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.

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An Explanation

As some of you might have noticed, I completely failed the A-Z Blogging Challenge this year.
Part of me wishes I hadn’t signed up because hate failing, giving up or quitting. But maybe that exact reason is why it’s so important that I did it.

I am currently sitting my AS Level examinations, the first year/ part of the two-year A level course in the UK. It’s hardly surprising that I found writing a blog post each day and revising 4 subjects, going to school, practicing the flute for my grade 7 exam, climbing and horse riding too much.

My mother often says I stretch myself too thin. And maybe she’s right, but at the same time I don’t know how else to be. This is me, I am that person who is always doing ten things at once; who’s life is a precarious juggling act that only she can control.

I love writing blog posts, I enjoy it and it gives me a sense of purpose. It makes me sad that I have to prioritise exams, which I need to do in order to get to the university I want and to get to where I want to be in life. I think it’s crazy how much pressure is put on 16-18 years olds. These exams essentially decide the rest of our lives. That’s ridiculous! No one needs that sort of pressure. No wonder so many young people and teenagers get mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
At our school we’re taught from a young age that in order to succeed in life you must get a degree and go to a good university. That’s just not true.


https://vine.co/v/e77MHBgDIbe

I’m on half term now and have done 5 out of 8 exams. 3 more the week after half term then I’m done! I shall be writing more blog posts and posting at least a few times a week, and you never know I might have time to socialise and enjoy myself too!

Thank you for reading and I’ll be posting again soon.

F for Faces

Sometimes when I can’t sleep I like to draw. Usually I draw on my ipad because then I don’t need to fuss about with getting my pencil case and notebook out (plus things never rub out properly and I always manage to get pencil marks on my bed!), but recently I got a calligraphy set which is very exciting!

So I drew some faces. I am awful at drawing faces (as you can see), so I usually go for abstract which avoids the need for them to look realistic!

I decided to test my calligraphy pens out in an unconventional way.. With my eyes shut! Half them are with my eyes open and bald with my eyes shut.. Bet you’d have a hard time guessing which was which though! (The iPad ones were drawn with my eyes open)

  

I remember having to do similar exercises in inpatient to try to challenge perfectionism, and as it’s pen you can’t rub it out! It was a bit challenging actually but I embraced the fact it wasn’t perfect and it helped distract me and go to sleep afterwards.

Drawing it a great way to distract yourself, and it can sometimes help you actually relaise how you are feeling. Sometimes I’m just so tired, overwhelmed and hopeless and I don’t know how I feel, and drawing somehow helps me calm down and gather my thoughts.

If you suffer from anxiety or an eating disorder where up need distracting after food, I really would give drawing a go. I don’t do it as often as I like but it’s a really great thing to try.

Thanks for reading.

D for Don’t Even Think About It [book review #1]

Today I thought I’d try something a bit different. As it is an A-Z challenge, I thought why not go for something adventurous and see if I can learn some new skills while I’m at it. So today I’m going to be writing the first of (possibly a series?) of ‘books and mental health‘.

I am currently reading Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski.

This book isn’t about mental health, but the bits I am going to focus on in this post are. I hope that this way people can see what mental health issues are like in normalised day-to-day life, in this case, a teen fiction book.

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If I’m honest this isn’t usually the sort of book I read, it’s a bit too much of a ‘teen fic’ where they talk about who has a crush on who and what girl is wearing what etc etc.

BUT I found myself pleasantly surprised. 

 
One girl in this novel, Olivia, has anxiety. I see a lot of myself in her. She, like me, worries excessively about what people think of her, and tends to catastrophise and think the worst of every situation.

Here are some examples of her anixety:

“She wished she had gone home after all. The idea of everyone in the room knowing her every single thought filled her with dread.
She had dumb thoughts.
She knew she had dumb thoughts.”

“Olivia sank even further. They can hear me worrying about my dumbness! And now they can hear me worrying about worrying about my dumbness. It’s a friggin’ house of mirrors.
(I’m sure most people with mental health issues can relate to the house of mirrors analogy, I certainly feel like that at times.)

