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.

Friday, 22 June 2018

I have a purpose.

Over the past 2 years I have only worked for 3 months. My mental and physical health had taken its toll and work was not a priority,  my recovery was.
I have never been a shirker.  I have always enjoyed my job and often put in more hours than I was paid for.
I would take my work home with me, both mentally and physically.
I enjoyed what I did and gave 100%.
This was to be my downfall.  When I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety I carried on with my work.  I still loved what I was doing but would constantly question my decisions.  I would lay awake at night worrying about clients, reports, safeguarding.  I couldn't shut off.
I would freeze at meetings, important meetings and felt I was failing, not good enough.
It began to chip away at my confidence, something which I am still working on.
Being away from work for such a length of time was hard and not just financially.
I missed the contact from other people, my mind wasn't stimulated, I struggled in social settings.
When I was discharged from hospital my plan was always to go back to work.  Yes I would have loved to return to my previous post but unfortunately it wasn't to be.  I was dismissed on capability grounds after 19 years service.
I applied for other jobs, accepting that at the moment I would only be able to work a few hors a week.  I had interviews for jobs in my field and was offered one but my confidence wouldn't let me accept it.  I stressed about whether I could do it, what would happen if I made a mistake, how would I relate to my colleagues?

I then took the plunge and went for something new, something out of my comfort zone and I'm glad I did.
I am now working at a local cafĂ©. Its busy but that is how I like it.  Each day I have  anxiety before I go but I focus on the benefits, a bit of extra money, meeting people and learning new skills.
Today I received my uniform so I must be doing something right.
I love the business of it all, the staff are great and the customers.....well, I try and make them feel welcome and always give a smile.
I can multi task, steam milk whilst preparing teacakes, I love it. My legs are aching by the end of my shift and I need to be mindful of putting fuel into my body as I'm burning more off.
I may be on minimum wage and cleaning tables but I have a purpose again.  I am giving something back and that feels good.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Dear Body

Dear Body......

Thought I would share some work I have been doing with my therapist, and would be interested to hear your thoughts or whether you can relate.
I have no idea who reads this now and I hope that whoever is is gaining some perspective to either reach out or to help others.

I was 'invited' to write a letter to my body, concentrating on a particular part if needed that was troubling me.  I then had to write a letter in response from my body to myself.
This is something I had done before but in a more creative less intense way.
I was asked not to think too much about what I was writing and to just feel it and let it flow.
This was difficult to write and uncomfortable to hear when read back to me.
It was like hearing it for the first time and upsetting to process.

Dear Body,

We have known each other for a long time now and have shared lots of experiences.
I know I do not treat you as I should.  I often hurt you or don't look after you properly.
I am sorry for the pain I put you through but sometimes it is all I know what to do,
I don't find you attractive anymore.  I no longer remember what you used to look like and that frustrates me.  I want to remember a time I was happy with you, or just a part of you.
I detest your stomach; the scars; the fat; the skin' the way it looks when I sit down.
I hate it but it gets more attention than any other part of you.
It is my main focus when I am moving, walking or when I look in the mirror.
You disgust me.
I wonder what others think of you? Do they think me fat, gross and lazy when they see you?
Body, I don't want to be seen or noticed.  I hate that you have been a sexual object, something to be used and hurt by other people.
You have been ridiculed, shamed and abused.
I am ashamed to be seen, to be noticed.  Some days I do not even know who you are.
I hate you.

I have yet to write the response.  I think that will take some time.  Compassion doesn't come easily for me.  Compassion towards others yes, but not towards myself.
I am work in progress.
I hope you can show compassion towards yourselves and not hate on your body or that of others.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Dining room rules

So after the diet coke fiasco I'm back on board.
Inpatient had rules, lots of rules.  Diet coke was not allowed. Neither were any fizzy drinks, sweeteners, skinny versions of hot chocolate, sweets, mints, I think you get the general idea now.
Other rules were classed as 'non-negotables.' No point entering into a discussion about them as you would not be onto a winner.

