My Eating Disorder Recovery – Latest Update

My thinking around eating has been disturbed this week. I have experienced an intense desire to stop eating and to lose weight. Partly this has been triggered by a drop in my mood and energy, but my weight gain hasn’t helped either.

I’m on an anti-psychotic because I experience severe paranoia, and this medication affects my metabolism. Consequently I have put on an amount of weight that isn’t usual in anorexia recovery, and is affecting my self esteem. I don’t want to keep putting on weight, and I dare not come off of the medication. I took myself off of it over the summer and the paranoia, anxiety and suicidal ideation were unbearable. I can’t exercise because of my heart condition, and I must eat the quantities of food as agreed with my nutritionist so that I maintain good health. I feel a bit trapped to be honest.

My mood has also dropped, which I believe is common for many of us during the winter months. My thinking has been quite dark, with an increase in rumination and suicidal ideation. But I can cope with this as long as I stay meaningfully occupied. Although this hasn’t been easy to do over the past week, I have fumbled my way through.

Life is complicated. I have a few quite serious health conditions, which affect my physical and mental wellbeing. But hey, that’s life. Each of us on the planet has our own set of complications that we need to face on a daily basis, and we all have ups and downs with these.

What do I need to do in order to cope with mine? Firstly, the above attitude is the right one for me to adopt. My difficulties are no more or less unusual than anyone else’s. I can’t afford to think that I’m worse off than others as that kind of thinking is the start of a slippery slope that’s dangerous for my mental health. Secondly, I need to keep eating the same amount of food, and to see eating as being the same as taking medication for my mental health. Thirdly, I need to stay meaningfully occupied. Fourthly, I need to make sure I also have adequate rest. My heart condition is now causing fatigue and I’m needing to rest for longer periods during the day.

Life is a balancing act, but there are definitely things that I can do to stop myself from slipping off of the tightrope.

If you have an eating disorder – recovery is possible, speak to a family member, someone you trust, a doctor, or search google for an eating disorder service in your country.

United Kingdom

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

 

The Bane Of Codependancy

It would be easy to state that codependancy is people pleasing and the desire to make others happy, but that view would be a naive statement.

When I am in the company of others I don’t want to make decisions for myself because I am afraid that I will cause offence. My preference, at least outwardly, is to agree with suggestions from the other person, because I want to make them happy. It’s easy to go along with this way of thinking and acting, but to do so is to believe the lie.

When I’m reflecting upon this kind of behaviour with an open mind I can see the truth of the matter. That truth is disturbing. People pleasing is dishonest and self centred. My codependancy is born from a fear of rejection, of not being good enough, a belief that if I state my needs in any given situation then you will not like me and will abandon me. My self esteem is low.

I know this internal belief comes from the horrors of my childhood. My upbringing has left me full of shame about who I am. I feel like I am a useless, worthless and bad person. These emotions become heightened when I interact with others, and to be seen as a good person I must make you happy. If I disagree with you then I am bad and you won’t like me. I’ll then feel the shame of my very existence, exposed, naked and raw. It’s self centred and puts me at the centre of the universe. It’s a statement that I have the power to make you feel good or bad, that I’m that special and unique.

It also means that you cannot have a relationship with me. If I’m not being true to myself in my dealings with you, then you’re not in a relationship with me. You are in a relationship with who I think you want me to be. It’s a selfish way to live.

In romantic relationships I am at my worst. The emotional entanglement overwhelms me. If you point out a fault, or disagree with something which I say or do, then you must be right. I find it easy to see things from your point of view, and in doing so I lose myself completely. I slowly stop having opinions or ideas and I end up a confused mess in near constant pain. I stop being me.

The above is a scary picture, and painful to see in black and white, but this was my experience for most of my life.

Living on my own for several years has given me a break from the mess, and it’s also given me the opportunity to begin to address my codependancy and heal. I practice self care in many ways, and doing so improves the value which I place in myself. My friends can now ask for an opinion and I’m able to respond truthfully. I can be with others and say what I would or wouldn’t like, at least some of the time. I’m a work in progress, and I have to put a lot of effort into being honest with others. I still have a strong fear of rejection and abandonment, but I am improving slowly. A romantic relationship is definitely off of the cards, but I’m finding I’m more able to be honest with friends and family to a degree.

