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Posts Tagged ‘counselling’

I haven’t got an Eating Disorder because I’m not thin.

I just need to eat a sandwich.

I haven’t got an Eating Disorder, I’m just greedy.

I make myself throw up for vanity reasons, I just don’t want to get fat.

Upon finally reading through my emails which I’d avoided doing for weeks, I found an e-newsletter from B-eat about Eating Disorder Awareness week. I’d wanted to blog about it but having lost motivation for everything, including this blog, I totally forgot.

Eating Disorder Awareness week started Monday, so I started to read about it, I watched this video made for awareness by the University of East Anglia, and spotted the not-your-stereotypical Eating Disordered girl. I went to the B-eat website to see if she had a story because I wanted to know, was she Anorexic, Bulimic, a Binge Eater or did she have something else? So I went to recovery stories and was disappointed with what I read.

Three Anorexia recovery stories, all from the same age group, all from a female perspective. These stories will help inspire hope in individuals suffering from Anorexia, but for those with Bulimia, EDNOS, and Binge-Eating Disorder, I was left wondering, where are all of us?

I could really use some inspiration right now. A recovery story about binge-eating and weight struggles would be much appreciated, but all I can read about is Anorexia survivors. And what about males suffering with Eating Disorders, where is their representation? Are we all lurking in the shadows somewhere, hoping someone else will come forward and speak out about our struggles so we don’t have to?

I took part in a documentary to spread awareness of binge eating and poor body image, had I known when I was 10, 11, 15, 17 that there was such a thing as binge eating and even disordered eating, I would have been able to help myself much sooner instead of finally realising at 19 that I had a problem that is the most common yet the least talked about Eating Disorder.

I kind of figured I’d done my bit with the documentary. But I can’t stand the thought of people like me, men and women, teenagers and adults and even children who will read something like these recovery stories and think I haven’t got an Eating Disorder because I don’t have Anorexia. Or I haven’t got an Eating Disorder because I’m not thin. There will be people thinking I’m not Bulimic because I don’t throw up after every meal, and that’s not Bulimia, is it? Because these are misconceptions floating around about all Eating Disorders, and Eating Disorders awareness projects are the perfect chance to clear these misconceptions up, by illustrating real people’s journeys through all types of Eating Disorders.

I’m so pleased that some women may read the recovery stories and realise that they need help, realise that they’re not alone in their struggle with Anorexia, and that’s fantastic. I truly believe you have to know you have an Eating Disorder before you can fight it. We are moving forward, the myths surrounding mental health are slowly waning as more and more people speak out about their terrible experiences with people who have said “why don’t you just eat a sandwich?” or in my case “why don’t you eat 3 meals a day and snack on fruit?”

Every recovery story posted on the internet, in a newspaper or magazine or even told to a friend is one step towards a greater understanding of Eating Disorders, and one more person in the world gaining the support that they need. And since Eating Disorders are so similar in their misuse of food and their hatred of the body and self, then shouldn’t all Eating Disorders be taken into account when raising awareness?

What do you think, as an Anorexic, Bulimic, Binge Eater, EDNOS sufferer or any other Eating Disorder sufferer, are you well represented?

Hayley Emma

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I haven’t stuck to my word. I haven’t written more on this blog. I thought it was out of disinterest if I’m honest. I read other blogs and find them so brilliant and eye-opening, or I’m glad someone spoke out about an aspect of Eating Disorders or weight loss/gain or being overweight. But I haven’t felt inspired to write anything myself.

The truth is, I’ve just been plodding along. Plodding along so much so that I got myself into a bit of … how shall I put it, a pit of distress?

I feel like I was a warrior, fighting in an epic battle, wearing this silver plated armour that’s covered in scratches and scars, but I still keep fighting my way through to get to the other side. But instead, I’ve fought so hard that I never took my eyes off of the fight and I didn’t realise there was a cliff edge up ahead. So I kind of stumbled into it. For the last fortnight I’ve been scratching my head, wondering when it was that I was so blinded by the fight that I didn’t see the cliff edge.

How that’s going to protect her in battle… I really don’t know. Her Vajayjay is showing.

(Source)

Since 2013 started, I’ve been feeling the exhaustion of Depression, not wanting to do the simple things like brushing my teeth but forcing myself anyway. It’s my job that’s stressed me out the most, not the actual work but travelling, waiting around for buses and it taking literally hours to get to work and back. I kept thinking just get to Christmas, just wait until Christmas and then you can review the situation. But Christmas came and went so fast (as it always does) and I just kept going.

Until last week, when I felt so dizzy and nauseas that I just stopped. Even when I stopped, I kept going (Which doesn’t make any sense but stay with me for a moment). Even when I knew I had nothing left to give and I’d reached my limit, travelling so far to work and counselling, and having no time for being sociable, I still made it to work feeling like something was wrong. My mind was scattered, I felt like I was about to collapse and any movement made me feel dizzy.

