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.

2 years, 4 months and 7 days: no more CAHMS

2 years, 4 months and 7 days ago I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Since then it’s been a rocky journey- 9 months, 20 days spent inpatient/ then day patient at the Priory EDU (Eating Disorders Unit), and many more days off school. Meals cried over, tantrums thrown, friendships broken. Exercise obsessive, no calories uncounted.
Depression gripping me and blinding me

– I thought I’d never see the light.

But somehow I’ve muddled my way through and I’m still here today, fighting hard as ever. Today is the day my journey carries on by myself, I am discharged from CAHMS/ YPEDS as of today!

I’m going to be honest, being discharged is absolutely terrifying and many tears have been shed. But I know, deep down, it is a good thing. It’s time for me to continue by myself, to use the skills I’ve learnt and to overcome my demons once and for all. It’s hard having my safety net taken away from me, it’s hard having to say goodbye to my psychologist who I adore, it’s hard not being ‘ill’ anymore. But those things will remain hard no matter how long I stay; letting go is sometimes the hardest thing of all, but it has to be done.

So much has changed during these last nearly 2 1/2 years. And though I always feel I could have done better or I’ve let myself down, it’s days like this where I have to acknowledge how far I’ve come.

A girl who cried and refused her meals, who would think of any way possible to hide or restrict her food, who would go on long walks while on ‘bed-rest’, who would even spit out her own saliva in a desperate bid to shed any weight she possibly could. A girl who was so distraught by the numbers on the scale that she cut her skin. A girl so riddled with depression that she no longer enjoyed anything anymore- her hobbies and interests soon redundant. Cold, alone, scared and isolated.

in the grips of anorexia
Now that girl is fast disappearing, replaced instead with a vision of hope. If you look closely there are traces of her- traces that will one day be gone entirely. Of course, she will never forget what she went through. The pain and torture, but also her endurance and determination.

As today draws to an end, I am left thinking about my journey: how far I’ve come and also how far I have yet to go. The reality is that there is still some journey, but it’s time like this where I have to focus on how far I’ve come rather than just how far I’ve got to go.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have friends and family supporting me through my illness, but I know many aren’t so lucky. People are quick to judge mental health: ‘attention seeking’, ‘freak’, they say. But in reality we are no different to you- we’re just a bit lost and need a hand to guide us into the light. 

Never be afraid to reach out, both to those struggling or if you are struggling yourself. Have a broken friendship? Try fixing it before you give up into desperation. Live your life to the full and don’t let your eating disorder or mental health condition live your life for you.

Thanks for reading and supporting me on my journey through blogging.

My First Inpatient Meal

This post talks about the thought processes I had during my first meal at the inpatient unit. It could potentially be triggering to those struggling with eating disorders so please be careful,
I’m posting this to raise awareness of what it’s like to battle your demons through each meal. I hope you like the style it’s written in, feel free to leave feedback in the comments and I’ll reply as soon as possible (I get back home from holiday in a few days time so will reply then).

My First Inpatient Meal

I remember my first meal.

Half a tuna sandwich.

The mayonnaise and sweetcorn spewing from the sides.
My hands shook as I moved the half across from the plastic container to my plate. The others began. Silence all except for the radio wittering softly in the background. I picked up my sandwich again. I looked at it, studied it’s brown seeds and soft brown crust. I pulled it closer to my mouth, lingered there for a moment. Unwillingly, my mouth opened. I nibbled the corner. The dry bread slipped down my throat.
Time was slipping by.

I looked around me, seeing how far others had got. Most had eaten almost a quarter. The girl sitting opposite me, also on half portions, had barely touched hers. I must finish last. No one will take me seriously unless I finish last.

The minutes ticked by.

Soon ten minutes were up, then fifteen. We were half way through the meal. I was less than halfway through my half-sandwich.

I took another bite, forcing the salty tuna down my throat. I felt the eyes of other patients bore into me, sizing me up. Sizing. Ha, it’s almost funny isn’t it? That in actual fact they probably were looking at my size. My enormous, disproportionate body. The body that the professionals insisted was ‘underweight’. The body that I had toyed with for all those months. The body I tried to make disappear.

As I sit there, my head spins. It’s too late now, there’s no going back. I will gain weight, I will never again be this thin. I can’t bear it. If I look like this now, what will I look like in ten kilograms? What will I look like with both halves of the tuna sandwich?

I take another bite.

Nonchalantly I chew. Again, I look up around me, up at the clock this time. 10 minutes left. I let my gaze drift down to the window. There’s a garden outside, one for the adolescent unit. I see a girl sitting there on a bench. I wish I could be sitting there, in place of that girl. Free to run around the garden, to exercise without the judging eyes and stern words from staff.

I look down at my hands. Just a few mouthfuls left.

The staff disturbs my thinking, “five minutes left, five minutes”. I shove another mouthful in.

Chew.

Chew.

Chew.

Swallow.

