Sunday morning reflections

Well last night was not fun. I had a change of plans leaving me on my own for the night and after a stressful few weeks it all came out in a horrible binge purge self harm session along with some very messy crying. I just kept thinking that I’ve tried all the options available to me and they haven’t worked and that there is nothing that is going to help me stop feeling so down.

BUT! Now it’s daylight and I’ve slept I have a more rational viewpoint. I’m seeing my counsellor next week after a break of a few months and I have to be honest about how I’m feeling. I imagine she’s going to link it to me coming off my anti-depressants (another post!) which is a fair assumption, but I have to be prepared to explain to her why I chose that. I have to follow through with her advice about other stuff, because I can’t be declaring that it absolutely doesn’t help unless I’m actually doing it. And I should make a review appointment with my doctor because again, I can’t say it doesn’t help when I don’t actually go. Now I’m reflecting on it I am feeling a little sheepish because I am very lucky to have options.

I also have to be consistent in doing the things I do know help. I haven’t been swimming in weeks even though it’s the best form of ‘stopping the world’ for me. I’ve been running but it’s all been tied up in bad body image so while it’s exercise which should help, it’s not been the nice kind. I haven’t had enough sleep all week so I was exhausted yesterday which contributed. I’ve been doing PhD work the last few weekends without a day off, and as much as I want to be able to work like that I can’t. I also haven’t been writing or talking, so all of the nasty thoughts have just been bubbling away in me.

Having written this all down I can see pretty clearly how it all built up to yesterday, feeling pretty stupid for it catching it earlier. But what’s done is done, and I can only learn for next time. And indeed the fact that it has been so long since I’ve had a night like that is a really positive thing.

The dawn always comes. And it’s sunny now and the birds are chirping so I’m going to go out for a walk and start my day well.

Hope you’re all doing okay x

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I know there are other options

I wish these other options came with peace

I wish these other options stopped me feeling as I do

I wish these other options didn’t leave me alone in this way

I wish these other options came with solutions

I wish these other options helped. But they don’t. I get that. I really do. I wish I could stop feeling like I feel and still live a fruitful life. I know the only way out is through.

I know tomorrow will be better. I know dawn always comes.

I know I need to hang tight.

Sometimes I wish I felt more than I know

Roll on Sunday morning x

Driving with my button open

I bought new jeans last week and today is my second time wearing them. After about 20 minutes in the car I could feel the waistband pinching in to me so I opened the top button to give my belly a bit of room. My first feeling about this was disgust, that I have gained so much weight that now my jeans are too tight for me. That I’m a worthless, useless human being who just can’t keep her weight in check. These are the same brand of jean I’ve worn for the past few years so it’s not the jeans, it’s just me and my ginormous horrible belly.

Thirty minutes later with a coffee, and some time to reflect, I’m kind of laughing at myself. So what if my jeans are a bit tight? In this moment I only have a couple of options – one, deal with it and open my button when they’re feeling too tight – two, wait and see if they loosen out a little after a few wears – three, accept that I need to buy a bigger size and buy it now and suck up the wasted money or four- keep getting upset about it and let a stupid jean button dictate my life.

What a crappy option number four is. My life is far to big and full for that kind of attitude now. Who cares if I open my button when I need to? (don’t worry, modesty wise I have a long t-shirt on!) Who cares if I wear a size bigger? I want to be the type of person who accepts their body for what it is and doesn’t buy into the thin ideal. I want to show other women and girls that any body is okay, that size does not equate to worth. I can’t do that if I’m crying in my car about my top button being open.

So I’m going for option one today and in time might consider buying the next size up if needed – this feels terrifying to me – but it is a sensible solution to what is really a small problem in the grand scheme of life. Like seriously, do I want to live a life where I have to blog about the size of my jeans?!

Still learning…

 

 

 

Where I’m at

I need to break the block of writing here again so here is a list of random thoughts that are not really intended for anyone to read.

