International Peace Day -“Blowing out someone else’s candle will NOT make yours shine brighter”

So this post is a bit different from my usual topics but I chose today to address the subject of “peace” as the 21st of September marks the international day of peace. The day was established by the United Nations and in 2001 the general assembly voted that on this day it would be a period non-violence and ceasefire. Instead of focusing on some of the bigger issues such as war, government and religious conflicts I have chosen to focus on some of the daily problems that go on in modern-day society…

Nowadays I would say there is a lot more equality around issues such as religion, sexuality, disability, mental health etc… but this does not mean everything is perfect because people daily experience direct attacks regarding what they believe or who they are. People of all ages are called names, laughed at, victimized and even bullied due to their individuality.

This is in no way right.

Not only can words be hurtful in the moment but they can also create a long-term impact on people’s lives. I personally have seen how comments can single-handedly destroy a person’s self-esteem, self-worth and send them into a downward path of self-destruction. It’s not nice and for what some of the people involved see as funny at the time, never seem to consider the damage they can be doing.

In the last year alone I can think of multiple events which have contributed to the worsening of my own mental health…. For example: When I first became ill someone who I thought was a close friend began to reject me from my friendship group, excluded me from any events they organised and ignored me when I tried to be apart of the group.

I tried my hardest to strengthen our friendship but the more I tried the more hurt I became. As someone already suffering from poor mental health, these events led me to completely withdraw from socializing, become anxious around the school environment and at the time I thought I was the direct problem – which contributed to my self-destruction.

It wasn’t a pretty time of my school life, but in no way do I blame the individual for what has happened to me over the last year. Yes, I still don’t understand how someone could do or say such hurtful things but at the same time I don’t believe they understood how much words can hurt a person who is already struggling.  

What happened to me no longer has any significance in my life but I have learnt something from the person’s mistakes which I now follow with the aim of preventing a similar situation happening to anyone else, as “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you could know nothing about, so we should always be kind, always!”

The only emotion I now feel over what happened is an anger that someone could be so hurtful to my previous self, but instead of causing any conflict I have decided to channel this emotion into preventing similar events happening to others by writing this post and following my own advice…

I feel sorry that a person could spread hurtful comments about someone who was fighting for their life in hospital and I feel sad for the same person who clearly has underlying issues that they haven’t been addressed properly…

“Blowing out someone else’s candle will NOT make yours shine brighter”

For anyone out their directly involved in creating conflict, please stop before you say or do something to someone because you don’t know what they might be going through and the impact it could have on their life. Think to yourself “would I want the same to happen to me?”,” is there a better way to solve the issue?” and even “what is going on personally that could be triggering you to feel this way towards someone else?”.

If you are a victim of hurtful comments, actions or even bullying remember there is always someone out there to help…whether it be a teacher, parent, carer, friend or even an online support group/help line. Just keep in mind “some people won’t be happy until they have pushed you into the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your courage and never give it away because those who are true friends stick around and are there not only when they need you, but when you need them!”

Things can get better, they have for me, I am now so much more confident at school back socialising more than ever, I have many different circles of friends and have people in my life so much valuable than ever before.

I no longer feel like what people say to me has as big effect on the way I feel about myself because I am now a lot stronger person…. From this day forward I will only choose to listen to the positive comments I get, as those are the ones coming from the people who are actually important in my life…

“Failure should not be feared because it is necessary to learn and grow”

So I admit I’m a perfectionist

I have always been complimented for my perfectionism, being told I have the right attitude towards achieving the highest possible. I felt proud of my status… with title “perfectionist” and in a way this fed into my need to please people.

But what happens when perfect isn’t quite good enough….

Recently having started back at sixth form it has brought back a reminder of how hard it is to achieve the high expectations people have of me, and mostly the expectations I put on myself. It can be hard to explain because, on the outside, to many, it looks like I should have nothing to worry about, but inside I can feel the pressue building.

