Allgemein, Introvert, Mental Health, thoughts

Fixing my broken Mind

Aloha, my loves.

It’s been an awfully long time, but I am alive and well. In fact, I haven’t felt this at peace in a couple of moons. Realising how balanced my soul can actually be, leads to exuberance, but also entails grief concerning the time lost in the dark.

I’ve come to share some of the revelations I’ve been given through my therapy sessions in the last weeks. Before I start, I would like to encourage anyone out there who feels like their soul is hurting in some way to seek help. Your struggles are valid and you are legitimate for wanting to heal. Life is all about perspective, which is why the fate of people suffering far away doesn’t affect us the same way that it would in our own midst. A friend recently told me how we go to the doctor whenever one of our body parts is hurting. Some people go in for a cough, others once their condition’s aggravated, e.g. rendering them unable to breathe freely. She then said: Why is it that we seek help for our ailments, regardless of how insignificant they may seem, yet we continue to feel terribly conflicted when our heart, our soul is hurting? I thought she made a beautiful point: Our soul plays a paramount role in keeping our body healthy. It is the incredible source of energy guiding our vessels made of flesh and bone. We need to take better care of ourselves.

As mentioned in a previous entry, this isn’t the first time I’ve sought professional help for my broken mind. However, it is the first time that it is going to be accompanying me for a prolonged period of time. I cannot say that pouring your heart out becomes easier each week – because it really doesn’t. Right before my appointment, I feel anxious. The anxiety fades away quickly once I’m into the session, but I do feel that working on your internalised issues is a process that requires vast amounts of energy. Leaving therapy each week I feel drained, but contented. It gives me time to speak my mind, providing me with a safe allocated time slot each week where I can freely declutter everything that has been going on. Being confronted with your demons is rough – for me, finding out how much self-loathing I am carrying inside is truly a shocking thing to experience. My therapist will sometimes pretend to be the voice in my head, or my internalised voice telling me the horrible things straight to my face. It’s in these situations that I realise how poorly I speak to myself – something I’d never dare direct towards other people. “This is cruel, why would anyone bring me down like that?” – when in reality, all of this stems from a place devoid of self-love and self-acceptance. I would say that I have already ventured past the ‘honeymoon phase’ of my therapy. The first few sessions were a lot easier for me than the more recent ones. We have been discussing a lot of things that happened in my childhood, things I would rather keep concealed or didn’t know I was suppressing. When those things resurface, it can be terrifying, but I want to keep pushing forward.

How was your experience with therapy? Sending lots of love and light,

L

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Allgemein, eating disorder, Introvert, Mental Health, thoughts

Distorted Reflection – My Experience With Body Dysmorphia

Heihei my friends from (potentially) around the world. I hope you are having a beautiful start in 2019 so far.

As I am quite open to discussing my eating disorder with others, I thought: “Why stop there?”, and wanted to touch on another topic that I have been learning to cope with throughout the years. Body Dysmorphia (or BDD – Body Dysmorphic Disorder) is believed to pester around 1 in 50 people, but dare I say that I think it must be a greater number than that? As with eating disorders, Body Dysmorphia comes in stages and varying degrees of obsession, making it relatively difficult to diagnose. It usually joins ranks with other “vanity struggles”, not getting the recognition it and its sufferers deserve.

Contrary to what you might think (and to what the name implies, really), most cases of Body Dysmorphia do not necessarily revolve around the sufferer thinking poorly of their torso, legs, arms, or other parts you would naturally associate with the sheer word body. More often, the patient perceives parts of their face to be flawed to an extent that may seem irrational and “vain” to others.

“Stop fishing for compliments”

“Oh come on, you look great.”

…are among the sentences sufferers would commonly hear. Friends and family may easily dismiss the patient’s struggles and deem them insignificant, as “we all have things we don’t like about ourselves”. You see, it goes beyond simple adversity towards your nose or forehead, in this case. Body Dysmorphia is characterised by a severe and unwavering obsession that has patients spend an inconceivably long time looking at their reflection. It usually gets to the point where several hours per day are compromised in order to nip and tuck at one’s face or body. While an early or light stage could mean someone occasionally displays said behaviour, at a progressed stage the patient’s livelihood and everyday wellbeing are greatly restricted. From what I have gathered, many people (including yours truly) find it hard to leave the house when they are feeling a strong wave of dysmorphia.

Personally, I find a lot of similarities in the ways my eating disorder and my Body Dysmorphia announce their presence. Some days, I will feel confident and find a certain beauty in my physical appearance – which I could easily compare to days where I don’t feel compelled to binge or starve myself. However, then there are days where I cannot bear looking at my face in the mirror, will avoid any reflection on my way to work, and feel terribly intimidated by the people around me. I will no longer be able to even recognise my face as human. It will look foreign, distorted – not something you’d want to leave the house with.

