The de-escalation room has become a room I have spent many hours being restrained in. It’s a small room with a few soft chairs and that’s it. I just wanted to share what it feels like to be in that room.
It’s scary, suffocating, closed in. Utter panic runs through my veins and frustration bubbles, boils and overflows as the actions anorexia wants me to take are stopped forcibly. I want to cry and scream and shout and kick and sometimes I do. Overwhelming. Terrifying. Darker than dark. That’s what it feels like to be in there. Locked in.
But I understand it, I understand why I am there. It’s for my own safety and wellbeing I know but that doesn’t make it any easier especially when anorexia has taken over.
I’m in a scary place right now and de-escalation has become the place where I spend most my time. Sad really to think that life has come to this.
As cliche as this sounds, I can honestly say that I would not be alive if it weren’t for music. Music has got me through the good times, the bad times and everything in between. I will never forget getting up in my hotel room and listening to ‘I’m on top of the world’ by imagine dragons whilst getting dressed before my appearance on BBC Breakfast. I will never forget listening to Meatloaf in the car on the way to the airport before we flew to Rome. That’s the funny thing about songs they hold memories and that can be a double edged sword. Whenever I hear ‘moves like Jagger’ I am plunged head first into the memory of sitting in the lounge in a psychiatric hospital whilst a patient dances around the room. Hearing ‘cake by the ocean’ will always remind me of the cold,hard days spent in utter boredom in the secure unit. There are Ed Sheeran songs that remind me of ex partners and no matter how much I like Ed Sheeran, I cannot hear these songs without feeling like complete rubbish. Music can be therapy but there is also a danger of music being harmful to the mind so be careful.
So, music and recovery. I use music at the moment to get me through my feeds as I’m currently being treated for anorexia nervosa and am being fed through an NG tube. I have a specific playlist named ‘Feed’ which consists of:
- I’m yours-Alyssa Bernal
- Boom clap-Charli XCX
- Learn to live-Darius Rucker
- Starman-David Bowie
- Survivor-Destiny’s Child
- On top of the world-Imagine Dragons
- Cold in Ohio-Jamie Lawson
- Living in the moment-Jason Mraz
- Breathe in, breathe out, move on-Jimmy Buffet
- Little me-Little Mix
- Scare away the dark-Passenger
- Superheroes-The Script
- Let it go-Demi Lovato
- Heroes-David Bowie
- Chocolate-The 1975
- Love my life-Robbie Williams
All of these songs I either find relaxing, recovery focused, feel good or they hold positive memories. I find feeds really distressing and I know a lot of recovery can be distressing, that’s why in DBT there’s a whole module called ‘distress tolerance’. For me, music is my distress tolerance. ‘Cold in Ohio’ always relaxes me whilst ‘living in the moment’ reminds me of mindfulness. ‘On top of the world’ is a proper feel good song and also reminds me of the positive memory when I went on BBC Breakfast. ‘Little me’ gives me the reminder that I want to make 4 year old me proud. Maybe I won’t be able to listen to these songs again once all of this is over but for now they are getting me through and that’s what recovery is about, getting through.
Something I really struggle with is self-harming and self-destructive behaviours. There are times where I feel really upset either because something has happened or because mental illness is dragging me down and I don’t know what to do with myself. I can’t concentrate on television as a distraction. Going for a walk feels like too much because I want to hide away from the world and not feel exposed and then I end up feeling kind of stuck because I don’t know how to deal with how horrible I am feeling and I don’t know what to do with myself. This is where the self-soothe box comes in.
My self-soothe box is all about the five senses which are touch, taste, smell, sound and vision. The behaviours I engage in are strong behaviours and so the self-soothe box needs to contain things that have a strong impact on my senses. It isn’t about what you like or dislike or what is deemed cool or uncool. A self-soothe box is simply about what will help YOU when you are struggling.
So what have I got in my self-soothe box?
- A scented candle
- A stress ball
- Lip balm
- A colouring book
- Photographs of people who mean a lot to me
- A notebook
- Chalk and chalkboards
- Wool to make bracelets
Taste was a difficult one to include because having an eating disorder means that I don’t find taste very self-soothing but you could include mints or chewing gum. An extreme taste is pretty good to get the senses going so minty, sour or spicy food can be helpful but self-soothe is about what soothes you and if a bar of chocolate soothes you then put it in the box. Remember this is about YOU.
This is my self-soothe box: