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All posts for the month August, 2012

Decisions, Decisions…

Published 30 August, 2012 by ladyem83

Am I stubborn? Am I a fraud?  Am I in denial? Am I a coward?

I know I’m tired of thinking.  I’m so tired of the two personae who are occupying my mind and I wonder whether either of them is actually the ‘real me’.  I just can’t figure this out.

My dietician has queried whether I’m able to overcome this at home or whether I would benefit more from being admitted to a specialist eating disorder unit to get the support I need.

For weeks, deep down a part of me has been wanting inpatient treatment.  I was jealous (!) of a girl I heard of who had gone to America to get the treatment she needed.  But why do I want inpatient treatment?  Because I’m not sure whether I am capable of making the decisions around food that need to be made if I’m to gain weight.  I am so uncomfortable with anything that falls outside my list of safe foods so I won’t entertain the thought of putting them inside me.  Even today I’m querying whether I’ve been greedy by having an apple as an afternoon snack, which is ridiculous! It’s fruit, not a king size Mars Bar!!

On the ‘inside’, so to speak, I would have no choice over the food I eat or don’t.  I often feel that I need permission to eat something that is out of my comfort zone.  I have to think carefully about it, know its nutritional value and be able to justify eating it.  I would be handing control over to them and they would give me the permission that I can’t give myself.

So that would be good for me.  I would have support, I would learn and re-learn.

But, then again, on the ‘inside’ I have no control.  There are foods that I just don’t want to eat.  I want the foods that are on my clean, safe list. And I promise, the list is varied, I even tried a couple of spoonfuls of haggis the other week! (Yes, I’m a haggis lover! I don’t dwell on its ingredients and you most likely won’t agree with me, but it’s tasty!)

I think that I’m eating sufficient to keep myself going. Granted, ‘Bringing me Back: Part I Get Serious’ is evidence to the contrary. But what will happen if I loose all my control (perceived control)? Well, I know what will happen, I’ve written it here.  So why, when I re-read that is it like reading the words of somebody else?  Why over the last few days can I only think that if I hand my control over I will let slip of everything I have, everything I know.  The rug will be yanked from underneath me and I will go hurtling downwards.

I also worry that I’m not sufficiently ‘ill’ to warrant being an inpatient.  I’ve read accounts of others who suffer so very much, who struggle infinitely more than I do.  They warrant that support, I really don’t think I do.  I think I can get by as I am.

I read of others who are battling this.  They’re trying hard. Am I really trying hard? I don’t think so.  I think I’m staying in my comfort zone because I’m a coward.  Where do they find the strength to push themselves out of their comfort zones? Why am I so weak?

It’s so confusing.  I’m so confused.  I can’t straighten my thoughts out.  I can’t find that single decisive common voice in me which I can trust and act on.  For every single thought I have there is a counter argument which is seems equally as rational.

I don’t know where to go from here.  I really don’t.

More than a rollercoaster ride.

Published 28 August, 2012 by ladyem83

I’m tired of the psychological fairground ride I’m on.  It only takes the slightest of triggers (perceptible or not)  and my mindset flips to that of Ana. I can be ‘up’ one day: confident; happy; optimistic; and just as quickly I can be ‘down’ the next day: insecure, questioning, confused; tired.  The in between time is spent spinning around on a waltzer of confusion, challenges and counter-challenges.

The waltzer’s strobe lights try to blind my rational views with new ideas, new ways to cheat, new ways to be ‘clever’, new ways to deceive.  The music blaring tries to drown out my timid voice of reason.  I’m gripping the handrail of this waltzer for dear life.  My eyes are shut tight against the disorientating light.  I’m trying to shout above the thumping music. I’m trying to focus on my centre, remain grounded, fight the incredible G-force that is trying to throw me out.

Why did I wake up on Monday morning not feeling comfortable with myself?  Why did I have to keep myself busy all day?  Why was I afraid of stopping, thinking?  Why did I feel that I didn’t deserve to be?

