Over the past couple of weeks I’ve tried to be more mindful (bear with me), and consciously think about how I feel at certain times, what’s going on around me, the circumstances and any other influences. Not as cheesy as it sounds, trust me. It’s actually really helped me, much to my surprise. As my therapist observed – I’m not a very tolerant person – particularly when it comes to the ED and depression, so I made it my mission to get the bottom of why I’m still stuck in this cycle and the things keeping me there. These are the things my eyes have been open to and the starting points for my onwards and upwards. If I could change anything – this is where I want to start:
- I’m way too hard on Harvey. I’ll be the first to admit I’m strict when it comes to Harvey’s behaviour. I have to be. Its me against him, and I can assure you he will fight for longer than I could ever keep up with. He’s stubborn, I’m stubborn. Neither of us like backing down. We argue, a lot, over everything (we also laugh a lot too). From who’s going to brush Harvey’s teeth (my argument is they’re his, his argument, he’s mine – told you he was smart). Sometimes though, I forget, he’s still a baby, he’s still learning how the world works, he’s still learning about himself, he needs support and nurturing, he needs love and affection even when he’s made mistakes or is learning how to effectively process his emotions (because that’s all it is) and this is something I wish I embraced more about him. In the hold of depression and distracting thoughts, it’s all too easy to snap at him for silly things, and I do. Then I beat myself up about it and feel like the worst Mummy in the world. He is an amazing little boy and anyone that is able to put up with me on a day to day basis; let alone understand me, love me unconditionally and go to the ends of the earth to make me happy even when I’m a grump, deserves a huge medal, at the very least.
- The number on the scales – is absolutely irrelevant! Does it mean I’ll stop weighing myself? No, probably not. Not today. But this awareness could be the building block for being able to smash the scales one day (I’d get an awful lot of satisfaction the day I can take a mallet to them). Obviously, the number on the scales does influence how I feel about myself and my mood but it’s mild compared to other physical feelings and emotions. If I have it set in my mind that I’m going to restrict or binge/purge because I don’t feel good about me and I can’t shake that thought for whatever reason, no amount of weight loss or gain or any number will change that. It’s very, very rare that the number alone has solely influenced that mindset.
- One physical feeling I absolutely can not cope with is the feeling of bloating and being full. But as we all know, that feeling doesn’t set in immediately as you’re eating – it tends to hit a few minutes after you finish. Which is why I struggle so much with main meals. You eat your meal – feel fine about it, then, out of nowhere… Pow! Hi Bloat! Then purging is the only option (it’s not, I know, but that’s how it plays out in my head). Its more than likely exacerbated at the minute due to the restriction and binge/purges and it’s something I will need to ‘ride out’ in order for it to get better, but for now, I’m trying to learn how much I can have in one sitting before, not being able to deal with the full feeling. To give you a bit of scope, one evening last week I had a Prawn Linguine healthy living type, ~350kCal ready meal (after a really successful day of eating and mindset, but a good 2.5hours after my satsuma snack), it took me about 15-20 minutes to eat it, half an hour later and the fullness was unbearable. There’s no quick fix for this, I know, it’s going to be a case of trial and error and gritting my teeth a bearing it.
- Distraction is going to be my saving grace and follows on perfectly from my last point! When I do manage to distract myself successfully from any kind of negative thoughts, feelings or even while I’m actually eating, it sets the scene for the rest of the day. It’s not easy though. Sometimes, I’m so engulfed by the ED or depression, doing something else or having the motivation to actually start a distraction task is non existent and I stand absolutely no chance – or at least that’s how it feels. At other times, I can distract for so long before I can’t keep from thinking or feeling whatever it was I was trying to escape. I’m hoping this is something that will get easier the more I do it.
- Tiredness, boredom, anxiety, anger and stress are my worst enemies! No, seriously, I know everyone isn’t a fan of the mentioned emotions but they are my biggest ‘triggers’ second to the Bloat. The ED kinda serves as a very ineffective coping mechanism. Anger, stress – take it out on myself by restricting or binging and purging – it’s distraction from whatever has made me mad and a way of calming down (there’s definitely easier, nicer, more body friendly ways to chillout and destress, and I would not recommend this as one). Over the years it’s just an adapted way of coping for me, when I’ve had limited other mechanisms. When I’m overtired or bored or anxious (I’m sure everyone can relate to this), it’s hard to concentrate, focus, find motivation and physically do things for yourself. In these circumstances having the energy and drive to distract myself or power through, is very limited. Tiredness being the biggie – if I’m not tired, I’m rarely bored as I have the buzz in me to do or focus on something, I deal with anxiety better and I’m more motivated. Insomnia doesn’t help this situation though, so not too sure where to start to conquer this?! Excuse for naps maybe 😉
- A day off, switched off from the world and a bit of self care can make an absolute world of difference. Harvey has spent the past couple of days with his Nanny Dawn and I didn’t actually realise how burnt out I was until I stopped and had a solid 48 hours to myself, with no one else to think about and nothing else to do from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed. I put all the house work and anything else that needed doing on hold and spent a solid day resting. I caught up on my trashy TV programmes (we all have a guilty pleasure, no?), had a long, hot bubble bath, painted my toe nails, put a face mask on, put treatment in my hair, had a nap, burnt a candle and simply just put my feet up (didn’t have much choice as my legs were beat but, still). It’s done me heaps of good. Mentally and physically. This is the most optimistic I’ve felt in an awful long time, my body isn’t in so much pain and I actually feel refreshed. We all need that bit of down time to recharge and recuperate every now and again and I’d massively misjudged its importance and need.
