to whom it may concern

To whom it may concern, (ie. YOU)

 

There is no doubt we live in a highly pressurized society. Particularity when it comes to appearance, weight and diet. We learn from a young age the way we are ‘supposed to’ live. What we are ‘meant’ to eat. And how much exercise we ‘should’ do. We live in a world consumed by these pressures. We experience, sometimes painful, emotions, this is what makes us human. Life can be crazy. It can be unpredictable and we can have little control over what happens to us. But how can all of this effect a young vulnerable child. A child who experiences anxiety and learns to fear the world we live in, fear their own bodies and themselves. And what happens when life feels too overwhelming for them to handle and they turn to the one thing they feel they can control…. That being, their weight. Eating disorders are psychiatric illnesses. They are not a lifestyle choice, or a phase which will pass. They cannot be cured by eating a hamburger or fries. They are not about our appearance or weight; this is solely a side-effect of the torment we experience in our heads. It is that voice inside our heads, which have been constructed to tell us and make us believe we have no worth. They are an addiction. Like drugs, alcohol and gambling. We are addicted to control. Controlling the emotions, we are feeling. Controlling the outcomes within our lives. Controlling what we eat and how much room we take up in this world. We as humans, are all quite simply, our minds. And our minds are constructed by our environment. When recovering from any other addiction, we detox. We remove ourselves from these substances and behaviours. But with an eating disorder, this is impossible. We must face our addiction every day. Every day, being exposed to the ideas which we have become to believe, and intensely fear. Our brain response, is much like an animal in the wild being faced with a predator. The chemicals released are that of a ‘fight or flight’ response. Something that is not controlled, yet constructed by our automatic response system. The overwhelming fears lead us to stay in the destructive mindset of our illness. Leading to behaviours we may not want to be engaging in. Secrecy, deceptions and lies. Being completely debilitated by the fear of feeding our starving bodies and brains. Isolating ourselves out of fear of judgement. And feeling the whole world views us in the distorted ways we view ourselves. Human beings fear anxiety more so then they fear physical pain. This is why people will stay in violence fuelled relationships. The anxiety experienced by confronting the real problem, is more intense then the pain in itself, to stay. And when it comes to restrictive eating disorders, the pain does not stop once we restore the weight lost, back. All the fears and underlying issues still remain. It takes a great deal of hard work, working on getting in touch with our minds and bodies to truly recover from this horrible illness. To truly reconnect and learn how to eat again and not be riddled with anxiety and fear.

 

So next time you see someone, underweight, overweight, exercising, ordering a salad, eating fries…. Don’t be so quick to judge. You can never have any idea what demons this individual is fighting behind that masked smile. An eating disorder is far too complex. Even for the sufferers to truly understand.

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‘Perfection…?’

This is a concept I have come to realise hugely impacts me subconsciously on a daily basis. It is a concept my brain somehow developed when I was younger and which was ‘consolidated’ during my eating disorder years. My subconcious ideal of perfection is…

  • eating a healthy well balanced diet

  • hitting 10,000 steps daily

  • stretching and performing yoga daily

  • doing toning exercises on my whole body… daily

  • keeping a clean and neat house, including drawers and clothes nicely put away in little compartments

  • keeping a clean, well maintained car

  • being a good, supportive, fun, positive friend

  • being a good, supportive, responsive daughter and sister

  • completing all uni assignments, readings and attending classes

  • being a confident, efficient, successful worker

  • being tanned, waxed, toned and good looking

  • brushing and flossing my teeth twice daily

  • I must be the perfect partner to my amazing boyfriend, not boring and incapable

Just having my life together and being a perfect human being. ALL of these points, and I mean ALL… I do not achieve…. EVER. And I have realised it affects my self-esteem and majorly impacts my body image and how I perceive myself. Which is crazy right? How is ANY of this reflective of who I am as a person. Not one of those points make me a better person. And in order to act in the way that I REALLY want to live, I have realised I need to ACTIVELY work on this and change my internal perception of myself. By breaking down this perfection ideal.

All of the exercise/movement and eating behaviours listed are huge fears for me. I am terrified I will become ‘that girl’ again, who obsesses over my body, weight, food and physical appearance. I was so sick when I gave into these pressures daily. And it DID NOT bring me happiness. Therefore I am even worried to attempt to bring these things into my daily life. I don’t want it to become a chore again. To experience the guilt if I don’t do toning exercises or eat well one day. This is NOT the way I want to live. And I have realised it is my low confidence and negative body image subconsciously brought on by not doing these things which then drains my energy to even try and do these things.

