Life 

I’ve been quiet the last while as life has been happening around me. There’s been a birth and a death, a lot of driving and a lack of sleep. Food has been eratic (on the side of too much I think but that’s probably better than too little) but life is happening and I’m involved in it- this is positive! 

Hope you are all well x

Home home

I’m home home and it’s so lovely. The UK is my home, but Ireland is my home home (do other people use this phrase?!) and it’s really nice to have a few days here to chill with my Mum and catch up with friends. It’s hard living across two countries and sometimes I wish I could make everyone come together in one place so I could be close to everyone, but then at the same time it’s lovely having family in a few different places so I always have somewhere to visit. I know my Mum would like me to move back to live near her, and we have had endless discussions/negotiations/tears/words over this but it’s not the right thing for me and my life right now. It makes me feel guilty and selfish sometimes but looking after my needs is important (it’s taken me a long time to be able to say that!).

I started the day with my favourite thing to do at home which is sea swim. It was cold but not as freezing as I was expecting- just the right amount of ‘refreshing’!. This was followed up by brunch with friends, coffee with my friend’s new (gorgeous) baby and a walk with Mum. It was a really lovely day so I’m trying to not ruin it now by purging but I’m feeling horribly full so I’m not sure how long I’ll last. I always seems to overeat when I’m home to make a point to Mum that ‘look I’m eating I’m all well’ but the only outcome of this really is that I end up purging more when I’m home. It’s ridiculous really and I know I’ll have to address this at some point but that will be a goal for the future- one step at a time, recovery is a marathon not a sprint (and I’m far better at marathons than sprinting anyway!).

The freedom to choose

Before I start to write anything about choice in recovery I really can’t emphasise enough that I do not support the outdated notion that EDs are a choice. I first developed an ED as a child before I had even heard of the terms anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS etc. There was no internet, no social media (think makes me sound ancient!) but there was very definitely an intrusive voice that told me that losing weight needed to be my life’s priority – this was not a choice and I refuse to blame my 9 year old self for listening to that voice- it wasn’t a ‘choice’.

However, where I’m at now with my ED, the word ‘choice’ means something different. I recently had a good ol’ moan about my wobbly body and a lovely reader made the sensible comment that I could do more exercise and eat more to adjust for this if I wanted to. They’re right- this is one option, and I love to get practical suggestions for when I’m a bit stuck.

However, when I read this comment I thought to myself ‘when would I fit in more exercise? Something else (sleep, hanging out with boyf, study) would have to go’ ‘How would I possibly manage to eat even more food?’ ‘My nurse wouldn’t approve of that’ If I did that I’d be tired for run club sessions’ and various other thoughts. This made me realise that my rational-wants recovery-knows it’s worth it-voice is alive and well, and with that came the realisation that things have shifted, I have made a huge leap in progress and that actually maybe I am going to BE OK.

The other thing I realised was that I was in a position to make a choice about my reaction to the wobble. One of these choices is as above: adding in some exercise and eating more to compensate. Another is trusting the process that my brain will catch up with my new body. And then of course there is the option that I cut back on calories and increase exercise.

Being able to see these various choices and reflect on them is a massive step in my recovery too. When I was trapped ‘down there’ with my ED I could never see alternatives. I could only ever see the route that kept me tired, cold, miserable and ill. I didn’t choose the destructive path because I didn’t understand that a different one existed. I couldn’t see anything else so it never felt like a choice, it was just the way things were and the way things felt like they would always be.

It took desperation for me to seek help. I don’t think I knew at the time that I was looking for another path, I just knew I couldn’t stay where I was. It took nutrition to start laying the paving stones for my alternative route. It took painful conversations, many tears, terrifying leaps of faith (and probably my medication if I’m honest!) for to be in the space that I could even begin to ‘choose’ to make better decisions.

My world is far brighter and has far more paths in it that the dark ED world I used to live in. I may not always make the right choices, but for now I am thankful that I am in the position and I have the freedom to choose.

Wobbly

My body is wobbly. It’s always been wobbly and I’ve hated it for that. The last few years though I was on top of the wobbliness, but I know that was in a way that wasn’t healthy. Now I’m healthy, but I’m wobbly.

I’m now a bit stuck, because I’m wobbly again and I hate it. I cried in the car home today because someone posted a picture of a race and I look HUGE in it. This is the second photo in a week that I have seen of myself and wanted to hurt myself over. I’m going bridesmaid dress shopping in a few weeks and I’m dreading it: it should be a special day for my friend but I don’t know how I’m going to cope with being in front of a mirror with her pretending I’m not disgusted by what I see.

The thing is that I only know one way to deal with this. I know that dropping my calories and upping my exercise would do the trick if I gave it enough time. However I also know that that is also a surefire way to let ED back into my life (if it’s not already ED talking).

What’s the alternative? This is a genuine question as I really do not know! Do I just stay like this and hope for a miracle that at some point I will stop hating it? Do I compromise and try and ‘tone up’ a little?

I know I don’t need to lose weight. I also kind of know that I need to not lose weight. Yet I really don’t want to have to spend all day worrying about my wobble.

I’m a bit stuck, and my wobbly outside is making me wobbly inside! I’m hoping a good nights sleep will help. zzzzz

Understanding the purging

It’s 4am here so apologies in advance for my lengthy ramblings! I can’t sleep!

I spoke with my nurse last week about my purging. It was a hard conversation as I find it excruciatingly painful to admit that I feel no control around food and that I am overeating or eating things that I know I will just purge but don’t have the power to not eat (for the most part I do this with my head in my hands on the table as I can’t even look at her!). It was difficult to explain how my mind can know eating something is a bad idea but then to do it anyway. I can never seem to get across how my mind seems to shut down and suddenly the food is in my mouth, I feel sick and purging happens.

