Tag Archives: Depression

Challenging my rules

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I’ve been working through Intuitive Eating for the last 6 months or so and it is making a huge difference in how I think about myself and food. Therapy is also helping a great deal as I am actually talking about what I really think and not being distracted by other people’s opinions. I am finding I am beginning to listen to myself first. I am starting to ignore the media and supposedly well-intentioned people who just want to help. I am doing the research and listening to what my gut, heart and head are telling me. It’s hard work, but I feel so much freedom at the same time.

I have been working hard on noticing and trying to ditch the diet mentality. It still rears it’s ugly head with automatic thoughts, but I don’t let it control me. I’ve also been working on honouring my hunger, which again is a work in progress as I have used food as a coping mechanism for so long that it won’t change overnight, so each step is important. The next two principles about Making peace with Food and Challenging the Food Police is where I have been concentrating lately.

Through therapy I have begun to notice, understand and challenge the rules I live by that are not my own. They have been embedded within in throughout my life and no longer serve a purpose and actually cause me more harm then good. Many of my rules are from my parents and this isn’t about blaming them, it is about understanding that those were their rules, but they do not have to be mine. They grew up in a different time and are not going to change, but I don’t have to live by them anymore, I can find my own or throw them all out the window.

In my work I have found a couple of things that have really had an impact on my binge eating behaviour and my lack of trust in myself around food – the idea of waste and the rule of not having it in the house. Both of these enable binge eating behaviour and eat into my self-esteem by encouraging negative thinking about food and myself, both diet and behaviours. I have completely lost the ability to trust myself around food as I have lived by rules that have reinforced that I cannot be trusted around food. At the same time I have been living by rules that mean I cannot waste food and so I have been eating it all in order not to waste it or have it in the house. So confusing!

 

So I have been challenging these rules, but buying things in large amount and keeping them in the house. This has been my list so far:

  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream
  • Fresh bread
  • Full fat yogurt and milk
  • Biscuits
  • Alcohol

I have binged, but the majority of time I forget they are there until I fancy something. I have given myself permission to break those rules and prove to myself I can trust myself. I taken them off the banned list and therefore reduced their appeal. It’s been liberating!

Ignoring people is the harder part for me and in the past comments about food or weight have knocked my self-esteem out the park. But now I am trying to give less of shit about other people. I listen to myself and make my own choices, then bat other people’s opinions away. I’m keeping it simple and having a few prepared lines to respond to people with such as ‘and I’m really looking forward to eating it’ in a sweetly innocent tone or being a bit stronger and challenging them by asking ‘why does it matter to you what I eat?’. It’s an interesting process at the moment and does depend on how I feel about myself at the time. Sometimes though I am just choosing not to acknowledge the matter at all – such as my rant on twitter about the random old man in the supermarket who tried to encourage me to ignore the chocolate aisle – and for me that is re-enforcing within myself that I do not have to conform or agree with societal standard or stereotypes, and instead I can say fuck off!

It’s a long journey, but I feel in a really good place with it all. It will take time and I am so glad I have taken the focus off weight loss and just focusing on being the best me I can be and loving myself exactly as I am so much so that I threw the scales out! I’ve also been buying clothes that fit and throwing out the ones that don’t. I want to feel good and that is what I am going to do and anyone who doesn’t want me to feel good can go on their way and stay out of my life. Simple.

Learning to love my body

 

  • Skincare – check
  • Make up – check
  • Therapy – check
  • Giving less of a shit – in progress
  • Hair – in progress
  • Clothes – up next
  • Body – up next

Have you ever realised it’s not your voice in your head telling you how you should feel about yourself?

That is exactly what I’ve been working through in therapy and it is truly enlightening.  Especially around the thoughts I have about my body. I find it quite sad I’ve let other people and social pressure dictate how I feel about myself and my body and I’m only just realising I don’t need to care what others think.  I’ve been working on creating identities for the voices in my head, specifically the negative ones, as this is helping me realise they are not my thoughts, but external influences being voiced.

I have a women as the thin, always made up to perfection, weight watchers leader character who provides the fake sincerity and makes everything about diet and appearance. This is the voice we think is helping us and being kind, but is really Professor Umbridge in disguise!

