Alone tonight, but not in life

I’m seeing the new year in on my own tonight. I am at my Mum’s and I have the house to myself and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend this new year’s eve. I am unexpectedly single, but doing okay with that. As time passes I feel like the dust is settling and I’m liking the picture of me that is emerging from it all.

I’ve spent quite a lot of new years eves on my own as it’s not a night I typically enjoy. I had far too many drunken nights as a teenager/young adult that would end in tears because a new year didn’t mean a fresh start for me, it meant another year of my eating disorder and depression. I  have had some fab ones though, with some special ones in Sydney, Wanaka (NZ) and Madrid. Seems I enjoy them more when abroad! But when I’m at home I like being just at home and enjoying the evening myself without the weight of social expectation. However, if I’m honest some of those evenings spent alone were lonely and a little sad.

This year however I am completely confident that while I’m alone right now, I’m not alone in life. I have a wonderful family looking out for me, a ton of fabulous friends who let me cry and then make me laugh. I have a couple of professionals who are keeping me on track. I have bloggers out there in the web (yes, you!) who read my words and send me hope through theirs. Being honest with people about all the crazy in my head was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but yet it has resulted in the most rewarding and beautiful consequences. It is so freeing to be myself, mental illnesses and all. And recovery and self care and all those other efforts continue to this freedom.

So while I’m alone tonight I’m definitely not alone. And if I convince even one of you reading who are keeping their demons to themselves tonight to even consider reaching out, that might be the best new years eve ever.

Goodbye 2016, hello 2017, here’s to another year of living. x

 

 

 

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#WeDoAct – my people

There are various people in my life who have taken action against my eating disorder for me. For the day that’s in it I’d like to share with you the ones that have really made a positive difference (there are a few who have made a negative difference but I’ll save that rant for another day!). First there were my friends in school who told the guidance counsellor that I had told them I had been throwing up. I was so so so mad at them. I talked my way out of it, and stopped talking to them for a while, but then we eventually moved past it without another word to be spoken for another 10 years. They tried though, and they tolerated me being horrible to them for it.

A few years later there was a different girl in school who would make me lunch and sit with me trying to get me to eat it. She made things that she thought I would like especially which meant getting up earlier to do this especially for me which is pretty sensitive and kind now I think about it. I really tried to eat with her but it was just to prove that I could and that nothing was wrong so it didn’t last as I talked my way out of that too- but she was so good to try.

Around this time I was a member of the Something Fishy community and through this got a lot of online support. I had to log on stealthily as our computer was in our sitting room (with dial up so if the phone rang during a webchat I would cut out!!). I also IM’d (throwback thursday!) with some fishies who got me through some pretty rough patches. Was anyone here a fishie by the way?

Two years into my university course I had a bit of a meltdown and ended up spilling my guts to a friend (Y) that I was really miserable. She told me outright that she knew I had an eating disorder and that I needed to get help for it. I made it as far as two counselling sessions and one appointment with a psychiatrist but that was enough to put me off seeking help for many more years. She stuck by me though, and she regularly asks me how I am doing with ‘the food thing’ even when things seem fine, and she has a funny  way of sensing when things aren’t. She will call me straight out on any significant weight loss but she also will ask when my weight is stable which really makes a difference. I don’t feel like I have to be thin for her to know I’m struggling. She had an ED when she was younger, and then struggled again for a brief period after pregnancy, so she knows what is going on more than others, but I trust her when she says she’s okay to support me. I will never be able to express how much I love this girl.

After living in different countries for a period, I moved back to where my school friends were from. I was working in a really stressful job and my ED became visible again. One of the girls who had first expressed a concern pushed me on it one day and I ended up telling her a somewhat sanitised but fairly honest account of that yes I did have ED in school and I still struggled now. She listened and was amazing and told me I could count on her whenever, and I still do, but I tend not to talk about ED stuff with her as I had started to see a counsellor at this point and felt I had someone to offload on. We’ve never really talked about it since except for when I relapsed with restriction a couple of years ago and it was too obvious not to say- and now when I see here, which is only a couple of times a year she’ll ask me ‘how are you?’ ‘and how are you really?’ which gives me a nice opportunity to be honest.