She tried the ‘sit with the feelings’ route again and I’m sure it’s frustrating for her that I cannot seems to do this. At a certain point I can, for example if I ate two biscuits I could cope with it, but if I’ve eaten four, six or a whole packet then there is no way this is going to happen. This says to her that it is a psychological thing and that there’s a critical amount which I can deal with; I agree with this somewhat but there is also the physical issue that a whole pack of biscuits does not make one feel well and that purging relieves that.

The solution to this it to stop eating at that point that I cross into ‘need to purge’ territory. But this comes back to the original problem- I can’t! I began crying at this point as it’s not fun to admit out loud what a fat horrible greedy person I really am. Bless my nurse though she didn’t engage in that talk and instead rationally worked through the issues.

  1. Eliminate hunger: She’s not convinced that sometimes the cause of my overeating is not simply hunger. I disagree as I am eating plenty (probably about twice as many calories daily as I ever ate before) but there is a chance that sometimes my exercising (i.e. long runs) might be putting my at a deficit. I’m reluctant to make up all these calories as if I’m maintaining as I am surely I would put on weight if I did?
  2. Food is food, not good or bad: Basically anything that’s not vegetables is still an unsafe food. This doesn’t mean I don’t eat them, I do, and I enjoy them and they are a part of my life now, but somewhere in the depths of my mind an alarm goes off when I think I’ve overstepped the mark with ‘bad’ foods. I’m unlikely to need to binge and purge after a grapefruit but a handful of chocolate peanuts and things go crazy. I need to see food as food and leave it at that.
  3. Be flexible and have confidence: Unsurprisingly I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. It’s no chocolate peanuts or the whole bag, it’s one allowed slice of toast and anymore then the whole day is ruined,  it’s three meals and three snacks or grazing and purging all day… While I need to be focused on what I was eating and when in the beginning to eliminate hunger and introduce new foods (see 1 and 2!) she now thinks I need to be more flexible with this and start to trust myself. It’s okay for me to eat apple crumble after a long run and then have lunch later. It’s okay for me to have cake at work and then leave have a smaller dinner if not as hungry. If I get too full then I need to stop eating and then can have more later if I want. I need to be able to stop and think ‘Am I hungry? Is this what I need or is it something else?’ This is a tricky one as it’s a fine line between being flexible and restricting but in terms of purging I need to be able to identify how my body is feeling and learn that if I don’t eat something now that doesn’t mean I can’t ever have it again.
  4. Reframe willpower: I refer to willpower a lot when it comes to food and behaviours. I often say I wish I had more willpower around food and then I wouldn’t be in this mess. However I only associate willpower with not eating. So skipping a meal is willpower, refusing a chocolate is willpower, reducing portions is willpower. I never associate not purging or eating a fear food with willpower though- only things that are related to weigh toss take willpower- which is ridiculous! Being flexible and confident in listening to my body is actually where it’s at- that’s what I need to be thinking about, not willpower. If I make it about willpower I’m setting myself up to fail as it takes huge amounts of effort; yet if I make it about what my body needs that I let sense take over.

As always I think this is going to be easier said than done but I’m determined to give these steps a try and see what happens. I have three weeks until my next appointment so if I can cut down my purging somewhat I’ll be pleased.

Not three four and five

I’ve purged the last three days. I’m realising that tackling this behaviour might be harder than I thought. I’ve done it before, last year before my old nurse left I made nearly 4 weeks, and cut down a lot after that, so I know it’s possible but I’m really struggling with managing it right now.

I know I need to take baby steps and aim for small successes rather than a long stretch with no purging at all so it’s good that in the last week I managed 2 purge free days. My doctor used to say that it’s just about cutting down so it eventually gets phased out so if I can aim for 3 purge free days next week then I need to be happy with that.

It’s just very frustrating to have got to this weight, and managed to maintain it, but then still be stuck with horrible ED behaviours. I have a nurse appointment this week, my first in six weeks, so hopefully we can come up with some way of addressing it together.

Recovery needs to become my focus again, I need to make sure I’m choosing it everyday and I need to prioritise it above everything else. I’m so fed up of having to do that but if I really want to stop purging then I know it’s the only way. It’s just hard hard work sometimes and I am just a little tired from having to continually fight myself.

Step one is to get to make lunch and breakfast for tomorrow, get to bed at a reasonable time and go for a swim in the morning as I know that’s a good way to start my week. That’s all I need to focus on managing right now. One step at a time…

Nearly two

I’m sitting in the library debating whether to go get a cup of tea or whether that might lead to me buying chocolate and then purging.  I’m nearly at day two so I’d quite like that not to happen. You’d think it would be in my control but that’s not always the case unfortunately!

I’m having a mixed day. I’ve been up since 4.30am  and it’s now 8pm but I’m in one of those ‘too afraid to stop and where will my mind go’ moods so I’m hiding in the library until I exhaust myself. I couldn’t face going home as I didn’t want to have to talk to anyone. I’m having a productive day study wise but then I got some negative feedback so that threw my a little, although I’ve been trying very hard to not take it personally and to let the negative feelings drift off down the river…. (check out my mindfulness attempt!). I’m also waiting for a colleague to get back to me about a small grant application that needs to be submitted tomorrow: they know that’s the deadline so they should reply but I’m getting anxious that they won’t leading me to obsessively check my inbox. I’ve also had two friends want to text/ talk about some stuff they’re going through, and while I really want to be there for them, my capacity for that has been pretty reduced today, I tried my best but I’m hoping I didn’t across too tired and grumpy.

I am just tired and grumpy I guess! Hopefully that cuppa will help and then I’ll finish my work, walk home, put on a podcast and say good night to day two and my ‘meh’ ness!

Hope you all had a good day, and if not that you sleep well and have energy to start again tomorrow x