Night-time ramblings

The last few weeks have been a bit crazy and I haven’t really had the motivation to blog. I do now though (at 3am- thanks insomnia!) but there’s so much to say I don’t really know where to start so I thought I would just launch into something that came up today and see where it goes!

I have started seeing a new therapist and she is amazing. Totally knows her stuff, really able to challenge me but is also kind and empathetic at the same time. I do so much fighting against my ED and behaviours that when she acknowledged that it must get hard sometimes and I must be tired and fed up of it I burst into tears – it has been a long time since I felt anyone (outside of the blogging world!) has validated that for me. I know I need to keep fighting, but being able to just pause for a moment and go “actually it’s  bit sh*t that I ended up with this illness” was really really nice.

I also feel so blessed to have been given another opportunity to work with someone so good. After quite a few false starts and some quite frankly terrible ‘professionals’ I have now been lucky enough to work with an two amazing GPs (one now retired,  and my current one who is patient and helpful), a life-changing nurse (now retired), a not-as helpful but kept me going-nurse and now this lovely counsellor. I feel so grateful and yet so guilty at the same time. I wish everyone had access to the support they need – I know so many of you don’t and it’s just not fair. I’m trying to manage the guilt though- I wonder if I would feel the same if it was a physical illness- would I feel undeserving in the same way? It’s also about being ready to engage with the help though and be ready to make the changes needed- I met a girl who had seen my amazing first nurse and not found it helpful at all, but she admitted she wouldn’t have found anything helpful with how her mindset was at that time. Support services can help you try change that mindset, but they can’t do it for us, there has to be a bit of us that wants to reach out and grab their knowledge and support however hard it might be in order to make it work.

Part of my therapy this time (CBT-E approach, and actually cognitive behavioural therapy not a mismatch of random things with little structure) is to get back to implementing structured eating. I managed about 9 days of it and found it so helpful- I really see know how important it is- but then lost it a little so it was followed by 7 days of unstructured and chaotic eating. We identified yesterday that I have started to restrict again (it doesn’t feel like it to me- but I have lost a little weight and the voice is definitely active) so now I’m working on structured eating and making sure it’s enough, or as enough that I feel comfortable with for the moment. I can see it happening, the pendulum swinging back and forth between restriction and not purging, and regular eating and purging, but I’m still at a loss of how to stop it. I’ve got some small steps to be taking for the next two weeks though so we’ll see how that goes.

I’m hoping now I’ve done this brain dump I might be able to get some sleep! I hope you are all doing okay.

 

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Meal planning

I need to take back control of my eating. First step is setting out times to eat- this has helped before. Last time I really focused on this though it was about eating when I didn’t feel like eating- now it’s not eating when I feel like eating (which I feel shameful and disgusting about admitting- but it’s the truth and I need to face up to it).

I’m not focusing so much on what I eat right now (baby steps) but I am going to try focusing on when I eat, so that I have clear distinctions between food time and non-food and hopefully this will stop me feeling like behaviours are running my life.

The plan is 3 meals 2 snacks a day. I’m not going to write what I’ll eat as I think that’s the type of thing I was use to compare myself if someone else wrote it and we all have different nutritional needs. These are the times I’m aiming for tomorrow:

Breakfast 9am (when I get into work after pool)

Snack 1: 11 am

Lunch: 1pm (this might be hard as I usually eat earlier but this is better for being spread across the day)

Snack 2: 4pm (a big one so that it get’s me from end of the day to dinner)

Dinner: as my boyfriend doesn’t know about this my timing is a bit dependent on him but I will ask him that we start having dinner no later than 7.30

One day at time, I’ll keep you updated on how this works out (or if you don’t hear from me you can assume it went disastrously!)

Out of control

I’ve been eating and throwing up all evening and I feel fat, sick and hopeless.

I wish someone could get rid of all food for me and just give me what I need when I need it and restrain me from eating at all   other times. 

I need to break this vicious cycle I’m in but I’m failing every time I try. I have no discipline, no willpower, everything I hate about myself is spread right in front of me every time I start eating. 

These are the things I’ve tried:

Meal planning incl. shopping and arranging with boyfriend what meals we’ll have during the week.

Ensuring I have enough calories over a day.

Taking breaks from the desk to eat.

Making my breakfast and lunch the night before so it’s ready to go. 

