Out of sync

I decided to stay in Cape Verde for the week instead of going home early. I wrote a nice big list of pros and cons (don’t we love those) for staying or going home and, ultimately, I realised I wouldn’t necessarily be much happier at home and I’d still be doing very little so if I’m not going to do much I may as well not do much in the sun!

Truth be told, I realised my ED has been triggered the past month because I have been feeling insecure and vulnerable in my relationship. I am still purge free but when I say my ED has been triggered, I mean those leftover voices and urges that crop up.

It’s funny. I know my relationship is great. I know my boyfriend is wonderful and I do know that he loves me but I’ve felt a little lost the past month to 6 weeks. Kept blaming it on the new house and the adulting stress that naturally comes with that. It took me getting on a plane on Saturday morning to realise how low I was feeling towards my relationship.

That in itself felt confusing because I simultaneously knew how much we love each other and how great we are together so why could I possibly be sad?

Occasionally I’ve felt he doesn’t love me quite the same way as I love him. I’m more proactive and giving in a relationship. I like that, it’s part of my personality but it’s also a flaw because it makes me vulnerable to thinking they don’t care as much as I do when that could be completely wrong.

I’ve done the most of the house planning and organising. I sorted the mortgage, legal docs and negotiations. I’m the one who researches and makes suggestions about rooms and furnishings (more often than not to be met with a “no” yet no alternative solutions offered. I’m the one who rearranges my work days (even when I really shouldn’t) to deal with deliveries and builders. I’m the one who deals with all those phone calls and emails relating to all that. Which is fine, I promise…again, I naturally default to being the organiser…but it would be nice for a little more action on my partners half rather than me feeling like I’m always chasing and him not wanting me to…

Sex has dropped too. Dare I say it, I think good sex is super important to a great relationship. I know some might disagree and say I’m wrong to emphasise good sex but honestly, the way I see it, happy relationship = better sex = happier relationship = even better sex = happy relationship…

Obviously that’s not always true. I know that. But for me, I do feel the happier I am with my boyfriend the more I can connect with him during sex and that then makes me happier.

He’s lost some of his romantic edge too. No flowers on our anniversary this year or valentines and he didn’t even post anything about our anniversary which took me by surprise. It sounds lame to want a social media post but here’s the thing. He doesn’t post much about us, I get that. I’m not a massive social media PDA-er either but he’s always done this nice short and sweet loving post about me on our anniversary so that’s my one day he tells everyone how much he loves me and I know I won’t get it the rest of the year but I know I’ll get it that one day..except this year.

We don’t hang out as much as I thought we would either. I knew it wouldn’t be like the weekends we used to spend together but with my long hours and needing early nights and him wanting to practice his cello and play games at night there’s such limited time in between me coming home and going to sleep. He doesn’t see the need to dedicate that one hour I have to each other but I do. I see it as “okay, I’m home and I’ll be asleep in 60 mins so let’s watch TV, chat a bit and then once I’m asleep you can do whatever it is you want to do…just give me 45-60 minutes of your time.”

He’s the opposite. He doesn’t feel negative if we don’t see each other at all in an evening. I do. He’s more introverted than me…but I like my alone time too! Finding the balance is hard. Trying to sync ourselves into a routine that isn’t routine but feels natural. Knowing when I may need more attention and when he may need more space. It sounds so silly to me sometimes because honestly living together has been wonderful and I love it.

I really do.

Just the lack of productiveness towards our joint investment and new home, decrease of sex and romantic affection has left me feeling a little unloved, a little unwanted, and I’m turn, a little worthless. Unloved, unwanted and worthless…the three major emotions I’ve experienced throughout my life that culminated in my ED.

It makes me sad to feel as though he doesn’t love me as hard as I love him.

I cried and told him all of this on Sunday. He was very supportive and it felt like a huge weight of my chest. He agreed that we should work on syncing up our sex lives and acknowledged he hasn’t been as affectionate as he could have been lately. He’s making more effort on the house front too. He tried to reassure me that he does love me and he’s just a bit introverted with his evening activities – something that’s harder to see when before you lived together, you only hung out on a sat night and Sunday so you naturally dedicate all that time to one another.

Adulting, eh? Bloody hard work but I’m sure it’s all worth it.

Teardrops

For some reason, a reason I’m trying very hard to identify, I’m crying.

And I feel like I need it. Like I need these teardrops on my face to help the situation somehow.

But I wish I knew what that situation was and what these tears are needed for.

I’m on a one week holiday that started today. I’m in a nice resort on an island I’ve never visited before in temperatures that are far better than England.

I’m on my own but I have travelled alone many times before so I don’t know why that would be the reason for these teardrops.

Work has been going well (albeit tough, as always). My boyfriend and I recently celebrated our third anniversary and we’ve bought a house – I know I haven’t written a blog post for almost 6 months as the “update list” is huge. Living with my boyfriend is most definitely an upgrade from previous living arrangements but we’re still working out the kinks (like how much time is too much time together each evening and working out how to get space when you want it). My family life is far less stressful than it used to be.

