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    Community Voices


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    Community Voices

    Talking about “You Know Who”. How I am finally ready to defeat my eating disorder. #EatingDisorderRecovery #AnorexiaNervosa #HarryPotter

    I consider myself to be a fairly normal person. I have an amazing boyfriend, family and friends. I have a good stable job, a house I have slowly renovated into a home and lots of fulfilling hobbies. Countless reasons to be happy, content and thankful every day. Despite this, I have still spent nearly two decades at war with myself for a reason I am yet to fathom. I have anorexia – three words I have never been able to speak aloud until recently. A relapse has crumbled my ill informed resolution that I was recovered. I believed I was ok because I managed to keep my BMI just above the minimum weight in recent years.

    And yes I do know how ridiculous that sounds.

    Food and anorexia have a complicated relationship. Those of us unlucky enough to meet them both get dragged along for the tumulus ride until we completely lose our grip on what life was like without their constant fighting and abuse.

    Food is part of all our lives. It is unavoidable and it is the reason why eating disorders are so damn hard. There is a reason why recovery from alcoholism and addiction happen with abstinence. This is clearly not an option for me.

    At the age of 20 I reached an impasse – keep doing the job I loved or let anorexia destroy me completely. I was severely underweight. I could barely get through a shift without passing out and it was getting impossible to hide how weak and lightheaded I constantly was. But I was convinced I was fine. I had it all under control and anyone who suggested I did not was met with aggression, hostility and pushed away. They were the crazy ones, not me. Then one day, the reality and tragedy of my own self inflicted torture suddenly and unexpectedly became apparent. I was making wedding favours with my best friends and being the thoughtful human she always is, my bestie brought out a cuppa and a bar of chocolate to thank us for our help. Just a small bar of chocolate but I was terrified. I was angry that she thought this was a nice thing to do. For some unknown reason, in that moment, the absolute absurdity of my own behaviour and thinking suddenly slapped me in the face. I could finally see and accept how sick I was and why everyone was so concerned about me. I still don’t understand why it hit me then but that moment marked the start of a long, uphill struggle.

    I didn’t eat that chocolate bar. Things were still not good for a long time, but slowly I did gain weight and life got better. I made peace with the damage I had inflicted on my body. I accepted most of it wouldn’t go away. I kept busy, kept pushing myself and convinced myself the Cornish pixie was back in the cage (Harry Potter reference for any of you that was wasted on).

    Then lockdown hit and life became impossible. I started running too much and eating less and less. When life started to get better again, I acknowledged I was slipping back into dangerous habits and I stopped running. Go me, great save. I ended up in a controlling, toxic relationship for far longer than I should have, family stress was mounting and work was becoming intolerable. I blamed all this for the reason I was moody, angry and pushing everyone away. Then, unexpectedly I fell in love with the best person I have ever known. Along with the horrifying realisation I was no longer in control of my relationship with food again. I am not convinced I ever really was.

    Relapses are their own special kind of hell. This time I knew I was hurting myself and everyone I cared about. I knew I was a nightmare, lashing out and confusing and upsetting those who cared. But only on the quieter days. Most of the time I was oblivious to this because I was too busy screaming at myself that I was not good enough, never would be and didn’t deserve to eat. All while being surrounded by food and people and the expectation to act normal. I was desperate to keep hiding my secret from the world. The constant headaches and exhaustion came back, I stopped sleeping and it started to get impossible to get through the day. My weight was dropping but I couldn’t go back again, I had found something too precious and wonderful to lose. There I was back at that impasse again. So I ate, but not enough. I treated food like painkillers; just enough to take the edge off and struggle on, but not enough to live a full life. Every time I ate my poor body struggled. Gastroparesis and the bloating that goes with it made my determination disintegrate. Panic would set in and the same sorry record keeps repeating.

    This time I want to get better for good. I want to live a full life. I don’t fully believe I deserve it yet but I am putting the work in. So I have been honest at long last and admitted those three terrible words – “I have anorexia”. Maybe not always in the bravest way, but still a massive step towards the life I know is waiting. It was the most terrifying decision of my life. I’m not sure what reaction I expected but certainly not the overwhelming acceptance, patience and empathy that I have received. My boyfriend has not ran away, he holds me tighter and makes me feel more complete than I ever thought possible. I am not what my eating disorder makes me, I am so much more. So now I try to tackle the things that scare me head on. The victories might be small but they are significant. The tough days are still there too when that voice is far too loud and overbearing. Recovery is the hardest thing I have ever done but it is slowly getting easier.

    So I summarise my own thoughts on recovering from anorexia in the terminology I know best – Harry Potter references. When the last Harry Potter book was released, my mum read the last line joking she would tell me what it was if I didn’t behave. The last line was “All was well”. The irony in the significance of this line is no longer wasted on me. To get to that point “You Know Who” had to be defeated and the war won. In the wise words of Hermione – “fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself”. So for me, no more hiding behind “He Who Must Not Be Named”. It’s time to win the war. I guess my mum has always been trying to tell me something all along. All will be well.

