What Are Your Warning Signs?

Mondays are therapy days. The one guaranteed day each week that I drag my exhausted, sore body (thanks ME/CFS) out of bed, and out of the house. Today was no exception.

I spent my time in the waiting room chatting to a friend on Facebook. I hadn’t given the upcoming session much thought. Things seemed fairly on track. Stable mood, no suicidal ideation, no self-harm, eating enough, and generally coping. Plus allowing more internal communication and switching.

One hour later, and I had a completely different perspective. My psychologist did a very good job of pointing out the warning signs I hadn’t yet seen, and expressed her concern for the behaviours I’m engaging in.

It’s made me think about the relapse prevention work we did in group whilst in hospital earlier this year. In one group session we had to identify relapse warning signs, and work on strategies to prevent. I dutifully filled in the worksheet and participated in the group discussion. When I came home the worksheet went away, and I haven’t thought about it since.

However, I do know my warning signs. It’s just that this time I’d forgotten to keep an eye out for them. This isn’t a complete list, but these are some of my warning signs.

Eating Disorder
Increased concern and worry about body shape, size, and weight.
Avoiding or restricting specific foods or food groups.
Significantly reducing portion sizes.
Swapping meals for low calorie protein shakes.
Skipping meals.
Ignoring hunger.
Using fibre supplements to avoid eating.
Abusing laxatives.
Bingeing.

Depression
Decrease in social activities.
Decrease in enjoyable activities.
Failing to see the point in engaging in the above activities.
Feeling like there’s no point to life.
Feeling hopeless.
Not seeing a future for myself.
Feeling like a failure.

Hypomania
Increase in enjoyable activities.
Talking more quickly.
Multi-tasking to the extreme.
Starting new creative projects.
Laughing much more than usual.
Swearing a lot more than usual.
The urge to buy things, or actually buying many, many new things.

Dissociation
Increased switching and associated memory loss.
Losing chunks of time (more than several hours).
Increased occurrence of flashbacks and body memories.
Difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Knowing the warning signs isn’t enough to prevent a relapse into unhelpful behaviours. Being aware of them, or having others point them out to you certainly helps, but it’s not enough on it’s own. Awareness is only the first part of preventing a relapse.

My task for the week is to work on tackling some of the symptoms that make up my Eating Disorder warning signs. I haven’t relapsed. This is about staying on track and preventing a relapse. I’ve been warned by my psychologist that a relapse will only lead to another hospital admission. Having already spent 7 weeks in hospital this year, another admission is the last thing I want.

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