Archive for the ‘Being Human’ Category

The “I don’t care” voice

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I am starting a new job on Wednesday. It’s the first time I’ve gone into a new job without the eating disorder to lean on. It was, I am beginning to recognise, a big part of my defence against the world and so I feel rather exposed venturing out on my own. If it all goes wrong, I will have nothing to make me feel better and nothing else to blame.

It is a little hard to acknowledge these thoughts.

I’ve been digging around rather uncomfortably to see if I can find out what they mean…only I already know the answer. They mean that I have to stop pretending that I don’t care.

The Flipside of Fear

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

This is a blurt post.

There’s stuff going on in my head that I can’t quite seem to work out. Passing snippets that have paired themselves off without quite explaining the pairing, and insights that still remain partially hidden. There is one common thread. It is the word fear.


I’m scared.

Belly scared. Paralysed scared. Scared silly….yet not quite sure of the source (there’s so many); nor, if I’m honest, of the emotion (it’s just what I always feel).

Updating My Metaphorical Wardrobe

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

I have been carrying around some stuff for a while, without realising that it’s not actually mine.

I didn’t stop to consider where it came from until recently; in fact, I don’t think the question even entered my head. It has only emerged – upon closer inspection – that a lot of the fears and feelings I have assumed over the years do not belong to me.

It has been like getting home with the right black coat – only when you check the label, it’s wrong.

Existential Depression? Another Piece of the Puzzle

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I have been trying, for years, to make sense of my illness. To gain some sort of understanding of why and where it all began. It has been like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle when you’re not quite sure what the end image is, nor when the next piece will come.

Most of them have emerged during my recovery. It was hard, before then, to see beyond the food. Now, I follow the clashes, and the discussion and the flashes of insight; and the puzzle is coming steadily along.

I no longer expect it to be completed.

Envy, Jealousy, the Eating Disorder, and Me

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

I have known, for a while now, that I am going to have to write about jealousy at some point. I have started, multiple times, in the past year, and then abandoned the attempts in frustration as the words splutter out with no resolution; and, amidst the debris, I can not find what I am trying to say.

Jealousy is something that I struggle with on an almost daily basis. A cruel and angry emotion that starts in the pit of my stomach; winds its way around the object – and then shoots back to me again.

Envy is closely aligned, yet more crippling. It is ingrained and slow-moving, and I often get them confused.

Her job is more interesting than my job; his flat is bigger than my flat; where they live is better than where I live; blonde hair has far more allure that brunette; if only I was as clever – or as beautiful – or as popular – or as slim, as her.

One complaint leads to the next and the poison oozes, insidiously, until everything’s tainted.

For as long as I can remember, I have been like this.

Not Cool Enough

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

There are a few people who make me feel like I’m not quite cool enough; and I have been trying, desperately, to work out whether the problem is them – or me.

At 30, I should be beyond these schoolgirl considerations. They smack of whispering at the back of classrooms and popularity ratings and things that you would have hoped I’d grown out of…only the hurt is still as sharp and the insecurity, as gnawing.

It is frustrating that, whilst they’re getting on with life, I am still struggling to wrestle back a little self respect and reassure myself that their opinion is not the only thing that counts.

On Rejection

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

There was something going around twitter last week about rejection.

I can’t get it out of my mind.

It has struck a sensitive chord that I am almost too scared to write about; and, because the chord is exposed, a wall’s gone up and now I can’t see what’s going on behind.

According to this article, rejection is like a physical pain. Whether you care about who’s rejecting you or they’re hidden behind a computer screen, the hurt is the same –

A twisting in the gut and a bowing of the shoulders and a sinking of the head and the unbearable feeling of shame. Or that’s the imprint that remains for me.

A few weeks ago, I had my own little example.

Stitched On Smiles

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Pull your socks up and put a smile on your face and be grateful for everything you’ve got, because what will people think when you’re walking around looking miserable.

This time, I don’t really care what people think and I can’t quite muster up the enthusiasm to pull up my socks. They will only slide back down again. I am tired of playing games. I appreciate that I might not be great company; but if you give me time to sort my head out, then I’ll probably get there in the end –

It’s when you trample over my feelings or sweep them under the carpet that we’re heading for disaster.

From a Female Perspective-

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Let me set the scene. I am a thirty-something female. Educated, employed, relatively attractive, slightly neurotic – and recovering from a chronic eating disorder.

To help me along this bumpy journey, I started to try and understand myself and my relationship to the world; to gain some insight into what had happened and why it had happened. The pen was my probe and my head, the subject. Or so I thought. Somewhere along the way, my psychological exercise stumbled into a sociological debate and took on a life of its own – particularly in relation to being a woman.


