Thursday, 28 February 2019

Eating disorders awareness week 2019

I didn't just wake up one day and decide not to eat.
It started with difficulties at work. I wasn't coping, was crippled with anxiety and living with depression.
There were warning signs that those around me noticed which I brushed aside.
It couldn't be happening again.

In 2011 I was discharged from the community eating disorders team and vowed 'never again.'
After several relapses of Anorexia since 1985, I was determined this was the last time. I was educated, had a good understanding of the illness and a supportive network of family and friends.
I was sure I had the strength and knowledge to not allow this insidious illness to take hold of me again.

But it did....
It chipped away bit by bit, slowly questioning every morsel I ate, getting into my head, punishing me physically and emotionally.
I tried to get help but at first no-one was interested.
My BMI wasn't low so everything must be OK, right?
In 2016 I saw a sympathetic Doctor who after looking at my history made a referral to the ed team.
This is where my long road to recovey began.
The process was hard. My anorexia was ingrained to the point where I would only allow myself a drink if I'd completed a certain amount of steps on my fitbit.
I was an emotional wreck and fading physically.

During my time with the ed team I worked on myself.
With a combination of cognitive analytical therapy, compassion focused therapy and emdr, I began to understand more about how I think, my emotional responses and my triggers.
After 2 hospital admissions I had started the refeeding process which helped my cognition immensely.  It wasn't easy and my safe bubble had been popped. Keeping on track was at times emotionally draining. Acceptance of my new size does not come easily but with compassion I am learning to like myself a bit more.
With each relapse I have learned something new.
I have learned how important peer support is, especially in a hospital setting.
I have learned that I am not responsible for past trauma.
I have learned to be honest if I'm struggling, with myself and those around me.
I have strategies and tools in place along with a wellness recovery action plan.
So on eating disorders awareness week i want to offer hope to those still struggling.  There is a life out there not ruled by calories, exercise or scales.
It won't happen overnight, recovery is a process, but it's a process worth fighting for.

I can't say, "never again," but I will say, "Anorexia, I shall be watching out for you and I can beat you."

Monday, 31 December 2018

Saying goodbye

Its been a funny old year.  Like everyone else on this earth its been a combination of happiness, sadness, frustration, confusion, laughter, tears, new beginnings and imminent endings.
The one thing I have learnt is that we all have shit to deal with, its how we cope with this is what can make the difference.
The year started for us with uncertainties.  I lost my job, a job I loved but one which was the catalyst to my mental illness. This brought relief but also worry about finances and a big gap in my life with feelings of insecurity for the future.
I lost my eating disorders Nurse who in hindsight I probably relied on too much.
I was discharged due to not meeting my targets and this was the right thing to happen. I had been through 2 hospital stays and the only person who could take control of my life was me.
My therapy started and after a year I am happy to say that this gave me the tools to use to help with regulating my emotions and responding to them in a more positive way.   I just need to remember to use them before I reach crisis level.  If you see me dipping, I wont be offended if you remind me of this.
I started work again in the Summer but was hit with the old feelings of anxiety, depression, managed for 4 months before making the decision to leave.  It was the right decision
By this time my head was all over the place but my Therapist was right......his words, ."even though you are feeling like this now, does not mean you are back where you were 2 years ago."  Good old Dominic.  It took a lot of determination and hard work to recognise this and try to move on.

As a family we are now struggling again.
Kevs Mum is very frail. Over the past month she has had hospital admissions for pneumonia and is now on end of life care.  Her decision to stop eating and drinking has been particularly difficult to watch. The feelings I have now must be how those around me felt when I was in the clutches of Anorexia and I cannot apologise enough for this.  Seeing my hubby overwhelmed with emotion and so so sad is horrible.  I am trying to be the strong one here and that is bloody tough.  Seeing Mum how she is then caring for the elderly in my new job is tough, it is a constant reminder of her mortality.
We have no idea of how long we have but we  need to be there for her and I need to be there for Kev.
After losing both parents in different circumstances I know the pain he is going through and it hurts that I can't make it better.  All I can do is be there for both of them and do the best I can.
As we say goodbye to one year and welcome the next, cherish those around us, make time for those we love, live each day as its your last.
Love to you all.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

The past week has been tough.  Its hard to explain what has been going on inside my head and there seems no rational behind it.
Everything in my life appeared on the outside to be going well.
I felt well, had given up smoking, started running, stopped drinking too much caffeine and was looking forward. So what happened?

