Tag Archives: maintaining

remission/recovered.

Today was a big day in terms of treatment. Like a really big day.

Firstly, I had an appointment with the Psychiatrist at my EDU. Obviously, I was weighed. It was down from last time by a few kilos, but I think that’s due to natural variation due to time of the month, what I’d eaten etc. Still well within the healthy range though. My BMI has settled to a healthy 21 (ish), regardless of what I eat or how much I exercise. I’m getting a whole load better at understanding my hunger signals – I eat whatever, whenever. Today I even had a greasy spoon sausage baguette (don’t judge me. It’s literally one of my favorite foods. Deep fried, bad quality sausage in a buttered white baguette tastes so boom its almost obscene) which is something I never thought I’d ever eat again. The Psychiatrist was so pleased with my progress. She said it was really surprising considering some of the shit I’ve had to deal with whilst with them, yet I stuck with the treatment plan fairly consistently for an eating disorder patient and that she’s really impressed with my perseverance. She has pronounced me eating disorder free! I know that my eating is something I have to keep my eye on (probably forever) as relapses are common and eating disorder behaviours can sneak back in or manifest themselves in different ways, but right now, I live basically eating disorder free. It’s actually really good. Life is a lot less tense. Plus I actually am getting used to my body and don’t entirely hate it. I’m almost sad that summer is over because I can’t wear crop tops as much any more. Today I did wear an incredibly tight, incredibly short black dress though so it’s not like I’m ashamed of my body. I don’t even think I’m that big. I look big sometimes, other times not so much. I eat what I like, but I don’t want to eat everything. I don’t have weird cravings to eat all the dried fruit or all the calcium or all the nut butter or all the honey. Some of my recovery foods seem a little bit sickly now. It’s ok though. I don’t always want biscuits or chocolate or chips, but when I do, I can eat them happily. I can and do eat whatever I like, yet I don’t actually want to eat everything, all the time. I didn’t think it’d ever be possible again. Sometimes I eat so much cake I feel a bit sick, but I don’t purge and my weight doesn’t change and it doesn’t upset me too much. Sometimes I don’t eat enough, so I grab some extra fruit or have some cereal or whatever. It is entirely possible to get to this point. You’d think it wasn’t, but it is. I’m even losing my food morality things. I used to thrive in the moral superiority in eating low-calorie, low-fat, lots of veggies, lots of fibre, lots of fruit, or nothing at all, especially when other people are eating around me. Now I’ll happily munch on some chips smothered in salt and pepper in front of everyone I know. I’ll even make chip sandwiches because they are too lovely (carbs go so well with other carbs I swear). It’s not hard to order something I know is higher calorie than what people around me eat. The best bit is that I don’t think about food or plan food or count calories 24/7. And my fat is redistributing a bit. My belly isn’t too big – it’s kinda soft and nice. My arms look so much healthier it’s ridiculous. I actually think my legs are well buff, even though my thighs definitely touch, almost entirely.

So yer, I’ve basically been discharged from my EDU. I never have to be weighed by anyone but myself for the forseeable future and that makes me happy. I hate other people weighing me. I like to weigh myself first thing, naked, before a shower which might be weird, but it’s entirely fine because it doesn’t disrupt my life at all. I’m just more comfy when I’m at my lowest possible weight of the day, but I’m also fine with the fact that that weight will increase as the day goes on, I just don’t have to see it. I’m never going to see my EDU psychiatrist or dietitian or family therapist again. It actually makes me happy. The only reason I’m not fully discharged is because I’m still seeing the Psychologist until I’m under the care of a more appropriate service because he thinks it’s crucial that I have regular contact with mental health services. I’m a “high risk” and “unstable” patient so the NHS have to know whether I need urgent intervention or crisis care. As soon as I’m under more appropriate care though, I’ll be out of the EDU. Hopefully forever. I’ll be really sad when I lose the Psychologist, but I’m happy to be out of the rest of it because I honestly don’t feel like I belong there anymore. It took over a year, but I just don’t think I need their help any longer. I am thankful to them in every way though. I know lots of people have terrible experiences of eating disorder (and mental health more generally) treatment on the NHS, but I can really only sing their praises. There are obviously issues with waiting lists and being able to contact your psychiatrists and stuff, but without their treatment, I’d probably still be sick. The treatment the offered me was all in line with the best evidence based treatment I’ve learnt and researched about. I had regular contact with everyone on my team, there was a heavy focus on refeeding as the single most important aspect of initial treatment, an emphasis on reaching a BMI over 20 and flexible care that tailored around my needs as they changed. They’ve been so brilliant. I literally could not see a way out of anorexia, but with their help I found one and I’m all the better for it.

So now I’m no longer classified as having anorexia nervosa or an eating disorder or disordered eating or anything. I’m ‘recovered’ or ‘in remission’ or however you’d like to put it and I intend to stay that way. Ker-fucking-ching.

Today was also the day of my initial assessment for IMPART. It was basically a screening for all axis II disorders, so all the different personality disorders were checked for. I can officially say that I don’t have antisocial or narcissistic or schizotypal or histrionic or avoidant or dependant or schizoid or paranoid or obsessive compulsive personality disorders. That is good news. That’s so many mental health problems I don’t have to worry about.

However, I did finally receive an official diagnosis. Only a personality disorder specialist psychiatrist can officially diagnose personality disorders and now, it’s official – I have borderline personality disorder. Although I already knew that, I kinda hoped it would turn out to not be true and that a specialist would tell me I was fine. I also hoped they’d tell me it was true so I could be given the hope that I might one day have a better quality of life. It’s a mixed bag of emotion. Apparently I score very highly on the borderline part of the test and am considered to be “severely affected” by the disorder. I guess I knew that already, but I hate when people say it. The assessment was over two hours long. It was seriously hard work and incredibly stressful, but I got through it.

So now I’m on another waiting list – this time for a psychologist to become free to take on my treatment. Apparently its six to eight weeks, though it could be shorter because I was one of the earlier ones to receive a round one assessment after the summer break and they still have a lot behind me. The psychologist may decide that I’m not suitable for treatment with IMPART at all so again, it’s scary. I tend to think that everyone will see that I’m not deserving of help so I always assume people will think I’m completely fine and don’t need their help and be told to go away. The second assessment tries to work out what the best course of treatment is for each individual. It also screens for any axis I mental health problems which may need to be treated before treatment for BPD can begin. Thankfully, because many people with personality disorders have suffered trauma, PTSD won’t rule me out, and because substance abuse is high in people with BPD, that won’t rule me out either. Both are treated within the service. If, for example, I was still suffering with anorexia, that would have to be treated for that first so IMPART wouldn’t take me on. I don’t consider myself depressed (even though I have that diagnosis right now) and I don’t think anxiety would be too much of an issue for them as it’s probably part of the BPD package. Seeing as I have no other diagnosis and don’t think anything else is wrong with me, I hope it’ll be ok. I’m worried about it though. If they take me on, I could be offered 6, 12 or 18 months treatment of CBT or DBT, but the woman who assessed me thinks it’s pretty likely I’ll be offered 12 or 18 months DBT, considering my high risk behaviours and BPD score level, with options to continue treatment if necessary after the completion of the initial time frame. That’ll involve a weekly group session and a weekly individual session. There’s also a possibility I’ll be put into other group therapies like mindfulness group or anxiety group, but that’ll be worked out at the next assessment. She also thinks my treatment will involve regular telephone consultations with whoever my psychologist ends up being. It all sounds pretty intense and apparently it’s actually a lot of hard work, but so was my eating disorder treatment so I’m hopeful I can manage it.

