Monday, 13 January 2014

"it surprised me, how hard I found it to say those words out loud: 'I'm hungry.'"

So, I'm reading The Ministry of Thin, by Emma Wolf at the moment, and I highly recommend it, it really shows the truth about what we believe as women, and I assume as men (can't be certain about that one...), about our bodies, and about food. I don't just recommend it if you have an eating disorder, or know someone who has, but I recommend it if your a female (or male) living in this society that feels the pressure to be thinner, fatter, different.

I've not actually finished the book, I'm part way through, but what I've read so far I've found myself agreeing with mostly. As a christian there are bits I agree with, but would add on to by saying that it's not just us we have to look after our bodies for, they are Gods. 

But anyway, reading this book, a particular line struck me. Emma was talking to her therapist about suggesting her (Emma) and a friend go out for a meal, and asked Emma what she would say. Emma explains that she felt lost as to what to say! struggling with anorexia and finding eating out difficult, she asked the therapist what she would say, and she said "I'm hungry." The quote that stood out to me was just  after this. It said "it surprised me, how hard I found it to say those words out loud: 'I'm hungry.' "

I'm fairly sure a lot of us can relate to that, especially if you've struggled with an eating disorder. But WHY?! We don't struggle to respond to feelings of danger, senses that this isn't right. (Well some of us do...). But what's the big deal with not being hungry? Why is it so important that we come across as above hunger? Above the need for food? We are humans, humans live off energy, energy comes from food, our bodies tell us we need it, this feeling is called hunger and it is positive because without it we wouldn't know when we needed to eat, and therefore may not eat, and may die. 

I believe, I may be wrong, that the average women will have problems saying "I'm hungry", it may not be that they have a problem with being hungry, but they don't want to be the one to suggest its time to eat. Somehow if someone else suggests it it's OK to do, because it's their hunger, we are just eating because it's the right thing to do, we like to think we could not, if we didn't want to. We like to think we could triumph over our hunger.

Imagine for a minute we triumphed over our fear of danger. Say your at the zoo and they announce a lion has escaped, and everybody should leave. You feel a sense of fear, you know danger is ahead, you know you should leave to avoid something negative. If you said "I will triumph over this sense of danger and stay put" and then you got badly hurt by the lion you'd feel stupid. Your probably thinking, "Lizzi that sounds ridiculous." But think about it, when our tummy rumbles we get embarrassed, we don't want people to know we are hungry. We often say no to that sense, the message from our body telling us what it needs us to do. 

Going a little bit deeper, and I have no idea how this compares to average, but I'm used to people thinking "you just don't get hungry anymore do you?" And I'm used to saying no. It's easier to say no that to say "yes and I am right now but I can't let the hunger win because I'm scared I'll turn into a whale." See how much easier no is? Also, if I let people believe I don't get hungry it's a great excuse not to fight the eating disorder, because I'm just never hungry. Eating disorders do, however, mess with our understanding of hungry, I do get hungry, but very rarely does it register as hunger, it will register as another emotion the majority of the time. So although I am saying yes, we do get hungry, we don't feel hunger in a normal way the majority of the time, and often we don't recognise it. It's there, like an old friend, but you just can't put the name to the face.

We shouldn't need to feel that it's not ok to be hungry. Our bladder tells us when it's full so we can go to the toilet, and similarly our stomach tells us it's empty so we can eat until we are full. But we have got so caught up with emotional and social bits. 

I guess my challenge to myself and to you, is to admit to hunger when you feel it, even if it's just to yourself. If all of you find it easy to say your hungry then it's just me, oh well! But if it's not, share this, talk about it, women and men alike, need to know it's just as OK to say your hungry as it is to say you need the loo. I'm not saying it's easy, I don't find it easy, and having written this doesn't mean I now can do it easy peasy, but why should we live like this?!