  • I gained weight to the highest amount I have ever been and I cannot cope with it. I am at a healthy weight but I can’t bear to look at myself and feeling myself in this body brings me to tears or self-harm frequently.
  • I cancelled an appointment with my counsellor two months ago and haven’t been able to bring myself to reschedule as I didn’t feel like she really understood the pain I felt at being this weight.
  • I followed this with three weeks of full on bulimia i.e. planned binges, repeated binge-purging. It felt liberating and to be honest, enjoyable, until suddenly it was not and I stated cancelling plans, got quite sick and cracked two teeth in the process.
  • I am now in the process of getting back on my meal plan and trying to acknowledge binge urges and see them just as neurological junk.
  • I would like to lose weight but it is not happening and I am trying to not fall apart due to this.
  • I have come off my anti-depressants with the help of my doctor as I felt they were making me apathetic and were no longer helping with the mood or the binge-purging anyway. I’m pleased with this decision as while I am a bit more tearful I am also being more pro-active about using other strategies to support my mood.
  • I was in a new relationship and things were all going well and we were making plans, then last week he suddenly decided he wanted a break as I didn’t have enough time for him. I’m really sad by this, but equally I can’t magic more time out of thin air and have to look after myself too.
  • I stopped running over winter as part of tackling my exercise compulsion, but in hindsight it led to quite a low mood over the winter and I won’t be experimenting with that again. It also contributed to the weight gain so you can imagine how I feel about that. I am back running now but I’m slow and unfit so currently trying to deal with the voices in my head about that.
  • I started a new job and it is great. I am still doing my PhD and that is not great.

So overall a mixed bag, lots of negative re: ED and mood, but I am present and engaged and taking ownership of it, and importantly I know I will be okay, and that bit of hope is enough to keep me swimming, however hard it might be.

“The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it” 

Woodrow T. Wilson

Sorry for the smell

TMI beware!

After thinking long and hard about the type of awareness that is important in relation EDs I have concluded that acknowledging the wind/gas issue is one of my priorities!

I’m getting back to regular eating after a bit of a blip (I let jars back into my life and have pretty much eaten toast and PB/jam/marmalade for most meals for a few weeks) and my stomach/bowels are not happy with me. I’m trying really hard to be positive but the stinkiness is trying its best to ruin my day.

I would like to apologise to all the people in my real world who have had to suffer the smells with me. I have no control over it. It sucks. It is one of the rough bits of recovery no one talks about.

So here’s my awareness raising – I’m pretty much farting my way to recovery, and yes it’s gross but I am trying not to be ashamed of it!

(But if anyone has any tips that don’t involve changing my diet please share!)

What awareness do we want to create? EDAW2018

It’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week which brings with it inevitable reflection for many of us who have experienced EDs. It’s natural for us to want to use our own stories as a means of creating awareness. This can be very useful, but it is worth spending the time thinking about how to do it in a constructive way and think about what kind of awareness our actions might actually create.

  • Posting an underweight to healthy weight before and after picture reinforces the misconception that you need to be underweight to have an eating disorder (you don’t)
  • These pictures are also likely (but not always) to be ‘most dramatic’ for those with anorexia- this reinforces the idea that anorexia is the primary/most common eating disorder (it’s not)
  • These pictures don’t create any awareness that EDs can be experienced by those in larger bodies (they can)
  • Even pictures of people of moving from ‘small’ body to larger body, or ‘regular’ size body to larger body or ‘large ‘body to larger body (basically all combinations!) suggest that EDs are just about bodies and weight (they’re not)
  • Giving details of weight, severity, calories restricted etc fuels the comparative nature of EDs for those still suffering, and could suggest to someone reading that you have to be eating a certain amount, or weight a certain amount or have experienced certain symptoms to be concerned (you don’t – EDs present in all sorts of ways)
  • Glamourising severity (however determined) may make people who developed EDs but received early intervention which worked and prevented them developing more serious presentations more reluctant in sharing their story. This therefore undoes the work that EDAW is trying to achieve- we need more stories of how early intervention worked, not less. Severity is not a badge of honour, recovery is.
  • Discussing the illness without discussing recovery does not create any awareness of how difficult recovery is, and how much support might be needed from family/ friends/ general society. Tell people about what helped, about how structured eating was necessary, about how talking about behaviours such as binging/ purging reduces shame, about how you need accountability from your support system, or whatever it is that is helpful for you. Try not to make this only food focused. 
  • Similarly to above, discuss what helps in terms of services. Being inpatient is one kind of treatment, please don’t equate this to severity and glamourise it. Discuss how you found a knowledgeable GP/ primary care doctor (after a few goes probably!). Discuss how regular appointments helped keep you on track. Discuss how recovery can be messy and stop and start. Discuss how voluntary organisations provide additional support (e.g. groups) not available elsewhere. Discuss the self-help literature which helped (and not those which might harm). And if you haven’t received any of this – discuss how this is frustrating and ask how you might be able to contribute to change. 
  • Equating recovery with muscles/ strength (i.e. photos from the gym or at home) again equates the illness with the body only, and suggests that the primary benefit of recovery is a muscular figure which diminishes all the other amazing benefits that come with recovery, not to mention the fact that many people don’t want to, or can’t achieve this physique.