I’m finding out who I am, and beggining to let go of who I think you want me to be. I’m not perfect, I can still avoid sharing my truth some of the time. But I’m certainly moving forwards one step at a time.

Considering The Year Ahead, Life, Death And Photography

It would be impossible to think of the future without considering that there is the potential for me to die from heart disease. As you’re aware I have decided not to have surgery for my heart condition. I can see how dieing could be a scary experience, but I have been at peace since making this decision.

Knowing that I have a limited time left has most certainly helped me to focus on living well and considering whether my daily actions improve the quality of my life. This doesn’t mean running around like a mad march hare and doing, doing, doing. Sometimes I just want to sit still and do nothing, others I want to read or birdwatch, and occasionally I want to be around people.

I’m not used to being around people, and I can struggle even when I’m around those who I love and feel safe with. Getting the balance right for me isn’t easy, I’ve had a wonderful Christmas, but I’m ready to go home now.

When I return home my plan is to begin meditating daily. Meditation is most definitely linked to my creativity and photography. I have a few ideas for photographic project’s and I know meditation will help with developing these. I have vague ideas about making photos with others who identify as being non-binary or gender fluid, and making use of masks or props to explore and express gender identity.

I’ve particularly enjoyed my embroidered photography this year, for my project “Some Emotional States Of My Anorexia, And The Strengths Of My Recovery.” I completed the project just before Christmas, but I don’t feel ready to make these public at the moment. The wonderful thing is that I already have a gallery/arts project who would like to exhibit the series. I can see the potential for building upon this work to explore mental health further. Meditation will definitely aid my progress in these areas.

“Snippets” is a series I’m currently working on in which I write down snippets of overheard conversation and take a photo in the area of which the conversation was heard. I got the idea from a fellow OCA photography student Chloe Halstead. The idea is to have this as a long term project using my Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and to present the series as a photo book.

Hopefully I will also have some news about my application for a bursary to study an Open Foundation in Creative Writing, with the Open College of the Arts, I can feel some more photo essays coming along.

Colour is also going to feature in the clothes I wear, it’s time to bring more colour and variety into my attire, and today I’m top to bottom in yellow. I’ve also seen some green corduroys that I like. I’ll give them some thought.

I guess I’ll need to tone the colours down when birdwatching, something which I plan to do more of this year. I’m so grateful that I discovered RSPB Rainham Marshes. One thing that would aid my birdwatching would be finding a teleconverter that I can attach to the front of my Mzuiko 75-300mm lens. I can’t currently afford one. However, I have four photos appearing in The Loudest Whispers exhibition, run by The Arts Project London, during February, March and April. If they sell then I’ll be able to afford a teleconverter. Fingers crossed. 

I don’t have a bucket list, but I would like to be able to go on a birdwatching holiday during the summer.

Wishing you all a wonderful year ahead.

A Change Of Direction

A recent health event has meant I’ve had to reconsider the direction of my life on all fronts.

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I have a heart condition, which has suddenly deteriorated, and I’ve made the decision not to have surgery. It was diagnosed several years ago, and I have known that I would need to make a decision regarding surgery for a long time. Generally the condition gets worse gradually, and mine was following the usual path until last month. After a routine scan I was held back and the registrar asked to speak to me. I wasn’t expecting the news at this stage, so it has been a shock. Creating the space to speak with my nearest and dearest has been my priority.

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My spiritual beliefs have been the bedrock of my decision to allow my life to follow its natural course. I feel a deep sense of peace with my decision.

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What I want right now is to have the best possible quality of life for as long as possible. When I consider my future a few things are important to me. My friends and family, photography and study. I had planned to move on to studying for a degree in photography, but I no longer think that this is appropriate for my health and wellbeing, so I have decided to alter my direction.

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Naturally I will still make photography and continue with personal projects, but I’ve decided to study for an Open Foundation in Creative Writing with the Open College of the Arts. I like to write, and I combine photography with my writing, especially when producing photo-essays. Converting to creative writing will minimise the stress, and it also means that during those times when I’m less able to be physically active, I will still be able to be meaningfully occupied.

Quality of life is the most important thing whilst I allow the cycle of life to play out. Daily I ask myself “What can I do today that will bring meaning to my life, and give me the opportunity to create value and culture?”

