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 spoke about hit me so hard. I felt this lump in my chest 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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Back to Basics

 

Apologies as there may be some triggering thoughts here.

So, I thought I was doing okay and there were times I thought I was fine. Or at least the ‘Demon’ told me I was okay. Convinced me I didn’t need help. That there wasn’t an issue because what I was doing was keeping me ‘slim’.

Well you know what, what I was doing also made me sad. It also made me cry at my best friend’s birthday party because it made me so scared to be around food, drink and others. It made me angry at myself for not losing weight and it made me so incredibly insecure that my boyfriend would leave me if he found out.

I started to notice the ‘tricks’ coming back into play. Double/triple-checking that my housemates most definitely were not going to be home that evening. Going to toilets on floors at work that I knew nobody went to. That bag that sat in my wardrobe waiting for me to sneak it to the bins outside. Telling friends I had already eaten or would be eating later when I’d already planned to skip those meals.

And nobody really knew.

That in itself made it easier but deep down I almost ached for someone to ask. For that one person to see behind my smile and recognise that I was not okay. I was generally happy but I was in so much pain over what I was yet again doing to my body.

And then it happened. I hit rock bottom just as hard as previous relapses and I picked up the phone. I sat in the corner of my room, I suppose it felt safe, and I text my boyfriend and said point blank I needed him. That I needed to go round and I needed him to help me eat and to help me ‘keep it down’.

I was so scared he would leave or refuse just like others in the past. I was simultaneously scared that he would be upset with me or that I would hurt him by admitting what horrible cycle I’d fallen into once. I felt weak. Like a let-down. A failure.

Damaged.

That’s how I felt.

Damaged goods yet again at rock bottom.

My therapist leaving London last year hit me hard. I had seen him for four years and whilst I was in a really good place the thoughts of having to see someone else and start this process yet again scared the crap out of me and so when I needed help I didn’t feel like I could arrange to go see someone new. To open up about my not-so-great life once more.

But I told my boyfriend and my friends what I needed. For the first time in our relationship I didn’t wish he would offer what I needed…I simply asked. I asked to live with him for the next week or so because I felt I needed supervision. I asked him to sit down and help me plan my meals for the week and to ensure I stick to them regardless of if I tell him ‘I’m okay to change X and happy to eat Y instead.’ I asked him to help me send an email to my old therapist to ask for advice (which was the hardest step of all) and I asked him to come along to dinner with my parents in case I couldn’t handle it on my own. I asked him to help distract me when those thoughts about purging came running.

And he did.

I was upset that he cancelled seeing his friends because I felt that made me a burden but deep down it meant so much to me to know he cared that much.

And I literally told him everything.

I told him every thought that plagued my mind before and after each meal. I told him when I was scared to eat and when I wanted to be sick. I told him every perception I had of myself throughout the day. I told him every negative thought that crossed my mind and I told him of ‘tricks’ that I was ashamed of. I told him of some of my darkest periods of this illness and he just listened.

He didn’t judge, he didn’t comment, he just listened. And I told him that was exactly what I needed.

That’s all I ever need because, in a way, it simply helps me identify what is going wrong and decide what is going to help.

So we went and planned my meals and some gym sessions. He held my hand in the supermarket and he held my hand whilst I ate. We sent those emails and we spoke about the physical implications of this illness – what worries him the most…and whilst that wasn’t a fun conversation…it helped. Each time I ‘panic’ I try to think about the following:

  • I don’t want to have a heart attack due to the stress I’m placing on my body.
  • I don’t want to further damage my liver or kidneys.
  • I don’t want to become infertile.

Each time is ‘the last time’ and each time is one step closer to being that actual last time.

Sometimes the rigid planning makes me feel weak. I criticise myself for not being ‘normal’ and not being able to ‘do this on my own’. But I think I’ve finally after all this time admitted that the practical steps are things I am going to have to apply for the rest of my life. It’s not about needing them because I’m ill but rather that it’s a way of leading a healthy lifestyle.

So here I am, day five. Almost made it to a week since my last relapse.

 

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Today

I hate days like today.

The days where I hate every reflection of myself that I glimpse. The days where I have this uncomfortable feeling of disgust about myself and my image.

I hate these days where I become so scared, yet again, that I’m never going to be ‘perfect’. These days where my biggest fear is looking ‘fat’ this weekend.

I hate having days where the Demon plagues my thoughts with negativity. Days where I feel like I’m being swallowed whole.

Questioning every decision to eat, every exercise that doesn’t seem to shift any weight. Constantly questioning when, if ever, I’m going to feel good enough.

It screams at me that I’m huge and ugly. That I’m weak and disgusting. And the worst of it is, I appreciate these words aren’t true, that I am actually worth more than I think I am but that, in turn, makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed that I even have this illness in the first place.

I have these days where I do just fine, great in fact but I really hate that days like today seem to eradicate any progress I make.

Any step I took forward seems forgotten, lost in that dark space that swallows me whole.

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Hello 2018

I’ve not really been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve always found the ‘New Year, New Me’ to be slightly superficial but major congrats to anyone who fully commits to their resolutions!

However, I do like to reflect and make goals.  (Same thing, I know!!)

I was at a party again for NYE, the same one as last year and it really dawned on me how quick the year has gone and how much has damn well happened. If I try to compare 2017 to the year before, I can definitely say without a doubt that it was a lot more successful.

I passed my final degree with a distinction. I travelled solo to places I’ve always wanted to see and made more travel plans for 2018. I had some amazing times with my friends. I started my new job after graduating and met someone who makes me really happy. I’ve also made some massive steps in my recovery this year.

When I try to make myself goals or rules, I always make them too strict. When I inevitably don’t stick to them, I feel guilty and it can send me down that awful ED spiral. So, I might not be making strict resolutions this year but I’m going to try make some changes to the usual goals I would make.

Instead of losing weight, I want to exercise 3-4 times a week.

Instead of questioning if our relationship is ‘okay’, I want to learn to trust that it is.

Instead of spending all my weekends in London, I want to try visit my friends more.

I want to reduce how many coffees = ‘lunch’ and slowly increase my intake.

I want to distract myself when I’m stressed with a mentally healthy hobby.

I want to feel less insecure by tackling my insecurities head on.

I want to stop feeling like my past is going to drag me down.

The insecurities one is a big one for me. I know I’m getting less and less insecure in my relationship. I do worry that he won’t want the ‘broken one’ or that I’ll ‘never be good enough.’ He’s definitely not as much of a ‘talker’ – as in, I definitely say those three little words and some cheesy stuff a lot more…but the stupid thing is, I know that he does feel the same way about me.

Because of the relatively awful past I’ve had with guys, I look for affirmation a lot. I need to know people are happy with me and that things are going well, as if to protect myself from nasty surprises or horrible situations that might occur.

So, those words and actions confirming the words mean so much to me.

I want to work on needing less of this though. To stop looking for the signs he loves me. Naturally, if they stop all together then I may need to be concerned! But I’m only going to self-sabotage if I don’t learn to just relax a bit.

When I’m with him, it’s all perfect. But when I’m apart – that’s when the fear starts and I can get triggered. I figured I’d bury myself into a new hobby so I’ve got something just for me to enjoy on my own. Hello new camera and photography courses! I’ve always loved capturing memories and nature, being the country bumpkin that I am, so here goes!

Here’s to an even better year.

Happy New Year Everyone xxx

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