Medication

At the start of the year, I agreed with my psychiatrist to go on medication to assist with my mental health. At the time I was terrified and unsure of what to think, I had always been so against medication, but at that point, it just felt like I was hitting a wall and nothing was helping. I went on antidepressants for my depression and mood stabilisers to help me sleep at night. The first few weeks on this medication was a nightmare, what they sometimes don’t tell you is that sometimes in the first two weeks of going on medication you can become more depressed before it starts to work, and boy was that true! So, I went into a deeper depression than I thought I was before and then thought there was no hope for me now, not even medication can fix me.

Slowly I did see some benefits of the medication, I was able to sleep at night without waking up throughout, my mind wasn’t as clouded as before, and I could have clearer thoughts.  Of course, it has had its downsides, one being the very low sex drive which isn’t always great in a relationship but I am lucky I have a very supportive partner! Another thing has been that my mouth is always dry and I need to drink a lot more water than before, which could also be a good thing, I am now always very hydrated! It has meant I have not been able to consume alcohol, most of my friends understood this and were completely accepting of the fact that I could not, but it did fracture some relationships because I couldn’t go out and get wasted. Not that I went out a lot before and drunk a lot all the time, but while I have not been drinking at all I have got used to it and quite like it, I realised that I don’t need to get wasted to have fun and have a good time. When I was in a very dark place in my life when I did go out I would sometimes drink way too much, and that’s how I thought you had a good time, but now I have learnt there are other healthier ways.

I did expect the medication to make me better straightway and was confused when my anxiety was still around and I was still depressed. I for some reason had this rosy idea that my anxiety and depression would somehow just disappear once I started taking the medication. But that it is not true, it has helped lower my anxiety and improved my depression but I still have down days and can get anxious over different situations. I realised that the medication is there to assist as a tool for me to get better, but it is my own hard work that has seen me recover not the medication. At the start, I thought I owed it all to the medication for my improvement and didn’t give myself any credit for all the hard work and effort I had been putting in.

My psychiatrist now would like me to start going off my medication in December slowly, I didn’t realise how scary and anxiety provoking that would be for me. When she told me this, I did go home and cried because I was so scared I would go back into a relapse and be how I was before. It took a lot for me to realise that it has not just been the medication that has helped me get to this point. It has been myself as well wanting to get help, going to therapy regularly making changes and practising skills to improve my mental health. Yes, the medication-assisted when I was in a very low point in my life, but it does not deserve all the credit for how well I have been going.

To anyone out there who is going through their mental health journey, on medication or not remember to give yourself more credit for everything you have been doing for yourself, it is a lot of hard work to go through recovery, and you deserve to be recognised!

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Follow YOUR dreams not others

Just last month I made the big decision to drop out of my master’s course, past halfway through the semester with one assignment left. Why would I do this you ask? Because I realised it was not what I wanted in my heart to do, I had this empowering moment where I realised I wasn’t studying for me but studying to prove to other people that I was smart and capable. I would love to go back to study again someday, but I want to study something that I want to do not what I think will make others impressed. My whole life has been about trying to impress others and prove to them I am worthy, but I forgot to impress that most important person myself. I have been so caught up trying to please people and show them how smart I am that I forgot to stop and reflect on if this is what I want to be happy or is this what I want because it will make people think highly of me. I need to reevaluate my whole life goals now because I don’t know if what I was aiming for is what I wanted. Even down to my job aspirations, I had job positions I wanted, and I purely wanted them because I thought they would make me look better and people would think highly of me.

I could have finished off the last unit, but I quite honestly did not have it in me to complete it, and I kept wondering what was stopping me from doing the last assignment and I realised it was the fact that I quite honestly did not want to do it and wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. For the first time in my life, I listened to myself and trusted my gut instincts which told me to leave.

I used to think you receive love through achievements, but this is not true, I now know my mother and loved ones will have love for me no matter what. I used to think all my achievements would make people love me more but it doesn’t.

I now need to work out what my next steps in life are; I am looking at completing an eating disorder recovery coaching course in the next few years once I am fully recovered. I am not sure what my life will hold for me right now, but I now know I will be focusing on what I want to make myself happy in life.

Saying goodbye to the gym!

After much thought, I recently decided it was time for me to cancel my gym membership and no longer return to the gym. I love to exercise and have been incredibly active most of my life and can see the benefits of physical activity for mental health. However, I have recently been thinking whether the gym or the gym I attend in particular is a healthy place for my mental health.