For now though, I have been given her work mobile number to contact her with any queries or questions, either through call or text. I’ve also been invited to join a group session specifically designed for people in this phase of treatment – all the people with personality disorders who are waiting for their second round of assessments. I don’t know if I’ll go yet. It’s quite far away from my house and in an area I don’t know that well and I get pretty scared in places I don’t know. It’s essentially a starter group for CBT and DBT style treatments and to get comfortable working in a group, as well as keeping in contact with the service in order to remain more likely to comply with treatment. We’ll see I guess. I also got a self-help pack. No lie – the NHS have stated that if I’m feeling distressed, I can comfort myself by smoking a cigarette. They also suggest making a secret code, smashing a watermelon, having a polo, trying to wake up before lunch time, building a house of cards, staying in bed, eating chocolate, asking a friend to hold me and creating my own cartoon legend (yes they did use the word legend). There are other things as well, but those are the strangest. There’s also some stuff on relaxation exercises, emotional health and mindfulness in it, as well a lot of numbers to call in a crisis. I got given a crisis card to keep with me as well (in case I ever need to contact crisis services out and about).

All in all, it’s been a very emotional, hard, happy and stressful day. So much to think about – both good and bad. I’m both optimistic and devastated. Excited and anxious. Happy and sad. It’s a lot to take in and I think I might need a little bit of time to recover from it all. Lots of sleep and puppy times ahead I hope.

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Filed under bpd, eating disorder, life, NHS, recovery

authenticity.

I’ve had a nice day the other day. It was hot, but not too hot. It wasn’t sunny. I went to St. Katherine’s Dock and had some really nice food and walked about, looking at all the posh yachts and things. I accidentally found the Denmark cultural market thing (lots of countries have cultural markets dotted about London during the Olympics). I walked from Tower Hill into the city to do some vintage browsing and a little shopping in Brick Lane, then grabbing a tarte aux fruits from Patisserie Valerie.

All good things. Except none of it feels like it happened. I know full well it did. I remember it. The memories don’t seem real though. The feel like someone else’s memories. It wasn’t really me. I wasn’t in control, I wouldn’t want to act that way, the things I said are things I don’t think etc. I have problems feeling connected to my memories and past feelings and thoughts. It’s not just past events and actions, it also happens in the moment. My brain starts questioning my actions. It’s most scary when it starts questioning thoughts and feelings. Everything becomes lies, except I’m not lying. It’s like I can’t not lie. I have to because there’s no facts and no truths and no person. Just stories I started telling myself years ago so I could pretend to myself that I wasn’t so terrible. Now whatever person there may or may not have been has gone and all that’s left is the narrative. It’s such a hard thing to describe and I keep trying to, but just can’t seem to find the right words. It’s just so distressing. It’s like suddenly you zone in to what’s happening and you’re doing something you don’t really feel is true because you’re not in control. You’re saying words that aren’t your words and don’t describe your thoughts. Then you start to try to work out what your thoughts are, but there are none. Each thought you have isn’t true. Even the thought that your thoughts aren’t true isn’t true. And because nothing is true, you have absolutely no choice but to keep making things up and pretending and lying because without the falsities, there is literally nothing. No thoughts, no actions, no emotions. You just wouldn’t exist. You become something entirely constructed. But the construction isn’t perfect because you just can’t create concepts that tightly mesh to make a coherent whole. The concepts don’t fit together properly and you get terrified people will push at the cracks and expose the fact you’re nothing and then they’ll laugh at you. So you panic, covering cracks with more concepts, digging the hole deeper and deeper. And the person you’ve so consciously, yet so entirely unconsciously, created is rubbish too. You’ve failed to make someone worth being and killed the truth completely. You’re just completely unable to be or feel anything true. You’re only a performance of a person, constantly performing even when you’re all alone.

It’s really horrible.

The Psychologist wants me to keep an authenticity journal. Every time I do or think something that feels authentically me, I’m meant to write it down to keep a log of what keeps me grounded. The problem with this task is that as soon as I reflect on whether I was authentic or not, I start questioning myself and my reality. It becomes lies. The question becomes how the fuck do I even start this task? I start freaking out about the task itself. I’m so stuck.

I play with Juno because I love her. But do I love her? Or do I pretend to love her because it’s nice and girly and cute to completely love baby animals and I want to believe that is who I am and I want others to believe it to so I’m just pretending to love her because I think that’d make me better? Do I really want to self-injure, or do I just want people to think that I’m not coping, even though I am, because then they’ll want to help me more? Did I ever really have an eating disorder, or did I actually just want to believe I did so that I could get attention? Every section of my brain becomes something to doubt.

On top of worrying about all this nonsense, I still have to actually worry about it. I have to worry when I’m lying in the dark, calling people up to tell them things I know I shouldn’t and might not even be true with no control over my actions. I have to worry when I’m running down the road, pounding my feet on the pavement till my whole body aches so I feel more present and can rid myself of the burning emotions I don’t know if I feel. I have to worry when I’m shouting at the people I love. I have to worry when I’m tearing my room apart.

But that’s why I’m getting a blood test tomorrow. The HTT are putting me on mood stabilizers to try to dampen my moods. They have to check my blood levels first, but then I start a new medication on top of everything else I’m taking. I’m scared of them. I don’t want to dampen all my moods, just some. I like when I feel great because I get really excited and jump about and cannot contain my happiness. It can be good to not be able to contain an emotion, but it can be awful too. In some ways though, I think it might be good to contain some on the good emotions too because then I’ll do less things that with hindsight make me feel so much shame. I like to share all my uncontainable emotions and although the good emotions are great, it’s in the sharing that I find the shame. So much shame. I never understand why I do and say things. The Pa is organising for me to have some sort of terrifying conversations with my Uncle about what mood stabilizers are actually like. He’s suffered from bipolar in the past and had a lot of experience with those medications, plus seems to be pretty darn stable so might have positive stories. I’m already feeling shame for that conversation and it hasn’t even happened.

To add to it all, I’m really struggling internally with my eating. I gained some weight I think, which should be fine seeing as I’m on new meds and cutting back my NRT and still have no periods so probably need a bit more weight anyway. It makes me feel awful though and it makes me want to control my eating more. I’m struggling to keep up my progress. I am obviously eating more than I need to, but I’m also hungry quite a lot and I don’t know what to do about it all really. Restriction keeps playing on my mind, but I don’t restrict. I keep eating regardless so I don’t wind up going backwards. It’s hard though. Like actually. I really badly want to lose weight. Really badly. My thoughts are getting more and more caught up in food and diets. I’m ugly and I suck therefore I must lose weight so I can be prettier and people will like me more. Whether or not this is actually true is neither here nor there. It’s not logical, but it’s how I feel. I feel dumpy and ugly.

