Health · mental health · Uncategorized

Being Fat and Having an Eating Disorder

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(If it’s not obvious, this post contains details of having an eating disorder. It includes mentions of vomit and poop. You’ve been warned.) It’s taken me a long time to write this post. I began it back in March. It’s not because I’ve been avoiding sharing my story. Those who follow me on twitter know I always share and will always try to help – it’s just this has been very difficult for me and sometimes, it’s hard to put feelings in to words.

 

Being fat with an Eating Disorder. You heard me. Yeah, that’s a thing. There seems to be a sort of perpetual notion that only skinny young girls can have eating disorders and that. Wrong. Anyone can have an eating disorder. Let’s talk about that.

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Like many people, I’ve been struggling with my weight for quite a long time. I hit a point once we moved in to the house I previously lived in, that my weight just kept climbing. I felt out of control. I found myself going to the shop to stock up on junk food. Sometimes I’d hide the rubbish from the food or hide food away because I was ashamed by how much crap I was eating. I knew it was messed up. I kept eating till I felt sick, then I would make myself sick – it wasn’t difficult, my body was already threatening to upchuck it. I didn’t care. I’d keep throwing up until it hurt and I was sure it was all gone. Over time, I learned various “tricks” that made the entire process easier which was a double edged sword because while it made the individual “session” less painful, it meant vomiting was easier and it only encouraged me to do it more. I wont share those “tricks” here for some obvious reasons… You get the idea. It was pretty grim.

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I knew I needed help. I realised I had a serious problem and if I didn’t do something, it would kill me in one way or another, be it from my rapid weight gain itself, choking on my own vomit, having a heart attack or organ failure. Something was going to go wrong. So, I decided to ask for help. I thought at this point it would get easier. I mean, I knew recovery would be hard work for sure, but I’d have medical professionals supporting me. Oh, my poor misguided soul.

I went and saw my GP and while I wasn’t 100% truthful as I was ashamed of my purging, she listened and then she did something I know realise is awful. She prescribed me diet pills. Those things that stop your body from absorbing fat and make you shit it out. Spoiler alert, they’re not as magic as they sound. They have you crapping out orange oil – if you’re lucky. If you’re not so lucky, they’ll have you leaking orange oil stuff out of your arse. I was not so lucky. As if I didn’t feel awkward enough in public at the time. Oh boy. And farting in the bath? Yeah. That happened. Exactly what you think. She said that it should persuade me to consume less fat. What it ACTUALLY did was have me crying and vomiting harder.

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I stopped taking those damn pills and was grateful for my arse no longer feeling like a slip and slide, but I still needed HELP. I was referred to a dietician and the lady was very nice and said that it wasn’t right for me right now and agreed I needed help beyond her scope of expertise. So, I looked up about eating disorder care in my area as my GP was adamant that there wasn’t any and it wasn’t suitable for me. I was determined to get the help I needed. I saw her, armed with the information I had at my disposal and finally got her to refer me after months of her basically insisting I was just being a normal greedy person. FINALLY! I would have a professional to help me take that first step towards recovery.

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Blue Morpho butterflies symbolise a change in fortune and the spirit seeking transformation in change. Very apt imagery, I thought.

So, after a little while, I got my first appointment through which was an assessment with a Nurse Therapist – I forget her exact title and a dietician at the local Mental Health hospital. I went in via the inpatient area without realising there was a different entrance. It was a pretty harrowing experience and confirmed my resolve, but added to my fear. I didn’t want to have to be there with them. I didn’t want to end up like that.

They were very kind to me, though the appointment was very tough. They actually had me come back a second time to finish it, which is apparently normal. They were appalled at the way my GP had handled my situation and were confident they could help me. On the second appointment, they told me my diagnosis (officially, an EDNOS/OSFED – Binge Eating Disorder with a bulimia sub-type) and the course of treatment. 20 sessions they said. I kind of snuffed at it. People don’t fit in to neat little boxes like that. I thought “there is no way I’ll be better after 20 sessions.” I had so little understanding back then. I was fairly sure they wouldn’t be able to help me but I hoped so much that they could.

