Loving My Body More

For years, i have struggled with my body image. Last year I got diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder. As I’m writing this, it’s been a bad day body image wise and the beautiful weather the last few days doesn’t help! Even though I’ve learned to love my body throughout my time in therapy, I still have the odd bad day, but that is totally okay! With it being a bad day, I had an idea to write a post about this topic, as when I first got diagnosed what I did first was google and read many articles, websites and watch many youtube videos on how to love your body, so I thought this would be a good post to write and it may help others which would be amazing.

I remember first struggling with my body image in my school years. I have always seen myself as ugly, weirdly shaped and just not attractive at all. This manifested in many self-damaging behaviors, including self-harm. I had CBT last year, throughout that I learned a fair few things about BDD and my relationship with my body. I learned that how I view my body wasn’t correct and was a distorted view.

In all honesty, when I got told I had BDD, I felt low, it got me feeling so low I had more horrible, intrusive thoughts than ever. But I spoke about it with my doctor and my therapist, after I got a better understanding of it, I was feeling a lot better about it and was confident that CBT would help it – it’s one of the best things for BDD, that and medication, which at the time, I was on both… talk about great timing, eh?! I knew it was going to be a long long road to recovery, and to this day I am still on that road.

The first thing I did on this road to learning to love my body more is to try and limit myself to how many times I can look in the mirror and how long for each time. I was going to completely stop but that wouldn’t be helpful I thought because stopping something I have done for a long time can have negative effects, which I could do without! Atidepressants also kick started me in beating BDD. I heard it was the best thing for me to do, medication and therapy, it helped me in terms of giving me that push in the right direction and is also helping me manage my mental illness’.

I’ve always worn oversized, long clothes to hide my body, so this was the second thing I was aiming to do. Luckily, as I was in therapy and at the time we were focusing on my body views and such, I was getting ready to jet off to sunny, beautiful Tenerife for a week! What a perfect opportunity to fight my safety blanket of covering my body with clothes, because obviously wearing clothes that are big obviously isn’t the best in blistering weather. It went well, I think it was easier because everybody was wearing the same sort of clothes, so my brain thought nobody would notice me, which it was right.. For once. When I landed back onto beautiful british soil, it was sunny (surprisingly) so I carried on what I was doing and looking back, I think this was the thing that had the most impact on me. I can now wear shorts without feeling that anxious (as i am writing this, it’s snowing so no shorts for a while…)

CBT has proved vital in my quest to improve my body image, and obviously there are going to be bad days but with the techniques, i’ve learnt, hopefully, it wont get as bad as it did before CBT, but it’s looking likely that I am going back to 1 to 1 therapy so maybe I will go over the techniques!  If you are reading this and struggle with your body image, please don’t forget that it can and will get better. It may seem like it is never going to happen but just hang in there and keep trying to fight it. There is loads of support out there, such as the bdd foundation (https://bddfoundation.org/) which has tons of resources for people who struggle or for people who want to help other people.

 

 

(so sorry for my recent absence from blogging, I’m working so much in my job and I’ve just had no time to blog, same with reading, hoping to get more posts out in the upcoming weeks x)

CBT: Twentieth Session

This is my first session since being back from holiday, I thought I’d update you with how the holiday was, as it would make this post longer because my session this week wasn’t that in-depth.

The holiday was amazing! The first day or so wasn’t. My anxiety was the worst it has been in weeks. However, I just did many techniques I’ve learnt throughout CBT and I was back to enjoying my holiday! I challenged BDD by wearing shorts every single day on holiday and it was amazing!

This session just consisted of talking about my holiday and talking about what I want to get out of therapy. My therapist thinks I have improved drastically and she said she didn’t think I would have improved as good as I have done in the time I’ve been in CBT.

I’ve stopped SH, I’ve challenged my social anxiety and challenged my negative core beliefs which I thought were true and right, but turns out by challenging them I have learnt they are not true at all! I am so happy with how far I’ve come and high-intensity CBT has honestly changed my life.

My therapist showed me a “maintaining progress log” which we will fill out in the upcoming sessions as basically my own blueprint for my own therapy when I finish CBT. It will help with relapse prevention and if I need to phone anyone or have more therapy then that’ll also be on there. This is the first time since starting therapy that I actually feel that I am getting more ready to finish therapy. It’s not so scary for me anymore.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking back to January. I was in the darkest place, I was honestly worried about my own safety and I had almost no one to speak to about my mental health, 6 months later and I have so many supportive friends and I’m close to finishing CBT. I thought this would never happen, but it has.

Things do get better. Even if they seem near impossible to get better, they can and will.

