Last days

It’s been a weird few weeks for me. Struggling with ridiculous upper respiratory problems. My throat is itching, I have sore sinuses which I’m sure is now sinusitis, I have an itching throat and now my ears, deep, down are itchy and painful. I’m sure it’s hay fever but none the less, I feel below par and it’s a catalyst for me to feel out of tune with a world I barely feel I have the instruments for. It’s time to be watchful, it’s time to be honest about any behaviours so that I don’t suddenly find myself in a predicament I cannot manage without causing a whole heap of damage.

I have withdrawn from cover work because I just feel exhausted and additional exercise has left me really fatigued on my days off. It’s been annoying.

But it’s how this affects my mood which is worrying. There is a distinct connection with illness, fatigue and mental health and I’m feeling fairly blue if I’m honest. I have zero patience, irritability, no motivation and a need to be out of the company of others more so than usual (which must be bad considering how much I really don’t like socialising).

It’s a funny life. I sit and moan about this and really I feel very ungrateful because a family relative is consumed with cancer at the minute and in his last weeks, maybe days on this earth. It puts things into perspective somewhat but I know this is also pulling at my heart strings. It’s that knowing that we all die and the empathy I feel for his plight and what he must be thinking facing his own end of this life that’s really sad. He says he is frightened and that’s the ultimate fear we have as humans. Just like birth, this is something we can only do alone. It’s so big my heart and mind can’t handle it and it seems such a terrible waste and such an impending loss to everyone who loves him. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is so much sadness in all things living because of this deep rooted knowing that everything must die. It’s never lost on me and sometimes I often wonder if that’s the true crux of why I have felt pain all of my life. I was conscious of this from such an early age, way before death was ever explained to me, I just ‘knew.’

This is an experience that we all have to go through, loss. It’s not exclusive, it’s ubiquitous. In watching someone else endure illness we cannot but turn the attention to our own lives. What have we accomplished? What do we regrets if anything? What have we still not done? Are we trapped in our jobs, relationships, locations, material possessions that we cannot let go, cut loose and fulfill those dreams? It’s massive.

We spend so much time acquiring things that we get stuck. Because material possessions and maintaining this kind of Western lifestyle which has become so opulent often means working ridiculous hours day in day out with no time to really see the world. There is no time for adventure bar the 4 weeks holiday most have per 365 days. We’ve eradicated our ability to experience by choosing possessions over creating memories of experiences had. So many of us get stuck in a rut and just settle but have this terrible feeling of ‘missing’ or ‘lack.’ And it’s only when we hear of someone’s passing do we vow that life is for living, we only live once. In those moments we are so steadfast in our convictions to fulfil our dreams. And then the months pass, the conviction fades and we go back to the rut, ruminating on how we can change our lives and liberate our souls from the endless, relentless, daily grind of the same shit, different day.

What is it you want to do with your life? Me? I just want to get off and get travelling. I also desperately want to live in London. Just like with the snot and sneezing suffocating my respiratory system, through writing this post and thrashing it out, I realise my soul is suffocating too. And that’s an overwhelming feeling indeed.

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Recovery Update

The facts are:-

I don’t ever weigh myself.

I’m more accepting of my shape and the body dysmorphia has been quiet of late (sometimes it rears its ugly head but it’s not like it was before Christmas which sent me into a spin and one I nearly didn’t come out of).

I am eating breakfast, lunch, sometimes tea or it ends up being the same calories but in snacks as evening nourishment.

No longer do I measure myself, try on my wardrobe for hours on end, take selfies to check my body in another way.

I do not restrict my liquids and drink copious amounts of fluid throughout the day.

I don’t drink alcohol.

I don’t purge anymore.

I don’t take laxatives anymore.

I don’t misuse diuretics anymore.

I don’t sit in the sauna for 2 hours a day anymore.

I don’t use alli or fat-blockers anymore.

I don’t read endless magazines about celebrities who are skinny.

This is progress. It’s not perfection. And obviously there is no such thing. However, there are definitely things I need to work on.

I have been watching a lot of stuff and reading literature on quasi-recovery and orthorexia. I would definitely say I am a recovering orthorexic. My eating disorder morphed over the years from anorexia, bulimia, remission, anorexia purging-type, to orthorexic. I would never eat anything with over 1g of sat fat per 100g, I lived on this list below for nearly 7 years:

Breakfast: a piece of fruit

Lunch: 150g salad and lean protein

Dinner: a bag of low fat popcorn or rice cakes

At least 1/2 bottle of wine most nights

Binge/purge twice per week.