Sunday, February 14th, 2010

The light was fading and the drizzle still hadn’t stopped as I drove home past a guy, standing beside the A1 with a bucket of roses and a sodden, torn sign.

Sights like this make me sad.

At 5 O’clock on a rainy, winters afternoon, people shouldn’t be standing alone in the rain, especially when it’s Valentines day. It makes me wonder what the point of it all is, really; and whether I’ll ever make sense of what we’re doing here

And then I remembered, as the lights changed, that we don’t really know the answer, and we’ll probably never get what it’s all about; but the thing that keeps it going is a little four letter word called Love –

Because, when all’s said and done, it’s love that makes the futile feel bearable and gives meaning to what’s mostly mundane; and, it’s the human connections that provide an anchor when everything else is a little hard to grasp.

So, instead of feeling sad as I drove past the man in the rain, and rather than feeling sorry for myself, as I headed back to my empty flat, I felt an unexpected kind of connection and a strange kind of peace with it all; because the answers to life might be totally out of my grasp –

But the point of it isn’t.

The If-Then Voice

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

There is a little voice in my head that likes to make connections between totally unrelated things. I call it the if-then voice, because this is its favourite line.

If you don’t do that – then this will happen, OR, if you do that – then this will be the result.

It likes to predict the outcome, does the if-then voice. It likes to consider any action – or non action – in terms of what will come next and in line with its own, mysterious, agenda, which is mostly around controlling me.


Thursday, January 28th, 2010

On those rare occasions when the barriers are down and it feels okay to move beyond what is normally said, then it suddenly emerges that we’re all just working with half versions of the truth; and, most of the time, we’re making up what goes in the gaps.

And, when we pause, unexpectedly, to find out whether what we’re thinking they’re thinking, is even close to what’s really going through their minds; and find ourselves, so often, on entirely different pages, then it’s immediately clear that we’re all just trying to make sense of a fragmented assortment of feelings and experiences and thoughts, reflected and refracted in a thousand different ways –

Muddling Through

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

With one foot in – and one foot out – of this thing that is life, I am only just beginning to realise the complexities, and the extent to which we are all just muddling along and trying to make the best of what we’ve got.

That we start, not as a blank canvas, but as a sketched outline, already shaded and shaped by the people that went before us – and those that preceded them; and, that the final masterpiece rarely resembles the vision but is, instead, a mishmash of the truths and illusions and feelings and experiences that we’ve picked up along the way.


Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

If they knew, when they joked that he should be thrown in the loony bin, that I had spent a substantial period of time in one of these veritable institutions, then they might not have waited so eagerly for me to be impressed by their humour –

And if they realised, when they referred to him, derogatively, as ‘mental’, that my diagnosis could put my into this category, then they might have thought twice before trying so hard to be my friend.

If, when they joked about Prescott with his head down the toilet, they’d known that I too had spent over a decade in the very same position, then would they have found the situation as amusing –

And would they still have surmised that people with depression can’t handle responsibility – or that people with eating disorders are vain – or that mental illness is linked to stupidity – had they learnt that the person they were talking to had grappled with all three?

Achilles’ Heels

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

I am learning to recognise my Achilles’ heels.

I have quite a few of these painful sore spots that, previously, would have driven me to bingeing – or some other equally destructive distraction – but I am now becoming better acquainted with.

The eating-disorder-provided relief was evidently a temporary fix and a bit of an illusion: the only way to sort out an Achilles heel is to tackle the source of the pain and work out what’s really going on – which is often something quite small that has festered into something quite big

Life – and Death

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

I stopped believing in an afterlife around the time I realised I was far more likely to end up in hell – than in heaven.

We’ve got an eye on death from the moment we start developing a consciousness.

It’s bound up in how we behave, and what we believe and how we live our lives –

There’s no escaping the subject – it’s just how we approach it that determines where the emphasis is.

Thinking about death can either ruin your life – or make it- and, after an evening contemplating the subject with Mark Vernon at the School of Life(!), I’ve decided that I’m going for the latter

Poetry and Prose

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Reading is, by all accounts, a dying art.

I hope not.

Pleasure aside, the great thing about literature is it proves that people have been feeling the same for years and years and years.

The context keeps changing and the form of expression may differ – but human emotions are a constant.

The Poetry and Prose tag proves my point.

It’s also nice to know that other people feel the same as you do.

“We perished, each alone”

Friday, July 17th, 2009

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;


“A quiet, sane fortnight”

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

“But careful, careful! Don’t get excited. You know what happens when you get excited and exalted, don’t you?….Yes….And then, you know how you collapse like a pricked balloon, don’t you?…Having no staying power….Yes, exactly….So, no excitement. This is going to be a quiet, sane fortnight.”

