P for Positivity

Positivity is important. No one can feel positive all the time, and in recovery it can be rare, so when the moment comes we need to try our best to remember what that felt like.

On Thursday I had my birthday party (I turned 17 on Monday), and it was after my party I had a rare moment of absolute satisfaction and positivity.

So I recorded it , I jotted it down like I was speaking excitedly to a friend. And that’s what I thought I’d share with you today. Sheer, genuine, in the moment positivity and appreciation for life and recovery.

“I had such a fab time at my party! Felt a bit ill towards the end of it but never mind.
And do you know what? I ate loads, like loads to a normal person not just to me. I had crepes, a milkshake, pizza, a slice of birthday cake.. And do you know what? I’m still alive, I’m still ok, I haven’t exploded! My stomach is round and content with food. It’s full. And full is good, full means my body can get to work on any repairs it has to do! Full means my body can learn that I’m not going to starve it any longer. More importantly, today taught me that there is more to life than an eating disorder, there really is. Laughing and chatting with friends, being loud and eating in front of people and actually, you know what?, not caring. Because I couldn’t have had such a good time without food, if I hadn’t eaten it would have been awkward for them and for me. And what’s better than watching a film with a bunch of friends and a pizza on a paper plate? What’s better than laughing at charades with your friends? Yes it was quite loud and challenging for anxiety etc, and I received some absolutely amazing presents and I love them so so much, but it’s hard for me to get presents so that was a challenge to. But I did it, and I’m ok with that.
I don’t know, I just feel so positive right now. Like maybe I do have a place, maybe I can recover and live a full life. I want every day to be like today, challenging but full of purpose and fun.
Only recovery can get you here, only recovery can allow you these opportunities. I couldn’t be gladder that I’ve stuck with recovery, even through darker times where I’ve nearly lost hope. Please remember that, there is always hope. And where there is hope, there is determination, and with determination you will get there.”

I really recommend jotting down moments of inspiration like this, because reading back on it can be so helpful and inspiring and can help pull you up from dark and difficult moments.

Today I am not feeling particularly great, so I’m reading that and trying to remember how it felt. I’ve learnt to live for these moments. They may be few for now, but you never know, one day my life could be full of them. I just have to get there.

Thanks for reading.

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5 things to achieve this February

If I’m totally honest (with myself as well as you), I’m struggling a bit recently. With depression, with food, with the thoughts- the whole lot. I figured as today is the start of a new month, why not set myself some realistic but perhaps challenging goals to help me through.

Part of me wants to relapse but part of me wants to beat it and get better; I’ve just got to keep fighting and make the latter part win. It’s so hard saying that let alone getting my brain to think it, but it’s work in progress. I have to keep strong for my friends and family, as well as for me, even if sometimes I don’t care about myself/ more extreme of hating myself.

Here goes! 5 goals this February:

(1) Open my Christmas selection box and eat at least one bad of chocolate from it. It’s been sitting in my room and I’m too afraid to eat it, I also hate having food in my room as it scares me!

(2) Write a blog post at least once a week.

(3) Gain weight at weigh-in at least once this month, PLUS maintain/gain for another week. So max I can lose is 2 out of 4 weeks.

(4) Get through another month without self harm (in terms of cutting of scratching)

(5) Moisturise at least once a week this month. Caring for my body is so scary as I think I don’t deserve it, but I’ve got to challenge these thoughts right?

That’s all for this month, I have no idea whether this will be helpful or not, but I figured I’d give it a go and see. I really hope I manage to achieve at least some of these, at the end of the month I’ll tell you how it went and set more goals if I found it helpful!

Hope you’re all ok and sorry for my lack of posting, depression and anorexia are bitches but I will fight them.

Thanks for reading.

A meaningful goodbye

Today was a hard day, because I had to say goodbye to my psychologist, whom we will call L.

We exchanged goodbye letters and a few tears were shed, but I’ll never forget what she has taught me and I will forever remember our time together. It is so sad and hard saying goodbye, but this isn’t the end: I am still in recovery and on an ever changing journey, and you never know, one day our paths might meet again.

Here is my letter to L.

