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  • Writer's pictureUmi

What's been going on with me recently...

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

A small, messy and ramble-y introduction

Hi all, I hope you're doing well! This post might not be the most up lifting thing you've read today but I suddenly felt the need to explain myself incase this helps someone in any way.

Recently I've been struggling to get my feelings across to my friends and family, which is something I don't usually struggle with, I pride myself on my ability to communicate with people so all of a sudden finding this difficult is something daunting and worrying to me. I feel that after everything I went through in 2016-2019 (check previous posts about mental health battle) I have a huge problem with vulnerability, and I think by doing what I love and writing this out is going to help me, I can already feel the words flowing out of me. I love my friends and although I trust those around me, when it comes to this, it has been incredibly hard for me to structure the words and sentences in order to get my pain across.

It's clear that in the past I struggled with major depression, and within that, I started to emotionally eat. It was hard for me to find something to comfort me in times of loneliness and despair, so back then I turned to food, which now has lead to an unhealthy relationship with my body and what I consume on the daily. Again, I'm not sure what I want out of this post personally, but I know that I needed to talk about it, and now I feel ready. Although I'm nowhere near overcoming this, I think sharing my feelings will bring comfort to someone in knowing they're not crazy or alone. I think this is the first step to helping myself.

What's going on...

If you follow me on instagram, where you probably came here from, then you'll know I preach a lot about women equality, sexism, feminism, dismantling rape culture and normalising our bodies, which recently I haven't been doing a lot of. I've wrestled primarily with body image and food in recent years, but the last few months more than ever, and posting about it started to make me feel like a fraud, although I'm not, you truly never know what someone is going through behind a screen.

I realised my eating patterns are not healthy and I was disguising them in everyday life before lockdown. For example, a Thursday night after school (which is our 'Friday' if you're reading this from the UK) I would come home and if I was due to go out that night I would eat something small because I'd have a distraction to not want to consume anything else, or either binge and go to sleep. The next day was/is usually the day I go out, and since I live quite far from the city, it involves a lot of preparation and travelling, subconsciously I would use this as an excuse to not eat anything, because I simply 'didn't have the time'. It would make me somehow feel more worthy if I didn't eat from Thursday to Saturday, how does that work? I don't know, its strange because I know all of this is wrong, I talk about it and try to get my fellow amazing girls to avoid it, but it's so incredibly difficult to change something so deeply engrained in your brain and its so hard when you're having this battle with yourself.

So essentially before lockdown this is what I did, and it only got worse during lockdown. On school days I wouldn't take any food with me, again, I might not have consciously realised it, but it was an excuse to not eat anything, which would contribute to a smaller body and feeling more worthy...what a mess. This is why I go so hard on my instagram about these things, because recently I've been struggling more than ever, and I want YOU to know that if you have ever made an unsolicited opinion, judgement or joke about someones appearance or body, its not okay, and those things stick for a very long time. I have close friends that have said stupid things, maybe months ago, but those words are the very things to this day that remind me not to eat today, or that i'm taking up too much space, or that I'm unworthy. Words hurt, please don't be one of those people. Even though I'm so sure of myself mentally, don't let people walk all over me and have no problem with cutting them off, physically i'm at a huge war with my own mind, and I bully myself without even realising it. I think I have to work on being at one with myself, instead of two separate beings who are consistently going at each other. I feel like going into quarantine and being alone with myself for so long made my toxic habits surface and it's another mountain I'm learning to get over.

I debated even talking about this for a long time, especially since it's getting worse everyday, but I feel like this is my therapy, and writing this out is helping take a small weight off my shoulder. There are some toxic thoughts of mine I won't share, because I don't want to push or trigger anyone into giving them the same idea, but It's so hard to sit with someone face to face and explain this, especially since this is one of the only things I feel like I don't have control over. Usually I'm so full of knowledge and I can deal with my shit because I get it, I understand it, but this is an on going fight and I haven't fully learnt how to retrieve full authority over it yet. Regardless I just want to say that this is not healthy, this is not cool and if you're suffering from unhealthy eating habits please contact someone that can help you professionally. Don't copy these habits, it's not a fashion trend, which unfortunately social media will make It seem like, but eating disorders are not a trend.

