Just Because

Just because you see the smile doesn’t mean there isn’t anything hurting behind my eyes. Just because you see the food being eaten doesn’t mean there isn’t any fear behind every mouthful that I swallow.

I’m not pretending to be okay. I’m fighting to be okay.

And each day is getting better…I think so, anyway.

In fact, I know so.

But from the moment I wake to the moment I shut my eyes my mind is plagued with fears and doubts and questions. When will I eat? What is on my meal plan? Will I be hungry at the correct times and what if I’m not hungry at the right times? Will I lose weight? Am I going to gain weight? What if I break my plan and have a biscuit in that meeting at work? What if I want to purge later? What if I end up purging? What should I do tomorrow to make up for any slip ups today?

Even if I have my three meals and my one hour of exercise my mind is plagued with these thoughts and you know what, it’s tiring as hell.

It’s been 4 months of meal plans and increasing my exercise week-by-week and a massive reduction in both my restrictive and purging habits.

And here we are, still trundling along.

After I initially stopped the purging I did gain a few pounds, but in all honesty (other than the pesky number on the scales ruining my mood) it didn’t really change me or my body that much. I didn’t instantly become fatter from stopping the purging.

But I still had hoped that 4 months down the line, that I would have physically changed.

I do know I have some body fat to lose. I just desire my stomach to be flat. My stomach is the only part of me that I am so incredibly self-conscious about. It always has been.

Even as I am in the process of writing this out I simultaneously wish I didn’t care about my weight. I’ve sometimes spoken about wishing I was the girl I used to be who didn’t care about my weight or what people said. I realise today that, that’s a lie.

I was forced to pretend everything was okay. I supressed every single one of my emotions by putting on a smile and learning how to laugh the pain away (and comfort eating in the process). I wasn’t ‘me’…I wasn’t allowed to be me.

No wonder I snapped one day.

Is it normal to miss your illness?

I don’t know if ‘miss’ is the right word.

I don’t enjoy purging. I don’t enjoy restricting. I don’t miss not being able to get out of bed for being weak. I don’t miss the burning in my throat day and night. I don’t miss the cramping in my stomach from laxative abuse but maybe I miss all the lies it was telling me. The lies I believed.

Maybe I miss the false sense of control it gave me. The reassurance that I was going to be ‘better’ if I did what it was suggesting I do.

I need to find a positive in this post and I can find a good one – yes I initially gained some weight when I started eating 3 meals a day, but I haven’t gained more than those initial 4 pounds.

I haven’t suddenly become the fat girl I was scared of becoming. The fat girl I am still scared of becoming. I’ve just sort of hovered in this middle ground…little bit heavier…but a whole lot healthier.

I’m currently maintaining.

I’m writing this because I have a little bit of free time at work and I want to purge.

I want to purge even though I had 1 sandwich for lunch because…well let’s try to be honest…because deep down I don’t think this is about weight loss…I’m a little overworked, a little tired, a little self-conscious and a friend being cruel in the way she spoke about my ED a few nights ago has left me feeling vulnerable.

If I break it down further, the ‘fight’ on Sunday night left me remembering those who have used my ED to their advantage to control me. It made me remember and feel feelings of worthlessness and being taken for granted. It made me feel uncared for and ‘dumped’.

Let’s be honest, it just made feel shit.

Well at least I can pin point what’s triggering me this week.

I’m trying to remember that I’m a whole lot healthier than I was 4 months ago….4 pounds ago…

I wish being healthier didn’t hurt as much as it does right now.

They say actions speak louder than words but, just because my actions are those of a normal person, doesn’t mean the words my brain deals with aren’t deafening.

 

It’s Okay

Girls Night Out had been planned for at least 2 months and, now that I think about it, I was the one who had initiated the plans in the first place. We were to go out on the Friday but as soon as the preceding Monday arrived I was filled with guilt and nerves.

I was nervous I would be the biggest. I was nervous that none of my clothes would fit. I was nervous about what the numbers were saying to me, whether it was the calories, the scales, or the dress sizes.

I then blamed myself for the fact I didn’t want to go.

I felt guilty that the thought of a night out scared me. I felt guilty that I was too petrified to try on outfits. I felt guilty that I just knew I wouldn’t be having as much fun as my friends because my thoughts were focused elsewhere.

Add on the stress of a very demanding deal at work all week with close to midnight finishes on a daily basis…before I knew it, it was Friday and I felt physically ill.