I have realised I am not PRESENT and in the moment these days due to these subconscious pressures. I go for walks with mum or friends and I feel I need to take my phone to count my steps. I find the energy taken up from feeling bad about not doing these things actually makes me exhausted and therefore unable to do little at all.

Once I actively work on these underlying issues of having a negative body image and low self confidence I know I will have energy and brain capacity to actually BE that better friend, sister and daughter. I will BE that better partner. Because none of these activities truly make me happy. When they come from a place of ‘I must do this’, I instantly feel fear.

What makes me happy these days, is spending quality time with my partner. Being idiots, saying and doing stupid little things. Going for bike rides and exploring what this incredible world has to offer us. Watching My Kitchen Rules and just chilling on the couch with him. Going for walks, where I am not worried about how much I am exercising or burning calories, but just enjoying the scenery. Spending quality time with friends. Chatting, having a drink and just mucking around. Going out for good quality food. Going to yoga classes and enjoying getting in touch with my body and feeling physically content. Yeah keeping my house and car clean and tidy is nice. But it is not a necessity. And it should NOT impact on the way I feel about myself the way it does. I don’t need to constantly be productive. I need to trust in myself to finish uni and pass, at the best of my abilities, without putting this high of pressure on myself.

I believe if I can work at changing these feelings towards myself and shift this subconcious need to be ‘perfect’ it will greatly improve myself and my daily productivity anyway 🙂 This is something that comes from within. It is my own insecurities. And I have come to realise that despite how supportive, encouraging and compliment giving my partner or friends are, this is not going to change until I actively work on myself and my own beliefs.

I am looking forward to embracing self love. Self acceptance and being content in my body ❤

When your mind is against you… My battle with mental health issues

My fight against myself started at a very young age. I was always a very anxious kid, hated leaving mums side and was scared of the world around me. When I was coming on 4 I started to turn on myself. People who I trusted and who loved me began to mention my weight and food. I felt guilty and anxious eating around these people but was too young to see myself as ‘fat’… I was young and had little kid chub, but it was reinforced to me that this was not ok. I didnt understand appearance… but I knew that food made that anxious and guilty feeling in my stomach go away so I would eat to feel better. I would eat in secret out of shame and guilt. School was hard for me. I got treated different and bullied because of my weight. I would never talk about it tho, because I believed what I was being told, I felt like it was me who had the problem. I didnt know how to change things so again I would just eat. Family and friends just thought I was shy, but in reality I was trapped in a world of self hate and guilt. When I was 13 the self harm began. It realesed all of the negativity I felt towards myself. This was noticed and brought up to the school councillor. I saw a psychologist where I was diagnosed with body dysmorphia but never really treated as I was young and unaware of how to talk and be honest about my feelings. I felt ashamed because I really just believe that there was something massively wrong with me because of my appearance and what had been reinforced most of my life. When I was in my mid teens I began to realise I could change how I looked. Although I loved food, at the same time I loathed it because I felt I had no control over it and it was causing me the difficulties I was experiencing. I went on a diet and started to restrict my food intake and exercise. I lost weight and this had huge implications in the way people acted towards me. My peers were nice, I was no longer bullied, and I started to become more confident. It was such an empowering feeling to finally feel accepted. The anorexic thoughts were always full blown but my disordered behaviours came on at a slower rate. It was my little secrret and I did not want people to know what I was doing. I was finally feeling good in myself. I did not realise how dangerous this really was tho. Soon enough I was in a very tight partnership with my Anorexia. It was now helping me avoid anxiety, gain acceptance and making me feel good in myself so ofcourse I did everything it told me to. It became an obsession. I moved away from home for my first yr of uni so I could be on my own with my Eating Disorder. Without my parents watching over me I could do what I wanted and needed without question. The weight continued to drop and my self esteem and euphoric feelings skyrocketed. My ED became my drug. I was exhausted, over exercised and malnourished, but that feeling I got when I saw the number go down made me lose sense of Of reality to every other aspect of my life. I stopped horse riding and doing things I loved because of the time and control my ED needed in my life to sustain our relationship. After the yr away from home I lived with my parents again. They were worried but I was trapped. It was me and my ED against everyone around me. I needed my ED because without it my life would return to how it was when I was younger. My fears became so extreme. I beleived that if i drank water from the same straw my brother had drank from after he ate fries, that i would ingest the calories and become fat again. I developed a mask. A happy, confident mask I would wear around people, but when I was alone I was so so depressed. The life I was living was exhausting but I was so scared to go back to how I was. My distortions were extreme. If I ate my steamed veggies that were served with the spoon mum had used for their roasted veggies, I could feel my body expand. I would feel fat and the image I would see in the mirror was the same as that young vulnerable overweight girl I once was. My anorexic mindset did not like it when I went against it. I would feel so worthless and guilty that I would turn to self harm to release the emotions I felt towards myself. A year after being at home I went on uni exchange to canada with some friends. Again in the back of my mind this was just a way for me to get away from my parents again and gain back all of that ED control which had slipped abit while being at home. It It worked. My weight plummeted. My masked self intensified. Every photo I look back on I have a huge, fake smile. Half of me was happy because I was avoiding ever going back to being overweight, bullied and feeling all of that shame, but the other half was so depressed and anxious. Constantly freezing cold, exhausted, thoughts around when and what I can and can’t consume preoccupied my days. I did not experience Canada or my travels around America. I was too consumed by my illness. When I returned home I remember feeling exhausted. I was in such a hostile mood towards my family. My physical body was screaming at me to eat, but my ED mindset was screaming at me not too. I just wanted to be alone. Although I had not slept because of flights for the past couple of nights I became really OCD and had to Un pack my suitcase and make sure I had control over every aspect of my bedroom. My family were at such a loss. They were so worried about me and supported me into getting treatment. This is when my intense treatment began. The next few yrs were up and down through relapses and recovery. The fight for my life was real, but still I had my ED thoughts which were so intense. But finally after yrs of full time therapy, experiencing and sitting with traumatic thoughts and feelings as I went against my ED, learning to analyze and be aware of my every thought and behaviour I have come out the other side. I am now weight restored and confident. No longer do I Wear a mask. Im aware of my anxiety and Have now developed healthy ways to deal with the anxiety. I have fostered a healthy relationshop with myself where I now work with my body and listen to it. My whole life has been turned around. I have experienced the rebirth I never thought would be possible and through this rebirth have experienced so much appreciation for life amd everything around me. I would not take back anything I went through or have experienced because each amd every moment helped me become who I am today and I could not be more happier with that. Everything happens for a reason

