What Does It Feel Like To Let Go of Your Baggage?

I had another incredible session with a client last week.  Within 20 minutes, we gently worked on a past memory from when she was a child.  I didn’t ask her what the memory was, only asked for a title for the memory.  At the end through the tears of joy and shock that she had been released from yet another memory so easily, I asked if she could describe the memory to me, to ensure that she was really OK and that she felt no emotion at all.  She was able to tell me that she had been forced to do a sexual act, with no emotion in her voice whatsoever.  All the fear, all the nausea, all the anger, gone!

Other clients have been deeply upset by bereavements and are just not able to move on.  They are stuck with this overwhelming, never ending grief because they feel it was their fault, they should have done more, they never got to say goodbye and/or they are terrified of forgetting that person.  All natural responses, but have been dealt with quickly during a session.

Beach Coast Sand Calm Coast Explore Relaxation Concept

I worked with a woman who struggled with addiction to alcohol.  We worked on a memory where she was angry with a family member for treating her terribly whilst at the hospital bedside of her husband.  After she had let go of the anger, she was able to see that this person actually treated her with kindness, but due to her own fear surrounding her husband’s condition, she herself had acted unkindly to this person.  With further work, she was able to eliminate further emotions she had held onto around many different past events.  She saw that not everything was as she had previously convinced herself.  She felt much better about herself and the people around her.  She felt more in control and confident.  She was able to stop drinking.

Another client had a poor relationship with her mother and as a result, had stopped seeing her.  Unfortunately this brought even more emotions such as guilt and the constant question of why she couldn’t have had a normal family like others?  She was so focused on her feelings about her mother that she was struggling with her health.  We worked on past memories and her negative beliefs and she was able to let go of her constant focus on the injustice and unfairness of her past, and she was able to focus on the positives of her current life.

These are just a few examples of how letting go of past stuff has helped.  Although letting go can seem quite daunting, it only brings positivity and peace.  It brings more control rather than a lack of it.  And let’s face it, holding on up till now hasn’t been great, has it?

If you are feeling negative about yourself, your past and your current situation.  Now is the time to let it go.  It doesn’t keep you safe, just unhappy.  And you deserve to be happy!

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What Does Normal Eating Look Like?

As someone who had anorexia and bulimia for a long time, I know you can go from obsessively controlling every mouthful you eat, eating using small utensils and taking the smallest bites.  Eating from a certain side of the plate or bowl and slowly making your way your way across, making sure you’re ‘being clean’ at the same time.  To the extremes of eating a huge amount of high calorific food like someone possessed, so fast you’re not thinking about what is being shoved down your throat.  You’ve lost control, and the guilt and fear are overwhelming.

normal-eating

The rules are endless and a sample that I had, just relating to food and eating only, are listed below:

  • drinking at least 2 litres of diet coke each day
  • constantly chewing sugar free gum
  • needing to eat exactly the same thing every day to remain in control and stay safe
  • eating using the same small bowl, plate and cutlery
  • eating from the sides of the plates with a small amount on spoon/fork so it doesn’t feel as much in my mouth
  • taking a small piece of food away from the edge of the plate to keep my food tidy and in one pile
  • cutting up raw vegetables in a certain way, in a certain order, into the tiniest portions, in exact amounts to make the meal last longer
  • eating a weight watchers yoghurt in a certain way, dipping my spoon in a couple of times and shaking off the excess amount, then scraping around the edges of the pot so it is clean
  • needing to tidy up before beginning my meal
  • if I couldn’t use a knife and fork, I’d need to pull food into smaller pieces
  • eating extremely slowly
  • constantly checking calories and fat content
  • need to cook and have control of my daughters’ food (even though I wouldn’t eat it myself)
  • not allowing my daughters to put on their own sauce etc. on their meals
  • leaving the table straight away after eating to clear away plates and wash up
  • putting my daughters’ treats in one cupboard so I don’t see them, even though I still think about them all the time
  • obsessing about my daughters’ meals and snacks
  • hating wasting food and need to eat it just so it doesn’t get thrown away
  • opening one pack of food ie. cereals and needing to finish one before opening another, even if they’re two different types
  • being tortured by too many options – too difficult to decide – the thought to try something is new arises but the safe option always wins

So when you’re going from being on the strictest diet ever, to thinking, “Screw it!” then rebelling and eating everything in sight, it’s pretty difficult to determine what normal eating is.

Did I ever eat ‘normally’?  Did I always eat according to my emotions?  Did I always eat to punish myself?  Did I always restrict to maintain control and cope?  Did I always eat to reward, comfort myself or relieve myself from boredom?

When emotions get in the way, it is extremely difficult to see objectively and clearly.  Normal eating has been described as:

  • eating when you’re hungry
  • stopping when you’re full
  • eating what you truly want and enjoying a variety of foods
  • enjoying every mouthful
  • listening to what your body needs
  • not avoiding food out of fear

woman-enjoying-food

But that is very difficult to follow when you have an eating disorder because firstly, your triggers for feeling hungry and full are totally messed up.  There is a strong sense of guilt and fear while eating so is not a recipe for enjoyment.  Also, your body needs to stay alive and your brain will be trying it’s hardest to make sure that happens.  Your mind is constantly full of thoughts about food because you’re starving and your brain wants to keep you alive!  Yet when you step out of your comfort zone and eat something different, Miss Guilt and Miss Fear come to say hello but Miss Opportunist thinks “Now she’s let down the barriers, I’ll try and get her to eat as much as possible because who knows when it’ll happen again”.

