The problem with “real recovery”

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And we’re back with an eating disorder recovery related post and that is the issue of real recovery. I’ve been in the community on YouTube and the gram for many many years now and yes as a young influential gen z I did #realrecovery in my posts. But now I’m older and wiser and believe the message of real recovery is slightly problematic.

Back in the day it was associated with a minnie maud style, 3000+ calories a day, no exercise recovery. Yes that is probably the most ideal recovery when it comes to putting weight on fast in recovery from anorexia and maybe even for your mental state. Now I find it associated with going “all in”.

But other than the fact that “going all in” isn’t appropriate for all eating disorders or all eating disorder patients as it may cause refeeding syndrome or increasing urges to binge the term real recovery is problematic as it insinuates to many eating disorder patients that there recovery is only worth it if they’re never giving into thoughts, eating to their cravings and hunger ques and not using compensatory behaviours. Considering how perfectionistic anorexia sufferers in particular are this is even more problematic as they are likely to want the perfect recovery and the eating disorder may convince them that it’s all or nothing.

If you give into a behaviour your a failure. Your recovery isn’t real and so why should you bother.

The reality is every recovery is real recovery. Even if you do slip, you do act on thoughts and use behaviours. It’s still recovery, as long as you recognise what your doing and make a real effort to try and change it.

Of course the ideal of recovery is to never use behaviours, but that’s not realistic.

Recovery has ups and downs and often a lifelong process. Often when you recover from an eating disorder the thoughts will become less and less but they’ll always be there in the back of your mind and you’ll always have to keep check on them.

Sometimes you’ll be doing great, sometimes you slip.

Slipping or not making as much progress as other people in the community doesn’t mean your recovery is less real!

Recovery is not linear, not the same for everyone and does not have to be all positive!

It’s okay to gain weight in isolation

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I’ve seen many a meme about weight gain in isolation. Which although funny and I relate really isn’t okay. Why?

Because these memes make it seem as though weight gain is something undesirable during this time and can be triggering for people recovering from eating disorders such as myself. We’re already in an unprecedented situation which is quite stressful for many people, this in itself can make it much harder for people in recovery from eating disorders to maintain that recovery. Memes, jokes and TikToks about the weight we’re all going to gain in this time simply isn’t helpful and may be enough to tip someone over the edge.

So I thought I’d pop in here and say that it is okay to gain weight during this time. Partly to reassure myself but also to reassure others.

We are going through a collective trauma. It’s only natural to eat more. Eat more “junk food” I hate that term, all food is good food in moderation. And we may be unable to eat as much fresh food as we would like. So yes, when combined with a reduced activity level due to gyms being closed and a lack of motivation/energy because we’re going through a collective trauma we may gain weight during this time.

But that’s okay. We are not defined by our weight. When was the last time you chose your friends based on their weight?

Hopefully never. We are worth so much more than our outward appearance.

From a health perspective yes being obese can give rise to health complications. But our bodies all have a set point, and you are unlikely to go much above that during this time. Furthermore, any weight you have gained is likely to naturally come off once this is all over.

From a health perspective, giving into restrictive eating disorder tendencies is going to be more damaging. Studies have consistently shown that being underweight is more damaging than being slightly overweight and coping mechanisms such as purging can actually be really dangerous and affect your electrolyte levels as well as risk damaging your esophegous and teeth.

It is okay to gain weight. It is okay to stick to your meal plan even if you think your less active and don’t need it. It is okay to eat what you want. There is nothing wrong with that chocolate, those biscuits or those crisps.

All food is good food and you deserve to eat it. Be kind to yourself. Just getting through the day is enough.

 

Mental health in the workplace

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Maybe this isn’t the best time for this blog considering the majority of the world is either not working or working from home but I feel like the same points still stand. And if anything not working/working from home can bring up more anxiety, and I predict even more so when the time comes to go back into the office.

A workplace environment can bring up a lot of anxiety, and resulting depression. It may also lead to eating disorder tendencies coming back due to anxieties about eating in front of people, not having sufficient breaks or not being able to eat the same food.

