I saw my ex..

.. and it wasn’t as bad as people say it is. It wasn’t like in the movies when I fell apart later on after seeing him, wanting him back desperately. To be honest, I didn’t feel anything. I was at work, dealing with a group of kids who had come in for climbing (I’m a climbing instructor) and it was a really quick – hi – and then back to work.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. But I am a different person to the person I was when I was with him. I was falling deep into the hole that is anorexia, I was losing weight, arguing with him over the smallest of things and hating every single pound that I put on. When we broke up I was falling into the hole that is depression (there’s a link here..) and he couldn’t deal with how much of a different person that had made me. I have outgrown him, I am not the scared 18 year old I was when I was dumped. I don’t need him. Because that is what it was at the time – I had become dependant on him. I had a really bad time in college and he was pretty much my only friend. Now, I’m at uni, I have so many friends and so many people who I can call on to go out or do things.

I have realised that I would really like the connection and physical closeness that you get with a partner. I would like to have the connection with somebody that you can tell anything to and you know that you won’t be judged. I know that basically sounds like a best friend, but I suppose it’s a deeper layer than that. I’m asexual so physical intimacy for me would not look like sex but cuddles and hand holding and the supportive hand on the small of your back to make sure you’re okay. I miss that, and I know at some point I want that in my life.

I suppose what has changed is that I am more than comfortable with being on my own. As much as my mental health makes me feel like absolute shit I am comfortable being on my own, I know that someone else doesn’t complete me.

I’m glad that I have grown as a human being enough not to want to be with the boy that I was with 2 years ago. And as weird or big headed as it sounds, I’m glad I’ve outgrown him.

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Support Systems

A really important factor that can aid in recovery from any mental illness is the presence of a support system that can help you with difficult situations and support you (hence the term).

When I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder my support system pretty much was my boyfriend. I hadn’t told anyone else, and didn’t want to tell anyone else about my ED because I was ashamed and scared about the judgements. When I finally told my mum (and when my sister found out) I was correct in my predictions of what would happen. They both became very controlling in making me eat and both became very emotional. They didn’t act in a supportive way in the way that I needed, and neither of them stopped and asked what it was that I needed or wanted.

Now, having being diagnosed and struggling with depression, dissociation, self harm and anxiety, I pretty much again, have no support system. I do confide in one of my friends, but she is also struggling with her mental health and I don’t feel it is fair to offload everything since it’s not something anyone can really deal with when they too are in pain. So I am left to my own devices (especially since my GP doesn’t really care either, thankyou the good old NHS).

I am part of my friend’s support system (or at least I would like to think so). She messages me when she is having a bad time, and I try and help her, in both saying the things that I would want to hear and trying to provide useful information that could be constructive. She has a lot more people than me in her support system. Her family and housemates are aware that she is struggling with her mental health, and her GP is very proactive in trying to find support from different services. I am so so glad for her, I really am because I know how much it really sucks to be left with no one to listen and to feel like no one cares. But I’m really struggling with feeling responsible for her wellbeing. If I’m having a bad day I feel like I have to pull on my disguise that I show to the world and give her what she needs. I feel like it would be wrong to say no and give myself the care that I need. It’s really wrong because I am just as needy and scared but I’m a tiny bit annoyed that she is leaning on me so much. She has such a support system, all these people that care for her, and worry and try their best to help and I have nothing and no one. And I’m struggling with the fact that I am cross when I feel like I shouldn’t be.

I suppose I need to learn to appreciate my feelings because they are valid. It’s just difficult when I know that I overshare and burden my friend with as much as she does me so I feel like a hypocrite. Hence my anonymous post into the ether I suppose.

Remembering

I found some of my old food diaries from the last time I was really struggling with anorexia. I don’t really know what possessed me to read them, but read them I did. And as much as they were triggering, and made me want to scream with how much I am now eating, reading them also made me really really sad.

I was so entrenched in my eating disorder it was screaming out from between the lines in everything I wrote. I was eating next to nothing and it was all still too much. I was very clearly malnourished and my brain was paying the price because all I could think about was food and how much I was eating and how much energy I was burning off by exercising. It was all too much and too difficult. It was really sad to see how bad it really was. I think your brain makes you forget how bad it really was so that it isn’t so painful. I had forgotten how bad it really was.

The really sad thing is I still am falling back into my eating disorder, and realistically I now have something to aim for, to aim at. But I suppose it is a step forward that I can see how bad it really was, because it really was awful and that’s something that people tend to gloss over, especially anyone who is in the ‘pro-ana’ community.

Family Opinions

My dad doesn’t really believe in mental health problems. I didn’t tell him I had anorexia for a long long time and he only really found out because I needed him to take me to an appointment one week and then the cat was out of the bag.

