When you’ve grown up, like I have, being told over and over by society that “you are not wanted here”, every day spent on this planet alive is not only a struggle but an act of rebellion. Rationally speaking, the world would like nothing more than for all depressed people to shoot themselves already. We are a draining of resources, we “take” more than we “give” as a result of either poor performance at work or sheer incapacity to work at all. And we are an inexhaustible source of “negativity”, that modern virus so poisonous to positive attitude. I am not exaggerating when I say this: I have read accounts by remarkably mediocre “specialists” (of one kind or another) that “negative” people should be eliminated. Perhaps not in a “literal” sense, but the intentions are there. We are clearly unwanted.
The problem starts when you reply to society that our depression is not some kind of fashion accessory that we happen to be wearing at the moment because it makes us look cool and edgy. It is an illness, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it may be caused by society itself. That’s right. Our “condition” could be a consequence of the state society is in. We are, in a way, the “casualties” of a system purposefully designed to make nobody happy.


A quick warning: this post is going to discuss compulsive eating, self harm and alcohol. Please be careful if these topics are triggers for you.

I wanted to post about something that seems to be happening to me at the moment – namely, that my compulsive overeating is getting a lot worse, I’m drinking too much, and I’m considering self harming again. All of this has happened more and more since I’ve been seeing a new psychotherapist privately. We started working together in January.

The therapist, Diane, and my NHS psychiatrist thinks that what I am going through is a direct result of  the work I’ve been doing with her. As if working through deep and difficult problems leaves a psychological rawness or exposed part of my mind that I’m trying to push down and keep away with food.

I don’t know if this is correct. Diane has stated that she wholeheartedly believes I can and will get better and stop having to use food to alter my mood. At the moment, my eating resembles something frantic, where I feel so trapped and on edge that I have to eat to calm down. Booze works better to calm me, obviously, as it’s a depressant, but I can’t drink at work so I use food instead.

That also might imply that I have some kind of control over it. I don’t. When I need to eat it’s like a tidal wave. I just can’t help but give in to it. It’s like a voice in my head telling my body to do things as my mind watches helplessly.

So, my questions are two:

1) Has this happened to you – have you ever gotten much worse in therapy before a breakthrough/getting better?

2) Have you, or anyone you know, ever fully recovered from an eating disorder (especially compulsive eating)?

Perfect Body

I’m feeling kind of lousy tonight, so I thought I’d write something and see if I can sleep afterwards. Damn heat.

So, one of the things that doesn’t really get mentioned with OCD is what I, in my head, call bodily compulsions or tics.
You may or may not know that OCD is quite strongly linked to Tourette’s syndrome – in fact, it’s comorbid, which means OCD often occurs in people with Tourette’s, and folks with OCD can experience tics.
The trouble is knowing what’s compulsions and what are actual tics.

As far as my own experience goes, I think I have both.
The bodily compulsion I’m struggligh with at the moment is one where I feel like I have to engage my lower abdominal muscles until it feels ‘just right’. This isn’t simple (if it sounded so) – it inevtably involves a lot of pushing and flexing of muscles until, for a few seconds, I feel like some insubstantial equilibrium has been satisfied. The argh inducing thing about this compulsion is that it occurs a hundredfold more when I’m walking. Walking is pretty much my favourite exercise, but I feel like I have to do it perfectly – to move in such a way that I’m getting a good workout and strengthening myself and building stamina at the same time. This is all so intertwined that I don’t really know how to explain it. The short version is that before I was diagnosed, my first term away from home at university, I developed an eating disorder without realising, which was accompanied by what I believe is called exercise bulimia. Which means I obsessed about exercising as well as restricting my food, and pushed myself physically to the point where I was convinced I was going to faint most of the time I walked anywhere. I also probably got anaemic and my periods stopped for 2 years! Fun times, kids! So, the upshot of that part of my life (and, probably, my obsessive brain in general) is that I can’t exercise without becoming all obsessed and unhealthy about it.

Where was I? Yeah, bodily compulsions. Interestingly, a friend with OCD similar to mine texted me recently to say her physical compulsions were driving her crazy. I reassured her – I’ve been there, it’s horrible. I spend so much time when I’m walking trying to suck in my stomach the perfect amount that I worry I’ll cause myself damage (health anxiety there, hmm). However, probably the most hellish body compulsion I’ve had is my breathing/reading tic. I don’t remember when it started, but since sometime in my teens I’ve had a strange tic that means I expel air through my nose in short bursts until – you guessed it – it feels right. I feel like a wierd snuffling pig when I do this, it’s….not attractive. At some point in the last 5 years this morphed and joined itself to a tic that occurs when I read. Now, I get stuck on certain words that I perceive I haven’t pronounced correctly in my head, or with the right intonation, or with enough characterisation, and at the same time I’m going over and over this word or phrase, I’m doing my wierd breathing. This seriously gets so bad I hyperventilate. I feel so dizzy I can’t keep reading (trust me, I know how ludicrous this sounds).
The truly sucky part of this is that I *love* reading. I’ve read voraciously since I was a child, and it used to happen so easily – whole words would just appear in my head, it was effortless. Now, it’s a chore to read, and I am apprehensive to read fiction, which is where the tic gets worst since there’s so much speech that has to be pronouced and ‘acted’ just right in my head. I think this is one of the things into which I most resent OCD’s intrusion. It was so much a part of me. I’m trying to get that back, and right now reading a book in a fortnight feels impressive to me, which believe it or not is better than the last couple of years have been.

