Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Summary!

I am going to say goodbye to 2013 by reviewing my year. The more I've looked into old posts, the more I realise that although I don't think I've made much progress, that actually all of the small things have maybe mounted up into something much bigger! 

January
Looking back, I can see that I began the year still very consumed with my illness. I had the winter blues, and still trying to figure out why I had chosen this path rather than the other destructive method. I think I was very confused about what I was doing, and questioning every action I made. Ultimately, It was a month of working and Uni!

February
Again, I was in a similar place to January, with my thoughts still completely tangled, but decided to turn my experience into something more positive. I took part in a video for EDAW '13, which I now believe has almost 6000 views. Here it is, if you haven't seen it already!




March
A big highlight of 2013 was being able to meet the beautiful Amy-Louise in London! We went to see Matilda the musical, shopped in Camden, Covent Garden and Oxford street, as well as sightseeing and playing in the arcade until midnight. It was just an amazing few days, which has created life long memories.


April
A quiet month really but I came home for Easter and I turned 19! I can see now that I wasn't perhaps well enough to celebrate properly, but I did my best at the time. I also began to learn how powerful the sun and spring are. I definitely started to believe that the sun is a positive thing for me.

May
I finished the first year of my degree with a good mark and took myself off to visit a friend in Nottingham! It was a good month but I think I begun to see the importance of how recovering from a mental illness (eating disorders in particular) have nothing to do with someone's looks or weight.  

June
I went on my first ever holiday alone with a friend, to Spain! It wasn't perhaps the most enjoyable holiday (as we no longer speak!) but it was definitely a HUGE step forward for me. I was completely out of my comfort zone. I played it very safe but very much enjoyed the sun, beach and cocktails at night! I also made a huge step in that I got rid of the scales. I can honestly say now, that I don't know what I weigh and don't want to know either!


July
Not going to lie, my summer after that holiday was so boring as I just worked. However, I did go to the Harry Potter studio tour with a good friend, which was AMAZING. I would definitely go again! It sounds stupid, but things like this would be been completely impossible 2 years ago because I wouldn't be in control of food. It's nice to look back and see that I had a great day :)


August
This month saw the yearly mark of when I was officially diagnosed. I had gained just over a stone (I'm guessing) and celebrated at my brother's GCSE results meal out. It wasn't for me as such, but going out is a big thing for me so it was a special occasion ever more so.

September
The new year at Uni began, and I moved into my new house with my lovely housemates! I completed an insightful work experience placement on a Verteran's mental health unit. I also traveled to Manchester to see one of my best friends from Uni. We spent hours shopping, eating and drinking - and it was just the perfect day. Looking back, I am proud of this day as I was completely out of control and just let things be. It was easy but it was so liberating to just enjoy time doing what I wanted. I also went out for a 2 course recovery meal with my wonderful friend Sarah. No numbers, just good food, company and conversation!

                  
October
I many spent October settling back into University. A friend from home came up to see me, where we spent the day seeing what Liverpool had to offer! The highlight was going back to Manchester with my friend to see Birdy live! We enjoyed food, drink, music and had the pleasure of bumping into another friend, Tanya, who I at long last met! It was a beautiful night.

                  


November
This month saw both highs and lows! I was awarded an academic scholarship and secured a voluntary placement which were both fantastic! However, many life lessons were learned because of difficulty with friendships and living with new people. Now, I am grateful for the experience and the closeness of some friendships that have formed but at the time it was nothing but stressful! I am proud though, that my coping mechanisms were much healthier. I turned to reading, blogging more and watching films as a way to relax rather than much more damaging behaviours. I also enjoyed a fantastic night out with my lovely housemates, for dinner and seeing the iconic coca-cola van!

December
Finally, the month of Christmas! This hasn't been the easiest Christmas, nor the most exciting, but any anxiety has been channeled into something positive. I've enjoyed gingerbread latte's with my grandparents, Christmas dinner with my family, chocolate and board games with my brother, and a football match with my Dad. Additionally, boxing day saw the funniest evening ever with my Nan and Dad. Although it's not been an indulgent December, it's been relaxed and most importantly, I HAVE joined in, and I've coped. 