And the moment I got home I felt better, and that’s when I knew it was stress. (I was thinking brain problems, like a tumour, because that’s what my mind likes to do to me: terrify me)

I’m so frightened of going back to how I was before employment and during the earlier stages of therapy, that I’m almost depressing myself thinking about it. I’m dreading being unemployed, I’m trying to find a job but because of counselling it means I can’t apply for what I’d normally apply for (cryptic I know) I want to maintain and progress with battling my Eating Disorder, but what if I put on the weight I’ve lost? And last but definitely not least, my grandparents have Alzheimer’s, and it’s … it’s bad.

Having said that, something changed a while ago, I’m … better. Not recovered, but on the way.

Have any of you guys unexpectedly hit a wall with weight struggles or Eating Disorders?

Hayley Emma

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Yeah so… I am still alive.

I’ve tried to write a blog post numerous times, but I can’t seem to sum up what is happening at the moment.

Because… I’m doing really well.

After resisting binges left right and centre, being able to remind myself that I don’t need extra food, having that little voice in my head instead of just this screaming for me to binge… I haven’t felt the urge to binge as much.

I haven’t had to talk myself out of a binge so often, it’s as if the voice persuading me to binge is interrupted by a resounding NO. No, actually it’s not. I think saying NO to myself for over a decade and then sabotaging myself is a key pattern to my Eating Disorder. Being able to reason with myself has been something I’d never tried before.

I can binge if I choose, but it is a choice. If I eat this chocolate bar/3 bowls of cereal/huge bag of popcorn, then I have to take full responsibility for it, whether it leads to weight gain, or sinking into depression. But as well as this, it means I can take responsibility for if I don’t binge, it means I’ve done something to be proud of.

My therapist explained when I first came to her I was in a child ego state. I’d left Uni and moved back home with my parents, I was unemployed, had no money and so no independence, I wasn’t being very sociable, I was gaining weight… it was all going downhill, and I couldn’t stop it.

I didn’t want to save myself, I wanted someone to save me. I wanted it all to go away, and I didn’t want to have to work for it, because why should I have to? Not everyone has an Eating Disorder and Depression. Why did I have to deal with it when other people my age were getting on with their lives, and I was sliding backwards?

But now I’m thinking as an in control adult. I have a job (for now), my eating and weight is my responsibility, so now I can control that as well. I have an income, and I do things I stopped doing, like cleaning, things that I don’t want to do but I do because that’s what being an adult is all about. I don’t want to talk myself out of a binge when I feel the urge, I just want to grab the food and go. But I do talk myself out of it, because otherwise I’m choosing to binge, choosing weight gain. And I don’t want weight gain. I want to lose weight, and become fitter and healthier.

So that’s where I am right now.

How has your Eating Disorder progressed?

Hayley Emma

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I’ve never been a big fan of New Years Resolutions. My resolutions have always been to lose weight, and why stop there? To do better in school/college/uni, to dress better, get a better job, be a nicer person but be more assertive, do more for charity, meet a guy, make some more friends, be better friends with the friends I’ve already got… the list goes on and I end up doing nothing.

And I don’t like that these resolutions normally don’t last past march. Starting a diet on the first of January of a new year has always meant I was setting myself up to fail. Making a radical change was never going to last the test of time because the first of January became the first day of the rest of my life…No pressure.

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I deemed 2012 the year of change. 2012 meant becoming healthier, going to therapy and sorting out my ED riddled brain. This time last year I’d been on antidepressants for 3 months, weighed more than I’d ever been, was unemployed and thought I’d hit rock bottom. I was bingeing regularly, causing my family concern, and I rarely saw any friends.

During 2012 I gained even more weight, but I’ve also lost some weight. My bingeing got worse, as did my depression because I was facing problems I’d never faced before. Therapy meant I was ‘sitting with it’ rather than bingeing it away, until it got to a point where even bingeing wasn’t stopping me from feeling.

But 2012 is also the year that I took part in a documentary. It’s also the year that I revealed my arms for the first time in years as Bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding. It’s also the year that I got a job and maintained a job, despite that I’ll be made redundant in  the not too distant future.

And most importantly, it’s the year that I found the root of my bingeing problem. I haven’t binged in months. I’ve overeaten, I’ve made bad choices, but they’ve been my choices. I now realise that I control more than I realised. If I binge now, it’s my choice. I still feel the burning, unwavering urgency to binge, because bingeing is the only think that will make it better, but there is a little voice that’s growing stronger each time I listen to it, pointing out that bingeing will in fact make the situation worse. And that actually, facing the shit things will mean that you can move on from the shit things, rather than letting them fester and gnaw at you until bingeing becomes a coping mechanism.

me2013

So 2012 has been the year of change. Some of it was negative and although that sucked, like, properly sucked, I’ve also had some positives. I can honestly say 2013 doesn’t need a title, because I don’t know what’ll happen in that year. I’m in control of my eating, I’m sure my progress won’t be continuous, because life tends to chuck in stuff to trip you up, redundancy being one of them. But I’ve had the year of change, and now it’ll be more change, and maintaining the changes I’ve already made.

