Recently, I feel like I’ve been making a decent amount of progress in my recovery. I don’t by any means feel like this is all fixed, but I think I’m doing ok and that parts of me are starting to get fixed. I feel like I’m starting to get the pay off for all this painful work I’ve been doing and it’s quite nice really. It does get less hard and less painful and sometimes you really notice.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s always easy now because it’s not. Although this isn’t exactly positive news, I think it kinda is. If it wasn’t for the times which make you want to curl up and die then you wouldn’t be able to see what aspects of recovery need more work. The psychologist wants me to be working on three issues with him – food, body image and self-esteem. Sometimes I think all of this is unnecessary because I’m obviously well now, but I guess the past few days have really highlighted some problems for me.
Yesterday was one of those days. It started badly and only continued that way I guess. Yoga was fully booked so my usual Sunday exercise wasn’t available to me, so the slow build of freaking out started. I decided pretty early on I was going to walk and did a little brisk walking almost straight away to make sure I was getting some in, but it didn’t feel like enough. Thankfully (or not. I duno really), a few of my friends were meeting for sunny times wine on the flats (for those of you without East London geography knowledge, the flats are like a huge bit of flat grassland in a part of Epping Forest which reaches into London) so I figured I could walk there and back to get in some more walking so I would be at least close to two hours for the day. I really know that my attitude here is not good, not by any means. I mean, I could easily get a bus there from outside my house, but I knew I wouldn’t go if I didn’t walk because I’d have to walk regardless, so it was either walk there or not go so I could walk somewhere else (I cannot stress how much I know I have to work on this, but it just seems to be something I cannot do).
The problem with this is that the flats terrifies me. In my mind (and I also think this is actually true), any patch of green land in East London is pretty dangerous as they are prime places for attack. This is the PTSD speaking I know because I used to be totally fine with it, but these days I can’t step into Epping Forest alone without major panic and anxiety, so I avoid it. I love Epping Forest, but I’ve lost all my confidence within it. I can’t run there anymore, so any running I do has to be on streets only, I can’t go sit and read there in the sun, I can’t take shortcuts through it. The whole thing is too scary, even in the daylight.
But yesterday, anorexia trumped PTSD and I walked across the flats. My heart was racing, my head was spinning, my body tensed up, I practically ran across them, I blasted my happy playlist as loud as possible and I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. I felt physically sick the whole time but I did it. Part of me is proud because I challenged my avoidance and felt like I was reclaiming a bit of my life, part of me feels stupid because I let the urge to exercise push me to do something I hate and found kinda traumatic. It was horrible in every way, but I managed it. I don’t really know how to feel about it. At least I had someone to walk me home though, so I didn’t have to go through the panic twice. I’ve done this sort of thing before though. I’ve gone walking in the dark because I haven’t walked at all that day in an effort to stay sedentary and ended up walking and crying and struggling to breathe. It’s ridiculous really, but I cannot tell if it’s good or bad for me. I feel like I’m just lining myself up to get hurt every time I do it and I feel like an idiot, but at least I walked.
I don’t really talk to my team about the walking issue. I probably should. It’s getting ridiculous. My feet and legs ache constantly because of the amount I’m doing everyday. And it’s building up slowly. Over time, it’s gone from a minimum of one hour, to a minimum of two and right now, it’s definitely closer to three on most days, if not more. I think my recent record is more like five. I’m literally wasting hours of my life away, but it doesn’t feel like exercise, so it never feels like enough. At least when I was really going for the calorie burn, there was a point where I felt like I’d done enough (albeit after more exercise than can possibly be good for you), but now I’ve never done enough. There’s always room for more walking because it’s not exercise so it doesn’t really count. The amount of time spent walking is pretty close to the amount of exercise I was doing in the depths of anorexia, but the intensity is so different that it doesn’t feel like it’s an issue. But it is exercise and it is an issue and I’m being an idiot.
On top of the stupid exercise thing, the social anxiety started to creep in whilst I was with my friends. I have mad paranoia about my voice. I hate it so much that it makes me want to cry. Yesterday was one of those days when my voice becomes something I fixate on then find talking something to be ashamed of. It built and built until I just wanted to stop all together. I don’t know if it’s noticeable when this starts happening to other people, but I notice the changes in myself. My voice starts to shift. It gets quieter, my answers shorter, my pitch higher, I start to lose my ability to articulate coherent sentences and instead chose to mumble key words in an effort to make my voice something less offensive. I’m still feeling the effects of this particular instance so I found it impossible to call my GP surgery today even though I need to get a repeat prescription.