And, I think that's the biggest lesson I've learned this year. I can cope and I will. I can join in and nothing bad will happen. I can say yes to the unknown, without getting hurt. Contrastingly, it's ok to not be ok too. Recovery isn't easy, but as long as I keep swimming and challenging new things, then it will get better and my life will become more and more enjoyable. 2013 has actually been a good year, and I look forward to seeing what 2014 has to offer. I don't make new year's resolutions as I believe that if I want to change something then I will do it anyway, nor do I hope 2014 to be good or bring positivity. I believe that if I want change or happiness, then I just have to go and get it! And that is what I will be doing in 2014!

Happy New Year everyone! Here's to 2014!




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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Dear Body..

I've been reading around a lot recently, and stumbled across a few posts from women who had written letters to their body. I quite like the idea really and thought it would be quite a positive and insightful thing to read (and do). What I found was not what I initially thought I would find. Some were positive, saying thank you and being grateful for their bodies but some included quite derogative and hurtful comments, such as
'Why do you have to be so fat?' 
'Why don't I look like Kate Moss?'
'Why is my metabolism so slow?'
Now, I know that I don't have a fantastic relationship with my body but I certainly don't think like this. I am actually taken aback that women would go as far to write things like this when really we should be praising the one thing that allows us to live? It's actually made me wonder whether I have a better relationship with my body than most others (which sounds completely ridiculous given the circumstances). So, here is my attempt at this..

Dear Body,

Well, where do we start? 
It's been a tough few years but I guess I'll get straight to the point and say thank you. Thank you for the first few years of being overfed and under exercised. You managed to survive to late night food feasts, double helpings of dinner and pudding, and thousands of sugary treats. You didn't develop a physical illness and you carried on regardless.
Secondly thank you for then managing to cope with the opposing extreme of being under nourished and overworked. I have no idea how, but you managed to get me into University, continue my part time job and perform in musicals twice a year. Thank you for coping with all of my destructive coping mechanisms, the endless cross trainer sessions and self harm. You didn't deserve any of that, yet you still kept going in hope that one day I would change. Thank you for putting up with all of my stupid behaviours that were slowly destroying and damaging you. 
I know you're not perfect. You wobble a bit and have a few scars but you know what, they all carry some form of meaning that shows me that I have survived many things; overcome many hurdles and challenges. Therefore, I would not change them because that makes me who I am. 
It does not matter that you don't look like a super model because you know what? When you smile, it fills a room, and that is far more attractive than any shape or size. And ultimately, that's all I want for you. H.A.P.P.I.N.E.S.S.
My aim is to make you happy without causing myself any anxiety. I aim to nourish you correctly, treat you in moderation and exercise you for fun and strength, not because I feel I have to or it's what's expected.
I hope that one day, looking after you is done without a second thought, but until then thank you for being strong and sticking with me. It's safe to say, you're awesome.

Sam
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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!


Just a quick note to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a fantastic day, full of food, drink, family and everything you've ever wished for! Make it the best yet
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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Approaching Christmas

So this morning, I finished the first semester of year two meaning I am half way through my degree (CRAZY). I am now waiting until the weekend until I can go home for Christmas.This Christmas will be my second Christmas since deciding to recover from an eating disorder, only this time I am once again approaching it with a new head on my shoulders. I am not in the same place as I was last year, or the year before in fact, which is actually quite scary. 
Although I believe that I AM still making progress, it is very slow progress now. This current progress does not involve weight gain or weight loss. For me right now, it is all about maintaining whilst starting to live again, rather than simply survive. For me, I am focusing on eating out and with other people, self esteem issues and reducing anxiety around food in general - basically all of the things that don't just miraculously fix themselves when you've regained weight.
So by living again, that means enjoying Christmas properly. For me, that means not eating breakfast but 20 bars of chocolate on Christmas day. It means having Christmas pudding AND mince pies for dessert. It means having Baileys in coffee instead of milk - you know, all of those little Christmas traditions? I know that it is normal to indulge at Christmas time and that it's more than acceptable to gain a few pounds over the festive season, but then it is also considered normal to then lose those few pounds come January.
Here's my current dilemma
  1. I don't want to gain any weight. I am stubborn and at the moment, I'm not ready for it. However, that most definitely means that all of those traditions that I've just mentioned can't really happen. It will mean that I just survive Christmas rather than enjoying it properly.
  2. I don't want to just survive either. Ultimately, this means I have to decide which one of these two issues is going to happen. 
  3. If I enjoy Christmas like I really want to, does it then mean that I'm allowed to diet? Because in reality, there is no way I can actively lose weight. That doesn't even need explaining really.
This is an extremely different post for me but it is most definitely the real battle that is continually causing anxiety. My aim is to take each day is it comes and maybe I can just let go. I need to stop fearing the unknown and turn that fear into curiosity.
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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Fear of Failure

