Category Archives: Body Image

Nikki Grahame: In Therapy

42ed1fd300000578-4757264-image-a-54_1501764528746I recently watched an episode of the Channel 5 (UK) programme In Therapy. Each episode of the programme follows a different celebrity through counselling sessions, in the hopes of resolving certain issues.

I was particularly interested to see this recent episode as it featured Nikki Grahame of Big Brother fame, who developed anorexia at a very young age and spent most of her young years in treatment centres. Nikki endured herself to many, myself included, with her witty personality and intelligence, but sadly also her temper tantrums which displayed genuine distress.

I think the documentary can be accessed by UK viewers via Channel 5’s catch-up service below (sorry everyone else!):

Nikki Grahame: In Therapy

The Therapy Sessions.

The counselling sessions with therapist Mandy Saligari began with Nikki having a meltdown (panic attack?) about having to open up about the past.

It was sad to see this, and part of me wonders whether the media are exploiting her in the name of entertainment. But that’s another issue in itself.

For the most part I feel her open-ness about her condition is beneficial in helping people to understand their own issues and to reframe themselves and their identity in a positive light.

A Distorted Perception

It was clear during the therapy sessions that Nikki is very hard on herself, even to the point of hating herself in some moments: as suggested by the disgust she has felt looking at her body in the mirror- which she now avoids.

I think many of us who have an extreme sensitivity and have been through childhood experiences that invalidate our sense of self-worth, may have felt similarly that they do not like themselves, perhaps to the point of hatred. I know I have and it is painful to remember those dark times.

It is also clear we are looking at an intelligent, witty young lady, who also has insight into her condition and its effects on others. It is so easy to see the good in her. Her past anorexia has distorted her view of herself physically too- self disgust, yet she presents as anything but disgusting!

So, if I am feeling bad about myself, I can be assured that my opinion is probably completely distorted towards the negative, and perhaps other people see something good and worthy in me. I start then to think of good qualities they may see and then the good thoughts multiply and add to a growing positive relationship with myself.

9496tn1l70tebfRecovery from many mental health conditions seems to be about making friends with yourself, loving and taking care of yourself. This is what we haven’t developed throughout childhood- we’ve had mirrored back to us only the negative (the majority of the time anyway) which has coloured our perception of ourselves as “bad” and “shameful”.

Consciously Denying Feelings

One particularly disturbing moment of the shows Nikki respond to perceived criticism by Mandy, by making the decision to not talk. She stares at the ceiling and seems to numb herself to any feeling she might have about this. It’s as if she decides that she doesn’t want to deal with this situation or person anymore, like she can’t cope with it, and the only way she feels she can deal with it is by numbing herself of all feeling and denying it.

This was very familiar to me. I developed a similar pattern of behaviour (though less overt) when I felt I couldn’t cope with certain situations throughout childhood. It is a very childlike way of coping. But we have been taught no other way of dealing with our own distress, so have developed our own coping mechanism at 3,5,9,10,11 years old, whenever, and that part of us is stuck there with this behaviour. We have learnt no other way of dealing with overwhelming emotions.

At one point, Mandy makes the point that Nikki’s emotions are no stronger than anybody else’s, she just hasn’t learnt to manage them. I actually disagree with this. I think some of us do feel emotions much more strongly than others- our sensitivity makes it so. To imply we all feel the same intensity of emotion is quite simplistic I think, and invalidates Nikki’s experiences of her own feelings.

Thankfully Nikki begins talking to Mandy again and they work through what happened in a healthy way. She could have remained in the cocoon she created for herself and refused to finish the counselling. This is a majorly positive step, anybody who achieves a breakthrough like this in counselling or life in general is moving forward positively, to greater maturity. Congratulate yourself! Achievements in life don’t have to be about academic or vocational gain. We must learn to see all the positive steps we take in life, in order for us to see who we truly are- wonderful beings!

A Positive Future

Nikki has moved on from feeling so controlled by anorexia, though she still admits to obsessive cleaning. But it is evident she has more self acceptance than she had in the past and is developing a more positive relationship with herself. This is such a hopeful thing to see- we are all capable of growth and developing self-love. We will move towards the positive and recovery, if that is what we want.

Related Posts

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Counselling: My Wellbeing As Priority

I Am Angry and It’s Okay.

Body Image and Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’.

You Are Amazing!

 

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Counselling: my wellbeing as priority.

So much has changed in the last 18 months it all seems a little surreal!

Big Decisions

ID-10059543I finally put my needs and wellbeing before my fears of insecurity, and left an unhappy relationship. I moved to a new house, sharing with housemates.

It was a scary move. I’d been in the relationship for 11 years and had become so comfortable having our own house, living in a lovely area, and with our beautiful dog- who I was heartbroken to leave. Despite the unhappiness between the two of us, we did try to make it work, and we still care about each other, but as friends. I regularly dog-sit, so I still get to see my gorgeous girl.

It was a really tough decision and I still can’t believe I was brave enough to do it. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do.

