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.

 

The only one your competing against is yourself

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This blog should be retitled “lessons learnt from climbing.” Okay but seriously, I thought this title was apt for the post that I’m going to make.

Comparison is the thief of joy. I say this a lot and I really mean it. I know that a lot of us with a history of anxiety, depression and eating disorders will compare ourselves a lot. A literal common trait amongst anorexic is a toxic desire to be the best. This means that even once we’ve recovered – we will compare ourselves and beat ourselves up and push ourselves to dangerous extremes in different aspects of our lives. I literally ended up largely bed bound because I was trying to be everything I thought I should be at uni and then sacrificed all but my degree.

I spent 2019 really trying to find that balance and yes I still studied mad hours, and sacrificed all else because there wasn’t really much else I could do and yes I graduated top of my class. But it was worth it. It was so, so so worth it. I was trying to be the best law student that I could possibly be without causing my health to deteriorate and I made it. But even then, even when I had the right motivations I still had those “x is going to write a better diss than me” breakdowns.

I’m here to say that it doesn’t matter if x writes a better diss than you or is a better climber than you or does that problem and you can’t or consistently gets more stats at work than you. None of that matters.

Since graduating I’ve really found my balance some more. I’ve accepted that some days you win and others you lose. I’ve learnt that pushing myself to relentlessly fill out training contract applications day in day out is not the method to success in life. I have also realised that I have many years to be successful in whatever career that may be and there is no rush!

Just because X seemingly is better than something than you or gets more legal work experience or wins climbing competitions or gets a training contract before you or wins some nomination at work it doesn’t mean your not enough.

Yes you may feel your talents go unnoticed sometimes or that you have none because they go unnoticed. And that’s really sad, I’ve been there. You do have talents even if you feel like no one notices them.

What I’ve learnt and slowly come to realise is that there is no point comparing yourself to x. Yes you may take useful tips from x but it is important to remember that we are all different and we all have different priorities in life. We also all have different journeys in life.

And that is okay!

We can’t all be the best at everything and wouldn’t the world be boring if we all were.
This year I’m testing out the climbing competition waters again. Now I may have wimped out of the first round of my walls winter bouldering league even though there were problems set from absolute beginner upwards but after looking at the problems and climbing a few of them I realised there was no reason for me to wimp out. Maybe I would have come last but who cares? It’s about learning and developing. I have registered for paraclimbing nationals because what better time to try and make that teenage dream come true.

I know I’m not strong enough, good enough at route reading this year to win or even make finals. But I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s about learning to climb in that environment again and learning to train hard but not too hard. It’s about meeting people, pursuing my passion and being the best climber I can be.

The only person your competing against is yourself. We all have our own life journeys and climbing journeys alike. We all have our own strengths, weaknesses and experiences. I’ve learnt to enjoy the small signs of progression and am slowly learning not to feel disheartened if progression doesn’t feel fast enough or I feel like I’m having a bad session or that I’m the worst.

I can’t train hard every session with my conditions and that’s okay. Technique based sessions are also important as well as social sessions.

This 2020 I’m making a vow to myself. To not compare. To not beat myself up for not being the best. I am me and that is enough.

How Chronic illness changed me

Hello, today I want to make a  post about how my chronic illness (Most likely endo) changed me. Because that’s what it did. It changed me, a lot. In some ways good, and in most ways bad. Anyways let’s get started.

I guess the first change was that I went from being an active child to an inactive one. The year I got sick I played tag rugby and I remember having to sit out of some sessions because I felt so nauseous and I was in too much pain to play. I remember having pain when we played at the Hampshire games, but I had to play through it because I couldn’t let the team down or play on to my family that I was sick. I used to go to scouts and I quit that too. Because my periods gave me diarrhea and my cramps were so bad at that time of the month that the last thing I wanted was to do the runny around activities so my parents said they wouldn’t pay anymore because they thought I didn’t want to go anymore. I couldn’t tell them how ill my periods were making me feel, not my dad because he’s a man and not my mum because all she’d have said was “get over it.” I quit swimming because I couldn’t go once a month and I started finding that painful and made me nauseous throughout the month. It just stopped being a pleasant activity. Come year 9 I had quit horseriding because for years when I was having pain flares it made it worse and again, it just stopped being enjoyable because of that.

