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?
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.