Yesterday, I received an assignment grade back that definitely was not my best. In fact, it was FAR from it and a lot lower than I'd have expected, liked or wanted! It's only one grade and I know that if I achieve better than this in future, then it won't have any major impact on my overall degree but I cannot stop thinking about it. I clearly cannot deal with failing.
Not only do I feel like I've let myself down, but I also feel like I'm letting my family down and my friends, who believe I can do so well, down. I am disappointed with myself and embarrassed that I did not do well. I also feel like everyone else is disappointed with me, as I am usually the one who they are always proud of for doing well, and this time I have not. 
I have though, realised how much pressure I put on myself and how much pressure other people have put on me to succeed. This pressure is not something that I should perhaps be carrying around with me, all day everyday. I did my best on that assignment, and that's all that should matter really? However, because I've not achieved what everyone expects of me, my best seems to be not good enough any more. 
Also, it's time like this when I realise how big the link between Anorexia and fear of failing really is. It's ONE mark, yet I feel as though my whole world has come crashing down. Like I am no longer good enough for anyone any more. That if I am not perfect, then what is the point? But that's the thing, perfection does not exist and me wanting to constantly chase it, is unhealthy and detrimental in itself. As soon as I saw the mark, I could feel myself wanting to resort back to old behaviours because they are my way of coping. My way of feeling numb. I guess they are my way of becoming invisible so that I don't disappoint anyone.
I think that fact that I'm acknowledging this though, is a huge step forward. Even though my thinking is clearly still disordered, I am no longer willing to act on them. I can only do my best and that will have to do! 
And in light of this, I am going to demolish a quality street chocolate bar to cheer me up. It's Christmas after all.




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Monday, 2 December 2013

How many Christmas' will you sacrifice?

So, December has appeared from what seems like no where, and this can only mean it's officially acceptable to now be festive by wearing Christmas jumpers and listening to cheesy Christmas songs, yes?
I have gone through many years of completely despising this time of year. Before becoming ill, I have disliked Christmas as it holds bad memories and therefore I would only allow myself to think of those things. And secondly, as you can imagine, that when you have an eating disorder, Christmas is a difficult time as one of the main elements is food. Of course, it's more about being with loved ones, celebrating with family and friends and yes, this is what I love most! But there is no denying that usually people look forward to the big tins of chocolates, mince pies and Christmas pudding, Christmas dinner.. I mean, I definitely love it all!
This year I don't want to miss out. I want to be able to say yes when offered the tin of chocolates, yes to the festive glass of mulled wine and yes to a huge roast dinner. 
I am extremely busy at the moment. Good busy though - winter assignment deadlines are looming, my part time work is busy with it being Christmas and I'm travelling around with my volunteering work. Add in house issues, a social life and functioning as a human being, and you don't have much time left. I know myself well enough to know that I can use this extremely busy schedule as a way of avoiding certain social situations with food challenges. However, I believe acknowledging this is a good thing and it means I can actively choose not to make excuses.
Like I previously said, I can choose what I allow myself to think. Last year I managed to turn Christmas around and allow it to become one of my favourite times of year. I believe that if we want something to happen, then we can most certainly make it happen. If I want to do something badly enough, then I know I can and will. After all, Christmas only comes once a year, so really we don't have time to let it pass us by.
I came across an intriguing question this week - How many Christmas' will you sacrifice for Anorexia? Well, I hope I already know the answer to this and I don't add another one to that number.
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