crossing over

Control, control, control, that’s all I need. Then everything will be ok. I will be okay. New day. Clean slate. Fresh start. No stuffing up. Not today. Today I will take back the control I lost. Today things will be different. Yesterday is history. I can control today though. Must resist urges. I don’t need breakfast. Must exercise. If I do then I can have my morning coffee. xx calories. Head hurts. Stomach hurts. Body aches. Need energy. Must resist food though. One bite wont hurt. Yes, just one bite. Just enough to get rid of the urges and give me some energy to get up.vThat will be xx calories. I can burn that at the gym. No, wait. Then I cant eat later. But I need it now. I need energy to exercise. Just want bed. So lazy. So unproductive. Ok, one bite, then straight to the gym. Once I’m there I will have no food triggers. I will burn the calories. One bite, down. I can feel it. I feel that loss of control. All over my body. My stomach. I feel the fat. Suck it in you disgusting fay pig. My thighs. I feel that one bite. Absorbing into my fat. My arms. They jiggle. My lack of self control is shown on my face. My chubby cheeks. My deep sad eyes. They cannot hide the lack of control I have witnessed. Why did I eat. Why did I give in. still the energy is not there. Still I feel just as lethargic as before. All that has intensified is the guilt. The anxiety. The hypersensitivity to my whole body. Iam a failure. An utter failure. I must get to the gym now. Right now. I need that clean slate feeling back. I need that control. I don’t care about my seat belt. I don’t care about other cars on the road. I just need to get rid of those calories I consumed. I think about the coffee Im allowing for after my gym workout. Only if I burn xx amount of calories tho. Only then am I allowed a coffee.
Im now on the treadmill. I cannot recall the car ride here. Had too many thoughts. Too many urges. Too much guilt. Physical guilt, felt all over my body. Now all I care about are those numbers on the treadmill. They will give me back that sense of control. They will give me back that feeling of invincibility. Once I hit that number. Im one step closer to my goal weight. The goal weight which possesses all of my achievements. All of my success. That weight that will make me a valuable person again. That weight that will make my life worthwhile. The weight that will signify that then and only then can I start living again. Start going out with friends. As then, and only then will I be worthy. Worthy of friendships. Worthy of food. Worthy of happiness. Worthy of confidence. Worthy of life.
My body aches as a walk. As the treadmill moves under my feet. All I can think about is the coffee I will reward myself afterwards. Mmmm. Extra hot. Skinny milk. It will be perfect. It must be perfect. The time on the treadmill and my calorie goal finally add up. I have been watching these numbers obsessively. They are the indicator I can stop. Stop torturing my body. Once they hit the lucky number of the day I feel invincible again. That clean slate feeling. My body is no longer hypersensitive to the fat surrounding it. Im no longer focused on the jiggle of my stomach or thighs. I feel I can be seen by people. I rush out of the gym, and now my focus is on this coffee. The perfect coffee. Must be extra hot. Must be skinny milk. I must contain this control I now have. I watch the barista. Making sure they use skinny milk. Making sure they know to make it really really hot. If it s not perfect, then the anxiety and guilt will rush over me again. But I don’t have the energy this time. I don’t have the energy to exercise again. I don’t have the energy to fight those voices in my head any longer. I just want to have my coffee and go back to bed. Go back to bed knowing I am in complete and utter control of my body. Knowing I have burnt more calories then I have consumed. I have achieved all I need to achieve for the day. As long as I do not consume anymore calories, I am a success. I am more then a success. I am more invincible then any other human being. I am better then them. Because I am losing weight. I am upholding complete control over myself and my body.

