Dealing with past trauma

I was looking through my computer yesterday and found this ‘post’ if you like (it’s before I had a blog you see) about dealing with past trauma that I wrote on 5/8/2014.
My ‘trauma’ if you lik was a relationship I was in that made me feel uncomfortable, but I shan’t go into that.
I hope this post is helpful for those dealing with difficult situations in the past, just like I had to, and helps people keep going in their recovery.

Dealing with past trauma
As a person recovering from an eating disorder, I can say hand on heart that I understand what it’s like to have so many feelings and emotions about particular incidents that you feel trapped, vulnerable and alone. The important thing to realise is that whatever it is that happened in your past was most likely NOT your fault, and whatever it was you can work to get through it and carry on your day to day life without the pain you once felt.

For me, the first thing I had to was to sit with the bombardment of feelings and emotions I felt, and try to calm myself down enough to work out what it was that was scaring me so much and causing all these emotions and thoughts.

Some ways of calming yourself:

  • Counting slowly to ten, breathing deeply
  • Focusing on an object and looking in detail at everything, then go back to yourself when you’re feeling calmer
  • Sit with both legs firmly on the ground and with your back straight upright, and feel the chair supporting you from beneath and remind yourself that you are in the present and you are safe

Allow yourself as much time as you need. For me I just lay in bed (it was night) and panicked about it all for a while, until I calmed myself down enough to think clearly.

Still, once I had realised what the situation was that was bothering me, it didn’t change anything. I still had all the same overwhelming thoughts and feelings, and I still felt completely out of control. So the next thing to do is to talk to someone.

I know how hard talking to people is. It has taken me almost a year to trust therapists enough to (almost)fully open up to them and actually start doing therapy work that was going to benefit me.

I see a therapist at CAHMS, but I didn’t want to talk to her about this certain thing for various reasons, so after some panicking and a bit of thinking, I decided to contact Childline, where I could talk anonymously.

However, talking to people you know is probably best depending on the situation; there are some things I understand you just can’t bring yourself to talk to someone you know about. But if you do decide to talk to someone you know, talk to someone you trust. Be it your parents, therapist (if you have one), or friends. Just a word of caution though, talking to your friends is great and you are not burdening them at all if they want to listen and help you, but try not to put them in a difficult situation. For example, if you tell a friend something that puts you or others at risk and beg them not to tell anyone, that is stressful for them and will also probably make you feel worse for putting them in that situation. Or, if you do this, understand the reason why if they tell someone, and be forgiving because they only want what is best for you.

Anyway, after all this, the end result is that it’s no longer trapped and bottled up inside you. Now that it’s out in the open, even if just one person knows, then you can start to gradually let go and move on. It doesn’t instantly feel better, sometimes it’s still scary and horrible after you talk to someone for a bit, but over time the feelings will hopefully get less intense and you can move on with your life and recovery.

I hope this helped anyone who is finding it hard to move onto the past, and please feel free to comment any questions/thoughts or email me at myjourneywithrecovery@gmail.co.uk

Thanks for reading. 

A ‘Severe’ Eating Disorder

I found a letter from last year regarding my eating disorder, and it stirred a few thoughts.

There’s no such thing as a severe eating disorder, ALL eating disorders are living hell and the fact that a proffesional claims me to have had a ‘severe‘ eating disorder makes me mad- so what, you think others aren’t severe? No matter what your weight, what your physical conditions, eating disorders are sheer hell. You can’t go out to enjoy yourself with friends, oh no, you must instead do laps around your local neighbourhood when your parents think you are asleep, you must restrict every waking hour to minimal food, you must constantly be agonising over your body.
Now, who are you to label as ‘severe’ or ‘mild’? Have you been through it yourself? No. Then you couldn’t possibly understand.

I’m sick of the macros, I’m sick of the BMIs, I’m sick of being sick of it all.

Why is it that there’s always a competition? If we were all sicker than each other we’d all be dead, simple as.

Strength is not determined by how low your weight got or how long you went without eating, strength is determined by the courage and determination it takes to recover.

Thanks for reading.

World Mental Health Day

To celebrate World Mental Health Day I drew a badge that can be reposted and displayed on blogs.

I also wrote a post on my personal instagram and Facebook which, I’m going to be honest, was utterly terrifying, but the support I received from it was incredible.

