Unresolved

Please don’t ask me to talk about my eating disorder if you’re going to end the conversation as soon as I tell you what’s going on.

Please don’t ask me to open up when I say I don’t want to, but you decide I should, and then leave me with these thoughts festering in my brain.

Please don’t ask me to talk to you and then leave the conversation without even telling me how you felt. Why couldn’t we have continued to talk about something else? Anything else?

You started a conversation that you weren’t prepared to finish and now I’m on my own with my ED emotions eating away at me. Now I have no one to talk through all these toxic thoughts with.

I think you could be hurting. Hurting because I’m hurting. But shutting down right in front of me…

I feel so alone.

You’ve left me on my own until you decide we can talk, which is in 6 days’ time. 6 whole days – that’s when you’ve decided we can finish this conversation.

Now I’m trying to find the courage to face those 6 days with all these unresolved emotions seeping through my body like poison. But I don’t think I have any courage left in me.

Things have been left unresolved and I am left unravelling.

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Just a touch of magic…

It is impossible to visit Disneyland and not feel happiness. I challenge you to find someone who has entered one of the parks and not enjoyed it one bit…but even if you do find someone,or you are in fact someone who doesn’t like Disneyland, then that’s perfectly acceptable.

Each to their own!

My boyfriend and I went to Paris for my birthday last weekend and before you jump to the same conclusion as all my friends of OMG that’s like soooo romantic…it genuinely wasn’t intended to be some overly-romantic-whisk-me-away-trip.

We’d actually planned it far in advance but that in itself didn’t take any of the magic away.

We decided to spend my actual birthday at Disneyland itself and I knew from the moment we settled on this that I was going to have a lot of fun. However, in hindsight, I totally underestimated just how much fun I would have.

I was in such an incredibly happy place both literally and metaphorically, that I had so much fun I actually forgot it was my birthday. In fact, I didn’t even get my presents until a whole two days later because we totally forgot. But that’s by the by because I simply had a great day.

There was one thing I noticed, however, which was that for the first birthday in what feels like forever, I don’t think I panicked.

I didn’t overthink each of my three meals, I didn’t panic because we hadn’t planned them either. I didn’t try to calculate my calories or what I therefore needed to burn off. I didn’t try to justify why I either did or did not want a certain piece of food.

Most importantly, I didn’t criticise myself once. I didn’t even whisper to myself that I was fat.

That really is such a nasty sounding word.

I was simply so happy and having such a wonderful time with my other half on our first trip away together that the dark parts of my mind were silent.

That’s the best way I can describe it – they were silent.

I’m not going to pretend they were silent on the other days of our trip, because they most definitely weren’t, but it’s relieving that they are becoming lighter and quieter in their nature.

I’ve decided I’m going back to therapy to address these final dark thoughts. To tackle the last little parts I’m struggling with the most because I still have some battles to go through. That in itself was an incredibly tough decision because I feel as though I am sort of fine.

But I don’t want to be sort of fine. I want to be healthy and perhaps that does require a little bit of professional guidance.

The fact my ED was silent on that one day means it can be silent on other days too. Whilst it’s not silent right now, I’ve decided to just enjoy the fact that, for that single day, it actually was.

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Restless Rest

I had a week off work last week for no reason other than I had holiday to use and figured that back in March, a random week off in June would work well.

I struggled that week more than I ever thought I would. Between all the hospital appointments I had scheduled and the inevitable ‘house hunt’ starting I struggled to fit in an ample amount of time to simply rest. I simultaneously struggled due to the lack of structure and routine I have settled into with work.

When I could fit in that much-needed-rest, I was just exhausted. I would sit in the park with my books and my laptop, ready to enjoy the sun when, in reality, I just sat there staring into the distance completely drained.

The fact I’d also gone through a period of work where I was finishing between 11pm and 2am every single night and having to work through the occasional weekend probably didn’t help either. It just meant I was exhausted before my week off, during my week off and now? Well,  I’m exhausted after my week off.

I started a new course of treatment at the hospital. They are trying to ‘de-scale’ my head as my psoriasis is getting out of control. They call the process ‘tarring’ and yes, that’s right. I sit there in my beautiful hospital gown whilst they put tar and various other concoctions all over my head. I’m then wrapped up in cling film, a shower cap is placed onto my head and I sit there for a length of time whilst I ‘bake’. Following this, they sit with an incredibly fine comb and ‘de-scale’ my head. They literally dig and scrape at the psoriasis in the hopes of peeling it off my head whilst removing as little hair as possible.

They want to do this 2-3 times a week and I hate it already.

I hate the psoriasis on my head. It’s itchy and it hurts. It gets infected and it makes my hair fall out. I’m also constantly leaving a trail of dandruff looking flakes everywhere I go. But the thing is, it’s also the least of my worries.

Along with psoriasis I have, psoriatic arthritis, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, a Volkmann’s Ischemic Contracture, nerve damage and ruptured muscles, kidney problems, endometriosis and the list of illnesses I’ve had over the years feels endless.

Oh yeah, don’t forget the bulimia now.

I’m almost half-way through my training contract and the department I am working in now is where I want to qualify. It’s where I want to work for the rest of my life following my training which means I’m so incredibly conscious of the time these treatments are going to take up. I’m terrified of not being allowed to qualify here for whatever reason and so I’m equally desperate to not give them any stick to beat me with, so to speak.

What’s worse is the way I look after these treatments. I have bits of scale that haven’t quite made their way down my hair strands literally just sat there and my hair is the most greasiest smelliest mess you can imagine.

It is oh so easy for them or anyone reading to tell me to put up with incredibly greasy hair for a short while but when I’m already so caught up with my body image I can’t shake this feeling of ‘ugly’ that’s seething through my body lately.

Even today people have been looking at and some have even commented on my hair and I actually cried over it. I cried because I’m tired. I am tired of frequently having to go to the hospital for something or other. I am sick of all these different appointments, treatments and medications that I have. I am just sick and tired of being sick.

All my illnesses and disabilities drain me completely.

Forever wishing I could know what it felt like to be normal because I just feel broken.

I feel so damaged and that makes me feel unworthy. Unworthy of my job, unworthy of my friends….unworthy of love.

And it’s those feelings that the ED clings to. It’s those emotions that the ED thrives off. That’s when it’s at its worst but just because I know that doesn’t make fighting it off any easier.

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 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.

 

 

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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