Regrets and risks

A very important question was put to me recently: what risks have I balked on taken and regretted?

At first I couldn’t think of anything. Because every risk has its, well, risks, and how would I know if I’d made the right decision?

At first I thought maybe not continuing to work at the veterinary practice where I was a receptionist /assistant during my gap year. Had I stayed I would have been trained up as a nurse. And I do love animals.

But I had a ski season lined up. And uni. Neither of which I regret.

How different would my life be if I’d sacked off the uni and ski season and become a veterinary nurse? I’d have missed out on experiences, that’s for sure. And lifelong (I hope) friendships. I certainly wouldn’t have worked for the Daily Mail.

Working there made me ill though, so I circle back around to whether I made the right decision. At the time I didn’t know what a risk it was.

Whatever path I took would have lead to a different life. So I think the best answer is that I shouldn’t have regrets. Everything in life is a risk. I just chose one, right or wrong.

Fun but profound: declining a gift of limitless proportion

If you could have one dream gift what would it be?

A new car? £1000000? An island in the carribean? Maybe it would be marrying the love of your life with no spending limit for the ceremony. Or how about first class flights to anywhere in the world for the rest of your life for free?

The big bucks: image from amazon.co.uk

That was a question presented to me during a recent Zoom discussion. The lady running it private messaged us all a potential not-your-average gift based on what she thought each of us would be extatic to receive.

We each then shared it with the group (the conceptual gift that is) and mine was the £1000000. Then we had to consider and discuss what the downsides of each would be. Trust me, it was a hard one!

But with many things in life, to every high has it’s lows.

I met my fiance in rehab, for example. Had I not had the issues that took me there I never would have met him. But the shame of the reason I was there in the first place caused me to isolate from many friends and family members.

Then there’s Covid. Just look at the amazing work people are doing to help others.. For me, personally, it has been the offers of help with shopping or picking up meds from virtual strangers, and the man who helped me when I collapsed in the street. Plus I’m now talking to my grandma every week. We never used to do that. So in that way isolation has ironically made us closer.

But back to the gift of a life time idea. I realised it would potentially drive me away from the people I love not on the same financial level as me. I would squander money on useless things. I would probably become more selfish and no longer feel any desire to work, thus eliminating the joys of success and the new friendships I would make with my colleagues. I mean, I’m not working now and I really miss that. Would I ever truly feel content?

And of course there’s the elephant in the room of my own personal problems. Would my eating disorder worsen to the point of hospitalisation? Would I kill myself through drink? Recently I was in hospital and all I could hear one night was a man screaming over and over again. He was dying. From alcohol. His skin was yellow and bruised. They were basically keeping him alive on painkillers. The next day the bed was empty.

Jen went on to read a passage from the bible that highlighted the very same concept.

I can’t become a believer overnight. But with the help of others I can apply some of the principles of the bible to everyday life. And it becomes more manageable and less overwhelming.

And as for my £1000000, I guess it’s true what they say, money can’t buy you happiness.

Whats in your mirror today?

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Image from Steemit

When you look in the mirror what do you see?

Is it an image of success? Or one of failure? It’s a strong word that. Failure. And I believe we use it way too much. Because really, just having got out of bed and fixed the sheets is a success. If you’ve got a pet you’ve probably fed it and possibly yourself. You may have said a prayer if you’re a religious person. And most of us will already have an idea of what we want to do with our day and been in contact with friends or family.

So really, the day will have got off to a fairly good start.

But have you said anything positive to or about yourself today? Or have you focused on the negatives? The washing up left in the sink from last night’s dinner or the hoovering that needs doing?

I’ve written recently about self judgement and the ways in which others judge us. Or at least, the way we think they’re judging us.

I’ve been in hospital not too long ago and when going through my medical history and what medication I’m on, the nurse’s voice often turns to a bit of a whisper when going on to ask about my alcohol consumption and what I’m doing about it.

Immediately I feel judged and ashamed. I feel like a failure.

The image of the below was sent to me when I was going through a particularly tough time. And when I spoke to friend of mine who is very religious she told me to rememver that Jesus doesn’t judge me. He loves me. And he forgives me. That’s positive self talk.

So why do we judge ourselves so harshly?

If we take the statement from the image and apply it to ourselves we face the question of why we allow ourselves to believe the judgements of others or our assumption of their judgements?

Perhaps instead we shout be asking: what is that person thinking and feeling? Can we help them? The obvious reaction might be to feel resentment towards them but does that help us ourselves or them?

I’ve heard it said that there is no such thing as a selfless good deed. But maybe this is the exception to the rule.

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions but they’ve been circling round in my head and I’d love to hear what anyone’s thoughts are. (if you’d read this post this far. I know it’s a bit of a ramble).

And there I go again – self judgement and assuming no one will find it interesting. I want to read more into what has been written on the topic and I’ll blog about what I find out.

Seeing the small things and getting back into reading

Image from Bretton Woods Projecr

Everyone has something or something to be grateful for. Whether it’s a sunny day sitting in the park with a coffee, or simply being alive and not in pain.