It’s hard to eat. It’s hard to not exercise. I’ve spent a good portion of today looking up adult gymnastics and ballet classes. I want to be strong and flexible. Yoga isn’t enough anymore really. I’m not getting pushed enough. I’ll probably not follow-up on it, but today I’ll dream of exercise.

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Filed under eating disorder, home treatment team, Juno, life, recovery, rubbish

graduating dietetics.

I had a long and annoying day today.

Firstly, I had to get to my EDU bright and early in order to get to my final dietetics appointment. End of an era I swear. I’ve literally been seeing a dietitian for a year. Today though, I realised I don’t really have all that many questions to ask about food and weight anymore. I don’t count calories, I don’t obsess and weigh everything, my meals are pretty well-balanced etc. It’s good. I’ve come a massively long way. I’m kinda glad to be done with those appointments as it means one less person weighs me. That makes me happy because now I’m only weighed every two months, which is a lot less stress for me. Who’d of thought I’d say that? Who’d of thought I’d ever think being weighed less was less stressful – it used to be the complete opposite. I still am period free though so there is a possibility I’ll have to gain more weight. I’ve been referred for a womb ultrasound scan which should show whether or not that is the case. I don’t really know how it works, but depending on the results, I can go back to see her for advice on further weight gain if I need. I’ve now graduated from two aspects of treatment (this and famo therapy). Sure I seem to be enrolling in more than I’m completing, but I’m going to focus on the good.

I eat well enough to not need a dietitian. My weight is stable and well within the healthy range. Nutritionally, I’m doing fucking excellent.

This all sounds nice and positive, but it wasn’t all good news. I’d dropped 0.6kg in the past two weeks. I think that’s kinda understandable as I’ve been in hospital and generally going fucking nut bag. In fact, I’m pretty impressed I’ve not lost more. Saying that though, I was also convinced I’d gained weight in hospital so I didn’t see that coming. I worked really hard to keep my eating whilst on the various wards, but during an acute overdose of aspirin, you get really feverish symptoms and feel really sick, and this nausea stays with you for days. Add that to the fact that hospital food sucks and eating is an issue. I did eat though. I had veggie cottage pie and rice pudding and fish and chips and apple pie and egg and cress sandwiches and cereal and porridge and crisps and yogurts and sugary coffee (severe aspirin overdose can cause critically low blood sugar levels – these were literally forced upon me. Really really sugary coffee after really really sugary coffee) and biscuits and custard. And I made the fam bring me a date, banana and oat smoothie for easy, tasty, snack calories. And about 4 chocolate bars. And some peanut butter sandwiches. And toast with hummus. I was entirely sedentary in the hospital as well. Literally. In the ITU I wasn’t allowed out of bed at all even. I purely lied down for 24 hours. I even had to wear those silly compression socks to prevent blood clots. But the whole experience messed my eating up ridiculously and it’s taken me a until yesterday to claw back some sort of structure and comfort in what I’m eating. So although I ate a whole load of food I thought would make me hugely fat, it actually wasn’t enough. I did try though.

On top of that, I had my height measured in the hospital. I’ve regrown the height I lost during restriction. That makes my BMI slightly lower. Not much though. It was less than an inch. It just gives means that a little more weight isn’t a bad thing, but it’s still healthy.

My plan is firstly to get my eating routine solid and up to scratch again, then just to eat as I had been, trying to improve on my variety and head towards intuitive eating as much as I can until the scan. Once I’ve had the scan, then I’ll know what to do next. If I gain in that time, so be it – I won’t try to lose. I’m not actively going to attempt to gain weight unless I have to though. I’ll have to if my ovaries need me to or I lose any more weight from where I am right now.

And you know what? Go me for keeping myself eating as well as I am right now. Go me for actively trying to get my eating back up to scratch after such an uprooting. Go me for keeping my weight up as much as I have done considering I had to spend so long without the foods I like or being able to prepare foods etc. Go me for asking the fam to bring me extra food into hospital because I knew what they were serving and what I was eating wasn’t enough. Sure it’s not great, but actually, not letting such high levels of feeling shit and being in a really difficult situation keep me from trying to stay on top of my eating disorder. I know that in a lot of ways, it’s the least of my problems right now, but I’ve not given up. It’d be easier to, but I haven’t. I’m not proud of my recent life, but I am proud of my recent eating efforts.

I was so hungry after my weigh in that I got a journey home Starbar, so I am showing progress. It was really tasty.

I went home for a few hours, only to have to travel back to my EDU in the afternoon for therapy. I was absolutely dreading therapy. The Home Treatment Team told me they had alerted my EDU, but I wasn’t sure if the Psychologist knew seeing as he’s not in on Monday’s and I’d only medically cleared on Friday evening. Turns out he didn’t know. Also turns out he takes it deadly serious. Literally you could practically hear his head ticking over everything, working overtime to work out what to ask and what he needed to know. I don’t know what to make of it all really. For the first time in all of my treatment with him, he actively wants to medicate me. He can’t himself seeing as he’s not a medical doctor, but he’s going to talk to people who can. He asked me what I’d comply with and I think he’s going to work on getting me a prescription for antipsychotics which don’t cause weight gain. At least that what he said he’s going to try to do. He said that’ll help with the racing thoughts about how much of me is true and whether or not I have consequences or feelings. If it works, it should calm me down and make my brain more manageable. I don’t know if such a medication exists, but he was going to try see. He asked a lot of questions. I think he was quite shocked as he told me he didn’t think I was in that sort of frame of mind. He then made me give him the number of the Home Treatment people so he could call them up to talk to them about me straight after my session. Apparently he’s concerned for my safety and thinks I need greater support. I’m a bit annoyed about that as he said he’s going to tell them what he knows about me and maybe recommend in-patient care. I asked him not to, but he said that if he didn’t do that, he wouldn’t be caring for me and would just be letting me down. I don’t think it feels like care. I duno.

Still, we’re not tapering our sessions down any more so maybe he does give a fuck about my wellbeing. Mostly I assume he views me as a number that he has to get to a certain point to keep himself employed and living in a nice house in Islington or somewhere, so he pretends to care, but really he hates me and finds me annoying and dreads our sessions and can’t wait to dump me. I still think that, but now I also think he does care about my safety and wellbeing. He was all like “Can you give me the number right now? I’m going to call them as soon as you leave.” I think he thinks I’m still at risk. Maybe I am. I’ve never felt at risk. But nothing feels real and I have no consequences so of course I don’t feel risk. Nothing connects with anything else.

I just really hope I don’t wind up in hospital because of him. Really really. I don’t think I will, but I don’t really know how it all works.

