This is going to be a reminiscing post. Not in a happy way, but because this is where I am right now.
This exact time last year, I was in my assessment for my EDU. It was my first appointment there. I was in such a different place. It’s so weird that I’ve been in treatment for a whole year. A year and I’m still not done. It’s getting really close to four years spent dealing with eating disorder business. I know that’s not as long as a lot of my readers, but it’s a bloody long time.
I was so scared about my assessment. I’d deliberately been more extremely restricting and losing weight more rapidly because I was terrified they’d think I’d been making it up and that there was nothing wrong with me. I hadn’t eaten that morning, but that was neither here not there as I wouldn’t start eating till very late in the day anyway, but the Pa had taken me and offered me a black coffee, which I had even though I knew it’d add to my weight, but I was exhausted and dehydrated (seeing as I won’t drink water before I’m weighed. I still can’t do this). I entirely expected them to laugh me out of the unit. I couldn’t really be sick – I wasn’t small enough and I ate too much food and I didn’t exercise as hard as other people. The coffee made me so anxious.
Obviously I was sick enough. Freezing cold, low heart rate, flaking skin, struggling to do normal, every day things like get up stairs or spend a day out or carry things, obsessed with food and weight, losing hair, completely isolated. It was really rubbish.
I had to take many layers of clothes off to be weighed because I was so cold, but they need the weight to be accurate. I had to take off jewellery, glasses, shoes and belt. I felt like the psychiatrist would be looking at me and thinking I was too fat to be there. I was so ashamed. Instead, she told me that I looked heartbreaking, saying “Sometimes you can’t tell, sometimes patients don’t look starved, but it’s incredibly obvious on you.” I wrote that in my journal because it made me feel small and that both made me feel successful, but also made me feel more justified in being there. I think she was probably right though – I’m not meant to be small. I’ve never been small. I am still small for my height and weight. She predicted that I’d be bigger than I am by now, but I think I’m pretty dense weight wise, being smaller than my BMI would suggest. I still think that and I do actually think I’d be healthier if I was bigger than I am right now, even though I’m maintaining.
She told me I had to start eating and not to wait till I see the dietetics team. She told me to have cereal with whole milk for breakfast, fruit for a snack, soup with a buttered sandwich with protein filling and full fat yogurt for lunch, cake and juice for snack, a full dinner plate with juice for dinner, pudding and custard for dessert and full fat, luxury type hot chocolate before bed. To be honest, I did actually try. I went away the next day to stay with famo friends and tried to follow this exactly. I didn’t count calories or measure things or anything. This lasted a couple of days then I was back to where I’d started. I didn’t know what time to eat and full fat foods made me feel physically disgusting. I could feel them on and under my skin. I was so angry about it all. I remember being on the phone to a friend talking about how “No one eats full fat dairy. It’s disgusting.” and how I didn’t need to be bigger and how it wasn’t fair.
I lost a lot more weight before I started gaining it back consistently.
I’m not typing this out purely because to be morbid, but because I actually need to remember this.
A couple of days ago, I was really stressed and upset. I’d eaten a muffin and in general, more than I thought was acceptable, I had been unable to sleep, I’d been triggered by another blogger who was still engaging in eating disordered behaviours (even though she’s having a shit time) and I was miserable about my face. I was convinced I’d gained weight lots of weight since my last weigh-in and that I looked awful, and I blamed recovery for my acne. I wrote this in a post, but didn’t publish it –
Honestly, I’m so large right now. It doesn’t matter if I’m not actually large, I’m largest I’ve been in so long that I’m physically unused to this much flesh. I doubt I walked enough to warrant a muffin. Muffins are only ok if you need to gain weight, not for those that are maintaining. And by maintaining, what I really mean is maintaining, but really could do with losing a few pounds. I’ve been eating too much. I think I’m gaining. No amount of yoga and walking today could get the buzz of anorexia out of my brain. I didn’t restrict, but I stuck with foods I knew wouldn’t be too much. Now I’m hungry, but I don’t care – I can have a coffee. My body is more capable, but mentally I feel weaker. I don’t think I look healthy. What a fucking joke. I look huge. And I pretend like people around me might think I look better and of course they’ll tell me I look better, but I know that they all think small is better anyway. And I definitely have friends much tinier than I am and they got to run and eat diet food and get positive attention. I was the smallest one. I was the one people congratulated. I’m jealous. And bitter.
I looked at pictures from my holiday last year. They made me cry, not because I was too small, but because I looked perfectly small and I didn’t know it. I fully believed I was fat, but I actually look lovely. So little. I desperately wish I looked like that now. No matter that I hated myself, was scared of food and thought I looked fat then. I didn’t look fat though. I’d fucking got there. I’d got to small. I was a size 0 for fuck’s sake. People want that so much. My face was still awful, but I didn’t have acne and my body looked lovely. Small and delicate and all the good things. My skin was clear. Recovery equals acne. Dieting equals clearest of clear skin. Even my face was actually better too.
