Coming out of my Cage

I’ve swam 6 time this week, went to both my weights sessions and rode about 150 miles. The most training I’ve done in a hell of a long time. And I’m still embarrassed to be there, I’m still self-conscious and the thoughts still drive me crazy. But I’m there. I’m still training. I’m still fighting.

I’m still fighting to become healthier, to not panic and purge and to not skip a meal. I would be lying if I was absolutely fine, if my eating habits were perfect. But they’re not. I haven’t purged for a while, but I’ve still been skipping meals, especially on my heavier training days. It’s like an irrational thought telling me that I’ll lose more fat if I’m training more and eating less. I know it doesn’t work like that and I’m working to eat the right food at the right times in order to train as best as I can. In order to be as healthy as I can.

So, what exactly happened in the last 24 hours then?

I manned up. That’s what.

Firstly, one ex-almost saw me and went out of his way to talk to me. A wave genuinely would have sufficed to make me happy but he came and we spoke and it was nice to have a funny normal conversation. It was nice to realise that even though we hadn’t spoke for ages we were still friends. It was nice because he was nice, and it was nice that I had no regrets about going there in the first place. I enjoyed my (brief) time with him and I don’t regret anything that happened.

Secondly, I opened up on my bike ride and told Robin I hadn’t eaten. I told him that’s why I was feeling weak towards the end of the ride and he understood. I will admit that I felt scared to tell him but once I did, once I realised he wasn’t judging, that he was a friend who cared, I didn’t feel so bad. I remember joking that even though I hadn’t eaten, I’d made a massive step by bringing a drink for the very first time on a ride. Although that seems trivial it was actually a massive step for me. I’m glad I told him. He’s the only cyclist who knows but I will never regret opening up because there will be days, like yesterday, where I fall back by restricting and I’ll need someone to help me eat.

Thirdly, I finally went and spoke to the other ex-almost I’d only ever been waving at because I was genuinely scared to talk to him. Genuinely frightened he’d ignore me because he didn’t want anything to do with me. You know what though? It was worth it. It was worth that mini heart attack when I walked up petrified that he was going to have a look of dread on his face when he saw me. Worth the momentary panic that he wouldn’t want to speak but I knew it was worth the risk. For me, it was worth the risk because worst case scenario is that he wouldn’t want to speak and I would get on with it. It was worth it for the smile I got and the genuine conversation we had. It was worth it for the happiness it gave me; the fact it felt so normal. The fact I felt normal again. I wasn’t talking to him as that girl with the eating disorder, but I felt like I was talking to him as a friend. Because…well..that’s what I am…that’s what he is…that’s what we are…we’re friends.

 

No more regrets.

Most importantly, I don’t want to get to the future and regret not tackling my eating disorder any sooner.

However, it’s hard though to look back on the decisions I made and not regret them. To not feel ashamed and embarrassed. I think about how many times I’ve purged in a single day and it makes me feel disgusting. I remember the times I starved myself and it makes me feel like a failure.

But maybe I shouldn’t feel that way. Maybe I’ve simply got to accept that at that very moment in time, whatever choice I made was the only logical choice left in my head. That right then, that exact moment, I felt I had no option left. Maybe I’ve got to stop being too hard on myself and accept that I made irrational choices. I’ve got to accept that I was ill.

I’ve never referred to myself as being ‘ill’ in regards to my eating disorder. But a friend made me realise that I was, and I still am to a certain extent. I was upset that the dress I wore to BBC SPOTY in December didn’t fit me anymore. That I was too fat. She told me that when I wore that dress I was ill. I was still restricting and I was still purging. She reminded me that even though I had been signed-off from my therapist I had admitted to her I had purged and restricted in the run-up to SPOTY as ‘one-offs’ to make sure I was slim.

But it’s never a one-off, is it? One more time. Just skip one more meal. Purge once more. Just once. And you can stop if its only once. But it’s never once. One more time turns into another one more time and another and another. And you spiral downwards, back into that pit where the demon slowly grabs a hold, slowly pushing you back into that cage, locked away from the world.

One-offs, especially if I keep them to myself, turn into a relapse. In fact, a one-off is a relapse. And there’s the other problem. People see me eating and they think I’m fine. People hear me say I’ve not purged and they think I’m fine. People take me out for the night and they think that means I’m fine. But I’m not. The emotions literally eat me up inside every single day. However, the more I’ve opened up, the more I’ve forced myself not to withdraw into my emotions, the more they’ve understood and the more they’ve been able to help me as a result.

I’ve spent too long locked up with only the demon to keep me company. And whilst I’m the only one who truly holds to key to let myself out, I need the help of my friends to find it. And what they don’t realise, is that the smallest of conversations, the smallest of smiles, the smallest act of friendship (like a midnight text a few weeks ago) helps me to find the courage to come out of that cage.

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