I know my mental health is often associated around the workplace. Be it thinking no one likes me or thinking I’m not good enough. I’ve also found myself getting anxious over how often I get up from my desk in the office environment. Especially in the office I’m in right now, where my job does not require me to get up to go to the printer on a regular basis.

I find as a perfectionist, the pressure gives me a lot of anxiety. The pressure to be perfect. Which is hard when I have chronic illnesses that make being perfect impossible.

If you find your job is negatively impacting your mental health remember it’s okay. Especially if transitioning to a new role. Take time for self care, take time for hobbies.

Try and find the positives.

Many workplaces also now have mental health first aiders if you find yourself in a crisis at work.

Remember to open up to others. Don’t bottle it up. You’ll likely be surprised to find that other people have been through similar things. We all have mental health and although we won’t all experience a clinically diagnosable mental illness in our lifetime, everyone will experience certain lows and a level of anxiety. Also sharing a problem really helps, bottling it up only makes it worse. If you have no one to share with 7Cupsoftea is a good website for this!

Don’t stress about what you can’t control. I know many people have been and are still worried about their job security during this pandemic. You can’t control that. So try not let it eat you away. By all means come up with a plan but don’t catastrophise.

It’s okay to get help. By this I mean professional help. If you feel you would benefit from therapy or medication then that’s okay. You do you. Do whatever helps you. (Providing it is safe, non-destructive and isn’t going to harm you or anyone else)

Finally, don’t beat yourself up. Your not weak. Your not pathetic. Your not melodramatic. Your human. Beating yourself up is only going to make your mental health worse.

Stay safe everyone. Look after your physical and mental wellbeing and I’ll see you in my next blog.

 

Eating disorders are more than the stereotype often reinforced during this week.

It’s eating disorder awareness week,  and having suffered from an eating disorder myself I always like to acknowledge it in some way.  To be honest this year inspiration is running thin. What with my current job destroying my mental health and meaning those eating disordered thoughts are creeping back in and this ME flare up which is relentless could god forbid I could just phone up and call in sick when I’m still climbing. That internalised guilt is real as well as internalised ableism.

Anywho on with the post!

I’ve been in the eating disorder recovery community for years, own recovery My own recovery starting in the summer/autumn of 2013. I’ve been through many a EDAW and had to deal with those before and after pictures. Before I knew better, I may have even participated in this trend myself.

But I feel as though these pictures, this type of awareness misses the point. It caters to the middle class white skeletal female version of what an eating disorder is. It caters to and perpetuates the stereotype which is not at all relatable or a representative depiction of eating disorders  as a whole.

This image and reinforcement ignores the fact that anorexia isn’t the only eating disorder, as well as that anyone can get an eating disorder. Anyone of any race, size, socio-economic background.

Most dangerously these pictures continue the misconception that an eating disorder is just about weight. This is damaging on all counts but most importantly on the likelihood of and the success of treatment for the disorder. I know myself, only a tiny part of my eating disorder journey was spent underweight and less of that was spent emaciated. I did have anorexia and further through my recovery compulsive exercise and orthorexia but this isn’t the case for the majority of eating disorder sufferers. Many more have bulimia, binge eating disorder or OSFED who may never become underweight or may be overweight. This misconception is also damaging for those who are underweight or who will in the future end up under weight. It can make everyone think they’re recovered when ED recovery is about so much more than weight restoration. An eating disorder is a mental illness, thus to recover the mind needs to recover and this can often take years.

Instead of posting images that focus on weight I believe we should take weight out of the equation and think about warning signs and symptoms of an eating disorder instead.

These can include:

  • Being preoccupied with weight/shape
  • Being preoccupied with food
  • Denying themselves food
  • Secrecy
  • Going to the bathroom straight after a meal
  • Constantly making excuses as to why they’re not eating
  • Not eating in public
  • Hiding food
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Wearing different clothing than usual – i.e more baggy
  • Overexercising or exercising with the wrong motivations in mind.
  • Hoarding food
  • Taking laxatives/diuretics

There are many others, but these are just a few from the top of my head.  I personally use a traffic light system to maintain my own recovery. Green – alls good. Amber – I’m showing a few personal warning signs but not really acting on them. Red – I’m acting on my disordered thoughts. I find this really helps me keep check on myself.

