So far this blog has been really focused on the practicalities of my every day existence and the ways in which anorexia and recovery and such affect my life. I’ve been trying to show some of you where I’m at and what my focuses are in the hope that when I see you again there won’t be such a jolt. People are still really difficult for me, but you’re all really good friends and I don’t want to lose touch. Today though, I’m going to talk about something different. My focus so far has been solely about how I’m eating. This will be about how I am. I’m going to put a lot of basic stuff in this so if you know it, I’m sorry for being patronising. I’m just not really sure what people know and don’t know, so it’s going to be broad. I really really need someone to talk to right now as I feel like my head is going to explode – I’m home alone but I can’t call anyone. Chances are if I did call anyone I’d just be really short and irritated with them as I wouldn’t know how to act or what to say. I don’t know whether I’ll post this. I really need to vent. I really need a friend. Who knew I’d be one of those stupid people who just blogs in tears like some emotional disaster? Ergh. Sorry for being emo, but this will be an emo post. Sorry for being a massive downer on life. My posts won’t always be like this. I’ll be more up beat next time – I promise.
Today has been a disaster. It’s 18:40 and I’m eating my morning snack. The family has gone and they are my main support so I’ve been alone all day. I woke up intending to have breakfast at nine, but being me about things I pushed it back till ten. Then the dog (being old) had pissed and shit all over the place so I had to clean it all and wash a lot. Breakfast didn’t happen till eleven. After that I had literally no time until therapy, so I was in a mad rush and didn’t have time for anything. Therapy is hard. I guess it was a good session but at the same time, it leaves me feeling so broken. Every week I come away feeling like all of this is so much deeper than my actions. It’s a part of who I am. Part of my “core” to use a therapy term. Needless to say, with no one here and even more dog rubbish to clean up when I got home – eating has been hard.
I don’t know how it is for everyone, but for me, my eating disorder really isn’t about food. I think some of you know that I suffered from severe depression about four/five years ago. I couldn’t even leave my bed and spent all day crying. I ended up on anti-depressants for a year and managed to live a normal existence, but didn’t deal with anything that had made me feel that way. In that year I also put on weight. When I stopped taking them (with no consultation or medical advice), I quickly became obsessed with my body, food and weight. Just to throw some biology in – people on the restrictive eating spectrum of mental health problems tend to be genetically predisposed to respond to stress by restrictive eating patterns. Other people respond through over-eating and some have no food based response at all, but everyone fits into one of these categories. I still had a lot of stress and problems which I’d been ignoring and had thought had gone away. Within about a month of being off of my anti-depressants, I began dieting in the extreme and excessively exercising I used my body and diet as a way to respond to all the things that made me hurt. It gave me a focus so I could continue to ignore everything else. I lost my period within a couple of months of this, though I was still a healthy weight. My body was starving and was below it’s set point so stopped functioning properly.
Needless to say, I lost a lot of weight really quickly and got a lot of compliments. I’d worked hard and finally I felt as if I was able to achieve something. Something I had done felt like it had a positive outcome. I could finally do something right. I could lose weight right. Slowly but surely, it crept further and further in, giving me a purpose. Sadly, losing weight still feels like my purpose. Eating disorders take everything away. They take your hurting and hide it away – you have more important things to achieve. The thing is, they take everything else too. Everything I enjoyed disappeared, I stopped being comfortable with people, I lost the boy, I can’t even watch t.v. without obsessing about food and weight – there really is just no time or space for anything else. I literally sat in my room alone, waiting till it was ok to eat or at the gym or on my exercise bike. If I couldn’t be the perfect person or have the perfect face, I could at least have the perfect body. That became my life, and still is. I desperately want to care about other things more than this. I want to care about the people in my life, my future or even just the general state of the world. I just can’t though. It’s partly why I stay away from people – people expect you to have more to say, people expect you to eat or drink socially, people might change your routines. It was ok though because I didn’t have to see people – I could see them when I was done, when I had reached my goal weight. People couldn’t jeopardise the ultimate goal. Sadly, you can never reach that goal as for your eating disorder, you could always go further – once you reach it you realise it was never enough. You become numb to the world, but that numbness is safe as you don’t have to deal with anything hard.
This might all sound ridiculous, but it’s not all bad. There are moments when I am so happy because of this disorder. When my clothes get looser or I fit a smaller size or I’m the thinnest person there or I’ve eating under my usual calorie allowance or I’ve lost weight – in these moments I am literally ecstatic and I’m not sure anything will ever make me that happy again. But it is only for a moment, because it isn’t enough. “Tomorrow I will eat less/exercise more/I will try to get into a smaller size.” Those moments are quickly overshadowed by the fact that it’s still not enough. My skin dried out, I looked so tired, I had no energy, I cried all the time, my hair fell out, I got pressure sores from sitting down, it hurt to walk or go upstairs, my resting heart rate dropped to 41 b.p.m. but it still wasn’t enough.