Having not been in education for almost a year and not sitting any exams this summer, I am retaking year 12. Firstly I’d like to point out that the thing I find the most difficult is feeling that people who do not know I’ve been in hospital think I was just lazy last year or failed all my exams. It’s hard because although I know A level is really difficult and many struggle. I feel like I’m looked down upon because of it.

I admit last year wasn’t great for me, when I did attend school I was barely able to concentrate due to Anorexia’s strong influence, I did not complete work or sometimes even turn up to lessons… the hardest thing for me to admit is that this was not because “i didn’t want to go” or “couldn’t be bothered” but actually down to such a strong hate I had towards myself.

I’ll explain…. During my time in sixth form my mental health began to deteriorate to a point I felt I didn’t deserve to do well or have any future. Unfortunately, for me this impacted on my education because I felt that by withdrawing from sixth form it would stop me ever being able to achieve my dream job as a doctor or gave any chance at a decent career

I would walk to school then disappear for hours pacing round the streets, I would lie to my parents that I had been to school, and on days I wouldn’t go at all because I would be so faint and exhausted I’d feel scared to leave the house, I would further push myself to exercise excessively at home.  

It was hard, tiring and time-consuming!

I felt like a slave to something external which was pushing me to my limits. I was no longer myself, I would never lie to my parents or even skip school. I was ashamed of what I had become but this just pushed me further into the depths of my eating disorder.

With this self hate being something I have only just mentioned in therapy I still find it hard to hear out loud. In a way I’m embarrassed of how things have got the better of me at times – but i suppose nobody’s perfect, right?

I would like to hopee that those who know me perceive me as an accepting person who see’s the best in people, despite any flaws. Knowing I have such strict guidelines for how I think I should be but when it comes to others I am very open to anything – I need to try to find a balance with myself also.

Us perfectionists need to aim for a middle ground between the polar of “perfectionism” and “not caring”. Having the motivation to aim high and achieve the best possible is a good trait but it also needs to be put into perspective to see whether it is taking over our lives.

I find taking a step back from the situation and viewing it as if it’s happening to someone else really helps me rationalise what’s going on. Yes, even when I realise it’s not rational it’s still very hard to change how I’m emotionally feeling, but by viewing both sides it can sometimes minimise things.

I still have a lot of work to do on this aspect of my recovery, but I believe I am now becoming more aware that my perfectionism will never make me feel perfect and understand that…”failure should not be feared because it is necessary to learn and grow”

Suicide Prevention Day 10th September

So today is suicide prevention day and I thought I would help contribute by writing this post. Having been in both general and an eating disorder hospital I was shocked when finding that a vast number of patients where either admitted for taking overdoses, suicidal thoughts or had a history of attempts.

It was an eye opener!

Being brought up in a society that sometimes does not takes illnesses such as depression seriously, it really concerned me that people where obviously unable to access the right support. Depression is a serious mental illness that like any other illness can come with different severities, symptoms and of course different treatment will be needed for each individual.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year and in a short term figure that’s one person every 40 seconds. For such a common issue people need to be made aware that being there for someone even when they appear disconnected or uniterested could be a life saving action.

There is a lot of stigma around suicide, Depression and other mental ilnesses with some viewing it as attention seeking, a sign of weakness or sefishness. This is just not true! Sufferers usually have battled with these thoughts for a while looking for a way to end the pain. They may feel the option of taking their life is the best thing for others or the last resort to stop the pain.

Some people may have no one to turn to as they feel too ashamed to admit they are struggling due to the stigmatization. By breaking this stigma we could help contribute to the reduction of attempts as people may feel more comfortable to reach out for help..

“But what could  do I’m no psychologist…?”

