To medicate or not to medicate?…that is the question

The topic of whether medication is the correct way to address depression is controversial. People seem to attach a negative stigma to seeking help through medication, as if by not tackling depression alone you are somehow weaker. This is simply not true. Whilst I agree that medication cannot be the sole treatment for any form of mental illness, there is absolute proof that it really can make a difference.

Of course, the use of medication really does need to go hand in hand with therapy, as mental illness is exactly what it says on the tin…within the mind. It is essential to get inside our own minds and really pick at what it means to be in our heads, what our flaws are, what drives us, and what needs to change in order to be positive and healthy. Whether this be in the form of meditation, CBT or simply talking and voicing your thoughts, therapy is healthy, it’s positive, and its a step towards a new mindset.

For me personally, I have done the therapies and used them to my advantage (not always, I resented talking and trying for a long time), ultimately leading me to be the person I am today. I have tried CBT, hypnotherapy, meditation, holistic therapists, healers, talkers, relationship counsellors…you name it. I’ve been helped of course by all of these individuals who have shared their advice with me, and now I am lucky enough to be in a place where I don’t feel I need to speak to anyone anymore. I do use this blog as a sort of therapist now, with freedom to express myself, my thoughts and feelings and the ability to read back on who I used to be yesterday, as I grow into the person I am supposed to be tomorrow.

Despite this, I possibly may not be here today without my medication. I do feel that there is such a negative attitude towards the use of antidepressants. The truth is, the use of a small white pill does not make you weak, it actually makes you strong. It means you stepped up and asked for help. It means you’re giving in to the fact that you can’t simply “fix” everything. It also is not a ball and chain attached to your ankle forever, it doesn’t mean that when you start you can’t stop. It’s an extra boost in your time of need.

The use of antidepressants doesn’t come without it’s negatives, and its a big decision to start taking them. Side effects, memory loss, weight gain…these are some of the negatives that people discuss in relation to these medications: Article regarding negatives of antidepressants. Will they help? Will they make things worse? The thing we need to remember, is that there are negatives in putting anything into your body – one week we’re told bananas are brilliant for you, the next they give you cancer, too much fat is bad for you, too much water can make you unwell etc etc. The other thing to remember is that the use of these medications is only appropriate when advised by your doctor, and should never be abused.

My personal experience is one of positivity. I have been on antidepressant medication since I was 15 years of age, and now being 23, I have been able to see objectively how they have changed my life over a period of time. How do I know they have made an impact? Well, I no longer want to end my life, which is a massive indication! I am less irritable, more out going, more positive, more able, I have more get up and go, I have more energy. I notice when I don’t take my meds for a few days, either through forgetting or through running out of my prescription. I become irritable, fidgety, lethargic, emotional, aware of a deep sense of sadness, lazy and uninterested. These are all the traits I used to have everyday prior to my medication. I find myself feeling more balanced on my medication and more able to face life. My antidepressants work on my mood and also my anxiety, allowing me to lead a more stress-free life, balancing me out to be a more capable individual.

Never be influenced by the stigma attached to taking medication for your mental illness. Remember it takes bravery to step up and ask for help in any form. Be brave. You are not confined by your illness, use every stepping stone available to get yourself back on track.

What are your experiences with antidepressants? Are you for or against? 

Just be an adult already!! 

Something happened over the past few years. It happened when I wasn’t looking. I was no longer a child, I was no longer bound by the rules of my parents, with nobody to answer to. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going, what I was doing or what time I would be back. I became an adult. 

What age does this even truly happen? Growing up, we seem to believe we’re “adults” by the time we’re 16, 18, 21. It’s a subjective theory in all honesty, something that is relative to life experience. I definitely remember feeling fairly adult at the age of 12, battling with what I saw to be “grown-up” depressive moods and thoughts, protecting myself from my aggressive step father and dealing with my ongoing internal monologue. That felt fairly adult to me. But in reality, it was a young girl, a very lost one at that, dealing with a world of adults who showcased very negative thoughts, emotions and relayed them onto my vulnerable brain. 

Now, at 23 years of age, I live in my own house with my partner, I’m studying for my degree, I’m learning to be my own person as I expect to do for the entirety of my life. I’m an enthusiast for the world, for travel, for work, for learning and for growth. I love to write. I love to walk. I am an adult. So why do I still feel as if those strings have not been cut from my childhood. I still feel like I need guidance, I still feel as if I need to answer to someone. And I still feel as if I need to cling to my childhood in order to be carefree. 

