Wednesday 30 April 2014

To mental health professionals- There's a BIG problem.

As I sat in the dark all alone, dark thoughts riddled my body. The thought of continuing to get up each day was unbearable and I knew that before soon, I would attempt to stop that process happening. 

I knew I needed to ask for help. But why was that so hard? Why was asking for people to save me so petrifying? I can see now exactly why. The fear of the unknown. The fear of rejection. The fear of being laughed at. The fear of being ignored...the list goes on. 

There is a BIG problem. 

Mental illness is not recognised in the severity it should be. People go unnoticed, they are seen as 'not ill enough yet" or there isn't enough money. People die because they are not taken seriously.

Vulnerable people shouldn't have to fight for treatment. Vulnerable being the key word!


If I was treated seriously, I may not have attempted suicide so many times. I may not have lay there critically on numerous occasions. When I young person comes in and says they are going to try and kill themselves THEY ARE SCREAMING FOR HELP! SO HELP THEM! 

But no, I was sent away with another appointment as usual. This put fuel on the fire. This was the rejection and the ignorance I was scared about in the first place. 

This is what angers me!

As a young girl I was put in dangerous situations too many times to count. I have made myself seriously ill through suicide attempts in psychiatric hospital. Through people not listening to my threats.  My threats were promises, yet I wasn't listened to. 

I am sick and tired of hearing the same stories from other people. 



Monday 14 April 2014

Overcoming thoughts of relapse

Recovery is a long process, it doesn't happen overnight, or even in a week. Recovery is learning self acceptance, it's getting rid of all those behaviours that hold a grasp on you. It is giving yourself a chance to experience life in a way that is free from the bullies in your mind and instead open to the endless possibilities the world has to offer. 

But because recovery is a process and doesn't happen with a click of your fingers, there is always a chance that someone could be coming close to the finishing line and fall at the last hurdle, slipping back into an old injured state. This makes the thought of beginning recovery scarier than can be put into words. Here's some thoughts that affected me personally: 

•"What if the end result isn't as good as I expect it to be?"
•"If I put in all this hard work and relapse, it will all be for nothing"
•"How am I supposed to recover when I can't tell myself apart from my illness?"

It felt like recovery was pointless, when there is a chance of getting my hopes up and then falling back down. 

But the truth is that there is a chance of falling in whatever you do. There is a chance of an emotional stumble at work, in a relationship, training for a sport...the list is endless. 

It is so important in recovery to realise what you are fighting for. You are fighting for freedom, for a peaceful mind, for control of your mind and body the right way, for a chance to be you- not an illness. When thoughts of giving in to the bully in your head arise, you muse fight them! If you give in once it's a slippery slope downhill. 

You have the power to overcome your thoughts. You have the power to overcome your feelings. YOU have the power to see yourself in a different light. To see your worth and potential. So on that dark day when relapse seems the easiest option, remember these words: I can fight for my freedom. I am a winner. 

When the thoughts of relapse enter your head, remember that you are in control of your recovery, thoughts are powerful but they are just thoughts. They have no right to have any control over you. Write a list of pros and cons, talk to people. Don't let your illness keep secrets, because the more open you are with people, the better chance you have. As soon as you keep secrets from those around you or tell white lies, you are giving your illness the chance to take control- and that's not okay! 

I have every faith that you can overcome your demons, but by having faith in yourself...that's when you will go far. 

Saturday 5 April 2014

When it all becomes so normal....that's when you have a big problem.

You know there is a problem when seeing someone self harm or stop eating doesn't even cause you to bat an eyelid. But do you? 

The problem is that when you struggle with mental illness you forget that it isn't the norm. It isn't normal to see someone with a tube taped to their face and scars covering their body. It isn't the norm to see someone sobbing for hours or pacing around unable to sit down. 

But to a person that has spent long period of time in a hospital environment, this becomes something you see on a daily basis, it becomes so normal you are immune to the shock that others may experience witnessing the same sights. 

You see, our world becomes mental illness. We live and breathe it. We are surrounded by it each day, each night. It becomes normality. We become immune to the affects of other struggles to a certain extent. This in turn downplays our own struggles because it is normal to see I'm others, therefore it is normal to see in ourselves. 

So for a sufferer of Anorexia Nervosa who is institutionalised in such a way, seeing people who are so underweight, it becomes so normal. You don't think "gosh they're emaciated", it's just another person. It puts so much pressure on you when you are surrounded by people who are underweight and suffering. There is always someone thinner; after all you re in a unit for Anorexia. But if you were to be out in the real world you wouldn't always have that person thinner (who coincidently could be any size with such a distorted view) to compare yourself to. 