I hope this helps raise some awareness and explain some of the issues with focusing on just one aspect of a very complex set of mental illnesses!

“You Look Well”

Hello again readers of my blog. Today I’m writing about the “You look well” or “You look healthy” or any other variation of the two comment that people quite often make.

The comment that many people with eating disorders find triggering, they find to be one their head twists to mean “Your fat” “You’ve gained weight.” or “Your getting a litttle chubby.”

But that is by no means true and not what is meant when loved ones comment these things. The “You look well” comment is meant as a compliment not as anything else your eating disorder may convince you so I urge everyone to see it as a compliment.

I myself got variations of the “You look well” comment on two occasions yesterday and I could have let it really trigger me, especially seeing as that morning I had stepped on the scales to see a ridiculous weight gain in the space of a week. But there’s no need to let it trigger you or set it back in any way. Fight against that voice in your head and think about it rationally and logically.

Looking well is a good thing. It’s a compliment.

Lets put this into context with my case from yesterday. I got the comment from my dad and my aunt. The last time my dad saw me was nearly 2 months ago now. I was borderline underweight in terms of BMI, so underweight in terms of where my body likes to sit. I was majorly stressed about possibly having ovarian cancer, had no appetite and wasn’t feeling all that great. The last time I saw my aunt was nearly 3 months ago now, I was feeling ill with probably endo pain and again slightly stressing over possibly having ovarian cancer and under my body’s natural set point range.

It is a damn good thing that they think I look well! It shows I am healthy, well to some extent healthier than I was back then. And asides from the physical aspect of it, because there is a very minimal physical change in my health in terms of symptoms. We should want to look healthy. And healthy doesn’t necessarily mean skinny. For most of us healthy does mean having a bit of extra body fat and not being at the minimum possible healthy weight for our height.

I feel as though especially as a vegan. I would rather look healthy than not, just to help in some small way to promote the lifestyle rather than turn people away from it.

So fight those eating disorder voices. Because looking well or looking healthy are all good things and in no way means you need to start restricting again!

Mental hunger?

Hello again, back with another eating disorder recovery focused post because since my period ended (so friday) I’ve been crazy mentally hungry but the physical hunger still isn’t where it was before I started feeling sick again.

I feel like if you google mental hunger you get given a series of articles about how to ignore your mental hunger or emotional hunger as it can sometimes be called. It seems as if having mental hunger is sinful. But that’s not true. Mental hunger especially during and after a period of restriction or illness is totally normal and in reality, is just our body’s way of saying it needs food, it needs nourishment to get us out of that caloric deficit we somehow ended up in.

There’s nothing shameful or sinful about it.Which I myself have found myself feeling in the past, like I was greedy for eating despite no physical hunger. Yet what I failed to realise is  Just like physical hunger, it’s something that we should listen to and we should respond adequately, giving our body’s the food it needs. The energy it needs because that’s all food is after all. It’s energy.

Normal people don’t always wait until they’re physically hungry or physically hungry enough. Normal people do respond to mental hunger at times because that’s what being carefree around food and eating as you fancy is. It’s being able to respond to all hunger both mental and physical.

So I encourage everyone experiencing this to embrace it and accept it. Your body wouldn’t want the food if it didn’t need it.

 

Feeling like a failure

We all know a lot of people with eating disorders are also perfectionists and I am not one of the exceptions. The problem is I see most people in the recovery community meeting the overly high expectations they set for themselves. Which, don’t get me wrong is great for them, but it doesn’t help much when your sat hating yourself because you didn’t get those grades. You didn’t get the straight A*’s you were predicted, you didn’t even get the A*AA you needed for your dream university. You actually didn’t get the grades required for your insurance. And they let you in anyway, but that’s not the problem. The problem is you didn’t do well enough. You didn’t do well enough to meet those expectations you’d set for yourself. So you hate yourself and you feel ashamed of yourself although deep down you know you couldn’t have tried any harder and whatever happened happened.