Dining Room Rules.
Everyone sits down to eat at the same time and have  an agreed start time when staff are seated.  This always didn't work out to plan.
One morning I overslept, was woken by a nurse and staggered to the dining room still with creases on my face.  Luckily I was allowed to eat in a quiet room with support so I didn't disturb others.
Often we were short of staff or they were supporting others who were trying to negotiate the non-negotables.  No point trying, you're not going to win.

We had 35 minutes in which to finish our meal or 20 minutes for snack.
No tissues or napkins were allowed at the table.  Meals had to be eaten with a knife and fork, no cutting food up into very small pieces and only 2 sachets of condiments allowed.
Teaspoons could be used if your pudding came in a pot, otherwise it was a tablespoon for cereal.
We were not allowed to leave the table until either the time was up or everyone had finished.  Very rarely did that happen.
The dining room itself was OK, although a little tight on space when everyone was trying to measure out milk and cereal. Yes, you heard that correctly.....cereal was weighed and milk was measured.
No risk of trying to bend the rules as staff had eyes like hawks, and why would we?  We were all there for the same reason.  To weight restore and get better.  Saying that, there were a few incidents of watered down milk and tampered with cereal!!
We had set places to sit which were changed every week.  Dependant on your support needs you would have a member of staff sat close by to help if you were in distress.  The peer support at mealtimes was amazing and often we supported each other when staff were busy or unaware. Unfortunately many of us kept our distress to ourselves and died slowly and quietly inside.

Dining Room picture courtesy of a wonderful Woman with a wicked sense of humour

Mealtimes as you can imagine was a very anxious and distressing time for all of us.
Re feeding can bring up lots of emotions and for some triggering memories.  I had many of these in the dining room due to memories from certain foods, smells or music.  I dealt with this in not so positive ways so my hands had to be kept above the table whilst I squeezed the life out of a squidgy ball.
As much as I tried to burst the damn ball over a period of 2 months it didn't happen. I was well impressed when a patient told me after my discharge that he had eventually killed it. Good one Sam.
My place at the table had many things that reminded me of why I was there and why I needed to get better. My photo collection grew so large that I practically had built a wall around my placemat.
It looked a little childish but it gave me some focus other than what I was eating....distraction, distraction.

I'm happy to have my cereal teaspoon back, has to be the one with the rounded handle, and my white plate and bowl.  We were allowed to have our own mugs......This is mine.

I mustn't forget the door!!  The dining room door slammed if you didn't close it gently. This as you can imagine be distressing especially if someone is in a constant state of hyper alertness.  The 'please close quietly..I slam' notice got bigger and bigger (courtesy of A) and was still ignored.  The words  'for fucks sake' or 'DOOR' were regularly heard.
I'm sure before I left they had got around to getting it fixed.  Anyone reading who can let me know, please do. :}

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

And so my journey begins.

Distraction, distraction, distraction.  
I'm really struggling with the weight gain at the moment.  What is only a few pounds to me feels like a thousand times that.
I have been laid on the sofa, wrapped in a fluffy blanket. My security blanket.  Post evening meal is always the hardest.  I suggest a nice walk or cycle ride, hubby suggests a bath. Seriously, me going anywhere near the bathroom at this present moment is a recipe for disaster.
In hospital we had to sit with the feeling.  Open posture, one foot on the floor, no security blankets, no fidgeting...breathing was allowed.
I haven't spoken much about the inpatient eating disorders unit on here, so maybe now is the time.
I had a planned admission in July of last year.  Steps unit in Bristol was out of my catchment area but the Exeter Unit had no places until October at the earliest, so Steps it was.
The unit is on the grounds of Southmead Hospital, tucked right away from the main hospital campus.
It was quite easy to find, unless of course you were an Amazon delivery driver. 
I had visited the unit whilst I was at Rydon so it wasn't too much of a shock and I knew what I could not bring.  I had also spoken to staff beforehand and agreed on my preferred meal plan and  possible length of stay.
Some patients only stayed for 4 weeks to get themselves back on track, I opted to give recovery and weight restoration a good go.
I asked Kev to drop me at the door and not wait with me.  Our goodbye at Rydon was traumatic enough, I needed to do this one on my own and I was very very scared.

