Christmas starts with Christ

Christmas

I went to Mass with my husband and children this evening, it was a lovely service.

It is this time of year that I think about my religion and if I have been a good teacher to my children. It is important that they know the story of Christmas rather than thinking it is all about presents.

There are so many unhappy and stressed people wondering round the shops trying to find the perfect gifts in the hope that will give them the perfect Christmas. If this is what you are aiming for then unfortunately you will be disappointed. Trying to create that perfect Christmas just leads to more stress.

Relax and find out what the real story of Christmas is….

I wish you all a great stress free and relaxed Christmas.

God bless.

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Christmas, I am truly blessed.

Christmas is upon us once again. All I have left to do is wrap the presents and put them under the tree. I love watching my children open their presents on Christmas day. I am truly blessed.

This year I feel positive about Christmas, this has been a long time coming. Normally I feel too depressed and struggle with my eating disorder and the impulsive behaviour associated with my borderline personality disorder.

This year, I want things to be different for my children and husband. I want to be the ‘perfect’ mother and wife. But perfection is so hard to achieve.

Something has changed, I do not feel like the failure that I believed I was last Christmas and the Christmas before that etc. I have done everything with my children in mind and given myself a good kick when starting to feel sorry for myself. I have also started to accept the more ‘negative’ emotions I have and tell myself that it is ok to feel the way I do and not try to brush them under the carpet and pretend they are not there. So it is OK if I am not that ‘perfect’ a mother and wife after all.

It is OK to be me because no matter how difficult things feel at times I know they will pass and leave me and my husband and children will always be there for me. I am truly blessed.

Merry Christmas
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Shame, A powerful emotion.

What is Shame?

Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress.

Shame and the inability to talk about it or to even acknowledge it will only create more pain and havoc. As with any feeling, when it is denied it grows stronger every time it resurfaces.

Most of us split feelings into positive feelings and negative feelings. Shame is preserved to be a negative feeling. I do not believe that any feeling is negative. They all serve a purpose and we need to identify what that is.

Experiencing Shame

When experiencing shame it can often feel unbearable, triggering thoughts of worthlessness, and cutting us off from those around us. It can also evoke other painful feelings, such as

• rage at the one that made us feel shamed
• fear of abandonment
• despair at being unable to cope with this feeling

There are many other emotions that can be generated by shame. An example of some of the emotions I list here but this list is by no means exhaustive.

Alienation, Humiliated, Powerless, Defenceless, Unworthy, Rejected, Weak, Rejected, Inadequate, Insecure, Shy, Stupid, Helpless, Flawed, Exposed, Inferior, Embarrassed, Belittled, Stigmatized, Hurt
And the list goes on and on…..

The Physical Effects of Shame
Feelings of shame can manifest itself into many physical forms. For example when talking to someone we hide your eyes or lower your gaze

• blush easily
• bite your lip or tongue
• force a smile
• fidget
• Feeling annoyed
• Feeling defensive

Having experienced one or more of the above the effects of shame can interfere with the ability to think. As a result we may feel confused, tongue tied and unable to find the right words to become actively involved in a conversation.

What makes us feel shame?

We feel shame when we are lead to believe that something we have or have not done is wrong or foolish.

Shame maybe described as the inner critical voice that judges whatever we do as wrong, inferior, or worthless. That inner critical voice is only repeating what has already been said in the past by our parents, relatives, teachers, so called friends and total strangers.

At some point in all our pasts we have been

• Told we were naughty,selfish, ugly or stupid as children
• Ostracised by peers at school or in the workplace
• Humiliated by teachers or work colleagues
• Treated by contempt by stranger, parents etc.

We may also not have lived up to someone expectations by not passing that school exam or getting that promotion at work. This produces criticism from those we see in authority or above ourselves. These criticisms then become internalized and morph into own inner critical voice. And so we now hear ourselves say:

• “You idiot, why did you do that?”
• “Can’t you do anything right?”
• “You should be ashamed of yourself”
• “Look at that ugly thing in the mirror”

Shame can also be felt when an emotion is frowned about by parents etc. Some emotions that may be frowned upon and how they are chastised by others are:

• Displaying sadness through crying
o “Stop crying, big girls do not cry”
o “Pull yourself together”
o “Look, people are looking at you and laughing, now stop that behaviour”
• Showing anger
o “You are making a fool of yourself”
• Expressing fear
o “There is no need to be afraid of…..”
o “Don’t be silly, you are ok”
• Showing pride
o “Who do you think you are?”
o “what a show off”

All of these negative comments are internalised and when we experience sadness, anger etc. those feelings generated by the original comments come flooding back and we feel shame.

The inner critical voice then becomes our inner critical judge as these feelings arise again and again, gaining strength. This inner critical judge is continuously providing a negative evaluation of what we are doing, moment-by-moment. The inner critic may then make it impossible for us to do anything right.

Eating disorders and feeling lonely

I just wanted to let out some of my feelings around my bulimia…..

BULIMIA
What a lonely illness this is!
Once you are in her target, she will never miss.
She takes hold of you when you are feeling low
You are just another tale of woe.

