My purpose.

I’m currently reading the Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) big book and workbook. I’ve done my step 1 work, and have started on step 2, in which I need to find a purpose or power bigger than myself to keep my focus and give me strength. For some this might be God, but I’m not religious. There are several suggestions and explanations, though nothing has struck me as the one just yet!

Fate and the idea of the universe rewarding hard work are some ideas I’ve thought of. My purpose needs to be more than to be a performer (I think), as it needs to be something to remind me that I’m a tiny part of the world when I’m sucked into spiralling thoughts, and to motivate me to be my best.

It’s not recommended to use being a good daughter/Mum/girlfriend etc, so I need to do some thinking about myself. What makes me feel truly connected to the world? What can be stronger than my fears day in, day out?

🤔 *any experience with this is welcome!*

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Family fights

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all argued with a family member at some point. It’s inevitable when you are with them so much. I hate confrontation. I don’t know how to get rid of anger in a way that’s healthy, so I normally end up internalising all my feelings and taking it out on myself. I was doing this, in my usual fashion, after a conversation came up that upset me the other night. I don’t drink, but this person does (and had been that evening) I felt really shitty and cried all evening, but not knowing how to even begin a conversation about it with them afterwards, I just got more and more on edge. 

Fast forward 24 hours and the same conversation topic was brought up. I commented back that the whole discussion was making me want to kill myself a bit so if we could stop that would be ideal. (Blunt I know, but honest!)

Well, it kicked off. Shouting, crying, walking out. All of it. And then it was just me and them on our own and I was being told things about my family which I just didn’t want to hear. How somebody else almost killed themselves, how one parent prefers a separate living space, how caring for somebody with mental illness has ruined X number of years… 

I can’t fucking cope. I know that on the outside I come from a middle class family who loves me & wants to help me, but really nothing is perfect. My parents relationship isn’t exactly going swimmingly, and the stuff I was told the other night is haunting me. I’m not good at forgiveness when somebody has really hurt me. And this hit all the nerves. How do you move on? 

It may be selfish, but seeing the flaws of my family is so triggering to my ED and I just wish I didn’t know anything sometimes. In some ways my knowledge of things that happened when I was growing up have made my relationship with my Mum really special. Lots of people don’t have the closeness we do. But equally, knowing a lot of the imperfections and difficulties in my family makes my house very triggering sometimes, and I wonder how different things might have been if I was less surrounded by certain issues in my household. Who knows! 

If anyone has any experience or thoughts about trying to rekindle my relationship after all this drama with that one person, comment below 💕 

What I know about myself. 

My mental illnesses take up a lot of brain space, and that can make it hard to figure out my identity & what kind of person I am without all of those struggles.

1. Close friendships are very important to me. I’m not interested in meeting heaps of new people, or socialising in large groups. But if I’m your friend I could discuss life with you for hours! Those one on one relationships are of great value to me, and I try to be thoughtful and loyal to the small group of people who matter to me. 

2. I find it hard to admit I’m wrong. Most of the time I won’t make comments that I’m unsure about, but if I say something that’s incorrect then I HATE that I’m wrong. It’s imperfect, and I get cross at myself. 

3.  I like going for walks in the woods/ fields/ somewhere pretty. Quiet walks are soooo relaxing to me. (Especially if I’m staying with my parents and can take my dog!) 

4.  I am uncomfortable with conflict. I can’t deal with anger and find it best for my own sanity to walk away & have a calmer discussion at another time. 

5.  I’d always prefer to type a message to someone than speak face to face. I can be more honest and say things that are more thought out if it’s over messenger, and the time to construct what I want to say is important to me because it stops me stumbling and feeling embarrassed (which is how’d I’d feel if I had a conversation about a serious topic face to face)

6. I’m an animal lover. One day I will live in a house with lots of pets & give them so much love and attention. ❤️

7. Starbucks cookie dough frappucino is the best drink. I love it. I would have one everyday if I could. They rule. Ok you get my point. 😂

8. I’m not usually bothered about following trends or doing something because other people are. Unless I like something, I don’t wear it. It doesn’t matter to me if my style isn’t like other people’s, because it’s stupid to buy things you don’t like!

My family and food. 

Where do I start?

Firstly by saying that this post is just me venting the triggers, rather than being about judging them. 

My brothers seem to be the ones who escaped the food trap. They both have no issues whatsoever with food and actually really enjoy it with freedom while maintaining healthy bodies. 

My parents on the other hand are where the problems lie. For as long as I can recall my mum has been on and off diets. Sometimes she has sustained weight loss for a decent time, while other attempts were short lived. I remember watching her read the information on food packets when I was a child, and recall people always praising her when she had been “good” on her diet. Fast forward to this afternoon, and we are in the shop. I commented on some dried snacks and she told me how sugary they are. You might as well eat chocolate if you’re going to have them. While her statements are always aimed at the generic you as opposed to me personally, it makes me feel that anything I select will be judged. I support her trying to lose weight, and on countless occasions have given her (sensible, healthy) advice, but I cannot stand hearing all this food talk. It’s one sided, because I couldn’t tell her my food thoughts without a. Feeling uncomfortable or b. Getting told I was wrong.

My dad is very different. He has been thin my whole life. As a child I remember him as a normal eater, but in the latter half of my life he has developed weird habits. My observations tell me he does a version of intermittent fasting. He is currently losing weight, despite being very low body fat and already healthy, in preparation for something, and frankly it is a bit obsessional. Neither of them have habits I would recommend to a friend, as food plays a bigger part than I feel it should in their lives. 