Extract from Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight

A lot of any emotion can feel a little too much.

It’s better to keep everything calm, stable and on the same level – even when the emotion’s something good like excitement.

We’ve been repressing things for years. Maybe it’s linked into civilisation coming along and writing the social rules. Or, maybe it’s just part of the human condition; an emotional version of defence.


The Curse of the Over-Analytical Mind

Friday, July 10th, 2009

An analytical mind is an asset. An over-analytical mind is a curse.

It means that you read things in to everything and tie yourself in knots trying to solve questions that can’t be solved.

Some things just are.

Some things don’t make sense.

Most people are far too complex to analyse satisfactorily.


Formative Fiction

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

The line between fact and fiction is gossamer thin; the difference, vast – but only when you look closely.

I couldn’t live without literature – but you’re likely to be disappointed if you don’t recognise the line and you don’t understand the difference.

The only problem with a childhood spent burrowing in books is that the real thing doesn’t always correspond with the written version. It doesn’t quite live up to the expectation – and you’re not necessarily prepared you for the disappointment.

Aspiring to the unobtainable is always slightly problematic.

You tend to let yourself down.

The Dark Side

Monday, June 15th, 2009

My head is tuned in to minor thirds. It resonates with clashing chords. It connects, on some fundamental and physical level, with melancholy despair, with violent lyrics.

There’s a certain type of song that sounds like my eating disorder feels; that mirrors the despair and the desperation of my anorexia; taps into the violence and anger of my bulimia; and provokes an almost physical reaction – a stunned recognition – followed by an overpowering sense of sadness and pain.

I had an epiphany on the way to work one morning. Somewhere between St Albans and Hatfield, when Amy Winehouse had reduced me to tears, I realised what my response was all about.


All Alone

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

“’We perished, each alone.’” – Virigina Woolf

Maybe isolation is so scary because it’s the closest that we get to death – while we’re still alive. Maybe it’s so horrific and terrifying because it’s the delicate difference between life – with other people – and death – when we’re on our own.


Negative Automatic Thoughts (a positive take on)

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Apparently, expecting the worst and sticking to generalisations are common negative automatic thoughts.

This makes me feel a lot better about my own negative automatic thoughts.

Therapy and cognitive theories aside, I am reassured by the fact that the thoughts have a name. It infers a commonality. It suggests that other people entertain the same ideas – and shared things are so much easier to manage than those that you’re battling alone.

It is, possibly, a little unkind to feel comforted in the knowledge that other people are also tortured by their heads –

But, it’s also easier to start changing thinking when you see the thoughts as patterns and not realities. It’s far simpler to challenge the mindset when you see it through the reflection of other people.

Getting to that point’s the harder bit – but another nice thing about a generic term is that you’ve got a handy checklist so you know what you’re looking for.

Forming Beliefs

Thursday, June 4th, 2009


I am an educated women; but I’ve still had to resort to the dictionary to really pin this one down. It says: something that somebody believes in – a statement, principle or doctorine that a person or group accepts as true”.

I hadn’t given the word a lot of consideration until recently. Belief was all about religion and ideas; it hadn’t really entered the therapeutic vocabulary.

This was quite an oversight.

Belief is right at the centre of everything. What you believe about yourself is so important that I didn’t even consider it. The link between thought and action is so obvious that I totally missed it. And had to go right back to the beginning.


The Pig Nose Story

Monday, May 25th, 2009

My pondering on perception has opened a whole can of worms.

I’ve been going round and round and round and coming back to the same conclusion: we’re all unique and we all see things a bit differently.

It’s best illustrated through marmite. You either love it or hate it. A marmite lover talking about marmite is likely to create a very different impression of the flavour sensation to that given by a marmite hater.

As I said, it’s all subjective.

And subjectivity is a precarious basis for self perception.


Fiction to Fact

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

A lesson in the precarious world of perception.

For years, I believed that my voice was way too loud. I had a whole issue about speaking too much; was convinced that the volume was a notch or two too high, that I came across as overbearing or demanding.

One day, I was told that my voice was so quiet that it could barely be heard. That, by unspoken agreement, windows were closed when I was in the room so that any other noise was blocked out.

Moral of the story: your head can get it wrong.


Adam and Eve and Self Belief

Friday, May 1st, 2009

When you reach a certain age, running around with no clothes on stops being socially acceptable.

It’s the best example that I can think of to show how we learn about the intangible things. How an emotional experience can be as tangible as a physical one.

The hot pan analogy started me thinking about how we form beliefs about things. Adam and Eve have taken it a step further. We don’t just form physical beliefs. We also form emotional ones.

And I think that it works in the same way as the burning pan scenario. We learn by reaction.