For starters they provide scales, and for many people, this may seem like a regular thing to have in a gym and a way to track the progress you have made. However, for someone who is recovering from an eating disorder, it can be so tempting to weigh yourself every time you go to the gym and can trigger that need for weight loss at any cost. When I attended the gym, I would often observe women weighing themselves before and after exercise, and I found myself following in this routine as it became the norm at the gym I went to. I also noticed that the fact the machines count the calories you are burning was extremely triggering for my eating disorder because I would spend a ridiculous amount of time on a machine in an attempt to see how much I could burn off and putting my physical health at risk in the process. I would like to question why the machines do need to count the calories we burn, for me it does highlight the notion that the gym is designed purely for weight loss and does not have other purposes such as going out of enjoyment or for your mental health.

Further, the gym also promoted weight loss challenges, which again can be seen fine for some people, but I would like to highlight that personal health should not be a competition, and these challenges can be extremely dangerous for some individuals. These challenges run the risk of people comparing their bodies to others who may have lost more which I found myself doing, and nowhere within these challenges did the gym mention that we all have different bodies and therefore will have completely different progress! It was evident to me that I was only going to the gym to lose weight and therefore enabling my eating disorder to linger inside.

Moreover, the gym I attended was quite big on helping women get their perfect body mainly when summer was coming up, and it would be all about getting that bikini body ready (or as I like to say bikini body bullshit). There was this massive emphasis from the class instructors, the personal trainers and everyone there that there was only one perfect body which was petite and toned all over, which is not at all wrong if someone has that body or works towards that, but not everyone wants or can have that perfect body, but we are told that we do want that body, and that’s the only “healthy” body, which becomes quite confusing! We were given only one example of what a healthy body looks like, and it can become disheartening when you feel like you do not look like that perfect body and that’s when it can trigger unhealthy behaviours for people and enable eating disorders.

I will still be exercising but doing alternative things now, such as running, going for walks and joining yoga classes. Exercise should not be about trying look the best or fitting into what society says is attractive and perfect; exercise should be about making ourselves feel good and being healthy. I am not saying that no one should go to the gym and that if you do you are wrong, but I have accepted for myself that it is just not the place for me mentally; however it may be the place for others who have had an entirely different experience.

 

A real neat blog award

 

 

So I was nominated for the real neat blog award by the fantastic Ida, thank you so much you made my week. I was swamped last week and have only just got around to doing this all now so sorry! If you haven’t already definitely go and check out Ida’s blogs she does amazing stuff!

https://aroundthewardin80days.wordpress.com/

The Rules:

  1. Put the award logo on your blog.
  2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)
  1. Where does your blog’s name come from?

I was a bit unsure of what to call it; I tried to brainstorm for a few days I wanted something that highlighted my story of recovery through an eating disorder. So I decided with recovery journey because to me recovery is a journey that never stops it’s a journey that’s going to have highs and ups but its all a learning experience.

  1. What made you want to start blogging?

I started blogging to help me express myself and keep an account of my recovery journey, and since starting I have realised the impact that I can make on other people, and that has been the best part. Being able to develop content that not only makes me happy but also may help someone else is such a great feeling.

  1. Have you written stuff for fun before your blog?

I tried to start a blog a few years ago when I was a bit younger but did not stick to it, this time with all my passion with mental health I am determined to keep this running.

  1. What’s your favourite or ‘favourite’ post?

My favourite post would be my blog on “the I wish I had an eating disorder”, eating disorders is something that I am very passionate about particularly when it has the highest mortality rate out of any mental illness in Australia. That post empowered me to start pushing for change and do what I can to make a difference in my community.

  1. The best comment you’ve ever received?

I haven’t received any comments on my blog, but I do receive a lot of support from Twitter and Instagram I cannot think of one specific one, but I do appreciate it all!

 

  1. Is there something you’d like to try with your blog in the future?

I am actually really interested in working with other people and doing collaborations with others in the future, so if you are interested hit me up! Haha

  1. What’s your favourite dinosaur?

I had to research dinosaurs to find one, but I have decided with Dilophosaurus, why did I choose this you ask? One because I have no idea how to pronounce it and two google it, it’s so ugly it’s cute!

This is so hard but here are the questions for the nominees (I did steal some ideas for questions from Ida):

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Besides blogging do you have any other passions?
  3. Favourite animal?
  4. Where would you like to see your blog going in the future?
  5. If you had to read the same book for the rest of your life which one would it be?
  6. What have been the most enjoyable aspects of blogging for you?
  7. Favourite thing to blog about?

