The Inner Dialogue

Published 11 November, 2012 by ladyem83

Wake up.

Emma:  It’s breakfast time.  Am I hungry? Should I have something to eat?  Breakfast is a normal thing to have.  Do I need it?  If I do have something to eat what should I have?  Toast or porridge?  Which is better?  If I have toast then how much?  If I have toast then I’ll have jam or Flora on it too.  What about the fat and sugar?  How do I calculate those calories?  Or maybe I should have porridge.  But if I have porridge should I put some chopped apple in?  I like that but I don’t need it.  What do I feel like eating?  I don’t know.  Do I feel hungry?  I don’t know.  I can feel something in my tummy but is that hunger or greed?  Should I feel hungry now?  If I’m not hungry and I eat breakfast then what does that make me; greedy, weak, fat?

Makes toast and a cup of tea.

Emma:  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I’m not sure I want it.

Takes a bite.

Emma:  I love Marmite on toast! But what’s it doing to me?

Ana:  You’ve given in again.  Why are you eating this when I told you that you don’t need it?!  Getting pleasure from eating is weak and only leads to bad things.  You’ll get fat, and weak and disgusting.  Remember how it used to be, remember how strong you felt with those pangs of hunger in your tummy.   You were stronger than everyone else because you felt them but didn’t give in to them.  That was good!  You’ve been giving in this week so much but no more.   I want to test your strength.  I know you can do it.  You deserve to be punished for what you’ve done.  You should bake your fruit cake.  I know you love the moist, brandy infused fruit and the warming taste of cinnamon and mixed spice.  I was there when you ate it last week.  You enjoyed it.  That’s not the way.  That food is dirty and dead.  It does nothing but infect your body with fat and sugar.  See how your face is ballooning, see how your stomach is swelling, even your wrists, your fingers, your feet.  Fat is getting everywhere and all because you listened to other people instead of me.  They want to you to be vulnerable.  They want you to be like them, they don’t want to see you exhibiting the willpower they can never have.  So you’ll bake the cake but you won’t eat a single crumb.  You may want it but you don’t need it.  I promise you that if you don’t eat the cake, I’ll make you happier than food could ever make you.  I’ll make your body look beautifully lean again.  Your arms will be slim, the contour of your shoulders will be sleek.  That’s what you want.  That will make you happy again.  Being strong makes you happy.  You don’t need to eat those things.  They won’t make you happy.  You have nothing without me.  You are nothing without me but weak, fallible.

Emma:  But what about these words:   ‘I can promise that while you might have been lighter in February, you didn’t look healthy. The pleasure from food isn’t one to run from. Your body needs food. If you give Ana these wins, you’re getting her one step closer to her ultimate goal – to take you away from everyone who loves you. She will kill you. Food is your ammunition and you need to fight with everything you’ve got.’ I think there’s truth in these words.  Remember February, Em.  Remember how your eyes had no life, remember catching the reflection of yourself in the mirror and seeing the shape of the Scream mask.  Remember how you shivered with cold all the time.  You haven’t had a bath for 10 months because you can’t get comfortable on the hard surface.  You haven’t had a meal out with the girls, or spent a full weekend with them for months.  You used to love your weekends with the girls, long lunches with a bottle of wine then getting glammed up and going out for a late dinner and drinks.  You loved walking down the street with them.  Remember how proud you felt to be part of that three-strong friendship group.   Now when you look at them all you see is two wonderful, beautiful shining stars who don’t deserve to be dragged down by your presence.  They’re everything you want to be.  They’re happy, they have loving partners, they’re building lives you dreamed of having.  Do I deserve to have that?  Is it even possible for me to have that?  I don’t think it’s meant for me.  I believe those things happen to other people.  I’ve learnt that.   I’ve learnt that they’re the good ones, they deserve the love of someone else.  I’m the one who fails, makes poor judgments.  People have shown that I don’t matter to them, they saw me as nothing more than a pawn in their game; disposable and unimportant.  So it’s best that I don’t get involved, that I stay on the periphery where it’s safe.

But then I re-read those words above.

In chess a pawn can be promoted to any other piece of its player’s choosing if it reaches the opponent’s side of the board.

