Archive for February, 2013

Food Makes Fools Of Us All

This weekend we were at a birthday party. There was a lot of laughter and good company and of course food.

I’m not a fan of the judgement that comes from public eating but I applaud the social aspects and on occasion it is this social aspect that has helped me regain control over food. On this occasion, I have to admit that I actually stood up against social convention and to an extent the essence of my culture and ate what was appropriate for me. Which I’m actually rather proud of… However, one of the guests at the party did quite the opposite or actually the same… it’s a bit confusing.

She suffers from diabetes. Social convention says to limit your sugar intake. She did not. Not only did she ignore the general consensus and advice of several medical professionals around the table, she also fought back with ignorant comments like “It’s ok; I will just increase my insulin tomorrow”. By anyone’s standards, she over indulged in all things sugar related. How can we be intelligent beings in all other aspect of our lives and yet be so illogical when it comes to food?

My biggest problem is that she seemed really happy. She seemed to be enjoying herself. And what did we do? Nothing. We commented from our own perspective and pointed out the dangers but ultimately we respected her choice to risk her life for another bite. Do I believe that feeding sugar to someone with diabetes is reckless? Most definitely. Do I believe that over indulging is bad for you, no matter what the circumstance? Yes, I do. Do I believe that all of us have to take responsibility for our actions and that we are entitled to make these choices? Absolutely. Does this make me feel any less guilty for ‘letting it happen’? Not even close…

So, what is the point of this post? Well, I just wanted to point out (and remind myself) that food can make us act like fools. It is so easy to judge from a distance and know what is right and logical but when it comes down to taking that bite: logic leaves us. So we really need to stop judging each other based on these logic-resistant choices.


This Week

Ok, so this week was actually extremely stressful. There was so much happening and up until 2pm today I threatened *mostly myself* to quit 6 times; dramatically declared “I give up” at least 15 times; felt like crying 9 times; almost cried 4 times; was too depressed to eat cheese twice and drank a total of 6.33 litres of orange juice. And then it all came to a head.

The owners of our company showed up and the guys who have been torturing me for the last 2 days had the tables turned on them and were put on trial. The guys I were most afraid of surprised me and actually stood up for me. One of my Directors still chose his ego above what is right and showed absolutely no loyalty towards me but I believe our big boss is smart enough to see through his BS. All of the extra hours I put in, seemed to have paidoff and the training sessions have made a difference.

Now I just have to recover… Spending an entire week completely focused on all of these little tests can really mess with your body clock and for me that has the added pressure of heightened insomnia and unhealthy eating habits. To then have all of that weight lifted from your shoulders is such a relief. Now all I have to do is get the message back to the rest of my body! My heart is still beating super fast and my mind is still racing to make sure I have covered every angle and that means I still do not have my appetite back and that just makes me more sluggish than I need to be.

Obviously the results make such a huge difference and there is still this one little uncertainty that might throw a curve ball in my direction but that is a problem for Monday. Tonight I’m sipping on my Scotch *apparently I do that now* while petting the sleeping dog on my lap, listening to some Shania Twain…

Tomorrow is another full day of creativity and potential frustration that can hopefully be overcome with loads of party favours. And Sunday it’s back to focusing on work and being creative and attempting to meet the most insane deadlines *that annoyingly I set for myself* and a whole week of hanging on for the weekend.

Right now it’s all good and I’m reveling in it!

Work To Change The World

I’ve been career hopping for the last 6years… I remembered the moment when I decided to abandon my dreams and go in a totally opposite direction. I could just never figure out why I actually made the change.

Last Sunday that all changed. I had a penny dropping moment! It was huge and such a relief after years of feeling like a total looser but now that I understand it means I have to get out of this funk of dwelling around in circles and actually chose what I want for my future.