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The Listening Place

Face-to-face support for those who no longer feel life is worth living

The Listening Place is a London based charity who provide face to face support for those who feel life is no longer worth living. I do not believe that I would be alive if it hadn’t been for the support of The Listening Place.

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My initial contact was a self referral over the telephone, followed by a face to face assessment at Meade Mews. It felt more like an informal chat about my current difficulties.

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The next step was recieving a phone call to confirm that I was being offered support, and a date for the first session. Sessions are once a fortnight, same day, same time and with the same volunteer. After six sessions there is a review to see whether support is still required.

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It’s OK to arrive early and sit in the small but beautiful gardens, and I’ve needed time after a session to sit in the peace and collect my thoughts before getting on with the rest of the day.

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Thankyou to you all at The Listening Place.

The Listening Place 0203 906 7676

referrals@listeningplace.org.uk

listeningplace.org.uk

Coping With A Mental Health Crisis

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My mental health has taken a nose dive recently. I’m coming out of it now, but it’s been unbearable. If it wasn’t for the support of The Listening Place then I would have ended my life, I had plans to.

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This relapse has built up slowly over a few months, and it began with an increase in anxiety and paranoid thinking. Whenever I heard sounds or talking from nearby buildings I believed that the people in those homes were talking about me, and planning to kill me.

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It’s been so intense that I have been too afraid to stay in my home during the day, and I would go to bed and wake up full of anxiety. When I wasn’t experiencing paranoid thoughts I was thinking of how I could kill myself.

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I’ve been so exhausted by the anxiety, paranoia and suicidal thoughts, and this rose to a crescendo at the beggining of last week. I’m grateful that my friends, The Listening Place and the mental health crisis team have been there to support me.

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One of the most positive aspects is that I have been able to nurture myself. Not perhaps in the traditional sense, but it’s worked. I accepted that I could not stay in during the day, so I took myself out. I’ve been to so many places, Wood Green, Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Tottenham Hale, Walthamstow Wetlands, Stave Hill Eco Park, London Wetlands, Clapham, Hammersmith, Trafalgar Square. I also visited my cousin, and I’m going to stay with a friend shortly. My favourite trip was to Heathrow Airport. There’s an area of grassland near the south runway which is used by many to watch the aircraft come and go. I feel guilty for liking aircraft when I know how much damage they do to the environment, but I do like them, and the day relaxed me. I’ve also been meeting my daily calorific need and I’ve cut out caffeine.

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It hasn’t been easy to motivate myself, to be honest about how much I was struggling, and to seek support, but I’ve done it. I’ve also found that if I feel unsafe at home then I put wax earplugs in. They block the surrounding noise and that helps a lot. I’ve felt such an urgent need to leave home that I’ve barely done any washing, and no housework at all.

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But things are easing now. I’m still experiencing some paranoia, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, but the intensity has lessened. Life has been so painful, but I’ve created peace and calmness by going out to these places. Photography has been my bearer of peace. Thank goddess that it provides me with such an escape. I’m feeling very grateful, and you know what – I’m proud of how much effort I have put in to survive.

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The Listening Place is a London based charity which provides face to face support for people who feel that life is no longer worth living.

Reflections Upon Improving Suicidal Ideation, Anorexia And Paranoia

The past few weeks have been incredibly challenging for me, with intense paranoia, suicidality and relapse with my eating disorder. It’s been a very painful time to be honest, and I’ve needed to delve into the pain in order to survive.

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Diving into the pain means to stop resisting it, to lean into it and to allow it to be, just as it is. It’s had me curled up on my bed in tears and too scared to move, and it’s taken me into leaving my home upon awakening and returning in the evening because I’ve been to scared to be at home. Paranoia is a fucker, I hate it, it’s been overwhelming, but it’s eased somewhat.

The shift happened last Thursday when it hit me that despite feeling unsafe, I’ve actually been safe. I’ve used the rationalisation for a while, but it finally dropped into place.

