Word For Wednesday (W4W) #66


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Play along here!

This week’s word is:

Denial.

Ireland has a truly woeful approach to mental health. Our Health Minister admitted that €12million, originally earmarked for mental health services, was going to be reallocated. I think that in itself speaks volumes about how our government values its society’s mental health.

In Ireland, 500 people are estimated to die by suicide each year, meaning we can reasonably suspect the number is even higher. We are getting better as a society when it comes to talking about suicide and depression. But not enough, in my opinion.

Here is my denial story…

I was 17 when I sat on my bed one night, wrote goodbye letters to all my family members and took an overdose of paracetamol. I remember lying there crying, feeling only utter despair. After a while I heard my big sister come in from her work. She worked shifts and it was very late. I felt a sudden need to reverse my decision and went downstairs in my nightie and told her what I had done. She took me to the A&E where I was given a dreadful emetic and a revolting charcoal cocktail to drink.  I remember The Beautiful South were playing on the radio. Then I remember being left in a ward of adults, my lips stained black from the charcoal, dreading the next day.

I remained in hospital for a number of days while they did tests to see if the paracetamol had damaged my liver. A stern doctor and a group of medical students stood around my bed, discussing me as if I was invisible to them, handing around my suicide letters. I felt completely violated, vulnerable and pretty furious but I was a good girl, I said nothing.

My parents came and wanted to know why I had done this terrible thing. I had no words to explain it to them. I remember fleeing to the bathroom to escape their questions. They followed me and, feeling helpless and cornered I remember crying and actually stamping my feet in frustration. My father said I was acting like a child. My mother told him I was frightened.

My father was the one who came to bring me home. He was faux cheerful and insisted on taking me to a large supermarket on the way home. He told me to choose whatever fancy foods I wanted. I could not have cared less and he grew frustrated with me. He actually seemed to think a treat would fix me.

My suicide attempt was never discussed.

My father seemed to think I was “on drugs” and would occasionally ask me to promise not to “take drugs again”.

I was never offered therapy. Life went on.

I never told them the real reason I took the overdose.

(Sidenote: My mother died when I was 20 and the morning after her death my father found me downstairs very early because I could not sleep. He sighed with more frustration, I felt as if my grief was an inconvenience to him, my neediness was the last thing he needed. I had a packet of herbal remedy for sleeplessness, Valerian, next to me and he said, “You’re not taking drugs again are you?”)

Denial. My family excelled at it.

If someone you know is feeling suicidal, or you suspect they are, please do not ignore it.

Be brave. Talk to them. Ask them how they are feeling. Ask them if they feel a desire to hurt themselves or to not be here anymore.

Give them the gift of allowing them to say it. Give them space to talk about how they feel, what they need.

Understand they are in more pain than they can express. They need support.

Don’t judge them. Don’t admonish them. Don’t blame them. Don’t shame them.

Don’t bury your head.

Don’t be my father.

Denial – it ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Copyright, 2016, k1kat.com

All rights reserved.

A New Year!


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Yes… I know we have been living in 2016 for eleven days now but, for me, today is my January 1st!

I have been reflecting and it occurred to me that I took last year ‘off’. Allow me to explain…

I used to be an incredibly active and busy person, both physically and mentally. The OH used to say he was in awe of my energy, dedication and self discipline. I ate well, exercised, worked hard, walked daily and had projects to keep me busy – In short, I was rarely still.

But last year I stopped.

I gave up exercise and hardly moved beyond what was strictly necessary. I ate whatever crap I wanted, reintroducing unhealthy and nutritionally empty foods such as crisps and chips. I drank way too much wine and nowhere near enough water. I lost any sense of daily routine and wasted hours online, achieving very little.

No wonder I spent so much of last year in a slump emotionally… I was bored, I felt useless and therefore felt worthless, which in turn only served to make me feel that I didn’t deserve to take better care of myself. I was caught in a vicious cycle of self destruction.

This morning I left the house to buy bread. I returned with a new pair of trainers, a Shock Absorber sports bra, a set of work out gear and a supply of vitamins.

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I am not sure what changed in my head, but something sure did! I felt that I was worth the investment my new purchases symbolised. I wanted to buy new work out gear that I will feel good in so that I will actually want to work out again.

I am going to make a list of things I must do daily or weekly; small things that will hopefully add up to boost my sense of self worth and result in me changing my cycle of self destruction into one of self care.

  • Be up and dressed by 9am at the very latest every weekday.
  • Always use a body lotion all over after showering. Take the time to massage the cream in and notice the changes in my skin.
  • Move daily. Get out for 30 minutes minimum every day , unless I am ill.
  • Exercise at least three times a week – dance workout, elliptical trainer, weights, calisthenics – doesn’t matter which, just do it!
  • Eat well.
  • Drink water.
  • Take my vitamins every day.
  • Praise myself once a day for something.
  • Be creative – write, craft, garden, learn to knit.
  • Learn to challenge and silence that inner critic that shouts so loudly in my head.
  • Stop beating  myself up.
  • Give myself credit where it is due.
  • Rediscover the pleasure and pride I used to take from keeping a clean tidy and welcoming home.
  • Take more photographs – this could be part of my 30 minutes a day outdoor time.
  • Treat myself to a once a week home spa hour – face mask, body scrub, mani/pedi.
  • Read more – go to bed earlier and enjoy that stack of books beside the bed!
  • Have some time every day with no TV/Internet.
  • Take naps.
  • Be kinder to myself. Ease up on the expectations.