Although deep down rationally I am sad. I am depressed. The old me has been brainwashed. I am no longer the person I once was. The person people enjoyed to be around. She is no longer there. She has been consumed by an evil evil being. A being that is torturing her each and every day. Pulling her further and further into the darkness. I know this all. I know that this life I’m living is not a life at all. I know that I need saving but I don’t have the strength to reach out.

Mental illness, as an illness

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It’s funny how in society illness’s such as diabetes, asthma, cancer and other physical ailments are so easily accepted. When in comparison depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental illnesses are veered away from and stigmatized in a way that it feels like society as a whole believe that the sufferer has much to blame. I have lost count of the number of times I have had someone say to me “why don’t you just eat?” or “you shouldn’t feel guilty” or “just be happy”. But not even just the blunt comments, but the looks you receive or the way friends will avoid the topic all together. These beliefs and behaviours just leave the sufferers feeling ashamed and only enhances the symptoms experienced. I know I felt extremely ashamed of my illness. I would act as though everything was okay, in order to reduce the embarrassment I felt. When really, I needed help and support, instead I suffered in silence, and got very good at acting like there was nothing wrong. 

I was talking to my psych about this the other day, when something struck that made so much sense… I was thinking about the cause of my eating disorder (with underlying anxiety, depression and other mental health issues) and I realised that these causes were very similar to those of any other more acceptable physical illness. Other illnesses are malfunctions of the human body. Let’s take diabetes for example, my understanding is diabetes (obviously depending on what type) is due to either genetic or dietary factors and is when the body is unable to produce insulin the way it is supposed to. And cancer, I know it’s a very touchy subject and people may be offended by this, so I apologize in advance, but cancer develops again, due to genetic and environmental factors. Yet when it comes to mental illness, it is the sufferers fault… They should not be the way they are… when really mental illnesses are just a malfunction of the human brain. This malfunction has occurred due to both genetic and environmental factors. And over time the brain connections and wires become so strong that the victim cannot control their thoughts. They have automatic ways of thinking which may be quite detrimental to their health and wellbeing. And although rationally they can understand that this way of thinking is unhelpful it takes A LOT of hard work and sometimes medication to control or change this.

 

But then thinking some more, maybe it is more just the ignorance of society, as with not having lived with a mental illness, they are very difficult to understand or get your head around. This makes me determined to be part of a movement to inform society. To give them the knowledge that I know of Mental Illness’s and hopefully shift the current stigma.

 

Anyway lots of rambling and not making too much sense so I will leave this here. 

Just something to think about. 

 

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FEBURARY ED AWARENESS MONTH

For a long time now, I have wanted to use my journey with a number of mental illnesses including clinical depression, anxiety, anorexia, body dysmorphia disorder and a number of other diagnosis, in a positive way to raise awareness. Raise awareness and educate in a society where these are so extremely common yet swept under the carpet and not spoken about. I have previously fallen for the current stigma which places a negative view on such serious issues and due to this shame, kept my battle a secret, fueling the disease even more and supporting the current stigma. But how can this be changed if those who have experienced these first hand are not willing to talk? Thats why im now pushing my negative mindset aside, embracing this journey of mine and using my knowledge and understanding to educate and help other who are suffering recieve the support they need.

