recovery

Four Weeks of Freedom

Today marks 4 weeks since I was discharged from 7 and a half months inpatient.

It has not been the easiest 4 weeks but I am still here and still trying to continue my recovery.  There have been ups and downs and while I am not particularly feeling too good at the moment, I know it hasn’t been a disaster and I have in some ways surprised myself with how I have managed.

So, what has gone well?  ( I sometimes fail to acknowledge the positives so this may be hard!)

  • I have really tried to follow my menu plan
  • I have managed to get through some of the most difficult days
  • I haven’t acted on thoughts of harming myself
  • I have managed to eat out twice – once at my friend’s wedding and once at a cafe for lunch
  • I am looking forward to starting volunteering at a school in a couple of weeks
  • I have attended my medical appointments and I am using their support the best I can

Now, for the no-so-good parts.  I have realised that the ED has definitely been influencing some of my behaviours and decisions recently.  I think the ED ways are just so natural and normal to me that it is easy to ignore them but I know that I need to be more vigilant.  Again, things haven’t been terrible but it’s the ‘little’ things that are actually the cause of much bigger problems in the future so probably best I try to address them now.  And admitting them to myself today is the first step, isn’t it?

It has been things like not managing proper desserts (I should be having 3 per week), struggling with the newly added snack, my weight falling slightly below my agreed range and weighing myself.  I haven’t been doing these deliberately, I am annoyed at myself for slipping and I wish I could have avoided it.  I don’t even know when they started or why.  I know I need to stop.

What I think I am finding hard now that I am home is that my 100% recovery-focus has gone.  In hospital I had people around me to encourage me and remind me to stay focused etc. but now at home I am having to try and keep my fighting spirit alive on my own and that is hard.  I need to find a way to rekindle my spark and get some momentum going again (even if it is hard to do on my own).  I need to do it somehow.

My depression/EUPD has been especially challenging over the past week.  I have had many emotion-filled, difficult days where the thought of existing has felt too much to cope with.  I am trying to learn to be more accepting of these and I have been advised to not fight the thoughts but instead just be mindful of them and try to go about distracting myself and not to be overly focused on changing how I feel but just on getting by and managing to stay safe.  This is something I am really trying to do but when my bad days hit they hit hard and it is still a bit of a learning curve for me.  Again, not having the support of the hospital staff and being alone most of the days make this extra challenging but I am trying as always.

I am going to be focusing over the next few weeks on trying to find some helpful distractions and social things to challenge myself to.  Socialising is something I really struggle with and especially so when my mood is low but I know it is part of the solution to the problem and I need to give it a go.

I just need to try to keep myself going.  It is so very hard and I keep feeling so overwhelmed by it all.  I am trying to hold it all together.  I need to.

So, I guess it has been a bit of a wobbly 4 weeks and I need to be careful.  Why is this so hard?

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recovery

Who and what am I?

Yesterday I attended the second of 4 sessions of a course titled Living the Life You Love.  It was a good 2 hours but I left feeling a little bit unsettled.  You see, the topic was ‘Confidence and Identity’ and as we were having discussions and sharing our thoughts I couldn’t help but feel like I don’t know who I actually am.

Of course, I know I am a British female in her mid-twenties who is currently battling through some really tough mental health problems, but who am I really?  What is my identity?

I seem to have lost all sense of me.  I don’t know if I have ever really had a true sense of self since my problems began when I was 14 and I have spent years trying to be and do what others expected me to.  Trying to think of who I actually am is scary and I am wondering if I will ever really know.

I am at a stage in my recovery and my life where I want to be able to start building up a life and in order to do that I feel like I need to understand what I like and what I don’t like and where I see myself heading.  This is what I am currently trying to figure out and build the confidence to explore different things that will help me create a life for myself, one that I enjoy and want to live.

I spent years studying and working in accountancy and I realise now that I do not want to continue down that career path.  It doesn’t excite me and it just doesn’t feel right for me.