I was never a victim.  I never let myself be walked over.  I always found a way to play to my voice, to do what was good for me and what I knew to be true.

I’m getting angry; really, really angry.

Why am I letting the effects of those two people ruin me?  Why am I allowing Ana to beat me down?  Why do I believe that I don’t deserve to have the things I dreamed of having as a little girl?  Why don’t I deserve to be happy?  Why do I believe that I am not enough, not good enough?

If I walk back into Ana’s arms, I will never find the answers to those questions.  I will only continue to believe their mantra.

‘Permission is the paradox that gives control.’  By allowing myself to be free, to be forgiven, to be myself, to accept myself, to like myself, to be proud of myself, I regain control.  I am allowing Ana to control me now.  All I need to do is allow myself to control me.

I’m so very very tired.  I’m so fed up of so much of my time being consumed by the endless circles of discussion going on in my head.  The constant questions, fears, arguments, tears.

But I have always worked hard to get the things I want.  This is another thing I have to work hard at.  This is undoubtedly the biggest challenge and the stakes have never been higher.  But could there really be a better goal to work towards than a happy life?

The Next Round

Published 9 November, 2012 by ladyem83

I clung to my Mum and cried desperately.  My fingers dug hard into her shoulders.  Don’t let me go, Mum.  Pull me back.  Ana’s pulling me hard.  She’s twisting the knife hard into my stomach. She hates me.  She’s making me suffer.  With every last little drop of will I am trying  to stand up to her. But it hurts.

I slept yesterday afternoon and on waking I just sat.  I knew something was different.  I was still not out of choice, but out of fear.  If I moved, I feared waking the dragon.  If I parted my lips I was afraid of what would go in.  I knew I couldn’t eat dinner.  I visualised the alternative meal options but I could not imagine any of them inside me.  I could not imagine allowing food or liquid to penetrate my self.

So when Mum arrived home later than usual I lied and told her I’d had dinner.

Mum, please question me.  Please doubt me.  If you ask me I know I won’t be able to lie to you but I can’t defy Ana and offer you the truth. You have to ask me for it.

She didn’t question; not out loud anyway.

I willed her to ask if I was OK.

My mind was spinning on repeat: skipping dinner was wrong; it was a backward step.  But you don’t need dinner.  You’re stronger without it.  Feel that hollowness in your tummy; that’s strength, that’s your power.

Mum finally asked and I told her:  I can’t put anything inside me, Mum.

She suggested marmite on toast.  I considered the strong, savoury, salty taste and felt disgust.  No.  I suggested a piece of plain toast.

Dry toast. …that’s not a real meal.   That’s cheating.

Mum offered to share some of her dinner with me.  I accepted, but I didn’t want anything to do with it.  Could she prepare it and bring it to me? If I got involved with its preparation I was complicit in allowing this violation.

She brought the plate in and I ate four slices of courgette and a small fork full of meat.  It felt thick, stodgy, dirty and toxic.

I kept going.

It’s just food.  It’s fuel.  It’s your body’s medicine.

I eventually finished.

I turned to Mum and held on to her tightly as I cried.

I was being attacked from the inside by this poison I’d just ingested.  I physically felt it spreading its way throughout my body, infecting each inch of me with poisonous thick gloop.  It was clinging to my body and I was growing fatter and dirtier by the second.

My body and mind had turned against me in a vicious attack.  The ability of the mind to inflict so much distress and pain on itself is terrifying.

Mum wrapped me in her arms and stroked my hair as she told me I was safe.  What I had done was good.  It was the vicious disease making me feel like this.  I’d been strong and showed the disease that I wasn’t going to give in to it.   All I’d done was give my body what it needs to get a little stronger and healthier. She was proud of me for doing it.  She loved me so much.  She wouldn’t let me go back to Ana.  We’ll do this together.  I’m not alone. 

I hung on to her every word.  Healthy, safe, strong, good, love.

She held me, comforted me and repeated this over and over and over until the tears calmed and the pain lessened.