Actually, and probably most importantly, I recently reached my one year purge free milestone.

It’s been more than one year since I last purged.

Doesn’t mean I’m 100% okay. I do struggle with my “recovery body”. It’s bigger than it used to be and wobbles more. I have some skin laxity too. Online platforms have aided my recovery but sometimes I find it hard to see warriors who have recovered but are much smaller than me or warriors who have recovered who are much bigger than me.

There’s no one shape fits all, I know that.

But nothing I do changes my stomach. I work out a lot but not obsessively, always for enjoyment and movement. I have learnt to eat but not restrict. I allow myself less healthy foods in moderation alongside healthy foods. I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, by choice, and I feel like my efforts are wasted.

It’s been suggested that due to my appendix surgery and the way I rapidly lost weight due to the way my ED started that I won’t be able to shift the stubborn fat, and definitely not some of the loose skin, myself.

I feel recovered but I feel like a fraud because I don’t love my recovery body.

God, this is why I used to need/love this blog, I’d start with a question and by writing I’d work it out (or at least a contributing factor to my current feelings).

I was super excited when I booked this holiday in October. I’d just come back from my qualification leave where I loved my body. I was so in love with my boyfriend (obviously still am!) and just gone back to work in the area I always wanted. I guessed I would need a break in Feb, and I do, but I half wish I was at home.

This holiday is very different than my previous ones. It’s not an active holiday, it’s purely leisure. I’m staying in an all inclusive resort and I’m starting to realise that, that, is incredibly scary.

Not loving my recovery body probably isn’t helping me put on my bikinis either.

So, I’ve at least got something to work on. The tear drops are still coming but maybe I can do something about them? Like…

  • I specifically booked a rest holiday due to the time of year (there’s only so many warm places close enough to Europe at this time of year) but I could book a couple of excursions to get me out of the resort, into nature and the local culture – things I ADORE about travelling.
  • I’m next to the beach…I could add in some nice beach walks. I love the sea so much and I’ve always been a water baby.
  • I have a notebook. I could use this current mindset as an opportunity to develop some self-awareness, dig deep into my current recovery.
  • I brought my Greek stuff. I could dedicate an hour or two each day to learn more. I’ve always been proud to be Greek and have loved starting to learn the language (finally!).
  • There’s a spa. Who doesn’t like a pamper day?

On reflection, I’ve never had many pure relaxation holidays, except for my favourite Greek island but that is just a simply wonderful place that I’m always okay relaxing there. I’ve never done all inclusive either so I should give myself some baby steps.

Even if I’ve not fully worked out why the tears are falling I can definitely say that, they were worthwhile because they brought me back to my blog, which I’ve missed.

❤️

A Reminder to Write

I need to write more. I tell myself this all the time and yet I’m always getting caught up in work, socialising or just other hobbies that I lately haven’t written for months. I reminded myself this weekend how much I enjoy writing on this blog, both therapeutically and generally and I want to commit to writing at least once a week (or fortnight if I have nothing to say!).

There’s a few reasons I want to keep writing. Predominantly though, it’s always been therapeutic for me not to just write but to read other people’s blogs. Following on from this point, I’m coming up to my final therapy session and I realised I do need to actively engage with this blog to continue my recovery going forward – if anything, it’s my way of journaling. There’s also been a lot of occasions I could have written, or wanted to write, but simply didn’t. So I guess I might backtrack to begin with.

Perhaps this is my written down promise to myself that I’m going to keep writing. A promise to myself to maximise my recovery by continuing to write.

 

The “Ten-Year-Challenge”

I assumed that the very first post I saw was someone posting a ten-year progress picture because they wanted to. I didn’t realise it was a viral “challenge” sweeping over all social media platforms.

I’ve never liked these “challenges” that encourage people to essentially post a nice picture of themselves. I don’t mean to judge but I do feel like it’s a cry for attention. It’s a post that demands others to tell you how cute you looked then and how even better you look now. It’s a “challenge” that seeks self-affirmation from others.

I don’t want to judge. Everyone should be able to post whatever they want.

Thing is, I don’t think that it is a challenge for the vast majority of people.

Hence why I’ve been using quotation marks until now because it is a challenge for some.

It’s a real challenge for me and my ED to post a comparison picture but I decided to compare two pictures of myself.

In the darkest days of my ED, I deleted every single picture I was embarrassed off and if it wasn’t my picture to delete you can be sure I removed every single tag. I hated those reminders of the weight I gained when I was injured. The further weight I gained because I was burying my emotions in food every single day.

I removed every single picture which made me feel “fat” or “ugly” and as a result I have lost some physical reminders of those years. It’s like I tried to erase a part of me. I couldn’t accept that I had made myself that way and so I deleted the memories.

