New Year (and bloody weight loss).

nye

I really hate New Year, or at least I think I do though a part of me wonders if I just think I do and make myself.

I don’t drink (for a heap of reasons) and I’m not really the going out kind. I say that, but I bet I’d enjoy my life more if I was.

New Year’s resolutions annoy me too, but then maybe I’m just being a New Year’s scrooge. I say I hate them because in my opinion today is the day. If you want to change something in your life, do it now. I also hate the whole ‘New Year, New me’ thing and the way that everyone gets increasingly obsessed with weight loss at this time of year.

I intend on joining the gym in January, maybe, but that has nothing to do with it being January and everything to do with it happening to be the time I want to join and it making financial sense to wait till the start of the month. Also, if everyone who set their goal as ‘to lose weight’ swapped it for ‘to be healthy’ than maybe it’d stick a bit more – and if healthy didn’t mean ‘eat less’, ‘exercise more’ and ‘don’t you dare eat bad foods’.

Healthy eating needs redefining. Healthy eating includes ‘bad’ food. I say ‘bad’ food because NO food is bad. I am sick of hearing it. I am sick of living in a society which turns food into something that is forbidden or naughty. Demonizing particular types of food and making them off limits does nothing but make people want them more. I’m pretty sure that the way to solve obesity is not to fat shame, is not to tell people they can’t eat certain foods and is not making people feel guilty. It’s also not pushing people to exercise for weight loss. Eating healthily and exercising should not be something people feel guilty for not doing, and forced to do.

If we encouraged people from a young age to eat a varied healthy diet including these ‘bad’ foods at times, and to exercise for enjoyment, exercise to be strong and fit, then we most likely wouldn’t need to worry about how we can get people to lose weight. I can’t see why people haven’t worked this out yet. You’d think it would be obvious that the current way of tackling the problem is doing nothing but see the problem get worse with both obesity and eating disorders increasing. My view isn’t exactly revolutionary, it’s just common sense.

You can see my problem with New Year.

On the other hand, being a  New Year scrooge makes the whole thing pretty depressing. But this time of year can feel pretty awful for people who aren’t perhaps where they want to be in life or not surrounded by family and friends. It’s a lovely time for those that are, and a lonely time for those that aren’t. Apparently suicide rates go down at Christmas, and up at New Year, and I can completely see why.

I’m feeling like I’m going to feel a bit miserable this New Year’s eve. Maybe one day I will find my own way of enjoying it. I’m quite ready for the married life in that sense. Couple of young kids, friends around my house to have a quiet night-in welcome to another year.

I know people say the best years of your life are when you’re young, but that just isn’t the case for everyone.

(On a side note: if New Year is your thing, yay! And if it helps you to reflect on your life and the things you can improve on, I ain’t about to stop you!)

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The Worst Part of Recovery

Ok, there are a lot of ‘worst parts’. The worst parts are the parts you are dealing with right now.

Since coming home, behaviour wise I have been so much better but today is my first day home alone and I am struggling. I’ve always seen myself as a ‘on my own’ kind of person, and I remember even as a child saying I wanted to live on an island by myself. When I know I will have the house to myself, at home or at university, I look forward to it.

Yet I’m absolutely awful at being alone and when I am alone, I struggle.

I’m exhausted. I am constantly tired, tired and hungry, and I’m not too sure why. I’m also anxious. I’ve got an assignment I need to do but it’s going nowhere fast. In fact, it’s going nowhere at all. I’m feeling lazy, which I can’t stand, and yet I don’t want to do anything.

More than anything I am anxious about going back to university. I thought I felt ‘safer’ there but the reality is I don’t. I actually feel quite alone there, even when surrounded by people.

The part I am struggling with right now is not engaging in negative behaviours, but still feeling the same, still feeling awful. It makes it hard to keep on making the ‘right’ choices. I can’t help but wonder how long I can keep on going, and fear things going backwards when I get back to university. And it’s not being able to hang on for long enough, that sends me right back to the start.

I guess I am still learning, but that doesn’t mean I know nothing.