So what do I want?  It is scary to think about what I do want as there is so much self-doubt and self-criticism inside of me that says that I will never be able to achieve these things.  I fear that I will be judged by others or that I will fail.  I worry so much and get myself confused and panicked because I feel silly for having such unrealistic dreams, but maybe I need to start trying to think about and say these things more?  Saying them can’t hurt, can it?

So who am I and what do I want to be?

  • I’m compassionate, understanding and love helping others.
  • I’m pretty quiet but once I get a better feel for people or situations I am able to have fun and be quite playful.
  • I’m pretty hard working and determined.  If I put my mind to something I need to see it through 100%.
  • I enjoy the sunshine and anything pretty.
  • I’m deeply sensitive and always want the best for everyone.
  • I love reading and learning about all things wellbeing related.
  • I enjoy writing.
  • I want to be radiant and have an air of vitality about me.
  • I want to work in a job where I help people and make a difference.
  • I want to use my experiences to help others and promote good wellbeing.
  • I love little children and watching them play and I’m always fascinated by how their little minds work.
  • I enjoy being creative (although my perfectionism can often interfere with this and make it quite challenging).
  • I want to sparkle (I don’t know how to really explain this one, I just want to feel I have some sparkle back. It probably links in with wanting to be radiant).

OK, so that list is pretty small (but golly, it was hard to write).  I guess now I have the not-so-simple job of using it to help me create myself and build up my life.  Eeeek!

With mental illness still a big struggle in my life I am aware that this isn’t something that I will be able to achieve quickly.  However, having that list is at least a start to me understanding the types of things that make me me!

recovery

‘You need to eat more’

‘You need to eat more’ – the 5 little words that my ED head did not want to hear today.

Today I had an appointment with my dietician and it all started off so well where we spoke about how I have managed over the past 2 weeks and some of the challenges I have faced.  However, when we came to check my weight, (urgh! I hate that part) things got pretty difficult.

My weight has dropped a little bit since being discharged from hospital and I am not below my agreed range.  I have not intentionally tried to lose weight, I have been following my meal plan and been really pushing myself.  However, I guess that being at home I am more active (although not excessively)  than I had been in hospital and it has led to a bit of an energy imbalance?  That theory seems to be quite logical.

As I sat back down in the appointment room the dietician then asked me what the solution is.  As much as it is a pretty simple question it had me lost for what to say.  Of course if it was any other person I would be able to say that more energy is needed in order to maintain weight, but could I admit or accept that this logic applied to me to?  No.

So I sat there in a state of panic while my mind went into overdrive while she said those 5 little words of terror – ‘you need to eat more’.

My ED head took over completely and I began shutting down.  I felt inadequate for not maintaining and part of me just wanted o give up altogether as the prospect of eating more seems too challenging.

I have been left with the task to add in a snack each day on top of the 3 meals and 1 snack that I currently have.  Needless to say, I am panicking.  I know I need to do it but I am really stressing over it.  I have all sorts of ED thoughts and fears running through my mind right now and I feel like I just want to run and hide from life.

Nevertheless, I know that I am going to have to face the challenge.  I want to win the fight against my ED and I am going to have to fight through this challenge.

I am unsure what type of snack to have though.  Everything seems to difficult or is out of bounds as my ED likes to tell me.  Nothing is acceptable and I am panicking.  I have no idea how I even go about trying to decide what is acceptable or even an option to consider.  What are good snacks?  What are healthy?  What is normal?  Panic panic panic.

I feel like I have just about managed to accept my current meal plan and have got used to that, although it is still mighty challenging, and the prospect of adding more in just seems too scary and too difficult right now.

I’m going to have to think of some ideas and really try to push through these thoughts and struggle onward and upwards somehow.  I don’t want to go backwards but I am scared.

It is times like now that I wish I had some of the hospital staff who I got on well with to talk to as I know they would be able to keep me calm and help me think clearly and make a decision as to how I tackle the problem.  They might even sit and eat a snack with me and show me what is normal.

I feel so silly for getting so upset and stressed out over having to eat something additional and I am beating myself up for it.

I will do it.  I just need to get some ideas and commit to it and do it.  I can do this.  Can’t I?

recovery

Opposite Actioning It!

Opposite Actiondoing the opposite of an impulse/feeling to promote a more positive emotion.