What I do that counteracts the fact that I’m an adult?

  • Everything I do I seek gratification from someone, somewhere 
  • If I have a sick day from work, I validate the fact that it is ok with a parent, my partner, or family and friends 
  • I explain every decision I make 
  • I justify myself constantly 
  • I live to please others 
  • I still feel unfulfilled, as if being a child allowed me to do more (that ironically I never seemed to take advantage of) and that adulthood results in not being able to really “live”
  • Living in a messy house – expecting someone else to clean it for me 

Why do I do this? 

  • Being an adult was always a negative thing in my younger life – adults were harsh and scary and violent and unpredictable 
  • I care what people think far too much 
  • I seek validation as I am still unsure in my own ability to decision make 
  • I have convinced myself that adult hood means working, paying bills and being unfulfilled 
  • I have a warped view of what being an independent truly means 

How could I step into my adulthood like I mean it? 

  • I need to consistently remind myself that adulthood is just a theory – it’s a concept that simply means I’m older. 
  • Remind myself that adulthood is not scary and it doesn’t mean that I have become a reflection of the adults I knew in my childhood 
  • Remember that it doesn’t change who I am – I’m still a big kid 
  • Don’t allow the concept of being grown up take away my dreams – it doesn’t mean the time frame has gone, it simply means I can choose when, where and why 
  • To learn that whilst pleasing people is ok, it shouldn’t be at the detriment of pleasing myself 
  • Remember that I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m my own person 
  • Believing in any decision that I make 
  • Keeping a tidy house in order to keep a tidy mind. 
  • Helping myself to help myself 
  • Staying in touch with my inner child and allowing myself to play and have fun 
  • Laugh more – laughing and being silly isn’t confined to being a child 
  • Working on my thoughts on what an adult is – not seeing adulthood as boring bill paying, as realistically, it changes nothing. 

I’ve got some great things to work on this summer! 

How do you live authentically in the concept of being an adult? 

3 Days of Demons: Day 1

Happy Tuesday everybody. I’ve had a busy couple of weeks, with 14 days work and university making me feel extremely tired and out of touch with everyone in my life. With things that have been going on, I feel like I’m learning more about myself everyday, and I have decided to do another series of posts, much like my “5 ways” posts a few months ago.
Over the next 3 posts I will be opening up my scrutiny of myself and my behaviours and trying to get to grips with what is going on in my subconscious. In my “3 days of demons” posts, I will be choosing a different behaviour or thought process everyday, as I try and decipher why I behave in certain ways and how I can potentially grow to change them.
It’s, in my experience, vital to be able to accept and understand your subconscious behaviours and thought processes if you stand any chance of changing them and growing. And that’s what I want to do.

I no longer want to be stuck in old patterns and to be confined by the walls of my past. And this is my attempt to do so.
So welcome to my 3 days of demons posts, and welcome inside my brain.

I would love to hear back from you all, and to try and help you understand your demons and thought processes that you would like to change.

3 days of demons day 1: My own worst enemy.

I am my own worst enemy.

How do I know this?

  • I set ridiculously high expectations for myself, and then proceed to beat myself up and punish myself when I don’t reach them. For example, in my current degree, I want to achieve 100% on every piece of work I submit. Now for a degree, with a broad range of subjects covered and assignments that are open to interpretation, this is not always attainable. With every piece of work I submit I do work my hardest, I set aside a lot of time to complete them and I really do strive for the best. In one of my most recent pieces based on the anatomy and physiology of a dog, I got 68%. This is a pass..but not a distinction (It is 2% away in fact). And in my mind I had failed. I felt really disappointed in myself, and like a failure as I had set an expectation that I can be gaining the best of the best all the time.
  • I compare myself to others far too often – why don’t I go on as many holidays as they do? Why don’t I look like that? Why can’t I be good at that? Why can’t I have those clothes? Again, at university recently we had to sit an exam. When I got my results back I was thrilled to gain 94%…until I heard that someone else in the group got 99%. I was really upset with myself. At what stage is it acceptable to be upset with 94%??
  • I get irritable and frustrated and become aware that I need to be alone to wait it out…but I still surround myself with people I love and end up snapping at them.
  • I have far too much belief and hope that others will behave the way I would, and look to myself as the reason why they are not. I punish myself and question my own morals when people let me down. I don’t believe in who I am.
  • I often convince myself I am ugly, unattractive, over weight and that I hate my body – yet I do nothing to fix this.
  • I am often in fear of fear itself. I can be more than confident about going to an event, or doing something with my family etc, until I remember that I’m not a normal person in a normal brain. That negative voice in my head steps to centre stage and reminds me what a panic attack feels like, and I live in fear of having another one.

