Posts Tagged ‘things that help’

Recovery: Some of the things we talked about…

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I did a recovery vodcast earlier this week. Because my recovery was so internalised and over-analysed, I forget that there are useful things that could be said. This is a recovery dump. It’s some of the things that we talked about that I had only talked to myself about. I don’t know whether they’ll be helpful. I’ve been so aware that my recovery has been different from his recovery – which is different from her recovery – that I’d forgotten the points where experiences collide, and that the more weapons you can rally up, the better.

It is not an easy battle, nor fought on a single front…

So, in no particular order, these are some of the things that we discussed.



Sunday, June 13th, 2010

I have heard the word “intention” mentioned in three different contexts over the past few days. This can’t be coincidence. There’s clearly something I’m meant to explore. It’s another one of those occasions where I have taken a rather long and protracted route to arrive at a common psychological concept, this being we are more likely to do that which we intend to do –

And that stating it makes it real.

Self Talking

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Thanks to some intensive therapy, I am now queen of self-talk; and, whilst I don’t always feel like “being positive” or “having an internal conversation”, an article last week got me thinking about just how valuable this is.

To emphasise the point, the ‘fact’ on my shampoo bottles (shampoo: “who is the person you talk to most?” / conditioner: “yourself”) have concurred to make the message heard. This is clearly a subject that I am meant to be writing about –

Self-talking is something I now do on a regular basis. It kicks in, the moment my head kicks off – and seems to work through a few key themes:


Doing Things Differently

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I am a great believer in the value of doing something differently. With a track record of making the same mistakes, over and over again, I also know that doing things differently is, for me, incredibly and infuriatingly hard. Einstein hits the nail on the head, so I expect that I am not alone:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

What Helps?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

On Monday, I did a question and answer session with a load of health care professionals based in the East of England. There were (I think) a good mixture of nurses, GPs, psychologists, CAMHS, crisis teams, treatment centre managers…That kind of thing.

Because the week was rapidly sucked into a whirlpool and I have spent most of it trying to catch up with myself, I have only just started to process what we said; and, interestingly – although probably unsurprisingly – the question that arose in each of the groups I talked with was: “what are the things that really helped?”

I have talked, extensively, about what doesn’t help.

“I am an engineer and an artist”

Friday, April 30th, 2010

“i am an engineer and an artist. #iamnotmyweight” (@thisisMEssy)

I have favourited this tweet. It couldn’t be a more timely reminder, as I am struggling to figure out how life without an eating disorder works, that the words we use to define ourselves might help to change the positioning.

Given the name of my blog and the reason I started it (“this is the story of finding an identity and giving an eating disorder up”), you’d have thought I already appreciated this; but I have focussed so hard on what I’m giving up that I have neglected what I am finding. (more…)

Things I Like About Being Me

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Yesterday, I stumbled across a link on twitter to an article listing “30 Things I Love About Myself”, and was immediately struck by the concept.

Listing things we love about ourselves is not something we are often encouraged to do, particularly in the UK. Modesty is seen as an attribute; and pride tends to come before a fall – or so I have always believed.

Accepting that an outfit looks nice takes places after some painful to-ing and fro-ing (“do you really think so?” – “yes really” – “but doesn’t it look out of place?” – “no, not at all”); and is, more often than not, accompanied by a mental twist (“she didn’t mean that”). Whilst blowing your own trumpet typically comes with an apology (“I don’t mean to brag but…”) or a quick justification (“well, that’s what so-and-so thought”) – so that it’s acceptably said.

Liking yourself might be mistaken for arrogance – or is halted, subconsciously, before the charge can be laid; and why wait for other people to point out your weaknesses if you can get there first…

You can not, I am beginning to learn, expect others to like you if you don’t even like yourself.

The Killer Dress

Monday, April 5th, 2010

For my 30th Birthday, I brought a killer dress.

I know that taste is subjective; but there’s no other way to describe it. This dress totally rocks.

It might not be bang on trend as I couldn’t tell you what’s strutting along the catwalk and have never quite got into Vogue; but, it makes me feel a million dollars, and has reminded me of something that gets lost behind the catwalk debate and the size zero phenomenon

In my recovery, fashion and fabrics were an unexpected friend; even when I wasn’t that comfortable in my own skin.

Making Friends with Food

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I am not very good at talking about food.

Despite the amount of time I have spent obsessing on the subject, and in spite of the leaps that I have taken in the ‘right’ direction; I still find myself a little touchy around the conversations that most people have on a daily basis –

“That looks nice” is rarely awarded a response; “what are you eating?” gets a swift brush off; and, the “what food do you like?” question is shrugged off, like a bad smell.

The Yes Once Rule

Friday, March 12th, 2010

I have just said yes to something that I would normally say no to.

You have to do this rather a lot in recovery; otherwise things just stay the same.

You have to start saying “yes”, even if your head is saying “no”; because you don’t find out what you’re capable of unless you take a little risk and give something new a go.

It has taken me a while to realise this. In the absence of a Jim Carey film which manages to make the point in about 90 minutes, I didn’t automatically see the connection between my constricting life and the frequency with which I said no…

I just started feeling a little trapped.