As far as true tics go, I think I have a blinking one where I squeeze my eyes shut or blink hard/ too much for no reason. People have noticed this, which is really quite embarrassing.

Well, that’s it for now. I suspect I’ll go into the story of my eating disorder another time. Hopefully this post will do its small part in making information about bodily compulsions more available. This is just my experience, I know at least 2 other women with similar or identical tics. It’s all part of the package, don’t worry, potential OCD reader!

Beyond Panic

I’m in the final 9 days of my final year of my degree. Just typing that is terrifying.

I have 3.5 thousand words to write for thursday evening and only scattered notes so far to show for it.

I have a final year project due on the 29th for which I’ve done little since January.

I am beyond panic. I can’t believe this is possible, but I’ve actually come out the other side of  panic and landed in numbness, where I *know* how important all this is, but I can’t think about it, or feel the terrible urgency as immediately as I should, like some wierd self-preservation thing my mind has in place for horribly overwhelming situations. I’m through the looking glass here! I have to escape the chessboard defences of my own mind in order to shake myself awake, or some other convoluted metaphor I can’t quite be bothered to follow through.

So, yeah. Panic, but not. Intensity, but somehow not. Terrifying, but strangely calm. Wake up, damnit!

At the beginning of this month I kind of had the right idea. Back then I was so anxious I couldn’t sleep unless I spent a really long time thinking about different ways of working out fractions (I am terrible at maths despite my grandfather being a mathematician, so this takes me ages). Back then whenever I closed my eyes I felt like I needed to find a 24-hour trepanning specialist to release the head pressure.
Now, though, I sleep to much. I take long lie-ins and feel tired during the day.
What the hell is wrong with me?

Like many of us with mental health stuff going on, I’ve failed a lot in the past at things which my peers seem to achieve as a matter of course. I won’t say effortlessly, but…yeah, actually, it seems pretty easy for them to finish degrees, and move out of home, and all that rite-of-passage stuff.
For me, up until at least 2007, my OCD has obstructed a great many of the things I’ve tried to do. I’ve dropped out of uni not once but twice (pre diagnosis), and I’m on the fourth year of this three year course.
Yet I’m still unbalanced. I’m still – and I hate to use the word so close to a deadline – failing. Handing in work late. Missing deadlines altogether. Failing to keep to schedules. But I don’t have the excuse of undiagnosed anxiety disorders this year. I’m on medication, and it’s helping. I’ve been seeing my psychologist for nearly 3 years.

I’m so scared of failing now that, apparently, I can’t even process the whole idea anymore.
I really like to think that we aren’t defined by our failures – that we can learn from mistakes and keep striving towards our goals – but that seems to apply to other people in my thinking, not me.

So, sorry for pouring all this angst onto you, I hope you are all well, and coping.
I’d love to hear from other people at uni/ studying, compare experiences, and maybe once this 9 days is over, compile some information/advice that other ‘mentally interesting’ (with thanks to Seaneen Molloy http://thesecretlifeofamanicdepressive.wordpress.com/ who’se blog is awesome) at uni could use to help them get through these hard bits.

Wish me luck 🙂

Where do I begin, I have so many things swirling around inside my head….Start at the beginning.

Firstly, I would like to apologise for having not posting on here for ages. I wrote a post on my own blog today about yesterday and how it impacted on me. But the self-doubts creep in and eat away at me. Yesterday made me powerless. I had to give my own statement of events regarding one of the G20 protests on the 2nd April to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) and the experience made me feel powerless, vulnerable and exposed.

The feeling of powerlessness was palpable along with a sense of injustice (I attended Workers’ Memorial Day demo after my appointment with the IPCC) which increased listening to people at the rally talk emotionally of a death of a family/friend needlessly in the workplace, due to shoddy health and safety, cuts and sheer negligence. And then the uphill struggle of finding out the truth of why they died.

I sat there and found myself crying. And then I felt stupid because how could I feel upset, upset about my own circumstances, coupled with listening to testimonies of injustice and powerlessness. Brave people. Yet I chastised myself for allowing myself to get upset….about me and about the morning. I felt selfish.

