Friday, 30 September 2011

blame, responsibility and forgiveness

I have (not unexpectedly) been giving a lot of thought to my last post on blame and why I blame myself for everything. A number of you were kind enough to reach out and let me know that I am not alone in this futile pursuit, and thinking about it in the lives of others has helped me to look at the situation more objectively. So again I thank you for sharing your own stories with me :)

This is where I'm at now:

  • Blame is of no use. It wastes time and energy and does not fix anything.
  • It is possible for no-one to be to blame in a situation.
  • Just because the other person is not to blame does not automatically make me to blame by default.
  • Taking responsibility is a much more proactive and positive way to reframe my negative thoughts.
  • I can be responsible for solving a problem without being to blame for causing it.
  • If an altercation occurs which I am not to blame for, I still have the power of forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness does not mean having to apologise or feel small.
  • Forgiveness simply means letting go of blame.

Oh and you'll like this one...

I can still be responsible for my recovery
without being to blame for my illness.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011



I spent my last session with my therapist, J, discussing the incident in my previous post.

After some discussion, we came to the conclusion that, regardless of the incident, I blame myself for everything.


She asked me at the time what would be different if I stopped blaming myself. And I came up with:
- I would feel more equal to others. I wouldn't feel so small all the time, and
- I would feel more confident to have my own opinions.

To follow on from this J gave me some writing prompts to work on between then and our next session - and I've been thinking very hard about these. I really think this is something that could help move me forward.

How does thinking you are to blame serve you?
This has been a learned behaviour for me. A protective behaviour. I learned a long time ago that I could draw his anger and criticism away from my siblings. I was strong enough to take it, so I would. If I took the blame then he was satisfied and we could all just move on.
I also use it to avoid confrontation with friends and colleagues. I'm terrible at confrontation. And I know will lose in the end and give-in, so it's just quicker and saves my humiliation if I just apologise at the outset of an altercation.

Am I getting anything that brings positivity to me by blaming myself?
Avoiding confrontation is helpful in that I am not left in a heap, but I would like to be stronger in myself to be able to standup for myself better. So I'm going to have to go with no. It is a cop out at best, and really just delaying the inevitable.

When are the times in your life when you genuinely did not feel to blame?
I really struggled with this one. But I did manage to come up with one example: I rang Lifeline back in April. I had not eaten for quite some time and was genuinely scared for my safety, but couldn't see anyway out. It was late at night and I was alone - so I rang the helpline. The guy on the other end was clearly disappointed to get an hysterical girlie who didn't really have anything sensible wrong with her. "well how much do you weigh?" was one of his first questions... followed soon after with "well if you like food why don't you just eat?". I ended the conversation by informing him that he was not being helpful to which he replied something along the line of "whatever", but I had stopped listening.
None of this stupid lack of empathy was my fault. I don't even care if he didn't understand he could at least have been thoughtful or kind. His only role at Lifeline is to help people who feel their lives might be in danger and he did not even try to help me. He clearly thought I was wasting his time - and that was his fault not mine.
The only other time I have rung them the lady stayed on the phone with me for 45 mins until I was able to eat a mandarin. I was so relieved after this phone call and have actually been much better since and have had no other extended periods of restriction. She helped. He did not. And it was his fault not mine.

What are some ways to think about learning to let go of this blaming feeling and behavior?
Um... this one will require more thought...

any suggestions?? Do you tend to blame yourself? Or have you been able to overcome this?

Friday, 23 September 2011

one of my unpublished posts

I seem to write a lot of posts that I don't publish - and this is one of them. I wrote it on wed, through a haze of tears. It was written without much thought - it's just how I was feeling. And as such I'm not sure it's all that fair to my dear sweet gp - which is one of the reasons I have been so hesitant to publish it. But I will, as I have a feeling it is going to have some ongoing repercussions for me (hopefully not all bad, hopefully I can learn from the experience)...

My self worth and self esteem are so tenuous. And although I am getting much stronger at believing in myself and my right to have opinions and my right to just be the true authentic me, it became very clear to me today that I still revert back to my previous coping strategies around Dr C.