My nominees are:

https://www.daisyandthyme.com/

https://alifecrisiswithcharlotte.wordpress.com/

https://bitingback.blog/

https://mentalhealtharrior97.wordprwess.com

https://brutalhonestyblogger.wordpress.com/

The “I wish I had an eating disorder”

“I wish I had an eating disorder”, or “I have tried so hard to have an eating disorder” are just some things I have heard from people and even friends, and it has made me wonder lately why eating disorders seem to be so glamourized when I know the truth, and it is far from glamorous. I am not angry at friends and individuals for saying these things, but it does make me so concerned that there are people out there wishing they could have this life. I think the media is partly to blame for this, people with eating disorders are often presented in the media as young underweight females with this magical ability to restrain from food. Often the media forgets to highlight that a lot of people with eating disorders are actually at an average weight or can be overweight, they can also be from a different gender, and it can affect different age groups. The media does not highlight that eating disorders are a mental illness that can affect anyone, and when you have one it can become one the darkest periods in your life, I would not wish an eating disorder upon anyone.

In Australia eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of any other mental illness, is that something people want? There are so many people out there who have no idea about eating disorders and think it’s a lifestyle choice, which it is not. This is not something I woke up one day and decide to do; this is a deeply rooted mental illness. This does highlight for me that there needs to be higher awareness in the media about the true extent of an eating disorder, as well as developing early intervention education programs within schools that educate young people on what exactly an eating disorder is.

For those who do not know, there are serious health risks that come with having an eating disorder.  My immune system is so low currently that I get sick instantly, and when I get a common cold it’s not a typical few days still able to function cold, I become very seriously ill which means taking time off work and missing out on social events. Something a little too TMI but should be told is that you screw up your bowels when you have an eating disorder, I become so constipated at times I have been in tears from the amount of pain and discomfort I was experiencing. I also lost my periods for a while and was told I had increased my risk of infertility, and as you get older this becomes a scary thing when you start to plan your future and consider the possibility of children and realise you may have ruined your chances. Due to the constant vomiting over the years I often get tonsillitis frequently throughout the year and have a severely sore throat a lot of the time, I have had an infected mouth and throat which was not pleasant. By the age of 21, I had my first tooth removed, and have been paying a ridiculous amount of money to try and save the rest of my back teeth.  Other people with eating disorders suffer from the ruptured oesophagus, stomach and intestinal ulcers and can develop osteoporosis. Moreover, people who suffer from an eating disorder can also have irregular heartbeats increasing the chances of heart failure, and can also be at risk of kidney failure. Above all, the most significant risk of an eating disorder is death, which scares me so much when I hear people wishing they could have an eating disorder while individuals are dying from the illness.

I could never imagine myself saying I wish I could have depression or I wish I could have anxiety, so why do people think it is acceptable to say they wish they had an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a mental illness that absolutely crushes an individual’s self-esteem and confidence. It becomes an obsession and a means of control for people, it becomes someone’s life and energy and becomes utterly exhausting trying to control it. Eating disorders are so much more than wanting to lose weight; it is a mental illness that takes that lives of so many people. So please do not wish you had an eating disorder, because it is not fun or glamorous, it is incredibly lonely and debilitating for people.

Being open with the ones you love about your mental health

I decided this year to be completely open with the closest people in my life about my struggles with my mental health, this wasn’t a decision I decided overnight, and it took a lot for me to tell everyone what is going on. Like many other individuals who have a mental illness, there is a lot of shame that comes with it, and there was this fear for me that I would burden people if I told them or if they knew I was struggling. Although there was a lot of fear and anxiety around telling everyone, I am so happy I did, I felt like for the first time in my life I was transparent with how I felt. For so long I have tried to hide my real emotions and pretend like everything was fine, and I can handle everything, it honestly felt like a significant weight off my shoulders when I finally opened up. It did come with it the revelation that this has been something I have been struggling with for years. My friends were shocked that I had kept so much to myself, there is, of course, things they knew, or they saw me struggling but were unaware to the extent of how badly I was struggling.

Since being honest with my loved ones I have had a fantastic support system from all of them, and it has been beneficial in helping me on those days that I feel like just quitting and going back to old behaviours. I will be honest it can be overwhelming having so many people worried about you and checking in on you and making sure you eat, but it’s so much better than being alone with my eating disorder and depression. Having people in your life supporting you through your recovery can make a difference, I feel like by having people in my life know what I am going through, I am taking power away from my eating disorder that thrived on secrecy and lies. I am now reclaiming my power back without my eating disorder in my life with the help and support of my loved ones.