I became isolated and withdrawn. And while I was still young (age 11-14)I would moan to friends and go to the medical room a lot of the time. It annoyed people, people thought I was faking and doing it for attention. Even my own dad who found out because a friends parent phoned in concern. And then there were the constant thoughts I was just weak, and honestly,I still have to battle these on occasion. Why could I not deal with periods when everyone else could? I thought it was normal to feel so shitty all the time and I don’t think it helped that I had a couple of friends who shall not be named who were weak and did stay off school when they were on and got their parents to write notes out of PE  when I can guarantee they were in nowhere near as much pain as I was. These were friends who missed PE because they’d had their braces tightened. (Which yes it does hurt but not that much.) And friends who sat out and cried after being hit with a tennis ball. (Which again a pain that really does not warrant that.) I remember not being able to use tampons because getting them in was so painful and my mum said I had to deal with it. And then she said Bethany Hamilton can deal with her periods and so I should too?  (I was obsessed with Bethany Hamilton at the time) And again it made me feel weak. A couple of years later I forced tampons in regardless of the issues I had with them because I felt gross without them and thought other women would somehow judge me for still using pads at 15.

And obviously, this all had a huge impact on my mental health. Going from an active child to a teenager who can barely manage to focus during school and do homework does that. All I did was sit on my laptop and immerse myself in TV shows and that was my life. I became depressed because I could no longer do the things I loved and I was so confused as to why I was feeling the way I did. I became depressed because I confused over what was wrong yet feeling like I was just weak at the same time. I was going google crazy even at the age of 11 and nothing seemed to fit, not until I came across endo and even then sometimes I still find myself believing I’m weak because I don’t have an official diagnosis and I’ve never passed out because of the pain and only actually vomited once. (Only vomited once in the last 9 years mind you.) And quite frankly I was scared. Scared it was something serious yet not being able to summon up the words to say I need help.

This in turn lead to me becoming anorexic. (Well along with the random weight loss between year 9 and 10 of school) I was already restricting on and off from the age of 13 but I would say it was more disordered eating that eating disorer at the time. And yes the anorexia removed my pain for  a time  and it made my periods a lot lighter but that doesn’t make Anorexia a good thing. Anorexia made my relationship with my mum deteriorate even further, a relationship which still hasn’t been able to be fixed and probably never will.

Looking back you’d think I could go back in time and change it all. And yes there are things I had wished I’d done differently. I wish I’d opened up to my parents more. Seen doctors. Got tests. Answers. Gone to A&E on the occasions I thought I might have appendicitis. But I certainly do not wish this never happened to me in the first place. I feel like going through everything has made me one strong ass bitch. Someone who is able to continue on her life despite excruciating pain. Someone who has pushed through for the last 2 months because it’s either that or lay in bed and let myself become depressed again.Someone who is grateful for when she feels well.

It’s made me a better person. Someone who’s more understanding of people who can’t work. People who do experience chronic illnesses and people who suffer from mental illnesses. An understanding I am sure I would not have gained otherwise just due to my parents and certain other family members influences.

So I guess despite all the bad things I would say I’m grateful for everything I’ve been through because it’s made me a better person. Although I do hope my last couple of months pain and all other symptoms have just been flares and not a sign that it’s got worse or cancer because I’m going to uni in a week and I need a job because my parents will belittle me until I get one and not support me financially even if the reason I can’t manage work is due to actual physical pain.

I guess the one reason I wish I had a formal diagnosis and had seen doctors in the past is so that people may be more understanding of me.

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.

6 weeks in re-recovery

Hello everyone!

Today marks 6 weeks since I started recovering from my eating disorder again after relapsing and I thought I’d make a blog post abou what I’ve gained in those last 6 weeks. Other than weight of course.

  1. Probably the most important thing first. Happiness. I’ve finally started enjoying life and feeling actually happy.
  2. Fitness – six weeks ago 20 miniutes of hiit killed me I’ve done 30-60 mins every day since saturday and I’m fine. (todays workout was hard though) I couldn’t imagine ever being able to do that 6 weeks ago. Looking forward to starting up running again in the spring! (Winter running is not fun)
  3. Intelligence – I was two marks of an A* in my business mock. It came as such a shock to me. I know without the carbs that wouldn’t have happened.
  4. Enoying food taste and flavours – I’m slowly learning to appreciate food as what it is and not worry so much. It is still an issue but little changes are being made by the meal.
  5. Energy – I’m no longer constantly zombified!
  6. Sleep – I am sleeping better most of the time. Some night I do still only get 5 or 6 hours but it is better than the 4-6 I was getting before I started recovering again.

Just goes to show. Recovery is always worth it !