Truth be told, I was tired. I was so incredibly exhausted from my mental battles, work. gym and I was desperate to sleep. Every morning I wake up and there’s new fights in my head. The voice asking when am I going to eat? What am I going to eat? Will I purge? Will I restrict? Will I fail and do both? What are others going to eat? Am I going to gain weight? Will I go to the gym to make up for it? When should I eat? Am I strong enough today? Should I eat that? Why did I eat that?

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Along came Friday and I was hurting, I was exhausted and I couldn’t do it.

I put a dress on and did my makeup but then told them I wasn’t going out and went and cried in my bedroom. I told myself I was weak. That I had failed because I hadn’t been strong enough to go out.

But then I tried to turn that thought around. I’ve been working my way through a Compassionate Mind Therapy workbook aimed at (as you can guess) developing my compassionate mind. Me and my old therapist used to focus on CMT and it’s actually been incredibly refreshing and enlightening to bring myself back to this form of therapy.

Long story short, we have 3 systems: threat, drive and soothing. They all interact with one another and if you imagine drawing how active they are in my life as circles on a piece of paper, my threat circle is HUGE, my drive circle quite large and my soothing circle? It’s basically non-existent.

Experiences and memories either help the circles grow or shrink and I need to focus on shrinking how big that threat voice is and allow the soothing voice to grow.

I have spoken about my past in many previous posts so there’s no need to go into too much detail but the book encouraged me to think about why my threat voice is so predominant in my everyday life.

I thought about my family  who criticised me for being overweight as a child. Instead of finding a healthy way for me to lose weight they told me that because of my weight and my disabilities that I was an embarrassment and no one would love me. I thought about the children who bullied me for being so fat and the boys who teased and taunted me. thought about the boys who had taken me for granted, used me, abused me.

I thought about the coaches who criticised every sporting achievement, telling me it was never good enough because I was fat. They put me under so much pressure to ‘make it’ and only ever talked about my weight, criticising it in front of others, embarrassing me in front of the team. They never noticed when I became a really dangerous weight, all they saw was the ‘fatter’ athlete I had been previously.

I thought about how much pain my dad’s long-term affair and money issues brought to my family. I thought about my cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Volkmann’s contracture, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, damaged kidneys, nerve damage, ruptured muscles, slipped discs, the time I had pre-cancerous cells and how every doctor’s appointment made me feel a little bit more broken than the last.

And then I thought about me.

I thought about how the child in me only ever wanted to be loved. I only ever wanted to mean something, to be valued. I thought about how I became such an over-achiever because I thought it would get me the attention I deserved, only to be crushed when I was told I was never good enough. I thought about how the adult me is always overly-eager to help others, to be there for everyone in the hope that they not just value my presence but will be there for me in return. I thought about how I hate to consider myself needy but I admittedly crave attention, I need affirmation that I am worth something.

That I’m not worthless and there is value to who I am.

It’s easy to see why I blamed everything on being ‘overweight’. Why I convinced myself that everything would be better if I lost weight and why it gave me control over my chaotic life that was spiraling every day.

It then became easier to blame myself even less for becoming bulimic after I wrote everything down. I blame myself even less now that I’m writing it down here.

I know I had gotten myself worked up all week but I was feeling incredibly rubbish, took some time to work through a chapter in this book and realised everything was okay. It was okay to miss a night out because I wasn’t up for it. It didn’t mean I was weak. It meant I was ill at that moment in time, too ill to go out. If I had the flu, I wouldn’t have gone, so there I was not weak when I took myself out of a triggering situation, to go do some self-therapy and work through it.

I don’t need to deny that I’m ill nor do I need to justify the way my illness makes me feel. It’s okay if you’re sad one day and smiling the next. Every now and then, it’s okay to not be okay.

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Number Crunching

I did that thing I wasn’t supposed to do.

I did it even though I knew it wasn’t going to do me any good.

I stepped on the scales and that pain I knew would arrive came rushing, burning through every part of my body.

I stood there, simply hurting.

8 weeks into recovery and I had gained some weight.

I could see it coming, I knew I had. I knew I felt bloated and bigger around my midriff. I mean, I’d spent hours criticising the way I looked before I even stepped onto the scales.

