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Exercise

I’ve always told myself that I love exercise, and I do, it’s a great outlet, but I also think I’ve been in denial about it for a long time as well. I still feel the pressure to go to the gym a certain number of times a week, and often find myself dreading it for the whole afternoon because I’m tired and I’ve got a shit tonne of other stuff I need to do.

I recently downloaded a 10k training app which requires you to train 3 times a week. I’ve done 2 this week, but I’m going home this weekend and so won’t get chance to train on Saturday or Sunday. So I was planning on going for a run tonight, and its the longest one yet. I got home after a long day, I was starving, I felt tired and I just wanted to have a chill before heading to the train station, but I felt this pressure to go for a run. I feel this same pressure on a regular basis, and I don’t want that in my life anymore.

So I’ve decided that from hereon out, when I go to the gym or go for a run I do it for me. Not because I ‘should’. Not because I haven’t been in a few days. Because I want to. I don’t want to feel tired, dragging myself out, pushing myself to the limit and to the point where I simply don’t enjoy it. I want to enjoy exercise and the way it makes me feel. If that means my stamina goes down, so be it. If that means I gain a few more pounds, so be it. I don’t need it fuelling my anxiety anymore.

The most important thing in life is to do what’s right for you and what makes you happy. End of.

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Dwelling On The Past

Yesterday I caught myself scrolling through my personal Instagram looking at old photos of myself prior to recovery, wishing I looked like that again. I found self pining for that size 4/ 6 body, that thigh gap, those stick-like arms, that flat stomach. That body in which I wouldn’t have to worry about squeezing into clothes, or whether an outfit wouldn’t be flattering because it would show my tummy or accentuate my legs. At that point I was confident in my body, but the fear of weight gain ruled my life. I was miserable to put it simply. I was in a low, lonely place, where each day was a struggle and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. I had no ambition, all I could focus on was getting through each day.

I’m never going back there.

As soon as I realised how deranged my thinking was, I stopped and reassessed. Does being skinny make you a better person? No. Does being skinny make you more worthy of love and respect? No. Does starving yourself allow you to enjoy life? No. Does starving yourself make you an isolated person with no energy to do anything? Yes. Does starving yourself make your brain shut down to the extent that you can’t think straight? Yes.

I’m never going back there.

There are days when my body feels like it’s taking up a lot of space. I’m bigger than a lot of people I know now, and it’s been hard adjusting to the fact that I’m no longer the smallest person in the room, but my God has recovery been worth it. I’ve come to terms with my new, or should I say my real body, and so I was surprised to find myself trawling through old photos. But thinking back to that time has also reinforced my determination to continue to look after myself and live life to the full. I want to continue honouring the body I destroyed for so many years, the naturally curvy body that I was born with. This is me. No apologies.

Comparisons

I had a little blip a couple of days ago, so I thought I’d share it with you.

My mum and sister had come down to visit and we had the most wonderful night of laughter, good food and lots of drink! The next day I was hungover. I had that feeling of emptiness I get when I’ve had a heavy night of drinking the night before, that no amount of food can seem to satisfy. I don’t know if anyone else gets that? Anyway, I basically spent the day grazing on copious amounts of food and woke up the next day feeling awful. I felt guilty and ashamed that I hadn’t been able to resist the temptation to feed the hangover. And for the first time in a while, I felt ugly and fat. I began to doubt all the positive steps I’ve taken, and to fantasise about the skinny body I used to have.

I began looking around at other people, comparing myself to them, and wishing I looked different.

But then I took a step back and reconsidered. Everyone has their own story. You can’t compare yourself to other people, because we all have such different lives and we’ve all faced different struggles. It also follows that you can’t judge a person based only on their appearance. You have no idea what’s going on in their lives. And if people do judge you on the way you look, their opinion is certainly not one to care about.

I’m still learning to be confident in my skin. To love my new body. To listen to it, and to respect it. But I sure as hell won’t be comparing it to anybody else. We’re each our own person, and that what makes the world such a beautifully diverse place.

Don’t let what surrounds you change the way you feel about yourself. Love yourself just the way you are.

Medication

I just wanted to write a quick post about medication. There’s such a stigma that surrounds mental health medication and I really don’t know why? If you were diabetic, you wouldn’t hesitate to take insulin. If you had epilepsy, you wouldn’t hesitate to take an anti convulsant. If you had chronic pain, you wouldn’t hesitate to to take painkillers. So if you have a mental health problem, why should it be frowned upon to take medication?