I’m currently trying to find any pictures of myself that survived the “Facebook purge” or ones that existed before the days of camera phones and social media. I’m going through an exercise of trying to love that girl in those pictures so I can accept my past rather than trying to erase it. That in itself is a challenge.

Anyway…

Scouring through my old albums was a very real and painful challenge. It hurt to see who I was before and during my darkest days. It pained me to face the hurt behind the photographs.

I did find one picture on Facebook from my best friend’s birthday party when I was 17. I deliberately kept it because the uncropped version was really funny and I wanted reminders of my best friend’s birthday.

I downloaded it and combined it with the most recent picture I have of myself. It was from 7 days ago and I was very drunk. It was the first time I had really let myself drink since mid-November (due to the annual “December Fears”) and I had decided to stop being scared of alcohol and parties and to “rip the band aid off” to enjoy myself. You can tell from the picture that it worked!

I haven’t been able to post it on social media though and, to be honest, I don’t need to.

Half of me doesn’t want to post it because I’m scared. My stage of recovering isn’t strong enough to let me accept that girl on the left. I still blame her for the things people did and said to her. The things that ultimately resulted in and helped the ED continue, even though I know that it isn’t her fault.

The other half of me simply doesn’t want to post it. I know I spent years seeking affirmation from others and I’d like to stop that behaviour. I still post pictures of myself but I’m no longer trying to post the most perfect picture of myself to gain likes from people I don’t even talk to. I’m posting the pictures where I feel like I look incredibly happy. Something I’ve not seen in my pictures for a while.

I’m going to post it here though. This blog has always felt safer than social media even though I know my connections have access to it.

Every day is a challenge when you are recovering from an eating disorder. Every day is a challenge to look in the mirror, to eat, to rest. Every day is a battle with my body image ; both my body image today and my body image from the past.

Bonfires and Brownies

Time flies and a lot changes as each second passes by.

12 months ago I had bought tickets to a Bonfire and Fireworks display at Battersea Park and, me being me, I was really excited. But me, also being me, I ended up in hospital with a kidney stone that left me bedridden and in unbelievable pain for a few weeks until they had to operate.

They kept telling me to drink. I told them I was bad at staying hydrated. I didn’t tell them that was because of my ED. I didn’t admit that I used to be so scared of drinking for fear of that ‘fullness’ feeling that I stopped drinking even water.

I didn’t admit any of that. Not even to myself.

That was the first time I thought I may have damaged my body.

6 months ago, I started getting stabbing chest pains, on the left hand side, when I was walking around. Exercise was worse. I was so scared it was my heart but I didn’t tell anyone that. I didn’t want to tell anyone I was still having issues. Ultimately, I simply didn’t want to admit it to myself.

That was the first time I thought I was heading for a heart attack.

I truly think I was heading that way.

It had been 8 years since that Demon arrived.

Time really does fly.

Now, it’s been a month.

I haven’t purged for a month.

I’ve noticed I’ve lost weight.

I almost wish I hadn’t noticed that.

I’m second-guessing if I’ve been restricting in absence of the purges.

If I think about it, I have been sticking to soup every single lunch, although I really do love that soup shop next to work. Breakfast is on and off, as always, but I have increased dinner. I’ve managed to have dinner from the work canteen and I’ve tried to make it as healthy as I can.

Does that mean I was restricting though?

Yes, I reduced my carbs and fear foods but I still had some small amounts because I knew I needed them.

Is eating in a way to reduce panic, fears and triggers, a bad thing?

Have I lost weight because I’ve restricted? Or is it because I’m finally not purging and my body isn’t in starvation mode?

I  got a fitbit. Yes, controversial for an ED sufferer, I know.

I looked at what I was burning on days with and without exercise. I then looked at my food diary for the previous month and I must have been having an incredibly substantial deficit. An unhealthy one.

Seeing that even on a non-exercise day I was burning much more than I thought I was has made me increase my intake. It’s made me realise, that on days I’m working until midnight I need X. Let alone those midnight days where I’ve managed to make it to the gym in the morning.

I don’t know why that weight has shifted. I do know my mindset has shifted a bit and I’m conscious I don’t want to restrict.

However, whether it’s because I’ve restricted inadvertently or because my body is healing…I haven’t had chest pains for a month. I haven’t felt what feels like a kidney stone for a month. I have been stronger at work and the gym for a month. I have eaten ‘fear foods’ without a second thought every now and then this past month.

It’s only my first month into what I would call ‘my recovery’ so, of course, there’s still a few bumps to smooth out. I’m still well on my way to developing a balanced life.

12 months ago I was stuck in a purge-restrict cycle and I ended up in hospital with kidney problems.

This year, I baked brownies with a glass of wine without even thinking about numbers and fears. I also went to Bonfire Night, just 1 year late.

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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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.

 

 

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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