If I’m having a ‘wobble’ day then anything I perceive to be a slight against me strikes me to my very core and my immediate reaction is to punish myself.

When my best friend told me her boyfriend had proposed I swelled with happiness for her, and then in the split second that followed I told myself: that will never happen to me, it only further cements the truth that I’m not worthy of anybody.

When somebody said my writing wasn’t quite the right subject for their website I interpreted it as a personal dismissal of me.  I’m not good enough a person, I’ve failed.

My only coping mechanism is to punish myself by restricting my eating. After all, I don’t deserve to food!

Right now, other than breakfast and dinner (which I’m comfortable with, providing they’re my safe foods) anything else needs to be justified.  What have I done to deserve that treat?  Have I been sufficiently active to burn it off?  Have I done something good so that it will constitute a treat for myself?  Do I deserve that treat?

I spoke about this with my dietician this morning.  I am all too aware that feeding my body is not rewarding it but rather fuelling and nurturing it, allowing it to grow, repair and rebuild.

But I feel disconnected from my body.  My body is my outlet:  the target of my fears, failures and anxieties.

I baked a cake yesterday with no intention of eating any.  After dinner, however, I thought it would be nice to sit with a cup of tea and a slice of cake.  I thought about it and decided that I would.  I enjoyed it.  Banana and hazelnut.  Deliciously moist, fruity, crunchy and fresh.  The perfect accompaniment to my Earl Grey tea.

Afterwards I sobbed until the tears ran dry.  Ana was telling me that I’d been weak; that I hadn’t done anything which deserved that cake; it was empty food and eaten out of my sheer indulgence and greed.

STOP!

I heard Ana’s words and recognised the malice in them.  Those words weren’t nurturing, they weren’t caring, they weren’t protecting me.

THINK!

I had only eaten a piece of cake.  That one piece of cake was not going to make me fat.  It was not going to damage me.  I deserved to enjoy a piece of the cake which I had baked for no other reason than I wanted to try it!

ALLOW!

I made a promise to myself at the weekend that I would start each day afresh.  I wouldn’t allow one day’s negativity to permeate and infect my new day.  I would take strength and encouragement from the positives and carry them forward with pride into my new day.

My instinct had been to restrict my eating today to compensate for the cake; but that’s not in keeping with my promise.

So, I acknowledged my feelings.  I accepted that Ana’s voice had plagued me and tried to break me.  I forgave myself for letting Ana in.  I recognised that I had found some strength to challenge Ana’s rationale.  I promised that tomorrow would be a new day.  I would face tomorrow’s challenges afresh.

I’d love to say that I slept soundly in the comfort of my own words but it wasn’t so.  I questioned, I deliberated, I worried, I doubted, I went around and around on the violent spinning circles of the waltzer; overlapping, tangling, spiralling, colliding circles.

Where am I this morning?  I’m not sure why I’m trying to change, I don’t feel like I’m doing it for myself, out of pride for myself, out of love for, or interest in myself.

But today is a new day.  So I tell myself:

I am deserving. I’m allowed to be happy.

I am worthy.  I’m allowed to nurture myself.

I give myself permission to be happy.

I give myself permission to be open to other people and other experiences.

I forgive myself.

I accept myself.

NOW I MUST NOW LEARN TO BELIEVE THEM & EMBODY THEM.

Bringing Me Back: Get Serious

Published 25 August, 2012 by ladyem83

I wrote this in my posting dated 22 August 2012:

“I have one strong voice telling me that I’m in control, happy and healthy and it’s ok not to have lunch, or just have a yoghurt or Ryvita for  lunch because I feel fit and well and my body doesn’t need the excess calories.”

The very next day was the wake up call I needed and, more importantly, must not forget.

Last week was a busy week.  Whereas usually I intersperse my days resting at home with a couple of days out in town, last week I was dashing about in town every day.  This meant getting up at 5.30am for breakfast, then maybe an apple mid-morning, a fat free yoghurt and perhaps some fruit at lunch and then home for an evening meal. That was what I always used to do.  I’ve never eaten out at lunchtime and my body could always handle it.

