‘Full of Joy’


I haven’t written for almost a month, in fact, I think it’s been almost exactly a month since I last wrote. Most of the times when I go silent it means something’s up, something I’m not quite ready to tackle head on but I’m pleased to say this time it’s quite the opposite.

To the north of mainland Greece there’s a teeny tiny island called ‘Skiathos’ and it is by far my favourite. I first came here when they told me I was too fat to represent my country at a Paralympic Games and whilst I arrived all doom and gloom I definitely left, yet again, quite the opposite.

So where else would I head to when I had about a month to myself? Where else would I go where my friends are more like family than my own? So yes, you guessed it, here I am in my favourite place in the entire world. 24 days down, 2 to go. 

I thought I’d get bored or lonely at least once because just under four weeks is a long time. But fact of the matter is, I simply haven’t and I’ve loved every single minute. I’ve been meaning to write but I’ve just been so distracted with sun, sea and my family that I wish was my own. The only reason I’ve finally managed to sit down and type something out is because it’s stormy and windy today that I don’t really have any other option!

The first weeks were tough. I couldn’t help but compare myself to everyone else I saw around me. How flat I perceived their stomachs to be. How I perceived myself in comparison. I restricted and I purged but I also did get it under control. 12 weeks…2 episodes of purging. I tried to deal with it healthily and I will admit I struggled but being around old friends and adoptive family filled me with so much joy – there’s a phrase Greeks use in response to the question, ‘How are you?’ – mi hara – ‘full of joy’ and I think that in itself is a beautiful response. 

One day I woke up insanely happy, I felt some sort of spring in my step and I even later in the day cried over text to my bestest. I simply felt happy. I’ve tried to change how I word things – I would say ‘everyone is so much skinnier than me’ and today I noticed I wrote ‘how I perceived…’ . Trying to develop my awareness of my eating disorder symptoms. I used to write I missed who I used to be before my ED and during this trip I realised I should never have focused on becoming a past version of myself because, simply put, we all change. And, yes, I’ve experienced some horrible things but that doesn’t mean I won’t become the best version of myself as a result.

I told him I loved him. The three words slipped out after weeks of me trying to hold them back. I knew I wouldn’t hear them said to me and that was okay but naturally not the greatest feeling. It got to me a bit but now? I’m completely different. I knew I wouldn’t hear them but I still wanted to say how I felt. I didn’t need to hear them back regardless of how much I want to hear them one day. I was brave enough to put my heart on the line because I cared about being honest with my feelings – for myself as much as for him.

Working really hard to separate my inecurities from reality. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a scary sorta limbo. I know we’re pretty awesome and the fact he’s made a noticeable effort to text more as I’m more of a ‘communicator’ so to speak, the dedicated weekly face time slot and the simple fact that if I need him, really need him, he’s there…and yeah, we’re pretty awesome together…there’s no need to worry. I don’t want to reach that stage where I may have to deal with a guy who decides he’s never gonna love me but I can’t live in fear of something that’s only got a 50% chance of occurring. I’d probably self-sabotage it all that way anyway.

He does say something to me though – ‘I like you an absolute lot’ 

I think I like that more than ‘I love you’ 

Bit like how I prefer the Greek saying of ‘I’m full of joy’ rather than ‘I’m good/fine/okay’ because when I say the latter, some of it is a lie…but I’m always full of joy so to speak as I’m one of those people who finds happiness in the simplest of things, always happy even if I’m not okay with my body shape or my perception of myself.

Maybe I’ll start focusing on trying to be full of joy. Focused on the little things that bring me happiness rather than the things that make me feel okay about myself…

Almost There

My 25th birthday yesterday and to celebrate my quarter-of-a-century-ness the opticians delivered my first ever pair of glasses. Seven years of reading and writing and reading and writing and reading some more at university has left my eyes a little bit worse than where they started off.

Perfectly lovely birthday even if I did panic a little bit at the restaurant we went to. More than an hour in the queue but between you and me, totally worth it. Even lucky enough to be given one of the best tables in the room. Luckier to have pretty awesome company.

I got my exam results today.

I got a distinction in my degree.

That means I’ve kept my job.

That means, after all this time, after all this hard work, after everything that could go wrong and did go wrong, I’m finally going to be a Trainee Solicitor.

At one of the top law firms in the country too.

I really messed up one of my exams, I knew I did and I was worried the mark was going to cost me my job but turns out I passed it. Only just mind; I passed the exam by 5 marks and God did it bring down my average, but, I passed.

And even though it was my lowest mark I’m incredibly proud of it because though I majorly struggled I tried my damned hardest to learn everything I needed and coming out the exam I knew I was close to the pass mark, nothing more but potentially a lot less.