I ignored the fact I was now exercising 4-5 times a week. I forgot that it was the end of the day and I had been eating 3 meals a day like clockwork. I refused to accept I was wearing trainers and clothes when I took that fatal step onto the scales.

And boy, am I struggling with this weight gain?

I’m trying to reassure myself that 4 llb’s isn’t that bad but the Demon inside tells me it is. I’ve spent countless hours crying to my boyfriend because the need to restrict and the desire to purge have been at their loudest for the past 12 days.

It makes me feel embarrassed to need so much help lately.

I’m suffering from this constant fear that they’re all going to leave me.

Most of all, it hurts. Everything simply hurts and there’s no actual medication I can take that will numb the pain.

Going round in circles. Can’t face looking at my reflection but simultaneously can’t stop looking at my ‘imperfections’. Don’t want to eat my meals but fighting to make sure that I do.

At least I’m still fighting.

I’ve just spent the weekend in Manchester with my best friend. A trip we planned a while ago and if I hadn’t paid for my ticket, I may have given into the ED telling me to bail.

We did nothing. A few walks, a few movies and lots of cups of tea. But it was perfect and, as it turns out, just what I needed.

I needed nothing.

I needed time away from my place where, unfortunately, bad memories already exist.

I needed time to stop and breathe and think.

Time to just do nothing.

I feel better for it.

I’m trying to take some time to understand that just because I’ve gained weight, it doesn’t mean I’m fat. Just because the number has increased doesn’t mean I’m unworthy.

In fact, I’ve started to feel more ‘worthy’ than ever before.

And between you and me, I have learnt an incredible amount these last 8 weeks.

I’ve been using a compassionate mind work book, I’ve had 8 weeks of balanced meal plans and healthy exercise. I’ve had a few purges and hardly any binges and I’ve hardly skipped any meals.

It hurts and I constantly feel drained.

But I’m happier.

And whether or not I’ve gained 1-4 pounds…I’m definitely healthier.

And I’m sure that, one day, being skinny will not correlate to being ‘healthy’ but that, maybe those extra couple of pounds will.

Nothing like a train ride to dedicate some time to getting negative thoughts away from me ❤️

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Internal Criticisms

The big, dreaded, over-thought-about-before, phone call happened on Thursday. It was supposed to be Tuesday but got switched last minute. That in itself freaked me out for a good 12 hours…

But deep breaths and I got there.

I was so incredibly nervous to hear my old therapist’s voice as I sat on my bed but as I did I felt relieved and safe. I wasn’t in his big warm comfy office, but I may as well have been.

I always thought the kidney surgery was to blame for my relapse. I had this month of being unable to eat and if I did eat I would throw up involuntarily and I lost weight as a result. I remember crying to friends about how hard it was but I don’t think I quite got across  the fact I was talking about the mental pain, not the physical pain from the surgery.

He tried to get me back to basics, to talk about what happened in the months before that illness and all of a sudden, I remembered:

  • “Peru Sunday” (although all of that is more than solved right now. It was SHIT. It wasn’t fair but it is what it is)
  • My dad forced me to meet my ten year old half brother and took me round some of my most favourite places in London (some of which are now too hard for me to go to).
  • Family arguments when they asked me to give them a substantial amount of money and I ended up threatening to get lawyers involved.
  • I’ve drifted from a best friend completely. That was a painful process which I tried to repair but I genuinely think we just drifted naturally.

I cried so much. All this pain coming out. My friends and boyfriend want me to talk to them but I struggle so much due to the fact they emotionally care about me. I’m not saying my therapist doesn’t care about me but there is an element of ‘he can detach his emotions from me’. So when I tell him things, I don’t see a cringe in his face or hear pain in his voice.

It’s easier to remember everything.

We discussed how it sounds as though my ‘critical voice’ is at a whole new high and it’s suppressing any sort of ‘compassionate voice’ that would soothe my feelings. He asked me what the voice says…

No one’s ever going to love the fat girl.
You should be grateful that you have a boyfriend, that someone’s putting up with you.
No one’s ever going to understand or love the girl who makes herself sick.
No one’s ever going 
to love you.
Everyone’s going to get fed up with you if you can’t recover, they’re justified to abandon you.
You’re so fat.

….

Then he asked me, who these phrases (oh there’s more than just the above) remind me of?…

My greek family told me at 10 years old that I would never find love because I was so fat.