Thursday was different.

I went into town on a breakfast of three slices of wholemeal toast (I love bread and decided to ‘treat’ myself to an extra slice as I knew I could burn it off walking about).

I then went to Starbucks for a coffee and later met a friend for coffee at lunchtime, when I had a Chai Tea Latte.  Sometimes I take this milky drink as my lunch, telling myself that it has carbohydrates, protein and calcium, approximately 250 calories, and so is a ‘balanced lunch’ (!)

As I left my friend and walked (power walked) back into town I started to feel what I can only describe as drunk.  My eyes didn’t feel quite connected to my brain.  I couldn’t quite get a grip on what I was seeing, I felt that I was processing it with a second or two’s delay.  My body didn’t feel connected to my head.  I was walking but didn’t feel I was part of my body.  I felt like the messages weren’t getting to my brain with the zippy speed they usually do.

Food.  I knew I needed something to eat.  But, why?  I’d had eaten the same, if not a little more than I had yesterday and I’d done the same amount of walking, so why did I feel like this?

I dug into my bag for my extra apple thinking the sugar would give me the kick I needed.  I didn’t feel the rush.

I went and bought a tub of yoghurt, ate it and waited for the rush.  It didn’t come.

I sat on a bench waiting for my body to reconnect with my head again.  I kept telling myself not to be so weak, that I was just tired after only a few hours sleep the night before.  But, that was ‘Ana’ speaking.

My voice tentatively put forward another suggestion:  I simply hadn’t eaten sufficient.  Whereas my body normally puts up with running on a near empty tank (and I like that feeling), its fuel light was now flashing vigorously and it was stalling.  My body wasn’t going to stand for it anymore and it was giving me the message frighteningly loud and clear!

I told myself to pull it together and go to the library, which is where I’d been heading.

The entrance to the library is through a stunning Victorian hall, with decorative tiling, grand archways and marble columns.  Once a reading room for the library it is now home to a charming cafe, offering a selection of delicious homemade salads, soups, sandwiches and cakes.

I cast my eye over the counter and carefully considered each of the options.  My gut (excuse the pun!) was telling me I needed more food.  This was nothing more than fuel.   Ana said, I’d already eaten two apples, a yoghurt and the latte, how much more could I possibly need!?

Salmon salad:  No.  Soup: Can’t. Sandwiches: Absolutely not! Cake: Don’t deserve it.

I sat by the window as the tears welled up. I was hungry, so very hungry and tired. I couldn’t move.  The tears overflowed and rolled down my cheeks.  I needed fuel but couldn’t bring myself to put anything in.

I felt utterly alone, lost and confused.  Who could I talk to?

I could call my dietician, but she probably would be in an appointment and Ana persuaded me not to.

I could call my Mum and she would give me the nurturing, rational words that I needed to hear so badly.  Those words would give me the permission to eat, to fuel up. But Ana told me that if I called her and admitted this weakness then that would give Mum ammunition; another example to throw back at me when I’m telling her that, ‘I’m fine, I eat enough in relation to what I do’.

But I was frightened and I couldn’t move.

I called Mum and broke down.  My Mum is truly wonderful. How she knows instinctively how to act in and react to a situation like this I don’t know.

When I told her that I was trembling with hunger but couldn’t eat anything in the cafe all she said was,

 ‘Stay there, I’m coming to get you. Your salad is here and you can eat that.’

We were driving to visit relatives that afternoon and would arrive too late for dinner so I had prepared a tuna salad earlier which she had in her office.

She dropped everything at work and came. She has done this too many times for me over the last 9 months.  In the moment, she doesn’t lecture, she just rescues me.  Yes, we then discuss it later but she never judges.

I ate the tuna salad and half a bread bun (under duress!) which Mum bought for me as my salad contained no carbs (of course it didn’t!).

