Working It Out

img_2225

Today’s been a bad day but on the same hand one of my better ones. It’s so contradictory, I know but I’m pleased with where I am right now in this very moment.

As usual my day started off with the standard family stress but today I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m in the middle with my mum breaking down to me on the phone and my dad pressuring me to send him all my money. We had an agreement that I would look after that money so me and my brother could have deposits for houses in the future but now he’s trying to take it and I will happily support my mum but I’m getting fed up of my dad. Strictly speaking he’s been paying for that whore for 14 years…14 years of his and mum’s money being spent elsewhere…14 years that has led to him taking mine and my brother’s savings, the inheritance meant to help us start our own families one day.

I feel like I can’t cope with it anymore. When I hung up on mum I ended up crying in the middle of the street and I couldn’t stop. I tried to find a place that was quiet so I could try hide from the masses around me but I couldn’t and I felt like I was suffocating. I couldn’t breathe in this crowd and I was fighting to keep the tears from falling but in the end I couldn’t. They burnt and they stung my cheeks as they started to come and I desperately tried to find an empty corner or side street to run to but there wasn’t anywhere, so I lowered my head and made my way home whilst the tears kept running.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I can’t do this anymore, I can’t cope with this stress, I want all my family to leave. I want them to stop pressuring me, I don’t want this financial stress, they can take the money and fight between themselves, I don’t want anything to do with the money anymore, its caused so many problems sitting there and I wish, oh i wish I could just fuck off and leave them all behind. That’s my inheritance…my mum’s hard-earned cash and savings that is meant for me and John but dad is trying to take it and once he takes it, it’ll go to that fucking whore.

I was sick. I didn’t even try not to be. I just went to the bathroom and put my fingers down my throat. Its so bad that its not even to be skinny…its turning into a coping mechanism again. Something to take all the pain away because its the only way I know how.

But then, I went to the gym. I went to the one a few streets down and opened a membership and after 2 hours I went for a bit. I only managed 30 minutes cardio but considering I’ve not been able to do any real exercise for a long time I think that’s alright. I do know its not the best idea seeing as I purged. But I went to the gym, made sure I drank a lot and afterwards I went for sushi. Expensive food for my bank account right now but at least I ate something. At least I exercised. At least I got the remainder of my anger and pain out on the treadmill and not down the toilet.

And I’m proud that I finally went. It’s silly but because I feel so fat most days, I’m almost embarrassed to go to the gym. It’s so contradictory, we go there to better ourselves but it also acts as such a self-conscious environment. I’m pleased with myself. I’ve drawn up an exercise plan for the rest of the month and yeah, it might be too much, but hopefully I can find where my fitness is and start building myself up again. Not just physically but mentally too.

 

The C-Word

I know I could be overreacting. I know the doctor told me not to panic, but they mentioned that word today. The C-word and now I can’t stop thinking about it. All the what-ifs. And I’ve never felt so scared.

They tell you not to worry, they’re just concerned about something and want to run tests for cancer. Of course I’m going to worry. There’s been something wrong with me for 7 months and my GP wouldn’t listen. She told me it was nothing. Bleeding was normal. Took me ages to get her to even consider sending me to a gynae, and now I’ve been and gone, and true to ‘That girl’s’ form….I have unusual and concerning symptoms.

I got so upset at work last night, a few hours after they told me. My box showed up 3 hours late, so I just stood doing nothing, and then I was so rushed getting their food because they’re ‘VIP’ that I was unbelievably stressed in the kitchen, running back and forth, wasn’t allowed my break or my dinner, and at the end of the night they stayed so long even my supervisor was getting angry. At the end of a shift we need to restock the boxes and we have to go to the cellar, every time I did that, they kept opening more, even when I explained they could go to the bar…otherwise I keep having to go to the cellar. But in all honesty, it distracted me. It was when they were finally leaving that I got upset. In all fairness, they’d been nice to look after, but the woman had been so overly kind to me that it got me upset when they were finally leaving and I wasn’t thinking about work anymore.

I just sat in my box and cried. I’ve never felt this scared before and it puts everything in perspective. What’s a few pounds here and there, if this is the worst case scenario. Who cares what people think about my weight when this could be the worst thing to happen to me.

