Friday, 8 September 2017

When Eating Problem Treatment Becomes an Eating Contest....

So, I've had struggles with my eating for as long as I can remember. There's always something that triggers habits of binge/restrict cycle. Only this year.... Things have really taken off on that front. Especially the restricting side of things. Eating little or nothing at all for a month. And then... Binge cycle. Feel bad about the binge. Restrict. Rinse. Repeat.
The biggest challenge in front of me now is treatment. Therapy is beginning to feel a whole lot more like an eating contest. "Is this enough" is a reoccurring thought that never seems to go away and gets worse after every session. It feels like huge pressure to eat, not for myself, but what the therapist and others want. It's nothing but pressure to eat, and Ka-Pow! Binge. Why is it that therapy needs to feel like an eating contest? I'm not here to set an eating record. This isn't about food itself. It's the emotions, it's the memories, and action urges behind what's going on. Food itself plays a part of obsessions and compulsions that lead to what's going on. It is not, however, a challenge of "is this enough for you?"
There needs to be a radical change in how people with eating disorders and disordered eating are seen. We can't just start eating as people want us to, and we can't force ourselves to eat healthy or anything at all, or stop binging just because either want it. I bought food to binge on today. Not to try it for the sake of trying to see if it is something I'd like, but because intense binging urges took over and couldn't help it.

A radical part of change here is encouraging us to take small steps towards recovery, not beat us over the head with the message that we have to eat. While it is important for us to be reminded of it, it isn't eight to heat us over the head with the message, as it just leads to shame and guilt, as well as inevitable binging or even more intense restricting. A lot of professionals seem to lose the sight of us being human and not just a list of symptoms that have to be treated.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

An open letter to the BPS and its members

Dear BPS, and all BPS members,

While I only have been a student member since the beginning of January, I cannot be any more honoured to be a part of it.

As a first (nearly second) year Psychology with Counselling student with the OU, my short (and continuing time) as a student member has been a real blessing. The BPS  have made me feel more welcome, and my opinion more appreciated, than any other organisation I have been part of.

The BPS conference, as well the recent Structure Review, have helped me to see that I am valued by people. And while accepting that is, at times, difficult due to the kind of past and mental health issues I have, the BPS members have welcomed me more than some other people in my life in the past. The conference was my first major public event since I started having mental health issues, and to feel so welcomed and accepted was a big surprise. And during the times like this when my past is haunting me like a horror movie demon, the memories I've made with all of you at the conference brighten the darkness for at least a little while (also talking to you, the man who fist bumped at my table during the dinner speech, I still can't stop laughing about it!).
The whole experience of the BPS has been nothing short of amazing, and it encourages me even more to pursue a career in psychology, as I wanted to since my mental health issues begun.

To be a member of this organisation of members who made me feel like my opinion is valid and that people actually care about what I have to say is an out of this world experience to a person like me, whose opinions and feelings were discarded like rubbish or put down at every possible occasion.
Psychology fascinates me on so many levels, and I love reading actual research papers (because articles and headlines on psychology or any scientific research can be out of this world inaccurate!) and reading about therapies, terminology, exploring topics I never dreamed of exploring for myself in the past (artsy person here!) and becoming motivated on every step to do more to alleviate psychological suffering of others in the future by, eventually, becoming a counselling psychologist. A long way to go yet, but positive experiences of both studying psychology and being a BPS member have helped me to see myself in a much more compassionate way.

Thank you to all BPS members who have made these past few months so positive in midst of my mental heath chaos, and thank you for helping me feel like I finally belong somewhere.


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Cutting Ties - What it Means for Me

So, I've cut some ties and someone cut theirs with me. It's been a struggle this week just to process why a friend had cut ties with me, because it is rather unbelievable. I've not fully processed it yet.

