This isn’t what I wanted for my life 

I go to bed tonight with a sore throat, a heavy heart, wet eyes and bleeding skin.

This isn’t what I wanted for my life. I thought I was stronger than this right now. I thought if I kept fighting it would be okay.

I know this is just a knock. I know it’s a bad day, a bad night. I know I will wake up tomorrow regretful but renewed. I know I will keep going, but right now I can’t help but think that this is not what I wanted for my life. It doesn’t matter though, what I think tonight, what matters is tomorrow morning getting up and facing it all again. 

I will wake up in the morning and face it all again because that is what recovery is, step by step, day by day. What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while, and everyday I shall try. 

Tonight will pass and tomorrow will come, at least I can be sure of that.

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Give it time 

On Monday 18th January 1993 I declared in my first ever diary that I was too fat and I was going on a diet. (In fact I wrote ‘I’m to fat’ – clearly I wasn’t proof reading my entries!)

That statement was the beginning of a near-lifetime experience of disordered eating. 24 years have passed -which is probably more than a lifetime for some of you- and I am still working on recovery. 

It’s taking a while, I have sprints and bursts, and then pauses and set backs. I’ve taken some diversions along the way. I’ve thrown myself in fully, then pulled myself right back out and run and hid. However I can say that for the past few years I have been really trying. I don’t even know what the destination is somedays, what will recovery will look like for me?,  but I know I’m working towards something that is better than before. 

I owe it to the young scared version of myself to aim for a life without fear of food and hatred of my body. I can’t re-do the past years but I can set the tone for the next however many I am lucky to get. 

I’m prepared to be patient and to give it time. I gave ED so many years, why would I not commit to giving recovery the same? However tired I am of fighting, it’s still a better day than without trying. 

So on Wenesday 28th June 2017 I shall declare not that I’m too fat, but that I’m too determined to not see this through. Recovery- I shall give you all the time that it needs. 

(And now I shall go meet my friends for pizza and wine because when you can do that on a Wednesday for £10 why would you not?!) 

A nugget of gold from my counsellor 

I’ve been lying low the last few weeks which generally means I haven’t been having a great time- just the usual low mood eating disorder crap coupled with horrendous body image as I have gained some (necessary, according to my counsellor) weight. I felt like I was just stuck in the same kind of place I’d been in before and with nothing new to share about it, just needed to ride it out and hope it passed. 

I had a much needed session with my counsellor yesterday and she has managed to inspire a kindling of fighting spirit. She reminded me that all the horrible voices are thoughts are part of the illness and while they might grow stronger as I fight them, recovery will be what eventually silences them.

I talked about how awful I feel at what might be my set point and how I don’t think I can tolerate being there, that I have too many bad memories of feeling so rubbish about my body and about how out of control I felt that I didn’t see the point in getting there to bring that all back- if I’m going to feel rubbish I would prefer to be a lower weight and rubbish. 

But then came the nugget of gold wisdom from her- she reminded me that I have never been well at that weight before. So while I have been at that weight maybe about 4 times, at all of them I was still purging, or bingeing and purging. I have had this eating disorder for 20+ years now, really my body doesn’t know what it feels like to be well for any extended period of time, I can’t predict that I will feel the same as I did before as it won’t be the same as it was before, I wasn’t structured eating, I wasn’t not binging, I wasn’t not purging, I wasn’t not restricting. 

This little fact gave me hope that maybe things will be different this time and that I need to keep trusting the process and be open to the possibility that maybe after all of this things will be okay. I just needed something to cling on to to convince myself to keep going and I think she provided it in that once sentence. I need to remain optimistic that maybe I can gain weight and actually be okay with it. Eek!

The carbs with every meal experiment

I had my official weigh in today and the 20 or so Nak’d bars I ate over the last few weeks have made no difference- which shows the experiment worked- the worst is not necessarily going to happen!

The challenge for the next two weeks is carbs at every meal. I’ve been managing this for the most part recently (it took a long long long time- years- but I have finally un-demonised carbs-well, most of them) but never consistently, usually 2 meals out of 3 in a day, or a run of few days but then a few blips.

The aim is to have carbs with every meal for the next two weeks, so 41 meals, 41 opportunities to show I can do it. And then at my next appointment I will see the impact on my weight. I’m not worried about portion sizes, that will come later down the line, for now just need to have carbs on my plate and then in my belly 🙂

This may result in some weight gain, my counsellor has prepared me for that, as I’m adding it to my meal plan on top of everything else, but the experiment is to see how much impact it really makes, and to see how I deal with this.

In between this I’m only to weigh myself once (she wanted no weighing but I’m a fierce negotiator when I want to be!)

Anyone else challenging any ED beliefs/thoughts these days?

Why am I running? What are my reasons to run?

So today I ran a marathon. Eek. I’m a bit worried about announcing that to the world (or WordPress!) as most of you know that marathons and EDs don’t mix.

But I have to explain. This time last year my friend asked me to pace her around Belfast.  I had just had my not-a-marathon experience and was unsure if I’d ever reach the distance again but said if I was well I would. I was well before Christmas, then the break up stuff happened and ED stuff got harder but my running remained slow but consistent so I agreed. I said I would help get her to the start line, and to half way and we’d see after that.