Thinking about this all kinda makes me want to cry. I won’t cry because I try not to. I hate crying. Even if no one sees. It’s just he took it so seriously. I struggle so much to see it as a serious thing. It’s just not a big deal to me. I duno. At the same time though, I’m glad someone is actually noticing how much I’m fucking screaming. I try to hide the fact that my insides are screaming so loudly from just how much my emotions seem to burn my thoughts. Having someone seem to realise that actually, I’m not coping and it’s not a small thing, is something I appreciate. Even though I pretend to him I don’t and try to style out how I don’t give a fuck. I’m probably a really frustrating patient. I know this all sounds so convoluted, but it’s how I’m feeling. Maybe I’m just completely up myself.

So anyway, seeing as I’d dropped in weight a little, I made the Dad take me to lunch. I got falafel and couscous salad with a lot of hummus and veggies and dressing, followed by a banana and chocolate waffle with whipped cream, ice cream and icing sugar. I am now so full it’s ridiculous. Seriously. If I never eat again it’ll be too soon. I hurt a lot. It was worth it thought because it was all so fucking yum. I was so hungry as I’d only eaten a bowl of cereal and a chocolate bar since I’d woken up at 7 am and it was then 4 pm, so I definitely over-ordered, but I don’t even care because this slightly sick feeling is good once in a while when the food is so tasty. I then had an “I’m so full” nap. Totally worth it. Sometimes I really like how far I’ve come in terms of my eating disorder. I have been in recovery for over a year though so what else should I expect. This time last year, eating so much I have to lie down just would never happen and sometimes it’s nice. Not everyday, but some days. Oh my gosh I’m still so full though.

So yer that was my day.

I’m writing about the events rather than anything interesting because I don’t think I can really talk about what’s happening in my head. In general, I’ve been trying to see my friends a lot so I can keep myself occupied. I’m less destructive in company than I am alone. I’ve been enlisting support. I think that maybe that’s a positive thing. It doesn’t stop me from going into full-blown crazy mode though. It’s so hard to explain. It’s like I keep tuning in and out of myself and realising that I have no idea about what I’m doing or thinking or anything. Like I get caught up in feeling and find myself huddled in a corner on the train then think “shit. How the fuck did I end up huddled on the floor? Why am I down here? Everyone is going to think I’m crazy.” To be fair, I probably am and they probably do so that’s not all that irrational. I just feel like I’m losing it a bit. I’m so caught up in my own thoughts and mind and feelings and identity and numbness and constructions that I’m zoning out of reality for longer and longer periods of time and it’s scary. I don’t really understand what’s happening around me sometimes.  I get hit with wave after wave or emotion I don’t know if I really feel or I’m making up. I start speeding up and my mind gets faster and faster till I react without thinking and am making people hate me. There isn’t enough Valium in the world to keep me settled right now and it kinda sucks.

All the people who work to help me say that this can get better, but that I need to get DBT. In my area, DBT can be accessed on the NHS through a team called IMPART. They work with people with personality disorders, severe self harming behaviours and emotional dysregulation. I’ve been referred, but that’s just a referral for an assessment. I have to pass to get in and I don’t think I will seeing as my problems aren’t all that. It’s underfunded so these problems have to “severely impact” upon your life. I don’t know what that means. So right now the only hope anyone is giving me is that in a few months I might get let into a long-term course of treatment that may help me change a long time after it begins. It doesn’t make me feel that hopeful.

Tomorrow morning the HTT doctor is coming to visit me to review my medication. It’s probably good that the Psychologist talked to them today as maybe that’ll help me get the right prescriptions. I’m scared about it though. Plus I told the Psychologist things that I didn’t think he’d tell the HTT, but he said he would so I’m going to have to suffer the consequences. I’m already feeling scared and therefore combative. I’ve saved some Valium for the morning though so maybe that’ll help chill me out enough to deal with it all without going on the defensive. Probably won’t though as I don’t really think it does all that much.

I’m really going to try to get back into being more of a social blogger and I apologise for being a bit absent in my comments and emails recently. I’m sure you all get that I’m kinda struggling right now. Sorry for being a bit of an online flake and thanks for understanding. I am going to try to get myself in gear again though because I actually think it’s helpful to engage with others and be part of this little corner of online support. Sorry.

I duno. I babble. I fuck up. I get everything wrong. Sorry.

Time to pop some Zopliclone and try to sleep I think. I’ll never sleep otherwise. My head is way too messy right now. I’m feeling way too destructive to think being awake is positive.

Shit I’m scared about tomorrow. My brain is whirring.

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Filed under home treatment team, recovery, rubbish

vanity.

So I think some people might hate this post, but I also think its part of an actual problem when it comes to human beings, especially those with eating disorders. I don’t even think it’s just a body image thing either because I think a lot of it for me was based on what I had achieved rather than whether it looked good. But anyway I’m going to put a big trigger warning all over this because I can see how it could be ridiculously triggering. I like to think that it won’t, and I know this makes me feel better and could have saved a lot of tears, but none the less…

TRIGGER WARNING – This is basically going to talk about clothes sizes. Over and over again. And my size. If you’re not comfortable and happy with your size right now, it may cause you some upset, though it may do just the opposite. I duno. But it’s going to involve lots of numbers.

So anyway, I went clothes shopping yesterday. I’m pretty glad about it really. I know it must seem like all I do is clothes shop, but I don’t really. I’ve (obviously) grown out of a lot of my clothes. I think I’m going to sell like 8 pairs of jeans and trousers, 3 pairs of shorts, 2 skirts and 1 dress. It’s a lot of clothes, lots of which are really bloody nice and are in really good condition. I spent good bloody money on those clothes just to have to get rid of them and it’s sad really. It’s also meant that I’ve been without both basics and statements. Until yesterday, I literally didn’t have any standard jeans or trousers. I have great striped jeans and fabz patterned leggings, but I’ve lost 3 pairs of chinos, my blue jeans, my grey jeans, my black and grey striped cropped trousers, my black jeans etc. I still owned more trousers than your average person, but how I look matters a lot to me and I’ve always had a whole load more clothes than I should really.

No joke of a lie, this is actually the label in on the the pairs I’m selling. They’re Topman and used to belong to the Ex. Trust me, they are actually really triggering. Being bigger than the Boy was really hard for me and I hate that I don’t fit these now. To be fair though, I don’t think they’d fit him anymore either, but still, massive trigger jeans lolz.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to get any more big clothes items till after summer seeing as I’ve replaced two pairs of shorts and grown into two old pairs and I really don’t lose all that much from the skirts seeing as they weren’t basic and I have a whole loads of skirts anyway. The dress is just sad seeing as it’s my Auntie’s old dress from the ’60s. She is very, very short and did that whole tiny ’60s lady thing. I have a lot of her old stuff, most of which still fits great and its excellent clothes. I’m babbling again. So yer, I was just gonna stop seeing as I live off benefits and the fam are feeling a lot less wealthy right now and we’re scaling back a lot (both the parent’s work in the public sector, plus the Ma recently took a lower paid position seeing as she hated being a head teacher), but then I saw the summer sales and realised that actually, I could get identical plain jeans and chinos now and for half the usual price, plus with student discount, which I’ll probably lose before the next round of sales. And also, it’d make me happy to have the basics down so I can actually wear everything I own again. I have serious shopping guilt, but the fam put some money in seeing as I actually had to grow, so had to get rid of a lot of clothes, plus I figured I’m on benefits because I’m deemed unfit for work. Really, I should be spending this money on things that celebrate getting healthier and make being healthy easier. And I’ve quit smoking so have lots more money than I’m used to. So I trawled the internet, looking at all the jeans and chinos in various sales, picking out the ones I liked from various shops then headed out to the shops to try them on. In an ideal world, I would buy them online, but it’s not an ideal world and sizes are a mess.

