Tuesday, 28 June 2011

things I think I should tell the new therapist

I don't like 'therapy' - see, it's even in quotation marks. I don't like talking about myself. I would much rather go for a run. Or retake that biochemistry final I loved so much. Really. Well, since I'm apparently hopeless at talking - especially when I'm under pressure - I thought I should plan ahead of time what I'm going to tell the new therapist about.


So since she's kind of hopping in part way through the story I should probably start with where I am right now:
Even though I have come a long way in terms of accepting that I have a problem, I still spend a lot of my day thinking things like "there's nothing wrong with me - I could stop this whenever I want to - I just don't want to" or "I'm cured now, I'm fine." It's still really hard to hold onto the idea that this is an ongoing problem that I can't just 'fix'.

I use the ED to control what I think about - so I don't have to think about things I don't want to. But I'm begining to see that there's more to it than that, otherwise I wouldn't fear weight gain so much. Although I've never thought that I had a body image problem - afterall I don't do this to look like Kate Moss.

However, I do define myself by my size and (more specifically) my fitness - it's something I do better than other people and that means a lot to me - both in how I feel about myself and in how others perceive me. And that is all I am. If I didn't have that I would be meaningless. I would be nothing.


Small self-esteem problem (ya think??). But I previously never thought I had a problem with self-esteem. I mean, I can out-train the trainer. I can still place in fun-runs. Give me 50 sit-ups, I'll do 60. I can play netball, soccer, hockey. I can run - fast. I can swim - fast. I'm really good at sports. Where's the self-esteem problem then?

So why I do I stop eating when I've had a confrontation?

Am I really to blame for everything and therefore don't deserve to eat or feel better. Hmmm...


Right, so not-talky-talky PJ has chosen to try a therapist who has an interest in body image, self esteem and life-coaching. This will either be life-changing - or an apocalyptic catastrophe. Time will tell...

am I the only one with this stress about 'therapy' - or do you love it?
Is it helpful for you? Please tell me why :)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

PJ's spectacular slipathon continues...

Am trying really hard to get over this slip.

I'm not as desperately frightened as I have been in the past though. Which is either because ED is shielding me from the real danger, or because I know how to do this. It's the latter that I think really applies in this case. Even Dr C reminded me this morning that I've done this before. Sure, I've gone down this path, but I've been strong enough to pull myself out.

So I will.

And I'm comforted that I've have a lot more tools in my recovery tool box this time too:
Like support. So much support on which to draw. Just today my brother has emailed me, my PT has phoned me, and several friends have emailed, tweeted and DMd. And all this has happened because I reached out and asked for some support.

I also have Hope. I know I can do this. I know I really want to do this. And I didn't know either of those things even two months ago. But now a slip is not such a scary monster - even though I would rather never have one again.

I have insight. I know that I used this slip. I used it to get through a difficult appointment today which was causing me a lot of anxiety. And although it may have gotten me through, I need to stop doing that. I need to find a better way of dealing with stress that is not harmful to my health. I also know that if I don't eat then things go to hell in a hatbox very quickly. Not eating does not make me stronger, braver and able to think more clearly. It makes me a flippin' basket case.

Slipping and being imperfect is okay. My friend Poppy recently confided in me that she has an eating disorder. So I did what any friend a year further down the recovery track would do - reassured her that recovery was worth the effort. That there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things really do get better - even if she can't see that yet and might not see it for a while. So I worried that by venting I would frighten her and put her off trying. But I think the opposite is true. By showing her the truth - that everyone slips - I'm not only letting her in on the reality of her path, but also showing her that slips are not the end of the path. A slip is not the same as failure. Slips are just another chance to learn and get stronger.

I also made a big decision today which I am feeling okay about. I went back to see K and talked with her about why I was upset (you know, once I unfolded myself and stopped crying long enough to breathe).
And after I left I decided I would not go back.
K is extremely kind and patient, but it just doesn't seem to be a good fit - or perhaps it's just me? I don't know I've never done this before (I'm so not a talky-talky person). But I won't know unless I give someone else a try. And when I first met D she recommended the name of a therapist, so I think I'll start there.

Even after a year of trying, today feels like a new begining.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

holding pattern

I think what I realised from writing my bravery post was that I'm okay with where I am now. Yes, I have big plans, but I'm not ready yet.

Patience, PJ. Patience (hmmmm)

So let's take stock. Where am I and what's working for me right now?

1. Support
  • I try to add a new person to my growing list of supports every week. I have learned the important lesson of 'support not secrecy' and because I hate the thought of being a burden to anyone the more supports I have, the less likely I will feel like I am constantly boring just a handful of friends with my problems. 
  • Also means that when I have a specific problem (like I did the other day with my jeans not fitting) I knew who to turn to. My regular friends wouldn't understand why that was such a big problem for me. I know that even though they love me and want to be there for me, their first response would be "that's not a problem, look at how tight my jeans are, I'm the one who needs to lose weight". So I rang D - she gets it.
2. Safety
I am not weighing myself at all as this would definitely cause me to panic and I know this for certain. And I know that panicing is not good for my safety.
I am not exercising because my body would not cope with it and I do not want to have a heart attack.