These are just a few examples of how I am, or can be, my own worst enemy. Particularly the events related to my degree have recently made me question why I beat myself up so often and am so quick to punish myself for not fulfilling the vision of perfection that I seem to want to be.

How can I fix this?

I definitely need to understand why I seek perfection all the time, perhaps due to the fact that I wanted attention from my parents at a younger age and as I was never sporty I needed to gain their acceptance through my grades and being perfectly behaved. I need to remind myself that others cannot be controlled and I am not responsible for their behaviour – if somebody upsets me or acts in a negative way towards me, this does not take away from me as a person, and it doesn’t change that I am a good person. I need to continually appreciate what I have in my own life, instead of looking at the things that others have, and wanting the things that I don’t need or that aren’t good for me, in the face of needing to be this perfect vision again. I need to learn that “stuff” does not define me. What others have does not mean they are happy. I do not need to be like anyone else, I just need to be me!

I need to reassure myself when I look in the mirror that I am beautiful, because I am me. And I shouldn’t need anyone else to tell me that in order for me to believe it. I shouldn’t seek acceptance for the way I look from anyone else other than the mirror. I should be happy that I have a body that works and functions, as many people don’t. I also need to remind myself that 9.5 stone is not overweight. Whilst I am bigger than I’ve ever been before, that is because I am in a good place with my eating disorders and manage to eat in 9.9 out of 10 situations now. My eating habits are better because I am happier and surely thats more important than a few extra pounds around the stomach?! And if I really want to make a change, I need to stop making excuses and get in the gym, get out in the fresh air or on my bike and get that weight off me!!

I need to spend more time reaffirming the positive voice in my head, and being able to quieten the negative one, before she takes her place in the drivers seat. I need to continue to choose to live a life of happiness and not slip back into old habits because they feel like comfortable old clothes, because the thing is they are not beneficial to me, and they lead me to unhappiness.I need to allow myself to be alone, and to take a breath before I snap at those around me who just want to show me love. I need to remember that at the end of the day, there is only me, I am the only person I can truly rely on, and therefore that person should be the best that she can be, not perfect, not a vision of a billboard or a perfectionist society, but the truest form of “me” that I can be, and someone who is truly happy in their own skin. That’s all I need. I need to support myself, congratulate myself on my successes and appreciate that a success is not defined by 100% perfectionism, but instead it is continuing to try, to use resources, to test yourself and to be better than the person I was yesterday.

As of today, I am my own best friend. Goodbye to enemies.

 

How to build your self-esteem

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the status of my self esteem. Am I truly comfortable in my own skin? Or do I just tell myself that I am, and push it to the back of my mind, hoping that nothing comes to fruition that proves me wrong?

What do I think self-esteem is? I believe self-esteem to be the alliance between loving yourself, appreciating yourself and respecting yourself. I see self-esteem as being comfortable in your own skin, being able to tackle anything that life throws at you, and feeling strong and in control. I see those with good self-esteem as being proud to be who they are, strong in their beliefs, and content with themselves and those around them.

What is it really? What is it’s definition? The dictionary definition of self-esteem: selfesteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self.

How do I show good self-esteem? I think I know my own mind, I can be very self-aware, and as my blog shows, I am learning to be congratulatory of my successes and focus less on my weaknesses or mistakes. I am beginning to feel just as worthy of all the good in the world as every body else. I am learning each and every day to feel more confident in my own skin – to wear what I like, to be able to leave the house without being plastered in makeup, and to be content with the person I am on the inside, which is kind, caring and loyal.

How do I show I lack it? At times, I still struggle to be the confident, self-loving person that I so truly want to be. I can sometimes feel inferior in the company of outgoing, loud people and this can sometimes make me retreat into my shell. I sometimes notice that others are more comfortable in their own skin than I am, and this makes me envious. I can be too quick to point out my flaws and not my successes with much more focus on the negative. My mind can continually beat itself up over genuine and unintentional mistakes.

