Tuesday, 28 April 2015

PMS.

Periods are great. No, seriously, they are. I am probably the broodiest person who has ever lived. If I was straight, chances are I'd be pregnant by now. I know it would be a terrible idea- I'm on some pretty strong meds that would have to be changed, and chances are I'd have to go onto some kind of  mother and child mental health unit because psycho-tropic med changes tend to make me really poorly. Like, not sleeping for days, and getting delusional and manic until I'm injected with a sedative like a bloody elephant at the vet. Do elephants go to the vets? I digress.

Periods mean that I'm a woman. They also indicate- loosely, but still- that I might still stand a chance of getting pregnant at some point. It'd be a bit more complicated too, given that I'm gay, but there are ways, mate, there are ways. I need to get my head in order, have a stable job and everything, but I want children so damn much. I know it's not sunshine and rainbows and days out and selfies, but I want to give a child a better start than I had. I don't mean that as a slight on my mum, 'cause she did well. I'm fabulous and my brother is, yanno, alright. But I learnt from her, I learnt from the situations I was forced into and I learnt from the ways I reacted to survive. And I know I can do it.

As most women know, periods are also terrible. I have pretty bad PMS and obviously it makes a bit difference to my mental health. I don't know how much has been done research-wise on MH+PMS but I can tell you now- it's bloody messy (pun not intended, but nonetheless, hilar). And, hey, maybe when I'm cured for the month, I'll do my own research. Anyway. Periods. They're expensive in terms of chocolate and tampons and wine and that, but they're also a sign that my body is finally entering the recovery that my head has started. I'm well and I'm a woman again. I'm bloated as hell and highly emotional and it's making me feel fat as owt, but I'm a woman. And, despite everything, that's not a bad thing to be.

(Going to finish now, before I cry on my laptop and get electrocuted. I really am PMS-ing).

Friday, 24 April 2015

Skin.

I have what I always used to consider to be awful skin. I had bad acne as a kid but it was pretty much medicated out of me at about 14. I don't have any craters or scars from the years, but I do have a skin thing called 'hyperpigmentation' (just too much colour saturation, really) most likely caused by hormonal shifts. Which you'd kind of expect, because after every relapse I have to basically go through puberty all over again. Those golden years, eh? The years of acne prepared me, unconsciously, to the fact that covering myself in foundation isn't going to solve the problem. It always gave me the attitude there, though, that there IS a problem that can be solved somehow, just without make-up. And that's so wrong.

I was a child and I hated my skin almost as much as I hated my thighs. I tried all kinds of remedies to my acne, including a kind of acid peal that got rid of the spots, but also most of my facial skin. I was desperate enough to essentially burn my skin off, to look how I thought I should. I reiterate- I was a child. I spent all my pocket money on all kinds of remedies; herbal pills, vitamins to the point of OD (you just get the runs. Which led to dehydration and worse skin. It wasn't fabulous), all manner of facial potions, hairspraying my face, drinking 3l of water a day... any product that told me I'd have decent skin, basically.

I'm 24 now and I've made my peace with my skin and 'blemishes' and 'imperfections' so I'd like to share it with you. That brown area, the freckles, the lumps and bumps are pretty much only on the left side of my face. That's fine. If it spread over my whole face, you know what? That would be cool, too. It doesn't need explanation, diagnosis, apologies. That is my face and it's a face I'm proud of. That pigmentation is due not to my anorexia, but to my recovery. Those marks show that I won, I physically went back through puberty, essentially, because I'm in recovery. Those are the marks of the survivor, not the victim.



It's not always (or usually, for that matter) obvious in photos. I took the above picture today and the below at the weekend, so nothing has changed with my skin in that time, I just wanted to demonstrate the difference. It's not a particular victory when my marks aren't obvious, but it's not a disappointment, either. They are a part of me and thinking of them as a badge of honour for my battle makes looking in the mirror as damn sight easier. My marks are not flaws. THEY ARE NOT FLAWS. And how ever your face evolved, your face is not in the slightest bit flawed or imperfect or in need of ridiculous remedies.

Monday, 20 April 2015

On why self harm is irrelevant.

I'm going to preface this by saying, this is going to be an extremely hard post for me, with some uncomfortable thoughts. I was a prolific self harmer, from my teens until almost exactly 26 months ago. I relapsed with it at the beginning of last year, so it's been about 14 months that I've been totally free from it. I'm saying this, telling you now, for a few reasons. The first, is that I'm basically a rock star. The second is that I understand self harm. From being in hospital for so long, most of my friends now either are in grips of it, or are in recovery too, so this is part from experience of my battle and part from being a loved one of a sufferer. The third, is that I'm not basically a rockstar; I AM a rock star.

Elitism is more rife than you'd think in mental health. I don't think people always understand it or recognise it, but it's true. You can't be a sufferer until you're diagnosed. You're not that ill if you've not been hospitalised. Your self harm is superficial (somehow that kind of implies the person it too, I reckon). No NG tube history? No Anorexic history. I've thought along those lines, and I've learnt to recognise that I'm a bit of a monster when I'm ill- it's not who I am, it's the disorders running rampant. I'm constantly being demanded by my voices at the minute to prove my suffering, and I'm weirdly competitive with myself because of it.

