Category Archives: Addictions

Vanessa Feltz and her Gastric Band on Loose Women

Thank you Vanessa for your honesty about how you feel about being over-weight, you have helped hundreds of women by being you.  On Loose Women today Vanessa Feltz openly admitted she had to resort to having a gastric band fitted because she just could not loose the weight. That awful feeling of feeling so unattractive she described beautifully and the feeling of not being able to wear what you liked to wear because your choices were now limited, all the above I understand, I have been there, I blew up from a size 10 to a size 20 in a matter of a year, I felt like someone else.  I was under so much stress and I ate to give me energy and I became so obese some of my friends did not recognise me, it was one of the loneliest times in my life.

I have battled with my weight all my life and was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2008 officially.  I had tried everything and for me it has come down to no sugar, no white flour, no caffeine, and an eating plan which consists of 3 meals a day and ensure that I have equal portions of protein, carb and veg and fruit with every meal, plus exercise 3 times a week.  I found it excruciating at first and could not do it without support because I ate on my feelings.  So what happens when the eating stops, the feelings come up, and they have to be dealt with.

There are places to get help for people with eating disorders and fellowships that don’t cost money, but like everything there are waiting lists, therapists cost approx £50.00 and hour which is out of a lot of peoples price ranges.  Vanessa did touch on the fact that she could afford this when asked by Sherrie what about others who don’t have the funds for a gastric band.  This is becoming more and more of a problem, most things cost and not everyone has it.  I guess there is also a priority for those who do have money, how much do you spend on food and how much will you give up to get well.

Compulsive overeating is a disease, one that is not discussed enough and can even be described as an addiction, if you suffer from this problem and would like to discuss it further please do get in touch, send me a comment or a message to penny@pennysnowball.com and I will help in any way I can.

Thanks again Vanessa and I wish you well with your treatment.

Penny

Eating Disorders and Mental Health-Radio 1 Summer Surgery

A huge thank you to Aled at Radio 1 for his Summer Surgery he is covering subjects such as Eating Disorders, Alcohol and Drugs, Panic Attacks and his approach is really good.

It is so refreshing to hear Eating Disorders being discussed in such an informative way, rarely is the connection with Mental Health made .It is a problem not just about weight, far bigger than that.

Thank you Aled for raising the awareness, how good to hear a man talking with such empathy.-

My Mental Health This Week

This week has been amazing.  It started with me still feeling pretty groggy from a cold and stressed with some family stuff that has been going on.  I went to London on Tuesday to visit my son and some friends, we had a great time with them, but I felt sad.

It really hit me that 25 years ago, I owned my own flat, I was living in London, if things had gone well I would be mortage free this year and here we are walking miles and miles because we are needing to find a restaurant that we can afford. Past some restaurants that at one time I would not have thought twice about going into. It is not what I had in mind for when I turned 50.  I was grateful to have the talks I did with my son, to have the closeness that he wants to share his world with me and to ask for my support emotionally.  I am grateful to get on so well with his visitors and it really touched me to feel so comfortable with these people.

The sadness I feel is grief, some call it self pity, but for me it is a process I have to go through, I know that my mental illness stole a lot of my life and that makes me feel very very sad. It also makes me very very angry that I did not get the help I needed when I needed it, because that made me worse.

Now I have to do something about it.  I still get bad days, so does my son and we are having to face a huge truth about his father, he does not want to know. This is a truth my son is really struggling with and I am powerless to do anything about, as much as I want to, or am I?

I walked along Notting Hill and remembered how I love being there, I long to live in London again, it is a case of how.  So I keep writing, praying and moving forward. I felt a failure actually, a complete and utter failure that I had not been able to provide in the way I wanted to. Thank goodness that out of this we are close, money cannot buy that. I feel sad that at the age of 50 I am on welfare, still signed off sick.  The impact of mental health on my whole life cannot be underestimated, together with the impact on my sons life. I am changing things slowly and I need a lot of support.

Two other things have happened to confirm my mental state this week, one past, one present.  I was helping a friend move today and we went to visit a place he used to work and I was a client of approx 12 years ago, Creative Response. The man who worked there when I was there came up and said I recognise you, were you at college with me.  I said no I was one of the clients when you were at the other place and he was really shocked.  He asked if I liked it and I said no, I found it really distressing, and as we talked he remembered me.  He told me they felt unable to help me because I was so distressed, how he tried to get me to focus and draw, how I told them I needed someone to sit with me and they just did not have the funding to help me in a way I needed to be helped.  He told me they were all really concerned about me and often talked about me, because I was so fragile.

I have to say I felt really sad, again, because I did not think anyone could see me or understand me, I was obviously in a bad way. I used to walk past him in the street and really resent him for not being able to help me, I felt so scared and lost and I wanted some help not to just get on with it, I was so shut down I needed someone to help me get in touch with my feelings and for some reason it didn’t happen for me.  Nowadays they have more funding and it is better, but it just shows how vital it is for people to get the help.

I also went for an assessment at Oakleaf Enterprises.  The man was amazing, he has had several breakdowns himself, commented on the psychiatrists writing being illegible and was able to see that he had commented on my state as fragile, which I was surprised with but also relieved.  We went on to talk about experiences with mental illness and how their funding is being cut, how they cannot provide as much as they would like due to it.  Most people there are on benefits and they are now restricted as to what they can do as they now have to pay their own travel there and also pay £5.00 per session, which makes it very difficult for some.

When we were talking about our states of mind he said how difficult it is when you are having a breakdown and you believe what you believe is real and that nobody can convince you otherwise, I found his way of being so open and sharing a real comfort.  I know that feeling so well but I had not known it so clearly as all being part of the breakdown if that makes sense.  The loss of reality is something I am only really begining to come to terms with.

In Search of My Mental Health

I am so excited…….it has been a really emotional week, one way and another.  In the midst of it all, it has all started to come together. The hope of a documentary with two Addictions Therapists talking about service provision, or rather lack of it, for people like me with no private health care and little funds to pay a therapist, has finally come to fruition.

I have got a production company on board and we are shooting on 13th August, it will be on this website asap after that. We are not commissioned, we are all doing it for free because we believe it is a very important thing to be doing.

It is my  passion to use my journey, (battling with Mental Health, Addictions, Eating Disorders and Co-Dependency, to name but a few of the Addictions I have), to highlight the gaps in the provision available to people like me, and just what a huge impact that has on mine and others lives.

The jury is still out on my diagnosis of Borderline personality disorder/Bi-polar, the Psychiatrist has now passed me over to a Psychologist and hopefully I will get to see her before the end of August.  Thank God I am not as unwell as I was even a few weeks ago, this waiting and having to go over what is going on, over and over again really does my head in……!

I once saw a huge bill-board on the way out of Waterloo Station which said, ‘If Britain was a person it would be sectioned……’ I do truely wonder if it is not the people but what we are expected to tolerate that compounds the state of our minds, it certainly feels like that to me.

The series is entitled In Search of My Mental Health.  I will keep you posted.

Life’s Lessons

Today has been a wierd and wonderful day……….full of ups and downs and confusion. It has been going on for a while now.  When there is confusion for me there is generally something I am not looking at, not wanting to see and it is in those moments I need a good friend around me who is prepared to take the risk of telling me the truth.

The truth in this particular instance is that the lesson has been here a lot of times and what is it?  I pondered most of the day and finally it hit me between the eyes, I cannot change anyone else and nor can I blame them for being who they are.  My job, and here in lies the rub, is, I have to take care of myself…………..boundaries!  Well if I don’t know what someone is talking about and what a boundary is how  am I supposed to put one in place.

This is a long lesson and I am slowly learning it, it is painful, it is co-dependency in it’s full force and it is the route of all my addictions, not being able to take care of myself and not knowing how or what that means.  So I end up being, or feeling put down, pushed down and not knowing how the hell to do anything about it.

The lesson has finally come home, I let them, whoever they are, same shit different smell I always say, doesn’t matter whether they are male, female, tall, short, whatever, there it is.  Now I have to learn, to say no.  No, that is not ok for me and stick with it, and if they are not ok with that, then I do not have to change and contort myself so they won’t leave me……………what is your name………….what do you want it to be?  All that people-pleasing mania that almost took me to my grave is slowly changing.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be, with my history, my way of relating and it is all up for healing, to be investigated, not blamed and shamed as I know only too well……….and I was doing the same, only I did not know it.

I remember when I was just being me……..not doing anything to anyone and I was accused of all sorts of things that I was apparently doing to others, I took it all on board, blamed myself and changed my behaviour and a lot of my natural personality just because someone didn’t like me.  I now look at that and feel very, very sad, it was their stuff and I had no idea I could have stood up to them, said sorry you feel that way………..I just did not know how to do it.

Thank goodness I am learning, a day at a time to look at myself, face my demons and take the time to stop and ask …….what is the lesson here and be prepared to change. Sadly I was and have been doing a lot of what was done to me, blaming others for treating me like crap, but I let them, just like those people who blamed me, they let me and I took it all on.   I once heard a brilliant analagy of this about a public convenience, people want to dump their stuff, and will keep trying each door til one opens.  I choose to be one that is no longer open………and they will just pass me by until someone lets them in.

What a day!