The unit was aesthetically OK.  I had my own room but no toilet  ( for obvious reasons)
The walls were lilac and this time I had the privilege of coat hangers.  As I was determined to complete the programme, I made my room as pleasant and liveable as possible. Fairy lights on the window, snugly blanket, bright sheets and duvet. 


        The programme is very full on and supports you to challenge thoughts, behaviours and unhelpful thinking styles which after many years are very ingrained.
On that note I am going to pick up on this another day.
I've just realised that the three cans of coke I have drank was not diet, but full fat.  As well as bouncing off the walls like Tigger on speed I am very angry with myself so need to 'sit' with the feelings and unhelpful thoughts. 
I will return......                                      


Monday, 28 May 2018

Friends with benefits.

I bet the title made you look.
Don't worry, I'm not talking about those sort of benefits.
Over the past 8 years I have friended or followed dozens of people within the eating disorders community.  The forums and groups were a safe place to go, not judging, always there and often gave helpful advice and reassurance. (Although I am writing this after being shot down for saying something on a group)

There was always a downside.  Depending on how entrenched I was in my eating disorder I would follow people for the wrong reasons.
I would look at photos of very thin girls, 'thinsperation' as it is known in the pro-Ana community.
I have never been pro-Ana but the pull towards those people was always strong.

Over the years I have learnt that these relationships are not always healthy.  I have always been open to others, made myself available online to those who need to talk but sometimes that needs to stop.
I often go through Facebook and have a friend cull. There's never any malice involved but If I find someones behaviours or attitude too triggering or negative I need to say goodbye.
If there is little benefit to the relationship then they need to go.  I'm sure at times people have done that to me and that's OK.  Its about what is right for you and what is beneficial.
I know I could just stop following but there is always the risk of taking a little peek. A risk I cannot take.

I now have a select number of friends from the ed community on social media, these are my friends with benefits.  Friends from all over the world, people I trust and many I am honoured to have met.
Let me tell you about a few of them...........

Jenn Friedman.
A lovely woman from Brooklyn, New York who I stumbled across in 2010 on an eating disorders recovery forum. She is an amazing writer, singer songwriter and pianist. 
Jenn was part of a blogging group which fuelled my passion for writing.  She and several others took part in a recovery blogging challenge where we were given daily prompts, and shared online.
It was amazing to hear others voices and totally changed my views on a possible recovery.
Her recent album and book she published are pride of place on my bookshelf.  She has the voice of an angel.
I was lucky to meet Jenn in 2016 on her first visit to the UK.  She was everything and more than I expected.  I took her to Glastonbury for the day and we laughed and laughed. I love her accent, the way she says bathroom, how she felt comfortable enough to rest her head on my shoulder on the long bus journey home.  I laughed at her misunderstanding when I said 'Mary Quant.' She is a joy to be around.  I'm sorry she left her cake in the shop but happy that I taught her how to swear in a northern accent.
Jen is now studying in London and we plan to meet next month in Bath.  I cant wait.

I have been chatting to Kathryn online since 2016.  We were both struggling with our eating disorder and at different stages of contemplation.  We were a good support for each other.
I smile when I think of the late night chats, the drunken facetimes and the deep conversations one Christmas day. I was honest with Kathryn and I think she respected that.  I even got away with calling her a knob.
I love the fact that Kathryn savours ever moment with her family, school holidays are full of good memories, she is a strong passionate woman who would do anything for her family.  I value Kathryn's input but she has yet to tell me why shes goes with the nickname of Bruce!
A few weeks ago I took the plunge and travelled to Liverpool to meet her.  A bit strange you may think. Meet a random person and stay at her house.  Isn't that something that my Mother warned me about?
Thankfully she wasn't an axe wielding murderer, just a very friendly, cocktail loving Scouser with a lovely family.
She was an amazing host and I was made to feel at ease as soon as I got to Liverpool.
We had so much in common, even down to her getting ready to go out playlist. I spent a great day with the children and an even better night out hitting the bright lights of Liverpool with K and her Hubby.
We laughed about the 'urban legend' who was a real person, Purple Ackey the bogeyman of Merseyside.  We sang along to the Greatest Showman and I was in awe of her banter with the taxi driver.............
Entertainment and alcohol aside, we clicked.  We had experienced similar things growing up and dealt with it in not so positive ways.  I was amazed at how relaxed I felt especially around food.  They were very accommodating and thoughtful. Her daughter even gave up her room for me, although I did end up with several soft toys and a little girl on the bed in the morning.
Thank you Kathryn and Dave for accepting me into your home.  You are a diamond.