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The world got a little brighter. It took 6 months before I had my actual first appointment to start therapy as part of my treatment. They had directed me to a book called Overcoming Binge Eating which turned out to be basically like the actual treatment program.. But by the time I had that first actual treatment appointment, I’d managed to basically stop purging. I’d still do it on an odd occasion but it was no longer ritualistic. It was significant. I thought maybe it meant I was basically better and no longer needed the therapy. I was wrong. So wrong. I learned so much during my treatment and just how messed up things were but with the understanding came the ability to make changes and get better.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy. It was tough. SO tough. I even gained more weight which really freaked me the hickedy heck out, but she explained that my body was levelling itself back out again after the abuse and sure enough, the weight I’d gained during that period dropped back off as I kept up my treatment and the things we had implemented. One thing was making me eat every 3-4 hours. I struggled so much with that. I also learned that binging means different things to different people. To some, two biscuits is a binge. It was wholly about my mental state, not what I was actually consuming. I learned to stop considering some things as acceptable and others as unacceptable. I stopped seeing my binges as binges and my entire mindset changed.

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I found peace and acceptance within myself. I finished my treatment – which in all honesty, was terrifying. I’d have only myself to hold me accountable. To point out when my thinking was going down the wrong path. I had a “check in” after completing treatment to see how I was getting on and if there was anything I needed to ask etc before they discharged me. That was a year and a half ago now. I’m in recovery. A place I wasn’t sure I’d ever make it to – but I did.

It’s still tough, sometimes it’s really damn hard and those invasive thoughts do pop up; but they’re just thoughts. It’s up to me what I do with them. My eating disorder gave me the illusion of control, when really, it controlled me. It dictated my actions. What I ate. When I starved myself. When I made myself vomit. What I did. Now, that little “voice” pipes up sometimes, but I choose what I do and how I react to it. Sometimes it makes really convincing arguments and on some rare days it even manages to convince me, but it’s no longer dictating my entire life. I remember what I learned and implement some of the things I’d done in therapy if need be.

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I’m in a far better place now. It’s a weight off my shoulders. It’s liberating. I didn’t magically lose weight. I also didn’t gain weight (beyond the aforementioned part of my treatment). I’m fat. I’m 280lbs. Give or take. Weight fluctuates based on hormones, water retention, whether you had a shit today or not. It’s important to remember that and not obsess over the scales like I used to. Weighing myself several times a day. I was 296lbs at my heaviest) Now I’m in a better mindset, weigh myself much less often – rarely, in fact, have better tools to deal with my thoughts, have a deeper understanding of myself and a more significant respect and feelings of love for my body. With that love and acceptance, more positive changes can be made. Am I still vulnerable? Yes. Am I going to fight it anyway? Hell yes. I’m Liz, I’m fat, and I’m in recovery from an eating disorder.

I debated whether or not to go in to more detail or not in this post, but it’s already 1,500 words long apparently, so I’ll leave it on that note; but know that you’re not alone and it’s okay to seek help. Even healthy weight people can struggle to get treatment for eating disorders as it’s something still so misunderstood – but know that you ARE worth it. If you are ready to heal, seek recovery. Keep pushing. I’m so glad I kept pushing and got help. It changed my life for the better.

Stay safe. All my love x

Health · Life · self-care · Uncategorized

6 tips for Self-Care

Self-care is SUCH an important thing, yet many of us fail to do it on a regular basis. Life is hectic and often, we are too busy trying to be kind and help other people that we forget to do it for ourselves. So, today, I thought I’d share some of my self-care tips/activities outside of basic human functioning (maybe I’ll do another post on that?)

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Read a book – Maybe even go and read outside if the weather is nice. Your body would benefit from the dose of vitamin D. Books allow us to escape in to an entirely different world and escape from our own heads for a little while. This is one of my favourite hobbies and it benefits my mental health greatly.

Spend 20 minutes outside – As I mentioned in my previous point, the body benefits greatly from Vitamin D. Living in England, it’s so easy to be deficient in vitamin D, so it’s good to take some time and sit outside, even if you just sit there texting, have your lunch, make a phone call or whatever. It’ll give you a nice little boost.

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Drink more water – An obvious one yet so many of us don’t do it. We can often be so busy that we forget to sip water here and there. You can add fruits or cucumber or mint leaves or whatever to have infused water for a refreshing twist. Our bodies have a high percentage of water and while you may not feel particularly thirsty, even slight dehydration can have a negative effect on the body. Keep your brain-sponge full of water and you will be more prepared for dealing with your day.

Use a facemask – It’s good to stop and have a little pamper. You don’t even have to stop now with a lot of facemasks. Throw one on while you’re in the bath, reading, playing games, cleaning the kitchen; or actually lie back and just take the time to rest. Your skin will be happy for the care and it’s good to look after yourself.