For more support for eating disorders, visit Beat's website, they have a helpline. Also, Minds Like Ours cover a range of mental health problems including eating disorders.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Section 136:

What is a section 136? 
A section 136 is used by the police to detain someone under the mental health act for behaviour that is a threat to the self or others, performed in a public place, which is thought to be caused by mental illness.
The detained individual is taken to a place of safety, which should be a mental health wards 136 suite, but can be a police cell or an A&E psych room. 
The detained individual should be transported by ambulance, or if they agree, a police car, if necessary (due to violence) a police van. 
The detained individual can be held for up to 72 hours in the "place of safety" to be assessed by a mental health team, consisting of a Psychiatric doctor and a mental health social worker, who will decide whether the individual should be treated in the community or admitted to a ward, either voluntarily or by section 2 or 3 of the mental health act. 

What kind of thing do people get sectioned for?
Suicidal behaviour e.g. Trying to jump off a bridge or in front of a train, trying to run into a main road, trying to hang yourself in a public place.
Voiced suicidal thoughts and ideation, especially if a plan is formed.
Acting in a way that shows a disconnection from reality e.g. acting towards or speaking to someone or something that isn't there (hallucinations).
Stating that external forces are out to get you or similar (delusions).
And more, but that's all I can think of.

If you are any of these, and not in a public space, police cannot hold you under a section 136 unless they take you to a public place (e.g. Onto a footpath by your house). 
The aim of a section 136 is to help the individual get the help they need, and also to stop mental health services being able to turn people away when they are in crisis. 

Being detained can be a very different experience for people, depending on circumstances and which place of safety your taken too. The first time it can be very scary, especially if you've not been on a psychiatric ward before. Depending on your level of co-operation you may or may not be handcuffed and restrained. You will be searched for any sharp objects, and you should be told that you are being detained, if you aren't sure you can ask. 

A police officer will take your details once you are considered not at risk, such as in their car or in a designated place of safety. Wherever your detained you may be offered some information about a section 136, such as what it is, where you are, what will happen next, and when you are free to go if not earlier, and providing further sectioning isn't taking place.

If your on a ward, nursing staff should be available to talk to, and may offer you food and drink, they should also keep you updated about when a doctor will see you. They will take away your belongings but you may be able to keep your phone, they will keep them safe until you are either released or admitted.

When discharged you should have arranged contact out meet with a mental health professional such as your care co-ordinator or the crisis team. You may also get prescribed medication or given information about different options. 

And for me, the most important thing, was knowing I wasn't alone, I had friends who still cared, I had friends at Minds Like Ours, and most importantly, I had God right by my side.

I may not be able to leave the house today, but I can give you a greater knowledge of something mental health related. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

"If you really want something, you'll get it/you'll do it"

"If you really want something, you'll get it/you'll do it"

This has been a phrase that has been very important to me. I've always felt I must prove I wanted something my getting it or doing it,  if. I didn't, I didn't really want it. 
If I really wanted to self destruct, I'd do it no matter what people said. If I really didn't want to live anymore I'd die and I'd make sure of it. If I really wanted to lose weight, I would do it. To all of these things, if I didn't, then I felt scared someone would accuse me of lying, of not really being who I claim to be or wanting what I claim to want.

But what I've learnt recently, is that I can validly want something, accept that I want it, and not act upon it. That doesn't mean I don't want it, it means I've decided my want is not what is best, not what God wants not what I need. I can want to die, but know that the feeling won't last, and choose not to act on it. I can want to hurt myself, but know there's a better way and choose not to do it. It doesn't make the feeling any less intense, and it doesn't mean I don't want it, it means I'm making a choice to not put my wants first.

This isn't going to be easy, I know that, because for years I've done whatever it is I really want. And now being ill often turns those 'wants' into 'have to's', but I will try, to turn what I want over to God. To know that it's valid to want something and not do it or get it. And I believe it will be more freeing, to know that I'm not as ruled by my selfish desires, but that I can want something and make a choice about it. That will take a while, but it's something I know I need, and I something I'm willing to fight for.

If you have related to this in anyway, whether you believe in god or not, then I ask you to ponder, do you use that phrase for good or do you, like me, use it to justify actions that in reality don't help you and make you well?