Finally then, there are two of my friends here in the UK who, along with Y from uni, are my rocks. I kept ED a secret from them for  nearly 2 years despite numerous conversations about my friend’s brother having an ED which made for some awkward moments. Then I found out that the other friend had suffered with an ED for years when she was young and had gone through inpatient etc. before fully recovering (and yes she really is) and then going back to uni as a mature student. She was working on a research project about EDs and thats how it came up- when she told me this it seemed deceitful to not be honest with her about myself, and I couldn’t see how I would survive 6 months of research project talk without slipping up at some point. These girls have been angels and when I relapsed significantly the other year they marched me to the doctor, got me set up with the lovely nurse, have ridden the crazy ride it’s been with me, regularly ask me how I’m doing ED-wise and happiness-wise, are so sensitive about me being funny with food at times, have cooked meat free fat free calorie free everything free meals for me so I wouldn’t miss out, and understand when I bring them over batches of baking that I’m too afraid to have in the house. I honestly would not be here today without these girls.

Then of course there’s my lovely ex-nurse, my lovely ex-doctor, my seems-alright-but-still-not-sure-new doctor and my is-it-working-who-knows-but-she-hasn’t-dumped-me-yet-newish nurse.

And last but not least is the support I get from you all on wordpress. I started this blog on a whim as I felt stuck and alone, and now I have a place to go where I can read about other people fighting a similar battle and who have provided me with invaluable cheerleading and understanding. I am so thankful for you all.

I am incredibly lucky to have the supports that I do. I lived alone with ED for a very long time, over a decade, but the moment I started letting people in was the moment he started to diminish. People take action by supporting me, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Wow that was an incredibly long post- going to the gym clearly gave me a mental energy boost!

Now… tell me about your people! Or if you don’t have people, tell me if I can help you seek them out!

 

 

 

We grow

I am beyond 30 and tonight I met a 21 year old I used to babysit. We used to play games, I used to make her snacks, I used to be the grown up. Now she is the grown up. And I am really the grown up. This is it This is grown up life.

When I was 9 I couldn’t imagine being 11. Then I was 11 and couldn’t imagine being 13. Then I was 13 and couldn’t imagine being 17. Then I turned 17 and couldn’t ever imagine leaving university. Then I left university at 21 and couldn’t imagine being 25. I turned 25 and couldn’t  fathom hitting 30. You hit 30, you celebrate as if it’s your last birthday ever.

I am the grown up. I got old. I grew.  I am no longer a teenager, no longer and adolescent.When I was a pre-teen and a teen I never envisioned having an ED as a grown up. I just presumed I would outgrow it, that it was a phase, that at some point I would be done. For all of these years that I could fathom being older, I was ill. All those years.

I wish I could tell myself back then that I had to fight, that this wasn’t something I would grow out of, that this wasn’t a teenage stage. I wish I could convince my younger self that this is an illness that will shape my life in a whole load of negative ways. That the secrecy, lies, deception, cold, exhaustion would only persist. I wish I had been well enough to know that I wasn’t well

I wish I could persuade all of you who are young to start fighting now. To realise that this is not part of your identity, that this is not the biggest thing going on right now, there is a whole other life out there that is so much better than ED. I know you can’t choose, but deep down there is a part of you that can fight. Don’t listen to The Voice. Listen to life. I wish I had believed this. I wasted years, years and years of my life. Moments that are forever cemented in what I ate and what I didn’t ate. There is so much more to life than that.

I am fighting now. Every day I fight so hard. But I wish I had started earlier. Please, all of you, today is the day, start now. Seize life. ED is not worth it.

Okay, regretful rant over now! Hope you’re all hanging in there xxx

The difference between then and now

Earlier this evening I was looking at old pictures of me, and of other random people on the internet, and thinking that I would really like to lose weight. I was thinking that I’d quite like to be ‘lanky ‘again, that I’d love my bones to be visible, that it would be nice if I lost enough for people to say ‘you’ve lost weight’ or ‘wow you must be running a lot as you’re shrinking’ etc etc. I pictured it and it gave me a nice fuzzy comforting feeling inside.

I then stood up to get a cup of tea and realised my feet were like blocks of ice and I shivered. That made me think of when my whole body used to feel like a block of ice, when my joints hurt from the cold that came from within, not matter how hot it was outside. As I made my cup of tea I thought about what I would have for dinner, and it was a relief to not have to accept that the cup of tea was going to be the only thing I would allow myself that evening, which may have ended up in deprivation or binging/purging.

I made my cup of tea and then got on with things, and since then I’ve done some work, sorted out some bills, renewed my car insurance, chatted to a friend, been to the recycling centre, had dinner with my boyfriend and now I’m packing my bag for the morning before getting into bed with a book.

