Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Death of death.

I'm in mourning for being miserable. And it's making me miserable. This is what nobody tells you, because nobody wants to admit- sometimes you have to mourn your own death. Your life. I think it's a bit like anything; when you expect something and then it doesn't happen, even if you were ambivalent about it or even flat out didn't want it to happen, all the feelings and expectations don't just go away. You know how energy can't be created or destroyed? It's like that, I think. It doesn't just disappear.

A year ago as of now, for anybody who didn't know me then, I was close to death. I was a few days off having yet another NG tube fitted and I was so unbearably miserable and ill that all I can remember is how I hoped that after every blink my eyes wouldn't find the strength to open again and feeling that I didn't have a single ally, something that was so unfair to everyone walking on eggshells around me. And that's the other thing- I was horrible. I was a huge bitch who thought everyone was out to get her fat. People put up with so bloody much from me. I mean, anyone gets snippy after not eating enough or not feeling well, so with the fact that I wasn't eating anything, I was in agony physically and my mental health was not even a thing, I was just horrible. 

The thing is, I knew what to expect. I've been down that road so many times that although I never remember with much clarity, I always remember the pain. I've never given birth, but in a way it sounds like every labour story I've ever heard- you know, you remember that it hurts like hell, but you kind of block it. I know I was miserable, but part of me romanticises it. I miss it. I miss knowing what to expect and how it would feel and how consistently crap everything was. I even miss knowing that every day I'd feel worse. I miss knowing that every day I'd be a bit smaller, so there would be a little less of me to hate. 

I miss knowing I was going to die.

Don't get me wrong now, I am not suicidal. Not in the slightest. I haven't felt that way in a long time. What I mean is that I miss the knowing part. Everything was black and white, and I knew where I was going (even if where I thought I was going was going isn't all that desirous now). I wake up now and I don't know how well I'll function, whether it'll be a day where I sleep as much as I can or when I wake up and crack open a notebook and take on the world. I don't know why I miss the being ill part, really, since there were no functional days, but knowing was... reassuring. I have to keep reminding myself that things were so bad that I committed to weight gain. My personal hell. Yes, predictability was reassuring. But that was because I was ill, so being ill was keeping me so. It's a death of a death. A line drawn. Time to move on.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fragile.

I think sometimes I come across as more fragile than I probably am, both in person and on here. Some of that is down to the topics I tend to bring forward- it's messy stuff, it's personal stuff and you know what? My voice wobbles when I talk about some of it. I hate that. I hate that I can't tell you my story whilst sounding, I don't know, more detached. Sometimes I hate that I can't just be more detached, full stop. But that wouldn't be real and I'd be doing myself an injustice, because it's mine. It's my wobble. I've never actually cried whilst publicly speaking, but I cry literally every time I watch 16 and Pregnant. I've actually had to ban myself from it, because it makes me dehydrated. So maybe I am detached, maybe I'm holding back. Maybe I just really like babies.

I'm sure I seem fragile on your screen, too. You can't hear the wobble my voice sometimes takes, but you can read the things that there isn't a forum to say aloud. You can read about my weaknesses, but maybe not my strengths. Maybe you don't know the simple things about who I am, rather than my diagnoses. I hope you know that I am more than this, that I'm not fragile. That I like owls and sewing and I'm convinced I will write a book, but that I haven't got as far as even working out if I'm a fact or fiction type of a writer (given that all I've written since I was 16 is this blog and essays, I'm probably more of a factual writer, but sometimes I want to escape). I hope you know that I have horrible dress sense, that I fall over my feet constantly and that I am the worst dancer going, but I'm convinced I can do anything shown on Dance Moms... but that I gave myself a nose bleed last time I attempted to. I own too many notebooks that are empty because I don't want to ruin them. Sometimes I want to bathe in words, but that I can go a week without washing my hair (beauty of curls). I have a really common accent and sound vaguely illiterate, until I start speaking politics, and then I end up with a BBC accent. I have 2/3 of a politics degree, but on paper I just spent a few years getting hammered and racking up debt.

And I'm really, really bloody strong.

My point here is that I'm not fragile. I'm more than my medical folder. I won't try to kill myself over you. Saying no to me is no different from saying no anybody else, I promise. I mean, I'm better at sticking up for others than I am myself, and it's gotten me decked a few times, but I don't really care. I can take more than you know, because I've had to take more than you know. Discovering that I'm not made of glass was a strange experience, but a real one. Discovering that everything I had to face had not actually made me weaker was a revelation. Discovering that I don't think that stuff happens for a reason, went against what I wanted to believe and the power I thought I had. But discovering that bad experiences don't necessarily make you stronger; shit happens and how you deal with it is about the only way you can control the situation and make a future made me feel less of a victim. For a while, I maybe was made of a thin layer of glass, but now I'm reinforced. I'm bullet proof. I'm ok.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

On why therapy isn't selfish.