I also have a general type character; a uniformed shouty man who is all about the rules. Nothing is ever good enough for The General and no matter how hard you try you will never be what he wants you to be. It’s also the voice that sends you on the overeating followed by over-exercising cycle. It’s never ending. It’s all criticism and all about power and control. It makes you feel weak and useless.

Both of these voices are not mine. They are the things I’ve heard and learnt from others and think I believe, but really they are at odds with what I really value. Putting names to them allows me to see they are not internal and that I can choose not to listen to them. I’m slowly building another voice that is really from the inside, but I’m yet to fully see that voice as it’s still in the shadows and shyly taking steps out as my confidence grows.

All this history has really taken a toll on how I feel and see my body. I’m so detached from it that I probably wouldn’t recognise it if I saw it in a line up! How crazy is that?

However I’ve been working on this without really realising that is what I was doing. I was thinking about it as positive self-care. But really this goes deeper below my skin and into my being and impacts on how I really feel about myself. I’ve been concentrating on my skincare and make up in recent months to learn what my skin needs and what makes me feel good. I’ve even committed to bulk buying a few products to keep up my new run of consistency in these areas.

Skincare – Balance Me – I love this range as it’s mostly natural and leaves my skin feeling hydrated. I’ve moved away from fearing oils and although I’m not yet spot free yet, I am having fewer breakouts. I think the rest is to do with what foods I’m eating and being active.

Makeup – Hydrating primer and foundation – As I’m not yet clear of acne I’m still using foundation and concealer to cover up blemishes, but I’ve swapped to more hydrating products. Old favourites have had to go as I realised they were drying out my skin and making everything worst. So I’m now a fan of Smashbox Hydrating Primer (although I would like to find a cheaper version) and Kiko Hydrating Foundation.


Make up – Beauty Blender – I am a convert! I love these sponges for applying all forms of makeup. So much so I’ve bought the standard one, the mini ones, the pure one, and the blush one – I know, I know, I’ve bought into the brand! Honestly though the sponges are applying the makeup so well that I am using less product and getting the finish I think is natural and provides coverage. I also bought the cleaner and find that is working well and takes the product off after each use. The only thing I haven’t figured out is how to travel with them as I leave them out to dry, I’m sure I’ll figure it out though!

Therapy – This has been key for me this year to really get under the skin of my disordered eating and relationship with food and people. The only limiting factor for me is the finances and is something I need to consider going forward.

Hair – I’ve finally booked in for a haircut and colour at an actual salon! I’ve neglected my hair for the last 5 years. I’ve just let it grow, then had it cut, then let it grow, and then had it cut again, irregularly I might add. So I finally took the plunge and asked my friends who they see and booked in on their recommendation. I’ve been for a consultation and colour test and have an appointment next month!

Giving less of a shit – This is one that I’ve begun to notice I’m doing without focusing on it. As I’ve been doing my therapy and taking the time and putting the effort into looking after me this feels more and more natural. I feel like I can voice my opinions and not care if someone doesn’t agree or worry that I’ll cave in. I have the right to take up space in this world and is some doesn’t like it, they can fuck off!


There are two areas I would like to work in order to really truly love my body and those are the areas of clothes and actually seeing my body – also crazy right, but not really at the same time. These areas are the two I find the hardest. I haven’t really ever enjoyed clothes shopping as it made me face my discomfort around my body. But I am starting to find this goes hand in hand with giving less of a shit about what others think and my desire to quieten the voices who aren’t really mine. I want to go shopping for clothes that fit and look fantastic on my body exactly as it is. I want to then continue to do that as my body changes with age, whether that is gets smaller or bigger as it doesn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be healthy and will continue to monitor that with my doctor, but if the only problem I have is that I weigh too much and that isn’t impacting on anything else, you know what, I’m going to focus on what makes me content and I hope that will then mean I find equilibrium within my body naturally.

