Self-inflicted Mind Games


I’ve been back in London a week now and straight into my new house with my new housemates – two very good friends of mine and between you and me, once we get all the boring general admin such as bills and the like sorted, we’ll be ticking over just fine.

However, I feel so incredibly nervous and scared. One friend knows I am recovering from bulimia and the other doesn’t and I have this inexplicable feeling that I’m going to be watched and monitored. Even though it would be from such a good place deep in her heart, I just don’t want pressure to eat…maybe because I still struggle to eat in front of others…because I know it’s still something I’m working through.

It’s funny because I was scared to weigh myself but this time when I plucked up the courage I was actually lighter than I thought I would be. I shook my head and thought, no, this can’t be right, I must be heavier. And so I moved the scales around…same weight…I went and grabbed my laptop…I was heavier…removed the laptop…back to the initial weight.

I was convinced the scales must be broken. Convinced there was simply no way I could have lost some weight whilst away.

Impossible.

But I just realised something this evening.

Three days ago I had to register with a new Doctor’s Surgery and they asked me to weigh myself on some special digital machine thingy-magigy. It told me I was half a kilo heavier than what my scales had told me. This was with my gorgeous baggy jeans and grey sweatshirt combo!

But the implication of this simply didn’t register with me.

But today I realised that maybe my scales are correct and my mind is wrong. Why don’t I believe the solid evidence that my regular eating has helped me lose some weight in a healthy manner? Why am I convinced I must be so much heavier than these scales are telling me?

It’s such a vicious circle. If the number was higher I’d be unhappy and yet it’s lower than expected and I’m still unhappy because I’m convinced I’m bigger than what I am?

A lower number urging me to restrict or purge because surely the number is wrong.

It’s a tough one to get past.

Then again, my friends were happily lifting me onto their shoulders last weekend so this short arse over here could actually see something! That in itself tells me that my perception is distorted. I’m not the number I think I am. Even if I was, surely I’m worth more than that anyway.

Twitter: @elenip92

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‘Full of Joy’


I haven’t written for almost a month, in fact, I think it’s been almost exactly a month since I last wrote. Most of the times when I go silent it means something’s up, something I’m not quite ready to tackle head on but I’m pleased to say this time it’s quite the opposite.

To the north of mainland Greece there’s a teeny tiny island called ‘Skiathos’ and it is by far my favourite. I first came here when they told me I was too fat to represent my country at a Paralympic Games and whilst I arrived all doom and gloom I definitely left, yet again, quite the opposite.

So where else would I head to when I had about a month to myself? Where else would I go where my friends are more like family than my own? So yes, you guessed it, here I am in my favourite place in the entire world. 24 days down, 2 to go. 

I thought I’d get bored or lonely at least once because just under four weeks is a long time. But fact of the matter is, I simply haven’t and I’ve loved every single minute. I’ve been meaning to write but I’ve just been so distracted with sun, sea and my family that I wish was my own. The only reason I’ve finally managed to sit down and type something out is because it’s stormy and windy today that I don’t really have any other option!

The first weeks were tough. I couldn’t help but compare myself to everyone else I saw around me. How flat I perceived their stomachs to be. How I perceived myself in comparison. I restricted and I purged but I also did get it under control. 12 weeks…2 episodes of purging. I tried to deal with it healthily and I will admit I struggled but being around old friends and adoptive family filled me with so much joy – there’s a phrase Greeks use in response to the question, ‘How are you?’ – mi hara – ‘full of joy’ and I think that in itself is a beautiful response. 

One day I woke up insanely happy, I felt some sort of spring in my step and I even later in the day cried over text to my bestest. I simply felt happy. I’ve tried to change how I word things – I would say ‘everyone is so much skinnier than me’ and today I noticed I wrote ‘how I perceived…’ . Trying to develop my awareness of my eating disorder symptoms. I used to write I missed who I used to be before my ED and during this trip I realised I should never have focused on becoming a past version of myself because, simply put, we all change. And, yes, I’ve experienced some horrible things but that doesn’t mean I won’t become the best version of myself as a result.