What happened was that we ran strong together until mile 22 and then i started to struggle. She said she’d wait for me but I was very clear- this was her run, her goal was to do her best, my goal was to help her do her best. I let her go saying I would catch up but after a little while I realised I really wasn’t well enough for it. For a mile I agonised over knowing I was going to miss an hour marker, but then I just felt so sick I had to stop, and I thought to myself, why am I running? What are my reasons to run? 

No. 1 was to get my friend to the start line, to the half way and to mile 20. I did that.

No2. was to enjoy the training and to not let it make me feel bad. I did that.

No. 3 i couldn’t think of a number 3. Those were my reasons why and they were great reasons. I had met my goals, and now needed to show off what I have learnt about being kind to myself, about being okay with not meeting my ridiculous expectations, about being able to enjoy the moment. 

So I slowed down, and finished 13 minutes slower than my friend, and 3 minutes slower than I would have liked. But I crossed the finish line thinking, who cares? I did good today. People can think I’m making excuses all I like, but it was better for me that I slowed down than I pushed through. I have shown I can learn. 

Yes this journey through ED is taking me far longer than I would have liked. Yes I feel like I’m taking all the detours. Yes I doubt that I will get there. But I will keep on trying and I feel damn good about that. Today I ran a marathon, not ED, not self-hate, not self criticism, just me and my feeling great about me self! 

Recovery after so many years is a long and winding road, but as long as I’m still on it and facing the right direction I figure I have got this. 

I have got this.

And now sleep! Zzzzzz 😉 

Learning the difference between can’t and won’t

I had a really challenging session with my counsellor a couple of weeks ago. She asked me how my motivation levels are, which she always starts with I guess to gauge where I’m at. I’d had a rough couple of weeks and there had been some discussion of discharge to give me a break as I was struggling mood-wise. At this session though I was ready to keep fighting and told her that I was committed, that I trusted her and I would do what was necessary to make the most of this opportunity with her.

She asked me how often I had been weighing myself. I said, sheepishly, a few times a day. She said that I needed to get rid of the scales or limit that to once a week. I moaned but I can’t” and started to launch into all the reasons why. She stopped me though and said you can it will just be hard so you won’t”. Harsh, but true. There is no real reason why I can’t do that except that it will make me feel anxious and terrified, and the fact is that I can’t recover without going through a period of feeling anxious and terrified.

We then moved onto meal planning and that I need to be following the meal snack meal snack meal structure with no excuses and need to be planning it the night before. Again, I said “I can’t” and gave my reasons why. She interrupted me though, as she has heard all these excuses before and told me “you can, and this is the only way you will recover, so if you’re deciding you won’t then you need to think about the choice you are making”. Again, harsh but true. I’ll say at this point that my counsellor knows her sh*t and she has been very tolerant and understanding, and will offer whatever support I need for recovery, but she is very clear that she won’t collude with my eating disorder as her job is to help me recover. This is exactly the type of person you need by your side in recovery.

She was was right of course, I can meal plan. I can take 30 mins of everyday to sit down and write out my meals for the next day. I can choose going to the supermarket over watching netflix. I can run less so I’m not too exhausted to cook. I can add carbohydrates to each meal. All of this is within my control, but it involves acknowledging that sometimes I just won’t. 

Eating disorders are a b**ch of an illness. It is not fair that I have one and it is not fair that I have to fight through the terror to get better. But it is a fact that I have to go through that terror if I want to come out the other side, and I do want that. I want a life free from ED. So I am learning the difference between can’t and won’t, and being firm but gentle with myself as I do that.

“It’s not a safe food”

I had a very honest moment with my friend today. She bought us ‘breakfast muffins’ for breakfast this morning. I looked at them and had the immediate panic of do I a) refuse and it be awkward 2) eat and purge 3) eat and try not purge 4) eat some of it and then panic about eating the rest 5) eat some of it, then binge later as the resisting was too much, and then purge….. and so on and so on….

She noticed my face and asked if I didn’t like them – I was going to say no but before I could, I admitted that I did. She said have one then – so I said I would have a small piece. She said no have a whole one and before I knew it I was saying ‘it’s not a safe food’.

She asked me what that meant (aside- imagine a world where safe foods/ danger foods do not exist!What?!) and I paused and then admitted- it’s the kind of thing that I would eat 10 off and then need to be sick. She looked shocked. I guess understanding it in theory and me saying it out loud is different. She asked me should she not eat such stuff in front of me, or not offer it to me. That made me sad, as while that would avoid the issue for now that is not real life. I told her that me learning to eat just a little is a good thing.

It was sobering to realise that purging is so shocking to some people, and yet so mundane to me. I don’t want purging to be part of my life- or at most the smallest part as I can make it. It was mortifying to admit out loud that I would binge (although I still avoided using that word) but it was important too.

I am not a lesser person because I have binged. I am not a lesser person because I have purged. I am doing my best with what circumstances I find myself in. That is all I can do at any one time.

But I do want to take this moment to say to any of you that is ashamed of your binging and/or your purging. This is an illness. It is not a weakness. I am not judging you – because judging myself would not be helpful. It is not our fault we have the urges, but it is within us to change things. Sufficient consistent eating, everything in moderation, self-care, reaching out…we are worth it.