I know my measurements. I don’t know all of them anymore so I couldn’t tell you the diameter of my thighs or anything, but I know my basics – inside leg, hips, waist, bust. I also know what size that makes me. Due to my new-found waist, I firmly believe I’ve got a pear shaped body as my bust is a 6, but my waist is an 8 and my hips are closer to an 8 than a 10 in fairly standard measurements, but I could probably wear either size. However, the width of my shoulders means I don’t look all that pear. In fact, I look incredibly boxy. My shoulders have always meant that fitted tops are a no go seeing as my bust and shoulder measurements do not match up. But anyway, seeing as I refuse to wear anything labelled with a 6 and I may have some weight gain in me yet, I go for 8 on top, 10 on bottom which makes sense. Or so I thought anyway.

There are lots of nice clothes shops out there. Lots and lots. I really like Uniqlo for instance and I think they’re jeans are actually a really decent material and are super comfy. I also like some of the designs and colours of River Island chinos. In fact, there are lots of shops, many of which are really great and most of which are having boomtingz sales at the moment.

I already don’t buy anything with a fitted waist at H&M. They’re sizes are stated as smaller than most other shops, though in reality, they’re clothes run such a variety of sizes that it’s impossible to tell. I have a pair of jeans from there that are a 10 and quite tight so I wanted some new ones. I thought I’d go for the same jeans in a different colour, but the sizes in that batch are way different and confusing and I couldn’t be bothered. When I bought those size 10 jeans though, I was a 6 in Topshop so go figure. Still, I can just about still wear them so I guess it’s no real loss. The joys of stretcy denim.

After trying on jeans and trousers in a few shops, I came to the conclusion that you know what? It’s not worth it. I’m purely going to buy fitted trousers from Topshop. I know what clothes fit me there, plus they’re clothes tend to be designed to fit boyish figures better and I’d consider my figure boyish as I’m definitely not curvy. All in all, it’s less traumatic because I know the sizing there well. I’ve been buying trousers there since school times so have quite a good idea of how my body fits their clothes at various weights and sizes. The fact that I’m buying clothes that are labelled as larger than I would in other shops doesn’t bother me too much as when thinking of my measurements, they’re labels seem reasonably true to size, which is something of a miracle in  clothes shopping today. In fact, I didn’t get upset or worried or anything because it wasn’t a palava. I didn’t have to go back for a new size or anything. It was great. No drama.

I buy a lot of second-hand clothes so I’m pretty aware of the fact that sizes have been getting larger. A ’80s size 12 is a small 10/large 8 by today’s standards. Even so, most shops have size guides and most size guides are about the same measurements, give or take a few inches, so there really shouldn’t be that much difference between shops. Vanity sizing has pretty much thrown this idea out the window. I’ve gone to shops and found things that should fit too small, gone home and cried about it (during weight gain), and gone to shops and found things that should fit too big, gone home and cried about it (that’s recovery for you – you’re actually sad you haven’t grown into normal people sizes yet). I’ve done a lot of crying because of size diferences, but it’s not just the emotional silliness that comes with labels, but it’s actually completely impractical. Men’s sizes are somewhat easier I imagine as they tend to come in inches, though I guess the S, M, L sizing must be a pain, but they have that for women too. In some shops, a M is a 10, which is stupid seeing as the UK average is like a 14 or something, which would make the average woman an XL. In other shops though, it’s completely different and a 10 is an XS, which makes more sense, but is really confusing. So anyway, to stop myself getting worked up over sizing, I did some research on to vanity sizing and how it works.

Vanity sizing is essentially when you label things as smaller than they are so that when someone tries it on, they feel better about themselves as they fit into a smaller size than they thought they were. So you label something as a 12, a woman who is a 12 tries it on, but it’s way too big and she think “yuss! I’m slimmer!” and gets a 10, feels good about it, so in theory is more likely to shop there again due to the morale boost they get from smaller sizes. I see why this could be a nice thing, but to me, it’s the opposite seeing as I actually want to stay a reasonable size and find it hard to work out if I actually am. Plus I’m still on the small side so I can’t go down that many sizes as they don’t stock them. I also think it’s kinda patronising as it suggests women care more about their size than how easy it is to shop and the many returns they have to give if they don’t try stuff on. Some shops do it worse than others for sure, and it’s not the only issue with sizing out there.

Basically, the cheaper the shop, the more likely it is for their sizing to run small. I think this is likely to be true. H&M sizes are stated as smaller than most shops and I know that Primark jeans always seem to run smaller than other shops. Even at my lowest weight, their size 6 jeans were snug, when others were falling off. This is because fabric costs money and using less of it will up profits. So essentially, if you shop somewhere cheaper, expect to maybe need a bigger size than usual.

Sizes tend to run closer to true in shops aimed at younger women. In my experience, this is entirely right. Topshop and New Look and Urban Outfitters all seem to run pretty true to my measurements, whatever size I’ve been, though Urban Outfitters can also run a bit big. In Topshop, whenever I’ve taken my waist measurements to buy trousers, the exact measurement fits. Urban Outfitters tend to label as S, M, L, but you can check their size guide online and it does pretty much match up. Sizes run larger as target customers’ age. In my experience, River Island runs around a size larger than Topshop, Uniqlo (and apparently Zara) bigger still, with Next and M&S topping the size charts. I still struggle to fit M&S clothes as they don’t stock many 6s and the ones they do are still pretty loose. I am not a 6, yet M&S tell me I am. They were also the first shop I noticed I’d grown out of (I don’t shop in Next), swiftly followed by Uniqlo. However, at least I’m too big for the smallest Uniqlo jeans now (which makes me sad seeing as I loved mine so much and never got to wear them as I was always too small and now I’m too big. eBay time I guess). This is apparently because as women get older, they want to stay the same kinda size they’ve always been, but obviously babies, menopause and such changes body shape and often weight. The idea is that as you move through the market as you age, you don’t get disheartened or whatever. The labels and size guides may give you the exact measurements for each size, but what’s actually on the hanger gets further away from those measurements as the target customer ages.

The other variable is region. American brands run large, regardless of the audience. Apparently this is purely because the American population are larger than the population here in Europe. Gap is the worst apparently in the U.K.. I don’t shop in Gap, but their size 6 (labelled as an American size 0) is apparently more like a 10, so if I were to shop in Gap, I’d still be a 0 in jeans, which is ridiculous because I’m not, or a 00/4 in tops, which is even more ridiculous. Honestly, I read an article today which had a 34 inch waist man wearing a UK size 6 skirt because it was so big. European brands apparently run smaller than in the UK as we’re larger here than on the continent. I think this is true with H&M and also true when you’re abroad, but the other big European brand (Zara), runs bigger IMO.

