Friday 13 April 2018

I know

I'm electric, I'm spontaneous, I'm dangerous, I'm fire, I'm manic

I try to sleep but my eyes just burn. The feeling of guilt over a morning coffee keeps me awake at night. 
"That's why you can't sleep, you know! All that caffeine and energy drinks is bad for you!" 
I know, I know. My insomnia is just too much caffeine and it's all in my head. 
I leave the safety of my house and everywhere I go I hear my name being called out by strangers. 
I'm constantly looking over my shoulder and feel jumpy and fidgety. 
I'm hungry but it's a different kind of hungry to Normal hungry, I guess like,
Nonchalant hungry. 
"That's why you're always sick! You don't eat enough good food!" 
I know. 
I probably couldn't tell you when I last ate and I will lie if you ask if I've been smoking. "You really need to give that up, it's disgusting!"
It truely is. 
I'm dull and wrinkly and stinky. 
All the things the anti smoking ads tell you you'll be if you're a smoker. 
A surge of self hate boils to the surface and I hate that I can't be stronger and just give them up. The self hate begins to snowball, collecting up new things to loathe in its wake. I spend an hour picking at the skin on my face until I am red and pock marked. I chew the skin around my fingernails until it bleeds even though I know "that's what happens when you bite your nails!"
I do know. 

I feel ashamed and ugly and I know it's my own fault and I know what I need to do to fix my life but I just don't know if I can. 

Wednesday 29 July 2015

See: To perceive with the eye, to be conscious of what is around you byusing your eyes

At the end of 2012 I was diagnosed with vocal chord dysfunction, a severe anxiety symptom, born from my high levels of anxiety at the time. Basically, whenever I had a panic attack (which was at least once a night) my vocal chords would begin to close over and I would struggle for breath. That, along with asthma and an inability to calm down and regulate my breathing, made for a rough few months with far too many ambulance rides.

I spent the following weeks in and out of doctors and counselling, the first to prescribe Lorazepam for acute attacks and the second, to put mental steps in place to alleviate the stress and begin breathing exercises. As my partner would attest to, these were not easy times. The amount of sleepless nights, uncontrollable shaking, crying, outbursts of anger and weight loss only added to his own stress of university, and together we became very reclusive.

This isn't to say that we weren't happy, we were just struggling and treading the ever deepening water of our relationship. We went to social gatherings when we were needed and most people were none the wiser of what we were going through as a couple. I like to think that I was the victim of my anxiety but unfortunately, it has a contagious effect when you live with someone else.

Thankfully to his resilience and many of my close friends, I was able to gain confidence over my anxiety and come off the Lorazepam and learn to control attacks through regimented breathing exercises and yoga. I continued to take Venlafaxine for depression and Quetiapine as an anti-psychotic/sleep aid in the hopes that I would also be able to work my way up to removing them from my daily intake. 

A month ago I stopped taking the Quetiapine as I was becoming reliant on it to sleep. Not only that, I also found myself abusing it if I had a particularly hard day or simply couldn't deal with the pain inside. It became increasingly easy to just knock myself out instead of facing my problems. I would wake up groggy and and see traces as though I had been on an LSD bender the night before. I was having nightmares that I couldn't shake all day and was confusing dream with reality. Some days were so foggy that I literally couldn't remember what I had for breakfast or how I got wherever it was that I was going to. I lost weeks of memories and conversations all from a tiny pink habitual pill. 

Although this last month has been a bit of a blur it makes me realise all the things I've seen but didn't get a chance to see. I was there, it happened, but I didn't truly see what was happening. Just like others see me out at a dinner or at a party, they only see surface value, not what is underneath. It never ceases to amaze me how little we actually see of the world around us and just how little we really know our peers. People are often heard saying to someone feeling negatively about themselves "I wish you saw yourself how I see you" or "If only you could see what I see". To even begin to see yourself as others do takes immense courage and strength. Too often we base opinions of others on gossip and hearsay, using our ears and not our own eyes. The same can be said for when we try to see ourselves the way our loved ones do. We only focus on our own bias opinions of ourselves and wade through layers of insecurities and self instated flaws so by the time we reach our outer beautiful selves, all we see are the flaws. When others look at us, they don't have these negative layers smearing their view they only see the outside.

I did not consult my physician before I ended my love/hate relationship with Quetiapine however I discussed it in great detail with my counsellor. I in no way advise anyone else to stop taking prescribed medication without first consulting your doctorI am still working on building up a healthy, unassisted sleeping regime and hope to eventually wean myself off caffeine and high concentrate sugars as well.
As the great Mrs Beauregarde said "Eyes on the prize violet, eyes on the prize."

