Tina McGuff is the Scottish based author of Seconds To Snap – a critically acclaimed & bestselling memoir of her experience of recovering from anorexia.
Tina’s life-or-death struggle with anorexia is shared with devastating honesty in her extraordinary account of a girl at war with herself. Through her years in and out of psychiatric wards, Tina takes us to some of the darkest places of the mind but ultimately her courage, conviction and sheer determination prevails. It took Tina seconds to snap and a lifetime to recover – but today, as a passionate campaigner for mental health, she’s living proof that there is always a reason to hope that one day, things will improve.
The book is now being adapted for the silver screen by Oscar and Golden Globe winning screenwriter, Branda Chapman.
Lorraine Kelly said this about Seconds to Snap, ‘This is an important, searingly honest book that will change lives. Tina is one of the bravest women I’ve ever met’.
Tina regularly appears on TV and writes for the Huffington Post.
It’s a joy to welcome Tina to the blog:
Describe a typical day for you?
Today, for example, I was up at 5 am as I had an important conference call from the Dubai’s Ministers office to discuss putting on talks to students. I always write out what I need to discuss, for clarity. I like being prepared for calls like that.
I also took a call from an ITV producer regarding the upcoming Netflix movie To The Bone with Lily Collins.
I check my emails through the day as I’m asked for advice from people all over the world.
After work, I made dinner for the family – which is always vegetarian as I haven’t eaten meat for over 30 years.
I always update my social media and check the news before relaxing with the family in the evening. I like to listen to a podcast before I sleep.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Being here today, as I didn’t think I would make it. Finding love with my husband and becoming a mother to our four children. Without these achievements nothing else would have been possible. My children encouraged me to tell my story to help others and my husband has stood by me since the beginning of our relationship when I needed support, and his love to me is unwavering. He understands why I do all that I do…
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
My car key with a Kate Spade Aeroplane keyring my children bought me for Mother’s Day. Valentina by Valentino perfume. Kiehls mango lip balm, chewing gum, a diary and my tatty copy of my book Seconds To Snap. It’s in there as I was showing someone it last night. I tend not to carry too much around.
What are your ambitions in life?
I’ve fulfilled so may so far – however I want to create real change moving forward for people suffering from anorexia and mental illness. I want to remove the stigma. I want to leave a legacy in schools where self-awareness, emotional intelligence, resilience and happiness are part of the curriculum so young people have the support and tools to become positive and tenacious citizens.
..I’m very lucky to be alive today thanks to the NHS team who saved my life. I will never take a single day for granted and therefore want to use my time to my fullest capacity.
If the movie gets made of the book then the positive story of hope no matter how bleak life feels, will reach many.
Aside from that, I want to be surrounded by the friends and family I love with all my heart and I want to be healthy enough to enjoy all that life has to offer.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
This is a hard one for me as I’ve learned so many things in my life both good and bad and wouldn’t change a thing.
However the one thing I wish I had more of at the beginning of my journey, was the confidence to be myself and not be so ashamed of my illness. I had a real battle with self-esteem and that stopped me doing many things…now I don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m very self-aware and know my strengths and weaknesses well.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Still be in great health…Hopefully I will have written another book. I have plans for many books.
The biggest plan is to roll out my talks and workshops across all schools, workplaces and universities. I also hope to have had some time to travel a little. There are many places I want to see – I just don’t have very much time at the moment.
What advice would you give a budding author?
Believe in yourself and your abilities. I was always good at writing at school however due to low self-esteem I never felt confident enough to tell anyone.
I feel I’ve wasted many years of my life wishing I’d written years ago.
I also wanted to be a dentist and a Harrier Jump Jet Pilot. Due to anorexia many years of education were stolen from me. It’s a huge regret. However, you can do and achieve anything if you work hard enough – please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
I want to encourage everyone to write as I truly believe we all have wonderful stories to tell that can inspire and encourage one another.
…Seconds To Snap was written for various reasons – mainly to end stigma.The patients I met along the way taught me so much about life and how you must never take anything for granted. You never know what’s around the corner.
Although I was motivated to write the book, I was admittedly, terrified of failing. Failing to make a difference, scared of letting everyone down but worst of all, letting myself down. I was terrified of self-failure.
We are all intrinsically self-critical so this fear was hard to shake. The self-doubt led me to question my purpose- I asked people lots of questions, tested the market, watched people’s reactions in certain situations..that research helped me write the book.
I also want to share that as a teenager, I stood in a grotty hospital toilet on one awful day, ready to end my life. Thankfully, my attempt was interrupted and it was a few days later, that I vowed to one day tell my story so no one else would feel as I did. I hoped my suffering would not have been in vain.
So, I went ahead and published Seconds To Snap with huge anxiety but also huge drive and passion to use it to help create change within society on many levels. It’s now been two years and I feel immensely proud of all I’ve achieved since publication. I don’t feel I’ve let myself down in any way. I just wish I’d done it sooner.
So if you’re thinking of writing a book – do it!!!
What do you wish you’d known about motherhood before having kids?
This list is endless.
That all births are different. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t get the one you expect.
You don’t have to be perfect to be a good mum. Being a good mum to me requires lots of love, time and space to help your kids develop into the beautiful people they’re all destined to be.
Be prepared for unbelievable emotions you could never have anticipated.
Finally, happiness is…
Being alive and healthy surrounded by a happy, healthy family and genuine friends. Perhaps a wee swim thrown in too.