Imagine walking through a crowd of people whilst having all of them staring at your “flaws”. Are they really staring? Probably not – but I can tell you from first-hand experience, that on bad days it feels as though everyone’s out to get you for the atrocious sight you make and dare put out there. It’s a vile, pressing feeling in the chest, similar to what you might experience in light panic attacks. Triggers can vary, but for me, it often seems to be images I see of what our society nowadays deems beautiful. When it was worse, I would just have to look at someone and feel inadequate compared to them. Social media has amplified this effect – we’re constantly force-fed images of what perfection is perceived to be. We are told that beauty equals love, success, wealth. No wonder that a growing number of people are having a hard time dealing with feelings of inadequacy.

Throughout the years and after having invested countless hours in acts of self-love, I feel that the dysmorphic phases pester me less frequently. I believe that it is something we can cure by finding appreciation and love for the only person in this world that we MUST love – ourselves. We do all have off days where we don’t feel confident – that is certain. However, do not let physical features define who you are and what your worth is. On days where I don’t feel radiant, I like to remind myself that I am a loving, kind, and fun and that I am constantly striving to be the best version of myself.

It’s a journey, not an easy one, either. But I believe in you and your light within, one that remains unaffected by physical matters.

L

 

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Allgemein, Empathy, INFP, Introvert, Mental Health, thoughts

Empathy – A Double-Edged Sword? (INFP)

First and foremost, let me begin by wishing all of you a beautiful, healthy and successful new year. As easy as it is to dwell on last year’s unfinished business and goals we set out to achieve, it marks the beginning of something new and potentially enlightening.

Today, I would like to reflect on something many of my fellow empaths may be able to relate to. Growing up, I thought everyone else sure had to be like me and thus be able to pick up on cues around them, to subconsciously absorb emotional waves from others. People wouldn’t need to speak their minds or voice their emotions, because I always knew before they could or would put them into words. It’s a strong gift, that I only learned to appreciate when I reached my twenties. Before that, I simply couldn’t understand why I’d feel sad, angry, or happy with no apparent trigger. Eventually, I grew to like that part of me. It gives me incredible insight into other people but also allows me to manoeuvre any social situation with ease (some call it manipulative, but I reckon I’m only helping and playing mediator…). However, there are times when I cannot shield my fragile self from the outside and I become susceptible to unintentional emotional havoc.

Let me explain.

While it greatly depends on my mental preparation, I often find myself assimilating too much energy from other people and situations. I may find a way to circumvent the worst outcome but will end up bottling up some part of it. It weighs heavy on me, and that’s one of the reasons I frequently need to recharge and enter hermit-mode. This includes a plethora of varied situations (I’m looking at you, painfully awkward social gathering where I feel obliged to entertain). Sometimes, I will be out and about having a grand old time with some of my best friends, when suddenly my mood swings. Rarely am I able to detect what triggers it, but when I reflect about it in hindsight, I find answers. Someone telling me about the recent hardships they’ve endured, a couple audibly arguing in the distance, a visibly upset person in front of me – all of these things can be enough to cause my emotions to go haywire. Whenever I notice these changes within me, I feel compelled to remove myself from the situation. I find it unfair to burden others with my sudden mood swings. Luckily, my friends are very accepting and just lovely human beings.

I love feeling everything so intensely. As frightening as it is, it’s also truly magical. Passion, love, exhilaration – all of these come in amplified form, which is lovely. I do believe, however, that it’s important to do regular check-ins with ourselves:

“What am I feeling right now?”

“Why am I feeling this way?”

..and most importantly:

“Are these MY emotions, or someone else’s?”

Especially the last question has provided tremendous relief for me. It is okay to remind yourself that you are carrying someone else’s grief or anger around. It is just what we do as spiritual vessels. In fact, I think it’s necessary to acknowledge these foreign feelings in order to let them go. Not dealing with them sets you up for failure – they will grow more malicious and less distinguishable from your own emotional turmoil.

I would love to hear from some fellow empaths what you do in said situations, how you deal with intense emotions, and if there is something you do to protect yourself. When in doubt, I have found that meditation and yoga, both, provide excellent outlets for emotional decluttering. It’s like spring cleaning every day, if you like. It helps me retrieve emotional equilibrium when my mind gets too foggy.

