Night anxiety

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For most people having a large meal accompanied with a drink or two (whether it be alcoholic or not) and perhaps a sweet treat to end the evening off, the feeling of being full is satisfactory. And I can say with confidence that a lot of the times that is the case for me too. But then there are nights like the one I had a few nights back  when anxiety creeps in as I feel how the food pushes up. If there is one thing I am most uncomfortable with, not only during my battle with ED but also after recovery, it is the sensation of feeling full. And it has nothing to do with how much I have eaten either.

I had a late dinner as I only ate after fetching my daughter from gymnastics training, followed by a cup of tea and a biscuit (I can’t have a cuppa without something sweet) and not long after went to bed. Lying down I could feel the food pressing up and even though I didn’t over-eat, my mind immediately went into defend mode.

Defend mode = compulsive behavior:

  • repeatedly going over how much I ate during the day
  • mind racing trying to justify what I ate
  • combating negative thoughts with constant reassurance

Apart from the compulsive behavior, I also battle the old voice of bulimia trying to convince me that I should just purge. “It’s easy, you should know.” I don’t though because I know if I start I won’t stop. I have not spend years in counselling and recovery to relapse. The post-recovery battle is often worse than the recovery itself.

Nights like those are dreadful but my assurance comes from knowing that I will be okay. That after the night dawn breaks and I wake up with an empty stomach and another day starts. A day which I can take head on because I survived my internal nightmare. A day which starts with a cup of tea and a small breakfast whether it be a muffin, slice of toast or an egg on toast because I need to fuel my body. A day I can celebrate because I am no longer defined by my mental disorder.

You will be okay.

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18, and still counting.

class-of-98

7, the year standard you were when you entered our school and our lives.

1, the number of days it took for me to secretly fall madly in love with you.

3, the number of classes we had together: English, Biology and Registry.

2, the number of Judo Jnr World Championship titles you held.

2, the number of times we were dared by our friends to kiss each other in socially awkward moments.

0, the amount of times we actually followed through on these dares.

Too many to count, afternoons we trained together in our local gym, just as friends.

1, the number of chocolates we gambled on in support of each other’s weight loss/weight gain.

1, the number of times I won our chocolate gambled bets.

3, the number of dances we attended separately, with me wishing I was the one holding your hand.

1, the number of times we actually danced together.

18, the age you were when you decided to end your life.

4, the number of family members you left behind.

Too many to count, the number of people that attended your funeral.

12, the number of times you have haunted my dreams and filling me with a desperate hope.

18, the number of years it has been since that dreadful day.

You will stay forever 18, while we keep on counting the years without you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recovery, it is worth it!

by Anonymous Recovery is a constant decision. It’s downloading and deleting that calorie counting app over and over again. It’s having a panic attack after hearing your family talking about diets at the Christmas dinner table. It’s texting your best friend and feeling like a burden because you’ve needed her support every day this week. It’s…

via Untitled — Beating Eating Disorders

The above piece of writing is worth sharing, and for you, worth reading. Recovery continues to be a daily decision, and at times not an easy one to make BUT it is worth choosing life, overcoming and victory.

Much love to you all battling this horrid illness. May today be better than yesterday, and tomorrow may you claim a small victory over your ED.

Is social media an acceptable platform to ask for help?

A week ago I read a post, which was controversial to say the least, on one of the groups I follow on a social media site. The group is aimed at connecting South African expats within New Zealand, answer immigration related queries and general support. This particular post however was very unexpected and abrupt. A lady posted a photo of a handgun and in the post she admitted to buying it for the purpose of committing suicide. She confessed that she is depressed and has been since immigrating 7 years ago. I found it to be raw, emotional, honest and heart-felt. She was asking for help! She was begging for someone to contact her, reach out to her, show her she is not alone.

Now you can imagine the response she received. Overwhelmingly some members firstly tried to contact one of the administrators of the group who also happens to be a phycologist. Then they responded with constructive comments, telling her that she is not alone and that she did the right thing to reach out. I refrained from commenting at first, and instead I send her a personal message. I asked her if there is anything I can do to help and that it seems like she is receiving immense support from certain members so that is a positive outcome. I also told her that she is not alone as many immigrants often experience depression or anxiety either due to a lack of friendships,  or relationships taking a strain in a new country or from being home sick. I didn’t hear from her straight away, but when I did I was mortified to what happened next. She said that someone called the cops on her and that she received an aggressive message from one of the members. The message was filled with hostility towards her, telling her that social media is no place to post such extremities and that she’s only looking for attention. Now that got my blood boiling!

I do agree that it was shocking and unexpecting to see the post, but since when do we discourage people from seeking help, or place restrictions on when and where to ask for help? Are people so ignorant to the need of others or do they simply not understand the seriousness of mental illness? How many people don’t seek help because of the lack of empathy from others? Or that they are scared of being judged, criticized and ridiculed?