She is looking to see what she can find
And slowly she is twisting your mind.
She is a drug and you keep increasing the dose
She is your shameful secret you can not disclose.

Your strength she is slowly taking
Your own self loathing she is making.
Your every breath is her fuel
Your own self pride is now so cruel.

Your life, is a world full of shame and deceit
Do not be fooled, you are not one of the elite.
This is what she has created for you
Yes, I know this subject is taboo.

As you search for her one weakness
She will plunge you into darkness.
She will hold on with all her might
But you must never give up the fight.

Just one day of self-pity

I have been dealing with lower back pain for what feels like an eternity. I was told I had sciatica after a very brief examination and given painkillers to take for two weeks. I was told that would get me through the worst of the pain because it should not last too long.

Well that was back in January. Since then I have been put on anti-inflammatories and my pain medication was doubled. Again and again I went back to the doctor because the painkillers were not taking the edge of the discomfort I was feeling.

I have been reduced to tears many times. I have a dog that needs to be walked and I push myself to walk through the pain. Many times I have wanted to call my husband to come and meet me with the car to drive me home because I have been unable to walk back home. During these walks and whenever I do housework I have to stop and rest.

Two weeks ago the doctor said enough was enough and sent me for an x-ray. Today I was given the results. I really was expecting to be told that the x-rays did not show anything and with a little physiotherapy my pain could be managed and eventually over come. But no, that was not what I heard. At first all I heard was a selection of words, random words that did not make sense.

I have been told that I have osteoarthritis of the upper and lower spine. My x-ray clearly showed that I have osteophytes which has resulted in a narrowing of the canal that the nerves runs through. That explains why I have numbness and pins and needles in both legs and left arm.

Since January all I have been looking for is something, anything that would get rid of the pain and discomfort I feel. But today I was told that this is something I have to learn to live with and manage. Those words have haunted me all day.

I am stuck in some strange place right now. I have questions, lots of them but no one is there to answer them. My GP told me to look through the internet and educate myself. I guess that will have to be a task for tomorrow because today (I know this sounds rather mellow dramatic but…) I feel that my world has collapsed.

I believe everything happens for a reason so I am only going to allow myself one day of self-pity. Then it is time to move on and start educating myself on what I can do……

Today I saw my care co-ordinator

This morning I saw my care co-ordinator at the hospital. I have not seen her since January, so yes I was a bit apprehensive.  The purpose of this meeting was to have a review of the 18 psychotherapy sessions that I had with a doctor still in training.

I used these sessions to try to explore my feelings and understand the mess that is in my head. I may not have sorted out the mess in my head but I certainly let go of some things that I have been holding onto for a very long time. With only 18 sessions nothing was discussed in detail. No solutions were suggested or worked through. None of our objectives were met. Was I expecting too much? Were we too ambitious about our goals?

My care co-ordinator who I will now call ‘C’ from this point onwards and I will refer to the doctor I saw for psychotherapy ‘R’.

C  asked what I wanted to talk about. I had prepared a list of things but did not want to dive straight in to that. I wanted to know the format of the review and what could the possible outcomes of the meeting be. I was told that we would get to that later. I did manage to talk about most of the things on my list throughout the session. I am glad that I went prepared.

The first question she asked was how I felt my sessions with R went? My last session with him ended really badly, in fact I walked out. It placed a cloud over all the sessions we had together and to be honest it worries me that all therapists are like him. Deep down I know that they are not and that everyone is different.  It was just one bad experience and I need to move on from that.

I knew from the very first session with R that it would be difficult to work with him. He never introduced himself, said hello etc. The first time he saw me he stood outside the waiting room called my name and took me to a room and sat in silence. With no introduction and no guidance on what we were to be focusing on I started to worry about saying anything. Worried that anything I did say would be wrong. I need guidelines, especially in new situations.  I wanted him to introduce himself to show that he was human and approachable. Was I asking for too much?

After a few sessions I wrote R a letter to explain how uncomfortable I felt. He did say that he did not understand why introductions were needed. Heavens above, we were complete strangers, I think it would have broken the ice a bit! I felt he was an unemotional robot and felt embarrassed for writing that letter and so just told myself to forget it and get on with therapy.

I was not able to look at R from that point onwards.  I just looked at the floor throughout every session. He gave no reaction to anything I said, very rarely asked me questions.  But during one session I decided to approach a subject that has had a very detrimental affect on my life. Every day I think about  something that happened a long time ago. I told R that this was a huge and difficult ‘thing’ for me to do. It did take me almost a full session just to say a few sentences. But I was glad that I finally got it out in the open and was convinced that now I would be able to move on from this and reduce the influence this ‘thing’ had on my life. But most of all I wanted to work on finding a way to forgive myself.

At the following weeks meeting R never mentioned it. Maybe he was waiting for me to talk it. I understand that may have been the case but I told him that if I bring a new topic into our meetings and he does not ask about it then I will not mention it again. In my head I thought that because he did not ask me  about this ‘thing’ then it was not important. Not important to him but still very important to me. It made me think about the trust I had given him to tell him something so very private.