And all of this before you get the standard deviations from size found in different cuts, materials, normal errors and such in production, and standard design mistakes.

I know I probably find this disheartening for all the wrong reasons, but I really do. Shopping online is a stupid idea seeing as all the sizes are so different that you never know what you’re going to get and unless you really know the brand, it’ll probably be wrong. What annoys me is that I’ve put a lot of work into being a healthy size and I’d like to think that although I may have to gain some more, I’m still a healthy size. I don’t like the fact that I can go into shops and they’ll tell me that my hard work isn’t doing enough. I know that isn’t true, but it feels like it. I hate that I’m now a healthy BMI, yet M&S is still a bit of a no-go shop for me. It shouldn’t be. It’s so disheartening to pick up a pair of trousers in the smallest size, only to find you’re still too small. Equally though, it’s horrible to put on your normal size, only to find you need two sizes bigger. Honestly, right now, I range from a 4 to a 10 (maybe a 12 or 14, but as I’ve said, I stay away from shops that make me feel bigger), which is ridiculous. And confusing. And also, seeing as I refuse to buy any tops smaller than an 8 or any jeans smaller than a 10 purely because I know I shouldn’t be that small, it’s prohibitive and annoying.

So anyway, I ended up in Topshop, as I always do. I picked up two pairs of chinos (one beige, high-waisted pair to replace a yellow high-waisted pair, one navy, mid-rise pair to replace my dusty pink ones) and a pair of standard blue, Baxter skinnies to replace some low-rise Miss Selfridge skinnies from third year. They are all size 10, all a little bit big (especially the high-waisted ones), but all very much wearable and I do own belts. I wonder if I should have got them in an 8 seeing as I do still fit my 8 skinnies, but in the end, I’m glad they’re a bit big as I’m less self-conscious about myself that way, plus I have room to grow if I need too (and I can still wear the 8s if I want to go for that skin-tight-I-look-buff look). They fit exactly the way they should, given my measurements and what I’m after. And they all look great. I think they’re all practical items actually, espeically the mid-rise chinos the low-rise Baxters. Chinos with brogues, literally any top and a boyfriend fit blazer always makes for a half decent, no effort outfit. Plus low-rise skinnies make any casual day outfit more respectable as you can pull on a super cosy, massive charity shop jumper with them and not look like a giant sack, you can wear anything untucked without looking like you have a lumpy growth on your belly, and the lack of tuck ability means that you never end up looking too smart accidentally. Plus I won’t lie, I already own mid-rise, boyfriend fit skinnies (actually the Ex’s actually. Same size jeans, different cut). Boring, but versatile wardrobe stables. I’m really glad that I’ve actually achieved fully functioning wardrobe now. Effectively, anything I buy from here on in is added extras (like the dinosaur t-shirt the Ma got me for finishing my NHS Stop Smoking course. Yuss!)

However, I’m sad that I had to stick to one, standard shop. I’d like more options, but it’s too complicated and too hard and this way, I know what I’m getting. I really want to get these shorts off eBay, but although they’re only 99p and right close to the end of bidding, I won’t, seeing as I’ve never tried on Armani jeans (the owner customised) and the size is a mystery. She says 29 inch waist, size 8, but those two statements contradict each other (unless they’re mens jeans). In theory, that’s a 10/12. Just saying.

Now at least I can finally wear all my lovely tops and t-shirts again without looking stupid. Fucking clothes sizing.

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Filed under rant, recovery, shopping

tummies.

It’s really blood cold this morning. I’m really shivery actually. I might put on another jumper. Why is it so cold? It’s almost July! So annoying. So so annoying. Miserable weather right now. I like the cold, but I don’t like the cold when we’ve turned out heating off for summer.

So I was going to do this epic post, but I changed my mind. It’s pretty hard to talk about and I think maybe it’s not so bad or whatever and I changed my mind. Ah well. Instead I’m going to post something really great. Imma talk about my body.

I read all these posts from all these people who are like “my eating disorder has nothing to do with my body shape”, but mine totally does. I always feel like I should mention that to the real life people who read this seeing as they might not know of the elusive non-fat phobic anorexia sufferer and I don’t want to generalize and promote inaccurate stereotypes. Anyway, there’s a lot of other things that come into play when restriction gets going for sure. It’s calming, addictive, numbing etc., but I wanted to be small for sure. At first I wanted to lose the extra weight I put on during first year. I lost that, and more, really quickly, and by that point I was too scared to eat normally. I did actually think I looked great at that point, but I was so scared to gain it back that I just kept losing. A lot of my eating disorder is purely about being scared to gain weight back. At one point, I really didn’t want to lose more weight so every time I reached a certain pound, I’d make a point of eating bare Ciao burger and loads of chocolate and crisps, but as soon as it got a couple of pound up, I’d freak the fuck out and under eat again. It wasn’t till I started to notice real problems in my relationship with the Ex that I actively decided that I needed to be tiny. I needed to be the small one. In my mind, he thought small was pretty and therefore I needed to be smaller than every other girl because that was better and he’d like me more. He didn’t think small was pretty and told me I looked scary and I pushed him away more, but still I believed the eating disorder logic. I was still losing weight at this point so I don’t think it actually changed all that much physcially, but this was when I really decided that it looked best being small. I wanted bigger thigh gaps and more bones because those things were beautiful. Existing on as little as possible and resisting all food was the ideal.

Nowadays when I see really tiny lady pictures, I think about how hard it must be for them. I think about the pressure sores and digestive issues and flaky skin and head hair loss/body hair gain paradox and think it is actually the least fun and totally not at all glamorous. You don’t hear about the pressure sores. Pressure sores are really ugly.  If you done have enough fat covering your bones, pressure sores are inevitable. It doesn’t change the fact that I very much look at tiny people and think that they have fabz bodies and want them even now and hate my own body for not looking like that. What can I say? I’m most definitely fat-phobic and the media does affect my body image in a negative way and that’s just the way it is. My body has never reached the standards of attractive thrown in my face all the time and I hate it for that. There isn’t much I can do about it because it’s genetic, but it makes me sad. I hold my weight in stomach and thighs, but never in my bum. I’ve never needed a bra, regardless of whether I’m overweight or underweight. I have broad shoulders and slim hips with little waist definition. I have chunky arms though for sure. These things are always the same, regardless of body weight. Except for my waist. I get a waist when I’m really underweight. And my stomach does actually get flat when my BMI is so low I start collapsing all the time. Sustaining that was destroying me though.  Basically, I’m destined to have this awful body.

Things do change though.

