A little bit low

I’m tearful and sad today – I have too much in my brain and too much in my heart going on and that coupled with a disrupted routine, being away from home, lack of sleep, weight gain and IBS and I am done in.

I know it will pass, I trust that now, but it doesn’t stop the down days sucking and the fact that this has come while I’m on holidays and meant to be re-booting for the year ahead is not helping (although I’m aware the pressure I have on using these holidays to ‘re-boot’ is a factor). I’m just feeling very alone in the darkness even though I have amazing support, it’s too hard to explain. I’m also very guilty for feeling down even though I have a truly wonderful life. I don’t want to feel like this and I’m frustrated that I can’t make it go away.

I am trying though – I know making an effort helps so even though my instinct was saying ‘roll in a ball and hide in the cupboard’ I have ignored this (mainly because I’m not alone to do this!) and done the following:

  • went for a non-timed run in the sun this morning
  • stopped at the top of the hill and sat trying to be mindful (bit hit and miss!)
  • texted a friend to tell her what was going on
  • ate a proper lunch
  • saw some poetry and comedy to distract myself (the festival is a wonderful place for that!)
  • ditched evening plans with the boyfriend to come home and get early night
  • blogged so that I can get my thoughts down before trying to sleep

None of these things cured me, but I reckon I would be feeling far worse if I haven’t tried them I’ve also engaged in some far less helpful behaviours which made me feel better temporarily but then far worse, but let’s not concentrate on them for the moment. I think I could really do with a good cry but I need time and space alone to do that and I just don’t have that at the moment. I really really really miss living on my own.

I wish I could just press pause so I could roll up in the cupboard and cry, but life is too smart for that so will continue around me waiting for me to join in again. Thanks for listening.

Holidays and winding down

It’s holiday time! Yay! This break feels like it has been a long time coming, work and study have been hectic the last few months. I’ve been doing well keeping on top off things and have been careful about not working weekends etc. but that has meant long days during the week and a very full brain. The long days I can cope with mostly, especially when I’m eating enough and keeping it in, that makes a huge difference, but the ‘full brain’ had been starting to get to me. It means waking up in the middle of the night thinking about my to-do list, it’s watching tv not paying attention to what’s happening as I’m thinking about work things, it’s drifting off while with friends to mentally plan where I’m at with other things. Basically, I’ve been the polar opposite of mindful for the last while and it had started to take its toll on my mood.

However, I’m now on holidays and trying very hard to wind down. I’m in Scotland for a week and then Ireland for a week. I’ve got a few days at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which is very exciting as I love theatre, comedy, dance, anything like that and then I’m going to visit my relations further north. In Ireland then I’m going to catch up with my friends and relations but I also have a few days PhD work to do which is kind of stressing me out as I’ve got to do a few bit this week before I’m ready for next week. I thought it would be fine being on holidays even if I did have some work to do but it feels like it’s just hanging over me now. It’s great to be making progress with my PhD but it’s kind of ruining my relaxation!

I’m hoping now I’ve put it down in words that I’m a bit stressed by that, I’ll leave it here in my laptop and not carry it around in my brain all day! It is what it is, and when the work is done I will feel great about it. It’s up to me whether it stresses me out all week or not. I need to draw on all my mindfulness abilities over the next few days I think, and get lost in the fun of Edinburgh. I’m lucky to be here so I need to focus on that!

PS: Thanks for the nominations and tag posts- I will get to them when I’m back home!

Focusing on the big things, not always the small things

I had an interesting conversation with my nurse yesterday about how I seem to focus a lot on the ‘micro’ and can sometimes miss the ‘macro’ of life. We were talking about a wedding I’m going to at the weekend and she asked me what I was wearing and unbeknownst to her (but probably not a surprise to you guys!) I had a little panic about my outfit and how I was going to feel in it.

I bought a dress for this wedding (one of my best friends) a few months ago. It’s elasticated so I know it will fit, but I am worried about how my stomach, arms and back will look in it. I told her that I was trying to plan ahead for what I would eat and drink, and how long I needed to run for the morning of it to feel okay in my dress (clearly I haven’t quite separated the exercise/food thing: uh-oh) and what my other friends would be wearing and whether I should wear a safer dress etc. She let me ramble for a little while and then interrupted me to say that the biggest thing I had just said was that my best friend was getting married and that I was travelling to see it and celebrate with her. That’s the macro, that’s the important point of this weekend, that’s where the living happens. Whether or not I have a bit of a stomach roll when I sit down is a micro detail in the grand scheme of things.