Thanks for reading all this – I’m sending love and light your way,

L

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Allgemein, eating disorder, Mental Health, thoughts

A Tale of Lost Joy

‘Ello lasses and lads (why not switch it up and name the lasses first, right?)

In today’s edition of “wallowing in self-pity” we will be talking about a boy who lost the ability to feel joy. Not always, but more often than not. Let me get you up to speed.

In my childhood, I used to enjoy a plethora of things. I used to play outside with my brothers, imagination running wild beyond compare. I would curiously meander about town collecting shiny things, treasuring peculiar objects that struck my fancy. I would easily become fascinated by and immersed in games, and the only thing I’d want to do is continue that game I was playing. Heck, I’d even pretend to be ill just so I could stay at home to pursue my hobbies and wishes at that time.

All of that was lost. I don’t know when, I don’t know how. The sparkle, the excitement, allowing myself to feel worthy of pursuing what I love – it’s all shattered and the spark has dimmed down to sombre embers.

Maybe some people will be able to relate to this. I feel as though I’ve lost all ability to happily engage in my own company. While I rationally understand that it’s false, I perceive a lot of pressure. Pressure to “be doing something more productive than this”, pressure to “clean my room”, to “study”, to “chase the next opportunity”. My mind is racing, never at ease. It’s hard for me to sit down and actually start doing something for myself. Perhaps, there’s a book I’d really love to read. However, my mind tricks me into thinking that I would have to give this book 100 % of me, that it deserves my full dedication and attention. This mental block leads me to do other things that don’t require my full attention… So I find myself “wanting” to start something new, a book, a game, but spending hours just listening to music or watching videos and documentaries.

I’m not sure why this is. Does my brain need the constant sound of someone, something talking to me? Am I scared that once I start something, I will not be able to stop and thusly be thrown into a vicious cycle? I cannot be alone with my own thoughts, it drives me insane. Closing my laptop to focus on a book, for instance, spikes my anxiety. It’s like “alright – now get that quality time with yourself. This is your chance – you better make it worthwhile”. I create a toxic pressure under which it’s virtually impossible to enjoy things – and this is where I need help.

As an adult, I am increasingly aware of the fact that I am putting on a serious face. Growing up in an unstructured environment where humour was the main coping mechanism, I feel as though I am obliged to put on a brave front and be serious about life when others aren’t. I can’t have the structures collapse, and I feel terribly alone in trying to manage this. I know how rambly this might sound to others, but I am writing this straight from the heart. I will be tackling this in therapy, and will make sure to share any new insights.

What are your experiences with this? I know that losing joy and excitement for life is a common symptom in sufferers of depression and depressive episodes. What did you do / are you trying to do in order to get that spark back into your life?

Sending love and light,

L

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Allgemein, thoughts

The Art of Being Human

My friends, welcome to a short rant.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what makes people react the way they do in certain situations. I’m a big observer (frankly cannot turn it off, would love to be able to) and the social interactions I witness range from anywhere between heart-warming and amusing, to disheartening and atrocious.

 The reason I felt inspired to write about this today is a man I saw in the bakery this morning. He was ordering before me and seemed unable to muster even the tiniest smile for the lovely cashier. We all know how draining and tough customer service can be – putting on a smile or a brave face whenever someone’s around. There have been times my heart was aching so badly I could hardly stop my legs from trembling, yet I managed to appear beaming in front of my customers. I know it’s not an easy thing to do, and hence never taken for granted on my end. Sure, we “expect” the service that we pay for as customers. In this case: receiving the goods we order, right? Any kindness on top of that is completely complementary.

Said man goes ahead and orders a double espresso (sure takes a lot of caffeine to maintain that misery). No greeting, no please. No thank you at the end, no smile, no farewell. Now, I’m not saying you always have to do these things. However, if you don’t have the decency to treat others kindly, do not expect others to be kind to you.

Much love,

L

 

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Allgemein, Mental Health

Leap of Faith

Hello again lads and lasses,

Has it started snowing wherever you are? It did here a couple of days ago, but we seem rather far from reaching a picture-perfect white Christmas this year. I do find solace in the glistening snow, the warm lights, and the enticing odours around every corner this time of year. Seeing people (stressed, yet) gleeful, gathering in Christmas markets to catch up with their friends is quite a mesmerising thing. 

Life has been turbulent the last few days, notably due to me moving in with my brother and figuring out how to continue my work routine when I barely have furniture. However, there is something quite magical about being able to pick out little tidbits for your own space here and there. While not being the first time I’ve had my own place, the first experience has a much darker tint to it, and doesn’t necessarily bear reminiscing and ruminating about. 