I told him I loved him. The three words slipped out after weeks of me trying to hold them back. I knew I wouldn’t hear them said to me and that was okay but naturally not the greatest feeling. It got to me a bit but now? I’m completely different. I knew I wouldn’t hear them but I still wanted to say how I felt. I didn’t need to hear them back regardless of how much I want to hear them one day. I was brave enough to put my heart on the line because I cared about being honest with my feelings – for myself as much as for him.

Working really hard to separate my inecurities from reality. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a scary sorta limbo. I know we’re pretty awesome and the fact he’s made a noticeable effort to text more as I’m more of a ‘communicator’ so to speak, the dedicated weekly face time slot and the simple fact that if I need him, really need him, he’s there…and yeah, we’re pretty awesome together…there’s no need to worry. I don’t want to reach that stage where I may have to deal with a guy who decides he’s never gonna love me but I can’t live in fear of something that’s only got a 50% chance of occurring. I’d probably self-sabotage it all that way anyway.

He does say something to me though – ‘I like you an absolute lot’ 

I think I like that more than ‘I love you’ 

Bit like how I prefer the Greek saying of ‘I’m full of joy’ rather than ‘I’m good/fine/okay’ because when I say the latter, some of it is a lie…but I’m always full of joy so to speak as I’m one of those people who finds happiness in the simplest of things, always happy even if I’m not okay with my body shape or my perception of myself.

Maybe I’ll start focusing on trying to be full of joy. Focused on the little things that bring me happiness rather than the things that make me feel okay about myself…

Almost There

My 25th birthday yesterday and to celebrate my quarter-of-a-century-ness the opticians delivered my first ever pair of glasses. Seven years of reading and writing and reading and writing and reading some more at university has left my eyes a little bit worse than where they started off.

Perfectly lovely birthday even if I did panic a little bit at the restaurant we went to. More than an hour in the queue but between you and me, totally worth it. Even lucky enough to be given one of the best tables in the room. Luckier to have pretty awesome company.

I got my exam results today.

I got a distinction in my degree.

That means I’ve kept my job.

That means, after all this time, after all this hard work, after everything that could go wrong and did go wrong, I’m finally going to be a Trainee Solicitor.

At one of the top law firms in the country too.

I really messed up one of my exams, I knew I did and I was worried the mark was going to cost me my job but turns out I passed it. Only just mind; I passed the exam by 5 marks and God did it bring down my average, but, I passed.

And even though it was my lowest mark I’m incredibly proud of it because though I majorly struggled I tried my damned hardest to learn everything I needed and coming out the exam I knew I was close to the pass mark, nothing more but potentially a lot less.

But it doesn’t matter how much I got past that pass mark because I got past it. All I needed to do was get over the pass mark and I would still be employed come September. The firm could take my job away if I didn’t get a certain mark in my degree but they can’t because I did it.

I made it.

Well, almost…

I still have a week to finish the business masters the firm wants me to do and I’m half way through. The finance element has killed me mentally, I’ve never cried over work but that made me cry four times. However, I currently have 2,432 words of my education left, so I suppose I best get back to it…

For once, it’s not really been a bad week in my world.

Twitter: @elenip92

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Hello

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I have a weekly face time catch up with a best friend of mine. A best friend I’ve actually only known two years, a best friend who’s been a best friend possibly less than a year but, regardless, the best of the best. 

Doesn’t matter how long you’ve known someone, all that matters is that they’re there.

But when you realise they are there, even when you didn’t expect it because you hadn’t asked them to be…that’s when you know just how special they are.

I cancelled last weeks’ FaceTime because I was incredibly stressed out for reasons discussed previously and also on that day Dad decided to visit.

I half-reluctantly met him and it was perfectly pleasant but I’m purely going through the motions now (I’m so fed up with him and would be happier without a connection…but mum begs me to stay in touch). 

Anyway, a perfectly pleasant lunch ends with him saying its time I met my half-sibling. He spoke about him so casually throughout lunch, ‘oh Jason has exams soon…oh Jason’s doing this that and the other’ and it’s weird to hear my dad talk oh so normally about a half sibling he surprised us all with a few years ago. The half-sibling he dotes on so much more than he ever did me. One of the reasons I had to pick my mum up all those years ago, one of the reasons there’s no money left and mum can’t pay her bills. I wasn’t even 7 years old when dad started the affair, barely 15 when the kid came along and just 19 when I found photographs and letters and skype messages telling the truth. So much hurt from a man that never cared and yet mum asks me to ‘be nice because he’s still your father and he’s so stressed out.’