My sister is currently in hospital, and she was in A&E for about a day on the observation ward. There was a man in there with her who was suffering from a psychotic break. I felt really really sorry for him, but this sympathy wasn’t shared by the rest of my family (most specifically my dad). He called this man a ‘nutter’ because he had ‘special voices talking to him’.

It has made me really upset and angry. How on earth can someone call somebody else a nutter when they are clearly deeply suffering. There is no need for it. Everyone was treating this man like he was crazy when he most definitely was not. Where is the sympathy? 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. 1 in 4. Think of all the people that you know, statistically 25% of them will experience a mental health difficulty. We all need to show some compassion for those who are struggling with their mental health because it really can happen to anyone.

To anyone who thinks people with mental illness are crazy – we are not. We are just like you, albeit with a brain that functions a little bit differently. And that’s okay! We just need to show each other a little more kindness and compassion, it could happen to you one day.

Eating Disorders Suck

I have had an eating disorder since I was 16 years old. Though I had severely disordered eating for at least a year before that. As a 16 year old I was fairly old (in teenagers) to be diagnosed with anorexia. I hated it immediately and I still can’t say the word out loud.

I was referred to the adult eating disorder services (EDS) in my local hospital and spent 8 months as an outpatient before reaching a mildly near ‘healthy’ BMI and was rapidly discharged with my full urging. I didn’t feel recovered, all I wanted to do was exercise and lose all the weight I had been forced to gain. That didn’t happen.

Instead, my eating disorder coalesced into a form which I didn’t know how to deal with. I started bingeing if I ate at all. I would try so hard to eat a normal or less than normal amount for breakfast, which would lead to multiple slices of toast, biscuits and buckets and buckets of tea. I remember one occasion having breakfast with my mum before driving to college. On the way I stopped at the Co-op and got malt loaf, hot cross buns and a small loaf of bread. I sat in the college car park and ate three quarters of the food in less than an hour. I felt physically sickened with what I was doing to myself though as much as I tried to stop it I couldn’t go back to purely restricting. I hated it. I still do. Because that is what I am now dealing with now I’m back at home.

When I’m at uni I can restrict quite easily. If I know there is no food in the house that is not allowed, I’m fine, I eat my allocated foods and can go about my daily business in peace and my ED is okay, because it knows how to restrict and it’s pretty good at it. But now I’m home I know there is so much food in the house. There are all these foods that I haven’t eaten for the last 10 weeks. There are foods that I haven’t eaten since Christmas and which my family are expecting me to be able to eat. And I’m hiding it all, of course, I don’t want to be put on ED watch like I was as a teenager, so I’m having to eat these foods at family meals. And then I’ll binge on them when I’m alone. I am so torn up. I can’t handle this. I can handle restriction. I know what to expect, I know *how* to do it and I know what the consequences are. But restricting and bingeing is still a new kettle of fish to me and I can’t do it. I don’t feel comfortable telling anyone about this in person (aka my doctor) because it’s embarrassing. I went from straight and easy anorexia nervosa, underweight and slowly dying to a confused mixture of restriction and bingeing and its disgusting. I am disgusted with myself.

Growing Old and Growing Up

Being in your late teens and early 20s is such a strange time. You’re growing up, you’re learning to be an adult and you’re learning now to look after yourself. You’re growing up, learning how to be away from your parents and learning who you are and how to be that person. It’s difficult. It is so so hard. 

I’ve come home for the holidays and realised that I don’t fit in properly anymore. I’m a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Things are all different. I’m not the same person who left to go to university 2 and a half years ago and it’s a bittersweet return because these are the people who I love and who taught me how to be, and I’m not the same. I don’t feel old enough to be living on my own, but I feel too old to be living here at home for the foreseeable future. I have learnt how to be independant and how I live and how I do things and to re-learn how to do all the routines at home is frustrating. 

I am am not an adult yet. I don’t know how to do taxes and I in no way want to buy a house never mind that I can in no way afford it. But on the other hand, I know who I am and I know my own mind enough not to blindly follow my parents. I know how to live on my own and I revel in it. I feel like we’re all bumbling around trying to work out what to do and just making it up anyway.  

I suppose it’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay not to know what we’re doing and where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. We’re all afraid and it’s okay to admit that, it’s just a frustrating time.

A Depressed Brain at Night

I’m writing this after waking up from a very bad night. It may not have been *the* worst I have ever had but it was up there on the list. I was really really depressed. I recognise that it sounds weird considering that I have depression and therefore am always depressed but this was a proper dip down into the dark murky depths of the abyss.

