autism · journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

To the Person Who May Have an Eating Disorder

Hello. You might know me, or you might not. Either way, I want to talk to you about eating disorders. You may have one, you may not have one, you may know somebody who does…

I want to let you know about a time in my life where my eating disorder was at it’s worse. It was May 2014. I had just turned 17 years old. I was fainting all the time, had many bruises and injuries, and was irritable with almost everyone. My fingernails and nose were blue from lack of oxygen. My potassium, sugar levels and electrolytes were extremely low. My hair was brittle and fell out. My skin was pale and weak. My stomach was distended from lack of food and I was dehydrated. My mental health was lower than low. I sat alone at college because I was too caught up in my own little world to socialise with anyone. I spent all day nearly fainting or sleeping because I simply had no energy. I refused to eat anything for weeks at a time because the fear of food was too intense. I lost 7lb that week in  may 2014, and weighed 4 stone lighter than I do now…

It was then that I started to notice that my relationship with food was not normal. I realised that I wasn’t just hungry for food. I was starving before I ever refused a meal. I was starving for perfection. I was starving for a perfect body, for a flat stomach, for a thigh gap, to look beautiful, and to feel happier. I was starving for something that didn’t really exist. I didn’t really believe that I could ever get Anorexia Nervosa, but I did…

It took me a long time to truly understand recovery. Recovery started with many nights of tears, frustration and the pure refusal to eat a thing in the fear of gaining weight. Recovery started with many hours of re-feeding and the horrible symptoms that came with it. Recovery started with fear and anger at all those who forced me to get better. As the months went on and my body shape began to change, the self-hatred grew and the self-confidence decreased. With recovery came hatred. With recovery came depression. With recovery came anxiety. Recovery gave me freedom to eat food that I wanted. Recovery gave me the ability to eat without truly thinking about it. Recovery silenced Ana’s voices – for a while. But recovery brought weight gain…and it brought confusion.

Recovery is often beautiful, however, so don’t let this put you off. Relapse is torture, but one thing I know for certain is that battling with both is hell. Darkness, like light, often leaks in through cracks. Recovery has never been one easy happy path. Recovery has had many more bad days than good. Recovery often leads to relapse, and thats perfectly okay. Relapse is inevitable.

I know that an eating disorder is not easy. It’s not easy when everyone tells you that you are what you eat or what you weigh or that you’re only as good as your calorie count or the number on your social media. It’s not easy when people talk about how they’re having a ‘bad’ food day or that they need to run off the chocolate cake they had. It’s not easy when people go on diets, or cut out food groups like carbs or suddenly develop dietary requirements. It’s not easy when people comment on the weight they’ve lost or tell you they’re on a diet. It’s not easy when the calorie information to food is right there in front of you, or the temptation of throwing everything back up is nagging at your head.  The world revolves around numbers. The truths below are listen in numbers, but they are numbers to be followed. Please listen.

  1. You have a voice – I know your eating disorder seems to be in control and it takes up every single minute of the day. The truth is however is that your eating disorder does not control you at all. You are a person and you have a wonderful voice hiding in that body of yours.
  2. You’re not defined by your eating disorder – I know that eating disorders can become some sort of protection, but your identity and who you are is totally detached from your eating disorder. Your eating disorder is an illness you have, not what has you.
  3. You’re really not crazy, I promise – I know all the voices – especially Ana’s voice – in your head make you feel like you’re crazy and you wish sometimes that they would just stop, but you’re not crazy. I know you’re not. You’re hungry…your body is looking for food, but your mind is hungry for life and purpose.

You may know me, or you might not. Either way, please listen and know you’re never alone.

I love you and I wish you the best.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Why I Became ‘Open’…

I haven’t blogged much this month and there’s a reason for that, but I am always so grateful to have the opportunity to encourage and inspire others who are struggling and to take up so many opportunities to change society. That is why I want to talk about the reason I first became ‘open’ about my mental health problems.