They said that if it is, the C-word, it will be very early stages…but this is me, everything fucks up for me, nothing ever goes well for long enough, nothing does, nothing lasts, I’m the girl with a list of things wrong with her as long as her name and I can’t cope with something else.

The abnormalities could be nothing, but they could be something and it freaks me out. I’ve never felt so scared. I can’t help thinking, what if. What if it is.

I know it could easily be nothing but what if?

I’m incredibly grateful to have these two to help me with whatever the answer to that question may be.

IMG_6072.JPG

Blame

He said its not my fault. He told me over and over again that I shouldn’t blame myself for having an eating disorder. Its nothing to be ashamed of. I shouldn’t feel embarrassed. The problem is, I do, and he says that’s one of the last hurdles in my recovery and its the one I keep falling at.

Having an eating disorder makes me feel disgusting and weak and embarrassed. I can handle my disabilities, they’re physical and I can’t help having them. But my eating disorder? I can’t accept it. There has to be someone to blame and it has to be me. I can’t admit to many that I have these issues with eating because I feel that it is something to be ashamed of. There’s a stigma to mental health and I can’t admit to myself more than anyone else that I have a problem.

Its difficult because I know I have one but for years I tried to kid myself otherwise. Tried to convince myself I didn’t have an eating disorder. I mean how could I? How could the fat girl have an eating disorder? Me? The girl called Hippo at school. The girl pushed and shoved around. No way she could have an eating disorder. She was fat. She couldn’t have one.

But I did.

I thought I had accepted it but I haven’t. I realised that today. I thought I knew where I stood but I didn’t. He asked me why I blame myself. I told him that there’s no other option. I told him I’m weak and worthless for having an eating disorder. I’m an embarrassment for having these issues. For having days where deciding what to eat takes me hours on end. For having days where I don’t eat at all. For having days where I spend half my time bent over the toilet with my fingers down my throat. It sounds so bad to write it out but that’s exactly what most of my days are like.

I told him I choose to do these things so therefore its my fault. I chose to comfort eat and gain weight all those years ago just like I chose to start losing it and eventually losing it by making myself sick. I choose to eat nothing or to eat to much. I choose to exercise too much or too little. I choose to purge.

He told me to take a moment and to consider that perhaps I don’t choose at all. He referred to it as autopilot, a word I have used before myself. He told me I can’t blame myself. My eating disorder is part of me but it isn’t me. I need to start realising that I am ill. That there is a part of me that’s unwell, that tells me to do all these disordered things. The voice that overpowers all logic to the extent that logic no longer exists is the part of me thats ill. Most importantly, he told me its not my fault.

I remember when I told my boyfriend. He said to me, ‘that’s not you, that’s your eating disorder, and I like you.’

I relived that moment in therapy and couldn’t stop crying. He asked me what I was feeling and I knew it immediately. I couldn’t believe that someone could care about me in that way. From the ex refusing to help and using my disorder to manipulate me, to family who wouldn’t let me talk about it, I had experienced something completely different during that evening, and I also experienced it on Tuesday Night. Compassion. Something I don’t give myself.

I never take a step back and let me like me. He says, that’s also not my fault. He said its something that was engrained into me since being a child and I developed an eating disorder as my defence mechanism. Everything would be alright if I was slimmer. It all made sense. No more bullies. No more disapproval. No more not making GBR teams. Less weight. More happiness. But I still blame me. We briefly went over all the stuff I’ve gone through over the years. He asked me how I feel about that. I told him it hurt but I should never have let myself develop bulimia.

He got me to sit in a chair and look at the one I had sat in. He asked me to tell the empty chair, I had sat in, what I felt about myself. Fat. Disgusting. Weak. Ugly. Fat. Stupid. Fat. The words of hatred came pouring out all too easily.