When I went to see her this morning I was planning to tell her all about the fantastic week I have been having – but these appointments never go to plan do they. About three words into my appointment Dr C commented on how pale my toddler was looking: “She looks pale, really pale, well don’t *you* think she looks pale? Tell me what’s been going on?* Why is she so pale? Has she been sick? Is she eating? Is she sleeping? She looks really sick!”** I later told Dr C that I felt she had berated me – which she denied. Her words included: “over-reaction”, “overly-sensitive” and “need to pull yourself together a bit”.

Massively hurtful. So cue my pointless ‘shut-down’ response .

Her opinion of me matters to me more than anyone else’s. So I do accept that I over-reacted. But does everything always have to be all my fault? Surely her inability to even entertain the idea that perhaps she had bombarded me without giving me a chance to speak, contributed? Or again, is that just my interpretation and I’m at fault again? And then to make matters worse she kept banging on about being worried about my ‘mental health’. I just couldn’t make her believe that I was doing fine until I walked through her door. That perhaps it was the way she related to me that was the sole cause of me being upset. And that it is only because of how highly I regard her that resulted in my reaction. I really just felt like a naughty child. I felt small and pathetic and ashamed. And I felt like she thought I was negligent and a bad mother.

I know that this fear that people think I’m a bad mother is a common theme when I’m upset. I know that I feel this one more than any other insult even though it is only my interpretation of what has been said and not the actual words. No one has ever said it to me – I just live in fear that someone, like Dr C, will decide I’m unfit to be a mother and take my children away from me. I have nightmares about it. I feel sick just writing it.
So needless to say my ‘when the sh*t hits the fan’ plan is getting a workout today.

*this one was the worst – this one I heard as “why haven’t you been taking proper care of her?”
**my toddler has been unwell with a nasty cold. But I did take last week off work to care for her and I did take her to the dr to get her checked. She is now on the mend.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

'when the sh*t hits the fan' plan

My homework from my therapist J this week was to work out a plan of action, you know, for when the sh*t hits the fan :) so that I will be prepared in advance and know what to do when I have another *bad* day...

So here's my plan:

I put the question of rapid destress techniques out to twitter the other day and got the great suggestion of breathe in for 5 and out for 7. Not only did this slow my breathing right down but it diverted my attention while I concentrated on counting. And this distraction was very helpful. I really did feel much better very quickly. (thank you Katie)

I have a list of single words that very special people have either said about me or said to me which have meant a lot to me:
love, loyal, trust, hope, deserve, stronger, awesome
I plan to get these words engraved in my bangle so I can carry them with me at all times and can then look at them when I need support and there's no one around to give it.

Face it
Sometimes I have a panic attack for absolutely no reason that I can think of. But sometimes, deep down, I do know the reason. My dear friend June Alexander says 'action not anxiety' and she is right. Sometimes no matter how hard it is if I can just face and deal with what is making me anxious then I can move past it. 

I love the song "I can see clearly now" - it has a great deal of meaning to me for where I am right now and for where I am trying to move forwards to. If I am stressing I like to listen to this (quite loudly) on my ipod. 

The last time I had a panic attack (only mild luckily) I explained to my husband what was going on. I have friends I can email when this is happening and that is helpful - but I had never told the person in the room what was going on. I had just smiled and tried to pretend it wasn't happening, often right up until the point that I just start screaming and throwing things. But this time I told him it is like that awful adrenalin feeling you get when you know you are about to get into terrible trouble for something you didn't do. And to make it worse, the last time this happened there was no reason for it - just hit me out of the blue.
Telling him really relieved me of so much of the pain I was in. I could feel the anxiety, but did not have to suffer it. It was shared, and that helped immensely. So 'talk about it' is definitely on my plan.

Get help
I'm usually not keen on having the kids 'taken off my hands' as this just feeds my feeling of 'everyone would be better off without me' - but I do like company when I'm feeling anxious and afraid. So letting my husband take over as primary carer for the afternoon but still including me in the fun, is what I find helpful. I don't want to be sidelined or left out, but I sometimes just want someone else to field the endless questions and whinging and arguments.

The feeling passes. I know it does. And I know that I haven't done anything wrong. I need to remind myself of this positive fact. I haven't done anything wrong. I'm not stupid and incompetent. If I have made a mistake, it's just a mistake. I can face it and deal with it, but it's not the end of the world. I am not to blame for everything. Everything is not always my fault.
This feeling will pass.