In 2015, I began working with the charity Fixers. Previous to this, I was completely closed up and private about my mental health problems. Around 2005 I started experiences more anxiety that affected my daily life. I became more withdrawn from friends, took comfort in being by myself and avoided anything that made me anxious. For years I kept my feelings and my thoughts hidden in fear that there was something wrong with me or that people would think I was ‘crazy’. It wasn’t until 2009 that my family found out there was something wrong when my self harm became apparent. However, that was only the icing on the cake and the majority of my thoughts and feelings continued to  be kept guarded. A few weeks of therapy and everything was done and dusted.

So why did I decide to open up about my mental health?

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I was forced. Now the word ‘forced’ doesn’t necessary need to be seen as bad. Yes, I was forced to open up about my problems because I had no other choice but opening up did bring some good things. As most people know, in 2013 I developed Anorexia Nervosa that was discovered in late August/early September of 2014 when I was unable to function or even exercise, and refused to eat or drink. As each year went on, my mental health problems got worse and more and more problems developed. It became increasingly difficult to keep everything hidden. Self harm intensified, my body image worsened, my Depression began to turn suicidal, and my Anxiety increased so much I was having panic attacks everyday that were hours in length. It was impossible to hide the fact that I wasn’t okay. In 2014, I began treatment for Anxiety and Depression and was referred to CAMHS after a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa. Like a lot of young people in Wales, I was failed by the NHS’s mental health service.

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In 2015, I found fixers and met with my YPC Jenny who was amazing from day 1. I had a mission to prevent other young people going through what I had gone through. I wanted society to change. I wanted educational settings like colleges (who failed to help me or spot the signs) to become more aware of mental health and mental illness and I wanted the government to listen. I wanted the stigma to end. I began a journey of self-discovery and eventually made my film ‘Anxiety & Me’ which has been shown in schools and educational settings as well as being featured in the South Wales Argus and on ITV Wales. From there, I began talking about mental health disorders in order to help others struggling and to spread awareness and understanding to those who were oblivious.

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Opening up about your mental illness is said to be the first step in acceptable and recovery. Talking about mental health problems not only makes you feel a lot less stressed and relaxed but also encourages others to talk about mental health which in turn reduces the stigma.

Life is not easy, and God forbid it never will be, but being open in relation to my mental health problems did bring a lot of good, despite the bad.

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Turning Love into Life

It’s very easy to lose touch with reality sometimes, or be totally unaware of everything that goes on around you. The exhaustion I’ve felt over the past couple of weeks is indescribable. I’ve been physically and emotionally drained, not even wanting to leave my bed. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but things have been difficult.

To get out of bed, to get dressed and to even leave my room has been such a big task, and a lot of people who have gone through mental illness will understand what I mean by this. But today, I feel slightly proud of myself. I got out of bed, got dressed and actually made it church. Despite all the anxiety, all the emotion and extreme exhaustion, I sat in that theatre and absorbed every single word our pastor said. It was all about being the greatest person you could be. That instead of feeling bitter inside when someone else’s life is going great, you feel happy for them and work on being the best you can possibly be.

I’m not the strongest person in the world, or the most considerate, or the most open minded. I’m not good at social situations, or people in general, and this stops me from doing so many things. I’m not the greatest person in the world, but I’m the greatest me I can be right now.

Life with mental illness is incredibly hard. It seems as though everyone around you is going on with their lives and you’re there in your own little bubble – totally ignored, isolated and confused. Confused on how you ended up this way or how you just can’t seem to grasp life like everybody else does. How are they so happy? That’s what you think.

My church are happy. As a community, they are happy. They are giving. They are strong. They have hope in every single person, and for that I am so grateful.

I hope I am able to someday put love into life and create something for myself that will not only benefit me but will benefit so many other people around me.