Living in the real world, it gives you back that sense of reality. It shows you the true meaning of life and gives you am idea of what you're missing out on. You see people going to work and school. You see couples walking down the street. You regain an idea of what a 'normal' life entails. A life that doesn't have to be exciting every minute of the day, but is peaceful. 

You see life beyond the four walls of a hospital, and certainly beyond mental illness. It's not easy, but it's possible 100%. If it's possible for others to live life, then it's possible for you too! 

Friday 4 April 2014

"We will recover, the worst is over now."

Five years ago to this day, I was transferred to a psychiatric hospital for the first time, after being stabilised in a medical hospital with severe dehydration and malnourishment.

Five years ago I was fed via a tube, to keep me alive. I did not eat or drink anything for nine months whilst being tube fed and was fed through this tube, against my will. I was restrained when needed, so they could give me vital nourishment. All I could think about was being thin. I was hurting mentally and the obsession with loosing weight because a destructive distraction.

Since then I have spent birthdays and Christmas's in hospital. I have been sectioned under the mental health act. I have been classed as a "chronic self harmer" and "treatment resistant anorexic". I have been injected with medication and restrained for hours to stop me hurting myself. I have nearly died from suicide attempts.

But none of this is important anymore, because it is in the past. The past has no need to affect the present and certainly not the future. I cannot change the scars on my body. I cannot change my medical history. But I can change my behaviours and I can change the way people see me. I don't need to be the ill one anymore, because I have ambitions, I have goals and aspirations  and dreams of an exciting future! I have a support network surrounding me and I know I am cared for dearly.

You see, when you have been ill for so long, I know change is petrifying. It becomes your identity. Your armour almost. It hides the fragile person within that needs love and nurturing. I know you have it in you to let go of that armour. Because I can see you are strong. I can see you have an amazing future ahead of you. I can see you don't need to be afraid.

If I can get you to hear one thing, please let it be this:

It's okay to let go.

Monday 17 February 2014

Just a little reminder...

When the going gets tough, when life brings you down, remember this: 

You are loved, but the most important love you need is the love towards yourself- that will get you far. 

I was talking to someone the other day and they said "Chloe I have a loving family and amazing friends, why am I still so unhappy?"

Well, that's because no matter how much others love you, without self love it means nothing. If you hate yourself and loathe who you are, why would someone else loving you make any difference? It just hits the brick wall you have built around yourself. I believe that we all have it in us to love who we are, but it takes time, maturity and patience. It takes work and effort.

How do you do this? That's something I can't give you. You have to make the decision to fight the monsters in your head and LISTEN to the world around you. Their compliments speak truth! The positivity other see in you doesn't appear out the blue. You have earned it for being the person you are. Please, take a moment to sit and write down the things you DO like about yourself, whether it be physically or emotionally. You have purpose in this world. You have wonderful qualities and I so wish that you can see what everyone else sees in you. 

If you can't write down any qualities for yourself (which is perfectly okay) how about asking someone else you trust to help you. Don't feel embarrassed doing this, I'm positive that they will be happy to help. 

YOU are a valuable part of this world, you are beautifully made and deserve The best chance in life. But you need to see that it takes a leap of faith on your part, it takes a leap into the unknown to see that you have endless possibilities in your life. Please please understand that self love is your chance of freedom. So fight! Fight as hard as you can. Fight to see yourself in the way everybody else sees you. 

I care, I love you. So many others do too. Please don't give up, one day you will look back on this as a distant memory. 

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Fear- an insight.

The panic hit me, I could feel my heart beating through my chest. My hands became clammy and I lost the ability to sit still. I needed to calm down. Why did it feel so impossible? Why was I so scared?

Fear is a powerful emotion, was are faced with our 'fight or flight' instincts. Adrenaline pumps through our bodies, ready to react to any situation. But, sometimes fear is so unnecessary and something we just can't shift. It takes us when we least expect it. When we get nervous and feel fear, for example before an exam - fear can get in the way of the task we need to achieve. This becomes extremely inconvenient.

But for someone with mental illness fear comes in a way that can be completely debilitating . It stops people from committing themselves to recovery, myself included.

For such a long time my life was ruled by fear. Fear of being caught using self destructive behaviour, fear of when impulsive thoughts would hit me, fear of the future, fear of hurting the people I love so dearly...the list goes on and on.