I’m learning that I need to talk, and to try my hardest to use my appointments to get out what I need. I am learning to try get my head out of my illness and spend time in the ‘real’ world and I am trying to learn to be ok with where I am at, even if it’s not where I want to be.

Today I am tired, anxious and a little low, so I will have a bath and snuggle up. I will meet my Mum from work to get outside for a bit and I will try get on with some university work tonight, and if I can’t do it, I’ll try again tomorrow.

Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, Just Do It.

just do it I’m hitting a point where I am sick of myself. There’s a gap between where I want to be, and where I am and no amount of planning or longing for things to be any different is helping, and I seem to repeatedly fall into doing the exact opposite of what I really want, despite really wanting it.

I’m beginning to wonder if it is because some times I cannot tell the difference between that which I THINK I want, and that which I truly want. Sometimes certain negative behaviours feel like the solution in the moment, sometimes they feel like the only way and all that it does is leave me standing just where I was. I think it takes time, change has a process and sometimes we spend a while sitting with an idea, with the next steps we want to take, but are not yet ready to take them.

The thing is, I am so certain I am ready. I am so sick of not taking them, so why don’t I? I think that is the bigger question, to which I can think of a lot of answers to. Fear, feeling undeserving, being stuck in a rut..the list can go on. It’s not so easy working out which one is the main reason for me. I am sick of how I am living though. I am sick of being stuck, and maybe at some point I’ve just got to do it. Talk less, think less and act more.

Coping at Christmas – Part Two: With an Eating Disorder

Christmas can be a difficult time with any mental health problem, but especially so with eating disorders as food forms such a large part of the festivities, and involves eating in a way that doesn’t fit with your normal routine. It involves different foods, different meal times and different people. These things can be hard, but Christmas can also be enjoyable. No matter what stage you’re at, it doesn’t have to be all bad. There can still be good moments and there are ways you can make it easier:

  1. Be realistic. If you’re near the start of recovery, it’s going to be harder and what you can achieve is not necessarily the same as someone who is near the end of recovery. Focus on where you are, don’t compare yourself to any one else.
  2. Be proud of yourself. If even sitting at the table is a big deal, be proud. If eating anything at all is a big deal, be proud. Or if you’re in a stage where you are able to eat more, but managing pudding is a big deal, be proud!
  3. Talk to someone. Professional, friend, family member, it really doesn’t matter so long as it is someone you can be honest with. Have someone you can text or call if your feelings and thoughts get too bad. Perhaps speak to someone who is going to be there at the meal times so they are aware of how hard it is for you.
  4. Say no. It’s alright not to go to every meal, every party or every event.
  5. Don’t compensate. It’s more likely to lead to reactive eating episodes if you miss things to compensate for other things. Don’t let your eating disorder trick you into eating less than you’d normally eat.
  6. Remember it’s Christmas. It’s normal to eat differently, it’s normal to eat extra. It’s also normal to gain a little weight (that doesn’t mean you will carry on gaining weight forever). Remember that it is Christmas and this is time for you to spend with those you love.
  7. Think about what can help you specifically. Whether that’s having a plan of what you’re going to eat, talking to the person serving the food, having a plan to go for a short walk before/after meals to calm you down or asking your family not to comment on what you eat.
  8. Enjoy it! As much as you can, have a good time.  Even if some parts are really tough, that doesn’t mean some parts won’t be really good, and remember that if you fight through this year, each year you will find yourself struggling less and less.

For general tips on coping at Christmas look here.

What I am grateful for.

I’m going to do a second post on coping at Christmas later this week. My first one can be found here, and was on generally managing the festive season. My second is going to be on something I can relate to very much, and it is that of eating disorders but for now I want to write about my personal thoughts at this time of year.

I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa over eight years ago, and I’ve relapsed twice in that time, and Christmas has always been one of the most difficult times of the year even when I’ve been doing well.

It feels like it is all about food. During my worst periods, Christmas meant nothing to me other than fear. Big dinners, puddings and more than once. I dreaded the whole thing and it often led to me slipping even further into my eating disorder leading up to, and following the period.

