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......                                      


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...