Dear L,
It’s hard to know where to start.
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me, you’ve helped me so much and made me realise that I am not alone. There are two types of people in this world: those who know their limits and accept them, and those who know their limits but do not let that stop them or define who they are. I may be more susceptible to mental health issues than others, but you’ve assured me that things can change and that, although it hard, you can always overcome your issues.
I might not easily find the ‘middle ground’ that we oh so love, but, like anything, hard work and practice should get me there.
I’m not saying all my problems are sorted and I’m going to waltz myself through life, because that is unrealistic. I still have some way to go, but you have helped me open up doors I didn’t even realise were there. You’ve helped me realise things I felt or thought that I didn’t even realise I felt. And most importantly, you’ve been there for me. You never gave up on me and for that I can never thank you enough.
You’ve allowed me to talk through my fears, no matter how small or silly they may seem, and you never judged me.
Goodbyes are hard and I hate them, because you really have changed my path or at least helped me along the right one. Without your incredible support who knows where I’d be now?
Goodbyes are hard at the best of times, but it’s even harder when the person you have to say goodbye to has made such a big impact on your life. I trust you more than I trust anyone except maybe my mum, and it is hard to leave that.
I will forever remember our times together; from laughing about the elusive middle ground to shedding a few tears. But as you say, that only strengthened how close we felt and how we were able to connect.
You must get heaps of patients thanking you and telling y how much you’ve helped them, big I just had to say it because it’s the genuine truth. We all thank people who, let’s face it, we don’t particularly like or value, but my thank you is sincere and I honestly could never thank you enough.
And finally, I hope you have an absolutely incredible time in X. I am sure it will be a wonderful experience and a new and exciting chapter of your life.
I know we don’t talk much about you in our sessions, but I really hope you live a happy and fulfilled life, because you really deserve it. You’ve given me a chance and I’m sure you’ve done the same for many others, so don’t forget to put yourself first and have some fun.
Life is too short to worry about the small things, that’s what you’ve taught me. And for every bad there is a good, so I’ll try hard not to forget that.
Thank you ever so much for everything you’ve done for me, and I wish you all the very best.”

And here’s poem I wrote for her representing my journey through our time together from first day of therapy to last:

Day 1 A scared and frightened girl
Day 2 Another day gone
Day 3 She nervously looked away
Day 4 She cried she’d never belong

Day 5 Scared, she opened her mouth
Day 6 Began to talk
Day 7 Let unleash the demons within
Day 8 Nothing went wrong

Day 9 She finally looked your way
Day 10 Smiled
Day 11 She took comfort from your words
Day 12 The time was worth your while

Day 13 progress began to take its place
Day 14 A glimmer of hope finally found
Day 15 She had a good night’s sleep
Day 16 Their friendship, tightly bound

Day 17 The time came to say goodbye
Day 18 But there was no time for tears
Day 19 For throughout all the pain
Day 20 You were always by my side

One of my favourite quotes from her letter to me:
“I hope you can continue this journey you have taken the courage to begin. If in doubt, be nice to yourself, compassion at the times we feel in pain, have stumbled, made mistakes are important. Practice this new voice, ‘I am nice, good, likeable’ and remember THE MIDDLE GROUND!”

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I drew her this. It may look simple enough, but the meaning behind it was the important thing. She gave me hope when I had none, and she’s helped me grow in so many ways. I drew this in biro without any guidelines or rubbings out to challenge my perfectionism just for her. I think she welled up a bit then.

If you’re reading this L, I truly hope you liked my essay of a goodbye letter, drawing and poem, and the present. You truly are incredible. I’ll miss you but I’ll be thinking of you and you’ve adventures. I won’t forget you and I hope you don’t forget me. Thank you for everything.

Anyway, so I have a new therapist/psychologist figure who we’ll call S, who I’ve met briefly but not had a session with yet. Fingers crossed things go ok, though even if it all went terribly I am still thankful for the wonderful help and support of L these last 6 months and beyond.

Thanks for reading.

Today I am thankful

Today, as you are probably already aware, is Christmas Day.
And I want to celebrate all that I am thankful for.
I am obviously thankful for my presents which are all lovely, but there are so many more important things that need celebrating and we might take for granted in day to day life.

I am thankful for my family, for their ever-supporting presence and their kindness and love. Yes, sometimes we may argue or my sisters might tease me, but at the end of the day I love them all the same.

I am thankful for my friends, I may not have many but the few who stuck by me are fantastic and have never faltered in their unconditional support. They are there to have a good laugh with, but are also a shoulder to cry on through tough times. I couldn’t wish for anything better.

Without my friends and family I would never have come so far in recovery, so I thank them most of all.

I am thankful for not only material things such as having a roof over my head, being able to go to a good school etc., but I’m also thankful for unsaid, non-psychical things.

I am thankful for my recovery. No matter how hard, no matter how many times I just want to be thin again, no matter how hard I may find it, it was the best choice I ever made. At times I feel like it wasn’t, that I should never have tried, but I know that is my demons talking, and I will not listen.