I wrote:

Today is World Mental Health Day. Many people probably don’t even know, because unless it’s effected you there is very little awareness of it.
If someone had a physical illness you would have no problem with helping them, why should mental health be any different?
I would say I’m a fairly normal teen- I like DT, want to go to uni, and like watching Bake Off and The Apprentice. I have a fab family and great friends, yet mental health still effected me. 2013 was a hard year, I was diagnosed with anorexia and started my journey in recovery. 2015, 2 years later, and I’m still going. I am now weight restored and can do things I wouldn’t have dreamt of then, including running to raise money for Beat.
The point? Mental health issues don’t always happen to someone else.
Be aware, be understanding and most importantly- speak about it. It’s about time mental health was brought out into the open. Feeling like you can talk to people about how you feel is so important; depression, eating disorders, anxiety- they are actually fairly common. 1 in 7 people struggles with mental health issues, that’s at least 3 in an average class.
Don’t be afraid to seek help, there are many others out there who feel the same as you.
#worldmentalhealthday

The message of this post? Don’t be afraid to reach out, the world is growing ever-more accepting and understanding of mental health but we still have a way to go. Help make understanding grow by sharing and talking about mental health. #starttheconversation

Thanks for reading.

Orthorexia article: The Guardian

Today The Guardian published an article about orthorexia, entitled ‘Ortherxia:when healthy eating turns against you‘. This is a really interesting article that is well worth the read; including an individual’s story, a fitness blogger and a psychiatrist’s opinion and the debate about whether it is its own individual criteria or whether it is part of anorexia.

I believe that it is time othorexia was taken seriously and made a medical criteria along with anorexia and bulimia. It’s time people understood that all food is healthy in moderation, and eating only ‘healthy’ foods is in fact not healthy at all.

You can visit the article here: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/sep/26/orthorexia-eating-disorder-clean-eating-dsm-miracle-foods

Thanks for reading.

A break-up

Today I broke up with my boyfriend.

I know that sounds like such a trivial thing but it was so, so hard. I’ve been going out with him for over a year now. I enjoy his company but I’m not ‘sexually attracted’ to him or whatever it is you’re supposed to feel about someone you’re going out with. I go out with him because I feel I have to, that I don’t want to hurt his feelings but not because I actually actively want to. I got on with him like I get on with my friends, but he liked me in a different way and it just wasn’t fair on him to keep him in a relationship that wasn’t even. 
Despite this, he really didn’t want to break up. He desperately tried to ignore what I was saying when I rang him and was downheartened and upset by the end. I feel so cruel for breaking up with him, I was trying to do what was best for both of us but now I just feel selfish.

Why I broke up with him, a comprehensive list:

1) We just want different things in the relationship. I want to keep things at hugging/kissing but he wants more even though he said he’s willing to wait. He wants the relationship to progress but it just isn’t going to happen.

2) I don’t have time, and when I do see him he complains that I haven’t seen him for long enough

3) He can be really difficult and make me feel guilty about everything, for instance he makes out that I’m the only thing good in his life and he can’t imagine life without me so I feel trapped in the relationship

4) He doesn’t understand me. He tries, but he says all the wrong things yet always pushes me to open up to him when I don’t want to. 

    Two things about this, firstly I am a huge believer in talking to people, but personally I don’t care who that is- if my friend was upset about something, obviously I’d want her to trust me enough to tell me, but as long as she was talking to someone that would be good enough for me. I hate it when people try to pressure you to talk to them, like it’s personally offensive not to.
      Secondly, when I told him I’d been discharged from the ED services and that it was scary etc, he 1) bought me chocolates (?!) (weird choice of gift considering the circumstances) and 2) said ‘well you don’t have to worry about it anymore, it’s all behind you now’ or something, not understanding that in actual fact I still battle it every day- I’m simply better at coping these days.

    5) He wants me to be someone I’m not. He wants me to not be tired all the time, to stay up later, to text more, to do this and that. I cannot do all of these things, I can try but at the end of the day these are not my skills. My friends will agree that I am rubbish with texting, but they know I try hard and they understand that (I think). It’s tiring always being told that I don’t text enough, I don’t do this enough etc etc, and at the end of the day it just leaves me feeling inadequate.

