25 Ideas To Break The Bell Jar

Incidentally, I like to read the Bell Jar when I am sad. Today was a day in which I wanted to stay in bed (my mother forced me up at 1pm), mope, do nothing, and repeat as needed. So the following is a list of things I do (or at least think about doing) when I feel like the world is closing in around me and there is no air available. Following on from yesterday’s post, it is so much easier to break these spells if you are aware of the patterns your mind follows in the first descent. This takes a lot of time and work and therapy, but you’ll get there x

Practical ideas

1. Shower. Wash away the unpleasantness. Dissolve yourself in just-too-hot water. Water helps.

2. Set an alarm that is out of reach from your bed. This requires you knowing you will not want to get out of bed, but it means you have to get up to shut it up or someone else in the house will get pissed off enough to force you to get up a la my mother, which at the time seems crappy, but in retrospect is great.

3. Make a list. Sometimes I make a list and do absolutely nothing on it. But I feel productive for having made it. Sometimes I make a list of really basic things, like: tidy room, wash self, empty dishwasher, read 5 pages of a book. Ticking things off makes me feel less like a lazy mess, and more like a legitimate human.

4. Play music. Whether this means listening to it or playing it yourself, play it loud and unapologetically. Be emotional. Be silly. Be overly dramatic. Fuck everything. Follow the rhythm.

5. Make sure that you have taken all required medication. Whether this be your anxiolytics, anti-depressants, heart meds, thyroxine, or just your b complex vitamins, take your damn pills.

Hard to start but good to finish

6. Exercise. I know, it sucks. But but but. The endorphins will improve your mood PLUS you feel productive PLUS your body is moving which is good for your health PLUS its a distraction from your thoughts. When I’m super not motivated, I do low impact things like light cardio, walking or yoga. And I pump up the emo tunes and have at it.

7. Look up vague future unplanned plans on the internet. I look up grad school courses and visas to foreign lands, knowing full well that I have neither the means nor the qualifications to do it right now. But it gives me some gist of what might maybe could happen in a few years.

8. Do a 20:10, a la Unfuck Your Habitat. Or do 5:10. Or just pick up your dirty underwear and put it in the wash. Baby steps if you have to.

9. Leave the house. Even if its just for five minutes to walk to Centra to buy toilet paper. The air will do you good. The reminder that people exist will do you good.

10. Talk to someone. Call a friend. Sit down with your mom. Write a blog. HUMAN CONTACT. It’s a scary awful sounding thing, horrible to initiate, worse to maintain, but at the end of the day, there is not beating the support and love of other people.

Avoiding maladaptive coping mechanisms

11. Make rules to avoid the practice. If this means you set a timer for an hour (or longer) before you can engage or you need to attempt x amounts of alternatives before you can use your coping mechanism, try and put something in place to give yourself time to consider the consequences of what you are going to do. For me this looks like: 1. Ciara asking me am I sure I want a drink (often the answer is no). 2. Sitting for half an hour before eating more chocolate (Still a work in progress). 3. Telling someone I feel sick and that I’m upset before purging (which leads to no purging).

12. Use distraction techniques. This is the least useful for me, but others find it fantastic. Leaving the house is possibly the only distraction that works for me. That and college deadlines. If you need something to do with your hands, crafting (especially knitting or crochet) is a great occupier.

13. Make up a similar (but less harmful) alternative. I binge on tea instead of chocolate. I know people who draw scars in sharpies instead of blades. My doctor advised me to snap an elastic band against my wrist whenever I had negative thoughts about my body.

14. Blog. Or go on Tumblr and look at funny stuff and kittens. There are other websites with funny stuff and kittens but on Tumblr you can block certain tags and avoid potential triggers. Huzzah!

15. (Warning: Shameless self plug) Reasons To Not Kill Yourself

Ways to pass the time (when it feels like the day is never going to end)

16. Play Candy Crush. It’s mindless and colourful and you’ll run out of lives within 15 mins so it is not a complete waste of your time.