An ex told me that everyone else would hurt me because of the bulimia, that no one would love me, that I wouldn’t find anyone else other than him and then I’d regret leaving….that I should be grateful.

An ex told me I wasn’t trying to recover. That he knew I was restricting and purging but it was 100% up to me to recover….I remember that one the clearest. That conversation hit me so hard, it made me feel like I was alone and couldn’t ask for help. It made me feel like everything was my fault.

The reality of what me and my therapist hit me so hard. I felt this lump in my chest and as though I was choking trying to get words out. I had internalised all these horrible voices and was now repeating the phrases to myself.

And as I stripped down those phrases, as I looked behind the words I repeat to myself on a daily basis, it wasn’t me saying them any more. I could visualise the situation as if I was stood in a corner watching myself.

It was my greek grandma and my dad, in her flat in Athens, at the kitchen table praising my brother for eating so much food and then criticising me for eating the same. It was them saying across the table at a 10-year-old me that they would have to find me a rich husband because no one would ever love and want to marry the Fat Roly Poly.

It was a 13-year-old-me sat in the corner of a room whilst a group of ‘friends’ played spin the bottle but I wasn’t allowed to play because I was so fat the boys might have to kiss me and that’s disgusting. 

It was a 20 year-old-me being forced to do extra cardio and when the other athletes asked the coach why that was the case he replied, because unlike you she obviously has fat to lose. 

I remember each comment clearly. I remember my age, the room we were in, the clothes I was wearing. The comments clearly hurt me so deeply but I almost forgot that it was others saying these things because I started to, and still do, say them to myself.

So that’s my new task. My homework, so to speak, to keep trundling along with this recovery but to try unpack every negative thought I have about myself. To try detach that internal voice that actually isn’t mine.

It never was.

 

 

Little Black Dress

Four weeks and four weekly food plans adhered to.

28 days and not a single step onto a set of scales.

One month of crazy emotions, spiralling back and forth. Happy then sad. Feeling weak and then strong, and quite frankly? … I’m exhausted.

I’m incredibly happy though that my boyfriend decided to educate himself about eating disorders. I don’t even think my family did that when they found out and I do feel the benefit of having support from someone already more educated about the feelings we with ED’s go through.

He understands how draining it is for me and appreciates that.

In turn, I truly appreciate ho much support he is trying to give me.

He took my scales away. I told him to, when I got the strength to tell him I needed his help 4 weeks ago and 28 days later, I’m starting to feel proud that I asked for help. I can’t explain how cathartic it is to be able to talk through every thought that goes through my head pretty much every day. Not one day goes by where that Demon doesn’t rear it’s ugly head but since asking for that support, I’ve had it every minute, whenever I’ve needed it.

I don’t want to exhaust him though and I do experience those fears that he’s going to leave or treat me like everyone else did whenever I opened up…but he’s simply there and to be honest, that’s all I need.

He knows that now too.

That sometimes you just need someone there.

Just to listen to your thoughts and fears or to hold your close and wipe away your tears.

It’s an incredibly safe feeling to know that he is there.

We spent one afternoon at the shops. An activity I would never usually get up to because of all the mirrors reflecting my flaws or the tight clothes that don’t fit me because of my weight…but we went.

I saw this cute little dress and decided to try it on, convinced the last small wouldn’t fit me at all. I mean, between all of us, regardless of my weight I do have a hefty chest…34DD-DDD…and sometimes, that chest is half the battle for me mentally. Being short with a big bust would make shopping hard in the first place let alone with an ED in the mix!

Anyway, back from the tangent! I went slightly gloomily to the dressing room and it fit. And I, for once, wasn’t ’embarrassed’ of my ‘huge chest’ that was a little bit on display.

I actually felt so confident I walked right out of the dressing room there and then to show him. His face when he turned around said it all and in that moment I was so so happy.

It didn’t take long for the Demon to rear it’s ugly head mind and I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. As silly as that sounds. All these negative thoughts came running and instead of that awesome feeling I felt when I put it on, I just felt overweight and ugly.

Back on the hanger it went.

Fast forward a week or so later, our usual weekly visit to see one another and he told me he had a surprise….he came out with a hanger carrying that little black dress.

He said, he didn’t buy it because it looked great on me but, rather, I had looked so happy twirling around the dress looked ten times better than it already did and he didn’t want me not to have it, to miss out on that feeling of happiness when I put it on.

I think I smiled in silence for about ten minutes straight after that.