Not bringing money out with me so I can’t buy food. 

Distraction – although I haven’t actually had much free time- I’ve been eating while at my computer working – or while with boyfriend and then secret extras.

Ugh. I’m so ashamed of myself. I need a boost to kick start me, but my mood is too flat for me to make that happen. Bulimia and depression are far too good friends, they have completely smothered me. 

Anyone got any wisdom on how they have managed stretches like this? 

Mental illness meets the doctor

I had a GP appointment on Wednesday to review my blood tests. Basically they have come back with mild issues 3 times, but on the 4th time they are okay so nothing to worry about. In a twisted way I was kind of disappointed- not sure if others would understand this? I just felt like maybe if there was something physically wrong it would (a) be easier to talk about than the mental stuff and (b) might help spur me into action if I knew I was actually doing some damage- but all my ED heard was ‘you’re fine, no need to stop, not doing you any harm”

Anyway he then asked me how I was and that was all it took for the tears to start. I tried to explain how desperate I was feeling and how I wanted to disappear – how I had no control over the crying or eating or purging or self-harming, couldn’t make decisions, wasn’t sleeping, was stressed, despairing etc. I told him I felt like I was out of options and that now I have tried to get help and I’m on medication it’s even worse when I feel like this as I can’t think of anyway I can help myself more.  I couldn’t say the words “I am suicidal” but I so desperately wanted him to ask. (He didn’t- and while he is a great doctor- I think he should have).

He asked me what I felt had brought on this dip. This was hard but he knows his stuff about engaging patients in building a narrative of their difficulties and I know it is meant to be beneficial. I told him that I think having recently gone back on the pill was probably the main factor along with a very stressful period with PhD and discontinuity with my nurse in terms of appointments. He agreed it could well be the pill and that I should hang on and let the hormones get of out of my system and we can reevaluate then.

He asked what I did to approach stressful PhD times when they happen. I told him that actually working rather than just panicking about the work helps, and I really have been doing this in between the tears. I told him being in a routine is crucial so I have been getting into the office whether I feel like it or not. I told him exercise helps so I’m trying to to get to run club and the gym. I told him I was journalling even though my entries are a not always positive (there has been lots of scrawling of self-hate talk to be honest).  I didn’t tell him that weighing myself daily, obsessing about food and purging also helps as he had put them into the camp of ‘negative behaviours’ already- when really they are a comfort. This was a good conversation as I have done work before on identifying what helps so it was good for me to think about, but I don’t think he really understood that there is a chasm between knowing what will help and actually having the capacity to do these things. It’s a key issue which I’m not sure if he doesn’t get or is trying to not let me dwell on.

 

I then cried some more, and a little more and he skillfully moved onto talking about a plan (he is good with solution-focused approaches!). He asked me if I had an appointment with my nurse soon and I said that I had emailed but had no response. I told him that every time I have to ask for an appointment takes me days to work up to as ED is screaming at me for being too fat and un-disciplined and that I was wasting everyone’s time.  He asked if felt my nurse was helping and I said that I wasn’t sure- I felt so bad saying that but it’s true that sometimes I come out feeling worse, and it’s not because she’s hit a nerve it’s because there’s no continuity sometimes I feel I’m not getting anywhere. He suggested he could refer me to a specialist service to which I vehemently objected- they would refuse me as I don’t meet their weight criteria and I don’t need that written down on paper for me. He also said that in a few weeks a new nurse is starting and maybe I could see her. I would feel bad to leave my other nurse but this could be a good option.

For now though he said to just ride it out, see if coming off the pill helps, and made an appointment for me to see him next week, which was really good of him, as all I need to focus on now is a week.

I’m definitely feeling better the last two days, food stuff is still out of control but I only burst into tears once yesterday so I’ll take that!

Sorry again for the long post. Thanks for the support and hope you are all okay.

Mental illness meets life

Over the years I have become quite the master of hiding my struggles. I can stay up all night crying and cutting then go into work being the face of sunshine the next day. I can go out for dinner and be the life and soul of the party, but vomit in the bathroom in between courses. I can go on holiday and be the organiser and the leader and the one who is going to ensure the fun, but spend the whole time wishing I was at home in bed hiding from the world.