  • Listen – sometimes just sharing an issue can give a release to the sufferer. It will allow them to express their feelings and hopefully by talking about it, it might actually help them find another way to cope with the underlying issue.
  • Be trustworthy – there’s nothing worse than opening up to someone only to see your conversation on social media or shared round the local neighbourhood. Being able to trust someone enough that they do not have the added pressure of worrying about who will be told is highly important in reducing stress levels. But don’t keep information that could possibly leave the person at danger to themselves because that also would also be unhelpful.
  • Give the person space – dont pressure them into revealing anything they feel uncomfortable to do so. If they want to tell you something give them time to build up their courage without pressuring them into doing so.
  • Get help – ask professionals what the best thing to do in the situation and if intervention is needed then that is probably best for the sufferer.

There are many help lines that are open to people both suffering from suicidal thoughts and those around them that are also affected. Many are open 24 hours with someone available at almost any time you need them. Below I have listed a few of the most popular…

  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a help line for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a help line, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.

If you would rather speak to someone you already know or trust here are a few other options

  • Family member
  • Friend
  • Teacher
  • GP
  • Mental healthcare professional
  • Healthcare professional
  • Religious / faith leader

For anyone struggling or affected by the loss of someone it is important you reach out and find the right support….

”Suicide doesnt end the chance of life getting worse it eliminates the possibilities of it ever getting better with the pain passed on to those left behind…keep fighting the battle and you will eventually move through it”

 

Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes – even you…

The art of relaxation… a chance for your body to recharge, recover and revitalise. With many appreciating the time spent sprawled across the sofa, watching a film or enjoying a bubble bath. It is important that we all have this opportunity to just “let go” and forget all that is going on around us.

But it can be hard or even a rare occasion for many as they cannot seem to find any time in their hectic schedule. I understand that many are constantly on the go, busy, under pressure or have many responsibilities… However, I still think we use the excuse far too often!

Everyone has time to fit in at least a couple of minutes to put down the phone, shut their eyes and switch off from the world.Yes, switch off…that thing we all find a struggle to do – me included.

Personally I find it hard to relax, not because I don’t have the time but more because I don’t allow myself too. Unfortunately the compulsion to keep constantly moving and on the go has come as part of my Anorexia. This means that any moments I find myself beginning to relax I am filled with a nagging voice telling me I’m either to lazy or don’t deserve to rest.

This can be difficult when both physically and mentally exhausted and something I am trying to address as a part of my recovery. Whilst an inpatient I had relaxation classes which were scheduled into our weekly time-table. I found these sessions very beneficial and although it was sometimes difficult due to the guilt, I knew it was something I had to do…

Since returning to “normal life” I have not had this dedicated time slot to relax and if I am honest I have not been consistently allowing myself too. The last week I have spent on holiday in Zakythnos, although initially being overwhelmed with guilt, I am beginning to remember just how important it is and am ready to re-introduce it when I return home…

Many of you will be wondering why something most people really love, I manage to find so hard. Well if I’m honest I don’t know the exact reason behind it either? But what I do know is that any moment I do end up trying to switch off my thoughts can become unmanageable and like those with a stressful job this is the time when everything seems to rush to the front of our minds.

I have learnt some techniques to successfully switch off when I feel panicky or overwhelmed and have found this also helps with the aim of “switching off.”

  • Move into a safe or calming environment – being surrounded by a place of safety will automatically make you feel calmer
  • Be aware of sounds, smells and the feel of things around you – noticing small thing’s like the rustling of trees in the wind or even the clock ticking can give you a distraction
  • Lastly, I was advised to focus on my breathing – firstly because slowing down each breath helps your body relax and also they reverse the effects of adrenaline.

“If you neglect to charge a battery, it dies. And if you run full speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race” So make it a priority of yours to schedule in some time to relax because although it may feel an inconvenience, in the long run you will really appreciate it!!

So welcome to my blog…

 

I’m Kirsty, 17 years old, I enjoy Art Jounaling, Sports, playing the Piano and Flute,  SHOPPING, going out and watching lots of films. Sound pretty normal, Huh?

Well now I’ll tell you a bit about my recent experiences…
Here I go….Late last year I got diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.