Olivia is also a hypercondriac. People are so quick to dismiss this and say ‘oh they just need to get a grip’, but it isn’t that easy. It’s a mental issue, my Grandad suffers from this and he is always petrified he’s ill and it’s some awful illness. It’s horrible, you can see the fear in his eyes over the tiniest of colds. Olivia is like this too, always scared that she’s got some awful illness. Again, I think it is an important thing for people to be aware of, and at points in the book it seems quite ridiculous, but I’ve learnt from personal experience that often mental disorders are competently illogical; that doesn’t make them any less valid. 

 
Overall I think it does a good job of conveying a different mindset than most teenagers are used to, and could potentially be an important eye-opener to those who are unaware of anxiety and mental health issues

 
I hope you enjoyed reading this slightly different post, please do leave comments and tell me what you think, would you like to read more book reviews like this? I have also read some non-fiction books about anorexia and other mental health issues that I could potentially write about and review if anyone is interested, so please do just give me a shout.

Thanks for reading.

The blade’s lullaby [original poem]

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING.

I wrote this last week when I was feeling the most depressed I’ve felt in a long time. Looking back on it is quite shocking, it is a very very dark piece of poetry.

I was in two minds about posting it because I’m worried it is just triggering and unhelpful and doesn’t need to be shared, but at the same time I feel like this sums up why I self harm sometimes? I feel like I have to, it’s not something I want to do but more of a need, like something terrible will happen if I don’t and that I deserve the pain.

Please let me know if you find this triggering or think it’s unhelpful/ best left off the internet and I’ll take it down.

Hush now darling, don’t you cry
The blade will sing you a lullaby
Let your sorrows melt away
Feel the pain in a different way
Drag that blade across your skin
Let lose the blood that lies within
Release the evil, feel the pain
Make up for weight you have gained
Again and again, swift and fast
Grab a bandage, the pain won’t last
Dry your tears, don’t you cry
It’s either this or you will die
Pills and rail tracks, heights and blades
This is your punishment, your fate is made
You cannot rest, or have peace from me
I am inside you, don’t you see?
Use your arm as a canvas to fill
Paint in stark red, and notice that still
With each new cut and bruise you make
All I do is take, take, take
Yet still here you are, listening to me
I am inside you, don’t you see?
You cannot beat me, I will win
I feel your sorrows as a grin
The whispered, haunted hymns of praise
The prayer which only you can raise
Be sure of this, my fellow friend
This is a war that will not end.
Not today, tomorrow, or next week
Your life is the ultimate prize I seek.
So while you fight and I grow strong
Remember you’re the girl who does not belong.
I will bring you peace of mind
Dull your senses, make you blind
Blind to the pain, don’t you see?
With me your spirit will at last be free.
If you decide you want to go,
I’ll help you get there, don’t you know?
I am the devil within your soul
And I’ll only stop if you reach my goal
Lose weight, cut, punish yourself
And maybe I’ll go someplace else
But for now here I am, trapped in you
A force once week, that suddenly grew.
A force so strong, you can’t outsmart
In fact it overtook your heart.

Also please don’t read this and worry about me, I was feeling in a very black place when I wrote it but touch wood things are going a bit better this week.

I’d be really interested to hear anyone’s feedback on this, positive or negative, so do please feel free to comment below.

Thanks for reading.

We’re all like stretchy yellow men sometimes..

I got given one of these wonderful stretchy yellow men by my friend the other day, it reminded me of when I was little, I loved buying little bits and bobs like that or winning them on the 2p machine at the Pier when I visited my granny.

But now when I see it, you stretch them too far and the smile looks like it’s going to break. Don’t you feel like that sometimes? That people are pulling and pushing you and one day you’re just going to snap?

Anyway, I played on this theme and did a drawing last night to distract myself as I was feeling a bit anxious.

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The black words are things we ‘say’ to people and the grey are things we really feel below it. Obviously no, we are not stretchy and don’t tell people to stretch us, but in the way we talk to others I’m sure at times we are making ourselves vulnerable to being hurt because we are sad and want others to be happy.. Or maybe that’s just me.

A poem:

A toy, she thought,
She pulled and tugged
She twisted and yanked
And pinged it about.