You find yourself comparing your failed results with others, others who did get those 3A*’s you we’re supposed to get, maybe even 4 with that A or A* in EPQ to top it off and it fills you with hatred. Even more so when the other brags on facebook about her daughter who for these straight A’s and had a part time job and trained for sport multiple times a week. You did none of that. You had no responsibilities but you still didn’t get good enough grades.  It fills you with hatred because your jealous and you hate yourself. It fills you with hatred because you have to be the best. You were the best. And now you’re just mediocre. This is why comparing yourself to others is so harmful yet I find it so irresistible at the same time. It’s a hard habit to break really but one I know I need to break if I’m ever going to have any friends and ever come to accept myself. 3B’s and all. Just typing that. 3B’s. It makes me feel ashamed of myself. To me, 3B’s isn’t good. But if anyone else had got that I would congratulate them. If my best friend had got 3B’s I would be pleased for them. So why isn’t it good enough for me?

This is the perfectionism trait that gets to most of us wth eating disorders and it can make or break us. The positive of the perfectionism trait is that it can lead us to achieve amazing things. On the other hand, it can lead to you not doing that essay or exam because you know you won’t achieve well enough. You know you’ll never be good enough. It can also lead to burn out. And lead to your whole world tumbling around you when you tried so so hard but still didn’t achieve those perfect grades.

You try to tell yourself it doesn’t matter but it still does. You try to tell yourself it doesn’t define your worth but it does. Nothing can change how much of a failure you feel like you are. Even when other people seem proud of you. And this is why  I feel like the education system can be so dangerous and harmful to people, especially perfectionists.

In both high school and college I’ve been told everyone can et straight A*’s if they work hard enough. And I’ve been told it by plenty of teachers. IIt really is quite a dangerous thing to say I believe because it ensues the belief in perfectionists even more so that if they don’t get the top grades there somehow failures and it somehow means they didn’t try hard enough. When really that is not true, especially in perfectionists who do try hard enough. it’s because some people aren’t clever enough to get straight A*’s. Some people may have undiagnosed learning difficulties, gone unnoticed because they were getting good grades all their lives. (I honestly think  I have some mild form of dyslexia and it’s only become more apparent since starting my A-levels, and especially during A2 year.The only reason  I haven’t got myself tested is because I’ve heard it costs £400.) They may have just had a bad day, week or year for any number of reasons. Or they may have been to a college with a very bad quality of teaching and no one got straight A*’s. (Again me)

The point is there are countless numbers of reasons as to why these self-set expectations may not have been met but the perfectionist will still beat him/herself up about it because the fact hasn’t changed. In the mind of the perfectionist they have still failed and failure is such a scary thing.

I’m not going to type here about how it’s all okay if you haven’t met your grades or everything happens for a reason because I know it changes nothing. But what I am going to say is that we all need to learn to accept ourselves, go easier on ourselves. We can’t always be perfect or the best. Self-acceptance isn’t easy but it’s what needs to happen so we can be okay when things don’t go to plan.

 

 

Long needed update

Last time I posted I was going to uni to study law, although having doubts about my decisions in doing that. I have had ever since applying.

The last few weeks have been a  bit of a rollercoaster ride, what with my exercise addiction being worse than ever and my parents being not very nice to me in general, mum speaking in that tone of voice she does aad calling me things such as a “nasty piece of work.” and saying I’m being all “me me me.” On top of that they’ve both been super triggering, mum on yet another one of her diets and dad always commenting on what I’m eating, how much I’m eating and calling people “greedy at every chance he gets.

It’s some sort of minor miricle that I’m still a half sane indavidual, atleast trying not to relapse into anorexia.

I did get very close, especially over the last few days.