Online friends can be beneficial.... but choose your friends wisely.  

Sunday, 27 May 2018

it is what it is.

You look well?
 What the fuck does that mean?  Can you see inside my head? 
Society today is so hung up on personal appearance.  Photos are filtered, we can choose what to show to the rest of the world.
Social media shows what we want people to see, our perfect worlds, perfect friends, perfect lives.
Nobody really knows what is going on in others lives, its all a big fantasy. 

I live in a bubble, a bubble that my nurse once said she would pop.  My bubble keeps me safe, protects me from others and my own thoughts.
My illness is not all about weight.  If I was to gain 3 stone tomorrow would I be cured. Probably not.

Its not about wanting to stay ill, it's about knowing my limitations and how hard to push myself.
Hospital was a safe environment, one where I could weight restore and not have to deal with the aftermath of feelings on my own.  In the community is not so easy.

My therapist is working on compassion. Supporting me through trauma and all the feelings that sit alongside it.  Its tough.  We don't talk about food, how I'm managing my meal plan or how to move forward with weight gain.  I struggle with this but I am keeping myself safe.  My blood work is on the normal scale, I know what foods to eat to make sure I am getting the right nutrients.  My dietitian is happy.

Food restriction keeps me in control of my emotions, eating sends me into turmoil.
I often overeat and seek permission from my Husband that its OK to do so and I'm not greedy.  He tells me if I'm hungry to eat, this is normal behaviour and I need it. Rice Krispies are currently my go to food.
I have been open about my urges to purge or exercise and have admitted to times when the urges have been so strong I have lost control.
I am pulled in all directions and the slightest thing can send me into over thinking and fight or flight mode.
I need to talk about this as soon as it happens but does that make me needy?  Do I need to validate every single thought.
I hate my brain at the moment but this is all part of my recovery.  I hate how I'm feeling, that I'm not in control of my emotions, that I can break down at the slightest thing and want to run away from it all.
I have the crisis team number and I have come close at times to calling them.....I haven't needed to as I have managed to ride it through.  Not easy in a public place.
Thank you to those who told me last night that they liked my top.

My illness is not all about weight.....It is what it is.


Friday, 25 May 2018

To absent friends.

9 years ago tomorrow I lost my best friend.  In real terms I lost her the year before when our friendship broke down. I have deep regret that we never patched things up before she died but that was a choice I made, and one I have to live with.
I first met X when our children were at Nursery school together.
Our friendship started as a walk to the school, the occasional coffee and developed into something a lot stronger and at the end a very damaging toxic relationship.
We spent a lot of time together and for the majority of the time, things were good.
Our partners got on and we looked forward to Friday nights out, Carnival nights, fireworks, Birthdays and Boxing day celebrations.  We had fun, lots of it.
We shared stories of our pasts, both of us had skeletons and things we would rather forget.  At first it made our relationship stronger but by the end it just gave her further ammunition to hurt me.
I wasn't allowed to have any other friends and she would certainly let me know about it if I dared to speak to anyone whilst we were out.  She would blank me for weeks at a time and in hindsight I think her insecurities were ingrained from an early age.
I tried so hard to please her, to make her feel special but I ignored the warning signs.
I was scared of her.  Scared of her threats but also scared of being alone.
I pulled out all the stops for her 40th Birthday.  We went shopping, lunch out and I arranged a party inviting her family and found an old school friend who was a stripper as entertainment.  It was a joy to see her so happy.
On that day X told me what I was allowed and not allowed to wear at her celebration.