Stop the press guys – I’ve actually got a waist! I know right? What the fuck? I’ve never had a waist. I’m tubular. Not anymore because I’m all waisted. I don’t even know when this happened but it’s pretty great. Maybe I did always have a waist all along. Or maybe my body shape has changed a bit in the last few years. It’s not like, the world’s most prominent waist, but there is definite waist going on in my life right now. I noticed it yesterday. I know this going to sound super arrogant, but I actually think that crop tops suit me because then I actually notice my waist. They cut just across the waist line, highlighting the definition in that area. Wearing stupid clothes throughout recovery may just pay off because I looked in the mirror and thought “actually, you look alright. You’re belly isn’t too big and you have all this waist happening and you look good in that crop top” which wouldn’t of happened if I’d been covering up. My body is entirely not defined. I try to think of it as soft instead of fat, but that can be hard. There is no muscle definition there though really. But soft is actually pretty on other people so if I think that enough maybe it’ll be pretty on me.

Bodies in recovery change a hella lot. In general, your body preferentially lays down fat over muscle tissue, but that fat is then used as energy sources for muscle growth over time. That time is different for everyone, but it’s often over a year for the full redistribution of body tissue. Most people also preferentially lay fat down in their stomach, though it does eventually start going everywhere else. I know that for ages, I had bony back, chest, arms and legs with a big ol’ preggerz belly. Now though, I do have fat on all my body areas so although I’m not convinced my stomach will ever change seeing as it’s always been big and round, it does look a little bit less weird. All those people who tell you body image does improve in recovery are right though. It fully does improve. I may well hate my belly and waist again in an hour, but in general, the trend in body image is upwards. Even though my thighs most definitely have no gap. And lets not lie, it’s definitely better when you can’t see your spine through your clothes. My belly sticks out all grose, but I am actually slightly woman shaped. I’m hoping that’s a good thing. I don’t know if it’s redistributing or what, but it could definitely be worse.

I still have a lot of body hang ups. Like a lot a lot. But my body is so much happier now than it’s been in so long and that’s worth celebrating. I may not be the small one and my stomach may not be at what I see as ideal, but I had that ideal and I was having a rubbish time so I think it’s better. I think a lot of people in recovery start or continue to hide their bodies away with lots of shame that it’s changed and got bigger and all of that malarky. Not everyone because some people definitely believe that more body weight looks better as they are non-fat phobic AN sufferers, but everyone else maybe. I don’t actually think that’s all good though. I think you actually have to look at your body a little bit, and dress to show it off. You have to spend time getting to know it in order to get used to it and that unfortunately involves getting out of sweats and baggy t-shirts sometimes. So I’m going to be ok with my belly and my new-found waist. And you know what else, I’m going to embrace it. Judge it as you like, it’s mine and I’m going to be bloody well proud of my recovery body.

This is my belly and waist yesterday night. After a full day of food and absolutely no exercise. I think that maybe, it’s not so bad.

(ps. check out my number one favorite body part – my belly button! Seriously, it’s so perfectly round! And also you can’t see the bottom so it looks like a never-ending pit. I really love my belly button so much. This is why it has escaped piercing so long :D).

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Filed under life, recovery

reminiscing.

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.”

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clothes.

Today I’m going to type about positive things. I tend to focus a lot in this blog on what I’m focusing on a lot in my head, and right now, I’m thinking positive.

Today, I got my piercing. It’s really buff (IMO) and I’m glad I did it. Plus it was bare cheap which is always a bonus. I’ve been going to this shonky little place in Walthamstow for a while now called Studio 69. Even the name makes you think it can’t possibly be sterile. It actually is though and the piercer is really lovely and even though it’s cheap, it’s clean and nice and friendly. So I went in today and got my cartilage rim pierced again, just above my other one because I think it’s nice. Plus my piercer looked at my nape (seeing as I can’t exactly check it) and said it was one of the best healed surface piercings she’d seen. Apparently it looks like it’s been healing for 8 months/a year, but I’ve only had it three months. She took a picture of it to put on the website and everything. Makes me happy. I also got my tragus bar replaced as I felt it was way too long and often stuck out too much, and my nose piercing stretched in order to fit proper body jewellery so I can get a serious gold hoop in it eventually and to fix the dent bad studs have put in my nose. I shrunk it over time through buying studs and sleepers from Claire’s Accessories which are less than 1mm in diameter. It has to heal around a bar first, but stage one on the road to garish, tacky gold hoop.

New hole is the most top one. It’s number 13 :D

The Ma also bought me clothes! Clothes that make me happy! Clothes because I’ve been two months smoke free! Clothes because its half-term therefore she’s on holiday and that is reason enough to buy me and the Brother pressies! I love my clothes so much I’m actually going to put pictures of them on here. I have space leggings! Leggings with planets and stars and a nebulous on the bum. They literally make my week I love them so much. And a matching space top! So I can fully dress as the cosmos (next fancy dress sorted)! So many exclamation marks but they are so good! And they make me laugh to wear, which makes them all the better! And she got me a t-shirt with an old map of London on which is really nice as well – I can go to the places on the t-shirt, wearing the t-shirt! Basically, all the good clothes. And also, some incredibly fab pants. They are good because they are very high which is actually reassuring as it’s another layer cover up for recovery bellies (and I’m one of those people that think actually, big pants are really nice). Honestly, I don’t care that I’m being weird, sometimes clothes can make me joyous. I am full of joy because I own space leggings and large pants.

Happy leggings! :D:D!

Other really ace clothes. Today has been (successful in a materialistic manner at least).

(Apologies for dreadful image quality – phones init).

I think in recovery, clothes are really important. In life more generally, I like nice clothes and I like to feel like I look acceptable, but in recovery, clothes are crucial. They can be the difference between absolutely unbearable and passable moods. Something that doesn’t fit right, or even something that still fits fine, just not the way you’re used to, can completely wreck a day or two (maybe even a week) if your eating disorder is narrated with body dissatisfaction (like mine). I have therefore come to the conclusion that right now, clothes are a good way to spend the little money I have. In fact, anything that makes me feel marginally better about my skin (after food of course) is top priority. A big problem for me was that as I lost weight, I donated all the clothes that fit my healthy body to charity, resolving never to fit them again. Now I do, and I have nothing. That’s a lie, I kept a lot of t-shirts and dresses. T-shirts are kinda fine whatever your size I think. They are either more tight or more loose, but they always kinda fit whatever size you are. Genuinely, my t-shirt collection ranges from size 4 to size 20 and the all fit fine I think. Maybe I’m just not that fussy when it comes to t-shirts. Plus most of my dresses are second-hand which essentially means they are all size 12. A lot of things had to be re-bought though. And I bought some new stuff I didn’t desperately need because I was too uncomfortable in what I owned.

Like most people in recovery I think, clothes have hugely effected me, but eventually, I have learnt a few things. It’s a stupid list, but these are things that have made clothes (and by implication, living in more fat tissue) easier (though not easy) to bear.

1) Stay away from second-hand.

In my life in general, I firmly believe that there are lots of perfectly good and actually really nice second-hand clothes to be had, so buying newly made stuff is kinda wasteful. And also, you end up buying some pretty nifty items this way. Obviously some things have to be newly made (like underwear and really smart suity stuff) and sometimes it’s nice to buy something new, but I like to get most of my clothes from friends, vintage or charity. At my lowest weights, I couldn’t get second-hand clothes anymore because there is a point when you just get too small for most people’s hand me downs, but with recovery, I was really looking forward to having a good rummage in my local charity shops.