My happiness now has really made me realise how important it is to be true to ourselves, even if it means sacrificing other things.

Binge Eating & Counselling

ID-100136585My binge eating has definitely worsened since the move. I think this is because I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself when I don’t have someone else’s needs to consider, and a dog to look after. I’ve spent too much time in my life trying to look after other people’s emotions, and not enough time looking after my own. So, as I posted back in May, I took the step of getting counselling for my disordered eating and body image.

I feel I’ve struck the jackpot with my counselllor- she is fantastic, and it feels right.

She’s really helping me to work on identifying how I developed such low confidence and self-esteem, and how I can nurture and parent myself. This is most definitely going to be an ongoing process.

The most uncomfortable I have felt so far is dealing with other people’s reactions to increasing my assertiveness. Having grown up a people-pleaser, upsetting others is extremely scary! But she’s helping me to see I’m not responsible for their reactions when I’m creating a boundary- so I don’t allow myself to be walked all-over.

I’m beginning to realise that there is a healthy level of selfish-ness!

ID-10039145Binge Triggers

Binge triggers have been relatively easy to identify so far:

  • Being alone- this often leads me to feel anxious about jumbled up, traumatic emotions from the past surfacing, which they tend to do when I’m alone.
  • Going to shops.
  • Being over-tired and uncomfortable, eg. aching feet from too much shopping, and tense body. Too much time spent with other people too.
  • Being angry and feeling ashamed of it.
  • Arguments/disagreements.

I think the main reason I binge eat is to stuff down the emotions of the past. I’m grieving for my inner child and the things I went through at that time. I’m a little scared of my inner child though, as she is very very angry and likes to have temper tantrums!

I’m learning to manage that anger in a healthy way.

It’s not about losing weight.

Fairy Homecoming: my inner child- she looks a bit calmer here!

Fairy Homecoming: my inner child- she looks a bit calmer here!

It’s not about losing weight- I can’t stress this enough.

I am not on a diet.

I am focusing on managing my emotions and my own needs. The healing comes through this, not through calorie-counting.

I am learning to love my body the way it is. I can still walk and be active and function pretty well! That is something to be profoundly grateful for.

I am really grateful also for the counselling that I am receiving at low cost. It is providing much-needed support. The universe is looking after me- and I am thankful!

Relevant Posts

Binge-eating Counselling

Bipolar Disorder: Body Image and Anxiety

Bipolar Disorder: Eating Distress

Full Moon: Releasing Old Baggage

Mental Health: Looking After Ourselves

 

 

 

 

Taking Care of Myself

ID-10046699I’m feeling much more positive today!! Hooray!!

Since I posted on Saturday I have been meditating to ground myself. Only a few minutes every few hours. It’s worked so far!! I feel more at peace with myself, though am still working with a few things.

Eating

I’ve used food for comfort since I was a kid. A dip back into pretty bad depression over the last 6 months has led to an increase in my food antics and a fast 16 pound weight gain. My knees have definitely noticed! My BMI is nearly 39, which is not good.

I think I’m at my limit now, where I say “Right, that’s enough now. No more.” There is no more denying the effects of what I’ve been doing, and the fact that it’s making me feel worse, not better.

A cease in cooking for myself is one of the first signs for me that I’m depressed again. But there are easy meals I am sure I could manage:ID-10038600

Jacket potato & baked beans

Eggs & salad.

Even a salad sandwich and some soup.

I know I can do this. It’s just a case of re-programming my brain! Lol!

I don’t want to eat in secret, feeling so guilty and ashamed. I need to replace the buzz of shopping for binge food and guzzling it with something more loving and nurturing to myself.

Dreams

I need to remember my dreams are important, so use these as a replacement! If I want to draw, I will draw. If I want to sing, I will sing. If I want to write a silly story, I’ll write a silly story!! I will resist the urge to tell myself there is no point in doing any of this, and remind myself that theses things are important- they are part of BEING who I am. I believe that we are all expressions of God’s spirit- being who we truly are (from the highest perspective of unconditional love) is what we are here for!

I’d like to reconnect to the childlike joy I used to feel when drawing and making up little stories, and dancing and singing. Joy brings light to the world!

Slow, but healing.

It’s definitely a slow day today too. Slow thinking, slow walking.

A very interesting observation was made by the psychiatrist Dr Russell Razzaque, author of Breaking Down is Waking Up. He took up mindfulness meditation for his own personal development and whilst on a retreat noticed something curious. During mindfulness exercises the participants were aiming to slow their thinking and  their walking, to observe themselves. He connected this with what happens in depression- our thoughts and movements slow down. Could it be that our minds and bodies are actually healing us through depression? I definitely like to think so!!

So with that in mind, I will trust that I am on the right track, and to listen and act on my intuition, rather than dismissing it as airy fairy.

Related Posts

Depression and Grounding

Hypomania and Grounding

Body Image and Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’.

