Avoiding Self-Sabotage

It’s a full on summer. That’s for sure.

I’m now seven months into what I feel is “recovery”. In that seven months I’ve been sick twice. Once at the start (i.e. when the seven months began) and once when I was incredibly drunk and fell into an old habit. I’ve still experienced panic attacks, I’ve still had the demon’s voice screaming in my head but I’ve managed to get through to the other end.

I’m sticking to my food plans whilst allowing flexibility and, as far as possible, I’m exercising for fun. I’ve started to accept the numbers on the clothes I wear. I’m more understanding of my large chest and the impact it might have on those clothes sizes and all in all, I’m starting to like myself a little bit more.

Although that voice to “be better” still echoes in the back of my mind, it just feels a little bit easier to ignore it.

So, so far so good, right?

This summer is supposed to be amazing. It’s my birthday, one of my best friends is getting married, I’m moving into my boyfriends’ flat…a trainee summer party and a department summer party…I’m going to qualify and as a result of qualification I not only have a qualification party but a 6-week “qualification leave” in which I refuse to spend more time in the UK than is necessary!

I’m spending three weeks in California, two weeks on my favourite Greek island with my boyfriend and my final week with my closest work friends in Italy. And I promise I am so damn excited but I’m also damn scared.

I’m nervous to not really be planning my meals. I’m nervous to be exercising less. I’m nervous to be in swimwear with my friends who I am bigger than. I’m nervous to be out of routine for 6 whole weeks.

California will probably be okay. I’m on my own for that bit and it’s going to be quite an active break. There will be plenty of hiking in the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, walking round Balboa and the Golden Gate Parks, kayaking and snorkelling on the beaches and generally just being constantly out and about. I know I can plan healthy meals and I know I need to eat to be able to take part in those activities. I also feel like I’ll have a bit more control because I’ll be on my own.

Ironically, I’m more nervous for being away with my boyfriend or friends. They are far more likely to  be beach/relaxing/celebration type holidays. That scares me. Being around skinny girls scare me. The idea of more food and alcohol scares me. The lack of exercise scares me. Ultimately, I am petrified of a potential weight gain.

I haven’t been on holiday without any ED symptoms since my ED began and this 6 weeks is looking like my biggest challenge yet.

The problem with being scared is that you run the risk of self-sabotaging. I do believe that the more I panic the more likely I am to relapse. But that’s what the Demon wants. It wants me to relapse so it can say “I told you so. I told you you weren’t strong enough to do it. I knew you were weak”. And that’s how easy it is for it to dig its claws in to my back and drag me back into that downward spiral.

So I guess I have to keep pushing on. I have to keep eating my three meals a day and exercising for fun. It is going to be so incredibly rare for me to get these 6 weeks off work ever again so I do have to keep pushing those ED boundaries and allow myself to enjoy this break.

To make happy memories rather than moping around with the dark ones. Because giggling on rooftop bars is way more fun anyway…

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Internal Criticisms

The big, dreaded, over-thought-about-before, phone call happened on Thursday. It was supposed to be Tuesday but got switched last minute. That in itself freaked me out for a good 12 hours…

But deep breaths and I got there.

I was so incredibly nervous to hear my old therapist’s voice as I sat on my bed but as I did I felt relieved and safe. I wasn’t in his big warm comfy office, but I may as well have been.

I always thought the kidney surgery was to blame for my relapse. I had this month of being unable to eat and if I did eat I would throw up involuntarily and I lost weight as a result. I remember crying to friends about how hard it was but I don’t think I quite got across  the fact I was talking about the mental pain, not the physical pain from the surgery.

He tried to get me back to basics, to talk about what happened in the months before that illness and all of a sudden, I remembered:

  • “Peru Sunday” (although all of that is more than solved right now. It was SHIT. It wasn’t fair but it is what it is)
  • My dad forced me to meet my ten year old half brother and took me round some of my most favourite places in London (some of which are now too hard for me to go to).
  • Family arguments when they asked me to give them a substantial amount of money and I ended up threatening to get lawyers involved.
  • I’ve drifted from a best friend completely. That was a painful process which I tried to repair but I genuinely think we just drifted naturally.

I cried so much. All this pain coming out. My friends and boyfriend want me to talk to them but I struggle so much due to the fact they emotionally care about me. I’m not saying my therapist doesn’t care about me but there is an element of ‘he can detach his emotions from me’. So when I tell him things, I don’t see a cringe in his face or hear pain in his voice.

It’s easier to remember everything.

We discussed how it sounds as though my ‘critical voice’ is at a whole new high and it’s suppressing any sort of ‘compassionate voice’ that would soothe my feelings. He asked me what the voice says…

No one’s ever going to love the fat girl.
You should be grateful that you have a boyfriend, that someone’s putting up with you.
No one’s ever going to understand or love the girl who makes herself sick.
No one’s ever going 
to love you.
Everyone’s going to get fed up with you if you can’t recover, they’re justified to abandon you.
You’re so fat.

….

Then he asked me, who these phrases (oh there’s more than just the above) remind me of?…

My greek family told me at 10 years old that I would never find love because I was so fat.

An ex told me that everyone else would hurt me because of the bulimia, that no one would love me, that I wouldn’t find anyone else other than him and then I’d regret leaving….that I should be grateful.

An ex told me I wasn’t trying to recover. That he knew I was restricting and purging but it was 100% up to me to recover….I remember that one the clearest. That conversation hit me so hard, it made me feel like I was alone and couldn’t ask for help. It made me feel like everything was my fault.