Today I have well and truly used some opposite action to help me get through – twice.  My mood hasn’t been great since I woke this morning and the negative and eating disordered thoughts have been very, very loud.

It got to 13:00 and I was beginning to get into a bit of a tussle in my head – to eat lunch or not to eat lunch?  Ultimately I knew that skipping meals wasn’t an option for me so I then started another debate with myself – do I have the lunch I’d written on my meal plan or go for something a little ‘safer’?  Part of me really wanted to play it safe but I managed to realise that this would only be making things harder for myself at the next mealtime.  I hesitated for a little bit but I then proceeded to prepare a lovely tuna salad sandwich, as stated on my meal plan, which I sat and ate along with the other lunch sides that I am supposed to have on my meal plan.

It was difficult and I felt uncomfortable as my ED head chastised me for eating and for going against it’s restrictive wishes.  This in turn led to my feelings of despair and sadness to rise and in that moment all I wanted to do was change back into my pyjammas, shut myself away from the world for the rest of the day and cry.

However, Opposite Action Number 2 then occurred.  Although the only thing I wanted to do was isolate myself, I decided to take a birthday gift to my cousin’s house where she was having a little get together for her little boy.  I had no intention of going when I got up this morning due to my low mood, but this afternoon I realised that maybe going was just what I needed to do to help me not fall even further into my already very negative mindset.  I quickly got myself in order and left to visit my cousin before I had the chance to talk myself out of it again.

Usually I would never manage to do something like that.  Normally I would be too scared and too caught up in my head that I would just spend the rest of the day in isolation, but not today.  Today I tried to do it slightly differently and I suppose it did help!

I can’t say that my mood has improved much but going out and being around others at least prevented me from dipping more and from being totally absorbed by my low mood.  It was a couple of hours of putting in a lot of effort to try to appear relaxed and composed but then again, that beats a couple of hours being driven to despair by my own mind.  Sure, it didn’t cure me but it didn’t kill me (which my head tries to do).

Today I managed to take control of 2 difficult situations. It wasn’t easy but I gave it a go.

Little steps. Little, baby steps.

recovery

Learning to Live with EUPD/BPD

Although for a number of years it has been said that there is obviously more going on in terms of my poor mental health than just an eating disorder, it was just the other day that I received a letter that listed out my actual diagnoses – Anorexia Nervosa, Depressive Disorder, Anxiety and EUPD/BPD.

I have long suspected that I have EUPD but it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that it was specifically there in black and white for me to see.  I feel that I really do relate to a lot of the diagnostic criteria and that it makes sense that I have this diagnosis, but there was something about seeing it written down that made me a little upset.

However, I see having the diagnosis somewhat comforting as it helps me to understand that my extreme reactions and my intense emotions etc. have a cause and that it is not just me being ‘crazy’.

What I am struggling a bit with is the fact that I know that I am still in the very early stages of learning how to cope with this condition.  I find in immensely difficult to control my emotions and swing from one end of the spectrum to another multiple times a day, with seemingly no rhyme or reason to it.  I have such intense feelings of loneliness, fear of being abandoned, no real idea of who I really am and I suffer from suicidal urges throughout the day every day that it seems almost impossible to control.  It scares me as I worry that I may never be able to manage in life.

I want to learn though how to cope though – and I guess I did start some of that learning in hospital.   What I think I need to really get an understanding of – and I am not too sure how to achieve this – is how the illness is played out in my life.  I need to better understand the ways in which it affects me and then be able to learn how to manage it better.

This is going to be hard.  I am already putting in a lot of effort to help manage my moods and eating disorder on a daily basis but it is still very overwhelming and not always the most successful at the moment.  Over the next while I hope that I can learn about myself, develop better coping mechanisms and manage my intense emotions more effectively, and I hope to share some of that on here and learn from others on here what works for them.

Life seems scary at the minute and I feel a little bit (ok, a big bit) confused in my head with emotions running everywhere, but I want to feel better and I am ready and willing to learn.

recovery

No Sense of Belonging

Do you ever feel that you just don’t fit in in the world?  I do.  Every single day.