He took me back to my original chair and said that the now empty chair contained a hypothetical person. He said this person had been bullied since she was a child. She had been told by her family she was useless, ugly, fat, and an embarrassment to the family name. She had been bullied physically and mentally by kids all her life and her first serious boyfriend emotionally manipulated her. She had spent years in sport only to be told she was the wrong shape and a freak because of her disabilities. She’d been called all sorts of names and had been made to feel ashamed and weak and as if everything was because she was fat. They picked on her because she was fat as┬áthat was the easy option. She had tried her best to get the highest grades but someone always beat her to it and her teachers called her stupid. She was one of the hardest working athletes but was prevented from competing at the Olympic games because she was deemed too fat even though she was British Record holder.

They used to call her Hippodopoulos.

And now she was bulimic.

He asked me what I would say to her. Would I blame her for her epilepsy? Her cerebral palsy? Would I say it was her fault the bullies chose her? Would I be cruel and call her names? Would I tell her it was her fault she inherited rheumatoid arthritis? Would I call her weak? Do I think she should be ashamed? Would I tell her she was an embarrassment?

Would I call her fat?

Would I blame her for the fact she resorted to sticking two fingers down her throat?

Would I tell her that her eating disorder was all her fault?

Or would I understand? Would I accept that her surroundings had caused her to act in ways that she felt ashamed of?

What would I say to her?

I told her she was beautiful. I told her she had gone through so much pain, had fought so many demons that she should be proud. I told her that she needed to keep going, that it would all be alright in the end because she had people who cared about her, people willing to take as much time as she needed to get better. I told her she wasn’t fat and that she could lose weight healthily. I told her she was better than what everyone had told her, that it wasn’t her fault. I told her it was a mental disorder and there was nothing to be ashamed of. That she wasn’t broken but rather a work in progress.

I told her it would get better. That she wasn’t to blame.

There was a piece of cloth behind the chair and he moved it. My eyes were so blurry, I hadn’t even seen it. The mirror behind it was revealed and I was looking right into my own eyes. Tears running down my face but there I was almost ready to crack a smile when I saw me. I would have hugged myself if I could have done. I would have picked myself up and squeezed so tight, whispering that everything was going to be alright.

That’s when I realised.

I’m not to blame.

Special

img_6057

I’ve written it before and I’m about to write it again. Over-achiever, Striver, Never-Satisfied, whatever you want to call it, I am it and once again it came up in my therapy session to discuss why we think i’m still relapsing.

It all came down to something quite straightforward, something I’ve briefly touched upon occasionally in this blog.

I’m not special anymore.

And I want to feel special.

But I’m not.

I’m no longer the athlete with World Records to her name. I’m never going to hear my name announced or have other athletes look up to me when I give speeches. I’m nothing anymore. I’m a nobody. A has-been. I feel invisible, I feel like every other person walking down the street and I hate that. Not from an arrogant perspective but from the perspective of the person who always used to stand out.

I’m no longer doing something that no other law student has managed to do. I’m no longer being asked how training is or how my last competition went. I’m no longer a role model, I’m no longer anything worth mentioning.

I’m just normal. And I can’t stand it. I’m not happy simply being me and I don’t know how to accept that I simply am me. This is who I am right now but I can’t accept it. I wont accept it.

Being the best in sport kept me sane (to a certain extent).

Initially, it made me feel better about my weight, better about the bullies, better about me. I was able to say they were all simply jealous of me, but not anymore. Not now. Not ever again. I’m fat but I’m not an international athlete. I don’t have that status to cover up the issues I bury deep inside me.

I want to be special. I want, to a certain extent, to be admired.

Always second best, never even equal to my brother growing up. Bullied. Called stupid and fat by ‘friends’ and teachers and coaches alike. Never allowed to be satisfied with just being me. So i always pushed for more and I most definitely still do. I was never good enough for anyone so I reached for high grades, good university and challenging career. I pushed to become a better athlete and to win more medals, break more records.

I pushed to lose weight.

To become that ‘ideal’ I needed to be, at least, what I thought I needed to be, but it was never good enough. No one ever praised me or let me enjoy any success. It always had to be more. One more percent, one more second, one more pound. Never allowed to be satisfied with me. Never allowed to let myself be happy with me.

Always second best. Never good enough. And now I’ve lost something that, whilst contributed greatly to my eating disorder, still kept me happy…well…it didn’t did it. Thats a lie. This year it didn’t make me happy and thats why I left. But theres that voice lying to me in my head telling me that if I go back I’ll be happy again.

