Anorexia And Managing Food On Holiday – Yay Two Shows Booked – Action Man

I am in the early stages of my recovery and have a long way to go before my nutrition and calorific intake are healthy. I’m still on 660 calories and the photo is of my food intake for today. I have ciabatta with either peanut butter or marmite every day, and have done for months. Each time I’ve increased my calories I’ve added cookies, belvita or nature valley (low bulk with higher calories and easier to cut/split so that I don’t go over my calories).

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These are foods that I feel safe with and any consideration of eating something different leaves me feeling unsafe.

Going away from home is risky when it comes to eating disorders. I have a very rigid routine at home. I eat at 5.15 pm and watch an episode of pointless and then an episode of a box set while I’m eating.

My holiday means that I can’t be certain I’ll be able to eat at the same time, I won’t be able to sit down and watch those shows as I will be out, and I won’t get the ciabatta with peanut butter or marmite. My default mode when I feel unsafe is to not eat. I don’t ever feel hungry so not eating is easy, but it’s also what’s had me hospitalised on three previous occasions.

I’ve spent three days discussing this on the phone with my friend N. My plan is:-

A) Prawn sandwich (340-360 Cal) topped up to 660 with cookies.

B) London is a big city and there will be loads of places which will sell low-calorie Panini or wraps.

C) I’ve packed my cookies already, so if I don’t feel safe with A or B then just have 660 cals of cookies.

I’ve booked two shows today. I’m off to see The Book of Mormon and also The Jungle, which has a narrative based upon life at the former refugee camp known as The Jungle in Calais.

On Monday I’m going to try to get tickets to attend two different football matches. Although I’ve planned trips to museums, formal gardens, nature reserves/zoo, galleries and meeting people, I’m not paying in advance as I’d like some flexibility.

I’m going to add a travel category and upload little bits and pieces when I can. This little guy wants his photo taken every day.

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If you have, or think that you may have an eating disorder and need help then talk with someone who you trust, and see if they will support you to see your Dr.

Most countries have eating disorder charities which provide support, information and resources. Help is available and recovery is possible.

United Kingdom

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

My Current Experience Of Anorexia

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.

I’ve had an eating disorder since I was diagnosed with anorexia the age of 17. Up until the age of 29 anorexia controlled my life and had a serious impact upon my mental health and well-being. Then slowly I started to increase my calories and have a healthy diet. Over a number of years I began to eat more and more and my anorexia turned into binge eating disorder.

For the past four years I have switched between binge eating disorder and anorexia, and each period of these illnesses lasts for many months. With binge eating disorder I feel completely out of control and full of shame and guilt for eating food.

My current experience of anorexia is completely different from that during my younger years. Right now I like my experience of anorexia (and I only speak of my own experience). I feel completely in control, my mental health has improved greatly. My suicidal thoughts have diminished and my anxiety is quite low, although I do still experience paranoid thinking and feelings and have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

My self-esteem improves with anorexia, I take more care of my appearance and my environment, and I am full of energy, my motivation is good, I buy new clothes which fit me and there are parts of my body which I like (such as my arms, shoulders and lower legs). It’s really quite nice to like parts of myself, and on the whole, to be enjoying life.

The downside is that my health is starting to deteriorate, my blood chemistry changing, my blood pressure has dropped, I have orthostatic hypotension, and the QT interval (part of the heartbeat) is beginning to elongate. This means that I could become an inpatient for the treatment of anorexia.

I’m working very closely with my psychiatric team, and we are following an anorexia nervosa harm reduction model. Increasing my calorific intake too quickly increases my anxiety and suicidal thoughts, so we are increasing my calories at a very slow rate. Every increase that my psychiatrist and I have agreed I have stuck to, which is very positive and am pleased that I am making progress. My progress is slow and it won’t be enough to keep me out of hospital, but it is progress. We are trying to keep me out hospital for as long as possible because I find hospital and overwhelmingly scary experience.