What do I think caused my self-esteem issues? I believe that the majority of my negative behavioural patterns, including my battle with self-esteem, stems from my childhood. I wasn’t shown enough love and affection and attention from my parents, I saw things that a child shouldn’t have to see, I wasn’t complete, I didn’t know myself or how to conduct myself, and this relayed into adulthood. I was thrust from counsellor to counsellor, none of which actually helped me – which led me to the belief that nobody could help me because I didn’t deserve it. My depression spiralled my low self-esteem deeper and deeper into a pit of self-loathing, which ultimately led to suicidal thoughts and self harm. I had no respect for my body, or my mind. And no sense of worthiness or deservingness. I had no sense of control over myself, and simply was lost in my own little bubble. Every step I took in the wrong direction worsened my self-belief, or lack thereof.

My experiences with low self-esteem: We’ve all been there, we’ve all felt lower than low, hating our appearance, our lives our jobs, our hair, amongst all the other things there is for us to dislike about ourselves. I have felt, even now in my current training position, not good enough to be doing a job, not clever enough, not worthy enough, not physically fit enough, just not enough.  And feeling not enough for something or someone is a miserable place to be. It turns into self-hatred, self-loathing and deep seated anger with yourself. I have struggled to build my self-esteem since I was a young girl, bullied at school, struggling with anxiety, depression and eating disorders, and trying to work out who I was. I have felt unable to cope, broken and unworthy of being fixed. Even in my counselling life, I have had some turbulence with my self-esteem and I share with you one memory of a particularly bad experience. I remember one particularly low point in my life when I was seeing a counsellor who specifically dealt with relationships – with family, with friends and with lovers – to try and break down this cocoon of so-called “safety” I had wrapped myself in that involved no trust, lots of aggression and fear and ultimately, to conquer these issues and become more positive and trusting in all relationships in my life. This was my goal anyway.  I went in to the therapy room which is, as I’m sure any of you who have experienced therapy, really quite daunting.  I sat down with a clear intention, and a good level of self-esteem and self-belief, in the mindset that I was here, I was proud of myself for taking the step, and I could overcome these issues I was facing.  When I began to explain my life story, this woman made me feel small. She made me feel small using her body language, her words, and her mannerisms. My self esteem immediately had been sucked out of me. This woman told me, in her own words, that I would never find love, and I would never find happiness and get rid of my anger. At this point I felt I had nowhere to turn – even the professionals were telling me I was no good, I was broken! I felt totally unworthy – someone else was confirming my worst fears, someone with a qualification! It took around 2 years for my self-esteem and self-belief to start building up after that, after seeing a new counsellor.

How has low self-esteem affected my life? Due to low self-esteem I have avoided social situations, lived a life of total exclusion and seclusion whereby I have not had any exciting experiences or made memories. Low self-esteem has assisted my eating disorders – my view of my body and hatred of it making me feel I had to starve myself or make myself sick. I have been to the depths of depression and self-hatred, and ultimately, it has aided my self-harm and suicidal thoughts too.

I no longer want low self-esteem to be an issue in my life. I want to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin, and for it to be clear in the way I conduct myself that I am confident, content and comfortable. 

By doing a little research, and gathering information from the internet and also from my experience in life and seeing different counsellors, I have begun to write a list entitled ‘How can I build my self-esteem?’

