What a year 2016 will be…

So it has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog post. I guess life has got in the way! I mean, I love writing, but I just feel snowed under sometimes with the amount of other things I have to do!
It feels like a good time to write though as this year is going to be massive for me. 
When I think back a few years back, I would never have dreamt that I would be where I am now. There are a few aspects of my life that really stand out as being pretty amazing achievements! 

1) I am graduating this year as a mental health nurse. My training has been an incredible experience for me and I have developed a real passion for my work. I look forward to going in every day and see what the day entails for me. So, some placements have been more exciting than others, but even the ones that are slower in pace e.g. Community placements, I have still tried to look for the positives that I will take away. I have definitely learnt something new each day on each placement. When you want to learn, there is always a way to go about it. I am currently in the process of applying for jobs for when I qualify and I have been invited to an assessment day next week for CAMHS. I am so excited about this. It is my dream coming true. I can’t believe I have nearly finished and will soon be qualified!

2) I get married this year! Now this is something that I didn’t ever really think about before I met my fiancé. He has been an incredible part of my journey. He has been there through thick and thin and right from day 1, he always believed in me. We met when I was still an inpatient in hospital – now that is dedication on his part! Picking someone up who needed some ‘work doing’ on her…!! In all seriousness, he is my complete soul mate and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

3) I am in the best place I have ever been in mentally. So, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa in late 2004 and throughout all of those years, I have been in ‘ok’ places and absolute dire places. In fact, when I have been on those ‘ok’ places eating wise, it is usually because I was engaging in other behaviours to punish myself for eating. So actually, from 2004-2014 I was really quite unwell. At times, I coped with life – did a degree…somehow, but for a lot of those years, I was pretty much a write off. And now? Fantastic. I have never been in such a good place. I am physically healthy! As a result of this, my mind is getting a really good chance to heal. I am no longer counting calories, I am not obsessed over my weight, I am not thinking about food 24/7, I can have takeaways when I want and not freak out, I am eating what I want, when I want and most importantly, I am happy. I am learning to accept and love my healthy body. I am embracing my curves and enjoying the things that my healthy body now allows me to do. At one time, I was obsessed with exercise and is lead to my long ED admission, but now? I can do my classes for fun and don’t feel compelled to go. I only go now because I actually really enjoy myself and feel a sense of accomplishment when I feel myself get fitter!

4) One last thing to add…April 2016 will mark 3 years self harm free!!! If you had asked me 4 years a go if this would ever be the case, I would have said definitely not!!

So these are the major things that spring to mind right now. 

I am, for once in my life, proud of myself and I can allow myself to be proud too, which is something I always struggled with. Why shouldn’t I be proud of myself? I have worked incredibly hard for all of this. It hasn’t been handed to me – I have worked for it through sheer determination and perseverance that things could be better.

When things can only get better…

So the time hop application on facebook reminds me of how much things have changed. 2 years a go yesterday ‘Has been defeated…terrified is not the word right now’. I remember this day well. Things had been bad for a while before this, but had been steadily getting worse. I had decided that I wasn’t going to make it to 2013 and so there was no point in eating. I had started refusing all food and fluid on the ward and they kept threatening to assist feed me. I was terrified for 2 reasons. 1) they were going to put an undefinable amount of food into me and 2) my head was telling me I had to die and I had no choice in the matter. It was a terrifying place to be in. Deep down I didn’t necessarily want to die, but something in my head told me I had to. It told me that I wasn’t allowed to live, I didn’t deserve to live, no one wanted me in this world, I should do everyone a favour and just ‘get on with it’. I had no say in any of this. It was so powerful that I had to go a long with me. Writing about it now makes me feel scared. I’m scared that I was in a place like that. There is always a small part of me that is scared that if my head was able to do that before, then it could maybe do it again. I know I am stronger now and I have a very different life, but it’s always lingering in my mind.

Moving on from there, because I am not going to lie, it’s extremely difficult thinking about that time in my life.

