Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A Meal for Two

Last night, I spent the evening with a friend of mine, Sarah, who is also in recovery from Anorexia (and keeps a great blog!). As I'm off to Uni for the 2nd year on Sunday, we both set the challenge of a two course meal at a local restaurant in town. On top of this, this particular menu provides no nutritional information - not on the menu and not on the website. No where! For me, this is a huge challenge but one I know I have to overcome if I want to recover fully, and that is something I know I am going to do.
I think sometimes, if I am totally honest, being friends with someone who also has an eating disorder can be dangerous. Anorexia is a competitive, ugly game and even though you do your best to help and support, it's always possible that you are being sucked in. Comparing what's being eaten, who is more anxious, wanting not to look greedy - it's almost playing with fire and wanting to get burnt. I am honest enough to say, that if I think someone is hindering my recovery, then I don't speak to them. It's not a selfish thing. It's something I MUST do because I'm not strong enough to keep from playing the game. Even in 'real life', I constantly struggle with listening to what diet someone is trying this week, which exercise class is on the next. But, I have to get it into my head that I am not them. What I do/eat will not affect them and what they do/eat will not affect me. If I lie about something or decline an offer to go out, then it's ONLY me who is failing. It's only me who is missing out.
However, last night I didn't feel any of those things. If anything, calories were far from my mind. We both enjoyed a two course meal like two people should. The food was great and yes it was an achievement, but the company and conversation were the highlights of the evening. Something in which takes a back seat when recovering.
I didn't compare either. In fact, I was only inspired and felt supported. One positive from being friends with someone else who is in recovery, is that they know how you feel.  Last night has motivated me even more and shown me that actually, I CAN do this.
Quite frankly, I'm tired of rolling the dice and getting the same outcome. This academic year, it's time to roll a double six and get my life back.



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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Work Experience

For the past two days, I've have the privilege of doing work experience at the Mental Health Hospital who saw me, only on the Veterans Mental Health Unit. I call it a privilege as I have spent months writing, emailing and phoning the service trying to get a place, but it's all been worth it!
I may be stupid, for going back to this place and before attending, I felt it. Having worked so hard for this placement, I should have been excited but that self doubt continued to niggle away. Someone suffering from and eating disorder, going back into this setting to listen to other people's stories. How can I possibly be strong enough to take that on if my own mental status isn't yet healthy?
However, I could not have been more wrong. I have spent the last two days observing, learning, meeting Psychologists and listening to the most amazing stories. Stories in which have completely opened my eyes and only encouraged me more to continue along this road when it comes to my own career. I have been nothing but interested and fascinated by everything I've done and seen - ranging from anxiety to PTSD. And to my relief, I haven't struggled at all. I haven't been worried by certain statements made and nothing has shocked me or caused distress. If anything, I now think my experiences are helpful and will continue to help me. Although I'm nothing unique, I do know exactly how someone is feeling and really do understand. I'm not saying someone needs to suffer from a mental illness to become a psychologist, but I think the empathy I will feel for patients will enable me to be good at in this profession.
And for the first time, I have actually felt proud of myself for what I've been through rather than ashamed. I didn't mention my illness but I know I've been in a place which understands mental illness and feels as passionately about stigma and treatment, as I do. I have loved and enjoyed everything and I'm extremely motivated to use my illness to help other people. For me, that would be the ultimate reward and I know my perfectionist traits will actually be useful this time.



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Sunday, 8 September 2013

Life's not fair?

I'm not sure where this post is really going to go so apologize in advance for it lacking any direction - I shall just write!
Yesterday, my brother accepted a job at the same store that I work in and I'm furious. Not with him as such, more my family and their attitude towards him, compared with their attitude towards me. Firstly, when I got my job it was because I applied for it, writing my own CV, filling out the application - nothing remotely different from the rest of the world, I imagine. I should also add, that it wasn't the only job or interview I had applied for. But, I got my current job because I worked for it and wanted it.
Dis-similarly, my brother does not want this job. He was more or less forced to apply for it while my Mum stood outside of the shop, with a CV she had printed off for him because she knew people had left for Uni. It only takes common sense to realize jobs would soon be available. Consequently, first application and first interview results in his first job.
Now don't get me wrong, I am happy for him. Getting your first job in the current economic climate is not easy and he must have impressed at interview, so fair enough. However, my issue lies with the mechanics behind it all. Should someone who doesn't want work be landed with a job? Someone who has done nothing and put no effort in at all, be rewarded with something that many people are currently longing for?
Like many teenage lads, my brother is a gamer. I don't see him leave his room unless it's for school, food or football practice. He does nothing else (no housework, conversation etc). Of course though, my parents believe he is the model child and therefore, everything is done for him. As for actual life skills, well, they do no exist.
Also, this is MY work place. Anyone will know that when you live at home, working actually provides some relief. Especially for me. Work is a place away from food, life and constant struggles. It's a huge distraction for me as well as a laugh and a purpose. This is something, after numerous arguments, I can still not get across when stating why I have such an issue with him being there. It will completely change.
This may seem incredibly selfish and could be seen as simply complaining that 'life's not fair', but sometimes I'm not sure it is. Sometimes it really does seem like some people receive everything on a plate given in front of them, while the rest of us have to work extremely hard to achieve the same outcome.
My only positive, is that those of us who face difficulty and power through are equipped when life throws something absolutely awful at them. I guess the are the strong ones.
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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Manchester