On a personal level I have no desire to either increase my calories or my weight, why would I when anorexia improves the quality of my life experience? The only motivator that I have to change is the desire to stay out of hospital and to reduce the length of time of a likely admission.

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.
Todays total calories. Although this may appear to be a small amount of food, it is double that of what it was in May when my psychiatrist and I agreed to follow the harm reduction model.

My current experience of anorexia, which is a positive experience for me, is far different than it wasfor me in between the ages of 17 and 29, and I am aware that other people’s experience of anorexia is often very negative.

Recovery is possible from all eating disorders, and I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of support froman  eating disorders charity. Am I a positive role model for recovery from anorexia? On one hand my response to this is no because I’m enjoying my experience of anorexia and I am still losing weight. On the other hand I have to answer yes, because I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of third sector support. I have also stuck to every increase in calories which I’ve agreed with my psychiatrist, without backtracking at all, and I’ve stopped purging completely. Recovery in my mind is doing anything which increases quality of life. Following the harm reduction model has meant that I’m experiencing less muscular pain and increased ability to walk around, and be able to be fully engaged with my photography and study.

A larger town that is nearby to me has an outpatient day service for people with eating disorders which I have requested to attend. The difficulty is funding for a place. The day service is run and managed by different NHS trust than the one for the area where I live, and obtaining funding from my local NHS trust to attend an out of area service is time-consuming and frustrating.

For those of you who read this post, who also have an eating disorder would like to stress that recovery is possible, my recovery may not be the greatest example, the recovery can be difficult and slow process for many of us. Baby steps, one step at a time, but sticking with these steps and moving forwards is definitely progress which is achievable and sustainable.

If you have an eating disorder please try to talk to somebody you know and trust, and ask them to support you in attending your doctors.  There are many eating disorder services and charities throughout the world.

United Kingdom

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

 

It’s All About Me When It Comes To My Emotions – Responding Not Reacting

It’s been a challenging week for me on many levels’. I felt hurt and frustrated by a friend’s behaviour and, have had a professional organisation failed to keep their commitment, and two professionals involved in my care are leaving their posts.

I find it very difficult to be authentic and express my emotions in response to somebody’s behaviour. However, I had to say something this week so that O could remain true to myself and protect my self esteem. My friend’s behaviour isn’t the issue, it’s my feelings that I need to focus on. It doesn’t matter how you behave, that’s your choice and your right, so if I feel upset or hurt in response to your behaviour that’s my responsibility. My telling you how I feel doesn’t mean that you have to change your behaviour. As your behaviour is your responsibility you can choose whether to act differently, or continue to behave as you are. This means that you can remain true to yourself.

Self-portrait in which I photographed myself as a reflection in a mirror.
(Please click on photo for a full size image) I am slowly becoming comfortable with displaying self portraits, but I still need to cover my face.

So this week I took responsibility for my emotions and spoke to my friend about how I was feeling with regards to our friendship. I did this in a manner that owned my feelings and didn’t blame her for my emotional reaction. In order to do this I needed to give myself a couple of days to allow my emotions to calm down and so that I could prepare what I wanted to say without it being an attack on her. It would have been so easy to react but that would have been damaging to both her and myself (There have been recent news stories about students trying to get their lecturers sacked because they have differences of opinion. This behaviour is completely inappropriate because it apportions blame rather than taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, it’s also very arrogant and self righteous).

With a professional organisation letting me down my approach is firmer, more descriptive and without emotional content. They have provided me with some software called Dragon Nuance, which is voice to text software, and am using this to write this blog today. They are currently training me how to use and make the most of this technique. I had an appointment with them which they failed to keep. I’m very pleased that in both instances I have been able to respond, to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings without resorting to criticism or blaming them for how I feel.

(Please click on photo for a larger image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy immensely and it also calms me down.