The reality of what me and my therapist spoke about hit me so hard. I felt this lump in my chest as though I was choking trying to get words out. I had internalised all these horrible voices and was now repeating the phrases to myself.

And as I stripped down those phrases, as I looked behind the words I repeat to myself on a daily basis, it wasn’t me saying them any more. I could visualise the situation as if I was stood in a corner watching myself.

It was my greek grandma and my dad, in her flat in Athens, at the kitchen table praising my brother for eating so much food and then criticising me for eating the same. It was them saying across the table at a 10-year-old me that they would have to find me a rich husband because no one would ever love and want to marry the Fat Roly Poly.

It was a 13-year-old-me sat in the corner of a room whilst a group of ‘friends’ played spin the bottle but I wasn’t allowed to play because I was so fat the boys might have to kiss me and that’s disgusting. 

It was a 20 year-old-me being forced to do extra cardio and when the other athletes asked the coach why that was the case he replied, because unlike you she obviously has fat to lose. 

I remember each comment clearly. I remember my age, the room we were in, the clothes I was wearing. The comments clearly hurt me so deeply but I almost forgot that it was others saying these things because I started to, and still do, say them to myself.

So that’s my new task. My homework, so to speak, to keep trundling along with this recovery but to try unpack every negative thought I have about myself. To try detach that internal voice that actually isn’t mine.

It never was.

 

 

Hello 2018

I’ve not really been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve always found the ‘New Year, New Me’ to be slightly superficial but major congrats to anyone who fully commits to their resolutions!

However, I do like to reflect and make goals.  (Same thing, I know!!)

I was at a party again for NYE, the same one as last year and it really dawned on me how quick the year has gone and how much has damn well happened. If I try to compare 2017 to the year before, I can definitely say without a doubt that it was a lot more successful.

I passed my final degree with a distinction. I travelled solo to places I’ve always wanted to see and made more travel plans for 2018. I had some amazing times with my friends. I started my new job after graduating and met someone who makes me really happy. I’ve also made some massive steps in my recovery this year.

When I try to make myself goals or rules, I always make them too strict. When I inevitably don’t stick to them, I feel guilty and it can send me down that awful ED spiral. So, I might not be making strict resolutions this year but I’m going to try make some changes to the usual goals I would make.

Instead of losing weight, I want to exercise 3-4 times a week.

Instead of questioning if our relationship is ‘okay’, I want to learn to trust that it is.

Instead of spending all my weekends in London, I want to try visit my friends more.

I want to reduce how many coffees = ‘lunch’ and slowly increase my intake.

I want to distract myself when I’m stressed with a mentally healthy hobby.

I want to feel less insecure by tackling my insecurities head on.

I want to stop feeling like my past is going to drag me down.

The insecurities one is a big one for me. I know I’m getting less and less insecure in my relationship. I do worry that he won’t want the ‘broken one’ or that I’ll ‘never be good enough.’ He’s definitely not as much of a ‘talker’ – as in, I definitely say those three little words and some cheesy stuff a lot more…but the stupid thing is, I know that he does feel the same way about me.

Because of the relatively awful past I’ve had with guys, I look for affirmation a lot. I need to know people are happy with me and that things are going well, as if to protect myself from nasty surprises or horrible situations that might occur.

So, those words and actions confirming the words mean so much to me.

I want to work on needing less of this though. To stop looking for the signs he loves me. Naturally, if they stop all together then I may need to be concerned! But I’m only going to self-sabotage if I don’t learn to just relax a bit.

When I’m with him, it’s all perfect. But when I’m apart – that’s when the fear starts and I can get triggered. I figured I’d bury myself into a new hobby so I’ve got something just for me to enjoy on my own. Hello new camera and photography courses! I’ve always loved capturing memories and nature, being the country bumpkin that I am, so here goes!

Here’s to an even better year.

Happy New Year Everyone xxx

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The Dash

Your Life Is Made of Two Dates and a Dash. Make the Most of the Dash

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I don’t want to be at the end of my stretch and look back and realise I lost some of the best years of my life to my eating disorder. I don’t want to look back and see things I missed out on because the demon stopped me from doing them.

Equally, I don’t want to look back and realise I stopped myself from being happy. Stopped myself from being me. I want someone to be proud to have me. Not because I’m pretty or skinny, as my ED tells me, but because they value me as a person. Now, I do know people I have been with and dated did like me as a person but naturally I am well aware of those who abused and took advantage of me. Whilst, its so unfortunate, that’s life.

I want to look back and be confident my decisions were right. I want to look back and see pictures like the one I’ve shared; where I look Strong not Skinny.

I want to make the most of this ‘dash’. I want to keep progressing the way that I am and not keep falling back. Those people who took advantage or did not appreciate me will eventually realise what they’ve missed out on. I don’t think I’ve felt this happy or confident and it truly is a lovely place to be. I’m not skinny. I’m strong.

Isn’t it crazy how we can look back a year ago and realise how much everything has changed? The amount of people that have left your life, entered, and those that have stayed. The memories you won’t forget and the moments you wish you could. Everything. It is crazy how all that happened in one year. It’s made me realise too, you know you really love someone when you can’t hate them no matter how much they broke your heart.

I just want to make the most of these amazing opportunities I have right now and starving and purging isn’t going to allow that. Keep eating moderately and exercising well. I’ve never felt happier or prouder of my progress than I do right now.

 

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