How to make 2014 your year (For the beautiful Bethany, don't let ANYONE make you feel you have to change)

Monday, 6 January 2014

So, at the end of my last post I mentioned making 2014 a year of positivity, not self loathing and negative outlooks and after sitting at the clinic, watching a lot of daytime telly (we are forced to all sit in the lounge for 4 hours and 15 minutes daily), I feel the need to expand on this comment. Our magazines, telly's, advertisements, social media, email spam, even food packets, are littered with messages that weight loss and pushing your body to its limits are a great plan. Now, I am in no way unanimously blaming societies attitude towards weight for my development of anorexia, but, I do believe that it has had some impact on the state of my mind now and my general adversity to letting go of my thin body. I also think that my initial weight loss would not have been received so positively if the portrayal of the 'ideal' were not so warped. I was super woman, I ate little and when I did it was 'clean and lean', veg, lean meat. I was bloody committed to my exercise regime, many days before school (baring in mind I was studying for my A-Levels), then also after school, doing my intense workout in a trance like state. I took it too far, but let's be honest, is this not the lifestyle that is so often promoted as the root to happiness and prosperity these days? The emphasis on losing weight and changing your lifestyle is only further exacerbated by the New Year. In fact, the most common new year resolution in Europe and the States is to 'drop a few pounds'. Bloody hell, there is so much going on in the world and THAT is at the top of the majority of people's priority list? Now, I cannot pretend that I have never been one who had this particular resolve at the start of a new year, even before the days of anorexia, it was a goal for the start of the year, but now, being constantly assaulted by media telling us to eat right, eat less, burn more, I think the issue has got out of hand. So, after careful thought and consideration (I have a LOT of time for that you know), I have decided that instead of resolving to stop things, lose things, gig up things etc (i.e. negatively focused resolutions), it is a year to be positive. Well, as positive as I possibly can be given the current circumstances. I am not suggesting that this is going to be the end of my pursuit of happiness, that magically, because my resolutions are more positively focused I am suddenly going to be ok with weight gain, happy to eat and all around a little ray of sunshine, in fact, considering the battle I still have ahead of me, I predict that at least for the former part of 2014 I'm gonna be feeling pretty damn shitty, but emphasising and encouraging positivity in my life could make this slightly better, more manageable and all round a more hopeful year. I know it's the 5th and technically I should've formulated more of these ideas prior to today and had my resolutions all drawn up by New Years Eve, but hey. whats the harm in doing it now?

1. Spend more time with friends- the reasons behind this are pretty self explanatory. My friends are awesome and make me happy. Spending time with such people is a boost! Also, in case you have any qualms about being happy alone etc, yes, it is good time to be able to spend some time alone, but studies have shown that us humans tend to feel happier when we are closer connected to our nearest and dearest.

2. Each day, give something to someone- ok, so I'm not talking giving extravagantly wrapped gifts every day of the year because, let's be honest, I'm a 21 year old student! I'm suggesting giving anything, giving thanks, to my mum, friends, loved ones for being so supportive, to my nurses for putting up with my meltdowns, do my therapist for always listening (you get the picture). Or, you could always give something else- give a helping hand, a compliment, some lose change to someone who needs it, a suspended coffee. Basically, it can be anything really. But giving makes kindness a central theme in our lives, which I'm pretty sure will make for a happier life.

3. Get the ball rolling with dragonfly- i'm not sure if I've written about this, but I decided quite a bit of time ago that I wanted to start a charity to help those suffering from Eating Disorders, as well as promoting a healthier body image and self loving not loathing. It's been something I've been looking in to and trying to logistically work out for quite a long time now, and this year i'd like to commit more time to it and make it a priority.

4. Love and look after myself- Need I say more? Don't be expecting me to suddenly be writing about how much I love the changes to my ever growing body. Nor how the numbers going up make me excited and happy. Got on the scales this morning and felt absolutely devastated about the numbers having risen. Out of the 30s now and that feels so unsafe. But there isn't much I can do. I am here under section and they're not gonna let me stop now, so I suppose I've gotta keep going and deal with all the shit the anorexia will abuse me with.