Which brings me to why self harm is irrelevant.

Self harm is a symptom, not a diagnosis. The act itself often takes all the attention, looking for ways to prevent a person hurting themselves and that needs to be done. It might require medical intervention and it might require psychiatric admissions, but the act itself is just the beginning. Stopping self harm doesn't stop the reasons why one self harms and that's so often missed. Being in an environment where self harm is impossible can make it look that somebody has deteriorated mentally, because, well, it does tend to make a person's mental health decline. It takes out the behaviours that have come about for a reason. There is always a reason.

The other irrelevant is the degree in which people hurt themselves. It might be the deepest cut you have ever seen, it might be scratches, but either way- somebody felt like doing that was the only relief. Deliberately causing yourself pain is screwed up. It's unnatural.  People, as you'd expect, self harm for different reasons. One of the biggest slurs that go out to self harmers is that it's an attention thing. Saying that is an elitist thing. You know what? There were times when I did self harm for attention, and I'm not as ashamed of this as I apparently should be. I needed attention. I needed help. It didn't make my internal pain any better or worse than people who did it for different reasons. If a person feels like the only way to get help or attention or anything is to hurt themselves, they NEED attention. It's obviously not the only reason and all are complex. Compulsion, addiction, feeling numb, needing control, commands by voices, intrusive thoughts, low self esteem, self punishment- the reasons are as varied as the people who harm themselves.

Helping and supporting a sufferer is unbearably hard and frustrating at times, because it can seem never-ending. It's not, though. Dealing with the self harming behaviours physically is only dealing with a symptom. A part of the problem. In fact, the red herring to the real issues. The issues are the relevance, not the symptom. Psychologically, it's a much longer, harder battle. It takes time, but recovery is real and possible and totally worth it. But it'll only come when the reason behind the symptom, like with any illness, is explored.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Back in treatment.

Well, as of this Friday, I'm back in eating disorder treatment. Out-patient but still, I'm dreading it to be honest. And that's making me feel like a terrible person. So few people who need services have access to them and I know that I'm so lucky to live in a place where it's free and available and that it's only been a few weeks (I think they might have hurried it along. I'm pretty sure they hurried it along, in fact, because I thought I'd have a lot longer of a weight- typo, but Freudian- give that it's the NHS) and everything. And that it's not like when I was in ED therapy in my teens and had to wait for months and then get myself to Leeds, which isn't even that far by car (hour, hour and a half) but took 3 hours by a bus, three trains and a taxi. Lucky, lucky, lucky (said only slightly sarcastically). It's a lot of pressure though, both because I feel like first of all I need to prove or live up or down or whatever to the diagnosis I have by rapidly losing weight, and then second of all I have to be absolutely perfect at recovery. My head's mashed.

I've also got to start getting weighed again. I don't know my weight right now, I don't want to know my weight right now and more than all of that, I don't want anybody else to know it either. It's so personal and at the same time so irrelevant to everything. It's something I know that needs to be monitored, given my history, but I'd so rather people just took their cues from my words, because I'm not treatment resistant in the slightest and I'm always honest about struggling, much as I might deflect and dodge at times. It's hard to convince yourself that weight doesn't matter when other people have to put so much on it.

I'm so bloody tired of all this crap. I know how whingey this post is and I'm sorry, but this is how it is right now. I'm impatient for change and development but I'm run-down and taking things out on my body. I think the dread I feel is more linked to the pressure I'm putting myself through, rather than dread at change, because Chriiiiist, am I ready for that.

Friday, 10 April 2015

The list that wasn't.

There are two things that people always try to drill in to me, with the best of intentions. Actually, there are a lot more than two things, to be fair, so SCRATCH WHAT I SAID AT THE BEGINNING (I know I could just delete my original claim, but this way is much more dramatic). I think I'll do a list and explain the problems I'm kid of having with them. Warning: I over-think. No shit, eh?

-Perfection is not posssible.
I know this is somewhat obvious and a bit eye-rolling-y when people say it, because it's too general. Can I be the perfect version of who I am? Is that possible? Also, why isn't perfection full stop possible? It's a commonplace word so it has to mean something. I want always to climb higher, push further and- screw baby steps- run like a beast. It's not always, yanno, practical, but I think as long as you're happy and not hurting anybody, why can't that be perfect? Sounds good to me.

-You're doing really well!
I need to go a bit easy on this one, because when I'm feeling ok, like now, I'm pretty sure I'm kicking arse. Don't get me wrong, I'm sitting, in my pyjamas, writing this and watching daytime tele. I'm still unable to go outside alone and I'm not- Wait. No. I could over-think this one, like the previous one, or I could just leave it at the fact I'm kicking arse.

Roarrrrrrrr.

Ok, scratch my list because picking on yourself is not ok, ok? Kidding, do whatever you need to. And right now, I need to sit in the sunshine with some Pepsi Max and cigs. Maybe, sometimes, other people might just be right (please don't tell anyone I said that).