A near miss

I just nearly got caught purging after a mini-binge. Probably one of the closest misses I’ve had. I was in the bathroom finishing when I heard my mum get home. The evidence was on my bed still, had she not being bringing in the shopping I would have been caught. 

I was racking my brains for a lie and realised I couldn’t come up with one. There was a split second when I thought I would just have to admit it and whatever fall-out would come, would come. But then I heard her go back out to the car and I had time to cover my tracks. 

She’s gone straight out again now, leaving me to unpack the shopping, and calm myself down. I feel horrible, not just from the binging but from the secrecy and the deviousness that this illness brings out in me. 

I have done 3 days of full meal plan and yet I still binged. My counsellor reassures me then when I eliminate restriction the binging will stop, but it’s tough to believe it on days like this. However, I know keeping moving forward is the only way to avoid feeling like this again. For now I just need to breathe and calm down! 

My current lifestyle is not sustainable

I am exhausted. Mentally and physically. My brain hurts and my body hurts. I have kept going and going and going and I know I can’t keep it up anymore. I had a sobbing session with my counsellor today. I started crying in the waiting room and then it didn’t stop. My eating is all over the place, my stress levels are sky high. PhD stuff is freaking me out. Work is just full of people needing things from me. I am over promising and under delivering and I hate myself for it. This weekend coming is the first of 4 trips in the next 6 weeks for weddings and hen parties and christenings. (I’m so blessed to have lots of lovely friends but sometimes I wish they could spread their life events out!). I need some time to myself as I know going on like this is not sustainable. 

And yet I could make time for myself if I tried. I’m sure people would understand. I could schedule things better. I could take on less at work. I could exercise less. I could prioritise spending time food shopping and cooking. But I haven’t been, and I need to take some responsibility for the impact that is having.

I really struggle with slowing down and stopping. My experiences of when I’m not ‘go go go’ are of depression and inaction. As with so many things, I’m all or nothing. I can keep going until I need to collapse and hide. I have recognised this before and have really tried to address it, but the guilt and anxiety that come with ‘down-time’ is hard to cope with. It never feels that restful to be honest, and when I do enjoy it I feel ashamed for enjoying it. I associate action with thinness and control and effectiveness, and stillness with weakness, laziness and fatness. 

I need to accept that I’m not superwoman, that I can’t do everything and be well, and that’s okay, it is not a reflection on my strength of character, it’s just who I am. 

I’m annoyed at myself for falling down the same hole that has tripped me up before, but there’s always room for learning. I can’t make major changes right now as my calendar is how it is, but I can be aware to not make any more plans for a while until I have figured out this whole moderation thing. 

Does this need to be always on the go affect anyone else? Any tips gratefully received as always! 

Happy St Patrick’s day!

Unfortunately there’s no bank holiday in the U.K. but it seems wrong to work on St Patrick’s day so I have taken the day off, and one of my friends has come over from Ireland. We had planned a long hike in the Yorkshire dales (followed by some Guinness of course in a country pub!) but the weather is miserable, so instead we did a short walk now followed by a longer lunch! 

I’m a little anxious about a pub lunch after not a proper hike, but I know I need to move away from that mindset, indulging a little every now and again won’t change my body shape, I will not suddenly wake up unable to fit into my clothes. I’ll admit I do have a little bit of a buffer after a recent dip in weight so it does make it slightly easier to rationalise, but it’s a dangerous game to play hovering just under my set point just so I don’t feel guilty about treating myself, I can package it up anyway I want but that is restriction and it never ends well. So I shall eat my lunch (mmmmm pub chips with vinegar) and focus on enjoying time with my friend, the shelter from the rain, and the stream of paddys day’s updates from friends abroad, far better than thinking about my waistline! 

“May you always have walls for the winds,a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,and all your heart might desire”

Sunshine

It appears that Spring has arrived. I have survived another winter! It was positively warm today and it really helped my mood. I’m just a nicer person when it’s sunny! I’m more inclined to tackle life and all the things that keep me well when  there is sunshine and blue skies. Hopefully I’ll be more inclined to write too, come on sunshine, bring me inspiration…!

When the before and after don’t look so different

Eating disorder awareness week has come and gone. While I impressed by the specific focus of this year- early intervention- there is a bit of me that is relieved I can go back to my regular level of ‘awareness’ about EDs! (i.e. Well aware I have one thank you!)

Anyway, one of the issues that crops up during EDAW is the ‘before and after’ photo. It has been quite well debated this year about the value of these photos, and asking people to pause before posting to consider their reasoning for doing so (which in fairness, is often personally very valid i.e. celebrating recovery) and to think about the wider reaching consequences (i.e are others going to compare and despair). It’s good that people are talking about such things.