So, that is what I am going to try and do with my year, and hopefully, maybe, this year will be a happier one. Right now, as I run my hand over bumps and curves i'm not too happy about, I am not convinced, but fingers crossed it will be ok and there will be some benefits of all this. And for now, people, try to not make negatively focused resolutions. Bare in mind that as you resolve to lose weight, eat differently, etc, you are not only knocking yourself down, but also encouraging negative body image for those around you. I will leave you all with some statistics about the effects of the unrealistic ideal society promotes. Warning, this is likely to be a theme I continue, but I will end here for now.

54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be deemed 'fat'

81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat

Studies suggest that 74% of 10 year old girls have tried to diet or other measures to lose weight.

So guys, with those 3 horrifying statistics, I will wish you goodnight and ask you all to try not to perpetuate negative body image. Let's make 2014 a positive one!

New Year, New Start

Friday, 3 January 2014

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” 
― Oprah Winfrey

So here we all are, 2014, we made it! It was looking a bit touch and go at points, a year that was most definitely sent to try me. It had moments of greatness, of course, but on the whole, I really have been tested. I'm not entirely sure yet if it was worth it, considering quite how tough it's been, I've had moments of hopelessness, sheer terror, absolute devastation and extreme loneliness. Many of these experiences, in fact, I could argue all, have been of my own making. I am the creator of my own demise, and that, makes it all seem a hell of a lot worse. In 2013 I became far more neglectful of my friends, I let anorexia kill relationships, I broke my own heart, I continued to abuse the hell out of my body, I pushed my family to the limits, I became selfish. All in all, 2013 was not a year I will look back on fondly, nor with pride. I am far more likely to remember it as the year I truly fucked up and came far closer to being the monster that is anorexia. To clarify, I spent far more time in the mind of my Edward Hyde than Dr Jekyll. And you know what, the life of a monster is not a pleasant one, for who can truly love a monster? A monster who despises themselves and is bitter towards the World. Who cries for her broken heart and mourns the life she threw away? Who rips and tares and destroys all that dares to get too close. For such a small person, I am dangerous and far too capable of destruction. I am riddled with regrets and self loathing. But with the new year approaching, I decided it was time for change. I resolved to make this year better than the last. To ensure that things improved, even if only slightly, because quite frankly, I'm not so sure I can battle through another year like 2013. My resolution must not, under any circumstance, follow the path that most do. It will be a success, I am not wishing for a miraculous epiphany, just some progress. Some joy. I hope that in 2014 I will measure myself by my smiles, laughs, my strength and love, not evaluate my worth by the number on the scales. I hope to keep fighting the illness and to show myself and others more love and compassion. I hope to be able to use the time before I restart university to maybe travel a bit, work, catch up on life as much as I can. For I am tired of being the girl left at home, bundled up in my duvet 'cos I am so damn cold, even when the weather outside is warm and humid. I no longer want to be shivering alone in my bed, or left in a hospital ward, I want to be a young woman who is out dancing, laughing, drinking. Who has moments of elation and times of love, but who also has hours of sadness and hardship, for without the shit, how will I know when times are good? I want to be a loyal and supportive friend, not a chore to be pitied and worried over, I want to go out and feel sexy, not fat or emaciated, just enjoy the gentle buzz of confidence that alcohol can create. I started the new year as the Maya of a few years ago would've. I went out and drank too much and had a hell of a good night. And it felt wonderful. Anorexia was quelled for a large part of the evening. But sadly, I woke up the next morning despising myself and manically performing my bodily checks to evaluate the damage the previous nights festivities had done. Was my pubis bone still prominent, did the xylophone of my ribs still include the same number of notes, did my spine still protrude? I am stuck between 2 minds, one that wants to live and the other that wishes to destroy me. The destructor hisses the same resolutions many make at the start of a new year to me…"I will lose weight, eat less, exercise more" The 3 most popular resolutions every year. They haunt me and surround me. Taunting anorexia and tempting the beast with the shiny allure society paints them with. So, the fight goes on, this happy new year and I am committed 100% to ensuring it is the resolutions of Maya, not anorexia, that take pride of place at the forefront of my mind.

Happy new year all- this year resolve to make positive changes that don't continue the cycle of self loathing and misery! Health and happiness, and love of yourself. Even the bits you see as your worst.

As promised, shout out to Finlay, a fellow nutter on the ward!
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