As a little girl I always believed that I could change the world and I really, really wanted to do just that! I found an artistic way to do that and help people understand someone else’s perspective and I was really good at it. But then my dad died and I made a lot of decisions during that period… a lot of them hurt the people around me and I started doubting that I was worthy of changing the world. Who says that my way is better? Who says that I know better? Who says that my vision was the right one… maybe I was more blind than everyone else put together… So I turned my back on the thing I loved and my biggest passion because I was scared that I would screw up the world.

I moved to the opposite side of the world and wanted to do something so implosive that the only ones my actions affected were the ones inside the building and I was just as affected by theirs but the rest of the world had no idea what we did or who we were and that was the way it was meant to be. I loved it… I loved not having the pressure of changing the world on my shoulders. You need to understand that since I was 4 years old, I wanted to make a difference and safe the world and this idea grew over time and eventually mutated into this insane amount of pressure that I was placing on myself… 15 years of dealing with this pressure and finally I got a break from it. Like I said, I loved it… well, for the first 2months that is. I started to feel something was missing but I still really liked the people around me and the fact that I could control this microcosm of a world we worked and pretty much lived in, so I stayed another 4years.

As a Gemini, I adapt and I work really hard to become the best at everything I do – I don’t always make it but most of the time trying is more than enough. I got a little lost in being the best and lost myself in the process. So one day I woke up and I realized that I wanted more than an awesome career; I wanted a life. Once again I moved to the other side of the world and started over. Yet another career that had nothing to do with previous ones…

Two years later, I still feel like a failure at this job (my directors and co-workers would disagree) and I couldn’t understand how I could be this miserable in my working environment and yet be so incredibly happy at night when I close my eyes. On Sunday I realized that even though my job doesn’t affect the world and I do not feel like I am superwoman for doing it, its mediocrity allows me to do something that is actually changing the world. I get to work with the amazing Chrisselle on a little project we call Don’t Lose Your Grip.

For those of you who do not know – DLYG is basically a support network for anyone who suffers from an eating disorder, mental illness or self harms. It is also a place for friends and family members of sufferers to ask for advice and be exposed to the experiences of others that can help them understand it better. We discuss all of these issues openly in the hopes of reminding each other that we are not alone. Ok, so I did not singlehandedly save the planet from a meteor that would have destroyed it or find a cure for global warming but I like to believe that through this project, we have made at least one person’s life a little bit better… and that’s pretty cool.

So yeah, my job sucks sometimes but as long as I get to be part of something as amazing as Don’t Lose Your Grip, then it’s a sacrifice I’ll gladly make.

It Should Get Easier

So last week I was rather positive regardless of the circumstances but today I started to feel the positivity fade drastically. It’s like one second it’s all awesome and sunshine and roses and the next it’s all doom and gloom.

So today I was trying to cling to the last bit of positive energy I had left and 15min to 5 it left… it’s amazing how much can go wrong in just 8hours and it’s amazing how complicated things can get in that time. It should get easier shouldn’t it? It’s not like I’m a rocket scientist or a surgeon who has life or death pressure on their shoulders every day. I have a normal job and a year and a half after I starting it, I still feel overwhelmed every day; I still feel incompetent and I still feel like I am a failure. The obvious answer is to quit and get out because clearly it is not healthy for me but the sad truth is that no one here can do my job either… I can’t let the people I work with down by not doing my best but at the same time I… I’m just lost… I guess today was a tough one and I want to believe that tomorrow will be better and that I won’t feel this bad or at least that I will feel better about myself… but by now I know myself well enough to know that the only way that will happen is if I make it so.

I have to choose positive to band I have to fight to not let the negativity overwhelm me. After all of these years of dealing with depression, it should get easier right? Well, I guess in the most respects it has – it’s easier to see it coming; I know that it doesn’t last forever; I have ways of getting through the negative moment and I have learned to make sure that I fully appreciate the good times but sometimes I just wish that I could have an easy day…

While I take my lavender bath and drink my camomile tea and listen to the amazing P!nk, I’m going to take a few deep breaths and try to change these voices in my head – you know, and make them like me instead…

Acting Normal

I firmly believe that ‘normal’ is overrated but occasionally it is fun to just blend in and be like everyone else. On Friday I went to a killer party! Okay, actually it was just a regular dinner with 60 people and loads of alcohol… but still!