3. Meal Planning
I have realised that I have been having trouble especially with dinner. Once I've wrangled the pickups, struggled with homework, and cooked dinner amidst whining, bickering and a leg clinging toddler it's so easy to come up with 1001 excuses why I'm not hungry and couldn't possibly eat dinner (note: that's excuses, not reasons). And after reading the list of suggestions compiled by June Alexander for mums with ED this is what I came up with:
  • All meal planning is done ahead of time (on sundays). I have a basic plan from my dietician, but the actual dishes are up to me.
  • Pre-cook five dinners on sunday night
        - this frees up my evenings so I can eat with a much lower stress level
        - also means that the cooking is done at a time when I won't actually be eating the food so there's much less pressure
        - my husband is in the room with me while I'm cooking so it's all a bit friendlier :)
  • If I go out to dinner I choose someone else (my husband or a friend) to pick off the menu for me. And whatever they choose is it. No swapsies.

4. Relapse Prevention
I've decided to go back to my counsellor at least one more time to try to talk about ways to deal with conflict better. I know it's something that I am hopeless at and avoid like the plague, and I know that getting upset is my biggest relapse trigger - so I really want to deal with it for my own benefit.

5. Future Improvement
I still restrict while I'm at work. I hate eating in front of people, and it's just so easy to be too busy and 'forget'. So I really need to come up with a better strategy for dealing with this one.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

brave enough

Bravery - that's the self-discovery word by word series word for this month.

Couldn't we have an easy one like failure, uselessness or cowardice? I could write a tome on these. But bravery...I'm a bit lost on where to start with this one.

But I hate sooking - so before this rapidly descends into a 'pity party for PJ', maybe I should start with what I think bravery is...

Bravery is the name given to actions that display courage. And that to me is the crux of the word

Bravery requires action. 

This is where I find my block with this word. The reality is I'm not out there *doing*. I'm sitting at home hiding behind this pseudonym. I'm not taking any hits. I could just stop blogging, turn off my computer and pretend like none of this ever happened. That's hardly bravery in my eyes.

The really brave ones are the ones that come out in the face of stigma to raise awareness. Writers like June Alexander, Carrie Arnold, Dana Udall-Weiner, Lynn Haraldson, Kendra Sebelius, Margarita Tartakovsky, Arielle Bair, and so many many more...

I so admire them - and I wish I could be like them.

But I'm ashamed. And afraid.

Those who have spoken out and made the commitment to change their lives forever in order to change people's minds, they are truely brave. They have fought and won their battles and then candidly shared their stories so that I might learn.  And I am so grateful.

Without them I wouldn't know I am not alone.

But typing that last line has made me realise that this knowledge does so much more than relieve the shame; it gives me just a little bit of courage I didn't have before. In fact maybe it makes me just brave enough.

Okay, brave enough is not too bad! I can live with brave enough. After all, when I think about it, I've done quite a lot with brave enough:

asked my gp for help
gone to the dietician
gone to the councellor
told my husband I have an eating disorder
taken my husband to the gp with me
told some close friends I have an eating disorder
told my brother I have an eating disorder
stopped weighing myself!!
stopped exercising
admitted when I'm hungry and eaten 
learned to see slips coming and ask for help

I have my moments of bravery, fleeting though they might be (and often followed immediately by a stint of hiding under my favourite coffee table) - but it's enough to make a difference in my life. And maybe for now that's what I need to aim for.
Be brave enough to fix my life now.

So as much as I would love to stop hiding behind PJ, share with you my real name and fight the good fight to raise ED awareness (especially for those of us who are just a teensy bit older than average) - I can't yet. I'm just not ready.  

Bravery will just have to wait for another day - but it doesn't mean it will never happen.

And maybe brave enough will one day have knock-on effects that I can't possibly forsee today...I certainly hope so :)

...but first I have to be brave enough to press 'publish post'!!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

do you weigh yourself?

I don't.

And I think I can say this with some degree of certainty now after 8 weeks. Plus I even managed to stop the nurse who was weighing me for my recent ECG from telling me my weight or writing it where I could see it (even though she had *no idea* what I was on about and I could so easily have cheated).

But I still really want to.

I liken it to a smoker who knows they have to give up smoking for their health but still really wants to do it. Ask in them in 6 months (or even 6 years) if they would like to take it up again and I bet 9 out of 10 times the answer is 'yes' - but they don't do it because they know it's not good for them.

