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…

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.

 

Instagram: @elenipap92
Twitter: @elenip92

 

Flying Solo

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Guess where I’m writing this post from? Guess where I am? I’m not in London, I’m not even in the UK…I don’t actually know where I am because that’s right, you guessed it, I’m on a plane baby!

Now, before some of you hypochondriacs panic, I’m just drafting with the intention of publishing when I arrive. I’m most certainly not using any wireless connectivity or whatever it is that would cause my post to unfortunately stop mid-sentence…well, strictly speaking mid-flight (too much?).

But here’s the crux of my post. Here’s the inspiration: I’m flying solo.

If you follow my posts you’ll know that around 12 days ago I had a bit of a breakdown at Law School and 4 days afterwards I booked a week away and so here I am writing to you all, soaring above the sea at however-many-thousand-feet and I have never had a bigger smile on my face than I do right now. I am positively glowing from the inside out and hopefully in one week’s time I’ll have a natural glow on my skin to match.

I feel quite proud of myself, you know. ‘Why would someone be proud of themselves for going on holiday?’ I hear you ask. Well, the fact I took a moment to consider what I needed which was my own personal space to clear my head. The fact that for once I didn’t push through the pain and the fact I was prepared to work hard to get what I needed.

I picked up far more shifts than I should have done at the restaurant and had the holiday paid off within the 12 days. I got all my work done in advance (so far in advance that I now have time to do that optional writing competition the firm suggested we do). But most importantly, I’m doing this for myself by myself.

I’m flying solo.

And I’m crazily happy to be doing my own thing. Now, of course I love my friends, I challenge you to find a post that doesn’t show you how much they mean to me but there’s something oh so very important about being on my own right now. It’s only the end of February but it struck me how far more independent I’ve been in 2017.

I’ve always been strong on my own but there’s something different and I’m struggling to word it so here goes. Admittedly the hurt from the beginning of 2016 right through to the end got me to cage my heart up once more but I found the courage to release it again. However, I’ve not unlocked the cage because I’ve met a new guy or anything like that. I’ve let it out because of my own self-love. My own self-compassion that has finally been coaxed out of me once more because of some of the amazing people around me.

My heart is wandering freely.

It’s flying solo.

And my brain is trying to let it wander for once. Just keeping a close eye on it every now and then because, I mean, come on now, we all know I’m a walking liability at the best of times. Example! I held up the plane today because my jacket got caught in my necklace and it took 3 people to work out how to unhook it!

So here I am, sat on a plane writing from the bottom of my heart but soaring however-many-thousand-feet above the sea because I needed to do this. I’m halfway through booking a trip to Thailand in less than 6-weeks-time because I want to do that. I’ve already booked my trip to Peru to climb a super massive hill with someone who has become a best friend of mine. Already planning my August trip to Greece and all with a few exams and work shifts here and there in between.

Strong enough to take a few jumps with my arms open wide, my smile even wider because I’m doing this for myself and everyone else can wait. Especially those boys – you should have seen some reactions when I said in the middle of February that I’d randomly decided to go away and probably wouldn’t be back until the end of April…that was quite funny.

Beating this illness in my own special way because it all starts with looking after myself; letting my heart take over for a short while so my brain can rest.

Someone can have my heart when its ready to be had.

Until then me and my taped-heart aren’t just flying solo – we’re soaring.

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