She understood that while I was ill and still in my ED mindset that yes, these ‘micros’ were a huge, extensive part of my thoughts, but she challenged me to consider moving move beyond this now. We discussed that lots of my thoughts and actions are still based on the ‘micro’: I don’t eat sandwiches out because of the butter/mayo, I walk or cycle everywhere in case one bus trip means I put my fuel in/out sum out of balance, I choose products carefully because of what is says on the label, I obsess over if my back is too flabby in tops, I worry about how much time I spend sitting……..things like this.  I have made huge strides in my eating and attitude but I am still caught up on some of these small things and they do take up a lot of my thoughts sometimes.

I think I’m afraid to let go of some of the eating things in case it’s the one thing that’s stopping my weight from ballooning, and some of the other ED things in case I lose all control, but she feels I’m ready to test this out now. I need to trust that if I eat three balanced meals snacks a day, exercise within reason and just wear clothes I know will fit I can free up thoughts and energy to immerse myself in the important things, like going to a wedding where I get to see my amazing friend marry the love of her life, chat with friends who I don’t get to see very often, dance to cheesy pop music and enjoy myself. Doesn’t that sound like far more fun than worrying what I look like in my dress?!

So this is my challenge for the next month until my next appointment. I’m going to let go a little, try not to focus on the little things and instead get caught up with living without my ED. She’ll weigh me then and will hopefully show me that doing that has not impacted on my weight. I’m a bit suspicious and very nervous, but I’m committed to trying – wish me luck!

Accepting recovery at any size

Potential trigger warning- nasty ED thoughts.

Realising my lucky dress was now tight on me was a not so nice surprise, I was flooded with ED thoughts which played over and over again throughout the day and the weekend.

“See I told you you were fat now” “Everyone will have noticed how much you’ve gained, they’re just being polite by not saying anything” “People are going to think you eat as much as your boyfriend and that’s why you’ve gained weight” “You’re so round” “Feel how you wobble when you walk” “Your fat arms are not really fat- feel how the dress pinches on them”

After the ego bashing then came EDs suggestions:

“If you lost X then all your clothes would just fit better, you could still wear your new recovery clothes but they would just fit better” “Y wouldn’t be enough to worry people but it would make you just feel so much more comfortable” “You could just start with a goals of Z- just to get you back to weight you feel safe” “We’re not talking restriction, just tightening up the reigns here and there” “If we add back in the exercise sessions you’ve taken out that would just give us a buffer”

Except now I’ve been eating a healthy amount for a while I can recognise how dangerous these thoughts can be. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 kilo or 10 kilos, the moment I decide to try and lose weight is the moment I take myself off the path to recovery and head straight back to being ill. Skipping one meal here and there exposes me to starvation. Cutting back during the day leads to binges when I’m alone. Adding in an extra exercise session results in an exhaustion that carries over to daily life. I know what life with an eating disorder looks like and I don’t want my future to be like that.

All of this means that I have to accept my body as it is now. I have to accept that’s it rounder then I’d like. I have to be okay with the wobbles. I have to cope when clothes don’t fit. I have to embrace that my body looks like a woman’s. I have to learn to love the softness instead of all the sharp bony edges.

I wish with all my might that I was a naturally thin person, and that recovery for me would mean a flat stomach, skinny arms and fitting into all the clothes I want, but that is not the body I was born into and if I really want to recover I need to learn to be okay with that. It’s time to make peace with my body so that I can find peace in my mind. It’s been far too long, it’s time to move on.

Disaster! Lucky dress no longer fits!

I have an interview tomorrow which I really should be preparing for but I just tried on my ‘lucky dress’ (a smart plain black dress which I have worn to pretty much all of my interviews in life!) and it’s really tight. I know I shouldn’t let this bother me but I am kind of panicking now-argh!

I had thought that I must try on the dress yesterday as the last time I wore it I was a fair bit smaller but then reminded myself I had worn it for an interview about 3 years before that when I was at what I thought was the same size as now. It’s way tighter than it was last year, which I’m kind of okay with as I knew that would happen as I know I’ve put on weight and recovery is great yadda yadda yadda, but I’m horrified that it’s tighter than it was three years okay. It means I’m bigger than I thought now and all the fight I’ve been putting into accepting my body at its ‘set point’ has gone flying out the window. Now instead of just worrying about my interview performance I’m stressing about looking fat and feeling horribly uncomfortable. Yuck.