Xmas was always hard. 2 years a go, I wished all my friends and family a happy Xmas because I wasn’t going to have one that year. Last year, I was back to a more ‘normal’ Xmas, but still had to go back to the ward after the celebrations. The food was a struggle, I panicked over Xmas dinner, ended up having it with Dad, but really didn’t feel relaxed during this year.

Xmas 2014 was a very different Xmas for me. On Xmas eve, I had the best day of my life. My wonderful man proposed to me and I said yes. Xmas day was spent with my family and then with my (now) fiancé’s family. The dinner was part of the day and there were some anxieties around it, but there was a lot less anxiety than in previous years.

Things can change. They can get better. Considering I didn’t want to even live to see 2013, now I am sat with a gorgeous pink sapphire and diamond ring on my finger talking to my fiancé about our wedding in 2016

Toast to 2015. Didn’t think I would get here at one point and certainly didn’t think that I would be in the place I am in now

Things certainly CAN get better, no matter how long and black that tunnel may appear to be

The hidden losses that come with anorexia

So when you have anorexia, it’s just the weight you lose isn’t it? You know, anorexia is all about the weight. It is all about wanting to look like Miss X because she looks amazing and Miss Y because she is really skinny etc. That’s right isn’t it? That’s what anorexia is? It’s not a serious mental health issue that has the highest mortality rate than any other MH illness? It’s just about losing weight…

WRONG

Anorexia isn’t even about weight. In fact, I don’t think there should even be a weight criteria, because it’s not about that. Someone can have anorexia, but not be underweight. Anorexia is much more internal than that. I like to think of it as an iceberg. The physicality of someone with anorexia is the tip of the iceberg, but the real hard MAIN part of anorexia is below the surface. Somehow, as society, we have started using anorexia to describe someone’s weight: ‘oh, she looks anorexic’. That’s where it’s all wrong. This type of phrase takes away the real issues that people who have anorexia face.

For me, yes, I lost a lot of weight. I was, at times, very very unwell physically, but actually, for most part of my illness, I have just been that person that looks ‘naturally thin’. I have always tried to have a life outside of my illness and most of the time I have managed that, but actually I haven’t lived life to the full.

I will talk mostly about my last relapse as that is still very fresh in my mind and before then, I actually tricked myself into thinking I was fine, so it’s hard to remember specific details.

I have lost friends through my illness. This is not something that I ever intentionally set out to do. However, due to my anorexia, I was also very suicidal and self harming a lot. This resulted in me being in hospital a lot. I could never plan anything with anyone because I never knew when I would not be available, or I would be feeling too low do something. I guess this can be frustrating for people and I don’t blame them really. I hated not being a reliable friend. I also missed out on friends’ major celebrations: birthdays, engagement parties, weddings etc. Through losing contact with friends, I lost any confidence and self esteem I may have still had left. It was such a lonely place to be in and the loneliness and isolation fuelled the illness even more. A very vicious cycle.

I have missed out on the outside world. I lost the ability to keep up with what was going on. I missed the whole of the Olympics in 2012 because I was too wrapped up in my illness. I also had no idea what else was going on in the world. Getting back in touch with reality and the world was a massive challenge. I didn’t realise what I was missing out on until I tried to get it back again. Very scary to be so disconnected from everything but an illness.

While living through the worst that anorexia threw at me, I lost myself. I was a tiny shadow of myself physically, but I was still there. Just about. I lost my personality though. Entirely. Laura didn’t exist. I wasn’t able to think of anything but the illness. Not fun. As I entered my recovery this last time, I talked a lot about ‘creating Laura’ because if I am honest, being unwell for such a long time, I had no idea who I even was. I knew illness and nothing else. It had consumed me for such a long time that I didn’t even feel like a person anymore.

I lost my passion. I didn’t allow myself to feel happiness. If I felt happy, it was bad and I needed to feel pain. I stopped myself from dancing, which I absolutely loved. I was so lost in myself that I couldn’t feel that passion for it anymore. In my head, I could burn more calories in a gym class than in a dance lesson, especially if we were learning routines. So, I lost something that had once been the reason I fought so hard to keep afloat. It had always been my protective factor in keeping stable (ish).