Do you have any new year’s resolutions? How was 2012 for you?

Hayley Emma

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I’ve thought of quite a few blog posts in the past fortnight, but every time I’ve sat down to write them I’ve stared at a blank page.

Although I’ve had a few ideas, I’ve felt like I’ve been carrying what I think might be the key to fully understanding my Eating Disorder. I’ve been carrying it round with me for a week, unsure of whether I should write about this without having had a proper discussion with my therapist.

Last week I was 20 minutes late for therapy. At the time I was upset about a difficult situation which I’m pretty powerless in, and I was tired from work. I found it difficult to drag myself out of bed and so was late, and then there was traffic, so my Dad took pity on me and after battling through the traffic, took me to therapy.

I said it was my fault and I should have gotten up earlier, but I didn’t realise how annoyed she was going to be, since most weeks I’m on time. It was no big deal, right? She said everything happens for a reason, but I thought maybe it was just really busy traffic and then she said:

“I’m not offended, but I know if you were going somewhere you were really excited about, you’d be on time.”

I nodded, but I thought “No, I wouldn’t.”

The discussion led to whether I thought this, as in therapy, was working for me. I left the office having to seriously think about what I wanted.

I considered leaving. Maybe therapy wasn’t for me? I felt like I’d been covering the same thing for a couple of weeks not really keeping up with the progress I’d made but not regressing either. Maybe having a job had lifted some of the Depression and I was in a better place, financially and emotionally?

But then I thought about how I’d have to really change my eating for good, and most importantly, how I’d lose weight. And what if I lost my job, or had a rough time at my job? In the current climate it’s very possible I’ll be unemployed again as soon as next year. It’s just so uncertain. What if I’m then plunged back into this swamp of Depression, jobless, struggling to leave the house and avoiding all of my problems until I’m even more overweight than right now?

As much as I want to sort it out myself or just get over it, I haven’t managed to do that before. If I’m hoping things will be different just because  I want them to be, then I have learnt nothing over the past couple of years. Lighterlife is a very attractive option which I might have gone back to, had I not gained this awareness into Binge Eating and Eating Disorders.

And then it hit me, I wouldn’t be on time to an event I was excited about. I cancel on my friends all the time because I get so anxious about what could happen whilst we’re outside, mingling with people who can see my body. It’s horrendous, and I never feel comfortable even though I want to see my friends. If I carry on the way I’m going, no one is going to want to meet me anymore, because I’d probably cancel and waste their day.

And honestly, the mess I’ve made of my house. I have been so messy and, there’s no other name for it, a total slob when it comes to cleaning that mess. It’s awful, i leave wrappers lying around, don’t put my clothes in my wardrobe but chuck them on the floor. I’m disgusted with myself. I am not this person. I’m not a clean freak by any means but I like things tidy, I like to be organised, I like to get to places early. And yet I’m not like that.

I kind of, sort of, hate myself… a little bit.

And it dawned on me, that giving up therapy now, following the same route I’ve taken before isn’t just going to suddenly change because I hope it will.

I have to make the change.

I missed therapy last week because I was in bed. I struggled to get out of bed, but who hasn’t when it’s still dark outside, and cold? But people get up, because they have to. Otherwise they’ll be late, or they’ll miss work etc, and there are repercussions to these actions.

Today I sat in front of my therapist and explained all of this. I’m scared, because moving forward on a different path means the unknown, and for whatever reason, I’ve wanted to avoid that for years. But on the other hand, somewhere new has got to be better than where I’ve already been.

Hayley Emma

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I had a difficult session yesterday, it was the first time I contemplated walking out of the therapist’s office.

I’m not that great with anger. It takes me a lot to get riled up properly, mostly because of the ultimate pet hate, which is:

1)      When someone talks in the 3rd person.

Hayley gets very annoyed by this. Hayley feels that people should stop talk do you know what? I can’t even do it. I can’t even write in the 3rd person because it pisses me off so much. It just screams delusions of grandeur.

This irritates me so much that my none of my family members would ever talk in the 3rd person because my rage would overflow and I would have to leave the room.

I’m exaggerating (I’m not) but this is how the majority of my anger is dealt with. It’s jokey anger, I’ll laugh as I cringe and go to my room to be alone if I’m frustrated. But I’ve realised that people not understanding me is a real source of anger for me. I find shouting and slamming doors futile: why shout at people who don’t understand? It’s not usually their fault.