An ex-friend of mine has cut ties with me. But after reading her final message, it became clear that she used the friendship we've had as a way to make her feel like she was helping someone. Basically, all the times I've been severely suicidal, self harming, struggling with eating disorder like issues and hospitalisations became an opportunity for her to feel like she helped someone. So, in the most basic sense, she used my most vulnerable times for her own personal gain. That was hard to process for a few days, as I never expected for a friend to tell me that she's been using whatever volatile and vulnerabe times I've had in the last two years for personal gain and nothing else.

And I gave up on a friendship and blocked a person on Facebook because.... This friendship was something that kept me rooted in the church I left last December. I've realised obey the last few days that this root that kept me planted in that church was the person I was friends with.

Being free of those two friendships is freeing me from something else. Constant MLM essential oil advertising. DõTERRA, and Young Living, market problematic essential oils uses. Some which are actually against any regulations put forward by any holistic or aromatherapy institute. Like the use of oils internally without clinical aromatherapist supervision, which is only to be used short term and not casually like dT And YL promote. Another practice is using essential oils neatly, as this increases risk for sensitisation (allergy) further down the line. DT and YL practice of Aromatouch And Raindrop Therapy are also dangerous, as it is using a lot of oils (a few of them being hot oils) undiluted on the skin. If an aromatherapist uses these, they cannot be registered with ANY aromatherapy or holistic practice council or association, due to the danger of the practice. All of this information is online through multiple sources, such as NAHA, AIA and ATC.

Having these friends, who are dT distributors, tell people about these unsafe practices is another reason for unfriending and blocking them. I didn't want to put up with the unsafe suggestion of how people should use oils, as one wouldn't speak to me after having this discussion. There's a lot of debate about essential oils use, however, reputable sources in the area of essential oils have come out against ingesting oils and using essential oils neat (undiluted) on the skin, including Robert Tisserand.

But, coming back to the topic of friends and the incident with my friend I mentioned at the beginning. What implications will it have on me?

Well, I will struggle to trust people. A lot. This is a big blow to how I see people and my friends. And I am likely to hide things from people because I don't be able to trust them. I will struggle to tell them about what is going on, as I'll be worried that their support is only because of their selfish gains from supporting me. I'm scared of sharing things with my therapist. This situation screwed my mind up again.
And to believe my friend is/was a counsellor.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Who I Am vs Who I Was - Truth About My Real Self

So, this past month marked two major milestones. The second is will be surprising to many, but wasn't too my mother, which was the biggest surprise ever.

I no longer meet the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. This is a huge milestone in my recovery, so much so that in going back to college as an infill student to do my Maths and English National 5s to go into a traditional university. I'm looking forward to the twists and turns that life will throw at me.

Another milestone is that I came out to my mother and a friend of mine. I am pansexual. I always have been. Ever since I can remember. But, life as a Christian meant I had to suppress that part of me and outright reject it. To the point where I was spouting some really offensive things at college (when asked) about how Christianity sees LGBT+.
I had to suppress that part of me as God knows what could have happened, especially with some very devout Christians who wanted me to quit therapy due to mindfulness being utilised and to stop listening to Christian Rock.
So, I tried to keep it under wraps and tried to get rid of it. Thing is, you can't. I can't.
I'm the way I am, and that won't change. No, this isn't mental illness. No, I'm not possessed by demons. No, I'm not making it up. I am who I am.

One of the reasons why I wear whole spectrum loom bands and include pink in them is because I have respect for Christianity and how it sees people like me. It's okay to believe what your believe. And, what we as gay/lesbian/bi/transgender/pansexual etc ask for its respect. You don't have to agree with our sexuality, and, all we ask for respect and acceptance. See us as the friends, family work colleagues and acquaintances that we are. As individuals with our own set of unique personalities, successes, problems, failures and experiences. We are more than just our sexuality. That is part of who we are, but not all of who we are.