This lies at the heart of my own lack of self-esteem and insecurities I don’t believe I am worth it, I don’t believe I can get upset over me. I minimise my own distress. I amount to little.

There, I said it. I was brought up to believe that others were important, and that I was less important, and that I didn’t have a right to feel depressed, upset or anything. I was constantly told by my parents I wasn’t worth much, and I believed it. I grew up believing everyone else was better, more important and worth so much more than me. If you had to get to heart of my anxiety and depression it is the sense of worthlessness. I amount to nothing.

And yesterday I was overwhelmed by anxiety yet I felt I didn’t deserve to feel upset and again, I find myself comparing others awful experiences in life so therefore I had no right to be consumed by this feeling of vulnerability and powerlessness.

Today I still felt emotionally exposed, I ran for a couple of miles on the treadmill at the gym hoping that would fight the demons inside my head, the endorphin chemical hit dissolving these insecurities, self-doubts andworthlessness. It didn’t. I found myself sobbing in the toilets, feeling so desperate and despondent. The ever prisoner in my own mind searching for an escape.

I kept thinking I can’t be the only person who thinks this about themselves, and yeah, I know I am not. I have met people who mirror similar beliefs about themselves, rather like me, they find it hard to take compliments, see the positives and so on. It is easier to believe the negative. And I can’t see myself in a positive way, people may like me, tell me they like, but it just bounces off my head, it rarely penetrates my psyche. I walk around with a false, disjointed and fractured view of myself, that’s what I have been told but to me it is my reality, it my own ‘truth’.

And I reflect these ‘truths’ to other people, because if I believe it others must do. QED. I have a damaged self-awareness. I assume that other people are better, more intelligent, lovable and likeable than me. My parents did well in drumming that into as it took so many years to realise this as on an unconscious level I had accepted this interpretation. I feel awkward and uncomfortable when people are complimentary and say positive things, that may seem surreal to a lot of people but I do.

When I have experienced rejection, I blame myself and believe it must have been me. It is always me. And that they will find people who are better, lovable, nicer and worthier than me. I can never compete. Again, this pushes me back to childhood, feeling unloved, miserable and invisible. I could never compete.

I know I am not the only person who walks around thinking this about themself. There is so much alienation, isolation and atomisation, people damaged by life and the sheer destructiveness of it all. I sometimes find it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and in the human collective spirit.

The reason I am writing this is escaping from the inescapable (that’s how it feels like), making that dramatic leap where I can kinda maybe like and value myself and rid these distopian and damaging views of myself. Years of counselling scratched the surface. For me, just writing ‘maybe kinda like myself’ is alien and unsettling.

It is easier to believe these things and scarier to pursue an alternative, a more positive approach to my own self. Years of unraveling and healing cruel, inhuman and heartless conditioning.

I know people like me but how do I start to even grapple with idea of liking myself? In others words, how do other people cope?

Sorry if I have gone on…

Food addiction

Long time no writing from me – sorry! Anyway, I wanted to write a little about something that has affected me for as long as I can remember – basically as long as I’ve been depressed, which is as far back as I can recall, and that’s food addiction.

It manifests itself in me feeling desperate to eat food at times when I feel trapped, stressed, bored, ugly, lonely or sad.

I am only really beginning to start analysing myself and how I deal with my problem. I’ve gone through one major hurdle in that now I find myself knowing, as I eat, that I am doing this for a reason – to help me cope with the feelings – and I acknowledge that I am hurting myself by doing it, but also in the short term that I am helping myself and that it is a less damaging way, perhaps, to deal with feelings than some others.

Despite this, however, it makes me unhappy; I’ve always felt too big for my natural body, as if I’m wearing a fat suit made of my anxiety and addiction all the time. I know I need to start taking time out to deal with issues whenever I feel desperate for food. I know I need to start planning my weekly diet a bit better so I’ve got fruit and veg to plough through if it gets bad, as at least that will be nourishing for me as opposed to damaging.

I want to start writing about my addiction, because I find examining it through putting it down in words helps to break up the opacity of it – a lot of the time I feel as if I’m lost whenever I do it – as if I can’t pinpoint what it is that’s making me so upset.  Sometimes low levels of stress causes me to just casually overeat. Sometimes high levels of stress causes me to properly binge. But I would say I overeat most days of the week, some more than others.

It’s not going to be an easy thing to examine, but I feel that I want to start talking about it more. Any other women out there with a similar issue? Write to me in the comments!

Where to go now?

I think we are all in awe of Anji’s last post and for her bravery in sharing her experiences. Hopefully she will feel able to update us all on her situation in the future, but in the meantime are there any issues or experiences that you: our blog readers, would like to share with us, or would be interested in us covering?