One of the biggest changes, or leaps of faith, has been going in for a preliminary therapy session, this week. While I used to be in therapy several years ago whilst studying in Wales, the school merely provided six sessions free of charge, leaving me with a lot of question marks and a scratched surface. I have high hopes in therapy. I possess great self-awareness, usually making it quite easy for me to figure out what I am feeling, what might be wrong, and so on. However, even having access to all this information about myself, I do lack the means to effect change within. It’s so close, yet so far away, but I know it can be done. 

Another key aspect for me is how mental illness weighs heavy on any relationship. Sure, friends will listen to you and family might console you in your darkest hours, but they cannot provide the help you need. Over time, this puts a strain on the bonds you’ve created, and losing your close circle of friends and family is the last thing you need when battling any kind of mental health problem. As I confronted said therapist with my plethora of pain points, they couldn’t help but point out how my mental struggles appeared like a “box of chocolates” to them. Quite the analogy, they wouldn’t even know where to start.

As time progresses, I will be assigned a therapist with whom I can start regular sessions. Obviously, I will keep writing about my experiences, if and how it helps me cope, and what changes I might notice deep within me. Please feel free to tell me about your experiences with therapy. 

Stay warm and safe,

xx

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Allgemein, Gayculiar, Mental Health

Fear of Rejection

Hello lads and lasses,

I am painfully aware of how long it’s been and am deeply saddened by my lack of willpower to continuously post on here. That being said, let’s dive into another great topic that some of us struggle with: fear of rejection.

While I’m sure that it stems from different and personal events in people’s lives, the symptoms are very similar in everyone. We try to please people in order to keep them in our lives, in order to prevent them from running away and leaving us alone. Because let’s face it: most of us aren’t great at being alone. Sure, there’s the occasional hermit-mode that we all engage in, but I mean… alone with your thoughts for a prolonged period of time.

As I can’t speak for anyone besides myself, let me share a bit of my experience and how it manifests in my adult life.

I would consider myself semi-confident in most aspects of my life. I know what I do at my job, I am aware that I’m very likeable and humorous and do understand what my friends and family appreciate about me. I’ve never had anyone in my close circle of friends and family abandon me on a whim, which is why my fear of rejection isn’t present in this realm. Where it is really present, though, is the romantic portion of my life (which yes, is tiny, thank you – but that only ties in with what I’m trying to say). When I go on dates, I am usually fine. I don’t have a hard time being myself around new people anymore, which is something that’s changed over the years. So, I’m great at meeting a guy a couple of times. Here’s what makes it complicated, though: emotional attachment.

As soon as I start to feel romantically drawn towards someone, I feel panic slowly taking over. It’s as though your life (that you were perfectly capable of leading up until that point) obtains a new centre to revolve around, without you being in control of it. I get scared that he will suddenly stop talking to me, that I’m not good enough anymore, that I need to try harder. Inevitably, that leads to me changing for said person, trying my hardest to please them – which drives them away. And I totally get that – who’d want to keep talking to someone who performed a spectacular 360° personality change? Consequently, I rarely go on dates now, to avoid feeling rejected. I wonder how many people this might resonate with? It’s as though the risk is too great, so I’d rather not even try.

My theory is that it all boils down to how much you love and accept yourself… and as hard as it is to swallow, I might have to do some more serious work in that department. I want to stop falling into that trap and to be able to not make my life dependent on some love interest’s perception and opinion of me.

I’d be super curious to know if anyone else experiences this in dating. Let me know your thoughts if you like and have a good one.

 

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Allgemein, Mental Health

Growing up fat

I cannot really recall a time I didn’t think I was massive. However, I do understand that I was born into this world a healthy weight. According to my mum and many photos, I was actually at an alright weight until I started elementary school. It was around that time that my parents split up and went their separate ways. When I was younger, I kept saying I wasn’t sad or distressed because of it, but maybe it did take a toll on me. There was one thing, though, that wouldn’t just leave me: food.

I would drink sugary drinks, eat a lot of fast food and candy, and had no concept of “healthy”. Sure, I knew that vegetables were a thing, but wasn’t aware you could have them without copious amounts of melted cheese on top. Naturally, this led to a steady weight gain that I honestly didn’t mind too much at the time. You are so carefree as a child. It was only in school that I realised how my weight affected me. People would laugh at me during PE and in the locker room for my weight, but it wasn’t all that bad. Since I looked like a girl at that age (that’s a whole different story), I got a lot more bullying for that one than for my weight. Saving grace, I suppose? So while I wasn’t bullied tremendously for my weight, I still had my fair share of horrendous experiences.