However, I was wrong. This is an awful idea. Absolutely, categorically stupid. Why? Because there is no standard sizing. If I like a pair of jeans in a charity shop and they seem like my size, I get excited and really want them.  I try them on, only to realise I’ve grown, but I’d already set my heart on them, there’s no getting another pair. And even if you I on a different pair in a bigger size, they might be too big or too small as sizes between brands aren’t standard. It’s traumatic. Seriously. It’s ok for jumpers and cardis and dresses because most of these things look fine in sizes that are a bit big, but jeans, skirts, shorts, trousers, shirts etc. are a no. Anything that actually has to kinda fit isn’t worth it. It’s confusing and hard and really, there’s plenty of time for second-hand once I’m comfortable and at a stable weight. The rest of my life in fact.

2) Primark and H&M are your best friend.

Ok so there are problems with H&M sizing because a lot of things run up small which can cause drama, but they are cheap. I’m sure there are other dirt cheap clothes shops, but these are the ones I have easy access to. When my body was changing a whole load, it was kinda important to be wearing clothes that fit at different stages, but that can be really difficult money-wise, so cheap shops are crucial. The worst thing I could do is continue to wear clothes that make me constantly conscious of the fact I’m bigger and I actually think it’s pretty impractical to buy clothes that will fit “once I’m weight restored” because really, I didn’t know what size I’d be once I was weight restored. This is the one instance when I actually believe disposable fashion is the way forward. Especially with things like jeans. I borrowed other people clothes as well for interim periods. They didn’t have to be all that nice, but a plain enough pair of jeans or skirt or something for as cheap as possible is a good idea. They didn’t have to be well made or last forever because I would probably grow out of them. I just made sure they were things I was happy to leave behind when the day came.

3) Lycra

Might sound stupid, but anything that stretches is good, even if its tight-fitting. Leggings and cycling shorts are super comfortable and stretch to your shape. If I don’t want to wear them out because I’m not comfy enough with my body, thas fine, I’ve got my crappy Primark jeans, but in the house, they reign supreme on the comfort level. They are actually pretty forgiving clothes and you can buy them in a size smaller than you, or a size bigger, and they’ll still fit kinda the same. It works with bodycon skirts and dresses too for if I’m feeling a little more confident and want something a bit less casual for outside appearances. I own a lot of stretchy lycra things and actually, a lot of it looks better now I’m bigger. Wearing lycra clothes which fit baggy on you isn’t attractive, but most of it fits now. I have ridiculously small-sized skirts but really, they fit a bit better now and give me a fabz batty. Lycra is a winner in recovery because it grows with you. And also, it can be bought bare cheap (New Look even do multipack leggings) or if you fancy something a bit more interesting, it’s easily avaliable. And to be honest, cycling shorts and leggings triple up as perfect yoga clothes and pjs. Yuss.

4) If it makes you smile, it’s worth it

I get immense guilt when shopping, but I’ve found that in recovery, clothes that are a bit stupid but make me happy are worth spending a little bit more than I’m comfy on. For me, this involves princess skirts and t-shirts with dinosaurs on and anything with a lot of glitter or sequins or rhinestones on it. I like to dress up, so my taste is a little bit odd, but I think that everyone has clothes that make the a little bit more happy and anything that increases your sum of happiness is worth it. Especially if it can make something as difficult as clothes a bit more cheery. Now is the time for stupid items that make each day a little bit more silly.

5) Baggy vests and t-shirts.

And lots of them. They are cheap and can be worn with anything and basically cover up a lot of the standard uncomfortable body zones. You can get really long ones to cover bums and hips, but also tummies and upper arms if need be. And they actually look alright with almost anything. Especially the lycra leggings. They are nice and airy for when it’s hot, but can easily be teamed with vests underneath and hoodies/jumpers/cardis of any description. They look good tucked in to high-waisted things or pulled in with a waist belt. They look good with low or natural waisted things too. And jeans. And you can get them a little sheer if you want something a tinsy bit see through so you feel a bit less like you’re hiding. I like the tiny bit see through ones because I feel like I’m hiding, but I don’t think I look like I am. No one knows I’m hiding but me.

6) Jeans.

Are the most difficult thing to buy and are a little bit important to own. If they stop fitting, get rid of them and get some which fit better. Or not. I can always wear a skirt and to be honest, it’d be a lot less traumatic to buy.

7) Remove anything that doesn’t fit.

I’d be a hypocrite to say throw it away, because I can’t… Just in case. Which is stupid because what does that mean? Just in case I engage in eating disordered behaviours again for long enough to drop a noticeable amount of clothes sizes? I don’t want that to happen. In fact, I want to remove anything that makes that tempting. But I can’t yet. Argh. Still, removing it all from my room was one of my better moves. Getting it out of line of sight whilst getting dressed saves a lot of “oh I’ll just see” moments. They make me feel like shit. Replace with all the things that fit.

8) If on any day you’ve got the balls, wear it.

So I wake up one day and you think “I can actually look at my legs”, that is the day I parade them about. The more I do it, the easier it gets. Exposure therapy init. I don’t even think it’s important that it’s my style or anything. I think just being about to wear whatever I like, regardless of what parts of my body it does or doesn’t show, is a nice thing to aim for. Once I know I can have my legs out as much as I want, I can keep them covered in trousers if I’d like, but just knowing that it is really my choice, not because I’m too scared or ashamed, would be a nice thing I think. So on that rare day I’m comfy enough with my whole body, crop tops and hot pants. Why not?

9) It’s not the end of the world.

In the end, clothes aren’t that important, but learning to accept changes in weight is. If all I can bare is sweats, then so be it. Having a healthy body is more important than anything else. Clothes are pretty expensive and kinda boring to shop for and sometimes you just end up crying and wanting to go home. If that’s the case, go home. There are other days and other clothes. Sometimes pjs are the only thing I can stand. There’s no rush. Whatever makes me the most comfortable as my body stabilizes is what’s best. It’s not static, it’s not the same every day and it doesn’t just get progressively easier. Joggers may as well have been designed for recovery. And big hoodies. And whatever other clothes I wear when I’ve got flu. Who cares how I dress really? If it’s acceptable to me, it should be acceptable to whoever else. Whatever makes it easier to reach and sustain a healthy body.

So there you go, my clumsy understanding of what works, and what doesn’t work, for me as far as clothes are concerned. Body image is a major part of my eating disorder, so clothing is traumatic, but I think if I stick to these rules, I’m ok. I’m kinda hoping this explains a little bit why it’s got really important, but also really hard, for me to shop the way I do. Hopefully. Mostly because I’m embarrassed that I buy things. I feel like I shouldn’t, so want others to understand why and how I’m justifying it to myself in the hope it justifies it to them too. I duno. I probably care too much what others might think of me.

(Is it bad I’m really self-conscious on my legs in that image? It’s probably bad. But still, I’d feel too ashamed to publish this if I didn’t mention the fact that yes I know my legs are chunky. I’m not too stupid to not realise. I don’t care all that much though. It’s worth it to show off my fabz leg wear).

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