So, things were going well & then halfway through last week the withdrawl symptoms kicked in. Sheesh, major waves of dizziness and nausea, despite having carefully cut down on my dose before stopping the pills.

I felt reassured that it was withdrawal symptoms, rather than some fun, new ME symptoms, due to the previous comments on here. Plus, some googling revealed hundreds of posts on message boards from people complaining about dizziness & nausea when coming off citalopram.

Ended up having a couple of days off work, as I couldn’t cope with the dizziness on top of my ME, but I’m pleased to say that everything is abating now. Back at work and minimal dizziness.

I have been waking up at about 3am every morning this week, which I suspect is another symptom of my body adjusting to coming off the pills, but I’ll re-instate my sleep hypnotherapy CD tonight and see if that helps.

Overall, I’m pleased to be off the pills after three years, despite the small hiccups.

A Plea For Help

Thanks everyone for your support on my “coming out” post. I’ve been overwhelmed by the niceness. You guys rock!
Like I said, I am going back to the UK. Yay for me! I’m leaving my parents house (hopefully forever) to become an independent, grown up woman and to make a life for myself! Isn’t it exciting? What an adventure! I’m fricking terrified to death!!!

When one moves somewhere, it’s generally useful to have somewhere to move to. So here it is.

I need help in finding somewhere to live.

I thought I had nothing to lose by asking you, kind readers, for some help. This is not something easy for me to do. It’s one of the reasons why this post has taken so long. The last time I was in a similar situation and asked for help from people whom I thought cared about me, I found indifference. In the end, I discovered that help can come from the people you least expect. Which is why I’m giving this a try.

I was thinking on moving around London, but it’s not written in stone. On the plus side, I will have a higher chance of finding a job, I’ll be closer to the airport (kind of important if something happens and I need to run away; also convenient for visiting parents), and I’ll be where everything seems to happen. On the other side… well…, London is, after all, a city, and I’m a creature of the wild. If it were up to me, I would live in a little cabin in the middle of the woods. (Though with internet connection).

I can only afford a room in some flatshare / houseshare. Ideally, I would be sharing the place with a bunch of feminists working to bring the Feminist Revolution. The second best scenario would be sharing the flat / house with nice people, but living somewhere close to a bunch of feminists working to bring the Feminist Revolution.

I’m already trying the “traditional” intertube approach of placing an ad in Spareroom (and others) and contacting people that way. But it’s particularly difficult when you are living abroad. And besides, I would much rather share a place with people I have something in common with.
I have some savings but I’m not rich, so rent price has to be, ehm, moderate.
I’m not picky. Really I’m not. I know things are gonna be tough for me when I arrive, that’s OK.


If you know of someone around London with a room to rent out…
If you know of someone somewhere else in the UK with a room AND a job…
I you’ve heard something from someone…
If you have any advice for me…
If you have any words of support…

Please contact me, either through comment or mail at:
beyondfeminism at gmail dot com (without spaces)

(I know these are difficult times; that we are in a recession and all. But I am not happy where I am right now, and I really need to leave, like, a year ago. If I could wait until things got better, I would. At worst, I can always come back.)

(Cross-posted on my blog)

Coming off the pills…

Photo by Mr La Rue

Photo by Mr La Rue

So, after nearly three years I am currently coming off my anti-depressants. I was on 20mg a day of Citalopram and lucky that I had no noticeable side effects.

Using anti-depressants is a very personal choice and it turned out to be the right one for me. However, it wasn’t an easy to start using them as it meant finally admitting that I was depressed and that I couldn’t cope.  I went through a phase of bursting into tears several times a day, including at work and this is why I chose pills. I needed to stabilise myself so that I could start dealing with my depression and work out what other help I needed.

I been to three different counsellors alongside using the anti-depressants, the most successful counselling treatment being the cognitive behavioural therapy I received in early 2008. The general advice from GPs about coming off anti-depressants seems to be that you should only come off them once you’ve felt okay for 6 months and then to cut down to a pill every other day, then one every two days etc.

I had 3 weeks off work before Xmas with my ME/CFS and IBS which was frustrating, but didn’t put me into a bad place mentally so I decided I was ready to start cutting down the pills. I’ve been cutting them down for the last month or so and I’m currently taking one pill every three days, so another couple of weeks and I’ll stop altogether.

The hardest part of coming off the anti-depressants is trying to decide what is “normal” for me. Before my depression I would very rarely get upset or cry because I tended to push all my feelings deep down inside. Now I’m double-guessing myself and thinking “am I upset because I’m coming off the pills?” The answer seems to be no, mainly when I’ve got upset the last few months it’s been about things that most people would find upsetting, and I generally deal with them sensibly and quickly. So, I still need to work on accepting and recognising my feelings and then working through them but overall I’m very happy with my progress and that I’m doing the right thing for me.