I lost my family. I couldn’t feel love. I couldn’t see love. I lost the ability to keep those relationships going because I only had one relationship and that was with my illness. I didn’t know how to have any other relationships. The illness made me a difficult person to be around and I could see the strain it was putting on the family and how much I was hurting them. It made me feel guilty, which made me feel worthless and a bad person that no one would want to be around anyway. This resulted in more self destruction, which caused more pain, which caused more guilt, which caused more self detection…another cycle I found myself running around and around.

I lost so many things through anorexia.

I lost weight…

I also lost:
My friends
My family
My personality
My passion
My job
My ability to connect with the outside world
My drive and motivation

Losing those things had far far more impact on me than losing weight ever did…

Anorexia: it’s not just the weight you lose. It’s your life.

It’s interesting how the same thing can appear so differently depending on your mindset

It’s strange how sometimes something can be a trigger to you for a long time and then out of the blue, that thing is no longer a trigger and you get something much more positive or neutral from the experience. I don’t know how it happens as I guess if something is a trigger to me, then in order to safeguard myself, I avoid the situation/person/object so I don’t have to deal with the negative feeling/thought which follows the encounter.

So I am talking in riddles. I shall go to some specifics. The time that I relapsed badly into my eating disorder and ended up in hospital, I took daily or even bi-daily photos of myself to check what my body looked like. I guess I was obsessed with it, but didn’t think that at the time. I would constantly scrutinise these photos and title each one on my laptop with the amount of kilograms I weighed in it. I put them in date order so I could see my shrinking (or perceived growing) body daily. Having the photos in front of me allowed myself to be even more harsh; knit picking the tiny minuscule ‘imperfections’. I would also use them to fuel my illness. I would choose the one I looked fattest in and when I felt like I wanted to eat, I would torture myself with how disgustingly fat I looked in the picture and subsequently not eat or exercise or self harm in some other way to punish myself for being so horrible.

With these photos having so many negative connotations in relapse, I felt that I had to try to not look at them when I entered the unit. At first, I continued to take them in my phone, but then when I got a new phone, I turned my old one off and never turned it back on until maybe a few months a go. I saw these photos for the first time in near on 2 years. I opened up the first one and I got an instant heavy/sick feeling in my stomach. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was feeling, but one thing that I could identify was that the illness loved the photos and hated the body that I was sat in. I tortured myself with the photos, became obsessed with looking at them and inside I was thinking ‘I want to be like this again’. However, no negative action followed it and I shouted at myself to stop being so ridiculous and to close the folder down on my laptop which contained them. It was too early. Far too early to be looking back. The illness felt too strong. I felt scared actually that I would long for that. For some reason. I don’t really know what though.

I opened this folder again this morning and something really extraordinary happened. I took a huge risk as I remembered how it made me feel before. I took a deep breath and double clicked it. The first photo of me midst relapse took me by shock. That lady on the photo looked so sad. She looked empty. There was nothing to her. She smiled, but her smile was false. He eyes were sunken and her cheek bones jolted out of her face. It was like life had been sucked out of her body. I instantly felt sadness. This lady wasn’t me. I wanted to scoop her up, give her a hug and tell her everything would be ok. It saddened me to see someone looking so low and so lost. Throughout the next photos, these sunken features just got worse and worse. I got to the last photos before I was transferred from the acute ward to the EDU. Wow. I had to take a deep breath. How did this girl in the photos think she looked fat. I almost felt like I could break her through the screen. Fragile. So fragile. Her features were none existing. Her hip bones protruded out of her concave stomach and her ribs literally were a cage which was far too big for her skin. How could someone get like this? I wanted to cry for her. I had to remind myself that this girl was me and this is really what happened. This was how unwell I had got. This person on the photo was not someone else, it was me.

Speechless, but a sudden urge to fight so hard. I’ve had a tough week and things haven’t been going exactly to plan. Don’t get me wrong I’ve been doing, almost, what I need to be doing, but I do need to push myself again. I do NOT, repeat do NOT want to be anywhere near that again. It was sad to see what happened to me, but it no way did I feel like the illness was pushing me back to wanting it or thinking that there was nothing wrong with how I looked.

This is how I feel things have changed. I don’t always know the change has taken place as I see it gradually on a second by second basis. However, facing something that in the past caused me a lot of negative feelings, I can see the huge shift in my thinking. I took a risk, but it had to be done in order to see how I would react. Avoidance is not a long term solution to things that I am fearful of.

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart”

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart” – Kahlil Gibran

So I came across this quote this morning and ever since reading it, it has stuck with me and I have been thinking about it.

So, here goes!

It’s so true isn’t it? Beauty is not about looks. I mean, someone is said to be beautiful from a physical perspective, but then when they start talking or you get to know them, you can begin to see them as less beautiful if their personality doesn’t reflect their outside beauty. Beauty is something deep, but we don’t always, if ever, think in this way. I personally think, there is nothing more beautiful than a thoughtful, caring, compassionate person and the list could go on to many other great personal qualities. I could look at a stranger in the street and think that they’re attractive, but what if inside they’re not? It’s really not about looks. There are lots of celebrities who are said to be the prettiest, fittest, most attractive person etc, but lots of them are very unattractive internally. On the other hand, there are celebrities who get slated for their appearance when inside, they have a beautiful personality.

I don’t have the most beautiful face in the world (in my eyes), or the most attractive body (again, in my eyes) being covered in scars etc. BUT, I would hope that I have a beautiful, compassionate and warm personality. This comes onto the ‘in my eyes’ part of the above. Who defines beauty? We all have our own perceptions of what is beautiful, don’t we? What I may think is beautiful, someone else may disagree. So, beauty is always shown in the media as something that is set in stone, but it isn’t. People perceive different things/people as beautiful because we are all individual with our very own likes and dislikes. Depending on your own personality or past etc we all have our very own definitions of beauty.

For me, a beautiful personality makes someone beautiful, not their facial features, their height, build or anything else that other people may use to define beauty.

Thank you, Kahlil Gibran!

Restoring Laura

When it comes to recovery from an illness, people will assume that if, for instance they have anorexia, then recovery for them is all about, or mainly about, the food, weight and how they feel about themselves, perceive themselves etc. In the same way, recovery from depression would be elevating the mood. Obviously it is more complex than this, but I am just trying to put it in a nutshell because this is the foundation for this blog post.

Recovery for me and probably for others is a lot more complex than people first imagine. There is always the ‘oh, so you’re recovered now?’ when someone with anorexia has gained weight or someone with depression smiles at something. For me, recovery from my demons: Anorexia, Depression and Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) which was formally known as borderline personality disorder, or BPD was and is not just about recovering from my symptoms, it’s about discovering myself again. Discovering LAURA and who she is.

Being unwell for near on 10 years really takes the person out of their body. I completely lost who I was through my illnesses. I had no idea who I was. I didn’t know if the things that I was doing were things that Laura enjoyed or things that the illness liked. I remember feeling compelled to go to body pump classes and at the time I was like ‘yes, I LOVE body pump!!’ Actually no I didn’t and no I don’t! Body pump is a killer and I cried throughout some classes because I was in so much pain, so tired etc, but still went because I was ‘enjoying’ them. Anorexia enjoyed them, Laura certainly didn’t!