I never thought that this is an entry I'd have to write, or an idea that I'd have to explain. I'm not sure why, really, I thought society was more informed, because discrimination is everywhere. From the person who refers to you as a psycho, to the 'friend' who feeds on the dramatics and encourages the antics then tries to swoop in and play hero. It comes in all forms.

A form I wasn't expecting actually came from the last place I'd expect. I was presenting at a conference on Thursday, on service user and carer involvement in mental health; basically getting people moving and taking control of their care and their lives, something I'm actually even more passionate about than you'd expect (side note- I had to start travelling not much after 5am and got home at 10pm, because it was in Birmingham. Dedication, kids). I love things like this, because they involve people on all sides and there are microphones included so when I present I feel like a popstar. It's my birthday in the summer, so feel free to buy me a Madonna-esque head microphone thingy. There're usually a few ideas floating around at these things that I don't agree with, usually more politically based, for example don't EVER get me started on them cutting services but increasing bureaucracy and surveys and OH GOD, I NEED TO STOP.

As part of the carer involvement some really, really painful things were said. I can't praise the man enough who stood up and recounted how it's not just professionals that don't listen to carers and see their side, it's service users who are guilty of that, too. That must have took a hell of a lot of courage. He made me think and I'll always be grateful for that perspective. A perspective that absolutely blew my mind though, came from a woman who explained that the main problems come from the fact that therapy is so egocentric.

Think about that one.

Years of hard work. Blood, sweat and tears. Loved ones' years and blood and sweat and tears. Professionals' time and energy. All down to self indulgence. The need of the mentally ill for attention and a quest to make everything about ourselves. I'm pretty proud of my work and my battle and suddenly, in a couple of lines on a Powerpoint, it was discarded as nothing but, well, I believe the phrase was along the lines of, 'therapy makes a self-obsessed person even more focussed on themselves.' Then something about selfishness. I argued in the room as I'm going to argue here, and had to leave in tears. That's a life's work, reduced to selfishness. And that hurts.

So I'm going to tell you now, my years of therapy and my hours in offices have been the hardest hours of my life. I've been through sexual abuse and domestic abuse, but I have not been through anything as hard as trying to reconcile it all with a professional. Going over, admitting painful truths, reliving it all- it's the least self indulgent thing I can imagine. I used to leave therapy and spend the rest of the day trapped in the past, stuck in mental quicksand. And that's not just my story. That's therapy. That's why people end up ill for so long- it's harder to get better than it is to be ill. It's worth it eventually, but you'd be hard pressed to find someone, especially in the early phases of therapy, who comes out a session feeling good. But it's how I know how strong I am. We all have self-obsessed times; we're all, at a primal level, selfish and that's most definitely not exclusive to the mentally ill.

In fact, I'd argue that a lot of the time, we're less self-absorbed because often when we're suicidal, we often stay alive not for ourselves, but for other people.

Monday, 11 May 2015

10 things not to say (and how to say them better).

This goes out to, well, everyone. I was sitting and thinking (always dangerous) and feeling huge and ugly and all a bit rubbish and hell-ish, and then I was like, 'you know what's hell-ish and never really dealt with?" Being on the other side. In the last few years, I've been a sufferer and I am a loved one, and only the personal really is ever even considered, and even that isn't usually done a- wait, that's a rant I'll save. But oh, I can cope with failing myself, but I can't cope, conversely, with the idea that my best friend Alex feels that way about herself. It's hard as hell even knowing the disorder as well as I do, but how the hell do you manage if you don't? What do you say? How might it be interpreted? Why have you angered somebody when you tried to be nice? Will the anger they feel be taken out of their failing body?

It's a bit crap, to be polite, watching anybody die a slow death, and well-meaning comments can be twisted so easily by the ED. So these are my Top 10 Completely Disastrous List of Verbal Disasters, [to say to a sufferer of ny of the disastrous disasters that are eating disorders]. It's not definitive, but I'll try and explain them along the way. Any questions or anything, just hit me up, yo'.

-Every woman struggles with their body.
How it's (probably) meant- Don't worry; we all feel the same, but it's alright. Solidarity! Comrade!
How it (often) is interpreted- Oh, please. Shut up, eat a sandwich, because this is getting old. We've all been there and we don't sit whinging over it. You're not different or special or suffering more than anyone, you just complain more.
Better way of putting it- Want a cuppa? A chat? No pressure, but if you want to talk about it, I'm here. If you want/need anything, I'll be there.

-Do you think I'm fat?
How it's (probably) meant- I love you, but I'm self conscious too and I know how much you judge yourself and I don't want to lose you because you find me disgusting.
How it (often) is interpreted- Oh, please. Shut up, eat a sandwich, because you'll never be good enough. You're horrible, the way you judge yourself and must judge others. But look how fabulous I am, and how little my weight matters to how I feel and how I'm viewed. Look how much your weight does matter. Soz, mate, but that's because you're so awful..
Better way of putting it- Want a cuppa? A chat? No pressure, but if you want to talk about it, I'm here. If you want/need anything, I'll be there.