All I’m doing is trying to beat Ana and reclaim my voice.  I could give in.  God, there are days when I just want to go back to her control.  I want to stop fighting it. I want to stop hurting.  I want to stop the battle with myself.  If I resign myself back into her clutches life will be simpler.

But…..Ana will kill me.  I know she will.

I don’t want to die.  I don’t even want to disappear anymore.  I might not totally occupy my space in this world at the moment but I know I want to.  I want to fill out every corner of my space, in fact I want to explode from the seams of my space.  I want to shine.  I want to be a complete person.

So, I’m picking up my emotionally limp, battered and bruised body and I’m getting back into the ring for the umpteenth round. With a heavy heart, sad eyes and only a flicker of strength inside me I say:

bring it on.

 

I Just Want To Be Happy

Published 21 October, 2012 by ladyem83

I haven’t cried in months.  I don’t know why, I just haven’t been able to.

Today, however, I was moved to tears by the words heading this post:

I just want to be happy.

They were said in a message to me by someone I don’t know and with whom I’m only in contact with via twitter; but they touched me so profoundly.

How many of us want a bigger house, new clothes, the latest gadget, more money, a better pension?  I used to want those things too and, of course, still do. However, I know their relative worth because they are now set in the context of my deepest desire:  to be happy.  I’ll have that over and above anything else.

Happiness to me means a quiet mind.  I so crave the peace that simple inner contentment brings.  I’ve been fortunate that I have felt it in the past so I know it  is possible.

My mind now is awash with a million conflicting thoughts and emotions constantly zapping around vying for dominance.  I feel constantly confused and unsure.  I don’t know which thoughts are real.  On very rare occasions something tugs deep inside me and I feel a twinge of the old me and I know that’s real.  But on a daily basis, I’m walking around with the thickest of fogs clouding my mind.

I’ve been to the darkest of places; places that were icy cold with a toxic air that sucked the very life out of me.  I don’t want to go back there.

The only thing that keeps me going now is the the fear of falling into that abyss again.  Every day, to varying degrees, is a battle.  I may not be taking big steps forward, I may be shuffling along at a snail’s pace and some days I’m standing still.  But, I’m not going backwards.  I never want to go backwards.  I never want to seek ‘comfort’ in Ana’s deathly vice like grip.

I just want to be happy.  I just want a quiet mind.

The only way for me to get that is to keep slogging away.  It’s to rebuild a healthy body and with that a healthy mind.  It’s to accept myself for all that I am and forget about whatever I’m not.  It’s to end the routine of self-torture and simply let myself be who I am in the moment that I’m in.

When I achieve that, and I say ‘when’ because I do not want to live in this fog forever, I will never ever take it for granted.  I will know how precious it is, I will cherish every peaceful moment and know that the trying moments will pass because I am strong enough to see my way through them.

To the young lady whose words inspired this post, please dig deep inside you and do everything you can to slowly walk back from the edge of the abyss.  Happiness doesn’t live there.  You won’t be walking alone, I’m walking that path with you and you have the people around you who love and care for you.

Stepping Off My High Horse & Off The Edge Of A Cliff…

Published 16 October, 2012 by ladyem83

I’ve given my therapists a hard time over the last few months.  I consider myself to be a relatively intelligent individual who is in tune with her thoughts (the good and bad) and can effectively communicate them.

I know my underlying issues which I have taken to extreme lengths and which have resulted in  my depression and anorexia.   I have wanted to address these issues with my psychiatric team.  I am an all or nothing person.  When I commit to something I give it my best and I give it my all.  So, you can imagine my frustration when the professionals tell me that I am not ‘cognitively able‘ to deal with such issues at this moment due to my low weight.  I could not (and to a degree still now) do not accept this.

How dare they claim that my cognitive function is impaired by my low weight.  To counter their ‘ridiculous’ claims I got numerous textbooks from the library and studied the science behind diet and nutrition.   I studied the various psychological theories and their respective practitioners.   I’d play them at their own game.  I’d show them that they didn’t know what they had when they were dealing with me.   I’d show them that I can take on whatever they’ve got to throw at me.  I can talk about the things that are eating me up inside without it pushing me over the edge!

….or can I?