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Going to Brighton last Sunday and Monday was a decision to go out because I wanted to, not because I felt that I had to. I have spent most of the last week out as well, as an act of protecting my mental health. There’s a workman decorating the communal space and having him around triggers my experience of paranoia, so I’ve been out every day, and I will be for the next week too. Sometimes it’s knowing which fight to battle and which to accept. The good news is that I’ve stayed at home this weekend. I’ve felt anxious, I’ve experienced paranoid thinking, but it’s been at a level that I can cope with.

The fear has reduced significantly, and I believe this has had a positive impact upon my eating disorder. I’ve increased my food intake to around 3/4 of my bodies daily requirement. My body is larger than I want it to be, heavier than what I feel comfortable with, but I’m eating more and I feel better for it.

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Life is still a challenge, I don’t find living easy, but this week has been more enjoyable. Getting out with my camera on my trip to Brighton was very enjoyable, and shooting whilst being down on my knees has been a learning experience and I’m going to post about that over the next couple of days.

A friend sent me a link to an artists call for submission for a health related exhibition. Submitting was such an invigorating thing to do. I felt alive with enthusiasm and passion. I haven’t had the motivation to continue with embroidering on photography as yet, but it will return. I’m sleeping for longer and up later in the day, my most creative time, but the motivation will return.

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Further Consequences Of A Failed Suicide Attempt

My original post about my suicide attempt expressed how the consequences had affected my life. It can be viewed here.

However, I have on-going consequences that are not going to clear up in the short term, and could still have life altering consequences.

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On one side of the equation, the pressure ulcer is beggining to granulate and heal. Fab. However, I recently had an MRI scan, and the calcaneus (heel bone) has an infection.

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I now walk on a crutch to ease the pressure on my foot, and I’m taking two types of anti-biotics.

There is a possibility that the infection will not be cleared with the anti-biotics and I may then need a partial calcanectomy. A partial calcanectomy is a partial amputation which removes some of the heel bone, along with the pressure ulcer. This procedure is preferred to a below the knee amputation which has more serious consequences. Fingers crossed that the anti-biotics do their job.

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I’m feeling vulnerable just now. I’m experiencing intense anxiety. My childhood experiences have left me with the need to be alert and able to escape if I need to, and now my ability to move quickly is limited. I often feel scared, particularly when I’m indoors. I’m struggling to stay at home and I feel safer in open spaces.

On a positive note, people are wonderful. Im on a train to Brighton and someone gave me their seat. This happens quite regularly, and people offer to help in so many ways. I feel grateful for those experiences, especially that I can now allow people to help. I’m fiercely independant and usually shun support. I can’t always do what I need to at the moment, and it’s a nice experience to be cared for in so many ways.

I’m Struggling With Anorexia, Paranoia And Suicidal Thoughts, But….

Fuck, life is hard at this moment in time. I’m experiencing intense paranoia, suicidal thoughts and severe relapse with anorexia.

Yesterday I struggled so much that I went back to bed, which is something that I never do. Today the paranoia and fear were so intense that I couldn’t stay in. I’m paranoid that my neighbours are going to attack me, so I packed my camera and went out. Thank god for photography, it’s saved me on many an occasion.

Suicidal thoughts are building up, which is linked to the paranoia. I was in a building today which had a viewing gallery on the tenth floor, which is open and has an easily climbable fence. I looked down, imagining jumping, which sent shock waves of fear along my legs. I didn’t do it, I can’t do it, but it’s a venue logged in my mind.

As for the anorexia, I had two weeks of eating a ciabatta with either peanut butter or marmite per day, and since then I’ve not eaten anything for eight days. I know that not eating anything at all makes it harder for the paranoia and suicidal thoughts to dissipate, which I don’t want, but I can’t eat. I’m obsessed with food but I can’t eat, can’t do it.

I feel completely fucked.

However, I am doing things to cope.

  • I’m still attending 12 step eating disorder recovery meetings
  • I’m being honest with people about the state of my mind
  • I’m attending therapy
  • Yesterday I went back to bed
  • Today I went out
  • I have been out with my camera
  • I’m making plans for future study
  • I’m visiting a friend next week
  • I’m planning things with the OCA London Regional Group
  • I’m continuing with my embroidered photography
  • I’ve kept my spiritual life up
  • I’m exploring ways to fund living costs so I can study BA hons photography
  • I developed some photos in Lightroom this evening, which are found below

I’m doing what I can right now, I’m doing my best, and this too shall pass.

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