One day at a time.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Dealing with a diagnosis of Endogenous Depression

I’d like to talk about the diagnosis of Endogenous Depression, a type of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Endogenous Depression used to be a distinct disorder but it’s rarely diagnosed these days. In 2014, I became one of the small number of people with a new diagnosis of this mood disorder. It can be difficult to find information on a disorder that is no longer diagnosed as frequently as before and it took me a long while to grasp the diagnosis of Endogenous Depression. Growing up, I thought there was only one type of Depression so when the doctor went and inserted some strange sounding word in front of it I sat there in absolute shock. He didn’t explain – actually, although I was diagnosed with the disorder in November 2014, I wasn’t aware of the actual diagnosis until the summer of 2015.

Endogenous Depression has no apparent triggers or causes. It usually occurs for no reason at all and is said to be caused by genetic and biological factors. Symptoms usually start to occur for no reason at all but these symptoms are very similar to other depressive disorders. Common symptoms of Endogenous Depression include:

  • persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable
  • fatigue
  • lack of motivation
  • trouble concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • social isolation
  • thoughts of suicide
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • loss of appetite or overeating

These symptoms are usually treated through a combination of medication and therapy. Medications to treat Endogenous Depression usually include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) or Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). Examples of these types of medication include citalopram, prozac, paxil and duloxetine. Sometimes, TCA’s can be used for the treatment of Endogenous Depression. However, side effects of TCA’s are usually more severe and so other medications are usually used beforehand.

Therapies for Endogenous Depression include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy. Electro convulsive Therapy is also another option if medication and therapy does not improve the condition.

If you have a diagnosis of Endgenous Depression, would like more information or feel you may have a diagnosis of the disorder, please feel free to email me at:

savannahaliciax@gmail.com

Mat

 

journey to recovery · mental health · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Who am I?

Hello smilers!

My name is Savannah Lloyd. I am 18 years old and from a small village in South Wales. I am currently living life in Oxford thanks to being at Oxford Brookes university!

I have set up this blog to share my personal experiences with mental health, to educate others on all types of mental health problems, to be a mental health advocate and campaigner as well as a youtuber, blogger and author (Smiling Through Recovery is available via Amazon)

I was born on May the 31st 1997, one of the hottest days of the year. I grew up in a loving family with lots of pets and loved exploring outdoors. I loved building tree houses, clambering through the woods and streams as well as paying a close attention to the environment around me and the animals that inhabited it.

Unfortunately, when I was 8 years old, I become very aware of the situations and people around me. I become very shy and reserved, never spoke up in class and had few friends. I got on with everyone around me but found it difficult in social interactions. I began to get bullied for being different in my final year of primary school and this continued through comprehensive school.

At 12 years, I made my first suicide attempt after weeks of physical and emotional bullying. I kept these suicidal feelings to myself and didn’t open up about it for years. I began self harming, developed depression and anxiety (unknown to me at the time) and completely went down hill in school. I began getting distracted in lessons and school didn’t feel like a safe place to be. At 13 years old, I started counselling for self-harming but found that the sessions did no help.

During my time at comprehensive school I suffered with several undiagnosed mental health issues and eventually took a turn for the worse at 15 years old (August 2013). I was fed up of getting bullied, struggled to accept myself, had a very low self-esteem and lack of confidence and could barely look at myself in the mirror. I self-harmed on a weekly basis and often had suicidal thoughts.

10 months later in June 2014, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. I had lost  over 25.4 kg (4 stone) in a 10 month period, had black outs and dizzy spells, bruised easy, had pale skin and could barely stand. I hated eating and barely drank. In November 2014, I was also diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and Endogenous Depression. It is still unknown (though I have many traits) whether or not I have a diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder.

Since my diagnoses, I have come so far yet so little. I have recovered, I have relapsed, I have struggled, I have lived. Mental Illness is not easy. Recovery is so hard, and relapse is always so tempting. However, my mental health problems have given me a great deal of knowledge, a great deal of empathy and passion to fix stigma associated to mental health. Therefore, I am a mental health campaigner, blogger and author and continue every day to end stigma associated to mental health.

Through this blog, I hope to share both my positive and negative experiences in order to highlight the realism of mental health problems and the impact it has on people’s lives.

Smile through recovery, always.

I love you

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