    6) He’s really sensitive and struggles with self esteem. How am I going to make him feel if he knows I am not attracted to him? It will make him feel worse, and to stay in that relationship is a constant reminder. He doesn’t deserve that.

    7) he deserves better. Not only does he deserve better than my personality/being, but he also needs someone who is less busy and can spend more time with him. Because 

    8) He is very clingy. If it were up to him I’d never do anything else but see him.

    9) He’d always bring up conversations his friends had had about us, teasing him about us not having sex or whatever, like he was trying to guilt me into doing it? He’d bring it up like ‘oh max just texted me’ and so I of course am supposed to say ‘oh what about’ then he’ll say something along the lines of ‘ah just the usual’ or something but every time he tells me something about his friend’s conversations it’s about me or our relationship and I HATE it because I don’t know them and I get really anxious/ paranoid about what people think about me.

    10) He’d talk about us in the future like we were going to go out forever, which freaked me out as I’m only 17! If I didn’t break up with him soon I was literally going to end up marrying him for the sake of it. That’s how it felt.

    The point of this post?
    Well I’m not sure. I feel like I almost need to justify why I broke up with him? Like it’s only ok if I have good reasoning and it was the right thing to do?

    I realise I must sound like such a cow. I honestly don’t mean to, I just had to get it off my chest and I don’t know where else I can so that.

    I absolutely hate upsetting people but I know I hurt him. I relapsed into self harm for the first time in months. I didn’t even want to, which is more unusual as sometimes I get urges and I want to but I manage to distract myself, but today I just made myself. I had to. I hurt him so I must hurt myself. It was as simple as that. I’d caused him pain so I had to inflict pain upon myself, I deserve it. 

    Not looking forward to the endless task of hiding it and covering it up. It isn’t bad but it’s just a nuisance. I feel like I’ve let everyone down by doing it, but yet I felt I had to. I couldn’t win.

    I’m determined that this shall be my last time. I want to be able to say “XX was the last time I self harmed”. I want to put self harm in the past. I was so close to doing so but I screwed it up.

    BUT, as my friend reminded me, recovery is a bumpy road. It’s full of ups and downs and you’re going to slip up on time to time. That does NOT mean I have failed. It just means that I am strong enough to pick myself back up and carry on fighting. 

    Sorry for the ramble, I bet it was an awfully long boring account of what’s going on in my mind. But I did write this post in the middle of the night while I have a stinking cold so what do you expect? Oh well. I live another day to feel the guilt of being the one to end the relationship. Feeling truly selfish but I hope that gradually it will dull with time.

    Thanks for reading.

    Thriving in the (Cult)ure of Self-Restraint – by Sarah

    Thriving in the (Cult)ure of Self-Restraint
    By: Sarah (Instagram: @oatsosarah)

    ​Recovery from a restrictive eating disorder is hard. But recovery in a society that celebrates restriction and overexercise is much, much harder.

    ​In 2015, what is celebrated? It is not the freedom to balance consumption of chocolate bars with consumption of salads. It is not concept of a “rest day” to give a heavily overworked body the chance to rest.

    ​ “Clean Eating” and our collective admiration of Toned Women in Bikinis Smiling With Fruit Plates™ are subjects of awe, they receive comments such as “GOALS” and “HOW?!” on social media platforms such as Instagram. “Healthy” versions of so-called guilty pleasures circulate on Pinterest, and “Healthy Living Bloggers” make a living off of teaching others how to run miles at dawn and eat the latest protein bar, “So together we can all shed those last ten pounds!” And in the midst of all of this, are those who are in recovery, or worse yet, those who are attempting recovery while this disordered noise rings out from every direction.

    ​These people are idolized for the same reason that monks, and other religious figures have been idolized from time immemorial: because they are tangible examples of an almost spiritual level of self-restraint, the anthesis of the sinful gluttony which we all attempt to avoid. Their picture=perfect lives are evidenced by a mental control of their bodily needs. Unlike the rest of us mere mortals, our restrictive idols determine when and if they ever become hungry, and in the case that they do become hungry, what they crave and how they choose to fill these cravings. In short, it’s a disordered eater’s wet dream.