I dont blame the general public for being naive about Eating Disorders. It seems like such a totally screwed up concept really. Seeing someone fear and deprive themselves of food the way an anorexic does. Eating is a basic human requirement. Its not even something an infant is taught, its instinctual. Eat what you want, when you want, listen to your body, fuel your body… an eating disorder really is a great example of 1. The power of the mind over body and 2. The survival mechanisms of the human… hence why it is VERY common for an anorexic to have binging episodes… but these are all topics for later blogs… back on track… for those who have not experienced the effects of an eating disorder first hand, it really is a totally ridiculous concept for ANYONE to get their head around. Its no wonder the disease is labelled a ‘lifestyle choice’, a ‘diet gone wrong’, superficial and self obsessed, with “just eat a hamburger” or “come stay with me and ill force you to eat” being common responses and ideas of a reasonable cure. In the initial stage of the disease taking over, it may come accross as a ‘diet’ or ‘healthy living’ to even the victim. You see, this disease is seductive. It fools even the victim, so its no wonder there is so much confusion in society. But NOONE signs up for what the Disorder will become when they first decide to lose weight. Eating disorders ARE NOT and I repeat ARE NOT about weight. And if this is all you take from this blog post then I will be happy. Weight loss is a SYMPTOM of an eating disorder, a much more complicated, life threatening mental illness. If it was about the weight, I would not have spent nearly a decade in the grips of this illness. I would not have put my ‘life’ on hold for over 2 years to dedicate all my time and energy into recovery when everything insode of myme was telling me to give up. Heck, I would have just eaten some goddamn hamburgers and chocolates and life would be sweet!
Eating disorders are about control. Just like any other addiction. Frugs, alcohol, gambling… its finding control in a world which feels so out of control. An escape from a place which feels too daughnting to be in.  But they dont just go away. They slowly consume the individuals identity. Sucking the life out of them. But to those on the outside, they do not see the internal battle. The constant dialogue in the head of the sufferers mind. The bodily sensations they feel after eating. The total sense of being out of control. The fear of feeling this. The disotorted perceptions seen in the mirror. The negative mindreading they do as people ‘judge’ them. The strive to be okay, to be an acceptable person, to be good enough. They only see the sypmtoms. The weight loss. The refusing of food. The superficial aspects of the illness. Its not uncommon for friends and even family members to miss the signs of an Eating Disorder. The illness makes the victim isolate themselves, lie and decieve, to such a point that the ability to fake the illusion of being ok becomes second nature. The behaviours amd thoughts running wild behind closed doors…
But now is the time to spread awareness of these illnesses which are becoming far too common. We live in a society full of perfect triggers for a vulnerable person prediposed to an eating disorder.
Im going to soread as much knowledge and awareness as I can so that my journey can be a tool to help those sufferin

Just abit of a reflection

Today in self identity we drew masks. Masks depicting when we are in control, then a mask depicting when the eating disorder is in control. It was truly confronting and very difficult to do. I first came up with this image for the eating disorder mask…

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But realised that it was to confusing to depict in a picture so I just started writing…
“When the eating disorder is in control I act and feel possessed. My head is full of thoughts.  Full of confusion, self criticism and judgement. It is hard to make sense of the thoughts. Although the thoughts come together like a puzzle to create my own interpretation of the world around me. This world becomes my reality. I’m very  susceptible to external stimuli and interpret this in my own negative way.  I feel sick in my stomach and anxious constantly, using a smile to cover up the overwhelming negativity in my mind.  I don’t like people.  People scare me. Their judgemental looks, I read their minds causing more and more thought in my already cluttered head.  I feel uncomfortable in my body. The uncomfortable thoughts fill every inch of me making me feel anxious and fat.  Obese even.  Like a balloon filed to its capacity of air.  Iam the balloon and the thoughts are the air.  They fill every inch of me creating confusion and tension.  I have a plan in my mind of how I will deal with the thoughts, but this plan is destructive.  It feels like it is taking me down the right path, but really it is an illusion covering up the chaos in my head. I follow the path as I know it will give me a false release from my mind. An escape. A break. But this is only momentary. Seconds later the thoughts flood in again. More intense. More loud then ever before”

In comparison to this image I then moved on to the mask of my true self.  This was difficult.  Its hard to know who you are when the disorder has stolen your identity for such a long period of time.   Again I filled in the picture then wrote.

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“When I am in control I feel content.  I feel real.  More true to myself, true to my feelings and less judgemental towards myself.  Iam able to be more in the moment and feel more in control of my behaviours having greater awareness of my thoughts and feelings.  I like people.  I like to be around people.  I can talk to people without the constant mind reading and self critisism. I may not be happy all the time but I am able to regulate and control my emotions and am less likely to engage in destructive irrational behaviours.  I’m able to find interest in things outside of my head.  I notice things around me and can find beauty in the world. People come to me for advice and I’m in a rational headspace and can share my knowledge and wisdom.  I don’t over think., my smile is natural and genuine.  People enjoy my company.  I can have fun and make light of difficult situations. I cry, I laugh, I get annoyed, I engage, i experience  and express emotions in a healthy and normal way”