  • Being kind to myself and forgiving all my misgivings, mistakes and allowing myself to see that I am only human.
  • By not pretending to be anyone else, I can build myself up to be who I want to be, instead of basing my confidence on the confidence of someone else. I need to be self-confident in my own right and in my own skin, as me.
  • Whilst not pretending or trying to be anyone else, I can pick up hints and behavioural patterns from those around me, and those who make me feel comfortable in their presence and who exude self-confidence and contentment. Sometimes we learn a lot from observing behaviours we do and do not want for ourselves, and applying them to our own lives.
  • Learning to say yes when I want to say yes, and no when I want to say no. Becoming more assertive can mean that I am expressing what I want to do and what I don’t and therefore having some control over myself.
  • Challenging myself and putting myself out of my comfort zone in order to have new experiences and live the life I have always wanted to but perhaps haven’t believed I could – for example, I have booked to go to Europe to visit a friend alone next January. This is something I never would have believed I could achieve a year, or even 6 months ago. Now, I believe I can, so I will.
  • Looking at myself in the mirror more, and appreciating what I see and making an effort to feel good in my own skin.
  • Taking good care of my body by eating healthily, drinking lots of water and exercising
  • Repeating positive mantras such as “I can do this”, “I am strong enough” and “I am worthy and deserving”, to really drill into my brain that I can do whatever I set my heart on.
  • Challenging old beliefs. What do I believe about this? What made me feel this way? Is this true? What about if I thought about it differently? Which leads me to…
  • Creating new beliefs about things that I have previously held negativity around. For example my beliefs about marriage have been entirely negative: dangerous, emotional, hard work and confrontation (to name but a few). By writing down a new belief system, beliefs that I want to invest in, and training my mind to see what I want to see, I can begin to live this way. This can be done for friendships, love, jobs, parents etc.
  • Doing things you enjoy – having a job that is fulfilling and challenges you in the right areas, before coming home and having a fulfilling personal life, full of great friends, stimulating conversation, hobbies, reading, exercising, and love.
  • A good personal hygiene regiment. This sounds silly, but when you feel low and lacking in self-esteem, you tend to (without realising it) let go of your personal hygiene routine. Keeping yourself clean, washing your face, brushing your teeth, applying a face mask or a hair mask, going for a massage or a facial etc will make you feel much more positive and ready to face the day.
  • Trying to be open – to give and receive advice, love, compliments etc
  • Sleeping better is one of the linking factors that can help all mental illness and negative thought patterns. A good sleep hygiene routine can make you feel more equipped to face the day and truly refreshed.
  • Focus on the good things about myself, for example writing a list of qualities I love about myself – kind, caring, intelligent, inquisitive, loyal, honest, feisty, funny, hopeful, passionate (even writing that short list made me feel good!!)
  • Creating a scrap book of positivity is something I’m working on right now too. Something that I can go to that contains my list of positive things and things I love about myself, positive affirmations, my hopes and dreams, my loves and hobbies, ways I have made myself proud etc. This is something I can look back on when I’m feeling a bit low, and realise my accomplishments.
  • Spend your time with loving, uplifting, supportive, honest and caring people who want to see you happy and build you up.
  • Getting into the habit of saying more positive things, thinking more positive thoughts, smiling more, keeping note of the good things no matter how little, and trying to shift the balance to 90:10 to positivity!

There is a fine line between being confident in yourself and being self-loving, and being arrogant and cocky. The latter is not an attractive quality, nor is it truly conducive to a healthy and happy person. It is so important to be comfortable with yourself, to love who you are and to believe in yourself, as at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, ourself is all we really have, and if we’re happy with that person, it’s all we need.

self-esteem

5 ways I have taken steps towards eradicating my eating disorders

Welcome to the first of my “5 ways” post.  For the next 5 days, I will be posting about 5 ways in which I have conquered something, changed something, improved something or managed something in my life.  The aim of this is to not only see how I have grown in different areas, but also to prove to anybody reading this that overcoming and changing things is possible, and to hopefully help to give recipes for which to do so.

So, without further ado…

5 ways I have taken steps towards eradicating my eating disorders

If you have kept up to date with my blog, you will know that from a very young age, I have suffered greatly with my relationship with food, and tried to develop ways in which I could change this, often to no avail. I have had anorexia, binge eating disorder and bulimia on and off since I was 8 years old, and still to this day on occasion feel more in control of my body if it is empty. I have battled and fought hard for years to change my disordered eating habits. How have I taken the steps to do so?

1.Doing my research – I have researched into how not eating and controlling your food intake in a negative way affects your body, your organs and your mind.  In doing so, I almost scared myself into making little steps into changing my eating. By researching what could happen to my body if I continued my eating patterns, I saw how dangerous it truly was.  When you skip two meals a day, starve your body, and then overfill it, followed by making yourself violently sick, your body is driven to the extreme. I took for granted how lucky I was to not have any serious problems, but the fear of what could happen to my body if I continued these dangerous habits, definitely did hit me like a tonne of bricks. I needed to make a change!  I would like to share with you the information I found on the National Eating Disorders website:

Health Consequences of Anorexia Nervosa

In anorexia nervosa’s cycle of self-starvation, the body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally.  Thus, the body is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy, resulting in serious medical consequences:

  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing.  The risk for heart failure rises as the heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
  • Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
  • Muscle loss and weakness.
  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
  • Dry hair and skin; hair loss is common.
  • Growth of a downy layer of hair called lanugo all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa

The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions.  Some of the health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death.  Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium, sodium and chloride from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
  • Potential for gastric rupture during periods of bingeing.
  • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
  • Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
  • Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.