So I'm not expecting to be happy about it. I just know I shouldn't.

Mostly because it is not the great stress reliever I thought it was. I thought it was helping me to relax because I knew what I weighed, so I was either 'good' or 'bad' (in which case I needed to 'work harder').


But now that I've stopped I can see that there are far less consequences to everything, which is helpful:
  • I am able to eat without worrying what the scales will say
  • I can stop exercising without worrying what the scales will say
  • I can sleep through the night without having to get up just to check what the scales say
And without the scales having so much to say all the time, there's far more chance for me to hear what I have to say:
  • I say I need to eat because my body cannot sustain starvation
  • I say I need to eat because I need my mind to function properly
  • I say I need to stop exercising at the moment to allow my heart to heal.
  • I say I am in charge - not the scales and not ED.

After all, my life is worth more than a number on the scales. I am important in the lives of others and that gives me value which cannot be measured. So even though my jeans didn't fit this morning, and even though I have cried far too much over this fact, I will still not be weighing myself. Will you?

    Wednesday, 8 June 2011

    my local library is the best

    well, no actually it's not all that great. But of the 4 books (yes, you can count them all on one hand) about eating disorders these were two of them:

    seriously not bad for a library with such limited resources - I'm actually pretty impressed :)

    Saturday, 4 June 2011

    I screamed

    My black and white thinking resurfaced this morning in a rather ugly way - but at least I'm starting to be able to catch myself thinking these thoughts. So there's hope I will be able to one day stop them in their tracks. But not today...

    I could feel the panic rising. I've been so very tired lately and have let so many jobs around the house pile up. And pile up they have. And this morning it all became too much.
    I was stupid and useless and pathetic and a complete failure because the clothes weren't put away. I was the most hopeless, lazy, stupid person ever because my house wasn't perfect. Everyone else can manage. Everyone else's houses and lives are perfect. I just couldn't get anything done. I couldn't find clothes for the children fast enough, and I couldn't get myself dressed early enough. I wanted to be ready to go first thing, and first thing was getting later and later...
    Where was that perfect uncomplaining wife I planned to be (yes my own parents are divorced). Get the children ready, have everything perfect, don't bother anyone with mundane complaints about my unimportant day, be perfect and happy all the time and everything will be fine.
    But everything's changing. I don't know who to be anymore. How can I be the perfect wife if I'm fat and useless?The only thing I'm any good at is exercising, and I'm not allowed to do that!!

    I hated myself and I screamed.

    Sadly all this did was make my baby cry and worry my husband - who was not rushing me or pressuring me in anyway - that was me projecting (I know that, and I'm so sorry).

    But I stopped. It didn't go on for more than a minute or so, and although it took me while to recover from the resultant headache, I could see what happened. I could also see that I had about 30 minutes of warning signs before hand where I could have prevented it. I could have said I was feeling pressured and stressed. Could we slow down? Could he help me? (yes, he did ask and 'PJ the perfect matyr' said "no").
    But was it even triggered by the events of this morning? Or was it coming on since yesterday? Was it because I restricted yesterday because I was 'busy' at work? Or was it the pasta I had at dinner? Or was it the post I read about someone discovering she likes to run - which made me feel so sad about not being able to. Any of this could have been the 'reason', and any of this I could have shared with Mr PJ.

    But I didn't, so I had the panic attack instead.

    However, it was at least a really short one. And no I'm not all those awful things I said. And I'm going to be that acrobat I like so much from Lori's metaphor. Yes I fumbled, yes I slipped. But I'm going to pick myself up quickly and move on without too much fuss. Because the sooner you stop wallowing and start doing again, the better.

    So on with my day :)

    Thursday, 2 June 2011

    recovery or relapse? how can you tell the difference?


    Top of my warning signs checklist is "I feel fine" - and this has been a warning sign for me long before I recognised I had a problem that required a warning signs checklist. Ahh, denial and I have been together for such a long time.

    So why does this statement feel so different this time. 

    When I say it to myself, I'm not yelling it. There's no angry, defensive bite to it. It's not sulky and scared. It sounds happy and natural. It's even a different colour - not all black - but a bright blue-sky colour. I feel lighter, there's no chaos in my head. I can relax and I can sleep. I can smile. I can concentrate on what my children are saying and take joy in their happiness and daily commentaries. I can sit alongside them quietly without my mind racing away somewhere else. I have energy and I can enjoy the day. And I have confidence again. I don't want to hide when my phone rings and I can check my work email without being sure I've done something wrong.

    I feel so much better - I really do feel fine.

    I can't believe that just two months ago I honestly thought I was going to die and that I was powerless to prevent it - I certainly never expected to feel like this ever again. I hope this is what recovery is going to feel like. I like this feeling. I really hope it lasts.
    And I really hope it's not relapse in disguise...but I don't think it is...