A toy, she thought

But when it snapped
She cried and screamed
Ripped it inside and out

The mother came in,
Swept it away
Hugged her daughter
Bought a new one for a new day

But the cracks are already there,
Beginning to show

How long will it be
Until the cracks start to grow?

How long until,
The stretchy man cannot hide
Those fractures and pains
All bottled up inside.

And how long until
The little girl knows
That man is not a toy
He’s the pain inside us that grows?

Sorry for the random post, I’d be interested to see if people agreed with me though, do you ever feel like that?

This week has been tough on so many levels, just want it all to stop but I know if I want that then I have to keep fighting through. Any motivation would be much appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

Trigger Warnings: should these be compulsory?

Today’s post is going to be a bit of a debate. I’m going to try to give both sides of the argument as well as my opinions, but I’ll leave you to make your own judgements as there is no right or wrong answer.

So, trigger warnings on posts. Be that Tumblr, WordPress, Instagram– you name it. Should people use them more? Or less? Or should people be using them at all?

It is common now to find recovery accounts on all social media sites; one of the largest being Instagram. From positive recovery accounts to weight loss and pro-Ana accounts, there really is a wide spectrum out there.

Trigger warnings, abbreviated to TW, are often put at the beginning of posts. Recovery accounts may post something like, “TW but I skipped dinner. I feel ill but I just can’t stop. I hate this”, for example. Some people won’t put this trigger warning. The question is, is sharing with social media helping? And should everyone posting potentially harmful content have to use a trigger warning?

Now I believe in freedom of speech, and especially in recovery from a mental health condition, I think opening up about how you feel is vital to ensure your wellbeing and give you the best possible chance of recovery. But to what extent can we go before posting becomes a hindrance to both those writing the posts and those reading?

I believe that unfortunately, websites such as Instagram and Tumblr where sometimes graphic pictures and descriptions are posted are desensitising us.
It is all too common to stumble upon a photo of someone with a drip in their hand after an overdose.
It is all too common to see fresh self harm when flicking through a recovery tag.

Now this isn’t safe or healthy, for anyone.

Don’t get me wrong, social media can be a wonderful and helpful thing to all of us, including those in recovery, but there are dangers too that we need to be aware of and protect ourselves from.

Although we should all be able to share our feelings, I think we’d all be much safer in these internet communities with a safeguard filter. For example, there should be an option to block posts with TW as a hashtag, and a rule that all potentially triggering content should have this tag on it.
That way it allows freedom of speech, but also protects everyone on the Internet, perhaps most importantly the vulnerable people to these mental health conditions.

And as for people who say, “it’s my account I can post what I like”, is that a fair statement? (I am not saying yes or no, I am simply asking the question).

We are in the day and age where our deepest inner-most thoughts can be published on social media, and although we have every right to do so, shouldn’t we all have every right to be protected from seeing these things? Some people would still look, but it does allow the option not to if you are struggling. Then you will see perhaps more positive posts which would help in recovery. See what I’m getting at here?

I think that whether people post it on a private or public account, if there is any chance it might be triggering (be it the picture or the caption), put TW at the beginning of the post and/or as a hashtag. Two simple letters might save someone a lot of pain.

I rarely use my recovery instagram, as it is a tricky place to be. I only follow recovery accounts (by that I mean no pro-anorexia accounts and the suchlike), but unfortunately this doesn’t mean that I am safe from triggers. There are so many out there, from calorie counting to people posting photos of pills they are about to overdose on.

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Lastly, I thought I’d leave you with two points; one to sum up, and one more just to finish on:
(1) Think before you post. Could this be triggering? Put a trigger warning on just in case.
Make this community safer for yourself and those around you, speak your mind but be considerate. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to put a trigger warning on their post. Obviously there is no need to be rude so make sure you ask politely.

And

(2) before getting a recovery account on any of these sites, make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for, and be careful when looking up hashtags. Your wellbeing is most important, so don’t be afraid to unfollow someone if you find them triggering.

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I hope you enjoyed this post and it got you thinking about trigger warnings on social media.

Thanks for reading.