Near-Exhaustion

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The pain cuts deep. It stings and it burns and I simply can’t hold back the tears that fall. Taken back to hospital just when I thought I was okay. Just like always, the hope comes crashing down, once relaxed but back on guard.

Always seem to be falling. Always dragged backwards against my will. Weighed down, feeling like I could drown.

It hurts more than the pain that has brought me back to hospital.

It hurts more than the pain I felt from June 18.

It aches and it hurts.

The word that there is something else wrong with me.

Another diagnosis, another condition, another something or other wrong with me.

Another broken piece.

When I feel ‘fixed’ I get broken again.

Whether it’s by family, friends, boys or myself…just constantly being broken.

And I am so tired. I’m exhausted.

‘Damaged Goods’ – that’s what I am and you can tell me I’m not but it won’t change how I feel right now.

Taken to surgery, kidney fixed. Endless list of medication for the time being and review booked in. It wasn’t even too serious; I’ll be better by the end of the month. But a month off work, a few weeks away from my best friend…it’s hard not to feel broken and lonely when that’s all that you can relate to.

I wasn’t able to eat – the illness took care of that. I didn’t have an appetite for 3 weeks and if I ate, my body couldn’t keep it down. Such a triggering situation and I’m working to keep it away. To not relapse over those feelings of ’empty’, the feelings I used to crave.

They said it’s likely to happen again but there’s not much I can do. Just drink excessive amounts of water and they’ll monitor the rest. Just when I was getting a grip on so many things, getting so much happier in myself, just something else. Always something else.

Dragging me back to reality.

My reality that I’ll never be normal. That I’ll always be a burden to those who have to help me. That I’ll always be ill, disabled…used…abused…broken or worse.

Wouldn’t it be nice to eat and drink without fear? To not have the nightmares? To not be rushed to hospital at 4am? To not have to have emergency surgery?

Give me a week and I’ll know it’s not true. I’ll realise I’m tough for dealing with all my crap. I’ll smile because I’ll be proud of every step I’ve had to take in my pretty shitty life.

I know what I’m like…I’ll feel awesome in no time.

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Twitter: @elenip92
Instagram: @elenipapa92

Times Like This

Woken up 4am Thursday morning with a pain in my left hand side. A stabbing pain that made me scream and cry and call out for my flatmates.

8 hours later and the hospital sent me home. Hand in hand with some paracetamol, they couldn’t work out what had happened to me and said I remained a ‘mystery’. Forever a mystery, even a friend commented that I am ‘always in hospital’. Times like this make me feel numb, never knowing what’s wrong other than that there is always something wrong with me. Times like this make me feel broken.

5am Friday morning and the pain was back. So was the hospital and the doctors claiming there was nothing wrong with me. I cried. My boyfriend was there to hold my hand this time and he held it tight as I cried. All of the pain, all the exhaustion and all the stress of being told I was ‘fine’. I’m always fine…

They sent me home with codeine this time and it seemed to do the trick but on Friday the pain never left and neither did he. He stayed the day and rang the doctor who told us to go back on the evening. And so we did. He held me tight and he took me back. He held me when the pain came back and he wiped away every tear. He held my hand whilst they did all their tests and he really helped that fear. He calmed me down. Though I could tell he was panicking, he knew what I needed and he stroked my hair, held me again trying to help me sleep.

Saturday morning, 2am, and the doctors had found me a bed but he wasn’t allowed to stay. That was the first time the fear came back and each time the pain woke me up I felt more scared, more lonely. Counting down the hours minutes and seconds until 2pm so that he could come back and hold me.

On regular morphine now, they ran more tests and eventually found the cause. Inflammation and water on my kidneys along with this teeny tiny 3mm stone. So again, but with an appointment for a specialist next week, they sent me home.

I didn’t expect him to stay. 3 days of hospital was surely enough but he spent Sunday evening with me. Helping me with every little thing. The smallest things that mean the most. I could tell he was worried but together we got through it. He kept me distracted when I needed it the most and he held me when the pain made me cry all over again. He set alarms on his phone to make sure I had medication at 12am, 4am and 8am. He even worked from home at my flat on Monday just to keep an eye.

Times like that make me realise just how much he cares. I’ve always known it, always sure of it but times like this make me feel loved. Spend so much time feeling worthless and unloved and times like that make me feel so wrong. Telling me he ‘wanted his Len back’ made me realise how much he really does. How much he wants me to get better in all aspects . Feeling cared for, loved. All I could want but it means so much more than it did before.

Right where I needed him when I needed him and yet he went above and beyond what I could have ever expected.

Times like this make me want to get better with my ED. What if that ‘one last purge’ made me this ill? It’s been a while but kidney damage can be caused by bulimia so what if…almost not worth thinking about but it is additional motivation.

Times like this, thanks to the illness but mainly thanks to him, make me want to become even healthier.

 

A Badge That Says ‘I’m Different’.


I was given this badge. This nice blue badge which, now that I mention it out loud, is appropriately coloured. On this lil blue badge is the London Underground sign with a phrase stating: ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’.

I was born looking normal, I grew up looking normal (well to the extent I hid my arm) and I definitely still look normal. No body can see the pain I’m in. Friends wouldn’t really know the extent of the pain I’m in on a daily basis.

Why? Because I don’t want to be that one who complains all the time and nor do I want to feel like a burden to anyone. So I smile and get on with my pain treating it as and when I need to.

I wish that method could apply to my mental pain, but I digress.

Standing up on a packed tube where I’m too small to reach any poles to steady myself is painful. All my effort goes into trying to balance and it hurts. My leg is throbbing from morning all the way through til that tube journey home.

And so I was given a badge. In the hope that people wouldn’t question my invisible disabilities and allow me to sit.

