How Do You Have a Voice?

This is a post in response to somebody asking me the golden question ‘how do you have a voice’
Thank you for the question I’m glad that it was asked because having a voice in anorexia is impossible and having a voice in recovery is just as difficult. Now, I can only speak from my experience but I’m going to tell you a story, the stages of me finding my voice again.
For my entire life I’ve wanted to blend into the background, I never liked being the centre of attention, I was happy for my friends to be the ‘leader’ I let them make plans and was happy to agree. At college and university I never liked to be the centre of group work, I was never the spokesperson and would get extremely anxious and nervous when all eyes were on me. I thought (and accepted) that I was quite shy and happy to blend into the background because that is how it had always been… How I had made it. Later I discovered that the reason for this was because of the level of self-doubt I possessed. I was never sure if I had the right answer, was scared of looking stupid if I got the answer wrong or worried what other people would think of me, how other people would percieve me.

 When I developed anorexia and began losing weight I liked the attention I got, to begin with, the nice comments, I could tell people were being genuine, I did look better, fitter, healthier. When I was in the gym, clocking the miles on the treadmill all the self-doubt I was carrying around with me melted away, I knew what I was doing, I was confident, I had found something that I was good at. Something I could easily do without needing someone telling me I was doing the right thing. Never doubting my ability.

This is where the control kicked in and the full blown anorexia spiral began- I was good at losing weight. 

Realising this now, shows me it wasn’t a diet gone wrong but has come from deep rooted issues that began when I was a child. The gym, my new figure was one place I didn’t want to hide away. To me this is when I had a voice. A real voice. But it wasn’t long until I had two voices in my head. My voice telling me I looked good, I was FIT and STRONG and If I could keep getting stronger (in a healthy way) I would be happy. But this other voice told me I didn’t look good, I still had a long way to go, I was fat and the battle began.

The ultimate battle between life and death. Unfortunately my real voice, the one fighting for life was getting quieter and quieter and eventually I couldn’t hear it anymore.

I lost my voice.

The voice of Anorexia. This is the only voice I heard for a while. When my body could take no more I eventually decided I wanted recovery, I wanted my life back. 

Well hello voice. 

There was a glimmer of me still there it just had to shout very loud to be heard. As I began recovery the conflicting voices were horrible, my head was constant noise, I couldn’t focus on anything except a mixed swirl of arguments for and against recovery. But I knew deep down I wanted recovery and during this treatment programme we were taught that everytime anorexia shouts we have to shout louder, it will start to realise it isn’t winning. 

The first parts of recovery were hard- but I was changing the balance, anorexia was there but so were my fighting positive thoughts. I was getting a taste of life and this really helped push the anorexic voice away. I won’t lie and say it’s an upward climb from there because for me it wasn’t. Hitting target weight caused my to slip and just a few weeks of being low, feeling down and anti- recovery wanting to lose weight gave anorexia the chance to gain a voice again. BUT that wasn’t how my story ended, although it could have been. It would have been easy to discharge myself and lose weight again but I still had some fight left in me. I did a period of stabilisation where it allowed me 3 monthes to ‘get used’ and adapt to my new body weight. During this period I had to work very hard, I journaled, used therapy, endless distraction techniques, attended body image groups, I spent an hour every day reading positive recovery quotes about life, anything to challenge the anorexia voice. Most importantly therapy allowed me to see why anorexia found me: realising that I had so much self-doubt, confidence issues and other deeper rooted issues has been eye-opening in helping me see the beginnings of my eating disirder and also helping me recover and help prevent relapses that will inevitably happen in the future.

Through recovery my voice started coming back, I am able to communicate how I was feeling and no longer need to use weight loss to show I’m struggling. 

Regaining your voice is the most important way to fight back against anorexia. 

The louder you get, the quieter anorexia is forced to be. And you can ask anyone… I’m definitely finding my voice again ☺️

I hope this answers your question, I will post some tips that I found helpful in finding motivation to keep pushing for recovery in a separate blog.

