Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorder’

People Don’t Tend To Be Burned Alive

In tonight’s #TopicsToDiscuss we started the conversation with a question: What would you like to change about the way people view Mental Illness? In short, the answer is A LOT! And here are just a few of the ones they mentioned

  • It isn’t contagious
  • It doesn’t come with an off switch
  •  It doesn’t necessarily lead to violence
  • The idea that we can all “think ourselves better” should be forgotten
  • For people to view MI as an ACTUAL illness,
  • It’s not something that you choose to have/not to have
  • Think from the patient’s point of view
  • Accept that we are not pretending for attention
  • That there isn’t “something wrong” with me

These are but a few of the many stigmas we face on a daily bases. One of our followers commented “I hope as medicine progresses and you can see more physical evidence of mental illness people will be more accepting.” There has been a lot of progress over the years but it is clear that there is still a really long way to go before we can live in a judgement free world…

So we asked our followers if they have been noticing the positive changes surrounding mental illness and this is where the conversation went:

  • That openness and acceptance that you find in true friends who are willing to understand is more frequent
  • People aren’t simply locked up
  • Electro Shock therapy is not as cruel any more
  • When you go into a mental institution, they don’t through away the key
  • More people are talking about it
  • Social Media is giving us a platform to connect

And like one of our followers pointed out: “In the modern world mentally ill people don’t tend to be burned alive, so I’d say that’s progress” Yeah, I know it’s not much… but it is a start! It is a point where we can at least say “It is better” instead of always just holding on to the phrase “It gets better”. Yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg and there is still a lot of work to be done before we can celebrate… but at least for a moment, we need to stop and remember that it is already better.

We cannot allow ourselves to get so caught up in the things that frustrate us that we block ourselves off from the things that bring us hope.  We asked our followers what they would keep about the view that the world currently has of mental illness. There weren’t a lot…

  • I want to keep people who listen, who don’t judge
  • I want to keep the way social media is opening up communication
  • I want to keep the moments when someone understands that I don’t even understand it

Compared to the things we want to get rid of, the ones we want to keep seem miniscule but if you weigh them up, one moment of understanding can remove 10 moments of pain and judgement. Of course we can’t sit back and pretend that it’s all good right now or that it will get better by itself, it is up to us. So often we get caught up in what we cannot do or how many people still sit back in ignorance and judge us that we forget how powerful we are. We forget that we are not alone and that we have the power to make a difference. And not just any difference, THE DIFFERENCE. We get to be the difference we want to see in the world; we get to educate those around us and teach them to be more tolerable through open conversations.

As always, thank you to everyone who took the time to join our discussion and open up about these issues. We appreciate you more than you will ever know.

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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…

One bite away

I have a medical excuse not to exercise and I have a medical excuse not eat. It would be easy for me to go back to not eating: no pain, no nausea, no internal fight with me… But I can’t do it. I know it is bad for me not to eat and I know I can’t put those who care about me through it.

Besides I know if I stop eating for 3days, it will take me 3months to get back to eating 3 meals a day and 6 more to get back to the much healthier option of 6 meals a day. It’s not worth it. Why would not eating cause that much chaos? Well, that’s simple: I have Gilbert Syndrome and basically it comes down to my liver not being able to do all it is suppose to, resulting in a constant state of nausea and generally a lot of pain too. There are pills I could take but I’d have to take them forever and that is not an option I’m willing to consider. The bodies of 92% of the world’s population sees food as a nutrient but my body sees food as toxins it needs to get rid of. So for me the rest of the 8%of the population, eating is not exactly a fun past time.

When your body knows that everything that goes into it will make it feel ill, your body starts saying “don’t do it! Don’t bring that stuff near me! Stop poisoning me, just stop eating” and over time it gets harder for your mind to fight this logic. When you feel like crap all the time, it is hard for your mind to argue with the logic of your body. It takes a lot for me to eat even just one bite. And I think one of the most painful things about that fact is that most of the people around me will never be able to tell… I have a very strong hold over my gag reflex. I can control it and prevent it from throwing out the food I try to eat but all it takes is one moment where the pain and discomfort over rules the logic and my body overpowers my mind and I… well, you know. It’s sort of scary knowing that you are only one gag reflex away from involuntary Bulimia. And when you have to fight this hard just to get through a plate of food and you’d rather just stop it all together, that’s when you realize just how close you are to Anorexia. And these 2 diagnoses are both daunting. They are scary and overwhelming and when you don’t really suffer from either and the fear of almost suffering from either is not enough to get you treatment, it makes it harder to stay strong.

So here I am, stuck with a non specific eating disorder… every bite a victory lap and simultaneously a painful reminder that my body and mind have to keep fighting a daily battle just to keep up the pretence that I am normal and that everything is ok. So when some random walks up to me and says “Oh, yeah you are getting fat” it takes all of my strength and patience not to blow up at their ignorance.