Oh yeah, let me just put the man who hurt me over the years, who hurt all of us, first. Let me put him first simply because he has the title of father when all he is in reality, is a glorified sperm donor.

I broke down when I got home after lunch – my head was all over – food was too much to contemplate and I hadn’t been sleeping due to nightmares and I simply didn’t want to be alone so I went to his house to spend the night. I text her apologising for cancelling with no other explanation other than ‘I’m really stressed out’ and she completely understood because great friends always understand. 

But you know what an even better friend does?

This…

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I got this through the post on Monday and I cried. It took me completely by surprise and I cried. I sat on the kitchen floor and cried. I cried because I was slowly realising how much support I have. I’ve never doubted her support but this simply just got me. It went straight to my heart and seemed to release all that pain.

I hadn’t even told her any of the reasons why I cancelled because I’d been so busy the entire week. But that’s the thing. She didn’t need to know the ins and outs to be able to help me. She just knew something was up and that small postcard contained more support than you can even begin to imagine. A small postcard that has pride of place on my bedroom wall. A new daily reminder I can get through all this. A daily reminder that there are people there even when I don’t expect them to be.
Especially when they realise I need them before I do.
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Strength in Trust

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Sleepless nights that aren’t so sleepless anymore.
Night time Demons visiting less and less.
Still there. Still lurking. Still creeping around but maybe I’m stronger now.

Strong enough to read my ‘recovery book’ with all the steps I know I need to follow.
The steps my therapist trusts me to follow without the need for him to tell me to.
The book with all my little tips I know help make me stronger.

But when I’m not battling the night-time-Demon I’ve got the one that visits each day.
The one that taunts and tells me one more time.

One more meal.
Miss one more meal.
Push until lunch, until dinner, until bedtime, until morning.
Push on through the hunger. 

And if I’m strong enough to ignore those demands it starts a new line of attack.

One more purge.
One more bathroom visit.
Just do it now, and do it later and once again before bed.
Push on and get rid of it.

Such a happy year so far and I’m desperate to not let anything ruin just how happy I feel right now. I want to be strong enough to stop this.

And the affliction with the scales is forever the worst. A mix of fear yet desperation to know that  irrelevant number. Thinking it’ll give me the control I crave when I know it doesn’t.

Taking myself back to basics.
The Demon says I’m weak for it but I know I’m not.
Fishing out my old flashcards I’d look at in stages of panic.
Drawing out diagrams to work through the mix of emotions to reach an action plan.
Talking.
Writing.
Allowing myself time and space to heal.

To become strong again.

Even sending pictures of my meals to him so he knows I’ve at least made food. Won’t know if I’ve eaten it but I know that he’s trusting me to. Someone genuinely caring if I’ve eaten. Wanting to know, chasing me up if I haven’t sent a picture and I simply can’t lie and tell him that I’ve eaten when I know I haven’t.

I remember a dark day where I went for help and the reply was ‘I know you’ve not been eating/purging for 4 weeks but I’m not going to come to you and ask about it, gotta do it yourself.’
That response made me feel so weak – but then again, if I knew a friend/boyfriend was in trouble, would I wait for them to come to me? No.

I wasn’t weak in that situation.
I just wasn’t supported.
And yet, I thought I was the problem. I thought things were bad because I wasn’t a good enough girl for him which made me try even harder rather than walking.
But that’s in the past.

And I’m stronger for it.
Everyone tells me how strong I am.
Yet there’s day’s I believe it and days I don’t.

And I feel stronger simply because they trust me. He’s trusting me to eat. They’re all trusting me to eat. I just need to trust myself.
Trust myself that three healthy meals won’t make me gain weight.
Trust myself to balance eating and exercise in a healthy way.
Trust myself to avoid the urges.
Trust myself to put away the scales.

Because they trust me, I start to trust myself.
Trust myself that I’m strong enough because if my entire life is anything to go by…I know I am.

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Hey Boy, Hey Girl

What’s that saying? A problem shared is a problem halved? Well, let me tell you, that’s never felt more true for me this past week. About a month ago I came across someone I didn’t want to see. There was no verbal exchange between us but the look in his eyes and the fear in my heart were more than enough.

