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. 

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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.

The Weight of Eating Disorders

As a victim of an eating disorder, I know that there is one ultimate secret that is hard to hide… Weight.

The numbers consume you. No matter how small they go, they crush you in their seeming enormity. Others may ask, but never will you let them know how ‘huge’ you really are.

Since I’ve been in recovery I’ve learnt that often victims of eating disorders don’t see their body how they truly are, often associated with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). However, this new piece of knowledge does not provide much comfort for the agonising pulling and pinching of your body.

No matter how many or how often people tell you you’re not fat, your view of yourself doesn’t change.
So your weight drops and the numbers plummet, you forever hoping that maybe one day you will look in the mirror and like what you see.

“Maybe if lose a few more pounds I’ll be happier in my own skin”

If only it were as simple as that.

You see, eating disorders aren’t kind and forgiving like you and I; they’re out to cause pain and will not stop at attempting to do so. A few pounds lost, the voice tells you “not good enough” and “just a few pounds more, then you can stop“.
The pounds come off, but the ‘stop’ is never reached.

Even now that I am in recovery and dedicated to it, telling people what I weigh (e.g. my parents) never ceases to be a challenge.

I got weighed today and the ultimate question was asked; “give this [weight record] to your dad on the way out won’t you?”. And did I? No. Instead I folded the sheet as small as it would go, shoved it in my pocket and hoped dad wouldn’t ask. He didn’t.

You might be reading this thinking, “Ok, so I get that eating disorders are hard… But what’s the point in telling us about it?”. The simple answer is, for awareness.

If no one knew about cancer how could anyone possibly help support that person, let alone diagnose it! It’s no different for eating disorders and other mental health issues.
When I first went (/was taken) to the GP with eating issues, he told me it was ‘just a phase’. If anorexia counts as a ‘phase’, then yes, yes it is. But somehow I think that it is not.

If more people understood and knew about these disorders, and if the stigma behind eating disorders and mental health issues were broken, maybe more people would be correctly diagnosed and treated, with more support all round and therefore higher success levels?
And isn’t even that possibly, no matter how small, worth investing in? Just a thought to leave you with.

Thanks for reading.

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The monster of mental health [my original artwork]

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I wanted a way to express myself other than destructive things or writing things down where I would dwell even more on my thoughts. Doing this piece of art has been a big release and helps me identify how I feel.

This is my idea and I didn’t use a reference, I’m not very good at art but I like how this turned out I think.. To me it helps represent the thoughts and feelings that come with depression, eating disorders, and other mental health issues where you feel isolated and overwhelmed.
If more people knew what it felt like and how hard it was, people would be more accepting, understanding and supportive? You can always hope.

I had so many things to write, I didn’t even fit them all in!

[Reposts and reblogs are welcome, but please give credit]

Thanks for reading.

What do you want to read?

I’ve got quite a few ideas for posts, but I don’t know which are more appealing/ interesting? Seeing as you are the readers, I thought it would be best to ask for your opinion.

Here are some of my post ideas/ options for me to post about:
• Life is like a loo roll (an analogy I made up but personally think is totally accurate)
• Why I hate the term ‘anorexic’
• How to make peace even if you don’t necessarily think you were in the wrong
• More poems/ pieces of creative writing I’ve done
• Other drawings I did and the meaning behind them [see my last drawing post here]
• Posts on certain therapies (CBT, DBT, Mindfulness, music etc.)
• Exercises for each of these therapies, or general overviews?
• More about my personal experiences

So, what ideas stick out to you? What would you like to read?
I made this blog to reach out to people and raise awareness, so I want this blog to be not just about me and my experiences, but you and your experiences too.

I would be absolutely delighted to do have guest posts/ do an interview with anyone who is interested, I’m open to suggestions of that nature too so please feel free to email me at myjourneywithrecovery@gmail.com if that appeals to you.

Thanks for reading.

Shackled to life

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Drawn on 24/11/2013.

I had to edit over my signature as this is an anonymous blog and I didn’t want to share my full name, so sorry about that. Apart from that, the photo is unedited.

I’m not great at drawing but I would love to know your thoughts on this.
For me, drawing and poetry both really helped and continue to help me express myself. They don’t have to be amazing works of art/literature; mine personally were just for me to see and to feel like the emotions were ok to feel? I don’t know if that makes sense. Basically, there is no need to ignore emotions, because they are important and it’s ok to feel upset or down.

We wouldn’t know happiness if we had never first felt sadness.

In this particular drawing I was feeling hopeless and trapped, with nowhere to go and constantly being judged and imprisoned in my mind (link to the blog name!) , and constantly tied to your illness with no separation of you vs. your illness. I also felt (and still feel) trapped in life, not being able to leave, and feeling stuck in a world where you don’t belong.
And, for me, this is what the drawing represents.

If you’d like to use this drawing please go ahead, but make sure you give this blog credit and link it here.

Thanks for reading.