I’m making it my mission to find thing(s) to be grateful for everyday, however big or small.

It’s so thing we did in rehab – 3 things per day – and although I scoffed at it at first, once I actually engaged I did find it quite cathartic.

As pre previously stated, I’m terrible at doing nothing. I love TV as much as the next person, but I’m not a sit around in front of the box type…

So in many ways this blog has been my way of expressing my creativity, I do all the cleaning in the house and I’ve gone back to reading.

Any suggestions or recommendations please let me know!

Dear life, Please take away my pain

Image from Healthy Place

It’s 4am and I’m doing everything you’re not supposed to do when you can’t sleep. I’ve checked the time, put a film on. I’m writing this blog post. Basically I’m stimulating my brain which yes, I know, isn’t the greatest idea when sleep isn’t happening.

I woke up probably about an hour ago, having slept in a position that gave me cramp/pain in my right elbow. I also needed a wee and was thirsty so I dealt with all those things and got back into bed with a handful of painkillers for my mouth.

I know I could just block everything out – physical and mental – by drinking loads and effectively numbing myself but I don;t wan’t to. pain

Ideally I’d like the NHS to actually help me. I’m bottom of the list really because as far as they’re concerned I’ve brought this on myself. And to some extent I suppose I have, and I know doctors and hospitals are already overwhelmed.

What they don’t seem to get is that I’m trying so hard to get better. If you get the right doctor then getting sober can be sorted with diazipan. But I’ve not been hugely successful in persuading a doctor to give me any and the only other safe option is to slowly reduce: effectively continue drinking until there is space in a rehab facility.

The other thing no one seems able to help me with is the struggles I have with eating properly. I’m trying, I really am. I want to eat, but currently I can’t use my front teeth because of the damage caused during my most recent seizure. And even if I chew with the back ones the front set still clash together.

I’m sure most people will think I just making excuses to cover up my eating disorder. But when I’m really trying it just seems unfair that physical ailments are holding me back.

It’s times like this I wish it would all just end. Like the couple in The Titanic who accept their fate and lie in bed holding hands as the water fills their cabin. But as I’ve previously posted, I don’t want to die. I want to get better.

So that’s my depressing rant over, I’ve got a lot of appointments coming up – mostly telephone rather than face-to-face due to the coronavirus outbreak. Hopefully that’ll keep me busy and laying off the woe-is-me attitude. Day by day I hope I’m making progress.

Love thyself AND thy body… Self care in recovery

Photo courtesy of houseofcourage.ca

‘Stop drinking’, they say, ‘get your act together and be “normal”.’

Um yes, that’s the end goal but there’s so much more to it. And I’m not just talking about psycho-therapy.

Ultimately, recovery (or not) comes down to the individual and sometimes it’s the littlest, seemingly mundane tasks that help.

One of them is starting to love yourself again. Alcohol might, as it id for me, begin as a really shitty coping mechanism for my eating disorder. Then it spiraled out of control. For a while when one was OK, the other wasn’t. I can now recognise that. Then both got a million times worse at the same time.

It wasn’t until rehab that I realised the importance of re-learning how to love and look after myself. I didn’t feel like I deserved it but there is copious amounts of research to support how crucial it is. One example is published on Science Direct, based on a 2019 conference, which reads: ‘The beneficial effects of self-care include improved well-being and lower morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs.’

In rehab we had a hot tub, a sauna, a gym. There were weekly acupuncture and massage sessions. Irrelevant, you may think. But I truly believe it helped, even if only to distract my mind for 30 minutes/ an hour at a time.

According to the Silver Ridge Recovery blog there are six main aspects To achieving and maintaining successful recovery:

  • Fuel your brain and body with healthy food. …
  • Have fun and relax every day. …
  • Get plenty of sleep. …
  • Exercise. …
  • Reduce stress. …
  • Stay mindful.

Science Direct goes on to add: “There is growing recognition of the need for people with chronic conditions to assume responsibility for their own health and to be actively involved in self-care. Out of 525,600 min in a year, patients spend only on average 66 min or 0.01% of the time with healthcare professionals (Racine, 2017). All other health maintenance, illness prevention, monitoring and management activities are done by persons with chronic conditions and their care partners as self-care activities (Riegel et al., 2017). A care partner can be defined as “a person who provides unpaid care to someone with a chronic illness, disability or other long lasting health or care need, outside a professional or formal framework” (https://eurocarers.org/about-carers/).”

Over the next few posts I’m going to be looking into the positive results of taking the time to do things such as care for your skin, your hair and your body. As well, of course, as your mind.

Just take the example of my kitten, Bruno, who loves nothing better than playing with his toys, eating nutritious food he likes, going for a run aroun outside then having a chill out on his blanket…

Make like Bruno and have a cat nap

To run or not to run…

From the eating disorder recovery centre blog

It’s a bit of a catch 22.