17. Watch anime. You literally cannot be sad watching Ouran High School Host Club.

18. Listen to Welcome to Night Vale. Its 20 minutes of your life and you will have emotions (mainly positive) at this beautifully surreal podcast.

19. Learn a language. I get these fegaeries to improve my french every now and then, and Duolingo is a super cute way to do it, with sounds and pictures and affirmative ding when you get an answer right.

Nice apps for not-so-nice moods

20. SAM. Its cute, its easy to use, and if (like me), you deal with panic attacks and anxiety, its super useful.

21. Dumb Ways to Die. Its a silly game to make you laugh plus you’ll learn about train safety.

Things to read

22. Hyperbole and a half. If you ever want someone to accurately describe depression in a series of cartoons, this is the website to go to. Just trust me. Just read it. Just go.

23. The Bible (or whatever religious text goes with your beliefs). I find hope and truth and purpose in Scripture. It is a source of good in my life, and there are certainly days when I don’t want to read the Bible, but on those days I want to want to read the Bible. So I pray for the will, for the courage, and know that this too shall pass. If you want to read the Bible but don’t own one, YouVersion is a lovely app. That is also free.

24. I read the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath because I am a giant stereotype but also because I love it. I love how it so accurately describes how I feel when I feel trapped by the world, I love how much I can empathise with the main character, and I love that it ends with hope.

25. Andrew’s recommendation (and I quote): “Atlas Shrugged to remind me of the power of free market capitalism”


Things I Like

In following with Fran and Brian, here are some things I like. I was nursing a funky mood all last week, which had a lot to do with the flashbacks and anxiety that I mentioned on Tuesday, so I think it is good to focus on what I have to be grateful in my life and appreciate the ability to come out of the doom and gloom.

Things I Like

  • My dad and his ability to free me from the leather jacket that I got trapped in
  • Andrew and his ability to fix my panic attacks
  • Les Mis. All of the feels.
  • Warm woolly tights
  • Neil Patrick Harris
  • Having conversations about knitting with my nana
  • Fluid dancing. I am sexuality. I am gender. I am river. *Spoilers*
  • Stir fry dinners
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (courtesy of Project Free TV)
  • Giving injections
  • Blogging sometimes and not blogging other times
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Getting the opportunity to talk about bisexuality and queer issues on the radio, online, and in my college.
  • €2 books from O’ Mahoneys
  • Running in misty rain
  • Looking at Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman converse online
  • Comparing Doctor Who characters to people in my own life
  • Listening to the radio on the way to work
  • UL
  • Putting Malteasers into a container of popcorn
  • This post on Tumblr





my grandpa has a date tonight and hes really old and in a wheelchair and has to drag around this breathing machine but hes just sitting there waiting for the hospice shuttle to take him to pick up his date and he looks suPER EXCITED and its the cutest thing ive ever seen

update he came home and i asked him how it went and he said, “i should have taken an extra tank of oxygen because she took my BREATH AWAY”

A Song Story

3 months ago I met a boy. This song played and he kissed me.

We went on dates. We drove around in his car to this.

Sometimes we saw bands like these.

Other times we watched our friends play songs like this.

On his birthday, we sat in the stairwell of Bakers and I serenaded him with this.

Three months summed up in six songs. They were good songs.

Biting The Bullet

In my life thus far, I can firmly say that moderation and I do not mix. I have previously mentioned my tendency to be very all-or-nothing in my thinking – and my behaviour is generally not that different. When I was told to reduce wheat (I was on a wheat free diet for four years) and, later, caffeine (I was caffeine free for just over a year) the easiest thing for me to do was to abstain completely. One cup of coffee led to another and on slice of pizza led to six. A diet was a starve, an overeat was a 2 day binge and a workout session lasted until over 600 calories were burnt and in the end, this led to my own little brand of non-purging bulimia.

This attitude has its bright sides – I have a strong work ethic and tend to persist vigilantly with a task until I am satisfied it is of a high standard – but it means that the whole “a little everyday” motto doesn’t work for me.