It makes me sad looking back now. I am so much more rational about food than I’ve ever been, and although that doesn’t make it easy, it makes it better. I can see now that a couple of days of extra food, in the grand scheme of my life, isn’t going to do any harm. I can see now that, like most people’s, it’s quite likely that my weight will go up a little, and also very likely it will drop back afterwards. I’m sat here thinking “all of these years of stopping myself from eating what I want at Christmas when all it would have done is make my weight go up a little temporarily”.

Yet at the time, the idea of my weight going up at all sent terror through my body and most years I ended up losing weight over Christmas because I’d be so worried, I’d eat less than normal. I’d say no to pudding, or eat just a little. Skip potatoes. Skip roasted vegetables.

I still struggle. I’m not going to eat like I would if I didn’t have my eating disorder, but I will eat pudding. I will eat roasted vegetables and potatoes, and this year I might even say yes when the chocolates are passed around. I will find it hard, it will feel wrong, but I will be glad that I am finally doing it. I might not be eating disorder free, I may not be quite where I want to be, but I am happy with how far I have come, and I look forwards to all of the years to come as I see myself get better, and better. Stronger and stronger. The years of being afraid to eat the chocolate out of my advent calendar are long gone, and one day perhaps all of my fears will be gone completely. I am sad to think of how I haven’t let myself enjoy the festive meals when really it would never have hurt me at all; all of my fears were lies.

However there is one thing I regret even more.

I regret that for years Christmas meant nothing to me other than fear of food. I regret that the fear of food drowned out how wonderful it is to be able to spend time with family. This year I am so excited that food isn’t going to dominate it all. That when the guilty feelings creep in, I will tell my thoughts that I do not have the time or the interest in allowing them to occupy my mind when I can be spending time with the people I love the most. I will tell the thoughts where to kindly go, and I will go snuggle up in the lounge with my family, or go take a nice (cold) walk. I will watch them open their presents, I will help with the preparation. I will really experience Christmas.

Living with an eating disorder takes away the best parts of you. It also takes you away from people. It stops you really experiencing the world around you and it takes you away from what things are really about. It’s not because you’re bad, it’s not because you don’t care and it certainly isn’t because you love your family any less. It’s just that it really consumes everything. Every last thing.

I am so, so grateful for where I am. Although there is still room for improvement, and although I still struggle with various parts of my mental health, I am so proud of how far I have come, and so proud of my family.

We are still here despite everything, and our love is stronger than ever.

I’m telling you, it does get better. Even when times are hard, they can still be good. It’s not about reaching the final destination of being free of the disorder, although of course that is the goal. It’s about realising how far you have come, and being ok that there is still a little way to go.

Coping at Christmas – Part One: with mental health problems.

There a lot of posts about coping with Christmas flying around. I don’t think there can ever be too many. We all find things that help us and they’re all worth sharing. What works for one person may not work for another, but it could and that is worth a shot.

  1. Accept where you are. There is so much pressure at Christmas that it is so easy to end up putting on a front, almost turning into another person. It can work, but it can also leave you feeling worse afterwards. It’s ok to be struggling. It’s ok to not feel as festive as everyone around you. Don’t let the pressure of it make you worse. Focus on accepting where you are, and remember that even if you aren’t where you want to be this Christmas, it doesn’t mean you won’t be one day.
  2. Speak to someone. If you can, it’s really good to talk over the worries you have for the festive period. It doesn’t matter who. If you have professional help, talk to them. If you have a good friend, talk to them. Perhaps you can agree to text them if you need someone. If you can manage to talk to someone who is going to be with you over the period, even better. Tell them you’re a bit worried, tell them you might need them. Let them know if there is anything they can do to help.
  3. Work within your limits, be prepared. Think about what you can reasonably do. If going to every single event is going to be too much, it’s ok to say no to some.
  4. Have a go at some relaxation techniques (even if you think they aren’t for you!). Try a progressive muscle relaxation video, or try these that take less than 10 minutes.
  5. Look after yourself. Eat enough, don’t drink too much, make sure you get your sleep. If you need space, get it. Pop out for a 15 minute walk to get some air or go have a soak in the bath. Take your medication.
  6. And if you need someone to talk to, try helplines like Samaritans.