But it doesn’t matter how much I got past that pass mark because I got past it. All I needed to do was get over the pass mark and I would still be employed come September. The firm could take my job away if I didn’t get a certain mark in my degree but they can’t because I did it.

I made it.

Well, almost…

I still have a week to finish the business masters the firm wants me to do and I’m half way through. The finance element has killed me mentally, I’ve never cried over work but that made me cry four times. However, I currently have 2,432 words of my education left, so I suppose I best get back to it…

For once, it’s not really been a bad week in my world.

Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

Welcome Home 


I’ve had this blank page staring back at me the past few days. Want to write, know that I do, but about what? I don’t know.

I just don’t know.

My head is spinning with a thousand questions, so much so I won’t allow myself to even take a step back and appreciate how well the past three weeks have gone. I’ve not weighed myself at all and I don’t feel as much of a need to. Part of me thinks that shows massive progression but the other part tells me its because I’m scared to see the number, that I’m bound to have gained weight.

Every time I think I’ve made steps forward that voice simply tells me I haven’t. It downplays my success. I’ve not purged for more than 3 weeks…but that’s probably because I’ve been with other people, not because I’ve gotten stronger…

He wants to be with me. Says that he does. Says that he really likes me. But I don’t know. What if I’m setting myself up for yet another failure. Am I weak for going back? Or am I making the right choice by trying to work through whatever happened? But what did happen? I don’t know. I still don’t get it, I still can’t process it because he hasn’t given me a reason as to why he did what he did.

And my head keeps spinning.

When I’m with him, its perfect. As though nothing happened. But when I’m alone I just think of all that pain he brought to that Sunday a few weeks ago.

He said after a really long (and I mean really long) relationship he’s scared of picking the wrong person. He described it as akin to a mental health issue, that he panicked and almost couldn’t control the things he was saying. I can half understand that, even though none of my friends do.

But surely that means I’m the wrong person? I mean, of course I am. No matter how many steps I move forward nor how many achievements I make, I have so many failures and broken pieces of me that can never be forgotten.

Failures and broken pieces that are rooted in a bastard of an eating disorder.

Of course I would never be right.

Of course, each time someone ‘genuine’ comes along, they soon enough realise I’m not right.

Why would I be?

Does this mean he’s just going to end it another day in the future? Right now, he is right for me. I don’t believe its healthy to look too far into the future regarding relationships too soon but am I just here, making him better for the next one to come along? Just like always.

Always setting them up to treat the next one better.

For once I thought I was finally getting treated better.

I just don’t know anymore.

But he does treat me right. One stupid afternoon, one epic mind fuck but everything else feels incredibly normal and perfect. I can’t spend a relationship second guessing everything…just like I can’t spend my recovery second guessing every step forward that I make.

No more second guessing, back to going with the flow, I suppose.


Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

The Number Game ain’t a Fun Game

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Pesky little things numbers, aren’t they?

We place so much value on what a few digits can tell us and yet they truly tell us nothing at all.

I will be the first to admit I become obsessed with the number on the scales all too quickly at times and the number can either comfort me or send me into despair.

I haven’t been happy that the number on the scale seems to have increased and not dropped at all lately. I usually let it dictate my happiness but there’s more to life than numbers.

A friend pointed out my ‘amazing ass’ the other day and so I had a little think.I put together two pictures one from this week and one from 5 weeks ago…here it is…

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Same beautiful smile, same happiness. The only difference was the number on the scales.

But look at the change…not only have my legs gotten more muscular I think I look healthier. Now I’m not saying I was unhealthy in the first picture but I do think I look stronger as a whole in the second.

The numbers have dictated my happiness in the past but that’s all they are…numbers..and I’m worth more. They don’t reflect true values such as friendships, work or even that muscle you’ve clearly gained in the gym!

So chin up and ignore what those numbers tell you. It’s only a digit and only you get to decide what it means.

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A Beautiful Contradiction

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Let me tell you this. Being told that no feelings had developed, no slight spark after almost 10 weeks of seeing me was potentially one of the most hurtful comments I’ve ever had. Being told that it has all been entirely platonic and being asked to explain why I thought he liked me was a massive kick in the teeth.

I was actually somewhat nice about him in my last post but that’s who I am as a person: I try really hard to see the best in people’s words and actions but the more I think about it, the more I realise that he did mess me around, even if he didn’t mean to. I genuinely don’t believe any objective bystander would tell me I misread his actions and it hurts to feel as though the last 10 weeks were nothing.

That he had no feelings.