But over the last few days I’ve come to know myself a lot more. I’ve fully realised  am not ready to go to uni this year and I do not want to study law. I’ve come to realise my true passion in life is outdoor adventering and climbing more specifically and so in the future I want to do something surrounding outdoor adventuring. Whether it’s just being a climbing instructor or working at a place like PGL. If I go to uni it will be to do outdoor adventuring or something similar. And maybe one day I’ll open my own business. We’ll see…

The problem is the taking steps to achieve this goal. What i thought was social anxety before, I’ve now come to realise is more a fear of rejection. Going to church to ask the minister to sign my passport application, asking lecturers for references… I’m scared they’ll say no.  I’ve had so much rejection in my life that I struggle to believe they’ll agree and say yes to these things… because why would they?

I’ve been struggling with overexercise because it’s a distraction. I’ve been restricting because I don’t know how else to cope. I’m terrified of the adult world, terrified of failure, beng looked down on and living on benefits.

I’m so terrified of having no life that I’m using these unhealty coping mechanisms so I won’t have to face that.  won’t have to face it because I’ll be dead or in hospital.

Now I’ve identified all of this I really hope I can sort this out, rationalise my thoughts and take steps to achieve my goals in life.

Stay strong and keep fighting,

Hannah

I’m Not Selfish, I’m Mentally Ill

Hello all,

Today I want to make a blog post about well the title says it all really. I feel it’s a common belief from the none mentally ill population that people are selfish, when infact maybe even unknowingly are suffering from a mental illness. Ive heard many a person say suicide is selfish. But they don’t give any thought into how a person who has reahced that level of depression is feeling. Yes it may come across as selfish but to a person with a mental illness. Suicide or any action isn’t for selfish reasons it’s because they can’t see any other way.

Lets just take an example from today that happened to me. Today I was mant to be going to the races and for lunch for my grandads birthday but this moring I couldn’t handle it. I thought about it. I really did think about trying to go. Trying to challenge myself so hard and I thought about ths not for me. But because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I didnt want to be a disapointment as per ususal. But I looed at some sample menues and decided I couldn’t handle it. I mean the fact that they were sample menus would mean a level of uncertainty in not knowing what I could have. What if there was nothing I liked? Nothing atleast half safe? On top of that there wuld be the calorie issue. This 3 course meal would lead to too many calories. Too many unknown calories. Again that uncertainty. Would I get the nutrition I’m after? Probably not. And it’s not just the food it’s the being around people and food all day. It all seemed too much.

And yes I felt guilty for maing the decision not to go and I still feel guilty just not as so now I’ve had some time to think and calm down a bit. I know my mum and brother think Im selfish for sure. Both saying I’m wasting money… And oay my brothers 9, he can be forgiven. But my mum. She knows I’m mentally ill. I would hope she’d be more understanding. Apparently not.

But whatever people think I’m not selfish. Im mentally ill and yes sometimes that may make me come across to others as me being selfish and rude but that is the way things are at this moment in time. The best thing I can do is to work towards getting better and maybe one day I’ll be able to go out to eat even where there’s uncertainty as to the menu, calories and atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there really an “Obesity epidemic?”

Okay today I am coing to you about Obesity. Yes that big scary work signifying somehwere no one wants to be as in todays society it is shameful.

I’ve been doing soe observations and I would not say that there is an “Obesity epidemic.” I do not agree with the fat that 58% of english adults are overweight or obsese. Okay maybe clinically in accordance with having a BMI of above 24.9 but that doesnt take into account many things. Bone structure, set point, muscle mass.

It is quite easy to be clinically overweight or obsese but actually at a perfectly healthy weight for your body.  I honestly don’t get why there’s such a fuss about this so called “Obesity epidemic.” I am aware obesity is a problem where it is impacting on peoples health and costing the NHS extortionate amounts of money but from my obsrvations of the general population whilst out and about I don’t belive it is as big as the media makes it seem.

So why is there such a huge fuss over it? I honestly feel it is just diet culture and money aking by the big dieting businesses. It’s all diet culture. That’s whats to blame.