I now eat things with higher fat and greater amounts. I do eat bread but I also know I have a lot to work on as my fear foods are still abundant and I still feel disgustingly full of guilt if I eat certain things, although there is no compensatory behaviour that goes to help ease this panic such as purging or restriction.

I still probably have what I would consider a warped take on exercise. It’s hard to know what’s my job and what’s my illness talking. I realise that maybe there is some exercise addicted behaviour occurring due to my trip to London (where I am right now) because I’ve been checking my phone pedometer every 10 minutes and getting a rush from the ever increasing number of steps throughout the day. London makes you walk that’s for sure. But it’s okay. I’m getting there.

This illness has been my right-hand man for 27 years. An abusive, destructive, right-hand man I know. So every day I make changes, everyday I am moving away from this abuser’s control over my life. It’s been fairly liberating. I wouldn’t have the energy to go back now to the really awful days of 2012-2016 if I wanted to. And I guess that’s the real mark of my recovery.

I feel I need to work on fear foods. These are the ones that really upset me:-

Pizza (last eaten probably in 2007)

Cheese

Potatoes

Pasta

Dairy (although I am now eating yoghurt and a few other items in a limited fashion)

Rice

Crisps

Avocado

Fried food

Any single item that’s above 150 calories

Hot chocolate (have had a couple but again, this little pleasure was kicked into touch in 2010).

Bread (although can eat it as toast for breakfast) I just haven’t eaten a proper sandwich in a long long time.

Sandwiches, wraps, pittas etc

Noodles.

So over the next few weeks, I am going to make a point of eating this stuff. Feel the fear and do it anyway. That’s the point, demystify the bullshit and get on with it.

Intuitive Eating

One of the hardest areas in eating disorder recovery is being able to recognise and respond to real signals of hunger and satiety. It takes quite a while to sync brain with hunger cues and fullness-feedback. The eating disorder will have had us overriding these cues with either ignoring genuine hunger and restricting, or smashing through any signals instructing us of fullness. The requirement to eat being instigated by emotional rather than physical need.

I realise these days, I’m neither emotionally over eating or restricting, as with my recovery my eating possesses integrity. I am eating intuitively now in response to my body’s needs and requirements. This is very liberating.

I listen to physical cues and it’s a place of relative ease because I am trusting my body to tell me what it needs and then I meet that need. I also realise that when my body is devoid in some kind of macronutrient or even vitamins, I often get the craving for what I’m lacking, like today I just needed citrus after lunch, so ate a delicious orange.

I also know that my body responds better with certain foods. So instead of adopting eating habits through a compulsive need to restrict certain foods from my diet, now I choose what works for my energy needs, my digestion, hormone profile and mental peace. I choose to eat mostly a plant based diet with eggs and milk. It works for me, reduces symptoms associated with sluggish metabolism and I really do feel energised by eating nutrient and vitamin-dense food.

I am also able to eat the things that used to cause me issues and trigger a binge/purge. I have let go of the ‘bad’ food idea and in that have taken the power back from thinking in black and white terms. So I can happily eat one biscuit without being triggered to finish the packet. And that’s been a real journey of surprise as I never thought I would be able to establish balance around such food. But I do. Granted, I only eat these types of foods as my last snack of the day should I feel like it just because it’s important to give my body the vitamins and minerals it needs consistently throughout the day rather than eating confectionary and nutrient-devoid food all the time. It works for me. And more importantly, I am at ease with food, it no longer presents anxiety or stress.

I am even making friends with my body and thanking it daily for the amazing abilities it has. Love thy self. If God placed divinity in me then who am I to hate myself? I should love myself as He loves me. I am after-all His child.

Drama

Don’t want it, don’t need it. If I sense some kind of situation brewing and I feel the parties involved are starting to gossip, have too much negative enthusiasm, want to make a small situation turn into Armageddon, you can guarantee I will be taking a swift exit stage left. Not interested. But lots of folk seek it. They want to amplify the very innocuous so that it becomes this great big situation which inflames people’s feelings of anger and hurt. Next thing that happens is some great big confrontation or rumour that circulates with zero truth about something that should never have been given the time of day in the first place.