    ​There are several flaws in this model of thinking, in the way we as a society celebrate restriction and vilify flexibility. But the one I would like to emphasize is that many people seem to think that changing one’s life by dropping a few pounds or taking up yoga is going to bring them fulfillment. In much the same way, for many restrictive eaters, we think that self-starvation, in eating only x, y, and z foods, getting to our goal BMI, will bring us a sort of enlightenment and joy that we could not get any other way. The issue with this model of thinking, however, is that it seeks to employ denial to achieve the very opposite of denial: fulfillment.

    ​By denying oneself the pleasure of eating, of relaxing, of a break from the stress of maintaining a certain diet or look, we will never satisfy our desires for fulfillment. The non-ED people who take up Paleo, Clean Eating, et cetera never stop and say “I’m satisfied with how much I’ve detoxed” or “I’m satisfied with how much I weigh/how toned I am now”. They never stop, because their desires will never be fulfilled. They have taken up a lifestyle that centers itself around always wanting to do more, always wanting to be better. There is nothing wrong with striving to be the best version of yourself, but becoming a better person should be part of the process, not one’s end goal.

    ​Meanwhile, those with restrictive eating disorders are easily drawn into this toxic world—after all, it’s a form of restriction that is not only acceptable, but also put on a pedestal! Now that sickly thin models are no longer admired as they were in the past, disordered people who want to “recover” but remain “comfortable” as they do so seek to become not Heroin Chic but instead toned, tan, in a bikini, holding half a melon in the sunshine.

    ​That girl doesn’t exist, by the way. She may exist in filtered Instagram pictures, in blog posts as sage advice on how to “Love Yourself” is given to rabid followers, but in real life that girl is just as flawed as any of us. She wakes up with bedhead and her alarm goes off way, way too early, and she accidentally cuts her finger slicing her morning cantaloupe, and maybe she has a handful of cereal too because she was in the mood for it, and why not? But that’s not what her readers want to read, so of course she wouldn’t post it!

    ​If you are in recovery from an ED, you probably already know that the image of perfection you sought out at your sickest was, and is, completely unattainable. However, you need to know that in your recovery, Cantaloupe Girl is simply a (slightly) healthier image of this same unattainable perfection. Cantaloupe Girl is no better than you, nor is the blogger who lost twenty pounds quickly, or the person who came up with a new smoothie recipe on Instagram. They are people, and unless they have distinctly disordered habits beneath their shiny exteriors, they probably treat themselves far more than they admit to their fans.

    ​Go ahead, eat half a melon if you so choose. But don’t forget that the woman telling you to eat fresh produce all day is also the woman who has a cup of coffee with cream and sugar in the morning, and sometimes eats takeout in front of the TV at night. That is balance, that is health, and that is the model of “imperfect” perfection that we should all strive to imitate.

    Book review #2: Panther by David Owen

    I have mixed feelings about this book. While on the one hand it provides and interesting comparison between the Panther and depression, I felt let down by the ending and found the book felt almost unfinished? Although I guess you could look at it like depression- there is no definite end.

    As someone suffering with depression the ending of the book made me feel hopeless and worse than when I’d started, leaving me almost wishing I hadn’t read it. I had hoped it would provide relief and show that it can be got through, instead it almost showed the opposite. I know it’s not this book’s job to help me in any way, it’s a work of literature not a therapy book. But anyway, I had hoped that this would be a good thing to read to help me get through it but I’m not so sure it’s that helpful.

    One thing I would have really liked is more focus and explanation on Derrick, because Derrick himself had depression! He was depressed and binge ate and I was really hoping for some sort of revelation at the end of the book whereby he’d realise he was depressed and ‘understood’ what depression was (understood is the wrong word, I have it and I still don’t understand! Empathise with it I guess?). I also thought that talking about Derrick’s depression might have helped make it clear that not all depression is crying and screaming etc, although the author did this well using the dad.

    I also wanted more explanation on why Derrick did some of the things he did, like the slightly creepy sex obsession and obsession with Hadley? But maybe that’s pushing my luck.

    However, the book was very well written and I liked how even though it was on a difficult subject it was almost made lighter by the Panther hunt which acted as a good break between the heavier aspects. I thought the symbolism of the panther was really special and Derrick’s hunt enduring.

    Overall, although there are some aspects I’m still unsure about, such as the ending, I thought it was a very thought-provoking book. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to people struggling with depression or family/close friends of those affected as I think it can be quite a difficult read with those circumstances, but I would quite possibly recommend it to other people who are interested in the topic.

    Thanks for reading.