When it comes to my life, be it buying a car, considering my financial situation, my mental health, the first thing I do is research.  I want to be able to talk to on some kind of par with the people involved.  I don’t presume to be an armchair expert in any of their fields, but I use my research to give me a basic  grounding, so that I can question and try to understand at a deeper level.

My dietitian once asked whether I would expect a client to come to me for legal advice and then proceed to tell me that they have already consulted the Law of Property Act.  Truth be told, I’d take my hat off to them and give them an understanding nod of respect!

Notwithstanding the incredibly arrogant tone emanating from the above paragraphs , I am the first to admit when I don’t know something. I am the first to ask a question when I don’t understand.  I am not ashamed if I haven’t grasped something or don’t know it.  I am receptive to and respectful of other people’s views, knowledge and experience.  I don’t know it all, but I thought I do know myself!

So, when I read the following in a psychology article (please see the link at the foot of this post for the complete article) I could do nothing but hold my hands up and very quickly clamber down from my high horse:

The emboldened words are those which particularly struck a chord with me.

The italicized words are my comments.

Starvation study shows that recovery from anorexia is possible only by regaining weight

Anorexia is a physical illness of starvation
Published on November 23, 2010 by Dr Emily T. Troscianko in A Hunger Artist

There is one finding about anorexia which seems to me more crucial to treating it successfully than anything else.  It is a counterintuitive insight, but one that seems – like all the best facts – completely obvious when once one knows it.  It is this: that for the anorexic, gaining weight is the prerequisite for mental recovery, rather than vice versa.  Put another way: you can’t make an anorexic want to put on weight until he or she has begun to do so.  Put yet another way: the mind may make the body sick, but only the body can help the mind be well again.

The above  has been the mantra of my various therapists for months.  My argument has been that it is a vicious circle; my underlying issues are preventing me from eating freely, if we don’t straighten them out, how can I feed my body?! 

***

Christopher Fairburn’s Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Eating Disorders(2008: Chapter 11) describes how some of the effects of being underweight (i.e. having a BMI below 17.5) contribute to maintain the eating disorder: being preoccupied with food and eating, becoming socially withdrawn and losing interest in other things. Becoming indecisive, feeling a heightened need for routine and predictability, and feeling heightened sensations of fullness after eating, all help create vicious circles in which the only way to avoid mental or physical discomfort in the short term is by keeping on starving, but the only way to escape these problems in the long term is to regain weight.  He also emphasises that while sufferers of anorexia will be convinced that their present state reflects their personality, in fact their personality is masked by the effects of being underweight and that their own personality will only emerge again if weight is regained.  Anorexics sometimes fear that they will stop being ‘special’, or stop knowing who they are, if they regain weight, but of course there is nothing special about being severely underweight, and ‘who one is’ is irrelevant: one is simply the same as everyone else who is severely underweight, just like the brave men who participated in the Starvation Study. One’s true character remains hidden when the body is starved, to be rediscovered by starting to eat again. 

Point noted.  Effecting that point is the challenge.

The two facts of key importance to the sufferer of anorexia who is aware of the bleakness of the way in which he or she is living but cannot resolve to change are as follows:

1.      If you regain weight, not only the physical effects of your current state – being constantly cold and weak, sleeping and concentrating poorly, bad hair and skin – will disappear, but so will the ways in which you currently think and feel.  Your body is starved, and your character and your thoughts are dominated by this starvation, and will cease to be so once you allow yourself to regain weight.

2.      There is no point in waiting for the magical moment at which you decide, once and for all, that you want to start eating more again, or to regain weight.  Your starved state is making you unable to think flexibly enough to fully comprehend the possibility of eating or living differently, or even the possibility of wanting to think about and enjoy things other than food; it has hidden from you who you really are, and made you believe you are nothing but the anorexia; it is making the smallest piece of food feel like too much.  For these reasons you will never truly want to recover, but you have to seize all your feelings of despair, desperation, hope, recklessness, and curiosity in order to make yourself plunge into that first day and first meal of recovery.  As long as you keep yourself going, keep eating, through the first difficult weeks, it will get easier and easier.