Yes, yes I know what some of you are thinking, “she’s mad, mental, why don’t you just eat and stop being stupid”.

See this is the harsh stigma that surrounds what I can only explain as a cruel illness that suffocates its sufferers in guilt, shame and rigid routines.

Anyway I could sit here and explain to you what exactly it feels like to be controlled by Anorexia but instead I will just mention the damage it did to me.

On August 6th 2016 I got admitted to Luton and Dunstable children’s ward with a heart rate reaching as low as 33 bpm, hypothermia, breathing that would stop during the night and to top it all off the inability to walk. Now you might start taking me seriously as physical health is much easier to understand.

After two weeks of care in the general ward my condition was only worsening and the doctors told me I would have to go Inpatient at an Eating Disorders Unit. I remember the fear of being told this not knowing what to expect and images of locked doors and crazy patients screaming down the hospital flooded into my head. Yes in a away I had stigma towards mental illness just through scare stories I’ve read in the media and seen on TV… but it is nothing like how I imagined.

In these last few months I’ve spent in Huntercombe Hospital Cotswold Spa I have met some of the most amazing people from all backgrounds with similar struggles and started my long journey to recovery!

My blog is going to follow some of by greatest achievements, battles and just share general awareness for this often misunderstood disorder. And if i can inspire even just one person to reach out for help then that is good enough for me! Please look out for my future posts and I hope you enjoy reading!!

But when is the right time for Recovery?

Anorexia is unlike any other illness, it makes you believe you want to be ill. Yes, it sounds strange but Anorexia tricks you into thinking that the lower your number and the sicker you get the better life will be.

It won’t.

There is no magical number or life changing day and something that my nurse has said to me on many occasions “never in all my years have i met a happy anorexic…”

Its sad but true.

Even, when I laid in my hospital bed a few months ago with the doctors telling me I could slip away in the night. It never hit me that I was actually days off death. “I’m fine” I told them, convinced I wasn’t like the “other Anorexics” who where actually ill. I felt not sick enough to deserve the treatment and not thin enough to deserve the diagnosis.

Having spoken to someone the other day who also went into hospital a few years ago, I found comfort when hearing that she also felt the same. We discussed how we felt that we where not worthy of recovery at the time because we thought we weren’t “that bad”, and how looking at our dropping heart rate didn’t help us see the severity either. I think that’s the hardest thing with this illness is that you become in-denial to what damage you are doing to yourself – your literally blinded from reality.  

So when is the right time for recovery?

This is an easy question for me to answer now but back then was a little harder.

“I believe it is always the right time to recover”

You do not have to be underweight, in hospital and incapable of walking before you recover, because believe me when you get there it will still not feel like the right time. I never had to be fed by an NG tube, does that mean I was not ill enough to recover?

No it certainly does not!

If someone has the diagnosis of Bulimia or EDNOS does this mean they are less worthy of help?

NO they equally struggle just as much!

We don’t compare physical illnesses in this way so why should we mental? You wouldn’t say to someone suffering from breast cancer “you aren’t ill enough as the lady over there dying of terminal cancer to get help”. They should both get the access to the right treatment to help them to have the best possible chance. But why still are people turned away from Doctors not being taken seriously. People no matter what they are sufferring should not have to wait until they’re on deaths door before getting help. It’s just not right!

Only a few years ago i was battling an eating disorder but because I was not underweight at the time I felt that I couldn’t possibly have a problem and people wouldn’t take me seriously. Well I was wrong! If only I had dealt with the issues then it could have prevented my recent admission.

I was still as mentally ill back then, yes not quite as physically but after all Anorexia is a MENTAL illness! And just because I didn’t look physically unwell didn’t mean I wasn’t struggling just as much as at my lowest weight.

Looking back I can’t change what happened to me but if anyone else is struggling at the moment you will never find the right time to recover. Dont waste your day’s saying “when i am sick enough then I’ll recover”, because honestly until your 10 feet under Anorexia will never be happy. Its harsh but true but….you can be happy without Anorexia!
I’ m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying its worth it!!