 

 

CBT: Eighteenth Session

We mainly focused on BDD and my emotions/moods in this session, which I’m really happy about! I have wanted to challenge my BDD for ages but it just wasn’t time and there were other things to challenge, now is the time though and I am ready!

My therapist introduced me to a thought record sheet for my body dysmorphia, I will list all my thoughts about what I feel about my body and what I think others are thinking. I also have to list the situation/trigger which will help my therapist find my triggers and work on them. It also involves rating emotions, this record will help me as I will be able to find what is the worst situation for my BDD and then I can challenge it, slowly but surely.

We went over the negative core beliefs that we did many sessions ago, she asked me if I thought they were still true, because of all the work I’ve done. Many of them I thought were not true anymore, like where I was scared of people seeing me when I have a panic attack, turns out I don’t really look different. There are still a few that I feel I can work on, such as.  “I’m a failure” “I’m not good enough” There were a few more.. but I stupidly left my sheet in my session! Silly me!

I also looked at a worksheet called “wheel of emotions” My therapist gave me that just to reassure me that the feelings/emotions I have are perfectly normal. She also mentioned that my mood swings could just be more obvious as I am now obviously thinking about my moods.

I’m still doing the exposure therapy, it’s going really well and I’m actually feeling proud of myself for the first time in months!

CBT: Sixteenth Session

I have had a fairly good week coming up to this session, things were going to plan, I did exposure therapy once and went out fishing every day, however.. my mood swings have been really bad, like I feel so depressed but half an hour later I’m on some sort of high and enjoying everything? It’s so tiring and frustrating… I know it’s not normal but I don’t know what’s causing it which is even more frustrating!

I also worry about losing my friends and being lonely. I told my therapist all of this, the session didn’t turn out to be like CBT but it was basically a talking session where I just spoke about what I was feeling, sometimes you need sessions like this, it really helps a lot!

My therapist mentioned that the mood swings can be caused by me working on my mental health as doing so can make you really happy or really depressed very often, I didn’t really think about it like that, but she is a therapist and I’m not smart haha!

We went to exposure therapy, she mentioned that I really need to try my hardest doing it more than once, but I am. It’s extremely hard and she knows that and said don’t get down about not being able to do it, easier said than done! I am hoping and praying I’ll do it more than once before my next session.

My therapist mentioned an assessment but didn’t say anything more about it. Truthfully, I want to ask for one as I know something isn’t wrong and I’m pretty sure it’s not to do with my mental illness’ I’ve been diagnosed with. That is just so scary for me, it may seem such a small thing to ask for but I’m honestly so scared of doing it, I hope I am able to ask, I really want to ask. Ugh, why are these things so hard?!

I hope my next session goes well, I’m not feeling confident about CBT at the moment, I’m not sure but all that confidence and hopefulness has just emptied out of me and I can’t find the reason why.

Liam

Why I started blogging #MHAW17

I talked a bit about this in my post this week, social media & mental health. I thought it’d be a good topic to make a stand-alone post for, I’ve wanted to do one for a few weeks, but silly me hasn’t got around to doing it! Pro procrastinator over here.

I started blogging early January this year if I remember correctly, it is the same week I started CBT for the first time. My first post was my introduction to CBT. I started blogging because my therapist mentioned that I should have something where I can just vent, and just write whatever I want. A friend of mine mentioned blogging, I thought it was too late at first because there are many bloggers out there. I then realised I don’t do it for views or whatever I get, I do it for a place to vent, I still do.

I remember spending ages writing my first post and putting it out. It was scary, but it was a good feeling actually writing stuff. It got such a good and lovely response I was honestly shocked. I didn’t expect people to read my posts – I’m not the best writer at all…

I got into blogging real quick, I was doing a post every two days, I had so many things to write about and get off my chest, it really did my mental health good to start blogging and join the community of mental health bloggers. I was writing personal posts just because I wanted to, it was scary, posting about your life on a blog where anyone in the world could see, but it was good to do so, as I said before, it felt good.

I’ve not stopped blogging since I started, and I always tweet, like way too much. I’m so happy I started blogging, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have made so many supportive friends in this community, it really has made me a better person. The community is so positive and supportive and that’s why I love blogging so much, I am happy my friend mentioned blogging to me.

 

CBT: Thirteenth Session

I was really calm before this session, mainly due to the fact I had propranolol (it helped me so much, I was the calmest I had ever been in months, it was absolutely amazing)

After having a pretty good week, meeting a really good friend, challenging my anxiety and going two weeks without any sort of SH, I came into this session really confident, happy and calm.