I am thankful for today. Seeing all my family is wonderful, and the excitement of Christmas is somewhat contagious. Yes I may still have underlying feelings of sadness and worthlessness, but I will not let them ruin this day. No. This day is a special one.

My aim is to make every day a special one like today.

I was worried about posting this, for fear of people thinking I was “lame”. I know if my sisters saw something like this they would laugh and roll their eyes, but why should being greatful and actually taking a moment to appreciate what we have a bad thing? It shouldn’t be, if everyone took the time to notice the small things in day today life and slowed down just that little bit, I think we would all be much better off.
And thus I concluded to publish this post anyway, doubts or no doubts, because at the end of the day if I never tried, how would I know what the reaction would be.

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope today is a good day, and today really try to beat your demons because you do deserve happiness. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, everyone deserves a second chance.

Thanks for reading.

A year today…

I was admitted as a day patient to the Priory exactly today last year. (Then after 1 month I was transferred to inpatient)

It’s weird how it’s been a whole year since I was first admitted.. It feels both more time and less time since I first went. Mostly it feels like less, I can’t believe a whole year has passed since then.

I feel like I’ve wasted so much of my life on this stupid illness, yet I find it creeping back on me all the time. I know I am much better, and that yes, maybe I have done well and come far, but I’ve still got a hell of a long way to go.

I ate so much today and I feel so guilty. But I’m trying as hard as I can to remember that it’s just a feeling (that I ate too much) and it will pass.
It’s ok to treat myself, it’s ok to nourish my body.
Weight fluctuates and there are days you’ll eat more and days you’ll eat less, and that’s ok.

As my friend so kindly said during our text conversation today, “You are definitely stronger and I know it’s hard but you must remember that you still have a slightly irrational part of your brain that’s telling you all the wrong things and telling you lies, because you certainly haven’t been a pig, and besides, last year you were critically ill and near death so I think it’s a very very good thing you’re not like that anymore.”.
I couldn’t thank her enough. It’s times like these when I am overwhelmingly thankful to have such amazing friends. True, I may not have many friends, but the ones I have are worth the world.

Anyway (let’s get back on track here), if my friend(s) can root for me and support me, then I must try my best to do the same for myself.
I will try to believe her words, try to believe my own logic, but it is hard.

Eating disorders are horrible, horrible things, but they are illnesses that can be beaten like any other.

Today I’ve eaten:
• 3 mini pan au chocolates
• 2 glasses of Apple juice
• A flake 99 ice cream in a tub
• A big serving of battered cod and chips with peas
• A glass of coke (full fat)
• 3 dark chocolate Kit Kat fingers
• Waffle, baked beans and fried egg
I feel like that’s so unhealthy but I don’t eat it every day and I’m trying to convince myself it’s ok.
I am not fat. I am not greedy. I am not fat. I am not greedy. I am not fat. I am not greedy. I am not fat. I am not greedy. I am not fat. I am not greedy. I am not fat. I am not greedy. [repeat until I believe it]

Tomorrow is halloween and I am both nervous and excited. I’m having a party which I’m really excited about, I’m just nervous about the food because I know I’m going to eat lots and I know I’m going to gain a shit load of weight.

Ah well, these are just the things you have to deal with if you are recovering from an eating disorder. And I personally would much rather be having a hard time while giving myself a chance of recovery and life, than having a hard time in my illness and just wasting my life with no hope of recovering and leaving it behind.

Thanks for reading.

My experience of inpatient treatment for anorexia.

So today I thought I’d share with you my experiences with inpatient treatment for anorexia.

Inpatient treatment is often a last resort for treating eating disorders, because you can easily pick up other bad habits from the other patients, and according to statistics if you go inpatient once, you are likely to relapse and go back again. Personally, I don’t believe the backing behind this research is strong enough, and from my point of view inpatient care is often the only solution for many.

Everyone has their own circumstances, and I personally was having huge struggles not only within myself and my disorder(s), but my dad was also diagnosed with cancer a few months into my recovery and was unable to help me any more. Obviously seeing one of my loved ones so sick had a huge impact on me, and although going away was hard it was what I needed. I also felt less guilty because I felt my mum and sister should be looking after and helping him not me, after all, it’s all in my head right? After over a year of recovery I am starting to accept that perhaps it wasn’t my fault, and although maybe my reasons behind feeling less guilty being inpatient weren’t the best, the inpatient experience was still of extreme use to me.

Originally I was admitted as a day patient (back in October 2013), but after exactly a month of being there I was transferred inpatient when my depression and suicidal thoughts were getting out of hand.
I was inpatient for several months, before returning to day patient and eventually being discharged in August 2014.

