Learning to Silence my Inner Critic

Initially I wasn’t going to use the set of photos below in a blog post. They aren’t quite right and don’t show the outfit as I wanted it to be shown. But it got me thinking about something that’s been running along in the background of my mind for a while now and so actually, from something imperfect I’m able to write an altogether different to what I planned blog post.

Dress and Tee: Monki | Converse from Schuh

So basically these photos triggered a whole big train of thought about my long-standing battle with perfectionism. I didn’t set any resolutions at the start of 2017 but it was always a goal of mine to try to get more control over my issues with, well, control and making everything “just right”. It’s something that has governed my life for as long as I can remember and has been an undercurrent to my anorexia since the word go. Ever since I started this journey of recovery back in the Summer last year I knew that to get any degree of success I would eventually have to learn to live more in the moment and less in a micro-managed bubble, and now, almost a year on I’ve realised that actually I am less ruled by it than I can ever recall being.

Now, I don’t have a secret to my success. It’s been a long battle and a lot of it is still very much trial and error. There are a couple of things that I have found really helpful though- the first of that being a course of CBT which saw me learn how to break my self-imposed rules (like actually being on time for things instead of constantly ten minutes early, or to accept a spontaneous invitation). I’m awaiting a start date for a more intense course which will delve more in to the root causes but even the basics gave me the tools I needed to start to break free.

The second thing that made a massive difference was learning the art of mindfulness. It’s always been something I was wary and dismissive of, but having been persuaded to give it a go by various people I decided I had nothing to lose and started to dedicate 5-10 minutes a day to it. I initially went with the Headspace and Calm apps but also made the purchase of “A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled” by Ruby Wax which proved to be a witty, relatable account of her own struggles as well as containing a six week guided programme which has helped me no end.

Of course it’s not for everyone but I thought it worth sharing these thoughts as they spill out of my mind. As ever with me partly so my blog can serve as a “record of achievement”, but also in the hope that even one person might read this and find something that could help against their own demons.

And the result of all this? Well, it’s only recently that the rewards have become evident. From challenging my social anxieties and attending a Blog Club Brunch in Bristol to attending the Grandaddy gig the other week. Spontaneous plans with friends have been followed through instead of a “yes, I’ll do it” followed shortly by a swift “no, actually I can’t today”. I’ve also found myself in the early days of a new relationship, in which I could not be happier (and that was a true case of spontaneous actions paying off) and I’m now able to relax, read, listen to music or watch a film without a constant state of panic and dread that I might have forgotten to do something vital.

I’ve literally just sat here and banged out this post in the last 45 minutes without any real intention of doing so- that’s definitely something I couldn’t have done six months ago! But with that comes the risk that it’s a whole lot of nonsense, utter drivel and full of poor grammar and punctuation mistakes…but you know what? That’s ok. Real life isn’t perfect and it doesn’t need to be perfect to be wonderful, and for me, that is the greatest lesson of them all.

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What’s New Pussycat?

The sales have been pretty kind to me this year- not only did I score some complete bargains but I also managed to snap up a couple of items I’d had on my wish list full price and resigned myself to not being able to afford.

The cat print dress in this post is one of those finds. First bought to my attention by the wonderful (and ever so stylish) Laura a couple of months ago I knew straight away that I wanted this but at £45.99(ish) it was way out of my price range. After a quick online browse of the Zara sale I was excited to see the dress had gone down to £26.99 but still assumed I wouldn’t get it but left it in the hands of the shopping gods and decided that if the Bristol store had it in stock in my size I would buy it- but because I didn’t technically NEED another dress I wouldn’t order online.

Someone was smiling down on me the day I ventured in to the sales (and the Zara sale is one I tend to avoid because it gets so chaotic and often vicious in store!) as there was one cat printed dress left hanging there all alone. A size up from my usual but I tried it on and decided I didn’t care, I like the sloppy look and so I happily trotted off to pay.

Dress: Zara | Boots: Office (similar)

These ankle boots are the third pair that have recently come in to my possession, but as my most worn flat black pair as starting to give up the ghost and I had a gift card from work I figured they were a worthy investment especially as they were reduced from £72 to £32. I’ve been after a pair of lace up ankle boots for a while and whilst the exact pair I got aren’t on the Office Shoes website any more I have linked to a very similar alternative for anyone else on the hunt.

This is probably one of my current favourite outfits. I’m a massive fan of longer length over-sized dresses at the moment and anything with a cat print on it is always going to be a winner in my eyes. I’ve already worn this dress several times so on a cost-per-wear basis it’s probably in the minus figures by now.

Thank you for all of the well wishes for my occupational health appointment, they were very much appreciated. It didn’t go exactly as I’d hoped- I suppose I thought that if I could get myself mentally a lot better I could somewhat overlook the physical side of things (and my first experience with occupational health seemed to confirm this). Alas this wasn’t the case so now I must face my biggest fear and hurdle in recovery and put on some weight before I can resume the job I love so much. I suppose I’m writing this down so I can’t back away from it. It’s so easy to get swept up in the disordered thinking of “well I already look healthy” but using my blog as a perspective I can see that I’m a way off looking like I did when I was last at a healthy weight (in this post for an example) and I’ve just got to man up and get on with it. I always struggle through the process of weight gain and seeing my body change but I know that when I get there I feel so much happier and more confident in myself- and the rest of my life becomes a lot more fun and fulfilling as a result. That has got to be worth toughing it out for. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m at a level where I can return to work, it’s so hard to know that the only thing holding you back from the one thing you really want to be able to do is yourself and yet you’re trapped by an illness that does it’s best to stop you achieving anything resembling a happy and healthy life.

Anyway, enough of that… tell me about your top sales purchases this year- or I suppose end of last year really!

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