A few hours passed and I didn’t hear back from her. And it wasn’t only me who was concerned. The administrator of the group put out a message asking if anyone who knows her personally can please go out to her place of residence to check up on her as no one had heard from her since. And this is where the floodgates of opinions opened and a platform created for fingerpointing and blame-shifting. One of the comments posted was in support of the lady, a friend of hers (she clearly knew of all that was said via personal messages). Her courage to post her comment gave me a boost of confidence and I put in my 2 cents. I posted one comment, and left the discussion. I needed to express my utter dissapointment and frustration towards those who blatantly blamed her for posting the photo. I know that I possibly overreacted, and that this is a topic so close to home it still hurts but I feel that it shouldn’t be overlooked because it then means we are not crediting the person, not accepting that their feelings are real and true and don’t believe that they really do need help.

Thankfully and with great relieve the lady responded to the comments, expressed her gratitude to those who contacted her and said she is feeling less anxious and can think clearly about her situation. She did however mention that she doesn’t think calling the police was the right thing to do because even though they meant well, it placed more pressure on her to deal with their queries as well as made her panic about the possible outcome.

I am fully aware that there are several people who has not dealt with mental illness before, and perhaps don’t know how to respond to such an outcry for help. I am also not expecting everyone to become warriors, fighting the battle of depression and suicide. I do however hope that the above mentioned controversial social media post brought awareness to the fact that people are suffering, most often in silence, from mental illness. I hope that this makes people stop, look at their friends, family and acquaintances and ask with true sincerity “Are you okay?”

Chapter 1 – Part 3

A new year dawned, new years resolutions were made but nothing seemed to have improved.

I had been binge eating/starving myself for approximately 6 months. Our final exams were long over, and my friend had since stopped fasting. Before I knew it I was caught in a vicious binge eating cycle, and was trapped in a down spiralling, out of control eating disorder. I was in denial that anything was wrong at the time, because I only knew of 3 types of eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia and obesity (and I had none of these, so therefor I am okay). My friend often asked me whether I was still fasting, to which I lied and said no…honestly lying had become far too easy of a thing to do. I felt bad for not telling her the truth, but by then my ED had convinced me that if anyone finds out, they will try to stop me.

By the end of our first semester I felt extremely alone, even though I was surrounded by school friends every day. I felt sad even though this was meant to be the best year of my school career as we had our school ball to look forward to and the ever rebellious 40 days. I became more socially distant and easily distracted during lessons. My thoughts were often interrupted by images of death, my death. Self-loathing soon filled empty gaps. Why are you allowing this to happen? Why are you eating uncontrollably? You are fat! You are ugly!

I developed a fear for food, yet I couldn’t stop myself consuming every last little morsel whenever I ate. That fear grew into a panic, a panic so severe that I felt as if someone is trying their utmost to stop my heart from beating, forcing its last beat upon my breath. I was in a dark pit of loneliness and entrapment, and the only way out was to not be anymore.

*my blog entry Blank Space is a follow up event to the above, but I will use an edited version to highlight what took place. Please read with caution and an open mind as the wording depicts the impact depression and the onset of an eating disorder can have on ones behaviour*

The school semester has come to an end and it was not mandatory for the senior students to attend the last day. Mom left for work but reminded me that she will stop by early afternoon. I pretended to eat a small and healthy breakfast but I binned it as soon as she left. I made myself comfortable on the couch and did a bit of channel surfing. Not long after I remembered dad’s whisky collection in the kitchen cupboard and thought now is the perfect time to try it as there are no adults around, and I am not out in the public eye. I have had sneaky sips before but didn’t know anything about single or double shots and myself a generous helping. I drank with ease and on an empty stomach I felt lightheaded with a hint of courage. I used this new found enlightenment to make myself a sandwich filled with the goodness of peanut butter and crisps. I also helped myself to all the leftovers from the night before.

I had another drink, a stronger mix, a second sandwich and a plate of chicken. By lunch time I had consumed a fair share of alcohol and had eaten more than I could stomach. I had a sense of utter disappointment, and that all familiar voice repeated telling me you are worthless. You can’t control what you eat. You need me. You can’t life without me. Just look at you, you are ugly, fate and don’t deserve to eat. In that moment I had what I can only describe as a blank, a feeling of nothingness and I didn’t want to feel anymore. I didn’t want to wake up the following morning knowing that I can’t change how I feel and what I think. I wanted out.

The next hour in this state of nothingness seemed unreal. I went to my parents’ bathroom were I found my dad’s blood pressure and mom’s kidney medication. I also found a box of pain killers. I leaned in a crouching position against the cold wall tiles and consumed as many of the pills as I could. The motion was automated, no thinking was involved. A daze of uncertainty dawned on me and I felt sudden panic. I crawled to my dad’s bedside table and found a pen. I felt a sharp pain on my wrist and realised that I was trying to scratch the words HELP and GOD into my lower arm. My pain was silent yet visible. Shivering and feeling cold and numb, I lost consciousness.

Darkness, emptiness and a sense of freedom engulfed me.

to be continued