I wrote in my resolutions that I wanted to forget fear. This initially came from the realisation that I tend to insult and mock the people I am starting to get close to – and that I do this as a defence mechanism – that I am afraid of being abandoned. When I got a-thinking, I realised another thing – I had long known that sugar is my downfall when it comes to food issues, but until now I had been too afraid to let this comfort go. Now I think I might just be able to kick the sweet tooth for good.

Sugar affects the same part of the brain as opiates do and in certain individuals can lead to an addiction of sorts. These people tend to be hyperglycaemic (blood sugar spikes,) be unable to stop eating once started and have poor sleep and sore throats on a regular basis. Ding ding ding, guess who has all three?

Today is the first time in over 6 years that I have gone 24 hours without eating anything containing sugar. My head hurts, I am a bit tired and lord knows that I may be an utter gowl for the next few days… But I have to do this if I am going to kick compulsive overeating. I gave up purging, I can give up sugar.

I just need to get my head in the game.


Taking More From Yoga

As it turns out, recovering from an eating disorder isn’t the same as recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism – all are soul sucking and difficult, but an ED presents itself with one subtle difference – abstinence is not an option. When your addiction is food, you can’t just stop eating and go about your day, you need to find a way to eat enough (but not too much,) be around food everyday without using it as a crutch or a coping mechanism, taken adequate exercise without feeding the obsession. But I didn’t need to tell you that.

It has been such a struggle to fight the compensatory behavior – the fasting, the compulsive exercise – that my general reaction was to do the exact opposite – binge eat and veg out on the couch. But this is still engaging in unhealthy habits and this is still not being kind to your body.

It is so hard to motivate myself to do the right thing sometimes – and when I do go to an extreme (either over-restriction or over-indulgence) I often find myself rationalizing my choices and chastising myself for what I have done, this has a negative effect on my emotions and boom: back to square one. On a really bad day, I start reminiscing and idealizing the old days when I exercised for at least an hour 6 days a week, all whilst slashing calories enormously. Luckily, most days I can avoid this. But I can’t bring myself to run everyday, I can’t make myself cycle and lift weights and do aerobics and go to the gym day in and day out.

Its not all doom and gloom. Once or twice a week, I go for a walk/run or do some kickboxing. And I can make myself do this because I promise myself that the others days I exercise, I can do yoga. I have said it so many times in the last year but yoga really is a lifesaver. Not only does it stretch out all the aches and pains and give you a workout without a heart attack (and therefore takes the dread out of it), yoga connects your mind and body and promotes harmony in one’s thoughts and actions.

The above is a bit of a cliche but I rediscovered this today during my morning’s yoga. Yoga instructors so often talk about focusing on the present and focusing on being rather than doing and it is something that I have always intellectually acknowledged. Today, however, something clicked. I was holding Utkatasana for a while and my shoulders were burning and my legs were feeling it and all I could think was “cue it over. Please.” And all of I sudden, I stopped fidgeting and detached. And then the pain was just over. The unpleasantness had just ended. It was the closest thing to a religious experience I have had in recent memory  – the Buddhist concept of separation from suffering came glaringly to mind.

Being aware of this ability to focus inwards and detach whilst on the mat is one thing. Now to apply that to everything else in my life.

Eating and Not Eating

I have lots of experience of eating. I also have plenty of experience not eating. Like all too many women can attest, this is the occupational hazard of the permanent diet.

Eventually time caught up with me and I was put on a road to set me straight, but how easy it was for me (and so many others) to be teetering along that edge of healthy living and disorder for so long. But we’ll talk about that another time.

For the past year, I have very slowly, not always successfully, been turning a hand at intuitive eating (eat when hungry, stop when full.) To be fair, I still binge a lot. I still occasionally make food plans and calorie allowances. And there are still foods I won’t eat. The difference this time is I am not avoiding to lose weight.