(Source:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hunger-artist/201011/starvation-study-shows-recovery-anorexia-is-possible-only-regaining-weight )

I was so incredibly struck by this when I read it and again today reading it.  It is so true.

My current BMI is still below 17.5.

I think I have overcome most of my issues with food.  Not so.  When my depression hit me badly a couple of days ago I denied myself lunch.  I sat in a cafe with an apple cut into chunks on a plate whilst my two best friends tucked into their delicious looking lunches that I so wanted.

This afternoon travelling into town I felt hungry.  I thought I’d have a yoghurt but decided against it because I wanted to have a latte in Starbucks. I felt hunger but denied myself.  My head told me that I was just being weak if I ate something.  I didn’t need it, the latte would be sufficient and was a treat in itself.

How to break this mindset?  It seems the only thing for it is to switch to auto-pilot.  To just eat; not think, feel, question, consider, challenge, delay, or barter.

EAT.

And that’s where this overthinking, control freak falls down.  The prospect fills me with terror and utter confusion.  I am careful, I plan, I make safe, considered decisions.  You’re asking me to approach the edge of a cliff and keep walking in the hope that somehow a path will emerge before me and I won’t fall.  I’m not stupid! If I walk off that cliff I will free fall faster than Felix Baumgartner and my landing will be decidedly more messy.

I keep myself measured so that I don’t fall apart.  I can’t let myself go.

I don’t believe anything will catch me if I step off that cliff edge.

For all my efforts and thinking I have moved forward I have only increased my comfort zone ever so slightly and I remain utterly rigid within that zone.

Until I throw caution to the wind and embrace flexibility I am going to remain in this so-called comfort zone that is in fact a straight jacket.

I need to act.

I don’t know whether I can.

 

Squidgy Around The Edges

Published 15 October, 2012 by ladyem83

I’ve just typed the heading to this post and felt a lurch in my tummy and tears prick in my eyes.

I don’t cry easily these days.  In fact over the last 10 months of this hell, I’ve hardly cried.  So, to spare my pride, let’s attribute this emotional wobble to tiredness!

My body is changing; perceptibly and before my very eyes.

My weight loss happened gradually over a two year period than dropped dramatically in the space of a couple of months at the beginning of this year.  However, my eyes were so blinded by depression and by the opaque cloak that Ana had thrown over me that I couldn’t see it.

Today was my fortnightly check in with my nurse for my blood to be taken and weight noted.  I’ve put on 2lb in two weeks and am now 1 stone heavier than I was in March.  1 stone.

My thighs aren’t as stick like (although my legs are still pretty unshapely still), my arms have lost that emaciated look.  My cheeks have filled out and my waist  has a softness to it:  I am squidgier around the edges now.

So why am I so scared and uncomfortable by what I see?  I have been two stone heavier than I am now and still been slim and, more importantly, I was happy and confident with the way I looked!

Ana taught me that protruding bones and the leanest of lean limbs were a symbol of my strength, my determination, my achievement.  It was a way to show the world that I was stronger than they were.  They were weak for giving in and feeding themselves.

The thing is, whilst I know that I am feeding and repairing my body, Ana’s words still linger in my mind.

How odd it is that I look at other women of all shapes and sizes and praise them.  I see their shapeliness not as indicative of greed or indulgence but of their pride in themselves.  I see it as representative of them being happy and content, I imagine them laughing freely with their friends over cocktails and nibbles; enjoying wonderful meals out with their partners.

Yet, when I look at my changing body I don’t see it as representative of any of those things.  Perhaps it’s partly because the weight gain has been caused not through happy social times but by bloody hard work.  Eating three times a day even though my dietician wants me to eat 6 times a day!

I’m a bundle of contradictions.  I want to be proud of the skin and the body I’m in again, like I used to be.  I want to really wear my clothes, not have them wear me.   Yet, despite wanting this so much, I’m not comfortable with the real life transformation that is visibly happening.

But, I will take the words of my dietician forward with me.

She used the example of a newborn baby, whose flesh and limbs are so soft and almost pliable.  The tissue making up those limbs has never been used, it has never borne weight.  Compare that newborn tissue with that of a toddler whose body is growing, learning to walk and carry its weight; that toddler tissue is firmer and grows into lean muscle.