    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    "God counts her tears." -Jewish Proverb

    <p>"God counts her tears." -Jewish Proverb</p>
    2 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    Issues with my Mother

    I love my mom, but recently does anyone else suddenly feel like your relationship to either your father or mother has quickly done a 180 and is now in a really bad place? currently my mom seems to think I’m rude and insinuates that I’m vindictive, she said she’s protecting herself from me hurting her. (I’ve never physically or ever would hurt my mom,) she’s referring to mentally but I still find her logic ludicrous. she acts like if I don’t do exactly as she demands that I’m being disrespectful, she once said she did a bad job raising me when I told her what I wanted to do with my life
    #Relationships #Depression #Anxiety #MentalHealth

    2 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    There is no way to keep this quick, but I'll try. I'm 50 and still battling with OCD, ADHD, panic, social and relationship anxiety, constant depression. I could take a conversation with a professional in so many directions in talking about my symptoms, my experiences, etc, to try to "get to the root of it", but it's never simple, and I'm now exhausted. However I HAVE to keep trying, but finding yet another therapist and doctor to trust and open up to is just so overwhelming. My life effectively ended at 17 when my first panic attacks took over, and from that very moment, I knew I'd never be the same. There are certain things I've been unwilling to openly discuss. I've seen many therapists, gotten a lot off my mind over the years (that probably saved my life), I've taken a million different prescriptions, but have never stuck consistently with therapy, never have been as open as I could be, and so have made only enough progress to manage the worst of my symptoms, and now I just exist. I feel I'm looking downhill at the rest of my life, craving my younger days prior to the onset of this horrible condition(s) with an aching and desperate heart to go back in time and experience even a second of peace again. With two daughters now turning into adults, no spouse or family around for support, I have more ongoing responsibilities now and need help now more than ever. I am terrified.

    25 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    First my Grandma, Now my favorite Aunt #Grief

    I just got a call, last night, that my aunt passed away, only about 6 weeks after we just lost my grandma. My heart feels like it’s in shreds, right now. Honestly, more for my cousins than myself, though I was really close to her, too. She wasn’t anywhere near perfect, and I’m certain she had some kind of mental health issues, but she was the least judgmental person in my family, at least towards me. She was always the one to ask how I’m doing and called me out on it if I tried to lie that I was fine. I couldn’t trust her not to tell anyone, but I could trust that she would listen and not respond with judgment. She had been in an emotionally abusive relationship for 23 years, and had 2 daughters, now 24 and 21. They’d lived everywhere from a nice neighborhood in Aurora, Colorado, to a pickup truck in a Las Vegas campground, to living with my parents in Texas. Most recently, her daughters had been supporting both medically complicated parents in an apartment, and working many hours of overtime each to do so. Her daughters absolutely doted on both her and our grandma whom we just lost. She died in their apartment, as her oldest daughter did CPR on her. I can only imagine how much they’re hurting, right now, but being an empath and also dealing with my own grief, I’m feeling extremely overwhelmed by it.

    #Highly Sensitive Person or HSP

    26 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    My Nemesis: Social Anxiety

    That archenemy called #SocialAnxiety has felt like a terror, terrible and overpowering, overwhelming and embarrassing. Going into public I have hidden behind my husband, my phone, my children. When heading into a situation with people I have been frozen outside wondering how I can sustain the nerves and fear. It takes so much out of me and so much time to recover. One distinct experience stands out in my memories.

    I trembled inside as I willed myself to join a new group. I drove to a park. I got out of the van with my child I had with me that day. I forced myself to ask someone if I was in the right place. She verified that I was. Shortly after that my little child wandered a bit too far from me. It was then that I saw my exit, my savior, my escape, my release from this agony!

    I walked towards my little one exploring the playground and busied myself with anything other than staying in this coterie of mothers. And I did not return!

    This hiking group made their way down the trail without me. I had endured intense pain only to survive it by running away.

    I was the girl who bolted. The introverted, highly sensitive woman who can score so well in academics but failed to learn societies social language.

    I could not let what I did remain as it was. I must face this punishing fear. To prove to myself that it could be done. Exposure is the best antidote to irrational fear… or so they say.

    I must confirm that one of the hardest days of my life was going back to that exact same circumstances, forcing myself out of the car, and among the same people. The physical sensations of fear and dread are inexplicably hard to describe. It grips the body with #Anxiety and uncertainty.

    That day I survived. I walked that trail with that hiking group. I made up for running away that first time and living with the regret.

    I have since pushed myself limping and fearful into a myriad of social situations. I can now face them head on and survive them.

    However, this does not equal thriving in them. My fears, anxieties, and #Depression have kept me from forming bonds and real relationships that are solid and necessary for one’s health and life.