Something else that I struggle to come to terms with is labelling, and I think it's because so many words surrounding mental health are thrown around like they're nothing because of social media. You hear your favourite reality tv stars on the daily throw around sentences like "omg this gives me such anxiety" or "I'm literally going to have a panic attack" which completely invalidates everyone else true feelings, and people who actually suffer from anxiety attacks, this is exactly how I felt when I was struggling with depression.

It took me four long painful and sad years to actually be noticed and a lot of that was not only due to me neglecting my thoughts but teachers and people in positions of power, I was seen as that "lazy, naughty child" at school, which was so frustrating for me. So when I spoke to my therapist a couple of weeks ago and she gave me a cognitive behavioural therapy booklet which read "Overcoming disordered eating" I felt defeated, like I was back to square one. Those feelings creep in a lot everyday, actually they sit with me for hours some days, but I also remind myself of how much I grew as a person from those dark times in 2016, I am NOT back to square one, I am simply human and learning to overcome another struggle in my life.

After this another struggle may occur, and another, but we learn from each obstacle, and although these days are fucking awful for me to even wake up and do something as small as have a bite to eat, I trust that with set backs and a lot of emotions, I will make it out the other side. The thing is, I know what I need to do to make a start, but sometimes it's so damn hard and it's easier to sabotage yourself when you feel so down. One thing I vowed to do is to not get comfortable in my misery, especially after getting a taste of how wonderful life Is when you look after yourself.

Leading on from my feelings of feeling defeated, during lockdown I actually came off my medication, I was taking fluoxetine, an anti-depressant that gave me the Wings to lift my feet off the ground and flourish into the person I am today, but after more conversations with my psychiatrist, she suggested I go back on it OR a drug in the same family that would essentially lessen these toxic eating disorder thoughts. You can only imagine how my day went after that, I felt like utter shit. I felt even more out of control, but I started to remember how those pills gave me a boost, and that I won't always need to depend on them, since that was always a worry for me, ( if you do need to depend on them that's not always a bad thing, I'm sure for some people they have saved lives), but I try to remind myself how they gave me the boost, and I'M the one who gave myself a personality and a loving willingness for life, not the pills.

The past few months

Recent times have been hard, and I guess I'll fill you in on how my days have been going whilst dealing with all of it. I'm sitting in front of my laptop now, still having these awful thoughts. Today I woke up at 3, which usually I try to avoid because it makes me feel so rubbish but this past week I lost the ability to give a shit, which I know I need to change. I woke up at 3, it's now 7;42pm and I haven't had a bite to eat since yesterday. It's so confusing, being so woke about diet culture and knowing how fucked this is, but having this huge fear and urge to create boundaries around food, for example if I eat now I'll try and put it off for hours and hours after that. Last week I had noodles and whilst making them I caught myself making an agreement in my head to starve myself as much as I could for the next two weeks. I don't want to leave my house, because every time I get dressed it's a huge war with myself, I stand infront of the mirror and cry, I create obsessive time structures in order to make myself look presentable otherwise the day will be bad altogether if I don't. It's exhausting, I want to curl into a ball and disappear some days and the past few night's I've spent sobbing because of all these intense obsessive thoughts that are consuming my mind. Every meal time has now become a big deal, and when my friends realise I don't eat in front of them, what do I say?

I feel like the days drag and it's a lot to deal with, the constant obsession is something I don't wish on anyone. I dread going out, and something that should be fun has now been taken over with thoughts about what I'll look like or what I'll have to do when it comes to eating in front of people, or eating at all. It makes me panic, it makes me anxious and It's scary. It's scary because I feel so out of control, and it's something that has been engrained in my mind from a young age, due to bullying and other factors. It's tiring but I think the first step is recognition and having the tools you know can help, even if it's difficult for me to come to terms with the fact I need to take my medication again to help myself, I will do it and I will try my best to do what's necessary.