At the beginning of my illnesses, I could clearly distinguish between what was laura and what was the illness, but this didn’t last for long and as I became more unwell and it went on for longer, I became the illness and Laura was no longer present in anything. This went on for a long time, years actually, until I made that conscious decision to recover my life. It wasn’t just symptoms anorexia, depression and EUPD that I had to work on, I had to put a lot, if not all sometimes, of my effort into recovering myself as a person. Creating your identity has got to be one of the most difficult things to do. Of course you create your identity when you are growing up and that moulds throughout life, but for someone aged 25 to start trying to work out who they are, is really difficult. Trial and error, having self awareness, preparing to not always get it right and working towards a goal of ‘life’ when you aren’t really sure what that entails are all massive things to work through. Also, building up the confidence to be able to break away from my norms in life and try something different were also a massive challenge. I didn’t know where I was going to end up, I didn’t know how it would all go, but I put the work in to discover myself and I’m getting there. I would say there are still parts of myself that I’m not really sure what they are, but this is life. Life isn’t perfect or black and white. I’m sitting in a dark grey area and I love it. It wasn’t always comfortable, but life isn’t comfortable! Anorexia drives you to perfection, drives you to have to have control over your life which ends up being detrimental, but this isn’t reality is it?

So I’ve been on a journey. I am still on my journey and will be for the rest of my life as things change around me. However, I am confident that I am now Laura. Of course, illness wants to be part of me, but I am able to separate both again. There is me. There is illness. We are no longer tied together as one. She walks a few steps behind me now and it is bliss. Most of the time! Plus, I have the energy to run a little now and she can’t catch up! I feel like I have been in a complete circle. At 15 years old, I was Laura and only Laura. At 16, anorexia joined me and started walking behind. At 17, she was me. Laura got lost. Between 17 and 25, there was just illness. Laura was long gone. Now, at 26, Laura is back and plans on staying.

Hello world.

The positives of recovery

Recovery doesn’t come without it’s irrational moments, panic, anxiety, fear, ‘omg I can’t do this anymore moments’ etc. However, I have my feet firmly in recovery and, most of the time, I wouldn’t change it for the world. This blog is based around the things about being in recovery that I LOVE.

1) I get excited when I randomly decide I want a chocolate bar and subsequently win a free one. However, I then get too carried away with life and forget to redeem it!

2) I have the freedom to see my family whenever I want and I have the energy to do things with them eg play games with my nephew, niece, cousins etc

3) I have the motivation to do the above.

4) I love spending time with my family and, yes get anxious around food, but it doesn’t terrify me when someone offers me a biscuit with my tea or puts too much milk in my coffee. I’ll drink it, rather than irrationally freak out!

5) I can go out with family members and be the one to instigate getting something to eat/drink.

6) I can go out with friends and be the one to instigate getting something to eat/drink and not be full of fear when doing it.

7) I can plan my life, because I have the energy, motivation and space in my head to plan things, other than be thinking how I will get out of the next meal or be calculating how many calories I have consumed already and how many I have left.

8) I love that I can separate ME from anorexia. It makes me feel more free as a human being that I can have ME time in my day. She of course comes into it, but it’s not constant anymore.

9) I am saving a shed load of money by not having to buy diet coke/Pepsi max several times a day to perk me up instead of having something to eat. That stuff is expensive!! Not to mention the secondary expenses when you end up having loads of work done on your teeth due to the rubbish the put in it!

I’m a perfectionist. I would like 10 points in this blog for it to be a lovely round number. However, I like to challenge my perfectionism, so this blog has 9 points…

There are of course many other positives of recovery and don’t get me wrong, I’m sure anorexia thinks there are positives of staying unwell too, but Laura chooses recovery, hands down.

Dear Anorexia…

Dear Anorexia,

I believe we have some communication issues going on here. When did I ever give you the message recently that it was ok to come just into my life whenever you felt like it? I don’t appreciate you popping your ugly nose into my business. I have a life you know. A life that doesn’t involve you. I don’t want to be going into a supermarket doing what I need to do and you making it so difficult for me. What satisfaction do you get out of making things so tough. I have had enough of you. You should know this. You are so stubborn, it is unbelievable. I don’t have space in my life for you anymore. When I go into a shop for something, I don’t want you thinking you can mess win my head and make me walk out with nothing due to the pressure from you.

I HATE you so much.

I HATE that your stupid little ideas and thoughts are still in my head.

I HATE that it’s so much effort all of the time to fight you off.

I HATE that you’re so persistent.