Becoming a Vegetarian

There is one substantial difference between giving up meat and giving up any other food, according to my diet at the time. I just do not desire eating animals. When I didn’t eat sugar or wheat or high fat foods, it wasn’t for my health or because I didn’t want them. It was because I was afraid of gaining an ounce.

Vegetarianism isn’t painful, depressing and difficult like dieting was. And I may not be ridiculously thin, but my body has never thanked me more.

Giving up meat has always been an option in my mind. When I was younger, I used to joke that I would go veg when I was living on my own to make washing the dishes less disgusting. At the age of 12, my then-best-friend constantly berated me to go veg and made me feel guilty about eating meat (even though she continued to eat it herself on the sly.) In college, I actually did give up most meat, but that was more to do with being economical (Quorn is a damn sight cheaper than a chicken fillet.) So what was the turning point for me?

In a way, I could say the Internet. A lot of healthy living bloggers and athletes I admire have long given up eating animals. A PETA video or two hardly upped my carniverous appetite. To be honest, I was eating very little red meat as it was. But then, the lovely Aimee decided to go vegan. And that inspired me – it showed me that someone my age could be a vegetarian for the right reasons, not as a fad or a way to lose weight, as I so commonly saw for so long. I saw that you could still eat healthily, that you could show your parents that a life without meat wasn’t the end of the world. Besides, what were they going to say? I was smart enough not to attempt another diet or try and lose weight in such a blatantly obvious way. So I hoped they would know it was for real.

I don’t miss meat, I shockingly don’t miss marshmallows and the symptoms of my digestive disorder have all but disappeared. I have opened myself up to a whole host of yummy new foods like quinoa, lentils, greek yogurt, tofu and millet, and I have plenty more in sight to try out. I have been shocked at finding out what has animal products in them (hello McDonalds fries.) And I have relearned the pain of “So, what do you eat?”
Sometimes its easier to just smile and nod along, knowing that I now eat better than I ever have, knowing that I am deciding what I eat, not ED.


I have lived a mere (almost) 19 years so far in my life. Those years have been ravaged with the ups and downs and inbetweens of being a kid, being a teenager and for the last few months, learning to be an adult. It should be said that my mother is absolutely amazing and shares many of the same attributes as my father, but sometimes it is all about being daddy’s little girl.

My dad is the person who let me sing into his microphone stand in the hall at two years of age, who played the guitar and taught me the words to “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and advised me to buy CDs over cassette tapes, seeing as I loved singing along with the leaflet words so much. These days, he is the one who lets me use all his hi-tech equipment without complaint, buys me business cards, and lets me sing my little heart out on stage without a second thought.

My dad is the person who shows us pictures from the 70s and 80s (courtesy of an old Dairy Milk Box,) introduced me to Duran Duran and Eurythmics by playing recorded radio shows in the car on the way to Spanish Point and Kilkee, regaled us with stories of interrailing and turnpike-jumping and recounted the wonders of the Acme Clothing Company.

My dad has only yelled at me like 4 times in my entire life (and in retrospect I totally deserved it.) He taught me the importanced of correctly folded towels and a well ironed shirt. I learned to respect a good work ethic and a broad (seemingly limitless) knowledge, and I strive to develop these things to even half the extent of him.

Because of him,  I have never felt bad about dressing differently, wanting a tattoo or staying home from Mass. Because of him, I felt no qualms about starting a blog. Whether it was seeing dressed like Freddie Mercury or his encouragement that I could sing “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” in a pub as a child, I have never felt fear or shame or embarrassment on stage.

When I was away, my Dad would bring himself and my mom the almost two hour trip down to my house when I called up in tears. He fully supported me the day he drove me home for good. Weeks later, when I just wanted to die, he hugged me and watched old movies about Jerome Kern until I felt ok.

My mom once told me that, when I was first born, my dad would just stare at me for hours, as if my existence were something completely amazing. But then, he’s that kind of person who makes you think that maybe existence can be amazing.