This post was written by Katie Arbre and was originally posted here.
The road to recovery is never straight, nor is it simple. You don’t get a map or a road sign and most people walk it completely alone. But, fear not moi amis! I left a breadcrumb trail.
Just follow my personal steps towards a happy, stable you…
Step 1- Recognition.
Step 2- Understand your illness.
Step 3- Learn your triggers.
Step 4- Introduce healthy changes at your own pace.
“I have a mental illness.”
If you read my blog, you’ll know that I recently came to terms with having an eating disorder. I’ve always known there was something wrong with my eating habits but I did not face the fact that it was down to an eating disorder. Now that I’ve accepted it, I can move on and get healthy. The same can be said for my self-harm. I ignored the issue for such a long time, it made it all the more difficult to stop. But now, I’ve moved on and progressed greatly. The biggest step you can take is to recognise that you are unwell and then decide that you want to recover.
No one is going to save you, you must decide to save yourself. You should start by telling a friend about your mental state, or a relative or even just say it aloud to yourself. But, by acknowledging the issue, you are much closer to solving it.
2) Understand Your Illness:
Of course, researching is the next step. You can only start thinking about recovery once you understand what it is you are recovering from. My boyfriend and I read through many self-harm sites. Frankie couldn’t understand how I could do that to myself and I needed to see that I wasn’t crazy or completely alone. We found a lot of useful information on Mind– the mental health charity. I learned that I self-harmed because I had low self-esteem and by doing it, I no longer felt numb. Frankie learned that people deal with feelings in different ways, I have always been a very closed person and I don’t convey emotion well. Self-harm was my way of dealing with that, it meant I didn’t have to face what I was feeling. I just felt I had no other option, I would rather hurt in that way than be hurt by others. And I’m still learning a lot about my eating disorder, I’m currently researching healthy foods and how to actuallycook them…
It’s a whole new world for me, I used to live on shortbread biscuits.
3) Learn Your Triggers:
Unfortunately, you can’t just stop having a mental illness. It’s not that simple. And I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about the origin of mental illnesses. But after digging in my brain, I got as deep as developing one due to low self esteem in terms of my appearance… Now, I try not to think about appearance in such an ‘all or nothing’ way. I’m not defined by how I look, I shouldn’t let it dominate my life. I much prefer my world now where appearance doesn’t matter. It’s helped me see the world in a whole new light- Beauty is everywhere! If you feel you can’t dig deep for answers, you can instead learn what triggers you. Find out what ‘sets you off ‘ and affects your mood. For instance, if I don’t eat, I get moody and upset over the tiniest things. And if I don’t exercise, I get angry and irritable. It builds up throughout the day, my hands can get restless and I find myself wanting to self-harm. But, I can fix this… with exercise!
There’s a great Mental Health App you can download called Pacifica. It’s designed to monitor Anxiety, but I have found it helps keep track of everything. I was looking for an app like Pacifica back when I was recovering from self-harm. You can record your mood, from feeling great to feeling awful and add a couple of keywords- this is good for looking back on e.g. I only felt ‘okay’ on this day because I was stressed. You can also record how much you drank, slept, exercised, spent outdoors and whether or not you ate well. I like doing this because it makes me so much more aware of what I’m doing and how it affects my mental state. I can see that when I feel stressed, I eat junk food and don’t exercise. I don’t feel good so I eat comfort food as a quick ‘happy’ fix but ultimately it makes me feel worse… the sugar crash, toxins, synthetic hormones and what-not. Some Health Apps can be quite daunting, the idea of getting my health on track is scary, it’s an arduous commitment. But, Pacifica lets you take it at your own pace. By learning what triggers me, I now know that sometimes I just have to eat something, rest or exercise and I will feel 10 times better.
4) Introduce Healthy Changes:
Little by little, start changing your lifestyle. Drink more water, eat healthier, grow stronger. Cut out toxins and processed foods (something I’m attempting at the moment). Be kinder to yourself with daily positive affirmations- not criticising yourself every morning can truly change your day. Negative thoughts are really ugly, so don’t inflict them upon yourself or anyone else for that matter. Look around you, appreciate Earth! Cut down on technology. Go to bed early, wake up early. Mix up your routine, try something different. Just please don’t you ever give up on yourself!
As my brother always says: “There’s so much more to life than what you see here. Go out and try it.”
Yes, you will have a few difficult, stormy days, but they will pass and you will carry on. Your ultimate destination: Wholesomeness. (Not to be confused with awesomeness. Although yes, you will also be awesome.)
Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts.
& I recently got to 1K on Bloglovin! Thanks so much for following Our Wolf Song 🙂