As much as I hate GS and the whole over-thinking-everything-I-eat-thing, it also affords me an understanding that most people will never have. A sort of compassion and empathy because I know there must be others like me out there… And in some way that makes up for some of the discomfort and confusion. I wouldn’t want to be anyone other than me.

Just sharing my view…

I’m Fat!

I’m thinking of writing a cook book! Ok… not really. As much as I love cooking, I still have no idea what I’m doing; I’m just winging it.

If any of you are wondering how I managed to get an A in home-economics without picking up the culinary art, well it’s quite simple: my best friend was the top teen chef in the country! We’d do projects together and I’d just do the salads along with the washing up and measuring… I left all the real cooking to her. I use to see food as just an irritating waste of time and occasionally I still do but that’s only because I’m forced to over think it. I have this annoying little liver condition called Gilbert Syndrome. It’s not a big deal, in fact if you look it up in a medical journal it’ll only tell you two things: one being its name and the other to not misdiagnose it as Jaundice. Basically my liver can’t produce the chemical that removes all the bad stuff that get trapped by biliruben in your bloodstream. So when my biliruben levels get too high, my skin becomes yellow and I pretty much feel nauseous all the time.

When I first discovered it, I didn’t find it difficult to change my entire lifestyle because I knew if I didn’t I’d be in bed all day feeling like death warmed up simply for the sake of eating a few French fries. So I cut out all things fatty and everything remotely sweet, except cheese and Smarties and replaced it with loads of fruit! I also drank insane amounts of water. Even though all these things made me feel better during normal daily activity, it still didn’t prevent me from fainting once a week and since I refused to be on pills for the rest of my life, I had to find other ways of dealing with nausea.

The point I’m getting at is that we all have different bodies and they react differently to all sorts of food. For instance, if I eat a teaspoon of sugar I need to drink 5 glasses of water just to balance it out. It’s really annoying when someone asks you if you would like a cookie and you have to spend a minute analyzing whether this moment of pleasure is really worth it! Thankfully not everyone is forced to think about their food as much as I am but subconsciously, it’s what we’re all doing. Society has taught us that we should feel guilty for eating anything that’s not green or has been cooked with something other than water; that added spices like salt should make you feel bad and even eating meat is practically a crime. Well that’s pathetic! No one can tell you what you like or what to eat!

No one has the right to make you question your food choices or doubting your beauty! Yes, of course eating only greasy food is bad for you, which is why your body will give you a clear indication when it has had enough. And yes, if you have trouble walking up the stairs to your room, then maybe you should practice that a few more times during the day but this is all very subjective. You cannot judge yourself by anyone else’s standards nor should you ever allow anyone else to make you feel like you’re not measuring up to their standards…

I like the food I eat and as long as I do it in balance, it’s all good. I’m not thin and I really don’t think I’ll ever be thin but I’m happy. Yes I could do with a few more sit ups but that’s just because I’m comparing myself to the way I looked when I was 16. We don’t stay 16 forever ~ which I’m really glad about! Our bodies change throughout our lives and we need to realize that. Your body isn’t the only thing to you; it isn’t even the main thing. If you lose a finger nail, will that make you any less you? No! Of course not, because there is so much more to us than our finger nails and our hair and our dress size.

 We have the ability to think and feel and care and make choices! These are the things that matter not the shell it is all kept in. My grandmother use to say: “What other people think of you is none of your business.” At first I thought she was just clueless but then I thought about it and it made sense. We live in a world where we are so afraid that people won’t like us or that we don’t dress as well as that person or make as much money as our neighbour. None of these things really matter! There are people dying in our backyards and wondering where their next meal will come from and instead of trying to figure out how we’ll ever manage world peace, we spend hours in front of the mirror criticizing ourselves and breaking down our self confidence simply because we have forgotten how to see the people inside the Levi Jeans. We see all these superficial things and think that that is what makes a man. Guess what? It doesn’t!

Looking perfect and feeling perfect are two very different things! I’m amazed I’ve written this much without quoting a P!nk song. Obviously we all have days of feeling like we just don’t measure up and it’s exactly for those moments P!nk has written the song F***ing Perfect! “You’re so mean, when you talk about yourself, you are wrong! Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead.”

 Listen to the lyrics and believe every word! We’re all f***ing perfect and unique. If the people in your life can’t see it, then they don’t deserve to be in your life!

Sharing my view,

AM

PS: This post came as a result of my disrupted Twitter feed. Some guy who thinks he has the right to judge everyone else and tell them they are not worth as much as the person who wears a size zero, upset a lot of my friends and I just hope one day he’ll be able to look himself in the mirror and realize he has to change the voices in his head. Yes, I’m talking to you Mr Kenneth Tong. FYI: It really annoys me that I have to refer to such an ignoramus as ‘Mr’ but hopefully we’ll get @MrKennethTong silenced on Twitter!

PPS: Check out this amazing blog by my friend Chrisselle (aka @iwrestledahammy)

Size zero must go! http://j.mp/hpEe2o