The hardest person to tell was my mum; I tossed up for ages whether I should tell her or not and how too precisely to tell her. The reason I found it so difficult to decide whether to tell my mum was that she has and continues to experience her own mental illness, and I was concerned at how she may react and if it may upset her. My mum is going through her own recovery and is in a great place right now, but I was still concerned about putting too much on her while she goes through the motions of her own recovery. Another reason I found it difficult to tell my mum was because when I was 17, I tried to seek help for my eating disorder. However unfortunately at the time, there was not as much talk and information on eating disorders and mental health in general, so my mum did not understand at the time I had a problem because I looked fine and I appeared healthy. I do not blame my mum for how she reacted to the situation it was not her fault she was not given the resources to understand mental health and eating disorders back then, but it did discourage me and make me worried that I would not be taken seriously again. Ultimately though I did decide to tell my mum because I thought she deserved to know, and I also thought it was important that she sees more to me than just her happy put together daughter. In my family, I am the strong one who keeps everything together, and I thought it was important for my mum to see that I am not always strong and can be broken at times as well. It was really hard to open up to my mum and explain to her what is going on, but I am glad I did, I think with my mum now experiencing her own mental health issues it has made her more open and understanding to mental health and the struggles that come with it.

I have no regrets about telling the ones closest to me about my struggles with mental health, the only regrets I have is that I did not do it sooner and I tried to do it on my own when I had people around me ready to support me. By being more open about my mental health, it has stripped a lot of the shame I was carrying around for years about suffering from a mental illness and has encouraged me to speak openly not only to the people closest to me but also the whole of society and challenge how we view mental illnesses. I would not be ashamed for having a broken leg so I should not be ashamed for suffering from a mental illness, this is something I am still learning to do, but it feels so empowering to slowly throw away that shame and embrace my experiences.

I deserve to be helped

On Thursday I went and visited a dietitian for the first time, as you could imagine there were a lot of different feelings around going, I was feeling nervous, anxious, scared and I was a little excited as well. I was excited at the thought of taking another step in my recovery, however, I was scared of the unknown and what I may have to do. I then had a scary thought, and thought am I ready to get better? And I said to myself my eating disorder may not be ready but I am as ready as ever to fight my hardest to recover and become the best version of myself.

Part of my fear was that the dietitian would judge me, of course, this was stemming from the judgement I put on myself and expecting everyone else to see me in the same light. I also had a fear that I did not look “sick enough” to get help, this is something that I have struggled with a lot, and it definitely played out when I was preparing to go to see the dietitian. All the thoughts in my head started to race, am I sick enough to get help, am I worthy to get help, do I deserve to get help, will they believe me when I look fine on the outside. I started to think how sick do I have to get until I believe I deserve help, and I realised that if I wait till I am sick enough in my mind to get help it may be too late for me. So my answer was yes, I do deserve to get help and I am worthy to be helped, my sickness may not always be visible but I feel it every single day and I don’t deserve for it to worsen nor does anyone else going through a similar situation.

Quite often within in our society when we think of someone with an eating disorder we generally think of a girl who is severely underweight, and although this is the case for some people it is not the experience of everyone with an eating disorder and definitely was not for me. Because I also had this preconceived notion of what someone with an eating disorder looks like it really fed into my fear that I was not sick enough for help, I did not look the part of someone who was suffering from an eating disorder in my mind which really prevented me from seeking help for a long time. In reality, though I may look ‘healthy’ on the outside, however, my doctor has brought to my attention the damage I have been doing to the inside of my body. It is a really scary thought to think of the damage you may be causing to the inside of your body because it is not something you can see or look at every day and physically see for yourself what you are causing.

I’m now learning to get rid those preconceived ideas of what someone with an eating disorder looks like because honestly, anyone of any sex, race, age and body type could experience an eating disorder, and we all deserve to seek help and have our stories heard no matter who we are. We need to stop seeing eating disorders as a lifestyle choice or physical attribute and start viewing it as a mental illness that requires support regardless of what you look like. I have been so sick for so long but was convinced I was fine because I wasn’t underweight and no one could see how sick I was getting not even myself. That’s how dangerous eating disorders can be, like other mental illnesses they can be invisible and linger within people for many years without anyone around you even noticing.

So I am going to say this loud and clear, there is no such thing as being not sick enough to seek help! If you are suffering from an eating disorder but like me don’t think you look sick enough, please ask yourself how sick do you have to get before you believe you deserve help. Remember that you deserve to get help and are worthy of being helped regardless of how sick you think you are. Don’t wait for your eating disorder to get worse to get help, because you have no idea what damage you could already be doing to your body without you even knowing.