I have been throwing myself into work the last few months and only seem to go out once every 3 months. And that was really starting to get to me. When you have no life outside of work, it makes work seem less exciting. So when my colleagues talked/tricked me into going I was both excited and nervous and a up to the point that I hug my best friend hello, I was still bordering on running back home to hide behind my laptop on the sofa.

It’s amazing how much anxiety I still have around all of these people that I have known for the last 2 years. It’s even more amazing how much strength I gain from spending time with someone whom I know understands me. There was no pressure… just pool, dancing, good music and loads of fun. I only slept like 2hours before I had to get back to work. Even though Saturday was one of the most chaotic days at work that we’ve had in a really long time, it was actually easy to deal with because I went into it completely relaxed albeit a bit tired.

Even this morning I was still on a high from the excitement of Friday night. It’s rare for me to go out and overcome that huge hurdle of leaving the safety of my house and the comfort of my own company but I’m hoping that I can build on moments like these and hopefully change my attitude about going out. In the meantime, I’ll just laugh at the awesome and sometimes awkward pictures on FB.

Reason To Smile

It’s easy to get bogged down by the weight of daily life. Whether it is work that is piling on the pressure or family dinamics complicating your thoughts or simply just one of those days… we all go through it and often forget that we can change our outlook.

We have the power to adjust the way we approuch the world and if we choose to, we can see the glass as half full rather than half empty. But we have to choose to see it that way. Generally I try to approach things with positivity but when you are plagued with depression, it’s not always that easy. I think I try to over compensate for the depression by being incredibly hyper active in my positivity – when I can muster it up. This week I have been able to fight back against my depression with a little more results than usual so I am making the most of my positivity and hoping it will rub off on the people around me.

With that, we, at Don’t Lose Your Grip have decided to challenge all of our followers to kick start the day with a positive thought. There is a reason to smile in every moment, sometimes you just have to look a little harder… So be part of the positive energy and tweet out your #ReasonToSmile every time you log on to twitter.

Sending loads of positive energy your way

Change is as good as a vacation

Patience is not one of my strong suits… I do not like waiting for people to do the things I know I can do better. But unfortunately there are only 24hours in a day and to optimize your time, you need to delegate and yes, that requires patience.

The funny thing is that as much as I hate waiting, my love of teaching is a million times stronger. Being able to pass on my knowledge and see that penny dropping moment expression on the faces of someone who is experiencing the magnificent moment of growth that comes from education. For the last year and a half I have been working in an environment where I was slightly in seclusion as far as my job is concerned. No one at my place of work can do my job. They have tried and somehow it always gets really screwed up. So a few weeks ago, I found an excuse to move out my office and relocate to another part of the building where the environment is very different. My job hasn’t changed; the pressure that comes with it and being the only one who can do it – which means if I get sick, I have to go to work otherwise nothing happens and we end up at a standstill – hasn’t changed, the only thing that has changed is the fact that I am surrounded by other people. Unlike the people in my old office, these guys are not on the same management level that I am (wow that sounds rather pompous of me but I don’t know how else to express this). Previously we were all busy in our own worlds talking about the future of the company and complaining about the lack of drive from the operation side and sheer lack of knowledge coming from ‘downstairs’. Now that I am here and get to see these guys all the time, it means I can I ask the questions as it happens instead of having them build up to the point where I need to have a whole 40min meeting discussion all of my queries. And the greatest thing about that is that I can give them guidance and explain why I am asking these specific questions while the event is still fresh in their minds. Plus I get to see them react to it and actually put it into practice or correct them if they misunderstood and it gives them the opportunity to express the challenges they are facing without seeming defensive.