I was in fear of recovery because I felt like mental illness was my identity. I didn't know how I would cope without using negative behaviour, who I would be without being known as "the girl that messed up at school", "the girl in hospital" or "the girl covered in scars". I didn't know how I was going to recreate myself. It made me so so scared. This held me back. I lost my friends, I didn't know how I was going to recreate myself.

I was in fear of recovery because my thoughts were so big and scary, that I didn't know how on earth they would give me a moments peace if I wasn't hurting myself. Hurting myself was what made the voices in my head quiet. The fear of losing that temporary silence is something that I will never forget.

I was in fear of recovery because I felt like I was setting myself up to fail. What if I couldn't do it? What if recovery is too hard? Then I would be failing and that is something I couldn't deal with. Sometimes I still find myself stuck at this point. I worry perfectionism will get the better of me and i I can't get recovery perfect (which isn't humanely possible!) Then there is no point trying at all.

But there is moments when I remember that I am human and this is totally okay. I don't have to get it right all the time. It is perfectly okay to make mistakes. When the mean bully in my head tells me I am useless, I try to respond with pity because I need to remember it is possible to succeed.

To let go of fear , we need to accept that being scared has a time and a place, and in order to move forwards we need to see that it doesn't have to take control. This is hard, but it is possible. Fear has no right to dictate over your life. By using certain emotions to counteract fear- such as excitement or anticipation, fear can be turn onto something positive.

It is okay to be scared, it is perfectly normal. It is when you start beating yourself up about it, that's not okay.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Is there someone you need to forgive?

What is forgiveness?

The act of forgiveness is to stop feeling angry or resentful towards somebody for an offence, act, flaw or mistake. But that is only what the dictionary tells s. I believe forgiveness is so much more. Forgiveness is a way of letting go of the past in order to move forward. It is a chance to give somebody the reassurance that you can give them a second chance. Sometimes forgiveness is something that happens many months of even years  after an event, on a personal level. You may not even know the person any more, but need to forgive them in order to stop getting caught up in what's already happened, so you can move on the the future. 

Forgiveness plays a huge part of recovery in my opinion. It is a chance to let go and move on from the negative emotions that have become so normal in day to day life. It is a chance to say to yourself that it is okay to move on. 

But one of the main acts of forgiveness that I believe is important is the act of forgiveness towards yourself. It is time to stop worrying about when you got angry because a friend said the wrong thing, or the time you skipped lunch because that was the only way you could handle your emotions at the time. It is time to say: "okay, the past is in the past. I need to let go."

'Letting go' isn't easy. it isn't something that happens with a click of your fingers. It is something that takes time and a lot of effort to achieve. But it is possible. I believe that the first step is to accept whatever has happened is in the past. It may be the argument you had with your Mum last week or the boy that bullied you through out primary school. Accepting that it is in the past is one step to showing yourself it doesn't have to be part of your future. Then it is time to remember what you will gain from forgiving. You will gain power- your negative thoughts will be overcome with thoughts of acceptance and forgiveness, giving you a calmer frame of mind. You will gain the ability to move forwards; anger, sadness and resentment will no longer be able to drag you back. You will heal, because you will be in control. 

When it comes to applying this in self forgiveness it is very similar. You need to accept the mistakes you have made, that everybody makes mistakes and that it is absolutely okay to forgive yourself. Accepting that we as humans are not perfect is a valuable life skill. Accept that what has happened is now over. It doesn't need to hang like a rain cloud over your head. Then think of the positives that come from self forgiveness. You are empowering yourself by not letting your emotions, thoughts or memories control you a second longer. Instead you are taking charge of your own mind and finding peace, through accepting yourself and your mistakes.  By accepting that you will make more mistakes in the future, (which is perfectly okay) you will become a step closer to being at peace with yourself and in control of your mind once more. 

In a state of panic and sadness a close friend told me that in order to move on, I need to try and forgive. It got me thinking. She is so right. Sometimes fear gets in the way of seeing what we need to do, and a gentle reminder parts that fear and helps us to focus. In order to move on in  life we can't hold on to the rubbish that has been and gone already; a lost job, a friends betrayal, a family all has to go. We can't expect to be able to put on new clothes, without taking the dirty ones off. We have to forgive. 

I am working my way through life and forgiving the people I need to forgive. It is brining a huge sense of relief, that I don't have to carry that weight on my shoulders any longer. It can bring the same to your life too! I am also trying to begin to forgive myself. I am searching for peace that is available to all of us. 

So no matter how big or small, I urge you to forgive someone or yourself for something that has happened during your life. It's worth it, I promise.