Dominique in his Wednesday purple jumper plucked a few ideas out of the air but could give no reason, does there need to be a reason?
I shall try and put into words how I feel, words which may not make sense to anyone including myself, but its a positive release.

My head feels broken.
The cracks are showing.
I'm trying to fit in but how can I when I don't seem to 'fit.'
Trying too hard is exhausting.
Talking is exhausting.
Overthinking is exhausting.
Fighting against myself is exhausting.
Sleep isn't what it should be.
Over and over in my head I am analysing things I said, things other people said.
Was I too loud?
Was I too quiet?
Did I say or do something wrong.
I'm like a square peg in a round hole, bashing myself slowly to fit in.
Feeling too much hurts, feeling nothing makes me hurt myself.
Messed up, screwed up, worthless.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

I am sorry

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the past few weeks.  My therapy has triggered lots of memories, most I wish I could forget but instead of pushing them aside, I am dealing with the emotions that run alongside them.  My brain is constantly on high alert; fight or flight mode and it takes a great deal of strength to recognise and accept what has happened and learn to live with this.

Some situations I can put on the back burner and give no space too, others are a bit more difficult.
Two years ago I would say I was at crisis point without realising.  It was my best friends 50th Birthday, a day that should have been one to remember for all the right reasons, but I tainted it...or rather my illness tainted it.

It started as a wonderful evening, a surprise party with family and friends together but ended on my part a total mess.
I was not in a good place but didn't realise how ill I was.  Those around me did, but I wasn't hearing them.
An innocent comment at the end of the evening sent me into meltdown.
One minute I was in our local pub, the next I was sat on the beach several miles away.  I was cold, frightened, alone and wasn't sure how I actually got there.
There are large gaps in that evening and to this day I have no idea what I was doing.
When the Police picked me I had no idea why? When I was taken home I couldn't understand why my house was full of people who had been looking for me for hours.
The next day I was persuaded to go to A & E by friends in what I could only describe as an intervention.  One of those friends has always separated my actions from myself as a person and reminds me that it was my illness at fault.  This helps to put things into perspective.

It is only now when I am actively recovering that I feel the hurt my illness put people through.  That makes me sad and angry that I let it get that bad.  This post is for those people.....

An Open Letter To Those I Hurt

I am sorry,
To my Husband who would check on me at night to make sure I was still breathing.  I am sorry for the times my illness lied to you.  I am sorry that I put my eating disorder before our relationship.
I am sorry that I made you sad, scared you and put you under immense pressure.
I am sorry that I couldn't be honest with you about what was going on, even though I knew that you knew.

To my Sister.  I am sorry for not opening up to you.  I am sorry that I made you worry when you had enough going on in your life.  I am sorry that you thought you were losing me.I am sorry for not being the Sister  I needed to be.

To my Son.  I am sorry that I worried you and didn't put you first.  I am sorry that I wasn't around when you moved house, I have missed so many milestones with you and for that I am sorry.
I am sorry that seeing me caused you so much upset and I wasn't the best Mother I could have been.

To D and G.  I am sorry for not being truthful about how bad I was feeling.  I am sorry for the missed social events, the tears, the tantrums for not being the best friend I could.  I am sorry for the drunken emotional times, for being self centred and self absorbed.
I am sorry that you needed to constantly check up on me when I was at my lowest.

To J.  I am sorry for scaring you and for causing you distress.
I am sorry for changing our relationship to how it is now. I am sorry for the nights i just cried and cried with no thought to how you were feeling.

To my friends.  I am sorry for my lame excuses, for causing you pain and worry.  I am sorry for the mood swings, the constant need for validation and my neediness.

I am sorry but I am also very, very thankful for all of you. x

Monday, 30 July 2018

Should they stay or should they go?