As my sugar levels normalised, Ana got her voice back and she’s been nagging me ever since:

“That was just a blip because you were tired.”

“You don’t always react like that, you’re stronger than that.”

“Keep being strong, you don’t need all these extra calories, they’re just going to fester in you.  You like the feeling of running on almost empty.”

“Nobody else has eaten lunch.  Stop listening to your tummy’s grumbles. If you ask for food, you’re indulging in greed.” – Nodbody else had eaten lunch because they’d had a cooked breakfast for brunch.  I’d had 25g of porridge made with water and some chopped fruit.

But being honest with myself, I didn’t like crumbling into tears like that.  In that moment I hated being a prisoner to the anorexic regime.  Why couldn’t I just eat?! It wasn’t greed, it wasn’t indulgence, it wasn’t a treat, it was desperately needed fuel!!

As part of my therapy sessions I have to consider the benefits of living with Ana and what will happen if I leave her behind.

1. Living with Ana gives me: 

1.1 Control; strength; protection; a feeling of empowerment.

1.2 Panic attacks; confusion; exhaustion (physical and mental); guilt.

2. Living without Ana would give me:

2.1 Liberation; the ability to care for myself with no guilt; a feeling of empowerment through owning my body and my mind completely.

2.2 Fear; a sense of weakness; a lack of purpose, a loss of control.

On balance:

The words listed at 1.1. are false perceptions: I am not in control, Ana controls me; am not strong, Ana is; I am not protected, I am vulnerable and Ana is destroying me; Iam not empowered, I am subservient to Ana.

So what does Ana really do? She causes all those feelings listed at 1.2, she makes me unhappy, unhealthy and a mere shadow of myself.

What will living free from Ana really do? I won’t be weak, I’ll have taken positive, healthy control. I won’t be lost, I’ll have a healthy focus, I’ll be living for myself! I’ll be free, happy and able to live a whole life. 

I’m starting to see the shining light of an Ana-free life.  I had it once and I was so content!

I’ve been increasingly ‘talking the talk’ but I haven’t been ‘walking the walk’ and I need to get serious! I need to stop trying to recover and instead recover!

‘Recover’ is a verb, a ‘doing’ word, and I need to do some doing!

I’ve been reading the accounts of others who are going through, or have been through this battle (I’ve put links to their sites here) and their words, together with my slowly increasingly strong voice are awakening a determination in me.

I do want to be free.  I am scared to challenge Ana but I don’t deserve to be her slave.

The battle will be exactly that; a battle.  I’ll hurt, I’ll wonder whether I can do it, I’ll wonder why I’m putting myself through it and I’ll be scared.

But, I’m going to be the victor.  There’s no way that I’m not. I know I’m a strong character, I’ve worked hard in the past to get where I am today. 

It’s time to get serious and put me first.

I now have to hang on to and apply this sense of determination and will in every second of the day and that will be the hardest part.

Bringing me back: Part I

Published 22 August, 2012 by ladyem83

Who is ‘me’?

What a question?!

In fact, so difficult a question is it to answer that I have just spent an hour writing here only now to delete it all!

I think it will serve us well to give some context to this posting. Here are some pertinent excerpts from my journal:

25 June 2012

Day 1.  This is my umpteenth “Day 1”.  A day when I feel empowered, motivated, in control.  The day I’ve chosen to start making changes (…for real this time….no really, I promise). 

It’s 4.15pm and this Day 1 has consisted of me doing two exercise videos, which I haven’t touched for weeks, restricting my lunch to two Ryvita with pastrami and 1 Ryvita with marmite.

 When I walked upstairs before and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror “FRAUD” was stamped over it.  I dismissed it (denial is one of my strongest abilities and one of my greatest weaknesses).  Even as I pushed the screen of my laptop open, I readjusted it downwards so that I couldn’t see the reflection of my face.

