Florence Swift, ED Recovery + Mental Health Awareness Champion

17 December 2018

For many, Christmas is a time for over-indulging in mountains of food, but for some this time is their idea of hell, when food is nothing but an enemy. Between 600,000 and 725,000 people in the UK are affected by eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa which are considered to be serious mental health problems. Some people attribute eating disorders to media and the increased importance that is placed on ‘needing’ to have a certain body shape or type. Although some see Instagram as a facilitator, one inspirational lady has turned this into a platform to assist her recovery of this terrible illness and by sharing her thoughts, worries, and musings with her adoring followers she is not only aiding her own recovery but helping thousands of people who are also suffering. 
Florence Swift, aka, Swift_Eats is one of Instagram's true gems, with it being so easy to get swept up in a sea of 'body goals' and 'unhealthy detoxes' she is championing being happy, healthy and confident in who you are. 

I caught up with her to hear her story..

At what point did you realise you had an eating disorder and how did you address it at the time?

I realised quite soon into my disorder that I had a problem, I studied Psychology at University so I knew the diagnostic criteria for anorexia but kind of thought I had everything under control and that it didn’t apply to me, so I was totally in denial. Luckily I was already seeing my therapist at the time and we would talk about my anxieties around food and food behaviours. I remember one session she referred to me as having anorexia and I felt so shocked because no one has used those words before and I couldn’t really believed that I’d unknowingly slipped into and full blown eating disorder when it had just started as a diet.
In terms of addressing it, I learnt that my food behaviours were a manifestation of my depression, anxiety and past traumas, so I really did the work to unravel the deeper issue. My ed was a coping mechanism so once I understood what I was using it to cope with I was more easily able to let go of it.


When did you decide to lay yourself bare on social media to help others? How has it helped you?

There wasn’t really a moment where I was like ok I’m gonna start being honest about what I’m experiencing. It kind of just happened. I think the first post where I was really honest about what I’d been experiencing was about 18 months ago. At first I just alluded to the fact that I’d experienced mental health problems. Mental health is such a taboo and I initially felt ashamed talking about my experiences, I didn’t want to put people off and now I don’t give a shit! I’m always talking about mental health, periods, whatever, I don’t care.
It’s helped me come into myself so much. It’s been so empowering. In the past I used to instagram to make it look like I had a perfect life, and it felt so fake, so it’s amazing to be able to be honest and be so accepted for that. My audience are the most supportive, amazing people. They’ve helped me grow and learn so much about myself. I’m so grateful for the space the give me to share and create.

What advice would you give to your younger self and what advice would you say to ignore?

Ah jeez. I don’t even know where to begin! There’s so much stuff I wish I’d know, but I’d probably say:
1. Trust your gut above all else
2. You are your number one priority
3. If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will either
4. How you look is the least important thing about you

In terms of ignoring - basically just ignore what everyone else is doing and telling you to do!
I think I knew a lot of this already, but I kind of needed to experience everything before I truly believed it. I had to go through a lot of shitty relationships, listen to a lot of shitty advice first. I guess it’s all just a part of growing up.

In the last 5 years what behaviour, habit or belief has improved your life?

This is so hard because I could honestly list about 20 things but, really, really, going to therapy is the best choice I’ve ever made. It’s changed and honestly saved my life. I’ve been paying to go to therapy for 4 years, which financially is kind of rough, but I’d rather invest in my mental health than buy clothes or go out drinking so for me it’s a no brainer.

What five things can you not live without?

1. Some kind of mindfulness practice - yoga, journalling, mediation
2. Sourdough
3. Moisuriser
4. My support network
5. Chocolate

Follow florence here

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