Eating Disorders are horrific illnesses, those of us suffering and those caring for us know that. This week is an opportunity for us to share that with the world, but with that comes responsibility for what type of awareness we create. Please think carefully.

Okay morning rant over! I’ll also link to last year’s rant! When the before and after don’t look so different

My disorder may not be ‘culturally popular’, but it still exists

One of my recurring negative voices is “you never did anorexia probably, you were never thin enough, you were never sick enough, bulimia is an eating disorder to be embarrassed about, you couldn’t even do anorexia properly, no one cares about a bulimic etc etc etc.

I’ve never quite got rid of this voice, and while I can recognise it as not having a useful place in my life, it’s always like a low hum in the background.

Every now and again something happens to crank up the volume on it and today it was this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 19.48.16

This headline came up on my news feed (yes I need to clear my browsing history so the internet stops highlighting this stuff). It is is the relation to the the new BBC3 show ‘Overshadowed’ which while very good, and important, is the latest addition to a recent wave of anorexia shows/films.

I read it and thought to myself, you know what, actually we need to be talking about other eating disorders. We need to be talking about bulimia. We need to be talking about binge eating disorder. We need to be talking about the atypical presentations of anorexia and bulimia, we need to be talking about unspecified eating disorders.

We need to be talking about the disorders that are not a priority for treatment funding or research funding. We need to be talking about the eating disorders that the very people who suffer with them don’t even want to talk about. We need to normalise these illnesses to take away the insufferable immense deep dark shame that they can result in. I will talk about my periods of anorexia, but I won’t talk about how I would drive out of town to a supermarket to not be caught buying binge food. I will tell you about how cold I was when restricting, but we won’t discuss details of how to throw up into a plastic bag in your wardrobe without it leaking. I sought help when my weight reached a magical threshold that might make people pay attention, but no one would comment on my over-exercise if my thighs and belly are wobbling when I run. I cannot verbalise ‘I have an eating disorder’ at the moment because I am far too afraid that the response from a person who is educated by media such as above will be ‘but you’re not thin’.

Then, just to wind me up even more, I saw this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 19.48.57

Yes- it’s that hoodie. The slogan is wholly inappropriate, no one will disagree about that. Yet I’ve been more disappointed by the articles that have been written about it. I know I know these are quickly written response to capture a passing barely-news story but the fact that anorexia is the default go-to just reinforces that negative voice. Most of the stories are about how this hoody trivialises anorexia, how it’s disrespectful to people with anorexia, how anorexia is far more than self-control, about how we need to educate people about anorexia more. Throughout this, there are barely any referencing to bulimia. The hoody is far more insulting to the illness of bulimia but no one seems to want to talk about that – but is that again due to the shame that the illness can carry – that we’re far less likely to raise our hands and say ‘bulimia sucks too (and I have it)’.

Okay, rant over, I just needed to get the crazy out of my head. I know this is something I have to work on, and I’m aware the above rant is definitely not a well-researched critical appraisal of modern media- it is just my thoughts going ‘arrrrgggghhhh’.

Good night all x