That’s quite a list!

I truly hope I can find it within me to put these ideas into practice and, hopefully, this time next year I will be fitter, healthier, happier and at peace within myself.

Wish me luck?

Ciao!

💋

Copyright, 2016, k1kat.com

All rights reserved.

A Sincere Thank You


This day last week I wrote a very difficult and painfully honest post about my battle with body image and self acceptance.

I feared at the time that I would receive a backlash and that people would read it and think I was self absorbed, shallow and vain.

Nevertheless, I posted it because it felt important on a personal level to expose my demons. I am still not sure why it felt important, but it did.

I wanted today to post a quick but very sincere thank you to all the people who read it and wrote such kind and supportive comments. I was blown away by the compassion and empathy I was shown.

In addition, I was somehow comforted, (whilst also very much saddened), to discover so many of my readers had similar issues to mine. If nothing else, I hope my sharing my story helped some other people feel less isolated and less ‘freakish’ about the demons they carry and battle with.

Thank you all for being the wonderful, kind and generous people you are!

IMG_9358Hugs all round!

💋

Copyright, 2015, k1kat.com

All rights reserved.

Where I Am Now…


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Trigger warning: This post is about self/body image, eating disorders and depression. Please chose carefully whether to read or not.

Please know this writing reflects MY perceptions about ME and not my views on weight/appearance in general.

I have no intention of hurting or upsetting anyone. This post is about me, for me. 


I can’t do the “self love” thing.

I see positive quotes and affirmations everyday on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter and, although I think they are lovely sentiments, I simply cannot relate to them.

I do quite like myself… insofar as I think I’m a basically good person and I can be funny and smart and creative.

But love myself? No. That’s not a thing I can do.

I have an unhealthy relationship with my body.

I am not sure I was ever happy with it. No wait, that’s not true. As a young teen I was blissfully free of body issues. If anything, I was precociously aware of my sexuality and its power and I enjoyed dressing in a way that raised eyebrows or had some shock value. I could probably have been described as jailbait!

At 19 I settled into what has turned out to be my lifelong relationship. I was a normal, healthy weight for my height of 5′. I had curves in all the right places and was relaxed about diet and exercise. It simply wasn’t an issue.

Somewhere along the way, after getting married at 26, I gained a lot of weight. It happened to both of us, slowly but steadily until, one day, it hit me that I had reached the weight of 144lbs, which was, (for me), too heavy for my short height. I was physically tired from carrying the extra weight and felt bad in and about myself.

It was around this time that I also realised our relationship had been coasting along. We had grown into an “old married couple” that took each other for granted and lived a very ‘unconscious’ shared life.

This was when I entered what I called my “rage years”.

This is when everything changed.

I began to exercise with a furious energy and started to very carefully watch what I ate and drank. Food became a necessary evil… it was fuel I needed in order to function and nothing else. Food became the enemy. It had to be consumed in order to live so I consumed the bare minimum that I needed to exist.

Food was no longer about pleasure or comfort or enjoyment.

I hated, with a burning, raging passion what I had become. It symbolised to me how out of control I had ‘allowed’ my life to become. (In retrospect, it’s clear that, amongst other things, being diagnosed with a life changing and incurable illness must have played a massive part in my sudden need to rest establish control over something.)

I kept a strict daily journal of every single thing that I ate, complete with its calorific content, (which I still have to this day, as a reminder to myself of where I was at that time).

I woke early to exercise before breakfast, then I would walk for miles, return home and exercise again. I pushed myself to the extreme and beyond.

People asked me if I was anorexic and I scoffed at them. Me???? No! I was just being healthy!

I said this whereas, in reality, most days I didn’t reach anywhere near 1000 calories by bedtime, usually taking in between 600-800. Coupled with the intense activity I was doing I can’t imagine what my actual calorie intake was.

My periods stopped for three years.

I had to have bone density scans.

I was constantly cold. I wore jeans and a fleece whilst on holidays in The Canaries for three years in a row.

I had panic attacks at the thoughts of having to eat any food I did not have 100% control over, to the extent that it impacted on family gatherings and events. I recall clearly one day, feeling so incredibly hungry and craving something substantial so badly that I agreed to go for lunch with the OH. I ordered a burrito and, as it arrived, I began to hyperventilate and cry because I wanted it so badly but simultaneously felt completely disgusted at myself for wanting it. He was at a loss for what to do with me.

I reached my lowest weight of 88lbs.

I was always sporting bruises because my hipbones protruded to the extent that they constantly knocked off things. My stomach was concave. The bones of my spine, with no body fat to protect them, made sleeping on my back uncomfortable. Sleeping on my side required a pillow between my legs to prevent my knee bones grinding off each other.

Was I happy?

