For the last couple of days, I’ve been really struggling with “that voice”. I’m finding it so difficult to concentrate on anything or get anything done, and my anxiety is getting worse again. And it’s because I’ve got a voice in my brain constantly going “you’re getting fat. Stop eating that. You need to go on a run. Don’t eat lunch, you don’t need it.”
All I could think to do today was to get out my laptop, and blog about it. (Random, I know!) But I can’t pretend the voice isn’t there, and I know for a fact that so many of you will know exactly what I’m talking about. I think it’s so important to talk about, because we can reassure each other that we are not the only ones who feel this way.
The horrible thing about “that voice” is what a silent battle it is. When you’re at work, or walking down the street, and it’s saying all these awful things to you…it feels like it’s completely overwhelming your brain, and you can’t think of anything else. You want to be able to shout back at it – but you can’t really do that when you’re in Tesco. So it gets louder and louder, you absorb it more and more…and then you start believing it.
As I say, I’ve been finding it really hard to find coping mechanisms to deal with this. But I have got a few…and I thought I’d share them to remind you all (and myself!) that you can overcome it.
TALK TO SOMEONE
The more you let this voice rant and rave inside your head, the worse it gets. Just say it out loud to someone. Someone who knows what you’re going through, and you’re close to. Tell them what it’s saying. Don’t worry about sounding crazy or ridiculous. The other day, Jonathan and I were shopping, and I just turned to him and went “I’m really struggling with my eating disorder voice. It’s telling me not to eat and I need to go running. It’s making my tummy really hurt and I feel like crying”. And honestly…just having a few seconds to vent about all the horrible things it’s saying to you, really does help. It’s almost like you’re getting the thoughts out of your brain by saying them out loud. And also – the person you are with will tell you what a liar that voice is. Jonathan said “Lucy, that voice is quite simply lying to you. You know really that none of those things are true – listen to my voice instead. You don’t need to worry about any of those things.” Of course, this doesn’t make the voice instantly vanish, but honestly, it really does help quieten it. It’s like you’ve got someone to stick up for you, it’s two against one! The more you tell yourself, and other people tell you, that the voice is lying, the more you will start to believe that instead.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this when out in public! But this is one of the ones I find most helpful. When you’re on your own at home, I think that’s when “that voice” can get really bad (it certainly does for me). It’s quiet, you haven’t got anyone to talk to, and there are no voices to listen to other than the one in your head. But you know what you can do? Answer it back! Sometimes if I’m home alone, and the voice is getting too much, I will just shout at it. And you should too. Shout and shout and shout. Don’t worry about sounding silly, no one is there to hear. Essentially…tell it to fuck off. “You are not in charge of me, and I’m not going to listen your lies anymore. I refuse to let you ruin my life. You are a liar, and you are not the real me. Get the fuck out of my head.” You may think I sound crazy…but honestly, it is SO therapeutic! Keep shouting until you’re blue in the face, and completely exhausted. You really feel like you’ve beaten it – and then you start listening to your real voice instead. And the more you do it, the more you will believe those things you’ve just been saying. And you don’t always have to yell! You can do it under your breath, or even silently. You could be on the train, in the supermarket, out with friends…and if that stupid voice starts piping up, you argue right back with it. Don’t let it overwhelm and get the better of you. I promise you, the more you change your thoughts, the more you will start to believe them.
GO FOR A WALK WITH HEADPHONES
If you’re by yourself at home and that voice starts getting loud, never ever just sit still and listen to it. Either shout back, or if you don’t feel like it, grab your headphones and head out the door. Find a park, a river – anything that makes you feel calm – and just walk, really taking in the beauty of what’s around you. I know it sounds cheesy, but sometimes going outside and connecting with nature is such a wonderful way of clearing out your brain. Listen to your favourite music as you go. Or a podcast, or an audio book. Fill your mind with something enjoyable, and push that voice right out. I always feel a million times better after going for a walk. Maybe even try getting up a little earlier, and starting your day with a nice walk. I find it’s such a great way of clearing your mind, and setting you up for a great day.
Now I’m not going to lie, this is something I find very difficult! But I’m trying really hard to get into it, because I’m starting to see the fantastic benefits. I have always found meditating hard because I find it impossible to quieten my brain. I’ve always been so jealous of people who can do that! There’s always a million things, anxieties and worries, buzzing around in my brain, and like with the voice, they are so hard to ignore. If you’re like me, meditation is something you really have to persevere with to see the benefits, but honestly, it’s so worth it. Even if you can get five minutes where you feel you’ve calmed your mind and relaxed your body, you will feel a hundred times better for it. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get! This is another great thing to do in the morning, or even just before you go to bed. Get all those worries (including that voice) out of your brain, and you’ll be ready for a lovely, deep sleep.
If any of you have any other tips on how you cope with “that voice”, please do comment below! I’d love to hear any advice you have. It’s such a struggle…but just always remember what you’re fighting for. You want to be healthy and happy, like anyone else. That voice is a tricky one to beat…but we can totally do it.
Love Lucy x