In starvation mode my body had started to consume its muscle mass.  Now that I’m feeding it again, its stores are building.  Those stores aren’t lean muscle….yet.  They will change though.  The more I fuel my body, the stronger I get, the more my muscles will form underneath the soft tissue and I’ll regain my shape.

I had never ever thought of my body in those terms.  What terrible, terrible harm I inflicted on myself.  I caused my own body to turn on itself.

This truly is an existentialist journey of transformation, not only internally but externally.  I’m nowhere near the end; in fact, I suppose, there isn’t an end.  I may think that I’m well, fit and healthy, but I still have some distance to go before this butterfly breaks from her chrysalis.

Finding My Voice

Published 12 October, 2012 by ladyem83

Depression, my ‘black dog’ is a mysterious, unfathomable, organic creature.  It’s a shape-shifter.  From day to day, even moment to moment it changes its form and alters my state of mind.  It pulls my strings and plays with me.  It makes me feel hopeless and numb, then it allows me to feel empowered and elated.  Then it seemingly leaves me feeling flat.  What it doesn’t let me feel, however, is me.  

So, instead, I have learnt to become grateful for the days when I feel flat.  I hate the dark days, and the moments or days filled with elation are deceptively high; I don’t trust them.

Monday was flat.  Tuesday was dark. Wednesday was brighter. Thursday was a little brighter still and, today, there’s a glimmer of me.  I felt her yesterday evening.   I’d been occupying myself all afternoon trying to resist the pull of my gremlin’s voice. I was swinging from the flat baseline to feelings of empowerment and back again.  A voice told me that I could manage my gremlin, I could play with him but be strong enough not to give in to him totally.

But, then something told me otherwise.  That something was me. My black dog and my gremlin were colluding with each other.  They have become master ventriloquists and their voices are frighteningly convincing; they sound like me but their message is dangerous.

So, I sat still.  I continued to read my book (and re-read the pages and passages where my mind had wondered for the umpteenth time as it tuned into my gremlin’s voice).

Mum arrived home late and I told her the way I’d been feeling the last couple of days.  I like being honest with her. Even now, I expect her to be disappointed with me and somewhat ashamed of me because, essentially, I am; or at least I’m ashamed of the characteristics  that my black dog and my gremlin play out in me .  Mum never, ever judges me.  She listens and acknowledges.  She points out the possible pathways to further improvement and she commends the steps and/or the truths I’ve discovered so far.  She gives strength to my emerging voice.

I spend all day on my own with my thoughts, my black dog’s thoughts and my gremlin’s thoughts.  By the end of the day when Mum arrives home I’m exhausted from all the mental to-ing and fro-ing.  So, everyday (more or less) for the last 10 months I’ve looked forward to the evening when I would numb them all into submission.  It has been bliss.  I would feel the wave wash over me and the voices would be silenced.  What was left was banal and I gave in to its calming, wonderful simplicity.

But, I’d wake feeling guilty.  I’d wake knowing that all I’d done was temporarily gag the mouths of my black dog, my gremlin and, most worryingly, myself.  The numbness wasn’t selective and I favoured drowning out all the voices.

I realised that the longer I continued with this destructive practice, the weaker my voice would get.  I was worried that I would start to forget it.

Something had to change.

So, for the last two days I have heard and cowered from the growls and vicious barks of my black dog.  I have wrestled with the devilishly teasing, tempting, coercing voice of my gremlin.  I have not handed myself over to them, however (despite wanting to at times).  They have been noisily occupying my mind so I have gone for walks, I have even gone for a run (!). I have cleaned, I have read.  I have even just sat and listened to their raucous chatter .

Today, they are still there; I know they are.  This evening will be a test for me.  I will write about it this afternoon, or later.  However, the fact that for the last two days I haven’t played ball with them makes me start to believe that I don’t have to.  I have the strength to say no, I don’t want to play the game and nothing truly bad will come from that.  