I’m slowly learning to trust my HoD’s and allowing them to take responsibility for their departments and not needing me as much. This was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. Yes, giving up control is hard for me but since I get to train them from scratch, it’s like I’m giving control to a mini-me rather than to a total stranger. Of course they will never do things the way I would do them but that’s the whole point, they should do it differently and hopefully do it better… And of course if you are the one calling the shots, you will make sure that it is followed to the letter and that it succeeds because it is not just some foreign directive that comes from above, it is your own little baby. My favourite part of training is that I get to show all of these people how to be better at what the things they spend a third of their day doing. And it is fun to let go every once and a while. Of course it also frees me up to do all of the other things that I cannot pass on to them yet.

Just today alone, we’ve had discussions about operations and staff management and searched for that pesky little line in a 15page invoice that prevents us from balancing… and we found it! It’s rather weird but doing all of these little things that we generally did not have the time to participate in when I was upstairs is giving me a break from all of the usual chaos of the rest of my job… like they say: a change is as good as a vacation and every time I get to change the conversation from something ‘life or death’ to something ‘mediocre’ it’s like my brain gets to take a break. And I think the fact that I get to spend a little more time with the people who have disappointed me and my team upstairs so much over the last year, is reminding them that we haven’t given up on them yet. Hopefully this new opportunity is not just therapeutic for me but also beneficial for the rest of our company.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that knowledge is most useful when it is shared…

Jerry The Bully

I remember waking up early on a Saturday morning; turning on the TV and trying to figure out if I’m on the right channel; trying to determine the time by the height of the Sun because at the age of four it seemed simpler than trying to read a clock… all of this just so that I can watch 15min of Tom & Jerry.

Watching it with my mom we always discussed how Tom was the bully who didn’t know any better and my mom made sure to point out that when things got too tough for Jerry, he asked for help from his older Bulldog friend. I liked watching the little mouse outsmart the sheer brut of the big cat; it reminded me that size doesn’t determine your intelligence or success rate.

After watching it today I’m not as sure about this cartoons integrity as a moral builder. Jerry has become the bully. He is no longer just defending himself; he is actually attacking Tom now. Tom has the defence of his natural nature being to chase a mouse (in non cartoon terms: what he learns from his parents) and yes, we all have the natural instinct that Jerry has to defend ourselves but a mouse attacking a cat goes against nature… lovable little Jerry has become the bully. If there was a psychologist bird or something in the cartoon, this would be where they would point out that Jerry is transferring his frustration of years of being bullied back onto Tom and thus completing the circle of destruction.

Jerry seems to be taking pleasure in seeing Tom squirm. Personally, I just feel sorry for Tom and think that Jerry is a total jerk. I know it’s just a cartoon and you think that I’m reading way too much into this but as a kid cartoons were where I felt safe and the world made sense… So now, when              I think about my little baby cousin watching a smirky mouse attack an old cat that doesn’t know any better, upsets me… It’s not like Jerry has ever tried to sit down and talk to Tom about it…

Yeah, I know: it’s just a cartoon but I worry about my little cousin and just hope that I can explain to her to that bullying is not okay… and protect her from that pain and maybe even help her build the courage to believe in her values and stand up for those who can’t do it for themselves.

As always, just sharing my view. Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. Feel free to comment or chat to me on Twitter

Not the end, just a helping hand

I was gearing up for another mental health #TopicsToDiscuss and thought it was fitting to discuss the UK bill that so many are excited about. It reached the 3rd reading in the House Of Lords.

This “order of commitment discharged” brings us one step closer to a world where you don’t have to be afraid to ask for help. Today, a Bill that will remove legislation that has been discriminating against those suffering from mental illness is a little closer to being set in stone.