Monday 20 July 2015

Anon Guest Post: Eating Disorder

They called me fat, and I believed it. Not only did I believe that, but nothing I ever did was good enough for the standards I set myself.
 What started as a diet turned into waking up one morning and literally telling myself I would not eat anymore. I exercised whenever I could, I would throw my lunch in bins, I lied, I deceived, I would not allow myself to sleep until I had done 500 sit-ups. I forced my fingers down my throat ten times a day, not even binging. I felt unworthy of even having water enter my body. I was weak, I was cold, and I felt alone, I spent my days counting calories, hiding food, being scared of gaining weight, thinking about how I was going to keep my secrets hidden from the people I love most.
It felt amazing to be good at something, and it felt even better to see the number on the scale go down. But this was always a temporary feeling, until the voice in my head would be telling me I was too fat, ugly, and a waste of space. I felt worthless; I wanted nothing more than to disappear. It began with people complimenting me but quickly turned into people begging me to eat. Eventually I was forced into hospital treatment, and remember having an ECG and being told that if I did not start eating I would die. I had a 40% chance of having a heart attack at any time, and I was going to need to gain over 10kg to get discharged. I cannot begin to describe how confusing and alone you feel when everyone is trying to make you eat, love yourself, and gain weight, when the person looking back at you in the mirror is your own enemy. There is literally a voice in your mind feeding you with negative thoughts, but you have no idea that it is destroying you. You cannot simply “just eat”.
I was going to the hospital five days a week, getting blood tests every second day, and regular heart tests. I was put on bed rest at home and was not allowed to do any physical activity. My mum was so scared that she was going to wake up to find me dead because I was so weak. I had no idea how bad my health was, and it is only recently that I can understand how close to death I really was. It is even scarier to admit that I wanted to die. There was an incident where I fainted at home when I was alone, I then drank some water and punished myself for this by purging. This was somewhat of a turning point for me. Did I want this to be me for the rest of my life? I had dreams, and I had goals, and with the amazing support from my family and friends my voice started to become stronger than anorexia. I gained the weight I needed too, got discharged from the services I was under, and then did some extensive counselling to deal with the mental side of the illness, rather than just the symptoms. It was the hardest journey I have ever been on, and I am lucky to be ‘recovered’, and even help people going through the same sort of things.
I would be lying if I said I love my body and I never feel fat and I never struggle. Most of the time I have no issues; some days I need to remind myself how far I have come, and that eating something unhealthy is not going to make me gain ten dress sizes. I have actually turned my focus and life around in the sense that I am motivated to be fit and healthy. I exercise 4-5 times a week, eat healthy, feel the best I ever have about my appearance, and hope that I can stay this way for the rest of my life.
Recovery can seem scary, and it is. But trust me when I say it is worth it. You begin to see the beauty of life again, the reasons why you exist and that your existence and worth is nothing to do with the number on a scale. Smash the scale if it helps, because it is nothing. And you are worth everything. Beauty is more than skin deep; your personality, your laugh, your goals, your dreams, your wishes, they are all beautiful. Everyone has scars, but scars tell a story and are nothing to be ashamed of. When the battle gets tough, do not give up because there is so much waiting on the other side. It does not matter how long it takes you to get there.

Friday 10 July 2015

Guest blog post | Promise: a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen.

I've always wondered about "pinky promises". Other body parts, such as the heart and the head, warrant their representations. But why is the strength of one's commitment symbolised by the most fragile bone in their body?

As witty and wise as I felt writing that, I'm wrong. Our most fragile bones are actually found in our feet and face. But I'm hoping my error will be excused since it serves as a perfect example of how promises do happen to break so easily: through intention and assumption.

One intends to do well, assumes they can, and a promise is made.

And there the promise sits like the pinky finger on a hand: at the bottom, under the commitment to our other fingers. We carry on with the routine of our lives, and then - be it by being too playful, working too hard, or though conflict - the promise is broken.

The ramifications differ depending on what was promised, but if there is one thing we can hope our promise has in common with our poor little disfigured finger, it is an ability to be quickly repaired.

...And there's another assumption.

I've never broken a pinky, but I've shattered my share of promises - mostly made to myself. And I can tell you, disappointment in yourself is hardest kind to dislodge.

Does all this mean that  promises were made to be broken? No. I think showing our little finger is actually not an act of assurance; it's one of acknowledgement. It's a person recognising that what they hold is fragile, easily forgotten, and well within their ability to break.

So should we ditch the word itself, or replace it with something more realistic? Probably not. It just doesn't work in the same way that half a wedding ring can't be worn.

Luckily, it's often said that "promises are made to be broken." Which also answers my original question: I think "pinky promises" show that people were made to be honest.

Written by the wonderful Boy Under The Bridge and my good friend, Ricky. For more written work from someone who will never cease to inspire you please visit his blog linked above.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

True: Consistent with fact or reality, Not counterfeit; real or genuine.

"If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?"

I don't know Sheryl. I don't know.

Everyone I know feigns enjoyment from something that truthfully they either hate, or just genuinely aren't interested in. My Dad pretended to love Kate Bush to woo my Mum, I said I was good at RPG gaming to impress a boy and Ned Stark pretended to like the Lannisters, all of which backfired horribly. Dad had to listen to Kate's screechy soprano every Saturday morning, I walked around in circles holding a grenade while being shot at in call of duty and Ned Stark lost his head (spoiler!).
We are a generation of people pleasers and exist purely to impress others. I have always been influenced by what is "cool" or trying to make myself look "successful" without fully grasping what that even means to me. I have lived in the belief that if I am to be worth dating, I have to be a female carbon copy of the person I am interested in, instead of someone with their own hopes/dreams/values etc.