Also one of the biggest misconceptions for struggling with food is that you have to be skinny, or almost on the verge of dying from being so tiny. No, that's exactly what makes people feel like they can't reach out, this is exactly why I urge everyone to educate themselves on things they might not suffer from themselves, because eating disorders are one of the leading mental health problems in this world, yet the behaviour is normalised into a joke. The 3 most common eating disorders are:

  1. Anorexia Nervosa; the most well known one, resulting in everyones misconceptions about eating disorders. It generally develops during adolescence or young adulthood and tends to effect women more than men, people with this don't necessarily have to be a bag of bones, but they do view themselves as overweight, even if they're very underweight, they constantly monitor their weight and avoid eating certain types of foods, also severely restricting calories.

  2. Bulimia nervosa; Like anorexia, bulimia tends to develop during adolescence and early adulthood and appears to be less common among men than women. People with bulimia frequently eat unusually large amounts of food in a specific period of time. Each binge eating episode usually continues until the person becomes painfully full. During a binge, the person usually feels that they cannot stop eating or control how much they are eating. Binges can happen with any type of food but most commonly occur with foods the individual would normally avoid. Individuals with bulimia then attempt to purge to compensate for the calories consumed and relieve gut discomfort. Common purging behaviours include forced vomiting, fasting, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, and excessive exercise. Symptoms may appear very similar to those of the binge eating or purging subtypes of anorexia nervosa. However, individuals with bulimia usually maintain a relatively normal weight, rather than becoming underweight.

  3. Binge eating disorder; Binge eating is believed to be one of the most common eating disorders, especially in the United States. It typically begins during adolescence and early adulthood, although it can develop later on. Individuals with this disorder have symptoms similar to those of bulimia or the binge eating subtype of anorexia. For instance, they typically eat unusually large amounts of food in relatively short periods of time and feel a lack of control during binges. People with binge eating disorder do not restrict calories or use purging behaviours, such as vomiting or excessive exercise, to compensate for their binges. People with binge eating disorder often have overweight or obesity. This may increase their risk of medical complications linked to excess weight, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Whilst these might sound new or unusual to you (as I used to think), they are real and the consistent pushing of comments about food or bodies or weight on social media doesn't help. Even my friends who say things like "ugh I'm gaining so much weight" or "I better not eat that it'll make me fat" yes, you're making comments about yourself, but you're also pushing the connotation that it's shameful to be bigger than you are, or to not be a perfect illustration of what society creates. Are you surprised about this though? Since i'm so aware about all of this i'm really struggling to go through Instagram without being triggered by someones poor choice of words, and recently I've seen so many ignorant influencers in Qatar (where I live) doing paid promotion for diet houses, receiving meals and promoting weight-loss.

Yes, I know, you can lose weight if you want to, in a healthy way, but again this is just ANOTHER fucking advertisement subconsciously pushing the message that weight-loss is the only way to go and be accepted, that weight-loss is the only important thing, and that this company with their magic meal plans will transform you and all of a sudden you'll be happy, because again, smaller is better right? Well, weight-loss isn't even about health anymore, its about being small to conform into societies idea of beauty. If it was about health, then why is it when a beautiful women with a flat stomach and the medias idea of a "perfect" body posts a picture eating fast food it's completely fine and cute, but if someone in a chubbier body does it's 'disgusting', it's 'less worthy', it's 'unhealthy'...

Please, to the media, miss me with your bullshit, don't say you care about health when really it's another way to make money from preying on impressionable individuals online. It's so incredibly frustrating, fat phobia and eating disorders are created and rooted in sexism and racism, yet men and women who don't even realise and constantly shame people for not looking a certain way keep pushing it. A book I've been reading recently has educated me massively on this and I'll link it at the bottom.

Anyway, I've held back messaging the people who have been promoting these things, because they really do not understand, but thinking of it now I think it's my job to call them out, to stop them triggering other people. By doing this, they're profiting and encouraging large companies to stay in the circle of capitalising from making people feel like there's something wrong with them, because when there's something wrong with you, there is ALWAYS something to buy from them.