Starting on fluoxetine was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m not saying that alone pulled me from the depths of my depression, but it certainly made a big difference. I felt like I was drowning, and after a few weeks on the medication I felt as though my head was above water. I was still being pulled by the current, but I could breathe again, I could think more clearly and see things more rationally. And now I’m in a good place, a place I never dreamed I would get to, I feel this is the right time to try going it alone.

I’m not finding it too difficult actually. I was expecting mood swings, anxiety, headaches etc, etc, but I’m doing ok. I am, however, having extremely vivid dreams, and they’re not nice dreams either. It’s strange because not long ago I couldn’t sleep. I’d wake up numerous times in the night, drifting in and out, my mind whirring with worry. I genuinely hadn’t had a good nights sleep in over a year. And now I’m sleeping deeply, so deeply that I’m disorientated when my alarm goes off in the morning, confused as to where I am because I’m so caught up in my dream. I can remember what I’ve been dreaming about only for the first few minutes when I wake up, I couldn’t tell you now what I was dreaming about last night, but what I can tell you is that it’s always distressing. When I wake up and realise I’ve been dreaming I’m relieved. And although I’ve slept through the night, I don’t feel particularly rested because I can tell I’ve been stressed. I’m hoping that’ll start to wear off in a couple of weeks as my body readjusts. Fingers crossed!

But all in all, I just want to say that medication is often an integral part of recovery and shouldn’t be deemed as a weakness or failure. It shows courage, and a real desire to get better. I’ve had an extremely positive experience all in all.

It’s Been a While

Hi everyone, sorry I’ve not posted in a while! I love writing on this blog, it helps me offload and share what I’m going through with those of you that read it. It also hopefully allow some of you see that you’re not alone. But recently I’ve been living life to the full with barely a minute to spare. I’ve been working hard, but also taking the time to do the things I enjoy most. I’ve been on holiday, I’ve been to parties, I’ve been spending time with my boyfriend, I’ve started singing in a band, I’ve been LIVING. Recovery has allowed me to do the things I enjoy again. It’s allowed me to find a purpose in life again.

Since my last post I’ve been on a long weekend away to Geneva with my housemates, as one of them lives there. A weekend full of pastries, ice cream, cheese, wine, swimming, dancing, and laughter. What a special memory. I’ve been able to spend numerous weekends cooking and ‘pigging out’ with my boyfriend without being snappy and difficult. I’ve been to the pub on weekends, and I’ve been to every house party and night out going. These are all things I’d never have had the energy to do. These are all things I’d have missed to sit in my room, alone, and binge after a week of hardly eating. Things as simple as eating three meals a day which now don’t even cross my mind used to be a struggle. So fuck you anorexia, we’re well and truly over.

In terms of food, it doesn’t occupy every corner of my mind anymore. I’m eating when I’m hungry, and I’m eating what I want regardless of calories. Maybe I’m eating a little too much at times, but that’s ok. I’m listening to my body, and the past couple of months it’s been wanting what are classically deemed as ‘unhealthy’ foods, but that’s natural after years of restricting. I’ve put on weight… So I’ve bought new clothes. I’m just letting my body have what it needs and I know things will settle down with time. Yes it’s important to think about what you eat and try to live healthily, but right now the healthiest thing for me is just eating what my body tells me it needs, and blocking out the disordered voices that tell me I can’t.

The fact that I’m nourishing my body also means that I can actually enjoy going to the gym now. I can use it as my time to get away from everything, and focus on everything my body can do. Allowing myself to work with my body, to listen to it, and not to fight against it, pushing it to the extremes. I can explore everything my new body can do, the new way that it moves and feels.

I’m also reducing my dose of fluoxetine with the aim of coming off of it, and I’m working my relapse prevention plan with my therapist with the aim of discharge very soon. That’s not to say things will definitely go smoothly, and their door is always open for me to come back, but right now I feel like I’m ready to leave that chapter of my life. I don’t know if it will ever completely go away, I’ve lost years of my life to this disorder, and I’ve been taken to some dark places, but that’s what’s brought me to where I am today. What I’ve been through will always stay with me, but now I want to start making step towards helping other people who’re stuck in the depths of that place, feeling as lost and helpless as I was, and try to show them that there is a way out. I want to use my experiences to help others, and to see perceptions changing. Here’s to a future of acceptance and love.

 

Epiphany

I’ve know it for a long time, but today in therapy I had an epiphany and I really think I’ve seen the light.

