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

Instagram: @elenipapa92

 

‘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…

Concrete Walls 

It’s been eleven days since you broke up with me for approximately 30 minutes. Eleven days since you spent an entire day changing your mind and messing with mine in the process. Eleven days since you planted the worlds biggest mind fuck into my head and not a single day out of those eleven has passed where I haven’t thought of what you did to me.

I’ve had a great eleven days here in Peru but they’ve been riddled with doubts and fears and tears.

My mind tells me it’s because I’m ‘too much’. With all my different illnesses, and one illness in particular, of course I would be a burden to anyone. I know it’s lying to me but my heart believes it right now. My heart believes my mind when it’s telling me that I am damaged goods once more.

Nobody wants what is broken.

I’m already second guessing your words and actions since I’ve been away. Something I never had to do because you never played games. You never messed me around or mind fucked me…not until now, anyway.

I put all my savings into this trip and my one at the end of summer because you insisted I stay with you. I can’t even afford a hostel when I come back to London because you said you wouldn’t accept rent money off me. You want me to stay but I don’t know if I’m strong enough to be there whilst my mind is already playing cruel tricks on me.

Tricks and lies that you have helped create.

I had to get weighed today because I was flying over the Nazca Lines in these tiny rickety planes and I felt unbelievably scared. I knew that knowing the number wouldn’t benefit me and so I didn’t look. You could say that’s a massive step forward for me and I wanted to talk to you about it but I can’t. 

The trust has gone.

The damage you have caused isn’t irreparable but it’s there for now.

I want to trust you but you’ve really left me a mess.

My brain and my friends think I shouldn’t go back but my heart wants to trust you. It wants to trust your words and actions these past eleven days but my brain and friends are trying to protect my heart from what happened to it 5 years, 1 year and even 9 months ago. 

I am so tired of crying.

The walls are up but that doesn’t mean they won’t be brought down once more. 

Right now, I don’t know if they should come down.

Seven Years


A room so hot with heat and stress. Clock ticking down, minutes if not seconds left and then it’s done. Four hours of time that passes so quick and it’s over. Paper handed in, step outside and breathe. Done. Over. Seven years of law school. Finished.

Drinks, food and laughter galore. The bank account winces with every swipe of the card but there’s no cares cos it’s done. It’s over. Seven years of law school. But it’s more than that. It’s seven years of hard work and grind. Seven years of sweat and tears. Seven years of hurt and abuse. Seven years of betrayals and let downs. Seven years…

Seven years is a long time.

It’s 3,679,200 minutes to be exact.

Seven years of pain I never saw coming.

Seven years of an illness I never thought I’d suffer from.

Seven years.

61,320 hours.

I’m basically on my own this weekend packing up my bedroom to move out and I sit on my bed in my empty room and all I can do is think. It’s hard to keep the voices quiet when you’re on your own after one of the most stressful periods of your life.

And whilst there’s pain there’s always so much happiness it’s almost unbelievable. Moving here was scary and I’m scared of more betrayal, more let downs. I don’t even know if I’m convincing myself that more is to come. It would hardly surprise me if it did. But seven years is a long time.

A lot has happened and a lot has changed.

And I am most certainly stronger for it.

Still scared that more hurt is lurking round the corner. More let downs waiting to trip me up.

But forever optimistic. Forever smiling.

And I’m one of the lucky ones with a job that waits. Ready for me after a few travels here and there, Peru, Greece, Italy with the odd week in London. Mountains, forests, beaches and architecture. Full of excitement for the fact I’m about to experience all the things I love. Even more excited for the two weeks I’ll be spending with a friend that I love. One of the two who has held my hand through the darkest of days.

Seven years.

And I’m happy.

I’ve not been this happy for as long as I can remember.

Maybe I’ve never been this happy….

Seven years.

And if that’s what had to happen to get me to today….then fuck it, every single year, month, day, hour and minute of those seven years were worth it.

But for now, less contemplating and more simply living with those upcoming summer vibes.

Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

Water Baby



24 years ago my mum took me swimming and 22 years later I surprisingly left the pool. Two years following that I found the courage to take the plunge but my strength didn’t last long at all. 6 months after I last donned my hat and goggles I was asked to be someone’s girlfriend, and although it took me 24 hours I was never happier to put aside my fears and take the plunge in a different way.

However, one month ago I was triggered and 3 weeks ago I relapsed. 1 week ago I went for help and we all know that because that’s what my last post spoke about. So what’s happened since? I came to Thailand to fully live up to the whole cliched expression of finding myself and majorly because I need time away from a lot of the shit I have to deal with. I was with a group at one part of my journey because I had so spontaneously planned this trip during exams that I was more disorganised-ly organised than usual.

Problem was, I met girls who came to Thailand to get wasted, laid and sunbathe. I didn’t come here for that, I wanted to experience the culture, which I did, I wanted to experience the lifestyle, which I did and I wanted to chill on my own at times,which I did. But I was given glances and thoughts said out loud that should never have been spoken. I don’t want details but I felt judged.


I was in this beautiful national park, Koh Sok, and I promise you the pictures don’t do it justice and I just wanted to cry. They made me feel that the fat girl once more and the emotions were building and the pain just burst through my heart as I couldn’t suppress it anymore. I couldn’t stop the tears but there was one girl I knew was kind, I knew was genuine, the one who I knew didn’t judge me. There was no network or wifi, I had no one to talk to but regardless of that I’m so glad I went to her.
We sat at the back of a floating bungalow with the back door open onto this beautiful lake, our feet in the water and the mountains as our back drop and I cried and opened up my heart to her. I basically told her everything and she simply listened and helped me work through some things. I was scared to stand around in my bikini, water calling out to me, calling me back to it like a long lost love but I was so scared. In love with something that once hurt me so bad.

But it was never the water that hurt me was it?

I have fear associated with the water but that was never what really hurt me. It was simply used to hurt me.


Emotions spilled out into the bungalow, into those mountains, into that lake and just like that I jumped…it only took five minutes for the smile to arrive and two days later it’s still not left. It’s something so small but took so much courage and I’m so happy I had the strength to do it.

Reunited with a long lost love.

I don’t quite know why I came to Thailand, but if it’s to ‘find myself’ then I did. Because I’ve been a water baby since the day I was born. The water truly made me happy and yes some people took that away from me but two days ago, I took it back.

Falling in love over and over again as I jumped from the boat, from the rocks, from anything, into that water. And the love is still there. Today I went island hopping and took full advantage of any opportunity to jump in and swim…I also did something I did every single summer as a child, I went searching for shells and admittedly I only found two but this is one of them…

Finding that shell made me stupidly happy just like shell searching did all those years ago. Swimming and searching for shells in the water that I could genuinely call my home.

Shell searching in Thailand…shell searching….soul searching…

Soul searching in Thailand.

Forever soul searching. Forever unpicking parts of myself. Forever working myself out.
Forever falling in love with myself slowly but surely, day after day.

 


I got so emotional because I was incredibly proud of myself for quite a few steps I’ve made and my heart genuinely beat so fast for the water I fell in love with…I never stopped being in love if I’m honest. I just needed strength to jump.

I needed strength to jump in a whole different sense two weeks ago.
I’ve never been happier that I did jump in both situations…

I once wrote something along the lines of I hope my future daughter never lies alone in bed at night crying her heart out…I can’t ask for more than for her to have friends like I have. The ones who help me eat when I can’t, the ones who give me beds for the night when I need them, the ones like I’ve met in Thailand. I had one of my nightmares last night. I woke up screaming, convinced I was getting…being…still can’t say that R word, again. Shaking and sweating but K (the girl I opened up to) came straight over to calm me down, tell me it was a dream and suddenly the world stopped spinning, my tears stopped running, and my heart wasn’t choking any more.

Baby steps…but then again, it’s hard to take steps on land when you’re a water baby at heart…


Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

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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Twitter: @elenip92