When someone hates you so much, why do you want to be around them? I have no time for you. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am now. I have a long way to go, clearly. My head has changed though. I have life plans and you’re standing in the way. I don’t need or want you here. You have to move back. It’s unbearable with you being so close. I guess you would be happy if I listened to your stupid thoughts all the time and obeyed your every command, but I won’t. Never again. I did that for far too long and it got me nowhere at all. Now, you just cause me stress. You don’t cause me to restrict/fast, you just make getting food a million times harder. I won’t give up here ok? I’m in this for the long haul. You won’t win. All I’m asking is that you step off my back, slightly. I get tired of fighting you all the time and I wish you would give me a break. Even if only a tiny one. You’re tough to fight and I lose the energy to fight, so you win a little. This doesn’t last though so don’t get your hopes up. I come fighting back, but I would love it if you would take your horrible self a bit further way from me and my life because I don’t want you here anymore.

Please…

Go…

Laura

When you are guided by compassion and loving-kindness, you are able to look deeply into the heart of reality and see the truth

Things have changed so much, especially recently. However, don’t get me wrong, just because someone chooses to live their life instead of existing with anorexia, unfortunately it doesn’t mean that anorexia just says ‘oh ok, you don’t want me anymore? Sorry I will leave now. I didn’t realise that I outstayed my welcome’. Not that she was ever welcome in the first place.

So yes, I eat now and most of the time I ‘do what I need to do’ but it’s not always easy. In fact, it’s very rarely easy even if on the outside it looks like I am fine. I’m sure lots of people will be able to relate to this. To give people an idea about what I mean, I am going to let you all into my head a little bit. It may sound mad and will more than likely sound very irrational, but I’m an honest person and I really want to get across that even if people appear to be eating, appear to just be getting on with it and appear to look healthier, it’s a huge battle psychologically all the time. Recovery is certainly not the easy option.

So, it’s 7am in the morning and I’ve just got up. I go downstairs to get my morning coffee and someone asks if I would like them to make it. On the outside I say ‘ah yes please, thank you very much’. On the inside: ‘Watch her. Make sure she doesn’t put too much milk in it. Make sure it’s sweetener and not sugar. Keep watching. You shouldn’t have let her make it for you. She may put more milk in it than you would. You should have done it yourself or made an excuse or not had one at all’. Then comes: ‘You don’t want milk do you?’ ‘No, thank you’ I reply, even though I do normally. Anorexia pops back in: ‘See, think of those 20 calories you’ll skip now…’ Laura replies: ‘Yep, whatever. You’re right. How would I have coped with those extra 20 calories?!’

Irrational, irrational, irrational. *pokes anorexia in the eye balls*

Anorexia 1, Laura 0

I go upstairs to get ready, but I accidentally leave something downstairs that I need. Anorexia pipes in ‘oh look, think of those extra 2 calories you’ll burn by walking down and up the stairs again’. Yep, thanks for that information. That’ll make ALL the difference. Anorexia: ‘Yep it’s fab isn’t it. You’ve skipped 20 calories in your coffee and burnt an extra couple by using the stairs again’

Anorexia, please go away. For just a minute? I don’t want to listen to your irrational, stupid comments.

Anorexia 2, Laura 0

I get in the car to drive to the ward. Breakfast? No breakfast? Breakfast? No breakfast? Arghhhhh why is this decision so difficult?! Laura chooses breakfast. Anorexia has a hissy fit. ‘Why did you do that?! No one would have known if you had missed it? We have already saved 22 calories this morning. Stupid decision there, Laura’

Oh really anorexia? It’s like that is it? GO AWAY!!!

Anorexia 2, Laura 1 (pulling back slowly)

I get to the ward. It’s lunch time. We go to the canteen. Laura wants a double decker for dessert today. Anorexia puts up a fight and suggests a Crunchie instead. Yep, anorexia convinces Laura that those vital 65 calories I will save will be vital to living my life.