- I am such an over-thinker. If you hadn’t already gathered that from the rest of this post!! I’m always thinking about the if, buts and maybes, rather than trusting the journey. I scrutinise every teeny, tiny decision I make, conversation I have had and anything I do. It has it pluses – I reflect, a lot. If something goes tits up, my cogs turn and I will think, re-think, re-live and play out in my mind a million different other ways it could have happened and (in theory) learn from it (in reality, not always the case). But there’s also times when overthinking and reflecting on every single, little, detail is not beneficial – like, maybe 24/7?! I need to put more faith in myself, I’m working on this one.
- Calorie counting is ridiculous. All it does is fuel the obsessive thinking, increases the guilt for eating ‘too much’ and allows the ED to stay in control. I needn’t say much more on the subject… It really is as simple as that! Calories aren’t the be all and end all. The nutritional quality ie. the vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates etc. from a food is so much more than the calories it contains. An avocado vs. a bar of dairy milk – roughly the same amount of calories but ones going to be loads more beneficial and nutritious than the other. The dietitian inside me is screaming at the irrational me. This is a war I face, in my mind, every. single. day. and it’s not necessary!
- I need to stop always being in a rush, live in the moment more and take my time! There was a day last week, I don’t really know why it was the way it was and why it was different to any other day – but it was, where I just ambled, without a care in the world, through the day, through meal times, I got things done and I was so on top of my game. This made a HUGE difference to my mood that day. Usually I’m always rushing, even if I’ve done nothing all day, had a week to prepare and 6 months notice, I’ll still be rushing about 5 minutes after I need to be somewhere. It’s taken me 25 years to realise that not racing around like a headless chicken, being organised and prepared ahead of time, especially with food (all our breakfast things and snacks for the day are laid out ready) removes an insane amount of stress and anxiety and generally makes the day more relaxed, particularly at mealtimes.
- Sometimes I just have to let it all out. There’s no quick fix, I can’t make things better at the wave of a wand (1. I don’t have a wand and 2. I stopped believing in Magic when I found out Santa was my Mum) but there’s definitely some truth in the saying “a problem shared, is a problem halved”. When I speak about ‘letting it all out’ I don’t mean balling my eyes out on the shoulder of a friend but literally just getting all things negative off my chest so my mind is a bit clearer. When its ‘out’, I don’t know about you but, I think about it from a much more level headed perspective and can rationalise a bit better. Sometimes I write in my journal, sometimes I’ll speak to family or friends, sometimes I talk to myself (or the hamster – he’s a really good listener, I’ll have you know), I might post something positive or as a bit of a motivation on my Instagram or go hard on the cleaning, with a bit of music on and displace all things negative and intrusive.
- ‘Riding the wave’ is so much more than just sitting back and letting it happen. It does require some action. Feelings and intrusive thoughts don’t pass if I’m sat there waiting for them to pass. I’ve realised I need to actually be pro-active and help the process along a bit. If I’m not and I just will them to pass, they probably would eventually, but all it does in the moment is make me more aware of that particular thought or feeling, think more obsessively and be more critical and negative. Which, for obvious reasons, doesn’t help the situation!
- Routine and Structure are essential. Kinda goes back to the point I made about always rushing. Recently I have had no routine and my days have fallen to a million pieces! Mealtime structure and knowing when and what is coming is definitely going to be a big key to my recovery. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be like a robot and 12:30 on the dot I must drop everything to sit and have lunch. More like at some point between 12 and 1 it will be lunch time and I’m going to sit at the table with Harvey and eat this, that and the other. I’m a bit of a perfectionist too so I like everything to be on form and tick along nicely. I crave routine in my life!
So, there you have it. My realisations of the past couple weeks (feel free to quote me back to me if there’s ever a need for it)!