I don’t really know how social anxiety works for most people, but for me, it goes one of two ways. Sometimes, I just don’t talk. I get twitchy and start fidgeting because I’m so tense, I can’t look anyone in the eye and I get painfully self-conscious and uncomfortable. Route two is the polar opposite. I start to dissociate from the situation and lose all control, so end up overcompensating for my anxiety by blabbering a lot and saying things I really shouldn’t, getting embarrassed and feeling like an idiot, which I then beat myself up for over the course of days. Yesterday was route two. I’m ashamed of myself for speaking at all. I shouldn’t have gone because everyone will think I’m an idiot.
Body image is also causing a problem. I know a lot of people with eating disorders don’t have the stereotypical body image problems, but I really do. I started dieting because I hate my body. I continued dieting because I continued to hate my body. I ended up severely ill because I hate my body. I don’t want to simplify it for those of you that don’t know much about eating disorders because there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s not some sort of vanity project spurred on by desire to look like great or anything as current research indicates that there are a lot of physiological adjustments within the brain caused by genetic bad luck and stimulated by starvation itself. For me, starvation makes me less anxious, helps detract from my depressive tendencies and makes some of the more distressing PTSD symptoms more manageable, but I narrate it all in terms of my body. It stopped being something I could just stop easily because eating led to fear, anxiety and panic. I wasn’t in control at all, but this fear and anxiety and panic was all directed towards my body image.
I feel like I’m genetically unlucky. I read about a lot of people with anorexia being naturally small and recovering to lovely, feminine bodies. I’m not like that. Like really not. I’ve never been small naturally. It’s hard work for me to be small. I had to really bloody try to even get my bmi to 20. I don’t have a nice figure and never have. I think it’s actually impossible for me to. I looked awful whilst underweight, but I didn’t look better at a healthy weight. I have always held my fat in bad places. I don’t get a waist, hips, a bum or breast. I have belly and thigh and that’s about it. Even when I was overweight, I never really got out of an A cup, so chances are I never will. The refeeding body is my natural body shape and I don’t think it’ll improve with time like it does for most people. I’ve always been this shape, whatever size or weight I am. I will always be this shape and there’s nothing I can do about it. Dumpy and boyish. I read about how people are so upset during early refeeding that their stomachs stick out more than their breast. Well mine always does, regardless of weight. I hate it and it makes me cry. I promised myself that I’d never let it get so bad again when I initially started to lose weight, and I’m back there now. My body does start to even out when I’m at really low weights. I look disgusting but at least I’m more even. I don’t want anyone to see me now. To be healthy, I have to go back to the thing I hate and have hated for as long as I can remember. I would fantasise about cutting my belly off with scissors during childhood, in my teens I’d dream of getting exotic diseases that’d put me in hospital because I just couldn’t eat and would get such a high temperature I’d be burning all my fat so I could come out and everyone would be amazed because I was small. There is nothing I can do to make my body something I find acceptable. It’s genetically rubbish. To be healthy, I have to be the body I find repulsive.
Then there’s the lingering food issues. I’m eating a whole load I know, but I’m not feeling quite so comfortable with it right now. I’m eating through it, but I’m struggling. Today, I didn’t weigh my cereal for the first time in about two years. It was terrifying and made me feel sick because I’m sure I had more than my acceptable amount. It was horrible, painful and has made me feel bloody disgusting. I feel like I’m eating disgusting amounts of everything bad right now. Too much cake and too much fat and too much chocolate and too much processed food and too many unknown calories and it’s in my mind all the time and I’m beginning to really hurt because of it. I hate eating like this. I don’t feel like I’m being healthy anymore. Argh. As I write this, I’m starving hungry and my belly aches, but I still don’t want to eat yet as I don’t think there’s been enough time between now and my last eat so I’ll just sit and ache and feel like I’m in control of my food intake. Even though it doesn’t really matter if I do or don’t in the long run because I’ll eat a lot today regardless then feel out of control and disgusting anyway.
Last night I just cried and cried like a moron. It’s all too much sometimes.
So now it’s all building up and I’m getting close (yet again) to deciding to hide away. I don’t want to speak to anyone. I don’t want to see anyone. I feel disgusting physically, I feel like an idiot when communicating with people. I just want to hide away in a tiny hole and never see anyone ever again. One of my bezzies is hosting a dinner party tonight, but I can’t go because they’ll be dinner and people and I’ll be expected to talk so people will physically hear me and I’ll say things that make people judge me and they’ll see me and know I’m disgusting and I’m not good enough for them. So tonight, I’m going to sit at home and probably have a rubbish time, but I just can’t be around people who are so much better than I am. I can’t continually put myself in situations where I feel like the perpetual other. I’m never the fun one or the pretty one or the interesting one or anything. I’m the other one. I’m the friend of the good ones, never the good one itself. And I don’t want to be that right now. Sometimes I think it’s better to stay out of people’s way and let them get on with being better than me without bringing them down.
All the things the psychologist wants me to work on definitely still need more work. I still think it’s better now than it was before, but I don’t think this is actually all ok now.
I’ll probably get through this mood in a few days. I just wanted to moan. So here’s my moan.