Anorexia 3, Laura 1

It’s afternoon snack. Actually anorexia, I’m not listening to you right now. Blah blah blah. I walk into Starbucks and order a cappuccino and a caramel shortcake. She’s had far too much fun today, time to pull back a point.

Anorexia 3, Laura 2

She tells me to go for a run. I tell her where to go and compromise by having a short, relaxing walk through the high street and buy myself something nice 🙂

Anorexia 3, Laura 3 (yes!!!)

However, she doesn’t like this. She doesn’t like the fact that she was in control and winning and throughout the day, I have pulled back. We are now drawing. She’s not happy though. She wants to win and will do everything to make this day at least 4:3 to her. I am equally as determined and stubborn though, but fighting every minute of every day is hard work. I feel like I don’t have the to fight her anymore for the rest of the day.

Dinner is small, but it did exist.

Anorexia and Laura both gain a point here. Anorexia chose what I had, but Laura chose to have something rather than nothing

Anorexia 4, Laura 4

Small steps. I don’t have perfect days. I have tough days. Being a healthier weight means that the rate of a successful vs a not so successful day is higher than before. Things are easier to fight when you have more energy and your brain can have nutrition rather than it all going to your other organs eg your heart to keep you alive.

Days aren’t normally a tie. I’d say anorexia wins a lot or at least has a say over most things. I normally answer back, but if I do go with what I want, then anxiety will rocket up. I do it physically, but at this moment in time in my recovery, I’m not always able to accept that it’s the best decision. I do it yes, but I doubt my decisions. Anxiety goes mad. My head races. BUT I do it and sometimes you just have to keep going through the motions and hope your head will catch up sooner rather than later…

Recovery is tough. Tiring. Worth it though.

The depression battle

My battle with depression has most certainly been both long and eventful. I was firstly diagnosed with anorexia just before my 17th birthday and approximately a year after this, I was diagnosed with depression as well. I tried to ‘just eat’ and pretend to everyone around me that I was fine, but inside I was screaming in emotional pain. In a bid to convince my family and friends that I was fine regarding my eating disorder, I pushed through the thoughts and smiled to fool my friends, family, but also myself. I felt ashamed that I had this illness and couldn’t cope with trying to recover when actually there were a lot of things that my eating disorder was providing me with to cope daily. Deep down, at this time in my life, I didn’t even want to recover and so grabbed at other behaviours including self harming to cope. I spiralled into a pit of depression and my life was being ran from my lonely, black tunnel with no other way out apart from out the other side which ultimately in my head, meant death. There were no glimmers of light in this tunnel at all. The only way was forwards, towards my suicide plan. I spent the next few years until my 25th birthday planning my suicide, taking multiple overdoses to try to succeed, being dragged from tops of car parks and cliffs screaming that I had made a rational decision to die and everyone was just “standing in my way”.

I used to get annoyed at people who said they just had a lightbulb moment when they decided that they wanted to live. I now think that this is the case sometimes. I lost my best friend to anorexia in 2013 and from there I felt like I had a purpose to fight, in the beginning solely to make her proud. However, as the months went on, I found enough mental and physical energy to fight for ME because I, Laura, wanted a life outside of mental illnesses and was determined enough to do everything I needed to get that. I am now able to say though, that restoring my physical health through gaining control over my eating disorder has certainly aided me in coping with living my hectic, but exciting, life.

Now, I have planned a luxurious holiday away with my boyfriend which I am really looking forward to. I have a place secured at university to study a post graduate diploma in mental health nursing and I am slowly battling my demons hourly and winning! I use a lot of mindfulness to cope with stresses and to be honest, sometimes just humour gets me through some days. Also my passion to pursue a career helping others, now I have helped myself, aids me to battle through the tough times, which of course a lot of people experience. I’ve been able to get back to dancing, ballroom and latin, which helps immensely as in the early stages of my illness, I would keep myself well, to an extent, to dance. Dancing allows me to be carefree and express myself through music and movement.

I have tough days. I have good days. I can admit though that choosing to fight is the hardest decision I have had to make, but it is most definitely worth every tiny battle.