Every now and again though the carefully managed balance slips and I can’t control my depression/ED/anxiety enough to keep it hidden. It interferes with my public life and I can’t do anything about it. That happened today and I feel sick about it. It will probably seem really minor to most people but I have spent so long crafting a life where I look like I have my sh*t together that anything that jeopardises this petrifies me.

I was meant to visit a friend and her children today. It had been semi-planned for a while but the time hadn’t been confirmed. I texted in the morning to arrange a definite time but didn’t get a reply until 10 minutes before she was expecting to see me- except I needed to borrow a car and it takes 30 minutes to drive there. So I was already a bit panicky about being late as I knew the kids would be napping. But I said I would leave as soon as possible so I did. I then got to the motorway and it was barely moving. It took me 25 minutes to get the first exit after I joined and by that point I was uncontrollably crying for no real reason at all. I’ve just been really down the last while and I though that a trip home would help but it hadn’t and I’ve been kind of non stop crying for days now but mostly been able to pull it together by having a sob in the toilets or having a glass of wine (which is potentially coming a dangerous habit which deserves another post). I really wanted to get off at the first exit I came to but I talked myself into staying on, rolled down the windows and put the radio on and tried to talk myself into feeling calm. 15 mins later and having not moved an inch though I realised I was not going to be able to pull of a day of being sane. 10 minutes later I pulled off at the next exit and texted my friend to say I couldn’t make it. I was going to make up an excuse but I just though f**k it, why not be honest. So I told her I was in rough form and couldn’t handle the traffic and I know I’m a terrible friend but I hoped she understands. Her message in return was measured, I’m not sure how annoyed at me she is, but I really didn’t have any capacity to deal with it anyway. I pulled into a cul-de-sac and spent two hours crying over the fact that I was crying, then pulled myself together, went home, told my mum I had lovely time but needed a nap and then cried for another two hours in bed.

For the most part I can really hold things together and have got nearly as far in life as I wanted despite my mental health difficulties. But then days like today happen and I lose all sense of control and I wonder how I am ever going to live the rest of my life like this. I used to feel like this so much of the time, and I can understand again why I thought suicide was the only option. But then I got help and that along with medication helped and I thought things would be okay. But now I’m back feeling this desperate DESPITE the help and medication and now I am having to fight constant thoughts of ‘ you have no options left now’.

It’s probably right that I don’t have other options. But I do have the choice to hang on. So that’s all I need to do right now, is hang on. For the next few hours until I can sleep, and the morning when I wake still being me, and the next day after that and after that. I just need to hang on. Darkness is always worst before the dawn.

If you’re just hanging in there too for now- you’re not alone. It will be okay. We just have to trust in that.

#WeDoAct – my people

There are various people in my life who have taken action against my eating disorder for me. For the day that’s in it I’d like to share with you the ones that have really made a positive difference (there are a few who have made a negative difference but I’ll save that rant for another day!). First there were my friends in school who told the guidance counsellor that I had told them I had been throwing up. I was so so so mad at them. I talked my way out of it, and stopped talking to them for a while, but then we eventually moved past it without another word to be spoken for another 10 years. They tried though, and they tolerated me being horrible to them for it.

A few years later there was a different girl in school who would make me lunch and sit with me trying to get me to eat it. She made things that she thought I would like especially which meant getting up earlier to do this especially for me which is pretty sensitive and kind now I think about it. I really tried to eat with her but it was just to prove that I could and that nothing was wrong so it didn’t last as I talked my way out of that too- but she was so good to try.

Around this time I was a member of the Something Fishy community and through this got a lot of online support. I had to log on stealthily as our computer was in our sitting room (with dial up so if the phone rang during a webchat I would cut out!!). I also IM’d (throwback thursday!) with some fishies who got me through some pretty rough patches. Was anyone here a fishie by the way?

Two years into my university course I had a bit of a meltdown and ended up spilling my guts to a friend (Y) that I was really miserable. She told me outright that she knew I had an eating disorder and that I needed to get help for it. I made it as far as two counselling sessions and one appointment with a psychiatrist but that was enough to put me off seeking help for many more years. She stuck by me though, and she regularly asks me how I am doing with ‘the food thing’ even when things seem fine, and she has a funny  way of sensing when things aren’t. She will call me straight out on any significant weight loss but she also will ask when my weight is stable which really makes a difference. I don’t feel like I have to be thin for her to know I’m struggling. She had an ED when she was younger, and then struggled again for a brief period after pregnancy, so she knows what is going on more than others, but I trust her when she says she’s okay to support me. I will never be able to express how much I love this girl.