Letter to my old Inpatient…

Dear all you Huntercombers,

Just when you thought you’d got rid of me, here I am again giving you my 3 week update and sending my Staff cards yeh, sorry about the delay I’m to busy doing what you all told me to do and “enjoying my life!”

Yes that’s right you heard it, I am finally ENJOYING things again!!!

I have done things recently that if you asked me at the start of my admission I would never have believed would be possible….I’ve been…

  • Clothes Shopping which I find difficult but it’s getting easier
  • Friends birthday BBQ – yes a social event where I had to eat unplanned food…my previous worst nightmare but I actually loved every minute of it
  • Strawberry picking – obvs took some cute pics
  • Cycling with my Uncle
  • Sleep over – for the first time in like 5 years because before I would be too anxious
  • Rowed a peddle boat on a lake – nearly got attacked by a swan trying to get on the boat, but I survived
  • Day trip to Brighton – which was absolutely fab
  • Swimming
  • Day out in Cambridge – with my Grandparents and Sister
  • Coffee and cake, like all the time because, well why not?
  • London Dungeons – I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much in my life
  • Running
  • I have attended a recovery group local to me which has been great fun. I have met new people, scrapbooked. And also someone, who runs a campaign to stop mental health stigma, came and taught us how to do pyrography (burning patterns into wood)
  • My blog about recovery from anorexia which I started a month ago has reached 5500 views, had over 300 replies, a Eating Disorder charity shared it on their page and I just really enjoy expressing my experience to try help others.

And right now I am currently chilling in my tent on my first ever camping trip which is exciting stuff! I am with my sister and our 2 best friends and we have had quite the adventure… we had to start a fire without matches or a lighter because some idiots forgot about packing that. I guided everyone 2 miles in the wrong direction to the restaurant before realising it was 5 miles the other way. We eventually got to the resturant 4 hours later after trekking in 30 degree heat across fields in flip flops, through stinging nettles and jumping fences….. BUT WE MADE IT, RIGHT?!

WRONG – the restaurant was shut (I wonder who’s poor planning that was??)

…. So after a quick phone call to my Mummy Spice she came and rescued us and took us somewhere else 😀 The food we eventually got was lush so I won’t complain too much. Also don’t worry I made up for the extra walk with some tasty pancakes, bacon, eggs and syrup – yum!!

See just from this little story you can see “no matter what route life takes you, you can still reach the same destination!” (sneaky quote of the day ;D )

Note to patients:

Recovery won’t always be perfect… it’s not perfect for me…. I have days where it’s difficult and times I feel like giving up, but honestly I am so glad I’ve stuck with it through all the tough times because although it’s hard, it is well and truly worth the struggle!

I remember my first days in hospital crying over everything with no motivation to recover. I felt like the whole world was against me, including myself and it was awful! I wanted nothing more but too crawl back under my rock and hide away from the world…. I didn’t … because apparently that was “not an option”

So slowly I began to get to grips with the whole recovery business, taking a few steps forward and ten steps, back but only now can I really appreciate the help from all the staff pointing me in the right direction and encouragement from everyone else.

It’s amazing really how all them things the staff said that I NEVER believed – are actually coming true…I am finally getting my life back, going out and socialising, eating ice-cream and of course causing mayhem (which will come as a shock to all of you)!!!

I am off on holiday to Zante next week with my family – which although is not the 3 week holiday in America we previously planned… I still have that to look forward too next year! And ANOREXIA WON’T STOP ME THIS TIME!!!

Hugs and positive thoughts coming your way ❤

(AKA – Sassy Spice)

PS: Whatever stage of recovery you are at…whether you are a new admission reluctant to comply or a long standing patient desperate to leave…don’t confuse your path with the destination. Just because it’s stormy now doesn’t mean you’re not heading for sunshine!