I thought that my therapist understood me – I think she does now, now that I cried for almost all of the last session with frustration because it makes perfect sense to me that taking part in a documentary is easier than going for a walk for 30 minutes everyday.

I know some people don’t understand Eating Disorders. When I studied PTSD for my dissertation I didn’t understand how someone could be transported back to when the trauma happened and relive it as if they were there. I can read about it and empathise, but I’ll never understand it like someone who has experienced it.

And still, some people with Eating Disorders hold down full time jobs and wear shorts in summer and can go to the beach without too much distress – this isn’t my experience, I can’t fully understand that.

Going for a half hour walk everyday is… indescribably difficult. I think I finally put the joking aside and was able to show my therapist just how excruciating it is for me to leave the house. I have to pick what to wear, what I’ll feel comfortable in, regarding weather – I don’t want to be too hot but I also don’t want to show any skin. Do I take my mp3 player? It could help block out the outside world but what if I get out of breath and I’m breathing really loudly and I can’t hear myself but others can and they know I’m unfit and overweight and they’ll think I just overeat because I like food? And where do I go? If I go to the shops will I be able to not buy chocolate, and if I do how much do I buy, and will there be popcorn? And what will the sales assistants think of me? What if they say anything? And if I don’t go to the shop where do I go? And what if I get tired or panic or what if I don’t walk anywhere?

The thoughts that remind me of anxiety cat just go on and on, so that I don’t go for a walk and then I’ve failed. And then I feel terrible. Misunderstood and a failure.

And I have failed at walking for 30 minutes everyday, because my therapist suggested we make it 15 minutes everyday, and now I feel like a head case, and so so far from being able to cope with food, and losing weight, and being happy.

I like to have a bit of clarity and a meaning behind my posts but on this one I’m kind of stumped. My therapist said it might be my behaviours are so ingrained (I’m been hiding my body and hiding away inside at every opportunity throughout the last decade) that it’s going to take a lot of time and hard work to finally change.

I’m sick of waiting though, of dealing with these problems. What if I can’t get better? What if I’m doomed to yo-yo in weight until I give up altogether and collect cats for every year of spinsterhood? I’ve succeeded in weight loss before and it was euphoric… but the gain was so horrible that I don’t want to go back there again.

Eurgh. There. I’ve had an unedited moan. Any words of wisdom would be very helpful right about now.

Hayley Emma

P.s. Does anyone know what happened to Eating Disorder Memes?

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I had an epiphany last night (that’s not a euphemism).

Last week I realised I needed to try to push through the depression to go for a walk each day, something I haven’t been successful in. Last night I realised that instead of just wanting to be slim and healthy, I have to believe I can get there.

My counsellor mentions that I have to believe in myself pretty often. She believes I can get over this whole Eating Disorder malarkey, but she says I need to believe in myself. I figured when I started to lose weight maybe I’d start believing I could do it, but really I was sure it was impossible.

Last night I was reading I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna. It loses points for having the word ‘thin’ in the title, which to me conjures up an unattainable aesthetic that I don’t want to be, but it was recommended by a fellow blogger, who has since deleted his account. There is a visualisation technique in it which requires you to imagine yourself ‘thin’, imagine seeing a film of yourself doing everyday tasks and you’re slim. The book asks you to envisage how you sound, how you talk to yourself. And then when you’ve done this, imagine you are slim.

In my imagination, my slim self – note, not thin, not skinny, I will always have a healthy bum – was happy. It kind of surprised me just how happy my slim self was, and in my slim-self fantasy, I was eating a strawberry and laughing, like it was no big deal.

Strawberries aren’t exactly the food of death, but I’d be very aware of eating the right amount of strawberries rather than too many that I’m overeating or too little that I won’t get 1 of my 5 a day. In my imagination, I’m aware that I’m eating a strawberry, but not bothered by it.

And that’s what ‘recovery’ means to me.

I know some of these thoughts and obsessions are never going to go away, and I hope to be able to acknowledge them in the future but ultimately not be overpowered by them.

An ex-housemate once left a box of chocolates lying on the sofa overnight that she’d forgotten about, and it blew my mind. How could she have left chocolate, a half full box of chocolates downstairs AWAY FROM HER on the sofa where anybody could have had them ALL NIGHT and not been thinking about them every second?

I couldn’t fathom it. I kept looking at them, obsessing about them for her – I would never have eaten them, they weren’t mine. There was temptation though, don’t go thinking I’m a saint.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have that attitude to food, that nonchalance. I think that’s too far the other way for me. But recovery to me means that I’d acknowledge the box of chocolates, accept the thoughts of stealing them and bingeing on them and somehow trying to replace them and eat the exact same chocolates so she wouldn’t be suspicious, and then move on.

What does ‘recovery’ mean to you? And have you ever been in that will-I-get-caught-if-I-nab-that-biscuit kind of situation?

Emma

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