Acknowledging my emotions

Emotions:
a strong feeling deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others
instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge
I’ve always struggled to articulate my emotions and I’ve been working in therapy to address this and put words to all the emotions I feel. My therapist has encouraged me to say what I feel however I need to and often I find I use hand movements or metaphors or even sounds, rather than words. So this last week I’ve been referring to the emotions wheel below and putting words to the emotions I feel.
_ Emotions Wheel-page-001
The focus for me has been about changing my relationship with food and understanding the emotions I am feeling is a big part of this. Being able to put words to feelings is helping me make them less scary. I have found I have developed rules around what emotions I let be visible and when I feel something that breaks the rule I usually use food to distract from it. This is really unhealthy and I don’t want to behave like that any more. However it is not an overnight change and I have to give myself time to change my rules.
I am finding it hard, but worthwhile. I’ve started to sit with my emotions and listen to my thoughts, but rather than act I am watching as an observer. I have to focus as it goes against all my ingrained habit to do something to avoid feeling the emotion. I am also giving myself permission to not blame myself for things I feel, no matter the trigger. My therapist points out to me all the time I usually take a very balanced view of things, even if they make me angry or upset. So I am trying to free write at times of anger or sadness to get out what I feel. I find this hard as I live by the rule ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all’. I’ve been giving myself permission to write what I think about people or experiences without guilt or shame. It is only about acknowledging how I feel and helping ride the emotion wave until it subsides.
It’s an interesting time in my life. I am feeling excited and optimistic about lots of things and working through the things that are causing me pain. It’s weird, but I finally feel like I am being the real me most of the time (I still need to work on the rest of it) and it’s feels great!

Hitting diet bottom

I hit diet rock bottom a while ago. It came on gradually. Each new attempt to diet started with one last supper, which got bigger each time. The cycle of diet and binge escalated to a point I was not happy with at all. I found myself slipping into a new depressive low and hated every minute of it. I found  excuse after excuse – busy at work, not feeling well, not training for anything – basically anything where I could blame my own willpower.

However I have since realised it was not my willpower that wasn’t working, but rather the diets themselves. Each diet was harming my body, biology and self-worth. So I needed to find something different and though a number of blogs found Intuitive Eating.

This book has been an eye opener so far and I’m not all the way through. I have found something that resonates with me on a deep level. Everything the diet industry is telling us is designed to impact our self-worth and self-esteem. We keep being told that failing a diet is our fault, not the diets. Even my doctor has told me this. I no longer believe it. I believe that the diets I have tried have all been about deprivation and that does not suit me. Now I am not suggesting I am going about to eat everything and gain as much weight as possible, but rather I need a lifestyle diet where my relationship with food is not based on what is considered good or bad. I don’t want this any more and I refuse to adhere to the societal norm that is:

“Good behaviour, in our society, means starting a new diet, or having good intentions to diet”

This has led to a no-win situation in my life where I no longer feel in control or trust myself around food and this is no way to live:

“Every diet violation, every eating situation that feels out of control lays the foundation for the diet mentality”

So I am breaking up with diets…

I am going on a journey with this book and I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s bloody hard to change from an ingrained sense of self and rules that come from family and society. But I am going to keep working on this. I am taking the shift off losing weight and focusing on how my body and mind connect. Already I feel less stressed about food and am becoming more self-aware that I ever thought would be possible.

First up I’ve been Ditching the Diet Mentality“dieting has been a way to cope with life” – I’ve been doing this through widening my reading to be aware of the damage diets cause to the body and mind. This has been fascinating and scary, but worthwhile. I’ve also been starting the journey of self-awareness by tuning into my thinking habits and behaviours traits that support the diet mentality. This has been interesting to observe, but not easy to change as these have been ingrained into my way of life over years they have become automatic. I’ve also gotten rid of all the diet tools in my home. I’ve cleared out my twitter, instagram and blog feeds of weight loss inspiration and instead focused on positive people who share things that really matter or that are fun and inspire me to enjoy life.

Secondly I’ve been trying to Honour My Hunger. This has simply been about listening to my body, thoughts and feelings when I’m around food. I’ve been trying to eat when I feel hungry, rather than give into the to the rules I’ve made around timing of meals or snacks. I am asking myself two simple questions – “am I hungry? and what do I fancy to eat?” – these have been easy (ish) to implement and are really about checking in myself and noticing the times when I want to eat when I am not hungry, but I am still working on why that is. One step at a time.