I know thats not true.

Problem is, I don’t like me at the moment, and I don’t know how to make myself like me at all.

Old Habits Die Hard

When did it start? If I’m honest, there were a few times towards the end of my first year of uni that I made myself sick. Never enough to be a habit though. Just after a cheat meal to make myself feel less guilty for the foods I wasn’t meant to eat. It was a cheat day but I wanted to punish myself and thought that I’d soon associate bad food with being sick and that in order to not be sick I’d stop eating the bad food.

Didn’t quite work like that did it? Eventually it didn’t stop me eating the bad food but ended up justifying it because I’d go get rid of it later. It didn’t even only apply to bad food, but even healthy food didn’t stay down long.

The purging really took hold towards the end of my second year though, when I started living alone…after the London team had been announced…I remember thinking that my two week summer break would help. That I had developed a bad routine of being sick. A bad habit. And that having two weeks with my mum would make me stop it. I was obsessed on that holiday though…I took my scales…who takes their scales on holiday? A girl with an eating disorder that is…I refused to admit I had issues, even mum just thought I was being careful so that I went back to training in the best shape I could whilst enjoying my break from training.

So that was the end of 2012, vomiting on and off but nothing to make it frequent in my opinion. It really was just when I’d over indulged or felt too full. Compensating for slip ups. Eating super healthy then getting rid of my cheat day. As if it had never existed.

I remember googling eating disorders but convinced myself I didn’t have one. I

I convinced myself I was in control.

That I could eat three meals a day.

That I could stop purging whenever I wanted to.

But that wasn’t true. I look back now and I was so wrong. I lied to myself, thinking it would all be okay. Then again, the first person I sought help from did say to me, “well, if that’s what you want to do then do it, I’m too busy to worry about you”

Someone who was supposed to care clearly didn’t. I reached out for help because I was scared. I was scared I had an eating disorder and I didn’t know what to do. I was hurting and in pain. It sounds stupid but I was confused. I didn’t want to believe I had one, I mean, how could I? I was fat dumpling Eleni. I had always been and I was always going to be. No one would believe I had a problem. Why would they? And if the first person I asked for help made me feel smaller than all the bullies had done. I wasn’t worth helping. I wasn’t worth anything.

He was wrong. I’m worth so much more than I ever thought.

But I keep falling back. When I’m alone I just slip and sometimes I don’t know if I even try to hold myself up. I was rejected from a law firm I really wanted to secure today and I was alone. Just arrived in London for an assessment day with a different firm and alone. Wasn’t even in Manchester and able to postpone my journey down so that I could see someone who cared. I feel like a let down. I’ve failed in swimming and failed in that. But I know it’s not true. I haven’t failed and for some strange reason I’m not too upset.

It’s hard to explain. But it’s the reminders that burn. I’m alone and down and all I want to do is eat and be sick. The purging gives me a sense of release and relief and I feel better afterwards. Calmer. In control. Constantly seeking that control. The urge to control everything that becomes my sole focus following anything that’s not in my control. I’m just reminded of how I felt after every team I didn’t make, every grade I didn’t secure and I just want to purge. I don’t won’t to binge, I just want to eat something I don’t usually let myself eat and then get rid. Let myself have that comfort and then punish myself for being out of control.

I’ve slipped up a lot the past two weeks and I’m trying to get a grip on everything. I feel like I’ve let everyone down by falling back today. I should be strong enough on my own, but right now I’m not. Right now I’m strong with people around me and to be honest, there was a time when I wasn’t strong when I was with others. Many a day went by when I threw up in training or during uni time. So in some respects, I’ve made great progress there but not so much on my own.

I hate being so dependent on them. I feel they’re going to reject me one day, that I won’t be worth their help or, worse, that they simply won’t want to help me. I thought that securing a training contract would have made this sporting failure of a year something decent. I’ve lost Rio. I need to have a training contract. I can’t lose two futures. I can barely cope losing one future. Please, not another. I’ve lost my sporting career. I don’t want to have failed to secure a legal career.

I thought I was fine but I’m not. And there’s that voice.