I was feeling miserable after about 2 weeks of heavy binging, and I’d put on 1kg, so I was feeling awful. Although I’ve stopped restricting the way I used to, I still consciously hold back and often don’t fill myself up at mealtimes, leaving me with unfulfilled cravings leading to a binge. Out of control, eating without really wanting to, until I’m in pain. My body and mind are used to filling up this way because they’ve been deprived for so long and they know it’s back to restricting the next day. But I don’t restrict as much any more, yet my head still seems to be working in the same way, hence the intense self hatred in recent weeks.

I woke up this morning after another binge feeling terrible, feeling like I didn’t want to get up and face the day, a feeling that is all too familiar. But after some serious reflection I’ve realised what I need to do, and it’s quite simple. Eat substantial meals that satisfy me.  Snack when I’m hungry. Stop labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Nourish my body and enjoy every mouthful of food without worry about calories. Let go of all the rules. Allow my weight to fluctuate. Some weeks I’ll have lots of social events or a weekend away centred around good food and drink, but then I’ll have other weeks where I go to the gym and eat a little less. Just eat without deliberating about every for choice, eat something because that’s what I feel like eating, listen to my body, and food will cease to be the enemy which occupies all my thoughts.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Love yourself. Be confident in your body. You are beautiful.

Conflicting Feelings

I love my new life. I love my newfound freedom. And I fucking love being able to indulge in and enjoy food, like seriously, so good. But I’m struggling to love my new body. The new way it moves, the new way it feels when I walk around or when I’m sitting down. I’m trying, I really am, and some days I really do feel at peace with it, but today has been a struggle.

I’ve injured my ankle, so I can’t do any high impact activity, which I’m struggling with. I usually go to the gym/ running at least 3 if not 4 times a week, and I haven’t been able to do any cardio for 2 weeks now. And that’s ok, it really is, it’s just a big change for me. Today I decided to go to the gym just to do some weights and get out for a bit, and what I was seeing in the mirror just didn’t look like me. The weight gain is obvious now. I’m not skinny anymore. And I feel like I’m losing my identity.

This is a topic we were covering in therapy last week. My homework was to make a list of the benefits of changing and the disadvantages of changing, and the first thing I wrote was ‘loss of identity’. Not only had that appearance become part of who I was, but the constrictive way of living, following rules and feeling in control (despite being completely miserable) had become a safety blanket I relied on as part of every day life. When my therapist asked me who I was other than my eating disorder and being a medical student, there was nothing I could think to say. And it just hit me how sad it is that this has ruled my life for so long. That I can’t identify as anything else. I don’t know what I like or how to define myself. And that was the first time I’ve cried in therapy. I’m known to a lot of my friends and family as a closed book. I rarely show my emotions and I never opened up to anyone prior to starting on the road to recovery, a major skill this journey has taught me, although I still find it difficult.

So today, when I was looking at myself in the mirror (which I tend to avoid these days), I hardly recognised the woman that stood before me. The weekend I’ve just spent back home filled with meals out, lots of drinking, and lots of drunk food, suddenly turned into regret (when it’s actually been an amazing weekend celebrating my sister’s birthday). The awesome weekend I have ahead of me in Geneva with my housemates, which will be filled with good food, drinks and laughter suddenly made me feel anxious. The thought of wearing a bikini in public filled me with dread and shame. And for the first time in a long time, that familiar feeling of self hatred began take over.

But then I got home, made a banging cheese omelette, had dinner with my housemates, arranged to go out for dinner with my Dad tomorrow, and realised how wrong I had been. It’s so easy to get caught up in these thoughts, but more and more I’m finding I can bring myself back to reality. I see now that I am so much more than a body. I am still worthy with belly rolls and touching thighs. I’m living.

So to anyone reading this who is questioning their decision to fight back for ownership over their life, for for freedom from the constraints of an eating disorder, or any mental illness for that matter, have faith that you made the right decision. Take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come and what you’ve been able to achieve. You are more than your body. You are beautiful. You are worthy.

Acceptance

I think I’ve finally made peace with myself.

The realisation has just hit me out of nowhere.

Yes I have bad days, but most often my mind is free from the oppressive chain of worry. Free from the persistent negative thoughts that would incessently whirl around in my overactive mind. Free from constant self criticism, continually searching for ways to improve myself rather than being able to live in the moment and appreciate everything I have.

I don’t care what people think of me anymore. I don’t care what people think about the decisions I make. I don’t care what people think of the way I look. I certainly don’t care if people think I looked better when I was skinny, because my God I feel so much better.

I can concentrate. I have energy. I don’t feel weak and faint. I want to socialise rather than lock myself away. I’m not cold all the time. I can sleep. I’m less anxious. My mood is better. I’M ALIVE AGAIN.