I used to be part of the mx in my youth. Always in the centre of the drama. Like I needed it to enhance my life with some kind of misguided notion of excitement. I know it was born out of unhappiness and a desperate dissatisfaction around the mundane daily living I found myself enduring.

It always backfired, it always ended in tears, tantrums, relationships being broken and at worst irreparable. It was also part and parcel of my addict. It’s only the last decade in and out of recovery for various addictions did I see where this came from and how it served me, the needs that were not being met and the unsettled sense of self and where I actually fitted into a world which I found bleak, dull, monotonous and full of chore.

Most of my time these days, I am off radar, away from prying eyes, side-lined when it comes to participating in mischief and definitely well removed from any drama. It’s toxic. I just seek a quiet life full of simplicity, full of peace and quiet.

I also have a good nose for when others are trying to heighten situations from a spark to igniting a vast fireworks display without any safety precautions.

I’ve been witnessing 2 situations smouldering the last month. And even though I’m keeping my side of the street clean, I can see how there is some manipulative process in place to try and drag me into it. Not playing. And I’ve said as much. However, I also know how fabrication can lead to lies about the part that others play. So I have a decision to make. Do I cut my losses and just move on or do I quietly stand my ground and continue to watch on with worried anticipation on the outcomes of others’ actions?

I think about how people continue to meddle in other people’s lives and for what, to be right? To get their own way? It’s damaging and people’s lives get wrecked in the fallout.

Smelling Chaos

I’ve shared time with a lot of interesting people, particularly the last few years. Many recovering addicts with all different primaries; some food, drug addicts, alcoholics, spenders, gamblers, love and sex addiction, codependents to name a few. All of these people radically brilliant, high achievers with deep souls and masses of intellect; far from the stereotypes often conjured up thanks to the media and other sources of misrepresentation. I am an addict, my primary is food.

Recovery from any addiction is a long, hard and daily graft. To be ‘well’ is a discipline in adhering to a path that puts recovery in top position and it’s a journey of growth, vigilance and abstinence. Also, us folk who are lucky enough to be with recovery at this time have a responsibility to spread the message to other addicts that a life away from active using is possible and it is also full of good things. Life can be way beyond our wildest dreams if we are absolutely willing to do anything in order to get abstinent/clean/sober …..

Today, I went to the Post Office with a parcel to send. In the queue and behind me, I could smell that old, stale, beer odour, that had been weaved into someone’s DNA from persistent drinking. It’s a smell like no other. It’s only folk who drink alcoholically who put beer above anything else (including friends, family, love interests, washing regularly), who smell like this. It’s a stench of misery. It’s a stench that instructs of internal pain, isolation, a mental prison, being shackled to absolute chaos. It’s a smell that makes me shudder because it really tells a small part of their story but I know that part is littered with destruction. No cologne will mask it, no mints will remove the alcohol from the breath, no person on this earth smells quite so ill as an active alcoholic. It’s like their soul is rotting from the inside due to the top up of poison going in drip by drip or gulp by gulp.

The man who owned this odour was probably late 30s, was dressed in jeans and a jacket, good shoes, was delightfully polite and articulate…. if I had seen him from across the street, I’d never have smelt the chaos. But I did because he was stood right next to me.

It just brings back memories. Memories of being in the mix with my own chaos; my own demons playing with my head and my own oblivion. I guess I felt fear. I never want to go back and I want to stay in recovery. But I also don’t want others suffering in this way.

Every day I am grateful for the reprieve, every day I have to remember the chaos and not gloss over it.

Eating disorders destroy lives, kill relationships and ultimately, if left untreated, will kill the person with the eating disorder.

I think back on the worst time, frail, weighing myself 30-40 times per day, the anger and misery at constantly not being good enough. I remember the times where I purged until my face swelled up so much I had burst blood vessels and lost my voice. And these incidents were not in isolation, it happened daily. I remember teaching with my heart beating in my chest in weird rhythms and honestly wondering whether I was going to have a heart attack. I remember the scabs on my knuckles that never healed and people always commented. I remember all those hour exercising to rid those calories I saw as excess. I remember the dizziness, lack of food, bloating, panic and I also remember the denial, lies, and suffocation I felt every day. I also remember the faces of the people who came and went because they couldn’t deal with seeing someone wilfully dying a slow and painful death in front of them. My life littered with relationship casualties because I chose thin over my own family, friends and in the end, even over my own marriage.

I made people enable me, I made other people’s lives hell and that comes with a price, it also comes with the selfishness that becomes entrenched in any addict whilst they are actively in the addiction.

For all those who I hurt along the way, I am making amends. Step by step I am getting closer to the apology that counts. Not the apology of ‘I’ll never do it again, I promise.’ And then immediately turning towards the chaos. But the apology of someone in recovery who is looking at themselves and what this evil disease has made them succumb to. I am accountable, and I will steadily regain trust with every day I am away from the destruction.

I never knew what true freedom was; I never believed it possible and I also have too many people to thank. Because without their faith and belief, I would never have found my own. How do you say thank you to people who helped save your life? They know who they are. They believed, they gave me space to grow and find my feet again.

I am humbled.

In the meanwhile, I give prayer to God and the Angels, for all those suffering today and may they find comfort under the wings of the Divine. May their pain be relieved.

Enduring Simplicity

So much has changed. It’s like a lifetime of hurt has healed so radically in 3 months. I could say I have no idea why but I would be lying. It’s been a definitive method of acceptance, simplification, structure, self-care and eradication.

The last word in the sentence above is hard, harsh, crushing and seemingly unfeeling. I think unflinching and decisive is the truth behind it. I am without any hesitation when it comes to removing things from my life these days that cause me grief if there is a more self-preserving option that comes with peace attached to it. And there is no exception, nothing, and no-one is exempt.

If you are not with me, then you are against me and I’m just not able to allow toxicity into my life in any shape or form. It means that people who have become toxic also get a wide berth or cut out of my life completely. There is no margin for error or clemency as it’s this kind of wish-washy movement in my life that my addictions feed upon; it’s this kind people-pleasing that has hindered my own right to peace and serenity, often leaving me as the casualty at the hands of others ….. And it’s as simple as this – life and death.  I choose life.

The thing about human beings is there will always be an MO.  Everyone has a position, everyone has a motive.  And most people are trying to survive in any way they can.  We are also a species of animal and there is also a food chain.  And within the hierarchy of human beings as a species, we default into wanting to be top of the food chain.

With any form of hierarchy, there is a pecking order and we cannot help ourselves but perform in competition casting aside people in our wake.  For me, I find this deplorable because my higher power tells me that we are all loved as God’s children and like any good parent, God does not have favourites; therefore we are equal.  But this is overridden time and time again by human beings indulging in the gift of freewill and deeming themsleves to be God in any situation.  We are all guilty, me more than most in previous active addiction.  I like to think I am giving it over these days with awareness and daily practice, and I am mindful constantly of my wish to control outcomes.

So in that, I cannot control people, places or things.  And the gift I have which I realize is my own MO to cultivate peace and serenity it to LET GO.  Whatever it is.  If it’s a person causing me pain, I let them go.  I simply do not seek to control their actions , that’s their freewill which was God given.  But I can also exercise MY right to live freely, so I let them go and I LET GOD.  It’s his child, he can sort them out, it’s certainly not for me, it’s way too big for me.  I let them go with good wishes for their lives but I walk away freely.

It’s been the hardest lesson and I think I have always tried to cling in the past believing I could change the person or get back to the old times when things were good.  But sometimes relationships fail and when there is a point of no return, it is essential to respect the good times and honour them too.  Sometimes that honour comes by removing ourselves from the lives of certain people and leaving those relationships committed the past.

I have no problem with this.  Not anymore.

Anonymity in an overpopulated world

Sometimes you have to go to a massive city like London to claim space. Seriously, I know how ridiculous that sounds; London being a ‘super-city’ containing millions of people. But it’s these millions milling about the street and at sites of interest that dilute the human experience because chances are, we won’t bump into anyone we know. I love that. I love being a face in a sea of faces and no one knows my name for a few hours or even days. It create space from my own life where often I feel I cannot get away from other’s demands and thinking without constant distraction. It’s peaceful and I do love my own company. And that has taken a long time in achieving.

I think there is a difference between isolation which breed loneliness over choosing to do things independently and being on one’s own. My own company these days is sparse so for me to be able to get some free time without intrusion is magic, plain and simple.