Health Consequences of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder often results in many of the same health risks associated with clinical obesity. Some of the potential health consequences of binge eating disorder include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease as a result of elevated triglyceride levels
  • Type II diabetes mellitus
  • Gallbladder disease

2. Listening to my body – In a similar way to the research I had carried out, another way I realised that my eating disorders were dangerous, was in the signs of my own health.  I have always seen myself as a ‘sickly person’, which here means that I picked up every cough, cold and bug that was within 100 miles of my location. I now realise that as a result of having an empty body, not nourishing myself and trying to run my body with no fuel, I left my immune system weak and a target for attack. When I finally realised how much feeling poorly and picking up all of these illnesses was affecting my life, I knew this had to stop. Hand in hand with my anxiety of social situations, and my depression wanting to keep me indoors, I used to miss out on things I wanted to do with my friends, as I simply felt too poorly, or had no energy. I can totally see why! You can’t expect a car to move with no petrol in it! When I realised the effect that this was taking on my body, and the lack of energy I had, alongside always feeling unwell, I began to make a change. I began to listen to my body. Although there are still times where physically my body is hungry and my anxiety implores me not to eat, in the main I do listen to when my body needs food, and when I should stop eating. I listen to my body rather than my mind, and as a result I no longer make myself sick. I have realised that my body needs the food, and to process it to release energy throughout the day. I now put my physical health well up there in my priorities – especially following my recent operation – and this has allowed me to see the importance of regular food intake and encouraged me to listen to what my body needs. In doing so, I have gained the confidence to eat out in public – something that I never thought I could do and used to induce terrible panic attacks. If my body wants it, my body gets it!

3. Forgiveness for myself – one of the most important things I have learned to do is to forgive myself. I forgive myself if I can’t eat lunch that one day, or if I eat too much the next. Because I know what not eating at all felt like, I know how far I have come and how much the uphill struggle has nearly pushed me over the edge, and I am proud of myself. And that deserves forgiveness for the slips, and for the past.

4. Allowing myself to eat what I want, when I want it – I will never be a breakfast eater.  If you call 11am readiness to eat breakfast, then I guess I can do breakfast.  However, upon first waking, I simply couldn’t think of anything worse than eating. I know, I know, they say it is the most important meal of the day. But I still know my own body…I’ve been in it for 22 years! My body simply isn’t ready for food in the morning, and I need a little warming up before I’m ready to eat. But I allow that. And if I want brunch, followed immediately by lunch, I’ll allow that. If I want two lunches, I will. If I want 7 meals a day, I will do that too. I know this doesn’t work for everyone, and I am super lucky to have a fast metabolism that means my eating ups and downs doesn’t really seem to have much effect on my weight at the moment, but it works for me. I feel differently every day, and I eat what I want, when I want.  This particular rule has made me feel more in control of my eating habits, and taken the pressure off myself. I am not the same as everyone else, and neither are you! We do not have to stick to the “norm” and eat 3 meals a day with a few snacks here and there. People who have suffered from eating disorders can eat when the hell they want!! It’s a celebration that we feel comfortable enough to eat, and no longer feel constricted by dangerous habits.

5. No longer listening to the opinions of others – leading on from the idea that we do not have to follow the “norm” of 3 set meals a day, another way that I have taken a step forward into the eradication of my disordered eating, is to stop listening to what others think about my eating habits.  If I had a pound/dollar/insert currency here for every time someone had commented on my not eating being “weird” or been questioned as to “why aren’t you eating?”, I would be a millionaire in all four corners of the world. I used to worry so much about what people thought, that it would make me more anxious, and therefore even less likely to eat.  It was a vicious circle. But why should I let small-minded, sheltered individuals who simply don’t understand dictate my health? I decided that I no longer care for the opinions of people who judge without asking caring questions. They just want to pass judgement, not find out if I am okay. And those are the people we need to ignore. Those are the people that bring us down. Ignore, and be you!

I’ve still got a long journey ahead to be happy with where I am in my little eating bubble, but my progression has exceeded anything I ever expected, and I am truly proud of myself. This was one of my biggest problems, and the improvements have genuinely changed my life for the better. Here’s to more growth, more change, and more food!

A lot can happen in a year! 

One whole year ago today, I started my WordPress blog. 

12 months ago, I decided it was time to grow, and be honest.

52 weeks ago I found somewhere to share my innermost thoughts, and somewhere to escape to. In the process, I have been lucky enough to be in contact with some of the most supportive people I could have ever wished to know. 
365 days ago, The Suitcase Kid came to life. 

  
So what has The Suitcase Kid done for me? Well, what hasn’t this blog space done for me? I’ve realised that in getting my inner most thoughts and confusions off my chest, I can leave them behind, and let them go. In letting my baggage go, I can lessen the weight on my shoulders and give in to just enjoying my life. 