But are we even able to see the changes around us? Have we become so immune to the positive and comfortable in our misery that we have forgotten to look up and see that little glimmer of hope at the end of our collective dark tunnels? Maybe we have… maybe it’s just me… maybe it’s not too late to change…

Looking back on the last few years I notice the change within myself. Not just growth or that understanding that can only come with time but also my judgement towards myself. I was so afraid at first. That very first passing diagnosis that I brushed under the carpet followed by the secrets I tried to keep from myself and the person I created to manipulate those around me into thinking that I am fine. All of the times I couldn’t open up or even own up to the demons I were fighting internally. The times I hated myself for being so weak that I couldn’t accomplish the simplest of tasks. I remember the anger and the disappointment that I directed at myself and looking back at it now, I realize that I must have projected all of this onto everyone else out there suffering from a mental illness too.

But through my diagnosis and a million discussions with patient individuals, I have learned. I have come to understand that beneath it all I am still here. The fear of what others might think of me means nothing now that I know how proud I am of myself, of how far I’ve come. I now know that a diagnosis is not the end, but rather a helping hand. I wish I didn’t keep it hidden for so long and I wish that I could have been just that little bit braver and opened up a little sooner but I still got there in the end, so it’s all good. I believe that I needed to keep my friends at bay under the pretence that they will ‘not understand’ or judge me simply because I couldn’t deal with the fact that I was judging myself so harshly. They were always there for me, no matter how much I pushed them away… And by never giving up on me, they continuously reminded me that I am worth fighting for. On the days when getting out of bed was so much harder than anything else I have ever done, during those moments every kind word someone has ever uttered in my direction and every hug I couldn’t wait to get out of, gave me courage and the strength to not give up. I am glad that I have lived through all of the things life has thrown my way because I am a more understanding person for it…

I can feel the power that comes from your first wake-up-breath and I can see the beauty in a strangers smile. I can appreciate the little things that so many people take for granted because to me, they are huge feats. I can open up about all of the chaos hidden in the corners of my mind because I know for a fact that it gets better! No matter how frustrating or draining or numb this day has been, the promise of a reason to smile for tomorrow over rules the damage that was done to me today.

Sometimes all we have to do is look up and take a little step back so that we can see the amazing rainbow popping out from that dark cloud hanging over our heads…

Love Never Fails

I’ve been suffering from depression since the age of 7. But I didn’t realize this because well, I was 7 and back then people didn’t talk about it.

I barely understood emotions, let alone the fact that they affect each of us differently. I had a good home: both of my parents loved me; I had a dog; I got A’s in school and I had friends and played sport… but I couldn’t understand why I was so sad all of the time.

I tried to distract myself… by playing with my dog; always doing my homework and dragging my friends outside to play sports. It worked, sort of… I had enough reasons to pretend to be happy. I had enough excuses to hide my pain and fear behind smiles. But then I got a little older and at 14 I realized that all of my friends were in that constant giggling phase and how much it annoyed me. At first I thought it was just because it’s sort of annoying but then I realized it’s because I couldn’t. I couldn’t giggle or laugh out loud. I actually became one of those people who would substitute a laugh by saying “Ha, that’s funny”. I couldn’t remember what my laugh sounded like and to make it worse, all of the things that I was able to use as distractions were no longer working. Instead of giving me a momentary relief, they were just reminding me of the fact that I needed a relief from being me!  And so, I had to find new things to help me find or rather fake ‘happy’.

I changed sports; took up drama and debating and I was even a cheerleader for 3 days before I came to my senses – I have no rhythm and I am not flexible! I changed subjects and my career path and I secretly hoped that it would get better. It didn’t really. I mean, I had a lot of fun and made really amazing friends and experienced things that I will remember forever but when I was alone, I was still me and I was still sad and it still hurt.

But I was finally old enough to understand psychology and with the help of some older therapists I got to take a closer look into my life and figured out a few things that I could make peace with and let go and a few months after my 15th birthday I had an amazing revelation of forgiveness that helped me breathe a little easier. And for a while I was only sad sometimes. It was around this time that one of the therapists who’ve known me for quite a while mentioned to me that she noticed that was suffering from manic depression and that she wanted to help me. The thing was, I didn’t want to be suffering from manic depression and I was scared of what helping me would entail. So I brushed her off and said that she was overreacting and that I was fine.