After living in different countries for a period, I moved back to where my school friends were from. I was working in a really stressful job and my ED became visible again. One of the girls who had first expressed a concern pushed me on it one day and I ended up telling her a somewhat sanitised but fairly honest account of that yes I did have ED in school and I still struggled now. She listened and was amazing and told me I could count on her whenever, and I still do, but I tend not to talk about ED stuff with her as I had started to see a counsellor at this point and felt I had someone to offload on. We’ve never really talked about it since except for when I relapsed with restriction a couple of years ago and it was too obvious not to say- and now when I see here, which is only a couple of times a year she’ll ask me ‘how are you?’ ‘and how are you really?’ which gives me a nice opportunity to be honest.

Finally then, there are two of my friends here in the UK who, along with Y from uni, are my rocks. I kept ED a secret from them for  nearly 2 years despite numerous conversations about my friend’s brother having an ED which made for some awkward moments. Then I found out that the other friend had suffered with an ED for years when she was young and had gone through inpatient etc. before fully recovering (and yes she really is) and then going back to uni as a mature student. She was working on a research project about EDs and thats how it came up- when she told me this it seemed deceitful to not be honest with her about myself, and I couldn’t see how I would survive 6 months of research project talk without slipping up at some point. These girls have been angels and when I relapsed significantly the other year they marched me to the doctor, got me set up with the lovely nurse, have ridden the crazy ride it’s been with me, regularly ask me how I’m doing ED-wise and happiness-wise, are so sensitive about me being funny with food at times, have cooked meat free fat free calorie free everything free meals for me so I wouldn’t miss out, and understand when I bring them over batches of baking that I’m too afraid to have in the house. I honestly would not be here today without these girls.

Then of course there’s my lovely ex-nurse, my lovely ex-doctor, my seems-alright-but-still-not-sure-new doctor and my is-it-working-who-knows-but-she-hasn’t-dumped-me-yet-newish nurse.

And last but not least is the support I get from you all on wordpress. I started this blog on a whim as I felt stuck and alone, and now I have a place to go where I can read about other people fighting a similar battle and who have provided me with invaluable cheerleading and understanding. I am so thankful for you all.

I am incredibly lucky to have the supports that I do. I lived alone with ED for a very long time, over a decade, but the moment I started letting people in was the moment he started to diminish. People take action by supporting me, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Wow that was an incredibly long post- going to the gym clearly gave me a mental energy boost!

Now… tell me about your people! Or if you don’t have people, tell me if I can help you seek them out!

 

 

 

Decisions

I’m just finished work and am now debating my next move. I’m posting as I’m deliberating between one good option and one terrible option.

Option 1.go to gym. I have gear with me. I didn’t go this morning as wanted to get into work early. I could either do a speed session on treadmill, run outside, do a strength session it go for a swim. It’s a beautiful evening but I’m not pushed about outside running for some strange reason but other options are okay. I would then go home make dinner for Boy and I and pack as I’m away for weekend. The pros of this are- I feel better after a work out, I won’t feel guilty after dinner, I can do some push ups as still trying to build up to one real one (weakling!). The cons are I’m tired, I’d be late home to make dinner (and I offered) and effort is involved in getting change etc. Tiny cons really!

Option2. Go home via shops, buy doughnuts and banana milk, binge and purge. Would have to be quick as boyfriend would get home, or he might already be home in which case I would have to hide purchases, I’d get a buzz after and would make dinner and pack, but would then crash later. Pros are that I get to eat doughnuts and that I get to feed the urge which means no fighting it. That’s it really. Cons are boy might be home already so I would have to hide purchases, he might get home during it so would need to be ready to cover up by running shower, I’d probably still be late making dinner, I’d feel awful after, I’d have wasted money, I would have consumed extra calories.

So we all know option 1 is best – and I am going to put my phone away now and head to gym. There is option 3 of just going home without binge/purging but if boy isn’t at home I know it would happen. Imagine how much spare time I would have if I didn’t have to fight this mental battle numerous times a day? Only way out is through though and every time I resist I get stronger. On days like this when I have the capacity to make better choices I need to honour myself by making them.

If anyone else is considering binging/purging tonight (or morning wherever you are!) I hope I can share some good choice fairy dust with you!