Life without Anorexia

My motto is
'Dont let the sadness of your past & the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present'

My life at the moment is completely different to how it once was. I spent 5 years sick with anorexia nervosia and depression as well as struggling with self harm and overexercising. I spent 2 years in different treatment centres.
And since 2012 i have been declared healthy from my eating disorder.

I have been blogging for 7 years, and my whole journey is written in my posts. I now represent healthy and happiness. I want to show anyone struggling that it is possible to recover, no matter how hard it may seem.

I now blog about recovery, my life, veganism and positivity!

If you have any questions leave them in the comment section as i am much quicker at answering there, otherwise you can always send an email: lifewithoutanorexia@hotmail.com

Translate

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Studying while struggling with depression or other mental illnesses

When you are struggling with depression, or another mental illness it can be incredibly hard to study. Hard to focus on your books or notes or hard to concentrate and remember while sitting in class,not to mention the lack of motivation when it comes to actually starting an assignment or getting the work done. If you combine anxiety and depression, where you have no energy or motivation to do anything with perfectionism where you want everything to be perfect.  The smallest details have to be perfect, but never feeling like you've done enough or its good enough.... it's an awful combination and that's what I deal with at times. Not wanting to study or work at all but at the same time spending hours each day studying and still not feeling like it's enough, it takes a huge mental toll along with other things that evoke anxiety and guilt and the extreme tiredness.

When you struggle with a mental illness, you have to be kind to yourself. Sometimes that means taking a nap after 30 minutes of studying and sometimes that means forcing yourself to just do an assignment because in the end it's better to just get it don't so that you don't suffer the anxiety of a looming deadline or unfinished assignment.

Also talking to teachers and getting support.  If you have a diagnoses it's easier to get some extra time with assignments or extra help from teachers, but whether you have a diagnoses or not you should talk with a teacher or councillor to get help or so that they understand.  They are only humans and you won't be the only one who might need extra time for assignments or need to explain why you aren't in school some days.

Also set up plans and organise.  Don't keep saying "tomorrow " because that tomorrow never really happens. Instead make a plan and decide to may do 30 minutes of work each day. Maybe read over your notes each day or read a few pages. Also do the most important thing /closest deadline first.  I have a habit of first doing the small unnecessary things for just to get them out of the way even if I have 8 weeks to get them done, I hate having an assignment looming over my shoulder.  But the best thing is to work on the assignment with the closest deadline.

Ask for help. If you need extra help or don't understand or can't get started with an assignment, ask for help.

Take breaks and fuel yourself properly. It's impossible to study if your brain doesn't have the fuel it needs.  So eat enough and drink enough water. Don't just rely on caffeine and sugar. And take breaks and rest and get enough sleep.  But don't take so many breaks that you never get work done because in the long term that won't help you.

You don't need to get top grades, but my personal opinion is that either you decide that your mental health comes first and you can't study and recover at the same time, so you take a study break. Or you decide to put you work in AND stay healthy. I.e don't force yourself to go through school if your mental health is declining all the time. Either you can balance the two or you can't.  And there is no shame in needing a study break. Taking a break or working can be very beneficial.

At the moment I am definitely feeling that studying a little harder. Less motivation, my thoughts are on other things and much more tiredness. So I am doing the best I can. Studying a little everyday.  Looking at my notes, studying with others and just doing my best. Not going to stress myself over top grades or being perfect in school.  Instead taking the breaks I need and also writing down my thoughts that interfere when trying to concentrate on my school notes.

Be kind to yourself and don't overdo yourself. Hard work does pay off, but if you lose your mental health on the way it's not really worth it.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Izzy,
    I've been stuck in the half recovered stage for quite some time now. But I'm honestly getting a lot more flexible with my diet, especially since starting university. I actually bought some Cashew Milk ice cream at the store today!!
    Anyways, my problem is that the more I eat, the more weight I seem to lose?? I'm really confused. I've been trying so hard to up my calories/portion sizes/fat intake etc. but my weight is not moving. And none of my doctors seem to care that my weight is still low and I don't have my period back yet :/ I don't want to post any numbers, as they may trigger other readers.

    A typical day of eating for me looks like this:
    Breakfast-> protein smoothies (banana, coconut water, spinach/kale, soy protein powder, hemp seeds, other fruit)
    Snack -> protein bar (Quest or something of the like)
    Lunch -> usually salad (spinach, avocado, tofu, cucumber, celery, carrots, peppers, leftover rice/quinoa)
    Snack -> varies...sometimes crackers and guacamole or a piece of fruit or bread
    Dinner -> a lot of gluten free pasta haha, usually made from a combo of beans and quinoa/buckwheat/corn. Usually with some steamed broccoli, sauce, and tofu on the side
    Snack -> Something with carbs...sometimes air-popped popcorn or oatmeal with Peanut Butter or cereal with yogurt

    I do exercise. I like to strength train 2x a week for about an hour, I dance usually 3x a week, and I walk a lot each day from class to class.
    Should I try eating more?? Or just more calorically dense things? I don't want to give up exercise, because I do love it. And I'm okay with taking a break when my body needs it. I've tried to cut back on my water intake so that I can respond to hunger cues.
    If you have any advice or ideas, I'd really appreciate it. No one else seems to be able to help me :/
    Thanks for all you do. And good luck with your studies!
    <3 J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,
      From what you wrote you really aren't eating enough. Your breakfast definitely isn't enough. I would add oats/oatmeal or more bananas or add nut butter and dates to the smoothie or add some sandwiches to breakfast. Also I don't know your portion sizes but your snacks and lunch don't sound like alot either? If you feel that you are full from what you are eating and don't want to increase portions then I would recommend more calories dense food such as add coconut oil to your smoothie, add a few spoons of nut butter through out the day. Add 2 bananas to your morning snack or snacks on dried fruit and nuts other dates and peanut butter for your night snack. Remember to not fear fats, your body needs them and if you are losing weight but your goal is to gain weight then you need to eat more. Because 1... you aren't even eating enough to maintain weight and 2 you need alot more if you are going to gain weight . Focus on your goal and remind yourself why you need to or want to gain weight. It's great that you are eating more flexible but you also need to eat enough.

      And with exercise.... 1) ask yourself why you don't want to stop exercising and 2) if you continue exercising then you have to remmeber that you have to eaten even more. And don't underestimate how much you burn just walking each day at school. It's all a mind game and to fully recover you have to overcome the fears holding you back and remember that weight gain isn't bad. Keep trying to eat more or more calories dense because vegetables and green smoothies and salads and popcorn isn't really enough. Also from your day of eating it sounds like you eat rather plant based? I would suggest skipping the quest bar and eating something else such as some bread with guacamole or apple with peanut butter or make your own bars or raw food balls ;)

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much for the ideas. I will try adding oats to my smoothies...that actually sounds super yummy! Maybe I'll make coconut oil-popped popcorn too!
      I'll try harder to increase portion sizes and eat more calorie dense foods for snacks....I love to eat (most of the time!), but most of the day I'm just not hungry :/ so eating feels more like a chore than anything. But that's something I need to push past. It'll get better if I just keep eating more. I really want to be healthy again. One of my ultimate recovery motivators is to have my mom say "Wow, you look so much better/healthier!!" when she sees me instead of telling me I'm too skinny and need to eat more.
      I'd say I eat plant based about 80% of the time...I don't eat any meat or eggs, and I'm working on eliminating dairy as well. Yogurt is the only thing left, along with my protein bars with Whey. Once those are gone, then I won't buy anymore :) it'll be a lot better to just make my own, you're right. Whole foods are so much better than overly processed ones.
      I really appreciate your help <3
      Thanks again.

      Delete
  2. Hi Izzy! Can you please tell me what a good nice cream recipe I can have for breakfast everyday is? I need it to satiate me but also not make me feel too sick with too much fruit? I want to eat it everyday so it's important. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. concentration and attention span is my biggest problem still, although it is now heaps better than it was at the earlier stage of my depression. At that stage I couldn't concentrate enough to read a book let alone study, so I have made progress there :) I tend to study say for half an hour then take a ten minute break - get up, move around. I find then that I am more able to work. Breaking up study time into manageable chunks definitely works for me, as well as setting myself a goal for each study time - that way I know I have achieved something even if the study session doesn't go too well.

    ReplyDelete