Her health started to deteriorate and she was diagnosed with a heart problem.
I sat in the recovery room with her partner after her operation. Took her in her favourite food and stayed with her for hours at a time.
After her recovery she started to turn her life around, adjusting her diet and stopping smoking.
I was proud of her.
At was at this time that Kev and I were planning our wedding. Best friends should be sharing in the joy and the planning but this wasn't to be.
I can only guess that she was either jealous or upset that we were marrying abroad and couldn't be part of it, despite my attempts to involve her.

In the April of that year was when things went drastically wrong.  It would be unfair of me to go through the details of the catalyst but what evolved was 12 months of abuse, lies, fear and the end of our friendship.
I was scared to go out.  She would come to the Pub I worked on an evening and tell customers lies about me, threaten to beat me up and even came to my house where I just sat and took her abuse.
My Hen Night and Wedding party was tainted with the underlying fear of her turning up and making a show.  Thankfully this didn't happen.

I was sceptical at first of my new evolving friendships as this toxic relationship was all I knew.
How could I trust others? What were their intentions?
I still struggle with this at times and have a great fear of what others may think of me. Certain songs trigger good and bad memories......

My friend continued to struggle with her health and after another heart operation sadly passed away on May 26th 2009.
She had tried to contact me prior to this and had left a message on my phone asking to meet somewhere neutral.  Her partner explained that she wanted to see me as she remembered how I had supported her the previous time.
I chose to ignore her call.  I regret this and wonder what would have changed if I had spoken to her.
I knew I did not want to rekindle the friendship as too much had been said.  There are certain things that can't be unsaid.
I heard about her death on social media, It hit me hard.  I was there for her family, helped with the arrangements as if nothing had changed.
I visited the chapel of rest to say goodbye. Went to her funeral, and drank fizzy wine with a friend to say goodbye to the end of a chapter and toast new beginnings.

I do not believe she was a bad person.  She had been dealt a very tough hand growing up and didn't know how to cope with it. She didn't deserve judgement she deserved help and understanding.
I wish I had given her more of that.

R.I.P you mixed up wonderful Woman. xxx

Monday, 21 May 2018


I have 429 friends on Facebook.

61 were work colleagues
40 I have known for over 20 years.
32 I have never met face to face.
28 don't live in the UK.
26 I went to school with.
17 are friends of friends.
18 I know through groups and forums.
13 are relatives.
12 were in hospital with me.
10 are old friends of Kevs
6 are ambassadors for Body Gossip.
5 I went to church with.
4 I met on holiday.
4 have passed away.
4 have been or are neighbours.
3 I have met at a support group.
2 were in Guides.
2 completed the D of E with me.
2 I speak to on a daily basis.
1 was my first kiss.

So why do I feel so alone?
I know my illness has affected a lot of my relationships, particularly the one with myself.
It has affected the way I feel, how I interact with others, how they interact with me.
Sometimes I feel so needy. I overthink everything. I'm unsure of what is safe to say so as not to hurt others.
My emotions can go up and down on an hourly basis, particularly with my therapy.
I am an unknown quantity. Sometimes the life and soul ,other times I don't want to interact and shut myself off.
I keep a diary of how I am feeling, what triggers certain thoughts and how I react to them.
It is hard.
I have amazing friends who I appreciate and love, so why do I feel I have nothing to offer?
Lack of daily social contact at work has shot my confidence down.
I find it difficult to socialise in large groups, I can talk over people as I struggle to know when its OK to interject.
I can get paranoid, anxious, talk too much .  Certain Music and situations can trigger flashbacks and take me right back to a place where I was scared and vulnerable.  I am working on this.

I am not lonely, I have a loving family and friends who I know support me.
 I am just alone in my head.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

I am sorry

I am sorry.....