It hurts. That’s for sure.

It’s compounded further by the fact I opened up to him. I told him things I would never tell someone I was dating and I have that niggle in my mind that had I not done so he might have liked me. I don’t believe that’s why he ended it but I’m always going to have that doubt that I’m simultaneously too much and not good enough. That I’ve been through so much that I’m damaged goods and not worth anyone’s time.

I’m worth someone’s time though. One day.

But guess who text me at 5am on NYE/New Year’s day?

Okay so it was just a generic ‘Happy New Year x’ text but I do feel kinda of happy that I can 100% tell you I didn’t think of him when I was at this party and yet he thought to send me a text. I mean, yes it was just a generic text he probably sent to all, but he still thought to send me a text me regardless of whether he was drunk or not. My heart jumped and sank a little at the same time when I saw it. Probably because I didn’t expect a text and also because I didn’t hope for him to text me either.

I didn’t reply. I considered it because I wanted to be nice but then I thought, even if he was just trying to be nice, why should I give him the satisfaction of me replying? Most importantly, he hurt me so why should I give him even 10 seconds of my time?

If you couldn’t see how your actions and words hurt me then you really don’t deserve my time.

“Remember that you were art long before he came to admire you, and you’ll continue to be art even when he’s gone”

Mind you, this party I went to? Damn amazing. This fully alcohol-catered-unlimited-free-cocktail-party with a pool (yes, of course I went in!) with lovely people all around me was brilliant. I only knew two people but left with so many friends and most importantly, I went with no expectations and I left with no expectations.

(I also left without my bra, but that’s a story for another day and I promise it’s not sex-related!)

I didn’t go to this party freshly hurt by this guy looking for anyone to make myself feel better. Rebounds never work and one-off rebounds most definitely never work. Jumping straight back in doesn’t allow you to heal.

However, I accidentally met someone.

And I had quite a lovely evening in general.

I had an even more lovely New Year’s Kiss.

And that’s all I’ll say about that because he asked for my number and if I’d see him again but I doubt anything will come of it. However, the fact I don’t care what happens feels even more special right now.

I’m hurt but I’m not crying.
I’m hurt but I’m happy.
I’m on my own but I’m alright with the fact he’s gone.

I feel like a contradiction but I’m a beautiful contradiction at that.

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Twitter: @elenip92

Wise Words

 

Words are powerful. They can crush a heart or heal it. They can shame a soul or liberate it. They can shatter dreams or energise them. They can obstruct connection or invite it. They can create defences or melt them. We have to use words wisely. 

My motivation to write can come from a variety of sources and when I get an idea or the urge to write I take a picture to include with each post. Admittedly its usually a selfie or a picture of something I’ve done that day that’s made me happy but I never post the pictures where I’m sad.

The words from the small paragraph I’ve included above could not be truer. The picture on the left is from my morning coffee in the back garden and I took the one on the right about 5 hours later. The change is staggering and the reason for the change? One small sentence said to me shortly after the first picture was taken.

I would never usually take a selfie of me crying, desperately trying to hold myself together but I decided today I would. I wanted to show the reality. I want people to see the hurt and struggles that I still go through because no matter how hard I try to ignore it, no matter how hard I pretend I’m okay, there are days where I’m still in incredible amounts of pain.

Christmas is hard, notoriously hard for any sufferers and recoverers from EDs. I don’t really need to tell you all that, you already know but to hear my brother say to me, ‘if you’re going to be sick today can you at least clean the toilet because my girlfriend is coming round today and we don’t want the toilet to be dirty.’

His words echoed in my head and the tears came running. I really struggle with my recovery when I come home at any time of the year, let alone Christmas and to hear what really was an insensitive comment cut right through me. I hadn’t been sick this visit, I hadn’t purged, I hadn’t bent over the toilet with my fingers down my throat and yet his words…the thoughts came running, the tears came burning, the storm came thundering and then the fear set in.

I’ve been trying ever so hard this year to keep purge-free. So much so I’ve been coming across angry and grumpy to my family because I’m simply so stressed out. I wish they would understand a little bit more but I don’t know how to make them understand more. He realised he had hurt me and when he tried to make it better I screamed at him to leave me alone.

I’ve not screamed at anyone like that before.

But the thought was there now. Purge. I need to purge. I stared at the girl in the mirror and couldn’t believe how fat she looked compared to a week ago when she was alone in London. I needed a shower but all I could see was the fat girl in the mirror. God I wanted to smash that mirror. The thoughts were pounding and the girl became blurry as the tears stung and I could barely stand up, holding onto the sides of the sink desperately searching for some strength. Any ounce of strength.

