hours and then a potassium drip for 4 days. I had to take potassium every day for around a month at home. I also found out that my liver had signs of damage and if I stopped the drinking my liver in time would repair.

This was the first step into admitting to everyone that I was an alcoholic.

From then on I’ve had 2 relapses but they were quite short lived and I will be writing about them in the future.

So as you can see, I know how it feels to live with addiction. It gets easier and with support everything is possible, if I can do it surely others can.

Recovery Mummy is here to help those who want help. I don’t talk about addiction at my play groups but I think it is important to know your not alone there are others who have walked the same walk you have.

I will be going into more detail about mental health and eating disorders in the future so please feel free to follow my blog or like my page.

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Nicotine Replacement and Me!

New Years Eve will be here before we know it and New Years resolutions will be the topic of most peoples conversation come New Years day.

Last year my New Years resolution was to give up Nicotine replacement…yep you read right giving up nicotine replacement. I had currently been hooked on the quick mist spray for a year and a half and now wanted to stop it as my stop smoking councillor was now refusing to give me anymore on prescription.

I decided to give up smoking not long before I fell pregnant with my second child, I tried cold turkey but after daily arguments and episodes of agitation I felt my mood swings were to much to bare and went to a stop smoking councillor though my doctors.

My stop smoking councillor  decided that I needed a fast acting nicotine replacement after smoking 30 a day for the last few years. This spray was great! I actually cut down my daily cigarette intake by half in the first day! By day three I was solely using the quick mist spray and feeling more positive about giving up smoking.

I had seven weekly appointments and then given 5 weeks worth of nicotine replacement therapy so 12 weeks in total to give up smoking and the replacement therapy.

When the 12 weeks was up I asked my doctor to put the sprays on repeat prescription as I was finding it really difficult to give up. I was depending on the sprays and would smoke again if I could not get it. My doctor agreed for a short while but said I needed to come off them soon.

A year later I was still hooked, I really tried so hard to stop but the fast acting spray was so addictive! I would even spend £19.00 on one spray that would only last me three days, smoking would have cost me less at this point.

Enough was enough at a year and a half into my addiction to nicotine replacement I decided to call the smoking councillor again.

Upon this meeting I was told that the spray can be very addictive, especially to those who have had issues with alcohol in the past! I was told that there job was to get me off cigarettes and not the replacement therapy, but in this case they would try to help. I was then told to use patches for 12 weeks to wean off the spray starting on the highest level of nicotine patch and then going down to the lowest level patch. I put the patch on and instantly my arm started to itch and my skin became hot to touch, I was allergic to the patch!

That evening I decided I would go cold turkey again and it would be my New years resolution. Yay! I’ve almost made it a year without my quick mist spray.

A warning to all, if you do decide to try the quick mist spray…yes it stops you smoking cigarettes but beware of the quick mist addiction!

Anyone else have this problem with quick mist??

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Alcohol, Christmas and Me…RecoveryMummy

So its that time of year again, Christmas celebrations, work parties and meals out with friends.

December is just a few days away and my Christmas tree will be let out of its box once again to delight and excite all who see it.

December and the Christmas period for me can be a fun and enjoyable time but also it can be really trying when it comes to living in recovery of an addiction to alcohol.

Alcohol and Celebrations go hand in hand so for me December is the worst month in my year! Not only do I have to deal with walking around city centre with the smell of hot mulled wine in the air but I then go home settle down to watch TV and then have to see most  adverts glamorising stodgy foods and luxury wines, adverts are showing me how I can pour baileys into a hot cup of coffee or even better drizzle it over Christmas pudding…wish they would stop, its hard enough as it is.

December I  also have 4 birthday celebrations, all close family members, so again its meals out for me surrounded by drink. I sometimes feel anger when I see people having fun drinking away, saying “lets have one more  its Christmas” I mean I can cope with people having a drink around me, in fact I do it most weekends but there’s a certain point when the drinker goes beyond just a little tipsy and that I cant stand. I leave the party, I will leave peoples homes. I just start to get really uncomfortable. Its not because I am fearful that I will want to drink its just that I don’t have time for it! It may sound really bad of me but I cant help but sometimes feel annoyed at someone being a stupid drunk.

Even though its just over 2 and half years since my last drink this Christmas will be the 5th one I have not being drinking (2 out of 5 I was pregnant)  I am looking forward to spending it at home with my husband and two boys. I don’t really want to be around everyone drinking now that my boys are getting older, Christmas should be for fun and laughter not drunken family rows and spewing up on boxing day from binge drinking the night before.

So this year I will do as I do every year and that is keep myself busy, keep using the gym for my stress and anxiety, meet up and talk to others in a similar situation to myself and enjoy everything that Christmas has to offer to someone in recovery.

I will be taking the boys to winter wonderland this year even though the smell of warm spiced cider can make me uneasy I will never let my children miss out on something because of my own reason… but luckily for me my little ones are a pretty good distraction anyway.

If in Recovery : How do you deal with the Christmas period in recovery? Please comment below 🙂

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1st Blog…Am I dead!

After three relapses I finally said no more, in one afternoon I almost lost everything and everyone I hold dear to me. It is the 26th June 2013 I am drinking again, I am going though post partum depression and suffering extreme psychosis.  I feel alone though I am not, I am a new mum I should’ve been concerned with my child not the glass of wine that was in my hand…I feel guilty, I still do…I felt alone.

I woke on the 27th June 2013, shaking and craving. I NEED a drink, get me out of here but I cant go anywhere, I cant see! I realise quickly I am not at home, I don’t have my glasses on my bedside table I cant feel the comfort of my mattress instead I am greeted by a cold slab beneath me…am I dead? I feel like death though I am not, I am in a cell…what have I done!

Two and a half years later I feel renewed, I am in recovery. I have a supportive husband and two beautiful boys who I really do adore. I still deal with anxiety and panic attacks and that can sometimes cause restrictions but I am getting there.

Its not easy to keep myself from relapsing, in fact its the hardest thing I will ever do but everyday gets that little bit easier, Christmas, Birthdays, Easter…you name it alcohol is involved. My very busy lifestyle helps with my recovery and I use exercise as a form of stress relief.

You can usually see me walking about Cardiff pushing my pram, attending most child friendly events, chilling in a coffee shop or  having a browse in the charity shops (the bargains you can find!)

In my spare time I am now setting up a Facebook page and group to support parents in recovery living in Cardiff and surrounding areas. Please find me on Facebook, recovery mummy is here to help stamp out stigma and discrimination attached to recovering parents…”Be Proud not Stigmatised”