And most of the time they do. The rest of the time, I’m probably way too small for people to even notice me in the first place and that’s fine. What’s also fine, is those who don’t give up their seats because they could be like me.

It hurt me though, when I got it. I felt like I was given this great big blue badge that screamed ‘I’m disabled!!!’. I felt ashamed that people would look and question what could possibly be wrong with me that warrants me having such a badge.

I felt broken.

It represented this huge feeling of being broken. Of having something wrong with me. Of not being normal.

It reminded me of those feelings of shame for having physical issues growing up. The feelings of hurt when no one would believe I was couldn’t do things or was in pain. The memories of being bullied for being different.

I still get embarrassed. I see people staring but I know they’re going to. One person was cruel but that was one in god knows how many hundreds I’ve come across on my tube journeys this past month.

But being able to get a seat for most of my journey has really helped reduce the pain I get in my leg. Just like writing helps reduce the pain in my head and heart.

It’s nice to feel less pain in my legs.

It’s nice to be writing again.

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last wrote anything and it was an unexpected message that actually got me wanting to write again.  It’s not been plain sailing since then but I’m sure I’ll start telling you all everything that’s happened soon enough!!

Thank you for that message ❤

Instagram: @elenipapa92
Twitter: @elenip92

 

 

 

Self-inflicted Mind Games


I’ve been back in London a week now and straight into my new house with my new housemates – two very good friends of mine and between you and me, once we get all the boring general admin such as bills and the like sorted, we’ll be ticking over just fine.

However, I feel so incredibly nervous and scared. One friend knows I am recovering from bulimia and the other doesn’t and I have this inexplicable feeling that I’m going to be watched and monitored. Even though it would be from such a good place deep in her heart, I just don’t want pressure to eat…maybe because I still struggle to eat in front of others…because I know it’s still something I’m working through.

It’s funny because I was scared to weigh myself but this time when I plucked up the courage I was actually lighter than I thought I would be. I shook my head and thought, no, this can’t be right, I must be heavier. And so I moved the scales around…same weight…I went and grabbed my laptop…I was heavier…removed the laptop…back to the initial weight.

I was convinced the scales must be broken. Convinced there was simply no way I could have lost some weight whilst away.

Impossible.

But I just realised something this evening.

Three days ago I had to register with a new Doctor’s Surgery and they asked me to weigh myself on some special digital machine thingy-magigy. It told me I was half a kilo heavier than what my scales had told me. This was with my gorgeous baggy jeans and grey sweatshirt combo!

But the implication of this simply didn’t register with me.

But today I realised that maybe my scales are correct and my mind is wrong. Why don’t I believe the solid evidence that my regular eating has helped me lose some weight in a healthy manner? Why am I convinced I must be so much heavier than these scales are telling me?

It’s such a vicious circle. If the number was higher I’d be unhappy and yet it’s lower than expected and I’m still unhappy because I’m convinced I’m bigger than what I am?

A lower number urging me to restrict or purge because surely the number is wrong.

It’s a tough one to get past.

Then again, my friends were happily lifting me onto their shoulders last weekend so this short arse over here could actually see something! That in itself tells me that my perception is distorted. I’m not the number I think I am. Even if I was, surely I’m worth more than that anyway.

Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

 

‘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…

Knowing a Feeling 

I learnt the hard way to not get my hopes up. Always let down, always dropped, always left a little bit more broken than before. Family, friends, coaches, GB team staff and, of course – boys, would remind me why I was ‘stupid to think that this time would be any different.’

So yes, I learnt the hard way not to get my hopes up. I learnt to not look too far into the future, to not see ‘meaning’ in anything and to expect the worst until I saw something confirmed on paper.

And yet, deep down, my hopes always remained high.

And I suppose my hopes are still high. My optimism gets commented on frequently and those who know everything will comment they can’t understand why.

Why, after everything would I still be the girl who is still so full of happiness and hope that one day, everything will be okay?

Thing is, I could easily be the cold-stone-hearted-ice-queen after everything and everyone would understand but it would be allowing those experiences to deprive myself of  potential happiness. Yes, people have hurt me in some of the worst ways imaginable but I don’t want that to prevent me from finding future happiness and inner peace.

But the beautiful paradox continues to exist. I still fear the worst. I simultaneously drag my hopes down just as I start to put my faith in them. The thing is, what I know and what I feel are unfortunately two extremely different things.

I know developing an eating disorder wasn’t ‘my fault’ but I feel ashamed and disappointed in myself for having one.
I know my friends would do anything to help me but I feel that I’m a burden they will wish they didn’t have.
I know my boyfriend wants to be with me but I feel that he’s bound to prefer someone with less issues. Less damage. Less of a past she couldn’t control.

know that three meals a day won’t make me gain weight but I feel incredibly fat for wanting to eat, let alone even eating.
know I’ve not purged for more than four weeks but I feel like that doesn’t truly mean anything.
I know in the past I have found ways to purge in secret when surrounded by others but I feel like that doesn’t mean anything regarding these last four weeks.

In his words, I’m ‘kicking ass’ and I know that I am but I feel like I’ve achieved nothing.

I’m still working on developing my self-compassion that my therapist and I worked on. Allowing myself to appreciate that there will always be days where I do get hurt and need support, or days I fall down and need people to pick me up but none of that makes me a failure. Loving myself for the things I know rather than hate myself for the things I simply feel. And of course it’s difficult to not believe the awful things people have made me feel, but if it was easy then it wouldn’t be holding me back right now…

It’s potentially the hardest part of my recovery (in the necessary circumstances) feeling what I know rather than only knowing what I let myself feel.

At least these people always help me work out the difference:

Twitter: @elenip92

Instagram: @elenipapa92

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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