As usual, like every session, I filled out the GAD-7 PHQ-9 questionnaire. Scores keep slowly coming down! Woooop! This session was mainly filled with body confidence, getting higher self-esteem and things related to this.

We spoke about being on propanolol, I explained how good I felt after having it yesterday, and my therapist said that since I am now on something to take away the physical symptoms of anxiety, now I can challenge in mentally and start beating it and controlling it, which I am so excited to do!

My therapist explained this “Big I, Little I” technique used in CBT. It is a really good technique! You draw a big I and write positive things about yourself, may it be your body, your personality etc. It is something used for BDD at times and just self-esteem improving and such!

We managed to come up with all of this in the session! I am surprised as I felt like I had nothing positive to say about myself, but with just talking about myself to my therapist, we came up with so much! It’s my goal to fill the Big I in before my next session!

(excuse my horrible handwriting and the horrible picture quality!)

I’m trying to be as positive as I can, as I feel like positivity is key when you’re fighting your mental illness’ So, positive positive positive for the next few weeks!!!

Liam

CBT: Twelfth session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

This post was meant to go up yesterday, but I actually went out and socialised! Shock! I had a great time and challenged my anxiety in multiple ways!As I made a list in the previous session, throughout the week I was trying to tick things off, and add things onto it. I found it really motivating to do so.

As I made a list in the previous session, throughout the week I was trying to tick things off, and add things onto it. I found it really motivating to do so.

I filled out the usual GAD-7 PHQ-9 questionnaire. The scores are going down slowly, which is great! We focused the session on what we can do to get the scores down. She mentioned that my depression can go down with doing things, challenging it. Not staying in all day where it’ll get worse and then the self-harm starts again. I’ve only self-harmed once in two weeks! I am beyond happy about this, things are looking so good it’s brilliant I LOVE IT! We also talked about the CBT formula and the cycle of depression, which I am apparently slowly breaking! Woo!

I mentioned how I seem to be so agitated and I tend to just snap at people lately, even my parents and sisters. I seem to snap for some reason. It makes me feel so crap when I just shout at them but I have no reason why I do so. I also explained how I sleep so much and it’s not making me feel any better, so she wants me to set up a schedule, for each week – I had one with my previous therapist but with my relapse of SH and being moved up to higher intensity therapist, I didn’t really stick by it.

The schedule for this week included getting up at 10 am, prevent boredom by doing things I love – reading, blogging, writing, fishing, listening to music etc. Go out with a friend, which I did yesterday and it was the best day for a long time! It also includes me buying a journal which I’ve already done – god I am getting this scheduled one brilliantly!!! I told her about my low self-esteem and how I feel about myself. She then mentioned trying a “positive qualities log” as she explained how people may say nice stuff, but when you’re struggling it just goes over your head and you don’t really take notice. This log should help me with that. I have to write everything people say positive about me, may it be in person, on twitter or anything!

After the schedule idea was explained and it sounded really good, I think it’ll help a lot. We talked more about my irritability, and like my snapping at people. She mentioned a stress ball and asked what I do to chill… I then realised I don’t really do much to chill and that’s where I could be going wrong. I need to chill out more.

I went on to how I feel about my depression getting better, but my anxiety is still really bad. I know that I am going to ask my doctor about propranolol to reduce the physical symptoms but I also need to make my anxiety go down with other things, not just medication. We are hopefully going to look at that soon – if my doctor does give me propranolol that is!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

 

CBT: Eleventh Session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

I went into this session the best I’ve felt in a long time. I only self-harmed once in 7 days. I am so proud of myself for being clean for 7 days. I told my therapist this obviously, and she was so made up and she knew I was going to be so much happier when I start going out more. I went for a meal last Friday, a party on Saturday and wales on Sunday. That is such a big step for me with my social anxiety!

My therapist did say that once I start fighting my anxiety and panic attacks and start going out more, my depression will get slightly better over time and my self-harm should do.. and it is!

We basically just talked about what I did the last week, and what I wanted to. There was no CBT involved really, it was just talking and I love it when the session is like that, it’s ace to get things off my chest! I told her about my blog and volunteering with time to change. I also told her that I’m starting to really have an interest in mental health, however, I’ve not done any a-levels and spent my time in college training to be a chef so my life can only go down one route, but as my therapist said.. there’s always time to change! I can always do a-levels whenever I want to! Or even a counselling course!

She asked me to write a list of things I wanted to do. At first, I listed about 3 things as I was struggling, but we got talked about what I want to do and the list was massive!