My eating disorder therapist has been off work for several months,. We had an appointment this week, during which she informed me that she is changing role in two weeks and I won’t have a therapist until the new person is in post. On top of this, the junior psychiatrist that I have been working with whilst my therapist has been off sick, is moving onto a new rotation in two weeks and I’ll have to get used to a new doctor. My care coordinator is also changing. I feel quite vulnerable with having these three changes at the same time.

Acceptance is the answer, and the only way of responding to these changes I don’t like and that I feel unsafe with. So my response is to allow my vulnerability to be as it is, and to discuss this with my friends as often as I need to.

By Thursday afternoon my thoughts were along the lines of “what else is going to go wrong today?”. So I wrote a gratitude list and made a note of all the things that had happened during the day which I felt grateful for, I spoke with a friend, and my mood and thoughts improved. Making some macro photography also helped to keep me focused straight after my psychiatric appointment.

(Please click on the photo for a full size image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy enormously, and it also calms me down.

Humility Exists In The Space Between Arrogance And Self Hatred

I’ve been still and relaxed today, which is good for my soul, and provides the intimacy that I need for honest self-reflection.

My arrogance and self-hatred are both defence mechanisms that I use to keep others away from me. It’s not deliberate, it’s an internal form of self-preservation that’s been a response to trauma, and a symptom of complex post traumatic stress.

When I’m in the space of arrogance then ‘Im ok, you’re not ok’ a position of blame or superiority. When I’m in the space of self-hatred then ”you’re ok, I’m not ok’ I have you on a pedestal and myself in the gutter, a place of inferiority.

Both positions are an external projection of my feelings of inferiority, and a need to find a space in the world in which it’s ok to be me. To have strengths and weaknesses and be at peace with both.

Certainly I feel more comfortable in my skin, more often. Much more often.

I can only be ok with you and you’re strengths and weaknesses when I am ok with mine, and that’s humility. Humility is knowing who you are. Genuine self-knowledge and acceptance. It’s a simple understanding that I have unique strengths and weaknesses, as do you. This is the place where I meet you as an equal, individually unique, but as equals ‘im OK – you’re OK’.

When I become aware that I’m experiencing arrogant thoughts I know  that I feel like I’m being judged, and the arrogance is like a belligerent ‘fuck you, I’m better than you anyway’ it’s feelings of  inferiority  manifesting as blame and self-righteousness.

When I’m aware that I’m being intensely self-critical and experiencing self-hatred, it’s because I feel shame. Ashamed of who I am, I can never be as good as you, I’m unworthy and you most definitely are superior to me. Neither of these are humble.

I am aware of these experiences today and can recognise them quickly, and allow myself to feel the underlying feelings that arrogance and self-hatred mask. The feelings pass, and I can meet you in a place of self and other acceptance.

Today I’ve experienced feelings of superiority and inferiority, and observing the shifts and allowing them to be, has meant that I’ve found equilibrium between strengths and weaknesses.

I go to bed knowing that I am OK and you are OK.

Narrative – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

A Hermits Journey

A Hermits Journey

I do not live alone, I live with myself. This is a position of strength, although it may appear to be an isolated existence.

A Hermits Journey

My mental health difficulties can lead to very morbid thoughts, but somehow I manage to walk that path in between life and death. I find there is as much joy to be found in darkness as there is in light. That’s not the way it used to be, so I think a positive attitude comes with experience and age.

A Hermits Journey

People are important to me. Through my studies I have developed an online community, and I have some very close and wonderful friends that I have known for years. However I chose not to meet with people very often, I prefer to have a physical distance, and enjoy the freedom of not having to be with people.

A Hermits Journey

If I spend too much time around people I feel overwhelmed and oppressed. It’s not that people are oppressive, its hard to explain. I find that being with people is quite heavy and tiring. It’s hard for me to just let go and move with current of life when I am in the company of others.

A Hermits Journey

Its much easier to blend into the background and be invisible.

A Hermits Journey

Spirituality, in my mind, is not about a church or belief system. Nature and space provide me with a connection and nourishment, as of course do birds. For me, feeling connected, that I have a place and purpose is important, and photography has given me that in bucket loads. I am grateful for my camera, and grateful to be studying photography.

A Hermits Journey

Gratitude is something that is so important to me. It is possible to feel grateful for so many small things, and in this photo its the colour and texture of the wood, and how they are strengthened and exaggerated by the snowy background. One of the many things that I found to be grateful for on my walk. Gratitude is a spiritual practice. At the end of each day I write five things down in my daily gratitude journal. Positivity has to be cultured.

A Hermits Journey

One of the down sides to living the life of a hermit is that there is a wee bit too much time for thinking. I find it is easy to slip into either negative thinking or dwelling on the past.

A Hermits Journey

Too much self-reflection can leave me feeling trapped, brittle and easy to break.

A Hermits Journey

During those times I have to dig deep and find my inner strengths and push myself forward. Colour and beauty is to be found within those inner resources that I use to move onwards and upward.

A Hermits Journey

Once I have pushed myself back up to the top of the hill, and re-discovered the joy of being, I can take a rest at my post. I lean upon this post with my camera in one hand and binoculars in the other. There are so many different bird species to be found in this small patch of bracken, bramble and trees. Peace and beauty flutter around me.

A Hermits Journey

In the journey through life people come and go. Maybe in passing, for however long that maybe, we will sit on these benches together and connect. But whether I sit with you, or someone else, I will never be alone because I will always be with myself.

 

Reflections

I am so grateful that I have used the opportunity provided in exercise 3.3 to explore different themes in relation to photography as a sequence. The photos for A Hermits Journey were taken during a walk from Whitby Abbey, down into the town, along the river Esk into Ruswarp, and then back into Whitby, ending with a walk along the West Cliffs.

The walk took me five hours, and I took many photos along the way. Although I will publish others in my gallery, I narrowed my selection for this narrative down to twelve photos which I could use to express a little of who I am. These photos are sequential in relation to the walk that I took, and I have tried to use my words in a manner that flows throughout.

If viewed by anyone who hasn’t walked the route I enjoy, then the photos without text would be seen as a series rather than as a sequence. The writing brings the photos together as a sequence, and provide a way for me to communicate and express myself. This is directive in its manner and probably doesn’t leave the viewer asking questions, although some may be able to relate to different aspects. I don’t believe that this has any abstract or conceptual slant to it, and fits very neatly into a genre of narrative photography.

Critique and feedback are always welcome on my blog.

I Can’t Breathe – (Co-dependancy)

This is a short poem that I wrote about 20 years ago (I’m excluding the other person’s name) .

You take my bed

You take my mind

But one day xxxxxxx

You will find

The real me

Because its there

And then you’ll realise

I don’t care.

I cant breathe

 

 

Thank god for therapy, and learning how to practice emotional integrity!

Waiting to Die

Death becomes him

Death is me

This waking death of misery.

Please come death

Please swallow me

End this life and swallow me.

 

The usual reminder:- I am OK. In fact I’m very good right now. Writing is recovery.

If You Knew What Makes Me Cry

I’m a man you know, and all men feel

Emotional………sometimes!

We laugh it off and blame the beer

“No, really mate, I’m fine”

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

On the terraces, win, lose or draw

“Fuck off ref” I shout

It’s not that I’m a heartless …t,

But these feelings must come out.

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight  sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

My missus is amazing,

Shes gorgeous through and through.

My throat went dry, my heart near stopped,

when she whispered ” Yes I do”

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

My princess buggers off,

To the girls each Sunday night.

I’m sure she goes on purpose,

So my tears stay out of sight.

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.

 

How kind she is to let my tears,

Flow freely through my beard.

I’m really quite emotional

But I find crying weird.

You would wet your pants with laughter

If you knew what makes me cry.

It’s not the twilight sunset

Nor that twinkle in your eye.