And I am more than my sexuality. Here's who I am now:
Sensitive (but not easily offended)
Highly emotional (but not emotionally dysregulated)
Encouraging (at least as much as possible)
Science orientated
Enjoying life
Slightly self critical
Protective of friends and family

Here's who I was when I was a Christian:
Upset easily
Always hiding myself
Always wanted to blend in
Submissive (I'd do everything just to keep friends)
Sensitive (and easily offended)
Believed everything in the Bible, and followed it blindly without questioning
Self Harming
Emotionally dysregulated
Scared of being abandoned and clung onto toxic relationships
Afraid to speak my mind and stand up for myself
Hiding how I felt for the fear of people telling me off for it

Do you see how different I am? It's not just because I'm no longer a Christian, but also through therapy and learning how to regulate my emotions and learning to be my authentic self, and rocking who I am with confidence. I am no longer obsessed with keeping toxic relationships going, but cutting ties with confidence and being able to separate myself from toxic and malfunctioning or dead relationships. I have power to follow my own destiny, and not the Bible's and people's "advice" on how my life should be. I stand up for myself and my rights, and for others rights.

I am completely different to who I used to be, and I've changed for the better, not worse. I now feel confident enough to come out to say that I'm pansexual, and I don't feel scared of the implications anymore, because I have nothing to be afraid of.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Church Friendships and MLM/Pyramid Schemes - what's the connection?

You're probably reading this and thinking "there's no connection" or "What?!"

That's right, I'm talking about Churches and MLM /Pyramid Schemes. The connection between the two is bigger than you think.

Since I can't do a pyramid here, I'll do four lists. Three for church, as there's an important point that the second one will link to that I discuss later.

Example of MLM/Pyramid Scheme pyramid:
DõTERRA pyramid:

Double Presidental Diamond
Double Blue Diamond
Double Diamond
Presidental Diamond
Blue Diamond
Wellness Advocate

Typical Protestant Church leadership pyramid:

Associate Ministers/Pastors
Church members
Non church members

Church friendship hierarchy:

Pastor's or minister's friends
Associate pastor's or minister's friends
Elders friends
Deacons friends
Church members friends
Non church members friends

MLM/Pyramid Schemes Church Friendship hierarchy I've experienced:

Pastor's friends: a clique and are the most important group in the church.

Associate pastor's friends: a clique that is below that, but has members in the elite group

Elders friends: a clique that is below that of associate pastor's friends, but still has people that are members of the elite and AP group.

Deacons friends: a clique that are below Elders, and may or may not be members of other cliques

Church members: a group of people who are generally friends with everyone else in the above groups, but aren't grouped as being part of their close friendship cliques.

Non church members: people who are new to the church, who may be oblivious to the cliques that are going on.

Now that we have these pyramids/lists, let's talk about the fourth one in relation to the MLM at the top. Usually, with MLM/Pyramid Scheme pyramids, you have to DO certain things in order to level up. Sign people up, buy a required amount of products, present and do classes or meet ups, recruit some more.... And, if you watch the John Oliver segment on MLM on YouTube, you'll find out some hard truth about things regarding places like NuSkin, where 93% of all active distributors don't make any money from it.

So, here is what happened in the church I was at that echoed the MLM/Pyramid Schemes in how these friendships worked. In order to "level up" in the friendship pyramid you, generally, had to:

Be a Christian or become a Christian

You have to be at a lot of events church puts on.

Teach as many people as possible about the Bible and bring in people to join the church (see how it's similar to MLM/Pyramid Scheme already?)

Have the time to come to as many extracurricular activities on the weekly basis. (I gave up on dance classes I am in now and love them).

Be friends on Facebook so that people can keep up with you, or sometimes, to pay things relating to God on your wall, or to track what you're saying on FB.

Stay as positive and God focused as possible.

And quite a few others. And as you move up through this Multilevel Marketing style friendship pyramid, you get showered with attention, love, care, and people actually notice if you aren't there.

Now, if there's something that prevents this process from happening, such as:

Mental health problems

You just stop pursuing it

You quit a few activities in favour for something else

You begin to go back down the friendship ladder, you begin to not be spoken to, you begin to feel isolated and lonely, and in case of mental health problems, you go to extreme lengths to regain these friendships, even if you feel it triggers you.
And even if you pick up the chase again, you might NEVER recover these close knit relationships you've had. And in my experience, you pursuing the close friendship again, people in lower or higher friendship ranks than you were might see you as being inappropriate.