It triggered me.

One month later and I’ve only just woken up to the fact that I need help again. I felt ashamed. The dirty feeling I had last year and three years before crept up and infected me before I could even attempt to create an antidote.. Riddled with memories of fear, the nightmares started again.

Family drama swiftly arrived just in time to make an already difficult time twice as deadly. I tried to bury myself in work to hide the pain. To avoid confronting it and then it all came crumbling down.

It all triggered me.

And boy, I fell hard.

But I eventually asked for help.

And boy, did I get more than I expected.

A text to ask for some company so I wasn’t alone with that bathroom calling out to me. A phone call to ask for dinner and a bed for the night and all of a sudden the fear subsided, the shame calmed down and the screaming in my head became a whisper.

And boy, did I cry.

I was all curled up on my bed and I let it all out. I ended up curled up on his bed and I let even more out. I went to her bed and let It all out again.

And boy, did that help.

Coming to London has been more challenging than I gave it credit for. I left Manchester and the people who had helped me over the years and I was in the City with no one to turn to. No idea who I could trust. However, I can safely say I have two people who have helped lift
the pressure.

And boy, do I appreciate them.
And boy, do I love them as my best friends.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the other half of El-squared (a name that was born because we realised if we combine our names we get Eleni or hers). I couldn’t be more grateful for such a wonderful human being who has entered my life and I sincerely hope she is here to stay.

I also couldn’t be more grateful for the guy who has recently entered my life. I’m incredibly proud of myself for letting my vulnerability come out. I do believe that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with someone is a strong decision. He’s amazing, you know…and yet I’m still keeping him quiet. I really don’t need nor want anyone’s opinion and I’m enjoying keeping him all to myself. My special safe bubble. All mine.

In my little world of happiness both of these people have helped me create.

And boy, am I getting emotional just writing about them.

I suppose that shows that they truly mean something to me.

I have relapsed and I’m no longer scared to admit it. The hard truth is that if people do not know they can’t even begin to help me. If they don’t know my story they can’t begin to understand exactly how I need them. The other day I just needed his arms around me as I cried, I just needed that safe space he creates. I just needed her to help me eat dinner, I just needed that comfortable atmosphere she creates.

I’m sat on a plane right now and my emotions are considerably high. A slight tear of happiness drawing out the love I have for them both. Where am I going? I hear you ask. I’m off to Thailand, on my own little independent adventure. Two weeks to help me clear my head, two weeks to help me appreciate how strong I am and how proud I actually am of myself. Two weeks I am unbelievably excited for.

And boy, am I gonna miss them both.

She sent me a text before I went and it made me cry a bit. It genuinely did. God am I emotional for all the right reasons today?! Not only did she wish me the most amazing of adventures she told me how strong I am. I’m not about to go into details but she made me feel proud of myself and truth me told I feel exactly the same way about her. I feel as if she will be a constant in my life. A constant I truly need right now and I do hope I can give her just as much support as she gives me. A truly beautiful human being.

And oh boy does that make me lucky?

Signing off from God knows however many thousand feet in the air..

Laters taters ❤️

Blue Sky Reflections

You can learn a lot when you’re left to your own devices – in my case 4 whole days and 5 nights. It’s oh so cliched but I found myself a bit more than I thought was possible in Tenerife. I left the country to escape but what did I learn in the process?

Day 1: Being a beach bum taught me to appreciate myself

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Sitting alone on that volcanic black sand beach with the sun shining down on me filled me with relief – a sense of relief I would usually find through purging. I turned off my music and let myself be surrounded by purely my own senses and it was wonderful. It let me consider what’s led to such a pounding in my head lately and how I can overcome it. I didn’t need to resort to a Demon-induced visit to a dark place but rather that safe space I created on the beach which was incredibly calming for me.

I appreciated what I’ve gone through and who I am as a result. There’s a difference between being egotistical and having the confidence to value your self-worth. It’s okay to take a step back to look after yourself. I can’t possibly be a bigger advocate for appreciating the small successes in life; maybe you were faced with a difficult decision but brave enough to make a choice. Maybe the fact you did better on a project than you originally thought you did. Maybe – in my case – the fact you ate dinner without purging.