I've been meeting a lot recently with a woman that I look up to as a female mentor and all around amazing person. She is one of those people I feel you don't just meet by chance and exudes bona-fide happiness from within herself. We have been talking a lot about living 'authentically' by identifying values I truely hold dear to me and others that perhaps have purely been impressed upon me.
It's interesting once you start to get to know yourself (albeit via a beautiful Canadian woman) that you realise just how much you hide from the world and how much you've fabricated just to fit in. It also helps you recognise how exhausting and unfulfilling your life is when you are not living authentically and being true to yourself.
I've been making lists of the things that make me feel happy such as 'finishing a book' or 'having a bath' as well as core values that are important to me like 'family' and 'honesty'. These are, and should be, different for everyone but if you can incorporate those things into your goals then you can start to live a much more fulfilling life. Ask yourself why you enjoy what you do with your spare time and what you want to do with the rest of the time you have, 'cause if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad.      

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Vulnerable: exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

It's so easy to look back on who we could, would and should love, because as a whole, we are so terrible at it. I alone have spent countless hours sobbing into pillows and wholeheartedly believing I am not good enough, all because my love was not reciprocated or was mistreated in some way. We spend far too much time changing ourselves to fit someone else's criteria and focusing our love like a laser beam, instead of broadening its vicinity to include ourselves.
Recently I have been reading Daring Greatly by BrenĂ© Brown and how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. When I look at times that I have felt the most vulnerable or the most shame, it is usually around falling in and out of love or not feeling loved enough personally. Times when I truely believed in my heart of hearts I am not capable of loving because I am not capable of being loved. In her book (or for those more visually inclined, her videos) she talks about how essential it is to embrace vulnerability as a key to 'engage with the world from a place of worthiness" and having the courage to let ourselves be seen.

Along with Brené Brown's wisdom (and some Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert), I have also been delving into Gary Chapman's 1995 book - The 5 Love Languages. It may sound nonsensical, but it discusses how we mirror the way we want to be loved by the way we love others around us using either physical touch, gifts, words, quality time or acts of service. For instance, I adore buying people small, thoughtful gifts or writing them uplifting notes. It makes me feel good to point out others strengths and telling them how they positively effect my life. So it comes as no surprise that my main love language is a very strong 'Words of Affirmation' followed by:
2. Receiving Gifts
3. Acts of Service
4. Physical Touch
5. Quality Time

The beautiful thing when you take the test (linked above) is there are no right or wrong answers and it by no way defines your love, it is merely a resource to help you recognise others love languages and strengthen your relationship with them. I've met so many people who chase after this fabled diamond ring, like a goal to tick off a 'to do' list, instead of looking further at what it intrinsically means. What good is a ring if you don't have a solid foundation on which to hold its significance up with? How can you offer someone the rest of your life when you don't take the time to be present in right now? For me, I know I first need to dare greatly to achieve a healthy level of worthiness and wholeheartedness before I can offer my love. Always commit to yourself before committing to someone else.

Learning how to love is not something you can be taught by someone else, it's something you discover on your own. But I had some advice for my younger self I would say:

- Protect your love from those who would mistreat it
- Love who you want to openly and freely, knowing it is your love to give
- Love infinitely
- Have the courage to share and express your love
- Always know that you yourself are loved

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly"
-Theordore Roosevelt

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Oath: a solemn appeal to speak the truth or to keep a promise.

My body, my temple. Yeah right.

For some reason I thought that because I had quit smoking everything else (health wise) would just fall swiftly into place. I imagined myself dining on spiced quinoa as it rained baby spinach leaves around me, while I ran like Usain on the treadmill and effortlessly lifted dumbells, only stopping to look at my sweet, muscular self in the mirror.
But no, instead I have the most persistent cold in the world and I'm carbo-loading like a fiend. Every pocket of everything I own is filled with either used tissues or chocolate wrappers or more often than not, both. I spend copious amounts of time looking at my mushy body in the mirror and purposely pushing my stomach out before grabbing a fistful of flesh with both hands and shaking it around, mouthing "eat the chocolate, fatty!" through gritted teeth at myself.
I seem to have this idea that I will do 3 sit ups and look down to see the body of my dreams and I refuse to believe that it will take hard work and perseverance (both of which I usually steer clear of). I'm finding it increasingly hard to get out of bed in the mornings with the weather getting colder and I'm beginning to loathe people with motivation in abundance. I want so badly just to siphon from their motivation tank into mine, but I know I must find my own.

I need my inspiration to become my incentive to become more than just another beige fleshy blob eating eating Nutella from the jar. I need to confront myself and let myself feel in order to nurture wellness, but it seems so much easier to ride below the waves of emotion, in a state of nonchalance.
How many times have you told yourself "I can still fit those size-too-small jeans" or "It wasn't me" or even "I am okay" when you know full well its a lie? How many times have you challenged yourself to be honest and discard the fabrications you use as cotton wool?

To cultivate and maintain a healthy well being, sometimes you just have to be barefaced and admit "I solemnly swear I am up to no good".