As I grew older, I started feeling attracted to guys and wondered if romance was ever going to be in store for me. The only gay people I ever saw were slim. While I wasn’t ballooning out of control, I was struggling with coming to terms with the body I’d “cultivated” throughout the years.

  • My first experience with weight loss

People ask me all the time. “How did you do it?”, “I would’ve never guessed you used to be fat..”, “What made you lose all that weight?”… – see, the thing is it was actually more of an accident. A happy one, I suppose? But let me get you up to speed. My friend approached me one day shortly before fasting period started (which most people don’t even do these days) and asked if I wanted to challenge myself with her (the challenge being not eating sweets for the entire fasting period – 40 days). I agreed, not even thinking about it from a weight loss perspective. I truly believe that I didn’t see candy as a factor in this equation at that point (how innocent). Weeks went on and I went overboard, wanted to out-do myself. Not only would I not eat candy, I would deliberately skip meals, starve myself, and not tell anyone (except my older brother who heard me fall over a couple of times). I would, however, eat an apple or drink a glass of milk when I was feeling dizzy and weak. The worst part: I thought I was doing an amazing job. I felt accomplished and said to myself: You’re really rocking this fasting thing right now. Look at you.

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As one would expect, the body doesn’t happily embrace constant starvation. I would pass out multiple times a day, get lethargic, be unable to focus in school. I was a mess, but a proud mess for pushing through. Now, keep in mind that this wasn’t even about weight loss for me – it was about control, about being good at something, about “winning” the challenge. Only gradually people would tell me that I’d lost some weight. If you’ve ever lost a significant amount, you will agree that the changes aren’t that obvious to you, since you live in your body 24/7. I only really started seeing a difference when I weighed myself 4 weeks in – where I’d already shed about 15 kilos. “This is going great!”, I thought and continued until the end.

Surprisingly, I resumed eating a fairly normal (whatever that meant to teenage me) diet after these 6 weeks, and was able to maintain a healthier weight, only putting 5 kilos back on. It was as if I’d jumpstarted my metabolism. I must say that my relationship with food still was a lot healthier than it is now. I didn’t regard food as my enemy, I wasn’t as pre-occupied. But this is something I’d like to touch on in a later entry, as these are only my first experiences with an ED. I would also love to talk about how it changed my self-confidence, as well as my standing when it comes to gay dating.

If you’ve had a similar experience growing up, I’d love to hear your story and thoughts on mine.

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Mental Health

Stigma

♣ Hello friends, and welcome to my first blog entry.

Let’s talk about mental health and the heavy stigma that is oh-so-commonly placed upon it. I feel that this is a fitting first blog entry for an ED / mental health blog, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

Mental illness is real. So real, in fact, that it translates into the physical realm more often than you’d expect. It manifests in different ways: pressure, nausea, pain, stiffness, heat, cold, rashes, you name it. However, we have zero control over these bodily changes and reactions (and frankly, why would we?). It is thus difficult to make people understand why we’re not “fine”, even if we seem to be. Most of us are masters at coping, at “functioning” on the daily basis. People who don’t suffer from or haven’t experienced mental illness will most likely react as does person B in the following quirky sketch:

 

A: “Listen, there’s something weighing heavy on me. Do you have a minute?”
B: “Sure, what is it?”
A: “I’ve been dealing with (insert mental struggle here) and do not know how to get out of it…”
B: “You look fine!” // “Come on, everyone gets down sometimes..” // “LOL Don’t we all… like omg”
A: “No, you see, I seem okay.. But really, I….”

 

Opening up about one’s mental struggles seems to be a trend in 2018 that too many belittle and roll their eyes at, yet too few seem to truly understand. I get it – it seems staged and people will over-use the terminology for comical purposes (I’m so OCD sometimes, omg).  It makes it harder to get taken seriously when we really need someone to understand.

Some people’s stories might seem exaggerated to you. Even so, whether you deem someone’s struggle real or fake is irrelevant. It matters to them and is very real to them. Just as other things feel more real to you than to me. The truth of the matter is: we’d rather be happy and not talk about it, either – trust me. 

It is disheartening to witness how people get shunned or patronized for sharing their experience with mental illness sometimes. We are not vain for seeing a distorted face or bizarrely shaped body in the mirror, and neither can we “snap out of” crippling depression.

As a community, we need to realise that counselling and therapy are more important than ever, and that self-awareness needs to be preached and promoted. If everyone were a bit more attentive and willing to listen, I think it’d really make a difference – it would allow people to feel validated and heard. Oftentimes, this can already trigger massive positive change.

So if there’s one key takeaway from this, it’s that we should listen more, and jump to conclusions less.

Let me know your thoughts.

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