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Bipolar Disorder: Body Image and Anxiety

Conversations With Myself: Exploring Low Mood

Forward-thinking Psychiatry

Full Moon: Releasing Old Baggage.

ID-10032826It’s a Full Moon tonight.

Spiritually this is a time to let go of old patterns, habits, fears, emotions & beliefs (or “baggage”) that no longer serve us. This is an extremely healing thing to do & helped me enormously in overcoming the parts of my Bipolar Disorder that medication couldn’t touch.

Layers of Healing

Since I quit my job a year ago I’ve been trying to release as much baggage as I possibly can. Every time I think I’ve finally forgiven somebody (including myself) for long-running, deeply-felt grievances, I end up finding new threads of resentment stealthily growing again. The emotions are always lessened in intensity compared to how they were a year ago though, so I’m thinking that we can only release small layers of baggage at any one time. This is perhaps more gentle on us. We are healing one layer at a time.

Simple But Not Easy

Releasing all the baggage is not something you can do overnight. I honestly used to think it was. Self-help books would suggest releasing old baggage as if it was the simplest thing in the world to do. It is simple, but it’s definitely not easy.

Intentions

I believe the key is to start with the intention to release old patterns/beliefs/habits/fears/resentments.

Affirm as often as you can:

“I am willing to release old patterns”.

Even if you don’t feel willing yet, you will begin to. Once you’re in that space of willingness, you are then able to begin work on releasing.

ID-10038600Food Addiction!

I still have so much to release though!! One of my main negative habits is my food addiction. I am rather resistant to releasing this one (to say the least)! I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be dragged away kicking & screaming from my beloved Ben & Jerry’s, though I certainly hope it doesn’t get to this point!

I’m going to work on being willing to release my unhealthy eating habits.

I also have to remember that it is often the behaviour/the habit, I am addicted to, not necessarily the food.

I’ve started changing the habit by increasing my daily intake of fruit & veg. This tends to work extremely well the first few days after supermarket shopping, when I’m more inspired by the lovely fresh produce. But as the fruit & veg runs out over the week, or goes off, well-intentioned convenience store visits for apples & salad become binge-eating triggers. Training myself to walk past the chocolate/biscuits/ice cream/cake-aisles has definitely got to be at the top of my “releasing” plan.

Judgments

Judging myself & others harshly is definitely another pattern I want to release. I don’t think I realise I’m doing it half the time.

If we judge someone else on the street as “fat”, what we are really doing is setting a standard by which we judge ourselves. If we get that fat then we will judge ourselves as harshly as we judges that other person- if not more so. I’ve felt absolutely despairing over my body image before- like it was completely disgusting. I was so cruel to myself! I think I thought it was the only way to lose weight- to bully myself. In reality this just made it worse!

I need to stop looking in the mirror and criticising myself all the time!!

I will look only at my beautiful hair, skin & eyes!! And I will appreciate every little bit of these wonderful things I am blessed with!!

291inxphzttgyEmotional Healing

I believe releasing baggage is one of the keys to overcoming many mental health conditions. I do believe that there are conditions where biology takes over, but I also believe that medication can never help 100%. This is where we can help ourselves by beginning work on being willing to release old patterns & experiences of the past, then form the intention to heal them. This is a great starting place!

 

 

 

Related Posts

Changing The Mind-Programming.

You Are Amazing!

Old Patterns

A Little Bit On Eating Disorders

Body Image & Lena Dunham’s “Girls”.

 

Photo Credits

Moon by Exsodus, Food Heart by Grant Cochrane via freedigitalphotos.net

Body Image & Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’

I have had pretty poor body image from the age of about 10. I was a little overweight as a child, butgirls-detail nothing major- it was enough to get teased though.

I know I’m not alone here!

If, like me, you are easily disillusioned by seeing images of beautiful, skinny, perfectly moulded women’s bodies all over the media, try watching HBO’s ‘Girls’ on Sky.

Written by and starring the fabulous Lena Dunham it tells the fortunes of four girls as they contend with the challenges of living and working in New York, and of their respective relationships.

There is a lot of nudity in this show. But for someone like me it is so refreshing to see a girl with a ‘normal’ body who is not afraid to flaunt it in front of the cameras. Lena Dunham is one ballsy girl and I love her for it. Anyone who can help me accept my body just a teeny bit is fabulous in my book!!girls-hbo-fashion

Lena Dunham’s character ‘Hannah’ frequently flaunts the most unflattering fashions and her lovely, ‘normal’, naked body with seemingly not a care in the world. How amazing!! It is actually possible to have an average body and be comfortable and relaxed in it! What a great role model she is to me.

After watching ‘Girls’, I practically sigh with relief- “thank goodness I’m normal after all”!

Thank you Lena Dunham- you are my heroine!!

On a side note- in the last episode (aired on Monday 4th March) Hannah had to deal with the return of her OCD symptoms. Always great to see mental health issues handled well in TV dramas.

Related Posts

A Little Bit on Eating Disorders

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