My heart feels like a knife has been driven through it.
Therapy brought up feelings of sadness, shame, disgust, embarrassment.
At the moment I don't want to feel. Feeling hurts.
It was like being back there, in that moment.  I tried so hard not to cry, not to show my weakness.
There were so many things I wanted to say and so many reasons why I couldn't.
Today I learnt of a friend of a friend who has died.  She was young, she was beautiful, she needed help.
I feel for her family and those she left behind.
I feel for those I love, those who find it hard to cope being around me because I upset them too much.
I feel for the child that I nurtured, who I care for deeply who is hurting. 
I have caused that pain and it only adds to mine.
What you are feeling, I am feeling too.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 The past year.


As the darkness descends, the noises begin
 Footsteps, the wails and the keys jangling.
 Mind numbing pills that alter your mood
Bad dreams and flashbacks, they still intrude.

Mountainous fences to hold madness in,
Pacing of corridors just to keep thin,
Queues at the hatch to get daily meds
Bells and alarms invading your head.

This is no hotel or holiday camp
The pillows aren't plumped but tear stained damp
There is no pass key to access the door
This is your safe place, until we say go.

As it is Mental Health Awareness week I thought it time I posted an update.

My therapy sessions are going well and yes ,Dom is still wearing the purple jumper on a Wednesday.  We have been working on compassion focused therapy which in a nutshell is showing compassion and kindness to yourself and challenging the negative and unwelcome thoughts. This is not something which comes easy to me and involves a lot of homework and self discovery.

So I want to look back on the past year and recognise the achievements I have made rather than focusing on what I haven't done.  Some of you may have kept up to date with my facebook posts but for those of you who haven't, this is my past year.
  Trigger warning............please do not read further if you may be affected by suicidal ideation or self harm.

May 15th I was in my psychiatrists office with my eating disorders nurse for what I thought was a normal appointment brought forward a few weeks. The previous month I had been in a very bad place despite  a glorious holiday and Birthday celebrations.
My disassociation had got worse; I would often find myself in places and not aware of how I got there.
I was not managing my depression or my food intake, was having scary memories and flashbacks and thoughts of suicide came thick and fast.  The rapid change from being ok, to feeling sad or numb was my norm
There is a difference between thinking of taking your own life and planning it.  My thoughts came at different times.  I could get up happy and quickly descend into darkness. When I was starting to get my affairs into order was the day everything changed....
My psychiatrist had arranged a bed for me at a local acute mental health hospital but wouldn't be available until later that day or the next day.
 It was time for the control to be taken away from me.  The threat of a section was hanging over me If I refused to be admitted.  My illness was consuming me and I still fought to hang onto it.

I was luckier than most. At least my admission was slightly preplanned so I had time to get some personal effects packed, some which were taken away from be on admission as they were deemed a risk to myself.

We travelled to Taunton in silence, it was very daunting and I was terrified.
When we arrived at the ward a nurse introduced herself and took away my bags to be checked.She then offered to show us around the ward.  By this point I was already breaking down so we went straight to my room.  It was basic and sparse,  all ligature points had been removed meaning there were no taps just sensors, no headboard, no toilet seat, all furniture was foam and plastic, it was a 'safe place.' 
Kev said it was the worse day ever leaving me there.  I am so sorry for all the pain I put him and my family and friends through and will always be thankful for their support.

I was lucky to receive many visitors during my stay.  I had mixed reviews on whether they thought it was the right place for me.  I too had similar thoughts.  I didn't feel I fitted in and certainly didn't feel ill enough or deserving of the staff support.  In hindsight I now believe it was the right place.  It served a purpose, helped me to adjust to my medication and kept me safe.

I won't go into great detail about my admission but there are many things that stood out.
I began to recognise staff my their footsteps in the corridor.  I would cry at the noises at night, conflict between patients, the sounds of keys and the girl opposite banging her head on the wall.

I kept myself to myself at first, waiting until everyone had finished before I went into the dining room or sitting on my bed with the door locked. The thought of having to eat with strangers or being watched was paralysing.
 The patients came and went,many came back.  I was thankful to meet a few ladies who I was on a level with and we spent many evenings chatting and watching TV in the female lounge.  I am happy to say that they are both doing well and we meet weekly for coffee.

