From the age of 4, I was bullied for being in a bigger body than my classmates. This combined with growing up with a society full of diet culture caused me to become self conscious and desperate. My the age of 9 I was skipping meals, trying to fit in and stop the
bullying at any cost. I was depressed, had at least 3 major panic attacks a day and was under constant supervision incase I tried to commit suicide.
In 2014 I started the year with the same resolution as I had done for years “I must lose weight.” That year I ate as little as possible, exercised for hours on end and cut myself off from friends and family that tried to prevent the disaster I was running towards at full speed. Eventually after losing half my body weight in 6 months I was fast-tracked to an eating disorder treatment centre where I spent 5 years as an outpatient. The treatment was directed towards helping my parents helping me gain weight for physical health, while this kept me alive, my mental health still suffered. I was terrified - but more than that, I was confused, I was a ball of emotions and I didn’t know which way to turn. I know at this point getting my thoughts out would have helped massively Skip forward a few years and I reach my ultimate low point. I collapsed, on my own, from malnutrition and later ended up in A&E with a suspected heart attack.
That day was the first time I feared death more that weight gain that would save me. At 18 years old I got a tattoo of a feather; it had been a symbol of hope since I got seriously ill in 2014. Feathers are often recognised as a symbol of recovery and in this moment, I needed that symbol more than anything. I decided that I had to change and committed myself to living a life without my eating disorder.
.Dawn is an illustrated workbook, journal and online support network for people in eating disorder recovery. By combining workbook exercises, expert therapeutic advice and the support of a safe online community I hope to address the gap in some current treatment plans while allowing a space for people to work through difficult emotions.In essence, this is the workbook I wish had existed in the depths of my illness.The book holds space for one year worth of healing but doesn't use specific dates so it can be reprinted and used for years to come. By breaking down the year into manageable monthly sections, ".Dawn" allows its audience to stay in the present and tackle challenges on a day to day basis without becoming overwhelmed.
Each month begins with a goal setting exercise, calling upon the audience to release something negative in their life and replace it with gentle and controlled exposure to the things they fear. This kind of exposure therapy is something I learned about in CBT treatment and helped me to break down the strength of the eating disorder over time. Each month I will also write about possible challenges and the positives that time of year gives, as well as set a challenge that can be shared online for support. Just under half of the pages are used as a daily journal, giving you space to write your thoughts down each day and release any emotions that come up during recovery. The remaining pages are a mix of worksheet style exercises, therapeutic advice, motivational quotes and silly illustrative posters to keep patients' spirits up in tough times.
Artwork and Design
The art needed to be calming. I set to work creating a soft watercolour theme that I would have loved in my own recovery.
I decided to self publish because I wanted full control over my book, my workbook was so personal that I just couldn't risk someone going through and editing all the bits I spent so long writing from my own experience.
I initially tried to fund the work through kickstarter.com but with COVID-19 a lot people weren't finachially prepared to invest in a project. After my kickcstarter period ended i changed my fundraising to a Go Fund Me project with no time limit allowing me to fundraise with less stress and more time. In the end with the support of lots of lovely recovery warriors, freinds and family I was able to raise enough money to get the book professionally printed to send out to schools, hospitals and lovely customers.
I published my book on 01/10/2020 and since then I have been inundated by the beautiful feedback I have recieved. This book has allowed me to make something positive from a horrible situation and hopefully help others who are struggling.