The reflection evidences a truth which contradicts my feeling of empowerment and self-control today.  The reflection is one of a girl dressed in a black tracksuit, with her hair drawn back off her un-made up face.  So, if that’s the truth I don’t want to see, why aren’t I making real changes? 

***

 I just can’t quite find the real me, the one I want to fight to bring back.  All I come up with is a girl who is confused, unsure and doesn’t really feel like she’s worth bringing out to show the world.  How do I find the answer? How do I find the real me again?  Why am I worth it?”

27 June 2012

Yes, I admit that I am in denial.  I don’t believe I have a problem.  I don’t associate this word ‘anorexia’ with myself.  I use it, because other people around me do.  But, I’m cutting back again.

I went out yesterday in my lovely white Capri trousers, heels, bright top and a smart jacket.  Getting dressed up used to make me feel a million dollars, irrespective of how the rest of the world saw me; that never crossed my mind because I felt great.

 Yesterday I’d put the smart clothes on but my heart wasn’t in it.  I kept my eyes trained to the pavement in front of me and only dared look up every now and then.  If I caught somebody’s eye I wondered why they were looking at me.  It was probably because my hair was looking messy and they thought I looked ridiculous.

Every time I walked past a group of women I waited to listen for their comments, waited to hear them say how skinny and terrible I looked.  When I caught the eye of a couple of guys looking at me, I wondered why?  What did they see?  Do they think I’m attractive?  Do they think I’m weird? 

If I’m truthful I want back that old feeling of ‘who the hell cares what you think because I think I look good today!!’ 

Whether or not I was smiling on the outside, I used to smile on the inside.  I felt there was a world of possibilities and opportunities out there for me.  I was hopeful and excited about the future, the future that I was in control of. 

But, to stay ‘sane’ (!) I don’t dwell on those thoughts.  I bury my head in the sand and love the peace that denial affords me.  How long can I keep doing that for and what will the impact be?      

28 June 2012

I’ve been deceiving myself and worse, I’ve known it and I haven’t had the strength, or the will to change.  I’ve been a coward. I’ve favoured denial over the scary truth. 

I haven’t liked the reflection of myself that these diary entries have been showing me.  I didn’t used to be a coward.  I used to fight for myself.  In fact, along this road, sat in the mental hospital, I fought for them not to section me.  I was the real me again.  I spoke with conviction and strength and the old me dominated. 

This may be self-indulgent but perhaps it’s worth it.  Hell, it is worth it.  I’M WORTH IT!!!

Let me introduce you to me:  She’s tall, slim with blonde hair and blue eyes.  When she gets the giggles, boy, does she get the giggles!  She’s a little bit ditzy but she’s clever.  She’s a snob and will readily admit it!  She’s a lady and loves being a lady.  When she steps out she smiles inside because she’s taken time to do her hair and make up and she’s thought about what she’s going to wear.  She feels pretty.

Inside, she’s now got the confidence and inner peace she never had when she was growing up.  She doesn’t walk with her head down anymore thinking that everybody is looking at her and thinking she was ugly and strange.  She knows herself; the good, the bad and the ugly sides (ugly in the sense of those character traits that we really should try and get rid of or at least not let raise their heads so often).  She has direction and she knows what she wants from life:  a stable, good, challenging and rewarding career; a family of her own that she can love, nurture and care for, like the family unit she grew up in; and quiet contentment.

That’s the me that I want to be again. 

This other girl is ravaged by a sense of worthlessness.  She’s let herself be lost to all her doubts.  When other people have hurt her she’s not allowed the wound to heal into a faint scar, to just be another one of life’s lessons.  Instead, she’s done everything to keep the wound from healing, she’s let the wound consume her body and she’s let an infection slowly spread through her.  That infection has now taken a form of its own and has infected each cell of her body. 

Now is the time to start healing.”

So, where am I and who am I right now?  I don’t know.  I’ve moved on somewhat from the place where I wrote those entries.