I never believed I was ‘slim’ enough! I looked at my profile in the mirror and saw my ribs and hipbones standing out but my eyes would wander to the area under my navel. I now know there was NOTHING there but I remember somehow seeing what I called a belly… I had no belly… I had internal organs, a digestive system and a uterus that had to go somewhere and my frame was so tiny I mistook them for a ‘belly’.

It is clear to me now that, although I thought I was exercising some form of self-love by ‘being healthy’, I had in fact simply found a new way to hate myself. I was punishing my body by denying it nourishment, pleasure and rest. Even as I achieved every weight loss goal I aimed for, I was never at peace. I saw an ugly, disgusting person in the mirror. One who would never be good enough.

I was referred to an endocrinologist to investigate my amenorrhea. My GP did her best to convince me I was underweight and in need of more food, “Ease up on yourself Kat, have a snack in the afternoon.”

I am not sure at what point I began to try to stop my rigorous regime. I can honestly say that period of my life is blurry at best. But, scared at the loss of my periods and the prospect of osteoporosis, I did relax my exercising and extreme calorie counting.

Last year I reached a happy weight of 98lbs.

Well, I say happy…

I understood, logically, that for my body to function I needed the extra pounds, but I still struggled with the idea of gaining weight and watched my intake very carefully and still worked out. I was still wearing clothes from H&M kids section. I could still wrap my fingers around my thigh with room to spare as it measured 12″ circumference in my age 11 jeans.

But…

Somewhere along the course of the past year I have… You guessed it…

I have found a NEW way to hate myself, yay!

I have been comfort eating and drinking more wine than I should. I eased up on myself gradually; allowing that extra glass of wine, that lunch out, that afternoon snack.

I noticed some weight creeping on…

My age 11 jeans were no longer comfortable. I, for the first time in years, had to shop in the adult sections and moved up to size 6.  (I can hear the pissed off groans now as people voice their scorn… Yes of course a size 6 is still small… but from my warped perspective I had failed.)

I am currently, in my opinion, carrying too much weight at 128lbs. I feel uncomfortable, unattractive and very unfit. I am breathless and overheated almost all the time.

Most of all I feel that I have let myself down. I feel disgust and shame about it.

I have been torturing myself by looking back at photos of when I was thinner… it is making me feel worse, like even more of a failure.

So… I need to finally address this.

Why do I hate myself?

Why do I find the concept of self-love so alien?

Why do I think I do not deserve inner peace, acceptance and happiness?

My self-hatred is deeply ingrained in me from an early age.

I can trace some of my unhappiness back to my childhood. Hang on, I can trace it all back there…  I never felt comfortable or relaxed as a kid. I toyed with some self-harm as a teen and made an unsuccessful suicide attempt at 17. I just didn’t want to be here.

I had what most people would consider a ‘good’ upbringing. I was never hungry, there was always food on the table, I was sent to very good schools. But there are other things a child needs beyond those.

I suspect I know where this self-hatred originates but to face that feels just too overwhelming.

What am I to do?

Will it ever change?

Do you hate me for writing this?

💋

Copyright, k1kat.com

All rights reserved.

My Demon


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This sums me up.

I have an insanely self-destructive nature. Always have had, for as long as I can remember.

I self-sabotage, self-harm, repeat mistakes whilst fully aware that I am doing so. I drive myself, (and people who care about me), crazy.

I have one massively self-destructive habit in particular that I simply cannot seem to shake off.

My Dark Demon.

I am aware of it; actually, it takes up far too much space in my head every waking, (and frequently dreaming), moment.

I know I need to stop it. I need to confront it and deal with it.

It is detrimental to my health and well-being, emotionally, psychologically and physically.

I have tried to fix this on my own with zero success but I am loath to seek any help from outside.

Why? I do not know.

I tend to think I am a strong person with most aspects of life. I have overcome more than my fair share of adversity and survived.

I generally have this attitude to life:

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But this one thing lingers.

Sits on my shoulders and weighs me down.

I feel unable to find that power within myself. It feels impossible. Hopeless.

I know this week is not the week I will conquer this demon, but I truly hope I’ll get there… sooner rather than later.

💋

Copyright, 2015, k1kat.com
All rights reserved.

Writing this was meant to help me focus and work this out. Seems I have failed at that too!

Fighting Demons


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The wonderful bustythewench posted this image on her twitter feed and it struck a chord with me.

Regular readers of kittykatbitsandbobs will be all too knowledgeable, if not bored to death, about my demons and my ongoing struggle to slay them.

I will admit that they have been gaining strength of late and I am weighed down by the fatigue of fighting them.

What is worse perhaps, is that I am slowly abandoning hope that anything will ever truly change.

I cannot seem to break the patterns of behaviour and thinking that are detrimental to my mental, emotional and physical health.

I am fully aware of what I am doing wrong and yet I continue to do it! What’s the definition of insanity? Oh yes.. thanks Albert!

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Is it laziness stopping me from making changes?

Is it fear?

I am working on working this out…

But to anyone else reading this who is fighting demons, whatever form they take, I wish you strength, perseverance, resilience and most of all, hope.

If all else fails consider this…

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Keep surviving friends.

Ciao.

💋

Copyright, 2015, k1kat.com
All rights reserved.