Thank you

M x

How Do You Have a Voice?

What would you like to see?

Hi everyone!

Not your typical post today. Eating disorders are very individual to each person, however I wanted to see if there were any aspects that people want to read a blog about? Whether it’s something you are struggling with that I may be able to help with or something you want to understand more. If you know someone who is suffering maybe you have some questions that will better help you understand or help them? 

Please let me know, I would love to write for your specific topics.

I look forward to your replies 😊

M x

What would you like to see?

Is there more to your ‘mood swings’?

Throughout my eating disorder and during recovery (especially recovery) I suffered from severe mood swings. You know the symptoms: snapping for no reason, feeling on edge constantly, being irritated by the smallest thing, exploding when there appears to be no reason at all.
It’s a soul destroying feeling, you are angry all the time. For me everything that everyone said and did annoyed me, frustrated me, no one could say the right thing because there was no ‘ right ‘ answer. If my partner agreed with me it annoyed me but if he said something different it annoyed me to. You feel as though no-one understands you and really why should they? You breakdown in tears over a spilt drink. To them you are over-exaggerating, it’s no big deal, right? Just clear it up. But you can’t clear up the emotions that are within, all you can do is let then spill out. They are going to come out at some point. Trust me, and the longer you keep them in the messier it will be!

My partner told me it was like living with two different people, M who was ok on her ‘good’ days and M who was evil. Horrible to be around.

The worst part was having no control over it and not understanding where it was coming from. I just thought I was a horrible person. People didn’t want to speak around me for fear of triggering my mood and saying the wrong thing. My partner would say he dreaded waiting after waking up to see which girlfriend he had that day. It hurt me more knowing how I made him and my family feel. Knowing I was hurting my loved ones was devastating. At times I isolated myself because it was easier being alone than hurting others.

I came to accept that this was me and how it was going to be but during recovery and therapy I was able to explore and begin to understand what was actually happening. I wanted to share this with others because there is a reason that your mood is like this.

In therapy I realised some key things. I began by looking at exactly what was wrong or felt wrong:

– I was snappy all the time

– I caused arguments, provoked them, pushing people away, wanting a reaction, wanting and not wanting to be shouted at at the same time

– I told people they were better off without me

– I never felt good enough, worried whatever I did would be questioned

– I looked for reassurance constantly

– I was very defensive.

Let’s look at the arguments. I didn’t purposely say ‘ right I want you to argue with me’ but my tone, the way I snapped, the way I was generally spelled out ‘looking for an argument’

Consciously I didn’t want the argument because it made me feel awful and that made me feel worse, to a normal person they would think, ‘why would anyone want to be made to feel bad’. But that is exactly what I was doing. I hated myself and felt awful in myself. I hated me. But instead of being able to admit that I hated myself I would project onto others. I hated myself and felt unworthy. By arguing with other people they would hate me and not feel good towards me.

I was pushing how I de-valued myself onto other people. By seeing other people react negatively towards me it would confirm how I felt about myself. If me and my partner were talking and I snapped or had a tone with him, he would snap back and develop my tone. My mind automatically told me he was annoyed with me, annoyed with me therefore confirming I was a bad person. Reinforcing how crap I felt about myself- so it must be true right?

Wrong!

It wasn’t until I started getting more leave from treatment clinic and spending more time with my partner that I was able to see what I was doing. When I started to talk to him like a human being, being nice to him, being loving and caring and showing more of an interest in him and us that I noticed he began to change too. Was he really changing? I don’t know, I think that was him all along but because I was someone who was so unloveable that impacted on him too. After the new me/ real me seemed to be around more he said to me that I was actually a joy to be around, he liked spending time with me. This was all I wanted to hear. I realised in that moment I wanted to feel loved, not hated. I wanted him to pull me into a big hug when he got home from work, not start an argument the moment he got in. We weren’t bickering and I wasn’t talking to him in that horrible tone. I was beginning to like myself more, I was getting used to being a new healthy person again and I was starting to like me. As a result I noticed that we were arguing less and I was less snappy.