You can always watch and learn the eating patterns of others but it can be difficult to trust them with the voice in your head screaming at you to just not eat.

The only way to see what normal eating is and to feel good about eating normally is get rid of the emotions and beliefs you have about yourself and your eating disorder.  And I know you’re thinking “Yes but normal eating will make me fat”.  No it doesn’t.  If you deal with your negative emotions and beliefs, you will have increased confidence and self esteem, feel positive about yourself, feel good enough as you are, and you will not need to use eating disorders in the way that you have, in order to feel OK and to stay in control.

If you want to learn how, get in touch today.

Sometimes, You Just Need To Go For It!

This week I had an amazing session with one of my clients. I’d only started working with her last week, and just focused on her background /history plus an explanation of how my sessions work. Before she left last week I’d asked her to think about what she wanted to start working on first.
She came into the room this week and said “I’ve been thinking about this all week, and I decided that if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this properly”.  I could see that she was scared, and I could hear it in her voice.  But after checking that she was OK with this, I asked what she wanted to tackle.  “My life went downhill and I’ve been affected by mental health issues since the age of 5, I know what started it and I want to let it go”.
So we gently started working on this hugely traumatic event, I told her that the memory was outside in the car park, it couldn’t hurt her and she was safe.  She described her emotions as being anxious, hurt and angry.  Her stomach was like a “washing machine on spin”, she felt sick and yet she felt a squeezing sensation in her chest.
Within 10 minutes, all these feelings had passed.  She was in tears, she couldn’t believe it.  We brought the memory closer, to just outside the door.  The emotions and feelings returned a little, but working for another 10 minutes meant that she’d let those go too.  She felt nothing.  Tears of happiness and relief again fell from her eyes.
Now she was ready to face this memory head on, the anxiety and the sickness returned but it wasn’t overwhelming.  Again within 10 minutes, she felt absolutely nothing!!  She couldn’t believe what had happened, how she could let go of something so deep, so hurtful in such a short time.  She’d be carrying this for so long, it had affected her whole life.
She looked at me, going from tears of happiness, to clasping her hands over her face and being in shock.  She then shook her body and said “I just feel so loose! I really feel free of this”.
How was she able to do this?  She was committed and motivated enough to try, simple as.  She was still scared, anxious, fearful and worried but she realised that in order to live a different life, to make things different, she needed to face these fears and go for it!

If you’re unhappy and realising that Ana isn’t the best friend that she promised she’d be, get in touch. I can help you kiss her goodbye.

What Actually Is Recovery??

So you know this thing called ‘recovery’ that everyone keeps talking about? That once you get there, everything will be wonderful? You’ll have a million friends who all adore you, there’ll be unicorns in your back garden and gorgeous men will feed you grapes all day J …. Nah I didn’t believe that either.

But I’d spent so long struggling with my ED that I had no idea what normal or recovery looked like or meant? Did it mean I’d have absolutely no issues with my weight or what I ate, and that I’d think I was devastatingly beautiful? No but it meant that I felt far more confident and I realised that my weight didn’t determine my happiness, I did. I was also able to eat healthily but not feel guilty eating previous ‘unsafe’ foods. There was no deprivation so need to binge. I was also able to focus on my body as a whole, it’s strength and ability, rather than just the imperfections that I’d constantly scrutinise.

But I was terrified of recovery because I believed it meant getting fat. For me, even the word ‘healthy’ meant fat. And getting fat was my worst fear.

But recovery is less to do with what we weigh and what we eat, and more to do with how our mind thinks.

The only way to ever feel comfortable with how you look and to even start to appreciate your body is to change how you think and feel about yourself. And that’s not going to come if you continue living your life with Ana.  Let’s face it, you’ve probably been living with her for years, has she helped you become a confident person who is totally happy with life?  No, I thought not.  She didn’t help me in that way either.

Recovery to me, is about:

  • really living my life
  • enjoying a full active life with family, friends, work, social activities
  • not constantly focusing on trying to lose more weight
  • not constantly thinking about food
  • being free of Ana’s voice in my head
  • feeling that I am good enough
  • feeling that I am worthy and have a sense of purpose
  • feeling that I belong
  • being happy and content with me
  • And the above things are reality and things you can achieve.

I used to believe that recovery wasn’t possible for me, that I was too sucked in, that other people managed it, but not me. But I later realised that saying this gave me a good reason for not trying.

I thought that it was too big a battle, too big a fight, and I was already tired and exhausted. At times I wanted to just lie down and give up. Recovery felt like climbing a mountain and such hard work.

But don’t think of it as a huge task. Just take it one step at a time, one day at a time, one hour at a time, whatever it takes. You may fall over, you might take a step back but that’s OK. Take a deep breath, and keep moving forward.

But whatever you want to call ‘recovery’, it feels so much better than how you feel now. And there may be times even years after you’ve recovered, in times of stress where you feel inclined to take control again by restricting. But you are far more aware, and you know that happiness doesn’t lie down that path.

I teach an effective way to deal with the emotions surrounding your ED, the fear and worry of letting go of the your ED and any behaviours, and then strategies to maintain your recovery. So you feel more calm and relaxed every step of the way.

By addressing the root causes of your ED, long term recovery is a reality, and achievable.

If you’re unhappy and realising that Ana isn’t the best friend that she promised she’d be, get in touch. I can help you kiss her goodbye.