Given that my eating disorder had a zillion rules and assumed the majority of my time, this was probably unsurprising, only –

How to make friends…

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

….is a question that I have been asking myself rather a lot recently.

Now that I’ve realised that people are preferable to an eating disorder, I’m eager to make up for lost ground and appreciating just how much we’ve got to offer each other –

Only, it’s a little harder now that I’m nearing 30 and most people seem to be settled; and, I’ve hit a few unanticipated questions – like where do I go, and what do I say? – and some overlooked assumptions – like what do I have to offer? – that have put a few barriers in my way.

Making friends is far more complicated then I remember.

Given that the last time I tried to make friends, the other 30 people in the classroom shared my sentiments, this is, perhaps, unsurprising. However, after doing lots of things that I thought I couldn’t do, and as I’ve already come this far, there’s no points in shying away from a challenge – and this is what I’ve started to learn:

1. Being my own friend

Art as Therapy

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

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.

The Self Help Sceptic

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

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.

The Importance of a Good GP

Monday, January 4th, 2010

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 –

Handmade Cards

Friday, December 18th, 2009

One Christmas in hospital, handmade cards were my salvation.

With time on my hands and a head that wouldn’t behave, having a clear focus was a godsend.

After months of food and failure and going round in circles, a tangible product was just what the doctor had ordered; and, being able to give something – rather than always being on the receiving end – was a pleasant change.

Mastering the art of a good nights sleep….

Friday, December 4th, 2009

I find the fundamentals quite hard.

The Times Killer Su Du Ku is far easier to master than the ‘simple things’ like a good night’s sleep.

It is not, unfortunately, quite so important in the grand scale of things (a sleepless night is never a great start to the day); but, it does, at least, divert your attention from the swirling whirling thoughts…

Which is one of my main sleep blockers.

Five Good Things

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I am not great at positive affirmations and platitudes. I’ll do them – spontaneously and under a different name – but I find forced sentimentality a little nauseating…

Which is why my next strategy may come as a bit of a surprise!

‘Five Good Things’ is my version of the ‘things that I am grateful for today’ concept. I have used it at various stages in my illness, my recovery, and in those horrible periods when life seemed pretty bleak and it was hard to see the point.

Interestingly – and unintentionally – it also proved a great way of falling asleep at night; particularly during times when my head refused to be quiet or the emptiness of going to bed with a mind full of miserable thoughts was just too much to bear.

Now, it’s good for days when I have that nagging sense of dissatisfaction, or when I get caught up in the hype and forget that it’s the little things that really make the difference –

Because ‘Five Good Things’ is really simple and all about recognising the brief moments of specialness – so that they become a lot bigger.

A Good Dentist…

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

I don’t have much of my real teeth left.

If you’ve got bulimia, get yourself a good dentist – there’s stuff that they can do.

Either / Or and If / Then

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

The recession has taught us some important lessons: actions come with costs and consequences; and, resources are finite – sometimes you have to make a choice.

I wish that I’d applied the logic a little earlier.

In an age of instant and ongoing gratification and when you’re used to living for the moment, either / or tends to be an afterthought; the consequences of any action too distant to consider –

– until it all comes crashing down.

Getting Better

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

I have wasted a lot of time searching for a magic cure for eating disorders.

If this existed, I’m sure that a scientist or doctor would have already made the breakthrough.

There is no one-fix-wonder for anorexia-bulimia; no magic pill to change your head overnight and make it better; no one size fits all answer to explain why it happens and how to make it stop happening.

There’s just lots of different and difficult ways of recovering.

It’s simply a case of finding what works for you.

Unspeakable to spoken

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

There are strict rules of etiquette around what you do and what you don’t talk about; socially acceptable themes of conversation – and those that should be kept behind closed doors or under a stiff upper lip.

We’re scared of giving too much away, of putting ourselves in the firing line of judgement or criticism or idle chitchat – self-editing’s an easy habit to slip in to.

Most people aren’t that bad. Most people appreciate a little honesty. Most people are willing to listen –

- if you’re able to talk.


The Art of Positive Thinking

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I am, by nature, a glass half empty person. If I think the worst, I’m tempting fate; if I’m quietly confident, then catastrophe is inevitable.

Or that’s what it feels like sometimes.

Fortunately, positive thinking can be acquired.

Like any bad habit, you can re-wire your head if you practice something enough.


The Proof is in the Pudding

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

I couldn’t resist. I know the subject (re-learning how to start eating normally) is serious but I’d rather lighten the tone, ease the tension a little.

And it’s not just an empty pun. It’s exactly what I had to do. Prove that food isn’t what the eating disorder said it was, start building up a little evidence, find a little ammunition to challenge 17 years of negative associations.

Mind Games

Friday, June 19th, 2009

It’s hard to muster up the enthusiasm to get stuck into therapy exercises.  They can reek of chat show sentimentalism, are often suggested by people who have no idea what they are talking about, and – to top it off – rarely come with a time limit or guarantee.

Nevertheless; when you’ve sunk to the depths of despair, anything’s worth a go.

And there are a few things I wish I’d tried before hitting the bottom.