Families eh?

*i love mine to pieces, but my ed is very trigger sensitive and competitive so these things are just too much for me. 

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

So it’s ED awareness week which has given me the opportunity to just write about a topic that has altered my life in so many ways. 

The world is full of stigma, stereotypes and misunderstanding. A large proportion of people believe that an eating disorder is just a problem with food; something really skinny people do. Those people are utterly wrong. 

What’s important to share is that every person with an eating disorder can look different. Some disorders cause weight gain, others cause loss, and some cause constant fluctuations. Wherever your disorder takes you weight wise, there WILL be physical risks and consequences. 

An eating disorder is a problem with dealing with life shit.. Well, doctors don’t put it quite that way… Anyway, my point is that eating disorders cannot be stopped overnight because life feels uncontrollable without the dominating thoughts and behaviours to keep you feeling at ease (even if the relief is only brief)

Eating disorders have the potential to kill. Recovery is a process full of ambivalence, and although I haven’t come out the other side yet, it certainly is possible. 

You never know what those around you are going through, so be kind. 

Be aware. 

Xx

Mental health services in the UK

It’s pretty cool that we don’t have to pay for medical treatment, but for things like therapy that require time to be effective, it can mean that waiting lists are long and you may not have a choice about your therapist.
For me the most important step was seeing the GP but this can be problematic if your doctor has little experience with mental health disorders. But remember, you can ask for who is good with mh conditions, and make another appointment you don’t have to settle for being misunderstood and turned away.
The NHS does have some brilliant therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists, but you have to get into the system first.

IAPT
For anyone who suffers with depression or anxiety, you will likely be put onto a cbt programme. Initially I had six “low intensity” sessions, and as I understand it, it’s commonly used as a way to give you a point of contact during the wait for the longer cbt.
For some people the 6 sessions are enough, but for me it wasn’t.
“High intensity” IAPT meant meeting a new clinical psychologist and having around 20 sessions over a period of about 9 months. This was good because you have more time, and therefore more chance to develop a better relationship and trust with your therapist. They also assess risk and ask about medications and you can ask them to phone your GP if you are thinking about going on medication. This took away the element of fear over explaining my situation in detail to a doctor, and made my transition onto medication much more smooth. On a personal note, I also struggle with anxiety when speaking so it was a life saver!

CAMHS
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
Oh CAHMS. Where to begin?! Well. Personally, my experience was PANTS. I felt misunderstood, belittled and let down. But that was all down to geography. Where I lived at the time, there was only a very small service. I imagine the waiting lists can be lengthy in larger cities, but the expertise and efficacy is (hopefully?!) far better.

Eating disorder services
Most treatment is outpatient in the UK. Inpatient treatment is primarily for physical management rather then therapy, aside from a few programmes for adolescents that I’ve heard of.
Again, and as with anything NHS related, the service you are referred to depends on where you live. The bigger the service, the greater the chance you can ask to change therapists if you don’t like your allocated one.
Groups and CBT are the main therapies used, but many other things are incorporated and many people (myself included) have had and continue to have treatment despite having other conditions as well.

Counselling
If you are a student you can usually find a contact number or email for a youth service that’s free in your area. These are typically time limited, but it was that first counsellor that gave me the courage to go to the GP and get specialised help.
There are also counsellors at some GP services, so don’t be afraid to ask 🙂

oops.. I forget about CMHT
CMHT stands for Community Mental Health Team. Every county should have one, and they are groups of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers and occupational therapists. They are usually classes as secondary care- meaning you wouldn’t be sent to them if you could be helped with a lower level of care. The CMHT deal with more complex cases, often taking referrals from those seen in a and e for suicidality, psychosis etc. Because they are a team, your care is monitored and discussed with the relevant professionals meaning everyone you see is kept up to date.

I think that’s about it… If anyone has any other good knowledge or thoughts then COMMENT and spread the word.
It can suck when you’re waiting and/or when you get to see someone and they are terrible at their job. It’s taken me about 5 years to get the right help- so you can do it too!
Xx

Environment and eating patterns & a bit of a ramble…

I have never really noticed it before, but where I am seems to have a big effect on what food I eat. Being in my hometown for a week has made me fall back into the patterns I had when I used to live here. Granted, my newer ones aren’t any more “normal” or better but there are specific foods which I plan into my days allowance when I am here, instead of some things I would normally have nowadays.

Funny eh?

I guess this just reinforces that ED’s are more about emotions and feelings than anything else, as I connect certain food patterns with different places.

On another note, I am feeling like I am totally unable to show my real emotions at home. I can’t pinpoint why but however I feel, my guard is always up and I can’t tell my parents that I love them or that I’ve missed them while I have been away, even though I have had so much contact with my Mum. I am constantly aware that they are thinking about my weight, or my eating disorder and judging what I am doing. As parents I know that they will worry out of care, but it just makes me feel like such a useless child because I’m living away from home and still managing to cause them worry. The “ill” bit of my brain couldn’t care less about any of that. It says I don’t deserve to be comfortable with my family until I am thinner and better. I feel weak for giving into it; it tells me I am weak if I don’t. When will I win?!

Sometimes in your life you will go on a journey. It will be the longest journey you have ever taken. It is the journey to find yourself.
Katherine Sharp