So, the pyramid scheme church friendships exist. And they are dangerous to vulnerable people. For vulnerable people, these friendships (once they end or downgrade) can be damaging to a person's confidence, a person's sense of self, a person's sense of belonging, and have long term consequences on how people perceive themselves and relationships as a whole. This friendship pyramid scheme costed me my ability to cope with relationships with people, being able to be in a large group of people without panic attacks, nightmares, hallucinations, emotional regulation and it nearly costed me my therapy sessions if I followed through suggestions to quit from a few Christians.

This pyramid scheme/MLM friendship hierarchy is not what children should be taught. Children in such churches will learn that friendship is all about doing as many things as they can in order to be able to cling onto relationships desperately, rather than teaching them that if a friendship is becoming unhealthy, it might be best to leave it or work it out without pyramid scheming the whole thing.
And the NuSkin 93% statistic is helpful to demonstrate the result of church friendship pyramid scheme, as I believe 93% of people in the pyramid race for friendship are nowhere near the cliques at the top of the pyramid, but many from that 93% of people want to be there. But the chase is hard and is so incredibly easy to lose.

There's my take on this issue, and it needs to END. Church shouldn't be all about trying to be friends in order to be supported without conditions. Instead, the support should be unconditional and available to all equally. NOT only to people in the cliques. And people in the bottom two may be ignored when in real need of help, because people in the cliques come first. And to the people in the cliques, it's not "first come, first served basis." it's in the order of how important you are to the clique. 

If church is like this, RUN. Run for the hills and don't look back. Your sanity will thank you later.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Dear Chloe's Bullies

This is an open, public letter to bullies of Chloe, a girl I have heard about through my friend sharing her friend's post with screen shots of the entire group chat.

Dear Leah Ingram, Emma Reed and Ryan Bailey,

Please, listen to what I have to say. Please, stop bullying Chloe. I want to share with you some of the things that are the result of being bullied for 14 years of my life, in an attempt to help you understand what could happen if it does not stop.

As a result of being bullied as a child and teenager, I have suffered with gallstones because of the anxiety brought on by bullying and harassment. One of the most painful physical illnesses you can possibly suffer from. It is like something trying to eat its way out out /of you, while simultaneously feels like something is tearing you up from within. Try doing exams while on Tramadol and still suffering from unbelievable physical pain. All brought on by bullying. While I had an operation to get my gallbladder removed, the physical complications persist to this day in form of IBS.

Another thing you could lead to is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is hell on earth. Try walking around the town and being afraid of seeing people that resemble your bullies  and your traumas. Try fearing your own shadow. This is no way to live. I live in fear 24/7. I live in fear that this shadowy creature running beside the bus is going to throw the brick it is holding and it actually being real and hitting me.
C-PTSD is horrible. It is painful.

A bunch of different disorders this bullying can result in are personality disorders (especially Borderline PD, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy), anxiety disorders, as mentioned before C-PTSD, eating disorders and more. Eating disorders are NO joke. Being afraid of eating anything and putting on weight, or being afraid to eat things because you fear eating something new or different is horrible. It could lead to mood disorders.
I wouldn't wish any personality disorder or any kind of mental health problem on anyone. Including you. This is how bad things are.

Anxiety disorders are terrible disorders to live with, And if this bullying keeps on happening, she might develop one to such a scale that she will be scared to leave her house.
Bullying and mental illness are NO joke.

Please, stop telling her to commit suicide. You including that statistic of a person dying from suicide every 2 minutes and telling her to be six feet under is sick, despicable, and outright shocking.
Imagine yourself being added to such a conversation. And people saying this kind of thing about you. Tell us, how would you feel? What would you do? What would you be thinking?
These questions are important for you to answer honestly, and just yourself,

Through the experiences I have had of bullying, I no longer trust people. I no longer enjoy life without being scared of my own shadow. I no longer have confidence in myself to be able to do the things in life I want to do. Instead, I ponder upon quitting at every sight of failure, as I feel I am worthless and a beyond repair. While therapy has been helping me to deal with things more and starting to break out of that shell a bit, it is still there. I have PTSD reminders of my traumas every day in form of nightmares and and flashback/hallucinations. I continually battle with my own mind just to keep myself alive for one more day. And you do everything in your power to drive Chloe to her death? How can you?!
Would you really do all of the things you've said if she committed suicide?
How would you feel if she attempted suicide and was fighting for her life in hospital? And then, quite possibly, was transferred to a psychiatric unit. Psychiatric hospitals are scary. They are horrible. I begged my doctors to discharge me for the four times I was admitted for, as I was crying every single day because of what was going on around me.

Listen to what I had to say. Listen to the dangers. Listen to the effects bullying has not just on myself, but on others.
Please, stop bullying.

Yours sincerely

Saturday, 7 January 2017

"Friend Request" Movie Review (spoilers)

I thought I'd do something different and post a film review.

So, Friend Request came out in April of last and that is when I went to see it. Since it was my first time ever seeing a horror film, I wasn't sure of what would happen or what to expect.

I felt particularly triggered by a specific kill scene and had walked out of the film. I finished watching the rest on YouTube a few months later when it was posted on YouTube in Italian. I understand quite a bit of Italian, but not speak it, and went online to check up words every now and again.

Here are my grading systems for films, if I review any more films in the future. The grading system is based on the percentage of how much I enjoyed or hated a film.
0-10% = Hated it, wouldn't watch again
11-20% = Hated it, but something's good about it.
21-30% = Not particularly amazing, but some scenes are worth watching
31-40% = Alright. but do not recommend it
41-50% = Alright, and recommend watching it on YouTube
51-60% = Good, but recommend getting it on DVD
61-70% = Good, see it in the cinema with friends
71-80% = Good, see it in cinema alone
81-90% = Great, worth watching in cinema
91-100% = Great, see it in cinema and buy it on DVD

My rating for Friend Request would be 1%. This film is atrocious. The dialogue is inconsistent with how young people react to things. These are college students, and seemed to be in college for some time. Their dialogue is beyond horrendous.
"Unfriend that dead bitch." Well done writers. Seriously, I applaud you. You have managed to create dialogue that is immature and outright horrific. A young woman has committed suicide, and is haunting the protagonist's profile, and you give someone a line of dialogue so immature that makes me want to throw my laptop at the wall.
Even the most obnoxious of teenagers would not say this kind of thing.
One of the detectives is the comic relief of this film... But this film has no space for that kind of thing. It is a serious film about a wide range of serious issues. If you are tackling online harassment, online stalking, demonic possession, online obsession, and mental illness in your film, do not include comic relief. It distracts from tension built up (if there is any, and this film only had the tension in the first kill sequence. The rest were expected.) and distracts from the seriousness of the topic being addressed.

And the way this film tackles mental health issues and stigmatises people with mental health.... Ugh, Sigh. I am not sure of what to say here. The character of Marina Nedifar (Ma Rina, Marina Mills) has Trichotillomania, or the hair pulling disorder. Which is an anxiety disorder. Among other things which are potentially there, such as BPD, some signs of depression and some signs of PTSD (as we find out, she does not have the loveliest of pasts), it stigmatises people with mental health issues because of portraying Ma Rina as this crazy, obsessive, creepy stalker and even Laura's friends think she's crazy. Considering that at least 90 percent of them are studying to be psychologists (like myself), they are horrifyingly judgemental of this new girl in class who becomes so attached to Laura.