On the one hand, I now feel confident, happy, optimistic, engaged in my life and in control. I walk down the street with my head held high and a smile on my face.  I am engaging more with people, I’m not scared of catching their eye.  I’m beginning to believe that I count in this world, that I do have value, and, more importantly I don’t need any outside influence to make me feel like this.  I’ve had to put a lot of work in to feel like this and I’ve had to step out of some of my comfort zones in order to get here.

But, on the other hand, there are wobble days; days when something throws me off kilter.  It can be the number on the bathroom scales, a bloated feeling in my tummy making me think I’m fat, or my own guilt.   A niggling doubt that I’m deceiving myself again, that I’m not who I think I am, that I’m not worthy of the things other people have.

I have one strong voice telling me that I’m in control, happy and healthy and it’s ok not to have lunch, or just have a yoghurt or Ryvita for  lunch because I feel fit and well and my body doesn’t need the excess calories.

I have another voice telling me that I’m deceiving myself, that I’ve still got a problem, that I’m still engaging in anorexic behaviour.  Today, I thought I’d try lunch out (for the first time in months).  I trawled around the cafes, lingering far too long and asking too many questions about the content of their salad boxes.  There seemed to be nothing that I considered safe, or that I felt I wanted.  And eating out at lunchtime, on my own?!  I don’t need or deserve that!

The confusing thing is that I’m letting myself believe the first voice to be the real me, and I want it to be the real me because I don’t want to go back to the Dark Days. So that’s the one I’m listening to.

But, if I’m utterly honest, I suspect the other voice is my conscience letting me know that although I feel  happy, I’m not looking after myself the way I should.

Whereas once my anorexic voice wasn’t allowing me to be happy, she’s now changed tack and relinquished some control but is still keeping me strictly in check.  I feel happy with this, this is my comfort zone.  It’s like me and anorexia have reached a compromise:  I’ll be good and restrict, if she lets me be happy.

I don’t know what the reason is for changing this status quo.

Let me introduce myself…

Published 19 August, 2012 by ladyem83

Over the last few months I’ve wondered about writing a blog but something has always held me back.  I love to write, I have so many journals and never struggle to spill my thoughts onto a page.  But, a blog is so…public!  What have I got to say?  Are my thoughts worthy of other people’s attention? Will anybody be interested in little old me?

The time wasn’t right before but it is now. Why now?  Because now I’m moving further away from what I’ve come to term as ‘The Dark Days’.  I won’t delve into the details of those days right now; no doubt, however, when the context calls for it a reference can be made.   Now, the time is right because I can confidently answer the three questions above respectively with a resounding:  “Lots!”; “Absolutely!”; and “So what if they’re not?!”

So, that’s what this blog is about: me and my meanderings along my ‘Yellow Brick Road’.  That road from the well loved tale, The Wizard of Oz, along which Dorothy journeys to find her way back home.  This blog will tell of the tornado that ripped apart my world; the new life I found myself in; the truest companions who helped me along the way and what they taught me; and how, ultimately, I’m finding my way to take the tornado broken pieces of my old ‘home’, dust some of the good old pieces off, add in some new parts and build a myself a new ‘home’.

It feels good to be starting this.  I don’t know where it will lead me, but that’s ok; being comfortable with the unknown and the uncontrollable are my first steps.

So, I’ll finish this inaugural post firstly by saying thank you for reading and, hopefully accompanying me, and finally with this quote said by the Witch of the North to Dororthy:

‘ “You must walk. It is a long journey, through a country that is sometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible. However, I will use all the magic arts I know of to keep you from harm.”

“Won’t you go with me?” pleaded the girl, who had begun to look upon the little old woman as her only friend.

“No, I cannot do that,” she replied, “but I will give you my kiss, and no one will dare injure a person who has been kissed by the Witch of the North.”

She came close to Dorothy and kissed her gently on the forehead. Where her lips touched the girl they left a round, shining mark, as Dorothy soon found out later.” ‘

[Baum, L. Frank (Lyman Frank) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (2012-05-16) (p. 14)]

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