It gets confusing…

Obviously, I want to be able to think and behave normally in regard to food and my emotions, but I can’t help but feel puzzled by my fear of letting go.
I don’t enjoy the negative aspects of my illness, but I feel like having an eating disorder is my identity. I’m with a lot of new classmates this term, and only a few of them know about my mental illness. I told a couple of them today, just because it seemed an appropriate conversation for it.
I told them proudly how eating in front I them was a massive step for me, and that I was glad I had done it. However, I can’t imagine my life without having to work hard to do normal things like that.
I want to be ill and in recovery all at once. Perhaps that’s just because that is pretty much where I am at the moment and I don’t want anything to change.

Is it just like a chat?

Speaking to a friend today, and she asked asked me if therapy was just like sitting and having a chat about stuff.
Wow… People really don’t know much about mental health treatment do they?! I suppose that therapy is about talking. But it is also about allowing silence and time for thought, and I have always found that my therapist has clear goals and exercises for each session. Any comments I make might trigger her to ask me questions, we may talk a little about something that becomes exposed inadvertently, but it is never just a bit of a chat.
My friend thought that I sat down, poured out my worries and then I got better. Therapy is much more than just having someone to listen to you, because it is based on scientific facts. Things like how the human mind works, methods that have proven effective in changing reactions to thoughts, and learning why an illness has developed and is being maintained.
My therapist has identified mental processes I have that I was unable to see myself, and I have also had sessions which have been more about talking positively than me simply moaning about all the issues I’ve had that week.
Yet again I am reminded that mental health is forgotten about. You can see a broken arm, but you can’t see a torturous mentality. They might be different forms of pain, but both deserve attention and understanding. Because my problems are in my head, it is rare that people know what is happening or offer to help, but if my arm was in a cast I’m sure there would be plenty of people willing to help me out.

Therapy homework

Thinking about it, a lot of mental illnesses have something related to fear of the unknown or being out of control. For me, control feels like an essential part of existence; a preventative behaviour to ward off bad things; a constant in a changing environment.
In therapy, this has to be challenged. A lot of recovery relies on the individual to put learned techniques into practice, but the best part is that it allows you to challenge yourself in a structured, controlled way.
Be it an exposure task, or eating a certain number of times a day, or sitting with my anxiety when I have to resist the urge to self harm, it is still in my control. I am doing it for myself AND for my therapist. Sometimes, I think we need somebody to give us new rules for living, instead of trying to throw us into a world of unfamiliar spontaneity.
Having homework from therapy is a really good thing for me. It gives me something to concentrate on and a way to monitor my own progress. It helps me to have a little bit of control over things, but in a positive way.
My therapy will be finishing quite soon. I absolutely love my therapist and I’m really going to miss it. Although it is very tough sometimes, I am so lucky to have a therapist who knows just when to push me, and when I need to be supported and consoled when it is all too much. This is the longest I have ever had one therapist, and it has become an important part of my life for me. I am very worried about how I will feel when that is gone. I don’t have the faith in myself to continue recovery on my own.

What is therapy anyway?

I had therapy today and had some thought provoking, and emotionally challenging discussions. I have seen quite a few different people over the years: a youth counsellor, a support worker, an eating disorders nurse, a low intensity therapist, and now this high intensity therapist ( who is a clinical psychologist.)
My experiences with them have all been very different, and few of them have actually helped me to change my attitudes and behaviours. I guess the problem is that mental illness is totally different to medical ailments; instead of medication, rest or diagnostic tests, mental illness requires time to heal.
The whole world is always racing against time and money, and so I’ve no doubt that there are millions of people who, like me, have been through several short interventions, only to find that nothing changed.
For me, the hardest part of therapy is being honest. In that hour a week, I have to answer questions that spark deeply emotional reactions that are supported by negative beliefs I’ve had since childhood. There are many things about my illness- such as weight, self harm, and feelings of fear that are almost impossible for me to be talk about. My body tenses and my words become short. It’s like there is no explanation strong enough to describe what I feel. Obviously, it is vital that I’m able to overcome that difficulty in order to question my views and take a healthier approach, but it just made me think about the whole concept of therapy. I mean it is basically an optional hour of stress in a way!
I know that left to my own devices I would not be able to make positive progress, yet it is easy to feel stupid for not seeing why my views are warped without needing someone to show me. I know it isn’t normal to do the things I do, so why is it so hard to do anything about it on my own?
I don’t really know. All that I do know, is that therapy is incredibly useful. My therapist is kind and open for a laugh at times too. She is clearly very knowledgeable about the human mind and the effect it can have on our behaviour and self worth, and I am being exposed to many new techniques to change my current outlook on life. I’m grateful for her, but I’m also aware that it isn’t too long until the end of our sessions. Scary times.

I never thought I could…

I was reading a post on Loveletterstobee and was inspired to write about some good things; the things I have surprised myself by doing or things i didn’t see coming, rather than the mistakes I normally punish myself for.

I never thought I would:

Take antidepressants

Have such close friendships, despite physical distance

Make a snowman at midnight in my pyjamas

Achieve straight a’s at school

Travel alone and like it!

Have the courage to talk to people when I’m really struggling

Like fish

Eat at college without having a panic attack

Love a dog as much as I love mine 🙂

Enjoy writing

Go to a museum out of choice

It’s never straightforward

I am desperately clinging to my disorder. All the time that I am making small changes , as guided by my therapist, I am being more and more controlling. If I succeed in a therapy task I usually end up doing something very eating disordered to “balance it out”.
I am so fed up of being in such a fragile mindset, yet I’m struggling to accept that allowing myself to place my values away from food and appearance would be better for me. Obviously, I know that I can’t win with my eating disorder, but it somehow convinces me to keep going in case everything becomes an uncontrollable mess without it.

I love my eating disorder. It makes me safe.

I also loathe my eating disorder. That little person in my head is a bitch. She derives pleasure from making me punish myself. I’m not allowed to do anything positive, or accept any compliments. My eating disorder is every worry, fear and insult I have ever received. My eating disorder is a way of masking real feelings; and those feelings won’t ever be fixed by ignoring them.

It’s like I am waiting for my ed to give me permission to recover, and like the perfect weight or perfect, that day will never come. Is my voice stronger than the compulsion to give in to the obsessions?

I’m not sure.

Progress means being scared first

In therapy today I was asked whether I thought her idea for my homework was good. In theory it sounded excellent; realistically speaking it sounded scary.
I have come to the conclusion that in order to overcome mental illness you have to be put in situations that are scary, and then get through them without relying on your illness. Tough stuff.
I want to rise to the occasion and face it head on, but the challenge was allowing her to weigh me. I’m not sure if I can do it. I’m genuinely concerned that I might attempt to kill myself if I don’t feel content with the number.
I can’t actually describe how utterly terrifying this will be, but my appointment is on Monday so I will soon be right in the middle of fear and anxiety.
My biggest worries about it all are around what the scales say, and what she says. What if she thinks my weight doesn’t justify my eating disorder? What if she thinks I am exaggerating everything? What will I do to myself afterwards? What if I can’t handle my emotions and she sees me having a panic attack?