In the past year, in the main without counselling or therapy, I have become a stronger, better person, in ways that I never thought possible. I have become braver, more honest, more independent, less anxious, less sad, more real, more grounded and more human. I can feel now, I can feel what it is to be happy, to be excited and to enjoy. 

In the last year, I have realised that I can do it. I can live a life of happiness, and I no longer need to choose pain and sadness. 

On the anniversary of The Suitcase Kid, I would like to thank you for reading and keeping up with me, for checking in, and for making sure I am ok. I thank you for writing your posts, as reading them have helped me through harder days. 

Here is to our first year Suitcase Kid, and here is to many, many more

Why am I proud of myself today?

Ive had a bit of an emotional day today, and if I’m honest, I’ve probably felt it coming on for the past couple of days. I am still recovering from my operation, and still having good days and bad days, the worst of which include taking very strong painkillers and staying in bed all day. I’ve been overdoing it though. I’ve had my family visiting, and as I don’t get to spend too much time with them, I have pushed my body further than I should have, considering today marks 2 weeks since my operation date. My body is still healing, yet I have been out walking, drinking, out for dinner… 

Too much, too soon. 

My body has obviously been reacting to being pushed too far, and as a result I am laid up in bed today feeling very sorry for myself. There has been tears and frustration today. I’ve felt like a failure. It has almost felt as if I have let myself down by stopping, and for not being able to carry on. My body reacted to being pushed to its limits by making me sick, dizzy and feel all out of sorts. 

I decided it’s important to listen to my body, and to recognise that I need to rest. My body is still in the healing process, and whilst I’ve done some lovely things over the past week, I am not super human! As I’ve been feeling wrongly disappointed in myself today, and a little flat mood-wise, I decided to make a conscious effort to remind myself all that I should be proud of myself for. And once I got writing, as always, I was surprised by how much I had done in the way of success. 

Let me share…

   
 
In case you can’t read my very messy scrawl, I shall share with you: 

Why am I proud of myself today? 

  • I got out of bed, when I really didn’t feel well enough too – I chose not to wallow in my self pity 
  • Today, I truly recognising that I succeeded last night – I ate dinner, in a restaurant, a busy restaurant, with my family. I was ok – and I even had fun! 
  • I ate breakfast today – I tried at least! Even if it did resurface, I recognised that I was not sick because I ate food, but because I was unwell, and they are different! 
  • I went for a walk. 
  • I listened to my body when I knew it needed rest and cancelled plans to do so – I come first! 
  • I allowed myself some alone time because that is exactly what I needed. 
  • I set up a direct debit to my local animal charity, and have sent an application form to become a volunteer – I feel so good about this. 
  • I fought off anxiety 
  • I let myself cry because I needed to! 
  • I forgave myself for being human. 
  • I wrote this list – which allows me to see how much good 24 hours can do! 

Writing this list has made me see that allowing myself to be human, needing to rest, and celebrating my successes is just what I needed today. 

Every negative day must have a positive point, it’s just about seeking it. 

Learning to love my flaws

I recently went on holiday…. which I still can’t believe I’m actually saying, as the old me would have flinched at the thought of leaving her comfort zone to venture to a different country. But anyway, yes I recently went on holiday and as a woman, taking off your dress or coverup by the pool and at the beach to reveal your not quite perfect bikini body, was one of my biggest anxieties.

Now, I live in the UK, where we probably get one week of summery weather a year, and the rest is bleak, overcast or rainy and as a result I don’t really get to wear a bikini so much at home. I’m not a dieter, and I don’t really exercise other than walking my dog everyday, due to my medical issues. Whilst I am lucky to have a fast metabolism thanks to my stick thin mother, I do carry some good old love handles and some extra orange peel around my thighs. As you can imagine then, I have body hang ups. Like everyone, there are parts I really hate about my body, parts I don’t mind, and parts I would gladly have a little nip and tuck if I could!

So there I was, pool side, anxious to get down to my scimpies and reveal my body to the other holiday era. (I don’t know why I thought they all cared by the way, but self esteem and insecurity doesn’t work rationally) Despite this initial holiday bikini fear, as soon as I took off my coverup, I felt free. It was like taking off a heavy, wet coat and feeling ten times lighter. For some reason, I just no longer cared. I was free, having fun, and didn’t give a hoot about who was looking at my cellulite.

I want to share this moment with you…


This is me, as a 22 year old woman, embracing my body.

Hello love handles, cellulite, the little bit of muffin top that hangs over my jeans, the boobs that aren’t quite as big as I’d like and the thick legs I got from my father. I embrace you all. I embrace the things I do like, even though they are few are far between.