Come on girl. I heard myself say. Pull yourself together. Its Christmas…

Christmas.

Every year.

Something happens.

That all happened about 30 minutes after that first picture was taken.

The second picture was taken shortly after Christmas Dinner.

I feel weak. I feel disgusting. I don’t want to write this out but I know I need to. I know admitting helps me recover.

I relapsed.

But I sunk to a whole new low.

In the past I’ve done some incredible things to hide the purge from others but I did something I’ve never done before.

I knew eyes and ears would be on me at home and I went to the park. I knew that would probably be empty. I found somewhere secluded. I checked no one was around. I tied my hair up. I took a final deep breath, shut my eyes and I bent over.

I relapsed.

And the relief came rushing. I felt that instant relief that I learnt to wrongly associate with positives all those years ago but then I cried. The vicious circle had started once again. I’m home now and no body knows, that makes me feel worse. 5 years in a row that I’ve relapsed on Christmas Day. I feel like I’ve failed even though I know I haven’t. I’m just hoping I can get a firmer handle on things tomorrow. That’s all I can do, take each day as it comes, keep aiming for small steps upwards.

 

I understand I can’t let everyone’s words affect me but I don’t see why I should lower my feelings because of someone’s choice of words or their ignorance. He didn’t mean what he said but it really damn well hurt at the time. It’s hard to get out of this claustrophobic house at the best of times, let alone when the Demon’s voice starts to scream.

The second half of the day was surprisingly amazing. The family bickering had stopped and we actually ended up having a great evening as a family. There’s always silver linings I suppose. There’s always laughter in sadness and hope in darkness.

There’s always progress to be made at every hurdle.

There was a time I was purging every day. That was a long time ago. That’s the progress I’ve made.

That’s what I should be proud of today.

And the below pictures of dad dancing with me on his shoulders…that’s the memory I want to remember about Christmas Day 2016.

Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

Christmas at Southwark Bridge Road

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I love Christmas and I don’t think I could possibly even begin to explain just how much I love it. I genuinely feel it is simply such a happy time of year albeit equally as stressful.

I happily nominated myself to cook Christmas dinner for our house. I always find it ironic that the girl with an eating disorder genuinely loves cooking and baking but I’ve always found myself weirdly satisfied and happy when someone enjoys a meal I’ve cooked for them. Plus, as a family, we’ve always made everything from scratch, nothing frozen, and I suppose I really wanted to make sure the Christmas meal was as special as it could be.

Two of our neighbours came round too but the picture above is of me and my three housemates. They really have no idea how happy they make me and I can’t quite believe just how lucky I am to have moved to London, where I didn’t know a single person, and have come across three great friends that I’m going to have for life.

It was such a lovely evening and the fear of the food I was going to eat felt the most distant it’s ever felt and that, in itself, was such a nice feeling. I’ve recently found out my doctor who I have been seeing for more than 3 years has accepted a new job and, unfortunately, I won’t be able to see him any more in a months time…now that is a scary thought.

I’ve definitely built up a safety net in regards to our sessions. When I don’t feel I can tell others I’ve relapsed, I can always tell him. I don’t feel ashamed in the sessions and well, 3 years is a very long time to have been treated by a single person. I’m getting so close to the end of my recovery. I’m aware it’s going to be a life long journey and I’m getting far better but it does scare me that I won’t be able to see him anymore.

I don’t like the idea of, should I need to see someone, to have to open up to someone new. It would be inevitable, they’d need to know my background; every little detail that has resulted in me ending up where I am right now. I’d have to bring back all those memories that, although I’ve learnt to deal with them, they’re always so damn painful to bring back up.

I don’t want to rush to ‘fix myself’ though, so to speak. I want to keep going the way I’m going, keep taking those small steps upwards and simply stay happy. That’s all I’ve focused on lately…my happiness.

And what makes me happy? …Because those scales never make me happy, no matter how much I convince myself the number is okay.

My friends make me happy. The laughs we have when we’re studying or hanging out. Feeling accepted by someone (currently) special, feeling that they genuinely don’t judge my due to my weight or looks in the slightest makes me happy. Those stupid, idiotic, laughable moments make me happy. Helping my housemates and them helping me makes me happy. Cooking Christmas Dinner made me goddamn happy! My life right now makes me happy and I’m slowly accepting that over the years I’ve let the scales dictate how I feel and I’m incredibly proud I’m weighing myself less and…ironically…feel ten times lighter.

Weighing myself in happiness because, at the end of the day, a number on a scale never determined my true friends, the guys who like me for me, my academic and sporting achievements.

The scales have never truly determined anything great in my life.

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