I would love to never have another *bad* day as long as I live, but I suppose that's just too much to ask for - so hopefully I am prepared to get through the inevitable when next it hits me from out of the blue.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

back in 5


I've stepped off my blog for a moment today with a guest post at Drop It And Eat where I'm passing on some more wisdom from the ANZAED conference - this time some research on what really happens when people try to lose weight fast.

So do come over and visit me - and don't forget to leave me a comment or two so I don't feel too lonely :)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

What if...


What if I just ate what was on my meal plan...

What if I exercised only for the love of it...

What if I could spend the day with my friends and not worry about the 'time wasted'...

What if I stayed truly present when I am with my children...

What if I only said nice things about myself...

What if I was happy to be me and not compare myself with others...

What if I made my own health a priority...

What if I dyed my hair pink...

What if I got a tattoo...

What if I got drunk...

What if I made a fool of myself...

What if I ate a whole packet of Tim Tams...

What if I laughed more and worried less...

What if I ordered the meal on the menu simply because it sounded good...

What if I really didn't care what the scales said...

What if I let go of my eating disorder...

...would the world end?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Evidence from Experience

Recovery is a team effort. A standard treatment team is made up of your GP, a dietician and a therapist - all of whom need to have specialist skills in dealing with the specific issues of treating eating disorders. And the role of your support people - family and friends - must not be underestimated either. A supportive partner and a selection of good friends who really understand can make all the difference.

So who have I forgotten on that list?

Who is it that is so often overlooked? Have you figured it out yet?


You have experience that no-one looking in from the outside can ever have. And this experience is vital. You hold the key to unlocking your own eating disorder. And to helping others, including your own treatment team, to better understand the complexities of this disease.

Never underestimate your own value in this journey.

June Alexander spoke so eloquently on this topic at the recent ANZAED conference and I encourage you all to visit her post about it and read what she had to say...

Saturday, 3 September 2011

foods to optimise recovery

At the recent ANZAED conference a gp from Queensland named Leanne Barron gave a very interesting presentation on how she uses a basic explanation of the serotonin synthesis pathway to help eating disorder patients 'justify' making basic food choices. She has found that this kind of advice can motivate patients to incorporate essential nutrients into their meal plans.

Interestingly my own dietician (who was also at the conference) did not particularly like this idea.

She felt that it was placing a skewed emphasis on the role of food: that we should 'only' eat it for specific nutrients. And not because we like it or want it.

I can see her point. But then I can also see mine! I majored in biochemistry. This is right up my alley. And at this point in my recovery I find making food choices very difficult and if this understanding can motivate me, because I can intellectually see how it will make me feel better, then great! The rest can come later.

So here's the info - and you can take it or leave it, depending on your way of thinking.

At each stage of the synthesis pathway she identified particular foods which are high in that chemical:
Tryptophan: turkey, peas, warm milk

Nutrients that facilitate the conversion of tryptophan to 5HT: iron (red meat, eggs), calcium (dairy, salmon with bones), folic acid (leafy green vegetables)

* the transport of tryptophan across the blood brain barrier also requires carbohydrate*

Nutrients that facilitate conversion of 5HT to serotonin: zinc (oysters, pumpkin seeds, nuts), B6 (peanuts, chicken, tuna), Vit C (fruit, tomatoes, capsicum), magnesium (cashews, cocoa)

Nutrients that facilitate conversion of serotonin to melatonin (essential for sleep): B12 (meat, fish, eggs), B6, folic acid, B5 (avocado, sweet potato, mushrooms)

You'll notice there is also a double arrow from serotonin to B3 - this is because this pathway is the preferred pathway. Serotonin would prefer to convert to B3 not melatonin. So in order to allow it to convert to melatonin you need to not be deficient in B3 (almonds, chicken, eggs, salmon, sunflower seeds).

Barron also recommended a book called "Nutrient Bible" by Osiecki, which provides a much larger variety of food choices for all nutrient groups.

Now if you've made it this far you must be very keen (or a big geek like me!). So hopefully you have found this information useful - I did. It works with the 'food is medicine' principle that I like. But I do concede that this is not the only place for food in our lives, but it does help to remind me that there are nutrients in all foods.  
Food is not the enemy. It is our lifeline.

published by PJ at