This showed me that I was no longer projecting my negativity onto him- I no longer needed someone to confirm I was a terrible unloveable person. Because I was starting to learn the truth. I wasn’t this terrible person.

As recovery went on this only improved. I won’t pretend it’s a smooth road now, actually I have been a bit snappy again lately but by using what I have learnt about myself I have been able to step back and see what the real reasons are.

I feel the topic of reassurance and defensiveness are big in themselves and deserve a blog focused on them so I will come back to these.

But if you take anything from this post then let it be this.

You are NOT a bad person, no matter how people react towards you. Look internally. Look at yourself and you will see the way people see you and treat you comes from how you see yourself. If you feel people don’t like you or think badly of you then this is most likely a reflection of how you see yourself.

Projection is a key thing I was able to identify and my life is better because of it. By recognising it it doesn’t mean that you will unlearn it and never be affected by it. This is a mood management tool that I have to keep on reapplying, reminding myself if I’m having a bad day and feel other people are annoyed with me/don’t like me to look what’s going on internally.

Don’t just take my word for it, try it.

I would really appreciate at your feedback after trying this, let me know if you see the positive change I did.

That’s all for now.

M x

Is there more to your ‘mood swings’?

Small Changes

I have seen many posts about it being the beginning of September, with people setting out their goals for the month. 

Personally I think this is great as I love having something to work towards, however it is easy to set too many goals, and ending up not achieving any. This was me all over when it comes to New Years Resolitions! Vowing to do and change everything, then realising I had too many to stick to and breaking them all. But I wanted to join in the setting of September goals and so here mine is:

I have very recently gone back to work on a part-time basis and so my goal is simple:

To get into a good routine working while allowing myself ‘me’ time.

This is something I struggle with’me time’. I have always felt as though I need to be busy and productive at all times, however I am working through the reasons as to why this has to be the way. Therefore this September my goal will run along side the work I am doing. 

Is anyone with me? 

Pick one main goal that you want to achieve and put all of your efforts into that one goal. I would love to hear what your goal is, and I’d love to follow you through September to see how you are getting on. I will share some of the things I am doing to focus on achieving my goal!

Bring on September!

M x

Small Changes

Magazine addiction: my tips

Following the post I wrote about my experience with magazines I promised to share some tips. Not necessarily tips, but things I found worked for me. 

  • If you are a serial magazine reader and feel that you could never cut magazines from your life completely then cut down. Stick to reading one just magazine a week.
  • If you like celebrity gossip then try looking online for these stories, stories that focus on more than just their weight.
  • Choose a different kind of magazine, one that isn’t focused on weight/body/image. For example if you have a hobby then why not start reading magazines that are targeted to specific hobbies and interests. For example arts and craft, gardening, etc
  • Use the money that you are saving each week to buy yourself a treat, non eating disorder related. For example as I need to work on treating myself and giving myself ‘me time’, I used some of the money that I saved to buy a bath bomb, something that will help me on my journey of recovery

The ultimate tip:
All of the above are great to help start managing the unhealthy addiction but for better success and the only thing I knew would work for me:

Throw out ALL magazines and stop buying them completely.

For me going cold turkey was my best and only option. The problem I faced with this was when I was at friends or family houses or in a waiting room. In this situation I just told myself NO. This is where you really need to take control.

Do I miss reading magazines? 

Stopping this unhealthy habit has allowed me to reconnect with my body, moving away from societies ideal of ‘healthy’. It has given me the chance to learn for myself what healthy is, in an environment that isn’t feeding me rules and restrictions, putting temptation in my way.

I do think that one day I will be able to pick up a mag and read it for what it is, however right now I am enjoying the freedom I feel. I don’t feel the need to buy a magazine and obsess over the weight loss stories. I have managed to get into a better place and for me, cutting out magazines and the nevativity and obsession that comes with it was the best step I took.

Go on, grab that pile of magazines and throw it in the nearest bin!

Magazine addiction: my tips