Think about and appreciate what you’ve already overcome because it makes the future seem less challenging. Instead of thinking how far you need to go appreciate how far you’ve already come. No matter where you are in your recovery the simple fact you are making an effort to recover is an amazing success by each and every one of us.

Appreciating your self-worth also includes giving yourself some time and space to do what you want. Make every decision based on what you need or want to do and trust me, there’s a difference between needing to do something and wanting to! However, sometimes you need to do something simply because you want to! There are no rules, just breathe and relax that control I know we all so desperately crave. Be free in your decisions and happy by choice. We are all such beautiful people who could all with appreciating ourselves a little bit more.

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Day 2: A cloudy day of exploring let me explore my recovery

Definitely an aspect that was hard to accept was that I need to look after myself more. I was so incredibly exhausted and epilepsy flare-ups indicated just ho tired and stressed I’e been lately. A factor that triggers my epilepsy is fatigue – a factor that is all too self-induced following starvation or a purge.

There’s a major need to look after myself physically and mentally will flow naturally. I did purge once – I panicked at eating out due to a lack of control over calories and it shows that whilst I’ve made leaps and bounds I’ve still got work to do.

My last post spoke about switching off my brain for a little bit so my heart can breathe. Maybe I jump too much with the mental recovery without appreciating it goes hand in hand with physical recovery. It’s a two-way street and I need to look after my body so my mind can follow suit and that’s what I’m trying to do now. I’m letting my heart breathe by switching off my brain every now and then.

Day 3: Climbing a volcano revealed I really am the biggest nature nerd I know

I like rocks, I kinda like them a lot and I liked that volcano. Being in nature has always amazed me. Nature is the only thing that keeps my attention for longer than 5 minutes and I get so wonderfully lose in it. Nothing really gets you more than climbing a volcano sitting at the summit, looking at the wonderful landscape and just not thinking. Soak it up with all your senses. Breathe it in, feel it and let your brain switch off.

Conversely, it does make you think. There I am a world away from the tall glass buildings in London – the world truly is a beautiful place and I can’t wait to see more. It’s going to be tough to stay on top of all my work but for once I have the opportunity to explore the world a little bit.

Never forget to make time for yourself – appreciate your needs and value your self-worth. You shouldn’t have to move mountains for those who wouldn’t do the same for you.

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Day 4: Accidentally experiencing Carnavale revealed I truly am happy on my own

So I had no idea my 5 days coincided with Carnavale de Puerto de la Cruz and that was a wonderful realisation! Yes, I did access social media to upload photos and to contact my mum and best friend but I loved realising I wasn’t lonely at all – perhaps it was because the people I may need are always going to be there.

I was so content to wake up and do my own thing; I didn’t really have to contemplate much, I just fancied doing this or that and so I did. I’m a strong believer that when you’re happy on your own and no longer looking back you know you’re doing something right. It’s oh so important to be happy and able to do things on your own.

I really enjoyed not being glued to my phone; not seeing things on social media; not texting any boys; no mind games from anyone; I enjoyed the lack of 21st century ‘dating rules’.

I suppose what this means is that I’m perfectly happy on my own and it’s going to take someone damn special to convince me not to be flying solo one day. Being free from the reigns of the 21st Century World was the most liberating feeling whilst being a beach bum on this island on my own. Dancing in the street with thousands of strangers simply reinforced that I only need myself to fuel my own happiness.

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Day 5: Blue Sky Reflections taught me that I am enough

I have been told this before and I’m starting to think I don’t give myself enough credit for anything that I do. I don’t think I realise that I work just as hard as I do. I’m always questioning what else I can do, mistakenly chasing ‘perfection’ that can never be attained. Maybe I need to stop questioning what else I can do and learn that I am doing everything I can right now and that it is more than enough.

That I am enough.

I am not too much nor am I not good enough; it is simply a matter of coming across the wrong people. The fact I can still love my family and my friends and stay positive and full of hope about things like (dare I say it)…boys…despite how many of those three groups have hurt me. The fact that although I have walls, I could be completely stone cold and yet, I am not. The fact I am always smiling shows just what a strong and beautiful person I am.

And I could not ask to be more than a beautiful person.

None of us can and none of us should

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Posting this picture took a lot of effort and courage because I don’t feel ‘slim’ but I learnt to be so proud of myself and my happiness gave me the bravery to post it online.

 

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