Anyone else struggle to do the best thing for themselves? I know I do. I can say yes too easily, put others first, or allow my negative brain space to convince myself that I don’t deserve to do nice things for myself.
Of course, sometimes I will enjoy an evening of things I find relaxing, but arguably not always at the moments I truly need it. So this month I’m going to commit myself to doing face masks, painting my nails, journaling, reading…. anything that I feel will boost me.
I think my ambitious nature makes me set goals without considering looking after my feelings as a goal; it definitely needs to be.
I’ve realised lately that sometimes I’d rather not try, than fail. Making an excuse is easier than opening myself up to one of my big fears: failure, letting myself down, not being good enough.
An example of this is therapy. I’ve been told many times before that it’s important to try and negate what my eating disorder tells me, and to develop healthy responses. However, my feeling has always been
I can’t do the healthy thing, so I will be no good at this. What’s the point trying?
The point of trying (I learned today in my therapy session), is that it happens in steps. First of all, I need to create the brain space and give some time of day to those healthy, alternative thoughts. If I could act on them 24/7 then I wouldn’t have an eating disorder! (This was a light bulb moment 😂).
I need to get good at not being good at things. I need to be able to try, and feel ok when I can’t be perfect. Thinking about it, my eating disorder is what wants me to remain fearful of failing. That’s another way it can keep me stuck.
I hope the process of therapyI’ve just started with help me unstick ❤️
I can count my positive experiences with therapists on one hand (for anonymity I will use initials!): N, S, D and group therapy psychologists whose name escapes me… 🤔
The therapy I have received over the years hasn’t all been focused on my eating disorder. My OCD therapy was by far the most effective, though I also had a great course of group therapy for eating disorders, but sadly it only lasted 12 weeks. It simply wasn’t enough.
After a short wait I met a new therapist today. Strangely I feel a little emotional despite feeling I clicked with her! The word therapy can make me feel that I ought to feel good afterwards, but talking about difficult things is aimed at a long term solution, not short term happiness. Considering I am quite all or nothing in my thinking, this is probably another way for my eating disorder to make me feel like I’m inadequate: not good enough at being ill/ can’t even do therapy right.
We discussed that giving up an eating disorder isn’t an overnight situation, and that first of all we will need to build up my healthy self and get better at emotion regulation. I totally see the benefit of that, and I wish strength on myself to commit to it fully.
I am somebody who likes to feel prepared, always trying to get ahead of myself. The problem is, it can actually cause more harm than good if it becomes out of control.
How far ahead does one plan? And which things are important to prepare for?
Perfect example: yesterday I began to feel stressed about money, as I’ve had a shift taken off me for next week. I don’t know yet if I will get a different day in replacement when future rotas are done. I’m not working much, but doing some to have the money for my therapy, and so the spiral begins…
How much will I get? What if I only ever get 2 shifts not 3 a week? How can I pay for x,y,z? I should look for another job. But where? Blah blah blah.
I can’t plan finances based on unfixed circumstances, just like I couldn’t buy enough toothpaste to last me the rest of my life, or plan exactly how many bus trips I will take in the next year. It’s all just a guess, and the guesses won’t reflect reality so what’s the point in jumping to conclusions.
Ah, hello unhelpful thinking style #CBT 😂 but seriously, my energy needs to be put into planning things I can control, and use the remaining energy to handle the unexpected as they come. I’m not sure it’s possible to stop the thoughts coming to my mind, but the spiral of thoughts aren’t necessary.
I suppose we will see what happens next time something comes along that makes me want to get carried away in mind…
I am a planner. I love to be organised, to set personal targets, and to schedule lots of things into my life. However, I’ve felt confused of late about how there are some things I never seem to cross of the to do list.
In search of answer, I did some research into how habits are formed, and how goals are more easily attained. A key point I found was the need for a reminder to do the new behaviour/start the task you put off every time. For example, to begin meditating daily you could do it after showering or brushing your teeth. It’s also true that some things will become habitual more quickly than others, and that isn’t down to personal failure!
This all led me to reading about goal setting, as I’ve decided to film my choreography and try to create a good amount of it (to build my confidence and to give myself a goal outside of “get x job”). I always knew that small and achievable targets are the way to go, but perhaps I was too vague. Instead, I need a deadline, a length and a brainstorm.
As somebody who hates to fail, maybe I set myself up to avoid failing. If I don’t set a deadline, it isn’t failure if I don’t do something, right? Well not this week!
Here I am, saying I have two very achievable goals for this week.
1. Keep up my streak of meditating everyday (using the free app “insight timer”) Do this either after dinner or when I wake up
2. Film a rough version of my ideas for choreography to the song I’ve saved on YouTube. Do this by trying things in the space at the gym, and get a rough chunk together
Make yourself some targets! Xoxo
I attended a peer support group tonight and we had some really great conversations. We discussed what defines success, how comparison can keep us trapped in our disorders, and each shared a bit of our current situation as well. It was like all the other times I’ve been, except I felt different. The combination of people seemed to work well, and I made a connection with somebody who I clicked with. Perhaps she will become a friend and we can mutually support one another in recovery. (I hope so!)
Everyone at the group comes across as kind, intelligent, and caring, but for whatever reason, I felt that sense of “this could work” with her. We exchanged numbers, and are attending another group together this Friday which I’m really looking forward to. It feels warming to know I’ve made someone feel welcome and comfortable. And on a personal level, the potential to have a friend close by who is in this with me would be of great benefit.
The best message that came from today’s conversation was the idea that recovery from whatever struggle you have opens the door for better things to come in. Be it romance, career advances, or a new home, losing an illness is gaining space for more. ❤️
Happy Tuesday. I hope whatever you did today, it was worthwhile xox
I’ve always thought that as long as I’m restricting and having obsessive thoughts, I can’t be recovering. Time and time again, I’ve put off recovery because I don’t want to eat more, gain weight, or surrender my control. I’m coming to realise that by believing this, I’m failing to acknowledge the mental work involved, and how even doing some of the things below are ways I can take tiny steps in the right direction.
1. SELF CARE. Take that bath, paint those nails, say no to things you don’t want to do. (Surprise! This supports having respect for my own priorities and needs. Eating disorders hate that)
2. BE GRATEFUL. Think of things that are a blessing- clean water, a home, a family etc. Millions of people don’t have ANYTHING. (Surprise! Gratitude can be a light in the dark hole of eating disorder self pity)
3. EAT MORE FRUIT AND VEG! And no, progress doesn’t have to mean eating more calories right now. Surely, any positive food change deserves credit?! (Surprise! This goes against all the ED black and white thinking)
4. BE OPENLY VULNERABLE. Even admitting aloud that I’m not always sure I want recovery, and that sometimes I imagine anorexia killing me as a “success” takes courage. (Surprise! Rumour has that courage is a key ingredient in recovery)
So, there we have it. These few things are helping me to see life through some clearer lenses. I feel awful and sad and lonely sometimes, but that’s okay. I’m in a place where I’m scared of letting go, while equally scared of the consequences of holding on. In the meantime, I know I am doing something. Small steps can be just as important as big ones.