Tag Archives: self-care

The Mad-Eye Moody method of mindfulness practice

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Gretchen Rubin has a theory that we are all either abstainers or moderators. Abstainers find it easier to give something up entirely, and moderators can have a little bit of something and then stop.

When I first heard this theory, it made sense to me and I believed myself to be an abstainer. It’s true that the best way for me to not binge eat is to not have the foods that I tend to binge on in the house. But ultimately, this categorisation of myself wasn’t very helpful because it meant that if I did eat a piece of chocolate, I could justify eating the whole box because “I’m an abstainer so I actually can’t stop.” Then, feeling sick with sugar and shame, I would vow never to touch chocolate ever again. And I wouldn’t. Until the next time I ate far too much in one go.

Eventually, I decided to try just eating one piece of chocolate, or having a few spoonfuls of ice-cream without devouring the whole tub. And while it is difficult, I found that it is perfectly possible to put the food away and not finish it. After a while of doing this, it became easier to enjoy a small amount but know when to stop.

So, I much as I admire other things that Gretchen has to say, I’m calling bullshit on the abstainer-moderator theory because at it’s best it gives us an excuse not to try and change our behaviour, and at worst encourages the cycle of bingeing and purging. It reinforces the message that we are “just like this”, that there is no other way.
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What happens when you stop fighting?

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After I was diagnosed with “severe anxiety” I resigned myself to a lifetime of panic attacks and mood swings. Once I did that, I stopped having them.

Okay, it’s only been about three weeks since I last broke down in hyperventilating hysterics for no real reason at all, so I hardly think I’m “cured”. But it turns out that things get much easier once you stop beating yourself up about something and start showing yourself compassion.

I stopped telling myself I needed to stop being so ridiculous, and let myself relax. I stopped panicking that I was about to start panicking, and accepted that I probably would at some point, but it would be okay and that I didn’t need to worry about it before it happened. I accepted that I was ill, and I started treating myself more like somebody who needed a bit of help. I went to bed early, I stopped insisting that all my time be productive, I stopped making myself do things I didn’t want to do.

Once I noticed how good this felt I started doing it in other areas of my life.
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How can we support you to participate?

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I’ve been up to London a couple of times recently for work, supporting some people who have a learning disabilities to take part in a Guideline Committee for NICE. It’s the first time that they have involved service users who have a learning disability in the production of their guidelines, and they are keen to make the process as accessible as possible.

At the start of the process they have asked the committee members, “How can we support you to participate?” I think this is a great question. But I think we’re at risk of creating unnecessary divisions if we only ask it of people who have a learning disability.

You don’t need to have a learning disability to have support needs. Some people have hidden disabilities, some people have mental health difficulties, we all have our own things that help us participate in meetings or at social gatherings.
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Changing my mind about Facebook (again)

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In 2014 my anxiety about life became enough for me to go to the doctors and be booked on to a course of CBT. One of the things I learnt about myself is that I tend to sabotage myself using “All or Nothing Thinking”. For example, “I can’t show restraint so I’m going to eat nothing.” Or in this case, “I find some parts of Facebook problematic and difficult so I’m going to delete my account.”

When asked about not being on Facebook I’ve been telling people that it has been bad for my social life but good for my mental health. For most of the last ten months I have been super happy with this trade off, but in the last few weeks not being on Facebook has started to frustrate me. I’ve wanted to group message friends, take part in discussions that happen in a Facebook group, or stay in touch with someone that’s moving away. Of course, there are other ways of doing these things. But Facebook is the easiest. And it’s got to the point that the only reason I am not on Facebook is because I made a big show about deleting my account and I’m embarrassed about telling people that I’ve changed my mind.
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2015 in review

As 2015 is almost over, I thought I would have a look back over some of the things that I’ve done.

I recommend that you do this actually, because when I first sat down with a pen and paper (I do my best thinking unplugged) to write a list I didn’t think I had done that much. But I discovered that not only had I done more things than I thought I had, a lot of them are really awesome things that I’m proud of.
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The end of the list

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I’ve been looking forward to some time off because I keep thinking I need to “sort things out”. What I need to sort out, I’m not so sure.

I feel itchy, dissatisfied… my mind keeps casting itself to the corners and storage places. The boxes under our bed, the clothes in the corner, the disorganised scraps of paper where I keep ideas for things I want to write or make. I crave focus, clarity. But I know from experience that taking bags to the charity shop won’t bring me that. Or at least, it will bring peace but only for a day or two. Then I will want to move on to the next thing: which area of my life shall I organise now? I will go through my archived mail, labelling and colour coding emails that I might one day need, deleting those that I won’t. And again, I will feel peace. Until I won’t.
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How shopping bans are like diets, and throwing things away won’t fix you

Trigger warning for disordered eating (somewhat bizarrely, you might think, in an article about decluttering and shopping. But I often find that the way we relate to one thing is the way we relate to everything).

When it comes to clothes, I’m a shitty minimalist. Yes, I am good at throwing things away but I almost immediately buy new things.

In the same way that having a thin body doesn’t mean you have a healthy one, a small wardrobe does not mean simplicity. Over the past few years, there has been as much binging and purging of my clothes as their was five years ago with the food I ate (or didn’t).

Just like going on a diet has led to me restricting my calorie intake to unhealthily low levels, my pursuit of simplicity has led me to throw out things I now really miss.

In the same way that wanting desperately to loose weight led me to binge eat entire tubs of Ben and Jerry’s icecream, I managed to spend over £100 on clothes within a few weeks of my KonMari clearout.
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I spent 5 months without a home and became an adult

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In March 2013 I sold most of my stuff, loaded the rest into my car and got ready to live out of suitcase while I figured out what to do with my life. I spent the next few months extracting myself from what, with hindsight, was an emotionally abusive relationship. I had my first “summer fling”, pierced my nose, and drank more alcohol than I probably had in the previous two years combined.
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