Ok, I acknowledge that I’m writing this on an ‘up’ day.   But I believe it is important for me to take everything I can out of these moments.  It is important that if I hear my voice that I listen to it and praise it because, when the down days come I need to know that they will not stay forever.  I need to know that my voice is still inside me and that I have had the strength in the past to overcome or simply live through the dark moments.

When I hear that voice that I know to be mine, when I feel the feelings of old Em again, I cling on to them for dear life.  I am not ashamed to say that I liked old Em! Old Em doesn’t deserve to be cowering in a dark corner with a black dog and a gremlin nipping away at her.  They deserve to be kept in the dog house!

This week has been another learning curve.

World Mental Health Day and Me

Published 10 October, 2012 by ladyem83

It’s World Mental Health Day today and twitter has been flooded with positive words of support, inspiration and motivation to all those suffering with a mental illness.

This morning I joined the masses and wanted add my voice to the increasing chorus.  I wanted to shout about it, let everybody know that what I’m going through isn’t unusual, it isn’t wrong, it isn’t my fault.  After yesterday being such a dark day for me, today I felt buoyed up by the determined voices speaking out in unison each against their own ‘Black Dog’, ‘Gremlin’.

I took some time out and continued reading ‘The Chimp Paradox:  The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness’ by Dr Steven Peters.  I have been attending CBT sessions and this book neatly compliments them.  Through the metaphors of a ‘Chimp’ (the emotional and reactionary part of our mind), a ‘Human’ (the logical part of our mind) and a ‘Computer’ (the part of our mind which stores the information (which becomes our core beliefs) sent to it by the Chimp and the Human , the book explains how our thoughts, emotions, behaviours and beliefs inter-relate.  It invites you to stop and break down your engrained thought processes and behaviours with a view to understanding their origin, questioning them and, where necessary, re-programming your ‘Computer’.

This book has provoked me to consider myself in a way I never have before.  Of course, implementing the changes I know I need to is a challenging and slow process.  Especially when there are days when I can’t see the value in anything, when I feel numb and just want to sleep until this all goes away.

I have digressed.

I started to become aware of how much ‘thinking’ I was doing.  I was thinking  about my feelings of depression that have flared up again over the last few weeks.  I was thinking about my reliance on my Gremlin.  What did my depression and my Gremlin make me?  I’m recovering from anorexia. I’m recovering from depression.  I’m teetering on the edge of succumbing to another Gremlin and trying hard not to.

I can only describe what I felt by likening it to being in a noisy shop, when there are too many people around you, you can’t quite see the way through to where you want to go and you’re constantly being distracted by them and their chatter.

I wanted some silence.  I didn’t want to be surrounded by the chatter in my mind.  I didn’t want to be a recovering anorexic, depressive!  I just wanted to be Em.  I wanted to return to the days when I could read a book and my mind wouldn’t wander.  I wanted to hear only my voice and be comfortable with it.

I put the book away and picked up a fiction book, The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler.  It’s a fast paced thriller which I’ve just started reading and am increasingly enjoying.

I’d read a page, then my mind would wonder to my Gremlin; how would I cope later on without its support? I refocussed on the book.  I thought about the number on the scales this morning; is that a good or bad number, should I do something to reverse it, am I lazy, am I greedy?  I refocussed on the book.

This mental cycle continued for an hour until I decided it was time to break the motion and go out for a run.

My point is, whether it is depression, an eating disorder or any other mental illness, it is just a label.   The illness tries its damnedest to define us; to suppress our individual spark.  Today, I wanted to to take a step back from it.  I didn’t want to think about it any more.  I didn’t want to listen to its voices.  I wanted to remember me and just be me. 

Of course, the hard thing now is for me to believe that the person I am without Ana, my Gremlin, or my Black Dog is enough of a person.

Am I a good enough person….?

That phrase captures it all.  Good enough for whom?  I should only be trying to be good enough for myself.  I know that I used to be so content with the young woman I had become.  I was confident, comfortable and accepting of myself.

I think I need to stop thinking and questioning.  I need to quieten my mind so my old voice can come through again.  That’s the one that I need to listen to.  That’s the one that will help me recover.

I’m Em; nothing more and certainly nothing less.

 

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