However, one issue which doesn’t get mentioned very much is that ‘before and after’ pictures are very much centred on anorexia-and the movement from a low BMI to a healthy BMI. What these pictures fail to do is raise awareness of a population of people with eating disorders for whom recovery might mean no significant change in their bmi, and therefore no visible difference in their bodies for before and after. 

Some of my hardest leaps in recovery have been made with very little change in my weight or body. Recovery from bulimia or atypical anorexia/ EDNOS doesn’t always come with a striking picture of ‘underweight’ to ‘healthy weight’, more often than not I imagine it is represented by ‘healthy weight’ (but struggling and suffering) to ‘healthy weight’ (not struggling and suffering as much). How do we represent this in a picture? How do we validate the experiences and the challenges of those who don’t have a skinny picture to show?

My suggestion is to use our words rather than our bodies (surely that is a good lesson for life too!). This is what my before and after looks like:

Before

  • Tired from restricting
  • Shame from binging
  • Deviousness and secrecy around purging
  • Panic over food choices and what was kept in the cupboards 
  • More focus on my body than my work or study or relationships 
  • Self-hatred. Repulsed by mirrors. Constant body pinching. Crying in gym comparing self to others or when getting dressed to go out.

After

  • Progress with my PhD (energy and focus helps)
  • A promotion (self-confidence to go for it)
  • Less time panicking about whether people could tell i’d purged
  • Eating foods I haven’t tried for years and realising I enjoy them. Keeping certain foods in the house without fear of binging on them.
  • A wonderful experience of a relationship
  • A healthy attitude to running and new friends and experiences that came with it

This isn’t an exhaustive list of before or after obviously- but I hope I’ve demonstrated that for those of us who can’t represent our suffering or our recovery in our bodies- that our experiences still count, and we too deserve awareness. 

*Please note that I am not judging the before and after photos, or people that post them, that is not my message at all, it’s just to spark a conversation about their limitations to capture all ED experiences*

Turning the volume down

Warning: slightly indulgent and self-piteous post ahead! Tiredness is talking I think!

I know there’s a lot of stuff going on in my head right now. Just general stuff about relationships, work, study, family, life. Most of it about how lucky I am with my lot (because I am), but all of it tainted by how crap I’m feeling sometimes despite my wonderful life.

I used to shut this stuff out, or off. My eating disorder replaced most of it, helping me achieve this. I would tune out the world and minimise my life to calories and weights and food and measurements. The volume on real stuff would go down and the ED voice would go up. 

I can’t seem to do that anymore: life keeps rearing both its ugly and beautiful head. I want the ED volume up, I want to be anorexic, I want to really prove that I can be ill, but it’s not working. Despite myself I am staying well- I’m doing structured eating, I’m doing self-care, I’m exercising moderately. And with that comes some acknowledgement of needing to think about other issues than ED. 

I know I should be pleased about this, it shows the steps I’ve taken towards recovery are working. Yet at the same time I’m agonising over why the scales aren’t dropping, and feeling crap that I’m healthy. 

This is such a messed up disorder. I don’t even think I’m explaining this properly. Basically, I want to be well but I feel like I need to show I was properly sick first, like it’s the last piece of the puzzle. I just never had the dramatic weight loss that is meant to come with ED, and I’m stuck moving forward while I know I never was ‘really thin’.

After years of this I’m so frustrated at myself that I was never ‘really thin’. 

Sigh. 

Ps: this is an objective evaluation as well as subjective, I have been underweight but not at the level of meeting many ED service criteria, and never that you would look at me and think ‘anorexic’. I know you don’t need to be thin to have an ED, it’s just that I would have liked to have been. 😦 

Trying out honesty

I’ve got counselling today and I’m nervous about it. I’ve had (minor) drops in weight the last few sessions and last week was a tough session facing up to it.

I don’t want to regain the weight. I will probably have to restrict to stay at this weight (lower end of bmi, not actually underweight to be clear, but underweight for me) . I’m okay with that for now. It seems like a good trade off as I’m much more comfortable at this weight. 

There is no point in me attending counselling if I have this mindset. I am already spoilt in the amount of sessions I have had. Other people would benefit more. 

However, this is a bit of a pattern of mine. Indeed this is exactly how my blog started – I got discharged for exactly the same reason. There is a little bit of me (my non-eating disordered side) that thinks I need to learn to work through this if I really want this out of my life. My eating disorder side thinks it’s a brilliant idea to stop going and while we’re at it why not lose another little bit of weight. 

It seems that just as I approach being well, my eating disorder rises up and digs its claws in. There’s something in that final letting go that I just can’t do. 

I’m going to say this to my counsellor today. I’m going to be honest. It’s all I can do as I don’t know the answer myself. I will out my trust in her as to what I should do now. I’ll keep you posted…