“At least if you were slim you’d be happy. You’re fat. You’re a crap athlete and you’ve no chance of being a lawyer. No wonder no one wants you. No ones ever wanted you. You’re fat.”

I’ve focused so hard on these applications that I’ve not trained and my weight has gone up. This summer was meant to be spent getting in shape, but I’ve not and I feel like a failure. I’m so focused on doing well tomorrow but I have so much riding on everything and that’s probably where I’m wrong. Too many of my body confidence issues were dependent on Rio. I thought if I made Rio I’d be happy about my weight but that’s probably not true. I probably would have been under even more pressure. So when that was taken from me I focused on the education side of things. Judging my self worth based on grades and progress with these applications.

I feel they’ll be mad at me. I’m scared to tell them. Scared to say those words. To admit I’ve fallen. To say I’ve failed at something else. One big failure.

You can tell me I’m not. I mean, I know I’m not, but right now I won’t see it.

I’m close to breaking it, but old habits die hard.

Raw

They wanted to weigh me and I hadn’t anticipated that. They sat me down and oh so casually said they needed my weight

I haven’t seen my weight for more than two months and the instant panic made it impossible to speak, I could have told them I didn’t want to see it, or that maybe I didn’t have to, but I couldn’t. So I got up and I stood on the scales.

64.5kg

That’s what the skinny girl weighing me called out.

And the voices came running. The pain struck me and all I wanted to do was cry. I’m sat in the waiting room waiting for the consultant and the tears are burning, trying to burst and run down my face.

I haven’t seen my weight for more than two months and all those doubts were right. I’m fat. I’ve gained weight and I’m so fat. I need to lose it. I knew I needed to lose it but I ignored the voices and let myself eat. I allowed myself to eat similar amounts to everyone else and whilst I haven’t trained I have paid for it. Oh have I paid for all that over indulgence and wrong choices.

Why did I eat what I ate?

Why did I drink what I drank?

Why did I not train as much?

It’s my fault. I’ve gained so much weight and its all my fault. I feel numb and broken inside and it hurts. When that number was called out I felt as if a thousand knives stabbed me at once.

I just felt raw.

I felt the self-hatred come back. It seethed through my body and it burned my insides. My head started spinning and I had a lump in my throat. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I almost didn’t want to breathe as if I could pretend I wasn’t there. As if I could pretend it wasn’t true, but it was. Almost 65kg and yeah I had my clothes on, but that doesn’t really add much on, does it?

No point hiding from the fact that I’m fat. No point trying to comfort myself and soften the blow that I’m so fat right now. Its blatantly obvious. No point denying it.

One year since things went downhill with swimming and I’ve gained 9kg.

I feel like a disgrace and I need to get my anger out. I just want to scream and shout and just cry…I just really want to curl up and cry away all the pain.

As if crying would make it better anyway.

I can’t even describe how I’m feeling with my words in any sense that is actually an adequate representation. All I know is that I am fat and it hurts. I used to be 55kg and I want to be that weight again. I don’t care if I was purging at that weight, I just want to get there without purging.

I want to be that tiny girl again.

I need to be slim. I need to be better than what I am and I want it now. I don’t like feeling this hurt, I don’t like the pain that burns in my head and my body and I’m sick. I’m sick of being this mess. I’m sick of my life revolving around my weight and the sooner I sort it out the better.

I feel so raw.

I need to sort it out.

I feel so numb.

I just need to lose weight.

I feel so broken.

I just need to be slim again, that small again

I’m so scared that I can’t do it. I’m so frightened that I am always going to be this fat.

I want to do it healthily but I’m scared that that option won’t work.

I just feel empty inside. I feel so hurt and depressed when I look at myself. I want to be more than this. I want to be slimmer.

I feel so broken and numb, but it doesn’t feel like there’s anything I can do about it.

10622858_10154935875380104_6839318545308918479_n

Sorry

“She said sorry too often. She apologised for apologising too much. She said sorry like it was a greeting. She apologised for everything that went wrong, because she labelled herself a disaster. She was sorry for not being good enough, because no one ever told her she was good enough. No one ever told her that she was something more than the mess inside her head and the tsunami inside her heart. So all she learned was to apologise for every single breath that she took.”