I can’t think of anything else to wear now and can’t face trying anything on so I’ve given up and put on pjs and I’m hiding in bed. I know it’s not the end of the world but man this recovery process is exhausting sometimes-I wish I could just step out of my body for a few days to not have to deal with it, bleurgh.

The ‘well side’ of me

I just watched a lovely introduction video from Onepersonsinsanity who suggested that others might like to post a bit about their ‘well’ sides as well as their ‘ill’ sides. I thought this was a good idea, so although I don’t like to give away too much identifying information I will give it a little go!

My name is H, I’m 33 and I currently live in the UK. I’ve also lived in Ireland, Scotland and Australia (and Canada, Spain and France for a few months at a time!)- I’m lucky to have family in lots of different cities and I love visiting new places. I work with children with special needs and I also teach at a University- two jobs keeps me busy but I love them both. I’m in the middle of studying for my PhD but this has been a bit on and off so it will probably be another few years before that gets done! I’m patient about it though and know it is not worth becoming sick over.

I love to run and make sure to emphasise that this is separate from my eating disorder- I do it socially with a club and a lovely group of friends and I love the fun of training and racing without being too fixed on goals and definitely not fixed on calories. I also cycle- I live near the countryside so can cycle from my house to the wilderness (well, kind of!) in only a few minutes and I know a few good routes that all pass by lovely tea shops on the way home (that’s how seriously I take my cycling!). I used to sea swim a lot too when I lived by the coast- all year round despite freezing temperatures at times- I really miss that now living inland but I have to make do with a swimming pool and the occasional wild swim in a nearby river. Seeing as I swim, cycle and run it makes sense that I also do triathlons- again not in a competitive way but more that they are a great day out and a good way to see new places. Plus there’s something kind of fun about struggling out of a wetsuit at speed to then jump on a bike sopping wet before trying to run with legs that feel like lead (no honestly that is fun!).

II live with my boyfriend and moving in with him was a new adventure for me this year but it’s going well. I never thought I would meet someone that I would want to live with and ‘settle down’ with so this has been an exciting change the past couple of years. He knows about my ‘issues’ and while I know he would try to understand it’s not something we talk about. I’m not sure whether this is the right approach or not but it’s working for the moment.

I like to read although I find that when I start a book, I can’t put it down so finish it really quickly, and then don’t start another for a while (all or nothing ey?!). I’ve just read ‘Still Alice’ which was great and I’m about to start ‘Being Mortal’ as it was recommended to me by my Mum. Other than that, I spend the rest of my time hanging out with my wonderful friends and family (I am truly blessed when it comes to family and friendship), cleaning (gives me such a sense of calm) and napping (as I do love a good nap!).

Okay so it turns out writing about myself is actually quite easy- I didn’t expect this to be so long! Well done if you made it to the end and I would love to read a bit more about your ‘well sides’ too!

Shopping success!

A while ago I posted about clearing out my wardrobe so that when I opened it I was greeted by clothes I liked and fit me rather than being taunted by too small clothes and too big clothes and all the memories they bring. This was a great step to have made but it left me with very little to wear and a need to brave a shopping trip.

Now I’m not the best shopper anyway in that I have to be careful with money so I stress a little about that and also the getting in and out of clothes to try things on and queuing etc. makes me weary (I can run a marathon but ask me to walk around a shopping centre and I get lazy!).

Anyway, I finally braved it last week and after 3 hours (and a couple of crying breaks in public bathrooms!) I have new outfits. I wore one yesterday- a blue dress (Next £25), a peach belt (£1.50 primark) and peach shoes (£3 sale from new look!) and I’m going to say something a bit incredible……

 I felt kind of pretty!!!!

I’m glad I persevered and I’m really reassured that I can have positive feelings about myself that are not connected to my weight/size. I felt pretty not because I looked thin or anything like that – but simply because I was wearing a nice summer dress that was comfortable and I felt okay in.    

I know it may seem shallow and superficial to be pleased about liking how I look for a day, but when you spend a lifetime hating yourself in the mirror it’s actually a big deal. 

Go me 🙂