I was trying to sleep and getting nowhere because my brain was on panic mode overthinking and overplanning all the revision that I need to do for my final exams (6 weeks and counting). And it spiralled as it is wont to do when on that level of ‘shit I am depressed’. For me, it’s the kind of depression where I can’t do anything. I can’t think, I can’t write, I can’t formulate sentences, I have no motivation to do anything. Realistically, that’s safer then the other type of depressed I can get where I have the motivation to go out and overdose or self harm in some other way so on a scale of 1-10 it wasn’t awful awful. But I hate this type of depression more. I can’t self harm so I can’t feel anything. I can’t string words together so I can’t talk about it. I did text my one and only friend who I talk to about all the mental crazies and that took me long enough. It’s the kind of depression when I can’t even sleep because that requires effort. It’s on an overdrive in overthinking while plunging off a cliff into the depths of numbness and the crawl out is horrendous.

BUT.

This morning when I finally fell asleep and then promptly woke up my brain was cooperating somewhat. I got dressed, made a cuppa and drove to the gym because exercise is supposed to help and I won’t have it be said that I don’t try. And yes, that has taken a few more spoons then I may have had for social interaction today but you know what? It is miles better than last night and I’ll take that anyday.

Summer (un)Lovin’

Unpopular opinion – I don’t like summer.

I don’t like the heat. I don’t like being sticky and uncomfortable and warm and sweaty and it’s a horrible little bundle of sensory hell. ((It also exacerbates my ED lol)). And unfortunately for me, we have entered spring in the northern hemisphere and temperatures have risen above 12 degrees centrigrade and I am dreading the next 6 months.

Realistically, I know that considering I live in the UK it is never going to be that warm but it still gets to me. And it’s frustrating because I realise that part of it is purely my uncomfortableness with wearing less clothes. It’s also sensory hell and just leads to tears.

I would basically just love to live in Arctic, in the Antarctic, in Alaska. Anywhere that didn’t give me like over 13 degrees centrigrade worth’s of heat.

The other sadder part is that summer makes it more uncomfortable to be depressed. It feels so wrong to be depressed when the sun is shining and it’s warm and people are laughing and meeting up and having BBQs. It feels wrong and I feel so much more ashamed to have depression in the summer than when the weather is cold and more fitting to my mood.

This post is all over the place and I apologise, but I think it’s an accurate representation of my mind right now. It isn’t quite straight or functioning 100% (I’m even writing this to procrastinate my revision for my final exams oops) but I’m plodding along. Life goes on, the universe keeps expanding and all the atoms keep circling.

It’s a Rollercoaster

I’ve recently realised that what I deal with is not just pure unipolar depression. I have times, periodically, every couple of months or more frequently, where I have a span of days (4-7) where I am hyper. I am so on top of the world, I’m so ready to socialise and do things that I’m not normally comfortable doing, I start drinking alcohol, I start wanting to eat takeaway and do new things. I feel great when I’m like that, I feel like normal maybe (though I can’t really remember what ‘normal’ feels like), most if not all, of the suicidal thoughts disappear, I can do things and I can follow conversations. However, when I inevitably switch and my mood drops back to a 0-2 I feel absolutely awful because of the things I have done. Some of the things I can stop myself doing – for example, I won’t go and get a takeaway because I know later on, my ED will beat me up about it no matter how quiet it was at the time, so instead I’ll still not eat properly, I’ll just maybe have 3 slices of toast, not 2. I will feel bad about the social situations I said I would go to, but when my mood drops I can’t go to, and I feel like I’m letting my friends down.

I was speaking to my friend and she said perhaps I should talk to the doctor because it didn’t seem like it was ‘just’ depression, but I feel a little bit stupid because I hate the depression, I hate being down and unable to function how I want so these spells of hyper-ness are a welcome respite from them. And I’m very afraid that the doctor will dismiss me or assume that I am a hypochondriac and finding things to waste her time with.

Self Awarness

Many people (principally therapists that I have seen) will say that the ability to be self-aware of the symptoms of your mental illness is the massive first step and means that it will be easier for you to deal with them. I don’t agree.

I would say that having dealt with mental illness for the past 6 years, that I am fairly self-aware of what is usually happening in my head. This does not mean in any way whatsoever that I can control it, or do anything about it. I can recognise that I am slipping into a depressive state, I can recognise that my eating disorder behaviours are completely illogical and I can recognise that certain thoughts are not my thoughts but are someone else’s thoughts stuck in my head. I can’t do anything about them. I can’t change how i react and act around food as that is a coping mechanism that I fall into when I can’t cope anymore. I can’t change how my brain is going to function and somehow stop myself falling into a depressive state, just as much as I can’t stop it when I fly through all the other stages of emotion and reach hyper. I can see that it is happening, sure, but there’s not much I can really do about it.

And I’m getting more cross about it. I have been told a lot recently, that because I know that I am depressed that I be able to do something about it (this is from the sort of people that would suggest ‘eating healthy’ or yoga as a cure for depression). It doesn’t work like that. And I really really wish that people would realise that.