How do you recover from an eating disorder when (unrealistically) you feel like you can’t consume calories without burning them off through exercise, yet don’t feel strong enough to do any?

One doctor says do it – it releases endorphins and helps you get a better relationship with food and your body, another says nope, bad plan.

It’s something that’s bothered me for years. I used to love going to the gym and going running – when I lived at home I would run round the green and along the river to meet my mum and dad at their favourite coffee shop on a Saturday morning.

BBC 1 Newsbeat are running a series about, well, running. And I found this girl’s story about beating bulimia with running really inspiring.

Her name is Jess and bulimia struck her in 2017. Today she finds running gives her a healthier relationship with her body.

For me at the moment it’s total baby steps. But if I could get back into a fitness regime I’m hoping it would make me feel better about my own body. As reported on the BBC: ‘Today running gives her the energy she didn’t have, and she is using running to “change the relationship with her body”.’

I don’t want to push myself too hard too fast. i also don’t want to become obsessive about it – at one point I was gym-ing at least twice a day. But it’s a goal. And I intend to start working towards it.

How to ruin recovery

Photo courtesy of Emily Fonnesbeck

One man’s trash is another man’s gold. But one girl’s recovery is not or shouldn’t be the inspiration to fuel another girl’s eating disorder.

It has really upset me to read that someone who had the guts to go public about her eating disorder is being used as ‘thinspiration’ for the masses.

A few days ago the BBC reported that eating disorder recovery images from Kara Henry’s Instagram account had been taken without permission and used to promote weight loss. One image was liked more than 14,000 times with has tags like #howtoloseweight

Kara went from around 4 stone to healthy and has come so far in her recovery, I hate to think what this might do to her. 

Triggers are everywhere, in places and words people might not even realise. I often don’t know what’s going to push me over the edge of recovery until it happens. 

In my former job as a journalist I was often in contact with the press officer at Beat – the eating disorder charity. I could probably write a book on why young girls shouldn’t aspire to have a ‘thigh gap’ like many supermodels. And yes, it’s still hard to apply that advice to myself, but it’s desperately sad to see that this is happening. 

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s gold. 

In this case one girl’s trash of her eating disorder should not be counted as anyone’s gold except her. 

She went public with good intentions. And that should be celebrated, not abused.

New year, new fresh start

It’s been a while since I posted anything and while I don’t expect huge viewing figures I (somewhat selfishly) find it quite cathartic to put things into writing. Some people write in a journal, mine just happens to be an online version of that. 

The reason I haven’t posted in so long is because the past couple of months have been a bit of a bumpy ride. But this week I had appointments every day, sometimes 2 in a day. Now that might sound like nothing to the majority of people but for me it was quite draining. They have however given me a bit of a kick up the ass so to speak. I CAN get up at 7am, I CAN travel over an hour for an appointment, I CAN face meeting new people. 

It’s baby steps once again but hopefully in the right direction. 

Up until a few days ago I really couldn’t eat anything without feeling desperately sick because I was tired of the drinking cycle and decided to stop so I was withdrawing like hell. But I’m back on proper food and I think it’s doing me some good. I’m trying to ignore the demons in my head telling me I’m just gonna get fat and simply enjoy the flavours, the textures, the warmth (if its hot food). My only fear is that I know when the drinking stops the eating disorder kicks in hard.

To anyone without an eating disorder this probably sounds ridiculous but I have no other way to describe it. So back to my original point of getting back on track, here some of what I’ve been having: Soup, cod, even just toast and marmite or marmalade (Paddington reference – a clever bear always carries a marmalade sandwich in his hat)

first real meal after a lot of nothing
cod, veg and giant couscous (so good they named it twice!)

I’m hoping that finally, after years and years of this, that 2020 is my year, and to anyone reading this who is struggling I hope it’s yours too. 

Ramble over. Thank you to anyone who has read my drivel.

Happy New year everyone I hope it’s happy, healthy and successful for all of us.

ED Recovery: It can happen

https://www.mindfuleatsnutrition.com/blog/eatingdisorderrecovery

There are times when I feel like full eating disorder recovery is out of reach entirely, perhaps that I’ve crossed the point of no return already. Woe is me, I know. So it was reassuring to read research that suggests otherwise.

A 30-year-long study carried out by Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry has found that more anorexia sufferers made it to recovery than not.

I really had thought that having discovered my issues started in my teens that was it. I was doomed. But this gives me some hope.

50 teenagers were involved in the study, which began in 1985. Now, 30 out of 47 of those who contributed to the follow up have achieved recovery.

According to Elisabet Wentz, Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy : “In our study we see no deaths, which unfortunately occur in clinical studies. But as for full recovery from eating disorders, the outcome is the same as in other long-term studies. In line with other studies, 30 of the 47 respondents in the follow-up part of the study have fully recovered.”

There’s no magic cure, and I’m aware that other studies contradict these findings. but at 31 years old it gives me hope that I might be one of those who CAN achieve recovery, despite how long it’s been since I started having food issues.

The findings have been reported here: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-05/uog-tya052719.php