I looked for treatment, wanting to be better, wanting to get out of this, but even once I got it, I still couldn’t stop myself from listening to my disorder. My weight plummeted at the beginning of treatment till I became critically underweight and threatened with hospital. The threat was the only thing that got me to eat again as I figured I’d just be forced to eat there, so if I’m going to have to eat, I want to have control over what it is. Even then, it took me weeks to actually reach my calorie goals. The problem is, all this stuff is still here and every time I eat, I feel like I’m letting myself down. I’m gaining weight right now, but yet the desire to be small still takes over my life.
But then there are moments when there are other things now. Little moments here and there. Sometimes they are good moments where I get a little spark of what I used to have. However, therapy really brings home the fact that a lot of these moments are painful and hard and all the things I’ve been using anorexia to avoid. I can ignore the depression but it never goes away. Regardless of whether I’m eating or not, I’ll never be enough. Something inside of me is inately wrong and I can try to fix it but it’ll just be broken forever. All I can ever do is hide who I am and hope that no one ever notices all the wrong. I’m ashamed of who I am. God, I can’t even talk to my therapist without feeling so embarrassed and ashamed at how I think, speak and feel. Talking to people gives me panic attacks as I’m just so inadequate. Another reason for the avoidance. All of this stuff is just flooding back in and I’m really struggling. Right now I’m just trying to keep my head above water. Therapy really brings all this stuff up. Depression is a bitch.
So now, my minds in pieces. A huge part of me is screaming to restrict and just not eat. No one would even know. It’d make life easier, quieter. At least for now. And that would be easy because then all the hard stuff goes away and gets replaced with the numbness and fog of restriction. Thing is, the easy will kill me if I let it. Eating disorders have the highest death rate amongst all mental health issues. I have to do the hard thing. I have to sit with these horrible emotions and eat through them, knowing that as I continue to do this, the hurt will only get stronger.
The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that I don’t want my newly established metabolism to drop. If it drops I’ll inevitably have to go through all the pain and discomfort of rapid water weight gain, extreme bloating and painfully slow digestion again. If I restrict, it starts all over again, or I let it take over until there’s nothing left of me.
But then every time I eat, I feel like a fraud. I feel like I can’t really be sick because if I was really mentally ill I wouldn’t eat at all. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m just wasting NHS time and money for nothing. There was never anything wrong in the first place. It’s all just a massive fuss over nothing and I was never in danger and I was never that underweight and there are so many worse off people than me. I would be fine if I lost all this new-found weight and then a little more and I wouldn’t be in any physical danger. Everyone is just being way too extreme. Then I remember that one of the symptoms of anorexia is denial (it’s even hard for me to type/write/say eating disorder or anorexia or mental illness – I tend to call it my “food issues”. Trying to get over that though). Then I get confused and my mind hurts and I end up still feeling like a fraud, but going through the motions.
But yet people keep telling me I’m doing well. Really I’m just falling apart. I have to hide that from them though. The famo are so proud, I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want them to know that I’m failing. So I put on a happy face and pretend I’m taking this all in my stride. At least I have the energy to put on a happy face now though.
So yeah, I’m a mess right now and really need some support. I really didn’t want this to be patronising I just wanted you to get that this is a lot more difficult than just eating more or eating less. It’s not even about food or weight – they are just displacement activities. I get so angry when people treat me as if this is just some simple bloody choice and that some how this is all my fault for being “silly”. This really isn’t my fault and I didn’t choose this. It’s a fucking complex mental health problem. I don’t want this. Why would I choose this? (Sorry, rant over. Again, bad few days as you can imagine). I’m worried I can never be fixed. Therapy makes you notice a lot of things and I’m realising that really, I’m the same emotional disaster I’ve been since I was a teen, I just found a new way to deal with it. I’ve had all this within me for so long I don’t think it can ever go. My eating disorder just fed off what was already there. I am inately wrong and I can never be enough. I don’t know how this can ever go away. All I know is that I desperately want rid of all of this. I want rid of all my mental health problems so I can be happy and normal and relaxed. What makes it difficult is that I just can’t see how things could be different. All of this is just me. It makes sense to think and act the way I do (even though it doesn’t) because these are the things I do. This is who I am. Who will I be if I’m not thin? It’s not like I had anything before anorexia. My eating disorder gave me something. It gave me the identity and purpose I lack. Being thin is all I have. I’m working my hardest to get rid of the only thing I am. I’m actively trying to lose myself and it’s so hard to give up. Without this, I have nothing. My eating disorder made sure of that.
But I keep eating anyway and every single mouthful is hard. And if it’s not hard, I make it hard because if eating is easy then I’m failing. I’ve got some baked tofu marinating in the fridge right now so hopefully I’ll manage dinner. Stir-fry isn’t too scary. In fact, stir-fry is pretty safe for me. Here’s hoping.
Needless to say, I feel fat. Help. :(