This blog is part of my recovery, and I would like it to remain a safe place for me to share parts of myself and my life that people close to me may or may not know. As a result, while I'm not going crazy with privacy settings, I do ask that if you find this on your own and suspect you may know me, please respect my privacy by checking with us before reading any further. This obviously doesn't apply if one of us has given you the link!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Healthy Eating Minefield

All those people who say healthy eating is easy need to get off their high horse. In my experience, healthy eating is complicated, and especially if you've ever struggled with disordered eating, and/or mental illness.

Healthy eating is a veritable minefield of wrong choices, mistakes and scary limitations. First, scientists can't even agree on what's healthy. We're constantly being told that yesterday's choices are no longer healthy. We're told it's as simple as "x calories in" = weight loss, but weight loss doesn't necessarily equal healthy.

I'm trying to do the right thing, by my body and by my mind, but it's so complicated. Am I doing it right when I eat salad for dinner? Maybe, but maybe I'm not including enough nutrition or maybe I'm not giving myself enough calories. Am I doing it right when I snack on fruit? Not, apparently, if you add peanut butter or nutella to that. Am I doing it right when I eat muesli for breakfast? Maybe.

The truth is, I'm so turned around right now, I have no idea whether I'm doing it "right" - whether the food I'm putting into my body is okay or not. I have no idea if I'm getting the right nutrients, the right calorie number, the right anything.

I know what I like and I know what I don't like. I know that it's winter and I want warm food, but the tasty-healthy options I know of aren't warm - they're cold things like salad or watermelon or neutral things like dried fruit and corn thins.

I also know I'm trying, and maybe that's good enough for now.

How about you? How do you go with healthy eating -- are you a natural or do you get as confused and mucked around as I do? Do you get upset when you make mistakes and choose options that aren't as healthy as you thought?

Friday, June 13, 2014

The need for ALL levels of recovery to be validated in their need for support

I want to address two things that are sort of connected. Something I've been running into in a few places lately, is this idea that those who are "further along the recovery path" should bend to those who are just beginning their journey, no matter what.

The thing about different places in the recovery journey, is that how we approach certain things affects others who are in different places. In a great many support communities, that means allowing people to express themselves however they like - 'whinge' comments and attention seeking are rife.

I believe those things have their place. I believe it's important for people to experiment with how to get the sort of attention and support they need -- but I don't think that should be at the expense of those who are a little further along the recovery road.

Whether we like it or not, those of us a little further on the recovery journey can find that really difficult to deal with. Being surrounded by people seeking short term solutions can really drag us down, and it can lead to the temptation to go back to using those short term solutions, instead of concentrating on the long term solultions that actually change things.

There's this idea that if, in a support-based community, we put up boundaries against that sort of behaviour, we are stepping on the people who need that communication style, and that because they're at an earlier stage of recovery, they have more right and need for support, because they are "sicker".

No. No, no, no, and I say again -- no. First of all, you can't determine whom of two people is "sicker" unless you know both extremely well and ideally hold a psychological degree. There's this idea that someone who has reasonable communication skills can't possibly be as sick as someone who struggles to understand concepts. This is not true. I might understand concepts quite well from a rational level - but that doesn't mean I'm capable of putting them in play in my life, or that I might not be affected in other ways.

This is connected to the idea that someone who is more visibly unwell is actually less unwell -- again, this is a myth/misconception. The truth is, you can't guage how well or unwell someone is by how they present. You just can't.

And you know what? Even if you could - by focusing on supporting those who are "most visibly unwell" at the cost of those who are less visibly unwell, you create an environment where the emphasis is on being as visibly unwell as you can, in order to receive support. You create an environment that says to everyone who needs support only deserves it if they are as visibly unwell as possible -- that's not an environment that encourages growth or healing, it's an environment that breeds dysfunction.

I'm all for there being a place to allow people to seek attention, coddle and other "short term" types of support - but there also needs to be room for there to be a place based around more indepth, growth based support, too.

And there needs to be more awareness that just because you may think I look less sick than your friend, it doesn't mean you are right -- and maybe it doesn't even matter. I deserve support every bit as much as anyone else, and that's not contingent on how well or unwell I am. What matters is that I am here, I am asking for it, and I deserve it because I am human.

How about you? How would you balance the need for differing levels of recovery to receive the support they require/deserve?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Physical Health With Mental Health Obstacles

We all know the old saying, that if you eat less calories than you expend, you will lose weight, but it's not always that easy. Metabolism, medications you may be on, previous attempts to lose weight, mindsets, thoughts and personal challenges all play a part in complicating the issue.

Today I want to talk about healthy weight loss, something that seems simple but is fraught with traps, tricks and complications, especially for those of us with a mental health condition.

Those of you who know me may be aware that a couple of years ago, I was well on the way to developing a mixture of anorexia and bulimia. I all but stopped eating, and I worked out excessively. Bumface helped me get a handle on it when we first got together, and for two years, my weight stayed relatively stable (give or take a few kg).

Alas, just before Christmas, I went on some antipsychotic medications, and since then, my weight has steadily increased. It got to a point where we decided enough was enough, and I signed up for the gym.

So here's where I'm at now:
  • I visit the gym at least three times a week, spending less than an hour there.
  • Weights no more often than every second day; cardio every time.
  • I haven't made huge changes to my eating (though I have minimised the junk), so I'm having 2 or 3* meals a day, of reasonable healthfulness. For example, today I had weetbix for breakfast, lite sweet & sour (made at home from a jar) chicken & veggies for lunch, and a ham & salad wrap (spinach wrap) will be dinner.
  • For the most part, I only drink no added sugar weak cordial (usually just to take my meds with), Coke Zero and water.
  • I'm going to be getting Bumface to do my measurements into a special notebook specifically for that purpose.

It's too soon to see big changes, especially as I know I'll be building muscle at the gym, but I think I'm on the right track.

*I'm currently spending between 12 and 14 hours in bed every day, so I think smaller meal numbers are reasonable, given my lack of energy (and no, they're not the reason I have a lack of energy).

What I want to know is what do you do to help yourself stay on track with healthy weight loss and/or just taking care of your body? How do you balance any tendency you have towards overdoing it, with the need to make sure you're doing 'enough'?

Monday, June 2, 2014


Hello friends, it's been a long time. While Dialectic Dichotomy has sat, gathering dust, I've been doing lots of growing. My focus has moved from primarily mental illness, to general life and all the things I'm passionate about.

One of those things is, of course, mental illness, and recovery, and that hasn't changed. I've been running a group over on Facebook for Australians with Borderline Personality Disorder, and it's really taken off. (Do let me know if you'd like to check it out - we have a strict pro-healthy policy and a great group of people.)

In the same vein, I feel it's time to resurrect DD and continue that growth - as well as sharing it with others. I hope to share exercises and activities with things to think about, as well as my thoughts and challenges as I face what comes. They won't be Borderline specific, of course - many will be applicable to overcoming abuse, or simply living with mental illness in general, or sometimes just whatever life's thrown my way. I do encourage you all to join in -- chat with me in the comments, take part in the challenges and activities, and let's grow together.

For today, why don't you share one thing that's going well for you today or this week? It doesn't need to be a big thing, though it can be!