Since moving to Uni, I have definitely realised that I much prefer a city. I love the atmosphere, the fast paced environment, the shops and the anonymity it provides. Having said that, I didn't go yesterday to be alone. I went to visit a good friend from my degree course who happens to live in Manchester.
After walking through my own town's beautiful park, I traveled via train to Manchester. I had been feeling a little run down from working so much and doing so little on days off, so a friendly face and gossip was most definitely welcomed. We spent the entire day shopping, talking, eating and drinking. It was really perfect. I can honestly say I just let things be. We went for lunch somewhere I'd never been because that's her favourite place, and then went for cocktails in the afternoon, just because we could. Although, after hardly consuming much alcohol for a few years, a single drink now can make me quite merry and as soon as I walked out of the bar, I casually walked into the curb and tripped, leaving us both hysterical. Smoooooth Samantha ;)
I stayed until late so persuaded her to try Yo Sushi - sharing dishes, laughing and putting the world to rights - before returning home with the company of the 'We Will Rock You' musical soundtrack. I enjoyed the day so much, and feel proud to say that I did not count a single calorie. 
A perfect city and a brilliant friend, were definitely needed and appreciated. This is my idea of a good life.

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Monday, 2 September 2013

Daisy

I've just watched this video by one of my favourite fashion bloggers, Daisy. Not only just she keep an amazing blog and look absolutely beautiful in everything (and I'm sure she'd rock a bin bag!), she too suffers from a mental illness. Her recent video explains her struggles with anxiety and agoraphobia, and it's extremely inspiring. She is extremely motivating to watch and I think that just listening to her speak about how far she's come, provides an instant positivity boost. 
I'm not doing this because she's asked me too but because I personally love her and hopefully, you will too (so I really recommend you check her out!)




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Sunday, 1 September 2013

What's that word?

I am writing this after a conversation with a friend of mine, which began by discussing the importance of money and happiness. We both agree that deciding which is most important is extremely difficult in today's society. It should be happiness, but is it?
Anyway, stemming on from that, I began to question whether we are ever truly happy. I've often imagined that if I were completely free of an eating disorder, then I would be happy. I mean, I'd be free of rigid rules, anxiety and moments of insanity. What would be left must be happiness, right?
Well now I'm beginning to think that's not going to be the case at all. I am someone who is never really going to be satisfied. I expect the very best from myself, with absolutely everything. Admittedly, I am a perfectionist so I push myself to achieve the results I want - with my qualifications, at work, relationships, my own outlook on life etc. But as soon as something has been 'completed' then I move onto something else, which I guess is totally natural. Our society creates an idea of the perfect life, in which we latch onto from a young age. School, College, University, Marriage, House, Children - where does it end? DOES is even end?
When do we get to that point in life where we think 'yes, actually this is happiness'? Or maybe we don't. Maybe happiness is something that comes and goes. For example, you are happy on your graduation day, and then begin creating the next moment of happiness. Although the thought of only being happy for a short period of time seems a tad ridiculous and I'm not sure that's what I believe because I know of people who seem to be constantly happy. Of course, they may not be and it's all a huge facade, struggling with their own inner battles privately. 
Happiness is most probably one of those things that is defined differently by each individual human being, and maybe that's not a bad thing. Having something that can create discussion and opinions can only bring people together and allow for new ideas and relationships to form. Just like it did today.
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Hello September

September already! Dare I say the summer is almost over and it's time to find the cosy knitwear, and embrace the Autumn leaves and darker evenings sat around the fire? 
The summer months have been an odd mixture of work, reflection and maybe a little too much isolation! But progress has been made, that I am definitely sure of.
I often think September 1st isn't just the 1st of a month but almost the start of a year - the academic one? Maybe that's just my justification for starting another fresh! And that's what I aim to do.
I am returning to Uni at the end of the month for year two, which I actually can't wait to begin now. I don't think I'm ashamed to admit that I thrive off learning. As much as I hate essay writing and researching, I also love the purpose behind it. I am doing it to give myself better opportunities in life and to achieve my dream career. And on the topic of work, yesterday I managed to secure my old job back in my store near Uni, which I am immensely pleased about.
I am also, as previously mentioned, moving into my new house in 3 weeks! I can't wait. I don't actually know 4 out of the 5 girls that I'm living with but I kind of like that. I am someone who enjoys alone time and as they are all studying the same subject, I'm quite sure our timetables will allow for some time in the house alone. However, I do want to become more sociable this year. I find it too easy to say 'no' to events and miss out on many occasions, and I want that to change. I want the word 'yes' to become a regular word in my everyday vocabulary. 
'Life is what happens when you step outside of your comfort zone'
This saying couldn't be more true and in light of this, I am going to Manchester twice this week to meet two lovely people. Tomorrow afternoon, I actually aim to be sipping cocktails in (what my best friend from uni has described as) a 'posh bar'. There's no time like the present eh!?
So yes, Hello September. Please be good!
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