And not only that, but I’m actually starting to like my body again. I’m beginning to not only accept, but appreciate the rolls and bulges that have emerged over the past few months. I’m starting to like my jiggle and the extra junk in my trunk. My wobbly thighs and podgy tummy remind me of all the good times I’ve had eating and drinking without a care in the world. They remind me of smiles and laughter. They’re a strength not a weakness, and I intent to continue growing in more ways than one!

 

Perspective

I’ve been working in a local GP practice for the past 3 weeks, and it’s been such an eye opening experience that I wanted to write a post about it.

To start with, the area I’m working in is extremely multi-cultural, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many different people from so many different backgrounds and ethnicities. Today I had a lovely chat with a Polish lady, through an interpreter, who’d given birth to the most beautiful baby boy only 12 days ago. Last week the sweetest elderly lady, who’s originally from Iraq, brought me a parcel of the most delicious home baked kleicha, something I’d never even heard of, never mind tasted before. Yesterday I went on a home visit to see an elderly lady, originally from Ireland, and heard her stories about growing up in Cork as one of eight siblings. The list goes on, and it reminds me that there are so many different cultures that surround us every day that we’re often so blind to. Taking the time to learn about how other people live, and in some cases being able to incorporate certain aspects of that into your life, is so important. So many people, including me, are often so caught up in their own world that it’s easy to forget what a huge world the live in, and how much there is to explore and learn.

This is also a deprived area. People struggle day to day with things many of us take for granted. Going on home visits and seeing how people make the best of what little they have, living in areas of violence and crime with so few resources. I can now see just how privileged I’ve been. Yes I’ve had a rough time over the year. Yes my family has struggled for money at times. Yes I’ve struggled with my mental health. But I’ve been blessed with a roof over my head and a meal on the table every day of my life. I’ve been blessed with a family that would do anything for me. I’ve felt loved and cared for. I’ve been supported. I’ve had what so many people could only dream of.

The GP I’m working most closely with set up a running club 5 weeks ago, following the couch to 5k programme. She’s big into running and 5k is a doddle for her, but she set it up for her patients. For her patient with anxiety, depression and chronic pain, who struggle to get out of the house most days. For her patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, you name it. And tonight she invited me to join them, and I’m so glad that I did. I took up the front with the members who like to run, and buddied up with Ramu, motivating each along the way. Some of the members just walk, and that’s ok too, because for some of them that’s the only time they’ll leave the house that week. The powerful sense of community and friendship between a group of people who 5 weeks ago didn’t know each other was actually quite moving. I can’t wait to go back next week.

So tonight I’ve come home, made a banging dinner (a Linda McCartney pulled pork 1/4 lb burger with a brioche bun and BBQ sauce, and a huge fresh salad), put my feet up and just taken the time to reflect on just how lucky I am, and everything I have to grateful for.

Try it, just take a step back for 5 minutes and appreciate everything and everyone you have…

Social Media

Social media has received a lot of bad press recently, and rightly so in many cases. Cyber bullying is a big problem, and sometimes it seems that there’s no escape from the constant stream of other people’s lives, which in the vast majority of cases are a distorted version of reality, leaving many people feeling that their lives aren’t worthy. But I actually want to write a post about the positive effect social media has had on my life in recent months.

Social media should be about surrounding yourself with content that makes you feel good. Delete all the shit that makes you feel small, unimportant and unworthy. For me that was fashion pages, airbrushed models, exercise fanatics and diet promoters. Whatever it is for you, just get rid of it.

At the beginning of the year I discovered the amazing body positivity community on instagram, and it has genuinely changed my outlook on life. Inspiring doesn’t even begin to describe the vast expanse of amazing people, sharing amazing stories on this platform. The eating disorder recovery community is equally incredible. People openly working through their illnesses, their ups and downs, but mostly their success in achieving happiness and peace. Now I know that I’m not alone. Now I can see just how many people have beat this, giving me the knowledge that I can do the same. Now whenever I’m feeling down, I know that as soon as I’ve read a few posts from the incredible people I follow I’ll feel so much better. Thank you to each and every one of you.

There are too many accounts for me to list all of those that have helped me along the way, but I just though I’d put a handful on here for anyone who could do with a daily boost of positivity.

Body positivity:

bodyposipanda

omgkenziee

nourishandeat

_kelly’s

_selfloveclub_

positively.kate

iskra

perfectly_acacia

Eating disorder recovery:

recover4freedom

sundaesforthesoal

lottie.loving.life

icecream_queen

frombones2bold