Sometimes the differences between illness and recovery aren’t glaring. They’re not always shocking like ‘I’ve gained X kilos’ ‘I now eat X more calories’. Sometimes the difference is a subtle as making a cup of tea, paying the bills and sorting the recycling! Before I would I think about losing weight and that would being my all consuming thought and action for an evening,  with its mission gnawing at my body. Now it’s sometimes simply a passing thought before I get on with the reality of life.

This might not seem like a large enough motivation to work towards recovery, but for me being able to be present and engage in the real, big, messy world is so much better than being trapped in the small dark ED world scrolling through photos thinking what if…

That’s my happy midweek thought!

 

 

This will be the year

I will be discharged from ED services at a healthy weight with a healthy enough mindset to keep going on my own. I will ensure my purging does not exceed 8 times a month.

I will write three chapters of my PhD.

I will PB in the marathon.

I will complete another 70.3 triathlon and enjoy it this time.

I will make an effort to be positive in work- I like my job so I should not moan about it when there, and hopefully this might spread positivity to others.

I will save 1/4 of the money needed for a house deposit to one day own my own house!

I will make more of an effort to text/ring friends, as I have some of the most amazing friendships I want to make sure they are maintained.

I will blog at least once a fortnight so that I check in with myself to see how I’m really feeling (I find sitting down to write is really good for this).

2016, I’m ready for you!

That was the year

That was the year I realised that ED recovery involved accepting the weight gain.

That was the year I realised ED recovery involved eating a range of food and a range of amounts.

That was the year my amazing ED nurse helped me on my way but then I had to say goodbye to her.

That was the year that ED shrank and other aspects of my life took over.

That was the year I got made permanent in a new job.

That was the year I got funded for two projects.

That was the year a student said I had helped her achieve her ambitions.

That was the year I set personal bests in the 5k, 10k and half marathon.

That was the year I got involved in my running club committee and made lots of new friends.

That was the year I moved in with my boyfriend.

That was the year of lovely weddings (not mine!)

That was year lots of lovely new babies were born (not to me!).

That was the year I cut my hair short.

That was the year I took a break from my PhD.

That was the year I came off my anti-depressants.

 

It was a good year, I feel lucky to have been alive to experience it all.

 

 

 

 

Saying goodbye to my GP

My GP is leaving my practice soon so today was my last appointment with her. I was a bit emotional about it beforehand as she has been so influential in helping me get to where I am now that I was feeling sad to let her go.

I first had an appointment with her about 3 years ago. I was having trouble with my pill and wanted to discuss changing it. I had chosen her as the dr to go to because I had seen that she listed eating disorders as one of her special interests. I had no intention of talking to her about eating disorders (I had had two awful experiences up to that point I had pledged to never discuss it with a GP again), but I was curious as to what she was like.

As part of my appointment she said it would be worth weighing me and I refused and said I’d prefer not to. She asked why and I said I just prefer others to not know my weight. She said that she was a dr and that it was only a number so it shouldn’t really be a big deal, but that if it was a big deal she was in a position to help me. I told her I used to have issues with ‘that kind of thing’ but they were being managed now (ahem!). She said okay and left it there, but as I was leaving said to come see her again if they ever ‘stopped being managed’ or could be ‘managed more’ (guessing she saw straight through me!).

Six months later and I was in a very bad place, I was horrendously depressed and suicidal and my ED was alive and kicking. When I told my PhD supervisor he said I needed to see the doctor to determine whether I could continue. I saw the dr and explained how I felt. She referred me to the ED service and recommended sick leave but I didn’t want to jeopardise my studies so I kept going. A month later I was worse not better so she “firmly recommended” a break from study – I was horrified. I argued that I had tried to get better before and it hadn’t worked, and she said she couldn’t promise full recovery but if even something stuck it had to be better than where I was now. She told me that there was a freedom I didn’t even know about but that was worth my aiming for.  I felt like I didn’t really have a choice but inside I think I was intensely relieved. She was fighting ED for me and it felt so good to have an ally.

I saw her every month for a while, then every two months, just quick appointments to check in. She’s helped me medically with the health complications associated with ED (anaemia, reflux, gastroparesis, IBS) and not once has judged me or blamed me. Every time I see her praises me for sticking with it, she congratulates me when I take two steps forward, understands and gently nudges me when I take three back. She never promised me full recovery, but she inspired me to believe it was possible. She has always maintained that you either have a life or an eating disorder, and I am so glad that I chose life, and so very grateful that she was there to support me during it.

I hope that you all are as lucky to have people to support you, and even more that you find the strength to choose life.