I try not to think of the grease coating my mouth. I look around, everyone has finished. Even the girl opposite. I stick the last bite into my mouth, just as the staff calls for us that our half an hour is up. I think I’ve done it, but the staff shakes her head at my plate, indicating that I must scrape it clean. Humiliated, I use my finger to scrape the excess crumbs and mayonnaise from the plate. A stray piece of sweetcorn also finds itself in my mouth. No need to chew, I swallow fast. No supplement drink for me. I was through our first meal.

***

Thanks for reading.

My Story, In Prose – by Sarah

Today I am sharing a story. One of sadness, true, but also determination and triumph. This story is not my own, but Sarah’s. Sarah is an inspirational young person and a fighter against anorexia. I hope that you find Sarah’s story as gripping and wonderfully written as I did, as well as it allowing you insight into what it’s like to live with an eating disorder.

My Story, In Prose
By: Sarah
Instagram: @oatsosarah
Written 8/24/2015

August, 2012

Sarah is thirteen and Sarah is fat.

Those are two things that Sarah knows with absolute certainty.

At the doctor’s office, that fateful day in late August, Dr. G says, “Sarah, you are off of your growth charts. Sarah, you must lose weight. Sarah, you must eat less. Start exercising. Something must change”.
And Sarah changed, oh yes they did!

Autumn, 2012

Sarah’s best friends are slim. Athletic. And so are their classmates! In fact, Sarah can count the number of fat people in their school on the fingers of one hand. Sarah only ever wanted to fit in.

“Daily Caloric Intake Calculator
Age? 13.
Height? 5’4”
Weight? xxx lbs.
Goal Weight? xxx lbs.”

It spit back a number and heaven help us, that number was Sarah’s life!

Winter/Spring, 2013

The shower’s water is hot on Sarah’s back but Sarah feels cold inside in an odd, icky, not-so-good way. Brown smoke clouds Sarah’s vision and they nearly fall. Panic. Panic everywhere, and Sarah can’t see!

“I can’t see!” Sarah shouts, hands clutching grey walls. “Help, I can’t see!”

Their mother comes, wraps them in a towel. Spots, static, in front of Sarah’s eyes and a burning pressure right behind them.

“I’ll get you some orange juice? Maybe you’re hungry,” The words cut like knives. Heartless attempt at kindness, that is. Offering her child ORANGE JUICE, while that child is on a DIET?

It’s a waste of calories, Sarah.

“No thanks, I’m fine.”

“Sarah, you are eating /something/.”

Sarah picks up the smallest clementine they can find from the bowl in the kitchen.

“I’m fine.”

Spring, 2013

It’s all your fault, Sarah. Just because it was your mother’s birthday dinner did not mean that you had to eat that. Or THAT. What were you thinking, you fucking fatty? Of course you’ve gained weight since this morning. Of course. Because you fucking pigged out tonight, that’s why! Go. Go do laps and TRY to burn off all the weight you’ve gained. FUCKING FATSO.

Pacing, pacing into the dark, and then jogging, breaking into a run, again and again laps around the house, around the yard, uphill and downhill and uphill again. Sarah tastes bile, sweat drenches their face.

The scale reads lower and Sarah nearly collapses with relief.

Nearly, because only lazy pigs sit down for no reason.

Summer, 2013

Sarah is an overachiever and thus, has decided to take an advanced summer course at school. For the students in the summer session, the dining hall staff were kind enough to cater lunches for the summer session students.

Hot fudge sundae bar! Two of Sarah’s friends, who also opted to take the class, are excited. They rush to the bar— aren’t you going with them, Sarah? They have dark chocolate chips, after all!

Sarah drags themselves up, tears waiting anxiously behind their eyes, ready to run in an instant.

You’re stronger than this, Sarah. Look at you, worthless monster. You’re giving in. Stop. Stop. Stopstopstop.

Sarah gets a small bowl of vanilla ice cream. Passes the dark chocolate chips without a second glance.

Upon arriving home, they begin to exercise, and continue into perpetuity.

August, 2013

“Sarah, look at you! You’ve lost xx lbs! Look at how healthy you are!”

Sarah is healthy. Sarah is healthy.

First day of school, 2013

Sarah, you look so good!
Any tips? C’mon, spill!
Look how SKINNY you’ve gotten!
Wow, way to get in shape!
I’m so inspired by your self control!
Man, you’ve lost a ton of weight!

Autumn, 2013

Sarah’s not studying enough, Sarah has to get up at 4:30 am to study. They can study till 6:30 and then leave for school at 7:30 and still make it on time.

On the weekends, why isn’t Sarah studying for 8 hours a day? Wait, they do? Okay, what about 10? Do you have anything /better/ to do, Sarah? NO. Studying is all you’re good for, after all.

100%.

A+.

You want to get into an Ivy, don’t you! You need to actually work, not sit on your lazy ass all day.

Sarah’s mother is concerned.
“Sarah, why does it take you an hour to eat your oatmeal every night?”
“Sarah, aren’t you healthy already? Why are you only eating x calories a day?”
“Sarah, when will your diet be over?”

November, 2013 Continue reading