Let me ask you this, why don't they promote gaining weight healthily if you're underweight? Wheres the company or diet plans for that? There isn't one, because shaming people for gaining weight, or not having an hour glass body or a small body, which we're taught is the only valid way to live, is completely systematic and discriminated against. Its discrimination shows in clothing companies, advertisements, movies, employment, everywhere. Please wake the fuck up and stop acting like it's not a thing because you may be privileged enough to not have to deal with it.

Together we assume if you don't want to lose weight you're lazy, but it's not the case and it's damaging to think this way. Once upon a time I was in a smaller body than I'm in now, and due to depression I gained weight, but no one ever thinks about why do they? They just proceed with their damaging connotations surrounding peoples appearances. From someone who is really taking a toll from all of this, please STOP. We all need to start educating ourselves on things we don't experience. As a collective we need to understand and do our jobs.

Aside from all of this I decided I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure other young girls don't create this awful image in their head as I have, which I dedicate my page to. It affects my quality of life hugely. I'm pretty sure a lot of people will be shocked after reading this but this is a prime example of why you need to be good to people regardless of what you know about them. Daily life is a challenge right now, although you won't see it, those coffees I post on my story, that pizza or fancy pasta from that restaurant on my feed fuels thoughts of guilty, starvation and unworthiness, it frightens me. I feel awful after eating it, it might have been the first thing I've eaten after a day of restriction, or I may just be stupidly substituting a coffee for my dinner because less is better right? No, it's not. Like I said before it's incredibly frustrating knowing all of this and still being so controlled by these feelings, but I have trust in myself that I won't lose to this challenge in my life and I will fight and learn. So will you.

So, what now?

You may be thinking what now? What's the point of this? Honestly I'm not 100% sure myself, but I think the first step to getting help is realisation of ones self.

I realised recently that when I'm in a phase or when I'm going through something I make a habit of abandoning my creative side, which I think I have always done, when I suffered in that time from 2016 onwards I completely lost my personality and my passion for life, which now is the thing that makes me see everything so beautifully. Although I'm not the girl from back then, I'm still human and came to realise that a lot of things we are made up whether they're toxic or not are somehow embedded in us, and we have to learn to slowly and patiently un pick the thread in where it settles.

I think when I go through something I feel extra vulnerable, and like I said before I grapple with that. After overcoming depression and creating major boundaries in which I cut so many people out of my life, I built this huge wall of strength, and although I know going through challenges in life isn't a sign of weakness, there's something inside me that shuts down when I do. I stop posting or being so brave because when I'm vulnerable i'm open to everyones criticism, and that's also where my best friend 'anxiety' comes in, I somehow manage to create all these things in my head that people "might" be saying about it, even though the probability that anyone is saying anything at all is very low.

When I'm happy and comfortable I don't care what anyone has to say, but isn't it funny that when we're going through something personal all of a sudden those anxious thoughts creep in and make you question everything you stand for? I'm grateful to be so aware, my battle with mental illness made me fortunate enough to take that lesson from it, but it's also incredibly difficult to apply these lessons when you're struggling from something like this.

I know that I'm not the only person going through something like this, and I won't be the last. I also know what I need to do in a step toward recovery, and I'm also aware that recovery is not linear. I need to take it day by take and if you're going through something like this you do too. It's not a joke, it's serious and you owe yourself that validation in order to make a step in a positive direction. I won't sugar coat it, I feel so out of control and so rubbish right now and I know I need help so I'll continue to talk to people who know what they're doing and accept help from my psychiatrist. I might wake up tomorrow and feel worse than I did today, but again it's a phase and I understand why people don't talk about these things whilst going through them, I just felt that I wanted to help make sense of this myself, and help anyone who might need to resonate with someone right now. We are all valid and worthy of change and recovery. Trust in yourself.

Mental health needs more attention. You could be stood next to someone right now who is suffering and you won't have the slightest idea. Pay attention, check on your loved ones daily, people who endure mental health problems don't get an escape, chances are they're in pain and you don't even know it.

You're not crazy and neither am I, we just have to keep going.

All my love, Umi


HopeLine UK

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