-You're so strong, I tried a starvation diet and got too hungry.
How it's (probably) meant- Your will-power is amazing. I'm a bit of an ignorant one, and am pretty sure eating disorders are just diets and dieting is hard. Well done, you!
How it (often) is interpreted- Oh, please. Shut up, eat a sandwich, because I don't get it; I know that your disorder is just a diet and it's all good to occasionally cheat on diets.
Better way of putting it- Want a cuppa? A chat? No pressure, but if you want to talk about it, I'm here. If you want/need anything, I'll be there.

-If I did all that, I'd be dead!
or
-You can't hate yourself/your body that much or you would/wouldn't wear shorts/tight clothing/anything other than black/make-up...
or
-You can't have an eating disorder- you look healthy.
How it's (probably) meant- I can't believe how much you have put your body through, and I can't imagine being so hungry or so full. Please tell me you don't hate yourself that much, or hurt yourself too much, because you're too amazing for that.
How it (often) is interpreted- Oh, please. Shut up, eat a sandwich, because I know you're exaggerating. You must be lying. Giant pants on fire. Maybe if you suddenly lost loads of weight, I'd believe you. That's probably the only way. Prove it.
Better way of putting it- Want a cuppa? A chat? No pressure, but if you want to talk about it, I'm here. If you want/need anything, I'll be there.

-Have you considered diet and exercise?
or
-I once went on this diet- it really helped...
How it's (probably) meant- I'm so scared of how unhealthy your behaviours are, so if you're going to lose weight, maybe it would be better to do it carefully?
How it (often) is interpreted- Oh, please. Shut up, eat a sandwich, because you obviously do that a lot. I've brought this up because you obviously need to lose weight, and you're obviously not doing it hardcore enough,
Better way of putting it- Want a cuppa? A chat? No pressure, but if you want to talk about it, I'm here. If you want/need anything, I'll be there.

-Are you still eating?
How it's (probably) meant- I'm just going to tidy up, would you like anything else? Is there anything I can grab you?
How it (often) is interpreted- Oh, please. Shut up, eat a sandwich. Actually, don't eat a sandwich because you've already eaten so much and I'm assessing all of the masses of calories you've just eaten. Best stitch up your mouth, fatty.
Better way of putting it- Want a cuppa? A chat? No pressure, but if you want to talk about it, I'm here. If you want/need anything, I'll be there.

-You look so much better.
How it's (probably) meant- Seeing you shrink/seeing you bloated and sore/seeing your hair and skin and nails crumble/etc was so sad and awful, but you've done so well to look so healthy.
How it (often) is interpreted- Oh, please. Shut up, eat a sandwich, fatty. Oh yes, you used to look as bad as you felt, but now I can completely see every kilo on your body and it's so obvious to everyone that you must eat like a pig.
Better way of putting it- Want a cuppa? A chat? No pressure, but if you want to talk about it, I'm here. If you want/need anything, I'll be there.

To conclude- tea. Tea and a chat, or even the offer of a chat or company, is the best you can do. There are no magic words, just copious tea and a safety net of somebody to call when it's all too much. Good luck <3 p="">

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A list of what ifs.

My anxiety is quite bad right now, so I've decided to write a list. I love lists. Any lists. One particular summer day I named my freckles and could list them all, which is quite impressive for somebody with hyperpigmentation. I list and plan anything. I even like listing French verbs, even though I can't remember what they mean, and, well, I'm getting a bit caried away listing my lists.

Here's a list of my current fears. You know you've had too much therapy when you start doing this.

-That the darkness will come back and I'll forget even more of my life. I have huge chunks of memories missing, weeks and sometimes even months, just gone. Pufff. Gone. That's pretty scary. That's mental illness. Bit extreme, even for me, but what if I wake up tomorrow and it's not tomorrow, it's 20 years from now? I mean, that's not likely to happen, but there are signs, before I start forgetting and that leads me to-

-The signs are back. Not significantly, but enough to scare me. The voices are loud and I'm exhausted and sad and anxious and terrified that I'll wake up with an even bigger appetite for suppressing my appetite than ever before. I'm huge. And for me, that's an emotion not relevant to any weight. It's dangerous as hell. I'm so scared of my vanity and my potential to gain weight... and to lose it. That's a problem because-

-My body (or my mind, for that matter) cannot take another relapse. It's just not strong enough. I won't go there again, it's not fair to go there again. It's most definitely not an option. But what if-

-Something happens that pushes me back? By that token-

-Nothing could happen. What then? What if I never get worse because I control my triggers instead of my weight? What if I get through this? Or what if I don't? What if I stay like a vegetable, stuck in this one position. What if I can never manage a career and family and all? And-

-What if 'what if' is a pointless question? What if questioning that does nothing but keep me a vegetable? What if I can't stop them? What then?