The third aspect I’ve been introducing is all about Making Peace with Food “the forbidden object is elevated to an overvalued level of specialness” – This is an area that is very important for me as I have so many rules around specific food and so much guilt and shame associated with meals and people who make food very negative. The main aspect of this is to give yourself permission to eat and that is exactly what I am trying to do. I’ve bought chocolate and snacks that I used to think of as bad and keep as much as possible in the fridge so that I do not run out. I’ve challenged food I think of as bad and added them into my meals to see if I really like them. I’ve found I don’t need as much of things as I know I can have more of them if I want. This is something that I never thought would happen. I still over eat on chocolate, but it’s definitely emotional eating.

“When you know the food will be there and allowed, day after day, it doesn’t become so important to have. Food loses its power.”

“This is not about knowledge of food, but rather rebuilding experiences with eating”

I feel these three principles are really important building blocks to create the relationship with food that I want. It takes time and I am going to allow myself all the time I need to work through these aspects of the book. Building trust takes times and care. I am not only rebuilding my relationship with food but also my relationship with myself.

I’ve just moving onto the fourth area which is all about Challenging the Food Police. This is all about continuing to build self-awareness. It suggest an intuitive eating journal. I struggle with this concept as it feels too close to tracking that diets ask for. However this is very similar to what I am trying to do with therapy so I am going to focus on emotions and noticing them and combine this with my therapy work using an emotion wheel and emotion wave that I plan to use to help understand and articulate what I feel.

Taking the pressure off needing to lose weight has been hard, but pivotal to this approach. So ingrained are these habits that I always automatically jump to needing to lose weight so go on a diet every day for some random reason – clothes, food, fitness, chairs, lifts, – pretty much anything can make me jump to this. However I am stopped reacting and just begun noticing. I haven’t quite gotten to the no judgement part, but I am working on it. This feels the right approach for me and combined with therapy it is the journey I need to go on. There are still a few more principles in the book I need to work through and I will keep re-reading the ones I am working on above as I need them to become normal for me in my new world.

It feels good right now!

Taking a look back to move forward

It’s been an interesting few months in my world. I’ve got back on the blogging train and have been posting consistently for the last couple of months, which has felt great. Although I don’t think I’ve been blogging about my journey and adventures in life really. I’ve been showing the happy, fun-filled side, but not the harder, darker side that is there behind the scenes. Dark is probably the wrong word, but that is often how depression is described. Maybe grey would be better, as then can turn to silver (a favourite of mine) and so also shows that you can come out the other side. But as with grey clouds you can slip behind them every so often. That is nothing to be ashamed of I’ve come to learn. We all have off days, but the key for anyone with depression is to not let them become a low period. I’m happy with how I’ve been doing mentally these last few months as I could have let myself slip a long way into the grey, but I didn’t. However I have gone back to some habits and coping mechanisms that are not beneficial to me. It’s because they are easy and known that bring comfort at those lower periods. I want to work on this and so I’m heading back to therapy.

I need some help and this feels the right time to focus on myself. Later this year I have a trip of a lifetime and several friends are getting married and I want to celebrate with them to the full. So I am dipping into my savings to treat to myself well. This blog is one of my outlets and I will continue to share my experiences through this time in my life as I have through the past 5 years with my journey through depression. It’s one part of my life and impacts on other aspects so I am not going to ignore it or shy away from the subject. If I can help in any way to combat the stigma about mental health illnesses and show that it’s important to get the help you need without guilt or shame I will be happy.

My focus this time is around my weight and behaviours when it comes to food. I want to work with my new therapist to discover what caused this and work to find other coping mechanisms that will be much more helpful. It is not focused on losing weight, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am hoping it’s a side effect of working through the issues. My weight is a symptom of the issues, so I need to treat the real cause as I’ve done the symptom approach before and pretty much gained all the weight back as of last week. So it’s time to take a different approach.

I’m also doing my own work at looking at body image and body posivitity and am currently listening to a range of new podcasts that I’ll share another time. I have also extended my reading list to include a vast amount of books by women I admire and have shared their stories. I’ll be working my way through using audiobooks and reading. I feel hopeful right now. I think this is about my approach and my way of thinking and relieved about moving away from dieting and focusing on my own wellness and what really makes me feel good. It’s a journey and learning curve and I won’t get it ‘right’ straight away, but I’m going to find what works for me and part of that will be being able to adapt to life’s changes as they come along. That feels exciting!

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