Most of the staff were caring and supportive although we did have a staff nurse who I named Nurse Ratchett.  If you have ever seen one flew over the cuckoos nest you will understand.
The ward was not set up for patients with eating disorders and often my support was inconsistent with my care plan, and recommendations from my Nurse and Dietitian were not followed.  Nurses said they did not have the skills to help me and I will admit to using this to my advantage at times.
I had a real insight into how people I support may feel.  Especially when your movements are restricted.

Because of my low BMI my activity was restricted.  I tried using the activities room but often it was closed due to staff shortages so we were left to occupy ourselves.  The day I was allowed to use my headphones was definitely a highlight.
At first I was allowed out for a walk with the staff or my visitors but this was soon restricted as I was  deemed to be burning too many calories. My Psychiatrist thought I was cycling!  I was actually going out on the back of Kevs motorbike.  The thought of Kev cycling from Burnham to Taunton would be a site to behold.
One Nurse was always happy to take me out for my 15 minutes 'exercise' so she could have a crafty cigarette, others were not so keen.  It makes me smile when I think of the staff member who said she didn't like walking so was not keen on taking me out.  I soon got her lost and exceeded my exercise time.

We had weekly ward rounds which consisted of myself, a nurse, Dr and the psychiatrist discussing my progress, future plans and home leave.
For the first few weeks I was not allowed leave but this didn't stop me asking Kev to take me home one day with a promise I would return.
The feeling of being in normal surroundings, my sofa, using my toilet and own bath made me appreciate all I have.  It was difficult to return to a place where I was not allowed to be free.
The future plan was to wait for a bed at an eating disorders unit in Bristol.  Unfortunately beds are not readily available so after my discharge from Rydon I waited another 5 weeks to move to the specialist unit.  I will save that for another post.

Back to friends.  I am thankful for all the cards, letters, gifts, visits, messages and videos that got me through.  In such a dark place they brought light to my day.
There has always been a stigma around Mental Health units and I want to stress to anyone reading this, do not feel ashamed or judged.  No-one bats an eyelid if you are inpatient for a broken limb, a broken mind is no different.
My story continues.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Must do better.

The past week has been exhausting. I tried to put the anger I felt after I was dismissed from my job into something positive.  I emailed the company suggesting they revised the way they support staff with a mental health problem, and received the bog standard ' we take all our employees health and well being seriously' email back.
I have been trying to focus on the positives after going through a week of emotions and separating them from the facts. Although I may not agree with their decision, I understand why they made it.
Today I received another blow. 
My care coordinator/eating disorder nurse who has been working with me since late 2016 has made the decision to transfer my care to Dom my therapist. This is not all bad as we have a good therapist/patient relationship but unfortunately the sessions are time limited.
My nurses reasoning for the change, is that I am not managing weight restoration and have only maintained for the past few weeks.
After my discharge from Hospital (that's for another blog post) I agreed to reach a certain BMI, this was unsuccessful so the goal was decreased and then we compromised on a  maintenance weight.
Although I am engaging in weekly therapy, I know if my weight drops, cognitively I will not be able engage properly as starvation has a detrimental effect on the brain and your way of thinking. 
I would be lying if I said I didn't know this was coming.
NHS waiting lists for eating disorder outpatient treatment are long and although the ed team in Somerset has increased over the past 8 years they still struggle.
So where does that leave me now?  
I feel sadness at the loss of my support; failure that I was unable to stick to my meal plan; guilt that I have let my friends and family down; not good enough, rejected and alone.
Above all I feel scared. Very scared. 
I understand the reasoning behind the decision, (must try harder) and am trying to use wise mind as opposed to emotional mind.
Someone on a facebook group said to me, 'Please don't take it personally or use it as a reason to mistreat yourself.'  She is very right. I did not use my 'go to' behaviours instead I used compassion and kindness towards myself, something I struggle with daily.
Tomorrow is another day, another small step, another learning curve.
If all I can do at the moment is keep myself safe then that is enough. 
Must do better.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Labels are for Jars, not people.