That’s when I realized that my hiding techniques needed to be updated. I filled my schedule to the extent where I would pretend to have watched TV shows that my friends are talking about when in fact all I did was spend 15min reading TV guide between all of the other activities… Thinking about it now, it seems really crazy but to me, it was the only way I could ensure that I had no time to think by myself or about myself. The distraction was great, ok not really. It stressed me out a lot! I was so busy all of the time and never slept more than 3hours a night and as productive as that part of my life was, just thinking about it exhausts me. And when High School came to an end, that’s when my little plot went up in smoke…

I was really stressed and lost and couldn’t figure out how to ‘be normal’ or at least calm.  I spent a summer getting back to family and nature and that was pretty cool. I found a couple of reasons to smile and it made the bad times seem not so bad. And then my grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 Cancer, my dad died, my life changed and I moved to London. I started a new life and hoped that I could run away from my depression. That didn’t work… As much fun as my new environment was, depression was creeping back in and this time its hold was a lot stronger than ever before. When I finished studying I started to see my life flash before my eyes and I was that confident that I was where I needed to be anymore. So, there I was: lying on the bathroom floor hoping that something would happen and magically it would all make sense again; that everything that I had been through would not have been for nothing; that I was strong enough to go back and face my life. Sadly that was not even close to what my mind wanted. I would spend days not sleeping and then crash by sleeping for 30hours straight. My eating habits were, well erratic to say the least and getting out of bed was a massive effort let alone getting out of the house. I did have a few friends who never gave up on me and kept dragging me out. I’m really thankful to them, because without it I would not have been able to make it through those years. But just like before, none of those mini distractions were able to ‘fix’ my depression and the thoughts that were stuck playing on a loop in my mind…

So once again, I changed my surroundings and moved to the other side of the world. I thought that maybe simpler would be better and that if I could just go back to the basics, everything else would make sense again. That’s not exactly what happened. Instead I just had way more time to myself and the loop of negative thoughts in my head just became louder. It was also during this time that one of my friends committed suicide. This rattled me a lot! More than most of the people in my life realized. See, to me, she had so much more to live for than I believed I did. And I was so close to the edge myself. Push the thoughts of ending all of it out of my head was getting harder. If Lacey couldn’t cope, what chance would I have of living a happy life? Or even just surviving?

But once again my friends came to the rescue. One simply talked to me about his problems and allowed me to realize that I was not completely alone in my misery, plus it gave me the opportunity to put my painful experiences to good use by giving him a little bit of advice. Then there was Chrisselle, after everything that she has lived through, she managed to turn it into something productive. All of her pain and anger channelled into making a difference. This life saving difference goes by the name of Don’t Lose Your Grip.  It saved my life. Chrisselle saved my life.

Not only did I have a way of coping with the loss of a friend and a reason to give a positive meaning to this pain but I also had something to do when being stuck in my head got too much. And one day as I was talking to all of these people on the DLYG twitter page, people who were also going through the things I was feeling, I realized that this was a great opportunity to talk about our fears and fight stigmas publicly. One thing lead to another and that’s how #TopicsToDiscuss was born. It’s an open platform that allows all of us and the DLYG followers to share their views and opinions on everything from Mental Health issues on Monday to Eating Disorders on Tuesdays and Self Injury on Wednesdays.

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about these things openly and honestly but the way I see it, if we don’t, who will? We have the opportunity to educate those who have experienced our thoughts by sharing the thoughts we have kept secret for far too long. Occasionally we ask questions we do not even have the answers to and every once in a while someone new will join the conversation and we’ll be able to change their negative perception of mental health or eating disorders or help them see beyond the scares of selfharm. That, to me, is a victory.

Every conversation we have brings us one step closer to an accepting world. One without judgement.  One where love never fails…