    Social anxiety is a beast, a ruthless monster.

    It takes these fears and tells me I am not enough because I cannot measure up to others. It is watching people have the ease of conversation and connection right beside you while you do not know how to be one of them. Social anxiety along with depression has woven barren crevices along my soul.

    However, it still stands that I faced one of my biggest and hardest fears that day. I am sure no one was aware of the inner turmoil that was shredding my insides. But I did do it! I did go. And that in and of itself is a step, a Herculean step in the right direction.

    4 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    Reflections on Viewing LIfe through a Skewed Lens

    Part 1 of 2 For 37 years I practiced Podiatry and for 13 years I ran a Foot and Ankle surgical residency. In my early years I had issues with #Anxiety , sleeplessness, and anger. At times I was overconfident, impish, and impulsive. However, my parents never felt it was necessary to have me evaluated by a mental health professional.

    Around my 40th birthday, my wife noticed a bizarre surge of overconfidence in my personality. I was not sleeping very well, and I was talking fast. She insisted that I see a psychiatrist. He thought my “manic” actions were consistent with #BipolarDisorder disease. The medication I was given caused some untoward complications. I found myself pacing and the medication exacerbated an existing skin condition. I became frustrated and stopped taking the medication. I was in denial. But after three weeks or so, the #Mania subsided, but it was followed by two months of severe #Depression . Eventually the depression subsided as well.

    For the next 20 years or so I consulted with psychotherapists and psychiatrists for anxiety and anger issues. When I turned sixty, I developed #EssentialTremor in my hands. Suddenly, I was faced with the reality that I would have to stop practicing medicine. Before I knew it, I was in a deep depression. Large doses of antidepressants threw me into a hypomanic state. Some of the newer generation mood stabilizers where prescribed, but I took I took them inconsistently. I understood that I was having a manic episode, but I did not perceive my actions as unusual. Eventually, I stopped taking the medication all together.

    In the blink of an eye, I bought a BMW, had an earring put in my ear, started smoking marijuana and drinking tequila. While reeling in this hypomanic state I committed domestic violence and was incarcerated for eight months. The judge agreed to release me if I could be transferred to an acceptable mental health facility. I was stable for eight months in jail before I was brought to an inpatient institution. It was nice, with colorful townhouses, a pool, and a ping-pong table. Unlike what I would have expected. I received daily psychotherapy, individually and in groups. There was art and music therapy, yoga, and meditation.

    My medication was carefully titrated with input from the entire team. I was incredibly lucky to have this type of exemplary care. It was all arranged by my amazing wife who clearly understood that I had a mental illness that needed appropriate care. I then spent three months at an outpatient center. I liked the camaraderie I had with the other patients. We shopped together and had group meals. I was able to come and go as I pleased. My medication was still carefully monitored. I learned to practice Mindfulness and developed patience.

    After 14 months I finally went home. The dogs greeted me as though I had never left. Many of my old friends alienated themselves from me, but others accepted my condition as they would any other illness. Today I liken the aftereffects of a major fire at Yellowstone National Park to improvements in my life situation. When my wife and I took our children to that park many years ago, there had been a devastating fire that left burnt debris all over the ground. But if you took a second look, you could see small, bold green sprouts popping up everywhere. To me they are symbols of new life, new #Relationships , strength, and hope. Through devastation we can endure, grow, and succeed.

    I was stuck, when I got home, and I just did not know what to do next. My wife is not a big advocate of self-pity. She said, “you could learn how to cook and clean.” “You could even take a crack at doing laundry.” “You would even consider making me some homemade soup. I looked at her like she was crazy. You get soup from a can or from a deli. Just before leaving for work one morning, she told me that every soup starts with celery, carrots, and onions. That day I looked up a recipe for split pea soup. I bought organic carrots, celery, and sweet onions. Gave them a good scraping and then a bit of dicing. I sautéed and let them sweat for a while. Then I added some chicken broth and split peas. What do you know, it came out pretty good. In time I bought an immersion blender, so I could give the soup a creamy texture and I also augmented the recipe with spicy chicken sausage. Before long, I was making Lentil, Pasta e Fagioli, and Gumbo. I even learned how to make a Roux.

    The thing about soup is it spends a long-time simmering. I started to use this time to write. I self-published a book about my struggles with mental health. I was invited to lead discussion groups at mental health facilities and started to do th

    Community Voices

    Reflections on Viewing LIfe through a Skewed Lens

    Part 2 of 2 is on a regular basis. For entertainment I attended a storytelling slams. Now that is a lot of fun. I even started participating.

    My wife claims that I rely on planned incompetence to get out of cleaning and doing laundry. She encourages me though, by telling me how sexy I look with a vacuum cleaner in my hand. I still have a fair amount of downtime, but being a good grandpa fills it up. I am no longer unhappy. And it all started with celery carrots and onions.

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