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Get off social media – We’re all guilty of being a little addicted to social media. Have you ever thought about how much time you waste passively using social media; such as just scrolling through facebook and not really doing anything? There have actually been studies that show this can have a negative impact on mental health. (Sorry, if you wanna see the studies, you’ll have to google them yourself! The youtuber Boyinaband summarised my point in his video about internet addiction really well though.)

Colour in a colouring book page – You’re a grown adult. So what? Nothing compares to going back to child-like roots where you colour in or scribble with reckless abandon. The image in a colouring book is already there so there is no pressure to get something drawn; you don’t have to really think about it. It’s a good escape and it makes your brain happy. If you’re like me and still feel a bit like you need to colour perfectly and use the right shades or whatever, there’s a book called Colour Quest which is basically like a colour by numbers but they’re all tessellating shapes – you won’t figure out the image until you’ve coloured a lot of it in!

That’s it for this post. I may do another one soon if people enjoyed this. I have quite a few more ideas! If you have any fun or unusual tips for self-care, I’d love to hear them.

Remember to be kind to yourself!

Health · Uncategorized

Cervical Comb-over

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So, I had my very first smear test, or cervical cancer screening test. Yeah, it was weird and I decided I wanted to share the experience with you, start to finish, because I know many young women are apprehensive about having the procedure.

So, first thing is first. Booking the test? Well, you get a letter in the post. I got mine earlier on in the year, even though I was still 24. I kept putting off booking my test because I needed to see a nurse for bloods and a pill check as well anyway. I decided I would do it when I got back from a trip away. I actually got a second letter, this one had a leaflet with more information about the procedure, what happens afterwards, and requirements prior. You start getting invited around the age of 25. It is worth noting that you do NOT have to have the test if you don’t want to. It’s ultimately your decision, but please don’t use embarrassment or anxiousness as a reason to avoid it.

To book the procedure, you just call up and book in with the nurse once you’ve had the invite – the letter does tell you all this, but I’ll tell my experience regardless so you know what you can expect. Now, when I booked in, the receptionist didn’t actually tell me about the things you need to do before-hand (or rather, the things you need to NOT do). They ask that you book the test for the middle of your cycle, basically, it’s better if you’re not on your period for the test as they can get a clearer reading. They also say to not have a bath the day before and to avoid sex the night before – specifically to not use spermicide, lube or a barrier method of contraception. It’s probably just better to avoid it all together to save having to maybe need the test re-doing. If the sample is inadequate, they will call you back in three months time to take another sample. The test itself? The only thing you need to do is undress your lower half. If you wear a lose skirt, you can keep that on. The test itself only takes a few minutes.

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The nurse will ask you to lay down on the bed – I was given some of that paper stuff to put over my lap. You go spread-eagle and she (or he! you can request that a female perform the test when booking if you’re concerned) will insert a lubed up, scary looking contraption in to your fanjo. It’s called a speculum and it’s not actually scary. This basically dilates your vagina, opening it up so the nurse can see the cervix. Then she uses a little brush like pictured above to swab some cells from the cervix. This is what is sent off for testing. For me, the opening of the speculum was uncomfortable, a little painful in fact. The tenser you are, the harder it is for them to get on up there but if you’re anxious, tell your nurse. If it hurts, tell your nurse. They’re happy to take their time or to stop if you need it. It only takes a moment to collect the cells. While the speculum itself was weird and uncomfortable for me, I honestly couldn’t feel the brush. I dunno if it was because I was focused on the fact there was this woman all up in my junk and the pressure kinda made me feel like I need the loo or if it’s something you genuinely can’t feel but that was it. Brushy brushy, then she gets on out of there and you can put your junk away.The nurse advises that I may experience some spotting later on and if it happens, to not be concerned. Personally, I didn’t get any, but my ladyparts did feel a little weird for a while.

A little embarrassing? Perhaps, but it’s worth it to monitor your cervical health and potentially reduce the risk of cervical cancer.

Once the sample is taken, you will get a letter back after about two weeks with the results. If the sample was adequate and completely clear, you’ll get called back again in three years. If the sample was not adequate, you will get recalled in a few months – there are loads of reasons the sample might not be adequate so don’t worry about it. Anything else? They’ll tell you in the letter what will happen. I’ve not had my results yet or anything so I cant really speak on that part.

If you want some more technical information, you can check out the NHS page on Cervical Screening. This post was a bit longer than intended but I hope it puts some of you at ease about the test.