My body may not be a temple, but it’s mine. I’m lucky to be able and agile and I’m here, saying I love my flaws. Because my flaws are what make me, me. And I’m coming round to the idea that me isn’t all that bad.

Post operative power

So here I am after my operation, in a lot of pain, but very proud of myself for the way I conducted myself. I travelled to the hospital not feeling too anxious, and constantly reminded myself that I would cope with whatever came at me. I tried to remember that I’d be fine, and to be positive. It’s normal to be anxious when something like this arises in your life, but remaining in control of the anxiety is so important, and I managed to do so. I felt in control and powerful. 

The endometriosis has been removed, and I’m hoping for a speedy recovery to step towards my new, pain free future in which I can live my life with no holds barred. Until I feel better, I’m tucked up in bed with my dog and Pretty Little Liars – my new cheesy US series obsession. 

I feel lucky to live in a country where healthcare is so easily accessible, and lucky to be able to have an operation to make me feel better. I live with a grateful heart for all I have. Now I move on from this. 

New job, new life, better health, happiness, hopes, dreams, holidays, freedom, new experiences, laughter and learning. This will be my life from now. 

Impromptu changes

Due to having my operation tomorrow, and with plans to leave my current job at the NHS in September to pursue my veterinary nursing career, I had planned to have 1-2 weeks off work to recover, and then work my notice period until my course began. Today however, my path has been changed by an unforeseen fork in the road. 

I went into my current job today, and handed in my notice whilst discussing the fears for the operation in an informal chat. It was put to me that I could leave the job, today, fully paid, until my course begins. Sound too good to be true? It sounds good, but it is true – Probably due to the fact that I’ve been a pain in the proverbials as an employee since my arrival. I have kicked up a fuss, stood up for myself and others, had a lot of absences, argued with bullies in the workplace…gosh I sound like a treat! 

6 weeks off is amazing. It’s rare. It’s lucky. But I feel odd. I don’t feel happy. So why do I feel down about having 6 weeks fully paid rest bite? I’ve had a think, and this is what I came up with…

  • The anxiety about my impending operation tomorrow is all consuming. I can only feel that. I am a bundle of anxious energy, as can be expected when the thought of an anaesthetic in the morning is at the forefront of my conscious. 
  • Change. Us humans don’t like change do we?! Which is ironic seeing as everything changes every day really: the weather, the time, our skin, our age, our experiences, our knowledge, alongside the bigger things that change too. Change is one of the only things we can guarantee will happen in our lives. I think I’m feeling slightly unsettled at the thought of this not being the plan I had in my head. The plan has changed, and whilst yes this new plan is better, I’m a woman who likes a plan. I think the sudden nature of my change in direction has made me panic a little. 
  • I question if the path I have chosen is the right one. Should I be leaving a stable, well paid job to become a student? But then I nip that thought in the bud. I was born to be a vet nurse. And I will be. 
  • I feel a bit sad. Why? I bloody hated that job. It’s funny that when things are no longer in our lives we miss them, when all we did when we had them was whinge that we wanted them gone. Don’t get me wrong I did hate the place, I thought it was corrupt, miserable and badly led, however I made some good friends whom I know will be lifelong, learned a lot about myself, trained in a new area that I can always go back to in later life, gained experience and have been through things which shall only make me stronger. And I guess I’m sad that I’m leaving the good behind. 
  • I guess I also feel a little cheated out of a last day, a bunch of cards and presents and a proper send off. A quick goodbye in the middle of the day kind of says under valued. I guess for a 10 month stint, and for being a right royal pain in the arse, I can’t argue. And I get 6 weeks paid leave – which I must remind myself is better than a cheap box of chocolates and a card signed by people i won’t see again. 
  • Undeserving of the rest. All I’ve done is be a pain and be off sick, why do I deserve the break? But really, I do deserve a break. I need rest after my operation but also rest before 3 years of intensive learning to attain my goals. And that is vital to me. I never allow myself chance to just relax, I feel guilty as if there is something else I should be doing. I need to learn that doing nothing is something, and resting and relaxing is good for me, and I do deserve it. I work hard in 3 jobs and I deserve it! 

It’s funny though. I’m experiencing feelings I didn’t realise I would have through leaving a job I never enjoyed. 

Alas, this chapter has closed.
Hello summer of relaxation, re cooperation, fun, exploring and being happy. That starts right now, lying in the garden whilst my favourite dog in the world places her ball at my feet waiting for me to play with her. Bliss.