A small gesture that was actually so thoughtful and really meaningful. I couldn’t be happier.

I picked a good egg, that’s for sure. X

Hunger Battles

I don’t remember exactly when eating three moderately sized meals became the wrong thing to do.

When did eating regularly become such a foreign habit?

My specially picked, hand drawn up weekly food plans seem to take a lifetime to plan and sticking to them feels like I’m trying to swim through mud Monday to Sunday.

I know I’ve picked healthy balanced meals but when it comes to meal times, I’m simply not hungry.

I don’t feel a hunger pain that I’m deliberately ignoring but I just feel nothing. In fact, I spend most of the week feeling full, contrary to the reality of what I’m actually eating.

I did it though, I followed the plan and ate at the times I was supposed to. The exact meal I had committed to preparing and despite not feeling hungry, I ate.

I ate because deep down I knew I was supposed to.

But friday was tough. I got to friday morning and after crying at most meal times for eating when I didn’t feel hungry, I woke up starving.

And I mean starving.

And as my hunger started to wake up I started to panic for an opposite reason.

I spent my week scared because I was eating without feeling that hunger pain and now I was panicking because I finally felt that hunger pain telling me that I should eat.

I’ve spent so many years, more than a third of my life, convinced hunger was the enemy. I spent those years believing that ignoring the hunger made me strong.

A constant battle of second-guessing whether I am hungry or not.

A battle of, am I actually hungry? Surely that hunger pain means I’m greedy. Ignoring it will make me stronger….turns into the next battle of, I don’t feel hungry so why would I eat? Am I being weak for eating when I don’t feel hungry? 

A battle that seems to want to spiral out of control. But I’ve managed to keep it under control this week, even though there were a few bumps along the way.

Simply because there isn’t a hunger pang doesn’t mean my body doesn’t need nourishment…

I’m proud of this week. I purged once but otherwise stuck to my plans despite the fear.

I’ll be speaking to my old therapist over the phone in a couple of days. A call that has been organised due to my recent relapse. We’ll be discussing the big question of whether or not I should start seeing a new therapist down here. Part of me think that means I’ve failed. Part of me is scared to open up from scratch. Part of me thinks it could be good to have that professional support here when I need it.

A lot of things to think about this weekend but a lot of positive actions to praise myself for too.

Happy weekend x

Just say this or that

I slipped up and he told me he was ‘frustrated’.

Since admitting my relapse the other week I’ve pretty much put every practical step into motion that you can think of.

I moved into his for the week so I could have that really close support (supervision too). We sat and made a meal plan, did the food shop and helped me prepare what I needed to. We made food choices based off healthy levels of exercise throughout the week. Spoke to my therapist and even someone at work. New food diary, new journal and off to a new me(!).

But I slipped up.

I tried so hard to battle that Demon’s voice and I lost.

I had one slice of pizza and I couldn’t even cope with that.

I felt forced to eat it, pretty much. Everyone else was. It was leftovers from our department pizza party last night (a party I couldn’t stay at for more than an hour because socialising around the alcohol and pizza physically scared me).

I told myself say no. I ordered myself to refuse.

Some may tell me that it’s as simple as that.

‘You don’t have to eat it. You can say no.’

Saying no is hard though.

Why couldn’t I have said no?

A slice of pizza wasn’t on your meal plan. You’re weak for saying yes. You’re weak for diverting from the plan. You should be ashamed. You’re going to gain so much weight.

All these thoughts running through my head seconds after I finished.

I felt dissociated from my body after that. And all of a sudden it was ‘done’.

I promised to text him if I ever purged and so I did. But my text made him sad and ‘frustrated’. I don’t ever expect him to condone a purge and he refuses to say the words ‘its okay’ to get that across. But sometimes I just need that. I just need to hear the words ‘its okay, we’re going to get through it.’

I’m tired of not being okay. Tired of being up and down with this illness. I was doing quite well and I’m so disappointed I couldn’t keep it going. I’m more disappointed that I’ve made someone I care about incredibly sad.

Shaking these feelings of shame and disgust is tough. I always knew it would be.

I wish I could have said no to the slice but I’ve also been on that awful side of the spectrum where I said no to everything. Where saying yes was the hardest word to get out of my mouth.

Trying to find that balance and trust that it’s ‘safe’ to do so.

Trying to trust myself more than anything, I suppose.

 

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