The list is:

  • Go out more – challenge my anxiety
  • Start working again
  • Read more – it’s a good distraction for me
  • Going out alone – don’t be afraid to go out by myself
  • Go to London – meet some of my really close friends from twitter!
  • Meetup in July – try and go to a meetup in July.
  • Blog more, and do media for time to change.
  • Host talks – Something I’d love to do, express my passion in mental health and host talks in youth centres, schools etc.

I never realised this until yesterday. It’s good to have a list of goals what you want to do, it keeps me motivated, and whenever I feel low, all I have to do is look at the list to get motivated to feel better.

I’d recommend making a list of things you want to do, I am always adding things to it, it’s not a list of what you need to do as soon as possible, it’s just for motivation purposes and it’s helping me already!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Tenth Session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

This session was my tenth ever CBT session! Wow!! We went through my depression going worse and my self-harm, and the self-harm cycle. It was a really good session, really eye opening and I learnt so much.

I told her about the last two weeks, how depression and self-harm have gotten worse and about how I hardly went out. She explained that not going out is just feeding the depression and making self-harm worse. It’s time that I really push myself to start going out more. She mentioned propanolol to me and how she thinks it’ll help me a lot going out etc, so I’m going to ask my doctor about it next time I see her!

We had a look at this cycle, called the “self-injury cycle” It includes six steps in the cycle. This just carries on and the self-harm carries on. I need to try and break this cycle by starting to do things, so the depression doesn;t get worse, if I start doing things it should help break the cycle!

  • Mental anguish, the first step. I know, what a weird word?! It just basically means what goes through your head at the time. For example, self-critical thoughts, images etc.  For example, for me, it’s self-critical thoughts mainly.
  • The second step, emotional engulfment another word I didn’t know what it meant. It just means what emotions are you feeling, especially distressing emotions. I feel anger, sadness and upset and I feel disappointed in myself too.
  • Panic stations, the third step in the cycle. What are you feeling, what happened next? feeling out of control, numb etc. Then, the next step in the cycle is action station. In what way you self-injured, how, when where?
  • The next one is action stations. What way did you do it? Why? What reason?
  • Feel better/different, the fifth step. Relief, euphoria etc.  I feel calmer and a sense of relief and release of all my emotions.
  • The last step, grief reaction. When did you feel bad about yourself? self-disgust, self-hate. shame etc.

We went on to discuss this even further, and we both filled it out with the thoughts I think and other things. She said it’s important if I feel the urge, to be around people, as she noticed that I told her I only self-harm when I’m by myself. Funnily enough, I didn’t realise that, eh that’s why I’m in therapy right? To understand my messed up brain, and to learn how to control my mental health!

I came out of this session feeling so confident, happy and just all the good feelings you can feel. She told me to go to the party on Saturday, to enjoy myself and just feel how good it is to not go home because you’ve had a panic attack. Something I have to stop, if I stop that, there will be little to feed the depression, so my self-harm should get better.

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

Loving yourself.

This is something I personally struggle with, loving myself. Not so “loving” but having a good attitude towards yourself, not putting yourself down just because you can’t do something, being angry at yourself and so on. May it be during your recovery, the way you handle your mental health or anything. I lack motivation all the time and I tend to hate myself, hate myself for not going out, hate myself for not being able to push myself out, and hating myself for having so many problems mentally.

Self-care is so important and helps you to feel better about yourself. Prior to my relapse, I was doing so well with self-care. (I have a post on self-care if you want to read it’s here) Now, it’s literally gone through the window and all the good self-care I was doing is no longer. I really need to get back into the rhythm and routine of doing something to self-care every single day.

I have been struggling for motivation since the relapse, I’ve tried everything, absolutely everything. I can feel my motivation coming back, but extremely slowly which is annoying. I’ve recently been trying to find a hobby which helps me just release all my feelings/relax, and I’ve found fishing to be helpful for that!

BDD doesn’t help me with liking myself, due to me looking at my body in a different way to others, it just doesn’t help with confidence what so ever. I am trying ever so hard to beat it though, it is manageable and beatable with CBT and medication, which i’m currently on!

I was having a chat earlier last week with one of my best friends Laura (her twitter is here) and she is so supportive, whenever I’m struggling she always helps me and doesn’t take my shit and no for an answer! she knows that I need motivation and she has literally just given me so much motivation to carry on trying to beat my mental illnesses and to write this post too! It’s great if your struggling with getting motivation, it’s important that you have good people/people you like around you to help you with that, may it be a friend or even your parents or a family member! They can all help!

I’ve been struggling a lot recently with my mental health and I need to learn to “love myself” more. So, if you’re struggling to “love” yourself like I am. Just know that you can do it. I am learning to do it slowly, and so can you. It’s extremely hard but I can do it, and you can.

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam