mentor.

I had my first meeting with my mentor the other day. Basically, because I’m classed as disabled by my university, the government pay for someone to meet with me to help counsel me through my work. I get to meet her once a week and she’ll help to keep me on track and moving in the right direction work wise. I’m taking a massive extension on my dissertation as my summer hasn’t exactly gone to plan, but I’d like to start-up trying to get some study done again. I stopped studying entirely for a month or so as I just got too out of control, but now I’m going to give it another go.

Starvation did wonders for my academic work. Seriously. Not eating helps study and study helps not eating. It’s a perfect partnership. Historically, I’ve not been good at prioritising work. Social, fun, being miserable, being dramatic or just watching day time t.v. have always taken priority over work for me. It’s surprising I even got through my A-levels as I spent a lot of my study leave high or depressed and don’t think I really revised, coursework the day before the deadline etc. I just didn’t have consequences. It made my first year of uni hell as I’d be starting essays 2am in the morning before the deadline. Study was something I couldn’t really be bothered with. I’d much rather get really drunk and be a mental at the Boy or something. Standard.

There are a lot of reasons I think I got really into study. Some wholesome ones include the fact that I completely loved my undergraduate degree and I grew to be passionate about it. Another reason is that I’d aged slightly. I think a big reason though is that I started starving myself. Sounds counter intuitive, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. I’ve always been kinda chaotic, impulsive and emotional. I didn’t think I was at the time, but I look back and see that part of me and I hate it. I learnt through experience that if you really try hard to lose weight, you stop being chaotic, impulsive and emotional. You become organised, restrained and numb. I was more manageable and it allowed me to focus on my studies more completely. I had charts and timed my days exactly and pushed myself so hard and it worked.

Starvation changes your brain. Your thinking becomes more rigid. You get rid of all that extra stuff like feelings and urges because you simply don’t have the calories spare to power those parts of the brain. For me, I ended up incredibly tidy, obsessive, organised, ruled by routines and focused. All the impulsive, emotional stuff got under control. I liked that I wasn’t that person anymore. I found a journal from my first year the other day and it’s mostly writing about how the Boy is cheating on me/leaving me/hates me/in love with someone else, how I hate myself/my friends/my location/my behaviour and suicide plans. I was so happy when I stopped being that. I got comfy with the boy, felt ok about myself as I was more comfy in my skin and engaged with the world. This all made me a lot less frantic and study easier to settle into.

I thought I got there with age and experience. In hindsight, I’d put more of it on starvation. Especially as it’s all come rushing back in the last few months, which has left me without the ability to control my emotional responses for long enough to study at the right level to actually complete my MA and it’s scary because I’m not sure I actually have a dissertation in me without starvation, let alone a PhD (though to be honest, I’m not sure I even want that anymore).

I really miss the ability to focus and the organisation I got out of starvation. The thing is though, it doesn’t last. It eventually leads to a complete loss of academic ability as you cannot do anything at all but organise food and organise thoughts of food and organise meal plans and calculate weight. At that point for me, my body was kinda done and I hardly got out of bed unless it was to clean or walk. I’d daydream about the merits of one type of food over another. It was a bad scene. You can’t work, you can’t get to uni, you can’t concentrate. The only thing in the world is food and you’re too weak to do anything. It sucks and study suffers until it becomes impossible. It’s not a permanent solution. You can drag out the positives of starvation for a long time if you’re lucky, but you can’t control it so you don’t get to decide how it plays out. It’s not worth it because it doesn’t work.

Now I’ve just got bare emotions and an inability to focus or concentrate whilst trying to complete the most important assessment of my academic life so far and it all feels impossible. I just wish I was more in control again, but that control was never me really. If I’m going to do this dissertation, I’m going to have to start over and find a new way to keep myself in check. One that doesn’t involve causing me any harm. With that in mind, I went to the mentor.

I think this mentor thing might be a great idea in general. Once a week I get a confidential meeting with this lovely lady who talks through my working week with me and helps me find ways to manage my work load. Because I’m classed as mentally ill, the mentor I’ve been allocated is an ex mental health nurse so she’s kinda clued how to act with me. Apparently my circumstances are “extremely extenuating” so she feels I should defer my assessment and take it incredibly slowly. The most important thing right now is to stay safe and well. We’re literally starting at a few pages of reading a day and seeing how that goes. She doesn’t want me to work myself up into a stress, plus the diazepam makes me really tired in the afternoons so I only really have half a day to work in. I think it’s pretty nifty though. Maybe she’ll be able to help me find successful ways to find focus as well as just keeping me on track. We’ll see I guess.

Today has been a bad day. I had yoga and that was good, but I spent most of the day feeling really sick and lying down. Lucky for me I have a puppy to make me feel better, but I wound up feeling really shit. I let myself wallow then wound up caught up in a serious thought spiral. I duno. Lucky for me I have therapy tomorrow. I’m actually fucking terrified of therapy tomorrow, but hopefully it’ll help me as I’ve seriously fucked up today. Ack! We’ll see I guess.

Everything is always “we’ll see.” Nothing is known. It’s completely annoying.

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2 Comments

Filed under eating disorder, recovery, university

2 responses to “mentor.

  1. “It’s surprising I even got through my A-levels as I spent a lot of my study leave high or depressed and don’t think I really revised, coursework the day before the deadline etc”
    That’s exactly what I did. I was far too busy being drunk/manic/depressed to do any of it, in fact, one of my teachers chased me down the corridor wanting my coursework the day before it was due in once. I didn’t like her though so didn’t care so much. I thought, “stuff it, it’s not like anything really matters”.
    “chaotic, impulsive and emotional.” Yes, yes and yes, that’s sometimes why I think I stayed in my ED for so long, because it did allow me to be more controlled/restrained/organised and most importantly, productive towards study. It’s weird because every time my restriction got worse, my aims for my life were always study orientated. Also, I didn’t have to worry about love/lust/womanly needs or crap getting in my way either, because I was incapable of it, well not incapable, but it didn’t take over my brain like I remember it did. I’m lately beginning to feel things so extreme like I did before, and it does make “wanting control” extremely attractive. Not even for the “I feel fat” thing, but for the “I want to be super humanly organised and goal orientated” thing.

    The mentor sounds like a good idea indeed. I had one for my OU course, and she was cool as penguins. If I was struggling or whatever, I could ring her up and say so, and had my tutors email etc.
    They are particularly good when it comes to any sort of exam/assessment and you can apply for “extenuating circumstance” stuff that allows them to take merit of all your work, not just your final piece.
    I like that you have a mentor, I think that’s aces. They gave me study tips, like writing in different colours, and even on different coloured paper (Everyones brain has a different colour that it likes best) to help with cognitive function, and how to stick to study schedules (except those times when you really cant) so yeah, it’ll be good. But don’t worry about asking for help if you need it. I remember thinking, “I have help, but I don’t want to ask for it cuz she’s gonna think I’m totally dumb and wonder why I’m doing this course”. Yeah, don’t do that.
    This ends my super long comment, and hope that you are feeling better soon lovely.
    xxxx

  2. Meg

    Having a mentor sounds like such a good idea, I’m glad Unis are aware of MH issues generally and are willing to support, that’s nice to hear.

    Don’t think that because you succeeded with your academic work when you were restricting that you won’t continue to do so now you are eating better. I know thoughts/feelings/ickyness appear now but you are finding ways to cope with these. Your mentor will help keep you grounded with your work, prioritising and making sure you don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

    I think you’re super strong to be heading back to Uni, don’t think too far ahead in terms of Phd etc, just concentrate on the here and now xx

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