To be honest, by the end of the film, the audience starts to root for Ma Rina to kill all of them because Laura's friends are just such terrible people. I was rooting for Ma Rina to have her revenge by the end of the film. Laura's boyfriend is extremely possessive, Kobe is attempts to kill Laura in an attempt to keep himself alive (which is never explained, was he possessed?), Isabelle has a huge, inflated ego, Olivia's "unfriend that dead bitch" line indicated her attitude to everything.... And Gus isn't on screen long enough for the audience to care about him. Even Laura becomes insufferable by the end of the film because some of her actions do not make sense. Why not show the cops that you are not posting the videos? Why not talk to people who have been deleting you face to face to show them you're not posting the videos? Why does Laura not show the same thing to the school principle? Why does Laura not smash the laptop she committed suicide in front of, but looks into it? Why does Laura not give information to the cops about what she and Kobe find out? Pretty sure that this information could be useful into the investigation of Ma Rina's suicide.
And regarding other characters actions.... Why is Laura's boyfriend so possessive? His questions about her and Kobe hanging out are so out of place in the script. She;s going though a really tough time with Ma Rina posting things to her Facebook from beyond the grave, Ma Rina's suicide.... And he asks this? You've got to be kidding.
And the cops dialogue in the film is horrendous. Their actions are unrealistic. Their actions and words are not logical. And one of them is proper comic relief, as mentioned previously.

The lighting in this film sometimes feels slightly overexposed or under exposed. In the scene where Laura and Ma Rina walk to uni, the scene feels slightly overexposed. And some indoor scenes feel underexposes. Like the bedroom scene where Laura and her boyfriend look at Gus's memorial page. Sure, it's a horror film. But, it's sunny outside! Where is the sunlight that would naturally brighten the room up? I know that it is to continue the creepy and sad atmosphere, but the underexposure of the shot, and many others, is horrendous. Also in that same bedroom shot, you can see a boom mic at the top of the shot. No director would let a boom mic be anywhere in the shot, or at least disguise it somewhat.
Overall, the lighting feels hilariously unrealistic to what it would be like if this film was going to be happening in real life. No one sits in a barely lit room without turning some form of lighting on. Budget constraints....

The direction of the film is terrible as well. Some shots look so bad. And most of all, we don't see Ma Rina when killings start. The costume in behind the scenes stuff was so good. Why isn't it incorporated into the film more to let us see it at all? I would love to have seen her in costume, rather than just her creepy face twice or so.
The direction of what characters are supposed to be doing is really poor as well, as the actions of characters are unrealistic. Especially with people who are unfriending Laura. Not everyone would delete her. Family members definitely wouldn't, people who don't use Facebook often wouldn't even know what's happening, etc. How is her friend count absolutely zero at the end of the film? Did Ma Rina do this? What's with the Matrix code?
Too many questions left unanswered. I didn't care about the main character at all. That maybe because of the silly montage, showing her life. There is nothing interesting about this montage, and it fades out into pointless scenes and then go back into the montage... What....
Another thing about direction is after the first kill sequence, it fades to white. That fade to white is pointless, and looks like something that could easily be done in After Effects. Heck, one could do it in Movie Maker if they wanted to with little effort. It was just a cheap transition. Another cheap transition is from the montage, from the sunset cover picture into the same sunset with Laura running. That felt a bit out of place, even though it is an interesting transition.

Another problem with this film is the very unrealistic way that these kill sequences happen. Characters hallucinate in order to end their lives because of the witchy symbols that are the same symbols as the Matrix code stuff. There is no way that symbols could make you hallucinate, not to mention the symbols apparently transmuting chemicals to make one hallucinate. It is extremely unrealistic and a little bit stupid. Please, someone tell me, why do the symbols make you hallucinate? Why do they move?

Overall, the film is really bad. There's nothing redeemable about it, other than Alycia Debnam-Carey's performance. I kind of liked Liesl Ahlers performance of Marina, as I thought that she acted her part of shy, reclusive, too attached friend. And when Marina end her life, which starts the curse, this is where her character motivations become certifiably insane.

Hope you've enjoyed this review. I might do a few more if I get a chance to see any films this year.