C did not know anything about this and asked if I could tell her what this big ‘thing’ was. That was not possible.  R had not included this in my notes so again that reinforced within me that he did not think it important. Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill in regards to this?

C also did not know anything about the lecture R gave me in our last session together. He upset me and kept pushing  me when I asked him to stop. I did not want our last session to end with me being upset. I wanted it to be light but R kept asking if there was anything that I wanted to revisit. No! Not on the last session but he kept going on and on and so I did get upset and cried.

In a desperate attempt to take control of the session and turn it around to something light hearted I thought I might end by asking him where he was going to work next. I only asked to wish him well. But he said that I had been inappropriate for asking such an innocent question. R was leaving to continue his training at another hospital after my last session with him. I was not really interested in where he was going to work next as he was my therapist not a friend. But he did not like this question. Why did he not just say that he did not want to answer my question instead of giving me a lecture? C did not even know that I had walked out. This was not included in his notes.

Anyway that is the past, so where do things go from here. I asked C this question and at the same time told her that I was angry with her for saying that I had to go through a period of three months without support (that turned out to be four months in the end). I did ask for this to be reduced, I did say that I was worried about how I would cope etc. I had come so close to taking another overdose. I had written my goodbye letter to my husband and written my check list of things to do. I needed her to know that the last four months had not been a bed of roses for me and that a little help would have been appreciated and that I would like more help now. I told her that her ‘not up for a review’ processes made me feel like a statistic and not a real person. She put these feelings down to my borderline personality disorder (that did irritate me to be honest).

Well I did manage to get myself through those four months. I pulled out all my old notes on DBT and took out the bits that I could use to get through.

So again, what happens next? C said she did not know and that she would have to speak to the team about things. I am not that great with DBT so would like to learn more about that, however the hospital is looking at introducing a mentalisation group that I could be considered for.

No real answers yet. We will have another meeting next month to discuss what the team thinks.

I came home today feeling alone, very angry and confused.

So I had a bad morning and it is OK to feel the way I do. But time does not stay still and things move on and I will feel different soon.

A Reminder Of What I Could Lose Through My ED

I was diagnosed with an eating disorder some time ago. I have relapsed again but I am working my way through some of the things that I did when I was attending an ED clinic.

Here is an exercise that I did from the book ‘Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e): A Survival Kit for Sufferers of Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorders’ by Janet Treasure. This exercise helps remind myself of everything I can lose if I give up the fight for recovery…..

REASONS TO GIVE UP BULIMIA

PRACTICAL GAINS TO SELF
My mood swings will decrease
My teeth will remain healthy
I won’t feel tired all the time
I will feel physically well
I will not become doubly incontinent
I won’t get so many sore throats
My confidence will increase
I will no longer need to take anti-depressants
I will not be afraid to eat with my family
I will be able to go to restaurants to eat

PRACTICAL GAINS TO OTHERS
I will have a better relationship with my husband and children
I will not talk about diets all the time
My husband will not find food wrappers around the house
My husband will not come home to a drunken wife
I will regain my husbands trust
My sex drive will increase
I will be less irritable and snappy to my husband and kids
Will be able to return to work and help support the family
I will not be such a drain on the NHS
I will make friends

SELF APPROVAL
I will not have to lie about food
I will not have to lie about what I drink
I will not have to lie about taking laxatives
I will no t have to lie about taking diuretics
I will not have to deceive people about vomiting
I will have achieved something positive

SOCIAL APPROVAL
My husband will stop worrying about me
My husband will not have to watch me destroy me life
My husband will no longer have to suffer the pain of having a wife with a mental illness
My son will stop worrying about mummy, and stop asking if I am happy
I will be able to take part in activities and become a more active member of the local community

REASONS FOR STAYING BULIMIC

PRACTICAL LOSS TO SELF
Mood swings will increase
My teeth will start to decay
I will feel tired and unwell all the time
My body will not function properly (especially with the continuing laxative and diuretic abuse)
My sore throats will increase
My self esteem will remain low
I will become a prisoner in my own home
Increased thoughts of self hatred
Increased thoughts of self harming
I will continue to feel sick after eating if I cannot purge
I will find meal times more and more frightening
I may get swelling due to water retention
I will fear my own weight and weigh myself everyday
 
PRACTICAL LOSS TO OTHERS
My relationship with my family will deteriorate
I will be constantly talking about my weight and self hate
I will lose control of how much I spend on food
I will sink deeper and deeper into my alcohol issues
My children will lose a mother that loves them
I will not be able to return to work and we will sink deeper in to debt
I will not be able to make friends and continue to feel lonely

SELF DISAPPROVAL
My self esteem will be none existent
I will lose control of everything
I will have to face up to my responsibilities
I will hate myself and body more
I will be ashamed of myself
I will lie to everybody about everything
 
SOCIAL DISAPPROVAL
I will not be able to hide my fear of food from others
My children will become more aware of my eating habits and talk to their friends about it
Social services will become involved again
My son’s school will find out that there are problems at home
My family will find out my ED is back