I was prompted to write this after reading a friends blog on weighing.
Since finishing my treatment at hospital my scales have disappeared and reappeared more times than I can remember .
After being discharged I agreed to not have scales in the house again.  As expected, I did not stick to this.
It generally started as me asking for them for one day, just so I knew in advance of any appointments.
Initially I would give then back to Kev to put back in their hidey place but eventually the pull to know what I weighed became too strong and the scales stayed put.
My therapist has now refused to weigh me at sessions whilst I continue to abuse the scales at home.
This sounds fair to me and saves me from the anxiety of weigh days.
He asked me if it was helpful to keep weighing myself and I disputed all his arguments.  I of course being in complete control....note the sarcasm.

So I am now sat here contemplating my need, my desire to constantly weigh myself.  What is the benefit?  Does it make me feel any better about myself?  What is the worst that can happen if I don't step on the scales?

I think it has now become a part of my day alongside adding up calories, making sure I've burned a certain amount walking and don't go over my intake or under my outgoing.
I have tried to manage without but I need to know what is happening to my body.
I can't cope with my clothes being tighter, I feel disgust at the changes in my body, the flab on my stomach, my thighs getting closer, It doesn't feel like me anymore.
The scales tell me what is OK and what isn't.  How much I can eat today or how much I need to walk.
I have a buffer zone.  A window of 7 pounds, a number I will not go over and a number  I know safely, I cannot go under.
I have kept my safety zone for around the past 8 months and feel safe and in control of this.
The thought of changing this alongside starting trauma therapy is just too much at the moment.
This might sound really negative or that I'm not trying but that's not the case.  Its a balancing act.

Maybe this is something I need to discuss with my therapist?

Monday, 23 July 2018

Dear Body. Part 3

I was going to write about our recent travels, but thought I would reply to my last 'letter' found here.
In a way it fits in with parts of my holiday, but I will fill you in with that later.

Dear Body,

Thank you for listening to me and reminding me of how important you are.  I will try and listen to you and remember the good times.
I understand that I don't treat you as well as you deserve and I'm glad that you reminded me of this.
I don't mean to hurt you, but sometimes I am so overwhelmed with shame I just don't know how to deal with it.
You are my punchbag.
I question if trying to shape you into something different has any benefit to me at all, or has it been so long that I'm scared to step outside of my comfort zone?
I will be taking you on holiday soon.  I cannot promise that I won't give you a hard time, but I will try not to put you under too much pressure or compare you with other bodies.
I need to be building you up, not knocking you down.

I have had many comments on how slim you are and that makes me feel good.
How does it make you feel when I keep you hungry and wear you out?
How do you feel when I eat too much and go to bed feeling sick?
When you shout back at me, is that you or is it in my head?
How do you feel when I argue back?
So many unanswered questions tearing me in pieces.


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Dear Jackie

You may recall my 'Dear Body' post, if you haven't read it, you can find it here.
After writing to my Body I then had to respond as my body.  All seems a bit weird you may think, talking to myself, but the process was quite empowering.
Again I tried not to overthink what I was asked to do, but thought of it as me replying to a friend.

 Dear Jackie,

You were so small and vulnerable when you were born.  I wasn't sure you would survive but you battled on.  I wonder if sometimes you feel like that now?
I know you dislike me, you tell me often enough  You try to hurt me with your thoughts and actions but I'm still here for you and I won't let you down.  You are a fighter.
You tell me how much you hate your stomach.  You see fat and disgust.  I see a part of you which held your child close, a part of you which suffered physical pain for years and needed surgery to put right.
Don't be embarrassed or ashamed of your scars, they are part of your story.
You are so much more than what is looking back in the mirror.  Those scars on your hips show the pain you tolerated both physically and mentally.
You recovered from surgery and you pushed and pushed yourself until you passed that 26 mile mark.
I need to be cared for, loved, cherished and nourished. I know that one day you will feel this way towards me again.
Don't blame yourself for the things that have happened to me. Those things were out of your control, you didn't know any better.
Please, please try and treat me with the respect I deserve.  I hate to be in pain, especially in my head.
I would love to be friends with you again.

Your body xx

My dialogue with my body continues.  My next task is for my to again respond in a compassionate way.
Until next time.

Eating disorders awareness week 2019

I didn't just wake up one day and decide not to eat. It started with difficulties at work. I wasn't coping, was crippled with anxie...