For as long as I can remember I have felt like I don’t belong anywhere.  School, uni, work, the town I grew up in, the other end of the country when I lived there for a year, hospital – I never seem to feel like I am meant to be there.  I’m always the ‘really kind and friendly’ girl that other people don’t dislike but don’t necessarily have as their best friend either.  I see it as a flaw in my character and tend to beat myself up about it a lot.

I have always had friends/people I chat to but over the years, as my illnesses have dominated, I have kept people at arm’s length, too scared to let them near in case they hurt me or I upset them.

I always seem to exist on the periphery and I will be the first to admit that it is nobody’s fault but my own. Depression, an eating disorder, EUPD/BPD and anxiety have all contributed to this.

Sometimes I think it bothers me and sometimes I think it doesn’t.  I do like my own space and as much as I enjoy when I spend time socialising with other people, I seem to then need double that time alone to recuperate and I accept that this is just my nature.  However, I often feel very alone and isolated and not quite sure where I fit in.  And I love people!

I get scared that my friends just put up with me because they pity me.  I fear that I will never feel like I belong or that I’m forever going to be scared of letting people in to my world.  It worries me that by my age, 26, most other people may all have their social circles and that I may have missed my opportunity to be part of one.

I don’t actually know if this is all true or not or if it is all just how I feel and perceive things.  I do know that I have friends – I was supposed to be a bridesmaid for one but ended up in hospital and couldn’t unfortunately – but my head still doesn’t quite feel that people do count me as a friend.  It all really confuses me.

Is this potentially part of the EUPD/BDP?  I really don’t know.

One of my long-term goals for my recovery is to build up more of a social life.  Being ill over the years has made me a bit of a recluse and I don’t want that to continue.  I want to have friends that I can feel confident around, laugh with, be silly with, cry with and just be me when I am around them.  I know that it is going to take a lot of courage and stepping outside my comfort zone for me to build up a social circle.  I am terrified that I will fail at it though and that makes the prospect of trying even harder – what if people really don’t want me around?  What if I never fit in?  I have so much doubt and fear.

I need to make changes though.  I will.  If I can start small and set myself little goals along the way then hopefully it will work out eventually.  I just need to be brave and take a risk.

recovery

Chlo v Pasta 19/07/18

My menu plan for yesterday said I was to have pasta for dinner and let’s just say my ED side was not happy about this.

I have been avoiding pasta for years now and only in the past 2 months did I manage to have it a couple of times while in hospital.   It is one of those fear foods that I know actually like but my ED hates.

I put it on my menu plans because I don’t want my fear of it to continue and the only way to get over the fear is to keep eating it. However, when it was on my plan for the first time since coming home yesterday I panicked.  Automatically my head went into ‘I can’t do it’ and ‘I don’t want it’ mode, trying to think of any excuse to have something much safer instead.

It would have been so much easier to not have the pasta (and I was sorely tempted) but I managed to realise that while yes, I could choose to not eat pasta and play it safe, that it wouldn’t be helping me and my recovery.  I would only be fooling myself. I promised the dietician in the hospital that I would eat pasta and home and I made that promise for a reason.  I don’t choose to have an ED but I do have the power to choose if I am going to fight against it.  And fight against it is what I did last night.

Shaking and with much hesitation, I cooked cooked some pasta, mixed it up with some chicken and veggies and had a quick, healthy and balanced meal.  Sure, I had lots of ED thoughts before, during and after but I also felt a hint of achievement for pushing myself to challenge this meal.

It left me thinking about how really, nobody can ever make us recover, they may encourage us and advise us but ultimately, the decision to actually do the doing lies with us.  We need to be the ones to choose to eat the food, challenge ourselves to eat different meals and not use behaviours etc.

Every moment we either choose to fight against the ED or give it more power.  Every decision either takes us further towards a life in recovery or further from it.  While I am all to aware that the fight isn’t easy (and I don’t always manage it myself), the choice really is quite simple and is within our control – we either choose recovery or we don’t. It is our responsibility, nobody else’s. Choose to fight against your ED and just to it.  You are more capable than you think.