What sucks the most is that tomorrow I will wake up and eat breakfast as usual, doing everything I can to never be small and lovely again. As much as I miss it all so much, the logic of eating disorders is so broken and wrong and I don’t even believe half of it. Except I do, but I know I shouldn’t.
It’s really easy to forget all the horrible aspects of restriction when you feel fat. Really easy. I read this now, and it all still feels true, expect it’s less pressing if that makes sense. It’s less pressing because actually, it’s not worth it. I don’t want to be where I was last year. I don’t want people to look at me and be sad. I don’t want to worry about how much weight I’ll gain from a cup of coffee. I don’t want to feel the fat in a yogurt sitting on my skin and crawling in my flesh (all delusional as this isn’t possible and I knew this, but I swear down I actually did physically feel it). I don’t want to have to wear so many layers in June. I don’t want to collapse from going up stairs. It’s not actually worth it. Even clear skin. I think it’s actually really difficult to remember what starvation is like because your brain is just so different. I’m really glad I have journals from that time. Really glad because they show just how awful it was.
I know the earlier posts in this blog can be crazy looking, but seriously, it’s so much better than it was a few months before. I have pages of journal wondering whether to eat something I’d portioned out because I was convinced my parents were adding fats to my food to make me fat. So convinced I’d throw the food out rather than eat it. I have a whole page dedicated to whether or not to eat two slices of bread. I was supposed to have it with soup and butter, but I’d already decided soup wasn’t happening and butter was out of the question. This was at 5pm in the afternoon and it was supposed to be lunch and it was all I could think about. I was writing how much I wanted the bread and how I was crying and how it was too much food because I’d already had Weetabix that day. There’s a good half page on how uncomfortable I am when packets of food are open and half eaten in the fridge. I liked food to be unopened or finished. I didn’t like in between. At one point in June last year I made the Pa walk me to Tesco at midnight because I’d eaten way less than I’d meant to and refused to eat anything in the house, so wanted to get cereal bars so I’d at least reach 1000kcals that day. The next day, I wrote how glad I was I didn’t push my calories up with cake or chocolate. And this is all after treatment began.
It’s really easy to forget feeling this way. Every journal started with “Weighed XXlb today. Ate XXXkcals. Good/bad day. Do better tomorrow though.” Almost every single day for over a year I have a record of my weight to the decimal point and a record of calories to the exact number. I didn’t round or estimate. I have about 6 pages on exactly how I could make people believe I was eating what I was told whilst not eating it, followed by being confused as to why I wanted to do this and crying because I didn’t know if I was only cheating myself or whether it was actually sneaky and I would benefit from tricking my team. I wrote a list of “Good Things” and genuinely, the top of the list was more accurate food scales. It’s actually so upsetting to read it all because it’s tragic to me that it was really what worried me and what made me happy and all I had. Literally everything. And what’s most tragic is that I’ll be celebrating restriction and weight loss, worrying that I collapsed, desperately wanting to be well, crying because all I can think about is roast dinner and wishing I could exist on nothing all in the same entry. I wanted desperately to be different, but had so many conflicted thoughts.
So next time I want to be small again, I think I should spend a little more time actually thinking about it. I hated it. I talk about how I don’t feel better right now and emotionally, I don’t think I do, but my life is so much better than that. With all the difficulties and generally hating myself I have, it’s so much better. I may have gained weight, but I didn’t balloon uncontrollable or eat and eat forever like I thought I would, and now I’m able to eat and maintain a healthy weight and I’m not critically sick anymore. It’s so much better than this –
“Cakes are something I love. I should eat more cakes. Baked goods and desserts are so so tasty. However, if I eat them I always have to factor it in or purge. I can allow myself a cake if I don’t have any other lunch and dinner is 150kcals or under. I still feel fat, but because it fits I can deal with it. It’s not worth it really because I’ll probably get hungry, but I do like cake that much. Unlike other fats which bulk out and calorify my planned meals unnecessarily. However, I don’t think I could even buy myself a cake so it’s ok because I can’t eat them often. Other people have to buy it for me and I’m too ashamed to ask because they’ll think I give in too much. Plus I won’t eat them on my own because I might binge. I can only eat cakes if other people ask me and eat one too. I do like to look at them in shops and things though. I like to count the calories on all the packs even though I won’t eat the or even buy them.
At some point I’ll have to deal with this, but there are just so many weird tendencies and trying to get through them all is so hard. I wish I could just eat a cake. Instead I make them for other people so I can know for sure that they are eating more than I am so I can feel ok about eating at all. It’s safe if I eat less than others because then I’ll be smaller than them. Eventually.”