I have been prescribed some Temazepam, to help me sleep.
It sits, alongside all the other well-intended treatment, in my kitchen cupboard, whilst I toss, and turn, and wait for the panic to wear itself out–
Last night, I was painting plates.
Art wasn’t this therapeutic when I was painting feelings.
I think I might have been missing the point – or just getting too hung up on it. When you’re trying to draw the perfect tragedy, it doesn’t really work; and, if you’re doing something because it’s ‘part of the programme’, it can feel a little bit like you’re back at school –
Painting plates, however, is a whole different ball game to psychiatric ward Blue Peter or the hardcore art therapy that, along with the plastic chairs and patronisation, was hard to take seriously. It is, instead, about having fun and being creative and doing something different – which is a therapy in itself.
As a self help sceptic (reformed), the irony inherent in my blog has not been missed.
If you’d given me a web address or a self help book a few years back, I’d have turned my nose straight up.
There was a certain arrogance to my eating disorder (what would they know?) that sneered at self help (like it’s that easy) and people who claimed to “understand”; an automatic scepticism towards shop brought solutions and the hollowness of a few positive words that couldn’t possibly appreciate my pain –
I might have been wrong.
I have stayed away from mentioning my family on this blog. This is, possibly, a lingering lesson from family therapy. There is little value in throwing around recriminations and blame and hurt. Family therapy’s a good tool but it comes with a few words of caution: get a good therapist; work together; and, remember that you can only ever change yourself.
The trick to effective family therapy is in the “family”. For some reason, it can be hard for the word – and the people – to stick. In the first few attempts, we fell at this crucial hurdle; and, what began as a group affair, quickly reverted back to the therapist and me.
This kind of defeats the object, although it’s relatively easy to see where it all went wrong…
Because an eating disorder does not like to be challenged; and, because it prefers to live in shrouded denial, rather than open discussion, it took me a while to recognise the importance of a good GP.
The first few said the wrong things. The next few just didn’t get me. And the one I have now is a total godsend. It is possible to work with, rather than against, the health profession.
Whilst my eating disorder was punctuated by long GP-less spells and a general wariness of anyone whose name happened to be preceded by DR; my current GP is dispelling a lot of my assumptions; and, a more objective me is recognising just how important it is to get a little support in place, particularly when you’re playing Russian Roulette with your health –
Treatment is a subjective experience. It may be dictated by prescription – but its success is down to how it works in relation to you.
I’m sure that an official spiel for each specialism is readily available; so, to try and be a little useful in my own special way, the following section looks at the different treatments I’ve had – conventional, unconventional and things that aren’t “treatment” but seem to help – and how they’ve made a difference.
It also comes with a few very big and very painfully learnt lessons…
Honesty is paramount – if you’re not being truthful, you can’t treat the real problem.
Time heals – don’t give up if the impact’s not immediate.
I wasn’t a great fan of CBT – until I looked back at my recovery and realised that I’d been using the techniques all the way along.
The diarising and emotional detecting and practical planning have obviously been worth the effort because the moment I wobble, the positive voice kicks back in; and, whenever I take the next step, I go back to the tools and tips that have got me this far.
Unlike traditional therapy, you don’t have to keep paying out every time you need to sort a few things out. Once you’ve mastered the techniques, you’re equipped for life.
A few years ago, I would have slammed the treatment for eating disorders. I would have blamed my failed attempts at recovery on professional incompetence, medical ignorance – and the government’s failure to provide an adequate national health service.
A few years ago, I would have said that nobody could help me. When you’ve tried everything from inpatient to outpatient – via day therapy and 24 hour guard – within private, public and locked facilities; delivered by doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, specialists, hypnotherapists …well, you start to feel that all the options have been exhausted.
Today, I can say that the latter’s not true – and that I’m probably not milky white in relation to the former.
The treatment for eating disorders is not, as I’d liked to have believed, fundamentally flawed -
I didn’t really help myself.
I am not a doctor, as you may have gathered.
I am completely unqualified to advise anyone on the pros and cons of anti-depressants, or the chemical constitution of psychiatric drugs, or whether Prozac will make you better or Paroxetine screw with your head –
I just come with two pieces of advice:
Talk to your GP because everyone’s different.
If you can, make your own mind up about using medication. It’s important to feel that you’re in control of the decision and that you’re making it for the right reasons.
Inpatient units are slightly different to other forms of treatment. Chances are, if you’ve reached this point, the choices have been reduced – in which case, inpatient treatment can save your life – but, if you’re just considering options –
Inpatient treatment made me do things that I wanted to do on my own but couldn’t quite manage.
It forced me to change – in the hope that, once I’d gone through the process, the outcome would speak for itself.
Plus, it kept me alive; and, somewhat perversely, the desire not to go back had a huge impact on my recovery.
If you’re hoping for Paul McKenna style puppetry, you might be a little disappointed. Hypnotherapy didn’t re-wire my brain or miraculously uncover the ‘big reason’, as I’d kind of been hoping for.
It did, however, shake things up.
A compete re-wire was not on the cards – but some subtle re-programming helped.
Hypnotherapy may not provide all the answers – but it shows you that they’re already in there.
And it helps you to decipher the code.
You can’t beat a BT slogan: it is, most definitely, good to talk.
Being heard is equally important; being understood, a winning formula.
When you start putting things into words, you can deal with them.
When you start addressing difficult situations, you can talk through the confusion.
If you’re looking for a ‘get it off your chest’ space to say what you really think and feel – rather than what you should think and feel – then counselling’s great: but, a good counsellor is more than just a sympathetic ear; and, a good counselling section is as much about armchair detection and psychological sleuthing as it is about verbal venting.