Day patient and inpatient are pretty similar; I went to the Priory in Roehampton and the day patients and inpatients share the same timetable/ living area, so apart from the evenings and sleeping arrangements it’s practically the same. Day patient can be a great alternative for many reasons, especially if you live close by and your parents want you at home. (Unfortunately I lived a 45minute drive away from the Priory, and driving there and back 6 days a week was pretty exhausting and left me with little time to shower and sleep).

The days had the following structure:
Breakfast at 8.00am (although they were always late!)
Education from 9-10.30, then we had a half hour break where people who who were on snacks had their snacks (depending on your meal plan), then people on walks went on a walk (depending on your weight and if you’re gaining/ maintaining as required).
Then back to education from 11-12.30.
Sometimes we’d have groups for 30mins before lunch, or we’d sit and chat in the lounge.
Lunch at 1-2pm.
2-3pm another therapy group
3-3.45 snack (again, for those on snacks)
3.45-4.45 another therapy
5-5.15 walk (again, for those on walks)
Sometimes we’d have groups from 5-5.30, but usually not as we all weren’t well and didn’t have great concentration, and the days just seemed so long.
Dinner was at 6pm, then we could shower from 8 onwards.
Night snack at 10pm, then we had ‘reflection’ where we shared our highs and lows of the day and set a goal for the next day, before being allowed to go to bed at 10.30pm (and it felt so late when you’re exhausted!)

We had the three meals a day which we were allowed 30 minutes to eat, and 15 minutes for puddings.
We then had an hour of supervision, where we were only allowed to go to the loo if we counted out loud (so they could check we weren’t doing anything) with staff outside the door.. (This, in case you were wondering, is actually a real challenge to do and also very awkward)

There were 2 tables; supervised and semi-supervised.
The supervised table was the one you started on where the staff could watch you and try to stop any food behaviours, such as cutting your food up too small or not mixing anything on your plate.
Everyone worked towards the semi-supervised table, where your plates would be checked after the meal, but you weren’t supervised during it.
When you’re stuck in a unit all day (and night) it felt like freedom, and the mixture of emotions I felt on my first day on that table are ones I’ll never forget. I was excited, nervous, proud, ashamed all at the same time; many of the conflicting emotions being my eating disorder. But this transition helped me feel more in control of my recovery, like I was the one making the choice to recover, which was both terrifying and exciting. I think that is an important step for anyone’s recovery.

Another meal time privilege you got after making significant progress and proving yourself to the staff was self-serving. This meant that, under supervision and guidance, you got to portion/ serve your own meals. You still got the same amount, but again, it was this feeling of responsibility and showing (not only to the staff, but to yourself too) that you could do it that mattered.

Everyone took part in the following therapies:
• Food behaviours
• Therapy group
• Drama therapy
• Drumming
• RO-DBT
• Games therapy
• Food and me
• Body image
• CBT
• Everyone had a key worker and co-worker who you would talk to each week. You also had ward round once a week where you’d get to talk to your Doctor and key worker about your care plan and discuss leave.

We were also offered extra activities depending on your weight/ stage of recovery, such as:
• Snack cookery
• Outings
• Swimming
• Exercise
• Yoga
• Dance and movement

A few things I liked about it:
I made some incredible lifelong friends, and for once in my life felt like people understood me and I could relate with others in how I felt.
We were given so many different therapies and I felt like I actually had a chance at recovery.
They don’t pressure you to leave and want you to feel ready before you’re discharged.
There were people there struggling from various eating disorders and at various stages of recovery, and the sense of community and helping each other along was great. Seeing people nearing the end of their treatment was also inspiring and a goal to work towards.

A few things I disliked about it:
The other patients could also be triggering, and I found it hard being around so many other underweight people and feeling like the biggest there, but in a way I guess it helped me learn to cope with being around thin people in a controlled and safe environment.
Being away from home, especially when Dad was ill, was hard and I felt bad for inconveniencing my family.

I hope that this post gave an idea of what inpatient treatment is like and was helpful, though obviously treatment varies from place to place.

Inpatient treatment saved my life, I know I could never have recovered without it (I was with CAHMS for 6 months before I was admitted to the Priory, and I only ever got worse with them and made no progress at all), so even though I was there for 10 months, I wouldn’t change it if I could. I have learnt so many useful skills, and I couldn’t be more greatful. True, some may not have worked for me, but we’re all different and that’s ok.

I hope that through this blog I’ll be able to share what I’ve learnt and inspire others in their recovery, and I also
If I help just one person then this blog is worthwhile and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for reading.

The Priory Hospital, Roehampton
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