My name is Jackie and I am a person........

Around 16 months ago, after an assessment with my Psychiatrist, I was sat in her consulting room waiting on the results of her diagnosis. At this time you could say I was, not quite myself. 
As she sat at her computer scrolling through the many notes the team had made, the first words she said were, 'now try not to get too hung up on the wording of this.'  Well that was it, I was already into over thinking mode as to what variety of labelling she was going to put on my already fragile shell.
Where am I going to fit in?  How am I going to fit in, I already felt like a misfit, a square peg in a round hole.

'You have Anorexia, recurrent severe depressive disorder, complex trauma ptsd, anxiety and emotionally unstable personality disorder aka borderline personality disorder or bpd.'
Nice suit I thought, my trick cyclist was a snappy dresser.

OK, you can give me 4 of those but bpd.... take it back.  Put it in the reject bin.
My issue with this diagnosis was a person in my past had bpd, and there was no way I was anything like her.  I googled it (don't we all) going through the diagnostic criteria crossing off everything that didn't apply.  I was not going to be like her.
Recently I was doing some work on emotional regulation and my nurse explained it can help with aspects of bpd.  Again I would not accept that this was part of me, how could it?

After working with a psychologist (who doesn't do labels) I have started to use positive coping techniques to help when I feel overwhelmed, in threat mode or feel the need to use negative coping behaviours.  I can now challenge negative thoughts about myself and it helps with over thinking.  I'm no where near being fixed but I am making small steps to recovery...medication helps too.

The point of this post is that I am starting to accept that yes maybe I do have traits of a personality disorder, it does not mean that I am that person I knew before. Some people are just dickheads, and she was a dickhead. 
Having a diagnostic label does not define me.  Sometimes labels come off and you might get dog food when you are expecting peas.
I am a person, an individual.  I am not my anorexia, my depression or my (ahem) personality disorder.
Dom,  (lovely psychologist Man who always wears a grey and purple jumper on a Wednesday) showed me a chart of my weights from 2010 until present day.
He asked me to look at my highest weight and think about who was  Jackie then?
Good shout Dom.  That Jackie was confident and funny, she needs to be found again.
Maybe I've been labelled as tinned prunes when really there's a sweet pud inside.

My name is Jackie and I live with  anorexia, depression, anxiety, ptsd and bpd.  I am a person not my illness.

Friday, 2 March 2018

I'm back!!

I can't believe Its been nearly 18 months since my last entry.  Apologies to my followers and hope there are still some readers out there.
My lack of posts is due to lots going on with my mental health (surprise surprise) and a liveware issue of foggy brain forgetting my log in details! I think today's porridge must have given my brain a well needed kick start.
So what's been going on?
2017 started with... actually I have no idea how it started.  I can only presume it was with a glass in my hand and the intention to change my life for the better.
I had been absent from work since the previous June and decided to drop down to a less stressful role.  This initially worked out well as was only a 5 minute walk to work and my phased return initially meant I could work around my meals and my numerous medical appointments.
For someone who does not do mornings well, it was bliss to roll out of bed and have work practically on my doorstep. Unfortunately things did not work out as planned but I shall come to that later.
March was my big 50th which I spent on a beach in the stunning Dominican Republic. Massive shout out to the Hubster and Deb and Glyn for arranging what was without a doubt the best holiday I have had and will never forget.  It was the most relaxed I had been in ages and I even managed a practically all-nighter at a very interesting club/cabaret called the Coco Bongo.
There's life in the old dog yet, although I wont go into detail about the podium dance. 

My birthday didn't stop there either. The day we flew back I was due to go out for a drink with friends. My Son texted to say he couldn't come over and other friends said they were busy. 
I couldn't understand why Kev was pushing me to go out especially when we were both knackered and I would have settled for a coronation street omnibus, some haribo and the cat! 
Little did I know what my friends had in store, but a suprise get together along with a very good friend who had made an amzing cake and driven from Evesham.
March was a good month, things were looking up......It didn't take long for the downwards spiral.

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...